The Crossover Kids

Sunday evening we hosted some 5th-6th graders for a pool and pizza party, and twenty-three kids attended. It was a great event and we had a really good time.

QUESTIONS

Here are some of their questions that I found amusing:

  1. “Has anyone ever died in your pool?”
  2. “Does your house have anything to drink?”
  3. “What should I do with my money while I swim?”
  4. “Can you hold my towel so it doesn’t get dirty?”
  5. “Can I have more than one brownie?”

And there were others.

They were sweet kids and I knew most of them but not all so was glad to get better connected. Our church calls them the CROSSOVER KIDS because they are too old for Children’s Ministry and too young for Youth Ministry, they are in the process of crossing over from preteens to teens. Each month they have a fellowship event and last night was the first of the new school year.

MOBY DICK

At the beginning I was in the pool and holding my own, but then the kids got in. I did okay with the first ten or twelve, but by the time fifteen or more got in they just sort of beached me like a big sad whale.

image1
Can you find me in the picture? I’m the one with thinning grey hair floundering about.

SOME OBSERVATIONS

  1. 5th and 6th grade boys live somewhere between wanton destructiveness and shyly asking for a second brownie.
  2. They used the pool “noodles” for sword fighting and for whacking each other and found all manner of other unimagined uses.
  3. At no time did the genders interact. The boys populated the deep end while the girls frolicked in the shallow end.
  4. As a rule, the girls manifested a more mature behavior than the boys.
  5. They boys were showing off for each other, and for the girls, while the girls pretended not to notice. I think they were doing a little showing off too.

IN CLOSING

After swimming for 90 minutes and devouring nine large pizzas and a big tray of brownies their parents arrived to pick them up. Before leaving they each came and thanked us for having them to our home.

They were well mannered and delightful kids. I’m proud to be their Preacher.

image1 2
We could tell they are getting good parenting. 

I think we will have them over next year!

 

 

The High Five

WHAT’S A HIGH FIVE?

We have lots of ways to demonstrate our excitement. One of the most prominent is, “The High Five,” the act of raising up a hand, thus the five fingers, and slapping someone else’s raised hand.

Although it seems to have been around forever, dictionaries have only included the term as a noun since 1980 and as a verb, or the action of the high five, since 1981.

WHY DO WE DO IT?

  • it’s the joy of victory
  • it acknowledges someone doing something noteworthy
  • it’s a celebratory gesture for anything that makes us happy
  • it’s just fun

THE FIRST HIGH FIVE

It first happened at Dodger Stadium on October 2, 1977, in the last game of the season. Dusty Baker hit a homer that made the Dodgers the first team ever to have four players hit thirty home-runs. As Baker was rounding the bases, Glenn Burke, the next hitter, went to the plate to congratulate him.  He did so by raising his hand up high, and Baker returned the gesture.

From Dusty Baker:

“His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back. So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed liked the thing to do.”

And the High Five Was Born

WHO GIVES HIGH FIVES

  • professional athletes
  • athletes of all kinds
  • coaches of all teams
  • children, teens and college kids
  • adults of all ages for all kinds of reasons

WHAT HAPPENED?

It happened last Sunday morning during first service. It was time for the offering, and the children were cued to come and give their gifts that support Haitian kids for Christian education. They drop change and dollar bills into a basket. It’s a big deal in our church and the kids love it.

Afterwards, they walk back to their parents. On that Sunday, as they were walking back, a little girl sweetly smiled and put her hand up. So, I smiled back, put my hand up and she smacked it. I loved it. A few feet behind her was a mom with her very young son, I think he is almost two. He was adorable. She’s teaching him to be generous with those in need. He doesn’t understand yet, but he will, and it will become part of his character.

Then it happened. 

He had watched the girl give me the high five, so he headed my direction. He could barely walk and was holding one of his mom’s fingers. He looked at me excidedly and raised his little hand. We shared a high five. He was so happy. The whole thing made me emotional.

IN CLOSING

I like kids. I’ve learned that kids like to have adults pay attention to them. An adult who notices them and cares about the things they care about is very like Jesus, who always welcomed the children, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.

IMG_1894

“And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” 

Mark 10:16

 

 

 

A Text Message

Here is the text I received from my daughter.

