Friday, January 31, 2014

Twenty-One Thoughts for My Twenty-One Year Old Daughter

This is simply not possible.  I refuse to accept it.  It cannot be happening, because in my mind you are still my little Babydoll.... that little baby girl I could fit between my elbow and the palm of my hand.   Yep, you made my heart grow bigger when I first saw you then and you, like your siblings, still do now each time you walk through our home's front door.

Happy Birthday, my daughter.  You have an awesome life ahead of you and the world truly is your stage.  So, as you turn 21 today and as my dimming parenting theater lights are moving from me to over to you, first let me share a few thoughts:

Twenty-one thoughts from a papa to his little girl

  1. Dream big and dream often.  Nothing ever comes from not speaking them into existence first.  God has an abundant life for you.  Go get it!
  2. "The Golden Rule" is still the best rule.
  3. Laugh and smile everyday.  Today is yesterday's gift to you.  Treat it as such.  A great way to begin each day is, "Thanks God!  So, what are we gonna do today?"
  4. Always thirst to do better than you think you can.  Failure often happens when the expectation bar is set too low vs. not high enough.
  5. Marry a beautiful Godly woman and treat her like the queen she is.  Wait, that advice is for your brothers... never mind.
  6. Read your bible often; especially The Gospels and Proverbs.  The author seems to know what He is talking about.
  7. Take risks.  Being too comfortable too long is just existing in a plush prison.
  8. Treat people with respect and expect the same in return.
  9. Be on time for your commitments.  Remember, "five minutes early is on time and on time is five minutes late" 
  10. Often the best solution is the simplest one.  Don't overthink a problem and hence making it bigger than it actually is.  
  11. Obey the law.  Until you actually make the rules, you still need to obey them.
  12. God sees you as a princess... and so do I.  Your kingdom awaits you, m'lady.
  13. Be a good steward of His financial blessings and learn the benefits of compounding interest right now.  As in today.  Your seventy-year-old self will thank you.
  14. Don't get caught up in what other people think about you.  They don't know you as well as you do.  Seek the wisdom of people worthy of your respect.  Flush any opinions worthy of flushing.
  15. Watch out for boys.  I told you this years ago and it still is true.  And just remember that in my book, one might actually be acceptable one day, but not one will ever be good enough for you.
  16. Speaking of #15.  If a boyfriend doesn't treat you like a queen now, he won't treat you like a queen later.  Kick him to the curb immediately and move on.  Trust me on this.
  17. Jesus is THE ultimate trendsetter.  He is one cool guy.  Continue to get to know Him and life will go very well for you.
  18. Never stop learning.  Continue to invest in your mind and you will never be poor.
  19. Take A LOT of photographs, as in a scad of pictures.  Life is worth remembering and photographs allow you to relive those memories in an instant.
  20. The human body is an amazing creation.  Treat it as such.  Respect yours and demand others to do the same.  It is the most amazing gift you will ever own.
  21. Moms are amazing and you have had two moms that love you so very dearly.  I am pretty sure that means you must be very special.

If I could give you one more, a kind of 'one to grow on', it would be this... I love you, my Babydoll.  I did then, I do now, and I always will.   (Yes, my eyes are swelling as I type this and I am having a hard time finishing the sentence.)  

You are a very special young woman and I am so very proud to be your father.  While I know you are not a little baby girl anymore, please know you will always be so to me.  

As you spread your wings to begin to fly, please be sure to stop in from time to time to say hey.  I will always have a big papa hug waiting for you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Small window, big impact....

Although the media will never get the blame with how it truly affects the development of the human mind, I think we can all agree the media, in all of its forms, can have a HUGE impact on all of us.  

Because our minds are all as different as the situation we live in, one message may affect one person completely different than that of someone else.  For example, watching Rocky IV may not have made my sixteen year old self really want to step into the boxing ring with a steroid injected Russian giant, but it did make me want to train like Rocky and Drago.  (Yes, Rock's inverted sit-ups were truly inspiring.)

Nonetheless, the media of my youth truly did make their impact.  With the following categories, here are the media artifacts that made their way deep into my soul by the time I was a teen.

The BOOK:  
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964)

No book (apart from the Bible) has affected me as much as this simple book about a tree who loved a boy so much that she gave everything she had for him.  

