Category Archives: Family

A Walk In Gettysburg

Some photos from a recent stroll down Hancock Avenue in the Gettysburg battlefield. (All photos are compliments of my wife except, of course, for the one with her in it).

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My Big Jerky Mouth

The other day my wife and I got in an argument. Yes, it happens. It shouldn’t because most of the things we argue about are totally avoidable and afterwards seem very insignificant . . . but it does happen.

It was my fault, too. I said something insensitive and hurtful. At the time I didn’t realize how hurtful it was or maybe I just didn’t want to realize it. I didn’t mean it to wound.

But it did.

And when confronted with it I didn’t want to admit it. Words were exchanged and then we both fell silent, the tension between us as thick as mud.

But there was a moment. I don’t know where it came from or how it got in my head but I looked at her sitting there on the sofa and didn’t see her as my wife who I was at odds with but as a person. A person with feelings and desires and dreams. I put myself in her shoes.

And it hit me. I was wrong. I hurt her. My tongue had caused a wound. My big jerky mouth had done it again. I felt the sting of my words, the disappointment, the loneliness they caused.

But still I couldn’t admit it. My pride was pushing back, telling me I didn’t mean it, it wasn’t my fault, she’s too sensitive.

I wrestled. Boy did I wrestle. If my inner turmoil would have manifested itself physically I would have been writhing on the floor, moaning, groaning, straining.

Finally, I threw pride aside and admitted I was wrong. I told her I’d been insensitive and that it wasn’t fair of me to say what I said. I apologized.

SHAME

(Photo credit: BlueRobot)

And then came the shame. Sometimes, I can’t stand to be me. My tongue can be so sharp, my sensitivity so dull, my pride such a bully. I wanted to crawl under a rock and not show my face for days.

Then God reminded me how he uses some pretty creative ways to reach us. His spirit spoke to me through my conscience. His forgiveness touched me through my wife. He wiped away the shame and restored my soul.

Today, look for those unique ways God chooses to touch you or speak to you or show you his love.

Camping in a Watery World

 

English: Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the Queen ...

Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the Queen Anne’s County side, Maryland, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had off last Friday so our family planned to use the long weekend to go camping at Killens Pond State Park in Delaware. We’ve only been camping as a family once before. That was three years ago in October at a state park here in Pennsylvania. That time, the trip was relatively easy, the temperatures were cool, the campground very conducive to newbies. We made some mistakes and learned some important lessons  but overall it was a positive enough experience that we wanted to try it again.

Things were a little different this time.

We got a late start on Friday. We wanted to leave before noon but for various reasons didn’t get on the road until around 1 pm. There was nothing to worry about, though, as the trip was only supposed to take us around three hours, leaving us plenty of daylight to set up the tent, establish ourselves, and enjoy the evening.

But things don’t always work out as planned. In fact, with this trip, little did.

Our drive was going okay until we hit the Baltimore beltway. I-695 circles Charm City like a moody serpent. Come upon it at the right time and it’s as docile and harmless as a garter snake, but hit it while it’s waking up and you find yourself tangled with a python. And the deeper we got, the tighter that snake squeezed. At one point, it took us three hours to go twenty miles.

Try being stuck in a car, in the rain, windows fogging, toddler screaming that she’s “done” with this trip, and all you can see is a four lane parking lot.

Finally, we got across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (a bridge, by the way, that drives like a 4-mile long sidewalk suspended almost 200 feet above the bay) and found our campground around 8:30 pm. We wound up assembling our tent in the dark by the light of car’s headlights. Not ideal.

In spite of our rough start we did manage to get a decent night’s sleep and set out Saturday for the Cape Henlopen State Park beach. The weather forecast had called for isolated thunderstorms all day but at the beach it was sunny and pleasant with a gentle breeze. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

But the sunny disposition of the shore lulled us into a false sense of hope regarding the weather back at the camp. In the woods it felt like we’d been transported to the deepest jungle in South America. Hot with humidity so thick you could spread it on bread and make a sandwich out of it. We could tell it had rained there while we were enjoying such perfect weather at the beach. We had no idea how hard it had rained, though.

It wasn’t until our oldest daughter ventured into the tent that we knew just how bad things had gotten. “Uh, Mom, Dad, your sleeping bags are soaked, and your clothes are sitting in puddles of water.”

Not the words one wants to hear at 7 pm. Indeed, it had rained so hard the tarp covering our tent was not enough to hold back the water. So we made the decision to throw in the towel, pack up, and go home.  We were done. Uncle. But first, determined to do something fun on the camping front, we made a fire and roasted up some smores.

