Life

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.” -Jim Elliot

6 Facts About my Dad by my brother, Nate Carman

Good afternoon everyone.  

I am going to try not to look at any of you so that I can get through this.

My Name is Nathan Carman.  I am the oldest of these guys.  I thought I would try to lighten the mood a little by sharing 6 facts about William Carman.  Most of these are meant to be funny so you can laugh if you want to.

I am not claiming them to be perfect, because some are coming from the memory of a kid.

Fact #1

The only rock and roll song my dad liked was “Jump” by Van Halen.  At first I don’t think he knew it was a rock song, because it was the Chicago Cubs theme song in the 1980’s

Fact #2

Dad was an avid Chicago Cubs fan when.  But as a kid I can only remember going to Chicago Sox games.  I think it was because he got free tickets from a driver at Citgo.

Fact #3

I’ve never seen my dad in shorts, unless you count boxer shorts.

Fact #4

Dad was great at the Dad Jokes.  But he rarely told a regular joke that I understood the first time around.

Fact #5

Dad was a kind man.  Apart from traveling in rush hour, I never heard him say a mean word about another person.  Even on the Highway he only really said, Dadgummit, DUDE!”

Fact #6

And this is the introverts dilemma than many of us introverts face.  He would love that everyone is here together today, but would hate that the whole party is about him.  

Bonus fact

This is not a perfectly thought out one, I just wrote it this morning, and dreamed about it last night, but here goes.

Dad had some hopes and dreams.  He had hopes of retirement. He had dreams of a little travel.  He even talked about a cruise. But his main hope was that all those that he cared about (and he cared about everyone of you) would do one of three things.  Those 3 things were that you would come to Christ, get closer to Christ, or come back to Christ.  

My dad’s woodworking projects over the years were usually not made so that you could say look at his beautiful piece of art.  Most were made, like that frame in the back, that had held one of my moms paintings before this, to allow you to see the beauty inside that frame.  It was an accessory that helped point you to the good stuff. My dad had hopes of being a frame through which you saw Jesus and all that comes with that sight.  In my opinion, he did pretty good at being that frame.    

My Dad – Memories and Lessons Learned

My dad was not a man of many words. He wasn’t a man that often taught us lessons with his words. He was a man that silently led us by his example. Over the last few days, I have recalled lots of small memories. They aren’t memories full of huge emotional connection or huge impact. They’re just memories with my dad. But I know that even these “insignificant” memories have shaped me to be the man that I am today.

  • My dad taught me to ride a bike. I think of him when I teach my children to ride a bike.
  • My dad taught me to write the number 8. I think of him when I write numbers.
  • My dad played catch with me in the yard. I think of him when I play sports with my kids.
  • When learning to drive, my dad taught me that the roads are always slickest when it first starts to rain because the built up oil from cars hasn’t been washed away yet. I think of him when I’m driving and it starts to rain.
  • One of my favorite things as a young child was to hear my dad say, “Gravity’s getting to me” as he crawled off the couch and lay on the floor to watch a Chicago Cubs game. I would cuddle up to him and watch André Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, and Mark Grace disappoint us once again. When my kids cuddle up to me, I think of my dad.
  • My dad took us to Cubs games. Once during a Cub game he took me to the bathroom. He and I were using the urinals and all of the sudden he jumped and misfired in the urinal and said, “Whoa”. Citgo had just given dad a pager. He’d only had it a few days. Apparently it was the first time he got a page while peeing. His reaction was hilarious. Yes, sometimes I even think of my dad when I use the urinal.

In addition to these memories, there were plenty of deeper lessons that I learned from my dad. Here are five of them:

1. How to Treat a Woman

My dad never raised a hand against my mom or any other woman. I can’t even recall him raising his voice at my mom. That’s not say he didn’t get frustrated and have heated discussions with my mom. But he had no inkling of causing physical harm or showing domination over her. In the last couple of years, especially as my mom has been battling cancer, my dad showed a newfound care for my mom. Outside of his job, and church-related responsibilities, his life was about fulfilling the needs of my mom. From juicing veggies for her, to helping her do her treatments, my dad was all in with helping my mom. I love this about my dad. Especially because that’s not the example that his dad left for him. My dad’s legacy is one of care.

2. How to “Walk it Off”

My dad’s favorite phrase when one of us boys got hurt was, “Walk it Off”. I remember playing catch in the yard and taking a baseball to the eye. Of course I went down crying. But my dad said, “Walk it Off”. These words were magical. Because as you walked it off, you suddenly felt better. You were able to continue on. Within a few minutes, I was back up throwing the ball again. But beyond the magical powers of those words, I think these words represent my dad well. As life threw him curveballs, my dad would quietly, but assuredly “walk it off”. He had the ability to keep moving forward even in difficult times. By these words he taught his children to keep moving forward. As my children encounter various trials, I hope that I’m also helping them to “walk it off”. To push into relationships, to never give up on people, to not give up on a task or work, to take one to the eye, walk it off, and get back in the game. 

3. Loyalty Matters

My dad kept his promises and when he committed, he committed completely. When I was a kid, the church we were members of, and where my dad also served as the treasurer, decided to get rid of the pastor of the church. When this was going down, I remember hearing a group of people discussing how they were going to deal with it. My dad simply said, “We need to support our pastor.” And that was the end of it. And he was right. Later, as I’ve been a part of different churches, that message has stuck with me. “We need to support our pastor”.

My parents were married for 47 years! Never did I fear that my dad would leave my mom. I knew he was in it to the end. My dad worked for Citgo for 35 years. He was months away from retiring. He didn’t complain about his work. For the last 19 years, since moving from the East Chicago plant, he has loved working with coworkers and the drivers that have come through. 

4. Give Generously, Even When it Hurts

One time my dad was taking some criticism for giving some money to a “homeless” man in Chicago. It was the typical story, the man seemed like a con-artist. And even if he wasn’t a con-man, he would probably use it for alcohol or drugs. Finally, my dad spoke up to the criticism and said, “It’s not my responsibility to judge how the man is going to use the money. God has called us to give. He will judge how they use the money.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that lesson when encountering the poor and beggars. 

My dad would give the shirt off of his back if he saw someone in need. He’s the kinda guy that you had to be careful about telling your situation to, because he might just go out and buy whatever it was that you were needing. The last time we stayed with my parents after coming home from China, we were sleeping on a blowup mattress in the spare room. One morning my wife had moved to the couch because, well let’s face it, blowup mattresses are uncomfortable. My dad noticed this, left the house and came back with a bed.

5. Life without Jesus is Meaningless

My dad didn’t have a lot of hobbies. He didn’t have many things that he was passionate about. He had talents and skills, but they weren’t a driving factor for him. Except for one thing. Jesus. My dad’s deepest and most obvious passion was Jesus. He longed for all his family and friends and those he worked with to love Jesus more. My dad would never stand on a stage, but if he were to, this is what he would say. So, consider this his final message to you: 

  • Jesus, God’s son, came to earth and lived a sinless life. 
  • He willingly sacrificed his life and died on the cross, killed by the religious and political leaders of the time. Betrayed by one in his inner circle.
  • But Jesus was God, and the grave could not hold him. 3 days later he rose from the dead, defeating the power of satan.
  • He did this because the human race – you and me – needed to be redeemed. We are sinful and broken people. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, God could not bear our sinfulness. But when Jesus sacrificed himself for us, a relationship with our perfect and holy God became possible. 
  • You can have a relationship with God. It couldn’t be easier. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

For those who believe already, my dad would urge you to live for the Lord. Just because we believe in Jesus does not mean that it is easy to pursue goodness and holiness. But we must read God’s word and follow him wholeheartedly.

My Dad’s Obituary

Bill Carman, age 66, went home to be with his Lord, July 11, 2019. He is survived by his wife, Deborah, three sons, their wives and children. Bill grew up in northern Indiana with his four sisters. He met his wife, Deborah, while in high school and married in 1972. Not only was he a wonderful husband, he was also a dear father to three sons and was a loving grandfather to twelve grandchildren. Bill proudly served as a Senior Airman in the United States Air Force working as an Air Traffic Controller, and later became a dedicated employee of Citgo Petroleum for over 35 years. He will be greatly missed.

Well loved by both friends and family, here are a few heartfelt words from his three sons to their dad:

“My dad, Bill Carman, died unexpectedly yesterday. He was a good man, a caring father, grandfather, and husband. We will all miss him.” -Nathan Carman

“My dad was a good man and a great example of how to live and how to love those around him. He died today… His death left me wanting one more breakfast, one more Christmas jigsaw puzzle, one more thought-provoking FB post (that I always took for granted). But most of all, I want just one more conversation with him. He was a living testament of God’s love through Jesus and a measuring stick for how to live my life.” -Matthew Carman

“‘Loyal’ – That’s the word that I would use to describe my dad, Bill Carman. He was loyal to Jesus, his wife, his family, his church, and his job. He was not a man of many words, but the words he said were predictable, ‘love, Jesus, God, salvation’ being the highest among them. His last written words to me on my recent wedding anniversary were, ‘My only advice is to love God supremely and to love each other, lifting up the one who is down – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12′” -Jeremy Carman

Visitation and funeral services will be held at Whitworth Memorial Baptist Church, 3014 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN 37214, on Monday, July 15. Visitation from 10am-12pm and funeral service at 12pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to Whitworth Memorial Baptist Church.

#aphotoaday China Traffic

I love this photo. It’s not that I did a great job taking the shot. I didn’t and it could be alot better. But what I like about it is that it shows so much of China. The bike, the 3 wheeled electric wagon, the bus, the stoplight, the restaurants in the background. Describing China can be difficult and much of it is not tangible. But I think this shot captures a bit of it.

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#aphotoaday Buses

We take buses just about every day. Most of the time we’re taking a charter bus to the school. But sometimes we take the public bus to go shopping. The buses here are really nice. They’re temperature controlled and many of them are electric. A public bus can get pretty full. It’s always a site to see the morning bus get so full that people are literally smashed between people as they stand on the bus. It’s even more of a challenge to get off the bus when we’ve reached the destination. One of my worries is that one of our kids will be left on the bus because he or she wasn’t able to get out. I always do a headcount when we get off and so far we’ve never left anybody behind.

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#aphotoaday Bird Throwing Hobby

Ever heard of “Bird Throwing”? Yeah, me neither. “What is it”, you ask? Well, it’s quite literally throwing a bird. Seriously. It’s like Angry Birds without the pigs…or the walls…or dazed birds. Ok, it’s not that similar to Angry Birds, but it is interesting.

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Everyday on my home from work, I see two groups of people out in an empty lot of grass. And each day I see a bird rack with several birds on it and what appears to be people throwing birds into the air. At first I thought they were shooting them down because I’d see a guy point a rifle-looking thing at the bird and it would come straight down, but that didn’t make any sense. First of all, “shooting stuff down” isn’t a thing here. And the Chinese have a general respect of birds. So I had to go and see what it was all about.

Walking up to the group, I quickly confirmed that they were indeed throwing birds up into the air. They gripped the bird in their hand and whipped it straight up in the air and then the bird would come straight back like a boomerang. As I got even closer I could see that the man throwing the bird was also throwing some food pellets up at the same time, giving something for the birds to go after. And the man who looked like he was shooting them down, well, he was using his rifle-looking stick thing to throw an additional food pellet up near the bird in the air so it would also go after it. After the bird got the second pellet, it would then return to the man who threw him.

I asked one of the guys what the purpose of this was and he said it was just a hobby. And the birds seemed to like it as well. They weren’t being hurt or anything. After some time one of the birds didn’t want to go after the food any more, and they guy said, “He doesn’t want to play any more”. He put the bird back on the stand and gave it some water and moved on to the next bird that “wanted to play”.

I tried doing a Google search on this, but wasn’t able to find anything. I really have no idea where this hobby came from. If you know more about this hobby, comment below!

It looks like a lot of fun.

Normally, I only post one photo a day, but this one was just a cool thing, I’ve decided to break my rule and post some more. I hope you don’t mind!

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#aphotoaday Hole in the Wall

When you think of the phrase, “hole in the wall restaurant” in China, this is what comes to mind. The man smoking a cigarette, with his subservient mongrel dog next to him. The mini-kitchen with a wok on the burner and a calendar with a buddhist image on the wall. The size of the entire room is 130ft². I haven’t eaten at this particular take-out place, but I guarantee it’s some of the best Chinese food around.

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#aphotoaday Concentration

Lucas, once settled from other distractions, has an uncanny ability to remain focused on something for a long time. Of course, when we’re trying to get out the door and he’s focused on something not related to getting out the door, it can be frustrating. But it also means he can immerse himself in a task completely and enjoy the moment.

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#aphotoaday View of your Dad

My daughter, Anna, is my second guest poster in this series. It’s an interesting shot and it got me thinking of how my children will view me when they are off on their own.

Loving?

Reliable?

Silly?

Self-absorbed?

Faithful?

Respectable?

When they think back at the important moments of their childhood, will the memory of me be positive?

Or will it just be blurry?

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#aphotoaday Sleepy

This is my first guest photo on this #aphotoaday series. It was taken by my wife. I was discussing with her my frustration over framing this picture…that I couldn’t get it right with the available background. And the fact that Eloise was asleep meant I couldn’t reposition her. So, Jacquelyn took the camera, took the shot, and said, “there…that’s it”. And there, indeed, it was. She framed it perfectly. I’m still not super happy that this is a guest photo post, but it really was the best shot, so I couldn’t argue and I couldn’t recreate it since Eloise had since shifted positions. If there’s any props to give myself, it’s that it was still me that edited the photo. But Jacquelyn definitely gets the prize for the photo of the day. Great job, dear! 🙂

The words “Eloise” and “falling asleep” don’t usually have positive connotations with it. She, as most children (at least my children), don’t like to go to bed. Eloise rarely is able to fall asleep in the middle of day. So, when we saw this scene, it was a “quick, get the camera!” moment. She’s a cutie, but sometimes we feel a bit like Frank and the triplets on this clip of Friends.

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#aphotoaday Milk Tea

Milk tea is a thing here. And we’re really into it. This is from our favorite milk tea place called, Coco. Actually, I decided to take this milk tea home and save it for another day because I was really full from dinner. I put it in the refrigerator. Apparently, though, when my wife saw it in there she thought it was over two weeks old and THREW IT AWAY! WHAT! Have no fear, I sent her some Bitmoji’s (here and here) letting her I was upset about it. But just yesterday she bought me another one to make up for it. So, now she gets this and this one.

Also, when did my child become an adult?

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#aphotoaday Sunset in Tianjin

Our city gets a bad wrap because it’s known for being polluted…and it’s true. We do have alot of pollution. But over the Christmas break, in the midst of some pretty low pollution days, I realized that our city is a nice place to live. It really has all we could want. Historical stuff, Western stuff, relatively low traffic congestion, and lots of places to hang out. And on some days, when the blue of the sky can be seen, we see it really is a beautiful place.

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#aphotoaday Christmas Tree

Christmas trees remind of us Jacquelyn’s mom. She loved decorating for Christmas. We’ve had a hard time taking the tree down this year. It’s been on Jacquelyn’s todo list for a couple of weeks now, but she can’t quite bring herself to take it down. I think we’ll just keep it up for a little while longer.

I also thought this would be a good time to take a selfie. How do I look?

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#aphotoaday Violin

In coming back to China, one of things we really wanted to see was our children continue learning violin. Over the past couple of years we’ve tried local Chinese teachers, and even had some good success with an online teacher living in the Netherlands. But lately Jacquelyn has been helping them. We’ve had ups and downs in consistency, but Jacquelyn has worked really hard at working with the kids and getting them to practice.

