Category Archives: Being Dad

Ask The Readers: Tips for Traveling With Toddlers?

So, I don’t have any deep thoughts this morning as most of what I’ve been thinking about is an upcoming trip and how we are going to make it smooth and entertaining for two toddlers. Any advice? Mainly, these are the specific things I’ve been thinking about…

  • Easy to pack, exciting, lightweight snacks for the road
  • How to entertain a 2 and 3 year old during a three hour plane ride
  • What toys/activities to pack that won’t take up much luggage space, but will keep toddlers entertained for an entire week
  • OR what cheap but entertaining toys to buy once we get to our destination
  • Tricks to hauling carseats, strollers, backpacks, and kids along through an airport
  • And any other tips for traveling one might have…

Help Bring Autism Therapy to South Africa

I know I’ve been doing a bit of promoting random causes lately, but I really wanted to share this and I think a handful of you readers might be interested in lending your support.

In the fall of 2000 after I graduated high school I went and did a Discipleship Training School at YWAM in Denver. Part of the program was a two month trip to Mauritania and Gambia in northwest Africa. I had the good pleasure of having two great leaders on that trip, James and Caz Collins, who brought along their new baby boy, Malachi, who I think was just a month or two old at the time. Their decision seemed like such a commitment and dedication to service to me at the time, and I know it had an impact on me and my family. I still have a picture of me holding Malachi during that trip:

Malachi and Me, January 2001
Malachi and Me, January 2001

Not really sure how to explain my feelings about it, but I feel like that moment had an impact on me and my desire to love and care for kids (my own and others). Fast forward to today. I still keep in touch with James and Caz, through email updates of their growing family and their dedicated ministry. They moved to back to South Africa last year and have been doing some incredible work there. They are such dedicated servants and loving parents, so when I received this email I felt the need to respond. Caz explains things well, so I’ll just include the email below:

As you know our oldest son, Malachi has Autism and while we lived in the USA he Was able to undergo the latest therapy, which together with prayer has enabled him to Mainstream at school and overcome the bulk of his disorder. When we moved back to South Africa last year I was stunned to find nobody in our state -and yet to find someone in the whole of South Africa- who is properly trained to continue the therapy he needs. So I became his therapist, drawing on the training workshops in Autism I attended while in the USA. I also started helping other families who have children with Autism but have nowhere to turn. I realise I need more training and Malachi needs more input, but this is not available in South Africa at this time.
So I had an idea:
I asked one of Malachi’s therapists from Colorado if she would come to South Africa to work with Malachi for 5 weeks and further train me. She said yes! The catch is it will cost us $3000- or R30 000 for air fares and accommodation. She won’t charge us for the therapy. As you know in YWAM we do not earn a salary, but our income is from the generous support of people who want to be part of our missionary work.
So would you pray about giving towards bringing Heather, Malachi’s therapist, to south Africa to help us.

I really want to help Malachi. Though unspoken, I feel like being a part of those first couple months of his life, I have a commitment to look out for him. You know, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Here is an opportunity for me to help, and you as well. And the impact is far reaching. Caz will be able to help other families, and Heather, the therapist, plans on speaking at schools and other opportunities while she is there sharing about the impact of autism and the therapy techniques available. It’s a great opportunity to spread the knowledge and therapy available to children with autism to an entire region. I’ve set up a donation page on Trying to Follow and I hope you’ll prayerfully consider making a donation. Thanks.

Send Heather to South Africa! (Find out more info at this donation page, including updates and total donation amount)

Or, simply donate here:


When Personal Life Gets Crazy

As the readership of Trying to Follow has grown, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to figure out the balance or line between what I share here and information I find more personal. I think this is an ongoing struggle of our generation, and all those individuals who are embracing new technologies like blogging, texting, twitter, and more. We want an audience, but when what you write is in the public domain, and a large part of your audience is unknown, it can be difficult to know how or what to keep out of the conversation.

All that to say, I might be taking a temporary break from substantive posting. For that I do apologize. If anyone is interested in writing a guest post let me know.

We are going through some very exciting changes in my family, just not sure how to blog about it. Personal email material maybe…

So, to keep you from disappointment I leave you with this:

Estimate completion date: 2010


The Season Is About The Children

As I’ve said in the past, I’ve struggled in recent years with the Christmas season. And I’m making an effort to stay positive this year. This past Sunday I had a beautiful glimpse of what I think the season is about, or should be more about if anything.

After Thanksgiving, we had the chance to go to church with some dear friends of ours whom we lived with in Nashville who now live in Iowa. On the first Sunday of Advent they had their three children dedicated at the church they attend. They have three wonderful, beautiful free-spirited little ones whom they love.

