Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

“You married me because I’m really funny, right?”

“You married me because I’m really funny, right?” I say to my husband at least once a week. I’m not sure why my humor is so corny. Okay,  maybe it’s the way I was raised. Example – one of my dad’s funniest jokes was him singing “Juan is the loneliest number”, you know a play off of Three Dog Night’s “One is the loneliest Number.” I have no idea why he even thought this was funny or how it even made sense. But, because he laughed and I love and appreciate my dad and his quirks, I thought it was hilarious. Anyways, I tend to think I’m extremely funny, gut splitting kind of funny. Nobody else seems to think this, except for my husband. I think it just might be because he loves me and all of my little quirks so much.

But, we all like to laugh, don’t we? And marriage is one of the most important places to have humor. Laughter is good medicine, literally. It has important physiological effects on you and your soul mate. The French philosopher Voltaire wrote, “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Modern research shows that people with a sense of humor have fewer symptoms of physical illness than those who are less humorous.

This idea, of course, isn’t new. Since King Solomon’s times, people have known about and applied the healing benefits of humor. As Proverbs tells us, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (17:22)

But humor brings more than physiological benefits to a husband and wife. Humor helps us cope.  Essayist and biographer Agnes Repplier, who was known for her common sense and good judgment, said, “We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.” I believe the implication of her statement is also true: The more you laugh together, the more you love your spouse…and the better family and home life you’ll have.

So, with this in mind, I found some tips on bringing a daily dose of laughter into your marriage:

1.) Lighten up! Don’t take yourself so seriously. To do this simply relax. Remember what matters; your marriage, not your pride.

2.) Poke fun at your spouse…carefully. Example; I have a bad habit. I blow my nose, constantly! But, that’s not the bad part. I tend to leave the tissues in my pockets, forgetting to take them out before my clothes get washed and dried. One afternoon, I was at work and my husband texted me a picture of something, but I couldn’t tell what it was. I called him and he explained that he had been doing laundry, and when he had taken my jeans out of the dryer a few handfuls of shredded tissues fell out and dumped all over our carpet. It was a cute (and very funny) way of saying, “Hey, stop it with the snot rags already, OK? ” We still laugh about it. But now I’m better at remembering to empty my pockets!

3.) Laugh when you don’t feel like it. Especially when you don’t feel like it.

4.) Look for funny things around you. We love to find humor in the silly things. Going to Wal-Mart and playing a scavenger hunt game, going to the mall and making each other try on the most ridiculous outfits, or talking in funny accents in public as long as you can, becoming more and more ridiculous until someone notices. Immature? Maybe. But it keeps us laughing, and keeps us loving!

5.) Study your spouse’s funny bone! This reminds me of a scene in one of my favorite movies, Singing in the Rain. Cosmo is trying to cheer up his dear friend Don Lockwood by singing a song about how everyone loves to laugh, and you just need to find their funny bone! Watch the clip here! Know what makes your spouse laugh, and joke with them!

The bottom line is, everyone wants to laugh. And I can’t think of anyone better to laugh with than my best friend, my husband. You should spend time laughing with yours, too. You’ll see that it’ll improve your health, improve your marriage, and improve the mood and the tone of your whole family.

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A Parent’s ABCs of Self-Esteem

I don’t have very high self-esteem. I tend to be extremely critical of myself and become extremely anxious when someone criticizes me or when it appears that someone doesn’t like me or has issues with me. (even if there’s no problem at all, I will see something that isn’t there) I’ve tried to go to the root of my self-esteem problems, tried to understand where the issue stems from, and tried to meditate on scripture so that I can overcome this issue…but I think this might go along with my depression issues, which, as I’ve blogged about is very difficult to overcome.

I’ve noticed that there are multiple children that I teach on any given Sunday or Wednesday that are seriously struggling with self-esteem issues. This really bugs me. Kids shouldn’t have these heavy issues to deal with yet! But they do. So, how can we train up our kids to have high self-esteem without being self-obsessed or filled with a superiority complex? (We’ll reference focus on the Family and Parenting Author, Dr. Leman)

As a parent, you need to learn the ABCs of instilling self-esteem in your children. What are the ABCs? They are:

  • Acceptance
  • Belonging
  • Competence

Let’s break these down one by one:

Acceptance – You need to accept your child, unconditionally. You may not like the music they listen to, clothes they want to wear, or other kids that they want to play with…but you need to show your child that you accept them, despite those things. (Obviously this is within reason…you don’t want your kids to listen to Marilyn Manson, Wear skimpy clothes, or play with kids who steal or are a definite bad influence on them) If you tell you child constantly that you disapprove of their music, friends, and activities they will begin to look for acceptance from their friends – not from you. This will lead to lower self-esteem and a higher risk of succumbing to peer-pressure. If you want to send a strong message to your child that they are accepted, listen and ask questions to show you care about their interests and concerns. A.K.A., develop a relationship with your kids. Dr. Leman says, “Without a relationship, your rules, your words and your actions mean nothing. The wedge between you and your children will drive them toward Acceptance and Belonging in a group outside your home.”

Belonging – Everybody wants to belong. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. How can you give your kids a sense of belonging? By creating a community within your family. To accomplish this, Dr. Leman suggests giving your children a vote in decisions, listening to what they say and supporting them in their activities. When you have family decisions and a sense of belonging within your family, your children are less likely to try to change their image or personality and values for different peer groups. This will ensure that your kids won’t be influenced by peer-pressure. For example: if you talk to your kids openly about stealing, smoking, drugs, promiscuous behavior, and dangerous behavior and include them on making the rules… your children will be much less likely to stay away from those behaviors because their “family doesn’t do that” rather than, “mom and dad won’t let me.”

Competence –  Children become competent when they experience life first hand. If you are an overprotective parent, you’ll need to fight the urge to do for your kids what they can do for themselves. Don’t micromanage your kids! Nobody enjoys feeling like others find them unable or too irresponsible to complete a task. The most common mistake when people think they’re helping others is saying: I want you to succeed, so I will clear away all of the road blocks or complete the task myself. What you’re really saying is, “You’re too stupid to do this on your own, I need to either complete the task myself,  or make sure you check in with me every step of the way.” When I was 21, I decided that I was going to live in Honduras for a summer and stay at an orphanage. I knew nobody in the entire country. My parents were worried out of their minds, but one of the best decisions that they made was to let me go, and to not contact me at all…letting me contact them only when I needed them. I had an adventure! There were fun times, times that I was depressed, times that I felt like I was in over my head, and I even experienced a few very dangerous situations (that I didn’t tell my parents about until I returned home, of course). But I really learned about how to be independent of my parents, and dependent on God! Of course, your kids will not be traveling independently overseas anytime soon, but as they exert their independence, ask yourself if what you want to protect your children from is necessary. If it’s not a life or death situation (or harmful), allowing your child to make mistakes will help develop their self-esteem.

There you have it: the ABCs of building self-esteem in your kids. Granted, it may not be as easy as singing the song, but with a little practice, your kids can grow up to become confident and responsible adults.

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Why don’t you listen?!

As a Children’s worker, I’m blessed to meet and teach all kinds of kids. There are the kids who memorize every verse, the kids who engage in worship, the kids who excel in inviting and bringing other kids to church, and then there’s the kids who just don’t listen…ever.  The kids that misbehave no matter the disciplinary actions, the positive reinforcements, or the talk with parents. This has made we wonder on several occasions, why don’t you listen? What makes your little brain tick and why won’t you engage with or respect others?

In his book Have a New Kid by Friday, Dr. Kevin Leman asks similar questions, but in relation to parenting. “Why is it that these days that so many children tend to diss their parents, to act disrespectfully? Why are so many parents caught in the roles of threatening and cajoling and never getting anywhere? What’s going on here?”

I know what a lot of you are thinking – it’s that crazy music kids listen to these days, or all the hours of t.v., or of video games. But, what I’ve come to find out is – kids will always misbehave as long as adults let them. For example – having a behavioral system that empowers my leaders to speak to parents about difficult children will only get problems resolved if the parents discipline their children for their unruly behavior.

Leman’s comments lead to several pointed questions: Are you willing to do whatever it takes to take charge of your family? Are you willing to look like the “bad guy” at times in order to parent your children so they will stop rolling over you? Are you ready to be an assertive parent, helping your child become all he can be?

First, let’s look at three ways that we enable children to have bad behavior:

1) No parenting game plan – Parents lead kids much like a coach leads a football team, and to experience victory, parents need a good parenting game plan. Part of having a plan means defining the attitudes, behaviors and character traits you want your children to possess. When you can define these, you’ll be able to begin to develop a plan to become a super parent.

2) Inconsistency –  I’ve learned that children have brains like elephants — they will latch onto even your smallest promises (positive or negative) and remember them a day, week, month or year later. Therefore, I learned that consistency was of utmost importance in discipline. If I say I’m going to make a phone call to a parent due to behavioral issues, I needed to deliver rather than make threats or promises I didn’t intend to keep. And if you don’t do what you say you will, kids won’t respect you.

