faith, family

The 3000 Year Old Female Entrepreneur

No Comments 25 June 2015

Screen shot 2015-06-25 at 9.25.59 AMFemale entrepreneurs are great, but luckily they’re not a new phenomenon.  The Bible highlights a number of them. In fact, Lydia, who was the very first European Christian, was an entrepreneur in the fashion industry.  Some of Jesus friends and followers were female business owners who helped support his ministry.  My favorite is the entrepreneur in Proverbs 31, written 3,000 years ago during the time of Solomon and Israel’s golden age.  I often read to my 8 & 9-year-old daughters at night.  To help drive the verses home it helps to connect them to someone you know. I decided to show my daughters how their amazing mother is like the woman the Bible holds up as a great example as a wife, mother, and -yes- entrepreneur.

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

(Girls, I would not trade mommy for any amount of money.  One of the big reasons I married her is that I knew I could trust her.  When I met her, she was singing and making an impact on others around the world, and now she does the same through her business and writing.)

Here’s where we get into the entrepreneur section.

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
(Mommy works hard to figure out the best things to buy for her business at the best prices.)

14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
(Does Whole Food Fair Trade count?)

15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
(well…mommy is still on California time and doesn’t really get up early, but she works a lot at night.)

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
(She first started out her business doing what everyone else did, continued to do her homework, and found out she could be more successfully doing things differently than everyone else.)

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
(Mommy saved all the money she made at the beginning, so that she’d never be in debt with her business.  She never spends more than she has in the bank.)

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
(We’ll substitute essential oil glass bottles for distaffs and spindles.)

20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
(Remember, one of the first things she did was to sponsor kids in three different countries through Compassion International, and also to donate money to help women in developing countries start their own businesses.)

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
(Mommy finds creative ways to make money so you girls can take music lessons and play sports.)

26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
(Mommy has helped so many other people when it comes to their health and taking care of themselves.  Other mommies from all over the country call and email her to ask for advice.)

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
(Even on days when she doesn’t want to, she’s always working hard in helping her family and friends.)

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
(Girls, make sure to tell mommy how thankful you are for how hard she works.  And you know what? Daddy should write a blog post about mommy.  I definitely would choose her over every woman on earth.)

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
(She is definitely loves and respects God- but I still think she’s pretty good looking, though :).

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (I don’t spend too much time at the city gate, but tell her how amazing she is, and I do sing her praises on Facebook!)

Our girls have certainly taken their mommy’s example to heart.  Last summer they made a few hundred dollars walking dogs, selling lemonade and washing cars.  Not bad for girls who haven’t hit double digits in age yet.  They are blessed to have such an amazing woman to look up to, and to see she’s living up to a great example from the Bible.

Also check out:

What Jesus Did On The Worst Day of His Life

How To Be Smart Without Being Obnoxious

author, family, international, interview

Bob Goff Interviewed by Dad & Daughter

No Comments 02 February 2015

Screen shot 2015-02-02 at 10.55.44 AMMy daughter Sydney and I both got to interview Bob Goff, a very talented speaker, best-selling author, founder of Restore International, and a guy who has had many crazy adventures both in business and with his kids. Which interview do you like better?

Sydney’s Interview:

My interview:

Comment below on whose interview you like better!

P.S. I’m voting for Syd 🙂

Also check out: Syd singing “Let It Go” in a snow storm (http://bit.ly/SnowSyd)
My daughters B & Syd (with their cousins) learning how to use a fire extingquisher: (http://bit.ly/FireXTree)

family, history

7 Steps To Use Your Phone To Collect Family Stories

No Comments 15 December 2014

Zana in uniform
It’s never been easier to record stories from you family.  I’ve been doing it for years and have learned so much and heard so many wonderful tales.

Here are a few steps to follow.

1. Before the interview…

Call and talk to your subject (a relative or family member) before to ask their permission and set up a time.  Sometimes with an elderly family member, you’ll want to enlist the help of one of their children to help. My cousin Linda was a big help in collecting photographs and helping out my great aunt ahead of time.

