How to Start an Advice Sharing But Not Preaching Conversation

There is a painful reoccurring story; you've probably heard it too. Good girl falls for bad guy. I can't tell you how many times I have received prayer requests from moms, broken-hearted over their daughter's new boyfriend. The type of guy she had always taught her girl not to go for. And her daughter agreed…for a long time; or at least it seemed like a long time to the girl. Then the waiting for the godly type of guy got too long…and she went for what was going for her. With two daughters now 18 and 16, not to mention a son who is 21, have I either felt the pain of relationships that were less than best for my child or have had the fear of one. But you don't just march into your daughter's room and dive right into a conversation of this sort. "Don't fall for a bad guy" just isn't a great conversation starter. So how is a mom to go about beginning these important but difficult talks? Begin by asking for her advice. "Why do you think this happens to girls?" "What can a girl do to prevent falling in love with a guy that isn't good for her?" Then listen. You might just find yourself surprised! Your girl might pull out of her heart truth and you'll be the mom who feels comfort. And if she doesn't seem to know how the Bible would answer the question you have posed, be ready to give her the answer, from God's perspective. When you show respect for your child's opinions and you demonstrate value in what they say, in time, you'll find that respect and...

A Jonah Moment

I cringed when someone said, “God is in control,” or “Trust God through this.” He seemed distant. Sure, I believed in Him . . . in my head. My heart, on the other hand, wanted no part in praying without ceasing or embracing a peace that surpassed all understanding. I closed myself to the idea of letting God invade my life. Trust Him? I was more likely to curse God and leave the church. Besides, the longer I waited, the more likely my hardship, which at the time was a breakup, would be . . . permanent. I couldn’t just idly sit and wait for God to drop in and do something. Instead, I took matters into my own hands. # Thirty voicemails later erased any chances of us ever getting back together. For good measure I called one more time and said, “Abs, it’s me. I just want to talk. I left a couple messages earlier, but I wasn’t sure if you got them. So yeah, I know I’ve called a lot, but um. . . I don’t know. Could you just please call? Thanks. Oh and, I won’t call anymore. I’ll just wait for you to call back, unless you don’t. If not then I might call again tomorrow. Anyway, I hope you’re doing well. I miss you.” Abby never called me back after that . . . ever. Surprise right? If only I would have listened. If only I weren’t so set in doing things my way right now. If only I weren’t against letting the Creator of the Universe, speak into this sensitive area of...

The Over-Sexed Generation

Our daughter first learned about sex from a neighbor, well before she was emotionally ready to hear of such things. I was in our kitchen, happily cleaning, while she and her friend, a neighbor girl a year and a half older, played in the other room. The next thing I knew, our daughter came running into the kitchen, crying and shaking. No, she had not been violated … physically. But emotionally, she'd taken a fierce blow. Trying to play cleanup duty, I questioned our daughter about what she had been told. Luckily, most of the information she’d received was false. Not hugely false, but false just the same, allowing me to answer simply, “That’s not true,” knowing I could present the truth—the Biblical truth—when she was emotionally and cognitively ready. But even so, I worried, not only about her, but about her friend as well. Both girls were extremely young. Where had my daughter’s friend received such information? All sorts of frightening scenarios flew through my mind, and after much prayer, I initiated a conversation with the girl’s mother. It didn’t take long for me to realize the problem. As I relayed the recent events to the friend’s mother, her eyes grew increasingly wide. Shaking her head angrily, she said, “I don’t know why she would say such things! I have no idea where she’s getting this from.” But I knew. It took but one glance at the woman’s television screen for me to understand. Honestly, what I saw embarrassed me, but to this woman, it was merely background noise. You see, she’d become so accustomed to our over-sexed...

Trusting God With Your Career

Join Sarah Francis Martin in a video blog based on her book Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade Of Drama. In this video, Sarah shares how she dealt with a job layoff and how she is trusted God as she moved forward in a new phase of life.     Be sure to check out Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade of Drama! Stress Point is a real, raw and relevant look at 10 major life issues that most 20somethings deal with. By putting Christ in the center of each Stress Point, we find godly success, purpose and well-being {makes a great gift for a recent grad or a 20-something in your life headed off to college this fall}...

Pain Blocker

As a mom, it hurts me especially when my kids experience pain as a result of their mistakes. My emotions want to take over at times like these. Anger wants them to feel the full force of their choices, while sympathy wants to step in and take away all the consequences. Either way, my emotions try to become the driving force behind what happens next, which rarely ever turns out well! Before we make decisions, we should look to Jesus and see how He handled difficult situations when He was on earth. Jesus didn't allow His emotions to dictate His actions. We see this in John 11, where Jesus is confronted with the knowledge that His beloved friend Lazarus is dying. It even says in verse 35 that He was so torn up by this that He wept. Yet, He held His emotions in check. He said that the purpose of this sickness was for God's glory, so He needed to allow it. How about me? Do I step back and allow the pain that my child is experiencing to be used by God to bring Himself glory in my child's life? Or do I try to block pain from coming into the lives of my kids, when that very pain could be the delivery method that the Father wants to use? I once heard that if my children are going to know Jesus as the healer, they have to first need healing. If they're going to know Him as Father, they have to need a Father. If they're going to know the Holy Spirit as the comforter, they...

