Tracks In The Dust

A Father's Advice About Learning the Mission of Life

Archive for the tag “Family”

A Song Called “I Can Sleep Again”

I am sharing a song that was written by our children as a gift. Our children are the most precious things my wife and I have in our lives. This is a very special gift. Take a listen.


They are all over 20 years old and have found directions in their lives that are making them become the adults we had hoped they would become. They are also very much into music (much like their dad). This holiday 2 of our sons and our daughter were all at home and had time to visit with each other and remind themselves and us that they are truly brothers and sister in a family that loves each other.

During their time they created this song ( in the span of 2 days) . It is 4 1/2 minutes long and created on the spot during their visit. It is a song about “finding your way back” with the help of someone you love. Beautiful. Some production work from my son Ryan on his PC and it was presented to my wife and I. It has become the greatest Christmas gift we could ask for.

It will never be a top-hit on tomorrows Billboard charts, but it is something that we will always cherish.

If you can stream it and choose to find the time to indulge, I appreciate your listening. Just wanted to share it because I am very proud.

It's a song called "I Can Sleep Again" 
(© 2013 Ryan, Greg and Jennifer Gertenbach)

Good Parent/Bad Parent

Easy to read all of the comments these days about how parents are treating their kids.

Begining and End

The Internet and media are full of news about parents who have done “bad” things to their kids. Some of them life threatening, some of them much more subtle but damaging. As a parent the obvious conclusion is to compare and be sure that you are not one of those parents who damaged their kids futures from some sort of neglect. Who put them through hell during their childhood so that they would never be good kids or worse yet good adults when they grew up?

Always seems like someone has the best idea:  ” Spare the rod spoil the child.” “Teach the kids to be independent.” “Tell them how it really is.” “Make sure they understand that everything has consequences.” Or maybe for some they teach them ” there is always a way to get out of something.”

With so many influences outside a parents control- getting that fundamental core values have to be taught earlier and earlier. There is no shelter from the influences that are available today for kids in every age level.

So what are my wife and I ? Good parents? Bad ones?

I know I have my days where I guess I am pretty good. My kids have their own problems… did I dump them on them or did they collect their situations and predicaments all by them selves?

There are regrets as a parent, but overall you have to make the best of it. Some parents have much more success, while others seem to be constantly frustrated by their children- and cannot see why they had anything to do with it.

So I am guessing that is the fate of parents in general. They didn’t come with an owners manual when they arrived. Other than medical or convictions as reasons that they may not come to be; there are very few rules stopping someone from having one, even if they have very little experience or life lessons to reflect upon.   Yup, no license to be a parent, no manuals, no permissions to be obtained.  We parents have a lot of responsibility, but that is seldom accounted for as much until the day they are born… handed to you and you become a “parent” …. then the debate begins.

I love my kids (all 4 of them) and hope that they don’t blame us too much for the way they turned out. When they are doing good, we think that we did pretty good raising them; they think they did it all themselves. When they are doing poorly, we think it must have been some other reason than us; they think that it’s all their parents fault.

Either way – most of us do the best we can it seems.

Being Together At Christmas

I can’t shake it at this time of year. The decorations in front of houses, the hustle and bustle to run to get gifts for everyone. The music that makes up the soundtrack of Christmas. Live trees for sale on the corner lot, the mall Santa’s  with the lines of kids waiting to tell him about their wishes.


It brings back a glimpse of the days so many years ago when I was in elementary school. Anticipating the time off from school, where I lived there was predictable snow and time for sledding and snowball fights. Then there was the kids program at church were we dutifully acted out the Christmas story complete with shepherds, wise men and angels. It was classic indeed- but an important part of the meaning of our celebration.

The biggest anticipation is still solid today as it was then. Family and Friends. Getting the family and friends together to celebrate Christmas is still one of the genuine things about the coming holiday. As I have gotten older, the presents mean less, the observation of the birth of our Lord means much more… but the family means more too. In a different way than when I was younger, when it was about Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents, it is about my own family. My children are grown, and they are on their own for the most part.

