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Dad as Protector

10 Jan

Christmas 2012When Josiah was born, I remember the first time that I took him in my arms. I carried him like a fragile flower. I didn’t want to put him down, but felt as if he was safest in my arms. There he was protected, and I never wanted to let go. The years have passed, and Josiah barely fits in my arms. Even if he did, his energy level doesn’t allow him to slow down. Josiah spends his days running here and there, trying to keep himself occupied.

Today, in the middle of a friend’s birthday party, he fell and broke his arm. I was not there to catch him, save him, protect him. I wish I had been there, and kept him from the pain and suffering.

As I sat in the emergency room, the what ifs invaded my mind bringing with them feelings of sorrow and frustration. Why did it have to be him? Since birth, my son has had a broken leg, a broken finger, and two other broken bones.

It is not fair. It is not fair to him, and definitely not fair to me.

So why?

In that moment, I remembered that God is in control and not me. God has a plan for my little boy, and I need to accept that His plan includes a broken arm. I may not like it, or want it, but I have to live with it. His plan for Josiah may bring me to tears, or anger. However, there comes a point when I need to stop fighting, whining, and crying, and step forward in faith. A faith in God’s love. A trust in His care. A Hope that He will see my little boy through.

As I sat in the x-ray room, I took my first step – a step to trust that God has a plan. I braced myself as they put my little guy under, and prepared to set his arm. Tears rolled down my checks as I embraced that even pain can come from the hand of the Father. The lab tech, worrying that I was about to faint, asked me if I needed a chair. I sat down, and begin to feel relief. I am not sure if it was from the chair or the freedom that accompanies faith.

Today it was a broken arm. Tomorrow it will be a broken heart. Many things, good and bad, will come upon my little boy. Some that I like, and many that I won’t.

My arms can’t keep him safe forever, because God didn’t design us merely for protecting our children. Instead, God designed me for trusting – a concept that I find much more difficult.

Rites of Passage – A Must-do for every Dad

2 Jan

Turning 16 is a critical time in a boy’s life.  Not simply because they can apply for a driver’s license, but because it is a time when difficult choices are being made.  A time when a boy needs a solid foundation on which to base those choices.   A time when a boy needs direction and leadership.   I believe that the most important source of this direction is his dad.  But the message given by a dad may be easier to hear, if repeated from other godly men.

When my oldest son, Logan, was a teenager, I was listening to the radio station when they described a special activity a father planned for his son when he turned 16.  The father arranged for a group of godly men to take a long walk with his son to share their advice and encouragement about growing into manhood.  While I was not an expert in living a godly life and not a gifted communicator, I knew this was something that I needed to do.  I gathered a group of men whose faith I respected, and would have a unique perspective on becoming a man.   My desire was their advice and encouragement would provide a solid foundation and direction for my son as he entered adulthood.

father and son share a rock from Flickr via Wylio

© 2012 Doug McCaughan, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Two months before I started to talk with my wife about which men should be asked to participate in the relay walk.   We narrowed the list to his youth pastor, his grandfather, and a coach from school.  My wife suggested that I should also be one of the men walking with my son, so I added my name to the list.

Then I prayed:  first, that the men would all be willing to participate and second, that I could get them all together on a Saturday morning.   I contacted each of the men to ask them if they would be willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes on a walk with my son to provide advice and encouragement to him about growing into a godly man.

A couple of weeks before the walk, I sent an email to each man with a map of the route, and where each man would wait for my son.  Then following the mid-morning walk, I planned for us to gather at nearby restaurant for lunch.

I then began to plan what I would say to Logan on the walk.  It was an opportunity for me to share my heart with my son, and to point him toward the Lord as the foundation of his life.  Prior to becoming a follower of Jesus, my main concern about him was to achieve good grades, and be “successful.” But now my main concern was that he grow close to the Lord – and follow His leading.

My son was overwhelmed by the messages shared by these men, and that a group of men would be willing to spend their Saturday morning focusing on him.

My son is now a young man, and still follows the faith.  The Lord has blessed him in countless ways, and continues to draw him closer to Himself.   There have been numerous people and experiences that have helped him along this path – both before and after his 16th birthday.  But I know that this rite of passage was one of the key experiences that set his course.

Several years later, I planned another relay walk this time for my second son, Kellan. As I gathered this new group of men, I invited Kellan’s older brother to participate.  What a blessing it was to see them walk side by side that morning.

I strongly encourage all dads to arrange a man walk for your son’s 16th birthday.  The walk will be a very special time for you, your son, and will have a lasting impact on everyone involved.

Written by Ron.

If you have a story of a rite of passage that will encourage other parents, please send it to gdavid@earesources.org.

Parenting Your Emerging Adult

8 Aug

Equipping yourself for each stage of your child’s development is important.  At each stage, you must pick up a few new tools.  Emerging adulthood is the life phase following adolescents (approximately 18-28 years old).  For a full description, read this!

Here is a podcast by Steven Argue, who is an expert on emerging adulthood and faith.  He is also the parent of three emerging adults.

Click Here for the Podcast!

If you work regularly with Emerging Adults, connect with Steve and many others through joining the EA Network on Facebook.

Steve joined the Fuller Theological Seminary faculty in June 2015 in a hybrid role as assistant professor of youth, family, and culture and as an applied research strategist with the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI). He is a thought leader and researcher with decades of on-the-ground ministry experience.

Questions to Ask before they leave for College

7 Aug

Fall is upon us, and student will soon be packing their bags and leaving for college.  If your child is leaving, Kara Powell from the Fuller Youth Institute released this article about preparing your child for college.  Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary.

When our oldest started high school, multiple older parents told me that high school would fly by. I didn’t believe them, but now that Nathan is diving into eleventh grade, I’ve jumped on the “high school goes so fast” bandwagon.

Here is the full article! 

Pass it along to someone you know is dropping off a student this fall.

If you work with emerging adults, please join Kara and other members of the Fuller Youth Institute as members of the EA Network – a networking site on Facebook.

Other resources:

Becoming a Man – Taking time to Laugh

29 Jul

I am a fan of the show The Middle for many reasons.  Being a man in today’s world doesn’t happen by accident [What is a Man?].  It doesn’t happen by simply getting older.  As a father of three future men, this clip reminds me how I need to walk with my children as they mature into men.

While the journey may sometimes be frustrating, it can also be humorous.

Watch this clip as a reminder to take time to laugh while training your children.

Here is a clip from The Middle, from an episode called “the Smell.”

Brick and Deodorant

Leveraging Milestones – Rites of Passage within a Faith Community

11 Jul

Fuller Youth Institute released this article, and I wanted to share because it deals with rites of passage in a faith community.  The article is mislabeled as most of the content deals with addressing milestones and spirituality within a church or spiritual community.

Leveraging Milestones: Making Spiritual Conversations Normal At Home

I believe that the article does a great job of pointing out spiritual milestones or rites of passages for children as they grow into adults.

Here is the article.

My Highlights include:

  • Whether rites of passage or milestones, church communities have unique opportunities to intersect families at these various points and equip them to normalize spiritual conversations within their home life.
  • Our desire is for spiritual conversations in the family ecofriendly-minivan to be as normal as the conversations about basketball or the latest Disney hit.
  • Chart of Rites of Passages and Questions that they answer.

If you are new to the discussion of rites of passages in faith development, here are some additional resources.

What milestones does your faith community acknowledge and celebrate?

How do you communicate the definition and transition into manhood to your children, adolescents, and emerging adults?

Hatred for that Cat in the Cradle.

13 Jun

I listen to various types of music – disco, Motown, classic rock, and current tunes.  There are very few classic songs that I do not love.

However, there is one song that I have hated my entire life.  A song that makes my skin crawl.  A song that will always make me change the radio station.  “Cat’s in the Cradle” is a 1974 folk rock song by Harry Chapin from the album Verities & Balderdash. 

The song is too depressing, and I still hate it.  Apparently my children feel the same way, because they now throw a fit anytime they hear it.

the middle - cat and cradle

The song was highlighted in an episode of the Middle.

Here is the original scene.  I am a fan of the Middle – Here is a post that I dedicated to the show.   The Middle will give parents an outside perspective of the issues facing emerging adults – with ALOT of laughter.

The second video definitely lightens the mood.  Here is the video.

While in the midst of raising your children, remember that like other life stages – emerging adulthood has its trials and blessings.

Whether you love or hate that song,

Remember to minimize the trials, and focus on the blessings. 

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