What It’s Like to Be a Dad…12 Reasons I Love Being One

I love being a dad. I really do. It’s one of my favorite things about life.

Here are 12 reasons:

  • I get to cheer from the sidelines…
  • I get to see my legacy live through others…
  • I get to keep growing so they can watch me grow…
  • I get to watch boys become men…
  • I get to share wisdom and experience…
  • I get to be two boy’s biggest fan…
  • I get to share stories with others about my boys…
  • I get to receive encouragement to stay young-minded…
  • I get to anticipate daily texts, emails, and phone calls…(or iChats…)
  • I get to enjoy my new daughter (Thanks for marrying Jeremy! Let’s update the family pic!…)
  • I get to be continually challenged as I learn from my boys…
  • I get to point my boys to Christ…

Add to this post:

Any dads out there today? What do you like about being one?

Are you missing your dad today? What’s one great thing about him?

Have you thanked your Heavenly dad today? What’s one thing you’re thankful for?

Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day Inspiration

I realize it’s not a modern song, and the graphics may seem cheesy, perhaps even the song to some, but I raised my boys on this song. Well, I didn’t actually raise them with it, but it did have a huge impact on my heart. Music always speaks to me and this songs lyrics challenged my fathering when I was a young father. This song captured the essence of who I wanted to be as a dad. I could still cry by listening to it today.

What is your greatest desire as a father? Be honest. Are you living a life to reach that desire? Be honest.

This is a great weekend to spend some time evaluating your role as a dad.

Is there a song that challenges you to be a better husband or father?

Happy Father’s Day, BTW!

Embracing Intentional Change

We moved downtown…

After we became empty-nesters, Cheryl and I sold the house where we raised our boys and purchased a condominium in the downtown area of our city. We have a river view. It’s an open floor plan. Everything we do is on one level, plus we have an upstairs living space for the boys when they come home. We walk downtown almost every night. When we can, we eat downtown too. On Saturdays, we visit with the downtown street festivals. We love it!

It was hard leaving our home with so many memories of raising our family and move from the safe and quiet neighborhood, but we sensed it was time for a change in our life. Here is something we have learned from experience: Sometimes people need intentional change in order to keep life interesting and protect or grow a marriage. I shared before about “Couple Dreaming“. Cheryl and I had always dreamed of living downtown, so rather than keeping it a dream, we took steps to accomplish that dream.

Working with many couples and individuals in counseling I have learned that becoming bored in a relationship can be dangerous. We don’t intend to let that happen! As we entered into a new chapter of our lives as empty-nesters, we decided to make some intentional changes in our life. We have a few more dreams in our future…we’ll see what happens next with them. It’s keeping our marriage and lives exciting!

It doesn’t have to be a move, but sometimes a change of pace will ignite new excitement in marriage. The same can be true of a career or a personal life. Change can bring about renewed energy and motivation. Cheryl and I were not bored in our marriage. We would have been fine had we stayed in the house, but change made us even closer in our marriage, because it forced us out of our routines and into new avenues in our relationship. It’s an exciting time.

What intentional change have you made or do you need to make in your life?

Motivate us: Share an experience of when you made an intentional change in your life!

A Word to the Men: From Pastor Ron

The last two years have been a season of change in my life. I’ve experienced a change of perspective as we’ve transitioned into being empty nesters and I’ve experienced a change of passion in terms of where I see God wanting me to invest my energies.

At 47 years of age, I have learned enough to know there are things I wish I had known earlier in life. Reflecting on my role as a husband, father, and leader, I realize how much wisdom is necessary to accomplish all that is required of men. In my conversations with other men, I know that many men never received proper instruction and wisdom on what it means to be a man. I have a strong and growing desire to encourage the next generation of men and young leaders to be men of God in their homes, churches and communities.

Recently I felt led to address the younger men of our church with this issue on a Saturday morning. In a simple, two hour gathering, I plan to speak to men candidly and challenge them to live godly lives in all areas of their lives. The premise of the meeting will be to address the men as if I was sitting with one man, helping him discern how to be a godly husband, father, and leader.

