Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I recently took on a lengthy Summer project of renovating an older house, in a college town where my son attends. This is probably the largest undertaking, outside of my on residence, I have ever attempted. My father, while nearing his eighties, has come along side of me to offer his encouragement, insight, and support.

Over the last few weeks, while working with my father and my son, I began thinking about many of the life lessons my father taught me. I have compiled some of the more significant here. It seems appropriate for me to release this blog post on Father’s Day.

  1. Being a model father is about the Father, not the model.

My Dad is a model father.

Of course, we all know what a model is. A model is a smaller imitation of the real thing. That’s right, when it comes to being a father, my Dad is a smaller imitation of the real thing.

Before you think I’m being too harsh toward my father, let me explain. When it came time in his life to be a father, Dad did not look to the example of his own father. Nor, did he look to the example of the earthly fathers he knew.

Instead, he sought the Scriptures to learn everything he could about how his Heavenly Father nurtures and cares for His Children. From there he learned and modeled unconditional love, passion, sacrifice, wisdom, instruction and so much more about raising and releasing his son.

I am not sure I truly understood this until I became a father myself. In one particular conversation, shortly after my first child was born, Dad put his arms around my shoulders as I held my new born daughter and said: “Son, I would much rather know that you are following God’s example than mine.”

That is when it hit me. Being a “model father” is all about THE FATHER, not about the model.

2. How hard you work is a reflection of your character.

Dad worked hard all his life. He knew the meaning of work, hard work. Often he would leave our house before I got up in the mornings and many times not return until after I was in bed. Even with working long hours and sometimes two jobs, Dad was still fully active and working around the house, or somewhere, during his off time.

I remember as a teenager and young adult realizing my Dad could and would work circle around me. He would not leave until the task was finished. Even today, with the physical limitations of age and life, he can still outwork many men half his age.

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, we see the instructions in “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Your work should be a reflection of God’s glory. In that respect, how hard you work is a reflection of your character.

3. Providing for your family is not only meaningful, it’s Spiritual.

Like I said, Dad worked hard all of his life. He worked hard to provide for the needs of his family. We did not have everything we wanted, but we had everything we needed.

Dad recognized the positive side of 1 Timothy 5:8 meant that providing for his family was as much a Spiritual endeavor and a physical one.

4. You are never too old to learn. The earliest you can ever begin learning something new is now.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is sitting in a crowded auditorium, as an eleven year old, watching Dad walk across the stage to received the College Degree he had earned. It was not until I was a little older that I realized how much of a challenge this was.

For much of his early life, Dad’s formal education had been somewhat limited. In fact, it was after he was married and became a father that he was the first enrollee and graduate from a new community technical college in our area, learned a trade that ultimately provided well for his family, and after working many days from before sun rise attended university in the evenings to earn his degree. He has lived out, the earliest you can begin to learn something new is NOW.

It is still amazing to watch how he enjoys learning something new. Even as a senior adult, he purchased his first computer and continues to learn about the technology that has passed by so many of his generation.

5. Knowing why things work the way they work is important.

For as long as I can remember, Dad has had a strong mechanical aptitude. For much of my young life, he did almost all of his own mechanic work on any automobile we had. As a young teenager, he would have me with him changing the oil, rotating tires or otherwise servicing whichever vehicle was due for maintenance. He taught me the importance of maintaining our assets. Understanding why things work (or should work) the way they work is important. This understanding helped him draw the line between doing it himself and seeking more professional help.

I have really come to appreciate this aspect of my Dad while working on my recent house project. As he has come along side, Dad encouraged me to not just replace what is broken, but to look at everything structurally connected. He has taken the time to explain how structural systems should work and how they interrelate within the construction of a house.

He has given me a greater appreciation for the importance of understanding why things work the way they work.

6. It is only failure if you quit.

Growing up, Dad required me to finish any activity I started. No matter how I much I like or dislike a particular activity, if I committed to participate, I had to see it through to completion. This was not only school, sports, or extracurricular activities. This included everyday things as well.

