Turning 38

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A few weeks ago I turned 38. There’s certainly nothing magical about this age. It’s basically an age that asks “Are you ready for your 40’s?” I don’t know what my answer is. I guess, some days I am and other days I nearly hyperventilate at the thought. I do know that I’m emerging out of this idea that I have a bunch of wisdom or enlightening thoughts to share. I suppose that’s why I haven’t blogged very much this past year. Inspired thoughts in paragraph form are few and far between. Though, I have read more this year than I have since I was a kid. I used to read all the time, because what else did kids do that didn’t have a TV in the house, let alone all the crap that kids have to stare into these days (my kids included)?

I do know that I’ve been “in the moment” a lot more this year. By that I mean; noticing and embracing the little-ness of my kids. Sure they can be completely annoying and unreasonable and well, I could go on but let’s keep it fun shall we? Last night, after the boys’ swimming lessons the three of us jumped into the hot showers with our swimming suits on. As they were standing with the water dripping down their faces, just… two little boys that are short and loud and funny, I sensed the temporalness and beauty of the moment. I constantly remind myself that when Briar sits in my lap while I sit on the couch that it’s a precious short time that she’ll be so little and cuddly.

I’ve also been trying harder to notice all that Alissa does as a mom and writer. My selfishness about “me time” still gets the best of me. But I know (and Alissa knows and reminds me) that I could never do what she does day in and day out.

Bottom line: I know a blog can be anything you want it to be: a journal, an outlet, a way to teach or reach. And I haven’t had the time or the energy to do any of those things. And maybe that’s what being a 38 year old dad to little kids is; getting through the day so you can sit on the couch with your wife for a bit before you quietly crawl into your tiny spot in the bed because your wife and little daughter take up more space than they need.

birthday blog; 36

For some of you 36 is pretty old and seems a lifetime away. For others of you, it seems pretty young, either because you’re pretty close to my age, or you’re quite a bit older than me. Regardless of where you are on the age continuum we are all getting older together. The years roll over us and with each passing one, we shake our heads in disbelief that it went by that fast.

Physically for me, this year has had some ups and downs. I felt strong and healthy when I ran a half-marathon in May of this year, and for several weeks after that as I skipped along the ultimate-frisbee field unable to work my lungs into a stressful mode. That felt awesome.

I’ve also felt incredibly weak when in mid-July I wrenched my ankle and since then I’ve not been able to run more than across my backyard. In summary, I’ve set my sites on marathon running in the future and sadly let basketball slide into my selfish definition of a young man’s game, even though I’m quite sure I was the youngest guy on the court that morning when I landed in a yelling heap of man-fit and limped out more angry and embarrassed than I’d been since I was teenager. I can force a laugh about it now, but I’m pretty sure I need some sort of surgery.

I would say that my 30’s in general have been a time of genuine reflection so far. I’ve gained a real sense of my mortality and have allowed that to motivate the way that I interact with my sons… most days. Other days I can’t wait to get to work so that I don’t have to listen to a fit of hopelessness about a stuffy nose, a wailing cry from a non-devastating injury, or the background music to angry birds. On a side note let it be known that I could probably watch Phineas and Pherb for most of any morning and be completely entertained.

This year Alissa joined me in the 30’s. I’ve been blessed with a best friend that navigates life a lot like I do. We internalize it differently, but we both like to talk, so our common discoveries are shared often. Having someone walking through life with me who questions things, is never complacent, and who’s much nicer than I am, is a precious gift and with each passing year my luck is more and more apparent to me. (Christians, please don’t get bent outta shape over the word “luck”) *rolls eyes. See, I told you she’s nicer than I am.

There’s a theory that as you accumulate minutes, days or years here on the earth each one seems to go by faster. It’s based on the idea that one day or moment becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of time experienced, thus we experience it faster and faster. I’m not sure if there’s quantum physics tied up in that theory or not and frankly I don’t care that much.
What I DO think is that we can only experience one moment at a time and each one is precious. I don’t always live by this code but I am trying to more and more each year. Little by little I’m letting go of my hang-ups, and striving to find the beauty in each person and moment.

