A Letter to My Teen Daughters (ten years in advance)

My Precious Girls,

As I type this you are ages 8 and 5. Your dad and I just tucked you into your bunk beds stacked with fuzzy throw blankets, stuffed animals and American Girl dolls. You told me you loved me at least a dozen times. I suspect that’s a stall tactic, but I relish it nonetheless. We blew kisses and you begged me to stay. So I sat on the steps to the top bunk for a few minutes and prayed for you.

I never stop praying for you.

A letter to my teen daughters

If the last eight years are any indication of how quickly your growing-up years will fly, then I will blink and tomorrow you will be packing the van for college. And nights like tonight—our ordinary, beautiful bedtime routine—may not even register in your memory bank. You will forget the scent of your strawberry shampoo, your innocent prayers for a good night’s sleep, and the words to the Praise Baby CD you still beg me to play when I turn off the lamp. But I will remember these details for all of us. Your childhood is safe in my heart.

YOU are still safe in my heart.

I am your mom.

Your friend.

Not your enemy.

I imagine you hold grievances against me now. I set rules for you that other kids aren’t expected to follow. I hold you accountable for your actions and remind you of God’s best when you might settle for good enough. These years are brutal, I get that. High school is a peer-pressure war zone. You think I can’t relate, but I was your age once, too. And I know you better than you think I do. I’ve been equipping you for this battle since you were in diapers. You’re strong and you are wise. Don’t doubt it.

Remember Jesus.

He loves you. You know this, although you might sometimes forget. Do not fear the day your faith is tested. It must pass the test before it becomes your own. I will be on my knees for you as long as it takes. You are not alone.

You will make mistakes, count on it. Maybe big ones. I still do, too. But remember God’s grace is bigger, therefore so is mine. You don’t have to be afraid to tell me when you’ve messed up or when your heart is breaking. Talk to me. Whatever it is, I will never turn you away.

Front porch steps

Some friends will draw you closer to Jesus. Some will pull you far. Learn to discern the difference. Today you think all the boys are buddies but someday they will want to play more than soccer. Protect your heart. Save it for the one God has picked out for you behind door number 17. You’re only behind door number 12 right now. “Wait for the LORD. Be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14).

Technology will distract you and media will lie to you. Failures will attempt to define you, and accomplishments will never fully satisfy you. But God is right beside you, my lovely ones. He is faithful, loving, and good. He will pull you through rough and high seasons. I know, because I’m asking him to do it, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Tonight, ten years ago, I peeked in on you all snuggled beneath pink comforters, your angel faces glowing peaceful while you slept. I love you so much my heart aches.

As you mature into someone different, you remain inherently familiar to me. My girls. My gifts. You are God’s masterpiece. And I get the privilege of polishing you until you shine.

Of cheerleading you toward God and his blessings.

Of being your mom.

It’s been a pretty awesome job so far. But we’re not done yet. In some ways, we’re just beginning.

And I can’t wait to see who you become tomorrow.

Love forever,
Mom

* * * * * * * *

569125Today’s post was inspired by the new book, Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture, by Candy Gibbs. It encouraged me to realize we don’t need to fear the teen years; we can triumph through them. Using practical biblical wisdom and modern perspectives from today’s young adults, Rescue throws a lifeline to any parent struggling to keep teens afloat in a world of crashing social and emotional waves.

This week I’m giving away a copy of Rescue to one randomly selected winner. To enter, share this post with another mom and leave a comment letting me know you did. (Subscribers, click here to access comments on the blog.)

I hope you win!

**This post contains affiliate links.


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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like If You Think You’re Small and Ordinary,  The Beauty of a Naked Lion Chase, and If Birthdays Make You Sentimental.  

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.

Whose Kids Are They, Anyway?

We pet sat a guinea pig a few weeks ago. Coco belongs to my daughter’s friend, and we sometimes adopt him when her family goes on vacation. My girls love feeding him carrot sticks and setting up his fence on our living room floor so the tubby fuzzball can stretch his legs—you know, the fun parts of having a pet. Cleaning the cage, though, was mostly left to me. Which is tricky because do you have any earthly idea how much poop a guinea pig can generate in an hour? It’s seriously unnatural.

Whose kids are they, anyway?

