Flying Blind

But flying all the same

Tag: family

Surprisingly Jealous of a Pharmacist

I wrote this almost 6 months ago and sat on it.  I wanted to make sure that I was not just letting emotional lightning scorch the keys and then publish a vain and wayward post.  As I have had my coffee with Jesus over the last several months, I still feel the same way… even though some things have changed.  So…

 

Jealous may not be the word I am looking for, or even the best word to describe what I am feeling, but what I feel seems to feel a lot like jealousy.

And why wouldn’t I be jealous?

Meet Dan.

I have seen Dan struggle, think, sacrifice, and work like a mule in order to become a pharmacist.  (I still don’t see how it is all that hard though, I mean, you’re just counting pills and calling people’s names right?  Just Kidding!) I have seen Dan persevere through some mentally and emotionally grueling days and I rejoiced with him and his family when he landed a job.  Albeit a LONG commute each day from home and not quite the environment that he had hoped for, but a job none the less.

When we made our detour trip through Washington en route to Japan, Dan picked us up from SeaTac.  He told me about this great opportunity that, more or less, just fell in his lap.  As Dan was telling me the ins and outs of what was going on, I was getting super excited for him.  I felt as though he was scared of committing to this new opportunity.  Did I mention that Dan is a calm, quiet, gentle man?  Though I was busting at the seams with excitement for him, I tried to temper that and merely encourage him to take the offer, or at least meet with whoever he needed to meet with to see if things really were going to be as good as they sounded.  Were it my decision, I would have jumped at it in a heartbeat.

My family stayed with Dan and his family while in town and used his home and backyard as a defacto base of operations.  We had many MANY late LATE nights with some of the people we were involved with before we left the Great State of Washington.  12108974_10153654713010682_7792035204522113729_n

 

Dan sat with me every night that I was there.  His house became a revolving door of men, one at a time, or married couples, coming in and going out almost constantly in order to spend time with me or my wife and I (and sometimes just my wife) and Dan was by my side for almost every bit of it.  These people would share with us the joys and sorrows, the victories and struggles of their lives over the last year or so and would look to Jessica and I for advice, counsel, and encouragement… which we were STOKED to give.  (Something in me just comes magnificently alive when I get to function in this role)  I would listen and would engage, all the while noticing that Dan would have his fingers running at mach 3 through the pages of his Bible.  At one point it seemed like he had 13 fingers holding 15 different passages of scripture in queue.  Dan would say nothing… or almost nothing… most of the time.  When he would speak up, I would be blown away by the depth of his wisdom and insight.  Every.  Single.  Time.

When Dan and I would talk after all of the visitors had left, I would be amazed at how concerned Dan would seem.  These meetings were adventurous bouts of spiritual and emotional grappling which fuel my fire and leave me refreshed and encouraged at the end of the night.  Did y’all catch that?  These long hours and stressful, delicate conversations  leave me refreshed and encouraged.  These meetings are things that I pursue and run after, engaging every chance I get with little hesitation.  Like jumping out of the car and running down a wilderness trail with reckless abandon.  Dan seemed to view these meetings with… um…  well… with what seemed like a bit more maturity.  He seemed to be, at the same time, intimidated and confident, simultaneously academic and studious while being deeply burdened and frankly concerned.

This seems to have rabbit trailed from why I am jealous of a pharmacist to simply being a tribute to my Bro-mantic feelings for Dan.  I digress.

Why am I jealous of this man?  He has been deeply blessed in a very real, tangible, public way.  That is what fuels my jealousy.  This is such a problem for me.  I see Dan’s life and I see the principles and themes present therein and I immediately think that if I apply these to my life, then I too will be blessed in a truly deep, tangible, and public way.  If I make the right sacrifices, if I work hard enough, if I study long enough, if I persevere and endure the hardships, then one day I too will be as blessed a man as Dan.

How ridiculous is that?!?!

While Dan did work and sacrifice, he was not blessed because of these things, he was blessed because he was a man of integrity who spent time in the word and on his knees before God.  Every conversation that Dan sat in on while I was there was, for him, an exercise in blowing through the scriptures finding dozens of references that applied to EVERY topic we were discussing.  That cannot be faked.  That cannot be developed in a matter of weeks or even months.  That is the evidence of a man who knows the cannon of Scripture.  Likewise no amount of hard work alone will result in the kind of blessing in my life that Dan is seeing in his… that is a result of falling broken and contrite, scared and alone at the mercy of Jesus.

And one more thing…  why am I chasing His public, tangible blessing with such fervor when what I should be chasing is simply intimacy with Christ?

And if that wasn’t enough, why do I feel so moved and motivated to see such a blessing in my life… as though being healthy, having such great relationships with my wife and kids isn’t enough?

I know.  I can be so shallow sometimes.

Dan, if you are reading this, I am proud of you (and I feel a lot like a little boy saying that to an adult).

Truly I am.

 

 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

I sent this to Dan in order to get his perspective and permission to post this.  I sent it to him almost 6 months ago and the following paragraphs are an excerpt from his response.  I hope y’all can hear the depth of this mans heart.  I have a deep yearning to sit again with this man and his bride by a fire.

 

When I was reading what you wrote I was really thinking, “I had no idea he thought that way.”  I honestly did not know you understood why I am who I am and the beatings required to walk this road.

Things that are true:  When I was at [Grocery Store] as a pharmacist, I was taken emotionally and mentally to my very limit.  I would have lines of people who had come to speak to me; a couple that had just lost their first child at the very end of  pregnancy, a man just diagnosed with a brain tumor, a woman who had just been raped, a mother with 3 children who just found out she had 3 months to live, an old man whose wife of over 50 years had just passed.  All of these one after another after another.  It wears on you.  I do struggle, I feel burdened, intimidated, concerned and find it hard to keep up in conversation with quick thinning people.  I do try to be calm and gentle.  I want to be mature, studious, wise, insightful, quick-thinking, and easily able to navigate scripture to the exact reference.  It is very true that I feel very blessed.  God has provided a new pharmacy with an owner who expects me to be in prayer.  My wife is a blessing to me and all those she comes into contact with.  She is a far better pharmacist than I am and yet she has sacrificed a career which she loves to serve our family and God.  My oldest son as a teenager is thinking about others and praying that he and his friends would delight in reading the Bible and loves time together as a family.  My younger 2 children have confessed that they are children of God.  God has richly blessed us beyond what I could have planned out.  Not one of these things is because of me, they are in spite of me.

 

He says “In spite of me.

 

Funny thing is… a few months after he sent me his response, he told me that the new pharmacy job dried up and life again was looking difficult in front of him.  His question to me…

“Still Jealous?”

