Advice for Dads

This Sunday in the USA is Father’s Day so today I thought I’d share some advice for dads. No, I’m not a dad, but I do have a dad so I’m sharing from the perspective of a child, which I think is an important perspective for dads to consider. Yes, sometimes we’ll choose to do things differently as a parent than our parents did because we didn’t have a good experience growing up, or because we’re just different people. But there are some things that all great dads do, or who they are that we’re going to talk about today.

One of the biggest keys to being a great dad is making the most of the time you have with your kids. With most parents working these days it’s challenging for everyone to get tons of time with both or either of their parents, unless they work from home. So I’m not going to say that you have to spend as much time as possible together with your kids to be a great dad, but to make the most of the time you do have. For example one family I work with has pancakes made by dad every Saturday, and it’s something they look forward to all week.

One other way to be a great dad is to take vacation days. Maybe they’re days with special school events, a week in the summer to do things around the house and take a day trip, a day in late November or early December to do holiday shopping with the kids, the ideas are endless. It’s not always about spending tons on expensive destination vacations (although it’s good to do at least one of them if you can), it’s about taking the vacation days for the big and little things, things that will matter to your kids and your kids will appreciate seeing you there for.

Finally, the best way to be a dad is to show and tell your kids that you love them. Through the little things you remember and ask them about, the little treats you bring them, the ways you make their day, and moments you take to read them stories or hear their stories at the end of the day even when you’re exhausted.

What advice do you have for dads?

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Faith, Love and Moms

With Mother’s Day just a few days away here in the US I’m thinking about moms, and maybe you are too. It’s not always easy to be a mom, and we don’t always give moms the credit they deserve for the amount of time and effort they put in to their kids. Even the 9 month commitment and accompanying sacrifices to carry a child is more than some of us give to things in our lifetimes. No, not all moms are great, and not all women are really cut out to be moms, and some moms need more help than others. There’s nothing wrong with admitting and recognizing that you’re not cut out to be a mom or that you’re in need of help, there are lots of people who are willing to help you and plenty of families who are great with kids and can raise the next generation.

So as I was thinking about moms, it got me thinking about the very complicated topic that love is. Love is so many things, it’s an emotion, how we describe relationships, how we describe others, something that can unite, something that can soothe, something that can hurt, a feeling and so much more. But one of the biggest things that love is, is a choice. Even in cases of love at first sight, we have to choose to love the other person, and choose to do the work that it takes to keep that love healthy and strong.

One of the most important choices moms make is whether or not to love their children. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, and moms have to make a choice to choose love, or something else. One of the most important qualities a Godly mother can bring to the table is not just an attitude of gratitude, but an attitude of love.  When she teaches, guides and even disciplines with an attitude of love, it creates a solid foundation for us to grow into the people God has create us to be, and gives her the strength to do it in a way that honors God.

It’s almost guaranteed that we’ll be hurt in our lifetimes, but if we have learned from the cradle to have faith in Jesus, how to be thankful and how to love, we’ll understand the importance of forgiving, have the foundation to be able to do it and be able to move on in our lives with love, confident in knowing that God’s got something better for us.  So this week, so a mom you know some love. Maybe it’s with a card or gift, or maybe just the gift of time and a visit from you.

Celebrating St. Patrick

Saturday in the US (and in Ireland) we’ve celebrated St. Patrick‘s Day.  While many people celebrate it by drinking, eating and wearing green, the holiday itself is named for a Saint.  So I thought we’d take a look at who the individual was and why he’s honored on this holiday.

He, Patrick, was a missionary back in the 5th century to Ireland.  He is one of the primary saints of Ireland and many credit him as having brought Christianity to Ireland.  Of all the holidays that are celebrated in the US today, St. Patrick is one of the few people that a holiday is named for specifically, and not as part of a larger celebration or remembrance.

I don’t think it ruins the memory or honoring of St. Patrick to have a drink and wear a little green, just like decorating a tree, having cookies or hunting for eggs doesn’t hurt Jesus or the true meaning of Christmas/Easter.  One of the reasons we celebrate St. Patrick is to honor our heritage if we’re Irish, and to honor and remember our heritage in general.  St. Patrick’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate whatever heritage you have, and especially to pass traditions, stories and icons on to the next generation so they’re not lost.

