Tag Archives: parenting

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.


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.


Blogging 2.0

I haven’t been consistent at writing on this blog.  You may have noticed.

I don’t know if I will be more consistent now, but I am going to try to be as I slowly move this idea of mine forward.

I think I might even set some writing goals and actually try to reach them.  Baby steps.

A couple of nights ago my youngest came outside where I was sitting at the round patio table enjoying the summer evening and asked me if I wanted to play catch.  I of course said yes, not wanting to be the “dad” who turns down a game of catch.  Think Field of Dreams, “Hey Dad. Do you want to have a catch?”

So we had a game of catch.  On my end there was more throwing and running after the ball because of someone trying to imitate Mariano Rivera, but we still had a great time.  When we were finishing up my sons simply explained how he had “needed some more parent time.”  I’m guessing that often in our busy and technology filled lives that often our children just want a little more parent time.

Parents, giving them that time is up to us.