Tag Archives: Daughter

“Bless You”

Never retaliate when someone treats you wrongly, nor insult those who insult you, but instead, respond by speaking a blessing over them—because a blessing is what God promised to give you.
1 Peter 3:9 (TPT)

In over 50 years of this life journey, I have enjoyed relationships with many friends. Especially among my male friends, I have regularly encountered those individuals with what I will describe as a particular soul wound. They never received a blessing from their father.

In ancient days, a father’s blessing was a cultural ritual. The blessing was the spoken favor of the father given, typically, to his son. The first recorded blessing in the Great Story is God’s blessing to Abram:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)

In Genesis 49, Jacob calls all of his sons and speaks to each one of them “the blessing appropriate for him.” It was a rite of passage, often spoken before death in those days.

Along my journey, I’ve come to realize that our culture has largely forgotten the importance of children receiving a blessing from their parents. I have come to believe that it’s important for a child to hear a blessing from both parents. I have observed, however, that a son receiving a blessing from his father has a major spiritual and emotional impact on a man’s life. I have known men who received nothing but curses from their fathers, and I have known men who received nothing but silence from their fathers. The soul wound is often hidden behind a male ego and masculine bravado, but I’ve seen how it can cut deep and create all sorts of spiritual, emotional, and relational handicaps.

Speaking a blessing doesn’t have to be a formal ritual, though it certainly can be a very meaningful rite of passage when it’s done that way. The most simple blessings are simply words of love and affirmation:

  • “I love you.”
  • “You’ve got this. I believe in you.”
  • “You’re going to be okay. I know it.”
  • “I’m proud of you.”
  • “That was great. Well done.”
  • “You are loveable, valuable, and capable.”
  • “I have no doubt that you will succeed at whatever you’re led to do in this life.”

In today’s chapter, it struck me that Peter instructed believers to specifically speak a blessing over those who wrong you. I find myself wondering if we even know how to do that anymore, even with those we love, let alone doing it with our enemies. Given what I see on social media, cursing appears to be de rigueur.

In the quiet this morning, I’m discovering my renewed desire to bring blessings back. There’s a reason why I speak a blessing at the end of my podcast. I would love for blessings to become fashionable again, but I suppose that means I’ve got to start being more intentional about it. So, here you go, my friend. Receive an old Celtic blessing from this wayfaring stranger (I spoke it as I posted it):

May the blessings of the Light be upon you,
Light without and Light within,
And in all your comings and goings,
May you ever have a kindly greeting
From those you meet along the road.

Have a great day. Press on. You’ve got this.

Have you missed previous chapter-a-day posts from 1 Peter? Click on the image above for quick access to all the links!

Favoritism

If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love. He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.
Deuteronomy 21:15-17 (NIV)

This morning’s chapter was one of those chapters that require a bit of effort to embrace. Reading various laws concerning a middle-eastern culture thousands of years old doesn’t seem to have immediate relevance to this 21st century, midwestern, American life. And yet, when I step back and look at the underlying principles of the laws, there are definitely some take aways common to the human experience.

Take the verses I pasted above. A guy has two wives and a son with each of them. He loves one wife but not the other. The law said not to play favorites with the sons based on your feelings about their mothers. On the first reading I’m thinking “I don’t live in a polygamous culture. I can’t relate to that.”

Then I start thinking, not about polygamy but divorce and remarriage. I think about the simple act of favoritism within families. I think about children who’ve watched their divorced and remarried parent shower new step siblings with love and affection while they feel unwanted. I think about grandparents who do things for the grandchildren of one son but not for the grandchildren of the other. I  think about how messy parent and child relationships can get.

Yes. Yes, this is relevant to me.

Today, I’m thankful for two amazing daughters and the different, but no less priceless, relationships I have with each. I have tried very hard over the past two and a half decades to live out the idea that favoritism is not avoided by restricting relationship to the rigid borders of absolute relational equity. Rather, favoritism is avoided by choosing into unbridled, expressed love and support for the unique child of God each daughter is becoming communicated through the unique relationship and relational paradigms I have with each of them.

