Category: parenting

825 Ways to Look Pretty

I recently saw the fall issue of Seventeen Magazine. I used to love looking at that magazine when I was a teen, so I picked it up and looked at the cover. Wow. As I read the article titles printed there, I felt so sad.

“825 Ways to Look Pretty”

“Get Everything You Want This Year: Great Body, Tons of Money,                                                                                                                                                              Amazing Clothes, Mega Confidence”

OH. My. goodness. Could there be a better publication out there to get teenage girls to think only about themselves? Most of them don’t need a lot of help in that category anyway. Getting them to think about anyone else but themselves can be a challenge.

Are there really 825 ways to look pretty? I sat and tried really hard, and I could only come up with eleven. Twelve if you count shapewear, but who wants to count that? I’m convinced that shapewear is a tool of the devil anyway. I’m pretty sure Seventeen Magazine is, too. So Seventeen Magazine thinks everything a girl wants is a great body, tons of money, amazing clothes, and mega confidence. Okay, so that’s what most women want, too, but should we really be promoting that to young girls?

Scripture would have some different things to say to our young ladies.

I think the Lord would say to them that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Our girls should focus on having a healthy body. The focus in Seventeen Magazine is for a girl to have a body that will turn heads, boy’s heads. We really need to tell them to have more respect for themselves than that. They are precious, so precious. They were bought with a price, they have value beyond measure, just the way they are.

I think scripture has a different take on the whole “tons of money” thing, too. 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

The Bible actually has tons to say about money, and none of it has anything to do with anyone desiring to have tons of it being a good thing… take a look at the “Rich Young Ruler” who desired his so much, he couldn’t bear to let go of it…(Mark 10:17-21)

And what about all those amazing clothes

That one strikes a little closer to home for me, because this chick likes a cute outfit or ten. But really, should this be our main focus? Moderation is key. Always. And even better:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

In the end it doesn’t really matter how cute the outfit is if the wearer doesn’t posses that gentle and quiet spirit.

And mega confidence?

Even the Son of God knew he could not do anything without his father. He said, “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30). 

Then in turn, Jesus told us we can do nothing apart from him. He said to his disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (Joh 15:5).

But then says it is through HIM that we can do all things! Philippians 4:13

Having confidence in our God given abilities is definitely something we want for our girls. We must show them that where all those abilities come from is where their confidence should rest. Even the most confident girl will eventually find herself in the company of someone that will challenge her self confidence. If she relies only on herself she will come up short. If she finds her strength in the Lord, she will stand tall even in the company of kings.

I thought about all those girls who would read that magazine and take in all that garbage. We owe our girls more than that. Those are false truths the world tries to pawn off on their precious hearts. Moms, it’s a battle, and we have to be in the fight. We have to be bearers of the truth for the generation of women who will follow us. If not us, then it’ll be Seventeen Magazine.

Parents Need Reinforcements

“Without good direction, people lose their way;
the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Proverbs 11:14

My pastor recently talked about the importance of having good relationships. At one point he said something to the effect of, “The devil puts people into your life just to destroy you.” Those are pretty harsh words, but I’ll bet you can think of one or two people you’ve crossed paths with in your life that would fit that bill.

As a parent, one of the best things we can do for our kids is to help them have good, healthy relationships. So often, we can see far ahead of them, that a person in their life is doing them no good at all. It could be a dating relationship, a friendship, or even a casual acquaintance. When we see these things happening, we set boundaries, forbid relationships, and we argue our position ad nauseum. If your kid is a teenager, you may find you are fighting a losing battle on that front. You will often find, the harder you speak out against a destructive relationship, the harder they will fight for it. So what’s a parent to do?

You need reinforcements.

So where do those reinforcements come from?

For us, they have come from lots of different places. My oldest son had a guitar teacher once named Dan that he thought was so cool. He still does. Dan was about twenty-five and was a worship leader at a local church. He poured great stuff into my son. I didn’t care if Landon ever learned to play the guitar. Dan was telling Landon the same things his dad and I were telling him, only cooler. And Landon listened.

This last week, I attended a meeting at my church concerning an internship my two middle kids will be a part of. During that meeting, I was introduced to eight college kids that are a part of Highlands College at Church of the Highlands. These students will be pouring into my kids this next semester. All of these kids are in their early twenties and have decided to give their lives to the possibility of full time ministry… starting with mentoring my kids. I wanted to hug and kiss them all.

So if you’re having some troubles on the relationship front with your kids, or even if you’re not, here’s a suggestion. Find them a mentor. Pay them if you have to in order to get them to spend time with your kid.

I’m about to get really practical here.

This person should be just a few years older than your kid. Old enough that they have figured a few things out, but no so old that they appear out of touch to your kid. Twenty-five or younger if possible. For Christian parents, you are going to want this person to be a strong believer and Christ follower… but they need to be cool. I cannot stress this enough.

Where can you find such a person? Well, what’s your kid into? Landon wanted to play guitar. It took us a while to get a lesson slot with Dan, but the wait was well worth it. Whatever it is that your kid has an interest in, find that mentor. And it’s never too early to start, either. My youngest son (11) is taking drum lessons from Park who plays drums at his church and who just entered Highlands College. I tell you what, those loud lessons are so worth it! It’s those conversations before and after the lesson with Park that really matter.

As much as my kids are still willing to listen to Matthew and me (for this I am grateful), I know they are seeking counsel from other places. I want to make sure those outside influences are good ones.

I remember about a year ago, there was a young man who was showing quite a bit of interest in my fourteen-year-old daughter. It was getting a bit out of hand. I had tried talking to her, but I could tell she was a bit obsessed with his interest in her. Then one night, one of her mentors (a college student named Abby), brought her home from church. Laura told me she had talked to Abby about this boy on the ride to our house. I asked her what Abby had said.

She told me that Abby told her that she was a prize, and that she was worth far more than what this boy was offering her. And that was it. She was done with him. All it took was a chat from a cool mentor. Abby didn’t say anything I hadn’t said. She just said it …cooler. And my daughter heard her. Abby was my hero.

So if the devil is going to try to put people into our kid’s lives to bring them down, we have to stack the deck against him. And it’s never too early or too late to get started. Don’t fight this battle harder. (Or louder) Rather, fight it smarter. Our kids are worth it.

Parents, Working Ourselves Out of a Job

As my kids grow up and out, I have to learn to let them do things on their own. I’m not really so very good at this as my husband fairly regularly points out. I grew up in a home where my mother just did for us. She literally did everything for my brother and me until the day we moved out on our own. Laundry, cooking, cleaning. She did it all. When it comes to her family, my mother has a servant’s heart. It’s a wonder we don’t still live with her.

She did it out of love and out of a desire for things to be done right. It was mostly just easier to do it herself. I understand this completely. At forty-five, I have made it pretty well. I have had to learn lots of things on my own, but I’m a pretty smart cookie sometimes, and I have figured out that being a great cook (among other things) is not really a requirement. We get by. Thank the Lord for frozen, boxed and canned foods… and for a phone to call my mother to ask her how to do this or that.

Still, I am trying to help my kids along, so that when it is time for them to fly from the nest, they will soar rather than plunge. Case in point: Last week I sent my two oldest children to a new dentist on their own. You would have thought I was sending them up a creek without a paddle when I told them I would not be going with them. But they did just fine. No cavities.

I read somewhere once, that as a parent, if we are doing anything for our children-whether at two or twenty- that they can do for themselves, we are doing them a disservice. Ouch.

Some of us love parenting so much we have forgotten that to be successful at it, we are supposed to work ourselves out of a job.

As Christian parents, we are also charged with teaching our children to lean on their Heavenly Father. While our lives here on earth are finite, it is their Heavenly Father that will go one long after we have said our final goodbyes. We have to teach them to depend less and less on us, and more and more on Him.

As kids growing up, my parents never wanted me or my brother to worry about money. I never knew when there was or wasn’t money in my parent’s bank account. They tell me now of times when things were lean and they didn’t know how they would make it, but I had no idea at the time. They didn’t feel that those kinds of things were something to worry a child over. I can appreciate that they wanted to protect us from that stress, but they also kept something else very important from us as a result.

I depended upon my parents to meet my needs. And they did. I never once wondered where my next meal would come from or if I would have a pillow to lay my head upon at night. They were always there to help me solve problems that came along in my life. What I didn’t get to see was what they did when a problem was too big for them. Where did they go when something too great for even them to handle came along?

Matthew and I try to handle those times a little bit differently. We are not trying to stress our children out, but we want them to know that while mom and dad can fix almost anything, we can’t fix everything, and when those times come, we turn to our Heavenly Father and ask Him for help.

Most of the time, when our kids come to us, we can fix what is broken or advise them how they can best handle a situation. I often tell them, “Mom can fix almost anything.” But on the rare occasion that there is no good earthly solution, we must teach our children to go to their Father in heaven for help. The best way to teach them this lesson is for them to see us doing that very same thing. When problems come that overwhelm us as parents, we don’t always need to go behind closed doors with those problems. Sometimes we need to show them that when there seems to be no answer, we trust that God will make a way.

Children need to know that when they leave the protection and provision of their parents one day, they still have the protection and provision of their Heavenly Father to rely upon. And they learn best when they see that modeled for them in us.