Day 4… Road Trip Revival. #iShineontheroad “Attitude at Altitude!”

Rolled into Dubois WY… snagging the last 2 rooms at the local Super 8. Dusty, dry and breezy. Temps in July were pushing 100F as we drove the 2 lane ribbon across the hazy, flat, high plains of eastern Wyoming. The sun lingered slow and low in the horizon… seven, eight… almost nine pm before we saw it start to slip over the distant ridge.

The Mountains!

The Mountains!

Sweaty, tired and butt numb we felt the miles. Wall SD to Dubois WY is only about 600 miles with a short detour to Mt.Rushmore NP, but it’s a good long 12 hours of travel. We crashed early and didn’t really notice the clear cool night emerging outside our windows.

We awoke to winter.

42F at 6:30am. My breath fogging the inside of our SUV. My naked legs one giant goose-bump of frigid skin.I had to dig out one of my light fleece pull-over’s to give my body some chance at finding warmth. The shock was complete. We had gone from the blazing heat of high summer sun to COLD.

A sixty degree temperature swing in 8 hours.

We were in the mountains and I couldn’t be happier. The cool / cold morning was such a relief. Felt like a peppermint patty embrace to my summer sweat soaked brain. No humidity, No sweating, No bugs. AWESOME !

As I look around to find someone else to share my jubilant happiness with… I only saw heaps of blankets and fetal postured freezing teens huddled in the back. Chattering teeth and groans quickly deflated me.

I confidently proclaimed the cold wouldn’t last! In fact, for sure¬†by noon it would be bright and warm again, at least 80F with gorgeous mountain summer light. We were heading up the Wind River Valley to clip the edge of Grand Teton NP and push into Yellowstone! The grandest of them all. I had no idea it would turn out to be one of the coldest days possible for July. Snow flurries and sleet would be settled in by noon and would never allow temps to rise higher than 55F.

Tough Day

Tough Day

This led to some complaint and grumbling… but no one could deny the beauty of the mountain scenes before us and we toured the iconic spaces and places (Old Faithful, Yellowstone Falls, Buffalo on the plains etc…)of our oldest and grandest NP (in lower 48) with layers of shirts and jackets wrapping our unprepared limbs. As our altitude rose over 10,000 feet, our attitudes grew a bit short and over the long day of driving and stopping, shooting selfies, and dodging the hordes of tourists… some of us got very crabby ūüôā

When we drove up and over the highest pass back to our cozy Super 8 rooms…. it began to snow big time. 3-4 Inches would pile up overnight. I shivered in my hiking shorts as we drove on. Smiling at the irony of it all.

I was the only one smiling. 

Tomorrow our days adventures would change the girls forever. But before the hope of dawn… we had to get through a very dark night.

By God’s grace…. we made it. But it was a tough road to ride.

Day 5 tomorrow; a BRAND NEW DAY.

Latest Tween Fad… Bisexuality is Hip

So I’m¬†watching spongebob¬†on Nickelodeon last week with my 13 year old¬†son¬†and I see a commercial promo spot for “Degrassi”¬†as I see two girls professing their deep desire and love for each other in breathless, very grown up ways…¬†followed by a super slow camera shot of¬†a ¬†romantic kiss of sizzling intensity and I must say…magnificient cinematography.

And in shock, I’m¬†thinking to myself… surely that wasn’t what I thought it was ?… Not¬†an openly lesbian¬†lead storyline in one of the biggest pre-teen television shows on TV ?

Ten minutes later I see it again… and again the promo runs¬†of a romantic lesbian scene with the latest cool music packaged as pretty as can be… no accident, no mistake now.¬†Teen Nick has moved from their role of¬†¬†empty entertainers to sexual education. No¬†longer are they just focused on making¬†shareholders more money, or launching the lucrative careers of¬† its tween and teen¬† heart-throbs.¬†

Teen Nick has moved well¬†beyond¬†¬†just producing mindless candy pop kids¬†shows that define the “popular’ and “beautiful”. Their shows have long been the rabid¬†fare of pre-teens,¬†desperate to¬†grow up sooner and careful to emulate the perfect hair styles, whitest teeth and latest¬†fad fashions of their stars… now it seems they are¬†actively promoting bi-sexuality as¬† being¬† a better way of experiencing teen love and¬†“coming of age” life¬†lessons for today’s kid. ¬†

Fellow parents out there, you¬†need to know… the scene I saw is just a sampling of the “adult”¬†media that has now¬†moved into the mainstream teen television world. Its clear they are¬†becoming incredibly good at glamorizing bi-sexuality as¬†the newest wave of pop culture¬†to our most vulnerable age group tweens. (kids between the age of 7-13)

This newest episode of “Degrassi” should serve as a¬† warning for all of us who are seeking to preserve any semblance of a biblical world view for our families of faith.¬†¬†We can no longer “assume” the stuff on mainstream¬†pre-teen ¬†TV is “safe”. The shows¬†my kids used to watch on Nick or Teen Nick¬†at¬† the very least respected the balance of being a¬†moral “neutral”¬†value for consumption… those days are gone. We cannot assume any longer that the stuff on Nick or Teen Nick can be watched un-supervised or at all.

That’s a scary thing when you stop to think about how well Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon have educated and entertained this same generation of kids for years,¬†starting out with¬†the innocence of such shows as “Dora the Explorer”¬†and “Spongebob¬†Squarepants”¬†and¬†then as our kids grow older, they begin to insert the super cool teen show¬†“Degrassi” with all of its moral¬†rot.

¬†It seems on the latest episode of “Degrassi” the producers¬†decided the best storyline possible for our pre-teens and teens would be to highlight the¬†newest “in thing” for our kids, the excitement of experiencing a same-sex relationship¬†with tweens and teens. After watching the episode online I felt the core message of this show seems to say…”for you to be as cool as the kids on Degrassi, it’s time to admit you want¬†to be openly gay with your girl friend.” They don’t skimp on the guys being into guys on this show either, but for now… this is enough. I’ve copied the storyline summary from the¬†episode in question for any parents who care to read it. It’s not even subtle… it’s sick.

Degrassi: In Too Deep Recap: Season 10, Episode 42 ‚ÄúChasing Pavements, Part Two‚ÄĚ (04/09/2011)
More Degrassi: Recaps | News and Cast Interviews | All TV Recaps http://www.teennick.com/shows/degrassi/

Fiona comes out. Fiona has successfully completed rehab, but up next on her plate is facing the vicious Bobby, her physically abusive ex-boyfriend. But Bobby offers the family $100,000 to not go to trial. Fiona is completely against taking the settlement, but her mom is worried about how the trial might emotionally affect her, and thinks she should take the money. But with Holly J’s support, Fiona convinces her mom to let her push forward. Fiona surprisingly holds her own on trial, but can’t take back the fact that she embellished the bruise in the photo she took of her scar, and after Bobby’s testimony, she begins to doubt her decision, and considers turning to alcohol, until her coping techniques come in great handy. But when another girlfriend of Bobby’s comes forward and confesses that Bobby has abused her as well, Fiona’s case is made. She wins $250,000! In her happiness, she kisses Holly J on the lips!

Fiona has a romantic dream about Holly J and realizes her feelings for her best friend. Holly J and Fiona plan a sleepover together, while Fiona reconciles with Adam about their past and sets up a movie date with him. She confesses that he wasn‚Äôt a problem in her life, and she still likes him. But while they‚Äôre hooking up, Fiona tries to compliment him for being ‚Äúthe best of both worlds‚ÄĚ, and Adam storms out, telling Fiona that she just wants a girl. The next day, she confesses to Holly J that she doesn‚Äôt like Adam anymore. In turn, on their sleepover, Holly J realizes she loves Declan in a way that she doesn‚Äôt feel for Sav. When her mom comes home, Fiona confesses to her that she‚Äôs gay, and she‚Äôs in love with Holly J. Her mom fully supports her, and tells her that it won‚Äôt be easy, but she can get through it. She comes clean to Holly J that she‚Äôs gay, who also isn‚Äôt the least bit bothered by it.

Seriously if you have¬†taken the time to read this far… you are realizing what I did, the culture our kids are living in and around has been teaching them to abandon the traditional views of faith and family and sexuality¬†for something much “cooler”… bi-sexuality is the way to go if you’re as hip as they are.

How many millions of teen and tweens¬†living in the chaos of their own confusing and un-glamorous lives are being swept into this deception ? ¬†I mean this show is openly suggesting that if you care for a friend, and they are the same-sex… it very well could be that your attracted to them because¬†your gay or bi-sexual. And not only is that “o.k”, but it’s actually very cool to do.

Parents, I’m begging you… WE ALL NEED TO WAKE UP!¬†

Our world is changing the rules and it’s happening¬†on our watch. Our kids are being fed a growing diet of sexual storylines, images and role modeling that is influencing an entire generation of kids with a different gospel and a different truth than the one they hear from us.

Please take the time to talk with your kids, block the teen nick channel if you dare on your home cable or satellite tv’s and clarify your beliefs and values with your kids TODAY. tomorrow may well be too late.

Sorry for the long and ominous blog today, but it scared the crap out of me when I began to research this a bit. When I asked my high-school daughters about this stuff, they casually noted… “Oh yeah dad, that’s been popular for¬† a while now at our High School…popular girls know, if they want to get a hot guy, they just need to openly engage in a lesbian fling and show they are bi-sexual for the guys to get interested…” It’s been that way for a while…

God, help us lead this generation back into the truth and hope of our faith as Christians. “Here’s to families who are determined to¬†keeping their families on the road and in between the lines of life…” I’m encouraging you to find out more, review what your kids are watching from the PC, to the iPod to the televisions in your home. Take an ACTIVE ROLE and ASSUME nothing. It’s a scary time to be a parent, but I believe God has a strategy and a plan for those of us who take the time and listen for it.

Take the time today.

Peace out…

brad.

Parenting blues

I’m going to be honest….sometimes¬†I get really weary with the whole being a parent thing. Kids, especially tweens and teens can be some of the most erratic and irritating personalities a person endures in their entire day. Between hormones, history tests and their hair …¬† they can be beasts. Angry, starving and completely irrational beasts, disguised as children. Our children. Which means we’re to blame since they are in fact our children. Right ?

The answer…. not entirely. Our children are in such a physiological upheaval of maturation they are literally loosing their minds from day-to-day, hour to hour. If you are raising a 13 yoa you know exactly what I’m saying. For those days, I have all kinds of grace and all kinds of patience… if they are once a month or every few weeks. But if they start to become a day-to-day walking on “egg shells” existence. Its time to shift gears.

No matter how frustrating their lives are, no matter what just happened to their BFF and how lame or¬†unfair their teachers are. They need us to be their parents. That means carving out their boundaries (rules)¬†at home and holding the line on those¬†no matter what. We don’t need to respond to their adolescent outbursts¬†in kind either, I mean who can respect us if we “blow up” as angry, dis-respectful and self-absorbed, over the edge parents.

With a significant amount of perspective and faith, we must decide for our kids¬†when their behavior has crossed over from a¬†genuinely bad day to a tantrum. When we sense they are using their life circumstances to “explode” and without any restraint they let out all of their childlike emotions on¬†anyone and everyone in their vicinity, its our job as¬†parents to “stop” them.

Maturity in many ways is learning to control¬†ones emotions and move through life as an “influencers” rather than always¬†being influenced by our circumstances. As Christian parents, we have the added understanding of our need to instruct our kids in the ways of life and truth¬†and hope.¬†Sometimes, that means we have to say “no” and mean it. In the end, our children need and want us to re-direct them from being out of control.

So when your teen or tween¬†is spiraling into another out of control emotional hurricane of life… nip the temper – tantrum before it goes to far. Stop them!¬†Do it with love and patience and hope, but do it. They are counting on us.¬†¬†This is definitely¬†one of the less exciting and¬†unpopular aspects of being a parent, but it may well be the most critical resolve we make as fathers and mothers.

For those who feel like things are “never going to change“. Be encouraged, it will and it must. When you feel like your blowing it as a parent (which at times can be a daily experience for me) it’s¬†a perfect time to admit that to God and your kids and then resolve to start new. Ask Him for the wisdom and ask Him for the strength. He is not going to leave you hanging, His heart is for our kids more than we are… His grace and strength are sufficient and His mercies are new every morning.

