During the Christmas holiday, I reminisced about the highlights and milestones for the year. I thought of what I was thankful for: a beautiful wife who loves me more every year, three wonderful children who I’m privileged as their father, generous friends and family who give us their time to walk beside us in good times and bad, an enriching career that can fully support our family financially, and a hope and faith to guard and lead us through the darkness in the world.
In addition to all those blessings, a few new ones emerged in 2012.
Learning to Play the Guitar
Pastor Steve Mitchell, who baptized me, once shared a touching memory where he listened to his youngest daughter play the guitar and singing upstairs. In late September, I began learning how to play the guitar with two goals in mind. I dreamed that my children would have a love for music as Jennilyn and I do, and as their grandparents do. I hoped that my kids would be inspired by watching me learn how to play the guitar.
Secondly, I wanted to worship with music. While I could have just expanded my basic skills with a piano, I love the sound of an acoustic guitar. And learning something new helped me remember what it is like to be a beginner.
I started watching the beginner’s course on YouTube by JustinGuitar. I learned a few beginner chords, strumming patterns, and easy songs to get me going. Jenni’s dad, my dad, and Clark all gave me tips too.
My Christmas highlight this year is my family singing Silent Night, Away in a Manger, and Frosty the Snowman as I strummed along on the guitar.
Here were the songs I practiced, with varying levels of completeness:
- 10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman
- This Year’s Love – David Gray
- Mad World – Gary Jules
- Silent Night
- Away in a Manger
- Frosty the Snowman
- You’re Beautiful – Phil Wickham
- I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
My company encouraged its employees to try a new physical activity as part of its summer fitness challenge, and I gave basketball a try. My coworkers in the basketball group were very generous and friendly as I stumbled with dribbling, repeated air balls, and clumsy falls on the court. Still, I look forward to it every week as a fun way to get exercise.
The best part is that Jennilyn occasionally brings all the kids to watch and cheer. I’m sure my coworkers are jealous as I have my own cheering section. Violet always laughed loudly because she enjoyed watching my hair bounce up and down when I ran down the court—especially when I was overdue for a haircut.
Reading to Each Other
One ritual we started in 2011 and continued this year was reading together. The idea came from a marriage book we went through last year where the author described the differing activities that he and his wife looked forward to every night. One of the nights was reading together.
We began with Jurassic Park, because I never finished it when I was in Alaska for a summer fifteen years ago. We got two-thirds through before we jumped to a different book when Jurassic Park was due at the library. We also wanted a spiritual book to help us continue growing in our faith. We’re almost done with A.J. Swoboda’s Messy.
Health and Healing
We all made dramatic lifestyle choices to improve our health. Jennilyn visited a new doctor at Cannon Beach who performs testing with a voll machine. It revealed to us that we were all dealing with some gut problems.
I joined in Jenni’s dietary restrictions and experienced her gluten-free lifestyle. It made meals a chore and frustration because of all the additional precautions and preparations. I grew an appreciation of the convenience I had taken for granted, but my health improved for it. With regular exercise from walking more and consciously doing physical activities, I lost weight like I had hoped.
After a few months of the intense diet and lifestyle change, I was able to remove some of the dietary restrictions, but I still avoid gluten when I can. It’s still a struggle, but after reading research about how much processing goes into the food we eat, I’m beginning to wonder about the damage we are doing internally by eating heavily processed and modified foods.
Family of Five
Kadie has been a wonderful second mother and helper. She helped Jenni take care of Bruce. She watches Bruce and Violet sweetly, offering Bruce toys when he cries and helping Violet turn on the sink to wash hands before meal time. She enjoyed sweeping the kitchen, picking up toys, doing dishes with daddy, but, most of all, helping her mommy make sweet treats.
She surprised us this year by starting to read books on her own. She has always loved books and she memorized several of them from hearing us read them aloud repeatedly. But she read a sixty-page Dr. Seuss book aloud and I could go to any random page, and she knew the words!
Violet went from being our two-year-old drama queen to a three-year-old firecracker. It is probably her terrible-threes coming through, but her sugar-sweet side is mirrored by an opposite burning hot-headedness. Still, she is bold and head-strong. I appreciate that she enjoys being snuggled and cozy on the couch. She has also learned from her sister and mother’s artistic eye as I see her toys arranged in designer ways.
Bruce changed our manageable two-parents-to-two-kids arrangement to an almost chaotic zone-defense whirlwind. Bruce is strong, curious, and loves to laugh. I fondly remember playing the video game Defense Grid each night while I bounced him in my lap to put him to sleep. It was nice to have something with just him and me to start building our bond. I’m more thankful for his love of music, and now, I can help him get to sleep by playing a guitar.
A Day is a Year and a Year is a Day
I am reminded each day when I come home from work how blessed I am with my family. Kadie and Violet always yelled, at the top of their little lungs, “Daddy!” when I came home from work. Bruce did his low-and-manly holler as well, and all three kids ran/crawled to the front entrance to greet me. I got a loving smile and kiss from my beloved wife, and I am home with all the treasures of the world.
I thank God for all that I have (and what I do not). I pray that all my friends and family experienced His peace, provision, and power this past year.
I’m looking forward to a new year, because it can only get better.