National Adoption Month

IMG 8432 copy 224x300 National Adoption MonthNovember is National Adoption Month. Here at Shelterwood we love the heart of adoption. Adoption is such a selfless expression of love in response to the love that we have first received. Jesus is the ultimate redeemer and in adoption, we are invited in to be a part of that redemptive process.

Everyday, hundreds of orphans are adopted. These children find safety and love in families who open themselves and their homes. We here at Shelterwood tip our hats to these parents who pursue adoption. It is by no means easy and we commend the sacrifice, hard work, and dedication that is required of adoptive families.

This month think of the families you know who have chosen to pursue adoption. Be intentional with praying and encouraging them. Find a chance to bless them with a meal or encouraging note. Let’s take the opportunity to love and encourage these adoptive families who open their hearts and homes to live and love as Jesus.

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Listen to other students share their stories of change.

If you are struggling to connect with your teen and feel that a lack of attachment has occurred – give us a call we would love to help.  (800) 584 5005

Shelterwood CEO thanks the staff

 DSC 2008 copy e1417458820659 200x300 Shelterwood CEO thanks the staffDear Shelterwood Team:

I want to take a moment this Thanksgiving Holiday and thank you for your service and your dedication to Jesus and to the kids and families we serve at Shelterwood.  I have told many people that I am very proud of our entire Shelterwood team.

I would like to share a wonderful complement we just received from John DeVries from a conversation he had with the CEO and Founder of one of the other “Jesus focused faith based” programs in the country.  They had a Education Consultant visit their program and the consultant told them that “Shelterwood was the gold standard of Christian programs.”   It is a huge encouragement that the perspective regarding us continues to be so positive.

And I recognize that this positive report is due first to the favor and blessing of God, and then second to the hard work of a wonderful and dedicated team of people.  Please join me this Thanksgiving in thanking God for His favor and blessing, and ask Him to continue to give us wisdom, divine protection, and to send us those kids and families that we can help.

I also want to share a story with you from our trip home on the airplane from Ft Lauderdale to Dallas with our team of 35 from Haiti.   I am going to leave off the specific names.  You can certainly guess the names, but the purpose is not to single our any particular staff members, but instead to give you a picture of the perception of our Shelterwood team by those watching.

I was seated on the exit row aisle, and I boarded the flight first so that I could check off our kids as they boarded the plane.  One of our young adult staff brought up the rear, and he checked the kids off in the lounge as they boarded the plane.  Seated across from me in the exit row aisle was a middle-aged woman who was interested in my list and struck up a conversation.  It turns out that she was a psychologist and had placed one of her children in a residential program a number of years ago.  She started the conversation by telling me how well behaved and respectful that our kids had been in the waiting area at the airport.   She told me about a couple conversations that she had with our kids prior to boarding, and she was very complimentary.

Towards the end of the boarding process, one of our girls was unable to find luggage space in the overhead bins, and she came to me and began to cry, saying “my mom and dad told me to keep this with me and not to check it, what am I going to do?”  One of our team immediately got up and pulled their own bag out of the overhead bin so that she had space for her bag, and then took their bag to the front of the plane to be gate checked.    The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.

Then halfway through the flight, one of our young adult leaders knelt down in the aisle next to me and told me that one of our female teens was using foul language and cursing out one of our female staff.  It had evidently caught the attention of the senior flight attendant who had warned her that if she did not behave herself, she would not be allowed to board her connecting flight.   I instructed this young adult leader to move our most senior female staff member to the seat adjacent to this young woman and to explain to her the consequences of her behavior.  And that if she did not change her behavior and apologize to the flight attendant, she would not board the next flight, and I would drive her from Dallas to KC with one of our female staff.   The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.

