Category Archives: Parenting

Grandmother 2.0

(Mom, I know you are reading this, but I just had to blog this.)

So while laying in the bath (don’t picture it) catching up on my email on my iPhone this morning I get this from my Skype-friendly mother:

>> I noticed that your location on Twitter is still Frisco. I enjoy
>> reading it. Did you get the email from Facebook about adding me?

To which I responded to my mom:

< snip >
> Thankfully I have a policy of never doing anything online that
> my mother would not approve of, so I am safe. You have to be the most
> technically with it woman over 60. You are not supposed to even know what
> Facebook is, much less be on it.
> No, we can’t be friends, you are my mother. The last thing I need is my
> friends ganging up with my mom to do an intervention or something. Yes
> I still have a healthy fear of your wrath and of disappointing you. I
> thought you were retiring to knit, bird watch, and befriend Oprah…what
> is this grandmother 2.0?

I am sure that response will seem harsh to those of you who don’t know exactly how much I really love my momma and how much I admire her. The truth is, she is the one who taught me Windows ’98 and got me my first technology job during that horrible period after school where most of us didn’t have a clear career path.

My point in sharing all of this is to A) brag on my mom to butter her up before she comes to Florida to visit, B) bring out the fact that she isn’t the only older person I am seeing with technical and social software where-with-all. Over the last two years I have had a number of older persons send me “suggestions” about how to improve the websites I oversee, as well as to let me know when something isn’t quite working the way it should. With non-profits, they are especially proficient at online giving and web streaming. It seems they are also highly interested in when events start. Bygones.

What I am trying to say is that I think we now have Grandmother 2.0, which I will define as “a women who has planted two generations of family and knows more than the average Generation X person”. Why Generation X you ask? Because there seems to be a dividing line between most of us and the digital-natives that is marked around 1980.

Is anyone else seeing what I am seeing?

(Mom, I know I told you after you discovered my blog not to comment on posts…but feel free to share your thoughts.)

We Have News

Yep, it has been ages since I wrote anything on this blog. Wish I had good excuses. My buddies all find time to keep blogging and their friends know what is up, so I can’t really start crying about being too busy. Just have not made it a priority to be honest.

None the less, we have news. Baby #3 is on the way and he/she is due in October. I could not be more thrilled, and Ashley could not be more sick. Not only does she have her first trimester “don’t let food get anywhere near me” sickness, she also has a cold/cough that my two girls also picked up along the way. This morning we were all whooping like a bunch of whooping cranes.

Not going to promise any amazing blog posts, but hopefully I can be a bit more regular and let you know what is going on in our lives. Thanks to all of you who have stayed subscribed to my feed. More soon.

Fallen But Not Forgotten

In the decision to move to Florida to work for Christ Fellowship, I had to deal with some feelings of unworthiness that I had not faced in a long time. When God tees up a sweet shot for you, it is sometimes tough to think you are the right person to take the swing. In my case, I felt unworthy because of my falleness. I am very familiar these days with my weakness because it rears its head daily in my life in the little things. You know, parenting, finances, relationships, and work. So in the midst of working out if the move to Florida was right for us, I just felt this overwhelming fear that God could not possibly use me for a work as significant as what seems to await me in West Palm Beach.

During the week I was thinking these things, Christ Fellowships #2 guy delivered a message (view the video) which put me at ease. The first ten minutes are especially worthy of your time, as he walks through the great men of Hebrews and recounts their fallen sides. It’s a brilliant reminder that just because we are fallen doesn’t mean the Lord has forgotten us. Jesus still has a plan for each of us that takes into account our screw-ups and disabilities. We still need to pray every morning for God to have His way with us, but we can have a confidence that Jesus does not forget us when he is ready to do a work. Just because we are fallen does not mean we are forgotten.

A New Job and Neighborhood

Word is starting to get out a bit that I have resigned my position with Stonebriar Community Church this week and accepted a position with the 30th largest church in the US. We wanted to let all of you know this as early in the process as possible, but also had some details to work out before I could make things official. I have been away from consistent blogging for awhile so that I could get this life decision made.

Where is this?

