We Didn't Start the Fire

I've literally typed up three different blog posts for today. Non of them do any justice to what's happening in the United States of America.

So today's blog will be a virtual moment of silence...

What our country needs, is not more outrage... our country needs more brokenness.

Brokenness about racism

Brokenness about hate

Brokenness about violence

Brokenness about looting

Brokenness about destroying businesses

Brokenness...

When our country and people are broken about these injustices, then true change will come about. That's my prayer going forward, God make me broken for the injustices in our country and use me to help make real changes.

If you choose, feel free to use the comment field to write your prayer below...

 


Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now

Give it away. Give it away. Give it away now...

Sing it with me... I loved singing this song as I was growing up. It's written by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I honestly can't remember any other song that they wrote. But I remember this one. It's stuck with me through the years. And as I'm singing this song in my head right now, I can't help but think of a few things I need to give away today. So, with that said...

Here's a few things I need to give away...

  • The need to always be right
  • The feelings of anger at myself
  • The feelings of anger at others
  • The need to be in control
  • The feelings of inadequacy
  • The feelings of bitterness towards people who hurt people I love
  • The need to be liked
  • The need to appear to have it all together
  • The need to look religious
  • The fear of what others think about me
  • The fear of failing

Sometimes, the things I hold on to above get in the way of how I parent and they can affect my relationships. So, if I'm being honest, those are just a few things that I need to give away today.

What about you? What are some things you need to give away?

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7


We Have A Dud

I've wanted a lab for quite some time.

What I would call a real dog. A big dog. So we finally jumped and got Lola, a charcoal lab, just over six months ago. She’s been amazing. She goes pretty much everywhere with us… on walks, to the park and to the beach. She absolutely loves all of it… or so we thought.

So a few weeks ago we went to spend the afternoon at Warren Dunes Sate Park in Michigan. It’s got a great beach and they allow dogs as well. We thought that since Lola loved the creek water in the other parks, she’d love the water at Lake Michigan. So we got our things set up, put our blankets and chairs down, and Carter and Morgan took Lola down to the water and threw the ball. Lola ran up to where the water met the sand and as soon as the wave crashed ashore, Lola went running the other direction.

The kids threw the ball a few more times, and each time Lola ran away and wouldn’t go after the ball. After about the seventh time, Carter came back to us and declared,

“We have a dud!”

And to make things worse, just 25 yards down the beach there was another lab that was running into the lake to chase down its frisbee. It was comical, sad and embarrassing all at the same time. What if we really did have a dud!?

Lola loved the water everywhere else. But she was super afraid of the sound and crash of the wave coming ashore. She just couldn’t push past her fear. But Carter and Morgan weren’t done trying.

As I looked towards the water, I could see Carter carrying our 70 pound lab out past the waves and into the lake. It was one of the most funny, ridiculous things I have witnessed. A 15 year old boy carrying his 70 pound lab into the lake all while the other lab was doing its, well, lab thing of running into the water to play fetch. I didn’t think this was gonna work. The first time the kids took Lola out in the water, she freaked out and ran back to the shore. But Carter and Morgan followed her back to where she was, picked her up again, and carried her back into the water. This time, they sat down in the water with her and petted and comforted her. Lola played for a couple of seconds then ran back to the shore. They tried to throw the ball again, but no luck. So, Carter again, picked her up, and walked her into the water. This time he walked her to her ball. She grabbed her ball and ran back to the shore.

The kids followed her back, grabbed the ball. This time, as they threw the ball, Morgan ran out into the water after it and… Lola followed her… past the waves, into the water to retrieve her ball.

Success! “We don’t have a dud!”

The rest of the afternoon was more of the same… Lola living her best life, chasing her ball out into the lake. I don’t think she has ever had as much fun as she did after she conquered her fears with the kids help.

