My son, Ryan, had a basketball tournament for he was selected to be a part of the 15 and under team for the 7th Asia Pacific Youth Cup in Singapore. I flew on a Thursday morning to watch his games. Friday night, I flew back to Manila because our church had a Marriage Retreat my wife and I were supposed to teach in Tagaytay.
We drove up to Tagaytay for the retreat and I packed again that night to run to the airport at 1 AM to catch the red-eye flight back to Singapore. I had someone preach for me at the services I would normally be in – the 10 am and 12-noon services at Victory Fort.
I was so thankful for my younger sister who works for an airline that gives travel vouchers to family members. But since it was a travel voucher, I was merely on chance passenger status.
I got there 2:15 am and was told that the flight was overbooked. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get in. To top it, there were 2 other chance passengers trying to catch the flight. I was told to come back 45 minutes before the flight was to leave. Long story short, I was anxious, exhausted and grumpy.
When I got to the line 45 minutes, I was grateful that there were 25 no-shows for that day. I secured a seat! And I was able to join my son again for the rest of the Singapore trip.
Why did I do that? Why come back to teach and then go back to Singapore?
I reckon that our church can have many pastors but my son can only have one dad.
It has been my prayer to never sacrifice family on the altar of ministry.
Our third child, Ryan, recently turned 13. And for some reason, he had the crazy idea of cycling from Tokyo to the foot of Mount Fuji and then hike up to the summit. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It was his passage into becoming a man and my passage of officially realizing that I’m old.
Biking 110 kilometers through several hills and a couple of mountains was not fun. I had to ask myself, “Why am I doing this again?”
This question came up again as we were hiking up to the summit of Mt. Fuji (3,776 m). We would stop and rest. And when we would, I would end up literally asleep for a few moments. When I would wake up, I would literally think I was in a bad dream… a nightmare, actually.
Because we had a lot of time to think and talk, we came up with a few life lessons along the way. Allow me to share them with you.
1. When you fall, just pick yourself up and move on.
At the summit, the winds were strong. They were as strong as 50 kph. Everyone had to stay low and duck many times as the strong winds would come by.
Walking was even a challenge. So there were times we would be swept by the wind and fall. We can choose to stay on the ground or just pick ourselves up and continue. We continued.
Life’s like that. We get hit and fall. The choice is ours. Will we stay knocked out or pick ourselves up and keep moving forward?
2. Don’t miss on what is happening now because you’re in a hurry to see what will happen next.
As we were climbing down from the summit, we were just so excited to go back to base camp and rest. But because we were in such a hurry, we were missing a lot of the stunning view.
Life offers too many beautiful events and experiences. When we are in such a hurry, we miss out on the lessons, messages and the simple joys life has to offer.
3. Preparing is hard work but being ill-prepared is harder.
We trained. We prepared. We got ready.
I read up on a lot of those that did what we did.
But somehow, we weren’t as prepared for what we were going to go through. And boy it was tough.
Preparation is hard work. But it’s harder if we are ill-prepared.
4. Keep your eye on the goal.
While biking, as long as we could see Mt. Fuji from afar, we were encouraged to keep going.
We will be discouraged, exhausted and tempted to quit. But as we keep our eyes on the goal, we will eventually get there – one step at a time.
Keeping your eyes on the goal will keep you from quitting.
5. Trust the GPS.
As we cycled from Tokyo to Fuji, I had my Google maps on. I would tell Ryan to turn left when we needed to or turn right as necessary. But there were times he had his earphones on and we would miss a turn because he couldn’t hear me say “turn left.”
God knows which way is the best. He knows the GPS well because He planned it. But because we have too many voices in our ears, we get distracted. Thus, we miss our turn and end up in a place where we didn’t want to be in.
But thank God that, by His grace, He is able to cause all things to work together for our good. As we listen to His voice, He reroutes and gets us back on track.
6. We will face uphill challenges along the way, but in the end, it’s all worth it.
This was what we were trying to convince ourselves about the whole time we were trekking for a total of 8 hours to the summit.
“This will be worth it.”
And it was
The view of the sun rising from the summit was more than amazing.
Life will throw us a few curveballs and get us through uphill climbs. But if we are convinced that this is where God has placed us this season, then when we get to our destination, we will realize that it was all worth it.
7. Don’t just look forward to the destination; enjoy the journey as well.
We so badly wanted to reach the summit that we didn’t even talk to each other. Our legs were hurting and our eyes were shutting due to lack of sleep.
But managing to chat, interact, reminisce, and reflect on these lessons also became a highlight in the end.
To watch snippets of our adventure, I’ve posted 2 videos below of our bike trip and our hike up to the summit of Mt. Fuji.
Monday mornings are usually basketball pick up games for me, several pastors, campus ministers and those in full time ministry like LA, Patrick, Owie, Roel, etc. Others who are professional students like Josh join us too. (peace Josh!)
One of the advantages of homeschooling is that I get to bring Ryan, my 8 year old, with me. That can be considered as his P.E. class (haha).
While he was practicing his shots, I was sitting by the sidelines watching him.
I, then, noticed a pattern. After he takes a shot, whether he makes it or not, he looks at me to check my reaction.
I usually give him a thumbs up sign or a nod to acknowledge his efforts – whether he makes the shot or not.
Dads, our kids look to us for a reaction, response or approval which is why it is critical to stay close and stay positive.
Giving a thumbs up sign not just because of achievement but primarily for effort is well worth it.
Just a reminder to all the dads out there, our kids are watching. And how we respond can either build or break their confidence.
On the third inning, right before going back to the field coming from the dugout, he comes to me and asks me a question.
“Dad, am I doing well? Am I doing well?”
It’s interesting how kids come up to their parents to get encouragement as a young camel goes to a pool of water after a long journey.
They want it, need it and look for it.
Most especially from dads.
If I may address the dads out there for a moment. Take extra time encouraging your kids – especially your girls.
You’ve heard it said that if they don’t get that from you, they’ll try to get it from other guys outside your home. That’s true.
A few random thoughts on encouraging your kids.
1. Catch them doing right more than doing wrong.
In other words, watch out for moments when they’re doing well and then praise them for it. It is natural to see the tiny black spot on a big wide white wall. Instead of noticing the big white wall, we tend to notice the tiny spot. Catch them doing right.
2. Be generous.
Affirm as often as you can. You’d rather be generous with your words of affirmation. Words are like seeds. You’ll never know which ones will take root and bear fruit.
3. Be sincere.
Use a variety of words. Kids know when you’re just being ‘nice’ because you are their parents. Mean it and let it come from the heart.
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. (Proverbs 18:21, NLT)
Something very unfortunate happened this morning. After an awesome Victory group meeting with several men from church, I got home only to find out that one of my kids accidentally spilled water on the laptop.
I went berserk and ballistic to say the least. Afterwhich, I grabbed the laptop to bring it to one of the PowerMac service centers to get it fixed.
After coming home, I called my son. He immediately said, “I am so so so sorry dad. Please forgive me.”
To this I replied, “I am so sorry I got upset. Do you know that you are more important than the laptop?”
Upon hearing this, to my horror, he shook head. With tears welling up in his eyes, he emphasized his response to my question by another shaking of the head.
When I started this post saying something unfortunate happened, I wasn’t talking about the laptop. I was talking about a realization. I just communicated with my 7 year old that that piece of machine was more valuable than he was.
I had to immediately repent to God and ask my son for forgiveness. I hugged him and with ‘sweaty eyes’ as I looked at his dispirited face.
“Ryan, I am so sorry for making you feel that way. I was wrong. You are more important to me than anything in this world. Can you please forgive me?”
“I forgive you dad. I am sorry more.”
Hugs followed. Glad he was very forgiving.
I can be such a jerk of a dad sometimes.
Heavenly Father, please pour out your grace to help me be the dad You want me to be for my kids.
Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.