Are Kids Your Life?

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There are a lot of different viewpoints out there on the best way to raise your children.  All you have to do is bring up the question, “what do you think is best for your kids” amongst a room full of parents and you will soon have some very red faced angry parents as they duke it out for who is right.  In reality, there isn’t some secret all in one formula for raising your kids.  It’s just a matter of your viewpoint on what role kids have, and what your role as a parent is.

The bible talks about children being “arrows in one’s quiver”.  Arrows were used to fight, they were also used to hunt, they were tools in a sense.  Arrows when they are kept in a quiver aren’t of much use.  Arrows are to be shot out.

While I still have a lot to learn in the world of parenting.  Every day I am more and more convinced that the greatest gift I can impart to my daughter is teaching her the importance of life around her, and that there is a great big world that is hers for the taking.

I don’t think it’s any kind of coincidence that children pick up the quickest off watching their parents.  They see what we do and they mimic it.  This makes me all the more want to live a crazy adventurous, bold, courageous life.  Because I want my daughter to live that way.  I want her to know that the value of experiencing cultures outside her own to better understand other people far outweighs the value of a toy at a toy store.

I want her to know that she can do anything because she sees her mom and dad doing things that people call nuts, or over-board.  I want her to see that anything is attainable regardless of what people say.

I want her to see her dad honoring her mother.  I want her to understand that daddy takes mommy out on special trips sometimes alone to strengthen not only his marriage, but to strengthen his family.

Children are meant to come alongside and be a part of an adventure, be a part of their parents life until they are ready to make a way on their own.

But often kids are placed as the center of attention and as the center of life. Everything that one does is based around them.  This I believe not only breaks down the family as a unit, but it places unhealthy expectations on the kids.  They are looked to as a source of life, when they should be getting that from parents, (no wonder kids are growing up with no sense of direction or purpose), and further once the kids are grown and gone, the parents find themselves with no purpose.

In the last 25 years, couples who divorce after 50 has jumped from 8% to 25%.  Surprising?  Not really?  Not when parents stop having a relationship and make their kids their life.  They don’t have anything in common anymore once their kids are gone, because they’ve spent the last 20 years or so neglecting building a life and future, and strengthening their family unit, and their marriage.

My wife and I get asked all the time how or why we do so much when we have a child.  It’s not because we love her any less.  We do the things we are doing to make a better life for us and for our children, and for others.

As a father and husband, I want nothing more than to know that my family is cared for, safe, and has all the things they want and need.  But I also have to remember, that I am responsible for not just the care of my family, but for the care of orphans, widows, and others who don’t have a father looking out for them.  That’s the Biblical call, and that’s what I want my daughter to grow up knowing.

As long as I am on this earth I will care, worry, and provide for my daughter in anyway I can, but I cannot make her my one and only life, out of respect for her, and respect for my wife. I can bring her alongside of life, and show her a whole big world outside her own.

 

 

What Is Love

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What is love.  I mean really?  When you think about it how do you define love?  Hollywood defines it as purely an attraction thing.  Self help books define it as primarily a communication game.  Those who have been hurt define it as non-existent or stupid.

While all these things hit on a point of what love is, they are all incorrect in and of themselves.  I truly believe love is something that can’t be fully explained. It’s a feeling that pushes you to think about that person you love more than anybody else.  It causes you to put them first, and to think about them before making any decision.

It’s that feeling of excitement to see their face, to feel their arms around you.

It’s making that sacrifice when you’d rather do something else.  It’s romantic, it’s difficult, it’s joyful, it’s hurtful.  But no matter what it always endures.  It’s the not easiest road.

Opening up yourself to someone in complete love gives that someone the ability to hurt you, and hurt you deeply, and that is bound to happen at some level.  We are  not perfect, and as a result we have a tendency to let those we love down sometimes, to say that harsh word in anger, or to be less than kind.

But love is always both asking for forgiveness, and forgiving.  Seeing past the faults to the person’s core.

Demands

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Demands, we all have them.  Demands from our family, our work, our church, our social groups, our peers, our teachers, our professors.  Almost everywhere we look there is something that requires our attention.

