Tag: Kids

Baby Girl

We are beautifully unprepared for changes in life. We live vicariously with the allusions of control through our planners, to-do lists, social media profiles, Google, and all the trappings of apps for any problem we might have. Often, our most remarkable transformations happen when we lose the allusion of control in the midst of a life-altering change.

My wife, Robyn, and I are weeks out from expecting our first child, a baby girl. When it comes to these changes, I try to go into an extremely practical mode. Is the nursery set? Can we secure the car seat? Even now, I’m finalizing the communication plan for when Robyn goes into labor. All these details probably reveal my desire for some semblance of control while recognizing that I have very little.

It’s a precarious time to prepare to parent, let alone parent a daughter. Robyn and I have discussed the news headlines and the ongoing conflicts in culture appearing right before our eyes. I know we’re not alone, but there’s an enormous amount of fear and anxiety for the future.

Added to this preparation, I have the unique insight on current affairs from a pastoral and theological background. It’s a privilege and joy to think deeply about how the Gospel transforms the world around us. The temptation in exploring this field of study is cynicism. As much as theologians and pastors study grace, forgiveness, hope, and faith, there’s an acute awareness of sin, depravity, pride, greed, and injustice. The latter can lead to cynicism. I wish I could turn off the constant conversation in my brain, but it goes without saying that to understand how God is at work in the world you have to recognize the darkness.

Recently, my mind started running on the hamster wheel of raising a baby girl in this dark time in the world. Cynicism rose to the surface. We talk about living in the hope of the “now, but not yet” in Jesus, but frequently the “now” seems louder than the “not yet.” In this cycle of thoughts, I heard these lyrics:

You’re the only thing that’s true
In this whole world of black eyed blues
And disillusioned points of view
And I won’t let go
She Said by Jon Foreman

These words come from Jon Foreman’s song “She Said.” Since hearing it, I have played it on repeat. The song can be described as a rebellious hope. That specific line linked together my own disillusioned view with knowing what’s actually true. Disillusionment and cynicism lead you away from reality. You can have a predisposition to only seeing the wrong without a blind eye to the beautiful and right.

What makes me listen to this song over and over again is looking for the beautiful truth. It starts with the simple things. I experience a miracle every day when I feel baby girl kick inside of Robyn. Both of us are overwhelmed by the people who not only support us, but already love this little girl who will enter the world in a few weeks. What is this? This is grace. This is hope. This is a reminder of Jesus and the Gospel.

Love is the antidote to cynicism.

We can fall into the trap of looking for a cosmic solution to the problems of the world. That will come, and we should pursue it now. Yet, let’s not miss the love around us right now. That’s why community matters. God created us to share life with each other. This extends far beyond those having children; it’s a normal part of those who experience the grace of God. Sometimes the loudest message of hope comes from the simple acts of love from the people around us.

Having a baby girl does emphasize a lack of control and can make you aware of a broken world, but even more so it points to the greater reality of hope. Jesus is making all things new. He brings miracles in the ordinary.

Baby girl, you are teaching your Daddy far more than you will ever realize.

Photo credit by Melvin Thambi

Reads of the Week | 12/05/2015

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These five reads from this past week challenged, encouraged, and provided perspective for me. Check them out for yourself.

Thanks to the Internet, Everyone is a Storyteller by Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff gives three ideas of using the internet to connect with your kids. Part of the genius of this article is your children can learn a little bit about your childhood and connect with you.

7 Habits of Leaders Who Inspire Loyalty by Harvey Deutschendorf

Harvey Deutschendorf provides seven habits of awareness of others. Inspire loyalty within teams means genuinely listening and taking time for others in our homes and workplaces.

The Legacy of George F. Johnson and the Square Deal by Guy Raz

I’m giving a little homage to my hometown, Endicott, NY. This article and radio story share about George F. Johnson, who brought business to my hometown.

Were you lonely when you were a freshman? by Brian Doyle

Doyle recounts his freshman year of college. His authentic reflection reminds us of the loneliness around us.

Always Advent and Never Christmas by Andie Roeder Moody

A call to recapture the celebration of Advent. Moody gives insight into the context of this season and provides practical thoughts on making the most of the season.

What were your reads of the week? Share the links in the comment section below.

Photo credit by Aleksi Tappura.

What Do You Say? | Guest Post by John Iamaio

During the week of Thanksgiving, you will have the opportunity to hear from five guest bloggers. They will be sharing about reflections related to the holiday season. Today’s guest post comes from John Iamaio. He’s married with two kids living in the Rochester area. Besides avidly following the Buffalo Bills, he serves as an Area Director for Cru Rochester. Follow him on his blog at https://johniamaio.wordpress.com/.

Since becoming a parent ten years ago, I have realized there are certain phrases locked into my subconscious that could only understand once I became a father. Who knew I would be the guy saying “If all your friends jumped off a bridge…” or the classic “because I said so, that’s why!”

One of the first times I could tell this part of I unlocked this part of my brain is when I started asking the question “What do you say?”

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There are two occasions when I utter these words. The first is after an egregious error on the part of a child (i.e., they hit another youngster with a blunt object). I want my kids to realize the pain they have caused. Their appropriate response in this scenario is “I’m sorry”.

The second time these words leave my lips is when someone has been gracious to my child. Perhaps their aunt has just crocheted them a brand new Snoopy sweater. Regardless of what the child is feeling inside, I instantly find myself asking, “What do you say?” In this case, the goal is to create a spirit of gratitude.

Does forcing your kid to say “Thank you” actually inspire inner thankfulness? Ummm… I have no idea! I’m not thinking when I say the words, remember?! The real question is “Why do we need a reminder to be thankful at all?”

Upon casual observation, it would seem that we are not naturally grateful people. Thankfulness is learned. It is something cultivated in our lives.

As we mature, many of us become accustomed to expressing thanks for gifts we have received or acts of service performed for us. This is a good thing. Having someone over your shoulder repeating the phrase “What do you say?” could get annoying.

Over the last few years, I have realized there is another level to thankfulness. It goes beyond being thankful for the “good” things in my life. It’s an ability to ask myself the question “What do you say?” even in difficult times. Every weakness, every trial, every failure is an opportunity to express a grateful heart. In the end, those experiences have shaped me as much as all the blessings and any success.

Dealing with a seizure disorder when I was young, made me keenly aware that life can be out of control. Working for uncaring bosses developed a sense of what it is like to feel unappreciated. Experiencing broken relationships, taught me that loneliness hurts. The list goes on and on.

In each of those cases (and many more), the negative circumstances I experienced gave me a slight appreciation of the deep hurts and wounds that people carry around in their lives. They have also shaped me into the person I am today.

Maybe our parents were right. Perhaps our lives would be happier if we learned to ask the question “What do you say?” a little bit more.

Photo credit by Arthur Rutkowski.

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