Friday, April 30, 2010


“Not that I speak from want, for I’ve learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in”. –Phil. 4:11

Contentment is defined by Webster as “having satisfaction and ease of mind.” I think Webster is close. But a better way to define contentment is my granddaughter, Reese Elizabeth, sleeping! Only born for a few days, I stared at her sleeping in her swing and thought, ”how could life be any more peaceful that it is for a sleeping baby?”

So, how do we develop and continue to create a home of peace as that baby grows into a teenager? Here are 4 ways:

One way to develop a home of peace is to be what God has created us to be: a mother and a father. Someone commented yesterday that, “the key to a healthy family is mom being mom and dad being dad.” Given our teens’ free will, it’s not quite that simple, but it is a huge factor in molding that will. Having kids doesn't make one a parent. Parent is a verb as well as a noun and infers that we’re doing the hard work to provide for our kids. Reese is content because Elizabeth and Mark are doing their work as parents.

A second way to create a content environment for our kids is to provide safety. Reese is so vulnerable right now. She can't walk, lock the doors or do anything to protect herself. But her parents are creating safety for her. They provide a haven of security for her to grow. Parents provide these “havens” for their teenagers by creating an environment of peace and stability. Of course, that begins with a healthy marriage. At Shelterwood we teach that healthy marriages produce secure parenting every time! In that context, teens see home as a place to rest, not a place of stress.

A third way for parents to create an atmosphere of peace is to provide the proper nourishment for their kids. Reese is 100% dependent on Elizabeth right now to provide the food she needs to grow. Elizabeth isn't feeding her Dr. Peppers and candy bars, she is providing the milk Reese needs to be healthy. Proper nourishment for teenagers involves a slice of correction sandwiched between two slices of encouragement. Other meals include building up their spiritual, physical and emotional lives. Though our teens may not appear hungry, their need for proper nourishment never ends. If you don't “feed” them, they’ll find something to eat somewhere else. And those meals usually aren't good ones.

And the fourth way for parents to create an atmosphere towards contentment is to pray. I know it might sound trite and obvious, but prayer is the number one way we keep our kids in their place. That place is in the hands of the loving God that loves them and created them in the first place. Prayer changes our hearts as parents and transforms us from worrying and fretting, to loving and trusting. That, in turn, creates the secure home our teen’s need.

So, as we do the hard work of parenting, there are no guarantees. Our teenagers are in His hands. But we can know that we have been faithful to provide a secure home for that swinging baby we call our teenager.

by Joseph Staples ©

Thursday, April 29, 2010


“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’” –Matt. 5:37

“Say no to commitment. No contract. No deposit. No credit check.” When I was in Texas last week, and I saw this writing on a billboard, I just had to pull over and take the picture. Of course, this refers to a cell phone plan, but it pretty much applies to most everything the days. Like someone said, “signing a contract means little to this post-modern generation. If they break an agreement, it’s no big deal.”

This lack of commitment and being “real” is at the core of the decline of our economy and of the family. What’s wrong with a credit check? Truth is, if they did the credit check, they’d find out that many couldn’t afford the cell phone or the house or the car. So they’d have to wait. They’d have to plan. They’d have to save. They’d have to be responsible.

What happened to the days when a handshake was enough? What happened to the days when the phrase “prenuptial agreement” wasn’t needed? Where did the quality of “stick-to-it-iveness” lose its appeal? It actually “jumped ship” when a generation of baby boomer parents took over the helm. These parents who were overly provided for as young adults, reared kids with little appreciation for commitment. The flexible “hippie mode” was their choice as teenagers but didn’t carry over well as they became parents.

So, this generation of teenagers struggles to learn to simply “stay, wait and save.” Marriage rates decline, job rates decline, while foreclosure’s rise.

But as always, there is hope. It’s never too late as parents to teach the attribute of commitment to our teenagers. This area is definitely more “caught than taught.” Our kids usually mimic what they see in us. If we give our word, we stick to our word. If we say we’ll be there at 4:00pm, we get there at 3:55pm. If we volunteer to help at school, we shoe up at school and help. If we tell our teen that spending time with God is important, then we get up early and we have a Quiet time. It’s important to “do what we say.”

Point is, we “practice what we preach.” Yep, being a parent is easy. Being a parent that makes a difference is hard work. But, with God’s strength, He’ll give us all the wisdom we need. Because you see, His commitment to us will never waver. God says, “yes” to the commitment of His love for us. He will help us as parents. There are no guarantees, but as we’re faithful and committed, we’re doing all we can do.

By Joseph Staples ©

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Popularity Contest

“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” -Gal. 1:10

We all like to be liked. That process begins early in life. Of course, our nature is to be at the top of the list. During our growing years, we try to be picked first for teams in elementary school, be voted to safety counsel in junior high (which I just missed in 5th grade. I wanted to wear that safety belt so badly!), be chosen “most popular” in high school and get in that perfect sorority in college. “Dress right, speak right, act right, do right and maybe, just maybe people will like you.” That formula kinda works through the school years, but in the parenting years, that formula can spell disaster.

I’ve learned as much in my years of leadership with Doulos Ministries. As I often share, my job is pretty simple because I work with some phenomenally talented men and women. I feel like Phil Jackson coaching the Chicago Bulls in the 90’s. It seems like all he really had to do, as the coach of the Jordan’s and Pipin’s, was to say, “men, go out there and play hard.” They did and they won championships. I just keep the Doulos leaders headed the right direction and they do a great job. It is an honor to work with my friends. But occasionally they need a coach. It’s then that I have to take a deep breath and remind myself of my role. It’s then that I have to pray, “Lord, I am here to be used by You first. If that means the friendships waver, then so be it. Please be my strength.”

A few weekend’s ago, we had our Shelterwood Family Retreat. It’s a wonderful time of fellowship and ministry and I’m always impressed with the quality and humility of the parents. I was talking with a mom about her struggles with her daughter. The family is making progress, but the daughter is furious with mom because mom is saying “no” and setting boundaries. Tears flowed as mom described the rejection by her daughter. But the weekend improved as daughter reacted to the boundaries created by her mom. I’ve found, in my years of counseling, that though teens might initially respond with anger, deep inside they respond with relief to the structure initiated by loving parents. You see it in smaller children that aren't afraid to be vulnerable. When I used to discipline our 2 kids, they would stick even closer to me throughout the day.

