Category Archives: Fatherhood

Webslinger

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That face, though!

We’ve had a great summer. My daughter has owned more and more of my heart as days go by. Today is day #479 of the Alliance and it’s also her first day of 8th grade.  I was given the great honor of driving her to school this morning!

Of course there are challenges that come with parenting a teenage girl, even if you were in her life from the beginning. When you’re stepping in at her 12th year, there are so many attitudes and mindsets that have already settled, so many beliefs that have already taken hold, some good and some not so. There’s much to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

To be completely frank with you, it’s scary and hard sometimes. I’ve always been interested in personal development, and lately I am learning a lot about leadership. The first and most important leadership assignment I carry is to lead myself in a way that is worthy of being followed.

Sometimes as a leader, you have to question patterns that were solidly entrenched before you got here. You have to lead yourself by the path of “Calm is Strong” at times when you would rather let your emotions lead you. You have to initiate crucial conversations that would be much easier to avoid. If we don’t have those conversations, we are not doing our job as protectors. We get to nudge (because love does not control) the trajectory of young leaders as they set their course in life.

This one’s a leader, a firecracker. I love her fiery spirit and insatiable joy! I’m stretching to be a good leader to her and for her, because that’s part of my mission. She keeps me following Jesus, because I’ll have to be a great follower in order to lead this one! Chuck Pattishall says the art of leadership is really the science of follower-ship. Those on step 4 follow those on step 5, who are following those on step 6.

One of my great motivations to grow consistently is that there are more people following me now, and some of them live at my house.

Maybe someday I’ll be famous outside my house. For right now, my goal is to be famous at home.

Are you feared or trusted by those you lead?

Are you loved AND respected?

Are you a super-hero at your house?

What do you have to do or become for that to be the case?

 

Best to you today!

#LennDar #Strender

 

Solar Eclipse 2017

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I rest on Mondays.

Saturdays and Sundays are work days for me at church. Lots of people. Lots of listening to people, creating space for people, contributing energy and vision to people. Monday is the day I unplug and honor the introvert within.

Yesterday there was a solar eclipse, visible in totality from my small town in Oregon. People came from all over the country, most of them descending on Salem, the state’s capital, conveniently 45 minutes from us. There were an estimated 1 million additional travelers to the state for the purpose of viewing this celestial event.

Last thing I want to do on a Monday is see more people and be around a crowd, or even a group.

So Darlene, AKA Queen D, tells me that she wants to watch the eclipse with her friends and their family and she’d like us to go there as a family and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make memories together as a tribe, and all I’m thinking is, Blessed Aloneness, where Art Thou?

Over the decade of forming this Alliance, we’ve gotten a pretty good sense for recognizing when something is truly important to the other person, and I sensed that definitely was the  case, so I decided to go along with the family and watch this solar eclipse, blah blah, ho-hum…

Turns out I had a blast! We all did! From the first time we looked through our special eclipse glasses and saw that the moon had taken a bite out of the sun, and Sage said, “it looks like the Apple logo,” we were knit together into a shared experience that I suspect we will treasure for years. Is it possible that trust is built of memories such as these? My video was not of the magnificent display in the heavens, but on earth, the shared energy of a group that had gathered to be amazed together.

While we were all yelling and ooh-ing and aah-ing as the sun went out, I remembered this Ted Talk that I watched several years ago about how shared experience binds us together. Now me and those 20 people from yesterday have a shared memory of the eclipse that qualifies us to say, “hey remember that time?”

Relationship is made of many things. I believe an important ingredient is the memory of that one time, and that other time, and the time we did that thing…

Daring Greatly

VulnerabilityI’ve heard a lot about Brene Brown from my wife and from other people in our church community. Until this past week, my only experience of her ideas was this video of her TedX talk, which taught me a lot about the importance of being vulnerable and how that allows us to move past shame.

Last Thursday on my drive to Guitar Center, I started listening to one of her books titled Daring Greatly. Then today I listened to a few more chapters on my way to and back from Portland. I’m in chapter 5 of 12 and already this book is changing my life and allowing me to dispel shame simply by putting words to it. I am learning so  much from her. Here’s a sentence that really stuck out to me: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like Courage.”

