Welcome to my blog!

I started this blog to share the ups and downs of real life. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the mundane, the insane...you get the picture. Why??? For no other purpose than to encourage others who are raising a family, going through the ups and downs of life, letting you know you are not alone, and that we are not all epic failures for having a life that is not perfect!!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mind Control

This entry is definitely one of the more deep entries I have worked on. For a couple reasons. One, because it hits very close to home for me, and two, because it is something that I am trying so hard to impart to my children, especially my oldest son. What I'm writing about is controlling your mind. Actually, what is it that is controlling your mind???

When I became a christian, I quickly found out that there were things in my life I had to deal with. Behaviors I had to curb, a certain way to act. While I think all of it ultimately helped me, the motivation and means in the beginning were harmful. See, many times, with many christians, they never truly change things, yet preach and tell others what they need to change. This is why many people who are not christians question, mock, and view christianity negatively. People tend to think that christianity is a crutch, a weakness. I would offer the opinion that to me, it has been harder to live out my faith, keep my mind pure, and truly live for God, than it is to not live that way. It takes a certain kind of strong to not give into temptations, conform with the way society acts, and love those who either don't love you, or who are different than you. The thing is, society doesn't just react to christian living that way, society reacts to anything outside of the norm that way. My brother is a very committed straight edge. This means he abstains from alcohol, tobacco and drugs. After speaking with him about it, he communicated the same thing. More people question his decision, than support it. Why? Is it because he chooses to not be controlled by a substance? Is it because his convictions highlight others' weaknesses??? I think it is an issue of mind control.

Our society is big on conformity. Act this way, speak like this, look like this, believe like this. Anything outside of society's norm causes fear. What is, now think about this, what if our media, our advertisers, our government, our public schools are setting and influencing this "norm" as a way to control it's people??? I'm not talking about some great conspiracy. Why do movies and tv shows, especially on networks like MTV, have such an appeal to young people? Why not middle aged people??? Why is tobacco, and alcohol advertised in such a way that it is appealing to younger people? Why is music marketed the way it is, with concerts, flashy videos, bad language? It attracts young people. To me, like I said, it is all an issue of mind control. Young people are still formulating their beliefs, morals, and values. IKt makes them easy targets to corrupt.

I commend my brother for his decision, especially since addiction is very prevalent in our family. I'm glad he has decided to not be controlled by a substance. For me, and for my children, I am taking it a step further. We are working together to learn how to control our mind, control what influences us. If we fill our minds with junk, we will put out junk. If we conform to how society tells us how to think, we will miss out on bigger things at work. Many people think that religion in a form of mind control, and surprisingly, I would agree. Religion, church (in the negative sense of the word), are all forms of mind control. What I would argue is that living as Jesus did, following the guidelines the bible lays out, isn't about mind control. Its about living a life that is based on acting out your faith and beliefs, not just preaching it. It is about following a set of standards for your life that will bring you protection, blessings, and fulfillment.

When I choose to not watch a certain movie because of it's content, its because I don't want to fill my mind with things that will tempt me, make me feel certain things, or desensitize me to some of the horrible things that should shock all of us. When I screen the music my kids listen too, or the content they are finding on the internet, it's because I want their minds to be clean, pure, not tainted by what society dictates is normal, or right. The last thing I'll say is this: The bible says in Romans 12:2 do not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind. Renewing of your mind-think about that. What does renewing your mind mean to you? It goes on to say that this is how we prove that the will of God is good. God is encouraging you to think! Renew your mind from outside influences, and what others think. Think for yourself! Discover for yourself, not through others, what and who God is. How do I keep my mind form going places it shouldn't?? ( I try to do this, not always successfully.) Philippians 4:8 tells us what to focus on. Whatever is true, right, noble, pure and lovely. Things that are excellent and praiseworthy, think of these things. I think society might be a bit better if we all follow these guidelines. I know for me, and for my family, we are really going to work at controlling out minds.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who's teaching who????

