Ten Truths I Found Watching Old War Movies with My Dad

john-wayne

Due to the circumstances of life and death, I am currently living with my father. We’ve gotten ourselves a little routine going, and part of it includes watching old movies together at night. Thanks to Amazon Prime, we have a veritable plethora of old films to choose from. Our favorites are westerns and war movies from the 1940’s and 50’s. I say they are “our” favorites because although they were his favorites first, they are now becoming some of my favorites, too.

We were a military family. My dad served over twenty years in the U.S. Navy so I know a little about military life. But military life as a military kid in peaceful times is not at all the same as military life in a unit during combat.

I have a new appreciation for actors like John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda and Robert Mitchum–such grown men! They were gallant, chivalrous, tough, strong and loyal, and if you watch enough of their films a few basic themes will quickly make themselves evident.

Here are my top 10 favorites:

Truth #1: You did what you were told even if the commanding officer was wrong.

Truth #2: You held your tongue out of respect for the office, and you spoke only when you had permission to speak.

Truth #3: You gave 100% all of the time even if those around you did not.

Truth #4: You did what you could for the best outcome, yet realized you are not  responsible for the outcome.

Truth #5: You dug the foxhole together and you were in the foxhole together.

Truth #6:You took time to laugh. (And smoke alot of cigarettes!)

Truth #7: You kept your word.

Truth #8: When you fell down, you got back up. When someone else fell down, you helped them back up.

Truth #9: You cared for those you served with even at the expense of your own life.

Truth #10: You never gave up.

My dad was an example of many of these truths. I am thankful for his influence in my life, for the things he has taught me and for our time together.  Being the strong, silent type himself, I doubt he would ever sit me down and tell me these things over his cup of coffee and my Diet Coke. But in nightly choosing movies that have resonated with the traits he has valued in his lifetime, he is, in essence doing that very thing–for which I am grateful and humbled.

dad-and-me

My dad and I while stationed in Hawaii in the early 1970’s.

Dear Moms and Dads,

Dear-Mom-and-Dad

Moms and Dads,

I’m not a big one to write any kind of “open letter,” but I don’t know how else to say these things that are on my heart. You see, I spent the last week with some of your sons and daughters, teaching through the Old Testament. We talked about God’s love and protection and how from the beginning of time, He’s simply been calling us back to Him because of His great love for us.

We talked about how there is really nothing more loving and caring than the truth that because of God’s great love for us He has spent all of time warning us of the danger of His judgement and wrath, and showing us the way to be saved from it through our  faith in and allegiance to Jesus.

As we talked about the times of the prophets and how God sent them to His people for over 400 years, we reasoned together that it really made no sense for someone to hear a warning for their entire life and not respond to it. In fact, they thought that seemed just crazy!

They also reasoned that even if the time was 300 years, or 200 years or 50 years or 10 years, the only logical response to a warning of this magnitude was to respond, run to and stay in the care of the One who could save you from the impending danger.

And so they responded. They shared their hearts about how they were like the people of the Bible. They, too, knew these things of God, but weren’t responding. But now, they wanted to be different. They no longer wanted to be like those who knew, and did nothing.

As we shared about their lives when they returned home, a common thread could be found woven into their stories. They felt as though even though they knew God was with them, they would be humanly alone in their families.

I heard student after student share that their families were no longer following the Lord. Parents and grandparents who love their children, know God, and are connected in some way to a church have lost their way–so much so that commitment to God and His church have become an afterthought in their lives. The same parents and grandparents who sent them to church camp are not camping out with them in church!!!

Parents, hear this. Your children want to go to church. They want to be a part of what God is doing. They want lives that are different, they want to be a part of making a difference, and they want to do it with you!

Please, please, for the sake of your children, your children’s children and for yourself–I want to remind you and warn you that you will be held accountable for your actions–COME BACK TO THE LORD. Put aside your hurts, busy schedules, sins, fears or whatever it is that is keeping you from walking with the Lord TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN and start walking with them, beginning today.

Your kids hearts are breaking. They are breaking for you. Your kids need you. They want their families together with Jesus, forever. They want to be with you!

Think about it. High School students who want to go to church. With their families. They want to live for Christ. They want your help.

It seems like to not give it to them, would be, well, just crazy.

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not be done.” Romans 1:28 NIV

You Will Not Talk to Your Mother That Way (and Other Great Things My Husband Said to Our Kids)

FarrisFamily2014-30
I have a really great husband. We have spent almost thirty years together and have raised two pretty great sons together.

He’s not a perfect husband. . . which is just fine. I’m not a perfect wife.

I am so thankful that Tim has always set such a good example for our sons. He’s one of the quiet dads, he may not say much most of the time, but when he does, it’s generally worth listening to.

Here are ten really great things he has said through the years that are worthy of passing along to the dads out there who are working to find their way in the parenting world.

1) You will not talk to your mother that way. She is your mother.

2) Let’s help your mom clean up.

3) Keep going. Don’t quit.

4) You keep driving from your direction. I’ll start from mine. If the car breaks down again, stay where you are until I get to you. If it keeps going, we’ll meet up and caravan home.

5) Great report card.

6) Hop in the truck, let’s go for a drive.

7) We’re going for it. If we have to turn back, we will. But if we make it, we’ll have one of the best times of our lives. (By the way, they made it, and they did, indeed, have one of the best times of their lives.)

8) I’m proud of you.

9) Good effort, son.

10) This is who we are. This is what we do.

Both of our boys have an overwhelming admiration for their father. He is strong, quiet, faithful, hard working and industrious. And he loves us. We know that, not just because he says that with his words, but because he models it to us every day in the little things he does and in the examples he has set.

Dads, I’m always telling the moms, “It’s the little things that are the big things.”

Be the dad in the little things, because those will be the biggest things in your kids’ lives.

FarrisFamily2014-31
On and one more:
#11) Real Men Hold Their Wives Purses.

Thanks to Sam McGhee for allowing us some time for silly snapshots during our family photo session. To learn more about Sam’s work go to http://www.sammcghee.com

5 Things to Know About Social Media and Your Child

Today’s blog post is adapted from a parent talk my non blogging kidmin son, Trevor Farris, has put together for the church where he is a children’s pastor. I asked him if I could share it, because I believe every parent needs to be aware of what’s going on in their child’s social media world. Trevor ministers to some super amazing kids and with some even more amazing volunteers at Valley Real Life is Spokane Valley, WA. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check it out.

Social Media is big, but think about it—it’s the smallest that it is ever going to be.

Every day, more videos, tweets, pictures, and blogs are being uploaded onto the Internet than ever before. This chart from domo.com gives some pretty convincing evidence that social media is big–every minute of every day. Go ahead, take a second and check it out really quick.

every minute of every day

Those are some insane statistics! As more and more websites and apps are being created, it’s nearly impossible for adults to keep up . . . but. . . it’s not for your kids.

So here are 5 things you need to know about Social Media, your child, and what you can do to be more informed about it.

1. Your Kids Probably Know More Than You About Social Media
This is by no means an insult. They simply have the time to learn! With texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, KiK, AskFM, Omegle, and a million other options, they can absorb more budding technology than we can dream of. And they use it for everything! So what do you do?

2. Ask Them to Teach You
You don’t know if your child is ready for SnapChat? Ask them about it! Are you not sure how Instagram works? Ask your son/daughter! You need to know what your kids are doing, because there is so much that they are able to do on their iPods and phones. But please understand this—you don’t need to know more about technology than them…just being aware is a huge step.

3. Remember ANYONE Can Use Social Media
Speaking of being aware…it is really easy to lie about who you are on the Internet. Your children may not be sharing information with the person that they think they are. Make sure that your kids are using appropriate social media (Honoring age restrictions is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), and are familiar your rules on Internet etiquette.

4. Community in Isolation
Kids and teens today have hundreds and thousands of friends. And if they are anything like me, they don’t know who most of them are! If someone sends me a friend request on Facebook, and I have a mutual friend…BAM! we’re friends now. And they can have all these friends at their fingertips while they sit in their bedroom alone. They don’t have to go out and have conversations. Be sure to have “Tech-free” times in your home when personal interaction is required to keep your kids checked in to reality.

