By Nicole O’Dell
Happy New Year’s, Whatever Girls!
Thanks, Erin, for letting me pop back in to your awesome home to celebrate the new year with you!
Are you parenting a teen or almost to that stage and want to prepare? Or perhaps you know a parent of teens. Or maybe you’re just curious about crowdfunding campaigns… If any of that applies to you, then this party is for you!
Who am I?
First is the official bio. Don’t worry, it won’t last long and at the bottom of this post you’ll find a giveaway and a special NYE opportunity…
Nicole O’Dell is the founder of Choose NOW Ministries, bringing a message of hope for today’s families through daily articles, weekly radio shows, and the printed word. A mother of six herself, she has authored 23 books for parents and teens, both fiction and nonfiction, all with the goal of helping the reader make good choices NOW.
I do have six kids. Three of them are my five-year-old triplets who are so much fun and so thankfully NOT three anymore. I also have two teenage girls who love Jesus and me (YAY!), and I’m so very proud of my son, Erik, who is serving in the USAF. I’m also married to an artsy, musician, worship leader guy who can draw portraits that would blow your mind!
Because of my own turbulent teen years and the fallout that imploded my relationship with my parents, I have a passion for the parent-teen relationship. In my family, it all started with my first act of rebellion: I snuck out of my house to go see an Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith concert! Horrors! BUT, I’d had my first taste of independent choice and giving into temptation… it all went downhill from there.
Here’s a bit more about my story and about Powerline365:
Powerline365, Nicole O’Dell, Choose NOW Ministries
And as we start a new year, it’s more important than ever to prepare for victory!
So, I, along with my team at Choose NOW Publishing, have just launched an incredible set of resources for parents that meets them right in the heart of their need.
Plugging Parents of Teens into the Source
Powerline365 is a high-voltage, multi-format daily devotional to help parents raise Christian teens without losing connection.
Tap into the power you need to lead your teens into a vibrant personal relationship with Jesus. Many teens, even those from Christian homes, fail to connect with Him on a personal level. They forge on alone, searching for identity as the enemy pelts them with temptations and doubts. As parents, we’re left reeling, wondering where we went wrong.
Powerline365 offers daily insight (in several formats) to ground you in truth as you plug into the Source. It’s time for you to power-parent from a place of confidence and surrender, believing God’s Word is true, and His promises will never go unfulfilled.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within [your teenager], will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)
What is crowdfunding and why are you doing it?
Crowdfunding is a great way to make products available to the public. Those who believe in a project and want to support the raising up of a godly generation of teens who would fund–or buy in–at various levels based on what they’d like to own or gift to someone else. We’re currently running an indiegogo campaign to fund this project. The best way for you to see how it works is to pop over to the campaign site and see what’s what. Just visit www.powerline365.com when you’re done here.
GIVEAWAY: And all who participate in the campaign and leave a comment here will be entered to win a Spark30 devotional subscription. We’ll give away one for every ten participants. This can also be gifted!
My heartfelt prayer is that you’ll find victory in your relationship with your teens as you lead them to good choices and a strong faith in Jesus.
Join us at Whatever Girls Live!
By Susan Norris
Do you have a Facebook page, Twitter account or Instagram? Social media has become as common a way to communicate with people as cellphones these days. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pretty easily. I’m even on Linkedin. I like to stay in touch with friends and family across the globe, as well as people I meet through my ministry.
Working to raise awareness of sex trafficking in America and walking life out with survivors has taught me the importance of being careful on social media. Too many times, people share far more than they realize on social media. I’m not only cautious about what I share on my pages, but I pay close attention to what my followers share. I’ve been known to send a private message to a teenage friend and strongly suggest the removal of a picture or a post.
I had one student post the following message on Facebook:
Hey! I’m home alone and bored. Someone call or text me.”
Then she proceeded to post her cellphone number. I nearly had a stroke. I couldn’t call her fast enough and tell her to take the post off of her wall immediately and go to a neighbor’s house until one of her parents came home. The only thing she didn’t give a trafficker was her street address, and trust me, it wouldn’t have been difficult to locate based on all of the information she’d previously shared on her wall.
You may think your posts are secure, but people you don’t know can gain access to your posts if they want to bad enough. It’s always open season on social media to predators. The trafficking industry is a 32 billion dollar a year industry. The estimated life expectancy of a victim caught in the trade is seven years; however, during that time she could generate up to seven million dollars for her captor. That’s incentive enough for a predator to find a way onto your social media page.
In Matthew 10:16 Jesus says,
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” [NIV]
So how do you do that? The same way a home owner does with regard to a burglar… you make yourself a difficult and risky target.
