Quaranteens: Three Ideas to Help Students Grow in the Pandemic

For Full Article Click Here – I LOVE TIME ELMORE!!!

By: Tim Elmore

It’s been over a year since students all over the world were sent home from school and instantly had to learn how to learn from home. Teachers tried to maintain academic standards as students transformed their bedrooms, dens, and kitchens into classrooms to try to meet those standards. 

Some call these middle school and high school students quaranteens

They’re now voicing what it’s been like to spend 12 months in a lockdown, knowing rites of passages for past high schoolers will not happen for them. The senior trip, the prom, the graduation ceremony–all of these are morphing (at least slightly) and teens are feeling the angst of it all. In an interview, some said to me:

“My anxiety has gone up a thousand percent.”

“I pretty much feel lonely all the time.” 

 “I love spending time on screens, but I hate them now because that’s all I do.”

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute said, “The cost will be borne by families because increased online use is associated with anxiety, depression, obesity and aggression — and ‘addiction to the medium itself.’” Did you know that screen time has doubled year over year during the pandemic?

What the Teenage Brain Needs

I do not claim to be a neuroscientist, but as I study brain development in teens, it is clear that adolescence is a time of measurable change in hormones and other chemicals that change how a person reacts to life. Their brains are pruning themselves, moving from childhood thoughts and feelings to adult thoughts and feelings. It’s an in-between stage where a parent, teacher, or coach observes shifting emotions on any given day.

My point is simple: The essentials COVID-19 has stolen from teens are the very elements they need to develop and thrive. Three realities are clear:

  1. Their brains need socialization.
  2. Their brains need structure.
  3. Their brains need sleep.

Teens Need Socialization

One of the primary ways teens mature is through social contact. They are testing boundaries. They’re assessing patterns of thought. They are comparing themselves to others and forming a sense of identity. This happens when they spend time with both adults and peers. The pandemic has forced them to separate, so adults need to help them find ways to get connected and socialize as part of their development. Students see it as fun, but we know it’s actually how they’ll grow during their adolescent years. 

Consider how kids develop their values during their childhoods.

  • Ages 1-7: Imprint by observation. (They observe adults and emulate what they see.)
  • Ages 8-13: Modeling by heroes. (They now choose their heroes and imitate them.)
  • Ages 14-20: Socialization by peers. (They compare and contrast via relationships.)

What if we got just as intentional about encouraging teens to find places they can connect with each other for non-academic purposes as we are about academics? Driveway small groups, community service projects, or even the Clubhouse app are great starting points for students to socialize and grow together. 

Teens Need Structure 

The pandemic hasn’t removed structure completely, but it has reduced it significantly. For months, the typical routines of classes, athletic practices, band rehearsals, and school plays have dropped and in some places disappeared for months. Most teens need this structure in their daily schedules. It prepares them for adulthood and enables them to build disciplines and habits in their lives. Consider the benefits of structure:

  1. It fosters a sense of security as norms are established. 
  2. It provides clarity and combats ambiguity.
  3. It can build good habits through a maintained routine schedule.  

Stick to a schedule that works. Set a time to wake up, exercise, shower, get dressed, have breakfast, or whatever your student needs to start the school day. If it helps, allow your teen to sleep in a little later than normal. Just like in most classes, phones should be off while doing schoolwork. Keep the TV off during school hours, too, and limit the time they watch the news. Plan mini breaks and a one-hour lunch break.

Teens Need Sleep

Most of us recognize how important sleep is to an adolescent, even more so than an adult. The average amount of sleep that U.S. teenagers get is about seven hours, perhaps a few minutes more depending on where they live. However, studies show they need between nine and nine and a half hours. Teenagers do not get enough sleep for a number of reasons including a shift in their sleep schedules and the number of hours they spend on a screen, especially right before bedtime. 

In my interview with high school students, the majority of them acknowledged their sleep patterns have been “wrecked” by the pandemic. Some are on their portable devices even more these days and unless they are intentional about their time, phone addictions can develop. Below are some ideas to foster good sleep habits in students:

  1. Ban portable devices in the bedroom, and charge them somewhere else.
  2. Limit caffeine intake. Instead, drink more water. 
  3. Encourage exercise every day–walks, shooting hoops, running, etc.
  4. Start a habit of reading 30 minutes before falling asleep.

