By Kim Chaffin
Ah, a free moment. As a mom, that is a rare thing. Sitting on the patio at the cabin I noticed a mother duck and her ducklings. She swam towards the beach with her babies in tow. I was fascinated. The babies watched everything she did. She turned, they turned. If she put her head under the water, they put their heads under the water. As the babies went under the water they occasionally got turned around. I watched them look for their mother when their heads came out of the water and they would swim as fast as they could to get close to her. Watching them made me smile.
As I sat there, it made me think about how much our children watch us. Our children learn by our example just as those ducklings were learning from their mother. If anger is what we model to our children, it is what they will believe is acceptable. If we show kindness and respect towards others, our children will learn to treat people the same way. Racism is a learned behavior, as is taking responsibility or not taking responsibility for one’s actions.
One of the most convicting things to me was hearing my son at a very young age use a four letter word that started with an “S” and ended with a “T”. My husband asked him where he learned a word like that. “From mom,” he replied. The word that upset my husband and me when it came out of our little boy’s mouth was the word that seemed to be flowing from my mouth. That got my attention and I knew I needed to make some changes.
Just as our kids pick up on the bad moments we are having, they also pick up on the good things we model to them. Making Christ a priority in your own life teaches your children the importance of having a relationship with Him. Our kids are a lot like those ducklings I watched imitating their mom. If we imitate Christ in our actions, we are teaching them to do the same.
As I watched the mother duck and her ducklings, God put it on my heart that no matter how old our children are, they continue to watch us. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t think that because your children reach their teens they no longer need to learn from you. They will need you in a whole new way than when they were little. They need to see you setting an example of what self-respect looks like. Modeling self-respect to your teens can keep them from making choices they’ll regret. If your teens see you stand up for what is right and against what is wrong, you are teaching them to do the same. You just might find you have a teen that stands up to bullying because of what you have modeled to them about how others should be treated.
My children are in their very early twenties and I continue to live my life in a way that models Jesus to them. I continue to live in a way that shows them the value of self-respect and kindness towards others. When I make a mistake, I take responsibility for it because I know my kids are still watching me. My kids may be grown but they are still my ducklings and your kids will always be your ducklings. Don’t forget – they are watching you.
By Ginger Ciminello
Tumblr. Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. Facebook. Vine.
There are so many different avenues to get your face, life, and thoughts out for the whole world to see. There is something really exciting about connecting with so many people, but I think there’s also a hidden drug in the midst of all this “self” content.
Has your day ever been made or broken by likes or comments? Does your self-worth swell and blossom with every new follower? In less than a decade, we have become a like-obsessed society, myself included.
After speaking at schools and conferences I end up with lots of new young followers through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m honored that anyone would have a desire to see pictures of the chalkboard in my house or the thoughts I share in 140 characters. But I’ve also noticed how few young people utilize the privacy settings available. Even though I live a fairly public existence on-line, I am very careful and cautious about the personal information I do share. The majority of my teen friends on Instagram typically have a thousand followers. When I asked them about their account, they could all tell me the precise number of followers and photo likes.
Has Instagram become a self-esteem meter? Are we, in essence, asking Instagram to tell us that we matter?
The world of “likes” can be a dark place for any age. When we seek the approval of our peers to the detriment of our contentment, that’s a dangerous place to be. So do we toss it all out the window in hopes of finding a cure? Maybe. I definitely admire people who take a step back from Social Media or who have never wandered into the format. But personally, I find value in being able to connect with my friends and family who are so far away. I love seeing pictures of weddings I miss attending. It’s one of my favorite ways to send my brother a laugh and let him know I’m thinking about him. But I also know that comparing myself to others is a real option when we are all checking out the “best-foot-forward” images of our idealistic lives.
