Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For Fathers of Daughters...

Dear Dads,

Do you remember the day she was born? The moment that shear panic gripped your soul because you held in your giant hands a tiny baby girl? What's a man to do with a girl? Doesn't raising boys come more naturally? Yet somehow that baby girl grabbed a hold of your heart with her tiny fingers, squeezed it real tight, and hasn't let go since!

Raising girls is a different kind of challenge. I know, I have two and I was a girl once myself! They can be emotional, dramatic, hormonal, and unpredictable. You're doing your best. You provide for her, comfort her, and protect her. Those are all important things but there's more...much more.

As a woman, I have met a lot of broken women. Not all of them, but quite a few of them have this in common...they lacked the presence of a father in their lives. In some situations the father wasn't around at all in others he was too busy or too focused on other things. Don't ever underestimate the importance of being a present active participant in your daughter's life. How she experiences love and acceptance from you, will shape her view of how she should experience love and acceptance from men when she is older.

Be the kind of husband to your wife that you want your daughter to marry some day. She's watching whether you realize it or not. How you treat her mother is how she will think she ought to be treated. Does she see you being affectionate, respectful, helpful, and encouraging with her mother? Are you the same way with her?

Do you build your daughter up the way you cheer on your son when he hits a home run? Does she know that she is smart, kind, beautiful, talented? In a world that regularly tells girls and women that they are not skinny enough, pretty enough, etc. does she know that she is more than enough in your eyes?

Love her like God our awesome Heavenly Father loves you. Extend her the same grace and forgiveness that you have received from Him especially when she disappoints you. If you do this then she will always know that no matter what she can come to you and find open arms instead of judgement. Loving her like God loves you invites her to learn from her mistakes, grow wiser from them, and receive forgiveness from her Heavenly Father as well.

I know it's a tall order. It's impossible without God's help but you can do it.  All of us women who were once Daddy's little girls know that you can. You look in the mirror and see a mere man. We look at our dads and see Superman... that's how confident we are in you.  So grab your cape and head out into the great unknown of raising a daughter, but go knowing that God's already given you all that you need to do the job.

Happy Father's Day to all of you wonderful Dad's out there. Thank you for your love, leadership, presence and the many sacrifices you make day in and day out! Your daughters love you!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lessons From Hank...

My buddy Hank died two weeks ago. He was ninety one years old. Most would describe him as stubborn, grumpy, and self centered. Those were just symptoms. Hank was really lonely, misunderstood, and looking for love and acceptance...although he could truly be grumpy and stubborn at times!  I've learned a lot from Hank through the years.  Probably the biggest lesson I have learned is how to really hear someone.

Hank was a talker. He told stories non-stop. He was always the main character of the stories he told. He was the smart one, the strong one, the brave one, and the ambitious one. If you listen to a person long enough and really pay attention, you can hear the deeper plot.  You see, Hank really was all those things he portrayed himself to be, but he was also a lot more. In the listening I learned valuable lessons.

Hank's life stories reminded me that money doesn't buy friends. Money doesn't even guarantee your family will like you let alone love you. Money doesn't buy happiness.  In fact, no matter how generously you give of your money to help others or support a good cause, if you can't do it expecting nothing in return you might as well not do it at all. Hank was a very generous man who was often hurt because people seldom said thank you. He let the hurt make him bitter. So bitter at times that he wasn't able to see the people in front of him who loved him with no strings attached. You had to be able to let that go if you loved Hank. I did.

Loving Hank taught me that the world is full of ornery old men that no one wants to bother with. No one wants to bother with them because who knows what to do with them? What makes old men ornery any way? Is there a way to get the ornery out of the old man? The answer is love. The ornery is just the mask they wear to hide the hurt and the loneliness. Love them, listen to them, accept them as they are. Remember the ornery old man is someone's brother, father, or grandfather. Love them like you would love your own. This is the only way to get the ornery out of the old man!

Hank was my reminder to live a life of no regrets. Hank worked so hard and so late into life that he didn't marry until he was in his fifties. He once told me he wished he hadn't waited so long because then he would have had children. Don't spend your life chasing things and miss what is truly important.  Say your "I love you's" now, play with your kids now, spend time with your spouse now, go visit family now.  Things will always be there but people won't. Life is full of moments you can't get back. Don't miss them because you are too busy building your financial future or keeping up with the Jones'.

Finally, there is this.... Hank was wealthy by this world's standards but the poverty in his soul was incredible! Don't assume that someone who has everything wants for nothing more. Sometimes the richest people are actually the poorest. Love them like Jesus loves them so that you may have the opportunity to point them to Him. Once they find Him they will truly be rich!

I thank God for Hank. I am thankful for every story I sat through, every conversation, every Christmas, and every hug we shared. Though I miss him, I know I will see him again someday.