Seductive Senior Pictures

I’ve started this post a million times not wanting to tread on sensitive ground yet want to talk about something that has been concerning to me.

I’ll just get it out there.

I’m concerned about all the seductive senior pictures I’m seeing in facebook land.

Girlzzzzzz…….some of you are pulling off sexy really well but what you’re doing is dangerous. You’re setting yourself up for harm later on.

Before your eyes roll all the way in the back of your head just listen for a few more paragraphs please. I care about you. Enough to say this stuff because we both know it’s kind of awkward to talk about.

There are some way cool trends in Senior pictures lately. The possibilities are endless. You can choose a location that makes you feel most in your element – an urban setting, a park or beach, sports field, or performing arts center. Really cool stuff.

And while there are some amazingly creative options in photography there will be choices you need to make.

I know this seems like a peripheral issue compared to the big things in your life right now like boyfriends, getting your license and making college plans. But this little issue can set you up for some bigger issues down the road.

I want to encourage you to make wise choices in how you pose and what outfits you wear for your Senior pictures. Your countenance and facial expressions – you know what I mean. All these things have a part in the message you’re sending in your picture. Even if you feel that your photo session is not something that represents you typically – it is still you in those pictures. You are sending a message whether you realize it or not.

When your time comes to dress and pose for Senior pictures think about this – if someone had to describe your picture at first glance in one word what would it be? And do you really want it to be “sultry, provocative and sexy”? Because that’s the word I would use to describe quite a few of the Senior portraits I’ve seen.

Of course people may interpret things differently than we intend. And we can’t be all about what others think of us. But we do need to be responsible in the message we send by how we conduct ourselves. And this includes how we dress.

There’s a time and place to look and feel sexy. And I promise you it’s not in your Senior pictures or on Prom night. There’s unique treasure and delight in saving all the sexy for one special person in the future. Your husband.

If you know me at all then you know I’m not suggesting you throw on a pair of polyester culottes with a  turtleneck and wrap your hair tight in a granny bun and sport some white reeboks & tube socks for your photo shoot. No, please don’t even. We’d all throw up.

Know this about yourself – God made you beautiful. You’re already chosen and accepted by Him. You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to one up your friends. It’s not necessary to dress a certain way to impress your boyfriend. You can trade in provocative and sultry for confident in Christ and already accepted.

Don’t get sucked into current trends of our culture that block out who you really are. Some girls don’t know who they are in Christ. But some do know and they are falling into an easy trap that we must all guard ourselves against.

As Christ followers we are different. We will look different – even in the little-big things like Senior pictures.

Sometimes we do things and look back on them and realize we’d do it differently next time. Our God gives us grace and we need to give grace to others as well. So if you’re one who has learned or is learning the hard way – don’t walk in shame. Don’t feel condemned. But be encouraged to do differently now and to encourage others on a right track. This is what the body of Christ does for each other.

Good luck girls to finishing out your school year. May you radiate Jesus Christ, your creator. May He fill you with a satisfaction in Him alone so that when you go to pose for Senior pictures it’s really not a big deal. It’s just someone snapping a pic of who you really are.

 

 

 

 

Writing Letters

Oh don’t get me wrong – I love sending and receiving an encouraging text, sweet phone call and real live conversations. They are convenient and a wonderful part of daily life. But I’m old school enough to still be sad that the hand written letter continues to fade ever so fast.

That and because I love any excuse to go to Barnes & Noble I bought the kids note cards and had them write letters to two people of their choice while sitting at Starbucks. Mitchell has more beautifuler handwriting than I do and Sophie is to the point in one or two sentences but hey she gets her point across. So there we sat putting the discipline of hand writing a note into practice.

