Brett.Ullman

Kings Kaleidoscope – A Prayer

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One of my favourite things is when someone shares a new artist or band with me. Last night at a speaking date someone asked if I had heard of Kings Kaleidoscope. I had heard their name but never listened to them. I was told that their song “A Prayer” was about the singers (Chad Gardner) struggle with anxiety. I listened to this song on repeat the entire way home last night. Powerful lyrics. Thought I would share it with you.

Side Note: There are actually 2 versions of this song. In one version the singer used his actual journals and it includes a F word in the lyrics describing his feelings. If you are going to download this song just be aware there are 2 versions. Lots of debate online about the use of the F word. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression I loved the raw honesty of the lyrics in the clean version. Personally I downloaded the clean version for use in my home. I also understand being in a dark place and his use of language is something that most of us who have struggled can connect with.

This song is a real turning point in worship music to me. The honesty of this amazing song is something i really feel that every follower of Christ needs to hear. A lot of worship seems to be all about the good, while forgetting that, we are bound to struggle in our imperfect, human lives. And there are going to be times where we feel like God will forget about us, or suddenly decide that we are no longer worth his time. Now this isn’t a shot at any other worship, and i hope this is taken as such, but it’s extremely rare that we hear something so honest get put out there, and we really need more songs like this. Songs that remind us even in the hardest times, Jesus will never leave us, because he loves us.So please, if you have the time, give this song a listen and share the word of God’s unfailing love.

Why a Prayer by Kings Kaleidoscope is a turning point for worship

Video and lyrics are below. (clean version for both)

Will I fall or will I misstep?
Will I fall or will I misstep?
Will I call you with my last breathe?
Will you be there for me after?
Will I waste inside the silence
Where the fear is vicious violent?
Wicked sinner thrown to lions
With no hope on the horizon
Will I fall or will I misstep?If I fall or if I misstep
If I fall or if I misstep
If I call you with my last breath
Will you be there for me after?
Cause I’m wasting in this silence
And my fear is vicious violent
I’m a child thrown to lions
Is there hope on the horizon?
If I fall or if I misstep

Jesus, where are You?
Am I still beside You?
Jesus, where are You?
Am I still beside You?
Jesus, where are You?
Am I still beside You?
Am I still beside You?
Jesus, where are You?
Jesus, where are You?

I’m right beside you! I feel what you feel!
And I’m here to hold you when death is too real!
You know, I died, too! I was terrified!
I gave myself for you! I was crucified
Because I love you! I love you, child!
I love you!

What do you think about this song?

My favourite Graduation Poems

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Last night was one of those special “moments” in life as I got to watch my daughter Zoe and a ton of her friends graduate from Grade 8.

There are 3 graduation poems that I have always loved. Thought I would share them with you. Enjoy!

  1. Dr Seuss: Oh, the Places You’ll Go

2. Baz Luhrman: Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97
Wear sunscreen

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it
The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
Than my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth
Until they’ve faded, but trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back
At photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now
How much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked
You are not as fat as you imagine

Don’t worry about the future
Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. On some idle Tuesday
Do one thing every day that scares you

Saying, don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours

Floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy
Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself
Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults, if you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements

Stretch

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life.
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t
Get plenty of calcium
Be kind to your knees
You’ll miss them when they’re gone

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the ‘Funky Chicken’
On your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room
Read the directions even if you don’t follow them
Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly

Brother and sister together we’ll make it through
Some day a spirit will take you and guide you there
I know you’ve been hurting but I’ve been waiting to be there for you
And I’ll be there just helping you out whenever I can

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings, they’re your best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future

Understand that friends come and go
But a precious few, who should hold on

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young
Live in New York City once but leave before it makes you hard
Live in northern California once but leave before it makes you soft

Travel

Accept certain inalienable truths
Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too, will get old
And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young
Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble
And children respected their elders

Respect your elders

Don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you never know when either one might run out

Never mess too much with your hair
Or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85

Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past
From the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts
And recycling it for more than it’s worth

But trust me on the sunscreen

Brother and sister together we’ll make it through
Some day a spirit will take you and guide you there
I know you’ve been hurting but I’ve been waiting to be there for you
And I’ll be there just helping you out whenever I can

Everybody see it oh yeah yeah

Everybody see it oh yeah
He want you to feel good!

