Kris Mares

Just a woman trying to love Jesus and others a little bit more…

Friendship July 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kris @ 8:13 am
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Recently, Blue reminded me of this funny little poem by Shel Silverstein call Friendship:

I’ve discovered a way to stay friends forever —
There’s really nothing to it.
I simply tell you what to do
And you do it!

For a “bossy northerner” like me (a loving title bestowed upon my by my southern friends), this poem made me LAUGH!!  I can’t count how many times I’ve said to my husband and kids “Well, we wouldn’t argue so much if you’d just do what I tell you too!”  Yes, I realize how absurd that sounds.  If the people around us would just follow our directions, life would be soooo much easier wouldn’t it?

I for one, am glad I have a husband and friends who will stand up to me.  I’m glad that I have friends that will tell me what they really think about some of the crazy plans I cook up.  I’m glad that I have friends that are strong, opinionated and don’t let me walk all over them.  And this is why – if you let me, I will. 

I learned several year ago, something shocking about my “kind and loving” nature.  Don’t get me wrong, I can be kind and loving.  I can also walk all over you on the way to where I’m going.  The bad thing is, I don’t always realize it.  What I do realize, however, is that I need strong personalities around me to balance out my strong personality.  Yes, that means interesting discussions and “arguments,” but it also means that we have an understanding that it’s not personal and there is no love lost.  As hard as I can push, I need people to push back so that I don’t fall. 

So, to my “girls” who love my strength, my personality and the heart of who I am and who I hope to be – THANK YOU!  You have made me kinder, more loving and more beautiful.  My life will never be the same since you have been a part of it.  And while miles will soon separate our homes, know that our hearts are forever bound together in Christ.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

Two are better than one,
       because they have a good return for their work:

 If one falls down,
       his friend can help him up.
       But pity the man who falls
       and has no one to help him up!

  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
       But how can one keep warm alone?

 Though one may be overpowered,
       two can defend themselves.
       A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

1 Samuel 20:42

Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’ “

 

Adoption Story… Part 3 March 31, 2010

Filed under: Adoption Story,Blue — Kris @ 9:01 pm
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Part 1     Part 2

At some point after Blue arrived at our church and began to grow on me, there was a small fleeting voice that said “Maybe Blue is the one.”  I entertained the thought for a moment, but never said anything to Racer.  The thought came again, a few months later, but again I did nothing.  The thought came again, I shared with Racer “what if…” and he just looked at me a bit strange.  All the while, I was still teaching, learning about and listening to Blue.  I have some training in trauma counseling and could see how she was ignoring her past, yet wanting for a better future.  She wanted a family.

When the Foster’s took in a teen mom with a toddler, Blue was not happy.  She decided she didn’t like small children and looked forward to her time away from “it.”  She’d never been around really small children, so didn’t know what to do or how to interact.  I would just tease her and ask if she wanted to hold Gorilla.  Gorilla even accompanied me on some youth ministry events. 

At some point in early March 2009, Blue learned that she would have to move out of the Foster’s home.  Again, Blue was NOT happy.  This place she had happened upon, the Foster’s, our church, her school, had somehow become home to her.  She did not want to move.  The reasons why the move was planned are not quite clear.  Maybe she made a comment to her caseworker about not wanting to be with the Foster’s anymore (because of the baby).  Maybe she had grown and learned and been “counseled” and didn’t need the higher level of care anymore and a regular level home couldn’t be found in our area.  Maybe state budget cuts necessitated some kids be moved to homes that had a lesser rate of reimbursement.  Whatever the case, Blue would be moving at the end of the school year.

When I learned this information, my gut wrenched.  I felt like I was going to throw up and it was all I could do to not cry.  I told Racer.  I cried and told him about the multiple thoughts I’d had over the last several months.  I told him about my stomach.  I asked him to pray.  Within the next couple of days, Blue and I left to go on a youth retreat with a few others.  I asked Racer to pray during this time – pray for clarity, wisdom and direction.  I would be doing the same. 

