Tag Archives: spiritual life

One of these someday

A reminder that the kind of person someone needs me to be today may be the kind of person I’ll need someone to be for me on another day…

Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and the wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.

-Dr. Robert H. Goddard

Also has a familiar scriptural resonance:

Treat others just as you want to be treated…when you find yourself in the same situation as them!  Luke 6:31 + Denise’s addendum

God give us the strength and grace to live in such a way.

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Filed under Leadership, Reflections on Life

Embracing My Spiritual ADD

My new article at YMToday: 

Everyone in ministry is a spiritual giant, right?  For all the wisdom and teaching that we pour into the lives of adolescents and their families, practicing a faith that is deeply focused and consistent might feel necessary.  At least that’s what I felt my devotional life should look like if I was challenging students to live out their faith each day.  But as a person who loves learning and who can be a bit of an overachiever, I discovered that when it came to Bible study, journaling, and prayer time, I felt like quite the underachiever!  I couldn’t stay focused, didn’t like taking lots of notes, and certainly had a hard time being consistent.  read more…

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Filed under Following Jesus, Reflections on Life, Youth Ministry

Families Walking the Faith Walk…Together

The first weekend in March, I had the privilege to facilitate a retreat for a group of 5th & 6th grade students AND their parents.  It was a first time event for Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa and the staff leaders and I all agreed it was a tremendous experience for both kids and parents.  During a short dialogue with parents just before the final session, one father summed up what everyone was feeling, “Thank you for giving me twenty-four hours with my kid where there was no competition with the tv, nintendo ds or computer.”

Last spring, I spoke for a Mother/Daughter Retreat at New Life Ranch in Colcord, OK.  Both events gave moms and dads the chance to interact, play and love on their kids for a dedicated amount of time.  I came away from both events thinking I’d seen what some of our youth ministry should look more like, more often.  So, here are some ideas for planning an event that parents and children can experience together:

1.  Create memories.  That can happen through challenge activities like zip lines or adventure races.  They can be tangible in the form of making an event tshirt or decorating a keepsake memory box.  You can include a personal component like parents writing letters to their kids or planning a scripture prayer walk they take together.

2.  Keep things moving.  It was important for me to engage both parents and kids during the time I was teaching.  So, I adapted my typical speaking outline to include short, fun, and relevant breaks from the sound of my voice in their ears!  There was a mad lib intro at the beginning that they helped to fill in, a short rap from Fred Lynch’s The Script:  A Hip Hop Devotional Through the Book of John that some students and parents performed together, a few 5 minute segments to turn and dialogue about the topic and one quick parent/child creative writing assignment.  The best part is that we were able to get everyone tracking with the same themes and I didn’t even once look out and see a 5th or 6th grader squirm out of boredom!

3.  Build on the experience.  These kinds of events are the best launching pads for more good things to occur at home.  So, give parents and children a chance to reflect on what they will face at home together and commit to needed changes that have been recognized on the trip.  Also, send parents home with tools to keep spiritual conversations going with their children and maybe even an invitation to participate with their child in some kind of regular Bible Study or worship experience.

4.  Impose a hiatus on electronic devices.  Although you may not want to go nuts and completely ban bringing ipods, phones, and handheld gaming systems, you can certainly ask that all electronic devices be kept packed or stored until the vehicles depart from the retreat.  Another option for addressing internet and texting addictions would be to just pick a remote retreat location with absolutely no cell phone coverage or internet access!  Parents and even kids will appreciate this rule – eventually!  Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that when there was a real emergency requiring contact with the outside world at a camp, we just used the camp office phone!

5.  Offer a chance for kids and parents to vent a little.  I don’t mean a gripe session, but I do mean an opportunity for moms and dads to interact and receive encouragement for the crucial role they play in their kids’ lives.  And I also mean a gathering for kids to share frustrations and get new understanding on why their parents are the crazy way they are!  Adolescence is not for the faint of heart – for kids or parents – and the sooner we help them handle the obstacles they’ll encounter in a healthy way, the more they’ll be able to enjoy the journey together.

The most important thing is that we help students and parents experience Deuteronomy 6:4-9 together:

Attention, Israel! God, our God! God the one and only! Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.  (The Message)

I’d like to facilitate that kind of legacy in every family!

For more ideas on how parents and youth workers can walk the adolescent road with students  and create memories along the way, you can check out my book, Mile Markers: A Path for Nurturing Adolescent Faith (YS/Zondervan). You can also find out more on my website, www.denisemckinney.com or find me on Twitter.

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Filed under faith

Puzzle Pieces


Today I may suffer great loss

but you will never leave

Today the world may turn its back

but you will not reject me

Today I may be faithless

still, you will remain – faithfully

Today I may scar my life with failure

yet your words will not scorn me.

It’s the puzzle of life that I don’t fully understand

How the One who is Creator extends to me His hand.

And the more that I know you – the less I comprehend

that no matter the mess or chaos I’m in…

Your love is real.  Your strength is sure.  Your mercies never end.



Filed under faith, Following Jesus, Reflections on Life

Grace is when…

GRACE:  benefaction, beneficence, benevolence, caritas, charity, clemency, compassion, compassionateness, favor, forbearance, forgiveness, generosity, good will, goodness, indulgence, kindliness, kindness, leniency, lenity, love, mercy, pardon, quarter, reprieve, responsiveness, tenderness

Grace is when I’ve used up all my chances and still get another

Grace is when your humility transforms my pride

Grace is when forgiveness extends a hand to my reckless choices

Grace is when gentleness meets my harsh words

Grace is when you hold on even though I am kicking and screaming at you

Grace is when you give me a break

Grace is when I’ve broken my promise and you still keep yours

Grace is when I’ve injured you and you bandage my wounds

Grace is when I’m surprised by a moment of underserved compassion

What is grace to you? When has grace been poured out on you?

What moments of grace can you recall in your life?

Finish the sentence: Grace is when…

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Filed under faith, Reflections on Life