“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” ~ Tolkien

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10

If I was to to tell you I had a life verse, this would be it. For as long as I can remember any time I saw the numbers 10:10 on a digital clock, ClockI would say this passage out loud. And it was these very words of Jesus which held despair and darkness at bay on the worst day of my life. I call this passage a defining Scripture; one which helps you know what is going on in your life at any given moment. It’s pretty simple too; if you have been stolen from, there is death or destruction in your life, then it is from the thief, aka the devil. If your life is rich and full, then it comes from Jesus. John 10:10 shows you who is behind every situation you face in life.

On April 6, 2010 my youngest son Noah in a moment of weakness took his own life. There were no warning signs, he made a decision (albeit a dumb one) and ended his life. In the hours following Noah’s death, I was faced with a choice; to turn from God or towards Him. It was during this time, standing by the trampoline my kids had spent countless hours on, I began to question God. As my questioning turned quickly into anger, I began a downward spiral into an abyss of darkness I had never before experienced. Doubt, confusion and anger began to fill my mind. It was just then as my thoughts were becoming darker, that a sliver of light broke through and I snapped out of it.

Recognizing the voice of God in my spirit, He brought John 10:10 back to my mind. As I stood there in my pain pondering it, the realization came to me about who was actually to blame for my son’s death; it was the devil and not God. As the light of this knowledge flooded my mind pushing back the dark thoughts of the enemy I stood up straighter and thanked God for saving me in that instant. From that moment on I was able to move forward and lead my family down the path towards recovery in the way He wanted. It’s taken years for my family to move from tragedy to healing but we would never had made it this far without God’s Word guiding us.

I’m nothing special, God doesn’t like me better than you, He wants to use Scripture the same way in your life, but you have to want it. You can do it, all you have to do is start reading the Bible, putting His Word into your heart. Had I not quoted John 10:10 to myself for so many years, I would never have been able to hear God speak it to me so clearly when it really mattered. You can do it, don’t wait, get into the Bible today and see how far God takes you!

Living in a story much larger than my own…won’t you join me? You Can Do It!

 

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Watch What You’re Saying?

I am many things; a man, husband, father, friend, saint, sinner, employee, comic relief, coffee drinker, movie watcher…the list goes on and on.  Suffice it to say, I wear a variety hats, just as do you.  But there is one word which describes me best and that word is Christian.

I am a follower of Christ.  And while I have the same passions as other men, and may not always be the best example of what a Christian should be, I do try to live to the best of my abilities every day.  The reason I’m telling you this is because today’s blog is being written from a very blatant Christian point of view and I don’t want you to misunderstand where I am coming from.

The Bible says in Romans 4:17b; “…even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were.”  This is a foundational truth; calling things which be not as though they were.  It’s how God created everything; He thought about it, then said it, and it was.  This is how He has made us too; we believe something in our hearts and say it with our mouths, then we have what we say.  (Perhaps not immediately, but eventually).

I thought about this in regards to our children and what we say about them.  I heard a lady say the other day that her little boy was in his terrible twos.  I’m sure you’ve heard this term before, perhaps you’ve even said this about your own children.  She said this as an excuse for the way her son was behaving; he was screaming and acting out, getting on everyone’s nerves.  I thought to myself; no, he is acting this way because she is allowing it, instead of disciplining him and making him mind her.

When you tell someone your child is in their “terrible twos”, what are you expecting from your kid; good behavior or bad?  Obviously you believe in your heart your baby is going to act bad when they turn two and then when you say they are in their terrible two’s you just got what you said.  You believed it in your heart and said it with your mouth and created something just like God did when He created the world.

Your mouth is more powerful than you realize. It is a well spring from where you create your world and the world your children live in as well. This may be one of the most difficult things I have ever had to learn, because it is so easy to say negative things about your life instead of positive, wouldn’t you agree? Negative words flow so easy from my mouth, while encouraging and uplifting words I have to seriously work to say.

I remember one time when my youngest son Noah was about six or seven; his mother had asked him to do something and he began muttering and complaining about it. As he was headed out the front door to do what he’d been told, Cheryl said to him, “Noah, remember you can have what you say.” to which he responded as he passed through the door, “I got a million bucks!”

Noah may have been saying that facetiously at the moment and it does make me chuckle whenever I think about it, but the Scripture I stated at the beginning of this blog is the truth and there is no doubt in my mind Noah would have had what he said eventually if he’d  actually believed it in his heart.