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#aphotoaday Chinese Shack

Outside my office, in the otherwise sprawling surroundings of educational facilities that make up an international school and a university, sits this shack. It’s right in front of a manmade fishing pond. Between the shore and shack it’s not uncommon to see a fisherman fishing or a man singing and/or shouting over the water. It’s quite the contrast to an otherwise modern look at China.

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#aphotoaday Peers

I work with a pretty incredible group of peers. The people that have similar positions to me are in different cities within our company. We see each other in person only several times a year. And I’m always impressed at the camaraderie and fun that we have together. I also super appreciate the focus that each one brings into better supporting our people.

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#aphotoaday Mirror of the Past

In my daily interactions with my children I don’t typically think about the fact that my children look like me. It’s not that I don’t think they do, I just don’t think about it. But when I saw this picture, it immediately reminded me of the photos of my childhood. It was like looking into a mirror of the past.

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#aphotoaday For the Love of Reading

If you’ve been around my house, you’ve seen this as a normal occurrence. I envy her ability to be utterly consumed by a good book. I never gained the love of reading that my daughter has. But at least when she finishes a book we get to watch the movie together.

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#aphotoaday Mentor

When I was offered a chance to move back overseas, I came with the condition that I would need someone to train me on the job. And since being here, we’ve encountered some pretty big storms. I’m not sure that I would have been able to navigate them by myself. In fact, I’m quite sure I would have missed the boat the completely. I’m thankful for having a mentor to continue to show me the ropes.

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#aphotoaday Dog

This is one of the most interesting mutts I’ve ever seen. It has such striking facial features. It wasn’t what I aimed to photograph, but it quickly became clear that it would be featured.

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#aphotoaday Breakfast Parties

My wife and I have an “on again off again” relationship with running. Currently, we are “on again”. Each Saturday a friend of ours organizes a 5K around our housing complex.

One of the best parts of the 5K is when it is over and we a mini breakfast party. These are a couple of our new friends from this weekly tradition.

#aphotoaday Friend

Living overseas means constant changes. Friendship is no exception. But it only makes them even more highly valued. This is one of my friends. He also teaches my children in school. I’m glad he’s here.

#aphotoaday Beauty in the Morning

This is what my wife looks like in the morning.

I know, right? Even in the morning she glows.

But more than what she looks like, my wife is pretty incredible. She works hard and cares deeply. She loves me and makes efforts to show me. You can’t get better than that.

She’s stronger than me.

And she’s better than me.

And I really like her.

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#aphotoaday Morning Game Time

Micah’s usually our early riser. He’s also the first one done with getting ready to go in the morning. But it also means he has extra time while the rest of us are busy getting ready. This morning he wanted me to play a game. He ended up playing it by himself.

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Carmans and Greenes Together Again

We were thrilled to have our friends, the Greenes, stay with us again for Christmas. We had lots of fun, laughs and conversations. They’re the kind of people that we can easily just pickup our friendship where we left it off. Nathan and I both made a video.

Here’s mine:

Here’s Nathan:

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Thanksgiving in China ’17

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This hasn’t been most ideal Thanksgiving. With the passing of my mother-in-law, it’s kinda thrown our family out of sorts. JK and Eloise are still in the States spending time with family trying to help with organizing the estate while the rest of came back to China about a week ago.

None-the-less, we’ve made the best of it and have enjoyed our Thanksgivings separately. Honestly, I think between JK and me, we both kinda envy each other. I wish we could be with her and her family for yearly Thanksgiving tradition of heading to her brother’s house. And she wishes she could be here to be a part of our community Thanksgivings meals. On Thursday, our small group had a meal, and then again on Saturday we got to take part in a progressive dinner.

For the progressive dinner, at the first house, there was soup and bread. That’s where I contributed my secret recipe – buying store-bought food. From there we went to the 2nd house where we had chicken (couldn’t get a turkey), sweet potatoes and even cranberry sauce, and more main course items. Finally, we headed to the third house where we had a plethora of desserts. At the end it was a 4 hours well-spent!