It’s a Safari!

It’s a Safari!

Are We There Yet?

It’s fun for kids of all ages at “Live with Characters” February 24 at Gardendale First Baptist Church-North Campus. Learn more and buy tickets at www.justkeepsmiling.org

Your children or grandchildren are sure to smile and maybe burst into laughter as they meet their favorite Disney characters, Ninja Turtles, Star Wars characters and more- all while going on “Safari.” There will be two “Live with the Characters” shows, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., on February 24, 2018, each followed by a meet and greet, autograph signings and pictures with the stars of the show. The event at Gardendale First Baptist Church-North Campus is a major fundraiser for the local non-profit ministry, Just Keep Smiling (JKS, www.justkeepsmiling.org). “‘Live with the Characters’ is a favorite fund raiser of all of our volunteers,” explains Just Keep Smiling founder, Sue Jeffreys. “It is a time we come together to do God’s work, having so much fun, while making children smile and have the time of their life.” JKS was born from the experiences of three local women, Patrice Brooks, Debra Cook and Sue Jeffreys. All three women know what it is like to live with tragically losing children or having a child with a life-threatening illness. Thirteen years ago, they established JKS which seeks to assist families with critically ill children by providing financial aid for immediate needs, offering emotional support based on personal knowledge of a child’s serious illness or death, and sharing spiritual insight that conveys the solace, grace and strength found in God. JKS works with a network of social workers at area hospitals to identify families with such needs during their time of medical crisis with a child or children.

Purchase your $10 tickets to “Live with the Characters” at www.justkeepsmiling.org, at Jeff Dennis Jewelers or at the door. Special VIP tickets are available with reserved seating, souvenir and preshow autograph and pictures (limited to 50 tickets per show). If your company or organization is looking for an opportunity to help families in need, consider a $300 Character Sponsorship at “Live with the Characters.” Contact jbusby@justkeepsmiling.org for details.

Later this year, JKS will host a Golf Tournament at Greystone’s Legacy Course on June 28, the Annual Merry Market at Gardendale Civic Center October 19-20 and Auction & Appetizers’ at Regions Field Ballroom on November 6, 2018. †

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Serving Alabama Children through CASA

Serving Alabama Children through CASA

For children who have experienced abuse or neglect, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can help make a difference by helping them work their way through the court and child welfare systems in search of a loving home. Each time a child is paired with a CASA Volunteer, their chances are greater to have the best possible outcome. CASA recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for the child’s best interest in the court process. They work with judges, lawyers, social workers, and families to ensure each child has an advocate in court, the child welfare, and foster care systems.

Many life goals and achievements that our culture considers normal rites of passage do not occur for children who are in foster care. Statistics show that 40% do not graduate from high school, 20% become homeless within one year and 25% will be incarcerated after leaving foster care. In contrast, children with CASA volunteers spend 7.5 months less time in foster care, experience fewer out-of-home placements, have significantly better educational performance, and are 90% less likely to reenter the system. By working to reduce the length of time a child spends in foster care, CASA saves the state thousands of dollars while drastically improving the quality of a child’s life, one child at a time. Every child that CASA helps to find a safe, permanent home is one more future adult who has a chance to thrive and succeed in our society.

In 2015, there were 10,279 dependency proceedings in Alabama. Currently, we only have the capacity to serve 10% of the children who need a CASA Volunteer. We must serve more but we cannot do it without the help of caring individuals willing to be trained to serve. You don’t have to be “qualified,” just a caring, compassionate and concerned person willing to be trained.

CASA is presently recruiting volunteers to work with abused and neglected children in all areas of Shelby County and parts of the Hoover area. Training classes begin April 2018. For more information on how you can help, please visit www.casaofshelbycounty.org or call Beth at 243-8753. †

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

No Parent Left Behind: Addressing Teenage Megatrends

No Parent Left Behind: Addressing Teenage Megatrends

Education Extra

Dr. Walt Mueller, the founder and director of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, will be presenting a seminar titled “No Parent Left Behind” at the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference on Saturday, February 3 at the Oak Mountain High School auditorium. Mueller took a few minutes to answer some questions about the challenges parents face today and how the conference can help.

What do you think are the biggest challenges that parents today are facing? There are two primary challenges that parents face today. First is an old challenge – the challenge of dealing with our own brokenness as we seek to raise children that are also sinful and broken. The second challenge is a new challenge- the challenge of a changing cultural context. Parents find themselves raising kids in a culture that looks very different from the one they grew up in.

What are some ways parents find themselves “Left Behind”? When I go speak to parents, parents of older teenagers say, “This was really helpful, but I wish I had heard this 15 years ago.” Things have grown and become issues, and parents wish they could have had a preventative influence. Parents feel left behind because they don’t understand what their kids are facing.

What are some of the topics you will be addressing at the conference? I will cover developmental realities and how they make children vulnerable to the cultural narrative. I want to keep parents from being caught off guard. I will also cover practical and hope-filled responses to topics like social media, sexuality, pornography, and media influence. I will seek to provide practical and hope-filled ideas that will help us that can become stakes in the ground as we engage with kids.

How will this conference help parents keep from being “Left Behind”? The conference will not be exhaustive or a cure all. People need to see this as a launch pad, spring board, or starting line of being aware of the kinds of things kids face so they can offer practical biblically-based responses. This can be a launch pad to journey together with people in their churches and community as they can look for ways to minister together to their kids.

Why should parents make attending the conference a priority? I want to make them aware. Once you know the reality, you can generate a response. This conference is not just for parents of teenagers. It would be very beneficial to younger parents and grandparents as well. †

-For more information or to register for the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference, please visit www.bhamparentingcollective.com

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Promoting Your Child’s Independence—and Why You Must

Promoting Your Child’s Independence—and Why You Must

Healthy Living

Many older adults say that today’s children are spoiled. While it is true that we parents are now giving our children far more material possessions and commercial entertainment than most of us received, the greater harm to our children’s development is that we tend to foster their dependence upon us. Not only do we excessively provide to our children the most positive experiences, we also tend to shield them from negative experiences—more so than previous generations of parents have done. This includes protecting the child from contentious peers, demanding teachers, and failure of various types.

Our desire to provide the very best life possible for the child leads us to overprotect, which has quite the opposite result. A child who is never tasked to cope with these unpleasant experiences of life never develops the coping skills that he or she will need as an adult. So, why should we be surprised that so very many young adults are now living lifestyles of utter dependence upon parents? Many of them are residing with their parents because they experienced difficulties in college, cannot find and maintain employment, have divorced, have become dependent upon drugs, or are generally anxious or depressed.

God tasks parents to prepare their children for coping with the stress of this world as they seek the bliss of eternal life. Trying to prevent a child from ever experiencing disappointment, betrayal, unkindness, or failure merely postpones the inevitable. Postponing those experiences only cements the child’s belief that this world is filled with nothing but fun, success, and people eager to praise them and dote on them. The longer this belief builds, the harder it will be for the older child (or young adult) to accept reality and build skills for coping with it. As parents, we must be judicious in allowing our children to have some unpleasant experiences while we protect them from the most distressing ones until their coping skills have developed.

-Dr. Thomas Maple 

Dr. Maple is an Alabama-licensed psychologist and the founder of Crosswalk Psychological Services, LLC.  His clinical background includes work in private practice and in university clinics and he specializes in providing faith-based services online. To explore opportunities for you and/or your child to engage in CrossWalk faith-based psychotherapy services online, visit www.crosswalknow.com, call 334-744-3694 or email office@crosswalknow.com

 

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

College Choice:  Essential Questions for Christians

College Choice: Essential Questions for Christians

Education Extra

Dr. Roger Parrott is in his 20th year as President of Belhaven University. He is a third-generation College president, and was one of America’s youngest college presidents first elected at age 34. He earned his Ph.D. from the Univ. of Maryland in Higher Education Administration.

The intense competition for recruiting university students has masked the reality of ever-worsening diluted and polluted values in higher education. The unfortunate result of not knowing the real story is that far too many smart Christians have been duped into making dumb college decisions. Students and families are fooled by name-brand marketing campaigns, as well as the glamor of campus amenities and prestige rankings. Or, too often, Christian families buy the naïve assumption that any school will do, as long as you attend a good Bible study or church near-by.

I’m deeply concerned that smart Christian families are being swayed to follow culture’s value of higher education – Size, Sports, Status, and Sizzle – rather than the Godly criteria that would help students find the school that best matches their needs. In contrast, at Belhaven University, our focus is Character, Curriculum, Caring, and Christ.

