Are you doing what you wanted to do when you grew up?

Baseball_kidToday I have been thinking about what people’s lives are compared to what they wanted it to be as children.

When we are kids, we are always asked that question.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  If you listen to children, you will usually hear things like cowboy, astronaut, doctor, sports athlete, or fireman.  Those are all wonderful career choices.  As children grow, however, those choices change.  Our likes and dislikes, as well as our aptitude in different skills dictate what we eventually do when we grow.  Even more than that, are the life circumstances during our early years that often decide what we eventually choose to do with our lives.


But the most important decision maker in my mind is God’s plan for our life, combined with our free will to choose or not choose that plan.

I started out wanting to be a professional baseball player.  I was an avid fan as a child.  I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could grab my glove and ball and go outside to play.  I knew all of the stats for my favorite players.  Being a Yankee fan, I knew every player on the team, the lineup, pitching rotation, and pretty much everything else that mattered about the team.  I just knew that eventually, I would be a Yankee too.

But life changed.

As I grew older, I realized that my skill level just wasn’t there.  Sure I could keep up with my team members in the league I played in.  And I was generally better than the average neighborhood kid.  But once I got to high school, I realized that my dreams of playing in the big leagues was just that – a dream.

So my interests changed.  They changed several times.  Eventually I ended up in my current career.  It is a career I absolutely love.  I am one of those people that love what they do.  I enjoy working.  And I believe it was God’s plan that I end up doing what I do.  I believe that throughout my life, he was shaping me, molding me, and making me into the man I am today.

But what about those people in the world that have fallen?

What about my little one’s mom?  I cannot imagine that when she was young, she wanted to grow up and have her children turned over to the state.  I am sure that as an innocent child, she wanted for herself a wonderful life, a wonderful upbringing, a wonderful career.  I am also convinced that God also wanted that for her.  I am even more convinced that God’s love has not changed, and that He continues to want that for her.

So today I wonder if it is God’s plan all along for some to fall?  Did God want my little one to be taken from her mom all along? No I don’t believe so.  I believe God want us to bear children, then protect them and keep them safe, raising them to honor Him.  I think it is our free will and the human race’s fall from grace that causes us to do things that do not honor Him.  We live in a fallen world, a world that contain great good, and also great evil. Because of the grace of God, my wife and I went one way, and my little one’s bio family another.

As our little one grows into a woman, I pray that her dream about what she wants to do when she grows up, combined with her free will, and God’s plan for her life, results in a positive and enriching life that honors God always.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

What are you doing now?


Wanna Go For a Ride?

“Hey, someone outside said he knows you from school.  He’s asking if you can come out.”

I had just come home from school.  I  was in the 9th grade, which in 80’s meant I was still in junior high school.  Later they would change the school system, and 9th graders would be moved to high school.  When I go outside, I see a kid on a dirt bike.

“Hey, what’s up man?”

It was Michael, a friend from school.  We were in a couple of classes together, and usually had lunch at the same time.  We had kind of become friends, and I had told him where I lived.  Turns out he lived only a couple of blocks away, so he came over on his dirt bike that afternoon.

“Hey, Mike.  You have a bike? Nice!”

I was intrigued.  I had been around dirt bikes and three wheel all-terrain vehicles before.  Miami back then had plenty of rural areas, and plenty of kids had them.  However, my parents didn’t let us ride them.  They considered them dangerous, and I was only 14, so they not going to be ok with me hopping on the back of Mike’s dirt bike.

“Wanna go for a ride?”

Yes of course I did.  Who wouldn’t.  I was 14, and what kid at that age wouldn’t love to ride a motorcycle.  I was conflicted.  I could probably ride with Mike for a couple of minutes without my mom knowing.  She was inside cleaning, and I would probably be back before she could figure it out.

But what if she did figure it out?  What if she told my dad?  Then I would be in big trouble.  I would probably be grounded for a while, and summer was coming up.  Was it worth it to get a chance to ride?  I thought about it for a few seconds.

“Sorry, man, my parents won’t let me.”

