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How Christian Youth Ministry Has Been A Disservice To Western Society

Growing up in the faith, my mom always ensured that I was apart of the children’s ministry in my family churches. Whether that be by me attending Sunday school, going to Awana weekly, or participating in VBS (Vacation Bible School) every summer. While I am thankful that my parents made sure that I was involved with church at such a young age, I am able to reflect as an adult on the flaws of youth ministry that I experienced at different churches in the BIble belt.

Here’s me at one of the many church activities I did in my younger years!

I always reflect on my teenage years and why I lost my faith – because I never really had any genuine faith to begin with. I remember having so much fun in Sunday school and meeting new friends and coloring, memorizing the weekly verse during Awana, and singing songs in VBS. However, I couldn’t recall the basic biblical truths of Christianity. At age 12 I was supporting the LGBT agenda, I believed all Christians were like The Westboro Baptist Church, and was overall painfully ignorant. This continued on until I was 16. I went back to church because I felt lost. I went and made a bunch of new friends, volunteered, and had a blast with my youth group. It wasn’t until sometime later I had so much confusion and hatred filled in me that I left abruptly. I was too busy having so much fun that I failed to realize that we were suppose to be worshipping God – a God I did not know and was not being taught.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

I was listening to Pastor Dale Partridge’s Podcast Real Christianity with the episode titled “Is Youth Ministry Biblical?” Every single point he made resonated with me and my experience with Children and Youth Ministry throughout my adolence.

The devil is playing for our children’s hearts and western churches are not equipped enough.

Western churches care more about making sure they are a hangout spot rather than equipping children and teenagers with biblical truth and the armor of God to withstand in the world.

There are two things we can place the blame on (the children aren’t one of them!):

  1. Christian Parents
  2. Contemporary Churches

How do you expect teenagers to be ready for the world we currently live in when they do not genuinely know the God who created everything? How do you expect them to learn God’s truth from churches who do not teach God’s truth but instead conform to the world? Why do you think your church has a coffee shop inside and a concert every Sunday?

Christian parents continue to fall prey to outsourcing – whether it’s from the church, public school system, or nannies. We are called to do differently.

A great question to ask is why do Christian parents think that the trendy youth pastor or teenagers volunteering at Sunday School can teach your children the word of God better than you can?

Parents, specifically fathers, are commanded by God to be the head of house. This means they should be the biblical leader of the household. Parents should not feel as if they aren’t “smart” enough to teach God’s word to their children. God as ordered parents to instruct and guide their children with God’s word which means that they are more than able. It is a lie sold to you by modern churches that you need to send your children off to Sunday school, youth group, and other ministry activities aimed at kids so they can have “fun kid time” and parents can separate from them and go have “boring church time” – what perspective does this show children? Not a positive one.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:4

Not only are Children and Youth Ministry a modern phenomena, but modern Sunday School goes at odds with it’s origin. Created originally during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britian to help orphan children forced to do child labor learn about the Gospel, how to read, and understand biblical instruction. Now it is used as “free time” for parents and “color time” for children. Our world is not the same world our parents grew up in, much like our parent’s world was not the same world our grandparents grew up in – coloring Noah’s Arch on Sunday is simply not going to cut it folks. The education that churches are providing is not sufficient enough for the demonic forces in our modern world.

A study done in the book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions For The Church, concluded that 90% of youth active in high school church programs drop out of church by the time they are sophomores on college. The study was conducted in 2009 – imagine the results in 2020. Another study done in the published 2007 book, reThink: Decide for Yourself: Is Student Ministry Working?, found that 63% of teenagers attending youth ministry don’t believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths. 51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. 65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity. 68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity.

The statistics from the late 2000’s are frightening and I cannot even imagine what they look like now in our modern day moral-less, atheist, and crumbling society. Western society without the foundation of God looks like what we’re seeing every single day not on the news but right in front of our eyes.

The time parents spend on driving their children to and from sports practice, their SAT prep classes, and ensuring their kid’s have the latest technology is time that could be spent on learning what the Gospel truly is. The time churches spend in meetings trying to find ways to appeal to the world, pander to enemies of God, and make sure youth ministry is “fun” is time that could be spent on equipping themselves with the armor of God and preaching to families as a whole God’s truth.

 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Ephesians 6:10-18

I grew up in a predominately Muslim populated school. Numerous Muslim classmate I had were doing 10+ hours of Quran learning and memorization outside of the Mosque. They didn’t love it, but they didn’t hate it. This is because they understood and genuinely loved their faith. Their parents paid for the classes because they believed in their faith wholeheartedly and wanted to ensure their children were armed with knowledge. Christian parents in western society should be shaking.

If you’re a Christian parent who is reading this and afraid for your children – you should be. The devil is alive and real. However, God is more powerful and as parents you must study His word to make sure you are discipling in the way He has called you to. If you’re a mother and feel like your husband is lacking in biblical discipleship do not hesitate to spark up a conversation with him! Make sure you are not attacking, but bringing up this concern. Your husband might not even be aware as many unfortunately aren’t! There are thankfully so many online resources to help you and your husband find a way to truly begin discipling your children at home. Take all worries, fears, and yearn for biblical knowledge to the Lord in prayer and He WILL provide!

The 2021 March For Life Went Virtual—Here’s Why They Made the Wrong Call

On January 15th, it came to the attention of millions of pro-lifers across the country that the March for Life was no longer taking place on the streets of our nation’s capital. The organizers announced that due to Covid-19 related concerns, as well as heightened pressures on law enforcement in the capital, this year’s March For Life rally was relegated to take place on computer screens, inside our homes. Jeanne Mancini, president of the organization, stated that “the annual rally will take place virtually and we are asking all participants to stay home and to join the March virtually.” Subsequently, the official March For Life Twitter account received performative praise for supposedly staying consistent with a pro-life ethic.

“Stay home, save lives” is the slogan we’ve heard repeated to us for the past year, after all—but it’s worth evaluating whether this was the truly selfless decision to make. On January 29th, the streets of D.C. were empty as a new administration of staunch pro-choice Democrats settled into office on Capitol Hill. The irony of calling off a rally against genocide of the unborn to spare a select few adults from contracting a virus with an average survival rate of well over 99% and a continuously declining mortality rate is, to be sure, lost on no fervent pro-life American. 

The March for Life’s decision received considerable pushback from pro-lifers who had planned to attend the rally in person. Their detractors perceived the sudden shift to a virtual rally as an act of cowardice and a show of submission to a group of conniving establishment conservatives who are more or less ambivalent to the pro-life cause. The March for Life is regarded as the largest annual show of force demonstrating that Americans are willing to take to the streets to defend the lives of the unborn. Can the organizers of this event really be considered the champions of the pro-life cause when they so readily withdrew the largest gathering of pro-life Christians that takes place in our nation? In light of their decision to go virtual, I’m dubious of the claim on their website that their mission is “uniting, educating, and mobilizing pro-life people in the public square.”

The Biden administration is set to immediately reverse all pro-life policies enacted under Trump’s presidency. On Inauguration Day, Nancy Flanders of LiveAction reported that “the window to government-funded abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy has been blown wide open.” It seems that public protest has never been more direly necessary on behalf of the unborn, but for the first time since its founding the March for Life has been cancelled in both a literal and figurative sense.

The purpose of this piece isn’t to downplay the seriousness with which we respond to the pandemic, or the tragedy of any lives lost due to Covid-19. I simply implore pro-lifers to turn a critical eye to the response of March for Life organizers and keep those millions of lives at the greatest risk in the forefront of their minds—unborn babies. Pray for an end to abortion, and in particular for the lawmakers and activists who have the power to advocate for legal protection of unborn lives.

How To Glorify God as a Family This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is America’s biggest commercial holiday. Full of love, gift-giving, and sweet treats; This holiday for many people is a wholesome, sweet, and loving holiday while the holiday for some is yet another excuse to promote degeneracy in our culture. It can make many Christians want to opt out of celebrating or go along with the typical cultural celebration customs for the sake of normalcy.

My husband and I discussed recently if we would like to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year and if so, how would we navigate the holiday? In the past while dating — we went above and beyond for Valentine’s Day. He got me a shiny promise ring, we took a fancy trip, and made sure we went above and beyond.

My (now) husband and I’s first Valentine’s Day!

We were not yet born again Christians and both indulged heavily in materialism and by extension, the modern world.

Now, as we’re two completely different people by the grace of God, we’ve really thought and researched biblically on how to navigate Valentine’s Day moving forward.

Here’s some different fun activities and ideas we plan on incorporating in our Valentine’s Day to ensure God alone is glorified.

We Refuse To Participate In The Materialism

As a routine Pinterest user, it’s hard for me to take a step back and realize that I do not need to go above and beyond and dip into our family’s finances to have a special Valentine’s Day. No matter how good the “deals” are and how many coupons I use – it is still unnecessary.

We are called to live a quiet and simple life and sometimes it’s difficult to remember that while living in our modern world.

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,”

1 Thessalonians 4:11

Instead of buying a bunch of candy, opting for a luxurious trip, and a getting a bunch of (useless) children marketed toys we are going to use this commercial holiday to serve others — which is one great form of love as instructed in the bible.

Serving others this Valentine’s Day can look differently for each family! You can go through toys that your children no longer want and clothes that fit too snug and donate them to your local thrift shop for another family to have at an affordable price! It’s important that when you do this, to do it with your children! Let them be equally as involved in each step so they can see that they truly are serving others as we are commanded! This would be a great opportunity to create a bible lesson and sit down and do with your children after you’ve completed donating!

Baking goods is a favorite of mine and what I plan on doing this Valentine’s Day! We have lots of friends locally through church and homeschool that would love some sweet treats delivered to them! This teaches great life skills (can also be counted for Math and science, homeschool mamas!) and helps with creativity! Many Valentine themed baked good items can be found at Walmart or Dollar Tree for an affordable price!

The Difference Between Biblical Love vs Worldly Love

One of the biggest misconstructions of Valentine’s Day is that the love shown on Valentine’s day – measured by gifts, what others do for you, and boosting. It does not in any way reflect to accurate representation of biblical love.

Worldly love is self-seeking, boosting, and material. Biblical love is selfless, rooted in God’s truth, and obedience to our Lord.

