My Family Newsletter entry, a day late

Hey Y’all, little (younger) Cody here

Seems like I always remember about writing to the family newsletter just exactly when I see Terry’s name in my inbox. My monthly “Doh!” experience.

I never remember in time, so I am writing late. Sue me.

First of all I want to thank Terry. Faithfulness is what allows one to persist in a loving effort that seems thankless and at times fruitless. Terry got but one letter this month, but still sent out the newsletter for everyone. That’s a witness of faithfulness if I ever saw one. So thanks for this, Terry.

I dunno, maybe a deadline-less medium might garner more contributions. Something where you could write whenever you remembered — like a blog maybe. The monthly deadline could be a digest of the months posts and an exhortation for us slackards to get something in when we can. And maybe our little newsletter is just in a slump.

But whatever the case, keep the faith, Terry. For all of us.

So I am sitting here in a hotel room in Atlanta. Heidi and I are at the Smartmarriages Conference finding programs to teach relationship skills to new parents and step families at our church. I’m looking for something with an angle that will get the usually recalcitrant male half of our target couples to marriage education without being literally dragged there by their wives.

Saw a forthcoming book title called “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.” Hmmmm…Interesting. Most marriage education is centered around talking about feelings. Which means asking a guy to go to a marriage class to improve his relationship with his wife is like asking him if he wants to bond with his wife by painting each others’ toenails and sharing a pint of Hagen Dazs. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of great marriage education out there, but there has to be a more guy-friendly way to approach this whole thing. And so I am in the hunt. Wish me luck.

I worked for the last few days here in the hotel room. I can do this because I took a job as a consultant for IBM and I am a mobile, at home employee. Functionally, I am somewhere between being a futurist and a process designer. I work closely with a global group of people only two of whom I have ever met. The particulars of the job are complicated and boring to explain. But what I can say is that I’m still adjusting to the whole change in life that the new job has brought about.

In fact our family is still reeling from a bunch of changes all at once, my job, Heidi’s job, the start of summer (always traumatic when the kids suddenly are home all. day. long.), and my father-in-law’s death in April. Rick died the way he wanted to and he is certainly in a better place, but we are still discovering the various ways in which we’ll miss him. One of the main ways is that he used to be the primary caregiver for his wife who has dementia and now that role has fallen to Heidi, co-starring yours truly. We are still figuring out which end is up.

The kids are enjoying summer. Aaron is enjoying karate and swimming. Gracie enjoys ballet lessons and swimming. Olivia enjoys life in general and jumping into the water and climbing on daddy. Olivia, I do believe, has replaced Hannah as our loudest child ever. That’s partially because Hannah has quit making the effort. Even the great ones have to retire. Hannah, for her part so far, is sleeping this summer as if the school year were a big turkey dinner chased by a large slice of pie a la mode. But that is all changing as she gets more involved with the summer church activities that are kicking in. That and she has a posse that she hangs out with. She’s doing all that stuff kids used to do with their summers back before they were so overprogrammed and overscheduled. More power to her.

Speaking of overscheduled, I hardly ever have time to make anything out of trash anymore, or paint on cardboard, or write poetry. I did however have the time to make my nephew a graduation present out of duct tape. I was going for the title of Eccentric Uncle. Which I won handily, thank you. But I have not regained the balance in my life that lets me live at the level of quirk to which I have become accustomed.

And that, teacher, is why I am turning in my newsletter contribution a day after the newsletter came out. I hope you all do the same.

Hope all y’all are doing well. Please respond. And help Terry by breathing some life back into the family newsletter.

Little (younger) Cody

Coffee and a slice of Prayer

After one and a half hours of quiet work on a pile of customer feedback data, trying to conjure a common voice out of hundreds of comments. I stand up, go down the hall to shave, pour a cup of coffee, and close the door behind me to prepare for a conference call. I am in bare feet and shorts. As I start to dial, I catch a glimpse of the cover of my new book — Simple Ways To Pray.

And it comes to me in that moment to be grateful. Grateful for the silence, for the space to be productive, for the coffee, for a close shave during a break at “work”, for the stressful, frustrating, and sometimes rewarding road that has led me from a cube farm job to a breathlessly paced home office job in a different industry. Grateful for IM Chat and for speaker phones that punctuate the loneliness of being shut in a room all day. Grateful for this moment.

Grateful. Whether I feel like it or not. That is a simple way to pray — seek gratefulness for the very moment.

Poem: Quiet and Silence

“I Realized I Was Happy and It Scared Me”

Something had to have been here before me
for here to be here, so sometimes
I say I’d like a little silence,

to see if I can discover what it was,
but what I really want is quiet, in which
you hear just a few things

better, which is not silence,
in which you hear one thing
Again and again and again

and it’s not even there.

— Rich Ives