Childhood Killers

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Most parents do everything they can to protect their kids. We set up limits on how far down the street they can go, not wanting them to get too close to the mean dog or the weird old man who owns an Xbox, always gives out candy and drives a windowless van. We try our best to watch what we give them to eat. No matter how different our philosophies may be, all decent parents want to see their kids live a long and healthy life.

We shield our kids from the all too familiar childhood killers but we tend to forget the more subtle threats. These are the threats that may never bring our child’s life to an early end but could very well bring his childhood to an early end.

Here are a few.

1. Your Schedule

More specifically, your schedule for your kids. Children need time to sit in the middle of their room surrounded by more Legos than they can count. But that’s hard to do when they have a baseball game an hour away at 10 a.m. and a piano recital two hours south at 3:00 that same afternoon. And then the same thing tomorrow. Repeat the following weekend.

Our kids are growing up without a lot of the things we had to deal with when we were kids. In my case, that’s a good thing. From early on in my school career, I carried a key in my pocket. When school was out, I used that key to get into my house. And I stayed there by myself until my mom got home. I’m glad that my kids don’t have to do that.

But if we’re not careful, our kids will miss out on a blessing we had. Of course we didn’t think it was a blessing at the time. Boredom. Boredom is important for kids. It forces them to be creative, learn contentment and develop discernment. But if our schedules are overloaded these are lessons that our kids may never learn. And so they grow up and finally reach the point in their lives when every aspect of their day isn’t planned out for them and two things happen. First, they have no idea what to do with themselves during down time. Secondly, they eventually revert to the childhood they never had. This is part of the reason why you see adult men who are fascinated with My Little Pony.

Does your schedule leave room for your kid to be a kid or is your schedule killing his childhood?

2. Athleticism

The 2014 Major League Baseball season hasn’t even started yet and the Atlanta Braves are already leading the league in something – the most pitchers with serious arm injuries. Don Sutton is a Hall of Fame pitcher and a commentator for the Braves. Someone asked him what was up with all of the injuries during spring training. Are the Braves doing something wrong?

His response had more to do with parenting than pitching.

“Kids today are doing too much pitching and not enough playing catch.”

Sutton went on to say that kids today are being treated like tiny major leaguers. In a lot of cases, baseball isn’t a game that they play for fun but a job where they perform for approval. Sutton won 324 games as a pro but he grew up playing catch and working on the farm. Today’s kids are throwing change-ups before they’re potty trained and blowing their arms out a few years later. The fast track to athletic success is a definite childhood killer.

I’m sure it feels pretty good to see your three-year-old throwing nasty curve balls and striking out the side on his travel team. Maybe he’ll get a scholarship. Or even a major league contract. Let’s hope so because I hear that elbow surgery can be pretty expensive.

Are athletics a fun part of your child’s life or have they become a childhood killer?

3. Natural Ability

This can be a good thing. But without a lot of communication, determination and discipline, things can quickly go south.

Calculus may come easy for your daughter. While the rest of the kids in her fourth grade class are struggling with division, she’s busy sneaking in to the local university to anonymously answer nearly impossible math problems left on the chalk board. By all accounts, her future is bright.

Until she goes to college and finds out that there are three people in her class who are better than she is. If she was raised in an environment where her identity is grounded in her mathematical superiority, she is headed for a crisis.

My son’s soccer coach used to play professionally. One day I asked him if it was possible to spot genuine talent at an early age.

“Yes. But it’s rare.”

In so many words, he told me that superiority at the age of 8 isn’t always a good thing. Kids develop differently. When that 8-year-old turns 16 and all of the other kids on his team have had time to grow and work on their skills, there’s a good chance that he won’t be the best player anymore. And then he’ll quit. That’s what my son’s coach sees more often than a natural ability that leads to a professional career.

The issue is identity.

While encouraging your child at what she does well, are you also showing her that her ability and her identity are two different things or are you killing her childhood by teaching her that she is defined by a grade on a test?

