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.

Coveting vs Contentment

I taught my daughter the Ten Commandments… She can say them all from memory. Then came the task of defining some of the words for her (she is only six at the time of the original posting of this article). She needed a definition that she could understand for the word “covet.” We did our best and came up with “not being content with what you have, so you try and satisfy your heart with thoughts of possessions that don’t belong to you… This causes you to look for happiness in things instead of God,” for coveting.

It has been interesting to see her process and try to grasp the term coveting. She uses the word coveting, but we try and highlight the positive aspect of being content. The real struggle, as with everything in parenting, is that we are imperfect parents.

Teaching my daughter about coveting has taught me more about my own heart. It seems impractical to chide my child about being content with what she has (and she has a lot), if I am buying up every new gadget out there (I’ve resisted the I-pad ever since it came out). Not that buying stuff is wrong… Coveting has nothing to do with what you buy and has everything to do with your heart. You really don’t have to buy stuff to covet. You can be poor as poor can be and in your heart think that if you just had enough money, stuff, etc. you would be satisfied. If you believe that, then your heart is turning away from God. It’s irrelevant whether or not you make the actual purchase if you look to a product, possession, job, etc. to provide you with happiness. True and lasting happiness comes with a real relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Remembering his sacrifice and his joy has helped me understand and be more content with what I have and ultimately who I am in Him. Like the Apostle Paul, I have learned to be content (though this is a battle I often fight every day and have to relearn often).

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

This is my prayer for my kids. I know that if they grow up content in whatever situation they find themselves that they will be well rounded happy adults who are more likely to be submitted to the will of God. I wouldn’t want the desire for a bigger house keep them from the mission field (should God call). I wouldn’t want the pursuit of comfort keep them from living for the Eternal.

It’s easy to get distracted, to feel entitled, or to just plain place your hope in an object or status. It’s not that I don’t want my kids to have stuff. All good parents love giving their kids gifts. I just don’t want them looking past the gift to the next big thing and forget the one who gave them all the gifts.

To be honest it’s too easy to look past the Lord’s provision sometimes. If we are not careful we will think our situation in life is less than is should be because we don’t have an appliance, gadget, etc. Yet these things are not eternal; they do not satisfy. We were made for greater things and when we find ourselves content in little or much we are in a place to be used by God who meets all of our needs in Jesus.

Dads, Daughters and Date Days

Right around 5-years ago I became a dad.  The nurse handed me this precious little baby girl and I knew that it would all be different from that day forward.  My life had changed and all the sudden I felt the pressure to not to drop the ball.

Now She is almost 5-years-old and smarter than I ever imagined a 5-year-old being.  She knows me well.  To be honest, sometimes its uncomfortable.  She doesn’t come with a filter.  In fact that’s what a lot of parenting is… introducing a filter.

Just being gut level honest… It’s not easy to introduce a filter and help your kids process life.  Most of the time the easy thing to do is to go cut the grass (because its over due and you wonder what your neighbors are thinking about your un-kept yard), or read a book (because you need some quiet time after they have tugged on our arm and said, “Dad” a million times in a row just to get you to look at their newest drawing and act like its the best thing since Michael Angelo), or Watch TV while your kid takes an hour long bath and shrivels up like a prune (because you’ve had a long day dealing with other peoples problems… not to mention your own).  Its actually quite easy to just show up, give out a hug, maybe play a token game or two with your kid, talk to your wife, go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow without ever really parenting.

To be completely honest.  I don’t always succeed at taking advantage of all the “dad” moments that I could.  But I know I need to.  I know that I love my kids (no matter how many times they say “dad” in a row while I’m trying to figure out the algebra problems I’ve created  in the check book). I know that they need me.  I know that I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now living with regrets on how I wasted these formable years because someone else said, “that’s normal” or “that really never messed up my kid.” (After all they aren’t accountable for how I raise my kids).

So we have set some things in place in my family in order to capitalize on these younger years with my daughter.  I tuck her in bed most nights and read 1 or 2 stories to her from her Jesus Story Book Bible .  We also pray together.

On some Sunday afternoons we are more intentional.  We have this 105 picture set of pictures describing events in the Bible.  She picks out several pictures and I walk her through the story and how it relates to Jesus and obedience to God.  She looks forward to our time on Sundays and its often in this context that we process how the stories tell us about who God is and how we can relate to Him through our decisions.

My favorite part of the week is taking her out for breakfast once a week before school, we call it a Father-Daughter date.  The regular scheduled time gives me a solid hour of quality time with her.  We do everything from eating pancakes, talking about our her week, sharing ideas on how to color a picture, reading books, to picking up a small gift or surprise for my wife and her mom.  Its often in the context of this date that I get opportunities to share about Jesus with folks we meet there.

Its the date days that I really think my daughter gets to see the fullest picture of her dad.  There is no topic off limits and she often brings up some great questions.  We process life together and I intentionally help unmask the world around her through the lens of scripture. Sometimes we talk to people, sometimes we pray with people, and sometimes we just enjoy pancakes and a good story.

You see, here is what I know.  My daughter reads my actions better than my intentions. So it makes sense that I would be intentional about my actions.  I say that church is a family event, yet when we get there I am pulled a million different places (as I should be) because I’m on staff at the church.  So we arrive together and leave together on purpose (even though it would be more convenient not to).  I say I love her, so I am intentional about spending quality and quantity one-on-one time despite having a hectic and busy schedule.  I say I love Jesus, so I intentionally help her process her world through the lens of scripture.

I want her to know me.  I want her to know that I love her.  I want her to know that I am proud of her.  I want her to know that as a father I will do what is best for her.  Its really not about my good intentions, its about intentionally being a dad. I hope one day she looks back on her childhood and treasures the times we talked over pancakes as much as I do.

What about you?  What are some of the things that you are intentional about with your children?

 

Wandering in the Dessert (Review)

Wanderin’ in the Desert (3rd Disc from What’s in the Bible with Buck Denver) is a fascinating yet educating program.  I watched it with my four year old daughter and we talked about the program.  I was really impressed with the material on two levels.  On one level I was impressed with how much content was packed into the two 30 minute shows.  It is clear that the creators were intent on presenting a conservative view of scripture (for which I am deeply appreciative).  They also took great care to answer relevant questions on kid friendly level. On a second level , I was impressed with how the writers took care to draw the information to a simple point of real application.  Not only was there information about the reliability of scripture, but there was a subtle yet evident plea to trust the God of the Scripture.

My daughter, though she was able to retain a lot of information from the program, was impressed on a different level.  The program was fast paced enough to keep her attention all the way through.  She really enjoyed the songs making me play them over and over for her.  After the program I asked her several questions and she responded pretty well.

Overall I was highly impressed with the 3rd disc as I have been with the whole series to date.  The only draw back was that in between segments it shows a little boy (puppet) talking a little disrespectfully to his mother who is silent and off camera.  I discussed this with my daughter as an example of behavior that I expect her not to emulate. Beyond that the whole production is pretty amazing.  I would highly recommend it to parents and grandparents to watch and review with their children.  I can see it being a great resource for bible lessons!  I give it four stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a DVD of this program 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.”

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?

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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

Review: Dad’s Bible (NCV)

Dad’s Bible: The Father’s Plan (affiliate link) is a NCV Bible with special notes written by Robert Wolgemuth geared towards fathers.  There is also a NCV Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers (affiliate link) written by Bobbie Wolgemuth geared for mothers.  I really enjoyed reading my Dad’s Bible this past week.  The Bible is very user-friendly assuring that it is a good gift for dad’s who are new to reading the Bible.  The New Century Version is a very easy to read version and there are several explanatory notes that help the reader to understand cultural nuances.  The Articles by Robert Wolgemuth do a great job of illustrating the main principle of the text.

I would highly recommend this Bible to new dads and dads who are new to reading the Bible.  I imagine that it will make a great father’s day gift for dad’s who are just beginning to get interested in spiritual things.  It also makes a great reading bible, though I wouldn’t suggest it for in-depth study.  Originally I was planning on giving my copy away, but I ended up liking it so much I may end up using it on a regular basis as a reading Bible.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Dad’s Bible: The Father’s Plan  (affiliate link), the retail price is $29.99 (Hardcover), and is worth every penny.  It is also available at places like Amazon.com for $19.79 (affiliate links).  I gave it four stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book (affiliate link) free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”