Send Em On Down The Road

IMG_1311-001Tough week last week. When I say “tough” I’m always quick to point out that the word is very relative. Last week was one of those weeks where you’re looking for that chapter in the parenting manual that covers how to handle certain situations. Truth is there is no manual. An even bigger truth is you navagate as you go.

I said last week that the details were not important. They really aren’t. Last week was a lot of things. Last week stretched our parental “wisdom” (I use that term losely).

It was about seeing God given gifts in your child that they don’t see

It was about pushing where you can while allowing them to make choices

It was about choices and consequences

It was about trust. Trusting them and them trusting you.

There were tears. There were words…a lot of words.

There were inspirational speeches and motivational speeches.

There was a let down and building back up.

When you become a parent there is so much you don’t anticipate. You assume things. You dream big dreams. Last week was a reminder that we are all given gifts and talents but until we step into the moments, our gifts and talents will never be fully appreciated or realized. We need people in our lives to encourage us to step into those moments. To be brave.

The sports reporter Rick Reilly once wrote – “We are here to be there for our kid when they score the game winning goal…and especially when they don’t”

Last week was one of those kinds of moments.

On Tuesday I downloaded the new Garth Brooks CD. I’ve often said that if they put a soundtrack to my life, Garth Brooks music could pretty much play the entire time. One song jumped out at me right away called “Send Em On Down The Road.” It’s classic Garth. These words really hit home…

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
You can help them find their wings but you can’t fly for ‘em
‘Cause if they’re not free to fall, than they’re not free at all
And though you just can’t bare the thought of letting go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
And you send ‘em on down the road

I said last week that I was so proud of “the boy.” Always. As parents we have and will face moments when we will “help them find their wings but can’t fly for ’em.” Wisdom tells us there will be days when we wish we could step into the moment for them.

But it’s not our stage and it’s not our spotlight.

You pick ’em up.

You dust ’em off.

And you send ’em on down the road.

Mom and Dad, you gotta let em go. Today’s hurt will be tomorrows victory. Life is lived forward and understood backward.

Send ’em on down the road…..

What Do You Tell Them?

This morning I had the absolute pleasure of running into the three children of a friend that passed away a few years ago. He left this world all too soon. Let me start by saying I struggled with if I should post this or not. I wrestled with if it would be honoring to him and to his family. For some reason I feel this incredible tug to share it though. Please know the heart in which this is written.

Our encounter was brief. Just a few quick minutes to catch up on the years we’ve missed. While I asked a few questions and they gave their answers, I have to be honest and say that my mind was listening but also processing the memories. In the quiet moments after our time together, I just kept thinking back to that time just a few years ago. It was a hard time. When I say “hard time” I know that term is very relative. I didn’t have to fight the battle my friend fought. That was the definition of hard. Walking a journey with a friend your age, with kids your kids age, is life changing. Literally.

I’m not the same man I was before that time. I think that is a good thing. He left fingerprints on my life. He was a great, great man and a brother. We shared so many conversations about life, and family and our children. I remember his dreams for them. I remember his admiration for them. So many times he would speak and I felt like I was listening to a recording of myself if I were asked these questions and faced this journey. They were younger then. To be honest, I think only one of them was old enough to vaguely remember me this morning.

I stood there weighing each one of my words. If I am really honest, I just wanted to hug each one. I wanted to say so many things and yet, I know that time and healing have moved them forward. So I asked about their schools and their sports. While they answered, I just kept thinking….

What do you tell them?

I didn’t say what I wanted to say but I feel that I simply must share those words somewhere. Again, out of a heart of complete respect, I share them here.

I wanted to tell them they were all that he dreamed they would be.

They are handsome and beautiful.

They are well spoken, kind and respectful to basically a stranger (me).

I see so much of him in their words and mannerisms. I see him in their eyes.

I wanted to tell them so much yet I felt like no words were needed. I’m sure they have been told repeatedly and time has allowed them to be in a place where the words are treasured reminders of who he was.

I have spent countless hours worrying, thinking and praying over my “what if.” Somehow I wish I could tell him that they are all he hoped and dreamed and prayed they would be.

His legacy, his words, his instructions and his shadow put wind in their sails early in their lives.

His fingerprints are still on the clay of who they are becoming.

I must pause here and acknowledge that his wife and all of the support around them must be mentioned. I have no words for what the last several years must have been like and the road they traveled. This morning I witnessed three children that have had incredible support, teaching, instruction and examples. They are who they are because they have been raised by who they have been raised by.

What do you tell them? What could I have said?

I think I would tell them how their Dad would be so proud.

Then I would thank them for sharing small glimpses of him with me today in who they are…

and that is a very good thing.

Who Holds My Hand

As summer comes to an end, we do our best to make one final memory by going to Kings Island each year. It was a bit more challenging this year, but thanks to some discount tickets and good timing, we were able to make it happen again. The kids are old enough to enjoy all of the roller coasters and thrill rides now. Princess 2.0 is not a fan. She made it very clear last year at the park when she firmly yelled “I HAVE FEARS!!” While the rest of us hit the rides, she gladly stands by the workers at the exit gate.

Maybe I’m getting older but after the first twisty ride o’ death, I was feeling a little green. After the second one, I was pretty glad I hadn’t had a big breakfast. By the third ride, I was done. As we pulled into the gate, I was sweating, nauseous and dizzy. I gladly took some time off with Princess 2.0 as the other 3 rode their day away. The interesting thing was that from park open to park close, Princess 2.0 held my hand. All day, from ride to ride, she held my hand. She remained very close to my side. This isn’t unusual, but it was noticable.

In late September we grabbed the opportunity one unseasonably warm day to do some creek walking at a local park. The water was so dark you couldn’t see to the bottom and the footing was unknown. As soon as our feet hit the water, Princess 2.0 found her way to me again, holding my hand. The entire time we walked the creek, she held my hand. Ironically enough, I was the only one that lost his balance and fell. Regardless, Princess 2.0 found some peace in holding my hand in these troubled waters.

That was a lot of set up for one very simple thought today….

We are, as a nation, in unknown waters. When I say “unknown” I mean that I don’t know if we should be concerned about potential threats (ISIS, Ebola, Economy) or if the media hype of it all. Some of you may feel like 2.0 did at the amusement park and are screaming “I HAVE FEARS.” So let me ask you something today.

Who holds your hand?

In other words, where do you find the comfort that 2.0 found in holding my hand at the amusement park and in the local creek? I didn’t have the answers, I actually feel and felt ill on the rides. I fell in the creek. Somehow, she found peace and comfort from her fears in each place by simply holding my hand.

I can’t give any answers for where all our fears are headed. I know I have many concerns as a provider and protector in our home. I’m trying to find some balance between being a “doomsday prepper” and not having my head in the sand. As the old song says

Many things about tomorrow

I don’t seem to understand

But I know who holds the future

And I know who holds my hand.

We are in unprecidented times. There are fears of outbreaks. We’re at war with a brutal enemy. My IRA is plummeting. Finances are razor thin.

I HAVE FEARS!!!

I also have PEACE.

I know who holds the future

and I know who holds my hand.

Do you?

#BeBrave

I Was Fixable

Today would have been my Moms birthday. Actually, today is my Moms birthday. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to say that because I never anticipated saying it that way so soon. This is the 4th year that we have recognized her birthday but she is not here to celebrate with us. So I honor her legacy. I honor the gift that I was given to be loved and raised by her.

Anyone that has lost someone close to them will know the feeling I had just last week. I was having one of “those days” and immediately thought, I need to call my Mom. I was and am a “Mama’s Boy.” I wear that title with honor now. This was one of those days when a boy needed his Mom. It is still surreal to think that phone call can’t happen.

I’ve shared the story below before, but I thought I would share the message one more time. To honor my Mom by sharing who she was for those who might not have known her. Her mission was clear. Her message was simple. I honor her today by sharing just one story of a life she forever changed. I love ya Mom. Save a place for me….

*Below was posted May 20, 2010

On Sunday, we had a “celebration of life” service to honor my Mom. As most of you know she passed away on March 5, 2010, but this was our first opportunity for the entire family to be back in my hometown. The service was a beautiful time of reflection on the legacy, the ministry and the life of the woman I was honored to call my Mom. The turnout was amazing and the words that many spoke to me before and after the service were a testimony to the impact that one person can make when dedicated to two things.

