“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!

 

Advertisements

No Man Is A Failure Who Has Friends

Yesterday was a day of celebration for the family of some of my closest friends. It was the wedding day of their youngest daughter Ashley, and the ceremony was perfect and she was stunning in her wedding gown. As I was enjoying my morning coffee before leaving for the festivities, I was spending time looking through pictures on my Facebook page. As I clicked from picture to picture I began to reminisce about the things Ashley’s dad and I had done together. You see Terry and I were very good friends; more brothers actually than friends. He was the man I could go to with anything and everything, and I was this for him too. Ours was the picture of what a true friendship should be.

The reason I say “we were friends” is because he died and went to be with the Lord almost a year ago. It was a shock to say the least; it was sudden and totally unexpected. Now I won’t wax philosophical about his passing, because this is not the purpose of my blog tonight. I’m writing about friendship and what it means to be a friend. And I do know I will see him again one day. I guess this means we are still friends. Ha!

Back in May, I, along with six other friends of mine received a text from the bride to be, asking if we would be willing to stand in for her dad in some of the pictures and then dance with her in his place. To say I was honored is an understatement. “I answered back immediately my acceptance of her offer by replying, “Absolutely, I’d be honored to.”

Dancing with Ashely

With tears in our eyes as we danced yesterday, I told her how proud I was of her and the woman she has become, and how proud I knew her dad was of her. This was an easy thing to tell her too, because Terry and I had talked about her often and he always beamed when her name came up in conversation. My friend loved his two girls and was just about the proudest dad I’ve ever known. No matter what was going on in Heather or Ashley’s lives he could never say enough good things about them. It was one of the qualities I loved the most about Terry. He was such an awesome cheerleader for his kids.

Rainbow

As we celebrated the ceremony with Ashley and Jason, off to the left of us all in the sky a beautiful rainbow appeared. I couldn’t help but think about how Terry probably asked God to do a little something special for his baby girl since it was her special day. It is exactly the type of thing he would do too. Yesterday was just an awesome day; one I won’t soon forget.

While yesterday was my good friend’s daughter’s day, I couldn’t help but think a little bit about how much this friendship we took the time to cultivate has meant to both of our families. It may have started out as a mutual love of movies and pop culture, but grew into a brotherhood which has enabled our two families to become one. And that my friends is a good thing, and I am eternally grateful for it too.

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?

Dad Your Ringtone Is Too Loud

My cell phone rang out loud and clear, and my excitement grew as I crossed the living room to pick it up.  The ringtone which was playing out loud and strong was The Avengers theme song; this is what I have set as my closest male friends contact ring.  It helps me to screen calls; yeah we all do it and if you haven’t set ringtones for your contacts, maybe you should think about it.

Anyway, as I went to pick it up, I mentioned how without my Otterbox cover on my phone its ring was even louder than normal.  My twenty-one year old daughter made the comment, “Yeah, but dad, it’s SO loud!”  I laughed as I answered the phone and talked to my friend.

In case you’re wondering why I like my ringtone loud, it’s simply because I want to know when someone is calling me.  In this world where almost everyone has a phone in their pocket, I think it’s rude if you don’t answer it.  Most of the time when my kids don’t answer their phone when I call, it’s because they have it on silent or vibrate.

Now I understand the importance of using the silence button.  If I’m at church, the movies or in an important meeting at work, I always put it on vibrate.  But other than when I’m extremely busy, I answer my phone if it rings.

I’ve told my friends and family to call me anytime, but if I don’t answer them it’s because I’m too busy at the moment to take the call, not because I’m ignoring them.  There is another side to this however.  I also tell them if it is an emergency and I don’t answer the first time, to immediately call me back.  If I see someone is calling me back to back then I know it is not just a social call.

I really try and answer the phone whenever I can, but this helps them to understand I am not just blowing them off.  Which is exactly how I feel when I call someone and they don’t pick up.  For instance, when I call my kids and they don’t respond; either by text or answering the phone, my mind can go to dark places quickly, and I have to fight off the fear which tries to take my heart.

Most of the time, they won’t text me back because they’re driving (and this is a good thing) then they forget to respond once they arrive at their destination.  I try not to take it personally, but you know sometimes us dads can go ballistic over the dumbest little things.

So I’ve got a suggestion for you, pick up the phone when it rings and if it’s on silent, don’t leave it that way all the time.  Silence your phone only when it is really important.  So there you have it, my rant for the day. Have a great day, and answer your dang phone!!!

 

It’s the Little Things

Fire raced across the living room floor where only moments before, John had led his children and wife to the front door and safety.  The fire was quickly moving through the house, turning to ash everything it touched in its journey.  It was 2am and even though it was cold outside, the heat from the house fire was keeping him warm as he watched the smoke curl upwards towards the night sky.  John was thankful he’d been able to get his family out in time.

Fire can destroy a home in a matter of minutes, taking away the place you live.  And while this type of disaster is horrible, there is one even more insidious which brings about the same results; although it usually takes years to accomplish.  

The little critters known as termites eat away at the wood in your home, and while these tiny little insects may seem insignificant to you because of their size, if left unchecked they will bring your house down around you.

The big things which happen in your life are noticeable because they’re right there in your face, but it’s the little things which can actually do more damage.  This is because it happens over a period of time and you don’t notice the changes as they’re happening.  It may take years before you actually see what they have done.

One thing you can do to prevent this type of devastation is to take preventative measures.  If you’ll step up and do things to check on the status of your house periodically, you can, like Barney Fife said in “The Andy Griffith Show” nip it in the bud.

Just like these little things can destroy your home, the same can be said for your marriage.  Many married men find out too late that their wife no longer has any interest in them and possibly has even taken the kids and left.  They scratch their heads and wonder where it all went wrong.

It’s because they didn’t take any preventative measures to assure their relationship was doing well.  Over time they allowed little things to come in and eat away at their relationship.  Not big things mind you, but little things here and there like ignoring the trash, leaving their underwear on the floor, only talking to her about paying the bills or ignoring her feelings about various things.  The list goes on and on.

If we’re not careful men, married life can end up like a business.  And neither one of you got married so you could be in a business venture.  Just as the little things can erode your relationship, doing little things for each other can strengthen it too.  Remembering her birthday or your anniversary without her having to remind you, bringing home her favorite candy or flowers for no apparent reason or making sure the trash is taken care of, all of these things can go a long way to making her feel loved.

After all isn’t this what we all want in our marriages, to be loved?  If you’ll focus on her needs, taking the appropriate measures to do the little things which tell her you love her every day, it’ll be just like taking preventative measures to make sure you don’t have any of those pesky little insects devouring your home from the inside.

Now you know what I think, tell me what you think.