What was so cool is that when we came home I had this sitting in the mailbox. A handwritten note from my best friend’s daughter. Apparently she’s teaching the old fashion art of handwritten notes as well to her daughter who’s a little younger than Sophie. What I love is that they let her do it all by herself because take a gander at the address under my name. She had a lot of trust in the postman. He didn’t need a zip code. The Piedmont Triad area as she accurately puts it – very smart girl – covers about 48 counties. Oh how I will treasure this handwritten, self addressed note forever. How did it get to us? Well, her Daddy put it in an envelope and readdressed it for her.

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Here’s to the hand written note – toasting with my #2 pencil and paper in hand.

Why your child is not my friend

It started four years ago – I’d get Facebook friend requests either from young girls I was mentoring or friends of our son. Not because I’m a cool Mom but maybe because their parents said something like, “Fine, Mr. Fourth Grader, you can have a Facebook account but you have to be friends with the Preacher’s Wife.” They might not even know my name but you know being friends with a Preacher’s Wife makes having an underage Facebook account alright. Ha! I’m kidding. But seriously, I’d get these friend requests and I didn’t know what to do with it.

I didn’t know what to do with it because they were 10 & 11 year olds and this is what Facebook clearly states about having an account at that age:

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Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher). Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.

If your underage child created an account on Facebook, you can show them how to delete their account.

If you’d like to report an account belonging to someone under 13, please fill out this form. Note that we’ll promptly delete the account of any child under the age of 13 that’s reported to us through this form.

I liked the idea of being friends with my kids friends on Facebook because you can tell a little about a person from Facebook. I want to get to know my kids friends and Facebook would give me a tiny glimpse into that. Plus it’s just fun to celebrate with people ya know? I love seeing pictures of my kids friends on Facebook.

But my dilemma remained. I decided I wouldn’t friend anyone under the required age of Facebook. And not so much because I was “boycotting” but I didn’t think it would be fair for me to be friends with my kids friends and not allow my own kids to have a Facebook account because of their age.

I continued to decline friend requests – my kids don’t even know this. If they asked me I would tell them. But I don’t want them to get a judgey attitude towards their friends because they have a Facebook account. Or to hate me because I won’t let them have one although it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I don’t judge their parents for allowing them to have one. That’s their choice. And honestly in some ways I wish my kids had a Facebook or Instagram account before they were 13 so they could have more experience navigating social media. But the simple principle is this: play by the rules even when everyone around you doesn’t. It’s hard to teach our kids to stand up for what is right when we help them go around what is right even in the small things. Especially in the small things.

So please don’t be offended if I don’t friend your child on Facebook. It’s not because I don’t like your kid. Because truth is I really do – a lot. And I promise I won’t be offended or judge you for making a personal choice I am not making for my kids. And we can still be friends – in real life.

 

Homecoming Court: a platform to teach about true identity

It happens every year – homecoming court. I love it and I hate it. I hate that young girls especially tend to place so much value on a like, a share, a comment or in the case of homecoming – a vote. Each girl secretly hopes to be chosen as class representative even if she is too scared to walk the court or doesn’t want to be in the spot light. She still wants to be the one picked. To dress up in a beautiful dress and be escorted by a boy also chosen by classmates. It might be awkward and nerve-wracking but still it’s a desire by many girls. Not all but many.

I’m not one of these parents who thinks every girl and boy should be on the homecoming court or there should be no homecoming court at all. No, that’s just weird. I don’t think all kids need a ribbon for participating. As long as we live on this earth, have jobs and live in community we will experience competition and levels of achievement. We should always strive to do our best with what God has given us and rest in the contentment that comes in pointing it all back to Him.

But lets be honest and say it’s not always easy to do that. To desire something – an accomplishment or position – and not get it. We can be quick to internalize false judgements about ourselves as we equate votes (or lack of votes) with value.

So as you approach Homecoming season (or Basketball, Football, etc) with your girl or boy – whether he/she desires to be on the Homecoming Court or not consider talking about these things with them beforehand.

You are already CHOSEN by God – I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

You are already ACCEPTED by God – Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

You are GIFTED by God – Romans 12:6 – We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

You are QUALIFIED by God – Colossians 1:12 – Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.

It might also do us well to remember these identifying truths of our own standing in Christ. As believers in Jesus Christ we already have every.thing we need. Our relationship with Jesus provides an inheritance far greater than the most beautifulestest homecoming dress, most prestigious badge of honor, the most points in a game, or the largest instagram following. When we understand our true identity we are quick to forego the craving for positions and titles and are more quick to serve and come alongside others for a greater purpose.

These are not spiritual props to be viewed as “ribbons for everyone” but this is a believers core identity. It’s who we are through and through whether we know it or not. And these are just a few of a long list of inheritance factors. Want to know more of who you are in Christ? Then check out theseA -Z cards from my friend Cindy Bultema. I use these cards a lot as a reminder to both me and my kids of who God says we are.

So today, let’s celebrate that we’ve already been voted on and chosen by the King of Kings.

It simply can’t get any better than that!

 

 

31 Days: Day 20 – A Halloween Outreach

Oh how I love Halloween. It’s so much fun to dress up and as an adult you can dress up without being considered totally cray cray. I have a Nun costume and was dared by our outreach ministry team to wear it and make an announcement for our upcoming outreach on Halloween night but I declined. As much as I love to dress up I just am not feeling the costume on Sunday morning for some reason. Apparently I’m getting old because since when have I ever turned down a dress-up opportunity. Ha!

The outreach we’re doing Halloween night is awesome. It’s your basic Trunk or Treat but with tables instead of car trunks and it takes place at the community park instead of our church parking lot. Why do we do this? Because we want to punch holes in the darkness and this particular park carries darkness with it even in the day time. So we’ll set up 8′ tables in the park, decorate them and hand out tons of candy. We turn the small playground area into an obstacle course and have luminaries decorating the pathway. This year we’re setting up a photo booth for families/kids to have their picture taken and then will email the picture to them right then (if the logistics work). At the end of the trail of treats there will be a “dark room” and this is where groups of about 15-20 people will listen to a 3 minute presentation of how were were all born into darkness but that a way was provided for us to enter into light. We use dark lights and special effects to help tell the good news. At the end we give all the kids a glow necklace. It’s a fast and furious night but we feel it’s worth the chaos and the effort.

Our first year doing this was last year and we had no idea how many people would come. We gave out 500 necklaces to children only even though the adults wanted them too. We just didn’t have enough to go around. This year we’ve ordered double the amount of everything. We’re also doubling the dark room so the line will move quickly. People waited over an hour last year and we want to help things go quicker if they come back. We’ll see. You just never know with outreach. We just have to do what God calls us to and leave the results up to Him.

So whether you’re punching holes in the darkness on your church property or in your community park know that God will light the way for us!

 

31 Days: Day 11 – Reaching out in church

Outreach doesn’t have to take place outside the walls of our church or church family although that’s where we normally tend to place outreach. We have plenty of opportunities within our own church walls to get outside of ourselves and focus on loving those around us.

One of the first things I think about is new people visiting church. For those of us who have been churchin’ it for lightyears we don’t think twice about going to church. But for some people it’s a very hard thing. They’re uncomfortable or afraid they won’t fit in. They keep showing up but it takes more guts than anyone realizes.

So one of the things we can do to reach out within the church walls is to simply introduce ourselves and offer a warm welcome to people we don’t know. And then at some point ask if you can sit with them or invite them to sit with you. It’s okay that you’re not sitting in your “regular seat” – you know, the one you assigned yourself 54 years ago.  I’m a big believer in moving around for your church seat. It seems crazy but you actually can get to know people just by sitting next to them if you attempt to reach out in the slightest. We might be surprised at how much it can mean to simply sit with someone.

Another great way to reach out within our own church walls is by having people over. This is becoming a lost art in our busy and fast paced culture. I will be sharing some great resources in the days to come about this topic of hospitality as a means of outreach. The Lord has put two books in my lap in the last two months that have changed the way I think about this topic. I can’t wait to tell you more about it. I’ll be giving one of the books away and hope you’ll come back for a chance to win a copy.

