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

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Love The Scab On My Forehead

This last weekend, my family took a trip to Kennewick, WA to visit some family.  We always enjoy packing up the family and taking a little road trip now and again.

My boys were most excited to stay in the hotel…..mainly because of the pool and breakfast.  They also look forward to the extra candy, video game time and soda at restaurants (I know, we’re pretty horrible parents)…I don’t blame them, that’s exciting stuff man!

After we finally arrived to the hotel, stretched our legs and headed up to our room, it was time to hit the water baby!  We threw on our trunks, anticipating some good fun!

After splashing around a little, things started to get serious.  Our Ninja Turtle inner tube suddenly became a Frisbee and my oldest looked like a shot put, being tossed through the air, landing with a dramatic splash and tons of “do it again dad!” pleas.  That’s fun stuff right there!

Next, it was dad’s turn to show off.  I decided to show Ben my under water back flip skills…..funny because it’s not even an awesome trick, ha!  So, I proceeded to flip around in 3ish feet of water and SMACK!, I hit my head on the bottom of the pool.  It actually was my forehead and part of my nose that took the brunt of my stupidity.  The “oh man, that’s gonna leave a mark” thought came to mind as I came to the surface.  “Hey Ben, do I have a red mark on my forehead?”  “Haha, yeah dad and it’s bleeding too!”  Thanks for the sympathy son.

So there you go, I had to attend a graduation party with a face that looked as though it got beat with a bar stool.  Awesome!

Really though, I don’t mind the little war scars created by having fun with my boys.  Here’s my point:  I would rather have a tooth knocked out or arm broken or eye blackened or forehead scraped vs. missing out on memories, sitting on the sidelines while my boys quickly become men.  Although I’m a scabby guy now, I look in the mirror and don’t see a scab on my face (ok, I guess I do, it’s hard to miss), I see a fun time and good laughs had by all.  That’s what life’s all about!  That’s what being a dad is all about!

So, bring on the scabs, scars or whatever!  I look forward to many more over the years…..hopefully small scars though, I’m getting old.

God Bless,

Paul

 

The Night We Looked Into The Mirror Together

mirrorThe night was winding down and it was time to brush teeth and get ready for bed.  It was just me and Ben, my oldest son in the bathroom.  After we were all done going through the routine, I felt the need to have him do something different….something outside of our usual order of things……I said, “come here Ben, let’s look into the mirror together….what do you see?”  We stood there for a few seconds, my hands on his shoulders…my adult frame acting as a large backdrop against his small 8-year-old body.  It was a great dad/son moment for me….pretty cool.  He sat there pondering as his eyes wandered, investigating all of his features.  “I see my birth mark.”  That is the first thing Ben stated.  We went down the list of his other physical features like ears, blue eyes, hair, etc.  He then said “I think I look weird.”  I appreciated his child-like simplicity and honesty.  At first, his statement made me kinda sad, but it created an awesome opportunity to talk about some good things.

I think we’ve all gone through stages in life where we think we look “weird” or we’re not satisfied with who we are as people.  I know I have.  Growing up, looking in the mirror was a constant struggle for me.  For some reason, I was ashamed of myself…..I’m not sure why, but I was.  Because of this, my time with Ben in front of the mirror was special.

We were able to discuss how important it is to be different.  That we are all special and handcrafted by a God who loves us.  That we’re all weird, but in a good way!  That, out of the billions of people alive today, not one person is exactly like the other.  That Ben is special and every mark and crease and gap and color and detail makes up his very own identity.  Fantastic!

Next, the conversation led to purpose and exploring God’s plan for Ben.  I asked him what he thought he was created for.  He said, “well I know one thing that I was created for.  I think I am a peace-maker.”  That was awesome to hear.  I wish I was that insightful when I was a kid!  He then asked, “do you think God has a plan for me?  Do you think He has a plan for you, dad?”  I obviously gave an enthusiastic “absolutely!” and explained that we are all created for a purpose.  That, as we go through life, our purpose will hopefully become clearer.  I also explained that even though I’m an adult, I’m still trying to figure out my purpose, but I know it’s out there, ready for me to find!  He nodded his head in agreement, shifted his eyes to the side as he pondered the conversation, we gave hugs and “I love you’s” and then we were done.  Simple stuff, yet such a sweet space in time.

I’m learning that our children often become what we speak into them.  As parents, we are shepherds, doing our best to guide our little ones down the right road.  Although we can’t force our children to become anything or anyone, we can sure clear a path for them, love them, speak confidence into their lives and pray for them….trusting that God has them in His hands.

