Looking Into the Past – Pictures of Our History

flip-book-birthday-invites-1Last year my family took a vacation. We managed to put together a plan and fight the world back enough to take a vacation. Crazy right?! I will say this though, we took it after vacation season had ended and the weather turned sour, but at least we can say we took a vacation. For an entire week we watched it rain and enjoyed being stuck inside somewhere besides our house. No pity necessary, we did get some sunshine and did manage to play at the beach a few times. All in all it was a huge success! Quick back step, as a reward for a great year prior I bought my wife a “nice” camera with our tax return money prior to our vacation. With that in mind, one can only imagine how many photos were taken over the course of a week.

Hundreds! No kidding, between my wife and I we took hundreds of photos.

Funny side story, my wife accidently deleted all of them. That’s when Super Husband managed to retrieve the data and save the day.

Today we are blessed with the access to a camera almost instantly no matter where we are or what time of the day it is. Between cameras, tablets, and cell phones almost nothing gets missed. My son’s last school performance was most likely recorded from 60 different angles. With two daughters strapped in to a double stroller my wife and sat in the back of the lunch room where the performance was being held. From where I sat I could see the stage without a problem; that was until the performance started. With the first note of the song a sea of arms went up with devices attached recording every second. It was like watching meerkats emerge from their hiding places in the ground. In front of me I watched as a lady leaned to the left because her phone’s view was blocked by a large tablet. I even found myself watching the whole performance through the screen of a tablet in front of me, I couldn’t see otherwise. I am no perfect person when it comes to my children, if I had the camera I would’ve most likely been at the back of the room, zooming in over the heads of those in front me, getting the perfect shot! And I am even willing to admit I have 300 hundred photos on my phone of my wife, son, and daughters.

Today I looked at those pictures. I was sitting in my car at lunch and had decided to flips though my photos. Picture by picture time was reversed and the days of a year ago played in front of my eyes. I watched as my daughter, only a year old and couldn’t speak barely a word, played at the playground. I watched as my son went from needing help holding a hammer to hit a nail; to needing no assistance at all for the whole assembly at our monthly Home Depot clinics. As I got closer to the pictures I took just the other day I reflected on growth of my children, reflected on the growth of our family, and took an honest look at my heart. Would you like to know what I found?

I am a blessed father and husband. I have three wonderful children that are happy, (most of the time) healthy, and smarter than I ever will be. I have a woman who showers me with her love and support every step I make (even the wrong ones).  Lastly I found that God has given me the last year to stretch, that’s right God asked very little of me last year, but tested my faith even more than the year before.

I encourage everyone when you lay your children down tonight, tell them good night and take mentally picture of your child’s face. Then pick up your cell phone and just flip through the photos.  Take that moment, that feeling, and honor God with praise.kid-sleeping

We all are the luckiest people alive; to be husbands and fathers.

Thank you for the comments, follows, and emails! Please continue to share, like, and comment. I enjoy the support and stories I get sent and look forward to reading them!

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You’re a Dad now, Game over to Gaming?

kids-playing-video-gamesI am the Nintendo generation; I am the kid who started playing games in the arcades and grew with each new console. As I grew older Mario went from a handful of pixels to a well defined 3D character. I shot ducks will a hand gun and tried to shoot that stupid dog as it snickered at me when I missed. My parents weren’t gamers but they somehow they willingly supported my childhood addiction. I wasn’t defined by my games though; I played outside, played baseball, and the things of a normal kid. I can probably contribute that to the fact I had a little brother. It just was never the same when I had to take turns playing a game, which was always a good time to go outside and play. But gaming had an early foot hold in my life and it grew roots.

I can say that somehow I missed a lot of the so called cult classics that really demanded attention like the Final Fantasy and Zelda. Looking back now and understanding what those games meant to other people, I guess really was only a casual gamer. But there is no doubt about it though; I was a gamer as a child, birthday parties of gaming and all.

But now I am an adult, no, now I am a dad, a father, a provider for my wife and children… and yet also a gamer. Today’s gaming is a completely different animal; with games like Skyrim, Minecraft, and Destiny requiring a huge investments of time. Then when you add the online requirements, the only way to succeed and enjoy the success of a game is to invest large quantities of time and energy. For a while there I had started playing online competitively on Halo 4. For those who don’t know Halo is a first person shooter. It’s pretty basic, red team against blue team or everyone shoots everyone else. To say that I play well at this would be a pretty good accounting of my skill. On the average I finished top three of the standings every time, but this was in singles matches. That meant me against everyone else. Where the fun and entertainment value is playing games like Halo is team play. The entertainment value is so high that there are currently tournament that pay millions of dollars to the winning team. But in order to be part of that I would have to invest time and energy into playing with other people on a regular basis.play

So before I was married this was an easy call. In fact I would say gaming probably kept me out of trouble a time or two, instead of going out drinking I made the call to stay in and beat up on some people. But now that I am married and have children it’s not an easy call. During the week when I get home from work its dinner, then an hour with the kids before they are off to bed, and then its choice time. The choice is do I spend the small amount of time prior to bed with my wife or with random strangers spread across the country. The weekends bare no better option either. In our house we try to stray away from letting the kids watch too much violence, including daddy’s video games. So that in its self limits my available time. But even then it becomes a choice to play with the kids or play a video game.