3. Robert Fulghum: Everything I learned I learned in Kindergarten

Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis

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First off: I completely dislike this title but I think the article has some great value to it. The question is about what we say to people who are struggling. What people usually take from a title like this is that they are calling the people saying the phrases stupid and then we argue about that statement instead of the content. For some people these statements are all you know and you say them with a heart that is trying to help. What people struggling would like you to know is that for the most part these statements are more hurtful then helpful.  Lets look at how we can better support people struggling.

They suggest changing this from “God will never give you more than you can handle” to “Let me come over and help you do some laundry.” This strikes me as even more theologically correct.

They have some great thoughts on a framework for how to respond.

The first is the emergent or resuscitative stage. At this stage priority is given to removing the person from the source of the burn and stopping the burning process. The big things to think about are fluid replacement, nutrition, and pain management. Translated into crisis care, this means we’ll bring meals, coffee money, and pick up children from day care.

The second stage is the acute or wound healing stage. At this stage, the body is trying to reach a state of balance, while remaining free from infection. During this stage, patients can become withdrawn, combative, or agitated. This stage can be a lengthy and unpredictable stage. Burn victims, like people in crisis, often lash out at those closest to them. Translate this into listening, listening, and listening some more.

The final stage is the rehabilitative or restorative stage. The goal at this stage is for a patient to resume a functional role within their family and community. Reconstruction surgery may be needed. Encouragement and reassurance are critical to the person at this stage. This would translate into going on walks with the person, taking them out to a movie or dinner, having them over for coffee or a meal.

Click here for the entire article

The Unexpected Gift of Burnout

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Some great thoughts here. I am seeing burnout everywhere I travel.

I prefer saying in burnout—present tense. It is a season in the valley of shadows, but the journey is far from ending. There is no defeat here, only a period of spiritual exile, where the exhaustion runs more deeply than simply being tired. Hope lies on the horizon.

Burnout is an overwhelming and all-encompassing exhaustion due to prolonged stress. It is pervasive, affecting the physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of a person. In its wake lies depression, low energy, lack of immune system defenses, emotional numbness, and a sense of spiritual discouragement or defeat. The deep cynicism, the lack of desire to be around anyone, the brooding frustration and anger—this wasn’t what I signed up for when I got into youth ministry.

Click here for the entire article.

 

“Boy’s Will be Boys” Is Killing our Men

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Some really good thoughts here. Please take the 2 minutes to read the article.

When it comes to sex, there is this expectation of males, and it’s a really low one.

The ‘boys will be boys’ culture is not wrong because it’s not inclusive of women.  The ‘boys will be boys’ culture is wrong because it destroys women and men.  In a ‘boys will be boys’ culture, rape is funny, because women don’t matter.  It is a culture that puts the hormonal impulse of the male above all else.  It is an attitude that celebrates a lack of self-control and a reckless headfirst dive into hedonism.  It is a culture that breathes objectification of women.  It is a culture that excuses, even celebrates, the depravity of humanity.

But when it comes to sex, decency, and respect for the life, health, and well-being of another, “boys will be boys” does not fit.

It does not fit when a teenage boy gets drunk.  It does not fit when a young adult drives 100 in a 55.  It does not fit when a husband cheats on his wife.  It does not fit when a drunk college student is raped in a back alley.

Excuses breed acceptance; acceptance breeds expectation; expectation breeds performance.

Pretty soon, a man’s ‘manliness’ is defined by how reckless he can be instead of how responsible.

It leaves us with a culture of reckless, irresponsible, ego-centric, porn-saturated males, who are fairly convinced the world revolves around them and women are simply baby-making, sandwich-making, orgasm-giving bodies.  After all, boys will be boys.

Click here for the entire article.

New Cover Story in Time Magazine Highlights Porn Epidemic

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Great article in Time Magazine this week. If you don’t get Time Magazine here are some thoughts on the article.