Then I got up and went to the front of the plane to visit with all four of the flight attendants on the flight.  I introduced myself to them, explained who we were, and where we had just been.  Among other things, I told them that fourteen of these kids had just been baptized in the Caribbean, and that we had a team of 35 on the plane and 34 were behaving themselves.  I apologized for the “one” who was misbehaving.  I assured them that we do not approve of that behavior, and that there would be consequences.  I said that “I fully support your decision should you choose to refuse her boarding the next flight.  We will simply rent a car and drive her back to KC from Dallas.”   The flight attendants couldn’t have been more kind, gracious and understanding.  They wanted to know about Shelterwood and what we do.   I then went back to my seat, and while I was sitting there, the lead flight attendant brought me two bags of stuff… when I looked inside, I found a sample of most of the stuff you can purchase on the plane:  a bottle of wine, chips, nuts, hummus and cheese, etc..   They thanked me for what we do and said that they just wanted to bless me with these things as a gift.  The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.DSC 2007 copy e1417458765471 200x300 Shelterwood CEO thanks the staff

After the airplane landed, the female psychologist leaned over and with tears in her eyes, said, “I wish that I had known about a facility like yours to place my child in when he was struggling.  Your team is absolutely amazing.”   This was a huge compliment from a woman who watched our kids and our staff interact for several hours, and I would agree with her.  We do have much to be thankful for!  God has blessed us with a great team!    Thanks again for all you do!

I know that you may be working this Thanksgiving, and as a result, you will be missing your family.  Thank you for your service to Jesus and to us at Shelterwood.  Your service has not gone unnoticed in heaven, and our entire team is grateful as well.   As Corrie Ten Boom used to say, “If you obey God and give of your life, time and possessions generously, you will discover that you cannot out-give God.  God will do amazing things for you and through you.”  God is doing amazing things here at Shelterwood.  Thanks so much for the important part that you play in our ministry to struggling teens and their families.

May God bless you this Thanksgiving!

Blessings, Jim
Shelterwood CEO

 

The roller coaster of adolescent treatment

debate small The roller coaster of adolescent treatmentI am the mother of a 16 year old son.  We are in the midst of trying to discern if Shelterwood would be the best place for our son right now.  We have reached a point at home that we feel unable to help him.  He is failing school (He is very bright), angry at God, angry at his family, and has been stealing money from us.  He has become verbally abusive to our whole family.  We have been through numerous counselors, a psychologist, his pediatrician, pastor, etc. and no one has been able to help.  He has been accepted to Shelterwood, but as a mom, I am so torn with sending him away.  I was hoping to be in touch with a few parents to see how they dealt with this decision, what behaviors in their child led them to this decision, how the child felt about being sent to Shelterwood, and ultimately the result.  How long has your son been home?  Were you able to get the family counseling from Shelterwood that helped restore the relationship between you and your son?  Was coming home difficult for your son, and have the changes he made there at Shelterwood continued as he has remained home?  Anything that you could tell me, pros or cons regarding your experience would be so helpful.  I know your heart has been where mine is now, and I think it would help if I could hear from another parent who has been there.

Thanks, Concerned mom

 

Hi Concerned Mom

You are in such a tough place and I ache for you because I’m sure every day for your family is a roller coaster ride from what you described. Yes, we were in a similar condition and made the decision around thanksgiving time, but I couldn’t let go of our “holiday”.  Our son told us he wouldn’t go there and we’d need to have him taken by cops (escorts), so we did just that and it worked much smoother than I could have ever imagined. We did exactly what the service said to do and it worked. Our son was surprisingly calm by the time they got him there and cordial to us until the counselor let us alone for just a minute or two and then he lashed out in hate. Didn’t know if he’d ever speak to us again, but we had to pursue this for our other child and for our marriage…

Ten months later and a lot of emotional work, a few bumps and he came home. It has been working and I would do exactly the same thing again. He graduated recently. It isn’t perfect, but we grow and work through things much better and he is scheduled to graduate high school in May and go on a mission trip to Nepal in July!!!

You have done so much for your son, if you can possibly give him the gift of a chance to go to Shelterwood, follow their system and heal, God will bless you in a mighty way. If you do decide to send him, DO NOT PULL him at any cost or problem. Please work through the bumps and commit to see it through. I watched too many do the opposite and so did our son. He even said in his parting speech, “stop asking your patents to pull you and succeed in this.”

I’ve probably left a lot out, but will pray for you and would definitely appreciate a call from you even if we cry together. It shows what a great parent you are because you are even investigating this!
God bless you!

Shelterwood Alumni

Parents Share Lessons Learned

Every day parents share amazing insights with us as a staff and we are always eager to pass along their wisdom to other struggling families.

