Friday’s Father’s Note 01

Godwinks are no stranger to me and mine. Godwink is exactly how I met the contributing guest author debuted below.

Sitting with my feet in the shallow end of an RV Resort pool as my one-year-old fearlessly splashes about in the wading area a few feet away from me, my eight year old plays Barbies and mermaids with girls her age in the deeper side of adventure, my fourteen year old curled in a blanket of the cool RV lost in her 36th book since the August prior (thank YOU readers/writers workshop, CCISD), and I reminisce of the week and a half we shared prior here with my sixteen year old before she returned with her others… knowing she is having fun even though I wish she was with us all. My husband is off to work, joining us in the evenings. Knowing we had decided to cut our staycation two days short, and this was my last morning/early afternoon in this relaxing oasis just off the beach, I am literally savoring every peaceful detail- the splashing of the constant water fall on the opposite side of the pool; the splash pad water sprays igniting and landing; children’s freedom to squeal, talk loud, laugh loud, and dream up games to be played (every bit of a Phineas at times); the way the sun gleamed off of each of my children’s hair in a different gleam to strike a vibrant color, none the same. My constant guilt for not working going on eighteen months, yet loving nothing more than the time I am gaining with my four daughters is also weighing on me. In the midst of all these thoughts rapidly firing through my brain, my attention was drawn to a family doing just about the same as I was with their children varying in ages and choice of play.

As vacationing families sitting amidst a shallow end of a wading pond in a RV Resort pool tend to strike up conversation, their little one-year-olds begin to want what each other has… and so, Capris Suns are pulled from coolers to offer a fresh drink for both babies. Through the giggles of us watching these little humans, the conversation graduated to our similar families- teenagers sporting reading glasses immersed in a good book, elementary aged claiming stake in the water, and babies stealing our hearts with their innocent screams demanding what the other has. We learned we have the same family SUV (different years & trim levels) & chose an older RV for our family’s first camper trial run purchase a few years back. We came to realize two of us both write. I also came to find a confidant in the mom who understood the mixed emotions of a mom choosing to be home with her children all-the-while knowing a career is available to her which would provide additional financial comfort to the family. And, we all felt as though we are blending our families. The difference, I am blending in the more traditional sense of a modern term, and they… They have braved the fostering trenches and chose love in adoption. These two selfless parents have been blending their two children God brought to them in birth along with their two children God brought to them through foster care and guided them to adopt. When the dad shared he felt they are blending, too. I literally looked up at the sky, and mentally said, “I hear you, God,” as my body was covered in goosebumps. I did not hold back. I 5-4-3-2-1 & asked if he would consider contributing his blending experience here for all of you. Social media made the rest easier. Thus, my (& our) Godwink.

This is where our first Friday’s Fathers Note comes into play featuring Brannon Bourland as our first contributing guest author. I wish my husband had the opportunity to meet Brannon and his wife, Andrea, but like you, he is meeting him through his writing here on BlendStrong. May his words soften hearts of fathers & inspire marriages to lean on Christ.

Brannon Bourland is a husband and father who loves his bride and his children. He finds joy in hearing his daughter’s jokes, traveling with the family with their RV, visiting Disney with the kids, and going to lunch with his wife on Monday’s! (Yeah! Weekly lunches together…) Brannon lives with his wife and four children in the Houston area. When away from his work Brannon speaks publicly for non-profit youth organizations with an emphasis on foster care and youth development. Brannon loves teaching Bible class, speaking to and teaching teens and children, and doing whatever else his church needs him to do. Brannon is completely imperfect and broken and gets more things wrong than right but thrives knowing Jesus has his back anyway!

Brannon began his career at a large nationwide company in 2012 writing and preparing content for their communication department. In a world where the story sells, Brannon quickly found his stories and projects being used in sales presentations, and thus, began his transition from internal communications to marketing and sales where he is now the Director of Marketing.

But, Brannon considers his real work pursuing God and showing love to others. Through his wife and his personal experience in fostering to adoption to blending their children as one unit, he has a knack for weaving the intricate facets of Dadhood any father can relate to all the while touching on another arena of blending.

Time for you to experience his casual writing approach to family life as a father fueled with wisdom and comedic Dad flare.

“I Don’t Talk a Lot About Money”
by: Brannon Bourland

I don’t talk a lot about money.

It actually frustrates my wife to a certain extent.

You see, she is the keeper of the finances. She knows how much comes in and how much goes out, and I completely trust her to make the right decisions for our family.

So I just don’t talk about it much.

Anymore.

You see, it hasn’t always been that way.

There used to be times when I would think I knew better than she, and we would argue about spending and how much to spend.

For example- we used to argue about how much gas to put in the car.

It made no sense to me that you would only put half a tank of gas in the car when you’re going to eventually have to buy the other half anyway— why make two trips???

On the other hand, it made no sense to her that you would put more than half a tank of gas in the car if you didn’t have the other half a tank of gas in the budget that week.

We also used to argue about food.

She would buy groceries for meals. I would see an ingredient sitting in the fridge, open it, and eat it for lunch.

She would get frustrated because there was a plan for that ingredient.

I would get frustrated because I know where the grocery store is and I can just stop by on my way home from work and buy another one.

Then she would get more frustrated because a second stop at the grocery store wasn’t in the budget that week!!

It went like this for a while.

But it doesn’t seem to be that way anymore— or as much at least.

We don’t argue about groceries.

Or gas.

Partially because we can afford the full tank, or the second trip to Wal Mart, but mostly because I know my bride’s heart and what she is trying to accomplish for our family when it comes to managing our finances.

Also, I’ve mellowed quite a bit.

Ok, so most of it is probably that last part.

Yeah, it’s true, as the testosterone falls, and the gray hair increases, the trivial things I was passionate about at 25 and even 35, just aren’t that important to me anymore.

If my bride asks me to only put half a tank of gas in the car— cool! Half a tank it is.

If she asks me not to eat the bacon she bought for bacon wrapped green beans— I’m on board!!!

What I’ve learned, in this mellowing process, is that life is more clearly seen and appreciated when the smudges of pride aren’t obscuring the lenses.

It’s kind of a peaceful realization to come to.

The idea that you can be ok on half a tank of gas or going without bacon on your bacon lettuce tomato sandwich!!

However, there are still moments.

Moments when the grumpy, “certain”, husband, father, man— comes out.

Ok so maybe it’s more than just “moments”.

Whatever— the point is that despite the growth I’ve experienced in my marriage— in my parenting —in my finances— I still have weaknesses and flaws.

Take this door for example.

It looks like any other back door to any other family car.

This family car has been ours for four years.

It’s got 106,000 miles on it.

I’ve got a free and clear title to it sitting in a safe in my closet at my house.

It is well maintained, well loved, and well used.

This family car is big and one of the reasons why we chose to begin our foster parenting journey when we did— because we had a big enough car to carry more kids in.

I am committed — as a dad, as a husband, as a responsible man— to keeping this car in the best shape possible for as long as possible.

I don’t agree with everything Dave Ramsey says, but I do agree that car payments don’t make sense in our family, and so I am committed to doing everything I can to keep this family car alive until we can afford the next one.

The problem though is this door.

You see, one of my children left this door open the other day.

During a torrential rain storm—

—of epic proportions.

The amount of water that got in the backseat of this car was just enough to change the life of this car forever, but just shy of being an insurance claim.

To make it worse— the humidity, and rain over the next several days didn’t do anything to help dry the car out.

And so last night— the first night with no rain— I opened the car- put the big fan on it- and prayed to the mold and mildew gods for mercy.

They didn’t listen.

This morning, as I was driving to work, knowing I don’t have enough cash to go buy another family car, I examined every used car lot for an SUV of similar size that didn’t smell nearly as rank as the one I was driving.

I thought long and hard on what that car payment would look like and if it was worth the lowered risk of the asthma, or cancer, or whatever it was I certainly bound to contract while driving this car.

I thought about how big the argument would be if I showed up at home with a less smelly car but a new line item on the monthly budget— how many nights on the couch— how many nights in a hotel??

I thought about stopping at the Ford dealership (after buying a big bottle of Febreeze of course) and just asking “how much will you give me for it??”

I mean what could that hurt??? Right??? Then we could make an informed decision!!

But then I remembered, as the smell of dried vomit that had been reactivated by Saturday’s rain shower hit my nose—

I don’t care.

No really, I don’t!!

It doesn’t matter to me like it used to!!!

It’s a 106,000 mile, four year old car that is paid off—- who stinking cares that it stinks?? (Pun fully intended)

It’s goes from Point A to Point B — it does it well— it looks good doing it— it just smells bad if you’re in it—

I can live with that!

Oh sure- I may have to wipe it down with bleach wipes a little bit more often than I used to, but I can handle that— because I’m a dad, I’m a husband— I’m a man— that’s my job!!!

My job is to put up with and get over the imperfections of life so I can enjoy the perfection of the relationships I’ve been blessed with!!

My job is not to have everything I want when I want it, but to want— long for— pursue everything I have.

Because at the end of the day— as smelly as this family car is— the real blessing isn’t how it smells, but the little ones that left the door open so it could smell that way.

I wish I had known this earlier in life.

I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time and energy pursuing things — pursuing money— pursuing glory— that just doesn’t stinking matter!!

I wish I had pursued my wife more as a younger husband — I wish I had pursued my kids more as a younger father— I wish I had pursued God more as a younger man—

I wish— but the truth is I didn’t.

And yet, grace abounds.

One day I’ll buy a new car, but not today.

No, today I will leave the windows down while I put in a full day of work, and then drive my carcinogenic car home to my family.

Because real men don’t pursue perfection— they embrace imperfection and thank God for it everyday.

I just pray I can be a real man.

Here’s to smelly cars with no car payments, and half tanks of gas— because that’s all that’s in the budget!!

#blendstrong

~ddwa

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