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Monday, September 1, 2014

That Kid

Know that kid in your group? Whether you’re a children’s or youth minister, Sunday School teacher, Bible study leader, or co-op parent, everyone has had that kid in their class at some point.

 Often that kid  is a boy. A male who just can’t sit still. He wiggles all the time and never follows directions. He’s always too busy cracking jokes or picking fights to listen.

He is your number. one. headache. Yep, you know that kid.

As a parent of that kid, I urge you to show him kindenss. Already reached your limit? Set a new one. That kid deserves it. After all, your treatment of that kid could turn his heart toward or away from God.

Everything is at stake.

Think I’m overselling it?

Maybe, after that kid has once again laughed at all the wrong times and hammed it up for his friends, you really will reach your limit. Then, that kid may go home from your program and in brokeness, as my that kid did, confide, “They’re making me not want to go to church anymore.” Or echo another statement our that kid uttered, “I hate church.”

Truth is, youth and kids’ workers MUST meet each child at the point of the young person’s need.

What to do with that kid? What practical advice is there for the teacher of that kid? First, pray! Ask God to show you the good in that kid. Ask for ideas on how best to reach him. Ask God to make you willing to try new things.

Next, get to know him. Underneath those annoying habits of his is a boy or teen with dreams and interests. Discover what those are! One excellent leaders in our that kid’s life invited him to ride in the front seat with her on a trip. That gave her the chance to find out what was important to him. Next time your group takes a trip, ask that kid to sit in the passenger seat—instead of shooing him to the back of the van.

Another excellent strategy is to give him a special job.  God planted something into the recesses of men—even men-in-the-making—that thrives in having a task to do, a unique purpose. Don’t think of it as rewarding misbehavior. In truth, it is investing in improvement. Our family hunted quite a while to find adults willing to implement this idea. For our that kid, having a purpose, a place to belong and serve, was the turning point in his frustration with attending church.

Remember, God, in His wisdom, created each of us different. Not every boy (or girl) was created with the specifics that cause them to eagerly sit down and shut up. View that kid as a priceless instrument that, when played appropriately, produces beautiful music. (Imagine the foolishness of attempting to pound music from a violin.)

And to all you parents of that kid…

God has a special plan for your that kid. Always be his number one cheerleader, because, often, he will have no others. Don’t let teachers or family convince you that your that kid is a bad kid. Address disrespectful behavior, but encourage the “boyness” that makes that kid who he is.

Lastly, move heaven and earth for your that kid. Do not settle for adults who use church and classroom settings as an excuse to bully your son. There are adults who will show your that kid God’s love, will learn new strategies to teach him. Find them. Even if it means changing churches. Or schools. (Did I mention we decided to homeschool our that kid?) If you can’t find one, be one. Volunteer to teach or to help in his classes.

Then, one day, your son might say what our that kid did just recently, “I think God wants me to be a pastor.”

See? Everything really is at stake.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wanda Brunstetter's "The Healing Quilt"

The Healing Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter voers the continuing story of an Amish couple, Emma and Lamar, who have relocated to Florida. Once the couple decides to offer a quilting class, Brunstetter attempts to unfold their stories as well.

There are several flaws in this book. One of them is the sheer number of characters. Delving into the lives of seven students and their families, plus a visiting firend and his daughter, proves to be too much ground to cover. The author is unable to develop each character enough for readers to care about their situations.

Included in the book is plenty of Florida sand, citrus, and sun-soaked beachers. Readers will enjoy this troical locale for a time, but not long. Readers love all thing Amish for the simpler life depicted, the traditions—so different, and the sense of community. None of which make an appearance in the book, leaving it devoid of nearly all Amish flavor.

Brunstetter’s dialogue feels stilted and her word choices formal. Some examples are the use expressions like “shall we” and a teenage girl describing an event as being “a merry chase.” As a result, conversations between characters seems forced and fake.

