CREATE A RHYTHM
Posted by Parent Cue
It’s moving fast.
We will never have more of it than we already have.
So the issue is not how do we get more, but how do we become more intentional about what we have?
How can we manage our time strategically to parent beyond our capacity?
How about taking a look at your family rhythm? Every family has one. Rhythm is how we arrange our time. As we go from day to day, we establish and shape a rhythm that in turn shapes our kids.
Rhythm establishes value. Things that become part of the daily rhythm are the things our families will come to believe are most important. Rhythm silently but significantly communicates value.
There are some things that may be conceptually very important to us as parents, but if we never include them in our families’ rhythms, our kids will perceive them as having little value. For example, exercise might be important to a parent in principle, but if no one ever plays baseball in the backyard, takes a trip to the park, throws a Frisbee, jumps on a treadmill, or heads to a soccer field, why would the kids come to value exercise? If it’s not part of their rhythm, it’s not part of their reality. The same is true for faith. If you want to instill an everyday faith in your kids lives, you have to incorporate faith in the daily rhythm.
Every family rhythm is different, but on a basic level, everyone wakes up, eats, travels, and sleeps. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses taps into this natural rhythm when he encourages his people to nurture lasting faith in their kids. “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
He was essentially saying, if you are going to impress these truths in the hearts of your children, you will have to be more deliberate about creating a rhythm within your home.
So think your family’s weekly rhythm. What does it look like?
Which nights do you tend to eat together?
What do you do when you first get home from work?
What is your nighttime routine to get ready for bed?
What do you do every Saturday morning?
How do you spend Sundays?
What can you do this week to be more intentional in your interactions with your kids during those moments?
Parents have an advantage when it comes to the issue of time. At least until your children are old enough to drive, you have a window of opportunity to maximize a relationship with your children by the way you handle time. The time you spend together as a family should be both interactive and intentional. When both are true, you increase the capacity and influence of your time with your kids.
A PLACE TO FAIL
Posted by Brooklyn Lindsey
Ninety percent of parenting is mental, the other half is physical.
In other words, it takes all of you and a little more.
Parenting is no joke and lends itself to forming humans who can eventually wake up on their own, bathe themselves, sort out tasks for the day, and speak without grunts, groans, or whining. At least, that’s the hope. Right?
When parents come to me, it’s usually not because everything is perfect in their world. (I’ve never met one of those parents.) It’s usually because something isn’t going well and they’ve run out of ideas and electronics to ban.
It can be hard for parents to see how their child’s current crisis can become a positive thing. I don’t like suggesting that pain or failure is good (in the moment), but it’s usually where the conversation leads. I want parents to be able to see how these failures work well for kids.
I want to suggest that this failure, this struggle, this really hard to bear moment is a gift. It’s the chance for you to teach your child truth. It’s difficult when a parent’s heart is hurting to encourage them to say this out loud and believe it every time their child experiences failure.
“Pass or fail, this struggle can be good for you as you’re becoming the adult I’m preparing you to be.”
It’s awkward giving this advice to parents, especially parents of middle schoolers. It’s awkward because it seems ludacris. These kids have a lot going on in the phase of life they’re currently in. This phase alone is enough to keep a parent (and their entire support system) entirely occupied.
So why would we humbly ask a parent for some space on their last nerve to imagine the end?
Because I’ve learned through experience and research that what an adult believes about his or herself controls their biological makeup, that biology controls behaviors, and behaviors determine successes in life. Belief is a huge. Parenting involves helping kids grow into adults with healthy beliefs about themselves, developing confidence.
If you can imagine confidence being a part of a kid’s belief system, then you can also imagine kids needing exercises in confidence to help build their belief system.
Beliefs are formed over time.
Here are some ways you can help coach kids through failures onto a path of confident independence:
There’s nothing more important in a kid’s life than what they believe to be true. Those beliefs will guide them into adulthood and for the rest of their lives. If we don’t give them a chance to exercise the beliefs that they are loved, forgiven, strong, and resilient, they will struggle finding the ability to believe it when they’re adults.
We don’t have to look very hard for places where our kids will fail. They will fail (and we will too). We may have to be a little more intentional when looking for ways to use failure as the best place to teach them about who they are.
Imagine how your kids will react to failure when they are 18, 20, 35. What do you hope they will believe to be true in those moments? That imagination will cue you as a parent to lean in a little closer to the fail when it shows up at your front door. Give your kids a safe place, while they are with you, to help them navigate through it.
About the Author:
Brooklyn has been a youth pastor since 2001. She has authored numerous books and projects and is a youth pastor at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, her first priority. Second, she is a speaker who loves teaching from the Bible and leading people to live in response to God’s love. Brooklyn, while named after a city in New York, lives in the sunshine state with her husband, Coy, and their sweet girls, Kirra and Mya.
LEADING YOUR KIDS TO SERVE
Posted by Geoff Surratt
I grew up hating church. I didn’t have any theological problems with church, I was just bored. Sitting still for more than ten minutes was torture, and sometimes our services went on for two hours! The worst part is that my dad was the pastor, so we were there every time the door was open. And the door was open a lot: Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night.
