The School Assignment: What makes me…ME!


I still have the privilege of helping my boys with their homework assignments.  I get the privilege of peeking under the hood peek at the heart and discover what men God is allowing them to become.  The school assignment this week in Communication was a speech about themselves.  My oldest decided to mix his unapologetic humor to a interesting perspective about himself that would make any parent proud.  I thought I would share it with you.

I was born in 1997 at midnight to my mother’s discomfort.  When I first came out I was unable to breath because my cord was wrapped around my neck.  Well life for me started as a fight.  At an early age I was a barbaric gentleman.  My dad and my grandfather were always hard on me to be respectful, polite, and to do things to the full glory of God given my abilities.  My dad taught me to fear God and him. 

My brother and I were home schooled for the majority of grade school by my loving mother who taught me the meaning of respect through the belt.  Unlike my brother I went to public school my first few years of school.  All my friends were Hispanic and Black: I found them easier to get along with than the white kids.  At home, my brother and I would play outside for hours; we never wore shirts or shoes we believed that was for wimps.  To this day I still have very little feeling in the bottom of my feet due to the hot concrete on my feet.  When I was five I received a puppy, it was my responsibility to take care of her; that was the first time I ever had to care for someone other than myself. 

Playing outside I broke my arm doing a wheelie on my bike I was very little and my brother locked me out of the house.  Pain grew me that day, because of that first break I’ve never cried again when I broke other bones in my body.  Also I came to love the Simpsons, Sponge Bob, Dragon Ball Z, and Ed, Edd, and Eddy since all I did was watch T.V.  My father with the combinations of those shows gave me a great sense of humor.  My father also knew I wanted to be a soldier so he put me in MMA and Scouts around age 12.  I got in trouble in Scouts one day for getting in a fight with a little punk.  My dad told me one of the important things I remember “Don’t start fights just to make sure you finish them” .  That along with the punishment from my MMA Instructor taught me to control myself.  Later the same kid and his friend would ambush my brother and me when I had my broken wrist.  My little brother who was 9 at the time protected me from three different kids.  This is first time I began to appreciate my brother. We finished that fight.

My brother and I are still in Scouts today.  Boy Scouts has taught me time management, communications skills, and how to survive.  It has molded me into a leader.  I’ve missed Homecoming Events every year for Scouts.  I’ve missed many fun events with my friends from school because I was climbing mountains, riding horses, licking something by the side of road, jumping off dams, canoeing up stream, fishing, burning other Scout’s things, doing back flips off mountains, running from bears, eating wild hog, shooting shotguns, falling in mud, hiking 125 miles uphill then hiking another 100 downhill just to say I did it.  And to this day I will never regret this ever.  That’s what makes me. Me!



Manday: A Movie Recommendation and Two Must Read Articles

DF-11070-Edit - Ben Stiller in THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY.

I am a movie buff.  I have passed that passion for movies on to my two boys and my wife.  Every week, my bride and I have date night.  That date night usually consists of dinner and a movie.  The day after Christmas, my boys insisted on seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  I want to highly recommend this film to you and your family.  Ben Stiller directs and stars in this amazing film.  It has a kind heart and is worth your time and money.  It is not a violent film filled with flashy stars flaunting their skin so it won’t be in the theatre for long.  See it.

One of the most powerful elements in this film is the use of cut scenes, dream sequences, and wild adventures that play out Walter’s fantasies and imagination. One minute everything is normal for Walter, and then suddenly, the scene is interrupted with loud special effects, character action, and slightly unrealistic scenarios. There is a part where Walter and his boss (Scott) are having a confrontation, and Walter zones out and imagines soaring through the city and fighting his boss like something out of “The Matrix.” This can be confusing as the scene goes completely off the rails without notice, but most times after playing out Walter’s vision, everything settles down and goes back to reality. These jumps in and out of reality are quite entertaining, and it is amusing to see Walter snap back into reality with people calling his name while he stares off into the distance. Walter’s imagination only begins as fantasy, but as the film goes on, he begins to actually experience real life adventures. The special effects and scene transitions are more than satisfactory, and there are outstanding camera shots of mountains, oceans, volcanoes and other scenery. There are many fantasy or silly scenes throughout the film, but these are presented to look the best on screen as they possibly can.  –HAYDEN PITTMAN WFAA Special Contributor


I am a father.  My 300 often share articles of interest about parenthood.  Ken shared the following article during one of our many breakfast meetings,  I found it convicting and thought provoking.  The article is entitled:  How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home.  Click on the link and read it.  It will get the spiritual and moral juices flowing.

 “And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god.”

