What’s the Point of All of This?

A majority of this blog’s content comes from the Empowered to Connect Training material. Danielle and I are certified trainers and will offer the course a couple of times in 2015 in the Austin area.
What’s the point of all of this if you’re not going to let it change you?Francis Chan

Far too often foster and adoptive parents focus all their attention on the change and healing that their child needs and ignore what needs to change in themselves. However, what you bring to the parent-child relationship matters—a lot.   We all bring, as parents, our own history, motivations, and expectations into the relationship. In order to help your child build trust, heal and grow you need to focus on your past, your future, and your present. This allows you as a parent to be fully present in each and every moment to help your child heal.

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Is Your History Getting in the Way?

Become aware of how your past may be affecting your relationship with your child and be open to change. This will require learning how to “pay attention to what you are actually paying attention to” (Dr. Curt Thompson). In other words, do you pay attention to your “default mode” of responding to your child’s behavior?

A large part of understanding your default mode of responding is to evaluate your attachment style which most likely developed in your early childhood. I wrote about this in this blog—What Is Your Attachment Dance? I encourage you to read that to find out your attachment style.

I recognized that I default to a dismissive style which means I will pull away when things get hard. Not exactly what my son who experienced abandonment needs from me. Instead I need to work on staying fully present. If I do that, my son has a better chance of learning how to relate and respond in relationships.

You cannot lead a child to a place of healing if you do not know the way yourself. Dr. Karyn Purvis

When children move into a home, they will use the patterns of attachment that they already know. However, these patterns are malleable. They can change over time as a result of increased support, resources or therapy. Parents will want to direct children into secure base attachments. Children cannot develop patterns of attachment that are of the secure base style unless the parents themselves are capable of this type of attachment.
Nurturing Adoptions: Creating Resilience After Neglect and Trauma

 Own Your Stuff

When we encounter behavioral challenges and conflict with our children, it is important that we ask this important questions: What part of this is really about me? Which of my buttons are being pushed? Why does this bother me so? 

Keep in mind that just because your own stuff may be getting in the way, it does not mean that you ignore or excuse wrong behaviors. Neither does it mean that you fail to correct. But it does mean that you need to be aware of what you are contributing to the dynamic, and then be willing to own your part in it and begin to address it so that you can be more fully available to meet your child’s needs and move forward together.

I find myself doing this in real time with my son. For example, he is struggling with the fact that his friends who live next door are moving very soon. At three and a half, he doesn’t know how to process it, but he acts out in different ways—clingy/separation anxiety, chewing on his clothing, deliberate disobedience, etc. Boy can his behavior push my buttons!

Many times I can I see how I am responding to him (or I notice my wife’s look!). Sometimes I can change my behavior or pay attention to how I am responding in order to stay in the moment with my son. This helps him regulate and relate better. Then other times either I have to remove myself from the situation or just watch it all blow up. Which leads me to another parenting tool:

Repair Your Mistakes

No matter how hard you try to get it right you will make mistakes. Believe it or not that’s not all bad! While you certainly would never intentionally make mistakes with your child, being intentional to quickly repair the mistakes you do make can make a tremendous difference for both you and your child. When you repair your mistakes quickly, humbly, and sincerely you are training your child because you:

  • Model right behavior and healthy ways of relating. It helps your child understand that everyone in the family “owns their stuff” and that you solve problems together.
  • Teach the importance of forgiveness and illustrate how it should look. This helps your child learn the value of forgiveness and gives her practice seeking and giving it.
  • Promotes healthy brain development which helps your child create new synaptic connections in the brain (in your brain too!)

 

Want More? Watch Dr. Karyn Purvis explain how making mistakes can help your child grow (if you intentionally repair!)

We need to explore more about “being present” and how to arrive there, so stay tuned for “part 2″ of this article posted next Friday.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge to being present for your child?

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Revival Cry: Contending for Transformation in this Generation

I began reading Revival Cry written by my friend and pastor of Northwest Fellowship in Austin, Trey Kent. Trey is a catalyst here in Austin in calling us to pray for our city and our generation. I have learned a lot from him. This book is a good follow up to my blog—Have We Found a Better Way?

Be challenged along with me will you?

Revival Cry: Contending for Transformation in This Generation

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Have We Found a Better Way?

Several years ago I had a guy speak a word of prophecy to me. He didn’t know me nor I him. I don’t even remember his name. He described me as being like a maverick horse running around and around a pen of tame horses. A rebellious and adventurous heart yet desiring to belong to a loving and caring master.

Photo Credit: 89523weathernerd via Compfight cc

Sadly, that does describe me all too often. Like I blogged in We Have a Runner!, I tend to wander too easily from the God I love.

I look at my life and it’s no wonder that I don’t experience more of His power and peace. I lean on my own understanding, I rely on my own wisdom. I am self-reliant. If I seek counsel at all it is from others before Him. The paradox is that I want to be a godly man without submitting to the God who I want to be like. The result is not pretty. I am prideful, arrogant, covetous, lustful and quarrelsome. I am sinful.

Last week I met a dear friend for coffee. He too bemoaned about some of this in his own life. He asked a powerful rhetorical question—“Have we found a better way?” He was referring to how we don’t spend time praying and seeking God, especially corporately much anymore. In the old days we called this a prayer meeting.

Churches have abandoned calling people together to pray. I can understand why. I attended several “pray meetings” when I was younger. Only a fraction of the church attended and to be honest, it was boring. I think we spent more time talking to each other than we did to the God of the universe.

Have we/I replaced seeking this God with events, concerts, and mere discussions about God?

How to Be Free with Your Money

This is a guest post based on a Bible Study by Donnie Dixon. Donnie is the Founding and current Family Pastor of The Church at Canyon Creek in Austin, Texas. Donnie has over 25 years of pastoral experience. He and his wife, Carolyn, have four boys.

What does being free with your money mean? Carefree? Expecting free money? No! How about emotional freedom; free from debt; and freedom to give? You bet! God desires money and freedom to be compatible. Unmanageable debt imprisons us.

 

Photo Credit: bill.sarris via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: bill.sarris via Compfight cc

The average US household credit card debt stands at $15,191, the result of a few deeply indebted households forcing up the numbers. Based on an analysis of Federal Reserve statistics and other government data, the average household owes $7,087 on their cards; looking only at indebted households, the average outstanding balance rises to $15,191. Here are statistics, trends, studies and method behind the average U.S. household debt. (current April 2014)

Debt is like a crazy aunt we keep down in the basement. All the neighbors’ know she’s there, but nobody wants to talk about her. Ross Perot

The Bible teaches us how to be free with our money.

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Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

3DPlatformCover-2Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

Platform has become my text book to guide my efforts to build a successful platform for my new online presence. Even though my main focus is writing, the need for an effective online presence has never been more important. If you are a blogger or any kind of business owner that knows you should understand more about building an online platform, I strongly recommend this book.

Check out this video to hear Michael Hyatt explain in his own words what his book can do for you.

What Really Keeps You from Writing that Book?

I have mentioned before that since becoming a writer (did I just call myself a writer?) several people have commented on how they have always wanted to write a book. “I have a story to tell!” “I really think what I have been through can help others.” “I have half of a manuscript written!”

 

Photo Credit: Incessant Flux via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Incessant Flux via Compfight cc

Usually the next thing that they say is something about how they will never write it or they don’t have the time, or they don’t know how to get started.

I understand. It is hard. It does take time. It is challenging to know how to begin.

But isn’t anything that is worth doing hard, takes time and challenging? Of course it is!

Will anyone want to read what I write?

Some will. Some won’t. And that’s ok!

I had to press through this one.

Understanding How Fear Impacts a Child

What do you do when you are afraid? Do you ball up your fists ready to fight? Or maybe you take off running as fast you can to get away from the danger. Perhaps you freeze not able to move a muscle or think rationally.

What if you experienced chronic fear putting you on a constant state of alert? Would you be able to handle even the most basic tasks of life? How well would you relate to others? Could you even contemplate making plans for the future besides how you can survive?

 

Photo Credit: Marta A Orlowska via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Marta A Orlowska via Compfight cc

 

Often we identify bad behavior in a child as hyper-activity or defiance when in fact it might be hyper-vigilance or fear driven.

In hyper-vigilance, there is a perpetual scanning of the environment to search for sights, sounds, people, behaviors, smells, or anything else that is reminiscent of threat or trauma. The individual is placed on high alert in order to be certain danger is not near. Hyper-vigilance can lead to a variety of obsessive behavior patterns, as well as producing difficulties with social interaction and relationships. (Wikipedia)

A child from a hard place many times have lived in a state of chronic fear, maybe for years. The result is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

A study published in 2005 found that foster children are almost twice as likely to suffer from PTSD than U.S. war veterans

Why Is the Church Afraid of Upsetting the Status Quo?

In his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin talks about the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer.

Organizations are filled with human thermometers. They can criticize or point out or just whine…The thermostat, on the other hand, manages to change the environment in sync with the outside world.Seth Godin

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What does the average person think of the people who week in and week out file into a church building to meet for a few hours then go home only to do the same thing the following week?

Does the ritualistic activity have any bearing on those who are not a member of that organization? Does that person even notice anymore that the organization exists?

I have attended church for as long as I can remember. And, I have been a “member” of several churches over the years, even served on staff of some. Sadly, I report that most, if not all, of them tried their best to keep things as they are resisting any kind of change that might cause harm to the organization.

What happens is that the church becomes rigid, afraid of upsetting the status quo, becoming full of members who “criticize, point out what is wrong, or just whine.”

We Have a Runner!

Recently our three-year-old son takes off running with no warning. I like watching him enjoy the freedom to explore his world. So usually I let him run as long and as far as he wants—within limits. But sometimes I go after him. Sometimes angrily. Sometimes laughing as I follow him.

 

 

The other day at church we took him to his Sunday morning class. We walked into the room. He looked around, then he bolted out the door, out the building and across the front lawn of the church with me in a fast walk behind him.

Our son didn’t look back to see if I was following him. He just ran. I have no idea what he had on his mind. Probably didn’t want to be in the classroom that day. Maybe he just wanted to see how fast he could run, or see what was around the corner.

Our son didn’t look back…He just ran.
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Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach

My friend Lance Bane turned me onto this book a couple of years ago. I continually go back to this book as a great resource.

If you have any kind of relationship where you invest in another person’s life—a child, peer, employee, or mentee—the principles taught in this book will revolutionize the way you pour into their lives.

leadershipcoachingnewmipLeadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach