Posts Tagged ‘Children’

Donnas-sunset-cropped

For the last several years, I have had the pleasure of working with an atheist who is 100% adamant that there is no God, or any god, in this universe. Her premise is simple; she is here and she makes her own way through life and there really isn’t much after that. Our conversations about this topic tend to be very short because in her mind, there really isn’t another side to this argument. She refuses to accept the notion that there is a higher power and that He created this world from scratch. She tells me what she thinks sometimes, but it just sounds like a rationalized excuse.

Now it has never been my job to judge anyone because they have the beliefs they have. All I can do is share and then let God do the heavy lifting in their lives. What is always hard though is when you think about the physical examples that God has given us to recognize Him as we see in nature or as we learn more about the human body and how the microscopic world functions on our behalf. All these things that we didn’t know but have discovered along the way, they always were there but now discovered, are an example of the kind of Creator we serve.

All of these physical examples have not swayed my coworker into any acceptance of what she sees around here having any connection to a God.

Honestly, that fact alone scares the heck out of me because of these verses:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20

Please inspect these verses carefully and understand the critical nature of what they mean for you, for me, and my friend. God expects us to recognize Him by what we see around us. This verse explains that, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen and separated from what has been made.

In other words, what MAN has made versus what God has made.

Man builds a skyscraper. God creates a mountain. Man discovers DNA. God invented DNA. Man can perform surgery on the human body. God created the human body.

Do you see the difference?

Then there are the constant physical examples like Yosemite, or the Pacific Ocean, the miracle of birth with your own children…all these examples around you that if you wanted to, you can try and make an excuse, or labor to explain all of what you see because of just science, but I speak the truth when I say to you…You cannot go about your daily lives living in ignorance.

As the verse clearly explains…In Gods eyes, we are without excuse. We have our time here on earth to get this right. We don’t get a “do-over” and we certainly don’t get a chance to explain to Him why we didn’t choose to believe when we had the chance to. We have the here and now. One time through this world and that is it. We get to choose 100% of which direction we should go and where we spend eternity is determined by what we believe.

This post is NOT intended to upset you, but when I see Gods word communicated so clearly for this generation, I put it into a blog so you can see it also.

My only goal is that you too will look around you at the examples God has shown us as examples of His presence and see for yourself.

Would you do me a favor and look closely first and then make your decision?

 

Until next time guys…

 

Over the last few years, the holidays have caused me to reflect back and look at my own life and count my many blessings. I have been more aware of “life’s moments” since the loss of my daughter a few years back. Recently, I spent time  with a man who I don’t see very often because of distance and as I call it, his “self estrangement” from his family because of his desire to be alone and pursue his own desires. Now wait just a minute…what man wouldn’t want to pursue his own passions? We are guys and passions i.e. our hobbies, are what we do, am I right? My friend’s “problem” is that he isn’t alone. He moved in with a woman a few years back and then proceeded to have a beautiful little baby with her. Now you will notice I said “problem” earlier when referring to his new family and is the reason I write this blog post. His complaints about his personal situation caused me to realize how wealthy he is RIGHT NOW, and he doesn’t see it.

Our conversation began about creativity because he is a talented artist, sculptor and more. He is one of those people who see art in everything and when he puts his mind to a project, I have been stunned to see his results. Since I’ve known him, I have come to see him as a creative person with a free spirit. Unfortunately as he puts it, he hasn’t “created” any new “pieces of art” in a long time due to his new-found responsibilities with his girl friend and new child. In my opinion, most new dads find a way around these home responsibilities if they truly want to do whatever their passion is, HE…has chosen to become bitter towards his family. THEY are the reason he cannot pursue what he wants to do and he sees his girl friend and child as obstacles in life’s journey. As I listened to him explain the “journey” he is navigating and why he never has the time to pursue his creativity, I couldn’t help commenting on how much of an inspiration his young daughter must be to him? Here is this little gleam of sunshine, innocence, and just pure beauty and yet he does not see her that way. From the outside looking in, I ask What is standing in his way and blocking him from seeing what seems so clear and obvious to me? What is robbing him of the joy of being a father?

In this life, what could be more important than your wife and child? Again, I recognize I have this opinion because my perspective is different from most men because when you lose a child it changes you…forever. I’m sure you have heard the expression, “walk a mile in another mans shoes?” In my conversation with him, I tried to convey what he is missing by dragging all this bitterness around. He has a beautiful little girl right there in front of him and it doesn’t phase him. Myself, a dad who lost his only daughter, can’t get through to him and emphasize his incredible blessing! He is a grown man who is unwilling to listen to my words about being unbelievably blessed with wealth by heavenly standards…I pray that he will discover that knowledge soon…before she is gone from his life.

