Archive for the ‘Parenting’ category

unspeakable sadness

January 9, 2017

In the cold dark morning on Jan 8, 2017, my dear strong friend answered his door to face officers deliverying unspeakable sadness. Bless those officers for the grace and kindness with which they performed this delivery.

His youngest daughter, only 21 years old, died that cold morning. MacKenzie Kaye McCulloch was sweet and strong and inspired those around her, just like her dad.

She is the fouth young adult lost by people dear to me in two months, three of them in vehicle accidents.

As a parent of three young adults myself I feel pain beyond words and at the same time know my pain is nothing compared to my friends.

My brain races while my heart aches and my eyes drip.

I know there are better words, but these are the words in me today, as my dear friend Neil and his sweet wife Sally drive hundreds of miles today with MacKenzie’s syblings. They could be expected to wither in grief and anger; but Neil will be strong, kind and full of grace and Sally will call on her superpower of support.

Do not LIKE this post.
Do NOT share it and demand that others do if they agree.
Do NOT correct me.
Do NOT tell me this is the will or plan of God.
Do NOT tell me time will heal.
Do NOT tell me you’ll send prayers or thoughts.

I know all these answer and more, but today they do not help. If these answers help you then hold them, but they do not help me.

Consider these sweet names. Consider their parents who selected these names and joyfully announced them to the world with hope and anticipation.

David, Ricky, MacKenzie, Sean, Elliot, Bobby, Joe, Tommy, Wade, Margaret, Brad, Dennis … and damn my frail memory for the names that escape me now.

– if you want to respond please just add a comment with a heart. <3

– if you know these parents, reach out to them and tell them you miss their child. When possible do that in person.

– if you want to add a name, please add their first name and the year they died.

To Neil & Sally
To Duwain & Barbara
To Paul & Lois
To Jerry & Mary Jane
and your families and friends,

Deep love to you and your house today, tonight and in the coming days. May unexpected grace provide you with rest each night and help you rise strong to face each morning. <3




Kids: clay to mold or surprises to discover?

December 30, 2016

I have three kids and they are far more different than they are alike. Yes you can recognize bits of mom, bits of dad (me) and bits of each other. But if you only see those similar bits … well that’s just absurd right?

A friend recently said, “I’m trying to raise a Spartan”. I’ve heard that sentence both spoken and implied with many nouns at the end; doctor, lawyer, republican, democrat, person of * faith, genius, star, quarterback, goalie, graceful man, strong woman, writer, musician, artist, good American, free spirit, smarter than me, just like her mom, my successor, etc etc etc.

It’s clear that most parents think we are molding our children to become kids and then adults with certain ideals and ideas and characteristics.

Pause and think about that idea. Are your kids raw material to be molded by you? Does it make sense? Maybe Not?

IMPORTANT: This post is not about God or Country or any of the other ‘outside’ or ‘village’ influences. Whatever you think about those factors is true or not true independent of what I’m trying to say here about how parents frame their task of ‘raising their children’. Said another way, for the sake of this post, it actually does not matter what you feel about God or Country or other influences.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Feel free to dismiss this advice, particularly if it upsets you. I have NO credentials or authority other than I and my wife have three young adult children with whom we are mostly happy (sorry kids). This might have been super lucky so I’m not claiming to know it all.

My point is, if you are a parent (or step parent or any other variation of parent) I recommend you consider your children to be mysteries, surprise packages, amazing little unique people taking form before your eyes … rather than lumps of clay to be formed.

Stick with me here, I am NOT saying, just let them do what they will while you watch.

I am saying, spend at least as much energy discovering their unique characteristics as you do trying to define them. EVERY mother of twins will tell you stories about her twins’ differences. Discover and celebrate these unique characteristics!

You are in a race, from the first time you hold them, to 1) discover their unique characteristics 2) learn how to be the best possible parent for that unique child and 3) decide what you should encourage (lots), change (very little) and teach (mostly).

VERY IMPORTANT: You do not get to decide their unique characteristics. You must work with who and what they are.

EXAMPLE: One of my kids, as soon as they started playing with other kids demonstrated skills and desire to organize and direct. Sometimes this looked ugly as a characteristic in a child (manipulative, controling). But our challenge was to teach grace and respect rather than discouraging the built-in characteristic.

EXAMPLE: Two of my kids are musicians. However the details were different from the beginning and today I see those same differences years later. They are both excellent musicians but very different and I would absolutely not ask either of them to be more like the other. Although we exposed them to our love of music very early, neither I nor my wife molded them as musicians.

Those are just two examples of many characteristics simply discovered and encouraged. I am so thankful they are each so much more than we could ‘make them’. Frankly it’s more like we allow and assist our kids to discover and develop.

Your time to be their parent is much shorter than you think and every minute you spend trying to change something that is a characteristics is time lost that could have been spent encouraging or teaching.

What I am saying here, is like a parental serenity prayer

Grant us the serenity to accept the characteristics we discover,
Courage to develop the characteristics we can,
Patience to teach and encourage continuously,
Grace to respectfully correct or adjust only when needed,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Very little needs to be changed, far less than you think.

Mostly they need your help discovering their own characteristics and learning how to use them with love and respect for you and others.

I am pretty sure, the more we mold them like clay, the more we will make them like us. Is that REALLY what we want?

Listen more, talk less (this I say with authority)
Control less, follow more
Direct less, lead more
Expect more, demand less
Listen, Listen, Listen

Does this make sense? I sincerely hope so.
Sorry I didn’t know this sooner kids.


Parent with Jo Ann of Abigail, Conner and Benjamin

i’m a lucky dad

March 21, 2015

Dear Abbi,

You are twenty and before this year is done you will have taken your last class required for college and I will have given you away to be married.

You sit across our kitchen table from me as I write this, probably wondering WHAT I am crying about … or perhaps you know because I’m pretty sure women know EVERYTHING we men are thinking.

Smart, girlie, faithful, strong, reliable, sweet, contributor, stable, loving, diligent, caring, driven, creative, healthy, confident, beautiful, clear-headed, humble, supportive … well … you get the idea. I only ended that list because I need to move on and I’m sure my readers already think it’s too long.

Yesterday you were a blessing making our family complete and fulfilling our dream to have a girl. Today you hardly need me and may have only let me refill your water glass because I asked twice. Your independence is both fabulous and frustrating.

I’m sure my boys are better men because of their sister and I am a better father and husband than I would have been without you.

I hope you learned as much from my mistakes as you did from my teaching.

Love others with equal parts patience, kindness, grace, forgiveness and respect.

Be confident in what you know and believe, but know that time lost defending it could have been better spent in discovery. Certainty is comfortable but can make you blind and def. Listen and watch carefully those who question your convictions. Know that not all differences must be resolved or even explained.

I love you baby girl,

August 23, 2014

Go forth and fail

July 17, 2010

Ben, Conner & Abbi,

You have my permission and my blessing to fail. If you do not fail you will not have tried and you MUST try.

Go forth and fail. I hope you fail early and often. It is the work, the run, the climb, the distance, the endurance that will build you up. Victory is sweet, but quickly forgotten.

Dream large & small, with honor, conviction, humility and confidence.

Ask what you can do for others, but don’t ask them how. If they knew how they would not need your dream.

Henry Ford said, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.”

Love you,


Inspired by: You Will Fail!” and “if you are never wrong, you are never interesting