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Thursday, July 18th, 2013
2 years, 8 months.
Tonight as I sang “Amazing Grace” to you as a lullaby, you wanted to clear something up:
“What’s grace? Is that a man?”
You had caught me off guard, as I was trying to decide whether or not a second verse would be necessary before I could walk out and help Mommy finish folding laundry. That’s what I was really thinking about.
I replied, “Actually, grace is talking about God.” From there, I paused a moment, attempting to quickly analyze your understanding of God at this point in your life.
“God loves you,” I added.
Your instant response: “Me?”
It was one of the most sincere things I’ve ever heard you say. I was able to see firsthand what it’s like for a person to be told for the first time (and attempt to understand) that God loves them.
Whereas I’ve believed my whole life that God loves me and it’s far from a new concept now, tonight was the night that seed was officially planted in your mind.
The lights were off as I knelt next to your bed, but just the tone of your voice showed me it meant something to you to hear that God loves you.
I continued, “God made you. He wants you here.”
Without any hesitation, you laughed as you declared, “Bow-wow!”
Then you preceded to make truck noises.
It’s a start, anyway.
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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
2 years, 4 months.
You started noticing that Mommy and I hold hands and pray before we eat dinner every night.
It’s not some beautiful, poetic thing. We let our words be few: “Dear God, we thank you for this food today and all you have blessed us with. Amen.”
Last week you started wanting in on the action. You smiled at us and lifted your hands out for us to hold them.
So now before dinner, and at night as we’re putting you to bed, and before our family leaves the house for our separate ways in the morning, we pray together.
And you now not only expect it, but I can clearly see you like being a part of it.
I actually think you’re pretty aware of what’s going on. You know who God is from your Beginner’s Bible, as well as from church.
Tonight as I sang “Away In A Manger” as part of your bedtime routine, you stopped me in the middle of the 1st verse and said, “Jesus makes!”
I asked you what Jesus makes and you responded:
“Jesus makes oatmeal… and beans and rice!”
My immediate uproar of laughter pretty much killed the mood for helping you get to sleep. Mommy later explained to me you were referring to the 2nd verse, which she sings to you: “No crying he makes.”
I think it’s really cool that you want to be a part of our family’s prayer times throughout the day. I figure at best, what you gather from us praying is that we not only believe in God, but we trust him.
We have no idea what’s in our future, five minutes from now or five years from now. But we want to be in God’s favor and we know that means loving others as ourselves.
I know that’s a very simple way of explaining our faith to you, but I think if I as your dad can remember that much of it, I could have the faith of a child.
From what I understand, that’s actually a good thing.
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Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
2 years, 1 month.
A week ago when I published “5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013,” I intentionally left off one crucial way that I believe our family saves money. Maybe it’s not so much about it saving us money, as much as it helps us manage our budget with even more discipline and focus.
In fact, out of the 5 impractical ways I listed, I see this “6th way” as not only undeniably impractical, but the most important, for our family, at least:
For us, that means we give 10% of our paychecks to our church. From there, a lot of that money goes to helping people not only in our area, but all over the world.
Of course, that 10% of our income isn’t the only money we give to help others, because we help financially support other non-profit organizations that help people too.
But right off the top of every paycheck, we know that 10% of it goes to our church, which in turn helps other people.
I should be clear about something: It’s not that we have a 10% excess in our income. Not at all. Instead, we build our budget around the 10% we tithe.
(That might help explain why we can’t afford cable or satellite TV, or Internet on our phones, or eating out, or updating our electronics… which I pointed out in 5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013.)
Financial guru Dave Ramsey, who includes tithing as part of his teaching, puts it this way:
“If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.”
If this can make any sense, we can’t afford not to tithe.
We believe that God will bless our family’s efforts as we acknowledge that what we have is not ours to begin with; instead, everything we have is what God has given to us.
So to “give back” 10%, technically isn’t giving back.
But I believe a lot of the importance of tithing has to do with the mindset it puts a family in. In the likeness of feng shui, tithing constantly keeps us mindful of where each dollar we earn goes.
Just like the importance of having a solid weekly budget on Excel, tithing helps us tell our money where to go, before it can tell us where to go.
Therefore, I think tithing is even a good idea for families who don’t go to church, as well as, those who aren’t particularly religious at all.
I would venture to say that a family who always gives at least 10% of their income to, at least, a charity that helps the needy, even if it’s not through a religious organization, is still going to find that they manage their money better than before they started promising to give away 10% of their income.
