Last night I was invited by a gentlemen in our church to go to our local salvation army dinner.  The goal of the evening were to celebrate the wonderful things they have done in the past year, as well as recruit "bell ringers" for the upcoming Christmas season. Through all the celebrations and handing out of awards, I was wonderful to see what God has used incredible people (many who do it voluntarily) to do in West Chester. During dinner I was able to sit next to a woman who had been a bell ringer the prior year. As we began to dialogue I heard her story. A little over a year ago her 18 year old son took his life. Tears began to well up in her eyes and throughout the evening she would continually take brief moments to gather herself. I tried my best to encourage her, to let her know of loss I have had and how even though we never believe it at the time, it  DOES get easier. Tears turn to smiles, loss turns to recognizing the blessing that we were blessed to have the time we did, and life in general moves on. 
      I was in love with her story for one particular aspect. After her son took his life she began to go through his bible. She bought around 50 of the exact same bible and highlighted ALL the same scriptures her son had highlighted in his bible. Her goal was to find some of his friends, or anyone who has gone through loss and grief and give them to them. Strong is the heart of a mother. Stronger then grief.
The theme of the night was Salvation Army's general theme "Doing the most good". Nothing could have been more demonstrated to me that night then a mother who loved her child, and desired to do the "most good' out of a horrible situation. 
I was reading Pete Wilson's blog today and he spoke of a story where someone texted him this powerful scripture. It sums up where our hope, courage and faith comes from.

Lamentations 3:21-24The Message (MSG)
It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God19-21 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember--
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

     You haven't seen more scandalous drama at a chicken coop since Gus was peddling the blue stuff at Los Pollos Hermanos (only breaking bad fans will get that reference). So Chick-fil-A picked a fight! But with who? Only logical foe is free speech, right? The past 72 hours have been exhausting (keep in mind, I am NOT super-political. I usually stay out of political rantings). But for the past 3 days I've been more annoyed at the radicals who hate, disappointed by the leaders of the church who remained silent (cause they normally love talking), and just plain tired of hearing from the "RELEVANT" christian voice. Because what do they really stand for anyway? I have read thoughts and articles that have made me want to puke (probably because what I was reading was regurgitated trash anyway. 1 article by Matthew Paul Turner said "5 ways the church failed"  in the ChIck-Fil-A. (YAWN) I'm sure he's a nice enough guy with a great heart, but this whole "Jesus is love and would be fine with us the way we are" is really played out.
      What I know is this. It's America, we are allowed our freedom. Speech is granted to ALL, and Christians are included. We are Christians, and indeed we are called to love. Love all, no matter who they are (judge not). 
I also know this. I drove my 3 kids to a Chick-fil-A in Jersey yesterday to teach them these things and more.

I wanted to teach my kids a lesson. When we ended up (in Jersey) I began to tell them what a great country we have. That people can freely speaktheir minds, live their lives, and have their faith. I taught them that the standard for their lives should always be the Bible first, and they should never apologize for that. EVER. 
I taught them that Jesus told us to love, and not just love those who agree with us, or believe what we believe. But true strings attached. I told them that all people should be treated with dignity and respect. I taught them they should stand strong behind truth when asked and never water it down due to criticism, pressure, or persecution.

I taught them all this over a chicken sandwich....or 2...
I love when I can spend a whole day with my family. I also love that special one on one time with my kids. Today was that day. Me and Josiah (my 2 yr old son) we shopping all day for mommy. I mean ALL DAY. One thing that never get's in the way of a "all day-er" with a child o' mine is, well anything. I have to remind myself constantly to put away the phone, it's Daddy time.  So we stopped at a very "manly" restaurant (o.k. B.K. is tough guy food). I saw something really disturbing. First, my son already flirts. He got the eye of this cute little 2 year old who couldn't keep her eyes of my boy (already like his daddy). Problem was, her daddy was eyeing his phone too long to notice. Here's what I mean. (cropped out faces as best as possible. This wasn't about THIS dad, This is about US dads.).
                                          (dad on phone)
I get it. Sometimes things pop up. Sometimes they are even urgent. Here's my issue. 45 minutes later...check this out.
                       (dad still on the phone, hasn't barely looked up)
I'm sure this guy's a fine enough daddy. He seemed very caring as they were leaving.  He was very caring, and I'd bet the bank this isn't a "norm" for him. Personally I'm thankful to him, seeing this opened my eyes. Josiah and his little girl were chatting to each other as they were leaving, we were able to share a smile and I simply said "Goes fast. Gotta enjoy every minute while we can". He nodded, smiled, scoped up his beautiful little bundle and was gone. I had to see this, cause I hated to see this. I had to capture this, because I hated to see this. Dad's, make every moment a priority. The work will be there when your done, but the moment(s) will have passed. Here's some helpful tips to make sure you "capture" every moment.

* Discipline yourself with social media. (when it's daddy time, don't let anything get in the way).

* Always keep in mind, you only get these moments once.

* Give your kid permission to call you out 
(the other day Bella was asking me to watch Karate Kid. I was in the middle of texting someone. As I tried to "multi-task" my Bella came over, gently took the phone out of my hand, and gently said "Enough with the phone Daddy".  All I said was "Thank you". Let your kids have the freedom to tell you when they want your attention.

* Remember. Nothing is more important to you then THAT moment right there. Audibly say that to your child. Even when they are young. Start it early so they know how much that time means to YOU.

Dad's. We only get one shot. Let's do better then "the best we can".