Morning by Morning (4/30/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The grace of God to provide the right people when I feel lonely and the right encouragement when I feel down. I am doing my best to connect and stay connected with God in this process, and depend on him. Even when I am not doing so well God finds ways to support me and surround me and bring me joy.
  2. Continued good work and conversation with Natalie, my new colleague at work.
  3. Positive people and their effect on others.
  4. The feeling of soreness after good workouts.
  5. Seeing Ryan today after missing him for the weekend. I don’t like that someone else chose this life for me and Ryan, but when I get to see him after a break it means the world and helps me forget the aforementioned frustration.
  6. Ryan’s swim classes.

Morning by Morning (4/28/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Seeing an inside the park home run last night at a Sugarland Skeeters game. I have never seen one in person and is super exciting!
  2. Hanging with Adam Boatz last night and having tons of fun and laughs with my good friend.
  3. Hanging with Stephen Lucas today- love his willingness to drive back and forth to Abilene in one day and play disc golf in Abilene. He made my trip a breeze with good conversation and laughter (and also needed processing of my life!).
  4. Sharing in fellowship with Oplin Church of Christ at their 100th anniversary today. It was a great blessing to see people again and hear the stories that make up its legacy. Even as a city slicker, I feel such a part of their family!
  5. Oplin potlucks with all the great food and unending display of delicious desserts!!
  6. This!!

Morning by Morning (4/26/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Doing a school project with Ryan for the first time. He is now of the age where he has little homework or art projects to do! How fun!
  2. Having a nice shelter to come back to.
  3. Having a bed to sleep on every night.
  4. Reading Scripture and having some meditation time in the morning.
  5. Opportunities to “talk it out.” I’m blessed to have some good friends and good people who will love on me by letting me talk and process and after doing so, walking away feeling strengthened and empowered.

Morning by Morning (4/24/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Hearing laughter from our ICU nurses. There’s something about the strength that is reflected when they laugh.
  2. Swimming with Ryan yesterday- he loves splashing and on top of that, he gets his imagination going and I just smile with gratefulness to see it all.
  3. The hug of Ryan whenever he is upset about something. Whenever he’s in trouble, he will get his time out or my angry voice, but I always try to hug him as part of the transition to doing better and that is immensely meaningful to me and I think for him too. I get to validate his tears and reframe what just happened and it’s good.
  4. Watching the 50 point quarter from the Rockets last night. As a sports fan, seeing a 50 point quarter and great offense is spectacular.

Morning by Morning (4/23/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. One of my favorite chaplains ever, Tom Sharon, who celebrates his birthday today. Tom is so conscientious and full of compassion, but also brings a grandfathers joy and gentleness. What a treasure to serve alongside him and grow in my ministry because of him.
  2. The string of beautiful mornings we have had recently. They make for beautiful morning walks with Ryan and Bailey (my dog). Even Ryan notices because he says when we walk out, “It’s beautiful today Daddy!”
  3. Calming breathing and the relief that comes.
  4. Seeing smiles on others faces.
  5. The pleasure of eating ice cream and watching Ryan devour his ice cream beside me.
  6. The relative health of my lower body and legs which allows me to do a ton of walking and running and playing with Ryan.
  7. Playing with Ryan and his water guns.

A Single Parents Tale, Part 1

This journey has been eye opening to say the least.

Today Ryan and I left the park and got into the car on a sunny day and it seemed unreal. We were happy, played out by sand and slide, and ready to be home. But we weren’t driving back to mom or my wife or to his brother, but to an apartment that is only filled with beautiful noise when we are there. We are alone. It just seems unreal.

There are things about single parenting that sadly I didn’t really know before this.

  • Just how tired a single parent is
  • How lonely a single parent may feel
  • The lack of adult conversation for a single parent (sometimes I swear I talk in 3 year old when I am not with Ryan!)
  • The yearning for affirmation for my parenting without the partner who appreciates you
  • The waves of emotion that continue regarding your child’s other parent and having to communicate effectively without that frame
  • How limited dinners can become because you just don’t feel like making mor happen
  • The lure and lull of routine
  • The amount of time I spend playing with my kid
  • The play dates or lack thereof for my kid
  • Feeling like a pariah at your own church because of “divorce” or just people trying to avoid the conversation of your struggle
  • Feeling unseen or ignored
  • Feeling like you are always having the same conversation about being lonely!
  • The gratitude for breaks
  • How much love fills you for your child

I was ignorant unintentionally before all of this. I mean, when I started dating a single mother, I learned a great deal. Don’t get me wrong. But I also saw a mother who was surrounded by family and a couple best friends. I don’t have my family nor do I have any single best friends. So in that way it is unique for me, although I am also cognizant that I am not the only one who has gone through this and that I may not be as unique as I like to think!

