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.

 

 

 

God uses other people to speak truth into our kids lives – foster it!

I love for our kids to have other godly people to pour into their lives besides me and Randy. Of course our parenting relationship is key in teaching and training our kids. But I also think our kids need to hear some of those same messages from other people. It adds another layer of truth from a different voice and I think that’s healthy. This is why Sunday School and Youth Group are so important. But even beyond that – mentoring, discipleship or even just divine random words of encouragement and speaking truth.

That’s why when I heard an incredible story from a friend of ours about sharing her faith with her physical therapist I just had to have my kids hear it too. My friend, Cathy, came over to share what all God did (amazing story!!! will share here later) and as we got started I asked her if it was okay for Mitchell and Sophie to sit in and listen. She agreed and both kids were wrapped into the story as much as I was.

The one thing I’d worked with the kids on this summer was learning the Romans Road verses that tell us of our problem and need for Jesus – the solution and answer to our greatest issue.  Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10 are all short scriptures that sum up salvation. To me this is an incredible tool to have in our pockets as believers. I want my kids to know how to lead someone to Christ and be able to show them from scripture. I printed the verses on strips of paper and we worked on putting them in order, playing “sparkle” a game that helps them memorize, role played and did some other things to help get these verses into their minds.

We can help our kids memorize and get stuff in their minds all day long but only the Holy Spirit can get his stuff in their hearts. So I feel like the day Cathy came to visit us was a day the Holy Spirit used to do just that – reach their hearts. We didn’t rehearse Bible verses and order of verses that day. Instead they got to hear how the Holy Spirit led Cathy to tell a nonbeliever about Jesus. It was hearing how this stuff works in real life – on the streets – at work – at play. A connection was made and we’re still talking about it in our family. Cathy actually just shared this with our church yesterday morning which was pretty cool.

So I’m going to keep praying that God puts godly influences in my children’s lives because they need to hear the voice of truth from multiple sources – not just their Mom and Dad. But hey – if we were the only ones speaking truth into their lives it would be okay. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel like you have an incredibly great support system around your children. Pray for God to raise up people in your child’s life that will speak godly truth into them.

Father, I pray for our kids today and that you would raise up other godly influences in their life to add echos of the same truth we are trying to instill in them. Reach their hearts with your love. Open their eyes to more of you and let them follow you all the days of their lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Anti-Bullying Conversations at Home

Bullying is a serious thing no matter what type of environment our kids are in – homeschool, Christian school, public school. If they live in this world and you let them out of the house they will experience bullying in some fashion – either personally or around them. It’s not always easy to know what to do in those situations. It will help our kids to have thought through and talked through what they can do when a bullying situation arises.

This tragic story broke my heart and led me to have a serious and specific conversation with our kids about what types of videos are appropriate to take and what’s not.

I love how Dateline is addressing the bullying issue by educating both parents and kids on what it looks like to bully and how to effectively address bullying. I showed this video to our kids and they really liked seeing what other kids did in a bullying situation. Watch for the Dad’s response to his daughter. It is priceless. I almost cried when I saw it. Loved it so much.

It’s a few weeks until school starts but we’re starting the conversation on bullying now, watching some videos, hearing real stories of the effects of bullying and talking about how to distract a bully and support others who are being bullied.

Are there other good resources out there for our kids to know about when it comes to bullying? Please share.

Linking with Laura today.

 

Helping our kids navigate social media

Our teenage son is wanting to have his own Youtube account so he can upload videos. He has no other personal social media outlet at this point because I’m a nazi Mom when it comes to protecting my kids online. I’ve seen too many families and kids hurt by the crap that’s out there. Addictions started by accidentally discovering porn and major self image issues because of bullying and cruelty online. However I do think social media can be a great way to express oneself and to point others to Christ if done appropriately. And let’s face it, it’s the world our kids live in. We can’t keep the from it forever. But we can guide them through it and set some healthy boundaries.

We use a screening service called “Net Nanny” for all our digital devices in our household. We love it. So through Net Nanny you pull up safari and it blocks out based on your settings (low, moderate, heavy) junk that’s out there. You can also monitor your child’s Facebook account through this service as well.

So here’s some basic guidelines that we are working through with our kids before they have any kind of an account where they’ll be taking and uploading photos & videos.

