A Letter To My Middle Schooler- I hope you aren’t cool

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Dear Boys,

When I was in middle school, all I wanted was to be cool. In my day cool looked much different than it looks today. Cool comes with a cost. Know what you are buying when you make that exchange.

Most middle schoolers want to fit in in such a way so they will not stand out. They want to be cool in their own way. Cool for one may not be cool for another.

Begin by defining cool for yourself. Don’t let the world define cool for you. The world may say cool is what God calls rebellion. The world may say cool is to love things that aren’t lovely or pure. The world may say cool is to be someone God wants to protect you from being. The world may call cool what God calls idolatrous or foolish.

The world may say it’s cool to have a girlfriend when you know that having a girlfriend will lead you into areas of temptation you aren’t prepared to fight. All your friends may have girlfriends and say you are weird if you don’t. Don’t believe that lie. The ways of the world are foolish to God. 1 Cor 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”;

The world may say it’s cool to wear designer clothes and name brand shoes. But God’s Word says in Col 3:2 “Set your mind on things above not on earthly things.”

The world may say it’s cool to watch certain shows and movies or read certain books that are the latest craze. Your friends will stand in lines at bookstores or go to midnight showings. They may religiously watch a weekly show that in your spirit you know something isn’t right. It’s because you know God’s Word tells you in Phil 4:8 “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.

The world may say it’s cool to use curse words. God’s Word says in Eph 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

The world may say it’s cool to talk bad about your friends or say unkind things about people who are different from you. But God’s Word says in Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.” and in Proverbs 21:23 “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”

The world will offer you many definitions of cool, but you don’t need to accept any definition other than the one that aligns to a Biblical standard. You have known the words of the Lord. Walk in truth. Walk with Him. The world will do all it can to show you an alternate path. It will take truth and twist it ever so slightly creating a path that will lead you off the one God has paved for you to walk. It’s what satan did in the garden. He took truth and twisted it creating a lie. If you don’t know God’s Word, you won’t be able to discern between the truth and the twisted truth.

The world does not define you. Your friends do not define you. No one has a right to label you as cool, weird, nerdy, etc. They will try to define you, but you don’t allow anyone to define you. God already defined you. He created you and He is the only One who has the right to define who you are.

You are His. Here is who He says you are.

Eph 2:10 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Galatians 4:11 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

During your middle school years, you will look for where you fit in. You will seek to find your worth and value in friends, academics, sports, all kinds of areas. Your friends don’t complete you, your grades don’t make you, your talents don’t define you. These are simply gifts from God. Enjoy them, delight in them. Thank God for them. But don’t let them become who you are.

You are a child of God. As a child of God, you are free. Totally, completely free. Free to walk in the Spirit. Free to live released of the pressure to be a certain way or to walk a certain line. You are free to be the one He created you to be.

When you choose this road, the one of being a true follower a Christ, a true disciple, you will stand out. You won’t blend in. His desire is that you are set apart. You are set apart for His good purposes. When you are set apart, you will not be liked by everyone.

This is why it’s ok for everyone to not like you.

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

My prayer for you is that you seek to be like Jesus who didn’t get in with the cool crowd. In fact, he was radical and forever changed the world.

Since birth I’ve prayed for you to be a man after God’s own heart. I’ve prayed for you to love God more than anything in this entire world. I’ve prayed that you would follow God so hard you would strike fear in the eyes of the enemy.

Stand strong. Be bold. Choose courage.

Anyone can be like the world. It’s takes courage and strength to become the man of God He wants you to be. Walk in your calling. Be who He created you to be not who the world says you are. You are a child of God. Only God can define you.

The Golden Calves Our Kids Worship

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“Mom, I just wanted to tell you I’m so glad you didn’t get us electronics when we were young. If you had I know we would’ve loved them and could’ve ended up addicted.”

I stopped at his doorway silent for a moment.

“I appreciate you saying that.”

He smiled back, “It’s true. I don’t care anything about having a smart phone or any device, but if I had one years ago, I know it would have ended up something I wanted to be on all the time.”

My mind immediately went to the first post I ever wrote about electronics. I had to turn off the comments because some became simply vicious. I was called names, ridiculed, and told my kids would simply rebel.

It didn’t bother me. When you write online, you open yourself to all kinds of attacks. Those types of comments paled in comparison to the ones who agreed with my post and felt the same way.

Commenters told me my children would hate me for withholding electronics from them. The reason my children don’t hate us for this decision is because we have told them and shown them how much we love them, we have shared the why’s, and we have shown them something much more beautiful. We’ve shown them life. Real life.

Real life, real beauty, real conversations. We’ve offered them the real over the fake. What’s not to love about that? The letter I wrote our boys expressed to them that the root of our limiting electronics is the fact that we don’t want to miss out on life with them. They will be 18 in the blink of an eye. I don’t want to miss a minute. When they understand it’s because we love them and don’t want to miss out on experiencing life with them, they see into our hearts.

When it comes to phones, ipads, devices, video games, or anything of the sort, I so often have parents tell me they didn’t want to enter into this world BUT they wanted their kids to fit in.

I get it. But at the same time, I say, “No!” No, we shouldn’t desire our kids fit in if it is in an area we feel contention over. If it opens them to a world you aren’t ready to parent them through, keep that door closed. If it opens a door to a world that is dangerous to their hearts and minds, keep it closed. If it opens the door to a world that is out to devour them, keep it closed.

The dangers are real, and we are guardians over their hearts and minds until they learn how to guard themselves.

When we give our kids over to electronics out of peer pressure, that is what we are modeling to them. How can we expect them to fight their own peer pressure when we show them that is how we make many of our decisions?

Start as we intend to go. It’s much easier stay on course than it is it start down a path, crash into obstacles, get lost in the forest, and try to find the path you wish you had started on to begin with.

This article is heartbreaking – Digital heroin.

That is what we are up against. An addiction equal to a heroin addiction. This should terrify us into an awakening. This should give us the resolve we need to do what is right for our kids at the risk of them not being “cool” in the eyes of some.

Were our kids called to be cool? Or were they called to be set apart?

I don’t want cool kids. I want set apart kids.

It doesn’t take much for an addiction to set in. We are worshipers at heart. The problem begins when we place our natural inclinations toward worship on anything other than God. Enter idolatry.

The current craze is Pokemon Go. Much controversy surrounds this game. Years ago my children became interested in Pokemon cards. A few weeks later strange behaviors began to take place in one of my sons. I began praying through his room asking God to reveal if there was something in our home which opened a door to the enemy. Later this child came to me and said he felt he needed to get rid of his Pokemon cards and his Wii game Skylanders. All went to the trash, we prayed through the room and house. Strange behaviors left with the items we threw out. So I’m sensitive to Pokemon or anything with occult ties and origins.

With Pokemon go, we have a view into how easily our children become worshipers. How quickly they give their heart to something and fix their eyes on the object of their worship. If we are raising our kids to love and honor God, it should concern us when something, anything, grabs their heart in such an obvious, addicting way. (Side note: This is a great article if you have concerns about your child playing Pokemon Go)

We have an opportunity to train our children to worship the only One worth worshiping. A child or teen, or adult for that matter, has no problem with worshiping. It’s a matter of where they fix their eyes and heart. It will be given to something.

What if we teach them from Revelation? Teach them what awaits us. Show them the God who is worthy of our entire hearts?

When we spend more time teaching and showing our kids who God really is, they will thirst and hunger for the One who quenches every desire. They will hunger for the only One who can truly fill them. If we spend time talking about eternity, talking about Heaven, talking about things that matter, we can plant seeds in their hearts that grow into fruit bearing, life giving pursuits.

Total Immersion Is The Way To Bathe Our Kids in Truth

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In 2012 and 2014, we hosted orphans from Latvia in our home. If you visit my posts in December of 2012 and June 2014, you can read all about our experiences. Both children we hosted astounded me with how quickly they learned English. I didn’t purchase a fancy language program or even buy a dictionary. It was total immersion.

In a 4 week period of total immersion, they learned more than any book could’ve taught them over the course of a year or longer. The change was phenomenal.

These children lived with us, a family actually speaking English, for weeks. They saw us living out the English language, putting it in practice moment by moment.

Training our children in the way they should go should be total immersion. In this world and this culture, sprinkling will not do. The key is that we as parents have to live it out. We can’t simply talk about God in general terms. We can’t put them in church programs and hope they become good, moral children. We have to live out the gospel in our homes.

At some point along my journey of faith, I stopped compartmentalizing my faith life and my “real” life. My lives merged and became all about God all the time. God began to change my perspective on pretty much everything.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ” These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I think God is serious about this command. Another way to translate is – Totally immerse your kids in me. Talk about me all the time. Tell them what you know of me. Tell them what I’ve instructed. Don’t ever stop. Driving carpool, fixing dinner, throwing the baseball…whatever you are doing, show them who I am. I am the great I Am.

Last week I shared the most profound parenting advice I’ve ever received. When that advice began to sink in is the point God gripped my heart.

I’ve talked to families recently that shared how empty they feel. They want to grow spiritually but feel dry. Life is busy, hard, and they don’t know where to start. If this is you, I urge you to focus on one small step today. Often we look at where we want to go, and it is overwhelming. If we focus on simply each step in front of us, eventually we will get to where we are going by focusing one step at a time. The staircase as a whole can be quite intimidating, but we can handle one step today.

So what does total immersion look like on a practical level? For me total immersion is an all in approach. I tend to be an all in or all out kind of person.

The worst advice Steve and I ever received came when we were new Christians. The advice was not to get “crazy” with our faith. At the time I didn’t see how ludicrous that advice was. Can we get too crazy for Jesus? This world could use a little more of that in my opinion.

Parenting takes an enormous about of intentionality. It’s easy to focus on intentionally creating memories, intentionally investing in their sports development, intentionally investing in their academics. However, intentionally investing in their soul is by far the most important thing we can do for our children.

Here are practical ways to become a family that is all in for Jesus. A family that desires to become totally immersed.

  1.  Prayer – Prayer is where the power is. Whatever you do, when not guided through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, is our own attempts. If we want our family to be all in, we pray us there. Begin a family prayer journal. Hold family prayer meetings. Pray before meals. Pray as you part ways during the day. Pray when you come together at night. Pray as you close out the night with each child. Pray beyond yourselves. Pray for others. Pray for this world. Pray specifically. Pray boldly. Pray as if you believe He actually cares and listens. Pray as you are driving the kids around town. Pray out loud in the car. Stop and pray immediately for things. Don’t put off prayer by saying, “Let’s pray about that.” Instead, stop and pray immediately. Guide children into the habit of praying without ceasing. 1 Thes 5:16-1816 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
  2. Use Car Time Wisely – Families today spend almost more time in the car than they do at home. We are a busy society running our children to school, activities, errands, etc. Some of the deepest conversations take place in the car. Two of my boys accepted Christ while we were driving around town. Don’t discount the value of this time. At the same time, protect this time. Make car time distraction free by not allowing electronic devices to steal these moments. You are guaranteed time in the car together- guard it, protect it, and use it to immerse them. A few ideas for using car time intentionally.
    1. Audiobooks and Radio DramasAdventures in Oddysey, Chronicles of Narnia, The Story. These are a few of our favorites. Adventures in Oddysey is great for all ages. Truth in a story that captivates them from the beginning. The Story in audio is amazing. It is scripture told in chronological order as one big story. It’s powerful and we have listened to it several times through. Narnia, amazing.
    2. Christian music – I listen to one station only, and it plays only christian music. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed that I have no idea who the latest heartthrob is. I can hear a song that the world knows, and I’ve never heard it. And my kids likely haven’t either. Music is powerful. It influences our moods, our thoughts, our beliefs. I don’t believe it’s innocent fun when the lyrics speak in ways that dishonor God. I’m given a high calling to protect the hearts and minds of my kids. At their ages, I greatly control and influence what goes into their ears and hearts. I don’t want them listening to the messages of this world. The prince of this world is satan, and he uses music as one of his weapons that looks completely harmless. On the flip side, I want my kids to worship God always, not just on Sundays. We worship Him in our heart by what we allow in.
    3. Spiritual Conversations – Use this time to discuss current worldviews. Compare them to the truth of God’s Word. When my boys were little these conversations were quite basic. Now that they are older, we have used car time to discuss topics such as sex and purity, politics, abortion. We discuss apologetics, world religions, etc. Yesterday my 12 year old and I had a heated debate when he made a generalization to state his side of the argument. I agreed with his position but his method of arguing it was poor so I attempted to destroy his argument quite successfully. He became defensive and upset, which further helped me state my argument. When it was over, we had a great discussion on why generalizations don’t hold and how he could have argued his case better. This happened in the 10 minute drive from church to lunch. Every minute we have counts.
    4. Just talk – Going back to my earlier point, keep car time a guarded time where electronics aren’t welcome. Protect this time especially if you are a busy family. Great conversation happens in the car. After school is when my kids are ready to let go of the stress of the day and share their days. Enjoy each other. While in the car, nothing competes for our attention, we simply have each other. Laugh, share, invest in the relationship.
  3. Books and Movies – If we want to totally immerse, then the majority of what we read and watch should intentionally reveal God to our children. We read aloud as a family regularly. We read individually to each of the boys each night. We often read during a meal time, it could be any meal. During the summer, we read aloud during the afternoon after we’ve all had some time to rest from the day. We use these opportunities to impart truth. The options here are vast.
    1. Fiction, historical fiction, adventure books – I need to do a whole post on books. And I think I will, but for now a few favorites: The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Schirer, The Cooper Kids Series by Frank Peretti, The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black. My boys love these. I truly have a giant list I need to share outside of this post.
    2. Devotions – Two favorites are Point Me To Jesus  and Josh McDowell’s Family Devotions
    3. Apologetics or non-fiction for kids – I have so many favorites in this category. Jesus Is Alive by Josh McDowell, Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn, Lee Strobel’s Case books for kids (Case for Christ, Case for Faith, Case for Creator), The amazing Bible Adventure for Kids by Josh McDowell, The Awesome Book of Bible Answers for Kids by Josh McDowell, The New Answers Book by Ken Ham.
    4. Biographies or books on heroes of the faith. Christian Heroes Then and Now. Incredible. Books like The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom you simply never forget. They impact your faith and encourage you to live boldly.
  4. Slow Down – The less chaotic schedules are the more time there is to have conversations that must take place. Are your kids overloaded with activities to the point you read this list and think there is no way? If so, what can go? And what is most important in light of eternity?
  5. Talk, Talk, and More Talk – Our kids receive messages from the world at a pace that never slows and never stops. The information, the news, the social media, all of it creates a constant stream of worldliness that we have an opportunity to guide them through. But it’s exhausting and we must determine not to take the easy way out. Our kids need a constant bath in truth. A constant bath in what is holy, righteous, beautiful, pure, and good. The world has twisted ideas and blurred lines so that many kids don’t see the harm in what God sees as deadly. Our role is to keep that dialogue steady and strong.
  6. Keep them busy but not entertained – Kids today simply don’t understand boredom. They have everything they want at the push of a button and touch of an icon. And we’ve created environments where our kids believe the world spins around their desires. They struggle to see outside themselves because we spend so much energy catering to their desires. Serving as a family can be a way to walk the walk together.
  7. Read the Bible– This is critical. The Bible is truth. If they don’t know it, they don’t know truth and the world will eat them alive. They need to see mom AND dad reading God’s Word. They need to see it transform us day by day. They need to see us go to it and find answers to life’s perplexities.

I can give this list that sounds wonderful, ideal. And some will read it and think it’s impossible. Others will read it and pick one thing to focus on. Still others will go all in. But there is one key to totally immersing our kids in truth. We must be connected as a family for this to work. If the family unit is split apart because of crazy schedules, if kids spend more time with friends and activities than at home, if the relationships have been broken and torn, then some of what I listed will be met with a fight. So if that describes your family, don’t leave here discouraged. Simply start with step one. Pray. That is where the power is. Let the Holy Spirit direct you to the next step of repairing and restoring strained relationships.

The world has forever shifted. The “world” has launched a full attack against our kids. The attacks often are disguised as anything but an attack. As parents we can find ourselves wanting our kids to fit in and not be alienated. But that is not biblical either. We are aliens here and it’s ok for our kids to grow up as aliens. Otherwise, if they fit right in, they may never desire anything other than what everyone else has accepted.

1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

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The Most Profound Parenting Advice I Ever Received

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To listen to the audio recording of today’s post, click here.

Several years ago a group of us young moms sat around talking about our desire to raise children who deeply loved the Lord. Our children were babies, full of innocence and complete reliance on us. How could we raise them to place their faith in Jesus and grow in Him in a world like this?

A mentor mom listened carefully before she said something I’ll never forget, and it is the very thing to spark something inside of me changing me in ways I never imagined. This mentor mom said, “We can only lead our children as far as we ourselves have gone.”

Let that soak in for a moment. We can only lead our children as far as we ourselves have gone with the Lord.

If I stay at a pace of 5 minutes a day with God, how can I expect my children to give God more than 5 minutes of their day? If I’ve never grown to see God in ALL of my life, how can I expect my children to see God in ALL of their life? If my prayer life consists of basic “God bless us and keep us safe” type of prayers, how can I expect my children to view God as a personal God who desires intimate conversation? If I don’t let the truth of scripture guide every single decision I make, why would I think my kids would do differently?

If I make excuses for why I don’t have time to read His Word, why will my children believe His Word is more important than anything they read or do? If I prioritize my life so that I run around frantic and busy pushing God to the end of my to-do list, why will my kids want to make Him their first love? If I chase other things harder than I run after God, why will my kids want to run after Him?

When I first began to ponder these thoughts, the task seemed daunting. Until I began praying a prayer that changed everything. “God make me love you more than anything in this entire world. Make me love you more and more every single day.”

If the greatest command (Matt 22:38) is to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, I imagine that asking God to love Him more than anything else brings delight to the Father.

I want my kids to know that I love God more than I love them. More important than wanting my kids to know this, is for them to see this played out – authentically. Kids are hypocrite detectors. They know in an instant when we say one thing but live another. If I proclaim to love God more than anything, yet “loving God” occurs only on Sunday mornings, my kids will know that the love I proclaim is love with my lips only.

I talk to moms all the time who tell me they want to spend more time with God, they want to pray more, read the Bible more. They want to live a life that He flows through so that their kids will walk with Jesus and never turn away.

The only way for this to happen in the culture we live in is total immersion. No sprinkling will do.

Satan roams the earth seeking to destroy and devour our children and us. That is his goal. One of his methods is to make us love this world, to see it as mostly good with a little evil. If we view the world this way, we live in this world and we sprinkle in a little God for good measure. We take our kids to church on Sunday. Maybe Awana or VBS. We say our bedtime prayers and we hope that is enough. It’s exactly what satan hopes we do.

This world wants to consume our kids. To battle back, we must totally immerse our kids, soak, saturate them to the very core with Truth. That means reading Bible stories isn’t enough. Going to church once a week, not enough.

If we want our kids to grow up to be a light then total transformation must take place in us first. That will guide everything we do in the lives of our children.

This doesn’t mean that the spiritual lives of our kids rest solely on us. I was raised in a loving home, but one that didn’t have Christ as its first love. God is Sovereign and uses many methods for pursuing His children. Our kids are given to us for a time, and we are good stewards when we raise them to love the Lord with everything in them. Ultimately, the decision to love and follow the Lord rests on our children. But we have a great calling in their lives to model to them the way.

Parents, it starts with us. If we want strong christian kids, it starts right here in our own hearts. We surrender it all to Christ. We come to Him empty and desperate with a simple prayer. “Lord, I’m desperate for you. This world is evil and terrifying, but your Word tells us to take heart because you overcame the world. I desire to love you more than I love anything in this world. I desire to raise a family that loves you wholeheartedly. Lord, make me love you more today than I did yesterday. I’m not capable of loving you even a fraction of a degree the way I want to love you. So I ask you to make my heart love you more. Take me and transform me. Then let your Spirit overflow from me influencing the ones you’ve placed in my life. My heart’s desire is to be a family that follows you wherever you lead us no matter what.”

Often our desire to raise children who love the Lord is so fear-driven that we do the exact opposite of what we should do. We begin to push away our children from the very thing we desire for them. When we let fear rule our hearts, we cling tight, we dig our nails in, we fight. We begin to attempt to control life around us because it’s the only way we know how to fight the fear. When we do this, Christ isn’t flowing through us. We have pushed Him into the shadows. Christ isn’t fear. He is freedom, grace, beauty, and truth.

When we are ruled by Christ, we walk in total freedom. When we have soaked in His truth and know His promises, fear is pushed back into the darkness where it came from.

I tell my kids all the time they can’t control the people or the circumstances around them. All they can control is their own actions and reactions. If my greatest desire is for my kids to walk with the Lord, if I’m not careful that will take precedence over my love for God, which should be more important than my child’s walk with God. If my child’s walk is most important, fear will move in. Little by little.

Satan loves to distract us. His desire is for us to be so focused on raising kids to love the Lord, that we become desperate for it. He will shoot his arrow setting little fires for us to put out that will increase our fear. We will place all our efforts on putting out fires in the lives of our kids in order that they can love the Lord. When really, it’s much simpler than that. We make Him our first love.

When He is our first love, His light shines through and radiates to those around us. Our words won’t be as needed because all that flows from us pours out love. Love changes the world. Love changes our families. Love changes everything. It all starts with love. It all ends with love. All that happens in the middle is because love poured out for us and we’ve allowed it to flow through us to others.

The most profound advice I’ve ever received is to make God my first love. When He is my first love, I will never be the same. When love courses through me, it impacts all around me. This is why it’s the greatest commandment.

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Think Before You Post- 2 Dangerous Social Media Posts

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Quite possibly I’m about to step on your toes or offend you. I pray not, and it’s not my intention, but I can’t stay silent on this any longer.

I’ve written quite a bit about social media. In fact, I’d planned to write a book about it until God changed the course. So instead I decided to publish parts of the material here on my blog. You can read my series Unseen here.

Social media can be all things wonderful and dangerous at the same time. It can look innocent, and motives can be mostly pure, but the post could be doing far more damage than we realize. And this is how the enemy works. He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). He works in secretive, deceptive ways. Deceiving our own hearts and motives so that we are doing his will without even realizing it.

I see it all over instagram and this alarm sounds as I scroll through posts. Sadly, it’s more prominent in the christian blogging world than anywhere else. That’s partly because thousands of followers will like these posts within seconds, validating that heart desire for affirmation, acceptance, and approval. The person posting sees that people like those kinds of posts and are encouraged to do it again. To seek that filling of being “liked” or “favorited”.

I debated for a long time writing about this. It’s been burning and churning, but I’ve avoided it for fear of offending someone (which is likely to happen no matter what I write) or seeming cynical. I want to say the reason I’m writing this is that I’m convinced there are many young women who are posting on social media and have no idea the danger they are creating with their posts. I hope to open eyes to seeing in a way that the enemy of our souls is using these posts.

 

Post danger #1: Posting a picture of your handsome, well built husband, fiancé, or boyfriend.

 

Sometimes laying on the beach. Sometimes shirtless doing yard work.  Sometimes appearing to be unaware his picture is being taken while he is deep in thought staring out into the wilderness.

The post will have emoticons of flaming red heart eyes, rows of purple hearts and flowers, cascading words of adoring love. There will be a clever phrase about how blessed one is to have such an amazing husband. Possibly a heart of humility that one doesn’t deserve such a man.

 

Here’s why it’s dangerous.

  • There is a woman who will see that picture and be thrown into lust. She struggles with it daily. Men aren’t the only ones who lust and struggle with this temptation. It’s an undiscussed struggle of many women as well.

Porn is an addiction for women as well as men. Spend a few minutes researching the shift in    pornography addiction. It will startle you. Know where it sometimes starts? Right here with these lustful    producing images and posts. It helps create the appetite.

  • It’s setting up your man and your relationship as a target. Placing that picture up in that way makes him a bullseye. There are some women who thrive on the challenge of getting the man who seems untouchable. Don’t put a target on your relationship!

 

  • It breeds jealously and discontentment in another woman. Undoubtedly, a large number of women liking that post don’t feel they are blessed in their relationship. Their marriage is rocky and tumultuous. They feel unloved or unnoticed. They have experienced hurt and failure and are clinging to shreds of hope in their relationship. Then these perfect husbands appear in their feed. Their eyes stop for a moment and their imaginations begin. They begin to create unspoken expectations for their own relationships. The relationship that has been striving for a breakthrough goes back a few more steps.

You see it used to be television and magazines that offered us the picture perfect mate and life to pine over. Now it’s right up in our face, with people we know and love, or people we don’t know but think we do because we are able to follow anyone no matter how famous they are. Suddenly, they become a real person to us. And life and relationships look like the magazines and movies. So it must be real and attainable, right? Wrong!

I’m convinced that many of the women who are posting these types of pictures and posts don’t have any clue what they are doing. Many are young and newly married. They are excited and in 2016 when you are excited you shout through Instagram.

My plea is to stop posting these posts for the sake of your sisters. The ones you don’t know are struggling. Protect their hearts. Love them enough to not proclaim your amazing relationship. Please.

Their hearts are aching in ways you can’t understand. Be sensitive to the fact that a husband who is both incredibly handsome AND the world’s greatest man is just rare. Don’t set that up as the standard to achieve. Help a sister out.

Marriage is HARD and still beautiful. Marriage doesn’t fit the Instagram mold, but it is beautiful in ways Instagram can never achieve.

 

Dangerous post #2: Posting a picture of you enjoying a glass of wine or any alcohol.

