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The Adventure of a Lifetime

This week, I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Colorado with a few friends. Since I have been married to Mariah (almost 13 years), I have not gone on many trips (if any) like this. I believe that most of the trips I have taken without Mariah have been related to my work.

The main point of our trip was to snow mobile and dog sled. We went snow mobiling at a place called Good Times Adventures and dog sledding at a place called Alpine Adventures. While on the trip, I began to think that this is certainly an adventure I never thought I would do and one that I don’t think I will never forget. We had great tour guides who took us on fantastic adventures. I didn’t know exactly what to expect and was excited about the experience. As you can imagine, it ended up being amazing, everything I expected, and definitely something I will always cherish.

Before each tour we had a quick lessen from the guide so that we would have an understanding of what to expect, could stay safe, and could enjoy the adventure as much as possible. In some ways, this was similar to the premarital course that Mariah and I took before we got married in which we learned how to treat our marriage, what to expect, and how to ensure a fantastic marriage.

While on one of the tours, I began to think how lucky I was to get to be on such an adventure. First, I am grateful to have friends that put the trip together and invite me to come along. Second, I am grateful to have a supportive wife that had no hesitation in letting me go while leaving her home with 3 highly active and competitive boys. I couldn’t help to think how blessed I was in so many ways.

I have to confess, but please don’t take this wrong. This trip doesn’t come close in comparison to what I believe to be the adventure of my lifetime. I honestly get to live an adventure every day being married to my best friend, Mariah, and getting to raise our 3 boys:

Just as I didn’t know exactly what to expect on the Colorado trip, I didn’t know exactly what to expect in my marriage or raising boys. I never expected it to be easy and had no idea how hard it could be, but I feel blessed that I get to figure out how to undergo the necessary transformation to fulfill Mariah’s dreams, provide for them, and protect them. Sometimes it actually feels surreal that I get to live the adventure of my lifetime every day with my absolutely gorgeous wife and our boisterous boys.

It isn’t actually heaven, but it is the closest thing to heaven on this planet in my opinion. Every day proves to be a challenge, great adventure and good times. There are no words that adequately express how much I look forward to spending every day with them. With God as our tour guide, I am exhilarated every day to make amazingly sweet and brilliant music with my partner, Mariah.

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Please pray for others: A brief moment with our boys may be more than what others bargain for

Today is Christmas Eve and there is a lot of excitement in our house as we get prepared to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Mariah and I are raising 3 boys that are now 10, 8, and 5. If you don’t understand just how frightening that can be, just let me share a brief snippet of our day while a new mattress was being delivered to our house. The situation, interestingly, reminds me of the reason for Christmas – to celebrate the greatest gift this world has ever received and one of the greatest commands.

This is a picture of our 5 year old, Max, with his favorite family member, Maggie. Maggie is a 2.5 year old chocolate lab. They both look pretty innocent, but they are not. They are both quite mischievous as they generously demonstrated today.

We got a call around 3 that the delivery truck was almost to our house. We put Maggie in her room before they arrived in an effort to keep her out of the way. The guys arrived and we opened the door to let them in. Maggie began barking as if they were intruders. The raucous she was making was much like a caged bull. We showed them where the old mattress was so they could take it outside. I believe they felt safe despite her loud barking.

They made it to the staircase without incident and then everything changed as they began their descent down the stairs. I was in the room trying to make it easy for them to bring in the new mattress and suddenly heard a squeal followed by a huge thud. I heard Mariah yell, “Max, what did you do!” I ran out into the hall to assess the situation and looked down the stairs. I noticed the mattress wiggling on the ground at the bottom of the staircase and one of the movers crawling from under it. I didn’t notice the other guy, and I saw Maggie running around the hallway.

I asked what happened and Mariah said “Max let Maggie out.” I asked Max why and he said (holding his hands up in the air) “I tried to block her.” At this point, the other delivery guy came from one of the boys bedrooms which he had run into after Max let Maggie out of the gate. It became obvious at that moment that he let go of the mattress causing it to crash on top of the other guy.

It was an awful scene and we have no idea why Max let her out. My only thought is that he loves her so much and wanted the delivery guys to meet her. I don’t believe he intended for her to scare or attack the guys. I don’t believe she did anything other than bark at them like a ferocious dog. She is not a mean dog, but she sure sounds mean and protective when strangers enter our house. Thankfully, the delivery guys were ok.

As I reflect on the scene at our house today, I do ask for your prayers, but not for us. I ask that you pray for the delivery guys that came to our house today. I ask that you pray for anyone that interacts or comes in contact with us. Our boys can be dangerous, unpredictable, and anything but mild and serene.

