Youth

Changing and Growing as Parents

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

7/8/21

We are in the throes of a record setting hot summer, and we’re venturing out from our COVID-19 cocoons.  Parents of teens are now being forced to ask themselves what this might mean for their teenage sons and/or daughters.  For the past year we knew where they were . . . likely at home.  We knew who they were with . . . likely alone or with family.  We knew what they were doing . . . okay, that might be a stretch.  This change in our environment has caused parents to now face the difficult challenge of parenting their teens through these changes.  I found a really good article with some useful tips.  They are not from a religious standpoint, but they are golden. My prayer for each of you is that you find ways to continue to improve as a parent.  That doesn’t mean that you are not good at it now!  It simply means that our youth need our best, so they can be their best.  Keep growing and challenging yourself to adapt to their new needs.

My own boys are now in their early 20’s, so I’d appreciate you sending me an article on how the heck to parent them!  =)

Click the link below to read how we can adjust our parenting as our kids get older.

Changing and Growing as Parents


Losing My Religion

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

4/29/21

I wake up each morning, throw on my reading glasses (yeah, I’m getting old), and grab my phone to read the latest news from the previous day.  This time keeps me, at least a little bit, updated on current events in our city, country, and world.  A couple of weeks ago an article caught my attention because of its title: Losing My Religion.  I had to open it.

The article is well written and also covers a topic that many of us have thought about over the past several years, and especially as we have lived out this pandemic.  Please click the link below take a minute to read it.  You may not agree with everything the author says, but I do see great value in giving it some thought.

Losing My Religion


Learning Patience

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

3/8/21

A year ago, almost to the day, we found ourselves in a strange new pattern.  Masks, distancing, hand sanitizer, and an odd lack of toilet paper were the easy signs of our new world.  The more subtle signs took a little more time to manifest.  Here are a few of my little indicators that life was going to be different.  I received a letter from Arizona stating that I had filed for unemployment, which was false.  Then a few months later Montana followed suit, yet I have never even stepped foot in Montana.  Last month Kentucky also gave me the news.  Of course, I spent the time to file my grievances and lock down my credit, but this was all a sign of unrest in our culture.  People were showing their desperation and panic by stooping to new ways of finding stability financially . . . theft.

Another more subtle instance of our solitude creeping away at our psyche is the isolation.  I am not yet sure of the impact of social distancing, but there is a price to pay.  My fear is that our patience for others might deteriorate, or maybe our teens will lose their already frail ability to connect with peers in authentic relationships, or worse yet we simply become apathetic to the needs of others.  Fear is such a temptation during times of stress.

My thoughts go to my source of peace.  My thoughts go to my faith that our Creator gave us the tools to repair . . . and even to thrive during trials.  My thoughts go to each of you, and my hope is that you too are able to seek these free gifts and blessings from our God.  One word in particular has been on my heart and mind: patience.  Please reflect on the verses below.

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

1 Corinthians 13:4 – Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; it is not arrogant.

Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

I am being taught patience.  I would guess that many of you feel the same way.

Peace.


In Service to Others

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

2/8/21

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
–Mahatma Gandhi

Finding oneself is difficult.  Finding oneself as a teenager during a pandemic…no thank you!  Our teens are desperately seeking to discover who they are, where they fit in, what their purpose is, and why it all matters.  Gandhi’s quote about finding yourself in the service of others is perfect.  So often in our Western Culture we see our accomplishments, money, possessions, and authority as the path to understanding.  Those things are not bad or wrong, but they certainly cannot answer the question of who we are or how to discover ourselves. 

Serving others is not only a beautiful way to discover oneself, but it’s also a way to connect with our Creator and Lord.  Jesus served with every breath, and his example should be a roadmap for our lives.  I invite you to start your journey of self-discovery, of unveiling your true self, and start by offering more of you to others.  It is a beautiful and rich journey.

The ELCA has many wonderful opportunities to get involved in service to the world.  Click the link below to investigate some of the simple ways you can get started.

In Service to Others


Talking Faith

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

1/18/21

Parents, as you have conversations about faith at home, I want to share an article with you that I think has some value.  I know firsthand that sharing our own faith and guiding our children in faith is extremely difficult.  This article does a nice job of offering ideas on how to approach it in ways that your teen will likely appreciate.

Know that you are all in my prayers, as are your children.  We are on this journey together.  Click the link below to read the article.

Talking Faith


Life for Teens in 2020

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

12/28/20

Parents,

For months we have watched our sense of normal change.  Working with teens and raising teens is difficult in the best of times, but this year has proven to be anything but that. 

Stop and think, for just a moment, about what some of the most important things for teenagers are:  developing independence, socializing with friends, playing a sport, having a hobby, getting good grades, learning to drive, and, of course, spending time with family.  These are some of the biggies that come to mind.  In 2020 their lives have been stripped of several of the items on the list.  Through no fault of their own, they have lost almost an entire year of life’s normal educational routine. 

My hope for each of you is that you will take time to discuss these losses with your child.  Give them the acknowledgement that they deserve.  Build in time to mourn what we are going through.  Because of our faith in Christ, we have a sense of joy and hope that provides perspective.  However, our teens are still formulating what their faith is, so they may not feel those assurances as strongly or as clearly as we do.  Acknowledge that as well, but also take time to share your joy and hope with them, so that they might be inspired, or at least comforted, by your conviction of better days to come.

One thing 2020 has taught me is that our teens are strong people.  They really are.  Let’s pour into them!  We finally have a “captive” audience with our teens, so let’s take advantage of our extra time with them.  Shape them, prioritize them, cherish them, and listen to them.  I promise you will not regret it!  Please check out this interesting article from the New York Times.  It covers several other aspects of raising teens during the pandemic and offers some great insight.

Life for Teens in 2020


Jesus and Authority

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

10/20/20

Matthew 21:23-32

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

From Faith Lens:

Gospel Reflection

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the “cleansing” of the Temple (Matthew 21:1-16)  set the stage for his confrontation with the chief priests and elders.

“By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”  That is the question put to Jesus by Jewish leaders who are obviously upset at what they perceive as an attack against both the Temple and their own authority. Yet, their question is not an honest one.  That is, they are not really seeking knowledge and understanding, but are looking to trap Jesus.  Indeed, they are well aware of what his actions imply – that he is the Messiah, God’s anointed one.  They hope, in answering this question, Jesus will give them something they can use against him.

Jesus is wise to their ploy.  And while his counter-question hangs them on the horns of a dilemma, it is more than simply a clever way out.  This question concerning John the Baptist is a clue to the answer Jesus would have given, had his questioners been open to the truth.  If they truly understood what John was about (see Matthew 3:11-17), they would know where Jesus gets the authority to say what he is saying and do what he was doing. 

In sharing a parable about a man with two sons, Jesus goes on to underscore the fact that they have chosen to ignore John’s message and, therefore, Jesus himself.  After all, what does it say that even people whose daily lives seem to be a big “No!” to God believe John’s message of repentance and renewal, when the religious leaders do not?  What does it say that even tax collectors and prostitutes “get it,” when those who should most welcome the Messiah refuse to see God at work?

This is not simply a story from long ago.  Jesus continues to challenge us to open our eyes to what God is doing in the world, calling us to view our lives through our “faith lenses”.  How we answer the chief priests and elder’s questions as it pertains to Jesus is critical.  What does it mean for the church that Jesus is Lord?  And, more personally, what does his authority as God’s  Messiah mean to each of us?


Bible Study Tools

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

9/28/20

Students and Parents, as you know sitting down and reading scripture is sometimes an overwhelming and confusing experience.  We often don’t know where to start or stop, are confused about the context or content, or simply avoid doing it altogether.  In recent years a group of graphic artists and teachers got together to make really meaningful videos, covering the major themes, characters, history, and lessons from scripture.  They do a fantastic job of it too!!!  Please use this link to their YouTube page the next time you are curious about something in the Bible or simply want to grow in your faith and understanding of it.  You won’t be disappointed.

Bible Study Tools


Justice in the Home

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

7/28/20

As I sit here, now in JULY, I am truly floored by the magnitude and disruption that we have seen in our world, cities, schools, homes, and basically everything else.  Not only are we facing a global pandemic, but we are also in an election year, and have civil unrest around the world.  Two months ago I was confronted with a term that I thought I understood. Justice.  In the past two months, however, I have been thinking about this word non-stop.  In my search for a deeper understanding of justice, I found a well-thought-out article about justice in the home.  This intrigued me as I care deeply about our youth and our parents.  I reflected on my own parenting and how I could have been better and also ways that I succeeded in creating a just home for my family.

Click the link below to give this article a look please.  You might find ways to begin teaching about justice by offering it at home for all to enjoy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of this page. 

God’s Peace.

Justice in the Home


Serving Others Helps Teen Grow

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

3/4/20

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1
At Desert Cross, we are passionate about serving others.  In my opinion, it is one of the greatest strengths and examples that we can offer our children.  Apparently, I am not alone in my belief.  Check out this article about adolescents and the importance that serving others can have on their growth in life.  Notice that the article is from Psychology Today, not a faith-based publication.  This is exciting!  The research shows that God has literally designed us to serve others!

Click the link below to read how acts of service serve us in many, many ways.

Serving Others Helps Teens Grow


Parenting Teens

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

12/30/19

When it comes to parenting teens, I am convinced that the majority of us feel as though we are just hanging on for dear life.  Obviously, there are a million methods to which we might subscribe to when it comes to our personal parenting plan, but I keep reading those listed in this article (please see the link below) and though I failed at several of them, they speak some fantastic truths.  

A few weeks ago during our weekly gathering of high school students, I asked the teens about parenting.  My two questions were:

What is something that your parents do that you do NOT want to do when/if you become a parent?

What is something that you dearly appreciate when it comes to how your parents are raising you?

No, I will not discuss your child’s answers with you =) . . . I will, however, let you know that they dearly appreciate you, even your shortcomings as a parent.  They were extremely open, respectful, and even compassionate, when it came to describing their frustrations about you as a parent.  The most beautiful responses came with the second question. You should feel proud of how much they appreciate you and your efforts.  Your explanations, laughter, and even your discipline, have been gifts for them.  

Raising a teen can be overwhelming, even scary at times.  Please know that you are not alone in your fears, you are not supposed to have all of the answers, and your children will offer you the grace and forgiveness that God has shown to each of us.  Hold these words from Matthew closely and trust that you, we, and God can figure this thing out. 

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

Click the link below and check out these fantastic ideas for some additional skills you might want to adopt.  Have an idea to share?  Use our comment section below.

Parenting Teens


The Gift of Listening

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

11/6/19

Listening sounds so simple!  We have two ears, so it should be really easy.  You and I both know that listening, truly listening, is a skill that takes time to develop, discipline, and patience.  Tons of patience.   Listening is actually a really complex word, but it’s a word that may prove instrumental in building a healthy relationship with our teenage children.     

Reflecting on my experiences as a youth leader, I am often put in situations where listening is the single greatest gift I can offer to our teens.  I listen to weird stories, strange situations, moments of doubt, conflict, pain, loss, grief, great joys, deep love, shallow lust, and the list could go on for pages.  This act of listening is difficult at times.  However, listening is the gift that teens crave from us.  They crave it because they need to process without judgment or hear themselves speak so that they can process how they sound or even just to get something off of their mind.

I am aware, as a parent of boys who are exiting their teen years, of how difficult it is to listen, but even more difficult than listening is listening without judgment.  At times I wonder how good my poker-face is because if my own boys were in tune with my subtle body language, I am convinced our conversations would have been far fewer and further apart.  I have been listening to teens for 20+ years, and I can promise you that it is easier listening to “other people’s kids” than it is my own.  I am convinced, however, that it is critical for us to offer our own teens this gift, maybe more important than other things we prioritize.  We value our children’s education, friend groups, sports, activities, safety, vacations, and so much more, but I believe that one PRIMARY element of their overall health and development that we tend to neglect is having access to our ears, without judgment. 

I know that if you are willing to grow in this area, for your teen, that God will work with you.  That’s good news.  My prayer for you, as a parent, is that you pray for this gift.  If you have it already, congrats!  Pray for more of it!  I also hope that you take this gift seriously, as challenging as it may be, because it could prove to be profound for your child, your family, and for you.

I found an article that offers some great advice on how we might grow in this area. Click the link below to read more. Please share your struggles and successes with us.  Reach out or use the comment section below.  We need each other as we figure this stuff out!

The Gift of Listening


Passing on the Faith

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

9/18/19

I so wish, as a parent myself, that I could impart faith on my children by dropping them off at church, similar to soccer practice or their education at school.  However, I have learned over the years that this model simply isn’t as effective as we parents might have hoped.  I think that we all know that we have the most profound effect on our children’s lives, but sometimes we don’t always know how to impart the “faith” side of our lives onto our children.  Well, I don’t have the answers to this difficult dilemma, but I now know that my hunch was correct.  How we model faith for our children is, in fact, key to them carrying on the faith in their own lives.  Know that you are not alone in wondering how best to pass on your faith, and we here at Desert Cross want to walk with you as you discover how this important task might be carried out.

Click the link below to explore this topic further.  Share a comment below.  Let’s share the faith with our kids together.

Passing on the Faith


Generation after Generation

Chad Diegle, Director of Youth Ministries

8/19/19

My thoughts come from the recurring sentiment that older generations have towards youth.  I have heard, about a million times, that “today’s youth are (fill in the blank).”  The adjective where you fill in the blank is hardly ever a positive one.  Today, I most often hear that Millennials are lazy, entitled, and have no work ethic.  Before they were here, I often heard that the Gen X Generation was not patriotic, defiant, and selfish.  We all know what the Baby Boomers were like in the 60’s, and I am sure their parents and grandparents thought the world was doomed.  I would imagine this cycle of worrying about the next generation has plagued us since the beginning of time.  However, I’m challenging you to fight it.

Read the following article for a quick look into why these negative sentiments creep into our psyche.

Maybe we can start discussing what makes our differences beautiful rather than ugly. Start the conversation in the comment section below.

Generation after Generation

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