Dad You Be Happy

UntitledThe other day I was feeling very overwhelmed, tired, and just didn’t have much to give. Unfortunately rather than owning that, when my kids – were well kids – and did something wrong I got really mad. Like no reason to be that mad. And I couldn’t shake it.

The truth was I was already mad before they did anything, their little lapses just gave me a reason to let it out. The sad part is that sometimes we don’t get angry with the people who cause us hurt, just the ones who are easier to take it out on (our kids, spouse, etc).

But my kids did something amazing, because I think they are occasionally better people than I am.

My guess was that they hadn’t seen me that mad probably much. Because Hudson gave me a hug, got changed, and went upstairs and went to bed on his own and just waited for me to turn off the lights. This has never ever happened before. Asher also went upstairs, brushed his teeth, and while I was putting Eden to bed came in and said this to me, “Dad this a happy house, you not be mad. You be happy, I happy too, we happy family.”

Sometimes with a simple little phrase you realize how much you blew it, and also how much you have to learn and grow.

But here is the beautiful part of parenting even when you blow it; you get to keep trying, learning, and growing. You get to take moments like that where you blew it and ask for forgiveness, and be thankful for your family. Because parenting is not a sprint, but a journey – and sometimes it’s your kids who actually point you in the right direction.

A Reminder I’d Rather Not Have…The Anniversary of My Dad’s Death

My dad died 4 years ago today. This is a day that I mark in my life but I wish this is a day that would never have happened. It reminds me and brings me back to a very difficult time in my life.

This is a day that comes around once a year that reminds me of something I know each and everyday – that someone is missing.

Someone is missing at my son’s soccer games. Someone is missing after I preach a good sermon to talk it through with. Someone is missing to give me advice and counsel when I desperately need it. Someone is missing in my life.

Some days its felt more than others, but its always felt. And today is one of those days.

So what do you do on days like today? Where things are hard, loss seems so present, and hurt so close by?

Well here is my answer – but I promise you it’s not a good one, or really one you’d expect a pastor to say. But it is an honest answer. You give in for a day. You give in for a day.

I know people say be strong, say get through it, say don’t ever give up. I know people say that, but sometimes I just think people are wrong or maybe others are just stronger than me. But I know when days like today come around once a year, the answer isn’t to try to tough it out, the answer isn’t to try to forget the hurt, the answer isn’t to busy yourself past it, but to enter into it.

So that’s what I’m doing today. I’m giving in for a day.

There is a line in a song I love by Florence and the Machine that says this, “I’m not giving up, I’m just giving in” And that’s how I feel today. I’m not giving up. Tomorrow I will get up and go to work. Tomorrow I will wake up and cook breakfast for my boys like I do every day. Tomorrow I will check emails, read Facebook, and check soccer scores. Tomorrow I will get back to my regular rhythm of life. But that’s tomorrow, today I won’t. Today I’ll give in, and remember that the rhythm of my life has forever been changed because someone is missing. So I will give in, I will be sad, I will sit, I will think, I will pray, and then decide I don’t want to pray, and I’ll talk about my dad. And I’ll repeat those actions a hundred times today.

You might disagree that this is healthy. That’s fine, do whatever is healthy for you. Tough it out if you can. But I know I’ve just never been that tough. So today “I’m not giving up. I’m just giving in.” And if you’ve ever been through loss, difficulty, or death it’s okay to give in for a day.

Welcome Home Daddy

1393638_10153351907470643_1110248634_nComing home as a young dad is a great thing. This is a picture of how my boys welcome me. Hudson runs full tilt and jumps at me, and Asher giggles and walks till he gets to me and hugs me too. They both move as fast as they can, and shout “daddy” or in Asher’s case “da”.

It’s an amazing and a beautiful thing. I look forward to it everyday.

There is something about being welcomed isn’t there? Something that makes you feel special, known, and appreciated. It makes me feel such a part of their lives, and reminded that I’m a part of something special.

When I look at this picture and think about this type of welcome, I can’t help but think of God. Because God is the true Father, and I think he welcomes us in the same way. The Bible is clear, that just as my boys run to me, God runs to us. In the story of the Prodigal Son, a picture of God, the Father runs, throws his arms around his son, and welcomes him home.

This is who our God is, and what our God does. He is a God who welcomes. And I just think it’s good to be reminded of that. That when we walk into God’s presence his posture toward us is one of embrace, welcome, a full-tilt run towards us.

Sometimes I go into God’s presence quietly, meekly, and with uncertainty. But Hebrews says we can boldly walk into God’s presence with joy, with certainty, and with expectation. Because God is ready and waiting to welcome us.

So maybe take a look at this picture again, but this time think about God embracing and welcoming you. And the next time you’ve been away from God’s presence for too long, don’t hesitate to walk right back in. Because you know that God is ready and waiting to run to you and welcome you home.

Father’s Day, Failures, and a New Future

321418_10152829471805643_695467691_nSunday is a special Sunday: it’s Father’s Day. I know this isn’t an easy day for everyone. If, like me, you’ve lost a father it can be tough. If you never really had a father, had a difficult father, or you desperately want to be a father but it hasn’t happened – I know all of these things can make Sunday difficult. Yet I also know for many of us Sunday can be a celebration. So recognizing all the complexity on Sunday I want to explore an odd topic: my failures.