On the retreat, God was very clear to me.  I saw Blue cry for the first time.  She opened up even more about her life, her feelings about our community and her heart’s desire to find a family.  I asked other youth ministers at the retreat to pray for me, my family and for Blue.  They did.  It was beautiful.  I cried.  Blue cried. 

When I got home from the retreat, Racer and I knew, without a doubt, what we were supposed to do.  We were supposed to adopt Blue.  We were to be the family that her heart longed for.  She was to be the child that we were to love and add into our crazy, already chaotic life.  We knew God was knitting together a beautiful tapestry, one that we didn’t understand, Blue certainly didn’t have a clue about and one that is still being put together.

To be continued…

 

Adoption Story… Part 2 March 30, 2010

Filed under: Adoption Story,Blue — Kris @ 7:28 pm
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Read part one here.

There is a couple in our church that I have a new love for.  You see, in May 2009, Blue came to live with the Fosters.  They are an older couple, well past their years of parenting teenagers, but God has given them a mission to open their home to teens that have “issues” and need a special kind of love.  Blue was one of those teenagers.  It’s not unusual to come to worship on a Sunday morning, look over where the Fosters sit and see a new face sitting there with them.  I don’t remember the first time I met Blue.  I’m sure it was on that first Sunday morning she must’ve come with them.  Blue was broad, stocky and mad at most of the world.  It was obvious that she had been hurt in her life and was carrying around extra weight that most 14-year-old girls shouldn’t have to carry.

At some point, Mrs. Foster talked to me about Blue coming to youth group.  As the youth minister at the time, I was of course open, willing and excited to have one more young person to love and teach about Jesus.  Blue became a regular and active member of our youth group.  For some reason, she and I took a strange liking to each other.  She listened to me, was full of energy and was wise beyond her years.  Blue was very different from a “typical” 14 year old girl.  She didn’t care about appearances or impressions.  She was bold, starving for attention, overweight, hurting and did not like to talk about feelings.  (Hmmm… maybe she wasn’t so different…).  She loved to eat, so much so, that I even talked to Mrs. Foster about my role in helping develop healthier eating patterns. 

As I got to know Blue, I could see that she was a girl with a twisting, winding, interesting story – one that I wanted to know better.  She would open up about her past – her family, her mother, her schools – and my heart would hurt.  There was one time that our church hosted a community meeting about drug use in our community.  One of the presenters had a display box with different types of drug paraphernalia.  Blue came to me and asked “Would you like to see all the stuff my mom used to do?”  She then proceeded to take me to that box and point and tell stories, one that included her box of Mr. Bubbles.

My belly was growing even bigger with Gorilla’s life and my relationship with Blue was growing too.  Little did I know God’s plan in it all.  I look back and think how interesting that my heart wasn’t just growing with love for one more child, but for two. 

Blue began to be a “youth helper” in the children’s ministry.  It was during that time, that Blue and Professor got to know each other.  I remember thinking that it was so great to watch them together.  They shared some interests, were able to have conversation and even interacted with each other at other opportunities in church.  Blue began to grow and slowly, the emotional weight that she carried began to lift.  Mrs. Foster would talk to me about the challenges she had with Blue.  Most of the time, I saw them as typical mother/teenager issues and would encourage her in her role in Blue’s life.  Sometimes, as I learned more of Blue’s story, I could see how her interactions with family were results of life history.  I prayed for Blue.  I talked with Blue.  I loved Blue.

Soon, Gorilla was born.  Life became inundated with caring for a newborn and 2 other children.  Mrs. Foster and Blue came to my house and brought a gift.  I remember Blue saying “We didn’t know he’d be so small!”  Gorilla wasn’t really that small, Blue had just never been around babies.

 Then the Fosters took in a teen mom and her baby.  Blue was NOT happy!

 To be continued…

 

Adoption Story… Part 1

Yesterday was a big day for our family. We officially became a family of 6. In our hearts we have been a family of 6 since the end of July, but yesterday it was “official.” Blue’s adoption became final. Here’s the first part of our story…

In the early fall – September I think – of 2007 our church had a guest speaker. It was the chaplain from one of the Children’s Homes in our state. He spoke of the ministry they have housing and caring for older kids that can no longer live with their families. He talked about how so many churches support them and what we can continue to do to share God’s love with the kids living in Children’ s Home. For the first time ever, Racer and I walked away from a worship service with exactly the same message – we are supposed to adopt.

