Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Day at the Park

One of the things that the Director of the Mango Tree Centre tries to do when they have outreach teams come by is to take some of the disabled people for outings in the local area.  They take them to the beach or for a drive along the coast or to a cafe for a meal out or out to a park for a picnic.  They do this with the teams because often, they need the extra hands to help with all the wheelchairs and lifting and pushing and feeding.  And they normally have to bring 2 vans - just in case one of the disabled people has a health issue, they can then get them back to the Centre or home without having to take everyone back.  On this trip, J and I got to tag along and help out as we took three people t the park for a picnic.

That might sound so basic and simple to us but that is because we often take such things for granted.  We can hop in a car or on our bikes or a bus or train or simply walk and pretty much go anywhere we want, any time we want.  But not so for them.  First, none of the families have cars or vehicles - they just simply cannot afford it.  Second they don't have anyone who could drive them.  And third, it often takes so much work to get one of the disabled people ready for an outing that the families simply have a hard time doing it.  The 3 that we took out that day were actually relatively easy to get ready - they are all able to sit in a wheelchair.  But many of the others are bed-bound, so they would need a 'mobile bed' or they don't go at all.  Can you imagine being in bed your whole life?  So for most of them, they rarely go out of their house!

So these outings are a special treat for them - just to get out of the house and experience something different.  And you could see it on their faces as we sat at the park with them - they were looking around, gazing at the kids playing on the playground, watching the people walking by, hearing the waves on the nearby beach and the cars and the birds and the conversations around them - things that we take for granted!  Makes me really think - maybe I should be more grateful for the simpler things in life!

Here are a few photos of the day at the park - click on the photos to enlarge.


[caption id="attachment_1876" align="aligncenter" width="450"] We had a great time at the park with the whole gang.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1879" align="aligncenter" width="449"] One of the staff member brought his brand new guitar and sang a few worship songs - in Tongan![/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1877" align="aligncenter" width="444"] One of the special treats is to have a special meal with them. Often they are malnourished and so any extra food is a blessing for them!  J also got to help feed this man.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1878" align="aligncenter" width="449"] Often, it's just the little things that mean so much. Here we just go for a stroll around the park.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1880" align="aligncenter" width="446"] J said this was one of his favorite days - just to see the people so happy![/caption]

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Before and After...

One of the main reasons for this outreach to Tonga was to build a small house (more like a shed from our western perspective) for a family who has a blind child.  The Mango Tree Centre for Disabled People ministers to about 80 families who have severely disabled family members.  And this is one of those families.  Not only do they have a blind daughter, but this family lives in a tiny, run-down 'house' that is literally just a few boards and pieces of wood nailed together (see photos at bottom of post/article).  And there is no floor - the 'house' sits directly on dirt and is situated next to a small community rubbish dump/tip!  When it rains (and boy does it really rain in Tonga!) the house gets flooded and literally sits in 20-30 cm (8-10 inches) of water constantly.  Imagine what that dirt floor would be like with 20 cm of water sitting on it for days!  So you can see the need for this family to have a house that is out of the flood-waters and can stay dry!

So that is what part of the team did during the two weeks they were there - build a small, simple one room house that is on a 60 cm (24 inch) high concrete foundation that will definitely provide a dry home for this family.  Our church, Calvary Wellington and another church in northern NZ, Calvary Whangarei provided the funds for the building materials and the building team (all from CC Whangarei) devoted many loving hours into this house. During the days of building, we all had lots of opportunities to share the truth and love of Jesus with this family (we think they are Catholic or come from a Catholic background).  When the guys were painting the new house, I got a chance to share the gospel with the father.  I told him I love to see new houses being painted (his was painted white) because it reminds me of what Jesus does for us.

I told him - 'The new house with the new white paint job is clean - there are no dirt, stains or markings on the brand new paint.  It's super white and clean!'  Then I pointed to his old house and said - 'that house has lots of stains and dirt on it, doesn't it?  Can you see the difference?  That is what Jesus does with our sins (which are like dirty stains)!  The Bible says Jesus cleanses us white as snow, like your new house!  So every time you look at the new, clean, white walls of your new house, remember that Jesus died on the Cross to bring us forgiveness from our sins (the stains and dirt) and gives us a brand new life - clean and white!'  He was silent - I don't know if he could really understand that or accept that, but I know a seed has been planted.

And to top it all off, on our last day there, the family cooked a wonderful meal for us all as we celebrated not their new house, but their new HOME!

Here are a few photos so you can get an idea of what the old and new house is like...

[caption id="attachment_1849" align="aligncenter" width="371"] This is what they live next to - a rubbish dump / tip[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1852" align="aligncenter" width="369"] Old house - just a few boards and pieces of wood and tin nailed together.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1855" align="aligncenter" width="368"] This is their kitchen - they cook over an old tire and some wire mesh[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1857" align="aligncenter" width="383"] New house - dry and solid![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1858" align="aligncenter" width="400"] New paint job - white as snow![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1863" align="aligncenter" width="394"] Interior of the new house - 27 sq.m. (290 sq. ft.). It will be divided into 4 'rooms' with curtains to house 6-8 people.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1860" align="aligncenter" width="409"] Proud owners of a new home - father and daughter[/caption]


Friday, 9 November 2012

Servant's Heart

Well, we've been back for a week and a half now from Tonga and are getting settled back into life in New Zealand.  But there are so many memories and experiences that are engrained in our minds and hearts.  Our main purpose for the trip was to build the house for the family with the blind daughter and also to participate in the home visits and pastoral care of the disabled.  We stayed at the Mango Tree Centre for Disabled People which ministers to 80 families with disabled family members who live in the community around the Centre

Over the next couple of weeks, I will share some of the experiences so that you can get a taste of what life was like in Tonga for us during the week-long outreach.  In this post, I will start with what J experienced.  Actually I will let you just read what he wrote about the time in Tonga and what God was showing him.