1) Post to God’s glory – doesn’t mean everything you post has to be about God but be sure He’ll be happy with what you’re posting.

2) No taking pics/videos or uploading pics/videos of yourself or others in inappropriate ways:   *no bathroom shots *no undies pics *no private part pics  (you’d just might be surprised at how this needs to be communicated even among Christian kids. Sexting somehow seems totally okay in the minds of many kids.)

3) Never post personal identifying information like your full name, address, age.

4) Don’t use bad language.

5) Don’t cut other people down.

6) Don’t post to brag or build yourself up.

7) Limit the selfies. 

8) Be helpful to others in your posts.

9) Don’t lie in your posts.

10) Try to point to God in creative ways in your posts.

11) Nevah evah link “likes, thumbs ups and comments” to your worth and identity. “Likes” don’t determine anything about value so don’t look to the number of likes to affirm who you are or what you’re posting about.

12) This world can be cruel and at some point you will get negative or mean comments – determine now that you will not let that crush you. See #11.

13) Remember that God’s view and the world’s view will always collide on this earth. Be a light and represent God’s view whenever posting on social media. Constantly ask yourself, “Is what I’m looking at and what I’m posting representing God’s view or the world’s view?”

What else would you add to the conversation with our kids on uploading to social media? 

Linking with JJennifer, Holley and Kristin today because I like these chicks.

 

4 ways to help your kids have summer devotions

Oh how fast the Summer can fly when you’re swimming, camping and vacationing! And it’s so easy to let our time in God’s word be neglected. How much harder for our kids to keep their time in the Word if they’re not being encouraged by their parents. So here’s just a few thoughts on how parents can help their kids cultivate their walk with God.

1) Make devotions a part of your kids daily routine. Put it on the chore chart or however you communicate daily household responsibilities. This is a personal area of growth and maturity that can become just as regular as brushing teeth and taking a shower. Don’t feel bad about making a scheduled time for reading God’s Word as part of your child’s day. Some people resist “making” their teen go to church or their child read the Bible for fear it will turn them away if they don’t desire to do it in the first place. But consider the fact that we are called to train and disciple our children in the truths of God’s Word. And like any trainer will tell you there will be times when our trainees do not want to do what we ask them to do. It doesn’t mean you give in to their desires. You do what you know is best for them at that time for a greater purpose while praying God shapes their heart in a way that can only be shaped in communion with Him.

2) Show them how to have personal time in God’s word by doing it with them the first few times. Find a great devotional book for kids such as:

The adventures of Average Boy Devotional Book or Jesus Calling for kids (not letting me link for some weird reason). Both are excellent books. Average Boy Devotional book is hilarious and great for boys ages 8-14. Jesus Calling is great for younger ages as well.

Get a fun snazzy journal for them to record what they learned from the daily devotional as well as write any prayer requests.

3) Make it simple. No need to get all preachy and long winded. Let God’s Word speak for itself and the Holy Spirit speak through your kids. And then talk about it together. Pray and then end for St. Pete’s sake. If we turn this into a day of church at home you just might lose them.

Eventually our kids can do this on their own and that’s what we want for them….to become independent in their God-dependance.

Right now our son has more independence in his devotional time than our daughter. He’s 14 and she’s 8 so that makes sense. Mitchell takes his own time and uses his iPod to look up verses and answer short questions after each chapter in his Average Boy Devotional book. Sophie reads on her own and records in her journal but then she checks back in with me and shares with me what she has learned from her time with the Lord. I love this part of our relationship. Mitchell and I touch base a few times a week and talk about what he’s learning. It’s been really awesome to see them transition to time with God with me to time with God themselves. There is no greater joy than to know your children are walking with the Lord. And this is one way we can help our kids walk with the Lord.

4) Watch for the fruit of God’s word and reference it. What good is reading God’s word without putting it into practice? So when you see your child putting what they learned into practice or you see evidence of the truths they learned in their devotional time be oh so quick to point it out to them. Recalling where God is at work will help them watch for God sightings on their own.

Have you found some good kids’ devotionals lately? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

 

 

 

Secret Keeper Girls was a BLAST!