Lastly, I am also a man who checks the pulse of politics and social issues.   My friend and popular author David T., shared an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal that I had to share with you.  I thought it was appropriate with all the turmoil surrounding free speech, reality TV shows, and alternate lifestyles.  I also found it amazingly appropriate for Manday.  I teased on Facebook, that Ms. Paglia’s views are pure heresy and would be rejected by the small fringe groups, mass media, and popular opinion makers.  I challenge you to read it.  The article is entitled: Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues.  Yes.  That Camille.

“Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America’s brawny industrial base, leaves many men with “no models of manhood,” she says. “Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.” The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm “inspires me as a writer,” she says, adding: “If we had to go to war,” the callers “are the men that would save the nation.”

I wanted to share these three things with you as you start your New Year.

Here is to a great 2014!!!

Leading Them to the Manger

Leading Them to the Manger - 1This will be my last chance to speak to the fathers before Christmas day rolls around. And I want to continue the theme of my article last year at Christmas. My admonition to the fathers out there last year on Christmas Day was to “Let’s lead our families and loved ones to the manger today.”

It seems that Christmas has become the domain of the “Moms” out there. They do most of the shopping and certainly most of the wrapping. Be honest guys, how many presents have you wrapped this year?

And that is all well and good. Perhaps in your family, like in mine, the wife and mother have more time to accomplish many of the tasks associated with the gifting of Christmas. Frankly, many of them enjoy it. But, probably they do not enjoy it like we think they do in the hustle and bustle of the last few days before Christmas. But they get it all done like the wonder women that they are.

So, what is the point for Fatherhood Friday on this last Friday before Christmas?

It is to remind you husbands and fathers out there of your sacred duty to lead your family to the manger on a daily basis. I know that Christmas will be over as quickly as it came upon us. But we must keep the beauty and the simplicity of the manger ever before us. And it is our jobs as the leaders in our homes to lead our families in slowing down, pausing to reflect, sharing the gift of love, and spending time around the manger where we can look into the face of the Newborn King.

Dads – Don’t send your wife and children to the manger this Sunday while you recline in front of the big screen TV and watch yet another football game. Get up, get off the couch and lead your family in some form of worship and praise of the greatest gift ever given – the Babe lying in the manger. The one came to lead us out of darkness and into eternal light.

Photo credit: John Pavelka / / CC BY
Photo credit: Zach Bonnell / / CC BY-NC-ND

Leaders and the Reset Button

Leaders and the Reset Button - 1I was recently discussing with some colleagues the subject of leadership and the younger generation.  Now, I know that I immediately sound really old when I say “younger generation”.  But the reality of the situation is that those under the age of 30 (and even up to the age of 40) have a different view of the world because of the ubiquity of video games in their formative years.

For those of that generation who are now finding themselves as husbands, fathers, and burgeoning leaders in their jobs or at church many are finding themselves with difficulties in dealing with real life situations and the challenges of being the husband, father and leader that they have perhaps envisioned themselves becoming.  They are discovering that being a leader is a lot harder than it looks.  Being a full-time husband and father is harder than it looks.  Being responsible at work and responsive at home come with a high cost in terms of energy and emotional capital.

But these young leaders grew up playing video games.  And when the game was not turning out the way they wanted it to, or they encountered seemingly unsurmountable odds, they simply reached over to the game console and pushed the “Reset” button and instantly was granted a fresh start and new insights into the pitfalls that were just before the cause of their demise in the video game.  There were no consequences to restarting and they could begin a new and try something different this time.  They could even restart as a completely different character.

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Leaders Lead – Fathers Must Also

Leaders Lead - Fathers Must Also - 1Real leaders understand the danger of inaction – either through intention or just through neglect.

Consider this: Public monuments are never set up to honor someone who merely intended to do something.  They don’t often build monuments to honor those who started a quest, but never finished it.

Leaders act. Though they spend time in study and planning, they mostly act. For leaders, study and planning are a ramp-up for action, not a substitute for it.

Fathers must act as well. As fathers we must lead with action. And now is the time for action. Not tomorrow. Not this week-end. Not after I have had some “Me Time”. Now is the time to act and do. Now is the time to redouble your efforts to be the kind of father that your children’s mother envisioned you to be when she married you.

Moreover, real leaders never let indecision lead to inaction. When confronted with several tough choices of action, they do not shrink back. They brace themselves, consult with their wife and together choose what they judge as the best way forward, and then set to work as best they can to achieve that goal.

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Leading at Work – Leading at Home

Leading at Work -- Leading at Home - 1

Regardless of what you think, you really are the same person at home that you are at work.  One persona may be more “masked” than the other, but you are the same person.

Why? You are one person, not two. You are ultimately the same man, both on the job with your colleagues and at home with your wife and children. You cannot live two disparate lives; you will ultimately be known as the same person in both spheres of influence. That may scare you a bit.  And I hope it is at the very least a sobering thought.

