A Message to Parents

No, I don’t have kids, but I definitely know lazy parents when I see them.

Don’t lie; I know someone came to mind when you read the heading above.  We all know of lazy parents who don’t discipline their kids.  If you rack your brain and none come to mind, then check yourself, because it may be you! 😛 Yeah, I’m going to be quite brash today, so go ahead and buckle your seat belt for this wild ride of truths that parents in modern society need to hear.

Truth 1: Raising a Child Takes a Village… but You Should Be the Tribe Leader, Not the Village Idiot

The old saying of “it takes a village to raise a child” is true in that people besides the child’s biological parents have a hand in helping to raise the child.  Grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, and friends all may play a part in caring for the child; however, because they did not bring the child into the world, they should not have to hold more responsibility for the child than its parents.  I’m a firm believer that if you engage in actions in order to bring a child into the world, then you should step up and take care of said child once they are born.  This means that you should tend to your child (when you’re not working to provide for your family) instead of pawning your child off on their grandparents or someone else.  Now, I’m not against letting Grandma babysit every now and then, but if your kid spends more time at someone else’s house than their own, then there is obviously something wrong.  I know that in many cases in today’s world that either both parents have to work, or the child only has a single parent to take care of them.  Nevertheless, if a parent truly loves their child, they will make time for the child and be their primary caretaker instead of floating the responsibility to someone else.

  “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
-1 Timothy 5:8

1 Timothy 5:8 states that people who do not provide for their own families deny their faith.  At first glance, you may think, “just because I always allow someone else to fix a plate of food for my kid while I scroll through Facebook on my phone doesn’t mean that I’m not a follower of Christ.” And yes, that is somewhat correct; however, God calls parents to be an example for their children (Proverbs 22:6), and to act responsibly (Galatians 6:5).  If a parent chooses to ignore these teachings, then they are not attempting to honor God’s word.  If a parent is not working to honoring God’s word, then they are not exhibiting true faith in God, and therefore neither will their children.

Truth 2:  Children Don’t Learn Respect on Their Own

Just like learning to use the potty, reciting the alphabet, or learning how to read, children need to be taught how to respect people and property.  Being respectful is not a trait that exists inherently in human beings, but one that is learned through watching and interacting with others.  Children have to be taught to share, to take turns, and to be quiet at certain places and times.  Again, the responsibility to teach children these aspects of respect belongs to their parents.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
-Proverbs 22:15

Now, the “rod of correction” mentioned in the Proverb above does not necessarily mean that parents should beat their kids every time they mess up.  Instead, it implies that parents should guide and correct their children whenever they are lead astray or do something wrong.  After being around “new school parents”, let me clarify what I mean by correcting children:

Example:  The child is running around the grocery store, yelling at the top of their lungs.

  • What you should NOT do:  Yell at your child to stop, to knock it off, or to come back.
    • Why?  Simply yelling at your child to stop doing something is basically an empty threat, because your child will eventually figure out that you’re not going to do anything to them about their misbehavior besides asking them to stop it.  Besides, it shows your laziness as a parent to be quite honest.  To be even more honest, you’ll probably provoke the child to yell more if you yell at them, and you’ll end up causing a bigger scene.
  • What you should do:  Approach your child, make them look at you, and tell them how you plan to discipline them face-to-face.
    • Why?  Think back to your childhood:  the scary momma’s-gonna-get-you-face was a lot scarier than when she yelled at you from across the room.  When you approach your child and tell them that there will be consequences for their actions, you have demonstrated to them that they will have consequences whenever they misbehave.  Eventually, depending on the consequences, the child should begin to refrain from misbehaving in that manner.

Another thing, lazy parenting is a huge part of why some kids grow up to be uncontrollable brats.  If you notice, the kids who run around all over the place and never clean up after themselves don’t come from families where the parents actively seek to show their child right from wrong, but from the ones where the parents turn a blind eye to their child’s bad behavior or rely on others to correct their child.  It’s as simple as that.

Truth 3: Raise Them Up to be Followers of Christ

Want to know a fool-proof way to raise your child up to be a well-disciplined, kind, and respectful person?  Raise them to be disciples of Christ.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6

If you raise a child in a house that rarely mentions God’s love, then they will barely know God’s love.  If you raise a child in the ways of the world, they will become like the world.  If you teach a child the love of God and help them develop a love of God’s word, then those teachings will reflect in their daily life.  If a child is full of the love of God, they are not immune from misbehaving; nevertheless, they will have the Holy Spirit to help guide them from bad behavior.  Children learn from watching their parents, so give them something good to watch.

