Hoping your kids forgive you

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Hollianne and I have been blessed with three beautiful children.  Our three have brought so much joy and laughter into our home- and lives.  They aren’t perfect, but neither are we.  These past 19 years as parents have been a wild, wonderful adventure.

Parenting is hard.  Really hard.  I’ve made enough mistakes to fill a volume of books.

We want guide them without being too overbearing.  We want them to develop without trying to make them something that they “aren’t.” We try to protect them without trying to hover. These are fine lines to walk.

I was talking to a mentor recently.  We were talking about raising kids- and the difficulty in being a dad.  He told me about times when he was younger when he had been tough on his children.  Perhaps they had disappointed or disobeyed him.  We talked about our tendency to “overcorrect” their behavior- over even overreact when we learn of their mistakes.  He had, however, grown from these experiences… and and he talked about the great relationships he enjoyed with his children as young adults.

It’s human nature…as we love our kids and want them to grow and mature into complete, responsible adults.  But we discussed how inappropriate, rash responses can hurt relationships.  The wrong response can build walls between you and your children. They may be afraid of how you’ll respond.  They might be unwilling to share their mistakes in the future.

I’m guilty.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the book of James this month.  Chapter 2 talks about passing judgement.  Two verses pricked my heart this week:

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.  For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgement.”  James 2: 12-13

Mercy triumphs over judgement.

Four powerful words that apply to all aspects of our lives. But for this week- they have special meaning for my relationship with my children.

Children need discipline.  It needs, however, to be appropriate.  I want my kids to come to me when they’ve messed up or need advice.  I don’t want them to be afraid that I’ll pass undue judgement.  I’ve been in their shoes.  I’ve made their mistakes.

They need more mercy and less judgement.

My prayer this week is to seek wisdom and discernment as a parent. I want to be a more effective father.  I want to be a model for consistency.

They deserve it.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Snow Days

Our kids have been out of school for a solid week.

We had ice and snow last Thursday night followed by plunging temperatures.

And before we could recover from the first round, Mother Nature threw a haymaker on Monday. Four more inches of snow overnight….followed by single digit temperatures the rest of the week.

The boys loved it for a couple of days.  Sledding with friends.  Sleeping late. Snowball fights. No homework.  There were also endless requests for hot chocolate.

Life was good.  For a couple of days, at least.  By Monday night, the boys were tired of each other, tired of their friends, tired of the snow and cold temperature.  They were miserable and ready for a return to a routine.  At their very core, these two boys crave discipline and a schedule.

I can relate.

I have snow days in my relationship with Jesus.

There are times when work, family or a life experience can get me distracted from God’s word.  I get busy or preoccupied and focused on what’s happening at the current moment.

It may be an intriguing new project at work or a long week off from work with my family over the holidays.

It’s exciting and new.  And the distraction can get out of my routine of study and reading my Bible.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

After a while, I sense that something is missing.  I realize that the very thing that gives me strength and keeps me motivated has been neglected. I miss Jesus.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

In terms of my walk with Jesus, I need a routine.  I’m more focused when I’m intentional about reading the Bible and studying God’s word.  I’m happier when I keep my dedicated time to pray and intentionally reflect on my blessings, needs and requests for others.

Do you have snow days in your spiritual life?

My prayer this weekend will be to avoid the obstacles that keep me from focusing on a walk with Jesus.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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One extra hour

We experienced a time change earlier this month. Most of us enjoyed the extra hour of sleep that following Sunday morning!

What did you do with that extra hour?

In Acts 8 we read about how God used Philip with an Ethiopian leader who was traveling from Jerusalem to Gaza. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah, and Philip- prompted to intercede by the Holy Spirit- asked if he understood what was written in the scripture. The Ethiopian leader asked for help, and Philip engaged him in study.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts‬ ‭8:35-36, 38‬ ‭

It was a gentle nudge by the Holy Spirit that led Philip to engage someone…and the results brought another soul to Jesus.

It was unplanned and it didn’t take long.

I’m easily distracted during the holidays. There’s always something that’s keeping me from focusing on what’s truly important.

My prayer this week is to slow down and listen…listen to what the Spirit is whispering.

It may only take an hour.

Please let me know how I may pray for you. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Leaving the nest 

Carson moved off to college this week.  She’s beginning her freshman year and living on the university campus.

While we’ve been preparing for this moment all summer…maybe all year…it finally hit home when we moved Carson into the residence hall and drove away without her.

For Carson- it’s a time of excitement, but there’s also a fear of the unknown.  There are so many new experiences ahead.

It’s the first of many transitions for her.  New relationships.  New challenges. New obstacles.

We all face life changes.  Maybe they aren’t as dramatic and storied as moving away from college, but they are just as important- and daunting.