5. #Hashtags
For those of you who still don’t understand hashtags, you are not alone. Hashtags are sort of like little file folder tabs that help you created to help you find what you are looking for on a certain topic. Let’s say you and your family go on a short vacation to Six Flags St. Louis for Spring Break. Your daughter posts a selfie from the line of the Batman ride. And the caption says, “I LOVE SIX FLAGS! #RollerCoasters #Family #SpringBreak.” But you need to realize that when she clicks on the “#SpringBreak,” she has access to ANYONE’S pictures that have that same tag. Think about that. I’m assuming there are pictures from Spring Break Cancun on the Internet that you’d love for your kids to never see. Know what hashtags your kids are using, because they can have access to all sorts of things they probably shouldn’t.

In short, talk to your kids about what they’re doing online and on their phones. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to have a different set of family rules than other families you know (or don’t know). Give them rules and guidelines that keep them safe, and as you expand those guidelines as they get older continue to have conversations with them. *

Bro Tell It On The Mountain

07-21-14 Bro Tell It Image

My coaching friend, Andy Partington, writes these words that I love and share often with our church. I am so thankful for the men who serve with us in children’s ministry every week at New Testament Christian Church.

Your ministry needs a few good men. It may even need a little more than a few! We’re blessed at my church to have men serving in every area of children’s ministry. But it wasn’t always that way. A few years ago our programs were entirely staffed with women. Now all of these women were gifted in teaching and serving in a multitude of areas. They were and still are valuable leaders and assistants in reaching and teaching children. But something was missing?

Boys need Bros
The basic needs of boys are the same today as they were 100 years ago, even though we live
in a society that has experienced many changes. Boys desire to be part of a group their own age that accepts them for who they are. They seek the attention and affirmation from male role models that they have what it takes to become men. What do the boys of your church need most? Boys need a relationship with Christ, and they need the men of your church to spend time helping them become men that God can use.

Finding a Bro
Alright, guys have a tendency not to respond to the same recruiting techniques as women. First, let’s just take guilt completely out of the picture. Let’s end those whiny pleas that the nursery or Sunday school is filling up and there just isn’t anyone to take care of these precious little blessings.

We know it’s true.

It’s just not the story that men want to hear.

Instead, let’s define a role that men will respond to and see themselves in. Storytellers, builders, thinkers, listeners, helpers, leaders, and visionaries are all labels that men will wear proudly, and they are all positions that you probably need in your children’s ministry, today!
Give the men of your church the opportunity to really hear your vision for children’s ministry and to know the roles that are available. If they are gifted in those areas they’ll be drawn to them. Listen to the conversations in the halls. Find out who builds. Find the hobbyists and enthusiasts who live to talk about their passions. Find the fathers who talk about activities that they do with their children. Once you have that list of men in your head, think of ways that they can be included in your programming.

Lead a Bro
Men will respond to strong leadership. I’ve seen it time and time again. If a weak leader is in place, women volunteers will be motivated to circle the wagons and step up into the void.
Men tend to do the opposite. A weak leader usually leads male volunteers to exit the ministry and find another place to serve that has well defined parameters and an efficient model of service. So, give good leadership and be prepared for a more testosterone filled teaching time!

Let a Bro be a Bro
This really works for anybody, male or female, but for someone to really feel at home in a ministry position, it must be truly theirs. Give your workers the space they need to truly personalize their experience. Allow them the opportunity to assist in setting goals, making plans, and evaluating their experiences. The children of your church and community need the unique talents and gifts that these men possess.

Andy Partington is the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at andypartingtonblog.com

Be Strong and Do The Work–Dadderday

dowork-1

Wow! I can’t believe how long it has been since I’ve had/made the time to blog. Thoughts are continually swirling in my head, but the tyranny of the urgent often takes over before I get them into print. I think that’s how it is in parenting sometimes. Little things keep popping up that keep us from other things that really need to get done.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not in any way saying that writing down some thoughts in a blog is equivalent to the task of parenting children. Yet the principle still holds true that we often let things that seem bigger trump things that seem smaller, and as my small group and I are discovering this summer, the small things often are the big things, we just don’t always realize it.

So Dads, (and the moms who read blogs for dads!) today I want to give you a small reminder of the importance of parenting your children and “doing the work” that needs to be done. It comes from a couple of small verses of Scripture tucked away inside of the book of I Chronicles–yeah, I know, it’s not the normal source of our Bible verse  of the day–but it should be! Anyway, here’s what one dad said to his son:

Any you, my son, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with a wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”  I Chronicles 28:9-10

And then he continues a few verses later with:

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” I Chronicles 28:20

David was talking to Solomon when he was about to become king about building the permanent temple which would include the place where God would reside. As believers, we are now the place where God resides, and the task of training up our children to know the Lord, follow Him, and to live as His dwelling place can be a daunting task.

