PASSING DOWN FAITH-FILLED LIFE, NOT TRIAL-FREE LIFE
Posted by Courtney DeFeo
Do you remember the first time your child was in harm’s way? I remember the time my oldest kicked a bright bouncy ball and landed on her head on the concrete. I remember when my youngest got her feelings hurt by a friend and cried real tears, not whiny tears.
I’ve watched my kids hurt many times, and it stinks.
My knee-jerk reaction is to protect, hover, block, or tattle. Basically do anything to prevent my children from feeling pain.
The same goes with their faith. I want them to fall in love with Jesus and frankly never walk away, while at the same time never experiencing hardship. And then I realize I love them too much to desire a trial-free life. I remember my biggest moments of personal and spiritual growth were during my trials.
Bringing faith to life in our home is a great privilege. I’m encouraged that we don’t have to have a perfect life to pass down a faith-filled life. He has got this. Our role is to simply teach them what we already know and to continue learning and sharing more day by day as we grow.
You don’t have to have a perfect life to pass down a faith-filled life to your kids.
You can make a difference even if you’re only one second ahead of your children in your own journey to know Jesus Christ better.
Your fear and your uncertainty can show them God’s grace and mercy.
Your mistakes can teach them forgiveness.
Your strengths can shine a spotlight on God’s blessings and gifts.
Your daily ordinary tasks can become extraordinary opportunities to reach the hearts of your children.
Is anyone with me? Let’s slowly unpeel our grips and give God the chance to show up in the midst of trials. It’s hard to imagine, but He loves our kids even more than we do.
About the Author:
Courtney DeFeo is a popular blogger, the creator of ABC Scripture Cards, which are sold nationwide, and the author of “In This House We Will Giggle”. A graduate of Auburn University, she has a background in marketing and public relations and has worked for Ketchum Public Relations and Chick-fil-A. Courtney and her husband, Ron, currently live in Orlando, FL and are the parents of two young girls, Ella and Larson. You can read more from Courtney on her blog, Lil Light O’ Mine.
HUDDLE IN CLOSE
Posted by Brooklyn Lindse
“The boys just kind of swarmed around one another next to their buddy, not really knowing what to say or what to do. They just knew they wanted to be close to each other. Somehow that helped. These fifth grade boys were huddled together at the front of the church after the funeral for the mother of the one in the middle of the bunch. It was evidence of community. It was unsophisticated and simple but it was very, very real.” -Mike Sligh, Headmaster, Lakeland Christian School (January 28, 2015)
What a beautiful picture, uninhibited by simplicity, and not afraid of the silence that sometimes accompanies genuine support and love. I’m encouraged by the kindness of a group of 5th grade boys. The words that they chose to show their love were spelled in the act of huddling in close.
Life brings tragedy and heartache. And as a parent, you will likely have to watch your child experience grief, whether it be over the loss of a special toy, a friendship or boyfriend, or even the life of someone close to them.. And your heart breaks too. Because you want to fix it, resolve it, but you know you can’t. How do you walk through it with them? What words do you say and how do you comfort your grieving child?
Huddling in close is one of the greatest kindnesses we can show our kids during these times.
We don’t have to say anything.
They likely don’t want to explain.
We realize without asking that everything is not fine in their world.
The words that they need are your proximity and your heart’s empathy.
Huddling in close is kindness for the weeping.
In those moments it’s normal to be unsure about what to say or what to do. There is no playbook for comforting our kids or anyone in crisis–except the guidance of love, the whisper of empathy, the holy nudge inside telling us to remain quiet or to reach out. There is no script for explaining to your child the sadness at hand. The best thing we can do is 1) admit that we don’t have an answer and 2) resist the temptation to try to make things better with our words.
Words will come later. Love comes in kindness first.
Be kind to the one who is hurting in your life. It could be your spouse, your child, or a friend.
Be kind by huddling in close without expectation and waiting for them to show you how to love them.
I wish I could get this right more often. The things I’ve heard echoed to me in painful situations over time can be heard escaping my lips before I’ve have had a chance to really weigh how they might be received. No one wants to add tears to a weeping soul. Nor do we ever want to crush to joy of a heart truly in celebration. But sometimes we do one or the other, without even knowing it. And sometimes, even when we’ve messed up, our next step should be to just huddle in close.
Huddle in knowing that love heals us.
Huddle in remembering that love binds us together.
Huddle in knowing that forgiveness will come.
Huddle in knowing that the huddling in type is the kind of community that every kid and family needs.
When my uncle passed away this summer, I was the officiate at his “way too soon” funeral. His only daughter, my precious cousin, faced me in the front row as I talked about her beloved dad. I felt deep in my soul that there weren’t any words that could capture him, there weren’t any words that could honor him best. But I knew that being there was saying what my words could not.
Later that day, my family climbed hay bales in the fields and drove four wheelers around the land of my uncle’s house. We laughed, remembering all of the adventures we’ve had in the past and all that we hoped for in the future. Without saying anything at all.
Huddle in close. Let the personality of a group of 5th graders be your guide. They’re so okay with not knowing the way, and so very willing to walk into it anyway.
What has helped you most when you have experienced grief?
