Category Archives: Parenting

“Enjoy the Little Things…”

Enjoy the little things,
for one day you may look back and realize
they were the big things.

~Robert Brault

via Slowing to See

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Summer Family Project Ideas


Hmm… I came across this intriguing post from a blog entitled True Woman (interesting reading I do, eh?!). It has to do with summer time projects that families can do with some of the freedom they have in the summer. I thought the article was worth sharing. You can read the post below or go to its original location here:

I’ve noticed a strange look on the faces of my friends with school-aged kids lately. It’s a look I see about the end of May every year. It’s one part delight and two parts panic, and I think I know the source—school’s out for summer! For many moms, that means having all of their children home all of the time.

Many families I know take the summer fun approach. They fill their days with trips to the pool, excursions to the lake, and movies in the afternoon. I’m all for fun summers. I love to take my boys swimming, cool off with red popsicles, and stay up late enough to catch lightning bugs in old mason jars.

But, I think summer also offers a unique opportunity to do ministry together as a family. A whole lot of free time offers a whole lot of opportunities to reach out to others and minister side by side. If your kids can get a taste of the value of serving like Jesus did, they’ll be learning an important lesson.

So, here’s a starter list of family summer ministry ideas:

Help with Vacation Bible School
Many churches host VBS during the summer. Instead of just sending your kids off to attend, grab your pre pre-teens and teens and get involved yourself with serving. If your church doesn’t have a VBS, look for ways to serve in another church, or launch a one-day VBS for a few kids in your neighborhood.

Plan a local short-term missions trip
You don’t have to be a missionary to take a missions trip. Simply think of a group of people who have a need, and find a way to meet that need while sharing the love of Jesus. You can go for a day, a weekend, or a week. Here are a few missions trips my family have done:

  • Clean up a playground in a low-income housing area, and then offer a free hot meal to the residents (hot dogs and chips work great!).
  • Find an area of your state that has been impacted by a natural disaster, and get plugged in with a relief organization such as the Red Cross or Samaritan’s Purse.
  • Ask your pastor for a list of widows or shut-ins, and call and offer to do lawn work for free during the hottest days of summer.
  • Call that same list of widows and shut-ins and offer to bring them fresh produce from your garden. They likely don’t have the oomph to garden themselves, but would love to share in the bounty of your back yard.
  • Call your local pregnancy care center and offer to come and sort supplies for moms in need.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless!

Serve lemonade
Encourage your children to set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for people in need. Even young children will enjoy creating and decorating a lemonade stand, making lemonade and treats, and collecting money from “customers.” (I would recommend calling friends and neighbors and encouraging them to stop by). Then, give your child a few options of organizations and let them go with you to deliver their hard-earned money.

Adopt a family
Not every momma gets to stay at home with her kids in the summer. This can be especially true for single moms. That means some kids are left to fend for themselves while their parents work. If you know a family in this situation, offer to take the kids during the day for the summer, and be sure to specify that you don’t expect any payment in return. Will it be a sacrifice? You betcha! But God’s Word urges us to look after each other in practical ways like this. Be intentional about looking for a family that you can help by being generous with your time.

Chalk up some blessings
Grab the sidewalk chalk and hop in the car to visit people in need of an extra boost. Write an encouraging message in chalk on their sidewalk or front stoop, or write out a verse that is applicable or encouraging. Taking the time to give an encouraging word can go a long way . . . doing so in bright colored chalk is even better!

Summers provide a unique opportunity for families who have the time and flexibility to break free from routine. Using that window to serve others in Jesus’ name is one of the  best uses of your family’s time. Any other ideas? How can your family minister together this summer?

via True Woman

Integrity in Our Play


This article is a re-post from a campaign/emphasis we did at Hayward Wesleyan called “Ablaze for God.” We did a series of devotionals for that week on a blog you can find here. I wrote a few of those devotionals that I recently re-read and thought I should re-post another one of them here:

“Jeremy, you’re no good when the TV is on.” This is true. When the TV is on in my home, I am drawn to its pulsating orb of light! Maybe because I am an extremely focused person. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing when I don’t want to be distracted; a curse when I want to be distracted! Watching television allows me to focus on a mind-numbing task rather than an intense one. Which frustrates my wife and now my daughter [I currently have two daughters] because I often go too far in the mind-numbing department. I become “no good” to anyone (let alone the two [now three] people I love the most in my life!).