While I was in Tonga I experienced the LORD working through me and the others around me, helping me and encouraging through the whole trip.  I felt like I had a real purpose, to serve the LORD.  The only things I gained while I was in Tonga were wisdom, friendship, and faithfulness.  I met some great people who showed love and affection to me.  The girl and her family who we built the house for were a great family, the girl we built the house for was blind, (but you wouldn’t know it) she was at a real disadvantage because of all the rocks and junk where she lived.  So when we built the house for her family, we built a ramp so that she could get into the house without hurting herself.  One of the most rewarding things while we were there was the looks on the family’s faces and their joy when we finished the house.  All in all I think the best thing while we were there was the feeling of serving.  - J -

A young man learning servanthood. :-)  He helped do a little painting on the new house and digging the pit for the sandbox and building the shelves.  And he went with us on all the home visits - he bought little balls and toys for the kids and helped to keep them entertained while the adults visited with the parents and the disabled family members.  Almost every home that we visited had kids so he was pretty busy!  He also played a lot with the director's 5-year-old son - who was only lonely because he is the only kid at the Centre for Disabled People.  Overall, it was a an experience he will never forget!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Make Your Mistake Work For You!

And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon--the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite--heard about it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord. But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy.  And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us."

Joshua 9.1-6

Have you ever made a mistake?  In Joshua 9, we saw that the Jews made a huge mistake in their dealings with the Gibeonites!  Remember, the Gibeonites had tricked the Jews by dressing up in old clothes and sandals and bringing old dry, moldy bread and worn-out wineskins.  They used all this as ‘evidence’ that they came from a far country, and thus the Israelites should make a peace treaty with them because they were not the enemy from the Promised Land.  What a bunch of lies!

And the Israelites fell for this trick because they ‘took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD’ (Josh 9.14)!  And imagine how foolish the Israelites must have felt afterwards, when they found out they had been duped by the Gibeonites into making a monumental error!

Yet, the story doesn’t end here.  Even though they made a mistake, they didn’t allow that mistake to stop them.  Read the last verse of the chapter - ‘And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would choose, even to this day’ (Josh 9.27).  See what they did!?!  They made their ‘mistakes’ work for them!  The Gibeonites became woodcutters and water-carriers for the Jews!  They learned from their mistakes and turned it into something useful.

Perhaps that speaks to you - you’ve been taken off guard by the enemy.  He has tricked you into making a mistake and now you don’t know what to do.  Or perhaps the mistake was of your own doing - simply bad decision making.  Ask God to use your mistakes for your good.   For ‘we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose’ (Rom 8.28).  Our mistakes are not mistakes in God’s plan – they are opportunities to see God’s sovereignty and power at work!

Alexander Whyte writes – ‘No matter what mistakes we may make, the worst mistake of all is not to try again; for the victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings’.

So don’t make the mistake of not trying again.  That’s what the enemy wants – for you to give up, to walk away in defeat.  Instead, learn from the mistake and put it to work for you!  And continue walking in faith with God!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Our Spiritual Citizenship and Ambassadorship

In Phil 3.20, Paul tells us that we are citizens of Heaven.  And that is a glorious thought to meditate on!  But in 2Cor 5.20 Paul tells us that we are also ambassadors of Christ on earth!  See, not only are we citizens of heaven and foreigners on earth, but we are also ambassadors of Jesus while on earth.  Citizenship in heaven describes who we are and where we’re really from (I can hear some of you slapping your foreheads and exclaiming - 'I knew he was from the heavens, from outer space!').  But ambassadorship describes our duty while living here on earth.  It is what we are called to do while living here.  Look at some of the characteristics of ambassadorship…

Ambassadors must live in a foreign country, even though they are citizens of a home country.  That’s what they are called to do - live in the foreign country. They must also remember that it is a temporary home.  For the Christian, we are called to live on earth although it isn’t really home.  Our true home is heaven, we are in fact citizens of heaven.  But we live temporarily in a foreign land called earth (and yes, it does seem foreign at times!).

Ambassadors represent their homeland and its leader to others.  As Americans, we represent the USA the President.  As Kiwis, you represent NZ and the Prime Minister wherever you live.  And as citizens of heaven and ambassadors of Christ, we are to represent heaven and Jesus to others.

Ambassadors are under the authority of their home government, even though they temporarily live in foreign land.  For instance, a US ambassador must obey the US President - if he says leave, come home, then the ambassador must submit and obey.  Are we as Christians, submitted to our ultimate Authority, the Lord Jesus Christ?

Ambassadors are ultimately under the laws and customs of their home country.  We as citizens of heaven are not under laws and customs of earth - yes, we must respect and abide by them.  But ultimately, we are under the spiritual laws and principles of God’s Word.

Ambassadors should have a true love for and a loyalty to their homeland, its citizens, and what it represents.  In fact, they must defend it and them!  As citizens of heaven and ambassadors of Christ, do we have a true loyalty to heaven, its citizens (our brethren) and it’s Leader - the Lord?  Are we willing to defend heaven - to even die for it?  Are we willing to die for its King of kings and Lord of lords?

So remember, we are citizens of heaven!  But while we live on earth, we are also ambassadors of Jesus Christ! So let's live out our identity and fulfill our duties!

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. -- Colossians 3.1-3 --


Sunday, 26 August 2012

It Is Finished!

I am sure like most of us, you have unfinished projects laying around the house (especially in the garage or workshop) - projects that you ‘will eventually get around to finishing’.  Maybe it’s that jigsaw puzzle that you will ‘one day’ complete.  Or maybe it’s the dining room chairs or that bedroom door that need to be painted ‘one of these days’.  Or maybe it’s the book you are ‘working on and eventually publish’.  Or perhaps it’s the quilt that you ‘just need to sit down and finish it’.  Whatever the case, most of us have unfinished projects.  But you know what, God doesn’t have any projects that He ‘will one day finish’ or ‘one day get around to’.  No!  What God starts, He finishes!  Always.  Every time.

Paul writes in Phil 1.6 - ‘being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  Let’s break that verse into 4 parts, but slightly out of order.

The Meaning of the Work - First, we see that there is ‘a good work in you’.  What is this good work Paul is talking about?  I believe we can all agree that this verse can be applied to our walk of faith and thus the work is the gift of salvation - that we are saved from hell, saved unto God; that we are forgiven of all our sins and have eternal life.  So how does this work become ‘in you’ as Paul writes?  Simply by faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you know your ABC’s of salvation?   (A)dmit your sins and that you are a sinner.  (B)elieve Jesus died for you.  (C)ome to Him and accept His free gift of salvation.  That simple!  It must be ‘in you’ because God’s work of salvation isn’t superficial.  It is not the external things that we do that saves us.  It is not doing more good than bad, not our Christian parents or upbringing, not our service or tithing, not our religiosity that saves us.  None of those is the good work that Paul is writing about her.  No, it is the work of salvation and it starts in our hearts (it’s personal) and then moves out into our lives (it’s practical).  And it is a good work - God can only do good!

The Person of the Work - Paul writes ‘He who has begun’.  So who is Paul talking about, who has begun the work?  Pretty obvious that in context, it is God!  Almighty God, Creator of the Universe!  It is He who spoke the world into existence.  It is He who hung the stars and the moon and the sun in the sky.  It is He who set this universe in motion, who spoke and it was.   It is the Almighty, all-powerful God, the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth.

And it is the same God who has begun His work in us!  See, it is not man who initiates the good work of salvation - no, God does!  Yet, man still thinks he can do enough good to earn God’s acceptance or His love or approval.  Maybe some of you have grown up being taught that - ‘keep these rules and regulations.  Be good, do good and you’ll get to heaven!’  Absolutely not!  The only way to get to heaven is through Jesus Christ (John 14.6) and the only way for God to save anyone is by faith in Jesus Christ.  It is God who began this work, not man.

The Certainty of the Work - next, Paul writes ‘will complete it’.   God WILL complete this work.  That is His Word and it is His promise - He is faithful to complete the work in us.  Paul also writes that he himself was ‘confident’ of this - he’s 100% sure!   Now, there are 2 key implications of this.  First, we won’t lose our salvation because God promises to finish it.  He is working on us now and will complete it in the future one day.  God holds us in His hands and we are secure in Him and in His work.  We as humans might start a project, work for a while, lose interest and eventually stop.  But God never does that w/ us - it is not in His character to leave any work unfinished. We have security knowing that what He started in us, He WILL complete.

Secondly, it is God who finishes the good work in us, not us.  It is not God starting the work, then sitting back and allowing us to take over and finish it for Him while He has a cup of coffee!  No, God not only begins the good work, He finishes it.  In fact, Jesus, God the Son cried out while on the Cross - ‘it is finished’!  Feel the burden being lifted off your shoulders?  God completes the work He began in us!  Not us.  (To balance this, we must also remember that SANCTIFICATION does depend on our obedience in living out the Word of God.  Paul writes in Phil 2.12-13 that we are to ‘work out our own salvation….for it is God who works in you both to will and to do…’.  We do have a part in our sanctification!)

The Timing of the Work - so when does all this take place?  It starts the day we accepted Jesus into our lives as Savior and Lord and it continues ‘until the day of Jesus Christ’.   It is complete when we stand before God in heaven!  Either when Jesus returns for us and takes us up to heaven.  Or if we die before Jesus returns, we go immediately into the presence of God in heaven!  Either way, it is the day we meet Jesus again!  So come quickly Lord Jesus!

In closing, imagine with me a master potter taking a lump of clay.  It’s basically just dirt and water, right?  Just mud..  He puts it on the potter’s wheel and starts it spinning.  Then he works that lump, up and down, in and out - pulling, molding, shaping the lump.  Until it begins to take shape and becomes the vase or pot he imagined in his mind.  But he’s not finished.  If he stops then, the lump would deform again, fall in on itself and be ruined.  He must let it dry and then fire, bake it.  Perhaps paint it.  And then finally glazes it and bakes or fires it again.  And then - finished!  A masterpiece.

That is what God the Master Potter is doing with each of us and He won’t stop until we’re formed, baked, glazed and finished!  A masterpiece!  Amen!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sowing and Reaping

Over the last few days, I have been studying this biblical concept of sowing and reaping, and have been very challenged (and scared - see last point below) by what I have learned about this principle.  I have never really stopped to think about all the different aspects of this principle, but am glad I did!  As I said before, it's a very challenging principle to live out daily!  Anyways, below are some highlights I have gathered during the study...

You reap WHAT you sow.  Apple seeds produce apples (not oranges).  Corn seeds produce corn (not kiwi-fruits).  Tomato seeds produce what?  Tomatoes, obviously!  At the creation of the world, God said let the grass, herb and tree reproduce ‘according to its kind’ (Gen 1.11).  And so it has been ever since (sorry evolutionists, that's just the way it is)!

So if a person sows evil constantly, then eventually he/she will reap evil back, in the form of consequences, even direct judgment.  Yet, so many people (even Christians) sow in one field but want to reap in another!  They want to sow in the field of worldliness and sin, but they want to reap from the field of righteousness!

Take for example Princess Di and Mother Teresa - remember back in 1997, both ladies passed away in the same week in August?  Remember all the media Lady Di got - front page on every newspaper and magazine for weeks!  And Mother Teresa got perhaps a couple paragraphs in a few newspapers.  The first lady lived a life of often sowing to the flesh and the world.  (Yes, she did a lot for charities, but her personal life was pretty worldly, with her marital affair and divorce).  The second lady lived her life for others, sacrificing all.  She truly sowed love and compassion. 

And see, most people want to live like Princess Di in luxury and style, but die like Mother Teresa in sacrificial giving!  They want to sow to the world and the flesh but reap the blessings of sacrifice, compassion and love.  It don't work that way - your reap what you sow!  The Bible says ‘For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life’ (Gal 6.6-10).

You reap AFTER you sow.  Harvest comes after the plowing and sowing.  You never reap before you sow, do you?!   No, you must plow the field, sow next and then you will reap in time, when the harvest is ready.  Not right away.

The Bible states ‘And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in DUE SEASON we shall reap if we do not lose heart’ (Gal 6.9 - my emphasis). There is an appointed time for harvest.  So when a person sows evil now, they might not reap judgment immediately because God is longsuffering and is waiting for people to repent.  But there is a future time when they will reap what they sow!

Yet, people mistake God’s longsuffering for acceptance.  They think that if God hasn’t done anything yet, then it must be ok; He must accept it!  No, nothing happens immediately because God is longsuffering and patient.  But in due season, when sin is ripe, God will judge and people will reap.

