Monday, July 18, 2016

Rise up

As we have said before, we are youth leaders in our church. One of the things we tell our youth is you can either be a child or an adult. We raise the bar and expect them to be adults! We challenge them to break through the barriers of society and step up to responsibility and be adults, to prove society wrong. 

Recently one of our youth brought something to us and wanted to read it to the group. He wanted it to be our youth group's creed, he wanted to challenge his peers to Rise Up!

We asked him if we could share it here. We wanted to use it as a challenge to parents to challenge their youth, and to ask youth to embrace the challenge to rise up and be adults! Our thanks go out to Graham for his desire to rise up and be an adult and to lead by example in our youth group.

Rise up

It is time to Rise Up. No longer will we be satisfied in our "adolescence". You are young men and young women of God. It's time for us to sharpen our swords and train for war. It's time for us to rise up and start revival at school, be an example to your siblings, lead a friend to Jesus, love the unlovable, it's time for us to put on our big boy/girl pants and forgive those who've wronged us, it's time for us to rise up and not get caught in the petty drama of high school, the he said-she said's. It's time for us to hold the door for a random stranger even though you haven't eaten in 5 hours, to pray for those who are struggling just to get through the day, to smile when when nothing today has gone right and ask your friend how their day has gone and listen. It's time for us to be young adults. To throw off the label "teenager", you are a young man or young woman of God, He wants so much more of your life than just one day of the week. He wants, no, requires, our whole life, in everything we do we should give credit to God. Manhood and womanhood starts NOW! Not when I'm a senior, not when I get a car, not when I go to college, get married, have kids.....NO! It starts now! It's time to rise above adolescence and be the men and women God has called us to be! So rise up and be the warriors of Christ I know you are capable of being. Rise up!

 Graham Fowler

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Dating Game

The Dating Game

My husband and I met when we were just 16 years old. We dated for almost 5 years before getting married at the age of 20. We only lived in the same town for maybe a year at best. The rest of the time we lived about 5 hours apart. 
Mind you, this was long before the age of the internet, video chats, or cell phones. Long distance phone calls were a luxury- meaning they were expensive, and you needed to get your parents permission. So most of our communication, during the 4+ years of dating was done by mail- thank you good old U.S. Postal Service! Yes, snail mail. We spent days composing our letters, mailed them off then started our next one. We'd wait to get a letter in the mail and when it finally came we'd read and re-read it over and over again until we almost had it memorized. I know this sounds silly now days but that's the way it was back in our day.

Years later we realized that it was one of the things that we cherished most. When you write a letter, you have to think of things to say. It was difficult but so worth it. We learned so much about each other. We learned patience waiting for a reply to our last letter. We learned how to write so it made since to someone else. We learned how to think. We learned how to communicate our thoughts and feelings. We learned about each others daily lives, families and pet peeves. We learned about friendship. By the time we got married, we were best friends. Being married is great but knowing your spouse is your best friend is the icing on the cake.

When it comes to relationships, boyfriends and girlfriends, it can get confusing. Society tells us it's all about the physical, you have to be compatible. Date lots of people before you settle down. I believe just the opposite. I believe you should start by being friends. So many times young people are so excited about having a boyfriend or girlfriend they forget to just be friends. To enjoy the other person and get to know them. Don't be in such a hurry. Don't fall for the lie that we always have to have to have a significant other in our life. Take time to get to know who you are. To get to know the other person. Take time to learn what you want in a spouse.  

I believe the main reason for dating is to find a mate, someone to marry. So if you're not ready to marry, why date? I know this sounds old fashion, and maybe even crazy, but hear me out. I didn't always believe this. But as I've gotten older, it makes since to me. You see, I believe it's important to learn how to interact and communicate with the opposite sex first. Hanging out in mixed groups, with other couples or each others families is a great way to do this. Being in group settings lets you observe others. You learn proper behavior and etiquette  by watching trusted and respected friends and adults. You learn how to talk to others, how to treat others and how to listen. You learn what is important to yourself and others. Groups also help hold you accountable for your words and actions. You learn how to respect yourself and other people. Young men be a gentleman, respectable- not crude. And young women be modest and act like a lady. Another way is to look for couples you admire who have successful marriages. Talk to them, watch them, ask them to mentor you. These are things that can help you decide what traits are desirable- or not desirable in a spouse. Everyone should have, at least, a mental list of things they want in a spouse. Know the things that are going to be non-negotiables in your spouse and marriage.

