Saturday, January 14, 2012

Boys Will Be Boys

It’s a phrase you can’t help but hear all the time as a mom of young kids. It’s used when laughing about mud-covered faces. It’s said to explain away a surprisingly loud crash in the playroom. But lately I find it’s uttered all too often to excuse mean, aggressive behavior.

For instance, the other day I took my kids to our local mall playplace. Two young boys were grabbing my kids’ toys and taunting them. Really taunting them. I watched as one little rodent persistently pushed my two-year-old onto the ground. Rather than reprimanding her boys, the mother gave me a knowing look and shrugged as if to say, “You have boys, you understand.” And I do.

I love being a mom of boys. But boys get feisty. (I’ve got a crooked nose and my hubby has got a few knots on the forehead to prove it.)

And moms get tired. (I’ve got the dark circles to prove that.)

But as parents, I think it’s up to us to channel that boyish energy into positive outlets. It’s our job to take these excitable little boys and raise them into respectable—and respectful—young men. Because, let’s face it, while a bad boy may have seemed intriguing, a good guy is who we want our daughters to marry and our grandkids (gulp!) to look up to.

So because boys will be men, I promise I will do everything I can to teach my sons:

• Trust is like the greatest of all Lego towers. It takes time and effort to build, but mere seconds to destroy.

• Superheroes don’t get their power from their muscles alone, but from their intentions.

• There are few things as rewarding as a sense of humor when it’s used to laugh with people, not at them.

• It takes hard work to be a great player, but harder work to be a team player.

• Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

• When chosen carefully, words can be far more powerful than fists, sticks and, yes, even light sabers.

• Get your hands dirty and your dishes/clothes/rooms clean.

• Use curiosity to get into things and creativity to get out of them. (Yep, just like George.)

• Princesses don’t need a prince to save them, but to dance with them. (And listen to them.)

No doubt my boys will break a few valuables, bones and maybe even hearts along the way. But if I can help it—and I believe I can—it won’t be because they didn’t know better.

Why today's young adults leave the church


Many say they find the church judgmental, unwelcoming or irrelevant.

Tonisha Greer, 31, grew up in church. As she went out on her own, God was still important in her life.

Church, not so much.

The single Kansas City, Kan., mother says church focused more on tradition and people telling young people: “You shouldn’t do this.” “When we were your age we didn’t do that.” “You have to dress like this when you come to church.”
“Older members try to push their religion on you,” she says. “But you have to find your own relationship with God and know who he is for yourself.

“You don’t want to be judged when you walk in the church. You want to feel God.”

Although Greer visits churches, she says she’d rather stay home and have her own relationship with God.  To get young adults in church, she says, it needs to make them feel welcome, be more open-minded and accept those living worldly lives.

