Posts Tagged ‘Memories’

Connecting With Your Kids Series: #2-You Can Do It, They Can Help

March 24, 2010

Today’s post is from another guest author, Barry Williams.  Barry is a colleague of mine at FamilyLife.  He is passionate about being a dad and communicating that passion to other dads by being an involved father.  In his day jobs, Barry has been helping ministries develop and implement technology strategies for over 15 years.  He currently serves as the Director of Information Technology at FamilyLife in Little Rock, AR.  Prior to coming to FamilyLife he was the I.T. Director at The Josh McDowell Ministry in Dallas, Texas.  Barry, along with his wife Shannon, have been involved in ministry to families for the past 20 years.  Their passion is their 8 children,  3 girls and 5 boys spanning the ages of 18 months to 18 years.  They currently serve as Small Group Coaches for their local church and lead various marriage and parenting small group studies.

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I’m quite sure that they had no idea.  How could they?  But years before the marketing gurus at The Home Depot adopted a similar phrase as their slogan; a young Daddy with his beautiful, blue eyed, two year old little girl discovered this amazing truth somewhere between the Paint and Hardware isles.

It was a Saturday morning and my lovely bride needed a well deserved break from toddler duties.  So, quite courageously, I, along with a list of ‘Honey Dos” and this eager toddler in tow, set off on our first of many daddy-daughter excursions.  It was amazing!  It happened by accident!  A discovery that would last forever! I learned that the ORDINARY things of life present EXTRAORDINARY opportunities to connect with those most precious to us.

Now, 18 years and 8 handy helpers (between the ages of 18 years and 18 months) later, it’s still a time honored rite of passage when a new little one gets to take their first solo trip with Dad to The Home Depot.  But it hasn’t stopped there…

It may be fixing a faucet or cleaning the garage.  It may be raking the leaves or washing the car. It may be mowing the lawn or Monday Night Football, but I’ve come to learn that no matter what ‘important’ thing that ‘I’ve got to do’I can do it, and they can help.

Along the way, I’m learning to ask better questions, and not just give instructions.  And in the midst of the dust and debris, we both learn a little.

How does this connection happen?  I’ve thought about this a lot over the years and I’ve come think it happens because:

I let them into my life.

They have a sense that I must love and value them if I let them into my big, important Dad world. As a dad of 8, it gets really challenging to schedule very many ‘daddy dates’.  And since I haven’t yet found a way to create any more than 24 hours a day, if connection is going to happen, it has to happen in the midst of the day to day. Perhaps the most important benefit to this is that they come to know that they can always find some time with Dad.  That he is accessible any day, any time and not just on special occasions.  Just like our heavenly Dad.

They invite me into their life.

There is a trust that is created when we share life together. When they tell me the names of their stuffed animals or share with me the details of their favorite Disney Channel stars they are inviting me into to what they hold dear.  When I treat these things with respect and care, they end up just a few short years later sharing their larger dreams, hurts, and fears. This has proven especially important as they enter their teen years. Because I let them into my life at a young age they invite me into theirs when they become teens.

We end up having ‘our thing.

As they get older, the allure of Home Depot fades a bit.  But along the way we end up finding ‘the thing’ that we both enjoy sharing.  Be it tennis, yard work, coloring, music, Starbucks, ice cream, backpacking or movies… we each look forward to getting to do ‘our thing’ together. The really awesome thing about this is that the ‘our things’ in life don’t have to stop when the parenting ends.

I’m sure they didn’t have Fatherhood in mind when they took it as their slogan, but remember Dads …“You Can Do It, They Can Help.

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A Thanksgiving Tribute to my Mother-in-Law

November 26, 2009

During a holiday where we typically celebrate with those we love and share those things we are grateful for (and direct that thankfulness accordingly, in our case, toward God), I must admit that my focus has been limited to being faced with the truth of my beloved mother-in-law’s seemingly limited time on this earth.

Tributes are all too often done AFTER someone departs this earth. I wanted to make sure that I crafted a Thanksgiving Tribute to Peg before she leaves us. I don’t know if she’ll be able to hear this if someone reads it to her but I want her and those around me to know how much I love her and how grateful I am that she’s been such an inspirational woman of faith and fortitude in my life.  Here are some snippets of the letter I posted to Peg on my personal blog at Abramo-Bits & Bytes:

Peg, I don’t know if you will awaken long enough to ever read this or to hear it read to you but I couldn’t let you go without saying good-bye to you. It seems at this time I won’t get a chance to see you unless God intervenes in a big way, the only way He ever intervenes :) . So, as the tears flow down my cheeks, I want you to know that I love you.

