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Monday, March 30, 2015

Questions to ask my kids...

I was asked what kinds of questions I ask my daughters when we go on dates or talk before bed or have a moment of conversation in the middle of the frenzy of life.
Some of these questions came to mind. There are some of them I haven't asked just yet, but I need to. Others I try to ask more frequently. Some of these are more appropriate for my 15 yr old than my 11 yr old. It all depends on where they're at emotionally and the kind of connection they have with you based on your investment in their hearts along the way.
That being said, I try to stay intentional about probing into their hearts. There are certain moments where they are more in tune and others when my questions fall on deaf ears and a dead heart.
These are some questions that surfaced today as I was thinking about how to engage conversation with my kids:
1. How was your day? (Usually get a grunt out of that one..)
2. Anything happen today that was funny or weird?
3. What are you enjoying about life lately?
4. What have you been doing with your free time recently?
5. Have you found any cool things on the internet/youtube lately?
6. What are you learning about in school...what's your favorite class? Why?
7. What is tiring you out the most lately?
8. Anything causing you stress or anxiousness lately?
9. Who are you best friends right now? How are those relationships going?
10. Is there anyone who is driving you nuts right now? Who and why?
11. Do you feel happy with yourself these days? What makes you feel down?
12. How do you feel like we're doing in our relationship? Are we good?
13. How has it been with your siblings lately? What are you enjoying...what is annoying?
14. What are your favorite shows on television? What do you like about them?
15. How has you time with God been lately? How is it good...why is it distant...what could make it better?
16. Has anything hurt your feelings lately in life? Am I doing anything to make you feel bad?
17. What are your favorite memories of our family?
18. If you could do something over again, what would it be?
19. What do you look forward to about the future...what do you get nervous about when you think of the future?
20. When do you find yourself most comfortable and content?
21. Has anything been discouraging or disappointing lately? What?
22. In what ways have you been helping people around you lately?
23. What are some of your questions about God? We all have them, so what is tough about being a Christian these days?
24. When was the last time you really laughed...when was the last time you really cried? When was the last time you were really embarrassed?
25. What makes you feel the most satisfied?
26. Who do you really look up to and why?
27. How do you feel I can stay close to you as a father? What are some things that you really appreciate about your mom?
28. If you could change one thing about our family, what would it be?
29. Do you ever feel lonely or left out? When do you feel that the most?
30. What is your worst memory and what does it make you feel when you think about it?
31. How are you sleeping lately? What thoughts run threw your mind before you fall asleep?
32. What do you want to do someday when you get older? Anything stand out as something you want to pursue?
33. Are you interested in any boys lately? What about them are you drawn to?
34. When friends around you are being perverted, how do you feel and how do you try to respond?
35. What do you think is the hardest thing about being your age these days?
36. What do you feel that people just don't understand about you? How do you feel misunderstood sometimes?
37. What would be one of the hardest things for you to go without? Why?
38. What do you feel about all the tragedies that are happening in the world? Do you think about things that are going on in the world much?
39. What are the things you're most thankful for lately? How much do you concentrate on what you don't like compared to what you do like?
40. What are ways that you could be nicer to your siblings? Have you noticed areas where they are sad that you could encourage them? How do you wish they would encourage you?
41. How do you feel you are being looked down on for being young? What does that make you want to do?
42. Do you find you're a leader or a follower? What makes you that way and how do you feel like you need to change?
43. What are some sins/struggles that tempt you since we all know everyone is facing some temptation or another? What do you think are my greatest temptations as a parent? Let me share...
44. In what areas do you feel like you want to just give up? What is making you feel that way?
45. What is a dream you have that you would love to see come true?
46. Where do you feel most tempted to lie? What pressures you to feel like you want to at times?
47. Are there any areas of my life where you think I'm not being real or truthful? Do you ever feel I'm a different person in different places? What does that make you feel?
48. If you could be a certain age and just stop and stay that age forever, what age would you chose?
49. What question do you sometimes wish you could ask me but you're afraid I'll think it's stupid or I'll be offended?
50. Do you have any idea how much I love you? Let me tell you a couple things I love about you.
I plan on sending these to my two daughters, Kami and Aly tonight giving them time to read over them and respond. I might use it as a template on my next date with them. I think it would be cool to cover a few of them each time we go out.
I hope some of these can help you in some way. Raising kids isn't always easy, but it's super rewarding!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

"Dad, you owe me 5 bucks."

“Dad, you owe me 5 bucks.”

I had just finished speaking and it was right after the service when Kami made this matter-of-fact declaration.

“For what?”

I was trying to think about the service and where I may have used her for an illustration in the sermon.  I have made an agreement with my daughters to pay them $5 anytime I tell a story about them in my message.  I couldn’t remember doing that though.

“For embarrassing me with that rap you did at the end of the message.”

I was finally locking into her line of logic.  But she was misinformed about the aforementioned agreement.

“I am not responsible to give you $5 for simple embarrassment or I would be broke.  That’s just for specific illustrations using your names in stories.  Sorry, sucker.”

She shook her head and said, “You still owe me 5 bucks.”

I hugged her longer than she would have liked and replied, “You know you loved it.”

She was referring to an old O.C. Supertones song called Unite that I decided to rap.  It was just the chorus. “Unite, ignite, and spark a light that burns so bright the sight will blind the minds of this our modern times.”  I repeated the chorus twice just for good measure and got the band to spontaneously give me a funky beat and catchy hook to make it feel more legit.

I got to thinking the last couple days about the infamous rap I’ve been getting heckled for all week since I spit it out there for all the church to hear.  I had my hand in the air bobbing it up and down, the whole bit.  I closed my eyes and just let it go.  Even in the moment there were split seconds where my brain would say, “What are you doing?  This is so dumb.”  But in the same moment I would feel a freedom that felt boyish and innocent, like I was returning to life before the disease of self-consciousness.

I had several people talk to me after the service saying almost the same exact thing: “I would never do something like that, but I love it when you do.”  It wasn’t until about the 3rd time that I heard the same sentiment that I wondered: “Why are people drawn to something that they would never do?  What would happen if we would let down our guard, not take ourselves so seriously, and show the world around us the more unrefined, unedited part of ourselves?”  It’s fascinating to me that people are drawn to humanness, but everyone is scared to be human.

I heard someone say recently that often when we think we’re making a fool of ourselves, we’re actually probably making a human of ourselves.  I think that might be true.  We’re so scared of appearing foolish or childish that we unknowingly are shielding the world from that which is most appealing and alluring about us…our unadulterated self.

Never before have I gotten more feedback on a message.  Never before have I gotten more Facebook messages.  I got more follow-up comments from teenagers and children in that message than the last year combined.  I had more grown men come up and give me a hug after that message than any other sermon bar-none.  What is it about unfettered freedom--even silliness--that attracts us so?  Why are we more drawn to things that are down-to-earth than out-of-this-world?

When we got home, behind the demands for compensation for embarrassment, my daughters really wanted to let me know that it was their favorite sermon ever!  Aly even said to me: “Dad, don’t be offended by this but most of the time I drift off when you’re speaking, but this week I didn’t do that once.” 

I don’t plan on rapping every week and I don’t think rap is even the main issue, it’s losing yourself, dropping the act, and letting people see you relax into your skin.  That which is most embarrassing is often most endearing.