It Takes a Circle

** The following article was copied from www.theparentcue.org.

I grew up in a small church where the congregation’s youth group consisted mostly of me and my sister, Cathy. Seriously.
Instead of sitting with my parents through the sanctuary service, I spent most Sunday mornings watching the pastor’s kids in the nursery. That was my church experience as a youth.

At 23, I got married in the sanctuary I’d avoided during my teenage years, and I began searching for a different church for my newly-formed family. Goal: a huge youth ministry. After all, future Daniel and Traci would have a child, and I wanted him to have the youth group I never had. That’s what parents do . . . give our kids what we wanted and never had.

However, when Thomas was nine years old, we decided to pursue a nomadic life on the road. Yes, that’s right. Before our son could enter the amazing youth group at our church—the one we’d purposely picked before his birth—we whisked him away in a 38-foot bus with us.

Instead of forming long-lasting relationships with peers and engaging with experienced student ministry staff, our boy had to trail behind a 38-year old anxious sales guy and a 35-year old insecure introvert. What could possibly go wrong?

The first year spent on the road was bumpy and bruising. As camping newbies, Daniel and I took on roles and responsibilities beyond anything we’d ever known. The learning curve for all-things-RV was steep, and there were new simultaneous stresses, too.

Daniel left corporate America to become an entrepreneur, and I exchanged the role of Room Mom for full-time teacher. And, instead of three people sharing a few thousand square feet of house, we occupied 350-square feet 24 hours a day, every day.

Learning to share space—and one family computer—while launching a business, educating ourselves on homeschooling, and remembering to enjoy the journey was challenging. Thomas’s nuclear family was sometimes indeed nuclear.

The adventurous life both rewarded and exhausted. We loved all the family time, but as the first year of travel came to an end, Daniel and I realized what we had sacrificed. No, we realized what Thomas had sacrificed.

The fun-loving little boy who’d left Indiana now reflected his parents, anxious and insecure. That hadn’t been our plan. If something didn’t change, I was convinced Thomas would end up on Jerry Springer someday.

On a break from traveling, I had coffee with the youth pastor at our Indiana church. She was a close friend, so I shared my concerns and fears including the part about Jerry Springer. Pastor Mandy assured me that Thomas would be okay, but she encouraged me to plug him in with his peers and youth leaders. The connections would be good for all of us.

Her words reminded me why we’d chosen the congregation we did: Doing life in isolation is hard.

Humans were designed to live within community, but I’d let my desire for adventure interrupt the foundational relationships my son would need, the very ones I’d wanted for myself as a teenager.

Youth group involvement became a priority for our family. We still traveled from time to time, however, Thomas never missed a work camp or youth convention. His small group leaders, youth pastors, and other adult volunteers became an ever-widening circle of influence.

The impact and evidence struck me in 2013 during the semester Thomas would graduate from high school. “If you ever needed something and your dad and I were unavailable, who would you call?” I asked. Thomas named a few people. “Yes, but if you had a crisis and couldn’t reach us, who would you go to for help?” Thomas named more people.

My boy was listing his circle from church. Small group leaders. Youth pastors. Thomas listed one by one many of the adult volunteers he’d come to know, those who had for years poured into his life.

Instead of the traditional high school graduation open house celebrating his accomplishment, Thomas invited his circle to a Gratitude Brunch to honor their contribution to his accomplishment. This is what he wanted to say:   

Thank you for caring for me.
Thank you for encouraging me.
Thank you for challenging me.

It’s said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I would say that village is shaped like a circle.

Building Wisdom With the Weight of Your Words

** The following article was copied from www.theparentcue.org.

When you become a parent there’s a phrase you start throwing around: “My parents did __________, but I will never do that.” My parents said ___________, but I’ll never say that.

