Why You Won’t Get Our Christmas Card

Tis the season. Each year about this time, we start to receive Christmas cards from friends and family across the United States. Some send a card. Others send a newsletter with updates on what is happening with their family. All are enjoyed by our family and received with much love and appreciation. We too used to send the annual Christmas card. We did the photos, printing and postage.

Then one year I heard that you could feed and help someone in need for as little as $2.25 per person.

I’m not the sharpest guy in the room, but when I did some 8th grade math and looked at our annual spend for the cards, photos and postage, I knew that those dollars could be better spent. We talked it over as a family and decided that rather than send a card that will one day end up in the trash, or a box, we would dedicate those dollars to provide meals and help through Faith Mission of Columbus. We have kept that tradition going each year and now, thanks to social media, you probably already know more about our family than any card could ever tell.

To those that have sent us your annual card, thank you! We love seeing all that is happening with your family and in your life. Please consider this our annual Christmas card and know it is shared with the same thought and love. Also know that by accepting this token, you were also a part of helping to feed and assist someone in need right here in Columbus, Ohio.

Merry Christmas to each of you and a Happy New Year!

The Conrad Family

Your Actions Speak Louder

I once heard a story told by former Buckeye and NFL legend Chris Spielman. It’s been several years so I’m sure I’ll miss a detail or two but this is how I remember hearing it.

Chris was in his rookie season with the Detroit Lions and in his first mini-camp. Truth be told, he was getting destroyed by the older, wiser, stronger players. Play after play the linebacker was getting blocked, missing tackles and getting increasingly frustrated. He came out for a play and while on the sideline, began telling his coach how frustrated he was. He was also making excuses why he didn’t make the tackle and wasn’t making plays. That’s when his coach said it.

“Chris, I can’t hear you. Your actions are speaking too loud.”

Chris Spielman finished the story by saying that when he went back in for the next play, he absolutely lit up the running back. Part out of frustration and part out of anger that he knew his coach was right. His actions didn’t match his message.

I was driving in my car the day I heard that story on the radio. I have never forgotten it because I was so pumped up when Chris told it. He told it much better than I can type it but you get the idea. It was inspiring and humbling.

In this life we get up every morning and our actions tell a story. One of my favorite life quotes says it like this

“You can say what you think, but you will live what you believe.”

In our home, our school, our place of work, we can spend the day saying all of the things we believe. We can preach our mission and our message but are we living what we believe? Are our actions speaking so loud that the other players around us can’t hear or believe our message any longer? I’m guilty of it. It happens so easy. Commit today to some self evaluation.

Let’s live out the message we’re preaching. Let’s have our actions match our mission.

You’re Gonna Love Seventeen

The other day I was driving through town and heard a new song by Lee Brice. By the time it was over I almost caused a wreck because I WAS a wreck. The song was simply called “Boy” (see below). There were so many lines in the song that hit me sideways but probably the biggest one was “Boy, you’re gonna love seventeen.” I knew that in just a few short weeks my boy would be seventeen.

What to say that hasn’t already been said (or written)? I covered a lot of ground and great moments a year ago on your sixteenth birthday (HERE). We had a post I complied of rules for you go viral and receive over 4.3 million views a few weeks ago too (Here). I wrote a letter to you when you were about 5 years old (Here). I also gave you a charge for your life when you turned 12 (Here). Looking back at it, I’ve tried to give you any wisdom I’ve learned over my years.

and that’s what hit me when I heard the song

and that’s why I nearly wrecked.

A year ago we gave you the keys and a new form of freedom.

This year we essentially give you the vast majority of control of your future.

Austin, you’re gonna love seventeen.

Over the next year you’ll make decisions that will begin the trajectory of your future. You’ll choose a college and a major. You might meet someone that will have your heart. While your mom and I can provide some “air support,” these are the days and decisions that you must make on your own. The pivot that began last year with wheels and a license now expands to much larger decisions. We’ll always be here to support your decisions and dreams but now is the time when they really become YOURS.

“‘Cause you’re a part of me and a part of you will always be my little boy.”

For seventeen years you’ve been my shadow and now we officially begin to transition to a time where I will be yours. This is your time now. These are the days you’ll forever remember. I have every confidence you will handle them with grace, truth, wisdom and quiet strength.

You’re gonna love seventeen.

Happy Birthday Austin.

Dad.

These Eyes

I’ve been away from the blog for awhile now. In that time, “life” happened. There are many stories to tell but some of them are more private than others. The subject of “These Eyes” went through a season no father would wish their child to go through. I’ll share the full story one day but for now, know that before she even entered the battle, I knew she would win. She’s got a determination like none I have ever seen. I’m so proud of her. I knew she would rise. Rise she did.

These eyes captured me the first time I saw them

These eyes ushered in being the father of a daughter for the first time

These eyes teach me about compassion, joy, sensitivity and courage

These eyes scan the room, the court, the gym to make sure I’m watching and approve

These eyes have seen me fail as a dad but extended grace over and over again

When these eyes lock mine, I melt

In these eyes I see so much potential and promise

These eyes are intelligent and silly and know how to balance both

These eyes welcome a stranger and make them a friend

These eyes are so similar to her mamas

These eyes can bring tears to mine with surprisingly little effort

These eyes will one day change the world

How do I know?

Because these eyes forever changed mine.

I love you Miss Em.