Youth Groups… Why our family steers clear

Many years ago I had a close Christian friend tell me that her and her family (mom, dad, 2 sons) were looking for a new church and one of their goals was to join a church that did not have a youth group.  Of course, this wasn’t their only requirement (doctrinally sound, etc were requirements) but it had become very important to her.  Honestly, I thought she was nuts!  Her boys were about to be pre-teen… or do they call them tweens these days… anyway, I was thinking her kids are going to need friends when they become the dreaded teenagers (this was back when I thought teenagers had to behave the way the world says teenager have to behave) and what better friends then to have as part of the youth group?

Fast forward a couple year later and we had moved across town and were going to a different church.  I started paying attention to their youth group as my conversation with my friend was always in the back of my mind.  As I watched our youth group (no, I didn’t have any kids of that age yet) it became glaringly obvious that our youth looked no different than the youth of the world.  They dressed the same, they talked the same, they had the same attitude.  We, as Christians, are called to be set apart.

The church was having a potluck one day after the service.  As I was standing in line to get my kids their plates of food I overheard a conversation between our youth minister and a 16 year old girl who were standing right in front of me.  As I listened to their discussion I was, quite frankly, appalled by what I heard and envisioned Natasha having this same conversation in a few years.  Instead of the youth minister kindly but firmly pointing this girl to have this discussion with her parents he engaged her about boyfriends and how important they can be in a girls life, etc.  I realize, to the world this is a completely normal conversation but to someone who desires, more then anything, to raise her children in the admonition of the Lord I was sickened.  There are so many biblical teachings this youth minister could have said to this young girl but instead played into what the world has taught her.

Anyway, I came across the video below that explains better then I can why our family doesn’t attend a church with a youth group.  The video is about 39 minutes long but SO worth it!  He talks about how Sunday school and youth groups started here in America.  Watch to the end when Voddie gives a simple message to fathers and another simple messages to pastors.

 

 

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Our Favorite Camping Spot… so far!

The last weekend of August we went on a family camping trip and I have to say it was my favorite family trip so far!  We had such an enjoyable weekend and in a beautiful campground in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I reserved a group site (because our tent is TOO big for the regular tent pads!) in the Glacier Basin campground.  It was a great spot with lots of room between us and other camping neighbors.  In the past, we have typically stayed at a campground that has a pool, arcade, miniature golf and/or other activities.  But Glacier Basin only had a presentation on Friday night that you could attend if you want.  I was slightly concerned when I made the reservations that we would be bored without all those ‘activities’ but let me tell you we had a fantastic time!  We took walks and hikes and played frisbee in our large group area and ate and ate some more.  We hiked up to Sprague Lake a couple of times and walked around the lake; it was absolutely beautiful.  We already decided we are going back next summer!

Enjoy a few pictures!

Katherine fell asleep near the campfire Saturday afternoon.

Women’s Bible Study Groups or Retreats

I have a problem… a problem with most women’s bible study groups and certainly retreats. I’ve been on 3 retreats and really only 1 was worth it and that was because I was with my best friend. The time spent with her made it worth plugging through the 2 day retreat.

However, I strongly dislike women’s retreats and many women’s bible studies. I’ve struggled to put into words why but this article really lays out a lot of my feelings. Mainly the part about all the emotion and shallowness of it all. I’m not lacking in compassion but I’m certainly not an overly emotional touchy-feely kind of gal either. The other retreats that I’ve been too consisted of most of the women crying about their life circumstance and weren’t truly studying God’s Word or even building each other up. I don’t understand the gather together and cry crowd but then again I’m more of a one on one kind of person.

I did attend a one day Refresh conference for ladies in February and I can honestly say I was refreshed!  We were in our bibles often throughout the day and seeking the truth of Scripture.

I am part of a monthly book study group with a handful of wonderful women and I am blessed to sit at the feet of 2 or 3 wise women who have mentored me and given me encouragement specifically over the last 4 years.  We are in our bible continually, praying for one another and helping hold each other accountable.

Like I mentioned this article really hit home for me.  Take 5 minutes and give it a read.  I agree with the article about just picking up the Bible and studying THE BIBLE.  You don’t need a canned book study to get to know our Lord and Savior.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

God Bless!

 

Coffee Bars and Fog Machines

I came across a blog post that made me cry and also had me saying AMEN!  Kevin Swanson originally talked about it on his podcast a couple of weeks ago.  I looked it up so I could read the entire post.  Suffice it to say it is a must read and you can find it here.

I believe there are far more seeker sensitive and shallow churches now then ever before.  Churches that care more about the decor and what ‘programs’ they offer then about the hurting souls within their congregation.  Loud bands/music, fog machines and the like are such a turn off for me.  I was visiting with one of my daughter’s friends and her parents.  This friend’s ice skating coach goes to a very large and loud church and when I asked about the worship he explained that although it’s really loud they hand out headphones to drown it out for those that don’t care for it.  What a shame!  I love hearing believers sing to the Lord… an preferably not a Chris Tomlin song.

Too many churches these days are more concerned with meeting a quota then they are discipling the congregation sitting before them.  The sermons are fluff and they continue to say they’ll teach new converts the hard stuff once they get them converted.  But, Christ did not die a horrible death (read Isaiah 53 for a beautiful passage describing Christ’s suffering) for the church to teach fluff.  As a side note, I took note in Eric Metaxes book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer how Bonhoeffer visited America in the 1930s and was surprised at how shallow the American churches were…  that was almost 90 years ago!

However, despite a lack of bible believing and teaching churches, as Christians we are commanded to be part of a church.  This article details WHY we are commanded to be part of a church family.

If you call yourself a Christian you should have a new life; a changed life… not the same life with a new title… hmmm, I see another blog post on that topic!

Please click on the link in the first paragraph and take a few minutes to read the words of a young mother in mourning.

A Graduation Party

Well hello!  I know, it’s been awhile!  When you are a wife, homeschooling mom to 5 amazing gifts from God, a daughter, sister in Christ, a property manager, template builder and capsule weighing expert there really is no time to blog!  There are so many things I want to say.  In fact, almost every single day I see, read or think of something I want to blog about but alas, I just haven’t had the time.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to say HI and to share a brief note on what a wonderful afternoon we had.  We were invited to a graduation party of a young man who Phil knew of while he was in the womb.  Phil has known this family for about 25 years… maybe a couple more.  Their 2nd son graduated from high school this year and we were blessed to be a part of the celebration.

It was such a joy to be around so many like minded families.  To watch kids of all ages playing together, interacting with others and all the adults, and to see the relationships being nurtured.  To see these young adults (the world calls them teenagers) behave in such a kind, respectful way to all of those around them.  To be around teenagers who actually care about other people and take the time to talk with others and invest in relationships is so refreshing.

This young man will start college this fall after being home educated all the way through high school.  He has worked hard and earned many scholarships. Because of his grades and the Godly character his parents have instilled in him, he will have nearly a full ride.  Our society needs more young men like him.  Young men, whose number priority is his relationship with God and who seeks to follow God’s will for his life, not his own will.  Young men who put faith, family and the Gospel before video games, partying and all the other priorities this sinful world puts at the top of its list.  His parents have taught him from a very young age to be wise about what he puts in his head and his heart.  To be discerning about what he reads, listens to and watches.  To see the fruit from this young man and his family is so encouraging to me.

It’s so refreshing….  we were surrounded by teenagers who didn’t act like ‘teenagers’ but who acted as though they belonged to the Lord.

Psalm 119:9-16  
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
[e]As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts
And [f]regard Your ways.
16 I shall [g]delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.

We Have An 8 Year Old Again!

We celebrated Alex’s 8th birthday this month with lots of food, family and friends.  For her birthday party dinner Alex requested chicken cordon blue, butter noodles with garlic and parmesan and salad… well Grandma Joanne added the salad!  Thanks Grandma! It was such a fun day.

Alex is a smart, funny and beautiful girl.  We love having her as part of our family!  She’s really enjoying American Heritage Girls (more on that later!) and having lots of fun this summer.  She choose The Rock again for her birthday dinner; I think it’s the 3rd year in a row!  For her cake she said I could surprise her with any cake I wanted so after doing lots of research I settled on an Elsa and Anna birthday cake.  Below are just a few pictures.

Mommy and Alex at her birthday dinner.

Mommy and Alex at her birthday dinner.

Elsa and Anna doll cake

Elsa and Anna doll cake

Daddy and Alex on her birthday dinner.

Daddy and Alex on her birthday dinner.

Family Camp – LONG but stick with me!

It has been so long since I’ve shared anything on my blog but have no fear a lot has been happening around our house!  We were incredibly blessed to have most of our family able to go to family camp in Nebraska during the first week in August.  Unfortunately, Phil was unable to get the time off of work so I took our 4 oldest children and hit the road on August 3rd for Maxwell, Nebraska.

We were all set to tent camp for the week when Phil’s brother Andy and his lovely girlfriend Renee offered to let us use their RV that they had just purchased a couple of weeks before.  Check out this beauty!

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Yep, I drove that about 600 miles round trip to Nebraska!  It is a 26 foot RV that sleeps 6.  The kids LOVED taking this to camp and we were truly blessed to be given the opportunity.  THANK YOU Andy and Renee!

Once we made it to Maranatha Camp we checked in and made it to the section of the camp where the RV’s were able to plug in to full hook-ups.  Fortunately, our RV neighbor was able to help me back in the RV and he and his sons did all the hook-ups for me.  Shortly after their help we discovered that they live not too far from us here in Lakewood, CO!  I was so grateful!  Besides being a little overwhelmed with wanting to make sure I got it all hooked up correctly, I was sick and was feeling terrible.  The help was so much appreciated.

Once we got settled in to our RV spot we made the trek to the dining hall for dinner.  I say trek because the tent and RV part of the camp was .66 miles from the dining hall, chapel, gym and most other activities.  Needless to say I got my 10,000 steps in every day at camp having to walk back and forth!

After dinner on Monday I was feeling quite terrible but the girls really wanted to go to chapel with the Davidson girls (they went to Russia with them earlier this year) and I was completely comfortable with sending them half a mile away to the chapel with a walkie talkie in hand and instructions to return to the RV the minute chapel was over.  Jonathan and I stayed at the RV so that I could rest and he watched a movie.

All 3 girls wanted to sleep in the space over the cab.

All 3 girls wanted to sleep in the space over the cab.

I woke up Tuesday still feeling terrible but we made it to breakfast and the morning chapel session.  It rained all day Tuesday so for the free time after lunch Scott Davidson (camp coordinator) hung out in the gym with lots of kids for a few hours and I got to go back to the RV to rest.  The gym is set up with a large climbing wall on one end that the camp staff’s with 2 employees helping the kids with harnesses and climbing up the wall to ring the bell.  Natasha, Mikayla and Jonathan all loved the climbing wall.  They also have roller skating in the gym with free rentals of skates.  All the kids loved the designated skating times.  I met the kids at the gym after resting and then we headed to dinner.  After evening chapel we headed back to the RV to get a good nights sleep.  Tuesday was also Alex’s birthday so I brought along a small cake and we sang to her after dinner and had cake.

Tuesday, August 4th, can't even see the lake.

Tuesday, August 4th, can’t even see the lake.

Belle on the climbing wall.

Belle on the climbing wall.

Jonathan getting ready to go up the wall.

Jonathan getting ready to go up the wall.

Wednesday was such a fun day.  After breakfast the camp coordinators organized the families in teams of 12 for family olympics.  We competed in 3 races.  First, we had to blow up 12 balloons and run one by one across the field to a chair and sit on the balloon to pop it.  Second, we had to carry a plastic plate like a fancy waiter with a ping pong ball across the field and back without dropping the ball.  The third race was all of us on the team got on our knees in a row.  In front of the first person was a bucket full of water and a sponge.  She had to soak the sponge in the water and we had to pass the soaked sponge over our heads to the last person who would ring out what water was left in a bucket until that bucket it was full.  We were soaked by the end but it was so much fun!  Our team did not win but we sure had fun trying!  After those races they had 50 yard dash races based on gender and age and then they played big ball with different age groups.  It was a very fun day and the sun was out and it was very warm and humid.

After lunch there was a boat building contest that Belle wanted to be a part of.  I was able to add her to a team with the Swanson family.  I think there were 12 teams and their goal was to build a cardboard boat with 2 roles of packing tape and then their boat had to make it around the lake with 2 people in it.  It was so much fun to watch.  Belle didn’t get to rid in the boat but she was able to help build it and she really enjoyed the event.   After the boat race we had free time and since the sun was out we headed to play in the lake and pool.  Natasha and Mikayla spent much of this time in the pool but Jonathan and Alex played in the lake and had so much fun.  I sat on the beach and watched.  I was feeling much better with just a sore throat, no head ache or body aches.  It was then time to clean up and head to dinner, then the evening chapel session.  Mike Chapa spoke and he is such a wonderful, encouraging and convicting speaker.

Jonathan swimming in the lake.

Jonathan swimming in the lake.

There were these large swings all up and down the lake.

There were these large swings all up and down the lake.

Wednesday, August 5th

Wednesday, August 5th

Thursday was a bit cloudy and rainy but we sure did have fun again.  Between fun meals with other families, chapel, playing in the gym and wonderful fellowship it was another joyful day.  We were even able to hit the archery field and try hitting targets for about 30 minutes.  Friday came and we got the RV packed up, headed to breakfast, chapel and then lunch and then said goodbye.  I was ready to get home but I truly enjoyed every single minute of camp… even being sick.

Jonathan trying archery!

Jonathan trying archery!

Natasha trying archery!

Natasha trying archery!

Belle loves Archery!

Belle loves Archery!

As for chapel, you might be thinking that 7 chapel sessions in one week would seem like too much but Scott and Andie Davidson really put a lot of effort into reaching all age groups with minute-to-win-it games, musical entertainment, speech and drama and overall interaction with all of us.  The kids actually did really well with all the chapel sessions and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

I loved the people watching…. I saw families with 2 kids, families with 10 kids and everything in between.  One family in particular caught my attention.  One of their sons who was 16 invested a lot of time into his 4 year old sister.  I watched as he helped her do all kinds of things from getting her breakfast plate of pancakes and sausage to her taking a nap on his shoulders.  I watched as other families poured into each other and genuinely enjoyed being around each other.  Now, before you go thinking that this poor 16 year old boy had to raise his 4 year old sister, I also saw him playing board games with his parents and volleyball with the other teens.  I loved seeing this group of people with TEENAGERS who loved to be around their parents and siblings.  Who, although still have to deal with teenage hormones and attitudes, have parents who are teaching them to navigate all the feelings of this season of life and yet still treat their parents, siblings and others with respect, kindness and love.

The drive home wasn’t bad except hitting Denver during Friday rush hour but we still made it home without incident.

Alex and Jonathan sleeping on the drive home from camp.

Alex and Jonathan sleeping on the drive home from camp.

We are already praying about going next year but with the whole family.  I was so blessed to be able to take our kids and enjoy making memories with them.  A big thank you to my mom who paid for all of our meals so that I had a week off of cooking.  And another big thank you to my dear friend June and her 2 sons who did our paper route for us so that we didn’t have to do it when we returned Friday evening.

We missed daddy, Katherine and my mom but I know my mom took good care of them.

Thank you for hanging in there on such a long blog post!

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