I’m a Superhero…Well at Least My Boys Think so

Publicity still emulating screen shot.

Today, my boys and I tackled the job of raking leaves.  I love these kinds of projects, where I can include both boys.

As we were working away, something occurred to me….my boys think I’m pretty awesome.  I don’t mean this in a conceited or prideful way by any means.  The fact is that I’m their dad, I love them, I protect them, and I’m present.  For these things, they look up to me.

The whole being “present” thing is what really sunk in….

When my wife and I found out that we were having our first boy, I was nervous.  I was worried about all of the skills and talents that I didn’t have.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be the manly example that my son needed.  I truly questioned my adequacy as a father.  Maybe that’s a normal thing, I don’t know.

6 years later, I now have two sons and I’ve discovered a very important lesson:  my boys don’t need me to know everything to view me as a superhero….they just need me to be present.  That’s it.  I need to be around, involved and full of love and support….always.

In their eyes, I’m the protector of the universe, I can fight off the bad people with a simple flex of the bicep, I can fix the most complicated problems and I can put batteries in anything!  That’s what they want and that’s what they need.  A dad who is around and a dad who would give anything to protect them.

All of the skills, abilities, schooling, money or toys don’t matter…..none of it matters………if there is not the love, attentiveness and consistency that a father should provide for his children.  This has been quite a relief for me.  The reason is because it doesn’t matter how I was raised or what I know or don’t know.  What matters is the condition of my heart and how that directly reflects in the way that I lead my sons.  That’s the good stuff.

Day by day, with God’s help, I will continue this awesome journey of being a dad/superhero.  Flying, x-ray vision or spider webs may not be my strength, but I’m here, with open arms, walking in-step with my son’s lives.  I’ll settle for just being “Dad” for now…ok, Daderman is cool too.

What’s a good dad / father-figure look like to you?

God Bless,

Paul

Thankful to be Sick

Cold?

I am never sick.  Really, I haven’t been sick for years.  I’ve gotten a few sniffles, but they’ve gone away over night.  I feel blessed in that regard.

I have just started my vacation.  I have a week off to spend with the family and guess what…..I’m sick.  Nothing too crazy, but I’m really not up to full speed.

My first reaction was to get frustrated at the timing of it all.  I mean, come on dude, really?  The weird thing is that I have somehow been able to find the positive side of feeling this way, despite this “inconvenient” timing…..it slows me down.

I basically sat around the house yesterday and watched football.   I had the chance to play with my boys at the park.  I had the chance to sit quietly in a room with my wife and just be.  I had the chance to cuddle with my son on the couch.  It was therapeutic, simple and awesome.

I’m thankful that God has reminded me of this simple lesson: life happens to us….sometimes at the most inconvenient times….the rest is up to us….how we choose to handle whatever life dishes us…it’s a matter of perspective and it’s a matter of who we lean on during the tough times.

I have been reminded of this through the simple trial of having a cold.  It’s the small, day-to-day tests that trip us up the most sometimes…wouldn’t you agree?

Today, I’m choosing to be content through my sniffles, sore throat and bad sleep.  I have the opportunity to slow down, smell the roses (ok, I can’t smell much, so never mind that statement) and be still.

If only I could master this perspective in other areas of life.  I’ll keep trying, one day at a time, one trial at a time.  God is good.

God Bless,

Paul

Putting Make-Up On My Face

make-up sort

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Are you content with how you look?  Are you happy with how God made you?

For many years, I honestly wasn’t able to look in the mirror without wincing.  Without wishing I looked different.  Without being ashamed of my appearance.

I understand that most of the time, you don’t hear guys talk about this stuff.  You know, the whole appearance thing.  We, as dudes, are supposed to be free-spirited, not caring about the way we look……..or smell…..after all, we’re guys right?  I guess I come from a different mold.

I remember in high school, we had dancing as part of our P.E. class.  I had the opportunity of dancing with an older girl who I thought was smokin’ hot.  I had acne pretty bad during those days and I lived with 3 women….you know what that means…..plenty of cover-up was available to put on those pesky pimples.  So I did it….I put freaking make-up on my face so my older dance partner (who didn’t even know my name) wouldn’t see my zits.  I’m sure it was as obvious as day….I was a dude, who had no idea how to apply make-up to my face.

Oh man, it’s pretty funny, looking back to those times of insecurity.  It sure was tragic at the time though.  I’m not sure where my shame came from.  Was it the divorce?  The bullying?  What was it?  I am truly not sure.  I do know that I have fought this battle my whole life….

In the Bible, there are verses that state how we were each woven together in our mother’s womb.  That God knows the number of hairs on our heads.  That nothing, nor anyone, nor any power can separate us from God’s love…..these are the types of verses that changed my own view of myself…namely, my opinion of how I looked.

