Who’s Your Village?

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I’ve come to learn that it really does take a village to raise a child. In fact, my dad and mom always said that their “success” in parenting really had more to do with the people they surrounded us with than anything they did. Not sure if I completely agree (I think they made some right choices along the way). Either way, they were certainly onto something. When I look back on my childhood I can remember the missionaries, the pastors, the small group leaders, the coaches of high character and integrity that surrounded my upbringing. It’s not surprising that all of us “children” grew up to serve God in various ways in full-time vocational ministry.

The adults in out lives were more than just friends. They were more than just people to hangout with and friends to have near while we tried to “survive the troubles of life”. They were influences. They were partners in parenting and childrearing.

Our life was not easy. We had struggles like every other family. We had times when we had “enough” and there were times when we struggled financially. There were times of health and times of sickness. Throughout my childhood, my parents kept the main thing the main thing. They raised us kids with a purpose in life that was beyond ourselves. It was beyond the “typical”. They raised us with the belief that God was calling us to more. He was preparing and leading us to make a difference in this world… to offer hope to people who were far from Him.

Aime and I are right in the middle of raising our six kids. They range from a senior in High School to kindergarten. We’re trying hard to surround them with key influences… people with strong character and an outspoken call on their life to make a difference. Sometimes this means we have to make the tough choices to change these influences by changing where we spend our time. These choices can be tough in the moment, but we’re banking on it paying out in the long run.

So, just a challenge here –

Who do you choose to surround your children? What kinds of people have influence in their life? What things are they striving after?

These are important questions because chances are …

Your kids just might grow up to look like them as much as they will you.

 

Feeling lost as a parent? Looking for a way to discover the purpose for your family? Wanting to establish family values, set goals, or just need a tool to help you keep the main thing the main thing?

We’ve got it for you (Right Here)

How to be the “Perfect” family

Perfect Family

We’ve got this incredible picture that would hang over our fireplace of when the kids were younger. It’s one of those family photos that you see in magazines. It’s perfect! All of our kids (we had 5 at that time) are sitting perfectly and a row. They all have the most angelic smiles on their faces and if you look real close, you can see just a hint of sparkle in everyone’s eyes. I’m not kidding you… it’s that good! I loved seeing that picture hanging there above the fireplace. It brought a smile to my face every time.

Now, with that being said, you have to know something. The smile on my face had nothing to do with the photo itself. As a matter of fact, I gladly admit that I think “perfect” photos are boring. What makes me smile is fact that not only do I own that one “perfect photo”, but I also own the 7 “imperfect photos” that preceded it. Now these pictures are truly awesome!

They include:

One little boy picking his nose.

A dad lecturing him as to why this is neither the time nor the place for that.

A one-year-old girl making every attempt to exit the scene.

A little boy arguing his point as to why he had no choice but to clear his nasal passageway.

And the same dad threatening the little boy within an inch of his life that if he doesn’t “turn around, sit still, and smile, there will be no need for him to be in the photo.”

Now, those are great shots!

Seasons

Seasons

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This summer flew by! It seems like every year, our summer break is shorter and shorter. It was just yesterday that we turned off the 6am alarm clock and celebrated freedom from oppression… I mean school. Now, here I sit one week back into the pattern of school bus routes, sports practices, and homework. What happened to my summer? No more swimming. No more afternoon picnics… this stinks!

Now with the ranting over, I do want to say that I love it that we’re about to enter into one of my favorite seasons here in North-East Ohio, the Fall. In just a couple weeks the trees will begin to change color. The air is going to grow colder again and you’ll literally be able to smell Football in the air. I love the Fall! I love the change in season. Summer is great, but to be honest, it can drag out a little too long for my taste.

Guess what? I’ll have a similar rant when the Fall turns into Winter. I hate it and I love it. And then another when Winter turns to Spring. I hate it and I love it.

Seasons. They come and they go… and most of the time, there’s nothing we can do about it. Now if you’re like me, you love the change of seasons. I think I like the change of seasons, because I just like change. I love it when something new or unexpected happens. I love variety. I love newness. I love options.

This is certainly true with the seasons of the year, and it’s just as true with seasons of life.

Preschool, high school, new job, new home… new haircut, doesn’t matter- bring it on.

I understand that you’re probably not like me though. So let’s quickly look at three things that happen when we enter into a new season of life.

When we start a new season we always have the potential of:

Losing Something

You don’t change from something familiar to something new without losing a little. You’re always going to miss something of the past. I’ve even seen this when I moved to ”something better”. It’s amazing how after a little bit of time, I can look back at the past and forget so much of what drove me crazy. All of a sudden, things weren’t that bad.

Great Vacations!

Family Vacation

I roll over in bed unable to open my eyes fully. All I know is that there is something horrible screaming just beside me. After a few seconds of confusion, I realize that it’s my alarm clock screaming and it’s 3:45am. Immediately, I’m awake! We’re leaving in 15 minutes to head to the airport to pick up my bride who’s been gone for 30 days. Ok, actually it was only 4 days, but it sure felt like 30. She was returning from visiting her best friend in Phoenix. For those of you who don’t know my wife, she’s absolutely amazing! She’s a master of taking care of 6 very active children and one very needy husband. Phoenix was her first chance in a VERY LONG TIME to just rest and get recharged. With that being said… she was coming home and it couldn’t happen soon enough.

