FAITHFUL has been the word that is sticking in my mind these days. We know that God has been, is, and always will be faithful. We know that we cannot put our hope and trust in the things or circumstances of this world rather our hope and trust should be in our Faithful Savior who is with us even when we don’t like our circumstances.
There are a couple of definitions of faithful that I like. They are:
Strict or thorough in performance or duty- like a faithful worker or employee
True to one’s word, promises, or vows; reliable trusted or believed- like God
Steady in allegiance or affection, loyal, or constant - like in a personal relationship
I have to say that during this time I have witnessed first hand the faithfulness of people one to another and God’s faithfulness to His promises.
Shortly after we closed school for the virus my dad had major surgery. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a time that we were unable to go to the hospital to visit or wait with a loved one. But on Tuesday morning March 31 my mom, Alicia, and I said goodbye to my dad as he drove off with Mike and Doug to the hospital to have surgery. They literally had to drop him off at the door. After that we didn’t see him for seven days. We talked on the phone but didn’t see him until the following Tuesday evening when Doug and my mom brought him home. During this time Alicia and I stayed with my mom. There were some rough days. I remember as a child my dad going out to sea for 3-6 months and it just being my mom and Alicia and me at home. I don’t remember those times being as difficult as this separation was, but I also don’t think that I have ever witnessed the love and devotion-the faithfulness of two people as I did during this time. If you know me well, you know I believe I have the most wonderful parents . My mom is an amazing caregiver and this time she was unable to do what comes most natural to her. My dad is always the constant voice of reason and security, and he was now alone in a hospital room recovering from major surgery. Several times a day I would listen to them talk to one another and encourage each other. My mom telling my dad to stay positive and my dad assuring my mom that everything was going to be okay. Neither of them ever giving up on the hope of their reunion. I was challenged and encouraged by their allegiance to their vows, promises and affection for one another. I know their faithfulness to one another brought them through this difficult circumstance and others before.
More important than the example of faithfulness my parents were to me is the faithfulness of our loving father every day to us. I can’t stop thinking of Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” When we began this journey with my dad the first doctor we saw told that surgery was absolutely out of the question. That was almost 3 months ago. Since that day he has had surgery and is already strong enough to mow his lawn.
I want to encourage you today that if you’ve lost hope or forgotten or given up on a promise because circumstances have caused doubt, frustration, or fear remember the God you serve. Even if your circumstances don’t change He will be with you. Praise him, thank him, and worship him for who he is. He is and always will be faithful He still keeps His promises, and He still performs miracles. Trust him, follow him and press on.
If you are looking for some encouragement through song one of my new favorites… “Another in the Fire” by Hillsong.
The Final Stretch
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus
This is the time of year when teachers and students have the number of days on the board, and they begin the countdown to the beginning of summer break.
Today I want to encourage that we are in the “Home Stretch” or “Final Stretch” . This is the time of the school year when I am busy planning the “final” events of the school year. I am still planning, but most of my plans are taking on a different look. I cannot rely on what worked well for me last year. I am reimagining things. If I’m honest with you sometimes I get overwhelmed and want to throw in the towel but I keep telling myself these things are still important and it is important to make them meaningful. We can make it, and we can do it well - with every ounce of faith and energy I have left.
In a horse race the final stretch or homestretch is the straight away after the last turn of the race before the finish line. In my brief research of horse racing I found that it is important that during this stretch of the race the horse is in the right cadence and is leading with the correct foot.
I’m sure that by this time you and your family have gotten into a good cadence. You have probably established new routines and hopefully they are starting to feel good or right to you. But I can also imagine that there are times when you are tired and wishing for what used to be. If this is the case make sure you are starting your day on the right foot. Make sure that you are starting each day in God’s word, talking to Him about the concerns for your day and your circumstance, praise Him during this time and listen to His voice. I want to encourage you to lean in to the final turn of the race, lift up your head, keep the finish line in sight and finish strong.
Who would have thought that we would be practicing social distancing and stocking up on toilet paper? Who would have thought we would even be using a term like social distancing? A month ago, the idea of having to spend a couple of weeks at home was just an idea that was in the back of our minds, but today, we are living that reality.
We are now at home with our children. This is definitely a change from the norm, so we have to develop a new norm. Many of us are working from home, which means we need to adjust to not only working from home but having to work at home with our children who are also learning how to work from home.
