Crying Children and Busted Lips: I Still Fear of Failing…

I have failed at a lot of things in life.

But you know what they say- Failures lead to success. Right…? If that’s the case I should be successful in more things than I currently am.

But one of my biggest fears is failing as a parent.

The other night our youngest, Bennett, was pushing his dump truck and slipped, fell, and busted his lip.

Blood was everywhere. On me. On him. On his shirt.

I panicked.

In a fit of anger I grabbed the Dump Truck and tossed it outside. I wasn’t sure what else to do.

So I did what every man does when he is clueless about the kids- I called my wife.

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In the panic of the moment I didn’t even give her time to answer before I said: “Bennett’s bleeding, it’s everywhere, and I don’t know what to do, get here quick…” Then I just hung up. (Have I mentioned I have a tendency to be a little overdramatic).

Looking back now that it’s over I realize it wasn’t the smartest course of action. My wife with calm and grace even let me know that. At the end of the day it was only a busted lip and Bennett was back to his normal happy self not to long afterwards.

In Life we will fail. That’s a fact. Sometimes we fail because we aren’t ready, or we don’t have the full knowledge of what we face.

I like the way Jeff Goins put it in a recent Blog Post:

After his first mentor died, Luke Skywalker showed up to apprentice under Yoda. Luke thought he was hot stuff and cut his training short, which resulted in his hand getting cut off.

The point is this- We will fail. We will fail as parents, as spouses, in business, and as writers. It’s not the fact that we fail that matters most- It’s what we do afterwards and who we turn to for guidance.

First I turn to God. I turn to His word. Seek counsel in the depths of Scripture.

But I also turn to my wife: She is my best friend, and the one person I trust more than anyone. She may not have all the knowledge I need for every aspect of life- But she has the encouragement and provides the support.

Who do you turn to when you’ve hit rock bottom…?

Dragons, Orcs, & Unicorns- Are You in the Midst of a Difficult Quest?

Monday’s can often times make one feel as if they are looking down a long black tunnel with no light. It seems for many of us it’s the return to the daily grind, the mundane, and within a few hours we find ourselves longing for Friday.

I’ll admit- I’m like that. I can grow tired of the same old thing. I want to break free, find adventure, slay dragons, and climb dangerous Mountains. I want to go on a quest. And in those moments I often find myself living with regret wondering “What if” I had done this instead of that? Where would my life be?

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The truth is- Thoughts like that are the biggest hindrance to our lives. They cause us to question where God has placed us, to feel jealousy, to long for something that may not necessary be the correct plan or place for us. All the while- We fail to realize we are already on a quest. A great one, that’s being directed by The One.

This past year has been one of the most challenging times for my wife and me financially. We have been strapped short of cash as we pay off medical bills and try to readjust our life styles to account for a few items we need to pay off. In times like these I often look around and realize the things we can’t do or afford. And in those moments I found myself driven by jealousy, but in the end coming to a place of Thanksgiving.

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It’s hard realizing you’re in the midst of a dark forest, & the hopelessness you feel is a part of the journey God has placed you on. CLICK TO TWEET

Whether that pain is caused by your own dumb mistakes or it’s simply the result of God shutting a door.

The truth is everyone one of us is on a quest. Sometimes the road seems long and hard with bumps along the way. Other times it feels simple and breezy. Regardless of the circumstances, I have to constantly remind myself to give Praise where praise belongs.

Every week I come across people who are bitter and angry about life. They feel they’ve been dealt a bad hand. As a result they go through each day and every minute trapped by the circumstances they refuse to try and overcome. It’s hard to do that- I’ve been there.

So this week-Ask God to reveal to you, what Quest are you currently on…? And are you thankful for the journey he has giving you….?

FIRST LINES!!!! – I Love Them

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Every book starts someplace, right?

I have a ADD. Not the type where I’m bouncing off walls all hours of the night, but I struggle with sitting down to concentrate. So when most people say that if you can’t engage your reader after twenty pages, then you’ve failed- I want to laugh. Why? Because with me, it’s much less.

Is that fair? No. But it’s reality. I have two kids under the age of two and a busy life outside of the home. My time is very valuable and I don’t have a lot of extra minutes to wait and see if a book will draw me in.

That’s why I always look at the first line.

I notice right away if a book is going to hold me long enough to get to the end. Basically, I want to be pulled into a story right away.

I love this Quote by Stephen King-

“A book won’t stand or fall on the very first line of prose — the story has got to be there, and that’s the real work. And yet a really good first line can do so much to establish that crucial sense of voice — it’s the first thing that acquaints you, that makes you eager, that starts to enlist you for the long haul. So there’s incredible power in it, when you say, come in here. You want to know about this. And someone begins to listen.” – Stephen King

Below are some of my favorites that I’ve collected. For some strange reason that first sentence in these stories pulled me into the pages and captivated me. They may not work the same for you. And that’s fine. But for me, they did what they should have done.

“It Was A Pleasure to Burn.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“You’ve Been here before.” – Stephen King, Needful Things

“On the second day of December, in a year when a Georgia Peanut Farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground.” – Stephen King, Dr. Sleep

“There was once a time when only God knew the day you’d die.” – Nadine Brandes, A Time to Die

“Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.” – Joe Haldeman, The Forever War

“I did two things on my seventy- fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.” – John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

“Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinover, wore white on the day he was to kill a king.” – Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

‘”I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.'” – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13.” 1984, George Orwell.

