Once in a while someone comes along who makes you smile.Â They make you feel good about life.Â They walk in the room and you just want to give them a big hug.
I regret to say Iâ€™m probably not one of them.
Which is why Iâ€™m dedicating this pre-election palate-cleanser of a piece to my wife and kids.Â These four â€œcalling cards to humanityâ€ bring a lot of joy to my days.Â Iâ€™d like to share some of that joy with you.
My wife and I have been married for 16 years.Â I canâ€™t say that those 16 years have been without their rocky moments, because there have been a few.Â There was a whole period of several years not long after we got married, for example, where it was impossible for me to walk through the doors of our church.Â She went without me, diligently, for months a time.Â Why couldnâ€™t I muster the emotional strength to get to church?Â Iâ€™m not entirely sure.Â I just know that, in spite of what it may seem as you read my work here on NoMoreGreed.com, I am a social misfit.Â Meeting and greeting new people is a huge emotional hurdle for me. Social mingling is akin to water torture.
But she stuck with me and I think we have a stronger relationship today because of that stick-to-it-iveness on her part.
More often than not my wife and kids bring smiles to my face.Â Theyâ€™re the spring in my step.Â When I finish the day at work I think about seeing our kids and I think about seeing my wife.Â Yeah, yeahâ€¦Â I know.Â Jesus is supposed to do that for me.Â He does.Â This family is His extension of grace and love to me every day and I never forget it.
Let me start with my wife.
Sheâ€™s funny.Â Sometimes sheâ€™s just plain nutty, like the time she dressed up like me for the Halloween parade.Â Or the time she dressed likeâ€¦Â which was it honey?…Â Count Chocula or Frankenberry?… for the class float at our college homecoming celebration one year.Â Beyond that she has a great sense of humor.Â Unfortunately I think she still thinks my buddy Ronn is funnier than I am, but Iâ€™ve learned to get over the crushing disappointment of not being the funniest guy in town.
Sheâ€™s compassionate.Â This is a woman who spent a summer volunteering in a camp for underprivileged kids in southwest Philly.Â She took a mission trip to Haiti when she was in college.Â She takes care of her aging, ailing father without complaint or hesitation.Â Over the years she has taken on care for friends and friendsâ€™ kids as they have gone through illness or emotional struggles.
Sheâ€™s artistic.Â Iâ€™ve been trying for 16 years to get her to share her vocal talent and in recent years sheâ€™s taken a few, small steps to the goal.Â Her voice isnâ€™t going to knock Beverly Sills out of the record rack, but I could listen to her all day long.Â Sheâ€™s a pretty darned good pinch-hit pianist, too.
Sheâ€™s diligent.Â How else could you describe a woman who manages to wrangle a husband and three kids the way she handles us?Â She just started back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and has gotten back into it smoothly.Â When she starts something she finishes it and people know they can count on her to come through in a pinch.
Sheâ€™s generous.Â Iâ€™m not the reason we give as much to charity as we do.Â My wife is.Â She cares about silly things like hitting the 10% mark on our giving.Â She writes the checks and makes sure they get in the till every week.
She puts up with me. That alone qualifies her for admittance to the “Unconditional Love” Hall of Fame.
Bottom line, sheâ€™s a light in my life that shines strongly and guides me home every day.
Then there are the kids.Â Oy, what a bunch of nuts they are!Â I kid, of course!Â (Sort of.)
You need to read my oldest sonâ€™s writing some day.Â In fact, I may be posting one of his latest creative writing projects here soon.Â The kid is a hoot.Â Heâ€™s intelligent, compassionate, and (sort of) serious minded.Â He can sit and ponder the implications of black holes or talk you till youâ€™re in a coma about Pokemon.Â Of course heâ€™s also a very sensitive Christian who knows how to stop and pray at a momentâ€™s notice if he senses someone needs it.Â Right now heâ€™s in my Sunday School class and it is one of the most refreshing experiences Iâ€™ve had with my kids.Â I have had the privilege to learn all over again why I love this kid so much.
My daughter (the middle child) is talented, funny, boisterous, loving, and, (occasionally), a real handful!Â This kid can go around the house merrily blithe to the fact that she is belting out a tune at the top of her lungs in pseudo-operatic style.Â She, too, is full of humor and joy and she can light up a room pretty quickly.Â Sheâ€™s a budding virtuoso pianist and I love to hear her practice.Â No, really!Â I love to hear her practice!Â Lately sheâ€™s even perfected her â€œround-offâ€ from a cartwheel sufficient to steer clear of the electronic drum kit, congas, air hockey table, and piano in our basement.Â Itâ€™s hard to tell who she is more like; my wife or I.Â Perhaps a little of both.Â God help her future husband!Â (Love that kid!)
Then thereâ€™s â€œthe bonus baby.â€Â Now when you say stuff like that, itâ€™s dangerous.Â You never know when itâ€™s going to come back to haunt you.Â When I heard him actually drop that quote on someone I realized we were in trouble.Â I call him the â€œdough boyâ€ as a pet name that has kind of stuck since the day he was born.Â Talk about energy!Â Talk about an imagination!Â The â€œdough boyâ€ is in almost perpetual motion!Â Heâ€™ll scurry around the house in a seemingly non-stop, kinetic ballet of pseudo-martial-arts thrusts and parries for hours if we let him.Â All the while, he is playing a â€œgame,â€ as he puts it, â€œin his mind.â€Â What heâ€™s really doing is keeping his imagination switched on and fully engaged.Â Like the other two, heâ€™s a pretty sensitive kid who knows how to slow down and bring comfort when itâ€™s necessary.
Yes, I need to confessâ€¦
Each one has â€œtheir moments.â€Â (I just love that euphemism!Â We parents know what that means, donâ€™t we.) Â And yes, we exercise our share of discipline from time to time.Â But I can honestly say that these kids are, for the most part, amazingly respectful to my wife and I even as the world around them is telling them that disrespect and dismissiveness toward parents is the growing norm.
My hope and prayer for each of you is simply thisâ€¦
As this election draws upon us, and as the uncertainty of the outcome likely lingers over our country for weeks, perhaps monthsâ€¦
Be absolutely certain to hug your spouse, kiss your kids, and build love before you build tension and discord.Â Be ready to build the kind of bridges of love and respect within your family that we seem to be wrecking with ease throughout our country.
Above all, thank God for the folks you have around you and let them know how much they mean to you.