Before bedtime the night before we (the kids and I) had managed to clean the whole house, pack up the van, and bathe the little ones.

The plan was simple:

Pick mom up from the Cleveland Airport at 4:45am and head straight to Virginia (a 7 hour trip) to spend the last 4 days of Spring Break with my sister and my parents.

4:00am and we’re in the car and well on our way. We arrive at the airport a little early so we head over to the cellphone parking area. As we’re waiting for mom’s plane to land we’re going through our typical pre-vacation ritual.

 

Child 1) “She touched me!”

Me) “Quiet!”

Child 2) “He’s turning around!”

Me) “Quiet!”

Child 3) “She’s breathing!”

Me) “Ok, Quiet or you’re not coming with us to Aunt Kara’s!”

 

Finally, after a few minutes of agitation my cell phone “dings”. It’s a text letting me know that my love has landed and ready for pick up.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to pick my wife up. I wasn’t excited to get help around the house or with the kids. I was truly ready to be with my wife again. We often say, “We just do better together!”

So anyway, I put the car in reverse and start to drive off. Only something was wrong. It felt as though we were dragging something under the car. Worse than that, it felt as though we we’re hardly moving. A flat tire! First, my heart sank. Then immediately it went from sadness to extreme irritation. You see, the spare tire in a Toyota Sienna is under the back seats. I’m going to have to jack the van up and craw under the van and release the tire. My vacation is going to start off with me soaking wet!!!

I quickly texted my wife to let her know I’ll be a few minutes late and walked to the back of the van and opened my trunk. Naturally, I have to get the jack out which is covered by suitcases, gym bags and a dog kennel. (yes, my dog was with us too) After a few minutes of unloading, I managed to get the jack out and in place. Oh, did I mention it was raining the whole time! I jacked the van up and slowly lower myself only the wet pavement feeling the cold water (it was also only about 35 degrees outside) soak through a few layers of clothing. Very carefully, I scoot under the van to see where my spare tire was hiding. I discovered quickly that this tire was very good at hiding. As a matter of fact, it was too good. There was NO SPARE TIRE! Now, we have had this van for several years now and obviously I have not had a flat tire until now. The entire time we’ve owned this vehicle I never knew that the spare tire was gone. Now what?!!? I texted my wife and told her about the predicament. AAA would tow us, but where? I have six children and a dog with me. That’s when I remembered the small air compressor that my father-in-law gave me several years ago for Christmas. It was a lifesaver! I put the compressor on the tire and pump it up as high as I could. I literally had the kids pray while I pulled the van around to pick mom up at the terminal. The entire way there I could feel the tire slowly deflating.

The plan shifted:

Find a WalMart near by and get a new tire. Thanks to my friends at Google I found a WalMart only a couple miles away. Our drive to WalMart in the rain was a lot of fun. My girls in the back we’re praying. My poor wife sat in the front seat trying to acclimate from the 98 degree weather of Phoenix to the 35 degree weather of Cleveland, and I was stopping every two minutes to pull off the road, attach a compressor, and stand for 10 minutes… in the rain… while I inflated the flat tire. This was the pattern the entire way to Walmart. Hopes were raised once we arrived only to be dashed again to discover that this Walmart didn’t have a Tire Center. Aauughghhh!

Google found another Wal-Mart, this one with a Tire Center, about 7 miles way. For the record, 7 miles is a long way when you’re stopping every few minutes to pump up a tire. By the time we arrived at Walmart it was 6:30am. Sure enough, this Walmart had a Tire Center. It opened at 7:00am. We waited for a half an hour outside the Tire Center garage doors. My wife and I talking about her trip to Phoenix, my daughters texted their friends asking for prayers, and my youngest son and daughter (3 and 4 years old) asking if we were almost there. 30 minutes later and a new tire, we are ready to go.

Only by this time everyone was up and hungry. Lucky for us there was a Cracker Barrel next door. We all crowded around a table at Cracker Barrel and fought over the little golf-Tee jumping game and ate our breakfast. We finally got on the road at 8:30am.

The Original Plan:

Pick mom up at 4:45am and hit the road by 5:00am.

Reality: Go to the airport at 4:45am and hit the road by 8:30am.

 

So you tell me- was this a great start to a family vacation or a horrible one?

 

Strangely enough as I think back to my own childhood, I can only remember the family vacations that started off a lot like this!

And those were Great vacations!

 

 

By the Way – I’m Taking the Month of November Off and Maybe December Too

Christian Parenting

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November was filled with ministry, family, and turkey. Evidently, it was just too much for my schedule. I discovered this when I finally had a few minutes this morning to do a little writing and realized that I haven’t blogged since October.

My first thought: “Holy Cow! I’m terrible at this!”

My second though: “It Happens.”

You see, sometimes life just takes over. One lesson I’m learning though is this: My family is more important. (My sanity is more important too.)

Unfortunately in the past, I have beaten myself up over not checking off all the boxes on my to-do list.

The reality is: sometimes they just don’t get checked off.