As the routines get established, it may be a good time to establish some new family norms. If you haven’t sat down to eat a meal together, this may be the time to eat together and talk. Many families use meal time to also have a devotional time either before or after the meal. You may want to try a new recipe while cooking with your children.
As long as you are trying something new, how about learning something new together. You could watch a Ted Talk and discuss it afterward. There are several museums, zoos, or aquariums that have live feeds or virtual tours. How about learning to knit, woodwork, or coding? Maybe you could read one of those books you have been trying to get to but never found the time. When was the last time that your family pulled out those board games and played them?
For some quality time together, you could clean the garage, the shed, or a closet. After you have cleaned, you could take those items that you realized you could live without and donate them to charity or save them for a garage sale in the future and donate that money to your favorite charity. When was the last time you exercised together?
You can get creative while you are at home. You can make videos to post on social media as a family. Try building something together with the Legos or Lincoln Logs or with just some odds and end around the house. Try putting together a digital or paper scrapbook of a trip or party and enjoy reliving the memories.
Here are two of my favorite sites that can give ideas for conversation starters and ideas to help relate to your children during this or any time. All-Pro Dads (https://www.allprodad.com/) is an organization that aims to get dads more involved with their children. There are ideas on the website, and you can sign up for a daily email with topics to discuss with your children. Faith has a chapter that meets on the last Tuesday of each month in Building 6. Another site is Growing Leaders (https://growingleaders.com/free-resources/) by Tim Elmore. This site gives some free resources to better understand your child that is research based.
Parents: Did You Ask a Good Question Today?
By Doug Dickerson, High School Guidance
A friend once asked Isidor I. Rabi, a Nobel Prize winner in science, how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his school day. She wasn’t so much interested in what he had learned that day, but she always inquired, “Did you ask a good question today?”
“Asking good questions,” Rabi said, “made me become a scientist.”
There’s a fine line between asking good questions that create engagement with your child and asking the types of questions that drive them away. This is especially true in the middle and high school years when a shrug of the shoulders, a grunt, or the rolling of the eyes might be as good as it gets on any given day.
Your student in middle and high school is navigating a whole new world that’s very different from the one in which you and I grew up.
In his book, Marching Off The Map, Dr. Tim Elmore identifies key characteristics of today's Gen Z student. They are the first generation that:
- Doesn’t need adults to get information
- Can broadcast their every thought or emotion in real-time
- Has external stimuli at their fingertips 24/7
- Are socially connected at all times, but often they connect in isolation
- Will learn more from a portable device than from a classroom
- Uses a phone instead of a wristwatch, camera, wall calendar or board game
As a parent of a Gen Z student, this is your new norm - buckle up!
The challenge for you as a parent is how to best connect with your student in a way that keeps the lines of communication open. That’s easy to do in the good times, but when the tough times come and the walls go up, then what?
The secret to better communication with your student is found not so much in what we say, in the orders we give, or in the veiled threats or the empty promises. It may very well be found in the questions we ask.
The Scripture says in James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers, let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Think for a moment about how different the relationship with your student would be if we just took the time to ask the right questions. Thankfully, James gives us a blueprint.
Be quick to hear
Asking questions is one of the best ways to open channels of communication and build relationships. When we are less concerned about being heard and more concerned about listening, then we can avoid a lot of unnecessary conflicts.
So here’s the tip - listen for context, listen for understanding, and listen for what’s beneath the surface. Too often as parents, we want to punish our children for the symptoms of their behaviors. If we took more time to ask questions and listen, we could be one step closer to discovering the root of the problem and one step closer to finding real solutions.
Be slow to speak
Speaking - it’s a natural parental instinct. It’s what we do best. We want to lay down the law and tell it like it is. We are in charge and they better know it. Sound familiar? With regard to speaking, James admonishes us to be slow. Think about it - how many times have you said something in haste only to regret it later? I know I have.
So here’s the next tip. Ask more questions. Listen to your student. Ask relevant questions that let them know that you care about them and want to be involved in their lives. It’s as you create an environment that lets them know you love them and care about them that trust is built and relationships mature.
I wish I could tell you that asking the right questions of your student will solve all of your problems relating to having a teenager in your home. It won’t - but never be afraid to ask.