This message was not new to me. For many years, really since I was a teenager, I had felt like I was supposed to be a foster parent and eventually adopt. I never thought it was to be babies though. Always in my mind I was to adopt an older child, one that was past some kind of invisible line on an “adoptable age.” For Racer, though, this was the first time ever that he had thought about adoption. We talked about what that would mean for our family. We talked about what that would mean for us. I was insistent that the adoption be through our state child welfare system. I have nothing against international adoption. I know families and have family that have had very successful international adoptions. I just felt so strongly, and still do, that there are so many kids in my own country that need loving families; how could I look elsewhere?

So we called Children’s Home. Unfortunately, they were only able to assist with international adoptions and the kids in their care were part of the state’s child welfare system. So we called “the Cabinet” and learned about the SNAP program. To adopt, however, we would first need to go an informational meeting, and then take a training class that would license us as foster parents. At that point, our home would be available to care for and love a child and move toward adoption.

It took 4 months for us to get to an informational class. It seemed like the schedule never opened for the night the class was. Finally, the schedules aligned and we went. I remember before going, looking at the SNAP website. Children available for adoption were on there and I felt totally awful, almost like I was shopping for a child. It didn’t feel right to do that and I told Racer I couldn’t do that again. God was going to give us a child in a different way.

Next was the training class. It was about 3 months long and yet again, it never seemed to fit in the schedule. Racer was racing, I had youth stuff, and we needed a babysitter for Professor and Girlie. It just didn’t fit. And then, we found out Gorilla was on the way. Hmmm… didn’t seem like a good idea to bring a new child into our family when we were already bringing a new child into our family. That was spring of 2008. Here I am pregnant and working full-time. Racer was busy working. We had 2 other kids in our already small 3 bedroom 1 bath house. Yeah, now was not a good time to adopt.

Then, in May 2008, we met Blue.

To be continued…

 

Family Night February 28, 2010

Filed under: Marriage,Motherhood — Kris @ 1:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Lately, we’ve been trying to enjoy family nights when we can.  Doing something TOGETHER, as a family, when we all can be doing the same thing.  So many nights it seems that we are fractured – little kids playing, someone on the computer, another on the phone, another watching tv, someone else doing chores…  we’re all in the same house yet not interacting.  We’re all busy doing our own thing.

So Friday night, we watched Evan Almighty and ate popcorn.  And yes, we all watched it.  Gorilla did go to be 1/2 way through, but sat through part of the movie.  Blue and Professor watched the whole thing.  Girlie sat with Racer and vacillated between watching and playing a Bible character card game.  The movie was such a good choice for our family right now (good pick Racer).  In Evan Almighty, the main family just moved and ask God for some powerful things.  Then, God asks Evan to do something radical.  God asks Evan to build an ark.

The kids don’t understand.  The wife doesn’t understand.  What does building an ark have to do with anything of importance in today’s world?  How does that make sense with family?  Really, the main point is one of obedience.  Will Evan obey even when he looks totally crazy to his family and the rest of the world.  Even when the odds seem to be against him, will he obey?  When he obeys, what will happen?

Don’t we all have those same kind of questions?  You want me to do what God?  How’s that gonna work?  What about my family?  What will others think?  So how is that really gonna work?  We question and question, but do we obey?  We ask God for something, but will we obey when He gives us the route to get there?

In a scene in Evan Almighty, the character of God is speaking to Evan’s wife.  The character of God asks “If someone asks for patience, do they get patience or the opportunity to be patient?  If someone asks for a close-knit family, do they get that or do they get the opportunity to grow close together?”  Interesting point.  We ask God for so many things in life but do we see and obey when He is giving us the chance to grow and shift and change into what we asked for?

