Raising Strong Daughters #2: Girls Need to Fish With Their Dad


Little girls may not necessarily need to learn to fish in order to survive as adults.  But any time they feel like they’re the only person or the most important person in the world to their dad has to build a strong sense of value and security that carries into their adult lives.

I recall family camping trips at a local state park when my kids were small.  Macy was 6, Maddie 4, Karrick Ryne 3 at the time.  Camping with large groups of friends who also have small children creates large doses of chaos (and volume).

There were times when I would “sneak” Macy away from the surrounding wildness of the other 12 kids and head to the shaded lake shore with our fishing poles.  Quiet time.  Just one of my little girls and me.  Sometimes she was content to play with the worms.  Sometimes she caught fish and got excited.  But these moments were special……..just the two of us.

We never talked much.  Still don’t today.  Actions speak louder than words.  Just  being there for your daughter consistently has great value (especially at times when conversation becomes awkward).

As Maddie got a little older, she tagged along too.  It always seemed like the natural thing to say when we were together, “Girls, my favorite thing in the world to do is to go fishing with you!”  And it truly was.  I knew life was good.

I’m sure they didn’t know how much they meant to their dad during those times.  But it’s because of those times that they know how much they mean to me now.

Daughters are to be treasured by their dads.  If we want them to stand strong as they grow older, they must know how valued they are every step along the way.  I may be stretching things a bit here, but I’m betting that little girls that do a lot of fishing (or other things obviously) with their dads have a lot less doubts and insecurities as they get older.

Dads need to look for and create those times where their girls know they are the most important thing in the world to you.  Erase doubts.  Make them a priority.  Treasure them.

My girls’ interest in fishing faded in their teen years.  I booked a fishing charter on vacation a couple of years ago, and I’m pretty sure my girls only went because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings.  Somewhere in their minds, they probably heard, “girls, my favorite thing in the world to do is to go fishing with you.”  So they went.  And I was the one who felt treasured.


I pretty much quit inviting them after that.  Didn’t want to guilt them into it.  On a beach vacation last year, I had been rising early in the morning to surf-fish with my boys most days.  One night Macy shocked me by asking if she could go the next morning.  I was truly touched.  Just like old times.  Quiet times, just the two of us.  Not a lot of conversation.  Just me and my big girl.  The unspoken bond built from a lifetime of moments like this (and a shared memory of being told “you can’t fish here anymore because catching sharks is illegal.”………somebody forgot to tell the shark).


Not strong because they fish…….strong because their dad treasures them, spends time with them.

How Will I Laugh Tomorrow…..When I Can’t Even Smile Today?

dead end

If we fail to choose a destination, we most likely will end up in a place that we didn’t choose to be.

Punk/thrash band Suicidal Tendencies covers this concept pretty well in their 1988 song “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow…”   the next line is “when I can’t even smile today.


Day after day, we live moment to moment, with no vision or planning for the future. No intention in our actions, no direction.  Just getting by.  Our mental state and our next action are dictated by the circumstances that we find ourselves digging out of, instead of our planning and intentions.

“The clock keeps ticking, but nothing else seems to change
Problems never solved, just rearranged
And when I think about all the times that I’ve had
Some were good most were bad”

How did I reach this point? 

Maybe a better question would be, “how did I expect to wind up anywhere else?”

When my sons do something brainless and get a horrible result, my reaction is often, “Son!  What did you think was gonna happen?”

They didn’t think far enough ahead (or they didn’t think at all).  Their vision only reached the next 2 seconds and five feet ahead.

Extend this decision making process into adulthood.

Everyone has heard, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

Eventually, our days are filled with do overs and damage control.

We can’t concern ourselves with saving money when we’re stressing over scraping up enough to pay this months bills.

We don’t worry about where our kids will be at 18 when we are constantly at the end or our rope with a couple of toddlers.

We don’t worry about running a 5k race when we’re ready to pass out from climbing a flight of stairs.

We can’t make plans for a better career path, when we’re struggling to hang on to the job we have.

We ruin new relationships because our current relationships are such a mess that we stay in a terrible state of mind.

Try to give a youth basketball player advice on shooting mechanics.  Even if you’ve witnessed 15 straight misses and just want to offer a minor adjustment to their technique, the answer is always the same………”it just doesn’t feel right”.  Translation=I’m comfortable doing it the wrong way and I’m not gonna change.