Coco’s owners told us we’d have to replace his bedding every three or four days, but after 24 hours I couldn’t stand to let him romp around in his own pee any longer, so I went a little crazy on the guinea pig hygiene. In the ten days Coco was with us, I think I scrubbed his cage 26 times.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration.

25 times.

Point is, I took extra special care of the guinea pig because he was not mine. He was on loan to us. I wanted to assure his owners we were worthy of pet sitting and would love him like they do. Heaven forbid anything should happen to Coco under our roof!

I feel this way about a guinea pig.

And a million times more about my kids.

My children don’t belong to me, either. They belong to God. And so do yours. They’re on loan to us from their heavenly Father who created them and loves them more than we do, impossible as that seems.

Most days I operate as though I believe that. Until something goes wrong, and then I throw an epic toddler tantrum, screaming mine, mine, mine!

Last Thursday I attended the funeral of a father and child from our school. Throughout the two-hour service, I couldn’t stop my tears from spilling, not even after the funeral ended and I drove home to where my own children were sleeping safe in their beds. Why? Not because I knew the family well but because the weight of such a loss crushes any momma’s heart in empathy.

No mother should have to bury her child, says me.

I never promised you that, says God.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

Tennis and sidewalk chalk

I admit these past many days I have fought back fears—of losing my husband and children or of experiencing something terrible happening to them. Now when I step into Walmart or the library or a quiet neighborhood playground, my mind strays to bad places and I imagine what crazy person is lurking nearby ready to shoot.

I find myself praying, Lord, please don’t let anything happen to my kids.

And then one afternoon last week, in the carpool line at school, he spoke back.

They’re not YOUR kids. They’re mine.

What do we do with that?

As parents, we clean the analogous cage and we love on those little people like Jesus does. Yet we cannot forget he has first rights to take them home anytime. All the plans he ordains for their lives are for some good and mighty purpose that we cannot understand.

So my prayer now? I try to lift up my kids to their Father with these words each morning:

Lord, help me to honor you with the way I raise YOUR children today.

And if it’s your will, God, please keep them here with me for a long, long time. No rush returning from your Florida vacation, so to speak.

Whatever the Lord has planned for our children, whether it’s within our grasp or not, let’s never forget to whom they first belong.

God is their almighty Father.

And we are forever blessed to be called their mom.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Stop Pray Obey, When Your Kid Is the Naughty One, and Am I Invisible Here or What?  

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Why I Threw My Kids’ Candy in the Trash

Candy is bad for you. All moms know that.

So when my kids begged for Dum Dums after breakfast last week? I grabbed our entire stash of various stored and leftover candy—a gallon Ziploc bag full—and hurled it straight into the kitchen trash bin.

Not because we’re cutting out sugar. Obviously, any mother who hoards a sack of candy in the first place is a pushover for moderation. Plus I like to snitch a mini Snickers every once in a while.

In our house, though, candy has become bad for the soul.

Why I threw my kids' candy in the trash

“Mom, can I have these?” My five-year-old pinched a pack of Smarties between her thumb and forefinger and flashed a pleading smile.

“No, it’s too early for candy.”

“But I ate both of my pancakes!”

“I’m so glad. We don’t eat candy at breakfast time. Put it away.”

“Mom?” My eight-year-old skipped into the kitchen holding a sucker in her hand. “Can I have this? I ate a really good breakfast.”

“No! Where did you girls get the idea that you can eat candy before school?”

“You always let us have candy after we eat our healthy food!”

“At dinnertime, sweetheart. This is breakfast. I’m not sending you off to school with candy in your system. It’s too early for sweets.”

I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but in a nutshell what followed was a snit of classic proportions—complete with stomping feet, slamming doors, and a few grumpy words tossed in my direction.

Over what? A couple suckers and a candy roll. Ridiculous.

In that moment, though, I realized those sweets had become something greater. Something far more damaging than sugar and red dye #40.

Idols.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

What seizes your child’s attention and adoration? Is there any THING—an object, activity, mindset or goal—that causes your sons and daughters to risk relationships with people, obedience to God, and their very own well-being?

Let’s call it what it is. The Bible says anything that competes with God and causes us to throw his commands out the window is nothing more than a worthless idol, a weak replacement for the rightful focal point of our worship.

My daughter wanted that candy so much, she was willing to break God’s commandment—honor your mother and father (Exodus 20:12)—in order to fight for it. Not to mention a long list of other biblical principles, like “be kind” and “demonstrate self-control” and “Thou shalt not beg, whine, or bicker before Mommy chugs her morning swig of orange juice and anxiety meds.” Okay, that one’s not really in the Bible—but I think we all agree it should be.

The point is, I did what I had to do.

I tossed the candy—in order to prove to my kids that nothing (especially Dum Dums, hello) is worth compromising their souls.

“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

After my daughter reclaimed her senses, I knelt to eye level and launched a heart-to-heart lesson.

“Do you realize what happened here, sweetheart? God tells you to honor your parents and to show love. Yet your candy was more important than being kind to me. It was more important than obeying God. So what does that mean? What did you let your candy become?”

She cast her eyes to floor and spoke softly. “An idol.”

My girl knows her Bible.

And yes, sometimes she chooses to blow it off anyway.

Just like her mother. Sound familiar? Praise God for his grace.

“Hey,” I squeezed my daughter’s hand. “I have a secret handshake for us.” She looked up and smiled. I stretched my index finger onto her wrist and tapped each syllable of our now favorite code message.

“I love you more than candy.”

She tapped it back and giggled. Now each day, on the road to school or after I’ve tucked her into bed at night, she reaches for my hand and taps. The message applies to whatever idol we’re tackling that day, for example, “I love you more than Pinterest” works just as well. So does “I love you more than TV” and “I love you more than Cheetos.” Regardless of your vice, the meaning is the same.

I love you more than idols.

Our daily reminder to put God first.

It’s sweeter than all the Smarties a gallon bag can hold.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
Don’t miss a post. Sign up here!

If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Stop Pray Obey, When Your Kid Is the Naughty One, and Am I Invisible Here or What?  

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.

Messy Prayer (guest post by Kelly O’Dell Stanley)

A note from Becky: As promised, today I’m honored to welcome my friend Kelly O’Dell Stanley to Time Out. Kelly and I met through our amazing agent, Blythe Daniel, and we were delighted to discover a common affinity for the Fox Valley, Wisconsin area—me, because I live here, and Kelly, because a piece of her heart lives in a dorm room just blocks from my favorite coffee shop. So I’ve  been blessed to get to know not only a fellow author but also her daughter, and both of them are beautiful, genuine people. Funny how God can connect his children regardless of miles. I hope Kelly’s post will encourage you to rediscover prayer. And be sure to leave a comment at the end for a chance to win a copy of her new book, Praying Upside Down: A Creative Prayer Experience to Transform Your Time With God.

* * * * * * * *

Messy Prayer

Surely I’m not the only mom who’s cringed at the unavoidable (but unsavory) task of accepting the artwork being held out by her small child. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? A soggy piece of construction paper, drenched with runny paint, dripping in rivulets across the page. And down your child’s arms. And into your purse, if you’re not careful. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there might even be glue. And glitter. You just know that if you touch this glorious bastion of creativity, it’s going to rub off on you, too.

Being creative can be messy.

So can prayer.

Then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If prayer is, in its simplest form, communication with God—a way of reaching hold of a greater power, the greater power—then wouldn’t you want some of that to rub off?

When you pray for someone, when you don’t just toss up a quick little “help her” prayer, but when you get serious, things change. And not just for the person you’re praying for, but for you. I think this is why Jesus said to pray for your enemies—because when you tear down the walls, when you truly try to remove your own emotions, feelings, and judgments, and you try to see a person as God does—you may find that all of a sudden you have a newfound empathy for that person. You’ll likely discover a new, better understanding of that person’s struggles, choices, and behavior. Judgment may cease. And you’ll have a new story to tell, about the time you got involved and saw things change.

One day at church a woman came up to the altar to be prayed for, and I was one of several people who gathered around her. I prayed, “God, please, surround her with people who can help her.” And my next thought was, as though God spoke right back, “You’re a person.”

I was so surprised I opened my eyes. Sometimes the way we can help is by praying. And sometimes prayer will reveal that we can also help by doing.

I will confess, sometimes I’d rather let someone else do the hard stuff, the hands-on, sometimes messy involvement. Just like I’d rather not grab hold of that piece of artwork, lest the runny paint drip down my arm and glitter permanently embed itself in my life. But I do it anyway, knowing that the long-term benefits of accepting my child’s love offering to me far outweigh the temporary discomfort. In prayer, the marks that are made—the transfer of compassion, the creation of shared experiences and deeply-forged relationships, the changes partly effected by the use of my own hands—now those are marks I can live with.

I hope they never wash out.

* * * * * * * *

This week I’m celebrating the release of my new book, Praying Upside Down: A Creative Prayer Experience to Transform Your Time with God. Leave a comment below to enter a drawing for a chance to win a free copy—and I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog, prayingupsidedown.com. We’ll talk about prayer—ways to approach it, ways to get unstuck, ways to learn to see God in everything (even in glitter and glue). Monthly prayer prompt calendars and an ebook called Praying in Full Color are some of the free downloads available exclusively to subscribers.

Praying Upside Down

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Kelly-Stanley2Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of Praying Upside Down. With more than two decades of experience in advertising, three kids ranging from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes even upside down. Kelly’s essay, “Amazing Grace,” won the Writer’s Digest Inspirational Writing Competition in 2013. She lives in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where she operates her own graphic design business. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening all around her.

Praying Upside Down is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Good morning, blog friends. I’m popping in unscheduled today to share something I wish I had no reason to write about. But it’s weighing on my heart, and I’m asking for your prayers.

Yesterday we woke to the news that school was cancelled because a family from our small, close-knit Christian school was involved in a senseless shooting at one of our favorite local parks—a lovely place where families gather to walk and bike and climb playground equipment. Our school family lost a child from the fifth grade class and her dad. Two younger children survived unwounded—one of them a fellow preschool student—and their beautiful mom is recovering in the hospital with thousands of prayers going up from those of us in the school and church community.

Stoffel-park-post

Media is calling it a random act of violence, but as believers we know nothing is random to God. Every day ordained for us was written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). When we are stunned and shaken, he remains wholly in control. Nothing surprises him. Nothing thwarts his sovereignty. A friend posted this yesterday, and I can’t say it any better:

“Our family is shaken, our school is shaken, our church is shaken, our community is shaken, but our faith in Jesus Christ is NOT shaken. God knew what would happen last night. He was there. I can’t pretend to know why He allowed THIS to THESE people. What I DO KNOW is He WILL do mighty things.”

It’s times like these we are challenged to place our faith above our limited human understanding. Why does God allow tragedy? I can’t pretend to know, either. But I do know he works all things together for good. Even when we can’t see how.

The victims’ family made a statement yesterday, which a local news channel published on Facebook.

Channel-5-border

That is the power of Christ in us.

No evil in the world can take it down.

And if mainstream media can post a message like that—which as of this morning has been shared more than 2,400 times and counting—then I’d say God is indeed already doing mighty things.

Please pray for us this morning, as our kids are returning to school where emotions and questions will be hanging thick in the air. This is a lesson in trusting God that I wish I didn’t have to explain to my eight-year-old just yet. But she knows Jesus, and she is imagining what school is like for her friend today in heaven. Bless her. No wonder God tells us to have the faith of a child.

If God is stirring your heart to do something, then please pray for the Stoffel family. I also want to let you know about two memorial funds available to help them. One has been set up by loved ones through a third-party service, which will take a small percentage of each donation (7 percent) while the rest goes directly to the family. If everybody who reads this gives just $1, $3, $5, $10… imagine what God can do with your generosity. That link is: http://www.gofundme.com/tp7qve64

If you prefer to give in a manner that directs 100 percent of your donation to the family, please e-mail me directly at rebeccakopitzke (at) gmail (dot) com, and I’ll be happy to send you a private link to a memorial fund set up by the family’s church.

Most importantly, hug your husband and kids tight. In a world of question marks, God is our only sure answer. I don’t know how anybody lives without him.

Much love,
Becky

Are You Living Like God Is for Real?

“Momma!” Pulled from the spell of sleep, I cracked open an eyelid and spied my daughter looming over my pillow.

