Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hello again

Hello to anyone who is out there. So good to be back writing on this blog. A place where I can come and share thoughts and insights into the world of this faulty father. Every day I realize that I make mistakes in parenting my beautiful little gifts from God. But also everyday I realize that God teaches me something new and I improve a little too. I think the good is outweighing the bad... I still yell too much.

My oldest, Aly asked me why I yelled so much. Boy if that isn't an eye and ear opener. A part of my heart that I can't live without is being hurt by my actions. I would never in a million years do anything to harm her and here I am hurting her everyday by yelling. Well, I am an adult and I am a child of God and I know He can help me to change this because He is all powerful and I am willing. SO, if you are out there and you stop by, please make sure to offer a prayer to God on my behalf. I need strength to change this part of my personality that effects and affects my children and I am sure my wife.

There is not an excuse to give. The only reason I can come up with is that I have always been a yeller. Loud family. Doesn't make it right just a reason. Anyway, thanks for listening or should I say reading.


Monday, February 2, 2009

She is His FOREVER!!.

So much to do and the same amount of time as everybody else in which to do it. I can't complain. I have plenty of time. My life isn't that hard right now. Frustrating yes, hard no. God is as He always is G-O-O-D and whether we understand Him or not currently, He is in control and that is alright with me. (I am sure he just took a big breath of relief).

My wife commented to me last night that it had been a looooooong time since I blogged. Well, yeah it has been. I don't know who my audience is now. I know that if my mother were still alive and even my mother-in-law for that matter I would have two faithful followers. JUST so they could give me their feedback so as to improve my writing or something I said or did. I wish I had them around so they could comment. I miss them both so terribly sometime.

One of those times was recently when I got the honor and huge responsibility of leading my oldest daughter, Aly to the Lord. She is only 5 years old and although we had talked many times about the "free gift" and what it meant to be saved and asking Jesus to come into your heart I was cautious to make sure she understood.

I have known so many people in my life who had to be baptized two and sometimes three times until it "took" because they were "too young" to fully understand what they had done when they were so little. Or they just did it because everyone else their age was doing it. I wanted to make sure that MY daughter got it right and that she didn't just waste God's time with another, "fake" conversion.

But the wonderful thing is that I know it wasn't just one of those things. She sought me out. There was no other reason other than it had been on her mind, that and I did say that Heaven was going to be better than Disney World and we had been talking a lot about Disney World lately. Seriously, she understands what sin is, and that it separates us from God and that we need forgiveness for those sins and the only one who can forgive us is Jesus. She got that. All in that little 25 year old five year old mind of hers. She wanted to be forgiven. She visibly was remorseful for her having sinned... and when she asked God to forgive her and Jesus to come into her heart, it was a real, eternity making event. Simple, yet profound. Right there, in our bedroom, sitting in my recliner with my little girl on her knees praying with her head in my belly she met the Savior of the world and her life has not been and will never be the same again.
It was real. It was enormous and yet very small. It was child like faith that the Creator of our hearts demands if we are to come to Him. She may very well not remember the day or the hour or even how it all took place. But her heart will, and her name is in the book of Life and she is FOREVER in His MIGHTY GRIP.

She still fights with her sister, although not as much, pushes the limits, although truly not as often and she has changed. She wasn't a bad little girl before. The worse thing she had ever done that we know of was to take some of Poppy's change without permission ( we taught her about stealing) and she just wanted to put it in her piggy bank for the missionaries (God love her).

I am going to get the opportunity to baptize her. That is if my knees don't go wobbly on me and I tear up and lose it. My heart is so full. We are so blessed. Her Mommy and I never imagined.

I think my heart grew a size.
Like I said God is always G-O-O-D.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My "Spice Girl" turns THREE

Our Liliana Grace MinQin Swindler the day after we "got" her.

Wow, just a little under two years ago we were preparing to travel to China for the second time to bring home our little girl, Liliana. The story of how we had come to this point is a miracle within itself and one I told so many I was going to write about soon, and soon became well, a long time ago. Maybe someday...soon. Anyway, it is hard to believe that we have had her to hold and comfort and tickle and feed and change and cry with and everything else you can imagine for almost two whole years.