We are all guilty of this; only willing to make changes and adjustments in cases where we see instant results, improvement, or gratification.

We only concern ourselves with making that “next shot”.  Five years from now, we still can’t shoot.  We lose our love for the game, doubt our value to the team, and basketball becomes a miserable experience.

How will I laugh tomorrow, when I can’t even smile today?

Make a choice to laugh tomorrow.  But making changes today doesn’t always mean that the laughter comes today.  Stay the course.  Change the future.

Make plans.

Make changes, even if you don’t see immediate results.

Obviously, we aren’t guaranteed of tomorrow.  But we don’t have to find ourselves in a mess when it does come …..because we ignore it today and fail to prepare for it.

Don’t settle for being comfortable doing things the wrong way.  Don’t be afraid to tackle difficult changes with an eye on the future.





My Brother’s Keeper


“Mom, Dad never has time to do stuff with me any more”.

Pretty sobering words relayed to me by my wife from my 8 year old son.  I responded in typical male fashion- defense mode, “I know, but I just can’t help it right now.  There’s nothing I can do about it”.

John 10:10

New International Version (NIV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Life to the full.  What’s that supposed to look like for a follower of Christ?  Eternity is a long time.  Point our eyes toward heaven and do something while we are here and do it well.  We’re not on this earth long enough to sit still or to wallow in mediocrity.

I can’t offer the perfect formula for balance in life.  Like a training athlete, we have to be willing to push ourselves and to be pushed.  We can take on such an overwhelming load that God’s presence and strength obviously carries us through, and our faith grows.  Or we can fly around wildly, over-promising ourselves and under-including God and littering our world with a whole lotta C- efforts…..just getting by.  Maybe this is the way that many of us truly develep our trust in God, by failing and seeing more clearly our dependence on Him.  It’s the logical next step that comes after “I’m about to have a complete beakdown.  I can’t handle this”.  Either way, we learn of the importance of seeking His will and His strength and trusting Him more each step along the way.

Life to the full.  Wife and four kids.  Demanding job managing a family business.  Involved in church leadership and teaching Sunday school.  Coaching middle school basketball and Upward basketball.  Two daughters in high school track, cross-country, and soccer.   Doing laundry at 2am to make sure everybody has clean uniforms and underwear for the next day.  Certainly not taking advantage of all my opportunities but certainly not sitting still.

BOOM!  A lifetime of suffering with migraine headaches is taken away.  My basketball coaching load is taken away.  I have TIME.  I have prolonged clarity of thought for the first time in my life.  Clarity told me that I’ve been working 40 hours a week at a 65 hour a week job for the last 15 years in an effort to raise children that make a difference in this world (definitely not something I regret, but something that has left a stinky trail of mediocrity in its path).  So I’m not only tackling today’s problems with energy and focus, I’m backtracking and fixing yesterday’s problems, and preventing tomorrow’s problems.  Sure, now is the best time to do this.  It’s ok to work 60-65 hour weeks NOW.

“Dad never has time to do stuff with me now”

“There’s nothing I can do about it”

TRUTH.  When we are where God wants us to be, doing the things that He desires for us to do, He provides a way.  Satan provides excuses and we can’t wait to grab them and use them.  Most likely, the responsible thing for me to do in the short-term is to continue to work extended hours while I have the focus and energy to fix the results of my years of neglect.  But as far as finding time to do things with my youngest son, I can do something about it besides make excuses.  Claiming to be “tired” in the evenings is not an option.   Plan something and do it.  And don’t pawn off “dad duties” on mom or big brother.

And that brings me to the greatest point in this long and winding story.  When we are faithful (and apparently even when we are just somewhat faithful but willing to admit our failure) God provides a way.  When you are living for God, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough of you to go around as a dad (or a mom), He provides a way to fill in the gaps.  Special people……grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, youth ministers are there to provide that special something.  When that little voice in your head says, “I can’t do it all”, don’t give up.  Do your best and trust Him with the rest.  Obviously I can try harder as a parent, but I can see clearly now how God has filled in the gaps with an awesome mom and older brother.

My 3 great lessons for the week:

1)  It’s not acceptable to make excuses for not having or making time for our kids.  Plan it.  Do it.

