3 Simple Habits We Have Adopted in our House to Honor Mom All Year

When I was a little boy I said something hurtful to my grandmother. A few moments later I saw the angriest version of my grandfather I had ever seen. It was just a conversation but I listened, as through tears of righteous anger, he let me know that was his wife that I had just insulted and he wouldn’t stand for it. The message was clear, “grandma was precious to him and she would be treated as such by me!” Somehow when he stood up for grandma, he had raised the level of respect in my heart for both of them.

I learned that day that husbands have a big influence in the way that their wives are viewed by their children.

I have another set of grandparents where my grandfather was an alcoholic and often verbally abusive and pushy towards his wife. I regret that as a child I did not regard this grandmother with as much honor and respect. My grandfather took her for granted and I’m ashamed to think that I did too as a child.

There came a point where I decided that I wanted to be more like my grandfather who was jealous (in a good way) for his wife and less like the grandfather who quite frankly mistreated his wife. I wanted something better for my marriage and for my children. So over the years I’ve adopted 3 simple habits and hope to adopt more to honor my wife in our home and in front of our children. 

Simple Habit #1: The first thing I did was I got the door for her. I know it’s a small thing, but for me it’s a heart thing. It’s one small way that I can demonstrate my love for her. My wife is very capable of getting her own door, but this is a simple way to honor her. My kids see this and think it’s normal. When my son was about four he walked one of the students from our youth group to her car and “got the door for her.” I want them to always think this way about their mother and about me. Small habits can sometimes teach big lessons.

Habit #2: I gossip about the goodness of my wife to our kids. From the time they were little they have heard me say, “you have got the best mom in the whole world! You need to honor her! God gave you an incredible mom!” When they were younger I would remind them about how she fed them, and clothed them and looked after their needs. I made it a point for them to know that I am truly their mom’s biggest fan. I go as far as to let them know that while I love them and want to be the best for them, that I love their mother most and I illustrate this by talking positively about her to them even behind her back!

Habit #3: The “Every Day is Mother’s Day” Motto. My wife truly does a lot, she’s not the kind of person you have to motivate, but the kind you have to slow down. She is very independent and will do everything rather than ask for help. So with the baby on the way we made a new rule in our house: “every day is Mother’s Day.” I love what this simple motto has done and is doing for both our children and my wife. It reminds my kids that they don’t need to be invited to do something like help their mother, but they can jump in and serve her like it is Mother’s Day. I also love watching my wife have to take a step back sometimes and let us help.  The other day I asked my son to do something to help his mom and he started to complain (he wanted to hang out with me) and so I simply reminded him that “Every day is Mother’s Day” and he stopped complaining and went right over and started helping his mom! He’s catching the vision.

What about you? What sort of things do you do in your house to honor mom all year long? We are always looking for more ideas!

 

Why I Stopped Ignoring the Lord’s Prayer and Started Using it to Disciple My Kids

I need to confess something. I used to have an antagonistic spirit toward the Model Prayer (or the Lord’s Prayer) as many call it. I knew it was in the scripture, but I felt like it was something that was foreign to me. I went to a Christian school from fourth through seventh grade and I’m sure that maybe I learned it there. It wasn’t something we recited in the home, it wasn’t something we recited at church, and I’m pretty sure the only reason I memorized it was because it was part of my school work.

So it sat dormant in the back of my mind. I think I also had a prejudice against it because I felt like the words became hollow when everyone said them in unison. I wondered if God would even hear the prayers of those who repeated these words. I mistakenly thought prayer was a one sided communication. I was supposed to just tell God what I needed and he was supposed to provide. I didn’t realize that prayer was one of the key ways that God changes our hearts.

Everything changed for me when I had kids. I wanted my kids to know God the way that I know God. My life was radically changed when I was about twenty-five years old and I haven’t quite gotten over it. I knew that the model prayer must be important. Who better to teach my kids how to pray than Jesus, right? At this point I thought I had it all figured out. I was praying my way for a while. I never thought to go back and look at what the Scripture says about prayer. I never thought to go back to this prayer that I had memorized. I never thought that this was anything more than a tool to use with my kids.