Readers looking for a swiftly moving plot, believable dialogue, and likeable characters will be disappointed if they attempt to slog though Brunstetter’s almost-Amish The Healing Quilt.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Shaiton’s Fire Sizzles

Jake Thoene is a masterful storyteller with the ability to weave a plot that snatches the reader in and holds them until the last page flips. Shaiton’s Fire is no different. The book is the tale of a country under attack from terrorism and chronicles the efforts of those who must thwart it. With a combination of suspense and full-throttle excitement, Thoene offers a must-read.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thrill Rides

Anyone else feel parenting is similar to riding a ninety mile an hour roller coaster where you try to recognize and grab teachable moments before you are onto something else? If so, welcome to our thrill ride!

Up next on our roller coaster journey is Legalism Curve and it can really throw you for a loop. (Too much?) Anyway…

Honestly, our family has a lot of rules. We’re very particular about what we listen to and participate in and watch. Our kids says that we’re over-protective and, of course, they’re right. There is just so much out there to say “no” to. Often, though, we get caught thinking that rules equal Godliness and that is not always the case.

This tendency became painfully important to our family when one of the kiddos told me, “I don’t want to have TOO much God.” I responded quickly that you could never get too much God. As the conversation continued, I realized my son was equating Godliness with legalism. A friend of his is very legalistic and follows –gasp—more rules that we do! In my son’s mind loving God meant following every rule known to man…and then some!  He wanted no part of that.

I began trying to explain my position while sprinkling in liberal amounts of grace. For example, I say to my son that Dad and I have decided that our family will not watch movies that are rated R. Mature videos games are also out. We believe that when you sew violence, immodesty, and vulgarity into your life that is what you reap. However, not all Christians follow this. That is between them and God. We have to answer for our choices. They have to answer for their’s.

I further explained that this room-for-gray method does not apply to all life decisions. In instances where the Bible clearly depicts an action or decision as being sin, Christians must also call those things sin.

We’ve been memorizing James 1:27 for the perspective it gives on who God sees as holy. “Here are the kinds of beliefs that God our Father accepts as pure. When widows and orphans are in trouble, take care of them. And keep yourselves from being polluted by the world.”

Matthew 23 finds Jesus passionately speaking on this same topic. He accuses the religious leaders of slamming heaven’s door in people’s faces with their fake righteousness. Matthew 23:25 says in part, “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside (you) are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Jesus also likens them to white-painted tombs—pretty on the outside, but full of decay inside.

The concept of legalism can be difficult to distill into child-sized nuggets. Still, we must do it. It is imperative that we teach our children not to heap a religion of do’s and don’t’s on themselves or on others. Perhaps, as parents, the first step is to evaluate our own beliefs and see which are clearly Biblical and which one we have scripted in ourselves.

Remember that extra bulk equals weight. Heavy loads can crush our children and their faith—a nd even their friends’—beneath a load of good intentions. 

Jesus’ words still resonate: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What Mothers of Boys Want Girls to Know

** I added another one to the bottom! See #7!

Several years ago, I started thinking about the things I thought girls needed to learn. At the time, I had only boys and thought I could offer interesting perspective. Kinda of a “what mothers of boys wish girls knew” manifesto.  Now that I have a little girl as well, we’ve been adding to our list of things we want to teach her as she gets older. Here are the top things that I feel every girl should know.


1.       Love Jesus.

2.       Learn to enjoy frivolous things without becoming  someone consumed by frivolity.  (Hair, make up, shoes, clothes, glitz, and glamour are fun to enjoy, but when all-consuming are just another idol.)

3.    Only advertise what is on sale. (For example, I spoke with a young woman who was dressed in a very low cut top. While we were speaking, a man came up to flirt with her. I could tell by her response that his advances were unwelcome. She later implied that she didn’t know why men kept behaving in this way. Unwittingly, she had hung an AVAILABLE sign on herself. Men are very visual—we’ve heard that before.  God made them that way! Just remember to dress in a way that offers the merchandise you actually want to offer. If it ain’t for sale…don’t advertise it!) *Mothers, start this practice while your daughter is a baby! Don’t dress her like a prostitute now and be surprised when she continues the trend as a teen!

4.     Modesty isn’t just for clothes. The most attractive woman is one who has a sweet spirit. Cultivate compassion. Learn to not seek the attention of others.

5.     Shake hands. This one is practical and concrete. Please remember that boys struggle with things, just like girls do. Cut guys a break every now and then. They have enough trouble concentrating when girls are around without you snuggling up to them! Greet your male friends with a hand shake or a high five. Skip the hugs—even if you don’t like them “in that way."
6.   Love Jesus. Place yourself under Godly authority. Seek Him with all your heart. (Sure, it's the same as the first, but it is worth repeating!)

7. Be careful who you spend time with. You will carry a part of them with you...forever.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Worth it All: The Lesson I Learned from College Bound Monsters

Spoiler Warning: Due to my being something of a ditz and having a serious case of Mommy Brain, this post may take a circuitous route from point A to point B. Stick with it, though, I promise—it’ll be worth it!

I took my first grader to see Monster’s Inc.  Just the two of us! (We enjoyed getting to spend time together, but we not the movie. It was blah at best and a bore fest at worst. I was expecting it to be, you know, funny like Despicable Me 2. Love those Minions! It was not. It really wasn’t. As in I’ll-never-get-those-two-hours-back kind of not funny.)

Okay, I’m off that sidetrack, but I can’t promise it’ll be the last one. Remember, you were warned!

One good thing did happen in the movie!

The only one, if you ask me.

The Holy Spirit brought a verse to my mind.

Don’t you love how God can use any vehicle to deliver His message?

Here’s the verse:  Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

I felt led to apply this verse a bit more , uh, generously.

(Don’t worry , I already spoke with my hubby who won’t stomach  straying from the Word’s original intent and he agreed that what I’m about to tell you is in line with the spirit of what Paul wrote. Of course, I sprung it on him late one evening and he may have just agreed with me so I’d let him sleep.)

Here it is: Paul is writing to Timothy to encourage him. To encourage him, despite his situation, to still be an example of Christ. To still do what God had called him to do in ministry and in everyday life.

Don’t let people look down on you. Even if you are young. Even if you are old. Even if you are carrying around an extra ten pounds. Or one hundred. Don’t let people look down on you when your child has turned from the faith. Or your spouse from your arms.  Don’t let people look down on you as you recover from your own bad choices. Or if you’re struggling to … (fill in the blank!)

You can still be an example for others. You keep clinging to the Lord. Keep living your faith. It’s going to be worth it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Boxes are nice. They’re cube-ish with all those pointy corners. That delightful shade of cardboard brown. They are so sturdy. And just the right size for storing whatever we put inside. Like out of season clothes, clutter, gifts. Or God.

 Sometimes, though, we find ourselves breathlessly at a precipice, toes just off the edge. We attempt to scramble backward toward solid ground while crying out, “Father, if you do not intervene—all is lost!” In this moment, realization screams through our consciousness. We need more. More than cardboard. More than corners. We need more than a fits-in-the-box God.

Perhaps we’re a little afraid of the concept of “more.” What if we find that God is no larger than our box? No greater than our previous encounters with Him? What if He is only “fun-sized”?

 His Word says He is more than we can imagine. History reports this as well. Old Testament to current texts record moves of God that are more than we’ve ever known. Previous generations detail experiences of people who have seen Him perform miracles and even seen the misty Presence the Israelites followed through their wanderings in the desert. Remember the Mercy seat contained in Moses’ tabernacle and God’s visible presence—the Shekinah Glory—that rested there? All of this is because God desires to be known by His people in a measure that they can’t box up. In a measure that won’t neatly fit under the bed.

 I assure you: there is more of God than room inside our boxes. Moreover, we need more of God than that. Our notions of “just enough” are not remotely enough. We need the fullness of His presence.

Join me in asking for God to do more. More than we’ve seen in the past. More than fits in our box. More than makes us feel comfy. Will you join me in praying Habukuk 3:2?

“Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy.”