Archives For parenting

Your local public park can be a great source of adventure. Most people take their kids and sit on a bench while their kids play. They (we… I’m guilty too) use the time to catch up on email or Facebook. But what if we helped their imagination bloom? What if we became part of their games? What if we participated with them? We’re making these YouTube videos to encourage people to play together and Go Do Something. Life is actually pretty amazing and my kids are growing up fast, so I’m trying to be more proactive in enjoying each day with them. Sometimes it’s little and simple and sometimes it’ll be bigger, but it’s something.

What kinds of things do you do with your kids to create memories together?



In our second episode on Go.Do, our new YouTube channel, we go to a brand new pet store in Fresno called Lost Realms Pets. It’s awesome and you should go! Check it out:

Tripp & Tyler are at it again. They’ve brought you some of the best comedy-shorts/commercials that YouTube has to offer. You may recognize their work with Email in Real Life and A Conference Call in Real Life. Here you have it… their latest comedy-short/commercial, Poo-Poo Parents Say. I definitely relate to this one. I say most of these things, multiple times a day and if you have little kids, you probably do as well.


Brian Jennings has written a book for families who want simple, practical, and easy to follow suggestions for how to Lead Your Family. The book is primarily for Christian parents who want their family and children to grow in their knowledge and relationship with Jesus.

In my opinion, the concepts and practical applications of this book are perfect for elementary aged kids through high school. From cover to cover, the book is 51 pages. If you’re on-the-go and busy, like any parent, you may not have time to read long-form books and when you do, your focus may be pulled in 100 different ways. That’s why I love the 51 page approach. It’s easy to read. It’s fast paced. The chapters are just a couple of pages each, which makes you feel like you’re making great progress no matter your pace.

Chapter 1 sets the family up for success by encouraging you to make sure the whole family is on board to live with purpose, proactively, not reactionary. He then subdivides the sections of the book into four parts: During the School Year, Summertime, All the Time and Anytime. These are great to help you recognize the needed rhythms in Leading Your Family. One of my favorite chapters is entitled “Slay Electronic Addictions” and I bet you can guess which section that one lands in. I’ll give you a hint… it’s the one with the most down time.

Jennings explains that during the Summertime, in his home, nobody is allowed to look at or give attention to an electronic screen before noon. Wow. Imagine that. I have a three year old and a five year old and the amount of screen time they currently get is a little embarrassing. That’s something we’ll be tackling here very shortly.

The practical implications of Lead Your Family are not high and lofty things. They are simple. They are direct. They cause you to question and rethink your prioritization as a family. This book causes me to rethink or at least question how well I’m teaching my kids. How am I doing? Are they learning to be generous, to treat other people well, to use electronics wisely, to pray, and to study the Bible? These are questions that plague the minds of many parents, but are quickly forgotten in the busyness of parenthood.

The last chapter is perhaps the most under thought on subject for Christian parents because it doesn’t address behavior, which is something we’re all so worried about. It addresses the subject of how to talk to your kids about baptism and making their own decisions on following Jesus and when the timing is appropriate for them to own that decision.

All in all, it’s a quick read with twelve practical ways to improve how you lead your family.

You can find more information on how to obtain your own copy of Lead Your Family at

Holy Week is supposed to be an emotional roller coaster. I mean, it’s the week Jesus entered into Jerusalem triumphantly, had an epic meal with his best friends, was betrayed with a kiss, put on trial and executed by the Romans by the pressure of the Jewish leaders and some of the people who were praising him, just one week earlier. That’s a roller coaster.

Add to that the sixth-monthiversary of Two Cities Church and our very first Easter service! There’s some emotion there too.

But this year, Easter weekend was marked by a life-event I never wanted to experience.

Easter Sunday I preached a message about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and how that’s the first-fruit of the resurrection of all of God’s adopted children. But what made that so extremely personal was that as I was preaching, my mom was on her death bed and hardly responsive. She had spent the previous 2-weeks in the hospital and at one point we thought she made a turn and was in recovery mode, but then took another turn.

On Thursday night, the night before Good Friday, I got a call from my sister saying, “You’ve got to come back to the hospital. She’s ready to go home.” Which you’ve got to understand home was not her house. Home meant heaven. So Erica and I rushed over to the hospital and all I could think was, “Of course. She’ll probably wait until 12:01am on Good Friday to go home.” But she didn’t, she hung on. She hung on for my brother to fly in, for my uncle Larry, my aunt Melody, my grandma Dessa and a whole host of others to come say good-bye.

One of the most heart-breaking and memorable things I’ve ever heard was my grandma walking into my parent’s house, seeing my mom on hospice, sitting by her side and saying, “I came to go with you the rest of the way. We started this journey together, just the two of us, long ago and we can finish it together.”

Two days after Easter, on April 7, 2015 Cheryl “Mots” Foster died. My biggest cheer-leader. My go-to person for some encouragement or wisdom. My spiritual role-model. My Mots. But not just my Mots, my dad’s wife, my brother’s mother, my sister’s mother, my wife’s mother-in-law, my kid’s grandma. Our Mots and maybe even your Mots.

The last thing I ever said to her was, “I’ll either see you tomorrow or in heaven. I love you Mots.” And I really do believe that I will see her again.

I could write volumes upon volumes on my mom. Maybe one day I will. But for now, I’ll leave you with this… a video of the celebration we had in her honor this past Saturday. Here are some details.

  • I had the honor to officiating and planning the Celebration.
  • My sister read the obituary.
  • My Uncle Larry told some great stories.
  • My Dad told the story about how they met in Yosemite.
  • My brother talked about her legacy.
  • Around 300 people from all over California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Texas came out to celebrate her life.
  • The majority of us wore RED because that was her favorite color.
  • She had one request in relation to her celebration… she wanted Jill Douty to sing ROAR by Katy Perry. It was her life anthem this past year.
  • We didn’t have a traditional guest book, because that just wasn’t her style. So I had asked my friend’s Josh and Hilary Dildine to create a thumbprint tree for our guest book (pictured below).
  • And we feasted on some great food after the celebration.


Entire Celebration:

Starting at the eulogy and to the end:

Thank you to all of you who have provided meals, support, love, lent your talent, given hugs and prayed for our family. We have felt your love and will continue on with the mission of Jesus Christ. We love you all.

What if your kids looked back on their childhood and thought, “those were some epic times?”

I have a friend whose family didn’t save a penny for their kids college education. Their theory was that it was up to their kids to figure out how to pay for college and instead of saving for their future, they spent money on making memories. They took trips to Disneyland, from Oregon, every year. They had jet skies and lived on the Willamette River, just south of Portland, Or. Thankfully, for their family, paying for college education worked out. I’m not advocating that their decision is right for everyone, but I do like the idea that every family needs to create epic memories with their kids.

For me, growing up, my epic memories were our yearly camping trips to Yosemite. In face, to this day, I would say that Yosemite is my favorite place in the world. I have fond memories of swimming in the river, eating at the village, camping in the housekeeping units, floating down the river, hiking, discovering hidden falls, eating ice-cream at happy isles, biking the valley, star-gazing from glacier point after sunset and camp fires! When I reached my teenage years, my parents let me bring 2-3 friends along every year. We swam in the bottom of Yosemite Falls everyday. That will knock the wind out of you!

It’s important, through the crazy-busy lives we live, to take time out. To hang out with your kids. To give them some undivided attention. To take trips, when you can. To make epic memories together. Because one day, that’s what they’ll remember. A childhood full of epic memories, is a happy childhood. It’s a childhood I’d like to pass on.

In that spirit, yesterday morning, my son and I made a movie entitled Epic Battle: Good vs. EvilEnjoy.

We made this movie using an app called Directr. It’s great because they provide you a storyboard with sketches and the music. Essentially you just follow the instructions to make a great little movie.

So, go, create epic memories with your kids. They don’t happen on their own. You’ve got to make time.

meaningful conversation picture
Have you ever tried to have a meaningful conversation with your kids only to discover that they answer every single question with the same word and that word is poop? Me too. I can not count how many times my son has answered a serious question with poop. And then we busts up with laughter. Now, the jr higher in me loves it. Inside, there’s a piece of me that cracks up, almost every time. But I don’t want that to be his legacy… poop.

The other day was a crazy day. The kids were rambunctious and louder than usual all day. I could hear the insanity through my office door. After I finished working, I knew I needed to separate the kids for an hour or two. So I decided to take Josiah on his first Life Lessons with Dad date. We kissed mom goodbye and off we went. While we were out we talked. Normally, the experts say, for boys especially, you need to be doing something to bond. But I found that undivided attention is really what he needed. I discovered some of his fears, his dreams, his hopes, and I was able to talk to him about a few important things.

So here they are…

5 Steps to Having a Meaningful Conversation with Your Four-Year-Old [or any kid at any age, really]

  • Take them out for “a treat”
    Take them somewhere they don’t usually go and buy them a treat to eat. Get them out of their normal environment where they are less familiar. Depending on your kids, this may help keep them close and attentive to your voice. Kids are excited when you take them somewhere new, so each time you go out try to make it new in some way.
  • Take them alone and turn off your cell phone
    This needs to be a one-on-one endeavor because they need to feel your undivided attention. Look them in they eyes as you talk and take notes when they give an interesting answer. Trust me, you’re going to want to take notes to remember the gems that come out of this conversation.
  • Start by building them up
    Kids needs to hear that you love them, multiple times a day. They also need to hear that you’re proud of them everyday. They need the reassurance. I’ve also found that my son, especially, needs reassurance that I love him after he gets in trouble. So build, build, build. Check out these secrets I tell my kids every night before bed for more on this topic.
  • Ask open-ended questions and follow up with specifics
    This may sound intense, but it’s not. It’s just on purpose. Sometimes we confuse having a conversation that actually means something with intensity. Open-ended questions means they interpret it the way they want to and they tell you what they really want to or need to tell you. It’s very important that you don’t lead their answers. I see parents do this all the time when we want them to answer a specific way… and that’s fine for other contexts. But for this environment, for this special conversation, you are really looking for what’s going on inside of your child. [below are the questions and format I used for this conversation]
  • Tell them the things you hope to teach them and pray together
    At the end of your time, tell them the three things you want to teach them. This is for you to decide. Then pray with them. Put your hand on their head or shoulder and pray, out loud (not loudly, just out loud), in public. You’re teaching them something in that moment. Check out these 5 things Christian parents should pray over their kids daily.

Here’s the sample outline for my recent “meaningful conversation” or what I told him was Life Lessons with Dad:

  1. I’m proud of you for…
  2. Is there anything that’s bothering you?
  3. What are your hopes and dreams? What do you want to do with your life?
  4. Is there anything else I should know?
  5. I want you to know and learn…
  6. Pray

Again, it might seem intense for a four-year-old, but he ate it up. Why? Because I was giving him complete attention and listening to every word he said. He opened up and told me some things and I loved it.

Our plan now is to do this once a month. My wife will take Josiah out while I take Brynn, then two weeks later we’ll flip-flop. That ensures we stay in sync with what’s really going on with our kids hearts and it will help create unity in our house.

So there you have it 5 steps to a meaningful conversation with your kids, no matter the age.

If you’ll take it seriously, but have fun with it… so will they. How are you intentionally trying to have real and meaningful conversations with your toddler, pre-schooler, elementary aged, middle schooler, high schooler, college aged, extended adolescent, young adult and adult children?