Episode 2 of my inconsistent Season 2 hosted over at www.iamnottheworldsgreatesdad.podbean.com
You can click here to listen
Episode 2 of my inconsistent Season 2 hosted over at www.iamnottheworldsgreatesdad.podbean.com
You can click here to listen
My faith is important to me and naturally, is something I want to share with others, including my sons. I am careful and prayerful in my approach, and trust in God’s love for and pursuit of my sons.
As a follower of Christ and as a minister my desire is for my sons to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Their own faith, not mine. My other desire is that I won’t mess them up too much in my endeavors.
During a conversation today, the topic of pastor’s kids who struggle in life or walk away from the faith came up. I’m aware of this reality and because I am aware of this reality I have made some decisions, right or wrong, for my family. I also understand full well that I cannot force my faith on to my children, but I can do my best at following Christ, journey with my sons, and point them to God.
Here are some of the decisions I have made that may or may not help guide the faith of my children.
1) While some “church” activities are optional, worship is not. We attend worship together as a family, and my prayer is that in this setting they will commune with Christ and experience the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. I hope this time will deepen their interest and relationship in Christ. In worship my sons have always participated as members of the congregation. No technology to entertain them. We have always had the expectation that they needed to experience worship in their own way, within their ability, and with their giftedness.
2) Some other “church” activities are optional.
3) We pray together as a family. We pray at meals. We pray at bedtime. We pray at other times as prayer is needed.
4) We have lots of conversations about faith and following Jesus. In these conversations Heidi, my wife and I, try to be as real, open, and authentic as we can be. We share what we believe, we share why, we share our struggles, we include Scripture, we share our experiences, and we share our hopes and dreams.
5) We make Bible’s available to our sons. They all have one. They all know how to read.
6) I pray for my sons. I haven’t read a lot of parenting books, but one of them I read had to do with the importance of parent’s praying for their children. Praying for your children is important.
7) The other parenting book I read had something to do with the importance of and ways to worship at home. This is important as well and we have done this by singing songs, reading stories, reading the Bible, praying, and having conversations.
8) We involve them in opportunities to reach out and minister to others. One of the best ways to teach our children to love and follow our faith, in my case a relationship with Jesus Christ, is to engage them in reaching out to others. When we do this, with our sons engaged in the ministry endeavor with us, we have opportunity share our reasons for helping others as followers of Jesus.
There might be other things, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment. Some of the rest may just happen during the normal routine of life.
Speaking of routine, my oldest son Samuel likes routine. The label is “Autism Spectrum,” and like all of us Samuel is a unique child of God who has a story to live out and important things to share with the rest of us. Anyway, Samuel likes routine. After worship on Sunday, Samuel rides home with me. Heidi, and the other two boys head home, and Samuel helps me lock up the church building. He gets the lights, I lock the doors, and then we head out to my SUV (Semi-Useful Van) for the ride home. Sometimes, like today, we have other jobs to do, and he helps me with those as well. Today we changed the church sign before we went home.
Once we get in the SUV our routine continues. We get in and buckle up, I turn the car on and back up into the main section of the parking lot, and Samuel turns on the radio and adjusts the setting to his favorite Country Music station 92.3 FM. Then I put the gas pedal through the floor and we make the gravel and dust fly as we leave the parking lot of the church building. I don’t know if he feels the same way, but this ritual is one of the highlights of my week.
At the moment, these things work for us. Some have been in existence for a while and some have changed over time. As parents, raising the children God entrusted to our care, we trust that God is helping us along the way, and will guide us to make changes in our approach when change is necessary. For now, we carry on, and I encourage you to do the same.
I don’t take a lot of pictures with a camera or on my phone. I take pictures with my mind instead, trying to capture moments throughout my life and then convert them to memory so I can look at them from time to time. Unlike “real” pictures nobody else will ever see these pictures in my mind, unless of course I describe these mental images to them.
I read an article once about a lady who attended a ceremony at her daughter’s school, and no phones or cameras were allowed. The administrators just wanted folks to focus on their children and enjoy the moment. I like to do that with life. Although I did stop and take a picture of the funnel cloud that developed as a farmer was burning off a wheat field on the way home from work today.