I learned an important lesson Saturday night. Packing up a wet tent in the sand is about as fun as wrestling a soaked dog in your church clothes.

It was after midnight when we finally arrived home, tired and in desparate need of a shower and a soft bed. (A big thank you to Mountain Dew and Starbucks iced coffee for keeping me awake.)

Will we go camping again? Probably. We don’t give up that easily. And you know what? We made a memory. We’ll be talking about this trip for years to come. And that makes it all good.

41 and 16 in the Bag!

English: National Aquarium In Baltimore

 National Aquarium In Baltimore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A big thank you for all the birthday and anniversary wishes yesterday. Jen and I had a wonderful day with the girls. We went to the national aquarium in Baltimore then came home and made a dinner of crab cakes, steamed shrimp, and corn-on-the-cob. Perfect in every way.

And now that 41 and 16 are in the bag I have another whole year to make every day a celebration of life and marriage.

5 Years a Survivor . . . Take That, Cancer!

IMG_0917Five years ago I sat at my desk at work, phone to my ear, while my doctor told me the biopsy was positive, he was very sorry but I had colon cancer. That was a little after lunch. I called my wife, told her, and finished my work day. When I arrived home our pastor was already there, ready to pray with us and offer some words of encouragement and support.

I have many memories of that battle, the surgery, the chemo, the doctor visits, ER visits, the depression, the fear. Most are bad, some are good. I lived through much I’d never want to revisit but I experienced many blessings as well.

It’s funny how time affects your memory. Some of it I relive as if it just happened last week. Some of it is fading, becoming fuzzy and harder to dig out of the recesses of my mind.

But even now, five years later, I think about it every day. Several times a day. They tell me five years is the magic number, that I’m cured now, but I still worry about it returning, still glance over my shoulder wondering if, when it will sneak up on me again.

I know I shouldn’t, that I should focus on living the life I’ve been given. And I do. Cancer teaches you a lot of lessons and one of the most important is that life is precious, that each moment of life is precious, and that not one should be allowed to slip by. Life should be celebrated, enjoyed, lived to the fullest. Sometimes that makes for some tough decisions but if kept in perspective regrets will be far and few between.

Three months after I finished my chemo and just two months after having my ileostomy reversed I ran a 5K in Philadelphia. After the run we walked over to the Museum of Art and my daughters accompanied me as we ran the same steps that Rocky Balboa climbed. I raised my hands above my head, Rocky-esque, and in my heart stuck my finger in cancer’s face.

I’m still relishing that victory, enjoying every day, and praying God gives me many more.

I want to squeeze everything I can out of life, make the most of it. I don’t always succeed at that but I’m sure trying. And I’m trying to inspire others to do the same.

Someone Has to Die

New blog post by Michael King . . . Someone Has to Die. A conversation I had with my daughter about heart transplants, death, and life.

A Successful Launch Week

Wow, what a week it’s been! Thank you all for your help in getting the word out about the release of FRANTIC and offer of a free download of SCREAM. I’ve many comments from readers that their local bookstore is already sold out of FRANTIC and as of this morning SCREAM is ranked #11 in the Free Kindle Store. And that’s because of all of you and your efforts. THANK YOU!

Here are two blogs to check out offering giveaways:

Thoughts of a Sojourner . . . “On Being an Alien”
Melinda Williams . . . “A Fire in the Bones”

And if you haven’t already, you can get a copy of FRANTIC here. Or for your Kindle. Or for your Nook.

Also here’s where you can get your free download of SCREAM. Or for your Nook. Order it today, the offer only lasts until February 14!

Sometimes They Come Back

Stephen King once wrote a short story called “Sometimes They Come Back.” It’s about a man, a school teacher, haunted by the reincarnation of some childhood bullies, now out for revenge and blood.

My story is not so gruesome but still distressing.

Every evening Jen and I pray with the girls then send them upstairs around 8 o’clock. They get ready for bed then are allowed to read or draw or whatever they want to do until about 9 or 9:30 as long as they stay in bed. At that time I go upstairs, kiss them goodnight and tell them lights out.

After 8 o’clock is down time for Jen and me. Time when we can relax and talk or watch TV or read or knit (Jen knits). Time when there are no questions after questions after questions, no endless chatter, no bickering. Time for relaxation after an often long, busy day.

When we send the girls upstairs we expect them to stay up there. Only it rarely works out that way . . . sometimes they come back. One comes down having to tend to her rabbit. Another has a question about tomorrow. Another needs help with her ear rings. A book needs to be retrieved. Or a drink. Or a pencil. And the list goes on.

