Fathering Daughters: Guest Post

Today, I am honored to guest post on Matthew Snider’s blog “Geek for Him“. A while back Matthew reached out to me with an idea. He was going to start a series on “Dad’s with daughters”. Each week he would feature a dad who was flyin’ solo at the homestead. That’s right, we are raising only daughters. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to help him out. With three precious angels of my own, I would love to impart any knowledge I can to other parents.

My “fathering” is a work-in-progress most of the time. While that is often the case, there is one thing I am certain about: I am uniquely equipped to raise these three beauties. I wholeheartedly believe that.

So, head over to Matthew’s blog and show him some love in the comments. Thanks!

 

I Found My Jesus On A City Street

I’ve been enjoying this Andrew Ripp tune for a few months. My ears magnetize with artists that have that soulful, raspy sound (think Ray Lamontagne, Marc Broussard, etc.). In fact, I could probably hit repeat and be perfectly content for hours. Watch and enjoy.

While the interpretations around this song may vary, the second verse struck me:

I found my Jesus on a city street
He gave me freedom through a trash can beat, honestly he got
Some kind of symphony
Soul, choir and timpani
I found my Jesus on a city street

Do I see Him in soft, dripping rain falling from the sky? Do I hear Him in a simple strum of a guitar? Do I notice Him in a kind word from a stranger? Do I experience Him when my children smile at me and say, “I love you, Daddy.”?

I want to start seeing (and noticing Him) in the small, simple moments of life.

In what simple ways have you seen God lately?

Revealed: Contest Results!

Just like Derek unleashed Magnum, I'm revealing pieces of myself to you...

On Monday, I posed the challenge of guessing which three random facts were indeed true about my my life. My purpose in doing so was to lightheartedly give everyone a glimpse into the randomness of what I like to call “My Life”. Three months ago, I wrote a letter. But this week, I wanted to be even more random.

So, without further adieu, the winners of said “7 Truths/3 Lies” contest are…. Matthew, Michael, John, Donald, Duane, Michelle, Kevin, Jennifer, and David. That’s right fine folks, we have a 9-way tie! While no one was able to guess all three correct “truths”, these ladies and gents guessed 2 of 3. Virtual Fist Bumps (or #KnucklePunches as my daughters would say) all around!

Here is my commentary and explanations:

1. I am so clumsy. I have broken the same toe on my right foot every year for the last 4 years.
False: I’ve never broken a bone in my body. I have, however, stubbed my right foot’s big toe every year for the last four years playing New Years Day flag football due to wearing cleats one size too small. So, yes: every year for the last four years my big toenail has gotten black, fallen off, and re-grown back. It is nasty every single time. (Note: I purchased new cleats a couple months back per my wife’s ultimatum).

2. While in Amsterdam, I was chased by Red Light District police officers at 2 o’clock in the morning.
True: While in college I spent three of my spring breaks on missions in Amsterdam. It was great. One year (2003, I believe), me and a couple folks got chased by a couple Dutch Po-Pos late in the evening. Apparently, video camera recording is frowned upon in that part of town.

3. The band I started in high school, Prehistoric Vader and the Phenomenon, sold 103 albums over the course of 8 glorious months.
False: That would have been a sweet name for a band, right? The closest I got to being a rockstar was performing Oasis’ Wonderwall at a youth center in Amsterdam during one of our trips. I can’t count leading worship as I’ve never worn skinny jeans and a fedora.

4. My great-grandfather was a silent-film movie star from Las Cruces, New Mexico.
True: I remember finding this out at one of our family reunions. Along with being an Assemblies of God minister, he was a bona fide movie star. In other words, I’m practically royalty in the eyes of The Academy.

5. I wasn’t the most popular “Dustin” at my elementary school. That title belonged to none other than Dustin Diamond.
True: That’s right, folks–Screech himself went to Zion Lutheran school in Anaheim, CA. I even have a few yearbooks laying around somewhere in my parent’s attic with his goofy picture in it.

6. I am childhood acquaintances with Jessica Alba. In fact, we “went out” as third graders.
False: I did grow up in California, but I didn’t see or interact with many celebrities. Unless you count the time I met MacGyver (RDA, himself) at a Kings’ game. See, I told you I was royalty.

