Tag Archives: love

Take your tractor to work day

As I was preparing to leave for work this morning, Rylan insisted that I take his Matchbox tractor with me.  Since it’s perfectly acceptable for grown men to have toys in a corporate workplace, I obliged.

So, I headed to the car with my coffee, iPad and banana.  And tractor.

I’ve had to travel a lot recently and I’ll be gone for most of the rest of September.  I figured that any way I could connect with Rylan while I’m at work, it would help him feel like he was part of my day.  So, I decided that I would start taking photos of his tractor throughout my day and message them to my wife to show him.  Here are the shots.

I’ve been reading through Joshua recently and this exercise got me thinking about how God is with us and desires to connect with us throughout the day as well.  Joshua 1:5 says “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God is a promise keeper.  God guarantees us that he will be with us on our toughest days, in our lowest valleys and on our highest mountaintops.

Joshua 1:9 continues on to say, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God is a constant comforter.  He knows that we can become unsettled, stressed out and over-anxious.  He knows that we struggle to keep our priorities set on him.  He knows that we get cut off in traffic, spill coffee on our notes, burn our mouths with pizza cheese and struggle with jammed printers.  We need God to remind us throughout the day that he constantly loves us and is with us, just as Rylan knew from our tractor experience today that I was thinking of him and loved him.

Even though I was not physically with Rylan between 7:30a – 5:15p, his father was still thinking of him and loving him all day.  Here’s the awesome part.  God is with us all the time.  Physically.  If you’re a believer in Christ, then you have God’s holy spirit living inside you.  If you haven’t yet placed your faith in Christ and you feel like you have a void in your life, he will fill it.

In my upcoming travels to exotic places like Kinston, NC and Sarasota, Gainesville & Ocala, FL, I’ll have to find a way to sneak the tractor out the door and continue to remind Rylan how much I miss being around him, his sister and his mommy while I’m at work.

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You matter. (For reals.)

Recently, Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti did a photo study on children around the world posed with their favorite toys.  His series, Toy Stories, spans several continents and children from a variety of cultures.

Three thoughts came to mind while I was looking through his collection.

1. This is brilliant.

What a great idea for a photo study.  The toys were hand-picked by the kids and in a way, they represent their society, their hopes and their dreams.  I have a passion for photojournalism and telling stories.  I wish I came up with this idea first.  Seeing how these kids meticulously arranged and presented their toys, like this one from Noel in Texas.

Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

2. What would my selections have been?

First, I’d probably pick my M.U.S.C.L.E. Man collection.

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I had (have) over 250 of these guys. I’d love to come across some more.  They are all in a Tupperware in my storage unit.  I used to spend hours playing with them as wrestling figures.  I can still remember their signature moves, rivalries and which ones held championship belts.

I’d also include my basketball.  I seemed to wear out one every few months.  I had plenty of these old indoor/outdoor leather ones chipping and fading away in my garage.

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3. These kids matter.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I think I’m getting soft in my old age.  I was looking at these kids and their toys and definitely got emotional.  Some kids had tons of toys.  These kids didn’t have enough hours in the day to play with all the stuff in their rooms.  But, then there were kids like Chiwa from Malawi.

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Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

Chiwa is living in a block house, held together with mud and brick.  Chiwa sleeps under mosquito nets to prevent malaria and other diseases.  Chiwa’s clothes, bedsheets and legs are filthy.  But, look at the toys.  The little white dog is pristine.  It looks like it just came out of the shopping bag.  Chiwa took great pride in keeping the toys clean and desirable to play with.

This little girl is Kalesi from the Fiji Islands.

Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

Look at the joy on her face!  She loooooves her backpacks and her dolls.  She even looks like a baby doll.  There’s not a lot in the photo so I’m only assuming that the rest of her home is relatively bare.  I can see Kalesi sitting on the hard floor taking care of her dolls.  She feeds them with the pink bowl and blue cup.  She carries them around in her Transformers backpack.

Viewing these photos made me want to go and just hug these kids and tell them that God loves them.  The same emotion and care they had for their toys is the same love and caring that God has for them.  I wanted these kids to know that they matter.

To this kid I photographed in a park in Asia where Christ is not allowed – you matter.

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To these kids enamored with boats and ducks in a lake in Spain – You matter.

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To this little kid in North Africa, whose family may never tell him about Jesus – You.  Matter.

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To these kids who had their portrait taken at a church in the barrio of Caracas, Venezuela – You Matter.  God has a great plan for your life.

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To these students who heard the Gospel during English club at their university and can make a difference in a socialist community – You Matter.  Place your faith in Christ and worship him instead of saints.  Show your city God’s love.

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To anyone who thinks they are too dirty, too broken, too messed up, too beyond repair, too unworthy, too old, too young, too confused to get on your knees and respond to a living God who is calling you to him – you matter.  You do.  You are God’s favorite possession.  He wants to shine you up and show you off like the kids showed off their toys.  He wants you to love him.  He wants to hear your praise.  He wants you to matter, because when you matter to the world, you matter to him.  It’s time to respond.

