Dinner Table Game: Good Choice, Bad Choice

yesterday i talked about how we’re trying to make dinner a meaningful point of connection for our family. with little kids that leak everywhere and spill almost everything, it’s easy to find our focus during the entire meal zeroed in on keeping every kid in their seat and every piece of food heading in the right direction.
so how do we make it meaningful?
here’s something we’ve been trying lately that’s been working for us:
kids love games. so we made one up.
(really, it’s just 2 questions that we all ask each other… but since we called it a game, that’s what adelina thinks it is.)
the rules of this “game” are quite simple:
  1. everyone has to answer.
  2. and everyone has to be honest.

when it’s your turn, you have to share one BAD choice you made that day, and then you have to share one GOOD choice you made that day.

 

shanna has been really great about helping our kids focus on choices as either good or bad. we’ve been trying to avoid referring to people and ourselves as good or bad (the theological component of that will come later when they’re older), but rather, as people who either made a good choice or a bad choice, at a point in time.
on top of that, it’s important for our kids to see that we as parents blow it too from time to time. every day actually. and there is something powerful in the faith development of children and teens when they know they’re being led by people who are real and transparent about their shortcomings.

let’s face it… we all know they know we’re not perfect. and us telling them isn’t giving them license to do it, if it’s framed and explained in the right way.

these 2 simple questions have given us many great in-roads to celebrating and praising good behavior, as well as conversations (without being in the heat of the moment) where we can explain why certain behaviors are bad and not something we want to continue. some nights, apologies are given and moods are turned completely around.
what do you do around your table to make the conversation meaningful? i’d love to hear what’s working for you in the comments!
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Adelina’s Smile

here’s a picture shanna snagged of adelina yesterday. i love her smile soooooooooo much!

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The Girl That Never Stopped Smiling

we were out doing some shopping a few weeks ago, and while shanna tried on a MILLION different things, i grabbed this picture of my daughter adelina with a new friend she just met.
the two of them got along so well with each other.
no fights.
no arguments.
no complaining.

something about this girl was remarkable.  she NEVER stopped smiling.  

even after hanging out together for about 45 minutes, and not once being offered adi’s balloon, the girl still showed signs of admiration and friendship.
without fail.

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some days i wish my relationships with others could be like this.
and then i think about it a little deeper.
i tell the teens this often: when God made us, he COULD have made us like this little girl. he could have crafted us with a plasic-never-changing-never-frowning smile.  no matter what he did to us, we would never be disappointed. or like my favorite movie, he could have made us with a pull-string that always repeats “you’re my favorite deputy” everytime it’s released. God could have programmed us to ONLY give him love and admiration, like robots with all the circuits lined up properly.

but he wanted something more authentic.

and with that pivotal want comes the potential for evil, and disease, and war, and hatred, and sickness, and STD’s, and car accidents, and cancer, and drunk driving, and murder, and poverty, and sex-trafficking, and pestilence, and thorns on rose bushes.

in God’s mind, this whole authentic thing must have been pretty important.

to have one of his created humans walk up to him, and out of the blue – volitionally – with no sense of obligation – and while being surrounded by so many other temptations and opportunities and things to chase – to be able to say “i love you” and mean it… to God… that was worth it all.
he doesn’t want our fake allegiance.  with all the other options available to us, there’s a God out there who’s craving your life’s greatest commitment.
i don’t know where you’re at… but i can tell you from my own experience: it’s worth it!

Feed My Starving Children Infographic

i love my church.  we’re passionate about making the truth of Jesus relevant and understandable to people far from God, and every day we’re seeking new ways to meet the needs of people both here in the states, and around the world.

this past weekend we did an event with the good folks at feed my starving children. you can see some pictures of the event over at lakeshore’s facebook page. even adelina participated!

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shanna made this infographic to highlight some of the exciting things. check it out!

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Randomness

been a LONG time since i’ve had both the time AND the desire to blog simultaneously (you know you’re getting behind when this guy is posting more than you). i don’t know about you, but summer tends to throw everything “normal” in the routine off the wagon.  that’s exactly what’s happened for me over the last few months. in an attempt to get back into the swing of it all, here’s some random things i’ve been up to and what i’m thinking…

1. i started taking judo back in june.  i’ve been growing weary of spending all my time inside the church walls with other christians, and so when an unchristian friend of mine started inviting me to do judo with him, i sensed God’s call to adjust my schedule and make time for it. been the best thing ever, and i’m thankful for the open doors of relationship it’s opening up. plus, some days it just feels really cool throwing somebody over your shoulder. 

2. had some new revelations on student leadership. i’m not sure they’re really new, actually, but i’m starting to view it all differently. for years i’ve told our teens that we have this team, that team, this opportunity to serve, this place to get involved, etc. etc. and encouraged them to sign up.  but i’ve been trying to look at recruiting differently these days. we have a ton of slots to be filled by students in our ministry, but i’m finding myself now going after more of the individual students that i see who are ALREADY serving in some capacity, especially if it’s not a “formal role” we’ve already identified. student leaders are servants. period. i’m not looking for the cute, fun, and popular kids who can influence the masses. i’m just looking for humble servants who don’t mind setting up chairs and serving behind the scenes.

3. adelina is so stinkin cute it drives me bonkers. i love spending time with her. i love being her daddy. i love taking her for walks, making sand castles with her, and seeing her excitement when i ask her to help me take the dog out. this little girl has brought more joy to shanna and i than i could possibly imagine. and apparently she already is trying to get my money!