7. I can recite every single lyric by heart from the Foo Fighters’ iconic sophomore album “The Colour and the Shape”.
False: I wish this were true. This album is Top 3 of all time for me. I remember when it was released at the end of my Freshman year in high school. Loved it then, love it now.

8. Three years ago, my brother and I flew out to New York as part of a final casting decision for The Amazing Race. Sadly, we didn’t make the final cut.
False: Every year I say to myself that my brother and I should fill out an application. I swear we would not only do really well, but I think we would also appeal to the casting directors (opposites, goofy, etc.).

9. I gained notoriety in college for being the guy who wore a bathrobe to class (yes, I was “The Bathrobe Guy”).
False: Sadly, no. We did have a “Bathrobe Guy” in college, though. He was in my Real Estate class. I found his wardrobe fascinating.

10. My second car was a old, restored ice cream truck. Regretfully, I could never get the music to play on the sound system.
False: Now this would have been awesome, but I’m actually still on my second car right now. Had a ’91 Jeep Cherokee in high school, and have a ’01 Jeep Cherokee right now. My next car will be a minivan. Fail.

There you have it folks — a little glimpse into my life. How about you? Care to do a 7 Truths / 3 Lies yourself? Let me know and link up if you do. I love some randomness!

If you had to be childhood acquaintances with someone, who would you choose?

7 Lies and 3 Truths

Said in my best Zoolander voice, "Who am I?"

Today we are going to play a little game–a little get-to-know-you game of sorts called “7 Lies and 3 Truths”. My life (as I’m sure yours does as well) has many random characteristics for sure. Below are 10 statements. Three of them are true, while seven of them are false. I’ll share on Wednesday’s post the “answers” and do a little commentary as well.

Your turn: Comment with the three that you think are true… Winners will get a virtual fist bump (or #KnucklePunch as my daughters say) from yours truly. Enjoy!

1. I am so clumsy. I have broken the same toe on my right foot every year for the last 4 years.

2. While in Amsterdam, I was chased by Red Light District police officers at 2 o’clock in the morning.

3. The band I started in high school, Prehistoric Vader and the Phenomenon, sold 103 albums over the course of 8 glorious months.

4. My great-grandfather was a silent-film movie star from Las Cruces, New Mexico.

5. I wasn’t the most popular “Dustin” at my elementary school. That title belonged to none other than Dustin Diamond.

6. I am childhood acquaintances with Jessica Alba. In fact, we “went out” as third graders.

7. I can recite every single lyric by heart from the Foo Fighters’ iconic sophomore album “The Colour and the Shape”.

8. Three years ago, my brother and I flew out to New York as part of a final casting decision for The Amazing Race. Sadly, we didn’t make the final cut.

9. I gained notoriety in college for being the guy who wore a bathrobe to class (yes, I was “The Bathrobe Guy”).

10. My second car was a old, restored ice cream truck. Regretfully, I could never get the music to play on the sound system.

Okay, your turn. Which three are true? I’ll share which three on Wednesday, shed a little light into my life, and hopefully give out a few virtual bumps!

(And family… you know who you are… don’t spoil the answers in the comments. :))

Also… What is a completely random fact about your life?

An Unforseen Diagnosis

Last week was full of ups and downs.

On Monday (the 18th), we got a call from our pediatrician. Results from Harper’s newborn screening (standard tests they take in the hospital a day or two after she is born) came back and there were abnormalities in some of her genetic mutations. Long story short, there was a chance she could have cystic fibrosis (CF).

Our precious little angel.

We were devastated. CF is a genetic disease that often causes respiratory infections; one that we didn’t have any control over. Immediately racing through our minds were questions like: how could this happen? was it a medical testing error? will this affect her life? why do we have to wait this long to find out for sure?

We found out this initial information on Monday yet the doctor told us we couldn’t get further testing until the following Tuesday. We had to wait over a week?! More than anything, the waiting and not knowing was what choked our spirits.

Thankfully, Jen was able to do a little leg-work and get Harper’s appointment transferred over to a different hospital on a different day. Instead of playing the waiting game and worrying over the weekend, we were able to go in and get the test completed and analyzed on Thursday.