So here’s my challenge to all of us. A few questions to consider before you post:
- Why are you posting this picture? I try to ask myself this each and every time I hit “post.” I let this question lead me to really consider my motives. Is this true, noble, lovely, or excellent? (Sometimes it’s just funny, and that’s cool too.) Am I looking for an emotional shot in the arm through likes and comments? Am I seeking emotional empathy through a website?
A lot of times I will sit with a photo for 20 minutes and then decide not to hit post. In a world that tells me to post everything, sometimes I just have to put my foot down and say NO.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
- Is this humor at the expense of someone else? There’s laughing WITH someone and then there is laughing AT someone. I post funny and ridiculous video clips on my brother’s timeline all the time. It’s our little shared love language. But I’m also careful not to let that humor spill over into being mean. Screaming goats = funny. Celebrities embarrassing themselves and then ripping apart their behavior = unkind.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
- Am I posting out of anger? If we are to be known as a people of love we should really be slow to post. May our words (typed or spoken)bring joy and encouragement to anyone listening or following.
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29, MSG
- Have I checked my security settings lately? I had to throw this out there. Be careful about geotagging your location. With whom are you sharing your daily routine and schedule? I don’t want to become someone overtaken by fear, but at the same time, I want to be smart and protect the privacy of my family. Who can see your pictures? Why do you need them to see your pictures?
“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise…” Ephesians 5:15
- Am I looking for social media to boost my self-esteem? Even if you won every Instagram #amIpretty beauty pageant and received 400 likes on your next post, my guess is that the high would only last for so long. The likes of others can never fill us up. Genuine peace and contentment come when we love ourselves without the approval of others, but true self-worth is found when we see ourselves through the eyes of our Creator. How He sees and love me should matter most of all.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
There’s only one like worth seeking, and it’s not found in a hashtag.
“Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10
By Erin Bishop
We have three big things going on right now we want you to know about and invite you to participate in.
1. #WhenMomsPray: It’s our second annual prayer challenge for mothers of daughters. What could happen if all of us committed to praying for our daughters every single day of the school year? Here are just two testimonies:
“I want to thank everyone for all the prayers for my daughter and my family. My daughters go to a Christian school. I had an email from one of her teachers today at school. After class this afternoon She asked if her teacher would pray with to help bring Jesus back into her heart. My daughter told me that she felt like she had been drifting away from Jesus the last few weeks/months. I have been at my wits end with her and what to do with her or for her. I believe that it is the power of prayer from you all, from me, and her teachers that have worked tonight. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! GOD IS GOOD.”
“My heart is overwhelmed with joy and gratitude! To be very honest this is the first time I had asked for prayer like this. I had been praying on my own and didn’t know what else to do. God is definitely showing his presence and power when we gather together in prayer!”
Read more about “#WhenMomsPray and join us, HERE. It’s SO easy to participate! We even supply the prayers for you
2. Whatever Girls Online Bible Studies: We launch our fall online Bible study this Monday, September 28. We are reading “Made to Crave for Young Women” by Lysa TerKeurst and Shaunti Feldhahn. It’s not too late to join us! Read more about Whatever Girls Online Bible Studies and join us, HERE.
3. Whatever Girls Insiders Club: Moms like to share. We love it when you share our posts that have inspired and helped you. We consider the Whatever Girls Ministry to be a movement of moms standing together who want more than the status quo for their daughters. We have developed an Insiders Club to thank you for sharing about our movement and inviting your friends to join you. Read more about the Whatever Girls Insider Club and join us, HERE.
By Susan Norris
What do you think of when you hear the name Jared Fogle? Up until recently, you most likely thought of Subway. He went from being an overweight Indiana University student to the Subway spokesperson and some say cultural icon. He made his fortune by being the face of Subway for 15 years.
While most saw Fogle as an ordinary guy who could easily be their neighbor, there was more to the story. Reporter, Rochelle Herman, gained her first glimpse of the story beneath the story when Fogle, married father of two, made a random comment, causing her concern.
He told me that he thought middle school girls were so hot,” Herman said. “I was in shock… Did I really just hear what I think I heard? I looked over at my cameraman…and he was just astounded.”
Herman worked undercover for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, recording conversations with Fogle for evidence for years.
He talked about sex with underage children. It was just something that he really, really enjoyed.”
Fogle has since pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of child pornography and has a plea agreement, which includes his admission to crossing state lines to pay for sex with minors. In his plea agreement, Fogle agreed to pay restitution of $1.4M to his victims. His defense attorney stated that by admitting to the crimes, Fogle is trying to make amends and take responsibility for his actions.
This is a very public case; therefore, it is eliciting public outrage. After all, Jared Fogle was a trusted man. He made his way into our homes on a regular basis through our televisions and sales flyers. How could this happen?
The sad reality is it happens every day all across the country. There are people, ordinary looking people, neighbors, family members, and work associates who create a demand for the fastest growing crime in our world today, human trafficking.
How does it happen? How do average people go from loving husbands, fathers, and employees to someone who pays to rape women and children?
When I sat down with a former purchaser I asked the same question. His answer was becoming all too familiar to me:
“It all started with pornography. At first it was curiosity, but then it became my escape. It’s like a drug. If work got stressful, I’d watch it. If I had a fight with my wife, I’d watch it. Pornography causes a dopamine release in the brain and makes everything better for a while. But it doesn’t last. Just like a drug, you have to go back for more, and before long you’re hooked.”
When I asked him how he jumped from viewing pornography to purchasing sex he said:
“After a while the soft porn didn’t provide the release I was seeking. I sought out the harder stuff. You wouldn’t believe what’s out there. Anyway, after a while just watching wasn’t enough, so when I was out of town on business, I decided to try it.”
Many people say pornography is victimless, that those involved are choosing to be there. As someone who has been on the other side of the lens, a former porn star said:
“The women and children on the other side of the lens are victims. They’re wounded, but not just physically. Their dreams and futures have been kidnapped. Most of the women experienced some form of trauma that interrupted their dreams and derailed their future prior to being in pornography.”
When I asked her the all to familiar question, Why don’t they just leave? she said:
“The concept of girls in handcuffs has killed this fight. It has caused people to think victims can only be victims if they’re physically bound. I wasn’t in handcuffs but I experienced an emotional kidnapping rather than a physical kidnapping. I had been sexually assaulted. I’d lost all of my hopes and dreams already. It wasn’t hard for someone to manipulate me into doing porn after what I’d already experienced.”
It’s easy for people to want to turn to violence after hearing stories like these. After all, most people think these men are just animals, right? Who would do that so someone? Who thinks it’s okay? While I had the listening ear of one who lived the nightmare, I ask her who she thought the victims of this crime were?
Those who choose instant gratification and say “this hurts no one” are fooling themselves. They’re not just hurting the women and children who are being raped while the camera is rolling; they’re hurting their families, their spouses, their children by ignoring them, and they’re hurting themselves.”
Pornography is also used as a training tool for those taken into the sex trade. It is the classroom visual aid for victims in the school of the sex trade. One former trafficker said he used pornography to educate his girls on what was expected of them:
“Girls that are new to the industry don’t really know how to entice a man. They may have been abused or even raped. They just did what they were told in those situations. In order to get their money as a working girl, they need to know how to entice customers.”
When I asked this trafficker how he came to think it was acceptable to sell people as commodities, knowing what awaited them, he said:
“To explain that, I’d have to take you back to when I was nine years old…”
He went on to share about his childhood and how he, too, had his dreams and future stolen from him in different, but just as damaging ways as those he victimized. His story was further evidence of the statement,
Hurt people hurt people.
Those caught up in the sex trade often refer to it as The Game, however, there are no winners in this game. Everyone involved loses a part of themselves, if not themselves completely. It has to stop!
