Browse Category: Everyday Lessons

A Gorgeous Take On What May Seem Ugly

A while back, Jen and I went on a little run. We dropped the kids off at the in-laws’ and spent a couple hours trekking through a local greenway. We got to experience the sunrise and a couple breathtaking views (we also ran some trails along the water). It was gorgeous!

In one part of the greenway, we ran through a brief stretch of marshland. It was a little swampy, wet, and not the most attractive site. So as we were running past mile 2 or 3, Jen turns to me and says, “This is gorgeous.”

Wow.

Immediately it hit me. Here I was thinking, “People probably run through this stretch every day thinking it’s unattractive, dirty, and an unpleasant view. And my wife said the exact opposite.

Isn’t that a fair picture of how God views us versus what the world may say? The world may label us, “You are ugly. You are broken. You are messed up.” But then God enters the picture and interjects, “No, you are gorgeous. You are healed. You are redeemed!”

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

I know I need to be reminded sometimes that God looks at my heart. There may be times that I feel messed up, hopeless, and broken. And in other’s eyes, they may see me as that – just a messed up guy. Thankfully, that is not the end. Christ has already entered the picture and claimed me as His son. He already said that I am made whole and full of hope!

Do you run? When was a time when you saw something “ugly” but it was, in fact, “beautiful”?

Yes, I Yelled At My Daughter

It happened last night during dinner.

My wife was at one of her yoga classes and I was by myself with the kids for a couple hours during dinner. Our oldest, Sophia, has been going through this phase lately where she’s hit or miss during mealtimes. Sometimes she is crazy about green beans. Other times she abhors them. Quite honestly, it has been frustrating.

And then it happened; I raised my voice and said something to the effect of, “Sophia, if you do not eat your food, we are done!”. It wasn’t that the message I communicated was wrong; it was my tone and the manner in which it was delivered. All of a sudden, I was condescending, harsh, and unforgiving.

Certainly it wasn’t a moment I was proud of.

Nobody's perfect...

Lately, God has been reminding me about the grand importance of speaking life into my children’s life. In an opposite-kind-of-way, this was how he showed me this last night.

In one split second I crush her delicate spirit. I was immediately convicted to ask for her forgiveness. I did and it was a humbling moment–a brief story I don’t plan on forgetting.

I can speak life into her by asking for forgiveness. It demonstrates humility. It admits a shortcoming. It places others above myself.

I want to always remember to affirm, encourage and admonish my children. In the same vein, I also want to remember to show them it is okay to be mad, upset and frustrated (in healthy ways).

In the end, I want my life to communicate that their daddy is far from perfect, yet points to a heavenly Father who is infinitely perfect.

Have you had to ask forgiveness from your child? What happened?

Photo credit: laurenbratton

Put Some Kid Glasses On!

Stylin' and profilin'.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” (Luke 18:16)

Jesus wanted the disciples to notice that the children saw things through a different lens–a lens without hindrances. He wanted to emphasize the importance of removing anything that impeded wholehearted obedience.

That reminds me that sometimes I need to have the perspective of a child.

I see us running late to an appointment. They see us enjoying the moment.

I see bad directions from the GPS. They see an opportunity to adventure.

I see an afternoon of ‘nothing to do’. They see time spent together as a family.

In what ways do you need to see things differently?

Opening The Door To A New Level Of Excitement

One of my special “Daddy moments” happens from time to time when open the front door after coming home from a long day at work. The first thing I hear is “DADDY!” My two daughters light up and sprint to my arms. It’s heartwarming and priceless.

How does that make me feel? Like the most loved and cherished person in the world!


The level of excitement that I arrive home to each day!

 Regardless of the “baggage” I’m lugging into the home, they accept, engage, and pursue me. They don’t care what I went through that day. They aren’t expecting me to bring them any gifts, or present them with a nugget of wisdom to complete their day. All they know is Daddy is home, so let’s shout, cheer and holler!

Isn’t that like our relationship with Christ sometimes? We’ll open the door to allow Him to work in and speak to our lives, and He responds, “MY CHILD!” Will there will ever be a time when He doesn’t accept and pursue us? Absolutely not.

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37)

Is that hard for me to realize at times? Sure! I mean, who am I? Why would God accept and use a broken wretch with baggage?  So you’re saying that He wants to use “little ‘ol me’ for His glory? Today I chose to believe this, and remember that without reservation He loves. Without abandon He pursues. Without hesitation He accepts.

In what ways has God shown/proven to you He accepts you?

Losing Sight of the Finish Line

Wednesday night started out just like any other night: dinner with my girls, bedtime routine, and some quality time with the wifey. Jen and I had decided to check out the movie, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but fifteen minutes into the film I started feeling queasy. I’m not a film buff, so I knew it couldn’t be Nic Cage’s quirky one-liners that had me feeling off beat. Nonetheless, Jen and I decided to retire the movie and call it a night. The thing is, I rarely ever get sick….. as a matter of fact, I don’t even remember the last time I felt queasy. Too bad the stomach bug wasn’t the least bit impressed with my record of physical health. From 11:00-2:30am I must have set an Olympic record in hurdles — jumping hurdles (aka the dollhouse plus accessories that have made their home on my bedroom floor) from the bed to the bathroom that is. It was horrendous, but after that 3.5 hour period, I thought I was good to go. 

It had only been 30 minutes after my bed-to-bathroom half-marathon, that we heard our oldest daughter whimpering in her room. Turns out , Sophia was my competition in the “Olympic hurdling” event that had unfolded that night, but sadly, she never made it to the bathroom because she couldn’t open the door. Fail. In keeping with the saying, “birds of a feather flock together”, we ended up bunking in the bed together for the rest of the night. It was a long night, but as horrible as I felt, I would have gladly taken her “tummy boo-boo” than see her like that.


Around 3:00 AM, wearing Daddy’s undershirt.

 It got me thinking: Initially, I thought the night was going to be all about me, but… it’s really wasn’t about me at all. When I run the race so focused on the “hurdle” (life’s circumstance), I inevitably lose sight of the finish line (the glory of God).  Paul set his sights on the eternal: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

 So often I think that I exist for myself and view life through selfish lenses. How will this decision affect me? When can I do the things that I want to do? Who is going to help me with this project? Instead of living life for the glory of God, I make it about me –my fame, my prize, my interests, my health, my security. The fact of the matter is, that God is passionate about His glory. He wants to make His name famous. God created Israel for His glory (Isaiah 43:1-7). It is because of His love that he is passionate about His glory. As John Piper says, “God’s love for us is not mainly his making much of us, but his giving us the ability to enjoy making much of him forever.” Convicting, huh? 

As a bonus, John Piper tweeted this yesterday. Felt it was spot on. “We do not exist for ourselves.” 

 

What hurdles keep you from pressing onward toward the finish line?

Paralyzed By Snow


Yesterday, my commute to work.
Here in Atlanta, our city completely shuts down when snow/ice hits the streets. In fact, this time around schools and organizations started closing the previous night before any snowfall! The metro Atlanta area ended up getting 5+ inches of snow, and the city was frozen in panic for a couple days.

In our own lives, aren’t we the same way sometimes? Like southerners gliding on a sheet of ice, oftentimes we aren’t able to keep our balance when it comes to transparency, fears and insecurities.

When I’m confronted on an issue of mine that may need changing, I get defensive and shut down. When an unforeseen financial cost comes up, I have worries of not being able to provide for my family. When the unexpected happens, I shut down. I make agreements with the enemy, giving him a place to work in my life. Lately, a fear of mine has revolved around providing for my family. While in my heart I believe that we will be provided for, fear often creeps in and diverts my focus to one of insecurity and uncertainty. Fear can make the largest man shrink into the most insignificant being. Fear blankets hope. Instead of living in the truth of God’s character (He is faithful, He is the Provider, He is sovereign), sometimes I chose to believe in the lie that I have to do it on my own.

God reminded me this morning that, no matter the situation, He is going to come through. I don’t have to do it alone. God has proven Himself to be faithful, even when our world says otherwise. He came through when David faced Goliath. He came through when Abraham was promised a son. And the truth is… He’ll come through with me.

Has fear ever gripped you in a way like this?

An Early Lesson In Grace

Over our Christmas/New Years holiday we put a few things down in our calendar that we wanted to do with the kids: watch some Disney movies, go to a local indoor playplace, and use a giftcard that we had for Coldstone. Disney movies are cute and all, and those indoor bouncy places are great for wearing down the munchkins, but the ice cream was what I was personally looking forward to. I mean, who doesn’t love French Vanilla ice cream, chocolate chips, cookie dough, fudge, and caramel all mixed together in heavenly goodness? Needless to say, I was looking forward to it.

Our plan was to head out after dinner, so we began our evening in the same fashion as we always did. Our kids eat everything, so we weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary before heading out for our family-date. But something happened: our 3-yr old would not eat her food. We aren’t ones to force feed, or assist her with the fork, simply because we know that she can feed herself. And when she didn’t want to touch her food we knew that some discipline needed to be involved.

We tried being patient and affording her a little extra time to eat her dinner. We tried a couple discipline methods like moving her food away for a few minutes so she could refocus, but we were stuck in the same spot. In my head I’m saying, “Just eat your food, so we can go to Coldstone!” But there we were, much later than we hoped for, and she had only eaten a fraction of what we wanted her to eat (our 19 mo ate 3 helpings!). What do we do? Follow through with what we said (no ice cream) or “give in” and potentially encourage behavior like this (where we knew that she knew that she was being disobedient)? 

We opted for option 3. After dinner, I pulled her aside and explained the situation. Jen and I both realized that we could use this as a mini-grace lesson in her life. Even in a small example as this one, we were reminded of the grace that our Father gives to us each and every day. In that moment, we knew that our daughter realized her error, yet her heart was still hard (she did not want to obey/eat). But the bigger idea we wanted to communicate was that God extends grace to us everyday and we wanted to show grace to her in this situation. We believe that in the moments of discipline or hard-heartedness, our hearts can be softened by the revelation of the grace our Father. So, when I pulled her aside and talked through the situation, I did my best to communicate that.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)

Is it too early to talk about this stuff when she may not fully grasp what we were trying to communicate? Maybe. But in the end, our hope that these seeds take root early in her life even though we may not see the fruit of them until later in her life. And, yes – we enjoyed the family ice cream date!

At and early age or not, how do you communicate lessons like this to your children?

Photo credit: Ultrateg