I once heard Rob Morris, an amazing Christian speaker and co-founder of Love146, talking about how much he loved his son. He described how he used to sit up late a night with a video camera zooming in and out of his little hands, and then his feet, and then. . . Anyway, his wife came in and told him to come to bed, but he was too excited to sleep and was having so much fun watching and treasuring his son late into the night. I didn’t really understand how true this story was until Kasen was born. This video will probably be boring to everyone else, but I love it. The music was written by a good friend of mine and I wrote the lyrics to make it a lullaby when Kasen was born. I wonder if God looks over each part of me and rejoices the way I do over Kasen?
Jayna asked me to stand in as an “honorary” father at her wedding this past weekend. It was truly an honor. Her dad, Buck, and I were great friends during his last few years. In those days, I had the pleasure of playing in a band with him. I was also youth minister to two of his kids – Jayna and Dustan.
This weekend, I thought of him quite a bit and missed him greatly. I’m so grateful to have known him and been able to serve alongside him. Jayna worked with me here in Lake Jackson as a summer youth assistant too. Anyway, the wedding was beautiful and we got to see quite a few old friends too. Good stuff.
Kasen, discovered himself in the mirror at the hotel. It was pretty funny watching him laugh and giggle and dance and kiss himself. Here are a couple of pics.
I was at my in-laws house earlier today and we celebrated my first Father’s Day. There are all kinds of jokes about in-laws, but mine break all the stereotypes. They’re great! They have truly welcomed me into the family and I feel at home when I’m with them. (The only place I don’t feel at home with them is in the pantry, but Mike is hardly allowed in there himself. – LOL)
My father-in-law, Mike loves to eat. It doesn’t matter what he’s eating, he always sits down and enjoys every bite. It’s a normal thing to see him sitting at a table alone when everyone else is in the living room on a TV tray or on the floor. He knows how to savor his food.
Anyway, there’s a scene in the movie the Bucket List where Morgan Freeman comes home. He clearly loves being with his family. The scene shows him at a crowded dinner table passing food around laughing and then when they pray together, he sneeks a peek at his loved ones. He is truly contented – savoring every moment with them.
In that scene Morgan Freeman plays the role of my father-in-law – Mike. He lives for times like today – when his crowded house becomes a home for everyone – when the Krolczyk’s show up and he and Leroy can whisper together – when the guys meet around the grill and the girls leave together to “run some errands” (that’s code for “we haven’t bought any Father’s Day gifts yet.”) – when he is torn about whether to hold Kasen, Kallie, or Reid – times when smiles are common and laughter is contagious – He savors those moments as if he is storing them in his heart for a rainy day. He is proud of his family. He loves his family and would give anything for them. He is a true Father.
I hope and pray that my home will be filled like that one day. Thanks – Mike and Patti for your example and for treating me as one of your own. The Bible describes children as arrows. (Ps 127:4-5) I’m sure Mike felt like his quiver was full today, and I know he savored every moment of it – it was all over his face.
Prayer: Thank you God for my family, and Miranda’s family, and the things we’ve learned from them – the examples they’ve shown to us. Give Miranda and I a home full of family too. Empower and lead us to aim our arrow (Kasen) correctly and guide him to take ground in advancing the Kingdom of God. AMEN.
It’s amazing watching Kasen grow up. It seems he does something new all the time. I never imagined that I’d ever find myself lying on the floor cheering for someone to roll over, but. . .it’s me. . .I’m that guy! I try to celebrate it all. This past week, he’s been rolling over more and more often – from his tummy to his back and from his back to his tummy. He even passed a little toy from one hand to the other and back again this week, but the biggest news: Can I hear a drumroll???. . . . . . . ………Kasen slept through the night in his crib all week long. 8:30pm ’til 7:30am – 11 hours!
