When your about to give up and give in to despair… DON’T!

We all know the struggle is real as a parent. The struggle to keep hope alive. To choose to ‘believe’ that God is up there and watching, engaged in our lives and actively seeking our good.

But there are days when that belief is strained to the breaking point.

There are dozens and dozens of days that I look back on and wonder how I made it through. How did I not just chuck it all and bail? How in the world did I stick it out and not give up?

Simple answer… GOD’S GRACE.

It’s always a temptation to give up – throw our proverbial hands in the air and just surrender to despair and doubt and walk away. For parents you can do everything right and still seem like you’ve failed.

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

For parents who are raising teens, this can be a daily or weekly event. Those promises of God you scribbled down on sticky notes and taped to your desk or fridge, don’t forget them. The word of God highlighted in your bible until the pages tear… it’s real.  The faith we’ve so carefully nursed along through missed mortgage payments, cancer,  and marital strife, it’s true and tested no matter how we feel.

Yet…it can seem so fragile.

But hang on a sec. Our lives and circumstances are usually crazy. The forces that push us around can seem overwhelming and dark, but that’s only if we forget whose we are. Our strength was never based on how well we performed, never built on a foundation of self reliance and personal will power. If we’re a Christ-follower, a believer in the savior and Messiah – Jesus, then we’re supposed to rely on HIS strength.

That means we’re NOT the key ingredient in our lives or our faith. HE IS. Our eternal destinies and that of our kids are NOT dependent on us. It is the irresistible pull of God to align us and our families into perfect sync with His Kingdom. In His time, and in His way. 

So… unclench your fists. Take deep – slow – breaths… God is still GOD. HE is still at the helm of our lives. His will is going to occur and His plans are going to succeed. We are not victims lost in the floods of life, we are protected and purposed by Him.

Go get your promises out and lay them before God in prayer, remind Him of your need for hope, for encouragement, for peace. Make it a regular habit to ask Him to show up in your despair, to believe He’s going to miraculously realign your life and circumstances according to His will.  As you ask for help remember to choose to praise Him for the answer. To look forward in anticipation for His perfect solution… even before you see it.

It is the ‘goodness’ of Gods character that we are being trained to trust in.  The outcome of our lives is not depending on our merit or hard work, just HIS GOODNESS.

For our mental perspective to shift all we have to do is recall to mind and more importantly our hearts, the faithfulness of God to meet ALL our needs. He was God over the impossible in the past and He will be God over the impossible today.

 

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Remember we are but dust, and when our faith is only an ember, it is HIS strength that will carry the day.  St. Paul said it this way… “His strength is made perfect in our weakness”.

So parents – what could be more reassuring than that?

Peace out!

Pastor B.

Suggested link: Here is a great interview with one of my spiritual fathers, Pastor Duane Sheriff. He and his wife Sue have a fantastic perspective on parenting when we feel like a failure. Available at Brilliantly Brave Parenting on Soundcloud, iTunes, and YouTube.

Wooley

Fathers are a fact… good dads are rare. I had both. This is my tribute post. To the one who paved the way for me to become the man  I am today. Rest in peace dad… you did good. Proud to be your son.

Dads story begins on May 20th, 1938…. and ended March 1st, 2017

Remembering “Wooley”

My dad was a remarkable man- if you knew him you at least sensed there was more to his story than you could see…and… there really was.

Dad was known for his slowly articulated oral adventures 🙂  – he could talk at great length about the nature of the human body and the spiritual soul – or the rigors of climbing Longs peak in Colorado… he drove every kind of car or truck and came home with a different vehicle 2 or 3 times some years. He was motorcycle man who owned 2 BMW’s – a couple of Honda Gold Wings and full dress Harley Davidson before he retired from riding.

He loved sports and the outdoors, he was a man of great faith and great integrity – He kept his word. Period.

His work ethic was unmatched – he worked dawn to dusk and then came home & cleaned the house or garage or a car…  🙂

His greatest loves beyond his Faith &  “Mimi” (who he adored for over 60 years ) were;

His two boys –

Strong black Coffee

Chiropractic –

Cars & motorcycles

the Blue Ridge Parkway –

Working outside – having a project to start

Mountains and the men who explored them

His neighbors and his few but loyal life long friendships

A few quotes about my dad 

The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” Solomon

  • He was born with the bark on” (Sackett proverb 🙂

– “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Theodore Hesburgh

You gotta grab a root and growl son!” – Denny Fredrick (Clyde – Sackett  / June)

Louis L’Amour quote describes him well…

This-this was what made life: a moment of quiet, the water falling in the fountain, the girl’s voice. . . a moment of captured beauty. Those who are truly wise will never permit such moments to escape.”

