Gift of Presence

The greatest gift you can give your family over the next few days is presence. So many people have been posting how fast this season is going, trying to keep up with advent calendars and elves on shelves, making the perfect place settings for a photo. NOTHING else matters from here on (or any time), than your presence. Cast all your distractions and instagram stories aside and completely engage with your family. Take great joy in their joy. Spend twice as much time as normal playing and wrestling and tickling and making memories. The future of your kids starts now. These moments will live with them forever. Do you want them to remember you having the phone in your hand the entire time? I’m as guilty as anyone. But I know the only thing my kids and wife want is my undivided attention. Let’s give them every ounce of us! They need to know they are the most important thing in the world to us.

Celebrate in public, criticize in private.

Celebrate in public, criticize in private. This is so key for teachers, coaches, pastors, business leaders and of course, parents. I get ugly mad when I see a coach berating a player on the sidelines, a pastor throwing a staff member under the bus from the pulpit, or a parent in the grocery story, or a CEO pushjng their staff around in a team meeting. To be honest, I can’t sing better than a Canadian goose. One day during choir practice in high school, my teacher asked me to mouth the words to the song we were practicing, and the entire class heard her. I didn’t have much ambition to sing, but my choir days were over at that moment. Her quick-witted response is something I remember 20 years later. Those moments stick with us forever, and often times have a significant impact on us. As parents, we hold the power and the key to our kid’s confidence. As do coaches, teachers and bosses. And we are either building them up, or cutting them down. We are either controlling, or encouraging. We can’t afford to, in a fit of impatient anger, snap at our kids in the store, or in front of their friends. It is so important that we be patient in our discipline, and generous with our praise. I recently heard in a podcast a woman said “I don’t remember my dad ever telling me I was beautiful.” That can crush a kid. They long for us to praise them and celebrate them and show the world how much they mean to us. Go out of your way to celebrate your children and spouse this week. Shout it from the rooftops. From the heart. And not just a simple Facebook post. To their face, in front of their friends, when and where it matters most. Make it a habit. And then next time you think to criticize publicly, please just wait until the time is right, and be fair about it. Our words are the key to their success. #secretlifeofdad

Running on Fumes

Sitting here at a gas station, only fumes in the tank, and only red numbers in the bank account. Wish this was the first time this has happened. Kind of funny that it happens to be at the same gas station as last time. I had driven to a shoot this morning, but the client forget and I was stood up. Which meant no check was received. We have been in a very long season of being unsure where our next paycheck would come from, or if it would come. This season has been littered with flakey clients, lost invoices, checks arriving months late. We are fully dependent on our daily manna, because that is all we have in this season. Lots of time wondering if we would have to sell the house, car, body parts (kidding)… So when I show up to a shoot and our daily manna isn’t there, frustration runneth over. Stuck here, the only thing I could do was turn on the song Do It Again from Elevation, for the hundredth time. “Walking around these walls, I thought by now they’d fall. But you have never failed me yet.” In the bleakest of situations, thankful that hope still remains. Even if it means walking around these walls for another 20 years. Gosh that would suck. But, there still is hope. I either choose frustration, or hope in faith. There is no one to blame. There is no one to point figures at. God has brought us into this wilderness to teach and refine us. We will be here until that refining is complete. We are not in the wilderness as punishment, as we so often believe. No one can rescue us or pull us out. Only God says when this season has come to a close. If we stay in frustration, we may never leave. If we stay here with hope, there is a brighter day ahead! #secretlifeofdad #film

Called Out

Let no man fall off a cliff. The Bible talks very clearly about the importance of speaking up when someone is headed for danger, or death, in their life. The choices they make actually are our business. Especially as friends, and brothers in Christ. I hold this principle very near and dear. I absolutely expect my friends to call me out, privately and respectfully, when my actions aren’t aligned with my mission, my heart, and the Gospel. And I make sure to align myself with people who will do that. Who ask the tough questions, aren’t afraid of hurting my feelings in an effort to save my life. I’d rather a friend get in my face, than let me sin. Unfortunately our generation is all too sensitive and takes offense too easily, making this closeness of friendship very hard to sustain. Too many relationships have gone distant because I’ve chosen to hold someone accountable, especially when they ask, and then they are offended when I do just that. If we want to be real men, real dads, we need to chose relationship and iron sharpening over taking offense. If you find yourself feeling offended, maybe, just maybe, that conviction is real. Surround yourself with guys who want to see you win. And don’t let pride take you down when someone calls your stuff. The enemy wants to see you fail, and hates relationship. So be sure to have good fellas around, and allow them to honorably chew you out when you slip. We don’t need to be drill sergeants, but when we are headed for a cliff, a good wake up call from a friend is very necessary. #secretlifeofdad

Let It Out

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, once said: “Is your story worth the trade-off of your privacy?” Meaning, you have a story to tell. If you are concerned about what people think about you, you probably won’t ever make a difference. At least not at the potential that you could. It takes tremendous courage to talk about who you really are. What you really are thinking. The reality of the struggles you face. If there is people in your life preventing you from achieving your dreams, preventing you from telling your story, preventing you from being honest with yourself and others, it is ok to remove them from your circle. YOU HAVE A STORY TO TELL. So tell it. Don’t hide behind pride, fear, shame, the desire to impress. Be open. Be vulnerable. Remember, faking it won’t fix it. So many times I have not been offered opportunities simply because I was the only one in the room to speak honestly. To share my history. To expose darkness within me. I wasn’t the only one who had darkness, but I was the only who who spoke about it. And that scares people who aren’t honest with themselves. They will suppress you because you showed vulnerability. But that is OK. A better opportunity will come to those who are meek. You don’t want to be around those who will crush your dreams because you were honest. Own your story. Be open about your weaknesses and difficulties. Because someone else out there also has those weaknesses, and are waiting for someone to speak up for them. Contend for them. Jesus wasn’t an advocate, because often, advocates just talk about something. To contend for someone means to crawl in the foxhole with them and suffer with them. That person is you. Forsake your privacy, your fear, and your shame. Trust that your story is bigger than you, and a story that needs to be told. Sure, it may scare some people, and they will not want you around. But I assure you that those same people are much more broken than you are. Eventually, everything in darkness will come to light. Don’t hide from your story any longer. Do you believe God is big enough to use your story to save others from themselves? “Don’t talk yourself out of your dreams” (Michael Port), and the dreams God has for you.