My Expectations for the Next Babe Ruth

I always knew I'd have a kid. I thought I'd have three.

But that’s a story for a different day. And I never thought I would have a daughter. Again, a story for a different day. (Hint… setting the stage for future blog posts.) I did hope and believe that I would have a son. After all, I grew up with two brothers. I came from a household with all boys. And as we were growing up, we all played baseball. It’s what we did for fun. In the summer afternoons, we played hotbox (no not the THC version). For those who are 40ish and beyond, ya’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s a baseball game. If you watched the Sandlot, it’s also called getting into a pickle. When a runner gets caught in between one base and the next. From a fielder’s point of view, you only wanted one or two throws max before you tagged the runner out. We played this game ALL. THE. TIME. in the summer. To say we were good at it would be a HUGE understatement. 

Baseball was in our blood. Still is.

So knowing that I would have a kid at some point, and that kid being a boy, I always knew that he would play baseball. So when I had my first child… A BOY… plans were made. Expectations were set. The only question was, “How soon till he gets on the baseball field?” I mean, with the last name of Ruth, of course he was going to play baseball. Not just for a few years. No. This kid was going to play baseball through at least high school. Remember.

It’s in our blood. Still is. 

So as soon as Carter was born, he had Chicago Cubs gear. Not some crappy White Sux gear. Or lame St. Louis Cardinals gear. And as soon as he could hold things. He had a baseball in his hand. And as soon as he could swing a bat and throw a ball… he did. He’s a Ruth. Of course he was being groomed to be a baseball player. 

Then he hit the age where we could sign him up for T-ball… We signed him up. And just like my mom and dad coached us, I signed up to coach Carter. At the same time, we had friends who had children playing soccer. And like the good dad I was, I said sure, he can sign up and play that inferior sport. He’s a baseball player… but whatever. So we signed him up for soccer too.

He finished T-ball. Finished soccer. Winter came around and passed. Then spring arrived. And we signed him up for baseball again. Coach pitch this time. Signed him up for soccer again. At this point we didn’t really know which he liked better. But he kept playing both. Then, came the next season of baseball. We’re fast forwarding a bit here. Now, he’s about nine years old. Kid pitch baseball. He’s also still playing soccer in the spring and fall season now. But right now, we’re in the middle of the baseball season. One night, over dinner, he tells Jami and I that he doesn’t really like baseball…

What?

Whaaaaaat?

Wait. What. You’re a Ruth. That’s not possible. There’s expectations. Ummmmm, wait. You said… no no no no. I don’t think I heard you right. You. Don’t. Like. (Gulp) Baseball? 

Then he said something else…

“I just want to play soccer.”

I blacked out. I may have fainted. I don’t remember. 

SOCCER!?

Now, there’s a history here. With soccer and me. You see, the Riley soccer team practiced in the gym before we did to get ready for their season. They routinely “accidentally” went late during their practices. From what I remember, there was some bad blood between the soccer team and the baseball team. Words like, “soccer is for communists” may have been thrown around. We didn’t like them very much… ok… at all. 

So, Carter coming to us and wanting to quit baseball was one thing… but wanting to play soccer instead… Shooting me in the face would have been less painful. So, like any good parents would do, we told him he couldn’t quit baseball until he was 10 years old. Why 10? I have no idea. Maybe to give him seven months to come to his senses. In any case, 10 year old Carter came back to us and said, “Yup, I don’t want to play baseball anymore.” 

And boom. Like a punch in the gut. A kid, with the last name Ruth, decided to not play baseball anymore. All the expectations went flying out the window. The plans. The dreams. The goals. 

Gone. 

Replaced. By. (Gulp) Soccer.

Once I settled down. Thought about it a little bit… ok… a lot, all of those expectations and goals and dreams weren’t his… they were mine imposed on him. 

I was essentially forcing my will on him because I thought that was what was suppose to happen based upon a set of false expectations… based upon a last name. I wasn’t focused on what really mattered… letting him try and do things as far as sports go that he enjoyed. So what, he doesn’t like or play baseball. Doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. You can still learn some great life lessons playing the game of soccer. It’s not the sport that he plays that matters. It’s the kind of man that he grows up to be that matters. 