We should want our kids to live long and healthy lives. But health involves more than just heart rate, blood count levels and athletic ability. Childhood health also involves sitting in the dirt with your younger brother beside you and nothing on the agenda. It means learning how to fail and succeed. It means knowing that who you are isn’t defined by what you do.

We all want what’s best for our kids. Sometimes the best thing parents can do for kids is also the simplest thing.

Just let them be kids.

The Price You Pay And The Reward That Awaits For Weekday Faith

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You are free to worship however or whoever you want inside of your church building.

For now.

But when you step outside into the real world, your worship must be approved by us.

That’s essentially what the government is saying in their fight against Hobby Lobby. The president and other supporters of Obamacare do not have a problem if the owners of Hobby Lobby, or any other business, attend a church that opposes abortion. For now. But what they do care about is those beliefs finding their way outside of the sanctuary and into day to day life. Which leads to President Obama’s stance on religious freedom which can be summarized as follows.

You belong to us on Monday through Saturday. God can have you on Sunday. For now.

For true Christians, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in the Hobby Lobby case, we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). Following Jesus was never meant to be confined to one day a week inside the walls of some church building. One of the main points of the New Testament book of James is that faith, if it is genuine, will be lived out. Truly saving faith impacts every aspect of a believer’s life from how he treats his wife to where he chooses to direct his money.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14 (ESV)

Take a moment to imagine what the world would look like if every Christian in the United States complied with the federal government’s command that believers restrict their faith from their Monday through Saturday lives.

There would be no love. Love wasn’t invented by the government. God created it. And if you had to sum up all of his commandments with one word, that would be it. Love (Mark 12:28-34). Love God. Love others. Should those Christian churches which demonstrate the love of Christ by caring for the homeless cease and desist? After all, giving a sandwich to a homeless man is a supreme act of Christlikeness (Matthew 25:31-46). It is religious activity.

But if we are to submit to the demands of our federal government, that homeless man will just have to wait until Sunday. Let’s hope that he can find his way inside a church building that will care for him. We wouldn’t want such Christlike kindness seeping outside of the church building now would we? Maybe the homeless man could just wait for the government to take care of him. I’m sure he’ll be fine considering the government’s solid track record during its war on poverty.

What about orphans? The government did not invent orphan care. They may have done their share to create orphans but not orphan care. Caring for orphans is a religious activity. You could even say that it is the religious activity.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 (ESV)

I’m sure that the orphans around the world would love it if the Church cut all the compassion back to one day a week. Not to worry, orphans. Child Protective Services has got your back. Help is on the way. Sometime next month. If the federal grants come through.

No government would ever tell a church to stop helping homeless people and orphans. Not directly at least. That’s because they realize that they need our help. And that’s where we see government’s great contradiction in the religious liberty debate. If a 9th grader wants to start a Bible study on his school campus, he has to do it in the woods behind the building between the hours of 3:15 and 4:15 a.m. We just can’t go mixing government and religion. Until election day. In that case, the government would love to use your church building as a polling location.

Christians should not adopt a That-Will-Show-Them attitude and stop ministering to the homeless and orphans to spite the government.

But at the same time, we must not submit to a government that tells us to render unto Caesar the things that actually belong to Christ. What that means is that when the government tells us to stop living out our faith, we must keep on going as Christ, our Higher Authority, told us to.

It may cost us our business.

It may cost us our reputation.

It may even cost us our lives.

But for those who refuse to restrict their faith into a tiny corner of their lives, the losses endured on this earth pale in comparison to the crown that awaits us.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)

A Consistent Response To The Burning Of Babies

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Remember the good old days when science fiction was, well, fiction? These days, about every week or so, news breaks that reminds us that there’s something to the old saying. Truth is stranger than fiction. Even science fiction.

The Telegraph is reporting that several hospitals in the United Kingdom have been burning the remains of miscarried and aborted fetuses. In at least two instances, hospitals incinerated babies in order to generate heat throughout the building.

I hate to sound like an old man here but there was a time when such a thing would never even be considered if it were submitted as the plot of a television show.

