On Digital Photography and Other Things

Lately, I’ve been taking a cue from the tenants at the property I manage.  After a long day of working in the fields they come home and sit outside.  Sometimes they visit with others, and sometimes they just sit there by themselves. 

 I started doing this more often as a way to just relax and have some quiet time.  I call it “the art of sitting outside,” and think this art is something we all need to practice on a regular basis.  I just came inside from some time at the patio table on this wonderful Southern Idaho evening, and my time outside was delightful.

 As some of you know, and may have grown tired of me saying it, I’ve been writing a book on and off for the last fourteen years or so.  Since this project has spanned over fourteen years, I would strongly argue more off than on has happened in the writing practice.  For a variety of reasons one of my current goals is to finish the book soon and self-publish it.  So, in about 10 years I should have it done!

 Last night I spent a couple of hours doing some good work on this project and realized over the years I have written way too many musings for one book, and some essays that just aren’t book worthy … not yet anyway.  In an effort to thin and improve I thought I would tweak some of them and use them for my podcast I’m planning on starting back up or adapt them for this blog/web-page.

 Here are some thoughts I first wrote in 2006 and have modified over the years.

 Honestly, in some situations, I would love to return to simpler times.  The advances in camera and phone technology are truly amazing, but every now and them I prefer the simplicity of loading a roll of 35 mm film into a camera and talking on a rotary phone.  With photography, I use to love finishing up a roll of film, taking the film to be developed into photographs, and then taking those photographs home and looking through them to remember good and maybe not so good times.

 Shortly after the year 2000 (sing “in the year 2000” from the old Conon O’Brian show), we could have even received the gift in the year 2000, Heidi and I were given a digital camera for Christmas, our first, and we were so excited about our new Fuji and being able to take and store photographs digitally.  As you already know, since we are already 18 years removed from the year 2000 (again Conon O’ Brian), one of the great features, among many, of digital cameras is how many pictures you can take and store.  Storing a countless number of pictures on the camera, on a smart phone, on a computer, somewhere in a cloud, or some other option I haven’t mentioned.  The digital pictures, like any other pictures are fun to look at and because of the technology we now possess we are able to post them on-line in a matter of seconds and share our lives in pictures with friends and family through e-mail, and social media sites.

 One of the problems with digital photography and digital cameras and smart phones, at least when the people owning them are poor, is the pictures stay in digital form and are rarely printed off.  I know digital pictures can be printed off and made to look like a regular old photography by when there isn’t a lot of extra money in the budget, like when Heidi and I first got our camera, the 1000’s of pictures you take stay on the computer and are soon forgotten about and only occasionally viewed.  (I realize some of these thoughts might be outdated in a world of Snap-Face when the goal is for the picture to disappear, or Insta-Crap where the goal of making sure everyone knows how you look 100 times a day from an arm length away, but they are still a reality for me, and they make the story flow.)

 I sat down at my desk at work one morning 14 or so years ago and I pushed the power button on my computer only to have nothing happen.  My computer, like my dad van most of the time, wouldn’t turn on and our technology support person confirmed my worst fear, the computer’s hard drive was friend and none of the files on it could be retrieved.  Immediately I thought about all of the files that had been lost because I failed to back them up and was devastated as I remembered all of our family pictures I had been storing on the computer until we got a computer at home to transfer them to.  I felt especially horrible because there were a lot of pictures on the computer from when our middle son Jacob was born, and now we didn’t have them anymore. No Bueno.

 After this incident I attempted to be more diligent in backing up files to avoid this disaster again.  Unfortunately, I fell back into my lazy habits and as life got busy I had backed up some files but not all of them when we had one of our computers crash again.  Luckily, some of the files were able to be saved but we were not able to salvage all of them.  Unfortunately, once again most of the pictures we lost were of Jacob our middle son and some of his major life moments. 

