Camping With Captain America

We kissed his little brother good night,

ate our chicken sticks and juice,

and practiced writing our name…along with drawing jets, rocket-ships, and volnados (mix between a volcano and tornado)

Last night I camped out with a cowboy, a Power Ranger, and Captain America, all perfectly wrapped up in one little four year old boy’s body.

We pitched the tiny red tent in the darkened living room, my head resting on a Thomas the Train pillow as the lower half of my body was exposed to the harsh winds of a ceiling fan. An assortment of monster trucks and race cars protected the perimeter. We shot a snake and a werewolf with a bubble blowing handgun.

Evenings like this go too fast. This freckle faced, mama’s brown eyes, bundle of wonder will be a pimple faced hairy teen tomorrow. The next day he’ll be a dashing young man, moving out and moving on to his own harrowing journey of limitless possibilities.

A journey into a real world that needs a real hero to rise up and conquer real werewolves and snakes, especially those that lie latent within.

Maybe one day a nurse will hand him his own beautiful crying child, wet and wrapped in hospital blankets; and at that moment he’ll be altogether convinced of his own limits as a man and father, and altogether grateful for a heavenly Father that cares for this child infinitely more than he ever could.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to thank a great Father who inexplicably continues to give the gift of fatherhood to fallen men like me.

Bryan Daniels

“Special Care For Boys”-Papa’s Poem

My Papa was a giant of a man to me. Not in a physical sense by any means; by the time I was in high school I probably had 7 inches and 60 pounds on him. He was large man in a more real sense, which measures a man’s presence in a room, his impressions on other people.

My grandfather, Sheldon Shepler, was a Marine during WWII. He had disturbing firsthand knowledge of Iwo Jima, and rarely shared what that “hell on earth” was like from the perspective of a teenage boy from Peoria, Illinois. After his short military career his main vocation was working for the prison system teaching inmates job skills for their re-entrance into society. He was an armchair politician and a consummate debater, a hobby he enjoyed deeply as the only liberal in our family. He was a proponent of tough love, scathing humor, and calling it like he saw it. The grandkids were usually both endeared and intimidated by him. Papa could be both a lighthearted jokester and grumpy old man in the same conversation. 

But that rusty old veneer had a soft spot or two.

He loved music. He taught himself the keyboard late in life and he was always the driving force behind impromptu family Christmas carol sessions. In the waning hospice days of his life, old-time hymns from Andy Griffith kept his finger whirling to the beat.

He loved animals. It’s not a stretch to say he preferred dogs over people. His two canine companions, Bucky and Nicky, were regulars at the breakfast table whether you liked it or not.

And apparently, he was also known to pen a poem or two. 

Some time after the death of my grandparents my mom found a typewritten poem on faded paper entitled, “Special Care For Boys.” The subject was likely in reference to my Uncle David. Having two sons of my own now this poem resonates with me. I especially see these unencumbered boyhood attributes in my nearly three-year old, Josiah:

Special Care For Boys

I’m sure there are special Angels on earth to care for little boys,

Perhaps Cherubim and Seraphim who love their ways and noise;

Who know the thrill and pleasure of sliding down roofs and trees,

The lure of bugs, frogs and worms and mad buzz of bottled bees;

I’m sure this special Angel will bring our cowboys through,

Keep cops and robbers from sad grief they manage to get into;

Yes, I’m sure these special watchers are included in God’s great plan,

If there were no special watchers no boy would grow to be a man.

Sheldon Shepler

Unto Us a Child is (about to be) Born…and WWE cage matches…

This coming up Monday (March 14th) Friday (March 11th) our little family will be welcoming a new addition to the world: Gideon Bryce Daniels will be induced at 4 AM (!) at Gulf Coast Medical where he will meet his two proud parents and one little unsuspecting brother face to face for the first time. We are both excited about the new baby boy God has entrusted us with as His stewards. Lately, Jessica has been doing the flight of the bumblebee in the frenetic process of renovating our backroom to Josiah’s new room. The ever relentless “nesting” phase has officially kicked in full force for my wife.