Lili is such an interesting little person. She has such a wonderful personality full of drama and emotion full of drama. She can't just say something, it has to be dramatic and full of emotion. She loves this way too. When she hugs, she really hugs. When she kisses, she has to land right on target or she will hold your cheeks to make sure she does. What ever she does, it is full of intention and not necessarily thought out to the end but nonetheless, done with full emotion and you guessed it. DRAMA

Our little beauty a few days after we adopted her.

Her relationship to us began that way, she would cry forever. We of course thought it was because of well, the adoption, separation from familiar surroundings etc. We looked for whatever way we could to understand and appease and comfort and finally just had to admit that we didn't know why but we would just have to let her cry. It used to kill me. It made me so mad that I could not find a way to "fix" it.

Look at that face. A wonderful personality to go with it too.

It has helped me to understand a bit more the serenity prayer of accepting the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can and most importantly, the wisdom to know the difference. Knowing that "fixing" everything is not my "to do" list is a freeing feeling. My little girls have helped me a lot in that area of life. They are such a blessing.

Just as every child changes the lives of those around them, Lili has changed ours. Sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in major ways but always in the end in a blessed way. I am confident that this is what my Father had planned before He laid the foundation of the earth. His ability to work things out still amazes me even though I know He can, my impatience usually gets the best of me and I forget how much He loves me. He continues to try and help me learn each day as I grow to love my wife and my girls even more than I did the day before.

My little astronauts, showing off their Endeavor t-shirts.

When I travelled with the band and sang for a living, or should I say for an existence, we used to sing this song, "I love you more today than yesterday". We probably did it hundreds of times and it got to be old, so old but at the time I did not understand the deep meaning in the lyric. Now as I sing it to my girls sometimes it makes so much sense. It is a love song of course and some of the lyrics say "I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow".

Such loving devoted sisters. (but they can be mean to each other too)

As each day comes and goes, I can't imagine that to be true, but I find it is. Somehow my heart must be made of similar material as the Grinch's whose heart was able to grow. Mine grows each day albeit just a small amount, to hold the love I find growing for my family, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.
And then somebody pisses me off ...
and well... ;-)
Just teasing. Nobody reads this anyway.

When Lili is old enough to understand my sarcasm she will laugh. A lot.


Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm back.....oh my aching BACK!!