 “We were together. I forget the rest”. – Walt Whitman

He lived at least four lives that I know of…

1 – His early years, “Ferdinand” (the bull – a nickname given by his favorite uncle – Vernon Mathias) was a humble, honest, hometown boy – he became a 4 sport letterman and athletic star in Peru IN / a jock with a beautiful young woman he discovered in the Peru high school marching band that he started dating early in HS. Dad was the clean cut – “happy days” all-American kid – responsible and handsome – he worked to pay his way – no favors and no handouts – he chose a career in Chiropractic after struggling with shin splints in his sports endeavors – married and fearless he went to St Louis to find his fortune – Mimi in tow.

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Mimi – Kevin and Dr. G L Mathias – Circa 1965 – Tuscola IL

2 – Dr G L Mathias of Tuscola, IL  was an ambitious – successful businessman, family man and leader. Developing and mentoring doctors and/or  disciples wherever he could. A man of deep faith he dedicated his life to serving God and opened his home and heart to Gods people generously for over two decades. Raising his two boys along side Europeans, African missionaries and an Indian holy man. He brought in countless exiles to live with us – single men and women, even down on their luck families who were broken and battered by life – needing a home and safe place to recover. We always had 2 or 3 or 5 people living in our home – some for years at a time.

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Retired “Wooley” and his family in VA

3 – Retired Doc Mathias of Fancy Gap, VA. was a whole “nuther smoke” bringing his widowed father in to live with them  on the mountain, as he and Mimi retired to their beloved Blue Ridge Parkway. There he was a ‘more’ laid back – grandfather of six with extra time to golf and enjoy the views. But he couldn’t stop working entirely – helping with a local winery / managing a golf course and of course remodeling his home with infinite number of “projects”. He managed to continue treating dozens of patients for “free” in his basement and had the closest cut grass and bushes in the county. He made numerous medical mission trips to impoverished orphanages in Romania, his beloved Mimi by his side. Dad was always moving- always doing – retirement wasn’t a reality for him. This season of dad’s life is when we simply began to refer to him as ‘Wooley’ – christened so by his first grandson… David ‘wooley buggar’ Mathias.

4 – Wooley and Mimi decided to relocate after some health scares and they showed up in Spring Hill TN about 11 years ago. Leaving their idyllic mountain home in VA, they moved to Tennessee to live with me and my family of five 🙂 Driven closer by health concerns and a renewed desire to be involved with Christian ministry & a faith community – “woooley” and “Mimi” became a “thing” much bigger than they knew. Despite his age and fading health – Woolley was constantly working around the garage or the neighbors, a friend to every family in our Benevento cul-de-sac –

wooley-and-his-buddies

Wooley and 2 of his adopted grand-kids in Spring Hill

If you did’t know him… Dad loved everyone – bought gifts for the city sanitation guys and local landscape migrant workers every year – he noticed the guys in the background and cared for the sick and hurting for free until the last year or two. He was a father to “many” and a mentor to more! His home was open to any who needed to talk or pray – and he greeted every visitor at church with a warm smile and hug. He was a gentle soul with love to share for so many. Just look around you… we gathered here are but a small fraction of the lives he and Mimi touched – each in a very unique and special way.

So, depending on when you met my dad – how you knew him… you could have entirely different ideas of who he was… how he lived, what he stood for. It is true that he finished his life a better man – a kinder & gentler man than when he began. He understood pain and suffering – sorrow and sadness more than most. He knew of humility and loss, recognizing the world was broken – and he was ready to go to a place where life was as it should be…  yet he chose to believe the best about people and gave to anyone who had a need. He treasured loyalty and faithfulness above all else.

—————

In his last months he fought through the cloud of dementia and mental confusion – always searching for a way to escape – his faithful “Gracie Anne” by his side – He never forgot the faces of his family and friends – and loved with a “fierce” and “stubborn” love that is all but extinct today.

family-2015

The Wooley Mathias Family – 2015 

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Through it all, my dad was loyal & strong. He could be quite stubborn – intensely focused – thick headed (which means always right)- could be mite controlling and often was overly demanding of himself and others – but he was always gracious and gentle when given time to reflect – dad had a genuine heart and wanted to serve in the simple and unseen ways. Setting up chairs, sweeping the floors… holding the door.

