Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making the Most of Serving with Your Kids

A word of warning up front—most of this post will be plagiarized.  I read a great book this year called “Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids” by Kara Powell and Chap Clark.  It had lots of great ideas about helping our kids to own their faith before they left our nest.  There was a chapter on serving with kids/students that just resonated with me.  I may have re-worded a few things, but here is what the book said about making the most out of a serving experience with your child:

Frame it Beforehand
·         Lay the foundation of the service (Why are you doing it)
·         Talk about who they are serving
·         Ask your kids to put themselves in the place of the people being served: how do they think the homeless person they are feeding will feel?  What kinds of things would make a kid feel welcome in small group?

Process it During
·         What was your favorite part?
·         What was the hardest part?
·         What did you do well?
·         What mistakes did you make?
·         How did you see God at work?
·         How did you see others being used by God?
·         What new questions does this raise for you?

Debrief it After
·         How did God work through you?  What does that say about how God might want to work through you in your daily life?
·         How has your experience shaped your view of service and justice?  What difference might that make now?
·         What have you learned about people who are poor or different from you?  How do you want that to shape you?
·         What ideas do you have to help this be more than just a onetime experience and instead be something that impacts your life?

Ongoing Transformation
As parents, intentionally seek out ways to connect the dots from the service experience to their daily lives (i.e. having lunch with a homeless man and having lunch with a new kid at their school).  “Justice work is more likely to stick when it’s not an event, but a process.”

I haven’t implemented all of these, but I’m working on a few of them every time I serve with my girls.  It’s tricky—if they feel like I’m evaluating them or making it an object lesson,  then the experience loses its joy and becomes work.  Feel free to change up the questions to fit your family—make it work for you.  I'm finding that the more I do it, the easier it is for questions to come to mind and I don't have to look at my cheat sheet.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When Your Kids Don't Want To Serve...Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the “yuck” I feel when my kids don’t want to serve.  I promised I would share some things God’s been teaching me through it.  These aren’t necessarily tips or guidelines in what to do with your child.  These are simply lessons I’m passing on, in hopes that they will help you, too (I seem to learn best by mistakes—how much better if they are some else’s).

Lesson #1—Serving doesn’t define who they are or who we are as a family.   It can be something we feel passionate about, but it is not who we are.  We are in Christ.  Let me clarify this a bit.

I think all families should have things that they are about—things that they all come together and rally around.  It can be their kids’ school, it can be their church, it can be their neighborhood, a family, or an organization. You get the idea--it can really be anything.  In fact, maybe it’s just about a concept—like serving—and you expose your kids to different ways to do that. 

There’s a fine line, though, between this and creating an identity.  We do these things out of an overflow of Christ in us—not FOR Christ or to impress Him.  Since kids are such concrete thinkers, they sometimes mix this up.  It’s our job to constantly turn them back to the Bible and reiterate the truth about who they are in their core. To make sure they know that even if they never served again, your love for them would not waver or change.

Lesson #2—Don’t take the refusal at face value—dig deeper.  Usually—especially with kids who live in the day to day—their push-back is because of something else.  When we talked about it the next night, Hope told me that she was tired and felt like we were always doing Lovepacs stuff and she just wanted to stay home and watch TV.  So we talked through it.  For once, I didn’t get defensive; we looked at a calendar and counted how many times we went to Lovepacs.  In light of everything else she saw on our calendar, it was minimum.  BUT, I did allow her to say how much she thought was too much and how much was enough.  We also talked about the ebb and flow—there are some weeks things are busier (I related them to a soccer tournament—it’s a lot during that one weekend, but we don’t do that on a consistent basis).  We also talked about whether we needed to lighten up on some other things so that it didn’t feel like we were gone every night.  It was a great give-and-take discussion.

Lesson #3—Know your kids.  I know that Hope doesn’t like things sprung on her.  I had been planning to go to Lovepacs that night, but had failed to tell her we were doing that back when we decided to.  She’s a creature of habit and is not scared to do different things, but likes to know what to expect.  If I’d have done a better job in this case, she wouldn’t have lashed out at me.  I can’t always forewarn her (and she’s learning about flexibility), but most of the time, I can give her time to get used to the idea.

Lesson #4—Give them a say in what you do.  Just because you are passionate about it, doesn’t mean it touches them.  Ask lots of questions.

·         What do they see as a need around them? 

·         What do they like to do?  Do they like kids? 

·         Do they prefer to be around older folks? 

·         Would they prefer to do something nobody sees or do they like to be in the middle of a group of people working together? 

These types of questions can help narrow down what you want to do together.  It shouldn’t box you in—you can find most of these types of things in the same serving experience—you just have to be intentional about the part your child is involved in and how you talk about it afterward.