 Again, as before, I was devastated and felt horrible for a few days until I was reminded I got to see my son every day and could probably scrounge up some pictures from family members.  I also figured when he got older I could just tell him like some conservative Anabaptist groups there were a few years we didn’t believe in taking photos for religious reasons. 

 The funny thing is, now all of our digital photos are backed up, either on a jump drive or a cloud-based storage space, and I hardly ever look at them.  I look at the pictures we have taken and printed off and have around the house, but rarely do I go and look at pictures taken years ago.  Kind of like how I treat the old videos we recorded with the boys where little.

 While the moral of this story was supposed to encourage you to make sure you back up your digital photographs, there are some other lessons we can learn here. 

 1) Enjoy the moment.  We don’t have to capture everything with our phones or cameras, sometimes it is just good to soak everything in and really experience the moment.  I’m afraid we miss out on a whole bunch when we are trying to capture everything for later or to post online, instead of living in the moment.

2) I hardly ever look at the pictures we have captured over the years, the ones we still have, but I have so many great memories and pictures in my head that I can relive.  I know for me remembering is a good way to connect with the past, while am living in the future.

 3) Don’t just take pictures, look at them too.  When you look at them, tell the stories of what was going on.  I have a picture of my first-grade birthday to remind me of who was there that day to help me celebrate but looking at that photograph also reminds me of all the fun I had.  The cool thing is I see some of those same guys every once and awhile in person or on social media.

4) Be grateful for what we do have, instead of lamenting about what we don’t have.

My Old Man Taught Me How to Trap Gophers

gopher-moundTo be clear, I never refer to my dad as “my old man,” opting instead for the more commonly used “my dad” when referencing my father.  I chose to go with “my old man” for the title of this post only because I thought these three simple words would garner more attention in title form than “my dad” would have.  I have nothing against people who refer to their father as “my old man,” or any other title for that matter.  To each, his or her own.

 I apologize for getting a bit side tracked there.  Getting side tracked happens often when I am speaking to someone as a random thought that loosely connects to what I am talking about enters my brain, and my filter doesn’t work fast enough to stop the random thought from exiting my mouth.  I guess the same thing can happen when I am writing, must be a communication issue. 

 We just moved into a rental home that rests half a mile down a dirt lane on the banks of the Snake River.  The property the house sits on belongs to a farmer, and while we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of crops we only get to help maintain five of them.  At this point those 5 acres include the house, lawn, more trees than I can count, and several acres of over grown pasture.  This property is a quiet and restful place, and it is just what are family needs at this moment in time.  (More on that in future posts and podcasts.)

 We also inherited several resident gophers which leads me back to the title and my dad.  When I was a child, growing up on our 40-acre farm, I learned how to trap gophers.  My dad taught me how.  I learned how to kick down the older gopher mounds we wouldn’t be needing after locating the freshest mound.  I learned how to read the fresh gopher mound to decipher where the hole might be so I would know where to start digging.  Once I dug I learned how to fill around the earth to find the hole, if it wasn’t already visible, and I learned how to clean out the hole to prepare it for a trap.

 Once the digging and hole preparation was done I would set the box trap, my preferred trap of choice, and move on from there waiting, and returning daily to see if a gopher had been caught.  We used other methods of gopher trapping, such as gassing them or flooding them out of their holes, but I always appreciated the box trap.

 After being on our new property a few days and noticing there were gophers we needed to take care of Samuel, my oldest son, and I went to Tolmie’s, the local Ace hardware store and purchased two Bower’s Gopher Traps made in Marsing, Idaho.  After getting the traps home I taught my boys how to flatten the gopher mounds we weren’t going to use by kicking them, and to look for where the hole might be on the freshest mound.  As I dug into the ground and deposited a spade full of earth next the mound I got down and showed them how to feel for and find the gopher hole.  Our next step was of course to clean out the hole, set the trap, and put the trap in the hole.

 So far, we have set three traps, and we have caught three gophers.  Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t set a gopher trap in over 20 years.  We even found a post to put the dead gophers on for the resident birds of prey to enjoy. 

