Tag: children

The most important, yet thankless, job in the world

I had a little time off for the holidays. Oh, how nice it was. I mean, I love my job. I absolutely love it.

But being with my family for an extended amount of time? That’s hard to beat.

I built countless Lego sets with my son. TV binged with my wife. Changed…oh so many…poopy diapers. Took scooter rides around the neighborhood. Slept in. Stayed up late. Put together toys for Christmas morning. Read through, and colored through, the Advent. Worshipped with my family. And at the end of the day, I rested. I Sabbathed. And I needed it as much as the rest of my family.

I need to let you in on a little secret, though.

Tending to our home, and our 2 kids, was no small feat.

Yes, my wife was there. The whole time. But I tried to take a load off of her plate as much as I could. I changed every dirty diaper. Tended to every tear. Made peanut butter sandwiches. Disciplined the whines. Hugged the “injuries.” Cleaned the kitchen. Vacuumed the rug. Made the bed. And did whatever it took to give my wife a little break.

And through this, my respect level for my wife has gone through the roof.

The day-to-day operations of raising children, keeping the house straight, making meals, and keeping your sanity is more difficult than you could imagine, especially if you’ve never done it before. Or if you imagined it was a fairly easy job.

As soon as one kid is fed, the other needs help. Then the other is crying. Then you’re having someone over for dinner, so the house needs to be straightened up. And dinner needs to be started. And…oh wait, dirty diaper again.

If you’ve ever said thought that stay-at-home moms have it easier than working dads, I’m calling you out. Right here, right now.

Moms have the most difficult, rewarding, exhausting, frustrating, chaotic, never-finished, messy, no-book-can-tell-you-what-to-do, thankless, joy-inducing, tear-stained, God-ordained, grace-filled job in the world.

A mom’s thankless work is never done. [Tweet that]

To think otherwise is to think too little of the work that moms do. To think otherwise is to downplay a task you either

1. Have never done.

2. Are terrible at.

To be an excellent mom takes your heart, mind, and body. It takes Jesus working in you and through you to sustain you. And to keep you from losing it each and every moment of the day, which is a very real and present option. I felt myself teetering on the brink of going crazy many times.

Motherhood is a calling. In my opinion, it’s one of the most difficult.

Thank you, Laura Reed. I love you even more.

To my mom, for putting up with my brother and me…you’ve got crowns upon crowns in heaven coming your way.

To all moms: don’t give up on your children. They need your grace, love, correction, hope, hugs, and cookies, because sometimes only a freshly-baked batch of cookies will do the trick. [Tweet that] I know this first hand.

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life … Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. – Proverbs 31:10-12; 25-30


The 10 Commandments of Fatherhood

You want to be the dad that doesn’t ruin your kids’ lives. You do. I (probably) don’t know you personally, but I know this about you.

Because it’s the same desire I have.

I want my son (and future daughter) to look back on their childhood and say, “Daddy was a good dad. He didn’t mess me up or leave me damaged. And I love Jesus more because of my dad.”

If anyone has something to say about fatherhood, it should be the one who created fatherhood, right? God better have something to say about it if He’s going to be a good dad. Which we know He is. (1 John 3:1)

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 11.52.00 AM

image credits: mine

10 Commandments of Fatherhood

1. Do not provoke your children to anger. (Ephesians 6:4)

Don’t publicly humiliate your child. Don’t give them undue and unfair discipline. Don’t make fun of them, even privately, just you and them. Instead, actively play with them, love on them, be “present,” and look for ways to honor them.

2. Bring them up in the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Consistently have them worshipping in a healthy church. You, the adult, lead the way in church attendance and in living life openly and honestly with others (in a small group). Live out your faith at home.

3. Do not provoke your children…they’ll become discouraged (Colossians 3:21)

Encourage your children! Show them you’re proud of them…even when they color outside of the lines. Or, maybe especially when they color outside of the lines. Knowing they’ve made Dad proud is a huge accomplishment. Let them know this constantly, and help your children curb discouragement. You don’t want them seeking their sense of approval and worth from the world. Trust me, you don’t.

4. Discipline your children. (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:10)

Discipline in the moment feels negative. But it’s for our children’s good. It helps create structure, learning right from wrong, and shapes our children’s hearts. It also helps them understand the loving discipline of God that works for our good. The dad that doesn’t discipline his child is an unloving, unkind, and foolish dad.

5. Don’t abuse verbally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. (Colossians 3:8)

This is just outright sinful. Don’t ever resort to this. What they’ve done never necessitates this. Ever!

6. Have fun. (Proverbs 17:22)

Enjoy your kids! Don’t be boring. Go outside and play. Take ’em to the park. Go to a ball game. Head out to the zoo. Play hide-and-seek. Figure out what they love, and do that with them. They’ll love you for it.