So as you go to church tomorrow maybe just maybe think twice about planting yourself in the same pew chair you’ve sat in for the last 6 months. What if you looked for a new face. And then sat with them and introduced yourself to them. Who knows what doors God might open through your intentional seating assignment.

31 Days: Day 10 – Human Trafficking Outreach

My eyes were first opened to the reality of human trafficking (sex slavery, modern slavery) when I attended a conference in Atlanta. A copy of  “The White Umbrella” was given to everyone in attendance. For the next several weeks I read a chapter every day in carpool line and it broke my heart. It scared me and it made me overwhelmingly aware of the reality of human trafficking all around us, not just in other countries. My eyes were beginning to open. This video also had an impact on my tiny glimpse of seeing more into human trafficking.

Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children. However boys are not excluded and this man’s story is sad but incredibly powerful.

So what’s one to do when this seems like such a HUGE issue and it takes more than just you or me to do something about it in terms of making a difference. I think the first thing we can do is to educate ourselves on these hard topics. And it won’t be easy. It’s hard to read “The White Umbrella” and other articles of human trafficking. Reading about the pain of others, especially kids, rips a Mama’s heart out and you can’t help but think of your own children. The easy thing is to turn our heads, close our ears and let someone else read that stuff. Let the non-profits deal with it. But these people – the marginalized, the victims of abuse, the abandoned are at the very heart of Jesus. So when we take time to read these true stories we are reading about people who are precious and dear to Jesus. We are stepping into his heart for people.

But just reading and understanding what’s going on in the world of human trafficking isn’t enough to make a difference. We must take the next step and pray for these children. To take them to our God who sees and knows everything. Who cares. Who listens. We can spend a lot of time dwelling on how and why He could let this happen or we can trust He is who He says He is. He is faithful and good and all knowing. Of course we don’t understand why these things happen other than it’s a devastating part of living in a fallen world with sin. Or we can trust that our God loves and cares for each one of these victims. We don’t know their names but we can take them to the One who does. Prayer makes a difference. If you can pray you can make a difference.

After education ourselves and praying for the victims of human trafficking we may see that the Holy Spirit is calling us to go further in involvement. At that point we can look into organizations and ministries in our area that help with rescuing children, women and men out of modern slavery. You can give financially or you can volunteer to help.

I love what Atlanta Dream Center is doing on the weekends through “Princess Night”. Also the author of The White Umbrella has put feet to her prayers and burden through Wellspring Living. These are both places in the Atlanta area and they function on both paid staff and volunteers. I have a few friends who go onto the streets of downtown Atlanta on the weekends to tell prostitutes that Jesus loves them and there’s a way out of their industry (slavery) if they’re ready. They work with Wellspring and are trained before going out so they are cautious and fully aware of safety measures. They have a team of people praying for both safety and for God to rescue women out of slavery on these nights of outreach.

This article made my heart smile although I was uncomfortable with some of it too and I think that exposes my own still struggling legalistic heart.

So yeah, I can talk about the neat & tidy outreach like visiting the elderly, mentoring, and spontaneous giving and those things are important but getting involved in something like human trafficking is truly serving in the trenches. It involves risk and being uncomfortable. It’s not neat and tidy by any means. “Risky and in the trenches” doesn’t mean it’s any greater of any outreach. Because outreach is sending a message to others that Jesus fully loves and he is enough. You can do that while sharing and showing that message to a prostitute as much as you can with a 90 year old toothless granny or your neighbor next door. The Holy Spirit is our guide and as we pray and ask him to show us outreach opportunities he will open our eyes and help us along the way.