Now it has become a reality.

As you might expect, British officials are appalled. I don’t know those British officials so it’s hard to say if their being appalled is due to the fact that babies are being burned or that they got caught allowing babies to be burned. Maybe time will tell.

For pro-lifers like myself, the story is just another example of a culture of death that seems to know no geographic boundaries or moral limits. Last year it was Dr. Kermit Gosnell grabbing all of the headlines for his house of horrors otherwise known as a women’s health clinic. This year it’s a hospital. Like a bad horror movie, the stories keep coming our way and they keep getting worse.

But the most interesting response to this story, the one I’m curious to hear, will come from the pro-choice crowd. Surely they won’t have a problem with a mere “mass of cells” being used to heat a hospital. Where else other than an oven or a trash can, they might tell us, should we dispose of unwanted children? And in a culture where allegedly caring for the world has taken precedence over caring for the people who live in the world (or want to live in it), how is burning an unwanted child any more immoral than heating your home with resources that were taken from the earth?

They won’t admit it but the story of aborted and miscarried babies to heat hospitals creates quite the dilemma for those in favor of abortion. Most likely, their initial response to such a story will be that of disgust. It’s how we’re supposed to react when we find out that a building’s heating system is fueled by dead babies. But then they will remember their core beliefs about life and responsibility and be forced to address the inconsistency of their outrage.

Or, most likely, they’ll just ignore this story all together.

We don’t like coming to grips with the flaws and logical conclusions of our faulty views. Ignoring those flaws and logical conclusions is much easier. That’s why you shouldn’t expect to hear too much about this from your favorite mainstream news outlet. Real stories like this preach a far different narrative than the one of happiness and freedom most purveyors of abortion send our way.

A story about heating a hospital with dead babies forces supporters of abortion to ask themselves a very difficult question. Why is it that the burning of a dead child to heat a hospital is cruel, barbaric and inhumane while the burning, suffocating or strangling of a living child in order to allow the mother to enjoy the lifestyle she wants is presented as one of the more noble characteristics of a truly progressive society?

If they’re willing to look beneath the surface of their ideology, perhaps those in favor of abortion will see that there’s not much of a difference between full-blown barbarism and their brave new world of progressivism.

Any attempt to separate the two is nothing more than science fiction.

A Life That’s Good

By the time I entered high school, my biggest accomplishment was sticking a bunch of plastic forks in Mike Floyd’s yard without getting caught. Sorry, Mike.

My friends Garrett and Kenny are different. They are two young and talented musicians and I think that you’ll like them. Here’s their cover of A Life That’s Good.

One more thing. I’m not sure what the statute of limitations is on sticking forks in people’s yards in Clayton County. If it’s more than 20 years, I was just kidding about all of that and I’ve never known anyone named Mike Floyd.

The Truth About Unity

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I can’t say that I’ve ever really had a crisis of faith.

I’ve spent my whole life in church. I’ve seen the good and the bad. As a young boy, I watched men from my church lovingly pray over my mother after she was diagnosed with a disease I had never heard of. As a young man, I held her lifeless hand just moments after that same disease ended her life.

Through it all, I never questioned God’s existence or his goodness.

But there was a time in my life when I questioned his followers.

I grew up in a good church. In the two decades I spent there, I only knew two pastors. The first pastor was larger than life, like Moses. The second was much younger and much easier to relate to. Both men were incredible pastors. Both had a profound impact on my life that is still with me today. I wasn’t the only one. There were hundreds of others who benefited from these two men and the church that they led.

But something changed.

I came home from college and found things different than they were when I left. The pastor who had helped me so much was forced out. People started yelling at each other. Ministry was replaced with power grabs. Good men, women and families were leaving.

For a while, I considered calling it quits. Not the following Jesus part of my life. Just the following Jesus with other people part of my life. I was sick of the church. But graciously, God didn’t leave me to my feelings. He wouldn’t let me abandon his people.

And later on, he made me a pastor.