Do something. Take a stand. Speak out. Every organization in this fight is underfunded and under staffed. They all can use your help.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. What do you like to do? What are you good at doing? How can your vocation help in this raging battle over innocence? Find ways to use the skills and resources you already have to step into the fight.
As Edmund Burke once said:
For more information about sex trafficking, please visit Susan’s website, HERE.
By Brenda L. Yoder, MA
I realized I only had two years with all of my kids at home and if something didn’t change, their childhood memories of me would be of an angry, contentious woman. That wasn’t the mom I wanted to be.
No mom dreams of being a yeller. New brides don’t anticipate the havoc they’ll wreak in their homes by being out of balance. Women don’t look forward to the times they snap at their kids in public because they’re stressed with too many demands.
But life happens.
It happened to me. Not just once, but so much that it characterized our family. It characterized me as an out-of-balance mom behind closed doors.
Out-of-balance living happens not in the once-in-a-whiles, but in skewed normalcy.
“The kids just want to see you have joy” my husband said more than once. I didn’t realize the stress, anger, and mess I felt inside spilled out so much. Normally, you don’t see you own ugliness.
It affected them. I needed to take ownership of it.
I’m a mom of four kids within a nine-year span. After being home full-time for a decade, I was teaching 180 high school kids in our local school at the time of my unbalanced wake-up call. I loved teaching. I loved mentoring kids and pouring into their lives. I received teaching awards. Our house ran smoothly. My husband was an elder and I taught Sunday School. I ran two miles a day and had meals on the table every night.
We looked great with our picture-perfect image
But I was a mess.
In the stress, internal messiness, and out-of-control trying-to-do-it-all, relationships with my family suffered. While I did great with the teens I worked with, I was failing with my teen at home. As a mom to only one girl going through adolescence, I was reactionary, angry, and contentious with her. It overflowed to the younger kids and my husband.
My marriage was bad. My mother-child relationship was out of control, and something had to change.
Then, God reminded me that life with kids is fleeting and change needed to happen. I knew change wouldn’t happen overnight. I also realized
I didn’t like the memories my kids would have if I continued in my pulled-to-the-limit lifestyle.
I took a risk and changed what I could control. I realized I couldn’t change my husband or kids to meet my needs. I assessed what I needed for peace of mind, better life balance, and managing my anger.
I began saying “no” to things to work on the internal mess which needed healing. I said “yes” to repairing relationships and making time for God.
All of these took risk. Financial, personal, and lifestyle risks.
There’s more to this story, which is in the my new book, “Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All.” The book is a practical, spiritual, and personal tool to help women and moms find what’s most important during the busiest years of parenting. It’s part of a larger story of living life well being the storybook image that you can learn about at brendayoder.com.
I never intended to write a book when change happened. It was truly for survival and healing for me and my family. But as I speak to and counsel women, it’s a familiar cry from most all moms:
How do you balance all the roles and responsibilities you have?
The answer is—you don’t by trying to do it all. It’s found in God’s word, a relationship with Him, and understanding yourself more.
So join me in balance, busyness and not doing it all. I’m still living it while raising kids. Busyness never goes away. Balance is how you live life while it’s happening.
What do you struggle with as a busy mom? What questions or struggles do you have?
Comment below and you’ll enter to win a giveaway for one copy of Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All. I’d love to hear from you!
To purchase the book, go to balancebusynessandnotdoingitall.com or Amazon.
Brenda is an author and speaker with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in Education. After teaching middle school and high school, she’s a currently a school counseling professional with a private practice. She was twice awarded the “Powerful Connection” award for teachers.
She’s a parenting columnist for 10 To 20 Parenting, Choose Now Ministries, and Whatever Girls. Brenda has been featured in Chicken Soup For The Soul:Reboot Your Life and two books, Who Do You Say I Am and Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All are releasing in 2015. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, can be found at brendayoder.com where she writes about faith, life and parenting beyond the storybook image. Brenda is a wife and mom of four children, ranging from middle school to young adult.
Brenda is active on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.