Boy In A Hurry

Today is our grandson’s 6th birthday. Noah is always in a hurry! Whether he’s running through the backyard or cruising on his bicycle, or racing across the swimming pool or sliding into home, he is always “full speed ahead”!noah-me

That was even true on the day that he was born. It seems like it was yesterday that our daughter Bess was at her last prenatal appointment. While waiting to see the doctor she was pretty sure she had gone into labor. They examined her and sent her straight to the hospital at about 3:45 pm. Two hours later a nurse looked in on Bess and said she would be back in 30 minutes to check her progress. When the nurse returned to check, she lifted the sheet and said “And…we’re…having a baby!”

Just that quickly, Noah was born at 7:06 pm, September 20, 2010. He’s been in a hurry from the start.

I thank God for giving us a healthy boy who can run and run and run. I’m grateful that “he’s the fastest__________________________” (fill in the blank). He’s a dynamo who seems to move a little faster everyday. But some days I wish he would slow down. Sometimes I just need him to “put on the brakes”. I want him to climb on my lap. I want to hold him in my arms and kiss his sweet face. I want him to be “little” for just a little while longer. There are days when I feel desperate for Baby Noah. I want to tell him to please not be in such a hurry to grow up. To savor this time. To be patient. To hold on.

But today is not about me. Noah’s life is his own. He’s six today! And he’s in a hurry to run marathons and climb mountains and conquer this world and create beautiful moments and memories along the way.

I realize of course that I don’t need Noah to slow down as much as I need to catch up. And God willing, when I’m too old to run alongside him, I hope that I’ll still be able to cheer from the sidelines as he hurries past.

Happy Birthday Noah!

I love you,




Noah is Five Years Old

Noah 1

It seems like it was just yesterday that I held my grandson in my arms for the first time. But today I struggle to remember life before Noah.

How did I ever live without his joy, his laughter, his love? I didn’t realize how much I needed this sweet boy until he was born and now my life without him would be unimaginable.

Noah is a fun boy. He runs. He swims. He climbs. He rides his scooter at top speed. He is fearless about most things (except insects). He plays soccer and baseball and loves any contest or challenge. And he always wants to win.

Noah is a funny boy. He loves to laugh. He likes to tease and be teased. No one laughs at his silliness harder than he does. He literally cracks himself up. And me too. His laugh is infectious.

Noah is a loving boy. He jumps up into my arms and wraps his arms around my neck and tells me that he loves me. He softly kisses my old face, and it is truly my heart’s delight. He flashes that million dollar smile, and I know that I am blessed.

We play. We laugh. We love.

Today is Noah’s birthday but I’m the one receiving the gift – today and every day for the last five years.

Happy Birthday Noah!

I love you,



Noah 2

 Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord ~ Genesis 6:8

I Must Have Done Something Good

There’s a song from the musical The Sound of Music with the line “somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good”. To be honest, I sometimes feel that way. I have received so much in this life that I don’t deserve; that I didn’t earn; that should have been given to someone more worthy. Loving children. Perfect grandchildren. Family and friends that have carried me along on my journey. A comfortable home. A career that I’m proud of. But mostly my beautiful wife.

Deb, “here I am standing here loving you, whether or not I should…”

My wife, my love, my life. We have defied all odds: married too young; too poor; under-educated; having children when we were barely adults ourselves; career disasters; job changes; money troubles; moving out of state and out the country and back again. And yet, here we are still together. Forever.

Your birthday seems like a perfect time to tell you what you mean to me. When I try to put it in to words it all seems too simple; too ordinary. I love you. The end. But it’s so much more that.

BirthdayNo one gets to me the way you do. No one can make me feel as passionate as you. No one can push me to the edge and then pull me back quite like you. No one lights up a room like you. No one can make me laugh at myself harder than you can. You have shared my happiest days and my moments of utter despair. You have held my hand as I have walked through good times and bad. You keep me grounded and you give me wings. I have witnessed your exquisite beauty, your kindness, your gentleness and your strength countless times and I am still in awe.

And you still do that thing to me that no one else can do: You make me want to be a better man. Thank you for loving me all these years.

I must have done something good…

Happy Birthday,


Run Away With Me

Today I turn 60.

I’ve been thinking lately that my life is best described as a journey. Not so much one long journey but instead it’s been a series of many journeys. Some pleasant. Some mundane. Some exquisite. Some devastating. Some planned. Some unexpected. One journey after another. Another day. Another journey.

The constant in all this journeying is my beautiful wife Deborah. Over 40 years ago I asked if she would run away with me and she said yes. And that’s how it’s been ever since. Always side by side on this crazy ride. Pushing and pulling each other along the way, we’ve made the best of it all and never regretted the journey’s twists and turns. Sometimes holding on to one another in delight or terror. Still we’ve made our way.

I know that there are no guarantees in life (except that it will end one day) so I will take it one day at a time. It’s said that man plans and God laughs. I prefer to think that every step of our journey together, whether planned or unplanned, has been ordained by the mystery of God’s love for us. And I’m sure we’ve given God plenty to laugh about!

boatAll I know is I must have done something good along the way because Deb agreed to run away with me all those years ago and we’ve kept running. And the older I get the more I realize that where we’re headed is nothing compared to journeying there together. On those darkest days, when all seems lost, I look beside me and know that everything will be alright. When happiness abounds, I know that it’s because of the love she brings to my life. And once again I thank God.

I asked her to run away with me and she said yes! And the journey continues…

So today is my birthday but I don’t need to blow out any candles.

Deb, you already know my wish. Let’s go!




Anna Turns Seven

 On Tuesday Anna turns seven. Seven? Where did the time go? So much about her has changed in just seven short years. She still lets me hold her in my arms but I’m afraid those days are numbered. tunies.jpg

The name Anna means gracious and merciful and indeed she is! She has gone from being a helpless infant into a bright, confident, loving first grader. She’s a big sister who dotes on her little brother. She’s a sweet daughter who loves her Mommy and adores her Daddy. She’s a kind and caring friend who shares her time and attention (and her toys). And she’s a granddaughter who brings so much joy that sometimes my heart aches from the sheer beauty of her little soul.

I want to tell her how much she is loved but she already knows that.

I want to tell her that she has changed my world but I suspect that she knows that, too.

I have thanked God for her each day since she entered our world – with a song in her heart, a smile on her lips, and a twinkle in her eyes.

On Tuesday as she blows out her birthday candles I’ll be making some wishes, too. Here are my wishes for Anna:

  • Even when others are unkind. Stay true to your loving spirit.
  • Dream big. If you can dream it; you can do it!
  • Pray always: with words, with deeds, with your smile, with your tears.
  • Travel the world; have great adventures, but remember to always carry Home in your heart.
  • Never forget how much that you are loved. Especially by God.
  • Dance like no one is watching; sing your song to all who will listen.
  • Question authority; shake things up; make some noise for justice and peace.
  • Laugh out loud. A lot.
  • Be tough but caring. Be compassionate but strong.
  • Be the smartest person in the room but never be arrogant or unkind. 
  • Love without fear. Give yourself to others without regret.

anna pawpawI have one wish for myself, too. I hope that Anna lets me carry her in my arms until old age or weakness makes it impossible. And then I hope that she will carry me.

Happy Birthday Anna. Pawpaw loves you more than words can say!






Happy Birthday Anna!

Tomorrow our granddaughter Anna turns six. It’s amazing to me just how quickly these six years have passed. It seems like yesterday she was born. And of course it seems like the day before that, her mother was born. Time flies!

AnnaToday we’ll celebrate as a family and then she’ll have a party with her school friends in a week or so. There will be cake and birthday presents and all the rest. Fun, fun, fun!

But this morning I’m feeling a little melancholy. Part of me is desperately trying to hold on to the past. Perhaps it’s more about my own mortality than about watching Anna grow. I just want to scoop her up into my arms and hold on tight. I’m not quite ready for the world to take hold of her innocence.