When we respond to¬†those¬†shortcoming’s as parents; openly with our kids and¬†with genuine humility,¬†I guarantee it will blow their minds.¬†¬†It’s so cool…¬†watch as your tween suddenly realizes they are actually “more” to blame then you and step up and ask for your “forgiveness” too. POWERFUL stuff. For those of us who gave our kids WWJD bracelets a few years back….Congratulations, you just did !¬†

Single parent or traditional family,¬†were essentially all¬†in the same boat. Our kids need us to be their parents. No matter what they say, they NEED us to be there to say “NO”. Many of us have success stories of how God was changing your teens heart on the inside, while all the time you would have sworn they were completely sealed off on the outside. In the end, our consistency is the proof of our love. Deep deep down, they know that and are comforted by that. (As a case in point, this post blog edit – from Feb 17th, 2011¬†is powerful proof of this principle) Miley Cyrus¬†article ran on MSN’s Mom and Pop Culture blog. http://tv.msn.com/mom-pop-culture/miley-cyrus-saw-it-coming/story/feature/?GT1=28103&ptid=6edb00f7-08db-46dd-a2a1-90f7f9279e52&mpc=1¬†)

Be sure and keep close relationships with your local community of faith knowing as parents we must have help, encouragement and support in this critical role of raising our kids… as we all seek to keep our families “in-between the lines and on the road of life”.¬† For more helpful¬†information on parenting tweens and teens, prayer or simply a¬†chance to vent…¬†check out www.ishineministries.com

Peace out.

brad.

Living from our Heart is Dangerous !

Living from our hearts is a dangerous option… its much safer to¬†walk on the well-worn¬†paths of life and to stay as far from “uncomfortable” as possible. Yet somewhere deep inside of us is an intangible yearning for something¬†more. A whole lot more ! ¬†

More beauty, More passion and more Life. We seem to barely survive our days and weeks as life keep us off balance¬†and exhausted. The enthusiasm we start out with fades as we accommodate¬†to the stress of finances, extra-curricular commitments and¬†ever-growing fear of the unknown. If we’re not careful, this reality we accept¬†may¬†become¬†all we know to live for and all we’re ever going to be.

God NEVER intended for us to live as slaves to our safety. His design was for us to live from our hearts, from our deepest inner-desire and from our boundless creativity.

We’ve been ambushed by two powerful deceptions. First, that God is far away¬†and aloof from our lives¬† and¬†dis-interested as to our happiness. This lie says to know God¬†we must live only on or¬†own wits or¬†as Holy “recluses” in poverty,¬†passionless and without any satisfaction.

A second powerful deception¬†is aimed at those¬†who accept Christ as their Savior at some point in their life. We believe to follow Christ we must surrender¬†our personal dreams believing that to become a “responsible” and mature Christian man or woman we should walk away from¬†those longings…walk far away from¬†the¬†hopes and dreams of¬†our redeemed hearts and¬†“grow up” to¬†embrace only the “practical” and realistic.

I fell victim to both of those lies as a young man,…many of us did, have…are. The result,¬†we missed out on much of what¬†we were intended to be and do. I personally inflicted such deep pain and heartache on myself and those I loved that it almost destroyed my life and theirs. It seems for most of us, the deception has gone all the way to our core beliefs about the very nature of God.

These deceptions I believe are intended to keep us away from God and to reduce us to live un-inspired safe and boring lives if we ever do get around to starting a relationship with God.

The sad thing…. we generally agree to accept this¬†watered down version¬†of¬†faith and life¬†and wonder why we can’t seem to ever grasp the “joy” and “power” of the Cross that’s described by others…

I mean,¬†if we’re honest; our¬†faith is often lived from a “fear-based guilt reflex”that we pass on to our kids as “Christianity”¬†and wonder why they are so “non-motivated” to follow us into a lifetime of marginal living.

Its time we step back and really “re-set” our thinking as adults and as a parents. Our God is not safe. He is¬†beyond passionate, He is intense at a level that cannot be comprehended. To know Him is not safe, but is the ultimate fulfilment of our lives. His desire is to be with us. He has relentlessly pursued us and has shown in every possible way he will do whatever it takes to win our hearts, to redeem our lives back into living color.

To know Him, we will need to risk it all. To get off the safe paths of life and out into the wilderness beauty¬†of¬†our purpose, we must throw back the pre-conceptions of who God is and how he has wired us to live.¬†¬†I strongly recommend a regular diet of¬†¬†consuming the¬†word daily, and¬†finding a group¬†of “alive” believers who have a “common-unity” in Christ. From those two simple actions I am confident you will begin to see the early tendrils of beauty and¬†excitement when it comes to your faith.

