Small Group Fun Night – April 22, 2018

Youth Praise Team: 12:15-2 p.m. Practice in Magnolia Building

6th & 7th Grade Girls: Meet at 2:30 p.m. at Color Me Mine, 1609 W Snow Cir, Tampa, FL 33606, painting “Giving Plates.” Bring $35 and get picked up at 4:30 p.m.

8th Grade Girls: 4-7 p.m. Movie and Snacks at Busbee Home (824 S Willow Avenue Tampa, FL 33606). Bring a snack to share.

Middle School Boys: AMC Westshore Movie. Meet at the theater at 1:15 p.m. to see Miracle Season (Rated PG) at 1:30 p.m. Bring money for the movie and plan for pick up around 3:30 p.m.

High School Students: Meet at Curtis Hixon at 4:00 p.m., followed by dinner at Eddie and Sam’s for pizza downtown. Bring $10 or $15 for dinner, drink and gelato. Also bring your favorite thing to do at a park, like Frisbee, football, cards, etc. Invite your friends!

Emily’s Youth Message – Too Busy

Emily’s Youth Message – Too Busy

Are you busy?

Of course, you are. Between work, school, family, and friends, it seems like there’s always something going on. And that leaves you (and everyone else) with little time to focus on anything other than what’s in front of you. You’re so busy thinking about what you’re doing, then what you have to do next, and then what you have to do after that, it makes it hard to actually see anything or anyone else. It’s true for all of us.

Believe it or not, Jesus actually found Himself in situations like this, too. There were times when He was surrounded by crowds of people asking for His help to heal them or teach them or provide for them. And it definitely would have been easy for Him miss people or opportunities. But look at what the book of Matthew tells us He did instead:

When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36 NIV).

Jesus was moved with compassion. When? When He saw the crowds. He took time to notice them. There’s always someone around us in need of a little help or kindness. Maybe it’s a guy you work with who struggles to make friends. Or maybe it’s bigger than that. Maybe it’s the kids in your community who don’t have enough to eat. Or the teenagers across the world who don’t have access to clean water or education. No matter what the need is, part of following Jesus’ example is taking time to notice others. He’s asking us to care enough to do something about someone in need. Who in your life do you know that could use a little compassion? Ask yourself what you can do this week to act on their need.

Emily’s Youth Message – Do You Shame?

Emily’s Youth Message – Do You Shame?

Consider whether you grew up in a “Toxic Shame” environment and to consider how you react when you are hurt. We encourage you that though shame-based parenting is often learned, and may be the way you were parented, it can be unlearned as well.

Shame, if you recall, is that terrible feeling of not fitting in, or being horribly wrong. It can happen among your teen’s friend groups, and it can happen in their place of employment. Unfortunately, though, the place it often happens the most is within the home.

Brené Brown wrote a book titled Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. In that book Brown states, “When it comes to our feelings of love, belonging, and worthiness, we are most shaped by our families of origin—what we hear, what we’re told, and perhaps most importantly, how we observe our parents engaging in the world.”

Though the way we might be shaming our tween or teen might be subtle, don’t for a minute doubt they don’t feel shame when it hits them. You are the key person in your tween or teen’s life that is supposed to be a safe place for them—a place where there is no shame, but acceptance. Even teenagers will interpret doing something bad, like a bad choice they’ve been punished for making, to “You are bad.”

Be careful about the verbal and silent messages you are sending your teen. Paul wrote, “Everyone who believes in [Jesus] will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:11). If we, as parents, are not “put to shame” in Christ, our teenagers shouldn’t be “put to shame” by us. We have daily opportunities to reflect Christ to them. View this week’s online parenting class.

Instead of resorting to shame when your tween or teen does something wrong or makes a poor choice, take a breath, take a step back, and ask God to help you remember that just as you are learning to parent better, and just as you make mistakes in life, so will they. Your tween or teen is at an age where they might be often frustrated, angry, or even hostile and push against everything you do or say. They might make poor choices, or even outright bad choices. It is an age of exploring, experimenting, and learning—and ultimately crossing over from teenager to young adult.

Shaming a teen for age-appropriate behavior will likely shut them down and crush their spirit, and could potentially interrupt this crucial stage of development. Though they might do things that you would classify as dumb, illogical, or impulsive, it’s part of their growth.

Above all, guard against shaming your tween or teen for something awkward they have done. You want to encourage them to find themselves and blossom into their own person, as God created them to be. And that is different than you.

The greatest thing you can do for your tween or teen is continually ask yourself what will help them flourish and grow into their potential, and preserve their dignity.

We hope this series on helping you identify whether you may be shaming your teen or tween has been helpful. Parents aren’t perfect (I know you know that!) and grace in abundance is needed when parenting your teen—but also for yourself when you make mistakes.

I am just an email away if you have any questions, concerns, or comments. You are not in this parenting journey alone!

Emily’s Youth Message – Three Seasons of Teenagers

Emily’s Youth Message – Three Seasons of Teenagers

Our topic this week is to discuss the three seasons of being a teenager. In it we will talk about a season of calm waters, chopping waters, and storms and how understanding what season a teen is in will help make sense of where your teen is coming from.

Calm Waters. You may have decided the life for your teen seems to be somewhat smooth! What an excellent time to pour into your teen’s heart and soul. Psalm 71:17–18 says, “O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” As your teen’s parent, you are representing God, who is the ultimate teacher!

However, in ancient biblical culture, parents weren’t the only ones who took on a mentoring or teaching role! Older members of the community trained children and youth, too. Though you are called to be the primary teacher and mentor in your teen’s life, don’t underestimate the powerful influence others have; look for other models and mentors that could be involved in molding and shaping your teen—youth group leaders, grandparents, even young adults.

Perhaps your son or daughter is in a season where they need encouragement. The writer of Hebrews tells us how important this is for everyone—but it is vital for teens who are trying to figure life out: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24–25). Seek out ways to encourage your son or daughter, but remember teenagers long for community. Are there places where your teen can be with people their own age who will lift them up and challenge them too?

A teen’s life will go through seasons, and some might be rocky. Take advantage of those calmer seasons to guide and direct your teen’s paths in a way that will give them a firm footing to stand on when things do get rough. And remember, I’m here to help!

The dreaded “rocky” seasons your son or daughter will inevitably go through—otherwise known as “the storms in life.” These seasons can be some of your greatest challenges as a parent. Your teen’s heart may seem to have grown cold and bitter, or they may be experiencing an emotionally dark time. In extreme seasons, they may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or be depressed.

Make sure you pay attention to certain shifts in behavior, such as a change in friendships, a drop in school attendance, a dip in grades, or self-destructive behaviors. If you notice any of these things, seek the help of a Christian counselor, or look for a mentor to help them.

However, some “storms” might not be so rough. Your teen may be experiencing friendship issues, or intense academics may be stressing them out. An over-packed schedule might be weighing on them, or they might be exhausted as a result of crazy sports regiments. During those seasons, it is important to love your teen well and extend an overdose of grace. They might be touchy, lash out or cry for no reason. Rather than respond in the same way (isn’t it true we are just big kids in grown up bodies?) take a breath, and seek God’s guidance for what to do in that particular situation. Your teen is likely reacting that way unintentionally; give your son or daughter space to unload. Often, the safest place for them to do this is in your presence.

Sometimes loving your teen by letting them know you are aware of how rough things are and that you are praying for them is the best thing you can do. Mother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity in India, said the following: “Love is a fruit in season at all time, and within the reach of every hand.”
I understand the frustration of the parenting journey! Please let me know if I can be of any help!

Click here to view this week’s online parenting class.

Emily’s Youth Message – Am I Missing Something?

Have you ever felt a little crazy? Maybe you cheer for a sports team that no one else likes. Maybe you’re the only person who doesn’t love the new band everyone else is talking about. When you’re in a situation where it seems everyone agrees or understands—and you don’t—it can feel like you’re losing your mind. You wonder, “Am I missing something?”
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Emily’s Youth Message – No Perfect Parent

Emily’s Youth Message – No Perfect Parent

No matter how great a parent you are, how many books you read on the subject of parenting, how many conferences you attend, and how much you pour into your child’s life, there is no recipe for perfect parenting.

There are amazing, godly couples who have a child in prison. Pastors have children who are lukewarm toward God or outright agnostic. Did they do something wrong in how they parented? Rather than striving to be a “perfect” parent, how about striving to be a godly parent—and leave the outcome to the One who made your tween/teen.

There will always be people whose tweens/teens are more obedient, more compliant, more joyful, and more “perfect” than ours. Our job is to be faithful to the task we have been given: to raise the tween or teen under our roof as well as we can, and trust God with the outcome. There is only so much influence a parent can have; we are not sovereign over our tweens/teens—only God is.

In her article “The Myth of the Perfect Parent” Leslie Leyland Fields wrote, “It is faith rather than formula, grace rather than guarantees, steadfastness rather than success that bridges the gap between our own parenting efforts, and what, by God’s grace, our children grow up to become.”

The quest for perfection goes back to the beginning of time. We want to be everything to everyone—the perfect friend, the perfect wife or husband, the perfect employee, and yes, the perfect parent. Of course, it’s normal to desire to be loved and to belong, but striving for perfection is a goal that will never be met.
When we hold unattainable expectations about our children, we are bound to be let down and feel like we have failed. If you struggle with this feeling, consider spending some time reflecting on what your expectations are for yourself as a parent. Ask yourself the following questions:
• Am I expecting to never make mistakes? Does this line up with God’s Word? (See Romans 3:23)
• Are my expectations realistic?
• How can I revise my expectations of myself?

The apostle Paul warned Jesus’ disciples about trying to “think more of oneself” than is necessary. He said, “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind” (Romans 12:3). Paul encouraged excellence, but not perfection.
Consider what Gigi Graham Tchividjian said about perfectionism:

“We don’t have to be perfect to be a blessing. We are asked only to be real, trusting in His perfection to cover our imperfection, knowing that one day we will finally be all that Christ saved us for and wants us to be.”
Meditate on God’s view of what He expects of you. Ask Him to help you set realistic expectations of yourself as a parent, and to rest in the fact that at the end of the day, you have done enough. Not only that, you are enough. Parenting will be a lot more fun when you let the only One who is perfect have a bit more control!
Raising tweens/teens is not easy, and without realizing it, we can become swept up in trying to control how they turn out. I am praying for you as you consider this topic this month, that God will release you from trying to be more than what He expects you to be, and that you will trust in His perfection.

My encouragement is that you will embrace this idea as you press on in your parenting. God does not require you to be flawless . . . only faithful.

I am here to help and am always praying.

Click here to check out this week’s online parenting class.

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