A Boa Constrictor with the Face of Shame

For the first time in our lives my husband and I took a vacation with our best friends – no kids in tow.  We soaked up the California sun and enjoyed our mutual hobby of food! The pastor who officiated our wedding happened to live near our vacation villa, so we included he and his wife in our dinner plans one evening. We arrived at the villa to prepare dinner before Pastor Orr and his wife joined us. I was exhausted from two nights of less than four hours of sleep, and Mark had a touch of car sickness. Our best friends, Ron and Jen, graciously allowed us to rest while they began dinner. Sooner than expected, the doorbell rang announcing our guest’s arrival. My heart lit up with the joy of reunion and I was quickly swept away. I felt like a sponge trying to absorb enough love and light from Pastor Orr and Jan to last me another fifteen years. Dinner was ready before I knew it and when I turned to “help” everything was prepared.   Ron and Jen had set a beautiful table and taken care of every detail. Their level of service to myself and Mark was only matched by the depth of my relational trance with Pastor Orr and Jan. While I relished the affirmation, recounted the difficulties of my teen years while attending their church, and caught up on family news, Ron and Jen continued to serve by clearing the table.  My peripheral vision finally began to draw me into the realization of my relational focus while Ron and Jen joyfully served us.  My mind...

Are We Setting Up Our Children For Divorce?

                  Have you ever left a conversation sick to your stomach over how one conversant treated the other? Sadly, this often occurs in families—among spouses. One spouse, annoyed or overtired, berates their partner, firing off nasty retorts or slipping into name-calling. In the moment, this might not seem like a big deal, but over time, those hurtful words accumulate in the other person’s heart, building tall barriers—barriers, that, if left unchecked, can lead to divorce. A while, after learning of a couple engaging in such tongue-slicing behavior, I began to pray—for the individual doing the slicing, for the one being wounded, for the marriage. I suspected much of this negative behavior had been learned. In fact, most likely the offender wasn’t even aware of the poison flowing from her lips. As I contemplated this, a phrase my daughter often used came to mind. In truth, this phrase seemed rather harmless. After all, it was spoken in jest with no underlying malice, but even so, it was derogatory. As I contemplated her phrase, questions arose: What negative behaviors or attitudes am I allowing her to practice and adopt? Am I diligently training her to speak words of love or have I allowed her to slip into the patterns commonly practiced by those around her? Quite honestly, this upcoming generation has become quite rude and inconsiderate. A quick glance at Facebook or Twitter demonstrates this. Because sarcasm, negativity, and biting words have become the norm, it’s easy to accept them from our children, assuming such disrespect is a normal part of teenagehood.  But...

Patience, Impatience and Perspective

Join Sarah Martin in a conversation about patience and the not-so-fun word…impatience. By looking at Jesus' greatest commandments in Matthew 22:37-40 we find perspective when we are frazzled, spun up and desperatly need some patience. What are some situations lately in your life where you need some godly patience and perspective? How does Matthew 22:37-40 help you with that...

Is “The One” Really Out There?

"On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.'" John 7:37-38 (NIV) As soon as we were old enough to understand fairy tales, we were told to start looking for the one. Someday my prince will come. Someday I'll find my love. As we got older, Prince Charming looked a bit different. Our teenage hearts thrilled when the latest vocal sensation sang about finding us and how our love would last forever. Wherever we turned, we were told our soul mate was waiting. And we were led to believe we were "less than" if we didn't find the one who would complete us! Even now, whether we're 15, 45 or 75, the equation hasn't changed: "Guy + Me = Valuable." So, if the movies, books and songs are so right, how come when we find the one, we can still feel like we're missing something? Why are there married people who are lonely with an emptiness that marriage can't fill? Our hearts can get confused if our reality doesn't match fantasy and we wonder: Maybe my one isn't really the one. Or, whether we're married or single, we might wonder, is the one for me still out there? In this place of uncertainty our hearts can grow perplexed. If we find ourselves in this vulnerable place of questioning, and all of a sudden a guy who seems to be the one enters the picture, it can stir...

Go Make Your Own Dirt

One minute a healthy two year old. The next she is fighting for her life. That’s what a family in our church experienced a few weeks ago. Their child, Caley (name changed), after a normal day of going down the slides, dropping chocolate stains on her clothes, coloring outside the lines, and eating popsicles by the dozen, came down with a severe case of stomach pains. Blood in her stool followed. Endless cries of anguish the next day. And then tense moments in those few minutes in the ambulance playing its chorus off down the highway. Caley had eaten contaminated meat. At the time of this article, she has been in the hospital for two weeks. Her body is out of danger now. But doctors, while optimistic, uttered words I pray to never hear, “She suffered some brain damage due to the swelling. We need to run more tests.” Caley is still in the hospital. While doctors have seen her recover from the initial attack on her body, her brain is slow to catch up. Many people are praying for her. # I gasped when I first heard this story. Then my heart broke thinking of my own daughter, three year old MacKenna. A sense of panic and humility flooded me to know that at any given point, tragedy can strike me. Digest that with me again. At any given point. That thought reminds me of how small I am, how . . . dare I say it, helpless I really am. I can ride my bike for over a hundred miles straight. I can live off a thousand...