But don’t be discouraged. God will not fail you. He will not leave you. You’ve got the this.  Simply remember the words of David and acknowledge God, serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; seek Him; be strong and courageous and do the work. And have a great Dadderday doing it!!

Ten Signs You You Need to Slow Down to Parent–Dadderdays

ten-things
One of my all time favorite movies is Spielberg’s Hook starring Robin Williams. In this classic film, Williams portrays Peter Panning, the grown up Peter Pan. Although Peter started out with a healthy motivation to work to provide for Wendy and the kids, he became overly entrenched in the grown up world. So much so that Wendy has to warn him, “You’re missing it, Peter, you’re missing it.”

Ever feel like you are missing it? You might be. Here are few warning signs that you might need to slow down to get your parenting adventures back on track.

1. You are reading this blog post or your wife is reading it to you.
2. Work is your life. Hobbies are your life. TV is your life. Your kids’ events are your life.
3. You don’t have time to stop and evaluate what you’re doing, or you’ve stopped looking forward to the end goal in your parenting.
4. You are never home on the weekends.
5. McDonald’s is the place where everybody knows your name.
6. You are skipping church because you are worn out from work and your kids extra curriculars or sports.
7. You’re not really sure what the term “date night” means because it’s been so long since you had one.
8. You haven’t talked to your kids since, well, since. . . .hmmm, when did you last really talk to your kids?
9. You aren’t growing in your knowledge of God and His Word.
10. Love, Laughter and Kindness are not words your children would use to characterize you.

Remember…the time we have with our children in our homes is short. Our goal is never to be busy parents, but we do need to be busy parenting. We want to be effective in all we do.

As Christian parents, we are raising little “Christ followers.” In our home our main parenting goals were to help our kids know Christ, follow Christ and share Christ with the world. But there were times when we got way too busy to do that well, or to do it at all. Taking time to reevaluate where we are on the journey, and then making the necessary adjustments to get back on track is a great tool to keeping the end in mind.

When we do, great adventures await.

Bangarang!

Hook

(If you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in awhile, a “Hook” family movie night could be a really great idea for some quality time with the family!)

How Do You Eat An Elephant?–Dadderdays

elephant

Before retirement, a friend of mine was a teacher and school administrator. When his students were faced with what seemed to them to be an overwhelming challenge, they would tell him that they couldn’t do it–it was impossible, and he would ask them this question, “How do you eat an elephant?”

Perplexed, they would give him the, “I have no idea,” look and after many wrong guesses, he would tell them, “One bite at a time.”

Today I was reminded of these words as I was listening to a Mark Driscoll podcast entitled, “Kiss the Feet,” where Driscoll explained that when he first became a Christian he asked a pastor what he should do now that he had made his decision. The pastor told him to go home and read the Bible–which Driscoll did. When he finished, he went back and asked what the pastor what he should do next.

The pastor told him to choose a book of the Bible and begin to study it. Read the book, read about the book, ask questions, and figure it out. Driscoll did just that. When he finished his first study, the pastor told him to keep doing that until he died. Good advice.

Reading and studying the Bible often seems to be a task equivalent to eating an elephant. I mean, really where do you start. I think my friend has the right idea–one bite at a time.

Bible study begins well, it begins with a beginning. Like any daunting task, you just have to start, and then you keep going.

Dads, if Bible reading and Bible study are a challenge for you, today I want to encourage you to rise to that challenge. The Word of God will change your life. It will change your family. It will change your children, and your children are looking for and are hungry for a dad who will lead them and guide them in the ways they should go.

dad and bible

It may not be easy for you at first, and you may have to admit that there is some stuff you don’t know. You may want to give up. But, please don’t. It will most likely lead you to places, decisions and experiences you never imagined, allowing you, your family and even those in your circle of influence to know God in new and deeper ways. As you seek out His Word and His heart, the chances that your children will grow up to do the same increase exponentially.

So take the challenge-one bite at a time, (or one book at a time), and have a great Dadderday today and in all your Dadderdays to come.

