Who’s Your Village?

Photo Credit: hans pohl Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve come to learn that it really does take a village to raise a child. In fact, my dad and mom always said that their “success” in parenting really had more to do with the people they surrounded us with than anything they did. Not sure if I completely agree (I think they made some right choices along the way). Either way, they were certainly onto something. When I look back on my childhood I can remember the missionaries, the pastors, the small group leaders, the coaches of high character and integrity that surrounded my upbringing. It’s not surprising that all of us “children” grew up to serve God in various ways in full-time vocational ministry.

The adults in out lives were more than just friends. They were more than just people to hangout with and friends to have near while we tried to “survive the troubles of life”. They were influences. They were partners in parenting and childrearing.

Our life was not easy. We had struggles like every other family. We had times when we had “enough” and there were times when we struggled financially. There were times of health and times of sickness. Throughout my childhood, my parents kept the main thing the main thing. They raised us kids with a purpose in life that was beyond ourselves. It was beyond the “typical”. They raised us with the belief that God was calling us to more. He was preparing and leading us to make a difference in this world… to offer hope to people who were far from Him.

Aime and I are right in the middle of raising our six kids. They range from a senior in High School to kindergarten. We’re trying hard to surround them with key influences… people with strong character and an outspoken call on their life to make a difference. Sometimes this means we have to make the tough choices to change these influences by changing where we spend our time. These choices can be tough in the moment, but we’re banking on it paying out in the long run.

So, just a challenge here –

Who do you choose to surround your children? What kinds of people have influence in their life? What things are they striving after?

These are important questions because chances are …

Your kids just might grow up to look like them as much as they will you.

 

Feeling lost as a parent? Looking for a way to discover the purpose for your family? Wanting to establish family values, set goals, or just need a tool to help you keep the main thing the main thing?

We’ve got it for you (Right Here)

Family Value : Servant’s Heart

Christian Parenting

A few months ago, we were at Verizon getting a new phone for our oldest. The sales guy was kindly showing us our options of different phones and when he found out which “prominent” community we live in, he said, “Oh, you are definitely going to need to get her this iPhone because every kid in that community has one.” End of sales pitch. Sadly, he was talking to the wrong parents because we don’t parent our kids based on what everyone else is doing or based on what everyone else has.

Our older two children have been to Africa with us and have seen that we are beyond blessed in America and don’t need anything and everything our culture says we need. Is that always easy: no. Do we still get fun things: yes. However, we want to raise our kids to have servant’s hearts. We want to raise them to have eyes that see needs and seek to meet them because they love Jesus and people more than things and themselves. We want them to have a heart for the poor, for the orphan, and for the widow. We want them to love big. We believe that starts early on in life. It starts with us as parents. If we are not doing it, we shouldn’t expect our kids to be doing it.

We live in a culture in which we are daily bombarded with commercials, billboards, advertising, movies, and slogans, which promote and sell the idea that we deserve, that we are entitled to, that we need to satisfy our wants, our needs, our goals with whatever our hearts and minds desire. A “me first” culture is so hard to live in and let alone hard to parent in.

If we want our kids to have servant’s hearts, it must start with us. When we picked this family value, we had to ask ourselves, “Do we really value being a servant? Are we even servants? Where and how are we serving God and others?” or “Are we self focused and seeking to satisfy only our needs and wants?” “If we want to have servant’s hearts, how are we going to do this as family. How are we going to make time to serve? What are we going to give up?” Tough questions to ask as parents, if you honestly answer them.

God has always placed us in ministry in wealthy suburban areas precisely some of the wealthiest areas in the country. Places where it is easy to get caught up in keeping up with the Joneses or living in bubble of what is not reality in most places. However, in those environments it is amazing to see what God does when people surrender to giving their time and their resources to loving and serving God and others especially when serving pours out of the church building and busts out the doors into our surrounding communities, countries, and cultures.

One of the greatest things is serving side by side with our kids. In doing this, yes, it might take a little longer: that’s ok. It may not be picture perfect: that’s ok. You may have to show them or teach them how to do a new task: that’s ok. Just remember to encourage them. Cheer them on when you catch them serving. When our kids were little, we would start by baking a meal for someone who is sick, serving in the nursery together, helping a neighbor do a project, or prepping for a ministry event together. For the longest time, we served with our kids strapped on our backs…talk about a workout! We have taught them to be aware and taught them the phrase, “How can I help?”…so simple…4 words….”How can I help?” As they have gotten older, we can see how God has wired and gifted each of our kids differently and so we helped them plug into an area of ministry, which fits their passions and giftedness.

As a family, we raised money and dug a well in Bangladesh with friends and we sponsor 2 children in Africa and our kids take time to write them and pray for them. Not because we are great, but because we love Jesus more and we want Him to use us as family and as individuals in His kingdom. It might mean giving up the next new thing, so we can help feed a little boy or girl who has needs that far outshine our wants. It might mean giving up time and helping someone, even when it may not be the most convenient. It might mean giving something up and saving up, so a mission trip is possible.

Servant’s hearts. Start small. Start with yourself. Start praying for God to instill a servant’s heart in your children’s hearts. Start looking for opportunities to serve as a family. There is something life giving and fulfilling about denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Jesus. God made us to love and to love big.

 

Like Father Like Son

Christian Parenting

Short Story… Big Lesson

One evening a little child named, Billy, was allowed to sit in his father’s place at the dinner table while his father was absent.  His slightly older sister asked Billy, “So, you’re the father tonight.  All right, will you help me with my homework after dinner?” 

Without a moment’s hesitation, Billy replied nonchalantly, “No, I’ve got work to do.  Ask your mother!”

Question: If your child(ren) were to give a few soundbites of you, what would it sound like?

 

What to Do When Christian Parenting Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Christian Parenting

Christian Parenting

I want to take a minute to share an email that was sent to me this last week. After responding to this couple, I asked for their permission to share with you all and they graciously agreed. (Naturally, I’ve changed their names and bla bla bla,)

 Hey Joe, 

My son, says that his father and I are one of only a few parents that have such strong convictions re: music and internet access. He says we need to “Loosen up”. Sometimes I feel we must agree with him because it appears as if so many “Christian” families allow their kids unlimited access to all kinds of devices and allowed to play all kinds of violent games. Yet…our standard remains high. 

Do you find many fighting this battle …not so much against the “world” , but the body of believers they walk with each day. 

Fighting the battle but…it’s pretty hard!  

Your Friend

 

Dear Friend,

 I was going to joke with you and say that I didn’t find too many people fighting this battle…only the stuffy, nerdy Christians. Actually, Aime and I deal with this all the time. 

So here’s a couple pieces of advice.

 Make sure you’re not parenting from fear. 

Make sure that that he’s equipped and not just shielded. Our decisions need to grow their hearts and not just to shield it. Remember to keep your “voice” in his life. : Early Childhood-PROTECT, Elementary -TEACH, Middle School-MODEL, High School-COACH, Adulthood-MENTOR.

 Be careful as identifying your standards as “higher”. 

They might not be necessarily higher, they might just be different standards than another family… and different is good.

 The most important thing is that your and your husband are on the same page. 

If you are, it’s ok even if theres a million other parents not on our page.

Growing up, my mom had a saying (actually, she still has it) – when we wanted to do something that was different than our family standards and we asked “But Why?” She’d simply say, “Because WE don’t do that!”  

Not always right or wrong… sometimes it was just “we don’t do that”. – we’re different, and that’s ok.

As you can imagine, the conversation continued and as usual, nothing is ever “clean cut”. Nor is it ever as simple as following three simple pieces of advice. I want this friend and others to know that I actually spend time praying for situations like this. It’s so tough when we “see the enemy and he is us”. It’s tough when we feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, because our battle is not with “the world” but with other Christians.

My encouragement is this: You’re not alone! Keep emailing… keep connecting… and keep seeking help. God often times will meet with us through the encouragement of others.

Stop Taking Parenting Advice from Just Anyone!

I’m so pumped to be guest posting for Craig Jutila over at Empowered Living today. You all met Craig Jutila a few days ago when he posted (HERE). BE sure to head over and check out his site at WhoWillYouEmpower.com

famonbeach

 

In a day and age of Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and Pinterest I’ve seen a phenomenon that’s really beginning to bother me. The problem with social media is that it’s so…social. Everyone has an opinion about everything these days. Ok, I realize that this is not new. What is new though, is the ability for virtually everyone to have a platform to speak his or her thoughts and opinions.

I’ve watched people on Facebook and blogs give opinions on topics and issues of which I know they have no expertise. I’ve also sat horrified to watch innocent people hurt as they took this advice and attempted to apply it to their situation… (Keep Reading)

(As always, be sure to enter your email address on the right to subscribe to my posts and receive your free eBook – 31 Character-Shaping Tips for Today’s Parents.)