Monday, October 17, 2011

Parenting around the World - new post!

I absolutely love this quote from the website  www.mamasworldwide.com  It really shows that you can't compare yourself with anyone because if you do, you are only ignoring what God has instilled inside of you to be the parent He wants you to be.  Unique, and able to raise your children confidently.

In one very telling study of Lebanese moth­ers trans­planted to Aus­tralia, for exam­ple, the clash of cul­tures was clearly illus­trated by how the women approached par­ent­ing.  The Aus­tralian moth­ers expected their preschool­ers to be highly ver­bal and to be pre­pared for the rig­ors of school.  The Aus­tralian moth­ers also felt that cer­tain devel­op­men­tal tasks have only a small win­dow of oppor­tu­nity dur­ing which a child can acquire those skills, and that if kids are not poked and prod­ded they will fall behind and be losers.  The Lebanese moth­ers, in con­trast, felt no urge to teach their chil­dren any par­tic­u­lar skills before they went to school and felt kids would learn skills as they needed them; there was no sense of “it’s too late.”  In addi­tion, the Lebanese moth­ers were much more con­cerned about their children’s wel­fare at school.  As a result, Aus­tralian teach­ers labeled the Lebanese kids as unpre­pared for school and over­pro­tected, but the Lebanese moth­ers felt they were doing what was expected of any mother…
Imag­ine the Cam­bo­dian woman new to Amer­ica who is told by her physi­cian to make sure the baby sleeps in his own bed.  Or imag­ine the Guatemalan woman who is con­fused by all the toys her new cul­ture says she must buy for her baby’s hap­pi­ness.  Or what about the British woman who looks in dis­dain at the Niger­ian woman breast-feeding in pub­lic.  Now, more that ever, we need to under­stand how cul­ture molds what we do and what oth­ers do.  By com­par­ing our­selves with oth­ers, and com­par­ing each group with yet another, we also oblit­er­ate any notions of “normal.”

Very interesting article, as well.  If you want to read the whole thing, here's the link: http://www.mamasworldwide.com/2009/04/06/cultural-differences-in-parenting/

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bonjour, mon ami! - Parenting around the World installment #2

Continuing my "Parenting around the World" series, installment two takes a look at the French and their parenting tendencies. Once again, this is not a blanket statement about any culture, but I believe we all can learn a little something from each other. Here is a quote from Janine DiGiovanni, a mother living in France, who recently talked about the parenting techniques of some French mothers she has seen. Its an interesting contrast. What do you think?

"It all starts from the cradle. In Britain, new mothers read the gentle and loving Penelope Leach; in America, they read the classic Dr Spock. But in France, mothers read one of the gurus of French child development, Fran├žoises Dolto. Dolto was an authoritarian who believed that children should be separate from their parents and live their own lives.
"Dr Spock would be too lovey-dovey for a French parent," laughs Thompson, who adds that this all filters down to the educational system. "In France, it is not about blossoming. It's about the transmission of knowledge."
Which is not altogether a bad thing if you have spent time in America and observed the phenomenon of spoilt-rotten American children. I will never forget my husband's horror when some visiting Upper-West-Siders I barely knew arrived at one of our dinner parties with their uninvited nine-year-old son.
That would have been fine; except that Seth was one of these precocious Manhattan kids who had to sit at the table with adults. He completely took over the evening, interrupting adults' conversations, and - to the delight of his besotted parents - performed a 10-minute hip-hop routine between courses.
In France, that would simply never have happened. The child would have been paraded out to say bonsoir, peck cheeks, and then scurry back to his or her room to read or study.
"Children in France are seen, but not heard," says one American friend, Katherine, who is a mother of two. "Except on the playground, where the parents don't get involved and then it becomes Lord of the Flies."'

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Uh,Oh Elizabeth...its the big one!


There are many times that we as parents make mistakes, but there seems to be that big one...
The one that we all do from time to time that plagues our kids across america: We try to over-protect them instead of walking with them through the ups and downs of life.  Now don't get me wrong, if we see a pond full of crocodiles, then yeah, I expect that we would kind of steer our kids clear of it.  However, to swoop in and be superman or superwoman all the time and not let our kids taste defeat, discouragement, or disappointment on an appropriate level, could being upon some significant rammifications.  Here is a great piece from an article written by Josh Harris at joshharris.com, talking about this issue.  Thanks Scott Todd for putting this article out there!

