Parenting and Mercy

This isn’t my typical exercise and fitness post. I haven’t even posted in a long time, but for some reason (maybe it’s the Global Leadership Summit I attended today) I felt compelled to write. Every now and then, our hearts need some exercise too. Maybe someone out there will be touched by this.

So tonight, my seven year old daughter made a choice that she shouldn’t have. She had been warned that if she made this particular choice, she would have her Kindle taken away. This upset her a lot because she loves to listen to “Adventures in Odyssey” to fall asleep. She cried the entire way home. After we got home, I got down on one knee with her and we talked about it. I asked her what I should do in this situation.

She looked at me, with tears filling her eyes, and told me that I should take her Kindle even though she didn’t want me to. She then burst into tears.

I had a choice here. I could take the Kindle and follow through with the consequence I had put forward earlier. Or I could show mercy.

I thought about it.

I looked in her tear-filled eyes and told her that I was so proud that she did the right thing by telling me I should take her Kindle even though it hurt her heart. She could have easily told me that she didn’t deserve a consequence and that I should give her a second chance. Or she could have told me I could have taken something else away that wasn’t as important to her. But she didn’t. She told me exactly what she deserved. And it hurt her…a lot.

I look at that girl with so much love. It reminded me so much of the love that God has for me. I deserve a consequence. We all do. We are all born into sin and deserve a consequence. I asked her if she ever heard of “mercy”. She said she kinda did.

God showed us mercy by sending His Son to die on the cross so we didn’t have to.

John 3:16 says “God loved the world so much that he gave His only son so that whoever believes in Him would not die, but have eternal life.”

We deserve a consequence but God loves us so much that he didn’t give me the consequence I deserve. Instead, He died for me so I didn’t have to. It takes a lot of love to do that!

I decided that I wasn’t going to take the Kindle even though that’s what she deserved. I told her we should always do the right thing even if it hurts our heart. I told her that it doesn’t matter if she is 7, 8, or 30, I always want her to do the right thing. I always like to catch my kids doing good things rather than catch them doing something wrong.

I don’t know if I have this parenting thing figured out or not. I do know one thing though. I feel like I taught her more tonight about a father’s love and God’s love than I ever could have by giving her a consequence. I know that she is going to bed knowing that her dad loves her and that God loves her so much that He is willing to show mercy and grace even when she doesn’t deserve it. To me, that matters more than anything.

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Spartan Heart – Through The Eyes Of A Child

Shortly after my daughter was born, she was diagnosed with Amblyopia, or a lazy eye.  To most people, it’s not noticeable.  At least not until I point it out.  When she looks at you, it takes a little longer for her bad eye to focus.  Most people wouldn’t know she is almost legally blind in that eye.  She never lets it stop her.  She has finished two Spartan Kids Races at four and half years old.  Fast forward to when she was three, the specialist eye doctor told her that she needed to wear a patch over her good eye.  This would force her to use the muscles in her bad eye, strengthening it.  With enough persistence, her bad eye may become strong enough that she won’t even need glasses.  The problem was, she hated wearing her patch.  Her bad eye was so bad, she couldn’t see anything.  It was pitiful watching her bump into things as she walked around the house.   Fast forward again.  Two weeks ago, the eye doctor said that surgery wasn’t an option anymore.  She HAD to wear a patch.  Not only did she have to wear the patch, she has to wear it for at least six hours a day for the next year.  If she doesn’t, she may eventually go blind in that eye.  The deterioration of the one eye could lead to the deterioration of the other, causing her to go legally blind. The doctor had a sit-down with her and explained the importance of wearing her patch.  This was reiterated by her mom, and again by me when I got home from work.  I explained to her that if she didn’t wear her patch, she might not be able to see things anymore.  If she can’t see things, she might not be able to do some things that she was excited about doing when she got older, like driving a car. I was very careful not to tell her things she can’t do.  I don’t ever want my child to think that she can’t do things just because she has a disability so I was very careful.  However, some things, like driving, are just a reality.  I sat down with her and explained that wearing a patch is a lot like working out.  She understood this because she loves Spartan Races and she loves to go down in the basement and work out with me.  I explained that whenever she wears her patch, it makes her bad eye work out.  The more her eye works out, the stronger it gets, just like when you exercise.  I guess something in her head clicked, and she understood.  She wears her patch on a daily basis.  Yesterday, we were out of patches, so we had to stop at the store and get some more.  They didn’t have any patches with the fun kid designs, they only had the plain jane flesh-colored ones.  She was upset that she didn’t have a pretty patch.  So I told her I would make her an awesome patch, a spartan patch!  A couple of minutes later, this is what I came up with:

image

She loved it.  She calls her bad eye her “spartan eye” because it keeps getting stronger and spartans are strong.  So naturally, I thought this was adorable, so I posted this same picture on the Spartan Parents Facebook page.  One mother saw Jocelyn’s picture and commented that she had a 6 year old daughter who had optic nerve hypoplasia and she struggled with her patch too.  She said that she hopes I didn’t mind if she showed the picture of Jocelyn to her daughter because her daughter felt “different” and seeing her would mean a lot to her.  So of course I said, ABSOLUTELY, DO IT!  I immediately told Jocelyn this story.  I told her:  There was a mommy of a little girl named Addison that saw your picture.  Addison has to wear a patch too because she has a bad eye.  Her mommy wants to show her your picture so she can see that wearing a patch can be cool and that she doesn’t have to be scared or afraid to wear one. Because you are being so good and wearing YOUR patch, you are helping her wear HER patch so her bad eye can get stronger too!!! 

