Wow, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 2,190 day’s since he was born but I remember that day so vividly. I remember going with him and the nurse to get his shots and then she gave me the honor of helping with his first bath. I’ll never forget him holding my finger and looking at me as if to say, “Why are you letting her do this stuff to me?” On that day, I experienced love in a way that I had never experienced and responsibility like I had never had. I love you son and it’s my honor that Jesus chose me to be your dad and you to be my son. I love you and happy birthday.
As the Father of two daughters, I have been giving a great deal of thought to what advice I’d like to give them about life, career, dating, and their education. Here are 15 words of wisdom from your Dad. I’m sure there will be more to follow…
- You are beautiful inside and out.
- Realize your self-worth before committing yourself to someone.
- Don’t reveal too much of yourself. Closely guard your secrets, dreams, ideas, affections and your body. There will be a day you want to share all of that with the person you marry. Don’t share it with the world. Remember, you’re special!
- You are a child of God and God loves you.
- Don’t date or marry someone who does not hold your values, morals and beliefs.
- If your date does not open the car door…stand there and don’t get in the car!
- Respect yourself and expect those you date to have respect for you also. If they don’t have that respect, they don’t deserve to be out with you.
- You will not be able to change him. Don’t date someone with the idea that you will be able to change the things in him you don’t like. It does not happen that way.
- Don’t get serious with a guy who would rather play a video game or hang out with a bunch of guys than spend time with you.
- Get your education and as much education as possible. Education provides choices in life and you want to have as many choices as you can. Education provides these choices.
- Be able to financially, emotionally and professionally support yourself fully before getting married. Having someone support you financially is not a reason to get married.
- Have goals and dreams. Write them down and look at them often. Create a roadmap to achieve these goals and dreams.
- Have Values and Morals. Write them down and make them nonnegotiable. What is that you believe and stand for? This will make your decision-making easier and prevent a great deal of heartache.
- You can’t feel good about yourself while living in sin.
- Keep a journal of your life, prayers, answered prayers, struggles, and successes.
- Don’t hesitate to walk away from someone/something that goes against who you are and the values and morals you hold.
- Be able to change your own tire.
- Know how to jump off a battery.
- Get involved in a church. Not just going on Sunday morning but giving of your time, efforts and finances.
- The sweetest sound to a person is the sound of their own name. Learn and remember names.
- Learn how to budget and live within your means.
- Credit Cards are of Satan (stay away from them!!)
- Don’t put all your personal stuff on Facebook. Remember, what goes online stays online FOREVER!
- The person you will be in 5 years will be greatly determined by the books you read, the TV/Movies you watch and most importantly the friends you hang out with.
- 10% of life is made up of what happens to you and the other 90% is how you respond to what happens to you.
- Change happens and is necessary for growth.
- Failure is not when you get knocked down but when you refuse to get back up.
- Attitude isn’t everything, but it is the one thing that can make a difference in your life.
- Give today your attention–not yesterday or tomorrow.
- You will always be Daddies Little Girl. Forgive me when I constantly remind you of things you already know, ask you to call when you get where you are going and when you’re on your way home, and the belief that I hold that there is no male who is good enough for you.
I can’t believe how fast my children are growing.
- Is now a senior in high school. Seems like yesterday she was cutting her own hair and playing in the mud.
- She is taller than I am.
- Going on dates
- Has a Job
- Getting taller
- Voice is getting deeper
- His boyish looks are changing into being manly
- Drives my truck around the church
- Putting logical thoughts together
- Using more and more words
- His ability to reason, (when he wants to)
- Independence (I can do it)
- No lock, latch, nor gate that can hold him. He could escape Alcatraz!!
- Loves Octonaughts
- Can make Jackson so mad
- Always wants to “drive” my truck
- Using more and more words
- She carries on conversations
- Tells you what she wants
- Get’s upset when you don’t do it.
- Always calls out DaaGee when I open the door
- Loves to take a bath
- Will show you the finger she has DaaGee wrapped around
- Talking more but not as much as Sophie
- Loves his Mimi
- Shorter than Sophie
- Looks so much like his daddy at that age.
- Beginning to sing along with radio. Favorite song, “Mean” by Taylor Swift
- Refuses to go to bed until he is ready to drop
You’ve heard the one about the old man who was dying? He smelled cherry pie baking, so he roused himself from bed and staggered into the kitchen. He was reaching for the pie when his wife swatted his wrist away. “No!” she barked. “That’s for your funeral.”
Here are 10 things we can do to reduce the amount of stress in marriage:
- Always put your spouse first: This is a HUGE principle, key to reducing relationship stress. Ideally, a husband and wife will put the other first, but you only have control over your behavior.
