Archives For Kaleb


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I have been thinking about my boys a lot lately. As a father I feel the pressure of leading my family spiritually, financially, and emotionally and many times the weight is almost too much to bear. Yet, God has given me these sons for a reason and it is incumbent upon me to raise them to the best of my God-given ability. I wanted to give you some things I believe sons need to experience with their fathers. They come in no particular order…

  • A son needs to hear from his dad those three words: “I love you” often.
  • Sons need to experience camping with their dads.
  • A son needs to hear from his dad, “You are a man!”
  • Sons need to hear stories about their father’s broken past.
  • A son needs to hear his dad cry.
  • Sons need to hear his father pray.
  • A son needs to watch his father show affection to his mother.
  • Sons need to sit down with their fathers and work on a budget.
  • A son needs to hear his father rejoice when the son does something amazing!
  • Sons need genuine criticism that points not to perfection but to become a better person.
  • A son needs to do mission work alongside his father.
  • Sons need to exercise with their dads if at all possible. ‘
  • A son needs to work alongside his dad.
  • Sons need to hear about what happens when we die and why we die.
  • A son needs to attend church with his father.
  • Sons need to be there when their fathers defend them when they are wrongfully accused.
  • A son needs to hear his father ask for his forgiveness.
  • Sons need to be able to cry in their father’s arms…
  • A son needs to be able to hug and even kiss his dad, no matter what the age is.
  • Sons need to be taught the basic skills of life like driving, working, and planting a garden.
  • A son needs to learn how to treat a woman from his father.
  • Sons need to watch their fathers wrestle in conflict and come out victorious.
  • A son needs to see his dad on his knees, when the father is not victorious.
  • Sons need to know that everything is going to be all right.
  • A son needs to hear Scripture read often and applied in daily life.
  • Sons need to hear sex talks (not just one) from their dads
  • A son needs their dad to interpret life in this world
  • Most of all, a son needs to look at a father and think, “I love that man. How great is the one who created him.”

What would you add?


On August 16, 2010 I wrote a post entitled, “Letting Go and Letting Love,” where I talked about my experience dropping Kaleb off at school for the first time. Today I dropped Amelia and Madelyn off for their first day of school and I must say that I was not ready for the wave of emotions that I experienced. Yesterday it seemed like I was praying over Amelia while she was in the NICU at Vanderbilt Children’s and now she is in Kindergarten of all things. Yesterday it seemed like I was up all night because Maddie could not go to sleep unless her mother held her and now she is in Pre-Kindergarten of all things. I don’t think life will get easier in the sense that letting my kids go will be a rudimentary task. One does not need to go far to hear stories that would make risk management professionals cringe and yet that is something every parent is charged to do. We are asked to let go.

I do not want to be that Helicopter parent who hovers around my kids assessing everything they can and cannot do. The hardest part of parenting (in my limited experience) is letting my flesh and blood experience the pain and brokenness that comes with life. How will my daughters ever understand trust if they do not experience the loss of it? How will my daughters ever understand true friendships if they do not experience the pain of losing friends?  Moments like today further the reality that God is omniscient (knows all things), omnipotent (all-powerful) and omni-present (he is everywhere). Meaning, God is sovereign (Psalm 139).

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36).

I had a God-moment in the truck this morning. Before we got in the truck I was miserable. I was crying in the shower, crying eat my breakfast and crying taking pictures. As I was driving in the truck I turned the radio on and the song, “Here I am to Worship,” started playing. I lost it. You see, ever since Maddie could sing (or even talk) that has been her favorite song. When we would have devotionals she used to request the song this way in her fast high-pitched voice: “Daddy, I wanna sing Here my mam to warship.” As the song unfolded I knew that this moment was a time given to me by God to worship and praise him. So I did.

I sang. I cried. I praised God. All three kids said the Mackenzie motto: “Have fun, be respectful, change the world and glorify God.”

I kissed them good-bye.

I let go…

and I let God.

