Rhythms that Work for My Family: Running Errands


A rhythm is something we do with regularity. Maybe it’s everyday, or every few days, but it’s something that you could set your clocks to because it will happen. It’s my goal to leverage my normal rhythms to make the investment that lasts in my kids lives.

We are a family of 5, and inevitably every few days entails Starr or I running an errand. Whether it’s the post office, grocery shopping, pharmacy, grocery shopping for what we forgot the first time, or just skattershooting around town; we spend a lot of time in the car out and about. While it can be tempting to let the kids stay at home, and do my stuff faster, I’m learning to resist that and take them along. Here’s how it works for me:

They have to want to go.|| I don’t make my kid go with me to the store, unless they just have to. I’ll tell you that if you can make the trip worth it a few times, then they’ll be begging to be with you.

Give them a job. || Always, always, always find a reason that you could use their help on your journey. Pushing the basket, carrying something into the house, or holding something in their lap while you drive there. I sincerely do need their help sometimes, and my kids have all loved feeling needed in this way.

Ask Questions. || So you want some private, alone time with that 9 year old? Here you go. The kid is buckled into their car seat and you have them with you for however long it takes to get where you’re going. I’ve talked about this many times before, but learn to ask leading questions and use the conversation to get to know these great young leaders in new ways.

Create a secret. || I’m not a huge fan of buying my kids junk at the store, as it breeds selfishness and begging down the road. However, there are times that stopping for a milkshake and encouraging them to drink it before we get home is a golden moment to a 7 year old. I’ve bought things when we’ve been out, let them start the ignition with the car key (with me behind the wheel), shift the car into reverse and drive, sit up front on a short drive, and pick their own music on Spotify from the iPhone. All of these things are “our secret” and they love it.

Be exceptionally patient. || With 3 kids shopping, it can be an unnerving experience sometimes, but with one kid I can afford to take my time, and let them figure out things on their own. Maybe this is my issue alone, but I find it much easier to slow down when only having one kid at a time on an adventure.

Here’s the real fear parents: Your kids won’t always want to go with you. I know that day is coming and it scares me to death. Join me in making the most of the time we have and leveraging every opportunity to let our kids know us and us to know them.

Have you discovered any creative ways to connect with your kids on daily rhythms?  

Why Conferences Matter

Care About Oranges

Few people know that I was a Meeting Management Major in college. I think the name of the degree has changed somewhat, but it was essentially a tourism management degree with a special emphasis in conference, exposition, and convention management (meeting management.)

I would do internships at these big conferences where people were looking for work, philandering about with strange women, and filling up that travel expense budget for their companies. It was schmooze city.

Now I’m 37 and in spite of those  experiences, I love a good conference!  In fact, I will be spending much of the next week at The Orange Conference in Atlanta. It’s called ORANGE, because we believe that if we could create rich experiences for children and students including both the family (RED) and the church (YELLOW) we would have something that reflects ORANGE. Get it?

There will be some schmoozing here, I guess; but then again there is that about anywhere you go these days. As I’ve prepared to go, and prepared to write some of my experiences, I’ve felt compelled to share why someone that doesn’t work in a church should want their church leaders to be at something like the Orange Conference.

  • It’s Different. // The music is different, the speakers are different, the ideas are different, the environment is different, and for much of us it’s a fun mixture of all the familiar and unfamiliar in one place. This is good for your leaders. They will either come back with something fresh for your church, or they come home with stronger convictions than ever that you are doing it the right way for your church.
  • It’s Fun. // It’s always fun to spend time with old friends, and make some new friends. Maybe that’s the schmoozing I wrote about earlier… It’s good for your leaders to enjoy themselves, especially with other people that think and create like they do.
  • It’s Challenging. // I can guarantee you that if you send your leaders to Orange, they will be challenged on something they’ve elevated to sacred status. This is a good thing. Sacred Cows make the best hamburgers anyways.
  • It’s Out of Town. // That’s a weird one, I know. There is something symbolic about packing that suitcase, getting in a car, waiting at an airport, and arriving somewhere unfamiliar. It lends itself to a journey, and that’s exactly what you’re asking your leaders to do, right? “Go on over there, and come back and tell us what you see.”

This may be the most unconvincing  argument  for letting your church leaders attend something like the Orange Conference; but take it from the sincerest parts of my heart. It’s this “getting away with other leaders” idea that could be really, really good for the local churches in all different parts of this country and beyond!






Rhythms that Work for My Family: Going to Bed


It’s the end of another long day, and it’s bedtime. My kids are old enough to get themselves dressed now, and don’t really need a “tucking” into bed. Their rooms are upstairs, and I’m out back on the porch enjoying the crickets and solitude. It is often tempting to let them meander themselves to bed, turn out their own lights, and then I’ll see them in the morning.

However, in my quest to make a lasting impression on my kids, I rise from the porch and commit myself to the last consistent rhythm to each day: Putting My Kids to Bed.

There are a few things that happen every night, and a few other things that happen upon request from the kids:

The GoodBye Handshake. You’ve got one with your kids, right? It’s secret, and we practice it everyday. It’s unique to just Dylan and Dad, but don’t worry, because Dylan has another secret handshake with Mom too.

Kiss the Girl. I kiss my boys, but they never ask for it. My daughter however, insists on it. Why would any sane father pass up a request like that? I’ve heard from older dads that it won’t always be there, and that fear alone makes me rarely pass on signs of affection from my little girl.

Saying Thank You. Many nights I work to find something really excellent my kids have done on that day, and tell them that I saw it. Maybe it’s a clean room, or a good grade on a spelling test, but I always try to leave them with something I really love about their day. Sometimes it can be difficult, but it’s usually there somewhere.

Ask about Tomorrow. Anything on your mind for tomorrow? Want to pray for anything that’s coming up?

Pray. I wish I could sincerely tell you that I pray with my kids each night, but it just doesn’t happen every single night. I read once that our kids aren’t given to us, as much as they are gifted to us for a season. That being true, I always use it as an excuse to pray this prayer:

“Thank you Jesus for letting Ryan live in my house and be my child. I’ll always be  grateful for the gift that he is to this family. Help me to be a father he will follow, and help Ryan grow just a little closer to you every day. Amen.”

Orange Friday Bag


It’s that time of year again. Since 2008, I’ve had a fun opportunity to spend a week in Atlanta, Georgia with friends that do my job and those that love the things we do. I have a real passion for parents, kids, and everyone that loves them; and when I’m in Atlanta at the Orange Conference I never feel more surrounded by likeminded people than I do when I’m there.

In honor of what will be a few updates from the Orange Conference 2013, I give you the Friday Bag…Orange Edition.

New Orange Conference Family Ministry Track — This is a great opportunity to really narrow down what we do for families within our church, and it’s a special chance for me to lead a breakout with these same leaders. I’m stoked to be teaching “Clarifying the Win for Family Ministry” on Thursday Afternoon, April 25th.

Tune into The Orange Conference! “We d love for everyone to be here in person for OC13, but realize that s not always an option. So, we d like to offer you the next best thing: tune in online. You ll be able to see on and off-stage action, including session streaming, speaker interviews, mayhem and hi-jinx, resource updates and giveaways, and perhaps even win a ticket to OC14!”  

The Orange Conference App “If you’re planning to attend The Orange Conference this Spring in Atlanta, Georgia, this app will help make your experience on site pretty darn stellar.”

Why come to Orange Conference 2013? from Orange on Vimeo.