Dad You Be Happy

UntitledThe other day I was feeling very overwhelmed, tired, and just didn’t have much to give. Unfortunately rather than owning that, when my kids – were well kids – and did something wrong I got really mad. Like no reason to be that mad. And I couldn’t shake it.

The truth was I was already mad before they did anything, their little lapses just gave me a reason to let it out. The sad part is that sometimes we don’t get angry with the people who cause us hurt, just the ones who are easier to take it out on (our kids, spouse, etc).

But my kids did something amazing, because I think they are occasionally better people than I am.

My guess was that they hadn’t seen me that mad probably much. Because Hudson gave me a hug, got changed, and went upstairs and went to bed on his own and just waited for me to turn off the lights. This has never ever happened before. Asher also went upstairs, brushed his teeth, and while I was putting Eden to bed came in and said this to me, “Dad this a happy house, you not be mad. You be happy, I happy too, we happy family.”

Sometimes with a simple little phrase you realize how much you blew it, and also how much you have to learn and grow.

But here is the beautiful part of parenting even when you blow it; you get to keep trying, learning, and growing. You get to take moments like that where you blew it and ask for forgiveness, and be thankful for your family. Because parenting is not a sprint, but a journey – and sometimes it’s your kids who actually point you in the right direction.

Strong Start: Family, Future, and Marbles

marbles-1421822-1279x1699[GUEST POST: Andrew Epp ~ Family Pastor]

On Sunday we continued in our series on starting 2016 strong, and specifically in the area of our families. During the sermon we journeyed with a family via video and watched their baby grow up and eventually move out, showing us that there are different phases in life and we need to make sure we don’t miss them.

If you missed it you can find the video’s and the presentation here:

Here are the 5 questions we looked into on Sunday:

  • How am I connecting my child to a wider circle of influence?
  • Who do I want my child to become?
  • How am I fighting for the heart of my child?
  • How has spiritual development been part of our family rhythm this week?
  • Is my relationship with God, growing, authentic and personal?

Here are some of the main points that we discussed on Sunday:

Parenting priorities

  • What matters more than anything is that my kids have an authentic relationship with God.
  • My wife and I are not the only adult influences my children need.
  • My children need to know that I will never stop fighting for a right relationship with them.
  • My relationship with God and with my wife affects my children more than I realize.
  • Just being together can never substitute for interacting together in a meaningful way.

No one has more potential to influence your child than you.

  • You are the primary influence in the life of your child.
  • Teachers, pastors and coaches will never have as much potential to influence a child’s character, self-esteem, perspectives, or faith as a parent does.
  • That teacher pastor or coach will have influence that is temporary, your influence as a parent will be permanent.
  • Your relationship gives you the potential to influence in ways that others cannot.

You are not the only influence your children need.

  • tap into other influences that also have the potential to impact your children’s future.
  • You can leave your children alone to discover random influences who will shape their character and faith, or you can help them proactively pursue strategic relationships for their lives.

Two combined influences will make a greater impact than just two influences.

If they work together they can potentially make a greater impact than if they work alone.  

The 5 questions at the beginning of the page are focused around 5 values come from the book Parenting beyond your capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof

Value 1) Parenting Values Widen the Circle

  • Invite others to invest in your children, so that your sons and daughters have other voices that help shape and determine the direction of their lives.
  • The time will come when your child needs another trusted adult who would give them a safe place to wrestle with difficult issues.
  • The church has huge potential to provide community for children. Research tell us that teens who had at least one adult from church make a significant time investment in their lives were more likely to keep attending church and that the more adults the better.
  • This community gives them a sense of belonging and significance.
  • It allows mentors to DO ministry with the child and serve with them.
  • Widen this circle as early as possible before children need them so that they will be there when they need them.

Key Question: How am I connecting my child to a wider circle of influence?

Value 2) Imagine the End

  • Focus your energy and effort on the issues that matter most and will make a lasting impact.
  • It is more important to leave a legacy of faith rather than an inheritance of wealth.
  • Moses said everything I have said and everything I will say hinges on one essential truth: our God is God. Everything is really about Him.
  • A child’s relationship with God is more important than their relationship with parents. That they would pursue a relationship with God as their highest priority.

Key Question: What do I want my child to become?

Value 3) Fight for the Heart

  • Create a culture of unconditional love in your home to fuel the emotional and moral health of your children.
  • Sometimes it is easy to win an argument and force the right behaviour, but lose the heart in the process.
  • Don’t fight with your children, fight for
  • One of the greatest gifts parents can give to their children is simply to prove that they can be trusted over the long haul.
  • Key Question: How am I fighting for the heart of my child

Create a Rhythm

  • Tap into the power of quality moments together, and build a sense of purpose through your everyday experiences.
  • Increase the quantity of quality time you spend together.
  • Much of daily life consists of repeated patterns of waking up, eating, going out and going to bed.
  • Deut 6 talks about impressing faith as we sit at home, walk along the road, lie down and get up. Consider the following ideas:
    • Eating meals together is an optimal times to have a focussed discussion. Use a variety of discussion starters, games and activities, before, during or after a meal. Make it natural and fun.
    • Walking or travelling together provides a great opportunity for informal dialogue in a nonthreatening environment.
    • Tucking children into bed can be a great time to have an intimate conversation and listen to the heart of your child.
    • Getting up in the morning provides a blank page for the family to start fresh relationally. Just a few encouraging words carefully spoken or written can give your children a sense of value and instil purpose.

Key Question: How has spiritual development been part of our family rhythm this week?

Value 5) Make It Personal

  • Put yourself first when it comes to personal growth.
  • When it comes to spiritual and character formation, your journey impacts them deeply. If you want it to be in them, it needs to be in you.
  • Let kids see your struggles. They need to see your authenticity and hear your transparency.
  • We are not expert parents before we start, but we learn as we go and we make spiritual growth a priority.
  • Find a community of friends who you to talk to and learn from.
  • Strengthen your relationship with your spouse. Don’t underestimate the importance of a child seeing a mother and a father engaged in friendship and interacting in an affectionate way.
  •  Key Question: Is my relationship with God, growing, authentic and personal?

 

Mirrors, Kids, and How They Pick Up Your Habits ~ Good and Bad

1376728_89968538Krista and I have started working out for the past couple of weeks in the mornings. My guess is that by the time you read this, we might be done though. Who knows how long we’ll keep it up.

The point though of this post isn’t on working out, or anything like that. It’s actually on habits, kids, and faith.

What I’ve noticed is that as we work out each morning, Hudson will often come quietly downstairs and do the exercises with us. He now talks about exercising, the importance of being healthy, and wanting to exercise. He now tries to do sit ups, in which his legs seem to go everywhere and is really funny.

The reason I mention all this is because we have never once talked to Hudson about working out, encouraged him to work out, or even shown him how to work out. Hudson has picked up all of this, just through watching and following.

The reason this stuck out to me is this: what else is he picking up from us without us realizing it? Is he picking up bad habits from us when we’re grumpy? Is he picking up good habits about being caring and friendly? And most importantly – is our faith so active and regular in our lives that he is picking that up too? That’s the real question that I’ve been thinking about.

Is our practice of following Jesus so explicit, regular, and everyday that our kids are picking it up naturally? Are they developing the habits and practices of faith because we are practicing them, just like Hudson is picking up exercising without any explicit mention of it?

I think that if you are a parent, grandparent, or have friends who are parents this is an important question. Do you/we have regular habits that demonstrate the importance of faith to our lives? Are we praying at meals – because it forms habits? Are we praying at bed-time and being grateful to God? Do our kids or grandkids ever catch us reading the Bible? Do we make a habit of church?

The point I want us to think through is this: if someone were watching our lives, would they start to pick up natural and good habits about following Jesus? Because what I am learning more everyday is that little people are always watching, and following our lead. So it is important to make sure we are leading them in the right direction.

Disciplining with Devotional Books

541684_10152743540730643_546879791_nI have recently run into a new parenting problem. So for all you who have been parents longer here is my problem. Our little boy Hudson does not want to go to sleep recently. Instead, when I go upstairs to bed he is often still up, with a little light on in his room reading. And when I walk in he says, “Daddy go away, I reading, I be quiet, it’s okay”.
Now normally when he is reading we would just take the book away and be done with it. But here is the issue: he’s reading his devotions.
That’s right, my little boy is breaking his bed-time by reading about God. Can you tell he’s a pastor’s kid? I mean how do you discipline someone who is reading his devotions? He says, “Daddy I just reading my devotions for a little bit [which is actually like 1.5 hours]. Daddy it’s okay”
Do I like having a sleepy and cranky boy in the mornings? No. Do I want to discourage him from this amazing habit? No.
So here is what I’ve learned. That it is sometimes wise to see the bigger picture. Paul says, “Dad’s don’t aggravate your kids” in Ephesians. And Paul is right. It is so easy to aggravate our kids, to win a little battle but miss the bigger picture. I could make this into an issue, but I’d be losing out because I want my son to feel so connected to God that it permeates his entire little life and spills out all over the place. And I think this matters, because so often we see the little issue but not the bigger picture. We ground our kids, but miss the fact that in us yelling they feel unloved. We take away their toys when they do something bad, but can actually squash their independence and creativity. The point is to see the bigger picture before making decisions.
I am not someone who thinks we should just let our kids do anything for fear of “squelching their development”. Instead, I want to guide, raise, and train up my son in the best way possible. I want him to go to bed on time, and read his devotions. I don’t want to win with one issue and lose the other.
So when as parents we have these odd moments here’s what I do. I wait before I make a decision, try to see the bigger picture, and try to make the best decision that has the best results long-term.
So in my bed-time breaking devotion reading boy – what did we do? Simple we put him to bed earlier. That’s right earlier. If he wants to read his devotions in bed, awesome! So now we put him to bed earlier so he can read his devotions, and still make it to bed on time. This is a win-win. Paul’s right, don’t aggravate your kids, raise them. The difference is often subtle but it matters a lot.