2. Make Sure You Have Room On Your Phone.

This is basic, but easy to forget.  Make sure to clear off your phone so there is plenty of room.  You’ve completed Angry Birds Star Wars 3 times already, so you can delete and win it again.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 7.26.01 PM

3. Prep your subject on how you want to do the interview.

I recommend doing several smaller clips rather than one really long recording.  Let your interviewee know that you need to do these in shorter clips, where you’ll need to stop them every few minutes between questions.

4.  Figure out what questions you want to ask.

Here is a great list of 50 questions for oral histories: (http://genealogy.about.com/cs/oralhistory/a/interview.htm)

Francis in pharmacist school

5. Use photos to spark memories.

A picture is worth a thousands words in interviews as well.  Pick photos of events and family gatherings and ask your subject to describe

– Who was there?

– What do you remember about that day?

– Where did it take place?

– Why was it so important?

6. Ask about personality traits, pastimes, and hobbies.

One of the things that drives me is not just know birth, marriage and death dates to make a family tree, but also what made it a family.  What were people like?  What do you remember most about a person?  What did people say about him or her?  What did they do for fun?

Lana Wedding Picture

7. Download these onto your computer, cloud, or other storage space as soon as possible.

Chances are you’ve recorded things no one else in your family has.  Make sure to save them as soon as possible.  Depending on your comfort level and those of the people you’ve interviewed, you can put them on youtube either as public, unlisted or private links, and share with family and friends.  You can create a Facebook group or a free blog where you can post these as well.

Just doing these simple things can create and save memories for generations to come.

What have you done to make a family history? What has worked and hasn’t worked for you?

family, history, Italy

A Terrible (And Hilarious) Italian Easter Story

No Comments 20 April 2014

Photo from the collection of LuAnn Darin Mullikin.

Photo from the collection of LuAnn Darin Mullikin.

One of the fun parts of marrying into an Italian family is getting to know some of the traditions of people from the “Old Country” who moved here fairly recently. The Lords moved to America before it was the United States, so all the stories of adjusting to this new land are lost.

Since today is Easter, I thought I’d share an Easter story, which I think was both comical and tragic. Although I’ve never killed a goat, this seems like the type of well-intentioned thing that parents do all the time to educate their kids that turns out terribly wrong. Continue Reading

brooklyn, challenge, family, holiday, mothers day

How To Raise Kids Who Don’t Follow The Herd

No Comments 11 May 2012

Grandma Sara and Brooklyn

What better gift to give your mom on Mother’s Day than to tell her something you’ve learned from her, I ask?

“Brian, how about an iPad or something.  Wouldn’t that be a better gift?”  Well, maybe, but this is cheaper, so here goes.

One of best lessons I’ve learned from my mom is best illustrated from something that happened in 8th grade.
I really wanted these leather shoes that went a little higher up on the ankle, kind of like half-boots.  The only problem was that they were $62, which was expensive, and we didn’t have much money.  Despite this, I tried to talk my mom into getting them for me.  “They’re cool, and I really like them, and they’ll last a long time,” I reasoned with her.  And my mom was cool. If there’s something you really wanted, and you’d save for part of it yourself, she’d sacrifice and save up and buy it with you.  (For example, my younger brother Eddy really wanted a $100 bath robe, and they saved up together and he got it.  I still think he’s weird for that, though.)  However, at some point I got too impatient with the process, and uttered the words to her that were the death knell to any argument.  “But mom, all the other guys have them!”  As soon as I said it, I knew I was done.  I would never be allowed to get those shoes. My mom would never let anything like “everyone else has it” be a reason for getting something.  My mom doesn’t really get outwardly mad, but I could tell she was quietly upset that I’d even said that.  You could do things and buy things because you personally want them, because they bring you joy, because they help make you better- but never just because “everyone else is doing it.”

