Uncle Jesse The Sheepdog

Uncle Jesse and Lincoln

Uncle Jesse and Lincoln

Dear Lincoln,

It won’t be long and your Uncle Jesse and Aunt Carlee will be welcoming your little cousin into the world so I thought I would tell you why I call your Uncle Jesse a sheepdog.

On November 24, 1997 William J. Bennett, in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy said,

“Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures that can only hurt one another by accident. We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people, not capable of hurting each other except by accident or under extreme provocation. 

They are sheep. 

Then there are the wolves that feed on the sheep without mercy. Do you believe there are wolves out there that will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. 
There is no safety in denial. 

Then there are sheepdogs and I’m a sheepdog.

I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf. If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep.
If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive psychopath, a wolf. 

But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the uncharted path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

Lincoln, your Uncle Jesse is a sheepdog in the United States Army.  He has been in the service for 8 years and has done tours of service several times in Iraq and Afghanistan, each time he has been in the center of the action and has put his life in harms way daily while there.  Your Uncle Jesse has received several bronze stars and numerous others commendations for his actions.  All of these medals and awards lay in a drawer, not framed on a wall.  Uncle Jesse doesn’t talk about what he does, nor does he want accolades, he simply says, “I’m just doing my job”.  I hope you understand that not everyone can do the job that your Uncle Jesse has been called to do.  It takes a special person, a sheepdog.

Lincoln, your Uncle Jesse is a Sheepdog and he loves you very much and is going to be an amazing father.  We are all blessed that he is part of our family and I am very proud to call him son.

Until next time little man, I love you, Puppa.

I Love My Puppy!

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Dear Lincoln,

It’s late but I wanted to quickly post this photo of you and your “little” puppy.  You two love each other so much.  It’s amazing to watch how you interact with all animals.  You truly have a big heart when it comes to any animal you see.

I’ll write again soon, I love you Lincoln, Puppa

‘Make a Moment’ It’s Parents Week!

Dear Lincoln,

This week is ‘Parents Week” in the UK and the theme is ‘Make a Moment’ and I love the idea of making a moment to spend time with my daughters. These moments are precious and so quickly gone. I’ll always regret not taking more moments to enjoy looking at life through your mommas and Aunt Carlees eyes. Being a parent is the most wonderful and awesome responsibility. ‘Make a Moment’ reminds all of us, as we get older, more serious and less spontaneous, that children will be our teachers if we let them – they’ll teach us how to play, to laugh and be a child again.

With all the extra pressures modern parents face, it can be difficult to find the time that children really need. A parent being there for thier children isn’t about paying for expensive toys or day trips. It’s about the time and attention the parent gives. Whether it’s five minutes, half an hour, or longer, sharing a moment is what it’s all about – letting the child know that you love them and taking a moment to give them your full attention, whatever you’re up to at the time.  Your momma is great at spending time with you and showing you that you are loved a lot. “All the way to the moon and back”

“Evidence shows that children most value the simplest moments they spend together with their parents. Time costs nothing yet can make the most significant difference to our children’s development and overall well-being.” Professor Tanya Byron, childcare expert and FPI charity ambassador

Last week I got to spend time with your Aunt Carlee in Georgia and it was wonderful.  This week your momma and I have plans to spend Friday with you out in the country taking some fall portraits, visiting Barnes & Nobles, and lunch outside at the Ann Arbor Brewing Company.  Until then I know that your momma and you have plans of your own to enjoy each others company and ‘Make a Moment’ that will be Lenge….’wait for it’…..DARY!!

The Bishop of Oxford the Rt Revd John Pritchard has written a prayer for Parents’ Week encouraging parents to slow down and take more time with children in their care.

* Gracious God

thank you for the privilege and pleasure of children,

Thank you for what they represent for both the present and the future

and what they give us as they explore life and make their discoveries.

Help us to slow down, to pause and make a moment,

Help us to share their world and enjoy their wonder.

