Slow Down. Please.

I can’t help but push a little more, I can’t stop the need to check one more item off the ‘to-do’ list of my life. It’s my nature to stay busy, to distract myself from tomorrow by filling my ‘today’.

Maybe you can relate? 

The world we live in doesn’t help. Our instant communication and remarkable technologies have opened up worlds of discovery and detail that compel us to discover and ‘do’ more with each day.

Parenting is easily the hardest and best work of your life. Of any life. Our immediate desire is to protect and provide, to make sure our offspring are safe from harm and well cared for. Later we engage with our kids, teaching and mentoring them into the ways of life and the wiles of our world. We have dreams and desires for them, we have hopes that they will go where we couldn’t, do what we didn’t dare to try. (parenting doesn’t require a biological child, many parent those in need around us)

The struggle to find ‘rest’ in the world of parenthood is real. It seems the days are so slow… yet the years fly by. Our work as a parent never seems to end, we just shift gears as our kids get older, always busy, always engaged with the work of life and family. 

I have been told by almost every older parent or pastor I’ve ever known to ‘slow down’. I’ve known intellectually that life is more than a series of goals to be accomplished, but in the nitty – gritty of day to day living, it really didn’t sink in.

I imagine that many of you could say the same.

So what can we do to realign ourselves and reconnect with our deeper purpose and meaning beyond parenthood…? Isn’t there a purpose to life beyond raising our children?

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Here’s what I’m learning as a newly minted 50 year old grandfather of two little ones. ‘Slow down’ was/ is wise advice.  I’m learning to accept and apply it over all my natural instincts to the contrary. 

Slowing down is a spiritual discipline for those who are ‘wired’ to keep moving. (not so much for those who like to stay still) It’s difficult to do without extenuating circumstances, we don’t ‘choose’ to slow down, we are ‘forced’ to slow down. God in his infinite mercy works in His mysterious ways to push us back into a proverbial corner. We may find ourselves stuck in a situation of His creation that forces us to stop thrashing and simply ‘be still’.

On first glance we feel like we’re being punished. God must be ‘angry’ with us. But as we slowly unclench our hearts and open ourselves up to His voice we soon begin to sense the exact opposite.

God is pleased with us. He wants to reveal something new and essential to our identity. We are now more than just parents or spouses, we are created children of a heavenly father. More than pawns in a cosmic struggle for power, we are invited to be a part of this divine story of redemption and love.

Not to drift too far into the theology, but we generally won’t stay ‘still’ for long without a deeper understanding of the presence of God. We need to learn to seek Him out for more than a few minutes each day. He is inviting us to bring Him along ‘all’ day. This shift from accomplishing things to ‘being’ is essential.

photo courtesy of Pixabay

The presence of God in our lives is where we find true meaning, purpose, and thus ‘Satisfaction’. Yes, the elusive sense of peace and contentment that is promised in scripture is truly out there. It just takes time to discover. 

So, be encouraged if you find yourself ‘hemmed in’ by life. God is in it. He is conspiring to bless you, to force you to rest and be ‘still’. It’s the only way forward.

Slow Down! Please.

Pastor Brad.

 

5 Essentials for Modern Parenting

 

5 Essential Issues for Today’s Christian Parent!

As summarized from the Brilliantly Brave Parenting Podcast series:

Parenting is hard work and it requires effort and conviction to do well! Sometimes it feels like the odds are stacked against us. We’re here to bring hope and practical advice to the challenges of faith-based parenting. Brilliantly Brave Parenting wants to be a fun and encouraging resource for today’s Christian family!

Here are FIVE essentials of parenting to consider:

#1 Fighting Futureshock: Today’s generation of parents currently active & engaged with the church is struggling with more than a simple ‘generation gap.’ We are struggling with ‘Futureshock.“ Which means, “a displacement of reality in which life is only focused on the present, and constantly being redefined by the moment. This lack of stability and constancy creates a state of constant flux for parents.”

Clearly as parents in a shifting moral landscape we are going to need to anchor ourselves and our kids to something ‘greater’ than ourselves.

The traditions of the faith provide a powerful resource for parents and pastors to utilize. Disciplines of devotion offer a way for us to be reminded of the truth of our biblical heritage. The constant remembrance of how BIG GOD is, and how the values of our world do not match with the values of scripture.

https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep57-bishop-dan-scott – Find out more  Listen to our FREE Podcast Link

 #2. Self-Care is ESSENTIAL:

When was the last time you invested in yourself as a parent or pastor?

Parenting is exhausting, the idea that we can just persevere through it is a bit naive. We need to rest. We need to recharge and refocus. As parents we can’t give what we don’t have. Our modeling and ability to teach our kids will be profoundly impacted by the energy we have to give them.

Self-Care requires healthy habits, resting well at night, making space in our schedules to spend time with our families, and watching our diet and exercise. That also means saying ‘no’ to outside things so that we are sure that we’re involved with our kids. We can’t offer what we don’t have.

Jesus modeled this idea when he would retreat from the crowds and the disciples to go apart and pray. He would withdraw to the mountains as often as he could, knowing the essential nature of rest and refreshment spiritually, physically, and emotionally. We are no different.

Podcast Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/reality-with-teens-ep44-paige-clingenpeel

#3 Heritage of Faith

God calls parents to do amazing things with their lives! We can’t put Him in a small box, His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts… the path God leads is often overwhelmingly big and seemingly impossible. But God has a long, long, history of calling ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things.

We need to ‘listen’ and be aware of the subtle requests that God nudges us to do. It is NOT our life, we are on loan to God, and we can’t forget that God has plans for us that are bigger than our own. The same is true for our children.

Our kids and our plans can’t be driven by our ambition or pride, because it’s not about us. EGO is Edging God Out, and we can’t do that as Christians.

God will empower us to see beyond our own lives, to see the needs of those around us and to give us the strength and courage to act boldly!

Podcast Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/brilliantly-brave-episode-1-patti-garibay

#4 The Danger of Self-Reliance:

Being perceived as “strong” and above it all is a huge temptation for parents in the church to try and project. The reality is, we’re not. We can’t handle it all by ourselves. We need help and we need encouragement, and we need support from other believers.

Parenting is more than a project to complete, it’s a sacred assignment to be guarded and stewarded well. Part of stewarding our parenting role is to surround ourselves with wise counsel and experience from those who have gone before us.

Living self-reliant as a parent can result in the spiritual death of your kids! Don’t do it. Jesus never called us to be ‘good’ – but Holy. Good is what we do, Holy is what He does. Christian Karma is when we start ‘comparing’ our good/bad behavior with others and rely on our being ‘better’ than other people.

Values based parenting vs. Rules based – the difference is all about what we parent from… fear or love.

What is our goal as a parent? To deliver a ‘good’ kid at 18 years of age, without having premarital sex, or having tried alcohol or drugs? Or is it to love them unconditionally and help them discover their identity as God created them to be?

Podcast Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep30-dean-diehl

#5 Single Parents and the Church: 

One-third of all households are led by a single parent. Today’s single parents are struggling to engage with the church and with their faith. Being ‘alone’ and unsupported by the Christian culture is something solo parents often ‘feel,’ no matter what a local community of faith might project.

The battle for single parents to raise their children to be responsible and well-balanced citizens, provide for their well-being, and keep up with all of the myriad of demands that life throws at us is impossible. They are overwhelmed by it all in the best of circumstances.

The role of church in coming along side of single parents has largely been in question. Many single parents feel abandoned or judged by the church and lack the confidence to enter the doors of a church to ask for help. The need for single parent spiritual support and practical assistance is only growing. How the church responds now will be a significantly positive or negative impact for the next generation of parents.

Podcast Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep59-nikki-leonti-edgar

Parenting Essential #4 – The Danger of Self – Reliance

Essential #4 – The DANGER of Self-reliance: 

Living independently as a parent could be dangerous, may even result in the spiritual death of your kids. A paraphrase from our Podcast interview with Professor Dean Diehl, Podcast season 2.

Being perceived as “strong” and above it all is a huge temptation for parents in the church to try to project everything’s OK. The reality is, we’re not. We can’t handle everything by ourselves, we are going to need help and encouragement. As parents we all need support, especially from other believers.

Parenting is more than a project to complete, it’s a sacred assignment to be guarded and  well protected. Part of stewarding our parenting role is to surround ourselves with wise counsel and experience from those who have gone before us.

Source – Pexels.com

The culture is always pushing into our parenting practices, we have to protect ourselves from its influences and recognize how it redirects us from living as authentic examples of faith. Society will urge us to deny our weakness and project how mature and strong we are as parents, we can be duped into expending tremendous energy to present our families as a ‘success’.

As Christian parents, what are the goals we want set for our kids… Why?

The influence of our culture pushes us to quantify our successes with material and or secular measurements rather than spiritual dimensions. “What is our goal as a parent? To deliver a ‘good’ kid at 18 years of age, without having premarital sex, having tried alcohol or drugs? Or is it to love them unconditionally and help them discover their identity as God created them to be?”

This podcast interview digs deep and asks some hard questions for parents to consider, questions we all need to answer carefully and honestly.