So how does one relax from a long day’s work (or long week’s worth of work) without escaping or being destructive? Does God care about our exhaustion and need for “vegging out” and is this something a person ablaze for God person should do?

God gave us something amazing in the act of creation—He stamped His image on us. Much ink has been spilt in understanding what the “image of God” means, but it at least means this: somehow we are like God. Not outside looks, but embedded into our character and passions—our soul. Because God is a creator, we are also mini-creators. We were created by God to re-create.

When I watch TV I am seeking to be renewed and refreshed; I am recreating. What goes wrong is that I recreate in front of the TV too long to the neglect of the women in my life. Integrity in our play should be sourced in a God-inspired act of creating again what was worn out of us in a hard day’s work. In that sense, re-creation serves a divine purpose in that it brings back a sense of wholeness and balance that is taken from work.

More than anyone, children understand the necessary component of play in our lives. My daughter Sari wants me to be involved in her stacking of blocks, reading a book, or poking her finger in my belly button as I lay on the floor watching TV!

On that note, I guess I’d better turn off Seinfeld and get my finger poking revenge!

Via Ablaze for God: a consuming journey to the heart of God

Forgiveness Works?

At Kids Camp 2011, one of the counselors had an interesting interaction between two boys that were picking at each other.

One of the boys complained to the counselor who in turn instructed the camper to forgive the other. The boy looked at his leader, scowled and said: “No way! He’s not even sorry!” The counselor shrugged and moved on.

Inevitably the picking continued and the boy tried the counselor’s advice. He told the other boy who was annoying him that he forgave him. Instantly, the other boy looked down at the ground and said: “Sorry.” The boy was shocked and couldn’t believe that it worked!

The counselor was so excited that this young man learned a valuable lesson about forgiveness. Oh if we could all learn that lesson, eh?

Good job, Markus!

Can I Tell You a Story?


Just like the post below, I believe in the power of a story to teach. I’ve got to admit that as a young parent, it is easy to default to the “lecture” format, but I’ve found that telling a story, whether real or make-believe, has been very powerfully effective. My friend, Jesse Smith, shares some great insights in “Once Upon a Time”:

There once was a little boy…
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far way…
It was a dark and stormy night…

We all recognize these beginning, they are popular beginnings for a story. They immediately peak our interest, there’s something coming, something interesting. Stories have power – they break down barriers, open our hearts, and get us thinking.

As a father, I’ve found that story is one of the best, if not the most powerful, tool I have. When my children have added to the rules, tries to pit mom against dad, or any number of things they’ve often heard a story. Sometimes it’s a story from the Bible and other times its from another source (or just made up) but the message is almost always clarified by story.

Why?

It’s not a lecture
As parents we want our children to not only understand the rules but the reason for those rules. Often our response to an infraction is overly wordy. At a time when the child just wants to escape your wrath a lecture falls on deaf ears – they just want out. A story opens a new world, a place to escape and a place where they have some control.

In a story there is a chance to explore both sides, a place to talk about solutions – a place for discussion.

Models
When we have a culture of story telling, our children not only hear stories when there is a problem, but all the time. Stories stick with us and when a similar situation occurs, children have a better idea of what will happen as a result of their choices. They can connect to the characters and that starts of joruney oof wanting to model for others.

Stories are natural
Simply put, we’re wired to remember stories. Think about how easy it is for them (or you) to quote their favorite movie or show. They can remember what Blue weeks ago said but not what Mom said 7 seconds ago because stories naturally connect.

A Place to Explore
Stories promote thinking. They are a safe place to think about what loss feels like or what it means for a child to be disabled. Children can easily explore their emotions and behaviors without serious consequence.

If you’re looking for a place to start, I suggest that you pick up a few story books from your library and have a bed time story. If you feel like they might be too old for a bed time story, read the books yourself. Think about how the story flows so that you can begin to form your own stories so you don’t sound like you’re lecturing all the time.

