Seeing through his eyes

One of the things I love about being a parent is getting to see the world through my son’s eyes. He has such a fresh, new perspective on everything that I would consider commonplace or mundane. It brings new life into many things for me as I get to enjoy them with him. I am very thankful for this.

I was reminded recently of attending my cousins wedding when my son was 3. She is a beautiful young lady who married a fine young man. I am very happy for them both. We went to the ceremony and we sat off to the side, not knowing how a toddler would handle sitting through a wedding (thank the Lord for the iPhone). As the ceremony started our son looked back and saw my cousin in her dress. He looked at his mama and said, “Mama! Its a princess!” Now, that is exactly how every woman wants to feel at her wedding.

It was a great joy to watch her get married. I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with that side of the family over the years as I am 12 years older than she is. However, I have enjoyed watching her grow up. Her dad and my aunt got together when she was three. I remember meeting her for the first time. She didn’t know what to think of me, but we became buddies pretty quick. I didn’t know that my own three year old would be watching her in her wedding all these years later. She was a cute kid. She is a beautiful woman. I am proud of her. She did look like a princess.

As I sat there watching I was taken back to my own wedding. I remember when the chapel doors opened up and I saw my bride in her dress for the first time. I cried. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I experienced a range of emotions in that moment: She looked beautiful, She was about to be mine, We were declaring our love to the world, We were promising to be together always, and so much more. The emotions rushed back at me as I remembered my bride, who also looked like a princess. She is more beautiful now as my Queen.

I am grateful for the perspective of my son. Seeing the world through his eyes is a privilege that I cherish…when he was three and all these years later. He saw a princess that day. It still makes me so thankful for him and my Queen.

The Touch of Her Hand – Song Lyrics

Verse 1

All of my life I have found that love breaks your heart and lets you down. Just when you think it is right, you give all you can give your love fades away and makes it harder to live.

When I wasn’t looking love came and found me out. With every day that passes there is little left to doubt. Her love was unexpected, something I never thought I’d find and before I knew it she was changing my mind.

Chorus

She’s changing my mind. She’s helping me stand. The hurt has gone away wounds starting to mend. I swore to myself I’d never go through this again, but she changed it all with just the touch of her hand.

Verse 2

I don’t know how to act, I don’t know what to say. She is all I ever needed, her love has made a way. She brought this heart of stone back to life again with just the touch of her hand.

Chorus

She’s changing my mind. She’s helping me stand. The hurt has gone away wounds starting to mend. I swore to myself I’d never go through this again, but she changed it all with just the touch of her hand.

Worry will wreck you if you let it.

I was sitting at work the other day and I couldn’t get it off my mind. It bugged me and bugged me and bugged me. I did my best to ignore it. But, it nagged me until I paid attention. I tried to put it off again. Fail. I tried again. Epic fail. What had me in its grip? Worry.

It doesn’t matter what it is that we worry about, once we let it get in there it is so hard to get it to go away. It could be about money, health issues, relationships, or a variety of other things that are important to us. They are often unfounded, or barely founded. But, once it gets in your mind it multiplies like wild fire.

I have spent more than my share of time battling it over the years. Finding out I had cancer in 2004 and again in 2018 provided a ton of it. Losing a job years ago added a bunch. Complications with our son’s delivery added more than I thought I could bear. What did it all amount to? A lot of stress that didn’t do me any good in the end.

There is a great verse that goes like this: who by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27) I have discovered this time and time again. Being concerned about things can be productive. Doing my part is necessary. But, letting those concerns shift to worry only makes us anxious and clouds our minds. Concern and hope can exist together. Worry chokes hope.

After my diagnosis in 2004 and in 2018, I decided that I was going to do everything in my power to live. I would endure the surgery. I would undergo chemotherapy. I would do everything I could to make sure I had the best chance possible. The results were up to God. I just wanted to make sure I did my part. I was concerned. I refused over and over to let it turn into worry. Thankfully, the outcome is what I wanted it to be. I am still here. I still fight worry all the time. I am still here.