- Have fun together: Movies, walks, picnics, games, trips…not just fun but hilarity. Laughing together is great relationship medicine.
- Build “together time” into your schedule: “Time with your spouse” shouldn’t be relegated to the status of leftovers! Your relationship with your spouse trumps all other priorities and schedules. If that means scrawling “Relax together” on the calendar in indelible marker, then so be it!
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: When you feel the first inklings of stress, ask yourself “Is this a moral issue?” If not (nine times out of ten it isn’t), then let it go. Make your mutual priorities a recurring topic of conversation. Remind yourselves what really counts. Simplify your lifestyle. Celebrate what you have in each other.
- Give back, and do it together: Work at the soup kitchen; volunteer with a faith-based community; hook up with a group that helps the less fortunate or restores the environment. Throw yourselves into charitable causes together, and watch things fall into perspective.
- Communicate clearly and respectfully: Like sit-com fodder, misunderstandings are the source of a lot of tension. Always keep your spouse in the loop, and always communicate with love and good manners.
- Tell the truth: Remember the old adage, “When you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said the last time.” People who don’t keep secrets experience less stress in relationships.
- Hold hands, hug, and make out! Physical contact is a proven stress reliever. Squeeze into the same chair to watch TV – just hang all over one-another. Reach out and take your spouse’s hand while walking, driving, or at an event. Be deliberate about demonstrating affection via physical contact.
- Play to your strengths – and hers: Effective teachers know that playing to a student’s strengths works better than focusing on any weaknesses. Pay attention to your spouse’s strengths; build up, affirm, and encourage. Criticism always leads to more stress.
- Live within your means: Money problems are the leading cause of stress in American marriages. Take preventative measures to work this one out. Remember #4, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Most of the stuff we get into debt over is simply not worth the stress.
Fact is, children look to their parents for encouragement, and finding affirmation at home is foundational to positive emotional development. Parents need to be in the business of building our children up. But we also need to be honest, and it’s important to use compliments that really mean something. Kids can sense disingenuousness and empty praise. Making stuff up is harmful; false praise is dishonest and the practice breaks trust.
Here are 10 compliments all kids need to hear:
- Recognize and compliment character:
We live in a world where integrity is neither consistently taught nor widely expected. When our children demonstrate honesty, kindness, trustworthiness and reliability, that’s a great time to take them aside and offer a sincere compliment.
- Compliment obedience and respect:
It’s too easy to fall into patterns of disapproval, where the only time we notice is when kids do wrong. Rather than waiting for disobedience or disrespect (then coming down like a ton of bricks) try noticing obedience and respect: “I don’t always remember to tell you, but you are an awesome young man, and I appreciate the way you treat your mother”.
- Appreciate them for simply being part of the family:
“Every time I see you, I’m thankful that I’m a dad.” Kids need to understand that they are valued simply because they are.
- Compliment contributions to the family:
“Clearing the table (sweeping the porch… putting out the trash) makes a real difference. I appreciate your contribution.” Kids need to understand that what they do makes a difference, that the adults notice, and that pitching in is a good part of family life.
- Compliment the quality of a child’s work:
“This is one clean porch, mister!” “You mowed the lawn right up to the edge. Way to go! I’m so glad you take this job so seriously, it shows.” Doing a job at a high standard is always worth noting.
- We can compliment the effort, even when the result is not the best:
“Your willingness to help makes me happy! Now we need to take a look at how you can get the trash to the curb without leaving a trail!” Compliments can be an important part of our role as teachers.
- It’s important that we compliment children when they achieve something new:
“Wow! That’s a huge leap forward for you there in math, pal.” “Awesome! I’m not at all surprised after you worked so hard.” A well-placed compliment can keep a positive ball rolling.
- We can compliment sense of style even if we don’t exactly share their taste:
We don’t want to hedge kids into being clones of dad, or mom. “When it comes to putting together an outfit, you certainly have some flair!” “I can tell that you put a lot of thought into the way you look.” “I’ve never seen a table set quite like that before – you have an amazing imagination!” It’s not useful to limit compliments to the narrow range of our own taste.
- Compliment steps toward a long-term goal:
“Son, the improvement you’re showing is commendable. Thanks for trying.” Waiting for perfection before we’re willing to dish out a compliment is inefficient, may dampen enthusiasm, and does little to help the process of growth.
- Try complimenting their friends:
But only do this when you can do it honestly! “Your friends are the greatest!” “That Jimmy is such a positive young man.” “You know, it gives me a lot of confidence to know you use common sense in choosing your friends.”
