As you know when God calls us to do a work, he trains us for that work and often takes us through things that prepare us for the task. Real life is a really great teacher. I do not believe that God authors all of our difficulties. For example James tells us that God does not tempt us with evil. (James 1:13)
However God will teach us and strengthen us while he guides us through whatever comes our way and he will work everything out when we are walking with him. (Romans 8:28)
Having said that, I believe that God has wonderfully (and by his grace) taken me through some big and small storms and through it all he has prepared me to help and encourage and equip other parents and families. Here is the brief story.
- I was raised in a religious home without knowing Jesus as my savior.
- My parents separated when I was six. My Mom (a single mother on social assistance) raised my three siblings and me.
- I stopped listening to anyone at the age of thirteen and became a rebellious worldly teenager.
- My mother married my stepfather when I was thirteen.
- My father had remarried earlier and I have two half brothers and a half sister.
- My mother committed her life to Christ when I was about 17 and started praying for her family.
- I gave my life to Christ and my life was changed forever just before my 19th birthday.
- Shortly after this I married my high school girlfriend when I was 20.
- We had three children.
- When the kids were still quite young, my wife left. (This was the most difficult time of my life.)
- Although the children’s mother saw them, they lived with me full time and I experience what it’s like to be a single parent.
- Even though I was free to remarry, I told God that I was willing to stay single and devote more time to my children and helping other parents.
- God had another plan.
- A friend of mine who also was friends with the owner of eHarmony was insistent that I should give eHarmony a try. Even though I ignored him, he kept it up.
- When others started telling me the same thing I started to wonder. Then when the owner of eHarmony emailed me personally (in response to a request from our mutual friend) and invited me to join, I felt that God was in it.
- Through a wonderful series of Godincidences I met Luba and five months after our first date we were married.
Although in the beginning I promised myself that my family would never break apart, I now have a second wife and my children have a stepmother.
These are the personal family details in a nutshell. I have shared this with you to show that I am just a normal guy walking through a bumpy life trusting God. All the while doing my best to parent God’s way, allowing him to strengthen, teach and guide me through all life’s ups and downs.
And through it all, I believe one of the reasons he has taught me (and that I have gone through some of what I have gone through) is so that I could with grace, turn and help, strengthen, encourage and equip others who are facing the same and similar bumps.
My oldest daughter is now married to my awesome son-in-law and my first grandchild is providing me with more life experience to pass on. My second daughter is attending college and my teenage son (my inspiration for my books for boys) is still at home.
I was flying into Chicago on United Airlines shortly after they had completed their new terminal. The captain welcomed us to Chicago and “The New Terminal of Tomorrow.” He went on to explain that everyone who’s tried to catch a connecting flight out of there understands why it’s really called “The Terminal of Tomorrow” – because you might not get on your connecting flight till tomorrow!
I’ve often waited in the Chicago airport. It’s a very busy place and reminds me of my home: children’s parties, sleepovers, friends coming and going, neighbors calling, extended family dropping by. And there are the departures. The car just doesn’t stop. There are youth groups, lessons of all sorts, sports, school, church, errands to run, and children’s friends to pick up or drive home. Sound familiar? In the middle of all the flights in and out, once in a while I find a wonderful parenting moment with one of my fellow travelers.
The first time it happened, everyone had flown in and back out of “Osborne O’Hare,” and only my son and I were left. During the next few hours he had his agenda, and I had mine. However, in the middle of that time the two of us needed to sit down and eat a meal. What followed started with me pointing out that it was cool that it was just the two of us guys.
Then we decided to have some guy food and talked about guy things, and we even used some guy table manners (intentional oxymoron). We laughed a lot and afterwards headed back to our own tasks. The meal needed to be prepared anyway, but the time we had was memorable. I now watch for “home alone” moments. My son and I have our “guy time” every time the Osborne Terminal clears out, and I have special dad-and-daughter meals whenever I find myself alone with one of them.
A much quoted marriage and family therapist said, “For human beings, you need two hugs a day to survive, four hugs for maintenance, six hugs to grow.” All kinds of research have been done on human touch and hugging, and the overwhelming data screams at us, “Go hug somebody!”
I have to give credit to my oldest daughter for bringing the application of “moment” parenting to our family. She had heard the above quote, or a similar one, and set her personal daily hug-giving minimum at seven. She also kept track of her daily-high hug score, which has, at times, reached unbelievable numbers. As a result, it’s very difficult to come near her without feeling sincerely cared for.
Because of her wonderful obsession, I made a habit out of hugging all of my children every time I passed them in the house, or whenever they came into hugging range. Don’t get me wrong; I hugged my children before, but basically only when it was called for. But now, whenever any of my children enter my personal space or my hug zone, they get hugged.
“Dad, why did God make me?”
“Dad, why can’t we go to heaven to see what it’s like, then come back home?”
“Dad, if God wants us to get to know Him, why doesn’t He let us see Him?”
All of the above are questions that my children have asked me. Why do I remember those out of all the questions they have ever asked? Well, because trying to answer those three questions is not something you easily forget.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that as difficult as some of my children’s questions are, taking the time to answer them is the most time-effective way to teach them. When children ask a question, all of their learning receptors are turned up to full. They’re curious. They’re thinking about it. They’re truly listening. They want to hear what you have to say. Taking a few moments to answer their questions can be more effective than hour-long sermons or lectures.
“That wasn’t a polite thing to say.” “Say ‘please.’ ” “Don’t forget your thank you’s!” “And what do you say?” “We don’t do that at the table!”
There are points in our parenting career when it seems like every second or third sentence gets invested in the quest for mannerly children. We’ve all been embarrassed (and we have the stories!) by our children while they were learning manners. We’ve also all been proud when they got it right and some stranger has commented on what polite children we have. Have you ever had the tables, or the table manners, turned on you? I have.
When my children were younger, I spent time teaching them that kindness in intent and tone should be the rule that governs all of our speech. To remind them when their speech to one of their siblings strayed from the kindness rule, I would gently but pointedly add a storybook quote to the end of their speech. After they fired off, I’d instantly say, “-she [or he] said in a kind and gentle voice.”
One of the criticisms leveled at bloggers, in the earlier days of weblogs, was that it seemed that bloggers blogged a lot about blogging.
I must admit that I’ve read many blogs about blogging but I think this is completely understandable. Carpenters love their tools and artists love their brushes. When people in the same discipline gather together, they tend to talk as much or more about their tools and techniques as they do about their latest project.
Blogging is relatively new and those embracing it are excited about learning from each other and getting better at it.
So to support my fellow bloggers and show my enthusiasm for this new and wonderful craft, this is my one blog about blogging.
I wanted to write something for Father’s Day that would encourage Dad’s and cause all of us to reflect more thankfully on the efforts of our own fathers. I started by looking for a wonderful ‘Hallmark-type’ quote that would set the tone. In the process I found that many of the things I wanted to say have already been said, and said well. Which is easy to understand since the first Father’s Day celebration reportedly happened ninety-eight years ago on July 5,1908.
The story goes that in West Virginia only two months prior to this event the first Mother’s Day had been celebrated. In the previous December a nearby mine explosion had taken the lives of 361 men, many of them fathers. A lady named Grace Golden Clayton inspired by either or both of these events, suggested that a special service should be held to honor fathers.