How to respond to evil…

My husband and I recently discovered the Amazon Prime series, “The Man in the High Castle”, which explore what life would be like if Japan and Germany had won WWII. It is a sober, thought-provoking, cliff hanger at the end of every show type of series. I love it but I’ll tell you it make you think and makes you thankful. For example, I would have been exterminated if I was in the Eastern Reich of the States because I was born clubfooted so I’m thankful that I live in a nation where birth defects don’t make you a mistake. However, recently I’ve been thinking even more about making my life matter and doing more for those in need. I was convicted that Americans today are somewhat like the Germans at times by thinking we are better than the rest of the world, happy to live in our nice homes, driving luxury cars, and giving pennies to those in need. It is a sobering yet true thought…

As this thought has been on my heart and I’m praying about what this means for me, I wake up and see the news of Las Vegas… I was reminded of the Bible verse in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome with evil, overcome evil with good.” This is the right way to respond to tragedy. Do good.

It was very sad to see that so many died at a concert last night, but it is also sad that thousands die all over the world of starvation. We cannot be so consumed with ourselves that we miss out on using our blessings as Americans for good.

Here are some ways you can specifically overcome the evil in the world.

Donate to Compassion International. http://www.compassion.com They give food, education and hope to children in extreme poverty.

Pray for the victims and victims’ families from the Las Vegas tragedy.

Pray for the mentally ill in our community and world. Pray for those who work with this population.

Be thankful.

Be kind to a stranger.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Go to a great church and be a part of a family of believers that are working to overcoming evil with good. If you haven’t find one yet, keep searching.

Teach your children to do good and be great people not just great at a sport or activity.

Be encouraged today and overcome this crazy evil world with the good news of Christ today,

Natalie

Advertisements

I said, “Give me the dang iPad…”

Most of my friends feel the same way I do at this point in the summer, which is that we are ready for the wonderful children that God has blessed us with to return to school. Routine, structure and order are great things. God is a god of order. The sun comes up and the sun goes day each day. There are seasons and things function mostly along with a natural order. Summer is a nice time to relax and try new things with your family and friends if you are a parent, but it can also be challenging.

One of the challenges I am having is to cut out technology with my children. I limit their time better during the school year, I’ll admit. I try during the summer and I’ve had days where we’ve had zero tech time, but my kids sure fight me on it. Why is this, one may ask?

Well, it has been argued by many researchers that screen time creates notable changes in brain chemistry, mostly in the area of dopamine release. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical and is highly related to addiction. People want to feel pleasure and if screen time increase pleasure then of course, one wants more and more. Dopamine also plays a role in sugar and cocaine addictions to name a couple. In May 2013, “internet use disorder” (IUD) will be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. So what is the harm, well first of all, you do not want to allow your child to become predisposed to any type of addiction.

Harmful effects of too much screen time in children:

  • Harm to the ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary
  • Weakening of cognitive muscles (which may not be reversed)
  • lack of the ability to develop critical thinking skills.
  • Loss or harm of empathetic abilities—the near-instinctive way you and I can read situations and get a feel for other people—will be dulled, possibly for good.
  • Difficulty in friendships or other relationships. Screen time can become preferred over real-world interactions due to the pleasure associated.
  • Agression, losing touch with reality.
  • Anxiety: being overstimulated constantly can increase anxiety
  • Increased risks of pornography exposure
  • Increased risks of other types of exposure that you are ready for your child to have.

These effects  and others have been known for years. (Psychologytoday.com) However, sadly the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that the average child spends seven hours of their day looking at a screen, be it a video game, computer, cell phone, or television.

Suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org)

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

Here is a helpful tool: HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan.

My recommendations:

-Teach your kids how to limit and the value of limiting screen time. Make them want to spend time with you doing things outside of using technology.

-Model limiting screen time for them. Don’t be an absent parent b/c you are too busy looking at social media.

-Learn how to turn off all technology and go to bed on time. No one needs to be on all of the time. Those who need should not need you 24/7. At some point, they need to figure out what to do without you. Your kids should know how to get help if you aren’t available.

Have dinner together. Don’t allow technology at dinner time or at restaurants. Why do people go out to eat and stay on technology? Can’t they at least just order take out and go home to ignore one another?

Enjoy God’s beautiful creation, go outside, enjoy his creation of actual humans and interactions with them not just interactions online.

Setting new limits as we speak for my family,

Natalie

My Grandma taught me about the “bird and bees”.

I think I was in the 6th grade and stayed with her sometimes after school and I’m not sure how it came up but it was something like…”A girl has a garage and a boy has a car, don’t let a boy put his car in your garage until you are married…” No, my wonderful, amazing parents did not have this talk with me, but good ole’ Granny did…:)

I’ve been studying effective communication between parents and children. One startling statistic I read from http://www.fivethirtyeight.com this week is that on average parents spend about 3 minutes a day in meaningful dialogue with their children. We wonder why they don’t listen…maybe it’s because we don’t.