“Congratulate us Dad, we own a house!”

They do indeed. My daughter and Son-in-Law have been looking for some time. As it often happens, they fell in love with the first house they found but waited too long to make an offer. They lost it. Lesson learned.

Then they couldn’t find another house that measured up to the first one. I think they got discouraged. She texted me:

“We will never find another house we like as much as the first house.”

But they did.

In fact, they liked it better. They moved forward quickly, their agent made an offer and it was accepted. She texted me:

“Dad, I’m so excited but starting to feel a lot of anxiety, is that normal?”

She asked if we could have lunch. “Of course we can,” I replied. They live in Houston, as we do, at least we have a Houston address. They live in an area known as the Heights and their new home is in the Heights. She had questions about house inspectors, closing procedures, and so forth. I like it that my daughter still looks to her dad for such things.

They’ve been married for a few years and I got to officiate their wedding. They are happy but in no hurry to start a family. It’s surprising that she isn’t at all receptive to my comments regarding their child bearing rate of speed.

IMG_0020
That was a good day. It was an emotional day. You are never finished being a parent to your kids.

She is a therapist with a successful practice and he is in commercial construction management. Their house is newer and nicer than our house and costs twice as much. She has already declared that this year’s Christmas will be at their house. I texted her:

Maybe we will sell our house and move in with you.

I haven’t heard back.

IN CLOSING

Like all good fathers I love my kids beyond human communication. To see the depth of my love you would need to listen to my heart. I’m am so proud of my kids.

Today, I congratulate my daughter for reaching this milestone. Way to go kid, nice job.

“Congratulate us Dad, we own a house!”

 

 

A Needed Social Commentary

Here is something important.

Restaurant Refills

What’s up with waiters refilling your glass when it’s still half full? They used to wait until it was empty and then refilled it. I don’t know why they do it.

empty glasses
They used to wait till the glass was empty!

But they do.

Sometimes they bring you a new one while you’re still drinking the old one. Then you have a useless beverage sitting there with the ice melting.

It’s madness.

Some Reasons

  1. Waiters can’t keep track, get confused.
  2. Deeply concerned about you having enough to drink.
  3. Angling for a bigger tip.
  4. Their competition started doing it first.
  5. Waiters betting on who will drink the most.

Apathy or Objection

It’s not that I care, or maybe I do, I don’t know. But either way I object to being asked if I want another beverage when I’m still drinking the first one. Why would I want a second glass of tea when there’s still plenty of tea in my first glass?

waiters filling glasses 1
The constant refiling has become an obsession.

Returning The Favor

If they bring me a second glass, but don’t take the first one, then I quickly drink the new one down to half full so I’ll have two half-filled glasses. One day soon, a waiter will bring me two full glasses to replace the two half empty ones. It’ll be epic. I’ll take pictures. 

For Consideration

Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” That means we talk about whatever flows out of our hearts, whatever’s most important to us. When we are passionate about something, we don’t need anyone to fill us up. We live overflowing.

What flows from your heart? Is it Jesus? Is it your family? Or is it something negative and critical, like a bad attitude?

Is it bowling? Could be. Think about it.

To Close

Does this mean that blogging about waiters and beverages is what’s important to me?

I hope not!

Beverage Refills
I’m not obsessed with this refilling business, it just annoys my to distraction.

A Can in the Corner

We had rules growing up.

  1. Don’t talk back to your mother.
  2. Don’t touch anything in a store.
  3. Keep your hands to yourself.
  4. Always say Mam & Sir
  5. Don’t spit. Ever.

Spitting

We were not to spit, especially in public. It wasn’t cool or attractive. It was common and uncouth. It lacked couth.

However, I once spat at my brothers. One of them spat first, I just didn’t know which one, but it happened. Maybe they both did? Maybe there was a second spitter?

I retaliated and the retaliator got caught.

My punishment was standing in a corner and spitting into a can until told otherwise. It went on and on for hours, deep into the night, until no saliva was left. Yet, I was forced to continue, for such was the nature of my grave indiscretion. I spit, spat, and splattered. I was a splattering spatter.

Honestly, it was probably less than 15 minutes and I may have exaggerated just a bit. But it seemed longer. And guess what, I haven’t spat in public since.

The rule remained with me.

Today, kids have more rules, or different ones:

  1. No walking to school without a parent.
  2. Not riding your bike beyond your own block.
  3. Keep the doors locked and the alarm set.
  4. Stay off the internet, especially sites you shouldn’t see.
  5. Don’t use your phone, tablet, or computer for inappropriate uses.

When I grew up, we didn’t have cell phones, tablets, or computers. The internet didn’t exist. Things like inappropriate reading material was hard to find. Inappropriate magazines were unavailable, there was nothing digital. And we escaped the 24/7 news avalanche of all the bad and wicked things in the world.

We didn’t know about the abuse, pedophilia, shootings and hate crimes. If reported, it was done on the evening news, which we didn’t watch, or in the newspapers, which we didn’t read. We didn’t know. If ignorance is bliss, then we were happier children.

1396398155003

I don’t know if we were any happier, but life was definitely simpler.

To Close

For parents trying to raise Godly kids in a culture that crams pornography, bullying, and evil down their throats, well, you have my prayers, support, and my sympathies.

Not spitting was the biggest challenge of my childhood. I guess things have changed.

God bless you.

Courageous Parenting

All you need is a baby to be a parent. Minimum effort makes a poor parent. Courage is required to be a good one.

Good parenting isn’t easy. Babies cry a lot, require constant attention, and we are never sure what they want or need.

tantrum

Then we teach them to walk and talk, a big mistake? Now they say the wrong things and go to the wrong places.

Teens want to drive their own cars. They crave independence. Some kids  count the days until they move out. And some won’t leave.

From birth, they journey to become adults. They were born to leave. Sometimes, it’s not soon enough. Sometimes, it’s way too soon.

It takes courage to be good parent.

Courageous Moments

  1. Letting them walk knowing they’ll fall.
  2. Their first day of school.
  3. Watching them ride their bikes out of our sight.
  4. Seeing them walk across a stage, diploma in hand.
  5. Letting them to leave.

tykeriderbalancebikes

Other Courageous Moments

  1. Saying no to someone they want as a friend.
  2. Talking to them about awkward and difficult issues.
  3. Setting an example of faith, values, and truth.
  4. Guiding them when they don’t want it and don’t agree.
  5. Doing what is best for them regardless of how they feel.

angrymumteenagerdaughter

It takes courage to be a good parent.

It’s okay when the waves are just ankle high. It’s harder when they are up to our waste and make us feel unsteady. It’s overwhelming when the rushing waves of pornography, violence, and decaying morals come crashing down on our kids. Feels like a tidal wave.

Hang tough moms. Stand strong dads. You are the shield protecting your children from the onslaught of evil, for evil is coming for them.

To Close

Almost anyone can be a parent. It takes no effort at all to be a poor one.

But good parenting takes courage! Be good parents today. 

“13 Reasons Why”

The Sixties

The first TV show I was kept from watching was “Hullabaloo” in 1965. It featured pop music and had “Go Go” dancers in short skirts. The second show was, “Laugh In” in 1967, and featured dancers in even shorter skirts. Both were deemed unsuitable for watching.

Are parents still restricting their kids from watching certain TV shows?

A Few Weeks Ago

I was surfing on Netflix and found, “13 Reasons Why.” I hoped it might offer some insights to families and to parenting in today’s declining moral climate. I was totally unprepared.

“13 Reason Why”

It’s 13-episodes about a girl named Hannah who’s a new student in the High School. She’s cute, outgoing, and has a sweet personality. But things quickly go south for her, and then get worse, and then turn terrible. In the end, she takes her life with a razor blade. Her parents come home from work and find her in a tub of bloody water. It’s graphically depicted.

Clay
Hannah records the reasons for taking her life so others can hear it.

The story unfolds episodically as the viewers learn what happened to her. We watch Hannah being bullied, see her reputation get trashed, feel each disturbing event, and cringe at the violence done to her in a graphic, gut-wrenching, rape scene.