So how do we balance all this?  One word, “no”.  It’s an incredibly simple word, in fact it’s one of the first words we learn to say as we grow up, but somehow we lose our ability to say it.

We grow wary of telling someone no for fear of disappointing them, or looking like we can’t handle what they are asking of us, so we over commit ourselves and find that we have no time for the things we want to do.

While some demands you can’t say no to, (unless you want to go without food or a roof above your head), there are plenty of demands that you can and should say no to.

Time is the most valuable thing and it’s something we can never get back.  Think about that the next time someone asks you do to something, is it a distraction, a time eater that will keep you from pursuing your goals?  If so, the answer is no.

Kids Are Not An Excuse

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I recently came across an article on Huffington Post which in a nutshell said how dating and time with your spouse was never the same after having kids.  While there is nothing wrong with doing lots of things with your children, there are times when you need to do things without them, but let me explain.

I love my daughter with all my heart, she is my pride and joy, and love getting to spend time with her.  Because I love her so much, I realize it is very important to make time for my wife and I to spend alone, date nights, one on one, without our daughter.  A getaway now and then by ourselves is also so important.

You see as parents it’s our job to teach our kids how to have good character, good morals, and a healthy outlook on life. If I don’t model a good relationship in my marriage, that is like teaching her that bad moral values are okay.

I want my daughter to grow up knowing that her parents care enough about each other to value each other, and to spend time together.  I want to teach her that mommy and daddy need alone time sometimes so that we can be a stronger family, with firm relationships.  I want her to know that our wedding anniversary is a special event that should be held dear.

As a teenager I want her to secretly be glad that she knows her mom and dad love each other enough to still go on dates, even if it may gross her out a little, someday she will look back on that and smile.

By making time for my marriage, I am helping to build a picture of what she should look for in a man.  If she never sees me “dating” her mother, how will she know what healthy dating looks like?  How will she know the balance of having her own marriage and her own children someday if she doesn’t learn it from me and her mother.

My faith is very important to me, and nothing can replace prayer or alone time with God. In the same way nothing can replace alone time with my wife.  That doesn’t mean all other aspects aren’t good.  They are.  But so is alone time.  Kids should not be an excuse to never date your spouse anymore, if anything they should be an excuse to continue it all the more.

 

I Was Wrong

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“I was wrong”, that’s something I know I hate saying, and I would imagine a lot of people have trouble saying that.  It admits we messed up, it admits we aren’t perfect, and it admits we have struggles to work through.

Furthermore when we tell someone that, it gives them power over us, that they were in the right.

But it is far better when we just admit we were wrong, apologize and move on, striving to be better next time.  By doing this first we save ourselves from being defensive, from saying things in anger that we don’t mean, and from fighting with someone we care about.

“I was wrong”, three simple words that we should get more comfortable saying.  It doesn’t mean we are weak, it doesn’t mean we are inferior, it means we can admit that we have faults, and areas in our lives that need improvement.

Don’t be afraid to say when you are wrong.

Fears, Doubts, and Worrying

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I was talking with a very good friend of mine and we were discussing how hard it is sometimes to find your purpose or value.  I’ve gone through times when I’ve had struggles with identifying with who I am as a person.

This came from a lot of different things.  Including hiding a lot of who I was, fearing that things I wanted to do or be were not acceptable.  Then add on the aspect of having a family to care for and needing to provide for them.

Both of these combined kept me from really allowing me to come out.  I tended to live a life of lies, or at best just stuffed down who I was.

This may seem like not a bad thing, but it is really bad for you when it builds up over years, you lose sight of who you are and forget what is important to you.  couple this with fear, fear of the world, of others opinions, and you have a recipe for a possible breakdown.

It’s taken me a long time to rediscover who I am.  I’ve had to for my own personal well being as well as for my wife’s and child’s sake.  They need me to live out my life.  We often think that if we give everything we have to our family it is a good thing.  Don’t get me wrong we need to make sacrifices and provide for our families, but when we make our family everything we actually hurt them.

Because your family needs you, and your individuality as much as it needs you for them.

Lay aside the fear, the doubt, the worry.  Take up your dreams, your passions, and your life and live it to the fullest.  You and your family won’t be happy until you do.

Living A Lie

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Sometimes there are points in our lives when we come to a discovery of ourselves.  We find ourselves seemingly for the first time.  Sure we’ve always known who we were, but  not really.  We’ve seen it through jaded eyes, through the lens of others expectations.

We have this tendency in life to think that if someone else doesn’t pursue the career choice that we deem best, then they are going about it wrong.

Or if they are raising their kids different than us then they are in the wrong.

Or if they are pursuing a relationship that we disagree with they are headed for trouble.

All this is just us being insecure and feeling we need to validate the way we live by invalidating other people.

Each of us as individuals is unique, none of us have the same exact personalities, dreams, or passions, and we shouldn’t.

Encourage others to go after things that are way different than how you would do it.  We need more creative people, more diverse actions.

Don’t live a lie because someone else thinks you should do plan A or B. And don’t make people feel that they have to live a lie because you think differently.

We are meant to build each other up.  Let’s start today.

Stop Using Your Kids As An Excuse

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My wife and I discovered something after we had a child.  It’s really hard for us to ever hang out with anyone with kids.  Most of our friends are either single, or married without children.

Why is this?  Well, it’s pretty simple, we’ve found a lot of parents who use there kids as excuses of why they can’t do something.

As a parent now for 2 years I don’t understand this concept at all. My wife and I have a lot going on, between both of us working going to school full time, hitting the gym 5 times a week, plus my wife runs a non-profit, as well as her own business. This is aside from our blogging, e-books, and other projects we have going on.  Yes we are extremely busy, but we don’t know any other way.

So naturally we brought our child into the world expecting her to be a go getter.  And that she is.  When she knows we are going somewhere she runs and grabs her shoes, starts laughing hysterically and then proceeds to beat on the front door until we leave.  She loves to be on the go as much as her parents.  She is very used to going everywhere, she never meets a stranger, and has no fear of anything.

We love this, we want her to see by example how to live a full life.  As a dad it scares the crap out of me all the time when I hear crazy stories in the news, and I will probably be stalking her first boyfriend. But I want her to experience life, and experience it fully. I don’t want her to see her parents just wasting away time, watching TV and staying inside the house.  She is already learning this.

Kids are not an excuse not do things, they are all the more reason to do things.

What Scares You?

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We all can think of things that have a tendency to scare us. From things like heights, to snakes, to more difficult issues like being vulnerable, being honest etc.

It can be a scary thing to allow yourself to be vulnerable. After all isn’t that how people get hurt? Isn’t that how hearts get broken? Well in all honesty, yes.

But when we close ourselves off we may guard ourselves against getting hurt, but we also keep ourselves from experiencing some awesome adventures.

The truth is, yes, being vulnerable will hurt us at times, it’s part of the way life goes, but it will also bring us great joy. When we do get hurt we have to keep getting up and trying again, nothing good ever comes from staying down.

We don’t ever fully begin to live until we open up ourselves fully and embrace who we are, give ourselves the freedom to be vulnerable, and take the leap into vulnerability.  It’s scary, it won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.

3 Years Ago

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Three years ago today I was married. Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible it’s been 3 years, and other times it’s hard to even remember life before her. I don’t think either of us had a clue what marriage would be like (who does when first married?)

We’ve been through so much in just 3 years, wonderful times, fun times, and hard times.  We’ve traveled to three countries, had a daughter, moved five times, managed a family, work, and full time college, had our ups and had our downs.

While I wish I could say that all the bumps of marriage are over with, I know that I have a lot to learn still in the road to discovering both myself and my wife.

I am a different person because of my wife (and I mean that in a good way).

I still can’t wait to walk in the door at the end of the day and see her, I look forward to seeing her smile and hearing her voice.

She is now as much as the on our wedding day my one and true love.  I love you Heather Parady. Here’s to 3 years I would never trade, and to all the years to come.