Are you his father?

In 33 days, I’ll be 40.

Last week, visiting the place where my 39 year old cousin lives, I was asked, “Are you his father?” [Click on that link to see my Facebook update and the resulting comments.]

Really? He’s just a few months younger than I am!?

*sigh*

Perhaps it was that comment that finally spurred me on to this nostalgic “turning 40” blog post. 4 whole decades on planet Earth. Honestly, overall, I’m really looking forward to the 40’s.

The 20’s were great

I traveled alot internationally (living in Jerusalem; extended visits to Greece and India; and a missions trip to Mexico). I moved at least ten times. And it was largely filled with the newly married emotional mix of the amazing possibilities for our future and the startling reality shocks of life. Trying to figure out employment and budgets and parenting and wanting to discover what I wanted to do with the rest of my life while honoring my wife and my role as a new dad.

The 30’s were great too

Wonderful in many ways. Our family grew to five. I completed my Masters and become a Certified Franklin Covey Coach. I even got to fulfill a life long dream of planting a church and pastoring it for almost 4 years.

Thanks to encouragement, and a kick in the pants from my wife, I started brewing my own beer. My first book was published. I did my first radio and TV interviews (and loved them!). I even started teaching a college course in internet marketing.

And in what seems nicely settling, I think we only moved 4 or 5 times. (And what was not “nicely settling,” my already slow metabolism seemed to go in reverse. *sigh*)

Is this it?

But so much of my 30’s was filled with my desk job, haunted by the nagging question, “Is this it? Is this what the rest of my life will look like?”

I felt a constant pressure to “settle for” what I was doing. I found this particularly pulling–and depressing–in my day job in Central Maine. “Settling for” did make sense. I had an great wife and three cool kids to think about. I should just grow up, give up on the dreams I’d written in my teens, and accept that life isn’t about dreams. After all, I had a great job and a wonderful family. Who was I to want more?

“Who are you to want more?” and “Just accept this as God’s best and settle for what you’ve got” haunted me during my work days.

Ok. Re-reading the stuff that happened to me in my 30’s makes the “settle for” question seem laughable. Some amazing things happened to me. Hey, I even was honored by being chosen one of Maine’s first “40 under 40” a few months ago!

But to me, “settling for” amounts to do something that felt less than living my life’s purpose. I want to use my gifts to God’s glory and to their fullest extent, providing not just a comfortable life but one that would let my wife and kids each excel at their life callings while actively helping expand the Kingdom of God.

The 40’s will be awesome

I think I’m really looking forward to the 40’s largely because I have an amazing wife and because I serve an incredible God. My wife has been really supportive in some end-of-the-30s career choices that have opened up the world of speaking and training for me. And I’m really excited to see her re-discovering her voice. We’re a great team and will get to explore that even more in the next decade. We’ve even started doing a fun “He said. She said.” blog thing together!

In the last year, I got to speak all over the US and in New Zealand, Bermuda, and Mexico. I’ve got a couple more books ready to come out and another fundraising training DVD. My existing writing is currently being translated into Polish and I have requests for it to be translated into Russian and Spanish too.

As I approach 40, I’m far more confident in who I am and what I do well. And I’m really comfortable in what I don’t do well. (I focus on strengths but I firmly believe God has endowed us with limits to force us to rely on other people.)

Are you his father?

So as I am less then 3 dozen days away from 40, and despite having been perceived as the father of a 39 year old, I am looking forward to what lies ahead!

Thanks for the Christmas gift…whatever it is…

My sister-in-law is a crafty person. In alot of ways.

She knitted me a really cool looking thing. But didn’t tell me what it’s for.

Here’s a slide show of my family’s attempts at guessing what it could be.

Interestingly, there was nothing like it on her Etsy store (although there are really cool project bags there!).

What do you think this is?

Fenway with my dad & son

My brother-in-law, Paul Bruce, introduced me to Microsoft’s Photosynth. It’s a cool tool that will synthesize your images, putting them together and, if possible, making a 3-D composite.

Well, I didn’t have the zoom to make too much of a 3-D composite, but I dumped the 138 photos I took from my phone while at Fenway last night into PhotoSynth and got this:

It’s pretty fun! (First hit the “Click to view synth” button. Then hit the “play” button for the easiest way to see the pix.)

P.S. The Red Sox beat the Orioles 7-2. Big Papi even hit a home run in the first inning!

14 Years by the numbers – an anniversary reflection

My wife of 14 years
14 years ago, at about this time, I was getting ready to walk down the aisle with the woman who was to be my wife. (Yes, we both walked down the aisle.)

14 years by the numbers:

  • 5110 days
  • 7,358,400 minutes
  • 441,504,000 seconds
  • 1 trip to India (the other was in the few brief months before we were married!)
  • 12 moves
  • 3 babies
  • 3 states
  • 3 employers (and 1 pyscho I worked for when I was self-employed)
  • 1 church plant
  • 5,000 individuals in the Waterville area shown God’s love in practical ways

What is harder to quantify is the ups and the downs, the curves God’s thrown on our path, the growth that comes from hardship and the joys that come from growth.

But any way you count it, I’m grateful for these 14 years and am looking forward to the next 114!

Out of the mouth of babes

This morning, I told job Caleb to stop talking. His sister dropped her breakfast and what he was saying things that would get her worked up.

He looked at me and asked me, “Why do you tell me to stop talking so much?”

Good question.

I reminded him of the gasoline and water analogy our pastor told us. We approach every the fire of every conflict with a bucket in each hand: one full of gasoline, one full of water. It’s our choice which we one we pour on the fire.

I pointed out why I thought he was adding gasoline in this situation.

Frustrated, he said, “You seem to only comment on gasoline. Why don’t you comment on my water ones?”

He went on, “Dad, if you don’t see the water ones, you shouldn’t mention any of them at all.”

He’s right. 9 years old and he’s right. And I told him so.

Isn’t this a great leadership lesson? If we only point out the deficiencies, we frustrate those we lead.

While it’s great to try to prevent fires ourselves, it’s even more important to notice when those who report to us–or when those who look up to us–try to put them out too.