Browse Category: Family Time

Olivia Turns Three!

There are some days when you just need to be goofy:

Make Your "I'm Three" Face!

I am one of “those Dads”.

I take pictures with my phone all the time. Goofy ones.

I need to remember, however, that all pictures don’t necessarily need to be tweeted or FB’d, but that’s a different story.

With that being said, my middle girl turned three last Saturday! Cliché as it is, time flies.

Each one of our kids is exceptionally unique. Sophia (4) is our “beat-to-her-own-drum” one. Harper (1) is our “laid-back” one. But, if I had to describe Olivia in five words, she is:

  • Smart (very verbal and probably more articulate than me sometimes. LOL!)
  • Kind (always willing to share, give hugs, and make people laugh)
  • Glamorous (always wearing a crown, necklace or princess dress)
  • Fearless (ask her to do something, she’ll do it)
  • Fiesty (even sweet girls can be strong-willed at times!)

My little smart, kind, glamorous, fearless and fiesty girl turned 3 this past weekend. Can’t believe it!

Happy Birthday, Olivia!


If you had to describe your kid(s) in one word, what would you use?

The Salvation Stick

After seeing the idea on Pinterest, Jen created this bucket of “prayer sticks” to include in our girls’ night-time routines. We wanted to be intentional in praying for specific people and things. It clever, unique, and our girls love it! (Now they close their eyes, pick out a stick, and get all excited!)

Earlier this week, Sophia (4 yo) pulled out the “Salvation stick” — the one that just says Salvation… where we, as parents, get the opportunity to explain what this means to our kids in the most simplest terms. The girls turned to me for an interpretation, and…

…I was speechless. <<Crickets>>

Like a clunker with a burned out engine, I stalled.

Thankfully, the kids probably didn’t think anything of the quick 5-second pause, and Jen stepped in and told them what we believe: God loved us so much that Jesus came to earth so we can have a relationship with Him. It’s not anything we did or can do, but because of His grace and love. 

In a sense I know I was caught ‘off guard’, but I should be able to explain my faith to someone. Let alone explain it at it’s most granular level, right?

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

In any event, I’ll be ready next time my girls select that particular stick. :)


Does your family have any unique ways to include God in the everyday routines?
How would you explain ‘salvation’ to a 4-year old?

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours: Merry Christmas from the Valencias!


I’ll be breaking from blogging until the New Year to spend some time with these three little rascals (and fantastic wife)! See you on the flip side!

A Dedication Celebration

Our church decided to do something different with their Baby/Child Dedication service this time around. Instead of traditionally including it as part of their Sunday-morning service, we had a separate gathering later on in the day — specifically for those children being dedicated and the family and friends invited to celebrate alongside of the families doing so.

In short, we loved the change for two specific reasons: 1) it made us, as parents, to be purposeful in our actions and intentions in wanting Harper to be a part of something like this, and 2) it allowed those family and friends to share in this special moment (we all gathered in tables, had time to share, etc.).

As part of this post, I wanted to share what Jen and I came up with as part of our “homework” (yes, we had homework prior to the service!). We ended up sharing this with our table of family and friends, and wanted to share it with you as well!

Write a description of the kind of person you hope to see your child become by the time she turns 18. What kind of person do you hope to see? What kind of heart do you want to develop in her?
Our hope is to see Harper become a woman who passionately loves God. Above all, we want her to  recognize her need for Him. Additionally we want her to be someone who values other people, is compassionate and kind, extends grace and second changes, and is intentional about serving and preferring others. We want her to have a heart that honors God in all that she does, every decision she makes, and every relationship she has. More than a title or worldly status, we want her to be confident and secure with her identity as a child of God.

What will you do to invest in yourself and your relationship with your spouse?
We will openly share the ups and the downs of our family with our kids. We will prioritize our relationship by protecting “us” time. We will regularly seek godly counsel.

What steps will you take to grow in your relationship with God?
We will faithfully serve in a local church by generously giving our time and resources. We will frame the way we discipline and parent against Biblical truths. We will look to personally grow our relationship with God through Bible study, prayer, and intentional community.

Those three questions allowed us to personally reflect on how our decisions now will influence young Harper’s life. Challenging and humbling at the same time. Ultimately, with the help of those around us, we want our lives to help point her life to Christ.


Thinking about your own children, what are your thoughts on those three questions?
Have you ever participated in a celebration service like this? 

A View To Remember

Savannah River, Nov 2011

While we were in Savannah a couple weeks back, I was able to take a breathtaking picture on my phone of the river/downtown area. The view set against the water and clouds was something to remember. And I’m glad I was able to capture this moment with my wife.

I’ve experienced a few of these moments in my life: 1) driving through the Swiss Alps 10 years ago (still have a picture somewhere), 2) standing at the top of Mt. Toubkal in Morocco, 3) Skiing the back-bowls in Vail, and 4) kayaking down a local river with Jen last year.

It’s during these times when I’m reminded by God about how big and generous He is to us. Not just because of our circumstances, freedoms or possessions, but also for the enormously beautiful creation He’s blessed us with.

On top of that, I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to stop and be grateful.


Best view you’ve experienced? Better yet–do you have a picture to share? 

A Place Only You Can Go

Jen and I went to the NEEDTOBREATHE show at the Georgia Theater in Athens last night. Let’s just say that getting home past 1:30 AM and running on 4 hours of sleep is so worth it. The show was incredible! Other than not playing ‘Slumber’ (wha!?), each and every song they played was fantastic. The highlight for me was when they went from “The Reckoning” to U2’s “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” to “Stones Under Rushing Water”. The passion, the heart, the harmonizing vocals… certainly a stretch of time I wish I had on video.

For their encore, they played a couple songs up on the balcony/second level. One song I did catch on video was “A Place Only You Can Go” – a quiet, yet strong song with powerful lyrics. If you’re not familiar, here is a snippet of words from the middle of the song:

Take my notions and words to heart
This is the cry of a man
I can’t bring you fortune or noble life
But I’ll love you all I can

Oh I know this song won’t do
Enough to prove my love to you
In my heart you’ll always know
There is a place only love can go
There is a place only you can go

And the song (shot from my phone):


What was your first concert? Most recent concert?

I’m A Cranky Runner

Bling Bling!

This weekend Jen and I ran the inaugural Savannah half-marathon. If you’re a runner and enjoy fun races–be sure to check out the Rock n’ Roll marathon series, we’re fans. With most of their races you can chose between the full and half marathon. With Savannah being so close, and this being the city’s “first”, we decided to make a long weekend of it!

Before I share what I want to share, let me tell you one thing: I am a cranky runner.

I pout. I quit. I remain silent.

There’s no other way to say it: I’m a cranky runner.

But, even in my ‘weakness’, my lady loves and prefers me.

She smiles. She presses on. She encourages.

At nearly every mile marker there was an encouraging voice saying, “You’re doing great! Keep it up, D! Feelin’ good!”

In the end, we casually ran 13.1 miles and enjoyed it together.

With the help of Jen, we pressed on and didn’t stop (other than to pee on a tractor–different story for another day).

A little encouragement literally goes a long way.


Are you a cranky runner?
Who has encouraged you lately?

3 Lessons from The Carrot Seed

The Carrot Seed

Sophia received a copy of The Carrot Seed for her 4th birthday last week. I’m not up to speed on classic children’s books, but my wife is. Apparently this 1945 piece of literature by Ruth Krauss is the cream of the crop when it comes to children’s picture books. Let’s just say I cannot disagree with that.

It chronicles the tale of a small boy who plants a carrot seed and, despite others’ telling him “it won’t come up”, sees it sprout into a spectacular, award-winning carrot.

It’s short, uncomplicated and undeniably straightforward.

It’s the perfect book for a four-year old!

As I’ve read the book with my girls this past week, three specific and distinct lessons are conveyed:

1. Simplicity. You can read the book in less than 5 minutes. It’s short and to the point; yet, the lessons conveyed are deep and meaningful. Sometimes we try to over-analyze and lead with the mindset of information-overload (“got to make sure all bases are covered!”), but in the end, a simple phrase can resonate and speak to a person in a much more powerful way.

2. Conviction. The little boy’s faith is steadfast. Even with his parents and older brother opposing his ‘mission’, he remained true to his belief that the carrot would one day sprout. How often do we allow our dreams to be discouraged by a naysayer, or forsake our conviction in what is right for the pleasure in the moment?

3. Persistence. When the possibility of doubt crept in, the boy did not give up. He pressed on in the face of adversity by remaining faithful. The book said that he “pulled up the weeds around it every day and sprinkled the ground with water”. What weeds need pulling and ground needs watering in our lives?

Books like The Pursuit of God, Radical, and The Ragamuffin Gospel are great, but sometimes God uses the simplest of of stories to touch our hearts.


What is your favorite children’s book? What do you like about it?

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