 

And my answer…

 

Yes, Dan, I am.  Why wouldn’t I be?

 

…  and again, Jealous may not be the best word to describe it anway!

 

 

My Kids Are More Mature Than Me

I am in a position right now between the Navy and my family which is pretty rough.  I am handling it pretty well, but it is awfully hard.  As I have told my story to a couple friends, I have heard the response,

 

“You are a better man than me”

 

I usually dismiss that phrase because I know it just isn’t true.  These guys are men of character, men who would respond very similarly to how I am responding were they in my shoes.

My kids, on the other hand, really are “better” than me.  I hope they stay that way.

 

Because I did not make it through the school I was in, I fall at the bottom of the Navy’s priority scale for selecting orders.  As it turns out, the only set of orders that I am allowed to have right now are to a foreign country.  I’m not upset about that.  Jessica and I have wanted to take the family overseas for years.  Herein lies the problem.  Because the family is so large, we may have to be separated for 2 years.  The orders I am taking will allow me to bring my family with me, but there are other restrictions which can cause my family to be left behind and, at this moment, there is a very real chance that they will not join me.

Can you understand the sadness, fear, turmoil, and agony which I am swirling in?  It is hard stuff to say the least.

I knew I needed to tell my kids.  It isn’t fair to them to have them going to the appointments and screenings and for them to feel the tension in Jessica and I and to have no idea what is going on.  We have always spoken to our kids as though they are capable of understanding the life which swirls around them, and this is no exception.

I sat with my older 2 and explained to them that I may be going overseas and they will probably have to stay here.  Neither of them cried.  They got quiet, but didn’t even seem to get sad.  I explained it again… That I AM going overseas for 2 years and they ARE NOT going with me… for 2 years… separated… without me.  Again, no great emotion came out of them.  I asked them,

 

“Are you sad at all that your dad will be gone for 2 years?”

Answer:

Daughter – We are sad…

Son –  Yeah… but we don’t know for sure if we will be apart or not

Daughter – … but we can trust God

 

Whose kids are these?

Surely not mine!  Surely not the offspring of a man who walks with such uncertainty and fear upon his shoulders.  Surely not the son and daughter of a man who agonizes every detail of a plan in order to ensure the best possible outcome.  Surely not the kids of a man who can talk about God, Christianity, Faith, and Trust but falls hopelessly short when his back is up against a wall.

My kids are more mature than I am.

This little conversation we had, coupled with a Vacation Bible School song that they love (You Can Trust God) and play on their stereo over and over again, as well as other conversations I have had in the midst of this decision has me really pondering the goodness of God.

The congregation my wife came from regularly participates in a call and response during their Sunday morning worship.  The pastor says, “God is good” and the people say “All the time”.  Then the Pastor says “All the time” and the folks say “God is good”.  I believe this to be true.  God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.

But I am not a blind Christian, I don’t just check off the boxes without thinking (or feeling) about the stuff I am agreeing with and forming as a part of who I am.  This is one of those moments.

I can continue to walk around under this painful cloud feeling like I am under a storm and over a barrel because I don’t know whether or not I will be separated from my family for 2 years.  This is what I am doing right now.  It essentially says that I do NOT believe God is good… or rather, I do NOT believe God is good ALL the time.  Most of the time maybe.. A lot of the time for sure…  But all the time?  Do I really believe that?  My thoughts and feelings right now say no.

Now y’all hold on a minute before you send me encouraging and correctional emails and messages.  I know what the right answer is… and that is the point.  I could swallow what I am feeling and hide it from the world (which I did for SOOO LONG) and I can give the right answer and nobody in the world would know that a Man of God has a hard time grasping the full implications of the God he follows.

Here are the hard questions in my heart.   If I am separated from my family for a period of 2 years, where is God’s goodness in that?  Where is God’s goodness when it comes to my kids growing and struggling with identity/purpose/value troubles and my wife is left alone to encourage them?  Where is His goodness in this?  For that matter, where was His goodness when Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Jim Elliot, Ed McCauley, and Pete Fleming were killed on Palm Beach leaving their wives and kids behind?  Does God’s goodness address my desire for comfort or the feelings of security at all?

I am reminded of a verse in Romans that says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

Where is God’s goodness in the death of His Son?  In the temporal perspective… I’m not seeing the goodness.  With an eternal perspective, the goodness of God is realized in the redemption of mankind.  In the temporal perspective, there wasn’t much good about the previously mentioned 5 men dying on a beach, but within a generation or 2 the rampant murdering and revenge killing of an entire tribe of people came to an end.

On the one hand I want to reject the idea of God’s enduring, timeless goodness in exchange for my own temporal comfort and pleasure.  But I know the way that seems right in my heart will lead me to my death.  I know the other hand leads down a painful road which, for some, has held certain death, but it ends with redemptive healing in the lives of others for generations to come.

I should be more careful with what I hope for… what I pray for.  Though I have asked many times that God would grant me influence in the lives of men so that His kingdom will advance through my labor to many cultures for generations to come, I do not want to take the road necessary for Him to use me to that end.

I want my family to go with me.  I have tears in my eyes as I finish up this post because of the pain which I feel when thinking of being separated from them.

I fear that my family will not be able to join me.

And I am resolved to bear my true character in the face of adversity with hope, trusting that the temporal pain to be experienced by my family will surely result in the realization of a theme of Scripture and Christianity…

 

God is good

                    All the time

All the time

                  God is Good

I Found My Max Capacity

I was frustrated.

I was angry.

I was moving away from Washington State.  I had developed some really intimate relationships with some of the men I met up there and had started meeting with them at least once a week.  I was spending close to 8 hours per man each week praying for them, studying with them, counseling them, challenging them… shepherding them.

I had prayed for a long time that God would send a replacement for me or that He would develop one of them to step in and start shepherding that little flock in my place after I left.

It didn’t happen.

A couple weeks before we left Washington, I heard that another fella who is a part of the same ministry team that I am a part of was moving into the area.  I was excited to say the least.  I then found out that he had no plans of connecting with our little posse… he had no plans to lead it, to shepherd it, or to even meet with it.

In my frustration, I called the head guy for our team and expressed to him my frustration.  The team leader’s response was pretty simple…

This man will be working a very specific and demanding job while

in Washington and simply does not have the capacity right now to

be involved.  I’m sorry.

I was dumbfounded.

He doesn’t have the capacity?

What a poor excuse!

The team leader tried to explain to me that not everybody is capable of the same amount of stress, or relational tenacity, or multitasking agility.  It was so hard for me to understand.  I kept thinking that if I could do it, while being a husband, a father of 4, and a Sailor, surely this fella could do it.

