All posts in Personal Entry

Blog Sabbatical – Be Back in Late July!

be back soonI appreciate those of you who faithfully follow my blog. When I initially experimented with blogging in 2009 I had no idea that it would become such an enjoyable and fruitful form of ministry. But being able to serve and resource so many individuals, couples, and churches has truly been a joy.

Over the next month I’m going to take a brief break to recharge.

BUT when the I begin posting new material again my blog should have a NEW DESIGN. I am very excited about the updates that are coming.

  • My site will be converting from “a blog with lots of resources” to a “resource hub with a blog.” This has been needed for a while.
  • The readability and simplicity of design for the site will be significantly better.
  • The resources currently available in video form will also be available in downloadable podcast form.
  • All posts will be available in a printable PDF format, making them more user-friendly as teaching supplements or counseling homework.
  • Clearer guidance will be provided for how to use this site for personal benefit, as a friend, as a pastor, or as a counselor.
  • Clearer guidance will be provided for churches wanting to launch the marriage/pre-marital mentoring or peer support group ministries from the seminars on this site.

Again, thank you for your encouragement and support by utilizing the resources from my site. I think you’ll be excite about the updates that are coming when I resume posting in late July.

Hambrick Family Christmas Letter 2016

Dear Friends,

It has not been long enough since I last sat down to pen (i.e., type) a Christmas letter. As the boys get bigger and I get older, the years go by faster. But even with a year that has felt too short, as we look back, a lot has happened in the Hambrick household this year.

hambrick-christmas-pic-2016

Lawson is in 6th grade, so we have officially started the adventure known as “Middle School.” While he embarked on this adventure with a good bit of fear and trepidation, he has started to enjoy it (a fact he will firmly deny if asked directly). This Fall, Lawson switched back from baseball to football; doing a great job on the D-Line and O-Line for the North Raleigh Bulldogs.

Marshall is in 4th grade and is full-on ready to conquer the world. Marshall finally made it to kid-pitch level in baseball and loved getting to be in complete control of the game. As a left-handed pitcher with above-average control and velocity, he did a great job (his below-average stature made him quite cute to the opposing teams until they stepped in the batter’s box). Marshall wants run a marathon with Brad before he graduates high school. They completed a 10K (which accidentally became an 11K… the race was non-euphemistically named “The Extra Mile” #NotABargain) and are working towards a half marathon.

This summer the boys and I took our #ManTrip7, intended to be a white water adventure (bradhambrick.com/mantrip7). But there were brain eating amebas in the water (no joke), so it became a high ropes course and mountain-top zip lining adventure. A fire in our hotel at 2am in the morning added to the adventure stories that can be told.

Sallie is still “the best Mama ever” as both boys are fond of telling her and subs frequently at the elementary school, but Lawson is no longer sure it’s a good idea for her to be at the middle school (ahh, the drama). She started a project to “paint one wall” in our living room; now with six walls painted, two sets of new curtains, and a new rug, both our living room and kitchen look amazing.

Brad finished the seminar series he began at Summit 5 years ago with programs for addiction (bradhambrick.com/addiction) and codependency (bradhambrick.com/codependency). He’s very excited about the opportunity to partner with SEBTS in 2017 to develop a program where the recovery-support group and marriage mentoring ministries will become much more replicable for other churches. As always, his favorite thing to do is coaching Lawson and Marshall’s ball teams.

Over the next year we would appreciate your prayers that we will (1) fully enjoy this sweet season when our boys are young and lay a good foundation for their future, (2) prioritize marriage and family during a very busy season of life and ministry, and (3) grow in our trust in God’s character and effectiveness at sharing His hope with others.

We want to thank you for your friendship and the unique role you have played in the life of our family. Our prayer is that this Christmas you will experience the power, peace, and joy of Immanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23) – and have the opportunity to multiply that hope by sharing it with others.

Merry Christmas!

