Wait Until Your Father Gets Home

stuck truck

My foot shot out from under me at the speed of sound.  My tailbone found the slushy cold pavement with a thud.  There’s a good possibility that some salty language escaped my lips as I fell.

When I spoke to my wife before leaving work that day she suggested that maybe I shouldn’t buy a whole truckload of groceries, since I may not be able to navigate my truck up our slick, steep hill in the snow (it had been scraped when the photo was taken).  “Oh, I can get up the hill.”

So, with massive quantities of groceries on board, I failed miserably at conquering our hill.  After much tire burning, ditch cleaning, and backward sliding, I gave up.  I walked to the top of the driveway to get a shovel, just so I could dig out enough to get my truck out of the middle of the driveway.  As I walked back toward my truck, my frustration was compounded by the fact that none of my family (most notably my teen daughter and son) had appeared to help me tote groceries into the house.

And then I fell……into a dose of perspective.  As I finished my Yosemite Sam grumbling and returned to my feet, I heard footsteps coming behind me.  My faithful 9 year-old son Kal approached cheerfully, “Need some help?”  Of course I did.  He was wearing basketball shoes and no socks in the deep snow.  I told him over and over how much I appreciated his help as we made multiple trips up the hill carrying groceries (I may or may not have pointed out those who didn’t show up to help).

When we finished putting groceries away, I noticed a very important detail.  An open curtain that normally stays closed.

The reason he was the only one to offer help was that he was the only one in my family that was anxiously waiting and watching for my arrival.

Standing at the door.  Looking out of the window.  Waiting for dad to get home.

Kal is almost 10 now.  That will probably be the last time he ever stands at the window waiting for me to get home.  I think it’s one of the most important things for a father of young children to understand; it IS a big deal when you come home.  And it’s a big deal when you leave.

It’s likely that your kids are the only people on earth that will ever eagerly watch for your arrival.  They are the only ones that will beg to go with you when you leave.  Cherish these moments while they last and make the most of them.

Show excitement for coming home.  Show excitement for BEING home.  When they say, “Daddy, can I go?”, find a way to make the answer “yes”.   They won’t always want to be with you.  They won’t always want to talk to you.

Someone will guide them.  Something will influence them.  Let it be you.  Consistently.

Don’t worry yourself with trying to impress people that don’t matter.  Guide and influence the lives that do matter.  Be the best dad you can be….today and every day.

And if “daddy’s home” is still a big deal to somebody in your home……then it better be a big deal to daddy.

Let’s Pretend LIke We’re Not All a Bit Crazy

counddown to extinction

“Hello me! Meet the real me!” From Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets”

Does anybody really have it all together as much as they seem? All the time? Outward appearances may make it appear that way for some. Most of the time I appear to most as a perfectly sane person whose life would seem to be in decent order……or as much as could be expected for a husband, father of four, manager of a family business, middle school basketball coach, church leader. Full plates cultivate character, I guess?

I’m not ready to reveal the secret of where the bodies are hidden, but I do know that most people have a fine line between order and chaos that isn’t visible to others. Between peace and hopelessness. And even for Christians who may have their hope firmly rooted in Christ, it’s easy to find yourself at times on a downhill slide that leaves you in a serious mental funk. And you know better. But you can’t jump for joy because you feel like you can’t even stand up from being knocked down again. It only takes a few events of the wrong type to knock us down. But how do we prevent the knockout? And how do we force ourselves to continue to get back up?

I can’t pretend to write or know about life’s hardest blows that I haven’t experienced…..broken marriages, terminal illness, financial ruin. But I can write about the ongoing weight of leadership as it relates to a mighty and loving God.

“Feeling claustrophobic, like the walls are closing in….”

Heavy burdens of responsibility and leading seem so light at times when our trust and hope are in Christ. Stress……worry……nah, not me.

