Author Archives: Luke Ankeny

About Luke Ankeny

Encouragement for navigating life's journey together.

12.1.16 ~ Divorce

I wrote this essay several years ago, for my unfinished book, and share it today in an effort to stick within the mission of I Am Not the World’s Greatest Dad, and as I consider the ministry and service I feel God has called me to. I also share these words out of obedience, as I feel nudged by the Holy Spirit to do so.  I have added a few thoughts in parentheses, and then again at the end following the three asterisk’s.  My aim is not to offend, but rather to encourage communication in your home, and to encourage strength in your marriage.  If you would like to talk about what you read here, as always, I am available.  Just shoot me an e-mail at ntwgdad@gmail.com, or if you have another means to contact me, feel free.

 Divorce

Our family eats dinner together at a table, where we can interact with each other, every night.  Well, almost every night. There are some exceptions where one of us, usually me, can’t make it, but almost every night we find ourselves eating dinner together as a family. (Quite often we eat breakfast together too, and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you can find us fixing and making lunch together as we.)

We have found that coming together over a meal is a good way to end our day together, while we begin enjoying an evening at home.  Our dinner conversation usually includes highlights from the day, discussions on current events and a whole lot of other random topics.

When my wife, Heidi, and I got married and started having kids, there wasn’t a whole lot of discussion about whether or not we would eat dinner together as a family in one central location.  Having both grown up in families that enjoyed sharing dinner together, our eating together was an expectation and something we both desired.  The transition to marriage and family life was perhaps even made easier with knowing that we would at least be able to see each other at the end of the day around a meal.

I’m not sure what evening meals where like in Heidi’s house growing up, you could ask her if you want to and I am sure she would tell you.  I do, however, have firsthand knowledge of the dinner experience in the home I grew up in.  We almost always ate dinner together as a family around the dinner table.  Exceptions to the norm were if one of my parents had to work or be at a meeting, if there was a sport being played somewhere by one of us kids, or if there was a game on we wanted to watch, in which case we would get out the old-school metal TV trays with flowers on them and gather around the glow of the television.

The conversations around the dinner table in my house growing up varied from the events of the day, theological discussions, life lessons, friendly banter, and casual conversation.  Dinner became a place where we could talk openly about what happened in our day, and share with each other.  When I was in the third grade, for example, and the space shuttle Challenger exploded right after lift-off we came home from school and talked about it and then talked about it some more at dinner.  Talking the tragic event out helped us understand and grasp the magnitude of what had happened.

I can remember talking about other big events, and several life lessons being learned.  One such life lesson occurred towards the end of our family meal one evening.  Either my mom or my dad, probably my dad, told us there was something he and my mom wanted to discuss with us kids.  This statement was said in such a way that even now I remember knowing I better pay attention because what was going to be said next would be very important.

At that time in our town several families we knew were going through divorce. (And I say the word families here because when children are involved divorce not only impacts the husband and wife, but the children as well.)  I didn’t know a lot about divorce at the time, but I remember thinking it probably was not a good thing.  My parents felt like they needed to take the opportunity to share with us that while some people felt like divorce was an option, they did not.  They assured us they would always be married to each other, a promise they are happily still keeping.

Obviously, they didn’t need to take the time to share this insight with my brother, sister, and I, but they felt a need as parents for their children to hear about marriage and divorce from them.  I appreciate and respect my parents a great deal for taking the time to let us know they would always be married to each other, and that divorce was not an option for them.  I trusted what they said, and have never had to worry about their marriage.  There was security in what they shared, what they modeled to us every day, and in what they continue to model to us.

A few years ago at the end of one of our family dinners, my wife and I told our boys we had something to tell them. The dinner table is as good a place as any to teach our children lessons.  At the end of the meal we shared with them about marriage, about the love we have for each other, and about how divorce is not an option for us. (I will add that this conversation has happened a few more times since our initial talk.  Believe me my sons know that no matter how big of a jerk I am, mom isn’t going anywhere!)

We didn’t have to share this information with our children, but we want them to grow up knowing they don’t have to worry about whether or not mom or dad are going to split up in a world where so many couples think divorce is their only option.  The hard part lies with Heidi and me, as we have to continue working at our marriage every day, to continue working on loving each other and our kids every day, and to allow mutual love, trust, humility, and respect to be part of who we all are together. (It might be worth mentioning from a stand point of integrity and good standing with your children, that if you don’t think you can live up to the expectations of a conversation on marriage with your children, don’t have the conversation.)

