A Good Day (or Two)

Apr 05

A Good Day (or Two)

Meet Frankie.  He is a mythical creature that is a combination of bunny rabbit, moose, newborn giraffe, rainbow and fruit stand – or so says the imagination of my eight year old daughter.  He was born Friday morning following hours of oven and hot glue labor. He can only balance upright with millimeter precision placement and no nearby movement – or breathing for that matter.  His genetic makeup is dominated by melted crayons and perler beads, Legos, popsicle sticks, pom poms, buttons and whimsical beads.  You know, the stuff that dads specialize in.  Believe it or not, this is not in my wheelhouse :-).  But Greta was keen to ask for my help and (thank God) I recognized the opportunity and cleared the night’s other priorities.  It was so much fun.  We started with a blank sheet of paper and Greta’s ideation and sketches.  We had no idea where it would end up, but the adventure of it was the point.  We had lots of “Oooh, oooh, oooh, what if we …” moments.  There were lots of laughs, lots of high fives.  And voila … Frankie joined the family.  Greta is one to run around at 100 mph without time for pleasantries.  But this time, Greta turned to look back at me and said, “Dad, thanks a lot for doing this with me!”  Heart melted.  Intentionality lesson #947 in the books.

But nights like this are not meant for just 1 special occasion.  Remember, there are 2 daughters in this household.  A special shared experience for Maren and I (someday Greta, too), is our budding relationship with Haitian orphanages and 3 teenagers in particular.  One of our favorite activities is to exchange written letters with them each quarter.  As procrastination is a thing for us (both Jen and I majored in this skill), our letters were due this same night.  So, at 9:00pm while embryonic Frankie was in the oven and Greta was manning the hot glue station, Maren and I enjoyed re-reading past letters.  They have made a big impression on us.  Stay-at-home orders are certainly disruptive here.  But the layers of need and disruption are multiplied 10 fold in Haiti.  They’re great kids with severely limited opportunities yet buoyed with abounding joy.  This shared letter writing experience is skill-building, but more importantly we are learning together to live with benevolent eyes.

The momentum of the prior night seemed to continue into the next day.  Following a school-from-home, work-from-home day, a shipment of volleyballs arrived right around dinner time.  Food can wait.  The girls got the volleyballs pumped up and we headed for the backyard.  I had just cut the grass, it was 70 degrees without a cloud in the sky, there were 2 hours before sunset and the intoxicating aroma of the myriad blooming trees surrounded us.  We played until Maren’s hitting arm pleaded for mercy.  A great spring evening.

With backup-plan pizza baked and ready to eat, we decided to end the night with a movie.  A new release was on Disney+ so we went for it (“Onward”).  Unknowingly, the premise of the movie is 2 kids that are working to bring back their late parent for just 1 more day to spend with them.  Oof.  It was hard enough for me to digest this, but I was worried about what this would stir for the girls, too.  Somewhat amazingly, they enjoyed the movie and were unfazed by the premise.  I also generally enjoyed the movie, but my emotions were heavy.  No sooner did I get the girls to bed that I received a text from a good friend – “Hey Brad – thought you might like to know that the Pleiades are close tonight!”  [Pleiades is the constellation otherwise known as the Seven Sisters.  Fittingly, Jen and her 6 college roommates are also affectionately known as Pleiades because of their endearing and enduring sisterhood.]  Sure enough, I walked outside to see that the Pleiades were uncommonly close and visible in the night sky.  These are the ‘coincidences’ that aren’t so randomly coincidental.  To me, these are God moments.  I, too, wanted to have Jen back for just 1 more day and I got it.  It took my breath away.  I cried.  It was good – hard, but really good.

One of Jen’s quotes that we printed on a banner for the celebration is mounted to the back of the door leading out to our garage – so that we are reminded daily.  It reads, “A good day is a gift you give yourself, and it’s hard work.”  This reminds us that with intentionality, open eyes and a willful spirit, we can experience moments of true meaning regardless of circumstance, comfort or guarantee of outcome.  I am reminded of Jen constantly – hard not to when you share everything with someone.  But at the end of this super-fulfilling day, I was very grateful for God’s guidance through her voice.  At first it was the whisper to drop everything and go for the opportunity (i.e. Frankie and the letters).  Then, it was the mental picture to be patient and fun on the volleyball court and absorb the joy experienced by the girls.  Finally, it was the comfort that I am not alone; that the discomfort of the eternal-here-but-not-yet is joyful; and that there is so much to live for.

I pray for health, truth and sanity in these times.  Do today well 🙂


P.S. Apparently the momentum continues … Yesterday, while I was doing way-overdue projects, the girls made a fort and read together and then treated themselves to a 4 hour “spa day” in our master bath, only to fall asleep to a movie on a screen we set up in the backyard.  There are silver linings of unplugged time despite all of our calendar cancellations aren’t there?


  1. Marlayne Skeens /

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Michelle /

    Thank you for sharing! I, too, believe in signs. They aren’t coincidences. Jen enjoyed spending the day with her family!

  3. Sharon House /

    ❤️❤️❤️ I had just asked Kate how the girls were handling lockdown, but reading what I have about your family activities, this is what I imagined an evening in your home would be like. What a special dad you are.

  4. Kathi Roth /

    Sounds like a perfect day, a great and loving dad and the gift of Jen in the skies shining brightly. Beautifully written Brad.

  5. Diane Allen /

    I believe in signs. This morning at 5 a.m. I could not sleep and I was thinking about Jen and her family and really wishing for an update from Brad. With everything going on, I hadn’t thought about her family as much, but boy oh boy, today I just kept remembering her different posts! Thank you for the update. Your family is inspirational. ❤🤗

  6. Brian and Alicia /

    Brad, we really enjoy reading about the day-to-day…it’s so good to hear from you 🙂 Glad to hear you and the girls are doing well!

  7. Aunt Annie /

    Brad, Reading your post was the highlight of my day! Thanks for posting. I too believe Pleiades being near was no coincidence! Jen is proud of her imaginative, intentional family. 🥰

  8. Christin /

    Tears of sadness and admiring the beauty. Keep rockin’ on. Keep rockin’ on.

  9. Kim Rourke /

    As Diane Allen said, I too had you on my mind, and here you are sharing God moments with us. You worked hard for your good day!❤️

  10. Conni Carlson /

    Hey Brad, I so enjoy reading your notes and being uplifted by your messages. Think of Jen often and pray for God’s ongoing guidance in your life. Hugs and Prayers to you all.

  11. Vanessa Brown /

    Beautifully written. Jens blog continues to be inspirational!

  12. Bonnie B /

    Brad, during this Divine Pause I do believe you’re taking priceless time with your girls…. Jen would be and is so happy, I imagine!! Praying that you are all safe, healthy and Full of peace in the Lord!!

  13. suenitz /

    Hi Brad, Maren and Greta. Happy Monday to you. Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventures and life with us. I LOVE Frankie, Greta! He is so cool. And your letters to and from far away friends sounds like an interesting and fun thing to look forward to. I do believe that God speaks to us through the moments in our life. With our eyes and hearts open we can see Him everywhere and in everything. There is so much good that is and will come out of this pandemic and I am excited to see it happening. Your post was one of them. Thank you and God Bless and continued prayers to all.

  14. Amy Betters-Midtvedt /

    This fills my heart with joy for you!!

  15. Ami Kulkarni /

    Simply amazed by your heart, head, and spirit. The Pleiades comment brought tears to my eyes as well. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

  16. Melanie (a stranger friend) /

    Even though I never met Jen personally, this little blog has changed my life. I’m grateful to you, Brad, for continuing to share your family’s story.