Friday, March 31, 2006

Watching Lassie... ...and Other Good Times

Like most days, yesterday was pretty busy. I drove to a client's office in the morning, worked on proposals, bought and installed some new office equipment, rearranged my office to make it fit, and generally stayed busy all day long. I met Erin and the kids for supper at Pizza Hut. When we left there, Erin and the kids swung by the library to return and pick up some movies and then made a delivery to one of her customers. I, on the other hand, went to Walmart to pick up various needed items.

When we got home, Caitlin asked if I would watch Lassie with her. This is not something that would ordinarily appeal to me as an adult. I'm more an action-adventure or comedy kind of guy. But, my daughter wanted to watch a movie with me. We went and plopped down in front of the tube and watched Lassie. This wasn't the vintage flick, but a fairly recent presentation. As we sat, or sprawled, next to each other, Cailtlin kept leaning over and giving me hugs and saying, "You're the best Daddy ever!" Good stuff. These are the times I'll remember when she's all grown up.

After a while, her brother, Collin, came running into the room and piled onto my back. He bounced up and down like I was his favorite horse and he was getting a rough ride. He is such a funny kid. He's so expressive and animated.

I love my kids. I love them so much it hurts. Sometimes though, I get so busy I neglect to take the time to do simple little things like watching a movie, playing Hot Wheels, or kicking the soccer ball around the back yard. I know from my own childhood that those activities are more likely to have a lasting impact than big trips, fancy gifts or anything else. I pray that I take the time to be a good dad so that my kids enjoy their childhood and reflect as fondly on it as I do mine.


Monday, March 20, 2006

They're ba-ack

Spring Break is over and our kids are back. I love my kids. They are fun, funny, lovable and loving. That said, my wife and I just had a very nice week-long vacation without going anywhere or missing a day of work. Last Monday, Erin met my mom in Abilene to hand off the kids. They were going to spend a few days with my mom and a few days with Erin's. They both live in Lubbock and both just love getting to have our kids. The kids were ecstatic about the trip as well.

Erin made it back that day and thus began our vacation. We had lunch together almost every day last week. Some days it was just a sandwich at the house, but it was just us. We went out to dinner with friends (one set also had kids visiting grandparents for Spring Break and the other set don't yet have kids). We exercised together. We went and did things at odd hours. Erin got tons of work done. We essentially had a week-long date. We spoke with each other without interruption. The house stayed clean. We went downtown to watch the building get imploded. Although I had no doubts, it was nice to see that the two of us get along with each other just as well as we did before we had kids.

All that being said, by the time we were to pick them up on Sunday, we were really anxious to have them home. We aren't in any hurry to have them grown up and gone, but a little time here and there is nice.

-19.2 (Slow and easy wins the race.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sanctity of Marriage

I tell you what, God's institution of marriage is under a direct frontal assault. This has really been on my heart lately. We know so many couples with serious marital troubles.

When I married my wife, I married my best friend in the world. I pledged to her and to God to hold her interests above my own. I pledged to honor her, to be faithful to her, and to stay with her through thick and thin. We had dated for nearly 4 years, and knew each other better than many couples who have been married a few years.

The thought of intentionally (or even untinentionally) hurting my wife is anathema to me. When she hurts, I hurt. I know that she feels the same.

And yet, we know several couples where one or both of the individuals seem hell-bent on sending the marriage to the junk-heap. At best, they are unconscionably rude to one another. In the worst instance, one is blatantly flaunting an extramarital affair. In a third case, one has just moved out and refuses to consider a reconciliation. The fact that these people are willing to trash a relationship which is supposed to be second only to their relationship with God is sad enough. But, in all of these cases, there are small children involved. The offenders either pretend it won't affect the kids, or outright don't care. So, these people are ruining not just their lives, but those of innocent kids as well.

I believe that your relationship with your spouse is often a pretty good reflection of your relationship with God. This seems to be true in the cases of all of these marriages. One or both of the spouses have either quit coming to church altogether or quit interacting with Christian friends. This is almost as sad as the destruction of the marriage.

Please join me in praying for all of our marriages, families, and our relationships with God. Pray for our kids and their future marriages.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Accountability is an interesting concept. We use it to help get through things we wouldn't otherwise do. I am currently using several people to help keep me accountable as I am exercising and trying to get in shape. My wife and I made a pact that we would exercise together as often as possible and help each other watch those infernal calories. So far, we are doing pretty durned good with it. I have also started meeting 3 guys from church to run three times a week. That too is working pretty well.

We (the collective "We," not just me and mine) use accountability to maintain law and order. Why do most crimes happen in back alleys, or in dark or private places? The criminals know that someone is going to censure them in some way or another. This may come as a verbal retort. It may come as physical restraint. It may be through shame. We don't want other folks to know when we are doing something wrong.

We use accountability in our Christian walk through life. Sometimes we even over-do it. It's good when the accountability comes in the form of someone gently pointing out the error of your ways, or your not doing something so that someone will not have to do so (run-on sentence?). But, sometimes we simply put up a front so that nobody knows what's really going on in our lives.

Accountability is, to some extent, a manifestation of our competitive natures. Seriously, the reason that we show up to run is that we can't let the other guys think that we can't handle it. My wife and I are neither one wanting to "fall off the wagon" when it comes to getting in shape because we don't want the other to think poorly of us. We both know in our heart of hearts that the other wouldn't think ill of us regardless, but that's part of what drives us. The same thing is true with respect to law and order. We don't want other folks to know that we've had to resort to something underhanded to get by. Everyone wants to show that they can do it on their own.

I think that may be why God gave us a competitive nature, a consciense, and an innate sense of shame when we've done something wrong. Have you ever caught a little kid red-handed doing something he shouldn't be doing? What's their first instinct? They lie about it. You could show them photographic evidence, and they'd still lie. You might say that it's because they don't want whatever version of discipline that you're going to provide them after this event. That may be part of it. I honestly think it's because they are ashamed of themselves. They think that maybe if they deny it hard enough, you'll forget about it and they won't have to be ashamed.

I think this should be more of a factor in penalties for crimes. What do we do now with someone who has broken the law. Depending on what they've done, it ranges from a simple citation with a fine up to incarceration. I don't know about you, but if I knew that they were going to publish my name and picture on a web site if I'd been caught speeding, I might slow down. Jail, admittedly, scares the tar out of me. The rumors of physical abuse, sodomy, and other vile acts in prisons scares me to death. But, that doesn't seem to slow some folks down. They just keep going and committing crimes after they get out. I wonder if a little shame might be introduced back into the system.

Way back when, if folks got caught committing a really heinous crime, they were tried (if they were lucky) and executed with little delay. Accountability and shame had little to do with this. They thought that by removing that person from society, they were making things safer for everybody else. For lesser, but still serious crimes, they were either put in the stocks in a public area, or publically flogged. This brings up the shame and accountability discussed earlier. Who would want to have to have their neighbors walk by and say, "Oh, there's Michael. I just knew he was no good." Come on.

Well, I've wandered rather far afield from my initial scope, and I need to get back to work.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

A day for the kids

Yesterday was a day I spent mostly for my kids. The one thing I did pretty much for myself was my morning workout. Shortly thereafter, I left the house to attend a coaching seminar for Upward Soccer.

As I've previously mentioned, I'm going to be the coach for my son's team. This goes a bit outside of my comfort zone. But, they were short of volunteers, and I want my boy to enjoy his soccer experience. The pastor for Hulen Street Baptist was there to thank us for our participation and remind us that this is not just a sport season, it's a ministry to the kids and their parents. A former pro soccer player was there. He spent a good bit of the day teaching us methods to teach the kids, keep it interesting, mentor them, and exhibit the Lord to them. Although this was something done for my son, I felt blessed myself by the end of the 5 hour session.

I got home from this just in time to take my son to the birthday party of a friend. The party was at the TCU baseball game. In times past, taking Collin to a full-length sporting event has been... ...less than pleasant. But, he really behaved well. He got into the game. He played sweetly with the other kids. He followed instructions. He genuinely seemed to enjoy himself. And so, I really enjoyed myself. Again, an event that I wasn't necessarily excited about turned into a blessing.

So, a day spent in the service of others (mostly my son) turned out to have been a blesing to me. That vaguely seems like something I might have read in the Bible somewhere. Hmmm!!! That God fellow must be pretty bright. God, thank you for the many blessings you have showered upon an undeserving sinner. I love my wife, my kids, and my station in life.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Upward Soccer

Both of our kids are signed up to play soccer this season. The league is part of Upward Soccer and is sponsored by Hulen Street Baptist Church. This league is very different from the competitive sports leagues I remember from my childhood. The differences are good. Each child gets to play in every game. Coaches are expected to give a Christian devotional after practice every week and players are expected to memorize a Bible verse each week. At halftime of the Saturday games, a speaker presents a devotional to the entire soccer complex. Awards are given after each game to the best offensive player, best defensive player, player with the most hustle and the most Christ-like player on each team.

This is a very different experience from even the ones I had as a kid. Back then, parents didn't seem to cuss the officials, coaches and other players as is so often reported on the news these days. But, there also wasn't a direct effort at teaching or modelling Christ for the kids. And, even at an early age, it was obvious that if you weren't very good, you wouldn't get much game time. I was good enough that I played quite a bit, so I stuck with it. But, I knew a lot of kids who didn't get much playing time and quit after a few years. These kids missed some of the positive lessons learned from participating in team sports.

I know that if the kids stick with sports, as they get older they will want to play in a more competitive league. As a matter of fact, this league only goes through 3rd or 4th grade. But until that point, I am glad that they will get to be in this league.

My little girl is in second grade and played in this league last season. She had a very good experience. She enjoyed the game, learned a lot and made some friends. She surprised us by exhibiting a fair amount of athletic skill we hadn't seen. What didn't surprise us was her heart. She has always had a big heart and amazing understanding of Christ's intentions. She showed that all season long.

I have been asked to coach my son's soccer team this season. As a matter of fact, I am attending a soccer coaching seminar tomorrow morning. I am not worried about getting the rules of the game right. Those I know pretty well, certainly enough to fool a bunch of 4-year olds. What I am most worried about is my ability to keep my cool and provide positive reinforcement to a gaggle of 4-year old boys. I mean, my son can be the sweetest little guy you ever saw, but he can also be a little tyrant when he wants to be. Imagine a team of kids deciding to mutiny all at once. I need prayers that God will grant me calmness and let me know when to shut my trap. I want to make this a postivive experience for my boy and all the others.

-11.2 (Yes, I am keeping track that closely. If my scale measured 100ths of a pound, I'd post that.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Being "Dad"

It is a state of being you obtain as soon as you have a child. You become a parent. In the case of the male gender, you become a father. To some (to way too many), this is no big distinction. Many men either leave a trail of "fatherless" children behind them as a result of philandering, or simply don't appreciate the joy of the children in their home.

I was and am immensely blessed. I had as my example a great dad. He wasn't perfect and he didn't pretend to be. But he was a good man, a good husband, and a good dad. I had a pretty good role model. I miss him immensely and wish he could be here to see me being "Dad." He got to see me in that state until my oldest was only three, when he was taken from us by metastatic melanoma.

Being "Dad" is both very cool and a large responsibility. The responsibilities are (or should be) pretty obvious. You provide the means to feed, clothe, and shelter your child. You are (or should be) responsible for disciplining them and showing them the right path. You should be modelling what a child of God should be. You assist in their education. You worry about them.

A lot of fathers get many of the responsibilities right. Sadly, a lot of them forget the cool things. I do too at times. But the cool things are what make being "Dad" so rewarding. The first time you hear, "I love you Daddy," you are filled with a great feeling. The hugs and kisses at bedtime, the evening ritual of brushing teeth and saying prayers is great. The first time your kid bounds into your arms when you get home from work, it's amazing. Watching your kid with other kids and adults can be pretty funny. Watching them figure things out is intriguing. Sweet little pictures colored for you while they are at school or waiting for you to get home are treasured items and come to decorate your office. I baptized my daughter when she turned seven. The tears, joy, relief and pride just about made me burst. Knowing she had accepted Christ as her
Saviour was one of the best moments of my life. Watching Collin tell his sister, "I love you Sissy," melts my heart.

My kids are now only 8 (Caitlin) and 4 (Collin). I know I still have a lot to learn about being a dad. I know a lot of very pleasant and some unpleasant experiences await me. I am not yet anything like an expert on "Dad-ness," but I must say it is a great place to be.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 34th birthday. I can no longer consider myself in my "early" 30's. I am pretty much in my "mid" 30's now. And you know, that's okay. I am pretty happy with my life right now.

By many measures promulgated by the world at large, I would not be considered an outstanding success. I do not make a tremendous amount of money. I do no live in an enormous, posh home. I don't drive a fancy, new automobile. I don't take luxurious trips to exotic locations. I haven't invented a cure for anything. I don't control a government or a major international corporation. I am not dashingly handsome. I cannot sing at the Met. I am not a pofessionl athlete. I don't run a charity.

That is a very incomplete list of the many things I am not. But, I am okay with that list. I am very happy with what I am and what I do have. I belong to a God who thought I was worth the ultimate sacrifice. I have an amazing, talented, beautiful wife who loves God, me and our kids, in that order. A few years back, my wife and I started our own bsinesses. I am not Nelson Rockefeller, but we manage to pay the bills. We live in a cute house which is small by contemporary American standards, but is luxurious beyond the imaginings of a large portion of the world's population. We own two cars. We own them outright, as in no payments. That is the world's best option. Although they aren't new, they do exactly what we need them to, and they still look nice and are in good shape. I have two beautiful kids who are amazing to watch, teach, and learn from. So, by a number of standards, my life is very full and successful. I am richly blessed.