Then, when you’re ready to go to a new level, pick up The Jesus Storybook Bible. This is, by far, the best storybook bible that I’ve read. It mad me cry more than once. It’s full of great models for our children and could easily become your child’s favorite book.

Another plus is that it’s more theologically sound than many storybook bibles out there. It’s not simply a collection of stories; it’s an overview of the primary theme of scripture.

How could you use stories in your home?

via Orange Fathers

I Can’t! No, You Can!

As a parent, you want the best for your children. You want to see them succeed. You want them to live up to their full potential. You don’t want obstacles to get in their way or failures to keep them down. A well-meaning parent says: “You can, you can, you can! You can grow up to be whatever you want to be!”

So how do adults (who used to be formative children at some point) get to the point where they fail and stay down? How do adults let obstacles get in their way and stop them from succeeding? I think it starts when these adults are children… maybe.

A while back, my daughter, Sari, said the words “I can’t.” I didn’t think much of those two words at the moment… that is until my pleasant and often congenial wife, Amanda, turns in to an instant disciplinarian: “Don’t say ‘I can’t’ Sari! Don’t ever say, ‘I can’t’!”

I was a little taken aback by my wife’s response to this seemingly innocent and undisciplinable statement from a 4 year-old. She later explained to me, and to Sari, that she wants our children growing up thinking they CAN do anything, not they CAN’T do anything. Amanda’s family are entrepreneurs. They are all CAN DO people. They have been successful through their failures and obstacles. They work hard. They may be limited by things they CAN’T do, but that is by choice, not by circumstance.

Just having a CAN DO attitude does not guarantee one success in life. Merely eliminating CAN’T from your vocabulary does not mean that life will always work out for you. However, do you see life for the possibilities it holds? Or do you see it for the vast limits it holds and the obstacles in your way?

I wonder if helping to create a culture of CAN DO people starts when they are young…

You Hurt Your Foot?!

Does this ever happen to you?

Sari hurt her foot the other day. I don’t remember exactly how, but it seems like she is always running in to stuff!

Anyway, when she hurt her foot she screams bloody murder! Life is over! I know, I know… kids respond to pain in a variety of ways and my daughter is just expressing herself, right? Okay. I’m learning how this goes. There’s no manual for parenting. Anyway, we gave her some ice, elevated her foot, and laid her on the couch to recover.

Then Amanda and I turned our attention elsewhere. We moved on to other things. About ten minutes later we noticed Sari running around the living room with her sister, Macie, playing. I made a comment: “Sari, your foot must feel better?”

As soon as I said this, she fell to the ground and started to caress the foot again like she had temporarily forgot her injury and began to wimper.

Amanda and I started laughing at this sudden miracle, then Sari smiled, giggled, then went on her merry way.

Boy… they learn manipulation early!

Rites of Passage Project


This is fascinating… I wonder what kind of conversation this would spark, not only in the family unit between father and son, mother and daughter, but also in the faith community as a whole as we try to “intentionally” pass on faith (and wisdom) to the next generation…

As the parent of a teenager, you invest a lot of time, money, and energy into academic and athletic training into your student’s middle and high school years. As a believer, you know the importance of investing as much or more energy into their spiritual training; equipping them to become more like Christ as they cross over into adulthood.

The Rites of Passage Project is a strategic approach that helps parents acknowledge and celebrate key physical and spiritual growth stages with meaningful life-markers that their students will never forget.

Take 15 minutes to watch the WHY and HOW videos for your student’s grade level and then pray about how God wants you to lead them on the journey of a lifetime.

6th Grade
7th Grade
8th Grade
9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade

Speaking Life into Your Kids


This is another great blog post from epicparent.tv about speaking life into your kids:

I believe that parents hold the greatest, most powerful and life altering tool in our possession…

THE TONGUE

Not sure if you read the Bible much, but here is what is says about the tongue…

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”  Proverbs 18:21

10 COMMANDMENTS OF SPEAKING LIFE TO YOUR KIDS:

  • SAY YES:  I say “NO” to my kids because it is the easy, simple and if I am totally honest, “NO” just requires less of me. Speak life to your kids by saying “YES” this week.  Try it; say “YES” to every reasonable & most unreasonable requests.
  • ASK HOW YOU CAN SERVE THEM: Try this with your most challenging kiddo, it will transform the relationship.
  • PRAY: Every day this week pray over your kid’s right before they leave for school.
  • LISTEN: God could be trying to get your attention or send a message to you through your kids.  Stop what you are doing, sit down and really listen.
  • ADMIT YOUR MISTAKE: I blew it big time this weekend by taking my kids to a movie that they just should not have seen.  As soon as we walked in the house I gathered Team Sprad together and admitted my mistake.  Parents, you will blow it…its okay be real w/ your kiddos and let them know.
  • DISCIPLINE THEM IN LOVE: I get a ton of things wrong in parenting, but this is one I get right.  I take a considerable amount of time in the discipline process to love and protect their hearts.
  • WRITE THEM A LETTER: The picture above is a copy of the letter I wrote my daughter for Christmas.
  • BE SOFT: Lower your tone and use life giving words.
  • IRRATIONAL GRACE: Cole came home last month trying to explain why he made a bad grade in Science.  I simply wrapped my arms around him, looked him in the eye and said “if you brought home a 100 I wouldn’t love you anymore.”  When you kids expect discipline, try love and grace.
  • I BELIEVE IN YOU: Your kids have to hear this from you weekly.  I believe in you because you’re a person of your word.  I believe in you because…

Helping Children Deal with Death


Sometimes other people have said things (and organized their thoughts) better than I could do, especially regarding dealing and coping with the topic of death.

There’s no way to avoid this simple fact: death happens

And, when it does, we often struggle with how to approach talking to our kids about the subject.

Recently, in our community, a young mom passed away suddenly – leaving behind her husband and two children, a 1st and a 5th grader. In other parts of the country, recent tornadoes have devastated communities and left hundreds of families grieving the loss of loved ones. Across an ocean from us, Japan is still reeling from one of the largest earthquake/tsunami combinations many of us will see in our lifetime – with a death toll that has surpassed 10,000 lives lost.

In the midst of dealing with death, our children often approach us looking for answers. At the same time, we’re faced with the daunting task of balancing our own grief with guiding our kids through the process. Here are some thoughts that I keep in mind as I guide families tackling important questions surrounding death and mourning.

The question I’ve been asked the most in my years of ministering to families and communities who are grieving is whether or not a child should attend the funeral of someone outside of the family. When answering this question, it’s good to think about where a child is developmentally. As parents, we often project our emotions and desires on our children – for better or for worse. If one of my closest friends lost a family member, I would want to be there for that person to provide a sense of community in mourning. My four year old son, however, wouldn’t provide that same sense of community for a peer – children’s friendships are different than adult friendships and parents often lose sight of that during times of emotional crisis.

I encourage families to talk openly about the grieving process, but forcing a young child to attend a memorial service might cause more harm than good. However, if a child wants to attend a service with their parents, I see that as an opportunity for a family to share the grieving process together. I discourage families from having their younger children sit amongst peers – again, they aren’t looking to each other for support – adults are most often viewed as their protectors/comfort. Peers rarely operate in this role for young children.

The most important thing I try to tell families during the grieving process is that children need to know that they aren’t alone. Parents don’t have to have everything “figured out” in order to give children a sense of safety and comfort.

I have found the following online articles helpful in shaping my conversations with parents talking to their children about death:

One of the best articles I’ve read on natural disasters and our response as Christians was written by my Senior Pastor and friend, Jim Miller

http://pastorjamesmiller.com/2011/03/14/religion-disaster-and-japan/

Children’s Ministry magazine provides more than just information on the subject, they actually provide suggestions for how to talk with kids about death

http://www.childrensministry.com/articles/helping-children-deal-with-death

http://www.childrensministry.com/articles/helping-children-grieve

iVillage gives an in depth answer to the question “Should my child attend a funeral?”

http://www.ivillage.com/should-your-child-attend-funeral/6-n-146437

The most useful article I’ve ever read on the subject is from hospicenet.org

http://www.hospicenet.org/html/talking.html

If you don’t want to click through right now because you don’t have time, I encourage you to at least read their summary of how children mourn, based on age and developmental stage. (below)

Characteristics of Age Groups (to be used only as a general guide)

Infants – 2 Years Old:

  • Will sense a loss
  • Will pick up on grief of a parent or caretaker
  • May change eating, sleeping, toilet habits.