Socialization. Structure. Sleep. They’re basic needs that teens have, especially in a pandemic. It’s up to you and your teens to figure out what’s missing and apply it.

One of our applicable Habitudes is called “Surgeries and X-Rays.” Before a doctor performs an operation to repair a patient’s bone, that surgeon will always take an X-ray to see the fracture and determine what repair is necessary. It would be ridiculous to simply cut into the patient and begin wandering around with a knife, looking for a possible problem in the dark. So it is with students. I suggest you take time to reflect together on what they’re missing. Assess where they stand. Do a conversational “x-ray.” Then they can do the necessary surgery by removing unhealthy habits and inserting healthy ones in their place. 

Helping Create Connection In Your Home

In a world where so much common ground is found, we also realize there are unique differences when in comes to each of our own kids!

This simple conversation kit is designed to give you a connecting point with your child.

The title might be called “CONVERSATION KIT,” but you may actually find that your main goal is to become an active listener.

“Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of at least two lives. Listening, as far as I am concerned, is certainly a prerequisite of love. One of the most essential ways of saying “I love you” is being a good listener.”
– FRED ROGERS

Jesus Does the Impossible

Our OSM GAME NIGHT before Spring Break involved a simple game called IMPOSSIBLE SHOT. We went “big time” with the huge logo print out and a board backing to set up the target. The prize?

One full year of all OSM EVENTS paid!

Check out the Video Below

OSM Night Impossible Shot

The simple game involves a nerf bow and arrow, a long distance, and the perfect shot… that’s why it’s called IMPOSSIBLE SHOT!

We tied in IMPOSSIBLE SHOT with MISSING THE MARK referenced in Romans 3:23.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 

and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:22-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We can literally insert the greek word hamartía into the text to pull out the word picture presented and end up with:

“for all have [missed the mark] and fall short of the glory of God,

Reality is, we have all missed it. The accuracy required to perfectly hit the target of the Godliness expected from the Father is unobtainable or IMPOSSIBLE.

Take the Rich Young Ruler that encountered Jesus and seemed to have a successful life with wealth to back up his claims. He seemed to hit the target with resources and following the guidelines setup by the Ten Commandments. You could say he was a “good guy.” However, Jesus challenges him to give up all his wealth. It seems that the ask to follow Jesus went deeper than outer appearance. Jesus was going for the Rich Young Ruler’s heart.

Even the disciples questioned Jesus about eternal things. It seems that they could not wrap their minds around what Jesus was aiming at. What they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears seemed to make salvation itself… IMPOSSIBE.

Jesus comes back with a key statement that we can all take to heart:

“What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Reality is, it is IMPOSSIBLE for humankind to reconcile with a Holy God.

That is why we need Jesus to take the bow and arrow, line up the shot for us, and nail it right in the target. PERFECT SHOT!

As fully God and fully man, Jesus aimed at the target of the cross. He lived as a perfect example and died in our place on the cross to pay for the overwhelming debt of sin that makes eternal salvation impossible. What seems to be impossible for mankind to pay, Jesus took care of by not only dying, but raising again to give us hope for eternity.

Will You Allow Jesus To Do The IMPOSSIBLE for YOU?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

WHO WAS ST. PATRICK

The man we know as St. Patrick was born around 389 AD in England. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. 

The Roman Empire was still in titular control of Britain, but their demoralized armies were unable to protect the island from Irish invaders. Farms were pillaged and teenagers enslaved. Patrick was taken at age sixteen. An Irish farmer bought him as a slave and put him to work tending sheep. 

Somehow Patrick came to personal faith in Christ in the midst of his tribulations. He later wrote, “The Lord opened to me a sense of my unbelief, that I might be converted with all my heart unto the Lord.” 

Patrick received a vision from God when he was twenty-two, a clear signal to run from Ireland for his home. Risking his life, he was able to evade his captors and return to his family. But his heart was heavy for the spiritual condition of his Irish captors. 