I cannot stress the importance of children learning the difference as young as possible so that they are equip to face the world’s definition of love. They will see it in the public school system, movies, TV shows, social media, and amongst peers. They need to know and fully understand what biblical love is to know how to combat worldly love when they inevitably face it.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Take time to plan out a bible lesson as a family on what it means to love the Lord, what biblical love is, and why we know how great love is!

To help out with this fun bible lesson, we’ve created a free coloring printable for your kiddos to enjoy that you can include in your lesson! Let us know if you’d like us to create more fun free printables and potential bible lessons in the future!

This Valentine’s Day can be a great opportunity to serve the Lord and disciple your children in His ways! Take advantage of the opportunity as a family and don’t be afraid to stray from the world — we are meant to live in the world but not be of this modern world!

How To Make Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Strawberries

I love making chocolate covered strawberries! No matter the season or holiday, I’m always trying to find a way to incorporate them into my treat boxes for family and friends.

This is my take on how to make strawberry shortcake crumble — there are lots of different recipes floating around online but this is one I use and love!

Ingredients:

This makes a batch for a large serving of strawberries (estimated – 50 strawberries) so feel free to cut the recipe in half for a smaller portion!

  • 2 boxes of strawberry jello
  • 2 boxes of vanilla pudding
  • 2 boxes of vanilla oreos
  • 4-8 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 4 containers of strawberries
  • 1 box of white chocolate (or whatever chocolate of your choice)

Instructions:

  1. Prep strawberries – wash and dry strawberries.
  2. Crumble vanilla oreos – either in a blender, food processor, or by hand.
  3. Put mixture in two separate bowls
  4. Add 4-5 tablespoons (or as much as you like for flavor/looks) of strawberry jello to one bowl and vanilla pudding to the other bowl.
  5. Mix vigorously.
  6. Add 2-4 tablespoons of melted butter to each separate bowl.
  7. Mix vigorously.
  8. Combine both mixtures into one larger bowl and mix vigorously.
  9. Melt chocolate of choice.
  10. Once melted, dip each strawberry into the chocolate and then coat the strawberries immediately with the strawberry shortcake mixture.
  11. Continue for each strawberry until done.

Remember to accommodate to your liking! These are so fun to make and can be made for so many different occasions! Tag us in any pictures you take of your sweet treats and let us know what you think of the recipe!

We also created a short and sweet video on how to create these awesome treats!

Why Christian Parents Shouldn’t Push The Belief Of Santa Clause On Their Children

When I was a little girl my parents went above and beyond to make sure I believed in Santa Claus. I’d go running to school after Christmas break and tell all my friends that “Santa” left his glasses at my house or a glove. I’d let them in on my secret about the reindeer food that Dasher and Vincent ate in my front yard. I truly believed that Santa Claus had dropped his belongings at my house and that his magical reindeers sat and waited in my front yard as he delivered me lots of presents (totally not because I was an only child and spoiled rotten as a kid!) because of my good behavior. 

When I found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real I was around 8/9 and I was crushed. I felt like everything was a lie and couldn’t believed my parents had managed to keep it up so long and made it so easy for me to believe. Around this same time I was involved in my local church. Obviously at the age of 8,9 and 10 I didn’t have many of my theological questions answered. I felt a sense of doubt wash over me at the same time I found out that Santa wasn’t real. I was still a young child but was learning more how to critically think and on the pathway to maturity. I though what if God was just like Santa Claus – was He even real? Was it one big joke that my parents and the rest of my church was in on? That He wasn’t real but we all participated in church anyways? 

I was 12 years old when I told people I was not a Christian but was “raised” Christian, many atheists and lukewarm Christians favorite line. Looking back, it probably seems extreme that a 12 year old raised in the faith was able to easily declare themselves an atheist when they probably just needed some theological questions answered. What exactly led me to hold such a significant position? By the lack of discipleship I was getting at home, the shock I felt after my parents easily lied to me, and the pure confusion I had because Santa’s character and God’s character completely contradict each other – I was puzzled. 

Santa Replaces God With A False Gospel

“He sees you when you’re sleeping” 

God does. 

“He knows when you’re awake.” 

God does. 

“He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sakes.”

Santa is not the judge. If Santa was the judge he would sound like a legalistic judge based on “good works” which can really misguide young minds on what is the true gospel. 

“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why.” 

You better “be good” even though none of us are inherently good and that’s why we have our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. 

Santa completely contradicts the discipleship parents (should) are doing at home. When you’re teaching your children that Santa is watching them at all times, knows absolutely everything even if they try to hide it, you are teaching them that Santa has the same attributes as God. When you teach them that they get lots of gifts (much like the gift of salvation) based on how “good” they are (we are not saved by works!) – this is bound to confuse young minds who look up to their parents to nurture, navigate, and disciple them.

Thou Shall Not Lie

We teach our children the ten commandments and model Christ-like behavior in our home as we’re our children’s number one role models. What happens when we start making exceptions to lying? Not a “little white lie” but rather a serious lie that our children take with all the legitimacy that their little brains and emotions can handle because they want to be “good” so they can receive presents. They want to have as many or more than their friends get. They want to get more than their siblings. They eagerly want presents and will believe in Santa Claus because their parents are telling them he will give them these things (but only if they’re good and not naughty!) 

What happens when they grow up and eventually realize the truth? Will they look at you differently? Hopefully not. Will the two people who are suppose to never lie to their children cause their children to easily doubt other things that their parents might be telling them? Very possible. I have yet to find one good case to lie to your child and be the stumbling block to your children’s faith. Their doubt and curiosity about Christianity should come from either themselves or the world – not a seed planted into their minds by their parents. As parents, you are commanded the ones to answer your children’s questions and not cause them.

The Best Of Both Worlds?

“Well we believe in Santa and put an emphasis on Jesus because Christmas isn’t about the presents!” The amount of times I’ve heard this line from Christian parents is astonishing. Many Christian parents believe that you can get the best of both worlds during Christmas time. That you can have both the belief of Santa and also the emphasis on Jesus. Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ should not be shared with a fake character who we teach our children to believe in with a false gospel. Talk about idolization and blasphemous!

Why do we need a fake character with a false gospel for our children to believe in when we have a real and Holy Lord who died for our sins and gave us a beautiful gospel?

We should encourage our children to have a longing, awe, and desire for gifts from the real, true, and living God who is sovereign over all things.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

James 1:17

We encourage our children to wait for, ask from, and anticipate Santa who isn’t real and doing anything for them. We could direct the yearning, patience, curiosity, and querying to God who wants all of those things directed to Him for His glory.

Instead of sitting and writing your lists to Santa with all the gifts your kids are demanding this season, sit and write a prayer with your children. Instead of buying your children toys they will lose interest in after the holiday season is over donate old or unused toys to children who don’t have “Santa.” Bake Christmas cookies and deliver them to people at your church or school. Go drive around and look at your local Christmas lights. Spend time together as a family reading one chapter from the book of Luke every day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Teach your children about gratitude and why we thank God. There are so many other Christ-centered ways to celebrate the Christmas season rather than opt out for the typical secular approaches that completely contradict your faith.

Why You Should Talk Politics With Your Children And How

Growing up, I didn’t care about politics. My parent never discussed politics because they simply didn’t care enough to and didn’t find it necessary. I remember in the fourth grade I went as Laura Bush for a school presentation because she was the First Lady at the time and I merely thought that she was a pretty lady as an elementary schooler. My dad, despite not liking President George W. Bush at the time, said nothing to me and thought that I was adorable. It wasn’t until I was 12 that I became a feminist, gay rights, and overall social justice advocate. What changed? How does a 12 year old even comprehend social justice and the world around them – especially one that comes from a Christian conservative family?

Social Media and the influence of peers at my school.

My parents who raised me incredibly well – ensuring that I was involved with church, had everything I needed and more, and surrounded by people who loved me, had no idea of the new challenge that would steer their daughter in complete opposition to the Lord. I became an active user of Instagram and Twitter which resulted in me meeting countless amounts of people online everyday that had the same interests as me. Liberalism was plaguing almost every social media site but predominately Twitter and Tumblr. If you didn’t reblog a feminist quote and the rainbow flag – were you even human? You didn’t want people to think you were a “heartless human” like many people think in our society’s new black or white mob mentality thinking. I was raised by social justice. I was friends with social justice social media warriors. Now this is not because my parents didn’t raise me but because they didn’t know they needed to pour into me like the world already was. They didn’t know the world had a monopoly on my beliefs, values, and overall worldview.

This all started in 2011. Right now the current year is 2020 and things have escalated at an unprecedented rate. We cannot ignore the obvious political world around us and the influence it has in every single aspect of our daily lives no matter how big or small. I cannot imagine being a Christian parent and not discussing the beliefs and values of God with your children.

In the recent years as I’ve matured as a Christian, a wife, and stepmom preparing for motherhood I have changed my opinion on discussing and involving children with anything politically related. The enemy is out for grabs and is working overtime in our schools, social media, and even in many western churches. Parents – we can no longer outsource biblical discipleship to our Children and Youth Pastors and expect them to equip our children enough to withstand Satan himself on every corner. We must train and disciple our children at home first and foremost like we are commanded to do.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

While both parents are responsible for discipling their children the father has a unique role ordained by God to instruct and discipline his children in the ways of the Lord. While many fathers let the mothers handle this role – step it up. You are commanded to be a spiritual leader in your home over your wife and your children. In our modern world this will truly test your faith and aligning with God’s will for your life.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:4

How might you go about “training your child in the way of the Lord” and ensuring they are discipled and armored with the amour of God each and every day in a world full of vipers out for blood? While our modern secular world is an ugly place, it is also a perfect opportunity to use as an example. There is no reason to talk bad about another candidate or use adult unGodly rhetoric to explain biblical values to young children.

Age Appropriate Resources

There is a great resource that many families (including Jill Duggar’s family) are using to teach about the 2020 Presidential Election by Elizabeth from This Little Home of Mine blog. She created a 80+ page printable to utilize for learning a basic and non-bias understanding of democracy, voting, Republicans/Democrats, Patriotism, and more! I’m currently using this with my stepdaughter so she can understand what voting, our flag, and Patriotism is. I’ve paired these lessons with different Youtube videos created for kids to teach them about voting and patriotism. There are some activities in the PDF packet that are too old for her so I’ll utilize those once she’s at a more mature elementary age – the coloring printables are all we need!

Everything Should Be Centered Around God

A great way to navigate any discussion about politics or simply any topic or issue that may arise is to ensure that God is the center. While discussing why we should vote with your children explain that voting is our right as a citizen of The United States and our vote reflects our loving and just God! When we go to cast a vote we reflect the values of Christ. When you and your family see your city being torn apart by Black Lives Matter and local businesses being completely demolished, discuss that there are people who are quick to anger, quick to speak, and slow to listen (James 1:19) who are destroying stuff because they are upset. Explain everything with a bible verse/story prepared or be ready to do a quick search and turn it into a biblical lesson! Children need to know that God does not condone violence, that our God is a just God and that vengeance is not ours (Romans 12:19). This probably sounds insane to have to explain to your children but children are more aware than we think and see everything that is going on. If they don’t see it then they hear their peers talking in school, while they’re browsing social media, or plastered on TV. There must be a biblical understanding for everything because a solid foundation in Christ is essential to combat the propaganda on every corner.

Pray Without Ceasing

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Christians, we should be praying without ceasing daily. However, pray for Godly wisdom and guidance as you embark on the journey of training your children in the ways of the Lord. You were not meant to do this alone and have no sense of direction. He will guide you and help you articulate and soundly explain His ways. Pray for your husband for guidance as Spiritual Leader of your household. Pray for your children to greatly love the Lord with all of their heart, mind, and soul. Don’t forget to pray with your children as well – family prayer should be an essential part of your daily routine. A family that prays together, stays together!

Christian parents have an essential role to play in their children’s lives. Do not allow the enemy to hold captive your children’s hearts and minds with a false gospel and false idols. We must rise to the occasion as we are commanded to by God and pour biblical truth and love into our children to ensure the enemy will fail when grasping for our children. No political topic is too big or too small because our God and His ways are greater than any obstacle we will face here on Earth.

Why Your Inner Circle of Friends Matter

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”

Motivational Speaker, David P Brown

This saying has always stood out to me since I began my college experience and it will forever stick with my beliefs regarding community. Throughout my freshman year of college, I thought to myself “Who are the people that I am going to build with for the rest of my college experience? I wonder whom I will encounter that will lead me to so many opportunities.” I pondered over these thoughts for a while with the intention to build strong and trusting relationships.

Since I’ve been in college, I’ve been blessed with many fruitful relationships that have guided me to where I am mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For many young Christians, it is vital that we continuously check our inner circles and the influence they make where we are at today and tomorrow. Your inner circles not only provide you with great memories and laughs to look back on, but they also reflect what you value and influence your overall well-being.

Want to become more spiritually mature? Find friends or mentors that offer sound-wisdom to help you in your walk with Jesus.

Want to become more successful in your relationships? Find friends that are successful in building compassion, accountability, and moral support in their relationships.

Have you heard of the old saying, “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey”? The journey of walking with Christ is more than honing your spiritual strengths and professional skills; it is also about the many encounters that have shaped your identity. On the same token, the part that you play in others’ lives is just as impactful as how you shape their identities. Essentially, it’s not about the things that you have accomplished so far, but the people that have led you there.

It is also wise to acknowledge that people are seasons too. Some are lucky to have friends that last a lifetime, yet other friends remain for a short while. As you grow more in your faith, God will allow others to help you mature in other areas where the friends in your past can’t. The reality behind spiritual maturity is to surrender. Surrendering the plans, people, and desires of your heart at the feet of Jesus is one of the most challenging things we can do especially when we do not want to let go of the things, and people we love.

Reflecting and constantly checking in on your inner circle of friends builds intentionality, and spiritual intimacy which in return builds the body of the church. Building healthy and accountable relationships build the path of righteousness and lifelong wisdom.

“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Proverbs 12:26

Here are a some tips on how to curate your inner circle:

  • Reflect on the five people you spend time with on an average basis
  • Are these five people within reach? Are they in close proximity? Are they a phone call away to hear you out in your thoughts?
  • What are the common denominators that shape your relationships with your five friends?
  • Do their values and goals match? Or, are they similar to yours?
  • Last, pray and seek the Lord’s guidance on the community you need this season.

Having a large network of people expands your chances of gaining potential mentors, financial success, and an overall bright future. That’s all great of course! And having a carefully curated small group of people leads you to more opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. Do yourself a favor and scan who’s in your inner circle; you will never know where they may lead you next.

How We Create and Teach Our Family Bible Lessons

Ever since we began homeschooling my stepdaughter with Classical Conversations we knew we wanted to expand more upon her biblical education! Ensuring your children have a strong foundation in Christ is essential now more than ever in our modern society. Upon this decision, I am blessed to have so many fruitful homeschool mom friends who are only a text away and I was able to be given great advice on things that worked for them and their families. After much consideration of their lessons, memory techniques, and hands-on activities, I was able to navigate how I would organize our families’ bible lessons.

Teach Bible Lessons In Order

My husband and I figured this out the first week we began teaching – teach every bible lesson in order as it becomes confusing otherwise. When I asked my husband for the first suggestion on what we should teach he excitedly exclaimed, “Let’s start with Adam and Eve!” After a week we came to realize that it was a bit confusing to explain Adam and Eve and the creation of humans without the other days of creation as well. Thankfully, it was no big deal and something we caught very early on! I bought a Children’s Beginner Bible a couple of months prior to homeschooling and I’ve been using that for organizing our weekly lessons.

Take Your Time

The best part about creating your families’ bible lessons is that you can spend as much or as little time on each person, event, topic, etc as necessary. If you want to ensure your children know the creation story and memorize what happened on each day of the week – you can use a full day to teach about each day of the creation story! If you want to just give an overall summary – then take one day to teach everything! The choice is ultimately up to you and your husband who is the spiritual leader of the house!

Don’t Make Everything Kid Themed

This advice was something I never thought about until I spoke to some of my other Christian mom friends and listened to Pastor Dale Partridge. I grew up in the church (despite not being born again during this time) and I was involved with VBS, Sunday School, Awana, and more. There was a point that I felt like I had “outgrown” church. Everything that was kid-themed suddenly felt foreign and “boring” as I began to mature into a young adult. Many other children have experienced the same thing (paired with other variables in their walk of faith) and it can cause them to unfortunately leave the church.

I try to read from my NJKV bible once a week or more so that my stepdaughter can become familiar with the mature language. Not only that, but she is not only looking at the pictures and a “fun bible” for her entire adolescence, then one day has to pick up the “boring bible” and no longer has an interest in learning more about our Lord. My same argument can be made for youth ministry as well which I argued in a previous blog post – I’ve tried to find a balance between the socialization of Children/Youth ministry and ensuring my stepdaughter has a well rounded biblical foundation at home.

Utilize Online Resources

The amount of helpful resources I have found from online Christian websites, Pinterest, and Christian mom bloggers has been insane! While I do tend to be quite innovative in the arts and crafts department thanks to my mom who is Martha Stewart 2.0, I am able to get tons of inspiration and free printables to use at any time!

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

Your home is your ministry – it should feel no different when your children attend church every Sunday and are coloring, learning bible stories, and making friends. We are called to disciple our children and train them up in the ways the Lord commands us to. Pray over your children before, during, and after each lesson and ask God to help you guide them in His ways, stay focused and engaged, and have a heart for the Lord! Everything can be made into a lesson about God and His glory in your daily life! I pray these tips and overall advice help you train your children according to God’s will!

How To Glorify God During Halloween Season

Growing up in a lukewarm Christian household, Halloween was a holiday that my mom (who is Martha Stewart 2.0) always decorated for and ensured we celebrated. Whether it was trick-or-treating, hosting Halloween parties for my classmates, or even trunk-o-treating at my families’ church, we always managed to put up spooky decorations and get candy. However, since becoming a born again Christian, I felt it heavy on my heart this year to research more on how to navigate this year’s Halloween.

For a more in depth illustration of what the origin of Halloween is and why Christian’s shouldn’t participate, I recommend listening to Dale Partridge’s podcast about this topic as he articulates his argument bluntly and full of truth. What I want to highlight in this post are the ways that Christians can ensure that their children and family are glorifying God during a season that dims Him.

You Can Still Decorate, I Promise

I absolutely love to decorate. I got the magic touch from my mom growing up and I feel warmth in my heart every time I’m able to call her and show her new seasonal decorations I got and have her watch me put them up in my home. It’s fulfilling knowing I’m carrying her legacy and that she is able to help me pick out new items, update me on sales, and even mail me decorations she thinks are a perfect fit in my home!

This year, instead of celebrating for Halloween like I have done my entire life, I chose to put up decorations that are fall and thanksgiving themed. I ignored all the spooky decorations that fill the aisle up and down in Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Target and picked from the Thanksgiving and Fall selection instead.

While it’s not necessary to “celebrate” fall, I felt that the underlying theme of Thanksgiving – sharing, giving, serving, thankfulness is what I wanted to highlight in my home. My husband and I always ensure to teach thankfulness in our house and the decorations that highlighted a beautiful seasonal change along with a theme we already teach from a biblical perspective was a perfect alternative!

Host A Fall Themed Party

I’m sure you’ve been invited to at least one Halloween party this season. I know it probably feels rude if you don’t attend especially if they’re friends of you and your family, however, you should never feel guilty for standing up for your beliefs and values. If they’re a friend, just explain to them why you don’t want to personally attend! It might seem awkward but pray for strength and understanding – God will help you navigate this problem! We should model upholding biblical truth in a society that does not value it to not only our children, but others around us.

“‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:31

Instead of attending the Halloween parties – be a light and glorify God by hosting a Fall themed parry of your own! Invite some family friends, girlfriends, mom friends, or whoever you want and serve them! It doesn’t have to be an expensive and fancy party either – half of the decorations I got came from Dollar Tree and Target’s Bullseye section for less than $5! Merely ensuring you have food, an inviting and pumpkin spice aroma in your home, and activities for the kiddos if you have some attending, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about!

Prioritize Family Time

This is the perfect season to have family time! Go to the pumpkin patch and pick pumpkins to decorate as a family! Go on a hayride, make some homemade pumpkin treats, make fall crafts, and even have thankfulness themed bible nights! There is so much room to explore what God says about thankfulness and serving others during this season and us Christians must utilize this opportunity to pour this into our loved ones – husband, children, friends, extended family, etc. We cannot allow the enemy to take control of this season and use it to dim His light and normalize evilness.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Ephesians 6:12

I know many Christians and churches here in west try to “reclaim” Halloween and “make it Christian.” Newsflash: You cannot make a holiday that glorifies death and the enemy into something Christ-like. I know many churches here in the west try to do “Trunk-o-Treating” which merely celebrates Halloween but in the parking lot of a church. Many Christian parents feel societal pressure to take their children treat-o-treating so that they don’t feel left out with their peers at school. Many people go to Halloween parties and put in Halloween decorations in their yard because their neighborhood is doing it. Christians – we must not be afraid of the world and take part in it. We are called to rejoice in truth and stand up for our Lord and savior.

The Truth About Marriage

What I’m about to write here may not be the truth for every person in every marriage but I very much hypothesize that the bulk of it will be.

Let me start by saying, I don’t mean any of this to say marriage is bad. Marriage is a beautiful, wonderful, incredible gift from God and I encourage Christians towards marriage. It is precious and valuable BUT I think married Christians don’t do the best job talking about the hard parts of marriage openly because we all want the world to think we have the perfect fairytale. It gives younger couples a false impression of what marriage is and unrealistic expectations of what it should be like all the time and they end up feeling like they’ve failed when things are not so.

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

Ephesians 5:25

So if you are married or in any kind of relationship at all and if Christ is your savior (He is) this is for you.

My husband and I did not date in a way that glorified God at all. In fact, most of our marriage to this point has not honored God and while I do believe that our experience would be worlds different if we had both (or even one of us) been in Christ prior to meeting, it wouldn’t have changed everything. Even the purest of Christians are still depraved sinners at best, as that is simply the human condition and that fact alone will always bring suffering, pain, and disappointment into any relationship. Especially marriage. If your marriage has been blissful to date, congratulations! That’s wonderful news, but don’t stop reading now. You still have the rest of your life to go and chances are you or your spouses selfish and sinful nature will cause a problem at some point. I don’t say that to be downtrodden, I say it because I care about your marriage and there are some things I think every couple should think about moving forward.

Submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21

If you are struggling in your marriage, I am talking directly to you. I know how you feel. I know the feeling that you’ve made a grand mistake and thinking of any way to just survive through it or get out of it. Please don’t give up. God has plans. Keep reading.

MARRIAGE IS HARD. You and your spouse WILL disappoint each other.

It’s not the blissful, head over heels love that you see in disney movies every day for the rest of your life. In the beginning, it usually is, and many times throughout your lifetime, it will be. On a day to day basis though, when you’re taking care of children and jobs and bills and all the things that come with sustaining a household, romance is sometimes completely absent and you must make the choice to love and serve your spouse even when your feelings are not pushing you to do so. You will lose every ounce of admiration you ever had for your spouse if you do not prioritize serving them and meeting their needs, even when you don’t feel like it.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22

Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body just as Christ does the church.”

Ephesians 5:28-29

However each one of you must love your wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:33

Society is often telling us about how to handle our romantic relationships. I am here to tell you, STOP LISTENING TO THE SECULAR WORLD ABOUT WHAT A RELATIONSHIP SHOULD LOOK LIKE. Period. In case examples of worldly, popular culture relationships weren’t enough. “If your man does this, this, this or this, leave him.” What authority does your facebook friend from high school have to speak about what constitutes grounds for divorce or separation? You may be thinking, “oh, I just scroll past stuff like that.” Sometimes that’s simply not enough. I know personally, the feeling of subconscious pressure to act a certain way because that’s what the overwhelming majority of the world thinks is appropriate. WRONG. Sometimes when you see things or hear commentary like that, you literally need to stop and tell yourself, “no.” Be intentional and remind yourself that GOD is the authority on these matters and secular culture will lead you astray.

“The world is a flattering enemy, it kills by embracing. Whom the world kisses, it betrays. Is Heaven in your eye, Christ in your heart, and the world under your feet?”

Thomas Watson

Get rid of your friends that are constantly criticizing your spouse or your relationship in general and telling you to leave them, or feeding into your negative feelings about them. Probably one of the most dangerous things you can do in your marriage is indulge in negative feelings about the other person, especially in the company of someone who is reaffirming your negative feelings. This is incredibly hard to learn but it is absolutely necessary. I have really struggled with this at times because it has caused me to feel alone and that is where the other side of this comes in. FIND FRIENDS WHO BELIEVE IN THE SACRED NATURE OF MARRIAGE. Find other married women in the church who will mentor you and encourage you through the tough parts of marriage and rejoice with you in the best parts. Friends like these truly want the best for your whole family and want to see your marriage honor Christ. They can be hard to find, but besides a heart captured by God, I think they might be one of the best assets a marriage can have and are therefore well worth the search. My best advice for finding friends like this is to first BE THAT FRIEND.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2:3-4

Here is the hard stuff.

Cheating, lying, secret keeping. Broken marriage vows. A downright unloving spouse.

First, I pray that your marriage never experiences this kind of turmoil. As I’m sure you know or can imagine, it is devastating and excruciating. I pray that neither you or your spouse ever perpetrates this evil, terrible thing on one another. But by the chance that either of you ever have or you ever do… please keep reading.

Secular culture 9 times out of 10 says leave them, and infidelity IS biblical grounds for divorce but first, please consider this.

God prefers reconciliation. We know this because He went so far as to send His own Son to be tortured and crucified on earth and spend time in HELL so that we may be reconciled to Him.

Now, I am not saying you should stay with a confessed serial cheater or abuser who has no remorse, shows no repentance, has no interest in changing, and outwardly plans to keep doing it. If that is the case, do your very best to forgive this person in your heart and move on.

This is obviously a case by case matter and you know the intricacies of your situation better than anyone else, but I think it is important to try and objectively consider the attitude of your spouse towards whatever it is they may have done. Are they truly repentant? Are they asking forgiveness from not only you but from God? If you truly believe we are to live as Christ lived and love because He first loved us, then these things matter.

Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Colossians 3:13-15

I encourage you to remember that marriage is meant to be a reflection of Christ and His bride, the church. The church is made up of sinners who deserve eternal damnation. Marriage is not about what I or my spouse deserve. That is the entire premise of grace. I promise that you do not deserve grace anymore than your spouse does, yet it has been given to you in abundance. I know from firsthand experience the excruciating, scarring pain of infidelity but Jesus Christ knows pain better than any of us, and sympathizes with us. In fact he bore that pain just FOR us.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

I truly believe that if we are to reflect the gospel and Christ’s love for the church in our marriages, we must do as we are commanded, more than ever. If we cannot bring ourselves to do these things, hard as they may be, for our own spouses who we are literally one with, how could we do it for lost strangers who need Jesus?

But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

2 Corinthians 2:5

If I had not experienced certain pains, and chosen to forgive and reconcile, I would never have been able to appreciate what God has done for me the way I do right now. Although, our pain and sufferings will always pale in comparison to that of our Savior, I think 95% of the time pain pushes us nearer to Him and that is never a bad thing.

“When grief presses you to the dust, worship there!”

Charles Spurgeon

I have made the mistake of feeling like my marriage could never bear fruit, glorify God or be a good example because of its past blemishes. It’s a lie. Because of God’s grace, our blemishes don’t ruin us forever and if we make the choice to have grace for one another, they do not have to ruin our marriages forever. Guard the integrity of your marriage and remember that your relationship will often require a sacrificial and selfless love. Serve your spouse when you least want to and furthermore when they don’t deserve it. Always be praying for your marriage and your spouse and if anyone ever asks how you can continue to love or forgive, tell them about what Christ has done for you.

If you need help in your marriage, please reach out to us! We would love to provide you with sound Christian resources that can help.

The Curious Rise of the Cottagecore Aesthetic and Soft Girl Fashion

If in recent months you’ve taken to scrolling through TikTok, Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest for inordinate amounts of time, you’ll have noticed a blossoming aesthetic movement capturing the imaginations of millions of young women: Cottagecore. It smells like freshly picked strawberries and homemade bread. It feels like running through spring meadows in a long, flowing skirt. Search #Cottagecore on any social media platform, and you’ll be pulled into a vivid fantasy world of vast countrysides, quaint rustic homes, picnic baskets full of delectable treats, and timeless fashions. It’s no wonder why we’ve been charmed by the Cottagecore movement—the one glaring question is, why didn’t it grab our attention sooner?

This year, the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on our ability to work, our social lives, and our collective mental health. As 2020 is approaching its end, we still have yet to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Women who would ordinarily be studying on college campuses or occupied in the workplace everyday have been relegated back to the domestic domain. In the midst of the initial lockdown phase and the ripple effects continuing afterward, we’ve felt restrained and unable to take back control of our lives. Looking out at our troubled world, we sigh helplessly and daydream of what could be. What comes to mind isn’t the life we lived before Covid; it’s something far better.

The Cottagecore enthusiast would rather close her eyes and tilt her head up to the open air than stare at fluorescent lights on panel ceilings. She would rather hear birds chirping at dawn than a printer coughing out another sales report. She wants to feel the breeze hit her face and send her dress fluttering behind her legs, instead of her own breath circulating behind a cloth mask. The modern woman wants to be truly free.

And where does a woman find freedom if not when she feels beautiful? Alongside the rise of Cottagecore aesthetics, “soft girl fashion” has exploded in online popularity with signature trending pieces like Lirika Mitoshi’s iconic Strawberry Dress. Young women everywhere have been raving about this pink strawberry-speckled midi dress since it went viral in August, especially on TikTok, where the hashtag #strawberrydress has now garnered 21.1 million views. Mitoshi’s viral piece, as well as other classic feminine styles such as corset bodices, milkmaid tops, puff sleeves, frills, and marabou trims, are gaining popularity in step with women’s growing eagerness to escape not only from the confines of quarantine, but also the trappings of monotonous lifestyles they had lived before it ever began.

But what will happen after everything goes back to “normal”? Can our romantic whimsy withstand a return to the oppressive drabness of modern life? My optimistic view: only if we let it. Keeping our eyes and hearts fixed on our wholesome desires, no matter how fanciful they seem, we impose beauty onto the ugliness of our fallen world with force.