Why Being a Great Father Has Nothing to do With Being a Great Father.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I’ve been thinking about what fatherhood means, who I want to be, what I want my daughter to see me as, and how I want my wife to see me in my role as a father, husband and leader. First and foremost, I haven’t been living up to any of the ways in which I have been wanting them to view me, but more importantly, I’m realizing that it isn’t about me at all. Being an amazing husband and father isn’t about trying to be amazing – it’s about being humble, gracious, kind, generous, and pointing my family to Christ. It isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus.

I have made my entire life has been about me. It’s been about trying to earn people’s adoration, about fitting in, being liked, being talented. This frame of mind that has been so highly consumed with self promotion and self image has led to me telling people what I thought they wanted to hear out of me instead of telling them the truth. It turned me from a kind-hearted person into a selfish, lying jerk.

Is this who I want my daughter to see? Is this the character of a man that will set the tone for what she is to look for in a man when she gets older? Absolutely not.

It has been a startling realization lately as to how out of control and rampant I have let my fixation on myself and my own image run, so much so that it has been at the expense of my family. I’m ashamed of the character I have developed, and am eager to start anew.

Fathers, please listen carefully here – your job is not to focus on how well you are doing your job. It isn’t to try to appear to be something you aren’t, or to focus on being better than the other person. The best thing you can do for your family is to seek first the kingdom of God. Pursue Him, learn His character, embrace His grace and know that you don’t have to pretend to be perfect, because God loves you for exactly who you are. Once you have truly experienced His grace, knowing you don’t have to try to earn his (or your family’s) love, life just becomes more simple.

So, you are fourth in line in your own life. God first, then your spouse, then your children, and then yourself. This is what I am learning in my own life, and by no means do I have it all figured out. I fall short of the glory of God each and every day. But the greatest news I have for you is that God loves you.

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I Refuse To Let Fear Dictate My Daughter’s Life

Fear sucks. I absolutely hate the emotion. It’s one of the only emotions I have encountered in my life that has the ability to haunt you, stay with you, and cling on for dear life no matter what you try to get rid of it. Fear manifests itself in many ways—some helpful, some crippling—and has a profound ability to impact the choices we make. (Continue reading at Scary Mommy here.)

How To Transition From Baby To Toddler

Babies are easy. They sleep, they poop, they eat, they smile and yes, they cry. With babies, that’s about it. But see, the things is, those tiny little things that don’t go anywhere end up growing, and then they sit up, and then they crawl, and somewhere in that flurry of dirty diapers – you have a toddler. Get ready, because this next phase of life will seriously test your patience. Here are six ways to prepare yourself… (Continue reading on Scary Mommy here.)

5 Ways My Daughter is Smarter Than Vegetables

You know, I never really paid much attention to vegetables until my daughter started eating solid foods. I have always liked them – I think they are delicious, they come in a tremendously wide variety of shapes and colors and flavors, and I have willingly ate them for pretty much my entire life. But now, I have a staunchly opinionated one year old on my hands, and she hates them. She hates all of them. Suddenly, one of the biggest points of emphasis in my life is how to shove those healthy things into my daughter’s face and, ideally, convince her to chew and even swallow some of them. My daughter has proven to be vastly superior to the vegetables and has outsmarted them at every turn. Here are five ways she has proven to be smarter than vegetables.

1. She picks around them. It’s quite amazing to watch this little person be so determined not to consume a single vegetable. We have put mass assortments of food on her tray, and somehow, she navigates that maze like a pro, eating every ounce of starch and protein, even fruit, without being fooled into the tiniest bite of chopped vegetable. Stinker.

2. She throws them off her tray. When she’s not in the mood to pick around them, she will straight up clear them out of her way. “Hey, broccoli, you’re in the way of my chicken. Get gone,” she mumbles in baby babble, chucking the broccoli into oblivion.

3. She swats them off the spoon. We’ve even resorted to trying to spoon feed her vegetables, but it’s like she knows it’s coming. She has given many-a-spoons the backhand to end all backhands, and she has no problem doing it.

4. She purses her lips in a “you shall not pass” sorta way. When the spoon doesn’t work, we have tried hand feeding her vegetables, hoping that if she could just get a little taste, maybe she’ll change her mind and realize that these delicious little morsels of health are not going to kill her. But no, she won’t possibly allow it. She’ll lock her mouth down tighter than a safe door, and there is no hope at pushing some health past it.

5. She screams. A lot. If you are foolish enough to keep pushing at this point, she unleashes a scream that is so opinionated, so shrill and sharp that you are completely demoralized and begin to question your very existence. You have failed, and there is nothing you can do about it, except try it all over again tomorrow.

My daughter really, really hates vegetables.

What My First Year as a Father Has Taught Me About Life

My beautiful, smiling, brilliant, opinionated, strawberry blonde little angel is one today. She’s one. I don’t know what happened. There was crying and diapers and midnight feedings (admittedly much more by my wife than myself, but I digress), bumps, bruises, learning experiences and the occasional fear that I was completely ruining my daughter’s life, and suddenly I have a one year old. She is brilliant, entirely too cute for her own good, and is pretty much already the boss in the house. In my twelve months as a father, there are many nuggets of wisdom I would like to pass on. You know, seeing as I’m an old pro now. Or something. Here are 10 things fatherhood has taught me about life.

1. Slow down. Nothing shows you quite how fast your life moves like having a baby. Suddenly, she’s one. She is 1/18th of the way to adulthood. It has flown by, and I’m terrified of missing it. Having this little lady in the house is making me reevaluate what it means to be present. Don’t blink, people. Be present. Savor every day.

2. Stop stressing. There are way too many unknowns in life to spend your time constantly stressed and under the gun. Guess what? One way or another, everything will work out. You’ll be fine. Take a breath, let tomorrow worry about itself, and just take care of today.