 As I was putting an empty trap away one evening after another successful kill and disposal I started thinking about how and when I learned to trap gophers with my dad.  Then I started thinking about how as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children useful skills they will be able to use in the present and well into the future.  When I learned how to trap gophers I wasn’t thinking about how I might someday pass that skill on to my own children, I was just excited to learn a new skill.  Today, I am glad I paid attention so I could pass a new skill on to my sons. 

 Perhaps my recent gopher killing spree is a good reminder for all of us to take the time we need to pass on skills and other useful things to our children.  I’m reminded that so much of what our children need to know in life comes from us, their caretakers, their guardians, their parents.  Let’s make sure and remember to do our best in passing useful skills along, as we seek to enhance our children’s learning and knowledge and in the process make the world a better place.

Stepping Up

Several times I’ve shared a sentiment that I worry about societies who don’t pay attention to their elderly and young people.  At times I feel like those are two overlooked age groups in the United States, and while I’m not up to speed on the happenings in other countries I wonder if this trend might be the same in places that are foreign to me but not to the people who live there.

Last week I went to a dinner at a restaurant operated as a place for seniors, disabled, and veterans to get a decent meal for a donation, including operating Meals-On-Wheels out of the restaurant kitchen, and  everyone else to pay full price.  I don’t mind paying full price, knowing the place is not for profit, and the income goes towards helping others eat.  It is good to know there are other people willing to do the same.  Check out “The Sandbar Restaurant with a Cause” in Marsing, Idaho to get a good meal and to help a good cause.

When adults get to involved in their own “stuff” I worry about the children and youth in their direct influence.  I worry because I’ve seen what happens to the young people.  I guess on the bright side those young people tend to seek out people to give them attention.  Sometimes those people are adults, and other times they are their peers.

My encouragement is for all of us adults who have some type of influence in the lives of young people because we are parents, or because we have opportunities through calling, work, and life to interact with young people, is to continue to step up and pay attention to what is going on in their lives.  Build relationships.  Let them know you are their for them, and then show it.  Even correct their grammar if necessary and teach them when to correctly use there instead of their.  We can’t always rely on English teachers.

Our young people need us.  They need guidance.  They need wisdom.  They need boundaries.  They need good examples.  They need adults in their life who care about them.  They need to be loved.  They need adults to be adults.  They need role models they can spend time with and learn from.  They need us to be honest.  They need us to be ourselves.  They need us to be healthy.

Our young people need us.

Are you willing to be present in the lives of the young people in your direct sphere of influence?718070ec-bd3c-47a7-9fe3-cd0ef9e976cf


Podcast 2.2 ~ 17 Years and Counting

Episode 2 of my inconsistent Season 2 hosted over at www.iamnottheworldsgreatesdad.podbean.com

You can click here to listen


9.10.17 ~ A Post on Sharing Faith

My faith is important to me and naturally, is something I want to share with others, including my sons.  I am careful and prayerful in my approach, and trust in God’s love for and pursuit of my sons.

As a follower of Christ and as a minister my desire is for my sons to have an intimate relationship with Jesus.  Their own faith, not mine.  My other desire is that I won’t mess them up too much in my endeavors.

During a conversation today, the topic of pastor’s kids who struggle in life or walk away from the faith came up.  I’m aware of this reality and because I am aware of this reality I have made some decisions, right or wrong, for my family.  I also understand full well that I cannot force my faith on to my children, but I can do my best at following Christ, journey with my sons, and point them to God.

Here are some of the decisions I have made that may or may not help guide the faith of my children.

1) While some “church” activities are optional, worship is not.  We attend worship together as a family, and my prayer is that in this setting they will commune with Christ and experience the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit.  I hope this time will deepen their interest and relationship in Christ.  In worship my sons have always participated as members of the congregation.  No technology to entertain them.  We have always had the expectation that they needed to experience worship in their own way, within their ability, and with their giftedness.

