Fight Like A Girl: A Matter of Perspective

Monday night I opened up the laptop and sat down to write a blog entry. I’d been kicking around a few ideas for a good rant. I thought about writing my thoughts about the terrible shooting in Santa Barbara, California last Friday and the related issues of misogyny, mental illness and gun control. I also considered going off about my lousy backyard neighbor whose puppy escaped his yard and attacked several of my chickens in my backyard earlier in the day. I even considered unloading some thoughts about parents who shout and scream at their children in public as their form of discipline. Yet, nothing really worked for me as I sat there. My heart and mind just weren’t in it. Instead of trudging onward I closed the laptop and went to bed. As I laid there, I realized what I needed to write about; what was bothering me. It was the status update of my friend, AJ.

Well, results of Frehley’s MRI last Friday have shown that the tumors are continuing to grow…. It was our last visit at children’s hospital today, there is nothing more they can do on a medicine point of view. We will truly miss the oncology team at Childrens, they have been our saviors for the last 2+ yrs. They did say they may come for a home visit. As of today we will discontinue chemo meds and continue with just keeping Frehley comfortable. Lisa is taking the summer off of work to be with Frehley, She is doing ok….. we are working on a bucket list of things to do this summer. We will keep you posted on all our adventures. We continue to be in awe of all the support we receive from our friends, family and community. Please STAY STRONG FOR US we are going to need it.
Frehley is his 11 year old daughter. For more than two years she’s been bravely fighting a brain tumor. Her family and friends have rallied around her as she has received many treatments. Her friends started a Facebook page called “Stay Strong Frehley“. T-shirts were sold with the slogan “Fight Like a Girl” across the front. She even got to meet her idol, Selena Gomez. All in an effort to give Frehley encouragement and strength in her battle. While I’ve never met Frehley, I can tell you from following her story these last few years that she is one tough kid. Along with countless others, I’ve been praying for her to beat this. But, barring a miracle, she’s not going to win this battle. I cannot begin to imagine the wide spectrum of emotions AJ and his wife, Lisa, are experiencing right now as they are coming to terms with the fact that there is nothing more that can be done medically for their daughter. For me, as a father of six, I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I guess it took reading this terrible news about Frehley to shake me a bit, to help give me a little perspective. Those other blog topics can wait. They’re not really that important. I can write about them another time, if at all. But, for me, what really matters right now is thinking about what’s important in my life. It’s far too easy to take things like health and loved ones for granted. Sure, we’ve all lost loved ones, maybe even watched them die. We’ve all experienced times of sickness, maybe even extended sickness. But, for the most part, we’ve recovered and moved on with life. It would be easy to get depressed thinking about how sad it is that this young girl is going die way before her time. Instead, I’d like to challenge each of you, including myself, to use Frehley’s story as inspiration and motivation to shake out of the day-to-day routine and refocus yourself. Live. Love. Laugh. Appreciate. Make a family bucket list and start crossing items off as you make memories together.
While I’m not going to pretend to be close friends with AJ and his family, I can assure you that I’m going to continue praying for them as they go through this difficult time. Please note that I asked for and received permission from AJ before sharing Frehley’s story with you. Please share this story with others so that Frehley and her family may be encouraged. I’m sure that they would appreciate knowing that you’re staying strong for them, as well.

Free Parking

On Tuesday morning one of my kids had a doctor appointment at 8:30, with check-in time 15 minutes prior. Despite the inevitable “poop-the-diaper-moments-before-it’s-time-to-leave” efforts of my baby (yes, I changed it before we left), we were approaching the clinic right on time. Except for one thing. Parking. Since we have six kids we ditched our minivan and roll with a white 12-passenger (former airport shuttle) van. Or the “creeper van” as my kids call it. Whatever you call it, it’s a beast to park since it’s taller than most underground parking structures, this clinic included. That leaves street parking as the only viable option. And most of those spots are snatched much earlier by the clinic staff.

When we were about 5 minutes into the 15 minute drive to the clinic I said a quick and informal prayer asking God to provide us a close parking space so that we could be on time. It’s a habit I formed several years ago after a pastor challenged us to do so in a sermon about inviting God into our everyday, mundane part of life. Over the years my kids have heard me pray it aloud and have seen it work effectively, to their amazement. It’s also provided an opportunity to discuss the importance and role of faith and prayer in my life. I suppose it’s another perk of being a stay-at-home-dad; living out my faith in the nuts and bolts of life with my kids.

When we were about to turn the corner by the clinic I uttered a slightly more urgent version of my parking request, finishing it with a slight challenge. “Ok, God. Do your thing.” I meant no disrespect by it. But I probably should’ve worded it differently. After all, I’ve lived long enough to see that God has a sense of humor.

Thankfully, God also has a sense of compassion. My challenge to God had barely left my lips when I saw the red brake lights and white reverse lights illuminate on a car parked in one of the three spots closest to the clinic entrance. In our family we call that “rockstar parking”. As I waited for the car to pull out I humbly thanked Him for such a swift and obvious answer to my request. My three year old told me that our van wouldn’t fit between the parked cars. She had no need to worry as I parallel parked the beast like a rockstar…no prayer needed!

I hope that sharing this incident encourages and challenges you to invite God to help you in the boring things of life to help build not only your faith but also that of your children. Please don’t think of me as a saint or anything like that. I mess up many times each day. Sadly, it’s more than enough to live out the concepts of mercy, grace and forgiveness before my family. Let me know if you take up the parking challenge. I’d love to read about your experience.