What do you think your kids need most from you when they are walking through it?
Romans 12:15 “Celebrate with those who celebrate and weep with those who weep.”
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.
Don’t Miss Date Night!
by Nina Schmidgall
When I informed my daughter one night that a sitter was on her way because mom and dad were going out on a date, she crossed her arms to express her displeasure that she was not being invited along on the outing.
“You guys like each other more than you like us! Hmph!” But the little smile on her face gave me a clue to her real feelings. She is thankful for a mom and dad that love each other and finds comfort in our desire to be together.
There are endless things that our children need from us to thrive. Sometimes our minds can run away with the pressures of all we need to pass along. But here is one that can benefit us too.
Kids need their parents to make date night a priority.
A healthy relationship between parents communicates to children that love existed before them and will exist after them. This releases kids from the burden of feeling like love in the family is dependent on them.
My husband and I have three young kids at home (ages 7, 5, and 2) and are both very busy in ministry and the demands of family life. It feels like we are constantly managing the tensions of calendar and budget that make date nights difficult.
Here are some ways that my husband and I make date nights a priority:
Save for Gift Cards.
My husband tells me often that his love language is food! So he always asks extended family for restaurant gift cards for his birthday and for Christmas. This way, we are able to go out to dinner using the gift cards, and it is a bit less painful to cover the cost of the babysitter. It keeps up from breaking the bank and it allows those that love us to bless us with the gift of time together. And I am able to chatter away without interruption while he is happily held as a captive audience in front of his steak.
Budget Date Dollars.
We think date nights are important enough to budget for them! Isn’t it true that a top indicator of our priorities can be reflected in our calendar and in our budgets? My husband and I set aside money that is intended specifically for date nights. This reduces the guilt factor when we are spending the money for a date.
Exchange for Housing.
For a year, we had someone living in our basement spare room and, in return, asked that we could have a weekly date night out together. I cannot recall a time that our marriage was stronger or that we were more consistently connected than that year of regular time together.
Take Turns Planning.
Okay, I can’t lie. This is actually something we learned from a friend but are still trying to master ourselves. Too often, we run to the car for our date as though we were just freed from prison and get inside to just look each other expectantly because neither of us made a plan! I mean, (hypothetically, of course!) there could be a disagreement while you spend the first portion of the date trying to come to an agreement about the plan! Consider taking turns to make the plan so each person has the opportunity and responsibility to choose the fun.
Plan a Home Date.
Put those kids to bed, turn off the TV, and lock up the computers! Put a fancy dinner on the table and turn on some grown-up music. Stay home dates are the most inexpensive option but they require discipline to make them count.
Where we live, most people live away from their extended families. Communities of friends really support each other in place of relatives. We were so blessed to start a habit of kid-swapping when our first was young. We would take her to a friend’s house and just pick up her sleepy self to take her home at the end of the night. Now that we have more kids, we take turns with a friend, keeping their kids from 5-8 pm on a weekend so we can avoid bedtime routine. We feed the children and put them in their pajamas in time for mom and dad to take them home and tuck them in bed. They do the same for us the next week. Mom and Dad get a night out and the kids get a playdate with friends!
A commitment to making date nights a priority is an investment in your family and a way to express to your children that protecting a marriage takes work.
Don’t miss date night!
What are some creative ways that you make sure date night happens?
About the Author:
Nina serves as Director of Family Ministry at National Community Church in Washington DC. Nina originally moved from California to the nation’s capital to work for the United States Congress, serving as a Legislative Director in the House of Representatives. Writing and directing education and family policy, Nina realized her deep passion for strengthening the family and the home. She has overseen the family ministry department at NCC since 2001, growing the children’s programs to seven locations. Nina and her husband, Joel, live on Capitol Hill with their three young kids: Eloise, Ezekiel, and Lorenza.
Finding Life as a Parent
by Carey Nieuwhof
One of the best things you can give your kids is a a full tank. The reality is that life constantly empties our tank. How do you refill it?
As we talked about in a past post, more than a few parents have probably leaned too heavily into their kids as a source of life, having their own happiness overly tied into the happiness and fortunes of their kids. If your kids are your main source of happiness and fulfillment, you might want to rethink that.
To get us started, here’s a question:
When was the last time you did something that gave you life that didn’t involve your kids?
I think there are things that give life to all of us. And there are those that drain us. What I’d love most is for you to discover what that is in your life. And to get you started, I’ll share some things I’ve learned about myself:
Things that drain me:
And here are some things that energize me—that give me life (outside of family):
I don’t know what it is for you, but I know there are certain activities and patterns that give me life. And when I spend significant amounts of time doing things that give me life, I actually have life to bring to my family. I show up with something to offer—not needing the people I love the most to make me feel better.
So what’s your pattern? What energizes you and brings you life? I’d love lots of you to share. And here’s why:
I think so many parents have been running on empty for so long that we’ve forgotten what brings us life.
So go for it! What drains you and what gives you life?
About the Author:
Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Church and author of several books, including Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (with Reggie Joiner) and his latest book, "Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow." Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership and parenting. He writes one of the most widely read church leadership blogs at www.CareyNieuwhof.com and hosts the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews top leaders each week.