So at the end of the movie is my favorite scene ever – Evan and the character of God dancing together.  When we obey, we can enjoy the fellowship and joy that is found in a relationship with God.  When we obey, we find ourselves on the other side of the trials, recognizing God’s love and grace and dancing in the delight of our Father.

So what did our family do?  We danced.  You heard me (well I guess read…), we danced.  Right there in the living room with no curtains at night so anyone looking into our window could see us dancing like no one was watching.  Blue danced.  Professor danced.  Girlie danced.  Racer danced.  I danced.  Together, as a family, we delighted in the gift of family and love that God has given us.  We needed that.

Thank you God for helping us obey and teaching us through the times that are really hard.  As we continue to seek Your Will for our lives, help us obey in each step and dance in delight at the gifts you bring us.

 

My Girlie February 22, 2010

Filed under: Girlie — Kris @ 3:08 pm
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Girlie is now 3.  Next birthday I think she’ll be 15!  When I was pregnant with her, we didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl (Racer’s choice – I wanted to know).  When she was born and we learned Girlie was a girl my response was “What am I going to do with a girl?”  I know how to handle boys.  I know how to get boys to do what I want/need them to.  I’m not so good with girls. 

I suppose I’m figuring that out though.  Parenting Girlie has been an interesting learning experience.  I have learned a lot about myself in being Girlie’s mom.  Why?  Because she is just like me.  Don’t get me wrong – she looks just like Racer with her beautiful, big brown eyes.  She acts just like me.  Ask my mom and she’ll confirm that frustrating fact.  Why frustrating?  I’m not the easiest girl to get along with and put 2 of me together – hair pulling, name calling and an all out cat-fight can ensue.  In this case, I’m bigger, so I have the advantage (most days).  So yeah, parenting myself has NOT been easy. 

Girlie and I are both stubborn, opinionated, like to have things our way, smart, loving and sometimes manipulative creatures.  Good thing I can see right through her act (Racer has a harder time and I don’t really want him to learn; then he’ll see right through my act too).  We love life and can get overly excited and tired by too many things.  We like to have our hand in everything and we are nosey.  Hmm… curious sounds better doesn’t it?  We are natural-born leaders and don’t like to be told what to do. 

In parenting Girlie, I have been smacked in the face with the realization that I am the one modeling and showing her how to be a woman, wife and mother.  That feels like such as awesome and daunting responsibility.  There are so many things about myself that I want to change; I don’t want her to be how I am on many days.  I hear her repeat what I’ve said to my other children or husband and I cringe.  Wow, I want her to be kinder to  my grandbabies.  I want her to be a woman who loves Jesus so much and walks so closely to Him, that only love and joy come out of her actions and words.  I want the world to look at her and see a reflection of Christ. 

I suppose I should start there.  When I start with self-change, then like a stone dropping into a pool of water, the change will ripple out from there. 

I also, don’t have the full burden of raising my child.  I have a community of believers that are also raising my children to be strong in their faith.  I sure couldn’t do it without them.  The church nursery workers give my Girlie love when she is small and learning to find church as a safe place.  Her Sunday school teachers share all the great songs like “Zaccheus” that I forget to teach her.  The grandmothers in the church give her lots of love and hugs when Girlie’s own grandmothers live so far away.  The preschool teachers gently teach her when it seems like my focus so many days is disciplining her.  My friends love her enough to give her space to be herself without having the responsibility of being her parent.  The Holy Spirit guides her, Jesus leads her and God gives her more love than I ever could. 

I love being Girlie’s mom.  It’s hard, however, I know – I pray – that someday, I will look at her parenting her own little girl just like her and think “She didn’t turn out so bad after all.”  And I’m a better woman because she is my daughter.

Girlie – I love you the pinkest.

 

The Joy of Paint, Glitter and Glue February 10, 2010

It’s snow day #2 this week. Yesterday, as the snow was falling outside, Girlie, Professor and even Blue made Valentine Day boxes. You remember doing them as a kid… the shoe box with the hole in the top and decorated with an assortment of items (I was fond of aluminum foil and construction paper hearts). Since we were having a snow day, I decided I’d get out the paint. We had a glorious mess!! The boxes were covered in brown paper grocery sacks (when I forget my reusable bags, I like to ask for paper) and then on to the painting!