Thank you God for my incredible son. I’m amazed every time he looks into my eyes. He actually cringes at the joy that rushes through his veins when he smiles in those moments. How could I deserve such an honor? Thank you God! How can I live my life “smiling” like that at You? Lord, hold Kasen closely. Keep him healthy. Show Miranda and I how to be great parents and raise him in ways that honor You. Lord, I’m praying for Kasens health and that he comes to know You one day, but I’m gonna ask even more. Lord use him. Grow him into the kind of man who You can use to glorify Your name! AMEN.
Fear. It’s an interesting thing when it comes to leadership. My last post made a few people think I was afraid to step out in faith – afraid to do what God has called me to do. It’s true! I’m afraid. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid of walking away from a regular paycheck one day to follow this dream. I’m afraid of not being able to provide for my wife and child. I’m afraid I am misinterpreting God. I’m afraid of a whole bunch of things.
But (and maybe I should make that a great BIG “BUT”)
I’m even more afraid of just living from one day to the next – just existing. I’m more afraid of not being faithful in the little things and therefore forfeiting the amazing dreams God has for me. I’m more afraid of disappointing Him and of not being all that He has called me to be. I’m afraid of not drinking in the whole of God’s plan for me – of missing out on something. This is the kind of fear I can live with. And you know what I call that kind of fear?? I call it faith.
Anne Lamott talks about how fear and faith live together. Some people say that those two can’t be in the same room, but for me (and for her too) I’ve never stepped out on faith and not had fear lurking somewhere. Isn’t that what faith is? Stepping out in spite of the fear? Or even stepping into the fear?
This quote is appropriate to me. It’s my prayer that my life can reflect the ideas represented here.
It’s a famous quote which is sometimes wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so
that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other
people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
I am afraid that God has made me “powerful beyond measure” and that I won’t live into it. I do not plan on “playing small” or “shrinking” but I plan to at least attempt to “make manifest the glory of God that is within me.” I hope that as I do it, others including my own son Kasen, will be “liberated from his fears” too. I hope to instill a sense of calling, adventure, and courage in him. And even if I fail in regards to chasing this church plant lion, it will still accomplish this: Kasen will have known a father who eagerly and persistently pressed on to God’s call. And I believe that will be enough to inspire and encourage him to chase his dreams and lions.
I will live my life in fear – fear of not being all God wants me to be. And because of this fear, I will live by faith – faith in the one who is calling me, Jesus Christ.
The other night in class we were talking about how a leader’s identity effects how he leads. How we view ourselves makes a difference. As a new father, this subject really jumped out at me. Dr. Ayers showed us a quote by Nathaniel Brandon, “In considering the many parental messages that may have a detrimental effect on a child’s self-esteem, there is probably none I encounter more than some version of “You are not enough”. . . The tragedy of many people’s lives is that in accepting the verdict that they are not enough, they may spend years exhausting themselves in pursuit of the Holy Grail of enoughness.”
When he showed it to us, I couldn’t help but think about my own son, Kasen, and I wondered how I would communicate his enoughness to him. How could I communicate his value and worth? How could I show him that God Himself thinks he’s worth dying for? I was reminded of something I read in “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge. Here’s the excerpt I thought about:
A Man’s Deepest Question
On a warm August afternoon several years ago my boys and I were rock climbing in a place called the Garden of the Gods, near our home. The red sandstone spires there look like the dorsal fins of some great beast that has just surfaced from the basement of time. We all love to climb, and our love for it goes beyond the adventure. There’s something about facing a wall of rock, accepting its challenge and mastering it that calls you out, tests and affirms what you are made of. Besides, the boys are going to climb anyway – the refrigerator, the banister, the neighbor’s grape arbor – so we might as well take it outside. And it’s an excuse to buy some really cool gear. Anyway, when I climb with the boys we always top-rope, meaning that before the ascent I’ll rig protection from the top of the rock down, enabling me to belay from the bottom. That way I can coach them as they go, see their every move, help them through the tough spots. Sam was the first to climb that afternoon, and after he clipped the rope to his harness, he began his attempt.
