The Day After…

Today is the day after Father’s Day and to be honest, it’s where I live most of the time. Yesterday was great. I heard from both of my sons, and we were able to celebrate our relationship. No one has had more fun being a dad than me. I even heard from my daughters-in-law. Our boys married well, and Jeannie and I are very grateful for the love Nan and Deb have brought to our families.

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Both Jeannie and I spent time yesterday missing our dads. Both of our fathers played major roles in our lives, and we miss them every day. There’s always something we wish would could tell them, ask their advice on, or most days, just hear their voices. Jeannie and I were very blessed to have our dads.

But now, it’s Monday—the day after Father’s Day. This is the day when the work is done that makes Father’s Day worth celebrating. This is the day when fathers do the dirty work of being a dad. For some of us, that means changing diapers and rocking babies to sleep. For others, that means countless trips around the block strolling with toddlers, playing catch, having tea parties, going to ball games or movies, or driving to vacation spots while everyone else sleeps in the car.

Being a dad is tough. It costs something to be a good dad. Your golf game may suffer. You may not be able to ride your Harley as much. You may miss a few things on TV, but that’s because you’ll be spending time doing what dads do.

Being a father may be an accident of biology, but being a “dad” is a title you have to earn. And when you get it, it’s the trophy you’ll be most proud of.

Because it will have been earned every day after Father’s Day, in one way or the other.

Keys to Success in Marriage

After 36 years, you’d think I’d run out of things to say. Jeannie and I have been together for 37 years (we met on Derby Day the year before we got married), and today we celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary. On the one hand, I feel like we’ve been together forever, and on the other hand, it feels like we just got married yesterday. Friends want to know how we’ve stayed together so long.

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Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it. I just got up and did what I had to that day, and then I got up the next day and the day after that. Before I knew it, 36 years had shot by.

But now that I think about it, there are a few things I think were important to our success. (Marital success has a very low bar in our culture. All you have to do is stay together. No one really worries if your being together means anything…but that’s another blog for another day.)

First, Jeannie and I were committed to stay in the marriage. It’s not much, but honestly, I think we made through some of our toughest times simply because neither one of us would leave. There were times when we figured things out because we had to. If we’re going to be together, we better find a way to make it work.

Second, there was never a time I doubted Jeannie’s love for me. Even in times when she did things I didn’t like, I knew she loved me. Sometimes, I would keep wading through the disappointments knowing that somewhere in all of it, I would find Jeannie’s love for me.

Third, we had the good fortune of knowing a lot of great couples who were older than us. From our friendships with them, we gained years of wisdom and understanding. I can’t begin to count up all of the fights Jeannie and I never had because our friends had taught us a better way to live out our love for each other in marriage. For some of you, befriending an older married couple would be one of the best gifts you could give your marriage.

I know this isn’t a profound list. You’re not going to read it and say, “Wow! I never thought of that!” But maybe that’s the secret. Maybe it’s not about fireworks and over the top emotions. Maybe it’s about the little things…and little things over 36 years can make quite a difference.

Happy Anniversary, Jeannie! I love you more than I can say!

For the Common Good

Many of you know that my father was a politician. He served on the City Council of Huntsville for 12 years, and for many of those years, he served as the president of the council. My father loved the city of Huntsville. He thought moving to Huntsville gave him the chance to make life better for him and his family. Serving on the city council was my dad’s way of giving back to the city. He wanted to be sure everyone had the same chance he did to make their lives a little better.

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Once, when he was campaigning, my father was asked what he was going to do for a certain section of Huntsville. He answered, “The same thing I’m going to do for every part of Huntsville. As I drive around town and talk to people, I’m finding out they all are concerned with pretty much the same things. They want safe neighborhoods to live in. They want good schools for their children. They want the roads to be paved and garbage to be picked up. We want everyone who lives in Huntsville to feel good about living here.”

Without knowing it, my Dad had stumbled across the concept of the “common good. “The “common good” understands that everyone—regardless of race, creed, or ethnic background—needs the same basic things to live a good life. By working toward these things that we all need, a community can best serve each individual within that community.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the political system in America is messed up. The reason it’s messed up may surprise you. You see, too many of us—me included—have turned over the arena of politics to professional politicians. These are people who have never done anything else in their lives but run for and work in public office. The founders of our nation never intended for there to be a political class. Our nation was to be run by its citizens. That’s one reason public education is so important in America. We expect every citizen to be able to participate in the democratic process. That means everyone has to be able to read and think through ideas.

This also means that you and I need to be more involved in our nation’s political life. Run for office. Support a candidate. Attend school board meetings. Learn what’s going on. Write your representatives. Work for the common good.

Granted, our world is messed up, but Christ called us the “salt of the earth.” And it doesn’t take a whole lot of salt to change the taste of the whole dish. It wouldn’t take many good people—committed to the common good—to begin to turn things around in our nation. Get off the couch. Get in the game. This stuff matters. This stuff is for real.