Christ Fellowship in West Palm Beach, Florida offered me a CIO type role that was just too awesome to not consider. After a rapid, yet extensive interview process, Ashley and I came to the same conclusion as Christ Fellowship that God had created an amazing fit between what they need in a technology leader and what God has made me to do. I will initially manage a department of 6-8 folks doing everything from programming to helpdesk to data warehousing. The team is pretty junior, but very talented none the less. Really a good group to be able to mentor.

What will you be doing, exactly?

For some of the more technology challenged readers, I will try to boil this down for you. I will manage a team of people who keep the email working, the files storing, the computers healthy, the data safe, the website updated, the member contact information reportable, the videos playing, the telephones working, etc.

In addition to these regular Church IT duties, I will be helping the church navigate the technology waters to a place of understanding how technology can be leveraged to improve the way they do the Christian life together. Whether this is through a better website that connects people with each other, systems that help improve the discipleship of church members, or an intranet for better communication within the staff, the goal of the position will be to partner with the other executives to champion technology projects that are sponsored internally. I am a change agent for technology within a church who already loves change and technology. What could be more fun?

Are You Moving?

Well yes we are. Believe it or not, God’s call on our life in this case was so strong it is making us give up our Texas residence. Leaving our friends, family, and this great State of Texas (Long live the Republic) were about the only downsides of this ministry move. We are seriously grieving moving to the beach. Some of our friends are just laughing in our pitiful faces and saying, “There are a lot worse places to serve the Lord. It could be Africa or a Peanut Farm!” Thank you Jesus it isn’t both! And they are right, West Palm Beach is about the most affluent place you can be a church worker. Living in constant good weather and around nice things shouldn’t be such a pain. We just love what we have here. We are comfortable. We are fully supported.
Some scripture came to mind in this that haunted us a bit:

Mathew 16: 24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

Mark 1: 16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

When is this happening?

My last day of work at Stonebriar is August 10th and my first day of work with Christ Fellowship is August 13th. I will work remotely for three weeks. We will move over Labor Day weekend, with my first day on site being September 3rd. “There is a lot left to do” is an understatement of understatements.

With this having happened this week, I have heaps more to say about this, but it will have to wait cause I am out of time for today. We’ll write more soon.

Family Values – Obedience

As we wait on our family values list to be created by interested participants, we thought we would kick things off with the family value “obedience“. Obedience is an important value because it deals with a child’s’ physical safety and their understanding of God. There are times when the consequences of disobedience are not just inconvenient, but deadly. Sin is death, yes, but so can be an untimely sprint across the parking lot.

If we aren’t careful with the way we describe and enforce obedience, we can become rule-focused rather than character-focused. The kids could have a hard time connecting obedience to anything other than the removal of privileges or an appropriately-delivered spanking. Beaver Cleaver getting “yelled at” comes to mind.

The Obedience We Want

What we want to see is the child understanding that a heart of obedience extends and honors relationship. Obedience is not something we always do blindly, but when there exists a relationship with love, this can also be a part of the equation. A “leap of faith” can be an obedient response to God asking us to do something that doesn’t make complete sense. And there will be times that obeying daddy isn’t completely understood.

None the less, obedience is critical to safety and our understanding that God has not compelled himself to remove consequences when we do not obey him. The old testament and the new testament provide plenty of examples of God allowing someone to experience destruction as a result of their disobedience. We do reap what we sow, don’t we?

Defining Obedience

One of the most obedient set of children we have ever seen are the kids of J.J. Barto. I believe his kids respond out of their love for the parents and a whole understanding of the definition and value of obedience. I can tell you first hand, his kids stop what they are doing and come running with any call of their name. They don’t have to be asked more than once. J.J. and Charlotte don’t remember exactly where they found this, but their whole family can recite it at any moment:

Obedience is doing what has been asked or ordered all the way, right away, with a good attitude.

J.J. affirmed this definition works in a recent email to us:

This has held up very well for us over the past 5 1/2 years with both our children and us.

Family Value Modeling

And that brings up a good clarifying point. What is required of our children should be required of us as well, right? If we want the kids to live out these family values, we must submit our own selves to them and model them. We need to be faithful to obey God and defer our preference to those who love us (our spouse, our teachers, our mentors) in front of our children. While this deferment isn’t exactly obedience, it shows our own willingness to submit ourselves to others gladly.

Over the last month we have been using a variant of the definition J.J. provided. Our definition for the girls has been:

“To obey means to do the right thing, the first time, with a good attitude.”