Sometimes they come back.

Now, lest I portray a false picture, we have great girls. I hardly ever have to discipline them which may be part of the problem. I’m out of practice. I usually wait until my patience is worn thin before taking a firm stand on the issue.

Nevertheless, every time I hear the pitter patter of footsteps on the stairs after we’ve sent them to bed for the night I think of that story by Mr. King.

Sometimes they come back.

And sometimes I get cranky.

Anyone else in this boat?

In My Daughter’s Eyes

A few years back Martina McBride sang the song “In My Daughter’s Eyes.” I love that tune and every time I hear it on the radio find myself getting teary-eyed. You can find a lot out about someone by looking into their eyes; many believe the eyes are the windows to the soul.

I have four daughters who I absolutely adore. Yes, I have my moments when I’m irritable, short on patience, and don’t give them the attention they need or deserve. But in my moments of sanity (which, thankfully, outnumber my moments of insanity) I look into their eyes and see who they are, who I am, and who I need to be.

In my 12-year-old’s eyes I see a girl becoming a woman, establishing her independence. I see passion and a love for life. There are world’s of ideas and adventures and things to do in those eyes. I see a daughter who loves her dad and more and more is wanting him to see her as more than just his little girl. She wants to be respected and trusted and given more freedoms. But most of all I still see innocence there, which I’m thankful for and want to keep that way as long as I can.

In my 11-year-old’s eyes I see questions, lots of them. Questions about the world around her and how justice works, how love works, how relationships work. I see questions about me: Am I the man I say I am? Will my health fail again? Will I continue to provide for her, for the family? I see a yearning to be accepted and loved for who she is, no strings attached. But most of all I see a tenderness and vulnerability and thoughtfulness there that is refreshing and in many ways inspiring.

In my 9-year-old’s eyes I see mischief and imagination. When she looks at me I see a desire to please her daddy, to make him proud. I see a drive to be somebody more than just the little sister, to make her own stand and be her own person. In her eyes I find genuine kindness and generosity, a heart that wants to serve. I see a childlike playfulness tempered by perseverance and toughness well beyond her years. But most of all I see joy, a heart that loves life despite it’s difficulties, that presses on and finds the ability to smile and brighten a room no matter how dim the lights get.

In my 9-month-old’s eyes I find a sense of wonder as she studies my face, every line, every whisker, every blemish. I find love that can only come from a heart of innocence, unscathed by life as we grown-ups know it. Hers are the eyes of discovery and exploration and awe, seeing the world for the first time, experiencing sensations never before felt or heard or tasted. But most of all I see trust and am humbled to tears by the awesome responsibility I’ve been given.

In my daughters’ eyes I see a challenge . . . to be the man, the father, the husband to their mother, I ought to be, the man they need and deserve. But mostly I find love. Unconditional. Unearned. Unbelievable.

And I’m so thankful for it.

Making Some Changes (and a little about me)

Learning to let go.

Image by imperatricks via Flickr

Lately, I’ve been consumed by my writing. I’m making a change which I’ll get into more next year and I think it’s a good change, the right one. It has me completely immersed in my stories. I look forward to getting up before the sun  does so I can get to work on my current work-in-progress.

A few things spawned this change. They’re things about me, about my character, my ambitions, my loves, my life, and I couldn’t help but eventually let them influence my storytelling.

  1. I love my family. I’d rather spend time with my wife and kids than with anyone else. And my home is where my heart truly is.
  2. I love the simple life, small towns, rural roads. There’s nothing better or more peaceful than open spaces and the sounds and smells of farm land, orchards, open fields, and woods.
  3. I enjoy spending time with real people. Common folk, honest, transparent, patriotic. People who have dreams and goals and struggle through this life trying to make them become a reality. People who will invite you into their humble home and make you feel like part of their family.
  4. I like country music. I just do. I couldn’t tell you who sings what but I like the sound of it, the stories it tells. Makes me think of home.
  5. I’ve known suffering. Not as much as many, I know that because I see the many every day, hear their struggles and pain and disappointment. But suffering has touched our family and I’ve learned from it, more than I thought I ever could. It’s shown me a part of myself I would have never otherwise seen.
  6. I love my readers. I want my writing to go deeper, to touch people in a different way, to meet them where they are in life . . . for you, the reader. I want you to not just read my stories but to experience them.
  7. I love God and want to make him proud. I want to hear those words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

Next year I’ll expound more on all of these, but for now just hold on tight and enjoy this ride of ours. There’s more to come. This journey is far from over.

 

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