There may or may not be a direct correlation between families eating together, and families staying together, but I suspect there is.  Until a survey on family dining is done that might prove otherwise, we will keep eating dinner together as a family and sharing conversations, life lessons, and other important information. I would encourage you and your family to do the same.

***

I have a couple of other thoughts to share as I end this post.

As a follower of Christ I could have shared some words from the Bible on the sanctity of marriage, but I didn’t feel led to in this particular essay.  Perhaps I will at another time.  But, you should know that in order to have integrity in what I believe I am using the Bible as my foundation when I consider marriage and this sacred institution God ordains.

In no way shape or form do I want to judge anyone as I write this, and believe me I had no particular people in mind when I wrote these words 8 or so years ago.  That’s not up to me, I don’t know your situation, and I feel like I can share my thoughts and still love folks and have relationships with them without having to be in total agreement.  In this theme, know that I care, and am here to help if any of you might need it, and that there are a lot of other people out there who care and can help as well.

I said earlier that I felt led to write this, and post these thoughts today.  I believe this desire to share these thoughts comes out of concern for marriage, family, society, culture, United States, and people scattered around the globe.  This is something I feel deeply about, and have been praying about how I might engage on this topic and other topics related to families on a more regular basis.  One of the reasons perhaps I feel led to write more and to host my podcast. God willing, people will be encouraged, and communication, and restoration (where needed) will take place.

 

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11.28.16 ~ Podcast on Gratitude, Holiday Season, and Christmas

Follow the link to this week’s podcast http://iamnottheworldsgreatestdad.podbean.com/e/gratitude-holiday-traditions-and-christmas/

 


11.19.16 ~ Time

Had a fun day yesterday and was reminded and encouraged of the need to spend quality time with our children.

After sleeping in a little bit I went and helped out at the Junior Varsity girl’s practice before heading to my practice for the 7th grade girls team I am coaching.  My middle son, who is in 8th grade and loves basketball, came with me.  Taking my children to practice, or allowing them the opportunity to be there started five years ago when I started coaching.  This isn’t unique to coaching, as I have always felt like my children should be welcome to come with me where ever I am going.

My own father was a coach, and so I grew up attending practices, on the sidelines, and sitting in the bleachers behind the bench during games.  This is how I learned a lot about sports, and I wanted the same for my sons.  Plus, especially when I’ve worked with high school athletes, I feel like it is good for my sons and the older student-athletes to be around each other.  I may not spend a lot of time with my sons when they come with me to practice, but they get to observe, they have to listen to me while they are in there, I pay attention to them when they are shooting on a side basket.  Them being there helps them learn the game.

After my practice was over I helped my youngest son with a money raising project he wanted to do.  He had something in mind he wanted to purchase and figured he could rake leaves for people to make some extra money.  He put a poster together, I hung them around town for him and put out a plug on Facebook, and yesterday afternoon we spend time together raking leaves.  We have another job to do this afternoon.

Raking and bagging up leaves is not the most exciting way to spend an afternoon together, but at least we were spending the afternoon together, and while he made some money it only cost me the price of a new rake, and a bag of lawn and leaf bags.  Thanks for carrying both of those Tolmie’s Ace Hardware.

Last year I was gifted tickets for this years men’s basketball season at The College of Idaho, and while we won’t be able to go to all of the games we have decided we will rotate through the games as time allows.  Last night, I took my middle son to the game and we had a great time.

I didn’t get to do anything special with my oldest son yesterday aside from eating lunch together and normal interaction, but tomorrow we will have opportunity to watch the NASCAR race together, and am always on the look out for opportunities to spend time with him as well.  One of the things I continue to realize is that each of my sons is unique and different from the others and so while there are some things we all like the same and can do together that each of them also have their own interests.  My responsibility is to know what those interests are and to try and spend time with them doing those things.  I don’t always shine at this, but I am growing in my awareness and understanding and try to do a better job.

Think about how you spend time with and interact with your children, are you doing all you can to connect with them in meaningful and positive ways?  If yes, great job!  If not, what more can you do?