Syd as Grandma Sara

Because that was so ingrained, I feel it helped free my siblings and me to make decisions and act in a way that was independent to the crowds around us.  I was one of maybe 2 or 3 guys out of 100 in my fraternity that didn’t drink, one of the few guys on the football team who didn’t swear, and quite often the ‘token Christian guy’ in classes at college.  It allowed my brother Eddy to move to LA to be a model and still be himself, and my other brother Frank feel comfortable being the kid running a soundboard as a teenager with a bunch of adults.  It allowed my sister Kelly to move to Hesston, Kansas, and still avoid…well, I guess they do have herds in Hesston, Kansas, but they’re more of the bovine kind…OK, so it’s different for everyone, but you understand.

It’s not just a ‘don’t do negative things’ mindset either.  In a business sense, if I see everyone doing something one way, a little voice inside me says to ask why and see if there’s a different way.  In college, you could usually tell what a professor wanted the class to say or write in an essay, but I always wanted to give what I thought was the right answer, regardless of what the professor thought.  (Usually they won’t give you an ‘A’, but if you make your point in an entertaining way, they’ll sometimes give you a ‘B’)

You can go overboard in sort of a “If everyone else wasn’t jumping off a cliff, would you still jump?” sort of way.  You can allow yourself to get too prideful in being different just for difference sake, which is just as bad.  The idea isn’t to intentionally be like everyone, or intentionally be unlike everyone. The idea is to make decisions as yourself, regardless of what the herd is doing.

This still pays dividends as I make decisions as a husband and father.  You’ll never hear me saying or even thinking, “Well, all the other wives act this way, so my wife should act this way.”  The only thing that matters is who we are and what we should do in that particular situation.   I’m trying to get this into my 5 and 6 year-old daughters’ heads, and hopefully they’ll understand it.

So, mom, thanks for the great life lesson, and not letting me get those leather-shoe boots.  At least I know what to get you for mother’s day now.

family, history

What I’d Tell My 1990 Self (Part 2)

1 Comment 13 September 2010

You are just starting your freshman in high school, but your wife-to-be is just starting her freshman year of college.  Well played, young Brian.

Stop trying to make your main goal in life trying to hit a high percentage of the 10 Commandments or trying to be better than other people.  Just allow the Holy Spirit to live through you, you know, that whole Galatians thing.

Beware of Jacob Lytle. He’s like a human Cheshire Cat.  Sure, he’s got that big smile and it seems like he’s helping you, but he’s really just trying to get your head taken off. 

Junior year, don’t try to learn how to drive a stick on the same day as the prom, because it is really embarrassing to be sitting in front of your date’s house, trying unsuccessfully to put your dad’s car into reverse, and then having the car die about 5 times that night, making you late everywhere (seriously, nothing happened!).  By the way, Jacob Lytle, I’m taking your future-wife-who-you-don’t-really-know-too-well-at-this-point to the prom. So there. (But seriously, nothing happened.  Our future wives become friends and everything.)

Actually, go ahead and try to learn how to drive a stick with your dad.  It makes for a good embarrassing story with the car dying on the highway and all.  Plus, you’ve only got 19 years left with your dad.  Make them count.

Ask teachers and coaches what it will take to be successful in their class and on their team.  Nobody denies you’re trying really hard, but its better to try hard in the right direction.

In about a month, your friend Tim is going to make what he thinks is a sucker bet with you, but you correctly pick the biggest upset in World Series history, with the upstart Reds not only beating but sweeping the heavily favored, roided-up, defending World Series Champ Oakland A’s.  Tim will then deny the bet was official. He still owes you $4.  But not to worry- 20 years later another group of upstart Reds will sweep the heavily favored, roided-up, defending World Series Champ Yankees.

Just know that even though you’re repeatedly getting turned down for dates right now, some day you’re going to marry a tall, gorgeous, blonde haired, blue-eyed southern California girl who really loves you.  Not bad for an Indiana farm boy.

family

She’s Got A Latin Temper

No Comments 30 June 2010

I know my daughter Syd is supposed to be half English, half Italian, but I’m guessing she leans a little more toward passionate than austere.

