How to build a life giving home

Almost 40 years ago, American author and businessman Alvin Toffler described the view from his kitchen window in this way, “All the old roots – religion, nation, community, family…

Almost 40 years ago, American author and businessman Alvin Toffler described the view from his kitchen window in this way,

“All the old roots – religion, nation, community, family and profession – are now shaking under the hurricane impact of today’s accelerative thrust. In the midst of all this change sits the family – stunned by the shockwaves of novelty, shifting values, and information overload, wondering how they are going to survive. The family has been called the ‘giant shock absorber’ of society. Home is ‘the place to which the bruised and battered individual returns after doing battle with the world, the one stable point in an increasingly flux-filled environment’.”

This is my picture of what family should be – what God intended for families to be.

In a world that is changing at a frenetic pace, where values are being diluted and eroded on a daily basis, all young people need a place of safety and security in which they are enveloped as they make sense of life.

When Marg and I welcomed our firstborn into the world, we talked together about what kind of home we wanted for our children. We had the opportunity to build a home that was shaped by our values and not a house that was shaped by our budget. We wanted a home that would be a safe place where all voices were validated, where anything and everything could be talked about. We wanted a home where we could laugh and cry together, and where our children felt secure in the knowledge that they were a part of a family that would always be there for them.

As followers of Jesus, our greatest hope and desire was that, in this journey, they too would grow a faith that was active and lifelong.

Put simply, our vision was for a life-giving home.

These were easy words to say those many years ago! We certainly didn’t achieve all we strived for, but we are thankful to God that our three children are living out an active faith today. When children are brought into this world through something called labour, this provides a clue of the commitment required of us as parents as we take on the responsibility given to us.

In the fast-paced world of today, when so much of our thinking is shaped by scanning and swiping and reading just 147 characters, I wrote a small 32-page book as a manageable read, to unpack this vision further.

Listen to the chorus of voices in these pages that amplify the urgency to return to the central place where life is formed, celebrated, experienced and matured.

What is proposed is a counter-cultural paradigm shift away from quick-fix solutions and program-centred strategies towards a return to the ancient, God-given priority for growing lifelong, active followers of Jesus.

Read on to find life for both yourself and your home.

Click here to access the 32-page book: Life-Giving Homes TW

 

About the author…

Terry is married to Marg and they have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. His developing gifts are in UNO, LEGO, Monopoly, racing cars, fairies, dinosaurs and Zooper Doopers. Terry is also a specialist in ministry with families and children at Scripture Union Queensland, where he has worked for 36 years.

Posted: 1/10/2020

Mentoring Matters: 5 keys to help your teens thrive

Close your eyes for a minute and think back to your teen and young adult years… Who were the important people in your life at the time? Who were…

Close your eyes for a minute and think back to your teen and young adult years… Who were the important people in your life at the time? Who were the significant adults in your life?

I was blessed with an abundance of aunts, uncles and family friends who all played important roles in my youth. I have great parents too (*applauds my mum and dad*), but there is a special place in my heart for those grown-ups who didn’t have to invest in my life but chose to anyway.

Research tells us that high-quality relationships are crucial to the development of young teens and young adults. However, 40% of young people report feeling lonely (Search Inst. 2017) and possess one or less relationships they would deem significant (Search Inst. 2017). In a hyper-networked world, teens and young adults lack real relationships, and are at a high risk of not having a significant adult in their life to guide them through the unstable landscape of young adulthood.

In short, teens and young adults need mentors.

When I think about mentoring young people, I am reminded of this little gem from the Bible;

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says; “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Young people in our communities need invested adults to walk beside and guide them through the sitting, walking, laying and rising of life. Mentors for the mundane and monumental.

How does mentoring benefit teens and young adults?

The Search Institute uses the term ‘developmental relationship’ to describe the nature of healthy connection between significant adults (mentors, parents, coaches, teachers, etc.) and young people.

In layman’s terms, a Developmental Relationship is a close connection between a young person and an adult that positively influences the young person to help them thrive.

Through their research they identified three key benefits of these relationships;

  • Help discover identity
  • Help develop capability
  • Help discern purpose.

If you think about the important people in your life during your adolescent years, can you recall how they helped you discover your identity, develop your capabilities, and discern a sense of purpose?

How can I help the teens and young adults in my life?

The Search Institute’s research found five essential components of developmental relationships that benefitted young people the most.

Express Care. Young people don’t just need to be told they matter; they need to be shown. Think of how you can practically demonstrate to a young person that they are valued.

Challenge Growth. Young people need to be encouraged and pushed to keep getting better. Consider how can you encourage a young person to give their best and keep them accountable.