After all was said and done, we ended up finding out Harper’s diagnosis: she is a healthy carrier of CF, which means it won’t affect her life whatsoever until she decides to have children when she is older. If her spouse also happens to be a carrier, there would be a 25% chance her child could have CF. It also means that I am unknowingly a carrier of CF (since Jen tested negative for the mutation that Harper tested positive for during her pre-pregnancy testings).

We were relieved.
We were comforted.
We were grateful.

It it begged the question: would we continue to glorify God even if “the worst happened”?

A friend of mine, who was praying for our little girl during the week, emailed me something quite challenging:

In principle, what would you and Jen do if Harper is diagnosed with CF?  Would it diminish your faith?  Would it call into question God’s goodness?  Would you become angry and disillusioned, or would you simply take it as His will and realize that everything will be okay.

I am saying that perhaps you and Jen might brace yourselves for every possibility, and remember that no matter what, He is to be praised.

While it has been a week since we received the “good news”, I have been chewing on that email ever since then. Do I question God’s sovereignty? Absolutely not. Is it hard to release control of things that are out of my hands and just trust? Absolutely yes.

Have you ever received unexpected news that stretched your faith?

The Isolationist Mentality

Helen Keller once said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

Thinking about that quote, one question came to mind: Do we sometimes mistake solitude for isolation? I think I do.

On Monday, I touched on how I want to take advantage of the “little solitudes” that come about during my day. What that means for me is intentionally spending time with God even during the seemingly insignificant moments — simple moments like my commute to work.

But in larger examples, after thinking about it, I think I may suffer from what I call The Isolationist Mentality.

Definition of an Isolationist: a person who believes that his or her country should not make alliances with other countries

An isolationist refuses to enter into alliances or agreements with foreign entities. Isolationism, at its core, focuses on its own country–it’s own people. While the definition of an isolationist has political roots, I find it can directly translate to how I view relationships at time.

Rather than viewing solitude as an intentional time to commune with my Father, I look at it through a self-serving lens. This mentality feeds on self-service, thrives on covetousness, and breeds isolation. How can I recognize these tendencies in my life? For me, the following thoughts are indicators of this mentality’s presence in my life:

  • I can do things by myself.
  • I don’t need to call this person–they’re probably doing okay right now.
  • I need to have/deserve some “me time”.
  • I don’t want to rely on any friends for help.
  • I am not going to make a difference anyway.

Instead of saying to myself, “Oh, I don’t need this person in my life right now”, I want to switch my thinking and tell myself, “Maybe this person needs me in their life right now.” I also want to remember the importance that God places on friendships and community. He has placed certain people in my life for a reason. In the same vein, He has placed me in other people’s life for similar reasons. Not only has He has called both you and me to fellowship with other believers, but He also desires both transparent and authentic living. I feel a solid example in scripture is in Acts 2:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and good, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

How do you curb “The Isolationist Mentality” in your own life?

Selfish Solitude

Photo credit: Jeremy Staveley

Last year, I went through a book with my men’s coffee group called “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster.  He details out the central spiritual practices of the Christian faith, what they look like, and how you can practically apply them into your life. I found the book to be pretty compelling, and felt like it could be one of those “reference books” that you just seem to come back to every now and again. The chapter on solitude in particular stuck out to me. Foster writes about how Jesus used times of solitude to hear from the Father, and about how God uses the Discipline of Solitude to promote growth in our personal walks with Him. True stuff. In fact, both Michael Hyatt and Charles Lee wrote about alone-time and solitude a while back. I agree with Foster, Hyatt, and Lee…

But…

I’m just going to go out and say it: I view my solitude selfishly most of the time. Do I take advantage of the quiet times I have? Probably not. Between a full day at work, coming home to a wife and kids, I don’t get much alone time. So when “that” does happen, my first instinctual reaction is to be like, “Let me do what I want to do!”. A question that kept coming back to me as I was reading (and a lot lately) has been:

Do I view my “solitude” selfishly or as a way to experience God personally?

