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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The Solution for Those That Hate Tying Their Shoes

If you’re anything like me, you hate tying your shoes.  I just hate it.  It’s an inconvenience and it’s 30 seconds I can’t afford to lose.  I would much rather slip a pair of shoes on and fly out the door.  There are many advantages to this.  Your sleep is maximized because you can lay in bed an extra 30 seconds every day.  Your risk of injury from tripping over untied laces goes down.  Plus your coolness factor goes up because…well…you own Snaplaces.

My Under Armour slip-ons are one of the most comfortable shoes I own.  Not just because of the 4D foam, but because I don’t have to worry about laces being too tight or too lose, I can just slide them on and they adjust to my foot.  So I looked at alternatives to make my shoes more convenient.  I looked at Hickies, I looked at Lock Laces, but they didn’t seem to work for me.  Then I came across Snaplaces.  

   
The elasticity of the product intrigued me.  I didn’t have this awkward bow that jutted out or have an awkward number or laces to string through.  They just worked.  My friends at Snaplaces were kind enough to send me a few sets of Snaplaces to try out.  I was impressed.  The set up is super easy.  You feed one set of laces through two sets of holes, the other set through the other two sets of holes, cut to the tightness you want, fasten to the clips, voila!  

  
Hook the laces on the other side and you have just made yourself a pair of slip-on running shoes with your preferred tightness and fit.

  
 
Snaplaces are 100% American made.  I always support American products.  They have hundreds, literally hundreds of color combinations to choose from.  When I spoke with Joseph, he asked me to send him a picture of my shoes.  He then asked me if I wanted the shoes to pop or if I wanted a more subtle look.  Of course I opted for the “pop.”  So I got these sweet neon yellow laces for my Brooks.  I used one set and put them on my wife’s shoes so she could test them.  She raves about them.  I showed my Snaplaces to my parents and my mom bought two pairs.  The convenience of your running shoes being slip-on and a perfect fit every time is awesome.  

The only complaint I have about these is that two of my clips broke.  I’m not even sure how I did it.  I just looked down and it wasn’t clipped anymore.  I contacted Snaplaces and they promptly replaced them and asked that I send back the broken ones for testing.  They said a few of the colors became brittle in the process of making them.  Plus 1,000 points for customer service!  So I got a replacement of the pair that broke plus a red pair.  The beauty of customization is that you can mix and match when you buy.  You can vary the lace color or the snap color for a truly unique look for your shoes.  I put two different color snaps on my Brooks to set them off a little. 

  
I wouldn’t hesitate to wear these on any training runs or any regular running races. I’m not sure I would trust them during a Spartan Race or other obstacle race.  I’d be afraid I would kick a wall and break a snap or lose them in the mud due to the slight elasticity.  However, the thought of throwing on a pair of shoes that have a little give after a race sounds great as my feet swell and throb from soreness and overuse.  So if you hate tying your shoes, love the convenience of slip-ons, or you just want a shoe that is tight but has a little give, I think you’ll really like what Snaplaces has to offer.  Give them a shot!!!  Check them out at http://snaplaces.com!
*A big thank you to Snaplaces for outfitting my shoes 

**All opinions in this post are 100% my own

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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Dear Meathead 

Dear Meathead,

    I remember the first time I met your muscles.  I mean, that is what you wanted me to meet right?  Draped underneath your stringer tank and your unlaced basketball shoes that you’ve never played basketball in.  I heard you first, with your forceful grunting in front of the mirror at my local gym.  As you stood there curling the equivalent of two small children in each hand, you smirked at me and my 30lb dumbbells.   You waited impatiently as I used the squat rack to bang out some quick bench sets.  The huge gallon of pink pre-workout you sat down beside me said, “dude, hurry up.”  As I started to re-rack my weights, you were the guy who said “no, it’s cool, leave them.”  Then you added two more plates to each side.  I watch you as you study your muscles in the mirror between sets.  You make sure that no angle is forgotten.  I tried to tell you that you missed checking out a backwards biceps pose during your last exercise.  You must not have heard me over your Beats headphones.  It’s ok, I understand.  I’ve always meant to ask you why you never work your legs.  It must be some advanced weightlifting technique I don’t know about.  About an hour after I left the other day, I realized I forgot my wallet.  When I came back to grab it, you were still there.  Yet you didn’t notice me or say hi.  

The funny thing is, I’m there for the same reason as you.  I want to be fit.  I want to be a better me than I was yesterday.  I’m not annoyed by you.  I actually envy your work ethic.  I envy your resolve.  You have a ton of knowledge about so many things having to do with fitness that I could only dream of knowing about.  It’s because of what you have achieved with your own body that I work so hard to build mine.  It is through your inspiration that I seek to inspire others.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you.  It is because of the motivation you’ve given me that I push my body to its limit to see just what I’m capable of.  I have become a better human.  And for that, I thank you. 

Sincerely,

Spartan Daddy

  
 

Why Do Men Work Out? The REAL Answer

I tried explaining this to my wife and she just couldn’t understand.  Maybe you have to be a guy to understand this.  I want to explore the answer to the question, “why do men work out?”  I’m not interested in a surface-y type of answer.  Deep, deep down, why do men work out?  Here are my thoughts.

Way back in the days of the creation of man, the inner workings of the brain, the conglomeration of synapses to what makes men tick began to take shape.  Back in those days, it was man vs man. Man vs. beast.  Man vs everything.  Men were the providers, the top dog, and the protectors.  I think that some of these attributes carry over today.  What man doesn’t want to be alpha?  Maybe you aren’t alpha of the world, but maybe you are alpha of your own little group.  Guys want to be the best at something, They just do.  Deal with it.  If you ask a guy, “why do you work out?”  You’ll probably get a multitude of answers.  “I DO IT FOR ME!”  Yes, that’s true, but why? Really, why? There is the ever so popular, “because I want to look good naked”.  There’s “to pick up chicks bro (high fives any guy within five feet).”  Then there’s the “I’m in training for ___________.”  There’s also “ummm crossfit….because crossfit.”  I can say that because I love crossfit.  But the answer to the perplexing question goes much deeper than this. The answer lies in how we compare ourselves to others.

Let’s talk a walk down hypothetical lane.  Me and my buddy walk into a gas station in a strange town.  We walk in, I make my way over to check if they stock Cheerwine, they don’t, so I grab the Muscle Milk in chocolate because it tastes amazing and I need my protein fix.  I’m parched, so I make my way up to the line.  As I walk up, I wait for my buddy to meet up with me because that’s the polite thing to do.  As I’m standing there, I notice a dude looking at me with a stank eye.  I glance over my shoulder because I’m sure he wasn’t looking at me, I didn’t even do anything.  But there is no one behind me.  So two thoughts enter my mind.  The first thought is “can I take this guy?”  Now before everyone jumps on me with the whole “why does everything have to be so violent with guys?!”  Hear me out.  There are a million scenarios on why this guy could be looking at me.  There are 999,998 in which he doesn’t want to fight me.  I’m not concerned about those. I don’t get hurt in those.  I’m concerned about the scenario in which he wants to fight me.  So why do I work out?  I need to make sure that if that scenario ever happens, I can take this guy.  I size this guy up in my mind in a matter of 0.2 seconds.  In the female world, this equates to the 0.2 seconds leading up to “is my butt smaller than hers?”  I can then come to the conclusion that a) I can take this guy, or b) I can’t take this guy.  Now I’m sure you noticed by now that I said 999,998 but I only mentioned one scenario.  The other scenario is that he doesn’t want to fight me, he wants to fight my friend.  Why? I don’t know.  Maybe my buddy looked at him funny in the parking lot.  It’s irrelevant.  If this scenario is true, the thought process is a little different.  You still have to consider if you can take this guy.  You don’t want to be the guy who runs away like a little girl while his buddy gets randomly attacked in a shady gas station.  But let’s say he wants to attack BOTH of you….with four of his friends.  Now it is not a matter of “can I take them?”  It is now a matter of “can I outrun my buddy?”  This is quite possibly life and death.  Of course this scenario only happens if your friend decides to run too.  If he doesn’t run and wants to fight, well, looks like I’m getting hurt today. Let me summarize – “can i take him?” “can I outrun you?”

Maybe this is all satirical.  Maybe this is scientific fact based on years of study. I am a psychology major after all.  Maybe we will never know.  One thing is for sure, you’ll laugh the next time you see two dudes look at each other at a gas station. AROO!

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P.S. This is my best “Fight Club” looking pic