Friday, June 19, 2015

Guest Post: The Last Four Words My Dad Said To Me Before He Died.


Guest Post: Gunnar Simonsen

“I love you, too” were the final words my dad would say to me before he passed away. Can greater words ever be spoken amidst the knowledge that a final hour was drawing near?

I am one of the blessed ones. Not all have had such an opportunity. Many of my friends either never knew their father or wished they had never met their father. For them, my heart breaks.

Dad was forty years older than me. In comparison with most of my friends, he came from another time. His time was the time of many of their grandparents.

To me, he was simply dad.

Certainly his taste of music was from another time as well. Jazz was always on, especially that of the big band era. We used to sit and talk with the jazz playing all day long.

Nobody and I mean nobody could tap their finger to the beat of jazz like dad could.

Me and dad used go play a lot of golf growing up. There’s was that time we were nearly hit by a lightning bolt and immediately high tailed it back to the clubhouse. I never saw my dad run that fast. I never saw him that mad either at the fact I was in hot pursuit of his mad dash nearly stumbling over myself laughing so hard. Of course, we took a rain check and just drove to the next golf course and played. Had the storm passed? Not really. But dad wouldn’t let a little thunder and lightning hinder golf.

For those that knew my dad, he wasn’t known for a lot of words. Matter of fact, at first, many of my friends wondered if he even liked them. But sooner or later, they’d see dad in full bloom.

There are two characteristics about my dad that after ten years since he passed seem to really stand out. First, dad was the funniest person I ever knew. He had this dry sense of humor that just killed it every single time. I remember as a kid watching TV with dad. I loved watching him laugh at the TV. I knew that if it made dad laugh, it was funny.

As I reflect on this, watching dad laugh at a TV show didn’t stop when I grew up, it kept going. Seeing dad laugh was a gift. To make dad laugh was priceless.

I recall many times the last few years of life where my dad was at an event or something I was hosting or had to play host. With those duties always came a felt need for me to entertain people. I too love to make people laugh. But in those events, if I could make my dad laugh… no words could describe it. Just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. It was like, atta boy.

My dad was also an unbelievable listener. There was never a time as I grew older that I remember speaking with my dad and him seeming distracted. He would listen intently. He wouldn’t say many words, if any until you were done. It was as if he wanted you to work it out. Never once did I ever feel like screaming… say something!! I knew it would it come.

Because while he was listening, he was listening.

That’s not a typo. He wasn’t thinking about what he was going to say in response. He wasn’t falling all over himself to interrupt my words to offer his feedback. While dad listened, he simply listened.

Someday, I hope I can master such patience, confidence, and wisdom because in his ability to do this always came the perfect resolve.

Dad was also that one person that I grew to appreciate more and more as I grew older that could turn my fear into peace. With a forty year difference, it wasn’t always easy. Being human, we’re always growing.

Fortunately for me and dad, we grew towards each other and not apart.

To this day I remember like it was yesterday being wheeled away for back surgery. I had never experienced surgery like this. I was extremely nervous, but after over a month of extreme pain, it had to be done. Dad knew my nervousness. At the time, I did not know he would be gone two years later. Dad was the last person I saw as they wheeled me away. What he did that very moment was something I had never experienced from him in my entire life.

He reached out his hand to me and gave me a look I will cherish forever. As I grabbed his hand, his look said one thing… it will be ok. I sit here a mess as I type this.

“I love you, too” were the final words my dad would say to me before he passed away. Can greater words ever be spoken amidst the knowledge that a final hour was drawing near?

Hearing those 4 words before he died after never once hearing them growing up was beyond words. I lived my whole life seeking to hear them. Perhaps that which I sought to hear was all along being played out in that which I had been seeing?

Shortly before my dad passed away from cancer, he also had a stroke. I remember his doctor telling me and mom that he didn’t wish this on his worst enemy. It was hard seeing someone you love drift away into a place where their old self would not be seen again.

Often times during that season I would be with dad and know he really wanted to say something but couldn’t get the words out. You could see the struggle. He didn’t want you to see the struggle, but you did. But what you couldn’t hear, you could feel. If you could feel emotion from that which you were seeing, dad’s heart was on full display and not like anything I had ever seen before.

Searching my whole life to hear my dad say I love you through the lens of this changes everything. Though he may not have said it, looking back on these memories, I sure did see it. If you could feel emotion from that which you were seeing, dad’s heart was on full display this whole time and I didn’t hear it. Why? Because perhaps I was never meant to hear it but rather instead… experience it.

And as I look back, I sure did. ..I sure did.

Dad, I love you. I miss you. On this Father’s Day in 2015, I honor you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

20 Books all Boys Should Read

Here's a list of 20 books all boys should read (in no particular order).  Consider reading these aloud with your son:

Treasure Island, by Robert Lewis Stevenson

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

White Fang, Sea Wolf, and Call of the Wild, by Jack London

The Jungle Book and Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Endurance, by Alfred Lansing

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Shogun by James Clavell

African Queen by CS Forrester

King Solomon’s Mines by H.R. Haggard

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis


Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein



List from Rick's book, Better Dads Stronger Sons.  You can get a copy here:  www.betterdads.net  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Raising Boys to be Leaders

If we want to raise boys to become leaders, we have to teach them to have courage.  It is virtually impossible to be an effective leader without courage. Leading a family, operating a business, going to school, and even volunteering your time require courage in various degrees.

Courage is not the absence of fear but the conquest of it. Courage (especially in males) is the willingness to fail. Courage is the defender and protector of all other virtues. Courage emancipates us and allows us to move with freedom and vigor.

So, how do we teach our sons to have courage?  One way is to teach your son that being “nice” isn’t the highest aspiration a man can live up to. In fact, sometimes I think niceness is the enemy of courage. Many times in life a man, husband, or father is forced to make decisions in the best interest of his family or society that do not appear to be nice on the outside. I’ve been forced as a father to make decisions that my children perceived at the time as heartless, mean-spirited, or just plain stupid. But they were always made with their best interest in the long run in mind. If my goal had only been to be nice (or to have been liked), I would have not been able to make the hard decisions that were important to their long-term healthy growth and development.

Our culture promotes being nice as the highest virtue a man can achieve. Many of the newer “guy” movies inspire males to be lovable slackers, with no aim in life but to smoke pot, bed women, and get by without working. But the young men are very “nice,” so it’s okay. And many young women today seem drawn to soft, passive, quiet men who do not ruffle feathers and who do what they are told. It’s a nonthreatening but uninspired vision of manhood.

Niceness and meanness are feminine concepts. You seldom see men complaining that another man is mean or not nice. On the outside, that desire for niceness in males would appear to be a noble goal. However, it’s really a way of neutering masculinity. Being nice takes away the power of a man to lead. It removes passion, conviction, and courage from a man’s soul. Nice guys might not always finish last, but they seldom run the race at all.

You cannot be a leader without at least some people getting mad at you. In fact, you cannot accomplish anything important in life without having someone get upset with you. By its very nature, leadership will offend or upset a certain percentage of individuals. If your son grows up to care too much about what others think of him or whether he inadvertently upsets someone, he will never accomplish anything significant with his life, including raising exceptional children.


Want your son to be a leader?  Teach him to be courageous.  Remember--parents who exhibit courage produce courageous children.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Can we stop cyber bullying using parental control apps?

Today's guest post is from  Paula G.  She participates in a volunteer action against cyber bullying. You can reach her at her Twitter or Google+ profile.  

 Our increasingly connected world created a new platform for bullies to harass our children. This type of bullying is called cyber bullying. It is pretty much the same as the traditional bullying most of us experienced at school. But this type is even more radical: children no longer use physical assaults or pick on other kids at school--now they have social media, emails and text messages. Although you won’t find bruises or scars on your child’s body it certainly doesn’t mean that he/she is not affected. Below, we listed top facts, statistics and ways to prevent cyber bullying.
  •         Over 60% of teens report to experience cyber bullying.
  •          33% of bullying victims report they received text messages with threats.
  •         95 percent of children admit to witness cyberbullying and ignored it.
  •          80% of children agree that online bullying is easier to get away with than traditional bullying.
  •          Only 2 in 10 victims will inform their parents about online threats they receive.
  •          Girls are about twice as likely to get bullied online.
  •          Cyber bullying victims are 3-9 times more likely to think about committing suicide.

Cyber bullying is said to have more radical aspects than traditional bullying due to the so-called “invisibility factor.” As children don’t have face to face contact, they don’t get the feedback, which increases their brutality.

Online bullying occurs through the use of phones, smartphone, iPads, iPods, computers. It can be done through social media websites, emailing, text messages, instant messages and pictures.
Here are several suggestions to prevent cyber bullying:
  •         First and most important is to talk to your child directly and ask him/her about cyber bullying: what does your child know about this problem, has he/she ever witnessed, participated or experienced cyber bullying.
  •          Reassure that the victims have no fault in being the harassed target.
  •          You can also plead to teenage pop stars like Taylor Swift, Luis Tomlinson, Russell Brand and others active celebrities who stand against cyber bullying.

The last but not the least thing you should do is to monitor your child’s online activity. Chances are most kids won’t admit they have been bullied to avoid embarrassment. SMS monitoring apps allows you to track your child’s internet usage, monitor social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, instant messages (Skype, Viber, WhatsApp) etc. In addition, you can monitor all incoming, outgoing and deleted messages, view call logs and real-time GPS location.

As parents, we must stay informed and involved in order to protect our children from the painful and sometimes deadly effects of cyber bullying. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Men of Honor--Avoiding a Life Lesser Lived

My good friend, Tony Rorie, is the founder of a program called Men of Honor in Dallas, Texas. Men of Honor exists to make passionate followers of Christ by mentoring and training next generation leaders ages eleven to seventeen in the principles of chivalry, honor, integrity, moral excellence, and courageous leadership. They use a three-pronged strategy of life-changing camps, conferences, and curriculum. The camps are weekend encounters where youth go through rites of passage, leadership development exercises, and powerful encounters with the Holy Spirit. The most important is the Father’s Blessing which is imparted by older male mentors to mostly fatherless youth. Camp graduates are then connected to weekly curriculum-based mentoring groups where they are taken through Dr. Ed Cole’s "Majoring in Men" curriculum and taught that manhood and Christlikeness are synonymous. They believe being a male is a matter of birth, being a man is a matter of choice. Tony gave this powerful speech at a recent graduation:

“When this generation was born, there were three parties present: The Lord was there to name them according to their purpose. He named them Victorious Warrior, Mighty Deliverer, Faithful Servant, Overcomer, Light in the Darkness. Next their parent or, if they were fortunate, parents, named them: Dalton, Daniel, James, Lauren, Jordan. Then the enemy named them: Drug-Addict, Pornographer, Suicide Victim, AIDS Patient.

This generation will fulfill two of those three names in their lifetime—which will it be? Thirty-six percent of this generation woke up this morning without their dad in the home. Whoever captures the heart of the next generation will name that generation. Modern marketers have begun their plans long ago. The enemy has begun his plans . . . to kill, steal, and destroy. These forces will spare no expense to see their plans come to reality.

NEITHER WILL WE! We will spare no expense to see the plans of the Lord come to light in the hearts of young people. They are created in the image of God and bear His image. They are world changers, Kingdom builders—mighty servants of the Kings of Kings!

Join us in our pursuit of this generation. Pray for Men of Honor as we establish life-changing opportunities for young people to hear the Good News of life through Jesus Christ, see their purpose and potential as world-changers, and stand up in their generation as leaders!”

What a mighty, manly legacy to pass on to a group of boys entering manhood. All males, no matter their age, yearn for significance in their lives. They yearn for a battle to fight that means something. Young men run to the battlefield, not because they want to kill or be killed, but because they want to participate in a battle bigger than themselves—one that matters. They want the world to know they existed. God created them this way to make the world safe and healthy.

When we teach our sons the nobility of using the awesome masculine power that God gave us to help others, we give him the ability to define his life—we channel that natural competitiveness, aggressive nature, and yearning for significance that God gave him into healthy, life-giving outlets. The world has many battles that need to be fought by a group of men and boys banding together. Things like poverty, child and domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, illiteracy, sexual slavery and human trafficking, fatherlessness, and violent behavior. Just like men of lore were adventurers of wild continents, explorers of untamed lands, and conquerors of the unconquerable, we need to give our young men today adventures with noble causes to live their lives for. But without a vision to inspire them many boys settle for a life lesser lived.


Find out more about Men of Honor here: www.honorministries.org

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Relationship Wounds--The Great Destroyer


The average person is prone to bring past relationship wounds into their current relationships.  These are particularly destructive because our current partner has no idea what you are talking about or where you are coming from.  So for instance, if a past spouse cheated on you, we often distrust all future spouses.  It’s important to remember that the person we are currently with did not perform the act (or said the words) that wounded us.  Much like our criminal justice system, that person should be considered innocent until proven guilty—they should be given the benefit of the doubt.  Likewise when a person has been wounded by a mother or father while growing up, it is difficult to not reflect that behavior upon on future relationships. 
When you are in a dysfunctional or abusive relationship, fear makes you believe that the next one may be worse, that you may be hurt more and loved less.  Those are false voices based on your wounds and the evil ones who wish to see you tortured.
People who have past relationship wounds are often dependent for their happiness on the happiness of their partner.  They receive validation and contentment by how their spouse treats them or the attitude they display.  This dependency makes it very difficult for either spouse to maintain a healthy attitude. 
But partners who aren’t dependent upon the validation of the other can remain intimate even during times of stress and conflict.  They use each others’ strengths to fuel their relationship instead of allowing their weaknesses to destroy it.  When we allow another person to validate our worth, we give them the control to manipulate our lives. 
Unfortunately, the more emotionally unhealthy a person is the more apt they are to engage in highly dependent relationships.  Because these people don’t handle anxiety well (they aren’t able to comfort themselves), every time their partner becomes upset, they do as well.  And since they are dependent upon their partner for reinforcement, they then spend vast amounts of energy trying to control their partner and the relationship in order to get control of themselves.  That’s a lot of emotional energy getting expended in a generally frustrating and often fruitless cause.  In the alcoholic home I grew up in, whenever my mother got upset, everyone paid for it.  So we each either left the house or spent much of our time and energy trying to make sure she was happy, contented, and anxiety free.  But it was a no-win battle.  She continued to negatively control and manipulate things regardless of what herculean efforts we performed. 
At some point a person gets tired of this game and either individually grows and learns to self-validate ourselves, or leaves the situation--often repeating it in another scenario (like a second marriage).  It’s one of the reasons why second marriages have an even higher failure rate than first marriages.
If you’ve recently been in an unhealthy relationship, give yourself time to heal before getting involved in another one.  Find professional counseling if needed to heal childhood wounds.  Otherwise you’re prone to making the same mistakes all over again or making a poor decision in the choice of a partner.

Excerpted from Rick's new book, Romancing Your Better Half, by Revell Publishing.  To find out more or to purchase a copy go to: www.betterdads.net 



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

10 TIPS FOR DADS RAISING SONS

• YOU are the biggest influence in your son’s life—you are almost indispensable.
• Fathers have been endowed with a huge generational power/influence to impact their children’s lives for good or evil (sometimes for hundreds of years) just by the things they do and don’t do or say or don’t say today.
• Boys learn how to be a man, a husband, and a father by observing male role models (good or bad ones).  Be their role model.
• Boys learn self-respect and respect of others by being respected by their fathers and the respect they see him give others.

• Character traits like nobility and honor are passed directly from father to son.
• Men and boys long to live lives of significance—they hunger for adventure.
• Your sons (and daughters) may be the only people in the world who want to love and respect you without your having to earn it first.
• You need to resolve any issues between you and your father, before you can grow to become the kind of father you want to be and that your children deserve.  If not, it’s very difficult to break negative generational cycles from being passed along to your son.
• The greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother.
• Teach your son (or daughter) self-discipline by holding him accountable for his actions and decisions.

Find out more by purchasing Rick’s book, Better Dads—Stronger Sons: How fathers can guide boys to become men of character, by Revell Publishing.  For more information go to www.betterdads.net