You reap MORE than you sow.  When you plant one apple or corn seed, do you simply reap one apple or one corn cob?  No, normally you reap more!  Likewise, when we sow evilness, in time, we will reap - and more!  The judgment and consequences can often be more than what was sown!

You might say - unfair!  But God is just; He will mete out discipline justly.  Think of it this way - if you sow tiny evils over a lifetime, it adds up.  So don’t be surprised when judgment comes, that it is intense.  It might seem like more than the sin, but actually, sin has been adding up for years.  This is what is implied when Hosea declares ‘They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind’ (Hosea 8.7).  For years Israel sowed sin and evil and soon they will reap the consequences of those years!  They sowed the wind, but soon will reap the whirlwind!

What are we sowing in our lives, marriages and families?  Are we sowing to the flesh or the Spirit?  This principle applies in the positive also - we can sow good things and reap blessings!  Maybe not immediately, but we will reap one day.  And more than we have sown!

So let us sow to the Spirit, let us sow goodness, kindness and compassion.  Let us sow truth, mercy and life!  Let us sow into the lives of our spouses, children, co-workers, neighbors, friends and acquaintances.  Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap the fruit of our faithful labors!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Phamily's Residents' Visas

Well, to update you all on the whole visa application process - we have been officially invited to apply for our residents' visas (got the invite while we were in the USA).  So we have been in the process of gathering all the documentation - medical exams, blood tests (so sick of blood tests and needles!), x-rays, police reports, employment history, finance, bank statements, birth certificates, high school and university diplomas and transcripts, etc. Lots of paperwork and things to do!

We even have to prove that we have been married AND living together for at least the last 2 years or so.  They want photographs of the two of us together at various functions, events, in public, etc.  Also bank statements showing we have a joint banking account and any other proof of our 'commitment' to each other over the length of our marriage.

So that's where you can help us - if you by any chance have any photos of the two of us (Becky and me) together, could you email it to me?  And can you tell me where (occasion, event, location) and when (month and year).  And also pray that we can get all the paperwork turned in on time - we have until the beginning of Sept to get things turned in, but we would like to turn it in early, perhaps in mid-August.  Thanks for your help!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Rainy Day Fun...

It was a stormy, wet and rainy Sunday afternoon here in Welly, but at our house it was nice and warm from all the body heat!  After service, we had the church over to our house for potluck - an awesome afternoon of 'phood, phun and phellowship' at the Phamily's!  ;-)   And it was amazingly peaceful, even with 15 kids cooped up in the house.  Thanks to everyone for all the food - there was sooooo much that I think we will be eating it for the next 2 weeks!  Here are a few photos...

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Are You Soaring, Running or Walking?

For all those who wanted the mp3 of the teaching that I did at our home church (CC Murrieta) while we were in the USA, here it is.  It was recorded during the 2nd service - and i think it was also live on the radio in SoCal on that day.  For those in Europe, this is a longer, more in-depth version of what I shared at CC Freiburg. Hope you enjoy it - it spoke to me!

David Pham - Isa 40.31 - 10.June.2012


Monday, 18 June 2012

Runner's World - The Human Race...

As I mentioned a couple months ago, Runner's World magazine (Australia and New Zealand edition) had written me an email about including me and the kidney donation in their June issue.  The section of the magazine is called 'The Human Race - What It Takes To...' and features just normal average every day runners (not professionals or Olympic class runners!!) and their unique stories.  It's a great encouragement to read these stories of people like you and me and how running has played an unique part in their lives.  In any case, here's my story of the kidney donation, from their perspective.  Below is the cover of the mag and the article itself - just a couple short paragraphs, but hey, it's in RUNNER'S WORLD!  ;-)

PS - click on the fotos to enlarge and read....

[caption id="attachment_1718" align="aligncenter" width="614"] here is the article / blurb about the kidney donation...[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1717" align="aligncenter" width="424"] and here is the cover of the June issue.[/caption]

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Star Wars and Weird Al?

Here's one for all you Star Wars and Weird Al fans - especially those with the last name of Pham!  Love it!  I think I'm gonna have to try this hairdo?  What do ya think?  ;-)

PS - for those of you too young to remember, this is the a parody of Don McLean's American Pie song from 1971.


Challenge Weekly Interview

For those of you who follow us on this blog and not on Facebook, here is the article that I mentioned last month (in case you are reading this on FB, don't be confused - posts from our www.phamilynews.net blog automatically appear on FB also).

A Christian newspaper here in New Zealand interviewed me about the whole kidney donation process and how it all worked out.  It is similar to the article that came out in the Dom Post last month (click here).  But obviously, being a Christian newspaper, the Challenge Weekly article had more of a Christian perspective.

But in any case, here's the article (click here).  Enjoy!  And yes, that IS Jello that I am eating in the photo from the article - one of my favorite foods!  Yum!

PS - here is a photo of the recipient and his wife and me that didn't make it into the Challenge Weekly article.  Maybe they were afraid my mug might break the printing press?  ;-)


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Spaghetti Trees?

I know I'm a little late with April Fools but I am teaching on deception this week and found this video from 1957.  It is pretty funny and very well done for its time - check it out.  I think this was the first time that TV was used to propagate an Aprils Fool joke.  Gotta love the BBC - they have such a subtle and classy sense of humor!


Thursday, 5 April 2012

Runner's World - All Those KM's Paid Off...

I just got an email from Runner's World magazine (the Australia and New Zealand edition) saying that they would like to include my story of kidney donation in their next issue.  It will be just a short blurb, a paragraph or two describing the kidney donation and how running was a big part of that for me.  It will be featured in their 'HumanRace: What It Takes To...' column which "is dedicated entirely to you, regular runners doing inspiring things.  It's a platform where we will share your stories to help inspire other runners" (quoted from the March edition of Runner's World - Australia & NZ edition).  It will come out in the June issue - only in the Australia and New Zealand version as far as I know (other regions of the world will have their own version of Runner's World and their own editorial team).

Cool, huh?  I guess running all those kilometres in the last year and a half paid off!  NOT!  I'll have to get a copy of the mag when it comes out and post the article here.  I subscribe to the mag as a digital version, but only get the USA version for that.


Monday, 2 April 2012

9th Freiburger Marathon & Half Marathon

Man, I should have planned my trip to Germany better - I could have run this race! It looks like so much fun - 10,000 people took part in it and it ran right by the church where I used to pastor! Next year maybe...

Here's the official video from their website...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Afternoon Tea With His Excellency

As you know, this past Tuesday, we were invited to Government House to have afternoon tea with the Governor General - Lieutenant General, The Right Honorable Sir Jerry Mataparae.  The tea was in honor of those who had donated a kidney in the last 5 years or so - there were 25 of us donors there that afternoon, some coming from as far as 2 hours drive from Welly.  All the live donors were personally thanked by the Governor General and presented with a certificate - pretty formal stuff.  Coming from America, we're not used to the ceremony and pomp and all that!  But we had a great time - after we relaxed and weren't so panicked at meeting the Queen of New Zealand's Representative - and a knight at that!

In fact, His Excellency has a great sense of humor, but I was so nervous that I didn't quite catch on at first.  We were chatting during the tea and I can't remember how we got on this topic but His Excellency commented that he knew we were Americans by our shoes.  Both Becks and I quickly glanced down at our shoes in horror, thinking that perhaps we had our jandals/sandals on, before realizing that His Excellency was joking.  Whew!  I think I was too busy trying to think of something witty and insightful to say that his comment caught me off guard!

After the tea, we were allowed to walk around the Government House and have a look at the rooms and artifacts (this would be akin to walking around the White House, but without all the security and Secret Service glaring at you behind their sunnies!).  That was fun!  We got to see the Throne Room - where His and Her Excellencies have their 'thrones'.  Well, actually it's called the Ballroom officially, but I like to call it the Throne Room!  ;-)  And I really wanted to sit on one of the thrones and have a photo taken, but alas, we had to make do with a photo of us in front of the thrones.  Anyways, here are a few more photos of the event...


[caption id="attachment_1652" align="aligncenter" width="462" caption="Governor General presenting certificate"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1654" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="The Live Kidney Donors, the Governor General (front center) and Drs."][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1656" align="aligncenter" width="522" caption="Governor General, Missus and Me, Head of the Renal Services (dr. in chage of my case)"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1657" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Becks next to photo of Queen Elizabeth II, about as close as we're ever going to get to royalty!"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1658" align="aligncenter" width="461" caption="In front of the 'Thrones' - I wanted a photo of me sitting in one so badly!"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1661" align="aligncenter" width="502" caption="Norrie State Dining Room - where visiting Heads of State dine"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1664" align="aligncenter" width="645" caption="Government House from outside"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1663" align="aligncenter" width="645" caption="Bird's Eye view of Government House"][/caption]

Monday, 19 March 2012

En Garde!

Jesaiah had his first fencing competition today and actually did very well.  Especially having only started fencing lessons about a month ago.  He came in 4th in his age bracket, just one place out of earning a medal.  But he did get a medal for the top beginner!  Cool!

But boy was he exhausted - the competition lasted over 5 hours!  Obviously, he wasn't fencing the whole time, but still, it's almost a whole day of fencing!  Anyways, here are a few photos.  Enjoy...



Sunday, 18 March 2012

Are We Ready To Forgive? (by Becky)

“For You, Lord, are good and ready to forgive,
and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.”
Psalm 86:5

We have been going through a few Psalms on Tuesday nights in the women’s Bible study.  This last week we were in Psalm 86.  This Psalm is listed as a ‘Prayer of David”.  We don’t know what the circumstances were when David wrote this Psalm, but it would seem that he was in some sort of trouble.  This Psalm is David crying out to God to save him.  David seems pretty confident that God will do just that.

David says for “you are good and ready to forgive”.  David knew first-hand the goodness of God – and His ability to forgive.  That phrase “ready to forgive” makes me think of an expectant waiting.  God is just waiting for us to ask so that He can forgive us!  That is a hard thing for us, as humans, to get our head, or heart, around, because we so often aren’t “ready to forgive”.  It can sometimes take a while for our hearts to soften to be able to forgive someone, and we think it must be the same with God toward us.  I like what one commentator says, “Many wait to repent and ask forgiveness because they think that time might make God more forgiving.  That isn’t possible.  He is ready to forgive now” (D. Guzik).

God is ready to forgive, right now!  It doesn’t matter how we’ve sinned or how many times we’ve sinned, He is ready to forgive, and not only that it also says He is “abundant in mercy to all those who call upon” Him.

How about me?  Am I ready to forgive?  It isn’t always easy, and seems harder, to me at least, to forgive those closest to me.  There are times that I don’t want to let go of the hurt, I want to punish them for hurting me, by not forgiving.  But if I do that, then bitterness will take root and it will be even harder to let go and forgive.  I pray that God will not only teach me how to be ready to forgive, but also that He will remind me that He is there ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy, when I ask.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1John 19

by Becky Pham

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Are We Pilgrims Or Nomads (by Becky)

Last weekend at the women’s conference Pam Markey taught on pilgrimage using Psalm 84:5 as reference, which says, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You. Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”

What is a pilgrimage? The dictionary defines it as “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion.” I know that when I think of a pilgrim I envision someone who has packed up a few precious possessions – only what they can carry – and left their native home in search of a better life somewhere else. They know there will be difficulties, but they are willing to face the challenges, looking to the end, their new home.

That is what our lives as Christians are like. When we give our heart to the Lord, He sets our sights on heaven as our new home. This world becomes our ‘native home’ and we set off on our pilgrimage to heaven. We will face many challenges along the way but, OH our new home, what a reward!

There is a danger though of being nomads instead of pilgrims. A nomad is someone who wanders somewhat aimlessly. They don’t have a permanent home and they don’t have a goal where they are going. They simply wander from place to place seeking the best they can get in each place before moving on.

We as Christians shouldn’t be nomads, we know where we are going and we can be confident that we will arrive there someday. Jesus said “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Not only do we have a destination, it has been prepared for us by Jesus Himself!

So let’s travel our pilgrimage with purpose, and encourage one another along the way, especially when the road is not so smooth.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

                                                                                                   Philippians 3:20-21

Becky Pham

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Running, Donation And Jesus (but not necessarily in that order)

So what do those three things / person have in common, you might ask?  Perhaps nothing?  But for little ole me, they are three of my many passions.  And this week, I had the privilege of sharing them with others.  But I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to share these 3 things with so many people!