Several years after we were married, one of our pastors commented in a sermon that holding hands would lead to pregnancy. We almost burst out laughing. Being young and naive, we thought he might need someone to explain the birds and the bees to him. We didn't understand the connection. Years later we did. You see, once you start getting physical, things escalate quickly. You start holding hands, eventually that's not enough so you move on to kissing, then that's not enough and you have to continue more and more to get that same excitement, that same thrill. Then next thing you know, someone's pregnant. You didn't mean for it to happen but in the heat of the moment we loose control. We're humans and we make mistakes.

If we take the time when we're young to learn how to relate to each other, before we get to the physical part, then when we are ready to make the commitment of marriage we will be much better equipped. I firmly believe that if we slow down and take control of ourselves, our lives will be better in the long run. We will be more confident,be more able to express ourselves and we won't have to worry about excess baggage that is often time brought along from previous relationships. By taking control of ourselves we honor ourselves and our future spouses. 

Marriage is a life long commitment to each other and God. In order to ensure that we make it "till death do we part" we need to remember failure is not an option. We need to be working on our marriage long before we are married. We need to remember that our decisions today will effect our marriage later on. We do this by being focused, when dating, on the end result which is marriage. Remember, marriage won't always be romantic, mushy or sexy. Sometimes it will be hard, frustrating, and messy. Other times you'll just be hanging out with the other person. Wouldn't it be nice if you liked each other and were friends?


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Great Expectations

Great Expectations

As parents we always want our children to have it better than we did. Even if we had a great childhood ourselves we still want better. But what is better? Is it giving them more stuff, anything they want? Is it never saying "no", maybe fighting their battles for them? Praising them for every little thing they do? Does any of this really make their lives better? Does it help them become better adults in the long run?

Sometimes I think as parents, we want our children to succeed so badly that we choose to lower the bar, and even help them over it, in order that they don't fail.This isn't helping them. By lowering the bar, we've already set them up for failure. We've told them "I don't think you can do any better than this". We've put a limit on their hopes and dreams. We've stifled their futures. We've lowered our expectations to ensure success but instead we cause failure.We hurt their self-esteem. We are basically telling our children "I don't believe in you", "this is as high as you can ever expect to go in life".  Our children need to know that we believe in them, that we'll back them and be there for them even through mistakes and failures. That we will cheer for them even when things are hard.

We need to set the bar so high that it will take a lifetime to reach it! Remember when you were a kid and your parents would say to you "you can be the president of the United States of America if you want to"? Most of us knew that we never would be and probably didn't want to be. But it sure was nice to know that someone thought we could.That we were capable of great things! Our children need to know this too. They need to know that sometimes the road to success is long and hard but that we, as parents, have faith that they can achieve their dreams -- no matter how lofty they may seem.

When we do raise the bar for our children they achieve far beyond our expectations. Even if they don't make it all the way to the top, they'll be alright. They will still go higher than they ever thought possible. They will know that life takes hard work and perseverance, and that sometimes we make mistakes but that is okay. They learn that even if they fail they can get back up and try again. They learn the value of hard work and the joy of success. They learn to make a plan and take the necessary steps to achieve the goal. They learn that no matter what, their family will always be there to celebrate the goals reached or for encouragement during the rough patches. 

As parents, part of our job is to help our children become productive, well-rounded, successful adults. Able to hold their own in this world we live in. We can not do this by lowering the bar, only by raising the bar can we truly help our children be successful in life.

I don't think any of us know the heights we can achieve until we are truly challenged. I challenge you, as parents, to push your children harder, have higher expectations and encourage them along the way. Stop holding them back because you're afraid for them. Mistakes are okay, they help us learn and grow. 

Set the bar all the way to the heavens and watch your children soar! Be proud of both their accomplishments and yours, as parents of successful adults!


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Information Is The Same As Wisdom. Right?

