Category Archives: Life

Dads Who Aren’t Fathers

Please read and share if you agree…

February 14, 2012.

I rarely remember dates yet that one has been burned into my mind as it is the last time I saw my son.

That day I kept telling him I was sorry and I would rather stay jobless and close to him than have a job and be apart. He told me he knew it was best for me and that he just wanted me doing better. That is the kind of man he is becoming.

I moved only around 2 hours away but by the time I had the money and means to come and visit he had moved 6 more hours away to his grandmothers. And so it went.

We talk often and his biggest sentiment, and mine, is how much we miss each other and can’t wait to get together again. Finally having a better job and more money the strategy of getting to see him this summer started coming together. We first wanted to just go visit him but even just a few nights in a hotel along with food and gas and all that goes with a vacation would be near 1000 dollars. A tall order for us at this time.

So arrangements were agreed upon that I would pay for his bus ticket down. I have never been as excited as the day those plans were agreed upon and everything came together. I would have him for right at 8 days and found ways to squeeze as much time together as possible. And I was overjoyed at the idea of introducing him to the amazing new family I have.

But those plans are all but completely shot down now. His grandmother is not sure about sending him to see me. Not because she thinks I’m unfit but because he hasn’t been behaving to her liking. My argument is that keeping a son from his dad is no fit punishment for almost any behavior. This is exacerbated by the fact that he has aspergers, a form of autism, that he has struggled with.

Her comment was that I’m not his dad.

This is technically true. I am not the man who brought him into this world. I am not the man who ignored him most of his life. I am not the man who would occasionally call and make promises of grand Christmas gifts and birthday visits that never occurred.

I’m the man who met him when he was 3 and fell in love with his personality. I’m the man who taught him the basics of Lego building that became his talent and obsession. I’m the man who taught him how great Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Weird Al are. I’m the man who was there for those birthdays and Christmases with him crying into my shoulder asking why his Dad never came. I’m the man who stayed in his life, no matter what, after his mother and I split up when he was 9. I am the man he continues to call dad 5 years after that point. I may not be his ‘father’ but I AM his dad.

Of course, I have no legal rights to him or I would have him here. Not as a vacation, but to live. But I have no such rights.

Now I am scrambling to figure out how to come up with enough money to go see him. It will happen, but may be limited to a day or two. It will happen because I miss him. It will happen because I have faith God will make it happen. It will happen because I have the same feeling that any mother or father could tell you they feel when they are away from their kids for any length of significant time, let alone 2+ years.

But I want this shared to show support for those dads who aren’t ‘Fathers’. To show love for those who are there, not because they have to, but because they choose to. We have no rights if something goes wrong yet we throw our hearts into it 100% with no emotional safety net.

Share this if you are or know one of these dads.

We Are The Rock – Minimum Wage is Not Demeaning

There has been an awful lot of talk about minimum wage recently. Should we raise it? Should we keep it the same? Should people on minimum wage jobs get off their lazy butts and get better jobs?

I’m embarrassed to put that last line yet a lot of political and news figures aren’t embarrassed to not only say it, but stand by it. They say minimum wage jobs are demeaning and the people who work them are not ambitious.

I just want to say, never let anyone tell you your job is demeaning because it is not. Especially don’t let anyone tell you this that has never had to go out and look for a job not because they wanted more pay but because they needed to put food in the mouths of their children. Don’t accept degrading comments from anyone who has never been yelled at for going home early to take care of their sick children because there was no one else to do so. Don’t listen to the negative ranting of someone who has never worked open to close not for money but for being threatened to lose their job.

The only demeaning job in the world is the one that ENCOURAGES people to go out and publically call blue collar workers unambitious. The only demeaning jobs are those that encourage a person to think only about bottom lines, and not about the feelings of those under them.

And they are encouraging us to feel bad because we have minimum wage jobs. They are using these statements and repression to make us think it IS our faults. But it is NOT our fault. BE PROUD of your job no matter how much you make. BE PROUD that you are working to make any kind of living you can. BE PROUD that you will get by in spite of poorly thought out economical solutions passed down from the top. And whether you are a burger flipper, a floor mopper, or order taker, BE PROUD! And be the best burger flipper, floor mopper, and order taker you can be. You don’t have to be rich or in a high rise building to make a difference in someone’s life YOU can make a difference right here, right now, right where you are.