Help us to walk at their speed, and find that it’s your speed,

And so lead us together into life and joy,

in the company of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Lord
Amen*

I love you little man, Puppa

5 Fears Of Being A Father

My day-to-day activities don’t revolve around fear, but I am aware of the fragile nature of life.  I maintain a healthy respect for life and all the dangers that lurk around us everyday.  When I became a father, my responsibilities changed more than I could have ever imagined.  And with that responsibility came a great sense of accomplishment and pride. What scares me the most are things that can take that away.

Loss Of A Child

To this day, nothing in this world scares me more than the thought of losing one of my daughters.  I could not imagine living in a world without the amazing spirit’s of my daughters. They make my days brighter in every way imaginable. Without them, my world would have no inspiration, love or sunshine.  Everyday I am thankful because I am undeserving of such  beautiful and healthy daughter’s. I know there are many parents and children out there that are not so lucky. They battle life and loss to a degree that I can’t imagine and for that, they are much stronger than me. My heart goes out to any parent that has had to suffer the loss of a child.

Loss Of My Wife

Next to losing one of my children, losing my wife is one of my biggest fears. I never questioned my ability to raise my daughters alone, but losing my wife, their mother, would be devastating.  It would have affected the way I would be as a man and as a father. I feel very strongly about kids being raised in a house with a mom and a dad and my wife provides so much balance in my life and in my daughter’s life.  I couldn’t bear to see my children grow up without their mother. I couldn’t bear to see my grand children grow up without their grandmother.

Loss Of Interaction

There is nothing more magical in this world than being part of a child’s world and helping them grow up. When I was with one of my daughter’s and she was figuring out something for the first time or just having a good time, I would be beside myself with happiness. It became such a part of my daily routine that I couldn’t imagine not being there as she grows up.  Can you imagine never seeing your children open another Christmas present? learn to ride a bike? ace a test? graduate high school? get married?  I know some loss is inevitable as kids grow older and my role as father will change over time. Everyday when I dropped off my daughter’s at school I couldn’t help but think “What if I lose all this?”

Loss Of Love

I want my daughter’s to call me 20 years from now and still love their dad that same way they do now — Okay, they don’t love me as much as they love their mom but I don’t want to give them a reason not to love me.  My heart melts every time one of my daughter’s give me a hug or when they ask me to help them with something. I never want to lose that! I never want to give them a reason to never need or love their dad. I think this is another thing that dads have to work on.  Just like we do with our wives, we need to build our relationships with our children. We need to learn what they love, learn their fears and learn their dreams.

Loss Of My Self

People change…we all change. I don’t expect to be the exact same person 20 years from now as I am today. What scares me is the thought of loosing my sense of responsibility as a father to my daughter’s. If I lose my self then who will they turn to in times of need and hardship?  I don’t want to become apathetic about being a father. I never want to give up trying to become a better father for my daughter’s.

I’m not sure WHY you might give up trying to be a father – but that’s what scares me.

God’s Wings

A little something to put things in perspective…

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park , forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage.  One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesque on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick.  When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast …because she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live.

 ‘He will cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you will find refuge.’ (Psalm 91:4)

Called Home to Heaven

Dear Lincoln,
Your momma recently reminded me that it’s been a while since I have written to you and that it was time that I get back to it.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, I’ve jotted down stuff in one of my many notebooks, I just haven’t been on the computer very much in the last few months.  As I explained to you before sometimes life gets hectic and you have to stop and re-examine your priorities in life.

At the beginning of May your Nana’s daddy, Great Grandpa Buck’s health started to decline.  Throughout the past few years he has endured more than one heart surgery, bone spur surgery on his spine, and most recently a battle with cancer.  So priorities change, it was more important to me, us, to spend as much time possible with great grandpa Buck than be on a computer.  We traveled up north to visit every chance we got, your Nana sometimes spent long periods of time at great grandpa’s to take care of him, she loves her daddy so much and she wanted to be there for him just like he has been there for her.

It still amazes us that as weak as he became, it didn’t stop him from playing with you.  You both made each other laugh and smile.  I want you to know how much he loved you.  He took great pride in knowing that you were his great grandson and that you were being raised by an amazing momma.  A lot of who your momma is comes directly from the time she spent with great grandpa.  He had a big influence on her life.

Every time great grandpa had to go to the hospital, you were there to visit.  Something he treasured very much.  When great grandpa returned home the decision was made that it was time for him to have Hospice care, not an easy decision to make.   Let me explain what Hospice care is all about.  Hospice is a philosophy of care. The hospice philosophy or viewpoint accepts death as the final stage of life. The goal of hospice is to help patients live their last days as alert and pain-free as possible. Hospice nurses try to manage symptoms so that a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. They treat the person rather than the disease; they focus on quality rather than length of life. Hospice care is family-centered — it includes the patient and the family in making decisions.  Great grandpa’s nurse Carrie was nothing short of incredible, to your great grandpa and the entire family she was simple a blessing from God.

We were warned that as great grandpa’s time of passing drew close he may experience a great day or two and that we should not take that as a sign of him getting better, but rather that his time with us was close to ending.  Those 2 days came on June 16th and 17th of 2012.  You, Nana, and your momma went to visit great grandpa Buck that weekend and it was a great time for all of you.  Great grandpa had been using a wheelchair for awhile, but on this weekend he slipped out of the wheelchair and got on the floor and played with you.  You so enjoyed playing with him your momma told me, and so did he.  We went back and visited the next weekend, the 23rd and 24th, and although he played with you in the kitchen, him in his wheelchair and you sitting on the little kitchen table, we could tell that he was struggling and we had to accept the fact that the end was nearing though no one wanted to say it.

Three days later at 2:30am of Wednesday June 27th, your Aunt Kathy called Nana and said that great grandpa was being taken to the hospital and we needed to come now.  Your Nana and I told your momma that we were heading up north and that we would call as soon as we knew something.  The drive is usually 2 1/2 hours but I needed to get your Nana there as quick as possible to be with her daddy so that she could say her goodbye.  I don’t approve of speeding, you should never do this, remember that, but this time I broke my rule.  It wasn’t long after we got to the hospital that great grandpa slipped into a coma.  That afternoon you and your momma arrived and you were able to come into the room.  I want you to know that he was not in pain, the staff did everything possible to make sure that he was comfortable.

The next day was June 28th, Nana and my 32nd wedding anniversary.  At noon while the rest of the family was down the hall, your Nana and one of the hospice nurse’s washed great grandpa up and freshened up his bed.  As they finished, with Nana at his side your great grandpa passed away.  We entered the room just after he had passed and only minutes later you and your momma walked in.  While everyone was crying and saying goodbye to great grandpa, when your momma came to the bedside with you, you looked down at great grandpa, smiled, and reached out to go to him.  In your own way you said goodbye to great grandpa.  For the next few days with family all around we celebrated great grandpa’s life.  We cried, we laughed, we told stories, we even sang.  Although we lost someone we dearly loved, it’s important that we rejoice in the time we had together.

Over the next month we were busy helping great grandma Boo get things in order and odd jobs around her house.  Then on August 7th I got a call from my dad, great grandpa Jim, letting me know that great great grandma Laurel had passed away, she was 105.  You, your momma and I had just been up north to visit just a few days earlier and her passing was unexpected.

So as I stated at the beginning of this letter, life has been a little hectic and I promise I will write more.  I hope as you grow you will learn that the time you spend with the ones you love far out weigh anything else you will do.  And that is why I have stayed away from the computer, I have been spending time with you.  You will always have my undivided attention and love.

We did receive some exciting news in the midst of all this, you have a new cousin on the way, Uncle Jesse and Aunt Carlee are expecting their first baby next March 1, 2013.  We found out on June 30th and if it’s a boy they already have a name picked out, Oscar James Pierce, named after great grandpa Buck.

I know I went on a little long this time so I’ll draw this one to a close with one request.  Although your new cousin will be living in Georgia and you in Michigan, stay close.  Family is very important and as close as your Aunt Carlee and your momma are I can foresee you and your cousin having a lot of great adventures together.

As always little man, I love you so much, Puppa