Monday, July 11, 2016

An open letter to all dads

This letter is written from the unrealistic perspective of an adolescent daughter.

Dear Daddy,

I've been thinking about my future lately, I sure hope you have too! You know, parenting is a full time job. I'm sure you know that but sometime you don't seem to act on it. I need you involved everyday of my life. You may think that Mom has me handled since we are both girls but dad what you don't realize is that while Mom really does play a large role in my life, it has been said that you play the greatest role ever in my life. I need you to be committed, not just verbally committed like saying "yeh yeh, i'm here for you". Being there and fulfilling your obligations are two different things. Most dads come home every night and say they are being there, but the good ones make an appoint to be home on time or early so they can assure me that i'll spend quality time with you. Dad, stop chasing the dollar and start chasing me! Stop trying to please every business associate you know and start trying to just make me feel loved, daily.  I'll only be little once and for some of my older peers that time is slipping away faster and faster as they grow up. Dad, you need to teach me everything you know and instill in me the values that made you who you are! I need to know how to pray, how to read the Bible, what is acceptable speech, who are acceptable friends, I need you to read to me and sit with me, pray with me and laugh with me, I need you to create such an amazing relationship with me that I would not think of making a life decision without first talking to you. That amazing relationship will bloom into mutual amazing respect when i'm a teenager and beyond. But Dad, you need to wake up! That maintenance on our relationship should have started when I was in the cradle. It's not too late now, dad, it will just take some hard dedicated work and some time. I don't want to be one of those girls who decides to run off and get married and you are scratching your head wondering where you went wrong. Or out of the blue I leave the Faith I was raised with leaving you in shock. Dad, you need to be constantly teaching and explaining things to me. You learned them over your 20,30,40 or so years and you only have a few to teach them to me. Don't give me a lame excuse that you don't have anything to talk about. You've been around a lot longer than I have! But remember dad, listen closely now, 'you can't learn anything while you are talking to me'. I want you to know me inside out. You need to sit, listen and admire the simple innocence that I am at this young age. Listen to what is important to me and take an interest in that. Don't get me wrong, I want to hear what you have to say too, but you will always have those same words, I am growing up fast. Sit with me dad, every night by my bed and let me talk, listen, take it in and admire the beauty that is your daughter who loves you unconditionally.  I need to have firm convicted teaching ingrained in me as truth and normal so that when a new idea or new way of thinking comes along or someone challenges my faith or tries to lead me astray I have something to base my opinions and decisions on. Dad, you don't want some guy to come into my life and just indoctrinate me with all his views and philosophies do you? I need to know how and what I believe, firmly, before anyone tries to show me abother way. It will happen if you don't invest the time in me now to teach teach teach and enjoy each other's company. I need a reference point for all things true when I get into my teenage years. I will easily be lead astray if you don't help me dad. Teach me, love me, hold me, kiss me, hug me, date me, listen to me and don't stop any of this as long as we both shall live. Make me a promise dad! All of us young girls have it born in us to seek out the company of a man. Dad, this HAS to be you!! If you don't teach us and show us, we won't know whats right and wrong and will seek out another boy that you don't approve of and is bad news for me. I won't know that sex outside of marriage is a bad thing but saved for marriage is a beautiful thing. I won't know that I should not drink alcohol or smoke! I won't know to avoid people of bad influence and to think of my spiritual well being before the simple feelings of others. I won't be able to recognize peer pressure and know that it can be a very bad thing when I run with the wrong crowd. I won't know that as a teenager it is possible to make some very bad decisions that can adversely affect me for the rest of my life!  I won't know that sleeping around is wrong. I won't know that it's dangerous to be dating at 15 years old. I won't know what kind of language is acceptable. I won't know a lot of things if you don't teach me dad because if you don't teach me, another boy will. Dad, if  you don't create that awesome open and respectful relationship now, I won't feel comfortable going to you for advice, especially when it's something I know you won't be happy about. And if I lack a relationship with you it will most likely be a boy that will lead me down a bad path and possibly to destruction. Dad, also, when I do something that disappoints you please try to stop, think then respond so that I'm not constantly getting grounded or yelled at and slowly a wall of resistance is built that I don't feel like climbing over every time I want to talk to you. Dad, if you raise me right, with respect and love, I will have so much admiration, love and respect that I will not even think of a boyfriend until I'm 18... or 25. I know my friends will be talking about boys their whole life because their parents put those thoughts in their heads, but not you dad, teach me right, please. Dad, I need you, all of us little girls need our dads but it seems that most of our dads are not listening. They say they are, they look like they are, but they are not. When one of my friends grows up, meets a guy, and conforms her life to his including his wrong spiritual views, her dad can't be surprised, after all, he was not there! Dad, don't neglect me. I need you, a lot and often. What are you saying by your actions is more important than me? Your job, your money, your friends, your hobbies, my brothers, helping others? There are many things that you can put ahead of me and while they are 'good' in themselves, if you neglect me while you are doing them, they are wrong! I need you, I am your first priority, I get you first, last and always. If I fail you it's most likely because you failed me first. Don't get it twisted dad, your charity starts at home. In so many words, dad, I am asking you to put your life on hold while I grow up. If you fail in this I will make decisions that will cause you much disappointment and  heartache. I will not do those things to hurt you, but simply because this is the life you handed me. My life is in your hands dad, do not let me down, I'm counting on you. Dad, I'm 3 years old, who else can I run to??

