A Dad, A Son and a Couple of Dreams

Me and Nate, 1990

Me and Nate, 1990

Life takes us by surprise, even when we plan ahead. We work tirelessly and single-mindedly toward a goal and are still caught off guard when it is achieved. The success we always dreamed about seems surreal once attained. We find ourselves asking, like the little boy in the YouTube video, “Is this real life?”

I remember holding my son the day he was born, totally in awe of the wonder and miracle of his little life. Lisa and I were infertility patients and had long wondered if we would ever be parents. As I held him in my arms it did not seem real, or even possible.

A few months later we stood together as a family in front of our church family to formally dedicate ourselves to raising Nate in accordance with God’s word and promises. Over the years we had sat in the pews and watched as other families made similar commitments, wondering if we would ever be similarly blessed. It was an emotional moment for us. I held my son in my arms as we affirmed our promise to love and protect our son, to raise him in a home where God’s word would be read, honored and obeyed. We were overwhelmed at God’s goodness, it did not seem real.

Just a few weeks later our family passed another dreamed of milestone. It had taken me 9 years of work, but on a sunny day 25 years ago my family watched as I finally received my medical degree. After the ceremony I stood in my cap and gown with my son in my arms, amazed that the moment had actually arrived.

Yesterday I sat with my family and watched as my son and his wife shared such a moment for themselves. They have been a couple since they were 16 and have been married for three years. For all of those three years he has been in law school at UCLA, balancing the demands of a challenging course load and a brutal commute with his commitments to his family. It was a long and difficult journey but they completed it together.

As I watched him hug his wife, I realized that Lisa and I were completing a journey as well. We had made a promise to God, our family, our church and to one another to do our best to raise our son to be a godly man. Standing before us was such a man. The little boy that I once, in amazement, held in my arms, had just achieved his greatest goal with the woman he loved at his side. It doesn’t seem real.

Me and Nate, May 15, 2015

Me and Nate, May 15, 2015

What I am most proud of is not the degree he earned or the honors he received. He worked hard not for accolades and recognition but out of a desire to do good, to provide for his family and to honor his God. The people in his life and the God he serves are far more important than the diploma in his hand.

My prayer for my son is that he will continue to serve the God who has sustained us and loved us, the one who has given more than we could imagine and hope for and who has allowed us to realize so many of our dreams.

- Bart

One Man's Nightmare, Another Man's dream

He was worried. He had been a well paid executive manager for years and had climbed the corporate ladder to a salary of $300,000 a year. His outlook had been positive and his future secure. Then the market crash came. Now he was out of a job and watching his savings rapidly disappear. He was stressed and worried and his blood pressure was way too high.

We talked about life, financial security and what the future might hold. He was in the midst of a job search but had no solid leads. He expressed concern that he might lose his home if he did not find a suitable job but then talked about his faith and how he was trusting God to help him through the difficult times.

“But what if He doesn’t?” I asked. He was surprised by my question. I explained that while I often hear people talk about trusting God for material blessing and support through difficult times I wasn’t sure that He had promised the level of support people hoped for. Here in America when we think about our "needs" we think of keeping our houses and having a good paying job. In poorer parts of the world people pray for the true necessities of life such as a meal and safety. I shared that what we would consider terrible would be anything but for most people on the planet.

“What is the worst thing that could happen to you?" I asked, "Losing your house and winding up living in a one bedroom apartment in Santa Ana flipping burgers for a living? There are people dodging Border Patrol agents and coyotes for an opportunity like that!” I shared that a one bedroom apartment in Santa Ana would be an answer to prayer for many people in the world.

He paused for a moment, “You’re right,” was his simple reply. As we talked I reminded him that none of the difficulties he currently faced threatened any of the things that mattered most in his life such as his faith or his relationships with his family.

I think about our conversation often, usually when I hear someone's prayer request. It causes me to reflect on what really matters in my life and reminds me not to cling too tightly to my “stuff.” I remember that Lisa and I aren’t really any happier now than we were when we were living in an apartment and barely making ends meet. Back then we found joy in trips to the laundry and cooking meals together. We lived paycheck to paycheck and scrounged up loose change for trips to McDonalds, but we were happy. Even now we realize that our best times are our best times because of who we are with and not because of what we have. True joy comes from our family and not our possessions.

I am also reminded of the danger of putting too much emphasis on what happens in this life. When all is said and done and I am called to give account for my life my financial achievements will not matter at all but the love I gave and the sacrifices I made for others will. Like all men I well be measure by the content of my heart and not the contents of my bank account.

-          Bart