I observe and take mental notes, and then spend time reflecting on what I have observed. Sometimes I share my reflections through written or vocal communication, and at other times I keep my reflections to myself. It all depends on who the message is for. Is the message just for me, or am I to share it with others? I like to share with others, because I feel like I have been called to share my perspective on life. Sharing my observations, reflections, and thoughts is part of my story … a story that I continue to figure out how best to tell.
On Sunday mornings I get to do this during worship as I prepare and share sermons, and I hopeful that I can continue to do so in the midst of conversation, through writing, and also, through podcasting. My new goal for this blog is two written posts, and two podcasts a month. I’m also in the lengthy process of editing and rewriting the first/second draft of a book I started 15 years ago and never had the confidence to finish.
The mental pictures in my head today are from the camping trip I took over the weekend with my family. Heidi, the boys and I were joined by my parents, my sister, and my brother and his two kids. Our time was spent in the Idaho wilderness near Stanley, Idaho. Our camp ground was on the banks of the Salmon River aka The River of No Return. We spent some time at Red Fish Lake as well, a family favorite since before I was even born.
The mental pictures that stand out to me are of the times we spend on the river fishing. I was fished with my dad, sons, brother, and sister. I even spend some time fishing by myself. I noticed that in my first 10 minutes of fishing I was completely calm, relaxed, and at rest. Fishing, evidently, is good for my soul. I made a mental note to make sure I spent more time fishing.
There’s a saying that starts out “teach a man to fish” and while I know what the rest of that quote says, I think the “teach a man to fish” part is sufficient, because that phrase holds a lot of truths. “Teach a man/woman to fish” and … they will be taught patience … relationships will grow stronger … time will be well spent … they will experience an adrenaline rush … be closer to God … they will have something to pass on to their children … fish will be caught … lures will be lost.
My dad taught me how to fish, and together we continue to teach my sons how to fish. When it comes to fishing I get a lot of my advice from “A River Runs Through It” and know that there is a time to teach and that there is a time for my boys to be left on their own to experience and be creative in the learning process. That’s how I learned, and that is how they are learning.
Of course this is true in other areas of life as well, as we as parents (grandparents) are charged with the daunting task of raising our children up in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it. So … we teach … and our children learn, and part of this process is allowing our children the space to make mistakes, try things out on their own, be creative, and practice away from our shadow and watch. There is lots of time for instruction, but our children also have to have time to learn on their own. As parents we are guides … let’s point our children down the right path … a path that may or may not involve fishing.
Here’s one for you.
A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine who also happens to be a driver’s education instructor. As we engaged in an informative conversation I learned that technology in automobiles … screens, phones, gaming devices, etc … are a detriment to young people learning how to drive.
No sense of direction.
Don’t know how to get anywhere.
Don’t understand the basic rules of the road.
She instructs her students to put their phones away when they are riding with their parents (during Driver’s Education), just so they will observe and gain a little bit more knowledge and information about driving.
This is sad to me, on many levels.
Car time can be a good place for family bonding, car time doesn’t have to be screen time.
(I wonder if ingrained screen/technology time in a vehicle while a younger riding passenger, makes one more apt to want to check their phone/device while driving?)
We are allowing children and youth to miss out on an opportunity to learn and grow as individuals. How to navigate to a certain place. Get the atlas out (yes put the GPS away) and let the kids in the car navigate. Who lives where. What the scenery looks like. How an automobile works. All kinds of things to learn.
What is wrong with staring out the window or playing games on long road trips? (Nothing is the answer. Nothing is wrong with either of these, and I believe children and young people develop better because of the ability to sit still and stare out a window, or play the license plate game.)
Communication and relationships. Both can happen in a car. Both are very important.
I want to encourage you as parents to figure out how to teach your children, and interact with your children while you are in the car with them. Don’t allow them to stare at screens as you motor down the road to destinations known and possibly unknown.
I’m writing again. I haven’t ever really stopped, I just don’t post a lot on here, and I go long periods without ever typing anything into the computer. A lot of my writing is strictly done in my head. Doesn’t pay the bills, but provides an interesting narrative and ongoing dialogue through out the day.
