It’s hard being a Dad. Kids grow up and become their own person. Kids move out and you try to give them their space and allow them to find themselves. You hope they make the right decisions, knowing the decisions you yourself made at that age.

You, as the parent, have the gift of hindsight and life experience. Often your young adults don’t believe you were once their age too. They don’t see that you’ve been there and done that. Sounds like about the same way I responded to my own parents in my teen years. I see their pain and struggles now, and I have apologized to them for missing the obvious, but again, hindsight is a gift.

No matter the decade, it’s uncanny how much the teen years mirror each other. Many of the experiences my teens are going through, I remember very clearly. Doesn’t matter if it’s the 1980’s or the 2010’s. What I’ve always hoped for from my kids is open communication. I’ve probably been overly open with them regarding my life, again hoping that they would reciprocate that openness. For awhile there, I thought it was going good. After a bumpy start to my teens moving in after their mothers passing, things smoothed out and it seemed all was as well as could be expected. Then my daughter moved out to attend college. My heart break started.

For some unknown reason, communication with my daughter broke down. She made a couple of startling decisions and dropped out of college and ended up back in her old neighborhood. Back with her friends. Since then I feel like I’ve become the stranger in her life. She’s cancelled at the last minute on a family vacation. She didn’t follow through on promises to her little brothers. She became a stranger to her 4 year old brother that adored her, but now when he sees a picture of her, asks who it is. What do I tell him? That’s the sister you loved so much that hasn’t bothered to travel a couple of hours to see you? She’s changed her telephone number and I don’t have it. I’ve sent her messages on Facebook, and received dead air back. She left her 17 year old brother here when she went to visit family for Christmas.

I’m at the end of my hope.

Anger isn’t the answer, it will only drive her away. I’ve only got love left. Love and hope. I will always love her, she’s my daughter, my oldest. I can only hope her eyes are opened soon and she comes back soon. I miss her so much.

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“A state of happiness and satisfaction.”

My wife and I don’t like change. I know that’s true for a lot of people, but usually it’s one partner or the other, not both. Put it this way, I threw a fit for about two weeks when my wife made some changes to our room to better accommodate our very young son, because it interfered with my morning bathroom routine. Yeah, I did that.

So, when our lives have continued to throw change after change at us, my wife and I decided enough is enough. We know what changes are coming, yes we need to start planning and making adjustments for them. There’s not much wh can do to stop them, and we really can’t anyway, it’s going to happen. It’s more a when than an if.

What can we do, as a couple to help offset these pending life changes? We are choosing contentment. We’re choosing to be happy with what we have and not worry about what we don’t. Why? Because we’re happy with what we have. We have a good home, I have a good job, we have great kids, we have a great family, we have food on the table, and health on our side. Sure, there are many other gadgets and toys out there, but why do we “need” them? What is the cost, other than dollars, do we really pay for them? This was a lesson we learned from our 4 year old. A sweet boy that will pick up a toy at the store, play with it a bit, carry it around, and then happily put it back when you tell him it’s time to move on.

If a 4 year old can do that without throwing a tantrum, why can’t I at 44? Life lesson learned son, life lesson learned.

My wife and I have a three year plan ahead of us. That’s about the time frame that those really big changes are coming. We’re a single income family, my wife stays home with the little guys and manages the house like a pro. We’ve made the conscious decision to set a budget and keep it. We’re willing to sacrifice those little expenditures we use to allow, for the bigger upcoming goal. Even little things like taking the kids to McDonald’s will be accounted for. No more cheating or bending the budget. If we really want to obtain our goal, we have to be willing to be happy with what we have now.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We’re not getting rid of fun and having a few outings every now and then. Those are factored into the budget for sure. I’ve learned that from dieting, it only builds resentment and you end up binge eating. What it does build is an appreciation for those moments. It builds longer lasting memories as a family. And, hopefully a better appreciation for what you already have and a desire to give back to others that are truly in need.

With all that said, you have my permission to keep me in line. If at any time you hear or read me complaining about wanting or needing something, reach out and smack me. Like my son, I can put that toy back on the shelf and move on.

Love to all and here’s to a wonderful 2017 now that the Holiday Haze is clearing up.

Every morning, when we wake up, we face a new bridge to cross. Despite how “normal” everything appears we have no way of knowing what will happen throughout the day. We get stuck in ruts and are under the illusion that every day is the same. We wake up, we go to work, we come home, we go to bed. And repeat. 