“Whatever, dude.  See ya.”

Off Mike rode into the sunset, the motorcycle kicking up dust into my face, as my chances of “cool-dom” rode off with it.  I felt like a total geek.  My parents are so dumb, I thought.  All the kids are doing it.  Why did my folks have to keep me tied up in this dungeon of a place, only letting me out for exercise one hour out of the day, feeding me scraps and dirty water as I worked the chain gang in the mines all day.  At least that is how I thought of my life at that moment – a prisoner.

I eventually got over my deep depression.  I had a decent summer that year.  I went to high school and graduated with a decent GPA.  After trying college and dropping out, I eventually went back, graduated, and today I consider myself lucky to have a career in a slumping economy.  Even though I have had my bumps along the way, my life has been relatively good.

Mike hit a car that summer and was thrown from his bike, landing on his head. He became the subject of controversy that year, helping to ignite a series of changes in Miami over a trauma center crisis in our city.  He suffered a serious head injury, but was denied treatment at the nearest hospital, which did not have a trauma center.  He died on his way to Jackson Memorial Hospital, the only trauma center available at the time.

I think about Mike every once in awhile.  He was a good kid.  He didn’t usually get into trouble.  His parents apparently allowed him to ride a dirt bike – without a helmet.  I had made a choice that day, using the free will God gave me.  It really could have gone either way.  I could have given in to my impulses and hopped on his bike.  Mind you, that day he came over to my house was not the day he died.  But who knows what could have happened if I had made the decision to ride that day?  Maybe it would have only been the first day I rode on the back of that dirt bike.  Maybe I would have been on the back of that bike the day he had his accident.  Who knows?

What is my point?

Well, a couple of things.  First of all, I thank my parents for raising me in such a way that I feared my consequences if I didn’t do what they told me to do.  They simply told me I was not to ride on motorcycles – period.  They didn’t spend much time telling me why.  They did not counsel me.  They did not advise me.  They said don’t do it or else I would be in trouble.  There is something to be said for parents exerting their authority on their children.  Your children don’t have to  understand everything in life, they simply need to trust that you are doing what is best for them.

The second point is more about faith.  I truly believe that God has a plan for every one of us.  My plan apparently involved living past 14.  I was put on this earth for a reason, and I hope to continue to fulfill God’s will for my life, until He calls me home.  As for Mike, apparently God only needed him on this earth for 14 years.  In that time, Mike helped to change our world for the better.  Miami finally realized the huge problem their health facilities had with regard to trauma centers, and today Miami does a much better job in that regard.  The dangers of riding a motorcycle without a helmet is very apparent today, even though some still ignore the dangers.  Back then, no one rode bicycles without helmets.  Today, I put one on every time I take my mountain bike around the block, and most people put one on when they ride their motorcycles.

God gave us free will.  We make our choices in life, and hopefully we make the right ones.  But while we make those choices, God will always guide our path.  In the end, He is the one in charge, and He will decide when it is time to come home.  Thankfully, God blessed me with parents who protected me and taught me – sometimes with great resistance – when to say no.  He worked on them, so that they could teach me to stay safe, so that I could fulfill God’s plan for my life.

My hope is that Michael Pollack is looking down on us, and is smiling every time he sees a 14 year old put on a helmet.

Ride on Mike…

It’s Still Crooked!

December 22nd, some time in the 80’s….

I was a teenager, living with my dad and step mom. Both of them had been very busy running a business, trying to make ends meet. There had been no time for Christmas trees and decorations. The rest of my brothers and I had been telling Dad about getting a Christmas tree, and he kept saying the same thing. “Soon, son, soon…”. Well, soon turned into a couple of days before Christmas eve, and….nothing….

“This is the saddest Christmas ever.”

“This really sucks!”

“All my friends have Christmas trees.”

There were other comments as well, not just from the kids, but from my step mom as well. I guess the guilt trip finally got to Dad, and…

“Gosh darn it, we are going out tonight and get a tree!”

So we all piled into the family car, and drove off in search of the perfect tree.