This principle works in both the negative and positive aspects of life. You can have what you say for good or bad; it’s up to you and no one else. If you want it, then go out and get it. Change what you’re saying to match the dreams and desires you have for your life and then dare to believe what God says is true and you will have those things.

And instead of believing the worst for your kids, why not speak positive things about them instead of negative. Instead of the terrible twos, why not call them the terrific twos? It’s all in what you say after all. 

Raising Teens Is Like Herding Cats

Personally I’ve never herded cats, but I’d like to think I could if called upon. The reason I feel I would be qualified to do this task is because I did raise (with the help and majority of work from my bride) teenagers. I remember thinking having teenagers in my home would be a breeze, because kids up to this point hadn’t really been too much of a challenge for us; of course there were the opportunities for discipline and both my wife and I to grow in patience, but we had really good kids who for the most part were just that…kids

Something happened one day when my oldest son had been thirteen for a few months; I’m not proud of it, but it changed the direction my parenting skills would go for the rest of my life. We were cleaning the house in preparation for a get together with friends; it was something the entire family was looking forward to, and as I passed Micah’s room I heard some awful music playing. Turning to see what he was listening to, it turned out to be some type of screaming style of something people refer to as music but to me was crap and I said as much.

Not to bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say Micah and I had our first knock down drag out fight that day. There was a lot of screaming and yelling and even a little cussing on my part. Yeah, great Christian father there right, but don’t judge me too harshly, I’m sure you’ve done the same (or worse) and yes I did fix it with my son later asking him to forgive me for losing my cool with him.

What this taught me was the importance of walking in patience and learning how to choose which battles to fight; because if you were unaware of this, not all of the things you dislike about your teenager are things you need to discipline and change. Sometimes they need the opportunity to learn about these things for themselves, so back off and let them grow into the adults they are going to become.

Most parents of teens I see have a hard time letting go of their parental expectations. What I mean by this is when your kids were tiny, they looked to you to make decisions for them; what to wear, what to eat, etc. But as they hit the years when their hormones start to rage they are going through so much inside they don’t need you pushing them from the outside. Of course there are things which are non-negotiable; respect for others, authority and themselves, the basics. But something which always helped me was a quote from Princess Leia in Star Wars when she was a prisoner on the Death Star,

“The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

Mom and dad, the tighter you try to grip your teenagers world, the more they will slip away from you. I know it’s hard to admit, but you’ve got to give them a little bit of freedom. I’m not talking about letting them experience things which will hurt them like partying, having premarital sex and things like this, but give them the opportunity to experience freedom for themselves a little bit.

One of the things which happens when you hold on too tightly is when they do find a little freedom they go buck wild and end up hurting themselves. I know you want what is best for your child, but doing everything for them or sheltering them from everything doesn’t help them, it causes them to be bratty or unable to interact with other people well. They become unproductive citizens or just selfish.

One of the keys to herding cats is backing off and motivating them in the direction you want them to go; not by pushing but guiding. It’s up to you mom and dad to be a guiding influence in your teens life now, not the dictator who makes them tow the line and be like you. Just like cats, teens don’t respond well to this either.

 

Stop Screwing Around And Control Your Kid

Several years ago when I owned my own retail shoe store; a grandmother brought her grandson in to look for shoes.  I was checking merchandise in on the computer, while my employee Jason was helping them.  This little youngster was about three years old, and decided it would be fun to start kicking a mirror which was on the front of the counter where I was working.

After a few minutes of this, the kid literally kicking the mirror over and over, I leaned over the counter and said, “Young man, you need to stop that.”  He looked up at me and then ran over to his grandmother.  I stepped into the back room to put some shoes up, and this lady said to Jason, “He’s got a lot of nerve telling my grandson what to do.”

“Well mam, he wouldn’t stop kicking the mirror, I’m pretty sure Dave just didn’t want it to get broken.”

“We don’t have to put up with this kind of service, we’re leaving!”  And she grabbed the boy and they left.  When I came out of the back room, Jason told me what had happened, and I just laughed.  I hated losing a sale, but this woman needed to learn how to control her kid.

One of my pet peeves is people who refuse to control their children.  It’s your job as the parent to see to it your little ones aren’t causing disturbances and acting up in public.  You’re the parent, so be the parent.  Stop telling your kids that someone is going to “get them” if they don’t quit misbehaving, and discipline them.

Too many parents are trying to be friends with their children instead of teaching them how they should act when they are in public.  And parents it is YOUR responsibility to do this; not teachers, grandparents, or Sunday school teachers.

