Great Expectations

Wm & boys.jpgBoth of my boys, Jonathan and Christopher, love sports. You can be certain we will watch the Super Bowl® this Sunday. But they also will want to get off the couch and play — and my wife hopes not in the house!

Before the season started, Jonathan came to me and asked for us to create a family fantasy football league online — and we did! I observed them play with the neighbors, drafting their own football teams to make franchises filled with players from their football cards. Christopher even reported at his preschool graduation last year that he wants to play for our local team — the Tennessee Titans — when he grows up!

As a parent, you want your children to dream while still maintaining realistic expectations. The question is — How can I balance these two for my children? You don’t want to give your children a limited view on life — what we often call “the box” — the one we want them to think “out of”!

So we let our boys play sports but have not ventured into travel teams or multiple sports at the same time. We know they love sports and certainly want them to be active and healthy but keep their schedules in balance while still developing those areas in which they are talented.

We also want them to be well-rounded and developed in other areas. Both boys are very musical as well but are not as enthusiastic about practicing the piano as they are with practicing baseball! But we have so many friends who say either “I am so glad my parents made me continue taking piano when I wanted to stop” or “I wish I had never stopped taking piano.” So we have to struggle sometimes with holding the boys to some activities that we hope will pay off in years to come.

As parents, our guide should be to train our children in the ways God has already gifted them and in God’s Word (Proverbs 22:6) with hopes of a lifetime relationship serving God. We hope that every issue of ParentLife helps you raise your children to do just that.

What are ways you need help in raising Christ-followers?

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As we sat in terrible stop and go traffic Sunday on our way back from a Thanksgiving trip out of state, we listened to Christmas carols. We inevitably heard "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and had to chuckle sarcastically as we inched forward inch by inch! Despite so many things that can make holidays challenging, when it comes down to it, it is the time together as family that is one of the most wonderful things of life. Our time with family was precious, traffic or no traffic! These are the occasions that make lasting memories for parents and children alike.

3_william editor shot.jpgHowever, I could kick myself this year for forgetting to take my camera and video camera on our trip. I had to chuckle a few minutes ago when I perused "Christmas Memories" in our December 2009 issue of ParentLife. In this article for our Parenting Matters department, I wrote all about how preserving memories is such an important part of the holidays to our family. Boy, did I ever drop the ball for Thanksgiving this year! I am thankful for my father-in-law for loving photography, so I will be able to get photos to help us remember our Thanksgiving!

Nothing is more precious to me now than to look back on photos of memorable occasions like Christmas. I still have a copy of a Super 8 video my parents took of one of my first Christmases. I am rolling on the floor playing with my Dad and brother. Grandparents are standing around observing the festivities. I forever have footage of my family at that stage in life. That video also has become more precious with the deaths of my grandparents and brother. Seeing them brings back a flood of memories that no one can replace.

This Christmas, I want to think of the impact our time together will have on my children for generations to come — from the photos and video we take to the traditions we celebrate. Above all, I want my children to be aware that the season all centers around Jesus!

What is your favorite Christmas memory or tradition? Share with us by posting one of your favorites!

Camping Weather!

This is the weekend of our church’s RA Family Campout. Royal Ambassadors (RAs) is a missions education program our church does for boys on Wednesday nights. Each year we have a campout complete with hot dogs, s-mores, and lots of fun and games. This year is no exception for the boys and me. We are going out into the wilderness and set up camp … actually we will be in a pasture on a farm and only have to set up our tent! But it will still be a camping adventure for all of us. And I have to remember not to lock my keys in the car as I did a couple years ago since my wife will be at a Beth Moore conference!

family camping photo.jpgCamping is one of those great fall traditions. In fact, I wrote all about it in the October 2009 ParentLife editorial, in a tongue in cheek approach to the highs and lows of camping. We have had some memorable camping weather events as a family. Most notably trying to camp in 95 degree weather in July … and the time we camped with our Sunday School class but ended up sleeping in our van because of a thunderstorm (photo to the left after we survived). We knew it was time to move to the van when our oldest son said, "I don’t want to die in a tent in a thunderstorm!" But the memories of good times camping far outweigh these few inconveniences.

Do you have some great camping stories? Post one of your stories to share with us and other readers.

And be sure to check out the October issue of ParentLife!

We’ve Got a Job to Do!

In the July 2009 ParentLife editorial I wrote about a chapel service I attended this year. Ms. Ford led her first graders in a program about sharing the good news. Over and over again, these adorable first graders repeated, "We’ve got a job to do!"

This service made me wonder how we do — together as families — sharing the gospel or participating in service projects that communicate God’s love to others. Sometimes when we are so busy that we struggle to spend time together having family devotions, it is difficult to take the next step and plan those service projects together. But it is well worth the effort!

fom_logo_featured.jpgOur church holds a weekly summer Kidz Club in a local apartment complex that we have participated in with our boys. They see the reason we are there is to love those kids and tell them about Jesus. Service spurs a greater understanding how we are all responsible for carrying the good news of Jesus to others.

If you are looking for a longer time of service for your family, the North American Mission Board has several family mission trips available in their Families on Mission program. These trips are designed for the entire family to participate together. There are two more trips this summer. Find out details here.

What are ways that you witness and serve others as a family? Are there specific ways you tell others about Jesus over the summer months? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Honoring Dad!

For the past several years, when it was been time to write the June editorial for ParentLife, I always think of Father’s Day and writing about my Dad and how much he has meant to me. This year in the June 09 issue my editorial went in the direction of how little thought I had given while growing up toward what it would be like to be a father some day — and how important it is now to take time and reflect about what it means to be a good father. There is always room for growth and improvement, and I want to be the best father I can be!

But those thoughts lead me right back to my own Dad again — what a good father he was and is — and all the lessons I learned from him: hard work, diligence, perseverance, kindness, service, and sportsmanship just to name a few. I still can’t believe he got up at 3:30 a.m. day after day to milk the cows on our dairy farm. Summertime not only meant longer days but longer work days as well harvesting the hay and straw from the fields or working in his garden. What a blessing it is to think of the lessons I have learned from my Dad. I will honor him this Sunday … and try to be the best Dad I can be for my kids!

What are some of the lessons you learned from your father? What are some great ways you will honor Dad on Father’s Day? Share some creative ideas with us!