Stages of Life

Currently, in the Sargent household we have 3 teenagers but in just a couple of weeks that will all change as my oldest turns 20!  It is hard to imagine that my wife and I are at this stage of our lives.  Seems like yesterday when we were bringing our first born home from the hospital.  Time waits for no man and unless we recognize the stages of life, time will pass us by and we will not capitalize on the importance of each segment of life.  There are lessons to be learned in every season, some good and some bad, but necessary none the less.

As a parent every stage is important.  The things my teenagers are being taught currently could not have been taught to them when they were 5 or 6.  It would have been impossible for them to comprehend at that moment in their lives.  But now, lessons that will sustain and guide them as they grow older are being taught and hopefully they are being grasped.  However, sometimes as a parent you have to put on your teachers hat and instruct as life reveals difficult assignments everyone must face.  To ignore these moments is to ignore the incredible opportunity we have been given as parents to shape and govern the trajectory of our child’s life.

There are many lessons that must be taught.  Things such as: the importance of faith, wholeheartedly loving and living for God, the quality of human life, respecting others, understanding the value of our time, talent and treasure etc…  The list goes on but each is as important as the other in the development of our kids.  This all hit home recently in a decision my wife and I made with our kids when it comes to cars and driving.  Yes, we are at that stage – two of our kids are now driving!!! (Can someone say INSURANCE COSTS?!!!)

We have told our kids that if they want to purchase a vehicle, they must save half of the money needed to buy the vehicle and whatever they save would be matched by us.  Now you must understand something – my middle daughter who is 17 IS A SAVER!!  She socks it away like crazy.  This is great but BAD when she reminds us often how much she has been saving for a car.  All I see are dollar signs flashing as I begin to compute my end of the deal and realize I better do something quick or we are in trouble….

These type of decisions and guidelines sound great when they are 11 and don’t have ways to get much money but now, when she is 17, I may have to sell my other arm to match the offer I made. I thought I was being clever and teaching them a valuable lesson, and I was but now I have to keep my end of the bargain.  So, I have decided to sell my truck and get me something used and reliable to get around and find something for her that will get her from point A to point B without breaking down on the side of the road.   Of course she is excited and I’m nervous but such is the stage of the life we are in right now.  I have learned as a parent I must keep my end of the bargain – it teaches me a valuable lesson as well as my kids.

Each stage brings new fears as well as new joys as we see God work in the lives of our children.  I want to continue to guide them through life by providing wisdom and mercy.  They will not always make the right decisions but I must recognize these moments as opportunities I can leverage to teach the valuable lessons necessary to become what God has destined for them to become.  This is tough but it is important!

And they say parenting is a piece of cake……….

~Darin

 

She’s My World

I will never forget the day.  I was attending a conference in Salt Lake City and was standing outside of a restaurant waiting to get in.  I was with a group of friends waiting to get a table when I saw her for the first time.  In fact I couldn’t take my eyes off of her!  There she stood and I knew from that moment my life would never be the same.  Of course it took some convincing to get her to realize the same thing but I must have done a good job because we have been married now for close to 22 years.

Today is my wife’s birthday and all I can say is she’s my world.  I don’t even want to think about life without her.  She is a wonderful mother, friend, wife, pastor’s wife and there is no way I could make it without her in my life.

Today we celebrate you babe!  I know this has been a busy season and it seems the summer has flown by with our crazy schedule but I just wanted you to know that you are my world and I love you to the moon and back!

I have often said that “life moves at the speed of relationships” and the life you and I get to share together has been a great journey of adventure and excitement.  I love you!

Happy Birthday Duwop!

~Darin

Creating A Vision Statement For Your Marriage

This is a guest post by Steve Andrus.  Steven is the Marriage and Family Pastor at Woodlawn Church (woodlawnchurch.cc) in Columbia, MS and a National Certified Counselor by the National Board of Certified Counselors. To learn more about Steve please visit his website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

I thought I would pass out. Things began to get blurry and a trickle of sweat ran down my face. Our third minister had just said some nice things about us and we still had one to go. I lost count of the number of songs but it felt like a Kenny G and Michael Bolton concert. We were married in the 90’s.

It was time to recite our vows and I wasn’t sure I would be able to get the words out. My mouth was dry and my knees felt weak. I wish I could say it was because I was so in love with the girl holding my sweaty hands. It had more to do with our marathon ceremony. I’m sure we broke some sort of record.

I can’t remember our vows. They were probably traditional. Apparently they worked because Kristen is still around.

Wedding vows can be the most stressful part of the ceremony. Some couples choose to write their own. I’ve always thought that was a huge risk. Romantic, but risky. Remembering the ring is enough to overwhelm the average groom. Asking him to write and recite his own vows can be catastrophic.

Wedding vows are like a verbal contract and the internet is replete with vows gone viral…grooms passing out…brides tripping over their dress. Maybe it’s the fear of commitment. Or maybe we hold our breath hoping the air in our lungs will keep us upright.

Whatever it is, marriage ceremonies tend to get interesting at the vows.

