Be All There

Be all there.

Our kids are dying for us to teach them something. And for us to be intentional. It’s one thing to shut off the phone for an hour and watch them. But to be fully engaged is a life change.

It’s often hard for me to be mentally present, even though the phone is away. My mind is always racing a million miles an hour, and I can be totally into an activity but be completely glossed over. I usually have to talk myself out of the clouds and make myself be focused, intentional, and emotionally present. Our kids can tell when we are spaced out, especially as they get older.

It takes practice to clear our minds of stress, frustration, deadlines… But when we get good at it, the times we spend with our kids will be so much more fulfilling.

You see, children teach us an awful lot about ourselves. If we are spending time with them just to occupy their time, we could be missing out on what our kids are trying to teach us. When we are fully present, we may actually learn a thing or two about this thing called life.

Towards or Away

As a dad, we are either leading our kids towards Jesus or away from Him.

There really isn’t an in-between. Our sole purpose as a dad is to love our children as our Father loves us. And in that we draw them closer to Him. If we aren’t doing that, we are leading them towards something else. Until they are old enough to decide for themselves, that responsibility falls on us.

Though that seems like a heavy burden, if we are confiding in our Father, we are, by default, showing our kids the way. By loving Him, and by loving our kids the same, they will no doubt know the Love of Jesus.

Today is a great day to start. As we share laughs and memories about Easter eggs and mobs of crazy people, we have the opportunity to capture their attention and share with them the only reason Easter is a holiday. Christ loves us, died for us, and asks us to simply love everyone. If our kids see us loving everyone, they will do the same. Because every kid wants to be like their dad at some point. My hope is that my kids will always want to be like their dad. And they will know their dad loves Jesus.

Our resurrected King is resurrecting me.

Vacate the Premises

Vacate the premises.

Vacationing with family isn’t a once a decade or once a year kind of thing. This really needs to happen often. It’s one of the easiest ways to prevent burnout. It is also a fantastic way to keep the kids on point.

When we have something to look forward to, we have reason to get out of bed. But when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, our patience gets a little thinner and our energy becomes lesser. This doesn’t mean we have to catch a flight every month. But we have got to get out of the house. My kids go nuts with this weather because they get cooped up. Everyone’s kids do. But if we break it up with some mini vaca’s, it is so worth it.

Most dads I talk to are burned out and have no vacation planned. Not even a weekend trip to the beach. It doesn’t really cost much, but it is a quick way to get a shot in the arm. My buddy just took his first vacation in 5 years and said he hasn’t felt this motivated to work in as many years. A quick week away with the family, some incredible memories made, and back to work refreshed.

What I have noticed is when I vacation, I find some time to think and reflect on business and life and usually end up making much- needed, drastic changes. I simply would never see these needs if I just kept grinding week in and week out.

Get out and play with your kids! They need that week-long, undivided attention. Get something on the calendar or it won’t happen, I promise 🙂

Self Care as Dads

It is so unbelievably important for us dads to take care of ourselves. I think most of us take our health for granted. It’s really easy for us to let it go as we get busy with work and projects. Last thing I want to do when I’m tired from work is hit the gym or lace up the joggers.

But this really isn’t an option. There is absolutely no guarantee we will be here tomorrow. We really need to steward our bodies well, not just for our sake, but for our kids. We owe it to them to make sure we are doing everything we can do that we are always there for them. Less beer, more water. Less fries, more water. Less sitting, more walking. Way less TV, more time in the yard. It really isn’t that hard, it just takes a little effort and some want.

Granted there are a lot of things that are out of our control. But for the things that are in our hands, we have been tasked to steward with the very best effort we have.

If you aren’t going in every single year for a full scale physical, you are assuming everything is working fine, and the current potato chip diet isn’t harmful. A binge workout does more harm than good. And a consistently active lifestyle is quickly negated by a crappy diet. And if we aren’t active, they won’t be either.

Our wife and kids absolutely need us. We are chosen to be there for them.

Travel light

Travel light.

After 5 fun-filled days in New York with my great bud, it has never been better to return home to my family. In years past I used to travel so much. When Monroe was 6 months old, I was gone for a stretch of 8 out of 9 weekends. Before we had kids I was gone from my bride for 17 straight days.

While I had some fantastic opportunities back then, I am realizing more and more that I simply can’t stand being away from family. It just isn’t worth any great opportunity if it means I can’t share it with them.

On one trip, Monroe learned to walk for the first time. Indiana started sitting up by himself this weekend while I was gone. I was talking to an Alaskan fisherman a couple weeks ago that lives in Seattle. I asked him what it was like traveling that much the last 25 years. He said “I would never, ever do this again. Or any job that takes me from my family. I’d rather be a janitor and live under a tarp with my family. It cost me my marriage.” It’s easy to say yes to a trip. But I’ve challenged myself to say no. Instead of 10 trips a year, it’s 2, maybe. If I can’t bring them, I can’t go.