Father protect my girls and my son from all sorts of evil. Be with other mothers and fathers who are kissing their children good-bye. We commit our children to you once again and understand our helplessness without you. I praise you God for my wife Heather who has, for the most part, carried the torch in preparing our children for this day. I do not deserve such a precious gift and I thank you for her. God I am also thankful for Krisle and my children’s three capable teachers: Shelby Rushing, Sarah Fowler and Jill Reeves. You have revealed to me your workmanship in how skillful, caring and endearing they are to my kids and so many others. Father protect them as they teach and give them the endurance and strength they need to lead these kids in wisdom and in knowledge. Be with Samuel as he is now without siblings for a season. Which is probably the way he likes it God!  Help him to grow in wisdom and stature and in your favor. Most of all Father, I give you praise for being the ruler of all and the controller of all. You reign. Glory to the highest, you reign. Let all creation testify…you reign. Thank you for worship this morning and thank you for leading my family when I cannot. I love you God. Amen. 


I love being a husband and I love being a dad. I struggle at times with both but I would not trade it for a second because I love it!!! I also love it when people ask how many kids I have because their response is the same no matter how many times I get asked. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Person:  So do you have kids?

Me:  I sure do.

Person: How many?

Me: Four…Kaleb…

Person (Interrupting): YOU HAVE FOUR KIDS?!?!?!?

Me: Ummm…yeah.

Person: How close are they?

Me: Kaleb is 6, Amelia is 5, Madelyn is almost 4 and Samuel is 2.

Person (Laughing in disbelief): Sheesh, you’re crazy.

Depending on who they are they follow up with an elbow in my arm saying, “You know what causes that right?” Har…har!

People are shocked when they hear that my wife and I have four kids and at first I thought it to be comical but now I am starting to wonder if we are on an island alone somewhere in the Pacific. The trend now is to wait until you are older to get married and even more to have kids. If you do have kids then the maximum is two, maybe three if it is an accident. My wife and I certainly avoided the trend as we were married at 22 and 21 respectively and we had Samuel, our youngest, by the time we were 29 and 28 which means our youngest will graduate high-school when we are 47 and 46. Sounds good to me!

I don’t get it though as to why people wait. From a financial perspective I can understand why one would not have four kids (it is tough) but other than that why wait? Even if Heather and I waited three years to start having kids we still would not be in a better financial situation than when we started.

I love being a dad of four kids who are four and a half years apart. I love how close they are and how much they love playing with each other. I love how they grow up with each other and learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. I love how I get to have four vastly different prayers each night before they go to bed. I love how we take up a whole pew at church and I love the reaction when people see our four blonde-haired blue-eyed kids walk in a line like a bunch of ducks.

I love it. I am not saying I am better than people who are not married or who only have one or two kids (I do think I am but I am biased so that does not mean it is true) only that I am in a position to do what I can with who God has placed in my life. I have heard it said that God only places the difficult situations to people who can bear it and while that is not always the case, I think it is true for Heather and I as we are an excellent team and we can handle it.

So next time you are amazed at the fact that I have four kids just know that I am amazed that people wouldn’t want these four kids. I am amazed that people would wait for something as magnificent as being a father. I am amazed that people would wait for something as spectacular as marriage.  Why wait? We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

God thank you for my wife and for my four beautiful children. 

Blinded by the Light

November 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

Kaleb, my oldest son, was playing soccer early Saturday morning and for some reason he just was not going after the ball and playing as hard as I thought he should (of course ;)).  So I walked over to ask him if everything was OK and he told me something that made me think.  He said, “Everything’s fine dad I just can’t see.”  I chuckled a little because the nature of sports means you have to be able to see but at this time of the year, on this particular morning, it was difficult.  It was eight o’clock in the morning and there was a fair bit of dew still on the grass.  Kaleb’s team played facing the sun so it was very difficult to see where he was going and the reflection of the dew made it particularly distracting.

It’s hard spiritually went you can’t see isn’t it?  It’s hard especially when the other team seems to be able to see perfectly fine yet you are distracted and even blinded by difficult circumstances.  David penned these words in difficult times:

“Save me, God!  I am about to drown.  I am sinking deep in the mud, and my feet are slipping.  I am about to be swept under by a mighty flood.  I am worn out from crying, and my throat is dry. I have waited for you till my eyes are blurred” (Psalm 69:1-3; Contemporary English Version).