Provide Support. In order to grow, sometimes we need a little help. How could you assist a young person to complete their tasks and achieve their goals (without taking over)?

Share Power. We all want to feel empowered to make decisions and take action in our lives. How could you treat a young person with respect and give them a say in what is happening around and to them?

Expand Possibilities. I don’t know what I don’t know. Can you connect a young person with people, places and experiences that broadens their horizons?

Consider how the significant figures of your teens and young adulthood demonstrated these key elements, and how they impacted your life?

As the African proverb says; it takes a village to raise a child. Mentoring Matters, not just to avoid loneliness, but to assist teens and young adults to thrive on their journey to adulthood.

To read the full Search Institute report click here.

 

About the author…

Tess is a former school chaplain and youth pastor with 15 years of experience in youth work. She now serves as SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team Leader, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. She holds a bachelor of communications and diploma of youth work.

 

Posted: 24/09/2020

Schoolies as a ‘Rite of Passage’

In November 2000 I graduated from high school. At my school’s graduation, every year they played the same music. It symbolised the end of your time at school as…

In November 2000 I graduated from high school.

At my school’s graduation, every year they played the same music. It symbolised the end of your time at school as you moved into adult life.

For me, that experience was a big moment I’ll always remember. A point of transition – a rite of passage.

Fast forward 20 years and our 2020 high school graduates are facing a very different rite of passage.

COVID-19 has limited numbers for events and gatherings, and is already influencing end-of-school processions with bans now in place for the traditional mass schoolies events on the Gold Coast.

While some think that Gold Coast schoolies events are a horrible ‘rite of passage’ for our high school graduates, the fact is that schoolies options available to previous cohorts have been taken away from the class of 2020. What will this mean?

Rites of passage have changed through the generations – but all support the same general premise: an event or ceremony to mark an important transition in someone’s life.

For Gen X and Gen Y some rites of passage included owning a first car, leaving home and getting your first job. For Gen Z and Millenials, who are staying home longer and studying/working simultaneously, there are fewer points that we can label as ‘rites of passage’.

This makes the milestone of finishing school an even more important marker for this generation.

If you’re a parent or mentor of someone finishing high school this year, here are some things I think are really important to keep in mind.

1. Talk talk talk!

Talk about the year – and ask them what are some of the symbolic markers they feel they have missed out on because of COVID-19. What are some creative ways they can experience these?

2. Help them to share their feelings

It’s okay to be disappointed – but allowing feelings to stay bottled up can have really negative consequences. Encouraging your teen to share what they are going through is vital to help them have a positive experience as they approach this key transition in life.

3. Celebrate with them!

Celebrate the successes of this year, and of the last few months of their schooling journey. Focus on the ‘lasts’ – celebrate when they finish their final assignment, final exam, etc. Help them plan a safe schoolies celebration with the friends they have valued through their schooling journey.

Regardless of the changes COVID-19 has had on our society, helping our Year 12 students to find positivity in the midst of all the things they have missed out on is key. Let’s give them the joy-filled rite of passage they deserve!

The good news for SU-Schoolies Sunny Coast is we have a COVID Safe Plan for our event, which we’ve developed in conjunction with Alex Park Conference Centre. This will allow us to proceed under the appropriate Industry Action Plan.

While this plan includes a cap on participants and restrictions on some activities, rest assured we are putting together a program that will allow you to still have the time of your life as you celebrate finishing your 12 years of schooling with your peers.

www.su-schoolies.com

 

About the author…

Beavs is a former High School Maths and Christian Education Teacher who has been working and volunteering with SU QLD Camps for almost 20 years. As Camps Specialist he supports volunteers and chaplains run camps and community outreach events throughout Queensland, reaching over 4500 young people. Beavs is married with 3 children, and loves coffee and watching sport.

Posted: 16/09/2020

Why Can’t Turtles Sing? Using Questions to Grow Kids

Kids under school age ask as many as 200-300 questions per day*. Young children live a life filled with a level of curiosity that appears to evaporate as they…

Kids under school age ask as many as 200-300 questions per day*. Young children live a life filled with a level of curiosity that appears to evaporate as they mature.

Answering questions is a vital part of parenting.

Asking questions is an equally important element of parenting and a tool that stimulates connection, confidence and critical thinking in our kids – in addition to nurturing curiosity.

Here are a few reasons why I believe questions are such a powerful part of parenting.

 

1. Our questions encourage connection

What do our young people think about current events? What are their hopes, fears and questions? What would they ask God in a face-to-face meeting? Well-formed questions can deepen family connection. At the dinner table, give someone the opportunity to ask a question of everybody else, use purchased conversation cards, or make your own (there are plenty of online resources.) Communicate, “I hear you,” as you attentively listen to each other.

