Tomorrow’s Going to be a BAD DAY!!!

My oldest son Ben and I drove to get a pizza the other night for dinner.  I always love those one-on-one opportunities to get caught up a little on his thoughts and perspective on life.

Sometimes, he’ll offer a little more confidential, heartfelt info. during these times, which is awesome.

Amidst our conversation about random things, I asked him if he was excited to go to school the next day.  I already knew the answer to this question, but I wanted to hear the full run down.  His answer was definitely a “no” regarding looking forward to school.  He proceeded to make a list regarding why he was going to have a bad day.  It went something like this:

  1. I have to wake up and go to school
  2. I have to take a reading test
  3. I have to go to the dentist to get my braces fixed

There may have been a couple more things, but you get the point.  Tomorrow was going to be a BAD DAY!!!!!

I found this to be a great opportunity to explain something to him about life, perspective and choices.  Before tomorrow had even begun, Ben had decided that the next day would be crappy.  I mean, his challenges were kind of legit.  Who wants to take tests and go to the dentist anyway????!!!!  I totally get it!

BUT, I encouraged him to make tomorrow a good day DESPITE the obstacles in his way.  That life isn’t all about what happens to us, but how we REACT to the ups and downs….something like that.  I think he listened, because he stopped repeating the list of drudgery that tomorrow held.

We all fall into the trap of setting the tone for tomorrow before tomorrow even starts, don’t we?!  It’s pretty easy to do and it takes mind muscles to force those prophetic thoughts out of the way.

The truth is, we often think we have tomorrow figured out, but in reality, we’re just lucky to wake up breathing.

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow and he also reminds us that we have no idea what tomorrow will bring…..heck, we don’t even know what the next few minutes will bring!  He’s pretty smart and I think I’ll follow His lead on this one.

It’s wise to be mindful regarding the possibilities and challenges of the days ahead, it’s true.  The gritty part comes when we have to make the choice of embracing those challenges vs. dreading them.  We so quickly forget that we can have peace, even in the midst of the most mundane, difficult moments.  Plus, our fears of tomorrow rarely hold water….in other words, situations often turn out better than what we predicted.

As a quick follow-up, the next day, I asked Ben how his day went.  Specifically, I asked Ben if he “made it a great day.”  His answer was pretty funny and he didn’t skip a beat….he said: “Oh, I forgot.”  So, trying not to smile and patting his head, I asked him if the day wasn’t quite as bad as he was expecting it to be.  He did say that it was better than he expected, so we’ll go with that.  Hey, it’s a start at least!

So, go get it friends.  Go grab tomorrow by the…..well, you know what I mean.

God Bless,

Paul

 

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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

 

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

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

 

 

 

Why It’s Ok That My Son Doesn’t Play Sports

016My oldest son, Ben is such a cool kid.  He’s smart, caring, loving and pretty darn handsome.

A little while back, we had a conversation that I never thought we would have…..he told me that he wanted to take a break from sports.

To be honest, my first reaction was to convince him to stick it out.  I tried to sway him with my best arguments, but to no avail.

He had played soccer for a few seasons and he was getting really good at it.  I thought he should keep playing.  I thought he should keep practicing and getting better.  I thought it was fun to see him practice.  I enjoyed being outdoors with the family, I enjoyed…..I, I, I, I, I.  There’s a lot of I’s there, I know.  It’s about Ben, not me, right?

As Ben and I continued talking about his reasons for not playing, I learned something:  Ben’s likes and dislikes are different from my likes and dislikes.  It’s a pretty simple concept really, but it’s been a little challenging for me.

So, to try something new, he wanted to learn how to cook.  My wife, Pam is so amazing in the kitchen and luckily, she’s open to sharing her skills with Ben.  It’s been really cool to see.

We also got him plugged into Cub Scouts.  What a neat, old-fashioned deal they have going there.

Oh yeah, he’s having fun learning how to swim as well.

Excitement, passion and contentment are shining through his big blue eyes as he pursues these new interests.  That excites me and it blesses me.

The truth is, I need to be supportive no matter what he pursues.  More than that, I need to walk beside him in love as his interests change and mature.

As a dad, I want the best for my son.  I’m learning a very important lesson as I see Ben grow:  Happiness and character don’t just exist once we reach the final destination….it’s the steps along the way that mold us most.    The journey is where we discover God’s purpose for our lives….our passion or calling, so to speak.

That’s where Ben is right now.  He’s finding his footing in life.  What a cool journey to witness and be a part of.

My job is to be there, always, with supportive words, fist bumps, forehead kisses and a whole bunch of “I’m proud of you’s.”

Truthfully, this isn’t only Ben’s journey, this is my adventure too.

God Bless,

Paul

Playing Ninjas on the Playground

SwingsetI’m really proud of my son, Ben.  He just started 1st grade and we all can’t be more excited for him.

Unfortunately, Ben had his first real experience with a bully.  This kid wouldn’t leave him alone…he called him names, made personal attacks, nagged him to death, etc.  I have to admit, I’ve envisioned myself hanging this little twerp by his underwear on the flag pole outside the school.  I know, I know, I need to calm down.  As a victim of bullying myself, it’s tough not to get heated.

Although I would never want my son to get pushed around, it’s been a great learning experience for all of us.  My lovely wife gave him some sound advice and I paraphrase: “sometimes, mean kids just need somebody to be nice to them.  Jesus was nice to mean people all the time.  Sometimes, that bully could even end up being your friend!”  Brilliant.  This great advice made for some deep dinner conversation.

A couple of days later, Ben blew my socks off.  He proudly called me at work to explain a conversation between himself and the twerp…..I mean kid  :).  They spoke in the bathroom at school.  Ben approached the kid and said something like “I’m sick of us fighting all the time.  Can we just be friends?”  The kid responded with a quick “yep.”  It was a simple exchange with profound results.

At recess, they played ninjas on the playground.  In Boy Land, that means that all is right in the world.  That some healing and acceptance has taken place.

Due to Ben’s love and grace, the kid has left him alone.  Apparently, he’s still causing trouble in other ways, but the direct harassment once focused on Ben is no longer there.  Most of the time,  love can be the best deterrent against negativity.  It’s pretty cool how God designed things.

My son inspires me.  I see Jesus in his eyes, in his demeanor, in his hands and in his feet.  I’m proud to be his dad.

God Bless,

Paul