Matthew 6 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

And then I return to work after four days of visiting with family over Thanksgiving. And serious computer and network problems have left me 5 days behind…….and I still have to coach basketball in my spare time (about 4 1/2 hours of time on the 3 game days this week)……and I still have to get my kids to school and juggle schedules……and did I mention that my wife is out of town until the weekend……and did I mention that there is no physical way to spend the time at work required to “catch up”…….and did I mention that I had a severe headache that required 2 doctor visits and 3 shots over a 3-day period?

“If the war inside my head, would take a day off, I’d be dead.”

And a week later, life has edged back toward normalcy. People close to me knew only of my physical pain. But no one on earth knew of the the war in my head as I struggled with physical pain and the inability to function, lead or accomplish anything as I edged near some type of breaking point. Why do I keep it bottled up? Beause I’m supposed to carry other people, lead other people, hold them up. I have to be strong. No outward signs of weakness. Right? Yeah, sort of.

“Just keep swimming.”

Yes, I did jump from Megadeth lyrics to a Finding Nemo quote. It’s hard to bang into the head of a leader (especially men) that the world doesn’t stop spinning when we fail to accomplish things. Colossians 3:23 tells us to do our best for the Lord, but it doesn’t say to die trying. Take care of yourself and don’t pretend to be invicible. We can’t provide for or enjoy our families from a cemetary (or find success in business, for what it’s worth?). Know when it’s time to swim at a slower pace. Slowing down does not equal defeat. Every day is not meant for world records……thriving. Recognize “survival” days.

I can have full understanding that my strength comes from the Lord, but if I fail to recognize my need for him in times of weakness…….

It gets harder and harder to stand back up, and I find myself be knocked back down again seemingly by smaller and smaller things. Don’t be afraid to slow down. Let someone else fight the fires at work that you’re convinced will burn the entire universe. Let someone else coach your basketball team. Step away from church duties. Do something you’ve never dreamed of doing, SIT STILL and recover. Circle the wagons and heal. As long as your children are fed, warm, and clothed….. take a rest from the rest of the world. Trust God to reveal to you what is really important, and peace will return. Sometimes it becomes necessary to simplify your surroundings, your outlook, and your ambitious nature. And be honest with yourself and with others. When people ask if you are ok, just say “NO, but I’ll be ok. I just need to be left alone.” If God places someone in your path that has the ability and willingness to “refresh” you in some way, don’t turn them away. Even though life does come in quick bursts, life itself is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Be there for the end.
As Moses told his people as they faced the Red Sea in the front and the Egyptians in the back, in Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

And google the lyrics for “Sweating Bullets” if I lost you.

Can’t We All Just Match?

Great exchange from Airplane,

“Maybe we oughta turn on the search lights now?”  Rex Kramer’s response, “No, that’s just what they’ll be expecting us to do.”

rex kramer

Who knew this classic line could have such real life applications.  I find myself quoting it often.  It serves as a great reminder: do the right thing instead of simply doing what you think others are expecting you to do.  The key there is that God provides the definition of what is the right thing and I cannot take it upon myself to alter it.  Otherwise, it’s a healthy exercise to always ask why and to figure out who you’re trying to please: self, others, or God.

Maybe I see myself as a poster boy for “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, refusing to conform to superficial expectations.  Living for God does not require that we look or sound a certain way.  I dress like a bum, talk like a hillbilly, and rarely shave (and I’m probably guilty of intentionally making it too easy for others to misjudge me by appearances).   Maybe in the same way we judge our youth by their appearances?

You can’t see someones heart by looking at their hair, clothes, tattoos, or nose rings.

clown car

Or in this case, by their loud shoes and socks.  First impression as a coach:  you’re not wearing those loud colors that scream “look at me!” like a Chad Johnson touchdown celebration.  Teams should match (why?……ok, just because Bobby Knight is rolling over in his grave and he’s not dead yet……ok not a good reason).  OK, these are acceptable, because I do know these young men, and I do get a glimpse of their heart each time we’re together to practice or play.

Character, integrity, and intelligence cannot be measured by outward appearance.