Things were going well until he hit a bit of an overhang, which even though you’re roped in makes you feel exposed and more than a little vulnerable. Sam was unable to get over it and he began to get more and more scared the longer he hung there; tears were soon to follow. So with gentle reassurance I told him to head back down, that we didn’t need to climb this rock today, that I knew of another one that might be more fun. “No,” he said, “I want to do this.” I understood. There comes a time when we simply have to face the challenges in our lives and stop backing down. So I helped him up the overhang with a bit of a boost, and on he went with greater speed and confidence. “Way to go Sam! You’re looking good. That’s it. . . now reach up to your right. . . yep, now push off that foothold. . . nice move.”
Notice what a crucial part of any male sport this sort of “shop talk” is. It’s our way of affirming each other without looking like we’re affirming. Men rarely praise each other directly, as women do: “Ted, I absolutely love your shorts. You look terrific today.” We praise indirectly, by way of our accomplishments: “Whoa, nice shot, Ted. You’ve got a wicked swing today.” As Sam ascended, I was offering words of advise and exhortation. He came to another challenging spot, but this time sailed right over it. A few more moves and he would be at the top. “Way to go, Sam. You’re a wild man.” He finished the climb, and as he walked down from the back side, I began to get Blaine clipped in. Ten or fifteen minutes passed, and the story was forgotten to me. But not Sam. While I was coaching his brother up the rock, Sam sort of sidled up to me and in a quiet voice asked, “Dad. . . did you really think I was a wild man up there?”
Miss that moment and you’ll miss a boys heart forever. It’s not a question – it’s the question, the one every boy and man is longing to ask. Do I have what it takes? Am I powerful? Until a man knows he’s a man he will forever be trying to prove he is one, while at the same time shrink from anything that might reveal he is not. Most men live their lives haunted by the question, or crippled by the answer they’ve been given.
When will this moment come for Kasen? Will I recognize it? Will there be lots of opportunities? What kinds of activities can I be involved in with him that would bring out these opportunities? (I’m pretty sure I’m not a rock climber – of course it does sound fun, but. . .)
As a youth minister, I recognize this question being asked. I have even had the opportunity to give the answer sometimes (although I wish their own father could have been the one to give it). My job as a leader is to equip others to serve and that means delving into the character questions – into the identity of those I work with. What a huge task. . . what an incredible privilege. . . what an amazing opportunity. . . Thank you God for allowing me to be a part of Your work!!
Sunday, I started a new leadership course. I’m not sure how I’ll be graded or even what is required, but I do know that this class will continue for the rest of my life. It’s not one that I can spend a few hours on each week either – it’ll require total commitment. The class I’m referring to of course is fatherhood. Kasen was born Sunday night and so I’ve begun this new journey. It’s much more than a leadership class, but that will be at least part of it.
As I look back, I recognize the leadership that my dad gave me as I grew up. I’m sure I could never recognize all that he did, but let me talk about a few things:
He taught me how to play baseball. (I’m actually left-handed, but play the way he taught me – right-handed.) He coached my little league teams in football, t-ball, and baseball. He read stories to my brother and I at bedtime. (That’s me on the left with the dark hair.) He showed me how to “play” and that adults could “play” too. He laughed alot and showed me how. He taught me how to do woodworking stuff. He taught me that families need to do long road trips together.
He taught me so much more, but you know. . . . .as I think about it, I realize that it’s not so much the outward things he taught me or did for me that I’m most grateful for. I’m most grateful for the example that he gave me – for his character. My dad taught me about God – not by talking about Him, but by loving me unconditionally. As he shouted and cheered for me on the football field, I understood how much God loved me and cheered for me. He showed me forgiveness and I learned about being childlike (as Christ calls us) by watching him play with my friends and laugh with us. I’ll probably never understand the depths of my dad’s influence on me and on my perception/understanding of God. My dad truly led me, but most people who knew him probably wouldn’t have called him a leader. He led out of his character and through his relationship with us. His leadership is evidenced in all three of his children. My brother, sister, and I, all work with kids and love serving God by guiding and leading/influencing others. I pray that I can be like him. I want to lead others to know God not just with my words, but by the way I live.