One thing I’ve never seen is a couple reading or reciting a marriage vision statement. That’s usually how corporations, churches, and other organizations begin. They need a statement to keep them on track.

While a vision statement doesn’t sound romantic it can be an important factor in having a healthy marriage. Maybe this is why so many marriages get off course. They hit walls or tough times and lack a plan. A vision statement can get you pointed back in the right direction.

Here are three components to assist you in writing a vision statement for your marriage:

  1. Values.

Identify three to five personal core values. You can discover your values by asking questions like…

What role does spirituality play in your marriage? How will you discipline your children? What family traditions are important to you? Are you committed to making your marriage last even if it involves marriage counseling?

  1. Goals.

Clarify your personal, couple, and family goals for one to five years. Your goals should be realistic and clear. Some goals might include becoming debt free, having a child, or children, within a certain amount of time, buying a home, dating once a week, etc.

  1. Words.

If I were to ask you to describe your relationship today in one word, what would it be? What about one year from now? Who do you hope to be as a couple in ten or twenty years?

If a word, or words, doesn’t come to mind quickly it may be that you need to nurture your intimate knowledge of each other.  Click here for more info on creating intimacy in marriage.

I recently began mountain biking. It’s much different than road cycling, which I’ve done for a few years now. To road cycle you pretty much get on and pedal. It’s rare that a tree leaps out of nowhere and attempts to dismount you. That happens often mountain biking.

There’s one hill on some local trails that I have trouble climbing. It’s steep and the gravel is loose. I’m learning that climbing a hill requires just the right amount of balance. Too much weight in the front and your back tire loses traction. Too much in the back and your front tire comes off the ground.

One of the most vital elements of a good climb is momentum. If you lose it, you will go down. And once lost, it’s difficult to regain.

Writing a vision statement for your marriage can help you maintain forward momentum. It doesn’t take a lot of time and can keep you moving in the right direction.

There are plenty of things that will try to knock your marriage off balance, but keep moving forward. Create momentum.

Thanks for reading. I know your time is valuable. If you found this post helpful please like or share it via the links above.

—Steven


Meet Steve Andrus

Steven is the Marriage and Family Pastor at Woodlawn Church (woodlawnchurch.cc) in Columbia, MS and a National Certified Counselor by the National Board of Certified Counselors.

He is passionate about helping individuals, couples, and families rediscover hope through the counseling process. He obtained his Masters Degree in Marriage & Family Counseling from Mississippi College and continues his professional education by attending workshops and seminars on subjects such as trauma, parenting, couples therapy, grief, depression, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

From 2006 to 2008 he and his family served as missionaries in West Africa. He makes regular trips overseas speaking on leadership, emotional health, and spiritual growth. His experiences overseas have provided him with a broad worldview and allows him to counsel with various cultures and nationalities.

Steven speaks on marriage and family issues weekly and is available for workshops, conferences, and seminars. He and his wife Kristen enjoy speaking at marriage retreats and offer a fun and informative format.

His office is located in Columbia, MS and he is also available for counseling nationally and internationally via Skype and FaceTime.

Steven lives with his wife Kristen and their two children in Columbia, MS.

The Big #16

It doesn’t seem possible that my girl is 16 today.  Last Friday we celebrated and had the big Sweet 16 party and it was a blast.  But today is officially her birthday and I couldn’t help but think of the blessing this young lady has been in our lives.  It also got me to thinking about the fact that she will be driving soon!  YIKES!!!!!!

Seems as if it was yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital.  That little bundle of joy that was so dependent on us as parents has grown into a beautiful, strong, talented and gifted young lady.  I know I am speaking as her dad so this will be somewhat biased but I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming.  Not a day goes by that I am not blown away by her commitment to God and her passion for life.

So today I celebrate you Ashton!  I wish I could freeze time and keep us locked in this space for awhile, just so we could enjoy more of these moments that life brings our way.  There is so many things I am proud of but one thing stands out above them all – it is your love for God!  Your mom and I have watched you grow in your talents and dedicate those talents to God.  Nothing is more important.  Keep that constant in your life and God will do amazing things with you and for you.  You are a beautiful young lady, inside and out.  Happy birthday sweetheart!!!  You are truly amazing.

I love you,

Dad

Where Does Time Go?

It seems like it was just yesterday that she was born.  A healthy, beautiful baby girl.  The last of the Sargent clan and today, she turns 12 years old!  It doesn’t seem possible time went by this fast.  Where has it gone and how did I get to be 29 years old so quickly??? LOL

As I awoke early this morning and crawled out of bed to begin my day, I realized my baby girl is one year away from being a teenager and to be honest I got a bit freaked out.  Time waits for no man and what we do with the time we have been given is vitally important.  If you are not planning out your life, trying to make sure every minute you are breathing is making a difference, one day you will wake up and it will be gone.  Take advantage of the time you have right now!  Don’t wait for that special moment, or that certain year where you finally start living your life.  DO IT NOW!!  Recognize that you were placed on this earth for a purpose and you only have a certain amount of years to do what you were called to do.