This TIME Magazine cover story also highlights the growing pornography industry and consumption among young people—46% of men and 16% of women ages 18 to 39 intentionally view pornography in any given week. While not the focus of the story, TIME mentions other problems with pornography like how porn often celebrates the degradation of women and normalizes sexual aggression. A short article entitled “How porn is changing a generation of girls,” by author Peggy Orenstein followed the cover story and highlighted how porn changes girls’ perceptions of how they should act during sex. TIME also shares a message we have been spreading for years: Those in the anti-pornography movement are not anti-sex. In fact, we are pro-sex and pro-love. As Deem points out, porn is similar to other superstimulating things, like junk food and video games, in that these things, “have the potential to desensitize you to normal, natural things and ultimately rob you of the one thing you thought they would give you, the ability to experience pleasure.”

Click here for the entire article.

Pot-related psychosis linked to early ‘dangerous’ use

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In the last year I have had at least 6 emails from parents who talk about similar stories from the Toronto Star article linked article.

“I was shocked. We live in a society where there is such a culture around smoking dope that people think it is cool to be a stoner. Nobody ever talks about the pitfalls.”

Researchers have established a link between cannabis and psychosis among young people, although they cannot predict who will be triggered, or why.

That last quote is the scary one. Not being able to predict who will be triggered and why.

Youths who are especially at risk are those with a family history of mental illness, or who have suffered sexual or physical abuse. Thibodeau, who went to private school and has a supportive, intact family, doesn’t fit any of these categories.

“When people start smoking before the age of 16, there is a higher risk of having a psychotic experience. We know that early use is dangerous,” said Dr. Romina Mizrahi, a psychiatrist and director of the Focus on Youth Psychosis Prevention Clinic at CAMH. “The brain continues to develop until the age of 25.”

Please take the time to read this. Love to hear any of your thoughts as well.

Click here for the entire article.

10 Thoughts on the Deafening Silence of Parents Today!

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In the last month I have had over 2 dozen (24 conversations) with students, family members, youth workers, teachers and others all talking about students in crisis. You would then ask what kind of crisis am I talking about. I am talking about students in Grades 3-12 struggling with:

  1. Eating disorders
  2. Physically harming themselves (cutting)
  3. Suicidal thoughts including suicide attempts
  4. Depression
  5. Anxiety
  6. Panic attacks
  7. Burnout and breakdown

In every single one of these conversations the problem people are talking to me about is not with the desperate struggle the student is having but what to do when the parent(s) refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong and/or will to do nothing about the problem.

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Martin Luther King Jr.’s

So where do we go from here. First I would say we need to advocate for the people around us. Advocate means to speak up or stand up for people. We, as friends, family and leaders, need to have conversations with the parents who are not addressing these issues.

For some people you may need to sit for a second and question if maybe you are the silent parent. If so, here are some thoughts for you:

  1. How are you presently helping your child in their struggle? You should be able to answer this.
  2. How are you hindering your child in their struggle? There are always areas we can improve on.
  3. Have you created a safe environment where you child feels comfortable talking about their struggles?
  4. Are you perpetuating the stigma of mental health but not talking openly about the struggle in your home?
  5. I understand that you might feel completely overwhelmed but the situation. That is ok. How about booking a counselling appointment for you. Tell the counsellor what is going on in your child’s life and get some strategies to begin to come along side them and support them in this struggle. If you feel overwhelmed as an adult picture being a young student dealing with these issue and how much more overwhelming it must be for them.
  6. I read a quote once that said something along the lines of many parents today are so focused on the downward spiral of their own lives it is hard to think of anything beyond their own situation. Maybe some of you need to work on your own struggles first. I also think that we can be working on our own struggles while at the same time advocating for our own children.
  7. I love the book by Robert Munsch that says “I love you forever and always”. We need to let our kids know that we are always there for them and even if they struggle we will still love them. Many students say to me that they could never tell their parents about their struggles as they hear the comments their parents make about other people with similar struggles. Be careful what critical comments you say about others. You might have people in your own home dealing with the same issues.
  8. Even if you have no idea what to do or say you can say this “I don’t know what you are going through but I love you, I will be here through this journey and I will look at getting you some help.”
  9. Say something. Say anything. Just don’t ignore the problem and assume it will get better. It will not.
  10. As a parent, who has a child struggling, talk to your friends at work, church, school, sports etc. You will probably find that many of your friends have kids who have gone through similar journey’s.  Be vulnerable enough to not be ok. I have heard this quote by many people “Its ok to not be ok, its just not ok to stay that way.”

If you have any other thoughts please add them in a comment. Thanks