Where Did Summer Go?

As the month of August wraps up, a season ends and another begins. The summer was a blur of activity, as was the month. Pardon me while I process what took place during the last 90 days. I’ll surely forget some major milestones, but here are some of the summer’s memories:

May:  School wrapped up for the kids, with another successful year for all. Second son Seth and I were in Australia for 10 days. Oldest son Dakota went directly from Hillsdale College to DC, where he interned for the summer. Oldest daughter Allie turned 15 (15? 15!). We cut a tree in our backyard down. I had some problems with vertigo.

June: I took the kids camping near Durango, and we dropped Allie off at Kanankuk Colorado (now Camp Kivu). Dakota turned 21 (wow, that was a fast 21 years!), celebrating in DC with friends and a favorite professor. Zane turned 6, and he promptly started thinking about next year, when he turns 7! Dena took a few days away planning for the coming school year. Seth got his braces off.

July: Camped near Lake City, CO and celebrated Dena’s birthday with some Texas friends. Spent a wonderful week at Redcloud Ranch, where I spoke about intentional parenting at Family Camp and we enjoyed lots of food, fellowship and outdoor fun. From there Dena drove straight to Texas with the four youngest kids for a week to visit her parents and help out with a variety of their needs. Meanwhile, I learned how to tile the bathroom floor.

Family Camping In The Rockies!

Family Camping In The Rockies!

August: Seth turned 18 (18? 18!). Dena went away for a few days, for more home school planning. Two of our aging vehicles had some issues which took them out of commission for a week each, fortunately neither was expensive to repair. Neighbor Harry passed away, which saddened us greatly. We started with a new pediatrician for Zane – with all the attendant paperwork – and she ordered a bunch of labs for him (nine vials of blood!). Dakota wrapped up in D.C. and came home for two weeks – and what a couple of weeks it was! He saw the orthodontist, the dentist, and had a check up with his primary physician. We had a “guys night out” to mark Seth’s birthday, playing laser tag and eating pizza. We camped at Weston Pass. Zane started at a new school – with some major bumps in his transition to kindergarten. Seth started his senior year at a local high school, but is dual-enrolled and taking all his classes at Pikes Peak Community College. Dakota and I went to a Rockies game (beat the Dodgers in extra innings!).

Hmmm. Looking back it sure seems that things intensified as the summer progressed. That’s how it feels, and as we head into autumn I suspect there will be plenty of activity and drama to come. Of course, we still have five kids at home, so that is to be expected! All of this keeps us holding tightly to God’s grace each day, and to hold loosely each day’s plans and events.

Facing what is sure to be a busy fall, I will choose to not be overwhelmed. ‘Tho there are things that will stretch and pull, we’ll grow and God will give grace each day. I will rest in the knowledge that each minute is our God’s, not ours, and He will work His plan for His Kingdom and His glory. May I have faith in His sovereignty, may I rest in His goodness, may I experience His presence…every step of the coming season of life.

I Had To Laugh

Like me, you’ll laugh when you listen to Luci Swindoll share stories from her childhood as she encourages folks to find joy in all of life’s circumstances. Be sure to hear about her mechanical goat!

Is Facebook Helping Or Hurting?

I’ll admit to being somewhat fascinated by the social media craze. I am not afraid to jump into the water and try new things out, and I’ve become rather conversant about blogging, Facebook, texting and Twitter. I think I’m pretty balanced when it comes to these technological tools, not addicted to them, nor ignorant of their power.

In all things moderation? I try. And yet the line is fine, and at times I wonder if these new ways to communicate are helping – or hurting – relationships. I especially think about this when I see my teens wanting to spend hours online…fortunately, they want to have “face time” with their friends even more.

Here’s one perspective about social media and relationships. It is worth reading, in which the writer suggests that Facebook, among other things, is ruining friendships. And here’s a more positive view, that social media creates community, something for both parents and business people to consider. Finally, a quick read for those who are overwhelmed by all this quick communication.

Webcast About Forgiveness in Marriage

On Wednesday the 26th from 4-6 EST Focus on the Family will host a webcast with Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham. We’ll be taking questions revolving around forgiveness in marriage and moving back to intimacy.
Join us for a conversation centering on the guests’ book, From Anger to Intimacy.

College Students and Credit Cards

Our family is enjoying the temporary return of our oldest son to the home. He’s back, in between his summer internship in Washington, D.C. and returning to Michigan for his junior year of college. It has been fun to hear some travel stories and have his wit back in the family mix.

He dropped me off at work today, and told me that he recently learned that he has been the beneficiary of our good financial history. Evidently putting him down as an approved user for one of our credit cards makes him a partner in our credit rating. I think I knew that, but it was a good reminder. I admonished him to make sure he doesn’t mess up that good rating through financial mismanagement. He won’t, as he is quite restrained in his spending and very responsible with his budgeting. Still, it made me think through the approach to credit card use for our next oldest children. Maybe I’ve got some second thoughts about letting them ride my coattails, if you will, when it comes to credit cards.

