Life’s Too Short

Bob PinoI’ve been thinking about my Dad a lot lately. It’s been 5.5 years since he passed away from cancer, but that wasn’t the first disease he/we battled with in his life. The realization came to me the other day that he was my age when he was hit with Multiple Sclerosis. As a kid, I watched my Dad go from a guy I could kick a soccer ball with, to a hospital bed for 3 months, only to come out in a wheelchair for many years to come. In that time, they also determined he had diabetes that would require injections multiple times a day indefinitely.

My Dad was never accused of being “healthy” in any form. He did drugs for years, ate too much, didn’t exercise, was angry and yelled a lot. Too many things to pass off as just “being Italian.” Even so, being a child watching him have mobility, energy, dignity stripped from him, was heartbreaking. I had to be “the man of the house”. My Mom and I had to do everything. I mean how many kids are lifting their Dad in and out of bed, or the bathtub, or the toilet? How many are loading wheelchairs into the car, check the oil in the engine and air in the tires, etc? How many go from a fairly normal income to below the poverty line because their Dad no longer works and Mom can’t because she’d had to become his nurse? I don’t say this as a sob story, it’s just my childhood story.

What smacked me in the face is that he was MY AGE when this started! Whether his (reckless) life caught up with him or whatever it was, he was hit hard. Only later in life to see good progress in his MS but then get hit with cancer multiple times, finally leading to his 59 year old death.

What’s now on my mind? How unhealthy I am. There are things in life we can’t control, but food & beverage intake, exercise, how we handle our finances, etc are well within our power to control. I don’t want my kids to live the life I did. I don’t want them to have to grow up too fast. I don’t want them to lose me too early. Outside of my wife, Amy, they are the greatest blessing in my life.

So, will this all change overnight? Of course not. Can this change if I commit to consistency for my sake and their sake? Of course it can!

Before I end this, I do have to put the silver-lining on this cloud. In the last 10 years of his life, my Dad was a different guy in many ways. Most importantly, he took his KNOWLEDGE of God, Jesus, & Church and turned it into a RELATIONSHIP with them. While his physical body was failing, his spiritual one thrived. Silver-lining indeed.

I loved my Dad, even with all his shortcomings, because he was my Dad. But, I’m proud of my Dad, because his last decade modeled a committed life to his Creator. I can’t wait to see him one day in Heaven…without pain, sickness, and disease. BUT that day is going to be a long long time from now. I will not allow myself to undermine my health and my family’s future anymore!

If you read this whole post, thanks…but also, get back to whatever you should be doing . Life’s too important (& short) to stare at your phone all day! :)

Written by Andrew Pino

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5 Life Lessons My Kids Inspired

IMG_3387Today I thought I’d take a few moments and share 5 “life lessons” I’ve learned on my fatherhood journey with my own kids. They’re in no particular order, but certainly some our bigger struggles for folks than others.

So, here they are…

Live In The Moment
Sure, you need to be mature and plan for some things but that doesn’t eliminate the value of living in the moment. Another way to say it would be, Be Present. So much of the fun in life can be lost when we are worrying about what’s next, or worse, just have our face in our phones. Look up and live your moments to the fullest. We only get to do this once.

Play, Even If You Might Not Win
This isn’t something my kids come by naturally (nor does my wife for that matter), but it’s something important to teach them. Life isn’t just about you winning, it’s about those you interact with winning too. Life isn’t a zero-sum game. Be ok with others success and celebrate it with them. They are likely to do the same with you when your “wins” come.

No Matter How Old, Don’t Whine
Whining is one of those “from birth” kind of issues. We don’t have to be taught how to do it. From the age of a toddler, we complain if things don’t go our way. Unfortunately for many of us, we don’t shake that off as we get into adulthood. Big problem. Your friends, your coworkers, and especially your family aren’t interested in your whining fits. Try to gather yourself and present your issues/challenges in a way that empowers people’s support (and advice), not turns them off to your struggles because they can’t stand listening to you.

Run With Abandon
As we get older, we tend to slow down in everything. Motivation can become a struggle. In contrast, kids do everything at full throttle. There seems to be an endless supply of energy stored up in their little bodies. Now, I’m not saying we should be foolish and run headfirst into circumstances. But, perhaps we could find a bit more freedom in releasing some of the weight we’ve allowed to be stacked up on us (both from internal and external sources) and run our race with the energy and passion we once did.

Empty Your Tank
No, this isn’t going to be about using the bathroom before you leave the house. Although, lets be honest, it’s a great rule to live by! Here’s the context for “Empty Your Tank”: One of the things that cracks me up about my kids is how they can be “so tired” and need me to carry them up the steps, but when I put them down in their room they run and dive on their bed. What I love about it is, how they use up everything in their tank. Even when they’re “so tired”, they can still see something that motivates them and give it their last bit of energy for the day. Another way to think of this, is to “finish empty.” There’s something rewarding about ending a day, a week, a year…knowing you’ve given it your all. Imagine what that could feel like at the end of your life if you’d apply this principle now. What a legacy you could leave the next generation.