On Sunday I want to be open and honest and share with you how I have failed as a father, and what that has taught me about God and relationships in general. I’ve only been a father for 3 short years, and 6 months with 2, but even in three years you can falter and fail even with the best intentions.

I know it’s an odd place to start with failures, but if you’re at all like me I learn so much more from my failures than sometimes my successes. And as I’ve faltered as a father my boys have been teaching me so much about God, myself, and all my relationships. So this is what I really want to take a look at on Sunday because failing doesn’t bother me. Not learning from my failures bothers me. I will make mistakes, and mess up – that’s life and parenting. But my hope is always to grow and change. So on Sunday we’ll open up some of my failures so that together we might all learn some important biblical principles around attention, affirmation, and owning our reactions.

Of course I’ll be sharing stories, of my boys painting the carpets and stories from Jesus. So I hope you can join us. But before we get there why not spend sometime and think through what failures have you really learned from? How have you changed? And most importantly, are there people you can share these lessons with so that we might all grow together?

Dads, Dedications, and Decisions that Last a Lifetime

295563_10152669437890643_2115517437_nOn Sunday it’s a pretty special day for me as a parent. We are dedicating our little boy Asher. You only get to do that once…well actually we dedicated Hudson twice but that’s a story for another day.

As a pastor this is a really cool moment because you get to preach at your own little man’s dedication. But it also raises the question of what do you preach on at a dedication?

For Hudson, I preached on why I follow Jesus so that when he grows up he can listen to it and understand why mom and dad make the decisions we do. But on Sunday I want to share about something different because my boys are different.

On Sunday I want to explore a simple question: how can we live in such a way to leave a legacy? For me specifically it will be about how, as a parent, I can leave a legacy of love and grace in Asher’s life. But it applies much more broadly. How can you live in such a way to shape generations? To change people’s futures? That your lives echo into the future changing them?

That’s what we are exploring because my guess is that when we come to the end of our lives we won’t care about more money, better promotions, cleaner houses, or better vacations. We will care about what type of legacy we have left, whether we will be remembered and whether our lives mattered.

On Sunday we are going to figure out how to do just that. How to leave a legacy that lasts and lingers.

But before we get there maybe think back in your own life. Who has left a legacy there? How did they do it? What was it about their life that caused such an affect?

For me that was my dad. Even though he passed almost 3 years ago, he is far from gone. His life continues to leave a mark in mine. Even though he won’t hold Asher until heaven, his legacy will shape and change Asher just as it’s changed me. So the question is how do we live lives like that? And come Sunday we’ll find out.

Father’s Day Sermon

This week I’ve been thinking about this question: what makes a great father?

This is important to me as a father. My hope is that when Hudson looks back on his memories with me growing up, and all through his life he will see that I left a legacy. The question is how do you do that?

This is a picture of my dad with my son. And when I look back on my relationship with him I realize what a huge impact and legacy he has left with me. He was a great father through doing a few simple things. He gave me his time and attention. Such a simple thing but so difficult to fully do. He actually valued my input and treated me not as a child but as someone with value. This encouraged me and helped me to mature in a way I never realized until recently as I look back. Maybe the biggest thing he taught me though was about God.

My dad was a pastor but taught me so much about God in the way he lived, talked, and what he did. So on Sunday I want to share some of those lessons with you. I want to share about what my dad taught me about God and who He is and how it’s still shaping me today.

Maybe this week it’s a good time for you to reflect and think about what your dad taught you. But I also know that not all of us were blessed with dads like mine. In that case then,reflect on our heavenly Father and think about what he’s taught you…because the best dads in the world learn from him and live like him…

Christmas Eve and Traditions…

There sometimes seems to be a negativity towards tradition. That tradition is old, irrelevant, and outdated. This is surely the case sometimes, but I don’t think it is the case during this time of Christmas.

Tonight I’ll be running my first Christmas Eve service at 7:00 at the church. And I am so looking forward to it. I love the carols, lighting the candles, hearing the story, and the tradition of it. The tradition surrounding the Christmas Eve service doesn’t make it feel old and irrelevant to me but deep and rooted. I feel a part of something centuries old and meaningful. And tonight is extra meaningful for me because of tradition.

For all my life I would go to a Christmas Eve service and hear my dad and mom lead it together. And they used the same structure for almost 25 years.There were always new pieces but there were familiar parts and traditions within it. And tonight I get to carry that tradition on. After my dad passing, this is what I missed around this season. But tonight Krista and I get to carry on the tradition leading our first Christmas Eve service, and even using his service.

Those are the best traditions. The ones that have deep meaning, that make you feel a part of something, that generate beautiful memories, and are things you look forward to. And isn’t that what Christmas is about? Having beautiful traditions that create memories, meaning, depth, and hope?

My challenge to you is this: start a tradition. Start something that will give meaning to this time of the year each year. Start something that will give depth and create great memories. Start something you can pass onto your kids, grandkids, or family. Maybe its going to a Christmas Eve service, sharing stories, creating something as a family, or any other number of things. But this is the year to start a good tradition.

But for me I won’t be starting a new tradition…but carrying on an old one.

Leading a Christmas Eve service just like my dad would…