Once I actually accepted the truth that I was a special creation and that I was passionately loved, my heart changed.  Through the changing of my heart, my view of myself changed.  It’s crazy how that happens….I think it was intended that way.

Once my heart changed and I was finally able to accept myself, that acceptance overflowed to those around me.  Now I see others differently.  That they, too, are God’s creation and He passionately loves them….it’s a chain effect……a beautiful syncing of heart change and outward action.

I love myself because God loves me.  I am special, unique and delicately formed and molded….kind of like a piece of pottery.  The same goes for you too.  We’re all in this together and we’re all made the same: beautifully.

I’m proud to say that I no longer dabble in the whole make-up scene.  Instead, I’ve let my beard grow long, because I’m a man and I just don’t care…wink, wink.

What insecurities have you battled with?  How did you get past the struggle?

God Bless,

Paul

Nervous Giving and My Safeway Experience

Groceries

For some reason, I can get a little nervous when it comes to giving.  I don’t know if it’s because I second-guess my intentions, or if I’m afraid of people’s reactions.  I love to give, I really do, I’m just uneasy about it at times.

A prime example was last year.  I was at Safeway, waiting in the check-out line.  I felt the urge to buy the groceries for the lady behind me.  I get those urges here and there.  So I started strategizing.  How should I go about telling her that I’m buying her groceries?  Should I use cash or card?  Should I smile?  How do I explain this to the checker without making a scene?  I started to get anxious for some reason.  It was silly.

So, I decided to pay for my own groceries and get cash back.  I would pay for her groceries that way.  So I proceeded with my plan.  My heart began to race as the cashier handed me the cash….with money in hand, I laid the cash on the counter, looked at the gal behind me and said “Merry Christmas”……I then proceeded rapidly to the exit…until I heard a loud voice shouting “sir, you forgot your groceries!”  I then had to go back, kind of embarrassed (I was obviously a novice giver) and blushing…..I made a joke of it, wished them all a good night and I was on my way.  It didn’t go quite as smoothly as I would have liked, but that’s ok.  It shouldn’t be about giving the “right” way anyways.  I just hope I made her smile….

Why in the world did I make that experience more complicated than it should have been?  Maybe it’s because giving isn’t really a natural thing.  We are all selfish people at the root of it.  It takes effort and discipline to look outside our own little “fortresses of me” that we’ve built.  Sure, some of us are more inclined to give than others, but it still takes the effort of listening to that still small voice nudging you to step outside yourself.

Another thing….I wonder if sometimes, giving isn’t as much about the person receiving as it is the person giving.  For me, I feel connected to somebody when I give outside of my comfort zone.  It’s like I’m taking a shallow step into another person’s mud puddle….just enough to make it ripple a bit.  Just that simple interaction can bring life into focus.  It’s also energizing to make people happy.  It’s a beautiful thing.

So next time this whole giving thing comes up again, I’m gonna try to keep it simple.  I’ll work on trusting my intentions and just sharing what resources the good Lord has placed in my life.  After all, the whole giving thing isn’t about me anyways.  It’s just a mere reflection of what Christ did for each and every one of us.

Have you ever been called to give something outside of your comfort zone?

God Bless,

Paul

Falling Asleep During a Marriage Video….With My Wife Right Next to Me

Salaryman asleep on the Tokyo Subway Original ...

We have a great friend at church who was kind enough to let us borrow a video series on marriage.  They’re kinda like counseling videos.  We’re not in dire need of them or anything, he just thought we could benefit from the cool lessons taught.  We were very grateful for that.

A few weeks ago, we decided to watch the 1st video of the series after the boys went down for bed.  We found our way to the couch, sat down, and prepared ourselves to learn.

The first 30 minutes were great.  It was funny, relatable and sincere…….then I hit a wall.  I started the infamous head nodding.  you know, it’s like when you’re fighting sleep with all your might, but you just can’t keep your head up.  You don’t think anybody notices, but I’m sure that it’s pretty obvious.

The unfortunate part about the situation was that my wife was sitting right behind me…..she was watching my every nod……I’m sure she was both amused and annoyed with my head-nod side-show.

After a few minutes of entertainment, my wife decided to get up and call it a night.  I don’t blame her.

I kind of panicked.  I was caught red-handed….I just didn’t want to admit it…..I had fallen asleep during a video that was meant to better our marriage……what a dork.  If this happened to one of my buddies, I would totally make fun of him for this.

So, I decided to try to convince my wife that what she saw was a magical illusion.  I wasn’t really nodding my head, I was just trying to get comfortable.  She didn’t buy it, nor should she have.  So, I then decided to jump on her case for getting frustrated in the first place.  It was her fault, not mine…..bad, hurtful move.

