5 Things I've Learned About Being a Dad

Almost 2 years ago, I became a father. My daughter was born November 2014 and our lives have never been the same.

People told us things would be different. Some tried to tell us life would be extremely different. 

But I'm here to tell you, it's completely different. 

The things we think about, dream about, and talk about are all different than they were before. The items we purchase, the conversations we have...all different.

And it's a good different. 

Some people think of parenthood and picture vomit, diarrhea, and not sleeping. Those things are definitely present (in vast quantities at times), but fathering a tiny human is far more than that. 

I've learned more about myself and what it means to have the heart of a Father.

Below are 5 things I've learned since becoming a Dad:

#1 - I'm capable of WAY more than I thought.

Nothing spells exhaustion like getting less than 5 hours a sleep a night...for a whole month. But even when running on fumes, I was still able to wake up in the morning, go to school to work on my Master's degree, then go to my part-time job, and come home to help cook/clean/give-my-wife-a-break. I was still able to have friendships. (And boy did I value friendships during that time...thanks for the free meals friends!)

Looking back at those first few months of my entry into fatherhood, I realize that I'm capable of way more than I thought. I could actually function as a partial human being! I did say partial...

#2 - My heart can explode every day.

Seriously. This is no joke. I look at my daughter and I feel my heart pulsating with love and pride. "Look at my most bestest creation!" It's incredible to think that this beautiful little person is part-me and part-my-wife.

Being a Dad makes me say things like: 

"I just want to eat your FACE!"

"I could just squeeze you to death!"

"I wanna nibble your toes..."

And other canniballistic-type things...but I promise it's out of love, not sadistic hunger.

I have so much love for my daughter that I'm pretty sure I die once a day of an overstimulated heart.

#3 - I can experience the full range of emotions in 60 seconds.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, can make me teeter on the edge of utter insanity and complete euphoria...at almost the exact same time...

Except for being a parent.

This child that I love so much can do the most absolute sweetest thing that makes me dote all over her, and then half a second later do something that makes me want to scream and throw her across the room (Is that too real? If it is...you're not a parent. I now know why you're shown a "don't shake the baby" video at the hospital.)

If you're like me, you love to take personality quizzes and tests and figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Some of my strengths are things like responsibility, connectedness, and learning. My weakness? I don't have enough emotion. The quizzes I've taken basically say, "Are you even human? You don't feel anything!" My wife can attest to that.

But being a Dad? I've discovered all the emotions...and can span the entire emotional spectrum in a very, VERY short amount of time. I even cry more. It's terrifying. 

#4 - My desire to love, protect, and provide is strong.

When I first entered in to marriage, I realized a lot about myself. I wanted to love, protect, and provide for this woman God gave me. And in the almost 7 years we've been married I've vowed to do just that.

But over the last two years since my daughter's been born, my desire is the strongest it's ever been. My wife is a full-grown adult who can take care of herself all on her own. She doesn't need me. 

But my daughter? If left to herself, she would die. She needs her parents to take care of her. To feed her. Clothe her. Put her to bed. Sing to her. Pray for her. And the list goes on...

The lover and protector in me are fully alive in full force. I'm constantly thinking about how to provide for my family in the best way possible. How to keep them safe. How to keep them happy and healthy.

And I wouldn't change it for the world.

#5 - My marriage has to come first.

When you become a parent, it's easy to get sucked into only thinking about the needs of the child. But I had to remind myself of this truth: children are a temporary assignment. Marriage is for life. 

Now hear me: my children will ALWAYS be my children. Nothing can change that. But eventually, they'll grow up, move out of the house, meet someone, and have a family of their own. 

But my wife will be the person I go to bed with every night for the rest of my life. 

As important as it is to keep our children alive and train them up in the way they should go, I cannot neglect my marriage. We long to be a good example of what a strong marriage is for our children. So that when they get married, they have an example to look up to. 

My wife is my partner. My lover. My confidant. And my best friend. She has to come first. There will be seasons (like the newborn stage) when much of our focus and attention will be on providing for that child. But we must always come back to what's most important: our relationship with each other.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But it definitely encapsulates a lot of what I've learned.

Being a Father is hard, but so incredibly rewarding. There's absolutely nothing like it.

Question: If you're a parent, what are some things you've learned? Please share in the comments below!

Posted on October 24, 2016 .

Why Moving is Awful (and Awesome)


One of the top stressors in life.

And we've moved a total of 8 times in the last 7 years.

I don't know if it's because we enjoy change or just like to punish ourselves. 

It could be because we don't like our neighbors? Question mark? Nah, that can't be it. We don't stay anywhere long enough to actually get to know our neighbors. (True story.)

We're not in the military and we've only lived in 2 cities (so far). 

So why the heck do we move so much?!?

We're literally one day away from taking a moving truck from Colorado Springs to Portland, OR. It's beautiful out there and my wife's family is all out there. We've got a two-year-old and a bun in the oven, so being closer to family would be nice for the next few years. 

There are other reasons we're moving to Portland, but today I want to share with you what I've learned while moving a gazillion times. 

1. We have too much stuff.

Seriously?!? I don't get it. Even after moving 8 times in under a decade, we still accumulate stuff like it's going out of style...and it's definitely going out of style. Can you imagine if we had stayed in one place all those years? Actually, you probably can because that's probably you.

What is it about buying stuff that's so addictive? It's like a false high that lasts for maybe a week, then we want something new again. It's a sickness really. And I hate it. 

2. We don't have enough stuff.

And yet, in the midst of thinking we have too much stuff, we find a way to see all the stuff we don't have. You know, those boots, those chairs, that appliance, those clothes, that rug, that toy...and on and on it goes. 

Which leads me to the crazy realization that...

3. We still want more stuff!

Even after all the moving and all the dumping and all the trashing and all the donating over the last 7 years, we still say, "Ya, but I really want that new kettle..." (It's true...there's this sweet kettle I'd like to buy...)

It's madness! What amount of stuff is satisfying? Is there a secret formula? How does one find the sweet spot between having way too much and way too little? When do we have enough?

And that's also why I think moving is awesome.

When you're forced to take everything you own out of every cabinet, drawer and shelf...you have to ask yourself, "Is this worth putting in a box and moving it to another house?" 

If you pause and really think about the stuff you have, you'll begin to realize that most of it could disappear and you wouldn't even notice. 

So we get rid of stuff. Every. Time. We move. And I absolutely love it.

I feel lighter. Relieved. Empowered.

I feel in control. 

Question: Why do you think moving is awesome or awful? Leave a comment below!

Posted on October 17, 2016 .

What Do You Value?

In my last post, I mentioned asking questions to help people discover their values.

Today, I want to ask you straight up:

What do you value?

For me, I value being able to spend time doing the things that I love with the people I love. And many times, the things we do cost money. So I value being debt-free so I'm not a slave to a lender and can spend my money where I want when I want (as long as my wife is on board, of course). 

I also value being financially "cushioned." A cushion is something that's soft and absorbs weight. So the financial products and services I use are to protect me in case of a major blow. They soften the impact of a negative life event. For me, I have term life insurance, retirement savings, an emergency fund (self-insurance), and I'm a part of a health care sharing network (NOT insurance). 

I value having quality time with myself and with family and friends (both are vitally important for me, an introvert). To maximize the quality of my time, I need to minimize the number of things that distract and pull me away from that time. Things like constantly cleaning and picking up the house, or trying to keep a mental checklist of all the things I need to get done in a day. I have to clear away the clutter so that what remains is vital and important. 

I know I probably just lost some of you on the "cleaning and picking up the house." How do you limit the cleaning of your house? WHY would you limit that? I'll talk about that more in a later post. Stay tuned. :)

I value high-quality relationships. So I don't just spend time with anyone and everyone. From my perspective, that's a waste of time. I can't possibly give every person around me 100% of my focus and attention. It's not possible. So I'm selective with who I spend time with. I'd rather have a smaller number of really good and fruitful relationships, than a large number of surface relationships. 

These are just a few things that I value. But because I know what I value, I can make decisions based on a framework and not on a whim. And because of that framework, I'm in control of my time, money and relationships

Question: What are some of the things you value? How do you make decisions based on your values? Leave a comment below to discuss!

Posted on October 10, 2016 and filed under life design.

Why You Should Ask More Questions

Are you an answer-giver or a question-asker?

Let’s be honest...we all LOVE to be the ones that have the answers. We want people to come to us for advice or to help solve a person’s problem. That’s primarily why we speak up in conversations. We like to be heard. We like to give answers. We like to be right.

But is being heard, giving answers and being right all that beneficial?

Don’t get me wrong: people need answers. Absolutely. I just don’t think we should give them the way they’re usually given.

The wisest people in the world are those who ask more questions than they give answers.

I believe the best way to help others is to ask a lot of questions.

Here’s what I mean:

If a friend of mine comes to me for advice, it would be very easy for me to give him my opinion of what he should do. Easy peasy.


The more effective method would be to ask the right questions.

Here’s a simple example:

Friend: “Hey Derek, should I spend $3-4K on a used car now, OR finance a newer, more expensive car?”

Me: “That depends on a few things...like, is it more important for you to have a newer car now and be in debt, OR would you rather get by with an older car that works and will get you around and not have a car payment every month?”

Friend: “Well, I’d rather have the newer car now so I’m not worried about having to get things repaired. And I think I can afford it.”

Me: “Have you put together a monthly budget to be sure you can afford it? Have you listed out all your expenses and all your income to be absolutely sure?”

These are the types of questions I would ask in this situation.

Personally, I hate debt. So the answer for me is a no-brainer. I buy the cheaper car I can pay cash for, and save up for a newer and nicer car later.

But my answer is based on my values. I value being debt free.

Let’s look at another scenario.

Let’s say a friend is having relational problems with their boyfriend and they come to me for advice. I more than likely will not give an outright answer to their question. I will probe with more leading questions so that she will discover for herself what she should do.

Self-discovery is far more powerful
than being told what to do.

When you ask the right questions, people begin to reveal (or discover) their values. And values are how we make decisions.

So why ask questions? Because you can't force your values on someone else. You have to help them uncover their own.

And sometimes people don't even know what they value until they're asked.

That's why I ask questions. And that's why you should too.

Question: What situations have you found yourself in where asking questions would've been beneficial? How can you begin to implement question-asking into your conversations and problem-solving? Leave a comment below to discuss!

Posted on October 3, 2016 and filed under relationship, productivity.

Wig On? Let's Dance.

I don't know about you, but I don't always feel comfortable being myself. 

I'll be honest, I do have some "fear of rejection" in me that I'm constantly trying to work out and overcome. I want to be liked and appreciated for who I am! I'm sure you do too. 

We've either had experiences ourselves or, at the very least, KNOW someone who has been rejected just for being themselves. It's sad really.

But how often do we keep our guard up to self-protect, only to regret it later?

I once almost did a lip sync/air guitar cover of "We Built This City" by Starship at my church (long story...cool church). We all wore wigs and sunglasses while we rehearsed. I lip sang and danced all over the stage...so much so that I was panting and out of breath. And it was fun! The whole band seemed to be loving it. 

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have danced that way in front of anybody, anywhere, at ANY time. But for some reason, with a wig and sunglasses on, I felt protected. I felt liberated. I felt like myself.

Why did I need to put a wig on to feel like myself?

Deep down, I think we're all a little afraid to show who we really are. That shame goes all the way back to the beginning...in the garden with Adam and Eve. They covered themselves out of shame.  They were created "naked and unashamed," but became "covered and ashamed." (Whether you believe that story or not, there's still a principle to be extracted).

That principle still holds true today. That's why teenagers tend to act and behave like the people they think are cool. Heck, that's why adults tend to act and behave like the people they think are cool. Because we want to be accepted, liked, and appreciated.

But we're afraid people won't like or accept the real us.

I don't want to dance in front of just anybody. I'm afraid they'll think I'm a dweeb! Or some crazy person who should learn how to dance!


But should I let what other people might think of me

keep me from being who I really am?


Of course not! But there's two intentional changes that have to be made in order to feel more free:


1. Stop surrounding yourself with people who judge you


This might seem obvious, but how often are we trying to impress people that don't even really like us? Stop it. Just stop it. It's not worth your time or energy. 

The difficult part here is deciphering who's actually judging you and who you think is judging you. So many of us are insecure in relationships that we project our thoughts and feelings onto others. We assume people are judging us when, in fact, many times we're just being insecure. Learn to know the difference.


2. Start surrounding yourself with people you love and trust.


Again, this is obvious, but sometimes we try so hard to get people to like us, and we forget about those that already do! Most of us have at least one person in our life who loves us just the way we are. If we spent more time with those closest to us, I think we'd find that our lives would be more enriching and fulfilling.

When we invest in good relationships, our entire lives become healthier and more enjoyable.

Do NOT underestimate the power of those you surround yourself with. We need that love and trust. 

You may not ever be able to, or even want to, dance like a fool in front of total strangers. But you should have at least one person (hopefully a group of people) that you can take the wig off and be totally unashamed with. I have no shame dancing in front of my wife. She loves me and accepts me just the way I am...and she loves my quirky dancing. 

And that's enough for me. 

Question: Why should you surround yourself with people you love and trust? Why do you think self-protecting is so harmful? Leave a comment below!

Posted on September 25, 2016 and filed under relationship.