Our idea was to abstract out the “asked or ordered” portion such that there is an understanding that Biblical truths, government laws, and complementary family values must be obeyed even without an explicit ask. We also wanted to include an aspect of our belief that there is absolute truth/right. Now that we look at it though, it seems we have dropped the “all the way” portion. Complete obedience is indeed a critical component of obeying.

Another variant of these same definitions that our friend Reagan Swank mentioned once could be the original (source yet unknown but it sounds like Babywise): “Obey all the way, right away, and with a happy heart”.

The “happy heart” part might be a little unrealistic? When we obey God, it isn’t always bringing glad tidings and with a smile on our face. As we said above, the hearts condition is critical to obedience, but I am not sure it can be instituted or enforced.

What About Your Obedience?

What about you. How are you defining and talking about obedience within your family? Should obedience be a family value? It is up to every parent to implement the obedience process with those who are caretakers of their kids, but what works for you? Can you think of a time where the value of obedience was made clear to you through specific language, a metaphor, or an event?

Discovering Family Values

With our recent time in the hospital came some moments of down-time that really made me wonder what I value. In fact, not only what I value, but what we as a family value. Ashley and I had spent much time considering the question and verbalizing to one another what we believe and what we want to instill in our children. But are we getting through to the little ones with our family values? Are we taking every opportunity to model them for our kids?

The Problem with Family Values

Family values don’t seem to stick as well as they used to. All around are families who seem divided about what they believe. Even within Ashley and my extended family, we don’t see broad agreement about how to raise children and what the children’s character should be. “Family rules” have no basis when there is not an articulated set of values that provide the foundation. Getting uncles and grandmothers and babysitters to enforce the family values is even harder when they are not easily conveyed or transferred.

Family Values Permanence

So I began to ponder the opportunity of putting some of these values down in writing. It seemed like an imposing task. Family values, in many ways, are about the character we want and the character God has. They are tough concepts to wrestle with, but even tougher to put into language a child can understand. So, I began making a list of the family values Ashley and I have discussed that would be possible candidates to put in writing.

Always one who would rather not reinvent the wheel, it occurred to me maybe some other families had already walked this road and I could adapt what they had written. As I talked with five great men to which I am no peer, none of them had written down their family values. They all had them. They all deeply desired to imbed them within their families. None of them had written them down. Thinking five are better than one, I talked with my wife about taking our family values discussion to the internet and including our family and friends. She reluctantly agreed.

Family Values Proposal

Family values should take on a unique and personal flare for each individual family. The implementation is unique and thus the final set of values should be unique. But the core values are similar, and I propose that we work on this project together, using the comment system on this site as our discussion method. We’ll take a value at a time and discuss it thoroughly. Comments on each value will close after two weeks. Each family can then take what is useful and discard the rest. Together we are much wiser, no? So, please, help us all by sharing your perspective. Ponder these things alongside us. Pray through it with us. Blog about it if you have a blog. Ask your parents and advisers what they think.

Who is Invited to the Discussion?

Anyone holding a evangelical Christian world-view. That is the short answer. This isn’t a forum for crafting new beliefs or debating political agendas. This is about honing in on the core of a given family value and finding a way to articulate it in a solid, timeless way that our kids can adopt. Ashley and I are inviting all of our family to contribute. After all, if they are going to live with the family values we chose, they should have a healthy opportunity to debate them. Feel free to invite your family to this discussion as well. We’ll all learn from one another. This is the invite we are sending out in a few moments:

Family and Friends,

Ashley and I are putting our family values into writing. As we shared with others our desire to solidify our values in terms our children can understand, it seems many families have yet to do this. Most everyone indicates it is a worthwhile endeavor and that they would do well to have their family values written out as well.

Since the values Ashley and I choose for our immediate family impact our relationships with you all, as well as the way we will ask that you interact with our children, we want to invite you to participate in the drafting of these. You are also free to use this discussion as a starting point for putting your own family values in writing.

We’ll be considering each value on our blog and request your participation as you are able. Read and comment on the values related discussions here: http://www.ashleyandjason.com/ Thanks in advance for your partnering with us in creating something that will help us develop character in ourselves and our children.

Warmest regards,

Ashley and Jason Reynolds

Family Values Resources

No, it has not eluded us there are heaps of resources out there on “Family Values”. Books galore. Programs explored. Our approach here is not a rejection of those resources. We may borrow from the Proverbs, books, videos, wives tales, or from other copyrighted works. Everything is fair game since this is for personal use. In fact, the process we will follow on the blog is a bit like the bonus projects that accompany Family Life’s Raising Children of Faith. When you do use or reference other resources, I would ask that you cite the reference.

List-o-Family Value

After talking with Dave about this project, he agreed to jump in and provide his list of family values worth consideration. So I have merged his list with my own. Add your own values in the comments. Ashley and I will post a compiled list and trim it back for these discussions:

  • Accountability
  • Cleanliness
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Contentment
  • Conviction
  • Cooperation
  • Courage
  • Determination
  • Discipline
  • Endurance
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Forgiveness
  • Friendship
  • Generosity
  • Gratitude
  • Honesty
  • Honor
  • Hope
  • Humility
  • Individuality
  • Initiative
  • Integrity
  • Joy
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Learning
  • Love
  • Loyal
  • Morally Pure
  • Obedience
  • Openness
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Personal Excellence
  • Resourcefulness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Safety First
  • Self-Control
  • Selflessness
  • Service
  • Trust
  • Uniqueness
  • Wisdom

Praise God My Daughter is Fine

As you may remember from our hospital stay and the update, one of “my little-darlin’s” had an airway event week before last that threatened her life. This morning we went in for the procedure to scope her airway with the anticipation of finding something structurally wrong or possibly some other kind of odd obstruction. After a 10 minute procedure and a short 1 hour recovery, praise God my daughter is fine.

By fine, I don’t just mean gorgeous and altogether brilliant, or that she recovered well from the procedure. I mean her airway is perfectly normal. The ear, nose, and throat doc is left shaking his head and saying “it must have been one of the worst cases of croup ever”. Yet, there is no remnant of inflammation, an aspirated obstruction, or anything else that would have caused the problem. From the looks of things, there is absolutely nothing wrong and she has never had any issues. What is wild is that she never really had horrific coughing or the other symptoms of croup!

So, some will ask, was this a “healing” or a “miracle”? Did the prayers of literally hundreds of Christ-followers across multiple time zones, in at least 6 large churches, and from all our family and friends make the difference? Was it the determining factor that lead to her now “normal” condition? Most cessationists would probably say no. Bible.org does a fine job of laying out the issue, but here is a snippet:

The [non-charismatics/cessationists] generally make a distinction between sign gifts and edification gifts. Sign gifts, they say, served their purpose in the first century by attesting to the authority of the apostles and their divinely-inspired message. Once the New Testament canon was complete, miraculous gifts were no longer necessary, and they gradually disappeared from the church. Hebrews 2:3-4, for example, is used by non-charismatics to imply that signs and wonders had already ceased by the time of the second generation of Christians. Some also build a case for the cessation of sign gifts from 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.

I am sure some folks would even ride the fence and say that the gift of supernatural healing and the outcome of supernatural healing are two different things, thus the cessationist argument can hold true. It would indeed seem short-sighted to believe God accomplishes NOTHING supernatural through his people on earth these days. My own view is that if God’s character never changes, then He can not help but continue being Himself … which involves creation, healing, judgment, undeserved grace and mercy, miracles, et al.

Ok, ok, back to the question. Yes, I believe this was a healing. Having been with her when she nearly went to see Jesus, I know how serious it was. She was moments away from checking out. Then, within less than 24 hours she was nowhere near deaths inevitable door. Within 2.5 days one did not know anything had ever been wrong. And now, there is no evidence of anything that would have caused the situation. I believe the prayers of many made a difference!

Did we move God? Nope, I don’t think so. I think this was all within his plan and purpose for all of our lives. Not much stirs the heart more than a sick infant, does it? God allows this stuff to happen for our faith and growth. It is to accomplish His Glory! In a sense, Ashley and I were asked in this crises to give up our right to our youngest daughter in the same way we had to give up a mis-carried baby who we named Samuel. Christ was quietly asking, “do you love me enough to …?”. We answered “not our will, but yours.” We are guessing most of you prayed alongside us in a similar way.

God is faithful regardless of this outcome, but it sure feels great to be perplexed over exactly how she became whole again. Will there be similar issues down the road? I dunno. I do know my daughter is now well, those I love have supported me in ways unimaginable, my faith has grown, and that my Jesus remains Holy and Just. Thank you all for walking this bumpy road with us.

Update on Our Youngest Daughter

First of all, thank you for your support and interest in how our 15 month old has been doing since her time in the hospital.

We have had 3 doctor visits since we were released, and Sydney is doing well on a day to day basis. Her upper airway has been inspected three times, and all is well there. The inflammation seen below the trachea seems to have lessened to some degree. The ear nose and throat doctor charged us a week and a half ago to “keep her in a bubble” until we could figure out what is going on.

The concern is that a cold, infection, virus, allergies, bee sting, or something else could cause her airway to inflame and close again. So, we have been doing our best to keep both daughters cooped up and un-“exposed”. Ashley is especially tired from keeping the little bits while I am at work, so please pray for her.

This Wednesday, little Sydney will be put under around 7am for a 10 minute rigid bronchoscope where they look at her airway and into the lungs. The ENT has indicated it is either the worst case of croup he has ever heard about, or some anatomical problem may exist. Most anatomical problems are correctable through surgery these days, but there are a few conditions which could impact her quality of life. We’ll no more on Wednesday.

Thanks again for you care and prayer during this trial. God is using it in a number of ways and He is in this like all the other trials Ashley and I have been through together.

How are you?

Found myself in a conversation this morning with a fellow staffer whose husband is depressed. Taking meds but still depressed. In my attempts to encourage her, it occurred to me that her husband doesn’t take his meds regularly enough because he probably thinks if he were a “true believer” then he wouldn’t struggle with feeling down or “depending on anything but Jesus”. We don’t allow ourselves the freedom of being weak, do we? Some guilt-ridden part of our mind whispers “You lack faith if you depend on anything but Jesus. You aren’t as strong a Christian if you need help. Why aren’t you counting your blessings? Surely life isn’t that bad that can’t just pray through it.”

This is a common thing Christians seem to buy into, that our lives should be happy and perfect. And, sometimes they are close, but no life will stay ideal. It isn’t the way God works. Refinement comes by way of the fire and until we are perfected in heaven we’ll always have some remnant of impurities. There is a pressure to make everything appear alright in our lives. What God seems to most enjoy is broken people with contrite hearts and authentic dependency on receiving strength from the Holy Spirit. In an IM with a friend yesterday, I referenced the pressure as:

… some churches forget that to “be like Christ” means “attempt to be…” not “project the appearance of [being]” like christ… and that is what it boils down to for me… i want to acknowledge my imperfections and by shining light on said failures, Glorify God in the mystery of His having made me Righteous when I didn’t deserve it.

Last week, someone passed this farse of a blog entry to me on how to create a relevant pastor blog. Though a great read for any Christian blogger, #10 is the most relevant to this present diatribe on the pressure to be all-good.

10) Stay upbeat! I can’t stress this enough. Christians are always supposed to be happy, and seekers will fuel off of your enthusiasm. It’s contagious you know. Even if your dog dies, stay upbeat about it. Remember, even if you are not a very inspirational person, people will think you are, just because you are so enthusiastic.

Silly, isn’t it?

Good Intentions

Romans 7
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

So, right, I can’t exactly blame my not following up on my last post as the sin within me, but this text does describe how I am feeling at the moment.starfish.jpg

Good intentions. I am full of them. I intend to honor my wife in a big way every day, but do I? No. Every day for the last month, I have intended to connect with old my buddy, but have I? No. (sorry Blake) Just as I intended to make great grades and eat better in college, I intend these days to make more money and do more ministry. But do I? Do I really?

The answer is of course an precarious NO. I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate! And there are no excuses. There isn’t anything precarious about the no. I can’t say… ah, that is “my sin man” and I can’t help but fail since there is nothing good within me. I have to accept responsibility for my failures. I should not blame my circumstances, my family, my ministry, or my finances for my dropping the ball on what is better. Mediocrity. I hate it, yet I find myself in it.

I do intent to follow through on my last post to write seriously about web ministry. I have good intentions, and I hope to deliver… even if later than promised. Expect it in the next few months… and hold me accountable to it.