My first trip to the emergency room for sutures came not long after learning to ride a bicycle on two wheels. I drove off our drive way on to the tar and gravel road we lived on only to have a patch of loose gravel shift under by back wheel, sending me face first into the street. After a few sutures to close the wound on my chin and we were back home, the first thing Dad did was repair the damage to my bike and that afternoon he made me get out and ride again.

Falling down after taking the training wheels off is part of the process. Every result is something you can learn from. It is only failure if you quit.

7. Responsibility is something you live, not something you take.

I never once remember hearing Dad say he was “taking responsibility” for anything. Oh, he was responsible. He was a very responsible person.

Like work, Dad saw responsibility as a reflection of his character. He recognized that if responsibility was something he could take, that meant that it was something that could be taken away. But, if he lived responsibly, God guided him in his areas of responsibility. Therefore, Dad never “took” responsibility, he just quietly lived it.

8. Being a man is biological. Being a gentleman is optimal.

Growing up, Dad always taught me, you don’t have a choice being a man but you do have a choice being a gentleman. He modeled for me the importance of being kind to those who could do nothing for you in return.

Even now, I cannot help but inwardly chuckle as I watch him open doors for people significantly younger than himself. He is absolutely beaming and smiling as they walk through. Many appreciate his effort, but even when some do not, the blessing still belongs to him. Being a gentleman is optimal.

9. When more of your days are behind you than ahead you realize the importance of legacy.

Dad has really embraced this in the years since he became a grandfather. I am almost envious of the relationship he has with his grandchildren. He is one of their biggest fans and cheerleader. He has embraced teaching them at every opportunity he can. More than anything he desires their lives to be richer and more vibrant because of the investments he makes in each of them.

More than anything, he is living our Proverbs 13:22 by building an inheritance for his children’s children.

10. A Godly father nourishes his family tree for branches he will never see.

More than ever, I believe Dad realizes the direct impact he will have on future generations is limited. Time and age have a way of making one realize that. Dad has embraced this realization. With it he has recognized that he can have a positive influence in his family tree for many generations to come by how he invests in and fosters the relation with the generations he knows. Dad has taught me: A Godly father nourishes his family tree for branches he will never see.

Thank you Dad for these and many more life lessons.

From a son and a father, to all the fathers’ children reading this, Happy Father’s Day.

As a parent, I have at times told my children “no” when they made a request. Sometimes, they would continue to ask for the same thing, as if thinking I might change my answer. As their father, I have always tried to answer “yes” but occasionally “no” is the answer that is for their best benefit.

Occasionally, I would feel the need to say: “‘No’ is a perfectly acceptable answer.” They understood that my “no” was not changing and it was time to stop asking.

Our Heavenly Father, in much the same way, may tell us “no” when we pray our requests to Him. Unfortunately, I don’t always readily accept that “‘NO’ is a perfectly acceptable answer” when I pray. I’m guessing I am probably not alone in this regard.

We do not always like it when God tells us NO.  It can help to realize a couple things.

We are in good company:

Job: Job was a Godly, faithful man. He refused to curse God. He lost his children, his wealth, and his health. He was covered with boils and sores. All he asked God for was some relief from his suffering. Job’s comments on God’s answer, (Job 30:20) “I cry out to You, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You regard me.”

King David: David was a man after God’s own heart. David is an ancestor to Jesus Christ. He was the King of Israel and a writer of Psalms. When his son was sick, David fasted and prayed for seven days. He was so intense in his prayer, his servants feared for the King’s life. But, God said NO and his baby died. (2 Samuel 12:16-23)

The Apostle Paul: Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He experienced miracles from God and was able to perform miracles. On many occasions God saved Paul from death. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul writes about his “thorn in the flesh.” We know the thorn was painful, evil, chronic and frequent. Paul was desperate for relief. But, God said NO. When God tells him why, Paul was able to handle it.

