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Do I Know You? March 19, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Friends, Life.
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I despise the phrase “How are you doing?”  Perhaps despise is a bit of an exaggeration.  I really don’t mind if other people ask me that question.  I recognize that for some people this phrase is their standard greeting – I don’t begrudge them that.  But when it comes out of my own mouth, I always wince – because I know what it implies.  It implies that I don’t really know you well enough to know how you’re doing or what’s going on in your life.

I feel that if I really know someone, I shouldn’t ever need to ask them that question.  Let me illustrate.

I don’t ever ask Carey or my kids “How are you doing?”  Why?  Because I know what’s going on in their lives so I’m going to ask specific questions like “How was your lunch with so and so today?” or “What happened during your presentation at school?” or “What did your friend say when you asked them about coming over next weekend?”  I’m going to ask informed questions and then deduce “how they are doing” from their feedback.

I think this spills over into praying for one another.  If I have to ask “How can I pray for you?” either I haven’t been paying attention or we’re not talking about what’s truly important.

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Vagal Response Strikes Again January 21, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Life.
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One day I’ll compile a book of all these episodes.  As of right now, I only have three of them so it wouldn’t be a very long book.  I’ve had a lot of close calls (particularly when I’ve visited people in the hospital or during the birth of my children) but so far just 3 times when I passed out.

Last night we went to see the musical Jekyll and Hyde at the Civic Center.  Not unusual, as we go see lots of musicals.  I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this one.  I’ve read the book (which is a great read) but didn’t really see how it would be all that entertaining as a musical.  It’s dark and tragic – not generally the thing you imagine people dancing around the stage singing to.

So we get to the part of the story where Dr. Jekyll injects himself with the serum.  Now I’m 5 rows from the back of the balcony.  I can’t see anything disturbing.  But my mind takes off and I start getting more and more uncomfortable as I imagine what’s happening.  I try closing my eyes, thinking of other stuff – nothing is working.  I think about lying down on the floor, but I’m still hoping that I can get through this.  I lean back in my chair…

The next thing I know is I feel like I’m in a dream.  It seems like I should be doing something but I don’t know what.  People are talking.  I’m hearing weird music and singing (Jekyll).  And I realize I’m being carried somewhere but I’m not sure by whom.  It’s kind of a cool feeling – being in the fog, nothing really registering – it was very peaceful.

Then of course I start coming around, people are asking me silly questions like my name and address.  My senses come back slowly in order – first I could hear clearly, then my vision came into focus, then I could speak, then smell, then feel what I was laying on.  I laid out in the hall way til intermission while a paramedic talked with Carey.  They brought a wheel chair to take me down to the car.  I went home, had some orange juice and pizza.  Finished a paper for school (who knows if it’s coherent), then laid on the couch and watched Hannah Montana with Madi and Emma until Carey got back.

The only thing I can tell that is worse for the wear is I got a nice bruise on my shin, probably from bumping into something while I was being carried out.  This is the life of a man with a vagal response.  When I tell people that blood and needles makes me queasy I don’t think they understand that it’s a bit more serious than nausea.

Until next time…

Orchestra Trip May 15, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in Life.
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Spent all day Friday with the Middle School orchestra from Classen SAS.  We took a couple of charter buses to Dallas for a performance at a festival.  All in all it was an enjoyable day.  Loud, but enjoyable.

It was enjoyable because I got to hang out with Madi for the day.  I’m grateful that she wanted me to come on the trip and wanted me to sit by her on the bus.  I know not to take that for granted.

Madi’s group, Strings 1, did a phenomenal job and got a Superior rating for their performance.  After that we spent the afternoon at an amusement park and the evening at a mall.

I thought the ride back would be more subdued because the kids were tired.  Not quite.  It was so loud on the bus that I could barely hear the music from my ear buds.  And what would make a long trip home on a loud bus full of 6th graders even better?  Vomit.  Fortunately I did not have to clean it up.  But I did hold a flashlight for moral support.

We arrived home at midnight.  Great day, but glad to be home.

You of Little Faith April 10, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in God, Life.
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I was reminded yesterday of how small my faith is.  Sometimes I pretend to be exercising faith in God, but it’s really just a smoke screen for me to keep believing in myself.

There are 2 opportunities that I’ve been “praying” about for the past 6 months.  Both of these were things I hoped our family could do this coming year.  Both opportunities would require a size-able amount of money.  When I first began to pray about them, it was just a request of my Father who I know loves me and I trust knows what is best for me and my family.

But very quickly, probably within the first month of regularly praying about them, I began to develop a game plan for how they could happen.  I soon realized that trying to save enough money for both opportunities was impossible, so I immediately wrote off the first one.

As I kept strategizing, I decided that we could use our tax refund for the second opportunity.  I began to set my hope there and started planning accordingly.

After 4 more months of “praying”, our tax refund came in at substantially less than I’d hoped for.  Because I had this all worked out in my head, I took this as a sign that God was saying no to the second opportunity.

You’ve probably already spotted my faulty logic, but I didn’t until yesterday when I came across the prayer card I had originally made for these opportunities.  Yesterday I saw clearly that I wasn’t trusting God.  I wasn’t placing my hope in His care and provision.  I was just spiritualizing my self-made plans and practically living as a Deist.

I don’t know if God wants the Carters to do either of these things.  However I’ve begun to pray about them again and am choosing to leave the results in His hands and trust His sovereignty in the matter.

Gospel Powered Parenting March 26, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in Life.
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ImageLast week I finished reading Gospel Powered Parenting.  It was hands down the best book I’ve read in the past year (and I’ve read some good ones).  Obviously my stage of life plays a significant role in why I found this book so helpful.  I suppose if you aren’t a parent you wouldn’t find it as compelling.

Rarely do non-fiction books get better and more interesting with each passing chapter.  GPP accomplished that.  It was so good that I started expecting a drop-off in quality but it never came.

I could fill several blog posts with thought provoking quotes from Farley, but instead I want to share a couple of reasons why this book stands apart from other parenting books I’ve read.

First, the Gospel permeates every page.  This is unique because many books on parenting focus on the inherent goodness of your child.  But the Gospel is good news because it is a solution to a problem.  The biggest problem my kids have is the sin that dwells within.  If I don’t address that fundamental problem, my trajectory for discipline and training will be skewed.

Second, (one of the light bulb moments for me) effective parents equip their children not by changing and controlling their environments but by going after their hearts.  After our children have made a decision to follow Jesus, we need to lean into their new birth to bring new desires – more so than expecting our rules and boundaries to control them.  Because of this, effective discipline addresses more than actions and behavior – it also seeks to address attitudes and heart motivation.

There is so much more that I gleaned and that we have begun to put into practice.  If you are a parent and will only read one book this year (other than the Bible), I’d recommend this one.  If you are a father and not much of a reader, I’d encourage you to buy the book and read chapter 7.  After reading that chapter, I think you’ll be so aware of your need for help that you’ll probably end up reading the rest of the book.

I’m grateful for William Farley and his willingness to share his failures, his successes and what he has learned about raising children who love Jesus.

Anticipating my need February 1, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in God, Life.
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Saturday was challenging for me.  I have several friends who are going through difficult seasons right now, and as their pastor I get to share in their burdens.  I was feeling overwhelmed by the needs and didn’t know if I had the capacity to minister to them.

Little did I know, Saturday night several of my other friends had seen the needs and began to talk about how they could rearrange their schedules to help.  Before I even began to ask God for help, He was already providing it.

Tuesday morning in my journal I asked God to provide people to help in each of these circumstances.  Tuesday afternoon I had coffee with a friend from the second group who informed me that they had talked over the weekend and brainstormed about how they could help.

All I could think this morning is that God is Good.  He knew my need before I asked.  Even when I was in the midst of despair over the need, He was providing a solution.  But He didn’t reveal the answer to me right away.  He allowed me to remain in the place of uncertainty for a couple of days.  During that time I was reminded of my insufficiency and my need for Him.  And that is good, because I forget that regularly.

He is a Good Father and I am honored to be one of His sons.

I can’t spell that January 17, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in Life.
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Emma came home with some unique spelling words last week.  I guess they are appropriate since we live in OKC, but I don’t know how helpful they will be for her on the SAT someday.

Kevin Durant

Russell Westbrook

Serge Ibaka

Thabo Sefolosha

Chesapeake Energy Arena

The King and I January 9, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in Life, Music.
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Time flies when you’re having fun and I’ve been having fun now for 35 years.  Yesterday was a busy day to have a birthday – didn’t really have much time to stop and enjoy the moment.  However, that is the beauty of celebrating a birthweek.  You don’t have to feel pressure to enjoy your actual birthday, because you can spread out the celebration over the entire week.

I used some birthday money to celebrate with a new pair of shoes today.  I feel like a new man.  The King who was kind enough to share his birthday with me also enjoyed a good pair of shoes.  He had one pair in particular that he was especially fond of.  It’s probably an unhealthy attachment, but it makes for good music.

10 years of Emma October 4, 2011

Posted by clintcarter in Family, Life.
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10 years ago this week our lives got a lot more exciting.  We knew things would be different but I don’t think any of us were ready for Emma.

Without a doubt I can say that our lives would have been much more dull if God had not blessed our family with her.  Emma brings an energy and enthusiasm to everything she touches.  This has been a cause for great frustration at times and great laughter at others.

There have been moments throughout Emma’s life when I wasn’t sure she would live to see her next birthday because of various incidents where she pushed her mom’s patience to the breaking point.  Thankfully those moments have become fewer and fewer with each passing year.

Emma has really started to blossom over the last year.  She is showing more and more responsibility at home.  She is diligent with her schoolwork and violin.  She has a sensitive heart and cares deeply for those around her.  She loves to cut up with grown-ups and is always saying something funny.

Emma, your Dad loves you very much.  You make my heart happy and I love spending time with you.

The year of kisses September 13, 2011

Posted by clintcarter in Family, Life.
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My days of baby/toddler/preschool displays of affection are drawing to an end.  Not that I don’t give regular kisses and hugs to my other kids, but everyone in the room would be uncomfortable if I was carrying Emma around and giving her continuous kisses on her cheeks and forehead 🙂

It seems backwards how affectionate we are toward babies yet as a child grows our physical displays of affection diminish.  I am more amazed by Madi now and love her so much deeper than I did 11 years ago when I first met her in the hospital.  Yet now I only express it through a couple of hugs each day and a kiss on her forehead before she goes to bed.

Yesterday Alli crawled up into my lap while we were all playing Mario Kart just to kiss me on the cheek and lay her head against mine.  That won’t be the case much longer.  I’m trying to enjoy these moments, but can’t help but realize that they are almost over.

Maybe that’s what makes being a grandparent so magical.  You get another chance to display elaborate affection, but this time you realize how precious those moments are.