This simple, but impactful, book truly set the stage for my views on how to approach life as well as parenting.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

What can I say about this crazy movie and one boy's dream of winning that prized golden ticket?  It had a huge impact on me and how not to act as a child (i.e. not like Veruca Salt).  Charlie, despite his impoverished background, was a prince among boys.

Thanks for the remake effort Johnny Depp, but you may now be seated.

Cat's in the Cradle by Harry Chapin (1974)

Welcome to the classic folk song about every father's eternal dilemma.  We, as men, are called to raise a family, provide for that family, and somehow spend enough time with our sons so they in turn can do the same with their future family.  
While women today are no doubt approaching this same pressured choice, this pressure still remains higher for the husband/father... as it should be.  

Also welcome to a major reason to why I am a providing stay-at-home father.

The Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster (1986)

Boom!  In a blink of an eye, the hopes and dreams of all wannabe astronauts were forever changed as a "major malfunction" ended the lives of seven heroic astronauts, one being the "first teacher into space."  

The plume is instantly recognizable as is the bitter taste that soon forms in the back of your mouth.  This moment taught me to savor each moment forever.


Yeah Baby!  The Atari 2600.  Released September 11, 1977 and from then on forever changing the electronic home gaming industry into being the twenty-one billion dollar industry it is today (  

I can still feel the single red buttoned controller in my prepubescent hand.  
All hail the first electronic babysitter. 


Yep, there they are.  Each example still brings back a mixed smile upon my face and an indelible mark upon my heart.

Feel free to share your own in each category.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"You're a little too Christian for me."

Time flies when you are being blessed.

Wow, where does the time go, because ten years ago today seems like a blink to me.  Are you like me and seek to keep a memory rolodex of the key moments in your life?  Do you enjoy looking back at the your tapestry to see how those moments made you who you are now?  I know I do.  I find it fascinating to remember how key moments occurred and how essential people have walked into God's plan for me. 

So, what was so great about ten years ago you ask?  Well, let me explain.  On January 25, 2004, Sandy and I began to date.  While we had become friends in the latter part of 2003, it was this date that we decided to take a true leap of faith to see what God had in store for us.  I know, I know, "whoa, big deal."  Or maybe, "Congrats guys!"  Or even, "whoopee... now where's the T.V. remote?"  That's a fair response I suppose.  I understand that our day is our day and it probably isn't a big deal to you.  Don't worry, I get it.  But, nonetheless, this is my blog, so for today, it IS a big deal.  So there... Ha!

In a way though, it is kinda cool to realize that ten years ago 'us' started.  You know a decade of stuff happened and the one big thing for us was 'us' actually beginning.  In my opinion, I think we all often just kinda glaze over the details of how our lives really fold out.  I think we often tend to forget the choices that we make can ultimately change the course of our history... and therefore influence the history of others.  We tend to forget how some random choice on a Sunday afternoon can ultimately be a very big deal for days, decades, or even generations to come.  I find it rather fascinating actually, but I guess I am just an overdramatic romantic. 

A lot of people know my story.  And, if you don't, perhaps I can share it with you someday soon.  Nonetheless, I can definitely say my life is filled with a collision of joy and pain and all of the emotions in between.  Yes, I am a very blessed man with a loving Savior, an amazing wife, and five kind of cute kiddos.  Still, it is a full knowledge of deep heartache in the past that gives those blessings of today their sweet taste.  Perhaps in a later post I may provide more details on some of those heartaches, but for now please just trust me that there was a lot of pain.

Nonetheless, ten years ago Sandy took a chance on one very broken guy as she helped put me back together.  In fact, I had a buddy once describe what she did as "breaking into jail" to rescue me.  He was spot on with his statement and quite prophetic actually.

It may surprise you though, but I nearly sabotaged my own rescue.  Yep, I almost prevented it from happening before it we even began.  How did I do this you ask?  With my mouth of course as I once told Sandy seven words that she now jokingly reminds me of from time to time.  I once told her "you're a little too Christian for me."  Yep, I did.  Like I said, they are words that we laugh at now, but at the time they were spoken from a real concern in my faulty feelings.  It was no secret that she knew Jesus better than I did.  It also was no secret that she was living out her faith far better than I was at the time.  Also, she was definitely a few more laps around the Christian track for sure.  Still, I remember though being scared and intimidated of her deep faith.  Not scared of her, but scared of Jesus.  I was scared of truly living beyond the fire insurance that He provided.  For that reason, my ignorant statement of her being "too Christian" nearly sank the 'us' we were destined to become.

