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Thursday, June 21, 2012


The attached article is a worthwhile read. So many good thoughts. What it brought to mind for me was (story time):

The writer mentions a scenario where a new dad should stand up for himself if someone puts him down as being clueless because he is "just the dad". I say, "AMEN!"

One time, I was talking with an older women, a lady who I respected, and my older two boys (24 and 21 now but who were maybe only 11 and 8 at that time) were near by and could hear our conversation. She repeated something I had heard her say several times before during the years I had known her. She stated, "Men are still just little boys you have to take care of," (she was referring to a primary relationship in her life). I politely and respectfully but firmly and clearly said, "You cannot ever say that around my children. If that has been your experience then I'm sad for you but you cannot say things like that around my sons” (and now I would add “or my daughter”).

In my lifetime men (and boys) have been told by both liberal and conservative groups that men have not done enough to take care of their families. To be clear - SOME MEN HAVEN'T. I have grown up watching movie after movie and show after show that depict men...and especially fathers...as being insensitive, self-centered, adolescent, self-absorbed a-holes. Some actors (and I like watching these guys) have made careers off of playing the character I just described...the jerk adult male who never grew up, never dealt with his "daddy-issues" and always puts himself and his personal angst before his family's needs (e.g. - Billy Crystal, Tim Allen, Eddie Murphy when he got older). These depictions almost always end with some great self-discovery that causes the main character to want to be a better father, husband and man.

Men, when you find yourself in a situation where this stuff is being dished out like it's the truth then it is time to properly identify it for what it is...BS! Do it nicely...do it politely...do it gentlemanly...but do identify it for what it is. My kids have grown up hearing me say (whenever they are watching a show like I mentioned above), "Oh, I know the name of this show. It's called, 'Dad's the Idiot'." In fact, now I just ask my younger two kids, "You know what the name of this show is, don't you?" and they know the answer (and sometimes, the answer is, "The Parents are the Idiots"...the Disney Channel has quite a few of these shows)

So, gentlemen...if you're being more like the guys at the beginning of these movies instead of the men at end of these movies then make a change. If your father was a terrible example or no example at all then look around and find some good ones because they are everywhere.

Ladies...if you have the thought and attitude that "all men are just little boys" then stop and ask yourself, "Why do I seem to attract and surround myself with dumba**es?" and then find some of these same examples of good men and great fathers I mentioned above so that you can have better men in your life (and possibly in your kids' lives).

I know some fathers who do a very poor job but I know so many more men who inspire me to be better for my kids and others in my life (some of these men are not fathers but the quality of their character encourages me to be better in my parenting). I know some very poor mothers but I know so many more women who inspire me to be better for my kids and others in my life. If, to you, either gender seems like they are all the same then let me help you with something...you need to open your eyes and your mind. If you look for all women to be _____, then guess what, you'll find the evidence to prove you're right. If you think all men are _____, then...(yeah...you know where I'm going with this.)

Now, please click the link and read the article. The writer, Valerie Isakova, does a better job than I do of listing some traits of good fathers...on the other hand, I do a better job of ranting ;-)

Cliff
Being a great father is like shaving.
No matter how good you shaved today,
you have to do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The fear that I sense rising in another does not cause me to become afraid.
The anger that grows and seethes in someone else does not bring anger into my mind and heart.
If they feel the need to judge, I do not have to judge them for doing so. 
Nor do I have to feel that I am the object of their judgment.

My life does not belong to them. My life does not even belong to me. The phrase “my life” is a misnomer. I did not give myself life. I cannot keep it forever. Life was given to me. I live it but I am only a steward of it. 

When I say “my life” this does not denote ownership but rather responsibility. I have been given a gift and how I manage it, help it to grow, waste it or share it may be within my power to some extent and for a limited period of time but ultimately Life is beyond my control and complete understanding.

Comparisons are a waste. They are judgments made to seek to add or subtract value to ourselves relative to others. I am of infinite value...not for how I think or look; not for what I have or give away; not for my accomplishments or perceived failures but because I am. 

You are of infinite value as well.

I have complete choice to love or not. I can give with no expectation of gaining a debt owed to me. I can “lay down” this life for another whether they give in return or not. 

I can choose.

I live in the same paradox that we all do...whether we recognize it or not...that it is often in letting go that we gain and when we try to hang on to something or someone we end up losing it or them all together. 

Many times life only makes sense when we cease our demanding that it must do so.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

It's not about where I'm going
or even the places I've been
It is the right here - right now
that is all-essential

Looking back is only good for
learning from and being thankful for
Gazing forward only helps to remind
that each future point in time
will have been influenced 
by how this moment is lived

Spending too much time dwelling on
the “then”
keeps us from indwelling
the “now”
Poets, sages and great leaders of faith
have taught this at different times
using similar words

It's not about where I'm going
or even the places I've been
It is the right here - right now
that is all

Monday, April 30, 2012

...and here we go...

Two steps forward
One step back
Run as fast as you can...but only in place and gain no ground
Deep breath

Relax
Shoulders back
Head up
Give thanks
Trust
Do what's right as best as you understand it
Trust that you understand it
Be humble enough to know that you don't always understand it
Trust that you will understand it if you stay humble
Deep breath again
Let go
Ask for help if needed
Focus
Smile
Laugh at yourself
Peace
Be Still
...and here we go...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

So a good friend of mine posted this song on his Facebook page today (thanks, homey). 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0TNR_9OxBQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player


I've never heard it before or of this artist. I love this song...the music and the lyrics. I listened to it a couple of times then checked out some info about the song online and came upon a website where different people post their thoughts about what a song's lyrics may or may not mean.

