Dads, Daughters and Date Days

Right around 5-years ago I became a dad.  The nurse handed me this precious little baby girl and I knew that it would all be different from that day forward.  My life had changed and all the sudden I felt the pressure to not to drop the ball.

Now She is almost 5-years-old and smarter than I ever imagined a 5-year-old being.  She knows me well.  To be honest, sometimes its uncomfortable.  She doesn’t come with a filter.  In fact that’s what a lot of parenting is… introducing a filter.

Just being gut level honest… It’s not easy to introduce a filter and help your kids process life.  Most of the time the easy thing to do is to go cut the grass (because its over due and you wonder what your neighbors are thinking about your un-kept yard), or read a book (because you need some quiet time after they have tugged on our arm and said, “Dad” a million times in a row just to get you to look at their newest drawing and act like its the best thing since Michael Angelo), or Watch TV while your kid takes an hour long bath and shrivels up like a prune (because you’ve had a long day dealing with other peoples problems… not to mention your own).  Its actually quite easy to just show up, give out a hug, maybe play a token game or two with your kid, talk to your wife, go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow without ever really parenting.

To be completely honest.  I don’t always succeed at taking advantage of all the “dad” moments that I could.  But I know I need to.  I know that I love my kids (no matter how many times they say “dad” in a row while I’m trying to figure out the algebra problems I’ve created  in the check book). I know that they need me.  I know that I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now living with regrets on how I wasted these formable years because someone else said, “that’s normal” or “that really never messed up my kid.” (After all they aren’t accountable for how I raise my kids).

So we have set some things in place in my family in order to capitalize on these younger years with my daughter.  I tuck her in bed most nights and read 1 or 2 stories to her from her Jesus Story Book Bible .  We also pray together.

On some Sunday afternoons we are more intentional.  We have this 105 picture set of pictures describing events in the Bible.  She picks out several pictures and I walk her through the story and how it relates to Jesus and obedience to God.  She looks forward to our time on Sundays and its often in this context that we process how the stories tell us about who God is and how we can relate to Him through our decisions.

My favorite part of the week is taking her out for breakfast once a week before school, we call it a Father-Daughter date.  The regular scheduled time gives me a solid hour of quality time with her.  We do everything from eating pancakes, talking about our her week, sharing ideas on how to color a picture, reading books, to picking up a small gift or surprise for my wife and her mom.  Its often in the context of this date that I get opportunities to share about Jesus with folks we meet there.

Its the date days that I really think my daughter gets to see the fullest picture of her dad.  There is no topic off limits and she often brings up some great questions.  We process life together and I intentionally help unmask the world around her through the lens of scripture. Sometimes we talk to people, sometimes we pray with people, and sometimes we just enjoy pancakes and a good story.

You see, here is what I know.  My daughter reads my actions better than my intentions. So it makes sense that I would be intentional about my actions.  I say that church is a family event, yet when we get there I am pulled a million different places (as I should be) because I’m on staff at the church.  So we arrive together and leave together on purpose (even though it would be more convenient not to).  I say I love her, so I am intentional about spending quality and quantity one-on-one time despite having a hectic and busy schedule.  I say I love Jesus, so I intentionally help her process her world through the lens of scripture.

I want her to know me.  I want her to know that I love her.  I want her to know that I am proud of her.  I want her to know that as a father I will do what is best for her.  Its really not about my good intentions, its about intentionally being a dad. I hope one day she looks back on her childhood and treasures the times we talked over pancakes as much as I do.

What about you?  What are some of the things that you are intentional about with your children?

 

4 Basic Guidelines for Facebook Etiquette

I am a follower of Jesus Christ (some people call us Christians) and I also like to use the internet to chat with friends, find cool things, and write out my thoughts.  So to a lot of people I am a representation of what it looks like to follow Jesus.  However, I have several friends and acquaintances that also say they rep. Jesus, but they do some crazy things with their facebook profiles that make us wonder whats really going on.

To be fair, none of us are perfect.  Following Jesus isn’t about being perfect, its about following, and sometimes we all can get a little “off track.”  Thankfully God has provided the way for us to be forgiven and come back into a right relationship with Him.  Still we should guard our online presence in the same way we are to guard our actually words.  It amazes me that sometimes we post things on facebook that we wouldn’t say to people face to face.  So here are 4 basic guidelines for facebook etiquette.

1. Don’t rat someone out of your facebook status

So you have a disagreement with someone about something.  Don’t post, “Some people make me really angry!”  You may feel that since you didn’t mention their name that it isn’t gossip or slander.  Inevitably someone comments, “what happened?” and you are either inclined to say what happened or ignore them making the interest pique all the more.  Better to not post than to drag a disagreement in the public forum or worse cause all your friends to guess at who you could possibly make you so mad.

2. Comment on other people’s profiles like you would want other people to comment on yours

If you disagree with something I post, that is okay.  If you are really offended, tell me in private and we can seek reconciliation. Don’t comment on my post that I am a jerk, idiot, or whatever.  See Guidelines #3 and #4 for more details.  If you have a comment, but wouldn’t want someone posting the same comment on your profile, then don’t post it.  If the post can not go unanswered send a message.  It is much more private and will give you the opportunity to work things out.

3. Remember facebook is very public, not private

Ok so I post, “I like spaghetti” on my profile.  Then you remember a funny (yet embarrassing) story about me and spaghetti.  You think it will be funny to comment on my “I like spaghetti” status because we have 3 friends in common who will think of the incident and laugh.  What you failed to take into account was the fact that I have 758 other friends who have no clue who you are or know the full story behind the “spaghetti incident.” What you posted as an “inside joke” and was funny to a few people can makes you look like a jerk and damages your reputation with my other friends.

4. Befriend and de-friend for the right reasons

Don’t de-friend someone just because they made you mad.  You might eventually get over it.  Resist the urge for a few days and see if things workout.

However, sometimes people have facebook profiles and they don’t need to be your friend.  They may think they are entitled, but the are not.  You choose who your facebook friends are and are not.  A few basic guidelines that I like to follow are listed below…

  • Ex-girlfriends or boyfriends probably don’t need to be your friend on FaceBook (unless it was in the distant past).  If you just came off a bad break up, you are still going to be tempted to send harassing messages back and forth.  Cut the excess drama out of your life and cut the FB friendship.
  • People who are prone to excessive gossip and slander.  You may have been hurt by past rumors and accusations and even come to a place of forgiveness.  But just because they are forgiven doesn’t mean they deserve a spot among your facebook friends.  Why would you give them open ground and opportunity to hurt you further?
  • Toxic people.  While the two mentioned above could be considered toxic people, this guideline covers the rest.  These are the people who are out to cut you down.  We all have friends who have bad days and maybe there is a disagreement from time to time, but you do not have to invite people into your facebook world who go off on you every time they get upset.

True Love Waits

I had the opportunity to speak to a local Christian club on the topic of “True Love Waits” and thought it would be great to share my observations here (seeing as parents, student pastors, and even occasionally students stop by here from time to time).

Warning: This content is mature in nature. Parents this may be a good guideline for you to have “The Talk” with your kids.  If they are in upper middle school they probably have heard a lot about sex and it doesn’t hurt to have a Biblical perspective.

You can get a PDF copy of my notes by clicking the following link:  True Love Waits.

A few other places that might be helpful:

What a Father says to His Daughter on Valentines Day

I have a pretty amazing little girl.  She turns five soon.  I am anxious, yet hopeful as she grows older and approaches womanhood.  I have a huge responsibility in demonstrating the way real men are to treat women.

valentines day

I take her out for pancakes once a week.  She looks forward to it every week.  Sometimes she goes to sporting events with me, just the two of us.  We call these daddy-daughter dates. Every day she asks if its her day to have breakfast with daddy.  She loves me in a crazy four-year-old way and I love her like any father should.

So here is what I’m saying to my little girl this valentines day and will probably say almost every day of her life.

1. I love you.

Love is not an emotion, it is an act of the will.  I chose to love you and I will never stop.  I love you enough to tell you the truth, to act against your will sometimes, and to do what is best for you even when you disagree.  I love you when you cry over broken toys, scraped knees, and hurt feelings.  I love you when the world is pressing in and you need a place of refuge and strength.  I love you when you have disobeyed the rules I gave you that were to protect you from harm.  I love you when you dance and sing like they do on TV.  I love you when you dress up like a princes and we dance.   I even love you when you are mad because you didn’t get your way, when you are angry with the kid who stole your toy, and when you don’t want to share. I hope you know by now that I love you and that will not change.

2. You are Beautiful

You are beautiful.  You are beautiful not only in princess gowns, play make-up, and jewelry… your  beauty is beyond skin deep.  I am inspired by your beauty when you are kind to your brother.  Your beauty shines when you help your mom.  Your beauty is evident when you bring your bibles in for me to read.  You are beautiful when you challenge me to dance.  You are beautiful.

3. I am Proud of You

I am Proud of you for so many things.  I am proud of you for letting people know when they have hugged you for too long.  I am proud of you when you take the initiative to help others in need.  I am proud of you when you think of me or someone else and you draw them a thank you card.  I am proud of you for picking up your toys with a good attitude.  I am proud of you for wanting to teach your brother what few lessons you have already learned in life.  I am proud of you when you trust me simply because I’m your dad.  I am proud of you when you ask questions (and you ask great questions).  I am proud of you.

To Dads:

We are often good about telling our daughters about when they misbehave or things they could do better.  Somehow it is easier to notice what we don’t like or don’t value than it is to affirm the good that our children do.  It is important that we cheer them on and provide a positive aim as well. Valentines day (or any day for that matter) is a great opportunity to let your daughter know that you love her and affirm the good things you see in her character.  These 3 words of affirmation are something that all daughters need to hear from their daddy no matter what their age.

Theology is Important for a Relationship With God

Theology.  A brief defanition is, “The Study of God.”  A simple explanation is that theology answers the question, “What is God like?”

The key to any relationship is knowing something about the other person.  Fathers try to spend time with their children. Spouses try to find time away from the children. Young couples go on a series of dates before they settle into a marriage.

Usually at the beginning of a relationship we tell ourselves all kind of lies about what the other one is like.  To put it milder, you may say we have differing expectations.  We paint a picture of what the other one is like, but we don’t really know what they are like until we get to know them.    Sometimes our expectations are exceeded by the character of another, sometimes we are let down.  That is why we need to spend time getting to know people.

New dad’s dream about what their kids will be.  However, they soon realize that children have a will of their own.  It is the same way with the young couple that have fallen deeply in love.  They don’t really know anything about each other, but they “love” each other.  Then months or years down the road they realize the real nature of the other person (for good or for bad) and accept that for months they were in “love” with their version of this person and now they must decide if they truly do “love” this other person. That’s why it is a good idea to take the whole courting thing a little slow and know what you are getting into. (You can check out how I dated my wife and married the most wonderful woman in the world… here).

The point is that at the beginning of relationships we fill in missing information about the other person with what we want to put there.  I think many people have false ideas about God simply because they don’t know Him and have filled in false information about Him.  Many of us have created a picture of God based upon what we want Him to be rather than what He is really like.

Some of us picture God like a Santa Claus type figure.  Others have pictured him as an angry judge.  To be honest, some people don’t think He exists at all.  Still others think of him as a passive grandfather who lets everything go.

The challenge is to really know God.  To put all of our preconceived notions on the table and read what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible.  Feeling are a good thing, but I’ve been mislead by feelings.  Isn’t it better to know God?  That happens by learning about Him.  The way you learn about God is by spending time reading the Bible and talking to him.

Theology is answering the question, “What is God like?”  Do your answers come from the Bible, where God had revealed things about Himself or do they come from how you picture Him in your mind based mostly off your feelings?

What tools have helped you dig into the Bible and learn more about who God really is?  Here are a few that have helped me along the way.

3 Annoying Things I’m Glad My Parents Did When I Was a Teenager.

So its been a while since I’ve been a teenager.  I was a teenager in the boring decade of the 90’s.  Long before Text Messaging, Facebook, YouTube, Ipods and  really cool video games (I grew up with Mario brothers and Contra on the original Nintendo) .  While lots of things have changed around the teenage world since then, there are somethings that just won’t change.  One of those things is how important it is for parents to be involved in the lives of their teenagers.

Here is a look back at 3 things that were really annoying to me as a teenager that I now look back and am thankful for.  I guess at the time my parents were more concerned with being a good mom and dad, than in winning my one vote popularity contest.  I thought they were clueless… It turns out they had way more common sense than I thought.

1. They Insisted on Regular Weekly Family Time.

As a teenager I often had “more important” places to be or things to do.  It usually involved hanging out with my friends or talking on the phone to the girl I really liked (again, this was before texting and facebook).  My parents didn’t mind these activities, but they set some pretty stiff boundaries around our family time that often conflicted with my desires.  I can still remember to this day my dad telling me I had 5 minutes to get off the phone or I had to be back by 7 because of family time.  Our family time most often existed of sharing prayer concerns, reading scripture, and praying… At the time I thought it was boring.  I now look back at this time as the center (the one place we could all come back to) that kept our family together during some rough times.

2. They Set a Reasonable Hour for Curfew.

My parents would ask about what I was up to.  At the time I just thought they were being a little overbearing and didn’t really have a life of their own so they had to make mine difficult.   I now realize they just really cared and wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing something stupid. I would tell them about the activity… A movie, ball game, etc. and they would tell me a reasonable time to be home.  Sometimes my curfew was midnight, sometimes it was 7PM.  It mattered to them where I was and what I was doing.  I could call and renegotiate if plans changed and you got invited to someones house or wanted to stop by McDonalds with your friends  (back then you had to use a pay phone or someone’s home phone).

