What a Supermom of a Premature Superhero Taught Me About Living

When our fifth child was born, he had minor complications with a hole in his lung and an inability to breathe.  While my wife stayed at one hospital in recovery following the delivery, I was transported to another local hospital to be bed-side with my newborn son in the NICU.  I am sure this has happened to you in some form or another…challenged by a medical catastrophe.

Ever been to a NICU?

While at the NICU, we had the privilege of meeting Mollie and Dax, a supermom and her premature superhero.  Dax was born premature at 23 weeks.  His twin sister, Aubrie, was delivered prior to that and went to heaven when she was a day old.  Dax is now five and you can read about their heart-touching story at Wrecked,

Again, we all struggle. Our family is the same as yours.  Mollie’s family is the same as yours. Let’s learn from each other. As I have watched Mollie weather the storms over the past five years, here are three things that this supermom and her premature superhero have taught me about living:

  • Live Your Own Life. As parents, we have a tendency to over-protect our children.  In her own journey, Mollie has every reason to want to live her little man’s life for him…to talk for him…to experience for him…to protect his every move.  But Mollie has chosen to live her own life as a mother of an exceptional and challenged young boy.  Mollie has chosen to let Dax become a superhero, allowing him to venture out in the world, and fall, and get hurt, and grow!
  • Laugh at Life.  When you are challenged, you have a choice of attitudes.  Do you want to sulk?  Do you want to get angry?  Do you want to plan a resolution?  For Mollie, she has chosen to laugh at life.  Just follow her Facebook posts and you will be ROFL (…that’s rolling on the floor laughing for you non-texters…).  For example, describing that horrific time when your child screams out in a location that normally should be a quiet place, Mollie chides: “The sermon today was on the Holy Spirit. Coincidentally (or not?) my little wannabe Pentacostal child yelled out in tongues exercising his fancy new vocal cord the whole time. Made me think of the Mississippi Squirrel Revival… Happy Sunday, y’all!”  Thanks for the awesome reminder of laughter.
  • Lend Your Life.  As much as you think you have on your own plate (with work, school, family, health, debt, or whatever), you can rise above your circumstances by lending your life to others.  When Aubrie joined the other angels in heaven, Mollie made sure to form Aubrie’s Angels in an effort to ensure that every special needs child has access to toys and equipment that will allow them to thrive!  Every year, Mollie and her friends lend their lives to improving the lives of others.

Question: Do you know a supermom like Mollie?  What have you learned from them?

Are Your Failures Active or Passive?

As my wife and I lay next to each other at the end of a busy day, one of the most often pondered questions is, What are we going to do with our lives?


Okay.  I admit it.  That is my question every evening.  She smiles.  She already knows.  But me … I am overwhelmed with the idea that we, as a family, are not playing to win.  We are simply going through the motions of life, homeschooling, work, church, etc.

Ever feel that way?

King Saul probably felt that way, only he took a different approach to resolve his problems.  When the Philistines pursued Saul and his family, they eventually caught and killed Saul’s three sons.  A fierce battle ensued and ultimately Saul was wounded by the Philistine archers.  Left with what he thought were very few options, King Saul took his own life.  

Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the LORD. (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)

Did you catch that?  The scripture says that Saul’s failures were not only active, but were also passive.  He not only did wrong—he failed to do what is right! Saul not only sinned by his actions, but he also sinned by his omissions.

For me and my family, it is not good enough to simply avoid what is wrong.  That is fairly easy…don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t steal.  That’s what we teach our kids.  We need to seek more!  We need to awaken our passive nature and actively pursue what is right.

So, when I ask my wife, What are we going to do with our lives?, that’s what I mean:  Let us do more than get by.  Let us pursue, chase, run, sprint towards goodness.

Image: Tim O’Brien

Four Ways to Become a Rock Star Parent to Your Kids

This weekend my wife convinced me to add a couple of new outfits to my wardrobe. When I put on this new hip set of duds on Sunday, one of my daughters stared at me with fascination…or disgust…I couldn’t really tell.

After moments of silence, she said, “Dad, those look like rock star pants.”  I beamed back with excitement, “I know. Cool, huh?”  Her response pierced my ego: “But you are not a rock star!”


As parents, we should shine like rock stars to our kids.  I am not talking about being cool for sake of being cool.  I am not talking about being their best friend.  I am talking about planning, advertising, entertaining and inspiring throughout your relationship with your children.  Here is what I mean:

  1. Plan your concert tour.  As a busy construction attorney, this is the most difficult part of becoming a rock star parent.  I work very long days and often times I leave to and come home from the office while the kids are in bed. (Yep…I said that right…I miss them in the morning and night.)  And with seven young children, the need to plan is more important.  Just like the musician with a planned tour schedule, you need to plan the times that you will be home with the children.  Include them in making your tour schedule so that they have involvement.  Many times I have heard a little one say to me, “Dad, on our next adventure, can we ….?”
  2. Advertise each event. When you plan an event, you need to advertise and talk about it with your children.  Weekends can be crazy at my house because I have scheduled three or four different trips out with different kids.  When you talk about it during the week, you are solidifying your commitment to them, as well as building excitement for the weekend to come.
  3. Entertain their heart and mind.   Okay. I got this one down because I love to entertain.  A few pieces of advice: (i) learn to use many voices (…kids love voices…); (ii) buy tons of white paper and crayons, and sit down to draw with your children every chance you can get; and (iii) eat the green bean, peanut butter, and chip sandwiches, which means if you let your children help you make lunch, then be prepared to eat whatever they make. Role play with the chef, waitress and customer.  And when you mess up by yelling at them for spilling the milk (…I may have done that a few times…), then cure the hurt in their eyes and face by saying “sorry” and finding their tickle spot.
  4. Inspire your children towards greatness.  We entertain to get their attention; we inspire to teach them character.  Whether it is the lyrics, the overall showmanship, or the eye contact made with the lead singer, the most memorable concert likely left you inspired.  When you interact with your children, remain focused on your goal of preparing them for the real world (…hopefully not the MTV show…).  In all things, including trips to the movie, ice cream shop or park, find a way to inspire them to greatness.

Are you a rock star parent?  What can you do different this week to rock it?

Why You Need to Train Your Kids to Chuck in the Bucket

My wife would kill me if she knew that I was telling you this. (…Please don’t say anything…she doesn’t read this stuff and won’t find out unless you say something…) That’s right, I am going to share with you a story about training and discipline and vomit.

Sick Bucket
About two weeks ago, my joyful Addy was not feeling well. She had already gotten sick once in the car, had a shower, and spent the evening on the couch. Although we probably surmised that more food might make her sick, she ate dinner nonetheless. Wasn’t that bad … oatmeal. How hard can that ol’ quaker dude be on your stomach anyway?

Fast forward two hours. Cough. Cough. Scream. Cough. Gurgle. Gurgle.

I ran into Addy’s room. She was crying … but not talking. She had her hands cupped around her mouth. I ran to her bed and saw that she was gagging. She did not want to get sick in her bed.

I scooped her up in my arms and cradled her to the bathroom. She could have let go. But she did not. Her small, cupping hands held tight to her mouth. As I sat her down on the ground near the toilet, she aimed …. and released. Good girl.

You may find this disgusting, but I was one proud pop. Did you see that? She held tight until she was in the clear. She did not want to get sick in her bed. She did not want to get sick on her daddy. She waited until she could get sick where sick belonged.

We (… I mean my wife … ) wiped her brow, cleaned her mouth, bathed her, and set her back into bed. Although we had already prayed once, I would later return to Addy’s room for an extra prayer. Can’t have too many, right?

As I walked out into the dark hallway, I looked over my shoulder to the motionless body. That’s what I call disciplined. To us, discipline is everything you put into children that influences how they will fare in the real world. Perhaps out of cleanliness … perhaps out of laziness … perhaps out of leadership … but we have always trained our children (no matter what age) to hold their sickness until they can get to a bathroom. Addy, in her moment of sickness and nausea, could have reacted so many different ways. But she chose to hold on and get sick where sick belonged.

Is that disgusting? Maybe. Are we mean parents? Probably. Is there a lesson in all this talk? Yes. If an evening of child sickness can show me that training really does make a difference, then perhaps you can reach a similar conclusion in your journey.  As the often-quoted proverb says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

How are you training your children?  What lessons can you share?

You Know You Are Grumpy When … You Dream in Grumpy

Over the past few months, I have been so stressed that my wife cornered me on more than one occasion to let me know how “grumpy” I have been with the children and with her.  My first reaction … No way!  You’re the grumpy one, chica!


I soon realized that my wife was right when I started dreaming in grumpy. Last week I woke up at about 3:00am with anger in my mind and a frown on my face.  I woke up from an insanely realistic dream where I was yelling at my children, picking apart my wife and kicking the cat.   I woke up and wanted to run away from myself.

Language studies show that if you begin to dream in a foreign language, then you are comfortable with the foreign language and may be on the verge of fluency.  So what does it mean when you dream that you are angry and “on edge” with everyone?  I think it means you are angry and “on edge” with everyone … and on the verge of hurting those you most care about.  Here is what you can do turn those dreams around?

  • If you’ve yelled at your kids, it is never too late to apologize. Even where a few days has gone by, my children truly appreciate (and understand) when I take them to the side to “say sorry” for being grumpy.  Addy Joy, do you remember when Daddy yelled at you two days ago for getting out of bed?  Well, I am sorry.  I should not have yelled at you.  It is your job to stay in bed and it is my job to teach you to obey instructions.  But it was wrong of me to yell at you.  Will you forgive me? Those words can make a huge impact on a child.
  • If you’ve been short with your wife, it is never too late to open up to her. Just because my wife is an adult, I cannot assume that she will fully appreciate the stress that consumes me during the day.  I am learning to make a concerted effort to take a few “moments of silence” after pulling into the driveway to prepare for my entrance into the home.  Again, the words are simple: Honey-babe-schmoopy-pie … I am sorry for not understanding how my stresses affect you and the kids.  It’s been tough on me for the past few days and I forget that we are on the same team.  Will you forgive me? Most of the time, she will embrace you with open arms.  And by the way, sweetie, wanna make out?
  • If are you dreaming in grumpy, it is never too late to change. Luckily for me (and for my family), I have only had one grumpy dream.  But it was a huge wake-up call (…pun intended…) that I needed to change my attitude toward my children.  I realize that my grumpiness is not going to solve the stresses that are making me grumpy.  Does that make sense?  If eating ice cream is not going to help you lose weight, then why would yelling at your kids or spouse help you with the stresses at work, or the financial strains, or the problem you may be having with a friend.  It won’t.

Are you dreaming in grumpy?  If so, how can you turn those dreams around?

Image: sokab