Tag Archives: Birthday

Happy Birthday

I was surprised this evening as we celebrated my birthday quietly at my parents’ house. A knock on the door and a friend from church delivered this birthday cake for me. His daughter,

IMG_9050who had made it, delivered it with him. What a delightful surprise! Its the Ironman logo. What you can’t see is that on the right edge of the cake it says “Ironman” and on the other it says “Chattanooga”. How cool is that?

Friends and family carry you along the way on this journey of life. I know so many have prayed for me and for our family. So many have extended themselves to care for us. This was the latest example of the Father’s love expressed through His children. I am grateful… grateful to live among such excellent people. Last year I rode up a mountain on my bike. This year I took the day off training. I’ll be back at it tomorrow, sharpening up for the big race simulation on Saturday. But today was a day to savor being alive.

While this cake is a symbol of my racing goal for the year (Chattanooga Ironman, September 27th), it also puts a stamp on what it takes to keep living, keep loving and keep laughing. It takes an iron will. I will not back down in the face of loss. Oh yes, it hurts. Oh yes it claws at me. But I will overcome. I choose faith, hope and love. These three remain. They are the fertile soil that produces joy.


Today I Sat

As Katie steered the Honda out of the driveway and off to school, the quiet settled over the house. The sun was shining. Work needed to happen outside. I settled on the back patio, not fit to do much else. I skipped my normal Tuesday morning 5:30AM run with the group. I’m battling some sort of chest cold. I slept in until 6:00AM, what a treat! Saturday is the first long bike ride of the year, 85 miles down around the LBJ ranch. I’d like to be healthy for that. So I’m backing off the physical stress to see if I can kick this.

I felt OK today until about 3:30. Then I just crashed. I went down for a 30 minute nap and then realized when I woke that supper needed to get going because Luke had to leave at 5 for his ball game. I think I’ll need the extra rest tomorrow morning as well so I’m going to skip the 5:30AM swim tomorrow morning too.

Back to the sitting…I sat and I thought and I prayed. What about this? What about that? Little questions. Telling Father what’s on my mind and heart. Giving it to Him to let Him sift it and give it back. No answers yet. That’s ok. I trust Him.

I sat some more tonight. My daughters were inducted into the National Honor Society and as I sat through the ceremony I was so proud of them. They’ve endured so much change in the last 24 months. Their mother went from remission to fading quickly and then gone. They had to go to a new school, make new friends and learn new  skills. They’ve become meal managers and cooks, cleaners and brother sitters. They could have folded, called  it quits and airmailed it in. But they didn’t. I’d like to think part of that reason is that I’ve dedicated myself to being plugged in, leaning into them during this time and forging new relational links that just didn’t have to exist when they had a mother.

Yes, that’s definitely part of it. But part of it is the 50% of their mother they have in them. They’ve handled all the change with amazing grace and skill, just like her. And of course, another part of it is the grace from the Father. He strengthens us when we are weak. All of us have been there. But now we’re working with Him to bring about good things: Luke turns 12 on Monday. We are celebrating on Sunday evening. I’m sorry you won’t be able to come. Its going to be a hoot! LIterally!

Its a Harry Potter themed party complete with owls in cages. Our dining room table is covered in decor, ready to turn our house into everything from Kings Cross Station (Platofrm 9&3/4) to the Hogwarts Castle. The girls are the driving force behind this creative binge, but we’re all engaged. Everyone is excited about it.

We’re doing life together. Celebrating the passage of another year. And believe me, we don’t take those years for granted any more! A birthday celebration is big news!

I thought today would be wasted, in the sitting. But in the sitting I found rest not only for my body but encouragement for my heart and soul.

18 + 476 Surprise!

Katie was stunned…completely unsuspecting. “Gee there are a lot of people here for Bible study tonight.” She quipped as we rolled to a stop.

Megan delivered the perfect response, “Yep, more parents have been staying around to visit lately.”

And with that we hopped out of the car and sauntered to the front door. I squeezed the latch, pushed it open and let Katie step through first. The roar was deafening! Close to 60 friends and family were on hand to provide resounding culmination to her 16th birthday.

Thursday night was a block party dinner with neighbors that turned into a celebration of Katie and kicked off four days of birthday festivities. Friday night was our special daddy/daughter date and what an evening it turned out to be.

A friend loaned us his shiny, black, convertible BMW Z4 sports car. Katie’s jaw dropped when she stepped out and saw the surprise ride for the night. Dinner was elegant and then we cruised all the Austin hotspots with the top down… the smiles of enjoyment and contentment from my delightful daughter were priceless.

