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Happy Father’s Day in Your New Home!

June 18, 2011

Originally titled, “Virtue in Simplicity; Strength with Humor. ¬†We’ll miss you Dad”

(This “tribute” was started after my father in law died in November. I had written much of it but just hadn’t finished. I thought with Fathers Day coming up, I would finish it and post it as a tribute to him for our first Father’s Day without him. So, to my biological dad, I want you to know that I love you and by no means want to diminish the impact you’ve had on my life but I hope you understand if I share this tribute on behalf of my “other” dad this Father’s Day)

Those words in the title are ways I would describe my father in-law, Jerry Carlson who died this past Monday morning (November 29), exactly 1 year after his bride of 58 years also left this¬†Terra¬†firma to be with our Lord. ¬†One of Webster’s definitions of virtue is, “conformity¬†of¬†one’s¬†life¬†and¬†conduct¬†to¬†moral¬†and¬†ethical¬†principles;¬†uprightness;¬†rectitude.” ¬†If that doesn’t befit my father in-law, nothing else does. ¬†He was a man of principles, ethical, upright and a man of moral conduct. ¬†But he was also fun with a great (and very dry) sense of humor.

Jerry crunching through a crossword puzzle in Florida

I’m sure there have been some who’ve felt intimidated by this 6’3″ stoic man. ¬†But, as long as I’ve known him, intimidation wasn’t something he promoted but simply emitted. ¬†His stern look, tall stature and firm responses elicited a sort of intimidation. ¬†Yet beneath the seeming gruff exterior was a man who cared. ¬†He cared about his family. ¬†He cared about his friends. ¬†He cared about his work. ¬†And, he cared about his God…our God. ¬†That was evident from the time I first met him as I began to date his fourth eldest child, third eldest daughter.

He was a leader. ¬†I suppose even I was a little intimidated the first time I met him. ¬†I don’t intimidate easily. ¬†Not because I’m anything of note myself but because I learned early in life that if I could have a relationship with the God of the Universe, all else was easily accessible. ¬†Yet, it’s always a little tense when it comes to a young man meeting the father of his newfound love interest. ¬†So it was when I met Jerry. ¬†But that quickly dissipated as I began to establish a relationship with him that would continue to elicit my increasing admiration, love, and respect as the years went by.

In some ways, he was the father I never had. ¬†This is not meant to bring any disrespect or reduce the effect of my own father’s impact on my life. ¬†But, as the child of a divorced family from an early age, I never truly experienced a family dynamic as designed by God. ¬†Unfortunately, given the state of marriage in our culture I am in the company of too many who’ve experienced similar or worse situations. ¬†Jerry and Peg Carlson provided that place where function met design. ¬†Of course they weren’t perfect. ¬†I wasn’t looking for perfect. ¬†I was looking for intentional. ¬†I needed (without recognizing that need) to find a family that would provide a solid foundation for the building of my own family. ¬†They provided that. ¬†They loved God and they loved their family. ¬†And, they invited me in as if I was one of their own. ¬†I’ll always feel that honor no matter how old I get. ¬†I was one of their’s. ¬†In some way, it was a clear picture to me of how I could be grafted into God’s family through Jesus Christ.