Father, you are our Revealer. You expose the deep dark things that are hidden. Today we pray for those that are being held in captive and have become accustomed to a way of life they think they can never leave. Rescue them Abba Father. Send someone to share a message of hope. To show a different way. To provide everything they need to leave. Give those girls the courage and faith to step out and trust the ones trying to help them. Reveal, rescue and redeem these victims O Lord. In your powerful name I ask these things, Amen.

 

 

2 Tips in training money $mart kids

1. Let them make money by working. 

In order to teach kids how to manage money wisely they need to have the opportunity to work for a weekly amount of money even if it’s just one dollar.

Mitchell and Sophie have the opportunity of making $5.00 a week in household chores if they do them all. They also have non-paying responsibilities around the house that they are expected to do just because…. well, because they live here. Mitchell mowed a neighbor’s lawn this summer so he made some extra money and this got Sophie wanting to make more money.

So she decided to earn extra money by making a lemonade stand. I rolled my eyes and prayed she’d have a few customers because I really didn’t think it would go well but she really really wanted to do it so I let her.

She made $13.50 her first hour and she’s only selling it for 50 cents!  The second day she hired out help and made $40 in less than 2 hours. She hired me to make the lemonade ($1.00) and split the profit down the middle with the friend who helped her sell. HA!! Doesn’t the UPS Truck, Taxi van (?) and police car crack you up??? It totally blessed my soul that they would buy lemonade from the girls. (And yes, I was watching closely….. Mama bear showed her face upon every lemonade transaction.)

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2. Teach your kids to do 3 things with every dollar earned. (Give.Save.Spend)

Whether it’s $1.00 earned or $20.00 earned we teach our kids to do the same three steps: They put their money in three different envelopes: Give (tithe 10%) Save (saves 10%) and Spend (what’s left over – 80%). Sophie is saving up for a bike so all her Spend money will go towards a bike soon. Her “Save” money goes into her savings account to offset college expenses. We/she deposits it in her savings account every six months. And every six months she puts all her Give money together and gives that money in an offering at church. Mitch does the same thing. And we do the same thing with our money.

It’s a discipline that has the potential of changing your child’s life when he or she is older. If they can get into the practice now of giving, saving and spending it will become a life long habit that will give them a strong foundation going into marriage.

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Want to teach your kids good financial cents? (ha! ha! I couldn’t resist) Then check out Dave Ramsey’s materials. The Financial Peace Junior kit is awesome and very affordable. I love it out of everything out there I’ve tried as far as chore charts, payment charts, etc.  There is actually a Financial Peace Junior Bible Study that is downloadable. Our church is starting this study for kids 1st -5th grade this month. The envelopes you see in the picture came in the Financial Peace Junior kit. It comes loaded with some other great resources as well.

Linking with Jennifer, Holley and Kristin

 

3 gifts that can change the course of your child’s school year.

A lot of schools start up today in our area and possibly in yours too. We all remember those first day jitters and excitement. New backpacks, new school clothes and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils accompany little feet walking into hallways.

Soon enough though the newness wears off and the pressures of school work, mean kids and peer pressure can take its toll on our little ones and even the big high schoolers. As parents we can feel helpless at times sending our kids out the door with only a hug and a kiss not knowing what they could be walking into that particular day.

Whether you have a little one or a big one at school consider giving these three gifts to your child this year.  I promise it WILL make a difference. A difference in their school day, their school year and a marked difference in their life. And better yet – they’re free!

1. Read the Bible together as a family every morning. 

Be aware that this will not come easy. Satan will throw up every possible hinderance and road block on school mornings that you attempt to do this. But I promise you it will be well worth the time. Equipping ourselves and our children with the powerful word of God is school day changing, school year changing and life changing. Why would we not fight for this? Need a good Bible reading plan? Check out this app (what we’ve been using as a family) or this. There are a lot of good bible reading plans. Or just start with a few verses in Proverbs each day. It only takes setting the clock for an extra 15-20 minutes to do this. You can’t do anything better than this to start out your day.