We have noticed people today have forsaken wisdom for information. That Google has replaced textbooks and shortcuts have overshadowed study and knowledge. 
If knowing something takes more than a few minutes then we don't have time, after all I don't need to know how to multiply if my phone has a calculator right? The problem is we don't think for ourselves any more.


Knowledge is the earnest study of a subject  to truly understand the workings of something.
If I Google Taylor Swift and look at her bio, read a few blogs about her, learn all the lyrics to all of her songs, it doesn't mean I know her. Or if I google "how to install a windshield wiper" that doesn't make me a mechanic, I hope no one would go to a doctor that didn't have a degree.
Knowledge requires effort and time.

The same thing applies to becoming an adult. 

In generations past, people didn't look to books about parenting by some nut that has never had children. If we wanted to know how to be a man we didn't look to GQ. If we wanted to know how to be a woman Cosmo was not our reference source.

No, we looked to our family and close community.

We watched the way our fathers provided for their family, how they conducted business, and how they interacted with other men. We watched our mothers take care of their family, nurture their children, and provide an environment that fostered family unity. So where did she get her instruction?

That's right GRANDMA!

This movement away from instruction by family to instruction by institution began about the turn of the century when our fathers moved from the farm to the factory in order to support their family. Suddenly that side by side example of manhood wasn't there. Society was further moved away in the 60's and 70's when women moved from the home to the work place. Now children began to be raised by the teachers in our schools.
Now I'm not knocking schools, but they can't raise your children. 

They can't provide wisdom. 

Wisdom is when knowledge is combined with experience.
I can read all the books on piano I want, learn all the notes, but until I sit down to play, I am not a musician. And I will never be a good musician until I practice. The more I practice the better I'll be. No one wants to be on an airplane where the pilot is at the controls for the first time. Yet we raise our children according to books written by people who have never had any. Even if we haven't read the books ourselves the ideas have permeated our society to the point that it has become the norm. 

Grandma would never do this! 

She was confident that not only has God blessed her with children, but that He has blessed her with everything she needed to raise them. She had the instincts that God had given her, she had her parents and grandparents, and she had the 6,000 years of wisdom given to her by the one who made her, contained in the Bible.

As we go through the next few weeks we are going to share what we have learned, and two things are going to become clear.

First: Parents need to get back to being parents. 
Stop letting society dictate what you do through political correctness. Start listening to the voice inside, and to people that have raised successful children before you as an example. 

And for God's sake stop asking Oprah what to do.

Second: Young people, stop rejecting the advice and wisdom of people who have gone before you. Look to people who have happy and successful as examples to follow. 

If you want to be an adult find an adult you respect and be like them.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Did Grandma Have It Right All Along?

Today, kids have it easy. We make them the center of our universe.We're their chauffeurs, cooks, coaches, maids, and bankers. To top it all off we're suppose to be their best friends too! We put our lives on hold to take them to soccer and ballet, bring them their forgotten homework at school, and cater to their every desire. We give them toys, game systems, money, cars and trophies just for participating in a sport.

How did we get here? Did our grandparents have it right all along? 

Back in the day families believed in putting God first in their lives. Families worshiped and prayed together. You were expected to honor your family, obey and respect your parents, don't do anything to embarrass them, and come to their aid if a need arose without complaining. That's just what you did for your family.

Everyone was expected to pull their weight in the family. You were to do whatever needed to be done or whatever was asked of you- once again- without complaining! You were taught that if you worked a hard, honest days work you would be rewarded. It showed good character. Hard work equaled success.

Children gradually received more responsibility as they proved themselves trustworthy. By the time they were adults, they were prepared for that responsibility.

Now days we've extended childhood into the 20's and 30's. Our children have no idea how to be an adult or what it means. They have trouble with social interactions, being told "no" and not getting their way. As a result, they have trouble holding jobs, having lasting relationships and making commitments. We, as parents, have lowered the bar. We send our children the message "you're not good enough", "you can't do it on your own", "you will always need me". We have done them a disservice. They deserve better. We need to once again raise the bar for them. They need to know it's okay to make mistakes and even fail. They need us to believe in them and encourage them.

So, maybe Grandma did have it right all along. Maybe we need to follow in her footsteps for the next generation.