Greetings friends and family and whoever you are who stops in to read what this crazy old fat man has to say about life and love and whatever is on my heart today! Now look at how I rhymed that so well. If it were a song it would sound swell. Oh no. I am stuck in this rhyming theme. Maybe it will go away and I can just believe it was a dream.
OK, I am sure you are rolling your eyes by now and wondering what kind of extra curricular drugs I am taking these days. I assure you I have been on some drugs and they have had me a little loopy but praise God I am off of them now and all I take is a little Advil these days so my joints won't hurt so much and that is usually at bedtime.
Anyway, I was taking the muscle relaxers because I pulled a muscle in my back and I mean I PULLED a muscle. Shelley said you could see it ball up and just do a wavy kind of thing. All I know is I am a grown man and I was crying it hurt so much. I had to get my little girls to leave the room because I didn't want them to see me in that much pain. Oh my gosh it was sooooo painful and I could not get it to stop seizing up on me. If I breathed in it seized up. If I breathed out it seized up, if I looked left, or lifted my little pinkie on my right hand....yep you got it, it seized up. I don't know what I would have done if it had not been for my loving wife who rubbed tiger balm on me and icy hot and just loved me through it. She has been having her own bout of pain with some nerve problems from her neck affecting her knees. Go figure. It is all due to that little fender bender back last September when it tore something in her neck and she is still suffering as a result. Please remember her in your prayers and say a "thank you" to Him for healing my poor back. Boy I tell you, I am careful, careful, careful now.
Let's see, why did I decide to blog today. Well, I think it was because I am putting off an assignment that I don't want to do right yet but I will get to it soon enough. For anyone who cares and does not know I am attending Liberty University through their Distance Learning Program to finish my Bachelors Degree. It really has been interesting and fun and my family and I are very excited about it. I am doing very well, praise God and am staying ahead of the game this time.
The whole system has changed since I attempted to finish my degree through their system about three years ago. Back then you bought a lot of tapes and DVDs and watched at your own pace and took tests whenever. Well, for me while working at the Children's Home did not work so well because I procrastinated terribly. Needless to say I had to withdraw because I let the work build up on me too much.
This go round they have changed. Everything is on line. I take my exams on line. I submit papers on line and listen to audio lectures online and can search the web while listening to see visuals that the professor is talking about in the class with his overheads! It is really amazing. I am also so excited that I really WANT to learn this stuff. Not like when I was in college my first 8 years (ha ha). I am interested in the information and I get to bore Shelley with it. Actually she says she enjoys learning stuff from me as I am a verbal or auditory learner and retain more information if I repeat it aloud. We are also amazed at how God has lead me to this and is combining all of the classes to teach me things that work together.
For example, I am ending up my class on Humanities which has taught me a great deal about the history of the western world through the lens of art and architecture. It has taught me a lot about the time when Christ came to earth. The fullness of time. How perfect it was for Him to be born when He was. This info goes in line with what I am studying in my Theology class etc.
SO, I am quite sure you are bored with this but for me it is a wonderful exciting window to a new career possibility for me and a more secure future for my family. I sure know my father in law appreciates it.
I am putting these pictures of my heart in here so you can see how well they are adjusting to sharing a bed, and a room. We were going to set up Lili in her toddler bed but then we realized that Aly hated to sleep alone she was soooo used to sleeping with us, which although I loved the closeness I was loving sleep a little more. So we moved Lili into Aly's room and they LOVE it. Such devoted sisters who love each other to pieces.
Here they are getting ready to go to sleep. They play a little and pray for each other and after Mom reads to them they slowly drift away.
And look at how they show their love for each other even in their sleep. God love em!! I sure do!!

Well, I am tired and sleepy and just wanted to say hello to everyone. Please leave me a comment or two to let me know you are still reading. I will try to post more often with more interesting info. More about my little heart beats. They are so wonderful. And the one who keeps me going, actually keeps us all going around here, my beautiful pacemaker-Shelley. I love you my dear!
Till next time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What is Talent?

Greetings to all two of you who read my blog. I am thrilled once again to share with you what is on my heart today. As I listen to the remarkable talent of the artist Yo Yo Ma as he caresses the stings of his cello I am overwhelmed with appreciation to our God for the remarkable gifts He bestows. Having been a musician or a "music maker" for much of my life I cannot imagine life without that beautiful touch. I was once asked if I had to choose, would I rather be deaf or blind. Of course I choose blind, although that would be a terrible loss within and of itself, I would not want to imagine a world without sound. I can re create in my minds eye pictures and imaginings of what I might see, however I don't believe I could conceive the beauty that is found in sound, especially music.

Oh the talent in that man's hands and heart!

What is talent? How do you determine what a talent is? I know that when I witness someone accomplishing something that I cannot, more often than not I attribute that as a talent that person has. Regardless of whether or not it is considered by the public in general as a talent.

For example, our friend Mariya. We met Mariya when the Lord directed her to us some months ago. When we moved to St. Augustine we had to combine two households. AND we were moving into one that had not been properly up kept for a few years due to Shelley's parents decline in health. The floors were an absolute mess and the bathrooms were even worse. Shelley and I talked about it and prayed about it and although we really could not afford it we decided to try to find some college student or independent worker (not with a cleaning service) to come and help us get the house in some semblance of clean. God lead us right to Mariya.

She is originally from Ukraine and has been here in America for a little over three years. Although her English is not what she would like it to be, she really is amazing to have learned it totally by just living here and trusting God. Which she does... with a talent.

What I was going to say when I began to write about Mariya was that she has a definite talent to clean. And clean well she really does. And I know clean, having once owned and worked in a house cleaning business. But truly her talent lies in trusting God. Every day that she comes to our home (once a week for a few hours)she greets us with such a smile and loving concern for us. She never fails to somehow tell us how "My God" has taught her something or given her strength for some struggle or lead her day in such a special way.

