Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oh, Be Careful, Mom and Dad!

Remember that children’s song, “Oh, Be Careful, Little Eyes, What You See?”  It’s a lesson even many parents need to learn when it comes to their children.

While doing research for my book, I discovered a page that was very surprising.  Apparently children are being exposed to pornography through some of the most insidious means I’ve ever heard of. 

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Familymatters.tv says,
 Kids looking for hearts and flowers for their MySpace pages are being subjected without warning to images of porn, drugs, and alcohol. Even more disturbing, many of these explicit images are viewed along side of popular cartoon characters and cute pictures of little animals.
The article goes on to state that:
During a routine survey of web traffic trends, FamilyMatters.tv discovered that one of the most popular web searches was looking for backgrounds, layouts, and graphics to decorate MySpace pages. We entered “myspace backgrounds” in Google and were shocked to find that each of the top 10 sites found by the Google search contained or linked to explicit content.
 Go to http://www.familymatters.tv/level_4/safety/warningtoparents.htm for the full article.  I thought it was excellent.  I’m not against all internet use for children, but we parents need to know what dangers await our children.

I also found a very disturbing thread posted on a horse grooming supplies page.  The question was posed, “Are you a sheltered child?” (The thread is under the section titled, ‘For kids only, on Horse Forums, discuss horses and other topics’  Hmmm…)

Some young people wrote that they are not sheltered at all, while other wrote that they felt sheltered but are trying to sneak around the fences behind their parents’ backs.  The entire atmosphere of the thread is one of irritation, mockery of attempted parental guidance, and smug laughter.  (This is one response word-for-word.)
hahaha. I am extremelly(sp.) sheltered...at least that's what they think. I can watch R rated movie, watch tv shows that(in their opinion) aren't approriate and so on and so on. The thing is...I don't let them know how bad the stuff actually is. I'm not allowed to cuss...sure. I usually don't because I don't want to but I do sometimes, they just don't know. It took me forever and all these safety precations and safety talks until mom let me have a myspace page (lol. I already had one). They are really bad about horses (mainly mom) but they let me ride anyways. I'm almost 17 now but when I was younger things were even worse. http://www.horsegroomingsupplies.com/horse-forums/are-you-a-sheltered-child-80853.html
Now, I must ask, Why is there such a question as, “Are you a sheltered child?” on a horse grooming website??  Questioning authority is expected, to a degree, but to encourage questioning among those who’ve never thought of it is certainly not wise.  The innocuous placement of such a question also shows the dangerous nature of the internet, which has many avenues for young people to stumble upon faith-eroding material.

The many, many interviews I did on second generation Christians who are living for God prove that they were sheltered, and are thankful for it.  In fact, they have embraced the lifestyle of “keeping the world out” and are sheltering their own children.

Arianna, one of my very sheltered respondents who is now teaching in a Christian school, put it this way:
One of the things I feel very strongly about is the importance of sheltering children from harmful influences.  I simply don’t think many people realize how vital it is to protect young people from the manipulation of the Devil. 
(This is an excerpt from my upcoming book.)
Sheltering children is one of the main modes for encouraging the next generation to take up the torch of the Gospel and run with it.  A parent who, either by neglect or on purpose, does not shelter their child sabotages their child's future…unless God intervenes.

Oh, be careful, Mom and Dad, with your kids!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Little Girl Who Shot At Her Sister...

...and what eventually happened to her...

It is very easy to take greatness for granted if you've had a harrowing morning getting the family ready for church.  By the time I arrived at Sunday school that morning and flopped into my seat, I thought greatness was just making sure my son had both shoes on…and that they both matched!

I was surprised to find that there was a missionary at church that day.  When she was introduced to the class, she glanced easily about the room and seemed to take us all in.

A young lady standing up in front of the adult Sunday school class in a fundamental Baptist church is very unusual, but she seemed to take it all in stride.  Tracy Marks, single missionary to Africa, was telling her story.

“I was raised in a hunter’s home,” she began.  I sensed even the male varieties amongst us were eager to hear more.  “My Dad was a big hunter, and there were lots of weapons in our house.  He took the time to teach each of us the importance of respecting the weapons, so that by the time we were four years old, we were allowed to have our own bow and arrow, as long as we didn’t shoot each other!”  A ripple of laughter gently waved through the listeners.