2) Some other “church” activities are optional.

3) We pray together as a family.  We pray at meals.  We pray at bedtime.  We pray at other times as prayer is needed.

4) We have lots of conversations about faith and following Jesus.  In these conversations Heidi, my wife and I, try to be as real, open, and authentic as we can be.  We share what we believe, we share why, we share our struggles, we include Scripture, we share our experiences, and we share our hopes and dreams.

5) We make Bible’s available to our sons.  They all have one.  They all know how to read.

6) I pray for my sons.  I haven’t read a lot of parenting books, but one of them I read had to do with the importance of parent’s praying for their children.  Praying for your children is important.

7) The other parenting book I read had something to do with the importance of and ways to worship at home.  This is important as well and we have done this by singing songs, reading stories, reading the Bible, praying, and having conversations.

8) We involve them in opportunities to reach out and minister to others.  One of the best ways to teach our children to love and follow our faith, in my case a relationship with Jesus Christ, is to engage them in reaching out to others.  When we do this, with our sons engaged in the ministry endeavor with us, we have opportunity share our reasons for helping others as followers of Jesus.

There might be other things, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment.  Some of the rest may just happen during the normal routine of life.

Speaking of routine, my oldest son Samuel likes routine.  The label is “Autism Spectrum,” and like all of us Samuel is a unique child of God who has a story to live out and important things to share with the rest of us.  Anyway, Samuel likes routine.  After worship on Sunday, Samuel rides home with me.  Heidi, and the other two boys head home, and Samuel helps me lock up the church building.  He gets the lights, I lock the doors, and then we head out to my SUV (Semi-Useful Van) for the ride home.  Sometimes, like today, we have other jobs to do, and he helps me with those as well.  Today we changed the church sign before we went home.

Once we get in the SUV our routine continues.  We get in and buckle up, I turn the car on and back up into the main section of the parking lot, and Samuel turns on the radio and adjusts the setting to his favorite Country Music station 92.3 FM.  Then I put the gas pedal through the floor and we make the gravel and dust fly as we leave the parking lot of the church building.  I don’t know if he feels the same way, but this ritual is one of the highlights of my week.

At the moment, these things work for us.  Some have been in existence for a while and some have changed over time.  As parents, raising the children God entrusted to our care, we trust that God is helping us along the way, and will guide us to make changes in our approach when change is necessary.  For now, we carry on, and I encourage you to do the same.


I don’t take a lot of pictures with a camera or on my phone.  I take pictures with my mind instead, trying to capture moments throughout my life and then convert them to memory so I can look at them from time to time.  Unlike “real” pictures nobody else will ever see these pictures in my mind, unless of course I describe these mental images to them.

I read an article once about a lady who attended a ceremony at her daughter’s school, and no phones or cameras were allowed.  The administrators just wanted folks to focus on their children and enjoy the moment.  I like to do that with life.  Although I did stop and take a picture of the funnel cloud that developed as a farmer was burning off a wheat field on the way home from work today.

I observe and take mental notes, and then spend time reflecting on what I have observed.  Sometimes I share my reflections through written or vocal communication, and at other times I keep my reflections to myself.  It all depends on who the message is for.  Is the message just for me, or am I to share it with others?  I like to share with others, because I feel like I have been called to share my perspective on life.  Sharing my observations, reflections, and thoughts is part of my story … a story that I continue to figure out how best to tell.

On Sunday mornings I get to do this during worship as I prepare and share sermons, and I hopeful that I can continue to do so in the midst of conversation, through writing, and also, through podcasting.  My new goal for this blog is two written posts, and two podcasts a month.  I’m also in the lengthy process of editing and rewriting the first/second draft of a book I started 15 years ago and never had the confidence to finish.

