Our Babes are Growing Up…

Last week we had a family reunion. It’s the first time in (we don’t know how many) years that everyone was together — spouses, kids… It was WAY, way overdue and a wonderful weekend.

One of the fun things we did was stage a “then and now” photo.

THEN – 4 cousins – (1991, when Reedy Girl was less than 6 months old and The Graduated Johnnie was 4)


And NOW (2013)


And here on the home front, the pileated woodpeckers brought the kids over to the breakfast buffet this morning. They can’t fly very well yet. There’s 3 juvenile woodpeckers on the pine tree, and an adult on the feeder.

4 Pileated Woodpeckers: 1 adult (on feeder) and 3 juveniles
4 Pileated Woodpeckers: 1 adult (on feeder) and 3 juveniles

It’s amazing to watch all these birds leaving the nest…

“Rules” for dating our daughters…

You’ve probably read the “joke” rules from someone on dating his daughter. (One version is here.)

These rules are not funny. They border on brutality and reek of chauvenism. They suggest that every young man can’t keep his pants zipped and is only out for predatory dating. And they assume that because we have a daughter, that she is not capable of taking care of herself. That she needs a “prince” to rescue her from a “dragon.” Or that she needs our “help” in assessing who is a good person to date.

We hope that, by our example, conversations and the company we keep that we don’t need to screen their dates. Even in the internet age, we find that trust and openness are more likely to come as we teach and then back off and let them try their hand at life, relationships and the rest. In the interests of raising daughters who have common sense, and can face down and kill their own dragons, thankyouverymuch, here’s my rules. (By the way – It’s not difficult to impress her, or us. Just be a grown up!)

1) She has her own interests and her own pursuits. Find out about them, support them and genuinely cheer her on as she develops her skill and expertise. She will reciprocate.

2) Treat her as a piece of property and you will be evicted off hers. By her. (Corollary: She is not your property. Don’t treat her like it.)

3) She has a brain and knows how to use it. Same with some basic Chin-na moves.

4) She has feelings and doesn’t want them abused. She knows that the same applies to you.

5) When she says, “NO,” she means, “NO.” And don’t assume silence is a “YES.”

6) Remember to demonstrate the manners your parents tried to teach you. I promise she will try to use hers.

7) Act primeval and you will not impress. Any of us.

8) She has friends, a sib and parents who always, ALWAYS have her back.

9) Post online a snarky remark about her or text her a rude comment — you will find out that while she is forgiving, she is not stupid. And that it was nice knowing you.

10) We will welcome you as a guest and a friend in our home and our lives. We’ll celebrate your achievements, support your dreams and treat you well, because people who make our daughters happy, make us happy.

things I haven’t pondered recently…

A lunchtime conversation today brought back to me the days (or should I say ‘daze’?) of our years of parenting babies and toddlers. The time does fly by in a blur, though at that time I was not aware how quickly it would do so. Even though our daughters are 4 years apart, the number of years in my adult life that I spent getting up with a hungry/sick child are very small compared to the rest of my life. We had preschoolers in our home a total of eight years. Yet the way it is described in some parenting books, you’d think I’d be doing it forever.

When I talk with parents of young children in our congregation today, I’m sure I sound like all the old farts that I heard spout off about “when my children were little.” So I really REALLY try hard not to blather on… And when I remember how little I disliked their advice (even when I asked for it) I try not to give it.

Because,parenting is, as I remarked on the way home, a function of the dynamics of every family. Even the same parents will find that their children will respond differently to life in general. Some process stress with aplomb. (I do love that word! Aplomb!!!) Some need a personal space bubble to re-order their world. Some need constant, velcro-like attachment to a trusted adult. Some like to talk through what they are thinking, wondering, needing. Others expect you to pull it out of them by osmosis. Or maybe a divining rod. But each “trio” of parents and child will be different, because the experiences, situations and personalities are all different.

Sure, there’s ground rules of what is a good idea, but even those can vary from house to house. We aren’t sticklers for the “no food in front of the TV” rule any more. Friday evenings are usually “pizza and a movie” nights. (Or during marching band season, it’s another weekend night.) We still don’t like texting at the table. We expect the girls to help now with most household chores, particularly the dishes, the laundry, trash and recycling. But those are tasks we all help pitch in and do.

One “rule” I guess we’ve stood firm on, and that is that we each need space, care and time to grow. We need to hear that we are loved, and have a place to express love back. We need to know in our deepest heart of hearts that there are people in this world who think we are the cat’s whiskers. And it starts, yes, in how we engage with one another, even in the early years of parenting.

I wish I could say I’ve got it all figured out. That would be…wrong! I’m still growing and learning how to live out my faith in the God I love and worship. And all that other “stuff” — I guess we’ll keep trying plan B, C, D, E, F… and ZZ.

My recent side-readings (devotional readings with Scripture) have been in reading Brennan Manning’s book The Furious Longing of God. Manning traces back through the writings of God’s people — not just Scripture, though the book is infused with biblical reference. He takes spiritual formation through the route to God’s heart and then to our own. He strips away the “PhD syndrome” of the over-educated or over-preached-to (my phrases, not his) to draw us back to the place of accepting, internalizing and living out God’s incomprehensible, unconditional love for us.

If we continue to picture God as a small-minded bookkeeper, a niggling customs officer rifling through our moral suitcase, as a policeman with a club who is going to bat us over the head every time we stumble and fall, or as a whimsical, capricious, and cantakerous thief who delights in raining on our parade and stealing our joy, we flatly deny what John writes in his first letter (4:16) — “God is love.” In human beings, love is a quality, a high-prized virtue; in God, love is His identity.  

The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning, p. 77.


So if I can move in the direction of God’s love as I make choices and care for others, I’m thinking I’m going in the right direction. It won’t require mandates and “wise” parenting principles. Just love and common sense. But you and I both know that will never sell a book. 😛

Back to her future…

The Johnnie headed back to campus this morning, eager to start her sophomore year. I know she is ready. I know she is incredibly happy there. The Great Books program at St. John’s College is absolutely perfect for her.

…but… I will miss her. We all will.

We’re proud of you, young scholar, and look forward to seeing what God has in store for you in the weeks and months to come.  Stay true to who you are and who you’ve been Created to be.



Dear Mom…

Dear Mom…

Happy Birthday!

I won’t tell everyone how old you are. (For once, I’ll behave.) I wanted to thank you for all you’ve done for your family.

You’ve answered our questions…

Exposed us to new places and new ideas…

Had a loving, long-lived, committed marriage…

Loved your children and grandchildren…

Tried new things…

Enjoyed life and living with humor and grace…

And encouraged us to do the same…

Thanks, Mom.

I love you!


Our kids started back to school today. They got out the door on time to make the bus (at least I think so… the schools haven’t called us to tell us they are truant!) I remembered to go to the schools and drop off their “controlled medications” (aka Tylenol!) to the Health Room.

In my inbox this morning was the annual list from Beloit College on the class of 2011 (the present crop of 18 year olds.) They listed 70 things… I’ve culled out the ones that struck me. (The complete list is here.)

Most of the students entering College this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead.

#1. What Berlin wall? No, it never existed. But they know about it.

#3. Rush Limbaugh and the “Dittoheads” have always been lambasting liberals. hmmm… no comment.

#4. They never “rolled down” a car window. I hadn’t thought about that one!

#7. They have grown up with bottled water. Yeah. Well, since the school drinking fountains are shut down because of lead in the water, I don’t mind sending bottled water to school!

#11. Rap music has always been mainstream. Um… not in my river. But OK.

#35. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names. Huh. Yeah. Consider this: “Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center” on the campus of Ohio State.

#64. Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil. Funny one.

#68. Burma has always been Myanmar. And my spell-checker STILL suggests I spell it “Mylar.”

Great commentary on culture and the future of the church…


Shameless self-advertisement…

Last year I was “interviewed” (via email) for an article that was written for the magazine E-Quality (published by Christians for Biblical Equality.) The article was on egalitarian Christian marriages and parenting. My cyber-friend Kathy Nesper (whom I actually have met IRL) wrote it… and you can find it HERE!

Now you’ll see how radical I really am. 🙂