parenting

How to Prepare Your Family for a New Year

By Theron and Mizpah Glenny

The beginning of the year is always one of our favorite times.  There’s a newness about it…a fresh start, a new beginning.  Dreams come alive again.  Our wheels start spinning again as the potential of what could be floods into our brains.  We get that sparkle in our eyes and smile on our face.  As we enter into this new year, it’s important to capture these sparks so you can identify which sparks to grind.  

In this article, we want to share the process we use to put a bow on the previous year by wrapping it up properly so we have legs to leap into the next year.  We share the questions we not only ask ourselves, but also our kids.  It allows them to think deeply and journal their answers, which make beautiful memories to remember years from now. 

Please note, we strongly encourage you to set aside 1-2 hours to do this.  We’ve learned that if something is really important to us, we schedule it on the calendar so our brains know the time is set aside.  So, reserve some time for yourself and your family.  The clarity you’ll get doing the exercise will make the pain of blocking the time off well worth it. 

Before you start thinking about the new year, first look back on the previous year and write down what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what you’d do differently.  Here are some questions you and your kids can ask yourselves:

  • What were your favorite moments?
  • What brought you the most satisfaction?
  • What did you learn last year?
  • What new friendship did you start? And why do you enjoy being friends with them? 
  • What was your favorite book you read? 
  • What was something hard you faced? Did you overcome it and if so, how?
  • What scripture or piece of advice really helped you?
  • Would you change anything or do anything different?

Once you answer these questions, you should feel good about moving on to start thinking about this new year, but be sure to take the time as a family to share.  Don’t feel pressure to share everything as there may be things you don’t want to share, but it’s important to share some things in order for you and your kids to connect to the story God wrote in you as a family the previous year. 

Now, time to think about the new year!  Here are some questions to ask yourselves (and be sure to write down your answers):

  • What do you want to accomplish, and why?
  • What are some fun things you want to do? 
  • What person(s) do you want to be closer to?
  • How will you serve others this year?
  • What are some things you’d like to learn this year? Are there areas of your life you want to grow and mature in?
  • What book(s) are you going to read? 
  • What mentors will you seek counsel from? Another way to ask this is, who do you want to learn from this year?
  • What could hold you back from accomplishing what you wrote above? …and, how will you overcome the fear with God’s help?  

As mentioned before, be open to sharing your answers with each other.  Knowing what is in each person's heart to do in the new year provides another connection point and an opportunity to encourage each other.

In the next article, we’ll focus on helping you overcome fears and limitations.  We believe this year is a year of ’no limits’ and want to equip you and your family to be all that God wants you to be this new year.  

Please reach out to us and let us know how the above questions helped you and your kids prepare for an amazing new year.  We want to hear some stories.  

The article above also appeared in the Tyrone Daily Herald. 

How To Make Christmas Meaningful For Your Family 

By Theron and Mizpah Glenny

 

Christmas is a magical time of year, but it can also be stressful for parents trying to figure out how to make it meaningful for their family.  Every year heading into Christmas, we find ourselves excited for Christmas, but also asking ourselves some tough questions.  Like you, we want our kids to see Christmas as more than just getting gifts.  We want Christmas to be meaningful to them with memories they will cherish into their adult life.  

In our last article, we talked about how to prepare your kids for the holiday season by establishing traditions that will help your kids gain the proper perspective. In this article, we will walk through some specifics that will help you as parents ensure Christmas is meaningful for your family. 

What experiences do you want your family to have?

This is important to think through.  What do you want Christmas Eve to be like?  What about Christmas Day?  Plans will likely vary from family to family.  For us, we want life to slow down for maximum enjoyment. We want to spend it together cherishing each other. On Christmas Eve, we spend it with close friends and read a special story together when we get home - see our book recommendations at the end of this article. 

For us, we start the day doing something that puts things in perspective. Last year on Christmas day, we made a fire in our fireplace and let the presents just sit under the tree. Miz played the piano, we sipped hot drinks and sang some songs. It was awesome! It is His birthday, so why not start the day celebrating Jesus?  Have fun with this. Make a plan.  Just don’t make it about getting stuff.  

But, what do you buy your kids?

Every parent asks this question.  You want to get your kids some things, but you want the gifts to be meaningful.  There are so many choices that it can be overwhelming!  We got the following list off of Pinterest and thought it was very valuable and wanted to share.  This will help you keep Christmas shopping simple, but meaningful. 

Here’s how to shop for your kids for Christmas:

1.     Something they want - this can be a big ticket item they’ve been asking for…obviously within your financial budget. 

2.     Something they need - sports equipment? Hobby related item? 

3.     Something to wear - Clothing not usually bought…maybe something brand attire or fun accessories.

4.     Something to read - we are huge on this. Is there a book?  Magazine subscription?  We’ve bought books like Tim Tebow’s Through My Eyes for our son that has had a big impact. 

5.     Something to do - Movie ticket? Event or game ticket? 

6.     Something for ‘Me’ - This is a keepsake like an ornament, photo album, framed photo, letter or something you made for them.  Theron loves writing letters. 

7.     Something for family - Board game? Movie? A family outing? 

Note, not all categories need to be bought for, but this list provides you with a solid road map.

How do you teach your kids to be thankful? 

Thankfulness leads to contentment.  It’s painful to watch (and hear) a whiny, selfish and ungrateful kid.  Here’s how you can prevent that this Christmas. 

1. Prep them - walk through what Christmas day will be like.  Tell them they will likely receive some gifts from you and others.  Ask them what they should do when someone gives them a gift.  Don’t expect them to thank people who give them gifts if you didn’t instruct them to.  Prepping them gets them thinking about being thankful no matter the gift.  

We tell our kids they probably won’t get everything they want and there may be gifts they get that they didn't want…but that someone thought enough about them to shop and spend their hard earned money on them…and for that, they need to be thankful.

2. Give them the look! - Yes, you know that look...the look that communicates, ‘What did you forget to do?’ We learn by repetition, so it is totally fine reminding your kids throughout the day to thank each person who gave them a gift.  Make sure they look the person in the eyes, be vocal, and give hugs.  

Lastly, we want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!  May it be filled with love, hope, joy and peace.  Be blessed.  

Recommended Christmas tunes:

•    TobyMac - Light of Christmas

•    Kim Walker Smith - When Christmas Comes

Recommended books to read as a family during the Christmas season:

•    The Best Christmas Ever - Junior Discovers Contentment  by Dave Ramsey

•    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp 

•    Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco - This is an absolute tear jerker 

This article also appeared in The Daily Herald today. 

How To Prepare Your Kids For The Holidays

By Theron Glenny

If you are like us, you love this time of year.  Your house has a slight aroma of Thanksgiving dinner goodness and you are starting to decorate for Christmas.  It is a very exciting and full season so we wanted to pass along some advice to help you make this holiday season special by helping you prepare your kids.  

We can’t encourage you enough to help your kiddos process through what they are thankful for. Don’t assume they have already processed through things.  Take time to connect on a heart-level with them by asking them what they are thankful for.  

As parents, we consistently put effort into making sure our kids hearts are in the right place.  A heart in the right place to us is ready and willing to be respectful, to love, to honor, to receive instruction and to serve.  A heart gets to that place by first being thankful.  We live in a very 'me-focused' culture.  Being thankful helps take our eyes off ourselves to see the big picture.  It provides the right perspective.  It’s the cure for arrogance, depression and entitlement.  

What traditions do you have or that you can establish this year that can help your kids get the proper perspective?

Thankfulness requires a response.  It requires action.  For us in the Glenny home, we make a Thanksgiving list together. We think back over the current year and remember what God has done for us.  This tradition may sound simple, but it is extremely powerful. It helps both us as parents and our kids see the big picture because we decided to be thankful. …and it’s fun to look back at what our kids wrote on our thanksgiving lists from past years. 

What about you?  What will you do?  Here are some questions to ask yourself…

  • What books will we read together? 
  • What movies will we watch, and why? Remember, think about the message and/or perspective you want your kids to have.  How do you want them to think and feel about Christmas? 
  • Who will we go visit together?
  • Who should our kids buy gifts for? Is it someone in their class? Teacher? Sibling? Grandma? Take time to ask them questions to help them think through what they could give. 
  • When our kid receives a gift, what will we teach them to do? This can be difficult especially for younger kids, but teach your kids to thank the giver right away and to keep eye contact so they are genuine. For younger kids, this takes time to develop. 

Joshua House’s Operation Christmas Blessing

Most parents want their kids to be thankful and generous. Developing generosity in your children does not happen overnight.  It takes time and deliberate effort.  We look for opportunities to develop generosity.  For example, another tradition for us is participating in Joshua House’s Operation Christmas Blessing program.  It’s an amazing program that helps parents in need provide their children a great Christmas.  We set aside money in our Christmas budget so our kids can sponsor other kids (whom our kids do not know as identities are kept confidential).  We usually choose kids who are around the same age as our kids.  When you sponsor a child or teenager, you are told whether they are a Male or Female, what age they are and what they would like for Christmas.  It’s a fabulous way to bless families and help your kids think beyond themselves and develop a generous heart.  

Please note, there are still kids who do not have sponsors yet for this Christmas.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please call Joshua House directly at 814-684-2032.

Make a plan to ensure your traditions happen.

Our last piece of advice is the key to making the holiday season special.  We find that if our plans are not on the calendar, they do not happen.  There’s a big difference between us saying we want to do something and actually scheduling it.  Take time to think through the things we listed above and then schedule them.  You’ll be glad you did as your Christmas season will be special for your entire family. 

This article also appeared in The Daily Herald today. 

Purpose Starts At Home - Part 4

By Theron Glenny

Preface: Whether you are a Mom or Dad, Uncle or Aunt, a grandparent, teacher or coach, if you work with youth, this bi-weekly column is designed to encourage you and equip you to impact the next generation.  Here at Joshua House, helping youth find purpose is our mission.  It is our heartbeat.  It is what drives us. We have learned over the years that modeling purpose starts at home.  

The following article is the fourth of a four-part series where we walk through how you as a parent can model at home how to live with purpose so your kids will live with a sense of destiny.  

In our last article, we shared how your mindset in every situation can stir up faith in your family or, make your family miserable.  Our message was you can take the bait by complaining, but you'll remain in your circumstance. The alternative is you can be positive, praise and be thankful and then be raised up.  It’s easy to complain.  It’s hard to praise, but the more you do it the easier it becomes and you will see victory.  The environment in your home, which is your responsibility to create as the parent, will become an environment full of faith and purpose because you chose to be thankful and praise.  

The fourth key is a call to seek the Lord with all your heart.  

Let’s first start with, why?  Why is it important to do this as a parent? Kids naturally imitate their parents.  They watch you like a hawk.  They see your life behind the public curtain.  They know whether you are the real deal or not.  They know if you are just a Sunday church goer or someone that has a real, genuine relationship with God and seeking Him and letting Him lead you.  You do not have to be a know-it-all…but you should know Who to go to that does know-it-all.  Purpose starts at home.  If you are seeking the Lord for direction and purpose in your own life, you are establishing your home on a firm foundation.  Parents, remember that more is ‘caught’ by your kids than ‘taught’. 

   
  
    
  
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    Caption: Recent picture of me with my Dad and two brothers on our hunt together this year in Missouri.  Dad (& my Mom) laid a great foundation for us boys by putting God first and seeking the Lord for wisdom for guiding our family. Now, all three of us have kids and can do the same for our own families. #generationalblessing

Caption: Recent picture of me with my Dad and two brothers on our hunt together this year in Missouri.  Dad (& my Mom) laid a great foundation for us boys by putting God first and seeking the Lord for wisdom for guiding our family. Now, all three of us have kids and can do the same for our own families. #generationalblessing

My Dad worked in construction and operated heavy equipment on large road jobs.  He woke up typically around 3:30/4 am each morning.  I have fond memories of coming out to the dining room for breakfast, hours after he left, to see his bible open and his notebook on the table. Then, there was another notebook on the dishwasher with a handwritten note to us.  Each day he would write a note to my Mom and then to me and my two brothers.  It is still astonishing to me he did this daily.  I could always tell that he knew what was going on in our lives by the things he wrote to us.  I’m so appreciative that my Dad put first things first.  He sought God first and the wisdom he received, he passed on to us with great love and care.   

It is a very powerful thing when parents seek the Lord. God has a way of doing amazing things when He’s put in the right place.  Families become close.  They connect. They heal. They live with purpose.  My parents inspired me to put first things first - to put God first and ahead of the other areas of my life.  

If God made us on purpose and for a purpose, shouldn’t we seek Him since He holds the keys to unlocking our purpose? The Bible teaches us to seek, to ask, and to draw near to Jesus.   Here’s a few verses:  

  • Matthew 6:33 says, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
  • Jeremiah 29:13 says, And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
  • James 4:8 says, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 

Ask yourself, ‘where am I going to find and hear inspiration, get purpose and fulfillment’? God?

Joshua 24:15 says, And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

There are other gods and mediums out there that are not healthy for you nor your family which tap into other spirits.  Here’s our advice… Don’t waste time on that stuff. Seek the real God, Jesus Christ. You’ll find Him when you seek Him with all your heart.  …and your kids will see the fruit in your life and have great respect for you. 

Like Joshua, maybe you need to make a declaration in your house that you will seek and serve the Lord Jesus.  We can’t encourage you enough to take that step and commitment as parents.  You’ll be laying the right foundation.  Commit to serving the Lord and watch God orchestrate something beautiful with your family. 

The above article also appeared in today's Tyrone Daily Herald. 

 

Purpose Starts At Home - Part 3

By: Mizpah Glenny

Preface: Whether you are a Mom or Dad, Uncle or Aunt, a grandparent, teacher or coach, if you work with youth, this bi-weekly column is designed to encourage you and equip you to impact the next generation.  Here at Joshua House, helping youth find purpose is our mission.  It is our heart beat.  It is what drives us. We have learned over the years that modeling purpose starts at home.  

The following article is the third of a four-part series where we walk through how you as a parent can model at home how to live with purpose so your kids will live with a sense of destiny.  

In our last article, we gave you a challenge to do things that require faith.  As you walk out your purpose and model it for your kids, you will need to step out in faith and take risks at times. Those moments are critical in building that foundation of courage and purpose in yourself and your kids.  The third key we’d like to give you will help you overcome a potential trap that could hold you and your family back from living fully alive.

Complain and remain, praise and be raised.

We’ve all been around those people.  Ones that cannot say anything positive, no matter what good thing may have just happened to them.  Complainers and whiners.  They are not fun to be around.  You can feel it when they walk in the room.  Holding onto the negative, glass-half-empty, outlook in life.  If you step back and look at their lives, generally, these types of people will stay stagnant in life, not moving forward into new and better things. This is what happened to the Israelites when they were on their way to the Promised Land.

After leaving slavery in Egypt, as they were approaching the land that God had promised them, Moses sent out 12 spies to check out the land.  All but 2 of them came back full of fear, basically proclaiming that there was no possible way to overcome those giants (Numbers 13). Even though they had experienced miracle after miracle of God protecting them and providing for them in the wilderness, they couldn’t see any way that God would continue to do the same for them going into the Promised Land.  They were blinded by fear and they complained.  Their attitude stirred up fear in the rest of the Israelites.  “And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! …Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’” (Numbers 14).

Return to Egypt?!?  The land where they were slaves, forced to make bricks all the days of their lives?  They would rather stay in slavery than enter the land of freedom that God had promised them?  When God heard this, he decided that the complainers would not go into that Promised Land.  They were going to remain in that wilderness, wandering and circling, never to find a place to call home.  No purpose, no vision, just wandering.  They complained and they remained.  

Joshua and Caleb came with a 'different spirit';  They had an attitude of faith, a glass-half- full, positive, “we can do this!” attitude!  They believed that God would do what He said He would. Caleb tried to rally the people believing fully that they could overcome it.  Joshua also tried to persuade them know that it was a good land that God said He would give them.  He remembered God’s goodness and believed they could take the land.  He praised God in the midst of the challenge, and he was raised up to lead the people of Israel after Moses died. Just like the Israelites, we have a promised land that God wants us to overtake and inhabit.  

As parents, it is our job to lead our families to that place of purpose.  Like archers aiming their arrows at the targets, we have the privilege of aiming our kids in the direction of their Promised Land(s) and launching them to those targets.  In order to see the next generation get to those places, we have to drop the complaining and take on the perspective of faith.  Like Joshua, we need to remember and proclaim the goodness of God — praise and be raised — so that our kids see the power of praise.  

Ask yourself, what could happen if I really believed His goodness?  In our homes, let's believe in the power, promises and goodness of God.  Let’s quit complaining and walk in that “different spirit” — believing and moving forward into our Promised Land!

The above article was also published today in the Tyrone Daily Herald.

Purpose Starts At Home - Part 2

BY THERON & MIZPAH GLENNY

Preface: The following article is the second of a four-part series where we walk through how you as a parent can model at home how to live with purpose so your kids will live with a sense of destiny.  

In our last article, we shared the importance of remembering God has purpose for your life.  To model purpose to your family, you first have to remember you have it.  When you remember that you matter and have reason for existence on the earth, your sense of destiny will rub off on your family.  The second key to modeling purpose is to do things that require faith.  

I remember it vividly.  We were walking through the city streets of Buffalo and there was a homeless person just ahead.  This wasn’t a time to debate whether I was going to help the guy or not.  My kids were watching. I know they were asking themselves ‘what is Daddy going to do?’   As we approached I engaged the fellow in conversation. As I talked to the man, he sadly shared with us that he had cancer throughout his whole body and was dying.  I think it shocked my kids.  Frankly, it shocked me.  Our hearts immediately went out to him.  We couldn’t have provided enough money to solve his problem.  We did give him some money, but more importantly, we spent some time with him and shared with him how much Jesus loved him and how he had purpose…even now while he was fighting cancer.  We asked him if we could pray that God would heal him and he welcomed us to.  So, we all laid hands on him right there on that crowded street and we asked God to come and heal him.  We prayed he would feel God’s presence wherever he goes and in every situation.  

We don’t know what happened to that man, whether he was healed or not, but what I do know is this, I did what I was supposed to do.  My job was to step out in faith.  Please hear me on this: We don’t get it right all the time folks.  We aren’t superman and wonder-woman.  We’re just like you wanting to impart faith and courage to our kids.  But, what I can tell you is this - the more you step out in faith, the more you will see your kids have the courage to step out. My kids have become accustomed to this now.  Everywhere we go, they know Dad and Mom will step out in faith.   

One day in Altoona, my daughter saw a lady walking down the street with a distinct limp that looked painful.  Worse, she looked sad.  My daughter said 'Daddy, do you see that lady and how she’s walking and she looks sad'.  I said 'yes baby, I do'.  Without having to ask her, she said, 'I want to go talk to her and pray for her'.  So, we did.  My little girl took a step of faith.  When we approached the lady, I told her that my daughter wanted to meet her and felt like God wanted her to pray for her.  My daughter was super courageous then.  She laid her little hands on the older lady and prayed out loud. It was a beautiful prayer.  The lady was shocked.  She was taken back at what just happened - a little girl was led to have a conversation with her and pray for her.  I absolutely love seeing my kids be bold like this.  As parents, we should want it to be normal for our kids to do things that require faith.  But, it starts with us.  We can’t expect our kids to be bold in their faith if we aren’t. 

God said to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua was one of the few leaders of the Israelites that was willing to face giants.  He was an overcomer.  He was one who did things that required faith.  When we get scared, we should ask the Lord for courage and strength because He will give it to us.  The next time you come into a situation where you can do something that requires faith, do it and watch what happens.  May you be known by your kids as one who demonstrated faith and inspired them to be courageous. 

In our next article, we’ll share a potential trap that could hold you and your family back from living fully alive. 

The above article was also published today in the Tyrone Daily Herald.

Photo credit: wisdomtimes.com 

Purpose Starts At Home - Part 1

How to live with purpose so your kids will live with a sense of destiny

BY THERON & MIZPAH GLENNY

The following article is from our column published today in the Tyrone Daily Herald. 

Whether you are a Mom or Dad, Uncle or Aunt, a grandparent, teacher or coach, if you work with youth, this bi-weekly column is designed to encourage you and equip you to impact the next generation.  Here at Joshua House, helping youth find purpose is our mission.  It is our heart beat.  It is what drives us. We have learned over the years that modeling purpose starts at home.  The following article is the first of a four-part series where we walk through how you as a parent can model at home how to live with purpose so your kids will live with a sense of destiny.  

As mentioned earlier, purpose starts at home.  It starts with us as parents.This may sound simple, but the first key to modeling living with purpose is to remember you have it. A definition of purpose is "the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists” (online dictionary).  Remember that God created you on purpose for a purpose.  There are reasons why you are alive and breathing today.  Do we ever doubt this?  Is every day full of happy, smiley-face emoji’s?  No.  There are tough days.  There are days where we might not feel like getting out of bed.  There are days where we wonder if there is any purpose at all. We have all been in a place of wandering in life, not knowing what our purpose is and where we are going.  But, we must remember that even on those tough days, purpose still exists.  Our successes in life are determined by how we handle our problems and struggles.  Our battles can birth our victories, if we position ourselves to win.  

In the Bible, Joshua was one of the leaders that brought the Israelites out of a place of wandering into their Promised Land, the land and purpose God had for them from the beginning.  

Joshua 1:2-3 says, "Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.”  

Joshua did not shy away from the destiny he knew was promised to his people because he remembered what God said.  He remembered his purpose.  His story sets an example for how to live with purpose in order to get to the Promised Land that God has for us. But Joshua’s story didn’t start well.  The Israelite people traveled from Egypt where they were in slavery to their promised land and when they got there, many in the group had a change of heart.  Why? The leaders sent out trusted men to spy out the land to see what was there.  Joshua and his colleague Caleb were two of those spies.  They went into the land and found it was everything God had promised.  It was luscious and full of goodness.  There were giants in the land too, but Joshua and Caleb believed the Israelites could take the land and thus, were full of faith.  The key to positioning yourself to win is to remember your purpose so you can be in a position of faith.  Have faith.  Believe you can overcome with God’s help.   

The other spies that were sent out came back full of fear.  They were not full of faith.  They had forgotten God’s promise.  They forgot God said He'd give them that land.  They forgot they had purpose because they were in a place of fear and not faith.  Therefore, the report they brought back about the land scared all of the people and the Israelites did not go and take the land.  They were so close!  They were at the doorstep!  God did miracle after miracle to get them out of slavery in Egypt.  You would have thought they would have been full of faith when they arrived at their destiny moment.  Sadly, they weren’t.  And because they embraced fear, they ended up wandering in a desert for forty years while that generation died off.  Forty years!  

The good news is, Joshua and Caleb out-lived most of that generation and when they were appointed leaders, they led the people into the promised land.  After all those years, they never lost sight of their purpose.  You don’t want to be a family that embraces fear.  You want to be a family that is full of faith because you know you have a promised land.  You have purpose.  

As parents, we know that most often, more is caught than taught.  Our kids absorb and imitate so much more of what we do than what we say.  Will they catch your position?  Yes, they will!  Your words, actions, attitude and behaviors will communicate to them.  The key to staying in a place of faith is to remember you have purpose.  Remember.  Remind yourself.  Remind your spouse.  Remind your kids.  They will watch the way you position yourself to face your challenges and will imitate what you do throughout their lives. Will you have rough days?  Probably.  But don’t lose faith.  Remember God created you on purpose for a purpose.  Remembering will sustain you on tough days.  It will build your faith up.  You got this!

Practical tip: Write it down.  Somewhere in your house, write down ‘I have purpose’ or ‘We have purpose’.  If you know what your purpose is in this season of life, make sure to be specific.  Put it somewhere where you can see it and where your family can see it.  Let it be a memorial to you to help you remember so on your tough days, you'll position yourself to face your challenges with faith. 

Photo credit to Pinterest.

3 Lessons I've Learned From My Backyard Ice Rink

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By Theron Glenny

As most people are looking for the first signs of spring with eager anticipation, I am not.  I may be the only one, but the thought of my back yard ice rink melting saddens me as it has been a treasure to us here in the Glenny house this winter.  Here are three lessons I’ve learned this winter from having my backyard ice rink.  

The Importance of a Gathering Place 

In his book Becoming a Person of Influence, leadership guru John Maxwell said that when he and his wife were raising their kids, they wanted their house to be the place where their kid’s friends wanted to be.  They wanted their home to be a gathering place to build relationships.  So, they equipped their house with ping pong tables and other fun stuff for kids.  It gave them the opportunity to be involved in the lives and friendships of their kids.

A few of my jr. high hockey players getting ready to play out back. 

A few of my jr. high hockey players getting ready to play out back. 

My ice rink, or the back pond as I affectionately refer to it, has been a gathering place for friends, my kid’s friends, my kids friends parents, the hockey players I coach, and of course my own family.  I remember one night my wife Mizpah and I were getting ready for bed and when my head hit the pillow, I heard the distinct sound of a puck ding of one of the posts out back.  I smiled. I knew who was out there…two of my junior high hockey players, getting in a late evening skate.  Like a five-year old on Christmas morning, I jumped out of bed, put my gear on and out I went.  We wore out the ice that night.  While we worked on shooting and the fundamentals, what I most remember was our conversation.  My simple ‘pond’ served as a gathering place for two teens to talk with their coach about the deeper things in life.  As a coach, these experiences matter more than wins and losses.  They shape the lives and destinies of the next generation.  

What We Should Have When We Play Sports - Childlike Joy

I recently read a book titled Home Ice by the late Jack Falla, a fellow backyard ice rink maker.  Falla, a Sports Illustrated writer, shared about when he was sent to Edmonton, Alberta during Wayne Gretsky’s famous point streak in 1984.  He had heard stories about the great Gretsky when Wayne was only 11 years old.  He also learned about Wayne’s father, Walter Gretzky’s, who when Wayne was young, constructed a backyard ice rink.  Walter Gretsky affectionately referred to his rink as Wally Arena.  

It was there on that sheet of ice where Wayne's love of hockey was embedded into his heart. Wayne would skate in the mornings before school and was quick to hop in his hockey gear after school to get back out there. Wayne would sometimes eat dinner in his skates so he could quickly hit the ice before bedtime.  Walter didn’t push Wayne like so many parents do in youth sports today.  Wayne wasn’t pushed to love hockey, it just happened…mainly because his Dad provided the space for that love to be cultivated.  It was that childlike joy that Wayne had for hockey that Falla observed years later in him at Edmonton when Wayne was tearing up the NHL. 

A beautiful day on the ice with the kids and another one of my jr. high players.  

A beautiful day on the ice with the kids and another one of my jr. high players.  

I can’t help but see that same childlike joy in my kids.  In the sub-freezing mornings, my kids rush downstairs eager for me to skate with them.  I gladly would grab my gear and get them bundled up as we headed out into the cold morning air.  The cold was not an obstacle to our time together.  There is warmth that we share in this gathering spot, on this frozen ‘pond’…my backyard ice rink. The warmth is in our hearts and not contained by the ice or the cold air.  Our time is unstructured and simply fun.

What I want to point out to you is that there is something very significant about unstructured play that produces a childlike joy and love for a sport.  For me, it was spending hours on my parent’s basketball court alone shooting, dribbling, and reenacting being down by one with ten seconds on the clock.  It was during those hours, not structured practices, where my hands became one with the leather ball, where I first dared to shoot a jump shot, and where good habits bloomed.  No coaching was needed on that slab of concrete. Just me and a ball.  

A Platform to Connect with My Kids

Some parents say they have trouble connecting with their kids.  For me, I’ve found that connecting to your kids has to be intentional.  It starts with blocking off time…clearing your schedule and turning your phone off so that you can be focused on them.  

As a young father I have really appreciated the new experiences to bond with my kids on this backyard ice rink.  My son likes to play 1-on-1 and when he scores, he likes to drop the gloves and pretends to scrap with me.  We end up on the ice wrestling around and laughing. For my daughter, she loves to push me around the ice to practice her skating.  When she asks me to daddy-daughter skate, I cannot resist her big brown eyes under that pink hockey helmet.  These times to connect are intentional and have been a blessing to me.

Conclusion

Sports can teach a lot of great life lessons - teamwork, grit, integrity, passion.  For me sports are a platform for impacting the next generation.  Our job as coaches and parents is to raise up the next generation of moms and dads, wives and husbands. That job is more important than learning a game or even excelling at a game.  So, whether you have an ice rink like me, a driveway basketball court, or an open field to play ball, use your space as a gathering place for your family and friends to connect and get back that childlike joy of the game. 

Enjoy the pictures below.