 


Train UP A Child …

New podcasts will be added twice a month to I Am Not the World’s Greatest Dad, during the 2nd and fourth weeks of each month.  Check out the this week’s podcast at http://iamnottheworldsgreatestdad.podbean.com/

or click on the link below …

Download this episode (right click and save)


10.11.16 ~ Boys of Fall

As far as sports go football is not my favorite, but my middle son plays, I announce high school games, and I enjoy watching college and professional games on the television.

Tonight my son’s 8th grade team played in the conference championship game.  They played hard, but came up a couple of touchdowns behind in the end.

Here is what impressed me from my son after tonight’s game, and throughout the whole season.

  1. He’s a good teammate, always looking out for the guys on his team, and is just as excited for their success as he is his own.
  2. He keeps things in perspective.  He understands that getting 2nd place is quite an accomplishment, and that there is a whole lot of life that is bigger than sports.  He also understand that as an 8th grader there is a lot more games to be played.
  3. He likes the fun part of playing the game, and part of that for him is being with his friends.  I’ve seen this in other sports as well, and am more than okay with this.
  4. He works hard.  I’ve noticed this in games and practices.  Always hustling. He gets the important part about always doing your best, glorifying God in the process, and trying to become his best self.
  5. As a dad, when I watch him, I think to myself “hey, he has been listening, and he is getting it.”

The other observation I made tonight was about a student-athlete from the other team.  After the game, and after the obligatory hand shake line, and post-game team meetings, this young man went over again and congratulated all of our players and coaches and then invited them to a post-game prayer time in the middle of the field.  All the players from both teams went and knelt down in the middle of the field while this young man lead them in a time of prayer.

Major props to this young man for living his faith out in a real and tangible way among his teammates and opponents.  It appears to me that he understands what it means to love God, love yourself, and love others … even if some might think those others are the enemy.  A shout out to his parents for doing a good job of being parents.  Parma Middle School and the community of Parma should be proud of this young man.

 


9.9.16 ~ Cell Phones

I know there are laws against driving and texting or driving and talking on our cell phones but for some reason we all still drive and talk, or drive and text anyway.

I see people doing this all the time when I am driving down the road in my 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan.  I know, I know, the definition of cool.  I want to honk at these people when I see them just to bring their attention back to the road, but my horn doesn’t work.

I should honk at myself.  I’m going to be honest.  I drive and text sometimes.  I drive and talk on my cell phone sometimes.  I am not in the habit of practicing these things on a regular basis, but on occasion I indulge.  If a person calls me when I’m driving I rarely pick up, that’s what voice mail is for.  If they text, I might read it and sometimes I respond.

But, I’m stopping.  I can’t do it anymore.  I am stopping for several reasons, all of which relate to my safety and the safety of others.  So, if you call or text me when I am driving I’m not being rude, I’m just trying to be a safe member of society while driving 65 down the highway.

The other day I observed a mom driving her kids down the road to somewhere and probably to nowhere in particular.  While she drove she was talking on her phone at the same time.  For some reason as I observed this 65 mile per hour phone call with kids in the car, something I have witnessed countless times before, I was overwhelmed with a sense of urgency to stop texting and driving and cell phone talking and driving and to encourage others to stop as well.

Parents, if for no other reason, please stop these habits for the safety of your children.  We are putting them in harm’s way for a conversation that more than likely is not an emergency.  I know we can all multi-task when we drive, but I’m wondering if our multi-tasking skills are worth it.  Except of course for drinking coffee and driving, keep doing that, we have to stay awake on the road!

Other reasons?

We might want to try and be good law abiding citizens.  Our budgets don’t take a hit either if or when we happen to get a ticket.

We need to be safe on the road.  I’ve almost been hit a few times when running, riding my bike, or driving my van by somebody not paying attention because they are glued to a screen or yakking away about The Bachelor or some other important life details.

I can’t talk on my cell phone and drive, or text and drive anymore, and I haven’t even brought up spending time on social media while we drive down the road.  Please don’t post selfies while you are driving.

I’m not asking you to give these habits up, but I am asking you to consider giving them up.  Please do this for your children, for other people’s children, and for the rest of humanity.  If a horse is your current mode of transportation, I think you are safe to talk and ride, and text and ride as long as you are not in a gallop.