One day when I was four, I got angry with my sister, and I shot the arrow at her!  I didn’t hit her, but I sure did get in trouble.  So what happens when you do something wrong in a Christian home?  I got a spanking! 

“As I was lying in my bed, crying, suddenly everything my parents and Sunday School teacher had been trying to tell me all came together, and I realized I was a sinner.  So, on my bed, I stopped crying and prayed and asked the Lord to forgive me of my sins.”

Tracy smiled and continued, “So, parents and grandparents…you keep doing what you know is right!  You never know – someday it may lead to your children’s salvation!

I glanced at my children sitting by me in church and wondered if one of them could be a future missionary.  Surely in the midst of tousled hair, madness and mayhem, there was the seed bed for greatness.  Why, if arrows can fly and still missionaries can come from it, then I know that God can use us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

40,000 Words and Counting!

The other day, I passed the 40,000 word mark on my book! That means either I’m terribly verbose, or it’s just loaded with good stuff! I prefer to think the latter, but I suspect I have some whittling to do before this hits the press.

For those of you who don’t know, I am working on a book about Second Generation Christians, interviewing those that are living for God to discover what their parents did right. This is the main reason why I’ve not been blogging much within the past six to eight months.

Sometimes, however, I find some nuggets that simply will not fit in the book. After all, it’s at least 40,000 words long already, and it’s not done yet. So, this blog is going to get some of the spillovers, the things that can’t fit, but are still really good.

Thank you for your patience, and please continue to pray that the Lord will give me wisdom. I feel that the information I’ve been finding is extremely vital for our day, and can help a LOT of young families who want to raise their children to serve the Lord.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Age Has Its Advantages!

Ever feel old? I know I’m only forty--not-going-to-tell-you years old, but sometime I feel as if age is catching up with me. Actually, not sometimes…more often than not! Sometimes it's hard to believe that I actually have three adult children and two grandchildren! All of my family are the joy of my heart. 

Being older (notice I said oldER) means that I have many years to reflect on. The formative year of my family were highly influenced by many good books, and I thank God for them!


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When I began my family twenty-five years ago, one of the most influential books I ever read – even to this time – is What the Bible Says About Child Training, by J. Richard Fugate. (Of course, when I got a hold of it, it was the older version, and a new edition has since been published. Looking at it online, however, it appears as though the newer version does not have any additions to it.)

The book is full of foundational principles for young families, and also some good advice for parents with older children. The Scriptural principles laid out in this book are indisputable, and are Biblically sound. It was very helpful then, and it is just as helpful today.

One of the principles that has helped me over the years which is explained fully in the book is what I call the Crossover Principle. It is the time in a child’s life when the power of the parent is no longer that of control, but that of influence. When they are young, we need to control them, but as they get older, the need for our control lessens. They are more able to operate on their own. But as they get older, their need for developing a good relationship with us -- and thereby increasing our scope of our influence in their lives -- increases. This principle alone has spurred me to try to develop good relationships with my children. Now, as my children call me from their homes in other states, they seek my approval and advice. What a good feeling to know that they care!

So, I can say that age has its advantages! With many years of memories behind me, I see the importance of foundational truths when we are young. Then when we are grannies, we can enjoy the blessings! And oh, how wonderful those little blessings are!! :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Writer's Shocker

“Children, I hate to have to tell you this,” the old servant began, “but your parents are gone – they died in an awful fire earlier today. And there’s no need to go home. You have no home anymore either. I’m here to take you to your Uncle Olav,” he said sadly.

“Not Uncle Olav!” the children screamed. And with that, the young people were plunged into one disaster after another. All Uncle Olav wanted was their money, and not long after they went to live with their nice cousin Boris, he died in a car accident. Living with Aunt Sylvia became almost like home, until she committed suicide. Each time the kids had a good situation, it seemed that something awful happened.

Now, how would you like to read a story like that? How would you like your children to read a story like that?

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That is the story line of the very popular eight-book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” It is what people read nowadays. But I wonder…Why do all the parents in these stories die, anyway? And the ones that survive seem to act like ignorant morons, always getting in the way.

