Helping Families by Tearing Down Walls

Faith Breakthroughs

Talking to Kids About Tragedy

December 15, 2015

 


Newton, Connecticut. Boston, Massachusetts.  West, Texas.  Moore, Oklahoma. Recent tragedies have  broken our hearts as so many others before, but some of these have been different. They invaded the lives of young children – little ones that looked a lot like our little ones. And because there were children involved, our kids are going to be asking a lot of questions in the next few days.

As parents, one of our primary roles is to be constantly teaching. When it comes to “Life 101,” class is always in session. This doesn’t change in the midst of tragedy, as awkward as the role may be. Most kids are asking the same innocent question that we all ask – “Why?” – and our ability to respond correctly can help turn a terrible situation into an opportunity to talk about some tough-but-necessary topics.

As a father of three and a pastor and author who has dedicated two decades to helping parents, I am still left wanting for the right words to say in such an awful situation. Still, I’ve learned a few things along the way, and hopefully these ideas will help you navigate this difficult road with your children:

• Remind them that they can trust God – even in tough times. Consider saying, “Sometimes things happen that we can’t completely understand. We know that bad things happen in this world because there are bad people. But it doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about those little children. In fact, that’s why Jesus came – so He could rescue us from evil and be with Him some day in a perfect place!”

• Pray for everyone involved.  We do this, most importantly, because God hears our prayers and answers them. But prayer also does something else: it reminds us that God is with us, and that He can help in ways that no one else can.

• Don’t act like you have all the answers.  They won’t believe you anyway if you start making stuff up. It’s okay to say, “You know what? That’s a good question, but a hard one. I’ve wondered that too.” But follow it up by sharing something that you DO know. You don’t have to pretend to be certain about everything if you can demonstrate that they can be certain about many things: your love for them, God’s love for them, the fact that you will do everything you can to protect them, that their schools are safe – and will be even safer – after this, etc.

• Listen and don’t ignore questions or inquiries.  Pay attention to even the most passing comments. If your child knows anything about what happened, you can count on the fact that he’s thinking about it, and you want to be ready to talk when he is.

• Keep life normal and routine.  Young children always fare better when life is as stable as possible.

• Sharply limit media exposure in young children, and be there to explain what is seen.  The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that “overexposure to the media can be traumatizing. It’s unwise to let children or adolescents view footage of traumatic events over and over. Children and adolescents should not watch these events alone.” Kids may have a hard time discerning that only one gunman went into only one school, for example, when they see reports for hours on end on different channels as they’re looking over your shoulder.

After you take those initial steps, you have an opportunity to proactively use a tough situation as a teachable moment. Point out the good things that can happen:

• Place emphasis on the heroes of the events –  emergency personnel, teachers, and other students. Perhaps write a letter of encouragement to people who worked to help from the area police departments.

• Seek out stories about the people who are working to help the families who have been hurt by tragedy – churches, doctors, and even school personnel. Talk about how wonderful it is that people are willing to help others.

• Share the ways that your local schools have announced they are working to improve security.  Almost every school district made some sort of statement about the tragedy. You can find most of these statements online at your school’s or school district’s website.

• Help kids find ways to help –  let them come up with creative ways!

•  Finally, look for any signs that might indicate high levels of anxiety in your child.  Remember: what we see as replay footage or something horrific that happened in another town, our children may interpret as something that keeps happening very close to home. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology points to the following symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in kids:

o Refusal to return to school and “clinging” behavior
o Persistent fears related to the catastrophe
o Sleep disturbances such as nightmares, screaming during sleep and bedwetting.
o Abnormal behavior problems.
o Withdrawal from family and friends.

If you start to see any of these behaviors in the following week, it might be worth a call to your doctor, pastor, or school counselor to inquire about some additional help.

It is almost overwhelming to take in the magnitude of the tragedy that has taken place in multiple locations over the past few months. It’s even more challenging when children hear that it involved children just like them. It makes me angry that such conversations have to take place. As a Christian, I’m grateful for the promises of something better – because Christ has overcome the evil in the world and will one day eradicate evil, sin, sickness, war, and death from this earth. In the meantime, God has put moms, dads, grandparents, and mentors like you in their path to remind them everything will be okay.

 


Where do I begin?

November 30, 2015

Have you ever stood deep in the middle of the forest? So deep you really don’t know the difference between north and south? Although the pine needles may smell great, and the silence can be a sweet substitute for the usual noise in our lives, eventually you have to find your way out. Yet everything looks the same. Worse yet is that there is no discernible path in or out. You’re not lost; you just don’t know where you are or how to get out. Some would say that you are stuck.

