Dear 16 year old me…..

An amazing and powerful video about melanoma. I was one of those with the less than 10% chance of survival and here I am living the thriving 13 years later. I count December 24th as my cancer free anniversary as that was the last day of my final radiation treatment. It is wonderful in many ways to have this important milestone on such an important day.

Those days seem so long ago and yet remain so very vivid in my mind and a part of who I am.

Please share the video with someone you love. Maybe it will help save a life!

The attitude epidemic….

“The world is what we think it is. If we can change our thoughts we can change the world” H.M. Tomlison

A funny thing about attitudes is that they are as contagious as colds. We truly tend to catch whichever ones we surround ourselves with most. No one is immune.

I have often found myself in a circle of negativity fully participating in the downtrodden conversation about how terrible this or that or him or she is. Soon thereafter upon reflection, I often end up feeling a genuine sense of shame that I chose to take part and more importantly chose to enable.

There was a day during my chemotherapy that served as perhaps the best reminder. I was sitting quietly in the waiting room before the start of my treatments when the nurse came in to get the gentleman sitting next to me. This guy was in obvious pain and poor health. The nurse asked, “How are you today?” Without missing a beat he replied, “Wonderful! My eyes opened this morning and the Lord has blessed me with another day”

How great it would be if we could all see our lives this way? What if we could just jump out of bed every morning praising God for the new opportunity to honor Him through our actions and our thoughts? What if we could just move forward with positive passion through every challenge? How different life would be as a result of a change as simple as how we look at the world.

These questions have challenged me today and forced me to look deep into my heart. I hope the same for you. I am praying today that we can and some small way be sick on attitude together. Who knows, you just might start an epidemic

Storms are a comin’

Seems like this last year I have done a pretty poor job of keeping up to post regularly here. Call it distractions, general busyness or perhaps just a lack of inspiration.

It seems so easy to get caught up in the malaise of life’s routine. While in a crises or nearing the completion of some great objective motivation abounds but in times of plenty it can be hard to move forward and easy to slow down.

The hardest of times for me are when things are going well. That is when it is easy to forget to take time to be alone with God. That is when it is easy to take time to forget to tell loved ones how much I care. That is when it is easy for me to skip the gym or have that extra piece of pie. These little things in the end add up to a time of greatest danger. After all, life is a series of storms and the good times are simply an eye before the next one.

Therefore I am mostly writing to myself today as a simple reminder to stay strong and to stay steadfast.

If you are in a time of passivity I would like to challenge you to rattle the bars and break through to a new goal. Now is the time to buy the rain gear for surely a storm is coming.

I am the problem

My son had his challenge day experience at PC North recently and the other day I asked him a question out of curiosity and his answer was as powerful as it was challenging.

Dad, “So how was your Challenge Day?”

Son, “Good”

Dad, “Curiosity question for you…It seems every time a teen really opens up to me about the pain he or she is experiencing the root of it all seems to always go back to the parents. Usually it is the conversation flows about divorce, money arguments, lack of love and more. What were the pain points in your group?”


“I bet it makes you sad that your generation is causing all of these troubles huh?”

Wow now that hit me in the gut for sure!

Yes son it does make me sad and you will recall from my Ignite OKC talk last year it also makes me angry.

Parents wake up! We are very much a part of the problem and it is time to take a hard look in the mirror and take a personal assessment of who we are as parents.

Are you being courageous in your conversations with your children? Do you love your spouse as you would hope for your child to be loved someday? Are you balancing your desire to be liked by your child with your responsibility to also teach through boundaries? Do you take time to just listen to your child openly and without judgment?

Personally I fail to be the dad, mentor and change agent I want to be often but I am striving to be as God has intended me to be.

My hope is that you too will take some time this week to look deeply within yourself and ask, “Am I the trouble” If so, now is the time to make changes.

What about you? What changes have you made in your parenting?

Kids grown? What advice would you give based on your past?

Challenge Day 2011

A couple of weeks ago I had the blessing to participate in the Putnam City West High School challenge day. Challenge day is an amazing program that the Putnam City Schools Foundation brings to all High School Freshman at a considerable expense. This program is made possible through generous donations from individuals and businesses from the area community. I can say with full passion that it is worth every penny. I have no doubt that at the very least it helps kids with the transition to high school. I also have no doubt that the program also saves lives of youth through the positive and healing message it brings.

One look into the tear filled eyes of a teen that has just opened up perhaps for the first time about the pain he/she is experiencing and you would fully understand. It has never been easy to be a teen in our world and now the pressures go well beyond what many of us adults have ever faced or will ever understand.