He loved to eat out with Mimi on their frequent date nights – loved to see his grand-kids and have a glass of wine with the neighbors – he loved wood fires at night – enjoyed listening to Rich Mullins & James Taylor. He owned every James Bond, loved John Wayne, and adored the days and ways of Andy Griffith. He loved reading his bible, praying for other people – and listening to the DAB with father Brian. He made it to Israel, Italy, Switzerland, France, Romania, Canada and Alaska – journeys all of the heart and then took our entire family on an epic Road-trip to Canada in 2010 to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. His love of travel and beauty was passed on to every member of our family… from the oldest to the youngest. That legacy lives on here at Road Trip parenting.

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Wooley and Mimi Family Road Trip! Circa 2010

Dad was the genuine deal… the authentic article, nothing fake or artificial about him. He lived with a different code. He took commitment seriously. He was chivalrous and bold, courageous and firm at a time when men were supposed to be quiet and reserved – he cherished our mom as the queen of our home and his life. He set the marriage bar very high… showing us boys how to faithfully love and endure through the good and the bad.

mimi-and-wooley-dancing-2012

Wooley with his “Mimi”

He loved his native Indiana and always thought of himself as a Hoosier – a simple man of plain tastes he preferred jeans jackets and work boots to a coat and tie. He longed for the crisp mountain air of Estes Park to the warm breezes off of Mt Pisgah’s heights – dad was a lover of American history & the natural beauty of Gods exquisite creation.

His favorite passages of scripture were in the Psalms – 23 and 139. He read and re-read the scriptures – meditating on their words and meanings – praying for hours some days for the trials of others.

He asked for his grave marker to simply say… “he walked with God” , not a mere boast… it was the truth and any who knew Him would same it’s so.

Dad was a character – but he was also a man of character – and that more than any other quality inspires me to live my life with renewed courage and deep integrity every day. His life left a deep impact on thousands and my brother and I were blessed to know and be fathered by him. Dad was old school – and wonderfully unique.

dads-last-days-feb-17

February 2017 – A moment of repose captured by his grand-daughter Colleen

My Dads life is over… his course has been run. I believe he was greeted by Christ himself… with a thunderous whisper… “well done

I know I have a lot of shoe yet to fill…and by God’s grace and my father’s authentic example, I shall endeavor to do just that.

Pastor B.

Coming out, I’m gift wrapping challenged…

I’m coming out.

Opening myself up to the whole world, vulnerable and exposed. I can’t wrap a Christmas present to save my life. I use twice as much tape and “not-quite-enough” paper for every gift I attempt to wrap and create un-necessary tension with my wife who watches helplessly as I mangle yet another gift.

Last weekend I was happily wrapping away, repeatedly mushing up the clean and crisp edges of our brightly colored Noel glitter paper. I could feel her tightening the lines around her lips as the beautiful designs and elegant paper got smeared across the corner edges of my sasquatch-like folding job…she didn’t say anything, BUT I could tell it was making her crazy to watch me butcher the task at hand! DIY Wrapping Paper Clutch Bag 1

I feel like a six-year-old who is flunking out of my first grade arts and crafts final. I can’t cut the line straight, (scissors always jump irregularly across the paper after about 18 inches and creates an un-intentional jag where a nice clean line is required) and then when I need to mentally measure the distances needed to actually completely cover the item, I either over compensate by about a foot and a half or miss by less than a tenth of an inch. Never really getting the space and size calculation correct for the amount of paper needed to cover the box or item in question.I can sense the scorn, then frustration and finally “pity” that my wife and kids show for my under-developed skills. As if a grown man has to have help to tie his shoelaces or brush his own teeth. Fundamental abilities that they take for granted as being “assumed” of all adults.

Sadly…this is NOT true for me.

I wonder if I am the only father around who scrunches up the paper when it’s time to tape it. I wonder if I am the only guy who uses six pieces of tape when two would do just fine. ( I always am afraid the wrapping is so bad it could literally fall off the box if I don’t) I wonder if other dad’s can wrap paper and watch TV and listen to Christmas music without taking fifteen minutes per present? I can’t.