I invite you to join me in being intentional with our kids our nephews and nieces, our cousins, our friend’s kids….basically any kids that we have contact and relationship with.  They need us….oh yes, little imperfect “us.”

We are responsible for molding the next generation…..what a privilege and honor!

 

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

Scars Are Cool

bruise on the boy's legThe other day, my oldest son fell off his bike and hurt his knee.  There was some blood and dirt involved.  You know, the usual carnage that we’ve all experienced as bike-riding kids.

He whined a little and had that, “I’m scared, make it all better!” thing going on.  It was pretty cute really.  Kind of a “welcome to manhood” moment.

So I did what any loving dad would do……I made light of it.  I started cheering him on and emphasized that scars were cool.  After that, I pulled out my phone and took some pictures.  His grimace slowly became a grin.

After the drama subsided, I was able share some of my own bloody knee stories.  I told him about the different scars that I’ve collected and the accidents that caused them.  He thought that was pretty cool and the pain/fear suddenly became a distant memory.  We were both now a part of the “scar club.”

My son felt comforted by the fact that I’ve experienced pain too.  That I’m human.  That I understand.

My boys want and need a dad who shows them his scars too.  I think all kids want that.  It opens avenues of trust.

You see, if our only role in a child’s life is that of power, a disconnect happens.  The transparency is lost and the door of communication remains slightly cracked at best.

My goal as a dad is to provide freedom.  Freedom to fail, freedom to hurt, freedom to be independent, freedom to choose, freedom to approach me with anything, anytime, anywhere……because I love my kids.  Period.

Within that freedom also lies boundaries and discipline.  There’s a fine balance there….one that will take me a lifetime to figure out, story by story, scrape by scrape.  By God’s grace only.

My son acquired a cool scar that day.  I acquired a full heart as we bonded over cool stuff like blood and dirt.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

THE DRUNK GUY IN THE ORANGE LEISURE SUIT

In his handsMy 2 boys and I went to the grocery store for a few things the other day.  We had a great time just being boys and making a mess of the free cookies that the store offers.

As we were leaving, I noticed this dude standing by the door.  It caught me by surprise.  He had an orange leisure suit on and he was wobbling something terrible…..obviously intoxicated in some way.  He was talking pretty loudly to others coming in and out of the store.  He had the look as if he could do something really stupid at any minute.  It was our turn to walk by….so we proceeded, attempting to ignore his glassy-eyed stare coming from our right and we hurriedly made our way to the truck.

The guy was following people around a bit, getting in their space.  We were parked too close for comfort.  I firmly grasped my oldest son’s shoulders and threw him in the backseat and told him to buckle up…he looked confused.  I quickly buckled my youngest into his car seat and we were ready to roll.

My boys had no idea that there was the possibility of danger or confrontation.  They were in their own worlds, thinking about what book to read when we got home and what juice was available to drink.

If I were by myself, I wouldn’t be concerned with this guy.  My boys were with me though and it’s my job to look out for them.  I felt the need to protect them, to get them in the truck as soon as possible, to shelter them from the possibility of harm.

I can’t help but relate this to everyday life….to our relationship with God.  So often, we wander around, trying to do what’s best.  Instead of thinking about books or juice, we’re preoccupied with our phones, Facebook, accomplishments and worry.  Our heads are in the sand sometimes, and God has been known to grasp our shoulders firmly and place us in a different spot…..He does this because He loves us and wants to protect us from harm.

God protects us in many ways….He uses people, circumstances, words, successes, failures, you name it.  He’s pretty creative.

Just like my son, we become confused.  We don’t understand why things are happening.  Instead of being thankful for His provision, we sink back in fear, pull the overs over our faces and cry out “why?!”  It’s so easy to fall into this pattern….you know, challenging God, wanting to know the answers…never knowing that circumstances are in place not to harm us, but to protect us.  Trust is a tough pill to swallow, but we’re called to do it.

Once we were in the truck, I explained to my oldest why I threw him in his seat the way I did.  I was caught off guard by what he said….it was something like, “thanks dad for protecting us.”  I said something like, “no problem dude, it’s my job to protect you.”

So many times, I’ve looked back and I can see God’s hand on my circumstances.  Unfortunately it’s typically a few years down the road…..trusting in the present can often be a daily challenge.  I’m trying to poise my shoulders for God’s strong grip, trusting that He will place me where He needs me.  I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Where have you seen God’s protection over your life?  Did it make sense at the time?

God Bless,

Paul