The Shocking Truth About Today’s Youth

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I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear someone bring up the topic of young people in today’s world, there is almost always a negative connotation applied to the conversation. There is rarely a noteworthy story of teens or pre-teens doing something wonderful in the community, but the evening news is riddled with reports of youth doing horrible, unspeakable acts of violence and perversion. The mainstream media would have you believe that all young people today are carbon copies of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Likewise, the world would persuade you to lump sum this group that makes up nearly fifteen percent of the U.S. population into a league of miscreants leading lives where immorality abounds. Is this the truth or a distortion of reality? While I will not deny that this world has its fair share of Justins and Mileys, I am completely unwilling to buy into the one size fits all juvenile delinquent stereotype.

I have always been drawn to children of all ages. From early on in my childhood, I had an intense desire to be a mother when I grew up and married Mr. Right. I also decided that I wanted to work with children on a daily basis, so I earned a degree in Education. God blessed me by granting me my petitions. I am now the mother of four and am blessed to work with many children in both my church family and my homeschool group. Due to my close association and interactions with quite a large number of young people, I have been fortunate enough to observe what I feel is their true nature.While I am no expert even by a long shot, I truly believe when it comes to today’s youth, we need to open our eyes to who they really are.

bbbbbz1. Young people are people, too!

I am afraid that so many times we do not view teens as people. We are quick to judge them, quick to reprimand them, and quick to completely write them off. We dismiss their feelings, ideas, and capabilities. The Apostle Paul did not take this approach with Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:12

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,

but set an example for the believers

in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

He understood Timothy, like all young people, had feelings.He also realized that Timothy had the right mind-set and was completely capable of living a life worthy of imitation in the church.

Philippians 2:19-23

“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me” 

Given due respect and opportunity, it has been my experience, that our youth will rise to the occassion.

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2. Young people breathe new life into old situations.

I don’t want to say that all adults tend to be “old fogies”, but the fact that we have the propensity to get into autopilot mode is hard to deny. All too often we get so caught up in everyday living that we become blinded to many things.  Young people often have fresh eyes that can more easily detect areas of need, joy, and thanksgiving that their elders may overlook. Not only that, the innocence and newness that they bring to the forefront is a much welcomed breath of fresh air. Just seeing and interacting with young folks is a visible reminder of the newness of life given to us on a daily basis by the Father.

Lamentations 3:22-23

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Even our Lord and Savior saw the value of spending time and interacting with young people.

Mark 10:13-15

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Never underestimate the new life that can be interjected into any situation by involving youth.

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3. Young people can teach us a thing or two! (or three or four!)

Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking we have all the answers. We really could learn some great things just by observing our young people. They have soft, supple hearts ready to extend love, eager to do the right thing, and extremely penitent when found in the wrong. More often than not it is a young person who responds to the Lord’s invitation. It isn’t necessarily because they sin more, but because they have hearts uncalloused from saying no one too many times.

Psalm 25:7

“Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!”

Young people also seem much more willing to get outside of their comfort zone. When charged with a task, they do not allow preconceived notions or irrational fears to hold them back. They have the heart of a servant and are very willing to serve with zeal.

Romans 12:11

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Most importantly, young people really understand the first great command and the command second to it.

Mark 12:30-31

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

To learn how to love unconditionally, we would do well to study and emulate our younger counterparts.

1 John 3:18

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

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This past weekend I was honored to be in the presence of six thousand people intent on growing closer to the Lord our God. The vast majority of those souls were young people. They were from different states, socioeconomic backgrounds, and circumstances, but they were united in purpose. Believe me, it was an eye opening picture on the state of our youth, to say the least. Let’s all wake up, wipe the dust of misconception out of our eyes and see today’s youth for what they really are.They are what we need to become. What they really are isn’t really so shocking after all.

Shanna

Photo By Robbie Grubbs from Houston (What????) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Dear Beautiful Girl,

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I prayed to God and he blessed me with an amazing daughter. I have also been blessed to work with pre-teen and teen girls in the Lord’s church for several years. What strikes me over and over again as heart wrenching is the sheer amount of these young ladies that just seem downright deflated and defeated. It is difficult to stand by a watch such a vibrant group, full of life and full of endless possibilities, languish and struggle. I refuse to remain a helpless bystander in a sea of souls with silent cries grasping for reassurance and support. I want to throw out the lifeline to all young women, everywhere. I love you, God loves you, and this is what I want you to know.

Dear beautiful girl,

Yes, you! Don’t look around in surprise. I’m talking to you.You are beautiful! Oh, I’m not looking at you through the lens of popular culture or worldliness. I’m looking at you the way God intended true beauty to be seen.

girlsnhb

1 Peter 3:3-4

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear,  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”

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Can’t you see you are so much more than perfect hair and make up or labels and trendy clothing? Those things are external and can NEVER define your real beauty. They are perishable. Your beauty is internal, “the hidden person of the heart”. Those who wish to see it have to look deeply and want to know you, the REAL you, to find it. They have to listen ever so carefully to your words as well, because you have a “gentle and quiet spirit”. That gentleness makes you so beautiful to me, but more importantly it makes you so beautiful to Him.

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You are not alone. There are so many people that adore you. Your parents, your friends, and your church family. They want to see you succeed, obtain happiness, but most of all, they want you to go to heaven. They want to help you do just that. Let them. This is especially true of your Father in heaven. He loves you so much He gave His Son to make a way for you. Don’t ignore Him. Talk to Him…a lot. Lean on him. He wants to carry your burdens.

1 Peter 5:7

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Do not worry.Your prince will come, someday. Just remember, your King is already here. Put Him first today and always and everything else will fall right into place.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

titusbrett

              Speaking of Prince Charming, make sure he is a true child of the King. Wait for Him. Do not settle. Do not rush. You are looking for someone who loves you like this.

Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

A true prince will be willing to give himself up for you. He will put his selfish desires aside for you.  He will not expect you to give yourself to him before marriage. You are worth the wait and he knows that. Pray for him, wait for him, and look for him. Don’t be decieved. No matter how many times you kiss a frog, he may never turn into a prince.

katie

Beautiful girl, above all else, keep smiling and letting your light shine.

Matthew 5:16

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

kandk

You are beautiful because you shine His beauty for all to see in a world that really needs light. Keep shining. Keep being what God wants you to be. He wants you to be beautiful. You ARE beautiful, beautiful girl.

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In Him,

Shanna

He Loves Me;This I Know

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Today is Valentine’s Day. A day set aside to proclaim how much we love our significant other. Many go to great lengths and expense to impress their valentine. Others are decidedly more understated in their approach. Nonetheless, few leave this day untouched without some small token for their love.

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When the roses have wilted, the last piece of chocolate has been consumed, and the other gifts are long forgotten, what remains? If you are blessed, as I am, these frivolities can NEVER compare with the expressions of true love your husband bestows upon you every day.

We read in Proverbs 31 that a good wife is worth far above rubies. Do we ever consider what a good husband is worth? Do we take time to let him know we love and appreciate him? Do we thank God for him daily and make supplications on his behalf? That is what I want to do right now.

John Davis Anderson, I love you, and respect you on so many levels. I have witnessed you progress from a bright eyed young man to a wiser, better version of you. I have laughed with you, cried with you, hoped with you, prayed with you, and have truly become one with you. I do not see me as me without you. We are a single unit knit together with our heavenly Father. I could never fully express why I love you, but I want you, and everyone else, to know the few reasons that I am feebly able to verbalize.

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1.I love you because you chose me.

You were able to see redeeming qualities in me while I was still immature and very rough around the edges. You were able to envision the wife and mother that I had the potential of becoming. You looked past my flaws and loved me despite me. Thank you for choosing me and for helping me continue to work on becoming all the things you dreamed I could be.

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2. I love you because you love me.

You have seen me at my best. You have seen me at my worst way too many times, yet you still love me. You have watched me transform from that youthful girl you took as your bride to an aged woman with gray hair and wrinkles. You still love me. You have watched me struggle and be my own worse enemy. You still love me. When I absolutely do not love myself, you STILL love me.

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3. I love you because you love our children.

God  blessed us with four of the loveliest babies that have ever existed. You have patiently sat by and waited while my mothering instinct has been at full tilt. Even though it was a financial sacrifice,you have allowed me to stay at home with them and nuture them in ways I could only dream.You have taught them and molded them. You have loved them more than they will ever know, but I know. I know and it makes me love you more every day.

johnnkids

4. I love you because you sacrifice yourself for your family.

You give even when you are completely depleted. Your hands bear witness of the lengths and depths that a true man will go to in an effort to support his family. You have done without the finest apparel, home, and car to allow your children to actually grow up together. Never think your sacrifice goes unnoticed. Never think you are not praised by your wife and children. You empty yourself that we might be filled. I love your sacrificial heart.

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5. I love you because you love the LORD.

This is the reason I love you the most. You are the spiritual leader of our home. I never have to fear that God will not be the center of our home or that you won’t put Him first. I appreciate the hours you spend in His word to feed His sheep. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel! You are beautiful to me and I love you.

God knew what He was doing when he created the home. I am so thankful that God blessed me with a wonderful godly husband. I pray that I will never take him for granted. I don’t want to just wait for a special occassion to tell and show my husband why I love him. I want him to know. I want to make sure he knows. He shows me his love each and every day. He loves me; this I know.

Shanna

Two (Three, Four, Five….) Are Better Than One

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We just spent the day doing what is, and has been for the past ten years, the highlight of our week. What, you might ask, would that be? After all, you are a homeschooling family. Did you wear your fancy P.J.s and have school on the good placemats at the kitchen table? NO! We spent our afternoon with our PAJCH family. “What is a PAJCH?” you say. Well, according to my children it is the best group of friends anyone could ever ask for. However, according to the legal documents, it is the Putnam and Jackson County Homeschoolers, INC. It is not just a “homeschool group”. It has become so, so much more. (note the usage of the word FAMILY)

then buds

You may be where I was many years ago on this whole “homeschool group” debate. You may be of the mindset that homeschooling is just that, schooling AT HOME. You see, it took a very good friend to help me realize that I DID need to be a part of a homechool group.

By nature, I am anti-social, so being at home ALONE with my children played a huge role in the decission making process to leave the teaching profession and focus on family. I was just as content as could be to stay at home the first few years of our homeschooling journey. I guess if I had a theme song at that time it would have been, “I Shall Not Be Moved.” Against my better judgement, I decided to “sacrifice my comfort” because obviously, my friend really needed this socialization. Boy, did I have a lot to learn!

We need each other!

“Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Eccles. 4:9-12

This truly conveys the value of a friend. In PAJCH, we work together, play together, laugh together, and cry together. My children and I have made friends that are closer than a brother or sister. We meet once a week to recharge our batteries with people who really get “who” we are because they ARE “who” we are. The strength of that threefold cord is comforting and reassuring on many fronts.

We Help each other!

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal. 6:2

Sometimes, we just need help. If we isolate ourselves, this help isn’t always readily available. I have been amazed at the diversity of gifts that are available to be drawn upon in our group. Where I am weak, someone else is strong, and vice versa. I never have to live in fear of not reaching my homeschooling goals because I have friends at arm’s reach that can meet my needs and help me overcome my shortcomings. We also see this willingness to assist and aid among the children. The older children mentor and teach the younger children, and the younger children have role models that they adore. Now, that is my idea of no child left behind!

We Love Each Other!

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

In PAJCH, you never have to wonder about how we feel about one another. It is evident very quickly, we LOVE one another. My father in law compares the relationships to his days in the one room schoolhouse. We are more than assosiates. We are family, and families love one another.

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I guess by now you have realized who was the better friend. (hint: It WASN’T me!) My friend could see what I could not see at the time. We need to be surrounded by people who love us and are always willing to help. Am I blessed, or what? Surround yourself with these kind of people. I can promise you, you WILL NOT be sorry!

Happy homeschooling!

Shanna