I think typically most of the kids our in the nursery during the service, but that day they had their three kids and we had our daughter all in the service. As you can imagine they didn’t sit still and silent the whole time. During the singing, the lighting of the advent candle, the children s sermon and more, the kids wandered around and explored, smiled, said “hi” to the person behind us and grunted in frustration at times. My initial instinct was concern for being polite and respectful of those around us and making sure my daughter kept quite and out of the way.

Fortunately, the Christmas singing set me straight. I don’t know what song it was but some line about baby Jesus reminded me that we are celebrating a birth, we are celebrating a child, hope for humanity comes to us packaged in a whiney, messy, crying, smelly, wandering, giggling, antsy, tired, noisy, lovely little child.

And I was able to sit back and let the kids enjoy themselves. I think God must have smiled and cried a little as She* watched that scene unfold in Bethlehem 2000 some years ago. It brought a tear to my eye that day as I watched the kids run around, in many ways my hope for humanity is tied up in their lives.

I don’t mean that as an encouragement to shower kids with presents or take frequent trips to see Santa in the mall. I think instead we need to be reminded that what we celebrate this season is that the hope of humanity came through a child, and it is carried on through us (children who have grown to love our neighbors and raise the next generation of children to do the same). Remember, this season is about the children.

*An explanation of why I’m using female pronouns for God.

Dance Like No One’s Watching

Tonight we went to see a dance group from South Africa at a venue just down the street from our house. It was beautiful and fun, and our daughter danced and clapped and babbled right along to the music.

It was a great concert, energetic and loud, but it was in an auditorium and the majority of people simply sat and observed. I was no exception, besides moving around a little in my seat for my daughters entertainment, I basically sat through the concert. I needed inspiration, and I found it in a elderly woman a few rows in front of us.

Every so often the woman would get out of her seat and walk to the back of the small auditorium. About the third time it struck me to look back, and I saw her dancing along to the music. She wasn’t trying to make a spectacle or perform for any reason, she simply felt like dancing.

There is something powerful about being able to inspire people to dance, and there is power in being able to throw off our social hindrances and truly let ourselves enjoy and move to music. I hope my daughter saw that woman dancing and that it will reminder her she doesn’t have to stop enjoying the rhythm and feeling the freedom of the movement.

If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution!
-Emma Goldman

Happy Birthday Adyra (And Mommy!)

Momma and Adyra

One year ago today my beautiful wife, after a trying labor, gave birth to our equally beautiful baby girl. Today we celebrate their health and our happiness for a joyous first year and look forward to many, many more to come.

Adyra, I am so proud of the strong girl you are growing to be. You bring such a joy to my life and have taught me so much in our short time together. I enjoy every moment we have together and am so eager to see you grow and become the woman God intends for you to be.

Mindy, I am so happy to have the opportunity to parent next to you. When I could only stand by and encourage, you carried our daughter to full term (and yes, nine days over due), gave birth to a healthy little girl (at 9 lbs she wasn’t so little), and have nursed her to a beautiful and healthy one year old. I can’t wait for the years ahead as we stand together and raise her to be a strong and splendid woman.

Just a Random Post About Me

It occurred (or was pointed out) to me that I haven’t really posted anything just about me recently, and because there seems to have been an influx of new readers, it might be wise to say a little something, so you have an idea of who I am. I’ll be brief, but here’s a rambling random insight…

I’m 25, if you want to bother keeping track still (October 7th), but I married up; in age, style, looks, intelligence, charm, she’s way out of my league…which is why my kid is so stinking cute (and smart). I’ve been married almost five years, yeah I know, it’s nuts. Graduated high school in 2000, went to YWAM, cause, well, I didn’t want to go to college, but I wanted to change the world or something. The whole thing left we with far more questions and doubts then I came with, but I did meet my wife there. Had I been planning it I would have met her 6 years later, backpacking Europe or something, but I wasn’t in charge; which is a good thing.
Went to Wheaton College, don’t ask me how I got in or how I paid for it (starts with “m” ends with “afia”), but I did. Got bored (or antsy) after 2 years, so I got married, and we went and hung out in Atlanta for a year, doing after school programs with AmeriCorps. My wife fell in love with the city, which was good, because we were starting to think that’s where we’d be hanging out for a while. Went back to Wheaton to finish out senior year there, and then headed South to Nashville so my brilliant and beautiful (and did I mention charming) wife could become a Family Nurse Practitioner. Met, worked with, and lived with some amazing people for two years there before making a trek to our now permanent (I think) home in North Minneapolis. Oh, yeah and along the way we had a baby, she’s 9 1/2 months and stupendously incredible.

Any Questions?

