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Frozen’s Most Valuable Parenting Lesson

May 31, 2015

parenting lessons

There’s a great lesson for parents in the movie Frozen:

“Conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show,” is an absolutely terrible response to a child’s struggle, disability, or unique trait!

The “Grand Pabbie” called it well: “Elsa, your power will grow. There’s beauty in it, but also great danger. Fear will be your enemy.”

Unfortunately, Elsa’s father was too absorbed in his own fear to heed his warning. “No, we’ll protect her. She’ll learn to control it.” You might expect the troll to respond, “No! That’s what I’m warning you against.” Alas, the well-intended father sets the stage for his daughter to turn in on herself with a bottling up act that can only last so long.

When the containment strategy fails in Frozen, Elsa walks triumphantly up a mountain singing, “the past is in the past.” In real life, the act of “letting go” is seldom as pretty. Out of a deep sense of shame and fear, children will develop a spirit of rebellion and turn toward destructive and false escapes.

Interestingly enough, if Dad and Mom would have adopted Anna’s posture of acceptance and faith, giving space for failure and teaching her how love casts out fear, the winter in July might have been avoided.

The difference between the two approaches goes back to Greek mythology where Ulysses and Orpheus both travel by a place called the Isle of Sirens. Sirens were ethereal female characters with hypnotizing voices, which in Greek culture would’ve represented “temptation.” One of the heroes of the story, Ulysses, is so terrified of being lured into their trap that he has himself tied to the mast of the ship and his ears stuffed with wax so that he doesn’t hear their tempting songs. Orpheus, another Greek hero who was also a fabulous musician, however, resisted the Sirens by sitting on the deck of his boat and playing his own music, which was actually superior to the music of the Sirens.

This story represents the difference between negative and positive goodness.

Only by having stronger passions do weaker ones vanish.

Grace drives out shame.

Love casts out fear.

Healthy, God-centered self-acceptance drives out pride and envy. Forgiveness eliminates resentment.

When dealing with a child’s disability or struggle, it’s important to:

1)   Accept and bless your child’s uniqueness.

2)   Model how love casts out fear.

3)   Allow room for failure and use it as a teaching opportunity.

4)   Interject extravagant grace when downward spirals set in.

At the end, Elsa discovers that love thaws a frozen heart. Love alone casts out fear and makes the difference between a power turned toward beauty or darkness. It was in her all the time but fear masked it.

May our kids experience the same liberation of God’s love!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. -1 John 4:18


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Blog, Featured Posts, Healing, Marriage, Relationships

Why Your Husband is “Checked Out”

March 28, 2015

couple jumping to the sea at sunrise

He’s disillusioned.

He’d never say it exactly, but his heart is broken. Life-giving dreams that once energized him aren’t materializing like he expected they would.

  • Michael sees his peers succeed and he struggles with bitterness and envy. “Why not me? I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be at this point in life. Things could have been so different if…”
  • Phillip is forced to let go of his “impractical” dreams and take a job that pays the bills. He harbors a growing resentment, “Is any part of my life even mine? All I do is meet needs for other people.”
  • Jonathan emotionally disengages from his marriage because his wife seems to reject him with her preoccupation with the kids, “Our marriage has become nothing more than a convenient partnership.”

Peel back the layers and you’ll find a sick heart.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” When life-giving hopes die, the question becomes, “What now? What takes their place?” Often, his answer is either a passive resignation or an active rebellion. Far too often, a man grows passive in the face of life’s stresses and hurts until there’s a breaking point and he starts to sabotage himself and those around him, almost as a matter of protest, “Fine then! Watch this!”

In a thousand creative ways, his will becomes detached from his being. He starts to give his time, energy, and attention to something other than his true identity and calling. And no amount of sex, drugs, toys, or achievements can mask the inevitable despair that will result.

Let’s rewind for a moment. Before that happens, you have a great opportunity.

Watching from the outside, you may hear his dreams and think, “It’s just his immaturity. Those dreams need to die. He needs to suck it up and do his job.” Some of that may be true, but it may also be that buried deep in his heart is a man waiting for permission to come alive and he needs your help peeling back some fears and insecurities.

Here’s where you can help him.

From Checked-Out to Checked-In

Champion his dreams!

Your belief in him means the world. In ways you’ll probably never know, your belief or lack thereof, is either a rocket booster or a prison chain. When he becomes passive or expresses hopes or fears in a moment of vulnerability, don’t miss your moment. Counter his self-doubt with faith. Encourage him to risk. It’s an adrenaline shot of confidence that will awaken him in every area of life.

Even if you feel like you’re speaking something into existence rather than affirming what’s already present, when you build up his character rather than question it and take the role of cheerleader rather than critic, you will see a new man come to life.

He needs to dream. They won’t all come true, but some of them might and they give him life. When he shares it with you, know that he’s opening his heart. Don’t kill it. Even if you think, “No way could this happen,” let it play out and encourage him in the process. The part of his heart that manufactures dreams needs to stay alive and if he’s sharing them with you, he’s given you one of the keys.

Champion his dreams!

Help him stay focused.

Join him in the dreaming. Help him sort out the potential from its distractions. Name his greatest strengths and how he can best use them. Remind him of what’s most important when he loses sight of it. Call him back to his first love and primary calling. In order to champion his dreams, you need to emotionally invest yourself in his dreaming.

I meet with so many middle-aged men who are simply disillusioned. They’re going through the rhythms of life largely checked-out. Some never rebel, but many do. Many more stop dreaming.

So, here’s a toast to the brilliant, world-changing ideas that exist just underneath a couple crazy one’s and more importantly, to you, who holds the key to the heart of the dreamer!

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Blog, Parenting, Spiritual Formation

Answering the Question, “Who Am I?”

November 7, 2014


I’m bracing myself right now. Somehow, my daughter’s 12th birthday has catapulted us light years ahead into uncharted territory. We’re now planning her 13th birthday and the changes are coming too fast. Don’t get me wrong– I’m happy about it all, I just wish we could slow everything down a bit.

We’ve been researching how to help her celebrate and step confidently into this new chapter of life. In Stasi Eldredge’s book, “Becoming Myself,” she describes how some friends called their daughter into womanhood with a special ceremony attended by family and friends.

I love this!

First, they kept the ceremony a secret. Continue Reading…

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Blog, Spiritual Formation

How Do I Know If It’s God’s Will?

October 11, 2014


God doesn’t hide His will.

I love my son. I’m not indifferent to the choices he makes. But I care much more about our relationship than him simply doing the specific things that I think are best.

God’s first concerns aren’t usually the same as ours.

No matter what “it” is, it’s not as important as the overall character of your life. God is more concerned with your character than your success. While we tend to focus on the “what” and “where” questions, God draws us back to the “who” and “why” questions.

Intimacy with God leads to faith in God.

        -Intimacy creates knowledge.

        -Intimacy comes through prayer.

        -Knowledge leads to faith.

There are different forms of knowledge. To know God’s will is to hear God’s voice (‘vocation’ comes from Latin vocare meaning ‘voice’). Intimacy creates knowledge.

“The word ‘obedience’ comes from the Latin word ob-audire, which means to listen with great attentiveness.  Without listening, we become ‘deaf’ to the voice of love.  The Latin word for deaf is surdus.  To be completely deaf is to be absurdus, yes, absurd.  When we no longer pray, no longer listen to the voice of love that speaks to us in the moment, our lives become absurd lives in which we are thrown back and forth between the past and the future.” -Henri Nouwen, Here and Now

Without faith it’s impossible to please God.

Why? God gives us promptings, never proof. Doubts aren’t the opposite of faith, in fact, they usually co-exist. You just need more faith than doubt to keep moving forward.

“Don’t’ go with the flow. Flow with the go.” Go where you see God’s blessing.

The vast majority of God’s will for your life is laid out in Scripture.

Embody the counter-cultural virtues in Scripture that reflect the character of God (simplicity, purity, selflessness). God’s version of a blessed life is not a baptized version of the American Dream.

Small steps of obedience lead to larger steps.

Faith is like a muscle and needs to be exercised.

God will meet all of your needs according to His riches in glory. (Phil. 4:19)

“God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supply!” –Hudson Taylor

The principle of multiplication, as found in Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000:

1)   God must bless something before it can multiply.

2)   It must be given away before it can multiply.

God will never lead you to do something that contradicts the Bible.

Make sure “it” doesn’t contradict Scripture.

There’s great wisdom in a multitude of counselors. (Proverbs 15:22)

Seek the counsel of people who have deep and consistent prayer lives.

Start reading great biographies. Such books help reorient our perspective to God’s kingdom. We’re influenced by our culture in so many ways that we’re unaware of. Such stories provide a beautiful prophetic critique and encouragement to our faith.

Some of the one’s I’ve enjoyed lately:

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

George Muller

“Protestant Saints” by Ernest Gordan.

Once you’ve sought God’s leading in prayer, searched the Scriptures, and laid out your question/hope/dream before wise counsel, feel released to “go unless you get a no,” trusting that “whether you turn left or right, you will hear God’s voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it!'” (Isaiah 30:21)

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