There are of course the big things you would stereotype for a large urban high school. Drugs, gangs, bullying and racial tension are there. Underneath all of this there is also a deep level of fear for the future and anger at the present. The norm for many if not most of these kids is a single or blended parent home. Many of them also find themselves often as an afterthought as parents struggle to pay bills and work long hours. As a result, childhood slips away and their hearts seek other ways to find love, confidence and validity as a person. The result of this seeking can often be devastating and begin another generational cycle of failure.

But there is hope! Programs like challenge day help open the eyes of teens and for some begin a healing process that would not have taken place otherwise. By the end of the day you see kids that may have never spoken to each other before hugging and committing to be open and caring. The mountain top moment in my group was when a young lady said to another, “I always thought your life was perfect and you had no problems. Now I know really deep inside we are the same.” Powerful

My son is a Freshman and PC North and will have the opportunity for his Challenge Day experience later this month. I am thankful for his opportunity for this experience and I am thankful for the Putnam City Schools Foundation and their generous donors for making it possible.

Can’t buy me love…but you can buy me a new car

My son recently turned 14 which means he is just a very short time away from him being car eligible. My first car was a 1974 Pontiac Ventura that I paid $400 for and then had painted a beautiful metallic blue. (see picture). Really it was a piece of junk and given my non-existent mechanical skills I was certainly no help to make it better but the car did do the job to get me from A to B. The good news also was that it was so bad I did not have to worry about spending extra gas to drive friends around.

Now with the son just a couple of years from car age the dilemma of how to handle this is very much on the family radar. A car payment, $3.50+ a gallon gas and outrageous car insurance has the potential to be a tremendous burden especially with college tuition on the way soon too.

Just the other day I saw a picture of a friend of mine’s daughter standing next to a beautiful brand new Dodge Charger and it got me to thinking about the pros and cons of how a car at 16 is handled by parents. Our son knows and has known for years there is no chance he will get a new car at 16. It is not economically viable for us even if we want to do so and if it can’t be paid for in cash it is out of the question.

I posted a question about this topic on Twitter recently to get some feedback. “Is it wrong to get a new car for a kid on 16th Bday? What do you think?”

Here are some of the responses:

@signs2uOK It’s not wrong if you are trying to compensate for not having a relationship with them, otherwise YES

@megancox I got a new car. Not on my 16th but after & yes my parents now seem crazy for doing that.We lived far outside of town so me having a car helped with driving to practices but I don’t think a new car was wise. I never wrecked though. Ha!

@okcblueyes I think it is wrong in so many ways

@Donaldohse Very wrong. Kid will just abuse it cause they don’t know what it is worth

@sparrowApril for sure, they won’t appreciate if start with a new car. My 1st car 2 years younger than me, 2nd care 2 years older w/AC

@tkmuskrat yup. I won’t be doing that for my kids and I got a beater for my first car. LOL

@ScouterKWC we did what our parents did. Get a part time job, pay for it yourself. They learn a lot of valuable life lessons that way.

@nf8m no one-size-fits-all but in general, what’s given isn’t valued as much as what is earned

@okcholloway huge waste of money. Sign of trying to buy happiness for your child to me. They won’t appreciate it as much as having to work for it.

@okcscouterhurtt a kid’s first car should be at least as old as his or her parent

@cgorshing so much wrongness—don’t know where to start

@_nichole My parents wanted us to have cars…made their lives easier. Not nice cars but safe affordable cars. That being said…I didn’t get a car until I had a parking spot at school which was 6 months later.

This is a great parenting topic for sure. I had a clunker but I also had friends with brand new cars. My concerns with a new car are twofold. Will a 16 appreciate the actual value of the car if she or he had little or no effort to obtain it? Are parents creating an additional family debt burden through the purchase when perhaps the money should be funneled to retirement, debt reduction or college?

Every family has a different point of personal reference when it comes to this topic and of course individual economic situations also play a factor as well as the maturity of the teen.

So….What are your thoughts? Is it wrong to get a new car for a kid on 16th Bday? What do you think?

What parameters do you think parents should set to determine teen car ownership?

Leave a comment here and share your opinion. I would love to see a bit of pro/con debate and I know others will learn from what you have to say.

A letter to Conner

Yesterday was the first day of high school for Conner and he turns 14 today. It just amazes me to think that we are now parents of high school kid. It really seems like yesterday when Michelle and I were changing diapers and taking turns with late night feedings. Now we take turns as a shuttle service from activity to activity and the late night feedings are more along the lines of trips to Peachwave. We know that soon even that will end with a car or at least buddies with cars.

Our journey through parenthood has been an incredible one and we honestly could not have asked for a better child. God has truly blessed our family.

Son—These next few years are going to be an amazing time for you. Our prayer as your mom and dad is that you will live a life of boldness. A life founded on a steadfast belief in Christ, in yourself, in serving others, in hard work, in education and in personal honor.

You will question who you are and you will be faced with many pressures you have not experienced before these next several years. I know there will be times when you will have doubts. I know there will be times when your heart will break. I know there will be times when you will fail. This is all okay and is to be expected.

I also know that God has an incredible plan for you that he decided well before the earth even formed. Now is the start of your time! It is your chance to fully step out into the man you want to be. The kind of man that does what is right even when it may hurt and the kind of man that has respect for others even when they may seem so different from you. You can be bold by not being afraid to take risks and by choosing your own path. We challenge you to be a positive influence on the world around you and always strive to give your best everyday.

No matter what these years bring you can count on the fact that your God and your family will be here for you through thick and thin.

We are proud to be your parents and are thankful for the joy you bring to our lives.

Love—Mom & Dad



This week Oklahoma lost four of our sons in Afgahnistan. No I did not know any of these soldiers but looking at their pictures in the paper in uniform next to the American flag I became overwhelmed with a real sense of sadness. Sadness for the families forever changed and in a way for our country in general.

While these incredible men and women are giving their lives for us daily we sit in our comfortable little worlds mostly oblivious. Meanwhile our “representatives” swap our futures away in exchange for petty self interest on both sides.

It seems the majority of us have never lived the word. We don’t know what it means to forget the self and feel some real personal pain for the other.

I used to think I knew sacrifice. I live below my means, I give my time as a volunteer and give a buck or two now and then. In reality though I have sacrificed little in my life and I bet most of you ride that same bus with me.

Together let’s:
Put away the credit card and stick some cash in the bank
Put down the phone and see what it like to be fully present with another
Turn off the TV and step into the community to serve
Give of ourselves with no regard to personal comfort
Put aside petty politics and make the hard decisions

This list could go on and on. The bottom line there is more to be done.

Thank you Sgt Anthony Del Mar Peterson, Staff Sgt. Kirk Avery Ownen, 2nd Lt. Jared Ewy and SPC Augustus J. Vicari for giving the ultimate sacrifice for something you believed in and for us. May we be in even the slightest bit worthy of what you have done so that we can be free.

Rough road ahead

Wouldn’t it be great if God placed little signs along our life road to let us know when trouble was on the way? This would give us the opportunity to slow down, take a different route or on some days just not get out at all. The truth is that in reality there is always rough road ahead. Life is hard and there is just no getting around that fact.
My lack of blogging these last few months is due in many ways to a season of roughness recently. I would be less than honest if I did not admit that it has been a challenging time in many ways. The loss of my mother law, family pet, a job responsibility change and few other things have all combined at once to lead me back to a white flag time of life.

Some people I know in these times fall apart and seek answers to the whys or perhaps lash out against family, friends or God in desperate attempts to restore balance and discover answers. It can be as simple as drama filled tirades or perhaps destructive personal actions with overeating, depression or worse.

I am lucky. First I have a long memory. No matter what I face today, it is no match for the things I have overcome in the past. Second, I have a short memory. Yesterday may have been hard but that is yesterday. Today I know is a new opportunity to start over and make the best of things. Third, I know who I am. My values, life purpose and personal vision are defined so that in times when feeling lost I can focus on these things and get back on a path of peace. Fourth I am loved. After 15 years of marriage and despite the silly things I do when stressed (lost keys, cranky attitude, forgetfulness, selfishness) my wife and family seem to always be there with encouragement. They do not give up on me.

Finally, and most importantly I have faith. Good times or bad I know that the Lord is here with me at every turn and every slip to say “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Mattew 6:34)

I hope that you have a personal foundation as well to be prepared when things get rough. If not, now is the time to get ready!

Middle School is over

Conner completed middle school this week and soon he will be in high school. It is a well-worn cliché to say “they grow up so fast” but indeed it is true. In the grand scheme of my overall life the years we have with our son living with us are so incredibly limited. This home time is made even shorter with the ever busy schedule of a teenage boy and a dad working the grind of a busy career.

Funny thing, just last week I spoke to a group about finding success through managing priorities versus time and here I am struggling to do the same myself. I think it in reality takes daily effort and the openness to realize that everything in life is a season. Sometimes in the midst of all the madness we need to pause and see where time is going and where we are placing our priorities.

I know that in these next four years Conner will take the steps to fully head down the path of being a man. I also know that this is the time that we as parents will need to step more and more back and begin to fully let him find his own way. We will be there in the boundaries of his life with proactive advice and of course the occasional “I told you so”.

In our father-son relationship these four years also represent a critical point in time. We will in a way grow closer through the process of growing apart. It is my prayer that God will provide me with the wisdom and the courage I will need to be there for Conner. I want to be there not as is his friend but instead truly as his earthly father.

So bring it on high school! Hand in hand, heart to heart and with the Lord guiding us I know Michelle, Conner and I are in for a fantastic Journey.