Jocelyn thought that was the coolest thing.  Then Jocelyn showed her spartan heart.  She asked me, “Can I make a video for Addison so I can tell her to wear her patch so her eye can get stronger like mine?”  My heart melted.  I asked her what she wanted to tell her.  I only wanted her to tell me so that she could practice what she was going to say in the video.  I pressed record and I heard, “ummmmm….” with a really long pause.  I said, “it’s ok, don’t be nervous, just talk to Addison and tell her what you were telling me. I’ll start over and we can try again.”  So I pressed record again.  This was the result.

I couldn’t have been more proud as a dad.  I couldn’t wait to send this video.  Just when you think this story is over and couldn’t be more mushy.  There’s more.  As I opened up my phone to send the video, I got a message back from Addison’s mom.  This is what it said:

I couldn’t get the video to download when I just got Addison off the bus, and she just went to a birthday party.  But I told her about Jocelyn and that the video would be waiting for her, and you should have seen her face light up.  I showed her the picture you posted and she said “that girl sees differently too! She’s sooo pretty! And a spartan!” LOL.  She said she wants to make a return video too, so when she’s home in a few hours we will 🙂 “

I teared up.  Here I am, reading this little message with tears streaming down my face. Not because of anything I did, but because of how proud I was of Jocelyn.  Yes, my daughter has a bad eye, but she has the most awesome heart in the world.  Nobody wants to feel alone.  Today, she made Addison’s day, all by herself, just by being her.  She showed her that she is not alone and it’s ok.

This morning Addison sent a return video to Jocelyn.  She was so happy to see Addison.  She keeps watching it over and over.

I don’t know what anyone who reads this is dealing with.  Maybe someone reading this is dealing with a disability, or a difficult situation, or struggling emotionally somehow.  Jocelyn and Addison showed me today that your situation doesn’t have to define you.  You can define your situation.  As adults, it’s easy to feel down on ourselves because things aren’t going the way we’d like.  You never know who you might help along the way when you help yourself.  Your difficulty could become your biggest testimony.

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Anti-Dad Bod

  
I’ve been wanting to do a post on this ever since I started this blog.  It’s been eating at me day and night.  What is this thing they call the “dad bod”?  So I typed in to google: “define dad bod”.  This is what I found:

The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out.  The dad bod says, “I go to the gym occasionally but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.

Allow me to pick this apart for you.  The dad bod is flabby and lacks any major definition.  The dad bod says, “I go to the gym but I don’t really go hard or anything, I do enough to get by.  I don’t watch what I eat because honestly I don’t care that much and how I look isn’t that bad or that important to me.”

I think there is a difference between those that are “dad bod” and those that are in the transitional stages of greatness.  I have nothing against that.   I don’t really care if you work out or not, it’s your body, do what you want (although I think the positive benefits far outweigh the negative).  My main issue comes out of the belief that women prefer this.  Really?  Put a beer gut dude beside a guy that’s all chiseled and basking in absolute savagry and you tell me that women prefer the first choice?  Maybe I’m delusional, but I would assume that a woman would like to see a guy who is fit.  Not just because his body resembles that of a Greek God on his final stages of carb depletion, but because a fit body demonstrates much more than that.  A fit body shows dedication.  You don’t get a fit body overnight.  To be fit is a lifestyle choice that shows you’re willing to sacrifice even though it’s difficult.  A fit body shows hard work.  You show me a guy who goes in to the gym giving half effort, yet still looks better than a guy who gives 100%, and I’ll show you an anomaly.  Who makes it their life choice to go through life giving half effort anyway?  A fit body shows pride.  This isn’t vanity.  This is being proud that you own your body, that you beat it into submission .  Whether you are doing 5 sets 4 plates on the bench for 12 reps or you master Norms bucket brigade on the side of a ski slope, you are pushing yourself to the limits.  You take pride in your body because you respect the work you put in to get it there.  

To me, the dad bod is a cop out.  The dad bod isn’t giving your all.  The dad bad is being ok with mediocrity.  The dad bod is being ok with being half of what you were meant to be.  How do I know this? Because I was there.  I was that guy.  I weighed in at 195lb of flabbyness and unfit.  But I decided to change.   I decided that I wasn’t ok with that.  I wasn’t ok with being mediocre.  

To all you guys out there who bust your butt every single day and still can’t quite get that six pack.  I’m not talking to you.  To the guys who watch what they eat yet still find a striking resemblance to the dad bod despite carving time out of their days to workout. I’m not talking to you either.  Im talking to all of those out there in internetland that are just OK with being mediocre.  Don’t be ok with that.  Be healthy.  Have some pride in your body and your fitness.  You’ll live longer, be happier, and hey, you might even sign a modeling contract at 31.  Nothing is impossible.  I’m proof. AROO!