The mental pictures in my head today are from the camping trip I took over the weekend with my family.  Heidi, the boys and I were joined by my parents, my sister, and my brother and his two kids.  Our time was spent in the Idaho wilderness near Stanley, Idaho.  Our camp ground was on the banks of the Salmon River aka The River of No Return.  We spent some time at Red Fish Lake as well, a family favorite since before I was even born.

The mental pictures that stand out to me are of the times we spend on the river fishing.  I was fished with my dad, sons, brother, and sister.  I even spend some time fishing by myself.  I noticed that in my first 10 minutes of fishing I was completely calm, relaxed, and at rest.  Fishing, evidently, is good for my soul.  I made a mental note to make sure I spent more time fishing.

There’s a saying that starts out “teach a man to fish” and while I know what the rest of that quote says, I think the “teach a man to fish” part is sufficient, because that phrase holds a lot of truths.  “Teach a man/woman to fish” and … they will be taught patience … relationships will grow stronger … time will be well spent … they will experience an adrenaline rush … be closer to God … they will have something to pass on to their children … fish will be caught … lures will be lost.

My dad taught me how to fish, and together we continue to teach my sons how to fish.  When it comes to fishing I get a lot of my advice from “A River Runs Through It” and know that there is a time to teach and that there is a time for my boys to be left on their own to experience and be creative in the learning process.  That’s how I learned, and that is how they are learning.

Of course this is true in other areas of life as well, as we as parents (grandparents) are charged with the daunting task of raising our children up in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it.  So … we teach … and our children learn, and part of this process is allowing our children the space to make mistakes, try things out on their own, be creative, and practice away from our shadow and watch.  There is lots of time for instruction, but our children also have to have time to learn on their own.   As parents we are guides … let’s point our children down the right path … a path that may or may not involve fishing.


Riding in Cars With Kids

Here’s one for you.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine who also happens to be a driver’s education instructor.  As we engaged in an informative conversation I learned that technology in automobiles … screens, phones, gaming devices, etc … are a detriment to young people learning how to drive.

No sense of direction.

Don’t know how to get anywhere.

Don’t understand the basic rules of the road.

She instructs her students to put their phones away when they are riding with their parents (during Driver’s Education), just so they will observe and gain a little bit more knowledge and information about driving.

This is sad to me, on many levels.

Car time can be a good place for family bonding, car time doesn’t have to be screen time.

(I wonder if ingrained screen/technology time in a vehicle while a younger riding passenger, makes one more apt to want to check their phone/device while driving?)

We are allowing children and youth to miss out on an opportunity to learn and grow as individuals.  How to navigate to a certain place.  Get the atlas out (yes put the GPS away) and let the kids in the car navigate.  Who lives where.  What the scenery looks like.  How an automobile works. All kinds of things to learn.

What is wrong with staring out the window or playing games on long road trips? (Nothing is the answer.  Nothing is wrong with either of these, and I believe children and young people develop better because of the ability to sit still and stare out a window, or play the license plate game.)

Communication and relationships.  Both can happen in a car.  Both are very important.

I want to encourage you as parents to figure out how to teach your children, and interact with your children while you are in the car with them.  Don’t allow them to stare at screens as you motor down the road to destinations known and possibly unknown.

Parent up.




4.3.2017 ~ I’m Writing Again

I’m writing again.  I haven’t ever really stopped, I just don’t post a lot on here, and I go long periods without ever typing anything into the computer.  A lot of my writing is strictly done in my head.  Doesn’t pay the bills, but provides an interesting narrative and ongoing dialogue through out the day.

Lately, I’ve been working on the book I started over 10 years ago. I haven’t really looked at what I had typed or felt led to finish the book the last five years, but am closer to getting this book done.  Just need to shore up my confidence, finish a couple of chapters, finish editing, raise/earn some money, and self-publish this thing.  I honestly had forgotten how much of the book I had completed until a week ago when I printed off every document under the “NTWGD” file folder.  I’ve enjoyed reading the thoughts that poured out of me many years ago, and am hopeful others will enjoy reading my thoughts as well.  Here’s to hoping and trusting I remain diligent in my pursuit!

In the mean time, my new goal is to post pertinent thoughts on here once or twice a week, and to use Facebook and Twitter to encourage parents and their off spring.

I had a revelation of sorts yesterday as I was considering why something was bothering me so much.  In the process of praying through and discerning why I was feeling what I was feeling I realized that it was because I value family time so much and don’t like it when other things or people threaten my time with my family.

A couple of days ago I wrote about the trip I took this past Saturday to Boise with my boys, while Heidi was out of town.  At the training Heidi was at she was sharing about how our boys talk to us and like spending time with us, and many of the other people seemed shocked that teenage and one preteen-age son would still like to hang out with their parents.  They called it good parenting, and Heidi told them what I often remind people is that we really don’t have any idea what we are doing.  We just like spending time with our sons, (spending time with them is one of the reasons we had them), and are thankful they enjoy spending time with us as well.

There are things in the world in which we live wanting to distract us from spending quality time with our families, and I’m here to encourage you to not let those things distract you.  Set family time as a priority, set standards you won’t sway from, and keep spending time together as a family.  I’m convinced the more we do this the better off our children will be, our families will be, our communities will be, our nations will be, and our world will be.  Let’s all do our part by spending time together as families.

4.1.2017 ~ A Day With the Boys

I’m thankful that my boys still like spending time with me.  The sentence I just wrote does not do justice to the gratefulness I feel inside me right now as I consider how blessed I am to be the father of my three sons.

Today was the last Saturday of Spring Break and since we hadn’t done anything all week, I knew we needed to get out of the house and do something fun.  We didn’t do anything spectacular, but we had a good time together.

We were simply okay with just being.

Shoe shopping. Check.

Chipotle. Lunch was good.

MK Nature Center. Awesome time.

Old Idaho State Penitentiary. Creepy and a good life lesson for my boys to never break the law.

Ann Morrison Park. Frisbee. Whiffle Ball. Fantastic.

In all these things, the most important part was simply being together.

I am convinced that as families we need more time set aside for days like this.  Simple. Together. Just being with each other.

It is what my soul needed today.

I’m reminded of the reality in our world that there are so many things  after our time and attention.  We are pulled in so many directions.  This isn’t a good trend, and in my most humble opinion our families are suffering because of this reality.

I think some re-evaluation as a society needs to happen.  I know, lofty goals.  I’m starting with my family though and my circle of influence.

There are things getting in the way of family time I am not sharing about because I am still formulating my thoughts.  Another post perhaps.  For now, think through your schedule and consider what needs to change in order for more frequent family time to occur.

I’m grateful for today, and that my boys like spending time with me.

3.20.2017 ~ Riding In Cars

Zoe, my black lab, is nine years old and has always enjoyed riding in cars. Several years ago I started taking her for rides in the van if I had to run to the store, or some other place at night.  I just have to ask, “Do you want to go for a ride?” and she excitedly runs to the van or the SUV for a quick trip.  I enjoy the time with her.

The other night I had to run to the store to get something and my youngest son asked if he could ride along with me.  “I like going places with you,” he said to me as we left the house.  Zoe was outside so we invited her to ride along with us.  Of course she took us up on the opportunity. The three of us rode in the dark SUV the four short blocks to the store and back.  I don’t remember all of what we talked about, but I did enjoy the time with my youngest son.

Sometimes the simple things in life are the most meaningful and important, and in the midst of busyness are the most necessary.  Sometimes it takes riding in a car with my dog and my young son to remind me of the importance of slowing down and appreciating the simpler things in life.  I am always happy for the reminder.

Today, our time together took on a different form as son number three and I took off on our bikes after worship for a ride around town.  We rode down by the fast and nearly over flowing river, before pretending we were planes on the runway of our small town airport and returning home.  Zoe was waiting outside for us when we got home, as she is too big for me to carry on my bike.