A Many Father’s Day

Sunday is Father’s Day. A day we celebrate Father’s of all kinds. The Soccer Dad’s, the science fair Dad’s, the teaching Dad’s, and the “there for you” Dad’s. Father’s Day isn’t always easy because of divided homes. I see that more now in my job as a counselor than I feel I ever did. Like many holiday’s, Father’s Day can be pretty difficult when brokenness enters the picture. I get that. It’s hard for me to change that perspective once I’ve been exposed to it, even when I haven’t experienced it. I can’t have empathy in that sense, but I have sympathy.

I have many father’s in my life. The two brother’s I never had growing up, Randy (who married my sister Nicole) and Noel (who married my sister Robyn). And of course my father Russ. All three loving father’s, all three caring husbands, all three point to Christ.

I grew up with two sisters my entire life. I’ll say that for a large portion of that, I was exposed to dress up, putting on plays, and generally “not typical boy stuff.” I think I had asked my mother for a brother a few times, but eventually gave up once I knew what I was asking for wouldn’t come to fruition. As I grew up, I was protective of my sisters. Nicole and Randy started hanging out when she was in high school, so I’ve known Randy most of my life. Also, I was pretty stoked to have a brotherly figure in my life. When Robyn started dating Noel, I could not have been more happy. Noel was a kind, fun, full of life man whom I very quickly approved of. All of a sudden I had two, incredible brothers in my life and was loving it.

When the two of them became father’s, I was even more impressed with how they approached being a father to their children and more importantly, how they included God in their journey to reflect Him in everything they did. I was humbled that God had put these two incredible examples of fatherhood in my life.

“What about your own father? Yeesh. You haven’t mentioned him yet…awkward.”

Dad. I know growing up, life with your father was not easy. I know that your relationship with him was strained. I know you loved him in your own way anyway. I know that when Nicole was born you had thoughts about what you would be like as a father. I know you then thought about what it was like for you as a child. I know that you made a decision to break cycles, speak love often, be more present, provide well, care more, and give when you could.

KNOW that growing up I saw that man. I felt your love often. I heard your love frequently. I saw God’s love…through you. I learned how to be a good father well before someday having children of my own. I also saw your commitment to our family. I was shown how to be a better man. I was shown how to treat women, children, and friends. I was taught how to resolve conflict in a relationship, how to love well, and how to keep important things important.

Dad, I love you so much. I feel like we’ve grown a bit apart since I’ve moved away, but I want you to know that I love our talks. I love when you speak into my life and give me advice. I love when you talk me off the ledge when I’m freaking out about something. I love how similar I am to you, that I inherited your infectious laugh, love for movies, and sometimes brutal honesty. I love when I’m told that I look like you and that I am a blessing to you. I love that I reflect the Father by just reflecting you. And I love being your son.

Dad, thank you for being in my life. Thank you for teaching me God’s love. Thank you for being a constant source of encouragement and teaching. I have to say, I’ve never really welled up writing to you before, but for some reason that happened three times, haha.

I write these things publicly because I am proud of you Dad. I am proud of the father you were/are and the grandfather you are. I am proud of who you were to me and are to me. And I am so very proud of your life. I love you, so much, and want people to know how cool you are, haha.

Happy Father’s day Dad. Go enjoy some golf.

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30: Or, Why I’m Not Freaking Out

No. This is not a “30 things I noticed once turning 30,” post, or even a, “God, I’m 30, but I still don’t have babies,” post. It’s definitely not a, “I’m 30 and I feel myself rotting,” post.

I’m turning 30 in a few days. No longer having “twenty” as an identity is a bit odd…now that I’m sitting in this comfortable leather chair and thinking about my greater existence. Haha, turning thirty for me is not as much of a deal as some. If you’re a fan of the TV show Friends, you know what I’m talking about. They devote the entire episode to remembering each of group turning thirty years old. Rachel is freaking out about getting “old,” and they recall their previous milestones at thirty. I just don’t feel the same. I guess I’m similar to my dad in this respect. It’s another year, and you won’t feel much different afterwards. Now, this gets a little less true the closer you get to 40, 50, 60, and 70. As for me, I’m still young, not old.

