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

 

 

 

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“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

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A positive word on politics

Tis the season for Americans political candidates to show the worst in themselves via ads. I truly despise negative ads. There is enough negativity around us to bring us down in this country in spite of all we have to be thankful for…

When I studied abroad as a college senior in Ecuador, I had the opportunity to tour a hospital with a group of medical students. Most of the hospital had no power because the bills hadn’t been paid and there weren’t many nurses around because they were on strike for not being paid for six months. Recently, a friend who returned from a trip to Brazil told me that the teachers in the area he was working in hadn’t been paid in four months and there was a major water issue that likely wouldn’t be resolved until after a new person was elected and in office, which likely would be in about six months.

I don’t know about you but in my town, teachers are being paid (maybe not as much as they should be), but they are being paid. I also had clean water to drink this morning. Americans take for granted the freedoms we have great and small. This election year may be different from the past, but we still have so much to be thankful for. We should exercise  our right to vote, but first find out who and what you are voting for. Go to the party websites, read the small print of what the candidates truly believe and are promoting, and finally vote your convictions. You won’t find a human that is perfect and whom will be a perfect leader. God is the only perfect being period. Pray for whoever is elected so that they may let God lead them to help our country to be successful.

Finally, make positive changes in your home, workplace, church, and neighborhood by refusing to let negative talk define you. Ephesians 4:29 says, “When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. ” Let your kids hear you praying for our country and leaders, their teachers, and community leaders. Be thankful aloud to those around you for the small blessing you have such as clean water. You’ll be amazed how these changes will positively influence your own mind, thoughts and behaviors and in turn influence those around you in a great way.

Proud to be an American,

Natalie Atwell

 

 

Happy, Happy, Happy!

No, this blog has nothing to do with Duck Dynasty but I do love the catch phrase…. Lately, I’ve been encouraged to pray for and seek wisdom. My word of wisdom this week has been how to be happy. I’m generally a happy, silly person, but life is hard and I see so many people seeking after happiness the wrong way. You see I love school supplies and my recent purchase of erasable colored pencils are currently making me happy, but this happiness won’t last b/c I will settle into my Statistics book and the colored pencils I’m sure will not keep my happiness going to page 1000!

First of all, I believe happiness is attainable. Second of all, I do not believe you will be happy if happiness in and of itself is your goal. Third, I think most people are ultimately living to achieve it.

I’ll start with my third thought…the world is full of people trying to find a mate, a career, a calling, etc.. all to be what? Mostly likely, they are looking for happiness. Second, I believe what the bible says about happiness… Consider this:

Matthew 5: 1-12 (my paraphrase and the Message too)

1-The person who stops seeking after selfish things, but wants more of God is blessed/happy.

2-You are happy when you can truly allow yourself to be embraced by God which can be when you’ve lost what is most dear to you.

3-You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. (the message)

4-You are happy when you want God more than anything you could ever want to eat or drink.

5-You are happy when you truly care about others.

6-You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. (the message)

7-You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.(the message)

8-You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom…Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You are happy when you speak truth in love. (the message and me)

You see I’m learning that happiness is a byproduct of doing these things. If you try to do these things with God’s help and focus on these things, happiness will result. If you seek only happiness, you won’t get anything but dissatisfaction. So, get busy caring for others, seeking to be right with God, teaching people to cooperate, being content, choosing God above all else no matter what anyone thinks, and you’ll find true happiness.

“Shoot for heaven and you’ll at least get the world, try for just the world and you’ll likely get nothing” (Tim Keller).

Have a happy, happy, happy week!

Love,

Natalie

The power of confession

No I haven’t switched to Catholicism, although in other denominations of the Christian faith, I think we can learn from this practice…

This week I was reminded of something from my oldest son. He woke me up one evening to tell me he had been lying to me. He was crying and said that he needed to tell me and couldn’t hold it in anymore that he had been lying. His little 8 year old heart was being pricked by God to confess his sin. He told me that he had been skipping pages and not reading entire chapters in a book I was encouraging him to read. At first thought I was relieved that all he was lying about was reading… He even said he had come up with his own punishment which was being grounded for two days.

In that moment, I was reminded that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us. When we confess, God’s grace can abound. If we hold it in, we allow God’s judgment to come. As a parent, my heart softened because of my son’s brokenness. I didn’t want to ground him for two days because he confessed. Our sins still have consequences but when we confess again God is faithful and just to forgive us. My son’s punishment was to read with me the next day instead of being grounded.

My son didn’t see that I wanted him to try a harder book and see if he could enjoy once he got into the book. He also doesn’t understand that I’m trying to help him prepare for reading more difficult material in school next year.

Consider this example…Maybe God is allowing a difficult season in your marriage because you or your spouse is hiding something. If you confess your sin to your spouse and ask for grace, your marriage can be better than it ever was or you can wait until the truth comes out (which it will) and invite God’s judgment on your family…

Who can you confess to? God of course, wise friends, therapists, and/or clergy. Look for someone you trust who will speak the truth in love to you not what you want to hear.

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Love,

Natalie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting Courage In others…

This is the definition of encouragement. Are you putting courage in others?

Recently, I had a friend talk to me about trying to find a new mattress. She and her husband went to 6 or 7 mattress stores. Some were in the same chain…This of course made me wonder why there are so many Mattress stores, which sparked my most recent internet search. Yes, I was the kid who actually love going and pulling the encyclopedias off the shelf to look up things..

An article in the Chicago Tribune stated, “In its best markets, Houston-based Mattress Firm aims to have a store for about every 50,000 people. ‘If you think about how mattresses have been marketed, it’s all about health issues. If you read the ads, mattresses cure everything but balding,'”. This article also said it was an easy purchase during the recession and an increase in infestation of bed buds also promoted sells in recent years.

My friend needed some encouragement to make a needed purchase after 16 years of marriage and one mattress. I put courage in her by recommending a locally owned smaller mattress place and they finally made a purchase!!

I realize this is a silly store to talk about encouragement, but small things are important to God too. He wants you to rest in Him ultimately and help others to find his rest and peace. Encouraging others in big and small things in life can help them to find God’s peace.

Put courage in someone today. Strangers, family, friends, co-workers everyone in your path. Sometimes all it takes is a smile.

Have a great week!

Natalie

I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up..”

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.”