Simple things

haircut

For the last 8 years, giving our son a haircut has been a struggle. He detests it. The cut hair falling on his face and everywhere else overloads his senses. My wife and I have tried many things to divert his attention with minimal success. We’ve also honed our cutting skills, so that it takes less and less time to complete the job. Still, he’s irritated and irritable every time we have to cut his hair.

Until last night. He had been growing his hair out (thereby by-passing the need for a haircut). It grew too long for him and he needed it to be cut. He sat on the stool and did not complain while I used the clippers to give him his traditional hairstyle back. No complaints. No harsh words. No antsy movements and whining “Are you done yet?” Nothing. It was fantastic! When he was done, he took a shower to get all of the hair off of him. He exclaimed while showering that he had gotten so used to “thick hair” that having his hair cut like this was “amazing!”

Driving into work today I was thinking about this whole episode last night. Honestly, it was nothing short of miraculous. Sometimes God works in mysterious ways, like parting the Red Sea. Sometimes He works in more apparent ways. That was the case last night with my son’s haircut. Thank you Lord for simple things. Amen!

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Record-breaking

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Yesterday where I live we broke the record for snow on that day in our history. It was a lot of snow in a short amount of time. But, the day after made for some beautiful pictures. When the storm is the worst and it doesn’t seem like it will ever stop, be reassured that the end is near and beauty and hope will be there on the other side.

Confronting my own self-doubt

irish steps sunrise

For the last two weeks I have really been down in the dumps. I’ve been put face to face with the questions of “Who I am?” and “What kind of person do I want to be?”. I haven’t been certain how to answer these questions in a way that leads to a positive result until today.

The backstory

In my job, I was told that I just didn’t have the creativity and passion in my writing on an assignment that it was thought that I should have. I just didn’t bring it. And the person that told me that was dead on. She said she was “on my side” and telling me this as an ally. I appreciated that. I just couldn’t produce at a high level. She reminded me that how good or bad the end result is depends entirely on the work that is put in in the trenches.

I have absolutely no formal coaching training. I have a passion for the sport of soccer and I think I have some skill for coaching. Or at least I thought I did, until a parent told me that I deliberately created two tournament teams with 100 percent unfair rosters, leading to one team that was destined to lose. That wasn’t the way to coach and create a positive and encouraging environment, this parent said. Although the other volunteer coach and I did not agree with her, I took a step back to see the argument from her perspective. It gave me the opportunity to reevaluate how and why I volunteer coach.

Just as I was thankful for the advice of the person at my office, so too was I thankful for that opportunity to examine my coaching philosophy.

Fast forward to today

Today rolled around and I took stock of these things. What I realized is that God played a central role in all of this. These two weeks were a valley that He was leading me through. It was an opportunity for introspection. I am thankful to God for the opportunity. It wasn’t easy. It really made me question who I was and what I was doing.

This is the great thing that became crystal clear to me today: These struggles have strengthened my faith in Him. He is my rock and my strength. God is there no matter what and he sent these messengers into my life to challenge me because I was becoming complacent. He also showed me the people in my life that really care about me and will stand up for me in times of need. I needed that. I need Him.

Discouraged

img_2606This week has been one of the most discouraging weeks I’ve had in a long time.

From Monday on, life did everything it could to bring in to question what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, why I’m doing it, and if I should stop doing it. It was rough, to say the least.

This discouragement made me question my role as a husband, a father, a coach, etc. It made me question if it was even worth it anymore.

I was low.

Yet, all around me, God was there. He sent me encouraging messages. He made it known that the valley I was walking through would end if I followed Him. There really was light at the end of the tunnel.

Before, I don’t think I would have realized all that He was doing in my life. But now I do, and as I write this, the discouraged feeling that was squarely stuck in my mind for the entirety of the week is gone. It is replaced with a peace and understanding that God is Great. God is my strength in times of discouragement. He is positive. He is encouraging.

So, when you get down, look up. He is there. He will listen. He is love and He will shoulder your concerns. He is a good father. He is someone I want to be like. And that is certainly a most encouraging thought!

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Soul on Fire

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My car's radio set to K-Love

This morning, driving in to work, the sunrise over the trees was in the rearview mirror as I drove westward. It was a blaze as it rose and burned into the early morning winter sky. The temperature was about 6 degrees. The roads were clear. It was cold, but not bone-chillingly so. It was good ride in to the office.

The reason for this was not just the weather, though. It was how the weather made me feel. I felt GOOD. I was singing (badly, I’m sure :-)) to the positive and encouraging tunes on the radio from K-Love as I drove. I was at peace with the world. And it was because I’ve opened my heart to Jesus and given my life over to God. It is such an awesome feeling.

Now, I also know that God will take me through valleys. Yet, through His strength I will make it through. That thought, in and of itself, is the most peace-inducing thought I’ve had in a very long time. Before, I would have been ashamed to talk about my faith. I wasn’t a believer. I hadn’t opened my heart. I didn’t understand.

That was then. This is now.

I’m at peace because I know the Big Man Upstairs has it. I know I can lift my concerns up to Him and He will listen. I know I experience joys and blessings in life because of Him and I thank Him for them.

These lyrics from Third Day’s song Soul on Fire capture it best:

Lord, restore the joy I had
And I have wandered bring me back
In this darkness, lead me through
Until all I see is You

Thank you God.

Amen.