Martin, Music & Change


Dear Lewis,

As you grow up, one of your heroes should absolutely be Martin Luther King Jr. You’re going to hear a lot of white people like me say that, especially this time of year, but I promise you I mean it. When you’re old enough, we’ll read and discuss his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” (you can thank your Uncle Josh for making me read the letter for the first time). We’ll listen to his sermon  “But If Not“, and then talk about the difference between what he calls If Faith and Though Faith.

But first, we’ll probably talk about the importance music played in the March on Washington, where Dr. King gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.

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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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You Got Hurt, And You Will Get Hurt Again


Dear Lewis,

I knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t think it’d be so soon. Given how adventurous you are I don’t know why I’m so surprised. Last night you split open your noggin and had to go to the emergency room.

We had an awesome day, just you and me. We played in the yard, at the park, and even went book shopping. You fell on the sidewalk once, and another time in the Barnes & Nobel parking lot. Each time you looked up at me, grinned, and then stood to your feet before returning to business as usual.

But, when you took off running through the living room on your way to bed you tripped over a pillow, fell into a table leg, and then split your head open in two places.

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You’ll Get There: A Letter From Dustin Dean


Dear Lewis,

I’m Dustin, one of your mom and pop’s friends.

Now, I don’t know if I’ll be around one way or the other to get to know the amazing young man I have no doubt you’ll become, but I’ve had the pleasure of being your dad’s friend for some time now, as well as your mom’s, and Uncle Nik’s. I even flew back to Kansas City and St. Louis to meet your Nani and Papa once upon a time.

Today is the party celebrating your first birthday, and also the first time I’ll have the pleasure of meeting you. I asked your old man what you might need, or what he might like to see you get.

Now, I asked him to keep in mind who was asking. Mostly because I’m almost always broke – and left to my own devices I might have gotten myself in trouble.

Long story short, I’m kind of a jackass.

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The 135-Day Life Of My Hero: Corbin McHenry


Dear Lewis,

I have a handful of heroes. Most of them you’ll meet at some point in your life. There are three, however, you probably won’t. I’ve never even met them. But they’ve changed our family forever.

Corbin, Kara and Shane McHenry came into our lives while you were still in your mom’s belly. Corbin was born on April 4th, 2013 with a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 13.

Trisomy 13 affects almost all the organs, so doctors say the condition is incompatible with life. The doctors told Corbin’s parents he had less than a 1% chance of being born alive.

Lewis, with God, statistics can be overcome.

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Raising A Dangerous Kid


Dear Lewis,

While we were on vacation you rolled over from your back to your stomach. Usually, babies first roll from their stomach to their back because it’s easier. But you did it the hard way first. You get that from your mom.

Today, though, you finally rolled over from your stomach onto your back. Your mom and I were both there to witness the event.

To be honest, it was terrifying.

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A Novel Failure

Old typewriter keys. ©Robin Nelson

Dear Lewis,

The average novel is approximately 100,000 words. As of tonight I am at 1500 in my current one. That means I’m only about 1% of the way there. But I’ve made it farther than 99% of people ever do.

Ray Bradbury once said you have to write a million words of fiction before you know what you’re doing, before you’re a real author. Total, I’ve penned over 300,000 words of fiction, so I’m over 30% of the way there. My 300,000th word was better than my first, but the first was no less important. The first led to the second, which led to the 300,000th.

That’s putting a positive spin on it. The fact remains: so far, I’ve failed to write a good novel.

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Uncle Josh: Barbarian


Dear Lewis,

Last night you met your Uncle Josh for the first time. Uncle Josh has been one of my three best friends for more than a decade. We’ve made a lot of music together. We’ve experienced abundance and we’ve been penniless together. Once, we even slept on the sidewalk in front of LAX airport together.

You might be wondering why it took you so long to meet him. Lewis, with more pride in my heart than I can express before my first cup of coffee, you haven’t met Uncle Josh because he’s a Barbarian.

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The Hero Must Struggle


Dear Lewis,

In every story worth telling the hero undergoes a transformation. To experience this transformation he must face adversity, he must struggle through pain, and he must persevere through suffering. It’s during what’s called the Second Act, the longest part of the story, that he struggles most. Your grandpa, PaPa, is in a Second Act season of life.

In the Second Act the hero is refined through the fires of struggle and suffering. As the hero is being refined, his goal is reshaped – not abandoned – because his struggles have helped put things in perspective. It’s the shift in perspective that causes the hero to be transformed into who he must become in order to get to the end of the story.

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It’s All My Fault


Dear Lewis,

Today we took you to the hospital. You haven’t been feeding well, and it’s causing your mom a lot of pain. It frustrates her, even angers her because it hurts so badly.

The doctor diagnosed you as being tongue-tied. This means your frenulum (the little piece of skin connecting the bottom of your mouth to the underside of your tongue) extends too far forward. This prevents you from moving your tongue through its full range of motion. Right now it makes breastfeeding difficult, but later in life it could affect your speech and cause you other problems. So we decided to let the doctor cut that little piece of skin.

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