Lesson #5—It’s okay if you show up to serve and they spend most of the time playing with other kids instead of serving.  In the beginning, I tried to get my kids to come in, pack boxes and pray over them.  They preferred to play football in the backyard.  They are finding their own community.  If I give them a task list, it sucks the joy out of it for them.  Also, I had to look at my reasoning for wanting them to pack—and honestly, part of it was that I felt that if we were asking others to do it, my family should be leading in it.  That’s not necessarily wrong, but it also made me put expectations on them to perform for others.  Again—it’s a fine line to walk on this one.  When I give them space and don’t expect them to do it, they are begging to be a part of it.

These are just a few lessons I’ve been learning.  What have you learned with your family?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Making Christmas Intentional

I've been on the hunt for Christmas ideas.  Ideas that will miraculously make my family just ooze with compassion and joy in this hectic season.  Ideas that will make my girls look at Christmas in a totally different light.  Ideas that will make my hubby and I sit by the Christmas lights and stare deeply into each other's eyes.

Ok, so maybe that's a tall order.  And honestly, as much as I love Brian, if we sat staring into each other's eyes, we'd either wind up laughing or fall asleep.  And, as much as I want every day to bring an "A-HA!" moment, most of the best lessons I've learned have been in the ordinary.

BUT, I am still on the hunt for something to do with my family.  Something that will give me a starting place with some intentional words to say.  Something that will plant nuggets of truth in my girls' minds.  Something that will make me stop in my tracks and breathe in the wonder of what God really did on that night so many years ago.

And on top of all that, it's gotta be manageable.  There are so many great ideas out there, but I know myself and my family well enough to know we can't (or maybe won't is the right word) do something every night for 25 nights.  In fact, we had a week-long activity we did for 3 years and I always spaced it over 2 weeks because I KNEW we'd miss a night (and even then, I think most of those years we had to double up a couple of nights). 

There are lots of ideas for little ones.  But, beyond the Jesse Tree, there aren't a lot for older elementary kiddos.  If I'd have started thinking about this a few months ago, I probably would have created something to do--picked from the many resources and pasted together something that I call my own but which is really just plaguarized from others. 

But I didn't.  And I do have an idea, but it's a lot of work and I'm not sure I will get it done before Dec. 1st.  And it's a 25 day thing, but I'm thinking to make it simple enough to combine 2 (or 3 or 4) nights together, if needed.  Or maybe I'll just shorten it.

After talking it over with Brian a couple of nights ago, I had almost decided to quit.  I don't need an activity to help me talk about the meaning of the season, do I?  But then, last night I asked the girls about it.  They were excited about doing something--as long as it wasn't a "study" kind of thing.  They came up with some great ideas of wrapping up names and opening them and prayig for them that night.  And the first name they mentioned was Lovepacs which made me happy.  While I loved their idea, I kept trying to find a way to tie it to Christmas.

So what would you do?  Would you just go with their idea or would you find a way to make it intentional for the season?  Have you found anything that you are doing with your family this year?  If so, please share!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Happens when your Kids don't want to Serve

I’m an activist.  Not the 60s and 70s kind of burn your bra type (I mean, really—who was for that?  I can guarantee you it wasn’t any woman with a cup size bigger than A).  Another way to describe my kind of activism is to say I’m service-oriented.  I like a cause.  I like even better to be involved in a community with a heart for a specific cause. 

Not all causes grab me—granted, I’m a sucker for many, but not all.  Lovepacs grabs me.  I think it should grab everyone (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT—check it out at  But, this post is not specifically about Lovepacs—so please don't tune me out if you're tired of all my fb posts about it!!!

Last week, we were getting ready to head to Lifegroup (a small group with some people in our community) and I guess I had failed to tell my girls that we were meeting at the Lovepacs headquarters to finish up some projects and make sure our shelves were full and ready for the Thanksgiving pack.  Hope was not happy.  Her exact comment was “Why do we always have to do things for Lovepacs?” But imagine it in a loud, yelling, 10 year old voice--complete with the angry, almost-teenager look.

I literally think my jaw dropped.  I looked at Brian and was speechless for a few moments (if you know me, you know that doesn’t happen often!).  When I recovered and was able to pick my jaw up off the ground,  I was indignant.  I mean, who doesn’t want to make sure kids have food?  Then I was worried.  Am I forcing my kids to do something they don’t want to do?  Is this my cause and not theirs?  Are my girls going to grow up resentful of the time and effort I spent on Lovepacs?  Would they see it as time stolen from them?  Then I was hurt.  I felt like it was a personal jab at me—a way for her to attack something I was passionate about to push my buttons (not that she EVER does that). 

Well, I calmly explained why we were doing it.  And I prayed.  For once, I can say, I took my worries to God.  I asked him to show me any blind spots.  I also asked for wisdom in how to navigate this moving forward. 

So we went.  And Hope had a blast.  Some of her time was spent serving—counting cans, shopping for veggies and pop-tarts, and sorting supplies.  Part of it was spent playing in the parking lot with the other kids.  But the thing that floored me the most was when we prayed over and dedicated our space.  We had a few specific things to pray (For our volunteers who didn’t know Jesus, for the business owner who was giving us the space for our headquarters—free of charge, for our 501c to come back approved soon, and of course, for the boxes and the kids who would receive them).  We asked for volunteers and Hope’s hand went up fast.  She specifically wanted to pray for the kids receiving the Lovepacs--and did so out loud in front of everyone.  To say I was shocked is stating it lightly.

On Monday, I gave the girls an option of staying home or coming with me to help with the 1st crew coming to pack.  They both were adamant that they wanted to go and help.  And they each packed 3 boxes on their own.  And were sad when Brian came to take them home.

So this story has a happy ending—for now.  But I’m not going to assume that will always be the case.  I’ll post more on some things that I feel like God is teaching me through it and through my own experience of growing up with parents who worked for a church.  Not that I think I have all the answers—far from it.  But I think we often hide these kinds of discussions with our kids because we’re embarrassed.  I mean, we are obviously a bad parent if our kids don’t feel passion toward something that gets our own hearts beating faster, right? 

Have you ever had a moment like the one I had with Hope?  One where you were shocked speechless?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dear Veteran

Dear Veteran,

I don’t know if I can even do justice to thanking you properly for what you have done for me and my family.  As I sat through the program at my girls’ school last Friday, I was moved by the number of you who attended and  the amazing pictures of you serving our country.

I was also moved by how “ordinary” you looked. 

You were men, women, young, old, black, white, Hispanic—and many of you were parents.

I can’t imagine the toll your job has taken on you and your family.  I can’t begin to even comprehend the sacrifice you made or the hardships you endured.

THANK YOU for allowing me to vote in an election for my president this week.

THANK YOU for allowing me to worship openly at my church this morning.

THANK YOU for allowing my kids to go to school without the fear of being shot at.

THANK YOU for allowing my family to sleep peacefully at night while you stay awake and watch our borders.

THANK YOU for protecting us so well that I take it for granted that we live in a free country.

I do know that freedom isn’t free and I am grateful to you for the price you pay so that my family can enjoy freedom.

Thank you seems so small, but I give it to you  from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Conversations with Caroline

C: "I need a band-aid--I scraped my toe on the sidewalk."
Me: "We need to wash it with soap and water first"
C: "I already cleaned it with water"
Me: "You just came in the house. You don't have any water outside."
C: "Yes I do. I used my spit."

Yep, those are my redneck children running down the street with no shoes on and spitting on their feet. We've got class in the Royal house.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Favorite Pinterest Quotes...Vol 2

As promised, I have found more great quotes on Pinterest:

Whoever said diamonds are a girl's best friend, didn't own a dog.

Laugh when you can, apologize when you should and let go of what you can't.

Life is better at the beach.

People will stare. Make it worth their while. --Harry Winston

Rock bottom is a beautiful start.

I like big books and I cannot lie.

The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. --Peggy O'Mara

Life is about using the whole box of crayons.

You're making it difficult for me to be the parent I always thought I'd be.

Do it with passion or not at all

Whoever said money can't buy happiness has clearly never been to Target.

Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.

Sometimes you just have to take a leap--and build your wings on the way down.

And if the music is good, you dance.

Stay tuned...I'm becoming a word junkie. Good thing there's Pinterest to feed my addiction.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What I Learned from Halloween

Well, another Halloween is under our belts--it might even be the last time Hope wants to trick or treat since shes getting to that tricky age where she's struggling with whether shes too old or not.

Here's what I learned this year:
  • If your daughter is starting puberty, be prepared for tears about her costume, her friends, her hair and anything else that comes up--right before you have to walk out the door
  • Changing costume ideas 4 times in 1 week is too much (especially when that's multiplied by 2 girls)
  • When friends invite you for chili before trick or treating, go--you won't regret it
  • It's okay to zig zag back and forth across the street and not trick or treat methodically
  • Mad scientist wigs are hot
  • There is such a thing as too much candy
  • Moms don't get scared when you jump out at them from behind bushes
  • Nerds don't wear make-up (actually, this is something I tried to teach Hope but I don't think she got it)
And the burning question that runs through my mind every year is...Who first thought someone would put a razor blade in their kiddos' candy?  Did that really happen or was that a parent who just wanted to "sort" the candy and sneak their favorites out of the pile?

What did you learn this year?