Advent-ures in Christmas (Dadderday!)

jesse-tree-book

Hey Dads,

Usually it seems as though the moms take on these kinds of jobs–y’know, things like Christmas crafts and family devotions. But what if this year, that was a little bit different? What if this year you initiated the spiritual side of Christmas? I’m not saying you have to do it all alone. If there is a mom in your family’s picture, I hope she would be willing to work with you on this one, but if not, don’t be afraid to jump in and tackle the December adventure known as advent.

Advent simply means “coming,” as in Jesus is coming! Celebrating advent is a way to help your children, your family, to focus on that real meaning of Christmas we all hope to find.

Advent is more than just calendars with candy and prizes, it’s a way to pass on our heritage as believers and to create a spiritual foundation for your children.

The Jesse Tree is a great way to not only engage your children, but to get engaged with your children and the Christmas story.

The Jesse Tree comes from the book of Isaiah, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”  (Isaiah 11:1),  and dates back to the middle ages.

Jesse_Tree

More recently Geraldine McCaugherean has written a delightful book that has interwoven a story that takes you day by day through the symbols of the Jesse tree. Each passage is a quick glimpse into the life of a local carver who is creating a Jesse tree and a local boy who comes to bother visit him each day subtley tricking him into telling the stories. Of course, as the stories unfold, so does the story.

There are gajillions of ways to incorporate the symbols into your own family’s life. One is available here: http://printables.yourway.net/christmas/jesse-tree-ornaments/  free printables that would allow your children to color and create the symbols and gives you a scripture reading plan to coorelate them together.

 

Leading your family spiritually can be a little intimidting sometimes, but c’mon dads, get in on the “Advent-ure” this December with your kids and The Jesse Tree, and make every day in December a Dadderday!

jess tree 3     JT-jessetree  jesse tree 2

 

 

Adult-ery

adultery

Adult-ery. . .

. . .In its simplest form is a grown up thing. Yet, it is a grown up thing that affects us all–especially our children.

During the month of October in our children’s ministry, HiSKidZ were challenged to memorize the 10 Commandments. Towards the end of the month each small group chose a commandment and then decorated a pumpkin to represent that commandment. My older son joked from Russia, “Who’s going to get adultery?” Well, with 8 small groups and 10 Commandments, that one fell to me.

I created the simple pumpkin above centering more on the honor side of the commandment than the dishonorable side of it. (This worked, in part, because we were also studying about honor in the Bible last  month. Besides, what else would you put on that pumpkin????)

As the kids were coming in they stopped to check out my pumpkin. A couple asked what is meant and I told them it was commandment #7 “Do not commit adultery,” and one replied quite nonchalantly, “Oh yeah, my dad did that.” Broke. My. Heart.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know that  dads are not the only ones who  either initiate or commit adultery, but just because moms and people without children do it, too, does not make it right.

But since today is a “Dadderday” post, I want to talk to the dads for a second.

Dads. Don’t do it.

Walk away.

Run away.

Count the cost.

Live with honor

Model integrity.

Express self control.

Keep your vows.

Get right with God.

Parent your children.

Stop

what

you

are

doing

now.

For your sake, for your wife’s sake, for your children’s sake, for the sake of the name of the Lord, for the other person’s sake. . . .

Stop acting like an adult-erer and begin acting like a child of God again.

Matthew 26:41 says, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

So often we read this verse and we center in on one part of the verse and are like, “Oh man, the flesh is weak, what can I do?”

What can we do??? We can look at the other four parts of the verse that’s what can do.

Keep watching.

Keep praying.

Don’t enter into temptation.

The Spirit is willing.

That’s 4-1 in favor of victory, and the fact that “the flesh is weak” is in there isn’t an excuse for sin; it’s a warning against it.

Dads, I have no idea where you are right now in your life, your job, your home, your walk with God, but I know that there are little people watching everything you are doing, and your actions have consequences and cause responses and reactions, some of which you will have no control over. But this one you do.

When it comes to the Ten Commandments, we teach HiSKidZ that the 10 are 2 and the 2 is just 1. The ten become “love God and  love others.” And the two become one, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” For when you live out the one, you want to live out the two, and when you are living out the two, you are living out the ten.

So do whatever it takes to live out #1, and #7 will take care of itself.