I don’t think that a day ever goes by without me thinking about my old church. I miss that place, at least the way I knew it when I was a kid. Whenever I see my old church friends, we always talk about the place that shaped us. We talk about how things were. We try to figure out what went wrong. Sort of like dealing with the loss of a loved one, the sharp pain of our loss has gone away but we still wish that things could be like they used to be.

Now that I’m a pastor, I think about my old church even more. Specifically, I think about the very real potential of the same thing happening at the church that I pastor. I think about the teenagers in my church hitting their 30s and wondering what happened to the place that shaped their faith. I pray a lot that that doesn’t happen.

And under God’s guidance, I take steps to make sure that it doesn’t. I try to do what Paul did.

In Philippians 4, he called the people by name who were potentially disrupting the unity of the church.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:2-3 (ESV)

This goes against typical practices in the church. We’d rather let sleeping dogs lie for three decades and then wonder why no one comes to our church anymore.

Shortly after I became a pastor, a couple of people were going to others in our church and around town and saying things about me. The things they were saying had nothing to do with my ravishing good looks or stunning vertical leaping ability. They were saying bad things.

I thought about my old church.

So I called those people who were talking bad about me.

It didn’t get ugly. Voices were not raised. I just asked two questions.

“What did I do to upset you and how can I make it right?”

They were shocked. They were in denial. And they quit coming to our church. Shortly after their departure, we began to experience a very uncommon unity in our church that is still with us today. Too many churches break apart because people would rather gamble with community than confront a critic.

It’s interesting what Paul tells Euodia and Syntyche. We’re never let in on the source of their gripe with each other. Paul never mentions it. He just says, “Agree in the Lord.”

Not, “Agree on their opinion of childhood vaccinations.”

Not, “Agree on whether or not their kids should go to a private school, public school or homeschool co-op.”

Not, “Agree on their preferred style of worship music.”

Just, “Agree in the Lord.”

A lot of churches look unified but they’re anything but. They’re just conformed. Everyone in the church educates their kids the same way, shares the same political views and likes their steak prepared the same way. What’s not to agree on?

Unity is different. Unity is a mom who isn’t really a fan of public education, a mom who sends her kid to the local public school and a mom who leads a home school group sitting on the same pew and breaking the same bread because they know that through all of their differences, they share the same Lord.

“Agree in the Lord.”

Authentic unity never comes at the expense of truth. Rather, truth is the foundation of authentic unity. There are foundations of the faith that we all must agree on. But the Bible is silent about our private school versus public school versus homeschool debate. Sometimes, it’s good for us to be silent too. Our opinions are important. And it’s good to make them known. But wisdom tells us that there are also times when it’s good to keep those opinions to ourselves.

The first person I’ve ever known who went to Africa was the pastor of my childhood church. To this day, he still has a remarkable passion for missions. And his passion spread to the rest of us who were under his leadership. Suddenly, our church stopped being inward focused and started thinking about the best ways to get the gospel to the world.

And then, in the summer of 1996, the world came to us. The summer Olympics brought people from all over the world to our south metro Atlanta town. The potential for ministry was endless. The actual ministry that took place was minimal, at best. That’s because power hungry people in our church were too busy firing pastors and pointing fingers.

In my experience, when Satan destroys a church, he doesn’t do it by possessing some kid in an Ozzy shirt and telling him to sacrifice a goat on one of the altars. He’s much too crafty for that. He just attacks the church’s unity.

He knows that when a church is busy fighting against itself, it won’t have the time, energy, passion or vision to fight against his scheme to keep the minds of unbelievers blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Unity should never be an end in itself. Instead, it should be the engine that propels the church into ministry.

Last week, there was a meeting at my church. We were discussing a new building and the finances that come along with such a project. I always get nervous at these meetings. Not because I’m afraid that I’ll say something wrong. It’s just that I think back on all of those bad meetings I saw when I was growing up. I think about the potential for disaster.

But there were no wagging fingers at this meeting. No one yelled. Nobody stood up to, “share a few concerns.”