And life is just too short to worry about matching.

Daddy, I Did It!

KR Macy Disney

Take a small child to a putt-putt golf course. Play 18 holes, don’t use a score card. See what happens each time they sink a putt, even if it takes 12 tries? They look back at mom or dad to see if you are watching. You may not hear the incessant “daddy, watch!”, but they look for you after each accomplishment, each small victory. Approval. Encouragement. Don’t be distracted by scorecards and schedules to the point that you miss countless opportunities each day to cheer them on. Teach them to believe in themselves.

Take a step back from the line of fire.  Don’t get so caught up in their actions that you miss their reactions.  At a Disney parade when a small child sees a favorite character up close for the first time, don’t watch the character.  Treasure the look of wonder on your childs face.  When they catch their first fish, don’t let your attention be taken by the darn fish.   Enjoy the look of accomplishment that glows in their smile.  First time they swing the bat and make contact with a ball, shut up about how they can do it better the next time.   Look on their face for a new look of confidence and triumph.

My three oldest kids have played three and four sports each.  My youngest son, even though he has been encouraged many times to try a sport, has never tried to compete in any sport.  Why had he never tried, in a sports-crazy family?  An overheard conversation with another boy, “because I’m just not good at any sports.”

Ouch!  And double ouch!  Lesson learned.  Encouraging someone to do something IS NOT the same thing as encouraging them to believe they can do it, to believe in themselves.  I’m not a child pschologist by any means (but I’ve seen every episode of Leave It To Beaver and Andy Griffith), but I assume that kids are always looking to their parents for their response, for their approval, for their encouragement……….because they doubt.  When we fail to chase away the doubt, it becomes fear, fear of failure I suppose.  Fear leads adults to be frozen in place.  Fear cannot lead our children to a life of “inaction”.

kal 5k

Recently, Kal finished a 5K race (his first, obviously).  I was caught behind him encouraging him along the route, so I didn’t get to see his face when he crossed the finish line.  Thankfully a dear friend captured a real treasure of a picture.  The look on his face,

“Mom, Dad, I did it!”

Take care to notice and celebrate each small victory with your kids.  Watch the looks on their faces.  Look for daily opportunities to teach them to conquer their fears.  It’s ok to fail………it’s not ok to be controlled by a fear of failure.

Are You Even Listening to Me?

I ask my kids if they are listening to me.
“Yeah, I’m listening”
And they occasionally get the brilliant parent/coach comeback, “OK, repeat back to me what I just told you.” The results aren’t usually good.
Maybe an equally important question for parents is, “Am I even listening to you?” How would I fare if they turned the tables on me? Not too good. “Dad, are you even listening to me? OK, what did I just say?”
Honestly……..”OK son, I missed what you said because I was looking right over the top of your head to see if the Bengals were gonna blow another game. I quit listening because you’re not as important to me as this UK basketball game I’m trying to watch. I tuned you out because it is soooo important that I gather useless facts on Facebook and Twitter or write some thoughts in a blog (no, of course that’s not something I could do in the three hours I’m awake after you go to bed).”
Thankfully it’s not that bad. I learned a powerful lesson from my wife years ago when my oldest daughter (17 now) was a toddler. I was doing something totally right, totally by accident of course, and she caught me in the act. “Karrick, when Macy talks, you just look at her and hang on every word like it’s the most important thing in the world.” Well, uh…..it is. But I didn’t actually realize it until she spoke those words: 1) that I was even doing it or 2) the importance of showing our kids (and anyone else in our lives for that matter) that we value them simply by listening to their words.
Thanks to her lesson that day I have managed to get these situations right at least half the time instead of 10% of the time.
In a time where everybody has some sort of “device” in their hand or in their line of vision, it becomes more important than ever to remind ourselves that the most important interactions that we have throughout each day MUST come with the people who we share a room with…..especially when it’s our own children.
Listen to them now in their early years. They will continue to talk to you and listen to you in later years.
Treasure each spoken word. And be prepared to repeat them back when asked.