Assumptions, Miscommunication, and Conflict

source: loonatic via Flickr
source: loonatic via Flickr

“But this is what you concealed in your heart,
    and I know that this was in your mind….”
Job 10:13 (NIV)

A couple of weeks ago I sat with my daughter and we had a very frank discussion about life and relationship. We talked about a myriad of things. It was one of those intense and emotional conversations that, once it is over, is hard to recall in anything but bits and pieces. It was time to clear the relational air over which a fog has existed for some time. I recognized that it was a conversation that happens to provide clarity and definition between parent and child when a child is transforming into an adult.  It wasn’t a pleasant conversation, though I believe that it was both healthy and necessary. Clearing the air is sometimes a prerequisite to making progress in life. It provides necessary focus to answer the questions:

  • “Where have I/we been?”
  • “Where am I/are we at?”
  • “Where am I/are we going?”

In the midst of this event I was reminded of a truth I’ve come to realize and embrace along life’s journey. Most conflicts can be traced back to miscommunication. The miscommunication can be an incorrect assumption about what another person thinks, believes, or perceives. The miscommunication can be confusion over the meaning and intent of something that was said. The miscommunication can be confusion over what was said and what was heard. Conflict can almost always be traced back to miscommunication.

I was struck this morning as I read Job’s diatribe how many assumptions he makes in his conflict with God:

  • “But this is what you concealed in your heart” (I know what God thinks)
  • “I know that this was in your mind” (I know the mind of God)
  • “If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion” (I know God’s intention)
  • “You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me” (I know that my sufferings are an execution of your misdirected justice)

That’s a lot of assumptions to make, especially about the Almighty.

Today, I’m thinking about my own penchant for making assumptions about what others think, believe, intend, and feel. I am seeking forgiveness for my foolish pride, which motivates and is at the root of such assumptions. I am seeking to make a little progress in the area of actually communicating with others rather than assuming I know what is in their hearts and on their minds.

Father’s Day Weekend 2014

Tom and Taylor Fathers Day 2014 IMG_8555It was a gorgeous Father’s Day weekend and we tried to make the most of it. On Friday, Wendy and I headed to Des Moines. While Wendy took care of some personal errands, I took my Dad out for a father/son lunch at Granite City. We then headed back to the folks’ house. Taylor got off work early and came over to join me and we had a nice visit the four of us.

Friday night was our friend, Kennedy’s, dance recital. Wendy, Taylor, Kev and I met at Urban Grill for drinks, then Kev left while Wendy, Taylor and I had a bite of dinner together and we celebrated Father’s Day together. The dance recital was long (over three hours), but Kennedy was beautiful and danced her heart out. We loved watching her.

Saturday was work day at Vander Well Manor. We recently replaced our old garage doors and refaced the front of the garage with new siding and trip. Suzanna has been working on painting the trim this past week along with some general trip painting that needed to be done around the house. She continued that while Wendy and I tackled the chaos of our basement. It feels so good to have cleaned up and organized some things. Having taken some time off on Friday, Wendy and I sat on the couch and worked several hours on Saturday afternoon/evening while we watched the Cubs beat the Phillies and then watched Ivory Coast beat Japan in the World Cup.

Sunday morning Wendy and I headed to Albia where I gave the morning message at The Gate church which meets in a building on the SE corner of the square there. It’s a small gathering of about 40-50 people. Wendy graduated from high school in Albia, and one of her closest friends from high school is a leader in the church there, so it was great to connect and catch up. I missed a call from Madison while we were at church. Wendy and I headed back to an empty house as Suzanna had headed to Ankeny to visit her and Wendy’s folks. Wendy and I grabbed a bite of lunch and did a little more work before heading back to Des Moines mid-afternoon.

We met Taylor at Jordan Creek Mall late Sunday afternoon. Wendy went off for some quiet time while Taylor and I had a little daddy/daughter date which began at Cold Stone Creamery and ended at Champps. We all headed back to Kev and Beck’s house about 6:00 and then headed up to Plaza Pub to grab some pizza for carry out before retiring back at the house for pizza, wine and conversation that went until about 10:30 p.m. When we got home, Suzanna was up and we debriefed with her about her Father’s Day with mom and dad Hall before getting to bed way too late (or early, as it was well after midnight).

“Yes, You Can”

Way to go, Taylor! Way to go!

Dad & Madison @ Graduation 05 2010

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…. Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

When our daughters were growing up, I made the choice that my default parental answer would always be “yes.” I believed that one of the most important lessons I could instill in my children is an understanding of how capable they were.

  • “Yes” you can play in the sprinkler, because life is about joyful everyday experiences
  • “Yes” you can stay up and read in bed, because reading will expand your world
  • “Yes” you can go on a missions trip to the other side of the world, because God doesn’t put an age limit on spiritual gifts or who He can/will use for His purposes, and neither should I.
  • “Yes” you can try out for [fill in the blank], because I believe you can do it, I want  you to believe in yourself, and even if you fail you will learn an invaluable life lesson that will benefit you the rest of your life.

