This took guts…

Soldiers, Drinks, and My Messy Thank You

but oh man… it was totally worth it. I need to A) start loving people like this and B) be more open to following the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Is there someone or a group of someones you know who would say that they feel forgotten? What can you do to show them some lovin’? How can you help them feel remembered?


Real Men Mow Other Dudes’ Yards

Have the parallel lines in your yard left behind from your lawn mower ever made you cry?

Yeah… me either.

Until last night.

It’s been a crazy week for our family. On Tuesday, at the lovely and talented wife’s 39 week pregnancy appointment with the midwife, we were told that her blood pressure was too high, she might be preeclamptic, and that we needed to induce labor. After a lot of Googling, another appointment on Wednesday, a couple of really pleasant medical tests (one involving a large gallon jug that she had to fill with her urine over a 24 hour period), bed rest, a walk of shame with the aforementioned jug to the lab, several hours of deliberation, lots of prayer, and a second opinion, we finally decided the induction, though not how we wanted our daughter to enter the world, was what was best for both she and my wife.

At 6 a.m. on Thursday, we arrived at the hospital to start our journey. And while this could be a post about how studly my lovely, talented, and clearly bionic wife was throughout her 16 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing WITHOUT an epidural, I’m going to skip that and save it for another post.

Fast forward through all that to Saturday, and we were still in the hospital. The baby (taking after her mother) was already proving to be quite lovely and talented herself. She passed all her tests (APGAR, Jaundice, Heart Scan, etc.) with flying colors and all the doctors and nurses kept telling us how perfect she was. The lovely and talented wife was not so lucky. She was having pretty serious shortness of breath, a racing heart, and drops in her blood pressure every time she stood up and they were worried she might have had a pulmonary embolism, which is fancy shmancy medical language for a blood clot in her lungs. After two rounds of blood work, an IV with a saline drip to hydrate her, a CT scan, an EKG, a chest X-ray, an injection of blood thinner, and lots of sitting/standing blood ox readings, they finally ruled out the embolism and decided that she was probably just dehydrated and exhausted from 16 hours of labor and 2 hours of sleep in a 48 hour period (DUH!!!) which was slowing down her body’s process of replacing all the blood she lost during and after delivery which was causing the symptoms above.

This was about 8 p.m. last night.

Relieved that my wife was not, in fact, in mortal danger, my mind began to wander back to much less important things such as the fact that we were going to have to stay a third night in the hospital and I had only packed enough clean underwear for two nights.

My mother-in-law, who has been a God-send throughout the last few days, volunteered to stay with her lovely and talented daughter and granddaughter while I ran home to grab a pair of clean underwear and another change of clothes for today and I gladly took her up on her generous offer.

So I kissed my two favorite ladies in the whole wide world goodbye and headed to the parking garage with the keys to my mother-in-law’s minivan.

Twenty minutes later and I was pulling up in our driveway. It was after 9 p.m. and so it was dark outside, but from the illumination of the headlights I saw one of the most beautiful sights these two eyes had ever beheld. My grass, which was already starting to trend a bit to the long side when we left for the hospital on Thursday morning, had clearly just been mowed. Maybe it was the fact I had only had 4 hours of sleep since the previous Wednesday night, or maybe becoming a new father to the most precious little girl I’ve ever seen has made me just a bit overly sentimental these days, but either way, I literally started crying at the sight of the perfectly straight mower indentations that were now running across my lawn in every direction.

On Wednesday night, back before I became a dad and was still all footloose and fancy free, I had remarked to one of the visitors to our house the night before our induction that I wasn’t sure how or when I was going to mow my lawn between the birth of our daughter and the time when the legions of our friends and family started showing up over the course of the next few days with all kinds of support and food. The lawn perfectionist that I am, I told him how embarrassed I was going to be for people to see my yard like that. And though I realize how completely and utterly absurd that is… especially considering that 75% of my front yard is overgrown with crab-grass and will therefor not be winning any yard of the month awards anytime soon and not to mention the fact that real men probably don’t give a hoot about what other people think about their lawns anyway, I was frustrated by the situation nonetheless.

Earlier in the day on Saturday, this same friend had called and told me that he was at our house and was about to mow our yard. However, in the middle of our phone call, a woman in scrubs entered our hospital room and started trying to explain to us what was going on with my wife and so I abruptly had to get off the phone with him. Since there really was no time to reflect on how awesome this dude and his gesture of kindness was, I quickly moved on to more pressing matters… such as the health of my baby mama.

Until I pulled into my driveway later that night.

Where I just sat for a few moments and admired my freshly cut grass and the kindness of a man who simply heard me mention something in passing and turned it into an amazing act of generosity.

And that’s what real men do. They listen and look for little cues on ways to bless other people among the static and noise of every day life. And when a real man happens to stumble upon a cue that says, “Maybe this guy has enough stuff to worry about right now without having to worry about how his lawn looks when his friends and family show up to meet his daughter,” a real man takes action mows the other dude’s grass.

While you might not guess it from all the crab grass in my lawn this summer, I’ve always been pretty serious about the way my lawn looks. I think I got that from my dad. I love the way it looks right after it’s just been mowed as I sit on my front porch stewing in my own sweat and dirt as I sip on a lemonade and admire my handiwork. There’s just something about the smell of freshly cut grass and the way those indentations from the wheels look when they make perfectly straight parallel lines across my yard that warms my soul. But I have never, I repeat NEVER, cried over the beauty of that sight.

Until last night.

To the man who mowed my grass yesterday, you sir, are a rock star. I appreciate your kindly, generous, manly ways. I don’t know how or when, but I will make it up to you some day, I promise. Who knows, perhaps your yard will need to be mowed after the birth of your first child as well.

Until then, keep being awesome. You know who you are.

21.5″, 2 Days, 7 lbs 14 oz

Holding my daughter while she sleeps and contemplating how awesome it is to be a dad. The only thing that would make this moment any better would be if it were almost 7 PM instead of 7 AM because then we could be watching the OU football game together. Throw in a plate of bacon nachos and possibly a lemon chill and I might start flippantly tossing around words like “utopian” and “transcendent” — a man can dream, can’t he?

Less is More

Though I sometimes fail, I try not to spend too much time on Sunday blogging or doing other things that require mental or physical energy. In that spirit, instead of writing a post today, below is an excerpt from what I consider to be one of the best blogs out there on living a simple life:

a brief guide to life

less TV, more reading
less shopping, more outdoors
less clutter, more space
less rush, more slowness
less consuming, more creating
less junk, more real food
less busywork, more impact
less driving, more walking
less noise, more solitude
less focus on the future, more on the present
less work, more play
less worry, more smiles

And as always, these rules are meant to be broken. Life wouldn’t be any fun if they weren’t.

This list couldn’t have come at a better time for me. With the exception of the one about driving less, these are all habits I’m trying to cultivate in my life right now with varying degrees of success.

Enjoy your Sunday. Eat good food today. Speend time with friends and family. Take a nap. Be still. Carve out some time to reflect on your life. Go for a walk. Read a book. Play with your kids. Be a man.


A Real Man at a Swimming Pool Store

A little bit of background.

My mom’s parents moved to a house in Norman, OK over 10 years ago. One of the things that drew my granddad to the house was the fact that it had a swimming pool. He was a Navy veteran and had always had a bit of an amphibious side to him and so the idea of owning a pool was right up his alley.

My grandmother, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Some might even say she has a phobia of water. The swimming pool in their backyard was very much my granddad’s.

And he took care of it like it was his baby. From April through early October each year, without fail, you could show up at my grandparent’s house at anytime and find a crystal clear pristine blue swimming pool (much like the one above) just waiting for you to dive into. For years my granddad took almost daily samples of the water to the local swimming pool supply store to have it tested and to find out what balance and type of chemicals it needed.

For those of you who don’t know, keeping the water in a swimming pool clear and swimmable is no small task. But swimmable and clear he kept it… day in and day out.

But then he went into the hospital for heart surgery last November. Expecting it to be just a “routine” heart surgery that would have him back home in a few days and because of an unusually pleasant Oklahoma fall, the swimming pool had not been winterized before he went in for surgery.

Following a successful heart surgery, he had a stroke that kept him in and out of the hospital and assisted living until he passed away this past spring.

Just the other day, I was eating lunch with my grandmother and the subject of the swimming pool came up. She told me how good the pool looked, and knowing how much work it had been for my granddad, I asked her how in the world she was managing to keep it looking like that.

And that’s when she told me this story.

Though I’m still a little fuzzy on the details, back in November or early December, right after my granddad’s stroke either the guy who owns the pool store called my grandmother or she went in to see him. Either way, the conversation of winterizing the pool came up and the man told her not to worry about it and that he’d take care of it.

She asked him how much she owed him for it and he told her that my granddad had been such a good customer that he would winterize it for free and the two of them could settle up once he was out of the hospital.

Come to find out that this man did more than just winterize their pool in November. Ever since then he’s been sending someone over at least once a week to check the water and add any chemicals necessary to balance the pH.

After my granddad passed away in the spring, the man sent one of his employees over to “open” the pool for the summer. As recent as just a week ago, he is still sending someone over each week to take care of the pool for my grandmother.

When she approached him a couple months ago about how much she owed him for what he’d been doing, he told her not to worry about it. He told her that if she decided to sell the house in the next year or two, the pool needed to be in as pristine condition as possible for potential buyers. He told her they could settle up if and after she sold the house. In the mean time, however, he told her he would continue taking care of it.

Honestly, I’d be surprised if they ever “settle up” if and when my grandmother sells the house. In fact, I’d be surprised if he’s even keeping any kind of record of how many times he or one of his employees has been out to her house.

I have no idea what his name or the name of his pool store is, but I plan to find out. Though I’ve never met the guy and I wouldn’t recognize him if we passed on the street, I know just from the way he’s been treating my grandmother that he is clearly a real man.


Update: I found out today that the man’s name is Mike Thompson and he’s the owner of Thompson’s Pool… which is located just a few miles south of Lindsey off of 24th Ave in Norman. If you live in Oklahoma City and have a need for pool supplies, in this man’s opinion, it would be totally worth your time to drive down to Norman.