Thoughts on Kobe

Like so many other people all across the world, I was stunned when I learned about the horrible crash of the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other lives. Nine total lives were lost in the wreck and the ripples of this tragedy began to make their way literally throughout the whole world.

My own daughter texted a group of us to ask if we had heard. Sunday afternoon, relaxing after church & lunch, I began to search for news. Is it true? Can this be a real story? Hopefully this is just a bad case of misinformation. However, it didn’t take long to find that it was in fact true. Over the next hour, I watched news and details come in and my heart continued to sink.

The days that followed were difficult as close friends of Kobe began to share their reactions and memories of their time with Kobe. So many emotions shared by so many people who had been touched by his life in one way or another. There were many times when my eyes filled with tears as I watched and heard the pain others were experiencing.

The hardest emotional hit for me (a person obviously not friends with Kobe) was hearing his daughter was on the plane with him. I am a dad. I have a daughter. Seeing all the pics and videos of Kobe with his daughter just ripped at my heart. Knowing that his wife and three other daughters would be grieving and hurting so deeply was tough to think about.

So many athletes and people from the NBA, other sports as well, celebrities, public figures and random people who had interacted with Kobe in some way were sharing their thoughts and feelings. There was no shortage of proof that Kobe’s life had greatly impacted the lives of many people. Emotions were raw, heavy and real.

A beautiful part of it all was seeing just how many people bonded over their mutual respect and admiration of Kobe. His basketball prowess was one part, but the way he lived the rest of his life was celebrated to an even greater extent. Being a father and specifically a #girldad seemed to be one of Kobe’s most fulfilling roles.

Again, being a sports fan, a father and a #girldad had me often very emotional as I watched this all unfold. I truly felt for all those who were grieving and hurting so badly and I also felt some enjoyment seeing how much everyone seemingly cared about Kobe and his family.

However, being a person of faith, I couldn’t help wonder just how many people who were experiencing so much emotion over this loss of life actually had a grasp on what life after death means for us.

The truth is, all nine of those souls left this mortal world in an instant and found themselves in eternity. You might not believe in any kind of life after death, and I get that. Every person is free to believe what they will. But, I whole-heartedly believe in the Bible and the truths it contains. I believe that every human being will leave this earthly plane as their body ceases to live and either find an eternal reward or eternal suffering. I believe in a literal Heaven and hell as taught in the Bible.

The truth of the Gospel of Jesus is that he is the only way to heaven. He paid the debt for our sinfulness and secured for us an eternity in heaven with God. Our path, the only path, to an eternity in heaven is to believe in and accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

“there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”  Acts 4:12

No matter how good a person is in his or her life, and no matter how well they are liked or loved, the bottom line concerning life after death is whether or not their faith has been put in Jesus. Salvation through Jesus Christ is based solely on the grace of God, not on anything we can accomplish ourselves.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”  Romans 5:8

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”  Ephesians 2:8-9

My prayer has been that Kobe, his daughter and the others left this physical world knowing Jesus as their Savior.

My other prayer is that this closeness many shared in grieving this tragedy will be used by God to bring many to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Times like these are great opportunities for God to work in the hearts of people. When we stare death in the face, we are reminded just how fragile life truly is, we are primed to consider our own mortality. May you consider your own life and what would be your final resting place if you entered eternity in the blink of an eye.

Sweet 16 for my BGP!

She entered this world and grabbed ahold of my heart with both hands. To this date, 16 years later, she hasn’t let go…not even for a minute.

0218527-R1-032-14A

From the moment I laid my eyes on this beautiful girl, I was clearly, eternally wrapped around her finger. She entered this world and grabbed ahold of my heart with both hands. To this date, 16 years later, she hasn’t let go…not even for a minute. Being the father of a daughter was not something I was prepared for. Honestly, I have a few problems with some of you in my life that didn’t even give me the smallest of a heads up. But, seriously, I’m not sure anything would have prepared me for the realities of having a little, precious girl look up to me the way a daughter does.