My take is that it is a love song (obviously) and one that could be seen as possible a song about the love of God or the love between people. The site I found had people posting similar thoughts...so, that's cool. Then I found one well written and thought-provoking post. Here's a portion of the post and why I find it a little disconcerting.

"I pray that I am wrong, because this song sounds like she is having a hard time. But given my finite-ness, only a bit of information and no perception of Lights motive/heart in writing, this is of course opinion. But it has encouraged me to pray for the broken hearted. Also, not to sound preachy, but if you are feeling broken hearted, you've had a tough relationship with God or you feel you're too dirty to come back to God...I just really want to encourage you to come home. Jesus cleans us of all sin, and he desperately wants to see you again. He remade my heart, he can do yours too. Love you guys."

I hear this person's heart of compassion and a genuine burden for other's to know God's love as he/she does. Nothing they say directly bothers or offends me. Here, though, is what I find more than a little confusing (and not just in the post but in my life experience in general):

When did faith in God become faith that does not struggle with the normal feelings and thoughts that all humans have? When did Christianity become so focused on the "victory" of the faith...the almost incessant focus on "overcoming" any and all struggles in life...that we hear so little about the truth that - sometimes life just sucks.

I have tried to teach my kids that, "When life is good, God is there. When life is hard, God is there." Faith that only sees the supposedly "positive" aspects of our existence is a one-sided faith...and one that I think is hiding a deep fear that maybe our faith...or even God...is not enough when we can't answer the hard question, "If God is all-loving and all-powerful then why do bad things happen to good people?" And whatever answer I might try to provide or theological perspective you may try to use to explain why a Good God allows evil and pain (and there are many great books and explanations by truly great minds that deal with these hard questions) the truth is that no answer is completely satisfactory in and of itself. It is only a close approximation at best of what the full truth is.

In the end, we can live with a secure faith and still struggle and wonder "why?" I believe God is much less vexed by the question that comes from a genuine heart than the quick and easy answer we give because we don't want to listen to the burden that another is feeling crushed under.

If you think God is not comfortable with people shaking their fist in the air and screaming "Why, God?"...then I would say spend some time in the Bible and see the pain expressed that GOD allows us to see there. You may want to start with the book of Psalms.

When life is good...God is there.
When life is hard...God is there.

Love you guys,
CL

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Drawers


A friend recently told me that we all need to learn to be able to (metaphorically speaking here) put some things away in a drawer for a while to be able to best focus on what is right in front of us...the things that are most important in that moment...in the Now. I have never been very good at this. I am beginning to understand how much this may be negatively affecting my ability to have peace in the things that I do. Not that I don't have peace ever or that I can't focus on what's important but rather, that I sometimes find myself while working on “A” also thinking about “B, C, D....”. I think my friend is correct. I am working on this.

Also, I think sometimes, if we are totally honest with ourselves, we find that we have some drawers open that we really should not focus on. Some should never be opened for at least a season of our life and others should be left shut forever. There are responsibilities we shouldn't take on. Some we take on consciously while others are accepted without us even knowing that we have done so. These obligations keep us from focusing on those people and tasks that are at the core of who we are and what we are to be about. As I heard one man put it, “You've got to pick important stuff because you've only got a limited amount of time.” To paraphrase: I've got to know which draws are the important ones and which one I should totally focus on at any given moment.

I have another friend who is a slob. I'm not judging but objectively...she is a slob. I have never seen her clothes dresser with all of it's drawers completely closed. There are clothes hanging out, things hanging off the top of the dresser and any sort of major disarray you can imagine. Big deal...right? Frankly, I don't care one way of the other how she keeps her dresser drawers but I have noticed this - she gets frustrated because she can't find things quickly and easily. She has to close one drawer to be able to get something out of the drawer below it (and amazingly, she then just leaves open the drawer she just accessed creating the same problem the next time she needs something). Maybe this is the way I should view my life sometimes. I have to move around task A to deal with task B so that things will be in order for when task C arises. Then later, I have to remember to move task B out of the way to get to task A again and on and on and on it goes...and don't even get me started on tasks D through Z!

So, I am working on two skills:
  1. Focus on that/who is in front of me at any given moment. Trust that what is before me is what is important in that moment.
  2. Be able to discern quickly which drawers I should open, which I should open at a later time and which I should never visit again.
Your life will be full of people who will try to get you to focus on the drawers (tasks, responsibilities, etc.) that they think you should make a priority. You're going to upset some people if you do this. However, this is your set of dresser drawers...this is your life...”You've got to pick important stuff because you've only got a limited amount of time”...and energy and ability and...

Right now, answer this question: What are the 3 to 5 main drawers I need to focus on?

For me, they are:
  1. Take care of my own personal development intellectually and spiritually. Without doing this, everything else will not receive my best efforts and energies.
  2. Take care of my health. Eat healthy and be active.
  3. Take care of developing my talents and strengths in my career and personal interests and try to have these two dove-tail as much as possible.
  4. Take care of my children but only in the ways that are appropriate. Do not do things for them that they can and should do for themselves. Do not “make up the slack” that others leave in their lives except when it would be detrimental to not do so (and this should be the exception).
  5. Be a good friend. Give when I can but know when I can't. Also do this with those who I may not know and from time to time, to my “enemies”...but only because I know the time is right, that I am the person put there to do it and that it will not get in the way of the other “drawers” I've just listed.
Now excuse me...I have some drawers to close.