Category Archives: family

Going Back

mels-flight.gif Kat is home. Danae is home. Erin is home. I am watching Melody’s flight home on flightstats.com. According to them she is passing over I-64 between Lexington, KY and Huntington, WV. The house is quiet. It feels surreal.

Now I know what it feels like to have all of the family come home for the holidays. I understand just a bit better why it is so stressful. Don’t misunderstand. I loved it! But at the same time I saw and experienced the stress of the girls coming home. We are their family of origin now. Until very recently, we were just their family. They are building lives of their own that will resemble ours, but be different as well. That’s the way it is supposed to be.

I desire to create an environment where our family feels welcome and loved; where they feel valued for who they are, not for anything they do.  A place they look forward to coming. I do so love my family!

Christmas Gift

jim-xmas.jpg Growing up, I called my dad’s parents Gran and Andy. I have great memories of going to their house every year in Point Pleasant, West Virginia for Christmas. One of the traditions in Gran’s family was that we greeted one another by saying, “Christmas Gift.” It was like a contest to see who said it first. I didn’t understand why we did it. It was just another one of those things that adults did that didn’t make sense. Unlike so many of those “adult things” that I eventually figured out, I still do not understand what it was about. Hopefully Dad or Uncle Dave can shed some light on the origins by leaving a comment.

xmasangel-right.gif These memories bring me warm feelings of the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. Sights of the Christmas tree so brightly decorated at Gran and Andy’s house, wonderful smells of great food cooking, the sounds of all of Gran’s siblings and their families gathering for our Christmas Eve reunion. Someone always read Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, chapter two in the King James version. Later we drifted off to sleep (after making a lot of noise and getting yelled at a few times) with visions of sugar-plums dancing in our heads.

I pray for peace at Christmas for you and your families all over the earth. May that be our Christmas Gift.  I invite you to view our annual collage and family news (my extra little gift to the family).

A Happy Man

happy-man.jpgI am a happy man. Family is coming and going. The house is crazy with activity. Two of the girls are home and the other two will arrive over the next couple of days. Jeanie’s sister, niece and mom are here today. My mom comes tomorrow. What else can I say? I am a happy man.

P. S. I just put up the annual collage and news . Please take a look at it and let me know if there are any glaring issues with it that I missed. Email or comments will be great! I will “announce it” through email to lots of friends and family on Christmas Day.

The San Francisco Trip

cimg1233-small.JPGJeanie and I just returned from a trip to San Francisco and Berkeley, the new home of our daughter, Erin and her hubby, Justin. We had a great time and a few adventures; some planned and some not so planned. I am learning that the unplanned adventures are where growth occurs… or not. These are the places where it is possible to get un-stuck. What follows is a highly summarized photo tour of our trip. From over 500 photos down to 16, I would say I did pretty good. Click here for a slide show of photos.

Click here for a quick photo tour… Continue reading The San Francisco Trip

Life goes on

lifegoeson.gifMy last post has been up so long that one might think I am in mourning. If you thought that, you were mistaken. I am doing well. Erin and Justin are on their way to Berkeley. Mel is getting settled in Med School at SLU. Kat is doing well making her home in the mountains and Danae is turning the music therapy world upside down.

Jeanie and I are figuring out what life looks like with the offspring out of the house. Yes, life goes on.

Empty Nest

emptynest.gifI am full of hope and expectation for the empty nest thing to be good. It is the right time of life for our daughters to be on their own. It is wonderful how they are all so independent and full of life and expectation. I am very proud of each of them. But right now, the silence is deafening!

Twenty six years ago, our house became noisy and our lives began to be centered around someone else. Startinig today, it is just the two of us again. Like so many things in life, I can see the good, in the long run, but right now, it hurts.

What would you do?

A little over a week ago, I learned that I have a network that I can tap into. I have few readers who have vastly different gifts, talents, strengths and experiences. (spoken in a whisper: Don’t tell, but I think that we are the Body of Christ… you know fingers, toes, ears and all.) That last one was a warmup for today’s question. This is for one of my daughters.

sanfrancisco.gifWhat would you do if you were a young newlywed and you were about to move all the way across the country from North Carolina to San Francisco? What if you planned a trip to find a place to live and you were only going to be there for a day and a half. How would you find a place to live? Money is very much of an object because you are a grad school student.