Life Is An Inside Joke

stop eating all our steaks

I find myself so many times these days simply giving thanks to God for laughter.  Lying awake in bed at 3am, afraid that I will wake my wife because I’m shaking the bed with laughter because a funny thought from a funny moment earlier in the evening just keeps returning to my mind.  A knee-slapping, laughing until the danger of vomitting becomes real, people coming from the next room to see what’s going on type of moment.  A moment I shared with my youngest son in this case.   A memory made (a clean one too).  Wouldn’t it be great if we could fill our days and those of our children with memories of uncontrollable laughter?

Life is an inside joke.
When we fail to share laughter with others, we miss out on the joke. We don’t get it.  When we spend a lifetime laughing, the same jokes continue to make us laugh, time after time.  Little things that have no meaning or humor to others trigger a smile or a laugh with you and your partners in joy.  Sharing experiences with our children. Who are they building a wealth of inside jokes with?  Or more importantly, who are you (specifically dads!) sharing yours with? Golfing buddies, co-workers, male friends in general?  Laughing at crude, adult humor that you wouldn’t find so funny in the presence of your kids?  Seems harmless….I guess. But what’s wrong with trying to start an example of purity in yourself that you surely hope to see displayed by and around your kids. Man up. Grow up. Clean it up. Look for opportunities to find humor in life WITH your kids.
Start building a lifetime of laughter and “trigger memories” with your kids (inside jokes). You will GET IT tomorrow, because you were all there together sharing in it today.   Share your life with your kids. If you wouldn’t say it, do it, or watch it when they are around……you get the point.
Search for things in life you can do with your kids, experiences that can be shared……laughed at….remembered……and laughed at again, over and over.  I don’t particularly want my kids to be goofy.  But I sure hope they always know how to act goofy.  And I hope they see their dad doing it plenty.  I’m ok with raising a comedian.  I just don’t want them to think they need to sound like Richard Pryor or Andrew Dice Clay to get a laugh.

A little unicorn Thanksgiving humor always works.  I don’t really “get it”, but I’m sure everybody else in our family does.  And I’m sure we’ll all continue to get laughs from it years down the road.

maddie unicorn

Enter their world.  Let them into yours.  Share the laughter.

I’m Gonna Change My Name From “MOM”!


Being a parent looks so easy when you aren’t one.

You have all the answers.  “If that was my kid…….”

When a baby cries during church service…….I’d take them out, of course.

When a child speaks disrespectfully in public to his parents……..I’d teach him respect.

When a child whines and cries and gets on everyone’s last nerve…….I’d give him something to cry about.

And then, you are a parent.  And you realize that you have no clue what you’re doing.

The lessons that you were so certain you could teach, they escape you because you have

entered some sort of survival mode.

You are so clueless that you don’t even know how clueless you are.

There is no vision for lessons to be learned or direction

of your parental influence because it’s all you can do to get through the day.

If you have now or have had two in diapers at once,

and possibly an older sibling or another on the way……

Consider yourself lucky if you read this from the safe confines of your home

and not from an institutional setting.

But you aren’t lucky.

You are blessed.

Surviving those early years as a parent isn’t easy.  Figuring it out as you go, trial and error.

Are we doing this right?

Sleepless nights, pulling out every possible ploy just to allow yourself to eat a meal.

And for moms, the phenomenon of struggling to find time to shower

(or use the potty alone).

You don’t give a flying fudgestick if your kids annoy other people in public because your life is a warzone.


That day comes, you hear a baby squalling in church.  But it’s different now.

A wide smile takes over you whole face as you start looking around for that guy who’s thinking,

“if that was my kid…..”

You know now that it’s the sweetest sound in the world.

The days become more frequent when you can come up for air.

Kids can dress, feed, and bathe themselves.

Lost brain cells re-generate.  Perspective appears again.

This greatest realization comes at some point.

