@AdoptTogether Featured on CNN

AdoptTogetherAn organization we think is a great one is AdoptTogther. AdoptTogether is a non-profit funding platform helping families raise money to pay for adoption costs. We have a profile on the site and have friends who have used it as well.

The cool thing this week: AdoptTogther was featured on CNN. Hank Fortener, founder of the organization, was interviewed and was able to share about the mission of AdoptTogether. There is no PR team within the organization so they count on social media and other outlets to get the word out.

Why AdoptTogether?

The average cost of domestic adoption ranges from $15,000 to $40,000. international adoptions range from $20,000 to $50,000.

One of the biggest obstacles to adoption is financial. AdoptTogether seeks to help remove that barrier by inviting friends, family, co-workers and the community to carry the financial burden.

Take a few minutes to check out the CNN article and even share it on your social media platform.

adopttogether-on-cnn

The Jesus Gap – What Teens Believe About Jesus

jesus-gapOne of the books I wanted to read as 2017 started was The Jesus Gap. I started reading it months ago, but somewhere along the way got off track. So, I decided to get back on track and set aside some time to really dig into it.

After reading it, I went back through the things I highlighted and marked.  Once I typed it up, it filled almost four pages in a Word doc.  Needless to say, there is a lot of useful information in the book.

Bradbury shares the motivation behind writing the book.  She was taking a class on Christological foundations.  The final project was to conduct a small research study on your own ministry to determine what teens believed about Jesus.  She was surprised by the results from her group.

As she continued to study this topic, she decided to find out if what was true of the teens in her youth ministry was true of others teens.  That brought about her survey and this book, The Jesus Gap.

For those who work with students, the question that will linger in your mind as you read this book is this:  “Is this true of the teens in my church?”  I asked that question a number of times as I read the results of her research.

While there is too much information in the book to boil down to one post, a couple of things kind of rose to the top in my thinking.

One is how students look at Jesus as both God and as being sinless.

According to Bradbury’s research, when students were asked the question, “Is Jesus God?”  44 percent of students answered Yes,” 44 percent said No,” and 12 percent confessed, I don’t know.”

There are a number of conclusions a person could draw, but the numbers are a little startling.  Consider that the teens from the survey had a church background, were active in their congregations, and yet under 50% of them agreed that Jesus is God.

When asked if Jesus was perfect (or sinless), 34 percent of teens affirmed Jesus was perfect. 57 percent said Jesus was not perfect9 percent said, “I don’t know if Jesus was perfect.”

So even a smaller percentage agreed that Jesus was perfect.

Along with sharing the statistics and results of interviews, Bradbury also shared some practical steps youth workers can take to strengthen the Christology of the teens in their churches.

One area where I think The Jesus Gap is helpful is that it removes the blinders from our eyes.  We have to assume that what is true of Bradbury’s original research study in her group and then the following larger study she did, is also true on some level for the students in our sphere of influence.  One of the take-a-ways I have from this book is to find out where our students are and what particular truths about Jesus we might need to address in the future.

Another interesting thing Bradbury brought out is why students question that Jesus was perfect.  Early in the book she referenced some research done by Scott McKnight in Christianity Today where he concluded this:  “We all think Jesus is like us.  Introverts think Jesus is introverted, for example, and extroverts think Jesus is extroverted.  To one degree or another, we all conform Jesus to our own image.”

Students seemed to carry this idea when they viewed Jesus.  Here are a couple of quotes from students in Bradbury’s book talking about why Jesus wasn’t sinless:

“Jesus was God’s Son, after all He was human.  It’s really hard to know.  You’d think he would be perfect.  But humans – it’s impossible to be perfect.”

“Jesus sinned because he was a human being like the rest of us.
Even the best people in the world sin.”

One challenge to students seeing Jesus as perfect is wrestling with His divine nature.  If He was human like us, the conclusion many of them draw is that He sinned, because all people sin.

Bradbury also revealed a distrust for Scripture.  She shared responses from students that shared the opinion that the Biblical writers left our Jesus’ sin intentionally, in an effort to make Him appear more godly.

After sharing results of her research, she offered this conclusion:  Don’t assume teenagers view Scripture the same way you do.  Perhaps we operate under the assumption that because we have talked about the Bible and have a certain set of beliefs, our students hold those as well.  The Jesus Gap reveals that for a large number of teens, it’s not true.

The challenge is to not only read the results of Bradbury’s research, but then apply it to your particular context.  This is a good read for those who work with students and could create some good discussion.

Cheryl’s Blog Post About Valentines Day @DaytonMomsBlog

8-waysCheryl’s second post went live a couple of days ago on the Dayton Moms Blog just in time for Valentine’s Day.  She writes about 8 ideas for your kids on Valentine’s Day.

And it’s true!  Each year she does something for the kids on Valentine’s Day.  It’s a simple way to show love to your kids on a day when everyone is thinking about love.

Read the post or check out the ideas below.

For almost 10 years I was a single mom of two little boys. Instead of feeling sad or lonely on Valentine’s Day, I decided it was a great opportunity to show my boys how much I loved them and teach them how to show love to others. t became a tradition that I looked forward to. I thought that someday (many years away) when they had a special someone, they would benefit from this “training”. We started each Valentine’s Day off with a box of chocolates, and a card and then after school or our events for the day, ended our evening off with a delicious Italian dinner, equal to that of scene from Lady and the Tramp. Each year the boys looked forward to this and I was always on the lookout for another way to show them how much I love THEM. Here are a few ideas to add to your own list. Valentine’s Day may be silly to some, a greeting card holiday to others, however I always love the opportunity to tell my kids how much I love them.

  1. Prepare a candle lit dinner for your kids.
  2. Write your child a letter or a poem and tell them why you love them.
  3. Plan a scavenger hunt for your kids, ending with a box of chocolates.
  4. Make individual books on Shutterfly or another picture loving site for each child, listing what you love about them.
  5. Have a home-made card for your child to open up everyday leading up to Valentine’s Day- with a quality you love about them in each note.
  6. Buy a Valentine puzzle, put it together and write why you love your child on the back, take puzzle a part and give them a piece each day until complete.
  7. Spend some time at the dinner table or in the family room, pass out conversation heart candies and talk about what you love about each member of your family, you get a heart to munch on after each time you share.
  8. Have a Valentine picnic (in Ohio this is indoors), enjoy heart-shaped food and end the evening with a box of sweets.

What do you do to make Valentine’s Day fun for your kiddos?

Those Who Refresh Others Will Be Refreshed

I had the opportunity and privilege to participate in a memorial service for a dear lady from our church family a couple of weeks. She and her husband were active members for over 20 years and are well-liked and respected by people in our church and community.

During the service I simply shared some memories I had of this woman, how she influenced her family, impacted people around her and was involved in the life of our church. Mine was only one perspective on a life well lived and it was good to hear from others as they shared their memories.

As I was putting together my thoughts, a verse from Proverbs came to mind.  It is not a passage I’ve used at a funeral before nor have I heard it used by others.   As I looked up the verse and read the preceding verses, it fit very well.

The godly can look forward to a reward, while the wicked can expect only judgment. Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:23-25)

The woman we were remembering was one of refreshed others.  She served at our church.  She gave freely to her family and to those outside her family. She was known as a woman who loved and accepted kids.

…those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed

The wisdom of Proverbs really came to light before and during the service.  As we give freely, we do refresh others and God, whether now or in the future, will refresh us.

…those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed

Good challenge for the day.

Her First Post – The Blend @DaytonMomsBlog

Yesterday I shared that my wife is a contributing writer for Dayton Moms Blog. This morning her first post went live. It’s called The Blend. 

Enjoy!

The grocery store had kale on sale. 2 bunches for $1.00. I had to get some, there was a soup recipe that I wanted to try that needed kale. The soup was delicious. I still had one heaping bunch of kale in my fridge. Having heard of kale smoothies, and their amazing health benefits, I googled some recipes. I couldn’t imagine how this bitter and pepper vegetable would taste in a smoothie with coconut milk and blueberries, so the search continued for the perfect blend in a smoothie recipe.

About a decade ago, I found myself in a different blending dilemma. I needed to figure out how to blend some sweet, salty, bitter, peppery and even some bruised all into something delightful or at the very least palatable. 

I was divorced, with two little boys when I got out my blender. I needed to blend a broken man, two shattered teens and a bitter ex with my two wounded boys, a damaged heart(mine) and an absent ex. I began reading anything I could get my hands on about blending families, I was sure that I could read up on the topic and “fix” things in record time. The first book I read caused me to put the blender away. The Smart Step-Family by Ron L. Deal was a great book in my blending venture. Deal writes “The average stepfamily takes 5-7 years to form a family identity”. I read and reread that over and over again, 5-7 years to blend? I wanted to be blended NOW! The book provided me with great tools and practical guidelines to help in the blending of our families. So I took out my blender again and decided it was worth the effort and time.

