MOPS Session Notes: Letting Go
by Jen Hatmaker on August 8th, 2011

Last Friday, I woke up at 3:30am, caught the earliest flight to Nashville, hung out with a few thousand crazy women, taught for one hour, and flew home. It was the 2011 MOPS Convention, and trust me, this thing is always a good time. They brought in Max Lucado, Mandisa, Travis Cottrell, Lisa Harper, Jon Acuff, Steven Curtis Chapman, Kathi Lipp, and a bunch of other rock stars this year. I slid in and pretended like I had any business being there.

Women kept saying, "We can't believe you're here! How do you feel about being here?? Was it so hard to leave? With Remy at home??" And after deciding to say the true thing instead of the nice thing, I answered: "It feels awesome."

Whatever. It did.

Assuming we would bring home our two new darlings this SPRING, I basically took this year off from traveling and teaching. If you would've told me in February that we would bring only one kid home at the end of July, I would've punched you in the spleen. So I haven't taught this year at all, and lawd have mercy, I've missed it.

Of course, I laid awake the night before, fretting like I often do before a talk. Here I was headed to MOPS Convention, where all the mamas are measuring their days in poop blowouts and mourning the loss of peeing in private, and rather than bring a helpful message on how to just get through the freaking day, I'm bringing a discussion on our postmodern children and how to let them fail and maybe go to Africa instead of college.

You can see why I'm so popular.

But even after sweating it out pre-session in the bathroom (for 20 minutes), fussing over my notes and wondering for the thousandth time why God always makes me talk about these things when other speakers get to talk about fun things, I remembered after the session why this sort of stuff is my deal. When the women flood the book table with tears and stories and that look on their faces, and they nod and grab me by the hands and say:

I get it.
This is how I've been feeling.
This is what my husband says.
This is what my kids say.
I was just having this conversation.
I've been trying to explain this.
My heart is saying there has got to be more.
This is my tension.

Then I remember: God is doing something big and deep and important in the body of Christ right now, and I am but one tiny little voice joining a chorus. The Holy Spirit is moving and messing a lot of us up right now, and I may have the words, but thousands, millions of us are having the same feelings.

So as promised, I'm posting all my "notes" from my session, a term I'm using loosely here since I went through my notes and expanded/decoded all the cryptic chicken scratch and basically transcribed the entire hour+ talk. I was going to include just the modern/postmodern discussion, but then I couldn't find a good stopping place and then all of a sudden I was at the end.

I would love to hear your input, folks, because this is stuff we better take seriously as parents and Christ-followers. We are raising a different generation than the one we grew up in. The tension many of us carry with the gospel and the church and authority in general is undoubtedly the theme song of our kids' generation, and they are headed into the next phase of culture, with or without us. Let's make sure it is "with."

Without further ado...the quantity of notes I'm about to post is ridiculous, the formatting is all jacked, and if you actually get through this and still have something coherent to add at the end, I will give you a cash prize.

Letting Go

Life is messy. Parenting is messy. Kids are messy. The Christian life is messy. And that is ok.
• Our worst enemy as moms is trying to maintain the illusion of control. And not just because it’s hard to keep that up, but because it actually sabotages our own and our kids’ spiritual development.
o It substitutes some “ideal, dream life” for the one we actually see in Scripture, which is laced with adventure and risk and failure and sacrifice and transparency.
o The whole concept of “letting go” begins in our hearts and minds. The practical application comes second, not first. This is something I wish I’d heard when my kids were babies. I think I would’ve found a lot of freedom I craved in those early years
o The time to define your parenting philosophy is now.

Defining characteristics of our kids’ generation:
• We are standing on the fault line of a huge paradigm shift in our culture, and it is a transition from one worldview to another. Most of us have a foot in both.
• Not an endorsement or a criticism - both views have the fingerprint of God in them…neutral information, but this is the world our kids are growing up in, so it is essential to our discussion of parenting. We can’t parent what we don’t understand.