I think I am doing them a favor by taking a gig that pays. But they don’t care. They just think I’ve left them. They ether get stuffed in my suitcase, or I stay local.

Hello, My Name is Regret

Hello my name is regret.

I think that regret is one of man’s greatest killers. Like Uncle Rico, we live and bask in the quarterback glory days because we know we could have done it better and wish we could still be on the field. Not a day goes by where some regret creeps up in my head and I daydream about the shoulda coulda woulda’s. Just today a regret hit me that instantly made me wish I had the last 10 years back.

Oh, to do it all over again with what I know now… Wonder why little league dads end up punching out the ref? Because we think we are still in the glory days. When in reality we are forcing our regret and disappointment on our kids and making them play tee ball 9 months a year.

We sit and daydream about what could have been. A missed career opportunity. A failed test. Roughing the punter with the playoffs on the line (that was me). We find ourselves thinking our lives are a disappointment. I often times think that an entire decade was a waste. Really? Well, those are thoughts that I allow to breed in my head.

We really need to figure out a way to kill regret. The more we feed it, the worst we become. I guarantee we all take that regret out on our family at some point. Chasing wild dreams. A midlife crisis. Buying up things to create a fix.

Let us recognize the regret and kill it. Every single thing happens for a reason. We can’t go back and change a thing. Imagine being 80 years old and holding nothing but regret! If we still have breath in our lungs, we have a chance to change. Let Christ in a ease those regrets. Our kids and wife will be so thankful.

Protect the margin

Protect the margin.

It is so important that we save our best for our family. I see too many dads, including myself, that spend every amount of energy and devotion on work or adventure or their golf game. But we must save our best energy for our kids. Sure, it’s exhausting doing a 9-5 with the weight of being the provider. But there is another 16 hours in the day. Do we stay up late watching mindless shows only to be tired? Or get tied into commitments because we don’t know how to say “no”? We need to say “no” to a lot more things so we can say yes to our kids. If we are too tired for them, then what is purpose of everything else we are doing?

Usually when I’m tired I don’t get very creative with the kids. We just go for a little walk or play in the backyard. But on days I have energy, we go on some grand adventures. I need to protect my margin so there are a lot more grand adventures and a lot less lazy Saturday’s.

Birds and the Bees

Birds and the Bees.

I stumbled across a family magazine the other day that broke down the different ages of our kids, and how to have age-appropriate “sex-talks” with them. I kinda dismissed it at first since my kids are 0 and 2.

But curiosity got the best of me as it always does and I noticed the first age group listed was 0-5. I found that interesting so I read on. What I quickly realized was how imperative we be proactive in this area with our kids when they are in the toddler and little kid seasons. At this stage it is more about explaining anatomy, gender, the proper names of body parts (nicknames are not good)… These are crucial formative years and we have a great opportunity to set them on the right foot. It also is our responsibility. I believe that we need to be very proactive at an early age, teaching them truth, not some skewed view of sex that media now shares as truth.

It is so important that our kids are comfortable talking with us about this stuff, otherwise they will find out from their friends and their phones. In all honesty I learned first from the neighbor kids and cousins and a magazine before I ever learned it at church, school or home. And we know that this can cause serious damage to us in the formative years.

We must battle for our kid’s future and for their purity and for the sake of their future spouse and kids. If we aren’t regularly addressing these issues, I guarantee they are learning and experimenting from their peers. What I knew at age 14 many kids now learn at age 7.

And it starts with us dads. It sure is awkward and uncomfortable at first, but if we set a standard and make an effort to know and to be the first informant, it will pay dividends in the long run.

This is not something we can take lightly and just let time pass. We must act now, no matter what age our kids are.

Community is Key

Community is key.

I recently posed the question “why does it seem like nearly every superstar athlete eventually become part of a scandal?” Jordan, Magic, Tiger, Peyton, Clemmons, Walter, Kobe, Lance, Bonds… All were at some point labeled the greatest of their era, or of all time. And every one of them became part of a massive scandal, many of which their careers were destroyed.

One of the responses from someone to my question really hit it home: lack of community. If these athletes made absolutely certain that their community of men was rock solid, would their failure have happened? Maybe. But likely not. If you are surrounded by guys that will absolutely call you out on your garbage, you will have time to fix it before it destroys your career, family, marriage and life. You may never even find yourself in those situations if you have a safeguard in place. It is a non-negotiable to have that core crew.

But many men try to go it alone. Hide their secrets. The great cover up. We stuff our head in the sand and shut everyone out. I personally know a lot of guys that allowed their lives to tank, not because we weren’t there for them, but because they shut me and everyone else out.

We would be fools to think we could handle this life alone. There is way too much pressure on us and that burden will always be more than a single spine can carry. So we either resort to the bottle, a magazine, a website, the course, the garage, the secretary, our phone… whatever can distract us from our burdens.

If we feed that distraction, eventually it will become our scandal. Allow yourself to be vulnerable to others so that you aren’t vulnerable to a scandal.