Are you a Church Hopper?

 

When I was a new Christian, I had a church that I loved very much. It was a wonderful church and I grew so much while attending that church. I had a wonderful church family, supportive friends, and great ministry involvement. This church was a blessing and in some ways became a burden later in life.

You see after attending such a great church, I began to compare every church to that experience, which made finding a new church, when I moved away, more challenging. My husband and I moved to a city where we knew no one, we also couldn’t agree on what we wanted in a church. I thought it was the ministries that I wanted. I thought that my involvement with very specific ministries is what would help me grow again. My husband wanted something more modern and smaller. We tried out a few churches and finally agreed on a pretty modern church. I didn’t really like it, but hubby did, so we stuck it out for 2 years. After two years, we felt like something wasn’t right. We couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but we both felt the nudging that we needed to look elsewhere, so we did. We then found another small church, which we were able to attend from their very first service. We both really enjoyed the church, the friendships and the atmosphere, but after two years, we moved to another town, which meant we had to church hunt again.

Quickly, after moving to where we live now, we found a church that we both could agree on. It was a huge church, similar to the one I grew up in, but very different for my husband. The church wasn’t perfect, as that is probably impossible to find, but we felt like the pastor was teaching sound doctrine, which was most important to us. We have been attending this church for four years now and have truly enjoyed it, but ever since our daughter was born (2 years ago), we started to feel like maybe it wasn’t the right church anymore. I felt so frustrated by this because we truly liked the church and really couldn’t find a solid reason that we would need to leave, so we both ignored the feeling and stayed for another two years. Here we are two years later and feeling lead to find a new church.

I kept thinking, what is wrong with us? Are we church hoppers? I don’t want to be a church hopper. I kept thinking maybe we shouldn’t look elsewhere because there isn’t really anything “wrong” with our church, so why are we even looking? I prayed and prayed that God would help me know if this was his leading or our selfishness that was encouraging us to search elsewhere? I was really torn, our daughter was baptized at our church, we made really good friends, and the pastor gives really great sermons. At a recent service, we found out that the lead pastor at our church was taking a three month sabbatical, which is a normal process for our church leadership. We felt like this was a good time to just try out new churches and see if we should really be seeking a new church, or if our current church was our home.

We tried out two new churches, but it wasn’t until the second church that I realized what this was all about. The second church that we attended made me forget about everything at our “home” church. The people, the environment and most importantly the sound doctrine made us feel like we belonged. We don’t want to jump the gun on this one and assume this is the “right” church for us, but what we realized was really important. We’re not church hoppers. We’re Christians who are listening to the prompting of our Lord. You see, there really isn’t anything “wrong” with our home church, but we realized is that God is changing our hearts and as a result, we need our hearts to fed differently, by a different pastor, a different community, a different church. It had nothing to do with how involved we were or weren’t. The nudging we are feeling isn’t about us at all, it’s about God and what God is trying to do to bring us fully to our sanctification.

I’ve concluded that there are people who are church hoppers and that’s OK. I don’t think we should judge church hoppers because I think they are still searching and seeking and I think that’s good. What I have realized though, is that leaving my home church does not make me a church hopper, attending four different churches in the course of eight years is OK because at each church I was in a different phase of my walk with Christ and my marriage was at a different place and now eight years into my marriage and one daughter later, God is wanting to nurture our hearts in a different way and maybe the next church that we choose to join will be our “forever” church and then again, maybe not. What I do believe though, is that when we follow the Lord’s prompting and we evaluate our own hearts with discernment, we will find where the Lord wants us to go to church and we will be blessed for our obedience to his prompting.

Do you have a church family? How long have you attended your church? Have you or do you ever consider yourself a church hopper? If so, do you think that’s a bad thing?

Linked up with:

  1. Cornerstone Confessions
  2. Time-Warp Wife
  3. The Better Mom
  4. Upward Not Inward
  5. Fancy Little Things
  6. Women Living Well

 

The Secret to Understanding Teenagers

*All names in below scenarios are made up, as are the stories that are shared for illustration purposes. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

I love teenagers. This is why I teach high school, this is what got me out of bed every morning when I used to

Me as a teenager. Age:15

commute an hour to work every day, this is what would keep me at the school until 10:30pm watching my students play basketball, drive home and turn around to be back at the school at 7:00am. I think teenagers are fantastic and no, I’m not crazy, I just know the secret.