When you are blessed with children, every age is the greatest age!

Opportunities to teach lessons and learn them yourself,

they change in nature but not in number.

The joy of being a parent.  Some days, in the midst of life’s struggles,

you have to look harder to find it.  But it’s there.

Don’t become so occupied with life that you forget to look for the joy.

My own kids are 17, 15, 14, & 8 now.

I suppose having a senior in high school can bring one to a crisis of the mind.

For me, I find myself reflecting more now than at any other point in my life.

What did my wife and I do right as parents yesterday?

What can we do better tomorrow?

Now back to the original statement:

“I’m going to change my name from MOM”

Everyone has heard this humorous phrase in the world of badgering kids.

But in a world of badgering kids, there is no greater joy, blessing, or privilege

than being called MOM or DAD.

Each time we hear it, it should remind us that there is great purpose for our lives.

Every day that I hear the word “dad” (or daddy as my oldest still calls me),

it should remind me

that every day is the most important day of my life!

The Model Father

How do we measure the lasting effect of a father’s influence?

I’m 45 years old.  I still make daily decisions under the thought process of,

“how would my dad handle this situation?”

KR and Pappaw at Final Four

Why?  Not because he ever micro-managed any aspect of my life at any point.

Not because he talked so much that I quit listening.

My father has modeled for me through the years the simple practice of doing the right thing, making good decisions.

How long will my influence last in the lives of my four children?

When does the talking and the hands-on teaching start to fade away and give way to the

practice of consistent modeling for a Christian dad (or mom)?


Teaching moments come in obvious forms when our children are small.

Their blunders are obvious.  The inquisitive questions are many.

But what may not seem obvious is that our time with them and their dependence on us diminishes with each passing day.

Before you realize it, your kids aren’t kids anymore.  They become teenagers, young men, young ladies.


They don’t particlarly want to spend too much time in the presence of their dad anymore (shocking, right?).

You may reach some strange realization that your role as a father is diminished.  You just aren’t “needed” for much anymore.

What happened to the days when you sat in the floor coloring, playing board games, wrestling?

The days of being bombarded with goofy questions?  “Why daddy?”  “When daddy?”

Those days are gone.

What is my value in their life now?

Same role that it has always been for anyone who takes seriously the privilege of being called daddy.

Teacher, protector, mentor, provider……..model.

Your children are no longer standing over your shoulder watching your every move and bombarding you with questions.


But they’re still watching.  In many ways, their need for you may be greater than ever during their teenage years.

The opportinities to be a positive impact in their lives haven’t gone away, they’ve just rearranged a bit.

Do your kids hear people only talking about the importance of prayer and bible study?

Or do they witness their parents consistently doing these things?  Do they see that it’s a priority in your life?


To understand the importance of Christian modeling by parents is to come to realize that each day is filled with endless opportunities to do great things that will make a lasting impact in the lives of our children.

How will they understand the concepts of love, grace, and obedience to God if we don’t bring these things to life consistently in their presence each day?

So many chances each day……to do the right thing…..to simply obey God, even when it’s not the easiest path to take.

They may not be asking questions, but they’re watching.  And they’re grading you.  Do your actions match up with what they’re learning that it means to be a Christian?

Every word, every encounter, every day, they all count.

Honesty, integrity, and purity in every situation.  No exceptions.

Treating others with kindness, respect, and love.  Choosing our words and tone of voice wisely.  They’re listening.

Grace.  Do we forgive?  Do we quickly admit our own mistakes and ask forgiveness?

I’m not sure when kids pass that tipping point of whether or not they still want to be just like dad when they grow up.

But I’m positive that if I give my best effort each day to obey God and to match my own character with that of my savior Jesus Christ……

that desire will never leave them.

Seek the type of lasting impact that has positive eternal consequences.

OK, I guess I really am still needed around here!