Jerry introduced me to activities that I had never known before. ¬†He was an outdoorsman. ¬†Not Daniel Boone-like. ¬†But, he enjoyed outdoor¬†activities. ¬†Sue has told me stories of their camping trips across the country in those faux-wood sided station wagons that once populated our highways and bi-ways. ¬†I fished in my first Minnesota fishing opener with Jerry and his sons and friends. ¬†I loved it. ¬†I was never much of a fisherman and there were many times that I think he slyly tested my mettle during the early years of these events. ¬†He positioned me in the front of the boat as the “anchor man” during my early fishing openers. ¬†Though I can’t prove it I wonder if he wasn’t snickering as he watched me stand at the bow of the boat as the wind whipped up the waves on a cold Minnesota spring day. ¬†I mean, how hard can it be to toss an anchor into a lake? ¬†Well, if you don’t know how deep it is or how to properly set the anchor, it can be challenging. ¬†Especially as you try to keep your balance while the water laps up high over the bow, down your waders and into your clothing. ¬†I’m sure he laughed. ¬†He had a good sense of humor. ¬†And, I truly didn’t mind because I felt like I was part of the family. ¬†I didn’t mind getting the holey waders the first few years of our fishing trips. ¬† Or, getting into the lake with them to put the dock out into the nearly frozen spring lake or at the end of the summer in preparation for another cabin closing for the season. ¬†Frozen feet or wet pants were just a part of the initiation into this great family. ¬†And it was worth it. ¬†Every memory. ¬†I just hope I did well by Jerry. ¬†I think I did.

Though he and his son annually emulated Elmer B. Fudd going after Bugs Bunny (with more success and going after ducks and pheasants — not rabbits), I only went out with them once into a pheasant farm field. ¬†Even then, I seldom shot the gun. ¬†Never mastered the art of the shot. ¬†Yet, I could certainly see how time in the field with these men would have been a wonderful experience. And, in retrospect, I wish I had gone with them at least once on their duck hunting excursions.

As much as he introduced me to adventures I had previously ignored, we shared some common loves of life. ¬†We both loved to golf, watch (and loathe our local NFL team) the Minnesota Vikings, watch college hockey (but cheered for rival teams – I am a MN Gopher fan and alumni and he a ND Sioux fan and alumni) and, of course my wife—his daughter. ¬†He was as cynical a fan as I was and am. ¬†So, our discussions about the Vikings, Twins and other MN sports teams would quickly¬†denigrate¬†into complaining about the team and its performance. ¬†In the scheme of life it’s not a big deal but I wish the Vikings could have given him one Super Bowl victory before he departed (just like a lot of Cubbie fans over the years).

I’ll always have the image of Jerry standing over his golf ball and taking that unique swing of his that almost always defeated me when we played head to head. ¬†It was just fun playing golf with him. ¬†I will miss that a lot. ¬†And, I will miss playing with Peggy too. ¬†She always made me feel like I was Jack Nicklaus when she talked about a shot that I hit that she “couldn’t believe”. ¬†There were a lot of forgettable shots but not many that were memorable but she was able to make you feel like a golf king. ¬†Jerry also crowed to the clubhouse gang about memorable shots his family hit during a round.

He loved crosswords and Sudoku. The image of him sitting with his right leg crossed over his left knee to form a lap table as he worked on the daily crossword puzzle is etched in my head.

Jerry loved his family. ¬†He never said much but his actions and reactions showed how proud he was of his children, his “grafted in” children and his grandchildren. ¬†Mostly, he loved his wife. ¬†I think that when all is said and done and the mountain of memories stand tall, the one thing that will stand out to me when someone asks me what I thought about my father in-law, I will say “He adored his wife and loved and led his family well”. ¬†His strong, silent leadership was evident but it was the way that he interacted and choreographed the dialog with his wife of 58 years that still touches my heart as I think about it today. ¬†They made each other laugh….sometimes to the point of pain. ¬†They chided and cajoled, scolded and¬†corrected each other and always in fun or respectfully. Jerry always seemed to light up around his wife. When she went home to be withe The Lord, much of him went with her. They were truly a couple that was made “one” in Christ through marriage. I miss them and I miss those times.

So, as I close out this written tribute my memories remain and bring much joy as I remember my “other” father this Fathers day, that won’t be the same without him.

Your loving son-in-law

March 29, 2011

Late in the day and Late in the week is best time for retweeting #timesci

December 10, 2010

How the World Googled in 2010 http://ow.ly/3mZD8

$%#* My Dad Says: Funny Yes But Innocent Fun?

October 12, 2010

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I love social media. ¬†I love the potential it has to connect, inform, extend and expand relationships and influence in business, personal and ministry realms. ¬†In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time reading, watching and learning about it while I help others try to use it for more than sharing their meal habits or doings during the day. ¬†So, it’s not surprising to me that it’s been not only in the news but it’s currently in the forefront of our entertainment. ¬†Social Networking, the movie about Mark Zuckerberg’s journey with Facebook is the #1 movie in the country as I write. ¬†And, a TELEVISION SHOW has been created out of a Twitter stream! ¬†Who would have thought that a seemingly innocent effort by a young man to share the phrases his dad says would bring about a Twitter following of more than 1.7 MILLION and be the basis for a new fall TV show on CBS called, #$&@ My Dad Says.

Now, before you go to read Justin’s twitter feed, I warn you that the words and phrases on the Twitter stream are not decoded and are very explicit—definitely “R” rated. ¬†I’ve read the stream and do find it very funny much of the time. ¬†But, I think that’s because he’s not MY dad. ¬†How would I really feel if he was saying that to me? ¬†It’s one thing when it’s someone else’s dad. ¬†But it’s ALWAYS SOMEONE’S dad!

Here’s my thought: ¬†As funny as Justin’s dads comments might be, what would happen to our kids if we were to say these things to our children on a regular basis–i.e., what REAL impact might they have? ¬†Most of our conversations to our children that cut them down, minimize their decisions, ridicule their comments or simply question their intelligence will not be fodder for a nationally shown television show. ¬†And, I argue, even if they were, is that the model we want to shoot for? ¬†Funny? ¬†Maybe? ¬†¬†Words can tear apart the soul of a child. ¬† Is it worth the momentary laugh if you deflate your child for a lifetime? ¬†Can you justify the damage your words could do to your child by telling them that they are nothing more than an idiot for thinking or saying something I didn’t agree with, all for the sake of pumping yourself up or for a quick “LOL”? ¬†I guess it begs the question, “how do you talk to your children?” ¬†Do you lift them up with your tongue or use it as a whip and a platform for your comedy? ¬†It’s an important question. ¬†The answer might leave long and painful scars or provide a safe harbor for your children to mature within.

When it comes to evaluating the cost of success for the family emulated in this television show, I believe the cost far outweighs the millions they all get from TV, books, and other money making ventures associated with this theme. ¬†I guess being a father of courage, giving up your own interests for the interests of your family, sacrificing time and energy to show them how important they are doesn’t make for good TV material. ¬†So, ripping your kid because he said something stupid doesn’t have any ill effect. ¬†I’ll just tear them apart because it’s funny and will make us a fortune when they cast our family’s dysfunction into a prime time show. ¬†It’s a lie. ¬†A fathers words carry a huge impact on our children—both for good and for evil.

I’m often saddened by the way that fathers are portrayed on television. ¬†Name ONE from today’s shows that you’d like to be YOUR dad? ¬†Dads—we don’t get our example of how to father our kids from television, that’s for sure. ¬†But, where can we get a model of how to do this thing called “fathering”? ¬†B ¬†I ¬†B ¬†L ¬†E. ¬†It’s the only book I’ve ever found that gives me wise counsel every time I open it up.

Additionally, I tap into the network of dads in my life who really WANT to be Godly and influential dads. ¬†None of us do it right all the time. ¬†That’s OK. ¬†As long as we’re doing it better today than we did yesterday we are becoming the dads God created us to be. ¬†Hang in their dad! ¬†Don’t emulate TV dads. ¬†Follow our Heavenly dad and find a few down here who will come alongside you and be an encourager and, when needed, provide a little butt kicking too (without the coarse language :).

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No, We Haven’t Stopped Writing for the DadPad

October 6, 2010

I was recently asked if we stopped writing for the DadPad. ¬†We apologize for the “hoards” ***snicker*** of you that follow our little blog. ¬†I (Jeff) take full responsibility. ¬†It is the death knell of any blog to leave it dormant for nearly two months. ¬†Shame on us. ¬†Our apologies.