I’ve tried every Christmas season to improve. I’ve watched my wife and mother in law as they quickly and expertly tie bows from scratch, and add ribbons and personal name tags with custom designs and lace and color coordinated paper. All flawlessly clean and crisp, edges unwrinkled and just the right amount of paper and tape to leave the gift in an exquisite state of display. Ready for Christmas day without a single flaw on its pristine multi-colored outfit.

It doesn’t seem to help. I try to do what they do, but my big beefy fingers get in the way and my ability to work tiny things like scissors and tape dispensers while holding my finger on a line of paper for the tape to be applied are distinctly lacking.

The good news is this. I still try. Every year I get in there and load up my CD player or iPod and listen to the baritone voices of Nat and Bing and Johnny as they croon to me about perfectly white Christmas days and Holly and Joy and Families at night by a crackling fire. It’s Awesome.

I stink at wrapping gifts, so true…but I love to do it.

It’s my special time of the year to let my family know how much I do love them. Love them enough to take the time to wrap up my gifts personally. That the items inside are just symbols of the reality I carry around in my heart each day of the year. Love. Gratitude and Joy at being their dad, uncle and husband.

But it’s always cool to find a store that wraps for you… 🙂

Merry Christmas from RTP!

b

The middle age bulge… a confession of sorts

SO I’m having lunch with a group of long time Christian radio industry dudes, at a questionably healthy mexican joint named “Nacho’s” in Franklin TN. These men will need to remain anonymous as it’s not within the general policy of the universal “man-code” to nark on your bro’s to the women…. but here goes.

Note the migration of the buttocks to the belly button

All of us are well over thirty… how much so will remain a mystery. All of us have varying degrees of manly decline, some of us are softer than others, rounder than others and generally less than we may have once been in the gym. Suffice it to say, we’re middle-age dad’s… and the discussion migrated to the summer heat and  unusual level of humidity this year. I made the innocent comment that I recently found myself avoiding the beach and visits to the pool these days.. in a serious effort to keep my shirt on in public at all costs. This was met with a hail of manly solidarity from my fellow chip dipping salsa bro’s.

A discussion ensued in which each of us shared various stories of our own issues with finding modified bathing attire and our newly discovered modesty in middle age. It seems that we all had noticed a certain movement of our muscles from the chest to our guts and our butts to our belly buttons … something we’re not terribly proud of, but nonetheless true. Now given the weather had turned to HOT, our uni-sex pull over fleece one piece – hide all our fat-  draping attire wasn’t going to work much longer and the need for tighter fitting polo’s and tee’s were suddenly a concern.

The hip- slick tuck in the front of your shirt behind your large belt buckle look… no longer had much fashion appeal to us and it seemed the darkest – deepest despair was always right before we had to make a belly bulge reveal, usually occurring around swimming or public water recreation… the dull dread of a chance meeting with someone you knew well from church or the neighborhood. The shame of them seeing you hanging out by the side of the pool in three foot deep area that lamely covered your white stick legs while your superbly inflated life raft of a belly bobbed at the water line for all to see and admire… SHUDDER

We discussed the variety of ways to cover one’s growing mid-riff when one of the brothers, shared he had worn a tee-shirt to bed for six months after he first got married (NO WAY !!!) , to save his wife the grief of seeing his over-developed table muscle. Which after he said it, the supportive man club… roundly applauded this poor man for his transparency and honesty, then snickering to ourselves.. we all quietly decided it was time to move this conversation along. What’s my point?

We change, we age, we decline… but at a pace that we can largely determine.

Marriage, fatherhood and middle age are potent mixes of all kinds of pressure for men. We find ourselves often caught with the mind of a 20-year-old and the knees of a 50-year-old and the aches and pains and Advil bottle in our car to prove it. What happened to us? When did our studly vigor start to go south…and why? 

Middle Age Hipster

The answer is not just a medical one, low hormones, reduced metabolism, increased dietary intake and reduced activity all make up the answers. Throw in heredity and environment, self-esteem and job stability and you’ve got a hundred reasons in a heartbeat. The reality is this… we take great pains to try to stay the same, when in reality we’re not going to succeed. We’re going to change, the body is going to fail us eventually and we are going to have to adapt our actions accordingly.