Parenting can look super similar to this situation. There’s been countless situations where Carter and Morgan have been fearful of something. At times, they have stepped past fear and have overcome to do what they really wanted to do. Other times, they’ve given in to fear and have lived with regret for a short time. It’s painful to watch them live with regret. It’s painful to watch them give in to their fears knowing that what’s on the other side is great. But that’s life. We can only be there to hold their hand and carry them whether they overcome their fear or give in to it. The choice is completely theirs and theirs alone.

As parents… as adults… we have our own fears. And while we have friends and relatives to help us through. The ultimate parent, Jesus, is there to carry us through the fear of the crashing waves sometimes called life, just as Carter carried Lola. We just celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday. And with parenting, there are countless fears that we have to walk through. I don’t know what fears you are facing, but know this, Jesus will carry you through them. Check this out:

For I am the Lord you God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

If you allow Him to carry you, Jesus will never drop you. He will help you through your fear to overcome. Because with Jesus,

There are no duds!


The Chipped Plate

As a parent, I'm always looking to do something unexpected.

Not like “something big” unexpected. No. I’m actually a firm believer that the small things are a lot more memorable that something huge. So, I’m constantly thinking about what I can do that would be unexpected in the mundane everyday life experiences. 

So after we moved to a townhouse eight years ago, I was going through and unpacking our things… because who wants to live out of boxes for any length of time? Not me for sure… although I will live out of a suitcase after getting back from a trip instead of unpacking. I mean, why hang clothes up or put them in drawers when I know I’m gonna wear them in the next few days. Anyways, not part of this story. Just a look inside my psyche. 

Where was I? Oh ya. We were unpacking our things… specifically our kitchen items. Cups. Glasses. Silverware. Plates. We were pulling each of those items out and then placing them in their rightful place. As I was unpacking our plates, I noticed that one had been chipped. Not a huge chip, but noticeable for sure. It’s actually the one I used in the header image above. It didn’t really phase me. I wasn’t upset. We had more. And honestly, it could still be used. But it was tarnished. It didn’t look like the others. And it was frankly, broken. So I put it away and didn’t give it much thought.

Then, a few days later, I was pulling dishes out to get ready for dinner. As I was placing them on the table, I noticed I grabbed the one with the chip and almost didn’t put it down. And then it hit me. This plate deserves to be used just as much as the other plates. Sure it’s damaged. It’s not perfect. But it deserves to fulfill its purpose.

Stay with me…

One of the things that has been huge with me when it comes to students and parents is to make sure they have been encouraged. It’s something that has been super important to me… even in the difficult discussions… whenever possible, I want to make sure they have been encouraged. I want our house to be filled with encouragement… with encouraging words. It’s super important. 

And so, I stood there, with the chipped plate in my hand, and I thought, “This is the perfect place to do something unexpected. It’s the perfect place for a great illustration.” So that night, we sat down for dinner and I said, “You guys see that plate, it’s got a chip in it. But it’s still usable right? It still works. It still serves its purpose.” And I said, “We’re kind of like that plate.” Mind you, this was eight years ago. Our kids were 7 and 5 years old. I said, “We all mess up. We’re not perfect like this plate isn’t perfect. But it doesn’t mean we’re not loved the same… by God and by your parents.” Then I said, “From now on, whoever gets this plate at dinner gets to pray, and then we’ll go around the table and say something encouraging about the person who has the chipped plate.” 

The. Kids. LOVED. It. I mean, who doesn’t love it when someone says something encouraging about them? 

It was the perfect part of the day to do something unexpected. It was dinner. Something small. Ordinary. But that night, it became something more. Something unexpected. It was a great time to slow down and make sure that our kids know that they are loved and encouraged in even the smallest of ways. It was actually such a hit that our kids told their friends. They went to school and talked about the chipped plate. When we would watch our friend’s children for date night, they would want to be the one who got the chipped plate for dinner… and unexpectedly we would put the chipped plate down in front of one of them. 

And, even better, when the kids would be arguing and fighting throughout the day, we would make sure that one of them would get the chipped plate so that the other would have to say something encouraging to the other. 

The chipped plate didn’t make an appearance every night. But when it did, the kid who noticed it in front of them would light up. And more than that, on some nights, the chipped plate would find its way in front of myself or Jami. It wasn’t just a kid thing. It was an adult thing too. Because, well, everyone needs encouragement. And it’s always a good thing when kids can learn to encourage adults as well. It’s super important that our kids learn how to not only receive encouragement, but also give it as well. We did this on a regular basis over the last six to seven years. It disappeared for a while. But we’ve started doing it again. And even at ages 13 and 15, when it’s placed in front of them, their faces light up. 

Our children face a lot these days. They feel the brokenness in their lives. They know they aren’t perfect. They are constantly comparing themselves to others… more so now than any other generation before them. One of the things they need the most from parents and youth workers are encouraging words. Words that let them know that they aren’t damaged. They have talents and abilities. They need to know that, despite the fact that they aren’t perfect, they are loved. We don’t need to do something extravagant to make a lasting impact in their lives. The lasting things are the little things, like words of encouragement that take place over time. 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

What’s something that you’ve done to encourage either your kids or someone else?


Tales from the Passenger Seat: 3 Lessons I Learned Teaching My 15 Year Old How to Drive

I still can't believe I'm at this point in my life.

It still feels like yesterday that I became a father for the first time. Standing over Carter as the nurses were cleaning him up. But it wasn’t. It was 15 years ago. Actually, it was 15 years, three months and 25 days. And now, I find myself sitting in the passenger seat helping him drive… and not just drive… but drive safely. 

I mean, pretty much anyone his age and older can drive. They can push the gas pedal and move the steering wheel. But can they drive safely? That’s the question. We’ve all been in a vehicle with someone wondering when they were going to kill everyone… everyone in the car, in other cars, on sidewalks. We’ve all been in situations where as soon as we got out of the vehicle safely we thanked the Lord the ride was done. You’re currently thinking of that person right now. I know I am.

And so now, at this time in my life, I’m willingly getting into the passenger’s seat and teaching my 15 year old how to navigate the streets behind the wheel safely. We started on the neighborhood streets. Skipped right over the parking lot. If I’m gonna teach him how to drive, I’m gonna go a little bigger at the start. I mean, my enneagram number is seven, it’s what we sevens do, right. We’re positive, confident, enthusiastic and, well, adventurous. So skipping the parking lot and diving straight to our neighborhood streets is, well, quite fitting. And it was fine, he didn’t bounce off of any cars and did a great job. I was super impressed with how he handled things. 

As we drove together more, I thought I’d be doing all the teaching. But I’ve learned a few things as the drivers training has progressed. And so, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve learned while teaching my 15 year old how to drive:

  1. Asking questions is better than giving him the answers. During our time driving together, he eventually asks questions like, “Is this close enough to the stop sign?” And to this question I’m tempted to give him the answer - to tell him what I think based upon my experience. And I suppose that’s ok. But I won’t be in the passenger seat next to him every time he drives. At some point, he’ll be behind the wheel by himself and I want him to feel confident to think for himself. So instead of saying yes or no to this question, I ask him, “Can you see traffic coming from your left and right?” And if he answers no then my question back to him is, “What do you think you need to do to see better?” And without saying a word, he creeps up closer. And then it hit me, this is true in life as well. He’s 15. Morgan is 13. I’m a pretty Type A personality. Pretty intense. I have no problem giving answers. But, just like with Carter and driving, there will be a time where I won’t be in the passenger seat with them in life. My job as a parent has reached a point where it’s not just my job to give them answers. It’s now my job to help them come up with the right answers themselves so that when I’m not there to help them navigate life, they’ll be able to make the right and good decisions. It’s a shift in thinking. It’s a shift in parenting.
  2. He’s gonna hit things that he doesn’t know to look out for. After a few days of driving Carter was doing well. He was driving along, demonstrating good awareness. Focusing on what he should be focusing on. And during this time, as you would suspect, I’m riding in the passenger seat but my focus is still on heightened alert like I was driving. So as we’re moving along, I’m scanning the oncoming traffic, checking my passenger mirror and monitoring who’s behind us… and… monitoring the actual road we’re driving on. Then, quite literally out of nowhere a huge pothole pops up. I see it, and as a driver I would have been able to navigate around it. But Carter didn’t see it. So like any sane father would do, I started saying, “Hole, hole, hole, HOLE.” Getting progressively louder on each “hole” that comes out of my mouth. And, on the fourth “hole” I try to grab the wheel to swerve to the right. But, because this was all happening all so fast, Carter grabbed the wheel tighter and didn’t let me pull the wheel to the right… and boom. Tire meets hole. It turned out to be ok. It was a deep pothole, but luckily didn’t do any damage. I said a couple of choice words. We pulled into a church parking lot to turn around and take a pause so I could explain what else Carter should be scanning. Us hitting the pothole wasn’t Carter’s fault. What he was focusing on was right and good. But he wasn’t aware of the potholes that are sure to come. Potholes that literally pop up out of nowhere. To him, prior to this pothole, the street was supposed to be smooth. Not potentially hazardous. He simply didn’t know that there can be and will mostly likely be potholes right where he will be driving. It was my job to teach him about the potholes that could lie ahead on the street. To be scanning for those as well and how to navigate around them. And that’s true with life as well. There will be potholes that will pop up. And he’ll need to be aware of those and look for a way to navigate around them. In the car, you have a steering wheel to get around them. In life, in my opinion, the steering wheel that will help navigate around life’s potholes is the Word of God… the Bible - "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." - Psalm 119: 105. As we were pulling out of the parking lot to make our way back onto the road, Carter said to me, “I didn’t know why you were grabbing the wheel, so I was like, I just held tight and wouldn’t let you turn it because I didn’t know what you were doing.” Hahahahahaha… good instincts… never let a crazy person who’s yelling grab the wheel.
  3. Checking your mirrors before a lane change is always a good idea. Prior to driving and as we were driving in and around the neighborhood I was giving Carter advice on how to change lanes… what I do. One thing I’ve realized is that the decisions for this type of thing are really made a split second apart from each other… Here’s how it goes for me… “I need to change lanes. Check rearview mirror. Check side mirror. Look over my shoulder. Turn on turn signal. Check side mirror. Look over my shoulder. Go.” It happens almost simultaneously. And so I explained this to Carter. A couple of times. And so, I was like, “Ok, let’s get some experience.” We get out on SR 23 and I tell him I need him to change lanes. And boom. Not boom in a bad way. Calm down. Boom… like boom, he did it perfectly. The next day, we go out again. Same road. Same thing. I tell him I need him to change lanes. He says ok. And this time I find myself moving from the left lane into the right lane… no checking mirrors, no looking over his shoulder. He essentially changed lanes blind. Now, I’m not that stupid. I made sure that there weren’t any cars around us prior to telling him I needed to change lanes. I did know that a car was a ways back in the right lane and figured he wouldn’t check his mirrors prior to changing lanes. So it was a good lesson, because after he changed lanes, I had him look in his rearview mirror. And I asked him, in a rather straightforward and stern manner what would have happened if that car was beside him when he changed lanes. He got the point. The same holds true for life. There will be times where we’ll have a decision to make. And that decision will likely be a change of lanes. It’s not a good idea to simply change lanes. You want to check your mirrors. Ask questions. Do some research on what that lane change means. Make sure to the best of your ability that the lane change won’t lead to a devastating outcome. Talk to people. Seek counsel. Use your mirrors. That’s what they’re there for.

I’ve loved teaching Carter how to drive. It’s been an eye opening experience. And I'll love continuing to teach him. He's done a great job so far. I just can’t believe that we’re already here, but I wouldn’t trade this time in for the world. There really isn’t a better, more important job on the planet than helping a child, yours or otherwise, learn how to navigate life and grow as a human being. It’s not easy. But anything great isn’t.


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


Scared to Let the Poop Out

Potty training a child can be a challenging time for parents.

I know. We have two children who are now ages 13 and 15. Both were very different when it came to potty training. One evening, when we were in the midst of the potty-training life, Jami and I, and the child who will remain nameless, were at a very nice optical boutique. The nameless child asked to go potty. (We say pee in our household, but we’re trying to keep it classy here.) As the nameless child sat down, the child said they couldn't go because the poop was blocking the pee (at this point, it had been THREE days since the child last went poop in their pull-up).

Then, five minutes later, I noticed out of the corner of my eye the nameless child running and hopping through the store while holding their butt screaming, "I HAVE TO GO POOOOOP!" Ding ding ding. Can you say, "turtle head?"

So I scooped the child up and took them to the bathroom where the child yelled and screamed about how they didn't want to poop on the potty. I then said that the poop was going to come out whether they wanted it to or not, and to just poop it out and everything would be just fine. So, the child did. And the pee came out that was “blocked” by the poop earlier, which splashed off the rim of the toilet and onto my glasses (which is another post on its own). I think you have to be a parent to be able to look past the piss on your face to cheer for your three-year old who purposely pooped on the potty for the first time. This will probably be a life lesson to be learned even in the teenage years.

So, as I'm thinking and laughing and telling people this story, it hit me. Why was the nameless child so scared to do something new? Something that is good. It's not like it was going to hurt the child or kill the child. But the nameless child was so scared.

Maybe they were scared of change.

Maybe this signified to the child they were going from baby to big boy or girl.

Maybe they were scared of the unknown.

Maybe they were scared of what people would think of them.

And as I thought about the nameless child and the struggle to poop on the potty, I couldn't help but connect his/her crap to my crap... why am I scared to start something new? Why am I scared to tell people? Maybe I'm scared of change. Maybe I'm scared of the unknown. Maybe I'm scared of what people will think of me. Starting something is good. It's new. It's cool and exciting. If we're honest, a lot of us have been struggling with what the nameless child has been going through… Change.

During this time of quarantine and global shutdown, now might be the perfect time to pivot. Now might be the time to change things up. Maybe it’s a change in a job situation. Maybe it’s trying something new. But fear grips us all at times… from the three year old potty training… to the 43 year old getting back to his roots… to the 68 year old knowing that God is calling them to a life change. Fear of change can hold you. Check this out:

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1st John 4:4

In other words, God is greater than the giants you face.

In the end, it took the nameless child trusting his/her daddy telling him/her that it will be ok to poop on the potty… trusting that it will be cool and exciting and sa-weet and good. And, I've got to get to that place too... to trust my daddy... my Abba. And I think I'm finally there… most days. Thanks to the nameless child for the perfect illustration.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17: 7-8


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.


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.


If the Shoe Fits

I remember when Morgan would walk around in her mommy’s shoes like this. She’d go to our closet. Dig in our shoes. And pull out the tallest high heels to put on. She’d sit there on the floor, with the high heels on and then crawl to the bed to pull herself up.

She could walk in them ok… especially for a two year old. But she would still stumble and fall because they just didn’t fit.

But, when she would put her own shoes on, she was on. She would run. Jump. DANCE. Cause she found her fit. She found shoes that fit her. Sure, she would stumble and fall here and there, but not in the same way.

Prior to starting Savvy, I’ve worked with students and families for 23 years and continue with my own teenagers (did I just say that? I have teenager(s)… not just one, but two!?) Anyway… during those 23 years it was always my goal to help them find what fits when it came to their life, their relationships, their interests, etc. To help them find what they’re gifted in and run with it. It’s what makes my heart beat fast. It’s one of the things I still love to do.

It’s actually a challenge that all of us face… to find what fits. To discover what we’re gifted at and run with it. It’s a lifelong journey and it’s one of the most exciting adventures we could go on.

I’ve decided to keep adventuring and journaling about students and parenting. This will be one of the spaces that I’ll share my thoughts, tips and what I’ve been learning in my own life as it relates to the above. Hope you’ll follow along.

Can’t wait to get started!

P.S. Now, Morgan is 13 now… her feet… well… they now fit in her mom’s shoes.