Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pleasant Experiences

One morning earlier this week I was sitting on our screened in porch with my son, Gabriel.  Lately, it's been slightly warmer than normal here in Virginia and this particular morning it was nice, sunny and breezy.  I took the lounge seat in the corner resting Gabriel in between my propped up knees so he was facing outward with a view of the blowing trees and leaves.  As he settled, he began to coo and make those lovable baby noises and sounds.  He then began to turn his head slowly left then right taking in all the colors, sounds and sensations of the trees, the leaves, the birds and the breeze.

I stared at him and realized that he was watching these things for the very first time, not as clear as he will later, but still experiencing the enjoyable shapes, hues and wind.  If only we could relive that moment in our lives in it's pure raw freshness, it's newness and excitement.  The realization of something so intriguing and pleasurable, something as we grow we ultimately learn to call beauty.

As I thought about him taking in this experience that I will tell him about one day years from now, I thought about all the noise and ugly things in the world that he will have to see as he grows; all the hateful and terrible ways people talk to and act toward one another with such disrespect.  It made me think of the upcoming elections and all the vitriol and ugliness being spewed about by candidates, pundits and supporters.  

I've whispered into his little ear many times since he was born to always respect others, be good and kind to others even when they might be disrespectful to you.  I will continue to remind him of this as he grows.  One day he'll have the opportunity to have the special experience of casting a vote and I hope it's a pleasant experience.  I can only hope that civil discourse will return to a level of respect where compromise and mediation again become tools for good and compassion. 

With that in mind and election day only a week away please take a moment to check out the below list of things good for individual civic duty that I share with you from my good friend, Derek Maul.  Derek writes periodically for the online site, "All Pro Dad" from which the list was originally written and subsequently shared by Derek on his blog:

Derek Maul

Thanks Derek! I had to share.

Remember to cast your ballot next Tuesday. Peace.
-Ray

10 Things to teach your kids about politics (It's possible to disagree with respect, to be wrong with integrity, and to be right with humility)
A well-known adage declares that polite conversation always steers family away from politics, religion or sex. But we say that’s bunk!

If we’re not talking about these things in our family, then our kids are most certainly having the conversation elsewhere. “Elsewhere” should never be the primary source of facts, discussion, advice and grounding when we have the opportunity to talk about important matters at home.

This time it’s politics, and it’s a subject that’s always timely. Here at All Pro Dad we don’t want you to necessarily think like us – but we do want you to think. And we want you to teach your children how important it is to replace bias, and rumor, and prejudice, and misinformation with a thoughtful look at what makes America tick politically.

The greatest enemy of freedom is a people unprepared to engage in intelligent debate and thoughtful decision-making. Don’t be that guy.
Here are 10 things we all need to think about when it comes to politics:
1. Freedom relies on widespread participation in the political process: Kids need to understand that it’s important to take part. Not voting and not thinking about politics is a decision to not value liberty.
2. The Constitution: We need to teach our children the U.S. Constitution. They need to be familiar with the contents and understand how it was written and why it gets amended.
3. An open mind is not a political affiliation! Party affiliation does not determine receptivity to new ideas. Openness to growth and learning is more of a spiritual condition. A closed mind can repel wisdom irrespective of our politics.
4. Our political preference is not a religion: Politics does not provide spiritual nurture, nor does our leaning necessarily say anything about our standing with God. The writer of the Declaration of Independence acknowledged that “The Creator” endowed us with fundamental rights, not the government, and certainly not one political party.
5. Free speech should not be a higher value than courtesy: It is important that our children understand the necessity of courtesy in political discourse. It is possible to disagree with respect, to be wrong with integrity, and to be right with humility. This is where parental modeling is of the essence.
6. It’s okay to get excited! America was born out of passionate disagreements, has been sustained by heartfelt debate, and will remain strong because of - not in spite of - sometimes over-enthusiastic differences of opinion: While #5 is true, it’s also important that our kids realize it’s Okay to be fervent in our views and to communicate our convictions with enthusiasm.
7. Children must learn to think for themselves: Too many people have given up critical analysis in favor of simply parroting other people’s opinions as their own. This is not only lazy, but dangerous. The greatest threat to democracy is a voting public – and families - who don’t think things through.
8. Listen to both sides: Teach your kids to listen to both sides of a debate and to pay attention to people they think they will disagree with. We must learn how to cultivate multiple sources when gathering information.
9. The truth can handle good questions: If children don’t understand, they should always ask. Good questions reveal truth… or the lie. Either way, good question asking is critical to a political process that works
10. People who disagree with us are not by definition un-American: We all know people who believe everyone should walk in lockstep (both in politics and in religion). We must teach our children that there is always more to learn, that people who disagree with us aren’t always wrong, and that narrow-mindedness is the shortest path to political oppression.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reflections on 5 Weeks

My boy, Gabriel turned 5 weeks old today and is growing by leaps and bounds.  He's put on almost 5 lbs. by our estimate since his birth day!  We'll find out how much at the official weigh-in tomorrow during his next scheduled pediatrician appointment.  He's bringing joy to us all; not sleeping through the night quite yet, but he makes it a little longer with each passing night. 