7.30.16 ~ Dunking When I’m 40

I’m 39, but my mind still thinks I’m 18 and because of this conflict I try to do things I shouldn’t do.

A couple of years ago at a track meet there was a coaches relay and our head coach, my wife, talked me in to running the relay with her.  It was supposed to be a 4 X 50 meter relay, but because only two of our coaches were running we were able to run a 2 X 100.  I pulled my hamstring, which is what I always did when I was younger, but for different reasons this time … mainly my being out of shape.  My mind still thought I should be good to go, my body said otherwise.

A few years ago I set the goal of being able to dunk a basketball on my 40th birthday, and besides the occasional dunk attempt when I’m in the gym I haven’t put a whole lot of time in preparing my body for this goal.  Again, my mind thinks I’m 18 and I should just be able to walk out there and throw down a nice dunk.  Every once and awhile I get lucky and can throw down a one handed old man dunk, but most of the time I simply get rim checked. Probably something I shouldn’t even be attempting.

Part of this goal is the continued reality of needing to take care of myself through diet and exercise.  In the last couple of years I’ve been into distance running having completed a couple of half-marathons and the occasional 5k or 10k fun run.  Just over a year ago I weighed 40 pounds more than I do now, and my weight has been controlled pretty much by a lifestyle change in our eating habits.  I have my wife to thank for that.

I feel a whole lot better, am healthier, and I look at food a lot differently than I used to.  The message here for us as parents is to take care of ourselves.  To take care of ourselves so we can be healthy enough to spend quality time with our children; to ride bikes around town, to race them when they challenge, to play them one on one in basketball, and to simply model for them a healthy lifestyle.

My goal of dunking at 40 is becoming more of a reality now that my 40th birthday is 6 months away, and while I haven’t done hardly anything in the last 15 years to ensure the reality of this goal yesterday I decided it was time.  I’m going to start running again, not sprinting, to help stay in shape and keep a decent cardio foundation.  I ran a half marathon in March, and I haven’t done a whole lot of running since.  I also decided I would start lifting weights again, both upper and lower body.  I haven’t really lifted weights since I was 22 years old when I finished playing college basketball.  There have been a few seasons of periodically lifting weights over the last 17 years but nothing was sustained, and nothing that would have helped me dunk at age 40.

I doubt I’ll strap on the Jump Soles again, although I wouldn’t put it past me if I could find a pair, but I’ll see what I can do with weights and plyometrics to get my quick twitch muscles in shape.  If nothing else, even if I can’t dunk on my 40th birthday I’ll be in better shape in 6 months, and that is what I am really after anyway.  Maintaining my health for me, for my wife, and for my sons is the ultimate goal here.  Who knows maybe after I relive the glory days with my dunking antics, I’ll set my sights on of my other physical goals of running a marathon.

Parents, and anyone else reading this, I encourage you today to be healthy and active.  There’s a little bit of sacrifice and self-discipline involved, but it’s really not that hard.  In fact the hardest part might be getting started.  Here are a few tips that might help get you on your way.

1) Start slow.  Don’t have to tackle everything all at once.  Start slow and work your way up.

2) Find a training partner.  Find someone you can train with, set goals together, and hold each other accountable to work out.

3) Find a professional to help.  Personal trainers, and Nutritional Therapy Practitioners like my wife are here to help and they want to help.  Use them.

4) Put something on the calendar.  When I have a race on the calendar, I train.  When I don’t have anything on the calendar, I don’t train.  Put something on the calendar and work towards that goal.

5) Set goals.  Like the last point set a goal and work towards it.  Weight loss, dunking the basketball, and any other number of goals are legit as they as we can own them and they motivate us to work towards them.

6) Be consistent.  Consistency is huge in health and fitness.  Having said that, there will be times when we make mistakes or aren’t as consistent as we need to be.  Don’t beat yourself up during these times of inconsistency, just refocus and get back to work.

7) Have fun.  This might be the most important.


7.21.2016

The family left on a trip today to visit my in-laws in Oregon.

One evening without them being here and I am already feeling lonely.

I’ve reflected on this a bit this evening while I’ve spent some time working on my book (yes, I’m still working on my book … it is more finished than I thought too).

Actually, working on my book is my main project while they are gone.  I was going to do some painting and trim work in our guest house/office, but I think I will hold off on carpentry work to maybe/possibly get the book close to a place of getting edited and published.