I remember when Averie, my birthday girl, was around 5 years old and I asked her to help me take out the trash one day. As we were heading back to the house I asked her if she wanted to race. As any good dad would do, I let her take the lead and acted as if I was not able to catch her. As we were running I shouted out to her – “Wow!! You are winning! How do you run so fast? ” Through gritted teeth and gasping breath she replied – GOD GAVE ME THE GIFT!!

Maybe she recognized something way back then that is so crucial to life today – God has given each of us a gift and we are responsible for doing something with it!  Don’t let time pass you by on the way to your destiny.  Let God do something through you and in you that will make a difference in this world.

Take the time to use your gift. Oh…. and Happy birthday to my little princess!

~DS


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THE LIFE FOCUS SYSTEM

The Choices You Make Matter

If you have read my blog over the last couple weeks, you would know that I am in organization and planning mode!  In my last post I wrote about a system I am developing called The Life Focus System using Evernote.  This system is still in beta but will be launching soon, so keep checking in for more information.  You can read more about it by looking at my previous post.  Anyways, during this season of planning I came across some notes I picked up somewhere along the way that are interesting.  I used these points in a message I preached a few years ago and find them to still be intriguing and insightful.

I know it is Christmas Eve and I probably should be writing some Christmas post while I sip hot chocolate and listen to Bing Crosby sing I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, but I thought I would just drop this in to give you something to think about.  It is based on the choices the Israelites made when they were in the wilderness after coming up out of Egypt.  It shows us that the decisions we make in life as parents, can even influence our children to make right or wrong choices that can affect their lives for years to come.  I believe, when I initially used this in a message, I called it 12 Ways To Make Sure You Children Will Fail, but I thought that might be a bit negative as a post title so I changed it to The Choices You Make Matter.

THE CHOICES YOU MAKE MATTER

  1. I Did Not Have Faith. When God desired to lead us into the Promise Land, I sided with the majority who felt that we had neither the resources nor the ability to accomplish such a huge mission. After all, there is safety in numbers and the majority should rule. That’s the only fair way.
  2. When Things Didn’t Please Me, I Longed For The Past. I valued the confinement of the familiar past more than I anticipated the joys of a free future.
  3. When Nobody Was There To Make Me Live For God, I Became An Idolater. Serving God was…well, serving. Work. Effort. It never became a relationship.
  4. I Blamed My Leaders When Things Got Tough. I refused to take responsibility for my own choices and actions. I didn’t ask to be born, and this little trek in the desert was hardly my idea, so why shouldn’t I put the blame where it belongs?
  5. I Made An Issue of What I Perceived As My Leader’s Mistakes. I made sure he (and everyone else) knew when I disagreed with him. The fact that one can never destroy their leader’s authority without compromising their own wasn’t important to me.
  6. I Always Saw The Bad Side of Things. When so many experiences are bad, how can you not notice?
  7. I Didn’t Take God’s Word Seriously. You’ve got to admit, some of it just doesn’t make sense. Come on! Killing your best lamb? Isn’t blood blood? And isn’t blood the whole point of the sacrifice? So if the lamb only has three legs, what’s the big deal? It still has plenty of blood. And why does our tribe have to set up camp in the exact position relative to the tabernacle every time? What difference does it make? I really don’t need some preacher telling me what God means. I can read and think for myself. Duh! You shouldn’t have gotten me started….
  8. I Expected Success To Always Come Easily. I don’t see a God who can create a universe in six days needing forty years to get me to the Promise Land. He can create the Earth by speaking words, yet expects me to walk all the way to my new home? Please!
  9. I Made Sure My Leader Knew When I Wasn’t Happy. Hey, he is the one who said God was going to tell him how to get us all to this wonderful land that flows with milk and honey. The good time he promised isn’t exactly what I am currently experiencing, so don’t blame me for talking about it. He is the one you ought to be complaining about.
  10. I Didn’t Have The Guts To Stand Up and Speak Out For God. I’m not a preacher. God never spoke to me out of a burning bush. Sure, I saw a few amazing things like water coming out of a rock, quail covering the ground every evening, rivers parting so a couple million people could cross on dry land, but does that mean I am now God’s attorney? There are other people who are better at that sort of thing. Anyway, I can’t take a chance on offending some of these guys. I’ve got to live with them, you know.
  11. I Valued The Familiar More Than I Treasured The Future. With the familiar, at least you know what you’ve got. The future is uncertain and there are no guarantees. A bird in the hand is better than two in some bush that exists only in your (or some preacher’s!) imagination.
  12. I Preferred Earthly Things Over Heavenly Things. They called it angels’ food, but after a while you grow tired of that light and fluffy stuff. We may not have had a lot in Egypt, but the onion and garlic certainly livened up the cuisine a bit.

But what’s it to you? Get off my back, okay? You never had to live my life, so stop judging me!

These are interesting points and definitely some things we should examine to make sure we are leading our children forward into the promises God has for their lives as well as ours.  I want my children to have the right ingredients of faith as they move forward in life no matter what the circumstances may look like.  This all depends on my ability to walk close to God and live to the level of faith He expects me too.

I promise to be more “christmasy” in my next post.  Have an awesome holiday.

~Darin