Friday, June 20, 2014

Some Lessons from the Coach

 Has it been 8 years since we stood at this altar and committed our lives to one another?

It seems like a long time and not a long time, all at the same moment. And when I think about the two little people in that picture, I think of how much has changed and how much I have learned in these 8 years.

I started calling you "Coach" almost 12 years ago...

And I think it was probably a pretty prophetic name to call you. Here are some of the lessons you have taught me, Coach, over the last 8 years...

1. Live within my means.

We spent the first five years of our marriage with one or both of us in school. We could have taken out loans and gone into debt but you would not have it. You worked three jobs and took classes, and in your spare time you went dumpster diving for coupons. You taught me that humility pays off financially, and that you would not put your family at risk by borrowing money for things that weren't even necessary.

2. I am not in control.

Remember this guy?

Oh yeah, and remember the time you guys went mountain biking and then you crashed and landed on your head, and then when I got home from work you were passed out in the living room and I called Robby in a panic and as he and Joanna drove us to the hospital, you mumbled something about the hole in the back of your head, and then when I put my hand up there to check, yep, you had a hole in your head, and I spent the rest of the ride with my hand on the back of your head because I was afraid your brain would fall out? Oh, and when we finally got home with your 12 staples in your head, we found a piece of the porcelain toilet lying in the floor where you had passed out in the shower and actually broken the toilet with your head?

Yeah, well, that time, among many other times, taught me that no matter how badly I want to be in control and keep everyone safe and live a predictable life, it's not going to happen. And that's a good thing, because really a controlled and safe and predictable life may just not be life at all.

3. It is possible to overcome my fears and conquer a mountain.

January 2009 - Boone, NC. You made me do the scariest thing I have ever done. We ran Grandfather Mountain together. There is so much more there than it sounds like, and only you understand. But in that sentence, there is a lot of fear and insecurity and reluctance to take any risk, anything that might end in failure for me. But you made me do it, and you ran beside me, and you encouraged me, and you were right. I did do it. And I learned that day that the risk is often worth the reward, and that the fear of failure is a terrible reason not to try.

(I love that some of our greatest moments have occurred on mountains...

Mt. Pinnacle - 1 month before Claire was born
Mt. Leconte
4. Buckle down and finish what you started.

The most grueling two years I can imagine for you took place between August 2009 and July 2011. PT school was so intense, in fact, that we reviewed anatomy flashcards during the early part of labor in the hospital when Claire was born. I have never seen anyone so committed and determined to give the very best that you had in PT school. I was so impressed as I watched you study and learn and practice and question and research. You taught me what it means to really be committed to something and to work at it as unto the Lord.

5. Love without condition.

One of the most vivid memories I have is when I wronged you one time and we were talking about it. I felt guilty and said, "Will you forgive me?" I was taken aback at how swift and confident you were when you looked straight at me and said emphatically, "I will always forgive you."

That's the gospel, Coach. You live it out in front of me and you teach it to me constantly. And yes, we struggle and we go through dark times. But I have that confidence, that what you said on the altar, you still mean today. And that is worth more than gold or money or jewels to me.

So here is to the first eight years, and to the 118 still to come.


I love you!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

To My Babies' Daddy.

Well, Coach, five years have passed since that Father’s Day when I gave you a framed ultrasound picture of our then unborn first child, whom, incidentally, you had determined that we would name “Truck.” Truck Shugart. Wow. Well, “Truck” turned out to be a perfect baby girl that you refused to hold for at least 3 hours after her birth because you were afraid you would break her. But once you did get your hands on her, I saw a visible change come over you. 



Diaper-changer extraordinaire.


You became something new that night, and it was a good something. You now had two little eyes watching your every move, and you seemed to welcome it. I always knew you would be a good Daddy, but to see how confidently you took on your new role astounded me.

Since then we’ve added another precious girl and our third babe will be here in a five short months. And here is what our children see when they look at you…

They see a fixer. You fix people when they are hurt, you fix cars when they don’t work, you fix bikes and washing machines and whatever else is broken. They both believe that you can fix anything.

They see a teacher. You teach them how to keep their wiggly bottoms in their seat at supper time and how to skip and do agility drills in the hallway at church. You teach them how to hit a tennis ball and how to confess their sins. You teach them the difference between a flat head and a Phillips head screwdriver, and how to slide down the stairs on a mattress. You teach them concepts like gravity and forgiveness. You are always teaching.

They see a leader. I can’t tell you how many times I will suggest that we do something and one of the girls will say, “Did God tell Daddy that’s okay?” 

They see a Daddy. A Daddy is not just a father, you know. A Daddy comes with love and discipline in the same hand. A Daddy will laugh just as quickly as he will correct. A Daddy will set up a water slide in the backyard just to see his kids enjoy it, and cuddle with three in one recliner after bedtime for a good book.

See, Coach, when our girls look at you, they see a reflection – yes, broken and imperfect, but still growing into the likeness – of our heavenly Father.

You are their first picture of their Creator.

Their Protector.

Their Provider.

Their Fixer, Teacher, Leader.

Their Abba.

And I know you feel inadequate, and I know you get frustrated, and I know life is more complicated now. But, Coach, I would rather my children be your children than anyone else’s in the world.
Because you faithfully and consistently and humbly point them to their Heavenly Father. And that is a gift that is worth more than anything in the world.

Happy Father’s Day.