If your kids are watching, or asking to watch, then you need to know:

  1. It’s “the show to watch” for Jr. High & High School kids.
  2. It’s dark and disturbing, with two scenes of rape.
  3. It portrays suicide as the only alternative to emotional pain.
  4. There are no references to spiritual guidance.
  5. Those who mistreated her tear each other apart in their guilt.
  6. The adults seem out of touch & unable to relate to teen problems.
  7. The show leaves you feeling hopeless, empty, and sad.
  8. Any teen who is struggling, depressed, or hurting should not watch.

A Serious Problem

One credible source states that suicide is the number two cause of death for people age 10-24. Can you imagine, age 10 and up? Go to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to learn more, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

To Close

As a minister, I have served the spiritual needs of kids and families for 40 years. As a father, I have rasied two children who are now adults. Here is my advice and my opinions:

  1. “13 Reasons Why” isn’t for teens under sixteen, maybe not even then.
  2. If you choose to let your teen watch it:
  • Watch every episode with them.
  • Talk with them after each one.
  • Be prepared for two rape scenes.
  • Be prepared for a graphic suicide.
  1. Be smart and cautious. If your child is being bullied, or struggling emotionally, or is exhibiting signs of depression, then I strongly advise that you not let them watch it.

Finally

Your teens know about the show and their friends do too, and they will be talking about it. This is an opportunity to engage with them and discuss what life is like in their school.

Be prepared to hear about difficult and disturbing things that your kids may be exposed to at school, with friends, and on the internet. Be prepared to impart truth to them.

I think we are way beyond Go Go dancers in short skirts.

 

Pt.6, Loving the Different

Parenting is a joy and a delight, almost all the time. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s challenging, difficult, and confusing. Sometimes it’s painful, gut-wrenching, and sad.

Equipping Children

All decent parents know they are responsible for their children:

  1. Physically
  2. Emotionally
  3. Morally
  4. Mentally
  5. Spiritually

It’s our job to feed them, provide for them, and protect them. It falls to us to keep them spiritually and morally healthy too.

Speaking for myself, I found it to be fairly easy. With our first born, there were few challenges, if any. It was smooth sailing all the way every day. Then he turned two.

To complete this series on equipping children, here are a few final suggestions. They may be of little value, but here goes:

  1. Equipping children requires leadership. We lead them to their first steps, their first words, and their first raising of a cup or spoon. We must also lead them to pray. We must share our faith stories and model our faith in front of them. As they age, our leading becomes harder, for we lead them to exercise their faith muscles and that means risking rejection, disappointment, and opposition. 
  1. Equipping children requires courage. It’s interesting how often faith and courage go together, (Joshua 1:3-7). Courage is needed when your child is bent on taking the wrong path when you know the right one. Courage allows them to make mistakes knowing that some lessons are only learned through our mistakes. Courage is needed in leading them to make the right decisions, knowing it will be unpopular, and could result in their being singled out in a derisive manner.
  1. Equipping children requires commitment. Parents are challenged with compromise. The team, club, or school wants your child to conform to something that is opposed to your values. Their friends are doing it, their friends parents, your peers, are supporting it, but you know it isn’t right, and standing up means going against the grain. Your courage and commitment to be spiritually uncompromising will be unpopular, perhaps no more so than with your child. Do you have the leadership and courage to trust in God’s providential care for your family?

stock-footage-young-father-and-son-eating-breakfast-in-a-diner

To Close

Raising children is tough. The stakes are so high. And the competition for their souls is fierce.

Good parenting is an unending, relentless effort to shape a child to become a spiritually mature, emotionally intelligent, morally centered person of faith.

God be with you as you raise your children, filling their minds and hearts with his divine light. For your children must one day take their places in a dark and broken world.

It isn’t all doom and gloom. Remember to smile and find the joy and happiness. Never forget that you are the best thing that will ever happen to your kids.

Shalom

Children Loving the Different, Pt. 5

Everyone loves getting gifts.

Top Five Gifts I’ve Received

  1. My first bike: 1963
  2. My first car: 1973
  3. My first serious Fly Rod: 1983
  4. My first chronograph watch: 1997
  5. My first trip to Israel: 2011

tykeriderbalancebikes

Other Gifts I’ve Received 

  1. Loving parents
  2. Family
  3. Faith
  4. Life tools
  5. Opportunity

Parenting and Gifts
Jesus said that fathers know how to give good gifts to their children. He was right. What is the greatest gift a parent can give? Love? A happy childhood? Education? A stable home? A great bike? All good gifts.

