10 Habits to Break (and NOT live by) :: small.

ikeasuspensionbridge Small.

I often look down when I walk.  I do the same when riding trails on my mountain bike or hiking wooded paths.  This is not good practice and does little to keep me aware of all around and ahead of me.

My concern paints the world small and keeps my eyes gazing down at the day known.  The trouble with living this way lies in much of life peripheral being threatened by my thin awareness.

If I only train myself to see now, tomorrow stays hushed and faded in hopes and dreams that remain foreign in the unseen distance just ahead and around me.

When all we see is 'smalled' to now, our effort, too, slows to the shape of what we see.  So if we are cornered by disappointment and let downs, possibility of things better and life bigger seem to belong to others reaching for more.

The future belongs to those able to see beyond now.  It is then that life isn't mastered by moments but always vibrant, even through swelling waves tossing unfavorable.

Seeing life further requires recognizing life bigger than now.

In a word, faith.

Now here's where faith gets a bit twisted: faith isn't indestructible belief that blooms from a strong heart.  Faith is the humble confession of those broken by life and unresolved by the realization that you cannot possibly do it in your own.  So we bow in the smallness of who we are and trust for more; we never stay in the smallness.

God dwells all around and outside of the small.  He is forever beyond limitations felt in small moments able to lift you to the broad expanse of all ahead and beyond now.

Otherwise, your eyes are trained to look inwardly to your heart and ambition and effort - small becomes your outlook.  That's when life shrinks around the immediacy of now and left to be counted good in easy times and bad in difficulty.

Proverbs 3 gives sound advice that you should paint on the walls of your heart and ring in your confession.  Our response to life high and low should be full trust in God, who adequately authors the story of who you are.  We fully trust in rejecting self reliance and holding to God's bigger in our lives.

After all, the story belongs to the author, not the character.


(*image credit: ikea.com)

In the Disappearance of Today.

hope Hope.

I often wonder of tomorrow, when I am older and time runs beyond me, when my bone and muscle move much slower than my heart leads, when I have more space in each day for thoughts to circle.  Thoughts of how life will be for them and what life’s pressures feel like then.

I remind myself: they were created for that day ahead.

And it waits for them.

“Dad, do you think I can be . . .”  You fill in the blank because my little girls ask about them all.  My strong reply always echoes the same.  “Yes, you sure can.”

They will meander close behind me and stray in the distance as my daughters grow, get  older and begin to stand surer in life.  There will be many instances where I have little control.  I feel their strings pull a bit more as their day gets closer.  The truth is I have very little control over their course in life.  God has allowed my opportunity to reflect His glory and nature into their lives, but it is He alone who owns the days ahead.



parent as prophet.

The architect must be a prophet... a prophet in the true sense of the term... if he can't see at least ten years ahead don't call him an architect.Frank Lloyd Wright

The same must be true in parenting also.  Architect, one who shapes and builds.  Prophet, one who sees the form before the build.

With the complexities of culture changing and evolving, media shaping perspectives and acceptabilities and a world moving much too fast, it is more than easy to get lost in parenting techniques.  It seems as though many strategies given to assist and guide good parenting are geared more to contain the child in good behavior rather than preparing to unleash them into the life waiting for them.

And more so everyday, I am convinced that it is the latter parental ambition that should be reached for.

An architect must have a plan to raise a structure from a brick to a building.  It is no more luck than it is chance.

Buildings are not just built.  They are constructed by design and with intentional, planned effort.  Careful attention is given to measurements and incremental values that may seem insignificant to those simply observing the structure being built, but the architect marries himself to the details for he knows that the future, the success and the strength of what he is building lies in the attentive detail to the parts forming the whole to be.  It is not so much the exterior that the architect is concerned with.  He is painstakingly obsessed with the structure from the inside out.  Even when the eventual outside will boast of innovative design and personal genius, the inside must be correct, inch by inch and detail by detail.

Much like parenting in techniques, I’m sure it is quite easy for an architect to reduce his genius to a builder of buildings rather than one who sees the form before the build and raises a structure to life.

The architect must be a prophet who sees not only a finished product but a form finding purpose and significance now while belonging still to the future ahead.

Is this not parenting also?

The parent must be a prophet... who builds now based on what he has glimpsed ahead, carefully building, constructing and reinforcing, the child for the life ahead of them.

...a prophet in the truest sense of the term ...if he can’t see at least ten years ahead don’t call him a parent.

For me, and I assume the same for you as a parent, if I am merely conditioning my daughters to react to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and right and wrong - giving attention to formless details rooted in immediate response and good behavior - what confident hope do I have that my daughters will one day become all that they can be?

I am trying to rid myself of attitudes aiming at quick, get in line, kind of behavior and reaching to be the parent unleashing them, exposing them and preparing them for the life ahead.  I want them to live with a deep, intrinsic sense of purpose in life, hearts burning with passion and form strong enough to stand.

I don’t have the answers.  

I’m often more confounded by the trivial than confident as a parent, often more lost stumbling insecurely than always strongly leading them, 
often saying things I don’t necessarily mean in emotion and anger than speaking love and truth often worried that it all won’t be enough than faithfully putting seeds in the soil of their heart often ill concerned with the exterior, what others might think, than diligently tightening bolts within their loose little hearts

...so I pray for prophet eyes to see ahead, the possibility of all they can become, and I glimpse the form of God’s hand lifting dust into life.