OK…now that I’ve gotten that off my chest…we truly do apologize for the latent posting activity. ¬†Latent because I’ve started at least a half a dozen posts that are still in draft mode. ¬†I’ve got a lot of thoughts and things I’d like to share to get your response but just haven’t finished them enough to hit the “publish” button. ¬†But, thanks to the gentlemen that prompted my inner writer, I am committed (at least temporarily ūüėČ to resume posts about fathering on The DadPad.

We do want to let you know that we are in the very early stages of revamping our blog, considering how we can get some additional voices as authors, engage a larger number of dads to contribute content and make this a place where dads of all shapes, sizes and ages can come in, learn a little…share a little and feel a little more of the fatherhood fraternity.

So, look for more regular posts as we intentionally share more of our experiences as dads with the hope of being a source of encouragement to everyone who holds the esteemed title of “father”.

In the meantime, if there are some issues you’d like to see us address, subjects you have immediate concerns about or just want to share some of your fathering insights, please feel free to share them as comments to this post or email us at adadpad@gmail.com.

Until our next post (and we promise it will be sooner than 44 days from now)…

Go get ’em, Dad.

Tears of a Warrior

August 23, 2010

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It’s the rainy season. It may look warm and dry where you are, but take a closer look at the faces of parents with college-aged children and you’ll see what I mean. Tears by the bucketful are being shed as parents all across the country entrust their students to less hospitable institutions of higher learning. Mingled in the parential downpour of tears are my own and those of my wife, Anna. Having just returned from releasing our third child into remote collegiate settings, we know the rainy season well: the goodbye embraces, the contemplative silence on the journey home, the sense of sudden disconnection, and the what-if worries for their future. Empty place settings at dinner, vacant rooms and unfamiliar family dynamics are daily reminders that it is a rainy season and not just a storm.

This rainy season is a powerful force of transformation for parents and students alike. For them, it brings new friends, new learnings and new opportunities to hone their mettle. For us parents, this season is a reminder that children are our arrows. Psalm 127:4 says, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one‚Äôs youth.‚ÄĚ (NIV) Like a warrior, we are meant to powerfully release them into the world and not hold them selfishly in our quiver ‚ÄĒ even if it means wading through our own torrent of tears to do it.

Your thoughts? What are ways you’ve found to powerfully release your student?

This post was originally posted as a Thought for the Day on Leary’s personal blog.

Father not Fat-ter

August 10, 2010

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I ran across another dad who recently lost 50 lbs and commented on a blog post that I wrote about why it’s important for dads to take care of themselves physically (see my post, The Weight of a Father). ¬†He found that post and shared with me how he had lost 50 lbs (way to go!!) and was beginning a Father’s Day challenge to see if Dad’s from around the globe could collectively drop 1,000,000 pounds by Father’s Day 2011. ¬†That’s a big goal. ¬†Let’s see, that’s 2,739 lbs per day for the year. ¬†So, if there are 20,000 dads who need to lose 50 lbs or 40,000 who need to lose 25 lbs, the goal can be reached. ¬†So, what about you, dad? ¬†Here’s the link to his site if you feel like dropping a little tonage in 2011. ¬†Never a better time than right now! ¬†I’ve got about 25 to lose so I’m in.

The One Million Pound Fathers Challenge

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Jim Bob Duggar on the Set of Courageous

June 18, 2010

When I was in Albany, GA last week, I had the chance to see a lot of great people who have a heart for the Lord and for reaching men/fathers. ¬†One of those is the father of the largest (that I know of anyway) family in America–the Duggar family, and one of the stars of TLC’s 19 and Counting. Jim Bob Duggar was on the set and in this video is being interviewed by Stephen Kendrick, Producer of Courageous. ¬†Stephen asks Jim Bob the keys to being an effective father. ¬†Jim Bob gave a great response…watch

June 15, 2010

Funniest or most memorable gift you’ve received or given on Father’s Day? Share it @dadpad Dad Day: Gifts and Laughs http://ow.ly/1YU6z