BOIL THIS WAY DOWN, a total reductionist explanation:

Modern thought was the driving worldview for the last 3 centuries: Birthed through the Renaissance, Industrial Revolution, modern invention, opened up “The Age of Reason”:
• Marked by: rational linear thinking, pragmatic thought, science, education, dogmatism, individualism, fundamentalism and absolute truth, authority was unquestioned and respected…emphasis on the individual man’s capabilities, logic, and knowledge
o Modern soundbyte: “I have all the answers, and so can you.”
o Affected how the Christian life was interpreted: faith was proved through factual research (systematic theology classes abounded), apologetics was the primary evangelical tool, come to Christ as a logical, measurable decision (I walked the aisle when I was nine…)
• Christianity was tightly organized around gaining biblical knowledge -“discipleship”
o Modern thought affected Christian parenting:
• The drive to control our environment, plus black-and-white thinking created a very one-way relationship btw parents and kids:
• I am the authority. The end. That is all that should matter to you.
• The rhythm of family life was not a discussion or a group process
• “The way things are” and “the way we think and believe” was pretty much set by the parents, and questions weren’t encouraged.

Postmodern thought is the prevalent mindset/worldview of people today, specifically our kids. So love it or hate it or ignore it, this is the world our kids will grow up in and marry and have children and discover Jesus, so we owe it to them to take a careful look at what it is and be careful and humble learners:
• Marked by: spirituality, experience, community, betterment of the world, justice, creativity, relative truth, environmentalism, globalism, deconstruction/skepticism, and authenticity
o Postmodern soundbyte: “I don’t have all the answers, and neither do you.”
• Our kids are part of a postmodern generation who is highly skeptical of authority and aren’t going to believe or do something because of tradition
o They’ve been let down by parents, government, spiritual leaders…
o They are going to understand God through story and community and justice, not apologetics and dogmatic theology.
• Most churches are still operating out of a modern mindset, and you’ll notice that teens and young adults are FLOODING out of the church.
• PM’s have a genuine distrust of organized religion and perceive it to be arrogant and consumer-obsessed.
• They will respond to parenting marked by humility and authenticity, not control and power.
o They will be moved by how we live for Jesus far more than what we say about him.
o They want to experience the rich, meaningful Jesus…not be entertained or impressed.
o Consumerism to the neglect of a suffering world will turn our kids off. If we want to bring them deeper in the heart of Jesus, we are going to have to care about the people Jesus cared about.
o Our deeds will matter far more than our creed. PM’s want authenticity above all else, so empty words have no chance.
• We must consider this paradigm shift, because the words we’ve puppeted for years have lost their meaning and will be mostly ineffective with our kids.
o We can try to shove a square peg in a round hole, but maybe we should be willing to learn about this postmodern generation, let go a little here and parent the kids we have, not the kids we were.
o Bottom line: Knowing they WILL EVENTUALLY buck dogmatic authority and hyper-controlling Mamas, we have to parent our kids wisely, first through the grid of the gospel and second through the grid of their culture.

Phase 2: Letting go of some old dreams for our kids that are not only unbiblical, but they will rob our children of their true life’s work.
How can we unhinge our kids from the dream this world wants to sell them and attach them securely to God’s dream for their lives? Jesus made his dream for us very clear, and he called it “the kingdom.”
What is the kingdom?
• Jesus described the kingdom constantly, in sort of cryptic ways:
o It’s a new way of living, like a hidden treasure, like yeast changing the dough, it belongs to the poor and meek and the humble and children, it is precious and surprising, the arrogant can’t even recognize it in front of their faces, the lower you are, the easier the kingdom is to embrace
• “kingdom” = “dream”…Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven = God, may all your dreams for this planet come true.
o God has dreams for us: salvation, mission, redemption, community…
o God has dreams for this earth: no more hunger, healed families, healed land, justice, His glory…
• This is the dream we want to plant deeply into our children’s hearts.
• What dream are we giving them? Most of us are imprinting our kids with the American Dream
o Most of our parenting choices, goals, efforts are geared toward their success, happiness, security, comfort, and prosperity
o We sprinkle Jesus in there but not enough to alter their entire life’s course– more like a system for acting good
• We take our kids’ lives and add Jesus to it; don’t start with Jesus’ kingdom and process our kids lives through it. True biblical dreams for our kids are so rare:
• How many of us are dreaming that our kids will live among the poor one day? Or foster a bunch of kids? Or spend their lives on justice? Or love Jesus to the exclusion of every normal sounding achievement?