“What is it, sweetheart?” My words slurred, and my eyes slid closed again as I reached out to touch her shoulder.

“I’m scared of the storm,” she whispered.

“It’s raining?” I strained to hear above the din of my husband’s steady breathing and a whirring fan beside our bed. Sure enough, raindrops beat against the roof in their gentle hi-hat rhythm. Then a bolt of lightning cracked, and thunder shook the house. “Ok, come on up.”

Are you living like God is for real

My daughter hoisted herself over the side of the mattress and climbed across my torso to snuggle in the warm spot between her Daddy and me. Her safe place.

Where do you go when you’re scared?

“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1).

Sometimes I wish God’s wings were tangible curtains or a bedspread I could physically hide beneath. But we can’t see him, we can’t touch him, most of us can’t audibly hear him, and that’s kind of a hang-up for human beings like you and me who tend to rely on our five senses.

When you pray, do you ever feel like you’re talking to the air, or having a conversation with yourself in your head? I admit, sometimes I do.

Or in those early morning attempts to be still before the Lord, when I force myself awake in a race against my kids for quiet time, sometimes my chin bobs to my neck and my prayers drift off to dreamland. Suddenly a heartfelt plea to cure a friend from illness morphs into an odd dialog between my late grandmother and a talking bicycle.

Seriously! Has that ever happened to you? Why is it so easy to lose sight of the fact that an all-knowing, ever-present, living God is really, actually, actively listening to our prayers—and able to move mountains on our behalf?

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

When life freaks us out, trips us up, or beats us down, we have two choices: panic or pray. Rely on ourselves or on God. Which one do you think is more dependable?

I’m really good at the panic option. But just like my daughter reached for me in the storm, I’m learning to reach for God instead. And he will let me climb under his covers and deliver me, one way or another.

How do I know?

Because he says so.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

And I either believe him or I don’t.

Which will you choose?

My spiritual growth focus this year is on prayer. I suspect there’s a deeper connection to God that I’m missing out on, which I believe can be cultivated with a better understanding and practice of prayer. At its core, prayer is simply communication with God, that direct line to the Father that we’re promised through Christ. It’s a gift all believers are given. We ought to learn to use it to its full capacity.

As part of my study plan, I’m reading Tim Keller’s book, Prayer, and meeting regularly with an accountability partner to discuss the chapters. And—I’m excited to tell you about my friend Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s new book, Praying Upside Down: A Creative Prayer Experience to Transform Your Time With God. It just released last Friday to a five-star rating on Amazon. Kelly will be joining us here for a guest post later this week, and we’ll be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky (blessed) winner! Stop by on Wednesday to hear all about it.

So the moral of today’s story is, when you pray, remember who’s listening. He is the One who created you and knows you better than you know yourself. He’s the same God who formed the rivers and canyons, and thought up dinosaurs and blood cells and those weird sea creatures in the Great Barrier Reef. He showers trillions of one-of-a-kind snowflakes every winter and grows back every blade of grass in spring. Just think of what our God can do! It’s mind-blowing, really.

And you know what that means? Your prayers are not too hard for him. First step—is to believe it.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
Don’t miss a post. Sign up here!

If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Why I Let My Kids Watch TV, The Wisdom Test, and We Don’t Want Your Glitter, Thanks

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.

For the Family: What Your Wife Really Wants for Mother’s Day

A couple weeks ago, I put a shout-out on Facebook asking you all what you really want for Mother’s Day this year. Your answers did not surprise me—because they’re my answers, too. But you know who I think might be a little bit surprised at the wish list? Our husbands.

Mothers-Day

Today on For the Family, I’m sharing your Mother’s Day wishes with moms and dads alike, in the hopes that some dads will read it and even more moms will forward it to their husbands as a not-so-subtle hint. Which is what I’m inviting you to do today, too.

Click here to head on over to For the Family for the full scoop on what we moms really want for Mother’s Day. What’s your favorite item on the list?

Blessings,

Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
Don’t miss a post. Sign up here!

For the Family: To the Mom Who Is Always Running Late

I’m that mom. The one who has every good intention of leaving five minutes ahead of schedule until the kids lose a shoe or—who am I kidding—I lose a shoe, and suddenly instead of taking the leisure route to school, we’re hustling through highway construction traffic in order to shave three minutes off the drive and make it through the doors before the bell rings.

