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Father’s Matter

father-grown-sonThis year my kids are 15, 21 and 26. Like all dads out there I’ve done some things right and many things wrong. If you are a father of young children know that you have an immense opportunity and responsibility. Your leadership will have more to do with their development and future than you now know.

I’ve done a little experiment, and polled a number of men to get their answers to two questions in hopes that we might glean some wisdom from their experience.  While I surveyed men from varying backgrounds and ages, it was very interesting to me how similar their answers were. My Dad used to say, “learn from other’s mistakes instead of making them all yourself.” Good advice!  Hopefully we can all apply it after reading this.

The first question I asked was:

As a father, the one thing I would have done different when my children were young is _____________?

The three most common answers were:

  1. Model Christ to my children better
  2. Focus more on my relationship with my wife
  3. Plan for regular vacations and purposeful memory making occasions.

So, young dad’s out there… How are you doing in these areas? The #2 answer says a lot in the fact that the question was direction towards children but focusing on the relationship with your wife. Don’t miss this one!  Today is a great day to start or restart.

The second question I asked was:

As a grown man the one thing I long/longed for my father to say is _______________?

The same three answers were repeated over and over. In fact these were the only answers given.

  1. I’m sorry
  2. I love you
  3. I’m proud of you

Fathers, listen up! Especially if you’re a dad of grown children. Chances are your children are longing to hear one or all of the above. You probably don’t have to think very long to know what that is. Men, do it now. Pick up the phone, go for a visit and bless your children with the words they long to hear.

He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction. Malachi 4:6

Having The Tough Conversation

difficult conversationLet’s face it; we all experience this from time to time. That elephant in the room that everyone’s aware of, but no one wants to talk about. It could be the conversation you need to have with your parents, or with your child or spouse. It could be the talk that needs to happen between you and an employee or coworker.  Whether it’s the big elephant or a bunch of small stuff that’s been swept under the rug for years… either way it’s encroaching on, and diminishing the intimacy and authenticity of your relationship.

So why are these very necessary conversations so hard to have? It’s our FEAR OF PAIN. Come on, nobody likes pain. Given the choice, we all choose comfort over confrontation. The very thought of having the conversation produces anxiety in us because our fear is, “this is not going to go well or end well”. That thought process is true for all of us, but that entire process happens in our head, and gets all twisted up with the worst possible outcome, which produces more anxiety. Mark twain said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened”.

My experience is this, while they are difficult to have, the positive outcomes to these conversations far outweigh the rare negative ones. I can still remember getting the phone call from Kirsten saying, “We need to talk, I’m coming to pick you up”. GULP! I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew it couldn’t be good. I remember this sick feeling in my stomach waiting for her to arrive. I’ll save the details for another post, but suffice it to say, it was one of the toughest conversations of my life, but in the months following that conversation our relationship soared to new heights because of it.

Avoidance is the best short-term strategy to ensure long-term misery. Muster the courage, lay down the negative thoughts, and go have the conversation. Freedom is on the other end.

Your Most Important Work

When does the most important part of your day start? At least five days a week you are spending the majority of your waking hours at work. During any given day there are tasks you perform that are routine, and others that can be stressful due to the importance associated with them, but I believe your most important work starts at the end of the day… when you pull the car into the driveway or garage and turn off the ignition. Typically, there’s a deep breath because your workday is finally done, and you can relax, right?! The truth is, your most important work is just about to begin.

It’s the time you will spend with your wife and children. It’s such a small amount of time compared to the time you spend at work, but the fruit of your efforts will far outweigh and outlive anything you do at your job. Think about it a minute… you spend eight to ten hours a day at work, and at best, you have about two hours of meaningful time with your family at night. If your honest, it’s real easy to spend those hours in the recliner, isn’t it? After all, you worked all day and you “earned” this time, didn’t you?

Why am I calling this time with your family “work”? Just to get you to think about it a bit differently… you see, work has purpose in it, we understand that. It is intentional and we do it for a desired outcome. The work you are doing at home is an investment. Is your investment growing or diminishing?

When you turn off your ignition today, take a deep breath and ask God for His help to do your best “work”.

Your Greatest Gift To Me Mom

Your greatest gift to me is a beautiful package with three things in it; unconditional love, prayer and example.

Unconditional Love
I have often told you about how you have made each of your boys feel like they are your favorite. You do this without showing favoritism, so I still don’t know how you do it but its how God makes me feel too! The truth is I have given you more opportunity to worry, to be disappointed and reason to give up than should be permissible. Yet never once have I ever felt unloved. Even at my lowest times I never felt shame or judgment from you… only love and acceptance. You have exemplified 1 Corinthians 13 to me. I believe your example has been a conduit for me to receive God’s love. This is priceless!

Prayer
Your prayers for me and God’s response are evidence to me that prayer works. I think back to so much of my past and see where there were so many times when you couldn’t do anything else. I consider the many years when nothing changed, or got worse. Your prayers must have seemed like they we’re falling on deaf ears yet you remained faithful and trusted God and continued to pray. Your example created a foundation for my reliance on prayer.

Example
You told me about several times in your life when something needed to give… something needed to change, and how you gave God permission to change you if that’s what He wanted to do. And, that’s exactly what happened. He changed you. “Lord change me” is a prayer God continues to be faithful to answer in my life. Thank you for this simple foundational lesson!

Happy Mothers Day Mom
I love you!

What Your Child Is Thinking

This is still a little raw but it’s a great lesson I’ve recently learned and worth sharing. Easter Sunday should be a fairly peaceful day with family and friends, right… well not so much this year. Kirsten (my wife) and Brielle (my soon to be 13 year old daughter) had just got home from church and everything’s great. Brielle invites me into her room to show me a new poster she bought (Justin Bieber), and as she opens the door to her room she almost steps on her keyboard which is on the floor. I interrupt what we’re there for (seeing the poster) to tell her to find a better place to put the keyboard. She proceeds with the original purpose of why we’re there and doesn’t acknowledge my comment. This makes me feel there is a lack of respect, which results in my stern speech about respect, which brings her to tears.

Have you ever had the feeling that you’re wrong, right dab in the middle of proving you’re right? That’s what happened to me in Brielle’s room. While respect is important, I jumped the gun and took it out on Brielle. I knew I blew it, but I didn’t have the capacity at that moment to say so, so I left the room. Even though I knew I was wrong, I still was angry. The truth is I was already a little agitated because of an underlying issue between me and Kirsten. So like the wise man I am, I walk directly into the kitchen where Kirsten is and try to get our issue settled. We proceed to argue for about five minutes. Nothing too heated, nothing over the top… just good ole arguing :0( Well, nothing was getting settled so I walked towards our bedroom and as angry as I am at this point I have the presence of mind to apologize to Brielle. (She got wounded in friendly fire)

As I open her door she is crying profusely and she says, “Stop fighting”. Instantly I realize she has already put aside what happened between us, she was now upset by overhearing her mom and I argue.  It crushed me! Here’s the back story; today and for the past four or five years, Kirsten and I are, and have been best friends… we enjoy each other’s company and rarely argue. The first 20 years is another story… that’s mostly what we did. In fact, we were divorced for 8 years before being remarried to each other. So strike one is Brielle already has some known history that her parents have separated. Strike two is that three of her friends’ parents are in the process of getting divorced. It’s all around her.

What I learned… I would not have guessed in a million years that Brielle would have even thought her mom and I would split up. It’s not even a consideration for us! But that fear was very real to her. Kirsten and I took that opportunity to promise Brielle that that would never happen. While Kirsten and I have promised that to one another, we never considered including our children in that promise. It was very meaningful!

Divorce is all around our kids today. Are yours afraid? What are they thinking? It may surprise you!

Instantaneous Physiological Change – Getcha Some!

Three ways words affect us:

  • The words we say to ourselves
  • The words we say to others
  • The words we allow to be said to us

The tongue has the power to build or destroy; not only in our own life, but also in the lives of others. Virtually every contact has the potential to influence positively or negatively.

There is a physical chemical reaction that happens instantly when words are heard or received. You can make an instantaneous physiological change in another human beings body simply by the words you use. You can bring life or you can bring death.

Here’s an example: Men, let’s say you get home from work and you notice your wife has been to the hair stylist and you say “What happened to your hair!”

Now she’s NOT going to think; hmmm… I’m going to become angry… I’m going to release the angry chemicals in my body and eventually I’m going to throw a frying pan. No! It’s instantaneous and she immediately has a reaction. The flipside is true for us guys, you hear something and it literally changes a chemical inside your body that either brings life or death.

Now imagine you come home and this time you say “Wow! You are beautiful!” Instantly there is a peace and warmth and a joy (let’s call it LIFE) that flows through her body.

Women:

Have you ever said, “I wish my husband would be more of a leader, be stronger, be more confident” etc. You can make him that way! Your words have the power of life and death! You want to build your husband up, try infusing your words to him with encouragement.

You know what happens if you were to simply say (in the right time) “honey you are a good man” you know what happens inside us (men) when we hear that? we think, “Yeah… I am”. You know how I know? Because inside we want to be a good man. Maybe we’re afraid we’re not much of the time but we want to be a good man, and when someone who knows us as well as you do says we are. We begin to believe it.