And that’s true for other areas of life as he grows up. I know that I have a set of expectations for his future as he gets older. And, like with baseball, I’m sure that most of those expectations don’t matter. The only thing that matters is…

Is he an honest boy/man

Is he compassionate with people

Does he love others well

Does he keep his word

And, (this is one where he has to decided) does he love Jesus

Everything else… doesn’t matter. What type of job does he have? Does he go to college? How much money does he make? In comparison to all those things above… nothing else matters. 

I need to be careful of the expectations I place on my kids… because in the end… they may just not matter. 

P.S. I actually love watching Carter play soccer… and… I play it now too.


Marked by Cheetos

When Morgan was little, she loved Cheetos.

And by love, I mean LOOOOVVVVEEEDDD Cheetos. When she ate them, she got the orange flavoring all over her hands. Anything she touched she left Cheeto hand prints everywhere… the fridge, the counter, table, walls…

She LOVED Cheetos. She loved them so much that she got them all over - all over her hands, all over her face, and all over anything she touched.

She loved them that much. She couldn’t help it. The Cheetos marked her, and in turn, whatever she touched she left their mark.

The same thing happens to each of us. Sure, I may not be covered in Cheetos, but there are things that I allow to mark me everyday. And the things I allow to mark me, in turn, leave their mark wherever I go and whoever I come in contact with…

My kids

My spouse

My friends

People I run into that I don’t even know

So the question is...

What am I allowing to mark my life?

It's easy to get wrapped up in the mess that's tossed at us...

The crap at work.

The anger we experience.

The families we see falling apart.

The hurt we encounter everyday.

But the question remains...

What am I allowing to mark my life?

You see, when my little MoMo ate her Cheetos, she dove in with both hands. And when she came out on the other side, she was marked. Whatever she had on her hands before was covered up by the cheesiness of the Cheetos.

I don't know what you've got going on in your life. But I know what I face each day. And I know I have a choice. Because more times than I care to admit, I allow things I hate to mark me. And in turn, they leave their mark on everything and everyone I come in contact with. So I have to ask myself daily...

What am I allowing to mark my life?

The answer I want to walk away with is...

Jesus.

He's the only One who can cover up the crap at work, the burden of witnessing families imploding, the anger I experience and give, and the hurt I encounter and see each day… in the news and real life. And when He makes His mark on me, in turn whatever I touch, His mark will be left wherever I go.

And so I dive in with both hands... Because I want to be marked by Jesus - and in turn, leave His mark everywhere I go.

So the question remains...

What are you allowing to mark your life?


Open Your Mouth One More Time

I love acronyms and short says...

Like… Looovvvveeee them. Just ask my kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said things like:

Hard work pays off.

Details matter.

You can only start from where you are. 

And now, I’ve got a new one. This one literally hit me in mid sentence to one of my kids after what was a long day of chores and frustration. We were, as a family, supposed to go to Warren Dunes, a state park in Michigan. The beach, Lake Michigan and a huge sand hill was waiting for us this day. An afternoon of fun. So as we were getting our things ready, Jami and I had to what felt like constantly correct and redirect our two kids from arguing and fighting with each other. Something that had been a consistent issue over the last two weeks. It seemed like if our two kids were close to each other, they were arguing and fighting. Both were at fault. And I could feel myself reaching a boiling point. 

We finally got our things in the car and were getting ready to back out of the driveway. And more bickering from the backseat ensued. I stopped the reverse motion of the car and addressed the kids’ behavior and words and started to slowly begin to back out of the driveway again when one of the kids decided it was a good idea to say, One. More. Thing. I’m not sure what possessed this child to feel the need to say, One. More. Thing. But it happened. The, One. More. Thing. was said. (A word of advice kids. If you find yourself in the same position and you feel the need to say, One. More. Thing. don’t. It’s not a good idea. Ever.) And as I finished backing up and began to pull forward,  the switch in my mind flipped. I don’t know if it was a slow progression of me realizing that the child had said, One. More. Thing. But the switch flipped. And instead of pulling out of the neighborhood, I pulled around the circle and back into our driveway. And I announced in a very direct way that we were not, in fact, going to Warren Dunes. Instead, we (and by we, I mean the two of them) were going to enjoy nature by doing chores for the rest of the afternoon outside. 