Don’t get me wrong. The answer was “no” on occasion, but as a parent I wanted my “no” to have good reason that I could clearly articulate. I’ve seen too many parents whose default is always “no,” and the negative impact on their children:

  • “No” you can’t because I don’t trust you
  • “No” you can’t because you’re a kid
  • “No” you can’t because I never could
  • “No” you can’t because I don’t want to have to deal with it

I live in a world of fellow adults who have no idea of how capable they are or the difference they could make in the lives of others because the default answer they’ve known all their lives has been “no.” I wanted the default answer in my home to be “yes” so that my children would realize that they are even more capable than they themselves realized, and that I believed in them. More importantly, I believe that God believes in them, has gifted them uniquely, and can do immeasurably more through them than they could ask or imagine.

This past weekend we had the joy of spending some time with Taylor. She shared with us what’s been going on in her soul of late, which she put into her blog post on Sunday. She quoted from Rob Bell’s sermon which dovetails nicely with this morning’s post:

If you are a disciple, you have committed your entire life to being like your rabbi. If you see your rabbi walk on water, what do you immediately want to do? Walk on water. So this disciple gets out on the water and he starts to sink, so he yells, “Jesus save me!” And Jesus says, “You of little faith, why do you doubt?” Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; Jesus is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself. Peter loses faith that he can do what the rabbi is doing. If the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes you can actually be like him. As we read the stories of Jesus’ life with his disciples, what do we find that frustrates him to no end? When his disciples lose faith in themselves. He doesn’t get frustrated with them because they are incapable, but because of how capable they are. 

So Jesus, at the end of his time, tells the disciples to go make more disciples. Then he leaves. He dies. He promises to send his Spirit to guide and direct them, but the future of the movement is in their hands. He doesn’t stick around to make sure they don’t screw it up. He’s gone. He actually trusts that they can do it. God has an incredibly high view of people. God believes people are capable of amazing things. I’ve been told that I need to believe in Jesus, which is a good thing. But what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me.

“Yes, you  can.”

 

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An Honored Role

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This past Saturday night I had the fun and privilege of participating in a father/daughter dance with my friend Megan for the third straight year. Megan and her family became our friends through theatre. In 2006 when Wendy directed The Christmas Post, a young Megan was on stage with her mother and brother, and her dad was the show’s accompanist. Back in the spring of 2010, Megan’s dad passed away and it happened that she was, at that time, capably playing the role of my character’s daughter in the show K.O.L.D. Radio, Whitefish Bay.

Megan joined the PHS dance team, Forte’, when she got to high school and at the team’s annual home performance the girls always do a dance with their dads. It’s been my honor to be asked to play the role of her honorary dad each year. Talk about dancing with the stars 🙂

Thanks to Wendy for her exemplary job behind the camera!

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Here’s Looking at You, Kid

Those who know me well know that Casablanca may just be my favorite movie of all time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched it on video and I can quote chunks of the dialogue from memory. Great stories and memorable characters never grow old – and Casablanca is one of the best screenplays ever penned with some of the most memorable characters in film history. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, the movie still moves, provokes, and entertains me.

So, when my eldest texted me last week that Casablanca was playing at the Varsity Theater in Des Moines and wondered if I’d like to go I knew it was a “Taylor-made” father-daughter outing for the two of us. I’ve been having daddy-daughter dates with my girls since they were babies and I still enjoy them now that they are adults. I look forward to enjoying them for the rest of my life, even if that means that Taylor and Madison wheel me out on surprise donut runs from the nursing home 😉

As for last night’s date, I picked up Taylor who was dressed to the nines and we dined on some cajun barbecue at the Flying Mango prior to the movie. Then it was off to the Varsity (which hasn’t changed since I saw films there as a kid) to enjoy Casablanca on the big screen for the first time. Yes, I still laughed at jokes, held my breath when the patrons of Rick’s sing down the Nazi’s with their rendition of La Marseillaise, and sighed as Rick stands on the foggy tarmac and tells Ilsa that they’ll “always have Paris.”

Of course, Taylor and I had the requisite and never ending conversation regarding whether Ilsa really wanted to get on the plane or stay with Rick. Which is the point anyway. Daddy-daughter dates are about connecting and conversation. The conversations have changed over the years, but my appreciation and joy for the time and connection with my girls only grows deeper.