Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Reflections; May 26, 2013

It is quiet here.  It is Sunday night and my daughter is at her Mom's parents spending the night.

It is how it is going to be here in three months as she heads off to college.

It is exciting and bittersweet, all at once.

I'm a very simple man.  I will not apologize for that.  I'm not for everyone - and sometimes I wonder if I'm for anyone - other than my parents and my daughter.

Some days life, emotionally, that is, is pretty challenging.

This weekend, though, has been good.

I had the chance - by race announcing - to support a new race in Montgomery on Saturday morning for a community that continues to mourn the loss of a second sister to a single family.

There were some minor hiccups, but nothing that ruined the spirit of the day.

I got to work with some great partners - the individual who supplied the sound (who has taken care of me at a number of other races and made me sound good) as well as the race timing company.

I believe that we were all able to provide a level of support that the new race director didn't have to worry about.

Today, our church had its graduation ceremony for its high school and college seniors.  My daughter was part of that group and she was asked by our Pastor to sing a solo.

She chose Francesca Battistelli's "It's Your Life", which was very fitting, given the day.

It is very satisfying to see how decisions you've made as a father - and where your heart's been led - have influenced your child and their decision-making.

However, I try not to force one day ahead of what she is experiencing today - other than to plan, of course.  Which is an appropriate exercise; however, I'm still excited about what God has in store for her in the years to come.

Me?  It is going to be a little bit of an adjustment.  I certainly have to get stronger and I believe that I have.

I've had to make some recent decisions that may have a reprecussion in a community that I'm a member of, but I can't leave myself unreasonably vulnerable again like I once did.

I once cost myself precious time with my daughter and I can't allow that to happen again.

When I meet people, right or wrong, I consider them a friend and I attempt to extend to them the same type of friendship that I have with my best friends.

Why shouldn't I attempt to give them - or everybody - my best?

Isn't this what God would want for us to do?

Is it risky?  Could I get hurt?  Yes, on both counts.  But at the end of the day, there's absolutely no regrets.  I get joy of being able to make that attempt to be everything I could, if they accepted it.  And that's the key point:  if the other person accepts it.

I had one situation where my daughter asked me, "Dad, why do you keep going back to that situation?"  And I think I remember my response to be, "I hate to feel as if I'm giving up on people."

Most people will - and reciprocate it appropriately.  A few won't, for whatever reason.

I just don't want this most recent situation to endanger my friendship with the person that knows the most about me short of my daughter.

We'll see.  I just have to pray that God takes care of everything.  In the meantime, I'll remove myself from some situations and just accept that it is what comes with the territory in trying to bring clarity to a situation that was troubling me.

It seemed that a person was seeking out my friendship perhaps, but when I tried to reach out, verify and act upon it ... I've been met with absolute silence.

Disappointing, for sure.  Expected?  Yes, kind of.

Without sounding like a braggard, it's their loss.  There's a lot of things that I'm not, but I have some admirable qualities about myself that are part of a healthy friendship.

I'll continue to look for ways to serve other people as God wants us to do.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day; May 12, 2013

Today’s Mother’s Day and I had the opportunity to honor my Mom by being in church with her.

The last time that I remember not being there was totally by accident.  I scheduled the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, which I think was in 2004.  It was in the first year or two that I started to run and it, of course, was a new high for me.

It was my fourth half marathon in five months (Houston, Little Rock and Columbus, Ohio being the other three).  She understood, often as a Mother does.

She was also there when I had the courage to run my first race – the four-miler at the Houston Marathon more than 10 years ago.  My daughter got sick so Mom stayed home with her and like a small child, I wanted my Mom to go with me to ensure that everything would be all right.

It was, of course, and I was able to take in an activity that has brought much into the world of my daughter – physically, emotionally, developmentally and eventually, spiritually.

Back to today … being there with them is the least that I can do, even though I fail daily in other areas in my life.  (Things, of course, that generally only God knows about.)

The greatest thing that my Mom gave me is the ability to love.

It is a great ability, and one that I’m thankful for, but what hurts is when that love that I offer to others is rejected or not fully reciprocated.  And that love isn’t necessarily a relationship type of love, but one of a deep, meaningful friendship.