So I started teaching Miss R, my oldest, when she was about three. And Mr.N, my youngest, learned to say it as soon as he could talk. In fact we have a video of Mr.N saying the Model Prayer when he is about two years old. He’s recited it nearly 1000 times in his little lifetime now.

Not long into the journey something happened. I forget the spark that caused it all, but one day one of my kids was struggling with bitterness and I said, “Remember how Jesus teaches us to forgive in the model prayer,” and I shared the story of the unmerciful servant. Then one of my kids were concerned for someone and I said, “Remember how Jesus teaches us to ask God for our daily bread.” Then one day one of my kids was struggling with an injustice in their world, and we saw that the Lord’s prayer teaches us to ask for Jesus’ kingdom to come.” Then one day my daughter is consumed with her sin and as I pass by her door at night I hear her praying, “Dear Jesus will you forgive me for my sin just like I ask in the Lord’s prayer?”

I began to meditate deeply on the Lord’s Prayer, going over it again and again in my mind. Thinking through the implications and tangents to other scripture passages and I was amazed to realize that there was a lot more to the Lord’s Prayer than I had thought. I was the one guilty of repeating things without thinking, but with sincere meditation this has become I guide for me in how I pray.

One of the ways that the Lord’s Prayer effects us is it acts like a tuner. I have a guitar. I don’t play much but someone gave me a guitar… and a tuner. The tuner is helpful because the guitar is very prone to getting out of tune. You put the tuner on the end, play a note and then adjust accordingly. It works great when I use it. This prayer is like that. Our lives get out of tune. We begin to lose focus. We think life is really all about this thing or that thing and somehow we miss God in the mix. This prayer teaches us how to adjust our attention, our focus. Is your life filled with anxiety? Go to God in prayer like Jesus teaches us to and you will find peace in the midst of a troubled night. It tunes our hearts. It checks our actions. It exposes our secret motives. Most of all it focuses us on the supreme value of Knowing God.

Join me as I dig into the Model Prayer over the next few weeks. I’ll be sharing brief exposition with practical application. I won’t be blogging every day on this topic, but will be blogging frequently. Check back often to get the latest.

A Story of Restoration and Hope for the American Family

978-1-4143-6394-3I read Road Trip to Redemption: A Disconnected Family, a Cross-Country Adventure, and an Amazing Journey of Healing and Grace a while back and was greatly encouraged.  The Author, Brad Matthias, shares a detailed story about his family’s breakdown and reconnection. The book chronicles a road trip that the author and his family took in search of healing.

I grew up in the general area where most of the road trip takes place (the North West US and Southern Canada) and I remember traveling to some of the same sights with my parents and grandparents. So I have to admit that part of me was longing to go on a similar trip just to re-live part of my childhood.

The real gold to the story though wasn’t the tale of the open road (though the Matthias family does encounter a few obstacles and victories along the way), but of how the family reconnected throughout the journey. I appreciated the insights shared by the all the family members in their journals and was blessed to be able to share in their journey in a small way. I don’t think this book was intended to be an instruction manual as much as an encouragement. The author is transparent in his struggle to illustrate that he hasn’t always been there for his family like he should, but even broken families can be restored and brought back together through the power of the gospel.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good non-fiction read. It’s especially good for dad’s who are looking at how to reconnect with their teenagers. It’s really not a “how to” manual, but it does provide some solid advice in the form of a story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How to Raise a Daughter: 15 Small Steps for Dad’s that Make Difference in the Lives of Their Daughters

 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  (2)  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.  (3)  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  (4)  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  (5)  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. – Psalm 127

 

Children are like arrows, they have to be aimed and let go. Below are a few practices that I have set out to keep up with my daughter that take very little time, but will shape her whole life and prepare her for the future.  I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I am intentional.  I hope this list provokes your thoughts on the simple things we do as parents and how they can make a world of difference for your children.

1. Tell her you love her every day of your life (say it multiple times and in multiple ways each day)

2. Teach her that character, not make-up brings out her true beauty.

3. Tell her everything special that you like about her mom on a regular basis (especially in regards to her character)

4. Teach her to give her best effort on every project

5. Tell her you are proud of her (and highlight the things you are proud of, especially when you know she gave her best effort).