I’ll never yell.
I’ll never try to cut bedtime short.
I’ll never say, “Because I said so”

But then the strangest thing happens. You’re lecturing your child about needing to eat their vegetables if they want to grow big and strong, and all of the sudden, you hear your mother’s voice coming out of your mouth. Or your kid is relentless with the questions about why you have to wait thirty minutes after eating to swim, why shooting nerf guns at your brother in point blank range is a bad idea, why not drinking a full glass of water before bedtime will be a decision they (and you) will regret later and without even thinking, you say it. With no effort at all, it comes out of your mouth.

“Why? Because I said so.”

When I heard that as a kid, I thought it was a cop out. A way to shut down a conversation I knew my parents didn’t want to have. Now that I’m a parent myself, I sure that’s exactly what it is. It absolutely is a chance to hear no more talking. To stop the questions. To get a breather.

The problem is, it’s lazy parenting and though it buys me a few minutes of peace and quiet, I’m also pretty sure I’m not doing my kids any favors.

In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul writes saying, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one need and bringing grace to those who listen.”

I’ve always heard this verse and focused on the first part of it: Don’t say anything unwholesome. Or to say it another way, nothing distasteful, nasty or unpleasant. It’s good advice, but if that’s the only standard for what I should say, that sets the bar pretty low.

But the second part of that verse raises the bar. Paul writes that we should only say what is helpful for building up. That paints a different kind of picture, doesn’t it? Now my words are tools, possibilities for creating something, or tearing something down. Basically, no word is neutral. So the question becomes what are our words accomplishing?

Interestingly, in ancient Hebrew the word “wisdom” came from the root word “to build”. Paul didn’t write his letters in Hebrew, but he would have known it, and I wonder, as he wrote to the church in Ephesus about building one another up, if he didn’t have in mind this idea of building as it relates to wisdom. Of how we ought to use our words to build wisdom into one another—for us as parents, to coach our kids in discovering wisdom. Suddenly, that makes my words weightier. And conversations with them even more important. And that fallback, “because I told you so”? Way less helpful.

I want to be careful with my words, not just to build my kids up, but to coach them in how to discover the right thing to do and the wise thing to do—on their own—without my voice ringing in the background to do just do what I said, because I am their mom and that makes me the boss, so stop asking questions.

If we are builders with our words, and we are architects of our children, we need to be teaching them not only with the words we are speaking aloud, but also with the words we are choosing not to say. Sometimes the building is teaching them to draw their own conclusions. Sometimes it’s engaging in longer conversation than we would like, sometimes it means we stop saying, “because I said so”, and buckle down for more words than we expected, because when it comes to learning how to be wise, this is what it takes.

I’ve found so much of parenting, more than I anticipated anyway, to be making a decision between taking the easy way, the short sighted way, and the way that envisions a future version of my kids that I want to be around. Kids who have grown up and grown into the type of people I am proud to be responsible for. When it comes to the words we speak, I have to parent with the long game in mind. I have to build and construct and instruct my kids towards becoming wise.

Our words are powerful. They are powerful in what they can do for others, but also in what they require of us: intention, time and care. And though they sometimes ask more of us than we like, I think we’ll find they do more for us long term when we put in the necessary time to use them as tools in shaping our kids and shaping their future into the best possible one.

 

You Child is Not Your Enemy

** The following article was copied from www.familylife.com.

Here are eight ways we can fight for, not against, our children in their hard-to-handle moments.

When the days of mothering grow long and make a girl weary, and when what you really want to do is lock your child in a bedroom and throw away the key, it’s good to remember this: Your child is not your enemy.

Our goal for our children isn’t to create super kids, nor is it to strip them of all the quirks and traits that make up their personalities. Our fight is to help them grow toward Christlikeness, into the best version of them that they can be.

With that in mind, here are eight ways we can fight for, not against, our children in their hard-to-handle moments.

1.Tell God He can have you. I made this number one because it’s the most important. None of the other steps matter much at all unless you’re willing to let God change you first.