IMG_0492

There is this overwhelming and intense pressure that I think never really subsides. The pressure from the responsibility to protect this gift of a girl that God has brought into my life. I now understand that God has used that pressure to help grow, stretch, and change me for His, mine, and her good. Frankly speaking, I couldn’t handle being a dad to a daughter (or a son for that matter) without God’s gracious hand guiding me.

And…that he did. This relationship between me and my sweet daughter is something very special and deeply rooted at the center of my big man heart. I’ve truly never melted so quickly as when I see a hurt or sadness in my daughter’s eyes. Those times when she has been pushed to her ends, and isn’t sure how to interpret or respond to this life…those are the times God has used to strengthen our bond, and severely deepen my understanding of his love for me.

IMG_0540

My daughter has always been a source of fun, excitement, and positive influence to all who know her. She has a sincere desire to work hard and do her best in most everything she tries. That hard-working discipline has actually rubbed off on the rest of the family here and there along the way. We each get real inspiration from her; even if we all don’t readily admit it. She also loves others just about as hard as she works on projects, and always seems to have room in her heart for another. Her smile is infectious, her laugh contagious, and her personality simply charming.

IMG_7406

It has been such a treat to watch as that little, dark-haired bundle of joy has turned into the very beautiful lady I see before my eyes today. I’m so glad that she still enjoys hanging out with me…in public…where other people see us. She is my favorite 16 year old in the whole world, and I hope and pray that her next 16 years are even greater than the first.

To any guys out there with ideas: I take that God-given responsibility to protect her and help guard her heart incredibly serious. I know God might have a good one of you out there for her one day, but just remember that until that time, I am the man in her life. If you want to get to her, and try to win her heart, you have to get through me. 😉

She will always and forever be my Baby Girl Princess.

First Old Father’s Day

It was a few weeks ago, and I’m still kinda getting over it. This year I realized that I am one of the “old” fathers. My kids are growing up and looking at me differently than they did when their eyes seemed to light up every time I came through the door at the end of the day. My daughter still has a little of this in her, but it is definitely different than years before. I’m not sad, it is just a new reality of my current season of life. My goal is to embrace, love, and experience it for all it is worth.

This picture is me and my dad in ’92. There have been many changes since then. I’ve gone from a newly married man just beginning a new family with Kym to one of those “older” dads whose children are often referred to as “grown”. I usually shudder a bit when I hear it. Again, it’s not due to sadness or a desire to spurn the categorization of where life finds me. Mostly it’s just been a shock as I am slowly waking to this new realization.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, it really isn’t that big of a deal at all. When I look at this picture of me and my dad, I look at it with fondness. It reminds me of how much I love him and look up to him as one of my lifetime heroes. It’s been that way most of my life and even more so these days as I find myself doing the very things with my kiddos that he did with me.

However, I do remember a time when I didn’t look at my dad in that loving, respectful way. It was part of my growing and maturing that bent me towards independence. I looked at my dad with an eye of criticism; mostly thinking he was out of touch, out of style, and behind the times. Seriously, there were some short shorts with color-striped gray tube socks. It wasn’t a good look. Now, however, I find myself firmly in that stage of fatherhood. I know that I appear “dorky” at times and that my kiddos are having those same kind of thoughts more and more every day.

All-in-all I am completely okay with this and ready to see what God has in store for my family in the next few years to come. The main thing I have learned through this process of self realization, it is that time is fleeting. James 4:14 reminds us just how short life is- “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

My son and daughter no longer fit in my lap and I can’t hold them as they fall asleep on my chest and drool on my shirt. Their days under our roof are fewer and fewer. My job is to grab each of those days, live them to the fullest, and attempt to impart as many tidbits of wisdom as I can. Even if I do so with my own fashion faux pas version of the gray tube socks with colored stripes.