Friday, May 4, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
From the time I was 8 years old I have spent one week every summer at camp. It was the week that I looked forward to the most throughout the whole year. Camp was where I decided to follow Jesus. Camp was where I heard God call me to a life of ministry. Camp was where I met men like Terry Reilly, Drew Petitti, and Tim Zakarian; men that invested in a young boy and helped to develop a young man. Camp is where I learned I could completely trust Jesus. And camp was always the most fun week of my summer.
This week, Adam McLane is writing a series of posts about the power of camp. We had Eric Carlson from Hilltop Christian Camp speak at our church Sunday night inviting our students to camp. I will be at Hilltop this summer with our middle school students and we’ll be sending young people to camp throughout the summer.
I believe camp is one of the most important spiritual investments we can make in the lives of our children.
- Camp gives children an opportunity to experience worshipping Jesus daily.
- Camp provides children with adult mentors that show what it is like to live for Jesus.
- For this video game/cell phone/constantly connected generation camp provides an opportunity to disconnect from the noise of life and plug into the still small voice of God.
- Camp is where children can experience a full week of Christian community.
- Camp is fun.
Send your children to camp.
It really can transform their lives.
Where did you go to camp?
What was your camp experience like?
Monday, May 23, 2011
I’m slowly reading through The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being by Andrew Root. The following is the third post interacting with the book and my own experiences.
For the first time in my life, I am a little brother. My dad got married a couple of weeks ago to a wonderful woman who loves him very much, and both of her daughters are older than I am. The oldest was having quite a fun time calling me “little brother”, which made it quite weird for me because “little brother” has never been part of my identity. But to be honest, it is probably not as weird for me as it would have been if we were all living in the same household.
I cannot imagine how weird it may have been for my youngest brother when he went from being the baby in my mom and dad’s family to being the oldest in my dad’s home in his second marriage. The challenge to navigate in both of those worlds as he formed (and is still forming) his identity would have been and is great.
In his book The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being, author Andrew Root writes that the “pure relationship” nature of marriage today allows people to choose relationships in which “the self is free of obligatory structures”. Root writes that a relationship chosen by two individuals who have committed to marriage based on their love for one another is a “pure relationship [that is] contingent on the choice to be together outside of any kind of coercion.” (pg. 39) In contrast, “children are bound to their parents not by choice but by biology.”
My parents have both chosen new spouses. As good as their new spouses may be to them (and they are), I have not chosen my new family and I have no biological bond with them.
"When the biological obligatory bond is broken, and one world becomes two separate worlds, children are forced to form identity not through the solid place of shared being, but through choice. Children must be two selves in two different families, neither which firmly hold them in biological correlation.” (pg. 42)
Children of divorce struggle with identity issues in blended families. I do not know how to be “little brother”. It is not a role that I am familiar with in a family. I have always identified with being the oldest brother. Those of us who get to minister to and love these children must understand these issues and the complexity that comes with it. The children must be given the freedom and time to “choose” to love those that were “chosen” for them. Parents who have chosen divorce and then remarriage should understand that it is both complex and difficult for the children to navigate the world of blended families. The “new family” dynamic will never look like the “old family” dynamic.
As an adult child of divorce who has found his identity in Christ and His church, it is easier for me to love my new step-family because I can “choose” to love them as brothers and “big” sisters in Christ. But it will take time, and the bonds formed will be different than the biological bonds I have with my parent’s children.
I pray that my “new" family will have patience with me. I am still very attached to my “old” family.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
A relative of mine looking to get married soon asked this question the other day: How do I avoid divorce?
Knowing her story, and knowing that both of her parents had been married multiple times, I appreciated her question. Someone else answered her in the moment, but this is how I would have answered.
In my almost six years of marriage I have discovered that in order to keep the relationship with my wife healthy, I must remember these things:
1) Communicate expectations clearly. Every relationship has roles and responsibilities. Each individual must be up front in letting the other know what they are expecting of their spouse. If you expect your husband to hang the toilet paper so it hangs from the front, tell him before getting mad at him. If you expect dinner ready at 5:00pm, communicate it. If you expect that you and your spouse will go to bed at the same time, communicate it. If you do not communicate it and your expectation is not met, you cannot hold your spouse responsible for what they do not know.
