Illuminate: Parent Cue

21 03 2012

Parents, as we move closer to Easter we want to create conversation points for you and your student. Here is some information about what we are doing in Transit, and how you can create conversations with your student.

1. Be a Student of What They are Learning

We’ve read the story year after year. We know that Jesus was crucified, placed in a tomb and resurrected on the third day. And this is important! But when we take a look at the bigger picture of Scripture we see themes and images that come up again and again to shed even more light on the significance of the Easter account. Just like reading a good book or watching a gripping movie, we understand that the author is trying to turn our attention to something greater than the story itself. Over the course of this series, we look at a few key themes in Scripture—Bread, Water and Blood—to help weave together the greater story of God’s love for us. To take the power of the Easter story and allow it to shine in those places where we need provision, security and redemption.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

Over the course of this series, we have talked about the idea of themes; those things that come up again and again, whether in a good book or movie or even just in our day-to-day lives. And as we’ve learned, certain words or themes within particular stories in the Bible can trigger something that might remind us of another story, showing us how God’s Big Story connects, especially as it relates to the Easter story. But these themes occur in our everyday lives as well.

We as parents experience things that trigger us to know when our teens are happy or excited about something—and when they are anything but! Our students notice our triggers as well. Your student probably knows that when you pick them up from school late, slam the door when you come home from work or forget to check on them after their set curfew, that something is up.

And these triggers, these cues, are definitely something to look for in our teenagers. Especially for those middle school and early high school students who are still in a world of “egocentric abstraction,” which means that they may be trying on multiple personalities to figure out just who they are. And these triggers give us a clue into how these different sides of our students come together as they try to figure out who they are. And while this may be scary for us and seem like anything but normal, it is really just a natural part of their process of defining who they are—of shaping their identity. But does this mean that we just give them complete space to figure it out on their own during these very complicated years? No, it means we listen. And sometimes, the best way to listen to a teenager—no matter what age—is as much about hearing what they say as it is about hearing what they don’t. So, we want to provide an opportunity for you to sit down with your student and talk about some of these triggers, first allowing them to give you a glimpse into the things that clue them into your mood and next, having a dialogue about the things they do that tell you about how they are feeling.

3. Action Point

As you and your student sit down, remember to keep this conversation light. This isn’t a time to start probing into your student’s life to look for deep, dark secrets. Rather, it’s a chance to connect in a mutual way and start a conversation about the way that we often communicate how we feel without saying a word. It’s a chance to create empathy, both from you to your student and from your student back to you. So, as you answer the questions below, allow your student space to be honest and practice listening to what they are saying with their words, as you both figure out what you say from day-to-day without using words at all.

Questions from Parent to Student: 

  • What are some things I do that tell you that I’m in the following mood: Rested, Content, Stressed Out, Enthusiastic and Agitated?
  • What do you usually do when you sense that I am stressed out or agitated? How about when you sense that I am rested and content?
  • What is a word or a phrase that we can come up with for you to say to me when you are picking up on one of my negative triggers that worries you or makes you upset and you want to be able to talk about it?

Questions from Student to Parent:

  • What are some things I do that make you think I am sad, overwhelmed or upset? (For the Student to Answer: Are the triggers that your parent or guardian noticed pretty accurate? Do you feel like they are picking up on what you do when you are sad or upset?)
  • How do you know when I am happy and everything is going well?
  • What is a word or phrase that we can come up with for you to say to me when you are picking up one of my negative triggers and want to be able to talk about it?

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18 03 2012

Series Overview

We read the story of the crucifixion of Jesus every year.  Many of us can probably tell the story without even having to look it up.  This is a great thing. However, we often forget that the story of Easter is part of a much larger story.  Over the next three weeks, we are going to look at a some key themes found in the Easter story, and throughout the Scriptures. We want to show how the themes of bread, water, and blood are woven throughout all of Scripture so that their use in the Easter story brings the story a greater significance.  The Easter story should not just be limited to a few weeks in early Spring, but a continual reminder of our need for God’s provision, presence, and redemption.

Session 1 (March 18, 2012)

Bread is a popular topic in church. Whether it is during communion or even the Lord’s Prayer, bread is mentioned. The question we often fail to ask is why. What is the deal with bread?  Why does it keep showing up in the Bible?  To ancient Israel, bread was a sign of the provision of God as God literally provided their food in the desert.  As Jesus preached he used bread to remind his audience of God’s provision, and their need to be dependent on God both physically and spiritually. But now, bread is a representation of Jesus himself.  Jesus is our provider, and all we need to sustain life. Talk to your student about a time in your life where you needed the provision of God. Ask your student how they can be more dependent on God.