This Is How It All Begins


Adbusters Magazine is awesome, this page is from their recent issue about ‘cool.’ I think they nail on the head one of my fears about raising my child in this consumeristic society with this little piece. The text at the bottom reads:

Even before your baby is born, a diaper arrives on your doorsteps, courtesy of Pampers. Once he opens his eyes, his childhood will be a whirlwind of logos and ads. School will be themed with endless commercials from sponsors. His heroes and role models will encourage him to buy products. By adolescence, he will have lost most of his original thoughts and emotions; he will look for cues from the marketers who have been with him from the beginning of his life to decide how he is to look, act and feel.

One might think this is a bit of an exaggeration, but I don’t think it is. I know my own life is telling of the influence of branding on me, and even when I try to avoid being ‘branded’ my choices are at the least affected by it (even if I’m purposefully choosing the opposite). Adbusters always gets me thinking on a different level then I generally consider. They call everything into question.

So, what is the solution for us parents and us as individuals fighting the system ourselves? Imagine a new system.
I think this quote, from another page of Adbusters issue on Cool nails it on the head…

“I want to live in a world where nothing is cool, where things actually are as they appear. That would be extraordinary. I want food and a living environment that are not part of some suit’s strategic vision. Cool has betrayed all of us. I want reality.” – Jessica Masse, Maine, USA

“Safe” Is an Interesting Word

In our recent search for a neighborhood and place to make home, the term “Safe” has been thrown around quite a bit by others. Those who say it are usually very genuine and well-intending: “Now that you have a baby, you’ll want to make sure you find a safe area of the city,” or “I’m sure you’ll be able to find a nice, safe neighborhood to purchase a home in.” I find it extremely difficult to respond to statements like these because of the layers and layers of underlying assumptions behind them. Let me try and break this down a little bit.

What do they mean by ‘safe?’
I think the most obvious is that they don’t want us living where the feature crime stories on the evening news are located. Physical safety is their obvious concern and there is certainly some validity to that. Unfortunately, our major indicator of ‘safety’ is the evening news, which tends to categorize it’s media in interesting ways, and it continually reinforces our stereotypes. First, the news covers mostly negative stories, ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ Second, the news, and people, tend to categorize in ways we understand; so a large geographic area, falls into one categorization (just like a large people group or income level). What you end up with is that ‘safe’ means living anywhere other then the area of town where the poor, and many minorities, have been isolated to.

I guess I would like to start by asking different questions, and having different concerns then ‘safety.’ Shane Claiborne touches on it well:

“People sometimes ask if we are scared of the inner city. I say that I am more scared of the suburbs. Our Jesus warns that we can fear those things which can hurt our bodies or we can fear those things which can destroy our souls, and we should be far more fearful of the latter. Those are the subtle demons of suburbia.

As my mother once told me, “Perhaps there is no more dangerous place for a Christian to be than in safety and comfort, detached from the suffering of others.” I’m scared of apathy and complacency, of detaching myself from the suffering. It’s hard to see until our 20/20 hindsight hits us—but every time we lock someone out, we lock ourselves further in.” [via]

As I am trying to follow, I think the first question in deciding where to live is to ask, “What does Christ call me to?” I think a quick reading of Scripture would make it quite clear we are not first called to physical safety. Christ himself spends time with the poor and the oppressed, the ‘desperate and dangerous’ people of his day. He lives amongst the unsafe and ‘unclean’ and he speaks out to his followers to do the same, addressing injustices along the way.

Finally, as it relates to children, there is a strong lead in the Bible to teach your children to follow the faith. The goal is not to keep your child ‘safe’ above all else, but rather to lead your child to truth. Having children does not mean you forsake your values in an effort to preserve their physical longevity, it means you hold that much more strongly to the truths and convictions that you know to be true, that you might properly serve to point them toward the truth.

A Brief Explanation

Thanks for the input everyone on my considering taking a blogging break. I figure I should give a bit of an explanation so you understand why I want to take a break (and so I can sort of figure it out myself). There’s a lot of reasons, here’s just a few…

Mostly, I’ve been trying to spend most of my waking hours with my beautiful baby in my arms, which has been good for all of us, but not good for my typing abilities.  My focus has changed quite a bit too, and I’m thinking a lot more about the baby and being a father and not so much about all the other issues that usually consume my thoughts. So, lack of time/attention is the first reason.

The second thing is that we as a family are going through some major changes (baby, parenting, jobs, moving, etc). Definitely things I want to write about, but not necessarily blog for the world.  It’s also giving me space to reconsider what activities/projects/blogs I’m giving my time to.

I’ve considered trying podcasting a bit, because it doesn’t require two hands to do. I’ve thought about doing web design as a side job. Once we move and the baby is a little bigger, I definitely plan on getting out more and getting involved in some community projects. I’d love to write a book or some other writing projects, rather then blogging, but maybe both.

Anyways, that’s enough for now. I’ll put another post up here later highlighting some of my favorite old posts on here, and maybe linking to a podcast or some other things. Alright, that’s about it.