It’s interesting to watch kids paint whatever they feel like painting. No direction, no suggestions, just their creativity. Blue painted hers all orange and put yellow stars. Professor started with some kind of map (I think it involved the Sea of Galilee) but ended up with all grey.  Girlie simply painted. I just let them paint. There was paint on the table, paint on them and I know if Racer had been here (he’s home now… FINALLY), he’d have been having a fit. I, the organized one, don’t mind a mess when it involves creativity. Weird, I know. Afterall, it’s just a box to put some Valentine cards in (which probably won’t happen afterall because I’m sure school will be out the rest of this week). It’s not a beauty contest and who cares what they look like. If the kids are enjoying creating them, then that makes them and me happy.

And oh, they got to glitter and glue foam hearts on too. I think I still have glitter in my hair!

They also made Valentine card for family.  Girlie got to practice her name and for being not quite 3, I must say she writes her name incredibly well.  Professor made Venn diagrams of color and color blending for one of his cards (you see why he’s the professor?) and Blue made a wierd, sweet card for Racer.  I helped Gorilla make some hand print cards too.  He loved closing his hand into a fist when the paint was on it!  As we were doing this, I was wondering whatever happened to homemade cards?  My kids were having so much fun, but these days, it seems like we just go “let the kids pick out a card.”  We let the card companies write the sentiments of our hearts and serenade loved ones with “special” songs.

We are losing the art of writing and creating.  Sometimes I think we forget the joy in working to make something with our own hands and seeing the face of the recipient when they know it took time and effort to make the gift.  Instead, we keep a gift closet and pick up stuff on sale (or regift – both of which I readily admit I do).  We go and grab a gift card.  I realize, as adults it is hard to find the time to shop and always know what another wants.  I also know that I treasure a handwritten note with gratitude, a story or a prayer.  That is often much more meaningful than any gift that could be purchased.

So as we approach Valentine’s Day, let’s forget about spending money and buying cards, flowers or chocolate.  Instead, give the gift of time and sentiment.  Give and old-fashioned, hand-written card or letter to a loved one or friend.  Tell them what they mean to you.  Tell them how your life is better because they are in it.  Tell them a story about how they have touched your life or warmed your heart.  Tell them how you have seen them grow.  Tell them how beautiful their spirit is and how you are better because they are a part of your life.

Don’t we all need just a little love like that?

 

Date Night with the Professor January 23, 2010

Filed under: Professor — Kris @ 11:07 pm
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Tonight was a Date Night for me.  My date got to choose; we saw the chipmunk movie and went to “The Calcium King” (that’s what Racer and I call it when we want to decide in front of the kids if we want to go there or not).  As you might have guessed, my date was my 8-year-old Professor. 

For Christmas, Racer and I gave our two oldest kids gift certificates for time out with just mom or dad – alone.  Sometimes I think they get jipped when it comes to time with us.  So today, Professor turned his “date night” card into me and we went out.  It was so sweet too.  Of course I paid (after all, he doesn’t have a job as he put it) and he held open the door.  Seriously, my 8-year-old held the door for me.  We got popcorn, drinks and candy.  I chuckled; he laughed.  We shared.  He was so tired, but didn’t really want to fall asleep in the car.  We went for ice cream because that was the plan and I don’t think Professor wanted to alter his plan or miss out on the ice cream.  He looked at me with sleepy, tummy filled, loving eyes and said…

I like you.

I loved hearing him say that.  I think love is just assumed between a parent and child.  Love is something that is just there – a given that will never change.  We just know that we love each other – almost like just knowing that there will be hot lunch available at school.  Parent/child love just is…

But liking the other is another matter all together.  We may know that hot lunch will be at school, but whether we like what is served is another matter all together.  I like that my kid likes me.  I like to hear my Professor say “I like you Mommy” with all the love that is in  his heart.  I will treasure those words.

I like you, my Absent-minded Professor.  You are my favorite Professor in the whole wide world.