But alas, she is already of this world! School and friends and scouts and dance and sports all compete for her time and attention. Her influences beyond home and family are plentiful and diverse. The outside world is very important to her now. And rightly so. She must learn to conquer this world as she has conquered my heart.

Truth be known, I am delighted to see her grow in faith, kindness and understanding. I am captivated by this little girl who brings so much meaning to my life. I can see her mother in the poised, thoughtful, and loving young girl that she is becoming and in the happiness that she brings to others. I can see her grandmother in the spunk and spirit she possesses and in the twinkle in her green eyes. I can see her daddy in a smile that warms the coldest of hearts and in her boundless energy.

And somewhere in that lovely little soul I pray that there is a tiny part of me wrapped up inside. Hopefully I possess some infinitesimal morsel of goodness that deserves to dwell inside such a magnificent creature. Just to know that some example of kindness or love that I have shared, has had a small part in making her so special, would fill my days with immeasurable joy. This grandfather stands in awe of her beauty and at times my heart aches for sheer love of her.

Happy Birthday Anna! You won my heart six years ago. I hope that you know it’s yours forever.


Pawpaw (Denis)




On This Day…

Today is my wife’s birthday.

It’s hard sometimes to believe that we’ve known each other for 40 years. We met after high school graduation when we were both working part-time at the same discount store while attending local colleges. We had attended different high schools and we were attending different colleges but we spent a lot of time together at our part-time jobs.

Friendship turned into love and love turned into marriage. And the rest is history.

What I didn’t know 40 years ago could fill volumes. But what I did know then, was that Debbie was (and is) perfect for me. And everyday with her has been a blessing. That doesn’t mean that our life together has always been easy. There have been plenty of ups and downs but it’s been one helluva ride!

I think that we’ve laughed nearly everyday of our married life (sometimes through tears). Deb has made me the man that I always wanted to be and given me the freedom and the encouragement to accomplish things that I wouldn’t have even considered without her love and support. Conversely I’ve tried to let Deb follow her dreams, too. And she’s allowed me to come along on that journey.

Paris in AprilWe’ve raised three kids, had multiple careers, lived on two continents, and traveled the world together. We’ve had grand moments and enjoyed simple pleasures. We’ve worked hard; played hard and tried to keep Christ in the center of our lives. Those of you that know Deb, know that she is the heart of our family; that friendships are lifelong; that her word is her bond; and that I’m the luckiest man on earth.

Lots of people love Debbie. And her love for others is boundless. But somehow God decided that I was the one who got to share this life with her. Through the good and bad; through the joys and sorrows; I’ve had this beautiful hand to hold. And I’ll never let go.

On this day (a few years ago) she was born and today seemed like a good day for me to tell her that I love this life we share. Heaven can wait – we’re still having too much fun right here.

Happy Birthday Deb. I love you!



In her book Bossy Pants, Tina Fey writes a prayer for her daughter. Part of that prayer:

“Lord, When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half. And stick with Beer.”

Dear Daughter,

I just want to take a moment and thank you for sticking with beer. Many times I think to myself (and sometimes say aloud to your mother), “We need to remember to thank our daughter.” So here goes:

Thanks for being the ‘middle kid’ between two brothers who sometimes made your life hell but mostly made you smart, strong and well-equipped for dealing with immature jerks in your adult life.

Thanks for being every teacher’s favorite student (and no, you were not a suck-up! No matter what your brothers might have said).

Thank you for having a spirit of adventure and a love of travel and for being a foreign exchange student in Ecuador. ¡Y el español es excelente!

Thank you for not becoming a statistic at the University of Wisconsin (even though we both know it was a “party school”).

Thank you for not dressing ‘slutty’ and for never getting your neck or face tatooed. And for not piercing anything other than your ears.

Thank you for marrying someone so much like me that we often share the same stupid jokes (sometimes simultaneously) and because I know he’s the only man who could love you as much as I do.

Thank you for our beautiful grandchildren. And for grounding them in love and peace and joy. They are your spirit and light!

