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Archive for the ‘children’ Category

Play – Thoughts from Indonesia

In children, play, soccer on August 1, 2011 at 8:36 pm

By Gunnar Simonsen

Wonderland Park was the site of many epic battles back in the day where neighborhood friends would gather for day long mud bowls of football games. Back in the day, we would go outside and doing something many now have forgotten how to do…


It seems over time, we have simply replaced the art of playing with the art of hustling as we try to keep up with our friends and counterparts. It’s almost as if we are afraid to play, lest we miss out on something due to us being so wired up to the rest of the world.

In this, I believe we have lost something only now found in the place reserved for memories.

Remember what it felt like to play when no one was looking? For the love of friends and the innocent games we would play?

In the midst of the busyness of the city with its non stop traffic filled with motor bikes and small cars, dwelt a field. A field where the children would gather unbeknown to the world around them to do one thing…


I don’t know about you, but that looks fun.

Don’t you just want to… Play?

Take a moment today to give yourself permission to play today. If only for a moment, play. It will do your heart good.


My Dads Final Words to Me #FathersDay

In childhood, children, Dad, dads, Fathers Day on June 19, 2011 at 5:59 am

By Gunnar Simonsen

“I love you too.” were the last words he said to me. The next time I saw him, he took his last breath.

As the door was opening to the other side for my father, I got what I was looking for. It was like he knew.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love me, because he did. Dad was from a different generation that wasn’t as open with their emotions as we are today. Even still, all my life I longed to hear those words as if a sign of affirmation.

In this, I realize it is one thing to say it, but entirely another to reflect it.

All my life I longed for dads approval. Whether it was in sports, music, or just cracking jokes around the table, I wanted to know I had it. As I look back, I had it all along.

Today, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t tell my daughter I love her. Yet in this, I wonder if she will look back one day and say too… she knew it all along.

But something happened that moment when he spoke those 4 words in a frail voice laying in his bead under hospice care in a nursing home.

As selfish as it sounds on my part, my dad gave me the most important thing he could have given me and that in which I needed the most…

His word.

His word in a moment where every breath counted. In this, it was like at that very moment, saying those 4 words to me was the most important thing in the world for my dad.

My friends, when your children feel like they are the most important thing in the world… lives are changed forever.

2 days later, he had passed on to the other side.

It’s sad sometimes the fight relatives get into after a parent dies. Sadly it becomes a struggle over what is mine and what is theirs.

For me, I need nothing more for words and acts of love conquer all and have the power to send one forth in life with a posture of victory and not that of defeat.

In this, I was blessed to have that moment. Many do not for there are no guarantees in life. With this, all the more reason to not wait another day adding more items to the list of I wish I would have.

If forgiveness is needed, than it should be given.

If apologies are needed, then they should be offered.

There is no greater day than now. There is no greater moment than this. Do what must be needed to be done. May nothing stand in your way for it was also in those four final words that I received something else as equally as important…

A baton.

It’s mine turn now and I hope my daughter knows it along.

Thanks dad, I love you too!!!

The Other Side of the Fatherless Generation

In children, dads, fatherless, mentoring, parenting, parents on June 19, 2011 at 5:07 am

By Gunnar Simonsen

The other side of the father-less generation is… the father-less generation.

I have been thinking a lot about this recently. I have a good friend who wrote a book on this topic that also works with author, Donald Miller on his mentoring project.

When I read the stories, my heart breaks for these children without a father in their life. Quite frankly, in a grown up sort of way… it makes me think about my own father who passed away in 2003.

In my case, my loss was a part of life’s natural progression. As parents when we raise our kids, we do our best to aim them in the right direction. However, at some point… we need to let go of the arrow and hope we aimed well.

Sadly, for many kids… they don’t even get this chance.

But, what has stuck with me is what I am finding on the other side of this discussion.

Unfortunately, I am fairly confident there are no stats to support what I am about to say, but, there is another father-less generation out there that simply breaks my heart…

It’s a father-less generation of kids who have dads, live under the same roof, and yet still… don’t even “know” them.

With this, here is a message to me and other dads…

Put down the remote
Put down the cell phone
Put down the laptop
Open your eyes
Open your ears
Throw your watch away
…and figure it out!

You are a father… act like one.

There are way too many kids who don’t actually have father’s in their lives, and that is not their choice. Don’t be another stat.

With your child what are you doing right now to raise them right? To aim them well? and for them to know that they are loved?

It is not too late to begin.

No child should be father-less. Whether it be your own or through the amazing work of the mentoring project… we all have a role to play and I think… it is time for us to play it.

Do you see the whole story?

In abuse, anger, anxiety, children, coping, critical, critique, darkness, experience, growing up, homeless, hope, hopelessness, human being, judging, kids, least of these, life, listening, mentoring, opinions, people, perspective, potential, poverty, prison, purpose, reflection, relationship, relationships, society, treating people on March 13, 2011 at 12:42 am

By Gunnar Simonsen

“Before you talk, listen. Before you react, think. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try.” – unknown

I never could see past that which my eyes had seen.

He is a tall man with faded tattoos on his arms.

You could see life in the wrinkles of his face. If only each wrinkle could tell a story? They probably could, if I only I would ever take the time to listen. …or get close enough to listen.

When he was 7, he was first molested by a family member. By the time he was 12, he had been regularly molested by several different family members. He would often find himself locked up in a trailer in the backyard going days without food.

This was life as he knew it. The only family he knew were the very one’s that trapped him inside a web of self doubt and meaningless purpose as they returned to him… often.

STOP! Read the rest of this entry »

A Dad and His Daughter

In children, children smiling, Dad, dads, daughters, growing up, heritage, kids, legacy, life, life lessons, memories, parenting, perspective on February 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

By Gunnar Simonsen

A pink and purple kite swirls in the late afternoon sky as the sun shines brightly through the white and grey clouds.

Bundled up from the cold wind, I’m sitting pool side watching my daughter wade through 3 feet of water in the “kiddie” pool.

Occasionally glancing up, her eyes are never far from me as she turns and looks at me with a smile. Splashing herself wet she sits alone in the shallow end.

All around the sounds of children playing, water splashing, and parents talking, but she… she sits alone as if she is a part in a one-person play on stage. As she looks over at me…dipping side of her head in the pool, she smiles. And it is this smile that tells me that I am the audience and she is the performer.

“Watch me!” she says as she performs a most significant “leg stretch” as graceful as the now distant kite dancing above the ocean waves. This audience can only applaud this feat with a look and a smile as it [smile] dances across the now glimmering pool from the sunlight far above.

To be on the other side of that look is nothing short of amazing. And now…now it is my turn. I hope I do it well, I hope I do it often…

I guess I’m not too bad…as I look over at her, she’s looking back with a smile as wide as the moon and as bright as this late afternoon sun.


My daughter recently became a teenager. And like a blur, I find myself sitting here disoriented and wondering where time went.

I’m struck with the sobering reality found in the words of a friend…

“It took a lifetime to get them into junior high and like a week for them to be in college.”

Why does the passage of time seem to accelerate as the years go by?

I feel so hopeless in this pursuit, but such is life. It continues on and all I have is that moment and perhaps that look.

Will I be watching as she looks my way? Or will I be too busy doing something that at the end of the day… really doesn’t matter too much after all?

The choice is mine. God help me to make each choice count, because there is nothing like a smile as wide as the moon and as bright as this late afternoon sun.

Haiti Moment : Smile

In children, children smiling, earthquake, Haiti, Haiti Earthquake, homeless, hope, hopelessness, hospitality, least of these, missions, service, spirituality on February 4, 2011 at 5:46 am

What is it about children? I am well aware that my love for kids has grown dramatically in the past several months since brining our baby girl home from the hospital but most people would agree that there is something so spectacular about children.

Today we got to spend several hours with some of the children from a near by refugee camp. I cant even begin to describe to you how phenomenal these kids are. Their homes are now reduced to ruble since the earthquake hit but after spending most of the past 9 months in tents (and when I say tents I rally mean tarps) they were forced to move back to the homes they left because the recent hurricane flooded the tent cities.

Not only are the homeless, but many of the children were wearing the same clothes (if any) they had on when we first met them two days ago and few had shoes. Yet despite these subhuman conditions, these children never stopped smiling. They have more joy than any other people group or demographic I have ever seen.

Today we spent time moving gravel (only flooring for the lean to our missionaries created) and both times the children would literally take our shovels, wheelbarrows and rakes and start working. Though we couldn’t speak the same language and communication was rough, the experience was out second to none. Not only do they want to rebuild, they want to do it together, and in typical childlike fashion, they want to have fun. Read the rest of this entry »