For World Kidney Day (8.March.2012), I was interviewed by the regional newspaper because I had donated a kidney 3 months ago (read the article here).  My first thought was, ok, cool, but I am sure they'll bury the article on some back page between the obituaries and the rental ads.  But lo and behold, they stuck the article on the front page!  Not just on the digital version of the paper, but also on the front page of the print edition!  And not only on the front page, but above the fold, in the middle!  With a huge photo even!  Must have been a really slow news day for them!  But, hey, WOW!  God is good!  I didn't know about the print edition until some moms from the kids' school met Becky at the classroom door, holding the paper up for her to see.

We were flabbergasted, so we had to go out and buy up all the copies in our valley.  Ok, maybe it was just a few copies.  Maybe I can autograph them and sell them on TradeMe or eBay!  ;-)  Yeah, right...

But seriously, for me, it was truly an honor to be able to speak for Jesus, my Savior, my All in All.  And also to be able to promote and raise awareness for organ donation and specifically kidney transplantation (have you considered it?).  And thirdly, of course, my new-found (well, of 2 years now) passion, running (did you notice the plug for the local half-marathon event in the article ;-) ).  And all in one shot!  And to so many people - I didn't realize how widely read this regional paper is!  Woohoo!  So I guess that is my 5 minutes of fame.  Or as they say here in Kiwi-land, 'today's news, tomorrow's fish & chips wrapping paper'!  How true!  That is exactly what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4.16 (NLT) - 'Endless crowds stand around him, but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.'

Anyways, here is a quote from the website of Fairfax Media, who I think is the parent company of the Dom Post.  It details the readership of the paper.  Wow.  Praise the Lord!

"Wellington is more than New Zealand's capital city. It is a vibrant and dynamic economic, cultural and social community. This energy is reflected in The Dominion Post, Wellington's daily newspaper with 132,000 Wellingtonians aged 15+ reading The Dominion Post each day. A total of 232,000 people from across central New Zealand and Wellington turn to The Dominion Post....[which] covers the second largest metropolitan urban area in New Zealand."

Sunday, 4 March 2012


According to the Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a height of 100 feet [30.5m] is composed of less than one glass of water. That amount of water is divided into about 60 billion tiny droplets.’   - Source Unknown -

I read this somewhere but can’t seem to be able to substantiate it 100%.  I have read elsewhere that one cubic mile (1.6 cubic km) of fog contains only about 2-4 liters of water!  Isn’t that amazing!  So little water can totally obscure our view of our surroundings.

I remember driving in the mountains once in fog so thick and dense that I had to slow down to about 5 kph and follow the painted center-line just to stay on the road!  And this with the mountain face on one side of the road and a drop-off of about 100 meters on the other!  I literally couldn’t seem more than a meter in front of the car

Isn’t that the same in our lives at times? Isn’t it so easy to let little things in our lives, those miniscule droplets of trials and hardships to completely cover us like a wet, depressing blanket?!  Even though it’s a small, insignificant thing, we allow it to grow into something enormous that obscures our view.  And this blanket of depression puts out the flame of faith, love, passion and service in our hearts and lives.  Amazing that such a small thing can do this!

Perhaps this speaks to you - have you let something small grow out of proportion?  Maybe it’s something someone said or didn’t say?  Or a co-worker who did something that offended you?  Or worry, anxiety, fear.  Or maybe it’s shame and humiliation over something small?  Or maybe it's a little seed of doubt, bitterness, unforgiveness, unrepentance that grow into huge vines that choke out joyful life.  Maybe it started out as molehills, but now are mountains.  Don’t let those little things turn into mountains - take heart…

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Turn! Turn! Turn!

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

As we have been studying through the book of Ecclesiastes, we have now come to this passage - probably the best known Bible passage in the world!  Well, I don't know about that exactly, but it sure seems like it.  It was made famous by the Byrds' version of  this song, titled Turn, Turn Turn (I think - any of you hippies out there know?).

In any case, here are some truths that we can pull out of this passage and apply to our lives today.  Look at the 2 words used - ‘season’ and ‘time’.   Now, there are 2 aspects of time.  There is a singular point in time, an event.  And then there is also a period of time, a season.  For example, Dec 25th, Christmas Day is a point in time, a singular event.  And then there is the Christmas season - a period of time that starts somewhere around Thanksgiving (although this season seems to start earlier and earlier each year!).  So what is the significance?

1. God has appointed times or events in our lives.  That is what it seems Solomon is referring to here.  God has appointed a specific time for everything.  There is no coincidence or chance with God - He is sovereign.  He appoints the good as well as ‘bad’ events.  Or at least ‘bad’ from our perspective.

These verses describe the totality of life in poetical form - from birth to death, and everything in between!  Solomon is saying there is an appointed time for everything in life.  It's not just bad luck or random chance, but it is God’s providence.

There is great comfort here - since God has appointed these times in our lives, He knows we are ready for them.  He believes we can handle them.  In fact, He gives us the strength, endurance and patience to go through these times - good and bad.

2. God has also appointed the seasons of our lives.  God has appointed a length of time, a season for everything in our lives.  Seasons are not forever.  The seasons of the year change - it is not forever winter.  This implies that there is a beginning and an end.  It is a definite length of time.  So in our times of hardship and difficulties, we can know it’s not forever but only for a season.  Only for a length of time that God has ordained.  It is not too long, nor too short - but perfect for us.

So again, take comfort - God has a time and season for everything.  There will come a time when winter turns to spring, when the deadness and barrenness fades away and life blooms once again.

3. Not only does God appoint these times and seasons, but He makes them beautiful. A few verses after the passage above, Solomon writes - 'He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time’ (Ecc 3.11).  Notice 2 things here…

First, ‘He has made everything’ - beginnings, ends.  Births and deaths.  Joys and sorrows.  Laughter and tears.  Peace and war.  Things that seem positive, but also things that seem negative.  God has ordained and appointed everything.  The situations we find ourselves in are not just a random string of events.  They are not out of control nor meaningless.  Not just chance or bad luck.  There is meaning to everything in life because God is working out His purpose.