Being a parent is not about being liked, it’s about being used. Too often these days, parents opt to be friends more than parents. As one football coach most eloquently put it, “enough of this friendship crap. Teenagers need a parent, not a friend.”

Let God use you as He desires in the life of your teen. They’ll like you sometimes and they won't like you other times. Setting boundaries, plans, curfews and allowances will usually be sticky. Standing up for what’s right can be tough. But being the loving parent your child needs is all that matters. Winning that contest is the greatest prize of all!

By Joseph Staples ©

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” -Prov. 16:9

The world experienced its worst air disruption since September 11th, 2001 last week. From France and Belgium to the Czech Republic and the eastern Baltic states, aviation authorities declared their airspaces closed, which lasted for several days. Many airports across Europe were shut down for almost a week. Air travel was affected literally all over the world and took several weeks to get back to normal. Was it a terrorist attack or world war? No, it was the ash from a volcano on Iceland. Unpredicted and surprising, it took everyone off guard and disrupted millions of lives.

Disruptions seem to always cause some level of chaos. The formula goes something like this: a plan is made, then an unexpected event occurs which interrupts that plan, a disruption ensues, then the planner experiences anxiety. Then one of two things happens to the original planner: gets mad and attempts to change the interruption to meet the original plan, or changes the plan to fit the new event. In other words, the planner either “goes with the flow” or gets mad and attempts to manipulate the unexpected event. With a ministry on the move like Doulos and Shelterwood, I often tell the Staff, Doulos is spelled f-l-e-x-i-b-l-e. Life really is about how well we adapt to change.

What does this have to do with parenting? Well, a teenager is a living, breathing and walking “unexpected event” waiting to happen. Example: track season is about to begin. One day, your son announces at dinner that he’s “pumped to run track” and you order his track shoes with him on line from Eastbay that night. “I think I’ll run the hurdles”, he announces as he goes to bed. A few days later, he comes home after school. You ask him, “I thought today was the first day of track?”. “It was,” he announces, “but I’m not running track this year cause I’m playing on the golf team. I talked to the coach and he thought golf was a great idea. I already sent the shoes back to Eastbay. I’m pumped to play golf.” You can't believe it! You’d already been reading about hurdles on the Internet, written the track meets on the calendar and ordered a cool Nike outfit to wear to the meets.

Millions of travelers had plans to fly all over the world and many were upset. They demanded that the people responsible be held liable for the financial loss. Problem is, volcanoes can't write checks. Things changes. Plans change. People change. Most of all, our teenager’s change. Sure, we need to teach values of decision making and sticking to our commitments, but many times what we call a disruption is really just our teenagers changing their mind against our opinions.

So, be careful dictating your desire over the decision of your teenager. Help them understand the responsibility of decision-making, the good and the bad. After all, it’s their life, not yours. It’s their faith, not yours.

Pray for the Lord to give you flexibility so when the volcano erupts and the plans you made change, you will be supportive of your teen.

by Joseph Staples ©

Monday, April 26, 2010


“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” –Eccles. 9:10

Contrary to popular opinion, work has never been a particularly popular enterprise for teenagers. Whether doing chores on the farm or in the home, most teens don't naturally like to work. But the value of work is definitely an important lesson learned as a child and cultivated during the teenage years.

One Sunday, as a 9th grader, I thought I had it all figured out. We had youth group at the church at 6:00pm. I didn't get home from a friends house till 5:30 and my dad had expected me to cut the grass before I went to youth group. I hurried into my room, changed into my “youth group clothes” (not sure what those were), and proceeded to announce to my dad that, “well, I’ll have to cut the grass later in the week ‘cause I need to leave for youth group.” I thought I had him. Surely he wouldn't let grass cutting interfere with my spiritual growth (truth was, we just sat around and ate hamburgers- not a lot of depth). He said, “Well, I guess you’ll have to be late because the grass needs cutting now. You have football every afternoon this week,” pointed out my dad. “But I’ll miss most of youth group,” I said. “Yep, but you made that choice,” he said. I couldn't believe it. I was not happy. Reluctantly, I finished the yard and hurried to youth group and ate a hamburger.

Truth is, my dad was right. I had made a choice to miss youth group. Not doing the chore was never the choice and my dad made sure I understood. I wasn’t happy with my dad, but the times he taught me lessons made me respect him even more.

Teach your child the value of work and chores early. Give them little projects to do around the house. Have them clean their room before they can watch cartoons. As they get older, increase their responsibility. Have them work in the yard and help with laundry. Don't expect them to be happy about it. Your role as parents is not to win a popularity contest (we’ll discuss that in a future article). Your role is to teach and mold.

In our work at Shelterwood, an important component of the experience is doing chores and working to keep the campus beautiful. The teens learn the value of using their hands and completing projects. Teach your teen to finish what they begin. Of course, the lessons go deeper than just chores. As they work hard and finish their chore, they learn to take responsibility for who they are.

Their future coaches and bosses may never call to thank you, but teaching your teen these values will help them be a responsible adult.

By Joseph Staples ©

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trusting Teens

“Love always trusts…” -1 Cor. 13

You already know I love the Andy Griffith Show. Many asked how long it would be before Andy Griffith themes entered my blog scene. Well, it begins today! How can there be any discussion about “trusting kids” without referring to Opie and Andy. But for those that don't care for the Andy Griffith Show (which makes me sad), I won't go there every day- I promise!

One of my favorite episodes is called “Mr. McBeevee.” While walking through the woods, Opie meets Mr. McBeevee, a telephone repairman. Opie, in describing his new friend to Andy and Barney, remarks McBeevee "lives in the trees" (climbs telephone poles to do his work) and "jingles when he walks" and "has 12 extra hands" (referring to the repairman's tools). Since Andy and Barney have not met McBeevee and are unable to track him down, they chalk Opie's enthusiastic description to childhood imagination. That is, until one day Opie comes home with a quarter McBeevee had given him. Andy immediately suspects Opie stole the quarter and takes him to the woods to return it. McBeevee, in the meantime, has been called away to assist fellow workers at another site and has left by the time Andy and Opie arrive. The sheriff takes Opie home to punish him, but backs off (to Barney's chagrin) when he believes his son. In an important scene, Barney questions Andy, “so you believe there is a Mr. McBeevee?” “No Barney, I don’t, but I do believe in Opie,” responds Andy. At the end of the episode, Andy goes to the forest and, having parked next to a telephone pole, fumes aloud, "Mr. McBeevee!" McBeevee immediately shows up, and the two become quick friends.