Here are five steps to help you:
- Don’t post pictures of yourself in swimsuits, revealing clothing, or suggestive poses on social media (this includes the pouty lips that are sometimes referred to as fish lips everyone loves). Traffickers are constantly looking for girls (and boys) to recruit by perusing pictures. In many cases, they will use a picture from social media for their advertisements on Backpage.com or other sites. This way, if taken into custody, they can honestly say they did not take the picture of the victim, weakening the authorities’ case against them.
- Only accept people as friends or followers on social media if you know them personally. Everyone likes being popular, even on the internet. Traffickers use this to their advantage. Many people will accept anyone as a friend or follower, even if they don’t know them. You cannot assume if they are a friend of a friend, they’re safe. Your safety is up to you. Be smart!
- Never post where you’re going on social media, only post where you’ve been. If you routinely go somewhere each week, like Thursday night dance class, don’t mention it. If someone manages to gain access to your page, you don’t want them to be able to track your every move by following your posts. If you post where you’re going, it’s like handing a trafficker a road map of how to find you.
- Be careful when posting photos and comments on social media from your smartphone. By doing so, you may be sharing your location without being aware of it. Contact your cellphone provider to determine how to turn this feature off on your phone.
- Don’t engage in conversations with people you don’t know on social media. Even if someone cannot gain access to your page, they can still send you a private message. Traffickers are very savvy and pull information out of people without them even realizing it. You won’t know the person is a trafficker until it’s too late. Don’t take the risk. Avoid responding and tell a trusted adult about the person trying to connect with you. They’ll be able to help navigate you to safety.
For more safety tips, visit my website.
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Do what you can to educate yourself on the issue and share what you know with others. You can make a difference. Raise your voice for hope.
Join us at Whatever Girls Live!
One night while visiting family in the Seattle area my mother-in-law offered to watch the kids so we could go out to dinner with my husbands brother and his wife. A night out, a nice dinner, good company and, a chance to wear pretty shoes put a smile on my face. We had the best dinner at the restaurant where my husband’s youngest brother worked.
My husband and his older brother thought it would be entertaining to program in their parents address and see if they could confuse the GPS. Frick and Frack are the names I choose to call them because of this goofy idea.
What us ladies thought would be a nice ride home became a series of twists and turns in neighborhoods that Frick and Frack had never been in and they are from the area. Recalculating, in so many feet take a U-turn, Left turn ahead, turn right, and dead end ahead began to block out the sound of the music as our GPS tried to navigate the way home.
With every turn I came one-step closer to loosing my amazing dinner as carsickness began to creep in. They spun the car this way and that way thinking they could get the GPS confused. My sister in law fell asleep and I worried with each left turn her head would hit the window. I kept asking the guys how much longer? I was not finding the same humor in this. I told them I hoped the GPS would say, “Listen to me dummies and do what I tell you!” I had to go to the bathroom, I was carsick and I was tired. Thankfully they eventually grew tired of choosing their own course, listened to the GPS and, we found our way to where we were going. What should have been a 15-20 min drive lasted over an hour.
Life can be a series of twist and turns, it is full of hills to climb, unknowns to navigate our way through and dead ends. Sometimes it seems like a guessing game when it comes to which path we should choose to go down. What may look good just might take us to a place we should have never been and we find ourselves throwing it into reverse and high tailing it out of there. Sometime we get so lost we are not even sure how to find our way back to where we started.
Gods word is a lamp to your feet and light for your path (Psalm 119:105 NIV). It is like the GPS of our lives. I listened to Richelle Opland speak to a group of young ladies at the “Whatever girls” meeting in November and she used this analogy of God’s word lighting our path. She said, “think of God’s word as a lantern and as you hold it up depending on how dark it is you may only have enough light to see one step at time but it guides you safely to where you need to go”.
No matter where we are in life at times we are faced with choice of which direction should I take? For you teens that are reading this, you are faced with often overwhelming choices about what direction your life is to go. Where should I go to school, what kind of carrier do I want, or how will I know who is the right person for me someday? Your teenage years are some the best years of your life but they can also be the hardest as you find yourself at cross roads not knowing which way to turn. One thing always remains the same when you are faced with which direction to go. God’s word will guide you every time. If I had known this as a teen my life would have been a much smoother ride. If you follow God’s word, the bible (God’s Positioning Satellite) and listen to the turn by turn directions of the Holy Spirit you won’t find yourself making a series of wrong turns as God tries to recalculate your direction and put you back on the right course.
Join us at Whatever Girls Live!
Today, everything went wrong. I’d been planning to go over to the neighbor’s house to swim laps, like I always do. But all afternoon their family monopolized the pool. I was so mad; they ruined my whole day.
To Teenage Me:
This habit of letting one obstacle stop you in your tracks will “ruin” many, many days, if you let it.
I totally understand your disappointment. Feeling bummed when you can’t do what you planned is normal.