This new class I’ve started is one that millions of men have registered for throughout the centuries. It’s probably the biggest opportunity to influence a life that any of us will ever have. I wish the world recognized it’s importance – too many men have failed. I want to be a man who does not fail – one who truly places this leadership role as a priority.
Prayer: Lord, show me how to “be” – Who to “be” – and give me strength/courage/and whatever I’ll need to “be” what you’ve called me to “be” in this role as “leader” of my family and child. PS – thank you for the incredible blessing of Kasen! Cover him with Yourself. Protect him from evil. Guide Him to a knowledge of Your son Jesus Christ. Allow me to be a consistent presence in his life that represents You to him. Bring other people into his life who will lead him to a deeper/saving relationship with You. AMEN!
PS – I had an incredible experience this weekend as Kasen was born. I cried tears of joy over and over. The one thing I cried sad tears about was that this experience made me remember my dad again. (He died of leukemia.) I thought about things I haven’t thought about for years and wished he could have been there with us. I wish he could look into Kasen’s eyes, and I wish he could play football with him and read stories to him and roll around in the front yard being silly with him. I guess this is God’s way of saying to me that I should be intentional about doing those things. I can’t imagine that anyone ever gets to the end of their life and regrets the time they spent playing with their children – I certainly won’t – I will play just like my dad. (Doesn’t that make you smile? I know it makes dad smile, and I’d be willing to bet that it makes God smile too.)
It was just a tap on the glass, but it was so much more! Yesterday, is a day I’ll never forget. My beautiful bride gave birth to Kasen Mathew (our first child) at 5:08pm. He was 20.5 inches long and weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces. It had been an incredibly long day as she worked her way through labor, but when it came time to push, she was great. I saw his head the first time she pushed. He has lots of hair. After we had a little time with him, they took him away to the hospital nursery for a couple of hours. The nurse took me there so I’d know how to find him. As she winded her way around all those hallways, my mind wandered about whether I could find him even though she had taken me there. I wasn’t allowed into the nursery, so I stood outside watching them check him over. It was a quiet hallway, and the first time I was alone – away from the crowd of family and doctors. I looked at him through the glass and imagined the future. I imagined playing football and chasing him around the house. I watched him play with the dogs in my mind. I dreamt of Christmas and taking him camping. What would it be like to sing him to sleep? Will my lifestyle speak to him about Jesus? How will I care for him when he’s crying? What will I do? How do I. . . .? How. . . Oh no! I don’t know the first thing about raising a child. How could God give such an incredible gift to someone like me? What am I gonna do? I’m not ready for this. Tap. Tap. The nurse tapped gently on the glass calling me back to the present. Beckoning me out of my imagination and into reality. She mouthed something about giving him a bottle and I answered.
I realize now that I don’t have to know everything. I just have to be ready to love him in the present. I’ll figure it all out as I go along. I’ll trust God to help me be the father He’s called me to be. It was just a tap on the glass, but it taught me something. . . . something profound. . . . .something important about living in the present and about trusting God.
Our study materials suggested that we find a mentor and so I asked my Father-in-Law, Mike Mathews. He and I were friends long before I even met his daughter (my beautiful bride) and he was influencing/leading me into new places spiritually from the first day I met him. We have traveled all over the world together learning about Jesus and the church. We have been to Israel, Soul Survivor in England, Brooklyn Tabernacle, and Phoenix Church of Joy together. He also sent me to Willow Creek, Saddleback, and Ginghamsburg UMC in Ohio for more training. As much as I learned from each of these places, I have probably learned more from watching him in both the way he lives and in his vocation as Pastor. I’m excited that he has agreed to talk with me and our first meeting was great! He shared much with me about his personal “Deep Change” over this past year.
