Category Archives: Uncategorized

On Digital Photography and Other Things

Lately, I’ve been taking a cue from the tenants at the property I manage.  After a long day of working in the fields they come home and sit outside.  Sometimes they visit with others, and sometimes they just sit there by themselves. 

 I started doing this more often as a way to just relax and have some quiet time.  I call it “the art of sitting outside,” and think this art is something we all need to practice on a regular basis.  I just came inside from some time at the patio table on this wonderful Southern Idaho evening, and my time outside was delightful.

 As some of you know, and may have grown tired of me saying it, I’ve been writing a book on and off for the last fourteen years or so.  Since this project has spanned over fourteen years, I would strongly argue more off than on has happened in the writing practice.  For a variety of reasons one of my current goals is to finish the book soon and self-publish it.  So, in about 10 years I should have it done!

 Last night I spent a couple of hours doing some good work on this project and realized over the years I have written way too many musings for one book, and some essays that just aren’t book worthy … not yet anyway.  In an effort to thin and improve I thought I would tweak some of them and use them for my podcast I’m planning on starting back up or adapt them for this blog/web-page.

 Here are some thoughts I first wrote in 2006 and have modified over the years.

 Honestly, in some situations, I would love to return to simpler times.  The advances in camera and phone technology are truly amazing, but every now and them I prefer the simplicity of loading a roll of 35 mm film into a camera and talking on a rotary phone.  With photography, I use to love finishing up a roll of film, taking the film to be developed into photographs, and then taking those photographs home and looking through them to remember good and maybe not so good times.

 Shortly after the year 2000 (sing “in the year 2000” from the old Conon O’Brian show), we could have even received the gift in the year 2000, Heidi and I were given a digital camera for Christmas, our first, and we were so excited about our new Fuji and being able to take and store photographs digitally.  As you already know, since we are already 18 years removed from the year 2000 (again Conon O’ Brian), one of the great features, among many, of digital cameras is how many pictures you can take and store.  Storing a countless number of pictures on the camera, on a smart phone, on a computer, somewhere in a cloud, or some other option I haven’t mentioned.  The digital pictures, like any other pictures are fun to look at and because of the technology we now possess we are able to post them on-line in a matter of seconds and share our lives in pictures with friends and family through e-mail, and social media sites.

 One of the problems with digital photography and digital cameras and smart phones, at least when the people owning them are poor, is the pictures stay in digital form and are rarely printed off.  I know digital pictures can be printed off and made to look like a regular old photography by when there isn’t a lot of extra money in the budget, like when Heidi and I first got our camera, the 1000’s of pictures you take stay on the computer and are soon forgotten about and only occasionally viewed.  (I realize some of these thoughts might be outdated in a world of Snap-Face when the goal is for the picture to disappear, or Insta-Crap where the goal of making sure everyone knows how you look 100 times a day from an arm length away, but they are still a reality for me, and they make the story flow.)

 I sat down at my desk at work one morning 14 or so years ago and I pushed the power button on my computer only to have nothing happen.  My computer, like my dad van most of the time, wouldn’t turn on and our technology support person confirmed my worst fear, the computer’s hard drive was friend and none of the files on it could be retrieved.  Immediately I thought about all of the files that had been lost because I failed to back them up and was devastated as I remembered all of our family pictures I had been storing on the computer until we got a computer at home to transfer them to.  I felt especially horrible because there were a lot of pictures on the computer from when our middle son Jacob was born, and now we didn’t have them anymore. No Bueno.

 After this incident I attempted to be more diligent in backing up files to avoid this disaster again.  Unfortunately, I fell back into my lazy habits and as life got busy I had backed up some files but not all of them when we had one of our computers crash again.  Luckily, some of the files were able to be saved but we were not able to salvage all of them.  Unfortunately, once again most of the pictures we lost were of Jacob our middle son and some of his major life moments. 

 Again, as before, I was devastated and felt horrible for a few days until I was reminded I got to see my son every day and could probably scrounge up some pictures from family members.  I also figured when he got older I could just tell him like some conservative Anabaptist groups there were a few years we didn’t believe in taking photos for religious reasons. 

 The funny thing is, now all of our digital photos are backed up, either on a jump drive or a cloud-based storage space, and I hardly ever look at them.  I look at the pictures we have taken and printed off and have around the house, but rarely do I go and look at pictures taken years ago.  Kind of like how I treat the old videos we recorded with the boys where little.

 While the moral of this story was supposed to encourage you to make sure you back up your digital photographs, there are some other lessons we can learn here. 

 1) Enjoy the moment.  We don’t have to capture everything with our phones or cameras, sometimes it is just good to soak everything in and really experience the moment.  I’m afraid we miss out on a whole bunch when we are trying to capture everything for later or to post online, instead of living in the moment.