I have been out of the apartment finding business for so long that I don’t remember the old rules. The new rules, I suspect, are much different. I know they take credit histories and stuff that I don’t ever remember. What information will they ask for? How do you know it is safe to give them your SSN? Bank account numbers? What’s reasonable?

Ready… set… GO!

Why I write

monkwriter.gifWhy do I write? Who am I writing to. Of course this being a public blog, I am writing to anyone who wants to read it. When I first began this blog, I didn’t know who I was writing to and that is right where I needed to start… by just writing. After thinking about it, I realized that my heart’s desire is for my family to know who I am. I frequently find myself wondering about my grandparents and my great grandparents. What were they like at my age? What did they think about? What were the joys of life for them? What did they fear? What did they desire? What did they do for fun? I don’t know the answers to those questions because they didn’t leave a record. No journals or diaries. No books. I imagine there were lots of reasons that they didn’t write… but that is the best I have, my imagination.writing.JPG

I don’t think everyone comes to a place in life where they ask these kinds of questions… but some of us do. The smart ones ask while their grandparents are still living. Unlike them, I waited until one by one, they passed away. All is not lost, however. My dad recently shared a sermon that my great-grandfather M. C. Lewis delivered which I published here. I took some video of my grandmother Anderson telling stories before she died. I hope to edit and publish her stories too. The Family History section of my blog is dedicated to these family stories. Another project that I have begun is transferring video from old 8mm movies to the computer. I published some of these on my old Home Movies blog. One day I’ll get around to incorporating that with this blog site, but not tonight 🙂

The Dream

I had a dream a few years ago that I hope will explain a little more why I write about me… publicly. In my dream I had died, but I was able to walk around and experience everything as if I was alive, but no one could see me. It was much like inmydream.gif the movies. The dream begain after my funeral was over and everyone got together for fried chicken and potato salad (mom makes a mean potato salad). I didn’t see everyone there, but I did see my mom. She was standing and staring into space with a despondent look on her face. I felt so bad for her that I walked up and hugged her. I knew she wouldn’t be able to feel it, but I wanted to hug her so badly. When I put my arms around her, I couldn’t really feel her, but her eyes opened wide and she gasped! It was as if she could feel my presence.

Now I was feeling excited. I thought that if I could make her feel me, maybe I could interact with the “real world” in other ways. I tried moving things to let them know I was there, but nothing worked until I picked up a pen and wrote on a piece of paper. I could actually write notes to them! I found myself writing to them about what I thought was important. My daughters were making decisions about things and I wanted to tell them how I felt about their decisions, so I wrote it down.

Suddenly, I woke up. I was dazed and unsure if it had been a dream. It felt so real. I sat up on the side of the bed and waited for a minute or two as my mind cleared. I soon realized it must have been a dream, but I was still feeling rattled. I prayed and asked God what He wanted me to do with this dream. I knew there was more to it than just a dream, but I was confused.

I felt God whisper to me. Not audibly, but it was like a knowing, complete thought. He said, “It is real.” You will have the ability to communicate to your loved ones after you die. If you write the things that are important to you now, they will have them when you are gone.

That dream has driven me ever since. I want my writing to communicate to those I love now and those I love and care about in the future. I want you to know who I am. What I think about. What I dream about. What I fear. What I long for. I want you to know my questions and my doubts. I don’t want my ancestors to put me on a pedestal as if I was some kind of super man who never doubted or feared. I am a man who struggles and wrestles with life and with my faith.

That is why I write.

Father’s Day

andersons-1970.jpgIt is Father’s Day in the US. I am blessed doubly today because I am a father and I have a father. I can celebrate in two ways. It is great to be able to bless my father. Dad, I will call you later today, but I want you to know that I wish you the very best of Father’s Day. I pray that you receive the things that you want from life today including peace and prosperity.

reading-charlottes-web-1986.jpgIt is great to be the father of four lovely ladies of whom I am very proud. Each of them is following their hearts’ desires in their own ways. That makes my heart sing. My desire, as a father, is to partner with my daughters to get what they want in life. God has given me gifts, strengths and talents and I can think of few things that I would rather use those gifts, strengths and talents for than to help my girls to succeed in life. That does not mean that I have no desires of my own. It means that one of my great desires is to be an active part in their lives.

I have seen fathers who want to run their kid’s lives. My idea of being a good father when they were infants and toddlers was to be in control and run their lives. But that is not my current vision. A graphical representation of healthy parenthood to me is expressed in the figure below:

ctrl-v-time-graph.gif

We have no control over the horizontal axis. As the saying goes, time marches on. Our choices lie in the vertical axis. The choices of whether or not to give up control.

I saw that my job as a father was to prepare my kids for adulthood. When they were little bitty and could not take care of themselves, Jeanie and I did it for them. As they grew, we let them do more things for themselves. That is a gradual process of training, encouraging, being there for them as they fail, encouraging, helping, prodding, creating boundaries, saying no, saying yes (when our feelings tell us no). It isn’t the training that is so difficult. It is giving up control.

Now I see that “loosing control” is really a process of learning that I never really had it anyway. When they were babies, Jeanie and I could decide when bath time was, but we never got to decide when they should get pneumonia, or runny nose or fall and bump their heads. We sure never got to choose the timing of dirty diapers or cuts that required stitches. If I had had any input, none of these things would have happened on my watch!

How quickly we moved from these kinds of issues to homework, friends and dating issues. And of course we cannot forget driving. No one has truly lived until you are riding shotgun with your kid behind the wheel for the first or second time… or for that matter the 50th time. They should create a father’s upgrade package for cars. It would include a passenger’s seat rollbar and either an extra brake pedal and steering wheel or at least a reinforced floorboard to keep our feet from punching through when we push the imaginary brake.

Control? Ha!

I started thinking about the control-over-time graph when the girls were very little. But I didn’t put a lot of thought into what happens after adulthood. Moving into this stage seemed to happen overnight. I find myself moving from the giver of permission whether you want it or not into the role of an adviser if you will allow me. Instead of telling them what to do, I find myself helping them think for themselves by asking questions and telling them the kinds of things that I think are important to consider. It isn’t about my being the “all knowing dad”. The truth is that I do know some things they don’t. After all, if I haven’t learned a few things about life along the way that they don’t know yet, something would be very wrong. Experience does matter. I want to share my experience and knowledge with them to help them, not to control their lives.

What is next? I look forward to being the grandpa and I have a desire for my partnership with my girls and their families to grow both ways. As I said before, I am not all knowing. I have a lot to learn and my girls can be my teachers. As partners in life, we can encourage and build into one another’s lives to make the best of what we have. We only get a few years on this earth. I want to suck the marrow out of life while I am here and leave nothing undone that could have been done.

Father of the Bride (updated)

pict0192c.JPGSomehow I held it together (on the outside) on Sunday as I walked my lovely daughter down the aisle. What a beautiful bride!

I don’t know if anyone can understand what I was feeling at the moment this picture was taken. A few people might argue with me, but I believe I was the proudest person in the room.

My vision for the events of the weekend leading up to and including the wedding and reception were for connection, encouragement, celebration, fun. I got my wish. We had a blast at the rehearsal and dinner. Saturday, we had a huge crowd at our house as friends and family from out of town came over for a cookout. It was a special treat to have each parent get up and say a few words, then to have the sisters and some friends get up, unprompted to share their memories and wishes for a happy future.
At the cookout, Jack (Justin’s dad) said that Justin and Erin’s marriage just “feels right”. I concur. It does feel right.

I pray for many years of happiness, love, mutual affirmation and success for the newlyweds. I pray that they will always be free to show their love for one another and that they will have respect and honor for one another even when it doesn’t “feel right.” This weekend, I saw what a great impact they have been with their friends and family. I pray that they continue to have that kind of impact in their world. The world needs people with a passion like they have. I believe it will be a better place because they are following their dreams.

Bless you, Erin and Justin. I’m glad I get to be your dad (one of them anyway :))

P. S. (Can you do a P. S. on a blog?)… Lots of friends and family took digital photos. As I get them I will post them. Come back soon for a slide show of the best shots.

P. P. S.  Click to see the slide show.