One idea you can do is play ‘Question Ping-Pong’ in the car or on a walk.

The rules are simple – Two people take turns asking each other questions. No butting in, and a valid answer to any question may simply be, “I would like another question please.”

Genuine questions and deep listening connect people.

 

2. Our questions can arouse curiosity

For a time, I had the privilege of regular nursing home visits with some twelve-year-olds. Each week, question cards facilitated conversation and storytelling.

Thelma was an elderly resident who had undergone the amputation of both legs. While initially, the kids were cautious to speak with her, affection towards Thelma quickly developed.

As part of a post-visit conversation a few weeks in, one of the girls stated, “Once you get to know Thelma, you forget what she looks like because she is so lovely.”

My heart soared.

Genuine curiosity followed by engagement had dissolved the fear of difference and enabled beautiful, mutual connection.

Will Wise in the book Ask Powerful Questions claims there is a “national curiosity deficit that fuels division, separation and prevents us from building trusting, healthy connections.”

Can we wonder with our kids about people, their stories and what lies beneath the visible? Can we model and promote openness, humility and genuine curiosity?

 

3. Our questions can inspire confidence

“How did school go today?” was my query one time as I ‘ubered’ my daughter from school to netball. Her response gripped my parent-heart.

“Imogen and Mia wouldn’t let me play with them today. Nobody likes me.”

I want to side with my daughter and tell those so-called friends what I think of them. I wish I could rescue her from the pain of rejection and yet, as I respond, can I consider the long term?

I need to breathe, empathise, and later ask questions that empower rather than reinforce a victim mentality.

Questions that encourage problem solving communicate, “I believe you’ve got this.” What would you like to see happen? How could you approach this? How can I support you with your plan?

And as a check-in after the next day, “How did you go?” rather than a problem-centred, “Did they exclude you again?”

Maybe in the future, that solution-focused thinking will transfer to confidence in facing the challenges of adulthood.

 

4. Our questions can promote critical thinking

“I don’t believe in God,” “I don’t want to go to church,” (or some other statement of objection to a deeply valued belief), can hook our parent-hearts into reacting rather than responding.

Once again, well thought through questions and appropriate timing may just be the parenting tool we need. If we can still our beating hearts long enough to listen without defensiveness to this exploration of personal values, we might ask, “What led you to that conclusion?” “What have you seen, experienced or read that makes you think that?”

Once again, with the long- term view in mind, a parent who can facilitate this questioning with openness, can encourage their young person to deeply consider their own worldview rather than overreact to a reacting parent.

Attentive listening could provide an opening to be heard at some point and an apology for reacting, a reset and another conversation opportunity.

 

So why can’t a turtle sing?

Have you ever considered that maybe they can sing and the real question is “Why can’t we hear them?”

Many of life’s big questions, including those about current world events, will never have easy answers. Maybe together with our kids, we could consider alternate questions.

Intentionally using purposeful questions as a parenting tool could serve to deepen our family connections, in addition to developing the capacity for curiosity, compassion, confidence and critical thinking.

 

About the Author…

Andrea is a former secondary school teacher and counsellor. She has worked as a school chaplain for over 19 years and now also serves part-time on SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. Andrea and her husband are parents to three adult children and grandparents to two.

 

*Warren Berger, A More Beautiful Question

Posted: 27/08/2020

Fairness, shame and racism – how Covid-19 fears are stoking a dangerous fire

I’m not sure about other families, but my children definitely have a finely tuned sense of what is fair and what is not. “His slice of pizza is bigger…

I’m not sure about other families, but my children definitely have a finely tuned sense of what is fair and what is not. “His slice of pizza is bigger than mine!” “Why do I have to go to bed earlier than her?” “But I cleaned up after dinner last night!”

As parents we are constantly under pressure to make sure each child is being treated with complete fairness.

Last week we heard the news here in Queensland that three young ladies were found to have caught the Covid-19 virus in Melbourne, and then lied about their whereabouts when returning home. Naturally this put the state under great pressure to ensure we didn’t see a surge in the pandemic locally.

Soon after the identity of the girls was released, with their photos and names shown on the frontpage of our state newspaper, under the headline “Enemies of the State”, there was no hiding. They had done wrong and they had put us all at risk.

After the images and names were released, the comments on social media started rolling in thick and fast.

In these extraordinary times, when emotions are high, it was no surprise to see these young women recieve a lot of criticism. Sadly, it was also no surprise that the women, who happened to be of African heritage, started receiving a steady stream of vitriolic comments based on their race, which had nothing to do with their actions.

When I checked in with a Sudanese friend he confirmed that he and others of African heritage were having to cope with hurtful comments, as a result of the actions of these three women. He said “It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.” No it is certainly not fair!

We call it racism, when people are treated unfairly because of their skin colour or background.

One of the rules I have adopted in learning how to engage well with people of a different background, culture or faith than my own is: Do not judge a person by what other people of their faith or community do.

This reminder helps me to look at a person and acknowledge that while they may come from a people group who share some similarities, they are also unique and special, and need to be treated as an individual.

So yes it is right that someone is challenged and held accountable for their actions. This is justice, and if they have done the wrong thing they need to receive the consequences. That is fair.

However it is not fair to then transfer their behaviour onto all other people who look like them. Personally, I do not represent all men, or all Christians, or even all coffee-drinking-Brisbane-dwelling-right-handed-amateur-runner-Christian-men. So I should not need to answer for the actions of another person who shares any of my traits – be they spiritual, physical, cultural or otherwise.

Let us take steps to overcome the temptation to fall into racism or any other -ism that doesn’t see a person for their inherent value as an individual created by a loving God. And let’s help our children do the same.

About the author…

Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.

Posted: 7/08/2020

BibleProject Podcast

Have you heard or listened to the BibleProject Podcast? Each episode, hosts Tim and Jon invite you into theological, application-based and honest discussions around certain aspects of, and stories…

Have you heard or listened to the BibleProject Podcast?

Each episode, hosts Tim and Jon invite you into theological, application-based and honest discussions around certain aspects of, and stories in, the Bible.

The podcast can be listened to for free on their website here: https://bibleproject.com/podcasts/the-bible-project-podcast/

Posted: 15/07/2020

Living well with different neighbours

In 2010, I relocated with my wife Merryn and two-year-old daughter Rosie to Birmingham in the UK. We moved to join a new ministry called The Feast, which was…

In 2010, I relocated with my wife Merryn and two-year-old daughter Rosie to Birmingham in the UK. We moved to join a new ministry called The Feast, which was founded by SU England and Wales.

The goal of The Feast is to foster and encourage dialogue among young people across religions and ethnicities. I was so excited to join this movement, which is about celebrating differences, collaborating together and authentically learning from one another.

Little did I know that the opportunity to “love my neighbour” would present itself so soon!

Our family found a terrace house to rent in Chestnut Road; a suburb where around 70% of the population were devout Muslims from Pakistan. I must confess, we were a little nervous about moving into the neighbourhood and wondered if we would be accepted.

On the day we moved in, our next door neighbour (whose front door was literally 1m from our own), came out to welcome us. Her name was Rosie Hussain, and she told us she was so happy to meet us and was glad we had chosen this street to live in. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Over the next eight years, Rosie and her extended family proved to be the most incredible neighbours. They lavishly blessed us with gifts of food. Rosie’s husband, Jumshed, serviced our car, they invited us to celebrate Eid with them and joined us for Christmas. What’s more, their kids became best friends with ours’. It was a special time.

Back in April of this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its scariest, the whole world seemed to be talking about togetherness. Sadly, this unity has not lasted. We’ve recently seen the ugly depths of our social divisions.

The human race is made up of immense variety. Every single person is unique and special, and I believe, hand-crafted by a creator God.

We know as Christians we are called to love all people, regardless of our differences. But talk is cheap. We are called to put these words into action. In the case of Rosie and her family, it was easy for me. They welcomed us into their home and their hearts. I learned so much from the Hussains about what Jesus meant when he asked us to love our neighbour – and I am so thankful for that season.

The challenge is, how do we still follow this call to love our neighbour when others do not welcome us, or even persecute us? Or how do we love those who make us feel uncomfortable?

The Good Samaritan is a well known story which Jesus told to help his followers grapple with this teaching. The Samaritan man reached out his hand to help his neighbour at a time of great need. He did so, despite knowing that the man he helped most likely despised him for no other reason than his ethnicity.

For my good friend Rosie and her family, they reached out their hands in friendship to my family and I, despite our differences. They reached out, not knowing how we would respond, and yet they did anyway – and I’ve not been the same since.

The way forward with racism is complex, and I feel I could never capture all my thoughts in a single blog post. Instead, my hope is that a personal story with reflection on personal change will inspire you to learn, listen and understand more about the cross-cultural turmoil and unconscious prejudice across our society today.

 

About the author…

Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.  

