Family Life

Start The Disciplines Early
By |   March 5, 2012 |   in Family Life

So, as you may have noticed, the staff of Conversations Journal isn’t perfect. Well, maybe Gary and Joannah are, but I’m certainly not. And during editing season, I’m particularly distractible, apt to forget to return emails or show up to appointments. Which is all preamble to my sincere apology to blogger Valerie Hess for failing to publish her wonderful blog on how children have made an impact on her walk with God during the month of February—despite the fact that she got it to me on time. So, instead of depriving you, our readership, of this excellent piece, I’m sneaking it in now. Enjoy!

Tara Owens, Senior Editor

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The Father’s Control
By |   February 27, 2012 |   in Family Life

Children represent many things: unquestioning love, childlike faith, unpretentious humility. But there is another aspect of children we don’t often think about – their position of submission to authority. When it comes to authority, children are at the bottom of the heap. They are always being told what to do, and they have no choice but to do it, however begrudgingly.

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Him Wants Me
By |   February 23, 2012 |   in Family Life

Sitting before me appears to be an innocent picture of a young boy, neatly dressed, standing next to his dad. Yet to me, it’s the most revealing picture that I’ve ever seen. It has become a window into my soul enabling me to see into my life as a child and understand how at an early age my soul was formed.

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Blessing Children
By |   February 20, 2012 |   in Family Life

I’m a father to three sons who are now all teenagers. I’m continually amazed at each one’s uniqueness. They are a great blessing to me. When all three of them were young children, I took some training in spiritual direction at the Pecos Benedictine Abbey in New Mexico.

One of the gifts of that experience was witnessing rhythms and patterns of spoken blessing. When I returned home from four weeks of living this rhythm of life, community and ministry, I had a deep desire to express this rhythm of blessing with my sons.

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Today, He Is Your Teacher
By |   February 17, 2012 |   in Family Life

My oldest Godson, Jackson was about 18 months old when he and his sister, Tamara, were sleeping over while their parents coped with a cancer diagnosis. I dropped Tamara off at school, and Jackson and I headed to one of my favorite hang out spaces—the outdoor labyrinth of a nearby church. I entered the area with my usual sense on sacred “awe.” Jackson entered the space with wide-eyed wonder. I always paused at the entrance of the labyrinth in reverence for the Holy that I encountered there and, quite frankly, to settle myself from the rush of carpooling, breakfast preparation, children gathering and the like. I took in a deep breath and before I could exhale I heard the Spirit say, “Today, he is your teacher.”

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What The Internet Didn’t Teach Me About Motherhood
By |   February 15, 2012 |   in Family Life

I think of her often. The mother nursing two babies living in a hut in West Africa. The mother from Mongolia who left her baby bundled tightly on the bed while she tended to other things around the farm. While the rooster, and dog, and toddler tended to her infant.

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Children: Living Parables
By |   February 13, 2012 |   in Family Life

As I pondered the parables of faith that children have been for me, two images immediately came to mind. The first parable was embodied by my grandson, who is three, as we spent a day at an amusement park. I watched in amazement as he would ride the same ride over and over again, each time an infectious joy radiating from his face, and a quickness to his step as he ran excitedly through the exit at the rides conclusion just to get back in line for the very same ride. In fact, in some marvelous way his delight and joy seemed to be increased, not diminished by the repetition.

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Seek to Serve
By |   February 10, 2012 |   in Family Life

Recently I was doing lectio divina on Matt 18:1-5 where Jesus sets a child in the middle of the disciples who had been squabbling over who would be the greatest and tells them, “Be like this!” (Mark 9:33-37). I liked how instead of chiding them for their egotism, Jesus distracts them with the absurd idea of becoming like children, who were very lowly creatures in that culture, quasi-servants, in many cases. Why should these guys—gatekeepers to the latest and greatest prophet (Mt 17:24)—be like humble children?

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Learning Childlike Faith
By |   February 8, 2012 |   in Family Life

One Saturday when my daughter Mara was six I was being a “good dad,” watching TV with her. At one point, an Ad Council public service announcement came on. It talked about the dangers of cigarette smoking and how it had been found to cause cancer.

I was a smoker at the time, and I happened to have a cigarette lit when the announcement came on. Mara turned to me and asked: “Is that right, Dad? Is cigarette smoking bad for you?” “Yes,” I admitted. Next, Mara asked: “Then why are you smoking?”

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Lies and Laughter
By |   February 7, 2012 |   in Family Life

I love it when great people write great things. I love it even more when great people write great things on a topic that we at Conversations are talking about. For a wonderful meditation on lies and laughter, inspired by a conversation with his son Wyatt, click on over and read Winn Collier’s excellent article on breaking the cycles of self-violence.