If someone came up to me and slapped me across the face, I don’t think I would have been more shocked than I was the other day. What I read in the current issue of a major writer’s magazine came as a complete surprise.

There is an article in the magazine about writing stories for children. In this article, they give tips and tricks to develop vivid characters, an unforgettable plot, and a riveting climax. It really has some good ideas. But in the article titled, “How to Avoid Parenting Your Characters,” I find several disturbing things. The first bold heading under the title is, “LOSE THE PARENTS TO ADVANCE THE PLOT. Then it goes on to say,

The No. 1 parenting problem that characters face is adults, usually parents, who stop the fun and solve all of the problems instead of letting the characters get into trouble and then get back out again. The solution is obvious: Get mom and dad out of the way.”

And then a bit further, we read,

From the Boxcar Children to Harry Potter, there is a long tradition of killing off mom and dad to get the story underway….If burying mom and dad doesn’t work for your story, there are other ways to get them out of the way. Adults, both real and imagined, are wonderfully self-absorbed and don’t always notice what is going on under their own noses.”

In other words, keep mom and dad so busy with their own lives that the children are on their own. Does this remind anyone else of a Scripture? “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

But wait! This gets better…or worse! The next bold heading is, "USE ADULT CHARACTERS AS OBSTACLES." The article continues:

If you simply cannot get the parents out of your story, then make good use of them… adults can be a great device to mix up the lives of young characters. [A juvenile fiction writer says,] “I do sometimes have older characters give misguided advice to younger characters,” she says. “That way rather than solving problems, the adults complicate them.”

How about the attitudes of the young people themselves?

“Allowing my characters to do a little bit of rebellious sneaking around helps me keep parents out of the way,” [the writer is quoted].

Folks, this is from the current issue of a major writer’s magazine. It is how we writers are taught to create compelling fiction for young people in our modern society.

I used to think that it just happened to be that children ran about by themselves all the time in juvenile fiction, but now I see that it’s a purposeful effort on the behalf of publishers (and writers) to literally get adults out of the way or use them as obstacles in the young people’s lives!

Here are just a few of the Scriptures that come to mind:

Ephesians 6:1-2a “Children, obey your parents, for this is right. Honor thy father and thy mother…”

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 5:1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:

Proverbs 4:20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.

Does this bother anyone else, or am I the only one this raises a red flag with?! Think twice before you allow your child to bring home from the library some juvenile fiction that is written by an unsaved author. They might wish you would jump out the window someday! :/

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Paramedic

I’ve always wanted to do something to help people.

Sensing I lacked confidence as a young child, my older sister went to great - and quite comical, I might add - lengths to help bolster my self-assurance. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she planned a number of strange “accidents” so that I could rescue her from certain doom.

One time, we were riding our bikes through the neighborhood, when she slowed down, pulled closer to the curb, and then suddenly flung herself off her bike and into the grass! Rolling a few times, she yelled, “Oh! Lis! Help! Help!”

Instantly becoming the paramedic, I swung the bike around, raced to her side and quickly examined her for broken bones. Within a few minutes, I had my patient up and about, and carefully helped her back home, where I got her all comfortable on the couch. Her gratefulness was almost without bounds, and later, she rewarded me with one of the most precious awards I ever got: a foil-covered cardboard trophy! It gave me the confidence I
needed throughout the years ahead.

Throughout the years, the Lord has enabled me to meet many, many people. Lots of the folks I have met are very precious believers who have successfully trained their children to serve the Lord. These people are now grandparents, and today their children are training their own children in the way of the Lord.

Now, I’ve heard it said that the greatest proof of your parenting is not how your children turn out, but how your children are training their own children! In other words, we know we have passed on our godly values only inasmuch as our children have embraced them and are passing them on to the next generation.

My desire is to help young parents have concrete methods based on the evidence of the scriptures and proof of experience. The positive experiences of those that have successfully trained godly young people holds more weight than any opinion in the world. You may have your opinion; I’ll take the proven method.

I’ve always wanted to do something to help people.
But instead of being a bike-riding paramedic, the Lord has given me many stories of godly parents to tell.

So, young parents, fear not! The older generation will tell their godly parenting secrets.

Stay tuned.