2)  Where I have shortcomings as a father, I am so thankful these shortcomings seem to be perfectly offset and overcome by the strengths of my wife.  In the case Kal, our 8 year-old son, I’m thankful the God gave him the best mom in the world to do the exact things that I have failed to do (like teach him to ride a bike).

3)  Kal is truly blessed to have a big brother that takes care of him when the responsibilities of life call mom and dad in other directions.  Saturday, it was truly like seeing up close, the hand of God at work, as Kal’s 14 year-old brother selflessly devoted his entire day (and night) to playing with, entertaining, teaching,  and patiently listening to his little brother.  He takes care of his little brother, not because he’s been instructed to but because he wants to.  That’s not a normal teenage boy thing.   That’s a “what God’s love looks like” thing.  And it’s pretty cool to see when you aren’t really expecting it.

I can’t do it all.  But I don’t have to.  But I still have to try.  And I have to trust.  And mediocrity is not acceptable.



What Men Really Want (And why we don’t get it)

Can't always get what you want

Because we just don’t “get it”?

Ephesians 5:21-23

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

There is potential to have excessive amounts of fun with this one.  But since most who will read this know me personally (mainly my dear wife), I will refrain from following my first instincts of man humor.  But this list will not include fast cars, lottery winnings, and a “10”.

What do men really want?  Maybe that’s a terrible question.  What should men rightfully expect or hope for from their wives (and to some degree, from their families)?

1)  To be heard.  We hate to repeat ourselves because no one is listening.  We don’t like to be ignored.  We want our words to have value to others.  But……(Our words have no value to others.  They become absent of God’s truths, love, and wisdom.  Our words fail to encourage, build up, or lead in godly ways.  We speak in a tone of voice that would send us into orbit if someone talked to us in that tone.)

2)  Trust our judgement.  Men do not like to be questioned.  Not just major stuff like what’s for dinner.  Minor stuff like “are you sure we’re going the right way?”.  Mainly we are just like any other human; we don’t like to be treated like we’re idiots.  If we’ve made a few good decisions over the years, just trust us to make a few more.  But…..(How sound is our judgement?  How much thought actually goes into our decisions?  Does our thought process include God and His commands?  Selfish or selfless?)

3)  To be adored.  We prefer to spend our time with those who think we’re great.  But……(Obviously, we’re not, except in the eyes of our Heavenly Father and through His strength, love, and grace.  So we gravitate toward those who don’t grasp or suffer from our shortcomings.  We hide from accountability instead of making an honest effort to be a better husband.  It’s easier take the shortcut of spending your time with your kids, friends, and co-workers who tend to gratify you based on what you do instead of who you truly are)

4)  To be respected.  Treat us like you know we will work hard, do the right thing, treat others with kindness and respect.  But……(Duh, we just don’t earn it consistently over time.)

5)  Peace.  Not the kind that comes from knowing Jesus as your savior.  We’d just like to have an occasional dose of “a little slack”.  To rest, to be left alone, to fish, to golf, to do nothing for a day.  But…..(Our desire for “slack” is rooted in selfishness and laziness.  Not because we need to but simply because we want to.  Meanwhile our wives’ workloads double and our kids long for our attention…….I don’t know, maybe take your kid to the lake or golf course with you and ask your wife what you can do to help her?)

6)  Affection.  Did I mention that my wife and possibly my teen children and their friends might read this?   (Add up your failures in 1-5, talk to and listen to your wife, start bathing daily……..and you figure out the rest).

We want, we want.   But we usually aren’t willing to put out much of an effort if we are required to change our habits in any way.  Amazing changes happen in relationships when we submit to God’s commands, when we allow God to change us instead of living for selfish desires and demands.

Proverbs 3:5-7

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him,    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;  fear the Lord and shun evil.

Ok, I didn’t really get into the whole “wives submit to you husband thing” (and I won’t).  My main hope is to challenge men to submit to God.  Take steps each day to make yourself a worthy leader of your family.  Not necessarily someone to be submitted to, but someone who loves and trusts the Lord.  And from that love and trust, grows a level of obedience.  From obedience, grows a desire to love and serve others.  And from a consistent effort to stay on the paths that God desires for you:

You just might find, you get what you need.