Saturday was “just” another birthday dinner for her, out with some friends while I was in Waco checking in for my race. But yesterday was the big day. When my dad and I returned to his house after the race, we met the children there and mom spoiled us with chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and her famous chocolate pie (all at Katie’s request) for lunch. Of course this hungry post-race dad didn’t complain at all…just stuffed it in my face as fast as I could!

Katie ripped through her presents but the shocker was a brand new iPhone. She was hoping for it but I don’t think she was really expecting it. A true blessing to give good gifts to your children! She hung on my neck in thanks, shedding tears of gratitude for what felt like several minutes. A blessed moment.

And that was it…or so she thought. When “SURPRISE” was hollered by the collective voice of her friends she was flabbergasted…in the best way possible. She floated around the house, beaming but a bit dazed. THANK YOU to everyone who so thoroughly celebrated our precious daughter this week. You have blessed and encouraged this dad in his inner core.

Please keep us in prayer as we have a very busy eight days ahead of us:
Today, prep for flight to CA tomorrow.
Tomorrow: Flights and travel
Wed-Fri: Travel throughout N CA to see family. (revisit the mountain top location where I proposed to Kristi)
Sat-Sun: Travel to Mt Hermon in Santa Cruz mountains to attend staff reunion. (revisit the location where Kristi and I first met)
Sunday, August 4th: Reception for Kristi in Danville.
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Fly back to Texas.

The girls have minor head colds…I think I gave them what I had last week. The boys have been immune so far. Praying for good health this week as we embark on a celebration of Kristi.

I was dead dog tired last night…the race, the adrenaline of competition, the 3:50AM wake-up to get to the race, the birthday celebration, the surprise party…but it was a good, thankful tired, not a sorrowful tired. And that’s a good, surprising way to go to sleep.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed…its a way of life

18 + 471 Day By Day

The Father is ever present in our midst and giving grace in a time of recovery and grief. We’ve prayed together, sang together and read scripture together as a family. And yes we’ve laughed together. I just take each day as it comes to me. Yesterday and today I’ve been physically tired. The cold/allergies I dealt with over the weekend are gone, but I’m just recovering my strength slowly. I’m taking it easy to regain my stamina before the triathlon this weekend. Speaking of the weekend… Our precious Katie turns sixteen on Sunday!

I’m taking her out to eat, just she and I, for a special daddy/daughter date on Friday evening to a high class seafood and steak place. Yes, we will get dressed up and I’ll get to show her how a gentleman handles himself when in her presence. Sunday we will celebrate her at my parents after I get back from the early morning race.

Both she and Megan have quietly stepped up to the plate this last week and a half. They are handling things around the house that need doing without me having to ask. Or if I do point out something that needs attention, one or the other simply takes care of it without a complaint. Such a blessing! They wanted to plan out our meals this week, so we listed them out and all five of us shared an adventure at the grocery store on Sunday to stock up for the week. It wasn’t all that different really, I’ve been doing the shopping for most of the last year already. It’s like many of the tasks that I find at hand, I’ve taken most of them on over the past year, it’s just that now I realize it’s mine in perpetuity.

And I’m having to pay attention to things that dads don’t normally…how much sugar have the boys consumed today? When was the last time they changed their underwear? How about a shower? Can I see the carpet in their room? Have they been well hugged? What about a story, have they been engaged? How much time on the electronics? Have the girls been able to get time alone? Do they need to talk? Moms seem to have an intuitive built-in barometer for these things. Dads, well, dads like to count basic things…Are all four of them here? Yep, we’re good!

Seriously, the energy required to build in an automatic awareness of the states of cleanliness, the pantry stock level, the emotional tenor and intellectual stimulation to name but several may explain my tiredness of the last two days. But I’m getting there. All of this of course reminds me of Kristi’s absence and how much I miss her. At the same time that it aches, I let it remind me of how well we learned to live together and quality of the home we built. And that home is running pretty well right now, all things considered. The children have been amazing.

They are looking forward to Katie’s birthday and then the trip out to California next week. So if you’ll pardon me, I’ve got a sweet sixteen birthday to pull-off, a travel list to make, duffles to pack, boys to scrub and a race to compete.

As each busy day unfolds, I know He’s right there with me every step of the way. Thanks for your continued prayers. We look forward to seeing so many more of you next week!

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed