Category Archives: Family Strategies

Inspiring Confidence in Our Daughters – #LikeAGirl


You run like a girl. You fight like a girl.

Why do we make statements like this?

How does puberty change a girl’s confidence?

For more on Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign, click here.


Science of Raising Happy Kids

From Happify


The Secrets of Happy Couples


Goofiness, Baseball and the Magic Chair




Dads, do you have a chair in front of the TV that your kids don’t dare sit in?

I spent Monday through Wednesday going through basic chaplaincy training with the Colorado State Patrol in preparation for my new role as a volunteer police chaplain with Edgewater Police. Police officers have unique stress that can have a destructive role on themselves and their families. One of the ways they cope with this stress is zoning out in their “magic chair” and tuning out what is happening around them.

I don’t think this is unique to police. I do it. Just last night Hillary bravely told me to turn off the World Series and be present with our girls.

And boy was it worth it last night.

We found out that Apple’s GarageBand app for the iPad is free and we had a family jam session on our iPads. Then we found out that there is a vocal recording part of the app that allows you to record your voice and then make it sound like a chipmunk or a monster.

The sounds that we made together were hysterical. At one point I thought Norah was going to wet her pants she was laughing so hard.

All it took was me getting out of my “magic chair” and engaging with my family.

Family Time with Buck Denver and Ponies

Parenting pastor’s kids is not easy. I was once a pastor’s kid. We knew everything or at least we thought we did. We could answer any Sunday School question even the ones whose answer wasn’t Jesus.

Now I am a parent and a pastor and therefore, my children are the dreaded PKs.

For the last few years, Hillary and I have decided that “Family Time” is one of our sacred traditions. Family Time is a once a week event at the Newton house that involves some sort of spiritual emphasis through an activity or story.

Thanks to the US Government we received a bit more cash into our bank account so we decided to invest in a great tool for our weekly Family Time. We purchased the set of DVDs from What’s in the Bible.

What’s in the Bible is a DVD series from the creative mind of Phil Vischer of Veggie Tales fame. Each DVD comes with two 25 minute sessions that expertly navigates through the stories and big themes of the Bible starting in Genesis. Hillary and I are amazed at the theological depth of the content and yet how it simplifies it for children. And it’s funny! We also like how each DVD comes with a set of questions to ask the kids after each session.

So now we have ten DVDs with 20 sessions that we are going to stretch over the next 20 weeks. And What’s in the Bible is only to the Gospels so there are more DVDs coming over the next few years.

Check out more from What’s in the Bible here and find out who Buck Denver is and why ponies make an entrance into the series. This is a great tool investing spiritually in our children.

Below is the first five minutes of DVD 1 to give you a taste.

Doing Justice: Education and the Cycle of Poverty

Yesterday I wrote a guest post over at Ed Cyzewski’s blog “In a Mirror Dimly” on our experiences so far in Edgewater. Ed was a classmate of mine at Taylor University and we’ve stayed in touch since then. He has some great insights on theology, parenthood and writing.

You can read the post here.

Overprotectiveness and Holding Our Kids Back

As you might know already, parenting daughters has taught me a lot about trust. Letting my daughters go is one of the hardest thing for me to do and they aren’t even teenagers yet. Now that both our daughters are in elementary school, I have even more opportunities to trust.

Recently, I have been driving to work in the mornings so I drive our daughters to school instead of walking them to school. Norah, our kindergardner really likes to have me drop them off in the circle drive instead of parking and walking them to their classroom door. I enjoy waiting with Norah and the other kids for the teacher to open the door and let them into class. Other parents wait outside with their kids as well.

For the past couple of days, I have put aside my trust issues and overprotectiveness, and dropped the girls off in the circle drive in front of the school. I can’t even look in the rearview mirror at “little” Norah walks to her classroom. It’s too hard for me right now. I admit it. I’m a sappy dad.

But I know that by dropping Norah off and letting her walk to her classroom, she is learning responsibility and starting the process of becoming an independent woman. It is better for her development even though it is hard for me.

How do we as parents stifle our child’s growth because of our own insecurities and trust issues?

For more on overprotectiveness, responsibility and letting our kids fail, read this great article from the Atlantic.

Gifts of Presence Not Presents

It happens every Christmas morning at our house. The kids rush to open their presents and find what they so desperately wanted. They excitedly play with their new toys but inevitably by lunch time they are bored and wondering what to do. The gift they longed for just gets put in the toy box and they want something new.

What can we give our children that is longer lasting and more meaningful?

Continue reading at Playground Dad…

Celebrating Advent as a Family

From Advent Conspiracy

If your kids are anything like ours, you have to work like crazy to fight against the consumerism of the holidays. Retailers are convincing our children they need the newest toy or electronic device. We can quickly be smothered by consumerism and lose sight of real reason we celebrate this season.

To help our family focus on Christmas and the birth of the Son of God, we intentionally celebrate Advent during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Here are some great resources for celebrating Advent and focusing your family on the birth of Christ:

This December, at Mountair Christian Church we are preaching through the four Advent messages of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All from Advent Conspiracy.

Here’s a preview of their focus this Advent:

Empowering Our Daughters to Break Out of the Box

“Instead of being angry at their implications that I was a woman of low morals who could not be trusted with freedoms, I decided that I would make it one of my life’s goals … to show them that I was capable of more than they had ever allowed me to envision for my future…little did I know … I was embarking on a journey … so far removed from the fate any Pashtun woman is born into.” Saima Wahab

Currently I’m reading through an eye opening and hard to put down book by Saima Wahab titled “In My Father’s Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate.” Saima’s father was kidnapped by the Russians from their home in Afghanistan and she ended up in the Pacific Northwest with her uncles as a teenager. Before he was taken from his family, Saima’s father empowered his daughter and longed for her to go outside the gender roles for a Pashtun woman in Afghanistan. Saima took it upon herself to break out of the gender mold of her culture and be the woman she was ultimately created to be. Her story is an interesting one because it led her back to Afghanistan to be a translator for the US military forces.

As Hillary and I raise our two daughters, one of our goals is to empower them to be who God created them to be. We don’t want them to be held back by gender expectations even those that are present in church circles. God created male and female unique yet culture has created boxes that especially women need to live within. I want my daughters to be empowered to do what they believe God is calling them to do and not be held back because they are women.  Read the rest of this entry