3 Things I Taught My Son By Cutting The Grass.

Being a dad is a big deal. Last week I taught my seven-year-old to cut the grass (push mower). I was hesitant to unleash him with a spinning mechanical blade, but his mom wasn’t there to stop me so I went for it and I’m glad I did (just kidding, she trusts me). In the process we had several unplanned father-son moments as his attention was hyper-focused on learning to mow the grass. Here are a few that I caught myself teaching him.

cutting the grass

  1. Your Actions and Lack of Actions Affect Others.

Our first task was to fix the self-propelled components of the mower. Though he is a strong kid, he is just seven. Having the self-propelled component working would help him be successful. So we got out the tools, pulled the cover off and started cleaning things up and looking at why it didn’t work. As we were doing this together, he was goofing around and touching stuff on the mower. I knew there was no real danger since starting a mower is an involved process but I asked him, “What would happen to my hands right now if you accidentally started the mower?” Of course he knew by where my hands were that he would “cut them off.” I then asked, “Is that something you want to do?” Of course he didn’t. So I suggested that when someone is working on a machine the best thing to do is stand back and watch, unless you are asked to help.  We then talked about how all of our actions affect others.

2. It is Easy to Mistake The Symptoms for the Problem.

Once we were fixing the mower we talked about how what we perceived as the problem (the self-propelled component wasn’t working) was actually a symptom of the real problem. Likely a part had broken, a belt had slipped, or we simply got to much stray grass had gotten under the cover. As it turned out there was a ton of grass and the belt had slipped off. It was an easy fix. In the process though we talked about how in everything from lawn mowers to relationships that when something is broken, we often see the effects before we can analyze the cause. It takes wisdom to look for what caused the problem and fix it instead of just looking at the problem and complaining.

3. Always be on Guard Against Mission Drift.

Mission drift is common in everything from cutting grass to life in general. If we are not careful we will be more concerned with where we are than where we are going and in doing so we will end up way off course! Without a vision for what needs to be accomplished it is easy to worry more about pushing the mower than where you are pushing the mower too. He learned this all too quickly as the first few rows were crooked, leaving pockets of uncut grass in some places, and mowing over the same territory twice in other places. I shared that We must always keep an eye on what God has called us to or we will miss the mark simply because we thought more of the moment than we did the outcome. I applied this especially to living under authority. I shared that even I as a parent and pastor fall under the authority of scripture.  It’s easy to respond to the feelings of the moment, but wise men go back to what God has said and follow that path.

I’m sure that a lot of the conversation went over his head. Yet, it has also become a background song to his life. He knows more about cutting grass and more about life than he did a week ago. I’m reminded that our children often learn more from us as they join us in activity than they do when we sit them down to have a specific conversation. I’m always looking for those teachable moments.

James 1:9-11 (Devotional)

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
(James 1:9-11 ESV)
Not long ago I watched an old cartoon of one of Aesop’s fables entitled “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The fable shares about a race between a very fast rabbit and a very slow turtle. The turtle slowly, but consistently presses on towards the finish line while the rabbit runs ahead and takes a nap, wakes up after the turtle passes him and runs ahead only to stop by a school and impress the students with his speed. While the rabbit is showing off his speed he realizes that the turtle has almost finished the race, but no matter how fast he runs he still ends up coming in second behind the turtle. He had forgotten that the race wasn’t about pure speed, but on who finishes first.

The writer James reminds us that sometimes if we are not careful we can lose our focus on what life is really about. Life is not about becoming wealthy and stacking up possessions. While those things are not evil, they are not eternal. (James compares earthly riches to the fading of the grass.) James says the poor man can boast that Jesus has made him truly rich by bringing him into the Kingdom of God. Sometimes our trials and tough times make it seem like we are losing in life, James reminds us that as long as our focus is on Christ that we are indeed winning.

A Handy Reference to the Life, Thought and Writings of C.S. Lewis

A-Z I was in the fourth or fifth grade when the world of Narnia was first introduced to me. My teacher began to read the chronicles to the class and I was mesmerized. She would close out each chapter and I ached to know what would happen next. Something happened in me that year and I found myself immersed in the next book of the series. I had become a C. S. Lewis fan. Years later in College I would be introduced to his other works  such as The Four Loves, God in the Dock and Mere Christianity. I can’t explain what it is about Lewis’ life and writing that I like so much, other than they have helped me make sense of the world.  You can imagine my delight when I found out that Colin Duriez produced an encyclopedia of Lewis’ life, thought and writings.

The A-Z of C S Lewis: A Complete Guide to His Life, Thoughts and Writings is without a doubt an accessible treasure chest of information about C.S. Lewis and his writing. I’ve enjoyed looking through this book and remembering key characters and passages I had almost forgotten and then finding some new ones from works I haven’t read yet (but will soon!).  It has become a second awakening for me in regards to Lewis and his writings; a reminder that I have not exhausted the joy that his reading brings to me. I think it’s a fantastic book and a great addition to any library, especially to those who would consider themselves a fan. I can’t recommend it enough.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse as part of their Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wait No More (A Review)

Wait No More: One Family’s Amazing Adoption Journey by Kelly and John Rosati is the tale and open disclosure of one families struggle with God’s calling to adopt.  I was impressed with the candor with which the Rosoti’s write about their life and how they came to build their family.  The book is gripping and emotional.  Stories of love and forgiveness fill each page as the Rosati’s recount each painful, akward, and joyous moment that filled their lives as they carefully sought to add each of their children to their family.

I applaud the Rosotis in sharing details for personal weakness. Their candor in  sharing their struggles through some of the less joyful moments and emotions helped paint a realistic picture of the life of adoptive parents. Though at times one wonders if perhaps they have shared too much? Never-the-less I was deeply appreciative for a glance into this families life, especially as it concerned adoption.

I found the book inspiring and encouraging.  I highly recommend Wait No More to anyone who is looking to adopt or just loves to hear stories about how God is moving in families to adopt. .

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“Jolt” By Phil Cooke (A Review)

Jolt!: Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing by Phil Cooke is an exciting read.  The book is basically a list of 25 “jolts” or things that a person needs to do in order to be successful in the Western business world and in life (of course this all largely depends on your definition of success).   The chapters are generally small and very readable in a ten to fifteen minute coffee break and range anywhere from three to ten pages in length.

Initially I thought the book was a bit cheesy and I wish the author would have picked a different name. Even though I knew what Phil was talking about I couldn’t shake this image from my mind the whole time.  Never the less the book did prove to be very useful to me and I dog-eared several pages to come back to and review later.

Many of the thoughts aren’t that revolutionary, but they are strong reminders of some basic life strategies.  Phil does an excellent job of continuing to point to the things that really matter.  In the end I came to really enjoy and appreciate the book.

Over all its a great read with a great cover design and if you can ignore images of gum with a high caffeine content that goes by the same name you will have a great time reading it as well. The retail price of Jolt is $22.99 (hardcover), and is available around the web in places likeAmazon.com for $15.02.  I gave it four stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Everybody hurts sometimes (Ecclesiastes 7)

Sometimes a little pain is good for us. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we should pursue pain, just that maybe pain gets a bad rap sometimes. When I touch a hot stove, it’s the pain that tells me not to keep touching the stove or I’ll burn my hand off. When I work out or run after a long time of keeping my muscles dormant, it’s the pain that tells me they are growing (no pain, no gain). The emotional risk of trying something new reminds me that I’m not growing if I’m not out of my comfort zone.

In Ecclesiastes 7:1-15 Solomon is answering the question posed in Ecclesiastes 6:12, “what is good.” Suprisingly pain makes the list.

So you may be having a rough day. Maybe even a rough week. Don’t be quick to say,”woe is me.” be patient and wait for the end (Ecclesiastes 7:8-9). You may find out that the pain was worth it. Don’t judge a situation just because it’s difficult or it’s full of adversity. See what happens. A fool worries about the “what if’s” in life. A wise man deals with the “What is.” sometimes it takes a little while to know what you are dealing with.

Sometimes the good times fool us. We think we have it made. I’ve found that it is the hard times that shape us and really make us who we are.

Again. We don’t need to seek hard things. If your suffering because of a toothe ache… Go to the dentist. You have the power to change that. Of your suffering because of your sinfulness, repent and make amends. If you have no power to change the suffering in your life, then embrace it and know that God can cause something good can come out of it.

The second part of this chapter reminds us that we can’t know everything. We need to be humble and trust God.