Love
your daughter

P.S. My brothers need you too. I'll try to talk them into writing to you sometime...













Wednesday, March 02, 2016

If tomorrow never comes...

Sometimes late at night
I lie awake and watch her sleeping
She's lost in peaceful dreams
So I turn out the lights and lay there in the dark
And the thought crosses my mind
If I never wake up in the morning
Would she ever doubt
The way I feel about her in my heart

If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That she's my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face this world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes

'Cause I've lost loved ones in my life
Who never knew how much I loved them
Now I live with the regret
That my true feelings for them never were revealed
So I made a promise to myself
To say each day how much she means to me
And avoid that circumstance
Where there's no second chance to tell her how I feel

'Cause if tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That she's my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face this world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes

If you want to hear the real version of this song check it out here CLICK LINK on you tube then read on...  

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring."  Proverbs 27:1

That verse comes the closest to saying straight up "tomorrow is not promised". All of us have lost loved ones long before we thought it was their time. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives,  brothers, sisters, friends or children, the list could go on. If we lost someone close do we really know how much they loved us? Do we say they loved us because it was something that we 'knew' even though they may not have said it or showed it very much? Were they one of those 'but you know how I feel about you' kind of people that did not show affection or say I love you? If that is the case it leaves a sad heart. 
This being written by a husband everything is written about a wife. But their are some wives that need a wake up call in the love and affection department and to show their husbands the respect, honor and love that the Bible commands.
We are not promised tomorrow and tomorrow may not come! That is a sobering thought that tonight when we lay our head down next to our wife, kiss her goodnight and close our eyes, we may not wake up to see her again. God may call us home. Or our wife may be called home. It is a real true possibility because no one knows the time that each of us has left on this earth. If that did happen, if I did not wake up tomorrow, would my wife know how much I loved her? Did I try in every way to show her every day that she's my only one? I have a marriage vow and a commitment and promise made before God and friends to honor, love, respect and protect her and there is no place for division in those vows! If we break them what else is left that is sacred. Like I say to my kids "A promise is a promise". In other words when you make a promise there is nothing greater and there is no excuse not to keep it, after all, a promise is a promise. I've been married for just over 7 years and while that seems like a short period of time, I hear people that are getting divorced say "We made it 10 years, we did good"? What? We have only 7 years in and we are just getting started!! In those 7 years you spend a lot of time around a wide variety of people and couples in a variety of places in their relationships. Some just married, some married 20 years, some engaged, some dating and some just starting to date etc. We notice little things about couples, it could be strangers or someone we are out with and we discuss these things... I'm sure you all do that. Some things blow me away the way some guys treat their wives (and vice versa).... and this is in public! Guys, the way you treat your kids and you wife around others will be multiplied when you are at home. Ever at a friends house and he 'tells' his wife to do something while he relaxes with the guys? "Hey 'wife' put the coffee on". " Hey  'wife'  the dishes need done".  'wife' the baby needs changed, 'wife' I want dinner on the table when I get home from work. The list could go on and on. Guys, your wife is your bride, your gift, the love of your life, your treasure as Solomon says,  the queen of your house, the mother of your children and the one you vowed to honor, respect and love with all of your heart!! If you even make a request or demand of your wife without the word please and end it with a question mark you don't deserve the woman that she is. Plain and simple you don't! You deserve the frying pan maybe but not that woman's love. Guys, our wives should be our top priority with only God above her. Someone once told me the priority list should be, "God, wife, kids" in that order. My thought was,  "He only says that because he does not have kids at home to deal with and prioritize", but later I realized how right he was. A kid centered home is a home with priorities out of order and you marriage will suffer. The stress builds up and you take it out on each other. Sarcasm sneaks in, finger pointing and blame. I was told by a husband that his wife would ask the same question all the time that he didn't have the answer to, his response was a sarcastic one that she knew wasn't serious. She would walk away and make her own decision on the matter and go on. After this went on for awhile he asked her "When I answer like that does it annoy you"? She answered "yes". He said "I thought you would have gotten the hint then". Come on man!! Is this really the relationship you want with your bride? With the limited time husbands spend with their wives on an average day, you are going to choose to use sarcasm instead of telling her how you really feel about her question? Communication is key.