2) Give without holding back and without expecting anything in return. Marriage is about trusting your spouse with your life. Make sacrifices to show that they are the most important person in your life. If you cannot trust the person you are planning to marry, you should reconsider making the commitment to that person.
3) You are on the same team. Marriage is not a competition. Spouses are not in opposition to one another. When you criticize, demean, or harshly rebuke your spouse you are only hurting yourself. Previously I wrote about having a greater purpose in marriage. My wife and I are united in our mission to pursue God and make him known. Be about your greater purpose and understand that when there are disagreements, there is no winning or losing if you are on the same team.
There are obviously more keys to a healthy marriage. What would you add?
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Jokes are convenient ways to turn frustrating situations or individuals into something we can understand and control. When a situation is turned into a joke, we control the punch line. When a person is turned into a joke, the joke teller holds the power over the person (the punch line).
Before you make that crack about your senior pastor, or about that one board member or elder, check yourself. Before you tear down your parents with “witty” jokes, check yourself. Before you make a generalized statement about men or women, or about kids these days, check yourself. Or before you tear down your teacher or a politician, check yourself.
Instead, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Thursday, May 12, 2011
What stories are you telling in your everyday conversations?
We’ve all got stories we like to tell. Some of us have stories that we will share with everyone we come in contact with. We have stories that everyone around us have heard over and over and over again.
What are those stories about?
I was realizing the other day that I have a tendency to tell stories that make me look good in comparison to other people. Sometimes, probably often, I tell the stories that prove my “right”ness as they measure up to someone else’s wrongness. I’m getting uncomfortable with those stories. I’m tired of justifying my life’s “successes” based on someone else’s “failures”.
I would rather tell stories that make others look good. I would rather boast on the accomplishments of the people around me than criticize their weaknesses. I want to tell stories of how God delivered me from my weaknesses and mistakes.
What are your stories about?
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I’m slowly reading through The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being by Andrew Root. The following is what I hope to be one of many posts interacting with the book and my own experiences.
Marriage didn’t happen for me until eight years after my parents’ divorce. I am quite thankful for that because it allowed me to take a look at the relationship patterns in my own life that I saw as contributing to the breakdown of my mom and dad’s relationship. Then I was able to submit those things in my life to Christ for healing and transformation. The most formative thing for me out of our family’s tragedy was my desire to know what I wanted out of marriage.
Before we were together, my wife used to tell her friends and family that she “wasn’t going to get married unless her husband would help her serve Christ better.” I had a similar approach in that I wasn’t interested in marrying someone unless we shared a trust in Christ and, even more importantly, we shared the same mission in ministry.
In the first chapter of The Children of Divorce, author Andrew Root lays out the history of marriage making the point that our modern way of marrying for love is a recent cultural phenomenon. Root makes the point that before the 16th century marriage was about passing on property, power, and tradition. Between the 16th and 18th centuries marriage was about maintaining tradition in a world of needed labor. Then in the 19th and 20th centuries people began marrying for intimacy. As marriage became more and more about the fulfillment of self, it became increasingly permissible for individuals to leave marriages that were not fulfilling their individual needs. Root suggests that marrying for love may be the reason why today’s marriages struggle to last a lifetime.
Love in and of itself can be fleeting. Even for the most devoted couples. Root’s point in the chapter is to point out that when couples choose to separate for reasons relating to self-fulfillment that children suffer because they have no choice in the matter. The child’s understanding of self is completely tied to who they are in the family.
It is important then, that families that intend to last have a purpose grander than acquiring “love” for self-fulfillment. My wife and I are united by our love for one another, but beyond that we are united by our desire to raise our kids to become fully functioning adults, and beyond that our calling to be ministers of God’s word in the Church. We are committed to staying together because our community would suffer if we did not.
If you are single, wait for a spouse that can help you live beyond yourself. If you are married, work together to find a purpose for your marriage beyond taking care of each other’s needs. Then, perhaps, fewer kids will have to suffer the tragedy of divorce on their lives.