My Teenage Zombie – a review

I have a confession as I begin this post: I’m not really into the zombie thing.  I have not watched a single minute of The Walking Dead.  I don’t watch zombie movies like World War Z, Shaun of the Dead or even Night of the Living Dead.

Probably the closest thing I’ve seen in the zombie genre is a particular episode of Phineas and Ferb that my son likes to watch and, of course, Michael Jackson’s classic music video, Thriller.

So, when I first saw this title, My Teenage Zombie, it didn’t really strike a chord with me.  However, as I read it, I found it to be a great description that Dr. Henderson carries throughout the book and is an image I as a parent could relate to as he spoke about the adolescent years.

This book is not bashing the adolescent years or railing against today’s teenagers.  It is rather a solid resource for parents who either have a teenager living under their roof or, better yet, have children that will be entering adolescence in the future.

In My Teenage Zombie Dr. Henderson addresses all the changes that teens are going through as well as the unique pressures students in our current culture are enduring.  He also offers some great insight to parents from his education and experience about how to understand and then engage with “teen zombies.”

He gives an apt description of what he considers a teen zombie:  “Undead adolescents are directionless, and this lack of direction leads them to focus all their attention on one thing:  themselves.”  As some students go through adolescence they sometimes fit this description and parents are left with the task of addressing their son or daughter in this zombie like state.

In offering some insights to parents, Dr. Henderson talks about these areas to address to resurrect an undead adolescent.  He writes that a teenage zombie lacks these three elements that are necessary to sustain life:

Pulse = direction
Spark = motivation
Fiber = determination

In the book he elaborates on each one both from the perspective of the teen and what he/she is going through, but also from the perspective of parents who could be feeling frustrated, confused and ready to give up.

Dr. Henderson had some good advice to parents and I thought this was especially poignant:  Parents are the stable framework that help a teen grow into a strong & mature adult. Be that stable & predictable framework for your kids.  What a good reminder that our teens need parents who will offer stability, predictability and consistency as they navigate the adolescent years.

The author offers a balance of medical information (I found the chapter that talked about the adolescent brain to be very interesting), real-life examples from his own experience as a psychiatrist, reflections from his own journey through adolescence and Biblical principles that speak to both parents and teens.

My Teenage Zombie is a good resource for parents who want to understand how to address the undead adolescent who might be living in their home and a great tool for families who look forward to navigating the ups and downs of the teen years.

To read more info on the book or to order a copy, click on the image at the top of the post to be directed to the publisher’s website.

What If You Don’t Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

We are not quite two weeks into the new year and statistics tell us (whoever those people are that know such things) that only 8% of people who make resolutions keep them.

Our student ministry is starting small groups back up this Sunday after breaking for the holidays.  We think it’s a good idea to take a break, but also look forward to getting back into meeting regularly.  Since it is a new month and a new year, it seems appropriate to use resolutions as a spring-board for our discussions in January.

The challenge of resolutions is not in the making of them; it’s in the keeping of said resolutions.  As I was looking at some passages in Scripture that talk about pursuing God (which is a good resolution to make), my reference Bible took me to 2 Chronicles.

Asa was king of Judah and he was challenged to bring the people back to a right relationship with God.  2 Chronicles 15 tells us he removed idols, repaired the altar of the Lord and assembled all the people together.

Now, if you need some motivation to keep a resolution, perhaps this passage will provide some.  2 Chronicles 15:10-15:

“They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. At that time they sacrificed to the Lord seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunder they had brought back. They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. All who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.  They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.”

So, if you are serious about keeping a new year’s resolution, perhaps you add in the threat of death…just a thought…

While I don’t think that scripture is prescriptive for how we should approach all of our commitments, it does show us that Asa and the people of Judah were pretty serious.

So, good luck with your resolutions!

Motives

question marksWhy do you do what you do? If you go to visit a friend in the hospital or sign the book at a funeral visitation or prepare a meal for someone, do you stop long enough to ask yourself why you are doing it?

In preparing for this Sunday’s lesson in our high school class, I came across this quote – “People are always motivated by at least two reasons: the one they tell you about and a secret one.” (O.A. Battista)

I’ve had to think through that a few times. Granted, there are times that we do something for other people out of the kindness of our hearts. They have a need that we are able to meet and we are moved to meet whatever that need is.

But I think there are also times where we might do something without the purest of motives. We may offer to meet that need knowing that we are supposed to do that or it presents a good image of who we are. We want people to think we are generous or selfless or compassionate so we do something for others that helps create that image.

In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about our motives when we give or when we pray or when we fast. Those are all good things, but Jesus warns against doing them to be seen by men.

I think the hardest work God has to do is in the human heart. I know I sometimes do what I know I should, even when my motives aren’t the purest. God not only needs to work on our behavior, but especially on the motives behind the behavior. I think that’s why God is so concerned with the heart. He keeps coming back to our motives. Some days it feels like we have a long way to go.