December 2012


Usually around this time of year I take a Christmas carol and write my own lyrics in a somewhat witty fashion. That was my plan for a post this week, but my heart just isn’t in it. The tragedy that occurred last Friday hit me hard. I have two daughters – one in first grade and one in pre-K. I can’t help but imagine the pain of loss endured by the parents, siblings, extended family, and friends of those who were lost last week.

I find myself replaying the events in my mind… the last moments of terror experienced by those children… the upcoming pain of Christmas presents with no one to open them… the survivors who have been stripped of their innocence at far too tender of an age. We’ve experienced several tragedies in the past few years… far too many. But this one seems to hurt more. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who were personally impacted by this event. I’ve experienced my share of hardship in life and I know that time heals wounds… but even healed wounds leave scars.

I had a pretty popular post on Facebook the day after the shootings and would like to expand on it a little here…

We were all devastated by what happened on December 14th in Newtown, Connecticut. The thought of so many innocent lives lost is heartbreaking. Twenty young children went to school that day just like any other day, but never came home. I think what makes this so difficult for me is how young the victims were and how many were lost in one day.

Now I’ll pose a question. What if I told you that a tragedy was going to happen again tomorrow? You’d do everything in your power to prevent it wouldn’t you? What if I told you twice as many children would be lost… or even ten times as many? The sense of urgency would be even greater, right?

Here’s the truth… 1,500 times as many children will die tomorrow due to preventable causes. That’s right… 30,000 children will die today, tomorrow, the next day, and EVERY DAY around the world. The causes vary – malnutrition, lack of shelter, diseases such as malaria, and a lack of clean drinking water are among the most frequent. The one thing they have in common is that they can be prevented, but only if people like you help.

Why is it that we ignore the death of 30,000 people a day? Maybe it’s because most of them live in other countries. They look different, talk different, have different cultures, and the media chooses not to bring their stories into our living rooms. But despite their differences, every one of the 30,000 lives lost is just as precious as those lost here in the United States. Perhaps my perspective is a bit different. I’ve personally witnessed two children who live in a Nicaraguan dump fighting off dogs and vultures for trash to eat. I’ve seen levels of poverty that most people in the U.S. cannot comprehend and that changes your perspective.

So how can you help? I know not everyone can travel to a third world country… but if you’re reading this, you have a computer and an internet connection which tells me you have the means to make a difference. During my last trip to Nicaragua, I got to work directly with World Vision and Opportunity International. I can tell you that the money that goes to those charities is NOT wasted. They do amazing things with very little resources. There are other worthwhile causes, like Samaritan’s Purse that focus on helping children in need around the globe.

There is also one other organization I would like to mention, Highlands Mission Cooperative http://highlandsmission.com. Full disclosure: I am a board member for this non-profit and if you go to the website, my wife is the one holding the baby. So yes, I have a personal interest in this organization. No, we don’t get paid to work with this organization and again, I can assure you that the money is put to good use. This organization has less waste than any nonprofit I have dealt with – and I’ve worked with a LOT of nonprofits. Highlands Mission Cooperative is doing some amazing things and I encourage you to go to the website and check it out. But don’t just look… get involved. Consider taking a trip… make a donation… do whatever you can because lives – young lives – are literally at stake. You can chose to ignore the death of 30,000 children daily or you can make difference.

Update to this post: the web designer is making some changes to the Highlands Mission website today, so if you run into issues with links, please come back later!

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Olivia had her first piano recital Saturday. This was her first solo public performance of any kind and we weren’t sure how it would go. The recital took place in front of a pretty large crowd and she started getting a little nervous before her performance. When her turn came, she walked right up to the piano and played both her songs without missing a beat! We were very proud of our little girl and her ability to calm her nerves and perform even better than she practiced.

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Now let me rewind a little bit. Like I said, this was her first recital and we didn’t know what to expect. We drove a little over a half hour to get to the church that her instructor reserved for the recital. When we got there, an older student handed us a program. I looked at it… looked again… then counted the students who would be performing… forty-two… F-O-R-T-Y-T-W-O! Each playing two songs!

 
Fortunately Olivia was second on the list. We sat through about an hour and a half of some tortuously slow single-note piano playing with a four year-old next to us and weren’t even halfway through yet. Amelia then announced to the crowd that she had to go potty and I can recognize an opportunity when I see one, so we bolted.

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It was also my birthday, so we decided to have a “family fun day” as Olivia calls it. We went to Chateau Elan to visit Santa that afternoon. It’s one of the best kept secrets in north Georgia. They have a great Santa, you don’t have to wait in line forever, and they don’t even have a photographer – you get to take your own picture instead of paying fifty bucks for a photo of a terrified child in some stranger’s lap. Amelia is still Santa-averse. She finally got close enough to him to have her photo take, but did not appear happy about it.

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After seeing Santa and walking around on the property, we headed back home for my birthday dinner followed by riding around looking at Christmas lights in our pajamas. It was a great birthday… probably one of the best I’ve had in a very long time.

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LaundryAs a guy, the foundation of what I wear everyday is comprised of two essentials – underwear and a white T-shirt.  As I was getting dressed yesterday, I realized that I was out of clean white t-shirts.  This is odd because I think I have about twenty-five of them dating back to the first Bush administration.  My first thought was that there was a mountain of laundry waiting to be done somewhere, but this was not the case.

Somehow my inventory of white t-shirts had diminished to exactly six.  Then I realized that I was also running low on underwear.  Apparently, I have pretty substantial amounts underwear and t-shirts hiding in an undisclosed location.  I checked all of the usual suspects – the laundry room… the closets… seldom-used drawers – all to no avail. 

The situation is so severe I was forced to do laundry while Sara took Olivia to piano practice just so I would have a t-shirt to wear the next day.  I don’t do laundry much – it’s the one area where I just throw all order and reason out the window.  I don’t separate whites and colors, hots and colds, or normal and delicates.  I just cram in as much as will possibly fit, select large load, and dump in an extra shot of detergent for good measure.

With kids this can be a real problem because some of my clothes will actually eat tiny socks during a spin cycle.  Perhaps that’s what happened to my t-shirts – all of the tiny little clothes colluded to mount an attack on my clothes to take out the threat once and for all.

No matter what happened to my clothes, seven years of parenting have taught a few things – my clothes will turn up, some tiny little hands were probably complicit in their disappearance, and it will be equally frustrating and amusing to learn where they have been and how they were used over the past several days.