Thanks for dragging your husband and children to England just to see your Mom & Dad when we lived there.

Thank you for your faith in God and for sharing it so beautifully with your students but mostly for sharing it with your own children.

Thank you for letting me spoil your kids with stuff sometimes (but mostly with love).

Thanks for being enough like me that you’re funny and self-confident but mostly like Mom so that you’re loving and generous and kind.

Thanks for always stepping up, standing in, speaking up, and lending a hand (and sometimes a shoulder to cry on).

Thanks for making family a center of your life and for loving your grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, and cousins.

Thanks for your many friends who can always count on you (and for allowing them to become my friends, too).

Thank you for “needing to be home” and for making home a place where I want to be, too.

Thanks for letting me be your hero when you were a little girl (Daddy’s need that). And for being my hero now.



Five Years Old!

Anna at fiveOur granddaughter Anna is five years old today. Five years old! It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since she was born but of course I can barely remember life without her. She has filled our world with light.

And five??? Five is one of those milestone birthdays, like 13 or 21. Kindergarten will begin this fall. She plays soccer now. She takes swimming lessons. She will have her first dance recital this spring. She knows the ‘days of the week’ and ‘months of the year’ and all her colors and numbers and she can write her name and mine too and is beginning to read REAL WORDS. I’m excited for all her ‘firsts’ but truth be told it scares me just a little. I find myself wanting things to slow down. There will be time enough in the future for her to learn how to ride a two-wheeler and study for SAT’s. I need more time RIGHT NOW to treasure her sweetness. Her innocence. I need my baby girl to be a baby a bit longer.

Pawpaw's Girl
Pawpaw’s Girl

But it’s not about what I need. Anna will continue to grow and I will have to adapt. I somehow managed to do that when her mother was transformed from a helpless newborn into a five year-old, who was learning so much, and then into a teenager, who knew too much, and then an adult, who is now teaching me so much. Life goes on. I want Anna to grow up. I want her to take on BEING FIVE with the same excitement and joy and love that she has shown throughout these brief five years. I want her to be undaunted; I want her to conquer the world the way she has conquered my heart. But I hope there’s still some time for baby dolls and Play-Doh®; make-believe and mud puddles.

Our relationship will change. I’ll get older. She’ll get wiser. She won’t need bedtime stories and our silly little games will become – well, silly and little. But I pray that our love for one another never changes.

I know that Anna is growing up and I am truly happy that she is five years old; and I look forward to 13 and 21. I want to be around to witness some of those milestones. I’d like to think that I’ll be on the sidelines cheering her on (and carrying an image of a precious baby girl in my heart).

Happy (Easter) Birthday Anna! Pawpaw loves you very much.



Noah Boy

Tomorrow is grandson Noah’s second birthday. It’s hard to believe that two years has passed since that miracle occurred. But here he is: a two year-old!

Noah is all-boy. He is fascinated by airplanes, trains, trucks and helicopters (real ones and toy versions). He loves to kick or throw a ball; climb a wall (or a hill, or tree, or table, or railing, etc.). He loves to run, and play rough & tumble. And he always has a smile on his face. When he gets hurt (which is more often than not – a side effect of rough & tumble play), he usually shrugs it off, picks himself off and moves on to the next challenge. He’s undaunted. He’s joyful. He loves to laugh – and does it often. He is absolutely tireless and runs at full-throttle.

Noah is also a lover. He worships his big sister Anna. Of course he loves his Mommy & Daddy, too. He even loves the often unlovable (me) and can make the hardest heart melt away with his sweet-boy charm. One of his hugs and sweet kisses can sooth the crankiest of beasts and turn a lousy day into a vague memory (I know this from personal experience).

Mostly Noah is just Noah. In two short years he’s managed to carve out a special place in our hearts that only he can fill. I can barely remember life before him and can’t imagine what life would be if he hadn’t been born. Fortunately I don’t have to. He’s my grandson and I’m his grandfather. And our souls are entwined.

And life is good…

Happy birthday Noah Boy! I’ll be home soon and we can share some birthday cake.