You’ve been a great model of a wife who loved her husband like the one described in Proverbs 31. I think it’s right to include some of that Proverb here because it aptly describes much of the woman you’ve been to your husband and family:

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

I love your zest for life.  You’re always willing to speak what’s on your mind.  There is no “wondering” about how you feel about something.  I love that.  I love the discussions we’ve had about life, faith and the world around us.  As easily as you express your opinion, you also listen to what others have to say.

Your laugh is infectious.  Some of my best memories are of us all laughing…

I’ll also never forget how you accepted me into your family as one of your own.  I’ve felt as much a part of your family as I have my own…

I wish we could play one more round of golf together.  Your compliments of my golfing far exceeded my actual ability.  You’ve been a great …

Read the entire LIVING tribute to my mother-in-law Peg by CLICKING HERE and going to Abramo-Bits & Bytes


Dad as Connector – Part 1

November 5, 2009

1st of a 2-part series of how Dads can connect their sons  and daughters to themselves and other men and women.

Get ConnectedPreviously I wrote a series of “Dad as…” blog posts.  (see the DadPad archives to read them).  They were Dad as Coach, Counselor and Consultant.  Here’s another—Dad as Connector.

Outdoor activities like hunting, fishing and camping are not at the top of my “bucket list” activities.  That is, I didn’t do them much growing up, have dabbled a little in each of them over the years, didn’t spend a lot of time engaged in them with my son and don’t plan on making them lifelong chases.  It’s all rather unfortunate, really.  They are GREAT activities for connecting sons and fathers at a deep level.  I can almost definitively say without any hesitation that where a son and his father have connected in those kinds of pursuits, there is a deep bonding between them.

During the 16th year of my son, Bryan’s, life, we did something that was special and it included camping and some fishing.  A group of 5 dads and their sons concluded a year long small group study using PromiseKeeper’s Passages material with a celebratory trip to the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.  It was a memorable trip for a number of reasons.

First, we were out in the outdoors together.  Laughing, hiking, fishing, canoeing, tenting and so on.  Then, I had written a 4 page letter to my son to share some real intimate, personal thoughts that I had of him to encourage him.  I told him how proud I was of the young man he was becoming and of my continual prayer for the man of God I envisioned and prayed for him to grow into.  I read–Bryan paddled (no motorized water equipment is allowed within the Boundary Waters Canoe area).  Anyone who understands physics and weight distribution challenges in a small canoe can imagine what happened next.  Trouble ensued as I read and my much lighter son paddled into a stiff wind and waves.  I had plenty of time to read my mini-novel to him because it was apparent we weren’t going to get to any destination quickly.

Many memories of the weekend linger but the one that remains etched vividly is what we did the last night together.  We lit a fire in the pit.  Then, one at a time each dad stood over his seated son, laid his hands on his son’s shoulder and prayed for him.  Additionally, the group of dads prayed collectively over the 5 young men.  The dads verbally committed to pray for their son as well as for the others in the group.

I think of those men and their sons often.  This summer one of the men of the group got married and Bryan was in the wedding party.  I love each of the fathers like they were brothers.  It was a special year…a special group.  Those men took the time to speak into my sons life and I know they are words that still resonate within him today.

Though that weekend did not turn me into an “outdoorsman”, I connected with my son.  We have other interests and things we do together and though I do wish that we had more of those kind of experiences we’ve connected in other ways.  We have shared interests in football and other sports, spiritual conversations about growing in our walk with the Lord and even some more personal intimate accountability discussions.  Laying the foundation of connecting has helped us to stay connected through the years and, I pray, even after he embarks on his life post college and singleness.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:  How do you connect with your son or daughter?  What ways have you found to use both your interests and purposely finding out what they are interested in to deepen your relationship?  Make a decision to start engaging them in activities that will bring them into your world and bring you into their world!  You’ll never regret it.

The Subordination of Terra Firma Man

August 6, 2009

A confession: I’m terrified of heights. Seriously terrified.

On a ladder, I’m good until about the fourth rung. That’s when my knees start to weaken and my mind is filled with thoughts of tumbling backward and landing on my head. My kids think it’s funny. They like to poke fun at me about it. Vacationing at the Grand Canyon a few years ago gave them ample opportunity. The view for me was enjoyed a comfortable ten yards from any rail, lest I might uncontrollably launch myself into that great American abyss.

I don’t know what trauma gave birth to my acrophobia. Perhaps it was long ago when I was power-washing the cedar shakes on our roof to rid them of the oak saplings that had taken shallow root there. Slipping on a wetted tile, I nearly slid off the roof, clutching a corner of the house at the last moment to avoid a fifteen foot plummet. Or maybe I blocked some childhood trauma of being dropped on my head. Regardless, there’s no doubting it. I’m a Terra Firma Man. I prefer both feet solidly planted on the ground as God intended.