Trusting is defined as “having a confident expectation of something; hope.” Sometimes it’s not easy trusting in our kids. When they fall short of a goal or fail to reach an objective, it’s easy to lose sight of the hope. It’s been said that “love is willing to be naive and is willing to risk being hurt.” Sometimes the thing our kids need the most is for us as parents to trust in them when they struggle to believe in themselves. When our teen plays a poor game of basketball and wants to quit that night, he needs us to remind them of how good he is. When our teen brings home a poor grade on that test and says they’re “dumb,” he needs us to remind him of how smart he is. When that boyfriend breaks up with your daughter and she’s convinced no guy will ever be interested, she needs us to remind her of how lovable she is. And when they’re confused about life, they need us to remind them of how much God loves them.

By the way, if your teen willfully lies, deal with the dishonesty sternly. But also step back and realize that sometimes teens twist the truth because they’re afraid of how we’ll handle the truth.

Andy trusted his son and not the circumstance. As Andy said, ”I guess these are the times when you have to have faith.” Love charges us as parents to trust in our teens, even when they or someone else does not. Pray for a heart that loves, even when all logic says to doubt.

by Joseph Staples ©

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Reese, part 2: Coming home

"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." –John 14:2

Reese is in the HOUSE! She got to leave the hospital. Around noon on Wednesday, the doctors all gave the OK to Mark and Elizabeth to get to bring Reese home. And what a homecoming it was!

For weeks, months really, the nursery and home have been being prepared. Since they found out Reese would be a girl a 4 months ago, everything has turned a beautiful pink. The home has been filled with baby toys, swings, and strollers. And I’m not even to the nursery yet! The nursery is filled with collages with Reese’s name on them, an awesome crib and an armoire filled with lots of baby clothes. It easily wins “nursery of the year.” The room had been carefully prepared for Reese’s arrival.

Someone else is preparing a special place for us. Better yet, someone else has already prepared an awesome place for us. Certainly, Heaven is a real place. We’re only passing through this world to ultimately go home to live for eternity with our loving Heavenly Father. Just imagine what that homecoming will be like as we pass from this life to the next.

The added blessing is that we can experience His blessing today before we enter Heaven. Through the Holy Spirit we can have “Heaven on earth” as we live in fellowship with our Lord. And of course, our loving Lord is preparing us to be ready for Heaven as we are on earth.

So, Reese is home and cozy in the loving arms of a mom and dad that love her dearly and grandparents that love her too. No doubt, one of God’s intentions in inventing the family was to be an illustration of His Fathership and care for His children and the security that comes with living in His house.

How secure is your home these days? Is it a safe, secure, growing place for your teens? Start by slowing down that crazy pace. Maybe have a meal at the dining room table (it’s that table with all the stuff on it), turn off the TV (yes, it has an "off" button) and, as a parent, let God use you as an instrument to provide His peace to His children. Make the changes necessary and your teens won't be the only ones experiencing a peaceful home- you will too.

Reese’s nursery is a wonderful, secure place for her to rest. Let your home be the same “Heaven on earth” for your family.

By Joseph Staples ©

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Loving Eddie's

“Love is patient, kind, not provoked, bears all things, endures all things...”- 1 Cor. 13

Who can forget Eddie from the movie Christmas vacation? We all laugh at his character- his outfits, his eating habits, and his Winnebago. We laugh because it probably reminds most of us of a family member- an uncle or a cousin- that matches Eddie’s personality. Okay, maybe not so drastic, but someone who doesn't exactly “fit.” And we wonder, how do we love that person?

In one of my favorite books and movie, “A River Runs Through It,” Rev. Maclean is reflecting back on his son Paul and says, “Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.”

Be patient with moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and cousins. Let them be who they are. They may never change and probably feel the same way about you! Be kind to them without expecting anything in return. Don't be easily provoked. We know the topics that are probably coming around the dinner table. Let them go. I love my dad very much. I can remember the freedom that came with me accepting my father as he was. I remember, as a teenager, being bothered by the “country” outfits he wore. But I too remember, as he aged, letting that go and simply loving the man. Now I miss him in those outfits.

Bear all things in love. Simply love. Agape love. Unconditional love. No strings attached. Have no expectations. No comparison. No keeping score. No competing. Truth is, we’re all “Eddie’s” to somebody.

Pray for an accepting, caring heart and we’ll be able to love the “Eddie’s.”

by Joseph Staples ©

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” - Rom. 5:8

I’ve read too many stories lately about kids being attacked by other kids. A recent study showed that 23% of elementary students reported they had been picked on in the last month. It is believed that nearly 100,000 students carry handguns to school. A recent survey showed 77% of high school students felt bullying was destructive in their schools. Emotional, verbal and physical abuse occur way too often in a typical school day and chances are your teenager is affected in some way.

I remember the summer after 6th grade I was playing in my backyard in Fort Worth with some friends and we planned a campout under the trampoline that night. We were putting sheets over the trampoline to make a fort, when none other than the “snooty” kid from down the street came over to play. He was just kind of mean to most kids, but he and I had got along okay. He stood there for a while and then asked if he could spend the night with us. Kind, sensitive, godly me said, “no” and went back to working on the fort. That kid left, went home and told his mom that we wouldn't let him spend the night. His mom called my mom and guess what? After a pretty tough lecture from my mom, he spent the night with us. I’m guessing it wasn’t much fun, but I think back to that incident and I think I was the one being the bully.

There should absolutely be no tolerance for kids that beat up kids, emotionally or verbally. School should be a place of protection and safety. But it is important, too, to look at the “whys” behind the perpetrators of abuse. Typically, they are kids that have been abused. They are kids that need to be loved and the abuse is their irrational attempt to be protected.

We need to teach our kids to report bullying and set their boundaries. But we also need to teach our kids to love. My mom taught me a good lesson that summer day. She taught me that it’s not okay to bully the bully. She taught me that rejecting the rejected only leads to more rejection. I ended up being pretty good friends with that kid, not best friends, but friends.

Teach your teen to set boundaries but teach your teen to love the unlovable. Of course, it’s difficult to teach what we don't practice, so pray for a heart that loves and respects the unlovable.

That, after all, was what God did for us. Through Christ, God chooses to love us. And because of His grace, we can spend the night with Him anytime!

by Joseph Staples ©

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010


“Love believes all things…” -1 Cor. 13

I know most have heard about the birth of our first grandchild, Reese Elizabeth, but you’ll just have to indulge me a bit more about this miracle. Reese was born at 4:44pm on Monday, April 19th, weighed 7 lbs, 2 oz. and was 19 1/2 inches long. She looks a lot like Elizabeth’s baby pictures when she was born. She is, being totally objective, the most perfect baby I have ever seen.

OK, truth is, I am not being totally objective. And I am unashamedly being non-objective. I’m being about as subjective as you can be! She is my granddaughter and she is perfect and beautiful. Everything I see in her eyes reinforces my 100% confidence that her world is perfect. Seriously, I know she’s not perfect, but her slate is clean and her future is bright.

I wonder when that changes? I wonder when we, as parents, lose that confidence-building vision for our kids? Is it that first dirty diaper? Is it that constant crying during an earache induced sleepless night? Is it the realization that our beautiful child is less than perfect? As they grow up and our angel becomes a person, our subjective, naïve view of our kids changes.

It’s then that we have to learn as parents to always believe the best in our kids. As they become teenagers, we need to choose love instead of indifference when our teens act anything but perfect (which of course, is usually doing or choosing contrary to how we would choose). It’s true of coaches and teachers too. Those coaches we respect the most are those that we sense believe in us no matter how well we play.

I remember my freshman year at Baylor was challenging academically. High school had been a breeze without much serious studying and I applied that same philosophy to my first semester of college. The result was a pretty pitiful report card. When I was home for Christmas break, the report card arrived in the mail (no email then). I chose to report the poor grades to my parents later that night, as they got ready for bed (I guess I figured they’d be too sleepy to be upset). After the announcement, I remember my dad casually saying, “Oh, too bad. Better study harder next semester. Hey, did the Rangers win tonight?” “Huh, I think so. Good night y’all.” And that was the end of the conversation. They never brought it up again. I did do better the next semester.

Bottom line: my parents continued to believe in me, even when I made a mistake. They continued to view me subjectively as a young man with potential. And that was and is the confidence I needed to move forward as a man.

Even though they will always have dirty diapers and earaches in some form or fashion, believe in your teenagers and pray for them. Let them know you’re always there for them, perfect or not.

Oh, and thank you again Lord for baby Reese!

by Joseph Staples ©

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Birth Day

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” - James 1:2

Today is not a birthday celebration, but an actual birth day celebration! I spent a great weekend in Branson with all the wonderful families at Shelterwood at our semi-annual Family Retreat, then jumped in the car, drove through Fayetteville to pick up Eric and we made the drive to Amarillo. We arrived last night.

Elizabeth, my daughter’s, due date for her first child was last Wednesday and the pregnancy has gone well, but now she is overdue, so today they’ll induce and her baby will enter the world soon. Mark and Elizabeth will be a mommy and daddy! We’re sitting in the waiting room at the hospital this morning waiting.

And a new life begins. As a grandpa, I selfishly pray her life is a life of peace and rest with no pain whatsoever. But is a prayer of ease and comfort really the best prayer for Reese? Is it the best prayer for anyone? I often catch myself wishing for a life that’s easy. Deep down, I attempt to control my world to produce the least amount of pain possible. I’m simply following the world’s lead- remotes so I don't have to get up, wireless so I don’t have to plug in, cell phones so I don't have to wait, ATM’s so I don't have to go inside. All these things are fine, but when comfort becomes my expectation for life, problems arise.

Truth is, a life fulfilled is not a life of comfort. Reese has been so comfortable the past 9 months. No pain. All comfort. Today begins a wonderful life for her. But it will be a life of trial, challenge and yes, growth. “If you’re ripe, you’ll rot; if you’re green, you’ll grow.” A life ripe and easy is a life that is stagnant. Growth is always a by-product of planting, tilling, pruning and harvest. We learn little when life is easy.

Yep. I’m changing my prayer for Reese to a prayer for growth. I’m not asking for ease, but I am asking for our comforting Lord to produce growth in her life and for Him to be with her every step of the way. You bet, I’m still going to spoil her with anything she wants! But I know God will provide for her every need far above any toy I can provide.

So, happy birth day Reese. Great job Elizabeth and Mark. But most of all, way to go God! You’ve created a beautiful child and we can't wait to see her soon!

By Joseph Staples ©

Saturday, April 17, 2010


“Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” -Gen. 25:28

It’s always interesting having siblings. The origin of the word “sibling” is closely related to a German word Sippe that means “kindred.” But brothers and sisters can be anything but kindred when there is difficulty in the family. Wise parents recognize the potential for conflict and love their children equally.

Deep inside we all vie for the attention and approval of our parents. When that approval is questioned or difficult, there can be pretty intense competition in the family for their blessing. Sibling rivalry is a real deal and its intensity needs to be addressed if it flares up too much.

What is not real is birth order predispositions. There has never been a definitive study to support any conclusions regarding birth order. There are authoritarian youngest kids and oldest children that are more reserved.

I grew up with 3 older brothers. I love them very much. My oldest brother, Pelham, is 10 years older than I am. He was the one who took care of me. He was the one who always chose me for his team when the 4 brothers played basketball. If my other brothers, Mark or Bob, messed with me, he was the one who stepped in and stood up for me. I loved having him around. The 4 of us are similar in some ways- driven, focused, intense, lovers of history and a bit headstrong, but we are different too, with unique talents and gifting. I admire and appreciate Pel, Marc and Bob so much.

I credit my mom and dad for doing a great job as parents. Mostly, they get credit for navigating 4 boys safely through the teenage years. They helped avoid rivalry between the brothers by appreciating all of our unique accomplishments and not playing “favorites.” They attended our activities with equal enthusiasm, whether we won or lost. They focused on the unique potential in each one of us.