1.  Letting your child struggle is OK.  A parent once told me that the most significant thing she learned while at Shelterwood was the value of letting her child struggle and experience discomfort.  Up to that point, she had believed the lie that “good parents do everything they can to keep their children from suffering any type of pain.”

2.  Don’t “major” on minor issues.  There are choices that each child makes that are not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of life!   Compared to all the self-destructive choices in the world, I learned at Shelterwood that my child’s choice to have long hair or a tattoo is not a reason to despair. It may even be a healthy way for them to assert their identity.

3.  Progress is happening even when I can’t see it.   I learned to embrace the absolute necessity for my child to make mistakes in order to grow. Every unwise choice is an opportunity, not a failure.  It may be one more step toward my child growing tired of his life and thereby letting go of patterns and choices that don’t work for him.

4.  Shelterwood has impacted my life as well.  God used this time for my own individual change that ultimately contributed greatly toward the progress and unity in my family.

5.  I needed others.  Prayer, dependency on God and healthy dependency on others was invaluable during this process.  We are not meant to have all the answers and to do it all on our own.  Reach-out, receive the comfort God has available to you from others and through Him.

In Memory of Richard Beach

“Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” -1Thess. 2:8

There is a profound difference between being around someone and being with someone. The “I see you” connection from Avatar is vastly different from the surface connection of a Facebook friend. Kids today are no different than kids of yesterday. They long for connection with others, especially their parents. Take the time to truly connect with your kids.

We are packing up to make that long, flat drive across Kansas to say goodbye to our dear friend, mentor, example and boss, Richard Beach. He passed away a few days ago after a truly courageous 16-year battle with cancer. I know Rich is at peace, healed and loving being in the presence of the Lord. He impacted so many people for Christ during his 65 years on this earth. I’m sure the memorial service will be huge.

I‘ve been reflecting on what made Rich so unique. He had an amazing ability to make everyone feel comfortable in his presence. He didn’t have a graduate degree in anything and he never wrote a book (though we tried to get him to write one many, many times)!

So, how was Rich able to touch so many people’s lives, from the stewardess to the bank president? I think the secret lied in his ability and willingness to connect. Sure, he was an extrovert, but the “connection ingredient” isn’t about temperament, but about love.

Rich simply made the choice to love. His willingness to love the unlovely sometimes got him into trouble too. Much like Jesus sharing with the adulteress woman, Rich sometimes embarrassed those closest to him. But his heart of love simply had no choice.

Kids are asking, no, they are begging, for us as parents to provide that kind of connection and love. Not the cheap “I love you because you’re my child” love, but the thick kind of love that jumps in all the way. Rich invested into every life he encountered, whether that person was lovable are not.

Rich was simply a reflection of the love of Jesus who loved unconditionally. Many claim that kind of love, but Rich lived it out with every person he encountered along the way. There’s not one of us who had the privilege of working closely with him who wasn’t embarrassed by one of his encounters at some point. Sitting at a restaurant, Rich would joke with the grouchy waiter and minutes later be sharing Christ with her. No matter the result of their conversation, they would part with a hug and a smile.

The legacy Rich leaves behind for his family and for thousands of teenagers and mentors is that love is an action verb not a passive noun. If God is on my heart, I have no choice other than to impart my life to everyone I encounter.

Parents, squeeze every drop out of every encounter with your teenager. Impart your life. Love. Give. Sacrifice.

Rich, have a blast as you encounter Christ Himself. Enjoy the time together. You deserve it!

What Do I Value?

soup girl Medium 257x300 What Do I Value?A group of university alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit an old professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests something to drink, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups — porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite — telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself, adds no quality to the coffee in most cases, just more expense and in some cases, it even hides what we drink.  What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups … and then began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Family life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of the lives we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.  Maybe it is time to spend a little more time and effort on the parts of our life that have meaning and connect us to those we love.

There is Freedom in Parenting

iStock 000013112749Medium 300x199 There is Freedom in ParentingWe’ve made it to March! I love the weather this time of year. Though winter can be stubborn, the first signs of Spring emerge, as they do every year about this time in the Ozarks. Some plants begin to show signs of blooming while others are still dormant, waiting for warmer days to emerge. Plants are a lot like teenagers. They grow and bloom in their own time, at their own pace. All the pushing on our parts as parents won’t change their pace of growth. Every plant and every child is different.

When I was a new parent, Darnell White handed me this article one day.  It’s an excerpt from a book written nearly 60 years ago by R.W. White titled “Lives of progress:”

“Raising plants is one of mankind’s most successful activities.  Perhaps success comes from the fact that the husbandman does not try to thrust impossible patterns on his plants. He respects their peculiarities, tries to provide suitable conditions, protects them from more serious kinds of injury, but he lets the plants do the growing. He does not try to poke at the seed in order to make it sprout more quickly, nor does he seize the shoot when it breaks ground and try to pull open the first leaves by hand. Neither does he trim the leaves of different kinds of plants in order to have them all look alike. The attitude of the husbandman is appropriate in dealing with children. It is the children who must do the growing – and only through the push of their own budding interest.”

As parents, there is such freedom in the letting go and letting our kids grow at their pace and in their timing. Perhaps you’re a frustrated planter these days. No doubt, growing kids is a tough job. We just have to remember that we’re there to protect, respect and provide for our precious plants, not force them to grow at the pace we desire. Let God do the growing and relax in God’s timing. We can trust that even when the budding seems a bit late, that in the difficulty, a plant is emerging that’s better able to withstand life’s storms. God, after all, is the Master Gardener. If I correctly focus on my own growth, a beautiful garden will emerge.

Teaching kids how to deal with their feelings

Well, the holidays are coming to a close and what we looked so forward to a few weeks ago flew by too quickly. Of course, vacations are like that. We plan and get excited, then we snap our fingers and it’s over. Suddenly we’re all planning to go back to work and school. We call it “going back to reality,” but it’s really just going back to life. Teaching our kids how to handle the “Disney Land to work” transition is a valuable life-long lesson.

I read a study once that 80% of people go through some level of depression after the holidays. No wonder. We plan and look forward to the lack of responsibility for weeks, even months. Then the break begins. We sleep late, have meals prepared for us, see movies and get hundreds of dollars of gifts. Then, the clock strikes midnight and we’re back to being responsible again. We have to get up early, fix our own breakfast and pay off the bills for the money we spent.

As a kid, I still remember that fun, exciting drive every summer heading east on I-20, driving from Fort Worth to Georgia for summer vacation with family. I also remember that long, boring drive heading back west on I-20 to Fort Worth after the vacation. It reminds me of the Norman Rockwell print “Going and Coming.” It’s two pictures, one headed out to vacation and one headed home. I love the detailed contrast between the excitement of heading out and the exhaustion of driving back.

It’s important that we process through these emotions and teach our kids how to talk about their feelings. These four suggestions might help:

1. Remember that vacations are not reality. It’s so easy to compare the holiday to the day-to-day. But that’s comparing apples with onions. Not having responsibility is always fun for a while. But in the end, we all find true fulfillment in having a goal. Though we complain about our work and about school, deep down we need that purpose.

2. Keep up with those you love. We all spend extra time with family we normally aren’t around during the week. Don’t let too much time pass before you re-connect with those brothers and sisters you were sad to leave. These days, with twitter, Facebook, and texting, keeping up with each other is easier. Keeping the lines of communication open helps keep relationships healthy.

3. Count your blessings “one by one.” I love that old Baptist hymn. It reminds us to count our blessings so that we can “see what God has done.” That is so important to do during and after the holidays. Everyone secretly compares to the relatives and we usually come away feeling inadequate. “Their kids are better behaved than ours; they make more money than we do; they seem happier than we are.” It’s okay to learn and grow from others, but comparison usually leads to envy and envy leads to jealousy and on and on. Realize the blessings you do have instead of what you don’t possess.

4. Live like there’s no tomorrow. A good friend reminded me of that challenge this week. Too often I fret and worry about what might be. Too often I worry and fret about what was. The Bible challenges us repeatedly to set my sights on today. When I correctly focus on today, it’s awesome whether I’m working or vacationing.

Ward off those post-holiday blues and embrace the excitement of another day of life. Live life to the fullest, whether you’re at Disney world or at the desk.