Eating Frogs and Turds

This morning I walked with a couple of my girls (we were too tired to run). While we were walking we had a great conversation about doing difficult things.

I was able to string together some great, and funny, pieces of advice I’ve heard from others. It went like this…

If you eat a frog, first thing in the morning, everything else will be easy by comparison.

This is Brian Tracy’s way of encouraging people to stop procrastinating on the hard things! Do them first… and everything else will be easy in comparison! He wrote a book by that title.

The second piece of advice made us all laugh. Well… at least me. It made me laugh (the girls just rolled their eyes).

I can’t recall exactly who said it, but, unfortunately, it’s not original. Here goes…

If you have to eat a turd, don’t nibble!

In other words, if you have to do something that’s difficult… don’t take forever! Get it done quickly!

That’s such good advice!

Do the hard things first… and do them quick. That’s a formula for a good day (assuming you brush your teeth afterwards)!

Stop worrying about your clothes

nothing-to-wearRight now I’m really busy.

This weekend I will officiate at a wedding, preach a sermon, and then carry out my pastoral duties at a funeral… the funeral of a friend.

This busy weekend comes right in the middle of a teaching series I am doing at church called, “Making Space.”

As I am preparing to teach this weekend, I am reflecting on some words spoken by Jesus. These words are incredibly appropriate for every busy person… especially people who are driven and slightly distracted!

I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:25-34 NLT)

This is certainly not a call to forgo planning, hard work, or physical well-being. What it is is a call to STOP making secondary things the primary pursuit of your life.

I’ve realized this: when you pursue the primary things, you get the secondary things thrown in. BUT when you pursue the secondary things first you may never get the primary things.

Looking back over my life, I see that I have often allowed busyness to distract me from the primary things (God, relationships, physical well-being, emotional vitality, etc.)… and the result is rarely good.

The times in my life of which I am most proud are the times when I have kept the primary things in focus and enjoyed, subsequently, the secondary things.

So as I work through this busy season in my life, I encourage you to join me in processing what takes up space in your mind:

  • Is it clothes or close friends?
  • Is it paper or people?
  • Is it your job or your God?
  • Is it primary or secondary?

Give it some thought… and then take some time to make necessary adjustments. You’ll not regret it!

How to spend time with your kids

double-date-copy-2I am a busy guy. I’d bet a dollar you’re busy too.

I’m a husband to one lady and a dad to six ladies!

I am a full time pastor and a part-time personal trainer.

There are always things to do, and I make a valiant effort to get them done.

What I have learned though is that things will wait, but people won’t.

The project I’m working on will be there tomorrow… my ladies may not. If I am not available to them, they will go to places and people that are. I have a responsibility to invest into their lives… and they’re not going to wait, so I need to invest time into them now! And the same is true for you and your kids.

Because we’re so busy, how do we systematically make time to invest into our kids?

I have written about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again…

I date my daughters. Every one. Every week. (the picture I shared is of a rare double date… it was just too cute not to share!)

Right now I am not able to spend as much time on dates as I used to, but every week each girl gets a 30 minute date. Here’s how that looks:

  • Monday: 3-3:30 Ashton; 4-4:30 Lexington.
  • Tuesday: no dates
  • Wednesday: 3-3:30 Karis; 4-4:30 Reagan
  • Thursday: 3-3:30 – Riley; 4-4:30 Dallas
  • Friday night – Family night
  • Saturday – 6:30 – 9ish a.m. – The First Lady (The lovely and talented Mrs. Peterson)

These dates are not expensive; for the girls we budget $1 per date (Sherri and I spend $12 on our date). In fact, the last year or so the girls and I rarely even spend our $1! We purchased a key chain from Wendy’s that is worth one Junior Frosty every time you present it! So, for a one time purchase of $1, I get six Frosty’s a week.

What can you do with $1 and 30 minutes? Check this out:

  • Eat a Frosty and play Memory
  • Eat a Frosty and play Truth or Dare
  • Eat a Frosty and ride through the country singing songs as loud as you can
  • Eat a Frosty and tell stories
  • Skip the Frosty and go to Family Dollar to spend the $1 that is budgeted
  • Eat a Frosty and play basketball in the driveway (no one else is allowed to play with us when we are on a date)
  • Eat a Frosty and read a book together
  • Completely blow the budget and go to Wal-Mart to buy Shopkins. (Frosty is optional on this one)

I really don’t buy the excuse that says “I don’t have time/money to date my kids”. I call “baloney” on that. You can do it. Will you?