The Barna Group, a Christian polling company based in California, spent five years studying why young Christians like Greer leave church. Teenagers, young adults, parents, youth pastors and senior pastors were interviewed.
The study of young adults focused on those who had been regular churchgoers and then disconnected from the church in their later teen years. It revealed that almost 3 out of every 5 young Christians (59 percent) left permanently or for an extended period of time after age 15.
Researchers found six reasons young adults leave church:
•  Churches seem overprotective: Teens and young adults want their faith to connect to the world, but one quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said that Christians “demonize everything outside the church,” that the church ignores the problems of the real world (22 percent) and that “my church is too concerned that movies, music and video games are harmful” (18 percent).
•  Teens’ and young adults’ experience of Christianity is shallow: Many said something was lacking in their church experience: “it’s boring”; “it’s not relevant to my career or interests”; “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” and “God seems missing from my church experience.”
•  Churches come across as antagonistic to science: Three out of 10 young adults said “churches are out of step with the scientific world” and “Christianity is anti-science” and 23 percent said they have been turned off by the creation versus evolution debate.
•  Their church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic and judgmental: Many young adults struggle with how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers. Among Catholics, 40 percent of young adults said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.”
•  They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity: Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance, and they want to find common ground with people who are different from themselves. Three out of 10 young Christians said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths,” and 22 percent said the “church is like a country club, only for insiders.”
•  The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt: Young Christian adults say the church does not allow them to express doubts. This includes “not being able to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36 percent) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23 percent).
Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says the number of churchgoing young adults has been low for a long time, but fewer are coming back than in previous generations.
“A lot of young adults come back when they marry,” he says. “But they are not marrying as young and not having children as young as they used to. If they have children when in their mid-30s, that’s a longer time before coming back, and it’s harder to come back.”
When they do return, they tend to go to evangelical churches, which generally have a younger average age than mainline churches, or they gravitate to those churches that specialize in reaching the youth crowd.
Ben Avila, who worked nine years with young adults at Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City, says the church tends to rely heavily on programs, but young adults don’t want programs. They want community with one another.
“In the world, people crave the latest fad, but when they go to church they want something to meet the longings of their hearts,” he says. “They want to know that God is real.
“The college-age group is independent. They have so much at their fingertips. They are saying, ‘Give me what’s real.’ ”
The Rev. Michael Brooks, pastor of Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, says many people in his generation between 45 and 60 years old are the parents of these young adults.
Many middle-agers rebelled against the church, their parents and authority in their youth, he says, some of them after they found out that some church leaders were not living a Christian life. But many still believed in God.
Now, churches need to deal with that middle-aged group.
“Many (middle-age people) are coming back to church, but they are not bringing their kids and grandkids. Fixing the family is the key,” Brooks says.
“When the middle-age group left the church in their youth they had a free-for-all and did it in front of their kids. The kids need to see a change in (their parents) and a deeper commitment when they return to church. They need to see them living the Christian life.”
To minister to young adults, the church has to be welcoming and friendly.
“Their experience when they come to church makes a difference,” he says.
The Protestant church has a mostly older membership, says the Rev. Karen Nyhart, associate minister of Old Mission United Methodist Church in Fairway. Many young adults don’t feel a bond; they say this is my mother’s church or my grandmother’s church, she says.
And when young adults do return to church, the church often doesn’t get them involved.
“We forget they have a lot to bring to the table, and they are not included,” Nyhart says. “When we have a project, we usually think of people who have always done it.
“We need to look for people who want to get to know them, to plug them into the life of the church. Action-oriented ministries are important to them.
“We should ask them what they want. A lot of times we plan things for them that they may not be interested in.”
One ministry that has seen success is the contemporary worship service at 9:45 a.m.
“Teens and young adults go to that service,” she says. “It’s a casual atmosphere; people can wear jeans and T-shirts, and no one looks down on them. A discussion time is part of the service, so people can say what they feel.”
Tim Volk, director of youth ministry at St. Therese Catholic Church in Parkville, says it is important for the youth to get involved in a strong youth ministry when they go to college. Then there is less falling away from the church, he says.
“But if they don’t get in such a group, their faith often is put on the back burner,” he says. “The next time you see them may be when they come home for a break and then when they get married.
“Ideally, there needs to be a full-time ministry that will help support the high school ministry and a young adult ministry,” he says. “A lot has to do with staying connected with them.”
To reach Helen Gray, call 816-234-4446 or email
Posted on Fri, Jan. 13, 2012 09:42 PM

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Learning How to Love

The Art of Learning How to Love

by Joyce Meyer - posted August 15, 2008
No matter how long you may live, you'll never stop learning. Every minute of every day brings new opportunities to learn something we've never known before. As long as we're open to receive, God will continue to teach us every day.

I'm still learning, and I know I always will be. What God teaches me every day about love continues to change my life. I've come to the place where I can honestly say, "Lord, eliminate everything in my life that's holding me back. Please take away anything that's keeping me from walking in love and finding true fulfillment in my life." In other words, "Lord, reduce me to love—bring me to a state or condition of walking in love completely!"

One of the most important facets I've learned about love is unselfishness, which is characterized in the Bible as a willingness to sacrifice one's own wishes for those of others. I've learned that true love will always adapt and adjust to the needs and desires of other people.

It's impossible for people who've truly been reduced to love to be selfish. God has taught them how to be totally adaptable and adjustable to others. Selfish people, on the other hand, have hard hearts. It's very difficult for them to learn anything—especially if it involves self-sacrifice. They expect everyone else to adjust to them and their needs. They simply don't know how to adjust to others without becoming angry or upset.
Learning to adapt and adjust to the needs and desires of others was very difficult for me. To be honest, I wanted my way, and I got upset when I didn't get it. I was selfish! I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it! I couldn't stand having to wait on someone else or bending my own wishes to accommodate someone else's timetable.

But God began to soften my heart, and gradually I learned to see the needs of others. Then God gave me compassion—the heartfelt desire to meet the needs of others first before my own.

Slowly, I became committed to walking in love. I learned to adapt my own needs and desires in order to help meet the needs of others. I learned how to show love in different ways to different people. Not all people need the same thing from us. One of our children, for example, may need more of our personal time than the others. One of our friends may need more encouragement on a regular basis than another.  For example, all of my family members need me, my employees need me, my friends need me—and they all need me in different ways.

Do I ever feel too needed? Of course! We all feel overwhelmed from time to time. But I remind myself that God gives me grace for whatever He places in my life, and I'm fortunate to be loved and needed by so many.

If I ever get weary of always trying to be available to meet the needs of others, I remind myself of all the years I lived in selfishness and how unhappy I was. Now I'm just making up for lost time! When I think on this, it doesn't take long for me to adjust my attitude. After all, just telling people "I love you" is not enough. We need to go beyond the words and actually do something to help meet their needs.

My husband, Dave, loves to play golf, so I try to make sure our schedule gives him opportunities to play. But there was a time when it angered me for him to play golf. I was miserable because I hadn't learned to adjust to his needs or desires. I wanted him to make all the adjustments.

I never acknowledged the many ways in which Dave adjusted to my needs. I never saw what he did do—only what he didn't—and it was ruining our relationship. I'm glad that I've learned to adapt and adjust. It was a little hard on me for a while, but it saved our marriage.

Once you've been reduced to love, you'll have no trouble establishing and maintaining good, healthy relationships with others. Your primary goal in life will be to put the wishes of others before your own. You'll learn that true love is all about sacrifice and selfishness will be a thing of the past.

This article is taken from Joyce's audio teaching, Walking in Love.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Conversation Starters

I received this great list of Conversation Starters from the All Pro Dads website (subscribe your husband to this weekly email, it's great!). I am thinking this will be a great little "Get to Know You" game for our family, for the road trip we have planned this summer!

Kid Conversation Starters By:
Family First Printer Friendly Version

When are you (or have been) most afraid?

What has been the happiest day of your life?

If you could change one thing in the world what would you change?

If you could change one thing about yourself what would you change?

How long should a couple date before they get married?

What does "being in love" mean?

What is the most important thing in your life?

What is the one thing you couldn't live without?

What is your favorite movie of all time? Why?

What is your favorite book of all time? Why?

What cartoon character would you most like to be?

What is the hardest thing about being _____ years old?

What is the best thing about being ______ years old?

Describe your perfect day.

What job would you never want to have?

Who is your best friend? Why are they your best friend?

Would you rather dive from a high cliff into the ocean, or give a book report in front of 500 kids?

What's your favorite car and why?

Who would you most like to meet?

In what other country would you most like to live?

What things don't boys understand about girls?

What things don't girls understand about boys?

What's easier, math or English?

How much TV should kids your age be allowed to watch each week?

At what age should a child be allowed to see a PG-13 movie? An R movie?

Why do you think people use curse words?

When was the last time you cried? What did you cry about?

Are you looking forward to the next school year?

What's the hardest part about going to school?

What should a parent do when their children don't obey?

If you could have any animal as a pet which would you choose?

Would you like to hear your parents to tell you they love you more often?

What embarrasses you the most?

Is it ever OK to call someone names?

If you could take a family vacation any place in the world, where would you go?

How would you describe God?

Do you think it's more important to be rich, or to be kind?

If you had three wishes, what would they be? (You're not allowed to wish for money or another wish!)

How many children would you like to have one day?

If you were the parent, what lesson would you like to help your mom and dad learn?

Do you know how much your family loves you? How can you tell?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Navigating the Teenage Years, by Chris Groff

Parenting teenagers can be challenging! In fact, most parents say these years are the most difficult.It’s not hard to see why! These years take our kids through an emotional, hormonal, and biological overhaul. In addition, teens begin to see their parents' flaws and realize they’re not perfect. They want to try handling things on their own and see if what their parents taught them is really true. In the process, they start to break away and test the boundaries. After years of relative compliance, many parents take this desire for independence personally. They may ask, "What happened to the child who looked up to me and enjoyed spending time with me?" What happened is the individuation process! Individuation is a normal and needed transition. Why? Because God created each of us as unique individuals. This applies to our kids’ faith as well. We cannot have a relationship with God on our kids' behalf. Faith becomes personal as our kids discover who they are and what they believe apart from mom and dad. As our kids try on different "hats" to see which ones fit, parents need to set secure boundaries for them and listen empathetically as they work through the challenges of becoming an adult. The job of parenting teenagers requires us to trade control for influence, and to walk beside them as they make bigger and more significant choices. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate the teenage years. 1.Prepare. When parents understand the developmental changes that are occurring during these years, they are less likely to take their teen’s behavior personally and are better able to be a calm, strong, and empathetic authority. An excellent article on teenage brain development is "Please Excuse the Mess" by Michael Valpy. ( 2.Don’t fear the struggles. James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Kids need challenges to mature. In a lot of cases these struggles are gifts from God, and parents can do more good by walking beside their kids as they struggle than they can by rescuing them or providing comprehensive instruction. You should provide only as much help as your kids really need to solve the problem on their own. Teaching your child problem-solving skills is a big part of your job! 3.Adjust your expectations. Your kids are not going to be responsible decision makers overnight. Give them the time and space to learn from their mistakes. When necessary, use consequences to reinforce your value system, but deliver them with empathy. It may help to remember what it was like when you were a teenager. In other words, walk in their shoes! 4.Trust God. As parents, we must focus on helping our kids become the people God created them to be, rather than the people our culture may be telling them to become. Avoid the "success trap" by adopting God’s idea of success and an eternal perspective.5.Make authenticity a priority. Too often, we act differently in public than we do in private. If we want our kids to be authentic, we need to be authentic. This begins with admitting our failures and mistakes and asking for forgiveness. Children typically ignore much of what we say if it’s contrary to what we do!
Chris Groff

Friday, October 17, 2008

MOTTS Meeting

Who is ready for a MOTTs meeting? Can't believe we haven't done one yet, this school year!!!

Email me and tell me WHICH WEEKDAY MORNING is best for you. I'll get something set up within the next 2 weeks, and will email you when we have the date confirmed. We will meet at Marilu's house this time, very close to school!

email address:

Praying God's blessings on you and your family today!!

Love, Vickie

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Help Your Teen Work Through Anger
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Uh-oh, you've got an angry kid on your hands, and you're feeling frustrated and confused. You might be close to anger yourself. At times, you may be afraid of your child's anger. You may even be afraid of your child. Keep in mind that teens can learn everything that an adult can about coping with anger.

Anger is a normal emotion. We all feel it sometimes. Learning to manage it is a normal part of growing up, and you, as a parent, are in the best position to help your son or daughter manage their anger.

Anger as a symptom
Anger can be a wonderful emotion. It lets us know that something is wrong. It helps us know when our buttons are being pushed, our values are not being respected, or our boundaries are being crossed. But unresolved anger can make you physically sick, or show up later as a chronic anger problem. Often, people find a way of not feeling the anger: they may get depressed, or use drugs or alcohol, or take up habits like gambling.

Anger is usually a symptom of other underlying emotions. Before people get angry, they have other feelings that are the actual root of their anger: irritation, frustration, fear, dislike.
For example, suppose your daughter discovers the whole class knows she has a crush on a certain boy - and the information came from her best friend. She feels several emotions. Loss: "Now he'll be too embarrassed to ask me out." Hurt: "I trusted her and she spilled my secret." Powerlessness: "I wish I had never told her, but I can't 'unsay' it now, or erase it from everyone's memory." She becomes angry at her friend, not just because of what the friend did, but also because of the consequences to her.

Your daughter will need to deal with all of these feelings at some time in her life. Anger masks the overwhelming combination of these feelings. If you can help her face them, you can help her understand where anger comes from, and help her deal with other situations that make her angry. You can empower her by helping her understand and control her emotions.

Angry thoughts, feelings, actions
The emotion of anger involves thought, feeling, and action. Change any of these and you can take control of anger. For example, when your child does not come home in time for supper, the way you choose to see his behaviour (the thought) will determine how you will feel.

You might think: "That kid doesn't care about the family. He's abused a privilege again." Such thoughts leave you feeling used and not respected. When your son walks in 35 minutes later, the earlier feelings become anger, and you may blow up, shouting things that you don't really mean. The thought drives the feeling, which drives the action.

What if you thought: "This is normal behaviour. All kids will push the boundaries when they're having fun and they've got a curfew?" You might feel frustrated, but you would know that teaching kids to respect the rules is a normal chore that every parent must do, not an injustice visited on you by your particular child. When your kid comes home, you will be asking yourself, "What's the best way to get him to do what the family needs him to do?" You will be likely to choose a more rational way of behaving, based on what you know about your child.

In the same way, you can help an angry child to find another way of thinking about a frustrating situation. Changing the angry thought prevents angry feelings and angry behaviour. But you can also change the situation by working on the other two aspects of anger.

Angry feelings
The starting point in dealing with angry feelings is to name the feeling. You can say to your child, "I can see why you're angry" without judging her. This helps kids to accept where they are, and helps them to learn to recognize and name their feelings.

The goal here is to get at the underlying feelings, but first your child needs to let go of some of the anger. There are many techniques for doing this. These include exercise, massage, hot baths, deep breathing, prayer, meditation, and soothing music.

Teach kids to express their feelings to others in another form: "When you [action] I feel [name emotion]." The daughter in the example on page one could say to her friend: "When you tell my secrets, I feel hurt." With this kind of statement, called an "I" statement, the speaker takes responsibility for her feelings. Point out to your children that no one else can make them angry; no one can make them feel anything. Tell them: "The only person who can change your feelings is you."

Angry actions
Angry actions include angry words (insults, protests), faces (sulking, frowning, glaring) or deeds (punching, slamming doors). All of these actions can hurt others. If kids can learn to pause before they act out anger, they have the chance to examine their angry thoughts and their underlying feelings without the extra stress of dealing with the consequences of their angry actions.
Angry actions are only necessary when our survival is threatened. Sometimes this means psychological survival. If someone keeps hurting your feelings, and you are not able to stop them in any other way, you may have to use angry words. Teach your kids to make sure that they have had time to think about those words, and that they have made a definite decision to use them because nothing else is available.

Cooling down
Tell your kids that the best thing to do when they're angry is to remove themselves from the situation. It is also the best thing to do when someone else is angry. It is difficult to reason with an angry person, and you can't expect yourself or your kids to make good decisions when angry. You cannot teach your child to handle anger better while she or he is angry.

Within the family, you could choose a cool-down signal (like the "T" used to ask for a time-out in basketball and other team sports). This acknowledges that kids are angry, but gives them some responsibility for controlling their anger. You can then give them the time and space to practise a cooling technique, such as deep breathing or counting to 10.

Teach anger management before anger happens
Every time you help kids to understand why they were angry, you're teaching them to handle their feelings better the next time. Understanding begins with acceptance. Kids can accept their anger while they are feeling it. After they cool down, they can understand it. These are steps that you can use to manage anger:

Admit to yourself that you are angry.
Allow yourself to feel anger, without guilt.
Cool the heat.
Write out what you're angry about, what some of the feelings are behind the anger, and what you know about yourself from this incident.
Make a decision about what you want to do about the situation that made you angry.