We had the best time at the Secret Keeper Girl Crazy Hair Tour last Saturday! Mom’s of tweens, (ages 8-12) if you ever have a chance to attend this conference with your girl I promise you it will be an awesome time together with your girl. FUN, Spirit-led, Biblical truths that you want your girl hearing from other people than just you….and so much more. Awesome event. Only $15 and so worth it. Get your girls friends and their Moms to go with you too. It’s this good people. Really, it is.

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Sophie and I are going to be working through this book together on Saturday mornings at McDonald’s. I also have two others that we’ll be going through in the future together. There are some really good materials through Secret Keeper Girl that hit important topics with directness and from a strong Biblical foundation.

 

 

 

50 Shades of Grey okay “as long as…”

I wasn’t going to go there because it seems like the entire world is but I finally gave it up and decided to say a few words about 50 Shades of Grey. I’ve read enough articles and comments from Christian men and women defending 50 Shades that I had to speak out on my own tiny platform.

I know many people are disgusted by 50 Shades and there are articles declaring why it’s so wrong and all that. I get that. But there is also a side being presented that says it’s okay “as long as …”

And it smacks all to well of the little situation in the Garden of Eden when a slippery little snake in the garden rationalized the very thing God warned against. God set up boundaries to protect Adam and Eve but Satan, in the form of a serpent, lied and said the opposite. He said that doing what God said not to do would actually help them. They listened and they ate from the tree God forbade. And that is where our struggle with sin began. And we will fight it until the day we die. Or we won’t fight it and we’ll believe the lies that rationalize our sin. Lies that if acted on will always have devastating  consequences.

I admit I’ve only relied on summaries and movie reviews to know what the book and movie 50 Shades of Grey contains. One survey showed that 92% of people agree that 50 Shades is pornographic. I think we’re safe to say that most people are not trying to say it’s a clean movie. Even actress Dakota Johnson playing Anastasia Steele (main character in the movie) admitted in an interview that she hoped her childhood friends wouldn’t see the movie. And then she laughed it off saying she was kidding. But you could hear the underlying shame masked in flippancy.

What some Christians are saying is that it’s okay to watch 50 Shades of Grey and other sexually explicit movies involving nudity “as long as…”

*You only envision your husband/your wife. Fantasy is okay as long as you replace yourselves in the scene.

*It’s okay to watch and read about steamy sexual scenes as long as you know it’s wrong outside the context of marriage and covenant in your heart to not have sex outside of marriage.

*It’s okay to watch 50 Shades and other pornographic material as long as it will enhance your own love life with your husband.

*It’s probably not the greatest idea to watch the movie but as long as it will help get the spark back in our love life then we’ll just go out of town and watch it and not tell anyone. We know it will help us and that’s all matters.

I’m concerned about the excusing of sexual sin among the Christian community. Lust is a sin and we cannot watch or read about nudity and sex without it taking us to a place we don’t belong in our hearts. God created us with a sexual desire and in it’s proper place it is an amazing and beautiful union between two people in a covenant relationship. God designed it and He blesses it. And even if your marriage is going through a season where your sex life needs to be spiced up – watching porn together is not the right way to get there. It violates God’s boundaries of protection for us. There will be many voices out in our world rationalizing this type of entertainment and “therapy” for us but we will do our marriages well to stay far from it.

Instead, how about a Christ-centered approach to spicing things up in our marriages. A few resources that might be helpful:

A Celebration of Sex by Douglas E. Rosenau.

Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat, MD and Gaye Wheat

Crazy Good Sex  by Dr. Les. Parrot

 

Happy Birthday Son – Here’s some Porn!

If you are a parent and you are not proactively protecting your child from what they have access to on their phones, iPods, iPads and computers then chances are your kids have been or are being exposed to soft or hard core porn.

It’s not necessarily because kids are looking for it although kids are curious. Today instead of having to look through a dictionary for dirty words they can google them and see lots of pictures along with the definition. I think many times exposure to porn starts as an accidental occurrences of pop up porn and then curiosity follows.

I’ve talked with many Christian parents and grandparents in the last year whose kids have been exposed to extremely graphic hard core porn – videos on youtube. Pictures on google. They were devastated to find such explicit material and to know their kids had been exposed to that.

This stuff is in the palms of our children and it’s only one click away. And while training our children to have a heart that loves and follows God is what will ultimately keep ourselves and our kids away from this junk we hardly have time to get through the training process without them being exposed to it so early.

That’s why I believe it’s imperative to have safeguards in place. There are a lot of ways to do that. We have found http://iparent.tv to be extremely helpful. They offer filters and guidelines for parents. In just a few minutes you can find out how Snapchat, Badoo, Instagram and other popular social media sites work. I bought the app for my phone because I want to know what’s out there and what kids are into these days. I’m not a social media expert but these people are and they know parents don’t have a lot of time to go research this stuff out so they have done it for us! It’s awesome. So worth the time in snooping around their site.

Don’t have the money to purchase a filter? No problem. There are good ole fashion, free ways like simply saying, “No” to your 4th grader who is begging for an iPhone with Youtube on it. Or maybe you feel your child is old enough for a phone but you don’t want access to the internet – simple, don’t install it. You have the power to take off those apps. Surely there will be push back on your kids end but it’s time to step up and be the parent in this area.

I hear over and over an attitude from parents that they have no choice in the matter when it comes to their kids devices. They feel powerless. Like it’s a domain that can’t be touched because it’s so personal and because they don’t understand how some of the apps work.

Two things to remember here:

1) Get educated. Use sites like the one I’m recommending (no kickbacks for me on this – I just believe in it) Go to a phone store of the Apple store and have a conversation to find out the questions you have about your child’s phone.

2) Remember this: Your child doesn’t have a right to privacy. I know that’s what you hear them say. But until your child turns 18 and doesn’t live under your roof they have NO right to privacy. Feel no guilt over this. It’s the way it should be. Yes, even if they are a teen and paying their own cell phone bill they have no privacy.

I believe with age should come more freedom and so while accountability is still in place – whether it’s a filter or a tracking app or you checking their phone – you can still grant more freedom and space with age so they can learn to navigate through mistakes and actually have the chance to exercise discipline in the area of guarding their eyes.

I feel very passionate about this stuff because I’ve talked to way too many people with kids my age and younger who have been exposed to such graphic sites. There are such deep consequences to this stuff and I don’t want to see a culture hindered from God’s work because of an addiction that led to failed relationships all because of a little 4×5 wide open device parents handed over with such excitement.

May God give us wisdom in training our kids in a culture that is rushing them into sexual perversion and immorality. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Let’s hang on to that and know that our God is more powerful than the images satan is trying to throw in our faces.

Linking with Kristin, Jennifer and Holley today.

When naughty lyrics provide teachable moments

Sophie and I were absolutely thrilled about our free tickets to the Figure Skating Competition Finale Night. A lady in our church asked if we wanted them on Sunday morning.

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Neither one of us had ever been to a Figuring Skating performance of any kind so we were both super excited. Randy was preaching Sunday night and Mitchell was at Youth Group so it was just me and Sophie driving to the “big downtown” all by ourselves. I was all proud of myself for making it to the coliseum at night and finding free parking…. granted it was in a scary, dark alley. It’s okay, I practiced my karate moves in case I needed to use them. I also have a back up safety tactic that’s incredibly weird but who knows how many times it’s saved my life. Okay, so I sometimes pull out my cell phone and have an out loud conversation to my “pretend policeman husband”. It goes like this, (*in really loud voice) “Really?!!!! So did you have to use your stun gun or your real gun on the criminal? Oh dear I hope he’ll be okay. Well I see your POLICE CAR now so so I’ll just get off the phone and talk to you in person since you’re right over there with all your weapons ready to protect anyone in danger.” This way if there are any creepers in the dark alley they’ll be scared off. I couldn’t use that tactic though because Sophie would’ve ratted me out. She’d be all, “Mom! Who are you talking to? Dad’s at church. I don’t see a police car anywhere in sight!!!! We’re the only people around right now.” I didn’t use that plan. And you know we were just fine as we sprinted to the coliseum hand in hand.

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Sophie hooted and hollered (yes, from the South we are.) for each awesome move the skaters made. She followed the program closely to know who was skating next. Oh we clapped and yelled and delighted in each spectacular move these skaters made. At one point Sophie turned to me and said, “Mom, that skater is so in the moment.” The people in front of us laughed at her running commentary.