This in turn enabled a couple of things to happen. One, the switch in my brain was eventually flipped back up over time. At this point, it was less of a switch and more of a dimmer nob. Two, it helped Jami and I to accomplish yard tasks that we knew needed to be done but didn’t want to do them (a win for us). Three, it gave me some time to reflect one the last two weeks and the bickering and arguing and fighting between our two children. And I knew in that time that we all needed to talk. So, after dinner, we all had a little chat. 

As we were discussing the day’s events and the previous two weeks, the child who felt the need to say, One. More. Thing. decided it was a good idea again to say, One. More. Thing. And as I was redirecting the words that were coming out of that child’s mouth, it hit me. Like a punch from Mike Tyson in his prime. It hit me like Mariah Carey hitting her high notes (ok, she can’t really hit those high notes anymore… did you see the at home concert?) Anyway, in mid sentence my eyes were opened… and I realized this… for the last two weeks, I had been focusing on the kids’ behavior, their arguing, their disrespect, their words. In other words, 

I was focusing on the surface issues that were on display.

And in two point two seconds this word came out of my mouth… are you ready for this? I mean it’s kinda weird. And silly. And crazy. And super simple. The word that came out of my mouth…

HAM

I’ll say that again…

HAM

I had been focusing on the kids’ behavior. And I was suuuuuuuuuuper frustrated that their behavior wasn’t changing. And it hit me. I was focusing on the wrong thing. Or, at minimum, I was focusing on the thing out of order… in the wrong order. You should have seen my kids’ faces… probably Jami’s too. 

HAM? What? Why HAM? Said in a look of confusion. And I said, “Well, everyone likes HAM right? I mean it’s kinda like bacon.” More looks of confusion and the comment that in fact, not everyone likes HAM. And I quickly realized we were getting off topic… even though they were right. (I mean, Jami doesn’t like HAM, so they were right.) So to bring it back I said again,

HAM

You know…

Heart.

Attitude.

Mouth.

And as I said that, everything made sense. I had been focusing on their behavior, their words. And it hit me… this is completely out of order. If I want their words and behavior to change, their attitude needs to change. And if I want their attitude to change, their heart needs to change. Check this out: 

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

In other words, your attitude and your mouth will speak what is in your heart. The bad attitude and the arguing and fighting were and are surface issues. Like an iceberg, you only see the little bit on the surface. The foundation of the iceberg is below the water. The foundation of the arguing and fighting and bad attitudes is their heart. 

This isn’t something that I didn’t know before. But for some reason, I had been only focusing on their behavior. And their behavior wasn’t changing. And I had become so frustrated. And so the punch between the eyes. The eye opening moment was so freeing for a couple of reasons. One, because I was focusing on their behavior, I had begun to believe I could control their behavior and their attitudes and their words to each other. And because I thought I could control it, I had become super frustrated because it wasn’t changing when I told them to change it. But when I realized that I was focusing on things out of order, when I realized again that their behavior, their words, their attitudes come from their heart, a sense of calm came over me. Why? Because it takes my control over their words and behavior away. No matter how much control I think I have over their words and behavior, it won’t change unless their heart changes. And while this seems strange to think about, I have no control over their hearts. 

I have control over what I do to help their hearts point in the right direction. I have control over what I can do to help fill their hearts with the right things…

Love.

Love for Jesus. 

Love for others.

I can’t control whether or not their hearts change. But I can control how I help fill their hearts and with what their hearts can be filled with. And that is a completely freeing feeling because now I can focus on what and who I can control… me. And I can control what and who I focus on and know that out of that focus, I will help fill their hearts with life and not death.

What is my focus? Great question. Here it is. It’s a prayer really. So let’s end this post with this prayer:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19


Your Student Is On Social Media Even Though You Think They're Not

How many of you decided to sneak something out of your house when you were younger even though your parents told you not to?

I was perfect, so this doesn’t apply to me. 😳😂But Jami has a number of stories where she snuck clothes and makeup out in her backpack on the way to school or a church event. Her parents told her she couldn’t wear the outfit she wanted to wear. So, instead of listening, she decided she would walk out the door in their approved clothing attire. Then change right after arriving to where ever she was going. Then change back before getting picked up or getting home. The whole time, her parents were naive to the fact that their little angel wasn’t following the rules they have set.