How are you doing with your sons and daughters? Playing favorites is natural, just ask Rebekah who played favorites with Jacob and ruined his life. All of our kids are a gift from God. Sure, your temperament may click naturally with a particular son or daughter, but pray for the capacity to love your kids without partiality. Ask the Lord to give you the agape love that He has for His children- a graceful love that blesses without conditions.

I think you’ll find that as you “shower” your kids equally with love, you’ll help produce brothers and sisters that love and appreciate each other.

By Joseph Staples ©

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Eaglets

“Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles” -Isaiah 40:31

Eaglets are helpless. Like most newborn’s, they are vulnerable and awkward. They desperately need their mothers and experts say the mothers are fully committed to the early welfare of their young.

The young eaglets lay in the nest for a long time. As they grow and mature, the mother defends them from any intruders that might seek to harm the young.

But as time passes, the eaglets outgrow the nest and the mama eagle knows it’s time for them to go. I’m sure the eaglets remain cozy in that nest, their every need provided by mom, but even an eagle knows that it’s important for the young eagles to learn to provide for themselves. That’s when it’s time for the eaglets to learn to fly and a peculiar process begins.

That same loving, caring mama eagle begins to make life difficult for the young eaglets. Experts say the eagle stirs up the nest, forcing the eaglets to leave, but does not abandon the young. If they have difficulty, the mother bird swoops below them and lifts them back to safety. But still, research shows that nearly 40% of eaglets don't survive their first flight. Predators and height are there enemies. But most do survive and they learn to live on their own.

My precious daughter Elizabeth is in her last few days of pregnancy. She is due any day now. Talking to her last night, we both decided that baby Reese (she’s having a girl) is cozy inside of Elizabeth. All, I mean all, of her needs are provided. She’s laying there on her water bed, feet propped up and taking in every meal through a straw.

But life isn’t lived to it’s fullest in a nest or a womb. Though it’s easy, it’s not best. Eagles are meant to soar and fly and babies are meant to grow and learn. Sure, it’s risky, but the rewards are awesome.

As a parent, don't forget to let go. Don't forget to “stir that nest” a bit and encourage your teen to risk. It’s through that very process that teenagers take responsibility for their own lives and their own faith and learn to fly on their own.

By Joseph Staples ©

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Foundation work

“...he dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock.” –Luke 6:48

Foundation work is boring. It’s usually made up of unattractive massive rock and soil laid in a form and involves heavier, harder work. It usually costs more than other construction. But, as any architect or engineer would testify, good foundation work is absolutely necessary for building stability.

Recently, at Shelterwood, a section of our parking area needed repair. The asphalt company informed me that we needed more than just a fresh layer of asphalt. We needed the foundation repaired. A fresh top layer of asphalt would have been simpler, quicker, and cheaper, but would not have solved the problem. For a while it might have looked good, but eventually the area would have deteriorated again, because the problem went deeper. The area needed a new foundation. Of course, I sighed and consented to the foundation work. It was really our only choice.

As a parent, sometimes we have to recognize that problems with our teen go deeper. Not every problem involves deep foundation work, but if the problem is recurring and destructive, there may be wisdom in inspecting the foundation. Yes, the work is difficult, involves costs and is somewhat hidden. But to expect teenagers to move on without necessary foundation work often leads to difficulty later.

In Luke 6:47-49, Jesus reminds us of the importance of a strong foundation. As you step up to inspect your teen’s foundation, look for signs of foundation problems- low self-image, a wavering faith, poor grades, family conflict, and isolation. Talk it through with them. Help them sort through the issues. If the foundation work is substantial, link them up with a good counselor or competent youth worker. If issues escalate, sometimes it’s best to send them to foundation specialist like Shelterwood.

Know that good, solid foundation work always makes a difference. Foundations are hidden, so it can be difficult to see results, but helping your teen with inside issues always helps your teen build the foundation necessary to carry the burdens of life.

By Joey Staples ©

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What I Am

“What a man thinks within himself, therefore he is” –Proverbs 23:7

Like most of America, I watched golf this weekend. The Master’s is such a fun event. The beauty of the Azaleas and the high level of golf make for a spectacular tournament.

This year was especially intriguing since the world’s #1 golfer, Tiger Woods, was making his return to golf after his confession of infidelity to his wife. Plenty of stones have been thrown his way and since Joey Staples is not without sin, I’m not joining the crowd. Tiger will be held accountable for his life before His Creator. So will we.

But I couldn't help but notice the irony of the Tiger mess compared to the celebration of Phil Michelson, the Master’s champion. I know Phil is far from perfect and has made his own mistakes, but after the victory, the hugs and tears for his wife Amy and his kids moved me. I read he has been focused on his wife and mother and their battles with cancer. He has not had a great golf year, but it all came together on Sunday afternoon. He dedicated the win to his family.

For me, the Sunday celebration was not about golf. By the way, I’m a terrible golfer. I at least learned how to hit the ball straight so I could go out and play with my son, who is an excellent player. But I do appreciate the skill these men on the PGA tour possess. But Sunday, I was appreciating the man, not the golf.

We all work hard to be the best at what we do. But life isn't really about being the best at what we do, but being the best at who we are. My dad had a plaque that hung in our hallway that read something like this, “it’s not what he has nor even what he does which directly expresses the worth of a man, but what he is.”

Sunday Phil was a man of integrity, loving his wife and dedicating his victory to his family. Truth is, I am my best when my day is dedicated to being who I am first. I have worth because my loving Father says I do. And because I have His “good housekeeping stamp of approval,” I am confidant in who I am. Too often I forget who I am. I am a Christ follower, I am a husband, I am a dad and I am a minister.

What are you? I know you have stuff and I know you’ve done a lot, but what are you? Take some time to refocus and remember what you are. Then go and do. Be the best parent you can be. Be the best spouse you can. Let that be what you are.©

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making Decisions

Sometimes we all make poor decisions. I remember hearing Alabama football coach Bear Bryant after a loss. When asked about the game losing interception his quarterback threw, Bryant commented, “He’s a good boy, he just made a poor decision.”

When I was in 7th grade, Ricky Carson, one of my best friends, asked me to spend the night. His family had just moved into a new house. Of course I said, “yes.” We played pool and listened to music on our 8 tracks – remember? Then we got bored. By the way, there is nothing more dangerous than a bored teenager. Ricky mentioned something new and cool that he had in his bathroom- a fan. Yes, a fan in the ceiling. That was a new thing in the 70’s. Then I saw the pile of smoke bombs in his bedroom. For reasons not known to this day, we decided (actually I decided) to test the fan by lighting a smoke bomb in the bathroom. Surely the fan would suck all the smoke right out of the bathroom. Disaster. The fan did it's best but the entire house filled with smoke. His mom hurried up the stairs and was furious. To this day, it is in the top 10 list of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. Dumb.

Teenagers sometimes make poor decisions too. It’s all a part of being an adolescent, learning to factor in the right variables to make wise, mature decisions. But it’s trial and error. When your teen gets that traffic ticket or fails that assignment he forgot to do at school, we as parents, are frustrated. But it’s important that parents take a deep breath and pray before the post-smoke bomb conversation. More times than not, no additional guilt is needed. Though they may not show it, most teens don't like making mistakes either. Other times they need our strong discipline: being grounded or taking the car keys away produces the healthy guilt they need to move on and avoid future mistakes.

Mostly, what teens need from parents is to simply be there for them. Sure, we get frustrated because often parents pay the price (literally) for the mistakes too. They need our correction, but mostly they need our encouragement.

Point out a better choice in their decision-making next time, then drop it. Life is all about learning from our mistakes. Let God use you in your teen’s life to learn and grow.

Remember, the smoke will eventually clear from the mistake and a wiser, more confident teen will emerge.©

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Aerator

It’s springtime and I’ve been working in the yard a lot lately. I had my first experience with a rented aerator a few weeks ago. My back is still sore because the big machine was heavy. I mean really heavy! An aerator looks like a lawnmower but it breaks up the soil in a yard. It is self-propelled and my version had 6 wheels with 12 spikes on teach wheel. As it rotates through the yard, it leaves hundreds of 2 inch holes, increasing oxygen and water consumption in the soil.

I can already tell the difference. The grass is taller, greener and thicker. But the day after I aerated, the yard looked terrible. There were hundreds of holes in the yard, the grass was messed up and there were lots of dirt “plugs” all over the place. But it’s exactly what the yard needed. The soil was hard and compacted and needed to be broken.

Sometimes our kids need an aerator. Sometimes they need “tough love.” Other times they need a hug. Only a loving, sensitive parent can apply just the right amount of pressure needed to produce a taller, greener child. The experts say we only need to aerate a yard every few years. Be careful not to be too hard, too often. “A loving father disciplines the child he loves” (Prov. 13:24). Sometimes our kids need us to step up and be firm in a situation. Sometimes they test us to see if we love them enough to be tough. Sometimes we need to crank up the aerator and apply it to the life of our teen. In love, we need to evaluate, discern and correct.

When I was a teenager in the 70’s, one day I determined that I needed “glass packs” for my ’69 Camero. They made the car sound “cool” when it accelerated. Dumb now, as I think back, but something I “needed” then. I asked my Dad if I could have them for my birthday and he said “no.” I begged, “But this would be for my birthday present Dad.” He replied firmly, “No, they are expensive and you don't need them. If you want them, you’ll have to pay for them.” I was angry as I walked away. He knew I couldn't work with school and sports taking up all my time. I never got the glass packs. But my father ran the aerator over me that day and exposed a selfish, wanting heart that needed to be tempered. My anger blended into a healthy respect and love for my dad who was willing to withhold from me what I even knew I didn't need.

It’s not easy being the right parent for the right situation. But with God’s help and discernment, we’ll be used as His instruments to raise healthy kids. Howard Hendrix said, “God loves much whom He breaks much.” Though painful in the process, loving correction produces a soft, teachable child.

Let God use you to water your teen with encouragement, to fertilize your teen with confidence and to aerate your teen with correction.

Keeping up a yard is hard work, but in the end, come springtime, it’s beautiful.©

Sunday, April 11, 2010


OK, this article is only for control freak parents. Take this brief (and obviously unscientific) “yes or no” quiz to determine your P.C.Q. (parenting control quotient):

1. You not only cut up your teen’s steak for them, but you number it as well.
2. You throw a temper tantrum when any school activity time is changed.
3. You check your teen’s Facebook page over 100 times daily.
4. You sit on the couch and heckle that sloppy Martha Stewart Show.
5. You promise you wouldn’t correct your teen’s breathing if they weren’t doing it all wrong.
6. You get upset when your teen scores less than 100% on the assignment you did for him.
7. You get more technical fouls that any coach or player and you’re not even on the team.

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, read on. If you answered “no” to all of them, then call me. I need your advice!

The test is obviously a joke, but I’m more and more convinced that we all have control issues. I think it’s inherent in each of us to want to want the upper hand in every situation. Pride is alive and well in each of us and we naturally bring that issue into our parenting. Some are more overt and others are more covert, but we all want our kids to succeed and we’re inclined to help produce that result when we can.

Here’s the simple problem: we are not God, but we attempt to calculate it all out as though we were. We fill the blackboard with every possible scenario under the guise that we’ve got it predicted and controlled, but we’re not even close.

Our loving God chuckles as he continues on his course in the life of our children. He loves our kids so much that he engineers circumstances to produce humility and brokenness in their lives. Why? God wants them to hopefully acknowledge who He is and rest in His peace. It’s the ultimate tough love and that can't be predicted in a formula on a blackboard, no matter how much we try to control the environment around us.

So, put down that calculator and teach your kids how to cut their own steak. Relax and let them fail and succeed. Remember, you’re preparing them for life and they’re prepared best when they’re submitting to the ultimate controller: the loving God of Eternity!©

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bearing Burdens

As parents, it’s challenging to know when to step in to our teens’ lives and when to stay out. Too often, we're inclined to step into our teen’s episodes when we really should let them handle it.

Case in point: athletics. It’s Monday after practice and our freshman teen announces at dinner that, “at practice today, I started at shortstop.” Inwardly, pride builds as the picture of our son starting for the St. Louis Cardinals grows and the smile on our face expands. But that’s on the inside. Outwardly, we encourage him with a “great job son. You have a game on Friday, right”? Back to that secret conversation with ourselves, “oh my gosh…he’ll get that scholarship to college (that I never got) and then that signing bonus money with the Cardinals! This is great!” Outwardly, “well, just remember to have fun.” Inwardly, “yeah, have fun but you better catch every ball that comes your way. There may be scouts there!”