What do you worry about? Are the problems real or imagined? Are they things you can do something about? Do you need to ask for help? If they are things you can tackle, get after it. If they are things you need help with, ask. If they are things you have no control over, do what you can do.

Even if I have to make the choice a thousand times, I refuse to let worry overtake me. I know it won’t do me any good in the long term and it makes the short term miserable.

Don’t just plan, Do.

If you could win awards for drawing up brilliant plans, I am not sure I would win one. I make good plans all the time. I am not sure they are brilliant, but I do have some good ones though. I sit down and plan out my attack on whatever goal it is. Then I sit down later and plan it out a different way. Then I sit down even later and plan it out again. Did I mention that no execution followed any of the planning?

I don’t know if I just like looking a problem and figuring out ways to get around it (on paper), or I have just been scared to get my butt moving and follow one of the many plans I have drawn up (whatever the goal may be). The truth is this: a plan isn’t worth a nickle if it isn’t put into action. It is just some dreams scribbled on a piece of paper. It only becomes reality when you do the work. And it may look very different when the plan is executed than you thought it would when you started off.

I was reading a blog post by Michael Hyatt the other day. He interviewed Alison Levine about her expeditions to climb Mount Everest. The first time she attempted it was in 2002 and she (and her team) had to turn back when they were 200 feet from the summit. Things did not go to plan. She took a team back to Everest last year and was able to complete the climb.

She had a plan. She set about the execution of that plan. However, she said in the video that even though they had a plan, there are times you have to take action based on the situation at hand and not necessarily stick to the plan. In her first climb the climate and situation dicatated that they turn back. There may have been major injury or death had they stuck to the plan.

I had to sit and think about the message she shared. A plan is just that a plan. It has to be put into action. It is what initially gets you moving. Once you are moving though, you have to be aware of what is going on around you. There may be things you didn’t plan for and you have to take action. Even if the plan isn’t brilliant, it can be updated on the go. 

So, maybe my approach of planning from multiple angles isn’t all bad…provided I make adjustments while my original plan is in motion. The point is to get moving. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Get moving and adjust. You (and I) May end up somewhere better than we first intended.

Time keeps on ticking

It seems the older I get the faster time passes. You know what I mean don’t you? We get through the weekend and it is Monday again, and then before you know it the week is gone and so is the next weekend. There have been times of late it seems like every time I take a breath a few months have gone by. Has it always been this way? Or am I just noticing it more now? I think I am just noticing it more. The reason? My boy is growing up in front of my eyes.

It seems like just yesterday I held him just minutes after he was born. The nurse passed a little ball of blankets through the door and I was in love. In no time at all that little ball of blankets was crawling around the house pulling himself up on whatever he could reach. Then he was saying a few words and walking a few steps. Now, his is 5’3″ tall and corrects me when I make mistakes.

This awesome boy just spent the last two days helping pack and move his grandparents. He loaded box after box. He did it without complaint. He worked so hard and I am so proud of him. He is growing up so fast.

Why does it seem to fly by? I think time drags by when we are young because we have no point of reference to base it on. We are eager to get older so we can drive, date, vote, move out of the house, go to college, etc, etc. We only think about the things that we get to do as we age and we don’t really take a lot of time to enjoy the age we are. I didn’t anyway. I just wanted to be older. That wish keeps getting granted. I have the grey hair to prove it.

So, time keeps passing. My son gets a little older and a lot smarter with every day that goes by. I feel the tug to slow down and enjoy the moments. I try to do just that on every occasion that I can. I know how important it is. I feel a sense of wonder as I watch him grow. He is precious to me. The time I spend with him can not be replaced.

Just like you, I am bombarded with things to take care of every day and I sometimes miss the invitations that he gives me to play. I justify my excuses. I miss opportunities. If I do this too much days go by. I choose not to let this happen. For as much as I am able, I  choose to be with him. I choose to play Nintendo games. I choose to read books with him. I choose to wrestle and run and laugh. I choose him and his mama. Time with the two of them is time well spent.

