Guest Post By Chris Yielding
Growing up, some of my best memories came from times that I got to spend with Dad or Pawpaw, and the majority of these memories revolved around hunting or fishing. Turkey hunting trips with Dad, running yo-yo’s with Pawpaw in the bayou, or trout fishing with both of them, my fondest memories are filled with my two real-life heroes and soaking in God’s world.
Both Dad and Pawpaw have since passed on, but these memories are just as strong in my mind as if they just occurred last week. It was during these outings that I developed my close bond with both of these men, as well as getting to witness the beauty of the natural world that God created. But, how it often goes in life, I did not truly appreciate the gifts that I was being given. Time with them and the experiences we shared still play a big part in who I am today.
Investing in the Future
1 Peter 5:2-3
2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Now that I am a father, with three beautiful, young kids, I see the importance of sharing these events. I appreciate how they can have such a positive impact on my kids, and honestly, they have a big impact on me as well.But, if I am honest with you, I have to admit that it is not always easy. Which also makes me appreciate Dad and Pawpaw even more. As all parents know, things usually go a lot faster and smoother if you do not take your young kids along! My wife, Winter, and I have three kids, ages 5, 4, and 2, so any event involving at least one of the kids will be at least tripled in time!
Would small events like this be “easier” without a kid tagging along? Of course it would be easier. But by taking them along with you, you are really having a bigger impact on them than you could ever imagine. And, like I mentioned earlier, I still struggle with this at times. Like most families, our lives are very hectic. Three kids, two of which are in school, both parents having full time jobs, as well as side jobs, and with all of the responsibilities and obligations of this world, creates a very chaotic, sometimes stressful life. So it can be very tempting to take the easy way when available. But, that is not what we are called to do. After supper, when I go feed dogs, it would take 15 minutes for me to knock it out on my own. But in 25 minutes or so, I could do the same job with one of my kids. I don’t always take them, but when I do, we always have a good time. And I am working to take them with me more and more.
But, even though it takes longer to include your kids, it is important to remember the bigger picture. For one thing, it is close bonding time for you and your child. It gives them a chance to see things that are important to you, such as hunting or fishing, and for them to learn about it. It’s also a priceless opportunity to show your children that they are of utmost importance to you. This can really help get them interested in the same types of things that you are interested in.
Little Moments and the Bigger Picture
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
A year ago, I took my five-year-old, when she was four, on her first deer hunt, on opening day. We have a big platform stand and a pretty good deer set up. I really thought we had a good chance to see some deer, which was my biggest hope. She was so unbelievably excited!
Now understand, Abigail is the most talkative girl that I have ever seen. And she does not talk very quietly, to say the least! But, this girl was so quiet in the stand on our hunt. The only noise she made was when she opened her peanut butter crackers. She did ask me a few questions, but she did it quietly each time. I didn’t even know she knew how to whisper!
We were having a great time, hanging out, having daddy-daughter time, when a doe stepped out into the clearing in the woods. I pointed her out to Abigail, and she got very excited, but stayed quiet. Our farm has a good number of deer on it, and we have some very large bucks on it too; it is a great place to deer hunt. I was not surprised to see the doe at all, and I was content to watch her feed, and hope a big buck would step out soon. I have no problem shooting a doe, we have too many of them on our farm. But on opening day, shooting a doe never crossed my mind, until a sweet, little voice spoke up. “Why aren’t you shooting her, Daddy?” Abigail asked, with the most innocent, confused look on her face.
I could see her point, we came here to shoot a deer, and now God had placed a deer right in front of us, so why weren’t we shooting her???!!! It was then that it really hit me. My little princess wanted so badly to go hunting with Daddy. We have had a blast and have really enjoyed each other’s company. She is excited about me shooting this deer. If I don’t shoot her, Abigail may not ever want to come with me again. Right now God has given me this opportunity to hopefully get her hooked on hunting, and time with her dad.
It didn’t take me long to decide what I needed to do. I explained to Abigail that I was about to shoot the deer, and that there would be a loud “Bang” and the deer would die. I assumed I would hit her; she was only about 25 yards away!
Abigail’s face lit up! She was so happy we were going to kill this deer. I put my 30-06 up to my shoulder and found the doe in my sights. I lined it up, and squeezed the trigger. Bang!!! And the deer dropped! As soon as the deer hit the ground, Abigail yelled something that I will remember until the day I die. She stood up, pointed her finger at the doe, and yelled “You’re not going anywhere now, deer!!!” with the biggest grin possible.
This was truly a proud Daddy moment for me. We got down carefully from the stand and walked over to the doe. Abigail was so excited to see her up close. She petted on her and felt her fur. But she didn’t get sad at all that the doe was dead. She then poked the deer on the rump and said, “We’re going to make jerky out of you!”
That was one of Abigail’s favorite memories; I still hear her tell that story. But it is also one of my best memories, one that I will treasure forever. Audrey was too young to go then, but hearing Abigail talk about it really got her wanting to go. So this year she will be old enough and she is so ready to go! I look so forward to getting similar experiences with her.
As a dad, God has blessed me more than I could ever deserve. It is my duty to do what I can to help raise my kids the best way possible. I am a firm believer that the best way to raise your kids is in the outdoors with you, creating bonds that will last a lifetime. No matter if it is running trotlines in the early morning, to cleaning a deer after dark, or loading up a few retrievers and taking them to the pond for a training session, time in God’s beautiful world with our kids helps lay the best foundation for their future.
A Captive Audience
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Sharing the outdoors with your children provides you a time to talk with them, without the distractions of TV, or toys, or even brothers and sisters. I like to take my kids one on one with me, when I can, to help give us a better bonding experience. This also gives us a great opportunity to talk about God. We are in His natural world, so it easily opens up the conversation about what all He has created. From the fish, to the lake, to the birds in the sky, it is very easy to point out His beautiful creation.
We shouldn’t take the opportunities God has placed in front of us for granted. If we do not teach our kids about the outdoors when they are young, by the time they are older, they will have other interests and not want to spend time with us in the outdoors. But if we lay this groundwork, they will hopefully be anxious to go hunting or fishing with us when they are free to make their own choices. Time with our family is a blessing from God!
Chris Yielding runs Backwater Cypress Retrievers in Central Arkansas. backwatercypress.com