If you’re struggling with the enormity of parenthood, you are not alone. We can walk through this together or forge ahead alone. To see our kids hearts won for Christ, we will have to adjust our approach and align ourselves with the way God works and reject the way our world insists we go.

Interview Information:

Brilliantly Brave Parenting Podcast Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep30-dean-diehl

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/j1qf4IoZrws

Website Link: https://brilliantlybraveparenting.com/dean-diehl/

Some key thoughts / quotes from our interview:

“Self – reliance as a parent will get your kids killed (Spiritually)”

“Jesus never called us to be ‘good’ – But Holy. Good is what we do, Holy is what He does.”

“Christian Karma is when we start ‘comparing’ our good/bad behavior with others, and rely on our being ‘better’ than other people.”

“Selling salvation is one of the great failures of the evangelical church over the past century. We’ve tried to ‘sell’ the gospel – and we’re not called to sell the gospel – it’s not a sales proposition – it’s an offer of life.”

“Values based parenting vs. Rules based – the difference is all about what we parent from, fear or love.”

“What is our goal as a parent? To deliver a ‘good’ kid at 18 years of age, without having premarital sex, having tried alcohol or drugs? Or is it to love them unconditionally and help them discover their identity as God created them to be?”

“Fear of missing out – is one of the key marketing approaches in our modern society – it shouldn’t be a Christian parenting or church principle.”

About Dean Diehl: Assistant Professor at Trevecca Nazarene University and Senior VP at Provident Music Group. Trevecca is a private Christian liberal arts college in Nashville, TN. Founded in 1901, Trevecca’s mission is “a Christian community providing education for leadership and service.”

Dean Diehl is the director of their music business program. Diehl joined Trevecca in 2008 after pursuing a 20-year career in the music industry where he worked as the senior vice president of Provident Music Group, helping to shape the careers of well-known artists such as Casting Crowns, Third Day and Michael W. Smith. He and his wife live in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., where he grew up, and have four daughters and three grandchildren.

 

 

Essential #2 for Parents

  1. Self-Care Essentials: When was the last time you invested in yourself as a parent ? (This Blog post is 2 of 5 in a series developed from the podcast series, Brilliantly Brave Parenting with special guest Paige Clingenpeel – season 5)

Parenting is exhausting, the idea that we can just persevere through it is a bit simplistic, in time we all run ‘dry’.

We need to rest. We need to recharge and refocus.

As parents we can’t give what we don’t have, our modeling and ability to teach our kids will be profoundly impacted by the energy we have to give them.

Listening is a huge part of parenting, “listening is the key to starting communication” both with our kids and our spouses. It conveys the reality of love and respect unlike any other behavior. We can’t listen without some energy, it’s exhausting to be ‘in the moment’ with our kids. We often lack the ‘bandwidth’ to be with our kids after a hard day of work.

Source – Pexels.com

Listening and being available for our kids is one of the hardest things we can ever attempt to do on a regular basis. Our lives are so full and busy, we need to practice ‘self-care’ if we ever hope to be fresh and focused for our parenting responsibilities.

Self-Care requires healthy habits, resting well at night, making space in our schedules to spend time with our families, watching our diet and exercise, and of course saying ‘no’ to other things to be sure we’re involved with our kids. We can’t offer what we don’t have.

Jesus modeled this idea when he would retreat from the crowds and the disciples to go apart and pray. He would withdraw to the mountains as often as he could, knowing the essential nature of rest and refreshment spiritually, physically, emotionally. We are no different.

Podcast Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/reality-with-teens-ep44-paige-clingenpeel

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/TBaUkmOy2QA

Notes and Quotes from our Podcast Interview with Paige:

  • Topic: “Self-Care” and Parenting-Self-care seems selfish, but it’s actually essential for parents to make time to recharge.
  • Modeling behaviors like ‘respect’ and love’ are vital for parents to show their kids
  • Listening is the ‘key’ to starting communication.
  • Parents need to not only take time for themselves, but they need to cultivate a trustworthy group of friends and mentors to gain perspective and encouragement from.
  • Surround yourself with truth-seekers and truth-speakers.
  • Self-care is creating space for God

About Paige Clingenpeel; LMHC 

A mental health therapist with extensive experience in working with families, Paige has a passion for those in the middle of parenting pre-teens and teens, Paige offers an encouraging perspective for parents who are feeling worn out. Her insights and speaking engagements are welcomed nationally at youth retreats and ministry events. Mother of four kids herself, Paige’s advice is formed from her own practical life experiences.

Check out Paige’s podcast interview and find out ‘whats going on in your kids head!”

Find out more: Paigeclingenpeel.com / TrendsandTeens.com / iMom.com

Brilliantly Brave Parenting Podcast

This is blog post 2 of 5, in our “Essentials of Parenting” series.

“Saying YES to the dress”

Recently while serving as the parish Priest / Pastor of St. Margaret’s in Conway NH, I discussed the words of St. Paul in Colossians 3 regarding how to experience a ‘spiritual makeover’.

My wife and family loved watching the popular series “Say Yes to the Dress” (TLC cable) and despite my boredom with the topic and idea in general, I often watched along with the rest as drama after drama was displayed on the screen. Tears, fears, and frustrations were all put on vivid display as family after family struggled to agree on the best dress for each new bride to be. 

The process of trying on and shrugging off each new possible dress was agonizingly slow for me to watch, but the reactions from everyone involved was remarkably riveting. The expectations were so high for each new bride to find her ‘perfect’ fit and form, for her special – once in a lifetime – day.

So to the Kingdom of God and His bride the church. We are being asked to find our best fitting attire for our special day! Paul writes to the church at Colosse in chapter three to say these words….

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. “(ESV – Biblegateway.com) 

The language here is reminiscent of the idea of taking off “old” clothing and putting on “new” garments. The removal of the past and the putting on of the future, a metaphor for the Christian experience of ‘New Life’ in Christ.

Paul’s writing to the local church (ecclesia) to actively remove the old, and actively put on the new postures and traits of Christ. It’s more than an act of our wills though. God has given us the ‘capacity’ to act differently in the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are no longer stuck in our past habits and passions, instead we’ve been given a newness of life from the inside out.

The Christian has the ability to say ‘no’ to the old ways of our flesh, and say ‘yes’ to the new and Holy ways of Christ. It’s more than a change of attitude, it’s a change in our altitude. 

God’s life within us, begins to transform us from the innermost part of our hearts to our minds and will. The more time we spend in the presence of God and His people, the stronger the seed will grow, the less time we spend… the more dormant it will become.

When we look at the overall changes in our lives, and the significant movements from who we were… it’s encouraging. If we only focus on the tedious struggles of the here and now, we can get discouraged into believing we’re not really any different now than when we started this Christian journey of faith.

NOT SO.

God will finish the work He started in us. He will not fail us, and we can take renewed comfort in the fact that our salvation and renewal is not based on our best efforts or accomplishments along the way.

Instead we’re captured by the power of Grace and Redemption. It’s these truths that unlock our most stubborn hearts and renews our warped minds into something entirely new and fresh!

Parents and Grandparents, don’t be discouraged if you’re not seeing any apparent transformation in your offspring. God is still active and engaged in the process – deep under the surface. The seeds of faith and authenticity you’ve planted with your life will grow, and in time God’s promises will be seen and displayed. Be confident of the truth of God to grow in the most surprising of times.

SO… take the time to spend in reading a devotional and or scripture today. Invest in your own spiritual makeover, it may be time to let go of some old stuff and start putting on the new … it’s time to say “Yes” to the dress.

Peace out, Pastor B.

Sources and Links: 

Daily Lectio.net 

Daily Audio Bible 

 

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 🙂

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.

drip drip drip… the power of persistence

Parents, are you tempted to throw in the towel with your tween?

I know… it’s overwhelmingly difficult sometimes to parent a hormone-soaked-storm like the typical teen or tween. They know how to push each exasperation button we have… and somehow avoid being responsible for “ANYTHING” from their school grades to the family shared, mobile, data-plan last month 🙂

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They disdain our “ancient” wisdom of 40 something as outright stupidity and live comfortable in the smug knowledge they are in fact… the geniuses. Cerebral giants who can barely tolerate our presence in their ‘homes’.  We call these crazies our kids and if you’re not careful… they can wear you down to the nub…

Or even worse, they might make you so exhausted… you give up! 

DO NOT GIVE UP ON THEM !

DO NOT STOP PARENTING

DO NOT STOP CAREFULLY KEEPING THE BOUNDARIES OF LIFE, LOVE, AND YOUR FAMILY INTACT !

Don’t stop praying, don’t stop sharing, don’t stop daring to believe in their hearts catching fire for Christ ! We underestimate our value, our power as parents ! Our kids get over 70 hours week of mainstream media ingested into their noggin and less than 3 hours of parent & pastor combined…

Poll after poll tells us that tweens (kids 7-13) and teens admit the opinions and ideas of their parents are THE SINGLE MOST INFLUENTIAL VOICE IN THEIR LIVES ! 

Be persistent !Untitled-111-980x613

It’s not up to us to convince… only God can change a heart or an attitude. But we as parents can be intentional about never – ever giving up on our kids. Of living out our faith values with honesty and persistence, day-in and day-out… like water on rock, over time… the water wins !

Pastor B.