Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Back to Normalcy

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
(Ecc 3:1)

The month of June 2007 is almost behind us now. I will forever remember this month as the climax of the Jamestown 400 hunt that my family has been involved in since October/November 2006. We have learned a lot of history. Now that it is over, we are telling the story of the things that we’ve learned. I’m scheduled to speak today in my Toastmasters meeting. My topic will be a recap of the spectacular week of June 11-17.

Yet, even as this month ends, I rejoice in many ways that I can now turn my attention to some very important things that have been somewhat neglected over the course of the last seven months.

I believe that the age of 13 holds special significance in the lives of children. I see it as a time where children really begin the transformation from boys and girls to men and women. Because of this, I have purposed to make this birthday special. My oldest child is a girl. My next oldest is a boy. Brittney turned 13 in September 2006 (thankfully before the Jamestown contest ever started!). Michael III will turn 13 in December 2008. For Brittney, I authored a manuscript entitled, “Guidelines for a Southerland Lady.” In this book, I detail expectations that I have for my daughters and the blessings of being a woman of God. My wife and I took Brittney out for a very special breakfast where we presented her with this book and a silver, heart shaped ring, reminding her of the purity that God expects of us, and a tangible reminder that her virginity is saved for her husband. The book details that this goes much further than simply physical involvement, but also includes issues of the heart. Brittney is the oldest of seven children so far. So far she has two little sisters who will eventually be presented with the same, or a very similar, manuscript on their 13th birthdays.

Michael’s 2008 birthday looms just beyond the horizon. While this will be a time for great rejoicing, this deadline stays in front of me reminding me of what all I need to accomplish on his behalf. Whereas my manuscript for daughters is called, “Guidelines for a Southerland Lady,” my manuscript for sons will be called, “Charges for a Southerland Son.” I put a lot of good advice into my girl’s book. But, for my sons, my efforts are intensified. This has nothing to do with the degree of love I have for my sons vs. my daughters. Rather, God has ordained men to lead their families. As a father, I have a duty to instruct the sons God has entrusted unto me as to how to lead their families. I have put together a rough outline of the book, and have begun to put it together. Though my brother and I have had this idea for about three years, and did a little brainstorming together back then, I seriously began to work on this in November 2006. This date also corresponds to…guess what…the start of the Jamestown 400 contest! So, though I have made some progress, it is now time to buckle down and get this done. My vision is to have the finished work leather bound and embossed with the Southerland coat-of-arms. As Christ is our prophet, priest, and king, I believe that God also requires these three roles for husbands and fathers. I came to this conclusion largely after reading Phil Lancaster’s book, Family Man, Family Leader. Therefore, each section of this book concentrates on “charges” that relate to that particular role. Several duties overlap these roles. However, primarily the section on “prophet” will concentrate on how a man needs to speak vision into his family, as well as carry out discipline. The section on “priest” will show how a man needs to intercede on behalf of his family. This section will also detail how a man should teach his family the scriptures and sound theology. In the “priest” section, I am including the entire 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, with my own commentary after each section. I derived that inspiration from Sam Waldron’s book, A Modern Exposition of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Yet, in “my” version, I will explain why I believe what the confession states, and how it is proper for scripture to be interpreted in this way. If there are areas in which I disagree with the confession, I will list my scriptural reasons for disagreement. The section on “king” will describe the duties of a husband and father in protecting and serving his family. This protection extends to the three parts of a human being: spirit, soul, and body. No facet can be left unprotected or the enemy will exploit that weakness.

The book for the sons will be accompanied by one or more other significant gifts. I am still evaluating my plans in this area, but I love the significance of presenting him with a signet ring, a cloak, and a sword. These details are still in the making, though.

In the midst of these very important plans for my children’s future, I am also inspired to work on becoming self-employed. I have over 13 years of experience developing IVR systems and 19 years of computer programming experience. However, during that time I have always worked for someone else. I have recently discovered a way that I will be able to create and market IVR applications for myself. My first project is a real estate application. When we sold our home in Nashville, our realtor used an IVR system to allow prospective buyers to call a number printed on the sign. The system would give a good description of the property. It would also give very good reports to the realtor to notify them of who was calling the number and how often. My system will do all this and more. This system will notify the realtor (or private owner in a “for sale by owner” situation) via email or telephone call that they have an interested party. My system will allow appointments to be made to see the home. I will be able to offer this service to realtors or private individuals at a very cost effective rate. I will be compensated for my efforts by selling the use of this application to many clients, therefore removing the burden of any one client needing to pay me for my development time. This system will work anywhere in the continental US. (I will be researching whether it is available in Alaska and Hawaii.) I hope to serve a very underserved market of “for sale by owner” clients, as well as offering excellent service to professional realtors. If this sounds like something that you could use, please contact me at I will be maintaining my full time employment until such time as the Lord blesses me with enough business to branch out on my own.

So, while I was very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Jamestown 400, I’m actually glad that I can get back to “taking dominion” and take my head out of Virginia history books for a season.


Tanya @ Ever After Cottage said...

If I may suggest, in addition to your real estate IVR, you amy want to consider rewriting (to remove any personal references) and publishing the book you wrote to your daughter, as well as the one you are working on for your son. I would imagine there are many families who would like to give something like it to their own children, but don't have the command of the written language to do so.

Mike Southerland said...

Thank you Tanya for the suggestion. I'll definitely consider that.

The nice thing about it though, is that a father can write to his children, and his children can appreciate their father for who he is regardless of his writing style.

Though I'd love to help other fathers put similar things together, I imagine that the most appreciated words would come from his own thoughts and spirit.

If my books could be used as guidelines for other fathers to use in order to get started, and then they modified it for their own use, I'd be most pleased.