Archives For children

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 hope you get the idea from reading this blog that I love movies.  I am developing multiple lists of movies to share with my children someday.  When I was a kid I remember being exposed to several powerful movies for the first time.  I was inspired by some of them and some of them haunt me until this day.  My mother and I joke now but when I was eight years old I first watched Platoon (1986).  Although a fantastic Oscar worthy film, most would agree it’s hardly one to introduce to an eight year old.  To this day mom keeps apologizing about that, which makes me laugh and I then remind her that I turned out just fine.  As that semi-innocent eight year old, I dreamed of being a soldier. I think she felt that me watching Platoon would provide some perspective about what the military could look like. Yep, after a couple of hours of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam, that was enough for me to abandon that ambition. (Thanks mom?)

Like anything in culture, each person has their own filter in what they are able to absorb.  We can be molded by the world so I have become quite self-conscious on how my worldview is formed.  It is a reminder that the world can be scary. I’m a parent now and my wife and I are trying to figure out what our kids should absorb when it comes to education and entertainment.  Recently my kids (2 and 3) and I were watching Aladdin and it is one of the darkest kids movies I’ve seen. In fact, most Disney movies are like that I’ve noticed. I recently read about The Top 26 Most Disturbing Kids Movies by Babble.com.  Is your young child watching one of these?  My wife has usually been the wise one to ask the question,

“Should the kids be watching this?”

In your mind you think that it is a great movie about heroes, villains, and a family uniting to save the world.  What is wrong with that? Wait…but they hit and the even (gulp), kill the villain.

The tension is strong because we don’t just want to expose our kids to just fairy tales.  We want them to be inspired but also see what real life looks like.  One of my favorite Christian thinkers and commentators of culture is Phil Cooke.  In his recent blog, The Change Revolution he noted,

After all, if we filmed the Bible, much of it would be R-rated, and occasionally worse. The Bible doesn’t gloss over real life and God apparently wasn’t afraid to tell real, authentic stories. I think the culture would respect our message much more if we stopped producing just cheesy, G-rated films and started telling gritty stories about real life.

Should we sugar coat life?

My check as a parent now is questioning “what, when, and why” I should introduce when it comes to entertainment, learning, etc.  Most parents would agree that the book To Kill a Mockingbird has a life-changing message that every child should read.  But I’m challenged to rethink when the girls are ready for such an important message.  Most importantly, I am are challenged to pray for the wisdom to figure this out on a daily basis. Romans 12:2 cautions us to never forget that we must go ultimately to God for this discernment.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

What was the most disturbing movie you first watched as a kid? 

If you are a parent, how do you filter what you share with your kids? 

I recently went to a local playground with my young girls.  I walked around casually following them as they explored the array of colorful pipes and swings.  When I saw my oldest daughter struggling and I offered to help, she shouted “I can do it all by myself.”  Meanwhile, she kept calling on me to help so I was oddly confused.  I’m definitely not God but I wonder often if this is how he feels when we do the same thing. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about how we as humans view the adventure and struggle of life.

I recently re-watched two amazing survival movies, 127 Hours (2010) and Into the Wild (2007).  I’ve always been curious by books and movies like these along with Call of the Wild, Alive, and Unbroken.  Perhaps my quest of manhood is revealed through their stories.  What amazed me most about these stories is that they are based on real events while not entirely dreamed up by Hollywood.

127 Hours features Aron Ralston a 20-something adventurist out west.  He became widely known in May 2003 when, while canyoneering in Utah, he was forced by an accident to amputate his right arm with a dull knife in order to free himself from a boulder.  James Franco did a terrific job playing Aron and the movie was anchored by director Danny Boyle with dream-like cinematography.  It is a difficult movie to watch due to the amputation scene but like many I’ve spoken to about it, it still captivates you.

