|Posted on June 3, 2009 at 12:40 AM||comments (1)|
When a child gets a bump or a bruise, it is usually pretty obvious. If a child is bleeding, unless you're a fainter, most parents can quickly diagnose the cause and, in most cases, take the necessary action to correct the problem. Some things are a little harder to see, and, can easily be missed all together.
My youngest daughter likes to occasionally bring home a card from school. Her school has a neat program where they provide cards for the children to bring home and our youngest is especially thoughful in this area.
She is usually pretty happy and loves to make people laugh. She is quick with a joke and sometimes takes things a little to far, so you can't always tell when something is bothering her or when she's just being silly. I wish she had a sign that told me what was wrong when it isn't obvious.
One day she brought home a card and it just struck me as a little odd. I can't remember what it was about it, I just remember thinking, Huh! What's this all about? She didn't seem particullary bothered by anything and she said she had had a great day at school, still this card made me pause.
Here's the part that's difficult. My daughter is 7. She can be overly dramatic at times. She still has moments where she wants to be the baby. All of those factors could have convinced me to just ignore the feeling I had in my gut. Besides, she's so young, she probably didn't even realize what the card was saying. Still, that nagging feeling wouldn't go away.
I decided to talk to her about it and I'm glad I did. She told me about a situation at school that had bothered her a little more than she let on. I dug a little deeper and got to the root of the problem. We discussed it and came to what we both agreed to be the best solution. I gave her a big hug and that was it. We haven't had another occurance of tha problem.
I could have ignored the situation and just hoped it would take care of itself. Maybe the teachers at school could handle it. I have a problem with that line of thought. You see I'm my child's parent, not her teacher. I am responsible for her well-being. I don't believe teachers are paid enough to clean up the mess that parents all to often make of their children's lives. They have enough to deal with. My child is my job and I gladly accept it.
Sure, talking to your kids can be hard. There are just some things a cute little band-aid or a kiss to make it feel better can't fix. Sometimes, we have to go the extra mile and get beyond the normal exchanges of day-to-day life. It's worth the effort and your child will feel more loved in that moment than you can imagine.
|Posted on June 2, 2009 at 1:12 AM||comments (1)|
There is a great deal of truth to that old adage, absence makes the heart grow fonder. We become so accustomed to each other that we often take for granted those that we live with, the ones we should love the most. We become aggrivated and annoyed by little things that usually we would overlook. We take our spouses for granted and forget what we love about them. Proximity can do that.
I think one of the greatest things you can do for your marriage and your family is take a little time apart. Get alone with God and find yourself. Recharge your batteries, whether for a day or a weekend, a little time apart can help you to remember what your spouse and children mean to you. You miss the little things that annoy you most and you get a small glimpse at what life without them might be like.
Sitting at camp, the end of night number one and I find myself longing for my family. I miss my wife and kids but I know this is only temporary and soon, I'll be with them again. I have a new found appreciation for the familiarity that is family life. I thank God for the opportunity of camp, watching my teens grow, but deep down I know that the love I have for my wife and my girls is growing stronger through this time apart. I can't wait to see them again and it's only been a day. Imagine how I'll feel after four days.
|Posted on May 31, 2009 at 9:51 PM||comments (0)|
As a parent of two children, from time to time I think of myself more as a referee than a father. I think the greatest investment a parent of multiple children can make is in boxing gear. I'm serious! I'm talking full head gear, gloves, a ring, the works! If you can afford it, get one of those inflatible boxing rings with the huge gloves and oversized head protectors. They'll laugh so hard, they'll forget why they were fighting to begin with.
I was an only child. I don't understand the desire to beat your sibling to death over relatively mundane issues. I would have loved to have the live-in playmate. By the time my sister came into the picture, I was eleven and I filled more of the protector role than the jealous sibling. I never found myself wanting to smack my little sister upside the head. My little brother, now occasionally I felt like knocking him around, but usually just for fun and not because of an overwhelming desire to crush him.