I also read in an article from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships called, “Parental behaviors related to adolescents’ self-disclosure: Adolescents’ views” by Ana Tokic ́ Ninoslava Pec ́nik,

that the following are reasons according to one study why adolescents’ don’t talk to their parents:

-Parents are distracted, unavailable, show mistrust, interrupt, lack understanding, break confidentiality (I just told grandma…), argue/yell, lecture, show disapproval or disappointment only and give the silent treatment.

Adolescents stated in the same study that parents who do the following make them want to talk to their parents:

-They are positive, creating opportunities for disclosure, ask open-ended questions, recognize their mental status, invite unconditional disclosure, wait for them to talk, provide support, self-disclose, are empathetic, appreciate adolescent disclosure, trust them to keep secrets, give constructive feedback, and approve requests.

So when should this start, if you are a parent, now…even if you have young children…If mine are in trouble and beating themselves up about it, I may share one of the many stories of when I got in trouble like the time I tried to do pull-ups on the towel rack and the sheet rock came down with the rack…Children learn to overcome mistakes and failures by learning from you sharing yours.

Make time for your kids today. They are worth it!

Have a great week!

Natalie

 

 

 

“Make Christmas Great Again, skip church”, says the atheist billboard…

It has been a tough year to listen to the news for many reasons, but at least once a week I try to listen, read, or watch some sort of news outlet to get an idea of what is happening in the world. I am so thankful that I heard about this billboard campaign sponsored by the American Atheists group because if you are one of my two faithful readers…you’ll know I have blogged in a while and this news made me eager to blog!

It is very interesting on so many levels and I am simply going to ask a few rhetorical questions in response to this to get you thinking today.

1-They say, “Make Christmas Great Again…”  which implies that once it was great. How was it great for the atheist I ask in the past?

2-Do we truly know the meaning of Christmas? Yes, this is a question for even the Christians…

3-Will Christmas be great if we simply “skip church”?

4-Are you fulfilled by the materialistic, hurried, people-pleasing through gift-giving, expectant hope of the perfect gift and perfect mate to come thoughts of Christmas for those who celebrate Christmas without believing in the true meaning?

5-Wouldn’t it be more politically correct or accurate rather to say, “Make December Great, skip Christmas?” if you are an atheist?

6-Is it interesting that those who don’t believe in Christianity expect Christians to be tolerate of everything, yet those individuals are extremely intolerant of Christians and their beliefs?

Please think about these questions this season..

Here are my final thoughts… I read this on the pathos.com site, “It is important for people to know religion has nothing to do with being a good person, and that being open and honest about what you believe—and don’t believe—is the best gift you can give this holiday season,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. At first glance of this quote, I sarcastically think, “Oh yeah, let’s go around telling everyone what we believe about them and that is the best gift we can give. For example maybe you think about a drug addict, ‘I think you are a horrible person with no future.’ ” Wow what a gift to give them..your beliefs..

However, then I thought you know this atheist is one to something. First of all, he is exactly right, Christianity has nothing to do with being a good person. It is about Jesus being that good person in our place. Our desire to be a good person after we accept Jesus in our place is because of the realization of how much we are loved and that love overflows to those around us. Maybe all the other religions are about being a good person, but not Christianity! The God of Christianity is truly the only God of grace (unmerited favor-meaning nothing we do would ever be good enough for God, but he loves us anyways and sent his son to pay our debt of being good.) Also, The best gift I can truly give someone as a believer in CHRISTmas is to share my beliefs and be open and honest about those beliefs. The loving thing for me to do is to share Christ and the hope he provides for me! Great thoughts Mr.Atheist!

The sad thing is that many of us will be silent and not share the love we have with others this season. Let’s change that and let others see the greatness of Christmas by sharing with everyone we know the true meaning of Christmas…which is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. What does the simple birth of a baby 2000+ years ago in a cattle trough really mean? Well for Christians, Jesus is the son of God who came to live a perfect life we can’t and to die a death we owe to pay for all of the bad within us. The Jews at the time were expecting a reigning king to come but if God had come in any other form but a lowly human, we couldn’t have handled his wrath and judgment. Instead he came to suffer for us and pay our price for sin (all wrong choices, thoughts, etc.) Christ represents the hope of our future, the peace in our present, and the redemption of our past. This is a truly beautiful thing to share. By the way, you don’t have to go to church or invite someone to church to share the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas,

Natalie

images-1

 

 

 

For those who hate Father’s Day, etc.

This time of year and other times such as Mother’s Day, Valentines, etc. are not exactly exciting for everyone. I read a story once about a prison doing a Mother’s Day project and the lines were so long for those inmates wanting to send their mothers cards. The project was such a success that they tried it again on Father’s day, however for Father’s day no one showed up to send a card to a father. My dad used to be a prison chaplain and he had all kinds of cards available to give to inmates. He took us to sing at the prison chapel often and we loved it as kids growing up. Those men were so receptive to God’s love and so humble too. Dad never threatened to leave us thankfully for bad behavior, although he may have been tempted..The sad reality is not everyone has a great father or mother for whom to buy a card. Also, someone could be grieving the loss of a great mother or father and these great displays in stores could be painful to see in stores. There are many reasons why one wouldn’t or couldn’t celebrate all of the holidays we have here in the US.

So, here is my suggestion..If you don’t have a good one (dad, mom, valentine, etc) adopt one. I adopt all types of family members even if I have a good one, fill in the blank. For example, if you don’t like your father or you miss yours find someone you admire, look up to, or are friends with and buy a card for this person. If you can’t find someone you admire, keep trying! Go out and meet some more people. Get off of social media and go meet your actual neighbor. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Let people love you and be friends with you. Open yourself up. I realize no one can replace a lost loved one but there are people still in your life that need the love you can give and who want to love you in return. Focus on the present and who you have and tell someone Happy Father’s Day!

Lastly, if you have a good one, be sure to tell him too!

Natalie

Romans 12: 8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

John 15:12-13 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

 

 

 

Davidson college grads do not…

…talk about bodily functions or simply pass gas and make a big deal about it. This I know after a conversation with my boss. Her husband is a Davidson grad. My response was, “I wish my husband would have graduated from Davidson”. I’ve asked him to up our 529 plans for the kids in hopes that my stinky boys will go want to go to Davidson in the future. People belong to all types of groups, alumni organizations, clubs, churches, families, etc. I learned last week that Anderson Cooper is from the Vanderbilt family which owns a famous NC tourist home, the Biltmore House. Most of us are not from prominent families in the US or other parts of the world but we belong to something, someone, or some group.

I heard a great message this past Sunday night on belonging. It made me think about how what we belong to directs our actions. For example, as mentioned above Davidson grads. don’t do certain things. :). My husband, who is proud of his bodily functions aka smart but not a Davidson grad., went to a hairband weekend convention/concert or something over the weekend. He had plenty of time to people watch and see what some of the band groupies were like. He isn’t a groupie or even fan of this music, but his friends are so he went along on a road trip to hang out with the guys. Oh the things we can get ourselves into simply because of who we are friends with. Some good and some not so good. Maybe we are trying to wear certain brands, play on certain courses, or enroll our kids in certain schools..think about why these things matter to you in terms of a sense of belonging. Do they really matter or should they long term if this is all you think or talk about?

Who you consider yourself to belong to is foundational in your life. Being someone who believes in God makes a difference in my life. If I simply belonged to a family, a club, or a group these things can and will let me down, change, and/or fail me. However, I believe God will never change, is in control of all things and I believe that he will never leave me. I belong to God means I have hope. Also being a believer in Jesus and having the hope that he paid my penalty for all my wrongs, means I should a act in certain ways. People should see and feel love, joy, peace, forbearance (tolerance and patience when I’m annoyed), kindness, gentleness, and self control in me because I am loved and should love others in these ways.

God put a desire to belong in all of us, I believe to draw us to him. What are you putting in place of your true belonging. Is it more important that you are a crossfit junkie, a soccer mom, or even a church member than it is to belong to God in your life?

Consider who you associate with, who you or what drives your actions and choices, and who you belong to today and everyday and act accordingly. I also suggest acting like a Davidson grad in the way mentioned above even if you aren’t one!

Love,

Natalie

 

 

 

 

No thank you Super Bowl commercial!

mqdefaultThanks to the Super Bowl commercial about leaving the water faucet on…my husband has a new method in trying to get me to turn the water off while I’m brushing my teeth. He gently reminds me that people in the world are in need of the water I’m wasting.

I realize this is an issue for me and I’m working on it. However, guilt is not always a good method in trying to get others to change. Sure it works sometimes, but does it result in a true change of heart. A true change of heart is much more effectively in long term change. A change of heart involves a difference in perspective, will, emotions, and thoughts about an issue, person, or object.

What have you been trying to change? Eating habits, lifestyle, negative or harmful thoughts.

Consider praying about a change of heart considering the matter. Use the following questions as you search your heart:

-Does this view or practice effect me negatively?

-Does this view or practice positively impact others?

-Is this view or practice harmful to my physical body?

-Is it harmful to me spiritually?

-Is is harmful to my mind, will, and emotions?

-Is it harmful to my community?

-Does God honor this thing or view?

-Is this thing or object an idol in my life? Does it matter above all else?

-How much time do I spend on this thing?

-Am I scared to talk to others about this thing?

If you honestly consider the struggles you have by using these questions, you may be able to open enough to allow God to change your heart.

Have a great week!

Natalie

PS If you’d like to help give water to someone in need around the world, visit http://www.compassion.com for more information!