16 And What?

This one is for Dads…

This is a guest post from a friend of mine- David Dusek.  David leads a ministry called Rough Cut Men (www.roughcutmen.org) that focuses on getting men to begin engaging with one another in an authentic and transparent way.  Using major motion picture clips, men come away realizing that they are not the only ones going through lifes challenges. David using the illustrations to equip men to deal with these challenges and encourage them to “walk through life” with other men.  A native of Florida, David resides in Sarasota with his wife and their five children.  You can contact David through the link to his website above. 

Being the father of about 412 teenagers (okay, only 5, but it sometimes seems like 412), I occasionally get blindsided by stuff, often after-the-fact.  You dads know what I’m talking about:   “I can’t go check the mail, Dad.  I forgot to tell you that I backed over the mailbox this morning”, or “I spent the entire day with [insert the name of the person you can barely stand here] watching [insert the title of your choice of inappropriate movies here]. 

Princess

You would think that, after enough years and enough kids, I would have heard it all.  But today just really set me off.  As a disclaimer, I wasn’t upset at one of the kids.  I was inflamed by the entire circumstance and I guess you get to read my tirade.  And if you aren’t just as twisted over this as I am after you read it, then you may want to read it again!

Apparently it was a wedding day, and a friend-of-a-friend of one of our girls was taking her vows.  It did strike me as a little odd that the wedding was at 5 PM on a Wednesday, but maybe it was the only time that the church was free?  Our daughter got dressed up and headed out the door, not in what I would classify as typical wedding attire.  But times have changed, right?

I guess I had no idea how much times have changed until I found out more details about the wedding, after the fact.  First, the girl is pregnant, as in “shotgun wedding”.  And she is sixteen.  As in, “I can officially get my license now” sixteen.  Or even  “Four years ago, I was twelve” sixteen.

For a while now, I have been slowing coming to a rolling boil over the garbage that has become popular television for the aforementioned age demographic.  Shows like “Pretty Little Liars” and “Liars Club” program our youth to think that it’s okay to lie.  Period. There’s no overarching theme other than “Speaking mistruth is okay”.   My parents wouldn’t let me watch the “Brady Bunch” if Bobby stole a cookie from Jan, for crying out loud!

The shows that really illustrate how failed we are as a society are “Sixteen and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”.  These shows glamorize being pregnant, or being a mother, while in high school, and they are just the worst kind of crap.  Both pregnancy and motherhood are reserved for women at least five or ten years older, and only as an integrated part of marriage to a husband.  The shows depict young ladies, living at home, gleefully preparing baby bedrooms under the roof of their respective parents.  And it’s just wrong!

You know what else is missing, in large part, from the expecting teenagers homes?  One word:  DAD.

Here’s the deal, men.  We are morally, financially, spiritually and legally responsible for our girls.  When they turn 18, the government says that they can vote, die for our country and even pay their own consequences for bad decisions as an adult.  But guess what? Even when they turn 18, we are STILL morally, spiritually and usually financially responsible for them. 

I don’t know about you, but I am all for averting disaster.  We must do our job as dad to ensure the greatest odds of success for our girls.  By “do our job”, I am not talking about providing for them.  That’s just part of the deal when you have a kid.  Providing would be the ‘minimum acceptable standard’ of being their father.

Here are a few guidelines to follow if you are bringing up girls (and yeah, it’s a lot different from raising boys):

  1. Tell her how beautiful she is.  There is a strong probability that she feels ugly today…just sayin’
  2. Tell her that you love her.  A lot!
  3. Hug her.  A lot!
  4. Take her out on a date every few weeks, or every week if you can.  Show her what a “normal” evening should look like.
  5. Model love, respect and service towards your wife.  Remember, more is caught than taught.  She is going to look for someone just like you, like it or not.

Here’s a thought to remember, guys.  If we aren’t loving on our daughters, somebody else will be.  Some guys prey on girls, and EVERY girl needs to feel loved, appreciated and beautiful. That’s YOUR job!

Guard your princess!

Do you have some other good guidelines to share for raising daughters?  Click on comment below and share your ideas!

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Simply Beautiful

 I am an avid gardener.  I love to grow just about anything.  I tell folks that I am really a farmer trapped in a carpenter’s body!  I particularly love growing two flowers– roses and dahlias.  Now these flowers are a real challenge in North Florida.  Roses are susceptible to disease from the excessive moisture.  It’s a constant battle with black spot and fungal diseases.  Dahlias don’t grow well in Florida.  Sun is too strong; soil is not rich enough, spider mites, etc.  Both of my favorites are ridiculously difficult to grow.  A crazy passion that few understand.  My family often thinks I am crazy to put forth the lopsided effort necessary to grow a few good flowers.  But I love it.  I get so much satisfaction from an outstanding flower.  I’ll admit- it is a bit of an obsession!

