Comparison Traps

He was mad. Not in a fun way either. He was ticked that he couldn’t draw like I could.

My 10 year old was struggling with the drawing app we put on his iPhone. (its our old iPhone 4 that only has games and messenger on it) We loaded an app on there because he saw dad drawing and wanted to draw too.

He considers himself an artist. He wants to be like dad. The funny thing is, Dad doesn’t consider himself much of an ‘artist’ in the ‘draw-cool-pictures-or-paint-pretty paintings’ sense of the word “artist”.

But that’s what he remembers. When he was little, I carried around a small notebook that I would sketch in. It was a season of my life that I revisit every once in a while. It usually comes on during periods of time when I feel a transition happening. (This past fall was the last time the artist bug came out in me).

He saw dad drawing, and saw dads drawings, and wanted to be an artist.

Today, he got mad because his drawings weren’t as good as Dads.

The comparison trap

I had to chase him down and remind him of our age differences. I do have 30+ years on him. Plus, God makes us all different – and his art will never look exactly like my art. Plus, I don’t draw very well with technology yet either.

But. Comparison.

I told him, “Buddy – I am never in competition with you. Ever.”

Is it a boy thing?

My dad is a banker. He was the CEO of the largest bank in the state of Kansas when I was growing up. Always a suit. Always a Cadillac. Always 9 to 5. Always seeing people acknowledge him as a business man. A Leader. A Banker.

Somewhere in me, I wanted to be like my dad. Yet, I hated math. Didn’t want to wear suits. Enjoyed music, performing and theatre (you can tell I really enjoyed theatre because I spell it the artsy fartsy way). I like reading.

The way God created me, was not how he created my Dad. I certainly believe Dad appreciates the artistic kid he raised, but growing up, it may not have been that easy to relate to me.

My son happens to be more like me than I am my dad. But he’s also like his mom.

I want to embrace his gifts, his similarities to me AND his differences, and … well, all of him. I want him to be his own unique person –  not competing with his dad for something that he isn’t competing with at all!

Books Read 2014

Every year, I try to keep an accurate list of books I have read during the last 365 days. This year, I wanted to pass on my list just in case there are some that might be of interest to you.
library photo
Most of these I completely finished, there are a couple that I left incomplete, or are still in the process of reading (which would technically make them 2015 books!).

I broke the list into three sections – Listened to, Kindle books and Regular books. I have found that I don’t retain as much while reading on a Kindle, but it is super handy, and cheaper then having stacks of paperbacks. I just have to be diligent about keeping notes, which I do in Evernote.

Stu’s Books Read 2014


Wild Mind – Natalie Goldberg
Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
Face The Music – Paul Stanley


No Brand is an Island – Robert D. Smith
Messages – John Michael Hileman
Fat Vampire – Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt
Wool – Hugh Howey
Conversations with Carlin – Larry Getlen
Choose Yourself – James Altucher
Writing Habit Mastery – Steve Scott
Money Words – Ray Edwards
How To Write a Non Fiction Ebook in 21 Days – Steve Scott
Creativity Inc – Ed Catmull
The Good News About Marriage – Shaunti Feldhahn
Secrets Of The Secret Place – Bob Sorge
Eyes of Integrity: The Porn Pandemic and How It Affects You ( Resource)
Pure Eyes – Craig Gross
Secrets of Dynamic Communications – Ken Davis
Clean – Doug Weiss
Master Evernote – Steve Scott
How to Write, Format, Publish and Promote your Book (Without Spending Any Money) – Derek Murphy
Podcasting Good to Great – Jared Easley
Fathered By God – John Eldgredge (some)
Baptism of Love – Leif Hetland
Sonship: A Journey into the Fathers Heart – James Jordan
Completely His: Loving Jesus Without Limits – Shannon Ethridge
Dialogue with God – Mark Virkler
The Lost Art of Practicing His Presence – James Goll (not finished)
Write Publish Repeat (most) – Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt
Writing Online (most) – Sean Platt


Good Morning – Dick B.
By the Power of God – Dick B.
Launch – Jeff Walker
Decisive – Chip and Dan Heath
Wealthy Speaker 2.0 –  Jane Atkinson
Experiencing God Bible Study – Henry Blackaby
If You Want to Walk On Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat (still reading) – John Ortberg


What did you read in 2014?

Seasons Change: On Eleven Years of Marriage

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ~Henry Ford

A couple Sundays ago, we celebrated eleven years of marriage. It was a good day with not much pomp and circumstance. We celebrated with dinner at Logan’s (a family favorite), and Dean and I shared a mountain of ice cream and hot fudge brownie that Lisa wouldn’t touch.

She was the wise one actually, I began to feel it right away. I’m all right. It was worth every gooey-marshmallow-chocolate-creamy bite.

What makes eleven years of marriage? Working together. Being a team.

When we began our relationship – it was because we were attracted to each other physically and mentally. We understood one another (we thought), we liked each others humor (we thought). We were enamored with finding something ‘new’ we hadn’t had before.

We did lots of ‘wrong’ stuff in our journey to marriage. We’ve spent many of the hours in our 4,017 days together praying for God to grant forgiveness and grace. We ask each other for the same.

We believe in one another now in a way we had no idea about when we began. How can you know that you are going to become so entwined, so reliant on this other person when you begin the journey?

We have a child now – a great blessing… and a great stretching and growing opportunity (if you know what I mean).

We’ve gone through five or so moves with one another. All of them with a lead fire hydrant that I acquired when I was single. It was funny to move that thing the first couple times, mildly humorous the middle times, and dreadful the last move. Sure, it makes a great story, but I don’t think it will make the next move with us. (I don’t know how I’m going to get rid of it exactly)

Quirks at the beginning of marriage are funny or cute, then become more of a hassle or annoyance, and then you learn that your spouse is molded and shaped differently than you are, and you can’t change them.

Only Yourself.

Its a process of growing up and growing together.

Our seasons of work have changed. God seems to bless our family by allowing one or the other of us to be the primary bread winner for a season, while the other primarily manages the home. But that will change too.

You can’t know when you begin what all of the changes will be. And sure, if you are just getting started in marriage, you say an eager “Of course I can handle the changes that will come!” But remember that ‘of course’ when the times aren’t so easy in the future.

Here at the beginning of Fall is a great reminder for those of us who are married types, or soon to be married.

Seasons change.

We are stronger together and can come through difficulties by weathering the seasons together. Some sunny, some rainy, some cloudy, some brisk and refreshing.

When you walk, or hobble, out of a storm, you may not LIKE each other at that moment. Yet, you stay together because feelings change minute to minute, but the willful act of love should never be determined by our feelings.

We chose this path. We chose this relationship. We chose this life. We made the decisions we made. Some better than others. We stand by them, or we make them right by managing the outcomes as they happen.

We manage them together.

We love deeply. Not the ooey-gooey emotional love of the beginning of a relationship. We love with an earned respect, an earned admiration. A love that says I’ve have seen you in the ups, and the downs, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

A Simple Idea for Spending time with Your Kids While Spending No Money

Lisa and I both work from the house, so finding things to do with our son can sometimes be a challenge (like hanging out during the summer months). We have lots of great churches in the area that provide VBS during the summer, but we don’t want to ‘over VBS’ him – because it IS summer…and its ok for him to be bored…just a bit.

This idea happened during the summer, but you really could do it anytime.

One afternoon he and I were hanging out while Mom was working, and we decided to find a letterbox. Letterboxing is like a scavenger hunt in your city where you find hidden boxes filled with rubber stamps and a notepad. You stamp their notepad, and also use their stamp to stamp your notebook. Then you hide the box again for the next person to find! (Here’s more info making it clearer, and no that isn’t the idea, but letterboxing is free too)

We found one that was hidden close to our mall, so after finding it, we decided to grab something to drink inside.

On a whim, I thought it would be fun to do a scavenger hunt in the mall. I made a quick list of 10 things that I thought we might be able to find, and then we searched thru the mall to find them.

We didn’t buy anything, we merely checked each item off our list when we saw the ‘thing’.

Here was our list:

  1. A Green Shirt
  2. Someone wearing flip flops
  3. a Red “R”
  4. Mickey Mouse on Something
  5. Basketball (picture or real)
  6. Something that looks like a fire
  7. Unwrapped Straw
  8. Something Pink in a bottle
  9. Tennessee Titans Logo
  10. Beanie Boo

The Beanie boo was the most difficult thing because he wanted to buy one. Also, it took us a while to find Mickey, but then we went to the Hallmark store. Then we found several…and just marked down how many we actually saw!

So there is a quick fun idea that didn’t cost anything other than a drink in the food court – and really, you don’t even need to do that.

It’s one of those things where you are spending intentional time with your child and making a memory in the process. Lots of fun, and really easy. And the list can be anything you can come up with off the top of your head.

Get Me a Hamburger and Step On It. (I can’t believe I did it)

Lisa and I plus Grandma were talking at the dinner table about the foods Dean used to to eat when he was little. He was a pasta fiend. Especially lasagna.

From ages one to two he inhaled lasagna like there was no tomorrow. Then somewhere about four, it all changed. He wouldn’t touch the stuff. We still don’t know what that’s all about. He laid off all meat ‘type’ products until he was about 6.

Then he began to like to chicken and hamburgers. For some reason he won’t go back to pasta. But I’m sure that’ll happen.

We’re talking about this in front of him at the dinner table. He was visibly upset, but I assumed it was because he wasn’t eating the one pork-n-beans ‘bean’ we had put on his plate to try before he could be excused.

Apparently, it wasn’t about the bean. It was about the embarrassment of being talked about at the dinner table. Which he told me later.

Poor kid.

I understood his embarrassment.

…And Step On It!

Legend has it that my Grandpa wanted a cheeseburger.

It was one of those special visits from the Grandparents, and Dad must have been making burgers on the grill.

Three year old, bright eyed Stu was eager to help out any way possible.  When Grandpa asked little Stu to

“Get me a hamburger and step on it”

I knew just what to do.

And yes, you know where this is going. If you don’t, you’ve never had a small LITERAL child running around your house.

I grabbed the burger from dad and got it over to Grandpa. Dropped it on the floor. And stepped on it.


Needless to say, that story was put on parade for as many Christmases, Thanksgivings, and birthdays as I can remember.

It was always told right along with stories of other funny things I did as a kid which I’ll have to tell you about later.

But I remember that embarrassment  too.

Story as a way to remember

Its a funny thing, stories.

They help us remember events – especially of the ones we love. You probably can come up with at least one or two from your kids, or your parents or grandparents if you just sit here for a second and think about it.

They connect us in ways that nothing else can.

As Dean told me he was upset and embarassed about us talking about his dislike of Lasagna , I told him I enjoy him as he’s growing up. Then I told him some of the best ways to enjoy one another are to tell stories.  And my intent wasn’t to embarrass, but to celebrate him and the memories we have shared.

Then I told him my ‘Step on it’ Story…which got a good laugh and a… “Can I go tell Mom!!?”


Do you have a (least) favorite family story that everyone loves to share during the family get together?