Monday, June 16, 2014

My Advice For Fathers

When my kids were growing up I would try to be a good father and give them good advice.  You know how that goes.  Some of it probably stuck and some was not heeded…but I still have hope as they grow older that they might remember some of it and think on it, and perhaps find it valuable after all.  Most of it can be summed up in a few words, and in fact I’ve stated it to my kids bluntly many times this way as well so they might remember it.  Here is one example:

                     “Show up, give your very best, have faith, and keep your pants zipped.”  

I gave that as very simple advice for success at a job, but it applies equally well in a lot of other situations I think.  Pretty basic stuff.  I’ve seen so many people get ahead simply because they were there all the time when they were needed, and doing your very best can’t help but be noticed after a while.  Having faith in yourself and in a God that loves you is essential to your mental and emotional well-being in all situations.  And finally, I can’t tell you how many lives I’ve seen screwed up (pardon the choice of words) by illicit sexual encounters whether at work or in social life.  There’s just no place for that on the job, and you play with fire when you let it get control of you in your personal life as well.  It has a power all its own!

So, I offer this as my thought to you as this Father’s Day weekend comes to a close.  Give your advice to your kids.  You never know what they will remember, and you can make a huge difference in their lives.  After all, none of us are perfect and it may take a while to get some things right in our heads and follow through.  

Remember, even God’s children didn’t always listen, but he told them anyway.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Who Needs A Father Anyway!!

We all do!  Statistically, kids who grow up without fathers are nearly three times more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol, wind up in jail, never finish high school, and go from job to job.  One of the biggest problems our society faces is the disintegration of marriage and the lack of fathers in the home.  

But simply being there often isn’t enough.  I didn’t have a good role model for a father.  He was the merely the family financier, and beyond that he was totally absent.  Your family needs to come first in life.  Make time for them, involve your kids in your life and be involved in theirs.  Play together, eat together!  Remember to consider the other incredibly important part of the family, too…your wife.  Make special time for her (she doesn’t need competition, she needs you!)  Learn to listen and be truly present in family relationships and to care with all the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual support you can muster.

Divorce is not an option.  Never surrender and never quit on your family.  Get help when you need it.  

This Father’s Day is designed to honor you in your role with your wife and children, but I think even more it should be looked at as a reminder of what you need to do as a father to be able to honor that mantle of responsibility given to you.

Happy Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hope And Change Revisted

Like probably most everyone in America, I watched the chaos of the shooting at the school in Troutdale, Oregon.  Having lived in those parts made it more real to me, but when we showed up at weekly firehouse training it got really real.  We spent the night doing an Active Shooter scenario with the sheriff’s department at a local school.  We went in and dragged out wounded victims as the armed deputies protected us and sought out the shooter.  What is wrong with our country?  We didn’t have all this nonsense going on when I was a kid, and we all had guns, even us kids!  There was none of the disarm America stuff being pushed then and things were pretty calm.  No one suggested we needed to get rid of the “right to bear arms” guaranteed by the Constitution either.  We didn’t have kids taking over schools and shooting everyone. 

But it’s not just shooters at movie theaters and schools.  We also didn’t have hospitals like Boston Children’s hospital being aided by the Governor and the courts in kidnapping a 15 year-old girl from her family when different doctors disagreed on the origins and causes of her maladies (one blaming the parents for abuse, even though none was ever found.)  Sixteen months in captivity with her begging to go home to her parents, and the girl is still held by the government.  We didn't have doctors performing live birth and "partial" birth abortions either.

OUR government!  OUR professionals!  OUR neighbors!  What on earth is going on?  What has changed over the years to make our society so dysfunctional?

I have a theory, and it’s not a pretty one.  Besides the proliferation of drug use and lack of professional intervention for many of those who are mentally and emotionally disturbed, we have systematically withdrawn from our moral and ethical roots based in the Judeo Christian values and beliefs the country was founded upon.  We have turned over governance to those the corporations fund and control and the media fawns over.  We have granted to the government huge powers they were never intended to have.  We have allowed media and freedom of speech to enable widespread programming of our minds with values that don’t allow a healthy society.  We have learned to worship things rather than use them if we NEED them.  We raise our latch key children with video games filled with violence while both parents have to work to earn enough money to live the good life…or even to just survive.  (That is if there even is both parents present!)