Session 2 (March 25, 2012)

Life can be overwhelming at times. There are some times when it is everything that we can do to just keep our head above water.  This is not a unique situation to us. Many people found in the Scriptures faced similar problems, even Jesus as he endured the cross.  While these situations are difficult, God does not want us to endure them alone. He is present with us. The Easter story illustrates this very principle as Jesus triumphs over death so that we can find hope in the presence of God.  Life can get difficult, but we are never alone. Talk to your student about when you have felt the presence of God in a difficult circumstance, and ask them if they have ever experience God’s presence in their life.

Session 3 (April 1, 2012)

If you are like me then the sight of blood can make you a little queasy.  While blood may be prevalent on television, in movies, or even video games, it is one of the most important themes in the Bible, particular in the Easter story. As Christians we often talk about “the blood,” but why is it so important and what does it represent? As we conclude our study of the story of Easter we want our students to know why the symbol of blood is so important for the Church, and to understand that blood is our symbol of a limitless love coming from a limitless God. Talk to your student about the death of Christ, and why Christ’s blood allows us to have access to God. Ask your student why the death of Christ is important to them.

Doubt: For Parents Only

8 03 2012

Parents we know that doubt can be an issue with everyone, not just students. We wanted to take a minute to encourage you in your role as parents.


By Tim Walker

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the term “helicopter parents,” people who hover over their kids all the time. For most of us who see a true helicopter parent in action, our first inclination is to say, “Relax. It’s okay.” But, as parents, if all of us were real honest, we would have to admit that we can understand their motivation. Parenthood is scary, uncertain, and filled with doubt. You wonder if you’re doing it right. You wonder if you are teaching them the right things. You wonder if you are raising independent kids, or ones who will be living in your basement when they are 40.

And here’s a big doubt—sometimes you wonder if they even love you anymore.

Let’s face it, the hugs and smiles came a lot more easily when they were little. When you came home, they ran to the door to greet you. They lit up when you walked into the room. You could just feel your child’s love for you simply by looking at his or her face. But now that your child is a teen, those hugs don’t come as often—unless there’s some item being purchased. And when you walk into the room, sometimes they seem more annoyed at your presence than joyful.

It’s easy to get hurt. It’s easy to quit trying to connect with them when the responses aren’t what they used to be. You can only handle hearing the word “fine” so many times before you just want to stop asking, “How was your day?”

But don’t stop. Keep it up. One of the things that we are teaching your child over the next couple of weeks is—when faced with a big doubt, rely on the things you do know. We’re teaching your child to look back and realize that there are some foundational things you have to hang on to in the face of uncertainty.

Your child loves you. He or she may not know how to show it anymore as they seek to break away and establish their independence, but it’s there. There are so many things going on in and around your child, that a lot of things that seemed normal a few years ago are just confusing now. Hang in there with them. Keep loving them. Keep fighting for relationship with them. Keep finding ways to connect with them.

And when you are scared or unsure, remember that you taught them a few good things along the way, and they are learning more from you than you realize.

© 2010 Orange. All rights reserved.

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4 03 2012

Series Overview

Everyone has moments of doubt. We doubt if we are heading in the right direction when going some place new. We doubt if that low-fat snack is really as healthy as it claims to be. We doubt if the people in our lives really care about us—even in spite of the evidence that they do. And sometimes our doubts are about God. Can we trust God? Does God really have our best in mind? What does a particular Bible verse actually mean?

When questions arise, they can be a little unsettling, especially questions about faith. But what if God was big enough to handle the questions? He is. What if God was secure enough to handle our uncertainty? He is. And what if doubt actually paved the way to a deeper belief, a stronger relationship with Christ? It can.

Session One (March 4, 2012)

You know those nagging questions that seem to linger in the back of your mind? The ones you hesitate to ever speak out loud, admit you have or let anyone else know you think? Questions like: “Does God hear me when I pray?” “Does He have a plan for my life?” “Does God really have everything under control?” Questions and doubts can be unsettling if they are left unsaid. We begin to think we are alone in our doubt, and often our doubts only grow until they paralyze our faith. But when we learn to admit our doubts openly, we learn that we are not the only ones—that everyone deals with questions. And when we learn to live with doubt, doubt can be a tool that strengthens our faith.

Session One Parent Cue: Do you ever have doubts about God? If so, what are they? What do you do with them—vocalize them or keep them to yourself? 

Session Two (March 11, 2012)

It’s one thing to recognize that doubt can strengthen faith—but HOW do you get there? How do you handle a doubt that you just can’t seem to move past? One way is to look back. When you look back, you draw on the things you do know to help you live through the things you don’t know or can’t understand. When you remember the things that God has shown you, you remind yourself of a bigger picture that can help you deal with the close-up situation at hand. The ways you have learned about or experienced God in your past are still true in the present, and can be used to pave the way to belief now—in spite of and in the midst of doubt.

Session Two Parent Cue:  What are some things that God has taught you in the past about Himself? How can those things specifically help you with the doubts you now have?