Even those dead winter times are from God and will be used by Him for our good and His glory. Those times when we bear no fruit and it seems like we’re dead - or in situations that cause emotional and spiritual death.  Take fruit trees for instance, they don’t bear fruit all year long.  There’s a season when they need to be pruned and cut back.  And it seems drastic at times - often it has been cut back so much that there is only a stump left!  Yet, what is the purpose and goal?  That when harvest time comes around next season, they bear more and better fruit!  Isn't that what Jesus said in John 15.2b - ‘every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit’?  So we can be sure that EVERYTHING is in the hands of God.  He is in control, even when it seems our world is out of control.

Secondly, everything is ‘beautiful in its time’.  But you might ask - how can death be beautiful?  Or suffering?  Or loss, tears, pain?  The hard times and suffering might not be beautiful now, but in their God-appointed time, they will be beautiful.  Take for example the crucifixion of Jesus - His disciples didn’t think it was beautiful when it happened.  But when Jesus was resurrected and appeared to them, when they saw Him in the midst of their sorrow - they rejoiced!  They could see the beauty of the Cross (for the most part)!

And that is the key - when we see Jesus in the midst of our sorrow or pain, it becomes beautiful. Perhaps not while we're deep in the midst of sorrow, but in its time.  When that season is over and another starts.  And when we can recognize and accept that God was using the pain and sorrow to accomplish His plan and purpose in our lives.

So take heart - God has appointed times and seasons in our lives.  Good and bad ones.  Joyful and sorrowful ones.  But God also makes them beautiful in their appointed time.  Rest in that.

PS - the video is from YouTube and I can't turn off the ads.  Just close them when they pop up on the video.  Sorry.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Time For A Body-Slam!

Just read this article over on the Art of Manliness blog and LOVED it!  It is so true!  I think too often today, kids are coddled and babied.  They need to learn resilience, perseverance and toughness!  And horseplay and roughhousing is one small way that they can learn that.  Because, let's admit it, life ain't easy.  And you can't run away all the time nor run to momma or anyone else.  Sometimes you just gotta meet the conflict or problem head-on!  That takes perseverance and resiliency.

In any case, read the article - especially you dads.  I unashamedly quoted the whole article below.  But you can go here  (click on the link) to read the whole article on the Art of Manliness blog.  There is also a video that I can't copy over.

And excuse me now while I go body-slam my 5 year old daughter!  ;-)

Article is quoted in its entirety below...


The Importance of Roughhousing

With Your Kids

by Brett & Kate McKay on February 7, 2012

Roughhousing. Horseplay. Wrastling. Whatever you call it, it’s one of the best things about being a dad. I love chasing my one-year-old son, Gus, around the house or pretending that the living room is a lucha libre ring and wrestling with him. No matter how stressed out I’m feeling, hearing one of his big, belly laughs erupt as I swing him around like a monkey makes all my cares go away.

Unfortunately, in recent years, horseplay has gotten a bad rap. Parents, concerned about safety and preventing ADHD, limit the amount of rambunctious play their kids take part in. At least 40% of US school districts have eliminated or are considering eliminating recess, because  teachers need more time to cram kids’ heads full of information for standardized tests, because they’re afraid of children getting hurt and the school being held liable, and even because play can apparently encourage violent behavior; according to a principal that banned recess at her elementary school in Cheyenne, a game of tag “progresses easily into slapping and hitting and pushing instead of just touching.”

But recent research has shown that roughhousing serves an evolutionary purpose and actually provides a myriad of benefits for our progeny.  In their book The Art of Roughhousing, Anthony DeBenedet and Larry Cohen highlight a few of these benefits and the research behind them. Instead of teaching kids to be violent and impulsive, DeBenedet and Cohen boldly claim that roughhousing “makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.” In short, roughhousing makes your kid awesome.

Below, we highlight six benefits of roughhousing with your children. The next time your wife gets on to you for riling up the kids, you can tell her: “I’m helping our children develop into healthy, functioning adults, dear!”…right before performing a baby suplex on your daughter.

The Benefits of Roughhousing

Roughhousing Boosts Your Kid’s Resilience

Helping your child develop a resilient spirit is one of the best things you can do as a parent. The ability to bounce back from failures and adapt to unpredictable situations will help your kids reach their full potential and live happier lives as adults. And an easy way to help boost your kids’ resilience is to put them in a gentle headlock and give them a noogie.

Roughhousing requires your child to adapt quickly to unpredictable situations. One minute they might be riding you like a horse and the next they could be swinging upside-down. According to evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff in his book Wild Justice, the unpredictable nature of roughhousing actually rewires a child’s brain by increasing the connections between neurons in the cerebral cortex, which in turn contributes to behavioral flexibility. Learning how to cope with sudden changes while roughhousing trains your kiddos to cope with unexpected bumps in the road when they’re out in the real world.

Additionally, roughhousing helps develop your children’s grit and stick-to-itiveness. You shouldn’t just let your kids “win” every time when you roughhouse with them. Whether they’re trying to escape from your hold or run past you in the hallway, make them work for it. Playtime is a fun and safe place to teach your kids that failure is often just a temporary state and that victory goes to the person who keeps at it and learns from his mistakes.

Roughhousing also helps children learn how to manage and deal with pain and discomfort. You shouldn’t intentionally hurt your kids while roughhousing (obviously), but little bumps and scrapes are bound to happen. Instead of cuddling and kissing a child’s “boo boo,” dads have a tendency to distract their kids from the pain with humor or some other task. Learning to deal with and manage minor discomforts while roughhousing can help your child handle the stresses they’ll encounter at school and work.

Roughhousing Makes Your Kid Smarter

Image by ctsnow

Go ahead. Toss your kid like a sack of potatoes onto your bed. It will help turn him into a Toddler Einstein.

Psychologist Anthony Pellegrini has found that the amount of roughhousing children engage in predicts their achievement in first grade better than their kindergarten test scores do. What is it about rough and tumble play that makes kids smarter? Well, a couple things.

First, as we discussed above, roughhousing makes your kid more resilient and resilience is a key in developing children’s intelligence. Resilient kids tend to see failure more as a challenge to overcome rather than an event that defines them.  This sort of intellectual resilience helps ensure your children bounce back from bad grades and gives them the grit to keep trying until they’ve mastered a topic.

In addition to making students more resilient, roughhousing actually rewires the brain for learning. Neuroscientists studying animal and human brains have found that bouts of rough-and-tumble play increase the brain’s level of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF helps increase neuron growth in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, logic, and higher learning–skills necessary for academic success.

Roughhousing Builds Social Intelligence

I’ve talked to several parents, especially moms, who are afraid to encourage roughhousing because they think it will turn their kids into little bouncing-off-the-walls hellians who will someday wind up in a juvie center. I guess I can see the reasoning behind their concerns–five-year-old play fights with dad; five-year-old thinks violence is fun; five year old turns into violent sadist bent on human destruction.

The problem is that research actually shows the opposite outcome: children who engage in frequent roughhousing are almost always more socially and emotionally adept than kids who don’t. Dr. Stuart Brown, an expert on play (Yeah, you can be an expert on play. Who knew?) says that the “lack of experience with rough-and-tumble play hampers the normal give-and-take necessary for social mastery and has been linked with poor control of violent impulses later in life.” That’s right. Wrestling your kid around in a play fight ensures that he doesn’t turn into the next Ted Bundy. Keeping him away from the neighborhood cats helps too.

Roughhousing builds social intelligence in several ways. First, when kids roughhouse they learn to tell the difference between play and actual aggression. Dr. Pellegrini found in a survey among school-aged children that the ones who could tell the difference between play and real aggression were more well-liked compared to kids who had a hard time separating the two. The kids who mistook play for aggression often ended up returning their classmates good-natured overtures with a real punch in the kisser. The ability to differentiate between play and aggression translates into other social skills that require people to read and interpret social cues.

Roughhousing also teaches children about taking turns and cooperation. You might not recognize it, but when you horse around with your kids, you’re often taking part in a give-and-take negotiation where the goal is to make sure everyone has fun.  Sometimes you’re the chaser and sometimes you’re the chasee; sometimes you’re pinning down your kids and other times they’re pinning you down. Your kids wouldn’t want to keep playing if they were constantly on the losing side.  Everyone has to take turns in order for the fun to continue.

What’s interesting is that animals even take part in this back-and-forth role reversal. Adult wolves will expose their bellies and necks to their cubs and let them “win” the play fight. Stronger rats will handicap themselves during bouts of play and let the weaker rat win so play can continue. Marc Bekoff posits that roughhousing may be nature’s way of teaching cooperation to animals, a necessary skill for the survival of a species.

Roughhousing Teaches Your Kid Morality

We all want kids who end up like Atticus Finch–moral, upright, compassionate. That’s exactly why you need to body slam your kid every now and then.

When we roughhouse with our sons and daughters, they learn boundaries and the difference between right and wrong. If they start hitting hard, aiming below the belt, or becoming malicious, you can reprimand them and then show by example what’s appropriate roughhousing behavior.

Also, roughhousing teaches our children about the appropriate use of strength and power. As I mentioned earlier, when we roughhouse with our kids, we often take turns with the dominant role. Because we’re so much bigger and stronger, we have to handicap ourselves. The implicit message to your child when you hold back is: “Winning isn’t everything. You don’t need to dominate all the time. There’s strength in showing compassion on those weaker than you.”

Roughhousing Gets Your Kid Physically Active

Dads have a profound impact on their children’s physical fitness. Studies have shown that the father’s, (not the mother’s), activity level and weight strongly predict what their children’s activity level and weight will be as adults. If you want your kids to be healthy, active, and fit, then you better be healthy, active, and fit yourself.

What better way to teach your kids to live an active lifestyle than by getting down on the carpet with them for some vigorous roughhousing instead of everyone vegging out in front of the TV? All that running, tumbling, and tackling helps develop strength, flexibility, and coordination in your child.

Roughhousing Builds the Father-Child Bond

Some of my best memories of my childhood were when my dad roughhoused with my brother and I. When we were smaller he’d do the obligatory “ride the horsey.” When we got a little bigger we moved to slap fighting, which consisted of my dad dramatically swirling his hands in front of him like you see fighters do in the old kung fu movies and then very lightly smacking our heads with quick open-handed jabs. Slap fights were the best.

You probably have similar memories of roughhousing with your dad. Roughhousing offers dads a chance to physically show their affection to their kids in a fun and playful environment. When Gus and I wrestle, there are lots of hugs and kisses scattered in-between pretend sleeper holds.

When you throw your kids up in the air and catch them or swing them upside-down, you’re building your child’s trust in you. As they take part in somewhat risky activities with you, your kids learn that they can trust you to keep them safe. Just don’t be like this guy when you tell your kids to jump into your arms:

How to Roughhouse With Your Kids

The beauty of roughhousing is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Roughhousing is just spontaneous, improvised play that’s both rowdy and interactive. Don’t think too much about whether you’re doing it wrong or right. Just have fun.

With that said, the The Art of Roughhousing provides a few guidelines to keep in mind while you’re tossing your kids in the air:

Safety first. While you want to get rough and rowdy with your kids, you don’t want to get too crazy with them. Just be aware of your surroundings and keep your kids away from areas where they can get hurt. Also, keep in mind that a child’s joints are prone to injury when roughhousing. Save the joint locks for when your kids are older and fully developed.

Don’t roughhouse right before bed. For me, I have a tendency to want to horse around with Gus right before bed. I’m going to miss the little guy while he’s asleep, so I want to get in as much daddy time as I can before he hits the hay. But just like adults, kids need some time right before bed to relax and ramp things down so they can get into sleep mode. Unless you want a little night owl joining you on the couch to watch late-night TV, roughhouse earlier in the day.

Roughhousing is for girls, too.  While boys are naturally prone to engage in roughhousing, make sure you don’t leave your daughters out of the fun. Studies show that girls who roughhouse with their fathers are more confident than girls who don’t. And some studies even indicate that roughhousing can prevent your little angel from growing up into one of those Queen Bee, Mean Girls that psychologically terrorize other girls.

If you’re looking for specific things to do with your kids while roughhousing, I definitely recommend picking up a copy of The Art of Roughhousing. The book features some great suggestions for roughhousing fun, along with helpful illustrations showing you how to do them. Also, you can visit their website for roughhousing ideas, too.


The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen
Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce
The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland