Author Archives: findingthecurve

I finally did it.

I, Michayla White, broke down and got an iPhone. An iPhone 4 to be exact. So, by some standards, I’m still “old school” when it comes to my phone. :)

Perhaps you’re shocked I didn’t already have one, or perhaps you’re shocked that I’ve survived this long without one… but, I have one now. And I have a couple of things to say about life with an iPhone.

1)   I enjoy being connected. There is some form of security in feeling like if I need information, if I get lost, if I forget something, if I need to get in touch with someone, I always can now. Usually :)

2)   I don’t like being connected all the time. The constant buzz or little chime of my phone is sometimes overwhelming. I need space from that. So I make space.

3)   I get the addictive nature of these things, and it’s much different than my iPad. I don’t know if it’s the size, or the fact that I text most from my phone, or what it is, but I’m drawn to my iPhone in a much different way than I am to my iPad.

4)   I love how I’ve been able to capture moments of my life for the past month that I’ve had my iPhone. The camera and video camera are always accessible, so I have been able to visually document a lot more of my life than I’ve normally been doing. When we have kids, this will probably be even more valuable.

5)   I think it’s a keeper, though I’m learning I need to steward myself more with it.

Last night, I went for a walk. I brought my iPhone along because I wanted to work on my memory verses for work. So, I opened my YouVersion app, hit the audio play for Luke 2, and off I went. I got about 12 text messages, 3 Facebook notifications, and 7 emails on that walk. But I didn’t respond to any of them until after my walk was done. Why? Because I wanted to focus on what I set out to do. I wanted to just enjoy nature, enjoy the Word of God, and have peace. To disconnect for just a little bit.

So, I broke down, and got an iPhone. I’m really enjoying it. I’m thankful for it. It’s incredible. But it’s an incredible tool. I plan to keep it that way, and I’m trying to be purposeful in stewarding how I use it. There’s too many wonderful things in life I could miss if I failed to steward my focus, attention, and time.

What do you do to disconnect?


What Kickstarter Started

A few weeks ago, I (Michayla White) got an email from a coworker letting a group of us know that his daughter was going to be in a thing called the 24 Musical. Essentially, two young men had the idea of, “What would happen if we held auditions, had people show up at 7 pm on a Friday night, cast them, rehearsed for 24 hours, and put on a show on Saturday at 7 pm?” Sounds cool, right? It is! But why would people want to do that? Or want to come see it?

That’s where the power comes in. The reason behind the idea is everything. They wanted to raise money for an organization that builds wells for people who do not have access to clean water. (Living Water International)

So, access to the musical was free- they just encouraged you to please donate to the cause that day.

My husband and I thought, “Cool- that would be a fun date!” And it was! Not only the talent, but also the hearts of everyone who participated blew us away. At the end of the show, they let the audience know that they had raised over $5,000 to build a well in Africa.

But how did they fund production of the show? Where did the props come from? The costumes?

That’s where Kickstarter came in…

Kickstarter is brilliant. It’s a place that people can go, share an idea, and gain support from people like you and me who want to see that “thing” happen. Kickstarter itself is not used for funding causes or raising money for charities. However, for an event like 24 Hour Musical where the intent is to raise money for a charity, they still needed funding to make the event actually happen. Funding for the production of the 24 Hour Musical came from regular people who wanted to see it happen- and Kickstarter was the mechanism through which they could donate.

You share your idea, you let people know what the plan is, and you set a financial goal. If, at the end of the time your idea is up for funding, you haven’t reached 100% of your goal, it doesn’t happen. This protects you and the people who put money into your project. As a donator, you also will receive rewards from the project leader for various dollar amounts you donate (higher the dollar amount, higher the reward).

Poster

Have you seen the Blue Like Jazz movie?

That was funded via Kickstarter. The goal amount? $125,000. How much they actually raised? $345,992. For donating just $10, you would have received a personal phone call from the director, Steve Taylor (Yes, THE Steve Taylor). :-)

 

 

 

When I had lunch with him last November, he said he was still making phone calls to people.  (That’s a picture of me and a few of my coworkers with him at NYWC)

What has Kickstarter started? Actually, they didn’t start anything. They provided a platform that allows people like you and me to invest in what we get excited about- what we want to see become reality. It provides a framework for ideas to get the backing they need to become more than an idea. That’s pretty brilliant. When there is an idea, a will to see the idea come to life, and people who buy into your idea, it’s pretty incredible to watch what happens.