“It was raining the night he found me.” Tosca Lee, Demon

Now these aren’t a full list of all my favorites- But they are ones that pulled me in and kept me longing for an answer to the questions they posed in my mind…

What are some of your favorites…?

Diapers, Snot, and Books…#NovelDad

Lessons Learned from a Father who writes

I think it is safe to say that I’ve been absent for quite some time. Well over two months in fact. If asked I’m sure I could provide a list of ideas about where I’ve been. Everything from flying around in a TARDIS with the Doctor to shooting Cowboys with Wyatt Earp to… Well you get the point. However, I feel I can justify my absence without an imaginative stretch, I mean my excuse is a pretty good one.

bennett1On August 2st my wife and I welcomed our second son Bennett Lucas Johnson. That’s him to the right hanging out with a pretty good looking guy. While he has been the polar opposite from his older brother (Who was Colic, Jaundice, Screaming through the night…) he still comes with a list of constant needs that must be met. I mean, all babies have their moments when you feel as if you are ready to pound your head threw a wall because knocking yourself out may be the only option to guarantee sleep and a small moment of peace and calm.

I make it sound so horrible don’t I… I will stop with the drama. The truth is, I don’t mind it. It’s a joyful occasion filled with moments I capture in my memory. Years from now I hope to lean back and study a picture, maybe find myself triggering one of those sleepless nights. Will I laugh? Cry? Or just sit and wonder where the time went… Regardless, I hold on to these small chapters I have.

So there you have it. My excuse for my absence. But let’s take it a step further. It’s not that I have just been taking care of a newborn, I’ve learned a few lessons over the past few weeks as well. In fact, two very important principles come to mind.

1)      First- I am a very selfish man.

To an extent I believe we all are. If we were to step back and look in the mirror and really study the reflection, I don’t think we would be all that shocked to discover our own Mr. Hyde’s starring back at us… We all value our own self-worth to an extent. We all want that moment to our self, that extra hour of sleep, a moment to finally sit and watch the show that’s been on our DVR for weeks… We may not admit it or recognize it, but it’s there. We need to please ourselves, and normally that’s found it time.

Now, is there anything wrong with that? Not really. Taking a break keeps our minds fresh, and let’s face it, our spouses probably enjoy our company more as well. But there are moments in life where we have to put ourselves second. That’s been my challenge.

bennett6I tend to get frustrated way to easy. I want time to write, the house is messy and I feel I need to stop and clean, I don’t have time to do this or that… The list goes on and on. My selfish tendency get to me, but it’s the things that I’m selfish about that bother me. Because those things are un-eternal and small. My boys have taught me that to ignore their desires in order to meet mine, really destroys the impactful moments I can have on them. I’m scared to death to see the world my children will grow up in. So much I changing, and not for the good I’m afraid. If I want them to stand for the truth, God’s truth in a way that is honorable and bold- Then I need to take every moment I have to influence their lives.

Does that mean I give up writing, give up my dreams, working out, a healthy diet, my personal goals…? No. But it does mean I might need to give up that one TV show everyone watches in order to meet both my desires and theirs.

2)     Second- I am nowhere near Joyful enough.

I often describe my oldest son Miles as a possessed freight train that flies through the house destroying everything in sight. In many ways he is. He moves from one toy to the next toy. After a few minutes he’ll skip to terrorizing our two Miniature Chihuahuas, to grabbing the cats tail and dragging him through the house, diving off the couch onto his bean bag chair, to pulling every DVD case out of the cabinet, to screaming and stomping around the house when I tell him he can’t have another cookie, to unrolling an entire roll of toilet paper and stuffing it all in the toilet… The point is he is quite active. But one thing remains consistent… He is always smiling.

I have found I don’t smile or laugh near as much as I should. I’m not sure why. I have everything to be happy about. You see, I have had to learn that life isn’t about the things I don’t get, or that I don’t get accomplished. It’s about knowing God, making him known, and being with those you love. Being with my wife and kids somehow gives me the moments when to smile, is what I needed most. My kids, my wife, they give me those moments.

A few weeks ago I walked through the house picking up toys Miles had scattered across three different rooms. It was late, I was exhausted, and knew that work the next morning would require both black coffee and a Red Bull to survive. I asked a simple question, more rhetorical. Actually I was talking out loud to myself. I said- “Miles, are you ready for bed?” I wasn’t asking the question to be answered, it was my hint to my wife that I was exhausted and was ready for bed. 

Now let me clear a few things up about Miles. He wasn’t quite two yet. His vocabulary consisted of the words No, More, Snack, Bye, Uh Oh, and Water.  That’s it. I don’t think he truly understood the meaning of any of those words. But in that moment, as soon as I asked the question, he took his binky out of his mouth and said in a very matter of fact tone- No.

To many reading this, I’m certain you could care less. But to me, in that moment, being that tired, I found myself laughing hysterically. I’m not really so sure why I laughed that hard, but I did. And I realized I needed more moments like that with my children. Moments where they made me laugh and enjoy life.

bennett5Now, I don’t claim to have a ton of wisdom. Nor do I feel as though I have the answers to all of life’s problems. But one thing I do know for sure. I’m a dad who loves to write stories, and my God, wife, and kids are my inspiration to do so. When I watch my children I see them enjoying life, even little Bennett who is just learning to smile. I pray I always remember to do so myself.

I’m happy when I’m zoned in, working hard on a story, a story I hope others enjoy. That’s my desire and hope. To tell a simple story. My boys help me get there, and drive me forward.

They are a part of a reason I do what I do…