3. Have joy like a child. My daughter finds so much beauty, bewildering disbelief and pure joy in the simplest of things. From a single flower, to the color of the sky, to the shine on daddy’s ring, she sees beauty in the every day. That bewilderment and unfiltered joy is astonishing. I wish I saw the world through the same lens.

4. Invest in family. There is nothing more precious than family. Think outside yourself, think of others, look at how you can make their day better, how you can serve them, and you will have a sense of peace and happiness that comes from very few things in life. This is a lesson I’m still learning, so to my wife reading this, sorry I haven’t been better.

5. Things are just things. It’s all stuff. It’s junk. In the end, it doesn’t matter at all. Your clothes, your jewelry, who won the NBA Finals (side note… go Golden State) – in the end, none of that matters. What matters is love; what matters is family. 20 years from now, I will care a lot more about how my daughter thinks of me than I will about how I looked one day at that one place for that one event.

6. You are more resilient than you think. Life happens, mistakes are made, things don’t go according to plan, and sometimes that is terrifying. But the more I get through, the more I take on and see myself grow, the more I am learning that I’m a very resilient creature. You’ll be just fine, promise.

7. Forgive yourself. Hate to break it to you, but you’re human. You’re going to screw up, especially when it comes to parenting. If you constantly dwell on your mistakes, that’s where you will stay. It is so crucial to forgive yourself, to let yourself learn instead of dwelling in your imperfections. Keep your chin up and eyes forward. Stop regretting, start learning.

8. Listen. Listen, listen more, and when you feel like you’ve listened enough, listen again. You are surrounded by people willing to provide words of wisdom, others who want your feedback, and others still that have needs you are capable of meeting for them. You will miss all of these if your ears are tuned out to the world around you. Get out of your own head, stop focusing on yourself, and start listening to the people around you. Game changer.

9. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Like nothing I have experienced, parenting is wonderfully adapt at hurdling you outside of your comfort zone. With each new phase, you are presented with an entirely new set of challenges that you feel absolutely inept to handle. Get used to this! Feeling uncomfortable in new situations is perfectly fine, just don’t let it completely hamper your ability to step out, try something new, and tackle the situation head on. Embrace these learning experiences for what they are.

10. There is no love like your love for your child. Nothing – and I mean nothing, compares. Your child is the only thing on this planet that can simultaneously elate you and break your heart. Never before have I desired so deeply to be better – to be perfect – than I do when I am around this kid. She is the light of my life, a one year old representation of all I hold dear. There are no words, no possible way to describe, what it means to have a child and the instant, remarkably intense love that you feel for them. This is the only situation as a writer where I feel absolutely comfortable in knowing that I will be unable to describe the way I feel.

Parenting is awesome. It’s challenging, time consuming, tiring, and simultaneously the most exciting, joyful and rewarding experience I have ever had the privilege to have. Being the father to my beautiful girl makes me more proud than anything else I could ever accomplish, and has taught me tremendous things about myself and what matters most. I hope that, in some small way, she will someday know all that she means to me.

My Daughter Needs More Space – Why We’re Moving

This has been an absolutely ridiculous season of life. My wife and I have decided to list our house, got it ready for market, listed it, and accepted an offer – in three weeks. Quite frankly, we probably could have done it in two if it wasn’t for the crawling, crying 18 pound thing demanding our attention, but it’s because of that 18 pound thing that we are moving. (Side note – this entire process is exponentially more challenging when you have a baby.)  Here are five reasons why we have outgrown our current house.

1. We have no yard. Where we currently live, there is a beautiful green space off our back patio. It’s wonderful to look at, but as our daughter start’s getting older, it doesn’t make much sense. Just to play, she would have to go out our front door, through the car port, around the side of the house to the back where she could play. Even still, we wouldn’t be able to see her from the kitchen, which is a challenge. Yards are full of magic and memories and dirt. Kids need dirt.

2. Toys. Toys everywhere. Right now, Olivia’s toys are under our stairs or in our living room. That’s it. And while I personally don’t mind it, it doesn’t exactly scream “look how welcoming our home is” to guests when they trip over a pillar of stackable rings. We need an alternative.

3. Babies have a ton of stuff. Speaking of toys, oh my goodness to babies come with way too much stuff. I’m not convinced that my 11 month old doesn’t have more things than I do. Books, toys, towels, clothes, toys, bedding, toys, pillows, TOYS…. everything they own takes up much more space than it should. So yeah, a place with more storage would be nice.

4. Schools matter all of a sudden. I didn’t used to care about the rating of nearby schools, but I do now. I know, I know, it’s still five years away… but it never hurts to start thinking about it. Seeing that the elementary school around the corner from my place is a 3/10 doesn’t inspire much confidence, so we better invest in our daughter and set her up for as much success as we can. Grown up stuff, amirite?

5. We’re way too far from our church. We absolutely love our church and the family we have created there, and right now, it’s about 35 minutes away – on a Sunday, with no traffic. Calling up a friend and being like “hey buddy! We would love to have you over for dinner next week! Just make sure you leave your house an hour before you need to be here, because that traffic is AWFUL” is not a fun conversation. It’s no surprise that nobody comes to our house. The drive sucks.

So, yes, my little 11 month old has begun making all the decisions in my family and she can’t even talk yet, but we are doing this out of our love for her and  our desire to give as much as we can to our little lady. On to the next chapter.

This is War: A Dad’s Guide to Surviving Labor

It is not pretty, it is not fun, it is not easy, and it is not your battle. Hate to break it to you, pops, but labor has nothing to do with you whatsoever. When it’s time to welcome your little one into the world, you have two jobs – provide encouragement, and stay out of the way. Here are eight ways to support your partner on delivery day… (see more at Scary Mommy here.)