Tag Archives: life

I Made It Home Safely

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I wrote this after events in Charlottesville.  The ideas still apply.  Please pray this world heals.  Please do something every day to love your neighbor, who is everyone.  Please pray for me, because I am praying for you.

 

There wasn’t much of a chance that I wouldn’t make it home safely.  It just isn’t promised to me.  I live in a good neighborhood; I seem to have good neighbors, even though I do not know many of them or know them well.  It is nice.

 

But I take it for granted.  It makes me comfortable, which is good and bad.  My wife and kids are safe-that is good.

 

There are people not as lucky as I am, though.  There are people that didn’t make it home safely this weekend.  There are many people who risked something of themselves to save others.  There are some who were victims of violence centered around particular beliefs.  They didn’t make it home safely.

 

I believe in God.  I am a Christian, which means I am an alien to this world.  I am called to be a light in the world while I am here.  There are good ways to do that.  There are bad ways to do that.

 

A bad way to do that, which would not make me a positive light in the world for God, is to rage.  I am so tempted to scream at people-friends, family, acquaintances.  I want to call them names.  I want to point fingers and place blame.  But I know that won’t help.  I know that will not change their minds.  More importantly, that is not what God would want me to do.

 

A good way is to stand in the gap for someone, someone without a voice.  Someone who needs help and needs to be shown God’s love.  

 

That is everyone.

 

God’s love is for everyone.  God’s love isn’t for me just because I’m an American.  God’s love isn’t just for people of a certain skin color.  God’s love isn’t just for the rich.  God’s love isn’t just for the poor.  God’s love isn’t just for the sick.  God’s love isn’t just for the healthy.

 

If you’re breathing, you need God’s love.  And He wants to give it to you.  All you have to do is ask.  And if you’re breathing, you’re to be giving love to others.  You’re to be loving your neighbors, who is everyone.

 

I need God’s love, because I need healing from anger.  I need God’s love, because I need to be reminded that we are all made in God’s image.  He loves everyone as much as He loves you and me.

 

My pastor believes we are nearing the end times.  He recently pointed out that one prophesy is nations will fight against nations.  A better translation of that is ethnic groups against ethnic groups.  I am not an expert, so I will defer to him, but, even without studying prophecy, I can’t deny the times we live in.  I don’t think anyone can deny the hatred seen on the news or social media.

 

Before writing this, I spent some time in my knees in prayer, asking that Jesus’ love rise above it all.  Trying times need thoughtful prayer as a place to start.  I hope you may spend some time in prayer, whether you pray for the state of our country, the state of our world, or simply the state of your heart.  Please pray.

 

God bless you, and get home safely.

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To Youth, To The Dreamers

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Remember Time Cop with Jean Claude Van Damme?  Unfortunately, I do (look it up after you read this, but you’re probably better off not having watched it, unlike me).  That is a movie where time travel doesn’t have the happiest of outcomes at first, and not one of Jean Claude’s finest films, although that may not exist at all.  Maybe Back to the Future is a better example of the time travel.  Hijinx ensue, but at least it’s fun and not so dire.

 

As much as you would like to, you can’t go back.  I can’t either, just to be clear.  I don’t want you to think I’m trying to rub it in or something.  And I don’t think I would want to go back.  As much as I wish I did things differently the first time, I wouldn’t change anyth…much.

 

Here are a few things I wish I could change or would have done differently if I had the chance:

  • I wish I learned to play an instrument
  • I wish I worked more overtime when I had less responsibilities/people counting on me being around
  • I wish I was more disciplined in school
  • I wish I took more chances
  • I wish I held back more often
  • I would not have sent that mixtape

 

We don’t like making wrong choices, and sometimes it is hard just making any choice at all.  I used to go shopping, pick up a number of items I wanted, know I could only afford half of them, but I couldn’t decide what to keep and what to put back.  So I would end up just putting them all back and walking out of the store with nothing.  The few times I would only get the one or two things I could get, I felt like I was missing out and would go back a couple of days later to get the things I put back anyway.  I couldn’t live with the regret of buying the wrong whatever it was.  Then later would regret I bought any of it after getting the credit card bill.

 

Even though I wish I could change some things or would do or say something different in certain situations if I could, I am glad that I can’t.  I don’t live with regrets, necessarily, I just wonder how events would be different.  As annoying as the cliche “everything happens for a reason” is, I agree with it.  I know there are lessons and wisdom gained going through the experiences I have been through.  It has all shaped me in some way.  I wouldn’t want to miss out on that.

 

My past work experience, for example, helped me trick my wife into thinking that I was a good sales rep, or that I was a sales rep at all, even though I faked my way through that whole phase of my career.  We both worked for the same company but in different regions and slightly different time periods, so we knew the lingo, knew some of the same people, and had an understanding of the business; a foundation for our relationship to build on.  The facade came crumbling down when she would explain certain sales techniques, and I would look at her like I heard a dog whistle.  Occasionally when the topic comes up, she shakes her head and calls me an “imposter rep.”  It all worked out.  She still married me even with my imposter status, so she has no one to blame but herself.

 

Anyway, not only is that wisdom for me to use in the future, but it is knowledge and wisdom I can pass on to my kids.  Most of the time growing up, I thought my dad just had crazy stories of how the world worked.  However, there were a few nuggets in there that have always stuck with me and am thankful he was able to share them with me.  Hopefully, I can do the same for my kids (be the dad whose kids think he’s crazy, that is).  They already do, but why not add more fuel?

 

There is still time for me to do stuff I missed out on earlier in life.  I just need to focus and try not to be lured away by the seductress known as Playstation.  For some reason, I came up with the brilliant idea that I need to learn to play the drums.  Since my kids are taking karate, the dad of my daughter’s friend was encouraging (egging me on is more like it) to do something like go hiking, or camping, or shooting guns.  You know, all the stuff men would do.  I said no to all of it, but I thought I should join my kids doing karate (I’ve been watching for years, I could totally take some of those kids out and show them who the real sensei is).  So soon, there will be a blog post about me kicking out the jams on my drum set with the use of the Crane Kick made famous by Daniel-son.

 

No, I’m not entering a mid-life crisis.  What are you talking about?  Oh, and I’m trying to talk my wife into buying me a sports car.  But I’m fine.

 

A couple of the pearls of wisdom I hope my kids eventually appreciate are:

  • Enjoy your youth
  • Make the most of your time here
  • Do your best, always
  • Live free and take a chance
  • Be yourself, know yourself
  • Protect yourself
  • Let go of mistakes
  • Live in wisdom

 

These are all cliches, for sure, but there can still be value to them.  I certainly enjoyed some of my youth, but I also squandered portions of it.  It can be hard to know what is best in the moment.  You just do the best you can with the information you have available at the time, which is what I will tell my girls.

 

There are things of youth I cannot do much of anymore.  I can’t still play soccer.  I learned that after I could barely walk after playing in my first game in an old-man’s league.  I was never much for the nightlife, but I am definitely not in shape to stay up past 9 P.M. now.  There are plenty others things I can’t do in my mid-life crisis age.  It would be too sad to list them all here.

 

I can still be super silly with my kids, however, as well as be a source of knowledge and wisdom when the situations come up.  Having the mentality of a 13-year old sometimes is helpful when it comes to kids.  I still embrace adulthood and do my best to teach my kids responsibility, maybe a little too much.  They are a little young for me to get too in depth about hopes and dreams and goals and accomplishments and consequences.  All in due time.

 

In the meantime, just keep dreaming, just keep growing.  Be young, wild, and free.

 

Is there anything you would change?

 

What was painful but glad you went through?

 

What wisdom did you gain and hope to pass on to your kids?

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The Uncomfortable Journey Towards The Uncomfortable

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What is the most comfortable place in your house?  If you ask wives or girlfriends, the answer for their husbands or boyfriends might be “The Throne”.  Can you really argue?  If it wasn’t true, you wouldn’t spend so much time there.  Which side of the bed is yours?  Mine is the left, possibly because I am left handed.  When my youngest moved out of her crib into a big-kid bed, I started to sleep next to her to help her get comfortable.  It became such a routine, though, that I sleep there sometimes even if she’s not there.  And so much of a routine that I have trouble sleeping in my own bed with my wife the few times a week I get to sleep there.

 

Jealous?

 

Most people strive to be comfortable.  A comfortable couch, comfortable chairs, comfortable clothes, comfortable car.  Some people have “their” chair that no one else is supposed to sit in.  There is even comfort food, which I have been eating too much of lately.  People work hard to be comfortable.  Work hard and save a lot of money to buy a house to store nice things that make life easier, have modern conveniences to assist with that goal.

 

For some people, life is war and they never get comfortable.  They don’t really get to sit and relax.  Life is a battle in some way as they try to stay afloat and dream of getting ahead.  People are looking for just a little bit of slack in their lives.

 

The last couple of years, I have been lucky.  I have been rather comfortable.  There have been some challenges, but they were not the kind of challenges that make or break people.  They have been more like hurdles to step over that put a slight strain on current life.

 

So I’ve been comfortable for a long time.  You may not know it depending on who you are, what question you ask me, and the answer I give you.  If you asked me how work was going, it might sound like I hate my job and am about to go postal soon (if you’re too young to know what “going postal” is, Google it).  Neither of which are true, but I had to clarify with my wife that I don’t hate my job or the work that I do, because she wasn’t sure.  I am dissatisfied and hoping to contribute more to the world.  I just should could complain less is all.

 

In light of current events, I feel a need to activate, to get involved, which I have never done before.  There is not a lot I have done other than email politicians and contribute with some donations.  There are many places to participate, and I haven’t taken the time to find a good place to do so in between my job and my family.  However, some podcasts and sermons I’ve listened to over this year have been talking about stepping out of comfort zones, and I’ve felt a desire to step up and step in.

 

Regarding work, like I said, I feel dissatisfied.  The job is good-I feel I am contributing positively and am helping people; I am doing something I am good at and comfortable with.  Also, the company I work for is good.  It is stable, and I am paid well, given an opportunity to support my family.  The leadership at the top wants to bring the company into that prestigious arena of “Best Places To Work.”  They send out surveys, suggestion boxes, and I express my opinions, because I do want to be a part of the process and make it a best place to work.  Last year I joined the “People Committee” that was formed to improve morale and the company culture.  The company has a recognition website that everyone can give encouragement to one another.  Managers and People Committee members can give points to fellow employees to recognize their hard work that can be cashed in for shopping gift cards.  After I joined the committee and some of my coworkers started noticing I actually had points to give out, they were a little nicer to me.  I wonder if that was a coincidence.  Hmmm?  Some other benefits to my job include autonomy:  I sit at my desk, I do my work, and I am allowed to listen to as much music, audiobooks, or podcasts I can in an 8-hour shift.  My boss is good and considers me a positive contributor to the team.  Like anyone, there is room for improvement, but overall I put in satisfactory work.

 

I’m disappointed, though.  My career is not growing, or I am not getting opportunities to shine, from my perspective.   It is frustrating, but I am trusting in God’s plan and purpose that He has something great in mind for me.  I just wish He would hurry up and make it clear to me.  That would make my life much easier and much more comfortable.  It would be comforting to know what was in my future.

 

My home life is good.  My kids are growing, learning, and developing into people of their own, albeit sometimes frustrating.  They have their own interests, friends, and activities.  My five year old wants to have playdates just about every day either going to her friend’s house, or they come over to our house, which is tough during the week.  Between school, karate classes, hockey games, and homework, there is hardly room for dinner and bath time.

 

My wife’s business is taking off.  We spent a year being a little uncomfortable with our finances saving, anticipating it would take a long time for her start-up to start up.  Fortunately, it didn’t take very long to get going.  And, fortunately, my wife is a good planner and built things up slowly before leaving her corporate job.  Now she has a growing client list, she’s had to hire employees, and, most importantly, she’s happy doing it.

 

So we’ve talked about it, and maybe it is my turn.  Maybe it’s my turn to step out.  But I’m in a rut.  But I don’t know where I am supposed to go.  But I don’t know what I am supposed to do.  So I pray.

 

One day, I was incredibly frustrated.  I wondered why things were not happening for me, why it seemed other people were getting ahead, why it appeared no one cared, why it felt like everyone else was getting away with not having to work hard.  I wanted to run and scream, but that would make me sweaty, and, in turn, uncomfortable.  I wanted to do one of those viral video job resignations, like where the radio DJ gets drunk on air and tells the audience what they really think of the station they work for.  Or where the news reporter shows everyone “who is number one” on live TV.