I will always remember my first instance of missing him.

On October 8th I got up early to travel to a Ripley, West Virginia.  There at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center, the men of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of West Virginia held their annual Disciples Men retreat.  I'd committed to attending the event several months back for the purpose of  promoting a 2012 national men's event.  I knew I was going to miss my son, but didn't know what to expect this, my first time being away from he and Kim since his birth.  I tried to put the best face I could on the decision of keeping my commitment.  Kim was very supportive of my going, but was also able to voice her wish that I'd not go.  I wasn't as understanding as I should have been.

I arrived at the retreat early that Friday afternoon in time to help out with some set up, provide some promotional materials, signage and just get settled in before the official kick-off of the weekend event.  The facility was great and I found my room very comfortable and accommodating.  So, I decided to take about 30 minutes of downtime to catch some well deserved nap time to recharge.  The sleep time was fulfilling; more so than I expected.  So much so, that as I groggily awoke to the alarm I'd set on my cell phone I thought I heard the new, but already familiar sound of my son's baby cry.

Those first few moments of disorientation and unfamiliarity with the surroundings of my room and the sounds I thought I was hearing was really a strange feeling, but as I began to realize where I was I also began to realize how much of an impact he's already had on me; any father knows what I'm talking about.

Friday evenings fellowship gathering and presentation was great.  I was able to meet and talk with many old and new faces.  Some of the men knew about the birth of Gabriel, but most did not.  After talking with 'mommy' and thinking about 'lil' man' I decided that I'd not stay for the entire retreat time.  The power nap sounds of Friday afternoon resounded throughout the rest of my time with the very gracious and hospitable Disciples Men of the Mountaineer state. 

As I gave my brief Saturday morning presentation to the men, I concluded by recalling my Friday afternoon experience.  I shared that I was so happy to be a father of a beautiful son who I hope to someday bring to events such as theirs.  I felt the emotion of my voice as I thanked the men for their time and support.  What a great group of men, happy for me and so understanding of my decision to make my stay brief. 

I was back home by late Saturday afternoon.  It truly was a great and joyous weekend for the West Virginia men...and for me.  I certainly look forward to more fellowship opportunities with this group.

Enjoy this video of the West Virginia men.  The sing pretty good!
video

Fraternally yours,
Ray

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Greetings and Welcome...

Greetings and welcome to you!

This is my blogspot.  I hope you enjoy reading and sharing my postings with others.  I thought some time about whether I wanted to do this, but I feel a calling from the Creator to share.  I have also been inspired by a couple of great writers who have become my friends over the last couple of years.  So, I figured if they can do it, why can't I?!

You might be wondering where the title of 'Tuesday Afternoons' came from.  Well, it was on a Tuesday afternoon 4 weeks ago today that I was with my wife, Kim at the hospital waiting for the birth of our son, Gabriel.  Although he was born later that evening, 10 pm to be exact, that afternoon prior to his arrival was so special for me as I saw Kim endure labor and then a 'C' section to bring Gabriel into the world.  The anticipation of his arrival and all the thoughts and ideas that filled my mind were joy filled moments I will never forget. 

Gabriel
I never thought I'd have a child, especially at 48 years of age, but I'm still in amazement of what all has transpired for us over the last year.  Going from being told we had less than a 1% chance of having a child without IVF to the day in early January that we discovered who needed IVF!

So...today I start this blog off by sharing with you the joy of our little man's birth a month ago and a song that also helped inspired the blog title.  This 'Moody Blues' tune (link below) happened to be in my car's CD player that day.  Enjoy this 1970 video I found.  Oh...yes...I love music too!      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPLWBhNW3FM

I hope that going forward I can share with you thoughts and ideas on what it means to be, as in the words of a friend, a 'Jesus Follower' along with all sorts of other stuff to reflect upon.  I enter this process with the understanding that we are all on separate spiritual journeys in our lives so I hope my words can be a light to someone somewhere and have a positive impact.

Peace be with you!
-Ray

PS- the title pic is from a trip we took this past May to beautiful St. Michael's, MD on the Chesapeake Bay. Great getaway spot!