If your kid acts up, get a small paddle and swat their behind with it. (Never use your hands to spank.)  And I’m not talking about abusing your kids by hitting them so hard you bruise them.  (This is actually a misdemeanor in Oklahoma.)  What I’m talking about is behavior control through the use of corporal punishment.

If your child is acting up, tell them to stop it.  If they don’t then explain to them if they don’t stop you will take them to the car and spank them.  If they persist, then take them to the car and spank them.  If you say you’re going to do something, then do it.  The worst thing you can do when raising children is to not keep your word.

Most parents don’t want to discipline because it is inconvenient for them.  I don’t know how many times my wife would leave a basket full of groceries in the store and march our kids out to the van to spank one of them.  It isn’t easy to administer discipline, because it takes commitment on your part to see it through, every time.

I know your kid is probably the exception to the rule and never needs discipline (yeah right) but if you’re  going to take them out in public, do the rest of us a favor and make them mind instead of letting them run all over you. Be the parent, grandparent or guardian your child actually needs, not the one you want to be.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?

Watch Your Lips Junior

My oldest son was around fifteen and we were driving somewhere together when he decided pestering me was a good idea. He was just playing around and being obnoxious when I said to him, “Micah you better stop it or I’m going to punch you in the face.”

He replied laughing, “Oh dad, come on, you know you’re not going to punch me in the face.” and he went back to pestering me.

About ten minutes passed when I reached over and punched him in the jaw.  “Hey! You hit me! Why’d you do that for?”

“Because you said I’d never do that.”

Suffice it to say the pestering stopped. (At least for the remainder of the ride anyway.)  I don’t advocate punching your children in the face, and this is the only time I’ve ever done it.  I used it as a teachable moment for my son.

Lip service is the advocacy, adherence, or allegiance expressed in words but not backed by deeds.  Have you ever known anyone who did this?  They talked a good game, but just didn’t seem to have what was needed to back up all the talk?  It can be infuriating when someone does this.

One thing men should do above all others is keep their word.  If you tell someone you’re going to do something, then do it.  My kids will tell you as they were growing up they heard the phrase, “We’ll see.” more than just about any other.  I learned early on if I told my kids we were going to do something and didn’t, they would call me on it.

Whenever they would ask if we were going to do something, and I wasn’t sure whether or not I could come through on it, I’d say, “We’ll see.”  It got to the point where when I would say this; the kids would groan and say, “Dad that means we’re not going to do it.”  I know they probably wished I would have stopped saying it, but keeping my word to them was too important to me.

Years ago if two men were doing business and came to an agreement, they would shake on it.  Once they had done this, it was a binding agreement and to break it was unthinkable.  In today’s world, we have to sign legal documents to get men to honor their word.  It’s sad to think you can’t trust a man unless you have a piece of paper stating he will do what he said.  When did men give up their integrity?

I want to be known as a man of my word.  I want people to say, “David was a man who always did what he said he was going to do.” I don’t embarrass easily, but it would cause me great shame if I told someone I would do something and then didn’t follow through.

There have been times where I said I would do something, and either ran out of time, or ended up going in another direction and the thing I said I would do failed to be done.  In these instances, I have always contacted the person and explained what happened, promising to get to it as soon as time allowed.

Being a man of your word also means you put the things you want to do on hold sometimes.  This is a difficult area for a lot of men too, because they are looking out for what’s in their best interest regardless of what they’ve said.  If you’re like this, then you should change.

Stop telling people you’re going to do something if you’re not really going to do it.  It’s kind of like the story about the boy who cried wolf, before long people will stop believing anything you say, and when you find yourself needing them, they won’t be there for you.

Being a man means you keep your word, with no exceptions.  The only thing we as men can truly lay claim to in this life is our name and our word.  The first becomes great, only if you hold to the second.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?

Lies, Lies, Everywhere Lies

One time I lied about my son to my wife.  I told her he was being disruptive and causing problems with the customers in my shoe store and he needed to go home with her.  He was just a little boy at the time, probably five or six, and the look on his face as I stood there and lied about what he was doing was a mixture of shock and disappointment.  Not to mention the fact his mother got very upset with him for doing the supposed things I had said he’d done. It was not one of my best days as a dad.

Lies.  We’ve all told them; either to get out of trouble, to save someone’s feelings or just to get past some uncomfortable situation in our lives.  And if you say you’ve never told a lie, well you just did.

No one is immune from being put into a position to tell a lie, but it’s like the old saying goes, “You may not be able to keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can sure keep him from building a nest.” It’s  what we do in these situations which makes the difference.