 

Step 4… Again January 18, 2010

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 11:32 am
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This past summer I wrote a post about working through Celebrate Recovery Step 4 and my feelings about my husband’s career.  I thought I’d worked through things and was on my way to living life without resentment toward the auto racing industry.  Well, 1 Corinthians 10:12 says “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”  That’s right, I fell.

I’ve enjoyed the break between the racing seasons.  And with the exception of a short testing trip to Daytona, Racer (my hubby) has been home.  I’ve enjoyed having him home every night.  I’ve enjoyed being able to do things together as a family.  I’ve enjoyed his presence.  Now as the start of a new racing season approaches, I’m dreading it.  That, topped with changes that will be coming in our family because of changes in Racer’s employment, has me flipping out.  I’d been trying to hold it in, but I lost it this weekend.  I had a meltdown and it wasn’t pretty.  I hate not knowing what the future holds.  But again, I have to remind my self that “God is doing something.” 

Yes, God is doing something and I know our family’s connection to racing has something to do with that.  Racing is not the enemy.  So I pray that God shows me how Racer’s passion and the desires of my heart for our family fit together.  I realize that auto racing has provided for our family.  I realize that it has given Racer the opportunity to be a light in an industry, in a community, that can be pretty dark at times.  I know these things in my head, but why does my heart hurt when I think about him being gone again?

So, as the countdown to Daytona has begun, and changes are on the horizon, I pray that Jesus helps me keep my perspective on the eternal things of life.  For when we focus on God’s blessings, His Word and the love that abounds in Him, we are more likely to be “reasonably happy in this life.”

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

 

The Fish House and AM Radio June 21, 2009

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 1:11 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Since it is Father’s Day, I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories of my dad.  They may seem odd, but they are precious to me…

When I was little, we used to always go to this place in Wisconsin called Al’s Point.  It was a place with cabins to rent and they were all on Lake Alice.  I was not much of a fisherman but one of the places I loved there was the Fish House.  The Fish House was stinky, dirty, gross and filled with men.  This is the place you could go after a day of fishing and clean what you caught.  They had counter tops, a sink and garbage cans.  The place was small, kind of rickety and had screened windows all the way around.  I was filled with flies and fish scales.  I love the Fish House because my dad would take me there and he taught me how to clean fish.  I wasn’t tall enough to really reach the counter, so we would turn over the minnow bucket and I’d stand on it.  I saw fish guts, bellies full of fish eggs, ice picks through catfish heads and prize catches.  Why is this place so special?  Because I spent time there with my dad.  I’ve spent time with my dad in lots of places, but somehow, this rickety, smelly shack holds a special place in my heart.  I learned ugly lessons about life (it isn’t fair).  I learned about babies in their mommy’s bellies.  I learned that some people don’t use nice words.  I learned that girls can get yucky and do “boy things” and still be beautiful little girls.  I learned that I was powerful and strong too.

My other favorite memory of my dad involves AM radio.  Everytime I hear a game being broadcast, I think of him.  When we went on family trips, we would drive.  Dad was always the driver.  The rest of us slept.  In that hazy stage of beginning to wake up from sleeping in the car, my eyes would still be closed and I would hear my dad listening to a ball game on AM radio.  Baseball, basketball, football – it depended on the season.  Mostly I remember baseball because that’s when we traveled most.  “It’s a swing and a miss…” I remember hearing announcers say in that crackley, static way that only AM radio has.  Dad is a Cardinals fan, so the names of the players from the 80’s will always swirl around in my head.  You see, when we were awake, he listened to music – many times whatever my brother, mom or I wanted.  But when we were asleep, that’s when he got to listen to the game.  I find myself like my father in the sense that when I’m driving and the kids are asleep, I turn to AM radio.  I don’t listen to ball games, but each time I hear a radio broadcast of one, I smile fondly and think of my dad.  I always felt safe and secure and loved.

So on this Father’s Day I say thank you to my dad.  I had, and still have, a wonderful father.  I know that I am blessed because of the influence he has had in my life.  So I ask you each this – what is your favorite memory of your father?  Does he know how special that is to you?

 

 
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