When God tells us NO, we have His promise of Grace.  It is reassuring to realize we are in good company, with people like Job, David and Paul.

God knows what is best for us:

God has promised that he has a plan for us. His plan is for our good, not our harm. God’s answer to our prayers will always be in agreement with His plan for us.

Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God knows the results of both His “yes” and “no” to our requests. God only desires the best for us. His answer to our prayers will always lead to His best for us.

This morning, I’m thanking God for some of the “NO” answers. Because, I can now see in hindsight what He knew in foresight. His “no” really is for my good.

Many years ago, Mama Bird and I made a commitment that we would strive to celebrate and enjoy every stage of our baby birds’ lives.  Having two baby birds as close as we do has caused each major mile stone to come back-to-back like a series of one-two punches.

Recently, there has been another rustling in the nest. Mama Bird and I are again (seemingly all too soon) feeling a rustling in the nest as another baby bird is spreading his wings and learning to fly.

There is a sense of restlessness.  Mama Bird and I are sensing another rustling in the nest.  It is the rustling that seems familiar, yet different.  The rustling is comforting yet confusing, exciting and exhausting. It is the rustling that reminds Mama Bird and I our days are drawing near to having our baby birds fly and leaving us with an empty nest.

This past year seems to have past extremely fast. Having one baby bird away in college and another grinding through his final college decisions, we have learned a few lessons about trusting God with our (almost) adult children. These lessons have not always been what we have wanted to accept or learn, but each has been real nonetheless.

  1. Mama Bird and I dedicated baby birds to God. We have no right of recall. – Deuteronomy 6:4-7 – Mama Bird and I promised to raise young adults.  Starting with baby birds, we committed ourselves to teaching and molding our baby birds toward maturity and spreading their own wings as young adults.
  2. God promises to make Baby Birds’ paths straight, as they continue to commit their ways to Him. – Proverbs 3:5-6 – Mama Bird and I have watched as each of our baby birds has committed their lives and eternity to following God’s plan.  Mama Bird and I are rejoicing as we see God make their paths clear.
  3. A Baby Bird’s path is not going to always look like the path Papa Bird would have chosen.  As long as they are following God’s path, Mama Bird and I will celebrate the milestones.  We will trust God and rest in knowing His ways are far better than anything we would design. – Isaiah 55:8-9 – Mama Bird and I have to understand God’s ways are better than anything we could conceive for your baby birds.  God’s ways are higher than our way, so Mama Bird and I are going to trust Him with the plans He has for our baby birds.
  4. As our youngest Baby Bird begins to step out of the nest along the path God is opening before him, Mama Bird and I are confident knowing he is walking in truth. – 3 John 1:4 – Baby Bird is secure in his relationship with Jesus Christ. He has committed his ways to an all powerful God, who always keeps His promises.
  5. Baby Birds are confident that God is mindful of them and God has a plan specifically designed for each of them. – Jeremiah 29:11

Yes.  There is another rustling in the nest. Mama Bird and I are not finding it much easier this time around.

I have been blessed with a wonderful Dad who invested and continues to invest into my life. Even with a fabulous role model in my home growing up and with other great dads as examples to look to, there are still a few things I learned by being “Dad” to my daughter and son.

It is Spring and my youngest will be graduating high school next month.  Looking back, I have many fond memories of being a Dad for two wonderful children.  Realizing that I will soon have two children in college and basically living on their own, I began to reflect on some of the things I have learned over these past few years of DadLife.

There are no real profound concepts to any of these.  These are just things I recognized as a Dad raising children into young adults.  Some are lessons I learned.  Others are just my realizations of the joy of my DadLife.

