What I Learned From “The Monster”

Dear Lewis,

You mom and I have begun calling you “The Monster.” You are everywhere, on everything, under everything, and you try to put everything in your mouth. We have an ankle weight on the trash can lid, that I’m sure you’ll be strong enough to lift in a week or two. We only use one outlet in the living room and we’ve had to build a fort of pillows, chairs and an ottoman to keep you from unplugging the computer.

Your mom worked so hard to make our living space feel like a comfortable home, taking great care in deciding where tea tins should go, where photos would look best, which counter space best facilitated the dish drainer. It was all in vain.

Now everything is stacked high, giving the illusion that people a foot taller than your mother and I live in the basement at grandma and grandpa’s. Whatever won’t go on a shelf we hide behind the couch, in cramped closets, under beds and in the dark corners of our home.

You find it all. Because you are a Monster.

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The Power Of Music

Dear Lewis,

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I hate the cold weather. Traveling during Christmas is a nightmare. Pumpkin and peppermint flavored beer, cocktails, coffee drinks and deserts are the worst.

It’s not the parties or the month of excused overeating I love. It’s not that I can watch It’s A Wonderful Life as many times as I want without anyone judging me. And, no, my favorite thing about this time of year isn’t all the Amazon gift cards I get from friends and family.

My favorite part of the Christmas season is the reminder of the power of music.

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Mommy, Garbage and Jesus

Dear Lewis,

You and I had a great time hanging out while mommy was at work today. We ate breakfast with our shirts off, we fixed the tires on your stroller, and we wrestled until we were so exhausted we had to take a nap. When we got up from our nap we continued the party until mommy walked through the door.

We were playing with blocks and cars and stuffed monsters, having a blast, when mommy opened the door. The moment you heard her call, “Luigi! Where are you, love? I need kisses!” you left me in your dust.

You literally tossed your Ugly Doll aside, climbed over the blocks and cars, and crawled as fast as you could to mommy.

I wasn’t hurt; I was moved.

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The Creative, Personal Love Of God

Dear Lewis,

Give. Give with open hands. Look for ways to give. When given the opportunity – give. Give your time, give your money, give your attention, give whatever you’ve got that people want.

Your mom and I talk about money a lot. That’s because we don’t have much. We’ve struggled financially for the three years we’ve been married. But we decided, from the very beginning, we wanted to be people who give.

Lewis, this is going to sound cheesy. I assure you, if you can get passed the fact that it’s an overused phrase, and realize how true it really is, it will change your life.

You can’t out give God.

It’s impossible to out give God. You can try. With a pure heart, and a desire to love Him and love others, you can try. But you will not win.

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I Am Your Shield

Dear Lewis,

It was warmer today than it’s been in weeks. Your mom and I bundled you in warm PJs, a coat and beanie, and then wrapped you in a blanket before going for a walk on this beautiful, yet still cold day.

As we turned the corner on our way home from our two hour walk I noticed something strange at the end of our block. Someone’s sprinklers were running, in late November. The sprinklers were set in the park strip near the curb, drenching the grass and sidewalk. The yard in front of the house was steep, rising several feet on the house side of the sidewalk.

In short: we were trapped. We couldn’t traverse the slope of the front yard with you in your stroller. And we couldn’t walk in the street to get around the sprinklers in the park strip. There was only one choice; follow the sidewalk, through the gauntlet of water and cold November wind.

We devised a plan. Your mom would push your stroller while I would run along side it, blocking the water with my body to prevent you from getting wet.

We assumed our positions. In the most melodramatic voice possible I counted down: “3…2…1…GO!”

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You’ve Been Adopted By Your Aunt & Uncle

Dear Lewis,

I hope you love your new house in St. Louis. I spent a grand total of 20 hours in it a few weeks ago, and I loved every second of it. I can’t wait to be with you next week. You have no idea how excited I am to see you and your mom again, to hold you both, to kiss your faces, and to put you to bed so I can kiss your mom a little more…

I know you’re probably worried that I have no one here to take care of me. Rest assured, your Aunt Niki and Uncle Dago have made sure I have everything I need. They even gave me my own tube of toothpaste.

I hope you know how much they love you and miss you. Your Aunt Niki and I stood in the kitchen last night looking at pictures and watching videos of you. You may not believe me, but they have pictures of you on their walls!

You may not be blood, but I promise you, you are part of their family.

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God Is Not Fair

Dear Lewis,

I love you more than you will ever know. I can’t imagine life without you. You and I have been apart for one day, and already I ache for you. It’s not fair.

Please don’t misunderstand me: what’s not fair is that in a few weeks I will return to you, hold you, kiss you and continue to share my life with you.

Not every parent gets to say that. And it’s not fair.

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God Stopped Speaking…Thankfully

Dear Lewis,

Last time I wrote I suggested that one possibility for why God sometimes seems absent is that He knows we’ll seek Him more fervently if we don’t feel like He’s near. It was you staying where you were as long as you could see me, moving forward to follow me only when I ducked around the corner that put this train of thought in motion.

I also mentioned that lately I haven’t felt invigorated when studying my Bible, that the words lay flat on the page instead of jumping out at me like one of your pop-up books, the way it’s supposed to. I’m happy to say that changed yesterday.

It should come as no surprise to me by now that after hanging out with you today I’m beginning to understand why.

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When God Is Nowhere To Be Found

Dear Lewis,

One thing I miss about living in an apartment is how everything is in close proximity. Our area at grandma and grandpa’s isn’t huge, but it’s laid out more like a house, naturally, since it’s in the basement of one. A long hallway separates the bedrooms and living room. I’m not lazy. I just think it’s a waste of space for a family of our size. Then again, it’s new to me, having lived in tiny apartments for the past 13 years, so I’ll probably change my mind.

One nice thing about the hallway is it gives you a long stretch of crawling space. Over the past month you’ve become a pro, so we don’t pick you up every time we need to get you from one place to the next. We walk ahead and you crawl behind us like a madman.

You have this habit, however, that’s frustrating, mostly because it’s taught me something about myself.

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