So, all of this begs the question…what about your ideas?


Making sense of it all

I’ve (Don Hampton) been doing a lot of research recently on what people see as the future of children’s ministry. Sure, everybody’s talking technology. No surprise there.

There’s a ton of great stuff out there – apps, media, online resources, gadgets – to help with even the most mundane issues we tackle on a day-to-day basis.

But the biggest issue we, as parents and educators, face is how we will fill the role of helping kids interpret what they see and do.

I love this quote from Matt Guevara:

“The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching and credentialing.” (www.corycenter.org)

He is so right. Not only is technological change happening at an astronomical rate, it is not going to slow. And kids, by design, do not have the filters to adequately discern yet what is “best” or what is appropriate.

Here are four thoughts on how to help “make sense” for kids:

  1. Watch with them. When you start by entering in with your kids, you better understand what attracts them to a particular show or app. My 15-year-old is completely enamored with “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” I watched with her and, honestly, it was lost on me. So I began to ask questions. “What about this show do you like?” The more I asked, the more I began to understand. That kind of guidance allows your kids not only to feel safe about their relationship with you, it gives them permission to have different tastes from yours. And, in the case of a child watching something that may not be appropriate, you can do a careful redirect through your questions and answers.
  2. Talk with them about what “age appropriate” means. If there is content you’d rather not have them see, hear or interact with, it’s better not to just “lay down the law.” Use the opportunity to explain why. What is it about that content that isn’t okay? Get out your Bible and show them what God says.
  3. “Let your yes be yes.” This one is hard for me. I have the tendency to not want to “squelch” my kids’ enthusiasm with too many rules. And, of course, the problem is my kids know it. So, making sure you are clear on what the rules are and why – not just in your own mind but in discussion with your kids – will save you all a lot of heartache. It’s okay to say things like, “We don’t watch movies with cursing” or “That app is not appropriate for someone your age.” Just be prepared for the discussion that follows and stick to your guns.
  4. Pray. Can’t emphasize it enough. Pray not only for your children, but for this generation of kids. There is not only more amazing and beautiful technology and media out there than ever before, there is also more destructive stuff. All you have to do is watch primetime TV to see the commercials for horrific video games or watch some of the trailers for films aimed at kids that just look awful. Pray, pray, pray.

 

What else can we do to help make sense of it all for our kids?

 


Tremendous Opportunity

Thomas Edison, the great inventor, said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” So true, isn’t it? Anything worth doing requires effort, and that is part of the beauty of opportunity.

I (Michayla) was reading today on Mashable.com about how much data is created every second, and I was kind of blown away by the numbers. The numbers told me a couple of things:

1)   We are (no surprise here) creative beings. (Every minute, users upload 48 hours of new video to YouTube, and close to 7,000 photos are uploaded to Instagram or Flicka.)

2)   We are made to share and engage. (Every minute, Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, Twitter users send over 100,000 tweets, Tumblr blog owners publish 27,778 posts, and email users send over 200 million messages!)

3)   The digital landscape is full of opportunity for the family of God.

Did you know that the global Internet population grew 6.59 percent from 2010 to 2011? This means that 2.1 BILLION people are on the Internet!

As a follower of Jesus, I know that it is my joy to bear His name, to magnify Him, and to share with others what He did for me on the cross. The Internet provides us with an opportunity to create things that point to Jesus, to share His love and gift of redemption, to help us grow and develop, and to engage with each other no matter where we are. I’m consistently blessed and amazed by the way my brothers and sisters have created tools or resources that edify the body and share the Gospel (like the YouVersion Bible app, Yahero’s online world for kids, or my friend’s blog where she shares what God is teaching her). We have greater access than ever before to information, teaching and preaching, music, art, video, and communities that help us grow in our walk with Jesus- and it is all at our finger tips. What a gift!

So my question, as I look at this landscape that 2.1 billion people make use of, would be: what can you and I do with this opportunity? What can you and I create? What can you and I share? What ideas can you and I make happen to bless each other with?

It may take some work, but it is worth not missing the opportunity.


“Digital Dads” connect

With Father’s Day coming up, I (Don Hampton) thought this was timely. Today’s infographic on mashable.com actually suggests that increased digital usage by dads can make them more aware and, perhaps, better prepare them to “real world” parent their kids.

In the study (“Digital Dads Are Plugging In, Getting Social”), they found that “digital dads” are more likely than “average joes” to:

  • Be connected with their kids via social media AND keep an eye on their interactions on those sites
  • Track their kids’ web-browsing histories
  • Try to LIMIT the amount of time their kids are digitally connected

AND

  • Give their kids “digital timeouts” by sending them outside to play or bringing them someplace interesting.

So what does that mean? I think, at least to a certain extent, that we are exposed to so much (good and bad) via digital technology that we (digital dads) tend to be much more aware of the opportunities and dangers it poses.

We understand the temptations and we recognize the risks and, if we are guys who desire to be “good dads,” we want to help our kids make wise decisions while we prepare them for the world ahead of them.

What do you think? You can see the article and infographic here:

http://mashable.com/2012/06/14/digital-dads-are-plugging-in-getting-social-infographic


When technology and ministry meet…

According to Webster Dictionary, faithfulness is “steadfast in affection or allegiance.” Constant, dedicated, devoted, steady, true etc. All these are synonymous of that word.

I (Michayla) think our world craves these things. We desire steadfastness, truth, steadiness, and constancy in a shifting, unstable world. In our relationships, in our careers, in our families, in our churches, in our own spirits… we desire faithfulness. 

Psalm 36:5 and Psalm 108:4 both say God’s faithfulness “reaches to the skies.” Such a beautiful picture for our finite minds, isn’t it? It has no end… it just goes on and on and on. And that is eternally comforting to His children- the ability to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our Dad is constant, steady, true… forever faithful.

So when it comes to our work in ministry (whether we’re writing curriculum, creating an app, doing a load of laundry, or making dinner for the family), faithfulness is one of the greatest gifts we can offer to those we are serving and to those we work with.

Our world changes quickly. We see the change in technology, especially. All we need to do is take a look at where we were ten years ago (No iPhones? No iPads? No Facebook?) to see how far we have come. The change is good. Progress is important. So when it comes to the place where ministry and technology meet, we’re after progress but we are also after faithfulness. It’s about holding to the core (remaining faithful) while making necessary changes to keep moving forward instead of stagnating (being dedicated). It’s a good tension.

Faithfulness means that the main thing stays the main thing- not tossed about with every whim.

Change is good. It is necessary. Faithfulness, in the midst of it all, is vital.


Testing the spirits

I (D0n) read a lot. Guess that’s not really a confession coming from someone with a college degree in Literature. But nonetheless …

One magazine I really like is Neue. It touts itself as “The magazine for leaders shaping the future of the church.” Pretty tall order, if you ask me. Sometimes I think it falls short of that goal, but the Spring 2012 issue offers quite a bit of really interesting content. In particular, they asked “13 of today’s most influential pastors” to give advice to “emerging leaders” in the US church.

One thought that caught my eye is from Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. He said, “We have greater access to information than any other generation. But information is not knowledge. What are you doing to ‘test the spirits’ (1 John 4:12) and practice discernment in the Google Age?”

And that’s been a point I’ve considered a lot over the past couple years. There is a wealth of information available extremely rapidly to everyone today, but we know that not every source is credible, not every piece of data is accurate. And, as much as we need to carefully guard our hearts and minds and “test the spirits,” how much more responsibility do we carry as people who work with kids?

I see it as a mandate that we take very seriously the call to teach children and teens discernment and critical thinking skills. How can they be identify the truth within an ocean of information unless they are given the tools to sift it out? Of course the Holy Spirit is our guide, but scripture does teach that we are to “test the spirits” – to use the discernment God has given to decide what is right.

So, how do we step up to that challenge?


Responsible Creativity

The other night over dinner at Chick-Fil-A (mmmm), my husband gave me an awesome pep talk. I (Michayla) was talking through some concerns about work projects, and he shared some fantastic wisdom. He’s an amazing little league coach, so pep talks are a specialty of his :). Here’s the gist of what I pulled out of his healthy dose of perspective.

Anyone in the position of creating something (whether it’s a lesson plan, a piece of art, a proposal, a craft for your Awana Club etc.) has to understand going into it that the project is not about him or her. It’s first, as a Christian, about God. It’s secondarily about the people for whom you are creating.

When you put pressure on yourself to come up with something great or “cool” and you rely on your own cleverness, the project ceases to be great. However, when your motivation is about making something for people that they need and serves them well, then that perspective will keep you pointed in the right direction: away from yourself.

When working on a project, we have to always ask, “What’s the point of this? What’s the ‘why’?” Because it’s not just about creating a neat app, or a cool product, or a clever strategy. It’s about serving. It’s about people. It’s about the Lord. Not about the bottom line, and definitely not about our own self-promotion.

