The summer has officially flown by and my baby girl is heading back to school tomorrow for her first day of the First Grade. On Facebook I received one of the throw back pictures of her when she was so very tiny, and now here she his tall, beautiful, and full of high energy starting her second year of school. Not only, does it make me feel old, but it’s depressing to realize how short the time God has given me to be a Dad really is. My constant prayer to God is that I am the type of father who reflects Christ to my kids in all that I do and say. Looking at how fast that time is going, really makes me want to be sure that I am reflecting Him well. My time as an example is short and I want to have maximum impact for Christ on my kids. I can’t imagine all the things that my daughter is going to have to face in school and life, so helping her get a Godly base now is so important. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:16 (ESV), “Making the best use of time, because the days are evil.” I have to make the best use of time with my sweet girl so that she can face all that life throws at her, both good and evil. That’s my prayer as a father and I hope that if you are a parent it’s your prayer too!
I’m a Dad and all too often I am reminded by the actions and words of my kiddos that I am still figuring this whole parenting thing out. I have two wonderful kids. My six year old girl is a firecracker who is full of life and does everything full speed ahead. Sometimes this leads to her being overly persistent even after she has been told no to something and losing doesn’t always go over that well with her. My five year old little boy is as sweet as they come, but he does struggle with some speech and learning/developmental delays. These issues definitely give him his own struggles and issues to overcome.
Each day, I realize that each of my children have their own issues and struggles and that as unique little individuals I have to respond to them in ways to unique to each child. My daughter is fiercely independent and my son is not. She needs more words of affirmation and he needs more quality time. With my daughter sometimes you have to be louder to get her attention, that same volume though can break my son’s little spirit so he needs a quieter gentler tone of correction.
The problem with dealing with my kids and meeting their individual unique needs is that I am a sinner. As a Dad I don’t always respond the way I should. I let my own issues, fatigue, and life in general all too often color the way I parent. Too often my responses have more to do with me than that of what my child is doing or needs. This is an issue that God has definitely been dealing with me about one the past few months and it has led me to a simple prayer that I pray daily, if not several times a day. I pray and ask God to allow me and my wife to be the type of parents that point our kids to Christ in all that we do and say, and that we show His love to them in all that we do and say.
This prayer convicting to me, because it points out the times that day I have failed to do what I’m asking. Also, it comes to my mind when I am in the middle of some form of parenting my children and helps me slow down and think about the love, kindness, discipline, and guidance that I may be about to give. I know I am a fallen sinner, but I want to seek my God so that my kids see Christ in me and want a deeper relationship with Him. I never want to be the parent that breaks his kids down and drives them away from Christ.
I am praying to be a parent who is reflecting Christ well and ask that you pray for me in this area to!
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting two new schools (new to me) that were either wanting to start an FCA Huddle or have been going with no FCA staff presence. In both of these situations I was blessed to meet teachers that genuinely care for their students and want to see them come to know Christ. In both situations I was able to leave one of our FCA Coaches Bibles with the teacher and it was great to see how they were so appreciative to not only have a copy of God’s Word, but one specifically designed to help them grow in their walk as coaches/teachers and reach their students. Coming out of the Christmas season I have given many gifts lately. However, it was so refreshing and just a blessing to me to see true joy that comes from giving and receiving gifts that will make an impact on eternity for Christ. I pray that God will give me more and more opportunities to share gifts of the Gospel!
I know, I know, I know that New Year’s resolutions are usually those things that we say we are going to to do and then we never keep up with them. If we are good we keep them for a week and if we are lucky sometimes maybe a month. And yet we still keep trying to do them. That’s where I find myself this year, back at trying to keep resolutions.
The first resolution that I wanted to do this year was to find a devotional that I could work through during my quiet time throughout the year. Thankfully for Christmas I was given a copy of New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. It’s a year long devotional that has a new thought for you to read each morning, then expands on that thought, and then sends you to scripture to reflect on what God says. This devotional has been a huge blessing in my walk with Christ and is something that I honestly can’t wait to jump into each morning. If you are looking for a good devotional to work through this year I highly recommend this one.
As always, my second resolution is to start taking better care of myself physically. Erin and I were blessed with a gift at Christmas that allowed us to join our local YMCA. We have been trying to do things as a family there to be healthy like swimming, but I’m also trying to get up early enough to go workout and get myself to a healthier weight and state of mind. So far things are going well, and I am committed to really taking the necessary steps. For some reason going to the gym isn’t as daunting when you don’t work there all the time!
There are many days left in 2017, but I am committed to becoming both spiritually and physically fit in the days, weeks, and months ahead!
If you have been following this blog or just know me in general you know that this has been a crazy year for me and my family. After much prayer we felt God leading us from a ministry where we had spent the past 11 years into full time ministry with FCA. That led to not only changing ministries, but selling our house, buying a new house and moving, having to go back out on deputation to raise quite a bit more financial support and countless other changes to our family life. Then once things were finally starting to feel a bit more settled, my wife Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy.
Through all these changes and events I have had to do more thinking and praying than I ever thought possible. I have truly seen where I really have no control over anything and God has control over everything. I have seen things that look like huge mistakes turn out to be God’s way of providing for future needs. It’s been a true time of faith development in my life.
Even though I have seen my faith grow and my dependence on God grow over these past few months there have been times I have definitely struggled with depression and even wondering if have made the right choices. As the uncertainty of financial support has weighed on me and just the stress of learning a new ministry and making new contacts there have been those times where I have questioned whether or not I should have done the easy thing and stay where I knew what I had to do and knew the finances would be enough. These particular doubts changed for me last Thursday as I took a cute little 6 year old out on a date.
Last Thursday my son Judah had to go to the eye doctor and so my wife asked me to take our daughter Maeven out on a little date. It was funny, because Maeven was so excited she got all dressed up for me and even put on a little “makeup” (chapstick lip balm) for the date. So while Mommy and Judah were at the eye doctor, Maeven and I went to Dunkin Donuts for our breakfast date of frozen hot chocolate and peppermint donuts. Maeven made sure we got the big comfy leather seats where we could talk comfortably as we munched on our goodies.
I started out asking her how her school year was going and about her new friends that she had made, and of course about what she wanted for Christmas. Maeven then surprised me and asked me why we had moved to Richmond this year. I told her that Mom and Dad knew God wanted us to work with FCA and Richmond was where He wanted us to do that. I then asked her if she was happy with our move or not?
One thing you need to know about my daughter is that when asked a question, she is very high truth and tells you exactly what she is thinking. With no thought at all, Maeven said, “Yes!” I then asked her why she was so happy with our move. Once again without having time to think Maeven said to me, “because you are home more Daddy and I get to spend lots of time with you!”
Right away I told her that I loved that too and did my best to fight back the urge to tear up hearing those words from my sweet girl. All those worries about whether or not I had made the right decision to transition ministries and move my family really melted away. While I am so thankful for all the years of ministry I had previously had there was so much time that I was away from my family. And I always justified it by saying that the ministry was important and that my kids were too little to notice. However, as Maeven’s moment of truth had shown me, they had noticed. They knew there dad wasn’t around as much as they would like me to be and I knew that I had missed a lot.
Within my new ministry role, I know there will be lots of ups and downs, lots of stresses and pressures, and lots of time that I am out from my family. At the same time it does afford me much more time to spend with my family and be there when they need me to be. Whether that be taking care of my wife as she recovers from here battle with breast cancer or just having that needed quality time with my kids I am truly thankful for all that God has brought us through this year and all that is to come. I am so thankful that He can use a sweet 6 year old girl to bring encouragement and joy too!