Yesterday I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make and that was to put down my best friend, Reagan. I got her when she was just a puppy and I could hold her in one hand. She grew to be a 100 pound best friend. Sure, we had our rough moments, like when she destroyed the flower bed that I had spent a week building or the time she ate 3 metal tipped darts, a brillo pad and .45 cents (this episode cost me almost $1000.00) and all the other times until she reached that magic age of 2 years old. She was my camping partner. I can’t begin to tell you how many times we shared a tent together. She was my guard dog, my roommate and my buddy. In the 12 years we were together she was the one who was with me through all the changes in my life. She never left my side, never complained, and was always glad to see me. She even knew when I was sick and she would come and lay by my bed or the couch (whichever I might on). When my Mom had her wreck, she was the one who brought me the most comfort. She was even brought to Jackson and stayed with me throughout the whole ordeal.
In her life time she experienced:
- 3 cities
- 6 houses
- 2 careers
- 7 cars
- 1 boat
- 5 Churches
- 2 engagements
- 1 wedding
- 5 children
- 1 horrible wreck
- September 11
- The death of 2 grandmothers
- The death of a grandfather
All the important things in my life, she was there for. Sometimes it was to enjoy together, experience together or just being there for me when I needed it. Sure, she was just a dog, but she was more than that for me. She was my friend and I will miss her.
- You don’t mind cleaning up your child’s “throw-up”. (I’ve always gotten sick from someone throwing up)
- When they are sick, you want them close to you. ( I used to run from sick people from a fear of catching it.)
- You’re their parent, not their friend, buddy, companion or partner. (They have many friends/buddies but only 2 parents. They need you to be in that role.)
- Discipline is a part of being a parent. (The old saying,”This is going to hurt me more than you.” is so true.)
- Telling them each day how much you love them.
- Hold them in your lap (At least until they are too big)
- Know who their friends are and who their friends parents are. (Aside from you, their friends will have the most influence on their lives.)
- Set boundaries for your children/teenagers. They won’t set them on their own, but you’re teaching them how to do this preparing them for tomorrow.
- Play the X-Box/football/baseball/sports with them and let them win (sometimes but losing on purpose all the time is a bad lesson in itself.) Go hiking, camping, fishing with the boys and shopping, dress up, and nails with your girls.
- Teach them to fail forward, persistence, courage, honor and committment.
- Introduce them and teach them to respect new cultures, people who are different, and other religions.
- Teach them Grace by your actions.
- Teach them the importance of money (checking account, saving, budgets, and investing) AND that money is NOT the most important thing and is NOT what makes them valuable.
- Show them how to be a husband (or what to look for in a husband) by the way you treat and love their Mom.
- Don’t spend all your time at work. Your employer of 20 years will forget you 1 week after you’re gone but your children will miss you for a lifetime.
- Teach them to tithe.
- Strong Fathers Powwow Stresses a Father’s Duty to his Family (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Gifts, not possessions (living4bliss.wordpress.com)
- 3 Tips for Parents (chicanschoice.wordpress.com)
- Are You Giving Your Children The Gift of Obedience? Hebrews 5:8 (dianneguthmuller.com)
Tonight, Noah(3 years old) and I got to talking about Santa Claus and the present he might be bringing. He was sharing with me this long list of what he wanted and asking just exactly how Santa is going to make it down our chimney. I asked him, “Son, what else is Christmas about?” He surprised me by saying it’s Jesus‘ birthday! I can’t help but to say that I (as a preacher dad) was quite proud. He began to tell me where Jesus was born and I told him about a manger and the shepherds visit.
I then asked him, “If it’s Jesus’ birthday, what should we get him for Christmas?” Out of nowhere, he said, “Let’s get him a COW!” Uhhhhh Okay. Then my mind got to working. “Why would Jesus need a cow?” He answered, “I don’t know.” I shared with him one of the ways to give Jesus a present was to help someone who was in need of food, shelter, money, etc… We then began looking at Heifer International. They have a great video made for children about how someone can be helped by animals. See the video by clicking HERE Noah chose to buy a flock of chicks that will grow to be chickens and produce up to 400 eggs/year/chick!! It was a great experience for him and it was a great bonding time.
I believe it’s up to us as parents to teach our children the blessing of giving. It’s a responsibility too many parents have failed at teaching.
Wow, what a week this has been. Saturday, our family traveled to Wetumpka for the Barnes Family Christmas. While we were there, I became very uncomfortable with a pain in my chest. As a frequent sufferer of heartburn, I dismissed it as that. However on the way home, the discomfort grew and was very different from the pain I normally experience with heartburn. We got home, checked my blood pressure and it was out of sight. Jill made the decision then that I was going to the hospital. We went to Brookwood ER and they immediately began running test but after several hours, all came back normal. I decided to go home.
