The Ever-Widening Gap…

I was reading through a Parenting Teens (by LifeWay) today and I came across an article about Teenagers and the secrets they keep (The Culture of Secrets: Cynthia Hopkins).  As I was reading through it she made a comment that is all too real: “Teenagers are basically the same now as they were when you were their age, it’s just that the dividing line between what their friends know about them and what you know about them is ever-widening.”  Teenagers have always had secrets and social media plus the lack of parent involvement in social media allow students to talk freely about life without parental interruption.

Here are some enlightening facts about students and social media Hopkins collected after asking this question, “What is one thing your parents don’t know about your use of social media?:

  • They don’t know about my Twitter account
  • They don’t know I’m on Instagram
  • I have quite a few accounts
  • I talk to guys (obviously a girls response)
  • I’m on there a lot more than they think
  • I block them (students are blocking their parents from viewing their updates
  • I cuss on Twitter
  • I talk to people I’ve never met
  • I’m on when I should be sleeping
  • 36% of those churched teenagers also admitted to having engaged in sexting

As a parent, can you give me a summary of the following social media apps?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • Chatroulette

Now let’s look at them again…

  • Facebook: for friending and provides private chat windows and messaging
  • Twitter: for following anyone and provides a direct messaging option
  • Snapchat: pictures are taken and sent and will disappear after a set time limit (I think you can imagine how this can be dangerous)
  • Instagram: nothing is hidden on Instagram
  • Vine: Instead of sharing pics, you share 6 second videos
  • Chatroulette: designed to help you meet new people. “They RANDOMLY pair you with strangers from around the world for video chatting. Sexual content, especially nudity and pornographic behavior are common on these sites” (Hopkins). THIS ONE IS DANGEROUS

I wish I could say this was all of them, but the list seems to be limitless.  There are so many ways for your teen to be private and this is what I want you to know…as a parent it is ok for you to invade their privacy.

What can you do? Well, Cynthia Hopkins gives you some helpful tips…

  • Communicate: It’s more then when you first allow them on the internet or give them their first cell phone…it’s a continual conversation.  “Don’t just talk, listen” (that’s some great advice).
  • Do your own research: “Don’t count or your kids to educate you on social media, because they’re only going to tell you what they want you to know.” (Convicting)
  • Check their phone randomly, or their browser history
  • Look for warning signs: spending days and nights online or texting…grades suffering…easily angered or sad.
  • Encourage your teen to use technology for good

Thank you Cynthia Hopkins for writing this article.  Such a help for parents in this sea of technology.

If you would like to read the whole article, feel free to come by the office and pick up a copy of Parenting Teens.

JM

Fear Not…

Every day for the past 3 weeks I have read this as a reminder for what this day is for.  I wrote it as a gentle reminder that God has a purpose for my tomorrow.  Today I am asking you to remember it as well…

FEAR NOT,

the sun will awaken a new day

revealing a resounding truth…

God has a purpose, so

ARISE

and be a part of its

Fulfillment!!

Fear not and arise…God has a purpose for this day and it’s not for you to become great (sorry Mr. Osteen), it’s for God to become greater in this world and in your life!

JM

Dot…Dot…

…Dot…

Without fail, my students make fun of me for including “. . .” (ellipsis) in my texts.  Believe or not they are included with a purpose.  I always want my students to know when we finish a conversation (whether it be through texting, chatting, or conversation) they can know this is just a momentary pause in our conversation.  I don’t want students, or anyone for that matter, to feel as if our conversation has concluded and the door is shut.

Many times ellipsis indicate an omission in a paragraph or sentence.  It may also refer to the trailing off of a sentence leaving the reader to interpret its meaning.  This is simply not the case with me…we’re not done…this isn’t over just quite yet.

[Insert spiritual lesson here]

That’s the beauty of God.  There is an eternal ellipsis!  I don’t ever have to feel as if God has shut the door on our conversation.  I know I can always talk with Him and when we conclude, we have these three little dots just hanging around begging to be noticed!  “Look-a-here!!  We can always pick up wherever we left off!”

I’m thankful He’s always inclining to hear my cries…my praises for Him…my bitterness…my pleas of regret.  Thanks for the three dots!

With that said…

 

What kind of quirks do you have when you text?

 

The Christmas Playlist…

Somewhere around November 1st we begin piping the Christmas music through the student/college ministry offices.  Let’s face it, it’s the most wonderful time of the year and one of the reasons for this is due to the music this season offers…so I figured I would share with you the music that can be heard while passing by.

Dave Barnes: Very Merry Christmas

David Crowder Band: Oh For Joy

Harry Connick Jr.: What a Night; When My Heart Finds Christmas

Hillsong: Born is the King; We Need a Savior

Bing Crosby: Christmas Classics

Kevin Max: Holy Night

Ben Rector: Jingle and Bells

The Civil Wars: Tracks in the Snow

Relient K: Let it Snow Baby

Needtobreathe: Go Tell it on the Mountain

Folk Angel: Comfort & Joy (new)

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite out of all these, but I would probably lean towards Harry Connick Jr., because I think it reminds me of the music my mom played on the record player when I was young.  If you’re looking for some new fresh sounding Christmas music, I would definitely lean on the Hillsong stuff…It’s pretty much all I play in the house while sitting by the Christmas tree.

I’m sure you have something that’s not on my list…what’s your favorite Christmas album?

Knit Together: Part 5

Home…What else can I say?  We are back and surrounded by that which is familiar.  It’s kind of amazing how much faster time is when you are home.  The days in the DRC seemed to creep by, but the past 5 days (at home) have felt like a collective of one.

I’m kind of amazed at how smooth our arrival home has been.  I can’t say enough about Meredith and Mikayla and how they have loved their sisters.  I keep telling people, “I’m pretty sure Mikayla was born to be a big sister.”  Believe me, I’m not in denial…I am quite aware this will not last, but I will enjoy it while I can.

Sifa and Marie (Yeye) seem to be transitioning well into their new role as daughters.  Let’s face it, up until 2+ weeks ago, they really didn’t know how it felt to be loved as daughters.  I’m not sure they are even able to grasp the concept just quite yet.  For the time being, they are contempt with having two other girls to share a room and toys with.  The language barrier is sometimes a lot to deal with; however, I believe Sifa and Marie are realizing the only language they’ve ever known has no longer found familiarity with those ears which are willing to listen.

After being away for two weeks from work, I unfortunately had to trudge my way back to the office.  I miss what goes on at the house while I am away, but Jen seems to be adjusting to her new role as Mother of 4, quite nicely.  Yesterday they took time out of their busy day of flash cards and counting , and made their way over to the office.  That was a nice little interlude during my second day back.

As of right now, our only emotional moments are at bed time.  “It’s time to go to bed,” seems to strike more fear in their hearts then the night I watched Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time.  We can only assume what the darkness brought to our children in the DRC.  Their tears aren’t an inconvenience and it seems like Meredith and Mikayla understand the darkness of their sisters pasts are probably worth the tears being shed.

With that said, home has been awesome…but what did I really expect!

JM

 

Knit Together: Part 4

Yep…lice! I’ve never had to deal with lice before, except in elementary school when those who had it were quarantined and initiated into a club that no one wanted to be associated with…I would’ve hated to be ostracized in such fashion. Well…we’ve been initiated! Please, please, please don’t treat us like lepers! We’ve spent the past two nights working on hair and trying to remedy this situation. To be honest, it’s just a small picture of the conditions they’ve spent their lives in. We will treat one more time before we head home (and probably a couple of times when we get home).

These past two weeks have been a little overwhelming and I will be pumped to wake up in the morning and head out. If I could move up our flight time I would, but I think just being at the airport will bring some relief. We started packing today and I could see Sifa and Marie’s little minds working. We were packing their stuff too…surely this could only mean one thing. From that point on, they only wanted to play…I’m ok with that.

I am completely broken for these who were once orphans. I sometimes find myself stuck in the bewilderment of it all. How will they respond when they meet their sisters? What will they think when they cross the threshold of their new home for he first time? What about church? How will the Connect Group kids receive them? These are the thinsg that fill my mind.

Let’s just get home first and we will find out!

JM

Knit Together: Part 3

Allow me to apologize for the delay in posting. Believe it or not, we can get pretty busy over here and when we have a break, we try to sneak a nap with the girls while we can. I tweeted the other day that this has been emotionally taxing…for me, I believe that is an understatement. I thought I was mentally and spiritually ready for this, but God has been showing me a lot of things and it has been wearing me out.

From day one, the girls have really connected with Jen. Yeye, barely allows Jen out of her sight…and that’s only because we believe bathroom time should be a private matter. Sifa has simply accepted me…that doesn’t mean she likes me all the time, she just accepts the fact that I’m around all the time. I gotta start somewhere, right? Yeye on the other hand, has spent the better half of her time with me rolling her eyes and shaking her head in disapproval of everything I say.

There have been so many times I wanted to sit them down and say, “Don’t you understand? Papa loves you so much. You didn’t know you needed rescuing but Momma and Papa are here to love you, accept you, and rescue you from a future with little to no hope. Stick with me kiddos, because I’m gonna give you a new lease on life.”

Holy Cow!!! There’s the Gospel again! God chose me (through foreknowledge or predestination…argue amongst yourselves), and rescued me when I didn’t really know what rescue was. How many times have I rolled my eyes and shaken my head when He called me or told me “Papa alingi yo!” (Daddy loves you!). I have been reminded everyday of my refusal of God’s affection for me in my utter depravity. I think I understand God choosing me more than I ever have before…for that I will forever be indebted to my girls.

Last night was a little bit of a turnaround. They played with me for at least 45 minutes straight as the “Tickle Monster” roamed the room. All of us were sweating profusely, and Yeye finally stopped because she got grossed out by the sweat dripping off my forehead, but then she thought that was even funny. I think that has rolled over into today, because I’ve only received one eye rolling and head nod…winner winner chicken dinner!

Here’s a heads up on our next post…LICE!!

JM

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