Into the Wild features Chris McCandless played by Emile Hirsch, a recent college grad who packs up his car, leaves his family and heads west to the Alaskan wilderness with little food and equipment, hoping to live in solitude.  In only a few months he died of starvation.  While a disturbing movie, it is beautifully helmed by Sean Penn and the soundtrack by Eddie Vedder is inspiring.  I catch myself on weekends driving around town and opening up the windows to listen to Big Hard Sun.

The question after watching these two films is “Why” go on these adventures alone? 

Like these two characters, I love being out on my own whether it be hiking, traveling, or playing golf.  I haven’t been able to do that in a long time but I know the power it can have in restoring my soul, spending time with God, enjoying time to reflect.  I am reminded by a powerful line from John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, which stirs me.

“Men need to go on a safari of the heart to recover a life of freedom, passion, and adventure.”

It is good to go on that journey.

Here is the problem: Man is misguided by the world.  

The world says that he should be an island.  The world says…Go it alone.  Rely on yourself.  Don’t admit weakness.

In 127 Hours, Aron becomes stuck and recognizes that he must go to extreme measures to return to the people he loves.  He fights to get back to them.  In Into the Wild, Chris feels like regular society has left him so he must leave it.  People should not be part of this equation, only nature.  In the end of the story as he literally is lying on his deathbed, Chris reflects on the people he loved and who loved him. That is what mattered most in the end.

There is a reason that men ultimately love movies like The Fellowship of the Ring and Band of Brothers because the adventure is about being together.  It is the similar with women and movies they love focusing on deep and enduring friendships.

It is important to go on that “safari of the heart”.  

But that safari is meaningless without sharing the spirit of it with people and God that inspires it. 

Ditching the Pacifier

April 11, 2011 — 12 Comments

The past few weeks my lovely wife Brooke and I have been talking about a strategy to get rid of “The Pacifier”.

Duh duh duh…

Yes, any parent out there knows exactly what I’m talking about.  The pacifier is just about the best and worst invention created for a young child.  We have a 19 month and recently turned 3 year old.  We knew that if we tried to get rid of these things both would need to do it at the same time.

No turning back.

Truth is we have been trying to do this ever since our oldest was 17 months old and our youngest was born.  It just didn’t stick. They love their pacifier.  It soothes them.  I get it. I like a nice cup of java every morning because it does something similar to me. Our girls call the pacifier a “Bobby” anyway.  We keep asking “Who is this Bobby?!?!”  Can we punch this kid because we hate this thing you so eloquently call ‘Bobby’?” Our oldest girl just picked up the name “Bobby” from a friend of hers.  It has stuck.  (In the future I sure hope she doesn’t date some guy named Bobby because I’ll immediately dislike him.)   Nevertheless, I read here about 150 other variations of names that kids call them.  I hate them all and you should too.

As suggested by some friends (I think), we bagged up all of the pacifiers in our house and took them to a toy store.  We promised the girls they could exchange their pacifiers for a baby doll of their choice. We tipped off the person at the cash register that we’d do this and when we made the “exchange of goods” the girls had no problem whatsoever.  But we knew once nap time would come all hell would break loose.  Oh and it did.  The house became like “Nam” as portrayed in the movie Apocalypse Now.  It’s been pure psychological warfare since with lots of crying.  The kids scream out for their beloved “Bobby” and we fight the urge to give in.  When faced with stressful situations like this I get a little bit like Clark Griswold and well…lose it.  If it weren’t for Brooke’s patience with me (her other man-child husband), I don’t know how else we would get through.  Brooke and I have been committed to this so despite the kids’ screaming fits we’ll get through it.  Last but not least, we prayed for strength and lots of it.  God has delivered.

It has been almost 3 days since “Ditching the Bobby” and all is quiet on the Western Front.  We suspect that most of this week they will still ask for it.  It’s a lesson in life I suppose.

I pray that our oldest girl doesn’t lose her naps because of these but this is all part of the growing up experince. She’ll get through it as will we.

My advice to other parents out there.  You’ll make it through. We all will.