It is there that I try to parent from the most.  I speak to them as if they have an already accepted day ahead that they belong to, not in terms of a career choice for them, but in a life where they live now leading them to the who, what, when, where, why and how of it all.  As a parent with prophet eyes, I share with them the significant glimpse and together we spy God together and the reason holding within them reveals clearly.

The vision holding in my heart for each of my girls is a day when I will let them go from my hand into another day.

We will look into each others eyes, they will not wilt, as she says goodbye to only my daughter and embraces the woman she has been becoming.

That day will be familiar as I will have visited it often by then, crossing the line of present to future, creating and shaping them from there.

*an innovative design of Frank Lloyd Wright calling from years ahead of its build

in the way she should go.

“You must earn the right to quit.” And with those words floating wisely across the room finding only a lonely stare in my daughter’s young eyes, I returned to the corner of the room and the lotus position from which I came.

Another parenting stroke of genius gently leading my daughter from a place of despair and desolation to perspective as the ocean deep and endless sky sprawl.  One day she’ll look back with forever adoration thanking God for gracing her life with such magnificence.

That’s what it looked like seconds after I spoke a Confucian smoke screen hung with ornate words that impressed only me.  It was one of those lines spoken valued so good that repetition was a must for certainty that the hearer surely missed the glory.

She just sat there unaffected by my words, despite repetition and rephrasing, overwhelmed with emotion and armed with countless reasons to quit.  I miss the mark in my parenting relationship with my daughters.  It happens quite often.

I say the wrong things and do the wrong things every day, but I am convinced that perfection in parenting is a misdirected illusion cutting the legs out from under many parents sinking in mistakes.


My oldest is growing into her own faster than I can count days.  Before I know it and much sooner than I care to even entertain at the moment, the day will come when she hugs my neck in a hurry on her way out the door to cut her own path in life.

Already behind us are those days when I carried her and ruled righteously in her life with a firm and unquestioned ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  Life was simple.  That was then.

Now and in the days ahead, she is beginning to (and will continue to) push boundaries, question my judgement and reasoning and stretch out the legs strengthening beneath her.  This is an important formative process that must happen, but also must be shaped by the parent.

“Train up a child in the way (s)he should go; even when (s)he is old (s)he will not depart from it.”  - Proverbs 22:6

And hear me clearly when I say that this, her stretching, pushing, objecting, protesting, is all good.


Our conversation was more than simply my words being spoken to her, or at her.  A milestone now sets behind us marking her maturing.

You see, training your child to go at life the right way happens in the smallest of opportunities.  This particular opportunity came in the form of a conversation about giving up because of rejection and difficulty.

Elizabeth has been a dancer for over 5 years now.  She’s learned the basics in several different forms of dancing as she’s been a part of two different dance schools.  Dancing is simply a regular part of her identity as a young girl.  As the new session began, Elizabeth chose to enroll in an advanced ballet class, one that would surely push her ability beyond anything that she’s aspired to accomplish as of yet.  After the first class, I could tell she was frustrated and sinking into a bad attitude.  Then her new teacher suggested she move to a more basic ballet class where she could master base techniques.

Suddenly in her own mind, Elizabeth couldn’t dance.  She wouldn’t.

Vanished were the years of dance behind her.  The recitals, the classes and all accomplished, gone lost in her perceived rejection and difficulty.

In the grand scheme of circumstance and reality, her difficulty seems minute and insignificant.  That was my initial evaluation of it, but I undervalued a great struggle for her; a tension between do and don’t, try and quit, win and lose, significance and perseverance.

She made a handwritten list detailing no less than ten reasons why she would quit dance.  With that list written in the little handwriting that I helped teach, she had my attention.

She was shrinking, giving up without giving greater effort in heavier circumstance.


“If you quit now, what will you be?”

...silence, but her eyes said everything.

With a hushed voice she nearly whispered, “A quitter.”


As a parent, I never want my kids to feel forced to do anything that they do not want to do.  If she really wants to quit dancing and move onto other activities, she’s free to do so, but she has to earn the right to make a mature decision, to quit.

For the sake of her future standing in wait for her, I made her commit to a mature decision.  She would have to commit to three more weeks of her new ballet class, trying hard, giving full effort and having a positive attitude.  Then once she completed three weeks, we would revisit the discussion.

As kids grow, so must parenting techniques and relationship.  The mistake I observe in parenting is to try to parent the same way as kids grow older and face more mature situations.

We prayed simple words and committed to simple action.  Packed into the cryptic statement that I began our conversation with bathed in her tears, was truth far simpler and greater than I originally intended.  She understood that she couldn’t just quit because a habit would be given room to grow and that life required perseverance through difficulty.

I’m convinced that a good portion of any parenting success with me is due to a sort of subconsciously driven dumb luck pulling wisdom and experience from my past into their present.

After I picked her up from her new class, she smiled almost slyly like she learned a new secret, and told me that she loves her new ballet class.

Gone were the worries that convinced her she should quit.