Monthly Archives: October 2012

“Reversing Darwin” Belong Series Parent Cue

Hey There!

We hope this resource will inspire you to have some great conversations with your kids!

1. Be a Student of What Your Kids are Learning

In the dog-eat-dog world of middle school and high school, survival of the fittest often seems like the law of the land. And when we’re on the bottom of the food chain, this idea of a pecking order can start to affect the way we understand God—and maybe even the way we believe God sees us. But what if we were able to reverse this idea? What if something in Scripture allowed us to turn survival of the fittest on its head? Maybe we can start to flip the idea of “only the strong survive” and live in the reality that God has a bigger purpose and a better picture in mind—and this purpose and picture involves all of us—the strong, the weak, the in, the out, those you would expect, and those you wouldn’t. Maybe in an effort to reverse Darwin, we need to start by understanding who God created us to be and how to live like it matters.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

Take a moment to think back—way, way back—to those first days of middle school. Or to the moments and memories that still define your high school experience. Or, get really bold and break out an old yearbook and see what you find. Feathered bangs? Side ponytails? Maybe even a mullet? Or, maybe seeing those old pictures brings back memories of who you thought you would one day be and all the adventures you hoped to have. Maybe you envisioned getting out of your small town and attending college in a bustling urban center, or studying abroad and soaking in the European culture. But even if those hopes and dreams didn’t pan out, they probably helped you dig deeper to define who you were, sometimes by simply figuring out who you were are not.

And for many of us, this process is still an ongoing part of our lives. It may even be that we were more sure of who we were at 18 than we are now that we have children, a job, a mortgage and a “life.” But why is it that we are still working so hard at figuring this out? Sometimes it seems that in our now grown-up lives we are working harder to convince other people of who we are. Whether on our Facebook profiles (yep, our students aren’t the only ones) or through conversations with friends, family and even other parents we are often caught up in a PR battle … with ourselves. We try to define ourselves by the way we represent ourselves to the world and in the process, we end up forgetting who we really are. Throw in 24/7 parenting duties, work tasks, daily household management, church and family life and any other threads of schedules and responsibilities and we get lost in the mix altogether!

And, as you may have noticed, we usually realize the weight of figuring out who we are in times of crisis or great change. Often, we find that somewhere along the line we have “activating events” that trigger us to shatter the image of who we think we are and dig deep again to find our true selves, to rediscover who we truly are.

And for our students, these activating events happen on a daily or maybe even hourly basis. They don’t make the team. They fail a test. They get dropped by a group of friends that were once their whole world. And like us, when this happens to our students, they get to pause, reflect, pick up the pieces and walk away in their new—or maybe just dusted off—identity.

3. Action Point

Sit down with your teenager and talk about a time when something happened to you that redefined who you are. Maybe it was a divorce, or even some defining moment that occurred before they were ever born. Whatever it is, talk about how it changed you and led you to better understand yourself.

Then, ask them if anything has happened this week that has caused them to feel “less than.” What was it? How did it make them feel? Did it make them want to change something about themselves? Did it make them feel like they don’t really know who they are or where they belong?

Now speak into that place of vulnerability and insecurity. What do you see in your student that is unique? What would be lost if they changed themselves in order to fit in? Why does it matter that they strive to be just who God created them to be?

Be sure to carve out some intentional time to sit down and wrestle through these questions with your student. And remember, even if they don’t open up as much as you would hope or like, the fact that you took the time and cared enough to ask will pay huge dividends in the future. Because just knowing what they are going through means the world to your student, even if they aren’t able to show it.

We’d love to hear your stories and experiences with your kids. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!


Paulo Lopes

Youth Ministry Team


“The Prodigal” Belong Lesson Parent Cue (Part 2)

What many parents want the most, what they desire when their children become adults, is to have a close relationship with them. They desire to be friends with their adult children and still be a part of their lives. But what does it take to get there? Because the reality is that not all of us adults have a great relationship with our parents. How can our relationship with our kids be different? One way is to make sure they know that there is a place they can always come back to.


By Sarah Anderson

I am a new mom. And like any parent learns when first beginning to navigate the uncharted waters of parenthood, the first few weeks, even months can often feel overwhelming. From the very beginning, you feel like you are at the cusp of something big, something huge when this little life enters the world, crashes in your world. All you want is so desperately to get it right, to not mess up, to raise up and grow a child who could one day achieve greatness—or at least stay out of trouble with the law.

Since becoming a mom I have found that my mind is full of ideas of what I hope my son becomes, what I hope he experiences, and what his dad and I can offer him. I could fill pages on what I wish for him. There is so much I want to impart to my little boy while he lives under my roof and under my care. And quite honestly a lifetime doesn’t seem long enough to make sure I give him all I have to give, teach him all I think to teach and show him all he deserves to see.

See, I know the days that Asher and I have where he lets me hold him and rock him will pass too quickly, and the day will come when he smells more like little boy than little baby, when time with his friends is valued more than time with me, when he barely lets me in his room and will hardly let me graze his cheek with a good night kiss. I know that the days we have together will pass quickly—some uneventfully, and others more dramatically. And I know he will grow and change slowly becoming a young man that will one day be released into a world that seems far too big to support him now, but may seem far too small to contain him later.

But the other night, as I was rocking Asher, and being soothed to sleep myself listening to the lullaby playlist his dad and I made for him before he was born, I found the culmination of all my hope and anxious anticipations for my little boy in a few lines from a song. Singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson sang:

“I love you today and I love you tomorrow

I love you as deep as the sea

I love you in joy and I love you in sorrow

You can always come home to me.”

(“You Can Always Come Home” by Andrew Peterson, from Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies)

Listening to a simple rhyme in a simple song, it hit me, more than any other time before; that there really is only one thing I want to make sure Asher takes with him. And this thing doesn’t change, not from tonight, as he curls up in his little footed onesie and still eighteen years from now in a cramped and filthy dorm room. There is one thing I want to make sure he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt—regardless of his age and where he lays his head at night.

He can come home to me. No matter what.

I know it can be easy to promise something so big when the one being promised to is still so little. He doesn’t yet know how to break my heart, disappoint me, challenge me or defy me. But I want him to be sure of this—I want him to rest in this and be confident in it and have unbridled hope— that he can do any of those things—and more—and believe my love and my acceptance hinges on nothing other than the fact that he is mine. And for that reason alone, he can always come home.

I love playing this song for Asher as he starts to fall asleep. I love that one of the last things he hears each night is that there will always be a safe place for him to land—come what may. But I know it doesn’t mean a whole lot if the way I love him, parent him, guide him and direct him is not done with that message at the crux. The day in and day out interactions with my baby boy are sending a message loud and clear, more than a sappy song played once a day does. And so, I find myself working every day to make sure that the way I talk to him, the way I spend time with him, the way I hold him, the way I comfort him, and the way I play with him sends a greater message than some aptly sung and well-written words can.

And for the days when I parent more out of frustration than grace, exhaustion than patience, confusion than certainty, I will keep the playlist from Asher’s early days close by, and maybe every once in awhile play him a song that conveys the message my parenting may fail to do every now and again. For those days, I hope he hears the lyric louder than my failings:

“I love you today and I love you tomorrow

I love you as deep as the sea

I love you in joy and I love you in sorrow

You can always come home to me.”

© 2010 Orange. All rights reserved.


We hope this resource will inspire you to have some great conversations with your kids this weekend and beyond.


J. Paulo Lopes

Youth Ministry Team