There’s another way too…

I call it “Filling in the cracks.”

My mornings start early (4 a.m.), and I usually train clients at the gym from 5-7 p.m. So both morning and evenings are full. Because I start so early, I try to be in bed by 9 p.m. There is not a lot of time for extras right now so I’ve been taking advantage of two “cracks” of time I have with “the ladies”

  • 7:30- 8 a.m. I play basketball with the middle school girls (or get a makeup tutorial from one of them) while Sherri takes the elementary school girls to school. When they leave for school I head up to my office and get to work.
  • 3:30-4 p.m. I play with the elementary school girls while Sherri is picking up the middle school girls from school. When they get home I go on my second date of the day and then head out to the gym for my evening clients.

The point is that there are “cracks” in your day when you have access to your kids! Fill those cracks! Play a game. Listen to their stories. Enter their world for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised at the treasure you will find in those cracks!

So there’s two ways to find more time with your kids:

  • Schedule a weekly date
  • Fill in the cracks

I know we’re all busy… but someday we won’t be, and when that day comes I do not want to look back with regret because I didn’t spend time with my kids.

How about you? What are some ways that you make time to spend with your kiddos?

#worstparentever – take care of you

Yesterday at Church180 we started a new teaching series called, #worstparentever.

Worst Parent Ever

If you missed it, you can watch/listen here.

The whole point of this teaching series is to encourage parents and to share information that we are finding to be helpful!

The first lesson in this series was this…

The better you are the better they are.

My heart hurts for so many parents! It seems like once they become parents they forget themselves.

Now before you write me off, let me remind you that I understand as well as anyone that parenting requires a shift in attention! Sherri and I have six daughters so I know what it requires.

HOWEVER, I regularly see parents completely neglect themselves once baby arrives… and that’s a mistake!

Here’s why…

YOU (parent) are the best gift you can give to your child! If you neglect yourself you won’t be a good gift!

Think about this, if you don’t care for yourself one else will. And if no one is caring for you it won’t be long until you run out of energy and passion… you will simply be a shell of the person you used to be… and that is not a good gift to your children!

No one else will care for you… least of all your kids! Their mission in life (at least the first few years) is to spill food, poop, scream, break things, and generally make things inconvenient as possible for you. Of course, none of this is on purpose… it’s just their default… until you teach them differently!

They (your kids) are not likely to offer to give you time to pray, exercise, or read. They are not likely to strike a deal with you that gives you time to nurture healthy relationships in exchange for an extra cup of juice.

Nope.

If you are going to do those things it’s all up to you to find/make the time.

And here’s the scoop… when you do… it will make you a better person and parent!

If you say, “I don’t have time.” I call “Bull Crap” on you. Sherri and I find the time… and we have six kids. You can do this! You MUST do this!

Remember…

The better you are the better they are!

So, take some time to watch this lesson and then go make a plan to care for yourself!

How to clean a guinea pig

guinea pigIn our home we have three guinea pigs (in addition to an English Mastiff, a bearded dragon, a bunch of fish, and almost as many kids).

Guinea pigs make great pets… especially if you have a lot of kids who all want a pet! They are small, fairly clean, and relatively low maintenance. They are also safe for children.

Our kids can only have a pet once they establish that they are responsible enough to care for it. Sherri and I have our hands full with the care and feeding of people… we don’t need the responsibility of another mouth… even if it is an animal. 😉

Having said that, we do check in occasionally to see that the animals are neither dead nor living in squalor.

This morning I had a conversation with one of our daughters (she shall rename anonymous) that went like this:

Her: do you know how I clean my guinea pig when I run out of shampoo?

Me: No bud. How?

Her: I lick her.

Me: You what?!

Her: I lick her. That’s how she cleans herself so I thought I could do it too.

Me: You lick her?

Her: Yes!

Me: Go tell your mom!

And there you have it. One more way to clean your guinea pig… and save money in your budget ’cause you don’t need to buy shampoo!

 

Who’s in your circle of five?

Today, I learned a new phrase.

It’s a concept that I’m familiar with… you probably are too, but it’s new phrase, and I like it.

The Circle of Five.

I’m currently reading Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect. In it he talks about the people you spend the most time with and the tremendously formative influence they will have on your life!