Times aren’t much different. We’ve caught Morgan trying to sneak out clothes in her backpack prior to getting on the bus. Knowing what we know, we decide to do what we call, “Spot prison searches.” Ok, we don’t really call them that. But our children (ages 13 & 15) know that we can, and will spot check bags, rooms and yes… phones. Not because we’re nosy… even though we are. Not because we want to make their lives miserable… even though that’s a plus if they’re doing wrong. No. It’s really not for either of those two reasons. We reserve the right to do spot checks because we care. Because we are trying to protect them. Because we want the best for them. We know things they don’t. We can foresee problems and dangers that they can’t foresee. So it’s up to us to teach and guide our children to the best of our ability.

Quick disclaimer before we move on... We don't have all the answers. This is simply the way we're choosing to parent our children and social media.

The same is true with social media. I’ve talked to a lot of parents who pride themselves that their student isn’t on social media. The reasons are many and range from…

We don’t know anything about social media so we'e not going to let our student be on it.

Social media is so negative and full of drama. There’s just so much bad stuff on there so we're going to keep our student off of it.

There’s social predators out there that can take advantage of students, so our student won’t be on it cause it scares us.

Students are on social media too much, so we’re just going to keep our student off of it.

All of those reasons aren’t bad reasons. They’re valid and real. But they aren’t reasons that your student will stay off of social media. And that’s the real scary part. Because, to think that your student isn’t on social media is naive. Your student(s) may not have social accounts with their names listed. But time and time again I have heard stories from parents who had banned their student from social media only to receive a phone call from a school official, law enforcement officer or coach informing those same parents that their student was in trouble for what they had posted or sent on social media.

How could that be? You ask… good question. One, students today will either make a social account that isn’t related to their real name so that they can connect digitally but not come up on their parents radar should they search Instagram (for example) using their real name. Or, when they go to a friend’s house, the first thing they do is jump on their friend’s social account to chat, send photos, messages, or posts. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, TikTok, etc… the student who isn’t allowed to have their own social account is going to their friend’s house and jumping on theirs. It’s kinda like when some my friends came over to my house back in the day. They didn’t want to play outside, they just wanted to watch tv and drink pop all day. Why? Because their parents wouldn’t allow them to watch tv and drink pop.

It’s. The. Same. Exact. Thing.

But the potential consequences are far much worse. We’re not talking about simply getting cavities because the student has drank too much Mountain Dew. The consequences with social media can be much more serious and life-altering for our students when they don’t have any guidance on how to use it responsibly.

That’s why, for us and our students, we have decided to allow them to have Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and SnapChat accounts when they reached the age the social platforms allowed them to sign up. We didn’t just let them sign up and wish them good luck. We signed them up ourselves and put some safeguards in place. Safeguards like:

We kept their passwords… meaning, they didn’t have access to them. They didn’t know what they were.

People couldn’t add them or follow them without our approval on the accounts that had that privacy option.

We don’t allow our students’ friends on our students’ social accounts.

If we find a “fake” account that our students have created, “all” of their accounts will be shut down in addition to receiving offline consequences.

We reserve the right to spot check our students’ phones and social media accounts.

We give them guidelines on what to post. We discuss when we think posts should be removed. We let them know over and over and over and over and over again that everything they post is… Instant. Global. And Permanent. What they post today, can have severe, negative consequences years from now.

Yes, allowing our students to have social media accounts was a hard decision. It should be. And yes, it has and is and will take a lot of work on our part. We monitor our students’ social accounts and our students’ friends’ accounts when possible. We also try to stay up to date on the current digital trends. We have decided to not use time as an excuse on not allowing our students to be on social media. And we think it’s worth it. Our students are going to make mistakes. Offline and online. And I’d rather our student make a mistake early when the mistake is less likely to be life-altering and when we can still have influence in their lives. If we don’t have these discussions with them now and teach them how to use social media now, they won’t know how to use it in the future. The mistakes that are being made now, is nowhere near as big as they could be in the future if we didn’t teach and guide them now.

Just like we went to the mall for our social connection or talked on phones for hours, our students today are going digital for their social connections. And that means that, even though you tell them they can’t have their own social accounts, they will find a way to discover and explore those connections digitally. (Just like I found my way to the mall, even though I told my mom I was going to Ben's house.) It’s just a fact, students connect digitally with each other. And while some people would rather their students build relationships offline, the digital world they live in will only be getting bigger… especially in today’s climate.

Our job as parents isn’t to put our head in the sand and pretend that if we say no it won’t happen. Our job as parents is to guide and teach our students. This is the way that Jami and I have decided to handle social media with our students. Again, it's not that we have all the answers. It's just our way of doing things. I hope you’ve found it helpful. Please know that I’ll also have additional posts about students and social media that I think will be helpful as well. Looking forward to sharing those posts.

Thoughts on social media? Questions? Ready. Set. Comment.


Quarantine and the Pressure to Be the Best Parent Ever

There are moments that I sit and think, "Is this really happening? Is this real?"

Yup. The world is literally upside down. One bat. One man. One virus has literally brought the world to a virtual halt. (By the way... can we all agree that bats are the MOST ugly, disgusting, gross creatures on the face of the planet!) In any case... Jami and I were hanging out the other night talking and the discussion eventually landed on what our current reality looks like with quarantine. She expressed a deep desire to make this time memorable and fun… a time that our kids will never forget. But it wasn’t just that she was saying this as a matter of fact. I could tell that she was getting deeply emotional and that this had been weighing on her mind for some time.

So I reminded her that “the kids will, in fact, remember this time. I mean, what kid wouldn’t. They haven’t been to school for roughly 30 days. AND… we don’t really know when exactly they'll go back. ALL of their activities have been canceled. Life is in fact, nowhere close to being normal. So, if your goal is that the kids have a memorable experience during this time… then, mission accomplished.”

That is, of course, not what she meant at all. What she meant, was that it was solely up to us to plan each and every day of quarantine with a fun, new adventure. To plan activities that keep the kids busy and brings them joy and laughter. To make sure that their happiness and memories are our number one priority... Every. Single. Day.

Essentially… We. Have. To. Have. A. Grandiose. Plan. Every. Day. (Oh, and by the way, we don’t know when this quarantine will end so you will need to possibly have a never-ending plan which makes this even more stressful than it already is).

Just listening to Jami express her thoughts brought my stress levels up.

And I know why she was in this mindset. Jami’s a planner. She needs to know where she’s going and what’s going to happen along the way. So I knew why she was thinking like she was. I also knew that this was bringing a ton of pressure her way to be the perfect mom with the perfect plan to make this the perfect quarantine ever.

And the reality is that it’s not a bad thing that she wants to be intentional with our kids during this time. Having some intentionality is a good thing… no… it’s a great thing. It’s necessary.

But…

In a time like this, it’s not necessary each and every hour of every day.

We don’t need to have a plan for every day. We don’t need to become event planners for our kids and come up with a grandiose plan so that this time will be memorable for them.

Instead, we should focus on simply being present with them. Because in this time, what they will find memorable is the time they had with us. They’ll remember the walks we went on. The huge (said with a Donald Trump voice) sand hill we climbed together. The time we played Uno together as a family. The time we taught Carter how to drive. The time we had a sleep over in our room with Morgan. The time we watched movies together as a family. The time I played video games with Carter while the girls watched.

Some of those things were planned. Some were spur of the moment where we stopped what we were doing to simply hang out with them. All were simple things… things they will remember. Things that didn't take stress to do as a family.

During this time of quarantine, it’s good to have a plan. It’s good to plan things as a family. But for you planners out there, don’t let the stress and pressure of thinking you have to have a plan for every day overwhelm you. Because it’s in the little moments... the moments that were unplanned, that our kids will look back on and remember with smiles.

Below are a few things that we’ve done as a family… and a few things that I would like to do. All of them are simple moments that you can have with your kids.

Go for walks… around your neighborhood and/or at our county or state parks

Go for a bike ride

Watch movies

Catch up on your favorite tv shows together

Make a cake

Have a sleep over in your bedroom

Make a pizza together (not a frozen pizza)

Play card games

Play video games

Do a TikTok video with your kids

Have an indoor picnic

Train the dog

Make homemade play dough

Do puzzles (I hate puzzles. We won't do them in our family)

These are just a few simple things that the kids will remember... simple things to do during this crazy time of quarantine.

Bottom line... don't stress yourself out trying to make this the most memorable quarantine time ever. Our kids will remember this time. So simply slow down... and simply BE with your kids. And when they get on your nerves, (believe me, they will) when they want to play Uno for the 10th night in a row, run to the store by yourself and buy your favorite treat just for yourself and hide it when you get back home.

Now it's your turn. What are other things that you as a parent have done during quarantine? Ready. Set. Comment.


Life Change: Trust vs. Authority

"Because I said so."

I love AND hate that tactic. I love it because it reminds me of my childhood and the many times it was said to me by my mom, dad, teachers, coaches and parents of friends. I hate it because, well, it's a lazy form of communication that adults use to exert their authority.

I've actually caught myself mid-sentence getting ready to say the exact same phrase to my kids. Then I stopped and thought, "Todd, you're an idiot." This tactic in authority may work to get a five year old to clean up his toys. It may work for a coach who's told his players to run laps. It may work for a moment... but that's it... for One. Short. Moment. The authoritative works in the short-term moments.

But, true life-change in an individual isn't inspired by someone's authority - for the most part. It's inspired by a person's trust they have in the other person trying to make their life better.

The question then becomes, why do pastors, parents, coaches - adults, use the authoritative approach to try to cause life-change in a person? We think, students need to change because of our position, age, experiences. We think students need to just take our word for it because of our authority. Why do we use this approach? Because it's easy. You see, it's not that our age, experiences or positions are bad or evil. Using our authority isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it becomes a bad thing - it becomes useless, if that is all we use. However, those things become tools if they are applied in a relationship of trust between us and the person we are trying to help. So, then, the next question becomes (and this is the coolest question), what the heck does this type of approach look like? Check this out:

"The Word became flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood." John 1v14

Jesus is the perfect example. He literally had all the authority in the world. He could have simply said, "Follow me because I said so." And everyone would have had to follow him. He had the position. He had the experiences. But he chose a different way of bringing about life change... he brought it in by developing a relationship of trust with those he came in contact with. Check this out:

1. Jesus met people where they are at... "Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, 'Come along with me.' Matthew stood up and followed him."Matthew 9v9 - In other words, I want to be where you are. I care enough about you to go to where you live, breathe and operate.

2. Jesus also connected with people through personal touch..."A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man." Matthew 8v2, 3 -He's communicating that he cares enough to touch someone considered untouchable. He's stating, you're worth something. You matter.

3. Jesus also let people fail... "Then Jesus told them, 'Before the night's over, you're going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me...' Peter broke in, 'Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won't.' 'Don't be so sure,' Jesus said. 'This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times.'" Matthew 26v31-34 - In other words, guys, you're going to fail. Not just a little. But a lot. Jesus could have stopped them from failing. But he didn't. He allowed them to experience failure. Not because he enjoyed watching them fail. No. I believe it's because he wanted to let them experience his love despite their failure.

4. Jesus also loved people through their failure... "After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Master, you know I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' He then asked a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' 'Yes, Master, you know I love you.' Jesus said, 'Shepherd my sheep.' Then he said it a third time: 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, so he answered, 'Master, you know everything there is to know. You've got to know that I love you...' Then Jesus commanded, 'Follow me.'" John 21v15-19 - Despite Peter outright denying any connection to Jesus, probably Peter's biggest failure, Jesus loved him through it. What a huge trust-building gesture - saying, even though you've failed, I still love you. I still see value in you. You still matter.

Un-believ-able. Jesus, who had all authority in heaven and on earth, inspired people to life-change through trust-building relationships with a personal touch rather than relying on his authority only. Why? Because it was out of love.

Now it's our turn.


What Every Student Needs

I've been thinking about this question a lot these days,

"What do you think students NEED from their parents (you could also insert leaders as well)?

It's really not a question that holds one answer. Each person you ask could quite possibly give you a completely different response.

But, it's one of the most important questions to keep at the top of our minds as parents or if you work with students.

And while I have a list of my own answers, this one is probably at the top...

Consistency

I believe students need their parents and leaders to demonstrate a high level of consistency. Is this the trait that is at the top of the list? I don't know... but it's up there for sure.

* Be Consistent in holding them accountable.

* Be Consistent in our walk with Jesus.

* Be Consistent in our moods.