The typical criteria of college selection are highly inadequate for Christian families to make a well-informed university decision:

  1. Most families reference US News rankings, but don’t realize those scores are skewed in favor of the type of institutions the editors attended.
  2. All students study the quality of academic programs, but forget to examine as carefully the character of the individual who does the teaching, as well as the curriculum that guides the learning.
  3. Some parents urge students to consider enrolling where they attended a quarter-century ago, but don’t realize that while the university campus may look the same on the outside, the worldview in the classroom has dramatically shifted.
  4. Research tells us too many students make their decision within seven-minutes after they get out of the car for a campus tour, thus, deciding on the appearance of the campus.
  5. Often families base this direction-shaping decision on money. And while that is an important factor, this critical juncture of life is too important to be guided only by the prospect of saving money in the short-term.

While the attractiveness of size, sports, status, and sizzle may appear enticing, Christian families need to weigh the alarming realities of both campus-life and classroom-life at flagship universities before making their decision about which school to attend. Character, curriculum, caring, and Christ won’t be featured on ESPN’s College Game Day, but they will be the priorities giving lasting significance to a university education that effectively prepares students for a life of service and meaning. I have awarded over 10,000 diplomas during my years as a university president and have worked with thousands of families making this critical decision. Learning from their experience, I’ve written a paper outlining better criterion for selecting a school, and I’d like to email a copy of it to you if you’re interested in knowing more:  president@Belhaven.edu

Roger Parrott

President, Belhaven University, www.Belhaven.edu

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Mommy & Me: Developing Creativity & Expression

Mommy & Me: Developing Creativity & Expression

Special Feature

Mommy & Me Ballet Classes begin January 18 at Briarwood Ballet located at Briarwood Church, 2200 Briarwood Way, 35243. Learn more and register at www.briarwood.org/balletclasses . Space is limited.

Toddlers – this one is for you! Grab your favorite adult and come dance! Create rhythms and movements and wonderful memories together!

That’s right, January 16, 2018, Briarwood Ballet kicks off its “Mommy & Me” eight-week class especially designed for children ages 18 to 36 months. “What a joy it is to teach toddlers to develop a love of movement and music!” explains teacher Meredith Dorough. “Our hope is that this early introduction will begin a lifelong appreciation for creativity and expression that will continue to develop for years to come.” Dorough brings a wealth of experience and excitement to this class. The mother of three grew up dancing with the Briarwood Ballet, was a member of the ballet’s performing group, Ballet Exaltation, and returned to be on staff in 2003. Since then, she has taught ballet to pre-school to high-school students and is the director of Briarwood’s performing group “Immanuel.”

Mommy & Me classes will be held every Tuesday from 9:15-10 a.m. at Briarwood Ballet/Briarwood Presbyterian Church, beginning January 16 through March 6.  “This class is such a fun experience for me and my tiny dancer!” exclaimed one mom. “I loved seeing the joy on my daughter’s face as she was introduced to dance in such a fun way!” The class registration fee is $130. Learn more and register at www.briarwood.org/balletclasses or call 205-776-5284. †

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

The GIFT of Music

The GIFT of Music

Music Notes

“Mom, thanks for letting me quit piano lessons when I was a kid!”… said no one ever! Actually, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had someone bemoan the fact that they quit taking piano or voice or [insert your instrument of choice here] lessons as a child.

In elementary and junior high school, my love for music wasn’t nearly as strong as my love for sports. I dreamed of being the next Roger Staubach, but I was also in the school band and found a great love for music. I am grateful for parents and educators who encouraged me to try different activities and taught me not only to complete whatever commitment I had made to a sports team or any other group I was involved in, but to also do my very best in them. For me, music won the day and I clearly remember all the wonderful people who helped me along the way. The only regret I have is not taking private lessons earlier in life.

Today it seems as if parents are choosing specific paths for their children at a very young age, but let me encourage you to take a breath and allow your child the advantage of experiencing many different opportunities- including music making. It is a well-known fact that music education has tremendous benefits such as self-discipline, teamwork, organization, critical thinking and many more. However, as Northwestern University research revealed and Melissa Locker reported in her Time magazine article, “This is how Music Can Change Your Brain,” to fully reap the cognitive benefits of a music class, kids can’t just sit there and let the sound of music wash over them. They have to be actively engaged in the music and participate in the class.” I promise you will not regret the time and energy spent in pursuing music education. One way of doing this is through programs like Meadow Brook Baptist Church’s School of Fine Arts, otherwise known as S.O.F.A.

S.O.F.A. is designed to meet the student where they are and help them develop the skills and discipline it requires to reach their fullest potential. Whether for use in performance, ministry or personal enjoyment, S.O.F.A.’s mission is to see each person grow in their talent and passion for the arts. Whether you are a beginner or very experienced musician, take advantage of S.O.F.A. and reap the benefits music has to offer. Registration for spring classes is taking place now, visit www.mbbc-sofa.org.

-David Vaughan 

Worship Pastor, Meadow Brook Baptist Church, 

4984 Meadow Brook Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242

205-991-8384, www.meadowbrookbaptist.orgwww.mbbc-sofa.org

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Out of Balance?

Out of Balance?

Bringing Out the Winner

I have had 16 knee surgeries in my lifetime. As you can imagine, I have spent a LOT of time in rehab. The greatest challenge to getting back to normal activity isn’t necessarily strength, although that is VERY important. It really boils down to balance. If your repaired leg isn’t as strong as the other leg, you will always be a little off balance. Another injury is likely to occur.

Over the years, we have dealt with thousands of dysfunctional families, all of whom are in some way out of balance. Why have so many parents and families lost the balance in their lives?

One of the greatest challenges we face as parents is knowing when to be tough and when to be lenient. Too many times, one parent is the easy touch and the other is an immovable hardliner. This issue is magnified when both parents are too soft or too hard. It is an especially tough circumstance when you are a single parent trying to do the job of both parents.

Try following the points below:

  1. Ask God for wisdom (this is the best start!)
  2. Pray without ceasing
  3. Have open communication with your spouse
  4. Define clear goals
  5. Communicate those goals to your child
  6. Keep realistic expectations
  7. Always be consistent

Nobody has it all together.  Just do your best, trusting God for the “balance.”

John Croyle, Founder, Big Oak Ranch 

Author, Who You Are/Defying the Circumstances that Define Us, Bringing Out the Winner in Your Child, The Two Minute Drill to Manhood and Raising a Princess, www.bigoak.org

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

5 Ways to Equip Your Kids for Faithful Living

5 Ways to Equip Your Kids for Faithful Living

Education Extra

Learn more from Dr. Mueller, February 3, at his “No Parent Left Behind” seminar at the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference, Oak Mountain High School auditorium. For details and tickets go to www.bhamparentingcollective.com

Since we as parents are called to equip our kids for a lifetime of living under the Lordship of Jesus, it is essential for us to prepare them for a lifetime of weaving together the inseparable bond that must exist between belief and behavior. What we must instill in our kids is both a knowledge of the Gospel message (belief), along with how that message must inform, shape, and transform, every square inch of life (behavior).  As I look around at today’s youth culture, there are numerous aspects of childhood and adolescent life where Christian parents must begin challenging and equipping their kids to see how Christian beliefs speak to their behaviors. Here are five key areas to consider:

1.Playing. Many of our kids are involved in athletics. Are we teaching them what it means to play to God’s glory as opposed to the glory of self? And, are we equipping them to prioritize rather than overprioritize or idolize sport and play? Are we helping them put their lives in order by teaching them to see opportunities for spiritual nurture and gathering with the Body of Christ as a higher priority than practices and games?

2.Studying. Do we expect them to work to the best of their ability, producing the best work they can if they have a bent toward academic laziness? Are we pushing back on the anxiety-producing obsession and academic competitiveness some kids have, where they are never satisfied with the results of their best efforts? Are we teaching them to study first and foremost to increase their knowledge of God and His world, as opposed to achieving the idol of good grades? Are we helping them see that academic achievements are not an end in and of themselves, but that they are a path to contributing to God’s work in the world?

3.Posting. Our kids will be engaging with social media and technology for the rest of their lives. Are you teaching them to live out their faith on social media by setting up clear borders and boundaries, along with endeavoring to bring glory to God rather than trying to solicit glory and attention for self? Are you leading them to find their identity in Christ alone, rather than in the frequency of “likes” and positive comments to their curated/fabricated posts and photos that typically don’t even come close to representing their true selves.

4.Relating. Are you teaching your kids to honor, love, and respect authority? Are you equipping them to glorify God through their friendships? Are you teaching them to put others first?

5.Driving. There’s a reason why states and insurance companies place restrictions on new teenage drivers. They’re new to this, without experience, and developmentally impulsive. Are you teaching your kids to see driving as an act of worship where they can bring glory to God through safe driving habits. . . beginning with putting their smartphone aside while behind the wheel?

The life of the Christian is one that is to be lived counter-culturally and around the clock. Equip your kids for faithful living and for effective mission by nurturing them into playing, studying, posting, relating, and driving to the glory of God.

– Dr. Walt Mueller

Founder & President, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Pin It on Pinterest