Your tendency to cling to your plans, however, is keeping you from learning how to flex when necessary. You’re giving your expectations and your feelings of being “let down” far more power than they’re worth.
God has so much more in store!
Your Future Self
While I was making breakfast this morning, I heard fire engines and voices over loud speakers. Turned out, a fire was blazing out of control less than a mile away! It barely missed the homes of several friends! Mother was quite panicked for a while–so was I. Then I felt SO foolish about my great distress at not being able to swim when I wanted yesterday.
To Teenage Me:
Perspective is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?
I’m glad you responded to the Holy Spirit convicting you about your extreme upset over a missed swim. A tender conscience is a gift, as is willingness to learn.
Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit even as a foul mood is starting swell within you.
Even the biggest balloon of disappointment is quickly burst with contentment!
Your Future Self
Well, I was hoping to label this as “the Christmas of joy” But joy to the world–at least my world–happens only when I’m with my friends. And I won’t see them for another week!
To Teenage Me:
You are blessed with wonderful friends, that’s for sure! And when you’re around them, you often feel happiness.
Joy is waaaaay beyond mere happiness. Joy comes from a source that, unlike your friends, is always present. Emmanuel: God with you.
Take time this week to en-JOY the greatest gift you will ever receive!
Your Future Self
* * * * *
- What would you like to say to my “Teenage Me”?
- What would you say to your “Teenage Me”?
- Post a diary excerpt that shares what’s on your teenage heart!
Join us at Whatever Girls Live!
By Nancy Bentz
You’d think I had taken “If it ain’t broke, break it…” as my resolution for the last half of 2013!
While reaching for a long Christmas storage container overhead, I managed to knock off the shelf an old cardboard box. The stomach-dropping tinkling sound when it hit the floor reminded me that inside were the half-dozen tissue-nestled family Christmas mugs. Old mugs. Did I say toddler and childhood Christmas mugs? Thirtysome-year-old family Christmas mugs? Broken. Every single mug in the box.
Then while hanging a few specially chosen ornaments on our simplified version of a Christmas tree, I managed to miss the branch with the hook and one special ornament looked like the shattered image in the photo above. Except it was orange. With green leaves. A Georgia peach ornament, purchased as a special memento of our 35th anniversary trip to Savannah two years ago. I knew it was a sign when the tag indicated that the factory – believe it or not – is in Spokane, my hometown! Eagerly looking for the address to hopefully buy a replacement, I was met with the news that they aren’t open to the public and I should return to the retailer where I purchased it. Yeah, right. Savannah, GA…Spokane, WA. Not exactly in the next county.
Apparently I had finely honed my breakage skills by Christmastime since I had moved up to the special things that carried a lot of meaning.
But I didn’t start there…
Nosirreebob. I launched my case of the dropsies back in the summer by knocking my acrylic round-belly summer beverage pitcher out of its resting place. Hit the floor right on the handle. Now you see it. Now you see it busted off. I was not happy…
Add to the list a chip out of one of my Polish pottery plates and a piece of irreplaceable stemware with a nice long crack. I’m still using the plate, but the city landfill has my cherished mugs and Arby’s goblet. (For those of you who collected Arby’s Christmas stemware back in the day, you understand! Can’t get another one).
All those incidents reminded me of why I do not make New Year’s resolutions!
No doubt we weren’t seven days into 2014 before the tinkling sound of broken resolutions filled the air like Christmas carols did just three weeks earlier.
So am I saying that I, nor anyone else, should bother making a promise to better themselves? Heck, no. That’s a necessary part of stretching and growing, learning and wising up.
Will we fall short? Or outright bust some of those sincerely declared pledges? Does Nancy break Christmas mugs and Georgia peaches?
As we enter this fresh new year, it is my hope and prayer that many of our readers here at Whatever Girls will choose to break some things…
– Things like the injuring negative self-talk that is shame’s vocabulary.
– Taking as gospel truth what our feelings are screaming at us – when it isn’t the Gospel Truth at all.
– Continued hiding when God has made a way possible to step forward into His light and love.
And next month, those Inner Vows that are the promises we have made to ourselves in order to protect our heart from hurt. After all, doesn’t scripture tell us to “…guard your heart…”? (Proverbs 4:23) Indeed it does, but we are to guard our heart by God’s strength and motivation, not our own driven by the hurt.
The Christmas decorations are likely taken down and tucked away for another year, but we’re still unpacking the closet on this shame-based way of living that Jesus came to free us from. He entered and left our world (well, really His world!) marked by shame. How well He identifies with our frail humanity. Yet He overcame it all and His Holy Spirit resides within us believers today to enable us to overcome too.
And that’s the Gospel Truth.
Join me next month across the computer monitor with a cup of something hot in hand while you read.
Can I borrow a mug?
Nanc aka Clyde Crashcup