Take Time for Your Priorities and Live

Health and Wholeness Personal Development Relationships What Your Father Should Have Taught You

Welcome to What Your Father Should Have Taught You for the first Sunday in February 2024. This is not something that my father told me so much as showed me about how to live and relate to your children and family. From my earliest time I remember sitting on the front step with my dad, often using him as a jungle-gym crawling under his arm and over his back to where he could somersault me over the top and set me on my feet in front of him. Decades later, I was sitting on the front step in Sheridanville, Ft. Dix, NJ and my (at the time only son,) was using me for a jungle gym and I flipped him head over heels and set him down on his feet in front of me and he giggled. But what is most memorable to me about that wasn’t playing or wrestling with my son, we did that almost every night, it was the young girl and a couple other neighbor kids between 6 and diapers who were standing there and talking to us when the young girls said, “I wish my Dad would play with me like that.” I remember that because her voice, and the agreement of the other kids struck me as so very sad and lonely. Its not hard. It just takes some time to be truly present. “I don’t have time!” so many might say. “Bullshit! Everyone has 24 hours in the day don’t blame the clock because you don’t have your priorities set correctly.

Welcome Freedom Troopers to SabersEdge.Online. Many say the American Dream of a wife and 2.3 kids and a house in the burbs is dead. Good riddance, because that was never the American Dream at all. Someone switched the price tags on you. The American Dream was to live free or die and many still have that. Life free, marry someone that you love, have children, and live life to your fullest. That is the meaning of life and that was always the American Dream. To have time and ability to live our own life and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

But some Satan-spawned character decided that the American Dream was about money and doing whatever you could get away with and looking out for “number one.” First of all, number one should be your relationship with the Living God in whom we live, move, and have our being. It is the ground of being and the source of life – whatever you may call it. But when Christ came, he said that he came that we might have life and live that abundantly. He wasn’t talking about heaven. He was talking about living now. The religious people of the day he called “white-washed sepulchers” in other words he called them “fancy tombs” they may look impressive on the outside, but they were dead on the inside. I fear that describes all too many churchgoers today…. worse, it describes too much of people everywhere. Tony Campolo said that when we are little we were taught to say the prayer “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” That was back when Americans weren’t so freakin’ terrified of death. But Dr. Campolo said what most of us should pray (if we were honest,) is “Lord, if I should wake before I die.”

This is because most of us walk around as if we are already dead and just going through motions. There is no living in our life.

Inexplicably to my wife I love zombie movies. But not all zombie movies. I liked the Romero Zombie movies. In each of his movies he had zombies blindly shuffling along the same paths they did when “alive” they walked back and forth to work, in one a post man zombie walked down the street putting letters from his bag in the empty mailboxes then came up the other side of the street and took the letters out of the mailboxes, then back the first street taking the letters back out and putting them in his bag and then up the second street filling the mailboxes back up. There were ticket vendors and others who still sat iin their chairs at the ticket booth or executive zombies stumbling around with briefcases full of money. Romero’s zombies were a statement about society. We were already living as zombies so when we die and become zombies we shuffle back to the mall because that is what gave us “life.” It’s a bit pathetic but it is funny (or tragic, depending on your mood,) because it has a kernel of truth in it.

When I got home from work my first hour was for my family. I walked the dog and family around the block or took the dog and kids to the park. In the winter I crawled around the living room and we shot squirt guns at each other or when he was small, I put my son in a laundry basket and picked it up like it was an airplane and we “flew” around the living room. Or, if I was really tired, I lay on the floor and let the kids and dogs crawl all over me then, when dinner was ready, they could each stand on one of my feet as we walked to the kitchen. When I cooked, I always had my kids help me do whatever they could do, but they learned their way around a paring knife early, and gun safety. No one touched my guns or swords, or kitchen knives because they all knew they were tools that could become deadly.

When I was growing up my dad’s guns were in the front room coat closet and ammunition was on the top shelf. When I turned 16, I got my first lever action 22 caliber rifle. My youngest son got a 22 magnum lever action Henry Rifle. My two older boys lived mostly with their mom (my first wife,) and she wouldn’t let them have guns so they both joined the army and now they both have more than I do.

My dad also sat and watched TV with me. We watched movies (he liked old Westerns and we watched Gunsmoke and the Rifleman and all John Wayne movies.) And he loved nature shows like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I did this with my sons too. So much that my older sons asked my youngest if he had seen a particular movie, when he said no they went “Dad! What are you doing? That’s a family movie!” By which they meant the values in that movie were part of the values I passed on to my sons.

Another factor is that anyone can stop a movie at any time to make a comment or ask a question. They just raise their hand and whoever has the control hits pause…or if we are at a theater we go out and talk about it afterward.

Most of What Your Father Should Have Taught You I got from the walks I took with my father or as we talked when we cleaned the rabbit hutches or fed them, gardened, or did whatever. When I got older and had a lot of work, I always took one of my kids with me whenever I went on an errand, so we had time to talk. I could find out what music they listened to, shows they were watching, what was going on at school, and just keep in touch with their lives. (We would also discuss more than dinner while working on dinner.)

Whatever you do just take time. That is the secret to good parenting. Take time, treat them like a real person, love them, and don’t let them make excuses for temporary failure and let them know that no one really fails until they stop getting back up, stop trying, and give up.

In High School we talked about noble houses in the Middle Ages with knights etc. and how each noble house had a family motto. We were asked to pick a motto that we would have for our family. I picked DVM SPIRO SPERO “Dum spiro spero” is Latin for “where there is life there is hope.” As long as you’re still breathing the story is still going on. All of my sons grew up with this motto and it became part of them.

When my oldest son got back from Iraq he had a marine friend who was very close to him. When my son was having trouble with the function of one of his pistols, (it wasn’t chambering properly.) He asked his friend to take a look. His friend fixed it and said, “I can’t think of a better way to die then in the company of my best friend,” and shot himself. My son held him as he tried to stem the flow but his friend did massive damage and he bled out before the ambulance got there. My son lost a lot of friends that he served with, so many that I was concerned for him and drove three hours to spend the weekend with him.

Besides making dinner we had a “movie night” and talked. In the midst of talking about his friend my son said, “All I could think of was ‘You idiot! Where there’s life there’s hope.”

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