o This old way is not holding.
• We are not making disciples. The postmodern generation is rejecting the church in record numbers.
• Our kids are not going to be afraid of risk and sacrifice like we are, and they are unwilling to turn a blind eye to the brokenness of the world, so if the dream we teach them is about gaining the treasures of this world while behaving and tithing, that is not inspiring enough to keep their loyalty.
o Our goal is not to get them to behave well; our goal is to teach them to love Jesus in the most reckless, single-minded way.
• I have a daughter telling me she might bow out of college for awhile to live in Africa.
• I have a son who can’t stand children’s church because he cannot see what the silly songs and videos and craft projects have to do with the Jesus he knows from the Bible. 9 years old.
• A couple of months ago, our teenagers from church slept on the streets downtown for an entire weekend to identify with the homeless and walk a day in their shoes.
• Are we willing to get ok with this? Because this is the heartbeat of the next generation, WITH OR WITHOUT US.

• We love Romans 8:28 for our kids, but do we actually understand the very next verse?
o Being “conformed into the image of Jesus” is not a pretty process, because our kids are born into sin and God has messy, real work to do to transform them into disciples.
• This process involves sacrifice and loss and struggle and failure and courage and maybe even danger and cultivating a single-minded obsession with the kingdom.
• They may embarrass us or disappoint us or scare us as they wrestle with God, but can we see his redemptive hand in their lives even then?
• When have we grown the most? Changed the deepest? STRUGGLE. Failure. Loss. Risky obedience. Messy relationship mending.
• Our kids are the same. Our job is not to shield them from everything hard, but to parent them through it with wisdom and discernment.
• We should not pull our kids completely out of this culture in some sort of parallel Christian universe, but teach them to navigate the real world with grace and conviction.
o This requires a gradual process of letting go, so our kids can actually live a real life with real people and real problems and discover the real God who shows up there.

What do we do???

There are some postmodern ideals that line up nicely with the kingdom, and if we want to raise children who love Jesus passionately and pour their lives out for his kingdom, we need to capitalize on them.

1.) PM’s are wildly attracted to those who love the unlovely and care about the poor.
a. Guess who else is into that? Jesus. He’s obsessed.
b. Want to show your children the Jesus they’ll follow for life? Love broken, poor, marginalized people. Love them like crazy.
i. Your attention to the poor and unlovely will go a million miles further with your kids than checking off a devotional every night.
ii. Giving you permission to pull out of some Christian program to make space for actual ministry, particularly to the marginalized (Do we really need to serve the saved any more?)
c. Have littles? This can fit into your life.
i. Open your home, take sandwiches to the homeless in your city one afternoon, connect with foster kids and families, sponsor international kids, send care packages to orphanages, let your kids see you hug necks and kiss cheeks and pray with hurting people and welcome them into your life.
ii. Pepper your language and prayers with words about people at the bottom.
iii. Make tangible financial sacrifices YOUR KIDS CAN SEE and reallocate that money to the most desperate people you can find.
1. You cannot put a price on this sort of discipleship.
2. Be warned: this is transformative for you too.

2.) PM kids will respond to authenticity and honesty and genuine parents, as opposed to a very controlling, dogmatic appearance-based approach.
a. Don’t hear me say we should all be loosey-goosey, hippie-dippy parents who have no rules and just live by their feeeeeeeelings.
i. We are still responsible for leading our children in the ways of Jesus, but our kids will be watching for transparency…I cannot tell you how much this will matter.
b. This gets real tangled up with how we want people to think of us.
i. We’re uncomfortable with failure; ours and certainly our kids. Our instincts tell us to protect our image to a watching world as moms who are doing everything right and whose kids are always happy and well-behaved
ii. This creates bondage, because in the name of measuring up, we’re doing our kids a real disservice by robbing them of the messiness that is the actual Christian life and preparing them for an unreal world where sin and problems are hidden away and only accomplishments are paraded
1. Bible is clear: Hiding produces shame.
2. Shame sometimes prevents bad behavior, but it doesn’t bring life or freedom or grace

