Ready to Launch: The Final Countdown

In exactly eleven weeks from today, my daughter graduates from high school. It is the spring of my daughter’s senior year, the final countdown. She turns eighteen on Sunday and she is so ready to launch. The question is, Am I ready to let her? The answer is—no, I’m not. Even though I must, I will never be ready to let her go.

Several months ago, I realized the time of my oldest daughter listening to me had mostly passed. She’s over it. She’s over me. And I have to live with the statistic that says most likely she will walk away from her faith, at least for a time. Ugh!

She is going to a state university, which means she will be surrounded by mostly non Christians. Her roommate isn’t a believer, and while her boyfriend is a great kid, he isn’t a believer either. Strike one, strike, two, strike three! She has stacked the deck against her faith. Is her faith strong enough to stand? I certainly hope so. Only time will tell.

As the clock winds down, the question is, What have I missed?

I am a procrastinator. I have always thought, I’ll have one more trip with her…one more summer with her…one more spring break with her…. And then I woke up one day to realize my last chance had already come and gone. I don’t have one more.

Do I trust God with my child? Do I trust a God who has given her free will?

Of course, I love the concept of free will—when I’m talking about myself or my peers. When it comes to my kids, not so much. However, God has given her, as he has given me, the opportunity to choose him, or not. It is a sobering reality.

When my girls were little, their dad and I held their “free will” in our hands. We decided religion for them. Their “free wills”  were in safe keeping with us until they were old enough. We took them to church, youth group and signed them up for VBS and summer camp. We tried to pack the knowledge of God and His Word into their little heads and hearts.

Eventually, however, the time does come to give them ownership of their free will. As uncomfortable as it is, we must allow them to have it. They must choose who they will live for and what they will believe about the world and truth.

Have I done everything I possibly could to pass on a strong faith in Christ to her in the last eighteen years? Not a chance. As parents, we always come up short. Daily I see things that I have neglected to teach her well enough. Don’t get me wrong—she is a wonderful kid—an awesome kid. No doubt about it. She will grow up to be a good person. But, I am setting the bar higher than raising her to be a “good person.” I want her to love the Lord and follow him.

My best is all I can do for my daughters. Yet, it isn’t enough. I know this. I grieve this reality. The only perfect parent is our Heavenly Father.

An excerpt from Pouring In . . . . 


Last summer Emily had knee surgery. As they were preparing her for surgery, I gazed at her face. It hadn’t changed since she was four years old. She was my sweet, freckle faced, beautiful girl. My girls are beautiful and precious. It’s hard to believe that I could love anyone as much as I love them.

I held her hand as the nurse secured her IV. Within a few seconds her eyes rolled back in her head and she was making strange sounds with her mouth. Her body convulsed in shock. I thought she was having a seizure. The nurses ran in to attend to her. She turned pale and grabbed her chest. What is happening? I thought! Panic swept through my body as I caressed her forehead and tried to soothe her. It was terrifying. Emily’s body seemed to be fighting something and I couldn’t do anything to help her. Jesus, please help my sweet Emily, I prayed.

The episode was short and she quickly regained consciousness. Color returned to her face as sweat dripped off her brow. Even though the incident was short-lived, and she was fine, those twenty or thirty seconds felt like an eternity.

There is nothing more terrifying to a parent than to see your child unconscious and convulsing. I thought about how much I loved my girls, and how losing either one of them would end me (it wouldn’t—God is good). These girls are my lifeblood. They are my beating heart.

The intense love a parent has for a child is a beautiful part of life. Love makes life worth living. The greatest job I have as a parent is loving my children. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not.


After loving my firstborn for so long, letting go is hard. It’s like losing an arm or a foot. She is part of me. However, I have to remind myself that she was only on loan to me for a time. She was never really mine, she was always His. She is a child of God. And nobody will ever love her more than He does.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Recently, my husband and I had a heart to heart with my fifteen year old daughter. She was upset with me and laid it all out on the table.

She spelled out what I was doing wrong as a parent and as a person and how it bothered her. Why couldn’t I be like other moms? I read between the lines. I could feel my heart begin to crumble. As her disappointments and my shortcomings were laid out in front of me, my soul cowered under the weight. Like a World War II plane that’s been hit and is going down, “mayday, mayday!”