We all need a path to follow. A well worn and time tested route that allows us to get to where we need to be. Without a path, our efforts are usually in vain. Try as we might, we only make things worse. We wander even deeper into the woods. If we only could know where to begin…

Spiritual growth can accelerate when we are on the right path. The Lord tells us that His word “… is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105). He promises us that He will give us direction for living. Don’t know which way to turn? Search His word. Feeling stuck behind walls of guilt and shame? God promises us, in His scriptures, forgiveness.

The path to a spiritual breakthrough is not found in a straight line or a formula. Yet there is a process tested and found helpful: faith breakthroughs.

You don’t have to be stuck. Nor do you have to wonder where to begin your journey to the life God wants for you!


Duke & Angie’s Breakthrough Story

November 29, 2015


Image of God at the Kitchen Table

October 9, 2015

“Tonight, we’ll face the math homework again. And it would be easy to think that focusing on the image of God means my daughter and I should skip it and just go read the Bible for a while. But that would be a mistake. Not reading the Bible, but thinking that imaging God has nothing to do with math homework.”

The image of God matters… especially at the kitchen table. Parents have the awesome responsibility of reflecting God’s very image to their children. Marc Cortez, author of the blog Everyday Theology, explains how life’s “ordinary” moments offer extraordinary opportunities to demonstrate God to our kids. Its well written, and worth your time. Image of God at the Kitchen Table.


The Forty Walls

October 7, 2015

Walls can be as plentiful as the unhealthy mindsets we generate, but there are forty walls that almost all of us has to deal with at one time or another.  The good news: we’re all in the same boat.  The better news: you don’t have to hold on to these mindsets!

As you may already know, we believe that there are eight primary walls.  Each of these eight can manifest itself in distinct ways – which brings us to forty.  Check out the printable (PDF) version of the Forty Walls here:

Forty Walls

Identifying your wall is a major step toward a Faith Breakthrough.  Let the Walls come down!


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The spiritual barriers people face are countless, but they can be categorized into Eight Primary Walls. These walls correlate with the 8 primary breakthroughs that everyone needs.
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1 of 48
I worry that God is angry with me.
2 of 48
When bad things happen, I feel like I am getting what I deserve.
3 of 48
I have witnessed things that make me wonder if God is in control.
4 of 48
When I am facing a difficult situation, I feel like I can solve problems on my own.
5 of 48
I feel there is a disconnect between who I really am and how I act in front of other people.
6 of 48
I feel I can turn to God for direction.
7 of 48
People would describe me as a giving person.
8 of 48
I feel with God's help, I can face any situation.
9 of 48
I feel compelled to make the world around me better.
10 of 48
My faith practices are more about routine than relationship.
11 of 48
I spend too much of my energy pursuing material things.
12 of 48
I question why God allowed certain things to happen in my life.
13 of 48
I tend to expect the worst to happen.
14 of 48
I am confident God has forgiven me for my past.
15 of 48
I think God cares about the details of my life.
16 of 48
I try to avoid temptations that would bring me harm.
17 of 48
I observe things that make me wonder if I should believe the Bible.
18 of 48
I am willing to serve others for nothing in return.
19 of 48
When looking back on my life, I tend to focus on all of the things I did wrong.
20 of 48
People who have hurt me in the past cause me to avoid some relationships today.
21 of 48
The possibility of gaining a good friend is worth the risk.
22 of 48
When bad things happen, I wonder if God can make things better.
23 of 48
I think that God will meet all my needs.
24 of 48
I believe God loves me in spite of who I am.
25 of 48
I am grateful for the things I have been given.
26 of 48
I believe the Bible has answers for today's circumstances.
27 of 48
I have been wronged in the past in a way I cannot get over.
28 of 48
I know a lot of people, but don't feel very close to many people.
29 of 48
It troubles me that God has not answered my prayers.
30 of 48
I have a hard time trusting people.
31 of 48
I believe God is loving and kind.
32 of 48
I have too many of my own problems to deal with the problems of others.
33 of 48
I am willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for something better down the road.
34 of 48
I feel strong relationships are hard, but worth it.
35 of 48
I don't believe anyone can ever know what is absolutely true.
36 of 48
I believe God is willing and able to answer my prayers.
37 of 48
I believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
38 of 48
I am intentionally seeking to grow in my relationships with others.
39 of 48
I believe God wants what is best for me.
40 of 48
I have to guard against judging people when I learn they are dealing with tough circumstances.
41 of 48
It humbles me to think I can know God.
42 of 48
I find myself more focused on the things I don't have but wish I did.
43 of 48
I look forward to good things in my future.
44 of 48
I find myself drawn to things I know are bad for me.
45 of 48
I am so busy that I find myself ignoring the most important things in my life.
46 of 48
I am amazed at God's power.
47 of 48
I believe truth is the same for everyone.
48 of 48
I worry about the problems that the future holds.
Great you have finished the evaluation.
Ready to see the results?