If you are in the area, come join us Saturday, June 18 from 8 to 10 AM at St Bethlehem Christian Church. We have advertised this to men age 35 and under. That’s not a magic age and no ID’s will be checked at the door. We are limited in space and want to make sure I’m addressing audiences younger than me. I’m still learning how to be 47!

Young men, be honest: Do you wish someone further down the road in life would speak into your life?

5 Questions to Quickly Assess the Health of the Marriage

I don’t do marriage counseling very often these days. I have a master’s in counseling and spent a few years almost exclusively doing counseling, but the size of the church and my role leading and developing the staff takes more of my time now. As a pastor, knowing that my opportunity is limited in offering on-going counseling, I have learned that it is important to assess the health of the marriage early in the counseling process if I have any hopes of making progress.

Here is one method I found helpful. I ask each spouse to answer this short questionnaire separately:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, what is the health of your marriage right now?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how well do you communicate as a couple?
  • How long ago…in weeks…months…years…did you sense there may be problems in your marriage?
  • What is the # 1 problem in your marriage right now, in your opinion?
  • What do you like best about your spouse?

These questions are difficult and hard-hitting questions, but their answers are invaluable to assessing the state of the marriage. From these questions I can make some quick observations. I have often seen couples answer these and realize they aren’t as far apart as they thought and a healthy discussion began. Other times I saw the marriage was clearly in need of extensive help. I could show it to the couple on paper from their own assessment and it made them more willing to accept a referral for professional counseling. At the least, I could see how far apart the couple was in understanding their current situation and gave me a starting point for discussion.

Pastors, what tips do you have when starting a discussion with a couple expressing problems in their marriage?

For more marriage posts, click HERE.

For those brave enough, feel free to try this exercise at home.

How to Break God’s Heart

Okay, let me be honest…I’m not sure the title of this post is theologically sound. I don’t know if we can “break God’s heart”. His heart appears fairly strong to me. He carries the weight of the world on His shoulders, so I’m assuming He can handle most anything we throw His way. I did want you to read the post though, and I do think there is an illustration here that is important for us to consider.

Our youngest son Nate was studying in Europe for the summer. (You can read more about his experience HERE.) For the last couple of years, he has attended school 8 hours away, so the distance is not much of an issue, although it is summer and I wish he were home. The problem for me now is the way we ended our instant messaging today. He will not have Internet for the next 5 days, so I’ll not have any correspondance from him for nearly a week.

I realize 5 days is a short time for many. I sometimes only talk to my mother once a week, but I’m new at this empty nesting. Five days seems like forever right now.

But, there’s a bigger issue that came to my mind as I saw those words typed in a chat program. I’m a dad who will miss talking to his son for the next five days…and I’m not even close to being a perfect dad.

How much might God miss talking to me? Do you think God would hate hearing “talk to you in 5 days or so”?

I don’t know that there has ever been a time when I went 5 days without talking to my Heavenly Father, but there have surely been days when I seemingly cut Him out of my day.

Here’s a question I’d love for you to ponder:

If you were having an instant messaging discussion with God, when would you tell Him you two would talk again?

Be completely honest with me: Is prayer one area of your Christian experience that you struggle with the most? Why do you think that is true?

My Favorite Wedding This Year

This weekend we had the incredible experience of seeing our oldest son Jeremy marry his his school sweetheart Mary. I was privileged to perform the ceremony. It was a beach wedding, which kept the wedding party small, plus the waves kept some from hearing the vows Jeremy and Mary wrote for each other. Several have asked for the text of the ceremony, so I decided to share the main part of it here for family and friends. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Here is what I said in the message portion of the ceremony:

This is a special occasion for us today…..

I’ve never performed a wedding ceremony that was this personal…

As a point of personal privilege, let me say…

Mary, thank you for being the person you are…so kind, so thoughtful, so caring for others…You are the perfect helpmate for Jeremy…We’ve said all along, you two make each other better people…We feel honored and blessed to have you as a part of our family and lives…

Jeremy, you have always been a warm-hearted person…You are highly relational…desiring to make other’s lives better than you found them…We have always said that your future will be bright not as much by what you do, but because of who you are…That’s a great great characteristic…

Jeremy and Mary, your parents are incredibly proud of the young adults you two have become…

Let me say a word to each of you gathered here…Your presence here today is helping to write a story…It’s a story about Jeremy and Mary….When Jeremy asked Mary to be his wife, he said he wanted them to write a bigger story together…Traveling this far…you have demonstrated your love for Jeremy and Mary…This wedding was kept intentionally small…So your role here today is important…it means you’re a leading character…

But it’s really a bigger story than even these two…or even all of us…You see, the story we are writing happens every time families and friends gather for a wedding ceremony…God, Himself, authored the first wedding ceremony…from the beginning with Adam and Eve

You see, marriage is part of God’s master story…It displays a picture of God’s love for us…As a man and a woman leave their mother and father, submit their lives to one another….the man loves the woman as Christ loves the church, and the wife respects her husband, the two are grafted together into one flesh…

Ephesians 5 calls this process a mystery…How two imperfect people…so incredibly different…can become one is hard to understand…God uses the picture of Christ and His love for the church as an example of that relationship…Christ died for the church…God sacrificed His Son for the church…The marriage that honors God is a picture of that kind of mutual, complete submission to one another…So many marriages today fall short of that goal. …

Mary and Jeremy, the biggest story you could ever live is to center your lives around God’s story….allow Him to direct your path…And live your life for a higher purpose…to glorify God with your life….May your marriage be the perfect example of the sacrificial love Christ demonstrated with His love for the church…

We find that love expressed in 1 Corinthians…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a)

Jeremy and Mary, as your marriage begins & for the rest of your lives, may you show that the love you have for each other is indeed part of the bigger story God is writing for the world…a greater love….

Jeremy and Mary wanted to make this a very personal occasion, and they’ve decided to recite vows that they’ve personally written for each other.

Here are the vows Jeremy made to Mary:

Mary-

I remember when it seemed like this day would never come…
…. Only 7 years, only 4 more years… 1 more year, 3 months, 10 days, 1 day, and now I can finally call you my bride.

Words can’t express how thankful I am to be standing here today. When I stop and think about the qualities I desire in a wife, you exemplify every one of them. You love God and strive every day to know Him more. You have the most amazing heart, and always put others needs before your own. You are beautiful. Your smile brightens my day like nothing else in this world. You love me unconditionally even when I act selfishly or disappoint you. You’re my best friend.

In the presence of our God, our family, and our friends, I make these promises to you:

I know that my life’s greatest privilege and highest calling is to lead you and our family spiritually. I promise to run to God often and ask Him for wisdom in leading our family, so that you will always know that the direction for our family comes from the Lord. I promise to be the husband God has called me to be and to point you towards Him in everything that I say and do.

I promise to make a commitment to die daily to myself and put you, your needs and desires before my own. ….. I promise to intentionally invest in our marriage more than anything else; to dream with you through every stage of life, to celebrate with you during the good times, to laugh as often as possible, to be a listening ear whenever you want to talk, and to stand beside you through every trial we might face.

Finally Mary, I promise to never leave you, because I believe God made you for me and me for you.

From this point on, I am forever blessed to have you, my bride, my one true love, everyday, for the rest of my life. I love you now, and forever more.

Here are the vows Mary shared with Jeremy:

Jeremy-

Almost since the first day that I met you, I had a crush on you; and ever since high school, I have loved you. We have been together for seven years and we have been through so much together- good and bad, but I believe that, through God’s grace, it has only made us better people and a stronger couple. I have waited for this day and I have prayed for you for a long time. I feel so blessed that we get to stand here today and promise to spend the rest of our lives together.

Jeremy, I promise to be the woman that God has called me to be- to be the best wife that I can be. I will love you genuinely and i will not take you for granted. I will honor you and respect you. I promise to put your needs, desires, and wants before mine. I promise to pray for you everyday. Jeremy, I will build you up and not bring you down.

I promise to be there for you in the good times and the bad. I promise to be the person that you want to run to with every piece of good news and also to be the listening ear and loving arms for you to run to when nothing seems to be going right. I will stand by you no matter what. The Lord has made us a team and we are in this together. I will be there when you need me. I will not leave you. I promise that you can always confide and trust in me.

I promise to be someone you can be proud of. I promise to always dream of our future together. I promise to laugh with you, cry with you, and to live life to the fullest with you, My prayer has been that Christ would be at the center of our marriage and that He would allow us to be able to serve Him and love Him better together as a couple- that our lives would be used for something bigger than us and I promise to hold up my end of that prayer.

I am so thankful for the man that you are and that God has allowed us to begin this adventure and write our story together. I love you, Jeremy.

Just curious. Did you write your own vows? Feel free to share them with us here. Have you ever been to a beach wedding?

An Empty House = An Emotional Night

It’s been an incredible few days. Cheryl and I returned tonight from Florida where our oldest son Jeremy married Mary, his high school sweetheart. They are a beautiful couple. The beach wedding was wonderful, they wrote their own vows, and God was glorified (I’ll share more about this later). I performed the ceremony and our youngest son Nate was best man. I only choked up once…or twice…maybe three times…but was able to get through the ceremony. It was an incredible experience.

On the ride back from Florida, we stopped in Atlanta to drop off Nate who was catching a flight to Europe, where he is studying this summer. He will study the life of Paul from 1 Corinthians, Systematic Theology and the Reformation, in the countries of Italy, Germany and Switzerland. How cool is that? I walked him in, saw that he made it through security, then we began our journey again.

Cheryl was melancholy, but honestly, I was excited. We would truly be alone this week and she and I love our time together. This is such a great time in our marriage.

Cheryl’s mother and my mother went with us to Florida, so there was plenty of conversation in the car. :) The ride passed quickly. We pulled into the driveway of our recently purchased “empty nester” condo, I walked in the door, and…well…I started to cry. I can’t explain it, but suddenly the reality of two of our bedrooms being empty…perhaps forever…just overwhelmed me for a moment.

It’s been a great weekend…and the past couple years with Nate being in Chicago and Jeremy transitioning out has taught me that this season is going to be okay…it really is. I love my life and I love my wife. That’s a great feeling!

For tonight though…I may still shed a tear…

Where are you at in the parenting cycle? Tell me about your kids!

4 Commitments We’ll Make as Grandparents

Extended family in living room smiling

This is a premature post. My boys will probably balk at it, but I’ll be honest. I’m a people watcher. That’s especially true when I’m out of town where I don’t know anyone.

This is written while in Florida to perform my oldest son’s wedding. He and his soon-to-be wife have been together for many years, so we feel she’s already part of the family. They say they want to enjoy life together a few years, but we know they both love children, so, even though we would encourage them to take their time, we suspect they’ll have children within the first few years of marriage.

That means most likely we’ll someday be grandparents and it has made me more conscious of what it will be like at that stage of life. Cheryl and I talk about it often.

Today I saw a family out with a grandmother. It was a beautiful family. The kids seemed well-behaved. The parents seemed attentive. The only problem, in my opinion, was an over-bearing, controlling grandmother. Every time the children did anything she corrected them. She consistently over-ruled the parents with the children. She didn’t appear as a loving grandmother, but rather as a family friend who grew impatient with the couple’s children.

I’ve already told my boys, but I feel I need to tell you for accountability purposes. Here are 4 commitments Cheryl and I hope to make as grandparents:

When parents are near, we’ll be silent - In the ideal setting, grandparents should have raised their children to be adults. Their daily parenting task is done and they shouldn’t try to take that role from their children who are now parents.

We’ll be there for the parents - Parenting is hard work. A parent needs all the support he or she can receive. We’ll be in the parent’s corner as grandparents.

We’ll support the parents - Not only will we support the parents, when we’re grandparents, we’ll step away and let the parent’s model for parenting prevail. Hopefully the mark we hoped to make on our children will carry forward, but it will be their job, not ours, to be the parents. (Granted, if there was a severe problem, we’d step in, but if it’s a matter of preference in parenting, we’ll be silent.)

We’ll compete for grandparents of the year - Let’s face it. I’m competitive. This will be one more place I hope to succeed. Hey, it worked for parenting…at least I think it did…why not for grandparenting?

It’s going to be fun being a grandparent.

Are you a grandparent? What would you add to my list?

Are you a parent dealing with grandparents? What would you add?

Have you witnessed, or experienced, over-bearing grandparenting? What would you add?