I posted a picture of a page on my Instagram page in which he talks about this:CAM01678I spent a bit of time answering this question for myself and then wondered…

“As a follower of Jesus I am called to show love to everyone. How do I live in such a way that the negative personalities don’t drain me, while at the same time submitting to the teachings of my Leader, Jesus, who teaches me to live with love towards all people?

Hardy helped me by referencing something he had been taught by Jim Rohn, “It’s powerful to evaluate and shift your associations into three categories: dissociations, limited association, and expanded association.” (You can read Jim Rohn’s thoughts on this idea in this two-part article: part 1, part 2).

Hardy then went on to spend some time explaining how to deal with the relationships in each of these categories.

Dissociations

These are the people that are constantly pouring mud into your pool. They darken the room the moment they walk in… and refuse to change.

Hardy writes, “I’m constantly weeding out of my life people who refuse to grow and live positively.”

Then he says this:

“When you make the tough decision to put up boundaries between you and the people who drag you down, realize that they’ll fight you – especially those closest to you. Your decision to live a more positive, goal-oriented life will be a mirror to their own poor choices. You will make them more uncomfortable and they will attempt to pull you back down to their own level. Their resistance doesn’t mean they don’t love you or want the best for you – it’s actually not about you at all. It’s about their fear and their guilt about their own poor choices and lack of discipline. Just know that breaking away won’t be easy.”

Essentially there are some people that I will not spend time with… because they refuse to change and anything I can offer them will be of no value since they won’t receive it anyway.

How does this align with my Christian values? Here are some verses that are helpful:

  • “Don’t give what is holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. (Matthew 7:6 NLT)
  • It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool who has no heart for wisdom. (Proverbs 17:16 NLT)
  • Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice. (Proverbs 23:9 NIV)

And then there’s the group of people who aren’t completely determined to be negative and mud throwers… but aren’t quite fully committed to being the best they can be. These people are the…

Limited Associations

Hardy says, “There are some people you can spend three hours with, but not three days. Others you can spend three minutes with, but not three hours.”

You must decide how much time can be spend in the presence of these people, but keep in mind as you are deciding that every minute spent with them will influence you.

Hardy’s advice is, “Take a look at your relationships and make sure you’re not spending three hours with a three minute person.”

And finally there’s the group that Jim Rohn advices we spend the most time focusing on developing…

Expanded Associations

These are the people who are doing what we want to be doing (physically, financially, relationally, spiritually, etc.).

I have found that these people are hard to get time with!

Crazy thing here… negative people always have time about what they don’t have and how bad life is. Positive people are always busy getting what they want and making life good! Therefore they are harder to spend time with!

Here’s a breakthrough thought…

You don’t necessarily need to sit across the table from a person to be influenced by them!

Some of the people that have influenced me the most are people I have never had coffee with: John Maxwell, John Wooden, Mark Bell, Jesus, etc.

Books and articles that these people have written, videos that they have made, speeches that they have given… all of these are opportunities for you to spend time with them!

Of course there are plenty of influencers with whom I have had the opportunity to spend time… and I have filled many notebooks up with their wisdom.

The point is this… the voices that speak most frequently into your life will ultimately determine the kind of person you become!

So, if you were to ask yourself, “Who are the five people I spend most of my time with?” What would the answer be?

And then ask yourself this, “How similar am I to my circle of five?”

And then this question: “Am I okay with my last answer?”

And if you’re not, ask yourself this: “What am I going to do about this?”

Remember, the circle of five will determine the kind of person you become!

 

Weekend Review (6/21/15) – Little things that make great dads!

Happy_Fathers_Day_wide_t_nvYesterday was Father’s Day! That’s a special day at Church180! At our church we focus on creating an environment where men would be comfortable coming… even if their lady didn’t come!

We believe that the best gift we can give to a lady is a man who honors and loves God and knows how to treat a lady!

Anyhow, yesterday we did a few things that were special for our dads…

  • We pulled out the chairs and set up the auditorium with tables and chairs… on the tables were cookies and coffee was served at the cafe!  The tables were dressed up to look manly… courtesy of the world’s premier designer, Kim Buchanan.
  • The auditorium was filled with the smell of BBQ pork which our worship pastor, Mike Delacruz, had spent hours cooking and prepping! We all hung out after church and ate that goodness!
  • Everyone sat at the tables and ate cookies and had coffee while we sang songs that honored our Leader, Jesus, and while I taught.
  • Before I taught, Mike Delacruz sang a cover of John Mayer’s song “Daughters”. He nailed it! I really love working with Mike!

mike d

And then I talked with our dads about the most important lesson I’m learning as a dad right now… (You can watch/listen to the entire talk here)

“The important stuff requires daily attention.”