Leading at Work -- Leading at Home - 2The downside of that reality is that if you are a despicable person at home, you will ultimately show yourself to be the same at work.  And the greater shame is that many men would be more embarrassed to be considered despicable at work than at home.

Men who are weak and ineffective fathers tend to try to split their lives between work and family. They try to live their lives in two separate worlds.  That is, they live as producers at work but consumers at home.  On the job they dedicate their powers to serious, responsible activity; but at home they rest passively in pleasurable recreation. In the workplace, their character strengths operate at full throttle and everyone sees and respects their sound judgment, sense of responsibility, tough-minded perseverance, and self-control. But at home, their inner strengths that are so active at work, rest on idle, set aside for use during the day, and thereby hidden from their children’s eyes.

Successful fathers do not live like this. They are smart, effective leaders at home as well as on the job. Their strengths of character impress their children as much as their colleagues at work. Their devotion to their family, in fact, gives meaning and purpose to their strenuous life of professional work. The main purpose of their work is the welfare of their family, and their children know this.

In other words, a successful father exercises leadership at home as much as on the job — and he does so in very similar ways.

What does this mean? Let’s first look at how a man typically exercises effective leadership in the workplace, and then let’s turn to see how the same attitudes and behaviors apply to leadership at home.

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Cherishable or Perishable?

Cherishable or Perishable - 1What are you trying to build in your organization or in your home? Are you trying to build something that will perish and will not last? Or are you building something that you and those around you will cherish for the rest of their lives?

There are several verses in Scripture that I could point to at this point. But I believe that the words and thoughts that I will share with you transcend because they are based in immutable truths. And the truth is that what we build with quality and upon good foundations is what is most valuable and will last the longest. And those become the things that we truly cherish.

What does it mean to build cherishable and not perishable? I believe it starts with a value system that values memories over material. In other words, it is a value system that would emphasize shared experiences over individual experiences. It is a value system that a person is worth more than the collective value of their “stuff”.

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Roles and Responsibilities – Money

Roles and Responsibilitues - MoneyI have been accused often of taking an approach that is too “business-like”. I like to take an analytical look at the world around me and my environment. That works well in the office environment. But folks tend not to like it very much when I am consulting with small churches about why they are still small and the others around them are growing. This same approach sometimes extends to my personal life.

One of the basic tenets of effectively executing a business objective is the correct identification and assignment of the roles and responsibilities of the members of the team. You may have a top performer in one area, but if they are assigned to an area that is not a strong suit, then things may not go as well as you would like. Of course they can use the assignment to “stretch” them and give them a valuable learning experience. But, you will usually not get optimal performance out of them in that situation.

So, this is “Manday”. What does this article have to do with that?

There are many roles and responsibilities that are often socially assumed to be the domain of us as men. One of the common ones is the handling of money. Many times we are the provider of the largest portion of the family income and it is easy to assume that we should then handle it and manage the disbursements to all of the family bills and obligations. That makes sense, right?

No always!

This is an area that we as men need to take a real hard look at and discuss with our wives whether or not it really should be our primary role and responsibility. In many marriages there are a myriad of things that one partner is good at and the other is not. And the handling of the family budget is usually one of them. But it is also one that carries with it the burden of a traditional or social norm that it is the man’s job to handle the money.

I challenge you as a man today to examine this vital role and responsibility within your family. Are you the best one for the job? If so, do it with diligence. If you are not, then delegate it decisively.

I want to make one final point. This is not a “free pass” to totally abdicate any responsibility for the hard work of managing the family budget. This is especially true when the outflow exceeds the income. No one likes paying the bills when there is not enough to go around. So, in those tough situations, work together to establish the priorities and establish a spending plan that both of you agree to completely. Then, the one with the role and responsibility of executing that plan can do so with the full knowledge and support of the other.

Happy “Tax Day” everyone!


 Photo credit: teamjenkins / / CC BY-NC-SA

Fun with Father – Elementary Age

Fun with Father - ElementaryLast week I tried to present some very practical things that we as Dads can do with our young children.  Sometimes we don’t feel very creative or we feel a little self-conscious about playing with them down on their level.  And that is OK.  But, I wanted to offer up a few fun (and inexpensive) things that will allow you to intentionally make time and find time to spend in play with your elementary school aged kids.

This week I am moving up a little on the development scale and looking at some practical ideas for spending intentional time with our kids when they are elementary aged.  Our kids have not yet begun to approach the dreaded teen years.  And we are still heroes to our kids and well-liked by them for the most part.

So, what can we do with our kids at this stage of their lives.  Consider the following:

  • Have a movie marathon (this is great for rainy or snowy days): It is so easy to have access to tons of movies and entertainment today. There is Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and a whole host of others. Find a family friendly movie and sit down together and watch it. Make some popcorn and enjoy the time together.
  • Try out new restaurants: Many nice restaurants have lunch menus with smaller and less expensive portions. Save up and splurge on a nice restaurant and practice being grown-up and eating at grown-up places. But, please, curb your expectations. This may be the first time for them and it is not reasonable to expect them to actually be little adults.  This reminder is good for us to recall from time to time.
  • Special Food Treat Day: Spend the day searching for new and interesting special treats. Or, seek out a new place that serves your favorite treat.  Find the best snow cone stand, the best ice cream parlor, the best frozen yogurt or custard stand, or any other special treat.
  • Do the things others would do if someone comes to visit: Make time to do the “touristy” things that you never have time to think about or do. Act like a tourist and spend a day doing and seeing the things you normally skip over.  These are the very things that you wish you would have done after you move away from here and go to a new place far away.
  • Make an obstacle course: Build an obstacle course in the yard with balls, bats, and other gear you probably have lying around for some fun and exercise. And run the course together! Don’t just build it for them. Do it with them.  Remember last week I said that our kids need to see us playing and being silly from time to time.
  • Introduce the kids to old school TV: Do you have a love of Fraggle Rock or the Muppets? Go back even farther in time and introduce them to The Andy Griffith Show, Lucy, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, The Walton’s, Saved By The Bell, or some other older TV shows. Daddy Time is a great time to show your kids your “classic” favorites. Netflix or Amazon Prime are a great source for old school TV fun.
  • Board Game Day: How about a board game day as a way to have some and pass the time on a rainy or snowy day. Go find those games in the hall closet and spread them out on the dining room table. Be patient. These games may be new to them. And remember, kids have a strong sense of justice and fair play.  Did you ever have a Monopoly Marathon when you were a kid?  Go grab the play money from all the other games and make colossal loans so the game goes on and on.
  • Go on a Photo Safari: Grab your digital cameras, smart phones, DSs, iPads, etc. and head out for a walk. Have everyone take pictures of the same thing to see what kinds of different results everyone gets. Print them on photo paper at home and put them up on the refrigerator or make a gallery on the wall.
  • Bust out the hose: If it’s a nice hot day pull out the hose and wash the car. And you know that things will deteriorate into a full-fledged water battle before long!
  • Do nothing day: Let everyone sleep in. Stay in your PJs all day. Do as little as possible all day long. This will be more fun for the older kids than the younger ones!

Don’t over think this.  The point is to get out and have fun.  Or stay in and have fun.  Your kids won’t care whether it is out or in.  All they will care about is that you spent the day with them.  So, leave your phone on vibrate and let all but the most important calls go to voice mail.  These days will pass by quickly.

Don’t make me break out Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle“.


Photo credit: jeck_crow / / CC BY-NC-ND

Financier, Friend or Father — Part Three

father-son-13_lIn parts one and two we looked at two of the many roles that a father plays.  We looked at him as financier where he has a role in being a provider for the family.  But we saw that being a provider is not what our family needs from us the most.  We then looked at his role as a friend and how hard it is to be something much more than our child’s buddy.  In this, our last installment of the series, I want to explore the most important role that a man will play in life and his relationship to his children.

Father – “Father knows best.”

>Boy, I really wish this last statement were true 100% of the time.  We all know it isn’t.  But at the end of the day, we are responsible.  President Harry S Truman said, “The buck stops here.”  And the “buck” of responsibility stops with the father.  Another way of looking at it is this.  “We may not always be right, but we are always the parent.”  And we need to act accordingly.  We need to step up and make the tough decisions.  We need to make decisions that may be unpopular with our children.  And we will make some bad decisions.  And when we make a bad decision or a mistake, we need to acknowledge it.  Our children will not lose respect for us when we admit a mistake.  In fact, the opposite is true.  They will come to respect us even more by seeing that we love and respect them enough to acknowledge when we have failed them.Father and Son Blurred

I think homes in America today are places of “Fatherhood Vacuums”.  Divorce has ravaged our families, our homes and our society.  And so often, Mom has had to step in to fill the void left by an absent father.  There can even be fatherhood voids in homes where the father still remains.  How tragic is that when a father is present physically but absent emotionally?

So what is my point today? 

My point is this.  Is it my role primarily to provide for the needs of my family if possible?  Absolutely!  But that is not the most important role that I have.  Is it my role to be a friend to my children and build a relationship of closeness and camaraderie?  Absolutely!  But of the three roles, financier, friend and father, being a real father is the most important of them all.

Go be a “father” today!

Photo credit: Thomas Leuthard / / CC BY
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