The Days My Sons Were Born

November 25, 1984 and April 21, 1990 were days my life flashed before my eyes. Days I have often reflected on the last 29 years. This is a letter I wished I had written those years ago. I hope my sons will share this with their sons.

To see you enter the world fills my heart with joy, expectancy, and fear.

  • Fear of not surviving the smell of your diapers.
  • Fear of not living up to the expectations I’ve rehearsed.
  • Fear of not being the best Dad in the world.

But this I know, my sons – you are going to change the world.

You will face tremendous problems yet find epic solutions.

You will stare sin in the face and say, “Christ is better.”

You will live your life to serve others and make the name of Jesus famous.

But it isn’t just what you’ll do that makes your life count. It’s your very existence that speaks of the majesty of God.

You are unique, marked, and set apart. Your tiny breaths declare God’s greatness. Your high pitched cries shout loud His sovereignty. Your precious frames pronounce the vast creativity of our God.

Joshua & Austin, I just want to say, I love you with my whole heart. You have a father who is flawed, yet filled with love for you. Though I won’t always respond perfectly, I will always be there for you.

I will listen when you want to vent.

I will watch when you need to show off.

I will be there no matter what the circumstance.

I will brag about you for the rest of my life.

And may you see in my few strengths and endless weaknesses a man who hopefully does not trust in himself, but a man who depends on Jesus with every breath.

Not a man who just talks about Jesus, but actually lives the life with a ferocious passion.

So here’s to many laughs, jokes, and good times together. Here’s to many tears, hugs, and Scriptures shared through struggle. Here’s to not just enjoying you for the wise decisions you make. Here’s to you for who you are.

You are loved just as you are. You have nothing to prove.

I love you, boys.

Dad

AJ_Josh

Put the Glass Down

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

Remember to put the glass down

10 Quotes that Should Shape Your Leadership

  1. “An organization is not truly great if it can’t be great without you.” – Jim Collins
  2. “Too often we argue about Christianity instead of marveling at Jesus.” – John Ortberg
  3. “Don’t just delegate tasks to the next generation. If you delegate tasks, you create followers. Instead delegate authority to create leaders.” – Craig Groeschel
  4. “You are the most difficult person you will ever lead.” – Bill Hybels
  5. “The signature of mediocrity is not unwillingness to change. The true signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” – Jim Collins
  6. “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” – Patrick Lencioni
  7. “When you are angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” – William Ury
  8. “When you’re in a position of authority, you need truth-tellers around you.” – Condoleezza Rice
  9. “I failed him for two years because I was too chicken to have the difficult conversation.” – Bill Hybels
  10. “The morale failure of a leader will challenge the integrity of others as well.” – Mario Vega

A Father’s Prayer by General Douglas MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was an outstanding figure in the events during and after the Second World War. In early 1942, when leading outnumbered United States forces in the Philippines, General MacArthur prayed this prayer for his son Arthur many times during his morning devotions:

“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.”

Perspective

Here are some tips to help us keep the right perspective:

1. Pray everyday for discernment, and strength of heart and mind.
2. Set priorities so you aren’t overwhelmed with too many commitments
3. Take care of your body – eat healthy and get enough sleep
4. Plan ahead for work, family time, and prayer time
5. Keep a positive attitude and expect the unexpected! Your plans are not always HIS.

Throughout Each Day

Throughout each day in my life I strive to be loyal to my friends and family, lead a successful career that I will enjoy, stay healthy, and take on any challenges that come my way.

I value my family members, friends, spiritual fulfillment, sense of accomplishment, and respect for others.

My Family Members
Throughout my life I will always be supportive and loyal to all my family members, allowing a relationship that will last a life time.

Friends
I will always be supportive to fellow friends and assist with any endeavors they may have.

Spiritual Fulfillment
My spiritual beliefs remain most important in my life, creating the backbone of my inner self

Sense of Accomplishment
I live life to the fullest and strongly believe that nothing is impossible.

Respect for Others
Without respect for life and human beings the world would be a meaningless place.

Quote that is inspirational

“Contentment is being confident that you measure up to any test you are facing because Christ has made His strength available to you.” -John Maxwell

Today

Today is not a rehearsal for anything. Today is your life.

It’s who you are and who you’re following and what matters most and where you’re headed…today.

The person you will be is the person you are becoming today.
So don’t waste it.

