Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Always Liked Roller Coasters

I'm finding it interesting the direction my blog has taken over the last year or so from when I started writing. My original intent was to spend most of the time commenting on current events and issues, however, as it continues to evolve, I'm finding it's taking a more personal direction. I still get into current events occasionally, but it seems lately this has been almost like therapy for me as I work through all the crazy stuff that floats around my head. That being said, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I wrote in my last blog about all the changes and transitions that are happening in the life of my family this year and how excited I was about them. I am still extremely excited, however, the reality of that much change combined with our incredibly busy schedule has really thrown me for a loop recently and I find myself struggling to trust God and let Him be in control.

In the end that's what this is really all about, me trying to micro-manage everything, which never really works out all that well. You would think that I would have learned that lesson by now, but no, I'm just as stubborn about it as I ever was. Instead of looking back at how God has always provided and sustained me, I continue to worry at each turn and try to control everything. As I'm finding out, I really can control very little and that just adds to the frustration. Still, I believe God is using this to mold and shape me into the person He desires for me to be. As I continue to struggle, He is always faithful, even when I'm not. I've always found it interesting that in the Old Testament God named his chosen people Israel, which literally means struggles with God.

This journey is full of change and as much as I like to think I deal well with change, I really don't. I'm sure my wife will attest to that. It's funny, in the midst of all this anxiety, I caught the last 30 minutes of the movie Parenthood the other night and found myself completely identifying with Steve Martin's character as all the craziness of his life was overwhelming him. But in the midst of all that was going on, his grandmother comes into the room and starts telling this story about how much she always liked roller coasters better than the merry-go-round. Even though the roller coaster had a lot of ups and downs, shook you around, and could be quite scary at times, it was still a lot more fun and exciting than the merry-go-round that just simply went around in a circle constantly viewing the same scenery over and over again. What a great analogy to life. Yes, life certainly has its ups and downs and can shake you around a bit, but it's through those times that we grow and learn to trust God. We can appreciate the highs much more after having been through the valleys. If we choose to embrace the roller coaster instead of fearing it, when we get to the end of our life we'll be able to look back and say "what a ride!".

So, despite everything, I think I'll choose the roller coaster as well. It's just more fun.

God Bless,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Looking ahead to 2010

Where in the world did 2009 go? I think that may have been the fastest year ever, at least in my lifetime. I really don't know where the time goes. But then again with 3 kids all involved in sports and other activities, work, church, etc. I guess I do know where it goes. I just wish it would go a little slower sometimes so I could enjoy it more. Everything except for work that is, I wouldn't mind that passing a little faster.

I know my wife thinks I'm a little obsessed with sports, especially when my children are involved, and she's probably right, but there are few things in life that are more enjoyable for me than watching them compete in their various sports. In an era when so many kids prefer to stay home, watch tv, and play video games, I'm really proud of my kids for spending time working out in the gym and on the track to prepare themselves for their sports. They all work very hard in the off-season and in practice and it shows when their on the field/court. I don't know where they'll end up going in their athletic careers, but the lessons of hard work and preparation will go with them in whatever they do.

I can't believe that my oldest child is about to turn 14 (not really a child anymore, he's almost as tall as me) and will be starting high school in the Fall. At the same time my oldest daughter will be starting middle school and my youngest will be the last one in elementary school going into 3rd grade. It will be a big transition for everyone come August and will be the first time we've had 3 kids in 3 different schools. We've definitely moved into a new phase in life and I for one am enjoying it, even though it does make me fell a little old and tired.

With all this change going on, I've been finding myself in a very reflective mood lately, thinking back to my high school and middle school days. I've found myself listening to a lot of 80's music and reminiscing. I think my kids are tired of hearing dad's stories of the old days, but I hope they have as much fun in middle school and high school as I did. Plus it's really fun to embarrass them by turning the old music up really loud and singing along when their friends are around. I've been trying to get them to appreciate this time in their life and not keep wishing they were older. This has been especially hard with my 7 year old, who just doesn't understand why she can't do everything her brother and sister can, even though she gets to do way more than they ever did at her age.

Of course the difficult thing is to not try and relive my youth through them and to let them be their own people and have their own experiences, both good and bad. Just because a certain thing was a great experience for me (or a bad one) doesn't mean it will be the same for them. It's also difficult sometimes to hold back on making decisions for them or telling them what to do, especially when you know the consequences of their decisions may not be the best for them. But you also can't just let them go out totally on their own, they're just not experienced enough and that would be abdicating my responsibility as a parent. It's hard sometimes to provide guidance without being controlling.

I'm excited about 2010. We're going back to Disney in June with my wife's folks. We had a great time when we were there 3 years ago and are already planning all that we want to do. This time though we have a little experience behind us, which should add to the experience. Looking forward to the 2nd half of my 10 year old's basketball season. She's done a great job for her 1st year and is really starting to play well. Once she's done with basketball, softball starts up right away and she's very excited (as am I). I'm looking forward to seeing how her pitching continues to develop. I can't wait to see my youngest's dance recital in June. She's been working very hard since September and always makes her daddy proud. My son starts high school football in August and I can't wait to watch him play the sport he is so passionate about at the next level. He's also worked very hard in the weight room and has come a long way from when he started playing in 7th grade.

I do have concerns about where were headed as nation and will probably write quite a bit about that this year. You know I'm good for a rant now and then. But I wanted to start the year off a note of hope. To quote one of my favorite songwriters, Bill Mallonee:

"there's a time for listening to the thunder
there's a time for cleansing all the sins
there's a time when i'm slowly going under
this time isn't one of them

there's a time when joy is so elusive
out of your grasp and three sheets to the wind
there's a time crying is conducive
this time isn't one of them

most of my life's been like a wedding
the moment where the bride and bridegroom kiss
sometimes i can believe all that i hope in
this moment feels like one of them"

I'm excited to see what else God has in store for my family this year that we haven't planned. There are always surprises along the way in this journey, some good and some difficult, but God is amazing through it all.

May God bless you and your family this year.