If you don’t listen to audiobooks often, I recommend the app Audible. Here’s a link to the audiobook Daring Greatly: https://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/Daring-Greatly-Audiobook/B0096BOG04

Another Brene Brown book that I’ve heard good things about is Rising Strong. I’ll move to that one after I get through Daring Greatly. Lots of time on the road, perfect for listening and learning. Andi Duli refers to his car as his university on wheels. I’m using my car that way too. I’m getting smarter by the mile, or at least becoming more vulnerable.

Just Do It

img_2366I don’t blog much, pronounced “at all,” anymore, because I’m too busy living life to sit down and write about it.

Wait, that’s not entirely true. I don’t have time to sit and write the perfect, well-thought-out, highly-impacting, carefully-crafted piece that I would like to deliver. So instead I write nothing, since it can’t be perfectly planned and executed with brilliance. Does that ever stop you? Can’t do it perfectly so you don’t do it at all?

My challenge to myself this year is to stop and share an insight in the most polished form that I can muster inside of 10 minutes. The point is that even an unfinished thought expressed carries more power than a perfect thought unfired.

This is taking me to a song I learned when I was but a wee lad (who says that?). I think this off-the-cuff writing may reveal far too much about me, and now it is too late — the ship has sailed, the train is rolling.

Here’s that song that I learned over 30 years ago, and it made such an impression that 3 decades later I don’t need to look up the lyric, it’s still written on my heart:

Brighten the Corner

Do not wait until some deeds of greatness you may do

Do not wait to shed your light afar

To the many duties ever near you now be true

Brighten the corner where you are

 

Love,

Lenn

 

Alliance: Month 3 — I have a daughter!

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Wow, what a ride!! We are now 95 days into this alliance and I have already learned so much. I’m being stretched and challenged constantly. I’m also enjoying family life immensely!

One of my favorite revelations of the past couple months is the great difference between the statements “I am a father, ” and “I have a daughter!”

The first statement is about an offer of relationship on my part. My children may or may not accept that offer. I’m offering protection and provision and care and emotional support and presence, and commitment and on and on… That’s my offer and it’s wrapped in the statement “I am a father.”

The second statement is about how that offer is received and reciprocated. Will you simply take the provision and protection, or will you also return honor and affection, and submission to my authority?

When I last opened a window into this part of my life, both of the younger members of our team were adamantly refusing to be my children. They wanted a dad, but had no idea what that looks like and how it changes their lives. So any assertion of authority on my part was met with staunch defiance. The proverbial shaking of the fist and the cry “I am not yours.”

I’ve learned so much about the way I have related to my earthly and heavenly fathers. How deliberate am I about sonship? I have the best possible father who is in heaven, and He has blessed with an amazing father here on earth. So statement one is covered, but how am I doing at being a son to them? How am I doing at seeking their interests, their vision, submitting to their authority which seeks only my highest good? Am I operating as son or orphan? Do I want only the blessings but not the responsibilities of relationship?

The question applies across the board to all types of relationship. Do I simply have a great wife, or am I a great husband (pronounced: servant) to my great wife? Am I a son to my father in heaven? Am I a son to my father on earth? Would my actions indicate an identity of stranger, slave, servant or son? Am I honoring and affectionate or sullen and stand-offish?

Are you a son?

Are you a daughter?

On earth as it is in heaven?

Would God say of you “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,” or is He only able to say of you “I am his/her father.”

Nothing pleases the heart of a father like watching his children walk in their identity as sons and daughters.

Great News, Y’all!!! I have a daughter!!! She was my daughter anyway because her identity is true regardless of her response. She was no less my daughter before she owned it. But now she knows it and that means she can receive so much more of the abundance encoded within that identity. Be at peace in this, friend, that you are a child of the King whether or not you have walked in that identity, but there is such favor and fullness when you put that identity on and wear it like a treasured robe!

She waits for me when I get home in the evening, she comes out to the car and takes my laptop, my camera bag, the food bag, she literally insists that I carry nothing. She won’t even let me open the door! Then she orders me to wait at the table while she dishes up the scrumptious meal my wife has created, and my daughter serves me dinner.

She asks me daily “Are you busy?” which is code for “Can you hang out with me?” If you know me, you know I’m busy. But I’m never so busy I can’t make time to hang with this beautiful creature/creator. She makes these great little movies on an app called Musical.ly and she delights in showing them to me.

We had a momentary disconnect last week. She yelled hurtful things at me. I put on a brave face, but as soon as she stormed out, I retreated to the office, curled up on the floor and cried. Not long after, she came to the door and knocked. I uttered a weak, “come in.”

She stood near my desk and said “I’m sorry.” I stuck up my hand and said “I love you.” She grabbed my hand and said “I love you too.”

Thank you Jesus! I have a daughter!

Life with Family: It ain’t easier; it’s just sweeter!

 

 

Alliance: Month One

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A month ago today I married my best friend. We’ve lived happily ever after. Wedded bliss. Cake by the Ocean. The End.

Except not.

This has been one of the hardest months of my life.  I was tempted not to write about it, but it may serve someone else to hear this story.

For the past 8 years I’ve known Darlene and her kids and I’ve been fun Uncle Lennox to these children for most of that time. We’ve done museums and beach trips and movie nights and board games and, for crying out loud, they’ve painted my nails and put makeup on my face! We’ve been in each others’ lives for so long I think I expected a seamless transition.

This transition has been anything but smooth. Now I’m not just fun Uncle, but a voice saying chores must be done and rules must be followed and consequences will apply and suddenly I’ve become persona non grata with these lovely kids. I’m confident we will find our way to a mutual respect and collaborative alliance, but that has not happened in these 31 days.

From each kid, at separate times, and at the top of their lungs, I have been told “I hate you! I don’t want you here! You don’t belong here! You ruined my life!”

It hurt! It hurts terribly. I’ve loved these kids for almost a decade. I call them my son and my daughter. Did I just get discarded because you don’t want to wash a dish? Wow, is that the value of this relationship to you? And then here come the manipulative questions of the enemy: Who do you think you are? What makes you think you belong here? Why don’t you go back to the easier path?

I say this for the benefit of the newly married step-dad who has had a similar experience. No, you’re not crazy, this happens.

Time for some good news. My wife has been a champion, always had my back, never wavered. Together we have welcomed help from professionals, from church, and from community. She has spoken over me the prophetic words that we’ve received from God. She has covered me in prayer. We have grown so much closer than we ever were before. Our connection is deeper than ever and our bond tighter than I realized possible. Our routine takes us to God and to each other every single morning.

Where is the goodness of God in this story? Let me show you! Day 18 “we” (pronounced: Lennox) had a melt-down at 3:37 pm, but had to leave at 4:30 to keep an appointment we had made a week earlier. The appointment? To receive prayer from a couple we respect highly, who have also walked the path of blending families.

So we got filled up from them with not only the advice of experienced parents, but they also spoke to the insecurities that surfaced in me. They counteracted and removed the falsehood “Who do you think you are? You can’t do this!”

The lie was exposed and dismissed within 90 minutes after it had been stirred up in my mind and before it had time to sink into my heart and insinuate into some corner where it could breed and fester unchallenged in the dark.

They prayed over me the truth of who I am, a Tarzan swinging from vine to vine, letting go of one vine before catching sight of the other, relying on the sheer confidence that it WILL be there! Bless God– He is faithful!!

They gave us pages and pages of encouragement and truth, and we had to interrupt them in order to get to our next appointment, which was the arrival of a team from Coast Hills Community Church to pray a blessing over our home. Turns out the pastors of Open Door Community Church, Jim and Penny, also showed up, bringing along two friends of theirs who were visiting from California. This convergence of three different worship communities proceeded to fill us up another 2 hours.

So yes, there was the hurt that exposed a lie in me, followed by 4 hours of truth poured on top of the wound, and all of that encouragement already on the calendar at least a week prior to the hurtful exchange. There is the goodness of God. There is His glory. He knew ahead of time we would need that power boost at that moment.

That was just one day of these 31. I can go on and on about how good this month has been, because in spite of this being the most challenging month I’ve ever lived, it’s also the most blessed and highly favored month I’ve ever lived. On all fronts, in family, in ministry, in business we are seeing the goodness of God in manifest ways.

I cannot wait to see what happens in month two!!!

 

See You Laters

Mom, Dad and Sister flew home yesterday. Sis and I managed to squeeze in a bird-watching walk at Baskett Slough before lunch and departures.

There were a lot of bike riders on the roads today. Annual Reach The Beach fundraiser ride for the American Lung Association. What a great thing to see so many people out there pedaling for a cause! What a wonderful world!

Lincoln City Beach

I took my mom and dad and sister to the coast today, to Lincoln City Beach. We walked on the sand for a while, climbed a rock, looked at a few shells and then headed back home. We only spent about half an hour there, and it was very important time.