As a Dad, I’ve learned:

  1. Actions lead and Directions send.  There are times when Dad’s directions are important to send a child on an appropriate path.  However, As a Dad, it is far more important that my own actions lead my children through life lessons.  My actions will lead where my directions may never send.  More importantly, if Dad’s actions do not closely mirror his directions in an area, his children are more likely to learn his example rather than the lesson he desires to direct.
  2. Dad must teach results.  As parents, Mom and I found it important to positively teach our children.  We found when we used negative wording in our instructions our children often heard us in the positive.  For instance, if we told a child “Don’t run in the house” that child’s actions indicated he/she heard “Run in the house.”  In this example, we found a simple instruction to “walk” produced the desired results.  We also taught our children that TRUTH is specific and TRUTH MATTERS.  The one lesson we were able to teach our children early that has produced the brightest results is:  “Delayed obedience is really disobedience with a time limit.”  As a result, even as teenagers, our children followed our instruction quickly.  We never had to break their disobedience, because they learned the benefits of obedience early.
  3. There is a big difference between Discipline and Punishment.  The word discipline is derived from the same root word as the word disciple.  As such, discipline means a refining of beliefs and behavior leading to desired results.  Discipline leads to desired results, by consciously reviewing consequences of actions and refining the decision processes causing those consequences.  Punishment is the negative consequence to one’s actions or decisions.
  4. Dad must always have Mom’s back.  It’s going to happen.  Some time, somewhere, something is going to come up where a child or children try to play one parent against the other.  This is why it is vitally important that parents are on the same page.  However, the tone Dad sets in this area can go a long way toward reducing the number of these events.   The best thing I realized as a Dad in this area was:  She was my Bride long before she was their Mom and she will be my Bride long after they move out of the house. There should never be any question whose side I will be on in this arena.  Dad has Mom’s back.  When Dad has Mom’s back, Mom is more likely to get the respect she deserves from the beginning.
  5. It’s okay for Dad to show emotion.  Dads are still human.  We get mad, sad and glad like anyone else.  It is important for us to establish a good example for handling those times when our emotions are less than desirable.
  6. All words have meaning, but Dad’s words have weight.  For better or worse, Dad’s words will impact a child’s life.  As Dads we have a choice to positively lift up our children or negatively tear them down.  Either one will impact a lifetime.  It is important to use the weight of our words to compliment, encourage and enable our offspring to succeed in life.
  7. Dad is going to mess up, but it’s not the end of the world.  There is no doubt that Dad is going to make mistakes.  What is important is what Dad does after he messes up.  When Dad faces his mistakes and seeks to make corrections, he teaches his children that “failure is not final.”  Excuses are not an option.  It is far easier to go from failure to success than it is from excuses to success.  Like I said earlier, we want to teach results, which means teaching success.
  8. The best investment Dad can make for his grandchildren is being a Godly parent to his children.  This is a direct reflection of the truth of Proverbs 13:22.  The best inheritance or heritage we can leave for our grandchildren is not money or material wealth.  The best heritage we can leave our grandchildren is Godly parents, which we raised by example in our own home.  Our children are blessed that my wife and I both have parents who live out with purpose Proverbs 13:22.   I have no doubt that each of them will be a parent that seeks to continue this heritage.
  9. I miss being Dad to my children, but I love being Dad to two outstanding young adults. They are not children any longer.  That time seems to have passed so quickly.  They have grown up.  I could not be more proud of the adults they have become.  They are two of the most outstanding young adults I know.
  10. I absolutely love DadLife.

It’s my birthday.  It has become my habit, on my birthday, to reflect on a lifetime of lessons learned.  So, here are a few off the top of my head.

I’ve Learned:

  • Salvation is all about Jesus and none about me.
  • Being a Christian is about a relationship, not a religion.
  • Promises are sacred and God’s promises are forever.
  • My opinion of God’s word is less important that my obedience to God’s word.
  • The Creator gave us creativity and we invented control.
  • When I resist God, I suffer.
  • A relationship without commitment is just an acquaintance.
  • True fiends are a priceless treasure and false friends are too plentiful.
  • All the events, circumstances and people in my life were placed there by God to prepare me for this moment.
  • The same hand that wrote the law in stone (Exodus 20), wrote my sin in sand (John 8) and redemption in blood. (Matthew 27)
  • Only as I love and respect others will I be able to love and respect myself.
  • Freedom is the result of letting go, not hanging on.
  • “Faith” is a verb.
  • “Hope” is a noun.
  • Blessings taken for granted are easily lost.
  • It is far easier to go from failure to success than it is to go from excuses to success.
  • The Bible always points to the true character of God.
  • Jesus loves me even when I am not lovable.
  • A Godly wife is a precious jewel. (Proverbs 31)
  • The “Power of God’s Word” and the “Word of God’s Power” cannot be separated.
  • A Godly Pastor should be quickly followed and an ungodly pastor more quickly fled.
  • God’s call on my life does not expire.
  • Prayer is about listening, not talking.
  • My need for accountability outweighs my desire to be accountable. (Proverbs 27:17)
  • God promises to supply all of my needs, not all of my wants. It is my responsibility to recognize the difference.
  • Believing in predestination does not excuse me from witnessing.
  • Believing in election means that I am still responsible for nominating lost souls.
  • There are some things I will never understand.
  • The more I learn the more I realize I do not know.
  • God is sovereign, just and holy.
  • God does not take a day off.
  • I am responsible for building a witness for my grandchildren tomorrow, through my children today. (Proverbs 13:22)
  • Stewardship is about life, not money.
  • As I age, my definition of “old” changes.
  • Even with a lifetime of learning behind me, I still have a lifetime of learning ahead of me.
  • I’m never too old to learn.

This month, my wife and I are celebrating our twenty-third wedding anniversary.  In the nearly twenty-four years since I first asked Susan to marry me, I have from time to time voiced the same simple and profoundly challenging question.

“Will you marry me?”

Regardless of what life is throwing at us at the moment, her answer is always the same: “Yes.”

All these years later, we have a clearer picture of just what that question and answer really mean.  Yet, we are still learning.  We have learned that after the initial “Will you marry me?” a whole lot of effort goes into making a successful marriage.  We have learned our marriage is worth the effort.  We have also learned there are some amazing benefits to my continuing to RE-ask and Susan continuing to RE-answer that same question.

RE-asking and RE-answering:

  1. Reminds me to keep our relationship center focused.
  2. Reassures her I’m fully invested in her.
  3. Rekindles the excitement of the first time she answered.
  4. Reconciles us as one, TOGETHER.
  5. Reanchors us during life’s storms.
  6. Refreshes our memories of God’s faithfulness in our marriage.
  7. Refocuses our priorities within our relationship.
  8. Reconfirms our commitment to and with each other.
  9. Resets our focus on the best for our marriage.
  10. Reclarifies the value of our relationship.

What’s the most amazing and exciting thing after twenty-three years of marriage?

That’s easy…

She still says: “YES!!

My daughter is the Valedictorian of her graduating class for 2014.  During her Graduation Address, she gave some great advice for her classmates. I asked her permission to include the transcript of her speech as a guest blog.


Family, Friends, Faculty, Staff, board members, and Mr. John David Phillips, thank you on behalf of the class of 2014 for coming and celebrating with us on all of our accomplishments.  Thank you, Mr. Phillips, for your inspirational message.  If it were not for all of your love, encouragement, and support through the years, we probably would not be at this point in our lives.  To the Class of 2014, it is my honor and privilege to be among the first to address you as GRADUATES of Faith Christian School.

Now, classmates, over the years we have experienced many changes through teachers, staff, and classmates that have come and gone.  We have also seen the school grow and the campus change.  When we were in elementary school, we played on a playground which is now a parking lot and were picked up by our moms where the office is now.  We have seen our long hope of finally eating lunch in a lunchroom be fulfilled.  We have adapted through all of the changes and have become closer together.  Especially in the last few weeks, we have begun to notice that “Sometimes we are all too quick to count down the days that we forget to make the days count.”  But now this is the night we have dreamed about and thought would never come.  It is here we complete our mission at Faith Christian and must head on to become doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, military leaders, or whatever career we choose.