"Relationships between parents and teens are weakest in control-oriented homes. Bev and I treated our children as if they were "projects." The more they became projects, the less we had significant relationship. The less we had relationship, the more we lost their hearts. Without their hearts, the less we were able to influence them or their values. We regularly spent hour coaching and admonishing them during the teen years, not realizing that without their hearts, the best we could do was make more rules and devise new consequences. The consequences affected the outside, but not the inside.
Our Story
When my oldest son was almost 16 we let him get his first job washing dishes at a restaurant managed by a Christian friend of ours. As diehard shelterers we wrestled with whether or not our son was ready to enter the world's workforce. We knew we couldn't shelter him forever, and so finally concluded that he should be old enough to send into the world two nights a week. What we didn't realize was that he would be working with drug-using, tattooed, partiers, and our Christian friend was never scheduled to work our son's shift.
Within a month it became apparent that our son's new work associates were having an effect on him. He came home one evening and asked, "Dad, can I dye my hair blue?" After my wife was finally able to peal me off the ceiling, I laid into him, reminding him whose son he was, and that I would not have people at church telling their children not to be like the pastor's son. I explained that just because he wanted to use washable dye, it didn't make me any happier. (Note that my intense reaction had to do with "outward appearances" and the impact on me.)
Of course, my wife and I immediately began to evaluate whether we had made a mistake by letting him take the job. After an intense discussion we decided to coach him more carefully and let him keep his job.
Two months later he came home from work and asked me if he could pierce his ear. Again, my wife had to peal me off the ceiling. He thought it might be okay since he wanted a cross earring -- like I was supposed to be happy, because it would be a "sanctified" piercing. If that wasn't enough, he also wanted to get a tattoo! But it was going to be okay, because it would be a Christian tattoo!
As I was looking back on this experience several years later, something my son said shortly after he started his job kept coming back to me. When I picked him up the second night of work, he got in the car with a big smile on his face and said "They like me!" As I dwelt on that comment, it suddenly came clear to me - my son had finally met someone who liked him for who he was. Few others in his entire life had shown him much acceptance, especially not his mother and I. It is no exaggeration - in our efforts to shape and improve him, all we did was find fault with everything he did. We loved him dearly, but he constantly heard from us that what he did (who he was) wasn't good enough. He craved our approval, but we couldn't be pleased. Years later, I realized he had given up trying to please us when he was 14, and from then on he was just patronizing us.
The reason our son wanted to adorn himself like his work associates, was because they accepted him for who he was. He wanted to fit in with those who made him feel significant. He wanted to be like those who gave him a sense of identity. The problem wasn't one that could be solved by extended sheltering - he could have been sheltered until he was 30 and he still would have been vulnerable. The problem was that we had sent our son into the world insecure in who he was. He went into the world with a hole in his heart that God had wanted to fill through his parents.
Whether believer or unbeliever, those young people who are least tempted to follow the crowd are those who are secure in themselves and don't need the approval of others. The Bible calls insecurity the fear of man - it is allowing other's opinions of us to affect our values and choices.
The Solution
In the Bible we see that people obeyed God for two reasons - fear and love. King David sang of his love for God (Ps 18:1; 116:1; 119:159) and he also sang of the fear of God (Ps 2:11; 22:25; 33:8). God wants His followers to be drawn to Him out of love (Jer 31:3), and that's why it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4). But He also wants us to be kept on the path by fear of His authority (Luke 12:5; 1 Pet 2:17). That's why He told the Israelites He wanted both their fear and their love; "And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut 10:12). With our children, it should be the same.
Those who have the most power to influence our hearts are those to whom we are drawn: those who succeed with our values (which is what a hero is), those who can benefit us, those who make us feel valuable, and those who have earned our respect.
If our children grow up motivated only by fear of consequence, they will eventually get away with what they can whenever we are not around (Eph 6:6). If we have their hearts they will seek to honor us whether we are present or not, and their hearts will remain open to our influence.
I refer you to the apostle Paul who modeled this approach to leadership perfectly, "Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love..." (Phile 1:8-9a). Paul's pattern with the churches suggests he understood that appeals to love were more powerful than commands and threats.
Conclusion
I am convinced that the most contagious parenting is living a heartfelt faith before your children. Fruitful interaction is not about what you do to your young people, but who you are with them. It's about having a real faith in God, and expressing it in a real relationship with a real person--not about methods and self-working principles. God intends that the side-effect of loving Jesus and enjoying the grace of the gospel will be that all people--including our children--will be touched by the Savior in us. I pray in Jesus' name that as you read these words you will experience the grace of God in a fresh and new way."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Parenting around the world - Episode 1