It’s fun to see that with their own jobs and careers they are making personal gift decisions, trying to find that “special” thing that is in their budget- but thoughtful because they chose it without parents “help” when they were young. It’s also fun to know that on Christmas morning they won’t be scrambling for the crack of dawn to find the boxes under the tree. But It will be about being together, capturing the moment. Having the special meal of the day and some time recall those funny and special times from those younger days for them.

Okay – call me sentimental. It really is about being together. About capturing the special moments. Not in a picture on Facebook, not about Twittering out short sentences about the holiday. It’s about being able to take a deep breath, take stock of our blessings, praise the Lord for his coming and being a family in the best possible way.

Autumn Fishing Memories

autumn-lakeIt was the first days of autumn. I can still smell the mix of oil and gasoline from my dad’s Evenrude small engine.  We carefully slipped into the aluminum boat and shuffled our tackle to the middle. With a couple of pulls of the cord the engine stuttered on and we were off.

There was a light mist on the lake, In the early morning there wasn’t a lot of wind for a fall day. The lake was more like a mirror and the trees surrounding them had begun to turn colors, bright orange and reds and burnt browns. The color of the trees extended onto the small lake like dashes of fire as the sun came up in the east. The small motor didn’t disturb the water much, but moved our small flat-backed canoe forward slowly across the small lake with an echo.

Headed for a small bay off the shore of a marshy area things were optimistic for a catch. My dad would say that there was a special place- off the shore where fish would congregate. I always thought that kind of funny because I had thought of fish in schools, but his term made it sound like they were lined up for Sunday church. Where the small fish were the bigger fish were bound to be nearby feeding on the minnows. The large mouthed fish we were after were not quick to hit the bait, but when they did they would pull hard.

As we settled into the marshy inlet we heard some splashes of wild life on the shore. A muskrat perhaps, or a raccoon hiding behind the tall cat-tailed marsh grass. Some swirls in the water proved that there was opportunity under the water for a morning of success and surprise.

It was a very special time. No matter what the catch. Special because we had shared our bacon and egg breakfast in the first light of dawn, we had dressed for the chill of morning knowing that as the sun rose the temperature would rise with it. The early day would give way to blue sky and a beautiful fall day – what we called Indian summer.

I cherish those days even now . I wish I had spent more of those kind of days with my kids. They were special then and decades later they are still there – in my recollections of a time that will ever be imprinted on the  memory of my childhood.

I had some great times with my kids over the years and I hope they will remember them for the many years to come. My advice to you – to my kids. Embrace the memories, be conscious that they are there and soak them in.  They’re worth more than most any riches you can accumulate in your life.

This Never Happened Before

My wife and I find that things are quite different these days.

In Is In Your Hands

Maybe you could call it “empty nest syndrome” or something like that, but actually it is just more about becoming older. Not the kind of “older” that means turning into a senior citizen. But the older that is more about knowing who we are, what we want and what is important to us.

We have been living most our lives together headed toward the future. Getting married, finishing school, moving around the country to find the next part of a career to support our family, and owning a home. Kids, yes we wanted kids. When we were younger we would think that maybe six kids would be great – yup a big family. As we decided to have children we determined six was not in the plan after the 2nd one we knew . In the end, four was enough.

But we spent much of their lives ( our lives) as the grew up being sure they were healthy, happy ( too much about that sometimes). that they had a good moral compass, good work ethic, made good decisions ( believe me they did not always make good decisions… sometimes really really poor ones).  There to support them. It was our imperative. We love them. We wanted only the best for them and wanted to surround them with the things that matter (love would have been enough).

But now they are old enough ( all over 20 actually) and can make their own way through things each day. Just like my wife and I did when we were young. Oh we will be there for them whenever they need us, advice. sympathy, finances (sometimes), we enjoy and have excitement for their progress in the world.

But this never happened before: We have to make our way with our love to a new place, One that will be centered more around US and less around growing up with the kids in mind. We are what is needed for the future. We need to make that a priority.

Life is short, and it is definitely shorter on the downhill ride. Love my wife very much. This is the way it should be for lovers. 

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