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Posts Tagged ‘Teens’

IMG_1288.JPGGood morning to my greatest works!
of art, of creativity, of heart, soul, mind and breath.

The other day, one of you asked what was my favorite age of you three. That was an easy question to answer! I love the stage each of you is at today.

Another of you asked me to read an article about courting and dating and then asked me to tell you what I thought. That was not an easy question to answer.

When each of you was born, I contemplated the wisdom of pre-arranged marriages … I was so fearful that you, lacking in life experience, would make a wrong and disastrous choice.

Now, after twenty-five years of marriage, and nearly as many years as a parent, I am seeing things differently.

I no longer see myself as the better judge of your future spouse. You see, I am wholly and completely human … sin-filled, flawed, and my preferences as changing as the wind (as if my moving of plants in our garden does not confirm that reality).

The only area where I have an advantage is life experience, and age is no guarantee that I would not make mistakes.

Now, let me tell you about dating, the mom version …

As a teen, I did what everyone else was doing, in regards to dating. ‘Normal’ was to date, exclusively, to be as physical as possible without ‘it’ happening. To date meant trying someone out, until it fizzled. Heartbreak ensued. Then we (I) would move on to the next experimental guinea pig. And the cycle continued.

All of this happening as our minds and bodies were developing, our education being pursued, our futures dreamed, and our dear friendships taken too much for granted.

Marriage was still the aimed for end result, but exclusive relationships, one after another, resulted in many heartbreaks.

Suffice it to say that my own high school dating experience is foundational in the ‘motivational’ offer by your dad and I, of a car after high school, if you choose to not date until after graduating high school.

As a parent, I feel I have gone through a few paradigm shifts.
-I have appreciated the courtship model (loosely)
-I have discouraged dating
-I have even encouraged you to not expect marriage as a sure thing for your future

At this juncture, as I look at my parents, and I am thankful for something they did.

I am thankful that they let me make my own choices and mistakes. They entrusted me to make my own mistakes and good choices. And I am thankful for that.

What I hope that we, as parents, have done is give you all of the foundational love and instruction you will need to make the important choices in your life, regarding dating

I hope we have taught you all:

  • to love yourselves
  • to love and respect others
  • to respect your heart, mind and body
  • to not ‘settle’
  • to not say ‘I love you’, just because someone tells you they love you
  • seek Gods will for your individual life, before seeking a life with another
  • consider who you date as whether they are marriable
  • to not look for the perfect person … there is no perfect person, not even the one in the mirror

I hope that God is number one in your life, and I hope you only choose to date people who think the same. Know that there is more to being ‘evenly yoked‘ than just being married to a Christ follower. Christians come in many different experiences of Gods spirit … if you are charismatic in your beliefs and expressions, a lover of liturgy, robes and choral music could make church and family-related choices, in the future, almost as painful as being with one who doesn’t love God at all.

My grown and growing kids,

these things you NEED to know, about dating (and life) …
You’re gonna make mistakes,
have your heart broken,
and wonder (years, weeks, minutes) in your marriage if you made a mistake.

And there is no formula or guarantee that will ensure that you got it right.

I wish that your dad and I could be a better example of perfect, like Christ and the church, sort of love …
But wait, that is the model we have given, because we as husband and wife are like the church …
We are sin filled, flawed, selfish
We mess up, we want to leave, we hurt each other

And here we are, still, 25 years into the adventure

We are still as messed up as we were as single individuals,
but aiming for the same grand finale … NOT on Earth, but in heaven.

And that’s it.

No, that’s not it …

And we will be praying for you until our last breath.

Love,

Mom

“If love is what you’re looking for
The old roads lead to an open door
And you’ll find your way”
Andrew Peterson

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A number of weeks back I read an article titled, as this post is titled, “It Matters Who You Marry,” and as I read it I I found my head nodding in agreement with the message it presented.

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Working in a high school I see the budding of ‘love’ down every hallway I walk. I see girls admiring the guys who can entertain a crowd, who have fancy cars and fancy clothes, the guys who are amazing athletes and who are ‘cute.’ As an older ‘girl’ with a few more years life (and fat cells) under my belt, I find myself shaking my head as I view the sights. I wish that there were some way of communicating to these girls that the pattern of their interest in guys now, will create a template for their life partner choice later down the road.