Back to my reflections.

For an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert (depending on the day) I don’t like being completely by myself all of the time.  During the day I spend a good amount of time by myself and so when I come home I am used to people being here.

Growing up as a kid there were always people in the house.

In college there was always people around in the dorms, houses, and apartments I lived in.

I got married when I was 21, and our first son was born when I was 23.

There have always been people around and although I like my quiet, I like my people too!

The week will be good though.  They will have a great time at Grandma and Grandpa’s, and I will get a great deal done.

Sometimes we might need breaks from each other, like this, to really appreciate the time we do get to spend together.

 


6.28.2016 ~ Time

The other day I had to run some errands in town and when I asked if anyone wanted to go with me, my youngest son suggested that he would.

Our stops were uneventful, our conversation was good, we learned a few things along the way, and we almost found everything we needed.

Upon getting back home I said simply, “Thanks for coming with me buddy.”

To which he quickly replied, “Thanks for letting me!”

At dinner that evening we went through our highs for the day.  His and mine were the same, running errands together in town.

We are in the custom and habit of eating dinner together as a family, and actually right now we have been eating all of our meals together as a family.  One of the things we do on a regular basis when we sit down to an evening meal is to go over the high lights of our day.  Family members aren’t forced to share, but it is definitely encouraged.  We usually don’t need help with conversation around the table but sometimes checking in with each other at the end of the day, especially when life is busy, is a good place to connect with one another.

As I thought about my son’s response of “thanks for letting me” and his high light being the same as mine I spend some time reflecting on how important it is for us to spend time with our children, and how really our time is all they really want from us.  At least at the age and stage of life my youngest is in.

He says he hates going more than a day without seeing or talking to his parents.  This can happen when we travel our work gets us out the door early and home late, so we have to do a good job of connecting when we can.  Technology helps with this, as does impromptu car rides to run errands.  Once in a busy season I stopped by his school and got him out of class just so we could see each other.

This is also the kind who when he was a toddler would run and pick up a phone to say hi whenever my name was said.  I was gone a lot for work, and talking on the phone was one of the ways I could connect with my sons.  I didn’t keep that job very long.

My encouragement to parents today is to spend time with your children, even if you have to postpone doing something important.


6.27.16 ~ Simple Fun

I think sometimes we try too hard to make fun for our children, when some of the simpler things in life are the most pleasurable and entertaining.

I’ve been trying to do a better job enjoying the simple rhythms of life and teaching my sons to do the same.  Perhaps, we learn to appreciate life a little more, and that we don’t have to search very hard or far for a good time.

I’ve spoken of family bike rides in a recent post, and they continue to be enjoyable.  Family bike rides have proved to be a simple fun thing to do in the rhythms of life.  Why not take 15-30 minutes for a short cruise around your community?

There are other things we have been enjoying this summer: playing the card game UNO, going to the lake, learning card tricks, camping in the back yard, fires in the fire pit, and jumping on the trampoline.

The other day we had a yard sale at our house, and will have another one this Saturday at my parent’s house, because they have a better location and we still have some things to get rid of.  We had fun as a family, collecting our un-used and un-needed items, preparing the sale, and being together during the sale.

One of the items in the sale was an AB Lounge Sport my folks had dropped off for us to try to unload for them.  We didn’t sell it, but at the end of the day we had fun using it as our prop for making spoof advertisements for the AB Lounge Sport.  One of the videos even got posted to You Tube, although I currently have it set to private. I am still trying to decide if I want others to view my attempts at sketch comedy, probably not.  Regardless, making the videos was a fun and simple thing to do with my sons.

During and after the yard sale my youngest son and I also had fun together implementing an idea he had on how to make a seat and foot rest for his scooter.  He did the bulk of the work and then I helped him fasten it to the scooter.  As soon as we were finished he went for a ride, and he has been riding it around the patio and roads ever since.  A simple thing, with hours of fun attached to it.

Let’s not try too hard to make life fun, but let’s remember there are fun things that can and do happen in the normal rhythms of life.  We just have to remember to stop and take time to see them, and experience them.  There our several advantages, laughter being one of them, but I think the quality time spent with our children and as a family is the most important.  Relationship time is always good time.