Now, we try to model fiscal restraint and responsibility in our lives, and our kids have seen us delaying purchases, buying at thrift stores and paying off that credit card bill every month. Still, the pull of the world will try to convince them that they have to have “stuff” now, and that having a credit card is the key to their significance and satisfaction in life. So I know there could be difficulties ahead for them, especially if they succumb to the marketing and don’t learn to use a card wisely. But maybe I need to help them see a credit card isn’t a necessity?

Seeing these statistics certainly should give a parent pause when it comes to their college student and credit cards. And here are more stats about the proliferation – and misuse of – credit in this segment of the population. Illustrating the dynamic of how credit companies are targeting young adults, one student admitted he had bought the lie of credit card “freedom” in this testimonial.

So what’s the solution? Well, here’s one rather dogmatic perspective on college students and credit cards. The writer notes the rather predatory practices of credit card companies, and the tendency of young adults to spend now and later figure out how to pay for the goods. Looking around, I can’t say I disagree with this “no credit card” approach!

Related, read financial expert Dave Ramsey’s take on getting your student a credit card (fans of Dave’s straight-forward approach to money already know what his advice is!).There’s not much room to argue with Dave’s perspective!

Alright, I’ve processed via this post, and am convinced that…I’m still not sure what we’ll do with the rest of the five kids when it comes to credit cards. But I’ve got to admit that I’m not likely to share my credit card with them, and I’m probably going to work harder on making sure they have a biblical understanding of money, debt and material things.

I’ll welcome your thoughts – leave a comment.

Starting The School Year Well

In many parents the new school year is beginning this week. If that’s the case in your community, you’re starting new routines and maybe even dealing with some challenges. To help, I’ve gathered some helpful advice about getting off in a good way from around the web.

For parents with children in public school, Eric Buehrer suggests ways you can connect with and make a difference in that school system. He offers solid, proactive advice you can implement today.

Is your youngster reluctant to go back to school? Here’s advice from the Focus on the Family Parenting Community forum. Maybe you have a suggestion to add to the conversation?

Here’s an article in the Wall Street Journal with advice gleaned from a recent study about the most effective ways to help your middle-school student succeed. The results and suggestions may surprise you.

I read an inspiring story here about a teen who has reached out to kids with ADD/ADHD and autism. The writer suggests this illustrates the benefits of giving your young adult some challenging goals and working to find his or her passion.

For older students, check out the Focus on the Family broadcast, which for the new few days features Alex and Brett Harris talking about their book, Do Hard Things. These 20 year-old twins have lit a fire and attracted a lot of attention for their message to teens: get out from under the stereotype of our culture’s low expectations for under-achieving “teenagers” and go do something big and bold for God! Your high school or college student will enjoy listening to this fast-paced, provocative conversation.

These are just some starting points for parents who are thinking that the summer break went too quickly, and that they aren’t as prepared as well as they would like to be for the new school year. Your suggestions on how to start the school year well are welcome!

When Your Child Goes To College

A little over two years ago we said “Goodbye” to our oldest, sending him off to college. I captured some thoughts about that transition, and some wisdom from Dr. Dobson about that time of life, here. Truthfully, that was a hard season. I wasn’t prepared for the meaning of the event, and the lingering difficulties associated with having a child out on his own. We missed our son and his presence in the home!

Here is another perspective about the rite of sending a child off to school. I like what the the author wonders,

“When is my work as a parent done?”

Well, from what I can tell, parenting is a life-long job, and it doesn’t end with a child’s 18th birthday or their move away to college. Our work begins when that baby is born and ends…when? Probably never!

As to the importance of the parenting role, the late Adrian Rogers observed,

Home is the university of life, with parents as the professors, children as students and life as the lab.

You may not be able to grasp how quickly time flies past, especially if you are stressed by raising young children right now. Those early years can be hard – and, In fact, the entire parenting journey can be hard! But you are training your child – intentionally or not – and soon enough he or she will head off for “life.”

So heed the advice of those who have gone before you, seize the moment, and drink in the gifts God gives to you today as a Mom or Dad. You’ll always be  parent, but one day you’ll wonder what to do with your free time, now that the kids are gone.

As the old song said,

Teach your children well…

Slow Down and Listen

We’re all too busy, right? Personally, I know only a handful of people who aren’t feeling trapped by the pace and volume of activities they have manage. And when we are running at breakneck speed, we often pass by God and other people. We’re just too busy to really listen. So what can you do? Well, maybe “less is more?”

Watch this video (scroll down a bit to see “Dave tunes out to tune in”) for an inspiring story of someone who slowed down and as a result found himself making a real difference in the lives of others.

Moms Follow Mom

According to a new study, women are likely to follow the parenting practices of their mothers.

After evaluating the survey findings, Ohio State University researchers found that for three aspects of parenting:

spanking children, giving physical affection/praise, and reading to children — women closely followed what their mothers did.

Interestingly, men didn’t follow Mom’s parenting style so closely.

Read a summary of the research here.

Awkward Moment: Billboards

I’m sure you can relate to this post by Jim Daly, in which he ponders how parents can best explain certain kinds of (adult oriented) billboards to younger children. It’s a challenge!

Next Page →