The challenge you face today is your chance to conquer as Jesus did.
So don’t miss it.

The fear you feel today is your chance to be strong in the Lord.
So grab it!

The tempest all around is driving you out of the storm and onto your knees.
Don’t fight it.

Today matters more than you know. You don’t even know if you’ll have tomorrow.
So stop the excuses. No more delays.

It’s not about others. It’s about you. Today.

Today is the day to love the people closest to you and forgive the people furthest from you.

Today is the day to embrace the humanity all around—as Jesus would, if He were in your shoes. Because He is, in your shoes.

He asks you to put yesterday behind, because it can’t change today.

He asks you to forget about tomorrow, because it only cares for itself, not today.

Today is all that matters—this is your life, your chance to live like Jesus.

It’s happening right now. Today.

Work Life Balance

1. Set a time to shut off work. Working all day and night means you are nothing but your job. Your life belongs to your employer (or if you’re the employer then your life belongs to your employees or customers). Take ownership of your life — find variety and ways to burn off stress and find enjoyment in life! Start by setting a time each day when you shut off work. Whether that’s 5 p.m. or 5:30 or 6 or 7 or 9 p.m. Some of you can set it even earlier if you start earlier — say 4 p.m. or something like that. Set that time and make it happen. After that shut-off time you will not do work or check email or think about work.

2. Find something to immerse yourself in after work. What do you love doing besides work? Do you love to read or run or play sports or hang out with friends or play with your kids or build model ships or play games? If you don’t already have a passion then pick something that sounds fun and give it a try. It doesn’t have to be expensive — it could be as simple as hiking around your neighborhood or volunteering at a charity or helping friends with household projects. Schedule it as soon after work as possible. And while you’re doing it try to completely immerse yourself. Don’t think about work — only think about the after-work activity.

3. Learn to be mindful and present. It’s not easy to just switch your mind off work but it’s a skill you can learn over time. The way to learn this isn’t to try to block work from your mind — it’s to learn to bring your mind back to whatever you’re doing after work. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing: it could be household chores or exercise or talking with someone or taking a bath or eating. Whatever it is … that’s all you want to focus on. Your mind will inevitably slip into something else. That’s OK. Bring it back gently and without reprimand. Slowly with practice you will get better at being present. Which means your work won’t always be on your mind.

4. Take breaks at work. Not everyone will have this flexibility but it’s worth doing if you can manage it. Basically if you’re working for 8 or 10 hours you don’t want to do it non-stop. You need to find balance even at work. So at least once an hour get up and walk around. Get outside if you can and take a walk. Stretch and massage your shoulders and get your blood moving. Do some squats or pushups if you want to start getting fit. Talk to someone. Drink water. Eat fruits and vegetables. Your break just needs to be 5-10 minutes but it’s important.

5. Increase your skills while at work — to prepare for leaving work. If you are very skilled at what you do then you become worth more. In fact it’s often possible to quit your job and start your own business if you’re good enough. And it doesn’t take a lot of money to work for yourself — you can start a business with practically no money. I started mine while still working full time: my job funded my startup business. Even if you don’t go into business for yourself you’ll be worth more with a high skill level. So devote your work hours to learning and perfecting your work skills.

6. Find ways to increase your income while decreasing hours. As your skills increase your value increases. Slowly pick jobs or projects that earn more money per hour. This often means changing jobs but it might be a promotion or change in roles. It could mean starting your own business or becoming a consultant. If you already have your own business or work for yourself then you should slowly be picking jobs or business projects that pay more for every hour you spend working on them. By increasing income you can decrease hours and free up more time for yourself.

7. Learn that you are not defined by work. You can be happy without your job. Your value isn’t completely tied to your work. For example: I’m a writer but it’s not the only thing I am. I’m also a father and husband and know that those are my most important roles — not my role as a writer. I am more than that as well: I run and read and learn and help others and am constantly experimenting with life. I can do things other than my job and be fulfilled. So can you. And once you discover this you’ll free yourself to find a life outside of work. Then balance is simply a matter of logistics — you just need to make it happen by taking small steps.

Small steps are always the answer. You don’t need to be perfect at shutting off work or being present or pouring yourself into something after work. You just need to start doing it and in doing so you’ve already started down the road to balance.

Being Grandparents

Here are 4 commitments Lori 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?

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