36 isn’t old, but it’s not young. I’m officially a middle-aged guy. I’m ok with that.

visit with my Grandma Ruth.

A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to visit with my Grandma Ruth in Sedalia, MO. She’s 87 years old. I hadn’t seen her since 1995. I was 19 and she was 71. I wished I could’ve taken my family, but it didn’t work out that way. Either way, I was slightly nervous. Grandma and I had written and spoken only a few times these last 16 years and I rightly felt like less than a stellar grandson approaching her door.My memories of her painted a picture of a taller than average woman with glasses, reddish brown hair, a cigarette hanging easily between two nervous fingers. Her hugs a bit rigid, but her laugh generous. Upon our visits she would offer food and drink within reason of a woman on a small fixed income. Of course in the early days, the food was plentiful as family gatherings would include all three of my dad’s brothers, their respective, current families (lots of divorce in those days) and my mom, dad, sister and me. With more smoke than oxygen in the house, we’d all navigate through loud hugs and playful punches on the arm. The Edwards boys were salt of the earth people with stories of love and fight, success and failure, bound with the barbed wire of loyalty and blood. And there was Grandma Ruth, at the helm, worrying about how dinner would turn out and not afraid to quickly ask you what you needed in the kitchen, so she could turn you loose back outside, with the door shut so as to not lose the precious cool air generated by the hard-working AC unit in the back-room window.

After every visit I would pile into the car with my mom, dad and sister with the full knowledge that we’d done a bit of time travel. As we would leave Sedalia, my dad’s heightened Missouri accent would begin to descend back to normal. The buildings and roads that held a piece of my dad’s story would thin out, replaced by miles of trees and hills that led into Kansas where the pages of my story were being written.

And now here, as a 35 year old man, I chased that time machine down, pressed a familiar button and approached the carpeted steps of my Grandma’s house. The yard looked mostly familiar. The trees were bigger than I remember and the street smaller. I took a deep breath and knocked loudly knowing her hearing aid was hit or miss these days. A cute old woman with grayed hair and wire thin arms opened the door. We hugged and then she pulled back not letting go of me, and just looked at me for a bit. I stood still with, no doubt, a silly look on my face. I sensed that she was both filling in the gaps from the time gone by and taking a mental picture for when I was gone later that day.

Her house was nearly exactly as I had left it 16 years ago. The couches, the chair, the tv, the clocks and paintings on the wall all welcomed me back as if I’d gone to the store to get ice. The smell of cigarette smoke was long gone. Of that I was happy, and mostly for her. She offered me a drink and a seat on the couch of which I’d spent many hours, but of course with smaller and leaner frame.

And so we visited. And we ate. It was just us. Getting to know each other. We were familiar strangers eating, laughing and talking. We didn’t do much reminiscing. Our visits in years past were seldom about each other but everyone else. This was different though. She told me stories of the 40’s when she was first married to my grandfather. She spoke kindly of him. He passed away when I was still a baby. We spoke little of my two uncles, (her two sons) that she has outlived. Like I said, we didn’t really reminisce. As a 87 year old woman with a strong faith in God, she’s very aware of the weight and importance of the day at hand.

As our visit came to a close, she pulled me close again and told me how much she enjoyed the day with me and that she would see me in heaven. I pushed back a bit, not knowing how to respond, trying to promise that I would bring Alissa and boys to see her. I think she noticed my flinch and responded with how she wouldn’t be able to house us all overnight. I laughed softly and tried to picture her reaction to my chaotic family.

With a hug that had lost the rigidity from when I was little, she walked me to the door. I told her I loved her and walked out to my rental car wondering if I could get back here soon. I got in, rolled the window down and looked over to see her waving and smiling just before she closed the door. It felt like I should keep the car in park, or that she should keep the door open just a while longer, but I think we both knew the AC-unit was working hard to keep in that cool air.