Is the minimum wage too low? I’m sure it is. Are companies justified in believing that raising the minimum wage would plunge them into debt? Probably not; not most of them anyway. Take the case of In’n’Out burgers who believed the right way to do business was to pay ABOVE minimum wage. They start their burger flippers out around 2 dollars over the minimum wage. The result? When they put out for applications they get forty to fifty, not five to fifteen. And the quality of worker has gone up as well as their feelings about what they do. They are happier; they work harder, and thus make the customers happier who are all the more happy to return. I know I hit one up anytime I’m near one.

Of course nay-sayers will say this is but one example and it is because I don’t need to go into a long diatribe over how effective raising the minimum wage is. I don’t have to because studies and history already show this. CEO’s want more money for making more money because they won’t pay their workers more for working harder. There are exceptions and those are some good companies to work for but as long as we let the rich elite tell us we don’t have ambition we will believe it.

Let them know we have ambition. Let them know we cook their food, we scrub their floors, and we keep their world moving along. We are America, and we deserve better.

Relationships in Review

When you first get married you will inevitably hear the question, ‘so how long have you been married now?’ so much you’ll know the question that will follow it by heart, ‘have you fought yet?’

Is it odd that as a country we immediately start thinking the only obvious extension of marriage is fighting.

Some truths:

  • I’ve been married before
  • I’ve been in too many negative relationships
  • I’ve had plenty of fights

I know marriage isn’t all roses and candy canes and monkeys farting vanilla incense all over the place. The roses wilt, the candy canes don’t open without breaking and the monkeys, well let’s just say marriage isn’t always pretty.

But marriage can be a beautiful place where two people share their hearts, their laughs, their cries, and everything in between. Unfortunately, we bring a lot of baggage into marriage, and so much more so than ever before.

When you break up with someone you hold on to all the bitterness, angst, and ill-will and put it towards the next relationship. If you’ve been through a few break-ups then you form some weird amalgam of every negative quality of every person you ever got close too.

With the explosion of online dating this has gone from an amalgam of a few people to ten, twenty, or even more bad relationships. By the time you get married once or so commonly twice you assume it will end badly. This is the mindset in our country. Marriage is simply a stepping stone to divorce and divorce is a stepping stone to dating a bunch of people to marriage to divorce. One date is a prelude to sex which is a prelude to an argument.

Here’s another truth: My wife and I abstained from sex and chose not to live with each other until we got married. That took about a year and a half. Why did I feel like the freak anytime that fact came up? Why are we the exception to the rule?

But above all, why do we feed so much negativity into the relationships around us? When we hear about our friends having a fight do we side with them and agree that their spouse was wrong or do we encourage them and help them work through the hard times? Are we a community building each other up or a self-absorbed temple trying to make sure we’re the last one standing.

What would the divorce rate look like if we pushed each other to remember our vows and keep them close to our heart. When was the last time you looked at the vows your made when you got married? In the end that is the real purpose of marriage, not a paper, not a tax status, and not a reason to have children or explain children. It is that you made a vow to your best friend. You promised to love, honor, and cherish and so much more. We are meant build each other up not force them to change. To lift each other up not break them down.

If you are constantly arguing with your spouse or on the verge of breaking up, I challenge you to not only think about the vows you made when you got married, but make new ones. How much more could you have vowed if you had known then what you know now? How much better could you treat this person than you are now?

My wife and I made the normal vows together and then I read these vows to her I had written myself. I challenge you all to hold me to them, were you to ever hear me in the place of constant negativity. Maybe we’d all argue a bit less, and expect more out of marriages, if we all took a little more time to think about the sacred vows we are making when we do.

I promise to love you the way you deserved to be loved. To treat you with respect and dignity, even if at times sprinkled with sarcasm. I promise I will work to be slow to anger, and always try to be quick to apologize and forgive. To be a role model to all our children current and future, as well as a spiritual leader. To show the love of God through my actions and not my words. And to always try to drive our family to be better today than we were yesterday. Not because we are bad, but because we always have room to grow. Also, I promise to always be your partner, I may not always agree with everything you say or choose to do, but I promise I will always back you up.

God Healed an Agnostic

This weekend, my fiancee and I took a trip to my hometown to visit my family.

The trip was relatively normal. We went to my brothers and had lunch and played a bunch of games. At the moment my fiancee and I have yet to find others in town to start a game group so these trips are also the nearly only time we get to play all our new games with more than just ourselves and the occasional child we con into joining us.

The only real difference in this trip was we transported a friends dog, who felt they weren’t home enough to care for him, to my mother.

MeAndMo

And yet on this trip I felt even closer to my soul mate than I ever have. But let’s back up first.