Sometimes we had “revivals” (which I assumed was a Greek word for “torture young children”) It meant going to a church service every night of the week. My number one goal was to grow up and not go to church. My number two goal was to be an astronaut, but I figured that would get me out of church as well.
Several decades later, and I still attend church almost every weekend. How did I wind up right back at the place I loathed? There are a few reasons:
One is a strong conviction that, as flawed as it is, the local church is the hope of the world.
Another reason I never left the church is that something changed in me between elementary school and when I left for college.
My attention span didn’t increase; I still struggle to sit still for more than ten minutes. The big change for me was that in middle school, I began serving in the church; I joined the children’s ministry puppet team.
For the first time church wasn’t something I watched, it was something I did. I was part of a team, and we enjoyed what we did. Eventually, I became a leader in the student ministry. And by the time I graduated from high school, I was speaking on a regular basis at our weekly high school gatherings.
Serving transformed me from a reluctant spectator to an engaged participant. 36 years later, and I’m still committed to the local church.
I saw the same pattern in my own kids. When they were young, we had to drag them to church. But in middle school, when they began to serve, their attitudes changed. By the time they graduated from high school, they were each spending more time serving at church than my wife and me, and we were both on the church staff. Today each of them serve full time at their local church.
As a parent, one of the biggest things you can do to help your children connect with God and with the local church is to model and encourage a lifestyle of serving. Here are a few ideas how to get started:
Find serving opportunities as soon as possible
It is never too early to sow the seeds of a servant’s attitude in the hearts of your children. Reward them when they help pick up the toys at home. Encourage them to offer to help their teacher clean up when class is over at church. Always look for ways they can begin serving others.
Invite your children to serve with you
Volunteer to serve regularly in their class at church, and invite them to help you. They can help pick up toys, hand snacks, and clean up when the other kids are gone. If you serve in a younger class, invite your older kids to help.
Help them find a place to serve on their own
When my daughter was in middle school, she began teaching herself to play the guitar. It quickly became apparent she had a lot of natural ability, but she was too shy to ask if she could play in the middle school band. I talked the youth pastor into inviting her to play, and that opportunity still shapes how she serves. There are many places in your church where your middle school kids can serve; children’s ministry, greeters, ushers, musicians, vocalists are just a few. Don’t be shy about asking adult leaders how they can involve your kids in serving.
Make serving a part of the rhythm of your house
One of the reasons I began serving in church is it was just a regular part of who we were as a family. My dad, my mom, my brothers and my sister all served in the local church, and serving took the highest priority.
As you look at your family schedule and all the activities you juggle on a weekly basis, which are most likely to have a long term impact on the spiritual development of your children? Baseball? Cheerleading? Chemistry homework? Learning a lifetime of serving others?
I believe, and have seen in my own family, few things in life have a more positive impact than learning to serve.
About the Author:
Geoff currently serves as Associate Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Parker, Colorado and coaches churches and leaders around the country. He is the author of The Multisite Church Revolution, The Multisite Church Roadtrip, and Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing. Geoff is married to Sherry, and they have two awesome kids, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and the most beautiful granddaughters on earth.
RESOLVING TO ENDURE
Posted by Tim Walker
I ran a 5k once.
Once is the operative word.
I might do it again some day when the faint smell of impending death finally leaves my nostrils. The race was fine, it was the runner who had a problem.
I had always wanted to do it and wondered if I could. So when I turned 40, a friend of mine said he would run it with me. His company put on an annual 5K as a fundraiser for a local charity, and he had done it before.
So with the promise of a running buddy, I signed up. We trained separately, but on race day, he promised he would stay with me the whole time. I figured that promise would fade away once we got out there and the lure of a finish line and a good time would win over running alongside dead weight.
I was wrong. My friend John stayed with me every step of the way. And I do mean step. Because I ran some, walked some. Prayed—a lot. And the entire time I thought “my lungs are going to explode,” “my legs feel like they are made of lead,” and “is this how I’m going to die?”
5K seems so much shorter on a piece of paper. After all, 5K is like a really small computer file size. But on this particular course, 5K felt like an endless loop.
But I endured, finished the race, and got a t-shirt. It really was all about the finish line and that t-shirt. I was proud of that t-shirt. Now five years later, and a few pounds heavier, I don’t ever wear that shirt. But I survived.
Some seasons of life are like that. They seem okay, then you step in and it’s so much more than you realized it would be. It’s hard. It’s painful. You just want it to stop. But you have to see it through to the end. You have to endure. And as a parent, those seasons are part of life.
Endurance is a word associated with triathletes, not families. In fact, some might even take issue with it being used in that context.
I can’t imagine a wife being happy with her husband responding to a moment of time spent together by saying, “I endured it.”
Or a parent being happy with a child enduring the words of wisdom they are trying to impart.
But parenting and families require endurance. There are sexier words, like commitment, for example. But commitment feels like something in our head at times. Endurance feels like something that requires something of us—physically, mentally, emotionally.
And family requires enduring those seasons. Like illness. Or hormones. Or new freedoms. Or bad choices.
The t-shirts for this race are poop or vomit stained, or years out of fashion.
But you endure. You keep going. Because the cost of stopping is too great. The relationship with your kids is too important. You have to see them through.
When they’re younger, you may be holding their hand through the “race.”
And as they get older, seeing them through may be simply cheering on the sidelines and praying fervently as they take step after step on their own.
And if you have more than one child, you get to walk through those seasons in a different way with each different child.
It all requires endurance. Staying the course. Never leaving.
Seeing it through to the end.
Sometimes that involves running, other times it’s walking, limping or even crawling.
Because the race was meant to be finished.
And to do that, sometimes you just have to resolve to endure.
About the Author:
Tim Walker is the lead editor for MarriedPeople.org, and also works on other projects for Orange. He has been married to his wife, Jennifer, over 20 years and has three sons, twin boys in high school and his oldest in college. He blogs at timswords.com and tweets @timswords.
ONE MARBLE AT A TIME
Posted by Autumn Ward
So I’ve started this blog post like 14 different ways (not exaggerating). It just might be the most challenging one yet. Once you know what it’s about maybe you’ll understand why.
I’ve been told there are 936 weeks in the life of a child from birth to 18. We have a visual for those weeks here at Orange in the form of a jar filled with 936 marbles. The idea is that when you count the weeks you have left with a kid, you stand a better chance of making your weeks count. As you take one marble out of the jar each week, the marbles begin going down, you see what you have left… you get the idea.
I have 3 kids and the jar of my first-born has 4 marbles in it.
One. Two. Three. Four.
A cap and gown.
A prom tux.
Graduation announcements . . .
All reminders that there’s not much time left before the infant that entered my home 18 years ago will soon be leaving as a man.
It’s not that I’m sad really. I imagine I’m feeling close to what a person feels like when . . .
a great life work is coming to a close.
the company that was once a dream is now making a profit.
the book has been written and the first copy is in-hand.
a doctorate is framed and hung on the wall.
These are dreams placed in someone’s heart that they . . .
poured their life into,
made their biggest investments in,
and waited years for a return that was never guaranteed.
Dreams this big leave you totally depleted and yet full in the most satisfying way.
It’s your passion.
It’s what you sacrifice for.
It’s what keeps you up at night.
It’s what drives you in every decision you make.
It’s what will take you to the edge of sanity and make you question why God ever thought you could do this.
It will expose every flaw you possess and bring out heroic qualities you never imagined lived within you.
That’s what parenting—and my family—has been for me. It will forever be my greatest life work.
It makes me want to cry and cheer all at the same time when I look at my son. Being his mom and getting to be a part of him becoming who he is today has been the most amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I want to shout, “I did it! I did it! Look what God used me to do! Look at my son! He’s amazing!” (cue the band, parade and confetti)
Looking back, I can’t even begin to tell you where all of my 936 marbles went.
Some were spent sitting in a rocking chair just staring at his infant face.
Others looking for Blue’s Clues,
putting Transformers together,
listening to him read his first book to me,
eating lunch with him at school,
going on all those field trips,
shopping for cool shirts.
talking about girls,
talking about God,
helping him recover from his first broken heart,
letting him chauffeur me around,
taking selfies together,
getting ready for prom . . .
It’s worth pointing out that when I look back, it’s not the “big” moments that I remember most. It’s the smaller everyday moments that stand out. I truly believe the best way to spend your marbles is by simply making yourself available.
It’s making the most of the drive to practice. Eating dinner together with no electronic devices. Helping with homework. Playing in the yard. Hosting sleepovers and listening to their stories.
We will always be our children’s parents. But things change when they move away. My son will be going away to college soon, He’ll be out on his own, putting to use the years he has spent under our influence. We had our eighteen years, and now it’s time for him to go and be all that God made him to be. After all, that was the plan all along.
God used us to help an infant become a man. And not just any man. An amazing man who loves God and loves people. This was the hope—our end in mind—that guided our choices as we spent our marbles. It’s what helped us stay focused.
Listen, parenting is hard. It is a culmination of your worst and best moments. One day you’re speaking wisdom in love and the next you’re yelling in anger. Some of your marbles will be spent restoring a relationship while others will be simply playing in a sandbox. Both are needed.
The point is to imagine the end, and make the 936 weeks you have with your child count. Because I’m telling you, it will feel like there’s a hole in the bottom of your jar, but there’s not. Time just really does go by that fast, and before you know it you’ll look over and see 4 marbles sitting there.
Now, go be an amazing parent. You’ve got this! One marble at a time.
About the Author:
Autumn Ward is lead writer for First Look preschool curriculum at Orange and author of The Easter Story, a board book for young children that tells the story of God’s gift of salvation. It was written to give parents of preschoolers a tool to help them share God’s story with their child in an age-appropriate way that hopefully will stay with them forever. Order your copy today at OrangeBooksforPreschoolers.com and receive a bonus printable page of activities to do with your own child or to share with the families in your church and community.