Every parent must come to terms with the fact that they are not a perfect parent.

On the surface there was truth in what she said. I was complaining too much, and being too judgmental. I needed to work on my attitude toward others and the world. I needed to have more love, more compassion, and more acceptance. However, there was a lot she didn’t know. She didn’t see the weight I carried or the emotional battles I fought every day.

My daughters saw what I allowed them to see. They only saw the tip of the iceberg. They didn’t know what my life was like before them. They didn’t know about the missing pieces in my soul from my past. They saw only what came out, unaware of what was kept in.

And then she asked this question, “Why can’t we be a normal family?” And there it was. The final blow. I was between a rock and a hard place.

In the words of Joyce from Stranger Things, “this is not a normal family.” I can relate.

I suffer from depression. I have sheltered my kids from this for most of their lives as most people with depression probably do. What choice does one have?

It is important to let kids, as they become young adults, see the humanness of their parents.

However, the last couple years as my kids have begun to mature into young adulthood, I have started letting them see behind the curtain a little bit. I thought it might prepare them for life. Especially if they are prone to depression. However, what I have shown them is still a small portion of what I carry.

How does a parent with depression raise a teenager and survive? How does a person who is already emotionally fragile take the arrows of a hormonal adolescent?

Our woundedness is laid bare when our kids become teenagers.

They don’t see my brokenness. They don’t see the child that felt lonely and rejected. They don’t understand depression. Not many people do.

My daughter doesn’t know the details of my story. She doesn’t know my pain. And she can’t. She won’t. I won’t put that on her. However, what comes out of me is partially a product of my pain, loss, and childhood issues. It isn’t an excuse. It is an explanation.

She doesn’t know how hard I have to fight, or how high I have to climb everyday just to get to where everyone else starts out.

The tension is letting my teenager get more of a glimpse of the real person behind the mom—the real, flawed person. The tension is knowing that she can only have half of the story. And knowing that she will judge based on her limited understanding.

Let’s face it, being judged hurts. Especially if its coming from your children, your kids in whom you have poured your soul. Those for whom you have sacrificed everything. They know none of this. That is the sacrifice of parenting.

I have to be the grown up. I have no choice but to deal with the pain of my past and deal with the pain of the judgement of my kids at the same time. And do it all without blaming or explaining. Only through God’s strength is this possible. Without Him I would crumble.

 

Putting up the Mirror so We Can Pass on Our faith

The following in an excerpt from Kim’s upcoming book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.


I was twenty seven and clueless when I had my firstborn. I was actually amazed they let me leave the hospital with my daughter, Emily. How could they let ME walk out of here with a baby? Are they crazy?

Through the years, my husband and I fumbled around going this way and that, doing the best that we could as young parents. We were tossed to and fro by well-intentioned advice and made many mistakes.

We were typical American, Christian parents. Purposefully or not, we mirrored things in our parenting that we observed from our parents, the media, the culture, our community, the Internet and our church. All of which seemed like a sufficient group of resources.

But were they sufficient? Did they point us in the right direction?

I can tell you what my husband and I, and the affluent community where we lived, were focusing on in regards to raising our children.

We believed things like . . . . .

  • Our kids’ self esteem is so important, they must never feel bad
  • Education is most important in our kids’ lives
  • We must always say ‘yes’ to our kids to produce a positive environment
  • Kids’ happiness should be the focus of parenting
  • We need to teach our kids to love themselves
  • Our kids should have everything that they want 

You might get lucky and raise a good kid with this set of values. He or she might do well in school and seem well adjusted and happy. Or, he or she may end up entitled, self-centered, or at the very least, worldly.

75% of young adults raised in a Christian home leave the church after they leave the home. Think about that—on average, three out of every four kids attending your youth group won’t be attending any church a few years from now.
~www.crossexamine.org

Though the numbers may vary slightly from one study to the next, they all come to the same conclusion—we are losing our kids.

Is there no manual for parenting? Well, there is and there isn’t. Among the many books on Christian parenting, only one is essential. The Bible is the best parenting book there is, because it was written by the first parent that ever was. It sounds like a cliché, but it is absolutely true. It doesn’t contain every possible question or scenario we might encounter in parenting. But, is it sufficient? You betcha!

Why?

Because the key to being a good parent is primarily determined by who you are, not what you do.

It’s who you are that shapes your kids. In fact, it’s challenging to point to a Sticky Faith factor that is more significant than you.
~ Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark, Sticky Faith


If we are to make a dent in the problem of young people leaving the faith, we must be willing to look in the mirror. We, as Christian parents are the first step in the equation of our kids’ faith.

Our character, attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle reflect the status of our faith. Is it alive? Do we live what we believe. Or, is it dead?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.   James 2:17

Our kids will know if our faith is real, or if it isn’t.

Teenagers Young Team Together Cheerful Concept

I want my kids to leave my house as disciples of Christ . . . . not just Christians.  Disciples not only believe, they are students of Christ and they follow Him. Making disciples starts in our homes with our kids. And we have to parent differently if we are going to raise up a generation of disciples.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Prayer, the Power Behind the Parent

Recently my kids had a snow day and school was closed, again. Just enough freezing drizzle was coming down to coat the roads with ice. Between school closings and the numerous two-hour delays we have had, the kids have not had a full week of school since the new year. Are my kids ever going to go to school? I wonder each morning as I check my phone.

As I thought about a whole day with my girls at home, I started to get stressed. Not because I have to play with them and entertain them all day like when they were little, but because they are teenagers and want to spend every second on YouTube, Netflix, SnapChat, Instagram, or texting. Our kids’ world is saturated with things that encourage laziness and wasting time.

We have an extra bedroom that I like to call the Kurtz “dump.”  It’s everyone’s favorite place in the house to unload all their trash and unwanted items. Why throw it away when you can just toss it across the hall and close the door? Piles of clothes and shoes, boxes of picture frames, old toys and stuffed animals, miscellaneous furniture, and books and games filled every inch.

Personally, I had better things to do than clean the “dump” today. However, since Bible study was canceled, and the girls were unexpectedly home, this was my chance. I had to make the most of it.

Today’s the day! I thought, as I jumped out of bed. After letting my kids sleep in a little (I am not a monster!), I informed them of my plan. Needless to say, my teenagers didn’t share my enthusiasm.

My oldest daughter proceeded to yell and whine because she wanted to sleep more and already had plans.

“Every other kid gets to do what they want when school is closed. Their parents don’t make them do stuff on snow days, they are all at work!” She wailed.

It brought me back to the days of her terrible twos that lasted until about age ten. My daughter was having a temper tantrum, once again, at seventeen, and I snapped. Oh, did I snap! Yelling ensued. Lord, forgive me.

Both of us eventually calmed down and we all worked on the room.

As I was telling this story to my cousin the next night, she asked, “How did you get her to calm down?” I tried to remember, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that softened our hearts and diffused the argument.

After thinking about it later that evening, I remembered I had been praying intensely for her. One could say I had been groaning in prayer for her. At almost eighteen, the season of raising this child was coming to a close. Panic had definitely set in.

Had I done enough?
Had I taught her everything she needed to know?
Will she make wise choices?
Will she choose to love and serve the Lord?

It’s definitely crunch time with my oldest. And I have felt it everyday for the last year. I have lived with the guilt of being an imperfect parent. I have seen the holes in our parenting arise as she has become a young adult. We can’t hide them anymore.

However, God gently reminds me that my kids have “free will” just as I do. Many things are out of my hands. They get to choose who they will become, who they will love, and who they will live for. And they might have a bumpy and windy road to the cross, just as I did.

So, how did the explosive fight end that icy morning?

It was prayer and the Holy Spirit that allowed love to enter in. Words of love and compassion started coming out of my mouth. It wasn’t me, though. It was God the Father loving on her through me. Yes, I love her deeply, but in that moment I couldn’t have been loving.

God is so good and honors our prayers in ways we can’t even imagine. He makes us better than we are. And prayer might be the only chance we have of raising teenagers who love the Lord in this crazy world.

We need to be persistent in prayer. We need to trust it’s power. God will honor His promises found in Scripture if we are faithful.

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

You may not feel the Holy Spirit when you pray. You may not feel you are getting answers. Through prayer, however, the Spirit of God changes us from the inside. He refines our inner places in ways that we can never imagine or know to pray for.

If you have a teenager, what have you got to lose? Pray for your teenagers. God will bless you as you seek Him and seek to love your teenager/s well. He will give you what you don’t have. He will give you everything you need.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3


Pre-order Kim’s new book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids coming out February/March 2018.

Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

So Thankful for My Teenagers

Sitting in the car on a cold November day while Jess was at her guitar lesson, I prayed, please, Lord, don’t let this put a wedge between us. Outside, the giant ornamental grass was waving back and forth in the wind as if it were mocking me. I looked out the other window at a mom and little girl who were getting out of their car. I watched as the sweet child followed her mother like a baby duck. And my heart ached a little. Gone are those days.

My oldest daughter and I had an argument just before we left the house. Leading up to this, we had been enjoying a few weeks of harmony in the house (sort of). I was feeling good about my relationship with Emily. Needless to say, we were due for some conflict.

The disagreement had to do with coloring her hair. I wasn’t telling her she couldn’t color her hair. I was telling her she couldn’t do it at her boyfriend’s house.

A couple months ago, she was gone all the time. She spent just about every waking moment at her boyfriend’s house. If you have had teenagers, you know drawing boundaries is not their strong suit. God created us to have boundaries. They keep us safe and they keep us healthy. The teenage years are the prime time to teach kids about boundaries.

My husband kept saying, “don’t worry about it, I was never home when I was in high school.” So, we let it go on too long. And eventually, we had to pull in the reigns. We sat her down and told her the new rules. She had to come home after school. She was not to shower, nap, or change clothes at her boyfriend’s house. And she had to be home after school until evening, be home one full day a week, and be home by five on Sundays. In other words, she needed to be reminded that she lived HERE. And that her home, where she lived, needed to be her home base.

The incident began when she mentioned she was going over to her boyfriend’s house to color her hair as she was walking out the door. After thinking it through, I texted her, telling her that if she was going to color her hair, she needed to do it at home, or with girlfriends. Not at her boyfriend’s house.

A text argument ensued until she realized she wasn’t getting anywhere, so she called me. As I paced around the house, debating with my seventeen year old, I felt as if I was walking a tightrope. The words, and my tone of voice had to be perfectly placed. Preserving the relationship was so important. I continued to say no in a calm and controlled manner, and explained why. After she gave up and our conversation ended, she texted the following:

“You can punish me, but there is literally no reason. If I was doing something wrong, I would feel bad, but I don’t, cuz I’m not doing anything wrong.”

It was such a perfectly teenagery thing to say, that I had to chuckle a little. This wrong thinking of my daughter is why she has parents. If it feels good it must be okay, right? Wrong. This age is the perfect time to teach our kids that feelings cannot be relied on, and that they must know the truth and stay connected to the vine.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

After the matter had been settled and she knew what the consequences would be if she disobeyed, Jess and I left for guitar lesson. I texted her something sweet, hoping to smooth things over, and prayed and prayed. And the next morning, we were okay. And I felt so very blessed. Emily and Jessica are the loves of my life. I never imagined how in love with them I would become seventeen years ago. I am so lucky and priviledged to be their mom. I am so thankful. Even in the tumultuous teenage years, I wouldn’t trade this time for the world.

I am so thankful for the family that God has blessed me with. I am thankful for a God who’s love endures forever and who died for me. I am thankful that God is good. I am thankful for the conversation about faith that we had with our kids the other night. I see God working in their lives. I see Him drawing their hearts to His. And I see wisdom and maturity growing. God is so good!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

How Important Is Self Esteem?

A few years ago, my daughter went on a junior high retreat. When she got home, I asked her what they talked about in their large group sessions. The only thing that she could remember was self esteem.

Self esteem has been a hot topic since I was a teenager in the ‘80s. Anywhere there is a gathering of kids or youth, this seems to be a hot topic.

I have always been a people pleaser. Humility is a natural thing for me almost more than pride is . . . almost.

Am I always humble? Absolutely not. I will always struggle with pride, with wanting what I want, and being selfish. I am human.

However, I had many challenges in childhood that caused me to think less of myself, or have “low self esteem.” Is this a curse? Or is this a gift?

Is it possible that I am capable of more humility than most people because I started out with such a low image of myself? If that is the case, then thank you God for low self esteem!

Because of my humble beginnings, I have been open to seeing how enormous God is. I didn’t have to “get over myself” quite as much when elevating God in my life. I was never as much about myself to begin with. And God has been showing me my great worth in Him and because of Him.