I have to admit that a few songs made me cringe and I hoped Sophie wasn’t paying much attention to the words. The words about taking your coat and dress off but leaving your hat on while skater girl is flinging off her coat and throwing herself on her skating partner in a seductive way. I’m still hopeful Sophie might be looking at the people around her by some odd chance. But no. She whipped that head of hers around and her eyes got as big as saucers and she said to me, “I am not clapping for her.” I know it’s not funny but ya’ll I could hardly keep myself from laughing. A few other lines caught her attention and she did the bug eyed thing and withheld her clappage.

Part of me was glad she noticed and picked up on some of these things and was offended. But then part of me was trying to figure out how to help her process it in such a way that she doesn’t come out being judgmental and feeling above that. She’s eight. So things are pretty black and white at her age. We’re laying ground work for modesty and purity even at this age. So when she sees or hears something that flies in the face of what we are training in it stands out like a sore thumb. But we want to see through grace filled eyes – not condemning eyes. A heart that is sensitive to impurity and a desire to be holy out of a love for the One who gave his life for us. Still learning and growing in these things.

It was a fabulous night filled with adventure, fun and even teachable moments.

Oh, and did I mention we had chocolate dip’n dots? Yep.

 

 

Drama about the real Santa

It’s about that elf thing and Santa Claus. Don’t get me wrong. I love Santa and elves. Fun, magical…..all that. However we do tell our kids eventually that Santa is not real. Sorry, but we do. Not trying to be a kill joy or anything. The first few years we get into it with them and leave cookies for Santa, etc. But soon enough they start asking questions and we answer those questions with the truth which ultimately rats out Santa. We still play along with a *wink-wink* just for the fun of it and we encourage them not to tell their friends because some parents wish to play along without the *wink-wink* and we will respect that.

Apparently this year there are a lot of “Elf on the Shelfs” represented in our eight year old’s class. We have one too. It’s a generic stuffed elf that our kids gave a hispanic twist to by naming it “El-Fano”. Our elf went through a very short lived phase of making messes with flour, hiding in places, leaving notes and candy. Sophie loved every second of it. But quickly our realist eight year old was on to the fact that I was involved with El-Fano’s actions and she rolled her eyes and figured she was too big to believe in that stuff. I was glad I could quit the elfin antics because really it was a pain in the butt.

Fast forward to an Awana Christmas party two years ago where Santa came and Sophie quickly spotted it was a parent leader in the Awana program…..and wanted nothing to do with sitting on fake Santa’s lap. Flat out refused. I encouraged her to participate and be a part of things and so she did on the outside. But on the inside?….oh that girl was so not sitting on Santa’s lap.

All this to say I was utterly confused last night as I tucked Miss Skeptical in bed and she starts bawling and saying, “Why can’t ya’ll t be like other parents and tell me that Santa is real and that his elves are real. I had to lie to my friend yesterday at school because she said you aren’t allowed to touch your elf but I told her that El-fano said I could touch him and that was a lieeeeeee because he really didn’t tell me that because he’s not reaaaaaallll” – tears streaming down her face.

I was at a loss as to what to say. She kept begging me to tell her that Santa was real. So I said, “Okay, I can tell you he’s real. He’s real, Sophie. Santa is this real man that is ten times bigger than the average household chimney but somehow he squeezes his red fat hiney down it and he leaves presents. And then he gets in his sleigh with reindeers that have magical wings, although no other reindeers have that power, and off he flies through the sky leaving presents for all the children in the world. And his elves help him.” I sort of felt like throwing up after that consider how it all just fell out of my mouth with such cynicism.

She starts laughing hysterically. And then she says, “But who eats the cookies that we leave by the fireplace?” I said, “Dad.” She said, “But how?” I took a pretend bite into my pretend cookie. She said, “No, I mean ya’ll always go to bed when we go to bed on Christmas Eve.” I whispered that we sneak back down and take a bite out of them. She gasped and said, ” You mean we make those cookies for nothing?!!! I am NOT making cookies this year!” And then she laughed again as if she was let into a special secret. We prayed and in our prayer we remembered that Jesus is real. He performs miracles that are amazing and he’s the only one that can do that. And it’s awesome to worship such an amazing Savior at Christmas.

Merry Christmas folks! I hope Santa’s good to you – *wink-wink.

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