Tag Archives: parenting

First Day

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She was shaking her head, “no.” I really wanted her to say yes, so badly did I want her to say “yes.” But, she didn’t. She didn’t need me to stay. No matter how much I wanted to sit with her, hold her hand, keep her 6 forever, it was not going to happen. She was shaking her head and then said out loud, “no.”

It was time for me to go. It was time for her to grow.

This morning has been coming for months. She’ll be 7 in December. She had to start 1st grade sometime and sometime was this morning.

First grade is different somehow. Kindergarten is a separate issue altogether. When the numbered grades start, the clock starts. Today was 1. In twelve years, it’ll be done.

12 short years.

At breakfast, she was so excited. Anticipation was palpable. She had her new outfit, chosen for the first day of school, new backpack, new shoes, new everything. All I could see was my little one. My little girl I left as an infant on that second deployment. The little toddler I came home to. My oldest. My little that could now read and sing and reason. My pride.

We took pictures and off we went.

The process for this school is that everyone gathers in the school cafeteria and then the teachers take the students off to their assigned classroom. I walked her into the school, down the hallway and into a crowded cafeteria. I expected to hand her off to another adult but its 1st grade and she needed to do this on her own. I shook hands with a teacher who showed her where to sit.

We hugged. I saw a tear in her eye and that’s when mine started to get red. I asked her if she was ok and she said yes. Then I asked her if she wanted me to stay and she smiled, shook her head, and said, “no.”

She didn’t need me to stay.

Walking out, I’m reminded of Milne, “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

 

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Confusing hair metaphors

So, my daughter asked me this morning over breakfast:

“Dad, I’m wondering, if God loves you because of all of the hair on your head, how does that work if you are bald? I have a bald friend, (names him) and how does God love him if he has no hair?”

A fair question except my brain is still recovering from  my morning run so I stare at my coffee and she interprets that as needing more information.

“In Awana, it says in the Bible that God loves all of the hair on our heads..”

“Oh right. Well…” I go on to explain the verse and the idea of metaphors. Her response:

“Ok.”

Thankfully, my seminary-trained wife came in for the save. When she explained it, Sophie instantly got it. Go figure.

Oh the joys of explaining things to 6 year olds. #thanksawana

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Filed under Theology, thought of the day

Out of the Closet

I like Musicals. Always have.

We went to watch Frozen the other day.

We then bought the soundtrack.

Its been playing almost as much as Christmas music in our house for the last three days.

I would say that I’m a great parent and willing to listen to my kids favorite music but that would not be accurate. I will own that when I was at work yesterday, I wrote a memorandum whilst “Let It Go” blasted from my computer speakers.
I love that song. I love that Sophie loves that song.

Today, while I was reading the news, she came up to me in a pokadot dress and said, “Will you dance with me?”

Maybe its the prison. I looked at her big eyes and had this vision of her growing up. I’m getting old and my kids are growing up.

Christmas Eve 9 years ago, I met Sara for real. We talked till Christmas Day. Now we have three children, survived two deployments, have lived in 7 different cities, and still in love. It’s a different love. A resilient love born of adversity. The best kind.

Huh, didn’t intend to get all introspective, I intended to write about what I liked about Frozen. Here it is:

There is this strange power that one of the sisters has. It comes out when she has strong feelings. Fear, anger etc. Her well-meaning parents, acting on the information they have, keep her hidden away, avoiding anything that would trigger emotions. They teach her to control her power by suppressing it.

What a metaphor for suppressing anger, pain, and other emotions! Her power is uncontrollable and dangerous because she never learned to manage it. I resonate strongly with this. Much of my pastoral care is helping people integrate suppressed emotions into their present in a healthy way. When we suppress stuff, its going to come out and if we don’t learn to experience our emotions in a healthy way, explosions are the natural consequence. The energy has to go somewhere!

Redemption comes in the story as the queen learns to experience both the positive and negative sides of her power in a healthy way. Everybody benefits. I love it.

And, I’ve always liked Disney musicals. And musicals in general. I was a music major in college and its not good to suppress that side of me…

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R’s Fav Holidays… go figure…

So, my four year old son says to me tonight, “Do you want to guess my four favorite holidays?” 

“Of course. You have four?” 

“Yes. Four favorites.” 

“Can you have four favorites?” 

Silence. “Do you want to guess?” 

“Yes, Son, I do…” 

Here are my Son’s favorite holidays by order of importance: 

1. Halloween. 

2. Valantine’s Day (I got this one wrong) 

3. Easter (the hint was “this is when you look for Easter eggs” – I nailed it.) 

4. Field Trip Day. 

Here is a list of my understanding of why each holiday made the list: 

1. Candy

2. Candy

3. Candy 

4. Field Trip Day – does it really need an explanation? 

You’re welcome. 

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…you know you’re a two pastor family when…

…your wife is serving as the liturgist and midway through the hymn you realize that your two year old is melting down in front of the church and suddenly, the pastor morphs into a mom and you take over the liturgy….

So, there we were. It’s the government shutdown and that means that our organist, who is a government contractor (I know right? go figure) is emphatically NOT working. I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t going to be there but sure enough, on Sunday morning, we get to Memorial Chapel and it’s going to be me and my guitar rocking the old Lutheran Liturgy.

Awesome. 

I had prepared for that. 

About an hour earlier. 

Using a hymnal whose idea of a modern song is Amazing Grace. 

Ever tried to play old German hymns on the guitar? Not cool. 

My dad is about the only person I know who has even tried. Respect. 

But, we dove in. The congregation was totally cool, rolling with the reality that it was going to be a very different service. By the way, not having a big deal since we sing the liturgy. Yup. Every “Lord, have mercy” is sung. Needless to say, suddenly, we were reading it. 

Since a change like this threw their Dad into chaos, my children were not their usual awesomely behaved selves. 

Sara usually functions as the liturgist for our congregation. Normally not a big deal but Lenora, our two year old, was having none. of. it. 

So, there were were, conducting the service and very graciously (and smoothly I might add) transitioned from pastors leading the service to parents concerned with behavior. Sara whisked Lenora to the back and I took over. 

No one even noticed. 

Ok, that’s not true. It was pretty obvious. 

So, one more thing we have to work out. 

Always the parent…

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Kids in Worship.

We’ve got three kids. 5 (going on 12), 4, and just turned 2. It can be tough sometimes finding a church where we fit in. I have a value of my children attending a regular service. There is nothing wrong with kids church, I’m a fan – I just also value our children experiencing the significance of the adult service.
It can be challenging bringing kids to church. I too have not been above appealing to the paint function on an ipad (or that really awkward moment when the theme to “superwhy” that plays whenever the app opens rings out loudly in the middle of the sermon). It’s especially bad in my little church where the historic building has one bathroom that can only be accessed via a door off the main stage. Yeah. That’s right, you have to take your child down the middle aisle, right in front of the pulpit, where I am “breaking sacred bread” in order to let potty-training kiddo use the bathroom. If you listen closely, you can even hear the ancient toilet flush.
Even with all that, I still believe it’s important to bring your kids into the service. I’m a preacher and it does not bother me or phase me, or interrupt my train of though to have kids talking and coloring though the service. I do a kids message before my adult sermon that ties into concepts with the message and (when I remember) I also include a coloring page. None of these will keep a kids still for 20 minutes so if someone cries, they cry. No. Big. Deal.
All that said, I read this article today and thought it had some great ideas for making that transition from kids church to adult church.
Let your child get comfortable in the worship space.

1. Attend a child-friendly church.

A church that invites children to attend worship, that has a children’s time during worship or a service in which children are included, will not mind the noise and commotion that comes with having young children in worship.

2. Bring your child to church on a day other than Sunday morning.

Call the church office and make an appointment with a pastor, Christian education director, or church school teacher. Go on a tour of the church facility, and locate the Sunday school rooms and bathrooms as well as the sanctuary. Let your child explore the sanctuary, see how it feels to sit in the pew, and leaf through the Bibles and hymnbooks. Look behind the pulpit, Communion table, and baptismal font, and explain the use of these.

3. Take home a worship bulletin and go through the service at home.

Show your child that there are times to sit, to stand (and in some places, to kneel), to sing, to pray, and to listen. If the Lord’s Prayer is used, write down the words and let your child practice at home. Prepare offering envelopes and let your child put money in the envelope, and explain why the offering is important.

4. Play “Let’s go to church” at home.

Practicing the worship service at home will help your child feel more comfortable with what happens in worship.

5. Read the Bible and pray at home.

Purchase an age-appropriate Bible for your child and read the stories. Let your child handle the Bible and encourage questions. You can explain that the Bible is where we learn God’s story, and how we are part of that story. If you let prayer be a part of your everyday life, not just something you do at church, your child will understand its importance.

6. Sit near an aisle, near an exit.

If your child needs to go to the bathroom, or is feeling overly stimulated or having a disruptive day, don’t be embarrassed. Walk your child out of the sanctuary until she can work off a little energy, and then come back in. This is much easier if you don’t have to crawl across a row of other people in the pew!

7.  Be prepared with a worship notebook or bag.

Many churches provide materials for children to use during worship, but if not, bring your own supplies. Colored pencils can be used to mark the parts of worship in the bulletin as you go through them one by one. Get to church a few minutes in advance and use a bookmark to mark the hymns that will be sung that day. Have some coloring pages from a Bible coloring book for your child to color, or some blank pages for doodling. This is not disrespectful, and can help your child listen more attentively. Have the words of the Lord’s Prayer printed on a page for the child to follow, if he or she is of reading age. Let your child draw a picture of the anthem or hymns being sung, or the sermon, and give this to the choir director or pastor afterwards.