We encounter new roles at work.  Perhaps even a new job.

Children move away.  Parents move in.

Marriage.  Or divorce.

A move.  An illness.

But there is one constant.

Jesus.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

What an incredible comfort!  Read that passage from Joshua again.  Please.

Be strong.  Courageous. Don’t fear. Don’t be dismayed. Lord…is with you.

Life is full of uncertainty and new experiences, but the love of Jesus never changes.  His focus and love of us is ever-present.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

My prayer this week will be for Carson and her new journey to college.  I will also say a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus…and His unending love for Carson, you and me.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

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Naked on the Highway

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Our family took a seven day trip to northern California this past week.  We saw great sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, three National Parks and incredible architecture in downtown San Francisco.

But what our kids will remember most wasn’t on the itinerary.

We saw a naked man standing on the side of the road on US Highway 1.

Completely naked. In broad daylight. In plain view.

Traffic was at a standstill, as all the automobiles traveling along our path were slowing down to watch the police try to “contain” this man.

Needless to say- this incident sparked much conversation in our car.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Why’s he doing that?”

“Is he in trouble?”

While we don’t know the events that led up to that particular moment in time, we do know that the man was under much stress.  Great despair.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Psalm 34: 17-20

While you or I may never find ourselves naked on the side of the freeway, there are times when we feel vulnerable and unprotected.  Perhaps there is uncertainty in your marriage or in our family lives.  Maybe work has created an unsettling environment for us.  Whatever the cause, life can hit us with punches that we don’t expect and leave us reeling.

But when all else fails- remember that we have Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7

My prayer for this week is to let go of the stress and anxiety that life brings my way.  I need to focus on the calming, healing power of Jesus…and ask for his help immediately when faced with uncertainty.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

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Homeless in Nashville

I was early for a meeting in downtown Nashville last week, so I decided to take a stroll down a side street just south of our state’s Capitol.

It was a chilly day- and the brisk wind made it even colder.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man approach me.  “Pardon me,” he said in a meek voice.  I turned to face him.

“My friend has a bad cold,” he said. Would you mind buying him a cup of coffee to warm up his throat?”  I looked behind him to see another man propped up at the base of a building- layered in tattered, dirty blankets. 

I told him I would- and hurried across the street to a coffeehouse to buy a large, hot coffee. 

I returned to the two men and gave one of them the coffee.  He didn’t speak or make eye contact, but the other man said “thanks so much.”  He then turned back to his friend and helped him place the cup to his mouth. 

I walked away stunned.  It was a complete display of compassion and concern for another person.  

After leaving my meeting, I wondered about the two men.  It was about an hour before sunset, and I knew it would be getting even colder soon.  I decided to walk back down that street where I’d seen them earlier.

And there they were.  Sitting and talking. Smiling. Content for the moment.

I decided to buy them hot sandwiches, water and coffee.  They were grateful.  I asked them why they didn’t ask for more when I encountered them earlier.  The more verbal of the two answered, “I only ask for what I need at the moment.”

I thought about that all night.  What if I did that? What if I could truly separate my requests from God into needs versus wants?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19

I often craft my prayers as a wish-list.  I “want” comfort, peace, love and wisdom.  I want it all. 

Give us this day our daily bread… Matthew 6:11

But what do I really need?  I need help and comfort for today.  God will provide if I am faithful and believe.  He will take care of me.

My prayer today is to be satisfied with what I have- and to truly focus on my immediate needs and the concerns of those I love. 

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless. 

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Letters from home

img_1507We celebrated Valentine’s Day this past week.  My family did the normal things…preparing treats and cards for my son’s elementary school party, exchanging cards and- the best part- Hollianne’s baking.

My biggest surprise, however, came in the mail.

I arrived home after a long day at work and discovered a letter from my mom in the mailbox.  A hand-written letter that read:

“KS-  You have had my heart for 46+ years.  I think about you everyday and pray for you.  I appreciate your friendship and am so very thankful and blessed that you are my son.  God has been/is so good to us.  I love you- Mom”

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Mom has told me that she loved me almost every day of my life.

But there’s something special about the written word that made this communication extra special.

I’ve got a family of writers.  I’ve got notes from mom tucked away from numerous periods of my life.

My dad is a letter-writer too.  He’s sent me letters for high school and college graduations, before my wedding day and to celebrate milestones in my marriage and career.  I cherish all of these.

We are called to encourage.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11

Jesus was the ultimate encourager.  He lifted those who were hurting.  He provided hope for the lost.

And He still does today.

You never know when an encouraging word- or note- can lift the burden of another.  Just like my momma did on Valentine’s Day.

My prayer this weekend will focus on being more of an encourager.  Please pray for me to be more aware of how I can lift the burden of another.

And let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless.

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