Confession: without fail, when I have some “me time” it always used to do something that involves just me (surfing the internet, writing a post, watching TV). I know I could take advantage of the quiet times God gives me to know Him more. I think we all need to evaluate our hearts during times like these. I know I do. So, what’s next? I like how Foster encourages you to take advantage of the “little solitudes” that fill our day. For me: that may mean capturing the quiet moments each morning before the rest of the house is awake to create space for some God-time.

How do you view your “alone time”? What steps can you take to intentionally foster solitude in your life?

A Link To Enjoy

Last minute, for today’s post I decided to switch things up and just share a friend’s post. If you didn’t read on Monday, Moe guest blogged here on AC. Today on his blog he shared something I felt was spot on: as part of his “The Usual Suspects” Friday series, he spotlights none other than Jesus–the reason why we’re all here in the first place.

Be sure to click on over and check it out. Bookmark it, print it out, and post it on your bathroom mirror. Here is a snippet…

Today’s usual suspect is the reason why there are any suspects at all. Without Him there would be no you. He is the reason for existence. The reason why we can read this text on this blog. Without Him there wouldn’t’ be a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Without Him there would be no beauty, no hope, no love, no faith! Who is He? None other than Jesus.

Continue reading…

Enjoy your weekend folks.

MacBaby

I am an unashamed Apple fanboy.

No doubt about it.

I made the wise choice about a year ago to ditch the PC, and to be honest, I won’t turn back. The other day I thought it would be fun to show my oldest daughter (3) my work laptop. We went through the dock icons and messed around with the touchpad. She loved it. I was a proud papa!

The next day she surprised me with the following gem:

With the exception of the Mashable app, she remembered each one. Wow!

Is she going to be a techie? Perhaps. Is she going to be a Grand Master of Memory? Maybe.

To be honest, I don’t know what “she’ll be”. But I do know what I can do: I can love. I can protect. I can serve. I can be an example. I can pray. I can lead.

Now… to just start working on my almost-two year old and three week old… gotta get them indoctrinated pronto!

Apple or PC? Favorite app?

The TV Stand: A 21st Century War Story

Today I have the honor of having Moe Vivas guest post on Abraham Chronicles. I’ve gotten to know Moe over the last few months through the interwebs, and I can say with certainty that he is on my “have a cup of coffee with before I die list”. Moe blogs and tweets like a professional (yes, a professional tweeter). He’s an Apple fanboy, loves his family, and has quite a way with making you laugh with the written word. Be sure to show him some love in the comments!

I never really understood how difficult it was to build furniture. When you see it on display in the store, you think “that looks easy”. But that’s not always true. A few years ago, I purchased a TV stand. What I didn’t know was how difficult it was to build something that looked so simple.

From the time I could stand, I was baptized in the fire of combat. I was taught never to retreat, never to surrender. I had learned that death on the battlefield was the greatest glory I could achieve in my life. I was taught to show no pain, no mercy. I was constantly tested, tossed into tough situations. Left to pit my wits and will against any enemy, be it toys, animals, or in this case…a TV stand.

I opened the box and sorted out the materials. I begin picking up pieces and adding a screw here and there. I moved carefully around its sharp edges to avoid any injuries. Too late, one of my hands was scratched with a screw. “Battle scars” I whisper to myself. No good war is ever fought without scars.

My eyes are focused as the small furniture begins bearing shape. Don’t let progress fool you; it still had fight in it. It begins to get wobbly. I take a few steps back and drops of sweat begin to fall from my brow. My hands are steady, swinging the wrench from one hand to the other, slowly striking when I see an opening. It begins to submit to me, It forms… It’s done. It’s perfect!

I raise my weary arms in victory and manage to find enough strength to yell out, “It is finished!”

I get some Iced tea and being to stare down my beaten opponent. Then I begin to see an unfamiliar sight. One of the wooden pieces was screwed with the unfinished side of the wood towards the front.

“It is mocking me”, I said to myself.

I tried to loosen a screw here and there and turn the piece around, but I wasn’t successful. I had to take it all apart and start the war again. All because I didn’t read the manual. It took me another 2 hours to put it together right the second time around.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

We make a mess out of things because we often forget to go to the manual. God’s word is our manual. With it, we are complete. Without it, we are like a fine piece of furniture with the unfinished side to the front.

What part of you is showing its unfinished side?

What is the manual (God’s word) telling you to do today?