Father’s Day

I’ve started to see the advertisements/memes show up online and, every year, it makes me think about the day itself.  I still remember when I found out we’d be having a son.  The thought was so intimidating.  I talk to guys with daughters and, yes, they have their own set of stuff to deal with.  Having a son, though, that was big.

That was an existential crisis.

Not just carrying on the family line, but having a copy of you, a young man to try to mold into the man you want him to be.  Carter came along on a warm night in August 2008 and our lives changed forever.

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He turns ten in August and there’s a few things a decade of fatherhood has revealed.

  • Dad is not perfect.  For every Hallmark moment there are a dozen that you go to bed praying you don’t repeat the following day.
  • Dad takes work. If you slack, it impacts the entire family.  You need to be a mix of servant and leader, and if that seems scary you are right, it is.
  • Dad means learning to improvise. Maybe work was hard, the project wasn’t finished and you are on your 50th hour of the week by Thursday afternoon. Still you have kids waiting for your attention when you get home.  Maybe it means a playground trip or getting a pizza. Be creative, it will take the edge off.

The hardest lesson, and the thing I feel like God has been working through recently, is that we learn in loss.

We learn in dealing with our kids and their emotions in the hard stuff of life.  We face down the bullies, the mean kids, the ones who find a need to break hearts.

Carter’s passion is baseball (he plays on a tournament and a travel team).  This had led to valuable lessons on adversity, victory, and defeat. Kids need to learn how to lose, that it is not all about them and they are a part of a team.  They need to learn empathy and, as they do, we do as well.

There are moments when you’re tired.  The last button is pushed, you’ve separated the last fight between siblings. You are face to face, loud, emotional and tears are shed. You walk away.  All the old ghosts appear and you question your competency in the first place.  Shouldn’t they have a license or something for this?

Then before bed they walk over to you and say “I’m sorry daddy. I love you.” And they hug you and your heart breaks and mends in one moment.

That’s the lesson of Father’s Day.  It isn’t the picture perfect dads that have it all together. It is making magic out of the mess, it is forgiveness and love and grace when you feel like you don’t deserve it.

It is when they teach you about yourself and you grow.

Together.

Allow me to Reintroduce Myself

It has been a while.

I left off here in a dark place. In the few months since, things have changed. I’d looked in the mirror, stared into the abyss as it looked back at me.

I realized a few things.

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Ironically, it took watching Tony Robbins on his Netflix documentary to help see the truth. To look at some limiting beliefs, to realize what I’d cost Val and the boys over the last ten years.

Things have changed.

I’ve given myself permission to be the best father and husband I can be, to be my own man and stand on that foundation.  We cleaned out our house taking almost twenty bags of various things to be donated/trashed. My book collection is down to a few volumes of importance (everything from here out will be digital).

Some weight has lifted.

I started a new job, taken far too long to settle back into writing. I’ll start my first season as head coach for Carter’s baseball team this spring with opening day on April 1st. We are making steps towards a more purposeful life.

The boys are still crazy and active. They still surprise us with what they do and say on a daily basis.

So this blog will be a return to the words, the calling to put things down on paper, to stay honest, to honor the permission to write.

That’s the biggest thing that’s hit me in the past few months.

I’m allowed to learn and grow, to not have all the answers. To be a father and figure it out on a daily basis.  To be a husband and do the best I can. To be a writer no matter where the words end up.

To reach an audience because I know you are still out there. You’ve been there like me and you’ve grown.

To know that it’s okay as we go forward.

I hope you’ll join me on this new start.  Through a crazy baseball season and busy summer of sports for Aiden and Carter, trips to the pool and our first family vacation. Many stories wait to be told and I’m excited to see how they end up.

And I’m okay.

It’s taken a long time to get there, but I think I’ve finally found the starting point, the foundation to look towards the future and I’ll take that for 10:09 PM on a Tuesday night.

 

Flat-lined Faith

You know what I’m talking about.  Maybe you’re there right now.

You’ve defined yourself as a “believer,” grown up in church and played the role.  Tragedy strikes, life steps in and suddenly you are lost and drifting on a stormy ocean. You feel disconnected to those around you.

There’s a void getting way too comfortable as it hangs over your shoulders.

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I spent two years working in an emergency room doing insurance stuff and dealing with patients. It was a chance to see both sides of life.  People would arrive ready to give birth and leave a few days later as new parents. Others would arrive and never leave.

Word spread whenever a “code” came in. These individuals were either dead or dying.  I watched the families arrive and it killed me inside.

It also made me thankful.

Our zero moments give us clarity, understanding for what he have, had, and may get in the future. They push us to pivot in a new direction.

This week you’ll find some guest posts focusing on Faith and Life in Action from people who have made the journey and experienced all sides of it. They’ve had their zero moments and found ways to recover.

The temptation is to stay lonely.  Know that it is not an option. Find connection, community, and family. We are not created to live in a void.

We are created for life. We are created to regain strength and live electric moments of dangerous faith and love. We are created to serve.

My prayer from day one is that these words would make a difference. If they hit home for you or someone you love, feel free to share them and keep checking in as the story only grows from here.

~Matt

The Seed

Every movement starts in a moment. It starts in a moment of choice, the determination to do something and go forward. God places these seeds in our lives throughout the years. I think back to my own life experience and can find the blocks that have landed me here. The rough part of life is that bad and stressful times tend to hang on in our heads much longer than peace and joy.

I went to the library today and picked up Chuck Pagano’s new book.  Chuck is the current head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. You can see a promotional clip from the book below:

He mentions his cancer diagnosis and his battle with the disease. He talks about learning from his fight and that is an important point. We must learn from our difficulties and our struggles.

My wife and I were eating dinner tonight and wondering what we did back in the years when things were simple, back before bills and kids and when the greatest stress was what to do on a Friday night. I’ve been blessed with every moment we’ve had together and yet, I know our hard times have shaped our relationship even more than the easy. We’ve always banded together in adversity. We’ve always faced problems together and handled issues as they arrived.

Life is a refinement process. When the days get dark, when profits slim and doubts creep into your mind, don’t forget that struggles will pass and you will find a seed to generate motivation and movement. Time is important and how you use it can truly determine your destination.

~Matt