Before I tell you the secret to understanding teenagers, I want to make sure you truly appreciate the point in life that teenagers are in. It is exciting and new and awkward. Teenagers want to be adults, but they still feel like children, because they are still children in little adult bodies. They want to be independent, but are scared of what that really means. Teenagers have angst and that’s appropriate and fair. I want you to take one minute to think back to what it was like as a teenager. You don’t forget those years, because those years were crucial in determining what type of adult you would be. Were you bullied? Were you popular? Were you a nerd? A jock? Just reflect for a minute on what that time in your life was like.

Now, for the big reveal, the secret to understanding teenagers is…

LISTEN.

That’s it, just listen. Listen to what they are saying and go beyond the surface of what they are saying. Truly listen to what is behind the words they are using when they are speaking to you.

It’s hard to listen to a teenager complain about how “Jill texted Jen, who texted Billy that she liked him, but she didn’t want him to know because he has a girlfriend and she didn’t want her to get mad and now she’s going to cry because Billy will see her at school and know that she likes him.” I get it, this is not important compared to the things you have going on in your adult life. Hearing about a dramatic text exchange is nothing in comparison to the bill you have coming up and aren’t sure how you’re going to pay, but I challenge you to see that this text is just, if not more, important than the bill your struggling to pay. This small exchange of information is a teenagers way of testing to see if you care.

Below are five examples of some things teenagers might say and what they are really saying that you might be missing:

1. The dramatic text exchange. This can range all over the place, but your teenager swears to you it is the worst thing in the world that could have happened, or maybe it was the best thing in the world that could have happened, or maybe they might “die” if anyone knows. Whatever the story, your teenager is telling you that it’s important and in reality it is. In teenage talk, this text message is the biggest thing that has happened to them all day and it may result in some awkward and embarrassing moments at school. They need to know that you are there for them. They need to know that you think it’s a big deal because you think they’re a big deal. They need to know that if it’s “super awkward” at school the next day, you’re going to be at home that evening welcoming them and giving them the safety that they didn’t feel when Billy told Jen to text Jill and tell her he’s not interested. Teenagers need you to listen.

2. If your teenager ever, I mean EVER says to you that they need to talk to you, it is in your best interest to stop whatever you’re doing and talk to your teenager. This opportunity may not ever come again and if your teenager is approaching you to talk about something serious, then you need to talk to them right at that moment. If you ignore this chance, or tell them you can talk later, they may change their mind about what it was they were going to say. DO NOT MISS THIS CHANCE. I mean it. You will regret it and your teenager will believe they cannot talk to you in the future. This is a really big deal and you need to have an open ear and an open heart to what your teenager is saying. Teenagers need you to listen.

3. Pay close attention if your teenager says something along these lines, “Joe/Stacy at school is so mean. He/She is always saying stupid stuff to me. I wish he/she would just grow up and leave me alone.” Do not reply with, “Oh, he just likes you, or that’s what boys do, or she’s just jealous of you.” These are not helpful words to your teenager. Ask a few questions, like, “What kind of stuff is he/she saying?” “Does it bother you a lot?” “Is it interfering with your school work?” “Does your teacher know and are they doing anything about it?” If you’re teenager is saying this to you, it’s probably because they are being bullied. Bullying is not the same thing as it was “back in the day.” Bullying is a very different game now and if you’re teenager is saying something along these lines, they are subtly telling you that they feel insecure. You must address this. Don’t embarrass your teenager, but ask them some questions to find out how deep this issue is, because it may be bullying, or it may be just an annoying kid who sits next to your teenager in class. Either way, you need to address it and not dismiss it. Teenagers need you to listen.

4. If your teenager ever blames their performance in class on a particular teacher, be sure to hear what they are saying. Sometimes this is valid, teachers can pick favorites and sometimes it shows, but most of the time this is really a cry for help for something deeper going on. Maybe they don’t understand the subject and feel “dumb” in the class, so they’re playing it off as the teacher doesn’t like them. It could be that their best friend is in the class and that’s a distraction or their worst enemy. If your teenager is blaming the teacher, get to the bottom of it and find out if it’s valid or not. If it is the teacher and you have proof or a strong motherly intuition, then make an appointment with the guidance counselor and try to switch around classes. Taking the initiative to help your teenager get into a classroom that is more suitable shows your teen that you care. Teenagers need you to listen.