The Hambrick Family

#ManTrip7: High Roping and Zip Lining into 6th Grade

One of the things I have found most satisfying as a parent is setting aside time each year for a memorable trip with my two sons. In previous posts I have discussed…

(1) the kindergarten right of passage trip I took with my first son,
(2) a trip we took when he was especially discouraged at school,
(3) the kindergarten right of passage with my youngest son,
(4) the first before-school-starts joint trip we took as this tradition took on life, and
(5) the before-school-start joint trip we took to Texas (involving their first flight).
(6) the Smoky Mountain Adventure (where we began the sex talk)

As this tradition takes on more life, I think it’s important to note that I don’t rely on “man trips” as the primary means of maturing and discipling my boys. We have many conversations (example). These trips are merely meant to cement discipleship in memorable experiences. Kids have a propensity to remember “moments.”

My boys know each “man trip” has three primary objectives.

  1. Set up the next season of life – what previously was a couple of discussions now centers around a letter to each boy that we read together, discuss, and becomes part of a notebook of letters.
  2. Do something scary – so you won’t draw back from anything God calls you to do because of fear.
  3. Have so much fun it doesn’t feel like learning – so it is something they will always look forward to.

Some of the key memories and lessons I learned from this trip were:

  • Be flexible. We planned to go white water rafting and planned the whole trip around the experience. After hotel reservations were made, we learned the white water park was closed because brain eating amoebas (#yikes) were found in the water. So… it became a high ropes course and zip lining adventure.
  • We added to the sense of adventure by listening to the Lord of the Rings series in audio theatre as we drove. This gave something fun to do on the road that prevented a debate about whether technological devices needed to go on the trip with us.
  • This is the trip were I introduced the “Papa’s an Idiot Letter” (because every parents needs to give their child at least one thing to keep in their sock drawer). You can read about the rationale in the previous link, but it was interesting to hear my two boy’s responses.
    • My oldest, who is a peace-keeper par excellent, said, “I don’t want to ever think you’re an idiot,” and gave me a big hug.
    • My youngest, who is a cut-to-the-chase common sense kind of kid, said, “Can I just read it now?”
    • Continuing to see each boy’s impromptu response to unexpected social interactions is an important part of learning where they are in regards to social development, parental bond, and responding to temptation.
  • The “idiot letter” was not my personal letter to them. They each received one tailored to their next season of life (6th grade and 4th grade respectively). These letters reviewed areas of character growth, spiritual development, and social challenges I have seen or foresee for them.
    • Side Note: I do think having a notebook of letters they keep in their room helped tie this conversation with previous man trip conversations.
    • Another highlight was my older son asking me to help him highlight the verses in his Bible that I commended to him in his letter.
  • Seize the moment. We had the blessing of the fire alarm going off at 2:30 am in our hotel and not being able to get back to our room until 5am. This provided a good opportunity to walk them through crisis decision making; what do you take when you only have a few moments to decide. It also became a reason to get 4am ice cream. We did catch several new Pokemon.
  • Physically I find these trips easier now that my boys are ages 12 and 9. They are willing to sleep in, so recovering from a day of ropes courses and zip lines was much easier. They also enjoy meal times more and these become more meaningful times to review what we’ve done and talk about the letters I wrote to each of them.

This is a tradition that I would commend to any parent, but especially fathers. The value of getting 72 uninterrupted hours with my boys is something that is hard to put into words. Both the quality of bond and type of understanding I gain from this time is different from having dinner together, coaching their sports teams, or playing in the back yard. These moments create memories I will always cherish and, I hope, cement life lessons my boys will never forget.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Parenting” post which address other facets of this subject.

“Papa’s an Idiot” Letter and Heretical Psalms

I have often said, “I am glad there is a little heresy in the Psalms.” Think about it, the psalms are unique in Scripture because they are a place where God gives us words to speak back to him in the midst of the full breadth of human experience. God allows us to put into words their honest doubts about whether he will be true to his promises when our experience seems to contradict who he says he is. For example:

  • God is felt to be hiding from us in our troubles (Ps 10:1).
  • God is felt to be forgetful or uninterested in our suffering (Ps 13:1; 44:24).
  • God is felt to have forsaken those who cry out to him (Ps 22:1–2).
  • God is felt to be asleep and therefore unaware (Ps 44:23).
  • God is felt to have abandoned his people forever (Ps 74:1).
  • God is felt to have aggressively “spiked” an innocent person in anger (Ps 102:10).

We do not have to choose between honesty and reverence because of psalms like these. God is not agreeing that our experience is objectively true, but he is demonstrating his willingness to sometimes put compassion before instruction. His compassion can strengthen his children enough to be able to eventually hear, embrace, and be comforted by the truth. But we are not coming to God against his permission when we wrestle with thoughts like those in the psalms above.

When I’ve taught on these psalms in the past, I’ve invited the audience to imagine a parent who gives their pre-teen a sealed letter, asks their son or daughter to keep in their room, and only open the letter when they are seething mad in their room, believing their parent to be a complete idiot. That letter would seek to put into words the experience of the teen and have value because it was written before the conflict emerged. The letter would show both the foresight (wisdom) and care of the parent.

That is what these “heretical psalms” do. They show us the wisdom of God (his ability to anticipate the disorientation of hardship we would face in a fallen world) and the love of God (that he invites us to bring these honest, even if untrue, feelings to him).

My boys are getting old enough, that I realized I needed to write them a letter like the one I’ve frequently described. Here is my attempt. I hope the fact that I’ve written and read them many letters before this one is needed aids their ability to receive this one.

Son,

I love you. You’re upset with me. That grieves me. I couldn’t predict the details, but this moment was inevitable. It happens to the best of sons (that’s you) in the best of families (it’s okay if you doubt whether that’s us).

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. It would be easier to just vent in your mind about how unfair or unreasonable you think I’ve been. It is a mark of your maturity that you (a) remembered this letter and (b) were willing to read it.

You have always been mature for your age. That is probably not what you just heard me say, but it’s true. Nothing about whatever disagreement we just had changes that. Nothing changes that I love you. Nothing changes that I am and always will be proud to be your father.

I have seen your genuine care for others, your hard work to be a good student, how naturally you are a good friend, that you truly are “the best big brother ever,” and I trust the trajectory of where God is taking your life.

You are getting older, having more ideas of your own, and part of that involves questioning what you’ve been taught to see if you really believe it’s true and the values we hold as a family to decide if you really want to make them your own. That’s natural for you as a teenager and hard for me as a father.

There’s a good chance we’ll have more disagreements in the coming months about you wanting more freedom and me wanting to be able to give more direction. Chances are we’ll wrestle with that tension for a while.

The most important thing to me in the midst of all of it is that you not close off to me or Mama. We will find a way to resolve whatever disagreement that led you to read this letter as long as our trust in each other is not broken.

When you’re ready I’d love for you to come back downstairs and for us to get to talk. Bring the letter. I’ll listen. You can hold me to my written word. A good relationship is one where “the subject (whatever we disagreed about) is not more important than the relationship” and “both people genuinely want to understand the other (even when what is thought/felt by the other is painful).”

That is the kind of relationship I want. When you’re ready, I would love the opportunity to demonstrate that is what we still have. No moment of frustration is larger than my love for you.

A New Letter Writing Tradition for My Boys

With my boys at the ages of 11 and 9, I am realizing that the years of influence that I have with them in our home are coming to an end much sooner than I would like (sigh). This is not the introduction for a blog post of regret, but one of intentionality.

For several years I have made it a discipline to write my wife at least 3 letters per year. This is a time to regularly reflect over our marriage, my level of engagement, and how the hopes-dreams-fears of life have changed over the last few months.

Recently, wife said, “You should write the boys letters too.” She’s right. I guess I never realized they know how to read now. We have taken lots of trips together. If you look over the review of each trip, you will be able to tell I put thought into their spiritual and character development on each trip.

But I realized I was counting on their memories to carry the content of those conversations into the future. Let’s be honest, kids remember events (i.e., flying on an air plane, riding down a water fall, rock climbing, etc…) more than conversations. Letters help compensate for that memory difference.

So here’s the plan.

