Saturday, June 15, 2013

Strong Hands

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love
Chasing things that I could give up

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me 'cause I can't do this alone.

-Sanctus Real

            What do you do when you plan a beach day and you wake up to a hissing sound from the water heater and you empty out the closet and find everything soaked from a leaky pipe? Well, if you are my husband, you patch the pipe, clean up the water, leave the rest of the mess for the next day, and take your family to the Chinese restaurant for lunch and then to the beach for an awesome afternoon. Not that this was accomplished without some shouting from everyone and a bit-just a bit-of whining from the kids. Not that the mess is going to be fun to deal with in a little while, or that we are thrilled that we will have to throw out the majority of books and games that were in that closet. But we did have a great afternoon, and I was honestly relieved that it was only a leaky pipe, since we have had to have plumbing repairs done quite recently AND had to replace the ancient washer and dryer which both gave up the ghost on the same day. Tough times don’t have to be altogether bad times.

            While we were at the beach, we found a live sand dollar. None of us had ever seen a live one before. Of course we put it back after looking at it, because you can buy dead, dried sand dollars at any local souvenir shop. We also played with hundreds of harmless, beautiful little jellyfish, the nearly transparent kind. As my husband was holding one of these small treasures in his large hands, I looked at his hands and thought about how they have the power to destroy. He could have easily crushed those tiny creatures. He chooses gentleness. He chooses to be kinder than is required or necessary. He is meek. The definition of meekness is not weakness; it is “power under control”. This pretty much sums up my Freddie, the man who could not kill a moth when he felt her heart beating, but also the man who I know could kill a lion if his family was in danger. The man who does what he has to do to keep this fragile little ship afloat, including a second job teaching online classes. In this economy, a third income is often necessary, especially for people with kids. I am glad his second job can be accomplished via the laptop in the living room, because we can be together.

            A father’s presence is important. A recent study showed that well over half of high-achieving students have involved fathers. I know many single moms who do a fantastic job, but it just must be so much harder on their own. I cannot imagine trying to do this whole parenting thing without my husband. I know that I was probably much more obedient to my mother than I would have been had I not had the shadow of my father looming over me, even when he had to be away on a business trip. My own kids are the same. They kind of disregard me, because moms just nag you and go psycho on you, but they generally do what they are told anyhow because Dad will be upset and disappointed if they don’t. My husband is the kind of dad you just don’t want to disappoint-not because he is mean, but because he is genuinely hurt and surprised when the kids don’t do what they are told. He is also good at making the consequences fit the crime and is reasonable about it, whereas I am the one to try to dole out some ridiculously exaggerate thing like, “You can’t go anywhere again, EVER, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!” Yeah, they take that seriously.

            On the way home yesterday, we passed, for the thousandth time, the spear hunting museum. I don’t know why there is a spear hunting museum in our county, but there is. Hardly anyone goes there, for even we Lower Alabamians who are fierce about our right to bear arms are kind of horrified by the idea of looking at dead animals that were killed for no reason whatsoever. There are certain ethics involved here. There is rumored to be an elephant in the museum, murdered before killing elephants became illegal .Whether this is actually true or not, most people I know would agree that there is nothing manly about killing animals with a spear just so you can stuff them and brag about it. As we were passing the museum, my girls commented on how much fun it would be to hear their dad question the spear hunter dude as to his logical reasons for slaughtering animals and causing them undue pain and suffering. My husband grew up around guns and hunting and fishing and has no problem with killing animals for food (although he personally chooses not to), or killing vermin that invade his home (as humanely as possible), or gently releasing a suffering creature from its pain, or shooting, say, a rabid dog or some other dangerous animal that is attacking or threatening human beings. All of this is Biblical and right, but in all cases should be done with a minimum of pain inflicted on the animal. That’s called good stewardship. Deliberate destruction or torture or neglect of God’s creatures, or any kind of pointless, random act that harms an animal, is shameful and probably even sinful. This is what my husband, a man of God, has taught his children.

            He has also taught them this-to be kind and compassionate to everyone, and treat them with dignity and respect. You don’t have to like them or agree with them or anything, but there is nothing to lose in being nice and gracious to people. He has taught them that when you get frustrated with the guy on the phone who is just doing his job working for the cable company, you have to back off and realize that he is not the one who is actually responsible for the fact that the cable company is lousy and doesn’t follow through. Then you have to apologize and tell him that you know it’s not his fault. And when the waitress in the restaurant is doing her very best even though the people in the kitchen haven’t done what they are supposed to do and they are shorthanded because of poor management, you smile at the waitress and thank her for her efforts and give her the most decent tip you can afford, because her job is not easy. You don’t make fun of people because they talk funny or aren’t very smart or can’t run fast or look different from you, and you don’t go around being self-righteous just because other people sin different from you. Be humble. Be brave in the face of adversity and get up every day with the attitude that you are going to do what you have to do and it’s going to be okay because God is going before you and stands beside you.

            My husband has strong hands and a strong heart. As a teacher, he impacts many students every day of his life, often without even realizing it. As a husband and father, he is superb. He is loving. He is tough when he needs to be. He is funny and he is tender. There is no subject that the kids feel uncomfortable discussing with him, and he turns every small outing into an adventure and a learning experience. When he messes up, he acknowledges it and asks forgiveness. He isn’t perfect because nobody is, but I would say he qualifies for the Dads’ Hall of Fame. He looks to God for answers because he knows that he cannot do this on his own. He listens and he loves. He leads his family with strong hands.

            Happy Fathers’ Day, Fredzy My Love!!!
This is our resolution
Our answer to the call
We will love our wives and children
We refuse to let them fall

We will reignite the passion
That we buried deep inside
May the watchers become warriors
Let the men of God arise.-Casting Crowns

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