4. thinking a lot about “sticky faith”. it’s growing into a buzzword in student ministry circles, and finally i gave in and started reading the book. so so good.  sticky faith is all about making practical and tangible tweaks to our student ministries so that our teens are more likely to graduate with a faith that sticks after high school. we’ve got a lot of things we’re going to continue rolling out to make our ministry more “sticky” in the months and years to come, but one that gets me so excited is something we just started last month.  now every other week, our teens will be joining the adult worship service on sundays for the praise & worship part of the service, and each time the goal is to have a few teens on stage leading worship right alongside the adults. there’s definitely some unique challenges to it, but i think the wins are going to far outweigh the work. i’m so thankful to serve in a church that values teenagers as much as lakeshore!

5. there’s nothing like beach volleyball. one of my favorite moments this summer was an evening when we sent a text out to our teens, told them to meet us at cheeburger cheeburger for dinner, and then walked over to the beach afterwards for some volleyball. we didn’t know it was gonna happen, but there was a band playing some music and a huge crowd. with the sunsetting at just the right time, the atmosphere couldn’t have been more perfect. and it was so cool spending some time getting to know a kid who had just visited our church for the first time a few days before!

 

Adelina Turns 1 Today

it’s amazing how fast the last 12 months have gone, and we’re so grateful for the fantastic people in our world who have shared it with us! happy birthday, adelina!

Book Giveaway: What Matters Most

i have thoroughly enjoyed the slower pace over the last couple weeks. they say that this time of year (especially this week between christmas and new year’s) is either a great time to get stuff done in the office, or a great time to be away from the office. while in years past i would often try to get ahead and spend the quiet hours at work this week, cranking plans and strategies out due to the absence of distractions, i chose this year to… not. and i’m so thankful for the supportive leadership over me to give me this flexibility. i’ve truly enjoyed the extra time off this holiday to spend with my wife, daughter, and our family members. they truly do matter most to me when it’s all said and done.

Adelina Christmas Eve

Adelina Christmas Morning

there have been many mentors and friends who have spoken into my life to help me battle my workaholic tendencies, and i’m so grateful for them. one mentor-from-a-distance has been doug fields, specifically his book what matters most. i read it a few years ago and this simple book revolutionized the way i saw relationships and empowered me to say “no” to good things more frequently in order to be able to say “yes” to great things.

i recently won a copy of the book from the youth ministry garage, and figured i’d give it away. just leave a comment with a funny or serious idea you came across that helped you connect more with those in your life that matter most. i’ll select one at random and send you the book!

When Your Relationship With Your Neighbors Is Less Than Great

a few weeks ago, we received an anonymous note in our mailbox. though it was anonymous, it *seems* pretty obvious who wrote it, because of the way the wind blows.

to give you an idea of how many leaves we were actually talking about, here’s a picture that shanna took with the baby surrounded by them. ironically, every single one of the leaves comes from one of our other neighbor’s trees!

to be very honest, there were many ugly thoughts rolling through my brain when i first saw the note. and i quickly learned that i could respond in 1 of 2 ways:

1. i could respond by building the wall between us stronger. like buying a leaf blower and blowing them all off my yard and onto his. or by installing a fence between our yards. or by “f***ing it” and doing nothing, like another neighbor told me to do.

2. or i could respond by building a bridge. it would require some work, time, and a good dose of humility. but the good thing is, because of Christ’s influence in my life, this was actually a doable option.

so… after stewing on it for a few days, i raked all the leaves up, mulched up the leftover ones, and then raked them a second time (they filled the yard back up as soon as i was done). and as i was raking and thinking about it all, it saddened me that we don’t have a better relationship with this one neighbor… or at least a good enough one that he could’ve felt comfortable talking to us face to face about it.

so we did some baking. we made some cookies and took them over with a note apologizing for the inconvenience. i tried to let him know our door is open anytime an issue arises in the future. and the hope is that a bridge has been built, or at least begun.

there are so many examples in life and ministry, just like this, where we’re given opportunity to respond.  and they’re usually small, mundane moments that don’t get a lot of attention. but it’s in those moments where our leadership money is earned.

i don’t want to just “settle” for what is around me. i want to lead the change and create a new and better reality.

Shanna Is Now Lakeshore’s Graphic Designer

i’m very proud of my wife shanna and excited to announce that she’s just a few weeks into her new job as lakeshore‘s graphic designer!  to meet the growing graphic demands on both the print and web side of things, the church just created the part time position (about 10 hours/week), and we’re stoked.  most of my teaching series and promo pieces for the last 6 years have been worked up by her, but it’s super cool that the rest of the church will now be able to tap into her talent as well!

this isn't a picture of her. it's some random person on google. and the back of shanna's head is way prettier, btw. 🙂

the really cool part about it all is that the position is setup so most of the 10 hours are spent working from home. right now we have it set up that every morning from 7-9am i get to spend with adelina while shanna works. i’m loving the time with her. we chase the dog around the house, perform random science experiments together (mixing green beans w/ sweet potatoes), and make a ton of noise. AND we watch good morning america! on evenings when we’re home together, wheel of fortune is on too, which makes me feel like an old man.

anyways – way to go shanna!!!

Adelina Dresses Up Like A Football For Halloween