Loving Jesus…Loving people.

One of the many women that my Mom impacted stood up and shared her story with us during an open time of sharing. She shared that she was broken and how my Mom reached out to her at a very low point in her life. She said that it made all of the difference to her and her faith and now she is well on her way to recovery. Then she said three words I will never, ever forget. She said

your Mom looked at me and saw that……I was fixable”.

Man I love that.

“I was fixable”.

The more I reflected on that in the hours that followed the service, I couldn’t help but think about how we all are fixable. We’re all broken and for that reason, we are fixable. What many of us need most often is someone to care. We need someone else to see that we are fixable and show us the way. We need to be that someone to others as well. Think about that today.

Imagine if we didn’t see broken, we saw fixable. 

If you’re broken……know that you’re fixable

If you’re not broken….find someone that is.

Let them know….they are fixable.

Are Churches Like Cell Phone Carriers?

We recently changed cell phone carriers. I covered the reasons why HERE. After about a year long evaluation and process, we chose a church to call “home” too. So what in the name of data plans could they possibly have in common?

A lot more than you think.

Track with me here. Let’s assume that the “source” of each establishment is the same. There are so many great churches in our city and in our town. Each church is “doing church” the best way their leadership team knows how. There’s no shortage of established churches, mega churches and new church plants. A visit to each one will offer a different experience and (hopefully) a common goal.

There’s no shortage of cell phone carriers and companies in this city either. There are well established giants like Verizon, Sprint and AT&T. You also have startups like Smart Talk, Virgin Mobile and others all competing for new subscribers to join.

Now let me get this out of the way, one of these examples is a business and the other is not. That’s not really the point of this little rabbit trail. I’m not making any kind of comparison about their “business.” There is not one to make.

Now back to my point. We left Verizon, quite possibly the most popular cell phone carrier in town. Most everyone I know uses Verizon. They like Verizon. I liked Verizon. Yet when we looked at adding our daughter to the plan, it just didn’t make the most sense for our family. Great company. Great things to offer. Not a match for us.

I was talking to a friend this week about this thought. His wife’s family lives in South Africa. T-Mobile offers international calling. They also have prepaid phone plans that fit his family dynamics. So he uses T-Mobile. Works out well for them and they are happy.

We’re a music loving family. Not only does T-Mobile have a plan that fits our budget, they also have unlimited streaming of popular music sites like Pandora and Spotify. Perfect for our family. Perfect for our budget. Their coverage areas leave some room to be desired but every carrier has a “but.” The one we’re willing to navigate around is the coverage area. Everything else fits.

Yet another friend of mine is a huge NFL fan. Loves him some NFL. The other day he was just giddy to show me his NFL streaming on his Verizon phone. It was a great choice for him. I follow the NFL, but it’s not something I would seek out in a cell phone carrier. It’s just not something that fits what me or my family would use or find that important.

But this isn’t about T-Mobile or Verizon or Sprint’s Framily plan or whatever AT&T has to offer.

I wonder if our churches and why we choose them is similar to the choice of cell phone carriers. At the end of the day, none of the carriers are wrong or bad or evil (at least not that I know of). They all are approaching the same thing differently. What one might have, another might not. It doesn’t make them wrong or bad, it just makes them different.

The funny thing about the friends I mentioned above is that prior to our conversations, I had no idea who their cell phone providers were. I’m not really hung up on who has what provider and why. To be honest, I’m just glad they have a phone when I need to call or text them.

One thing I’ve really learned over the past few years is that maybe the church that you and I and others choose should be the same way. Maybe we get kinda hung up on the why or the what and really all that matters is that they call one “home.” They have taken the time to evaluate what’s a best fit for them. Like the providers I mentioned above, what fits one may not fit another. The key is that they have one.

I get really excited about the things that my current cell phone provider has to offer. You may not find those things exciting. You might hate that the coverage isn’t as strong as another provider and that’s okay. Really, it is okay. If you’re happy with your provider, then I’m happy for you. I trust you’ve taken the time to do your due diligence and made the best choice for you and your family. I know we did.

I’ve been asked a lot recently about churches, staying, leaving, finding and what to seek. I’ll be honest, it is absolutely a matter of best fit for you and your family. There are so many great churches and each one has different things to offer. It’s all really about what you’re seeking and a best fit.

Just make sure you’re seeking Him.

Make sure you’re seeking a best fit where you and your family can serve and use your gifts and talents.

Plug in.

Find community.

Serve.

Invest.

Invite.

Grow.

Sorry, I gotta take this call…..

I’m Overwhelmed

 

There are days. There are moments. There are times when you just feel overwhelmed.

There are times when no matter how many cutbacks you’ve made, no matter how many pennies you’ve pinched, there just isn’t enough check for the budget needs.

There are mornings when physical pain greets you and mental strain beats you.

There are so many distractions that your reactions become smaller and smaller.

There is drama in the social feeds and drama in the things we “need.”

I don’t know about you but there are days, there are moments, there are times when I just feel overwhelmed.

Let me ask you a question…..

When was the last time you felt overwhelmed.….by the Creator of this Universe?

When was the last time you hit pause on all of the above and just took a moment to consider the wonder of a child being born, nature, the human body and how if you’re breathing right this moment, there’s a reason to celebrate.

When was the last time, no matter what you feel like at this very moment, you considered how ordained and providential each one of the steps you take have been?

A few weeks ago I stood in church and was overwhelmed in worship. I wasn’t enjoying a performance, I was moved to a place of being overwhelmed by the knowledge that..

I am created for a purpose

I am loved by God

I am redeemed.

I am blessed to have each minute of each day I am here.

Today I choose to be overwhelmed not by the trappings, drama, struggles and pains of this life…

I choose to be overwhelmed by the One that created me.

I choose to be overwhelmed by the knowledge that He “knit me together.”

I choose to be overwhelmed not by what I have, but what I’ve been given.

If I’m going to be overwhelmed, let me be overwhelmed by that.

Be overwhelmed today.

#BeBrave

14 Years Ago

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14 years ago today I looked into the eyes of my first born child. I rejoiced in God blessing us with a son. I could not believe that we were now parents. I didn’t get an instruction manual or a “dummies guide to parenting.” I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

And I still don’t.

14 years ago today I knew I would make mistakes. I knew I would fail him. I knew I’d use the wrong words at the wrong time and in the wrong place. I feared I would wound his spirit while trying to correct his will. I hoped I would do my best to raise him to avoid all of the mistakes I have made while trying to recognize the traps I fell in.

And I still do.

When we found out we were having a son, a popular song on the radio featured the following lyric which became an anthem of sorts for me:

If I had just one wish, only one demand
I hope he’s not like me, I hope he understands
That he can take this life and hold it by the hand
And he can greet the world with arms wide open…

In his first 14 years I think a majority of that is true. He has majored in the things which I was never good at. Thankfully he inherited the discipline of his mom when it comes to his education, studies and knowledge. He’s excelled in the classroom and in sports. I did none of those things at his age and thank the Lord that he does. They will carry him far in this life.

What I lacked in all of those things, I have tried to give him somewhere else. For as long as I can remember, he has been my shadow. He quietly absorbs every conversation, interaction and discussion with people. My hope over these 14 years is that he has learned to greet the world with arms wide open. I hope he’s learned to be brave, courageous, fearless and never afraid to try something. I hope he’s learned that people and relationships are quite possibly the greatest thing you can invest in.

14 years ago I looked at this child and knew immediately that nothing could ever change how I feel about him. There is nothing he could do that would separate him from the place he holds in my heart. I felt that way in that hospital room 14 years ago.

And I still do today.

Happy Birthday Son.

I Love You.

-Dad.

In a Blink

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Three weeks ago I sat through an all day training about panic bars. Exciting stuff. Riveting. Edge-of-your-seat kind of excitement. What, you don’t believe me? Okay, so it wasn’t that exciting. Let’s be honest, it was panic bars. How exciting could it possibly be. What made it entertaining, fun and interesting was the vendor that did the presentation. He was informative, hilarious and even referred to himself in the third person. Several of us joked afterwards that he reminded us of the classic Seinfeld episode.