In light of this I have an announcement to make:   

I will try to give my undivided devotion for the next couple weeks to my wife, two sons, and their collective health (emotional, physical and spiritual). I know young families are the most tender, and a father’s special concern to his home’s well being is his primary responsibility behind serving God.

In the interest of my sanity (and also my wife’s), I will be attempting to keep my online activity to a minimum. That means a sabbatical for an indefinite period of time from writing new blogs. Fortunately, thanks to “Enabled by God,” I do have some decent blog material saved up so this site will continue to churn out some time honored pieces every few days. One of the innovative features of blogs nowadays is the ability to schedule posts so that you can be away from your computer and still maintain an active blog.

I assure you, if there is a slight lag to my response time via Facebook or blogging it’s not because I’m ignoring you.

So when life settles down a bit and routine is re-established I look forward to ranting again about Charlie Sheen, Westboro Baptist Church, the Cam Newton cult or the speeding turds in my neighborhood. Until then I got a wife who deserves the full attention of her husband, a little infant boy who will need some serious kisses, and a near three year old who will be primed for a daily WWE cage match.

God bless you all.

Bryan Daniels

The Best Day Ever (Almost)

Yesterday was almost the best day ever.

Here are my three reasons. I’ll start with the trivialities first and then work my way up the ladder of importance.

1. Mosley football won. No, more accurately, we dominated. We beat Tallahassee Rickards 24-0 for our homecoming game. Special teams and D-line had a great game, both of which I have a particularly vested coaching interest in. We have been on a three game losing skid against flat out bigger and talented teams but our kids have been resilient. The shutout was huge for the defense because after starting the season solid the last three teams we have played have hung an average of 46 points on us.

We improved to 5-3 (6-3 including kickoff classic) on the season and we have a decent chance to go 7-3 and win the county over arch rival Arnold.

2. God healed me. Around second period my stomach had become a contentious wad of knots and churnings. It felt like the beginnings of a similar 12 hour episode of less than a year ago that left me light headed and violently dry heaving. I saw it fit to pray to God for a few minutes specifically for the healing of any sickness that was coming upon me. I am not saying I felt a lightning bolt hit my bowels or some warm glow come over me, but I do know after a couple minutes the nausea had completely subsided. So much so I was able to fully partake in “Chicken Thursday” in the cafeteria right afterwards (trust me, “Chicken Thursday” is the one day you don’t want to miss).

You can either chalk it up as the God given ability of our body to heal itself, or as a unique supernatural instantaneous healing from the hand of God. I don’t care. I just know God healed me. The importance of this healing is highlighted by #3.

3. We are having a baby boy! Yes, by all accounts a healthy baby boy. Right after school ended yesterday I had a doctor appointment with my beautiful pregnant wife, Jessica, to find out the sex of our child. A nasty stomach bug would have kept me from that milestone moment. With our two year old, Josiah, sitting in my lap we discovered together as a family he was going to be a big brother.

All doubt was was done away with when Dr. Jackson pointed to a spot on the 2D image and said, “Yep, there’s the ‘turtle’!” I guess “turtle” is medical jargon for baby boyhood.

Gideon will be his name.

Do you see the turtle?

My wife will be outnumbered 3 to 1 in the testosterone department. It’s a good thing she likes boys. I look forward to adding another tag team wrestling partner to our Saturday morning octagon (bed) free for alls.

God has been extremely gracious to us as a family, and His mercies truly are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).

So it was a great day, indeed.

Of course, every silver lining has a touch of grey. After arriving at Chili’s late last night for our weekly post game “coaches meeting” I was met with a bit of bad news. My beloved Florida State Seminoles had just lost to NC State 28-24 in the waning seconds with a freak fumble on the goal line. Oh well, I guess I won’t be watching that game on Tivo after all.

I’m sure it’s the least of his worries, but because of a poor play action fake, Mr. Christian Ponder had kept me from celebrating the hands down best day ever. : )

God bless!

Bryan Daniels