Archives For August 2012

Dad, That’s a Bad Habit

August 24, 2012 — 2 Comments

“Dad, that’s a bad habit” my daughter said to me as she caught me biting my nails when I was driving her to school. My daughter has become a version of Statler and Waldorf, the Muppet hecklers. She loves to walk around and tell people that they shouldn’t be smoking, biting their nails, or running inside. It is funny right up until she shouts it out in a crowd and the staring and laughter begins at my expense. I am always tempted to remind her of her own indiscretions but what more could a dad say when he’s reminded of his issues by a 4-year-old?

So I listen.

My kids are are a reminder that we need grace. Grace is the foundation of how we live a life of faith in Jesus. We don’t deserve it but we need it. Kids need it. Good Lord, parents need it. My friend Phil Davis reminded me that as parents we are constantly in a teaching and disciplining mode. Yes, sometimes we screw up in the way we parent and we pray that our kids even forgive us. That starts by asking our own Father for forgiveness as we learn to control our own tempers. Embracing patience is one of my toughest challenges as a parent and my kids love testing it. I now smile each time my kids remind me that I’m biting my nails. I even caught myself biting my nails as I write this. Sheesh.

I’d like to say that I truly understood grace when I became a Christian. I remember being on a spiritual high the week after I got back from Young Life camp in the summer of 1994. I had accepted Christ into my heart at camp and came home thinking I could fly. That flight was short-lived the first week back as I remember having a fight with my parents and writing in my journal about how bad I felt hurting them. It was as if the week before had encountered a train wreck of emotion through hurt, pain, and ultimately guilt. I don’t even remember what the fight was about but I do remember what happened next. God showed his grace through my own parents that week and I think helped make more sense of what happened at camp the week before. Grace was at work.

I’m reading Max Lucado’s upcoming book Grace (Thomas Nelson, 2012), which is helping to more fully understand this wild grace.

God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildeness about it. A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside downness about it. Grace comes after you. It rewires you. From insecure to God secure. From regret riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid to die to ready to fly.

Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.


Paul reminds us where this grace comes from in Ephesians 2:8 NIV,

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

This post isn’t meant to be a confession but an acknowledgement that grace is real and available for those who don’t deserve it. We aren’t meant to fully understand this grace especially when it is given to murderers and molesters. I am usually so stubborn and I don’t ask for grace but God knows what I truly need. He doesn’t even wait and a long time ago he gave us his son Jesus as that grace. He freely gives it to you and me. Take this gift and run with it and tell the story.

PS One of my favorite movies/musicals that showcases grace better than any other is Les Miserables (1998). There is even a new version coming out later this year starring Hugh Jackman. I cannot wait

I was at the supermarket the other after a long day of work and had a long list of weekly groceries. One of our meals consisted of required securing of good ole American hot dogs and buns to match. I am surprised to find that not much has changed in the quantity matching of hot dogs and buns since George Banks’ rant in the classic movie Father of the Bride (1991). Any father goes through a moment or two like this. If you have never seen this scene, you will relate when things get tough trying to take care of everyone. We’ve all earned the right from time to time to lose it like George.

George Banks sums it up in the movie,

You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in a way you could never have imagined. I remember how her little hand used to fit inside mine. Then comes the day when she wants to get her ears pierced, and wants you to drop her off a block before the movie theater. From that moment on, you are in a constant panic. You worry about her meeting the wrong kind of guy, the kind of guy who only wants one thing, and you know exactly what that one thing is, because it’s the same thing you wanted when you were their age. Then, you stop worrying about her meeting the wrong guy, and you worry about her meeting the right guy. That’s the greatest fear of all, because, then you lose her.

I have 2 and 4-year-old daughters. I sure hope I’m not that point of giving them away like George Banks. I feel his similar sentiment and of course it matters to me who they could potentially marry one day. That is years away of course and even if they choose to never get married I must prepare for that. There is a different loss I need to prepare for, which is independence from both mom and dad. This week I felt a bit of what George described when I dropped my oldest daughter Madelyn off at her new school for Junior Kindergarten. Yes, it is only a three-day school this year but it represented a step toward becoming more of an individual that gradually won’t need me like she does now.

Unless they are in denial, any mother or father understands that their job to raise children is the hardest occupation they will have in life. Forget the spreadsheets, TPS reports, or whatever you do in life for a day job.

In the past 5 years I’ve discovered that my greatest challenge is sharing who Jesus Christ is to my kids amidst all of life’s busyness. I didn’t know who Jesus really was until I was 15 but it has been my prayer since both my girls were born for them to understand and trust in Christ in their circumstances. Their mother nor I will be there for every difficult moment and I can guarantee life will be have plenty of them. I want them to recognize that they are more than a bride here on earth but one being prepared for their savior, Jesus.

Part of God’s work is allowing me to let go and trust him in this process and allow him to be the real “father of the bride”. The issue is in my heart and how I need to let go over time. Our kids are God’s kids and the more I recognize that, the more freedom I have to be a good father and allow God to work.

God help us all, right?

 

If you are parent, what have you learned in “letting go” of your kids?

 

 

This week I listened to August and Everything After this week. It takes me back to 1993 when the album was released by Counting Crows. I remember that album and putting it on repeat for most of 1993-94. Although I had been to other concerts, I remember vividly my sister taking my friend Rick Ewing and I to see Counting Crows at American Theater in St. Louis. Later that next year, I listened to album on the 12 hour bus ride to Young Life camp in 1994 when I became a Christian. The album never gets old and when I play it, it brings great memories with a smile to my face every time.

In High School, it was hard to escape Dave Matthews Band’s Under the Table and Dreaming. It was a fun album with a unique sound that all of my friends could agree on. There became so many DMB haters in the following albums but the real sound of the band in this album is what defines them. High school was memorable because of an album like Under the Table and Dreaming.

Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? makes me laugh every time. For me, it fits into an era of high school into college in the 90s because my great friend Heath Hildebrandt and I would always have it blasting loud at home, in the car, and in the dorm. We would drive around playing Rock n’ roll Star and laugh to the lyrics of She’s Electric. I still get the lyrics messed up singing Wonderwall but it remains to be one of the greatest songs of the 90s.

David Gray’s White Ladder was special to me during my last month of college because I had it on repeat when studying for a month writing my final papers and finals. It also became a motivator to get me in the mood for my move to Britain in early 2001.

U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind was a powerful album because I was always was a big U2 fan but realized that the late 90s were not very good to the band artistically. They needed an album that embraced their late 80s sound while looking ahead. I like to approach life that way and the album became one that tells a story of passion and joy through Beautiful Day, adversity through Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, and hope through Walk On. Walk On became an anthem to answer what happened on 9/11 for most of the world and I am inspired with each listen.

Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was such a unique album to me and helped me in my early 20s to learn more about great lesser-known artists. I remember the album releasing while I was in my early years of the work life and helped me to always stay connected with good, new art in the music community. It is an album that made me love St. Louis and Chicago more with songs that told their story.

The past couple years it feels a lot like Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More has been a thematic album. The album takes you through great joy and sorrow as the story unfolds. It is a hopeful album to me because it didn’t feel that they were writing just for singles the iTunes era. Instead, they methodically selected songs that walked the listener through their day.

We don’t listen to albums the way we used to. For better or worse, we are marketed singles today and it much too easy to evaluate music based on that alone. Albums have the ability to mirror our personal story and I’m challenged these days when I hear a great song to dig deeper and listen to an entire album. Don’t be surprised if you discover some amazing songs that you never would have heard otherwise. I look forward to each day to discover something new, perhaps ever a soundtrack for this next stage of life.

What album brings you back to a special moment in life?