Here is my question to you? Do you look at your own family and understand what I mean by true wealth? I think it is pretty clear I am not referring to your bank account. I am speaking to what I believe is really important in our lives. True wealth here on Earth is not measured in dollars and cents. Now I absolutely agree that We, (all of us guys), have our hobbies and personal pursuits that are just ours and yes, I do struggle with my own “time” issue. Trying to balance our personal life with work and family isn’t easy and there are a whole lots of books written on that subject to back me up. I am also NOT inferring I have it all together because I do not…But what I DO understand is that I am wealthy beyond measure… just like I know you are as well.

Guys, I encourage you to take a look at your family through different eyes, God’s eyes. Look at them for what they truly are…your legacy…and your true wealth…

Until next time…

I found this article recently on MensHealth.com and I liked it a great deal. Anytime I can find information that has quality advice about growing up quality men, I will pass it on to you all. Yes, there will be a test at the end. It’s called life. Here’s how to make sure your kids ace it. Enjoy…

Words are Valuable

Speak up: Your kid is listening. In families with two working parents, fathers have a greater impact on their children’s language development by age 3 than mothers do, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. Provide a creative, dramatic play-by-play of the activities you’re engaged in and your surroundings. Use big words, even if they’re unfamiliar to your kid. Children learn a lot by context.

Tantrums Earn You Nothing

“When your anxiety visibly rises, you add fuel to the fire,” says Hal Edward Runkel, a family therapist and the author of ScreamFree Parenting. And if you simply hand over a piece of candy, you encourage more bad behavior. Instead, when your kid starts shouting, be calm and attentive. Don’t ignore it. This signals that you will not be rattled and the child won’t win—ever. It may not work for the first tantrum, warns Runkel, but it’s magic by the fifth.

Competition Leads to Confidence

Children as young as 4 start to compete with their parents—sprinting to the car, wrestling on the sofa, stuff like that. Roll with it. Let them win a lot, and then slowly ramp it up so they have to work harder for their victories. “It’s a way for kids to develop a sense of strength and to let them test their muscles,” says Justin Richardson, M.D., who teaches psychiatry at Columbia University. They’ll start to walk more confidently and be less of a mark for bullies.

Quitting is Hard

When his son wanted to quit baseball at age 8, Runkel said to him, “Sure, but you have to tell your teammates and coach.” The boy couldn’t do it. He’s played for 7 years since. Show kids the pain of quitting, and they won’t make those kind of decisions lightly, Runkel says. “If your kid says a school project is too hard and that he wants to give up, that’s okay,” says Runkel. “But say, ‘Tell your teacher you’re quitting and that you’ll take whatever grade is appropriate.’ Trust me, he’ll stick it out.”

Other People’s Feelings Matter

It’s easier to connect with others if you understand their perspective, so nurture that instinct in your child. Start with the child’s own feelings. “Say, ‘Man, it must be hard being 8 years old. What’s the hardest part?’ ” suggests Runkel. Then mention people your kid knows who are having a hard time—say, a friend whose dad lost his job. Ask what he thinks it’s like for that friend. “They won’t always have an answer, but they’re thinking about it,” Runkel says.

Fights Can Be Resolved

Unless one kid is dangling the other out the window, don’t say a word. “As soon as you become involved, they no longer care about a solution. They’ll only try drafting you to their side,” says child psychologist Anthony Wolf, Ph.D., the author of Mom, Jason’s Breathing on Me! The Solution to Sibling Bickering. If they pester you, say your solution will be bad for both of them. They’ll learn that pleading is fruitless. More important, they’ll learn quickly to compromise.

Independence is Earned

When your kids ask to stay later at a friend’s house, ask what time would work for them. Then ask why. If you don’t hear a good answer, it’s okay to say no. If you do, try it, says Pennsylvania-based psychologist Janet Edgette, Psy.D. When parents give children freedom and responsibility, studies show, the children develop stronger morals more quickly.

Success Requires Focus

Maybe you don’t wish for a prodigy, but our competitive society suggests otherwise. That’s why so many kids have trouble focusing, says C. Andrew Ramsey, M.D., a psychiatry professor at Columbia University. Make sure your kids know your expectations. Celebrate improvement first. And explain the value of slow mastery. “Whether your kids love Tom Brady or Beyoncé, let them know that these people succeeded because they mastered one skill,” says Dr. Ramsey. “Learn to go through one door and many others will open for you; try to go through five doors at once and you’ll go nowhere.”

Until next time guys…

If you have ever read any of my blog before, then you know I am a guy who lost his only daughter to a heart problem when she was 12 years old. So why do I mention this again? Well, having gone through an experience like this with a child, I can tell you first hand that it changes a man…forever. I do not think in the same manner as I did before. I certainly don’t take family opportunities for granted, I soak them up with my eyes and enjoy every second of them…But why start off a blog post in this fashion? I often think about my daughter Kylie’s legacy having only been on this earth for 12 years. I remember listening and reading to the overwhelming outpouring of love and affection towards her and I was stunned at what people said about her. She made such a huge impact in only 12 years and as time has passed, I almost feel like I didn’t know that side of her. She was impacting people everyday and I never knew. But I can easily say that her life mattered because she made a difference to the people she touched everyday, myself included.

Even now, 7 years removed from her passing, I still marvel at who she was at such a young age which got me to thinking about my own legacy and what I will be remembered for. We have all heard the expression “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. Well over the years I have made many first impressions, some of which I wish I could perform a “do over” because they were so pathetic. But it is because of these missed chances that I began to wonder what I could have given that person about who I am as a believer that they never received from me. For that moment, I blew the chance God gave me and I probably will never see that person again. God intended me to give them something, a kind word, an ear to listen…and I didn’t. These examples are the kind of chances that legacy’s are born from. People like Kylie, who take full advantage of these chance opportunities without any fear as to what others might think or say about them. I believe God continuously brings impromptu moments into our lives for reasons we do not know. He knows you have something this person needs and all we need to do is to be who we are, but we don’t and that person moves on and God assigns the task to another person in another circumstance.

So we have all these chances over a lifetime that will build a legacy of who we are. There is a country song by Aaron Tippin that says “You’ve got stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” which means when you make up your mind to stand for something, that strong stance changes those encounters. Here is my point illustrated; Kylie was only 12 years old, but her relationship with Christ resembled that of an older person. She believed in Jesus Christ and she stood solid for Him so as a result, her daily opportunities to make first impressions revolved around who she was in Christ which meant if you met her for the first time, you knew who she stood for and that became her legacy.

Now I know as guys we don’t go around thinking of things like this much but as I said, I am a changed man as a result of my experience with her. But I am asking you today to consider the wisdom of a 12-year-old girl for your own future. Consider standing strong for Christ in your own daily walk and let Him guide and direct you while you build your own legacy. I can honestly say that I hope my legacy isn’t business or sports but rather how I affected the people I met throughout my lifetime. Did I impact them for Christ? Did I accomplish the task Christ intended with our chance encounter? If I can pull that off, I would be a happy guy…

All of this I learned from a crazy little girl who lives in heaven…Thanks Kylie…

Until next time guys…Live with Ironman Strength…

Many years ago I heard an athlete, who had just lost a huge game, being interviewed by a reporter. This reporter asked the tough question “So what’s it going to be like living with all the regret of losing this big game?” The athlete immediately snapped back, “regret!, I don’t have any regret, I left it all on the field…” I know all of us have heard that expression before but I found it to be a very good preface for this particular blog. Regret…tough word for some of us because of broken relationships or worse yet, maybe a harsh word spoken to a parent that is now deceased…Words that can never be taken back…Very painful…Regret at it’s highest level of pain…

Along this same thought, I found this article recently written by a hospice nurse who compiled this list of the top 5 regrets that people confess on their death-bed. She wrote this last year but frankly, this one to be timeless because it affects everyone. When I read this article…it caused me to think and that is exactly the reason I am sharing it with you…Please consider these 5 regrets as you live your own life…

By Bonnie Ware

1.   I wish I’d had the courage to live life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to
choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try to honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2.   I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed
deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3.    I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a
result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly,in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4.     I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip.But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks,love and relationships.

5.    I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them
pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Guys, please do what you can to make peace with your past. Remember the words of Isaiah in Chapter 43:18-19,

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing, Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

While you are all still on this earth, and young enough to make things right…humble yourself and do just that…as someone who has lost a child, you never know what your future holds. I will tell you this…It takes a bigger man to be humble and do the right thing, than to walk away all puffed up…

Do whatever you can to avoid living your life without regret…Leave it ALL on the field of life…

Until next time, God Bless You

I’m old fashioned in certain ways. Its kind of funny being close to 50 and making that statement but I really think its true for at least one thing; work ethic. Do you know what I mean when I say work ethic? I’m talking about what is inside you, that inner part of you that makes you…you. Some people call it fortitude, some call it gravel in your gut. I’m old fashioned, I call it, an honest days work for an honest days pay. That’s pretty simple I think…but apparently it’s not because today’s job work ethic isn’t the same as it used to be. Anyone who supervises people knows what I am referring to here. More and more, people don’t have any vision about their future. They prefer to perform the “eight and skate” mentality and the eight hours they are present? are debatable at best.

