Kesleigh told me I was her “Worst Dad.” She went on to explain that her other dad was God. I guess that means I’m OK with being her “worst dad.” Maybe that should even be my goal? Keep propping up God and showing her how great He is so that I sort of fade into the background of her life. Wow….it’s hard to say that, but that’s truly what I want. I want her to be so in love with Him that I’m secondary. I want her to know that in Him, life goes on and she can find everything she needs with or without me.
I watched her giggling across the room as she danced. The flashing lights sparkled in her eyes which lit up as she noticed me watching her. Her smile expanded even wider. She floated across the dance floor and threw her arms open to me saying “Hold me daddy!” We danced. Well….I danced and her feet dangled a few feet above the dance floor. It was an incredible night and I’m so grateful that I took the time to ask her out.
Kesleigh is 3, almost 4, and I had asked her to go with me about a week before the big event. As her father, it’s my goal to love her like God loves her. I know I’ll never do that well, but it’s my responsibility to be an earthly representation of Him to her. That’s HUGE! I’ve got to do all I can and pray that God will use my even feeble efforts to reveal Himself to her.
I also wanted to make a special effort that night to let her see how a man should treat her. I know it’s early, but I want her to grow up knowing what to look for in a husband. I got dressed up for her – that may very well be the biggest expression of my love. I opened the door for her and was courteous. I bought her dinner (Yes it was McDonalds, but that’ll change as she gets older) and held her hand as we walked into the ballroom. I proudly introduced her to the people around us and waited patiently as she picked out candy for her snack. I asked her to dance with me and even embarrassed myself a bit for her entertainment. I laughed with her as I tried to teach her a few dances – Chicken Dance, YMCA, 2 Step, etc. I tried to serve her in every capacity and when the time was right….in the middle of a slow dance, I spoke to her gently and tried to explain how much she meant to me. I know she’s only three, but she truly seemed to grasp the significance of the moment and before I even finished talking, she looked directly in my eyes, and said, “I love you daddy.” as she wrapped her little arms around my neck. She just held me for the rest of the song. It was magical. The rest of the evening she wouldn’t leave my side. Even when I tried to get her to dance with her friends, she only wanted to be with me.
This is my prayer – that Kesleigh would grasp the significance of God’s love for her and that she would never want to be out of His presence again. LORD, may it be so.
P.S. – If you ask her what the best part of the evening was, she won’t mention any of these events. All she’s gonna talk about is the “Candy Bar” and how she was able to go back as many times as she wanted.
I had a little fatherhood metaphor moment over the holidays. Remember the old “Footprints in the Sand” poem? (You know the one where the guy can’t figure out why God left him when things got tough and God said, “That’s when I was carrying you.”) I was walking with my son, Kasen through the snow and he decided that it’s wasn’t much fun so he stopped and cried holding up his hands for daddy to pick him up. I did. Anyway, I went back and filmed the footprints a few minutes later. I wonder how many times, God has picked me up? I suspect that He’s probably carrying me right now as I struggle through this time with no job. Anyway, here’s the video:
Like the “footprints in the sand” poem. You can see that Kasen and I walked together for a while and then he decided he wanted Daddy to carry him.
Tomorrow will be my 2nd official Father’s Day. My first with 2 children. Miranda was asking me what “Kasen and Kesleigh” could get me. (I put “quotes” around their names ’cause they have no concept of Father’s Day yet.) I really didn’t have a clue. I have everything I really need. I’m truly blessed beyond anything I ever imagined. I’ve been thinking about how I could answer her though. What do I want? Well, I’m not sure she can arrange for Kasen and Kesleigh to get it for me, but here’s what I want.
First and foremost, I want my children to grow up to be madly in love with Jesus.
I want my children to be “arrows” like Psalms 127:4 describes them – arrows attack the enemy in his territory and work to expand and advance the kingdom.
I want more time to be with my family and I want to have great experiences together.
I want to be able to provide for my family in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways.
I want to live as an example to my children by being a man of character who chases after God even if it seems crazy.
I want to laugh, play, and enjoy my bride and children by being truly present with them in everyday life.
I want my bride and children to know how much they are loved.
I want God’s grace to continue to grant me favor. I want to become an awesome husband and father and I understand that it’s truly a never-ending journey!
My list could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. I think I’ve communicated the main thing I was trying to say. Besides, I’ve gt the most amazing bride and children in the world. Is there really anything more I could want?
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!!
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.
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!