Remember the story of Pinocchio?  The little wooden puppet who came to life in the workshop of Geppetto, and every time he would tell a lie his nose would grow.  Wouldn’t this be awesome if this happened in real life too?  There would be no guessing who was lying to us, not to mention it would be a great deterrent to keep us from telling lies as well.  But alas, this is not the case; so it falls to us to use self control and discipline instead.

Lying seems to have become the norm in our society.  It seems I expect to hear lies than truth any more. Or at the very least I’ve come to expect that I will have to weed out the lies in order to actually find the truth; which is exhausting.

It’s uncomfortable to tell the truth though isn’t it?  For example say your friend is learning to play the banjo. They’ve been at it for a year or so, and you know they are not really getting any better, but when asked by them how their latest song sounds, you reply, “Hey, that sounds great!  When are you going to produce a CD?”  What will they take a way from your words? They will believe they sound better, when in all reality they aren’t.

Yeah Dave, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings, it’s easier just to tell a little white lie. I understand, I wouldn’t eant to hurt their feelings either, but by telling them they sound really good don’t you think maybe it will hurt them in the long run?  

The Bible encourages us to speak the truth in love.  Perhaps instead of lying, you could say something like this, “You know, that song needs a little work, but keep at it, you are sounding better than you did a couple of months ago.”

Constructive criticism can seem hurtful if you let it, but it really is a good thing if you’ll let it be. I remember a few years back asking a friend to read through and help me edit a book I was writing.  When I sent it to her, I felt as if I had written the next best seller. 

 When she replied a few days later with her critiques I was devastated.  I thought, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”  But after a few days, I re-read her comments and looked at them objectively and I realized she was right and made the changes. Her truthful comments made my book so much better.

The bottom line is we should never lie, because it goes against everything a man should stand for.  If you are honest at the core of who you are, people will notice and then you can and will make the difference in this life you are destined to. You’ve got what it takes to do this, so stop telling lies and begin cultivating honesty in your life and see what happens. You may be surprised by the reactions.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Spank That Butt!

Have you ever been out having dinner with friends or trying to enjoy a movie, only for there to be  a family there not controlling their kids and letting them run wild?  Kids like this can ruin a pleasant evening out, not to mention bring added stress if it turns out it’s your kids causing the problems.

My bride and I were at dinner last night with friends and we told them to bring their little girl Mia with them.  Afterwards, Cheryl and I talked about how good she was on our way home.  We were together with them for about three hours and she never acted up, even though at one point she did say, “Mommy, I’m ready to go home.”  It was the most pleasant evening with a four year old I’ve ever had.

I wish I could say this was true of all little kids, but unfortunately it is not.  One of the reasons Mia is such a good girl is because her mom and dad know the importance of discipline.  As we were leaving from having our dessert, Mia’s mom told her to thank me for buying her dinner.  She became bashful and didn’t want to.  For my part, I was okay if she didn’t say it, but I knew what Amberly was doing so I stood there in uncomfortable silence waiting for her to thank me.

When it was apparent she wasn’t going to thank me, her mother said to thank me or they were going to the restroom and have a talk.  They ended up going for a talk, so I went outside where Cheryl and Will were waiting.  Will gave me a “what’s going on look” and I told him they were in the restroom talking.  He grinned and said, “Oh she probably needed it.”  When the ladies came outside from their talk, without hesitation, Mia looked right at me and said in a loud voice, “Thank you for my dinner.”  The main reasons she did this is because her mom and dad know the importance of discipline and spanking her when she needs it.

Now before you get mad, hear me out.  When I talk about spanking, I’m talking about doing it the correct way; using it to reinforce positive behaviour.  I am not talking about spanking your child because they are annoying you; this is wrong and should never be what spanking is about.  And if this is what you’re doing with your kids, stop it.

My bride and I spanked all three of our kids, and despite what the “experts” try and say, none of them turned out to be homicidal maniacs, killers or horrible people. Spanking your child in the correct fashion is a deterrent to bad behaviour not an encouragement of it.

The biggest problem with children acting up in public is the parents.  If they would be consistent in their discipline and actually make their kids mind, 99% of the problems would disappear.  Unfortunately parents for some reason or other choose not to do anything about their children, thinking it will all work out in the end.  And yes, it usually does, they become bratty teenagers, then adults who refuse to take any responsibility for their actions later on in life.

One last thought on this for today; when you spank, please don’t use your hand, use a wooden paddle.  Your hands were designed to hold and love your children, not hit them.  Plus hitting with your hands makes them fear you, not the paddle which administers the discipline.  When you use a paddle, they will come to respect it.  So don’t wait, start spanking that butt today.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?