Dear Daughter

By Shari Miller

Dear Daughter,

A chapter of your life has closed and a new one begins as you stand at the threshold of adulthood, ready to take your first steps into the unknown. As you embark on the journey of  going to college, I have so many wishes for you….wishes of hope, success and of all your dreams coming true.

Dear Daughter

Beginnings can be so exciting and at the same time so very hard. Life is full of twists and turns,  joy filled surprises can happen right along with unexpected sorrows, knowing how to handle both is so important.

As your journey begins I want you to remember 6 important things.

1. Put God first -In all that you do, take it to God in prayer first and seek His Word for answers. Let Him be the one that guides you in the decisions you make. Don’t be swayed by the world or by the standards of your friends. God’s standards are the only ones that you need to follow.

 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”– Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

2. Praise Him– Through good and bad alike you need to praise Him. He deserves the glory for all the blessings He has given you. Even when the blessings seem far away and you can’t feel  His presence, praise Him anyway. Take your eyes of your sorrows and onto the everyday things you have to be thankful for, praise Him for these things. When you do, you’ll see your mind and attitude shift, you’ll feel your spirit lifted as you’re reminded that He indeed is God, and He is in control.

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” – 1 Chronicles 16:8 (NIV)

3. Give it your all– Whatever you do in life give it a 100%. Don’t short change yourself or others. I am not saying you need to be perfect, no one is perfect. However, it’s so much better to look back on life knowing you gave it your all instead of asking the question, “What if?”.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

4. Expect the unexpected- Life doesn’t always go as planned. Learn to adapt. Learn to roll with the punches and be ok with this. If you prepare you mind and heart a head of time, through reading God’s word and through prayer, you’ll be able to take some of the worry and stress out of your life when the unexpected comes your way.

5. Allow God’s dreams to become your dreams– When God’s plans for your life, stray off course from where you thought you were going, be adaptable. Don’t argue with God over your life not turning our how you had planned. Let His plan for your life become your plan. Remember that the safest place you can be is at the center of God’s will.

” For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

6. Remember that I love you and I will always be here for you. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader, the shoulder you need to cry on, the one who wants to know about the first job you were offered, and to hear about  the boy who stole your heart. I will be here through the good times and bad. Forever and always my precious daughter, I will love you unconditionally with a love that you can not imagine until one day you have a daughter of your own.

With Much Love-

Your Mama

When Just a Little is Already Too Much

By Erin Bishop

(Originally posted at Choose NOW)

When I want to go swimming at the lake I don’t normally dive right in, unless it’s really hot outside. At our lake, the water normally feels like ice water until late July or August.

Usually I sit on the end of our dock and dip just a little of my foot in at a time so I can get used to the water. Eventually both my feet make their way in, and before long my feet to my knees are submerged.

Just a little

After awhile, I get up the nerve to dive in, and the rest of my body gets used to the water and I’m swimming in it.

When I was a little girl, I spent hours each day swimming in the lake. I only came out of the lake for bathroom breaks and mealtimes.  (Even then, my parents would have to call me to dinner several times before I begrudgingly got out.) I’d lay on top of an air mattress with goggles and explore the underwater world.  It was magnificent. When I got braver, I’d leave my air mattress on the beach and swim underwater with my goggles, snorkel and fins. A few times I even swam under our dock where it was a dark and unknown world of its own.

Giving into peer pressure and making bad decisions is kind of like dipping your toe into the water. You start slow, get used to it, and then you’re swimming in it.

It’s only eyeliner, just this once. The store won’t miss it. Trust me on this one; it’s never “just” once. When I was a teen, my friends pressured me into stealing to prove I wasn’t a chicken, and the pressure never let up and I got in big trouble more than once.

It’s just one beer, I can’t get addicted.  There’s a reason there’s an organization called Alcoholics Anonymous.

It’s just one cigarette. One cigarette leads to another, which leads to another, and pretty soon you know where to buy cigarettes without getting carded. Take it from me…it’s HARD to quit smoking.

It’s just one kiss. It’s just one touch under my clothes. It’s my boyfriend, it’s ok.

Those whispers of justification? The one who tells you just a little is no big deal?

That is the voice of the Enemy. Satan. The Devil. The Father of lies.

The one who wants to confuse you into missing out on God’s perfect plan for your life.

If just a little was really no big deal, bookstores everywhere would suddenly have plenty of space where the self-help books used to be.

If just a little was really no big deal, millions of people wouldn’t be in therapy or addiction recovery programs.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…

In contrast:

…I (Jesus) come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Are you letting just a little of something that you need to let go of creep into your life? It’s never too late.