Now my wife, on the other hand, tells of a different childhood where sisters fight constantly. Her father had boxing gloves and he would spread a blanket on the floor and tell them to, "Commence to fighting!" They'd laugh and laugh. I see a great deal of wisdom in my father-in-laws approach to handling sibling disputes.
I have been known to tell my girls to, "Fight to the death," when the moment arrives and I have had all I can stand. It worked when they were both little, but now my oldest looks at me and says okay while putting her sister in a headlock. Yeah, boxing gloves are looking like a real good thing to look for at garage sales this summer, and some noise dampening headphones, like what they wear on an aircraft carrier. Yeah, maybe some of those gigantic sumo suits, something. My hair is turning grey and if they keep going, i'm afraid it might just turn loose!
|Posted on May 14, 2009 at 12:38 AM||comments (1)|
Another birthday has come and gone. I'm a year older. The strange thing is, I don't feel much difference between yesterday and today. There is a lot of truth to the saying that age is a state of mind. When I think about getting older, I feel dramatically different than I do when my thoughts are focused on what a blessing life can be.
We have to make the most of every moment we're given. The book of Proverbs talks about living life to the fullest. Jesus said that He has come to bring life more abundant. It seems that God is trying to tell us something. When we focus on what is past, we miss what's happening now. We have the awesome privledge and responsibility to make the most of the opportunity we have.
I have a wife I love with all my heart who has helped me to become something more than I once was. I have two beautiful daughters who are an encouragement to me every day. I have so much to be thankful for and I plan to enjoy each day for what it is, another chance to make a difference in the lives of others, another day to make a memory and another chance to buld relationships, with God and with the people He brings into my life. The years bring wisdom but in truth, it's the days we are given and what we do with them that are important.
|Posted on May 13, 2009 at 12:19 AM||comments (0)|
I've been going through pictures and I've discovered something. We have hundreds of pictures of our oldest daughter, including many multiples of the same pose, but not so many of our youngest.
I have tried avoid the trap so many parents fall into. I mean, we don't love our youngest less, it's just that...
For example, when our oldest daughter had even the smallest accomplishments, we were there, snapping pictures like crazy. With our youngest, we realized that we would have to build another room on our house if we kept taking pictures like we were. It wasn't like we continued to take photos of our oldest and neglected our youngest, we became more selective. We took photos of monumental occasions and school functions. We went digital to save space. We even began video taping more.
I've never wanted my youngest to feel like she was less important or exciting to us because she wasn't a new experience. So many kids feel less loved than their siblings, I don't want either of my kids to feel that.
In the same way, I don't want my oldest to feel like we're performing some sort of parental experiment on her. I remember an episode of the Brady Bunch where Greg and Marsha complained because they felt their parents weren't as strict on their younger brothers and sisters. It made for funny television, but in real life, it's not a laughing matter!
Inevitably, there will be some times of learning. We're not perfect as parents. I make mistakes and when I do I apologize. Our kids fight enough as it is without adding fuel to the fire.
And I'm completely outnumbered. The only man in a house full of women, it can be a scary place to be. I don't need anybody thinking I like them more, except my wife. I'm surrounded by more drama than the cast of the latest soap opera. How I long for a little more testosterone. Hey wait, I do have a male beta, but that's little comfort. At least I can escape to the shed when it's too tough. Thank God for a shed!
|Posted on May 11, 2009 at 1:55 PM||comments (0)|
The school year's coming to a close and my girls and I are getting ready for another summer filled with trips to grandma and grandpa's, family outings and church camps. Summer is my favorite time of year but it's also the busiest. I find myself struggling to find time to mow the yard or weed the flower bed.