 

Just as I was thinking that, a possible realization hit me.  I wondered if God is making me uncomfortable to force me to step out and really be uncomfortable and put my faith in Him.  When it was apparent that it was time for my wife to, it took some faith.  It took some trust on our part that He would provide for us.  Past experiences of God coming through for us, even when we hadn’t put our faith in Him, made it easy for us to do so this time.  Well, maybe not easy, but at least easier.  Or maybe it only seemed easy.  Just last week my wife told me there were periods when she wasn’t too sure it would go well.  Apparently, that’s when I reassured her and told her she was going to be able to do it, and everything was going to be fine.  I didn’t remember that at all, but at least it resonated with her.  It’s always interesting that the line you think is a throw away is the line that sticks with someone else, good and bad equally.  That might just be a topic for another day.

 

I spend a lot of time wondering how I can be an example of how I live by faith and seek God’s direction.  I want to be an example of faith to my kids.  I want to be an example of works to them.  I want my faith to have action, to have works.  The book of James says faith without works is dead.  In high school, a mentor of mine explained it as faith-works.  They are not separate ideas.  One leads to the other, and the other leads back to one into a kind of feedback loop into a kind of feedback loop

 

This may be the first step towards that journey.  Like any journey, one step at a time.

 

Where are you in your journey?

 

Is it time for you to start a new one?

 

Tell me about it.

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Drop of Grace

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But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

It is a battle everyday.  I fight to rest.  And wake up tired.  I call out and ask for relief.  Everyday.  It comes for a moment, until I turn my head to the side.  There is something I struggle with.  So I turn to the other side.  There is another.  I look ahead to try and stay focused.

 

You may have similar feelings even without getting into specifics with what your struggle is, your thorn in your side that you beg God to take away from you.  Or maybe you have no idea what I am talking about because you have excised your demons.  In fact, I assume that you are better than me, because I am the best sinner in the world.

 

If you’re still with me, just a reminder with the verse above:  God’s grace is sufficient for you; God’s grace is sufficient for me.  He makes my weakness my strength.  He does the same for you.

 

When you are challenged with a tough-parent-day (similar to a bad-hair-day), God’s grace is sufficient for you.  When you have made a mistake as a spouse, God’s grace is sufficient for you to apologize to your significant other first and swallow whatever pride you think you deserve.  When you are challenged with your everyday battle that you always face at work, at home, at karate class, at whatever place you find yourself, God’s grace is sufficient for you to rest in the power of Christ and let Him perfect you.

 

I know.  You look at me and see a perfect dad, a perfect husband, and a perfect friend.  Let me burst your bubble.  I am only two of those things.  I’ll let you decide which two.  I am kidding, of course.  I am only one of those things.  As you may also struggle, I struggle with trying to be a great dad, a great husband, and a decent human being.  Maybe you don’t struggle with any of this, as I mentioned earlier, but you can relate because you used to be imperfect and know the pain I feel.

 

Some days I seek complete rescue, but, maybe God doesn’t want to rescue us completely.  Maybe, like Paul, He wants us to have a reminder that I need His grace.  I need His power to lift me out of my weaknesses.  I need this to remember to call out to Him when I am not at my best, for when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Fortunately, God doesn’t keep His grace from me.  Fortunately, I do not need much to be satisfied.  I just need a drop.  Just think:  if I only need a drop of grace to be perfected more and more, how quickly would I drown if He gave it all to me all at once?  As much as I want it, I don’t think I could handle it, so He gives me what I can handle.  Drop by drop.

 

Drop by drop there is a slow drip of grace to my soul to be satisfied.  Drop by drop God strengthens me.  Drop by drop He perfects me.  His power is perfect for what I need today and every day.

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Rearview Mirror, 2016

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What a year.  So full of hope and promise.  Big goals.  Big dreams.  Big hopes of getting stuff done.  Then video games as the path of least resistance, lack of vision and motivation to stay focused on the goal.  Distracted by other “important” things like hashtag wars on Twitter, or…sitting.  Well, maybe not just sitting, but certainly distracted.