Truly though, thirty is a prime time to be alive. I’ve had multiple conversations with forty year olds, or older, saying that their thirties were incredible. You are much less concerned with external opinions about yourself, you’ve arrived in a place where you’re working on your career, you’re dating and figuring things out, or you’re married and also figuring things out, haha. Thirty isn’t always, but CAN be an incredible moment in your life, filled with adventure, experience, pushing boundaries, and self discovery. I know that sometimes I entertain the thought that I haven’t done enough before thirty or pushed myself to where I want to be, but when I stop feeding that thought, I realize that I have accomplished much. I have seen much. I have felt much. I have lost much. I realize that reflection on a year passed shouldn’t be a time of regret, but refocused into a time of celebration and appreciation. In other words, you’re still alive, ha. And God willing, you have years ahead of you to go! Take opportunities when they arrive.

In some ways, I understand our obsession with time and how our yearly birthday is just another reminder that we have such little time on this earth, but flip that around if you can. Take a breath. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your friends, your family, and those who actually love the real you. Remind yourself of your happiest moments, and the moments that truly tested you. Remember your victories and the times you cried out to God for help. Remember that you are becoming fuller with each late night conversation you have about your vulnerabilities, each bad day you’ve overcome, each new relationship you build, and each regular day that you found some joy in.

This is my first birthday in my new home, with new friends that I’ve made over the last few months. In my dad’s words,

I have full faith that you’ll find friends Eric. You never seem to run out of them, and I don’t really know how you keep up with them all.

I always laugh whenever my dad tells me that. I guess being an introvert, I don’t seem to want to give myself enough credit for being able to meet people and draw them closer into friendship. Still, it’s new. It’s all new. And frankly, I can’t wait for that to wear off. I know one day, I’ll wake up, go about my day, as I have for months, and I’ll say to myself, “Huh, it kind of snuck up on me but none of this feels new any longer.” Given that a year before I turned thirty God told me to stop moving around so much, and then I got a job that I’ve been working towards since I was eighteen years old, and I moved to Colorado with the full intention of staying here for a while…I think this is going to be a year to remember. Now if only I could finish any of my short stories. One step at a time. One coffee shop at a time.

My Mother, Sharon Rose Peterson.

Today is Mother’s day. Though I’ve written quite a bit about my mom in the past, and though this isn’t the first time that I have been away during Mother’s Day, I still want to brag a bit on a Mom that has shown me so many unconditional lessons of love and kindness. Sharon Peterson. Continue reading “My Mother, Sharon Rose Peterson.”

My Profession: The Reality Behind Social Work vs. What People Think I Do.

As I sit here, killing a sinus infection, there is not much to do besides knock off some Netflix, rest, drink water, and sleep again. Needless to say, I’ve been getting some writing done and this post has been sitting around for years. I decided to finish it up.

I can spot it right away. I’m at a social gathering and I’m telling someone I’ve never met what I do for a living. I tell them I’m a social worker. “Oh..” is their response. When you’re as good at reading people as I am, you try not to laugh at how blunt their reaction comes off. “Oh..” translates into, “Right, so you take people’s kids from them. You make almost no money. You’re a male in a female dominated profession. Wait…why are you a social worker?? You could do anything??” Continue reading “My Profession: The Reality Behind Social Work vs. What People Think I Do.”

Life is in a Box

It’s an odd feeling when you pack your life into a few boxes, some bags, and an overstuffed car. You wonder, “Is this all I am?” You wonder as you sift through old school papers and doodles when you were 7, “How do I still have this?” I definitely don’t hoard, as the five full garbage bags in the trash bin can tell you. I’m more “hoarder light.” I can throw things away, but sometimes I collect things. I’ve done this since I was a kid. I collected cards, toys, rocks, knives…things escalated when I started getting an allowance, haha.

Nostalgia looms over my dimly lit room. Continue reading “Life is in a Box”