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family

The Proposal (Happy 9th Anniversary!)

No Comments 18 June 2010

Here is the story of how I proposed to Krista. I’m secretly a romantic, and I love to create the over-the-top moment.  For my proposal to Krista, I really wanted to make it a special surprise.  Now, she knew I was going to propose- she’d already picked out the ring she wanted online- so the only surprises I could control were how and when, not if.
My plan was to propose to her at Nanny Yi and Pop Pop’s house (now my aunt Starr and uncle David’s house) in Elkhart, IN on Thanksgiving Day, 2000.  Even though the house is on one of the main streets, Pop Pop had made the large backyard into a Secret Garden of sorts. 
The entire back yard is ringed with old 40-foot high pine trees, with a green house in the back, a brick bread oven, and just a feeling like you’re in a special place.  My plan was that God would be on my side and He would make it snow, I’d take Krista on a walk back in to a spot in the pine trees where I’d have set up white Christmas lights, get down on one knee and propose.  Magic, Moment, Memories.  I called up my mom to tell her my plan, and she thought it was great.  I also called up my grandma to tell her as well.  However, I made sure not to tell my dad or my brother Frank (who was my roommate at the time) because although they’re nice guys, they have no concept of surprises or keeping secrets.  It just doesn’t exist in their brains.  Frank’s most famous story was when we were little kids, and each of us went to the YWCA to pick out a present for each other that would then be given to our sibling on Christmas morning.  Frank had only made it to the YWCA sidewalk before he turned to me and blurted out, “I got you a surprise…IT’S A CAR!”
There was a jewelry store in Kokomo where both my mom’s original wedding ring and my sister’s wedding ring had been purchased, and although Krista had picked out the band ring itself online, we’d talked about getting the stone from that store for sentimental reasons.  However, I just couldn’t figure out how I could bring the diamond-less ring to the jewelry store on Thanksgiving morning, get a stone from there fitted, and then hop back on the highway to get up to Elkhart without it being incredibly obviously to Krista what was going on.  I decided to get the diamond from the same online store as the ring, and have it delivered the Monday before Thanksgiving so I’d have it in plenty of time for the trip up to Indiana.  I didn’t share this tidbit of information with Krista, which ended up saving me big time, as we shall see.
That Monday arrived, but the ring did not. I got a call from Mondera (the online jeweler) saying that the original stone I’d picked out wasn’t available, but they would give me a slightly more valuable stone for the same price and overnight it to me.  There wasn’t much I could do, so I agreed.  That night I went home and Krista came over to watch TV with Frank and me.  We were deep into the middle of a show, with Frank sitting to my left on the futon, with Krista on my right.  No one had said anything for several minutes, when Frank suddenly blurted out, “Dad bought a bunch of film to take pictures when you give Krista the ring this weekend.”  The sentence just hung in the air as I sat there in horror.  From returned to watch the TV as if nothing had just happened.  In hoping against hope, I tried to tell myself, maybe Krista didn’t hear him. This was completely ridiculous, as any woman who is hoping for a proposal will hear the word ‘ring’ through soundproofed steel-reinforced concrete to a width of 30 feet.  I just stared ahead at the TV, and Krista did the same, although I’m sure her heart about to explode with excitement.  Nothing was said about Frank’s comment, no looks were exchanged, and Krista went home after the show.