Anyone that comes around us is at risk and needs to have their guard up at all times. If you are around our family, I am pretty sure you can picture what it was like in our house at that brief moment. I ask you to pray for others because being around us typically ends up being a little more than what most people bargain for. I ask that you pray for people not to walk away from us and believe our boys to be total heathens (I guess that part is for our shame). After all, it is Christmas and I believe the greatest gift we can give each other is to pray for each other.

Merry Christmas and praying for your peace,

The Daly’s

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Choosing to be Grateful

We have the opportunity every morning and all throughout our day to determine or adjust our attitude. We can focus on the good things or we can think about the bad things in our life. The truth is the we all have plenty of each.

These 3 young men might look innocent in this picture, but they can be very competitive (especially with each other). They will compete for anything and exhaust every bit of my patience. It is very tough to maintain a good attitude and stay focused on everything that is amazing due to the constant high level of intensity. At times, it can be hard to recognize all of the greatness. Please understand that I am not complaining. I know I take them for granted, and when I do, I know it is my choice.

Today, I really want to share my gratitude for a few of the good things in my life. My wife, my kids, our family, our friends, all of the healthcare workers we work with, our neighbors, our coaches, and our teammates. This morning, I was reminded of what is important and the situation has helped me stay a little more focused on all of the good things.

This is my wife and our oldest son. She is a nurse and this morning she used her assessment and skills at our house. Our son was eating breakfast and started making a weird noise. She immediately identified that something was wrong and recognized that he was choking. He was unable to speak and became obviously scared. She quickly gave him the Heimlich maneuver (5 abdominal thrusts). I will spare you the details of what happened after the fifth thrust. I will let you know it was a positive, but disgusting outcome. I am so glad she was there at that moment.

I am glad Mariah is my partner. I savor the life we have created and prefer nothing else. No words or actions can adequately express my gratitude. My wife, our boys, and our life is priceless. I am not sure what I would do without them.

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Living a dream and protecting a promise

Reflecting on people that I have met in my life, I can think of two people that I know without a doubt are actually living out their dream. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I am surrounded by many happy people who love what they do. There is something different about the two people that come to my mind. They both live a with a satisfaction and joy that I don’t quite see in other people. Their energy seems to infect so many people in such a positive and inspirational manner. They seem to play a symphony they in such harmony with God and all of the world that is absolutely inspirational.

One of those individuals is a guy I have always admired and still admire for being a man of such great character and integrity. I met him in middle school and he always dreamed of being a fireman. Today, he is living his dream and it fascinates me.

The other person is someone I have known for a little over 15 years. I was pretty confident quickly after I met her that there was something very special about her. She was just finishing nursing school when I met her and from the time she was a little girl she dreamed of being a nurse. She has been living her dream ever since graduating and becoming a nurse. She is my beautiful, precious, and wonderful wife and she has not fallen short of her dream. She loves what she does every day.

Tomorrow, she will sets sail on a new part of her dream. She will begin studying for a Masters of Science in Nursing. She is excited and anxious to get started. She knows the path she is taking will not be easy, but she is not afraid. She knows the work will be hard at times, but she is prepared and ready for the challenge.

As she takes the first step on this part of the path in her journey and we begin to organize our family life, I am the one that is afraid. I am not afraid of her failing or struggling in the program. I am afraid of the impact this will have on our family. I am afraid that I will not have the patience, the knowledge, or the skills to carry more of the weight so she can focus. I am afraid I will let her down and get in the way of her dream. I am afraid I will fail her.

I have to stay focused on the promise I made almost 12 years ago. I made her a promise that I would never let her down and that I would always stand by her side. I certainly can’t let myself get in her way. I have to partner with her as she lives her dream. I have to partner with our boys to stay out of her way. The only action plan I know to take is to strap down my armor of God to help deflect any anxiety, fear, uncertainty, or negativity that may meddle with her passion and dream. She deserves to continue to live her dream. She deserves the same satisfaction and joy that I get by being married to her – the best partner I could have ever hoped for in my life.

So, Mariah I am putting on God’s armor along with Madden, Miles, and Max. Together we will stand on guard and protect your path so that nothing gets in your way.

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Is this his purpose?

I believe we all have a purpose and I believe that we are all here to help each other. I think Max may have found his purpose or his calling in life. Every time we leave our house, leave someone else’s house, come home to our house, or arrive at someone else’s house, Max likes to check the mail.

We have no idea why he started doing this. We can’t wven figure out why he keeps going to the mailbox when it is empty more times than not. He checks the mail all the time and for some reason he feels that mail may be delivered many times during one day even thiugh there is rarely anything in it.

The other day we were leaving my parent’s house and he ran outside ahead of us. We thought he was going to jump in the car first.  When I got to the car, he wasn’t in it and this is where I found him:

I was hoping that baseball would excite him like it did me when I was growing up, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to excite him as much as checking the mail. Whatever Max decides to do when he grows up, my only hope is that he is happy and enjoys the lifestyle he has chose.

I am not sure if it is possible for Max to do a ride-a-long with a mailman or not, but I do think he should be considered as someone’s next apprentice. To all the mailmen, keep it up because this is one little boy you are inspiring.

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Am I listening?

I have worked hard to try to be an avid listener. Several years ago, I met with a friend and shared with her that I wasn’t a good listener. I asked her to help me become a better listener. She was excited to help me. She even worked with me for a whille to get better at this important skill, but I am not sure how much I have improved. At one point, I thought about giving up and just accepting that I am not a good listener. Thankfully, I am not good at giving up and am still trying to get better at listening.

I was at a conference this week and attended a session about supporting others. The main focus of the discussion was listening. The speaker even asked the audience “Are you listening?” When I heard (I was actually listening) the question, I immediately thought I need to hear this and pay attention. 

Mariah reminds me all the time that I never listen. She may be right and I will say the boys motor mouths are sometimes just too much for my ears. As I sit here with the boys, Max just told me that “I never pay attention.” I have even been told by a colleague that she “wonders sometimes if I am even here.”  Surely, I am listening because I heard all of these things. The fact that I heard that has to demonstrate that I was listening, right?

We all know that there is active listening and passive listening. What Mariah and my colleague were both communicating to me was that they don’t feel that I am listening. I may be good at passively listening, but maybe I am not so good at actively listening. Furthermore, I worry that I haven’t honored my friends effort and I may have more work to do to be a better active listener. 

I really don’t think I am the best judge of myself since I am not the one trying to feel heard. Therefore, I need your input. I am going to ask a few questions and I need honest answers. I need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so that I can really now if you are feeling heard by me. Here are the questions and your answers will help me know how well I am doing at being a good, active listener:

  1. How would you describe a good listener?
  2. Do you feel that I am a good listener?
  3. Do you feel heard when you talk to me?
  4. What can I do better so that you feel heard by me?
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A Pleasing Passport

I have to share that I am so pleased that Mariah has been accepted into the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner MSN program at Vanderbilt University. She is beyond ecstatic about this adventure and she deserves it more than anyone I know.

I remember meeting her in 2002 and she was working as a care partner at Vanderbilt. She was also working to finish her Bacheler of Science in Nursing from Austin Peay State University. I remember how hard she studied and worked to finish the program. I also remember her thinking that I was dreamy. Unfortunately over time, she has learned as I have shown her that I am anything but dreamy. 

I think it is important to know that she has realized  her dream against the odds. She has lived with me and my 3 mini-mes throughout her journey. We have not made it easy for her by any means. Can you imagine? 

Let me explain how she has had to overcome tremendous adversity. 

First, consider me. Enough said. I am nothing but difficult.

Second, let me share how Miles felt about her getting into the program. As you can see from his congratulation note, he has had no idea what she has been doing for the past 13 years. I would ask you how he could miss this, but I can be just as clueless so why would I have expected anything different.

    Third, let me share an example I experienced with Max today:

    • Me: Max, I love you
    • Max: Quit asking me that

    I am not sure why he thought my statement was a question or why he was so frustrated with my statement. The point is that we can be ruthless and this is what Mariah experiences from all four of her boys on a daily basis.

    Fourth, let me share one last instance with you.

    • Max: do I go to school tomorrow?
    • Me: No
    • Max: Uggggh! I want to go to school tomorrow.

    This came from the little boy that we have to battle every day to get to school and now he was begging to go to school on Sunday (a day he didn’t have to). This is the type of frustration that we put her through on a daily basis. She has to feel like none of us are ever happy. It is amazing to me that she has been able to stay focused on her goal.

    Being a nurse has always been her desire and she has been nothing less than tenacious throughout her journey. Today, she certainly feels like a champion as she has been given a passport to the luck and fortune she has wanted to conquer her entire life. 

    Mariah, whether the boys know or understand what you do, we love you with all of our hearts and are so excited for you. I am sorry the four of us have made your journey so difficult, but we never had any doubt in you. I am trying to convince myself that that we were training and preparing you in some way. Now that you have made it to the last part of your journey, we can lighten up our training and watch you shine your light a little brighter on the world.