"If I never wake up in the morning, would she ever doubt the way I feel about her in my heart?" 
There are two types of marriages and when I explain these two types our minds will race through all the ones we know and sort them out, and of course we see our own as the second type. But is it really? Deep down? The first type is what I call a business agreement marriage. The husband and wife both feel the same way about most of the main issues in life, they both want the same thing when it comes to kids and how they are raised, they have very similar wants and desires that they've talked about anyway. They 'get along' great and don't argue too much. She 'listens' to him and his final say. Most of the time they have no real issues to speak of..... but the marriage lacks,,,,, what's the word,,,,, lacks real substance, real passion, real love, real active pursuing self sacrificing daily affectionate passionate love. "But we have kids"..... bull crap! Kids only enhance it! Any couple that uses any excuse of why their marriage is anything less than type number two maybe shouldn't have gotten married.  It is a marriage that 'works' but is there actually anything else of value to it? Have you ever been around a married couple a lot and thought to yourself "I've never seen them touch each other, flirt, hug, kiss, laugh, snuggle........... and I've seen them a lot"? Where did the kids come from? ha. That's the first type!
The second type has a husband who makes his wife his first priority everyday. He never stops thinking about her and ways to make her happy, ways to honor and respect her. He tells her 5, no maybe 10 or 15 times a day that he loves her and makes sure she knows just how much! He demonstrates what love is to his kids and how to love a woman and their mother. He demonstrates by example that their is no place in our home for demands no matter who is talking or who is being talked to (except maybe in the bedroom) ha! They talk about things that upset them and work them out. He does everything he can to make her life and work easier. He is passionate about his wife and makes time for her. This second type of marriage prioritizes time together, daily, making it a priority to spend the last hour or two together to talk and enjoy each others company. Actively working things out so he can date his wife. Before you were married, you spent a lot of time together, you dated, you went to dinner, you spent time alone talking and playing games, you got her gifts and flowers... why did that all stop?? Don't say anything about your kids! Don't use them as an excuse of why you don't pursue your wife, why you aren't in love with her or why you don't passionately demonstrate your love and devotion to her everyday!  A husband once related to me how his wife never did this, always did that, beat him down, wore him out etc etc and he asked me how my wife and I get along so well. I told him I had a fail proof  plan for a great marriage. If everyday you both get up and think what you can do to make the others day better, never think of yourself, and in everything you do, do it for each other...... how can you go wrong? His response "Oh, well I could do that but she would never do it for me so it would never work". That, is a type 1 marriage that will probably never change. Husbands! you need to prioritize your wife, never stop thinking of her, never stop complimenting her and loving her no matter if she reciprocates it or not! It's all about how YOU treat her! 
If tomorrow never comes will she still be angry at the moron you were last night? Will she still be pissed because you yelled at her for not having dinner on when you got home?  Or will she remember how much you loved her without having to convince herself that you really did? Don't be one of those guys who tells your wife you love her once or twice a day. I don't care if you've been married for 45 years or just got married. Time should not matter when it comes to holding your bride, loving her, enjoying her, romancing her, thinking of her, kissing her and being her man, always thinking of ways to be of service to her! 

Every day, every minute you are around your bride treat her like tomorrow might not come, cause it might not! Make sure she knows what you think she knows. Treat her like the treasure that she is. Tell her again and again. Ask her if she knows. Tell her. Show her. Tell your children how much you love their mother and demonstrate it in their presence. Show them how to really love and respect a woman. If you have boys this is of monumental importance that you demonstrate how to respect and love a woman. Womanizers are not just something that 'happens'. If you know a man who disrespects women you have to wonder where his dad was during his growing years. When it comes to loving your bride tell her and show her so much that that smile and glow don't go away and when it does it lights back up again.

Acknowledge what your wife does. What she does for you, what she does for others and what she does for your family. Acknowledge and thank her when she does the dishes.......... "But that's her job, why would I thank her for doing what she is supposed to do?" You thank her because she IS doing the job that she is. Taking care of a house and family is no small task and a woman who chooses to do so deserves our thanks and appreciation. Even hear a guy joke around that 'the woman belongs in the kitchen'? He may make it out to be a joke, but I bet that if you were a fly on the wall you'd find out that he may only say it as a joke, but the attitude demonstrated in the daily grind says different. If tomorrow did not come would she suddenly feel free of your pressure to meet your standards when it comes to housework? Is she free to make her own rules and set her own schedule? Don't be a regret but instead be a joy to be around. Several wives have told me that if they could do it all over again they would never get married, they'd stay single their whole life. I questioned that maybe with the right person it would be different. They both had similar answers that no guy would be better than their current husband. How wrong they are but they will probably never know it! Don't be that husband that your wife despises. Be a breath of fresh air when you arrive home, not one of those "Here we go again" kind of husbands. Don't try to change her to be like you, it's not easy. Remember that the easiest thing for you to do, is be you. It's not easy for her to be you.  Thank her for everything she does, love her for who she is, date her, pursue her, treat her like your treasured bride that she is. That smile should not go away!

Tomorrow may not come. So each day. Live it with your wife in a way that if tomorrow does not come, with no words or convincing she will know in her heart and the world that witnessed your marriage will know the way you felt about her.

As a follow up note:
If all this sounds good but you find your spouse not responding to what you feel is the ultimate way to show love, maybe you just aren't speaking their language. More specifically, their Love Language. If that intrigues you, click this link and take the quiz http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day Anita