I haven't written about my children for a while, so I figured I'd mention some things I learned from them lately. It's funny, we are so busy trying to teach them, and impart life lessons to them, that I think we forget that they teach us alot too.
Some changes that have happened at our house have brought about alot of change, and that is where I've seen some cool things happen. My wife went to work part time nights, and that means daddy has to be mr. mom for a while. (this has resulted in the frequent use of paper plates- I hate doing dishes!) Perhaps the first thing I have learned is that my wife definatly has the hardest, most tiring, most underappreciated job ever- being a stay at home mom!!! Anyway, this really kind of forced me to step it up, and help out at home more. It was actually very needed, because we were having some behavior problems with the boys. Nothing major, just stuff like not helping out, or taking responsibility for their things, alot of attitude with each other and with my wife, and typical boy stuff like that. This brings me to lesson number one. I think as fathers, we get so focused on rules, working, correcting, etc... that we forget to just be with our kids. Just spend time with them. After about two weeks, the boys had become so helpful. It got to the point where I didn't even have to ask them to help, they just did. Their attitude and respect towards each other had changed tremendously, and all of this started to carry over to when I wasn't home. They were being better for their mother too. It was an eye opening look into how much my presence, interest, and involvment in their lives, affected every aspect of our home lives. They needed to see me being more helpful around the house. Things have been fantastic!
I think another lesson I learned through all of this is that I don't give my oldest son enough credit. The kid is so talented and smart, it amazes me. I have made it a priority to talk with him, get to know him better, and reconnect with him. You know what I realized? He's got a good head on his shoulders. He's already thinking about college. He is starting to take school and music very seriously now. He has skills that will make him a great father, and alot of that came from the special bond he has with Emma. I was being so hard on him, that it was projecting behaviors and issues onto him that really weren't there. In lightening up, slowing down, and lisening to him, he's felt safe to come to me with some things he is struggling with. I never even realized he is still hurting from the babies we lost, or that he doesn't know how to connect with God, even though he desires too. He's also taught me that the examples I have set on dealing with grief, and loss, have set the tone for how they deal with it. We've had to work through some feelings of loss, sadness, and regret with the loss of my father. I showed them that I had to be strong, move forward, keep the family ok, but I never showed them that its ok to grieve too.
Another thing I learned from my kids is that we can't get stuck in places, feelings, or roles. My son Aiden was getting frustrated and lazy with some of his chores. It became so frustrating that he was getting punished for it. I finally asked him what is going on. He explained to me that just because he was the youngest doesn't mean I can't give him more important things to do. I was holding him back in essance, not letting him do certain things, or enjoy certain rewards for them, because I thought he was too young, or too lazy. I was expecting him to fail at things before I gave him a chance too!!!
And then comes Nathan. His heart is so beautiful. He hugs me everyday still, and even though he can talk your ear off, he needs that time, that attention. He's the one that has kind of forced me to slow down a bit. Funny story, after my father's death, my aunt gave me his chess set. It's a really nice one, and when I got it, I cleaned it, polished it, and then put it away, out of sight. One night Nathan asked me to play chess, and I said we can't, some of the pieces are missing from the boy's set. He said what about the one that was your dad's? I looked at him like he had suggested something outlandish, and said we can't play on that one, it was my fathers!!! He looked at me kind of confused, and said dad, why did you take it if you weren't gonna use it? He was so right! I was stuck in the emotions and grief that came with my father's death. It seems silly, but that chess set became a symbol. Something out of reach, inaccessable, kind of like my father. It was a very profound moment for me, and it really helped me put the grieving process in perspective.
And then there is my Emma. She makes me so happy. I have come to realize that despite my protest, she is growing up. She is speaking so much now, making decisions on her own, expressing herself more, and is even potty trained!!! It kind of grieves my heart because I so love our times together, and our dances, and our songs-and someday, those will all be memories. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned lately is that time is moving forward, whether I like it or not. These last few months reconnecting on a deeper level with my kids has been great, and when they are grown, with families of their own, I'll be glad I cherished every minute!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Family First

So in my last post, (i know, it's been a while), I said I'd talk about some of the things my father communicated to all of us on his deathbed. We were very blessed to have the time to say goodbye to my father the way we did, and he communicated some very clear things.

One thing my father said over and over again was family first. That's become our family's kind of motto since he passed. He reminded all of us how important that was, and that no matter what, it was always us-my family. He told me to be strong, and be there for everyone. (Tall order dad, but thanks for challenging me!!!) He begged me to fix my marriage, fix my relationship with my oldest boy. He said over and over again, he loved us, and we meant the world to him. And as if to pass the family first idea to the next generation, he begged us to never forget him, never let the kids forget him, and tell them everyday papa loves them.

His passing and the way it happened was amazing. Just proved that when it comes to my big, crazy family, we get it. Family first. My dad's sister Lisa had been living here for a few months now, helping us care for my dad. She made it her mission to be there for us. Whether it was to watch he kids for my sister and I, or take care of things at my parent's house, she was there. There were times she put aside opportunities to be with my dad, for us. She even stayed overnights with my dad in the hospital so we could rest. I mentioned in my dad's eulogy that she was sent here for such a time as this, and I meant it. She was such an important part of the whole ordeal. She had our back. Then there was my aunt Missy. She was there by my dad's side when we needed a break, or to eat, even grab a cup of coffee. She cried with us, hugged us, talked to us, and was there. Even after he died, she was there with us just for encouragement, memories, and support. My aunt Cathy was amazing too, truly a rock for all of us. She put aside her grief, her hurt, and held us up. She had a special relationship with my dad, so this was difficult for her. She stayed for a week after he died just to make sure my mom and us kids were ok. She helped us pick out flowers. We even had a very silly afternoon with her, my aunt Lisa, and my brother and I, picking out dress clothes, pictures for the funeral, and just laughing and being there with us. Even now, though hundreds of miles separate us, she still has our hearts. Through the miracle of the Internet and facebook, she keeps in regular contact with us, sending us love, thoughts, and bits of encouragement, all at the right time. I wonder of she'll ever know how much all of that meant. My in-laws handled so much planning for us for the reception after. We didn't have to worry for nothing- they took care of it. My mother in law, father in law, and sister in law and I spent a couple hours the morning of his funeral just talking. I so needed that. Even my grandma Barb gave me the chance to cry and grieve, making sure I felt her love and support through the whole thing, right down to helping us with the reception hall. Right down to family that has been separated by life, distance, and years. My dad's cousins all brought food too!!! It was amazing.

It's almost like my dad planned it, all of it, just to make us further understand his point about family. Not only did everyone come together to honor my father, but so many people held us up, supported us, and put us first. My family first. OUR family first. My mother, sister, brother and I were able to grieve, plan, cry, laugh, feel love, and at times do nothing, because everyone in my father's life understood family first. I am truly blessed to have the family, extended family, and friends I have. And to my aunts, thank you all so very much for the part you play in our family.