Well, if you have to get a tree so close to Christmas, I am sure you can imagine that the definition of the word “perfect” might need some adjustment. The trip started out with the idea of getting a great big tree, a mammoth expression of our love for the holiday. Images of a huge towering tree taking up the entire living room, with hundreds of lights, and endless number of ornaments hanging from our acquisition soon began to change and morph as we went from location to location. It was getting late, and none of us had eaten dinner, but still no tree.

Dad was getting frustrated. I am sure he was aware that he would be blamed for ruining Christmas at this point. Something had to be done.

“Ok there is one other place we can go.”

We get to the last place in town we knew that was selling trees. It was almost closing time. The employees were not exactly happy to see us. But Gosh darn it, we were buying a tree. I won’t tell you when we got to the place that our hopes were lifted. If I remember correctly there were a total of five or six trees left, if you could actually call them trees. They were drying out already, and had few branches. Think Charlie Brown Christmas. We looked over our choices, weighed our options. Dad moves to the back and finds one of them.

“This is the one!”

“It is kind of crooked.”

“I will fix that.”

Did he actually say that? Fix it? Oh boy. So he pays for the tree, and it gets mounted on top of our car, and we are home bound. We start to lift our spirits. We have a tree! My step mom starts to talk about the ornaments she is going to bring out, Dad says he has some lights in the garage, and we start singing, carrying on. This is going to be the best Christmas ever!

Then one of us asks a question.

“Dad do you have a stand?”

Long pause. Silence. A small bead of sweat is now visible on Dad’s brow.

“We don’t need a stand. I will make one!”

Oh boy.

Now we are home, and mom is gathering the ornaments and lights while we bring in the tree. Dad is now holding the tree upright, pondering his next move. Again, there is a long silence while we all await Dad’s answer to the whole stand issue.

“Ok, you go into the back yard and get that bucket. And the rest of you, get as many rocks as you can. Hurry up!”

Oh boy. Within minutes, we gather a few hundred pounds of rock (or at least it seemed that way), and a 5 gallon paint bucket. Dad directs one of us to hold the bucket, while he picks up the tree and places it in the bucket. Then he tells us to fill the remaining space with rocks while he holds the tree.

“Gosh darn it, son hurry up!” He did not really say gosh, nor did he say darn it.

“It’s still crooked!”

Dad steps back to look at his creation. But after a couple of seconds, the tree starts to lean over, then begins to fall, and we all rush to hold it up. Apparently the rocks are not enough.

“Ok kids, take the wheelbarrow and fill it with dirt. Hurry!”

Within minutes, the bucket was packed with dirt along with the rocks. Surely now it will hold right? Nope. Still leans when you let it go. There are frowns all around now, and Dad gets the stinking feeling Christmas won’t happen unless something is done quick. MacGyver suddenly makes his appearance.

“Ok go to the garage and get that spool of wire….”

“And the tool box, and some nails!”

At this point I was pretty scared. Was this the Christmas we all end up in the hospital? How was my step mom going to explain this to the ER doctor.

“Then my husband got some nails…”

So Dad tells us to move the tree over, away from the wall. Out comes the hammer and nails, and Dad strategically pounds two nails into the wall. He then cuts a long strand of wire, wrapping it around the trunk of the tree. With the tree back in its place, he stretches the wire tight and then ties each end of the wire to the nails. Now – miraculously – our tree stays in place. Look mom, no hands!

We all step back, surveying our accomplishment. We are smiling now, and pride can clearly be seen in our faces. Yeah, it’s a screwed up, dis-functional tree, but it’s our tree, and Christmas was back on!

“It’s still crooked!”

My little brother got a swift slap up side the head for that crack. No one wanted to hear that right now. We were all too tired, sweaty, and full of tree sap to deal with any more set backs. Besides, we all knew Dad had a level in the tool box, and if he brought that thing out, we would be at this all night.

The rest of the night involved lights, ornaments, hot chocolate, singing, horsing around, and it turned out to be one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Psst…..That Christmas tree was there until March….