My Second Dahlia- 2012

I have often wondered what makes a flower beautiful.  So what makes something beautiful?  A sunset, a mountain range, a song, a building, a boat (for you Ed), a dress, a meal, a face.  There are so many things that we measure with beauty.  Why is blue better than black?  Why is green better than brown?  Why are we drawn to beauty?  What is beauty?

I believe it must be written on our hearts by the Creator.  A picture of what is to become.  What is truly good.  Something that we cannot explain, but points us forward.  To something better. Something beautiful.

So what is a beautiful life?  Can we measure our lives the same way we judge a painting?  Do you know someone who lives a beautiful life?  I’m sure you know someone that lives an amazing life.  Maybe they are very successful, or influential, or wealthy, or charitable, or a spiritual powerhouse…  Yet- is their life really beautiful?

I believe that your life can be like a flower- truly beautiful.  So how can you live a beautiful life?  Here are some characteristics of the beautiful life:

  • Balance- This is really important.  If something is out of balance it just doesn’t look right.  For instance, you can have the most beautiful flower, but if it’s missing petals on one side it’s just no good.  Balance in life is super important.  A beautiful life must include all of the elements- family, faith, friends, love, work, learning, fun, giving, and health- in balance.  The most insidious components are the areas that are essentially good that can become damaging and all consuming.  Pastors can fall into this.  They will pour themselves into their flocks- essentially a good thing- and neglect their wives, families, health, etc.  I think even Mother Theresa could be another example.  Jesus promised life to the full.  That means all components of life!
  • Color- Beauty is often defined by color.  A brilliant sunset of orange, pink and purple would be much less impressive in a black and white photograph.  So it goes in life.  If you are truly alive, then your life should be vibrant and colorful.  Colorful people are attractive.  They may or may not have raw beauty, but they are different, not afraid to be noticed.  If you hide in the shadows and remain dull you are not living, you are just surviving.  What can you do to add color to your life?  Do something different.  Take up a new hobby.  Learn to play an instrument.  Go back to school.  Volunteer.  Be outgoing.  Be funny.  Be different –don’t follow the crowd.  It’s OK.  Different is good and you will enjoy it! 
  • Scale- The majesty of a mountain range is defined by the grand scale of the image.  Yet the beauty of the tiniest flower can also be truly amazing.  Scale needs to stay in proper proportion in order to be beautiful.  How are you doing on the large and the small?  You may be enjoying a season of great success as examined by others, yet there may be smaller items that can derail your journey.  One of these may be your health.  A serious health problem can destroy your future.  Do you have some bad habits or addictive behaviors that need to be addressed?  Don’t underestimate the power of the small things.  They can take you down in an instant!
  • Groups– A single flower in a field will not have the same impact as a field full of flowers.  You may be living a beautiful life, yet you will do so much better in community with others.  We are designed to be in community.  Isolation is lonely and it can be a very dangerous place.  Realize that our society celebrates individualism and this is not always healthy.  You must fight the urge to withdraw.  Join a group of folks that are like-minded to do something fun.  Get involved- do not stay on the sidelines or hide in the shadows.  Living in community will help to strengthen your relationship skills and enrich your life.  Do it today!
  • Soothing– Music has a way of bringing relaxation.  I love to put on music to unwind and relax.  Beautiful music has a way of soothing the soul.  Would you say that you are soothing to others?  If you tend to be loud, abrupt or have a need to be heard, maybe you should work on a quieter approach?  Along with music, I get great relaxation from conversations with particular friends.  Do you focus on kind words and words of encouragement coming from your mouth?  The soothing counsel of a great friend can be a huge comfort.  Turn down the volume a bit and relax!

Appreciating beauty is really the result of the connection.  When you see the majesty of a mountain range, you are connecting to it through the image.  You can see the snowy mountain caps, the colors of the rocks and the slopes to the valleys.  As you observe, you become wired into it.  The beautiful life is also about the connection.  By truly living a beautiful life and connecting with the amazing gifts that are part of the journey, you will be experience those moments of wonder and grandeur in everyday life.  No need to go to the mountaintop.  It’s right in front of you.  Are you ready to experience it?

What makes a beautiful life?  Am I missing something?  Please click on Comments and tell me what you think!