Posted: 3/07/2020

6 online safety tips for the ‘new normal’

Are you or your child back at school? The eSafety Commissioner has released this great article outlining 6 ways you can prepare for the ‘new normal’ online. Lockdown restrictions…

Are you or your child back at school? The eSafety Commissioner has released this great article outlining 6 ways you can prepare for the ‘new normal’ online.

Lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted across Australia, but things have not returned to the old ‘normal’ yet and probably never will — more time online is likely to continue to be part of life.

Click here to read the article: https://bit.ly/3f2lc3m

Posted: 9/06/2020

How to talk to teens about George Floyd.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly…

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8

This week the world has again witnessed injustice and cries out for restoration.

Many of us will have experienced a visceral response to the events broadcast on our screens and devices over this past week. I feel; grief, anger, disappointment, guilt, hope, anxiety, and remorse as I try to comprehend what I have seen and heard and determine how I should respond.

You may be wrestling with similar concerns. I know many young people are.

So how do we help teenagers make sense of George Floyd’s death and the unravelling events of the past week?

We create opportunities for young people to express and talk about their thoughts and feelings in the safety of relationship. Teens look to trusted adults for guidance on how to respond in traumatic moments such as these.

The expectation is not to have all of the answers (I am well aware that I don’t), and it’s not to be a professional helper. You just need to care enough to listen and to ask them some questions. Be willing to have a conversation.

Here are some guiding principles to help you talk to your teens about George Floyd.

Make time and do not rush. Time = Value. As a parent or caring adult, we demonstrate the value of our teens by the time we give to them. Difficult topics of conversation require extra time to allow each person the opportunity to understand and be understood.

Acknowledge and normalise feelings/responses. Teens are forming their identity; they are looking to trusted adults, and peers to gauge what is “normal” and where they belong. Creating a non-judgmental space for teens to express themselves reinforces their sense of belonging and identity.

Be honest. It is okay not to have all the answers, and to process your experiences. The best way for teens to learn this is to have it modelled by those closest to them. Teens need to see and hear you do the journey. Note: you may need to measure your level of disclosure depending on your teen’s mental/emotional capacity.

Encourage empathy and compassion. Identifying with another and seeking to understand their perspective helps us build relationship and work more effectively with others. Compassion (acting from empathy) is a powerful tool in addressing trauma and injustice.

Draw focus from concern to areas of influence. There is a lot in the world to cause worry and some of it is outside our control. The good news is, Our teens often have a very strong sense of justice and they have an extraordinary amount to offer to the world. Actively engaging our young people with people and projects who are currently bringing hope, will in turn bring them hope. Maybe you could join them in making a difference by getting involved in a local project? Organisations such as World Vision, TEAR and ZOE are just some of many which have youth focused campaigns that may be of interest.

If you are unsure how to start or have a helpful conversation with your teen here is a question roadmap. Feel free to reword questions to suit your personal style.

  1. What have you seen/heard/felt/experienced? (Break these down into separate questions.)
  2. Of your answers to the above questions, what has affected/impacted you the most?
  3. What might you think/feel if you were in …’s (insert different roles, e.g. police, protestor, witness, victim) shoes?
  4. What could we/others assume about the situation/people involved? Are those assumptions correct? How do we know?
  5. What do you think this all means?
  6. How does that (refer to Q5) apply to your life/work/school/community?
  7. Now what can/will you do?
  8. How can I help you?

It is important that we all have an opportunity to process what we experience and find a way to make that experience mean something. My hope for this moment is that we remember what is required of us as sons and daughters of God – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God.

 

About the author…

Tess is a former school chaplain and youth pastor with 15 years of experience in youth work. She now serves as SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team Leader, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. She holds a bachelor of communications and diploma of youth work.

Posted: 3/06/2020

NUA Vlogs are answering some of the biggest questions teenagers have about Christianity! With vlogs!

Scripture Union Ireland have launched a new web series called Nua! It focuses on some of the big questions in life, which are explored through episodic vlogs. Some of…

Scripture Union Ireland have launched a new web series called Nua! It focuses on some of the big questions in life, which are explored through episodic vlogs.

Some of the questions they talk about include…

  1. How did we get here? The origins of human life
  2. Is Jesus a factual or fictional character?
  3. Investigating alternative theories for Jesus’ empty tomb

These videos are great for teenagers – we loved watching them!

To find out more info and watch the Nua film series, click here: https://nuafilmseries.org/episode-guide

Posted: 2/06/2020

What is Family Space?

Family Space is a resource-based website that’s all about nurturing the family unit.

Our mission is to equip, empower and nurture family households and church families across Australia.

Family Space seeks to support children, teenagers, parents and churches through practical resources, activities and expert advice.

We’re all about nurturing healthy families and creating healthy communities.

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