What about the gift of faith; the gift planted and nurtured in the heart of a child? Is that a good gift?

Family walking to church together

Consider This From Michelle Anthony

“The best gift we can give our children is the confidence to see that we believe everything is filtered (even the bad stuff) through God’s hands. We need to release our control of their circumstances. We need to start looking at these hard things that happen in our kids’ lives as things that God wants to use to refine them—and then we need to walk with them, prayerfully, and model for them how they should respond in grace under trial.”

 Parental Fear, From Michelle Anthony

“If I know that spiritual growth comes out of my painful trials, why do I try to protect my children from similar experiences? That’s the real question. Why would I want to keep my children from the very things that I know, firsthand, will grow their faith in God and their dependence on Christ? Why? Because it pains me to see them hurt. As parents we lose sight of the end goal, and we sacrifice it for today’s pleasures.” 

What One Parent Told Me

 “Our job is to gradually teach them. Baby steps. We put them in small situations to test them when they are young, when the consequences of failure are small. Then gradually, as they grow, they are tested more and more. We don’t keep them in a bubble till they are 18 then throw them to the wolves. We teach them lessons as they go so that when they leave us they can be trusted with the big stuff.”

Loving the Different

We want to raise our kids to love and care for others, but fear what could happen. We don’t want them seeking the acceptance of those who are different, but offering acceptance to the without being drawn in to their misbehaviors. It’s hard.  

Giving What We Don’t Have?

Without a doubt, the greatest gift a parent can give is the gift of faith, the fundamental belief that God loves them and seeks to lead, guide, and help them.

A national survey found that more than 80% of parents believe they are the primary source of spiritual training for their children. Yet, less than 10% of those same parents pray, read the bible, have family devotionals, or serve in a ministry with their children.

Where is the disconnect?

Stay tuned…

Loving the Different, Pt 4

From One Parent To Another

“You only have 10 years left to imprint this boy with the character he needs to survive the future.”

“In two years your daughter will be taking her cues from her boyfriend. Prepare her now to be wise!”

The focus isn’t on how little time is left, but on what to do with the time you have.

Unknown

Patience

It’s a tough commodity when it comes to parenting. 

Patience is about slowing down. Not being in such a hurry. Not missing the important stuff. It allows you to see the bigger picture, the larger landscape of where a child is headed. It takes patience to be fully present when your kids are at risk for pain and dissapointment.

The unwise parent believes their child can be insulated from the bullying, cruelty, and meanness. The naive parent believes their child can be protected from sin’s temptations.

A wise parent does what they can to protect their children. But they also recognize that the trials are coming, and effective parenting prepares a child for the coming trials.

From, “Spiritual Parenting” by Michelle Anthony:

“What my children needed were the skills and faith muscles to be able to walk through the trial and be strengthened, not victimized, by it.

This is an essential life lesson for them, and it’s necessary for me, because protecting my children from the evils of this world would be a full-time job.

We live in an evil world. Bad things will happen to our children. People will hurt them intentionally and unintentionally. Life will not be fair.”

Patient Parents-Christian Children

  1. Parents get frustrated because their children don’t manifest the right attitudes or behaviors soon enough. Patience is essential, because parenting is from the nursery and to the cap & gown.
  1. Godly character is a lifelong process, so be patient. Don’t expect your kids to be perfect, or to be above making mistakes. “Foolishness is caught up in the heart of a child.”
  1. It’s so hard to let go of parental peer-pressure. We get tied in knots believing that  other parents judge our parenting. It shouldn’t be about ego or how our kids can make us look good. Be patient, don’t make them responsible for how great you are.

To Close

Patience is a byproduct of faith, and our faith is often weak when it comes to trusting God with our kids. We fear what will happen. Our instincts drive us to keep them safe. So turning them over to God seems counterintuitive.

We must surrender our need to keep them isolated. Giving them to God means instilling our children with a faith that can grow, with a God dependency.

Our children weren’t meant to be propped up on a shelf like porcelain dolls. They aren’t trophies to be show cased for our honor. It all points to him, or it should. 

More is coming. Stay tuned.