But it is also important to take time to remember what the stories of Jesus and St. Patrick are all about: their faith.  Both men are known because they chose to step up for their faith and the faith of countless others.  It’s not necessary to go to another country and share your faith like St. Patrick did, that’s just one way to do it.  You can practice the countless much smaller but not less significant examples of faith that Jesus showed through every kind word, loving touch, and prayer you pray.

How will your faith and heritage live today?

Reality Reflection: The Next Generation

Today in the US is Mother’s Day.  It’s a chance we all have to celebrate the moms and mom figures in our lives. We’re not at the point that we can just create kids, they’re still born the old fashioned way, even if sometimes a little extra help is necessary to get them here.  I’m amazed with how far we have come with the technology/science we have to help kids into the world, and the technology/science we have that helps us all live longer and enjoy more time together as a family.

This week of course I’ve been reflecting on the upcoming Mother’s Day and on the state of the world and the kids of the world and the moms of the world.  From a quick glimpse at the internet or any TV news program (and many TV shows) it’s pretty evident that there are problems in the world.  Whether we try to be blind to it or not, there’s a huge problem with drugs (and I’m not talking medical marijuana use).  There are too many people dying each day from drug overdoses.  Which also says there are too many people using drugs to escape problems or reach for some high they’re not finding in life normally or doing it to be “cool.”  There are also the stories of the not-so-good moms who don’t seem to have a care in the world, especially not about raising their kids with any manners, good behavior and goals.  There are also some not so good statistics and stories about the kids of the world and some people have concerns about the ability of the next generation to run things in a responsible and thoughtful manner, regardless of their parent/parents teaching.

Can we all use some improving? Yes, absolutely.  But Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to talk about the next generation.  Do I believe that some moms need to step it up and do a much better job? Absolutely.  Some moms don’t have the resources to care for their kids and don’t make any effort to get the widely available resources for them.  They don’t feel that maternal bond or need to care for them that some moms do (the same is true for dads as well).  But if you’ve been around for a bit you know I’m a supporter of the concept of having a village raise a child.  There’s no reason for anyone to try to do it on their own.  That means that each and every one of us has a responsibility to check how we’re behaving and talking around kids, to support child related organizations and charities and to step up for our own families when they need the support.  Tomorrow can be a bright future, but only if we all step up for the next generation.

Mother’s Day Blessings

Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day we stop to appreciate and remember those women who have had an impact on our lives.  A word that I think really sums up this celebration is blessing.  It’s a word I’ve been sharing about quite a bit with you lately, because it’s an important word, one that often gets buried in our lives underneath “challenge” and “problem”.  This Mother’s Day think about these different blessings:

Bunches of Blessings:
One of the easiest and most popular gifts for Mother’s Day is flowers.  Personally, I prefer the potted kind instead of the cut kind because they last longer.  Whatever your flower preference is, don’t forget that what you’re giving isn’t as important as remembering to truly celebrate the one you’re giving them to.  Think of not only what you’re gifting, but also the gift of having a mother this Mother’s Day.

Bountiful Blessings:
In this world of abundance, abundant gas prices, abundant unemployment, and abundant opportunities for growth, change and development, one thing we don’t stop to think about is having abundant blessings.  Psalm 23:6 sheds some light on where we get those abundant blessings: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  More so than anyone, mothers should be dwelling with God.  If they’re to be amazing mothers, they need a lot of strength, wisdom and many blessings from God.

Boxes of Blessings:
Sometimes our blessings come in disguise.  I’ve been meditating a lot on a song by Laura Story, Blessings, (on YouTube).  Her song reminded me that sometimes our blessings are like items that we get in boxes in the mail.  We don’t really know what’s in the box, but we hope it’s what we want.  Sometimes, the box doesn’t contain what we want, or what we did want is in the box but it’s not in good condition.  It’s the boxes of blessings that most often bring us to our knees asking for guidance.

Bundles of Blessings:
Mother’s Day is a celebration of the gift of life. Psalm 139 contains David’s thoughts on how God begins our lives with us.  God’s special plan for each of our lives includes our mothers.  If you are blessed with the opportunity to be a mother, remember to thank God for it, because not everyone is blessed with that calling.

This Mother’s Day, in all of the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to say a prayer for all of the mothers around the world, and those who have a desire to be mothers.   Also, consider the bunches, bounty, boxes and bundles in your life.  These aren’t just lessons for Mom, they’re lessons that everyone needs to gather in their life.

Psalm 16:5 says “Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.  You guard all that is mine.”  I hope that blessings overflow in your life (and your mom’s life) this weekend, and I encourage you to take the time to celebrate and recognize all the blessings God sends your way.

Simple and Smart Organization

Today I’m thinking about some ways that we can be more organized.  I’m a big fan of being organized, I like things being in their special places so that I can always find them.  Even if I’m the only person who knows where something is I usually know where it is because I put it back in its spot.  Organization doesn’t have to be challenging and complicated and it’s something that the whole family can (and should) participate in.  Many people struggle with getting started which is the best time to hire an organizer to work with for a period of time until there’s a system in place and you can get into the habit of putting things back. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to be better organized.

Have a structure: this is an important part of being organized, and really the first thing that has to happen if you want to get organized.  If you don’t have a structure for how you organize and homes for everything, there’s no way you can get organized, let alone find anything. Invest in a good cabinet or shelving system and boxes for any room in the house that will have books, toys, clothing, paper, or other products in it including the office, kids rooms, kitchen, storage room, attic, garage, bedroom, basement, and/or bathroom(s). That’s the physical organization, but don’t forget about the other types of organization like apps that help you with grocery lists, to do lists, and communications between family or teams, and folders and labels on your computer.

Get the family involved: just because it sounds like a grown-up thing to do, getting organized is something the kids can participate in too, especially if the organization plan is such that it’s easy for them to do so.  Having things stacked high on shelves is great for getting them out of the way and maximize use of available space, but putting them long and low gives your kids an opportunity to do more of the cleaning.  Also being able to sort the toys into boxes for easy play and cleanup is important.  If your kids aren’t reading yet you can cut and tape pictures of the type of toy on the box and matching lid so they know what to put in it.

Have a plan: some people do better if they organize as they go along, other people prefer to make a mess and clean up at the end of the day.  I do a mix of both, some things I clean or put away as I go along like dishes going into the sink, but other things I put away at the end of the day because I use them throughout the day like pens, schedules and important papers.  The important thing is that by the end of the day everything should be cleaned up and ready for the next day.

What do you do to get organized and keep your life and family on track?

A Healthy Next Generation

The Bible talks a lot about parenting and how important it is to consider the next generation.  We have seen what happens when the next generation doesn’t care or doesn’t have the standards of the previous one, or is the opposite and believes that the past generations haven’t been doing a good job in their roles of caretaker, provider, protector and teacher.  Right now we’re in a mix of all these, there are those who believe we’ve been doing a great job at killing the earth through some of our practices and are making strides to change that, and then there are others who haven’t learned manners and don’t really care what happens to the next generation as long as they get to enjoy their time.

But as I said, over and over the Bible talks about how important it is to be teaching each other what is good. Yes, that means in the Biblical and spiritual sense, but also about the basic good things like love, peace, consideration, empathy, sympathy, critical thinking, community and kindness.  These aren’t spiritually motivated things specifically, but at the same time they can be done as part of your daily spiritual practice.

During His time on earth Jesus spent some time talking about and spending time with children.  He didn’t ignore them or count them out because they were ‘too young to know what the adults were talking about.’  Instead, He emphasized the fact that they were valuable and important and should be taught and loved, not just ignored until they were old enough to matter.  They’re also a great source of curiosity and wisdom that we often unfortunately lose touch with as we get older and more involved with the world and our responsibilities.  So not only should we be teaching them and thinking of them as we make choices and live our lives, we should be watching and learning from them too.

How healthy is your relationship with and attitude towards the next generation?  Are you so focused on your generation that you aren’t seeing the future ones?