3) Power Struggles – If your child wants to wear a shirt/skirt combo that makes her look like she dressed herself in a dark closet, and she is very strong-willed, you may ask yourself if it’s worth fighting her to get her to change her duds. On the other hand, if she wants to spend time with a boy in a dark closet, you might want to make a big deal out of that. The battles that you choose to fight will directly affect your child’s level of misbehavior — especially if your child is strong-willed.

Reality Discipline

The first thing to remember about Reality Discipline is that you want your children to learn to think for themselves and learn to become more responsible through guidance and action-oriented techniques. In an article from First Things First, Dr. Leman says, “Action-oriented discipline is based on the reality that there are times when you have to pull the rug out and let the little buzzards tumble. I mean disciplining your children in such a way that he/she accepts responsibility and learns accountability for his actions.

Here’s the little bit of ice cream example from Dr. Leman – Say a mom goes to pick up her son from school, and every day he runs from her to the play ground. If her son ran from her the next time, she should ask another adult on the playground (that she trusts) if they would be kind enough to keep an eye on her son for a few minutes. Then she should drive away, go to the nearest ice cream shop, purchase a cone for herself and drive back to the school to pick up her son. Then, when her little guy got in the car and asked, “Where’s my ice cream?” the woman should cheerfully say, “Well you could have had some ice cream, but you ran away; so I had to go get some alone.”

One point for mom; zero for Junior. That’s Reality Discipline. No ranting. No raving. No warnings. Just cool, collected action with some quick, clever thinking to make your point loud and clear.

Okay, now here’s some basic principles of the Reality Discipline System:

1) Don’t focus on creating a happy child. Focus on creating a responsible child.(It’s okay if your child throws a tantrum for a few times when you start this…they’ll catch on very quickly, and will become more responsible people for it!)

2) Understand your child’s reality. (Example; in my husband’s house growing up, each child had a chore list. And all of the children loved saving up their allowance to buy nice things for themselves. So, their reality was that they valued money. My in-laws decided to implement a system that you received your allowance at the end of each week. The chore list was posted and everyone knew their jobs.  When one child’s job was left undone for the day, another child could complete the job and would get their money out of the first child’s allowance. Talk about staying on top of your chores!)

3) Make sure that the Reality Discipline is grounded in love. If you find that you are a permissive parent who is afraid of “pulling the rug out from under your child” as Dr. Leman suggests, remember that Reality Discipline is not unkind. Instead, when it’s motivated by love to help your child mature into a responsible adult, it’s a very good gift.

Begin working on this, and we’ll talk about building your child’s self-esteem in a healthy way next week!

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Wanna Come to a Festival?

Our Church is having a Fall Festival on October 28th from 4pm-6pm! This would be a great time for your family to come together to have fun and do something festive for the Fall season. We are really excited about how the Festival planning has been going. You can expect:

  • petting zoo
  • games
  • food
  • music
  • prizes
  • pony rides
  • fire truck
  • trunk ‘n treat
  • bounce houses
  • obstacle course
  • costume contest
  • and it’s free!

If you live in the Indianapolis area, come to Trinity Church at 9709 Allisonville Rd Indianapolis, IN 46250 on October 28th from 4pm-6pm for a Great Time!

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Are you a Workaholic?

I like my job. I’m lucky enough to work with kids(which I love), work with people who I like, and I get to do things that I am gifted in doing. But, I think some of us like our jobs too much. We tend to extend our work hours into time that we should be spending with our spouse or our kids. We’ve always praised people who are workaholics, but can being a workaholic be detrimental to your life?

First, let’s see if you’re a workaholic. If you agree to 50% or more of these statements, you’re guilty!

    1. In the free time spent with your friends and family you are talking about work and what you will have to do.
    2. You promise your spouse you will be home for dinner in half an hour but, there will be another couple of hours until you arrive.
    3. You forget to call your family or to take your child from swimming classes because you are working too much.
    4. When it comes to lunch, you skip it constantly or rather eat some junk food.
    5. Even if you get home early you are taking work to finish it home.
    6. Week-ends are not the time to spend with your family. You must work on the project for the next week.
    7. At the end of the day the cleaning person has to wheel you and your chair aside to be able to clean the office.
    8. You enjoy extreme competitiveness but you also need to be in control.
    9. Multi – tasking is not an option for you, it’s the only option.
    10. You are living with nothing else in mind but work.

Did you think of yourself while reading at least 5 of these statements? I know I did. How can workaholics break the cycle of addiction? The first step is recognizing the problem. Whether we’re bona fide volunteeraholics or simply over-functioning parents who have taken on too much, we need to ask ourselves: In our drive to create an illusion of self-worth that’s based on what we accomplish, are we doing irreparable damage to our children, family and friends? If so, what are we going to do about it?

10 steps to finding balance

  • Acknowledge you have a problem.
  • Be accountable to someone for your schedule.
  • Cut out half of your outside involvement.
  • Don’t add a new activity to your schedule without eliminating another.
  • Allow time in your schedule for doing nothing.
  • Set a time budget and live within it.
  • Forget quality time — it’s quantity time that counts.
  • Cherish the time you have with your children now. It can never be reclaimed.
  • Maintain your perspective. There’s a time for everything; maybe it’s just not now.
  • If you’re a workaholic, get help before it’s too late.

I know some of you aren’t taking this seriously, but as I am, my parents were workaholics while I was growing up. They would often leave for work at 7am and not return home until 7pm. My grandmother practically raised me. I never spent time with my parents, and because of that I resented them for many years. I am so thankful that my husband and I have decided before we have kids that we are going to set aside time for each other and for our kids.

What do you do to make sure you turn your “work mode” off?

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October Materials

Here are our Family Ministry resources for the month of October:

All Parents:

Orange Blog

252 Basics (1st grade-6th grade)

Parent Cue

Extra Memory Verse

God Time Week 1

God Time Week 2

God Time Week 3

God Time Week 4

First Look (age 3- Kindergarten)

Parent Cue

Parent Cue Cards

We are kicking off our new fall schedule!

Our TrinityKids services:

9:00 Sunday morning eXplore!

  • Group 3s-kindergarten
  • 1st-4th grade groups based off of The Dig Curriculum
  • 5th-6th grade Grapple Group

10:30 Sunday morning eXclaim!

  • Small groups 3s-Kindergarten
  • Large group for 1st-4th grade
  • 5th-6th grade X-Crew

6:30-7:30 Wednesday night  eXplosion!

  • Game Based Lessons 3s-Kindergarten
  • Game Based Lessons 1st-4th Grade
  • eXtreme56! for 5th-6th Grade (Game Based Lessons with a Youth Group Atmosphere)

The Nursery is always up and running when we have programming!

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Feeling Down?

I have a confession to make. I have some struggles, just like everyone else. One major struggle that I deal with is anxiety and depression. It’s not uncommon for me to still be in bed on a Saturday (or another morning that I don’t need to get up for work) and wish that I could just stay in bed all day. Now, I’m not talking about the occasional, “Oh, my bed feels so warm. I wish I could just snuggle up and read or watch movies all day.” I’m talking about, “I don’t think I can face this day. I have no energy. I feel hopeless.” And then, I feel guilty! For being so blessed in my life, for having it “so good” compared to so many others….and do you know what that leads to? You got it. More depression.

I’ve gone to counseling to try to “solve” my anxiety and depression. But I never have anything to talk about. I’ve tried to take medications as well. They just seem to make me gain weight! (Now, try to tell me that you wouldn’t get MORE depressed if you anti-depression medication was making you blow up like a balloon at a carnival.) Now, I’m not saying that these methods don’t work for people. I’m not even saying that they wouldn’t help me if I found a counselor that I connected to or was put on a different medication. What I’d like to talk about is how my depression and anxiety affects my marriage.

My husband is amazing. He listens to me cry for no reason, he’ll hug me when I get “that look” on my face, and he makes me get up and go on with my life…even when I feel like I can’t sometimes. But even the most compassionate and loving husband would get confused and frustrated when his wife is unhappy and lethargic for no reason. I decided to do some investigation about how I, and some of you out there can either help ourselves or help our spouses to cope with this illness. And how our marriage can thrive in the midst of it.

“Depression is a disease that can make marriage miserable. When one spouse is depressed, it affects both partners. It can rob emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy and drives both parties into isolation.

If your spouse is depressed, you might feel ignored, unimportant and frustrated. Maybe you wonder why your mate can’t just turn off the negativity and get on with life. If you’re the one who is depressed, perhaps you wish that your spouse would get off your back and you’re feeling trapped with little hope for recovery.”

We’ll look at a few points; depressed people feeling guilty, being married to a depressed spouse, and the weapon that depresses depression.

1- Let’s deal with one of the thoughts that I’ve dealt with. Is depression a sin? Can a person be freed from depression?

After research, this is the number one question asked by Christians who deal with depression. (Oh good, I’m not alone!)

Here’s some insight that I’d like to share from Dr. Bruce Hennnigan. “Depression can, in many instances, have a physical cause. So can alcoholism and several other things spoken against in the Bible. Follow me closely here: The tendency toward depression or alcoholism is not a sin; giving in to them, however, is a sin.The alcoholic will probably get drunk when he drinks, so the Christian who is an alcoholic and wants to stay in God’s will must make sure he never takes another drink. Likewise, the person who has a tendency toward depression isn’t at fault if his or her emotions begin a downward spiral. However, how he/she responds to that downward spiral will determine if there is sin.

Action Steps to take:

When you feel depression beginning to take hold of your life, try to do the following:

  1. Make sure you’re still reading the Bible and praying. You have the power, in Christ, to do what God wills.
  2. Thank God for loving you and bringing you through the bout of depression. God’s Word, not your present emotional outlook, is your authority.
  3. Try not to make a major decision while in a depressed frame of mind.
  4. Thank God for taking care of you and loving you even when you can’t feel it or see it. This exercises your faith and strengthens you.”

2- I think my spouse is depressed. What now?

Misconceptions often prevent those with depressive illnesses (including anxiety and panic) from getting treatment. For some, words like mental illness and therapy still make people feel weak or damaged in some way, the whole world able to see what you’re dealing with. In reality, depression can be much less obvious. Even so, it still debilitates and destroys its victims if left untreated.

A few key signs of depression are:

  • Daily sadness
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Restless, anxious or irritable behavior
  • Trouble concentrating, focusing or remembering
  • Excessive weariness and lethargy
  • Sleeping or eating too much or too little
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

If you recognize any of these symptoms persisting in a spouse for more than a few weeks, check with your family doctor.

Tips from Carolyn MacInnes on helping your spouse:

“When a care-giver understands that clinical depression is a genuine medical condition, he or she may actually feel empowered. It’s encouraging to realize there are a number of tangible ways to help a spouse who is depressed:

Do

  • Pray fervently with and for them.
  • Share meaningful Scripture verses.
  • Help them see that the family needs them to get well.
  • Listen; give credibility to their feelings.
  • Seek help for yourself and offer to see a therapist with them.
  • Encourage them to consider medication; research shows that 80% of those suffering from depressive disorders can be treated successfully with modern medications.
  • Show affection; encourage them to get out and do things with you.

Don’t

  • Tell your loved one to just pray about it or make them feel like healing would come if they’d simply trust God more.
  • Make them feel guilty for the impact of their illness on the family.
  • Blame or criticize them.
  • Imply that they need help because they’re weak. Also, don’t immediately exclude other family members from counseling. Sometimes, complex relational issues involving several family members can spark depression.
  • Expect medication to solve everything. Also, don’t discount the need for prayer — and possibly therapy.
  • Let them continue in a pattern of sleep and isolation.

3- Let’s beat this thing!!!

Doctors Mark A. Sutton, Bruce Hennigan, M.D. suggest that the best way to beat depression is perseverance. “After realizing you are experiencing a depressive episode, how do you react? If you are like many I’ve counseled, you give up. You throw up your hands and say, “Depression is here again. There’s nothing I can do about it.” And then you let the disease dictate how you will react emotionally. Black moods and periods of doubt control you until the depression leaves and the cycle, for the moment, is complete. Then you wait, without realizing it, for the next cycle to begin.”

But what if we changed the cycle? Believe it or not, it is within our power to do so.We may not be able to stop depression, but we can choose how to respond to it. Here’s where the weapon of perseverance delivers a mortal blow to the enemy. Tell depression: “I’m never giving up or giving in to you. You may continue to plague me, but I’ll fight you with everything I’ve got. My emotions don’t belong to you, and I refuse to let them be held hostage without a fight. You may knock me down, but I’ve decided to keep on getting up. And I’ll fight you every time.

What does this type of attitude accomplish?

  • It breaks your usual cycle. You no longer simply give up when depression hits you.
  • The process of deciding to fight depression, even when you don’t feel like doing so, begins to give you more control over your emotions and helps you no longer feel like a victim.
  • As you decide to fight depression every time it appears, you build confidence in yourself. In many cases this shortens the amount of time depression stays with you.
  • Using the weapon of perseverance on a regular basis builds powerful habits in your behavior. Use it long enough and eventually you begin fighting depression when it appears without even realizing it!

Deuteronomy 31:8 –” The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

And here’s what I want to leave you with. Depression happens. It’s horrible. But, we will overcome…and, just think of how much greater Heaven will be for those of us who struggle here on earth?

Also, read the Psalms. They will encourage you in times of trouble and remind you that God will never leave you. He’s always there. Even in the bad times.

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