Sunday, August 25, 2013


We are trying to help Thomas learn to count.  So we count an amazing amount of things, how many colors he has, how many blocks he has, how many apple slices he has, and on and on and on.  At one point though he would only say three numbers.  I would start out Onnne...  He would chime in Woooon.  I would say Twooo...  He would stay silent.  I would say Threeee...  He would smile and say Hureeee.  (Three was his favorite number.  And if all else failed, he would say three.)  I would say Foooour...  He would sit there.  (Oh yeah, and he never said an even number.  Just three odd ones.)  I would say Fiiiiiive...  He would parrot Fyv.  I would go on with Ssssiiixxx, Ssseevvveen, Aaaaate, Nnniiiiinnnee, & Teeeeennn.  Thomas would look at me as if I had started to speak Klingon, or at least French.  So Tiff and I talked about how Thomas only knew three numbers right now, and we were happy that he at least put them in the correct order when he said them, even if he skipped a few.

One night it was late and Thomas had begun the ever so subtle way of saying he was tired by beginning to throw things.  I asked him, "Do you wanna go night-night?"
"No," as he rubbed his eyes.
"I will make you a wager...  If Daddy says a higher number than you, it is bed time.  If you say a higher number, then it won't be bed time."  He seemed to nod in agreement.  If your 21 month old ever agrees to take a bet with you, be afraid.  I was unaware of this, and thought I had used a calm enough voice to get him to agree with me.  I thought for a split second and came up with Seven.  The next number in the string of numbers he knows, but not one I had ever heard him say.  So I utter, "Seven," and smile thinking I had outsmarted my son.
"Eight Nine," he chirps up, still looking down.
Tiff chuckles in the kitchen.  "Did he just say Eight Nine," I ask with incredulity.
"I think so," she says with a smile obvious in her voice.
I have lost control of the slam dunk situation.  "Seeeven," I say again, more questioning in my voice this time.
"Eight Nine," he says almost bored with the continuation of this game.

After a few moments of be acknowledging that I had been bested by my son (including kisses and smiles and hugs), I picked him up and put him to bed.  The win still did not give me the rest he needed.  I was both proud and amazed at my son.  Had he hidden this knowledge from us?  Had he learned it that day?  Was it divine inspiration?  I cannot say.  He first went back to only knowing One, Three, & Five.  Now he has added Two, but he does not like One at all anymore.  And Eight & Nine... Right out.

But how many times have I played a similar game with people.  Let me only count on what I know to be true.  Let my beliefs and convictions be immutable, so that others must conform to them.  If something falls outside of that, then something is wrong with them...
How many times have I gambled with God?  God if I can do this, then I should not have to do that or the other.
Or how many times have I sold God short?  God you really don't know what is going on, so I need to be in the lead on this one.
Amazingly I think God wins more of those bets than I do, and God knows a lot more than I want to give credit for.
But just as amazingly, God usually rebukes and teaches with a small voice, a smile, and a laugh.  Even the small voice of a bored child, my own smile, and the laugh from an amazing wife.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I do not have a green thumb.  I have a green cuticle at best.  But I try.  Thomas tries with me.  When it is time to water the garden, Thomas has to get his own little watering can.  He knows where it is kept, and either Tiff or I have to fill it so he can water on his own.  He has his own spade when we plant (and if he can steal it one of ours as well).  He wants to be close when we pull veggies off, and gets mad if he can't help bring in the (meager) harvest.
Thomas should grow up with more of an ability to get more out of the ground than I have since he is learning about it earlier.  And for me it is an hobby, for him (for now at least) it is a love.  It is not a should, it is a want.  He does not love gardening for the love of gardening, he loves it for the love of me.  He wants to be close to me, doing what I do, so he loves the work.  Now how and why my son loves me that dearly, I can not say.  Even my wife and my mom don't love me that much.  And I do not think that his love will remain steadfast as he grows.  But I will continue to work with him so that I continue to love him more and more even if/when his love wanes.
In faith we should do what God does out of love.  We should do it for a want not a need.  Most of the time we go through the workings of faith and deeds out of a requirement.  We know we should pray.  We know we should give mercy.  We know God wants us to do whatever it is we really don't want to do.  But love is a much better reason.  First we do it out of love of God.  We go where God is to be close.  We do not go out of love for the prayer, the mercy or whatever.  We are madly in love with God and just to be close to the holy fills us with joy and pride.  Eventually, hopefully, we love the prayer, the mercy, and the others because we have mimicked the love we saw in God so much that it has grown in us.
But the good news is that even if our love in God cools or fades a bit, God comes to us.  Filling the void not with pain or coldness, but with love and grace.  I know I am not the greatest dad, but hopefully I learn from a wonderful Father.

Letting Go

Thomas loves to climb, and he loves to be like Daddy.  So one of the first things he climbed into was the chair I sit in for dinner.  Tiff, Thomas & I eat dinner together almost every night, and most nights we are sitting around the table near our kitchen.
Thomas had climbed up and sat down at the table, but decided pretty quickly that was not the place he wanted to be.  So he started to work his way down.  He grabbed onto an edge of the chair to shimmy his way down, and he got stuck.  His legs dangled just an inch from the floor, but they would not reach.  He squirmed to try to feel secure.  Then the greatest/worst groan came from him, "Dada!  Dada!"
It fills you simultaneously with love and dread.  I had watched the entire thing, and knew what was going on.  But the cry still makes you stand on end.
I tried to respond in a calm voice, "Just let go."  The flailing on the chair got worse not better, and the grip on the chair tightened.  "Thomas, just let go.  Don't you trust Daddy," I told him as I started to draw close to him.  No answer came, but for a tighter grip.  The more I tried to console him, the less he was going to be consoled.  Finally I reached the chair, and his hands loosened long enough to trade the edge of the chair for two fingers.  I eased him back the inch so his feet were on terra firma and he let go.  All crying stopped, and he was happy again.
Did anything really change when I moved him an inch?  In reality, very little, but in Thomas' world everything changed.  He went from danger & fear to safety & faith.  Could he have found the same results on his own?  He could have.  Could he have found the same results listening to me?  Absolutely.  But he did not.  He waited and stalled.  The safety of knowing where he was, even though he was scared was easier than letting go.  How often do we do that?  How often do we stay where we are, even though it is not where we want to be simply because it is safer or easier than letting go?  How many times have we heard God speak to us, and waited, waited for something more tangible to drop us to safety?  I will say I have done that more times that I would like to admit.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thomas Isaac

I have started writing again.  Mostly it is due to the fact I have learned so much from my now 21 month old son.  More than I would have thought, and a lot more than I wanted to.  But most of all he has taught me a lot about how God deals with me/all of us.  But before I get to that, I think you should know a little about Thomas.

Tiffany and I were having trouble conceiving.  Lots of trouble.  We were at the point in our lives where the easy pregnancy methods, and the not so easy methods, and the first few rounds of help from doctors did not work.  It is strange, but the price for in vitro and local adoption are both around $10K.  I do not know about you, but for us that is real money... a LOT of real money.  We decided to start saving and we would decide what to try when as we went.  I know I was burned out from trying to have a baby, and the Dr visits, and the stress, and the waiting, and the stress, and the tests, and the deposits, and did I mention the stress.

Then one day in February Tiff told me that she had taken a test that day and it said she was pregnant.  She took another before dinner cuz I was in disbelief.  Then another after we got home.  Neither of us could believe it.  These little sticks were telling us we were going to have a baby.

After the first shock wore off (I needed an angel telling me, "Do not be afraid...") and other things were taken care of, we had to think of a name.  I had long wanted to name a son Charles Isaac.  My grandfathers were Charles & Claus.  And Isaac for the patriarch of the Bible and Yitzhak Rabin.  I told Tiff I could call him El Cid...  That was the end of that name.  After a long process we agreed on Thomas Isaac Decker.  Thomas the disciple and I got to keep Isaac.  It seemed even more appropriate since we felt a little like Abraham and Sarah, and Thomas never stops giving us laughter.

Occasionally I wonder if we named him backwards...  Do names have any power of the individual...  Thomas was best known for being the doubting disciple.  Do we normally put doubt before laughter.  Is it necessary to have doubt of something before you can laugh with joy in it arrival?  Abraham and Sarah laughed due to their doubt.  Is laughter part of God's plan for breaking through the doubt we have?