Now fast forward to the baseball game. Your son has spent the entire game sitting on the bench and you are furious. By the end of the game, he hasn't played one inning and you’re determined to call the coach the next day to find out why he “benched” your professionally talented son.
At home later you gently but sternly quiz your son, “what happened- why didn't you play?” “I don't know,” your son replies, “maybe cause the starting shortstop got well.” You asked, “so he was sick earlier in the week?” “Well, yeah…I only started ‘cause he was gone. But that’s OK- he’s better than I am.”

Your heart softens and you realize again that it’s his life, not yours. You realize that these are his “loads to bear.” If he’s to grow up and be able to handle life, then he’ll need to learn to handle life now. Paul reminds the Galatian church to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). That word “burden” is the word bare, meaning “very heavy load.” Two verses later, Paul reminds that same church to “let each one bear his own burden.” Does Paul contradict himself? No. That word for “burden” is phorton, meaning “small load.” In other words, we help with heavy loads, but we pass on the small loads. We don't need to call coaches. We need to let our teens handle their own small issues.

But that doesn't mean we do nothing! We pray, we trust, we encourage and we are there to consult. And though we’d gladly bear their burden for them, we let them learn and grow.

Yes, help your teen through the tough times, but let them experience the trial- it’s the only way they will learn to fly on their own.©

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Finish Line

Our son Eric is a senior at the University of Arkansas. His four years of college have gone by quickly and he has done so well in his time there, not just in academics, but in yielding to God’s plan in his life. There have been some tough times relationally and spiritually, but he has never shied away from his commitment to finish God’s course for his life. We are so proud of him.

Let me tell you about another course he finished a few years ago. Flash back to his senior year of high school. It’s the Missouri State Cross Country Championships in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Eric was feeling great when the race started. Half way through the 3.1 mile race he was in 20th place (the top 25 medal). With 500 yards to go he was in 21st place. [in the pic, the runner in front]. As he rounded the corner to the finish line, only 100 yards to the finish, his body simply decided to shut down. We're not sure why, cause he's never had a problem with fatigue. With only 50 yards to go, his legs began to shake and then he collapsed. He got up, walked a few steps, then went down. We wanted to go to him so badly, but he would have been disqualified. It's funny, but at that moment he became our 5 year old again- our little boy that needed our help. But this was a burden he alone had to bear. He finally made his way to the end and literally crawled over the finish line. He finished 50th or something. Then, we joined him as he was carried to the medical tent. He was in the pre-stages of shock. He wasn't coherent, his breathing was erratic and his heart rate was high. They gave him oxygen and waited. It was a scary time for Jeanie and me and he was so cold. He wasn't responding to anyone talking to him, but he kept whispering,"thank you Jesus. Thank you Lord" over and over. God was watching over him. Jeanie and I were both secretly hoping this wasn't him getting ready to be with Jesus! The doctors were so close to taking him to the hospital, but 30 minutes or so later, after giving him oxygen, he finally looked over and had life in his eyes! He was back. A little later, he began to drink and we finally left the tent. It was the gutsiest performance I'd ever seen. He was determined to "finish the course" and I'll never forget it. He didn't win a medal, but he won the respect of every one that was watching. Back in Branson later, we spent the day talking about it. We may never know why his body chose to quit with just a few yards to go, but God had a bigger purpose. He did all he could do and I'm so proud of him.

After my father died, I was looking through his desk, and found a card with this quote by Theodore Roosevelt,"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena- his face is marred by dust and sweat and blood....who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at best, if he wins, knows the thrill of high achievement-and if he fails at least fails while daring greatly- so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Eric didn't medal but he did "dare greatly". Like he said, "I gave it all for the Lord. The results were up to Him".

I wonder what God is challenging you to “dare greatly” in today? As a parent or friend, the challenge to love is always a tough course. So is doing my best at work or in school.

Paul wrote, “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” [2Tim. 4:7] . God designs the courses we’re all called to run. It’s tough to finish a course, but He promises to be with us and strengthen us to the finish line.

May we all finish our God-given course to it's fullest!©

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Game Plan

Basketball! It’s truly been March Madness the past few weeks! My bracket busted early on and I had no team picked for the final four. Pretty bad. It seems like I always pick poorly but it’s still fun. Though not as popular as the NCAA’s, the NAIA Championships were right here in Branson this year at the College of the Ozarks. The #15 seed Saint Francis of Indiana won the Championship as a huge underdog.

A few days after the tournament concluded, I was in the locker room getting ready for a workout when I noticed the blackboard that had been used in the Saint Francis locker room during the game. It had some basketball play drawn on it and a simple phrase written at the top, “National Champs!” I took a picture of the board on my iPhone.

I thought about it later. That team probably sat there at halftime, in the heat of the competition, and the coach probably gave them the “you can do it” speech. He then wrote out a dream on the board. Of course, he didn't just leave them hanging- he followed up the dream with a plan. He shared with them a strategy. The team bought into the dream and the plan and the dream became a reality. Now they are the Champions!

I wonder what your dream is for your family? Proverbs 29:18 reads, “where there is no vision, the people perish.” What an awesome gift we are handed when God blesses us with our spouses and children. We desire success and prosperity for our families but sometimes we fail to set prayerful, realistic goals for where we’re headed. Much like a budget, it’s freeing; not constraining, when we have a plan.

I wonder what being “National Champs” looks like for your family? It’s not about winning in sports. If anything, America’s families are too consumed with athletics (but I’ll address that issue another day). It’s about goals to build strong relationships, no matter the ages of your kids. Make the goals a little tough. Even if you fall short, you’ll be stronger because of the plan.

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice asked the Cheshire Cat to help her find the way. “Well, that depends on where you want to get to,” says the Cat. Alice replies, “Oh, it really doesn’t matter.” The Cat responds, “then it really doesn't matter which way you go.”

