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be-grateful[Note: The following article is published in the fall/winter edition of Arkansas Christian Parent magazine.]

Several years ago, Michelle and I had the opportunity to visit New York City for an extended weekend getaway. I had long desired to experience the buzz of the Big Apple, with its honking taxis, street vendors, and glistening skyscrapers. For a Southern guy, the ‘city that never sleeps’ was a real change of scenery, a sharp contrast from the more sprawling and laid-back Dallas-Fort Worth area that had been home for several years.

Indeed, New York tickled the senses with its sights, sounds, and smells (not all of which were pleasant, by the way). However, I found one thing in strikingly short supply: hospitality. New Yorkers are a different breed, to be sure. It didn’t take long for my wife and I to notice that our smiles, nods, and pleasantries were almost always ignored. Was this a by-product of busyness, or merely an outward manifestation of a prevailing ‘each man for himself’ mentality?

Perhaps nowhere was the sense of unconcern for others more evident than at the subway stations. And woe to those who dared to try and walk against the mob of people who exited the station at each stop! Michelle and I commented to each other that the most frequently used greeting was not much of a greeting at all. As our shoulders brushed against a seemingly endless sea of people, person after person grimaced and snapped, “Excuse you.”

That’s right. One of the kindest and most common expressions — at least in the South — had been corrupted and turned into a belittling battle cry that seemed to say, “You don’t belong here. Get out of our way.” Continue Reading…

Every day counts

June 20, 2010 — 1 Comment

Sometimes I find myself really enjoying the music and beat of a song without really paying much attention to the words. In his Father’s Day message today, my pastor referenced the lyrics of the popular song “Cat’s in the Cradle.” That’s one of those songs that I’ve heard many times over yet never really took the time to hear the message.

Cat’s in the Cradle
by Harry and Mary Chapin

A child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He’d say, “I’m gonna be like you, dad.
You know I’m gonna be like you.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, “Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play.
Can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today,
I got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s ok.”
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed,
Said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I’m gonna be like him.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man I just had to say,
“Son, I’m proud of you. Can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head, and he said with a smile,
“What I’d really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please?”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you coming home, son?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then, dad.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu,
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad.
It’s been sure nice talking to you.”
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you coming home, son?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then, dad.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Life is precious. Time is fleeting. Every day counts. As a father myself, I pray that I will be the kind of role model that I’ll be glad for my children to follow. If you’re a dad reading this and aren’t exactly proud of the example you’ve been, I encourage you to take some time to reach out to your children and decide to make the most of whatever time and opportunities you have left. You can’t turn back time, and words can’t undo any damage that’s been done. But every day counts.

One never knows what tomorrow holds.

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