I’ve learned firsthand the importance of allowing God to strip me of old, sinful habits that hinder my ability to fight for my children. In other words, most of the time the battle for my boys involves battling with myself. I’m the parent, and I can’t win if I allow myself to be dragged down to their level. My goal is to rise above and invite them to come with me.

2. Get in the habit of prayer. Every one of us wants to know what God wants us to do so we can just do it and be done. I sometimes feel frustrated because it doesn’t seem like God gives me clear direction when my heart is ready to do whatever He tells me to do. But I’ve come to this conclusion: Most of the time I’m too busy talking to actually hear when He is speaking to me.

That’s why taking a break to pray before I speak, before I react, and before anyone else gets up in the morning, and praying throughout the entire day is so important. God wants to give us direction and comfort, but we’re often too busy juggling life on our own to ask.

3. Embrace the power of a mommy timeout. It doesn’t necessarily take long to recharge if you know what works for you. What gives you a healthy sense of relief almost instantaneously? Is it music? A good book? Reading your favorite Bible passage? Getting on your knees in prayer? Whatever it is—and it may vary from day to day—do that.

You cannot parent your children well when your heart is frazzled. Even if you have to take five-minute mommy breaks multiple times a day, do something to focus your attention on Jesus. Remember that peace has nothing to do with what’s happening around you. Peace comes only from relationship with Jesus Christ. You can’t manufacture it with things or even changes in circumstances. It comes from within as you surrender your life to Christ.

4. Prepare ahead of time. Just as I have my own triggers, certain things tend to agitate my sons. After studying them for years now, I’m beginning to recognize these triggers and to be physically, mentally, and spiritually prepared for the inevitable.

When it’s time to leave the pool, I get their attention about 20 minutes beforehand and let them know we’re leaving in 20 minutes. Then I give them updates every few minutes so that when it’s actually time to leave they’re not taken by surprise.

I don’t think I can overemphasize prayer’s importance as an in-the-moment tactic as well as part of the advance preparation. I pray a lot. For my response as well as for my sons’.

5. Be stronger. When they were very young, I would often pick up my boys and carry them, despite their flailing and kicking, to a safe space for them to calm down. Now I can ask them to go somewhere safe, and they will, albeit not always without emotional drama. We’re fast approaching the day when they’ll be much stronger than I am, so what I’m talking about here isn’t physical strength so much as emotional and spiritual strength.

You may have heard it said that a leader can take his followers only as far as he has traveled. As a parent, you are, by default, a leader. God gave you to your children to teach them, train them, and make it as easy as possible for them to know Him. To lead them well, you don’t have to know the answers to every theological question or have your whole life together; you just have to be a few paces ahead of where they are.

6. Love harder. There are a lot of amazing things about my boys, things I know God will use one day for His glory and purpose in their lives. But for right now, they’re raw and unrefined and often drive me crazy.

One day, they’ll fight for something instead of against it. Until that time, it’s my goal to love them harder than they fight me. If my boys go to bed each night feeling more loved than fought and more a treasure than a hindrance and know there’s nothing they could ever do to make me not love them, I call that day a success.

7. Be a student of your child. There’s no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to raising godly children. Sometimes, I wish there were. Other times I’m glad it’s not up to me to change their hearts. God can do a much better job of that than I can.

What is within my power is to study my son, to really know him—his personality, what makes him happy, what makes him tick, what sets him off, what makes him feel loved. When a mom knows those things, she can tailor her parenting to the specific strengths and weaknesses of the child. It empowers the parent to reach the heart of the child, deep down inside, instead of just trying not to be inconvenienced by his bad behavior.

8. Refuse to give up. I know you’re tempted daily to give up. So am I. When things don’t go as planned, when children continue to be resentful or disobedient regularly, when the clutter grows unmanageable, and the pile of laundry threatens to avalanche, we might be tempted to say, “I quit. I’m not even going to try anymore.”

The circumstances we’re in today are not forever. If we stay the course, we will reap a harvest, even if it happens on the other side of heaven. There’s more waiting for us when we get there. The choices we make today to press on and fight the good fight will make a difference in generations to come, influencing who among our family and friends will get to join us with Jesus. Do not give up.

Work and Family: The Ongoing Tug-of War

** The following article was copied from www.allprodad.com.

Every month or so, we hear about someone else “retiring” to spend more time with his children. We applaud him and perhaps even hold him up as an example for all fathers. But in reality, these people are usually politicians, professional athletes or business CEOs. Not all of us are in a position to choose outright between work and family, but must somehow reconcile these often-opposing forces. You want to do your best at home and at work. Providing for your family is a significant part of being a good father, and you can’t deny that much of your identity and sense of accomplishment come from your career.

Surely you’ve faced the questions of how to balance work and family: Do I put in more time at work to pursue career advancement? Do I drop what I’m doing and head home to be with the family? Should I begin looking for a more father-friendly job? However, John Snarey of Emory University found that, in the long run, involved fathers “went just as far in their work as comparable men did who were less involved with their kids.” Here are 3 ways to do it.

A Hard Look at Priorities

In our culture, it’s easier for men to seek their identity in the workplace rather than the home. We’re under pressure to perform regardless of the hours or number of business trips it takes to prove ourselves. When we do our jobs well, there are fairly quick and tangible rewards: bonuses, raises, new titles, congratulatory memos. Job rewards feed men’s desires for recognition and power, offering fast food for a starving ego. In comparison, the rewards of fathering are much less immediate and obvious. No matter how important something may be, it’s difficult to invest yourself in it when you aren’t likely to see a “pay off” for months, or years, or not at all especially when there are pressing deadlines today at work. Several recent studies have concluded that success at home and at work is far from an “either-or” situation.

A New Perspective

Instead of seeing one fast track and one daddy track diverging in different directions, try viewing your career and your family as separate rails which make up one set of tracks. Normally, a man begins his career with little reference to anyone else. He was likely unmarried when he chose his college major and career direction, thinking only of what would best fulfill him. Now that he’s been joined by a wife and children, a career is a means to an end: supplying for the physical and emotional well-being of his family. Consequently, he is able to make decisions about promotions, transfers, and work schedules based on how it will affect his family. Furthermore, he views his work as one more aspect of his fathering, providing opportunities to model a healthy work ethic and demonstrate leadership skills for his children.

Making Daily Choices

What actions can you take? Try asking your wife and children, “Is my work consuming me?” Put birthdays, recitals, soccer games, plays, etc. on your work calendar. Tell co-workers that you wouldn’t miss those events for the world, and ask them to help remind you. Look over your career goals for the next few years. Can you realistically accomplish all of them? Is your family’s budget based on realistic needs, or on some culture-driven idea about earning power, upward mobility, and keeping up social appearances? Can you afford to make some changes in your work schedule for the sake of your family?

Short of making drastic changes, there are other daily steps dads can take to balance work and family, such as those suggested by Jim Levine in his book Working Fathers:

  • Discuss your priorities with your boss. Be candid with him or her about times when you need to flex your schedule for family events. Make it clear that you are dedicated to doing your best at work, but that family is also very important to you. Suggest your own “win-win” solutions or ask for his ideas to help reach a workable balance.
  • If it’s feasible in your situation, learn to turn down or delay extra projects that you can’t handle without compromising your family’s needs.
  • Proactively strengthen your relationship with your spouse. You’ll be better prepared to handle the stresses of work confidently and as a team. Have her keep you informed of your kids’ day, so you can ask them specific questions and let them know you’re thinking about them.
  • Create regular rituals to connect with your wife and kids such as phone calls from the office, special “daddy” time when you walk in the door, or other weekly events that keep you in touch.
  • Block out time for your own rejuvenation, whether you use the time to exercise, take a walk, or wind down a little before going home.