With immeasurable grace and patience, Sandy did not quit on me.  She found a way to put Jesus front and center in our family and we have never been the same since.  Scripture teaches a sower is to sow His seed bountifully expecting to reap a bountiful harvest (2 Cor. 9:6).  Please know, Sandy did just that.  While admittedly she may have had no idea of how our lives would turn out, her obedience was still promised a great return.

So if I could share one nugget of wisdom to each of you, it would be to never ever underestimate the little (and big!) choices in our lives that can wind up being necessary big course corrections.  For Sandy and me, it was ten years ago and our destiny was changed forever.

Thank you, my Love.  You truly are an answer to prayer and thank you for rescuing a guy like me.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mirror Time...

The two tools you need for earthly success are a mirror and the desire to be better.  Here is what I see when a mirror is in front of me....

I see me.  I am a guy who is overly critical of myself and never content in my actions, all the while being overly sarcastic in nature.  Yeah, pretty much a recipe for a type A personality.  I fail amazingly at humility; the need for control; being content for long; and shutting my mind off.  If bored, my thoughts can be dangerous.  If happy, I will still want more.   If frustrated, stay clear.  Often times, the pursuit is better than the success and the thought outweighs the action.  I don't receive blessings very well, but I love to bless others.  I am gracious to others, but often hard on myself. Smiles are powerful, communication is key, and love always wins.  I love to do new things, meet new people, and firmly believe in the power of prayer and choice.  I can be relentless.  I can be apathetic.  But I recommend you to be careful in telling me that I can't do something because I just will.  A thank-you goes a long ways and a hug goes even further.  People tell me I am a good guy.  Sadly, my pauper nature only shows me how much more there is to improve upon.  I am working on this though.  I am learning this is not my identity in Christ.  I am still learning the ways of royalty.

I see a guy not motivated by money or material things; as both are just tools to this trade called life.  Yes, they are necessary; but no, they are not to be coveted.  I do however cherish my family.  I am a husband to one wife in mind, body, and spirit.  You mess with her, you deal with me.   Likewise, you mess with me, you deal with her.  Pretty simple.  She is truly amazing and I love her so very much.  She calls me Bunk'n.  I call her Love.  I am the father to five children.   Likewise again, you mess with them, you deal with us.  So just don't.  My kids are my opus.  I cannot think about not thinking about them and I would rather not try.  We are blessed.  We know this.  We live trying to remember this always.

I see a guy who has been through a lot.  Like many others, I have had a lot of pain in my life, but I have gotten up each time so I guess that is a good thing.   I fully know I did not do this alone either as I have an amazing group of loving family and friends.  I am also thankful for not having a hardened heart due to life's circumstances and my stupid choices.  Rude people anger me.  I just don't understand the need to be rude.  Selfish people also irritate me.  I don't trifle with people's hearts, so I expect the same in return.

I see a guy who looks back and sees the both good and bad instances in my life.  My old self would torch any bridge needing to be torched often due to ego.  Admittedly, I still smirk at some of those ashen ruins.  I may not burn bridges as much anymore, but I make sure to now erect some toll booths.  Pride is still my worst enemy as some ways die harder than others.  Yes, we are called to be strong, but it is never to be in our own strength.  My mouth used to get me in trouble more than it does now.  I am thankful for this maturity as well.  Those times were the words from an immature boy thinking he was more of a man.  I still have issues with authority because I don't get caught up in titles or power.  Again, I am working on this....

I see a guy who believes success is in the eyes of the content.  While I can definitely say my soul is content, I still know I am not done yet.  I look forward to our kiddos growing up,  spreading their wings, and changing the world.  I also look forward to growing old with my Love.  The air still leaves the room when she enters it and her touch still makes me swoon.  I desire to dream more and achieve more because that's just who I am.  Kneeled in front of the cross is where I always want to be.  I hope to bring more people there with me.