This post is for my daughter Anita. Although she is only 6 years old right now and won't read it,  maybe she will read this in 2025 or 2029 when she is 16 or 20 and her friends and peer pressure tell her she needs to have a boyfriend in her life because all of her friends do and it's valentine's day etc. etc. Too many young 15, 16, 17 year old girls are dating and have boyfriends and haven't even graduated from childhood yet. They went from playing dolls to holding a boy's hand and they don't really know why. Peer pressure and society telling them they need to have a boy in their life is giving them a raw deal. But back up a few years.... If a girl desires to have a boyfriend at 13 or 14 years old her father has missed something in her childhood. A dad needs to prioritize his daughters and work overtime to demonstrate what a real gentleman should be and how a real gentleman treats a woman. A dad needs to take every opportunity to love and prepare his daughter for dating and marriage. After all, we as parents are only preparing our daughters to grow up, marry and leave us. Genesis 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" The second chapter of the Bible, the second chapter of human history, God created a woman from man's rib for the sole purpose of helping a man, therefore leaving her mother and father to cleave to her husband. As much as that verse makes me glad I keep a shotgun handy, it is not just a friend's suggestion but instead it is the Gospel truth. Our daughters will grow up, find a man and leave us for him. Our job from day 1 is to prepare her and pray to God that the man she decides on has parents that put in the time to raise a Godly, God fearing young man for her. Dads, it's your responsibility to shape the young women in our lives, teaching them what it is to love the Lord and put Him first in our lives. You need to develop a relationship with her from infancy that she respects you and your wishes so much that it won't be a matter of her not sneaking out with a short skirt, earrings or high heels but more a matter of her not even having those desires because you raised her right and she knows what a respectable young lady dresses like. She knows the kind of girl that demands respect and honor rather than the kind of girl that demands men's second looks and wrong desires. Dads, you are the one that they need to hear it from. It is different coming from their dad than from their mom. Dad's need to have such a relationship with their daughters that it really matters to her what her dad thinks of her outfit, her shoes and her jewelry. But you need to speak with conviction and speak it as truth. I often struggled with the fact that when I tell my girl that "a respectable you girl wears skirts that come down to her knees" that I am at the same time telling her something about girls who wear short skirts. She will often ask me why someone else is wearing such a short skirt... But i've come to the conclusion that in the same way that I am trying to get her to the place where peer pressure does not have an effect on her, I have to ignore the pressure to not put such an emphasis on those things and not make them such a big deal because my peers don't make them a big deal with their daughters or even teach them in the same way, but instead let them where short skirts, high heels and gaudy adult like jewelry. Right is right and wrong is wrong. No young girl should be wearing a skirt that barely covers or 6" heels when they are 15 years old. There is no reason why a 12 year old needs to wear earrings. I explain to my daughters that there is no need to wear earrings because it only distracts from her beautiful face and there is no reason to die her hair because God knows what the best color for us is and he already made her beautiful with the hair He gave her. Are we ashamed of how God designed us? You get the point. God made her, she is beautiful just the way God created her, no need from jewelry to distract or makeup to hide her natural beauty. Every child and every daughter is beautiful and needs to hear this, often!! No we are not making self centered arrogant kids, we are assuring them that they can be comfortable in their own skin with adequate covering of their body. Kids that know their mom and dad love them and each other unconditionally are much more likely to chose a mate that has similar values as their own parents.
Ok, so now to get serious. Single girls and those who have doubts about their guy this is for you.
Girls, never settle for a guy! This is the reason why guys are supposed to pursue the girl and girls are never supposed to pursue a guy or ask him out. Girls, be pursued. Guys, pursue. Song of Solomon 4:9 “You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride.” Note the middle phrase "My treasure". If your guy or the guy you are interested in does not treat you like his treasure, walk away he's not worth your time. You had better be his treasure and his desire to please. If he does not bend over backwards and spend his spare time thinking of you and ways to make you happy he is not what a future husband should be and not worth your time. “Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?” Amos 3:3 In other words if you are not on the same page with marriage, with God, with goals and dreams you cannot walk together. What are his desires? Does he respect you? Did he ask your dad first if he could date you? Your daughter should respect and value your opinion and thoughts so much that she will tell the boy pursuing her that he should talk to her dad first before they go on a date. He should spend time at her house with her parents before they ever spend time alone. He should spend time at the dining room table with the girl's dad while he cleans his gun. That boy has got to know what your daughter means to you and that boy has to know how much you love your daughter's heart, that he better not break it. If he does not make your daughter's heart a priority he has no business dating her. Become the type of person that attracts the type of person you want to marry someday. Girls cannot dress and act like the world and be surprised when they attract guys of the world or guys with the desires of the world. You will attract the type of person you are. Girls don't look for a guy to come into your life to make it complete and fulfill it. You need to be comfortable and confident with your life before you can bring another person into it. Love yourself and your life before you bring anyone else into it.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27 If you are a Luke 10:27 girl you will attract a Luke 10:27 guy. Marriage does not complete you. It compliments you. Having issues in your life and looking for a guy to date will only add to your problems. Dating or marrying to 'complete' your life will hardly ever work. A girl cannot sit and wait for a man, looking at each guy and wondering if he will be the one that pursues her. You cannot do that, you will go mad! Don't wait on a guy to pursue you, wait on God. Whenever you’re feeling frustrated over how long it is taking a guy to notice and pursue you, remember that God is in control of timing, of this guy’s heart, of everything. Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” Notice it says the man finds his wife, not the other way around. You as ladies do not know the right time, but God does. Wait on Him and trust him. You can rush into a dating relationship with the wrong guy and get pressured into many things that you are not comfortable with, things that your dad warned you about, but all your friends are doing it and you don't want to be the odd one out. Then things go wrong one peer pressure leads to another and you are stuck with this boy, this kid for the rest of your life, or one of many other horrible options.
Several statements from girls I've heard:
  • "I keep thinking he might be the one but I can't think of being 'stuck' with him the rest of my life" - hold up! No one is forcing you to date or marry a guy. If you are not attracted to him just run away!! Stop making your life goal be a guy! Live your life to the fullest right now! Guys suck if they are not the right one! 
  • I've been praying for God to send me a guy and 'this guy' started showing me attention so I guess he is my answer to prayer". What?! In that statement she never mentions she met the most amazing man or she is so attracted to this man or loves spending time with this guy or anything like that but instead gives us the impression that she will marry this guy to obey God since she prayed and he started showing her attention.
I'm a believer and I love the Lord and seek His will. But this statement just seems crazy! And the first statement seems even more crazy. She says "I hope I'm not stuck with him....." No one is forcing you! It's not a kickball game in grade school where the dorkiest player gets picked last and your team is stuck with me! You were obligated to pick me in kickball but you are not obligated to marry me!! Dads, raise girls who know that!! Constantly convey to them the kind of man God has for them. Just wait!! The kind of respect the right guy will have for her. The things he will do for her and the things he will be willing to wait for.  
A dad has a huge responsibility to set an example for the kind of guy he wants his daughter to marry. There are two types of guys in the world: Godly guys who respect you, put you first and bend over backward for you and ungodly guys who are looking for what they can get, disrespect and only look out for what's in it for them. Raise your daughter to desire and attract a godly guy. If she doesn't, it's daddy's fault! You had her whole life to work on it. Girls, listen to your dads in this, no matter how old fashioned they seem. You will thank them on your wedding day and thank them when you have daughters who are being raised by the godly man they attracted and they waited for!