How about our kids:

When they’re small is all “oh I’m so proud of you”, “you’re the best”, “you can do it”, “here is a reward for doing it”, “did you see what Johnny did?”, “Did I tell you what Suzy did?” But somewhere along the line it tapers off and by the time they’re 16 it’s “why can’t you be more like your sister”, “why is your room a pigsty”, “why’d you get another ticket”… waaa, waaa, waaa It’s no wonder they don’t want to spend time with their parents.

You can change yourself and others by breathing LIFE into them.

What are you telling yourself today? Are you telling yourself that you’re good enough, that you can do it, that you’re talented and creative, that you’re confident? If you haven’t heard any of that lately, what are you hearing? Maybe you need to hit the reset button.

There is something good and positive in everyone you come in contact with, it’s just a matter of tuning yourself to see it… to look for it. Become a person of praise and people are going to want to be around you.

Proverbs 18:21 (The Message) Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

How to Tell if You’re a Workaholic

This is a great post from the guys at All Pro Dad. In a University of North Carolina study, researchers found that the children of workaholics have the same levels of anxiety and depression as the kids whose parents are alcoholics.  Scary, isn’t it?  The signs of alcoholism are pretty clear, but what about men who work too much?  How do you determine if you might, indeed, be a workaholic?  If you answer “yes” to a few of the following questions, you might have an issue:

• Do you get more excited about work than about family?
• Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
• Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
• Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
• Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
• Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking?

Here are the 10 signs you might be a workaholic

You Are Protected

God spoke to Moses: “You’re about to die and be buried with your ancestors. You’ll no sooner be in the grave than this people will be up and whoring after the foreign gods of this country that they are entering. They will abandon me and violate my Covenant that I’ve made with them. I’ll get angry, oh so angry! I’ll walk off and leave them on their own, won’t so much as look back at them. Then many calamities and disasters will devastate them because they are defenseless. Deuteronomy 31:16-18 (The Message)

Why were the Israelites going to be devastated? Because they were defenseless.  Why were they defenseless? Because God left them on their own. (Well actually they left God) but the fact is they were defenseless because they were “without God”. There is a protection in God’s presence that I take for granted… That we all take for granted.

There is a protection provided to us as children of God that ought to have made the people in Joshua’s day BOLD! How much more should it make us as bold as Lions! Not only do we have this protection but Emanuel, “God with us”, has come and He has sent the Holy Spirit to live in us! What an advantage!!!!!! 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Benefits For Having Children Early

You don’t hear very many good reasons do you? Most of us (me included) would advise young married couples to wait. Kirsten and I have three children ages 23, 18 and 12. We had our first child when we were 21 and having two kids close to that age now I hope they wait a while. We thought we we’re pretty smart at the time but looking back we were in love, dumb and broke. HOWEVER! I did find one good reason today to have children young. By starting early you wont have children still young enough (as you age) to say everything that comes into their mind… things like “Daddy your eyebrows are turning gray”.

I Wish You Were Never Born!

I recently talked with a man, who at 13 years old was at home one day, a day not much different than any other day until his mother came home from an extremely stressful day at work. After a few words were exchanged she let out with, “I wish you were never born!” The boy received those words like a shotgun blasts to the chest at close range. He said to me, “parents should know better.” Parents should know not to use those words; they should know that those words especially have the potential to kill a child. They ought to know better. In the last 14 years that man has carried around this hurt, this wound; a wound that began to grow hate, anger and bitterness and 14 years have produced an abundant harvest of each.

He now has a three-year-old boy and for his son’s protection he wants to forgive his mother; he wants to get rid of the angry feelings inside him. Every now and then when he loses his temper he knows that it’s really these feelings that are the source of it. And just as his mother blasted him with both barrels that day, the anger and bitterness he’s carrying from it has been formed into a weapon. A virtual loaded 357 with the safety off that he carries in a shoulder harness. This weapon has become a part of him, it is very comfortable, and in fact he’s worn it for so long he can’t even tell it’s there. Now his weapon will never fire the same bullets that his mom fired that day, “I wish you were never born!” He will never use those exact words because he knows those words can kill. However, see how the enemy has used his mom’s words to generate the anger and bitterness and developed it into a weapon ready to be unleashed in the heat of a bad day, in the heat of a stressful week. Although he is sure he will never use those words when talking to his son, what scares him is until he is able to forgive his mother and receive healing of that wound, he has the potential to wound his friends and family just as effectively as his mother wounded him.

Our words have the power of life and death!

Acts 5:16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

NOTE – Even after Jesus had been crucified, rose back to life again, and ascended into heaven, we see the very same work that Jesus performed, while on the earth, still taking place through the hands of His disciples, and with the very same intensity – all being healed. And why not? Hebrews 13:8 tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!

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