What is my problem?

to the mom who is always running late

Are you that mom, too? You’re not alone. Join me on For the Family today, where I’m offering some mom-to-mom encouragement for the woman who is always running late. Like me. And you. And thousands more. We’re like our own huge club of late-runners. Solidarity, sisters.

Click here to pop over to For the Family. See you there!

Blessings,

Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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Why Parents Today Can (not) Afford to Be Dumb

“Momma, what sound does a panda make?” My five-year-old daughter stood in front of my desk, cradling her new stuffed panda bear in the crook of her arm.

“I don’t know, sweetheart. Let’s find out.” I swung around in my swivel chair and typed some quick strokes into Google—“what does a panda say”—and instantly the link to a YouTube video of actual panda bear noises appeared on screen. I clicked, we listened for 60 seconds, and just like that my daughter was mimicking the call of pandas from a remote China forest.

Why parents today can't afford to be dumb

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but answers weren’t so easy when I was growing up.

Remember when we had to go to the library to research unknown topics? When the librarian taught us to use the card catalog so we could locate an actual book, which we then had to crack open and read in order to learn new things?

When I was a kid, my parents took me to museums where my sisters and I could see natural history up close—because there was no other path to discovery, no Internet, no YouTube, no educational apps.

I used microfiche in college, people. Microfiche.

Today we don’t need to be nearly as resourceful. In fact, it’s easy for a mom to be downright clueless if she wants. A couple weeks ago my second-grader came home with a geometry worksheet telling her to list common household objects in the shape of a triangular prism.

A whuuh?

Thirty years ago, my mom would’ve pointed me to our old stack of encyclopedias. I just Googled “triangular prism” and my daughter drew a camping tent. Project done.

It’s sad, really. Parents don’t have to be smart anymore. We just have to pay for high speed internet.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).

Throughout every generation, parents have been charged with a responsibility—to teach God’s words and will to our children. Technology doesn’t change that. Modern culture doesn’t modify it. Shifting societal norms do not alter God’s timeless call.

Today more than ever, we cannot afford to be dumb. Technology may help us do our job, but we must not allow it to take our place.

There are two ways to tackle this. We can reject technology, or we can use it for good.

I’m a blogger. Guess which camp I live in.

Sidewalk chalk heart

Lately I’m hearing more and more women say they’re boycotting the Internet—Facebook especially—because it has become a distraction and a time-waster. True, it can be, if we let it. I know that from experience. I’m an advocate for sending cards via snail-mail, calling a friend on the phone, or sitting face to face over coffee. I get the value of personal interaction.

Yet the age of information is here to stay, and it’s accelerating every minute. Our kids will never know anything different. The question we parents need to ask ourselves is—how are we going to harness it for God?

Instead of viewing technology as a trap, why not see it as an opportunity—to learn, love and share Jesus, and to teach our kids by example how to do the same.

Sidewalk chalk cross

Four years ago I claimed this little blog space in the name of Jesus. Many others are on a similar mission—and together we’re making a dent. In a vast online universe we reside alongside pornography, crude entertainment, social drama, hackers and viruses and greed, yet the Christian voice rises. People are hearing it. They’re reading it. They’re seeing His light shine in dark places—thanks to technology that was not available ten, twenty years ago. And certainly not when I was a child.

My parents taught me values to uphold at school and in neighborhood play groups. That’s as far as my boundaries spread. Today, however, our kids need to stand firm not just in their tangible surroundings but in the virtual world as well. Let’s show them how.

So by all means, let them play Angry Birds. But download a children’s Bible app while you’re at it, eh?

Watch the latest Kids Snippets video, great. Then plug into the TobyMac channel on Pandora. Your kids will love that, too.

Use and abuse Google to research homework and term papers, seriously, why not? Yet every once in a while, take your kids to the library to meet new friends at book club or storytime, then stick a “Jesus loves you” post-it in every Mo Willems title on the shelf.

The Internet is not our god.

Let’s show it who is. Amen?

Blessings,
Becky


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Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Why I Let My Kids Watch TV, The Wisdom Test, and We Don’t Want Your Glitter, Thanks

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.