Single girls and you doubtful daters, listen: Is he willing to work, does he bend over backwards for you, is he man enough to talk to your dad, is he man enough to ask you on a date and pay, does he love the Lord first and always, was he attracted to your Christian beauty or  your short skirt? Answer those questioned and don't lower your standards!

Be a godly woman and a godly girl and it will attract a godly man. An ungodly man won't be attracted to you if you really love the Lord.

Mom, you don't get off without a warning. If you have daughters it's time to stop acting like a girl and more like a woman. Dress respectful!! Too many times Christian moms dress like I would never let my daughter dress! Husbands need to have the honor and respect from their wives to be able to talk to their wives about the influence they are having on their kids.

Girls: Don't pursue a boy; pursue God and He will provide the right one in His time! That's a guarantee! 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Mary got it right

Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
In church recently between drawing a dinosaur for the 10th time and doing a color by number with my little dude I hear Luke 10:38 quoted and it perked my ears up and I thought to myself "Mary got it right". She was not being lazy or shirking her duties & responsibilities, she was simply choosing what is better. And the end of the verse ".... but few things are needed". 
I think I come from a line of Martha's who can't sit down until ALL the work is done. And then when it's done we look around and try to find the little things that are there that bug us and clean those up. So many times I would neglect time with my children to do the dishes or run the sweeper or clean up the yard or garage. I could find a plethora of things to do thinking that as soon as I finish this chore I will sit down with the kids. Then 5 o'clock turns into 6 and 6 turns into 8 and then it's 8:30 and time to get the bedtime routine started. Many nights the chores and the things I thought were important were mundane cleaning or organizing, cleaning up clutter or doing yard work. Things that have no value when it comes to the spiritual welfare of my children. I could be sitting at the Master's feet, listening,, but instead I'm running here and there cleaning and doing chores in which Jesus said "few things are needed". When it comes to work at home or children we must choose children. I'm not saying that we no longer have to do chores or housework but that we should have a daily schedule and stick to it no matter what. It's a three-fold blessing- One you are setting aside a definite time with your kids for their sake, everyday. Two you are not risking running out of time for important things like Bible reading and prayer with them. Three you are conveying importance of things you choose for those times, like Bible reading, prayer, family time, game nights, movie nights and conversation. 
If an evening came to an end and the rug was vacuumed and the windows washed but the kids did not get the Word read to them, I failed. And yes, the many nights that I failed make my heart burn in my chest. Mary got it right, she did not care that the preparations were not under way or the house was not as clean as it should be, she was sitting at Jesus' feet, listening. It's time we take the time to sit as Jesus' feet Bible open or kneel at His feet in prayer just listening to what he has to tell us. Reading to our kids or praying with them at night. And oh, by the way, that's another whole topic about how you pray and speak to your children. The words you use with your children are a huge factor in the development of them as little humans. 
Make a plan. Here are some places to start with getting some Mary plans in the works regarding our kids. Got daughters? They are more fragile than boys. Dads, make plans for a one on one date night with your daughters at least once a month. Make a definite appoint to sit with your daughter every night, no exceptions, while she is in bed and let her talk, listen to what she has to say. Invite yourself in when she's little so you will still be invited in when she's a teenager. Moms, do girly stuff together. Crafts, dolls, sewing and anything else that is a girly thing to do. You have to guide them and help shape them into what little girls are supposed to be. If you don't , society will.
Boys? Make man time for them. Take them on a weekend trip once or twice a year, just dad and the boys. Fishing, camping or a convention about something they are into, a show or someplace they've been wanting to go to that requires a stay overnight or just make it require an overnight stay so you can get up and go out to breakfast. Your sons will only be young once. If we miss it now, it's gone forever. If we want them to have similar interests as ours we better start sharing our passion when they are 2, 3 or 4 and not try to get them interested when they are 16 and society and peer pressure already got them. All this said... be Mary, invest in spiritual things with your kids and your self. All this investment in your kids is listening to the Savior and really sitting and listening, like Mary. 
The Martha in us would want to stop and get everything just right with the house and yard and projects, the work never ends. The Martha in us never stops working. We always find something to get upset about and something to take our time and energy instead of what really needs to be done instead of focusing on the Word and the Lord. 
Mary got it right. I come from a line of Martha's that can't sit down and read if the dishes aren't done and can't play catch with the kids if ALL the work is not done. But Martha worried herself about unimportant things. Things that weren't needed. When we get invested in so much stuff that is not needed we try to cram it in our day and it only causes stress and stress causes a short temper,,,,, time to look at how Mary handled it, back up, sit down and listen. Jesus is waiting to teach if I would only listen. Too often we let the urgent take over what is truly needed. Spending time alone consistently with God and His word. Not once in awhile but consistently daily. As a Dad, a Christian and a husband there is a lot of unneeded things that can crowd out the truly important. With the Lord's help we can stop putting priority on the things that don't matter and focus on sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening, watching, reading and praying. With so many things and so many people vying for our time and our attention it is crucial to make time, prioritize and keep that time at the forefront of every day.
Mary did not stress over the things that 'needed' to be done, but instead sat and listened.
Sit and listen.

