Dad Fail

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son had a soccer game.  I’ve always loved watching him run around on the field, giving it full effort, working with his teammates, going for it.  To be honest, this last game didn’t really represent these things.  He wasn’t playing to his full potential and I could tell he was being timid out there.  As a dad, my competitive juices start flowing and I admit, it’s hard to be super positive after a game like that.

As we were walking back to the car, we recapped the game.  We talked about the challenges, set backs and some positive stuff as well.  I told him that he did great and that I was proud of him for getting out there and playing.  Then the dad-fail came….immediately after the compliment, I mentioned that he seemed a little tired, maybe intimidated and that he didn’t really seem to play like the kid I know.  Stupid mistake.

Soon after we got home, my son called me out.  With frustration in his voice, he told me that I had really discouraged him.  That I told him I was proud of him one second and then immediately went to something negative, deflating any encouragement given.  You know what, he was right, I messed up.

Sure, it’s ok to offer constructive criticism to our children, but at the proper time.  My timing was bad and I apologized.

What a great lesson for me to learn as a dad.  Sometimes, kids don’t need us to fix them or offer them advice.  Sometimes, they just  simply want to know that we’re proud of them.

God Bless,

Paul

My Talk With The Gas Station Guy

imageHave you ever had one of those unexpected conversations that leave you breathless?  Maybe touched?  Maybe sad?

I’ve had a few of them and the most recent occurred about a couple of weeks ago.

I was at the gas station, filling up before work that day.  The attendant was a familiar face and we have often chatted about guy stuff like trucks and wheels and other pass-the-time stuff.  Nothing too deep.

He seemed as though he was getting thinner over the last couple of years…..my judgment led me to think it was probably drugs or something….OH HOW EASY IT IS TO JUDGE PEOPLE THAT WE DON’T EVEN KNOW!

Come to find out, he’s been battling some form of kidney disease and it’s led to him losing like 150 lbs. in the last year or two.  He explained that it just kind of happened, that a lot of blood has been drawn and that they’re still trying to figure things out.  He said it would kill him eventually.  To twist my heart even more, he added that he’s ready to die, to go home to heaven.  When I asked “why,” he mentioned that his 2 year old daughter died in his arms about 30 years ago….she was involved in a horrible car accident.  He missed her very much and he wanted to hold his daughter again.  Man, what do you say to someone……there’s really nothing magical to offer during those moments.  The only things that I could provide were 2 listening ears and prayers to a God who is bigger than even this traumatic, horrible story.

I left the gas station with a heavy heart for this guy, for his daughter and for his family…..

God sometimes uses other’s tragedies to speak to us, doesn’t He?!   Like a wake-up call, we’re suddenly jolted from our own selfish worry-filled lives and our perspective tightens and focuses on very real, important things…..such as life, death, health, family, priorities, faith, etc.  In this case, I was reminded that our human bodies are so stinking fragile!  My friend’s condition could happen to any of us.  We’re not invincible and that’s humbling.

Another important lesson pushed it’s way to the surface….being emotionally present and available for other people is SO imperative to being a human being!  Even if that desperate, hurting person is a stranger or acquaintance or somebody of “lower status.”  It doesn’t matter.  God has called us to be loving, to place other’s needs before our own.  To listen.

Being present and available doesn’t mean that we need all the answers or solutions.  We just need to truly sympathize, that’s it!  We need to let our hearts break for others, even if it’s uncomfortable.  God takes care of the rest.  He has a way of radiating love through us…..we just need to be there.  To be open.

There are folks hurting all around us.  It’s easy to miss God’s open doors to be  an encouragement or a shoulder to cry on.  Please join me in seeking those moments and opportunities….to being open to them.  I’m slowly discovering that this is what being alive is truly about.

God Bless,

Paul

 

Why Our Stories Matter

magic open book of fantasy stories

I’m 35 years old and I’ve often wondered, “how in the world have I survived this long?”  Really, it’s a small miracle.

From my clumsy years as a child, to multiple crashes in cars and on bikes, to numerous jumps off bridges and cliffs, to many nights of partying and being stupid, to many crappy decisions…..God has held me in His hands for some reason.  Don’t ask me why….but He has.

Maybe God’s up to something in my life….maybe He has a plan for me…..maybe my story matters!

Over the years, I have made a horrible habit of minimizing myself…..I have placed the label of “normal” and “insignificant” and “ordinary” smack dab on my forehead.  I have assumed that my journey is as insignificant as a small feather, drifting in the ocean.

THIS MINDSET IS SELF-DEFEATING, TOXIC AND SOOOOOO WRONG!

The truth is, our stories hold power.  Every single experience has crafted you and me into the beautiful creations that we are!  These experiences, whether good or bad, can add encouragement and wisdom and flavor to the lives around us…..they might even alter somebody’s path completely!

In a big, big world, it can be tempting to forget that we were created by a big, big God who has big, big plans for each of us.

Slowly and deliberately, I’m discovering that I AM significant.  That even MY story matters.  The process has been pretty messy though and that’s ok!  I wouldn’t be Paul without gathering a few cool scars along the way.

Truly, I’ve had to adjust my perspective a lot.  I’m learning to look at the past, present and future through eternal eyes, trusting that God knows what He’s doing…..it’s really the only thing that makes sense to me…but man, it’s really hard to do sometimes.

Here’s the thing…Jesus loves you and He loves me.  He wants to fill each and every one of us with His joy and peace and perspective.  He wants to mold us, bend us and break us so that he can USE us for His awesome purposes.  That’s why we’re here!

You and I grow so differently which is why we each hold such beautiful, unique stories.

Maybe, just maybe, your story has a purpose.  The rough experiences and decisions from your past have no hold on your future……they only add to the depth of who you are…..if you are open.

Please, please, please, don’t hide who you are or mask where you’ve been.  Let your light shine!  Right now, this very second, you are breathing because of the grace of God.  He’s not finished with you yet.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

The Power of Encouragement

EncourageSometimes, the simplest, kindest of words can change a person’s day…..in some cases, those words can even alter somebody’s life path.

Every day, we have 3 choices: 1.  To encourage someone  2.  To tear someone down  3. To simply do nothing

As bad as it sounds, sometimes offering a word of encouragement can be a challenge.  Taking our eyes off of ourselves and noticing others takes intention and effort.

Offering encouragement can also be uncomfortable.  You run the risk of talking to a brick wall.  Of somebody not receiving your words in a way that you expected.  You run the risk of being vulnerable.

BUT THOSE WORDS OF YOURS ARE POWERFUL!!!!!!

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” -Proverbs 12:25

Isn’t that the truth!  Have you ever had a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” and then someone comes along and tells you that they appreciate you?  Maybe you received a hug or a high-five or a smile, that’s cool too….ENCOURAGEMENT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE VERBAL…..JUST FULL OF LOVE.

So today, I ENCOURAGE you to be an ENCOURAGEMENT to somebody, anybody…..I’ll try right along with you.

In a strange way, as we lift others up, we become empowered ourselves.  I think God designed it that way.

 

God Bless,

Paul