Like a jigsaw puzzle contains many pieces and is not complete unless all pieces are put together.  We are a class and when one is absent; it is like a piece is missing from our class.  In a puzzle all of the pieces must be arranged correctly to reveal the picture which is its sole purpose.  Looking at you I see athletes, artists, some who are laid-back, some who are highly motivated, friends, and most important of all; I see family.  All of us are unique individuals –or puzzle pieces– that have come together to form our small, unique class of twenty three.   Our entire life and career at Faith has had one goal which was to prepare us to go on to adulthood.

I know that everyone is trying to give us advice and it is probably confusing us more than helping, if most of us have even listened to it at all.  We have been like a chain where each link represents every one of us, classmates, our teachers, family, and administration.   A chain can be used for many purposes, but all the links must work together to be successful. Our ‘chain’s’ purpose has been to prepare us for tonight, High School Graduation.

But I have one thing to tell you before we complete our journey at Faith.   Just like we have been like a chain for all these years, we are still a link even as we go our separate ways.   Even though the chances of all of us being together again are slim, we are still a link in that chain.  The chain is our high school career and each of us is still a link in it.  Tonight seniors, I have a gift for you to help you remember what I am telling you.  This is the surprise I have promised you.  I have a set of carabineer clips for you and your parents, like the chain has many purposes.   It can be used for hiking, holding your keys, hooking ropes together, and many other purposes as well. These clips can be linked together to form a chain.

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You are probably wondering how this clip relates to me.   Well, like a carabineer clip has many purposes, we each have a purpose that is unique to each of us.  In Proverbs 16: 9, the Bible says, “In their hearts humans plan their course but the Lord establishes their steps.”  God has created us with a special plan and purpose for each of us.  But it is up to us to discover our purpose and to follow it.  Most of us have an idea of where we would like to be whether it is owning a business, working in a hospital, or working for a great company far away. That may be our plan, but God may also have another idea which will be greater than any of our selfish wants or desires for our lives.  We must remember what we have been taught for the many years here at Faith, and follow God’s plan for us. Like Mr. McDaniel said Tuesday at Baccalaureate, Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “   Each of our plans is unique.    I have given each of you seniors a carabineer clip so that you can remember not only our special class, but also to fulfill your purpose.  You can use this clip however you choose, even though I do not suggest using this one to climb with it.  I challenge each of you that every time you see this that it will remind you of our class and to follow your purpose.  Always remember you are a link in the chain.

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Now, classmates, we have spent most of our lives in one place.  If nothing else, we have learned this year that time flies by quickly.  This past week as we were hanging out at the lake and working around school we all realized that we could not spend enough time together.  Do not take time for granted.  Do not miss an opportunity to fulfill your purpose.  I am not saying it will be easy all the time, but as E. E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”  We cannot fulfill our purpose on our own.  We must rely on God for help, but that also requires work from us.  We must always strive to do our best at everything.  As one of the fastest runners to ever live, Steve Prefontaine, said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”  Do not sacrifice the opportunity to fulfill your purpose, you may not have another chance.

Now, classmates, we have spent the many hours of studying and preparing ourselves for the next stage of life. We have turned in our final tests, quizzes, papers, and assignments to Faith.  We have spent the countless hours together in class, sports practices, athletic games, club meetings, choir concerts, and the many other afterschool events.  I urge you to not forget the great times together and all of the sweet memories this school has brought to us, like singing and jamming out with all of the teachers.  We are off to continue our lives and fulfill our perfect purpose planned by God.  Remember to rely on Him and He will reveal the way to go.  Classmates, Dr. Seuss says it best

“You’re off to great places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So… get on your way!”

Classmates, let’s get on our way to finding our purpose and living the rest of our lives. Do not forget that our chain does not break tonight because we are all going our own ways, but instead each link is fulfilling its purpose. Remember you are a link in this chain and now, we must get on our way.


Now it is your turn. What words of wisdom and great advice do you have for the Class of 2014?