Have We Got a Resource For You!

This week we are taking a break from our podcast but we will be back next week with a great interview episode. We have some other great episodes coming up in the future as well about communicating with your child and what they need to communicate to you!

Over the course of the last forty weeks, we have covered a lot of content. We encourage you to look back over our archive and check out some of the episodes you have missed. One of our greatest goals is to give practical resources for parents to lead their children and their families closer to Christ. To do that we have reviewed several books. Here’s some of those books and their corresponding episodes:

So this week, check out a book, listen to a podcast you missed, lead your family… and until next week, Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 26 NOTES

Do you struggle with knowing how to answer your kids’ questions about faith? Or maybe you just struggle getting them to talk about it at all. And yet it is one of the most vital, close-to-the-heart issues we have as parents – will our kids choose to believe the truth. Or maybe more specifically, will they know and trust Jesus with their life?

In this EPISODE, we talk about some of the responses and approaches to help walk your adolescents and young adults through the process of knowing what they believe.

Here’s some things to remember when responding to their questions:

  1. It’s about a person and a relationship. More than a set of ideas, philosophies or tenets, we are talking about getting to know Jesus. It has to start with Him. He’ll walk them through the rest. How are you introducing your children to Jesus?
  2. It’s about trust and faith. We aren’t necessarily looking for all the answers, but learning to trust the one who has all the answers. If we really believe God is who He says He is, we’ll trust Him for the unknowns.
  3. It’s about personal evaluation and commitment. We’ve got to move from ideas to actions. We have to remind our children that they ultimately are responsible for owning what they believe.

At the end we talked about a whole bunch of resources to guide them:

  1. A Study Bible. This is foundational. A few that we really recommend are The CSB Everyday Study Bible, The ESV Study Bible, and net.bible.org.
  2. Entry Level Reading. A couple of really accessible reads on belief are Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
  3. For some deeper, longer reading on these topics, we recommend The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul, and Knowing God by J.I. Packer.

If you haven’t already, make a plan today to guide your children’s faith development. Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 25 NOTES

Thanks for joining us for our 25th EPISODE!! As we enter our seventh month of this podcast, we thought we’d have some fun and offer a bunch of great family game ideas.

We love playing games with our families. Here are some of our very favorites:

  1. PANDEMIC – a board game about stopping global viral infections. Currently, a very relevant game.
  2. PUERTO RICO – a resource management board game where you have to settle the island of Puerto Rico and export goods.
  3. BALDERDASH – A creative game of bluffing that always ends up with some great laughs.
  4. THE INDEX CARD GAME (Also known at TELESTRATIONS) – this drawing and writing game always ends with surprises.
  5. APPLES TO APPLES – The classic category game.
  6. CATCHPHRASE APP – This mobile version of the popular game can be found on Google Play or Apple App Store.

We also talked about games that anyone can play. Here’s some we like:

  1. UNO/UNO ATTACK – Getting rid of those cards together!
  2. EXPLODING KITTENS – A hilarious unique card game.
  3. THE RESISTANCE – Find the spies among you in this dystopian future game.
  4. BANANAGRAMS – Like Scrabble but better…and faster.

And lastly we talked about more active games, like…

  1. KAN JAM – Throwing frisbees into cans. It’s the best.
  2. SARDINES – A more uncomfortable version of hide and seek.
  3. WASHERS – What else would you do with washers, but throw them into boxes.

And lastly, we mentioned one of Mark’s family’s favorites – CRANIUM HULLABALOO – which we found out is a popular, out-of-print game. We’re not sure it’s worth the online price tag, but it is fun!

So pick a game and plan a party with your family. And, as always, Be Abnormal!!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 24 NOTES

In this EPISODE, we talk about the biggest, deepest, most foundational question of all humanity – who do you think you are? In answering that question, we take a look at Mark Driscoll’s book and study guide of the same name.

This book is a study of the biblical book of Ephesians and pulls out fifteen powerful statements that define who we are when we are “in Christ”. Among them are the concepts that we are Saints, Adopted, Heard and Accepted. It further helps us see that we often look to wrong things to find our identity when we should be looking to our Creator.

Here’s a great acronym to help us evaluate if we are looking in the wrong places (IDOL):

  1. Items – the trap of materialism
  2. Duties – the trap of leaning on our own strength and ability
  3. Others – the trap of putting others in a place that only God can fill
  4. Longings – the trap of wanting things our way rather than God’s way

Some ideas to help parents have this conversation with their children is:

  1. Read the book of Ephesians and pull out the identity statements found there.
  2. Consider getting Mark Driscoll’s book WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? and its companion Study Guide.
  3. Find ways to affirm our God given identity in ours and our children’s lives. Some of the ways we do that is change our language and check our goals.

Until next week – Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 23 NOTES

In this EPISODE we unpack the phenomenon that many of our children look more to YouTube and Instagramers as celebrity heroes than they do movie actors and rock stars. This becomes a particularly challenging topic as we realize these social media channels are helping shape our children’s worldviews.

We take some recent podcasts from popular YouTubers Rhett and Link as a case study. Rhett and Link – who grew up in church, were involved in ministry leadership, and were even missionaries for a time – recently came out with stories on their podcast Ear Biscuits explaining how they have moved away from their Christian faith. If you would like to hear the podcasts, you can find Rhett’s story here and Link’s story here. However, I would caution you to use great discretion in sharing these with your child.

As we move to helping our young people process these kinds of stories and voices – those that challenge our Christian faith and worldview – here are a few ideas on approach:

  1. Acknowledge that this is real. These people are real and in many cases our young people feel very relationally connected to them.
  2. Create space for doubt and discussion. We will be doing an entire episode on this topic in a few weeks but we encourage you to delve into the deep concepts of faith development and ask some scary questions to help your kids process and own their faith.
  3. Teach them to evaluate the voices and channels in their lives. Help them to not just take every statement at face value. Advise them of some counterpoints to consider. Introduce them to some deep Christian thinkers to help them. A few we mentioned were Josh and Sean McDowell and Lee Strobel, for starts.
  4. Make it personal! As our kids wrestle and struggle through what they believe, we must guide them to truth but do it through biblical grace and with a great sense of belonging. Help them know you are in this with them. Remember this is a process; not a product.

Closing challenges were to ask your child about what YouTube or Social Media voices they are listening to and ask some questions. Also we encourage you to SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss any of our exciting upcoming content! Until then Be Abnormal!!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 22 NOTES

In this EPISODE, we talk about some of the great reasons and ways to inspire adventure for your family. If you aren’t sick of streaming Netflix, we encourage you to check out last week’s episode – What Are You Binging on Netflix? for some suggestions. We also encourage you to check out Episode 8 – Drinking Coffee and Rites of Passage for more ideas on inspiring your children to meaningful experiences.

A couple of resources for further ideas and research that we highlighted in this episode were

  1. John Sower’s The Heroic Path. This is particularly a great read for parents of boys.
  2. Bob Goff’s Everybody Always. An inspiring book with lots of adventure and stories to help us see how to become who God wants us to be.

As we talked about inspiring adventure that helps our children find purpose, ownership and confidence, here were a few suggestions:

  1. Raise a baby animal.
  2. Build a fort.
  3. Get a tent and literally camp in your own backyard.
  4. Plant something. If you are looking for seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is a great mail order option with lots of unique choices.
  5. Have some friendly family competitions. Check out Dude Perfect if you need some inspiration.
  6. Do something new with your kids you’ve never done before. If you are really feeling adventurous, offer to make a tiktok video with them.
  7. Remodel a room. Do a significant task together, letting your child make some of the decisions and learn something new.

There are obviously lots of other ways you can inspire adventure while still staying at home. We’d love to hear some of your ideas in the comments. Until next time…Be Abnormal.

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 21 NOTES

In this EPISODE, we talk about the phenomenon of media streaming. Media consumption and teenagers go hand in hand. You add to it the increased fluidity of our schedules during this current time, and a parent can feel really overwhelmed. How do I monitor? What is okay to watch? How do I help my kids make healthy media choices?

We cover the importance of having a plan for screen time as well as monitoring what your children watch. In addition to discussions and checking histories, we recommend using imdb.com‘s Parent Guides and Common Sense Media to check out content of Movies and TV before watching. We also mentioned Vidangel, which is a subscription based filtering service for streamed content.

We also gave some recommendations for family watching that are currently on three of the major streaming services. We would make the caveats that most of these films are not overtly Christian but lend themselves to good discussion with teenagers. Some of them might not be appropriate for younger viewers, so make sure you use one of the content monitors we mentioned previously to make your decision to watch.

  1. AMAZON PRIME: We mentioned some of the mini-series adaptations of good literature such as Little Dorrit, Dr. Thorne, and the 2018 version of Little Women. A few movies we mentioned that would be good for older teens to watch and discuss are The Passion of the Christ, Lars and the Real Girl and A Quiet Place.
  2. DISNEY+: This new service (which is offering free accounts to Verizon customers through the end of this year) has a lot of good, family entertainment. A couple of standout DISNEY+ original movies are Togo and Timmy Failure. Both are good for the whole family.
  3. NETFLIX: While we feel that this service is the least family friendly, it does have a few gems. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an excellent original film. There are also some old family classics on there like Groundhog Day and Yours, Mine, and Ours.