2-6 Years Old:

  • Family is center of child’s world
  • Confident family will care for her needs
  • Plays grown-ups, imitates adults.
  • Functions on a day-to-day basis.
  • No understanding of time or death
  • Cannot imagine life without mum or dad
  • Picks up on nonverbal communication.
  • Thinks dead people continue to do things (eat, drink, go to the bathroom), but only in the sky.
  • Thinks if you walk on the grave the person feels it.
  • Magical thinking
  • you wish it, it happens (bring the dead back or wishing someone was dead)
  • Death brings confusion, guilt [magically thought someone dead]
  • Tendency to connect things which are not related.

6-9 Years Old:

  • Personifies death: A person, monster who takes you away
  • Sometimes a violent thing.
  • Still has magical thinking, yet begins to see death as final, but outside the realm of the child’s realistic mind.
  • Fails to accept that death will happen to them – or to anyone (although begins to suspect that it will).
  • Fears that death is something contagious.
  • Confusion of wording [soul/sole, dead body, live soul].
  • Develops an interest in the causes of death (violence, old age, sickness).

9-12 Year Old:

  • May see death as punishment for poor behavior.
  • Develops morality – strong sense of good and bad behavior.
  • Still some magical thinking.
  • Needs reassurance that wishes do not kill.
  • Begins an interest in biological factors of death.
  • Theorizes: People die to make room for new people.
  • Asks more about “what happened”
  • Concerns about ritual, burying
  • Questions relationship changes caused by death, life changes.
  • Worries about who provides and cares for them.
  • May regress to an earlier stage
  • Interested in spiritual aspects of death.

Teenagers:

  • Views death as inevitable, universal, irreversible.
  • Cognitive skills developed
  • Thinks like an adult
  • Questions meaning of life if it ends in death
  • Sees aging process leading to death
  • Sees self as invincible – it will not happen to me.
  • Sees death as a natural enemy
  • Need for adult guidance (grief process, coping skills).
  • Needs someone to listen; to talk with.
  • May feel guilt, anger, even some responsibility for death that occurred.
  • Not sure how to handle own emotions [public and private].

via West Coast CM

40 Parenting Tips


Chris Spradlin over at EpicParent.tv wrote a list of 40 parenting tips in honor of his 40th birthday. It’s a noteworthy list:

1.  Take lots of pictures

2.  Leave notes in your kids lunches

3.  ALWAYS ASK FORGIVENESS

4.  Let your kids fail

5.  Laugh

6.  Stop aggravating your kids!  Still trying to learn this one

7.  Dad’s date your daughters or someone else will

8.  Don’t sweat the bad grades so much

9.  Don’t play favorites, spread your time out equally

10.  Show your kids Jesus, nothing else really matters

11.  Find your kids mentors

12.  Read to them at night

13.  Pray over your kids most nights

14.  Don’t make your kids walk on egg shells

15.  Use your inside voice, no need to scream

16.  If your divorced, JUST GET ALONG

17.  Go to your kids’ games, it means more than you think

18.  ALWAYS ASK FORGIVENESS

19.  Hug your kids everyday

20.  Say “I LOVE YOU” a bunch

21.  Make their favorite snack just because

22.  Ask them “how can I pray for you”

23.  Let them choose the TV station & radio station

24.  When they deserve punishment simply hug them…give irrational grace

25.  Let them jump bed to bed in the hotel

26.  Encourage them to slide down the stairs on a sled

27.  Let them eat on the couch

28.  Get up and dance with them at the wedding reception

29.  Do a Chinese fire drill with your kids…my wife did this last week

30.  Take the toilet papering

31.  Let them skip school

32.  Give them $100 and let them spend it without parameters

33.  Let your controlling kids choose every meal and activity for the day

34.  DID SAY ASK FORGIVENESS J

35.  Sit down and play legos with them…without watching the clock

36.  Give them your cell phone for the entire day

37.  Let them sit in your lap and drive

38.  Encourage them to build a fort in the living room and sleep in it with them

39.  Let them sleep on the trampoline

40.  Deposit Jesus in their heart every single day

via EpicParent.tv

Memorizing Bible Verses @ Home


I credit this to my Mom! When my brother Brad and I were young, my Mom would help us memorize Bible verses. We had no idea at the time what an impact knowing these Bible verses would be.

So, drawing on the tradition of my family, in our home we’ve been trying to do some of the same. Right before Easter I knew that our senior Pastor was going to be speaking on John 3:16, so I took some butcher block paper and a Sharpie and proceeded to write the verse on it and then taped it to the wall in our hallway. Once or twice a day we would stop by the verse on the wall, pause, and say it together. When the girls were in church on Easter Sunday and Mark started preaching on John 3:16, the girls heads whipped up at me in shock that someone else would know this verse we’ve been learning at home! It was a neat connection piece.

Then we added another verse, Ephesians 4:32, because they have been learning what it means to forgive as they offend and annoy each other as sisters. Fascinating!

More is Caught than Taught


I was driving down Railroad Street in Hayward, WI the other day and a truck with a camper trailer pulled out in front of me between Marketplace Foods and McDonalds and made me stop short.

Now obviously according to the generally accepted etiquette of civilized driving, one does not make another vehicle wait or stop short when pulling an extra large camper trailer. This over-size towing package should wait patiently until the road and other vehicles are clear before embarking on its destination.

Well this obstruction did not wait and it affected my driving attitude for a brief second. I had my two girls in the car when this happened (and, to be honest, wasn’t as dramatic as I’m making it out to be). Due to Hayward being a tourist/vacation destination for many people, us locals get used to city drivers and vacationers on our roads and we usually have to tolerate their erratic driving during the summer months.

Here’s what I thought: “This guy (or lady) just cut me off! How dare they?!” Then I paused, realized it was a non-local, and proceeded to wait patiently and choose to be cordial rather than annoyed (any average driver knows this is difficult, right?).

My next  was this: “If I were to scream and yell or mutter under my breath about what I feel about what this person just did, my girls will hear this and they will learn something. They will learn that when you are cut off by another vehicle in the car it is okay to call the other driver an ‘idiot’ or ‘stupid’ or ‘crazy’ or ‘inconsiderate’ (of course, which all might be true!). But is this what I want to teach my kids about how to be like Jesus in our world? No.”

Often what our kids learn from us is our responses to things that happen in our lives. The difficult part to play as a parent is being aware (all the time) of our responses–holy or unholy. Of course, my wife Amanda and I try to verbally teach our kids good, holy responses, but those lessons pale in comparison to the things they learn when we are not “consciously” teaching… like when we are driving down Railroad Street and other cars pull out in front of us. The old adage is true: “more is caught than taught.”

What are your kids “catching” from you? Have you ever thought about that? What do other people “catch” from how you live your life as a person who follows Jesus?

MTV’s Insights into the Millennial Generation


Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, consists of people born around the late-1970’s to the early 2000’s. MTV, for better or worse, is known for its culturally relevant or astute programming, targeted, almost precisely, at its intended demographic. “MTV made a decision at its point of inception to never grow old with the audience but to reinvent periodically for each ‘generation next’.”

An article featured in FastCompany.com, highlights the insights MTV has learned about the Millennial Generation. They discuss “two tectonic forces”:

Recalibration of the nuclear family
A century of “parent-centered” nuclear family has steadily been under-going a paradigm shift, and may have just passed the tipping point. The nucleus of the family has been moving towards the child, and Millennials look like the first generation raised in that new nuclear family structure. No longer the hierarchical structure with authoritarian parent “leadership,” the new family is flattened to a democracy, with collective (if not kid-driven) decision-making process. Parents are more like best friends, life coaches, or as we at MTV call them “peer-ents.

No longer is it necessary to “rebel against” authoritarian parents to individuate, engage in acts of self-expression, or push at the boundaries. As one youth psychologist we work with pointed out, “Parents don’t say you can’t go to the party, they create safe spaces to consume alcohol, they say Can I pick you up afterwards?, Here’s money for a taxi.”

Self-expression, having your voice heard, following your own path–these are all values that are positively encouraged in modern parenting styles. Why rebel when you simply need to explain your behavior in terms of “my experiment in self discovery.”

Technology
The “You Demand It,” push button, everything free, always on culture of technology and the Internet has amplified much of the “social coding” of the way Millennials were parented. And as many commentators have already pointed out, the revolution will be tweeted. The power is in the hands of a million anonymous hands, and can be wielded apparently consequence free, in real time, with the click of a mouse.

It’s easy, I think, for us that our outside (or maybe a little bit inside) the Millennial Generation, to be critical of the ways things are. How many of us bemoan the widespread, rampant use of technology (i.e. texting) among young people today? And we say things like: If only they knew what real work was, right? Or, why don’t parents “parent” their children instead of letting the kids run the family?

Now I’m not saying (nor do I think MTV or other generational auditors) that technology and kid-centered families are inherently bad. It’s just a cultural snapshot of what I like to call, “the way things are.” Older generations like the Baby Boomers or others have quite different characteristics based on the cultural surroundings that shaped them. The Millennials have particular surroundings that older generations did not (i.e. the internet, cell phones, etc).

So my thoughts are this: it is good to know how (and why) families tend to interact these days, and it is good to know the influence and use of technology as well. Why? Because then we as the church, the community of God’s people, can help and assist families to instruct and guide their children in the wise use of technology. Technology without ethics is not wise. Kid-centered families, or “peer-ents”, is not a bad thing unless kids are not getting any kind of instruction in how to become wise and responsible adults eventually. If parents are merely acting as peers to their children, then they may not be getting the wise instruction they need to be responsible adults that are able to hold down a job or care for a future family.

When I read articles that provide insight into cultural snapshots, I am always asking the question: “In light of the way things are, how do we wisely teach and train, disciple and lead our children and our own lives, to look like the ways of God and the principles of his kingdom?”

Not a simple question, eh? No… because it’s always changing, especially in our lightning-fast culture now!

via FastCompany.com
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The Coffee Cup is Teaching


Sari and Macie were playing a game (Hungry Hippos, I think) and they started to fight about it. Amanda stepped in and told Sari that she needed to teach Macie how to play so she wouldn’t get frustrated. At this point in the intervention, Sari was exasperated and she exclaimed to her mother: “I don’t want to teach Macie! I don’t want to be a teacher!!”

I was a silent witness to these events from another room. I called to Sari and asked her to visit me, which she reluctantly did, assuming, rightly so, that she would be in trouble for her outburst and unwillingness to cooperate with her sister and mother.

I had a cup of coffee in my hand and I set it down on a table. I asked Sari to watch what I was doing for a second. I reached down to the coffee cup, grabbed it by its handle, brought it to my mouth, took a slow and deliberate sip, then proceeded to set it back down on the table. I asked her what I had just done. She replied, “You drank some of your coffee.” I pressed her further, “How did I drink my coffee?”

I continued: “I grabbed it by the handle, right? Why? [pause] Because a coffee cup holds hot coffee and it’s probably not a good idea to hold it by the cup when it is really hot, right? Did I hold it by the lip/rim of the cup? Why? [pause] Because I could drop it like that, right?”

I think Sari was beginning to catch on…

“Did I gulp the coffee fast or sip it slowly? Why? [pause] Because coffee is hot and it could hurt my mouth if I drank it fast, so I drink it slow, right?”

Dad: “Did I just teach you how to drink coffee?” Sari nods. “Did I have to say anything to you or did you just watch me?” Sari: “I just watched.” Dad: “Can you teach Macie stuff by playing games the right way and showing her how it’s done?” Sari grins. “Maybe you can teach Macie about how to act appropriately and not throw fits by you acting appropriately and not throwing fits. Can you do that?” Sari: “Yes, Daddy.”

Dad: “Now go teach your sister stuff…”

I like coffee. Amanda and I drink it every morning. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that short little lesson about what we do and who we are is on display to everyone all the time. We are always teaching, aren’t we? We are constantly teaching our kids, our siblings, our spouses, our coworkers, our employees, our friends, our customers, even strangers, and we don’t even know it. What are you teaching people today?

Go ahead, have another cup of coffee…