cloud-sun

Life is not without problems. Trials come. Difficulties rear. Frustrations boil. Yet when they come, we find ourselves just trying to keep our head above water.

Everything within us wants to run and escape the trials of this life. Where do we turn? Self-help books? Quick fixes? Avoidance? Anger? Our human nature seeks any tangible solution for a way out. The problem is those are seldom God’s solutions.

It is at times like these for me that I’m reminded of an old hymn …

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

Turning our eyes on Jesus instead of our problems is soothing, just like a warm fire on a cold winter morning. When we put our focus on Him, His peace fills our hearts. Then our perspective has the opportunity to be revamped, tweaked, and adjusted to God’s bird’s eye view. We may not come away with answers, but we will receive something better–God’s peace to enable us to persevere in the path He has set before us.

Trials in life are inevitable, but our responses to them is up to us.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

Click to listen to Hillsong’s “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

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Stand

Bullying. What immediately comes to mind is children playing on a playground and one kid is picked on.

What is a parent to do?

I have to admit, the first time my daughter came home in kindergarten and said someone had called her a name on the playground, my instinct was to march to that playground and give the other little kid a piece of my mind. Not too adult of a response, but I just hurt so badly that someone would hurt my daughter like that. I instead talked to her about going to a teacher immediately and how we should treat others like we would want them to treat us.

Then in middle school bullying takes a different form–in the halls, in the lunch room. More conniving, kids know when and were to bully without getting caught.

What is a parent to do?

I met repeatedly with the principal and teachers to confront it and taught my daughter different ways she could respond to being bullied.

Now in high school with the internet and social networking, bullying looks even more different–more aggressive and ruthless. Teens hide behind a screen and say things they never would say in person. Boys tend to use more physical bullying while girls often gang up on another and use exclusion as a bullying technique. Words cut, but spreading lies and gossiping punctures.

I recently read statistics that about 2.7 million students are being bullied each year, and in 2010 about 160,000 children missed school every day just out of fear of being bullied. Cyberbullying is relentless as it invades a person even in the safety of their own home through instant messages, email, text messages, and social networking sites. Cyberbullying ensures no where is safe.

Bullying doesn’t just happen in schools or on playgrounds. It’s all around us–even in churches and youth groups. Unfortunately no place seems to be exempt from bullying these days. Our children are bombarded at every corner.

What is a parent to do?

Parents may feel helpless in these situations, but we aren’t. Whether our child is being bullied at school, electronically, in youth group, or at church most importantly we need to let our child know we are there to listen and we are standing tall with them!

Depending on the age of a child, being our child’s advocate may look different the older they get. However, we can make sure our child knows we are willing to take a stand for them.

We need to pray for our child and ask God to give us wisdom to know how to approach the situation. We can also discuss with our child how they may respond in the future to such attacks.

Apart from all the discussion and teaching moments, we can make sure to encourage our children to surround themselves with those who love and support them, and those who are kind … even if that leaves just your immediate family. They are not alone!

As parents, we may not be able to stop bullies, but we can stand with our children when they fall victims to such attacks.

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Giving Hands

With the present state of our economy, the natural response for all is to make cutbacks. Understandable.  A family may cut back eating out as frequently or opt for closer-to-home vacations. But for some, cutbacks aren’t enough and they are left with little to nothing to provide even food for their families.

Recently, a Los Angeles news story came out about Food Bank donations being down, but the demand up. In these economic times, the amount of families in need only increases.

Last week, I contacted our local Food Bank to talk about their needs thinking we could volunteer our time. However, I discovered that is covered in the summer months by the volunteering youth groups. Cash wasn’t even the greatest need. They needed donations!

As we talked further, I was surprised to hear that pet products were one of the big areas of need right now. Why? Families that have little to feed themselves are left with no choice but to give away their pet because they can’t afford the necessary food to feed them. That touched my heart because we are huge animal lovers — especially my daughter. The thought of children having to give away their beloved animal because of this economy was awful.

So my daughter and I hopped in the car, headed to the store, loaded up on donations, and took them to the Food Bank warehouse. It was the greatest feeling knowing how many families we’d be helping and how many children would be thrilled to keep their pets.

Nearly every community has a Food Bank and I would venture to guess that all of them are in need this summer. I challenge everyone to call their local Food Bank and ask about their needs. Then take your children for a shopping trip for donations!

It’s just one way we can help those in need and teach our children the importance of giving to others.

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