Ultimately we always come back to the encouragement to be intentional in helping your children make choices about what they are watching. And also be engaged to discuss with them what worldviews are present in current media and how that compares to our Christian worldview and values. So this week, watch something fun as a family, have good conversations about why we believe what we believe, and Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 20 NOTES

In our first remotely recorded EPISODE, we talk about some of the questions and concerns facing us during the COVID-19 situation. We particularly address some of the unique circumstances parents of teenagers are finding themselves having to navigate.

Here’s a few of the thoughts we covered for parents to help their children process this event:

  1. Ask Questions. You need to help your children process their emotions and fears. You will most likely have to initiate and guide that discussion. Check out our Episode on Asking Good Questions.
  2. Create New Routines. Life definitely isn’t normal right now, but try to create some stability with a new normal. Last week’s Episode on Creating Rhythm and Schedule might be a helpful resource.
  3. Stay Close to the Lord. We need to make sure we are finding our strength from God and helping our families do the same.

We also discussed some great ideas to help our children with schooling and social interaction during this time. We’d love to hear some of your ideas and stories as well, so please comment or contact us. Bottom line is that we must be more intentional than ever about helping our children seek God and seek answers. It’s a great time to Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 19 NOTES

This EPISODE was recorded prior to some of the current world situations, but has so much to say about finding that routine in the chaos of life. In our discussion we explore the challenge of time management and talk about some resources and principles to help us create manageable schedules for our families. As many of us are having to manage new and different situations this week, we hope you find some encouragement and help.

Here’s some tools and ideas that we have found helpful:

  1. Finding something to help you manage and organize. For us, we tend to use digital resources – our phones, shared google calendars and docs, notes functions, etc. Mark’s wife likes a paper calendar and organizer. The one she currently uses is the Living Well Planner by Ruth Soukup.
  2. Creating a Posted Schedule. Mark’s family literally has an hour by hour schedule on their wall. This can be a great tool to help keep your sanity and train your children. A good resource for more info and ideas is Managers of Their Homes
  3. Creating Systems. To help your family, you must have systems in place for household tasks, communication, calendaring, school and work management, and much more. A great resource for that process is Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman.
  4. Fixed Schedules. We referenced some articles by Carey Nieuwhof – like this one and this one – that talk about scheduling the important tasks of life and deciding ahead of time what you will do with your time.

While we know that the specifics of these ideas will look different for each person and household, we ended with some UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES:

  1. Work from your energy. You must schedule the time you have the most energy to do your most important work.
  2. Establish goals and work backwards. You must decide what you want your family’s life to look like first. Then plan your schedule and systems accordingly
  3. A Schedule for Man; Not Man for a Schedule. The schedule is a tool to help us do and be who we are called to be, but you have the freedom to make adjustments as unique circumstances occur.
  4. It will be hard. Whenever you create momentum, you also create resistance.

We hope that you will take some time with these resources and principles this week and make a plan for the next steps towards creating time for God, yourself and your family. We’d love to hear your comments and questions. Until next time… Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 18 NOTES

In this EPISODE we have special guest Ryan Akers (and a squeaky chair!) Ryan is a long-time Youth Pastor, and we got to catch up with him while we were attending the COLLIDE Youth Retreat. We had a great conversation and found that he was thinking about a lot of the same things we have been talking about on our podcast.

We challenged Ryan to predict the future and help us see some of the important trends that parents need to be aware of:

  1. Generation Z Thinking: Ryan shared some insight on generational studies and helped us see how young people today are intrinsically thinking differently. One great point was that Gen Z tend to learn through images, personal experiences, and conversations.
  2. Parenting Style Shifts: We talked about some of the differences and challenges in parenting today. One observation that really stood out is adults tend to use the term “concern” over “care” or “caution” when talking about young people. The advice there is to be careful to not move to a controlling parenting style.
  3. Rise of Technology and Shift of Human Relations: Ryan covered a lot of ideas on this topic. He cautioned about the tendency our current culture has to pull away from personal interaction. He shared some of the language he uses in his house – to reflect a good thing, a God thing, and a kind thing each day. He also challenged parents to make conversation about the Bible normal in their houses.
  4. Lastly, Ryan encouraged parents to be faithful to what God has called you to do. Then we trust Him for the outcome.

A few resources Ryan mentioned were Generation Z Unfiltered by Tim Elmore & Andrew McPeak and Jean Twenge, who wrote the book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – And What That Means for the Rest of Us. Twenge also shares a lot of great content on Twitter.

Oh, and if you want to watch that video about Star Wars looking like the future but actually being a long, long time ago, you can watch it here.

We are looking forward to next week as we talk about how to get it all done! Until then…Be Abnormal!