Thursday, June 27, 2013

My kids need me engaged for the whole process, not just the start.

Our boys got home from camp yesterday.  It was so great to see them and have them home.  One thing I forgot about . . . I told Colin we would go to Target and let him buy a K-nex roller coaster for him
to build as soon as he returned from camp.  It was the first thing he asked when he got home.

So, after dinner last night, we went to Target and he got his roller coaster.  It was the last one in the store and he had just enough money for it, with a dime to spare.  As soon as we got home, he tore the box open and started building.  Colin was happy and I had done my dad duty well.  I thought it was over.  Nope.

About an hour later, with the coaster half-built, Colin broke down in tears because critical pieces were missing from the set - so he thought.  At this point, I must be honest, I didn't want to hear anymore about this roller coaster.  And, I was pretty sure he had just lost the pieces on the floor.  So, at first, I just said stuff like, "Keep looking.  You'll find it."  Then I changed my tune to, "We can call K-nex and ask them to send the missing parts (which I dreaded too).  Then I changed to, "Colin, if you didn't rip the box open so violently and destroy it, we could have just exchanged it at Target."

Of course, none of my adult's perception of a kid's problem helped him at all..  A half-hour into it he was still crying and just getting more upset.  Finally, I realized I just needed to engage and do what I didn't want to do.  I stopped watching TV and went to the table where Colin was working.  I showed him the parts list in the instruction manual.  I explained to him that you should always inventory the parts before you start a project like that.  And over the next hour, we deconstructed his half-built roller coaster, counted the pieces (most no bigger than a dime) and marked them off, one-by-one, from the inventory list. At the end of that hour, we found (together) that he had every piece he needed and now he's ready to confidently start his project again.

So, what's the moral of the story? I'm a great dad?  No, I'm a jerk.  It took me a half-hour of my boy crying to finally stop watching Master Chef and help him.  Knex sets are from satan?  This may be true, but is beside the point for now.

The moral of the story?  More accurately, the lesson I think God reminded me of this morning is this.  As a dad, my job is never done.  There is always another level I can go to with my boys to teach, love and build them up.  My kids need me engaged for the whole process.  So do yours.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A hole in the family . . .

It's Tuesday morning and our three oldest boys have been at camp since Sunday afternoon.  They get back tomorrow afternoon.  I know it's not a long time and I'm not missing them to the point of being sick about it.  I just miss them.

But beyond just missing their cool little personalities, it's strange how there is a huge hole in our family this week.  Although we're enjoying it - it's so much quieter, so much less cluttered and so easy to say yes to one kid instead of four - it feels so odd to have such low energy and low noise in our house.

It just reminds me how very blessed we are to have each and every part of the family God has blessed us with.  I love how God teaches new lessons and reminds me of old ones through everyday circumstances - both good and bad.  I'm a blessed man . . . and I am just a little more aware of how much this morning.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

To My Dad on Father's Day

A Father is a man who teaches his son how to be a man . . . in spite of his own flaws and challenges.  My dad continues to teach me.  I posted what's below 8 years ago on Father's Day.  Since then, I've seen my dad face more adversity than he ever saw coming.  True to form, he's pushed into it and become a better man in the midst of it all.   Dad, I am more convinced of your character and I love you more today than I did eight years ago.  Happy Father's Day!

Repost: From June 21, 2009

Dear Dad,

I know that sometimes you struggle to see yourself the way God sees you. I know that sometimes you struggle to even see yourself in a good light. I know you've had a life that was tough and it's been frustrating to you at times, maybe most of the time.

I can't say how God sees you because I'm not God, but I can tell you how I see you.

I see you as a man who loves Jesus. When I was eight, I was pretty sure that you and mom were getting divorced. I recall like it was yesterday when you left for that marriage retreat. I recall even more clearly when you returned cleanly shaven, humble demeanor, and kind words for us all. You stopped drinking and using drugs and probably other stuff my eight-year-old brain was unaware of. In short, you made a change that has inspired me to know that Jesus is real for all these years since. 