I am going to begin a series of interesting parenting practice articles from the world.  These are things that I have compiled through reading, listening and watching programs dealing with parenting.  What I find interesting is that across the board, cultures from around the world find value not only in the children, but also in those who are in relationship with the child...everyone.  I hope you enjoy reading these and maybe they will spark some discussion and/or ideas!  Here's the first one:

In the Asian culture, a common postpartum behavior is for the new mom to go to bed for a month while everyone pampers her. Here is a great piece from http://www.media.wiley.com/...

"Family members, and sometimes neighbors, take over cooking and cleaning; when the baby needs to be fed, they bring a freshly changed infant to the mother.
In China, this practice is called zuo yuezi (sitting through the month). The woman must stay in bed behind closed windows, cover her head, and take many precautions to insure that she not damage her ability to produce breast milk."

Gives a new perspective on "It takes a village to raise a child," huh?

School again?

This Labor Day weekend made me realize something about parenting.  No one is born with a innate sense of parenting.  We may think we are or we may say that its "natural", but I have learned that a lot of our parenting abilities come from life experience and trial and error...lots of error.

My 5 year old is learning to ride her bike without training wheels and she asked me to help her.  I, of course, said sure!  Being dad, I felt like this is one of my duties. 

We lasted 10 minutes and I was at my breaking point!

I thought, "What is up with this kid?"..."Why can't she just get her balance?"..."Wonder what's for dinner?"

I then thought back to my own bike riding experiences.  When I first got on a bike in my friend Adam Betz's backyard, fell down countless numbers of times, but eventually got up on the bike and rode it shakily down the driveway and back...

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I DON'T KNOW HOW TO TEACH MY CHILD TO RIDE A BIKE BECAUSE NO ONE TAUGHT ME!

I couldn't believe it.  The picture on TV of the dad watching his child pedal away with pride in his eyes never, ever happened to me.  I came home that day with scrapes and bruises, but I knew how to ride a bike.  Dad was working his fingers to the bone to provide for us.  However, I didn't have the skills to teach what I had learned on my own.  I immediately did what most all of you would have done...

I went to the internet and googled, "teach your child to ride a bike."

Reading Matthew 6:8 this morning was put in a whole new perspective after this experience,

"Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Really?  Didn't I need to know how to help my child ride a bike 24 hours ago, Lord?  But then I thought, "maybe this isn't about me.  Maybe its about my child."  She looked at me with disappointment when she couldn't get it and, thank the Lord, I looked at her and simply replied, "Don't worry about it, honey.  We'll get it done."

That's what she needed and that's what I needed to learn.  All we have as parents are our instincts.  But we have so much more when we allow God to work in our lives.  During those frustrating times, when we don't have the answers, more times than not, a simple word or listening ear is all that is required to reach our children.

Just goes to prove that class is never out for us as parents...God is constantly putting us through school again, and again, and again...enjoy the ride.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What's Happening?

Wow, nearly 2 months have passed without a blog post.

Yeah, I knew that would happen.

Nevertheless, great things and trying things have been happening.  Here's a list:

Great: people are loving the orange small group curriculum!
Trying: people aren't too sure about the orange small group curriculum.

Great: I have really rededicated my self to my wife and I's relationship.
Trying: I HAD to rededicate my self to my wife and I's relationship.

Great: I can really feel things moving here at SCC.
Trying: Because things are moving, the attacks are coming more steadily now from the enemy.

Great: I'm in a groove at work.
Trying: I was in a rut at home.

Needless to say, this summer has really taught me some things.  I needed to be kicked in the rear in order to refocus some priorities and really realize what matters.  How can I preach orange if I'm not living it in my own household?  I hate lessons...they just make you feel stupider.

(Yeah, I just said, 'stupider')

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guilty, guilty, guilty!

Yeah, I know.  I haven't written in a while, but I must say, great strides have been taken in this Orange Journey God has us on.  We have committed to the Orange philosophy 100% and have purchased both First Look and 252 Basics.  The First Look folks, for the most part, are trained and ready to use the curriculum.  The 252 Folks will be in 2 weeks.  Family Game Night is coming together...we have 15 of 50 volunteers that we would like to have and they will come in soon, we have a list of things needed for each game that I have to purchase, we have the food situation beginning to come together, and now, the only thing left is a big publicity push which will take shape today.  All in all, God is doing His thing and I'm simply getting out of the way.  However, I am sooooooo looking forward to our vacation next week!  Need a respite before the chaos of the second part of summer starts!  Thanks God.  We're getting orangery by the minute :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Funny Story of the Week

On Friday, I decided that it was too gorgeous outside to not grill out.  So, I went to Indy to pick my girls up for the weekend and talked it up all the way there.  They were excited that they actually got to spend the evening outside...so was I.

Well, I decided to make it "festive" by putting on a huge sombrero and grilling with it on.  Danaya, our 5 year old, came down the stairs after putting her stuff away in her room and said, "Daddy, you look silly."  I said, "Oh come on now.  I think it makes me look cool."  She said, and I quote, "It kind of makes you look like an African-American Spanish guy."

I am recovering fine from my gut surgery after rupturing it from laughing so hard.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We aint gotta go home, but we gotta get the heck up outta here!

Jesus is often funny in scripture.

Sometimes, he is compassionate.

Sometimes, he is poignant.

Sometimes, he is humble.

But occasionally, you can see the passionate fire that is inside Jesus up close and personal.

John 8:31-59 got me fired up today.  Its Jesus, basically punking the entire crowd who are reacting the same way we would if some hot shot got up and tried to claim that he KNOWS God and we don't.  What I love is at the end it says, "The people said, 'You aren't even fifty years old.  How can you say you have seen Abraham?'  Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!"

Just pause.  Stop reading and realize the gravity of that statement.  It is one of the very few times that Jesus is so bold, so assertive about his deity.  It is riveting.  But what I find funny, is can you imagine if you were the guy standing next to Jesus, loving Him and His message, and then he throws out that statement!

Evan: "Um, Lord."

Jesus: "What Evan?  I'm kind of busy here."

Evan: We aint gotta go home, but we gotta get the heck up outta here."

It says that Jesus was, "hidden from them and left the temple."  I wonder, in our desperation to avoid the revelation of sin in our lives, were both actions (arguing and starting to throw stones, and trying to whisk Jesus away) indications of our own struggles with the fact that we just don't trust God enough?

Think about it.  Its so much easier to sweep things under the carpet than deal with them, isn't it?  Its even easier to attack and rationalize things when we hear the truth rather than just to be silent and accept it, right?  May we be neither.  May we truly begin to allow Jesus to call us out, and when he does, may our hearts be broken and may we run to his arms.  Because I can guarantee this, He will love you no matter what, its just that we all need accountability and Jesus is the ultimate accountability partner.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bad Day, Good Day

Now before you say that I'm going crazy on you by putting such a confusing title to this blog post, read a little further...


a little more...


come on, you can do it...


OK.  So nothing went right this morning, couldn't get in a groove to save my life, when I went home, I ripped my shorts...let me clarify...My shorts got ripped on the back door going to let the dog out...

Then, the clouds parted.

I got a phone call from the reThink group, the good folks at Orange...THEY FIXED MY LOGIN INFORMATION!!!!!  We are now officially becoming Orange, folks.  What does that mean?  Who knows?  But its going to be a great ride.

I love the curriculum site.  It has left no stone unturned.  The site seems very user friendly, could use some clearer titles to documents, but other than that, very well done.  Shortly I should be getting a code to cruise on over to the kids'/parents' site!  Very excited about that as well.  Tons of stuff to do, all exciting, but daunting at the same time.  One step at a time, right Lord?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Accountability...even in elementary school!

Saw a great thing this morning.  A mom carrying her son, who looked upset, to the school bus, gently placed him in one of the seats, blew him a kiss, and then exited the bus.  Now to the regular person, that isn't very interesting.  However, since we all know that I'm not normal, let's look at what really happened.

That mom allowed her son to realize that we don't always get what we want and there are things in life that we simply must do that we won't feel like doing.

You must go to school. 
You must take care of business. 
You must do the right thing. 
Not even open for discussion.

 I love it.


Sometimes its very easy to "take it easy" on our kids and unfortunately, miss an awesome teaching opportunity.  Remember, reassure your child when they face something that they simply don't want to do, let them know that you are with them every step of the way, but don't let them off of the hook.  Remember what Lamentations 3:27 says, "It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young."  Teach them to endure things now by supporting them all the way, and you will be well on your way to raising some pretty good kids.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Its hard being a parent

I'm not going to tell who but this past Saturday, I walked around the side of my house after a hard day of landscaping and cleaning the yard up and what did I see?  One of my 11 year olds texting...to a boy.

Um...

No.  I don't think so.

Have you been there?  At that moment, my "little girl" ceased being a little girl and became...a pre-teen.

I shutter to even think about it.

I knew it was coming.  I just was in denial.  The thing that is most troubling for me is to think that with all of the years that we had up to this point, did I do everything I could to teach them right from wrong?  Was it enough?

In Christ, I don't think we have to ask that.  Deuteronomy 6 sets a high precedent for parents.  One that I believe even the best intentioned, stay at home parents during the Old Testament days even had problems with.  I like to use it to drive me, but I need a jumping off point.  I need something for the "b" team.  I found that in Proverbs 22:6 - "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

I like that.  You don't have to be perfect as a parent.  You just have to Love God.  Your kids will see that and that will be the training that they need.  What's funny is that even Deuteronomy 6 isn't all that hard when your heart is truly bent toward God.  Those things come naturally.

Later on in the day, after many m&m's and my blood pressure came down, I sat down with her.  She began to cry and said that she realized her mistake.  Now don't get me wrong, its not easy to "play" me.  I am in-tune to my kids as far as when they are turning on the tears to get me to let them off the hook.  However, I saw a genuine sense of remorse because when the punishment was issued (no cell phone privileges at our house) she was good with that.  She didn't like it, but she was good with it. 

Kids are like boomerangs, they may occasionally smack you up side the head unexpectedly, but they usually come back to where they started from.  Thanks God for being right.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where does disappointment come from?

I just got done reading Jon Acuff's blog "Stuff Christians Like."  His post today was awesome.  It got me thinking about disappointment and why we immediately want to turn to God and ask Him, "Why?"

"Why did she have to leave?"

"Why did I betray him like that?"

"Why did you put me through this?"

Suddenly, it hit.  Maybe instead of "Why," maybe we should be humbly asking "How."

"How could you stay by my side?  On the side of a sinner...an adulterer...a murderer...a thief...a liar...a gossip...a porn addict...an alcoholic...a drug abuser...a child abuser...?"

You see, I think disappointment comes from our inate need to place near perfect expectations on imperfect beings.  We simply cannot deliver.  No matter how hard we try and struggle, we will let someone down in our lives.  However, if during those tough times that we get disappointed, we take comfort in the fact that not only does God not disappoint, but that He is there!  Think about it.  Would you want to hang out with a person who cries everytime something doesn't go their way?  Or they complain when their ideal form of justice isn't carried out?  Yeah, that's me.

We try to fight it, but it simply is in our nature.  God knows this and yet, he still picks us.  He still backs us.  And He always will.  Talk about consistency.  Thanks God for never disappointing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Praises

Just wanted to take time out to thank God.  I know I forget to do that.  In the midst of some great small changes that are happening, I tend to lose sight of the small changes that God is conducting in me and in my relationships.

First, I thank you God for my wife.  She is a jewel.  Just the other day, we were talking, (and laughing mind you,) about how much of a pain that both of us can be, but that we would rather not go through life with anyone else other than each other.  I love that she is a realist.  It keeps my dreamer heart grounded.  However, she has this delicate side that not too many people get to see.  My wife works in corporate America and she has learned through the years how to not only hang, but excel in that world.  Sometimes though, she opens up and allows me to see the vulnerability that she has regarding God and his control in her life and that is the most intriguing thing about my wife.  She is a relatively new believer, less than 8 years, but her understanding of what is and isn't important when it comes to God is simply amazing.

Next, I want to thank you for my daughters.  I have no idea how they turned out the way they did, so it had to be you.  Through all of my mistakes, somehow, the girls have been able to see you through me a little.  And those times have been the sweetest of all.  Just the other day, my youngest came and sat on my lap and whispered after a while, "Daddy, you know you can do this with God too, right?" 

I fought the tears.

I was so proud.  And I can't even talk about my two oldest.  My twins have become young ladies who are so poised in their thinking and in life, I simply can't wait to see what is in store for them.  So God, I am going to continue to sit in the passenger's seat and simply go along for the ride when it comes to my kids.  Give me what I need to be their earthly daddy and you can do the rest.  You are much better at it than I am.

My friendships.  I have never had deeper, richer, and more fulfilling friendships than I do now.  I love all of my friends from the past and will always cherish them.  However, God has placed the right people, at the right time in my life.  They not only support me ministerially (is that a word?) but are truly interested in me and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Finally, I just want to thank you God.  You have never, nor will ever leave me.  I realize that you put me here to point kids and families to you because that is what's in my heart.  That's all I want to do...everyday...all day.  Thanks for including me in your awesome plan, God.  I am humbled and honored and will continue to move out of the way.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Took an "L" on that one.

Once again, just want to reiterate that I can't do this thing by myself.  Just when I forget that, God never fails to remind me :)  Yesterday was a less than stellar day.  However, because of this, I was able to connect with some parents of our children's ministry in ways that I wouldn't have (notice I said, "wouldn't" not "couldn't") if this incident didn't occur.  What's even more amazing is that I still am feeling down.

I don't get me.

I mean, why do I take things so personally?  Why is it that no matter what happens, whether big deal or not, it shakes the very foundations of reality for me and I get totally unglued?  Maybe I can answer that with a modern day parable.

Suppose you found the perfect spot on the beach to build a home.  Then lets just say that there are two guys who decide to build there because there is plenty of room to share and the first guy decides to build it himself.  He understands what is involved in building a house and what his should look like, (i mean come on, the guy has Google!), but he's not a contractor.  Heck, he doesn't have the first clue as to where to start.  However, if it can work with lincoln logs, then it can work with lumber and concrete.

The second guy actually hires someone who knows what they are doing when designing the house.  They take extra time to ask the guy what he wants in a beach house and is extra careful in designing just the right fit for him.  After the design is done, then the construction begins and before you know it, the second guy is moving into his dream beach house.  It didn't matter to the second guy how it got done, he just wanted it done right so he went to someone who knew how to do it right.

I guess the first guy is still probably trying to build his house today...and that is exactly what I have been doing.  Now, I'm not trying to be self-deprecating or anything like that, but I am confessing something here (forgive me father, its been 37 years since my last confession...). 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that in this orange journey, you can't hold on to things very tightly at all.  You have to be willing to let God take circumstances and situations and mold them into experiences that not only shape the ministry that He has given you, but you as well.  I'm sure as the second guy in my parable was watching the designer and construction people work, he had to be in awe at the preciseness and expertise of them all.  As God is designing this ministry, I am in awe.  I know when I have taken over...because that's when I start to see water coming into the house and windows not level and plumb.  Sorry Lord for getting in the way again.  Just keep moving me out of the way.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Its too quiet...

After getting my butt kicked, literally, by God the other day, I really feel good about the direction that the children's ministry is headed.  However, humility is something that I have had harsh lessons taught to me about.  I read something on relevant children's ministry's blog that touched me.  In our day of numbers and money, God isn't concerned about that.  No, really.  Its not about how big the church is or how many kids you take care of...its about you.  Yeah I said it.  Its about me!  Its all about me.  Let me clarify.

In going through this Orange journey, God has really confirmed me as his son.  I have began to press more and more into Him.  Small, baby steps, but we are like infants compared to Him so I think that's OK.  I, at times, feel like I'm walking through really thick mud, and other times, I feel like I'm floating on air.  However, in either instance, I'm walking.  I used to crawl, but now, I'm walking.  He is revealing His plan little by little to me for SCC's Children's Ministry and I can only hope to hang on for the ride.  He is in control, I am but a servant.  Right now, things are good.  So, how dare I call Him my Lord if I'm not willing to recognize Him in the good times and only cry out in the bad times.  So, thanks God, for allowing this time for me to simply have that holy unrest in my soul that tells me that you are in control and things are on the horizon.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The New, Orange Me.

Jason and I were talking this morning and I realize that I have a lot of growing up to do.  Not just growing, but growing up.  Let me explain.  I came to the harsh realization that I have preconceived notions about what the end product of this process is going to look like.  I admit, I have images of parents and children, skipping hand in hand, coming to church together with smiles on their faces because the parents have looked forward to being re-energized by Brad's preaching and to continue their children on the track to learning about Jesus by utilizing the CM (Children's Ministry for those who care :) ) as just 1 / 7 of their child's spiritual formation!

Of course, being the realist that he is, Jason brought me back down to earth.

What was intriguing about our conversation is the transparency that I am finding myself have now a days.  I am much more open to admitting mistakes than I had ever been before in my life.  My old paradigms are shattering and it is scary and it hurts at times, but I like what glimpses I see.  I see myself becoming a little more dependent upon the faithfulness of God, rather than the faithfulness of Evan each day.  For me, that is huge.  However, God really droveit home in my reading this morning.

Exodus 4: 1 - 17 is a section of scripture that kicks me in the butt.  I am a natural whiner.  I'll admit it.  When the weather is bad (for me, bad is cold and rainy...I'll take 20 degrees and snow or 75 and rain, but never the two should meet!), I'll whine.  When my food isn't all that, I'll whine.  When the Browns don't win (which is very often), I'll whine.  Its in my blood..  However, I pale in comparison to Moses.  We could have been mentor and mentee.  He was the supreme whiner and I love verse 14..."Then the Lord's anger BURNED against Moses..."  It was because Moses was doubting who God was calling him to be.

Then I realized, in all of this, I don't think Orange is just for the church and the health of the CM, but I think it is equally for me.  I must realize that before a chidlren's pastor, I am a child of God, a husband and a father and if I'm not allowing God to help me hit at all cylinders in those positions, then I will be no good at being a children's pastor.  I have to be willing to allow God to change me in this process to become what he wants me to become. 

OK.  I give.  Just, can we be quick about it, Lord?...No?...Alright.  Let's go.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feelings...nothing more than feelings...

As this transformation begins, I am finding myself begin to gravitate more towards those who are "orangish".  Know what I mean?  I mean, I know that I shouldn't forsake everyone else, but its something about these people that I love.  When you mention the orange concept to them, they light up.  It is almost as if you ignited a flame in them that desperately wanted to burn for years.  It is very exciting to see people, one by one, get it and don't even know that they do.  Now, its my job to hone that and get them to realize that they are doing great and just keep it up!  I like this part :)

However, the part that I dislike is looking at the folks who may never understand why a change like this must take place.  I look at the wonderful saints and think to myself, "Its OK.  Its not in my hands anyway.  God will do what God wants to do with them."  I will love them and serve them, but I know that our time serving on the same team may be waining.  However, I can't love them more than God, so it simply must be God that takes care of all of us through this process.  By the way, I have to get back to writing curriculum, I am waaaay behind!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Am I too orange?

Well, after a very trying week last week, because of the loss of my father in law, I was able to sit down with Jason and hammer out my "Orangish" 5 year plan.  I love it because now, all I have to do is put it on a calendar and its full throttle ahead.  However, I began thinking, "Am I beginning to become an orange zealot?"  Then I thought, "Is that such a bad thing?"

I was reading the story about Zaccheus and it occurred to me that Jesus was definitely a zealot, just a really cool, laid back zealot.  He didn't blow a trumpet, or start a parade.  He simply just said, "Zaccheus, come down.  I'm going to your house."  Now, it did create some kind of stir among the stuffed shirts of Jerusalem to see Jesus meet with such "scum."  But this orange journey is starting out a lot like that for me.  In my mind full of programming and gimmicks, I am being forced to adopt a philosophy...

I don't like it.

Matter of fact, its time consuming, pushy, in my face all the time.

But...I kind of like it...in a weird, self-deprecating sort of way.

Its painful to think of the hours and days and months and years that this is going to take.  Nevertheless, I will do it.  Why?  because its the right thing to do.  God is calling us all to help families, not become the Ivory Tower of Knowledge.  So, as my 5 year old daughter's Zhu-Zhu pet says, "Here we go!"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day One - The Beginning

I love this church.  I love who I work with and will always praise God for this staff.  As the children's pastor, embarking on this journey, at times, feels like I am sailing off into a nebulous fog that is impenetrable.  As Jason, the youth pastor, and I begin to really ask the question, "How do we completely and totally serve families in our community," I begin to have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I begin questioning everything that I thought about children's ministry, even though I have only been at it for about 10 months! 

I have promised myself to blog 1 time a week with extra entries coming as inspired blessings.  I am excited and scared at the same time.  Change is hard, but at times, is necessary.  This change is going to be great...I just don't really feel like going through it, that's all.

Proverbs 11:14 - "Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers."