I’m curious. Who has ever taken your child on an outreach (local or overseas)? How did it go?

I recall my first mission trip. It was Haiti, 1995. It was transformational. It changed my life forever. So much so, I would eventually become a full-time missionary.

Flash forward 22 years.

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My 14-year old daughter and I just finished a 1-week mission trip. Here’s a plug: It’s one of the dozens of Jesus Film Mission Trips offered to the public each year. This family-friendly trip is available for kids 14 and older if accompanied by a parent.

My daughter was very excited and I was thrilled to be a part of this experience with her. This particular trip to London focused on a certain group of religious people from the Middle East who vacation in England each year.

More than 200,000 of these individuals flood into the country to sightsee. So we had the opportunity to meet this friendly people group, form relationships and share our passion for making Jesus the center of our lives.

What I love about Jesus Film Mission Trips is the care they offer us as trip participants and the training you get for this outreach.  

My daughter and I received training on the religious beliefs of these unreached people. And learned how to find common ground in what we know and believe is actually true about God. Finding common ground, rather than arguing over truth and heresy obviously builds trust and friendship rather than building walls that separate and alienate us–making it easier to share our faith.

As part of our in-country training, my daughter and learned some basic conversational Arabic! How cool is that? This helped create bridges and build relationships to more effectively share the gospel. Part of our role included distribution of the “JESUS” film and copies of the New Testament.

My daughter led one person to Christ and had spiritual conversations with dozens more. I was so proud of her. I think one of the most memorable things you can do for and with your child as Christians is to do an outreach together. Whether it’s feeding the homeless with your church on a Saturday morning or flying across the world to share your faith, try it. 

I know one reader (a relative of mine) has taken their kids on mission trips and I’d love to hear from that relative in the comments below. But what about the rest of you? 

What results have you got (positive or negative) from including your kids in a local or overseas outreach? Tell us your story.

1Most schools are out for the summer. It’s time for vacations and resting.

Wrong! Not for single parents.

For singles with kids, no school could mean no rest while they try to entertain the kids or keep them from boredom and trouble.

Single moms and dads have to worry about the cost of childcare and balancing the kids’ time off with a work schedule.

Do you know a single mom or single dad you can help during the upcoming months?Here are a few suggestions for how you, your church or small group can help:

1. Offer to take the kids for a day. Not only does this remove the cost of childcare for a day (which can be up to $200 a week!), but also the stress of having to get them there on time and pick them up.

2. Buy groceries or make a meal. Approximately 25% of single father homes and 50% of single mother homes live in poverty.

3. Offer to do some chores around the house. This removes one more thing from an already overwhelming day. Clean the house, mow the lawn, do a little fixing up on areas that need it.

4. Take the whole family somewhere. Whether it’s just to the park or beach for the day, or even a week camping, this will be a tremendous blessing.

Single moms and single dads need downtime just like the rest of us (even more so); bless them with an opportunity they may normally feel guilty taking or unable to do themselves?

Whether relaxing or stressful, it’s easy to get caught up in our own lives. Still, there is always someone in greater need than us—we just need to keep our eyes, ears, and heart open for the opportunities God places in our path.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them… –Matt 7:12 (ESV)

Portions adapted from a post at “A Father’s Walk” on June 2, 2018

 

Single dads, let’s talk about the elephant in the room…

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and although it’s a holiday that celebrates the wonder and beauty of mothers, you can’t help but envy the honor and attention they get, knowing in about 30 days you’re probably going to experience something quite different.

Father’s Day is fast approaching and for many single dads it’s not going to be fun.

Of course, not every dad gets neglected or overlooked. For many fathers, its gonna be a grand day. For me, it will be a mix of being honored and loved by my two youngest kids, mixed with wondering if this year my older kids from my previous marriage will remember to call or send a card.

NON-CUSTODIAL DADS
A lot of times we don’t realize it but some of the issues that lead to a bummer of a holiday for non-custodial dads are:

  • The children live out of state.
  • The kids are very young and the ex forgets or refuses to remind them to call dad.
  • The ex wont pick up the phone to allow dad to converse with the kids.
  • The kids are old enough to remember to call or send a card but they are just self-absorbed (forget).
  • The relationship has been damaged (whether by dad’s mistakes or the ex-spouse poisoning their minds against him).

Rather than lighting a candle and staring out the window in despair (which isn’t above me by the way), try making the most of this day that is all about you, regardless of who celebrates with you. It’s okay to do something for yourself and even by yourself.

CUSTODIAL DADS
For those men who are raising their kids alone, I’ve been there too. Father’s Day isn’t automatically awesome just because your kids live with you. In fact, sometimes because they are with you full-time, it can be easy for them to take you for granted.

Maybe the best Father’s Day gift you can think of is getting a break from them. Time alone.

When my kids were too little to make a card or homemade gift, I didn’t have the privilege of having a wife who could fill in for them by giving me a card or cooking a steak dinner. It was up to me to celebrate myself. I’ll admit it’s not as fun as when someone else is celebrating you. It loses its purpose…but I did it anyway because the other option was to light that candle and stare out the window again.

When my kids were old enough to get an allowance I just got honest with them. A few weeks before Father’s Day I would just ask, “What are you planning for Father’s Day?” or I’d say “Hey kids I’m not sure what you are wanting to do for me on Father’s Day but I’d sure love to have some weeds pulled or breakfast in bed.”

WIDOWERS
Those who have lost their wives to death face unusual challenges. Mother’s Day can be so exhausting emotionally that by the time Father’s Day rolls around you could feel unworthy to be celebrated. Your kids may go out of their way to honor you. But you may feel like down-playing this special day. Try not to cheat your kids out of showing you some love. The road you’re on is hard and lonely and you deserve the attention.

Whatever your lot in life, Father’s Day is what you make it, not what others make of it for you. If you are depending on others to make your day perfect, it’s probably not going to happen and you’ve got a bigger problem of entitlement that needs to be addressed.

Remember, your real worth doesn’t come from how well you’re honored, but from what Christ did for you on the cross. That’s your true identity as a child of God and ultimately, He is the Father we all need to honor on that special day in June.

Tell us, what is your favorite thing to do on Father’s Day?

Mother’s Day is upon us. If you’re a single parent, are you making assumptions about spending time with your kid? Have you discussed it with your ex and your child?
During the first few years following our divorce, my ex-wife and I were awarded joint custody. We lived close by so everything worked out well.
But later, when we lived three states away from each other, my ex and I both had to compromise when it came to holidays. We could no longer drive the kids to one another’s home mid-day on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sharing was hard, especially when minor holidays (i.e. Memorial Day, Father’s Day) didn’t merit a road trip.
Whether we live close to our child or not, rotating those special occasions will eventually be an issue. We need to emotionally prepare ourselves by having a plan, asking each other some questions:

  • Should we rotate every other holiday?
  • What special days do I consider unimportant to be with my child? Which are non-negotiable?
  • How does your former spouse feel about this?
  • What’s my child’s expectation?

As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approach, discussing these with the ex-spouse is key. Now it’s your turn….share your advice for the rest of us. What has worked or not worked for you?