My wife and I were putting our girls, Nola(8) and Violet(6), to bed recently and they asked us to tell them a story from our childhood. Preferably an embarrassing one, they added. They must have been in the mood for laughter—like always—and humiliation at the expense of their parents was bound to be low hanging fruit. Also, they may have picked up the art of bedtime-stalling. I regaled them with a short tale about mistaking a girl’s gender in the third grade, having her shockingly correct me, and then wishing I was dead. Not an amazing story but they laughed nonetheless.
The next night I tucked them in and was asked to hunt for Nola’s book light, left somewhere in the basement, so she could read a bit. Because they never seem to remember these things before they get under the blankets. I reached the end of the hallway when I heard Violet yell from her top bunk, “When you get back, we want you to tell us a story about your embarrassing life!”
I paused for a moment. My sweet daughter had never burned me so thoroughly before. I’m pretty sure I knew what she meant to say. Though instead, she ended up implying that all thirty-four of my years have culminated into a hilariously lame existence. And that I’m basically the cargo jean shorts of living. It was an insult on par with a primetime sitcom. She didn’t mean to imply that—I think—but I respect her for it anyway.
If she was saying that my life was a categorical joke, I’d have some arguments to the contrary. The most recent being that I just bought her a new house. I can’t be that much of a loser.
And no, it’s not in Serbia.
Three months ago life was simple. We trucked along. Busy with work, children, and not packing up all our belongings. Up until then I was fully prepared to host four high school graduation parties in our backyard. Our house is actually quite small for six people. Four of which are currently a fraction of their growth potential. But I don’t care, and neither does my wife. In fact not long ago she toyed with the idea of cramming us all into one of those tiny homes, a living space the size and layout of Snoopy’s doghouse. Basically a not-so-large-single room and a toilet, that may double as a sink…and also a living room chair. “Simple living!” she extolled. But I felt the idea of spending every waking minute in the middle of a claustrophobic, child-sized mosh pit would drive me to madness. Our current house is small, but “big enough”. Why would we move?
We live simple, and don’t mind cozy. We have great neighbors, reside not far from our babysitt— I mean, parents, and love the area we’re in. With all of that, we don’t care about the size of our home. We don’t care at all.
Or so I thought we thought.
Apparently the same-page we were on split in half at some point, and my wife took those principles and chucked them out our tiny window. She got the house hunting bug, and soon after, Zillow saw a major spike in Omaha browsing activity. Often when Charity gets bugs I use the doctor preferred method of treating it: Humor her interest, while ignoring any commitment, until the whole thing dies.
It’s worked before. But this bug was of a much hardier strain.
Not something I would have guessed for 2017 but the ball is rolling and will come to a halt this weekend when we transfer all our possessions to our new four-walls. This week hasn’t been stressful at all.
We like our new house…I think. We’ve only spent about thirty total minutes inside it. With the seller’s market as crazy as it is you basically have to arrive at a showing, ready to make an offer on a house you’ve only glanced at. Any hesitation, any time to think, and it’ll be gone. We had a handful of listings slip through our fingers because we decided to do something completely ridiculous like “sleep on it”. Something completely ridiculous like have a five-minute discussion about it. Then boom! Gone. Sniped like a late-90’s eBay auction.
I liken this current market to an evening of speed dating. Then at some point saying, “You know what? I’m getting a good vibe from you #12. I’m ready to commit most of my life to you. Will you marry me?”
“But we just met,” they reply.
“No worries. We’ve got the next thirty years to figure out if this was a good decision or not.”
I’m a thinker. I’m not into rushed commitments—as evidenced by how long I walk up and down the cereal aisle at the grocery store. I need time to process. The current pace of home-buying feels like exiting a vehicle while rocketing down the interstate. Somersaulting head over heels as your kids watch helplessly out the back window, and your daughter points and says, “See. Embarrassing life.”
Another argument against Violet’s poor take on my existence, is that Charity and I are headed to Serbia this summer. As in the country.
One person I told thought I said “Syria” and about passed out. Serbia is very much a different place.
The church my wife and I are a part of have three campuses in the Omaha metro area, and a campus in Novi Sad and Belgrade, Serbia. Because that’s just down the street right?
This summer we’ll be part of ten musicians and all-around fantastic people that are heading over to host a music camp, in Novi Sad, for the children in the surrounding area. We will show them how to play instruments, how to play together as a band, and more importantly, invest in their lives. It will be a week of fun and learning, and if those children leave with anything, it will be that they know they are valuable and they are loved.
We will also play a concert while the humongous Exit Festival is going on, to help promote the Novi Sad and Belgrade campuses. The festival drew almost 200,000 people last year, and we’ll have a tent close by where we’ll play a set of cover songs derived from the Top 40. That’s right, not a church tune in sight. If you ever wanted to hear Charity belt out Katy Perry’s “Firework”, and the Balkans are on your way, feel free to stop by.
We are excited. Mostly because it will feel like an extended, international date as we are leaving our kids in the states. It will be the most carefree date we’ve ever had. Because there is literally nothing we can do for them. Sounds like utter heaven. My wife and I could be building a hospital out of hand-formed and fired clay bricks and, sans children, it would still be considered a date.
I’ve never been out of the country before. Finally got to experience what it’s like to regret your passport picture. I should’ve worn a shirt and a tie; tried to look smooth instead of a tired, distracted dad that somehow was able to corral his four children into the passport office without uncontrollably swearing at the top of his lungs. It’s a good thing I only have to wait ten years for another shot at it.
We are looking forward to this trip and the part we’ll play in the lives of the people over there, but it won’t be free. We are currently raising funds for plane tickets and expenses, which is a blast. Asking for money is one of our favorite things in the world—I wish there was punctuation for sarcasm.
We don’t mind earning money though—not sarcasm.
So in May and June we are offering a series of House Concerts. Gather your friends, family, neighbors, lifegroup, coworkers, etc. and Charity and I will come to you and provide the entertainment. Throw a party in your living room, BBQ on your deck, bust out the wine and cheese, hang at the park; indoor or outdoor we’ll bring the appropriate gear and whisk you all on a journey of song guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, and feel the feels—and if you don’t, you can have your deposit back, which is $0.
All we’ll ask for are free-will donations (tax deductible) to our trip from those attending.
Our plane takes off June 28th. So if you’re wanting to host a house concert let us know soon if you’re interested. There are only so many evenings/weekends between now and then. If you don’t have our contact info click here to send us a message.
If you want to just give towards our trip, because you are wonderful people who love us dearly, you can do so here. If you scroll down Charity and I are both listed separately under “Trip Attendee”, so follow your heart on who to give to. If I beat Charity to our goal I would not be disappointed, and would reserve a crisp high-five for anyone that helped make that happen.
Or if you wanted to float us some cold hard cash or a check, in a cool, nonchalant, spy-handshake swap, we’d be down for that too.
(Be sure to make the check out to “Lifegate” if you want a tax deduction for it.)
We appreciate you considering helping us out, either by house concert, online, or spy-handshake. We really do know the best people.
I’m thinking that if I was able to knock out this fundraising, move into a new house, and skip across the pond to invest in the lives of Serbian children, then Violet—intentional or not—would have to agree that the whole of my life is no longer embarrassing.
And that’s all I really want from her.
At least until she turns thirteen. I hear all bets are off at that point.