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My two dads

Happy Father’s Day!

Rylan completed a questionnaire about me for Father’s Day.  He’s nearly three-years-old and apparently not so good with details yet.  Here’s what he had to say about me.

  1. My daddy’s name is Daddy. (No problems here.)
  2. Daddy’s favorite color is black. (It’s blue.)
  3. Daddy’s favorite food is quesadilla. (It’s lobster.)
  4. Daddy’s favorite thing to do is cars.  He loves cars. (I’m not really a car guy, but I do enjoy toy cars.)
  5. Daddy likes it when I play with cars. (Yes, I suppose this is true.  I really like it when Rylan gives me a hug.  He’s a good hugger.)
  6. My favorite thing to do with daddy is roll balls. (We have this game where we roll balls back and forth on the floor.  He plays along for a couple minutes and then ends up throwing the balls everywhere until I take them away.  I didn’t really think he liked that game.)
  7. My daddy is really good at drawing. (He’s not much of an art critique.)
  8. My daddy always says, “Hello! How are you doing?” (I was not aware of this.)
  9. My favorite thing about my daddy is playing with him when he gets home.

This is who makes me Daddy.

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This is what I received this morning from my wonderful kiddos (I think their awesome mommy had something to do with it though.)

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So, this got me thinking.  How would I answer these questions for my Dad?

  1. My Dad’s name is David.
  2. Dad’s favorite color is blue.
  3. Dad’s favorite food is a good filet, especially with lobster.
  4. Dad’s favorite thing to do is go fishing.
  5. Dad likes it when I spend time with him.
  6. My favorite thing to do with Dad is anything because we can have fun together anywhere. (Also acceptable answers: boat rides, Christmas shopping, playing kick the rock all the way to the beach.)
  7. My Dad is really good at H-O-R-S-E. (And I have no idea why, he doesn’t play ball at all.)
  8. My Dad always says, “big guy.” I’ve always enjoyed that nickname.  Sometimes I hear other parents call their son that and I want to chime in and say they can’t use it.  It’s mine.  I hope Rylan has the same fondness for “little buddy”.
  9. My favorite thing about my Dad is how much he loves me and supports me.

As I get older and gain perspective on life and parenting, I can see all the sacrifices my parents made and lessons they taught me.  Dad taught me a lot about love.  He never withheld a single “I love you.”  I have a lot of friends who never had that luxury.  I recognize the importance and tell my kids that as often as possible.

Dad taught me about work ethic.  He worked hard at the family business for a long, long time.  He often did the work that no one else wanted to do.  I saw how much effort he put in to taking care of our house and planning our vacations.  He made sure everything was just right for Mom and me.

Dad taught me the value of some small surprises.  When we would go run errands together or go Christmas shopping for Mom, he would often let me pick out a toy.  Dad would show up from work with some root beer and ice cream to make floats, just because.

Dad taught me a lot about caring for other people.  Years ago, a woman in our hometown was struck by a car.  She was known around as the tricycle lady.  She would ride around on an adult-size three-wheeler.  Her tricycle was ruined in the accident.  After reading about it in the paper, Dad found a way to get her a brand new bike.  That’s just the kind of thing Dad does.  He helps people out of compassion.

With the simple gesture of the thumbs up, I always know I had Dad’s support and compassion, which is why I proudly wear it on my arm.  We’re a lot alike in many ways, and I’m OK with that.  I noticed last time we were together that we would take sips of our drinks at the same time and we actually started doing some hand motions at the same time, too.

I also have another father.  A Heavenly Father.  One who created me.  One who gave up his only son so that I might believe in him and not perish, but have eternal life.

  1. My Heavently Father’s name is Abba.
  2. My Heavenly Father’s favorite color is well, all of them, I guess.
  3. My Heavenly Father’s favorite food is lobster. (I hope, so there’s lots in heaven.)
  4. My Heavenly Father’s favorite thing to do is show his love for everyone.
  5. My Heavenly Father likes it when I spend time with him. (I feel like I gave this answer already.)
  6. My favorite thing to do with My Heavenly Father is to worship him and teach others about his loving kindness.
  7. My Heavenly Father is really good at forgiving me when I mess up. (He has a lot of practice.)
  8. My Heavenly Father always says the right thing to me at the right time.
  9. My favorite thing about my Heavenly Father is how much he loves and supports me. (Hmmm…I think I gave this answer once before as well.)

I don’t spend enough time thanking my Dad or my Heavenly Father for all the things they have done for me.  One brought me in to this world, the other made a way for me to spend eternity with him.

I love watching my son interact with my Dad.  It’s a wonderful thing.  When I see them play together, I remember all the joy I had playing and wrestling with Dad when I was a kid.

I love listening to my son recite Bible verses, say his nightly prayer and sing worships songs about God.  It’s a wonderful thing.  I can’t wait for the day that Rylan makes a decision to turn from his sin, put his faith is Christ and be saved.

I’m so glad that Rylan can know my two dads and enjoy their love the same way I do.

I love you, Dad.

–Big Guy

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