 

Year-long goals can be hard, especially when you are not conditioned to set, plan, and execute them, as I am.  I ended 2015 wanting to read 10 books in 2016.  I wanted to write more.  I wanted to get promoted at work.  I wanted to expand my career options.  I wanted to…do a lot of things.  But I got complacent.  I didn’t plan as well as I could have.  

 

There are some things I did do well, though.  Or there are things that did go well.  My wife left her corporate job and started her own sales coaching business, and I helped her by supporting her, taking care of the kids in the evenings, and giving her time to ramp up.  I also did take on some more responsibilities and learned some new procedures at work to put myself in a better position to be promoted.

 

Here are a couple of things that did go well:

-Drew closer to God

My wife started her own business and left her corporate job.  That provided opportunities for me to serve my family, so I did.  I took on some more responsibility around the house by taking the girls to hockey practice or karate classes and by getting them ready for bed on nights my wife had evening appointments or classes.  I definitely drew closer to God seeking patience while spending more time than usual with my kids, who are…lovely come bath time.  It was also a time to draw closer to God trusting that He would help provide for her business or not.  It has been a great year trusting in Him.

 

-Took on some work opportunities

I work in a lab, and my main role up to this year has been analysis of the samples that come in.  Early in the year I was asked to start training on the sample processing side of the lab, called the wet lab.  Part of the catch of doing this was changing my schedule a bit from a 9 AM start time to a 6 AM.  Quite a change that was only going to be on the days I was in the wet lab, but I ended up changing my schedule to 6 AM permanently.  To say the least, I am tired by the end of the week.  The good thing about that change is it helps my wife with her business by being home to take care of the kids after school.  I also applied for a couple of open positions at work, one would have been a promotion and the other added responsibility.  I didn’t get either – the promotion due to lack of experience, and the other due to an improper fit with my career goals.  There were some good things to not getting these roles, though.  Getting passed for the promotion gave me things to improve on, and the other role helped me realize what direction I want to take my career.

 

Cliche of the blog post:  If at first you don’t succeed, try again.  I’m not going to give up.  I’m regrouping, looking at what changes I need to make, and try again for 2017.

 

A year later I am looking forward.  I don’t have as many books to read through the year as my goal, but the goals haven’t really shrunk.  It may have expanded.

 

I just want to change the world.

 

Too big of a goal?

 

Maybe.  Here are some things I want to do in 2017:

-Use my blog to tell parenting stories and share the gospel.  

I’ve been a Christian a long time but only recently have started to understand the freedom God brings.  I want to share how He is transforming me into a better person and parent.  He has a lot of work to do, by the way.

 

-Speak up for the poor.

I am an armchair activist, but I still strive to make a difference.  So I will donate to the cause.  A friend is a missionary in Brazil, last year I was introduced to Charity Water that builds wells in Africa and 100% of the money donated goes to building wells, and recently I was introduced to Speak Up For The Poor, which is an organization that educates girls who would otherwise be sex trafficked in Bangladesh.  I know there is more that can be done.  I am starting by helping with my wallet.

 

-Activate politically.

We live in troubling times regardless of what side of the political aisle you stand on.  There are so many issues that need attention such as global warming, or racial profiling, or improving the education system, which are very different but still important these days.  I don’t know where I will focus my energy as of right now, so I am going to start by contacting my local representative.  You should too.  I’ve spent too much time only being involved around the time of presidential elections.  Time to stand up and get some work done.

 

-Continuous improvement

I am hoping the extra effort I put in last year at work pays off and leads to a title upgrade. To go along with that I look forward to expanding my skill set.  It seems that I am a nerd and am interested in data.  The business world of today is driven by having data.  There is a great Hidden Brain podcast episode about Uber and the data they collect to improve their business.  I would like to do that do that for my company, but that is going to require some education on my part in data science and analysis.  In general, I am always learning through audiobooks and podcasts.  Now is time to educate myself some to grow my career.

 

Here is what I will do not matter what:

-Draw near to God

I can try to change the world, but, one, it will only matter if I do it with Jesus, and, two, it can only be done with Jesus.  What is making it…interesting is lately I feel like I’m being attacked and hindered from accomplishing something for God.  This gives me even more reason to lean on Him.

 

-Try again

Year-long goals is not a regular thing I do.  I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions, nor do I normally set goals for myself and try and accomplish them.  This is a new venture for me, and I did not do so well in 2016.  Practice makes perfect.

 

Let’s go get 2017!

 

How did your year go?

 

What went well for you?

 

Where could you improve?

 

What are you looking forward to most in 2017?

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Ants Marching

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If you follow me on social media, you’re probably mildly aware that we have an ant problem in our house. They show up in my kitchen. They show up in my dining room area. There have been thousands strong (maybe exaggerating) crawling from the window, across the wall, and convening behind my couch. They have been in bathrooms. They have been surrounding the doorway of my daughter’s bedroom. They have been crawling out of a vent into my wife’s purse by the front door.

 

They are terribly annoying, but mildly fascinating. Ants seem to be working together in concert for the greater good, but they each have their own task. From what I understand, when they cross each other’s paths, they bump heads together as a way to communicate with one another and tell each other what they are doing. Don’t quote me on that. Do your research and ask Google. But it looks like they work together, overall. Kind of like how humans do, most of the time.

 

Unless you watch the news. Unless you listen to or watch a presidential debate. Unless you express an opinion on Facebook or Twitter. Unless you disagree with someone on social media and you can anonymously attempt to destroy them with words. Unless you’re standing in line at Starbucks and can’t get off the phone long enough to order your coffee and pay for it. Unless you cut me off in traffic.

 

Then you need to go ahead and die, because that is what you deserve. Death is what you deserve for having an opinion that is different than mine because you have a different world view based on different experiences. You don’t deserve to breathe because you made a mistake in your car.

 

I am not innocent of hurling insults at people, online, or in person, or just in my head when all you did was say hello to me. I am guilty of swearing at you for tailgating me as I tailgate the car in front of me, or if you forgot to use your turn signal when turning right and you made me slow down a little more than I would have preferred. I am guilty of thinking or calling people stupid for stating their political preference.

 

But you don’t deserve to die. Or if you do, so do I, because we all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. We are all human. We are all the same. And we are all different. And we are all the same. We all want the same thing.

 

We want to live.

 

Or at least the chance at life. Some of us don’t get that chance for one reason or another, and that needs to change.

 

Again, I am guilty of making judgments about people based on a mistake, a quick glance at their appearance, or something said near me that I don’t have any context for. In fact, I had a brief argument with my wife the other day. The determination was made that I shouldn’t judge people. I said, “But I’m really good at it.” She said, “No you’re not because your judgment is usually wrong.” I said, “Yeah, but in a judgment made in only one second, I’m really good.” She said, “That’s what makes you bad!” I didn’t win the argument.

 

I’ve been catching myself lately, reminding myself that the person I have ill will towards, am judging based on zero facts or third-hand stories, or just looks or sounds different than I do, is a human. Just like I am a human. He or she is made in God’s image, just as I am made in God’s image, which makes both of us perfect in His eyes.

 

What if we lived with that at the forefront of our minds? What if I looked at people that way immediately, instead of after I took a breath because they made me mad? What if I loved people, people that are not my friends and not just like me which is why they are my friends, the way God loves them and the way God loves me? What if I lived like the people around me all have hopes and dreams just like I do? And that they are just trying to do what makes them happy.

 

I need to remind myself of this regarding my kids more often. They are not disobeying for the sake of it. They are just trying to do what makes them happy. I need to remember this when my coworker uses my desk. She is just trying to get her work done. It may be frustrating to me, but it isn’t personal. I don’t think it is, anyway.

 

I pray for God’s hand of peace upon the world. It seems futile. Not because He is not there or because He’s not listening. I know He listens, and I know He is there. But because I know the ending, and it is scary to think about. All I can do is prepare myself, my family, and my kids. Tragedy happens all too often these days. Controversy stirs up debates globally and locally and personally. I pray for the strength to not be deceived by misinformation that God is not enough for me, or for you. I pray that I have the strength to stand boldly in His name, even when it is not convenient, even when my life depends on it.

 

We’re all humans just trying to live out our dreams for ourselves. We’ll continue to bump heads, I’m sure. But I hope I remember to stay on task with God’s plan for my life and wish grace and peace and love to you as you continue with your task.

 

And I hope you do too.

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