5. Finally, if your teenager says they wish they were dead, they hate you, they hate themselves, they hate this world or any other extreme negative feeling or word, then you must pay attention. Do not dismiss this. This is a cry for help. They need your attention or anyone’s attention because most likely the feelings they have are too big for them to handle. You are the parent, you must help them handle these feelings, so as they become adults they can handle those feelings alone. More and more teenagers are cutting, taking their own lives and taking prescription drugs than ever before and we cannot blow this off as a sign of our times, but rather focus on what is really happening, our teenagers need to be heard. Teenagers need you to listen.

Because teenagers are very independent and function much like an adult, it’s easy to blow them off, to let them remain self sufficient and to ignore their eye rolling and other “teenager behavior, ” but we cannot forget that teenagers are still children. We have to be there to support them, to encourage them and most importantly to listen to them. That’s truly all they want. They want to be heard by the people who are most important in their lives.

I hope you weren’t expecting some spectacular secret, because the truth is, the secret to understanding teenagers is just to listen to what they have to say. Your teen will thank you one day.

Do you have teenagers at home? Do you work with teenagers? What other tips can you offer that would help someone working with a teenager?

 

  1. Cornerstone Confessions
  2. Time-Warp Wife
  3. The Better Mom
  4. Upward Not Inward
  5. Fancy Little Things
  6. Women Living Well

Monday Manners: Playdate Etiquette

In keeping with this month’s theme: Back to School, I thought it be appropriate to talk about playdate etiquette. As children go back to school, stay at home moms may be looking forward to their playdates with their younger children and other moms, but before you leave your house to attend one of these gatherings be sure to know the rules.

Ways to Behave at a Playdate: 

1. Make a Good Impression: If this is your first time attending a playdate, be sure to bring something with you. This could be some freshly baked cookies, bread or other goody, just make sure there are no peanuts in the food, unless you know for a fact the other child/children are not allergic. In addition, you’re going to want to dress well. I’m not saying you need to dress fancy, but wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt to a playdate will not make a good impression. You’ll also want to make sure that you are friendly and not overly opinionated. If you start mingling and realizing you have little in common, you do not agree with anything they say, or you are outright offended by their opinions, it is best to keep your own mouth shut tight. If you decide afterward this group or person is not your cup of tea, then at least you’ve left a good impression and make a mental note to not schedule a future playdate.

2. Keep the runny nose at home: If your child has a runny nose, a fever, a cough or any other “sickly” symptom, do not attend the playdate. I repeat, DO NOT ATTEND THE PLAYDATE. Call the other mom or the mom who is coordinating the group and let her know that you are so grateful for the invitation, but you will need to decline and attend the next gathering as your child is sick. No one wants to have your sick child around their child. I know that it can be hard being home all day and getting together with other mom friends is nice, but even if your child’s energy level is fine, they are still sneezing and coughing all over other children. This will not only leave other mom’s questioning your child’s health, but it will also put everyone in an awkward situation when someone needs to confront you about the germs your child may be spreading. If your child has allergies and struggles with allergy symptoms, you may feel comfortable attending the group and explaining to everyone at the beginning that your child has allergies and is not contagious. This will ease the minds of the other mothers and allow the group to carry on as usual. If you are the one hosting the group and your child is sick, please cancel and apologize. Other moms will be happy that you were honest and not spreading sickness. Finally, if your child is a “little” sick (i.e. a minor cold), please follow the above mentioned protocol. Do not ask everyone if it’s OK if your child comes to play. If you ask everyone if they mind, they will say no because they don’t want to hurt your feelings and if they say yes, they feel like a total jerk. I’ve had this happen to me. I’ve had to tell someone they could not bring their child and I felt really bad afterward, but I thought it was only fair to keep everyone healthy.

3. Thank you and Good-bye: Once the date is over, be sure to say thank you. If this is a new group/friend, be sure to send a handwritten thank you card. It will mean a lot to the host. In addition to thanking everyone, be sure to leave promptly when the playdate is over. Never over stay your welcome. This is obtrusive and rude and it is a good rule of thumb that if the host has set the hours of a date, then they more than likely have a schedule they need to stick to for the day. It is best to honor their request, their schedule and their hospitality.

So there you have it, ways to behave on a playdate. I hope you find this useful and don’t forget, you can always send in a question is you have one! Happy Etiquette!

*Disclaimer: I am not an etiquette expert, I just really enjoy learning about it. I have no professional training or background in etiquette, but am passionate about teaching manners to friends and family. These etiquette tips are mostly my opinion of what I think is appropriate based on my readings and the way I was raised and are meant only for entertainment purposes.