She has a talent for living her faith. A talent for lifting up our Heavenly Father through her attitude and efforts. Sure she is "working" but sometimes you would never know it. She loves to chat in her fourth language (she knows Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, and English)because she considers it a challenge as she continues to learn. She does so well but she thinks she has so far to go. Perhaps but her talent for desiring to be better is certainly contagious.

My girls also have a talent. Actually I am sure there are several talents they possess. Many from Shelley I see every day but my little girls have talents that are as yet untapped and I am anxious to see them blossom. Their most amazing talent that I recognize these days is their talent to make my day so much brighter. So much more worthwhile.

I love them so.

Can you tell?!

I am among men most wonderfully blessed.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hey Fay!!

I am a virgin. I will admit it. Here and now I admit that even having been married to Shelley for 13 plus years I am still a virgin... a Tropical Storm/Hurricane virgin. And I was hoping to stay one my entire life but apparently I will be losing my cherry so to speak in the next several hours. So will my little beauties and our little faithful dog Bailey.
We have "battened down the hatches" and secured as much as we can secure and are sitting here praying and waiting. We are praying that the power doesn't go out and if it does it doesn't stay out for too terribly long. It will be miserable here with no air. We have no screens on the windows and I would rather be hot than donate a lot of blood to the mosquitoes. Not to mention Aly and Lili would go into a coma with a lot of bites SO if the power does leave us we will just grin and sweat and bear it.
Sorry any of you out there who don't get the thrill of waiting to go through a Tropical Storm or Hurricane. I am hoping to win the blog cabin on DIY network so we can move back to TN and won't have to deal with any of this mess. Just good ole snow.
Anyway, that's what is cooking at our house.
Have a good day and for you enjoyment here is an email my sister sent to me that I laughed so hard I cried. I KNOW you will enjoy it too.
Love ya

Remember it takes a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school diploma to fix one; a reassurance to those of us who fly routinely in our jobs. After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a 'gripe sheet,' which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.
Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor.Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS ' pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.

By the way, UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever,had an accident.
P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit
S: Something tightened in cockpit

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Auto pilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search

P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

Come on, you are crying right now aren't you!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Missed Familiarity

I am in a melancholy mood tonight. A little drab. Here is what says about these two.

Melancholy: adjective- soberly thoughtful; pensive
Drab: noun- dull; cheerless; lacking in spirit, brightness, etc.
I was trying to figure that out too. Why? I really don't have the necessary descriptions associated with someone even to warrant the above definitions or a lot to make me sad or contemplative or a bunch of the other adjectives at I think it has to do with missed familiarity. Now you are asking yourselves. What does that mean exactly? Good question.

Every night before bed we have a routine. One of the few routines that have stuck with us through that past year because of all the upheaval in our lives. We try to make bedtime for the girls somewhat routine. If not always at the same time at least the consistency of the pattern of preparing and going to bed has become routine or "familiar" if you will.

The routine goes like this usually without fail no matter where we are or whatever time we are going to bed, unless one of the noodles has fallen asleep ahead of time and it would wreck their world to be awakened, not to mention just plain cruel, we do the following.

Lili is first, we ask her if she has said goodnight to "Poppy" and if she has she climbs up on me to say her good nights to me. If she hasn't she goes to tell Poppy goodnight and tries to score some sort of treat so she will get cavities and oh, never mind. That USED to be what happened until we put a stop to that. Grandfathers have a tough time saying no sometime but I will hand it to Poppy, once we told him make sure she doesn't coax a cracker or piece of chocolate out of him, he sticks with NO. And many nights we understand that as Lili comes back into the room crying her little eyes out saying "Poppy said No!".

She climbs up onto me and we chat a little bit about the day. Sometimes I sing my our "Somebodies Sleepy" song to her. I wrote it for Aly and finished it for Lili. They both act like they don't like it, but I usually see a little curl of a smile break out. Lili especially likes to climb into my arms and say "baby". She loves for us to hold her like a little baby and rock and sing to her. It also takes up time and that is what she wants to do when it's bedtime anyway. But she does it other times in the day too so she really does like it and not just for wasting time.

I look at her and say OK let's kiss, and we give each other butterfly kisses, and then Eskimo kisses and then a lip kiss, and then I pray for her. I pray that she falls asleep quickly and that she doesn't have any bad dreams only beautiful, fun dreams. I pray that she sleeps all through the night and gets lots of rest for the next days business. And I pray that God would put his angels around us all to protect us from evil. Then we tell each other we love each other a billion gazillion times and she wanders to the bedroom where Mom goes through a routine with her in her special way.

While that is going on, IF she hasn't batted those gorgeous brown eyes at me and pulled her grip on me tighter around her finger, I will get Aly to go brush her teeth and if she is not already dressed for bed to get dressed. IF she has me in her cross hairs she may just sit by me and play on my laptop for about 30 minutes while Shelley is in with Lili. Aly loves to play on the computer. And I admit I truly enjoy the just "Aly and me" time that it provides. Of course I have to try to reduce my mentality to a 4 year old and try to enjoy putting 4 scoops of ice cream on bunny's cone or counting the number of bubbles of a certain color. But I get to watch my daughter laugh and learn and smile and just "be" beside me as I hold her. Moments that I know will all too soon disappear and I will long for them.

Usually after all of the playing on the computer and rounds of questions are asked of any particular subject, I make sure she has said goodnight to Poppy and then we go through our ritual of kissing and loving before she goes with Mom off to enjoy some special time with her before she goes to sleep.

For the past two nights I have missed the special kiss and love times and she has just gone onto bed. She of course has told her Mom that she said goodnight to me but I don't think it's because she doesn't want to kiss and love on me before she goes to bed. Who in their right mind could resist that?!!! ;-) I know it is because she has had two very, very early and busy and exhausting days these past two days. She is so tired by the nights end that she can hardly keep her eyes open and she is a complete grump bucket extraordinaire. I could hear her grumping as her Mom made her go to the potty before coming to bed. And I remembered we hadn't said our good nights but I understood how tired she was and I want her to go to sleep and get rest.

Regardless, I still missed out on the special moment of my little girl climbing up on me in my recliner and stretching out looking me in my eyes and telling me she loved me and kissing me with her eyelashes and her nose and her lips. I love just holding her and smelling her hair and knowing that I am her Daddy man and she is my little princess.

Then it hit me.That is how God must feel when I don't give him the attention he deserves. OK so I am reducing the creator of the universe to the emotions of a carnal minded man but nonetheless I still believe that He WANTS me to give Him that attention. That "from the heart" consideration that should be His always. I realize that God is sovereign and does not need anything but He still can want can't he? Isn't it apparent that He wants us to obey Him? To love him? After all His word says that it is not his desire that any should perish but that all should come to the saving knowledge of Jesus. Isn't that right? SO God can want. And I believe that he wants us to give him "special" attention that only we can give. After all isn't that why we were created? To give him praise and worship from a personal relationship? PERSONAL.?!

That is why I have felt melancholy or drab. I missed my special time with my little girl. Just imagine that if I missed this with my one little child, just think how God must feel when His children (born again believers) fail to give Him any attention at all.

Oh yeah, I know we pray to bless our food, and we pray and ask God for help when we need it and we praise Him when we hear of something good happening to our friends or family but what about the PERSONAL attention. I am surely guilty of it. I used to sing to God all the time. I would make up praise songs and even when they didn't rhyme or have that great a melody they were still from my heart. A true praise that I know He was please with.

If it's possible I would like to imagine being able to make God feel like I do when my girls are wanting to please me. You know by drawing a picture or doing something you have shown them to do. I wish I had a dollar for ever time my girls had said "Daddy, watch me!" I would be dictating this to my secretary who lived with us in our mansion.

Sometimes I want to pull my hair out, what's left of it, but I realize that those words will eventually fade too. Kind of like my initial excitement and love and desire for my Heavenly Father to watch me has faded too.

I pray that it comes back.

I believe it will and is.

I just know that my girls and my wife continue to teach me everyday how wonderful our God is. I am going to take some serious time to plan some butterfly kisses for my Abba.

How about you?