  • I went and purchased nice 3-ring binders and sleeves for a letter notebook. I want the letters to last and for the notebook to feel special. 20160527_151740
  • On special occasions (i.e., our annual man trip, birthdays, challenging life event, or accomplishment like graduation) I will give them a letter. I’m not entirely sure about the frequency, but I want it to be two to four letters per year; enough time passing between that there are new things to comment on but frequent enough that they can be a running life commentary.
  • Each time I give them a letter, at least until they move away (let’s not talk about that), I’ll read them the letter and allow it be part of a conversation; that way it doesn’t become impersonal.
  • I’ve outlined a few content areas that I plan to write on in each letter.
  • Opening paragraph – contextualizing the letter to recent events
  • Character paragraph – commenting on areas of character growth I’ve seen
  • Spiritual paragraph – commenting on areas of spiritual development I’ve seen
  • Achievement paragraph – commending significant achievements that have happened recently
  • Areas of growth paragraph – identifying an area of growth I believe it’s important for them to focus on and a passage of Scripture I believe would be good to study or memorize to facilitate this growth
  • Closing paragraph – telling them I love them and am proud of them in a way that’s tied to the rest of the letter
  • On the back of the letter, but no more than twice per year, I plan to print a “Tracing My Journey” chart I made which allows them to put their thoughts about life on paper. My hope for this is that they will be able to look back and see what was most important to them at different seasons of their life. It is an exercise in helping them live reflective, intentional lives.
  • I don’t expect them to fill out every blank every time. Some of these questions require advanced reflection; like putting new foods on the table several times before kids will try them, I want to put these questions in front of my boys several times before they engage them.

I expect that this tradition will morph and evolve with time. I share my thoughts about it at this incipient stage in order to encourage other parents to be intentional in how you communicate and preserve the important messages with your children.

At the very least, I pray this will be something my boys take off the shelf when they should be studying (whether it is in high school or college) and review some of the fun memories we’ve had together. If I give them a sanctifying distraction from studying (which they’ll distract themselves anyway) that traces their journey and key messages from Papa, then the time spent writing a few letters each year will be well worth it.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Parenting” post which address other facets of this subject.

Hambrick Family Christmas Letter 2015

Dear Friends,

Notice the extra sweet smiles on the boys this year. That’s because we talked Mama into climbing three branches high in a Magnolia tree for our Christmas picture. Saying, “Mama in a tree,” made the boys smile like nothing else. It may have cost me all my Christmas presents this year, but it was worth it.

Christmas Card 2015

Lawson is in fifth grade and now has braces; which means you won’t see him smile while showing his teeth until seventh grade. Lawson returned to Fall baseball after a season of football and became an excellent catcher, but even better team leader. He has continued his workouts and we’ve gotten 73 miles towards our goal of running 100 miles together this year (as of Nov. 1). In October Lawson made public profession of his faith and was baptized.

Marshall is in third grade and he’s shown a great boost in his competiveness; both athletically and academically he is starting to enjoy giving his best and finding out how good he can do. His dry, common sense humor still amuses Sallie and I regularly as we look over to expect to see a cranky 80 year old man embodying many of his comments.

This summer the boys and I took our #ManTrip6 to the mountains of NC (bradhambrick.com/mantrip6). This year’s adventure included mountain climbing, trout fishing, and wading a river; we chased more fish than we caught. Marshall had the quote of the trip when he said, “Papa, that was scary, but it was a fun kind of scary,” about repelling down a rock face.

Sallie is still “the best Mama ever” as both boys are fond of telling her. The boys love having her sub at their school; we know that will pass soon enough, but you can keep your Grinch comments to yourself. She continues to run Hambrick, LLC, Inc phenomenally well and hand-painted signs for all the teachers at Leesville Elementary School in trailers in her free time.

Brad got to spend his birthday in Hong Kong as part of a teaching initiative for SEBTS (www.bradhambrick.com/hongkong) and created a seminar on Post-Traumatic Stress that has become a resource for military chaplains (www.bradhambrick.com/ptsd). As usual, his favorite thing to do is coaching Lawson and Marshall’s ball teams; which included four baseball seasons and one basketball season (Lawson was assistant coach – VP over Team Morale – for Marshall’s basketball team).

