I love the United States, but one of the things I have come to notice through spending time in other countries is we are obsessed with extra-large everything. Nothing is exempt from our obsession, from sodas to cars to the homes we live in, we are hypnotized by truth we hear seemly all around us Bigger is always better. But is it really?
This week marks nine years blogging. It’s crazy to think of all the change that has taken place in our world and in our family in the past nine years. As I think back over those nine years I think of the things that I only could have learned by blogging.
- Starting is always the scariest part of most everything – It was scary to start blogging. It was scary to make myself vulnerable enough to write what I was thinking, learning and failing at. It still is scary.
There are few things more intimidating in life than a blank page and blinking cursor. How do you beat this fear? Start typing.
- Consistency was my biggest challenge. When starting a blog or most things in life you have to be consistent. Pushing through bloggers block was tough till I created a system for ideas and then learned how to make old ideas new. Most bloggers don’t survive because of a lack of consistency, not because of lack of good ideas or content. There are many of you out there reading this that need to start blogging. You should. How consistent should you be? I think to start out you need to do three times a week for a couple of years till ideas and execution become reflexive.
Baseball season is starting up and if you know me at all you know that I love the game of baseball. I came across an article on PBS’s blog talking about how as a parent you should be less involved in your kids life. I have to admit they got me with the title. We live in a day where the definition of good parenting is over-involvement in your kids lives until they are well into their 2o’s. So the combination of baseball and the encouragement of parents to be less involved I found too tempting to pass up.
The article was well worth the read. While I’d disagree with him on a few of his points and probably with how he applies them to make a point, the overall idea is something I agree with completely. In our desire to give a better life for our kids than we have, we remove any obstacles or opportunity for pain that helped us become who we are today. Ironically we protect them from the very things that will make them stronger adults. We solve their problems rather than give them the tools to learn to solve them for themselves.
Daniel Pink the well-known author of controversial books such as Drive, and A Whole New Mind. Pink has this to say about the dangers of parental over-involvement specifically in sports like baseball:
What few of us well-meaning parents realize, but that any professional athlete will tell you, is that when kids look to us on the sidelines for approval or consolation or even orange slices, part of them is distracted from what really counts, the mastery of something difficult, the obligations to teammates, the game itself.– Daniel Pink –
One of the expectations of being a pastor is that you always know what to say, when to say it and how it should be said. The is even more true when the person who you are ministering to is hurting. In nearly 20 years of pastoral ministry to the same church family I have learned that when someone is hurting all they need is for you to “Just show up.”
When I was younger I would avoid painful situations and people who were hurting because I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing. I was afraid what I would say would only push them further into despair. The older I got, and the more people I went to see, the more I realized how wrong I was. I was reminded of the power of showing up when I asked one of the kids who grew up in our churches kids ministry what he remembered most about kids church when he was younger. I would have guessed he would say “the fun events” or “the powerful services.” You know what he said? “You came to see me in the hospital and gave me a video game when I got my tonsils out.” He didn’t remember what I said, he remembered that I showed up. I didn’t even remember doing that, and the video game I got him was a soccer video game – he played baseball. I didn’t do or say everything just right but I showed up.
One of the most powerful illustrations of this truth is seen in C.S. Lewis story of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” Eustace a very frustrating boy who through the greediness of his own heart fell asleep on a treasure and was turned into a dragon. This caused tremendous amounts of pain and frustration for him and those who were traveling with him. Throughout the voyage a mouse named Reepicheep would call out Eustace when he would act selfish or unseemly, much to Eustace’s frustration. In this part of the story Eustace in the form of a dragon is in a deep despair as he feels that he will never be a boy again. Here is what Lewis says:
I was recently in a restaurant with all our kids and one of my kids needed some help so I helped her and gave her a hug then looked her in the eye and told her that she was my favorite. When other people overhear me tell my kids they are my favorite the reaction I always get is priceless. Most people are either shocked or offended because they counted how many kids we have when we walk in the room. If you have more than two kids you know what I’m talking about when you walk into a restaurant and people either pause or mouth the number of kids you have….apparently four kids is the new twelve. People who are shocked that I would have favorites and worse yet have the gall to say that I did out loud. Favorites
What most people don’t know is I tell all my kids they are my favorite. I tell them each they are my favorite and it never really occurred to me that this is counter-cultural it’s just something I’ve always done. I tell them each they are my favorite then I tell them not to tell anyone. It’s our little fun way of saying I love you more than anyone in the whole world.