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Combating the Cyber World to Keep Kids Safe & Healthy

Combating the Cyber World to Keep Kids Safe & Healthy

Nearly eight in 10 parents believe that they have a more complicated job in raising their kids today than their parents did raising them, says cultural commentator Andy Crouch in The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, which was written in partnership with Barna research. 

Why is this? 65% of parents said technology or social media.  Combine this with the 52% who believe the world is more dangerous and 40% who believe it’s a lack of common morality, and we’ve go a mess on our hands! I believe parents today face a real challenge. Look at these startling statistics shared by Bark, a company helping parents navigate this crazy online realm:

What can do as parents to protect our children? It is unrealistic to think we can just take away all avenues to technology. It’s a part of this world today. It’s used in schools and businesses. Kids need educated. But how often do our kids listen to us when their feelings are on the line? So what is the answer?

When my kids were in middle school and early high school, I used a monitoring app called TeenSafe. It helped me stop a lot of things before they happened, but I had to constantly read everything- texts, posts, etc. There was no privacy and personally, I would prefer not to see all of their communications. And it was time consuming! Recently I came across something new that I love so much that I asked to become an affiliate. I want to share it with every parent!

Bark, an award winning app created BY parents, FOR parents to keep kids safe online. In collaboration with child psychologists, youth advisors, digital media experts and law enforcement professionals, Bark created a terrific solution for families. Parents do not have to read every posts either. Kids keep their privacy while alerting parents anytime it detects cyberbulling, sexual content, depression, anxiety, talk of self-harm or suicide, and even notifies you if it detects talk of violence. Depending on your platform, Android or iPhone, Bark can do different things. It can monitor Messenger, Instagram, SnapChat, Chrome, YouTube… the list goes on. This app is amazing! And it is only $9 a month per FAMILY. You read it right. I said per family, not per person.

Start your 7-day FREE trial. Cancel anytime. Only $9 per month to keep your children safe online. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Please share this with your friends, family, parents in your ministry… Online issues are enormous right now and we have to be proactive to keep our kids safe and mentally healthy.

Simple Valentine Service Project

Simple Valentine Service Project

This year I plan to teach my kindergarten through fifth graders to serve like Jesus. I do not know that Jesus ever sat down to make Valentine’s for the elderly, but he instructed us to care for the widows and orphans. (James 1:27)

I am printing these Valentine cards on card stock and will pre-cut out for the kids. On the back of each one, the kids will write a kind note or for those that are too young, they can draw a picture. I will have our congregations name printed out for them to hand write, “Love, Leander Church of Christ” just so the elderly can share with family and friends where it came from. Next, we will attach one card to a box of SweetHearts candy with mini Glue Dots. (I also thought about carnations but we will save that for another time.) It is super simple and the kids will have fun serving.

Just before Valentine’s Day, I will take a handful of the kids to the assisted living and memory care center that several of our members now live in to hand deliver. We will personally deliver a Valentine to the members of our congregation so the kids can see the joy they are bringing and feel good about what they worked on. We will leave a bunch of extra at the front desk for them to hand out to the others.

Feel free to download and use these Valentine cards. As always, I am on the lookout for new ideas. Please share things you have tried.

Birth of a Savior Story Stones

Birth of a Savior Story Stones

Looking for a unique way of teaching kids the story of the birth of Jesus, our Savior?  Here’s an idea we I am using tonight with our K-5th grades. They will learn about the most amazing gift ever given, our Savior.  I wanted them to have something to take home to remember the story and I wanted it to be something they wanted to share with others.  So what did I do?  Story Stones!

“What are Story Stones?” you ask.  These are simply stones with pictures that jog the memory to tell the story.  I included a 2-sided page of backdrops to accompany the stones just for added fun.  All that is needed is some smooth stones, 8 per person for this story, and permanent markers.  I had some left over used for pumpkin drawing that worked perfectly.  I have a page with all the super simple drawings for each stone so kids can copy onto their stones.  They enjoy this part! If they mess up, tell them to flip the stone over.  They get two chances.  Once done, pass out the backdrops and begin telling the story in your most engaging story telling voice.  Instruct kids to follow along placing their stones in the story as you go.  (I had some glossy gray stones leftover that I used but would love to use the glow in the dark ones next time.  I know the kids would eat this up telling the story in the dark with a black light!)

Click this link for the story, the backdrop and the stone drawings

Volunteer Gifts on a Budget

Volunteer Gifts on a Budget

Do you find yourself in this position every year wondering what to get your volunteers for Christmas that is simple and meaningful while still affordable?

Here are my top picks:

 

 #1 Christmas Music.

Give this gift early in the month so they can enjoy it all season long.  Here’s a great option for under $5.  If you order online through Amazon you can email it directly to them to download.  Anthem Lights “Simple Little Christmas”

 

#2 Wrap It Up Package

I have given this gift before and it was a big hit! One roll of wrapping paper with one disposable tape/dispenser and you are set with a gift they are sure to use this year!

 

#3 Wipe Off Board

This gift can be customized for each volunteer if you’d like or keep it simple and make them all the same.  All you need is a picture frame, decorative paper and a dry erase marker.  Insert the decorative paper in the frame and give with a dry erase marker.  (Before handing out leave a message or a verse.) In the card you can let them know this can be used for anything from menu’s, to do lists, grocery lists or a verse of the day/week.

 

#4 Poinsettia & Poem

Poinsettia’s are a bright and beautiful Christmas gift.  Pair with this heartfelt poem and it’s perfect!

 

 

#5 Gift Card

A simple $5 – $10 gift card is always appreciated!

 

 

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas

Christmas is all about the presents and the parties, right?  Kids sit on Santa’s lap and share their biggest wants. They play fun games at holiday parties, look at Christmas light displays and more.  But how much Christ do they get at Christmas? I know Jesus was not actually born on Christmas day, probably not even in winter, but this is the one time of year that most of the world focuses on Jesus so I believe it is a great time to remind our kids of the greatest gift our Heavenly Father ever gave us, His Son!

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas is a guided play dough lesson for kids. There is a downloadable play dough mat, play dough recipes, suggestions for reinforcing the spirit of Christmas this season as well as information on the science behind the way I teach. Kids learn best through play!  I explain a little about this for your knowledge.  The guided lesson is just that.  I share the story of the birth of Christ while guiding kids through play dough creations to help put this message to memory.  It’s fun AND they learn!

My goal is to spread the message of Christ all across America. I want every child to know God, love God and share God. Help me get the story of Christ’s birth into the hearts and minds of children by sharing this with parents, grandparents, children’s ministry leaders, bible class teachers and more.  It’s free!  Really! There’s not sales pitch hidden in the content. It’s just a message that everyone should hear, especially at Christmas. It’s not some professionally edited video. Nope. It’s just a low key teaching of the greatest gift ever given.

Learn more here.

For added fun, I found an Advent holiday Play-Doh set.

Gen Z: Growing Up Without God

Gen Z: Growing Up Without God

Children are being robbed of their childhood; they are growing up too fast. Unfortunately, they are growing up without God.  Believe it or not, many have never even heard the gospel in America.  Really?  In America?  I’ve been reading Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White.  Over the next few weeks I will continue to share what I learn.  It is truly eye opening and scary; but helps in paving a path for the next generation to know their God.

God’s people, the Israelites, received blessing after blessing from God yet they repeatedly turned towards false gods.  Have you taken a good look at our culture today?  How about just the church?  Do we look like God’s people?  Are parents sharing God with their children daily and making God a priority in their families?  If not, how can we expect things to change?

Let me share some of the things I have recently learned about Generation Z, our children today:

  • 12 and 13 year old girls are some of the highest paid models in America and are presented as sexually enticing adults. Our girls see this and want to be like this.
  • Even the children on television act like adults now in the way they speak, dress, attitudes, desires… And this is who are kids are emulating. Tracy Vaillancourt who specializes in children’s mental health at the University of Ottoway said, “Kids mirror the larger culture, from reality TV to materialism.” Kids want to be who they see.  Take a good look at who and what your kids see today.  Is this someone God would be pleased with?
  • Per proven research, teens who watch movies or listen to music glamorizing drinking, drug use or violence tend to engage in those behaviors themselves. And sexual behaviors? The more teens are exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they start having sex and the likelier they are to have casual, unprotected sex.  We don’t want to believe it, but it has been proven.
  • Then there is pornography. Wow!  These statistics are incredibly disturbing.
    • Nearly three-quarters of 15-18 year old’s have sexted
    • 50% have sent naked or semi-naked photos/videos of themselves
    • 84% have received sexually explicit messages by phone or email
    • 70% of teens surveyed were sexually active with nearly three-quarters not regretting it

“It’s a social, online world our kids live in and sending these images and messages is part of the sexual relationship so it’s really a new form of courtship.”-Anne Mitchell.  We cannot protect our kids from everything, but we can give them a strong foundation in Christ so they are prepared to make the tough decision to go against the grain when these situations present themselves.  We have a responsibility to teach our children, to train them up in the way of the Lord.

This brings me to another alarming statistic in the growing number of parents to Generation Z who classify themselves as nones: the spiritual, but not religious.  Perhaps this is why many children today have never heard the gospel.  “The degree of spiritual illiteracy is simply stunning.”

I do not have all the answers, but I believe God can turn things around.  He proved this throughout scripture.  He worked through His people.  Do you want to be one of those people?  I know I do!  I will begin opening the doors to my online learning opportunities for children next week, fun hands-on bible for kids.  Grandparents can even get links to send to their grandchildren.  It starts with a tiny seed.  This is not the final answer, but it is as start.  I pray that we can get Christ into all homes with children and open their eyes to see a loving God who wants amazing things for them.

If you are interesting in reading more about from Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White, just click on the link.