Our meeting, where we discussed thousands and thousands of dollars, was over in five minutes.

Pastors like to talk a lot about revival. For some, it’s an event on a calendar. For others, it’s the supernatural. But I think that a revival can happen without being either of those things. A true work of the Spirit is not dependent on a church’s schedule or an evangelist’s manipulation.

The Spirit shows up and works as he pleases.

I think that he likes to show up and work in unified churches.

I think that he’s doing that in our church right now.

And I don’t want it to stop.

The Bright Side Of Being Bullied

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Tears collected in his eyes. One tear escaped, falling down the side of his face. Anyone who has ever fought to hold back tears knows that once the first one falls, the others follow closely behind. His friends told him to do something about it, to tell the teacher so that the bullying would stop. He did nothing.

The tears eventually went away.

The scars remained.

My son’s art class was using cereal boxes to construct a small city. Each box was its own building. Each child’s imagination was free to operate at will. My son’s imagination told him to use triangle shaped boxes for the doors of his building. A few of the people sitting next to him told him that his idea was silly. And then they told the rest of the class. That’s when his tears came.

I wasn’t there when this happened. My son told me about it at dinner. That’s why it’s good to turn the TV off and eat meals together at a table on a regular basis. You get to hear how everyone else in your house is doing. But more than that, you get to teach your kids lessons.

Lessons like why it’s good to get laughed at every now and then.

God didn’t make my son like everyone else. He gave him a unique personality that was perfectly crafted for unique situations that are each a part of God’s unique plan for him. The same is true of every person who has ever lived. We’re all different. And weird. Some of us are just better at hiding our weirdness than others are.

Making triangle doors is a terrible way to hide your uniqueness.

So is standing up when everyone else is bowing (Daniel 3).

And disobeying when everyone else simply falls in line (Acts 5:29).

While we ate our spaghetti, I explained to my son that anything worth doing in life will come with a few critical laughs. Sometimes it’s worse than a few laughs. I told him about the two brothers who had a silly idea that people could fly. There’s also the guy who had the idea that you could carry your entire music library in the palm of your hand. And the group of men who thought that, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

History is filled with men and women who weren’t so good at hiding their weirdness. They were laughed at. They were told that it couldn’t be done. They were called terrorists. But still, they kept working on their own little triangle doors. And then one day it worked. And not long after, their crazy dreams became a normal part of life for the rest of us.

To do anything of significance is to become a moving target. A target for ridicule. A target for mean words. But the path of acceptance is the path of least resistance. It is the road of conformity where everyone thinks the same and refuses to try what has never been done for fear of what might happen. It is a dead end street.

A few nights ago I was giving my two sons a bath. I noticed something about them. Both boys had scrapes on their knees. Scraped knees are good. They are the badges of a life well lived. They are reminders of an afternoon spent learning how to slide tackle instead of playing World of Warcraft.

When you live your life the way it’s meant to be lived, taking risks and trying new things, you will earn your share of scrapes. Some of those scrapes will show up on your knees and elbows and some will find their way to your heart.

My son got one on his heart the other day at school. All because of his triangle doors. But he’s healing. And my prayer is that the scar left behind will be a reminder of a life well lived rather than a callous that keeps him on the path of least resistance.

It’s hard to know that your child is being picked on. As parents, we want justice. Some even start national campaigns against bullying. Others take drastic steps to make sure that their kid fits in, no matter the cost. But as bad as bullying is, all of our protection against it may be harming our kids more than we think. Instead of protecting them from mouthy punks, we could just be sheltering our children from learning that it’s better to be unique than to simply conform. These are the lessons that begin on school playgrounds and in art rooms and are processed around family dinner tables.

I’m proud of my son.

Anyone can build rectangular doors.

But it takes a true visionary to build them with triangles.

And it takes a family and a dinner table to remind those little visionaries that getting laughed at is just a small price to pay for refusing to live on the dead end street of conformity.

