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:

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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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Kids Say the Most Hilarious Things

I’ve been wanting to do a post on this for the longest time. Frankly, because the things my daughter says crack me up. She is hilarious. Most of the time she doesn’t mean to be. The things that come out of her mouth are so innocent, yet they are so funny. When you have a four year old, these verbal gems are plentiful. I’ll try to think back in time and play through the Jocelyn highlight reel. So here are just a few examples of her comedic innocence.

  • When I was a manager at Chick-fil-A, I walked through our local parade as one of the cows. The problem was, no one wanted to be the girl cow so I volunteered. No one could see my face anyway right? Upon finishing the parade, my daughter runs up to me…”Daddy! You were the girl cow! You are a sissy!”
  • Riding in the car on the way home from a trip, I hear flatulence rip from the back carseat. I whip around, “Jo was that you?!” Jo looks down at her stuffed animal cat and says, “No, it was the cat. (she looks at the cat sternly) I am not happy about this!”
  • Jo walks up to me and my wife and says, “Mommy, Daddy, I want a baby brudder.” Why she said brudder and not brother i’m not sure, I think she was trying to be cute. “Well we can’t just get a baby brother sweetheart.” “Yes we can. Lets just go to Toys ‘R Us and get one.”
  • We stopped at Chick-fil-A this past weekend on the way home from our Spartan Race, she looks up at the cashier and tells her we saw a bumper sticker that said “I pooped today.” She kinda mumbled through the whole bumper sticker part, so basically the cashier heard her exclaim with much joy, “I pooped today.”
  • Getting out of the shower, I was of course shirtless. I had shorts on. She looks at me and says, “Daddy, you have fake boobies, mommy has real boobies.”
  • I get home from work the other day, the first thing that Jo tells me is “Hannah (her cousin) likes the smell of poop.” First thing! No hi daddy! Nothing!
  • A couple weeks ago, I gave Jo a huge hug and being the uplifting, nourishing Dad that I am, I ask her, “How did you get to be so cute?” “Well I took some of Riley’s (her other cousin) cutes. He’s 7, he doesn’t need them anymore.” To be fair, Riley is a cute kid.
  • Getting ready to leave the house for work the other day, Jo runs out to me, “Daddy hold on! I got to give you some cutes!” So I took the fake cutes and put them down the collar of my shirt. I do that because I put them in my heart of course. She promptly corrects me. “NO!!! That was a chewy cute! You’re supposed to eat it!”
  • “Why does your daughter have a pad sticking out of her underwear?” ‘Nuff said.
  • My daughter likes to call bras “boobies.” Where she got this from, I don’t know. We will be walking through a department store and walk by the training bras in the kids department. “Look! Little boobies!”
  • At the Spartan Race this past weekend…”Daddy, why did it take you so long to run your race?” “Well because Daddy had to run up the mountain a lot of times.” “It didn’t take me that long, i’m faster than you.”
  • I’ve recently been obsessed with the One Man Thrill Ride on Youtube. If you haven’t watched his videos and are into fitness, check him out, he’s hilarious. Keep in mind, he is a personality so everything he does is very exaggerated. One of the things he does is flex his bicep and go MMMmmmmMMMMmmmmmPOW! So I started doing it when I was working out to be silly and make Jo laugh. Now Jo does it and it’s hilarious. Just ask her to show you her muscle and she flexes up that little python and yells MMMMMMMMMPOW! So we were at a family get together the other day because my cousins were supposed to be in town. You probably heard of them, they were in town because my cousins daughter was throwing out the first pitch with her robotic hand for the Orioles. It was all over the news. Anyway, we were eating lunch and Jo was eating beside my great aunt Shirley. Shirley is like 80, she’s old ok? She can barely hear anything. You tell her something and she’s like “huh?” and leans closer to hear you say it again. Well Jo was talking to her about something, I don’t remember what it was. Of course Shirley couldn’t hear her. “Huh?” So then I hear Jo ask her, “you wanna see my muscle?” Shirley, of course, says “huh?” and leans closer. MMMMMMMPPOOOOOWWWWW!!!! Scared Shirley half to death. HaHa!!!
    I’m sure I could think of a lot more. I need to start writing these down as they happen. I’m sure a lot of you have some funny stories from your kids! Feel free to share them in the comments! I’d love to read them! AROO!
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Aiming to Please!

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Throwing this out there to all my followers. No, I’m not asking you to mind your bathroom etiquette (although that’s not a bad thing). I aim to bring you the best content that you want to read. So I ask you, what do you want to see more of? Answer the poll and I will deliver! Thanks guys!


What would you like to see more of in this blog?
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Spartan Trifecta

Tomorrow is the big day!!! The day I enter Spartan Trifecta glory!!!  The day where a culmination of determination, motivation, and inspiration transpires into a beautiful conglomeration of red, blue, and green.  In case you can’t tell, I’m excited!

For those of you that aren’t in the know, the Reebok Spartan race is the most challenging obstacle course race series there is.  They have three different distances – the sprint, the super, and the beast.  The sprint is usually a 3-5 mile course, the super is 8-10 miles, and the beast is 12-14 miles.  Upon finishing the sprint race, you get a red medal as well as a red third of a medal.  When you finish the super, you get a blue medal as well as a blue third of a medal.  Then when you finish the beast, you get a green medal with a green third of a medal.  When you complete all three distances, you can put your the thirds together and form a giant red, blue, and green trifecta medal.  The coveted trifecta medal, the holy grail of Spartan racing (other than a coin but I digress), will be mine tomorrow.

The obstacles in this race are crazy.  There aren’t any electrified wires or jumping off of 12 ft platforms.  Everything in the Spartan Race requires some level of physical fitness.  There aren’t any gimmicks, you either train for it so you can complete the obstacles OR you can fail the obstacles and do burpees.  Either way, you’re going to get a workout.  My favorite part about the Spartan Race is the racers.  A spartan does not leave another Spartan behind.  I’ve found this to be true as I have time and time again witnessed fellow racers helping each other complete obstacles.  Most of the time they have never met that person in their life before that obstacle.  That is the beauty of the Spartan Race.  It does not matter how you get there, as long as you finish.  Even if that means some help from fellow Spartans along the way, you still finished.  You pushed yourself past what you were capable of doing.  You reached your limit, then ran past it in a cloud of dust, mud, and triumph.  

If anyone is considering running a spartan race, do it.  Sign up.  If you sign up, you will put in the training.  How do I know this? Because you won’t spend over $100 to go embarrass yourself.  You won’t spend $100 to quit halfway through.  You just won’t.  Find out what you’re made of.  Then, find out what your kids are made of.  In an age of kids that would rather lounge inside and play video games, engaging your kids outside and helping them grow up to have a healthy, fit lifestyle is incredibly rewarding.  Tomorrow, I get to watch my daughter complete her second Spartan kids race, a 1/2 mile obstacle course that is a smaller version of the full course.  My daughter loves this and can’t wait to run through the mud and climb over the kid obstacles.  Watching Jo get her second Spartan medal is more rewarding to me than my trifecta.  Blasphemy right? But it’s true.  If anyone reading this is coming to wintergreen tomorrow, say hi, introduce yourself!  I’ll be the dad that’s beaming ear to ear with a trifecta medal around his neck with a cute 4 year old with two medals hanging on his arm.  AROO!