President Obama campaigned for “hope and change.”  It was a clever slogan, but we are no better off.  Yet, America really is at a point where hope is hard to find and change is badly needed.  We continue to widen the gap between the “haves and the have nots.”  The poverty level here is higher than ever, and yet the wealthy are doing extremely well with a stock market that continues to climb to unheard of heights despite 10% unemployment (including those who have given up even looking for a job) and an economy that actually showed an unheard of negative GDP this month!  Like the wicked witch of the west said “I’m shrinking!” The upcoming generation has a bleak outlook.  The unemployment rate is over 50% in the growing number of high school drop outs.  College graduates are working at Starbucks and McDonalds just to get by.

Amid all this, we increasingly measure the health of our society by the things we own rather than the values we live by.  And I don't even want to start on this nonsense of trading five terrorist leaders from Guantanimo Bay for one army deserter.  I guess it’s true, the golden age of America was the 1950s and early 60s...unless we turn around and regain the values we once lived by.

The Wisdom Of The Tomato Plant

It is amazing to me how some people who have everything going for them and live in a supportive family environment with all the resources imaginable at their disposal can fail so miserably at life.  Conversely, it also amazes me that people who have nothing but adversity can succeed so well in life.  For some reason, this was brought home to me quite forcefully when I planted tomatoes this past year. 

As the growing season ended and my plants could no longer make it in Colorado’s cold winter, the plants died.  The last tomatoes were picked and I brought the planters inside out of the snow and ignored the plants as they sat inside my sun porch in the now 20 degree cold.  Many months later I chanced to look at the plants and noticed that there were 2 tomatoes fully formed and ripened on the plant.  The plant had been completely dead and brown and rock hard when I had last looked at it, and yet these tomatoes had managed to grow and sit patiently waiting to be picked for months!  In addition, two more tomatoes grew and matured a month later.  Not only had they thrived in their adversity, but they had been preserved throughout a long period waiting for me to notice that were long overdue for picking.  They never should have grown in the first place, and they should have rotted off the dead vine long before, as well.

The essence of this experience spoke to me in this way:  God is there for us through our adversity and we can bloom.  We can succeed and we can prosper.  Not only can we bloom, but if we are patient, we can continue to survive until we are chosen and rewarded by the master gardener.  And above all, no life is too tough that God won’t be with us and sustain us through it all.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quotes For Wisdom In A World With Little

"Before mobile technology, we had to remember important facts, which required that we understand them.  Now we can access them any time we wish, so that we no longer need to remember them and thus do not understand them.  As a result, we have more information than ever, but less wisdom."

                                                                  Henry Kissinger

"The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor"

                                                                  Proverbs 15:33

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Easy Does It, One Day At A Time...

We all come to relationships with expectations.  The more intimate the relationship, the more the expectations.  Because of the life experiences we bring to the relationship, we may even have extra difficulties in managing relationships.  Parents especially can have a seriously detrimental effect on their children through alcoholism, abuse and the like.  If you eventually take that big step to a marriage relationship, you are filled with expectations, but are they realistic?

In the bliss of the typical romantic relationship we often see the artificial presentation of who our anticipated partner is.  I’m convinced most people can maintain this fiction for a year and some even longer.  We put our best foot forward.  We anticipate what we think the other person is looking for and we attempt in every way to fulfill that fantasy.  Sometimes it is easy because it truly represents who we are.  Other times…not so much.  And beyond that, the truth is you can’t know what a day after day intimate relationship is like until you are constantly in it for the long haul.

Let’s face it, nobody is perfect.  In a relationship you try to maintain a career, be a sex god or goddess and partner, keep the house repaired or cleaned, cook, mow the lawn, have no problems, and be the supportive, appreciative and sensitive partner that can sit and listen sympathetically and objectively at will.  None of this is reasonable or attainable all the time.  For some it’s a struggle even some of the time.  The biggest problem is believing that the image of perfection is a normal relationship.

Relationship is a long term project that requires thinking of it as an ongoing process.  What is normal is what you work out as a couple by discussing and processing together the behaviors that seem to cause a problem with the relationship.  This may even change over the years in some cases.  Developing those workable and comfortable norms amid the stresses of life is what communication is for, and it’s an ongoing process.  It may be a pretty slow process that develops over time in most cases and patience is a virtue.
So, remember, keep the lines of communication open and take it a day at a time.