In the end, I see a guy who smiles when he looks in the mirror.  Perhaps that isn't success for you, but I know it is for me.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I do know who brings it... and to Christ goes all the glory.

Monday, January 20, 2014

What a weekend... that's no lie!

It is said most people don't like Mondays.  I do.   Mondays allow this stay at home dad to return to normal routines.  You know, set times, meals, schedules, etc..  Yeah, I am that guy who finds comfort in the routine.  Go ahead and cue the control issues... or... on the other hand, don't.  Let's just laugh at that lie instead!  Read on....

This Monday, I find myself trying to catch ahold of the various thoughts crossing my mind as I am left with a blissful hangover from church this weekend.  My church was blessed to have Steve and Wendy Backlund visit for a three-day five-session conference.  The Backlunds spoke on our identity in Christ and the lies that we have all bought into through the years.  Their message is one that is simply complex as it penetrates far deeper than one might imagine.  To say the least, many personal lies were broken off this weekend, leaving me a sense of renewal that I haven't felt in a long time.

Steve and Wendy were simply amazing.  Their ministry, Igniting Hope Ministries, is dedicated to ignite hope and personal victory in individuals, leaders and churches through a revelation of God's goodness in Jesus Christ.  And ignite they did.  With passion, scripture, and laughter, they simply blew us away.  And how did they do this you may ask?  By laughing at each lie we so easily believe.  Yes, laughing.  Literally.  Much of their ministry about how to live a resurrected life is based out of Psalms 2:4, which states: "The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them" (NIV).  We too should do the same.

Sandy and I were literally at our church for more than eighteen hours over the course of the last three days and we still find ourselves thirsting for more.  It is like we are seeing the world through different lenses.  A veil has been lifted to the lies we were believing.  

The Backlunds are amazing and I highly recommend everyone to learn more about them and their prophetic ministry.  What a blessing it was to have them visit and to have a church pressing in for a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus!

While knowing the full biblical context will fall short in the short space provided, below are some quick Backlund nuggets to get a taste of how powerful the words and declarations that we speak of truly are:
  • You will only receive to the level of 'believe' your worth is
  • You can't imagine your way out of a situation, you must speak your way out
  • It is difficult to see how big of a thing you are part of when you are still part of it
  • You can't think a lie when you speak the truth
  • The future is in the mouths of intentional speakers
  • Instead of rehearsing how big your problem is, how about rehearsing how big your God is
  • It takes no effort whatsoever to be pessimistic
  • It is not that you are doing something wrong, it is that you are believing to something wrong
  • Negative worry is a misuse of God's gift of imagination to you
  • You are worth what was paid for you!  Speak as such and you will live as such.

Never underestimate how powerful the words you speak are... they truly can bring heaven to earth.  Thank you Steve and Wendy... you guys are amazing and that is no lie!

Friday, January 17, 2014

God Wants His Bride to Count to Three

You know that classic scene in the movie The Matrix where Neo's reality is about to unravel as Morpheus offers him a choice of the blue pill or the red pill.  We are told the choice of the blue pill would allow Neo to comfortably return to his veiled existence apart from the truth.  The choice of the red pill, however, would allow Neo's eyes to be opened to the full truth and revelation of the real world.  Of course to those who have seen the movie, we all know Neo chooses the red one and is forever changed... and we as Matrix fans said, "Amen!"

("The Matrix," Warner Bros. Studios, 1999)

It is no secret that The Matrix has many symbolic references to the Christian faith (i.e. free will, Trinity, supernatural abilities, the need for a Messiah, etc.).  The red pill/blue pill scene is just one of them.  Like the gift of free will, people have the choice to see the glorious (and sometimes painful) truth of God's reality by choosing the red, blood of Christ, pill.  Or, they can remain ignorant and in denial (which ultimately leads to destruction) and choose the blue pill.  As a follower of Jesus, all I can say is, "Thank you God.  Thank you for that precious 'red pill!'"

My life-changing choice to follow Jesus many years ago has allowed me, like Neo, to realize there is far more to my existence than what I could have ever known.  I no longer live in ignorance nor choose to seek to.  As a new creation, I have been given a full vantage point of God's law, God's grace, and God's glory upon me.  It is a beautiful collision and one that continues to be unveiled to me.

Still, even with this amazing grace, what God really wants for me (and everyone) is to keeping counting on to three.  Scripture argues there is a third 'pill' to choose from and this pill is far more precious than the first two.  This pill is His Presence.   Whether you are a follower of Christ or a pre-Christian, God truly wants to be in an intimate relationship with you.  Yes, the law (step one) will reveal His perfect desires and expectations of you.  His grace (step two) will reveal why you needed His son Jesus Christ as your Savior.  But step three, the one we don't continually seek to press into, is actually where the party really happens.  His Presence is where God's true beauty is revealed.  It is His Presence that literally brings Heaven to earth.  Being a friend of the Holy Spirit is the power source to all things heavenly and His Presence is the trump card that always wins any hand.

Whether it was Moses seeking the power and peace provided by God's Presence (Exodus 33:14), David seeking to bring the Ark (God's earthly Presence) back to bless Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15), or even Jesus promising to send the Holy Spirit in order us to be better off (John 16:7) , scripture is filled with how God wants to be one with us at all times.  And even though we know this is His choice for us, we fail God and don't choose the same for Him.  All too often we, as the Church, stop after choosing Christ's red pill.  We fall short of destiny and just settle for salvation to be our finish line.  This is a tragic mistake for any follower to do because God desires us to continually count to three and give us even more.

With no doubt or argument, choosing Jesus Christ as our Savior is HUGE to our walk with the Lord.  It truly changes everything.  But we must remember that salvation is the starting point not the finish line.  We must press in always (through prayer, through constant worship, through doing as Jesus commands, through sanctification, through earnestly seeking the spiritual gifts, through sharing His spiritual fruit, etc.) for His Presence.  His Presence is the one thing.

Continue to count to three Church.  God's Presence will turn law into love; grace into treasure; and allow worshipping Him to be the only 'pill' we'll choose forever.  In God's Presence... there is no substitute.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Maiden Voyage...

I have no idea how this will turn out....

Admittedly, the above is not the strongest way to start a new thing.  Still, it is not very often I will begin something not knowing the likely end result.  My risks are often calculated, the workload amount is planned, and the outcomes are predicted.  And for me, things are just easier when I know why I am doing whatever 'that thing' is.

For this blog (and this initial post), I can freely say I simply have no road map for what I am about to do or where it will lead.  I am hardly a blog connoisseur.  I am not even a blog creeper.  Still, I like to do new things and I am sure it will be a process of learning, so I am cool with that.  

I do know I am creating this blog for a particular person though and that person is me.  I really don't think the world needs another vocal opinion on top of all the other countless vocal opinions.  It seems like everyone has something to say and they jump on their keyboards to say it.  After a while, it just becomes noise to me.  A friend once shared that today's social media is like a "narcissistic's playground."  He was spot on.  While I enjoy a great conversation or an updated status just as much as anyone, we all just need to filter our e-comments.  I really don't need to know the smallest detail of your 3:17pm thought, or that you can't fall asleep at 3:17am (yet feel the urge to log on to Facebook and share this issue with your sleeping followers), or even the current status of your glands.  People simply don't care as much as you think they do.  Knowing this, my blogging goal is not to add any more fodder to web's well-fertilized electronic soil.  

Instead, I write this blog in order for me to write more often.  It is as simple as that.  I enjoy writing and I simply don't do it enough.  It is a craft and my craft needs a lot more honing.  I believe words have power and the written word carries extra weight as it can transport people's thoughts better than any other medium.  Because I respect good writing, I hope to become better at it.

I also hope to gain more ram space in my already cluttered mental hard-drive.  My aging microchip processor really needs less stuff to work through so it is time to get some of these thoughts down on 'paper.'  I really am not worried about offending anyone (which I am sure I will) or to have the next flashy "Top Ten Blog."  I really am not after that because I already have the one follower I am after... and that is me.  

So, feel free to share any posts if you find them worthy.  Feel free to give feedback and I will give you mine.  Keep it civil and I will as well.  Still, even with a request to avoid being rude, I suspect I will grow to learn where the delete button is anyways.  Ah well....  

So while I really don't know where this blog will go, I do know it will end the same way it began... which is with me and my thoughts.   

Still, I do hope you enjoy your visit to the LIVING room.