God has not built me up through the years, He has been revealing more of Himself to me. I no longer care how small I may be. He is great and mighty and that gives my soul peace and freedom. Yes, I still believe that I am wretched, but I have been redeemed by an almighty God.

Self-confidence, popularly conceived is not a virtue. It is a vice. It has at its root pride. —Paul Gould

We must teach our kids to highly esteem God, not themselves. That is what God asks of all of us. He asks us to be a servant to all. Just as Christ was.

He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:7-8 (NIV)

While self esteem focuses inward, God teaches us to focus outward and upward.

Those on the self-confidence bandwagon are placing their identity in the wrong thing! We ought not to be so confident in the self.  —Paul Gould

Are we teaching our kids to love themselves? Do we realize that God’s Word teaches the exact opposite?

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25

Teaching our kids to love themselves contradicts the Word of God. And it can lead to pride.

Instead of teaching kids that they should think highly of themselves, we should teach them about the greatness of our God. Instead of focusing on praising our kids, we need to focus on glorifying God who above everything and everyone. What if we taught our kids not to focus on themselves, but on the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ?

All the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. Philippians 3:8-9 (The Message)

If we taught kids mainly about God’s worth and the joy of knowing Him instead of loving themselves, the emotional health of future generations would greatly improve.

So, I am not going to teach my kids to love themselves, or worry about their “self esteem.” I am not going to go over the top with praise, or continuously feed their egos. I am going to teach them the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ. And that because of Him, they have great worth as God’s beloved children.

Our kids’ worth should come from being sons and daughters of the King. And their worth should come from knowing that God loves them so much that He sent His Son to die for each one of them.

Sexing Up Our Teenagers

I sit in my sun porch as the warm breeze caresses my face. It has been deliciously warm and sunny the last couple weeks. The birds sing their lovely melody, the trees rustle in the wind, and the smell of freshly cut grass fills the air. And life emerges once again.

As I breathe in the delightful air, I think to myself, “What could spoil this perfect spring day?” And then my teenage daughter walks in and tells me she wants to go swimsuit shopping. And it hits me. “Oh yeah . . . swimsuit season, that’s what!”

I dread swimsuit season. And not just because I am a middle age woman who has birthed 2 kids (that’s another post altogether!), but because I have teenage daughters.

I don’t need to tell you that modesty is not a culturally popular concept in this country. Anyone who walks the streets, watches tv or social media, or goes in the juniors department of a clothing store, can see it.

Much like chivalry, modesty is a lost art. Super sexy, super skimpy swimsuits and shorts fill the shelves at stores where teenagers shop. And the sexy stuff is always in the juniors departments. Is it just me, or is this totally backwards?!

Why does our culture want teenage girls to be super sexy and show as much skin as possible? It doesn’t make sense.

Most people would probably agree that we shouldn’t be encouraging teenagers to have sex. Yet, the message that we put out there says the exact opposite. Why do we market the sexiest things to teenagers?! It’s crazy!

Being a conservative Christian family, we talk about God’s model for sex in marriage. Let’s go a step further and say that “sexy” not just “sex” is for marriage too.

“Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”  1 Timothy 2:9-10

Teenagers flaunting their sexuality just invites trouble.  Let’s not encourage our daughters to hang out on the cliff of temptation.

The last thing parents want to do is create an environment where teenagers are constantly thinking about sex. But, that is exactly what we are doing.  Young girls in skin tight jeans, ridiculously short shorts, and yoga pants that leave nothing to the imagination are the norm. This only creates distraction for the boys and objectifies the girls.

What does God’s Word have to say about modesty?

pig-nose-ringLike a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.  Proverbs 11:22

I don’t think that any teenage girl would appreciate being compared to something in a pig’s snout! Ha!

Most teenage girls have adorable, cute bodies. Ahhh, I remember those days! Perfect time to show it off, right?! Wrong! We want our daughters to become women of character. And modesty will get them there.

Teenage girls need to learn that even though they could wear the shortest shorts or the string bikini and look sexy, it is far more valuable to be a young woman of character.  “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” the old adage says.

Wearing skimpy and provacative clothes can lead to a misguided self-worth.  If girls are getting a lot of attention because of their bodies or their pretty face at a young age, they may never really learn their God-given value. And they may struggle with their identity for the rest of their lives.

This has been a huge struggle in my life. And, to this day, I have a really difficult time feeling like I have value beyond my appearance. It is sad. And I don’t want my girls to struggle like I have.

Teenage girls need to know that they don’t have to show off their bodies to be OK.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

My daughters, however, see what the stores sell and what most of their friends wear. They wonder, “Why shouldn’t I be able to wear a bikini when everyone else is?” I wonder, “Why aren’t there modest choices?”

As a parent of teenage girls, I feel like David and Goliath when it comes to modesty. And I’m not sure the slingshot is going to do the trick.

In the midst of our sex-crazed society, how do we teach our daughters the importance of modesty?

A Plea To Parents of Teenage Boys

A month ago, Jessica my youngest, a freshman in high school, rode the bus to school. It was a very cold morning with wind chills in the single digits. As she was waiting in line for the bus, shivering, a bunch of boys walked up and cut in front of her in line. I guess they were joining their friend who was already in line ahead of her. The boys got on the bus first, one by one, as she waited behind them shivering in the freezing cold.

Gone are the days of chivalry. Gone are the days of teaching boys to be respectful to girls and women.

There is more to being a young man of integrity than holding the door open. Although a good thing for boys to be taught to do, young boys need to be taught to treat girls delicately and respectfully.

Chivalry starts with opening doors, and occasionally letting a girl go first in line. Or giving up their seat for a female classmate. And they should never push or shove girls in the hallways of schools.

“What is she smoking?” you might be thinking. This is 2017, chivalry went out the window a long time ago. 

A majority of what I have seen through my daughters is teenage boys treating teenage girls like objects for their enjoyment. Teenage girls are not treated with respect. What I have seen is boys hurting and taking advantage of girls, not protecting them or keeping them safe.

Did you know that according to Kholofelo Mashiloane, “The term (chivalry) was originally coined in Medieval times, describing a knight who followed a code of conduct. That code had far less to do with the doors he opened, the bills he paid, or the romantic words that gushed from his mouth–and far more to do with his character and his heart.”

A true man of chivalry was a man who protected the rights of the weak, displayed strength, character and courage. A man of chivalry was known for his integrity, his loyalty, his faith, and the way he feared his God. A man of chivalry was defined by his respect and honor for women, and his willingness to lay down his rights.  ~Kholofelo Mashiloane

And how does a man get to be a true man of chivalry? He needs to be taught these things, as a boy, primarily by his father.

Fathers need to step it up. It is my plea. Please, fathers, teach your sons the right way to treat girls. Teach them to cherish, value and protect them. Not to use them. Teach them to see teenage girls through God’s eyes. I beg you, as a mother of two teenage girls.

Are fathers of boys teaching them chivalry? Are they teaching their sons the correct way to treat girls? Are fathers teaching boys how to be Godly men?

I don’t see it.

Don’t get me wrong, teenage girls can be pretty awful too; to each other and to boys. But when it comes to matters of the heart, girls are often preyed upon. The heart of a teenage girl is so fragile, so tender. And I have seen teenage boys stomp all over a girl’s heart when he is bored of her.

And I am not just talking about unchurched boys.

Currently, I am writing a chapter entitled, “Are we Different?” for my book, Pouring In, exploring that very question. Most teenage boys in the church and probably girls too are not different because of their faith. Our teenagers have blended into the culture . . . just like we have.

What if there are boys who are predators within the youth group at church? Who is going to protect the girls in the church from the boys? Do we have a responsibility to protect them?

A friend of mine from church who has all boys once said to me. “I really wish parents of teenage girls would make them dress modestly. It’s really hard for teenage boys when girls walk around in next to nothing!”

Ever since she said that, I have tried to enforce rules of dressing modestly for my girls. I have tried to support her as a mother of teenage boys. Parents of girls should be teaching them about the importance of not causing their brothers in Christ to sin. That is my job as a mother of girls.

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.  1 Corinthians 8:13

It seems to me, at 14 and 16, Christian boys—boys in the church—should be treating girls with more dignity and respect. They are old enough to have been taught what it means to be a young man. They are old enough to handle relationships in a more mature manner.

But, I don’t see it.

Kholofelo Mashiloane writes in his blog post, “A Real Man Of CHIVALRY,” the following.

A real man may open your door but more importantly, he opens his heart, his feelings, and gives of his life.
A real man may pay for your meal but he’s also willing to selflessly lay down his rights.
A real man may carry your bag but more than that he will gently hold your heart.
A real man may offer you his coat in the cold but he will ultimately offer you his respect, honor, and loyalty that’s displayed in how he lives his life.
A real man is one who imitates Christ in the way he loves.

Christian fathers must teach their teenage boys what it means to be “a real man.” If fathers are silent about this, the world will teach them plenty. And that’s mostly what we see. Boys misusing their sexuality and taking advantage of girls.

So, my plea is to fathers of teenage boys. It is up to YOU to teach your son the appropriate way to treat girls. It is up to YOU to teach your son how to treat a girl in a dating relationship. It is up to YOU to teach your son how to restrain his sexuality, and to protect and preserve the purity of girls around them.

I write this out of desperation, out of frustration, and out of anger for how boys have treated my daughters, boys in the school and in the church. I feel helpless and sad for them that this is the world I have brought them into. A world where a majority of teenage boys are selfish at best and predators at worst.

 

To Date or Not To Date

Just when you think you know what you are doing as a parent. Just when you think “I’ve got this.” Just when you think you are a decent parent, your kids start dating. Then everything you thought you knew goes out the window. And you start over from square one.

Should we let our teenagers date? How old is old enough?

Kids in this country often start dating at such as young age. Kids are “dating” in middle school and even elementary. And by high school, they are playing house.

American culture has defined dating for teenagers as kissing, having sex, and using the word “babe” after every sentence. They try to act like they are practically married. It’s scary that this is the “norm.”

The emphasis of dating is on the physical not the relational or the spiritual.

A girl should get so lost in God, that a guy has to seek Him to find her.
~John Piper, Desiring God

There are two reasons why teenagers shouldn’t date in high school.

First, the obvious reason of teens and sex. It is hard to think of how many years my girls have before they will likely marry. If they get married at the same age I did, it will be in eight to ten years. That is a long time not to have sex in this culture.

Unless you live under a rock you probably know that most teens are having sex. And that includes those in the church. A significant number of kids from Christian households are growing up and deciding to have sex before marriage.

“80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex.” ~John Blake, CNN, “Why young Christians aren’t waiting anymore”

We are such a sex crazed nation. We have so perverted sex that it doesn’t seem to even resemble what God designed it to be. How do you come back from that? Is there any hope for our kids to remain pure?

Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.  Song of Solomon 8:4

If our kids awaken love at an early age, they may do things that they will later regret.

Second, we shouldn’t let our teenagers date in high school because it takes their focus off of God, family and school. Our kids’ jobs as teenagers is to love and obey God and His Son Jesus, to love their family, and to learn a skill or trade (go to school!). That’s pretty much it!

Same sex friends and church are also an important part of our teenagers’ lives. They need to be learning how to love others and participate in a community.

Anything else is pretty much a distraction at their age.

However, each parent has to decide what is best for their kids and their family. You know your teen. If you don’t let them date, are they likely to withdraw from you and sneak around? Or, will they be upset at first, but basically obey you? We should consider these things when making our decision.

We must weigh the risk of a breakdown of communication with our kids. Fostering open communication with our teenagers is crucial. Parenting teens requires a delicate balance. It is like walking a tightrope over a very deep canyon. If you get it wrong, you can fall to your death.

I am not saying that we should parent out of fear. However, very few of the issues parents face with teenagers are black and white.

Sometimes I miss the days when my girls were little and right and wrong was clear and obvious. I was an awesome parent then! But now I realize, even though young parents are physically exhausted and don’t have much time for themselves, it is much easier to know what to do. My husband and I have faced so many gray areas in our parenting lately that we have forgotten what black and white look like! It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I am in no way judging parents who do let their kids date in high school. We did. However, I am realizing that the ideal would have been for our kids to have waited to date. That would have been the ideal.

However, how much of life is ideal? Not much, I find. Especially in parenting teenagers in America in 2017! We do the very best we can, and realize that we are not perfect parents. I am not even close!

Ultimately, only God knows what twists and turns our kids will make on their way to the cross.

But, we can pray, and teach them that there isn’t anything that can separate them from the love of God. And that there is nothing they can do to earn, or lose, the grace that has been freely given to them.

A man 2,000 years ago hung on a cross, bloodied and beaten, for your kids and mine. Their sins have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That is all the hope we need.


Kim Kurtz is writing a book called, Pouring In: Instilling a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation, due to come out this fall. A majority of Christian kids leave the faith after they leave home. She explores why this is happening and what Christian parents can do differently to change the outcome for their kids.

 

Is Your Faith Contagious? 3 Things Teenagers Need To See In Their Parents

On a mission, I grabbed the Clorox wipes and hurried to the kitchen. All I could see was a teeming cesspool of germs. My daughter had just gotten over the flu and strep. So, I wiped down the refrigerator handles, the microwave, the faucets, door handles, and the knobs on the stove.

It has been a rough winter in our household. We have all been sick a lot. Thank goodness for the MinuteClinic! In-out-on antibiotics-and back to bed! And just my style . . . . no doctors!

Just like those pesky germs, our character, who we are, is likely to be contagious. Contagious to those around us, and contagious to our kids.

Think about it, have you ever caught yourself mimicking things your parents said or did during your childhood? We all have.

Our character is contagious. And if we are living a life in obedience to Christ, our faith will be contagious as well.

We, as Christian parents, are the first step in the equation of our kids’ faith. Whether our kids develop a personal, and passionate faith, or a casual, watered down faith, depends a great deal on the faith and character of Mom and Dad.

We are told that if we live by the Spirit we will bear fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22–23

If we long to reflect the image of Jesus in front of our kids, all of these characteristics should be our goal. However, there are three overarching themes in the character of Christ, under which everything else falls.

There are three characteristics of Christ that teenagers need to see in their parents to make following Him irresistible.

They must see . . .

1) Love

Kids must see their parents being people that love much. Love God, love their kids, and love others.

If someone asked you if you loved God, you would probably say, yes. We all would. But what does it really mean to love God? Love is not a feeling or a fact. As DC Talk sang back in the ‘90s, “Luv is a Verb.”

As disciples of Christ, we must actively, willfully, deliberately, intentionally, and fully love God and His Son, Jesus Christ above all else.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30-31

Michael Smalley posed this question during the sermon he gave at our church this Sunday. “What was Jesus’ love language?”

We all know the love languages from Gary Chapman’s 1995 book, The Five Love Languages.

  1. receiving gifts
  2. quality time
  3. words of affirmation
  4. acts of service
  5. physical touch

“What was Jesus’ love language?” I repeated in my head. I figured it was a trick question. All of them?

Michael went on to say that Jesus’ love language was obedience. Of course!

“If you love me, obey my commandments . . . Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”  John 14:15,21

Our kids will see that we love Jesus if we are obeying his commands. It’s that simple.

Our kids will also see if we are a people who “love much” based on how we love them. We must be continually pouring love into them.

And, this one will seal the deal on what our kids think about us. Our kids must see us love others. Are we loving our neighbors? Are we loving difficult people? Are we loving our enemies?

2) Humility

The strongest defining characteristic of Jesus after love, was humility. No one has ever been higher or more worthy of praise that walked this earth than Jesus Christ. And no one has ever been more humble.

I have often thought that if I found out someday that Christianity wasn’t true, following Jesus would still have been the right way to live. Because of the call to humility.

When we put ourselves below others, they are lifted up. If we all lived like Jesus, we would be loving others and lifting each other up. Talk about an ideal society!

If you want your kids to have faith in Christ, there is nothing that can make Him more attractive than a display of humility in you.

3) Surrender

Many Christian kids growing up in the church never experience parents who surrender their lives to Christ. No wonder they are walking away.

If we don’t follow Christ with reckless abandon, then we might as well forget about passing on our faith at all. Why would we want to anyway? If we are not seeking to surrender our lives to Christ, then, He must not be that important to us. At least not important enough to do what He says.

If we want to show our kids a loving, good God, then we must surrender to Him first.

Love first, humility second, and surrender third. These are the ingredients that make our faith contagious.

It might be time to take inventory. As Christian parents, we must look in the mirror from time to time. Am I a loving person? Do I put other’s first? And, have I given everything I have and everything I am to God?

If you are brave enough, ask your kids what they see in you. You might be surprised by what they say.