2. Pray for your child/ren every day. 

I am a firm believer in writing and documenting prayers.When I look back and see what I’ve been praying for my kids and how God answers those requests my faith is strengthened. I can point out to our kids how God answered prayer and is alive and working. Ask your kids how you can pray for them and also tell them how you are praying for them as God puts specific things on your heart throughout the year. Mom’s In Prayer is an excellent resource that brings Moms together in prayer once a week. This has been a part of my kids lives ever since they started school. On the way to school my kids will often ask, “Mom, who are you praying for today? Will you ask the Moms to pray about this_________.” And I love that they too are now counting on this weekly corporate time of prayer.

3. Send them off with a word of encouragement every single morning. 

This morning our daughter had rough morning including tears and frustration. She looked at me and said, “Mom, is it going to be a good day today?” I assured her it was but she wasn’t totally convinced and she asked, “How do you know?” Quickly the Lord impressed on my heart a visual of the morning glories that are in our neighbors yard. I said, “Soph, it’s because God’s mercies are new every single morning. And this morning you have new mercies that you didn’t have yesterday from God.” I wanted to show her the morning glories and explain how they work – they only bloom once and are good for that day. They usually fall off at the end of the day and then new blooms come in the morning. And so I was able to send her off with the encouragement of “Look for your new mercies today sweet girl. They are there for you.” Other days are simply, “Hey, you are going to have a great day today.” Or “Sophie, you’re a good friend and today you have another chance to be a good friend to someone who needs it.” Our son needs to hear the encouragement that he is going to make wise choices today and will be a better person because of it. Speak life over your kids as they leave the comforts of their home. And on those really rough mornings when you don’t feel like saying anything encouraging at all remind them how much you love them – always and no matter what.

So here’s to the start of great new school year! May God grow your family as you spend time in his word, pray and speak life into your children.

Linking with KellyLauraJen, Jennifer, Barbie, Sharita, HolleyKristin and Mom2Mom

How I found myself in the middle of a live Frat party this week.

 

My sweet Christian friend who is sharing her story of redemption and freedom from drug addiction started sharing her story through a variety of social media platforms. One of which is Periscope. I wasn’t familiar with this app so I was playing around with it trying to figure out how to follow and watch her daily 2pm coffee chats. Well somehow – I swear I don’t know how – I found myself in the middle of a live virtual Frat party in which I was asked to show specific body parts!!!!!

Say what?!! You are kidding, right? No people. I am not kidding.

I could see the party going on live – close up – but they can only see a comment thread from everyone else who was watching or following. Clearly I just clicked on a random “live” event and had no clue what I was doing. I figured I was about to view a live Christian ladies event…. yeah but no.

I was so appalled that I gave the granny talkin’ to to this group of wild thangs and then got out of there fast and ran and told on them to my Christian speaker friend. I suppose my user name didn’t help much (@bowlofwedgies) and is giving me great pause and reconsideration at this point in my social media career. But seriously there is some crazy stuff out there with apps. You have to be so careful.  Christian speakers use Periscope so people can hear them speak live and I was under the impression that it was for Christian speakers but nooooooooo. It’s really not. In fact when my friend was speaking via Periscope I was outraged at some of the comments she received from random followers – called “trolls”. Her husband would block users that were being totally inappropriate or mean. But I love the fact that she is still speaking through Periscope because this is a great platform to be sharing Jesus. The opposition is great and we’re told we’ll be persecuted when sharing Truth. It shouldn’t scare us – we should approach it with caution and with great boldness.

So friends, if you’ve never been to a frat party you’re not missing anything. I know this because I found myself in the middle of one for about one minute and one minute too long! It’s not worth it. And to my teenage and college friends who feel that virtual attendance to such parties is not the same thing – you’re wrong sweet people. It is the same thing. Guard yourself online. Set up boundaries. This world has no concern for your personal integrity or purity. It will be the Holy Spirit who helps you in this area so depend on him heavily.