I later found out that my grandma had told my dad, who had told my brother, who had unwittingly destroyed my best laid plans.
I arrived at work Tuesday morning in a glum mood, only to find out more bad news.  The ring would not arrive that day either.  I called up the person I’d been working with at Mondera.  He said that it had somehow been mismarked and therefore didn’t go out on Monday, but would definitely, for sure, 100% be there Wednesday.   My hopes were not high.
After some thought, I came up with an alternate idea.  I called up my mom, who liked the idea.  I swore her to secrecy, although I’m sure she would have kept it quiet anyway.
Wednesday rolled around, and finally the ring came.   It looked great, the box was cool, everything ring was finally in order.  The day before Thanksgiving is always very slow, so I had plenty of time to ponder my next move.  We had a half work day that day, and then I would head off to Krista’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving eve dinner with the Darin family, before heading up to Indiana the next morning.
I left work and began the 15 minute drive over to her parents’ house.  In my haze I somehow managed to leave the dial on a country station.  This twangy guy was sing about how he’d bought his woman a $100 ring.  Lucky guy, I thought.  Long before I’d started dating Krista back in July, I’d made a deal with myself that as soon as I paid off my car, I could by myself a flat screen TV (they were rare, new, and expensive at the time).  Instead, Krista would be wearing that plasma flat screen on her finger.
As I came into the neighborhood, I took the ring out of the box, stuck the ring in my pocket, and hid the box.  I knew that a large, square object in my pocket would give me away.  However, I was now beset by worry that even though I checked it about 10 times, there might be some hidden hole in my pocket through which I’d lose the very small but very valuable token of my love.
I went into the house and was immediately mugged by her sisters.  “So, are you picking up the ring in Indiana?  You’re going to be this weekend, right?  She’s upstairs, so you can tell us, she won’t hear.”  Frank’s little piece of intel had been heard and duly discussed at length in the Darin family.  I let my mouth say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” but I gave them a look like, “you better believe it, sister.”  There was no way I could let them into my current plan.  Even if they had wanted to keep it a secret, they couldn’t keep it inside.  Eventually Krista came down, and we all gathered in the living room.  There weren’t enough chairs, so Krista decided to sit on my lap. I was able to deftly slide the ring to the far inside of the pocket so her dainty derière wouldn’t press the sharp diamond into my leg.
We shared our stories of what we were thankful for, and then got ready to pray.  Quickly I handed my camera to Bill, and asked him to take my picture with Krista.  In my head, I knew Bill was the only person not likely to faint or otherwise lose his mind in the next five minutes, but I couldn’t tell him why I was really giving him the camera.  Instead I said, “Bill, can you take our picture?  Its kind of a family Thanksgiving tradition.” 
He took the picture and started to hand the camera back.
“Can you just hold on to it for me?” I asked.
He had a confused look on his face, but said OK. 
I’d asked Krista’s dad John if it was alright if I said the blessing, and he’d nicely agreed.  We all held hands in a circle, with Krista to my side.
“Father, thank you for this food and thank you for this day,” I began.  I then thanked Him for my family and Krista’s.  And then, with my heart beating as fast as it possibly could, I said, “and Father, please give me the strength to do what I’m about to do.”