The blending didn’t happen overnight. It was not as easy as throwing in some kale and blueberries and coconut milk and pressing puree. It took time, and I have learned that blending a family is sometimes like a pressure cooker, and not as easy as an Insta-pot. Ron Deal makes the analogy that blending families is more like using a crock pot, it is slow and takes time. I personally liked the idea of a blender, throw everything in and press a button and there you have it, easy clean up, easy to put away and manage.

I’ve just hit the 6 1/2 mark of The Blend. It has indeed become more of a crock pot experiment over the years. Our once salty teen has become a loving, giving affectionate person. Our peppery teen is now a warm and sweet adult. The most surprising is that bitter ex, is now a friend. The bruised have healed and are healthy and the absent is present. It has taken time, you can’t rush these things, even if you want to. 

The Blend has changed me. I learned to focus more on what was best for my kids and less about me and how I felt. I put myself and my needs aside to understand how the salty and the sweet and the bitter felt. I changed. I changed to help the blending. I looked for ways to compliment the salty and bitter and add to make things better than hide or mask the taste. I am far from putting the blender away. I have to continue to change the recipe to make our family identity taste the best it can. The recipe changes with weddings, adding children, college, jobs, children moving away and any other life changing events. So I keep the blender handy, I know that it really is more of a crock pot deal…….and given time, it smells and tasted delicious…..it’s just not catchy to say you are “crock-potting” a family.
Now where is that kale………

My Wife the Blogger @DaytonMomsBlog

 

dayton_logo_circle-1-copy-300x300Recently my wife was added as contributing writer for the Dayton Moms Blog.  Her first post will go live on Friday, February 3.  She was excited about the opportunity to be a writer for the blog and has been working hard on some posts to share.

Dayton Moms Blog is a collaborative blog written by more than 20 local moms who share their stories “covering anything from diapering to discipline.”  The blog publishes content five days a week.

While I’m sure I will be sharing some of her great content here, you can check out the other posts at Dayton Moms Blog.

You can also check out the Blog Team and read a little bit about each mom.  Here’s one of my favorite writers.  Enjoy!

my-wife-the-blogger

 

The Winsomeness of Humility

About two weeks ago I received an email from Growing Leaders that talked about one quality that Boomers and Millennials must develop. This blog post is not about either Millennials or Boomers or the differences between the two.

( ( However, if you haven’t seen You’ve Gotta Love Millenials you must take three minutes to watch it. ) )

Back to the original topic . . .

In the article this one phrase kind of jumped out at me: Attitudes speak louder than words. . . don’t underestimate the winsomeness of humility.

Winsomeness is defined as sweetly or innocently charming; winning; engaging.

There is something charming, winning and engaging about a person who demonstrates humility.

We see a lot of acts that don’t demonstrate humility: athletes that draw attention to themselves after making a big play, artists who strive to keep the spotlight on themselves, public figures who make it a habit of keeping their faces on camera. We can probably all think of a time when we were turned off by arrogant behavior – a lack of humility.

We might also be able to bring to mind a time when we were attracted to humility. Someone did something solely for the benefit of someone else and stayed out of the limelight. It could be as simple as paying for meal of the person behind you in the drive-thru line or leaving a circle of friends at lunch time to sit with someone who was eating alone.

There is something attractive, beautiful, even winsome about humility.

In his book Chase the Lion Mark Batterson shares this story of Booker T. Washington.

Washington was in Iowa and had spent the day speaking to packed rooms at four different gatherings. He was the keynote speaker, the center of attention, the one everyone in town came to see.

While in the hotel lobby where he was staying, Washington was mistaken for one of the hotel staff. A woman asked him for a glass of water. His response: he got her a drink and then asked, “Is there anything else I can get for you?”

What a great example of the winsomeness of humility.

I don’t know if the woman in the hotel lobby that day was ever told who it was that got her that glass of water. But it seems that Booker T. Washington didn’t care.

In the Growing Leaders article, this advice was given: Ask questions. Listen well. Develop a hungry mind. Talk about others more than yourself. Seek out good books and mentors. Show me you’re good, don’t tell me.

Imagine how our schools, churches and workplaces would change if we all followed that advice and sought to demonstrate humility.