Last night I got an email that our vendor friend had passed away from a sudden heart attack. I couldn’t believe it. I just kept thinking how quickly life can change. If you’re like me, maybe you don’t often think of life ending, except in the case of fear of a lengthy illness. If that was the case, we would hopefully have time to take care of things and say what we needed to say.

Three weeks ago this man was full of life. He had spent a majority of his career in the door hardware industry which is really not all of that exciting. He told great stories and had a laugh that filled the room. He glowed as he spoke of his son who was also in the same industry and how well he was doing in sales. None of us knew or imagined we wouldn’t see him again. We never anticipated that he would be gone suddenly and so soon.

I really didn’t know this man well. I spent a few hours listening to him in a conference room. I think the takeaway for me is that life is so brief. Our moments can be gone in a blink. How are we spending them? How do we invest in each relationship? How do we treat others and even a room full of strangers?

Our lives are but a quick moment. Things can change in a blink.

What coversations do you need to have today?

What things do you need to make right?

What things do you need to say?

Do it now.

Things can change in a blink.

Help Fund Jon-Lorond Saves the Day

bcc7da601c0ae8e4fca2843d48de5cde_large2 years ago, I wrote a review of a film that was life changing called “Three Hearts.” Tonight I received an email from the man that directed that incredible film with a personal request for something near to his heart. Though I’ve never met Arthur, I can appreciate his desire to see the book “Jon-Lorond Saves The Day” launched on many levels. The author of this childrens book is his wife, Hanna. The book is inspired by their children. The message of the book is something any parent can share in as well. From Arthur:

We have partnered with an award winning illustrator, named Luke Flowers, whose work is just brilliant!

Would you please consider visiting the KickStarter Campaign and supporting this project. I would appreciate it and I know that Arthur and his wife Hanna would certainly appreciate it too.

For a video and full details on the project, please visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/467459748/jon-lorond-saves-the-day-a-book-for-the-hero-in-al

Allstate Purple Purse

Allstate PURPLE-PURSE 2If you’ve been following the news or even ESPN, you have seen an increased discussion about domestic violence. With a recent number of high profile professional athletes being charged with domestic abuse, the issue has come to the front of many conversations. I was approached recently about sharing a post for the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse. Below are some very alarming statistics, resources and a way that you can get involved. I’m honored to share this message for Allstate and hope that it can help anyone who might feel trapped in an abusive relationship.

Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is making easier – even fashionable – to talk about domestic violence and the financial abuse that traps women in abusive relationships. The program ignites fundraising for more than 140 national, state and local domestic violence organizations. Funds raised will support life-changing financial empowerment services to help domestic violence survivors build safer lives for themselves and their families. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse aims to break the cycle of violence in our nation – one family at a time. Continue reading “Allstate Purple Purse”

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

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I often get emails requesting my support for a certain cause or if I will write a guest post for a particular topic. A few weeks ago I received one and, after reading the personal story, I simply could not say “no.” I don’t know this family personally, but I am honored that they considered this piece of real estate on the internet worthy enough to raise awareness about something that hit very close to home for them. After reading their story of diagnoses and miraculous survival, I too wanted to join them in raising awareness.  Continue reading “Mesothelioma Awareness Day”

Free Family Turkey Trot II

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Oops we did it again!! Last Thanksgiving we had an idea and now it’s annual event. I started receiving emails for all of the local races so I thought I better start spreading the word that we will indeed host our second annual Free Family Turkey Trot this year. Despite the cold weather, last year was a success and great time for all. Here’s a quick look at some of the fun!

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We’ll finalize details in the coming weeks, but I wanted to get the word out as early as possible before you decide to make those payments to another race. We will also again accept canned food donations if you feel led. It’s not a requirement. For all of the latest details, keep an eye on our official facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/FreeFamilyTurkeyTrot

Continue reading “Free Family Turkey Trot II”

10 Books That Shaped Me

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There are a lot of things that have molded and shaped me over the years. Some good and some not so good. Be that as it may, I was thinking this week about how there are a lot of great books I’ve read over the years that have come to define who I am. The Bible is obviously one of those and in a class all by itself. I put some thought in to what the 10 books that really shaped me were. If you haven’t read some of them, I highly recommend giving each one some attention. Each one molded, changed and shaped me in a different way. So let’s get started.

Continue reading “10 Books That Shaped Me”

Review “Holy Ghost”

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I recently had the opportunity to review a new documentary film called “Holy Ghost.” I think the biggest take away from this entire film was following the prompting that God has placed in each one of use that have committed our lives to Christ. This nearly 2 hour film is filled with incredible adventures all led by the Holy Spirit. When I say incredible, I mean incredible. The viewer is taken along for the ride everywhere from India to a rock concert. You are also witness to men proclaiming the gospel and forever changing lives. It is simply incredible to watch.

Continue reading “Review “Holy Ghost””

Headwinds

Not long ago, I had a pretty good run in Leadership with a Fortune 500 company. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in a “Wall Street driven” organization but it’s a tad stressful. Especailly at the end of a quarter. Basically people in high places promise guys that invest in their company that they’ll achieve certain dollars in sales for the quarter and year and guys that invest get even richer. When the company fails to achieve certain dollars in sales, guys that invest want to know why. This game is played every. single. quarter.

The spin on a quarterly call with the big guys in the big offices is not fun when you’ve missed your numbers. Not fun at all.

I always marveled at the corporate lingo they would use on these calls. Rather than just saying “guys, we missed our number,” they often used catch phrases and buzzwords to say that exact same thing. I just have to think the guys on the other end of the phone know it too. They aren’t fooling anyone. It’s so obvious but it works I guess. If they’re lucky, they get to keep their job for another quarter to get it right.

“Headwinds”

By far my favorite corporate buzzword is “Headwinds.” Typically it would go like this – “Well, in the 2nd quarter, we continued to face headwinds. We believe we have turned the corner and should see stronger results in the 3rd quarter.” What that basically means is we didn’t make our number in the 2nd quarter and we might make it in the 3rd quarter. In fairness to all the guys that make the big bucks with big offices and fancy suits, we all face headwinds sometimes.

We face headwinds financially

We face headwinds physically

We face headwinds emotionally

In this life, you will face headwinds. Last night I spent 2 hours talking to a trusted friend about….headwinds. We are both facing them. We not only discussed our various headwinds but we both admitted that this was the first person we had shared it with. Again, he’s a trusted friend. He’s one of the few guys I’ve let in.

So how am I any different than the guys with the big offices at the end of a quarterly call?

I’m not fooling anyone.

We all face headwinds. I’ve never been a sailor. I don’t know a lot about sailing or facing headwinds on the seas but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you probably shouldn’t face one alone. I chose the image above because I noted that there is a whole team of people on the side of the boat that’s out of the water. I’m guessing they all shifted to that side because they are working together to keep that boat from flipping over. If you’re on the sea alone and facing headwinds, I don’t know how much good you’re going to do trying to keep the ship in control.

We all face headwinds.

If you’re facing them today, find some people to face them with you. Don’t head out on the waters alone. I’m preaching to myself here too. Know that smoother sailing is ahead. This storm will pass. The headwinds will calm. As Max Lucado said…

God didn’t still the storm but He did calm the sailor.

#BeBrave

Nice Bucket Challenge

Last night a recieved notice that I had been challenged to a “Nice Bucket Challenge” by a facebook friend. I was immediately charged to get this done today. The video below is our journey and some glimpses of what took place. I challege ANYONE that reads this to accept the challenge too. Find someone in need. Deliver something to a hospital. Surprise a neighbor. You have 24 hours. Go. Do. #LoveDoes #BeBrave.

Now the results of those I challenged are starting to come back. First off, Russell Hawkins and his family created some Nice Buckets and distributed them to those in need. He spent the day engaging homeless people with his son right by his side. While what they gave is sure to help those they met, the time spent with his son teaching about caring for those in need is worth so much more. Well done my friend!

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Next up is Curt Harding. He created a Nice Bucket for children in a local hospital. The Nice Bucket has no rules and love knows no boundaries. Where can you take one today?

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Laura created two Nice Buckets for a local school in need of games and supplies for rainy and cold days. Great ideas. There are endless ways and places to spread this message.

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Who else accepts the challenge? More to come….