So how does one become able to focus in such difficult circumstances.  For Kaleb, all he needed were some sunglasses.  The sunglasses wouldn’t have taken away the fact that the bright light still existed but it would have made it a little more tolerable.  A relationship with God does not mitigate our pain but it does make us long for something better.  David closes the Psalm with hope much like you and I close our lives…with hope:

30 I will praise God in a song
and will honor him by giving thanks.
31 That will please the Lord more than offering him cattle,
more than sacrificing a bull with horns and hoofs.
32 Poor people will see this and be glad.
Be encouraged, you who worship God.
33 The Lord listens to those in need
and does not look down on captives.  (69:30-33; New Century Version).


You’re growing so quickly that I can’t keep pace,

sometimes I wish God would slow down this race,

stopping the world from spinning and ceasing all movement in space.

But all I can do is jump-on to this boat called life,

watching the world throw difficulties at you and strife,

sad times, hard times and pain that cuts you with a knife.

Be a man son.  Put on your armored vest.

Always try hard, smile, glorify God and do your very best.

The joy of this world depends on you son, so please help if you can.

I have one wish for you Kaleb, and that’s to be a man!

 

We were so proud when we brought you home for the first time,

we held you tightly, letting you go seemed a crime,

but it was always a joy as our first child was prime.

Now that you can talk, read a little and help out we expect too much out of you,

forgetting you are just a boy wanting to live life in full view,

but to tell you the truth, all of our expectations you continue to outdo.

Be a man son.  Put on your armored vest.

Always try hard, smile, glorify God and do your very best.

The joy of this world depends on you son, so please help if you can.

I have one wish for you Kaleb, and that’s to be a man!

 

So I want you to know, as God is my witness from above,

that to you your mother and I do love,

and will always be there no matter how hard you push and shove.

I am proud of you my son today is your day,

God has given me six years from which I wish to convey,

that no matter what happens to me, you or your mom…our love for you will never decay.

Be a man son.  Put on your armored vest.

Always try hard, smile, glorify God and do your very best.

The joy of this world depends on you son, so please help if you can.

I have one wish for you Kaleb, and that’s to be a man!


Dear Spouses and Families,

It is with an emotional heart that I write this post for now I am speaking not only to the families of youth ministers abroad but I am also speaking to my own.  I want to start off by saying a big “thank you” for your sacrifice.  I know there are times when you must be at wit’s end because we have not been at home to help with the dishes, laundry and giving the kids their bath.  I know there are times in the summer when all you get is a kiss on the cheek each morning and you don’t see our face for another week.  I know there are times when we bring our emotional baggage from the ministry home (and we swore we wouldn’t do that) and our first target is our wives and our children.  I know our fuses are short and the demands placed on us by so many different individuals keeps us on edge.  I know that this is not what you signed up for when you agreed to marry us.  I also know, children, that you did not have a choice in any of this either.  I also know that there are times when it appears we invest more physically, emotionally and spiritually into the lives of teenagers instead of the lives of our own families.

For all of this and more that is sure to come we ask that you, our wives, husbands and children please, in the name of Lord, forgive us.  We apologize for doing that which we know we should not do and not doing that which we know we should do (Romans 7 of course).  I could make excuses (it even looks like it above) and give you a sob story at how tough youth ministry is but there are no excuses for not doing what is right.  We have three things to offer you for our unacceptable behavior: 1) Confession – We admit we have sinned; 2) Request for forgiveness and 3) a request for your help to alter our mindset to avoid future mistakes.

If I were to say something by way of a request that would be, first of all,  to help us.  Please become our partners in ministry and help alleviate some of the demands by working alongside of us.  No you do not get paid for this but perhaps I can talk to the elders and work that out and we can work together for the long haul.  That also means our children will have to grow up serving in the ministry in some capacity but I believe this is partly what the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4-6 asks us to do.  So please become our partners in this ministry.     

Secondly, I ask that you communicate with us if we are doing too much and the family is starting to suffer.  Of course, we should be slowing down anyways and listening to our families but some of us are addicted to ministry (more on that in the next post) and it has become an idol so we need you to, like a minor prophet, confront us of our calamity and pronounce judgment on us.  If ministry is tearing apart our family then we need you to communicate that to us and if you cannot be a “minister’s wife” then we will do something else.  God has brought us this far and I can guarantee you he will not fail us if we do the right thing.  Please just communicate to us.

Deo gratias

This post is dedicated to my wife Heather Mackenzie who is absolutely amazing in every sense of the word.  Let me tell you about her.  She birthed four beautiful kids in five years.  In that time she watches four other kids every day to supplement our income.  She brings our kids to all of the MAJOR activities in the youth group.  She volunteers occasionally for my son’s school.

She teaches class at Sunday School.  She cleans the house, does the laundry and all of this while putting up with me for a husband.  The fact of all of this is that she doesthis without complaining.  A lot of people whine about how hard their lives are and how busy they are and how they do not have time to even relax yet Heather does all of this without complaining.  Some people who say they “married-up” are just trying to be nice but when I say I married-up you have no idea how true that statement is.  You will not find a person who exemplifies Proverbs 31:29 better than Heather.


Have you ever thought about how ridiculous it is to pray to God about the daily minutia of our lives?  Why would God care about the deadlines I have for classes or why would God be concerned about my tires that need to be replaced?  I had a discussion with the youth group on Sunday in class and I told them that a misconception about God is that he is not concerned with the small things of our lives.  I said that God cares about their algebra test just as much as he cares about their worship, bible reading, etc.  I believe strongly that God is concerned about the big picture but also the little things of our lives that seemed to not matter.  I realized this last night in a conversation I had with my son.  In the 10+ years of analyzing, studying and dissecting Scripture I did not realize the power of God’s love for me like I did last night.  Here is the conversation verbatim:

Kaleb:  Hey daddy.

Me:  Yes son.

Kaleb:  What kind of birthday party are you having?

Me:  Well son…when you get my age birthday parties are really not that special so I am not going to have one.

Kaleb:  It’s special to me.

I felt like crying at that very moment.  I finally got it and from a 5 year-old nonetheless.  God wants us on our terms in our unique posture.  He doesn’t want us to approach him with rote memorization of Scripture or well-versed prayers but God wants us on our own terms.  John summed it up perfectly when he said, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  God wants to hear about your daily struggles just like he wants to hear your confessions, your sins and your requests.  Why?  Because he loves you.  Kaleb knows how much effort we put into celebrating his birthday and he thinks it is just as important for me to celebrate as well.  It’s special to him.

Me:  Ok son…what kind of birthday party should I have?

Kaleb:  Well you like softball so I think you should have a softball party.

Me (laughing hysterically):  Ok son…a softball party it is.


Sometimes it is difficult being a dad as the pressures of providing, leading and discipling sometimes make it a hard act to juggle.  I am writing curriculum for our teenage boys on Wednesday night and came across this poem and it absolutely encouraged me.  As an avid fan of poetry the words spoke to me as if I were engulfed in Scripture itself.  Happy reading dads, daughters, sons and wives.

Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice.

Only a dad with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad but he gives his all,
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing with courage stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men.

…Edgar A. Guest

 


They say, “time passes by so quickly” and today I am painfully aware of that fact.  Kaleb Christopher Mackenzie turned five today.  I know you probably are feeling what I am feeling and your response is, “I can’t believe he is five!”  We can’t either!  In the shower this morning I told Kaleb he was five years old today and he responded, “Am I five right now?”  I assured him that he was five right now and he didn’t even believe it either but when he asked how old Garrett was (pictured above…his best friend) I told him that he was still five right now, Kaleb smiled with a gesture of approval that he was, in fact, five years old.  I remember the day all too well as the anticipation of our first child was more than we could handle.  At this point five years ago Heather was on the medications to increase her contractions and we were playing the waiting game for that little ball of joy.  As it turns out, he was a big, rather fat, ball of joy weighing in at ten pounds and five ounces.  We stayed at the hospital for a week or so because he had such a case of jaundice but  in the weeks and months to come he was probably the most loved baby I have ever seen. 