As a youth pastor, summer is filled with camps, retreats, fundraisers and trips taking my girls to their grandparents. Adding family time to that equation can be difficult. When the time comes to take a breather from the hectic schedule of youth ministry, I come home to find responsibilities and choirs that need to be done. By the time the clean-up is finished, I'm so tired that I just don't feel like going to the park or playing a game, but I do it anyway. There will be time to rest tomorrow, the memories we build today will last forever. Besides, I'll only be tired for a little while, I'll be a dad forever.
Those times when I'd like to be alone and wet a hook at the lake can wait. I'd rather take my kids with me. I won't get to do a lot of fishing, but I'll get to see the excitement in my little girls eyes when she catches a fish "all by herself." It may be a tiny blue gill, but to her, it's the greatest fish ever caught.
So I'll continue to run myself to the point of exhaustion. I'll make the most of the opportunities I have to build my relationship with my wife, daughters and students. From camping to amusement parks, car washes to car trips, I'll try to find fun in each situation. I'll drink lots of coffee and sleep when I can. I'd sure love to have a hammock, but I doubt I'd use it. I'll just get a bigger coffee pot and drink some unsweet tea. Gotta love summer!
|Posted on May 9, 2009 at 1:01 AM||comments (0)|
Movies today can be extremely graphic, filled with harsh language, sexual situations and of course, every man’s favorite, violence. Things exploding seem to bring joy to men in the same way a shoe sale affects women. Our hearts start pounding, the adrenaline builds and we watch with nervous anticipation to see if the hero of the story, yet again, can survive the horrendous scenarios that they are thrust into.
From these movies, we can glean all kinds of wisdom. From, “Go on without me,” to, “It’s just a flesh wound,” movie dialogue has become a part of our culture. We will quote our favorite lines and re-enact whole scenes that have in some way touched our lives. The movies and television shows we watch shape and mold our character in ways that we cannot begin to fathom. Many of us will come to a point in our lives where we may not remember our children, but we will remember a saying or situation our favorite character said or encountered. For some, it will be, “Play it again, Sam.” Others will hold on to, “May the force be with you.” However, I believe the most profound and true-to-life, applicable to child-rearing line ever uttered on stage or screen would have to be, “It’s quiet, too quiet.”
I have learned through these years at home with my child, that if I can’t hear her, chances are something is wrong. It may be big, it may be small, but something is going to need fixing or cleaning before the day is done. All quiet times are not bad. There will be rare times, extremely rare between the ages of 1.5 and 3, where you will fear the worst, only to find that your child is being the perfect angel you knew they were from day one. However, don’t let these times fool you. As a rule, if they are quiet, drop whatever you doing (unless you’re holding your other child) and run to whatever room in the house he or she is in. The sooner you find out what they are up to, the better. Why? One reason, less mess to clean up. As they get older and more mobile, the frequency of minor catastrophic events will increase, you don’t want the child hurting themselves. Mostly though, less mess to clean up.
|Posted on May 7, 2009 at 11:57 PM||comments (0)|
As a parent, there have been many times I have felt proud of my children. That said, there are some moments that just stand out. In those moments, you realize that you are making an extraordinary impact on a young life. One such moment happened a couple of weeks ago.
My oldest daughter is very intelligent. She loves to read and has a fantastic imagination. She recalls nearly everything she reads, watches or hears with amazing accuracy. Yet, she is very personable and likeable. She makes friends easily, sometimes I fear a little too easily. She is, I'm glad to say, a great kid (though I am a little biased).
At the age of 10, when many kids only concern is fitting in and being liked, she is determined to be herself. She was approached by a classmate who told her that if she didn't stop being so silly, stop reading the books she likes stop watching the movies she enjoys, she wasn't going to have anymore friends.
My daughter told her classmate that if people didn't like her for who she was then that was fine with her, she didn't need them as a friend.
When my daughter came home and told me about this I had mixed emotions. Part of me felt sorry for her that she had to be faced with that situation, but, a greater part of me felt pride in her boldness to be who she is regardless of what people think or say. I even found myself a little saddened by the maturity she displayed simply because I realize she is growing up. She will soon be a young adult making decisions that will impact her future. I hope she remembers who she is in those moments.
I have made a point of telling my girls that they don't need to change for anyone. They are fine just as they are. They are beautiful young ladies filled with promise and potential who I believe have the confidence to stand for what's right no matter what is said about them. I am proud that they feel strongly about God, their family and friends. They will need that foundation to achieve their dreams and I know that I have done my part to help them build a strong one.
|Posted on May 7, 2009 at 12:07 AM||comments (0)|
"Only you can prevent forest fires." (Smokey the Bear)
Now that is more wisdom than I ever imagined I would receive from a bear. It seems simple, it really does, just put the fire out, right?
Imagine if you will, you're in the forest, maybe you're camping, maybe you're just out for an evening under the stars, and you have a hankering for s'mores. Well, there's nothing like s'mores cooked over a camp fire, so, you take two sticks, rub them together, and before you know it, you have a blazing fire, just right for s'more makin'.
Now, there are many ways to start a fire, but the easiest way may not always be the best. If I am in the middle of the woods, it wouldn't be a good idea to pour gasoline on a pile of sticks, light a match and throw. 'Whoosh!' Before you realize your dilemma (the woods ablaze around you, not to mention your right eyebrow is missing), you wonder if there might have been a better way.
The easiest road to take is not always the best. Sure you can get there more quickly, but look at all the sights you miss along the way. Take a moment to catch your breath. Color a picture with your kids. Stop and smell the roses. Challenge yourself. You never know, you might just come up with the next best way to build a mouse trap, or maybe you could be the next Nobel winner. Either way, when you look back at the road you have traveled, the trip will be a whole lot nicer, and more memorable too!
|Posted on May 6, 2009 at 12:31 AM||comments (1)|
When I was a young man of 9 years old, I found myself in a difficult place. My parents were in the process of getting divorced. Suddenly, I found myself in a position with responsibilities I'd never had before. I was the man of the house and I was still a child. I had never mowed a lawn and had rarely helped in the kitchen. At 9, I had to grow-up. I was leaving childish things behind.
I was changing emotionally and physically. At a time when a young man naturally begins to think of things like girls, music and sports, I found it challenging to let go of the toys of my childhood. The natural process of maturing was accelerated and I clung to the things that had brought me comfort in difficult times. It's funny how the mind works.
My oldest daughter is now 10 and in the same place I was in so long ago. She's at the point in her life where she finds herself drawn to the things of adolesence but still longs for the comforts of her past. Her life has been a little less tumultuous because she has both parents in the home, but it's a still a huge step.
What a difficult transition! The changes a child experiences between childhood and the preteen years are metamorphic. I find myself amazed as I watch her blossom into the young woman she will soon become. Her hopes for the way ahead are pure and untarnished. She has the confidence to be who she is no matter what others think or say. I'm proud of this young lady who I know will achieve for greater things than I could ever dream.
So, it's with a little embarrasment that I confess I'm not ready for her to make this transformation. I'm not ready for her to put aside the Barbie dolls for the mp3 player. I remember how difficult that time was for me, so it's been a little disconcerting watching her make the transition so smoothly.
When we talk about needing to thin out items from our daughters childhood, I'm the one who fights to keep the dolls, dress-up and other toys, some broken, some rarely played with since the day they found the bottom of the toybox. It's funny how the mind works. My daughter's are ready to make the transition to adolesence but I want to hold on to the memory of the little girls they were.
I want them to stay my little girls forever. At some level, I think they will, but I know that I have to let this change happen naturally. I'll be okay. We'll say goodbye to Ken, the Barbie Jeep and the Veggie Tales toys to make room for the Jonas Brothers. It's a good thing I like some of their music because they're too stinking handsome for their own good. When did girls start liking boys at 7 and 10? I'm never gonna survive dating!