So, on the days that fatherhood is kicking your butt, look back at these 5 (kid inspired) life lessons and see if you can’t find the silver-lining in your beautiful little bundles of annoyance…I mean…joy. (I kid, I kid) Seriously though, see if you can’t glean some wisdom and perspective out of this awesome responsibility called parenthood you journey in everyday.

Written by Andrew Pino

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Overcoming The Mean Parent Voice

OS02003If you are a parent, you have done it. If you have a newborn, it’s not a matter of if, but when it happens.

Your precious child will stir anger up within you and you will use the mean parent voice. I really don’t know what else to call it because it sounds different in all of us, but the overarching fact is that it flat out sounds, well…mean. Some parents are screamers and yellers. Some are sarcastic or rude. Some parents belittle and accuse or are passively mean with their tone. Some parents have great self-control most of the time, but have random moments where like volcanoes they just erupt. It may not happen often, but when it does, everything in its path gets burned.

And why on earth would we parents, who love our children so deeply, speak anything but words of affirmation and use anything but a loving tone when addressing them? There are many reasons, really. Being tired, frustrated, stressed & overwhelmed are just a few. And just maybe, you had parents that talked to you in a harsh way.

But no matter how or why you do it, it’s not good. James 1:20 says that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”. And don’t we all want our children to grow and bear righteous fruit? Think of your children as little plants. In the same way a sapling does not thrive in harsh conditions, neither do our children. It would be foolish for us to expect to see good fruit come from their lives if we are consistently using a harsh tone or speaking out of anger towards them. It would be like planting tomato seeds and praying for a harvest of green beans. We simply cannot sow anger and expect to reap a good harvest!

So, whether or not this is a habit or something that rarely happens, I’d like to present some tips on how we can overcome it.

Recognize. Just like any addiction or bad habit, you first need to recognize that you do it if you want to stop. Once you acknowledge it, ask God to strengthen you and help you overcome. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

Realize. Realize that kind words will achieve the results you are looking for far more effectively than loud, harsh or angry words ever will. Kind words are actually very powerful and don’t carry negative side effects! Proverbs 25:15 (MSG) says that “…gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.”

Respond. Respond to your children rather than carelessly reacting when something they do frustrates you. The following verse is the foundation to one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever received surrounding this topic: Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs us anger.” (ESV) When you feel angry, your initial reaction is to (insert whichever ‘mean parent voice’ applies to you), but in that moment, purpose to make a habit of lowering your voice and using a gentle tone. Responding with a soft and gentle voice when we are angry isn’t easy and requires lots of practice, strength, maturity and self-control! But the benefits are priceless and well worth the effort. You will find that responding this way calms you and your children, it lends to them listening to you better, and you can sleep at night knowing you have been a godly example to your children in this area throughout the day.

I pray you have been able to walk away with some new “tools” for your parenting toolbox! Now go out there and build your kiddos up with some kind & loving words!

Written by Shirley Clark

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Raising Grateful Kids

IMG_2995“I am NOT wearing jeans! I’m never wearing pants, EVER,” she screams as she collapses onto the floor in an absolute fit. <insert disciplinary action> Dresses only, thank you very much, for both of my girls right around the 3-4 year old mark. And while I don’t mind them wearing dresses a majority of the time, it’s not practical for the everyday…at least not our everyday. Pants and jeans were purchased for a reason and we are going to wear all of the clothes that we have with a grateful attitude, I explain for the 42nd time. She lets out a scream as I say this and collapses onto the floor again, mad as can be. <insert 2nd disciplinary action> After this scene is repeated another time (oh yes she did!), I got smarter. “Sweetheart, because you chose to continue throwing fits, being disrespectful and having an ungrateful attitude about your clothes, you have now lost your dresses, nightgowns and dress up clothes through Sunday.” <insert wailing and gnashing of teeth and a profuse amount of “I’ll never do that again.”> She, of course, did lose her “dress privileges,” but, an amazing thing happened…she stopped fighting me about the pants. It’s a small win, but I’ll take it!

If you’re struggling with entitled kids, you aren’t alone! It’s a battle we fight on a regular basis -raising grateful kids. Over the next month or so, I plan to share some of the strategies we’ve put into place in our home that will hopefully be encouraging and helpful to you; especially in the upcoming season, but today, I wanted to share a post that I read and loved over at “We Are That Family.”

She has some excellent thoughts and ideas and I find myself reading it and saying, “Yes! Exactly!” Read it, get some ideas and tell me what you think! How do you combat this with your kids or with yourself?

Written by Amy Pino

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