 

Goodnight, and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

Featured image found at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/324540716880536360/

Advertisements

Tips For VBS Planning

As a kid, one thing I looked forward to during the summer was the week my church would have VBS, or Vacation Bible School.  I always loved the different themes and helping my parents decorate the classrooms that they would be teaching in.  Once I got older, however, VBS soon lost its appeal as I had to start helping the adults plan for the week.  Therefore, this week we’re going to talk about some tips that I picked up from experiences of planning for Vacation Bible Schools of years past.

Tip 1:  Decorations Are Nice, But…

Okay, so I know I just said that I enjoyed helping the adults decorate the classrooms for VBS as a kid, but once I got older, I realized that tons of decorations aren’t necessary.  What I mean is that items such as themed posters with the week’s Bible verses on them serve a purpose, whereas a huge blow-up figurine that matches the theme doesn’t, other than looking pretty for the time being.  In years past, I have seen adults so caught up in an effort to make the church look pretty that they end up spending over the allotted budget and focusing more on setting up/maintaining the decorations throughout the week than they do on teaching the students about God.

“And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
-Mark 14:9

Consider the above verse when it mentions “the deceitfulness of riches”.  If we spend more time decorating the church than preparing the lessons for VBS, then we are essentially “choking the word” just like the verse says, meaning that we are overlooking the most important aspect of VBS in favor of something that will only matter for the short term.  So, to recap, decorations are nice as long as they don’t distract us from our main task of making God known to the students.

Tip 2: Let the Kids be Kids

One of the things I came to loathe the most about planning for VBS in the past was the fact that I started helping to plan for VBS and acted as an assistant teacher for some of the classes throughout the week when I was in middle school.  The church I went to at the time was relatively small, and so the adults decided that instead of having middle school/high school classes, that the kids who were currently enrolled in youth group could help teach the other classes.  This arrangement would not have been so bad, except for the fact that there was an adult class, which consisted of adults who regularly attended our church.  Throughout those years, I came to think of VBS as a chore, mostly because I was stuck doing tasks like wrangling up disruptive kids or fetching craft supplies instead of participating in activities and learning more about God.  In my opinion, the spiritually mature adults of the church should be responsible for all of the teaching roles throughout the week, and only attend the adult class if all teaching positions have been filled by others.

“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
-Isaiah 54:13

Based my experiences, I don’t think that the majority of teenagers are mature enough spiritually to teach a class or take on a major leadership role for VBS, simply because a lot of times they are new Christians or have not really focused on God.  Spiritually growth takes place when people are exposed to the word and love of God, and are able to learn from those experiences.  I can’t speak for everyone, but when I was helping out with VBS instead of attending a class myself, the chore-like feeling drew me further away from God, and made me loathe coming back each day.  In reality, I wasn’t even fit to help teach because my relationship with God wasn’t where it should have been.  Therefore, I think that adults who are spiritually mature (have a good relationship with God) should teach the classes, and that churches should allow the youth to enjoy the week by learning about and growing closer to God.

Tip 3:  Worship Rallies Are Not the Christian Equivalent of a Broadway Production

One of the worst experiences I had during the time that the youth group I attended helped with planning and putting VBS into action was preparing for the worship rallies every night.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the worship rallies as a kid, but once I got older, it became a youth group version of American Idol, acting as a showcase for the singers/dancers instead of a time of worship for God.  During one of the last years I served on the VBS committee at my former church, the crowd of kids looked like a mosh pit as the kids in youth group shot small stuffed animals out of a t-shirt cannon into the audience, kids were running all over everywhere screaming, and God was pushed to the back-burner. Afterwards, the preacher offered words of praise for the performers, but spoke little about how God’s love was shown throughout the week.   The entire thing seemed totally backwards in my mind.

“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
-Luke 14:11

One of the major teachings of Christianity is that we should humble ourselves before God and work to serve others.  Contrarily, during events like VBS, our talents are often exalted and God is often left out in the process.  The thing to remember here is that though VBS is meant to be fun and enjoyable, that God should be the center at all times.  If we find ourselves boasting about our singing talents or allowing kids to run rampant through God’s house, stomping on pews and doing so without any acknowledgement of Him, then we need to reexamine why we are having VBS in the first place.

 

In essence, the main tip that I can provide is that we should actively seek to make God known during the week of VBS; all other aspects are vain.  Focus primarily on promoting God’s love and teaching His word, and your VBS will surely be a success.

 

Goodnight and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

Tales of Youth Group Discrimination

Alright guys, today we’re going to have story time!

Brace yourselves… it’s about to get real up in here…

 

Once upon a time, I was an awkward teen.  More accurately, I was a shy, insecure, awkward teen who was apart of my (now former) church’s youth group.  I attended youth group regularly during Sunday school hours and on Wednesday nights, participated in the studies, and helped out with a few fundraisers.  Our youth group was pretty small, with about ten kids at the most, if I’m remembering correctly.  Nevertheless, though our youth group was of little population, it did not prevent cliques from forming.  And naturally, as a result of said cliques, there was an unspoken “coolness” factor that we had to live up to; one, I might add, of which I did not meet the standards.  So, what did the coolness factor consist of?

The Coolness Factor:

  • Attending church camp
  • Attending youth events
  • Attending CCM concerts
  • Being apart of the praise and worship team
  • Listening to all of the contemporary Christian bands

It has already been mentioned that I was a shy, insecure, awkward teen.  I’ve also always been a homebody.  All of those ingredients coupled with the fact that I was never exactly “friends” per say with my fellow youth groupers due to the intimidation factor of the cliques caused me to not participate in most of the youth group outings.  From the time I was old enough to attend church camp, I was afraid of going because (this is going to sound absolutely pathetic, I know) I didn’t know if I could handle things without my parents for an extended period of time.  As for the youth events, though I eventually went to a Winter Jam concert and an event about purity, I was around 16 years old and my sister had since then aged up to join the youth group.  I was never apart of the praise and worship team because, let’s be honest, I can’t sing, and I wasn’t about to pretend like I could.  And, though I do listen to a few CCM artists these days, I hadn’t grown up listening to contemporary Christian music (my family prefers more traditional gospel music).  Therefore, I didn’t know why I should have to start then just to fit in at youth group.

So, what was so wrong with the cliques?

I could have talked to the kids in the youth group if I had really wanted.  The thing was, I didn’t feel welcomed.  Ironically, I had been a member of that particular church longer than the majority of my fellow youth group members, and I was the one who felt completely out-of-the-loop.  All it took was for one youth leader to notice my lack of participation in the youth events to create a bias against me.  This youth leader would constantly interrogate me in front of the others as to why I couldn’t/didn’t want to go to the events, sometimes rendering me speechless.  The kids eventually began to treat me differently; hardly anyone talked to me, while some of the more popular members made fun of me.  The preacher eventually caught on and played favorites with the kids who participated in all of the events, letting them basically do anything they wanted. In hindsight, both I and the other church members were at fault for creating a communication barrier of sorts, going completely against the teachings of the following verse:

 “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous…” -1 Peter 3:8

All in all however, my main problem with the cliques (or youth group discrimination in general), was that though the youth group spent all this time and effort going places to worship outside of the church we attended, we hardly ever spent time studying God’s word during our biweekly meetings.  When I look back at the six years I spent in youth group, the most vivid memories I have involved planning out the details for Vacation Bible School, gathering ideas together for fundraisers, or listening to the rest of the youth group talk about sports teams.  For the most part, our study books and Bibles remained untouched.

The root of the problem with youth group discrimination, as well as all types of discrimination within the church, can be narrowed down to one obvious factor:  if we begin to leave God out, we’ll begin to leave everyone else out too.  Notice before how I said that the youth group I attended rarely ever dug into the Word of God.  I can honestly say that I had no spiritual growth whatsoever during those six years, due to the fact that I grew up within a church that glorified self while setting the Bibles on a shelf somewhere.  You see, there is a distinction between Christians and church members:  Christians will study the Word of God and approach all people in a Christlike manner, whereas church members just seek to perform actions of the church.  Now, I’m not saying that you are not a true Christian if you are an actively involved church member; however, if the actions you perform within the church don’t point to Christ, I’m calling you out dude.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” -1 John 1:7

Any reason we can conjure up for discriminating against someone within the church is a direct reflection of our need to turn our attention back to God.  As Stacy L. Sanchez puts it, “We aren’t called to be like other Christians; We are called to be like Christ.” Therefore, just as we shouldn’t have to conform to the world’s view of what a perfect Christian (which does not exist, by the way) acts like, we shouldn’t discriminate against other Christians who do not act exactly like us.  God created each and every one of us in our own unique way, and as long as we believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, do our best to abide by God’s commandments, and seek to do His Will instead of our own, there should be no room or desire for our own prejudices to take effect.

So, talk to that quiet kid in youth group.  Act as a brother or sister in Christ to the new couple at church.  Actively seek out fellow Christians, and build eachother up instead of building walls.

Goodnight and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

Featured Image found at Google Images | No copyright infringement intended

 

A Letter to High School Seniors

Dear Class of 2016,

First and foremost, congratulations!  I personally feel connected to your graduating class because my younger sister will be graduating from high school this year.  Over the years I have watched her and her friends grow from silly Kindergartners into well-rounded young adults.  Throughout this time I have watched this group of kids share hundreds of laughs and make tons of memories together that I’m sure they will remember for a lifetime.  However, the purpose for this letter today isn’t to give you a sappy monologue about the joys of high school; rather, we’re going to focus on why you should face the end of this chapter with a smile.

The world tells us that our senior year of high school is the most definitive time of our lives, making it seem as if it will be the one flawless year we’ll always look back and smile on.  And sure, for some people, it may possibly be.  Nevertheless, for the overwhelming majority, senior year is a vast portal of unnecessary stress, teenage dramatics, and feelings of inadequacy as kids ready themselves to face the cold, cruel world.

When I graduated from my high school four years ago, I was overjoyed with relief.  From August to June, I completed three A.P. classes, two online college classes, applied for scholarships, watched friendships begin to falter, and honestly I began to despise school.  I would dread going to my first period A.P. English class, where we were tested on the most asinine material.  I cringed every time I earned less than an 80% on tests or quizzes in A.P. Calculus, knowing any chance at a scholarship would be down the drain if my grade plummeted any further.  In fact, I hated school so much during my senior year, that I wrote a song about it.  This is the chorus, which spells out S.E.N.I.O.R.Y.E.A.R.:

Stress

Energy deficiency

No time for anything

I‘m about to scream from insanity

Or fall over and cry

Really does it have to be this hard?

Yeah this is as bad as a broken heart

Everything is coming at me

And I don’t even want to try to

Really believe that senior year is the best year there could be

As you can see, I wanted out. And those lyrics are not some of my best, so please bear with me. XD

Everyone around me had these detailed plans of going to four-year colleges and universities in order to pave the road for their dream career.  It seemed like everyone else but me was receiving scholarships in hefty sums. And there I was, unsure of what kind of career I wanted to pursue until I was filling out a college application and was forced to select something.  Finally after doing a little research, I chose to go to a local community college to earn a couple of Associate’s Degrees in Computer Information Technology, and then transfer to a local university to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems.  I felt good about my decision, and was excited when my friends asked me what my plans were for college.  That is, until I was mocked for opting to go to a community college rather than a state university, and told that the university I wanted to transfer to was for deadbeats.  Yeah, and I’m still talking about my “friends” here.

“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” -Proverbs 19:21

The truth, Class of 2016, is that even if you work as hard as you possibly can at mapping out every minute detail for college, most things aren’t going to turn out like you’ve planned.  The Facebook newsfeed of any high school graduate is an exemplary representation of this truth.   In fact, I only know of a handful of people from my high school who have truly walked the path that they set for themselves senior year. And, as hard as it may be to hear, you’ll probably lose some friends as well.

The reality of senior year, my young readers, is that no matter what plans you make for yourself, God will always be way ahead of you, equipped with better plans than you could ever imagine.  Our Father in Heaven, the Creator of the Universe, has already orchestrated the course of your entire life!  Therefore, you don’t have to bear the burden of life choices; seek God in all that you do, and He will establish His plans for you.

So keep this verse in mind when you feel overwhelmed with thoughts of the future:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
-Isaiah 55:8-9

So don’t worry, guys!  Senior year is just a fragment of your life.  God’s standing by you for an eternity if you accept His everlasting love and allow Him to have His will for your life.  And by the way, a scholarship bought with the blood of Jesus is worth exponentially more in the long run than the one you’re losing your mind over… and Jesus accepts everybody! 😀

Congratulations Class of 2016, and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

 

Image found on Pinterest, no copyright infringement intended.

 

Confessions of a Sheltered Kid

Being born and raised in the Bible Belt, I grew up a little differently than some of the people I’ve met while attending college.  Though I went to public school from grades K-12 and have had friends from loads of different backgrounds, I did not fully realize that other people had different viewpoints and opinions on most matters until I was a freshman in high school.  So, today I’ve compiled a list of Sheltered Kid-isms that will explain why I turned out the way I have:

And why I want to raise my future kids the same way…

I did not know what the word “gay” meant until middle school. 