Guys, this is NOT a political blog and I plan on keeping it that way but what I am saying is as Fathers, its our responsibility to teach work ethic in the home. That means for example, holding our kids accountable for various responsibilities around the house. Now please, don’t misunderstand me here. I am not telling you how to do your job at work or at home. I am simply pointing out that from my vantage point, the mentality of approaching work is changing in America, and frankly, I don’t like it very much. Unfortunately, I believe that “work ethic”, or, that get up in the morning and get on your knees and give God the day and then go to work and give your best, is a dying philosophy.

Now I know there are a lot of you out there that are unemployed and for that I am sorry but as I have stated in previous blogs, keep your eyes focused on Christ, keep trusting in Him, and He will see you through this trial in your life. In fact, read my previous “You are not Alone” blog post for more of the above. As I was saying, many of you who are unemployed would simply love the opportunity to prove your work ethic but you understand what I am writing about here. We need to teach our children that is imperative they give their best effort, no matter what job they are doing. Remember the Bible talks about in Colossians 3:17;
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I know, I know, that is BRUTAL sometimes. But as hard as that is to exemplify, as fathers, that’s our job in our homes because our kids are watching us. Show them whats really inside you. Show them the example of your strong work ethic each day by doing your best at your job and then helping them to understand why they need to do the same thing.

Let me tell you a short story about my eight year old son Kendrick. Like many of you, we have a dog at our house who everyday, multiple times a day, does her business outside on what used to be my green lawn (sorry, I digress) Kendrick’s job is to take care of the dogs business every Saturday and of course, he forgets, or he doesn’t want to, or he is too busy…You know the drill, kid excuses. One day I sat him down and asked him if he thought he was doing a good job at his saturday duties and he told me “yes, he was happy with his effort” (paraphrased) I proceeded to tell him that if he worked for me, I would have to fire him for that “effort, or lack thereof” and that surprised him. Now, you can’t fire your kid so don’t get any ideas, but I did remind him that its our job to our best every time we work…

The same holds true for you and me. As men, its our job to not only work hard and give our employer an honest days work for an honest days pay, but everyday, we need to show our kids the same thing. One of the greatest satisfactions for me as a father was getting the opportunity to speak to my oldest sons former employer and having him tell me he is a hard worker and that he never worried about leaving him on his own unsupervised, because he knew he would still continue to work hard, even when the boss wasn’t around.

Guys, that needs to be our testament to ourselves as men and to our children. I challenge you to build a strong work ethic in your family.

God Bless you guys…

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There has been a great deal written on the subject of time and how to manage it properly over the years. Growing up I heard “stop wasting time” and I need to be a “better steward of the time God gives me”. Later on in high school I remember hearing “You all are accountable to me for your time in this class” my teacher told us. I remember thinking he was taking this time thing a little to far…I’m accountable to him…really? But he was right, the time I spent studying for his class I was accountable to him and even more so when I failed a test. Then my “free time” dried up.

What I find ironic is when we make it to adulthood, we are encouraged with song titles like ”Time well wasted” and “Killing Time” which emphasize getting lost in the lack of managing our time. It’s like a switch was flipped and now I’m told forget about managing my time and just relax. So my question is, “Which direction should I go”?, Wasting time or time management? Well, as a responsible adult I think we need to find a spot somewhere in the middle as to how we control the time we are given. But, (and here is the “but” statement) the reality is we completely get caught up in the business of our lives and just forget about the “aah” moments with one another. I know you know what I mean when I refer to an aah moment. That split second of recognition when your little child sees his/hers Santa gifts on Christmas morning or maybe when you sneak up on them and surprise them with a ride on your shoulders or a good tickling. Those are AAh moments to me. Those simple moments in life I can take and be thankful for because nothing in this world can mean more to your child than meaningful time spent with them.

So you say, “great Kent, you have made me feel guilty, what is your point”? My point is very simple, as a father who has lost a child, my whole perspective on time and the moments of life we spend together has changed. Time lost cannot be regained not matter how hard you try. Unfortunately, I now understand the value of time and why moments with our children and family must be treasured because you don’t know when you may have all of it taken from you. One minute your life is great and next you find everything is swept away.

Ok, you say, I’m sorry for your loss but…that doesn’t apply to me. I’m a great parent and enjoy being a parent and spending time with my own children or my spouse. My question to you is Really? Have you actually made that connection in your brain where you said to yourself? “look at what I have in my life, this is awesome” Have you truly realized you should be thankful for what is right in front of you? I know I hadn’t. In fact, even though I had went through a scary time when my daughter was born with hospitalization and surgeries, I had since gone complacent and just took each day as it came never really grasping the actual moments and living them to the fullest…Thanking God for them. Appreciating them for what they were, valuable time.

It is strange to think we don’t take the time because we say we don’t have the time? I encourage you to take today and look at your wife and your kids and just say “thank you God for what you have given me”.

Simply put, appreciate the gifts you have been given. Appreciate the value of time…