Her entire family gasped as their heads shot up and eyes open.  I dropped down on one knee, still holding Krista’s hand.  And then her mom and sisters did exactly what anyone would naturally do in that situation- they left the room at a dead sprint.  They all wanted to capture the moment on film, but I wasn’t about to wait for them, and I’d already thought about that anyway.  I nodded to Bill, who understood, and pulled my camera out of his pocket.
I looked to Krista and said something along the lines of ‘Will you marry me’, and I’m pretty sure she said something along the lines of ‘yes’, although by that time I think my brain had gone to mush.

faith, family

Playing Catch- A Father’s Day Story

1 Comment 10 June 2010

Note- I had some friends who said this story (especially the ‘playing catch’ part at the end) really helped them in their relationship with their dad, so I’m putting it up here again for Father’s Day.

(From January 15, 2010)
My dad died today. Heart attack. He’d just turned 60 on Christmas Eve. We went over to his house that night after Christmas at Grandma’s, for our Christmas/birthday celebration, with his daughter, three sons, the married one’s spouses, and a lot of grandkids. ‘The Incredibles’ was on the TV, the kids were all laughing and playing with the self-inflating whoopee cushion, ‘Pee-paw’ (my dad) had gotten for Christmas.


We’d stayed an extra day this time around to work on a family history I was trying to put together. We’d rounded up some relatives and set to work getting started, recording stories and scanning in pictures. I am a big fan of history, but one of my big motivators is that an interest in family history is one of the things my dad and I shared, and writing this history is something I wanted to accomplish with him. Somehow it came up in the conversation that I’d gone to an expensive college, and even after scholarships, there was a lot left over. My dad had paid for the rest. I remember him telling me in passing on a college visit that he’d sold some land to make the payments, and I didn’t appreciate it at the time. A farmer selling off his land is like cutting off his leg. I’d made sure to thank him profusely this time around.


I have regrets, but I have a lot fewer than I would have had I not made some decisions about family relationships some years ago. I wanted my relationships to be as if tomorrow might not come. I wanted the people I loved to know I loved them, what I thought of them, what they meant to me. My dad knew I loved him. I’d only tell him about every third phone call because it made him a little uncomfortable, but he knew. My regrets are of a good nature. For my 9th birthday, my dad had taken down to a Reds game, and we’d tentatively planned on going back this summer. At least we’d gone to a couple MLB games before.

Tonight, our neighbor Daniel had come over for a bit, and noticed that we had a giant, heavy mirror that needed to be hung up. I caught myself before I said, “Yeah, we’ll get my dad to do it.” I’m the least handy person you’ll meet, and he’s the most. He’d helped us hang the giant mirror at our old house, and made it a point to do handy stuff whenever he came down to Tennessee. Krista would make a list with artwork, light fixtures, and ceiling fans that would sit in boxes for six months, waiting for my dad to put them up. He’d call up to see what we’d need him to do. He loved doing that stuff. At least he got to try to teach me how to do that stuff, but really all I did was hand him screwdrivers. I did install a couple lights over our garage in August, and my dad made me stay on top of the ladder while he ran to his car to get his camera so he could jokingly have ‘proof’ that I’d actually done something handy.

I regret that he didn’t get to find out a surprise that I’ve had for him since I was probably 8 or 9 years old. My first son was going to have my dad’s first name (and my middle name), Stephan, as his middle name. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever have a son, but I’m sorry my dad won’t be around to know that he’d have his name. It wasn’t a very well kept secret (what 25 year old secret is?), so maybe he knew. A German nurse’s typo of ‘Stephen’ has become a family heirloom.

The prayer I can remember praying more than any other in my life is for my dad to become a Christian. I remember during prayer time at my little Christian school, I’d give that prayer request to my 1st grade teacher, Ms. Huffhand. And my 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Arthur. And Mrs. Caldwell in 3rd grade, and Mrs. Langreck in 4th, and so on. When I was in college, I started promoting Christian concerts, in part because I’m wired to organize stuff, but also because I knew my dad would come to support me, and he’d hear the Gospel. I talked with him about it, and even gave my old, marked up Bible to my dad in hopes that he’d read it. I wrote out and highlighted the ‘Roman Road’ to salvation.

Romans 3:23- For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8- But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:13- Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Romans 10:9-10- If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

I really don’t know if he ever accepted Jesus into his heart. I know he seemed to be changing, and there’s hope in that. I know God can do anything.

One of the times I was proudest of my dad was years ago during the major flooding in Iowa. My dad was one of the truck drivers who volunteered their time to drive emergency relief supplies over to them. There’s a newspaper clipping somewhere with the story and a picture of him in front of a semi. I think about tonight that in another emergency area today, Haiti, so many people have lost their fathers, sons, brothers, just as suddenly. Believe it or not, a few days before the earthquake, our 4-year-old Brooklyn decided she wanted to ‘help sick kids and kids who don’t have anything’ in Haiti, and we’d set up a donation website: www.StephanLord.com, which links to www.firstgiving.com/BrooklynHelpsHaiti. I’ve had so many people ask how they can help us. Maybe helping other kids who’ve lost loved ones is a way to honor my dad and Brooklyn’s grandpa.