We agreed that most every dad wants to be a better dad. In fact we agreed that probably every dad at some point has made a decision or a series of decisions in an effort to be a better dad.

The problem with decisions is this…

Decisions are nothing until you do something!

At some point you MUST put action to the decisions that you make!

You want to do big things in your home… for your kids? Here’s the thing… the big things are made up of a bunch of small things!

In other words… you make a decision to make big change… do big things… raise great kids… be a great dad…

That decision MUST be followed up with a bunch of little actions. We said it like this…

“…the little things, done consistently over an extended period of time produce the biggest results.”

I shared with our church a verse that has been tattooed on my heart for the last year or so that is driving me to this conclusion:

“Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details.” (2 Corinthians 6:4 MSG)

We talked a bit about the fact that paying attention to “the daily details” of being an effective dad can be a bit mundane… even boring at times! But I shared this page from Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God, that gets right up in our grill:

tim kellerAt the end of the day, if I want to be a great dad, I’m going to have to set aside my convenience for a season and pay attention, every day, to the details!

What are the details?

I shared some details that I’ve been paying attention to in my home. The results are amazing! From the way my kiddos go to bed to the way they interact with each other, these details are important and make a huge difference when I pay attention to them every day…

Learn and speak your child’s love language.

I encourage every dad to read “The Five Love Languages of Children.” Learning how your child expresses and receives love is a HUGE step towards becoming a great dad!

Take weekly dates

This is a HUGE deal for your kids! At our house our dates are one hour per week and $1 per date. Not much… but it really is!

When I miss those dates my girls are quick to let me know.

Nightly “Quick Chat”

This is something that I have been doing for about 6 weeks. Every night before they go to sleep, I climb into my girl’s beds and we chat. They set they agenda. Some of my girls just want to me to listen to them … others want to wrestle… but the last thing on their mind is this, “Dad loves me.”

Tell them about them in a journal

Every night I write to each daughter in a notebook reserved for her. I’ll give it to them someday… I’m not sure when.

Sometime ago I read Mark Batterson’s book, Praying Circles Around Your Children. In this book he says that as a parent I am the historian and prophet of my child’s life. In other words, they will know about their past from the things I tell them and they will believe about their future much of what I say to them. My words help to interpret their past and clarify their future.

I began journaling for my girls a few years ago and have recently resumed it with a renewed level of intensity. In the journal I simply tell them what they did that day and affirm the good things I see in them. I also take the opportunity to tell them what I believe and love about them.

Finally…

Have them read every day

From time to time I watch and listen to what my kids are watching/listening.

So much of what is consumed today is pure assininery (what you just read is a new word). Stupid, irresponsible, CRAP is what much of is available on TV, YouTube, and music these days.

I want my kids to have good things flowing into their minds… things that will provoke thoughtfulness, questions, and wisdom.

To be sure, they consume their share of silliness, but we are working daily to create an environment in which they put some substance into their little heads! Things like the lessons they picked up from Family180, stories of successful men and women, and even some silly books like “Dork Diary”… because reading is better than not reading.

Anyhow…

These are some of the things that I am paying attention to as a dad… and I am seeing significant changes in my home… changes that I like.

It really all comes back to this…

The important stuff requires daily attention.

And now, some tweetables

tweet-this_button

  • I love being a dad, and I consider it one of the most important roles in my life.
  • Many parents spend more time on social media than they do in meaningful interaction with their kids.
  • Deciding is nothing until you do something!
  • the little things, done consistently over an extended period of time produce the biggest results.
  • The important stuff requires daily attention.
  • “Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details.” (2 Corinthians 6:4 MSG)
  • I want my kids to be emotionally healthy, spiritually & physically strong, relationally alert so I must pay attention to the details… daily.
  • When I take time for God, He addresses attitudes, gives wisdom, and helps me navigate the ever changing waters of parenting.
  • When I exercise, eat, and sleep well I am a better dad.
  • Every big thing is made up of a bunch of little things. A house = a lot of little bricks and nails. A million dollars = a lot of pennies.
  • There are no big things without little things… so pay attention to them… and that’s what will make the biggest changes in your home!

If you missed yesterday you can watch/listen here… and if you like it you can share it with another dad!

Now to you… what little things are making a big difference in your home?