ACTION POINTS

  • Catch up with your children before you leave, so you’ll know what they’re up to while you’re gone.
  • Put notes of affirmation and “I miss you” in your kids’ school books or lunch boxes.
  • Tell your kids where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. Give them a sense of what you’ll be accomplishing on this trip.
  • Call home every day. Ask questions about the spelling test, basketball tryout or strained relationship.
  • Give your kids a calendar and trip itinerary so they know exactly where you are.
  • Take care of the lawn, leaky faucet, car problem, etc. before you leave.
  • Have someone videotape the game or performance that you miss, then make a big event out of watching the tape.
  • Agree with your wife that, when you return, you save daily details and problems until later. Spend time just enjoying your kids.

What Parenting Taught Me About Life

** The following article was copied from www.thepaeentcue.org.

As parents, we are tasked to train our children and prepare them for the world . . . but sometimes those roles are reversed. Our children become the teachers, exposing us to our own weaknesses, allowing us to grow alongside them as we navigate the unknown together.

Before I had children, I lived a very sheltered life. Under the comfort of my parents and great grandmother’s wings, I was surrounded by strong individuals who set the pace and direction of my life. While this was good on one hand, it handicapped me on the other. You see the world around me that I was being “protected” from was the same world that I would need to face one day alone. In this environment, my battles were fought for me and I didn’t have many opportunities to stand up for myself. I was lost in my own world, trapped in the bubble of a loving environment that was doing more harm than good.

I matriculated through life as a peacemaker. The girl that could get along with everyone but at the same time no one. The student who was academically successful, but socially awkward. The woman who could multitask at work, get the job done, but be used and walked over by her boss. The wife who was afraid to lead for a fear of failure, so neglected her position of helper and left her husband to fend for himself.

Next, I became a mother and the responsibility of caring for a life that was not my own became motivation for me to grow up, be bold, and lead.

I became an advocate . . .

Advocate: “to plead, support, or speak on behalf of another person … the pursuit of peace.” (dictionary.com)

Then something clicked here recently. One of our children dealt with bullying. Although, it was painful for me to not be there for her physically, I had the privilege of walking alongside her (step- by-step) teaching her how to advocate for herself. It wasn’t easy by any means, but through teaching her, I was learning myself.

Now I am becoming . . .

A mother that willingly ventures into the hard places . . . understanding that it is in those places, we are formed.
A mother that cares for my children and empowers them to care for themselves.
A mother that strives for excellence and supports the journey of struggle and mistakes along the way.

Through parenting, I have become more intentional about how I live my life and the example I set for my children. This has changed the direction, pace, and purpose for me. Not because I wanted to be someone else to them, but because I wanted to be the best me for them.

What lessons have you learn through parenting?

 

5 Essentials to Leaving a Legacy That Will Outlive You

** The following article was copied from www.familylife.com.

A husband and wife who walked by faith and, consequently, left a legacy far beyond anything they could have imagined, lived in the early 1700s in colonial America. Their names were Jonathan and Sarah Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards felt God’s call to become a minister. He and his young bride began a pastorate in a small congregation. During the years that followed, he wrote many sermons, prayers, and books, and was influential in beginning the Great Awakening. Together they produced eleven children who grew into adulthood. Sarah was a partner in her husband’s ministry, and he sought her advice regarding sermons and church matters. They spent time talking about these things together, and, when their children were old enough, the parents included them in the discussions.

The effects of the Edwards’s lives have been far-reaching, but the most measurable results of their faithfulness to God’s call is found through their descendants. Elizabeth Dodds records a study done by A. E. Winship in 1900 in which he lists a few of the accomplishments of the 1,400 Edwards descendants he was able to find:

  • 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school
  • 80 holders of public office
  • 66 physicians and a dean of a medical school
  • 65 professors of colleges and universities
  • 30 judges
  • 13 college presidents
  • 3 mayors of large cities
  • 3 governors of states
  • 3 United States senators
  • 1 controller of the United States Treasury
  • 1 Vice President of the United States

What kind of legacy will you and your mate leave? Will it be lasting? Will it be imperishable and eternal? Or will you leave behind only tangible items—buildings, money, and/or possessions?

The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to invest his life in faithful men who would be able to pass God’s truth on to the next generation. Where does God want you and your mate to invest the time you have been given?

Living a Life Worthy of Legacy

1. Fear the Lord and obey Him. Your legacy begins in your heart, in your relationship with God. Psalm 112:1-2 reads: “How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed.”

On our first Christmas together, Barbara and I gave a gift to God first. These sheets of paper became title deeds to our lives—to our marriage, to our hopes of having children, to our family, to our relationships, to our rights to our lives, to whatever ministry God gave us—we gave everything to Him.

2. Recognize the world’s needs and respond with compassion and action. In Matthew 9:36 we read: “And seeing the multitudes. He [Jesus] felt compassion for them.” You and your mate need to leave a legacy by being committed to doing something about our world. Many Christians today are walking in the middle of the road; they’re so focused on what other people think that they are unwilling to take any risks in order to make an impact for Christ. In light of this, Jamie Buckingham wrote, “The problem with Christians today is that no one wants to kill them anymore.”

When you fly over rows of houses, do you wonder how many people in those homes know Jesus? This year thirty million people will die without hearing the name of Christ. Hundreds of millions will pray to idols. Someone needs to reach these people with the Good News.

John F. Kennedy, in Profiles in Courage, described the need for courageous people: “Some men show courage throughout the whole of their lives. Others sail with the wind until the decisive moment when their conscience and events propel them into the center of the storm.” If you want to leave a lasting legacy, you need to act with courage to reach out to those in need.

3. Pray as a couple that God will use you to accomplish His purposes. As recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10, Jabez prayed, “Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from harm.”

What did Jabez ask God to do? Bless him. Give him new turf and enlarge his sphere of influence. Keep him from temptation. Stay with him. Pray this prayer with your mate, and at the end of the year, see how different your lives will be.

4. Help your mate be a better steward of his gifts and abilities. Help your spouse recognize how God has used his gifts and abilities in the past. Serving others? Teaching the Scripture? Advising a Christian Ministry?

Help him plug into the local church, which needs committed laymen and women who have strong, godly character and a vision for their communities.

Help him recognize his convictions. Thomas Carlyle says, “Conviction is worthless until it can convert itself into daily conduct.” Help your mate determine what he is willing to die for so he can ultimately determine what he can live for.

5. Ask God to give your children a sense of purpose, direction, and mission. The challenge here is to leave your children a heritage, not just an inheritance. As someone once said, “Our children are messengers we send to a time we will not see.”

Dignity through Destiny

David Livingstone, the missionary to Africa, said, “I will go anywhere, as long as it is forward.” And by moving forward and advancing God’s kingdom, he undoubtedly also advanced his sense of dignity.

Gaining a vision and a direction in life will yield significance to your mate’s life as well, especially if the omnipotent God of the universe has set that heading and direction. In fact, true vision, direction, and destiny can come only from the One who controls not only the present but also the future. By discovering your eternal destiny, you will begin to build lasting dignity in your lives. The internal awareness of that God-ordained dignity will enhance the self-esteem of every member of your family.

The challenge is the same for all of us. Will we follow Christ and fulfill His call and vision for our lives? Just as we found spiritual life in no other Person than Jesus Christ, so we find a dignity like no other in the destiny He provides.

Become a Role Model Worth Following

** The following article was copied from www.allprodad.com.

As we strive to be role models for our kids, there will be plenty of times we fail. Our children have a funny way of calling us out when we do something that is inconsistent with what we are teaching them. For example, it’s a bit of a wake up call to have your children stop you mid-sentence because you’re talking with your mouth full at the dinner table after you’ve told them they shouldn’t.

If you desire to be a role model, who is worthy of following, here are 6 areas in your life that need to be evaluated and changed accordingly.