I remember one night I stayed out hours after curfew because I was explaining to a friend about how to become a Christian.  I thought for sure my dad would be overjoyed and understand the “rule breaking.”  But when I got home.  He was awake and waiting on me.  I shared with him what happened and he was genuinely happy.  Then he told me I was grounded because I could have called.  At the time I thought he was a jerk.  Now I realize that he expected me to be responsible.  He expected more out of me than I was expecting out of myself.

3. They Stated the Obvious.

When I was 18 years old and about to head off for college I made my parents sweat by dating a girl that already had a daughter.  My mom sat me down and shared the obvious.  Jon, “She has a kid.” (I told her that was a little obvious).  Then she said, “God may call you to marry someone who already has children one day, but do you really think you are ready to be a father?”  She was looking beyond my interest to the interest of the young woman and said, “She is no longer looking out for just herself.  She is looking for someone to be a father to her daughter and fill a role her life.  You were just telling me about going to college in another state.  You are going down two different paths.  You won’t be able to go to college and stay connected with this family.  You don’t need to lead her on.”

I guess I knew all that, but it took my mom stating the obvious as she had done so many times before.  And it wasn’t just over making bad decisions like investing 2 weeks of my life in a relationship that wasn’t meant to be.  I remember my parents telling me I did the right thing and affirming me over and over through my teen years.  Their stating of the obvious facts in an authentically loving way made all the difference in the world.  Sometimes I didn’t want to hear what they had to say, but part of me knew they were wiser than I gave them credit for.

I am thankful to God for good parents who stood on some unpopular issues when I was a teenager.  My response wasn’t always joyful, but I knew deep down that my parents cared about me.  I look back now at the boundaries that my parents set up around me.  I pressed against them quite a few times, but mostly to know that they were there.  During the times when life was chaotic and stressful in our family the boundaries were one way that I knew I was loved.

3 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Daughter After Watching New Moon

Ok before I start its only fair to say that my daughter isn’t a teenager (she’s almost 4) and I’m really not a fan of Twilight.  But because I was forced to see the movie and I work with teenagers (and I can imagine my daughter being a teenager one day), I went to the movies with the eyes of a father.

Here are three things I’d tell my daughter after we watched New Moon together…

1. You are intensely loved by me and worthy of being pursued one day by the right young man.

My hearts desire is that you follow that path that God has for you.  If that includes marriage, then my hope is in giving you away to the right man.  Until then I will do everything I can for you as a father.  I will chase away the creeps, ask you great questions, and perform background checks on any guy that comes through the front door (ok maybe not the last one…but maybe).  I also promise that if you bring home the right guy you won’t find me cleaning my gun or talking about how people get lost in the Everglades and never come out.  In fact it will be a joy for me to give you away one day.  If you bring home the right guy, I’ll pay for the wedding and rejoice on the day that my princess becomes someone elses queen.

2. Some things appear more urgent than they are.

In the movies Edward says all kinds of nice things to Bella (once you take away the creepy 100 year age difference… please never date a man 100 years older than you… thats a whole new level of creepy).  Everyone enjoy hearing nice things like, “you make life worth living.”  Sometimes words spoken softly and sweetly can be mistaken for love.  Real love is a commitment and it takes time to show up.  Guard your self from giving your heart away to anyone who talks a good game.  This kind of talk can make you think that things are more intimate than they are.

Too many young men are careless with their words.  Many young boys are living life in transition and are mistaken in their feelings or they carry sinister motives and are trying to manipulate you. A young man worth your time will guard his words and will not lead you on.  The woman pursued by solomon in Song of Songs offers some wise advice here.  She says, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Songs 2:7).  Real love is patient and is evident in a young man’s actions long before it appears in his words.

3. Don’t make strong commitments while your life is in transition.

You have grown up so much from the first time I held you in my arms.  You have learned so much.  Every day of your life I have been amazed by you and I am proud of who you are becoming.  I know one day that if it is God’s will that I will give you away at your wedding.

Right now you are going through a time of transition.  You are no longer a child, but you aren’t quite an adult yet either.  You are changing.  Your body is changing and your thoughts, attitudes, and desires are all changing. It is okay to change.  One of the problems with this time in your life though is that sometimes you may not know what you want.  Or you may want two things.  Like Bella in the movie you may have two guys who like you and you may like them both.

A mature woman will act decisively. Even as you become an adult, when you are uncertain I beg you not to commit yourself to anything until you have figured what you want.  This is the reason for the really unpopular rule about how old you need to be before you can date.  I’ll be honest.  My aim is to give you away on your wedding day both physically and emotionally pure.  I know that purity in your marriage will light an intense fire of intimacy and trust with your husband.

I love you and I truly want the best for you.  That day they handed you to me in the hospital was one of the best days of my life.  Everyday with you had been a joyful adventure. I will always be your father and I will always love you.

  • Tell Me the Story!
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  • What a Father Says to His Daughter on Valentines Day