The Grade School Economist

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There comes a point in one’s educational journey when you arrive at the realization that what you are learning, as good as it may be, isn’t the way it is in the real world. For me, that happened in my 12th grade wood shop class when I figured out that I would probably never use a table saw. I got transferred to an electronics class.

For my son, it happened this week when he brought home an economics study guide. The material on the study guide was excellent. But sadly, it isn’t being applied in today’s America.

Here are a few examples.

Study Guide: “Economics is the study of how people use resources. Natural resources are resources from God such as water, fish, and farmland.”

Today’s America: “Economics are rules that only get in the way of the government trying to give you what’s best for you. Natural resources such as water, fish, and farmland belong to the government. Never use natural resources, you selfish pig.”

Study Guide: “Producers sell goods and services.”

Today’s America: “Producers are greedy, old men who own fast food restaurants and only want to make more money so that they can golf more. They have no compassion for their hard working, completely non-greedy minimum wage employees who go on strike every two weeks because they want more money to spend on video games.”

Study Guide: “A budget shows how much you earn and spend.”

Today’s America: “A what?”

Study Guide: “Savings can be used for sudden expenses.”

Today’s America: “Credit cards are used for sudden expenses. Or, in the case of the federal government, money printing machines are used for sudden expenses. Either way, it’s free money. Savings accounts are only for those greedy fast-food restaurant owners.”

Study Guide: “People earn an income by working.”

Today’s America: “People earn an income by watching Judge Judy, having kids, developing a drug addiction, creating art that they could never sell without the aid of the government, having more kids, getting their own reality show, voting for people who promise to increase their wages for doing nothing and having kids. Anything but work. Oh, and did I mention having kids?”

Study Guide: “Prices of items are determined by the supply and demand.”

Today’s America: “Prices of items are determined by the government after they establish a monopoly by bailing out their ‘too big to fail’ corporate buddies and forcing the small, private producers out of business.”

Study Guide: “Wants are things that people would like to have.”

Today’s America: “If I want it, I have a right to it. And if I can’t afford it, someone else has to pay for my right to whatever it is that I want. Now give me my smart phone!”

Study Guide: “A factory is a place in which people use machines to make goods.”

Today’s America: “A factory is a place where people once used machines to make goods. But then it had to shut down because the owner of the factory couldn’t afford the new federally mandated insurance plans and the mandatory minimum wage increase. A factory is now something in another country where small children are used to make goods.”

I didn’t learn economics until the 9th grade. My son is learning it before he turns ten years old. I couldn’t believe it when he came home and showed me his study guide. That night, I even brought it to bed with me to read again.

I’m thinking about mailing it to the folks up in D.C.

Are Your Kids Killing You?

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Do you ever feel like you’re going to have a stroke if your kids don’t quit fighting with each other? You keep correcting them. And you do it in a loving way. You measure out discipline that is just and beneficial but it doesn’t seem to be working. They still fight. In a way, you sort of hope that the nervous twitch in your eye gets worse so that you can show them what they did to you. Maybe then they will learn.

Does it ever seem like you are holding a press conference? One question after another. Each kid on his own quest for more information. And you are the search engine. You want your son to know about the inner workings of stuffed crust pizza. You really do. You’re glad that he is inquisitive. But why does he have to ask you now, in traffic? And why do your other kids have to ask you their own questions at the same time? Google only has one box for questions. Apparently, you have 600.

Is your schedule a mess? Are you and your spouse forced to constantly make adjustments in order to make it to work on time or just to get in a quick workout? Do you ever wonder about all of the time and money you could be saving if you didn’t have to drive your kids to school and practices? How much extra work could you have gotten done yesterday if you didn’t have to take your oldest son to the doctor and drink pretend tea with your daughter?

Are your kids stressing you out? Does it feel like they’re taking years off of your life?

Congratulations. That probably means that you’re doing your job well.

One of the great mistakes parents make is assuming that the job of training children to be responsible adults will be easy. It’s as if we think that the goal of parenting is a drama free 18-years, a college scholarship, a nice wedding, a good job and plenty of grandkids that visit often but never for too long?