Over the next year we would appreciate your prayers that we will (1) fully enjoy this sweet season when our boys are young and lay a good foundation for their future, (2) prioritize marriage and family during a very busy season of life and ministry, and (3) grow in our trust in God’s character and effectiveness at sharing His hope with others.

We want to thank you for your friendship and the unique role you have played in the life of our family. Our prayer is that this Christmas you will experience the power, peace, and joy of Immanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23) – and have the opportunity to multiply that hope by sharing it with others.

Merry Christmas!
The Hambrick Family

Blog Sabbatical 2015 and Prayer Requests

I appreciate all those who peruse my blog, so I wanted to let you know I will be taking a break for a couple of weeks.

I will be spending the next couple weeks in East Asia conducting seminars in counseling to equip churches for more effective one another care in the area of emotions.

I would appreciate your prayers :

  • That we would be an encouragement to the churches we serve
  • That the quality of the one-another care in these churches would continue to grow
  • That this would be a time I learn a great deal about how to counsel cross-culturally; what is timeless and what is culturally bound
  • That these churches’ confidence in Scripture and reliance upon the gospel would be enhanced
  • That I would see new aspects of the gospel and church life as I experience church outside my cultural norms

My plan is to begin posting again on August 3rd. If you really want some posts to read, I would encourage to visit the “My Favorite Posts” section of my site where the most popular posts from this site are arranged topically.

While you’re in the praying mode, I would also ask for your prayers for the Fall teaching schedule.

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS

Date: Saturday September 26, 2015
Time: 4:00 to 7:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP link coming soon

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE INTENSIVE

    • Monday, October 5 – Foundations
    • Tuesday, October 6 – Communication
    • Wednesday, October 7 – Finances
    • Thursday, October 8 – Decision Making
    • Friday, October 9 – Intimacy

Time: 6:30 to 9:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Blue Ridge Campus
Address: 3249 Blue Ridge Road; Raleigh, NC 27612
Cost: Free
Credit Available (learn more here)

GAINING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

Date: Saturday November 14, 2015
Time: 4:00 to 7:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP link coming soon

#ManTrip6: Reflections on a Smoky Mountain Adventure

One of the things I have found most satisfying as a parent is setting aside time each year for a memorable trip with my two sons. In previous posts I have discussed

(1) the kindergarten right of passage trip I took with my first son,
(2) a trip we took when he was especially discouraged at school,
(3) the kindergarten right of passage with my youngest son,
(4) the first before-school-starts joint trip we took as this tradition took on life, and
(5) the before-school-start joint trip we took to Texas (involving their first flight).

LM_rockytopIn this post I will reflect on the latest trip we took to the mountains of West Carolina. With each trip like this we take, my boys become more familiar with the idea; which is both an asset and liability to what we want to accomplish.

The bullets below are arranged chronologically through our trip with thoughts about what went well, what didn’t, and why we did things the way we did.

  • I picked the boys up early from school and we went to try sushi. One of our goals on every “man trip” is to try new things so that fear becomes less of a reason my boys would back out of something God would call them to do. Sushi was about as scary of a food as my oldest could think of to try, so we went for it. He boldly took a bite and was content with his accomplishment.
  • Then we drove to a cabin in the mountains of Northwest NC. Once we got there, we went to town to get supplies and get dinner (this time just a Mexican restaurant). When we got back we explored the woods for good fishing holes later in the trip.
  • The next morning we got up and drove to Boone, NC for a day of rock climbing. We scheduled an all-day package with Rock Dimensions. It was a phenomenal experience. We spent the morning practicing on their tower in town and the afternoon climbing and repelling rock faces in the mountain. Another great time of helping my boys face something scary and seeing the fruit of facing those fears. Pictures available on my Instagram account.
  • Quote of the trip – “Papa, that was scary, but a fun kind of scary,” my youngest son on repelling.
  • When we got back to the cabin we explored the woods for more fishing holes. Hiking in the woods after dark is a great adventure and cultivates lots of conversations.
  • The next day we slept in, which means 8am by little boy standards, and went fishing. This is when we engaged one of our other objectives; having important conversations. With my oldest going into 5th grade, we began the conversation about sex.
  • Since my sons are very close friends, it didn’t seem wise to talk with one and not the other. It is likely too much would get “lost in translation.”
  • I began with an open-ended question, “Have your friends at school talked about sex?” I was curious to know what he knew, or thought he knew.
  • We engaged the subject socially. “Your friends are likely to start talking about sex and I didn’t want you to feel like there were important things you didn’t know.”
  • We talked about key terminology. We talked about the right names for male anatomy, female anatomy, what a virgin is, and the experience of a wet dream. Most of these were framed in terms of embarrassing questions a friend might try to catch them in (i.e., “Are you a virgin?”) and make fun of their answer either way. I helped them understand how to navigate those social situations and let them know they could ask us about any words they didn’t know what they meant.
  • We talked about biology. We talked about sperm, eggs, and DNA. DNA may have been the only part of the conversation that wasn’t awkward for them. They liked learning how they got traits from both Sallie and I, and mentioned this part of the conversation several times on the rest of the trip.
  • We talked about theology. We talked about how God made sex as a gift for husbands and wives in marriage and as a way to produce babies.
  • We didn’t talk about the activity of sex in much detail. This wasn’t needed or age appropriate. Creating the mental image of the physical act would, in my opinion, be pre-mature. The previous points are sufficient for them to understand the physiological changes they’ll begin to experience and navigate the social contexts they’ll find themselves in. My goal was to equip them for the next season of their life; not to educate them to pass a test on sex ed.
  • We left the conversation open-ended. The main take-aways I wanted my boys to have were: (a) we can talk with Mama or Papa if we have questions about sex, (b) they are expecting the topic of sex to come up socially, and (c) we have enough vocabulary to put our questions into words.
  • LM_stream fishingAfter fishing we went back to the cabin, had lunch, and then decided to wade the stream (since the fish weren’t biting; we only caught two). For the next three hours we walked several miles up and down the mountain stream. It was extremely cold and fun. We chased many more fish than we caught. By the end we were falling-over-tired and the current of the stream didn’t help.
  • We got dinner at the same restaurant since the boys liked it and did some more fishing that evening before finding some new rocks to climb. This time was intentionally very free to “play” together in whatever ways caught their interest. A highlight was my oldest slipping and falling face-first in a creek. They both laughed about it all night long. We slept very well that night.
  • The next morning we packed up the cabin, carved some decayed mountain wood with the pocket knives I have them as a gift, and headed home. It is our tradition to stop at Applebee’s (my youngest’s favorite restaurant) on the way home and review the whole trip. This is a chance to help them review the experience and help cement the memories.
  • One of the side benefits of these trips is that it gives me wife a few days fully “off duty.” She gets a quiet house, with no one to clean up after or cook for, and the opportunity to do whatever she wants. So the “man trip” is not just fun for the boys.

This is a tradition that I would commend to any parent, but especially fathers. The value of getting 72 uninterrupted hours with my boys is something that is hard to put into words. Both the quality of bond and type of understanding I gain from this time is different from having dinner together, coaching their sports teams, or playing in the back yard. These moments create memories I will always cherish and, I hope, cement life lessons my boys will never forget.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Parenting” post which address other facets of this subject.

Note on Continued Progress on the Site Rebuild

I continue to appreciate your patience as we rebuild the site. Progress is being made and I am starting to post some new blogs again, but most of my time is being devoted to reconstruction.

Hopefully in the next couple of weeks all of the old posts and resources will be restored. After that, I will be working on re-compiling the posts for the “Favorite Posts” series, which is intended to make the resources available on my site much more accessible.

Thank you for your patience. Things should be fully operational again soon.

Progress Report on Site Rebuild

I appreciate everyone’s patience with the rebuild process. Substantive progress is being made and we hope to have all major resources and blog posts re-entered in the next week or so.

The last part of the site to be re-established will be the on-line, self-scoring evaluations. From what we can tell, it was uploading new editions of these resources that created the crash. We want to make sure we do not create a another window of time when resources are unavailable by uploading these again before we understand what the compatibility issue may have been.

Again, thank you for your patience.