Category Archives: Children

9.10.17 ~ A Post on Sharing Faith

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.

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4.3.2017 ~ I’m Writing Again

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.


6.27.16 ~ Simple Fun

I think sometimes we try too hard to make fun for our children, when some of the simpler things in life are the most pleasurable and entertaining.

I’ve been trying to do a better job enjoying the simple rhythms of life and teaching my sons to do the same.  Perhaps, we learn to appreciate life a little more, and that we don’t have to search very hard or far for a good time.

I’ve spoken of family bike rides in a recent post, and they continue to be enjoyable.  Family bike rides have proved to be a simple fun thing to do in the rhythms of life.  Why not take 15-30 minutes for a short cruise around your community?

There are other things we have been enjoying this summer: playing the card game UNO, going to the lake, learning card tricks, camping in the back yard, fires in the fire pit, and jumping on the trampoline.

The other day we had a yard sale at our house, and will have another one this Saturday at my parent’s house, because they have a better location and we still have some things to get rid of.  We had fun as a family, collecting our un-used and un-needed items, preparing the sale, and being together during the sale.

One of the items in the sale was an AB Lounge Sport my folks had dropped off for us to try to unload for them.  We didn’t sell it, but at the end of the day we had fun using it as our prop for making spoof advertisements for the AB Lounge Sport.  One of the videos even got posted to You Tube, although I currently have it set to private. I am still trying to decide if I want others to view my attempts at sketch comedy, probably not.  Regardless, making the videos was a fun and simple thing to do with my sons.

During and after the yard sale my youngest son and I also had fun together implementing an idea he had on how to make a seat and foot rest for his scooter.  He did the bulk of the work and then I helped him fasten it to the scooter.  As soon as we were finished he went for a ride, and he has been riding it around the patio and roads ever since.  A simple thing, with hours of fun attached to it.

Let’s not try too hard to make life fun, but let’s remember there are fun things that can and do happen in the normal rhythms of life.  We just have to remember to stop and take time to see them, and experience them.  There our several advantages, laughter being one of them, but I think the quality time spent with our children and as a family is the most important.  Relationship time is always good time.


6.20.16

I woke up this morning in the backyard.

Last night my oldest son, Samuel, made it known that he wanted to camp out in the back yard again sometime this summer.  He thought sometime after we were done with the GAPS INTRO, or after we get back from vacation.  I said, “How about tonight?”

We got the 3 person tent out and set it up quickly and without any swear words being muttered under my breath.

We loaded up with the essentials, including of course flash lights and books, bid good night to the rest of the family, and retired for the evening.

Fortunately the temperature is still cooling down at night, and with the tent windows unzipped, the cool air was relaxing and nice.

We read for awhile, said good night to each other, turned the flash lights off … and dozed off to sleep.

Zoe, our 8 year old black lab, was in the tent with us, sleeping on Samuel’s bag.  She doesn’t like to go inside when we are sleeping out there.  At least not at first.  In the middle of the night, when I had to get up to relieve myself, she made it known that she wanted in the house.  I obliged, grateful the tent wouldn’t smell like dog any more.

I woke early to first light, and the sounds of the neighborhood and nature.  I was refreshed, and except for a little soreness in my back my body felt good.  I laid there in the stillness, resting, listening, praying, thinking, and enjoying every bit of the moment.

The simple things in life are good.

When my son inquires about sleeping out in the back yard it is hard for me to say no, except for when my body is to sore from sleeping on the ground.  Lately, it is has been hard to say no when any of my boys ask me to do something with them.  They might get a “not now, in a little bit,” but I have been doing a better job of following through and spending time with them doing what they want to do.

Trampoline.  Bike rides.  Basketball. Game night. Back yard camping.

We all need to spend time doing fun things with our children.  Especially in the summer.

Makes life more fun, at least it has been for me.

Now I have to go … evidently the camp out is going to last at least 2 nights.

 

 

 


2.23.16~ Engaging

My oldest son lives life from the high functioning side of the Autism Spectrum.  To be exact the official terminology is Asperger’s, even though we are not into labels.

Like with our other children we see him as a unique child of God with strengths, gifts, and talents.  Part of our job as parents is to help each of our sons discern God’s calling on their lives, and to journey with them in the process.  Somewhere along the line we believe this means using all that God has given them to be contributing and productive members of society.

Last night I had the opportunity to be engaged by my son as we talked about theology, Star Wars, and life calling.  Evidently, he has a better grasp on the book of Revelation, and other parts of the Bible, than I do.  He talked, I talked.  He listened, I listened.  He laughed, I laughed. He cried, I almost cried.  We had a good time.

I don’t know about all autistic children, and I say this because the spectrum is so wide and varied, but I do know with my son that engaging him on topics he is interested in is very important.  This is of course is true for almost all of us.  We engage more, and talk more on those things we are interested in.