My Doctor Said the F Word

I don’t like waiting. Traffic jams, grocery store checkout lines, airport layovers—basically anything that hinders my progress from point A to point B, I could do without. And I know I’m not alone. Most people hate waiting. It’s why Disney created the Fast Pass.

But you know what the kicker is? God does some of his best work in the waiting.

I know this firsthand.

For women struggling with fertility

Six years ago, I held a phone to my ear and paced my bedroom floor while my OB/GYN explained a series of lab results. After several months of trying for a second baby, I had finally consented to undergo some tests. Now I wondered if it was better not to know.

“You’re a bit of a mystery.” Not exactly what a gal wants to hear from her doctor. “Next steps would be to come see me at the fertility clinic.”

The fertility clinic.

That dreaded “F” bomb.

I never imagined it would apply to me.

Did you?

Even if you’re not struggling to conceive, we all know someone who is—or someone who defied the medical skeptics and is now raising beautiful impossible children. Fertility issues touch every woman either directly or indirectly, within your own family or community or close circle of friends. And we all have a responsibility to face it.

Why?

Because the Bible says so.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. . . . Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:12, 15).

I’m not going to tell you how my season of secondary infertility taught me to trust God in ways I didn’t need to before, although that is absolutely true.

And I’m not going to go into details about how waiting on God can grant a deeper blessing than immediate gratification could ever hope to create. It really can.

Today I just want to admit that infertility sucked.

Yes, I said the S word.

Sucked.

As in, it sucked the joy out of me. It drained my energy and my marriage and the tears from my eyes. It blinded me to the present blessings of raising a happy toddler—because I was convinced she needed a sibling in order to be complete.

I know now that she didn’t, really. But that’s what a fertility struggle does. It consumes you from the inside out and casts shadows on your perspective until you can’t see or think clearly.

If you are that woman, the one who carries the daily heartache of longing for a child—whether it’s your first child or your next—can you please believe that God knows what he’s doing? I get that it’s hard. Infertility makes no sense to us. Yet your prayers are never wasted. God always knows something we don’t know.

And if that woman is your friend, you have a role to play. Don’t try to solve her problems or give her a pep talk (kind of like I just did). She is on a journey, and the Lord has placed her there. You cannot “perspective” another woman’s pain away. She must come to conclusions herself, in her own time, according to God’s plan for her life. Your job is to walk alongside her. Not to try to accelerate the race or bump her off the path of sorrow. God does amazing work in sorrow. Let him have his way.

Just love her. Listen to her. Pray for her. Cry with her. Step into her life for a while. Compassion in action will point her to Jesus more than any words you can spill from your well-meaning tongue.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Sisters

I’m grateful to the women who walked through my waiting with me. If God had given me a fast pass to pregnancy, I would’ve missed out on some sweet encouragement from friends, among other priceless lessons learned. They were a bright spot on dark and weepy days. And in the end, when God chose to bless me with another child, those friends were the ones whose congratulations meant the most—because they gave all the glory to God.

My blessing is now a spitfire five-year-old who loves to run and jump and say “butt” as often as I’ll allow. Thankfully that’s the naughtiest word she knows. And when my husband and I took our girls to Disney World, you’d better believe I made them stand in line to see Tinker Bell and Rapunzel and Pocahontas. No Fast Passes allowed.

Because good things happen in the waiting. And we had each other to lean on—every step of the way.

Blessings,
Becky

Special note:
front-bigToday’s post was inspired by my friend Mandy and her husband Adam, who after several miscarriages have decided to welcome a third child into their family through adoption from Bulgaria. As part of their adoption fundraising efforts, they are selling these lovely T-shirts, printed with one of my favorite verses from the book of Ruth and designed by a mutual friend, with all proceeds going toward Mandy and Adam’s personal adoption fund.

I have no affiliation with this sale and no portion of it gets kicked back to me; I just wanted to support them and spread the word. No pressure to buy. A prayer for their family will be equally precious. Go to booster.com/nackfamily for more details. Thanks, everyone!


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
Don’t miss a post. Sign up here!

If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like When Siblings Become Friends, How I Saw Jesus in a Hairbrush, and Quit Being So Grateful

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.