7. Give ’em good gifts. (Luke 11:13)

Give them something that they’ll love. Study them, and know what they like. Maybe that’s a video game. Maybe that’s a new baseball glove. Maybe it’s a book or a CD or a special piece of candy. Go out of your way to know your kids and their interests. Then go get them something they’ll love.

8. Hug them. (Ecclesiastes 3:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Embrace your children. Give them comfort. Let them know they’re safe and secure with you. God loves and comforts us…let’s do the same with our kids.

9. Tell them you love them. (*Zephaniah 3:17)

Tell them every single day. Let them never doubt you love them because you fail to say it. God speaks over us…let’s speak over, and to, our children.

10. Be present. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

You can abandon your children without leaving the room. You know that, right? You can escape into something other than what you’re surrounded with and who you’re surrounded by. So put the phone down. Turn the TV off. No iPads. Or text messages. Just be with your kids. Time’s too short, and they’re too precious, to be consumed every moment with something else.

Time for dads to be dads. Ravenously loving our kids and constantly pointing them to Jesus. I’m ready to have a counter-cultural relationship with my son. Are you?

Anything you’d add to the 10 commandments?

*it’s a stretch in application, but hang with me. God’s “rejoicing over us,” to me, can apply to fathers rejoicing in love over their children. Which HAS to include telling your kids you love them. Right?


10 Things I Guarantee You’ll Never Say

I have said a lot of stupid things in my life. Many of which I’ve said right here on this blog. Things that have gotten me in hot water, cold water, and dry with no water.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the trajectory of my life, how I’m spending my time, and where I want to point. As I’ve thought back over the years, there are things I realize I’ve never said that have significantly shaped who I am. God’s changed me through generosity, community, laughter, my son, my church(es), and my own leadership journey.

Sometimes what’s not said is more important than what is said. And there are things you’ll never say, either.

I’m not a gambling man, but I’d put good money on the line that you’ll never say any of these things. And if you find yourself saying them, stop it.

10 things you’ll never say

I wish I hadn’t been so generous.

Nobody regrets being generous. Even when your generosity isn’t well received, isn’t thanked, or isn’t noticed, the act of generosity changes you as much as it changes others.

Truth: You’ll never regret generosity.

Life would’ve been better if I hadn’t joined that small group.

You will have less “free” time in your life, more heartache, more burdens to bear, more mess to wade through, and more people to pray for. Life will be tougher. But you won’t regret joining a small group, because you’ll have people to journey through life with.

Truth: You’ll never regret investing in people’s lives.

My best friends? They’re the ones I never laugh with.

Get off the boring train, and start recognizing that laughter is a gift from God. You’ll grow more spiritually with a group of people that you enjoy being around than ones you dread meeting with.

Truth: If you don’t enjoy being around you, neither will others.

I wish I had spent less time with my kids.

And your kids will never say they wish that you’d spent less time with them, either.

Truth: Time with your kids is not time wasted.

I love to drink mediocre coffee.

No you don’t. Nobody does. Which is why when I have people over to my house, I serve the best stuff that I’ve got. Or I go get my hands on the best stuff I can find. All coffee is not created equal.

Truth: 1 cup of my coffee just might change your life. 🙂

I wish I had been less regular at church.

Your church isn’t perfect. Neither is mine. But being where God’s people gather to worship and celebrate the work of God is healing and life-giving.

Truth: Getting plugged into a local church will change the trajectory of your life.

“Leadership” doesn’t really have any relevance in my life.

No matter where you find yourself, leadership is playing a significant role. Sometimes it’s affecting you positively. Other times, negatively. Sometimes by its presence. Other times by its absence.

Truth: Focusing on your own leadership development isn’t a waste of time.

My life is much more lovely because of my cat.

Nope. It’s not.

Truth: I hate cats. So do you.

I wish I had not gone on that mission trip.

I wrote about it here, but my life was shifted when I traveled to Costa Rica. Others’ lives were shifted because I was sick for part of the week, too. Whether you go on a trip out of your country or across state lines, you won’t regret the time away from work or the money it cost you to get there.

Truth: Going on a mission trip will mess you up in the best way possible.

Children’s ministry? That’s a waste of time.

If you say this, expect to not be a pastor very long. Or expect your church numbers to dwindle quickly.

Truth: When you invest in children, you are investing in the life of the Church. For today and tomorrow.

Anything you’d add? 


A Christ-centered Christmas children’s book

Our creative director, Jason Dyba, wrote this book. He read it during our Christmas services at Long Hollow. It’s phenomenal.

Read along with it. Then pick up a copy (see below the video for easy, free instructions) for your family to read this Christmas. I did.

Laura, Rex, and I will be reading it together this year.


Herbie and the Manger from Long Hollow Creative on Vimeo.

To download your copy

You can also to order a physical copy to be delivered to your home!


The anti-narcissistic medicine of community

We’re prone to thinking we have the toughest life, the most stressful schedule. That nobody understands how much we have to deal with. That nobody is as busy as we are.

photo credit: creation swap user Sharolyn Newington

Nobody gets us.

Nobody really understands.

And we can’t really imagine how life could get busier for you.

And if you think this is just as adults, you’re wrong.

Life in College

When I was in college, I remember feeling incredibly busy. I averaged 21 hours of classes each semester. I also played on the golf team. Most days, I’d go to class from 8-2, then play golf until it was dark. Then I’d either go to my room to study, go to the local collegiate ministry house, or both. I was busy. I felt like life couldn’t get any crazier. I needed others to speak into my life and say, My life is crazier, and God is still sustaining. I’ll walk with you. The reality was that life would get much busier and more difficult. 

Life in Grad School

The same pattern happened in graduate school. I took a full load of classes and I worked at least one job throughout my time there. I was also married. I’d go to class most days from 8-12, then work from 3-midnight. After that, my wife and I would often head out to the store. Sometimes it was for grocery shopping, other times it was just to get out of the house. Because she was also in grad school and working. Different from college, now I was carrying more weight personally, and felt the burden my wife was experiencing too…that’s just how married life works. We carry each other’s burdens. I needed others to speak into my life and say, My life is crazier, and God is still sustaining. I’ll walk with you. The reality was that life would get much busier and more difficult.

Life after Grad School

The same pattern happened post-graduate school. I’m now working full time, working on side projects, opening a small business, maintaing my house, leading a small group, and raising a son. And I thought that life was busy in college! Life has never been busier. Now, more than ever, I’ve needed others to speak into my life and say, “My life is crazier, and God is still sustaining. I’ll walk with you. The reality, based on the pattern I’ve seen, is that life will get much busier and more difficult. It’s not going to slow down.

Our need for community

We need other people in our lives. We need people who remind us that this stage in life will be over. People that remind us that the next stage is full of awesomeness. People that have been where we are, and can honestly tell us that they love us and that it’s going to be okay.

My life is crazier, and God is still sustaining. I’ll walk with you.

We desperately need community.


Do you feel like you’re busy right now? 

* photo credit: creation swap user Sharolyn Newington


Roughhousing with my son

I roughhouse with my son.  Often.

I tickle.  Toss in the air.  Wrestle.  “Fly.”  Give piggy-back rides.  Jump, roll, run, and flip.

My interaction with my son is more rough, tough, and “dangerous” than my wife’s interaction with our son.

That doesn’t make me a better dad than my wife is a mom.  It also doesn’t mean that, for my wife to be a good wife, she needs to try to do what I do and roughhouse with our son.  Moms and Dads have unique roles to play, each contributing to the maturing and preparation of children to become men (and women) who honor God.

I enjoy roughhousing with my son, and I know how important that will be to his development into manhood.  I know it was important for me, growing up with my dad.  We would wrestle, play, and do “dangerous” stuff with him.  And I know for certain that he played a pivotal, key role in helping me understand God-honoring masculinity.  I’m thankful for him every day.

It’s cool when you see something on TV that gives credence to what you already do.  On NBC’s Today Show, they interviewed Anthony DeBenedet about his book, The Art of Roughhousing.  Check out the clip below.

I like this quote:

They’re learning about the tricks and trades of the world, and how difficult the world can be, but they’re doing it in a protected and safe environment with someone they respect, that they love, and that love them.  And that’s important.

Did you roughhouse with your dad?

Do you roughhouse with your kids?  Does that look any different for boys than girls?


Purple Carrots

I’m reading the book Think Orange, by Reggie Joiner, and find much of it fresh and challenging.  I thought I’d share this with you.  I love what Reggie has to say in this quote (taken from page 136).  It’s kind of long, but worth the 3o seconds it will take you to read it.  Just trust me.

“Up until the sixteenth century, carrots were grown in a variety of hues: red, black, yellow, purple, and even white.  There were no orange carrots until the seventeenth century when some Dutch growers began feeling patriotic.  In honor of their king, William of Orange, they married some yellow and red carrots to produce our modern day orange carrots.

I imagine there must have been some orange-carrot skeptics in the beginning.  They were probably overheard saying things like, “These can’t be true carrots,” or “Carrots aren’t supposed to look like that,” or “Those are not the kind of carrots my parents ate.”  Nevertheless, the color of carrots changed forever.  But here’s an important point: Changing the color of carrots did not alter the fundamental nature of the carrot.  In other words, orange carrots were just as nutritious as black carrots.  The only real difference between the two was that more people were willing to eat orange carrots than black ones.

If you knew more kids and students would engage in what you teach if you packaged it differently, would you?  Would you color it orange if more kids would listen?  Before you start using phrases like “watering down the truth” or “not deep enough,” just remember you can change the color of something without compromising its nature.  It doesn’t mean you weaken your message just because you focus on what your audience needs.

The principle is clear; If you want more people to eat carrots, then change the color.  If you want more students to listen to what is true, change how you present it.”

What do you think?  Can we change the way we present the Truth (or the way that we “do church,”) without altering the Biblical message?


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