I see you as a man who loves his son. I still recall a certain moment when I was twelve years old and had committed a particularly heinous crime (relatively speaking). I was in my room crying after my punishment had been dealt out. I was embarrassed and scared and just hated myself for those few moments. Dad, you came in to check on me at dusk. I was too embarrassed to face you, so I pretended to be asleep. You leaned over, kissed my face and whispered that you love me. I've never forgotten that event that took place twenty-four years ago and I've never doubted your love for me.

I see you as a man who loves his wife. When I was twenty-two you were tempted to leave your wife, as I think most men are. The difference between you and many others is that you faced that temptation, resisted it and not only stayed in your marriage but made it better.

So, as a man of thirty-six with four sons of my own, I see you as quite a man. You've shown me love for Jesus. You've shown me love for a son. You've shown me love for a wife. In the course of a generation, you turned our family from darkness to light. You are a man I love and respect with all my heart. Happy Father's Day John William Fitch.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Church leaders - especially church planters - we have to see past this

Seth Godin is one of my favorite writers.  He just gets the simplicity of cause and effect that our entire existence is built on.  This morning he wrote about what I would call the "dream epidemic" we're suffering from.  In short, we glorify the long-shot, jackpot winner and all wait around hoping it will happen to us.
But some of us do more than hope.  We pray.  Sounds good, right?  But come on.  If you're a church leader - especially a church planter - you have to see past this.  Of course you should be praying that God does the impossible in your church.  But those prayers are not THE PLAN.  The plan is hard, strategic, wise work.  
As Seth wrote here, "Getting picked is fine if it happens to you. But it's not a plan. It's a version of waiting and hoping."
If you're a church planter, Matt Keller is a voice of reason and wisdom in a really noisy, fluffy world.  Check him and his writing out.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Challenge of Being Blessed

My wife and I have been reveling, lately, in the fact that we're into a season of life that is carrying significant blessings with it.  It finally feels like things are calming down a bit and we can focus on something beside mere survival.  That's a great feeling.

But there is a challenge to a season of blessing and calm too.  It is, of course, that the crisis that drove me to reliance on God is not there any longer.  It's amazing, insidious and scary how the very thing you beg God for - direction, stability, blessing, whatever - can become your (g)od shortly after (G)od blesses you with it.

I know you know this.  You knowing it is not the point.  We all know lots of things we ignore.  We all know that poor eating and exercise habits lead to obesity and poor health, but . . . you get the picture.  This is not as simple as knowledge.  The step beyond knowledge is awareness.  The step beyond that is action.

This morning, God is giving me awareness that He is God and I ought to pursue Him accordingly.  That is more of a blessing than all other blessings combined.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Character. The temporary work-around for incompetence.

Have you ever felt like you’re in over your head?  I must admit, that’s how I’m feeling this morning.  There have been very few times in my life where I’ve recognized that I’m just not competent in a given area.  I’m facing a task at work right now that is in an area that I’ve just never worked before.  It stings to admit it, but I’m somewhat incompetent in that area.

This morning, I’m looking at it in light of two choices.  Choice 1: Shrug my shoulders and say, “I’m no good at this.”  Choice 2: Lean into it, learn all I can, keep pushing until I achieve an acceptable level of breakthrough. 

As I choose number 2, understand this.  Leaning into this and doing the very best I can is my job, as a member of the team I work on and as a follower of Jesus.  The question is not whether the work I’m doing on this particular project is in my sweet spot.  That conclusion is already drawn.  The question is what will I do, despite working on a project that falls outside of my sweet spot.  The question I’m answering right now is not one of talent, gifts or ability; it’s one of character. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

How to beat a case of the "Mondays"

Struggling to feel motivated today.  I guess this is what people call "a case of the Mondays".  I don't know that it has anything to do with Monday.  Just feel sluggish.  I would rather sit on this couch than get out and exercise and pray.

So, I'll finish this up now.  I'm going out to exercise and pray.  I'm going to throw off this sluggish feeling.  Because that's what winners do!  What's up now, sluggish Monday?  Ha!