after 1 year in wisconsin…

weather. Let’s get the small talk out of the way right now and talk about this. Last Feb. when we arrived, an apparently weaker winter was waning and we hadn’t lived in snow or colder temps for years, so it was great welcoming weather. We were still adjusting to our new house, and town, and all of that, and Spring was upon us. Spring and Summer were beautiful for the most part. A bit buggy and muggy in the evenings but still mostly enjoyable. Looking back we spent a lot of our evenings eating dinner, oops, I mean “supper”, then getting everyone bathed and ready for bed. We’ll be modifying that schedule a bit this Summer. The Fall season was incredible! I was introduced to this park out in the woods and posted a few pics of it on Facebook along with some other Fall activities. THEN on Dec 11th a really big snow storm hit and there’s been snow on the ground ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow and if it’s gonna be cold, ya might as well have snow to go along with it. However, it’s March now and I’m ready, with the rest of the folks here, for it to melt away and for Spring to hit in full force. As cold as it’s been through certain weeks of the last couple months, I’m reveling in the seasonal changes and the anticipation that goes with each one.

friends/family. Many of you know that when you make a big move that, in the beginning, it can feel lonely at times. And it did for us. As much as one is welcomed and reached out to and loved with open arms (like we were), the complete absence of familiar faces and places can throw one for a loop. The positive of this is that I think it further strengthened the friendship between Alissa and I. So here we are a year later and while we miss our good friends from AZ, this year has brought several new and budding friendships into our lives and that lonely feeling is gone, replaced with an even larger sphere of people with which to walk through every-day life.
Our boys are, of course, growing; like kids tend to do. River is in 3 yr old Pre-school. He’s loving it and it’s great for him. While wild and crazy at times, he’s incredibly thoughtful and him as a 4 year old has been much less challenging than him at 2 & 3. Rainn is love and hugs bundled up in a toddlers body. I think I might want him to live with us well into his 20’s. Maybe not. Either way, I might have my days, where I wish to be an empty-nester, but for the most part, I look at my sons and hear their higher-pitched voices and catch myself staring into their eyes, taking mental pictures, as they communicate (or try to in Rainn’s case) with untarnished honesty and hope. Even if it’s all about them and their wants, they are completely in the moment reading only their immediate thoughts. That’s so beautiful and lasts SUCH a short time before caution, and cynicism set in. I’m SO happy to be their dad and I tell them often.
small town. I grew up in a rural area/small town in Kansas and so Shawano is somewhat familiar to me in that regard. We DO have a Wal-Mart, GNC and a movie theater with a 3D option, so booya right? What more can a person need? Actually I’ve been releshing in the simple pleasures these days such as buying our eggs from an Amish family who has a store on their property along with the chickens that lay those eggs. Also, I get raw honey by the gallon from my good friend Mike who happens to play guitar and bass in my church band. It was so wild that day he drove up with thousands of bees in his truck and then let one sting him on the arm; “It’s good for arthritis” he says. Another perk I find fascinating and quite tasty is the homemade maple syrup. Like I said, it’s the simple pleasures right? I always thought there was so much sugar added in stuff like that, but not all. It’s a process of timing, cooking and waiting. To see it in done in 2 minutes, click here.bearings. I remember last April and May having this strange feeling of being geographically displaced in a familiar setting. Let me explain. It was the front end of summer, the days were lasting a longer, it was beautiful outside and when I’d play volleyball out in the park with the youth group, I’d be sweating like crazy but not at all hot (it’s called humidity for you folks in the desert). These sensations and even activities were all very familiar to me, and brought back a flood of memories from my years growing up in Kansas, but now, it was all happening in a place where I really knew where nothing was. It was an odd feeling. This year as spring is peeking around the corner, I feel a lot more at home with my surroundings. Even as I write this, I’m in a coffee shop in Green Bay and feel comfortable parking in the back, and staying here for several hours.

blessed. I think this word sums up not only the past year, but my life in general. I know that’s a blanket statement and I have my mis-steps and mistakes that some of you know much more personally than others, but I really feel like my steps are ordered. There’s a verse in the Bible that says this: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.Though they stumble they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Ps 37:23-24)  I know I’m not the godliest guy you’ll ever meet, but all I have to do is look around me and I know that my hand is truly being held by a powerful God of grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. So for those that speak into my life whether by technology of phone and internet, or face to face interaction as we share lives and weather systems here in Wisconsin, thank you so much. I am truly blessed.