Sunday, I didn’t preach and stayed home, however, the pain stayed with me. Sunday evening I called a friend who is a nurse and she sent me back to Brookwood and before I knew it, I was admitted. Monday morning I had an ateriogram performed and they injected dye into my heart. Well to make a long story short, I’ve got some minor blockage. The doctor described it as a pipe that has rust patches in it.
Nothing further needs to be done medically except I have to take an aspiran/day and control my cholesterol. I also have to have a dramatic life style change in the diet and exercise departments. This is going to be difficult for me, but this is the way the doctor put it…”Right now, you have very little risk in the way of blockage. However, in 15 years it will be causing you MAJOR problems.” In 15 years, I will be 59 years old, but my children will be 17 and 18 years old. That will be a time when they are experiencing a great deal of change in their own life and as a father, I want to be there to help them instead of them worrying about me.
It really comes down to this, what do I love the most:
- My family or eating everything I desire.
- My family or sitting on the couch.
- My family or myself
It’s my choice and I’m choosing my family.
Please hold me accountable. Please ask me how I’m doing. Please remind me of the choice that I’m making because this is going to be very difficult. It’s worth it but like anything worth having in this life, it’s going to take effort.
I would like to thank all the people at Brookwood Hospital who put up with this not so patient patient. Thanks for all the prayers from my church family and all others who prayed. Thanks for my family who helped out with all the children and my wife for staying by my side. I love you all.
- Is it heartburn – or something serious? 9 look-alike conditions (cbsnews.com)
- Health answers: What is heartburn? (boston.com)
I have never met anyone like my wife, Jill. Next to my relationship with Jesus, she is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I love her with all my heart and I want nothing but the best for her. Wanting nothing but the best for her has made me look at myself and ask “How can I be a better husband?” Here are some things I do…
- Tell her you love her and how much she means to you. It’s amazing to me how many wives say their husband never tells them he loves them. Our wives need to hear us say that we love them and not only during those intimate moments. When is the last time you called your wife in the middle of the day with nothing to say except, I love you. Leave her love notes, send her flowers, tell her she is beautiful.
- Pray for you wife and with her. Praying specifically for your wife and thanking God for her puts your wife in a special place in your heart. It’s really hard to stay angry with someone you’re constantly praying for. Also, pray with your wife. The man is the spiritual leader in the home. It’s the man’s responsibility to lead the spiritual formation of the family and it starts with prayer.
- Discover your wife’s love language. Read the book, “The Five Love Languages“! A love language is how one feels the most love. I’m someone who feels love when someone does something for me. When we first married I would mow the lawn and manicure it, then go in the house with my chest poked out and tell her to look at it. I was trying to impress her. She would look at it and say, “Good Job” Or I would wash, wax, and clean out her car only to get a simple thank you. After a marriage retreat, I found out that it was not the way to show Jill I love her. Her love language is touch. Spending time on the couch, holding her hand while watching TV is what she sees as love. You won’t know how to show her your love if you don’t know what she needs.
- Learn More About Her. People are constantly changing and no matter how long you’ve been married there are always new things to learn about her. Do you know what kind of gum she prefers? What’s her favorite color? What are her dreams?
- Constantly look for ways you can be a better husband. This may sound simple, but it is so important. Always be growing as a husband. It’s like being a Christian, seeking perfection in a broken world and trying to be more like Christ every day.
- Date your wife. It’s so easy to fall into a “life” routine of going to work, coming home, changing babies, doing the dishes and going to bed. A husband has to be intentional about asking his wife out on a date. No kids, open the car door for her, bring her flowers, go someplace romantic over night. Get in the habit of this and ideally do it once a week. If this is not possible, at least do it routinely. It will strengthen your marriage.
Everything in life is about change. It’s a fact. If there is life, there is change however, that does not make us like change any better. I have found that anytime there is some sort of change in my life, it’s carries with it nervousness, anxiety, hesitation, a un-sureness about the future and wondering if this is the right move. Even when I know it is the best change possible, I always have those feelings.
- Leaving for college: I moved from Pearl, MS and over 300 miles from home. The furthest I had ever spent the night from home was on a mission trip and that was only for 1 week. I would be moving to another state and it scared me to death. I knew Samford was the college for me and I wanted to go, but wow was this a big change. I’ve lived in Alabama now for 20 years. 1 year longer than I’d lived in Mississippi.