Have you heard about Whatever Girls Live? Click the below Whatever Girls Live picture for more details!

Beyond Facebook and Twitter: Social media hangouts your teen knows about but maybe you don’t

By Jen Ferguson

This research I’m doing about the social media that is out there for our teens is making me queasy.  It’s ranking up there close to when I did some legwork about our children and the possibility of their exposure to pornography.  (The sad fact is that some of these social media outlets can bring exposure to porn.)

Apps and websites such as Kik, Snapchat, and teen dating sites such as MyLOL, are filled with both innocence and harm.  And it’s possible that someone who starts with innocent intentions can land smack dab in the middle of a treacherous danger zone.

Some of our teens who are using these forms of social media are able to use them without sending and/or receiving inappropriate pictures or meeting older men or engaging in inappropriate conversations.  Some of them who find themselves in dangerous situations are equipped to handle themselves appropriately.  They know how to get out and get away.

But some of our teens only *think* they know (or they really don’t know at all) , but before we know it, there is a messy situation at hand.

WG Know

And so, we need to be in the know.  And our teens need to know why we need to know.  Confused much, yet?

Here’s the point: We need to understand the traps of social media even better than (or at least before) our children do.  And as best as they can, our children need to at least learn to respect why we are so interested in their online endeavors.

Before we delve into the pros and cons of some of the social media out there that teens (and some tweens) use regularly, let’s think about how we (living, breathing, real parents) are communicating (actually speaking words) with our kids about the Internet and all these apps.

Sometimes, as parents, we are guilty for assuming that our kids know things.  For example, the other day, my 9 year-old wanted to ride her bike “just around the block.”  She had heard the term, but didn’t know the very specific meaning of those boundaries.  I assumed she did.  Little did I realize, in her mind, around the block meant “around the neighborhood.”  Let me tell you, the short five minutes she should have been gone turned into an agonizing fifteen as I searched the streets for her.

Do you assume your kids know the general rules and landscape of the Internet?  But here is the thing: Even if they do know, they still need to hear it from you that these safety precautions are important to YOU and are not to be easily disregarded.

Let’s think for a moment about delivery: I don’t have a teen yet, however, I spent many years working with our church youth group and I have lots of friends who do have teenagers.  It’s a pretty well-known fact that teens don’t like to feel controlled, yes?  The truth is, you probably don’t like to feel controlled, either.  This conversations about the dangers and traps in social media isn’t about establishing control of your children.  It’s about establishing conversations and helping your child understand that you want to help them navigate these social media waters.

Honestly, I think it’s a super tricky situation.  In my mind, I want to build a fortress around my girls so that no harm will ever come to them. I want to set boundaries and expectations and have consequences when they are crossed or unfulfilled.  But at the same time, I also know if I come across as a military dictator, I’m just asking for a major mutiny.

Before we go into the specific research about these social media apps, let’s start talking with our children.  Let’s ask them questions about what they’ve already gathered from being out in that world.  What questions do they have?  Need some starters?  What about these:

  • What have you heard about Snapchat, Kik, etc?
  • Have you used it?  Have your friends used it?
  • What do you like about it?  Is there anything you don’t like?
  • Do you think someone might ever pretend to be something/someone they aren’t? How would that change your view of them? Of the app? Of social media?
  • Has anything ever happened through one of these apps that made your stomach queasy?
  • Sometimes I get scared about the bad things that can happen out there.  Can we have a conversation about some boundaries that will keep our family safer?

After this last question, it might be a good time to come up with a type of covenant to which everyone in the family can agree (this means moms and dads, too!).  Here is a great sample one, but I think it might be really beneficial for everyone to pitch in to create one unique to your family.  This way, it doesn’t seem like rules handed down from on high, but rather a collective, collaborative, interactive process where everyone participates on a meaningful level.

Come back next month and we will begin decoding some of these social media outlets.  If you have a particular one not mentioned above that you’d like more information about, please let me know in the comments.

original image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonahowie/7910370882/ (edits made by Jen)

 

Have you heard about Whatever Girls Live? Click the below Whatever Girls Live picture for more details!

What to Do With a Lying Heart

By Lynn Cowell

Hearts are liars. I know because my heart lies to me. It lied to me when I was trying to find a publisher for my first book. Nineteen times I heard, “No one is going to publish you. You’re not good enough.” At first, I cried and agreed, “It’s true!” After a while, I got smarter! As my friend, Renee Swope says, I started bossing my heart around. I ran to Jesus with these disappointments. Some days, it was easy. I felt strong and said confidently, “I’m trusting Jesus to figure this thing out!” Other days, I wanted to crawl under my sheets and stay in bed! It was a constant battle not to listen to the cruel voices. I had to get bossier on those days.

I bet you have a lying heart too; telling you things that aren’t true.

“Your parents are disappointed in you; you can’t ever please them!”

“You could never get into a college like that; it’s only for smart kids.”

“Your art work isn’t that beautiful.”

Our hearts see things as they aren’t. They lie, telling us how to feel when we shouldn’t feel that way at all!

There’s a guy in the Bible who let us see his lying heart. In fact, David appears to be having issues with a split personality; he’s talking to himself!

“My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” he says in Psalm 27:8. Then David turns around and answers himself! “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

David doesn’t like what is going on, yet he’s trying to get past it to pursue God. He’s bossy his lying heart around.

To become a radical girl, you’ve got to take control of your heart too! This isn’t for the weak. This isn’t for the girl who is just living for today and doesn’t care about tomorrow. But you’re not that girl, anyway!

What do you need to tell your lying heart today? Grab a pen and some paper and boss your heart around!

Have you heard about Whatever Girls Live? Click the below Whatever Girls Live picture for more details!

Disfigured Beauty

By Nancy Bentz
Wellspring of Lifewww.nancybentz.wordpress.com

Lame feet and a crooked mouth. These were the disfigurements by which she judged herself. She believed that is how everyone else viewed her too, including the Shepherd. In her estimation, there was nothing beautiful about her. What hope was there for her condition?

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If you have read Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, you will recognize our friend, Much-Afraid. If you have not, there is no other book that I recommend as highly when I am privileged to listen to a woman’s story. If I hear certain shame-based remarks and sense there is a Much-Afraid hiding inside, I suggest they pick up a copy. It is a little volume God used to help transform my thinking, perspective, perceptions, and most of all, apply His truth to my heart. The pages are laden with healing balm for those who believe there is something wrong with me: the definition of shame.

***

Author and researcher Brené Brown mentions three things that are necessary for shame to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. I cannot agree more. I didn’t have to research it; I lived it.

When caught in the grip of shame, the last thing one wants to do is become vulnerable. Be exposed? Are you kidding? Shame is like a cloak used to cover up what we want to hide – forgetting or ignoring that God knows all about us anyway. Furthermore, sometimes it’s not God we’re worried about. It’s everyone else we can actually see. So the temptation is to pull the cloak of secrecy just a little bit tighter.

Secrecy at least keeps shame internalized. Doesn’t it?

It doesn’t? Alrighty then. If others actually do notice what we’re trying so hard to hide, we’ll try the silence route. We just won’t talk about it. Ever. Maybe we’ll eventually forget about it. To which I say, fat chance.

To open one’s mouth and name the shame to a real ‘flesh and blood’ person is a no-win proposition. Isn’t it? Shame woven with fear and anxiety makes it difficult to take the step of breaking the silence. But it is not impossible, for with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26b NIV) Even naming the shame…

Though our internal belief system may tell us there is no one who is safe or will understand or will actually hear our wounded heart, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother to us. (Proverbs 18:24 NIV) First and foremost, Jesus. Sometimes He delights in using a flesh and blood ‘search and rescue’ team (parents, pastors, counselors, teachers, small group…) with his Holy Spirit leading the operation. Sometimes, a one-on-one with a close, trusted friend. There are options. The Shepherd never leaves His sheep trapped and defenseless.

However, there’s that awful third point of judgment. It’s like we were born with a gavel in our hand!

Wait. We were.

When shame was activated in that forbidden-fruit eating day of Adam and Eve, roots took hold.

There are good roots and not so good roots. From the good roots we drink in life. From the not so good roots we drink in death. There’s a biblical term for these not so good roots; they’re called bitter roots.

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV)

Yet, that is precisely what happened, happens, and will happen…until we take the first step and decide we do not want to live this way anymore. Grace is an outstretched hand away.

The Bible has a lot to say about judgment. We know this, but we find ourselves slamming down that gavel all too often. Worse, we can’t even say why!

Like Much-Afraid discovers in Hinds’ Feet, there is hope; there are answers. Join me next month when we’ll dig deeper into bitter root judgments born of shame.

Underneath all the tangled roots, there is beauty on the other side of the secrecy, silence, and judgment.

Gracefully, Nanc

Point to ponder: Which of the three is your default ‘disfigurement’? Secrecy, silence, or judgment?

 

www.nancybentz.wordpress.com

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