GO, drive, hike, walk, climb, paint, photograph, create. Wherever you live, look for the signs of life in your world. From the indescribable¬†beauty of a sunset over the desert¬†to the shimmering glory of a snow-capped peak, the evidences of God’s creativity are all around us.

Point these monuments¬†of¬†Gods love¬†out to your kids. Embrace their beauty and encourage your family to experience God outside of our “safe” and comfortable lives. Risk something, go away from the common and ordinary for the irreplaceable experience of knowing God. In the summer of 2010, I took my family to see the “heart of God” just north of Lake Louise Alberta. (See photo in blog) We hiked the Bow Glacier Falls trail for about seven miles and it changed my family forever. It was literally for us a process of walking out of the common into the world of the extraordinary. ¬†

For more on this subject of living from your “heart”, or to explore this concept of a¬† “passionate” life from a Christian perspective, check out one of¬†my favorites groups and authors … at ¬†http://www.ransomedheart.com

Could go on forever on this topic, but for now signing off. Helping to keep it real and to encourage you to “keep your family in between the lines and on the road of life

Peace out,

brad.

RoadTrip Parenting 101

At 41, I’m just now jumping into the world of blogging… so, please be patient as I’m¬† learning on the fly. As the current President of Bema Media and “i-Shine Live” in Nashville TN, I work every day with pre-teens & teens and the parents and pastors who care for them. I have a deep love for and profound respect¬†of those kids and I am learning every day. I convinced the evidences continues to show how rapidly they are being forced to grow up.¬†

This generation unlike any before it, is being forced to decide at a young age (avg 13) what they are going to believe for life about God, values, faith, religion and morality in general. Combine those pressures with our recent gigantic technological shift and its clear this generation is facing a “truth war” far greater than anything my generation had to deal with.

I’m also personally the father of three teenagers, (two girls and a son), married¬†now¬†for over nineteen years I am at least in a position to share openly from my professional and personal¬†viewpoints of past parenting failures and successes.

¬†As a second generation Christian, who waited until after the age of 30 to embrace Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior… I am also keenly aware of the pressures parents face to get their kids to “the finish line” and the danger of “not” passing the torch to the next generation. We as parents and pastors, will need to prayerfully and humbly seek the Scriptures and the combined wisdom of our peers and those who have gone before us to navigate the dangerous roads ahead.

I’m currently working on my first book, “Asleep at the Wheel” in which I share in great detail of the painful journey my family took from near tragedy to triumph all through the power of grace,forgiveness and the adventures of an epic summer family road trip. From that experience of road tripping with the¬†family,¬†an idea of¬† blogging was formed…I want to encourage¬†other parents, families and grandparents to engage their children where they live and with intentionality.

I chose to share of my love of wilderness travel and roadtripping adventure with my family and it paid off big time! What is your passion ? How can you include your kids to join with you in that activity? Find a way to connect the dots, find a way to engage your family with your faith and your life before they move along and are gone. 

When we took our road trip, it was a¬†sizeable commitment of time, money and¬†resources..but¬†well worth it. There was no “devotional study” or formal discussions, only genuine conversation and lots of red bull. Somewhere along the way it was simple and natural for me to connect with my kids, my wife and my God¬†and somewhere a thousand miles away…our¬†family was transformed. If you get this… then please jump in with ideas, comments and¬†encouragement as we¬†would love to hear from all of you¬†about your own success¬†stories of faith, family and the open road !

I know it’s becoming¬†normal for kids to plug-in and check out in our homes, cars and churches… but for me, observing the rapid evolution of technology and the ever-increasing presence of personal entertainment options…is new and crazy¬† and often scary. Technology¬†is confusing to¬†parents,¬†and we all struggle to various degrees in¬†absorbing and understanding the impact of iPod’s, Netflix, red box¬†and 4G¬†on our¬†families and homes.

However¬†dynamic the age we live in… we all must¬† navigate successfully the¬†generational responsibility of¬†safely overseeing our¬†children’s journey’s from adolescence to adulthood. This blog is meant to help and encourage you to “stay the course”… it’s worth all of the frustration, pain and rejection to win our kids hearts.

For more information on i-Shine, Bema Media and the Ministries that brad and his family are actively engaged with; check out www.ishinelive.com

Peace Out.