Being a dad can be the most rewarding thing in the world. There are those times when your heart is so full you don’t think it will hold anymore. This past weekend I had such a time. Although my fiftieth birthday is still a few days away we celebrated over the weekend because our three out-of-town kids were here over their Spring Break. We had a really wonderful dinner at home and retold some funny stories from the kids’ childhood. It was a lot of fun. After dinner our kids brought out some birthday gifts. Jacque (my wife) had told them to be creative, very personal and to not spend much money.

Jessica, our oldest gave me a beautiful scrap book that she had loaded up with stories from her life. On each page she captured a different phase of our life together. Some of the memories were fun and some even a little painful. Each of them express our lives together as father and daughter. Among many other things she said, “I would not be the person I am today without you.” In the back of the book she had written out the words to the song, I Love You, Lord. It’s a song I used to sing to her at bedtime when she was a little girl, and then when she got married I quoted it within the ceremony. It has always been a special song for the two of us. At the bottom of that back page was an envelope and inside was a CD. She and our son Ryan had recorded their own arrangement of the song the night before. Listening to it is just one of those moments for me. It will never get old — go ahead and listen.

Ryan, our fun loving, non-sentimental son (the one who engineered the recording of I Love You Lord, and played drums, keyboards and who knows what else) gave me a card and inside he had written words that I will cherish the rest of my life. While I’m unwilling to share all of them with the world I will proudly say that according to him, I am his hero and inspiration — it doesn’t get any better than that. Along with the card he gave me an N scale, toy train caboose to keep on my desk. He’s always loved trains, and he and I have had some great model train memories over the years. The caboose will remind me of him every time I see it.

My baby girl Aimee made me a beautiful card and mounted it in a floating frame. The card says,

Holds you when you cry, scolds you when you break the rules, shines with pride when you succeed, and has faith in you even when you fail. I love you. Happy 50th.

It summarizes what she knows about me. It will find a special place on my office wall.

Jacque and I are very blessed and proud parents. We’ve got three great kids of our own and two of them have married great kids. Throughout our adult lives people have asked us how we’ve raised such great kids, and while I think the reasons go far beyond this simplistic answer I usually say something like, we spent lots of time together. Much of it around the dinner table sharing the highlights (and sometimes lowlights) from our day, laughing and occasionally crying.

I could keep writing but there’s really no point. God has blessed us and I’m thankful. Turning fifty couldn’t be any better than this

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Have you ever been so shocked by something that you were practically frozen in place and didn’t know what to say. Yesterday after I got home from work Jacque and I were watching the news and catching up on the day when we heard the front door open. That seemed very odd because no one just walks into our house but our kids who live a few miles away and they nearly always call before they drop by. But sure enough when I turned to see who it was there was Jessica. I still didn’t think too much of it, although I wondered why she’d stopped by. Then the, Oops I Crapped My Pants moment: behind Jessica was Aimee, then Ryan and then Claire. All of them standing there with wide grins on their faces, having just flown in from Idaho to surprise Dad.

I was stunned and pretty much totally speechless because I was so shocked. I was full of questions that wouldn’t come out and I couldn’t put all of the pieces together. I was suddenly feeling older than the fifty years they’d come home to celebrate. After a long round of hugs, followed by more stunned silence I figured out my wife Jacque was in on the whole thing. In fact, she’d been planning it since before Christmas. I had no idea any of this was happening. Many other people knee but not me. In fact, most of the people I work with knew and they were able to keep quiet. Not a word, not a even a twitter!

As I went to bed last night I realized how blessed I was to have a wife who would plan such a great surprise — I could not have a better wife than Jacque. I also realized that I had five really amazing kids that I was very proud of and they were all with me to celebrate a milestone in life. Then I remembered Ryan and Claire were down the hallway in Ryan’s old bedroom, sleeping together under my roof for the first time since they got married in December, and Oops, I Crapped My Pants all over again! 

Welcome Home Kids — I love you!