Some of you are saying well that’s an easy choice, a father always picks his children. To that I say, ba hum bug. As a father I can honestly say that there were days that I choose the selfish option, that I choose to feed my own addiction rather than spend time with my children.

So where does that leave me now? Where does it leave a dad that wants only the best for his kids, only the best for his wife, and wants to play some video games too?

It leaves me making the right choices now. It leaves me knowing that sometimes I am going to have to give up my selfish wants for the needs of my family. My wife needs some time with her husband and my children need their father’s attention.  Have I given up on gaming, NO! I just made myself more aware of those around me.  Now I choose mostly single player games that I can pause or coming back to later and now when I need some multiplayer action, I ask my sons to step in and play.

So is becoming a parent game over for a gamer? No, but being a good father and strong husband is worth far more points and the prize is even more amazing.

The choice between a game and marriage is an easy one…. Choose right.

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How do you make time for gaming? Did you give up gaming for family? What are games that can’t be played in your house? Comment and Share

Its Dangerous to go alone, Take this.

The Monday after Sunday – Lean In To

mary-anoints-the-feet-of-jesusWhat a great Sunday to spend at church! The sun was shining, it wasn’t freezing, and Pastor John Orr brought a strong message to the table.  If you didn’t know I have the great pleasure of serving at our church, I am one of the slide guys. Well this weekend was my weekend off and I got to make this most of it. Let me say this to everyone reading this, if you don’t serve at your church, then offer to do so. Just walk up to the pastor or church leader, say “Hi I would like to serve.” But what if they ask me to do something I am not accustomed to doing?! I promise you that you will get more joy from doing something you’re not accustomed to then you would just sitting in a seat. Have you walked into a church, sat down, looked around at empty seats, and got that feeling of uncomfort? I have! I hated that feeling and serving has helped me break down those walls. Now when I walk in I feel at home, I feel like I know the place, and I know the people. Please don’t take my word for it, volunteer one Sunday of a month and see how it changes your view of your church and the works of the body.

Back to the message John shared! A couple weeks ago we started reviewing the last week of Jesus’ life in the body of man, each Sunday taking on a day or two. This past Sunday we jumped into the Wednesday and one event particularly; the acts of Mary. In Mark 14:1-9/John 12:1-10 we find the story of Mary pouring the expensive oils onto Jesus and Judas stating it was a waste of expensive oils that could’ve been sold.

So what did it matter that Mary poured these expensive oil onto Jesus? What did Mary know that everyone else didn’t catch on too?

Mary knew that Jesus was going to die; she knew that Jesus wouldn’t be among them soon and that there would be no preparation of his body. She knew this and she made the most of it. Mary could be almost always be found at the feet of Jesus and in these verses she showed her love by pouring a years’ wage of oil onto Jesus and using her own hair to apply it.

What a crazy scene that must have been, to be standing there watch her pour the oils and smell of the fragrant oil just overtaking the room. I am people watcher and I have watched as people served with their hearts before and that is the closet I could imagine the feeling of being in that room. Mary was serving with all her heart and loving on Jesus with all her soul; Mary leaned to Jesus.

“Earth has no words that can convey the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus” – C.H. Spurgeon

That is the message I got this Sunday; Mary leaned to Jesus with all she had and was. Like Mary we also should lean to Jesus, with our faith, our relationships, and future. When we lean towards Jesus with our lives we put our trust in him and he responds. Do you hesitate to lean towards Jesus with your life? Lean on Jesus and find rest; he has promised that his yoke is light and he will handle the burden.

I encourage you to listen to the podcast @ TheStoneChurch.TV and get the whole message. I enjoy sharing what I got from it, but there was so much more that I only started to scratch.

 

Have You Loved on You Wife Today?

untitledAs men I think a hard thing to do is to acknowledge our wives enough. This varies between each of us and the relationship we have with our wives, but in the end the question remains; do we notice and acknowledge our wives enough?

For me my wife needs to be acknowledged at least twice a week, or that’s what I think. Your wife may be different, and may have different circumstances then mine. My wonderful wife has chosen to be a stay at mother and has no boss or coworkers. Her work doesn’t have that feeling of being completed, shipped, or won. No, the work of a SAM (Stay at home Mom) gets repeated every day, the work is never ending, and the work comes with no raises. So my wife’s only source of praise, recognition, and appreciation is this guy. As a husband it is our responsibility to understand these facts, recognize them, and act on them.

But wait, what makes me and all four of my years of marriage so wise on the needs of marriage. In truth, it doesn’t. I did once get some great advice and I will share with you today. All of the above though was for me and is something that I have to really breakdown and institute in my marriage. I value my wife; but do I value her enough. My wife is my partner in life; but where does she fall in my priority list? When I post things on Facebook does my wife get first page or fourth page in small print?

So a pastor once shared an awesome story with our church, Clay Wills. He had a larger fellow stand in the rear of the room by the door and then pulled out a large crystal to show to the people present. This thing was huge, about the size of a soft ball, shiny as could be! He then handed to the first person and began explaining what it was. The story was about Rebecca Latimer Felton, the first woman Senator in American history. Carefully the preacher shared the story of Rebecca, how she became a senator, her role in history, and her service for 24 hours. As the story was explained and the details about the crystal were brought to life you could clearly see the change in how people held the crystal. You could watch as the people began to slowly hand the crystal off to the next person, doing everything within their power to ensure that no ill became of it. As the end of the story approached the crystal made it back to the hands of the pastor and he tossed it about with complete disregard to it worth as he began talking about its worth.

dasdaNever did he actually state that the crystal in his hand was the same that was on Rebecca Felton’s desk, we just assumed it was. With a fancy case and the big guard looking guy standing in the back why wouldn’t you assume that it was? So, each of us assumed the value of the paper weight as a prized possession without any true knowledge of what it was.

We all place value on things that are actually meaningless. But the question is what value do we place on the people in our lives? What value do we put on the relationships to mean the most to us?

I encourage every man to stop and ask yourself how much value you place on your wife.

My wife cleans my house, cooks my food, cares for my children, and honors me every day with her love. It should be the easiest thing to respond with gratitude, respect, and acknowledgement, but sometimes life rushes us so much we brush past the easy stuff.

So today when you see your wife, thank her. Remember she said yes to you once and she should be thanked for that every day.

The Monday after Sunday – Fruitful and Faithful

imagesDLZE97UCRecap of Sunday morning – Leading up to Easter we’re reviewing the last week of Jesus’ life. This Sunday we discussed the Monday and Tuesday of Jesus’ life that week.  We looked at the world through the eyes of Mark and how it would’ve been seen if we were Mark watching the events unfold before his eyes. John Orr took us through the thoughts and feelings of the disciple as he watched Jesus clean up the temple and curse a fig tree.

Now if you would like to hear it all from John Orr please go check out the PODCAST at the TheStoneChurch.TV – You will enjoy this one.

Have you ever met a Christian that looked the part of a Christian but acted completely un-Christian? Have you ever been a Christian failing to do Christian things? Listening to John preach this Sunday these were the thoughts bouncing in my head.

See Jesus curses a tree because it looked like a fruit tree, but it had no fruit. Like the fruit tree a Christian can look the part but bear not fruit. Also like the fig tree in the verse, a Christian that bears no fruit will be cursed.

Hearing all of this I started thinking about my life and what do I bear? It’s a rough question for me to be honest. I can say “well I work at the church” or “I raise my children to praise God” but still doesn’t fill like I answered if I bear fruit. But as I look at the question I don’t think I can answer with those alone. A fruit tree doesn’t produce only one or two pieces of fruit. The question really doesn’t require an answer, it requires obedience and action. It requires me to live my life and set the example for my children. To continuously bear fruits by my life and its impact on this world, to continue to grow with Christ and to extend my roots deep into the word. Lastly it requires me to be faithful.

Peter asked why Jesus had cursed that fig tree. (Mark 11:20) When Jesus replied he did so in a way that didn’t simply answer the question. In fact, as John read the answer yesterday I understood none of it. It went right over my head like a kite. I had to read the section six times before I really began to understand the meaning. This morning I wrote 500 plus words on being a tree with leaves and no fruit, but it had no point when it was placed next to the word of God. As I read what I wrote and then the verse I started to see that the point wasn’t having fruit but the faithfulness and belief.

Doubt is a powerful weapon. A drop of doubt can poison a family, church, a person. The world throws so much at faith and uses doubt as its strongest weapon. As an educated (somewhat) adult doubt is my biggest struggle. I doubt myself, my faith, my family, and my worth. What makes doubt so powerful is it doesn’t always come when the chips are down. Sometimes it comes when I am sitting at lunch and pondering about raising my children or when I sitting across from my wife wondering how happy she is.

 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Listening to John I heard one line that cut through everything. If you doubt, bring your doubt to God fully believing he will resolve. I wish I had that line for my son about two weeks ago. So today I bring my doubt to God. I bring it to him and place it at his feet and believe that he will truly resolve my doubts and cast away my fears and with my doubts at his feet I look to him for the answers.

What a crazy huge message in such a little group of nine verses. Live fruitfully, in belief, and God shall provide.