Thank you God for preparing the way to make this day possible. Thank you for this friendship and for the ways that You have worked in Mike’s life to bring him to this place in life where he is finding His purpose and meaning in You in new and profound ways. Use these times that we meet together to help us encourage one another and be the “body” that You’ve called us to be. Use these times and experiences to speak into our lives and move us to maturity in You. AMEN!
Yeah – we’ve decided to do our nursery with a rainforest theme. We decided this before we knew if Kasen was gonna be a boy or a girl. The plan was that if it turned out to be a girl, we’d add butterflies and flowers, and if it was a boy we’d add monkeys and bugs. Anyway, we painted the room a really bright green pretty early on after we found out Miranda was pregnant. One of the youth (Montana) helped us get it painted. She did a GREAT job too – there’s only one problem – once we got it on the wall, we realized how bright it really was. Almost scary bright if you know what I mean. (By the way, the picture here doesn’t really show how bright it is – it’s so bright that you can see a green glow on the opposite white wall in the hallway.) Anyway, our hope was that when we started putting other things into the room, it would calm it down a bit. (Note: I really wanted bright colors instead of the typical pastel baby colors that are normally used.)
All this is to say that we worked a whole lot last week in cleaning things out of the closet so we could begin turning it into the nursery that we want. We got out all the stuff that people have already bought and moved a dresser into the room along with some fake trees that we bought. Anyway, things are coming together. My mom, sister, nephew, and niece came in town too and they helped us pick out some of the stuff. Mom even helped us figure out how to do some curtains (she’s gonna make them) and make them match some linens for the crib. (She’s gonna make those too)
Closets – so as I cleaned out the closet where Kasen’s nursery is gonna be, I found all kinds of fun stuff. That particular closet had become the “Steve’s old treasures” closet. I threw away quite a bit – a CD player, a DVD player, a set of speakers, and a few other things. But I also found some other stuff that brings back great memories for me.
My rock collection (yeah – you never knew I was one of “those” guys did you?)
Star Wars collector’s cards (I have the entire “Empire Strike Back” collection from when I was really little – I wonder what I could sell it for on E-bay?)
Sheet Music from Texas Wesleyan
School Yearbooks from Jr. High and High School
My Tape collection – Yes – I’m that old – I remember when I bought my first CD and it was long after I started collecting music.
Anyway, all of these things bring back all kinds of memories for me. They have helped to make me who I am today in one way or another. Of course they don’t even come close to the influence that God or my family has had on me, but regardless these things still have still shaped me and the way that I think. As I cleaned out this closet, I wondered what kinds of things would be collected these for Kasen. I wonder what things we’ll dig out of his closet one day? I wonder what things will help to shape him? I prayed over that closet. I prayed that the things which end up in that space, will be things which we have intentionally placed there. Things which we chose for him ’cause we knew they’d have an impact on who he becomes. I pray that God will give us wisdom in choosing these things. I also pray that it won’t become a place where we just throw stuff that we really don’t care about. (‘Cause I think that has an impact too – it’s just not an intentional one – it’s not an impact that you chose for yourself.)
Wow – all this just over a nursery closet – what have I gotten myself into? I’m not ready for this whole parenting thing. If there’s this much to think about over a closet – how will I ever think through everything else in his life in the way that I should?
God – I need you! Please guide me. Show me your desires for Kasen. I know you will provide, but help me to be a good steward and make the right choices which would help him to grow up in such a way that he comes to know You. In a way that he would choose to serve You. Keep my bride safe and healthy as she carries Kasen for these next few months. Hold him close to Your heart and continue knitting him together in the way that You see fit. Create him inside Miranda. Mold him into a man who will honor You with his life, his words, his decisions, his everything. – by the way, mold me to be that way too – AMEN!