Posts Tagged ‘Children’

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.

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.

In my quiet time one recent morning, praying for the children with which God blessed Susan and me. Remembering some of the fateful, sometimes difficult prayers God has led me to pray for them during this time in mornings past.

The harsh and difficult time when God told me to never again pray He would heal Rebecca’s hand. The anger I felt, as her dad, when God told me to instead pray that He will use this for His glory. I remember Susan and me holding each other as we cried, knowing what we had to do. Then watching in amazement a few days later, as our little girl, toddles over to another child at Children’s Hospital Orthopedics, sits down, shows the scars on her hand and tells her new friend: “they have very good doctors here and they will take good care of you.”  We watched the fear, like we had felt during our first visit there with Rebecca, melt away from this child’s parents.   Praying God’s prayer for our daughter is not always easy, but that morning we began to realize His purpose is greater than we can imagine.  Today, I see a young lady with a compassion for people and an impassioned desire to help others.

I remember the morning, when Susan was about six months pregnant with our son. We already had a name chosen and were confident we knew what our new son would be called. Early that morning God impressed on me, his name is Michael Andrew (neither names we had chosen). As I told Susan, she asked why. Michael means “one who is like the Host.” Andrew means “one who represents God.” Since that morning, I have continued to pray that Michael will live in the fullness of his name. Today, I see a young man with a passion for people, a passion for Christ and a desire to live a life that makes a difference.

We did not know then, what those prayers would mean. Today, Susan and I see how God has blessed us with two terrific teenagers. Both love Christ with all their heart. Both have a love for people. Both have a desire to honor God with all they do. As teenagers, they are far beyond anything I ever imagined when I was praying for them in the womb.

I will be honest. Having a daily time alone with God is not always easy.  It is not always fun. It is many times painful and uncomfortable. But, when I look back at how God has used that time to guide our family and I am reminded of things like the stories above, I would not change a thing. I would not trade this time for the extra hour sleep.

Why do I have a daily quiet time?  I NEED IT.  I cannot be an effective husband, father and leader without God’s help. Everything I have learned about love, compassion, parenting and leadership has been found, strengthened and confirmed during these times. All because God is faithful to keep His promises when we seek His will, early in the morning. (Psalm 63)

Today (April 3, 2014) is the 18,262nd day of my life on this Earth. When you consider I have completed my first half century, it seems like a long time. The Bible equates a full life to 70 years. That is approximately 25,567 days. That means I have something slightly over 7,000 days remaining to fulfill the mission God has given me.  Anything beyond that time is simply His grace and favor.

As I sit here this morning, I am filled with the memory of my quiet time journey, a decade ago, during my 40th year.  See, at 40, I was perfectly willing to accept that I had crossed over into “middle age.”  So, the every day of my 40th year, was highlighted by a common theme during my morning quiet time.  That theme:  “God:  How do You want the last half of my life to look?”

During that year, my life focus began to shift… from practice to purpose… from success to significance… from life to legacy… from generalities to generations.

There are many great lessons and memories from those morning devotionals.  One that probably stands out above most was the morning I came to Psalm 90.  The thoughts of that day impacted me in such a way that this has become a recurring theme each year on my birthday.  Psalm 90 is a Psalm of Moses.  As we approach verse 12, Moses voices this prayer to God:

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NIV)

At first, it appears that Moses is asking God to let him know the number of days he has to live so he knows how long he has to learn. As I meditated on this passage, I began to realize that Moses was not asking God to show him how to count the number of his days.  Instead, he was asking God to show him how to make the number of his days count.  In making the number of his days count, he will gain a heart of wisdom and leave a legacy for future generations.

As Believers we are challenged to live our lives is such a way that when the number of our days is complete, the numbered days count. We are given many examples of people who have done just that.

Noah was over 100 years old when God called him to build the Ark to save the human race from extinction.

Abraham was 99 when he realized God’s promise to make him the father of many nations, through the birth of Isaac.

Daniel and his three friends were young teenagers when they entered Babylon captivity and stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar.

Joshua and Caleb were in their eighties, and the last of their generation, when they fought in the final battle of Jericho.

Esther was a young lady when she married the king and saved Israel.

Moses lived 40 years in Egypt and another 40 years in Midian before God called him to free Israel from Pharaoh. It was another 80 years before he wrote what we know as Psalm 90.

Each of these examples teaches us we are never too old or too young to fulfill God’s call.  Regardless of their age, these people knew that fulfilling God’s call to leave a legacy required diligence and purpose.

There are countless other examples, even in modern history, of people who have made a major impact on the world.  All because, they had a vision beyond their own lifetime. They choose to leave a legacy bigger than themselves.

Our family recently had the opportunity to visit Spain.  In Barcelona, there is a basilica, La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family).  The church was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926).  Construction began on this church in 1882 and continues to this day.  The stark contrast of the massive ancient design and the modern construction equipment and processes is interesting to behold.  Project leaders now hope to complete this construction by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.  How great of a visionary did Gaudi have to be to envision something so massive that it could never be completed during his lifetime?  In fact, many of the tools currently used in the construction of the project were not even conceived at the time of the building’s design.  Gaudi certainly had a vision and desire to impact a world beyond his own life.

Image

La Sagrada Familia

In my life, I have wasted too much time on things that won’t last.  I have no idea how many days I have remaining, only God knows.  Today, as I enter my second half century, my prayer is the same, just more fervently, as Moses taught:

Lord, I trust you to count the number of my days. Please teach me to make the number of my days count.

At 40, I prayed I would be a role model for my children.  I prayed that God would specifically call and equip each with everything each needed to fulfill the purpose He has set before them.

Now, at 50, I am amazed to see how God is using and equipping each of my children individually.  I am thankful for and affirm the calling God has placed on their individual lives. My prayer is that I will be the coach and councilor each needs to continue to grow in His likeness and fulfill His purpose.

When life is over two dates will define the number of one’s days, the date born and the date died. The dash in between will measure the number of days. Whether the number of those days counts for anything more than a dash on a tombstone will be determined by the legacy one leaves.

I want the legacy God allows me to leave to far outweigh the dash on my grave. I can only do that if I allow Him to give me a heart of wisdom, a vision of His kingdom and a love for His people.

As long as God continues to give me days to number, I want to make the numbered days to count.

Let’s go make this numbered day count for something bigger than ourselves.

Wow! At times it just doesn’t seem possible.

It seems like only yesterday Momma Bird and I were preparing our nest for the little ones, God blessed us with.  Children grow up.  Lately, I have really come to realize children grow up REALLY fast.

Momma Bird and I have watched and cheered as our little birds have become more and more independent.  Now, things are beginning to seem so different.  There’s a rustling in the nest.

Our daughter will graduate high school in a couple months and our son the year after that.  When we look back over the span of their life, it all seems so surreal.  These are the babies we prayed for God to give us.  These are the babies we fell totally and completely in love with before either was ever born.  These are the feet that made us laugh for joy when they took their first steps.  The ones that made us clap as they learned to run, cheer when they learned to ride a bicycle and hold our breath a little as each drove off in the car the first time.

At every milestone of their young lives, Momma Bird and I have been their biggest cheerleaders.  This time will be no different.  Yet, for some reason it is very different.

There is a rustling in the nest.  Our baby birds are beginning to see there is a great big exciting world outside the nest.  They are beginning to test their wings and soon will fly to discoveries of their own.

Each of our baby birds is becoming more and more independent.  Each is moving and walking more in the calling for which God has designed them.  Each is taking on responsibilities and adventures outside the nest.  Each is fulfilling dreams and touching lives that Momma Bird and I never imagined.

Momma Bird and I always knew God has loaned His baby birds to us for a season.  Now, we seem to be nearing the closing of that season.  Seasons change and our nest must change with the seasons.  Yet, this change has a different feel to it.  This change has our baby birds spreading their wings and feeling the air around them.  This change has them seeking God’s will for their own lives.  And, Momma Bird and I praying God’s will for them.

Letting go is not always easy.  Holding on is no longer an option.  Our wings will always open wide for our baby birds.  But, there is still a rustling in the nest.

Momma Bird and I will shed a tear as each of our baby birds leave the nest and test the wings.  We will watch with pride as they soar.  Our baby birds are becoming everything we ever prayed they would be and much much more.  God has big plans for our baby birds.  His plans are so much greater than we can ever imagine.

It’s the rustling in the nest that makes us simultaneously uncomfortable yet content, apprehensive yet excited, sad yet cheerful, tearful yet joyful.

Yes, I’m beginning to feel a rustling in the nest.  And this Daddy Bird is not sure he really likes it.

Hide or Seek?

Posted: November 23, 2013 in Christian, Family
Tags: , , , , ,

I wrote this in May 2006.  It was originally published on another website, which is no longer available.  I thought it was worth revisiting. My son is now sixteen and bigger than I am.  Maybe he will not be too upset or embarrassed that I shared this one.

Hide or Seek?

My nine year old son has the morning task of making his bed and arranging his pillows and stuffed animals on top.

Hide_or_Seek

Recently my wife and I walked in to find this scene played out in his room. My, obviously right brained, son had envisioned a game of “hide and seek.” His sock monkey (Anson) is “it.” I have no idea how many critters are hidden in this montage. However, I am amused by the red and blue dinosaur at the far end. He has hidden his head, not realizing that his body is still exposed.

I began to think about how many times I do the same thing in real life. So many times, I want to cover my head and hide my face from my purpose, only to leave the rest of me exposed. Like Jonah, I soon learn that hiding from God’s calling, is never a good idea.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that I have felt God’s persuasive urging in the way Jonah did.

I can also think of too many times it has taken me longer than three days to “come to my senses” and follow God.

God placed each of us here for a purpose. When we are not faithful to His call, we are like this little dinosaur. Hiding our head and leaving the rest of us exposed and unprotected.

In searching the scriptures, I have not found a single instance where the word “hide” is used in a positive fashion. It is commonly used when people are hiding from God, because of their sin.

Adam hid from God, because of his sin.

Or worse, God is hiding His face because of the sinful ways of His people. Many battles were lost by the children of Israel, because God hid His face due to their disobedience.

In distinct contrast, the word “seek” is very different.

Deuteronomy 4:29 tells us that if we seek the Lord our God, we will find him, if we seek Him with our heart and all our soul.

In Proverbs 8:17 God tells us: “I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me.”

God also told Jeremiah: “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Act 17:27 tells us that when we seek God, He is not far from every one of us.

God does promise us that when we seek Him, we will find Him. When we find Him, He will be our hiding place and shelter. When we hide, we cannot seek. When we seek, we do not need to hide.

When I think about it in this way, it does not seem like a child’s game any more. Just like Adam, Jonah, Jeremiah and all of our heroes of the faith, we have a choice.

Hide or Seek?