Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Get Your Kids Engaged!

No, I don’t mean THAT kind of engaged. I mean engaged as in engaged in conversation—engaged in something that does not require batteries—engaged in the real, exciting world.
My friend and fellow author Mary DeMuth wrote a great article on this subject and offered to share it. You'll find it below. She even included a contest as a little insentive. Here’s how it works: if you have a fun, creative or interesting dinner conversation-starter question visit this link by December 20 and share it with Mary (the link also appears in the body of her article)
If she selects yours as the winner you will receive a set of 150 conversation starters. They're great! I have a set.

Enjoy the article!

One of the questions author Mary DeMuth (Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture) gets asked in radio interviews is this: What can a parent do to help kids filter their media intake? Her answer: Strategically engage. The following is five ways to help re-engage your kids in a media-saturated culture

Five Ways to Engage Disengaged Kids
By Mary E. DeMuth

In a world of Halo, iphones, and IM, how do parents strategically engage their tuned-out kids? How can we create the kinds of homes that are irresistible to our children, enticing enough to make them tune out from games, media and texting and tune in to the rhythms of family life? Five ways.

One: Offer ‘em Something Better

The most enticing thing to a kid is community—real, authentic, God-breathed community. To create this, learn to do the following:

Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong and ask forgiveness.
Strive to become the person you want your child to become. Practice reconciliation, open communication, and serving each other.
Listen, really listen to your kids. Give them eye-time. Don’t uh-huh their concerns, but strive to ask great questions to draw them out. Be willing to share your own struggles with your kids.
Plan meal times together. And when you do, talk! One way to foster great communication is to have questions already prepared. For a sample, click here: To purchase all 150, click here: To win them, click here:
Have an unplug day—no phones, TV, gaming systems, and return to old fashioned board games, taking walks outside, and reading together.
Resist DVDs in the minivan. Try books on tape instead—a wonderful way to engage your child’s mind. Discuss the book afterward.
Welcome others into your home. Be the house all the kids want to congregate in.

Two: If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em

Our kids will see movies; they will watch TV shows. Instead of always pushing against that, sit down next to your child and watch shows and movies together. Then use the time afterwards to discuss these questions:

What is the worldview of this movie?
What kind of person is the main character? Is she someone you want to be like?
What lies does this movie perpetuate?
What does this show say about materialism?
What part of this movie showed God’s love?

Strategically engaging alongside our kids in the very thing we’re leery of does two things: It shows our kids we are willing to sacrifice our own desires to spend time with them. And it helps prepare them to better discern the movies and media they watch.

Three: Explore Different Ways to Celebrate Sabbath

Taking time away from the crazy rush-rush of a media saturated world is a counter-cultural move your family can take. Choose a day or afternoon for rest. Limit media that day. Choose to engage in artistic, creative endeavors together:

If a child loves music, encourage him to write a song or create an unusual soundtrack.
Supply kids with all sorts of visual arts tools: paint, brushes, magazines, pens, glue, and let them create. If you need focus, think of five families or friends who need to be encouraged, then create cards for each one.
Let your kids have free reign of the video camera. Encourage them to make a movie. Then watch it together as a family, complete with popcorn.
Pull out that karaoke machine.
Read together.
Do a puzzle or play board games.

Four: Go Outside

We are a disconnected culture, defining ourselves by the great indoors and cyberworlds. To combat that in your family, dare to open the front door and walk on out. Take strolls with your kids. Find a local park or wilderness preserve to poke around in. Hike together. Feed the ducks. Launch rockets. Play Frisbee. Kick the ball around. Ride bikes. Pick up garbage along the road. Skateboard. Make going outside as much of a habit as going outside.

Five: Focus Outward

Computers and movies and TV and phones focus us inward. Instead, seek to find ways to focus your family outward toward the needs of the world. Sponsor a child in a third world country. Go on a mission trip as a family and take a year together to plan it. Find a cause to support—like digging wells in Africa or alleviating AIDS. Volunteer at a nursing home. Muddying our feet and hands in the real needs of the world gives kids a greater picture of the world and pulls them away from the artificial, often narcissistic world they live in.

It is possible to re-engage your disengaged child. It takes effort, creativity and pluck, but it can be done. The reward? A rejuvenated, connected relationship with your child that no gadget can compare to.

Mary E. DeMuth loves to help folks turn their trials into triumphs. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006), and Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House 2007). A mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas. They recently returned from Southern France where they planted a church. Learn more at

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Much Different Thanksgiving

Yesterday our pastors threw a little twist into our typical church service. They took a few moments for an “open mic” time of Thanksgiving. Anyone who wanted to could share something he or she was thankful for. As I listened to those who shared I knew that I had countless reasons to be thankful this year. The side of me that loves to talk jumped up and down inside of my soul, “Oo, oo! Pick me! I have something to be thankful for! In fact, I have a bunch of stuff!” But I knew it would be best if I stayed quiet. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted share. I didn’t care to spill a lot of details or to do any explaining after the service if my expression of thanks should stir up questions in people. “So, what went on last year anyway? When I think about it, you did seem pretty down and emotional at times.” I no longer feared sabotaging my progress (for awhile it seemed that whenever I told someone, “I’m doing so well! It’s amazing,” I spiraled two days later). My close friends, pastors, and anyone else who knew about my rather lengthy trek through the Valley of Despair would understand what I meant if all I said was, “I’m thankful that I’m in a much better place today than I was at this point last year.”

On this date last year I was on a leave of absence from work, had just started adjusting to depression and anxiety meds, cried almost daily, walked around in a fog and second-guessed every move I made. My mind was my worst enemy, especially the part containing memories. I couldn’t write and knew that I wasn’t treating my family very well. I never could have handled the writing assignments, speaking engagements, and other opportunities that God has sent my way recently. I could have gone on and on about feeling like a different person now, how God used so much of that darkness for good, and how grateful I am for the love and care that He surrounded me with. But I stayed quiet, if for no other reason than my teenaged son was in the congregation and probably still recovering from Friday when I spoke at his school.

Today I am not in a room full of people and I am not limited by time. I simply must share how thankful I am to my loving Heavenly Father for healing my heart in ways that I never thought possible, for never leaving me alone, and for allowing yesterday’s time of thanksgiving as a reminder of how much different this Thanksgiving will be. If given the opportunity to list one thing that I’m thankful for I wouldn’t be able to choose. I’d have to make a list, including things like . . .

Faithful friends
A loving church family
A sensitive "boss" who knew I needed time off even when I didn’t
A brave friend who loved me enough to take risks
Brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t have a problem with certain types of medication
That such medications are available and I was prescribed one that did not cause weight gain
A patient husband
That kids are resilient
Good counselors
That when God heals our wounds He uses the scar tissue for His glory
I’m still here

I'm more relaxed
I enjoy life and people more
I no longer cry over every little thing
When I was in a place where tears came often (and sometimes intensely) I had kind friends to hold my hand through many of those storms
Whoever invented Kleenex (Oops--trademark violation--make that facial tissue)
That laughter really is good medicine
That dealing with our “stuff” benefits us physically—I actually feel younger, which is very strange considering that I turned . . . well . . . a year older

Anyone who reads this post today, rejoice with me. God is amazing!