A couple Christmases ago (again, coinciding with his Christmas Eve birthday), we put together what I think would be one of the greatest presents you could ever give someone. A short book called, “Dad stories”. My sister, two brothers and I had spent a couple months writing down and emailing back and forth stories from our childhood up to our present, about fun times we’d had with our dad and things we’d learned from him. My dad’s not an emotional guy, but once he opened it and started reading it, he couldn’t keep his eyes off of it. We were kind of like, “Uh, hey dad, you’ve got more presents to open.”

I’ll share a couple of those stories below.

One regret I don’t have concerns baseball. My parents got divorced when I was 6, and for about a 10-year period, we didn’t have much interaction. But one lesson my dad learned is that no matter how long things are a certain way, you can change them. Since that time, he’s really come through in spades, helping in college as I’d mentioned, getting to know my kids, my wife, me.

That inspired me to do something I’d missed out on doing. I have a foggy memory of one time throwing a tennis ball with my dad when I was a little kid, but never with an actual baseball and a glove. I remember I’d have friends who’d complain about their dads making them go out and play catch with them, and I just wanted to tell them they’re idiots! They were so lucky. If you ever wanted to get me choked up, show me a dad playing catch. Every boy’s favorite scene from ‘The Natural’ was when he hits the ball into the lights and they explode. Mine was at the end when he gets to throw the ball with his son.


One day, well after I’d gotten married and started my own family, I decided I wasn’t going to whine and feel sorry for myself about what I’d missed. I was going to make something of what I had. My dad was coming into town, so I bought him a glove, and a baseball, and we played catch. I’ll put the story below (its actually kind of funny). I’m so glad we did that, that we got to play catch. I have that now.


PLAYING CATCH
It was a cool and windy fall day in late October. We were dedicating our two-month-old daughter Brooklyn at church, and several family members had come down from Indiana to celebrate with us.
We’d all come back to our house from church, and Dad and Kathy were getting ready to leave. It was at that point that I remembered something else I’d planned. Growing up, we didn’t play catch too much, so I decided to get him a glove so we could throw the ball around at family gatherings. Frank, Eddy and I were there, and we had gloves for all. I grabbed Dad as he was heading out to the car, and we all went out to the back yard. Kelly, who’d played softball in high school, came out to throw as well. It was pretty much a Norman Rockwell painting all around, with Dad standing about even with the Bradford pear tree, and us kids about even with the garage side of the house. And then for reasons unknown, Dad decided to attempt what might justifiably be called assisted suicide.


“Hey, Eddy!” he called out. “Why don’t you throw it to me as hard as you can!” Not even a question, really, it was more of an order. Eddy had been brought up to obey his parents, but in this case, he should have just forgotten Commandment #5 and said no.
Eddy has, if not a world-famous, at least a family-famous, arm. One time during a church league softball game he was playing the outfield, and threw the ball on a line to home plate. The ball came in so hard that even though it hit the catcher in the glove, it still knocked the guy over on his back. That was from about 200 feet throwing to a 220
pound college kid. This was from about 30 feet throwing to a 185 pound
grandfather of four who probably hadn’t played ball since high school. Also, we had a baseball, which travels a heck of a lot faster than a softball.


“Are you sure?” Eddy asked. “Yeah, throw it on in here.” the old man replied.
I started to mentally go over my EMT training for handling blunt head trauma. Eddy, not one to under-do things, reared back and let the ball fly with all his might. Time slowed down. The ball turned a bright blue flame color. Dad seemed to slowly raise up his glove about shoulder high. Would the glove get up to ball level in time? Would it matter? Could the ball actually break through the glove’s webbing and embed itself in our father’s chest cavity? Or would he amazingly lean back, Matrix-style, while the ball rippled through space and time as it passed over him, creating its own sound wave tunnel?
Then…SMACK! The ball crashed safely into the glove, and Dad rocked back, ever so slightly. He was still alive, but I’m guessing a little bit shaken. Maybe next time he’ll try something a little safer and let Frank throw knives at him or something.


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