I don’t remember the exact date, but the events of that night I’ll not forget. After all, I was almost killed. This would have been back in college during finals week. I was cramming for an exam with six friends. We were sitting at the kitchen table at a friend’s apartment, hitting the books well past midnight. A welcomed evening breeze floated through the open windows, exchanging the lingering smell of pizza with much needed fresh spring air.
My father was an alcoholic and a horse gambler. And, while he was a natural athlete and coached little league with an unmatched passion, my father never made the time to teach me how to play baseball . . . or even have a father-son catch. Due to a lifetime of poor choices, Dad missed out on the bulk of my childhood. In the end, he lived a hard life, lost everything that was dear to his heart, and died alone in an abandoned warehouse.
On September 4 and 5, I had the opportunity to share a little bit of my childhood story on the Focus on the Family broadcast. In case you missed that program, my family life put the “D” in dysfunctional. Evidently, those broadcasts touched a nerve with listeners. I thought I’d give you a sample of just one of the many letters we’ve received echoing the invaluable role of mentors in the midst of a traumatic childhood.
Like many dads, I’m always on the lookout for fun, creative ways to bond with my kids something I rarely experienced with my own father. However, this particular “great idea” backfired big time.
I had just dropped off my wife Jean at the Denver airport and was returning home with the boys when a stroke of inspiration struck me like a freight train. Come to think of it, a southbound train adjacent to the interstate sparked the idea.
Over the weekend, I took the boys for a treat. They helped me in the yard and they were thirsty. We popped into a coffee place. The boys, ages six and four, love cold vanilla milk with whipped cream. As we’re getting out of the car, my oldest says, “My hand is stuck in my pocket!” I looked over, and sure enough he seemingly could not remove his hand from his pocket. I said, “Why can’t you pull your hand out?”
Still sitting in the van, he explained how he put some chocolate in his pocket a few days before.
Tonight I arrived home at about 6:00 PM. My boys, Trent and Troy, ages 6 and 4, were ready for action. We started with a quick game of hide and seek and then outside for a jump on the trampoline. They love the trampoline. I remember one night arriving home from work and the boys were sitting quietly in the living room. Trent turned his head, and I saw the darkest bruise on his chin. “What happened?” He responded, “Mommy’s knee hit me in the chin.” I then saw Troy limping across the floor.
I’m in Washington DC tonight at a conference. It worked out for Jean and my two boys, Trent and Troy, to travel with me on this trip. Dr. Dobson said when I took the role as president of Focus on the Family, “Your number one priority is those boys. Don’t let Focus take too much of your time.” Great words of wisdom from America’s foremost authority on family.
Well, after a great speech by John Stossel, of ABC’s 20/20 program, I ducked out to give my boys a kiss good night before catching dessert with the group.
Well, this is my first blog entry. Yes, the first ever! And what a wonderful topic to kick off with…orphan care. This week, Focus on the Family hosted over one hundred organizations on our campus to discuss how we, as the Christian community, can do more to help children. Do you know that Christians have a rich tradition of being involved in community outreach?
The most vivid example for me was during the Roman Empire, when a small group of Christians, numbering about 3% of the population, began to save babies from the river.