Taking care of our bodies



-----

As humans with a conscience we inherently take care of certain things. We don't dump motor oil in the river, we put most of our trash in the trash can, we never put harmful waste in the woods or a park, we take care of God's earth! Most of us would not think of polluting the environment on purpose. What about our lawn? Having a healthy green lawn is great but it doesn't happen all by itself! We need to feed it. We can grab any bag that says fertilizer. The wrong stuff will actually harm the lawn rather than help it. When we find the right stuff we still need to calculate the correct amount for the square footage we have otherwise we will think we are helping our lawn but in reality we are killing it! 
With all that being true and probably 99% of world population agreeing why then do people take such poor care of there bodies? In Christian circles it can be taboo to talk about eating food because of its known benefits, qualities or its purity. 
1 Corinthians 6:19 '...Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you ....' 
This verse is in the bible in the context of sexual immorality and there is a lot of arguments about using it out of context only negates your point you are trying to make. But in this case just think of this verse, your body, who made your body and if God would tell you the exact same thing in reference to all parts of taking care of your body. There is a fine line between taking care of your body and vanity in my opinion. We can cut out harmful 'foods' from our diets or we can search high and low and buy special food with additional benefits,and its all a matter of our goals and intentions. 
Going back to the motor oil in the river there is no argument that motor oil should never be dumped in the river or the city sewer system and in the same way there are items labeled food that should never pass our lips. 
Take Aspartame for example. Aspartame is an artificial chemical sweetener found in foods and drinks. It is not natural in any sense. The FDA approved this chemical because "all the properties can be broken down by the body". Our bodies can break down news paper too........ There are over 85 different side effects and symptoms directly linked to aspartame starting with dizziness and in some cases death. I don't think anyone ever died from water, broccoli or a chicken wing. 
So aspartame is one 'food' that is pretty serious and it is found in most diet soda and diet drinks. There are many other foods that make me wonder if Jesus were walking the earth if he would eat them. In Jesus day they didn't have all this heavily processed food. No white sugar, white flour etc. there was no packaged food filled with preservatives that would last him all 40 days in the desert. I believe as Christians we should read every food label and base our decision on what's inside. Can we pronounce all the ingredients? Do we know what all the ingredients are? Read all the ingredients, if we don't know what the are or how to pronounce them, put it back. Would we serve it to Jesus if he were with us? Would we give him a diet soda with aspartame or an iced tea with refined white sugar? Would we give him sweet potatoe casserole loaded with sugar and marshmallows? I think he would say no thank you. 
In Genesis 1:29 God said "I give you every seed bearing plant , on the face of the earth, and every tree yielding seed; these are yours for food" then later in Acts 10:13 God told Peter to "kill and eat" referring to all the birds and animals. So we have all fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, animals, birds and fish to eat what more could we ask for. He did not say "take all I have given you and process the goodness out of it and add unnatural chemicals to it and eat it. He said "eat". Heavily processed foods are not good for our bodies, it's a fact. Sugar laden snacks and junk food is not considering your body the Holy Spirit's temple. 
There are so many options out there when it comes to natural healthy foods that it seems insane that people would choose garbage like McDonald's or Tastykakes. 
Some say that you are being phanatical about food if you make the effort to find healthy options, or that you shouldn't choose one food over another because one is the healthier option. That we should eat whatever we want and pray for God to bless it and make it nourishing to our bodies. I don't know about that! We can be specific when we protect every other created thing but not our bodies? The only thing that is created that's a temple of the Holy Spirit? Seems strange. I think people just want to continue to eat the garbage they have always eaten and disregard how God really wants them to eat.
The 'because we've always done it" argument doesn't hold water. Dumping oil in the river is not as appalling as intaking harmful chemicals or seriously processed foods that our bodies were not created to process. 
Eating something because it's natural and healthy is not a human effort. Eating something to heal our body is. We will most likely feel a world of difference if you eat healthy and natural. 
There are so many natural foods available that it's crazy not to take advantage of their availability and goodness! Nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables etc. and hundreds of varieties!! All natural, all good, all healthy. 

We all have a choice when it comes to the food we choose to eat. It's time to make an effort to eat right. Eat as Jesus would. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

While I was away..