Those times are the most sorrowful in my life and I’m thankful that God’s love is what allows me to function from day to day, when those times occur.

The love that my Mom imparted in me is what has allowed me to love my daughter unconditionally, and I’m thankful for it.

My Mom didn’t have a lot materially growing up.  Her older sister, who passed on way, way too soon (1990, I think), raised her the last two years before she married my father, and then had me.

I think this is why that I’m generally happy with what I have and that I don’t have to have the next big thing.  (Heck, for the moment, I’m still operating with a flip phone.  That generated a fun conversation yesterday morning with friends who are runners, but there are other practical folks still around like me.)

While in church this morning, I thought, though, how my Mom hasn’t had her Mom since she was a sophomore in high school – coming up close to 50 years.

I guess there’s one thing that I’m thankful for my parents for having me really, really early is that it is likely that I won’t live that long after she has passed on to have to endure such a loss.

I know that there was one other situation that troubled my Mom today, but it went unspoken although I could see it in her eyes.

It hurt me a little bit too.  However, there are things that I can’t control nor do I have complete knowledge of.

I thought of others whose mothers have passed on as well as those who have lost children before their time.  Our pastor also asked everyone to pray for those who couldn’t have children – and enjoy that gift from God.

Society, I suppose, says that I shouldn’t be as sensitive as a man as what I am, but I would like to think that it has given me a fighting chance of being a decent father to my daughter.

There are areas that I could have been more Christ-like, and it isn’t that I didn’t have the boldness but that just trying to remain happy and stable over the years – of having love rejected close to home – I loved her with everything I had.

Our pastor’s message today – “How to say, “Are you worth it?” - was the second on parenting and I’m thankful that I believe that I got some of it right.

Introduction:  Every child has four basic needs that should be met by their parents – Security, Self-Worth, Significance and Love.

Reality:  If they don’t find these at home, they will find them somewhere.

Principle:  Boys and girls have these needs fulfilled through one basic question they need answered by their parents.  A boy’s question, “Do I have what it takes (to be a man)?”  The end result is that “he is looking to impress.”  While a girl’s question is, “Am I lovely?”  With that she is trying to capture your attention.

Biblical Truth:  God’s greatest desire for parents is to raise Godly children.

“Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife?  In body and spirit you are his.  And what does he want?  Godly children from your union.  So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.”  Malachi 2:15 (NLT).

How to Bring Out the Best in Your Kids

Accept their uniqueness.  (I Corinthians 12:6; Galatians 6:4)

Affirm their value.  (Psalms 139:13-14; Proverbs 12:25)

Correct them without condemning them.  (Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 13:24; Ephesians 6:4, 4:29)

Love them unconditionally.  (Ephesians 4:32; I Corinthians 13:7)

Final Thought:  More of parenting is caught than taught (meaning that children pick more up of what they see behavior that a parent models as opposed to what a parent teaches a child.)

I would like to think that I was able to provide those four needs and that my daughter only augmented those through her involvement in our church’s youth activities and choir – and didn’t go seek them in the world.

I think the question of whether she knows that from her parents that she is lovely or not is easily answered.  She’s lovely inside and out.

I think God’s desire was met, through His will, but that the production of a Godly child was done separately by her parents not together.

I believe that I definitely got the last of the four points correct and that I did the other three reasonably well.  I’m sure, though, that I could have improved in those three areas.  It is likely that all parents can.

Since I don’t publicize this blog, there are many that will never read it – and actually that’s OK because it is another way for me to try and survive in this world.

I can’t take time to individually wish every Mom out there that I know Happy Mother’s Day and I think – for me – posting a blanket “Happy Mother’s Day” Facebook status would go over like a lead balloon and to some seem insincere.

However, there are those that I wish it was appropriate for me to hope that they have had a good Mother’s Day today because I know how much they love their children – in how much they talk about them without necessarily bragging on them.  To me, that speaks volumes.

I'll regret not doing so because I fear that they'll take it the wrong way, but I -- and God -- know(s) what was in my heart.

So all I can do is pray that they’re getting all of their needs met by God through the love of their children.  I suppose it is the least that I can do.