The job of a parent is never easy. Unless of course, we decide to contract our job out to others.

I used to live in a town with a 24-hour daycare center. 24-hours! Now that’s easy parenting.

That’s the danger of our assumption. When our job gets tough, we tend to withdraw. Sure, we may say that it’s because we have to work in order to provide for our family but at the core, that work can be nothing more than an escape from our harder job. The job of parenting. So long kids. Hello 24-hour daycare center.

But there’s another danger. If my kid is constantly asking questions, fighting with her sister or drawing on the wall, it must be because she has some sort of condition. To be fair, there are real conditions that impact a child’s behavior. But there are also make believe conditions that serve no other purpose than making doctors and drug companies rich and your job of parenting a little less difficult. And hey, isn’t it so much easier to parent an over-medicated zombie than an actual child?

Parenting is fun. And rewarding. But it can also be hard. If you’re doing your job well, it will be hard. There will be days that you miss a workout or show up late for work with your hair all messed up and vomit on your sleeve. There will be times when you will have to sacrifice the ever popular “Me Time” from your schedule.

Your eye will twitch.

Your chest may even hurt.

But it will be worth it. It will be worth it when you stand next to your little girl to place her hand in the hand of her future husband and tell the minister, “Her mother and I.” And you will say that with no regrets.

When your daughter is out of the house, you will know that you gave it your all when she was living with you. You skipped meetings so that you could drink imaginary tea. You answered ridiculous questions about stuffed crust pizza. You traded in your “Me Time” routine for her bedtime routine.

And it cost you.

Maybe even a few years of your life.

But that’s what love does. It puts aside personal gain for the good of another.

What’s the point of living a long and comfortable life if it’s not spent doing that?

Look For Us In Lavonia

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My wife and I went on a date. I decided to take her to an auction. She married up.

I couldn’t wait to bid on something. There aren’t many better ways to impress your wife than by outbidding some other fellow at an auction.

Some other fellow: “$120.00.”

Me: “$120.50.”

Fast-talking auctioneer: “Sold! To the well-dressed man with the clearly impressed wife.”

Before we sat down we were given a fan. Actually it just looked like a fan. It was a big piece of paper with a number on it stapled to one of those sticks you use to mix paint. I couldn’t wait to put it into action.

The first item up for bid was a book.

The auctioneer got things off to a fast start.

“Who’ll give $300 for this book?”

A book?! $300? Not me.

I didn’t touch my auction fan. Plenty of other people raised theirs. Several copies of that book went for $300 a piece.

That’s when I knew that this wasn’t my kind of auction. It was nothing like the last auction I went to.

The last auction I went to was in Lavonia, Georgia in a building where they fix tractors during the week and host auctions and/or professional wrestling on the weekends. It was the kind of auction where people bid on paintings of Dale Earnhardt hugging Jesus. My friend Richie and I were wearing camouflage. We were the best dressed folks there.

I laughed at the people who were there. But it was the sort of laughter you have when your brother falls up the stairs. The way you laugh at your own kind.

The auction I went to with my wife was different. This time I felt like I was the one being laughed at.

We walked away empty handed. So much for impressing my wife by outbidding some other fellow. That’s kind of hard to do when I’m thinking about spending $8 on a rug for the bathroom with a picture of Tupac and Elvis on it and the other fellow just laid down 4.2 million for a trip to Paris to eat snails with some prince. Or maybe it was with Prince. Whatever.

On our way home we stopped at Ingles. That’s the place where people in the south stop on their way home from my kind of auctions. Well, there or the Waffle House. We were buying cookies for us and snacks for our kids soccer game the next morning. Later that night, after the kids were in bed, my wife and I ate cookies and watched a movie.

That’s when I remembered that everything I could ever want was sitting right next to me. And she doesn’t need a trip to Paris to eat dinner with Prince to impress her. But man, it would still be nice to have that bathroom rug with Tupac and Elvis on it.

This weekend, look for us in Lavonia, Georgia.