1- We can stoically accept it and continue to passively eat, drink and sleep our way to an early grave, with lots of extra long t-shirts and elastic waist band pants, or..

2- We can step back and look closely at the life we have and modify it for the better. Choose to eat less, walk more and go to the pool with our kids, if for no other reason than to share that day with them without too much shame and distraction. No we are not going to be 20 something again, but we can be a healthy 40…something 🙂

Guys, don’t forget to take care of yourselves, life is precious. It’s fleeting and it’s ours for the living… but passivity and avoidance are choices too. Skip the second helping… sweet potatoes are your friend, fried is a “four” letter word for your wardrobe and diabetes’ is a real thing.  Our wives, our kids and our communities of faith are counting on us to love ourselves as much as we try to love them… they need us to be here when it really counts. Let’s do our best to push back from the table and walk with our ladies around the block at night, you might just find you feel a whole lot better and your bride might just think you look a heck of lot more… uhmm- “Nice” 🙂

No great spiritual insight here, just a lighthearted reminder to myself and my Nacho eating compadre’s to work a bit harder this summer to return to our shirtless days and parent on with a bit less under the hood !

Peace out, RTP.

brad.

Radical Investing for Kids…

Some of us fathers get sweaty and nauseated just thinking about how we are EVER going to afford for our kids college, a daughter’s wedding or our own “some day” retirement. With $4.00 a gallon gas, and noticeable inflation at Kroger, its common sense for families to be cutting back on spending, saving and doing.  My family is no exception. But I want to encourage parents to consider an unconventional “Radical Investment” for their families.

How about a vacation, How about a Road Trip ?

Yes, a serious and amazing vacation with your family that would cost some money and time and energy for sure… but the payoff could be epic. It’s a radical investment in their well-being and yours. I know you have little if any extra money right now… but consider this; HOW MUCH LONGER WILL YOUR KIDS BE WITH YOU ?

Sobering thought… is it four more years ? (for clarification, that means they would be finishing up eighth grade this spring) Is it five or two or ten ? No matter what the answer is… it’s not long enough. How can the time you have left as family be wisely invested ?

If your like me, you can fritter it away doing nightly duties of dishes, trash, homework, emails and whatever isn’t too vile on prime time television. Occasionally a family movie night or dinner out at Logan’s or an Asian bistro ? We talk about school, friends, church, local events or current fave’s on their iPod’s. But in the end it’s all very superficial and very safe. It’s Normal. Which in our society can be a huge accomplishment for sure.

But I want more.

I want EPIC. I want to “suck the marrow out of life” (Quote from the movie “Dead Poet’s Society”) and as Jesus says… “Life more abundant and free”. I want to live with my kids, not survive. I want to teach them to reach for the beauty that is ours for the sharing. I want to introduce them to our American History and endless western plains, to show them the indescribable beauty of sunrise at 10,000 feet and snow in July in the Rockies. I want to explore the undiscovered and forgotten places of our land and share the thrill of finding a diner that makes perfect pancakes.

I want to make a RADICAL INVESTMENT in my kids before they are surrounded by life, overwhelmed by the obligations of adulthood and the saturation of their hearts with worry and fear and frustration. I want to show them the “relief valve” that God showed me.

I want to model for them the amazing power of creation to restore our hearts and renew our minds. I want to show them how to sacrifice their time for their some-day kids and families. To emphasize the importance of being together in a sweaty mini-van and of sharing the last can of Red Bull of the need for each other and of non-electrical communication with other human beings. I want to prove to them they are more important to me than my work, my ministry or my own sleep. I want to show them the incredible gift of Life that God has for us and what it feels like to be ALIVE.

So if you feel like I do… prayerfully consider what you can do this summer to make some “Radical Investments” in your kids. Maybe its as simple as a un-expected trip to the beach, or a weekend in the mountains. Maybe it’s as complex as driving West for ten days or East for five with no reservations and no plans. Just  grab some clean undies, junk food and flip-flops, a map and some carefully saved cash. Just go… and go looking for real adventure and new life and shared discovery. GO. Time is a wasting.

Whatever it is… DO IT.

I promise, your family will never forget it and your kids will cherish the time YOU TAKE to INVEST IN THEM.

Blessings… as you like me… seek to help your families “keep it on the road and in-between the lines of life“. Oh and I have to confess… I LOVE ROADTRIPPING… 🙂

Brad.