Being a single parent is full of mixed experience. One of the things that is on my mind today is how much I desire for my son to have play dates and engage other families at church. Being a single parent often means not getting invited out, and I know this being a parent in a couple who had the opportunities to invite single parents and their kids out and not doing so. I can’t say I don’t feel isolated or avoided at times, but I also can’t say that some of those times aren’t driven by the lack of trust I’ve inherited from the way my relationship ended. Those feelings still exist, and it gets me thinking about other past situations. In fact, I was thinking today about some of the kids of single parents and how they often seem disconnected from the church family (seeing the experience of the past 3 churches I’ve been a part of),and it hit me that when single parents and their families aren’t asked out or the kids have play dates, the kids themselves suffer from exactly what we as Christians strive against: church being just Sunday morning! If Ryan doesn’t get many opportunities for spending time with other families in our church, he then only knows church people and church as that one event every Sunday morning, not his extended family. I yearn for him to be treasured among our congregation and even have his turn saying the Lords Prayer at church. Being mindful of this, I feel guilty for how I have isolated others not even knowing I was doing so and being mindful of those effects on the kids of those families.

Now some of you may wonder if I am being a complainer or if this is just convenient for me to say now that I am this position. Some of you may wonder if I am being harsh on my church or other churches. But let’s be honest here. People get into their own lives, just like I do. I love my church family deeply and they love me and Ryan just as deeply. We as people are just often unaware of what we don’t know and haven’t experienced. For those who are single parents, you know what it’s like to spend most of every week as the sole adult in your household with your child depending on you every morning or most days. To be fair, I do get breaks because of our custody schedule so there is that. The blessing of church family hangout time is that both father and son are loved, father gets a short break with other adult eyes around with good mental stimulation, and that my son grow to love our church family as the rocks that they are during our transition and our continued journey past that. We get that blessing some, but I want more for us as we continue through a challenging transition.

But here’s the deal for me in all of this. This predicament of a single parent and the relationship to their church is a two way street. Inviting out a parent and child for dinner or lunch or play dates is important, but so is my attitude and interactions at church. I have to be more joyful and inviting myself, but also honest and real. I have to engage others if I hope others to engage me. And actually, neither side should be predicated on the other, but if one side is less inviting or more uncertain of engagement, the struggle becomes cyclical right? So what am I saying in all of this? What does this part of my single parents tale is so critical? It is that I am getting plenty of support, but I need more and so does Ryan, (and no I don’t mind sounding needy, because I know there is a difference between knowing what I need and being needy) and that I am engaging and trying to have a positive attitude, but I need to be better for myself and for a Ryan. That’s on me.

Many times, people give advice to those going through a transition that it’s about attitude and seeking what you want. In telling a part of my “tale” it is my way of saying here is what I love and what I want. I want our church to be our church and not seek another, and I love having a church who is our family. But this is one of the great challenges from what I’ve seen and heard from many single parents. And it’s one we share too. I wouldn’t name it if I didn’t see how God has blessed me and my family before at our church. In that way, it’s a prayer.

Morning by Morning (4/21/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Getting to catch up with 2 good friends from TCH, Kim and Angela, at Kim’s daughters birthday party. Such wonderful people and friends.
  2. Levy Park and it being one of Ryan’s favorites for its hills and large slide.
  3. Saturday morning sleep ins.
  4. Ryan’s art show and festival at school last night. They do such a great job providing regular festivals and opportunities for the kids and parents to get to know each other. I love Grace Episcopal Day School!
  5. Attending a wedding tonight!
  6. Watching kids have fun and be completely in the moment.

Morning by Morning (4/20/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Jaime and Naomi Walters, and how they live their parenthood and family life with thoughtfulness, intentionality, and humor. I deeply respect them and hope that I can reflect some of the qualities they share with their kids.
  2. Bo’s Place, and their great service to kids and families.
  3. Meeting new people.
  4. This new life with circumstances that I didn’t choose but which provides with the opportunity to be who I am and surround myself with those who bring out the joy and life in me.
  5. A clear blue sky. Something about the broadness and grandness of a wide and clear sky is amazing and full of awe for me.

Morning by Morning (4/19/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Ryan’s deep belly laugh when something is very truly joyful and funny to him. I love that I can make him laugh and that I get the opportunity to do so, which I think is an amazing privilege of being a dad.
  2. Having our new chaplain Natalie with us now and having her presence, wisdom, skill, and energy apart of our group now.
  3. Sitting in quiet on my balcony last night. I needed some quiet reflection after a long week with Ryan as I am continuing to help him feel comfortable and at ease in my place.
  4. Libbi M and Alex W, nurses in the ICU who I’ve noticed have have handled incredibly challenging experiences and days. They have handled them professionally with lots of staff around and handled through advocacy and expertise and always gently!

Morning by Morning (4/17/18)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The grace and forgiveness that I receive from Ryan after tough nights when I don’t always have the best patience. Ryan is what sustains me and his ability to see me as his loving dad and see past my failings is such a gift.
  2. The book, A Grief Unveiled. It is a powerful insight into the journey of grief.
  3. The stirrings that come when I see the calm waters of a lake or stream.
  4. Our dining table, which has become a coloring book with marks and crayon designs. I encouraged Ryan to color the table and it is slowly becoming a reflection of imagination and creativity and reckless coloring.