Does that mean you don’t pour your unique passion, energy, and heart into your projects? Of course not. God gave us all unique passion, energy, and hearts for a reason. They are a gift, and they bless people when we use them to serve. We need to use them well.

So, these projects that I’m working on- should I stress about feeling like they aren’t where they should be yet, that they’re not clever enough, or “right” enough? I think, rather, that I should be praying, “God, is this what they need? Is this going to serve them well? Is this going to accomplish what You want to accomplish?” Then the project becomes about His glory and their good, and not about myself or my department.

This is the responsibility behind creativity: setting oneself aside (including all the self-imposed pressure) to create for others in order to honor the Father.

May the amount of time we pour into creating that product or that Large Group Time lesson (whatever the project may be) match the amount of time we are on our knees about what we are creating and who we are creating it for.


Schools Changing Education Paradigm

I (Michayla) read this article about how a high school in Pennsylvania is integrating technology use into the classroom. They’re not just using smart boards or school-owned laptops. They are letting kids use their personal smart phones and tablets in the classroom.

The article says that this new policy is “an attempt by the district to come to terms with fiscal realities.” There is simply not enough money to provide every child with a laptop or tablet. The idea is that allowing kids who own smartphones, tablets, or laptops to use them in school would free up the school to purchase devices for kids who do not own one.

This is quite a paradigm shift. Most schools have a strict “no-phone” policy. However, according to the article, educators are recognizing the need for kids to know how to use these devices properly- whether that is how they use it to find information or how they use it to interact with others.

But wouldn’t opening the door to personal devices being used in the classroom create a flood of issues with it? Sure. I appreciate how this school is addressing that question, though. Their answer? They recognize that they don’t know everything about how allowing these devices in the classroom will affect the education experience. They are doing what they can to safeguard that experience, but they also know that this is something they will need to address as issues arise. They are not letting fear of the unknown keep them from trying something new. Like the article says, “As with any new program, there are growing pains.”

This high school requires students to register their devices with the school and only use the school’s network (which blocks access to specific web content). But what is a student with a 3G data stream going to do if they are really determined to access something? Circumvent the school’s network, of course. Educators are going to have to learn how to handle those situations properly.

What is the benefit to allowing students access to technology in the classroom? First, this generation does not know life without the Internet. It is part of the way they gain information and interact with each other. This affects the way they study, the way the process information, and how they connect ideas. It’s taking how they learn information in every day life, and incorporating that into the learning experience of the classroom. Second, it’s accomplishing one of the principals that many schools are adopting: “real-world learning” and more engaged learning (critical thinking and problem solving vs. rote memorization). Third, technology use has opened up incredible opportunities for special needs children to learn and develop. I used to babysit an autistic child very regularly when I was a high school student, and it excites me beyond words to think of what will be possible for him as an adult because of technology.

Are there going to be issues because of these devices showing up in the classroom? Absolutely. Are there going to be downsides? Of course. But schools can’t really know what those will be specifically until they try something new.

How has technology effected your child’s learning experience? What do you see as the benefits and negatives?


Twitterpated?

Is the “tweet” literally altering the way we think?

The world seems to be falling in love with Twitter. It’s immediate, ubiquitous and, honestly, sort of feeds our egos.

Twitter and Facebook are really about two things: immediacy and platform. Anybody can very quickly share their thoughts or comment on the thoughts of others. It creates a sense of virtual community.

But Twitter only allows you 140 characters in which to say whatever it is you have to say. Facebook may afford you a bit more, but brevity is the key to getting read in either place.

That caused me (Don Hampton) to think: “Just how effective can you really be in communicating something of depth and value in 140 characters?”

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposi”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are th”

I know what you’re thinking. Social media wasn’t designed for oration or to really even be a space where true discourse can take place.

But isn’t that the point?

Twitter has more than 360 million users and Facebook even more at last report. People are going there every day to interact, explore and discuss.

Combine that necessary brevity of speech with the fact that social media allows anyone to have an equal platform and you can see that we have created here a true marketplace of ideas that has very little moderation.

In other words, whereas we used to be a society where degrees, experience, expertise and skills were relevant to dialogue, we are rapidly moving in the direction that we don’t really need to listen to anything we don’t like – and every idea is just as valid as every other.

And, if I only have 140 characters with which to convince you, how convincing can I be?

 


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