From then till now: the path

I grew up in a little town in southeast Oklahoma. I moved there when I was in the seventh grade and I stayed through my first year of college. By then, like most teenagers in a small town, I had the bug to go to college away from home. So, I got a scholarship to go sing and I packed up and moved to the Oklahoma City area. That was 23 years ago.

When I got to school I was given the opportunity to be a part of a semi-professional choir. There were a bunch of people far more talented than me, so I did my best to blend in and help make good music. I sang with the choir for a semester. I remember the first practice well. I got very lost in the big city and almost didn’t find the practice site.

I had been to the rehearsal hall (a church in northwest Oklahoma City) only once before. It was about 15 miles from the school, but I figured I had been there and I could get back. I didn’t plan for the sun going down. The city looked very different after dark!

I remember feeling panicked. I was the new guy. I was going to be late. It was going to be embarassing. Fortunately, after overshooting the church by a few miles, I doubled back and by chance found it just in time. There are still parts of town that I drive through and get flashbacks of being lost. It makes me laugh.

Fast forward 14 years. I had just moved office buildings at work. Where was my new office building? Right across from the old church. It hit me walking across the parking lot the day I moved into my office. (I had one of those Disney World “its a small world” moments.) For a second, walking across that parking lot, I remembered being a 19 year old kid. I felt far from home. Unsure of myself. Even a bit scared. Thankfully, the feeling passed quickly.

I moved out of Oklahoma 3 1/2 years ago, but I am back in OKC this evening. It is not often that I can compare then and now so clearly. I saw it clearly today though. The course I was on at 19 would not be my lifelong choice. Thankfully, it didn’t have to be. Many people assume they are stuck with the career path they chose for their major in college. It doesn’t have to be that way. thought I was going to be a music teacher and/or a performer. My life is very different now.

I am glad that one chapter of your life doesn’t have to dictate how all of the others go. The story can change. Different decisions can be made. The course can be altered. It starts with one decision.

For some reason when I came back to OKC today, I remembered the little church and thought how far I have come. I never would have imagined I would be here 23 years later, coming back from a different state to see family…living a much different life than I ever thought. It was good to remember all that went on then. It was awesome to remember the path that I have been on. It is even better to know that I am right where I need to be now. I like that.

Learning how to lead

I have been running into a common theme lately: Leadership is not all about what you (as the leader) may want. Leadership is not about always getting your way. It is about casting a vision in front of people and then working with them to take your initial vision and turn it into something that everyone can take ownership in. Leadership is about seeing the next place you need to go as a group, and then having everyone get there together.

What do I mean? If I come to you with an idea that I have and ask for your help, but don’t allow you to have any input, will you be invested in the outcome of my idea? Not really. You would simply be helping me with one of my crazy ideas, and upon its completion would have very little lasting impact in your life.

Now, take the same scenario and tweak it a little bit. I have an idea that I bring to you. I tell you what I am wanting to do with it. I ask for your help, your advice, and your active input. You are excited about the idea and want to become a part. My idea has now become our idea. We work on it together. When we are finished, I doubt that it looks much like what I initially brought to you. The idea has changed…many times for the better.

Many years ago I worked in a small church setting. I was a youth pastor with a lot of energy and self proclaimed “brilliant” ideas. I did not understand the principle I have described above. I believed it was my responsibility to tell everyone else what we needed to be doing. What did I get in return? Leaders who did not know where we were going, or trust that I could get them there.

I was too arrogant to admit that I didn’t know where we were going. I was the leader. I was going to get us there. Wherever there was. Had I joined with them and gave up the need to have things my way, who knows the good things we would have been able to accomplish together? It was a missed opportunity, but a step in my education of what leadership is.

Fast forward twenty years. I am in a leadership role with a business group that I am associated with. I believe in the mission and purpose of the organization. I believe what in what we stand for. I feel the need to lead. However, I don’t feel the need to always have my way. I am eager to meet with people and hear their vision about what we are doing.

As the group’s leader, I want to share my vision and then work with them to get to a place that was better than any of us intended when we began. I want the organization to be better after my time as a leader is gone. I want others to want to step in and take the vision ever further. If I can accomplish this, I will feel like I have done what I am supposed to.