08 Oct My Journey with Orange: Part 2 – We’re All In This Together
As I shared in Part 1 of this series, my interaction with the Orange Strategy began as a parent, rather than a ministry leader. The church I attended as a young mom helped me realize how important it was to partner with a community of faith in my parenting journey. It was the first place I heard about the concept of partnering with parents and it gave me my first experiences with that partnership. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the flip side of that relationship, as I’ve worked in Children’s Ministry. These combined experiences have helped me apply Biblical principles to my parenting. This was incredibly helpful over the years – especially in those moments where I wondered if I had what it takes.
As a mom of two girls, I cannot tell you how many nights I went to bed and prayed, “God, what were you thinking giving me children? I don’t know what I’m doing with these kids!” I consistently wondered if I was being too hard on my kids or too easy…giving them too much leash or holding them too tight… asking if it was time for grace or time for truth? Being a part of a community of faith that was Orange got me through many of those sleepless nights. Having resources, leaders, and other parents speak into my life – and my children’s lives – as I attempted to parent my kids, was truly one of my greatest blessings.
Orange has produced a variety of resources over the years. They’ve provided information about leadership, parenting, what kids need, strategies to help align ministries within a church, and more. One of my favorite resources is a book written by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof entitled Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. I love this book, as it is a great representation of all that I have learned about parenting as a result of implementing the Orange Strategy. Within the pages of this book you’ll find that the key to parenting beyond your own capacity is found in partnership with others…specifically a community of faith.
The five key concepts covered throughout the book are:
- Widen the Circle: Invite others to invest in your children.
- Imagine the End: Focus energy and effort on things that make a lasting impact.
- Fight for the Heart: Create a culture of unconditional love in your home.
- Create a Rhythm: Tap into the power of quality moments together.
- Make it Personal: Let kids see how you strive to grow so they know how to handle their own limitations and pursue character and faith.
My Own Personal Wide Circle
While all five of the values listed above have been helpful to me at various times in my parenting journey, there is one that stands out above the rest, as making the greatest impact on my children (and on me). Widening the circle was a practice that I saw work over and over again, but was never more grateful for than in the years just before sending my kids off to college. As my kids got older, and my husband and I became uncool (or whatever the word is today), they needed other voices in their lives. Voices that were saying the same things we were saying. Voices that they would listen to. Voices that would point them to God as they faced challenges and decisions. I could share story after story of the adult leaders at my church that poured into my daughters and invested in them continuously outside of Sunday morning. Whether it was issues with friends, or break-ups with boys, or a frustration with me or their dad – these leaders were there for my kids. I remember one time in particular when one of my daughters was going through a very difficult time and within a day of hearing what was happening, her small group leaders had arranged to take her to dinner then next night. They spent time praying with her and helping her think through her next steps.
Both of my daughters were baptized at my current church and they were each baptized by leaders that had been investing in their lives and pointing them toward Jesus all along. My daughters went on service trips, foreign missions trips, and served on ministry teams at our church. The people they worked and served alongside of became like family to them.
I will never forget my oldest daughter’s last Sunday at our church before moving to college. After spending the morning with our church family, she came home – laid on my bed and cried. While it was hard to see her cry, she said something that made me pause and thank God for the wide circle of people in her life. She said, “I know that whatever I do in college, I have to have this in my life. I have to find and become part of a community like this.” My youngest daughter had a similar experience as she went off to college this fall. Her first few weeks at school she was feeling a bit homesick. I figured that was normal and tried to encourage her. As we talked, I realized she was not as much homesick as church-sick. 😉 The more we spoke, the more I could tell that what she was missing about home was a sense of belonging. Specifically, she missed our church and the relationships she had built there.
Thankful for Tears?
In both of these situations, I found myself feeling incredibly grateful. Of course I didn’t want my daughters to hurt, but at the same time, I was so thankful that our church community had given them something that they wanted to replicate in college (and hopefully in life). The best part of this story is that our church community continues to invest in my daughters while they are away at college. They receive notes, Facebook messages, care packages, and regular text messages from their small group leaders, ministry leaders and other parents. One family even took a two-plus hour detour from their vacation, to stop by and see my youngest in South Carolina last week! Both of my girls, after arriving at college, quickly sought to become involved in campus ministries at their respective colleges, and searched for churches nearby campus. I know that I had little to do with this. I believe the environment our church home created for them, the opportunities they were given to serve, and the leaders who partnered with me and invested in my girls, created this desire in them to become a part of a faith community – wherever they are. I am so very grateful!
All 5 values found in Parenting Beyond Your Capacity influenced my parenting, but Widen the Circle, by far had the greatest impact. It’s helped me see the benefit of having a community of faith by your side in your parenting journey. If you haven’t read Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, I strongly recommend it. We give it to all of our parents at our Parent/Child Dedication event each year. We really hope it jump starts our partnership with them because after all – as Zac Efron sings – We’re All in This Together!