c. False or unrealistic expectations can destroy a healthy family.
i. Some of you didn’t expect what you have (more babies by now, less babies by now, difficult child, child with special needs, job situation you don’t want, you want to be home, you want to be back at work….)
1. Let go of what you expected, and embrace what you have
a. The tug of war between expected and actual is what kills the spirit.
ii. God does his best work in reality. That gap between expected and actual is where grace takes over.
1. Tell your kids: It’s ok to mess up. I don’t expect you to be perfect and I will not be a perfect parent. Say those words, and you’ll create a house of grace.
2. Let them risk something and fail…even if you knew they would.
3. Then teach them what to do with failure: this will serve them the rest of their lives: we apologize, we try again, we try a different way, we learn from it, we don’t regret every mistake.
4. Say “I’m sorry” often and sincerely. Accept your kids’ apologies.
5. Let them enter a hard or challenging or difficult relationship with your guidance….you do the same and let your kids watch you navigate it with grace and truth.
6. Help your kids make amends for their mistakes without shaming or humiliating them. Act proud of how they respond to failure, not just when they get things right the first time.
a. They’ll learn that they can mess up, and no one will die.

d. Imagine your role as a coach rather than a dictator; this perspective will help our kids move from dependence to independence, and it eliminates the controlling approach we know our kids will rebel against.
i. Shift in thinking: “What do you want to accomplish?” and guide them into making their own decisions on how to get there.
ii. A coach asks good questions: What would it look like if…?
iii. Keep their goals in front of them, and shut down the lecture circuit.
iv. Speak of God’s plan for their lives from the time they are in diapers:
1. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” What would ‘well done’ look like here? What would servanthood look like here?

3.) Trust God that he is playing a crucial role in our kids’ lives, and we are just one piece of their story; we can fail and make all sorts of heinous mistakes, and God is still sovereign over our children. We are not responsible for controlling every minute detail of their lives.
a. Our authority over them is only the first small fraction of their timeline, but God’s leadership lasts their entire lives. We better get them properly introduced.
i. Let’s teach our kids to love Jesus, not a set of rules. We should be talking about his character and love and passion and heroics as much as we are talking about biblical behaviors.
b. As we consider the scary concept of letting them go, hear this: Our kids will not get lost in culture if they have experienced the dynamic, loving, radical Jesus.
i. If they know him in a life-changing way, they will learn to engage culture as a change agent and advocate without getting tainted by its influence.
ii. This is how God designed the kingdom. He raises up disciples and releases them on the planet.
1. There is no prototype for this. Your kids don’t have to fit an image or a mold or follow a specific script and neither do you.
2. God has always allowed every sort of personality and quirk and unlikely disciple into the family.
c. Believe it or not, the kids who go to Sunday School and Awanas and don’t drink in high school and go to college and vote Republican and keep everything between the lines are not a discipleship-prototype. Just let go of that notion.
i. There are actually all sorts of radical, unconventional pathways in the kingdom.
1. It’s made up of artists and dreamers and rapscallions and risk-takers and strange birds and dark horses and redeemed screw-ups and even suburban moms.
2. Do not fear if you or your family or your child colors outside the lines or wanders down unlikely roads or zigs left when everyone else zigs right, because if they love Jesus and contend for his glory in their few days on this earth, then they will indeed hear one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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Christa - August 8th, 2011 at 8:48 PM
I love you. Amen.
Lisa - August 8th, 2011 at 9:10 PM
Wow. Feeling uncomfortable. Which is good. I think. You do that so often to me. Thank you.
Cindy - August 8th, 2011 at 9:18 PM
Ashley - August 8th, 2011 at 9:53 PM
This is great stuff...thanks for posting!
Ann Terese Brandt - August 8th, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Love it Jen! Such a great reminder and a challenge for the areas we have lost intentionality in.
Emily Hamlin - August 8th, 2011 at 11:00 PM
Jen - your message "Letting Go" was fantastic. I have to admit that it wasn't what I was expecting. That's not a complaint. I feel blessed to have been there to hear what God placed on your heart to share with us. I truly appreciate the information given and the challenge issued. Bless you for having the courage to remind us that the ultimate goal is not to just make it through the day (even though that sometimes seems tough enough), but to equip the next generation of God's Kingdom to do greater things than we have. Thank you!
Marla Taviano - August 8th, 2011 at 11:26 PM
I. Love. This. And YOU. And I'd give my right arm (okay, so I'm left-handed) to sit down face-to-face and talk with you about all this. THANK YOU.
AK - August 9th, 2011 at 8:48 AM
This makes me want to stop closing my front door when I see my weird and lonely pregnant neighbor outside, hoping I will bring my kids out to play with her daughter.
Susie - August 9th, 2011 at 9:28 AM
Talk about hitting the nail on the head! My son is 19 and I see so much of what you're talking about in him. He couldn't care less about tradition and doing what's always been done. He's interested in what is real and what has the most/best impact on his world right now. Theology is interesting, but not always practical. Long before he was even a teen, he was teaching me how to be his parent. He would not hold with hypocrisy, he wanted to help the less fortunate, he always fought for the underdog. Now, I see him as an adult and I realize that I had no clue as to how to be any kind of parent, let alone a "good" one. He's an amazing man and I know that it was all God. But, he always took God at face value. He didn't have to explain away why things are the way they are, he didn't need to prove anything, it's just always been his way to make things better.
I wish you'd written this - and I'd read it 19 years ago - but I think God wrote a lot of it on our hearts anyway. We've said from day one that our son belonged to God and we were just the insanely lucky couple that got to keep him until it's time for him to go out into to world to do his Father's work. God knew that we wouldn't be the greatest parents in the world, but He also knew that we wouldn't get in His way.
Amanda - August 9th, 2011 at 11:27 AM
I don’t know what happened when I read this…but something shifted in me.

I feel like I should buckle up. I’ve been telling Jesus that I want MORE of him, and I had a sense that something needed to change, just didn't know what. I’ve been so locked into (and attempting to lock my kids into) the whole post-modern thing – had no idea there was a name for it. It feels safe. It's how I was raised. Didn’t really even know that there was another way. Scary. And exciting. Feels freeing. Stuffs gotta change. No idea where to start. I feel like crying…and running. I’ll go with crying for now. Thank you!

Amanda - August 9th, 2011 at 11:48 AM
...I meant 'modern'. That's what I'm used to. That's where I've been stuck.

This line: "Believe it or not, the kids who go to Sunday School and Awanas and don’t drink in high school and go to college and vote Republican and keep everything between the lines are not a discipleship-prototype. Just let go of that notion."

It's my favorite. And what you wrote right after that. So good! Profound, really.

Janna - August 9th, 2011 at 3:59 PM
I LOVE this. It speaks straight to my heart as I struggle through my parenting journey in a different world/atmosphere than I was raised in.

You are the Thanks.
Kelly Jarrell - August 9th, 2011 at 4:57 PM
When are we going to stop asking kids, "what are you going to be when you grow up?" (I'm guilty of this myself) and start asking them, "what gifts and talents do you have that you can serve Jesus with when you grow up?" I feel like I have been doing some zigging while many of those around me in my affluent suburban community are zagging, and it can be a very lonely existence. Thanks for the reminder that I am not alone!
Lyneeta - August 9th, 2011 at 7:51 PM
Mandy Mills - August 9th, 2011 at 8:55 PM
I was that girl at the end of the session with tears in my eyes....You presentation was awesome and moving. You, well the Lord, has inspired me to really look into the adoption process. When I got home and told my husband what happened to me, he was surprisingly on board. We are praying, praying, and praying. We are researching and looking for an agency right now. I'm totally scared, nervous, anxious, and actually ready for this new chapter in our lives. So, thank you for being brave and doing what you do!! Preach it sister!
Julie - August 9th, 2011 at 9:10 PM
This was my favorite at MOPS convention! I was hoping you were going to tell me a 4 step process to stop worrying and hovering, something sweet, simple and aligning with the American dream. Wow, am I ever glad you taught this instead. Thanks for putting the notes up so I can share with all of my friends who couldn't be there. Lots to think about!
Maria - August 10th, 2011 at 9:56 PM
This was exactly what I was expecting as well, but I left that convention really challenged and energized to go back and tell my husband all about this! He always talks about post-modern ideals (he's a youth pastor), but I never really "got it" until this workshop. It's days later and I'm stil digesting what this all means in my life. Thank you so much for your transparency and authenticity and letting the Lord work through you in this workshop. I wish you were a main session speaker - I feel like everyone needs to hear this!!
Crystal - August 10th, 2011 at 2:10 PM
Yes . . . YES! I was in the throes of late pregnancy and my husband leaving last summer when my summer Bible study did Interrupted and I remember then understanding, I mean, REALLY getting that "the lower you are, the easier the kingdom is to embrace." Not that my situation was a good thing at all, but God wasn't going to waste ONE moment of it. And He hasn't. Nothing like becoming a single mom to three young kids to throw that American dream against the wall and kill it.

And this today . . . YES. I get this. This here, "When have we grown the most? Changed the deepest? STRUGGLE. Failure. Loss. Risky obedience. Messy relationship mending. Our kids are the same. Our job is not to shield them from everything hard, but to parent them through it with wisdom and discernment."

I'm living this, and testifying that you cannot and should not shield your kids from the hurts that are bound to come. But God be glorified, He is able. He gives wisdom to those who ask for it. He brings amazing blessings from being obedient to dying to yourself and taking up your cross, and being honest and authentic with your kids. I'm learning to stop giving into this fear that because my kids don't have the All-American, Christian 2 parent home they're doomed to messed-up relationships and bad decision making. God's bigger than that. They have a mama that is stupid-crazy about Jesus and takes Him at His word.

Loved this. Made my day. Thank you!
Amy Patrick - August 11th, 2011 at 9:05 AM
What an honor it was to have you at MOPS Convention and to be able to greet for your workshop and chat with you for a minute. My husband and I are certainly feeling that God is doing a great work in our family this year. We have been on a quest for health and fitness that has resulted in us losing 150 lbs combined (of course he's the one who lost 80 because men are like that :p ). Now we're feeling God is opening our hearts to those around us in need and to teaching our children about the reality of the needs in our world. I have been using the Compassion website and online game to give them a glimpse into what life is like in 3rd world countries. We are also praying about sponsoring our first child through Compassion and feel completely committed to having our kids involved in this process. Not because we have extra money or because of any guilt, but because God is calling us to teach these children in new and radical ways.

Thank you for allowing God to use you to reinforce this calling!
Sally - August 11th, 2011 at 5:08 PM
God Bless You Jen Hatmaker for putting into words what a lot of our hearts were telling us! I so agree with the line Amanda quoted. I just know there is more to this life!
Nikki - August 12th, 2011 at 11:40 PM
You articulate my feelings and I love to hear about your relationship with Jesus! You inspire me.

Chris - August 14th, 2011 at 8:32 PM
Thank you for posting your notes! We were so moved by your teaching! Can't wait to read Interrupted (ordered on the Monday after convention). Life-changing, eye-opening, paradigm-shifting stuff. Thank you so much! God bless you and your expanding family!!!
Heather Oliver - August 16th, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Your manifesto is now mine! Amen.
Rhonda - August 18th, 2011 at 12:36 PM
Jen, First I have to say I love your blogs, your books, you FB post... I must be a creeper... But who on here isn't. :) My sister whom my husband and I have been raising for the last 5 years is 19 and fixing to start her first year at OBU (move in day Saturday please pray for me). She started church with a neighbor when she was 4 years old. Past 2 years she has gone on mission trips, first London, second Paris. Her heart and soul scream Jesus.. she needs it daily. (who in the world doesn't) She thrives for it. Man the things we could all learn from her. She has been struggling with moving on and doing God's works around this great world he has placed us in. Wow how this blog/these notes have just slapped me in the face. Letting go, telling her that I would LOVE for her to do these great things is the hardest thing I would have to say I can do right now. But with this post I see that it is the only option for me. She is such an amazing girl and without much influence from myself (just becoming Christian 5 yrs ago) and attending a church who is what you call "modern" and definitely set in their ways (slowly moving out of that), some how her little heart grew for God and came to love Him more than her little mind could handle. I know one day I will have to live by these words you speak and I will be so proud of her just as Jesus would. I thank you so much for placing this in front of us and making the majority of us wake up to reality and see that our children are our future and if we don't handle it properly it is going to blow up. I will take these words, print them and look back on them from this point on so that my 2 little girls know that we live for Jesus and not the world we live in today and that it is okay to mess up because Jesus loves us and will till we go home. Thank you so much!
Kristi - August 21st, 2011 at 11:13 PM
whoa! Thank you for writing this out. its my deepest parenting desire but it gets muddled as I try to "fit in" and be "in control" This is goes right along with how God is stirring us up right now personally and I am so thankful for grace and for the boost of truth through what you shared. cant wait till my husband read this. Im totally spurred on! Thank you!
Lynette - August 23rd, 2011 at 12:03 AM
I came into this talk at MOPS with an expectation, and you completely didn't fulfill it. You blew it away. I couldn't get out fast enough, because I just wanted to curl up some where and cry in relief. My husband
Lynette - August 23rd, 2011 at 1:44 PM
somehow the rest of the comment got deleted. All in all, it was a great thing and God used it to bring a huge, much-needed out-pouring of encouragement to me! :)

