Archives For Family

Commitment

Ah the “C” word. Commitment. It can be a scary word. At least it seems like our culture today wants less and less to do with it.  Commitment is hard. Really hard. We don’t like hard, we like easy. Let’s be real, humans can be some lazy creatures.  Maybe I’m just speaking for myself on that one. Commitment means closing off other options, or not having an escape plan in place.

Over the years I have seen less and less people make and keep commitments. I honestly don’t know why it bothers me as much as it does.  Maybe it is a personal pet peeve of mine.  I have always felt a sense of responsibility once I make a commitment. Have I always got it right? Nope. I’m human so I fail, and I let people down. If I haven’t let you down you simply haven’t known me long enough. It is natural to fail, this isn’t what I’m talking about.  It seems more and more people are willing to walk away from commitments when it gets tough.  Anyone can keep a commitment when it is convenient, self serving, or doesn’t require much effort. The true test is when walking away is the easier path.

I really believe we need to reevaluate our views on commitment.  Marriage is one obvious area this has been huge. I have a hard time with people making a covenant and saying “until death do us part” and then walking out when someone is hard to love. Reality Check: We are all hard to love. Truthfully some more so than others. I understand that there situations with abuse and unfaithfulness that betray beyond the point of reconciliation. However this is a small percent of those nullifying nuptials.  I’m not down on people who have been divorced. However I think we should reevaluate marriage and take a hard look at making that commitment. Divorce shouldn’t be an option on the table once the deal has been sealed. My hope is the next generation will make amends in this area.  The toll divorce has taken on family and children is immense. I don’t think anyone (in their right mind) walks down the aisle thinking that the marriage will end in a few years after things get difficult. Here is some real honesty. What will keep you from walking out in the next marriage once that relationship hits some tough times? It won’t be easy, it may take getting professional help and time to heal. Marriage can be incredibly hard work, as are most commitments.

It isn’t just marriage commitments that are being walked away from. Our society is quick to walk away from anything that makes us uncomfortable. Even worse is when an opportunity arises that has a greater benefit and we chose to break a commitment we already had made.  I’m not talking about things like a better job and so on.  Unless you made a commitment to be there for a certain amount of time. It seems as though keeping commitments is a rare and valued trait in our day and age. I mean we all think highly of people who keep commitments. We are inspired and respect those who stick out a difficult or challenging situation in order to keep their word.  Why is it then we can validate every reason and excuse to walk away from our own?

I don’t mean to come across as cold or even a jerk but why make a commitment if we have no intention to keep it?  Have you ever seen the movie “Hook”? Peter Pan has left Never Land and grown up, and has his own children now.  Unfortunately he is so obsessed with his job that he has neglected his commitment as a father and husband. In one scene he tells his son that he promises to be at his next ball game.  He tells his son that “his word is his bond”, his son responds “junk bond”. Ouch.  It is easy to make the commitment but hard to follow through.  Talk is cheap. I know it is a difficult truth but we need to have a honest dialog as a society about making and keeping commitments. It isn’t sexy and it requires hard work. Keeping commitments isn’t something we want to talk about because it is uncomfortable. We all have failed and have let others down. My hope is that we begin to evaluate our desire to not only make but begin to keep commitments.

What are your thoughts on keeping commitments? Why do you think it is so hard to keep the commitments we make? Have you or someone you observed kept a commitment though it was a difficult path? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Treasure

 