By the time I made it home, you were already in bed
Chubby cheek pressed to your a pillow by a bedtime book you read
And I noticed you looked older than you did yesterday
You’ve been growing up while I was away

You made a pile of leaves in the front yard, I guess it’s already fall
By the look of those pictures your mama took, the two of you had a ball
And It made me glad but a little sad to see those games you played
I missed a lot of smiles while I was away

And I found your note in the kitchen, it’s a real work of art
A stick man holding your stick hand with “Daddy” written in a heart
And it got me good cause I’ve understood what you meant to say
You’ve been missing me too while I was away
  
This dude is putting my worst fear into words! By nature, dads are more on the run than moms are with work every day and errands to run. Mom is around the house more and spends 2-3 times more time with kids. This song is really about working long and far away, but there can be many reasons why a dad does not see his kids grow up. His choice to work long hours is probably a big one, getting home after the kids are in bed and leaving before they wake. Dads are on the go so much with work and then they want to spend their weekends with hobbies and friends if not more work. We don't have to do that! Working 60-70 hours a week is not acceptable when we have children or wives. We need to learn to say no. Or change careers. I've read stories about Christian men who have changed careers to spend more time at home. Careers that did not require them to travel or stay away more than 8-9 hours a day. They took the pay cut or less hours and God blessed them over and over for making that right decision.
There is a panicky feeling that comes over me from time to time when I think that my little girl is now medium sized and will soon be my big girl. Or that my little dude will soon be too big to pick up and hold. Some may say he's too big to pick up now, but we don't! That's for sure. Some dads probably wish the day would not come when their daughters won't kiss them on the lips anymore, I fear the day my son won't. Innocence and love keeps the kisses coming. When I think about the hours there are in one week that my children are actually awake when im home.. about 5 hours each weekday how can anything else fit into that time? By the time dinner is done and any chore that needs my attention there is an hour or two left. I could selfishly take that time for myself or invest it in my children. Sometime we don't realize what a parent/child relationship really is. From day 1, we are obligated to invest in and perform maintenance on that relationship, and it never really ends. Every relationship requires maintenance to survive. Without it the relationship will eventually wither and die. Whether is a parent and child, husband and wife or plain old friends it has to be important enough to one party to keep the relationship going. We as parents may think that because we are their parent we will always be good. But if we fail to maintain that relationship, one day they will be at a critical point in their life and when we try to interject our thoughts their response is "Who do you think you are?" Whether we have 1 child or 10 we have the same obligation. I believe as parents we have the obligation to make each one of our children feel like a prized possession, a special child, loved beyond any doubt and to spend quality physical  One that knows your top priority is spending time with them and that you look forward to your daily time with them each day without exception. Working til 9pm or all day Saturday cannot allow us with enough time to spend with them.  There are many things that dads can do that can be called good and harmless but the deciding factor of those good and harmless things should be the impact on the kids and family as a whole. Not using the excuse that I am including one child so it's good. Any sacrifice ever made for the benefit of our children cannot be a bad one. If we as dads are doing something on a regular basis that's takes us from our family or causes dissention with our wife or kids, it's time to stop, evaluate our selfishness, and take the necessary actions. Nothing! no hobby, no career, no interest or way of life is worth missing a night or weekend with our children. Being home at a reasonable time on weekdays, spending time each night with each of our children and making sure we are home on weekends and not out with some selfish hobby is first priority for a Man of Integrity. Can I really go hunting, fishing, golfing, working or any selfish desire and still feel like a Man of integrity? The answer is a simple No. We may say that we voluntarily work every Saturday to provide for our families but that's total crap. You would be hard pressed to find one wife or child who would choose money over Dad on a Saturday or an evening. There is no excuse for not spending time with our family on a daily basis. Think of the many things in our daily life that we perform maintenance on, we fuel our car and do oil changes, fill our swimming pool, we wash the windows, cut the grass, drink water, charge our cell phones, sweep the floor and rake the leaves. The list is endless of things that we maintain on a regular basis because if we didn't all those things would just stop being useful to us and we'd neglect them and eventually just ignore them. Who wants to spend time in an overgrown yard with a swimming pool that has12" of green water in it? No one! So we maintain it daily so it's good to use. If we fail to perform daily maintenance on the relationship with our children or spouse, it will soon turn green and stagnant and will be avoided for the benefit of everyone. You can't ignore your swimming pool all summer and expect it to be crystal clear for your Labor Day pool party, in the same way you can't neglect spending quality time with your children daily and when you want to be the knight in shining armor at the time of crisis, wonder why things seem smelly and stagnant in your relationship! You lost that 10 years ago! Children don't change and walk out overnight. You've been forming and molding that rebel for the last 15 years so why is it a surprise?! There are no guarantees that children won't be influenced by the wrong person and led on a bad path. But there one thing is for sure. Equipping our children with Knowledge, Truth and Love is our best defense. Knowledge and truth are based on the Bible. Every family needs something to base what they call truth on otherwise you can end up with a 'because I said so' scenario which can easily cause rebellion in children as young as 2 or 3. Instilling in your children that the Bible is the infallible word of God at a young age is crucial to use it as the base of everything in life. Reading the Bible and praying with your children daily is how it all starts. As a parent you have to present the things you value and believe in as normal and true. Having the Bible as our rock and truth is our most valuable tool as a parent. Making our children fully aware of the Bible and it's truth is of the top priority, because everything else in their life is a reflection of how well their parents focused on that obligation. We can train and form our children into anything we want. Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it". That does not mean take them to church once a week and hope for the best. But it means to actively participate in the child's life with Bible based training and to actively think about and pray for your children throughout the day. When you make the choice to bring children into this world you are quietly stating to the world that you are willing going to sacrifice hobbies and other self serving extracurricular activities until your kids have grown. Forcing one of your kids to take up the same hobby as you as a means of justification does not work either. You will then find yourself spending most of your time with one and forget the 99. Focus on your Family and forget yourself; you will be on the right track. Working hard to make a dollar only makes us spend more frivolously anyway. We might use the excuse that I have mouths to feed and kids to dress so I need to work to pay for it. Do they really need new $100 jeans and the latest name in designer clothes? 
