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Monday, January 12, 2009

Cats in the Cradle

Tonight Ginger has one of her closest friends in town visiting. They are sitting in the living room talking about another dear friend who is sick. I was going to sit there and enjoy their company but to tell you the truth I found the conversation about hospitals, scans, doctors and sickness just hit a little too close to home. So I came back to our bedroom, my favorite room in the house, (not what you are thinking!). I love it because it has a sitting area with a fireplace and it is the most relaxing place to be. I lit about 15 candles, turned on the fire place and put on some classical music and decided to write a blog. It has been a while since I have written but life has been busy which leads me to what I wanted to write about.

This past Sunday Aspen and Annalise were sick and one of us had to stay. So I (Jim) decided to take the boys to try a new church. We had been wanting to try a new church in New Braunfels but after a summer of trying churches it gets hard to load up six kids and get them checked into Sunday school just to find out the church was not what you were looking for. So this Sunday seemed like the perfect time to try a new church. Perfect to me but maybe not so perfect to Aspen and Annalise. I relearned a lesson on the way to church and gained a funny memory for me and the boys. First the lesson.

I pretty much know one of my main weaknesses; I'm a Martha. Okay that looks funny when I see it in print and could be taken the wrong way after I said I decided to sit in my room with candles and classical music on...not that there is anything wrong with that. (a little Seinfeld humor for you) Did I mention I love football, Go Steelers!

I will tell you one thing about getting married for a second time. You may tend to think you have it all together and life is pretty much figured out, until you live with someone new. It turns out your not has normal as you thought! You were just used to yourself that's all. So Ginger probably could add a few more things to my list of weaknesses but I will leave that alone for now.
Luke 10: 38-42

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell
her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Anyway, Martha was caught up with the busyness of life and doing things. Which on the surface is not a bad thing but she was doing things instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus. Of course we cannot literally sit at Jesus' feet but we are called into a personal relationship which implies spending time with Him and in His word. For me, like Martha it is easy to put off that relationship for busy work. I first started to learn this about myself when I was a Wing Commanders exec, and I could not leave work until my inbox was empty. Now it is my email inbox but it is the same, I just want it all taken care of, things in their place and loose ends closed before I can relax and focus on other things like family and faith. But it seems there is always more to do, especially with six kids. I could pick up toys from when I get home until bed time and still have more to do. If I'm not doing that i find myself turning into my dad and hollering at kids to turn off a light or pick up their school back packs. If it is not that then it is helping Ginger with Dinner or doing dishes afterwards. All in all there is plenty of work in this house, and thus it is a Martha's dream and nightmare all at the same time. A dream because there is always something to pick up and always a visual reward of a job well done. But it is a nightmare at the same time because there is just no way to do it all and when you try you only frustrate yourself. There was a time when I loved Saturday mornings. I looked forward to sleeping in with no alarm set. But recently I find myself waking up around 7am and once I think it was 5:30am. But I awake with a to do list playing in my mind and off I go starting chores before Ginger and I even had a chance to talk.

Andrea noticed this trait in me as well soon after we were married and had Nic. In one of the many ways she taught me and encouraged me to be a better father. Whenever I started to spend a little too much time studying as a student pilot, or maybe working a little too long as an Instructor Pilot and even spending a little too much time on the golf course she would start to sing the song, "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin as a reminder that life is short. Andrea never nagged nor did she forbid me from playing golf it was just when she saw that I was misplacing my priorities as a father. It became Andrea's way of reminding me what was really important. Like they say no one ever died wishing they had spent more time at work. Andrea was a wise person, blessed with discernment and wisdom.

God blessed me again with Ginger who has many of the same qualities and Ginger noticed this same tendency in my personality and has mentioned it to me. Most recently was this past Saturday when I jumped out of bed already behind on my to do list. So I was aware that I was starting to let the Martha in me take over and was misplacing my time in the busyness of life. Andrea and Ginger gave me gentle reminders, as Jesus did to Martha,

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

So back to Sunday. As I was driving the boys to church listening to my iPod I hear, "Cats in the Cradle." Like being slapped in the face I instantly realize what I have done. I look over at Boston and Greyson and know they could care less how clean the house is or how organized the DVDs are. What they want and need is just time, time to shoot some hoops or kick a soccer ball. I'm not saying I have not been spending any time with the kids it is just that I knew I had allowed my priorities to shift a little too far to getting things done vice just being with them. I had to look out my window as I drove to hide the tears in my eyes a little ashamed knowing they could understand the words to the song as I wondered if they thought I was the dad in that song:

When you comin' home dad? I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

That was my lesson, sadly a lesson I fight to remember every day as I balance managing a house and being a dad. I'm not the best at this and the same trait that makes me successful at work makes me a poor father. The same thing Andrea and Ginger noticed in me and each helped me with. Losing Andrea reminded me of the wisdom of Andrea singing this song to me. So I try to remember this when I get caught up in cleaning assuming I will spend time with the kids or Ginger counting on "We'll get together then." Sadly Ginger and I learned that life does not guarantee us a "then."

Now the funny memory.

The church Ginger and I had been wanting to try was New Braunfels Bible Church and I had Googled it the night before to get the directions and times of the service. It was right off Hwy 46 and it began at 1030. So off we went, Boston, Greyson and me. I turned onto Hwy 46 and told the boys to keep an eye out the church should be close by. No sooner did I say that when Greyson said, "Is that it?" I looked to my right and there was New Braunfels Christian Church. I said nice job Greyson you found it. So in we went but as we sat down I thought this is not what I expected. And I leaned over to the boys and said I think we are in the wrong church. The boys looked at me like not wanting to be rude but also wondering what had their new dad drug them into. I think the average age in the church was about 65 so we stood out like sore thumbs. There was no doubt we were visitors and there was no way we could get up and leave now. When the music began it was songs out of the Hymnal. Greyson of course took one out, found the song number and started singing along. (he is our artist in the family) But I noticed Boston looking at this strange book Greyson had as if he was looking at some artifact from times long ago. I leaned over and said have you never seen a hymnal? And he said, No." So I decided to take advantage of the situation and teach Boston how to read and sing from a Hymnal. We listened to the sermon which turned out to be pretty good, meanwhile the boys we making some impressive paper airplanes out of the visitor information cards from the pew in front of us.

When the service ended we got in the car and had a good laugh. I immediately called Ginger to find out how I had gotten mixed up. It was then I realized I was looking for New Braunfels Bible not New Braunfels Christian Church. When I said that Greyson said, "Did you say New Braunfels Bible? There it is." Turns out it was one block from the church we had tried! We laughed even harder, so close but so far!

So back we well go this Sunday with all six kids in tow trying to find new classrooms, new procedures for getting them checked in, calming their uneasiness as we leave the twins and Bella with a group of kids they never met. But one thing for sure, I know how to get there. The hard part will be remembering how to keep my life balanced, and every so often leaving the dishes in the sink and color with the girls or watch soccer with the boys. Or if we are lucky get the kids tucked in bed and spend some time with Ginger. Unlike most couples who have six kids, I have to remember that we need time to get to know each other as well.


  1. I'm sorry, you've got a typo -- shouldn't that have been "GO CARDS!"?

    :-P Melody

  2. We all need those reminders to take the time to spend with the kids while they are kids. It's easy to get caught up in the to-do list. Thanks for the reminder to pay attention to what's important.

    We're praying for you guys in your journey! Miss you too!