Your Language

Watch what you say. Whether you think your kids are listening or not, they hear you. Be careful not to call other people names, gossip, or curse if you don’t want your kids doing the same things.

Your Tone

How you talk to someone is just as important as the words that are used. Be careful to speak to your spouse and others with respect.

Your Attitude

Negativity breeds more negativity. Have a can-do attitude for your child to be prepared to take on the world. Sometimes even the smallest attitude adjustment can go a long way.
Are your elbows on the table? Do you hold doors for women when out in public? Your children will be little gentlemen and little ladies only if you model it yourself.

Your Confidence

Exhibit confidence to your kids in doing what is good. Always do the right things for the right reasons.

Your Forgiveness

We all make mistakes. Are you modeling the father’s forgiveness for your children? And do you apologize when you are in the wrong?

Your Love

The greatest gift that you can give your children is love. Be a model of love to your kids. Show and tell your children that they mean the world to you. They will learn to love the way you do.

Speed Kills

** The following article was copied from www.homeWord.com.

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil. –Job 3:25-26

The pace of life is killing the soul of families. It makes good people act crazy and makes otherwise healthy individuals become vulnerable—vulnerable to sickness, vulnerable to broken relationships and vulnerable to sin. The old adage “speed kills” no longer refers only to drivers on the highway.

Today’s family is dangerously tired. We are too busy and too distracted to find much hope unless we undergo drastic “family surgery.” The soul of a family is at risk when the family is overstretched and overcommitted. In my book, Creating an Intimate Marriage, one theme I focused on is the idea that when couples are overcommitted, they become unconnected. Doesn’t this hold true for families as well? What happens when our families run too fast for too long? The hurry and busyness of life can be the great destroyers of an otherwise healthy family. A philosopher in the previous century put it this way: “Hurry is not of the Devil; hurry is the Devil.” Decades later Richard Foster wrote, “Our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.”¹

Let’s face it: everything is more dangerous at high speed. When we are overly tired, we tend to become numb to what matters most in our life. We settle for mediocrity in our primary relationships with God, our spouse, our kids, our extended family and our friendships. The saddest part is that many of us are just too busy to care. When we are overcommitted, we postpone or cut short what matters most. Our to-do list seems necessary and unavoidable. We feel like we can never escape the persistent presence of bills, schedules, and other responsibilities. This ever-increasing pace of life turns even the best people into machines and greatly reduces our general level of happiness and fulfillment.

Choosing to cut back from the busy pace we live our lives can be difficult and involves tough choices. It requires the courage of your conviction that cutting back is in the best interest of your life and those of your family, even when doing so is contrary to what we so often see as the norm in today’s culture. Today, go against the flow. Slow down!

GOING DEEPER:
1. What do you find most difficult about the concept of cutting back?

2. How might reducing the pace of life bring healing and wholeness to your family?

FURTHER READING:
Psalm 23:2; Mark 6:31

5 Ways to Help Your Kids Make Wise Choices

**  The following article was copied from www.theparentcue.org.

Any of these sound familiar?

Dad, can I ride my skateboard down the driveway and into the street?
Mom, can we jump off the roof into the pool?
Mom, can I slide down the banister?
Dad, can I jump on that beehive right there?

When you hear questions like that you want to scream, “NO!”
That, or run crying into your bedroom and hide under the sheets until your kids grow into adults.

Let’s face it, some decisions are easy to make. Clearly, the beehive should be left alone.

Others? Not so much. Sliding down the right banister can actually be pretty fun.

As parents, we’ve (hopefully) figured out how to make a wise choice over time. Our kids on the other hand are just starting their journey to discovering wisdom, and unfortunately, choices aren’t always cut and dry. As our kids grow up they’ll soon learn that the decisions they’ll have to make are not as black and white as we might wish.

Helping kids understand that is often easier said than done. How do we help our kids learn the importance of wisdom and making the wise choice?

1. MODEL YOUR OWN DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

Kids are concrete thinkers, and often that means they need some connections made that are intuitive to you. As you walk through a decision such as what to eat for a healthy snack or how to respond to a neighbor’s barky dog, verbalize what’s normally just inside your head. Invite kids into the process and ask them their opinion. If it’s a big choice that you’re praying about (like buying a car or new home), pray with them about that decision as you ask God for wisdom. When your kids see you make wise choices, they’ll be more likely to make the wise choice themselves.

2. TELL STORIES

The Bible is full of people who both succeeded and failed at wisdom. Read those stories together and talk about the consequences they experienced. And not only the Bible, as you’re reading (or watching) anything with your children, pause and talk through the decisions you’re seeing played out in the storyline. Use these as teachable moments to help kids discover more about wisdom.

3. GIVE THEM OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE THE WISE CHOICE

We often think it’s easier to make decisions for our kids. And let’s be honest—it usually is. But when we consider the end in mind for our kids, this isn’t the best thing for them. Rather than give them the answer to decision, we can guide them through the process making the wise choice. Ask questions that walk them through the sorts of ideas they should consider when making a decision. Eventually, they’ll start asking themselves those same types of questions. They may still not make the choice you wish they’d make, but at least they’re thinking through it. And who knows, they may surprise you and consider something that you hadn’t.

4. LET THEM MESS UP

Like or not, we often don’t learn without messing up once or ten times along the way. As much as you’ll want to step in and fix it, resist the urge to rescue your kids from the consequences of their choices. It’s hard to watch of course, but sometimes we need to let our kids touch the proverbial stove in the short-term choices to help them gain wisdom that will help them win at the rest of their life. And if they do mess up (and they will), don’t take away their responsibility. Let them learn from their mistake and get back at it. Show them that you can still trust them even when they mess up. This will help give them confidence to get back at it and grow in wisdom.

5. CELEBRATE THE WINS

When your kids make the wise choice, let them know you noticed. Celebrate them with a high-five, a hug, or slip a note into their lunch box. You don’t need to throw a party to celebrate they chose to finish their homework before playing video games all week, but showing appreciation will affirm those choices and reinforce to your kids that it was worth the effort to make the wise choice.

When it comes to wisdom—finding out what you should do and doing it—it’s important to remember that parenting is a marathon sport. Over time, the conversations that you have about making decisions will influence your children to consider the value of wisdom. Giving kids a strong foundation of wisdom is important. Let’s equip them to face down whatever choice they may face in the future.

What to Do When Your Kids are Texting Instead of Talking

** The following article was copied from www.allprodad.com.
Recently, I wrote about Why Are Your Kids Texting Not Talking? In this post, I’d like to look at some important steps you can take to improve communication between you and your child or grandchild and get beyond texting to actual talking and relationship building.

Improve communication between you and your child or grandchild and get beyond texting to actual talking and relationship building.

Set the Scene

Sit down with your child and gently help them to understand why this issue is going to be addressed.

  • Review the reasons listed in my previous post mentioned above, and ask your children which, if any, are true of them. Speak candidly, but kindly, about those struggles.
  • Be willing to recognize that you may struggle with some of the very same issues.
  • Discuss together what some of the long-term consequences might be for all of you: poor communication skills, shallow relationships, an inability to function in jobs or community, and fractured family relationships now and in the future.

Set Values

Discuss as a family what your values and priorities are and how they will impact your decisions, guidelines, and limitations.

Set Guidelines

Decide the ways you’ll use and not use technology in your home.

  • Establish rules regarding the usage of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online activities.
  • Make specific times or areas of your house tech-free zones. Agree on whether or not to have phones in the bedroom, at the dinner table or other areas of the home. For example, phones are allowed at the dinner table during meals and internet access is not allowed in the bedrooms.
  • Create a space for isolating smartphones and tablets, etc. Have a basket to hold electronics during tech-free times or when entering tech-free zones. For example, place one by the dining room table during mealtimes.

No matter what procedures your family agrees on, remember to do so with patience and grace.