- Going into the ministry: This was a huge LIFE CHANGE for me. It was this time that I truly realized my brokenness. I asked questions like, “How am I going to do this?” “How can I preach a new sermon every week?” It was also at this time I began to realize that I couldn’t and this would probably be the first thing in my life that I was not able to accomplish by my own resources…I had to rely on God.
- Moving to Decatur for my first appointment: Accepting the call to preach meant that I would now be itinerant and where I lived and work would not be my choice but that of the Bishop and the Cabinet. Pastor Move Day of 2002, I moved to Decatur leaving behind my first home that I bought, my friends, my job, my financial security and my church. It was hard and scary and at the same time exciting and the feeling that I was finally doing what I was supposed to do.
- Getting Married: I had never met a person like my wife. Excluding my relationship with Christ, she is the best thing that has ever happen to me. On the morning of the best day of my life, I was scared and my anxiety was at an all time high. I was going from being single with my biggest responsiblity was my black lab Reagan and now I was not only a husband but a father. Life was no longer just about me. Been the second best decision I’ve ever made.
- Having another baby: Jill and I were getting really close to the age where her doctor said it became more dangerous for her to get pregnant. We were under time constraints. Could we afford to have another child? No. We will have 2 in college at the same time (didn’t know it was going to be 3). A lot of prayer and thought but we finally decided to move forward and it has been an awesome privilege to be Graden and Sophie’s dad.
Change is inevitable in life, make the best decisions you can and realized that even before the best changes, there is fear and anxiety.
- The screaming of Dada, Daddy, and ajodinelnse (That’s what G says) from my kids when I walk through the door after a long day of work.
- The way they hold onto you when they are sick.
- The belly laugh when you are tickling them.
- Their favorite place to sleep is on top of you.
- The privilege of teaching them the things they will need to know in life.
- Bath Time
- Nap Time
- Their little dances when a good song comes on.
- Sitting in my lap drinking their bottle.
- Falling asleep on my chest
- Hearing, “I love you”
- Holding my hand as we go on adventures
- Watching them bond together
- Seeing them worried about their sibling when their sick
- The joy on their face when they learn something new.
About 4:00 AM this morning, I was sound asleep in my warm cozy bed. Noah had wiggled his way over to me and we were snuggled together just like one might imagine in a nursery rhyme. It was so sweet until I started to hear this horrible noise coming from him. He was gagging and at first, I thought he was choking on something and so I sat straight up in bed and put him in my lap. I was set to do the Heimlich and had my finger ready to sweep his mouth when he let it go. I caught a handful and we rushed to the bathroom where he continued to throw up in the toilet. Jill asked, do you need some help as to which I replied, “No, I’ve got it.”
When we got cleaned up and back into bed, I said to Jill, “Wow, one more step accomplished in being a Dad. I just caught vomit in my hand and I didn’t throw up!” I said this with a source of pride welling up inside of me. I could have only done that for someone whom I love as much as my own child and I really can’t come up for anyone else.
Then I thought of our Heavenly Father. I thought about all the nasty, vile, hurtful, stuff that we as humanity do and how God keeps on loving us. Never backing away but offering us grace, love and hope. Even going so far as to send His Son to die, taking our punishment so that we might have life. What a great and wonderful gift.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11
I’m a self-professed work-a-holic. I enjoy my work and when I enjoy something, I put everything into it. I would work 12-14 hours/day and 7 days a week if I’m not careful. After all, the work that I do is important. It’s Kingdom work, right? However, I must remember that it’s not all up to me to do.
I believe this is why it’s been said that 90% of the work and financial giving to a church is done by 20% of the people. I know people who work, work, work and before anyone realizes it, they are burned out. We put people who are on fire for God on every committee, every team, baking all the cakes, and working the nursery. Let’s ask ________ to do that. He/she never says no. It doesn’t take long until they are not on fire but burned out.
We all need a break and contrary to what we may think, it’s not going to fall apart without us. If it does, we built it upon ourselves and not God. We must practice following in the footsteps of Jesus who “got away from the crowds to pray.” We need that time and without it we become useless. So, I encourage you to take some time for just you and God. Slow down and take a breath. You’ll be more productive and excited about your ministry.
Here are some pictures from my long weekend with my family:
Every Sunday at The Bridge we received Holy Communion. As pastor, I always stand
off to the side while others serve and greet/pray with people as they come
through the line. One Sunday morning, Erica came through the line holding Noah
and he pinched his piece of bread, dipped it into the cup and then ate it.
All by himself!! I was overcome with emotion and almost busted into tears
right there. It was incredibly moving for me.
After he got through, he came over and wiped the great juice off his hands
onto my shirt. Still a good day.
I’m not sure who cried more, me or him…