Decide where your family is going and write that goal on the family blackboard! Take some time to write out goals for your family: spiritual goals, financial goals, relational goals, goals for any area that will help your family win that Championship trophy…

…a family that loves one another and yields to God’s plan.©

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Golden nuggets

Professional counselors get paid fairly well to simply sit and listen. A few head nods and “yes” comments and the hour is up. And you know what? People love it! As clients often say, “my husband never listens to me” or “I wish my parents would listen to me.” People need someone to listen to them.

Listening is much more than just not talking. As a matter of fact, listening requires more effort than talking. James 1:19 reads, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Most of us are so quick to speak (we think we have the answers), very slow to listen (it can seem like a waste of time) and consequently, we anger easily. Like someone said, “it’s no coincidence that God gave us two ears and one mouth.”

Show your teenager you love them by listening. Give them eye contact, don't interrupt, and let them finish their thoughts. You probably have the correct answer to their problem, especially if it’s a younger member of the family. After all, you’ve already lived through most of the issues before. But remember, the gold nugget isn't in the answer. The nugget lies in the process of the conversation. It's the process that conveys our love for the person we’re with.

In our work at Shelterwood, we’re constantly reminding ourselves to listen. Just sit and listen. Yes, there’s a time for answers. But not without listening first. Research supports that most of us save the significant issues in our conversations for the end of the interaction. It’s as though we’re waiting to see if the other person is willing to wait for the nugget before we give away our innermost fears, doubts and questions. And don' freak out if you hear some pretty heavy stuff. Remember, adolescence is “figure it out” time. Issues about faith, sexuality, and relationships are all normal struggle areas. Better to discuss it with you than get the answers from the media.

So, pray before every conversation with your teenager. “Lord, give me the strength and patience to be a good listener. Help me to be less concerned with the solution and more focused on the relationship.”

Then, hopefully, we’ll be the recipients of the greatest prize of all: the golden nugget of a vital relationship with our teenagers.©

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Birth pangs

We are so excited! In a week or so, we’ll welcome Reese Elizabeth into our lives. She will be our first grandchild. Elizabeth and Mark live in Amarillo, Texas and we’ll be wearing out Interstate 40 between Branson and the Big A to spend time with our precious Reese. We are so proud of Elizabeth and Mark. They will be great parents and we’re excited to be grandparents.

In case Reese decides to come early, our car is filled with gas and our bags are packed. We’re ready to go whenever Reese is ready to come. Every phone call from Elizabeth is about the details of the doctor’s appointments and all the “what if’s.” Elizabeth is already having “birth pangs” and her contractions are happening every few days. By the way, a “birth pang” is defined as “one of the repetitive pains occurring before and during childbirth.”

Jesus talked about birth pangs with the disciples on the Mount of Olives. The disciples figured Jesus would set up His earthly kingdom at any time. Mark records Jesus’ words in Mark 13:8, “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”©

Today is Easter and marks the end of Jesus’ first coming. But He’s coming again. There is a “delivery” coming when Jesus will set up His earthly Kingdom here on planet earth. Tons of scripture talk about what’s coming and of course, the book of Revelation gives us some details. We don't know when He’s coming, but we do know He is coming. As sure as Reese will be delivered in a few days, Jesus will return again to set up His Kingdom on planet Earth. Jesus’ words remind us to be ready. They remind us to have our bags packed and to be excited about His return. Paul calls that “the hope of His coming.”

So get excited! Live like Jesus could return tomorrow. Set your sights on things above. The birth pangs signal the return of our wonderful Savior and one thing is for sure- every day we’re one day closer to being with Him forever!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Trench warfare

A few of my buddies and I jumped in a van a few days ago and drove to Denver to surprise our mentor and friend, Rich Beach. He’s been battling cancer for over 15 years and we just wanted to spend some time encouraging and praying for him.

We left Branson thinking we would leave him with some gifts, hugs and prayers. Though we went to give him a blessing, we were the ones who were blessed.

As always, the time with Rich reminded us of what true discipleship is all about. Discipleship is not in a book, a lesson series, or a weekend retreat. True discipleship is in the trenches. It’s the life-on-life touch. It’s sometimes messy and unorganized. It’s a friend that needs you to be with them for an afternoon when your afternoon is reserved for you. It’s one step back and two steps forward. It’s usually inconvenient, but it’s real. It’s the choice to forgive and believe in a friend when everyone else has chosen to turn away. That’s what Rich taught us. He loved us when we were pretty unlovable. That’s the example he has lived out for us over the years.

It’s the genuine version of discipleship. It’s the Jesus method of discipleship. It’s the only valid and true method of discipleship. Mark 3:14 reads, “Jesus chose the 12 that He might be with them.” Jesus poured Himself into these 12 men (and many more). Simply put, He loved them by being with them. He went into their dirty, messy trench where they were and He met them there. He imparted to them what the Father had imparted to Him.

That’s what we’re charged to do with our friends, our enemies and our families. We’re to love and build and encourage. On the days when we feel like being untouchable, we make the choice to reach out and touch. This Easter season we’re reminded that God chose to touch us through His grace via His crucified and risen Son.

The visit with Rich and the traveling with my friends Bruce, Ward, Terry and Kris opened my eyes again to something. I realized again that when I reach out to touch, I am the one touched by the Lord. And when I sense His presence, life is always awesome!

Thank you Rich for being our hero.©

Friday, April 2, 2010

Be real with them

I often hear teenagers say, “Hey, I’m not about to open up to my parents. They’ve never opened up to me!” Most teenagers feel their parents are stoic, perfect, unapproachable people who think they aren't “required” to be real and honest. Most parents reserve their “realness” for a heavy discussion in the master bedroom or time out with the buddies. It’s important for our kids to see vulnerability, humility and real feelings from us. They will model what they see in you.

But, there is a fine line. It doesn't mean your kids need to be in on the details of you marriage struggles or business problems. As parents, we don't need to unload emotional difficulties on them they aren’t mature enough to handle. But remember, teenagers tend to imitate the vulnerability they observe in their parents. Years ago we called it a “generation gap.” What fills the gap is a parents’ willingness to share their real life feelings.

Let’s say your son shares over dinner about his disappointment over not starting on the basketball team. It’s solid gold when you share a story from your teenage years about a disappointing experience. We're respected more when our kids see and hear about our difficulties and imperfections. Don’t let pride rule- they already know you aren't perfect.

Humble yourself and let your kids know about the real you. It will help them navigate their lives more than you know!©