But, I know that for most of us, it is experience that is the best teacher. And so I just hope that they learn it young, and that the experience does not break them totally. I hope too that for each one, there might be a person who will speak into their lives with love, and grace, and gentleness … and honesty.

I encourage you to click on the link, following a portion of the article, written by Rebecca VanDoodewaard (RVD). Maybe it will encourage you to be that person in the life of a young woman, who helps her through the minefield of choosing who to date … and why.

“My husband and I were once with a youth group. There were three kids sitting across from us at a meal: two guys and a girl. The one guy was a computer geek with glasses. The other one was a college student with slightly cooler hair and no glasses. The girl was obviously with him. But while the computer geek was busy serving everyone at the meal, clearing plates and garbage, the college student got angry with the girl for a small accident and poured red juice over her leather jacket and white shirt. She picked the wrong guy, and the juice didn’t seem to change her mind. She is in for some grief if that relationship continues and especially if it leads to marriage.
 
So to all the young, unmarried Christian girls out there, listen up: who you marry matters. You might think that the way he treats you isn’t so bad. It’s not going to get better after the wedding. You might think that he’ll change. It’s possible, but most don’t. You might think that you’ll be able to minister to him and help him. Possibly, but if you can’t now, you won’t then, and you will be at risk yourself. A husband should lead and cherish you, not need your counsel for basic personality or behavior issues.
 
Unless someone married is very frank with you, you can’t understand how much a husband will impact your entire life. Next to salvation there is no other long term event that will change so many areas of your life so deeply. Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living.”
 

Click on The Christian Pundit to keep reading.

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What is an adventurous life?42e52062bb6e070f099f7b7f3f7b2bb3

As summer is approaching, as plans are made for vacations, for lazy summer days, for parties, for barbecues, for trips and activities, do we plan adventures too?

Do we make plans for our summers that make our hearts race? That make our pupils dilate? That make our palms sweat? That make the moisture in our mouths dry, and a lump form in our throats. Do we make plans for our summers that thrill and excite us, providing us with stories to tell when we return to our jobs, our schools when the play time is done?

When I found the quote to the right I immediately thought of my summer break, and those words made me question how I would define an adventurous life.

Those words made me think of bucket list goals of jumping out of a plane, or climbing a mountain (with bear spray in my pocket), or swimming with whales. Those bucket list items were more prevalent before I was a mom (not that I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to do them).

Since becoming a mom, an adventurous life looks different to me.

Now being adventurous is going to every SciFi movie that hits the big screen, or going on a mother-daughter road trip with my daughter, her friend and that friend’s mom, or teaching my teen how to drive. It is learning to sleep even if the chickies are not all home yet. It is wading through the chemistry of hormones and attractions to the opposite sex. It is sitting down to discuss my child’s academic progress at a parent-teacher conference. It is wiping teary eyes, letting them make their own mistakes, and biting my tongue (how I have bitten my tongue!).

It is in and through my kids that I have risked the most, been stripped of all I thought I was, and felt the real rush of adventure. It is in and through my kids that I desire most to leave a little piece of myself behind.

And so, as I plan for adventure this summer, I know it will have more to do with simply living life, having mine intertwine with the hearts and souls of those three who I long most to experience the thrill of doing life with each and every day. That is the ultimate in risk and adventure.

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Parenting teens is not easy … duh!

There are so many freaking emotions contained in those hairy, hormonal, human bodies. Add to that the ebb and flow of my own hormones and you have what is known as a disaster waiting to happen.

There are those days when they are not talking to you, or they are disrespecting you, or they are simply too busy with their friends to make time to fill your own cup.

Some days I just want a pause button. No, what I really want is a rewind button!

I want to rewind to the days that I tucked them in each night … rather than them tucking me in. The days that when I’ve wigged out at them (for no good reason), and apologized, and they wrapped their arms around me and said, “it’s okay mommy, I forgive you,” and it really was all over. The days they were eager to go to a Disney movie … okay, at least one of mine will still drop everything for that!

I am not forgetting just how difficult it is for them to be walking the tightrope of the teen years, I am simply looking for an oasis in this hot, dry desert.

And I found it!

Hannah pic

The other night I received a FaceTime request on my phone … by the daughter of my friend. Her daughter is eight, and has recently learned how to connect with me in this way.

What delight!

My friend is so good to share her little ones with me! They come to swim in our pool, or make muffins, or play video games. Or we go to a play, or for ice cream. They draw me pictures (see above), and read me original stories, and show me their Lego creations. We take pictures, and go for walks and watch movies.

On my phone, the other night, were giggles of excitement, from both she and her much younger (six year old) brother, ‘I love you’ and ‘good night’, along with the thrill of simply making the connection just made my day! Their giggles, innocence, and simplicity fed a part of my soul that was parched from the ‘mature, adult’ life of parenting teens.

Our FaceTime ended

I walked around the rest of the evening with a big smile plastered on my face

and I thought to myself,

every parent of a teen needs a younger child in their life!

Now don’t think that I do not love and adore my teenage children … they are the apples of my eyes! Even through the body odor, the sullen attitudes, the corpse-like bodies that need to be awakened each morning, the relationship issues, the tears, the refusal to clean up Mr. Shitake (aka the dog poo), I love them and would die for them.

A younger child in your life while raising a teen, though, gives us the reminder of a slower, less complex, more controlled phase of life … not easier, just simpler. It reminded me of simpler days with my now taller than me teens. It reminded me of sharing similar experiences with them, as I did my little friends.

Sweet days do not end when our teens grow up, but it is nice to recreate those sweet memories of simpler days.

Thanks my little friends.

 

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Kids today deserve more credit than we give them.24418022950876082_SHVOlNqK_b

We complain that they are lazy, selfish, and directionless. We feel intimidated when we see a group of teens. We look at their appearance, their fashion, their music and critique that they have no taste. We say they do not know how to speak to adults, that they give one word responses, that they do not make eye contact. We complain about them … their attitudes, their behaviors. We look down on them.

Is that the whole story? Is the future in peril because of our teens? Are they really any different than the teens that we were not all that long ago?

Back when I was a kid, a teen, I remember vividly the experience of returning a watch that my grandmother had given me as a high school graduation present because it was not working. Receipt in hand, I took it back to the store where my grandmother had purchased it. I presented myself, and my story, to the lady working at the store. She looked at me suspiciously, spoke very rudely to me, and made it clear to me that she did not believe my story. I was finally able to get my watch exchanged, but I left the store with a feeling of inferiority and of not being believed … heard.

Do we ‘hear’ kids and teens today? Do we look down on them simply because they are young?

In 1 Timothy 4:12, the young are told,

“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.”

But how do the young learn how to set a good example “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” if it is not modeled to and for them by those of us who have raised them?

We give much to our children, but it is at a cost. Most parents provide many tools and toys for their children, working long hours to pay all that is needed. I read a report last week that said that 38% of children in grade 5 have a cell phone. The number jumps to over 83% just three grades later.

We provide many extracurricular activities for our children, yet from my own parental experience that too can be disappointing. I have observed parents who seem to expect their children to perform as Olympic athletes, yelling and demeaning them, or their coaches, in competitions. Or, parents do not even attend the performances of their children.

As adults we cannot expect mature behavior, passion-filled lives, or desire to help others if we do not love, mentor, lead and (most importantly) spend time with children and teens (ours, or others whose lives cross with our own).

They and the raw material that they are when they are born, are created in the image of their Creator. They and how they grow to develop and mature is in the image of us, the parents who created them.
children-turn-out-well-quote

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

James Baldwin

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One of my favorite parts of working in high school is seeing the metamorphosis that occurs as teens grow and mature in their relationships with their peers.

It can leave a residue on my heart, that, over the years, has changed how I related to students.

There was a girl who was choosing poorly. She had given up on the ‘childish’ things she loved, things like sports, her youth group, books and schoolwork. She was mentally moving to the wrong side of the tracks, and on that wrong side was hanging out at the mall, friends who brought her down, premature dating and exposures to chemical substances.

She was only twelve.

For the next three years she chose the ‘dark side’ and, ironically, that dark side started to gray her appearance. Her make-up became darker, her clothes became darker, tighter and more revealing, her attitude became darker, and her personality became darker.

Her marks slid, her reputation with peers was negative and she was ‘pegged’ a hopeless case. Sadly she was probably pegged that hopeless case a long time prior, as her home situation was a rough one that could make it difficult for her to see and dream of hope for her future.

Then, as school began for yet another year, this young lady ‘looked’ different. The shadows were disappearing, and were being replaced by a brightening, a lightening of her appearance. Her make-up was lighter, her clothes were lighter, looser more modest, her attitude, her personality seemed cheerier, happier, lighter.

That new school year she tried out for a sports team, she walked with a smile, instead of a scowl, and she began to make efforts to connect with a different, a more hope-filled, a more future-minded crowd of peers.

It does not always happen this way, but that different, more future-minded crown of peers, welcomed her in. They accepted her, and invited her to be part of them, to be one of them.

Her life began to show signs of hope.

This story is one that I created from a combination of many stories I see walking the halls of high school every day. It is a story without knowledge of the ending as we do not know where the life of an adolescent or teen might go.

What we do know is that the life of a teen or adolescent is like that of a tight rope walker. They might be headed along on the straight and narrow, but at any time they might lose their balance. The resulting fall call be fast, hard, and with long lasting consequences.

When you see a teen you know, say hello to them, ask about their weekend, their plans for after school. These simple, natural interactions, accompanied by silent prayers for the life, the heart, the soul of that individual, can be the bright spot in an otherwise dark day for a teen. Be intentional in noticing these developing souls as they prepare to emerge from their adolescent cocoon as a moth or a beautiful butterfly.

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A conversation a long while back still haunts me.

My daughter had the look of one who wanted to spill information that she knew, so we did some errands where we would be driving (nothing like the wheels of a vehicle moving to get a teenager to talk) a significant amount.

It took no time for the story to enfold.

She told me about her friend. Her friend, at the time, was a girl of just fourteen. She had a boyfriend. According to what my daughter said (because she is a question ‘asker’ and she had asked her friend what the two of them talk about together), her friend and the boyfriend didn’t spend much time talking, because there was not much for them to talk about to each other. The two had discussed the details (I guess they found a topic that they wanted to talk about), of when and where they would have sex for the first time. And so, when mom was out, and the house empty, they did IT.

The story does not end there. The next day the daughter asked her mother for oral birth control (I am not sure if she fessed up to mom about her recent sexual explorations). Her mother grounded her for two weeks.

So, now we have a young girl, who is dating a guy who she has nothing to talk about with, who is having sex, who is wise enough to know that birth control is a good idea, whose mother chooses to not only say no to, but, rather than sit down and have an exploratory conversation, grounds her. Yikes! It is the perfect storm of situations!

How is it that, in this day and age, a mother could be so uncommunicative with her daughter? How is it that, in this day and age, a girl could think that having sex with someone who she has nothing to talk about with (other than sex) is a good idea? I keep hearing the voice of the Virginia Slims cigarette ads saying “you’ve come a long way baby” and thinking … really? I keep thinking of the book by Laura Schlessinger “10 Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives” and thinking … will it ever end?

There is a line that I frequently quote to my daughters, that comes from the classic Louisa May Alcott book, Little Women, “I will not have my daughters being silly about boys.” Although they are fully human young women, I greatly desire that they grow up knowing that their value is not in temporary pursuits (and especially when it comes to young men), but in who God has created them to be, and the purpose and intent He has for their lives, apart from romantic or sexual relationships. They are, indeed, sexual beings, but oh, they are so much more! I truly believe that they must seek God’s best for them, as individuals, before they begin down the path of life with another person, and their life’s direction.

It is with fear and trepidation that I co-parent these two precious ladies … fear and trepidation that brings me to my knees! And that is a good place to be.

While on my knees I pray for openness of communication, and for wisdom to help them grow to be wise.

“I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good.
To be admired, loved, and respected.
To have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married,
and to lead useful, pleasant lives,
with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send.”
Little Women

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There is a verse from 1 Corinthians 13 that has been (partially) marinating in my brain cells this week, and it has nothing, and everything, to do with love (as 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “Love Chapter” of the Bible).

The verse that I have been pondering (and taking out of context) is verse 12; “now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete.”

I found myself thinking of my mom, back when I was a single adult (barely an adult, since hubby stole me away so young 😉 ), and she was … about the age that I am now. I found myself trying to remember what I was like as a young adult, and what she was like as a VERY YOUNG woman (remember, I was remembering her when she was the age that I am now).

Then out of the blue the verse above came to mind, and I thought of our relationship back then.

My mom and I had a great relationship when I was a child, and even when I tortured her through my teen years. Many times when my friends came over, they were as eager to sit and chat with her, as with me. My mom had a fantastic gift for listening, and what more could a teenage girl want than to have an adult actually listen to them when they speak?!

I also remember the post high school years, and how there was more distance between us. I remember that I started to notice flaws in mom. I started to watch her more, and I started to see that she did not do things as I might have thought the ‘right way’ to do them. It was in this stage that I no longer agreed with all that she said.

This was the stage of me growing away from my mom. It is normal, it is predictable and it is good. It is a stage where a young adult begins to become more independent of their parents, in actions and in thoughts.

I also now know that it must have been hellish for her. To go from such closeness to growing distance must have eaten at her mother heart.

“Now we see (like) a blurred image in a mirror …”

I remember that stage of life. I remember the independence that I was feeling. I remember how very eager I was to grow away from my parents. I remember feeling wise and worldly.

What I know now, that I did not know then was that I was seeing the life before me as a blurred image in a mirror. As clear as life and the future seemed to me then, now I know, looking back, that what I saw was often not reality. I saw things as I wanted to see them.

I was living in the idealism of youth. Now idealism is not a bad thing, as a matter of fact, I wish that I could get some of that idealism of youth back in my mind and heart, but idealism is often not seeing things as they are, but as we wish to see them … it is blurred reality.

I judged my mom, based on my blurred vision. I guess it is a common happening in most young adults lives, with their parents, but now I “see very clearly” how blurred that vision was, way back then. I can not say that “my knowledge is incomplete” quite yet, but I am now at the stage of life of seeing my mom as a whole, not just the parts that I thought I understood as a young adult.

I now understand that some of my mother’s actions and inaction, things she said, and refrained from saying, were responses to the decisions she had been making since she was a young adult herself. I now see that she did the best with what life had thrown at her, and with the consequences (good and bad) of her young adult decisions, when her vision was still blurred.

I do look forward to the day when “my knowledge is incomplete.”

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The language of adolescents would seem to be technology. They talk and text and FaceTime and Tweet and game, and then there is social networking!

I had an interaction the other day with my son. I could tell by the way he closed (slammed) the van door, after school, that he was not in a good mood. It took everything within me to not respond … verbally, angrily with his over use of adolescent muscle on my van door. Working in a high school, I know that to respond to anger in a teen, who is angry, is only going to elevate the level of anger. So, I did what I often do … I bit my tongue (it really should be severed in two by this point in my life … come to think of it, maybe this is what is meant when the Bible speaks of the tongue as being a double edged sword … maybe it has less to do with double edged, and more to do with heavy duty steal … but, I digress).

Once we were home, and he and I were alone for a moment, I took a deep breath, and asked (nicely) if he wanted to talk. He said, “no, not now, it was a crummy day.”

So, I let he and his ‘surly’ mood have space (physically and emotionally). The difficulty in giving him space though, is that as a woman, and a mom, one could not get much more inquisitive. All I really wanted to do was to get to the bottom of his bad mood.

Once he had some space (that is spent in his bedroom … his turf), I did what I often do in these circumstances. I knocked at the door, and ‘asked’ if I could enter. I brought a glass of water to him (it is my entrance fee …). Then, I asked if there was anything I could do to help improve his day (I ask because it helps the adolescent feel in control, and chances are he did not feel in control earlier in the day … this is empowering for them).

Sometimes tears start to flow at this point, sometimes a silent shake of the head, sometimes they are already okay, and life has moved on to brighter skies. It is a rare thing that they do not share what their day has held, and where their sorrow originated.

So, he told me his tale of woe … and I listened. The world would not have stopped for his great failure. His iTouch would not have wanted to hear his story. If he Tweeted it, or FB’ed it, or whatever else technology could have offered him it would not have come close to what he wanted, what he needed the most …

What my son, and any other son, or daughter, needs most, is a listening ear, and “I love you,” in response, and a big ‘ol mama hug.

The language of adolescents is NOT technology, the language of adolescents is the same as the language of us all … LOVE!

To be heard, to be loved, to be shown affection and acceptance, despite our behaviors … that is what we all want, what we all need.

The language of love is the language that we, as humans, live for! It is how we are wired, it is how we were created!

And, although I am only sharing one story of parental success in the midst of far too many failures for this one mom, I do believe it is in following with the example of Christ.

God loves us. He loves us not depending on our behaviors, but despite them! He loves us, because he knows that we are worth loving. And if I, whose behaviors are so poor, can be loved by the God of this universe, then I need to ensure that the behaviors of the adolescents in my life, are not keeping me from speaking their language.

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Way back when I was a girl …

Sometimes it is so difficult to not start a sentence that way in reference to ‘the good ‘ol days.’ We can be so very selective with our memories of days gone by, throwing out the bad and remembering only the good.

When I think back to my childhood, television watching was a big part of our recreational time, as individuals, and as a family. I can remember watching TV shows with my parents, and the conversations that would follow the episode. As I think back, some of the most teachable moments were when a show would end, and Mom or Dad would say, “so, what did you think of that topic?” TV was the catalyst for learning opportunities in the house I grew up in.

“Little House on the Prairie” taught me all about a family that loves each other. Their lives were tough (no dishwasher … yikes), and life did not always go as they would have liked. They had a daughter who was deaf, and they took in a boy who needed a family, and made him fully part of theirs. They dealt with a fire, drought, poverty and Nelie Olsen! The show dealt with real life issues that are not relegated to the Prairie, such as death, poverty, alcoholism, thievery, adultery, illness, and single parenting, just to name a few.

Then there was “The Waltons” who introduced me to another time in history. They also taught me about a family who loves each other. There lives were tough, and life did not always go as they would have liked. They lived in a multi-generational house, had a home business, and almost everyone under the roof was a type A, strong willed personality. The show dealt with real life issues, not relegated to the time of the Depression to WWII in the mountains of Virginia. They dealt with issues such as death, poverty, alcoholism, abuses, a house fire, and single parenting.

The Cosby Show was a favorite in the house I grew up. It was a sitcom that could bring the viewer to tears from laughter as well as from touching scenes. They taught me about a family who loves each other. Although they were a family of means (he, an obstetrician and she, a lawyer), they still lived a life of issues that the typical family could face. They dealt with death, marital stress, teen alcohol use, two income family dynamics, and many child rearing issues.

Happy Days was another of our favorites. The music was so great, and the it had the bonus of dealing with everything from the serious to the absurd (sort of like my blog). The show taught me about a family who loves each other. They were an average middle class family dealing with the average middle class life issues. Issues such as death, marital problems, stealing, heartbreak, and various teen-related issues. It took us back to a day and time when the man brought home and bacon and the woman cooked it up. Don’t think that Marion Cunningham was a spineless woman though, because, although hubby Howard was the head of the family, Marion was definitely the neck that turned that head!

As I pondered the shows I grew up on, I am thankful for the things I learned from them.

I learned that life is not always perfect.
That bad things happen to good people.
That working hard is worth the effort in the long run.
That honesty is the best policy.
That family is important.
That marriage is work, and it is worth it.
That kids have an opinion, and they should be free to voice it.
That there are consequences to all choices and decisions.

I am thankful for the input that I received while sitting in front of the tube … I wonder what messages and input today’s TV viewing adolescents and teens are receiving?

“Summing it all up, friends,
I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on
things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—
the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly;
things to praise, not things to curse.”
Philippians 4:8

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