Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Faith of a Child

When I taught my son to ride a bike, we of corse went through the mechanics of pedals and brakes. But I also told him stories. I told him the story of me trying to learn and flying over the handle bars in my parents front yard. I told him stories of biking around my small town and of the time I raced down hill and ended up riding half way down the gravel on my face.

Stories like that can do a lot of things. They can give you glimpses of the excitement to come. They can serve as warning to learn from. And they can show, despite the struggles, you can come out the other side. I hope that is what my bike riding stories did for my son.

That's the way it is with The Faith of a Child by Stefan Lanfer.

This is not a manual for father hood. Those are out there and they are important, but so are stories.

Lanfer explains in the preface that his wife was surrounded by a support group of women to guide her through the path of motherhood, but for him it consisted of primarily jokes about the sleep and golf that he would never see again.

In his own life Lanfer made a big pot of chili and invited men in his life to come over and fill him with their stories. It is one thing to know the mechanics of what will happen in the maternity ward, it's another to hear the stories of men who have been there.

And seeing that void, he wrote this book.

The chapters are short and easy to read. Written in a style somewhere between poetry and prose. Some stories are sad, some encouraging and some funny. Even as veteran stay at home dad for 10 years I enjoyed reading Lanfer's stories of becoming a father and of fatherhood. Some places our stories differ, but a lot of times it reminded me of some of those early years. So even if you have been a father for years you will enjoy reading someone else's journey.

The real target audience is the expectant father. The one who has yet to journey down the path. I think these stories will do the same thing they did for my son learning to ride his bike.

So my suggestion is when you have a friend that is on the path to fatherhood and the women are putting together a shower to celebrate the mother, make a big pot of chili and invite other friends who are on their various fatherhood paths to come and fill the expectant dad with their stories. Then give them this book to continue hearing stories as they continue their journey.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day*


My mom was born the youngest of 8 in St Joseph, Il. Her family wasn't well off, so my mom never got the opportunity to purse an education past high school. I know my mom too of work when I was born, but I cannot remember a time when she didn't work.

My mom started in banking as a teller. I saw her work hard and slowly ascend the corporate ladder becoming Vice President. She was part of a core group of people that opened a new bank in Champaign, Il.

I never had any negative feelings about my mom working. In fact, I cannot imagine my mom not working. It is part of who she is. I don't know if she will ever retire.

In my life my mom has taught me a lot. She has taught me practical things like how to cook or do my own laundry, she wanted to raise a son that could be independent. Through her life she also taught me the value of a honest days work, of perseverance and the importance of education, both in and out of the classroom. She taught me that a strong, working woman can also be a great mom.

I am thankful for my mother. For everything my mom taught me. But most of all I am thankful she is my mom.


My wife is an amazing woman. She is beautiful and smart and loving and funny and my best friend. I cannot imagine any one else I would rather travel through this life with.

She is a wonderful mother. The way our life has played out she has been the bread winner for our family. I am thankful for the sacrifices she makes everyday for me and the kids.

She is a wonderful doctor, loved by her patients. I cannot tell you how many times someone found out I was her husband and told me how much they love her. The truth is she would also be a great stay at home mom. Some days I feel guilty that I cannot give her the same opportunity to experience what she had provided for me.

So on this Mother's Day I am thankful for my bride, my partner, my best friend and above all, the wonderful mother to our two boys.

*Yes, this is a day late. Monday is my blog update day, and while I had this written on paper I was too busy enjoying Mother's Day with my family to get it online.

Photo Credits: Cooper Welch

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Noah built an arky, arky, later he got drunky, drunky

If you haven't heard Noah's Ark has been in the news

Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you've ever stepped foot in church or not, you probably know the basics of the Noah story. And you've likely seen pictures of a happy, smiling Noah pained in church nurseries and kids rooms.

But let's look at the story of Noah. It only takes 6 chapters in Genesis to get creation from "It was good" to God being sorry he had ever made anything.

"So the LORD said, "'I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.'" - Genesis 6:7

So God has Noah build a big boat, take his family and a bunch of animals and it starts to rain. Now imagine not only having to live in a floating zoo for a month and a half, but everyone you ever knew is drowning outside. I mean really imagine that. Everyone you ever said "Hi" to on the street. The kid you saw playing with a stick. The mother nursing her newborn. All of them drowning outside your door. After a week or so these bodies would likely start floating to the surface. Besides the stink of living in a zoo a sea of dead bodies floats around you.

And what does Noah do once the waters recede? He plants a vineyard. He makes wine. He gets drunk and naked. (Genesis 9:20-21)

While being a flood victim obviously sucks, maybe being a flood survivor kinds sucks as well.

So the next time you are considering decorating your kids room, think about Noah, but maybe don't make him look quite so happy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A brief history of my life as a SAHD

Now that I am getting back into blogging I thought it might be nice to share a little history of my journey and why I am a SAHD.

In late Nov. 1999 my first son was born. At the time my wife was in residency and I was woking at the University of Louisville. If you know anything about residency you know that your life is not your own. I primarily designed and maintained web sites, so my bosses were gracious enough to let me work in the office in the mornings and telecommute in the afternoon.

Those were both exciting and tiring times. I would take my son to daycare in the morning and go to work. At lunch time I would leave the office and go pick him up. I would juggle taking care of him and getting work done. My wife would often have to spend the night at the hospital or would be so tired that she was mainly sleeping when she was home. So I learned how to do things like shower, get dressed and work on the computer while taking care of an infant. My hat goes off to parents who have to raise children by themselves.

When my son was 18 months old my wife finished residency we moved to Illinois and I became a full-time SAHD. We lived close to my parents, had a church family we loved and made friends quickly. I knew what I was doing was not the "traditional" family structure, but I had a good support systems in place.

This was the rockiest time in our marriage as we both developed our roles and the expectations for those roles. It took some time but we both settled into our roles.

After a year we realized that the job in Illinois just wasn't going to work out. So after 18 months in Illinois we moved to Minnesota.

By this time our son was 3. After about 6 months we started to settle in. My son and I spent a lot of time at the community center and the started going to preschool a couple of afternoons a week. We found a church and I poured a lot of my time into volunteering.

While we were a long way from family we were developing lots of relationships. My wife was a beloved part of our community and I was a regularly working at our church and my sons school. During that time we had our second son and my role as SAHD expanded.

Then my wife came to a point where she was getting burned out on call. She received a job listing for a position in St Louis that wouldn't involve call. After 5 years in Minnesota we packed out things and moved to St Louis.

For one of the first times in my journey I really felt isolated. We found a church but a combination of volunteer burn out and my nagging questions about the role of the church kept me from becoming heavily involved. I tried finding some play groups, but they were all moms. While I appreciate their willingness to welcome me into the fold I never really felt connected.

I had heard about the at home dad convention before and played with the idea of going, but it was never really a priority. In 2009 I decided to attend and in October I made the 6 hour drive to Omaha to attend my first convention.

So here I was in a town I've never been to before with a group of people who I never met and I wasn't sure what to expect. But here I am hanging with 50 guys, all the primary care givers for their families. There were instant connections and after 3 days I was exchanging email addresses and facebook info and making friends that I may not see every day, but I know will be friends for life.

But more than just making friends I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself. Bigger than my triumphs and struggles as a SAHD. I wanted to support it. I wanted to be part of the group working to normalize the option for dads to take care of their kids.

There are two kinds of SAHDs: those who make a conscious choice to stay at home and those that have it thrust upon them. While it can happen to either group, especially the later group can feel overwhelmed. If their families, their communities, even their churches are telling the it's wrong, if they say you're going against God or nature, you cannot do it, it is easy to feel dishearten and demoralized.

So for those dads, for any dad who stays at home and has felt isolated, who has been told they cannot raise their kids because of their gender, who feel overwhelmed and under appreciated: it is because of those dads I have become active in our at home dads group. It is because of those dads that I want to share my story, my struggles and successes and say, "you can do it." It is for those dads I have decided to blog again.

If you are one of those dads I, and a bunch of other guys, want to support you. If you cannot find a dad's group near you I encourage you to join the online community. If you need someone to talk to send me and email or friend me on facebook. If you want to talk by phone I will send you my number. And I encourage you to come to the at home dad convention. Spend an October weekend in Omaha with me and a bunch of other guys doing the same things. Some are just starting their journey as an at home dad and some have years of experience to share. Take a weekend to be part of that community and make some friends you will have for the rest of your life.

And if you are one of those dads who is comfortable in their role and has a good support system, then I encourage you to come to the convention and share your story with other dads. Become part of the community not because you need the other dads but because there are other dads who need you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

you don't have to be a conservative christian to be a jerk

Thank you Joy Behar and George Lopez for showing that Mark Driscoll and John Hagee aren't the only jerks who don't understand stay-at-home dads.

It seems to me that politics (for lack of a better term) isn't a straight line but a circle. The farther you get to the left or the right the closer you actually get.

Thus the reason 2 people on the left and on the far right come to the same conclusions. It's not just stay-at-home dads. With issues like swine flu vaccinations.

Let me be clear on one thing. Joy Behar and George Lopez don't represent everyone on the left any more than Mark Driscoll and John Hagee represent everyone on the right. I'm just saying if you go far enough the ends tend to touch.

So for all the people, on either side, who think that a dad staying home to raise their kids is wrong. Go ahead. You are entitled to your opinion. (and I'm entitled to mine, which happens to be you are kind of an ass)

But I love my kids. I love being involved in their lives. Raising them to be men of integrity and kindness and humility and passion is the major goal in my life. And I am happy with that.

And I am thankful for the brotherhood of other men doing the same thing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mark Driscoll and Stay-at-home Dads

The video of Mark Driscoll and his wife answering a question about stay-at-home dads is not new, but it has started a new round on some blogs I read. You can watch the video here:

If you want a better understanding of what woking @ home or a exegesis 1 Tim 5:16 then check out this article:

What Does "Workers at Home" Really Mean?

I am a stay-at-home dad, and after watching Driscoll I feel no need to repent. From that you likely know my stance on Driscoll's statements.

What I want to explore is how we see the Bible. Why does Driscoll feel the need to take a passage so obviously out of context to defend his world view.

"Who says life doesn't come with an instruction manual? I have one and it's called the Holy Bible."

A lot of Christians see the Bible as God's instructional manual for life. Have an issue, check the instruction manual. Don't know if something is right, check the instructional manual.

This is where we get into trouble.

The Bible has been canonized and it's not like God could forget something, so if the Bible is life's instructional manual then everything has to be in there. God cannot be silent on a subject. But if you look up "stay-at-home dad" in your concordance it's not there.

So what to do.

It's time for God's great scavenger hunt. Going through verses of the Bible to answer your question. Most often what we do is we go to the Bible to find passages that support our point of view.

I'm sure that Driscoll thinks that SAHDs are lazy and weak. But it can't be just his opinion. He needs it to be God's view as well so he goes to the Bible and for verses to back his point of view. No matter if he is jamming a a square peg into a round hole. Because the answer has to be in the Bible.

And Driscoll is the pastor, the answer man. He cannot reply, "I don't know." He is the leader. The one to instruct his followers. He has the knowledge and connection to God that you cannot, so he will tell you what you can do and what you cannot. He will tell you what books you can read and which ones you cannot. He will decipher the Bible for you so you know what is a sin and what is not.

The problem with pastors like Driscoll is not that they are not fans of SAHDs. The problem is they try to convince other people that their thoughts are also God's thoughts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

my letter to Congressman Akin

Dear Congressman Akin,

I am relatively new to Missouri (2 years) and I live in St Charles County. I consider myself to be a right of center moderate and I generally vote Republican.

I'm not writing you to try to convince you of my political positions. What I am asking as a constituent, a Missourian, an American and as a Christian is for you to be one of the leaders in Washington to calm the rhetoric.

I know you are not responsible for people who comment on your facebook page, but there are people who respect you and thank you for your service that comment about how America is becoming a dictatorship. Your use of the phrase "government takeover" isn't helpful. It is like saying 1906 was the government takeover of the meat industry.

But you can speak out. You have the platform to stand up and let people know that because someone disagrees with you politically that does not make them less American or mean we are heading toward a dictatorship.

Your biography says that you are a leader in your church. You know that one of Jesus' ministries was that of reconciliation. He told us not just to love our friends but our enemies, to repay evil with good. If we cannot stand up and calm down the rhetoric of people across the aisle then I hardly believe we are living up to what we are called to do.

I am not asking you to change your opposition to the bill. If you feel that it is something you need to fight against and need to campaign to repeal then do so. But I have to imagine that is possible without playing to the fears of people making them believe that people who support the bill are less than American.

So I ask you to stand up and be a voice of reason. To work to calm down your rhetoric and those of your colleagues. To get online and say that the people you represent that you oppose the bill, will fight to repeal it, but this IS the democratic process.

Thank you.


Chad Welch