lindsay donaldson - August 23rd, 2011 at 12:54 AM
I really wish there was a video of this talk. I am reading it aloud to my husband, which I'm pretty sure he is annoyed with (because of the reading aloud factor). I love it. I emailed it to a few friends. Like a lot of friends. ;)
Rich - September 6th, 2011 at 10:19 AM
Thanks from a Dad whose wife encouraged him to read this - to better understand her, and to better understand our children. Very powerful.
Ellen Getz - September 7th, 2011 at 3:58 PM
THANK YOU for so eloquently summarizing what's been rooted in my heart and mind for so long yet is never expressed so clearly as you have done here. You need to write a book on these thoughts-- please! Thanks again :)
Beth - September 8th, 2011 at 9:18 AM
I am not a mother...yet. But I would like to be one day. My struggles with life in the church have often been much like you described with your own son... I couldn't stand being molly coddled with arts and crafts and movies and games as though I was unable to fully comprehend the Scriptures because of my age. Maybe it comes from being reared by older parents who always treated me as though I were intelligent and able to learn and grow and think for myself. Whatever the reason, I'm now 28 years into a life shaped by the church, 23 years since I committed myself to a life of following after Christ, and the truth is I still struggle to fit into a church that wants to have football nights and golf scrambles and spend five months learning the Christmas music for the Christmas play and spend Sunday school talking a/b the mundane things of the week when we could be living life on the edge and actually pursuing the things God tells us we need to be pursuing. I have struggled with whether or not to even try to bring children into the world b/c I can't imagine being able to help them get past the "American Dream" and wholeheartedly pursue the things of God when I can't see the example in my own church. I know that I only get one chance to do this thing right... one chance to get their attention focused on God and away from money, politics, success, friends... I only get one chance. And if I've learned one capital T Truth in life, it's that life is short. Even if I live to be 80 it'll never be long enough to live the life of a Christian, doing the things of God, and instilling in the children I hope to one day have the value of sacrifice and living for God rather than self. The things you have written have somehow given me hope that I am not alone in this struggle. That there are others who feel the same as I do and struggle in the same ways. I can't thank you enough for your honesty and your fearlessness in saying what you know to be right in your heart. I pray God richly blesses you for your willingness to be used by Him... not just in the adoption community (though you have given me much to think a/b there as well), but as Christians living in a different time than what we saw and were taught as children and from what our parents saw and were taught as children. I will add your family to my prayer journal and think of you and pray for you every chance I get.
Becky - September 9th, 2011 at 12:50 PM
I LOVE THIS SOOO MUCH. Saw you at last year's Mops Convention and just stumbled upon your blog from a friend's link of your "After the Airport" post. As an adoptive parent, hoping and praying that my children love Jesus Christ more than the American dream, I thank you for sharing these amazing and counter-culture truths.
Carissa - September 9th, 2011 at 6:26 PM
Where was I? Oh yeah playing my drums.
Loved the notes, the passion and the honesty.
I'm actually very excited about raising my kids in this pm era!
MissSniz - October 5th, 2011 at 6:22 AM
Respect for authority is one thing I think our kids really need in order to follow Jesus, because what you're talking about, serving the lowly and the poor and the unwanted, goes against our natural, fleshly desires, and they (and us) need to be willing to put themselves aside in order to follow HIM and His examples. That is hard, regardless of the culture. Modern or postmodern, human nature is the same; children are naturally selfish and emotional and let emotion dictate their actions. I was a teenager, and Jesus was an emotional experience at that age. I think He is, for most teens. The unselfishness that Jesus wants us to live requires all of us, regardless of culture, to put self aside, to put emotional desires (the fleshly desire for comfort) aside. It's good to think about the culture in the way that we teach our kids about Jesus...I found many of your points thought-provoking and inspiring. But respecting