2) I hardly ever look at the pictures we have captured over the years, the ones we still have, but I have so many great memories and pictures in my head that I can relive.  I know for me remembering is a good way to connect with the past, while am living in the future.

 3) Don’t just take pictures, look at them too.  When you look at them, tell the stories of what was going on.  I have a picture of my first-grade birthday to remind me of who was there that day to help me celebrate but looking at that photograph also reminds me of all the fun I had.  The cool thing is I see some of those same guys every once and awhile in person or on social media.

4) Be grateful for what we do have, instead of lamenting about what we don’t have.

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My Old Man Taught Me How to Trap Gophers

gopher-moundTo be clear, I never refer to my dad as “my old man,” opting instead for the more commonly used “my dad” when referencing my father.  I chose to go with “my old man” for the title of this post only because I thought these three simple words would garner more attention in title form than “my dad” would have.  I have nothing against people who refer to their father as “my old man,” or any other title for that matter.  To each, his or her own.

 I apologize for getting a bit side tracked there.  Getting side tracked happens often when I am speaking to someone as a random thought that loosely connects to what I am talking about enters my brain, and my filter doesn’t work fast enough to stop the random thought from exiting my mouth.  I guess the same thing can happen when I am writing, must be a communication issue. 

 We just moved into a rental home that rests half a mile down a dirt lane on the banks of the Snake River.  The property the house sits on belongs to a farmer, and while we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of crops we only get to help maintain five of them.  At this point those 5 acres include the house, lawn, more trees than I can count, and several acres of over grown pasture.  This property is a quiet and restful place, and it is just what are family needs at this moment in time.  (More on that in future posts and podcasts.)

 We also inherited several resident gophers which leads me back to the title and my dad.  When I was a child, growing up on our 40-acre farm, I learned how to trap gophers.  My dad taught me how.  I learned how to kick down the older gopher mounds we wouldn’t be needing after locating the freshest mound.  I learned how to read the fresh gopher mound to decipher where the hole might be so I would know where to start digging.  Once I dug I learned how to fill around the earth to find the hole, if it wasn’t already visible, and I learned how to clean out the hole to prepare it for a trap.

 Once the digging and hole preparation was done I would set the box trap, my preferred trap of choice, and move on from there waiting, and returning daily to see if a gopher had been caught.  We used other methods of gopher trapping, such as gassing them or flooding them out of their holes, but I always appreciated the box trap.

 After being on our new property a few days and noticing there were gophers we needed to take care of Samuel, my oldest son, and I went to Tolmie’s, the local Ace hardware store and purchased two Bower’s Gopher Traps made in Marsing, Idaho.  After getting the traps home I taught my boys how to flatten the gopher mounds we weren’t going to use by kicking them, and to look for where the hole might be on the freshest mound.  As I dug into the ground and deposited a spade full of earth next the mound I got down and showed them how to feel for and find the gopher hole.  Our next step was of course to clean out the hole, set the trap, and put the trap in the hole.

 So far, we have set three traps, and we have caught three gophers.  Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t set a gopher trap in over 20 years.  We even found a post to put the dead gophers on for the resident birds of prey to enjoy. 

 As I was putting an empty trap away one evening after another successful kill and disposal I started thinking about how and when I learned to trap gophers with my dad.  Then I started thinking about how as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children useful skills they will be able to use in the present and well into the future.  When I learned how to trap gophers I wasn’t thinking about how I might someday pass that skill on to my own children, I was just excited to learn a new skill.  Today, I am glad I paid attention so I could pass a new skill on to my sons. 

 Perhaps my recent gopher killing spree is a good reminder for all of us to take the time we need to pass on skills and other useful things to our children.  I’m reminded that so much of what our children need to know in life comes from us, their caretakers, their guardians, their parents.  Let’s make sure and remember to do our best in passing useful skills along, as we seek to enhance our children’s learning and knowledge and in the process make the world a better place.


Podcast 2.2 ~ 17 Years and Counting

Episode 2 of my inconsistent Season 2 hosted over at www.iamnottheworldsgreatesdad.podbean.com

You can click here to listen

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/mzm3z-773eb1?from=yiiadmin


Fishing

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.

 


Riding in Cars With Kids

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.

Parent up.

 

 

 


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.


4.1.2017 ~ A Day With the Boys

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.


3.20.2017 ~ Riding In Cars

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.


12.1.16 ~ Divorce

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 ntwgdad@gmail.com, or if you have another means to contact me, feel free.

 Divorce

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.

 


11.28.16 ~ Podcast on Gratitude, Holiday Season, and Christmas

Follow the link to this week’s podcast http://iamnottheworldsgreatestdad.podbean.com/e/gratitude-holiday-traditions-and-christmas/