One sure fire way to drive a wedge between parent and child is to have one way conversations. To tell a child what to do or not do without an in depth explanation is wrong on several levels. First of all it creates a wall where their should be communication. Second When you explain your decisions it conveys love. Someone once told me that their dad would just say things like "you can't do this or don't do that" and would never give an explanation even when they were asked for it by their kids. Taking the time to explain decisions to your children is very important, life slows down at that point, they look at you intently as you prove you are Dad instead of just barking orders and telling them you are their dad. Need to talk to your children, stop, hold their hands or their body, look at their eyes, make sure they are focused on you, then speak. They should continue to focus while you talk. Make sure you allow them to ask any questions they have and respond to every one. When it comes to our peers as adults I always say You can't learn anything while you are talking and the same goes for us and our children. Want to learn about your children? Shut up and listen. Sit by their bed for 15 minutes at night and listen to what they have to day. Whether it's about their hobby, a book they read, friends at school, a boyfriend or girlfriend............... You thought I meant only little kids?! Not at all, got a 15 year old? Sit in. But start that relationship once she starts talking, don't wait, time will pass by so fast it will make your head spin. As that little boy or girl gets older the conversation will change. From toys and stories to truth and life the conversations are endless. We only get one shot and it's something we cannot afford to mess up. Our child's life depends on it!
The older I get and the older my children get I'm more convinced that the control a parent has over the life their children live as they reach the adult age is great! It is hugely controlled by the choices a parent makes in those early years; Choices for dads such as where they choose to be or what they choose to do when they are home, Choices by parents about what they talk about in front of their kids, how critical they are about other people and the gossip their kids hear from them. A parent's daily life, no matter how extreme, is setting the standard as 'normal' for their kids to follow. What do we want our kids to see as normal? Seeing them only on the weekends because we book too much work and can't get it all done? A dad that has a hobby that takes him from his family every Saturday? Do we want normal to be for them to see me leave all the work at home to their mom and to see her struggle to hold it together because of that? I don't think so. The normal I want my kids to see is that their dad would sacrifice anything for them and their mom. I want them to know normal is that there is no distinction in work at home as to who's job it is, dad and mom share it all. Normal is kids have to see by example that I love their mom by the way I treat her, love her and respect her. My boys need to see by example that their dad loves their mom and they need to see how to do it right! Demonstrating love to their mom is teaching them what's normal. We can only demonstrate what we want our kids to see as normal, if we are there. Working late being gone on Saturday is a sure fire way to show we don't prioritize our children. Kids don't wait to be influenced. If we don't make them a priority, someone else will. TV, internet, bad influences the list goes on. It's not even a case of their peers having bad intentions, it's simply a matter of their dad being there to filter the junk they come home with each day! How could a dad not make that a priority! Are we that selfish and self centered that we'd leave our own children to the wolves to be raised? No matter what excuse we will make or what justification we come up with, if we are gone evenings and weekends, we voluntarily choose to neglect our kids leaving someone else to raise our kids and set the standard for them and we probably won't thank them.
I'm not saying that mom's can't raise children. Most moms do an exceptional job. But ask which ones would choose to do it without a legitimate dad in the picture.... none. Dad is a name that all dads must live up to. It's a tall order and big shoes to fill. It's not enough to just support them financially. Committing to a quantity of quality time is another story. 
If a dad looks at his 16 year old girl who is living life all wrong, who is a mirror image of the world and wonders where it went so wrong...  The answer is simple,"the moment you walked out the door instead of staying with her". Because it's a fact that she yearned for your attention when she was little. She waited for just a moment of your attention. If you had been paying attention you would have seen the sparkle in her eye! Look forward to seeing her everyday after work! Make your children feel like a million bucks, everyday! Do our kids fear our arrival or wait on the doorstep? Treat your daughters like the princess they are. Take them on dates whether they are 4 or 40 years old. As long as they live under your roof visit their bedroom after she's in and talk or more importantly, listen. Every night! Once a month take her on a date. Demonstrate how a boy should treat her, talk about it. Set an example for your boys of how they should treat a woman. By treating their mother and sisters with respect, we can show by example what a real man does. Talk about what's acceptable and what's not, explain the lifelong consequences of bad decisions. There are countless ideas, precepts and principles that we can teach our children on one condition, we cannot do it while we are away.
  Compassionate, loving and caring people weren't born that way, something affected them and made an impression. If you know a person who is not loving or kind or has some other social awkwardness it is most likely a direct result of how their parents raised them and who was around. 
There is so much responsibility that a parent has and there are so many things to do and teach our kids every day that if done correctly and responsibly there would be no time left for anything else in our lives. It's time to take inventory of our time, how we have allotted the minutes we are given each day. Do our kids take last priority? It would probably shock most dads to write down the hours in a day and list how they spent each minute of the day. What percentage would kids get? 2%? 5%  Dads who spend an hour a day focused on their kids spend less than 5% of their life with their kids. That's a horrible thought. And even though we may think we are beyond that, think about the amount of direct one-on-one time, uninterrupted, cell phone free time we have with our kids. Maybe it's even less than 5%! We can reverse the cycle if we only be there. 
One of my biggest fears is one day there will be a ..... 'While I was away' moment. 


And for every dollar I earn there’s a lesson you learn without me there

And every day I’m on the go, I’m praying that you know your daddy cared
Cause the hardest part about working hard ain’t about the bills I gotta pay
It’s you growing up while I was away