Well, It Happened….

My oldest son, Ben is 9, going on 14.  He’s growing up really fast, too fast actually.  The little things that we’ve always done are changing a bit as he grows older.  Good, normal changes, but changes nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, we were walking into church together and I went to grab his hand out of habit.  He politely held my hand briefly and then let go suddenly.  I asked him if he was embarrassed to hold my hand and he answered with a sheepish “kind of.”  I told him I understood, but inside, I knew that this was just the beginning of Ben’s different stages of independence.

For me, it’s a mixed bag of gratefulness and sadness.  I’m grateful that he’s confident enough to be his own person, not needing as much comfort or affection as when he was younger.  I’m sad because this is the end of a chapter.  My little-big boy requires a new kind of affection…..big kid affection consisting of fist bumps and “atta boys” vs. hand holding and other lovey dovey stuff.  Again, I’m glad that he’s growing up, but I was quickly reminded of how fast his childhood is flying by!

As parents, there is always the temptation to look ahead all the time, anticipating our kiddo’s future  or “next steps” while losing grip of the present.  We’ve all been there and while it’s normal, it can be distracting from all the good stuff going on right now.  Let’s not miss the good stuff friends.

In September, Ben will be 10 years old with 2 years left of elementary school.  Wow.  It’s hard to stomach that reality, it really is.  As a dad, the macho thing to do would be to beat my chest and say “that’s just life…only 8+ years until he’s 18 and out of the house!”  That’s not me though.  Instead, I find myself being sappy, sentimental and proud of the young man he’s becoming….feeling torn between wanting to freeze time and the desire to see him grow up to succeed in this world.

Being a parent hurts so good, it really does.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

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Putting Thoughts Into Action

please helpEvery single year during the holidays, I think about how I can serve others.  How I can give back.  How I can make an impact on somebody’s life for the good.

I imagine scenarios where I buy somebody’s groceries, or I pay somebody’s car off, or I show up in a Santa Claus costume and bring presents to kids in need.  My mind gets pretty creative during these daydreams.

Don’t get me wrong, these are great things to think about….better yet, these are awesome things that folks should be doing for each other.  On a personal level, that’s where I struggle….the whole DOING part.

Typically, I have a lot of ideas.  I think about them for a bit and then they subside after facing an obstacle or I can’t see the final outcome.  It’s kind of lazy really, and I’m fully guilty of that.

I’M SLOWLY STARTING TO CHANGE THOUGH.

Last Saturday, a couple buddies of mine and I went downtown Portland and fed some homeless folks.

The idea blossomed from a simple conversation at our church small group.  My friend David has a passion for feeding the homeless and helping them out with other basic needs such as providing clothes, toiletries and blankets for them.  So we talked about how cool it would be to serve in a soup kitchen or something like that.

Randomly, after that conversation, I thought about how cool it would be to simply make PB&J sandwiches and hand them out to folks on the street…..no church affiliation or anything, just a couple of us with willing feet to walk and willing hands to give…long story short, we ended up putting the talking into action.  Simple sandwiches turned into sack lunches, toiletries, cocoa, coffee, candy canes, granola bars, pears and peppermint patties 🙂  It’s beautiful how ideas evolve sometimes!

We all had the chance to serve together, to feel sympathy together, to get soaked in the rain together, to love together and most importantly, to be Jesus’s hands and feet together.

None of this would have happened if thoughts only stayed as thoughts.  Action happened….beautiful action….and the rest is history.

The moral of the story is this: Please don’t let time slip by as you sit on the sidelines.  If you feel inspired to help someone or bless someone, FREAKING DO IT!  Whether it’s the holidays or a Tuesday, Let your “DO” loose!  You and those you’re blessing won’t regret it!

 

God Bless,

Paul

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The Day I Flipped Kids Off in the School Bus

School busI was driving home from work today and found myself stopped at a traffic light.  Next to me was a car with 2 little girls in the back seat….maybe 4-6 years old.  I could see them looking over at me, trying to get my attention….you know, kid stuff.  I ignored them for a second and then suddenly looked over with the cheesiest smile that I could muster and waved wildly.  They started giggling, probably soaking in the success of getting an adult to react.  Glad I could contribute!

Rewind about 15 years or so and the story was completely different.

I was about 20, driving around, running an errand or something.  A bus full of school kids was in front of me and we stopped at an intersection.  The kids in the back were staring, being goofy…..you know, kid stuff.  I ignored them for a second and then suddenly looked up and…….flipped them the bird!  That’s right, I did it.  They looked shocked and patted each other on the back while other kids came to peek at the crazy guy in the car behind them.

Why did I react in such an immature way?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I was having a bad day, maybe I was insecure, maybe I was just being an idiot….yeah, probably the last one.  Either way, it wasn’t the proudest moment of my life.  15 years later, it did teach me a lesson though.

As I waved at the girls today, something dawned on me…..I am a completely different person now, than I was then.  I’m not just talking about maturity, I’m talking about motivations, perspective and heart change.

I would never even consider flipping off a bunch of kids…..kind of funny to write that sentence.  Really though, I just wanted to make those girls laugh…you know, have a story to tell their mom or whoever, that’s all.  I don’t know them, but I love them because their kids, God’s kids.

I think that’s my simple take away.  God has changed my heart.  He’s molding, bending and refining my heart to kind of look like His.  Because of that, I look at people differently, love differently, serve differently and just be me differently, it’s pretty wild.

Any who, He can do that to your heart too.  I’m sure there’s silly, dumb stuff that you’ve done….maybe you’re still doing it.  Hope and change are available to each of us, free of charge, debt paid on a wooden cross by a Guy named Jesus.

Think about it, soak it in, that heart change could be right around the corner!

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

Praying for our Enemies and Melting Butter

ButterI truly can’t think of a better time than now to do what’s seemingly the most unnatural……..to pray for our enemies.  Not only for those in our social circles, but for those around the world.

In all honesty, as a Christian, I’m called, you’re called, we’re all called to pray endlessly for each other. Even for those who hurt people.

Should we pray for murderers, terrorists, gossips, slanderers, liars and abusers?  You bet.

We all come from humble, simple, organic beginnings.  It’s a pretty weird concept to grasp.  Even the most evil among us were born into this world as babies.  They wake up everyday, they breathe, they eat, they drink, they sleep…..similar to all of us.  Somewhere along the line, something happened.  A paradigm shift occurred.  The bad trumped the good.

As human beings, we will never sever the root of evil, that’s God’s job.  He’ll complete His work someday, but for now, our job is to love, encourage and welcome God to change lives all around us.

Praying for our enemies doesn’t condone their senseless acts.  It just simply releases them to the One who created them.

Not because they deserve it, but because we all suck sometimes.  We all mess up in various ways, some of which are more serious than others.

There’s a change in the heart when we begin to lift others up in prayer.  It’s kind of like a hard stick of butter, freshly removed from the fridge….I see our hearts like that.  The longer the butter sits at room temperature, the softer it becomes.  Similarly, the more that we pray for others, the softer our heart becomes.  The defensive barriers slowly come down and God gives us His eyes for others.  Our judgement of other’s actions now becomes an understanding of their disposition….of the fallen condition as human beings that we all fall subject to.

So let’s pray friends.  Let’s pray for healing, for freedom, for God’s intercession in even the most wrecked lives.  For an understanding and belief of who Jesus is.  That’s the stuff that matters and that’s the stuff that flips worlds upside down.

We’re not capable of knowing other’s motives.  We’re not capable of understanding it all.  We’re only capable of conversation with the One who does.

 

God Bless,

Paul