We fail to see the unique beauty of each and every single day and what it has to offer. We put our blinders on and trudge through our days as mindless zombies. 

What if we changed things up a little? What if we made a conscious effort to see each day as a bridge we have to choose to cross? 

When we stand at the beginning of the day/bridge and look out, we never know what will be waiting for us at the end of said bridge. And even the part of the bridge we can see, could change in an instant. What I’m asking you to do is be aware of each step when we walk across. Be alive to each moment as it arrives. How many beautiful moments have we each allowed to rush past us because we were looking down at our feet? 

Way too many for me.

I have a fear of water, not swimming pools, but bodies of water. Every time I come to a bridge that crosses these bodies of water I tense up, grip the steering wheel, and look at the front of the car. I totally try to block out the fact that I am over water on a structure that could collapse at any point, plunging me into the water and its uncertainty. 

The truth be told, that same fate could happen on any bridge I cross, or any path I walk. Why am I so afraid of matters I can’t control? Time to open my eyes, step onto the bridge, and stop and look around a little, there’s beauty and life all around me.

“God is love. And so are you. Now be who you are.”

I just read this in a book I’ve been reading by Ted Dekker entitled The Forgotten Way. The Path of Yeshua For the Power and Peace in This Life. The book, and it’s accompanying study guide, is a guided set of meditations to help you find who you are by finding Christ who lives in you already. To see the light within you to project that love to the world around you. We are all one in Christ, we all have the same breath of God within us. How easy it is to lose sight of that light when the physical world we live in is covered in darkness.

I could go further into the book, it’s just not necessary here. I would, however, highly recommend it.

I bring it up, and briefly mention it because it may explain a lot of things about what I’m going through right now in my life and my struggles.

Today, I am filled with darkness because of a few simple words said to me recently. I was hurt by those words and they sent me spiraling backwards on my path, my journey. Today, I didn’t want to read my daily reading assignment or do the meditations. I wanted to wallow in my sorrow and beat myself up over the type of person I perceive myself to be instead of the person God sees me as being. The love that I already have within me I drew a shade over.

When I heard those hurtful words I automatically said to myself, I don’t doubt you, I know you love me. It’s me that’s the problem. I’m the one with issues. I’m the one that continues to bring everybody else down because I get stuck in a mood.

When I decided to crack open the book, with some admitted effort, I remembered who I am again. I see how my actions and thoughts, even though directed at my self, are actually being directed at you as well. Why? Because we are one. We are one in Christ. The same light that shines within me, shines in you. When I hurt and doubt myself, I’m doing the exact same thing to you.

That’s not fair.

I love you! I love you with all my heart! Why, then, should I ever doubt and be angry at myself when that just reflects right back on you?

It’s a way of living that I continue to struggle to find and a path that is often times hard to follow. And, it’s so beautiful when you do! It’s amazing how different everything seems when I’m aligned, how much happier I am and you are. How much less stress and anxiety there is. All over the world, there is so much pain and suffering. There are so many people that live in fear and that fear is reflected and magnified throughout. My struggle continues to be to maintain my light, to continue to look for ways to show true love to others. True love is within us all, be the light also.

If I had to sum up my past week, Jekyll and Hyde would be perfect. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been on a journey to find myself and my purpose in this life and world. This has been a long time journey of at least two years already, and I’m no where near being close to the end.

And to be honest, I hope I never find the end.

Curious statement, I know. But, hear me out. If we find the end of our journey along this narrow, winding path, what do we have to live for? Where do we go from there?

I am constantly on and off my path. When I’m on the path I’m the happiest guy in the world. When I’m off, everybody look out. To put it mildly, I’m an ass. In a season to be giving thanks, I fell off the path and hurt a lot of people close to me. I went into my hole and I buried myself and refused to let anybody in. Not to gain any self pity, but I was also hurting inside and I didn’t know why. So, deeper into my hole I went.

If you read my post titled “Gratitude” you see that I did find my way out of that hole and I learned something very important about life. I had to suffer to gain. It’s taken a while for my brain to wrap itself around that concept. When I take time, usually just 10 to 15 minutes a day to close my eyes and meditate, re-center myself, I find I remain pretty stable and happy. When I don’t take those few precious minutes, I lose it.

It’s an easy process for me to do when I’m at work, I just use my lunch break to gather myself and move on. When I’m at home the distractions of kids, chores, TV, etc…I just don’t make it a priority. So, this past weekend, being a long weekend, I spent four days trapped in my head, unable to get out. I was stuck in a rut and spinning my wheels.

Life is about balance. Finding that balance, I’m seeing for myself, is very important. Everyday I learn something that helps me along my path. I’m happy and thankful for those that have assisted me along and are there to pick me up and love me when I stray into the woods. Will there be more Jekyll and Hyde moments in the future, unfortunately yes. The goal is to to have fewer Hyde moments and enjoy this physical life, love, and be thankful.

 

It seems I’ve missed something very important in my life of 44 years. Today I heard a message at church, and that message was the intentional act of creating or stirring up gratitude within our hearts.

Now, why was that such an impactful sermon for me? Well, not to get into too much nitty gritty detail, I’ve basically been struggling with trying to find a direction for my life. And, the message today really struck a cord within me.

I’ve never, really, been truly grateful for anything in my life.

That’s hard for me to admit, and it’s the truth. I’ve lived under this umbrella that I should get what I want and always try to get more. Here’s the problem with this method of living, I’ve very rarely been happy. Instead of really appreciating what I have, I’ve always expected more and thus quickly became bored with my life.

Today, that message hit home and I broke out in tears in the car after church. I’ve taken for granted everyone and everything around me. My wife, my kids, my family, my job, my friends, and the list goes on and on. When I opened my eyes I realized I have so much to be grateful for that I was overwhelmed.

What a gift I have simply in being alive. What a gift that I have to have four wonderful kids and a wife that puts up with me and my moods. What a gift that I have that I actually have a job I enjoy doing. What a gift that I have in a warm house and food on the table. What a gift to be a part of a church family that I feel loved in. I’ve just expected those things to be instead of being thankful for their being.

So, today I start a new chapter because today could be too late to say thank you. The past is over and beyond our control. The future is wide open. All I can control is this very second that I am alive and breathing, nothing else matters.

Tonight I am thankful for life and living, they are two separate things after all. I’m thankful that my son is listening to Christmas music in the living room. I’m thankful I have a job to go into tomorrow morning, if it comes. I’m thankful for my wife who’s combating a 14 month old that doesn’t want to go to sleep. I’m thankful for my 4 year old who curled up beside me and fell asleep. Shoot, I’m even thankful for the cat that just jumped up on the chair beside me. For these things, and many more, I give my heartfelt thank you. So many people have touched my life and I took those moments for granted, no longer. Life has thrown me it’s fair share of challenges, and yet here I stand. The road will have many bumps and twists along that way, I’m ready for it.

Why? Because I have hope in my heart, love to give, and a thank you.

 

My mind has been a whirl lately. The world seems to be turning itself upside down and inside out. Has it always been this way? Has my age and life experience finally opened my eyes to the craziness around me?

Or, is my current journey waking me up to the two true realities?

We, as humans, tend to think that the world is more messed up now than it ever has been, and maybe it is. I personally don’t think so. I think the physical world has been a mess since the beginning of time. Technology has just made the mess more current to our eyes and ears.

Fifty years ago we didn’t have the internet. It took days for news and information to get to us. Now, it’s instant. A earthquake happens in Japan and we hear about it within seconds. We’re more exposed now to information than we ever have been. Our sources of information are no longer filtered through a few channels. Now, you can follow anybody on Twitter from anywhere in the world and find out exactly what’s happening, when it happens.

You can even see what they had for dinner.

With this access to instant information comes a new responsibility. A responsibility to see that the world is suffering. It always has, but the ability to hide from it has disappeared. You can’t have information at your fingertips and not acknowledge that people are in need everywhere. I used to be the person that said “forget them, let them figure it out. They got themselves into their own mess, they can clean it up.”

I can’t say that anymore, because I don’t believe it anymore.

I’m not a religious scholar. With that said, I have studied other religions from around the world. Probably just enough to get me in trouble…What I’ve seen from my limited exposure, and I truly believe this, is that at all religions have it right. When we dig back far enough you can’t help but see commonality between all religions. There are pieces of truth in all of them. What’s happened is we’ve started to fight and bicker over such stupid little differences that we’ve fractured our world.

My idea of the truth is that when you dig deep enough, we all come to the same starting point. The true reality is that we are all brothers and sisters on this planet. We are all one and we’ve let our sibling rivalry tear us apart. We’ve closed our eyes and our minds and have lost sight of what is truly surrounding us. Love.

We need love back in this world. We need open eyes willing to see and share this love.

We can no longer hide in the caves. We wanted technology, and people here it is. It doesn’t matter if that child is homeless in Iraq or in your neighborhood, that child is still in need. It doesn’t matter anymore. You can’t have instant access to information and pick and choose what you want to hear and see anymore. You can’t change the channel and tune them out.

It’s there. It’s what you asked for. For this luxury, there is a price to pay. I’ve admitted that I have been this person described above for years. I can’t honestly sit here and say I can’t see it anymore or blame anybody for their problems because in one way or another, I allowed it to happen to them. I am to blame just as every other person on this planet is to blame.

I have a long way to go in my journey. My eyes are slowly being opened to the truth around me and it’s beautiful. And it’s scary. I’m seeing things I’ve run from for years. I’m struggling with my mind because my heart demands a change. It hurts and I’m scared. I fear I will fail. I’m having a hard time understanding the full context of what is before me and it seems overwhelming.

I have to keep going. I know I do. I have to start with me and I have to start with my family. I may never fully finish my journey, but, if I can help somebody else start theirs, then it continues, it grows and grows and grows. Years or decades may pass, as long as it grows then I’ve done what’s been asked of me.

We are all one. One in the God we believe in and one with each other.

One of my biggest problems is finding balance. I have a really bad habit of not showing patience when I start something new. I’m easily distracted, quick to judge, frustrated when I don’t see immediate results, and lazy.

I want something to make me and my life happy, and I want it now.

I admit, I’ve forgotten that there has to be a journey first. There has to be time involved. There has to be suffering and frustration. I’m going to have to change some major things about me, and I have to understand that those changes take a lot of time and commitment.

There is no miracle cure. If there were, we’d all be happy all the time. There wouldn’t be depression and loneliness. 

This is one of my biggest hurdles.

That and to love myself. “There is no fear in love.” 

I’m going to apologize ahead of time for this disjointed blog. My brain is all over the place right now and I have to get some things out to help clear my thoughts.

My journey to find myself has been an ongoing struggle for the past few years. It started with my realization that I’m not getting any younger, my kids were, my health was in question, and I was miserable. I didn’t know who I was or why I was even alive. What purpose did I really serve? 

These were just a few of the questions I set out to answer for myself, and maybe worse of all, I set out alone. This may help clarify the alone part, I’m a INTJ type of person. It’s not easy for me to ask for help from anybody, much less someone I don’t know very well.

As I usually do, I jumped right in with both feet and was selfishly driven. I bought a bike and would just take off for a ride whenever I choose. I read everything I could get my hands on about “fixing” myself. I was going to make myself a better person.

The problem was, I was ignoring everything around me including my wife and kids. Did I mention I was being selfish?

So, I decided that I’d just give up my personal journey because my journey was effecting my family. I went from one extreme to the other. I decided my only purpose was to just be alive and provide for my family. 

I decided I wasn’t important, only the health and well-being of my family was.

And yes, after a few months that all fell apart too. Once again I was miserable and angry and grumpy and nobody, including myself, wanted to be around me. 

I’m going to stop here for now. I feel I’m about to start rambling and lose my thoughts. I will continue this tomorrow, I feel it’s that important for me to get out, but it I see now it needs to be in pieces. 

Like a puzzle, the pieces seem to be fitting together finally.

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” ~Napoleon Hill

My Thoughts:

How many times in my life have I said “I’ll wait until things get better or settle down,” in my life? How many times did I wait and things never did get “just right?”

The honest answer to myself is many, and hardly ever.

Life has a way of getting in its own way sometimes. Plans always changing, situations constantly evolving, goals shifting. Lets face it, life is going to do what it wants, when it wants, regardless if you are ready or not. No good can come from hindsight in these scenarios and situations. Once the moment has passed, it’s too late to go back.

The opportunity to do something will never be better than right here, right now.

To highlight this, I got an email this morning asking me to join a men’s life group with a few fellows from church. My initial reaction was not right now. I have too much going on with family and work, the timing isn’t right. Or, is this exactly what I need right now? Is this the opportunity for me to keep my sanity and learn from others around me?

Maybe, because right now isn’t the best time, it really means it is? Maybe I just need to say yes and go for it. Will things really change that much tomorrow to make it any easier to do today?