8. Teach basic church etiquette.

Speak to people before and after worship, and teach your child how to shake hands and greet others. If your child is shy, don’t force it, but practice at home and let your child see you greeting others. Let the child put the hymnbook and Bible away after use, and be sure to take your bulletin with you, rather than leaving it in the pew. Meeting other people and taking care of the church facility helps a child feel that “This is my church!”

9. Get to know the pastor.

Pastors of child-friendly churches love to get to know the children of the church. Introduce your child to the pastor after worship, and participate in other church activities so that the pastor becomes a friend and not a scary adult.

10. Don’t give up!

It may take awhile for your child to become comfortable in worship, and to learn how to sit quietly. The best way for this to happen is to attend worship on a regular basis. There may be days when it doesn’t go well, but don’t let this stop you from coming the following week. Practice makes perfect!
Inspired by Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! by Kathleen Bostrom, illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh (CandyCane Press, an imprint of Ideals Publications).

Thanks to Ministry Matters

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Best Warrior Competition by my son. Who is three. And awesome.

Epic Battles

I quizzed my son (who is three going on 4) today about who would win if they fought a battle.

Results:

Jedi Knight vs. Iron Man = Jedi

Jedi Knight vs. Thor = Jedi
(Why – Light Saber)

Spiderman vs. Thor = Spiderman
(Why – webs)

Superman vs. Ironman = Superman
(Why – strong)

Captain America vs. Jedi Knight = Jedi Knight
(Why – you know why)

Viking vs. Batman = Batman
(Why – Batman)

Who is the best warrior ever??

Jedi.

I thought it was awesome.

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That moment. Of Fear.

It was that moment.

I looked up from mowing the lawn and my three year old son was standing on the side of the road. A busy road. We live on the top end of a blind turn coming up hill. There is no shoulder. My son stood on the sliver of gravel between the blacktop and the overgrown grass by the ditch that runs between the driveway and the blacktop.

I was scared.

I yelled. I hollered over the lawn mower so in reality it was more of a scream. He looked up. I could see the confusion in his eyes.

It has been noted the men use the word “confusion” where there are deeper, more significant, undesirable emotions that want to be said but we are not at a place to say them.

I realized that I was screaming over the mower which was still running. I let go and shouted a warning to my son, “Stay where you are at, don’t move!!” I ran to him. Not realizing until later that I was running down the road in the middle of it between any unsuspecting drivers and my boy. I reached him in seconds that seemed like minutes. Dangerous minutes.

We live down a hill. We have a “back yard” at the bottom of the hill and a “top yard” by the road behind a fence. There is one, unmovable rule about the top yard, you can’t go past the fence. Ever. Never ever. The road is too busy.

I took him by the hand and we walked briskly back down the driveway.

When we got there I knelt down and looked at him. “Son, you can’t go by the road. You just can’t.”

He looked up at me and there were tears. Sudden, immediate, big tears rolling down his little, red cheeks. The angry, scared, hurt cry followed. I hugged him to my chest, tears in my own eyes. I was so scared. So afraid of what might have been. He was scared. Scared of his daddy who had yelled so loud, so angrily.

I held him until he was done crying and my heart was done racing. It took a minute. After trudging through the woods investigating some dragon tracks we found, the relationship was restored and all was well with the world.

Its like that with God sometimes. We experience the Divine yelling, screaming for us to get out of the way. Move. Stop doing what we are doing – because its hurting us and hurting God.

Fear not. All is well. Just get out of the road. Move away from the danger. Let God hold you close. It’ll be ok. All is well.

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Filed under Theology, thought of the day

Conflicted Change

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.  ~Anatole France

So, Tuesday morning, I took my children to school for the first time. Sophie, my four year old, went right to her class. She sat in her chair nervously looking around the room clearly filled with the excitement of this new thing in her life. Ransom, my three year old, was much more apprehensive about the whole thing. While he was very down with the dinosaurs and the puzzles, he clearly was not ready for mom and dad to leave the room. Mom and dad however, were filled with the conflicting emotions of being excited for the kids to have reached that first big pinnacle of childhood and the grief that they were growing up and out of the home. On the one hand I found myself immensely proud of my children for doing well in school and some latent fear of what impact setting my children out in the world would have on them. As I walked out of the school in the morning, hand in hand with Sara, my thoughts moved toward the reality that it has happened – life will never be what it was yesterday – our children were now under the influence of others. Only time will tell how we do and have done as parents. 

Change often brings conflicting emotions. How do you deal with them? How does one deal with the reality of change and the desire to keep things the same, the comfortable way one has always known? 
I think one of the secret is a constant evaluation of the current situation. Self awareness, family awareness. Is it the best way? Am I hanging on to this way of doing things because I’m comfortable with it or because it really is the best way of doing whatever it is I’m doing? 
 
I can only trust that where we’ve been has strengthened us for where we are going. 

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