Following another vision, Patrick devoted himself for seven years to Bible study, then he returned to Ireland as a missionary. The Irish were almost completely without Christ, worshiping the elements and spirits in trees and stones and engaging in magic and even human sacrifice. 

Patrick got to work. 

When his career was done, he had established some two hundred churches in Ireland and led more than one hundred thousand people to faith in Christ, despite more than a dozen attempts on his life. He is today the patron saint of Ireland. His death on March 17, 461 is remembered each year as St. Patrick’s Day. 

However, there’s even more to his story. 

In the following century, Irish Christians who were spiritual descendants of St. Patrick’s ministry sailed back to Britain, where they evangelized the heathen who had overrun the country. They established monasteries and copied books being destroyed elsewhere. 

According to Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization, these men “single-handedly refounded European civilization throughout the continent.” 

You could make the argument that St. Patrick deserves to be on anyone’s top-ten list of all-time most influential Christians. But you’d have a hard time getting Patrick to agree. 

In his Confessions, Patrick wrote, “I am greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me. The Irish, who had never had the knowledge of God and worshiped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called sons of God.” 

He closed his memoirs by explaining the secret to his history-changing ministry:

“Do you judge, and let it be most firmly believed, that it was the gift of God. And this is my Confession, before I shall die.” 

Read Full Article by Dr. Jim Denison Here

MASK UPDATE FOR MSM ACTIVITIES

The Oakwood Student Middle school Ministry Wednesday Night Activities and Sunday Morning Bible Study will continue to follow Mask Protocols in regard to keeping in step with Oakwood’s Statement by Pastor Ray.

Below is a repost from Pastor Ray’s written statement and a link to the original post.

UPDATE REGARDING COVID-19 (UPDATED MARCH 7, 2021) 

This past week the Governor of Texas rescinded the mask mandate that Oakwood has been observing in accordance to the Scripture’s direction to obey those in authority (Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1). Beginning Sunday March 14, 2021 masks will not be required at Oakwood. However, wearing a mask is highly recommended by the CDC and health professionals to help stop the spread of COVID-19. For the safety of our volunteers in the children and student ministries areas, we will continue to require masks while in those facilities. Throughout this pandemic, it has been my prayer that we—as Christ’s followers —remember our Lord’s instruction in Mark 12:30-31: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Let’s continue to work together to keep those attending safe.

Blessings, Pastor Ray

I AM A WORSHIPER MIDDLE SCHOOL CHALLENGE

WHAT REALLY IS WORSHIP?

When we are faced with this question, many things might pop up in our minds. That movie scene, where monks are walking in a single file line, mumbling something in a monotone voice. We might easily envision the “praise and worship” time during a church gathering. Maybe you have read an account of a great man of faith that portrayed a “worshipful” way of life. Perhaps you have encountered God yourself, and visions of that moment bring back encouragement or remind you of a sense of great conviction. The truth is, if we are Christ Followers, we are meant to end up DOING WORSHIP FOR ETERNITY.

BEGINNING WITH THE END IN MIND

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,

AND HIS SERVANTS WILL WORSHIP HIM. 

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Practically, it takes effort to worship an INVISIBLE GOD.

Lets really think about this for a second. At least Revelation states that those who follow Jesus will “SEE HIS FACE.” So what are we supposed to do now? It seems a bit odd to an outsider to see people gathering on a weekend, singing songs, closing eyes, and talking to some BEING that is UNSEEN. As a believer, have you ever explained what WORSHIP IS to an unbeliever? How about trying to explain this thought to a group of young teenagers that mostly look at things in a concrete way and are learning to think in an abstract way.

This is where the lava lamp seems to help…

Worship is like a lava lamp…

Worship is like a lava lamp.  

If a lava lamp is not plugged in, it doesn’t do anything. Once it is plugged in, the lamp begins to heat up, the colorful wax in the center begins to react to the heat, and the “lava” does what it is meant to do, produce interesting shapes and designs that might make us ask, “How does it do that?”  

Similarly, once you start a relationship with JESUS, you begin to encounter him in your daily life, sort of like the LIGHT BULB turning on to heat the wax. 

Your Spiritual “LIGHT BULB” comes to life and you begin living from the INSIDE OUT, reacting to what the Holy Spirit “heats you up” with. Worship begins to be that NATURAL RESPONSE to what God has started on the INSIDE. 

The Truth is that WORSHIP is simply a RESPONSE.

When we start a relationship with JESUS, we begin to hear the “still small voice” that leads us to line up with the Word of God. As we read TRUTH in God’s Word, we find that His Spirit transforms us internally, We begin responding to His leading. As we follow Jesus as our example, it is like we begin responding to what we were wired to do in the first place. Every response, whether you are responding on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, is an act of worship. Every move toward Jesus and His Righteousness is a move of WORSHIP.

Worship is an INTENTIONAL response to an INVISIBLE God. 

What would it look like if you began to consider WORSHIP to be an INTENTIONAL RESPONSE to GOD in your daily life?

If you are willing to take the WORSHIPER challenge consider this:

  • Write Out a prayer to GOD from your heart for the week
  • Set a reminder on your cell phone or device to remind you to connect with GOD through prayer.
  • We are challenging our Middle Schoolers to take the WORSHIPER CHALLENGE for the next 40 days and take the journey of discovering what Worshipping God is all about.  We have some Devotional Journals left as a gift to your student to help them walk with JESUS and GROW in their relationship with HIM, or you can check out the link below.
CHECK OUT this Student Journal HERE

Awkward Middle School Series

THINK ABOUT THIS

What is one of the most potentially awkward and uncomfortable conversations to have with your middle schooler? The one about sex, dating, and relationships! That’s why we’re spending four weeks talking about just that in our new series, Awkward. A conversation like this one may be awkward, but it’s so important! Some students may be curious about it while others may be uninterested. Some may be embarrassed while others may be experiencing some of these things for the first time. And some may have never thought about sex, dating, or relationships before. No matter where your middle schooler may be, it’s important to lay the foundation for healthy thoughts, habits, and behaviors around sex now so that they’ll have a better framework to make decisions as they grow. 

Sunday, Feb 7 – Session One

Romans 12:1-2

What we do with our desires matters.

Wednesday, Feb 10 – Session Two

1 Corinthians 6:12; John 10:10

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should

Sunday, Feb 14 – Session Three

Mark 12:30-31

How you treat others and yourself matters to God.

Wednesday, Feb 17 Session Four

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Focus on becoming love before looking for love.

Morning Time

Reach out to your kid’s Small Group Leader this week. Let them know that you appreciate their voice and presence in your middle schooler’s life. Empower them to be a safe person your kid can talk to about things like sex and dating. Thank them for being a trusted adult your kid can go to with difficult and potentially awkward topics.

Drive Time

If there’s one thing we all know and understand, it’s the feeling of an awkward moment or experience! So, challenge your family to come up with the ultimate awkward list. Together, think of as many moments or experiences as you can that could easily be labeled “awkward.” Whoever can come up with the most potential awkward moments is the winner of this awkward family challenge!

Meal Time

Find an easy way for your kid to talk to you about sex and dating. To do this, come up with a code word or phrase your middle schooler can say, write, or text to you to let you know they need to talk about something that’s potentially awkward for them. This will give them an easy way to come to you and give you a chance to mentally prepare before the conversation happens.

Bed Time

Conversations about sex have the potential to be . . . well, awkward! So do your best to plan ahead. Think about how you want to respond before the conversation happens. Prepare for the way you want to handle talks about or experiences with sex and dating in your house so that when the time comes, you can respond rather than react. 

RESPECT – 2KINGS 2:23-24

When you throw around ideas in a meeting to find a THEME something like… BELIEVE WEEKEND… other ideas swim through your head as well!

Don’t worry, we are not asking GOD to bring any SHE-BEARS to Believe Weekend. Our intention is to challenge students to BEAR FRUIT. A completely DIFFERENT MESSAGE than this one!

However, if you are a parent in sudden need of a quick lesson on RESPECT, this IS IN THE BIBLE.

‘He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord . And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.’ 2 Kings 2:23-25