Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We Can Do This, Men!

Father’s Day is this coming Sunday. I’m throwing this out there especially for those of you in my immediate family in case this special day may be sneaking up on you, escaping your notice. And I wouldn’t want you to miss it. I’m thoughtful that way.

Actually, I’m really looking forward to this weekend even if I don’t get any Father’s Day gifts at all, such as a new motorcycle helmet. I’m planning to head down to Lake Sallateeska this Friday and Saturday for a Father/Son Camp. Not only am I going with my two boys, but we’re meeting my Dad there as well for a cook out, some fishing, and just plain hang time with the guys. Talk about a treat!

Listening to the radio this morning I heard the hosts talking about quantity time versus quality time. Which is better? Is it better to spend a greater amount of time with your children, or to make the shorter amount of time you have with them count? I think the answer is “both.” 

Before I say anything I need to issue this disclaimer: I am not “The World’s Greatest Dad,” even though I still have the license plate frame one of my boys gave me that says otherwise. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t even do some things right that I know I should. Okay, I don’t do a lot of things right that I know I should.

Men, we have so few years to invest in the lives of our children. It doesn’t always seem that way, for sure. There are times you think these kids will never grow up. But ask any parent whose children are now adults and they’ll tell you they wonder where the time went. And many who’d give anything to have back some of those years for a do-over.

You know how children spell love? It’s T-I-M-E. Dad, your children need you! They need you to be there. They need your quantity of time and they need that time to be quality. They need to know they can count on you. They need you to be engaged in their lives. They need to know that you care about them. They need you to show attention and affection. They need you to look them in the eyes and listen to their stories. They need you to answer their questions. They need your encouragement and affirmation.

They need you to discipline them appropriately when they get out of line. They need boundaries. They need you to tell them what’s right and what’s wrong. They need to know where you stand on issues. They need to know that you say what you mean and you mean what you say. They need you to teach them to respect authority and to respect others. They need you to teach them honor and commitment and love.

They need to see your life as an example of honesty, integrity, hard-work, faithfulness, gentleness, humility, courage, patience, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, gratitude and love. Tell them that you love them and show them love. Tell them you are proud of them, even if they’re not the star athlete or in the top of their class academically. Brag on their accomplishments to others. Help them develop in their areas of interest.

Let them see you loving their mother. It’s been said the best thing a father can do for his children is to truly love his wife. They’re watching you, Dad! They’re learning from your example in everything you do. What kind of men and women do you want them to be when they grow up? Then start building them up to reach that goal.

Give them your time, and make the most of every minute you have. They’ll be out of the house before you know it. Don’t live with regret. Give them your best now.

And most of all, pray constantly for them. Entrust them into the hands of our heavenly Father, who very capable raises them up in spite of our own failures and weaknesses. Lead them to Jesus, and the wisdom of their lives will be the greatest Father’s Day gift they could possibly give. With God’s help, we can do this, men!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Now Batting...

Ever been in a hopeless situation? Facing insurmountable odds, having exhausted all your resources and didn’t know where to turn for help? Welcome to the world.

Our summer has been jam packed so far with quite a few activities. Mostly baseball. I know it has for many families. We only have two boys playing. If you have more than that, you’re probably more ready for July to get here than we are. 

Not that I don’t enjoy the game. I do. And I love seeing my boys having fun, making friends and learning to play ball. I don’t even mind sitting in a lawn chair swatting gnats for a couple hours in the evening watching them play. It’s a full schedule when they’re each playing two or more games a week, but it’s all good.

Let me send a special shout out to the coaches of the boys of summer (and to the girls’ softball coaches, too). Bill Peterson and B.J. Sutton are coaching Tyler’s team, who, much to Bill’s disappointment are not called the Razorbacks. Jason Dick, Loren Porter and Wes Boensel are coaching Toby’s team, the Comets. Thank you, guys, for investing in these young men and giving your time to making this a good season.

In a recent Bombers game on the road against a villainous foe, the bad guys seized a sizeable lead against our team. The attitude in the visitor’s dugout turned somber. Heads hung down, shoulders slumped and comments such as, “We’re gonna lose” were voiced out loud. The boys didn’t see any way they could win. The game wasn’t over, but they sensed the doom of defeat.

In this world we often find ourselves in similar seemingly hopeless situations. The bills pile up and there’s not a dime left in the piggy bank. Your husband says he doesn’t love you anymore and wants out of the marriage. Your doctor calls with the test results and says he needs to see you right away. The child you raised to honor and respect authority has been arrested, again, and you’ve already done all you can do to help.

Welcome to the world. Troubles, trials and tribulations abound. Discouragements, frustrations and disappointments knock you down. Pain, suffering and sorrow grip you with fear and anguish. Whoever said life was a bed of roses?

Jesus certainly never did. In fact, what He did say is this: “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). No promise of perfect weather, picnics in the park, or trouble-free living. He never said if you just had enough faith that your car would start every morning, that your job would always be safe or that your children would be free from disease. He never said that you’d have enough money to afford college, that everybody would like you or that you’d be living out the American Dream.

But here’s the deal. Jesus says in the very next breath, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Yes, you’re going to face hardship, but Jesus has already won the victory. You don’t have to live in defeat despite the overwhelming odds against you. The enemies of fear and doubt and sorrow may have you surrounded, you’ve exhausted all your resources and don’t know where to turn, but the game’s not over. 

Dear friend, hear Jesus calling your name saying, “Turn to Me! My power and strength are so much greater than anything you’ll face in this world. My mercy and grace will be more than enough to help you in your weakness. My steadfast love will never disappoint, never put you to shame and never fail. Turn to Me, child. Turn to Me!”

The Bombers may have lost their baseball game. But just when the foe we face in this world seems to gain a huge lead, our ultimate Clean-up Hitter steps into the batter’s box, and victory already belongs to Jesus. I’m glad I’m on His team! Are you?