Thursday, September 20, 2007

From Diapers to the Potty

Recently, two of my blogging friends wrote about the journeys that their sons are on towards manhood. One has a 12 year old son who will be a teenager next year. He titled his blog ‘From Boys to Men.’ The other has a son who is 19 and has just left home for college. He titled his blog ‘Passage to Manhood.’

I respect both of these friends and am inspired by them as men and as fathers. Both of their blogs challenged me, inspired me and led me to evaluate where I am in the journey with my three boys towards manhood. After a few minutes of reflecting, I concluded that we are still in the very early stages – but we are on our way!

About a month ago, my cell phone rang as I sat in my office reading. As I pulled it out of my pocket and noticed that the caller ID said ‘home’ I answered eager to see what Kristy needed. No sooner than the word “hello” was out of my mouth, there was a high pitched voice on the other end yelling, “Daddy, I went poo poo on the potty!” For those of you who have received a similar phone call…you can certainly relate. But what are you supposed to do with that information? Obviously, when your child calls you with this fantastic news, you want to reply with great enthusiasm.

“You went poo poo on the potty!? That’s awesome!”

I’m just glad I wasn’t at a crowded Starbucks when I received that call. That would have been really awkward.

That phone call came from my oldest boy, Micah who will be 3 years old in a few days. Some might say that he is getting potty trained at a late age, but here’s the beauty of it – that day that Micah called me was the same day that he was completely potty trained without our assistance. He just decided he was done with diapers and wanted big boy underwear. We haven’t had even one accident in over a month.

He’s well on his way to manhood.

Two weeks ago, I was building blocks in the den with Micah and Jonah (my middle boy who will be 2 in late November) when Jonah picked up a block and threw it across the room. Without really thinking about which boy I was talking to I said, “Go to timeout.”

Now, for this story to work, I need to set this up for you.

About 3 months ago, Jonah learned how to get out of his crib. We have kept him in a crib as long as possible because it just makes life easier when you have a place that your kid cannot escape from. Well, those days are over – he can now escape (and usually does escape every morning around 5:30 am, but that’s a blog for another day.) We have also been using Jonah’s crib as his timeout place for the last 6 months. (I know, I know – we shouldn’t use his bed as a place of punishment, but you’d be amazed at how many things we do that you’re not ‘supposed’ to do as parents.)

Anyway, when I told Jonah to go to timeout, he stood up, turned around and walked away – without even a whimper. After about a minute I looked at Kristy and said “where do you think he went?” We both started to walk to the back of the house to find him when we looked in his room only to see that Jonah was sitting in his crib. Who would have known! Not only can the kid get out of his crib but he can actually climb in!

He’s well on his way to manhood.

The other day, Nate (my third boy who is 8 months old) started cutting a tooth. He also recently learned how to sit up without falling over.

He’s well on his way to manhood.

I look forward to those days in the future when we will play football, hike mountains, shoot guns, go camping, play with fire, learn how to treat girls, build tree houses, and do all kinds of others things that boys who are becoming men do…but until that time…I am just enjoying watching as these little guys learn how to use the potty, build with blocks, eat with utensils, sit up, say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no mam’, pray to Jesus at bedtime and love life.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Everybody Wants to be Somebody

Alright, I’ll admit it…I like country music. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because my high school girlfriend liked it and I’ve enjoyed listening ever since. Or maybe it’s because my buddy Crispin is a huge country music fan and makes me listen to it every time we’re in his truck, or maybe it’s just because country music has such an encouraging, positive message. Whatever it is…I enjoy listening. In 2006 country music star Toby Keith released a song entitled “Get Drunk and Be Somebody”. For those of you who have not yet learned to appreciate the true joy and richness of country music, here is the chorus to Keith’s song:

All week long (we’re a) bunch of real nobodies,
But we just punched out and it’s paycheck Friday,
Weekends here, good God almighty,
People lets get drunk and be somebody

As I was listening to this song the other day, I got to thinking…you know, everybody wants to be somebody. Nobody wants to be a nobody.

I’m not going to disclose too much in this blog; I’m not sure I really want the whole world having access to my dirty laundry, but I will go so far as to say this – sometimes, I just want to be somebody. I’m not proud of it and I really don’t like it, but sometimes it’s just true. (For those of you who have never experienced this, congratulations – you are convincing when it comes to lying to yourself!)

I guess one thing that I take comfort in is that I’m in good company. In the gospel of Luke there’s this one verse that says, “And there arose also a dispute among them (the disciples) as to which one of them was regarded to be the greatest” (22:24). I get this picture in my head of these 12 guys hanging around in this room (with Jesus present) arguing back and forth…

James: “Well…he did wash my feet first, so obviously, I’m the greatest…”

Andrew: “No way! He might have washed your feet first, but when He was picking disciples…he picked me first. I’m definitely the greatest.”

Peter: “Actually Andrew, if you recall, he really picked me first. And quite honestly, I really thought that I might be the greatest, you know… his favorite, but then he went and healed my mother in the law the other day…so now I’m not so sure…”

So, here you have these 12 guys and they all want to be somebody. They want it badly enough that they are actually willing to argue about it in front of Jesus. Personally, I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that it’s even in me, but they didn’t seem to mind.

As I have been reflecting on this lately though, I have come to the realization that I really don’t want to be somebody. At the deepest part of my being, I ultimately desire to live a life that is lived out as though I have nothing to gain, nothing to lose and nothing to prove. I desire to have a heart and a life that finds its ultimate security and value in simply being a child of God’s. The truth is though, there is no way to live a life with nothing to gain, nothing to lose or nothing to prove until I become honest with myself and admit that at times I try to gain, try not to lose and try to prove that I am somebody!

The world sings their anthem loud and clear…Be Somebody!

But as I look into the scripture it really seems that Jesus’ plan for us as his followers is quite different…lose your life, don’t worry about gaining, losing or proving…just follow me.

Eventually 11 of those 12 got it. They realized that everything that they were was because of God. And they lived their lives accordingly.

So, today I move closer to singing my anthem, the same anthem that those disciples sang on their journey through life and eventually to their deaths:

I am loved by God. Everything that I have, everything that I am is because of him. I find my security and my value in Christ alone. There is now no need to be somebody. Therefore, I may now live today with nothing to gain, nothing to lose and nothing to prove.