For those few of you who were around to read the first few posts of this blog, and then for some reason stuck around to read posts that actually got real and meaningful, will know that I’ve had a rough patch in my early-mid life. I had married a woman I was sure I would spend the rest of my life with. She had 3 children, one teen I unfortunately clashed with, and then a preteen and tween that I go really close to. And she introduced me to her church that was unlike any church I’d ever gone to.

But sadly, she didn’t keep the Holy Spirit close to her and instead let her physical wants take over. She decided to leave me for other people. I lost the whole family I’d come to know and depend on over the 3 years we were together.

This made me magnify all the negativity in my life and I ended up leaving my job. I then also overstayed my welcome with a family member and found myself homeless, moving from cheap motel to cheap motel, interspersed with the occasional night or more spent sleeping in my car.

I lost almost everything I owned including the only thing I had from my father, his wedding band, that I had worn every day since getting it for over 6 years. I’d lost my past, my present, and the foreseeable future. For over 6 months, I felt and for all intents and purposes was, alone.

I ended up getting a job at AT&T over 2 hours away from where I’d been living in my hometown and thought that God had delivered me into this new job for a reason. But instead he’d delivered me to the new city to meet the real love of my life. My actual future was in a town another hour north, and a job I would have never dreamed of a few years ago.

My fiancee and I took a vow to abstain until we were married. That was about a year and a half ago and we have kept that promise to each other and to God. It’s been one of the most important and significant decisions of our lives. Instead of building a relationship out of a sexual beginning, we have built a relationship out of communication and understanding. And while our wedding has been postponed thanks to various issues we continue to simply grow closer together.

And this weekend was no different and a perfect example. We are both a couple of huge geeks and have found our equal interests in board games. We watch videos of board games being played, reviewed, previewed, and explained. Our entertainment budget is pretty much exclusive to a small amount spent on board games each check. We don’t drink so we don’t go to bars, we cook at home almost all the time, and we rarely even go to the movies.

So these chances to play games with my family excite us even more so over the great conversation we know we’ll have. This weekend the star of the show, for us, was Ticket to Ride. While we played Forbidden Island and Nerts and had Small World and Arkham Horror available, 2 rounds of Ticket to Ride left us talking long after we’d started the 3 hour drive home.

Having only played the game 2 player style, except for one game with 2 reluctant kids, we had no idea how much we would enjoy a few games with a full compliment of 5 people actively trying their best to win. The board filled up quickly, tempers occasionally flared as routes got blocked off, and only a few colorful phrases got thrown around. We had taken a game we knew we liked and had it turned into one of the best experiences we’d ever had.

You know it's a great game when Kansas City is a busier hub than New York.

You know it’s a great game when Kansas City is a busier hub than Pittsburgh.

You see, a board game is something so much more than a video game or just dinner and a chat. Having grown up on video games, understand I’m not knocking them but even playing a 4 player round of Mario Kart still has you interacting more with a controller than a person. Talk is limited to smack and there is no way to pause the action and tell a quick joke or short story without actually PAUSING the action.

And dinner and a conversation is just that, dinner and a conversation. Teaching my rather competitive mother how to play and then helping with tips, tricks, and strategies had us conversing closely in a way we hadn’t done since I was little. Because one thing God has given me lately is a renewed relationship with her, as we had grown apart letting life get in the way.

So my lovely fiancee and I didn’t really get to talk while we were there. This isn’t uncommon as my family is loud, and there were 7 adults and 6 various aged children in the small home. And my family is loud. And there were a lot of us. And we’re all very loud.

It was loud.

So as we left I was ready to share this electric charge I’d gotten from T2R with her. She had wanted this game and it is considered ‘hers’ so I was excited to tell her how much I’d enjoyed it. All I had to say was “man that was so much more fun with 5 people” and her face lit up. We’d shared an experience from across the table, without needing to talk to each other at all.

I felt closer to her than ever before and fell in love with her all over again.

God took a broken agnostic and showed him grace. He then humbled that new Christian and showed him what true joy is. He then gave me a woman to keep reminding me of that.

Go play with your friends and family. Tell some stories, have a few laughs, and just a few colorful phrases when someone takes the route you need. YOU NEEDED THAT ROUTE! You can't just have your passengers walking from Kansas City to OKC to catch the connecting train.

Go play with your friends and family. Tell some stories, have a few laughs, and just a few colorful phrases when someone takes the route you need. YOU NEEDED THAT ROUTE! You can’t just have your passengers walking from Kansas City to OKC to catch the connecting train.