If I talk to my son about basketball he wants nothing to do with it.  If I engage him in conversation about Star Wars, the Bible, World War 2, airplanes, farming, eating healthy, or what he wants to do and be when he grows up I get 60 minute, in depth, conversations. My job is to listen and engage him in the conversation.  Ask questions.  Give feed back.  Give him love, support, and care.  (That’s how we ought to be in all of our conversations.)

Part of this process includes helping him with some of the social skills that are hard for him.  As I engage him in conversation we make eye contact, we allow each other space in the midst of our word exchange, and I try to model the way a conversation is supposed to happen.

I suppose the reminder for me is I need to engage him and my other sons in this manner on a regular basis.  Having conversations like this with them will definitely allow us to connect, and will help them along the path of becoming who the are supposed to be in responses to God’s call on their lives.

 


Recliner

I just watched this Ted Talk by Rosie King titled “How Autism Freed Me To Be  Myself.”

There’s a line in the video where she says “it’s not a disability, it’s an ability.”

As the father of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I get that line, and understand the responsibility of helping him know it too.

My oldest son has many abilities that bring out the uniqueness and creativity of who he is.

Simply being with him is a joy, but every once and awhile I get a little more.

This evening was one of those times.

I was sitting in the recliner after dinner, and he came and climbed in my lap.

And we snuggled … for 15 minutes or so.

As we sat there together we talked and we were quiet.

I gave him big hugs, and massaged his arms and back. (Sensory and tactile “issues” mean these are favorites.)

He relaxed, and nestled in close.

My son is 14 years old, and I cherished every moment of our time in the chair this evening.

I’m thankful for my son’s ability to not be to old to spend time with his dad, whether snuggling in a chair or helping him drive a golf cart … which is a whole other story!

I’m glad I get to be his dad.


Post 4: Realizations and Reminders

I left the house this morning at 5:20 and I got home tonight at 11.  During the day I came home for a half an hour at lunch.  I saw Heidi, my wife, for a few hours this morning at work, and at lunch.  I didn’t see my sons at all.

I’m not happy about how today went down for several reasons, with the main one being what was supposed to be a family night at home did not happen.

My work-related reason for not being home tonight was valid, and for privacy won’t get in to the details, but I still don’t like that I missed dinner, doing homework, and relaxing with my family tonight.  Tonight was one of two nights at home this week, and I was really looking forward to our time together as a family.

While themes of boundaries, priorities, and saying no are running through my head I have also had some realizations and reminders as I reflect on my day.

1.  I have to trust that since this is not a normal occurrence that my sons will not be scarred for life because I missed dinner and an evening at home.

2. I love my family and spending time with them is one of the most important things to me.

3.  In the midst of busyness, family time is important.

  1. I am thankful for Heidi and her presence and role in my life and the boy’s lives.
  1. While my “calling” might lead me to spend time helping other people, the most important time I can spend is with my family.

Post 2: Time

I’m a part of a “Man Club” (my name for it), that meets on the first Monday of every month at my friend’s house.  Our second such gathering just finished an hour ago and I am happy to announce that none of us have cried yet.  We get together, guided by a video and workbook with questions, to discuss matters related to manhood such as parenting, marriage, faith, work, and being the best versions of ourselves.

At one point tonight our discussion turned to practical and concrete ideas for ensuring good relationships with our children both now and into the future.  We were not looking to make a list but our conversation focused on time, honesty, and making sure to tell our children that we love them.   Today’s post will focus on time.

My oldest son received several model airplanes for Christmas this year and because he needs help with activities involving fine motor skills I have been helping him build the first model, a B-17 Bomber which will hang from his bedroom ceiling upon completion.  I don’t have time to fully introduce my oldest son to you in today’s post but I want you to know that Asperger Syndrome does not define him but rather allows him to approach and embrace life from a perspective different than my own.

On the day we first started working on the model plane my oldest son shared with me that working on the model was a good project for father and son bonding time.  Evidently, as it came out in the course of our conversation he was under the impression that things had not been going well between the two of us and we needed this time together as father and son.  While I assured him everything was good between the two of us, I couldn’t agree more that spending time together as father and son was always a great idea.

We work on the model together when time allows.  This involves me and my limited model building skills doing most of the work while my oldest son helps where he can while sharing with me facts and stories about B-17’s.  We have a good time together until the fumes from the paint and glue force us to take a break.

Time with our children is time well spent for several reasons, some of which I will mention here.

1) Our relationships with our children are important and we must spend time nurturing these relationships.  Perhaps as our children grow older a nurtured relationship will keep us close with them.

2) Spending time with our children doing something they enjoy or are interested in shows them we love them.

3) As we spend time with our children we have the opportunity to talk with them.  Not only do we learn more about each other, but opportunities for teaching and learning life lessons also occur.

4) Families are supposed to spend time together.  Parents and children are supposed to spend time together.  In a world of busyness, time spent with our children shows them they are important to us.

Time is important, and since I only have a few minutes to post this to reach my goal of posting something every day of the week except for Sunday, I must finish this brief and perhaps unfinished post.

As parents time spent with our children is time well spent.  I’m still learning this lesson after 14 years of parenting, perhaps you can learn this with me, and even teach me something along the way.