I’m not at all saying drinking is wrong. It’s a gray area. Some people have no problem enjoying alcohol, others cannot. I’m NOT saying having a glass of wine is a sin – I don’t believe it is, though drunkenness is a different story. I’m not saying as christian women we can’t drink. I’m saying, do we have to post it? I hope I’m clear here so you will hear what I want you to hear.

Here’s why I believe we should not post those types of pictures- There are younger women in the faith who take their cues of what they should and shouldn’t do from other christian women rather than straight from God. Given a few more years in their walk with the Lord, they are easily able to discern the voice of God and determine what is acceptable for them and what is not.

I struggled early on in my christian walk in knowing how to discern God’s voice. I often looked to my christian sisters to determine what God would have me do or not do.

Again, please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. This is not at all a drink or don’t drink statement. I very much believe that this is a personal choice that is perfectly acceptable for some who are not tempted to enter into drunkenness. But for others, one drink leads to many drinks and they simply can’t handle it. When a young woman struggles in this area and she sees a prominent figure enjoying drinks with friends, she may believe that is her green light.

We aren’t responsible for the choices other people make, but we are responsible for the example we set and for the stumbling blocks we erect. Today, this is primarily through social media.

The danger with social media is that it provides us this invisible screen. We can hide behind it not taking full responsibility. It gives us courage to be who we want to be. If we aren’t careful, it can become dangerous in more ways than one.

If you are a christian woman with a platform, you are in a place of leadership. You are a silent mentor, disciple maker in the lives of young women. Many you will never meet. You have a call and a charge to lead them in their walk closer to the Lord.

Before we post, we must ask ourselves what the intent of the post is and what dangers it might pose to another woman. Will it be a stumbling block? Will it tempt her to sin? Will it arouse jealousy? Is it boastful? Is it proud? Is it arrogant? Because that’s not love.

Before we post, we should ask ourselves does this post promote love?

 

Here’s love:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor 13:4-7

Love protects.

We must protect our sisters in Christ by guarding what we share and how we share it on social media. We should be open, vulnerable, authentic, and transparent for sure. We shouldn’t be fake or hypocrites. I’m simply saying, if it is a picture that could tempt someone to fall, maybe it should be held for your private photo album.

Do we stop adoring our husband? No, but save those for his ears only. No need to broadcast to the world how awesome he is. Do we stop having a glass of wine with a friend? No. Just no need to flaunt it on social media for the world to form a false judgement on you or set up their standard based on your personal choices.

Do we have to become paranoid about what we post? No, we shouldn’t. Social media is fun and full of wonderful elements. It’s great to share our excitement with others online and to share our journeys of life. But with all good things, there is a fine line. And the enemy that works to destroy us, works very well through social media. He takes what is good and twists it for his evil purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe Our Best Gifts Shouldn’t Be On Social Media

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Listen to the audio recording of today’s post here

A couple of weekends ago, I had 3 full days to myself in my own home. I can’t remember ever having that much time to myself. It’s a real gift to the introvert. The days approaching I dared not allow myself to get excited for fear plans would fall through.

The moment my family drove away, I pulled out my spray bottles of vinegar and peroxide, my dusting cloths, brooms, and mops. And I got to work. I cleaned the house from top to bottom with no distraction knowing it would stay spotless for days. All my household duties were complete by lunch and I now had the gift of time ahead of me.

I’m a productivity lover. I fill every pocket of time with a task. Sometimes I hate that about me. I resist rest because there is always work to be done. I never sit in the evenings. After the kids go to bed, there is always work to be done. I tell myself I will sit down and rest when everything is done. The problem is that it’s never all done. So I fall into bed exhausted every night.

I had a choice to make with my free weekend. I could do what I always do. Get stuff down. Work through my long list of never ending tasks. Or I could be wild and crazy with my time. I could do nothing but rest.

I battled only briefly when I decided that God was giving me a gift and I wanted to receive the gift in full. No one likes to give a gift and feel the person they gave it to didn’t really appreciate the gift fully. They half used it because they didn’t see the real value it held.

My soul was in desperate need of a gift. The gift had been given to me. I had a choice. Resist the gift or receive it in full. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for our own soul is to receive fully the gift of rest when it’s offered to us. 

For me to accept a gift of rest isn’t easy. To rest, I had to battle guilt. Guilt over not working through the tasks. Guilt over sleeping later than normal. Guilt over reading a book for hours when that simply felt too luxurious.

It’s not just my task list that taunts me. It’s the good things even. I could use that time to write, to work on women’s ministry. The list of ways I could serve grew long. And the guilt clung tightly.

I am well familiar with the person I become when I’m serving or working on empty. When I don’t pause for a soul refill, I become a person I don’t want to be around. Bitterness creeps in. I’m quick to judge others who aren’t serving to the same capacity I am. I become a flaw pointer, noticing everything that’s not right in the people around me. It’s ugly. And it loves to rear its head when I’m in desperate need of rest and soul filling.

I’m an all or nothing kind of person. So when I made the decision to fully accept the gift of rest, free of guilt, I went all in. God did the rest. I didn’t plan one second of that weekend and I couldn’t have had a more beautiful weekend.

The first evening I spent with my dear friend, mentor, and prayer warrior. She was steps inside the door and I was captivated by her stories. I could sit and listen for hours. In fact, that is just what I did. When I finally stood up from listening, I felt lightheaded and dizzy. How long had I been engrossed in her life’s story? When I looked at the clock, it was hours past my normal dinner. A gift. How often does food in my home revolve around clocks and hungry boys? How delightful to find myself lost in her stories, losing sense of time completely. We continued sharing stories for hours over shared salads, chocolate cake, and hot tea. Bedtime was not dictated by a menacing schedule waiting for me.

The following morning I woke leisurely, which never happens. I ordered the guilty thoughts to go back to where they came from so I could wrap my arms around the gift of this very moment. Enjoying the quiet morning watching the dawning day break through the curtains.

The rest of the day I spent on my screen porch reading. Hours upon hours of reading. Finishing one book, moving on to another. A gift I had never received before. Dinner out with a friend, back home to curl up and read for another round of hours.

By the time my family arrived back home, I felt like a new person. I had nothing to show for my weekend except a smile and a settled heart. My soul felt full again, ready to serve and give and love. I was ready to be all in again.

In 13 years, I’ve never had a break quite like that. I didn’t post on social media how much I was relishing in my rest. There were several moments I found myself so grateful for the rest and felt that urge to shout it from the rooftops, which typically equates to posting on Instagram or Facebook.

I refrained. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe it was that I wanted to keep my gift a secret for a time. I wasn’t ready to give up the intimacy of the moment or to invite others into the privacy of that time. Maybe if the world came in, the rest would escape.

Maybe it was that I realized that in 13 years I’d never had a moment like that, and to share those moments would only breed discontentment and jealousy to a mom who is hanging by a thread. How often have I been hanging by that very thread only to scroll through social media and see pictures that made me want to question my own life?

Maybe a part of me thought posting those moments was such a far stretch from my real life that I couldn’t bring myself to put them out there.

I’m not exactly sure. But there is something that felt so right about holding those moments close to my heart that weekend. Sharing them with only the real live people I interacted with. Cherishing the full gift for those brief moments, afraid if I shared them, they’d slip away. They wouldn’t be a sweet gift just for me anymore.

As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, may we hold our moments close to our hearts. May we cherish the intimacy of the gifts we receive rather than share them with the world. May we remember that in our excitement over our moments, sometimes we create deep pain and discontentment in another women who isn’t currently showered with love. Or a woman who has never had an opened womb or a completed adoption. Or a mother who is working through healing relationships with her children.

Maybe the kindest gift to our soul this Mother’s Day is to fully receive the gifts we receive….and to keep it a little secret. Not inviting the world into those secret places. There’s something to treasure about the little sacred moments and gifts in a see-all, share-all world. And there is something to behold knowing that we didn’t unintentionally hurt a women who is in need of a gift but didn’t receive one.

 

Dear Young Mom, When It Seems Too Hard and You Want To Press The Easy Button

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You can listen to an audio recording of today’s post by clicking here.

Jacob is twelve, yet if feels as if yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital. My boys are 19 days away from the last day of school. Even they realize the accelerated stride of life. How did fall to spring arrive and depart with such haste?

I want to run up to every young mom I see, grab her by the shoulders, and tell her not to brush off the well-meaning comments to enjoy and relish every second with her littles. To take that tiny hand and hold it until the tiny hand pulls away first. To stop even when time feels rushed, simply to count the dots on the lady bug. To stretch out the night time prayers and snuggles an extra minute or two. To say yes to the request to spin them around in circles just one more time.

I want to say to these moms that all the energy and love they are pouring in that seems to go unnoticed isn’t unnoticed at all. It only feels that way. It’s building something holy. Holy work is hard work.

I want to tell these moms to let themselves look silly. Run in the park when it feels ridiculous because others moms seem well-dressed and put together. To lay on a blanket finding pictures in clouds. To tell stories that have no ending.

I have encouragement for you young moms. The ones who have little ones who exhaust you until you have nothing left to give. The ones who are touched and talked to until you reach the point of wanting to hide in a dark closet. The ones who struggle with days that feel nothing was accomplished and you feel you don’t measure up. I have words for you I hope give your heart what it needs today to keep doing the hard and holy work of fulfilling your calling.

Dear Young Mom,

You are in the most precious season of life. Doesn’t always feels so precious, I know. The fatigue, sleepless nights, unshowered days, makeupless face. A messy house and no energy left for friends and fun.

My husband used to say, “These are the best days of your life.” Funny, he’s said this for many years, at various stages. He is always right. At each phase, it’s been the best days of my life. Even the hard ones are the best ones. The hard days are the ones I’m most aware of my need for Christ and most aware of His Presence in the daily muck.

Lord willing, one day you will stand at a graduation ceremony, and all you will see when you look on that stage will be a little boy blowing bubbles in the driveway or a little girl twirling in her princess dress in the kitchen. And you will wonder where the time is hiding from you. Surely there is more. More of those little days of innocence.

Time is something we can’t rewind. We don’t receive a do-over. It’s a gift we receive and have a choice how we will use it. The season you are in will not last forever. Each day passes at the same pace. Each season moves along steadily. We can’t slow it. We can’t backtrack to do it differently. We have one chance at the hard and holy work of raising these littles into spiritual giants in a culture that wants to devour them.

Young mama, put your game face on. Dig those heels in with fierce determination to choose the road less traveled, the narrow path. Don’t follow the masses of culture in parenting. Pull your children in close, hold them tightly for this season because the season of release is upon you with a speed you won’t believe.

This isn’t new. Most moms from past generations would agree, time moves fast. You, however, are parenting in a culture unlike any we’ve ever experienced. Your calling is placed on an incline. To do what’s right is hard. To raise these kids in a see all, share all world. Hard isn’t an appropriate word. 

When my boys were little, I didn’t see how the world around me parented. I looked to God’s Word and to christian parenting books. Social media didn’t taunt me with pictures of perfection in every home but mine. And social media didn’t provide me an escape from digging into that hard and holy work that I felt desperate to run from.

It’s more than taking every moment captive. It’s beyond that. It’s taking intentional days, intentional moments, and intentional parenting to new heights. You, young mama, must become a warrior yourself. In the gentlest of ways, you must fight back against the invisible push of culture rushing towards your family.

Sweet mamas, you are precious in His sight. You have been entrusted with His children to raise. They aren’t yours to keep forever. They are a gift to you for a brief season of life. Rise up to your calling.

The crushing pressure of life will make you crave the easy button. When you are desperate to simply get through the grocery store with no meltdowns, the easy button is to place an iPhone in your child’s hand. Choose not the way of the world. Instead, enter the hard and holy work that moms from every generation until now have walked. Teaching self control, discipline, restraint, and behavior in ways that will embarrass you or make you feel like a failure. Just remember, you aren’t parenting for the approval of anyone in that store. You have a hard and holy calling. Work for the well done from your Heavenly Father.

Success in the eyes of the world looks very different from success in the eyes of God. What looks like failure to the world can be a victory for raising your miniature spiritual giants.

When you are exhausted from fighting nap times and bed times and all you want is a few minutes of peace, the easy button will call your name. Tempting you to put an iPad in their lap so you can escape. Fight it. When they learn to obey and find contentment when they aren’t being entertained, you are priming them for some of the most beautiful lessons in life. When they’re not instantly gratified with entertainment, you are opening up the doorway for a life of patiently waiting on God.

Devices satisfy us in an instant. They immediately feed our cravings. They entertain us. They sweep us away. Placing devices in their little hands will distract them from the lessons God has for them right now. Lessons that will set them on a path for learning to listen for His still small voice. Lessons for learning that God works on His timing not our timing, not at the speed of our device. Lessons that we don’t get what we want when we want. Lessons that life is not all about us.

Life is sacred and holy. Time is a gift.

Culture will tell you that you are ridiculous if your little one doesn’t have screen time. Culture will even give you reasons to justify why it’s good for them. Culture will tell you how smart it will make them. How ahead of the pack they will move.

If there is one area I would say is most important in their little years and this fleeting season of life, it is screens. Screens will steal your time in a way you will not see as stolen. You won’t see what you are missing when you don’t know what you are missing.

In other words, if your child is behind a screen for a couple of hours, you will not see what was missed in that 2 hours. You will see the positives that happened. Maybe they learned some new letters or shapes. They are happy and smiling, so all seems well.

But what if the distraction of the screen was gone. What precious conversations could have taken place? What heart lessons could have formed? What could have been planted underneath the soil when eye to eye you are connecting?

There have been times that I know I would have chosen the easy button of technology had it been available to me when my boys were little. Now looking back, I can’t imagine what might have been lost in that time. I will never know, and I don’t want to know.

Who knows….maybe if they’ve never learned to depend on screens for entertainment, when they are 12, rather than running to a device to fill their time, they might just say, “Hey, mom, want to throw the football with me?” Maybe when they’ve spent their formative years building relationships through well-spent time, they will choose time together rather than wasting it on pursuits of pleasure.

To fight this culture in order to protect your little ones and cherish these days takes intention.

It’s being ok with looking ridiculous, for being different, not fitting into culture. It’s being ok taking the hard road.

The hard and holy work of parenting will be filled with tears, laughter, frustration, overcoming, heartache, joy, anguish, worry and fear, failure, triumph, laughter, confidence and peace. The hard and holy work of parenting is writing a story in your life and theirs.

Here’s the thing, it’s not just about the kids. What I want to encourage you with is this. This thing called time is a sneaky thing. While beautiful in the gifts time gives to us in the parenting years, if the time is not held closely and watched with intent, it will slip away.

Your job is hard. Motherhood is hard. Always has been, always will be. What you are creating is a beautiful story. Time fills the pages of this story.

When you stand at a new chapter- graduation, weddings, grandkids- what do you want to fill these pages? What story do you want time to tell?

One day you will have your time back. No one will place their sticky hands on the refrigerator you just polished. No will will spill a bowl of cereal on the freshly mopped floor. No one will be dumping out drawers of freshly folded laundry.

One day the incessant chatter will be no more. The pulling on your skirt will cease. Your aching back and tired arms will be stronger.

I pray for all us mamas, that one day we look back with contentment over how we chose to enter into the hard and holy work and how we managed this short window of time we’ve received as a gift.

Hard and holy work is a gift. Cherish the gift of time, remember it’s here today and gone tomorrow. This very moment will never be again. Make the most of each one.

Love to you!