I have a distinct memory of playing a word game in second grade with a group of my classmates and our teacher’s assistant.  We were coming up with words that rhyme with “day”, or something of the sort, and after everyone had a turn, the assistant wrote down the word “gay”.  This caused a round of giggles to emerge from my classmates, while I sat there absolutely out-of-the-loop on why the word was so funny.  However, the assistant explained that she was using the word in the context of meaning happy, as the word’s original definition states.

Fast-forward to middle school, where just about every controversial subject ends up getting around to all ears, no matter how they were raised.  Somewhere in the mix of information, I figured out what the word means by today’s terms.

I did not know about the “other b-word” or the f-word until middle school.

Turns out, one of my younger cousins knew more cuss words than I did when I was in the seventh grade, because he had to explain to me what the “other b-word” meant after he saw it in a book he was reading.  Also coming from a Christian family, he hadn’t known it was a foul word until he asked his parents what it meant.  Around the same time, I heard the f-word used for the first time at my class’s lunch table in the seventh grade.  Not knowing what it meant, though knowing it did not sound nice in the context my classmate was using it, I asked my momma what, without saying the actual word, “the f-word” meant.  I can still remember how the look of complete astonishment covered her face as she asked me where I had heard it, and explained as innocently as she could what it meant.  After that, more kids at school started using the word as if it were a comma, along with other expletives.  For the first time, I began worrying about my generation.  I even went as far as taking a tally sheet of how many cuss words I heard during one school day (reaching an astounding amount of 40+), and brought it to my teacher’s attention that afternoon.  My teacher that year, however, did not seem to be phased at all; she didn’t even address the class on the issue.

I did not know what the word “homophobic” meant until my freshman year of high school.

Similar to my experience with the word “gay”, I did not know what the word “homophobic” meant until I was talking with a couple of friends of mine one day.  At the time, I made a negative comment about homosexuality, thinking that everyone felt that way.  Keep in mind, I only said this because the Bible states that homosexuality, along with sexual immorality of all kinds, is a sin (see Leviticus 18:22 and 1 Corinthians 7:2)  One of my friends then asked me if I was homophobic.  Not knowing what it meant, I asked them to define it.  When they told me that the word was defined as being afraid of homosexuals, I said yes.  Looking back on that day after nearly seven years have gone by, I regret saying that I was homophobic.  I still agree with what the Bible says about homosexuality being a sin, because I believe everything the Bible has to say, though I’m not afraid of homosexuals.  I have a few friends who have professed they are homosexual or bisexual, but I don’t avoid them or slap them with the Bible because of it.  It is their choice to choose how to live their life. All we as Christians are asked to do is present them with the truth of God’s word.  If they refuse to accept God’s word, then it’s not our problem to “fix” them; only they can begin or mend their relationship with God.  However, as a friend, we can still be the light of God to them.  In the book of Matthew, Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  So now I’m not afraid of being nice to someone with that type of lifestyle.  Maybe, just maybe, they’ll see the light of God and change their ways if they have a Christian influence in their lives.

As you can see, the list goes on and on.

There are probably at least a dozen more Sheltered Kid-isms I could mention, but I don’t want to turn this blog post into a novel.  Instead, I want to explain why I want my kids to be raised the same way my parents raised me, and it all points to one little word:

Innocence.

From watching my younger sister’s experience in high school, I can conclude that it has changed drastically since I was there, even though we are only four years apart.  If high schools (even in the Bible Belt) are growing farther and farther away from the teachings of God, I don’t want to imagine how vile the middle schools, and even elementary schools are becoming.  Growing up in the late 90’s right on in to the 2000’s, though the world wasn’t completely innocent, my parents made sure that I grew up without my mind being clogged with aspects of sin.  I’ve heard people say that they’ve been gay since birth, whereas I didn’t know there was even such a mindset.  I didn’t use foul words as a kid, because my parents did not say them around me (okay, so occasionally they would let some slip, but no one is perfect).  What I’m saying is that as kids, children shouldn’t be thinking about things that require an adult choice, or adult consequences.  If a parent gives a kid the option of being gay or transgender, they are robbing the child of their innocence by putting the thoughts into their young minds.  Meaning that if a child is worried about their sexual orientation or gender from such a young age, they will be focused on things like dating and sex throughout their childhood, therefore missing out on the pure innocence of discovering the world on their own and making their own choices later in life.

Even though I was out-of-the-loop on a lot of things during my childhood, I had an awesome one.  I watched Nicktoons and Disney movies like any other kid.  I also went to VBS and made the decision to follow God on my own when I was eight.  My parents never forced that upon me, nor anything else for that matter.  They just protected me from things that they knew were against God’s teachings, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Have a great day y’all, and God bless! 😀

-Allyson