* Be Consistent in following through with our commitments.

* Be Consistent in our relationship with our spouse (if you're married).

Students and kids do a ton better when parents and leaders are consistent... there's a level of comfort from knowing what they can expect from their relationships.

What do you think?


Comic Book Parenting & Superheroes

When I was growing up,

I pretended I was a number of different superheroes. From Batman to Spiderman... and even Wonder Woman (there's a story behind that one... really there is. But that's for a different time). And even though Zorro isn't really considered a true superhero, I loved to pretend I was him (I even made a mask out of black fabric and road a fake horse...). But the thing is, at the end of the day, I wasn't a superhero. No matter how hard I tried (and believe me, I tried), I wasn't going to get anywhere close to being Batman or Spiderman or even Zorro.

But that desire to be a superhero still follows me today - especially in the area of parenting. I want to swoop in and be the perfect parent. Cause that's what superheroes are - perfect, right? I mean, superheroes have all the answers, all the resources, and all the abilities that make them... perfect. And that superhero complex follows me today. But the problem is, I'm not perfect. And I end up acting like the Joker instead of our favorite superhero we all think about.

Because I'm not perfect - I fail.

I see the same desire in a lot of parents I've worked with as well. They want to swoop in and be the perfect comic book parent. But the problem is, they can't. And that creates a ton of stress and frustration in their lives - because as parents - they fail.

I pretended I was a number of different superheroes. From Batman to Spiderman... and even Wonder Woman

We think, as parents, our children need us to be the perfect comic book parent - to be a superhero. But as I live day in and day out as a parent, I'm believing more and more that my children - our children - don't need us to be superheroes, they need us, as parents, to be responsible. To be faithful. To show up every day. It's in the ordinary day... each and every time we show up... in the faithfulness... that we actually become superheroes to our kids.


Some Things Parents Want Students to Know

Students! In case you haven't noticed, parents are an interesting group.

I recently wrote about, Some Things Students Secretly Want You to Know. Today, I want to present part of the parent side. Some of these things parents have communicated directly to me. Others are things that I've sensed as I've seen parents "deal" with their children. And still, others are things I've felt or thought over the last 15 years of being a parent myself. Again, this list is not complete by any means.

I am so proud of you, more than you will ever know

When you get in trouble, I feel like it's my fault

When I look at you, I see all of my hopes and dreams wrapped up in your life of possibility

I get so frustrated at myself when I let my anger take over and yell at you

I'm tired. I'm just plain tired

I really want you to like me

I pray for you and the choices you make every night

I really don't know how to talk to you

I'm scared for you

I feel bad when I can't give you everything you want

I'm doing the best I can

I regret the things I've said to you and how I said them

I really don't know what I'm doing as a parent

Again, this is not an exhaustive list by any means. I'm sure there are better thoughts out there. I'm sure there are a ton I missed and I would love to hear them.

Now it's your turn. What are other things that you as a parent or youth worker would like your child or students to know. Ready. Set. Comment.


Some Things Students Secretly Want You to Know

In case you haven't noticed, kids and students are an interesting group.

I've worked with students and their families for nearly 23 years. Students are particularly good at putting up a front - letting you see what they want you to see. As parents, youth workers, etc. it's our job to see past that front.

While there is a danger of stereotyping every student, or clumping every student together when making a list like this, as I've looked past the many fronts of many different students. These are some of the things that students secretly want you to know as you interact with them:

I am more than the style I represent

Even though I buck authority, I want your approval 

It means a lot when you encourage me

I have gifts and abilities now to make a difference in the world today

I have dreams and visions for what I want to do with my life

There are times where I am confused and really want your help even though I say I don't

I need you to set an exceptional example to follow

The words you say to me have the power to direct the direction of my life

Even though I pretend not to, I do notice the little things you do

I want someone to believe in

I want someone to believe in me

Even though I don't always like it, I do want you to hold me accountable

I want someone to challenge me to greatness

Even though I put up a front, I want you to work to get to know the real me

These are just a few. There are more. As I write and read these words, I'm picturing moments in my own kids lives where I know I forgot about the above. If you have kids, or work with kids, let this be a reminder as you walk with them each day.

Now it's your turn. What are other things that students secretly want us to know about them. Ready. Set. Comment.