I recently had the wonderful opportunity for a full week of vacation with the family. I am a bit of an obsessive time off kind of guy and work to plan as much as a year in advance. We keep our away time simple and relatively cheap. Also, as a lover of the outdoors and adventure, the wife and son can pretty much count on some hiking or other activity that gets us out alone with nature. No TV, no phone, and no contact with the outside world.
Taking this time off is not easy. My job has a lot of responsibility. Since I manage people in multiple locations, there is an element of complexity that needs close attention daily. However important my position might be my team is not curing cancer and no one is going to die if an e-mail goes unread or a question does not get answered for a few days.
I also try hard to empower fully whoever may be my point of contact while I am away to make decisions on my behalf. I tell these folks that I trust their ability and will support any action that may need to be taken in my absence.
I understand fully that this time with Conner and Michelle is an invaluable investment in us as a family. I do not want my son’s childhood memories of dad to be the guy who was always on conference calls or constantly checking e-mail even when supposedly enjoying time off. I see many people doing this and it always breaks my heart.
What about you? When was the last time you stepped away to recharge, renew, and refocus your life? When you are with your family, do you strive to be fully present and shove aside whatever may be going on back at work? I can guarantee you that doing so will indeed improve your life as a spouse, parent and employee. Take some time this week to plan out a way to disconnect so you may in turn reconnect. You will be happy that you did.
Leave a comment and let other’s know what action you take to truly relax with the family.
July 4th was the first time my son has ever really had the opportunity to shoot off fireworks. In his own words it was “freakin’ awesome”.
I personally relish in the firsts and wish there were more. I remember fondly my first car(see picture), first date with Michelle, first day in our house, first day of Conner’s life, first day of school for Conner, and on and on.
This is in contrast to the lasts. We have many of those in life as well. There was the last time I saw my mother before she died of cancer, the last day of high school, the last day of college, the last day I would see a good friend, the last time Conner would play in a park, the last time he would hold my hand in public, and heck the last time I would not have any gray hair and on and on.
The lesson to me is that we must relish the firsts, the lasts, and every moment in between.
I hope you take some time in the next few days just to stop and enjoy the moment. No matter what you may be doing–that moment will never happen again. It is a first and a last indeed.
I grew up without a dad. My mother and father divorced when I was really young and then he died shortly thereafter. All I have of him are a couple a vague memories and a few faded pictures. There were no times tossing a ball, fishing together, going to camp, talking about girls or any of those father/son things all of my friends seemed to have. To say I grew up bitter about this and angry at God for my predicament would be a bit of an understatement. It seems like I blamed most of my youthful problems on not having this magical person called “Dad” to give me Yoda like guidelines about life.
I was fat. Why? No dad
I was shy with girls. Why? No dad
I was angry inside at the world. Why? No dad
I was angry at God. Why? No dad
And on and on…
The funny thing about the plans God has for our lives is that we don’t understand them at the time but usually it turns out He is preparing us for some greater purpose.
I was fat—Now, I love to run, ride bikes and hike
I was shy with girls—I met the love of my life through a blind date and now have enjoyed a wonderful 13 year start to a lifetime together.
I was angry inside—Now, I hate to see others in emotional pain and have a passion for serving others.
I was angry with God—Now, I know He wired me this way for positive reasons I still seek to understand.
I grew up without a dad—Now, I do all that I am capable to be a good father to my son and to be a good influence to boys/adults I serve in Scouting.
I hope as this Father’s day approaches you will take a moment to look at your gifts as a father and/or as a son. Are you striving to be the best God has wired you to be? Are you growing and learning even as you make mistakes?
Your actions today will impact generations to come. Make the most of it while you can.
My son loved Superman when he was younger. So much in fact that when he turned three several years ago we decided to have a Superman theme party. Let me tell you it was something. We scoured the Internet until we found almost every Superman item we could. Hats, a tablecloth, cups, cake, you name it we bought it. The heck with the college fund.
At the party it was exciting to have the plan come together. All the kids showed up along with the parents. Each had arms full of stuff that I knew I would be tripping over later. His favorite gifts were a pair of bright blue Superman underroos and a cape that a neighbor gave him. I loved watching him run around yelling, “I’m Superman! I’m Superman!”
A few days later we went for a walk. Conner of course insisted on wearing his underoos outfit and a pair of tall black rubber boots. I walked behind him as we traveled through the neighborhood and thought about this fascination that most young children have with superheroes. I can remember being that way myself at one time.
To Conner, he was Superman when he had that costume on. He could do anything! He was faster than a runny nose and able to leap large puddles in a single hop. Unlike most of us adults, he had yet to discover the limits of life. Every day was a learning experience and every moment an adventure to be had. Heck, as the picture shows, he did not even care about walking around the neighborhood in his underwear : )
Conner is eleven now and things are not as easy. Dreams of superpowers are gradually being replaced with the reality of life and of middle school. No more superman or superheroes. His cape has been replaced with the latest brand of clothing that all the other tweens are wearing. His rubber boots replaced with some brand of funky shoes that I have never seen before. Time spent text messaging, hanging out with friends, and swapping notes with girls is gradually replacing the simple joys we used to share together as father and son. Such is the way of life.
I am excited to see him growing up and yet at the same time I am sad to know the kryptonite we all experience as we grow up is waiting for him sometime in the future. My only hope is that his church, his Troop, his mother and I are indeed preparing him with the strength and wisdom to conquer the battles that are to come.
What about you? What are you doing to prepare your family and yourself for the battles of this world? Are you ready?
I recently saw this ad by the Sharp Company and it really got me to thinking. Is life so simple that I could literally change my life by just getting a new TV? Wow that is indeed amazing! Sharp to their credit does not say that your life will change for the better or for the worse. They only say it will change.
Okay Sharp! Last weekend I took your advice and purchased a 19 inch TV to replace the 21 year old unit in our bedroom. Sure, I am too cheap and watch too little TV to have cable in this room but I did nonetheless make the change.
A full week has gone by and for some reason I do not feel any different. I did have really strange sensation a few days ago but it turned out to be a cramp in my foot. I weighed this morning hoping perhaps to see a change there and unfortunately I am still fat. I looked in the mirror to see if perhaps I was somehow better looking and darn it no change there either. Oh well.
Just last night my son was on a phone talking to a friend about TV. I heard him say, “You have a TV in your room? Lucky! My dad says I can never have one in my room.” I was left to imagine the comment that followed by the person he was speaking with. Next to his credit my son was able to explain why. “My dad says when he was a kid he had a TV, phone, and video games in his room. There was never a reason to leave the room and never a reason to interact with the rest of the family as a result. That is why he wants the TV time and the game time to be something we do together”
That’s right son. I have changed my TV (habits at least) and changed my life by finally getting off my butt some 20 years ago and getting outside to exercise and enjoy my life.
Change your TV to OFF and you will indeed change your life.
What about you? Do your kids have TV’s in their rooms? Am I nuts here? Share your thoughts.
I ran the 10K in a local race called the Redbud classic this weekend for the first time in four years. I love running in group event like this and it was especially fun since my sister-in-law was participating in the 5K as her first ever organized run. A couple of weeks ago I found my results from the previous time I participated and was surprised to see how fast my times had been. My goal for this race was to try and match the time from 2005.
Did I do it? I actually ended up beating my per mile average by 30 seconds and I set a new personal record (PR) for the run. Now thinking back I realize several factors contributed to my surprising personal success.
1. I knew the results of my past attempts
2. I set a goal for my new attempt
3. I had feedback during the run of my progress thanks to a Garmin device that showed pace/average pace/total distance and heart rate
4. I was always working to catch someone in front of me that was going faster (Being more successful)
5. I had overcome adversity by choosing to run even though the conditions were less than ideal (windy and cold)
6. I had fun along the way by encouraging other runners and chatting
7. I knew my family was waiting at the finish line to celebrate my success
This is great lesson for how to handle other challenges both at work and with family.
1. The past results—I do this by writing in a journal weekly
2. The goal—I start every Monday with setting goals for the week
3. Feedback—I make sure that everyone on my team knows I am open to feedback and I proactively seek it from others in conversations and with a 360 twice a year
4. Catching someone—I have always believed there is truly nothing new and I am always seeking people that have succeeded and failed so I can learn from them
5. Adversity—I would not call my self a risk taker by any means but I am making efforts to step out and try new things even if I know it will be difficult or there is a high opportunity for failure.
6. Fun—way too many people I know take life too seriously. Sure work is important but shouldn’t there be some fun along the way? I keep things light and encourage laughter.
7. What I want more than everything is to reach the finish line of life exhausted, worn from giving it all, meet Jesus and have him say, “Well done my faithful son.”
What about you? What are you doing in your life to go for the PR?
One of the biggest milestone events for a parent is when time comes for “the talk”. You know, the one that is most likely way more uncomfortable for you as the adult to say than it is for your child to hear. I know most kids grow up never hearing frank advice in the home about sex or about money. This seems odd to me since we are all bombarded daily by almost every medium imaginable about these two topics. I figure it is better my son get the information from mom and dad vs. getting it from his buddy, visa commercial or from that first American Pie movie.
I am breaking new ground personally here since I am in the majority of people who never had this discussed in the home. As a result, I have been planning my talk strategy for quite some time. The battle plan moves to high gear this weekend with a father son overnight backpacking trip. It would seem much manlier to break into this subject on a trail in the woods while doing manly things. If nothing else, this way no one will be around to see my embarrassment and we will be too far out for him to run for the hills.
I am calling this little hike the father-son vision quest part 1. Part two will come in a couple of years during a high adventure event somewhere deep in the middle of nowhere. In addition to “the talk” we are going to spend some time talking about creating a personal vision of who he is and what he stands for. My tools for this will be the Bible and the Scout handbook. By the end of our hike, it is my hope that he will have a written personal vision statement that he will be proud to share. I also hope that he will strengthen his foundational understanding about sex and how God views his responsibility as a man.
What about you parents?
Have you had the talk? Do you spend time with your kids talking about setting a vision and living a life of honor? What key Bible verses did you use that you would recommend to me?
I will let you know how our Talk goes for us. Pray that I will have the right words to share.
The last several weeks I have been serving the youth at my church on Wednesday nights during a special event known as Big Switch. These nights are loud and raucous with literally hundreds of youth running around. My 11 year old son at first was very much against my serving since this was “his night” to be without mom or dad and have fun. On my part, I felt bad just dropping him off and wanted to find a way to contribute. I am not one of those drop and run kind of parents and I do love working with youth. The deal we worked out was that I would stay as far a way from him as possible during the evening. (We actually had a big laugh about this one together)
The students who participate run the full circle of the social and economic ladder of our community and goodness am I glad to have the teenage years well behind me. I have found the messages presented to be particularly powerful and I get as much or more out them as the kids do.
Two weeks ago the students were asked to write down on a card something they were dealing with that they would like to turn over to God. No names required—just write it down. As volunteers, we were asked to stand at the front of the audience and be available to pray with those kids that wanted it.
Two students approached me for prayer. I was a little overwhelmed to think these kids would have the courage to walk up to a complete stranger and have prayer over their most intimate issue. I chose to not read the card at the time and to instead just pray with the student and uplift the issue together to Jesus. Later when I read what was on the card my heart just broke. The issues were different for each but there was one commonality.
Both had deep pain that was in their mind ultimately being caused by their parent. As a dad, this was just a stark in my face reminder again of the impact I have on the life of my child and how eternally important it is that I do everything I can to be the best possible parent that I am capable of being. Yes I have made a lot of mistakes and I know I will make many more but at least I am out there trying to learn and to improve.
Clearly very few parents have come to this same realization. Most, I will argue operate in the blind spot and have no idea the mistakes they are making and pain they are causing. This pain has potential to be passed down to generations to come. Something has got to change.
Are you a parent?
What are you doing to equip yourself for this ultimate job? Do you have mentor? Do you read books? What is your strategy?
More to come……