So, in a few minutes, I went from relaxing with the wife, to practically falling asleep, to lying about it, to placing blame and being prideful.  Looks pretty ugly.  It was ugly actually.

There’s a positive spin to this whole story though.  I learned a lot about myself that night.  I learned that, if I would have just taken responsibility for my actions, all would have been so much better.  I learned that pride sneaks up so quickly and can damage even the strongest of relationships.  I learned that, it’s ok to mess up, but it’s not ok to blame someone else for my mess ups….that’s just being immature.

Stories like this are humbling to share, but I feel they can have some value.  Often times, when we have failed the hardest, we gain the most wisdom and understanding.  It’s weird how it works, but it’s true.  I’m grateful to serve a God that uses the rough times to mold me and shape me into the man He wants me to be.  I’m also thankful to have a wife that is patient with my molding and shaping.

What challenges and/or failures have taught you the most?

God Bless,

Paul

One Thing We All Have in Common

Window To The Soul

On my way to work this morning, I was just looking around at the different vehicles surrounding me in traffic.  You ever do that?  I got to thinking about each person.  They each have places to go, things to do and people to see.  I wonder about them.  I wonder how they’re doing and if they’re happy.

I then look at myself.  I look at my life and my own issues.  Maybe there’s somebody looking through their foggy windows at me, thinking the same thing.

Something occurred to me today…..we all make such quick and rash judgements about each other don’t we?  Initially our judgement is typically based on outward appearance, it’s all we know.  I guess we can’t blame ourselves too much…it’s a human thing to do…..shallow, but human.  God looks at each of us much differently.

Underneath our stuff, our clothes, our skin and bones, lies something that we each have in common as human beings…..our soul, our spirit, our conscience, or whatever you want to call it.  It’s what makes us go.

If and when I find myself making quick judgements, I try to look at people’s souls.  I’m not sure what a soul looks like, but I envision a glowing ball, sitting in the chest of every person.  We all have them and we’re all on the same playing field, aren’t we?  We’re all searching, we’re all surviving, we’re all desiring the best for ourselves and our families.  The best thing of all is this:  we are all God’s creations.  We are each made for a specific purpose.  He loves each of us the exact same.  Better yet, he sent Jesus to die for every single one of our little “glow ball” souls.  That’s the main course right there.  Pretty awesome.

When I maintain this perspective, every day, I start to look at people differently.  I have more compassion.  I have more sympathy.  I have a greater need to share the Good News.  I am able to show more grace and forgiveness.  My judgement goes away.  I gain more patience.  I’m an overall better Paul.  Is it by my efforts alone?  Absolutely not.  It’s the Holy Spirit, teaching me how to look at others the same way that God looks at me.  It’s a mystery, but it’s sure profound.

Have you ever caught yourself judging others?  How about people you’ve never met?

God Bless,

Paul

Writing for the Wrong Reasons

Writing

A couple of months ago, I had to take a break from writing.

The reason is kind of embarrassing…….ok, really embarrassing……I was writing for other people.  I was writing to please others.  There was pride involved.  I was constantly worried about who would comment, “like” or affirm my “great” words of wisdom.

It was not a good place to be in, so I stopped.  I tried not to think about it.

I had to re-focus on why I enjoyed writing and what led me to start this new venture of sharing my thoughts in the first place.

I was driving down the freeway about 6 months ago and I seriously heard a still, small voice tell me, “Paul, you need to start writing.”  I know it sounds weird.  You know, the whole “God spoke to me” thing.  It’s true.  It was kind of like those random thoughts you think while day dreaming, but it was persistent.  I prayed about it, hoping that I was just thinking weird thoughts.

For about 2 months, I couldn’t shake it.  The thoughts just kept coming.  One day, I basically just prayed, “Alright God, I’m trusting that what you are saying is true.  I will start writing.  I don’t know why, but I will, in faith.”  I felt a peace right then.

Since then, I’ve been writing my thoughts here, on this blog.  I truly have NO idea why I am writing, but I’m continuing to trust.  I’m doing my best to yield to a bigger purpose, whatever that is.  Hoping and knowing that God has a plan for my words…..not for my glory, but His.

You see, I’m not talented, God is.  My words are God’s words, speaking through my fingers.

This is where I need to stay….giving all the glory to Jesus.  It’s not about importance, it’s about obedience.  Being His hands and feet.  Using the skills and abilities that He has given me.

For me, I feel called to write down words.  Again, I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m trusting.  Hoping that the Lord will grant me the patience and grace as I attempt to follow His lead.

What are you being called to do?  How have you responded?

God Bless,

Paul