6. Give her a hug everyday (even in the teenage years when things get a little awkward and you realize that she’s closer to being a woman than a little girl).

7. Tell her that she is beautiful (just like her mom… give her a womanly role model worthy of emulation and affirm her mother in front of her often).

8. Teach her to be thankful for everything (Thank God for simple pleasures like apples and other fruit that God gave us for our pleasure).

9. Give her responsibility and hold her accountable (nothing says love like trust, expectation, and a little help along the way).

10. Hit Pause on the Disney shows and talk about real life issues (though “family friendly,” most kids shows are centered on someone telling a lie, a weak or non-existent father character, and kids running the show… you are your daughters filter, but you won’t always be… help her discern truth for error even in her entertainment options).

11. Pray for her everyday of your life.

12. Pray with her every day. (and let her hear you pray for her)

13. Teach her to pray.

14. Read the Bible together every day. (Starting with a reliable Story Bible and working into a good translation. Start reading to her and then work into her reading to you, especially if she is younger.)

15. Memorize scripture and Spiritual questions and answers together often (at lease weekly).

 

“Secure Daughters, Confident Sons” by Glenn Stanton

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity by Glenn Stanton is a book about raising sons and daughters to be confident boys and girls.  Mr. Stanton argues extensively that men and women are equal, but different.  He bases his argument on Genesis 1:27 but he also makes a solid case for gender differences by utilizing information from various studies done across cultural lines.

Mr. Stanton does a great job of fleshing out the different functions that men and women take place in shaping society.  I was especially grateful for the careful way in which the author outlined examples of strong men and women who exude their masculinity and femininity.  He also does a fantastic job of expressing the influence that a mother and father have on a child’s life.

Overall the book was positive and seeks to be non-offensive.  Perhaps this is also its greatest pitfall.  While I praise Mr. Stanton for a book well written, I also wonder if more might be said about the differences between men and women and how we treat one another if he were not writing for such a broad audience.

I really appreciated this book and can see how it would be for a wise investment for parents regardless of how old their children are.   The retail price of Secure Daughters, Confident Sons is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $10.19. I gave it five stars.

If you are looking for more information about the equality, yet uniqueness of men and women check out the website for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Teaching Our Kids to Take Risk

There are 2 kinds of danger when it comes to being a dad.  There is the danger that fills our world and we must make provision to protect our children.  We protect and provide for our kids by plugging up electrical sockets with those clear plastic things and placing cleaning chemicals beyond reach.  We train our children to hold our hand, to be suspicious of strangers and to stay away from stray neighborhood pets that “might” secretly hate children.  We scare away the nightmares and wipe away the tears.  We teach our kids to wash their hands.  We tell them if they are lost to find a police officer or a woman (women are slightly less likely to be child predators than men… I know its profiling and I really don’t care when it comes to the safety of my child).  We teach them to be safe.

Then there is the other kind of danger.  Its the danger of being too safe.  Its the danger of teaching our kids to  stay close to home and not take risk.  There will be times when my children will need to take risks. I’m failing as a dad if I do not push my kids out of the nest at some point and say, “You have to ride the bike with out the training wheels.”  Other wise I end up with a 30 year-old kid stuck living at my house who cries at the injustice of running out of cheerios for breakfast.

The reality is that most things worth doing in life involve taking calculated risk and being dangerous.  To ask my wife out on our first date I had to risk rejection.  To keep a few people with me safe from harm I had to risk my life or bodily injury (thankfully I won the gamble on that one).  To share the gospel with people in one of our inner cities I had to risk exposure to an area with a high crime rate (I grew up in rural America).  To follow God’s call on my life I had to risk selling our house in a down market and move an hour away to another city.

Sometimes risk is good.  Sometimes we fall on our faces even after taking well thought through and calculated risk.  I guess the line  between risk and safety comes when “right” or “reward” enters the equasion.  I asked my wife out because of the possible reward of finding a wonderful marriage partner (by the way I am glad I did). I stood between a man recently released from jail and two young ladies he was threatening because it was the right thing to do.  I would rather my kids do the right thing than the safe thing, I would rather them risk in pursuit of worthy goals than never have them attempt anything worthwhile.

Perhaps the hardest part of parenthood is giving our kids the right to fail and the freedom to take risk.

How do you teach your kids to interact with a dangerous world?

Why We Hunt Easter Eggs, But Don’t Teach Santa

What a Father says to His Daughter on Valentines Day

3 Annoying things I’m Glad My Parents did when I was a Teenager

3 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Daughter After Watching New Moon

Avatar: 3 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Son After Watching Avatar

Ok before I start its only fair to say that my son isn’t a teenager (he’s almost 2 months old) and I’m really not a fan of Avatar.  But because I had the opportunity to see the movie and I work with teenagers (and I can imagine my son being a teenager one day), I went to the movies with the eyes of a father.  I posted something similar earlier in a post entitled, 3 things I’d tell my Teenage Daughter After Watching New Moon.

Here are three things I’d tell my son after we watched Avatar together…

1. Amazing Story (telling)  Does Not Equal Truth

The movie Avatar was one of the most amazing special effects movies I have ever seen (Especially seeing it in 3D).  Not only was the cinematography convincing, but the story line drew the viewer into the movie.  There were actually people clapping and cheering around us at different parts.  It was amazing, but it wasn’t true.

I know, I know your saying, “Duh! Dad, That’s the point.” But I want you to hear me out on this one.  We can see things projected on a screen that amaze us.  We can allow our imaginations to be invited along on a journey such as this, but we have to understand that this is fantasy.   Fantasy can’t inform our logic.  Remember, I told you a story about a kid who said he believed that all the miracles of the Bible could be explained by aliens.  His interest in science fiction had lead him so far as to believe it more rational for aliens to manipulate us than to believe that God could work in His own creation.

You are an intelligent young man.  I am proud of your ability to reason.  As I have told you countless times before the faith I hold is my own.  I have taught you truth about God, but you must use your own mind to engage the truth about God and come to your own place of faith in Him.  It is not enough to blindly follow me on the path I tread.  You must seek wisdom for yourself.  Your eyes must be open.

2. We Don’t Have to Look to the Movies to See Injustice

You have grown so much from the little infant that once peed on me.  I can see you becoming a man more and more each day.  You are taking on responsability and helping others.

Do you remember how people were cheering in the movie during the battles scenes?  The director did a great job of creating a sense of injustice.  Did you see the look on the alien faces when their home was being destroyed?  There was so much sorrow and so much anguish.  But that was just a movie.  In parts of our world today, even in our city, there is injustice.  People are being taken advantage of and hurt many times just because of their ethnicity or their beliefs.

It is our responsibility to challenge injustice when we see it.  Ultimately all injustice will find its day in the court of our high King who will call for a reckoning of the living and the dead.  Every evil dead or act of wickedness will be exposed and called into account.  Hell is not a doctrine contrived so that people would conform to faith.  Hell is the reality and logical end God’s justice.  It is also what makes his love and mercy poured out in Christ so amazing.

That is why we seek to go out of our way to tell others about God.  Not only because He is just, but because He is loving.  All of us have sinned against others and been sinned against.  We all need justice and forgiveness that can only be found in Jesus.

3. Living Vicariously Doesn’t Equal Real Living

I am proud of you for the work ethic that you have developed.  I know at times that it was difficult when your mother and I limited the screen time that you absorbed.  The truth is that football games, movies (like avatar) and video games are all entertaining, but there is so much more to life than entertainment.

There is a whole sense in this movie where Jake becomes the Avatar.  At first its like a video game, but then the lines between his world and the rest of Pandora blend.  This may fit well for a movie plot, but it does not bode well for real life.  As you grow older and take on the responsabilities of being a man you will have to choose for yourself how you spend your time.  My desire is that you would choose to engage in this life fully.

I knew guys who flunked out of college because they stayed up late playing video games.  In the end the video games and TV won’t last.  The exercise we get from watching SEC football games doesn’t count for us like it does for they guys who are in the game.  My prayer for you is that when it comes to how you will live your life and the decisions you make, that you are fully engaged.

While there is more that could be said and discussed about the movie.  I thought these three points were worth talking about briefly.