Lately, I’ve been working on the book I started over 10 years ago. I haven’t really looked at what I had typed or felt led to finish the book the last five years, but am closer to getting this book done. Just need to shore up my confidence, finish a couple of chapters, finish editing, raise/earn some money, and self-publish this thing. I honestly had forgotten how much of the book I had completed until a week ago when I printed off every document under the “NTWGD” file folder. I’ve enjoyed reading the thoughts that poured out of me many years ago, and am hopeful others will enjoy reading my thoughts as well. Here’s to hoping and trusting I remain diligent in my pursuit!
In the mean time, my new goal is to post pertinent thoughts on here once or twice a week, and to use Facebook and Twitter to encourage parents and their off spring.
I had a revelation of sorts yesterday as I was considering why something was bothering me so much. In the process of praying through and discerning why I was feeling what I was feeling I realized that it was because I value family time so much and don’t like it when other things or people threaten my time with my family.
A couple of days ago I wrote about the trip I took this past Saturday to Boise with my boys, while Heidi was out of town. At the training Heidi was at she was sharing about how our boys talk to us and like spending time with us, and many of the other people seemed shocked that teenage and one preteen-age son would still like to hang out with their parents. They called it good parenting, and Heidi told them what I often remind people is that we really don’t have any idea what we are doing. We just like spending time with our sons, (spending time with them is one of the reasons we had them), and are thankful they enjoy spending time with us as well.
There are things in the world in which we live wanting to distract us from spending quality time with our families, and I’m here to encourage you to not let those things distract you. Set family time as a priority, set standards you won’t sway from, and keep spending time together as a family. I’m convinced the more we do this the better off our children will be, our families will be, our communities will be, our nations will be, and our world will be. Let’s all do our part by spending time together as families.
I’m thankful that my boys still like spending time with me. The sentence I just wrote does not do justice to the gratefulness I feel inside me right now as I consider how blessed I am to be the father of my three sons.
Today was the last Saturday of Spring Break and since we hadn’t done anything all week, I knew we needed to get out of the house and do something fun. We didn’t do anything spectacular, but we had a good time together.
We were simply okay with just being.
Shoe shopping. Check.
Chipotle. Lunch was good.
MK Nature Center. Awesome time.
Old Idaho State Penitentiary. Creepy and a good life lesson for my boys to never break the law.
Ann Morrison Park. Frisbee. Whiffle Ball. Fantastic.
In all these things, the most important part was simply being together.
I am convinced that as families we need more time set aside for days like this. Simple. Together. Just being with each other.
It is what my soul needed today.
I’m reminded of the reality in our world that there are so many things after our time and attention. We are pulled in so many directions. This isn’t a good trend, and in my most humble opinion our families are suffering because of this reality.
I think some re-evaluation as a society needs to happen. I know, lofty goals. I’m starting with my family though and my circle of influence.
There are things getting in the way of family time I am not sharing about because I am still formulating my thoughts. Another post perhaps. For now, think through your schedule and consider what needs to change in order for more frequent family time to occur.
I’m grateful for today, and that my boys like spending time with me.
Zoe, my black lab, is nine years old and has always enjoyed riding in cars. Several years ago I started taking her for rides in the van if I had to run to the store, or some other place at night. I just have to ask, “Do you want to go for a ride?” and she excitedly runs to the van or the SUV for a quick trip. I enjoy the time with her.
The other night I had to run to the store to get something and my youngest son asked if he could ride along with me. “I like going places with you,” he said to me as we left the house. Zoe was outside so we invited her to ride along with us. Of course she took us up on the opportunity. The three of us rode in the dark SUV the four short blocks to the store and back. I don’t remember all of what we talked about, but I did enjoy the time with my youngest son.
Sometimes the simple things in life are the most meaningful and important, and in the midst of busyness are the most necessary. Sometimes it takes riding in a car with my dog and my young son to remind me of the importance of slowing down and appreciating the simpler things in life. I am always happy for the reminder.
Today, our time together took on a different form as son number three and I took off on our bikes after worship for a ride around town. We rode down by the fast and nearly over flowing river, before pretending we were planes on the runway of our small town airport and returning home. Zoe was waiting outside for us when we got home, as she is too big for me to carry on my bike.
I wrote this essay several years ago, for my unfinished book, and share it today in an effort to stick within the mission of I Am Not the World’s Greatest Dad, and as I consider the ministry and service I feel God has called me to. I also share these words out of obedience, as I feel nudged by the Holy Spirit to do so. I have added a few thoughts in parentheses, and then again at the end following the three asterisk’s. My aim is not to offend, but rather to encourage communication in your home, and to encourage strength in your marriage. If you would like to talk about what you read here, as always, I am available. Just shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you have another means to contact me, feel free.
Our family eats dinner together at a table, where we can interact with each other, every night. Well, almost every night. There are some exceptions where one of us, usually me, can’t make it, but almost every night we find ourselves eating dinner together as a family. (Quite often we eat breakfast together too, and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you can find us fixing and making lunch together as we.)
We have found that coming together over a meal is a good way to end our day together, while we begin enjoying an evening at home. Our dinner conversation usually includes highlights from the day, discussions on current events and a whole lot of other random topics.
When my wife, Heidi, and I got married and started having kids, there wasn’t a whole lot of discussion about whether or not we would eat dinner together as a family in one central location. Having both grown up in families that enjoyed sharing dinner together, our eating together was an expectation and something we both desired. The transition to marriage and family life was perhaps even made easier with knowing that we would at least be able to see each other at the end of the day around a meal.
I’m not sure what evening meals where like in Heidi’s house growing up, you could ask her if you want to and I am sure she would tell you. I do, however, have firsthand knowledge of the dinner experience in the home I grew up in. We almost always ate dinner together as a family around the dinner table. Exceptions to the norm were if one of my parents had to work or be at a meeting, if there was a sport being played somewhere by one of us kids, or if there was a game on we wanted to watch, in which case we would get out the old-school metal TV trays with flowers on them and gather around the glow of the television.
The conversations around the dinner table in my house growing up varied from the events of the day, theological discussions, life lessons, friendly banter, and casual conversation. Dinner became a place where we could talk openly about what happened in our day, and share with each other. When I was in the third grade, for example, and the space shuttle Challenger exploded right after lift-off we came home from school and talked about it and then talked about it some more at dinner. Talking the tragic event out helped us understand and grasp the magnitude of what had happened.
I can remember talking about other big events, and several life lessons being learned. One such life lesson occurred towards the end of our family meal one evening. Either my mom or my dad, probably my dad, told us there was something he and my mom wanted to discuss with us kids. This statement was said in such a way that even now I remember knowing I better pay attention because what was going to be said next would be very important.
At that time in our town several families we knew were going through divorce. (And I say the word families here because when children are involved divorce not only impacts the husband and wife, but the children as well.) I didn’t know a lot about divorce at the time, but I remember thinking it probably was not a good thing. My parents felt like they needed to take the opportunity to share with us that while some people felt like divorce was an option, they did not. They assured us they would always be married to each other, a promise they are happily still keeping.
Obviously, they didn’t need to take the time to share this insight with my brother, sister, and I, but they felt a need as parents for their children to hear about marriage and divorce from them. I appreciate and respect my parents a great deal for taking the time to let us know they would always be married to each other, and that divorce was not an option for them. I trusted what they said, and have never had to worry about their marriage. There was security in what they shared, what they modeled to us every day, and in what they continue to model to us.
A few years ago at the end of one of our family dinners, my wife and I told our boys we had something to tell them. The dinner table is as good a place as any to teach our children lessons. At the end of the meal we shared with them about marriage, about the love we have for each other, and about how divorce is not an option for us. (I will add that this conversation has happened a few more times since our initial talk. Believe me my sons know that no matter how big of a jerk I am, mom isn’t going anywhere!)
We didn’t have to share this information with our children, but we want them to grow up knowing they don’t have to worry about whether or not mom or dad are going to split up in a world where so many couples think divorce is their only option. The hard part lies with Heidi and me, as we have to continue working at our marriage every day, to continue working on loving each other and our kids every day, and to allow mutual love, trust, humility, and respect to be part of who we all are together. (It might be worth mentioning from a stand point of integrity and good standing with your children, that if you don’t think you can live up to the expectations of a conversation on marriage with your children, don’t have the conversation.)
There may or may not be a direct correlation between families eating together, and families staying together, but I suspect there is. Until a survey on family dining is done that might prove otherwise, we will keep eating dinner together as a family and sharing conversations, life lessons, and other important information. I would encourage you and your family to do the same.
I have a couple of other thoughts to share as I end this post.
As a follower of Christ I could have shared some words from the Bible on the sanctity of marriage, but I didn’t feel led to in this particular essay. Perhaps I will at another time. But, you should know that in order to have integrity in what I believe I am using the Bible as my foundation when I consider marriage and this sacred institution God ordains.
In no way shape or form do I want to judge anyone as I write this, and believe me I had no particular people in mind when I wrote these words 8 or so years ago. That’s not up to me, I don’t know your situation, and I feel like I can share my thoughts and still love folks and have relationships with them without having to be in total agreement. In this theme, know that I care, and am here to help if any of you might need it, and that there are a lot of other people out there who care and can help as well.
I said earlier that I felt led to write this, and post these thoughts today. I believe this desire to share these thoughts comes out of concern for marriage, family, society, culture, United States, and people scattered around the globe. This is something I feel deeply about, and have been praying about how I might engage on this topic and other topics related to families on a more regular basis. One of the reasons perhaps I feel led to write more and to host my podcast. God willing, people will be encouraged, and communication, and restoration (where needed) will take place.
Follow the link to this week’s podcast http://iamnottheworldsgreatestdad.podbean.com/e/gratitude-holiday-traditions-and-christmas/
Had a fun day yesterday and was reminded and encouraged of the need to spend quality time with our children.
After sleeping in a little bit I went and helped out at the Junior Varsity girl’s practice before heading to my practice for the 7th grade girls team I am coaching. My middle son, who is in 8th grade and loves basketball, came with me. Taking my children to practice, or allowing them the opportunity to be there started five years ago when I started coaching. This isn’t unique to coaching, as I have always felt like my children should be welcome to come with me where ever I am going.
My own father was a coach, and so I grew up attending practices, on the sidelines, and sitting in the bleachers behind the bench during games. This is how I learned a lot about sports, and I wanted the same for my sons. Plus, especially when I’ve worked with high school athletes, I feel like it is good for my sons and the older student-athletes to be around each other. I may not spend a lot of time with my sons when they come with me to practice, but they get to observe, they have to listen to me while they are in there, I pay attention to them when they are shooting on a side basket. Them being there helps them learn the game.
After my practice was over I helped my youngest son with a money raising project he wanted to do. He had something in mind he wanted to purchase and figured he could rake leaves for people to make some extra money. He put a poster together, I hung them around town for him and put out a plug on Facebook, and yesterday afternoon we spend time together raking leaves. We have another job to do this afternoon.
Raking and bagging up leaves is not the most exciting way to spend an afternoon together, but at least we were spending the afternoon together, and while he made some money it only cost me the price of a new rake, and a bag of lawn and leaf bags. Thanks for carrying both of those Tolmie’s Ace Hardware.
Last year I was gifted tickets for this years men’s basketball season at The College of Idaho, and while we won’t be able to go to all of the games we have decided we will rotate through the games as time allows. Last night, I took my middle son to the game and we had a great time.
I didn’t get to do anything special with my oldest son yesterday aside from eating lunch together and normal interaction, but tomorrow we will have opportunity to watch the NASCAR race together, and am always on the look out for opportunities to spend time with him as well. One of the things I continue to realize is that each of my sons is unique and different from the others and so while there are some things we all like the same and can do together that each of them also have their own interests. My responsibility is to know what those interests are and to try and spend time with them doing those things. I don’t always shine at this, but I am growing in my awareness and understanding and try to do a better job.
Think about how you spend time with and interact with your children, are you doing all you can to connect with them in meaningful and positive ways? If yes, great job! If not, what more can you do?