Sure, giving away 10% of every paycheck is pretty extreme and not necessarily normal.
But I suppose for a family who doesn’t pay for cable or satellite TV, or Internet on our phones, or for the fact we don’t really dine out, or update our electronics, I guess it’s not really that much of a shock that we automatically give away 10% of our income.
Photo: Giving Offering Sharing Blessing Background, Shutterstock.
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Friday, December 21st, 2012
2 years, 1 month.
Last Friday, I wrote to you about how I was Processing The Newtown, Connecticut School Shooting As A Parent. A week later, the unthinkable event that happened at Sandy Hook is still on everyone’s minds.
There’s a lot of talk going on right now about how we as a nation can prevent another tragedy like this from happening again. I’m not ready to join that public conversation… yet.
Instead, today in my letter to you, I want to share a different letter to a different Jack. It has been circulating the Internet since USA Today reporter Yamiche Alcindor tweeted this photo of a letter to 6 year-old Jack Pinto, from his best friend John:
You are my best friend. We had fun together. I will miss you. I will talk to you in my prayers. I love you Jack.
I’m predicting it’s pretty difficult for anyone to read the letter to Jack Pinto without being deeply emotionally reached; especially after seeing the pictures of Jack and John together.
For me personally, it’s tough not only because this story reflects how what happened last week affected innocent lives, but also because it’s pretty easy for me to imagine you in this picture.
It’s not something I want to say out loud, but the truth is that what happened in Sandy Hook could have instead happened in any other small town in America. Instead, I want to believe that you’re the exception to the rule and that I will always be there to protect you.
I wish somehow you were immune to chaos like this from ever getting anywhere near you. I wish I could promise you that our family would always be safe. Since I can’t promise it, I pray for it instead.
Like Jack Pinto’s best friend, John, I turn to God even in, and especially in, times like these. And from the sound of it, so is a lot of America.
I can’t remember the last time it was so popular to publicly talk about praying and trusting in God, like the way I’ve seen in the past week. It’s encouraging to see news anchors on major networks, without fear of being perceived as politically incorrect or unprofessional, so willingly interviewing priests, pastors, and churchgoers whose faith is helping them through this.
As I mentioned in my letter about this last week…
It’s times like these that cause some people to ask, “If there is a God, why would He allow such an unthinkable event to happen?”
Others ask, “How could an event like this not cause people to turn to God, in the hope that there is a saving grace stronger than the depravity of man?”
Son, we are of the latter mindset: We are not without hope in this life.
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Saturday, December 15th, 2012
I recently realized something: I haven’t really been praying specifically for you. Instead, I’ve been mainly just lumping you in with our family.
Subconsciously, I keep asking myself, “What else should I pray about aside, from his safety and that he will have a bright future? He’s only 2 years old.”
That’s pretty much all my prayers for you have been about: Your safety and your future.
But beyond that, on a daily basis, what else do I want for you? What should I ask God for on your behalf?
I’ve been thinking about this all week and I guess the thing is, until I take the time to write it down, I won’t know the answer.
It’s like I get so used to the habit of praying ad-lib style, that I hardly take the time to map out my thoughts and translate them into prayers.
So while this prayer will surely evolve as you grow older, here’s my prayer for you for right now:
“Heavenly Father, thank you for my son Jack. Please protect him from harm and give him a bright future.
As for his interactions with others today, I pray that in his young age as he is developing his skills to communicate and share, help him to love others as himself.
Let him be a friend today to those who need a friend. Let him be encouraging, strong, and yet still humbled.
Bless him as he learns today about colors and shapes, words and numbers, and all Your creation in between. I pray He will see Your truth in this life and that he will see Your love through me.
Lead me today, as I lead him. I pray in Your name, amen.”
The obvious thing I can’t help but think about as I see this prayer, is the last line. Jack, it’s true you are both a gift and a responsibility.
Sure, the older you get, the more responsible for yourself you will become. But as for now, I am overly mindful of the role I play in your life.
I don’t take my role as your dad lightly. Therefore, I’m very deliberate in how I raise you. That includes how I discipline you, communicate with you, entertain you, engage you, and teach you both small and important lessons in life.
The light doesn’t just one day switch on, and suddenly, what I do as your dad suddenly starts really mattering.
I’ll do my best for you, Son. So help me God.
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