Fast forward a year and a half.  A long, painful, cold, and dark year and a half.

I have been in school for a long time.  I was dropped from my original class and placed in the class behind me… akin to repeating the 3rd grade.  While going to school, I had a handful of “distractors” stack up in my personal life.  To name a few, and just a few, my grandpa passed away last Thanksgiving, my brother had a tumor removed, was diagnosed with cancer, and started chemo, we went through an eviction proceeding following a long period of no income on our rental home in NC, and have been the recipients of a lawsuit threat from an employee of a real estate company.

It all finally stacked up against me.  Between the rough relationships in my extended family and me feeling like I have a responsibility to mend them, the loss my family has suffered, the strained (but healing) relationships between my wife and I (and my kids and I), and the lack of local friends (because I was too busy with school, there are good people here who care about me)… I cracked.

I would sit before my open books, read the same line a hundred times, and be consumed with thoughts that I was neglecting my family.  I would close my books and go see my family but my heart wasn’t there.  I would hear in the back of my mind that I was wasting the taxpayers dollar, that my family is doing just fine and that I need to do what I have been chosen to do… study and do well in school so that I can go forward and do great things on behalf of the US Navy.  This cycle continued until I started to feel simply paralyzed.

I would sit in front of my books and just stare at them.

I would stand in my yard with my kids playing around me and just stare at them.

I went in to take a test a couple weeks ago and failed it.  I needed a 75 and I earned a 74.  A weak 74 at that… tons of guessing!

This test fail triggered an academic investigation.  I told the investigating board all of what was going on in my home life.

The end result?

I have been dismissed from training.

Not for a lack of trying.  Not for a lack of intellectual ability.  Not for a lack of time management or failure to prioritize.  But for a lack of capacity.

I had in my head that being capable of succeeding was directly related to my ability to perform when the time came.  I now understand that life isn’t just about performing when the time comes.  There is a lot of life that happens behind the scenes, when the curtain is down and the seats are empty.

I do not live in a vacuum and I cannot continue to ask my family to wait for me.  As life has gotten a little thicker, a little more tricky, I have come to understand that I do not have the capacity to do what I wanted.

I am okay with this.

I am becoming very happy with this.

I was frustrated and angry before because I had no concept of somebody knowing where the edges of their envelope existed and choosing to stay within those boundaries.  I am sorry for the way that I reacted to that situation (and I will get in touch with the parties involved in order to communicate that).

I now know what it feels like to be stretched beyond my capacity and I see the damage that that causes to me and my family.  I also now recognize what it feels like to approach the limit of my capabilities.

I had a friend in Washington, a man I met with from time to time who coached me as a husband, a father, and a young shepherd.  He would tell me often that I needed to learn to say no.  He would tell me that he was afraid that I did not know where my boundaries were and that I was on a crash course for taking on more than I should and potentially causing great harm to myself and my family.

Rob, if you are reading this, you were right!  I was on that train.  I was not over committed in Washington, but I quickly ran out of space out here.  By the grace of GodI did not cause great harm to me or my family.

I have learned what my limits are and , more importantnly what ifeels like to reach them.

I found my max capacity and I managed to get off that train before it wrecked my life.

Thank you to all the friends and family who have supported us, encouraged us, and prayed for us as we walked through this part of our journey.

My Wife’s Encouraging Letter to Friends in the Midst of Porn

 

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My wife and I have endured much together.  I love her deeply.  (You hear that babe, I said I love you, and I said it in “public”)  All kidding aside…

We have been very fortunate to have friends who have loved us and helped us along the way.  I have really been cancerous to my marriage in the past.  Now that we are moving on through the stages of life, we have friends who are walking some of the same roads with the same pot-holes we walked before.  Some of these friends turn to Jessica and I for advice.  Talk about scary!!  You want marriage advice from us??!!!  Have we met?!!!

Porn was a pretty major part of my life and, in a lot of ways, is still a major part of my life.  Though I have separated myself from the poison, we are still dealing with the effects of it in my life, as well as some of the more subtle things that drove my passion for it.

A young wife, who had just had a baby, sent us a letter last summer.  Her husband has been taking steps to separate himself from this destructive habit.  He asked her to check his phone, knowing that she would discover that he had been watching Porn.  She lost it.  She absolutely blew up.  A few days later she sent a letter to Jessica and I and we sent emails, Facebook messages, and texts with the two of them for a couple weeks.

I had many talks with “Jack” and still communicate with him when I can.

What follows is a letter that Jessica sent to “Jill.”  We got permission from Jack and Jill to let us post this on here after changing the names.

We do not blame Jill, or any other Jills out there, for her husbands interaction with Porn.  That is in no way, shape, or form, her fault.  That is Jacks… and Jack MUST deal with it.  BUT… Jill’s ownership of her reactions to Jack can really set the tone for how they move through some of this stuff… or at least it did for us.  I owe whatever victory I have had in the arena of Sexual purity to Jesus and to my wife as He demonstrated His love and His healing nature through her.

I am so very proud of my wife.

Anyway…

We post this email, just 1 in a long set of messages, to hopefully encourage any other “Jills” out there who are dealing with a weak/wounded/lost “Jack”:

 

I’m sorry it took me a couple of days to respond. I was going to respond last night but my internet connection wouldn’t load anything and then we had to go to bed.

First off, let me assure you, Jill, that this is not your fault and that Jack’s temptation toward or fall into porn is NOT about you, nor is it a reflection of you. I know that is hard for you to believe, and you know that I know all-to-well the insecurities that come with a post-baby body and that I know the lies that will flood your mind and heart that your imperfections are what drives Jack away. Let me tell you that is one of the ways in which Satan will defeat you and drive a wedge between the two of you. And that is all it is…pure lies.  Strangely enough, God has wired our husbands to be intensely attracted to us and desiring of us even with all the changes our bodies go through. When Jack tells you that you’re beautiful or sexy, BELIEVE HIM!

That being said, all that Michael said is true, the more you approach him, the more free and willing you are with him, not only the more connection and intimacy you will have, but it helps him so much to fight the temptation to look at porn. It is much easier to click a few links on a computer than it is to think about approaching a wife who isn’t enthusiastic or is so tired or busy with household chores and children that she might reject or not notice his advances. I don’t know where you are on this. This is simply my experience and my knowledge based on discussions Michael and I have had.

I will go back and address some specific things in your message in a minute, but another thought off the top of my head… the passcodes and locks on the computer are like putting a bandaid over a gushing wound. They are a temporary fix for a deeper problem. Don’t get me wrong, I think taking any step to help Jack avoid falling prey to porn is good, but you’re only treating the symptom and not getting to the root of the problem itself, so do NOT think if passcodes are in place, that everything will be good. It won’t. The temptation and ‘need’ are still there…the temptation will likely always be there, although the severity of it may lessen as you deal with the problem.

The need for and the security that he finds in porn is a result of something else, wounds as Michael called them. Jack might not even know what those are himself. Those wounds will not heal without finding someone to walk through them with him… another man who is deeply committed to God, who is willing to love Jack and invest time and energy discipling him and uprooting the trash and cleaning out the wounds, who can communicate truth to him on an intimate heart level…not simply praying for him and sending him Bible verses. These help, but he needs more, and this is where true biblical church comes into play. This will also help Jack become the spiritual leader that you so need and crave. How can he be a spiritual leader when no one is there to show him how?

And the lady who is mentoring you should be teaching you how to be a Godly wife and mother and probing the emotions and thoughts you have regarding all of this. She should be turning you to the truths in God’s word, helping you remain grounded in your identity as a precious princess of the King in the midst of the raging storm inside of you. Encouraging you to love and respect your husband even when you can’t see how that’s possible. One of the biggest things I was told by two different godly women when we went through all that we did last year was that I HAVE to respect him. It is commanded of me by God (Ephesians 5). I know this is hard right now, but you have to respect Jack.

This should be a daily prayer of yours… not simply that God would protect Jack and help him stand against temptation and that God would make him a spiritual leader for your family, but that God would show you how to love and respect your husband today (every day), that He would guard your heart against the lies of Satan, that He would heal the wounds in both of you and bring you into greater intimacy and spiritual unity. If you do not pray through these things and ask God to change your heart, you will continue to suffer in pain and isolation from Jack.

Along these same lines, if you react out of pain, anger, and bitterness every time Jack confesses his falls to you, he will stop confessing them. He will either tell you nothing or he will lie (For the record, if you’re reading this, Jack, the lies make it so much more painful than just simply telling the truth to begin with. Trust me, as hard or humiliating as it is, up front honesty goes a long way toward healing the rift and moving past it).

Neither one of you can fight this alone, and you cannot fight this together if you let your pain drive your responses. When Jack asked you to check the history on his phone, that was a big step for him. He is inviting you into the battle with him. When you found the website and got angry and upset, it was more destructive than if you had been able to talk about it with him and forgive him for it. He is now not only fighting against porn, but he is also fighting not to hurt you. He doesn’t want to hurt you so he lies, which then hurts you more, which then shames and defeats him, which leaves him in need of healing again, which he can’t get from you because he just hurt you so badly….it’s a vicious cycle.

Forgiveness….that’s a big topic. Let me encourage you, Jill, to do a thorough study of the bible on the topic of forgiveness. Try to answer these questions…What is true forgiveness? Does a person have to apologize or change their offending behavior in order for you to forgive? What does forgiveness look like as it is lived out (in an association, friendship, brotherhood, marriage, whatever – use examples if you feel you need to)? You hear “forgive and forget”…what does that mean and what is your opinion of this term? Is forgiveness different from mercy and if so, how? What does mercy look like as it is lived out? Feel free to add any other questions or thoughts.  I had to study this many years ago…I had no idea how to forgive for such deep and ongoing pain.

As far as dealing with deployment, everyone around him is gonna have a computer or phone so it would be super easy for him to borrow someone else’s to skype. That could go two ways…either he is less likely to look at porn because it’s not his device and he doesn’t want to be caught, or it could be easier to look since it’s someone else’s device and there’s no telling what’s already on it. Most units offer opportunities for communication on public use equipment…maybe not as reliable or free or frequent, but an option to look into. Frequent honest communication between the two of you, in love, no topic off limits, is a big deal. Your responses, Jill, as I mentioned earlier, will have a huge impact on this.

Having someone (mentor that I mentioned earlier) who will continue to pursue Jack as much as possible during deployment is another factor. Jack finding a guy or two to meet with and study the bible and pray on a frequent regular basis there, not like leading a bible study, but walking alongside each other and encouraging and challenging one another.

And, if you can do so without them being discovered by someone else, send him naked pictures of yourself to look at when he wants a little something. I was super uncomfortable taking them at first, but I set the timer on my camera (do NOT have someone else take them) and sent them anyway, and he really appreciated that. It gave him a release without falling into sin. You could also have Jack direct you and take pictures of you before he leaves.

Moving on to your feelings of not being loved or cherished and being overworked and unappreciated…welcome to motherhood and marriage. Not to make light of it, but I believe that every single woman struggles with this at some point. I think it comes down to just three things… laziness, miscommunication/misunderstanding, and the enemy’s lies.

It is entirely possible that Jack has simply become lazy in his interaction with you, not being deliberate in showing you love and appreciation. It is also highly likely that your feelings are being exacerbated by the feelings that have resulted from the pornography problem. Try to separate your feelings on the pornography from the rest of Jack and your interaction with him and see what you have left. The rest of it, you communicate to him, but you do so in a non-confrontational, non-condemning manner.

Here’s the thing…men and women think and communicate very differently. I, for probably years, struggled with this attitude…”Why can’t he get up and get his own drink? Why does he sit there on the computer when he sees me struggling to cook dinner and juggle kids and get the house cleaned up all at once? How can he ask me to do one more thing with everything on my plate? He doesn’t see anything I do! He doesn’t appreciate any of it!” Ten years into our marriage and four kids later, I learned through a professional counseling session that the whole time he was sitting there thinking, “Why on earth is she trying to do everything on her own? Why doesn’t she ask for help? She wants things done her way and she doesn’t want me to be a part of her world. I am just a pawn in her game of family and house.” All I had to do was ask, and it solved that problem for both of us…communication.

Asking for his help doesn’t mean you are his mother, or that you’re inferior for asking, or that he’s uncaring for not offering. Sure, it would be nice if our husbands just jumped in and did everything, but in all honesty, they’re not too sure just what we want or need from them a lot of time in regards to the baby needs or managing the household. And being that y’all haven’t been married that long and are new to the parenting thing, there’s gonna be a lot that he simply won’t see. And it’s not for lack of caring, it’s simply obliviousness or in some instances I’m sure, laziness or immaturity.

You have to communicate, and you cannot do it in an accusatory manner. Simply tell him that you need to discuss some needs and desires with him, and then lay it out in black and white. Giving him specific ways in which he can help you with Baby or the house, as well as specific things you would like for him to do in order for you to feel loved and cherished will be more helpful than just giving him a light-hearted or vague ‘I need more help and I need to feel more loved by you.’ There are even many times now when I will tell Michael, “Hey, I did this today and I want you to notice it,” or “Hey, look at this…you have to be excited about this for me! ” Then it doesn’t go unnoticed simply because what are significant things to me may not be so significant to him, and I won’t be disappointed when I get no reaction.

And don’t let the enemy slip in and cause bitterness or resentment when Jack doesn’t meet your expectations. He is human, and he will fail you. It’s just a part of being the imperfect sinners we are. Know and trust that Jack loves and cherishes you deeply, and dwell on the things you see that show you that…like the fact that he willingly met with the youth pastor, attended those meetings, and asked you to check his phone. Like how he loves on Baby or even does simple things to take care of you by taking out the trash or something like that.

If he doesn’t seem to notice your feelings, then you’ll just have to make the first step and start sharing with him. If you want a hug, ask for it. We cannot expect someone else to know what we need or want at any given time, specifically when we are wired so differently (different personalities, values, love languages, needs, priorities…). Communication…it has to be a priority.

So anyway, I wrote this mostly to Jill since you are the one who wrote us. Michael, if there is any error in my words, please let me know. Jill and Jack, we are an open book and always open for questions, discussions, etc. Feel free to respond with your thoughts, feelings, etc. on here. And please give us a call any time. My schedule is very open right now, and even if Michael is in school, he will be glad to return a call if you leave a message or text. If you want to take a vacation to the east coast sometime, our doors are always open to you and we would love to see y’all!! We love you both very very much!

I will be praying for you both. When is the next deployment?

On a side note, we are doing great as well. Michael’s class is mind-numbing and intense, but he’s a genius so he’s doing well. I am loving some downtime and finally getting the house in order and looking forward to fun times with the kids for the rest of the summer. They are all doing well, starting to make friends, and enjoying the freedom of being done with school for the year! Looking forward to hearing back from you!

Much love,

Jessica

Family??

What exactly is Family?

I have a deep bond with blood relatives.  They are family.

I have blood relatives that I have no bond or association with at all, neither good or bad.  They are family.

I have blood relatives that I have no bond or association with at all and, should the opportunity arise, I’ll put a fist in their eye. will more than likely never have a relationship with them.  They are family.

We all understand this category of family.  It is the basic mathematical expression of essentially a legal relationship.

I have a friend who has extended grace to me when I did not deserve it, listened to me when I was venting or ranting, and has made trips to come see me just to hang out.  He is currently letting me store some of my furniture in his garage.  He is family.

I have a friend who just got married.  He lived with me for a little while and we spent several years nurturing our relationship.  He asked me to perform the ceremony, but I was unable to get the time off from work.  He is family.

My wife and I decided to call one of the grooms-men during the reception and have him put us on speaker phone, then hold the phone next to a microphone so that we could give our well wishes and toast to the couple.  When the folks who were attending the reception heard my voice over the sound system, the place erupted with shouts and cheers.  These people are family.

It takes 10 entries, but dictionary.com eventually gets down to:

a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together
Key phrases here… generally not blood related… sharing common attitudes, interests, or goals…
Jesus was sitting around one day teaching a bunch of folks.  As the day started to come to an end, His mom and brothers came to get him to bring him home.  I guess it was family supper night at Team Josheph’s table.  Jesus looks at the messenger and says,
“Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus seems to pretty clearly give us his definition of family.  It seems as though he is saying that family is not so much those who share a last name, a historic lineage, or genealogy.  Family, to Jesus, were those people who “do the will of the Father in heaven.”
Those people who live for the same goals, sacrifice for the same reasons, commit their time and resources to the same tasks, rejoice and celebrate in the same victories… those people are family.
I am so very lucky to have blood relatives that live, sacrifice, commit to, and rejoice over the same things that I do.  These people are family of the most intimate kind.  Such sweet minutes and hours of talking and connecting on an almost unspeakable level.  I love these folks so much.
I am so immensely blessed to have non blood relatives in my life that live, sacrifice, commit to, and rejoice over the same things that I do.  These people are family too.  These people are closer to me, have a deeper bond with me, than blood relatives who do not value or engage in things similar to those in which I am engaged.
I have felt guilty for this at times.  Having spent some time having coffee with Jesus before my little world starts to stir, I no longer feel guilty for having people who are more “family” to me than my blood relatives.
To all of you who have shed tears with us, for us, or because of us, who have laughed with us, been afraid for us and with us, endured the loss (and potential loss) of life with us, who have celebrated the victory over addiction and new life with us, who have let us live with you and argue with you, who have spent days upon days in the wilderness with me, who have let me be in the way in your environments while you worked and I “helped”, who have prayed with us and for us, who have encouraged us and been encouraged by us, who know Christ and live to make Him known…
Thank you for being my family.
Relationships with relatives can be difficult.  I understand this well.
Life with family is rejuvenating and encouraging.
Please feel free to delineate the relationships in your life  according to relatives and family, and understand that blood lines are not the lines of demarcation for these groups.

Here we go again…

It has been a little while but we have finally settled down after the move. Or rather, we are settling down enough that I can get back to writing and reflecting a little bit.

A little bit of admin stuff up front…

I finally got an email subscription plug-in to work with this blog. I do not plan on putting every blog post on Facebook. If you want to get a notification each time I put up another post, please enter your email address under the subscribe option at the top of the column on the right. You should get an email confirmation after you do this. If you go through the steps and find that you are not getting notified about posts, then please let me know.

We moved out of our house March 16. We slept in our own beds again May 13. Almost 2 months of living out of bags and sleeping on floors! It was quite an adventure. Please Please Please do not think that we were having a hard time. It seems as though we did not suffer at all.

One of my objectives for the trip was to spend some time together as a family and see if we could strengthen some of relationships. There are some wounds in my kids that I have caused and I wanted to see if I could spend those months trying to reconcile their little hearts to mine.

It seems to have worked well. Now that I understand the hearts of my older kids a little bit better, we were able to connect in a more deliberate manner. My oldest daughter, the introvert, would sit next to me for 6 hours at a time.  It was most comfortable for me to ride with my right arm resting across the seat-backs, and so my hand would rest on her shoulder.  We wouldn’t talk about much, but the moments we did spend talking were precious.

Sleeping on the floor wasn’t bad either.  We got to stay with family, friends, friends who are family, and family who are friends.  All in all it was such a great trip.  Spent time with a range of people like folks that my wife and kids have never met and that I have dearly missed (Thanks for the grape juice bro!), as well as family that we saw last Christmas.

And now we are here.

I have a lot of butterflies in my stomach right now.  It feels like tomorrow is the first day at a new school…  probably because it is.  I’m more excited than I am nervous or anxious.  I do wonder if I have what it takes.  I’m not so concerned about graduating, I wonder if I have what it takes to actually be the sole medical provider on a submarine.

I’m sure it will be fine.

My soul rests as I wait.

Thanks for being patient with us as we travelled.

Thanks so much too for letting us sleep on your floors!!   I cannot think of a better way to explore this great nation of ours!!

 

Until next time…

I Hated Me

I have typed this first paragraph several times now.  I keep trying to work up a metaphor for the pain and bitterness that I carried around with me.  A metaphor depicting the way that I hid this the best that I could from the people around me and how I would ignore the sore spot in my soul.

There is no metaphor that I can think of to describe this.

I would ask really good questions when I was around other people and I would tell stories and get involved with their life and their projects without ever really letting anybody else get into mine.  I would share my story and my life and I would be “transparent” at the drop of a hat.  The trouble is that transparency got me nowhere and I wonder if the fruit produced in the lives of others because of my “transparency” was short lived or actually fruit at all.  Just like when my math teacher would work problems on her transparency sheet and the work was projected on the wall, I would keep my problem on the transparency sheet and broadcast it to an audience.  They can interact with the problem as though it were projected on a wall, but I was behind the glass.  I did not mean to be, I never thought about that, I did not recognize it as it happened. I just now am able to see what was going on.

I have often tried to figure out just when I started to hate myself.  I never considered the idea that, should I figure out when and why I started to hate me, that I could spend some time thinking about it and praying about it and see if Jesus would redeem that part of my life.  That never crossed my mind.  I just wanted to understand me a little bit better.

I got a chance to go to Colorado last summer and met with a really sharp guy from Australia.  This guy is really good at helping people get to the root of some of their pain.  During my time with him, he had me do some ridiculous things like making a memory timeline.  I had to write every memory I could think of down on a timeline, then we talked about them!

One of the memories I had occurred when I was about 10.

My brother was a really wild and rowdy kid.  He is a couple years younger than I am and was a lot more aggressive than I was.  He would chase me from one end of the house to the other end of the house when were toddlers.  He thought it was great fun!

Life was hard for my family at this point in time.  We had just moved from Missouri to Louisiana and did not have a home.  Somehow my dad was able to arrange for us to live in a house way out in the country.  Because we lived so far out, and my dad’s work schedule was not a 9-5, we did not see my dad much during the week.  He worked hard and commuted a long way.  My mom was left with the task of managing my brother and I on her own during the week.

My brother seemed to be in a serious “boundary testing” phase of his life too.  He would pick at me and pick at me incessantly until I would complain to my mom and she would intervene.  After one of these episodes she explained to me that my brother was going to keep pestering me until I stood up to him.  She may not have said it, but I understood that what she meant was that I needed to fight my brother in order to put him in his place.

I was a good student.  I was a sweet kid.  I know I had a “little black cloud” that followed me around and I would get moody or upset, but all in all I remember being a really sweet child.

One day while waiting for the bus, my brother was being a pain.  He was shoving me and pushing me and I kept taking it.  As the bus came into view, he grabbed my backpack and threw it in the ditch.  There was several inches of water in this ditch and so I ran to get my backpack before my school work was soaked.  As I got near the bag, he shoved me in.  I grabbed my bag and jumped out of the ditch while the bus rolled to a stop.  It never crossed my mind that I had an option to go inside and get cleaned up.  I simply got on the bus and went to school.

That afternoon my brother was still at it.  I ran to my mom and started complaining about what he was doing.  She picked up my little sister who was really young and told me not to break anything in the kitchen.  She then went into another room and closed the door.

Commence Thunder Dome

I was petrified.  I had wrestled and fought with my brother before, but somehow I always knew that there were limits.  That if I got out of hand or he got out of hand, somebody was going to step in.  Not this time.  He started in on me and I remember grabbing a broom.  The next memory I have is standing over him while he laid in a fetal position crying silently.  I had a broom in my hand and was shaking.

I have remembered this fight for a long time.  I can see it in my head, I can smell that damp kitchen, I can see the sobs coming from my brother and I can still feel the terror that I saw in his eyes as he laid there trying to protect himself from me.

This is what I did not realize until last year.

I loved my brother.  I deeply loved my brother.  I cared about him.  I wanted to protect him.  I was often called bossy because I would tell him what to do, but my heart was trying to guard him.

I would get worked up when he would get in trouble.  I hated seeing him hurt and I did not like the people who caused the pain.

And here I was, standing over him, having just completed delivering the beat down of beat downs.

But it was not so simple as that.  It was not simply that I hurt my brother and so I was mad at me.  I hurt my brother believing that what I was doing was the right thing to do.  I had been coached to engage in this manner in order to teach him a lesson and restore order in the house.  What I had done in my young perspective was noble and appropriate.  I was in the right.  I had done the honorable thing.

But I felt so horrible seeing him like that.  This is where the root of cancerous self loathing seems to have really developed good roots.  I started to feel that I was incapable of doing what was good or what was right.  For me to do what is noble, what is right, I would be left feeling like this.  If I really were a good boy, then I would not feel so despicable for doing what was good.  The only reason for me to feel this way after doing something good and noble is because I was a horribly bad and ignoble boy.  No matter how good I behaved or how much people praised me, I knew deep inside that I was an agent of pain and destruction.  Those were not the words that would go through my head.  What I would hear often is that all I am capable of is hurting other people, letting people down, and ruining things around me.

As I thought about that memory I started to realize that in that moment, watching my brother lay there in pain, something changed deep within me.  I lost a part of my innocence and started to believe deep inside that I was worthless.  The rest of my life I would hear my own voice in my own head telling me that no matter what I did, my best contribution to my family would be for me to cease existing within it.

None of this was my parents fault.  This wasn’t my fault.  Kids are great observers and horrible interpreters.  This was simply the result of me being in and reacting to a situation that was not so bueno.

And for the record.   I no longer hate myself!

I’ll write about that part later.`l

And one more thing…   to my brother…

I am very sorry for beating you with a broomstick.

 

Why I Loved Frozen

I heard and read several reviews of this movie before watching it.  I was fully prepared to watch a pop culture propaganda flick eroding traditional gender roles and pushing a homosexual agenda.

I don’t know what movie the critics watched to come up with the ideas above, but I saw none of that in Frozen.

***    Spoiler Alert   ***

I heard that the male characters in the movie were morons and the only purpose they served was to show how inept men are compared to women.  What I saw was a woman trying to rebuild a relationship with a sister.  I saw a woman attempting to climb an ice covered mountain with great ambition and terrifically little skill.  I saw this heroine embark upon a journey ill prepared and rescued time and time again by a man.  How is this a slight to the masculine world?

I try to communicate to my daughters and model to them through my relationship with my wife that they will need a rescuer.  That they will need a man in their lives to encourage them, protect them, and rescue them.  I have watched more chick flicks and princess movies than I can count, waiting each time for there to be a healthy representation of a male female relationship.  I am left disappointed every single time.  Either the guy is a worthless, spineless, brainless clown, the woman a bimbo, weak, dumb, clutsy, or an ugly man hating she beast that consumes men  until the right fella happens to get through to her.  This movie depicted a woman being independent, brave, forward thinking (even if unprepared), proactive, and bold.  It showed a man who was fully committed to his adventure, his calling, who was willing to stretch himself to love a woman.  I would be very happy to have my daughters look up to Anna.  I would be just as happy for my son to look up to Christoph.

And before I get any criticism about my thoughts regarding the way Anna demonstrated her independence, boldness, and proactive way of living, I would like to turn to a little phrase from the Bible…

“…She considers a field and buys it…”

I see that character in Anna.

I saw no homosexual agenda at all.  I read several critics who said that Disney made a movie in which the two main characters save the day, without the aid of men, and set the kingdom free because of their love for each other and, because these characters were women, it is a homosexual propaganda film.

That really saddens me.  The theme of this movie was a woman’s frozen, broken heart caused by a wound inflicted by family who meant well but acted in ignorance and was set free by the selfless love of her sister.  This movie is actually quite deep.  It does not appear to me as though there are 2 heroines, but 1.  Anna saved Elsa, Elsa reconciled and redeemed the broken relationships in her life caused by her reaction to her brokenness.   It just so happens that that redemption and reconciliation extended to the entire kingdom.  There is nothing homosexual in the genuine, deep, intimate love of a sister for a sister.  I have seen that between my wife and her sisters.  I see it developing now between my daughters.  This is a very good and healthy thing.  Ironic as it may be, this kind of affirming love between women seems to give them the courage to take a stand on the things they want to stand for and to engage life fully in the areas they feel the desire to engage…  And that is exactly what I saw Anna doing.

I rolled my eyes when, near the very beginning of the movie, after the character development was mostly complete and the plot was beginning to get underway, I heard the phrase, “the one.”  Standard Disney romance language.  I do not believe there is “the one” out there and that a single man and a single woman need to find that one in order to be truly happy.  That should be a post I write later.  I was so refreshed when “the one” turned out to be a slug of a fella.  I was actually kind of pumped!!  There is not “the one” in this movie.  What there is is a man who meets a woman under less than ideal circumstances, is not romantically interested in her, chooses to do the right thing and serve her for her protection and guidance, and in the end he develops a love for her.  I see a woman who meets a man in less than ideal circumstances, recognizes she needs him, pokes him in the ribs and challenges him to stand up like a man, and then submits to his guidance and develops a love for him.  I see a man and woman struggling to figure out how to interact in this relationship which results in heartache, fear of loss, and being dragged behind a sled while being chased by wolves.  An actually astute summation of what I would say is a healthy relationship.

Anna is in need of an act of true love.  Go figure a bunch of rock trolls come up with the idea that this will be a kiss from “the one.”  I don’t know if Disney thought this through or not, I doubt it, but it fits that a bunch of trolls came up with this idea.  Not just a bunch of trolls, but a bunch of rock trolls, like trolls that are as dumb as a box of rocks!!  I kept thinking throughout the movie that there were acts of love which could have solved her problem.  The weather is cold, there is a raging storm and Christoph takes off his hat, puts it on Anna to keep her warm, and endures the rest of the ride bare headed.  That silly little snowman (my oldest daughter LOVED him) risked his very life next to a fire to warm Anna.

But the act of true love?  Not a kiss!  So happy this movie did not cheese up the ending with a magic kiss.  This was not a romance movie at all.  The act of true love was a final act of resignation to the point of death in order to save a sister even though she was lost.  The act of true love was a sister recognizing her brokeness and accepting the act of love from the one who made the sacrifice for her!

I have seen a picture of a Corpsman laying dead in a street in Falujah.  The caption is actually a verse from the Bible… “Greater love has no one than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends…”

Finally!!!

Finally a Disney princess chick flick that has a wounded, broken hearted princess living out of her insecurities instead of her idyllic innocence, a family that loves each other but still hurts each other, a wounded sister, innocent and devastated, a man who looks like, sounds like, and acts like a man, and Love being represented in a manner other than the tired, tried, and cliché, “Kiss… The One…” tradition.

Yup.

Maybe I’m going soft in my old age…

But I LOVED Frozen!!

How to Connect With an Introvert

For those of you who read this blog but do not know me personally, let me make something clear…

I am not an introvert.

Though I do not always enjoy being the middle of the crowd, I do enjoy being around people.  I love backpacking.  The only thing better than backpacking is backpacking with somebody else.  I have spent quite a few hours by myself sitting in the woods on hunting trips, but I would much rather spend that time sitting in the woods with somebody else.  I have found that I enjoy bird hunting more than big game hunting because it is a more social event.  Drawback… you have to kill a lot of birds to equal a deer.

I love who I am.

I love how I am.

There are still things about me that need to mature and develop, but on the whole… I love being me.

I have four kids.  When they were very young, they were your typical toddlers.  Into everything, running around, making noise, making a mess, spontaneous.  Our house seemed to vibrate constantly with the activity and noise that simmered perpetually within the walls.  My home is not a safe place for an introvert.  I understand that and so, when I am hanging out with an introvert, I meet with them outside of my home.  We meet somewhere quiet… like the mall…

I have all these ideas about ways to raise my kids.  I have these ideas about things to do in order to communicate just how much I love them and to really connect with them in a meaningful and intimate manner.

It never crossed my mind that any of my kids would turn out to be a calm, quiet, introvert.

What do I do with that?

How on earth do I communicate my love to a little girl who would like to just sit and look at a book… or look at art!

How did this happen?

On a more serious note, it really is pretty fascinating to see the budding personalities coming out of my kids.  My oldest is displaying her individual personality more and more.  The girl loves art.  We have a friend of ours who graduated with an art degree teaching private art lessons to my daughter.  I have found myself reading blogs from artists, both Christian and non, in order to broaden my ability to appreciate the same things my daughter appreciates.

Instead of going places and doing things with her, I have started making it a point to simply sit next to her.  We sit down to watch a movie and I invite her to sit next to me.  I try to make it a point to have her sit in my lap when I read books to them instead of always letting the toddlers sit on my lap.  I have started paying closer attention to which kids are running around downstairs and when I don’t see her, instead of calling her down to see what is wrong, I go upstairs just to sit on the floor of her bedroom with her and make small talk.

I take each of my kids to breakfast on Sunday mornings.  The oldest gets the first Sunday of the month, the youngest gets the last.  One of my kids wants to go to a busy sit down style place that serves great pancakes.  My oldest prefers to buy a donut and a juice in a grocery store and sit in the front of our car to eat.  I used to ask her why she preferred to sit in the car instead of going to a restaurant.  I do not ask any more.

I know she values these moments with me and I know they are good for her, good for me, and good for our relationship.

I have no clue how to evaluate these moments.  I see these times through my own perspective as an extrovert.  If I am comfortable, I am talking or doing, not sitting and stewing.  So when I sit with my daughter and we just sit there… something feels wrong.  When I ask a question and get a little short answer, I feel as though something is wrong.  I believe that things are not wrong, but that is how it feels.

It makes it very difficult to relax and just enjoy being with her when everything in me is convinced that something is wrong.  She must be upset with me.  I have to have hurt her feelings in order for her to sit so quietly for so long.

As I sit and analyze this, my questions tend to drift from wanting to connect with her to wanting to diagnose the break in our relationship.  It is so difficult to diagnose a problem that is not there.

I love my little girl and I know she loves me.

But I really wish I could figure out how to connect with her, and her introverted little soul.

Painting a Car

I’m a Supermodel

That’s right!! I said it.

It seems the purpose of the runway walkers, and I do not mean FOD walk down, is to provide us an example of the fashion designer’s vision for their latest clothing line. In that same line of thought are the fitness and body building models. I’m thinking the marketing folks use these as examples of what we should look like and if we use their products or read their magazines, we will be like them.

“Bro… what on earth made you want to write a post calling yourself a Supermodel?”

Good question!!

Kids and I

So there I was, sitting in Row R, section 20 something, at the Paramount Theater in Seattle with my wife and my 2 older kids watching The Piano Guys… great show too, by the way. At one point in the show, one of the fellas starts telling a story about his development as a musician. He says that one of his music professors said something pretty powerful to him one day. Something akin to,

“I cannot teach you a passion for music, I can be passionate about music in front of you and hope you catch it.”

Then he tells us about his parents. He said that his parents had a deep love and passion for music. They would listen to classical music in their cars and talk about the composer, they would play instruments and dance, they would listen to music as a family. His parents were passionate about music in front of him, and he developed a passion for music because of them.

Is this a fail proof way to ensure my kids love music, or enjoy the outdoors, or become passionate readers? I do not think so. Will me being passionate about the things in my life tilt the scale, or encourage my kids to enjoy, consider, and maybe even develop a passion within them for the things I value? Possibly… and I think more likely than not, the things that I am passionate about will end up defining who they are in the future. Good and Bad.

This is where it gets kind of scary as a parent… with my attitudes and shortcomings… and my volatile past… and the stuff I still carry… with 4 kids watching me…

I feel a pressure to persuade them to fit a certain set of expectations. Are these expectations appropriate or healthy? If they are healthy and appropriate, is it wise for me to “persuade” them to live up to these expectations? Am I living up to these expectations? The thing about this is that, though these are the questions that resonate deep in my heart sitting around campfires drinking a glass of wine, I am not so sure that these are the questions I should be asking.

If my children will be greatly influenced by what I am passionate about, the expectations don’t really come into play. My desire for them is that they live peaceful and fruitful lives experiencing fulfillment and joy.

And this is where I start moving down the runway.

I feel deeply fulfilled in my life right now. I have finally started experiencing a peace and joy that I have not ever known before. Do not get me wrong, I am still pretty mixed up, deeply conflicted, and carry a heaping load of sorrow, but mixed with all that is a soothing rest for my weary soul. This… This is what I want for my kids. Garbage is going to come to them. I cannot prevent the garbage that is inbound. They have already taken some and, at times, it has come from me.

I can try to persuade my kids to be like me and think like me and believe like me in a hope that, as they grow up and start experiencing the ruthless, painful world on their own, they will one day experience the peace in the middle of it all like me. I can try to demonstrate the actions, disciplines, and philosophy that readers and thinkers say lead to this peacefully fulfilled life.

But the musician did not become a musician because his parents told him that music is important and that they would like to see him become a musician.

This is what I choose… I choose to let my kids see that I am passionate for the things that I value. I will try not to make these things expectations upon their shoulders, or lessons for them to remember, but vibrantly lived life demonstrating with gusto that I am deeply moved by, devoted to, and a disciple of the things which I value.

Of the 3 options, expect… persuade… demonstrate, I choose demonstrate. Is there a chance they will not pick up on my values, or will see what I value and choose not to adopt those things as their values. Yup. There is a chance. Is there a chance that not living up to my expectations will leave them with crippling insecurity. Si Amigo. Is there a chance that my kids would see me trying to persuade them to adopt certain disciplines and values that I do not submit to and have not adopted and, in so doing, drive a wedge of distrust between me and them? Sigh… So from my perspective, in this little cramped cockpit, I have 3 choices here, and two of them hurt my kids or hurt my relationship with them. One option allows them to choose what they want as adults and allows me to love them fully while maintaining my relational integrity with them.

All three options have a risk of my kids being hurt. But no option I know of will keep that from happening. My eyes get wet often when I think about this.

So there it is. I am a model. I think I am a Supermodel. My kids see me as an example of what a man is and what a man should be. Regardless of whether or not I am a model of a good man or a bad man is not the point. The point is that I am a model… so the question stands… What, exactly, am I modeling for my kids?  … and why?

A friend of mine told me almost 12 years ago that one of the best things I can do for my kids is to let them see me spending time praying and reading my Bible in the mornings. He seems to think that this will have more impact on them than if I try to teach them the things to believe or set my expectations on their shoulders.

Do I read my Bible and pray in front of them because I want them to do this as adults, or do I read my Bible and pray in front of them because I am passionate about my time with Jesus?

Do runway models and bodybuilder models walking the runway and giving photo shoots because they want to persuade me, or because they are passionate about their art… and the cash that comes from it?  Did they come up with their own fashion line and marketing strategy, or did they submit their talents to a designer and publisher in order to enjoy the fruits of their labor?

I am a Supermodel!!

… and I really hope I am modeling well

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