Doing The Opposite

Teenagers are hard to figure out sometimes.  They sometimes act like they are an adult and want to be treated like an adult.  They make reasonable requests and are able to defend their position for what they want like a defense attorney.  During these times they act so responsibly and you as a parent are sucked into thinking that my adolescent is growing up.

On the other hand, and sometimes within the next sentence, they are acting like a child not wanting to take any responsibility and not wanting to have any accountability slapped upon them.  During this time, they are irresponsible and don’t do any of the chores that they are asked to do around the house unless you yell or tell them 50 times–I am exaggerating at this point, but it seems like 50 times at the time.

Teenagers vacillate from one extreme to the other and causes a parent of the teenager to feel like they are going crazy–the parent that is.  These swings in being responsible and switching to being irresponsible can and does wear the parent out.  We long for either the childhood stages where the child is compliant and obedient, or we wish that they would grow up and get out of the house.

What I have just described for you is a normal teenager, and yet there are some exceptions to normality.  Some teenagers hold on to being a child and balk at growing up.  They want to be treated like a child and have you do everything for them.  These teenagers are in danger of becoming dependent on you and staying around for years and decades.

On the other side of the coin, the other extreme teenager rebels from the parent or parents and seems to do the opposite of what the parents want them to do.  If they want the teenager to do well in school, the teenager will do the exact opposite and not study for a test, or not turn in homework they did under the parent’s supervision.

I am reminded of a story in Genesis.  It’s a story of Issac who had two sons, Esau the oldest son and Jacob, the son who stole the birthright and the blessing from his older brother.  The story unfolds when Esau finds out that the father wanted the younger son to go to a far away place to find a spouse for Jacob.  “Not Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram.  Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, (a Canaanite woman) Genesis 28:6-9

Esau didn’t get what he wanted, so he found out what his father and mother really wanted and did exactly the opposite.  It may be that if you are a parent and find that your child or teenager is doing something that is opposite values that are important, it may be that they are doing those things to get back at you for something that is unresolved between the two of you.

On this journey, actions that we see in children are often a reflection of the connection or disconnection we have with them.  Looking at the relationship in this way can get to the source of patterns of behavior in our next legacy and turn their direction around.

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Excruitiating Pain

Have you ever experienced pain that draws all of your faculties to the source of the pain?  We are in the football playoffs and we will see someone get hit on the field that will cause the game to stop as they take care of the player who is in serious pain.  But I am not talking about that kind of pain.  Have you had someone who was in an automobile accident and had cuts and lacerations over their body, or more serious injuries?  They are in serious pain, but I am not talking about that kind of pain.

I am talking about the kind of pain that is in the remotest part of your body that doctors say is useless.  It is a part of the body that could be done away with and you would never know it was missing.  It’s a part of the body that hardly anyone sees throughout their lifetime, but is visible if you take the time to look at it.  This last statement rules out any parts of the body that is internal.

So what part of the body am I talking about?  Let me first tell you what happened and then you will know.  I was carrying out the garbage, and rolling out the garbage can a few days ago to the street so that the garbage truck could dump it in the waste management fill.  I got it to the street, but it was giving me a hard time of being in the right place with the front of the can facing the street.  I lifted up the back of the can and tried to move it to the right just a little and then it happened.  The garbage can hit the top of my boot and landed on my left little toe.

I instantly felt the pain going through my whole body.  Even my alligator belly boots couldn’t protect the weight of the can as it crashed down on my toe.  I couldn’t walk.  I couldn’t place any weight on my foot.  But it was just a little toe.  And a broken one at that.  A toe that doesn’t seem to have any purpose in life on my foot, but when it was sat upon, it cried out and all the other members of my body reacted accordingly.

Most of us have had the misfortune of walking around in the dark and crash our foot into a seemingly invisible obstacle such as a door jamb or an immovable table leg and cry out in pain.  This experience reminds me of the person who lived in the mountains and was responsible for cleaning the lake of debris so that the townspeople in the valley could have clear drinking water.  When the budget in the town needed to be cut because of a lack of funds, it was decided that the person cleaning the lake didn’t need to be kept and so he was let go of his responsibilities (they saw him as a little toe).  No one ever saw what he was doing.  His job became disposable.

A few weeks into the budget cuts, the water began to smell and turn brown.  People complained about the water and realized that the person who seemed invisible was actually the one responsible for the clean water.  We never know that our toe is there until something happens to it and causes pain.

On this journey, will come in contact with people in our community that seem like little toes and are of no use to our society until they are no longer here.  Today is a great opportunity to focus on the little people in our society who need a word of encouragement especially if they are hurting.

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Life Long Learner

One of my favorite jobs is to shuttle for my wife’s business, Airpark Auto Service, an auto repair facility. When people bring in their cars, she has a free shuttle service to take people back to their homes or work, or to pick them up when their cars are finished. I work a couple of days a week for a few hours each day before I go to my counseling practice.

Last week I was shuttling Frank back to the facility because his car was done. I would say that Frank was in his 80’s, but that wasn’t what interested me. I asked Frank what he was doing in his retirement years and he said he was retired. When asking further about his comment, he began to tell me about a car he was restoring in the bottom picture.


It was a Honda NSX built-in the 1990’s. He had never restored a car before so he went on U-tube to get a step-by-step direction in how do take out dents in the car. It took him some time, but all the dents were fixed and it looked as good as new. Next came the painting which he also looked on U-tube for directions and he painted his car after buying the necessary paint equipment for the job.

What blew my mind next was what he was doing at present with his car. The interior leathers needed to be replaced, so he found an old leather sewing machine that he bought and went on U-tube to find out how to sew leather together for the next phase of fixing his NSX Honda. Some of the plastic parts he needed couldn’t be found, so he went on U-tube again and found a process to mold new plastic parts from the old ones. It was too complicated and I don’t remember the process he was using to pre-fabricate the parts. Needless to say Frank is a life long learner.

This may be the only time I ever run into Frank in my lifetime. I had never met him before and may never see him again. But the brief encounter had a huge impact in my thought process of my future. On this journey, I want to be known as a life long learner, which means that I need to continue to learn from the challenges I face and figure out what I need to do to turn obstacles into opportunities.

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After 25 Years, A New Phase

It was 25 years ago that I started into this phase of life. You may ask, “What phase are you talking about?” It is that phase that all parents seem to dread but have to go through it as their children grow and develop. It is a phase of spreading a child’s wings and developing their own mind and perspective of life. It is a phase of challenging authority as they gain independence. It is a time when they get a piece of laminated paper and begin moving four wheels with hundreds of horses pulling the wheels without their parents. It is a phase when they choose to leave the nest and begin planting roots of their own in their own apartment or house or condo. You guessed it. The teenage years.

For me it has been a 25 year process of taking each of my children below, beginning with Deborah and continuing with Victoria. The last to go this phase was my youngest child, Carter. On January 5, 2017, he officially moved out of this phase and I have become an empty nester to a teenager.


As I look back on this quarter of a century experience, I would never trade that time for any amount of money. Were their times of difficulty and challenges? Absolutely. Were their times when I questioned my ability to deal with the teenage years? Most certainly. Did I find myself wishing that certain actions of my children could be different? No question. But as I look back on the time frame, I am so blessed by the three in the picture and am honored to be their father.

In the midst of the lows and highs of parenting teenagers, I have come to appreciate those lows and highs because it was in those times that I grew the most as a father and friend. The three of them have given me such joy over the years. I am truly blessed. I am a father to them, but more importantly, I see them as close friends and look forward to seeing how the Lord will use them in the future. I look forward to the legacy they will leave here on this earth.

I in some respects will miss the teenage years as the dependence upon me is gone. But a new phase is before me and I want to grab on to it as we progress together with new challenges ahead.

On this journey, we are constantly seeing the old drop off in our life with new opportunities that present themselves to us in the present. Living in the present and looking forward to the future keeps us moving and growing.

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When Least Expected

On January 2, a government holiday where all the offices were closed, I went in for one client and felt like I was all alone in the office, except for the couple who came in.  I was waiting for a ride from my wife to come and pick me up when I was surprised by an elderly man who popped his head into my opened door office.

He began by asking, “Do you remember me a year ago when I was moving into the complex?”  I vaguely remember the incident as his face looked familiar.  He reintroduced himself as Robert who mentored younger business individuals.  We got re-acquainted with pleasantries and then Robert said something that put me back on my heels.

He continued by saying, “You had a big impact in my life when you gave me your philosophy of life.  You said that you sought to live your life one day at a time and treasure each moment, not trying to live your life in the future.”  I vaguely remember saying something to that effect to him, and I do seek to live my life-like that on a daily basis.  What shocked me is that a conversation that took place almost a year ago and lasted for no more than 5 minutes could change the course of his life and cause him to live differently this past year was a shocker.

How many are changed by a word or two given at a very vulnerable time.  It could be a word of encouragement by a parent, a teacher, or a coach that totally turns us around in terms of our direction either in a positive direction or a negative one.  I am reminded of the story that Aaron Rogers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, told of a teacher at the University of California who discouraged him from pursuing a career in professional football because he wouldn’t make it.  Not only did he make it, but when the players are introducing the universities that they came from, Aaron Rogers introduces his community college and not the alma mater of Cal.

We never know the impact we can have on people who drop into our lives if only we are ready to speak to them as the most important people in our lives at that moment.  As I think about it.  They are.  I’m reminded of individuals who knew President John F. Kennedy.  When they were in his presence, it was as if they were the most important people on the face of the earth.  President Kennedy had the ability to make whoever was in his presence feel very valuable.

On this journey, we will have numerous opportunities to speak into the lives of many individuals over the course of this next year.  Your words can be the nourishment someone needs to move them to reaching their maximum potential.



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Happy New Year

We start another year with hope that the bad things in our lives will change and that the good things that have happened to us will continue to follow us.  Perspective can change the way we look at things.  Profound statement isn’t it.  Let me tell you what I am thinking.

Over the course of years, I have sought to exercise and stay fit for the most part.  I was a physical education major in undergraduate studies at the University of Northern Colorado. I was planning on being one of the top high school coaches in football, basketball and baseball.  Not track.  I hated to run and my knees have been telling me that for years.  Soon after graduation, the course of my life changed and I stopped pursuing a career in coaching sports, but continued coaching relationships which I do today–life coach.

All that to say that I have sought to stay in shape over the decades since my college experience, but the last few months have been a change for me.  I quit exercising.  I quit biking.  I quit walking.  I quit going to the gym to exercise.  I quit.  Every morning I would wake up and not feel motivated to exercise and I wouldn’t.  As I looked on the day-upon-day of not exercising, my perspective of myself began to change.  I would see others exercising, and it caused me to look negatively upon myself in this area of my life.  I was losing hope that I would ever move in a positive direction.  Until last night.

I had a dream and a thought of taking one step at a time in this area.  In fact I woke up and the first thought on my mind was to get up.  Put on my sweats.  Put on my sweat shirt–the old light blue faded one with a faded surfing wave on the front with cut off tattered sleeves.  Put on my black Nike shoes.  Get my bluetooth earphones and phone.  Put my keys in my pocket.  And step by step move toward the garage door.  I did it.  I was out the door to exercise for the first time in months.

My exercise routine was slow and methodical.  I worked on the elliptical for a bit and lifted some weights, concluding with some time in the sauna before leaving the workout facility.  But I did it.  My focus was on today and what I did–today.  If I look at my past, I could very easily get down and discouraged.  But my perspective was riveted on what I did this morning, and I feel good.  It is one step in the process of changing my perspective of me.

This is a new year.  It’s not a new year resolution, but a mindset that I am working on changing one step at a time.  The journey is a life lived out one step at a time.  What step do you want to intentionally change today.  It begins with that one step.

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What/Who Are You Following?

Nadine and I decided to confront the after Christmas crowds and busyness of the parking lots and go to the largest shopping malls for a couple of things that went on sale.  The number of people in the mall was staggering.  It was important to walk on the right side of the mall halls going and coming.  By the way, I didn’t realize that there is a right side to walk and a wrong side.  I was informed that walking on the left side is the wrong side.  Good information to have the next time I go to the mall.

We met our kids at the food court by the white pole.  Do you realize how many white poles there are in the food court?  At least 25 my last count.  We did finally find the white pole they were beside and shared some food with them before we split up and went with Carter to spend the cards he had gotten for Christmas.  What a deal–you buy one piece of clothing and get the second one free.  It was a gold mine for him.

After going into a few of her favorite stores, Nadine wanted to check out one last store that had 60% off the sale items so we had to go there and check out the fabulous deals.  The kids were in the store so we met them there after finding out where they were via the cell phone.  What a great person finder the cell phone turned out to be.  Victoria gave us the scoop on what a fantastic deal she got on a shirt, so we had to look for a deal for Nadine and sure enough we found one.  Unfortunately there were about 20-25 people in line so she got in line and I found a seat to wait for her to check out.

What happened next caused me to pause.  As she was waiting, a man (?) was standing in front of her so she got on her cell phone and was texting her daughter.  Periodically she would look up to see if the person in front of her was moving, but he (?) wasn’t so she continued to text.  After several minutes, a person in back of her asked if she was in line and she responded  that she was.  They then informed her that the line had moved and that she was in fact standing behind a mannequin man.  She was embarrassed and moved past the mannequin.  She wasn’t the only one as I caught a picture a few minutes later of a man who was standing behind the mannequin waiting before he realized it wasn’t moving.


I wonder how many other people had the same response during the day?  I wonder how many times we seem to be following something or someone who we think will give us guidance and lead us to our goal, only to find that what ever we were pursuing didn’t get us to our intended end.  As someone once said, “We climb the ladder of success only to find that when we reach the top, we find that our ladder was leaning on the wrong building.”

On this journey, a new year is coming up and we have the time to pause before the new year arrives to evaluate where our ladder is leaning, or who we are standing behind.  Periodic evaluation can save us hours, days, months, and even years of potentially pursuing the wrong  person or goal.  Reflection and evaluation is essential  to getting on the right road.

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