You Found WHAT in Your Kid’s Room?

rooted in christ
People would normally expect to or fear finding the wrong things in teenager’s rooms.
I found this picture that my daughter had painted on the wall in her room.
I never noticed it before because the door covers it when it swings open.
Don’t know how long ago she painted it.
It reads Colossians 2:7 “rooted in Christ”.
Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,
7  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.
I’m thankful for people in my kids’ lives that help them grow the roots of their own faith.
Parents alone can’t do it.
I  live in a small town.
I love our small town.
I see evidence in my own kids and the kids in our community each day,
evidence of the influence of a body of believers who surround our children each day with love.

Matthew 22:36-39

 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Great things happen when people simply love God and love others.
Lives are changed.  Hope appears in places where there was none.
I love our schools and I’m thankful for teachers who have a genuine concern for the welfare of their students.
I’m thankful for my kids’ friends and their parents who love my children like their own and watch over them when I’m not around.
I’m thankful for my church and all the wonderful people in our community who truly love our children
and try their best to steer them down the right path.
I’m thankful for coaches who see our kids beyond the next game or season, and try to envision what kind of character they develop.
Seeing this and reflecting on these things serves as a powerful reminder for me
of the difference that each of us can make, one child at a time.
I assume that most people are like me (not seeing yourself as possessing any great spiritaul gifts/talents).
We can all love.
Most of us don’t struggle with hate.  The struggle is with apathy & complancency.
We make choices every day, to live for self or live for others, to get involved or to turn our back and walk away.
Choose love.
Pray for our children, for their future.
And search for the determination to make a difference in their future.
Pray for parents and all who spend time with our children.  Encourage them.
Be rooted in Christ, not in our own shortcomings and weakness.
Acknowledge that our own inadequacies are overcome by a  mighty God
Let your life demonstrate the hope and the peace that we can have in knowing Jesus
I’m feeling sort of “mighty” now…..how about you?

Don’t Blink- You’ll Miss Something Funny

This is a collection of short stories (very short) of family humor posted on Facebook over the past year.

Al Bundy or Kal Bundy??

kal bundy

At Dairy Queen with my 7 year-old son Kal,

we ran into one of his buddies.

After visiting their table, he returned to ask me if he could leave

with them to watch a basketball game at a local elementary school.

I said, “sure son.”

Kal, “Thanks dad, I’m gonna go to the bathroom first.”

I hand him $2, “take this buddy, you’ll need it to get in.”

He paused and gave me a  puzzled look.

“I need $2 to get in the bathroom?”


It’s always good to have plenty of good help when you’re putting groceries away.

We haven’t reached epic Duggar quantities of food yet, but for a family of 6,

any help I can get is valued.

“I know I bought biscuits, but I don’t see them in the fridge anywhere.”

biscuits in cabinet

Sometimes it takes creativity to stir the interest of kids in sports.

Sometimes they create on their own.

Poor picture quality so it’s hard to see the tambourine behind his back.

“Look dad, I can dribble and play the tangerine at the same time.”

Anybody have an accordian I can borrow?

kal tambourine

Staying up late watching Reds game with my good buddy Kal since we both had huge naps this afternoon.

So thankful for the steady stream of Viagra and Cialis commercials.

Been looking for a good chance to explain erectile dysfunction to my 6-year old.


Ipod wizard Kal introduced me to the voice command feature on my phone today.

My first command, “play Stormtroopers of Death”. (cd title is “Speak English or Die)

When Kal saw the album art come up on screen he said,

“Dad, that album is probably offensive to Mexicans.”

He may be right.  Political correctness wasn’t real big in 1985.


On my knees crawling around in my shrubs, painting my porch front and steps.

Kept smelling something funky,

Realized that it was the distinct odor of human urine that I was crawling around in.

Then it all came rushing back to me…..bringing up boys…..that first time I uttered those magic words,

“just pee off the porch, son”

and how that evolved into a consistent, “hey dad! can I pee off the porch?”.

“Sure, son.  Pour it on.” (no pun intended).

Better than cat pee or dog crap I guess.