It’s always something during the bedtime routine; if you have kids you know this is true. Last night our eldest daughter Braelyn who is 6 was adamant that we had to set a leprechaun trap before she could go to bed. She was proceeding to tell my wife Kristi that leprechauns are real like elves, and therefore we needed a trap to catch one. 6 year old logic, just go with it. To hurry lovingly encourage the bedtime process I told her I would help build a trap so she and her sister would go to bed. She quickly snatched her younger sister Lillie’s change purse off her nightstand. After some short protests from the younger child Braelyn assured her it was needed for bate. Lillie not to be unreasonable realized that this was indeed a worthy cause and was willing to sacrifice the change purse in exchange for catching said mythical creature. I found a small pink fabric tote, relocated the contents within and set it upside down with the bate underneath. We were looking for a stick to hold the box up until it was triggered by the small green gold hoarding man(not creepy at all). Braelyn suggested a fairy wand but was unable to locate it, then Lillie who is 4 by the way offered up a head band. As she explained it looked like a rainbow and the leprechaun would be sure to be fooled by the loot under the rainbow, which was under the not so suspicious pink box.

The trap was set and the girls were off to bed. Rejoice. Soon after they were in bed I though that I would have to come up with something to put under that box for the morning. I’m for holidays as much as the next guy, but this whole magical surprise for Saint Patrick’s Day is a new one for me. But this is coming from the guy who was exhausted after moving elf on the shelf twice. I delayed the inevitable and set out in our small town to find something like a stuffed leprechaun toy to trigger the trap. By the time I psyched my self up to go, and after my wife told me that laying on the couch wasn’t going to get it done I left after 10PM. At this point my open store options were Wal-Mart, our local grocery store, and the gas station. I visited all in that order.

My suspicions were confirmed that Saint Patrick’s Day is not a child-celebrated holiday with all the trappings like, Easter, Christmas, or Halloween. In fact besides a few green colored cookies at the door there was not a single thing at the store that would work. And yes, I looked for the gold chocolate coins that are usually in the Easter candy. I was only able to locate blue and green coins, and that clearly would not work for leprechaun loot to say the least. I mean come on; I wasn’t that desperate yet. I left the first store defeated and then on to the grocery.

The grocery had even less than the first store. I must have looked great on the security camera’s scouring the grocery store at night. After a thorough store search I finally settled upon a bag of Rolos. They are wrapped in gold, and they are chocolate, win-win. At that moment I decided I would look like a crazy person if I came to the store late at night to only procure a bag of cylinder shaped chocolates filled with caramel goodness. We always need cereal so I grabbed a box of Raisin Bran, yup living large. When I got to the cashier to check out she quickly blew my cover. “So how does this work? You put the Rolos in the Raisin Bran?” She was on to me. After I sarcastically told her yes that how we do in the Henry house I quickly recanted and told her the whole story. She laughed and thought it was awesome. She then asked why I didn’t get the gold chocolate coins from Easter. Ah ha! I already thought of that and proceeded to tell her that blue and green coins would not make a pot of “gold”. I told her, yes we are those crazy parents. She said it was cute and that I would miss doing small crazy things like this when they get older. This grocery has a local bank branch counter by the door. Conveniently it was decorated for this green festive holiday. I’m not going to lie, I thought about “borrowing” a few to stage this awesome display of leprechaun lunacy. I resisted and made my way home.

But before I got home I was feeling low that my hunt resulted in such a lame find, so I stopped at the gas station. It must have been getting late for this to seem like a viable option. Once again the gas station had even less to choose from, a dismal selection of Easter candy, and a few Valentine confections that were clearly not showed love last month. Sorry Cupid. Once again security probably looks great with me walking around the store looking at every shelf as if there will be leprechaun paraphernalia neatly tucked away in between the chips and beef jerky, maybe by the roller dogs or tobacco products! I hesitated and thought I better buy something to make it look like I didn’t come in to commit thievery. Luckily a few other people came in (probably also looking for little green men) so I was able to make a beeline for the door.

I returned home and searched for something to use as a pot. I thought perhaps I could be crafty and whip one up, who am I kidding, I’m no Clayton Eley Martha Stewart. I found a small bowl shaped toy and loaded it with Rolos. I even resisted the urge to eat one, only because I ate a egg shaped peppermint patty (my fav!) before I left to fuel my journey. I found a leftover green clover shaped piece of paper from a craft and wrote a note from the leprechaun. “Dear Braelyn & Lillie, good try but I am too tricky to get caught. Enjoy me pot of Gold” – Mr. Leprechaun I placed them under the box and removed the highly advanced rainbow shaped trigger mechanism. I then crawled into bed, success.

The next morning at 5 AM I heard my wife telling Braelyn that it was 5 AM and that she needed to get back in bed. Braelyn told her she heard noises coming from the box and needed to check the trap. She reluctantly went back to bed but not for long. She soon woke up her younger sister. I mean this was like Christmas morning after all, but in March!  They discovered the loot and note and proceeded to come yell in my face about it all as I was still trying to sleep. All morning they were a buzz about it. I mean you would think the really truly believed it all.

Today I couldn’t help but think how ridiculous it all was. I mean after all my 6 year old wanted to trap a leprechaun in her room and in reality ended up sending me on a late night leprechaun hunt. I thought about what the cashier said and the many other people that have told me how fast children grow up. Honestly my wife is usually the one who plays along with the little fantasies like this. Truthfully I blame her and the whole stupid Elf on a Shelf for the entire ordeal. In the end I didn’t find a leprechaun, just some diabetes educing treasure to tuck away. The real treasure was something so much greater. Something seemingly so small was such a big deal for my daughters. I doubt they will remember it years from now, but that’s not the point. The real treasure in life is the small things.

I so easily get so busy in the day to day that if I’m not careful I miss out all the small joys that come from parenting. It is easy to feel like I’m a failure if I don’t provide some over the top family experiences, vacations, or monumental moments. The reality is the small stuff is huge to them. Just taking a few moments out of my long and busy day to do something so silly created a moment that was better than most anything I could have planned for. At the end of the day the small things really are the greatest treasure. I know one day they will be grown and If I were to recount this story they would probably think I was crazy. But for now I’ll be looking for small moments where I can win their heart for that truly is the greatest treasure of all.

Learning When to Say No

February 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

For some of us learning to say no is a difficult thing. I know not everyone has this issue, but for me it is a reality.  The issue becomes even worse when you have to say no to a great opportunity.  The truth is that every time we say yes to something, we are in return saying no to something else. We only have so many hours in the day, and so many days in the week.  As I see it the real danger comes as we keep saying yes to more and more.  When we do this we typically end up saying no to things that should really be a priority in our life.  We only have this one life to live.  We can’t go back and redeem the time.  This is why it is so important to learn to say no, but even more important than that is setting priorities.  When we are asked what our priorities are in our life, or even what we want to be known for we can give a list of what we deem to be important.  Our relationship with our spouses, our children, and family members usually top the list.  Also our relationship with God (if you are into that kind of thing) also makes the list.  We say we want to give back and contribute to society and help those in need. Yet in the mix of all that we say yes to why does it seem that the very things we set as a priority are the very first things that get cut from our schedule.

Now I’m not making a case for being lazy.  We shouldn’t say no to everything. In fact sometimes we need to say yes and get off our butt and go do something. This is more about taking the time to understand what our priorities are in life and then saying yes to making time for them. There are moments and situations when we do say yes to something but understand that something else will need to be said no to. What we must not say no to are our families and relationships.  We can’t say no to our relationship with God either (once again if you are into that sort of thing). We can’t say no to serving and giving back. Living a disciplined life means saying no to really great opportunities.  There is no way we can do it all, though at times we try. We end up burned out and have no time for the things that are really important in life.  This is something I must constantly remind myself about. At the end of my time here on earth I want to look back and know that I did the best I could with my time.  It is easy to identify the things we waste our time on, but it takes diligence to identify the good things we sometimes need to let go of. This is not so we can have more leisure time for TV, internet, vacations, sports and all the other things we fill our days with. Not that those are bad things. Rather it is about having the time to give to those things we say are a priority in our lives.

 

Learning from Goldfish

September 1, 2011 — 1 Comment

The other night my two daughters (age 2 and 1) were snacking on some goldfish crackers. My wife gave them each a handful. Quickly our youngest noticed her older sisters pile of goldfish.  She was no longer interested in her own stash, she wanted her sisters.  The funny thing besides that they were the exact same thing is that upon closer look our youngest actually had more in her pile.  As my eldest valiantly defended her stash from being poached I couldn’t help but chuckle at the situation. A moment later I realized how we often do the same thing.

Even as adults we have the tendency to focus on what others have. We do this even to the detriment of realizing the things we have going for us. Whether it’s someone else’s possessions, talents, gifts, relationships, or goldfish crackers it is easy to become envious.  We become so determined that we are lacking and need what they have. We become completely blind to the fact that we have some great things going for us. We should be thankful for what we do have, but we so quickly get focused on what we do not.

What do you think? Is it easy to fall into the trap of comparing and wanting that what we honestly don’t really need?  Why even from childhood are we so obsessed with what others have?

Well it is almost unbelievable that our youngest turned 1 on the 4th.  Yes our Lillie is a 4th of July baby, and we have heard all of the jokes. “She is a real fire cracker” and so on.  I am amazed how fast this year went. Even beyond that is how much this tiny little girl has accomplished in her short year here on earth.  She started walking like a pro at 10 months and hasn’t stopped going since.  She has such a sweet disposition but doesn’t hesitate to let you know when she doesn’t like something.  She has the cutest little baby talk.  We have no idea what she is saying, but she loves to say it. She constantly talks to us.  Immediately when she wakes up she is on, like a light switch.  She just looks at you and starts talking.

I am so thankful for both of my daughters.  Being a parent is hard work. I don’t think you can fully appreciate that until you are in the thick of it. But honestly, seeing the love in my little girls eyes makes it all worth it.  When they snuggle up on you and want to be in your arms there is nothing like it.  Truly. I love when Lillie gives me a kiss, it is the sweetest thing.

It is hard to believe it was a year ago when I saw Lillie come into the world.  Witnessing the birth of a baby is the greatest miracle. We didn’t want to know what gender our babies were before they were born.  Most people can’t believe that we are able to wait to find out.  They usually ask us how we would be able to get prepared. I think that is silly.  Prepared as in what color pink or blue?  In a microwave society there are so few gifts as waiting to find out. Meeting our girls for the first time has been the highlight of my life.  The anticipation and wait is so worth the cost of not finding out.  I think we kind of cheat ourselves out of that blessing.  It is a simple blessing in life.

So Happy Birthday to our little girl, Lille Beth. You are such a blessing to us and we are so grateful for your life.

Indiana Dunes 2011

July 15, 2011 — 1 Comment

Well we finally had some time to take a family vacation.  Even if you are entitled to vacation with your job it still seems like a fight to make time for your vacation.  This is especially true for us since me and Kristi both work full time jobs.  If you add to that full time ministry for me and the challenge can become greater yet.  Our girls are still young so we can’t go do some adventurous treks across the country, or navigate the globe. Well at least not yet. J Wherever we go is not as important as it is to spend time together.  We run so hard most of the year. I realize this will only get compounded as our children get older and have school, and are involved with other things.

I was so thankful for the opportunity to get away for a few days.  For me vacation is about getting away from it all.  Breaking routine and finding some escape from the trappings of life.  I even go as far as to leave my phone off and to ditch social media and the web.  I just need to disconnect from it all.  I know vacation is different for everyone but I would encourage you to try disconnecting from your phone and the internet for a few days.  Try to focus on the face to face relationships happening right in front of you.  I think sometimes we get so caught up with a screen in our face that we tend to ignore the most important people around us.

This year we went to the Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan.  The girls loved to swim in the pool at the hotel.  They had a smaller kid’s pool with a slide and a fountain.  It was definitely a hit with Braelyn.  We got to spend some time on the beach.  It was a nice beach for being on a lake.  The state stepped in some years ago to save this portion of beachfront.  Flanking each side of the beach a ways down is steel mills, and to the other side a nuclear power plant.  They were far enough off that they didn’t really impose too much on the beach.  We planned on taking a train into Chicago from the dunes but the girls communicated in their own way that they weren’t so keen on spending that much time in an umbrella stroller.  We will save that for next time when they are a little older.

It was an interesting region filled with heavy industry and beach tourism.  With the relatively short drive from here and the cost it would be somewhere I would recommend checking out.  There are several towns and beaches to check out on the Indiana and Michigan sides.  There are also several quaint bread and breakfasts in the area to stay at. If you want to go spend a little more you could always rent a home on the lake front as well.  With the addition of an inexpensive train ride to Chicago it has the potential to be a great vacation spot.  I have a feeling we will be heading there again.

I am exceedingly thankful that we have jobs that afford us the opportunity to provide for our family and that also allows us time to get away together.  In a world where we go faster and work more and more it is so important to disconnect and spend time with the ones who really matter the most.  In the end it doesn’t matter how much you worked, or earned. We are all gifted such a short time on this earth.  It is imperative that we make our family our priority. It isn’t about a fancy vacation it is about spending time together.  That is what really matters, taking a break to get refreshed and spending time with those who matter the most to you.

Life is a Gift

June 8, 2011 — 2 Comments

Life is a gift.  There are times when this statement may seem far from true.  You may agree life is a gift, but one that should be returned to the store with all the other lame gifts we have received.  I understand this can be even more challenging in the times we live in. We live in a broken world, and this makes life a challenge and difficult at best.   This is even without mention of the recent economic hardships we are facing.  Yet in it all life is really a gift.

Life is a precious gift from God. Our time on this earth is short.  The Bible makes it clear this life is fleeting (James 4:14).  While we as Christians have hope in what is to follow our time here on earth, we still want to make the most of the time we have here.  It is easy to get caught up in all that is broken in the world, and one doesn’t have to look far to see the injustice and seemingly cruel hand life has dealt so many people on our planet.   Even so our hope is in Jesus, and we still must be willing to accept this gift, the gift of life.

Last year I had the privilege of becoming a father for the second time.  Watching the birth of both our children has to be the greatest miracle I have ever witnessed.  How amazing and wonderful to see our daughters born into this world. What a marvel to see their tiny little fingers and toes, and to see how perfect they were.  It is so easy to get caught up in all of the noise that surrounds us; we soon forget how precious life is, and how astonishing a new life coming into this world really is.

Now I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t explain why so many people have to suffer. I have yet to grasp why some are so wealthy and have anything they want and some don’t even have the basic nutrition they need to sustain life.  I cannot give you an explanation why innocent people die tragically, or why our family members suffer with heartbreaking ailments.  While I can’t answer these questions I still believe life is a gift from God.  It is frustrating that our human brains cannot comprehend all that we see going on around us.  Yet in it all God is in control (Isaiah 46:9-10).

It is so important that we live this life with everything we have got.  This isn’t the dress rehearsal, this is the real thing.  I think of the song “I Hope you Dance” and how true those lyrics really are.  The last thing we want to do is sit by and be a bystander to this amazing life we have been given.  Life should be pursued, celebrated, and cherished.  Don’t sit it out, chose to dance, chose to live life to its fullest.  Take chances, mend broken relationships, and pursue your passions.  Life is too precious of a gift to waste.

I understand life can be daunting.  There are times when we don’t even want to get out of that bed.  We may not always have the answers, and we still out our hope and trust in God (Romans 8:28).  I challenge you to live life with all that you have got.  Do not wait for tomorrow or for your situation to change.  Life will always present challenges, we know this with certainty.  Don’t take your eyes off Jesus.  Remember this life is a gift.  Chase after it with everything you have got. So what has caused you to recognize how precious life is?  What experiences have you had?  I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!