But Terra Firma Man met his match last week. Vacationing at Lake Tahoe provides a lot of exciting activities: hiking, biking, jet skiing, swimming and, gulp, parasailing. Nope! There’s no way you’d get me up there tethered to a rope 450 feet above water held in suspension by lawn chair straps. No way.


Joshua with yours truly, Terra Firma Man

No way, that is, until my boys started to work on me. That’s when I learned that parasailing was on Joshua’s “bucket list”—you know, like in the movie, the things you must do before you kick the bucket. As a 17-year old, I explained, that he had more time to do his list than I had to do mine, and parasailing wasn’t anywhere to be found on my bucket list. It was impeccable logic.  It was settled. I would remain grounded.

Until…something inside me spoke up. Something about creating memories that my boys will cherish. Something about loving them uncomfortably. Something said, “Yes. I’ll do it.” Once the words were out, there was no turning back. When Jonathan, my 15-year old also wanted to go, I said, “Sure. All three of us can go up together in tandem.” It wasn’t until the boat was underway that I discovered we would exceed their weight limit for a three person tandem. That’s when our “helpful” captain suggested that I could take turns going up with each of the boys separately. Terra Firma Man was a goner.

How was the experience? It was both exhilarating and terrifying. Yet, it was also highly (sorry) bonding. Viewing a sunset on Lake Tahoe from a parasail is spectacular. Viewing it with your child, and showing them you’re there because you love them, is priceless.

Yes, Terra Firma Man met his match. He loves his kids more than the ground beneath his feet. And for a time, that sent him soaring.

What uncomfortable ways have you found to tell your kids you love them?

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Father’s Day Fast Forward

June 19, 2009

Leary, Gregg and I have shared some memories of our dads over the past three posts. Some to be cherished. Lessons learned. Sadness revisited. The role of the father in the family is powerful. As father’s we want to leave a legacy to our children that will make a difference in their lives for good and build into the legacies they’ll leave to their children and their children’s children. We will take turns sharing the things we hope our children remember us for long past Father’s day!

Gregg Stutts-

The year is 2046. I pass away just a few months before my 61st wedding anniversary. I can’t complain though. I’d asked God to bless me with 60 years of marriage and He did. And now He has graciously allowed me to listen in to my memorial service. My children are about to share…

“I want to thank my dad for loving and serving my mom so well and for helping her become all God wanted her to be. Because I saw what my parents had, I knew what kind of marriage I wanted to have.”

“My dad’s natural bent was to worry and be anxious, but I saw him worry less and less over the years. He never stopped in his pursuit to believe God, not his circumstances. He showed me what it looked like to truly experience the peace of God no matter what was going on in his life.”

“My dad was full of grace. I always knew he loved me and accepted me unconditionally. He never stopped encouraging and affirming me for who I was, not just for what I did.”

“Most of you probably don’t know this, but my dad was pretty weird. He did and said a lot of funny things. Well, at least he thought they were funny. We just thought he was weird. He really enjoyed life and loved making himself laugh.”

May God grant me 60 years of marriage and may I be this kind of man.

Raw Life Footage

March 20, 2009

“Time to buy stock in Kodak.” — investment advice I received as a new father.  I’m amazed at how many “Kodak Moment” photos and hours of video we shot in those early years.  As a newbie dad I remember propping my arms on my daughter’s crib trying to hold the video camera steady in anticipation of capturing her first time rolling over.  It was like watching a pot boil.  As my arms tired, the temptation grew to help matters along by giving the crib a little tilt.  Then it happened.  “Whoo hoo.  She did it!”  And I’ve got all those hours leading up to it on tape.


Nice Hat!

March 13, 2009

Some of the best memories I have of my Dad are the times when we started something with excitement, got half-way in, and then didn’t know whether we could salvage it from disaster. There was that woefully under-powered go-cart we built, named the “Chug,” assembled from a scavenged motor, a plank stolen from the basement shelves, and wheels bought at the hardware store. We were stumped when it came to rigging up the steering mechanism, and the assembly stopped. I was eleven, and an eager helper, but the engineering was way over my head. One night we were seated at dinner when my Dad jumped to his feet, shouted: “I know how we can do it!” and bolted down the basement stairs. I was on his heals, still swallowing my chicken casserole. There, with shafts, axles, and chunks of steel the basic geometry of our steering dilemma was solved. The next day we went to the welder for a few precision bends of the steel spindles, and progress resumed.