Pastor and Dad Thoughts After Watching “The Bachelor”

Blondie #2 (my younger daughter) and I keep up on The Bachelor together. I know that may sound weird, but it actually provides good Dad/Daughter conversations about dating, guy/girl relationships, etc.
I haven’t spoken to my daughter about this episode yet. And I know she already knows this, so this is more for others in this stage of life. Here is my general thought after watching this evening’s episode and seeing beautiful young women depart in tears, not chosen, and blaming themselves, and saying they wish they knew what it was because if they knew, they would “fix it”. Here is my my pastoral and fatherly word to all young people.. men or women .. who are in that wonderful, delightful, terrifying, exciting, embarrassing, deflating, exhilarating time of life known as “dating”…

Know This:

You do NOT need to “FIX” anything. You are a wonderful, intentionally-brought-into-the-world-by-a-God-who-LOVES-you creation of wonder, intelligence and beauty. You are a marvel… as YOU. NOT as someone else who you may be tempted to think you are supposed to be or need to be.

Dad and C & C

Do NOT let the world (or even another person) define you or your worth, your “beauty” or your value. God created you to be YOU.. .and the more you grow in confidence of who that wonder, YOU, IS… the more your joy and beauty (inner and outer) will radiate to the world. You do not need to be “fixed,” dear people looking for the love of your life. You are already the whole package.

So, be YOU. Develop YOU. Grow in YOU.. and let Christ shine in and through you, and that love.. that RIGHT love.. WILL enter your life… in God’s perfect and purposeful time and place.

You are loved.

+ Pastor Jonathan, Dad, Friend

Empty Nest

Jana and I spent the summer and early fall at Mount Carmel Family Camp and Retreat Center in Alexandra, MN.  I have been the Interim Director of Programming there the last two years and Jana has been working as their Director of Development.

As a result of being away from our home in Cedar Rapids until just a few days ago, we are aware that our empty-nesting phase had not really begun until now.  It was easy to feel like both our daughters were just “away at camp” this summer … or like we were were all on some sort of “extended leave of absence” from normal life.  Swenson_0031

So this past Thursday was our first full day back in Cedar Rapids… and thus, the first official day of Jana and I being empty-nesters in our actual home…. and under “normal” conditions. We did enjoy the six weeks of early fall quite a bit … going on several long walks, dating more than we have been able to do… talking and dreaming about the future … but we also realized we were not yet fully experiencing life, emotionally, without the girls around. Now that we are home, it is feeling more real.  The days of watching those two little blondies, loaded down with backpacks, heading off to school… are now a thing of the past.  Good… no….  GREAT memories, but memories nonetheless.

And so, a new chapter begins…

Thoughts at the two month mark of empty-nesting? Though it is less crazy-fun and more quiet, I do like getting to know my wife again. I feel like we are EACH getting an old friend back. Not that that person ever left, but the reality is… one’s attention is divided the from the moment the first baby is born, and this is as it should be. But, truth be told, I DO like getting my friend back. (I THINK Jana does too.) 

So, here’s to the new phase… and whatever life will bring. This much I know… though we drive each other crazy at times… the truth is… I love my wife.

I do miss those Blondies somethin’ fierce.. but this is okay. I’ve got a good roommate to keep me company.

So, here we go, Jana Swenson. Let’s do this thing…