I still remember the late nights (mainly because I still have a few) with Kaleb giving him a bottle and rocking him to sleep.  Now he is in school, knows that an octagon has eight sides, and rehashed a story verbatim in which daddy said a bad word (yeah that’s a confession).  In some ways I feel like I have to share the story of Kaleb because it is a story so many people have participated in.  From the moment he has come in this world family and friends from Main Street have checked on him continuously almost as if he was their own.  Kaleb’s best life experiences are at the Lord’s church, his best friend goes to church with him, his mentors, role-models and heroes all attend the Lord’s church.  When I fear that my child will turn away from the faith I am often comforted that if he would at least he would know who he could turn to in difficult times.  Thank you Main Street for loving my son and being there for him…your not through yet, we still have a lot of work to do but my labor in ministry is a constant debt I repay to you for the love you have shown me (Rom. 13:8).   

This is where it gets emotional for me and bear with me as I share from my heart a little letter to Kaleb that he will not read until later in life but I wanted you to read it as well. 

Dear Kaleb,

You are five today and I could not be any more proud of what you have done in life up to this point.  You have given your mother and I joy for five years and we thank you for that.  On those long nights when daddy was away it was the thought of you and your smile that has kept me going.  I keep a small picture of you on my desk of when you were a little boy and I look at it and smile everyday.  I want you to know that no matter what you do or where you go that I love you more than you will ever know.  As long as there is air in my lungs to breathe and strength in my bones to move, I will make sure that you are taken care of.  But I also want you to know that if anything were to happen to me that you are already taken care of.  God brought you here when I couldn’t and has protected you these five years.  He will see you through.  Trust in him…trust in your friends at church…trust in the path that is paved before you.  Happy birthday son.  Have fun, be respectful, change the world!!!

With all the love a father can give,

Daddy   


 

No one said parenting was an easy task and today was one of those difficult days in Heather and I’s parenting career.  Our oldest son Kaleb attended pre-k at Krisle Elementary today and it was one of the most difficult things I have had to do as a parent.  Kaleb has been such a sweet child and has always been so respectful, kindhearted and compassionate and I will miss going home at lunch and seeing him.  When I woke him up this morning I told him, “It’s time to go to school,” and he was so excited and ready.  Heather fixed his breakfast (see picture above) and then we got him ready for school.  He got in the truck and I turned off the radio and gave him some last-minute instructions for class: be respectful, listen to Mrs. Jill, help others and be a good boy.  We pulled up close to Krisle and Kaleb shouted, “That’s my school!”  We got out and he started walking and was not paying attention and went smack into a side-view mirror with his head.  He started bawling and I got on my knees (like I always do) and held him close…and I laughed a little bit and thought how appropriate it is for my son to start school this way. 

We walked down the hall to his classroom and I walked in and saw (Mrs.) Jill and her presence comforted me knowing my son is with the best teacher in Robertson County.  I didn’t hug him (I wanted to) and I didn’t give him a kiss (had to resist) as I wanted him to do this on his own.  He is brave and a leader in his own right so I snapped this picture below of my last opportunity with Kaleb…

That is Kaleb going to his desk.  I turned around and walked out of his classroom, down the hall, and thanked God for His protection, for Heather’s amazing parenting, for Jill Reeves but mostly I thanked God for Kaleb.  This world is better with him in it…

And I cried. 

There is nothing in the human psyche that prepares you for letting go.  Whether it is tragedy in a sudden loss, dropping your kid off for elementary school, retiring or kissing your 18-year-old good-bye as he or she enters their dorm at college.  There is no way to prepare for what must be done and as I share these feelings I understand why my parents acted the way they did and said what they said.  It is in these moments where we must let go and let love enter our hearts.  We must love even more because there is nothing else we can do.  We must put our trust in the capable providence of God who knows our children better than we. 

The Goo Goo Dolls in their song, “Let Love In,” bring comfort to me:

There’s nothing we can do about
The things we have to do without
The only way to feel again
Is let love in

Protect Kaleb Lord and all of those who are hurting from letting go and being let go.  Pour out your love onto us and give us strength and courage to face the realities set before us.  In your divine providence things make sense but for we who are confused we struggle with it.  Time does heal some wounds but time is not what we have right now so I am letting your love in as I let Kaleb go.  Thank you Lord for Jesus.  Amen.