authority HAS to be emphasized, no matter what. I'm sure there are some kids who have a healthy respect for authority. But there's others that don't, even if they have been taught to, even if they have a heart of compassion and service. In fact, those things could easily lead to a person thinking THEY are "good" and "righteous". There are a lot of non-Christians who do humanitarian work. Just because our kids are living in a culture that does not respect authority, doesn't mean we have to find a new way to teach them about Jesus. We SHOULD teach them about the poor and needy. We SHOULD be living that out in front of them. (I'm not saying I always do this, only that I should! :-)) We SHOULD create an environment of discussion and questions with a lack of expectations. (I struggle with the expectation thing.) We SHOULDN"T teach them that the pursuit of the American dream is what matters. (That is a huge point and another challenge for me personally.) But the way Christ should be taught has always been that way. It was that way the generation before too. It helps to think about the fact that our kids are living in a different culture from what we grew up in, but I disagree with the idea that kids are wildly attracted to those that help the poor and needy and are NOT wanting to being entertained. I think they are more into being entertained than ever. I think what you're talking about, living a different life from the American dream, being messy and following Jesus even if that leads to Africa and not college, is opposite of what the culture is saying to kids today. Yes, the culture is saying "Question one person has all the answers." But it is also saying, "Live for yourself. Do what feels right. No one is going to look out for you but you. There is no absolute authority. There are no consequences for your choices. Think about yourself first." Those things are being screamed by our culture constantly. That is the battle---what we have to fight against. At least it is at my house. Don't get me are so right about the things we should be teaching and emphasizing to our kids and I love the fact that you challenged me to think about that. But to me, the challenge was much more for the parents' thinking than the childrens'. WE need to question how WE think. WE need to decide what WE think is important for our kids, regardless of the culture. We should be more others-minded. We should be willing to serve and help the lowly. We should have a different mindset and different expectations for our kids. We should live those things out in front of our kids and talk about them all the time. But a few of the comments you made about how kids in general think in our culture today seemed to be generalizations, not facts. As a mother with a 17 year old son, I don't assign teenagers as much maturity as you seem to. Mind you, we have a child who has always been fascinated by the current culture. Maybe if we did things differently, he would be raring to go to Africa instead of living at home indefinitely. But somehow I doubt it.
Daniel - November 2nd, 2011 at 3:55 AM
Thanks for this. My wife sent me this link. I wanted to post the parts that challenged me.
"1. Tell your kids: It’s ok to mess up. I don’t expect you to be perfect and I will not be a perfect parent. Say those words, and you’ll create a house of grace.
2. Let them risk something and fail…even if you knew they would.
3. Then teach them what to do with failure: this will serve them the rest of their lives: we apologize, we try again, we try a different way, we learn from it, we don’t regret every mistake.

Speak of God’s plan for their lives from the time they are in diapers:

Let’s teach our kids to love Jesus, not a set of rules. We should be talking about his character and love and passion and heroics as much as we are talking about biblical behaviors."

Thanks for sharing your talk outline.
Anonymous - November 28th, 2011 at 6:05 PM
I feel like so much of this the Lord has been showing me (My oldest is a 4 year old boy), and as soon as we step out in public I want to take back everything I am doing. When he starts jumping up and down during the worship service I want to usher him back downstairs, but I know the Truth (don't worry, he's downstairs for the sermon...he would tear down the building single-handedly if we didn't intervene!). I feel out of place, in my family, among my friends, and even before my husband (although he is jumping on board!). But what matters to me is my son's sweet little heart. It seems to even make parenting long as I'm not concerned about being judged ;)
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