Storytelling to Perfection


Weeks after reading the book  Playing for Keeps, one statement is still rattling around in my brain. The book says,

Stories are just another one of God s brilliant ideas to connect us to what really matters.

As a small group leader, isn t this really my main objective? To connect kids to what really matters? It s the bottom line for why any of us want to work with kids. It s the burden parents carry. It s the reason behind why churches do so much for kids these days. They want to connect them to something bigger than themselves.

– Read the rest of my contribution to the Lead Small blog at:

Playing for Keeps Book Launch


Whether you re a parent or a leader, you re making history. The question is, what kind of history are you making with the kids and teenagers who are closest to you?  Playing for  Keeps  is a book about  six things every kid needs over time from the parents and leaders who are closest to them.

Orange is launching the book with a short, fun webcast at  12:30pm EST ON  WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Don’t miss Reggie and others as they introduce these ideas and tell why they think they’re so important. To view the webcast, go to

—The book can be purchased exclusively at


Moms and their Sons

So. I’m reading  a book  right now about raising adolescents.  (Gulp.)  My oldest is 11, and just entering the sometimes angst-filled, pre-teen stage. I know our relationship will change quickly over the next few years.  He will be reaching for  independence  faster than I am sometimes willing to grant it, and that’s sure to bring some conflict.  But in the midst of that natural tug-of-war for control, I also want those years to be filled with laughs, kindness, love, and respect. So knowing teenage-dom is on the near horizon, I am starting to prepare now.  How?

I am working on building a  real relationship  with my son.  “Of course” you might be thinking. “Who doesn’t have a relationship with their kid?” Unfortunately, in the day to day hectic pace of life, sometimes the relationship can be limited to discussion around chores, dinner, sleepover requests, and baseball schedules.  It’s not fun to admit, but I can easily let a week or more pass before it hits me that I’ve had no real, meaningful connection with my son.  Without acting deliberately, there’s no connection about hopes, dreams, plans, fears, doubts.  Without intentionality, there’s no shared revelations about spirituality, and who Jesus is becoming in his life and mine.

Not to mention that to first figure out how to elicit  any  kind of conversation – meaningless or otherwise – from an 11 year old boy takes a small miracle.

So from one parent to another, here’s what I’m learning as I try to navigate relationship-building with the not-quite-a-child, but certainly-not-yet-a-man in my house.  I am an imperfect navigator, but I am the only one for the job.

Give him chances to be brave, and then celebrate his bravery.   Let him jump his skateboard off that ramp.  Allow him a chance to build a bridge over the creek, even if it doesn’t hold.  Let him swim a little farther from the lakeshore. Say yes when he asks to sleep under the stars.  He won’t admit it, but he’s watching to see if you notice.  Let him know that yes, you notice, and you are  impressed.  

Create Adventure!

Create Adventure!

Stop asking questions.  This was a piece of info I gleaned from the aforementioned book I’m reading.  Ever have the conversation with your son like this? “How was school?”  “[Grunt].”  Instead of peppering him with questions, share something from your day, tell a funny story, tell him a secret that the younger kids can’t know about yet.  Talk to him instead of questioning him, and watch him open up.  (At least a bit more.)

Create shared memories.  You don’t need money to create memories.  Don’t buy into the lie that happy childhood memories can only be created at Disneyland or on the beach.  Go camping.  Explore the woods.  Catch fireflies. Look for ways to make everyday life a little more fun. Boys are big on fun! So roll the windows down and sing along to Lecrae, even if that’s not your thing.  He will roll his eyes, and you will embarrass him at the stoplight, but the shared memories are worth it.

Enter his world.  I’m bored to tears with Minecraft, but my son will talk ad nauseam about it.  So I try and listen.  I didn’t  particularly  enjoy Rick Riordian’s Percy Jackson series of books, but to my son they are the best books ever.  So I read every one, and it gave us a point of conversation.

Celebrate his strengths.    My son loves to draw.  So I am happily his colored pencil and sketchbook provider.  I love his artwork…but I love it more when he invites me to look at his drawings with him.

The art is good.  Talking to the artist is great.

The art is good. Talking to the artist is great.

Friends, we all know the sobering statistics:  the mistakes that kids are making in their teenage years are devastating.  Research indicates that kids with strong relationships at home, where they are known, loved, and accepted, are much more likely to come through their teenage years unscathed by life-altering moral failures.   Even when we give this parenting thing our all….our children will make mistakes, some that will likely break our hearts.  But they need a safe place to land.  That place is found in strong relationships.  Start now.


Another Friday Bag of Internet Wisdom


Each Friday I share some of what I’ve found interesting on the Internet in the prior week. I read the Internet, I know, I know…it makes me stupid. On this Friday, enjoy the Internet I’ve found for you.

The Friday Bag

The Separation of Church and Hate (VIDEO) –   “Are we making a point or making a difference? It’s easier to make a point; to adopt a policy; to put up a billboard or hand out a pamphlet. Making a difference is messier. It requires relating to people with whom you may not agree. But that is what Jesus modeled. In this message, Andy shows us why relational evangelism – despite being more complicated and despite looking inconsistent at times – is what we were called to as a church.”

30 Bits of Commencement Wisdom for the Class of 2013 –    “It s graduation season, and that means platitudes are parading out the mouths of notable speakers everywhere.  Every year, speakers spew the same old sayings: Never give up! Embrace failure! Be passionate! Here s a look at speakers who said things a little differently this year.”

Daniel Dennett’s Seven Tools for Thinking –   “Cognitive scientist and philosopher Daniel Dennett is one of America’s foremost thinkers. In this extract from his new book, he reveals some of the lessons life has taught him.”

100 year old Never-before-seen photos tell gritty story of NYC –   “Almost a million images of New York and its municipal operations have been made public for the first time on the internet.”

The War on Sleep –  “There’s a military arms race to build soldiers who fight without fatigue.”





The Friday Family Bag

Family Bag

Field Trip! 10 Books That Will Send Kids Exploring “Spring 2013 has been a very good year for children’s books that spark the imagination and make kids (and grownups) want to do a little more exploring.”

Radical: Three Years Later  Just over three years ago, a little orange book titled  Radical  was published. In the post the author, David Platt looks back on the success of the book, and it’s impact on reader and his own church in the 3 years since publication. Personally, this book has been a great inspiration for Starr and I. Couldn’t encourage someone to read it more!

BBC News: Why Finnish Babies Sleep in Cardboard Boxes “It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.”

Popular Books on GoodReads I can’t totally agree with everything on this list, and of course I haven’t read them all. I just appreciated the lists. Here are list for my kids ages:

Zach Sobiech is a 17 year old diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. With only months to live, Zach turned to music to say goodbye.