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Posts Tagged ‘mentoring’

What about our children and grandchildren?

Is there hope?  Yes!

It makes no difference if we’re talking about music, the Christian faith, etiquette, speech, or clothing.  We teach our children best by equipping them to contrast what is good and right with what is not.

In his new book, Surprised by Beauty: A Listener’s Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music, Robert Reilly writes:

“I employed a very simple teaching method with my children.  I regularly showed them beautiful things and great movies and played for them some of the finest music.  I didn’t preach about these things; I simply let them experience them.  They gained an intuitive appreciation for beauty and were automatically repelled by ugliness.  I then let them explain to me what was wrong with it.  When my oldest son was still in grade school, he came back from seeing a movie with one of his classmates.  The father driving the car played only acid rock on the car radio.  My son returned very agitated about the music.  I asked him what was wrong with it.  He replied, “It is irritating to the mind.”  I then knew that what I was doing worked.”

Quote from an interview with Robert Reilly
by Michael Cook, MercatorNet, 5/26/17.

 

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One of our grandchildren recently stayed with us for the first time alone without his parents or siblings.  As I was packing his bag for the return to his own home, this three-year-old looked at me and said, “I want to stay.”  Those are words that warm a grandmother’s heart.

But why did he want to stay?  Was it because everything he did was fun?  Was it because he received my complete and undivided attention?

And why, after he left, did I wander through the house in such a melancholy mood?    

I began to question myself as a grandmother.  Had I given my grandson enough of my attention?  Did I play with him enough?  Did I do all the things he wanted to do?

No, I had not.  In struggling with this, my thoughts were turned to my own childhood and memories of overnight stays with my grandparents.  What do I remember most about those visits?  Why were they so special?  Did my grandmothers sit down and read to me every time I asked?  Did they get on the floor with me to play games?  Did they take me to the park or give me ice cream when I asked?  No.  Those things are not etched in my memory. 

When staying a week with my grandfather and grandmother who lived in another town, I often entertained myself.  I created my own “house,” prepared meals in my own “kitchen,” took care of my baby dolls, played dress-up; in other words, I did all the things I watched my grandmother doing.  I wasn’t getting all her attention, but I was in her presence.  I was near enough to hear her, watch her, imitate her.  I remember going with her to the garden where she picked the lettuce for the salad she made for my lunch.  She was working, and I was in her presence… either attempting to pick leaves of lettuce, too, or content that she was caring for my needs while I ran around the yard chasing butterflies.  

I spent even more time with the grandparents who lived only a mile from me.  I do not remember my grandma sitting down to play with me or taking me to the park.  What I remember is how she talked with me while she baked bread or cookies and how she invited me to help by asking me to set the table.  I listened to her speak with kindness as I watched her labor with her hands.  I remember that she was never idle.  When she wasn’t attending to the affairs of her household, she was volunteering at church, singing in the choir, or nurturing relationships by opening her home to family and friends.  At the end of a long day, my grandma settled into her chair and took up her crocheting.  She was making someone a birthday present or perhaps a blanket for a new baby.  Grandma wasn’t ignoring me.  She was mentoring me.  She was welcoming me into her life and teaching me how to do the things she did, most of them for others.

In my grandma’s presence, I felt respected and somehow older than I really was.  I knew she cared enough to have me in her home and help me discern right from wrong.  Whether I was in the same room with her or in another room pretending to be a grown up like her, I was blessed being in her presence.  In this way, my grandma was focused on me.  She was preparing me to be an adult. 

These memories are a great comfort as I think about my grandson’s visit.  I remember him swiffing the floor while I prepared dinner, planting a pretend field of corn with his John Deere tractor while I finished writing a letter to a friend, and building a fort while I organized last minute details for a community “Life Fair.”  I wasn’t on the floor with him, but we shared a companionship in our “work.”  These activities of our day made into good bedtime stories before praying that God would give us restful sleep and the promise of new morning.

Why was I in a melancholy mood after my grandson’s departure?  The house was empty of his presence.

And when my grandson said, “I want to stay,” I think he was telling me that being in my presence mattered to him, too.

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family praying at tableAnne Fishel is a family therapist. She writes, “I often have the impulse to tell families to go home and have dinner together rather than spending an hour with me.”

Twenty years of research in North America, Europe and Australia, observes Fishel, support the practice of family mealtime. “It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit.”

I am a staunch advocate of family mealtime. The dinner table nurtured trust between my parents, grandparents, and me. My mother and grandmother fed my body, but it was their invitation to engage in discussions about life that stimulated my mind and nourished my soul.

“Dinnertime conversation,” writes Fishel, “boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to.” There is also, Fishel notes, “a consistent association between family dinner frequency and teen academic performance.” Older children reap “intellectual benefits from family dinners . . . regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.”

The family table, notes Fishel, tends to provide healthier food, but also a healthier atmosphere. However, she cautions, “all bets are off if the TV is on during dinner.”

Regular family dinners are linked, Fishel says, “with lowering a host of high risk teenage behaviors parents fear: smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity.” A study of more than 5,000 Minnesota teens concluded that “regular family dinners were associated with lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts.”

There is more. Fishel has reason to believe that kids who have been “victims of cyberbullying” bounce back more readily if they have the benefit of family meals. I have no doubt that being in communication with my mom and dad at our family’s dinner table helped steer me away from some high-risk teen behavior.

A New Zealand study, writes Fishel, reveals that “a higher frequency of family meals was strongly associated with positive moods in adolescents.” Evidence also indicates “that teens who dine regularly with their families also have a more positive view of the future, compared to their peers who don’t eat with parents.”

Children don’t grow up working beside their parents today. They don’t farm, construct a house, bake, or quilt together. So, as Fishel observes, the family dinner table remains the most reliable way for parents and children to connect.

“Kids who eat dinner with their parents,” says Fishel, “experience less stress and have a better relationship with them. This daily mealtime connection is like a seat belt for traveling the potholed road of childhood and adolescence and all its possible risky behaviors.”

Just gathering at a common dinner table isn’t enough. It’s what happens at that table. Silence between parents or using the time to scold children won’t, as Fishel notes, “confer positive benefits. Sharing a roast chicken won’t magically transform parent-child relationships.”

My own experience at the dinner table with my parents helped me learn when to speak and when to listen. I was encouraged to ask questions, share ideas, and practice kindness. This nourishing of body, mind, and soul was an experience I wanted to repeat with my children and grandchildren. What a privilege to hear what children are thinking, learn what is going on in their life, engage them in dialogue, mentor, and encourage.

It is small moments like these, concludes Fishel, that “can gain momentum to create stronger connections away from the table.”

Quotes from Anne Fishel are excerpted from her article
“Science says: eat with your kids” – Mercatornet.com 1-14-15
Anne Fishel is the author of Home For Dinner and
Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
(photo image: Pinterest.com)

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modest dressWelcome back!  Are you ready to…

#4 — Mentor a Changed Attitude

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Reflect Christ, not self.  It is natural to default to self.  We too easily focus on our needs and defend our behaviors.  But it’s not about me!  It’s about God our Creator and Redeemer!  It’s not about first loving “me”; it’s about first loving God.  Loving God first means that we will more easily love and serve others in His name and with His forgiveness, mercy and kindness.  God created the first man and woman in His image.  We have fallen from that perfect image, but because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit to reflect more of God and less of self.  In what ways can we point people to God and less to ourselves?  How does a woman who professes to worship God speak?  Dress?  Treat others?  What kind of choices does she make?  What does it mean to be free of the life that we thought would make us happy and to, instead, live life in a way that leads others to Christ?

Be a Vessel for Honorable Use.  God’s Word tells us, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).  What is our house?  Who is the “master of the house”?  What is our “good work”?   What more do we learn about ourselves in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?   What a difference it makes when we see ourselves as God sees us!  Recognizing that our Baptism makes us daughters of God through Christ, we can “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” (2:22).

Practice a Changed Attitude.  On brightly colored sticky notes, write: “It’s not about me”.  Place this reminder on a mirror, in a wallet, by the sink, on the refrigerator, in the car, and inside the cover of a well-worn Bible.  Jesus promised that He would send “another Helper” (John 14:16).  That “Helper”, the Holy Spirit, “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (14:26).  That “Helper” is “the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.  And you also will bear witness” (15:26-27).  When we believe that Jesus is Truth, how will our attitude and witness change?

Adjust Focus.  Instead of fantasizing through the pages of romance novels (which, if played out in real life, should make us blush) or searching for our inner selves through “spiritual masters”, we can find our true identity and rightful behavior in Jesus Christ.  Rather than being tempted by the ideas of others or our own passions, we can turn our eyes away from “irreverent, silly myths” and, instead, “train [ourselves] for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).  Training in godliness begins at the foot of the Cross where, at the beginning and end of every day, we can leave our baggage of sin, disappointments, and wrong perspective.  There, at the Cross, we can focus on Jesus who says, “I am the Way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Live a Holy, Not Sexy Life.  God calls us to be holy (1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:14-16).  We can mentor others away from the self-focus of sensual dress by explaining our responsibility to help men avoid temptation.  A suggested Bible study for girls ages 13 and up is Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up (#LFLDFL) available from CPH.

Resist the Idolatry of Self-Worship.  Analyze words and phrases such as “self-worth”, “self-promotion”, “celebration of self”, and “self-esteem”.  In the last days, writes St. Paul to Timothy, people will be lovers of self (2 Timothy 3:2).  Spend a day with an “older” Christian woman whose life appears self-less.  Ask: Is it necessary to preserve self?  From where do we get our worth?  Is there benefit in promoting self?  Is there any reason to celebrate self?  What do we learn from Christ?  To “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” and to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” and to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).

Rebel Against the Culture.    Help a younger generation turn from “me” to others.  Gather a small group of women together for an “It’s Not About Me” night.  Forget the pedicures and pampering.  Instead, discuss what women can do to bring out the best in men by way of dress, speech and behavior.  List the ways that women can help one another practice biblical womanhood and not be shamed in doing so.  Design postcards that proclaim “It’s Not About Me” with 2 Corinthians 4:5 printed on each card.  Finish off with stamping, calligraphy or artwork. Be of service through accountability by sending the cards to one another throughout the year.

What’s Next?  #5: Mentor Self-Control

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats.

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thinking womanLet’s continue with opportunity #3 —

#3 — MENTOR BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD

A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30b).

Fear and Love the Lord.  Martin Luther begins each of the meanings for the Ten Commandments with: “We should fear and love God . . . .”  In a sinful world, “fear” and “love” hardly seem to fit together.  But the Heavenly Father can be both feared (for His justice) and loved (for His mercy).  How does this give freedom to modern women?

Reject the Deception of the World.  The Christian woman is often reminded of the Proverbs 31 woman.  But do we know why she was praised?  Church Father St. Bernard of Clairvaux draws us away from the idea that this woman was praised for her spectacular work.  He wrote, “You have been able to reject the deceitful glory of the world . . . you deserve to be praised for not being deceived.” (The Lutheran Study Bible ESV, Commentary on Proverbs 31:30-31, page 1047.)  How was the first woman, Eve, deceived?  Why did Satan approach her rather than the man?  What is the deceitful glory of the world?  How do we resist it?  How do we help others resist it?

Discern Personal Mentors.  Whose counsel and advice do we seek?  Do we surround ourselves with women in the same situation and circumstance as our own or do we glean wisdom from “older” women who have matured in the face of challenge?  What kind of reading material is on our coffee table or by our bedside?  Have we been influenced by human opinions and fickle emotion… or the Word of the Lord who calls Himself “the Alpha and Omega”?

Resist the Temptation to Divide Generations.  Bring older and younger women together in Titus 2-style groups.  Suggested resources include Titus 2 for Life, Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up (a ten-lesson reproducible Bible study on modesty and clothing available from CPH [#LFLDFL]), Men, Women and Relationships: Building a Culture of Life Across Generations (a 12-lesson Bible study with leader’s guide from CPH [#LFL901BS]), The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre, and Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  We can encourage and be encouraged by building relationships across generations.

Take Care Not to Burn Bridges.  Sometimes, the relationship of two women can suffer because of a difference in thought or behavior.  Even so, the Holy Spirit may keep that person close to the heart.  Perhaps we will be nudged to send a simple “thinking of you” card or a gift on her birthday.  We do well in not resisting opportunities to reach out.  For example, years after a Christian woman had an abortion followed by a divorce, she wrote her friend, “Thank you for keeping the communication open and not burning any bridges.  You have not abandoned me.”  That friendship was restored in greater measure.  How do such invaluable lessons encourage others?

Send a card.  This may be the age of e-mail, texting and Facebook, but none of these replace a personal phone call, handwritten note or card.  We all like to be remembered, don’t we?  It is not uncommon to send a card and then have the recipient, sometime later, ask, “How did you know that I needed encouragement that day?”  If we can’t find the right message or can’t afford a pricey card, we can write a favorite Bible passage on a note and tuck it in an envelope with a tea bag or pre-packaged coffee pouch.

Start a Mother’s Group.  Include “older” and “younger” moms.  In a mobile society, young moms are often miles away from their mothers and grandmothers.  They are in need of older women who can mentor self-control, purity, homemaking, kindness, and why submission to husbands is obedience to God (Titus 2:5).  Offer opportunity to learn from faithful biblical practice in the home, but also mistakes made and lessons learned.  Experienced moms can point to the discipline of God’s Law and offer the forgiveness and life-changing hope of the Gospel.  Even in a changed culture, God’s Word for women provides all we need to persevere in the vocation of motherhood.   Can you count the ways that godly motherhood influences children and impacts society?

What’s Next?  #4: Mentor a Changed Attitude

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats

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women & health careGod created woman to be a helper (Hebrew: ezer).  God knew man would not be complete without woman to help him remember and trust God’s Word, be a good steward of all that God has made, and build a culture of life.

In a fallen world, however, woman is challenged by Satan, sin and her own doubting nature.  But there is hope in Jesus Christ!  And, because of Jesus Christ, there are countless opportunities for each ezerwoman to make a positive difference in her home, church and community.  Where can ezerwoman begin?  By making use of a resource I call Ezer’s Handbook.  Let’s begin with opportunity #1 —

#1 — MENTOR FROM A HOUSE BUILT ON FIRM FOUNDATION

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down (Proverbs 14:1).

Build on The Word.  The Word is Wisdom.  It is unchanging Truth.  The Word provides everything a man or woman needs for living in today’s world, meeting today’s challenges, and mentoring generations.  Paraphrased Bibles are fine for personal reading, but don’t count on them for accuracy.  Highly recommended is The Lutheran Study Bible (ESV).  The commentaries offer historical and archeological evidence as well as Greek and Hebrew origins of words.

Prepare for the Battle of Worldviews on Sex and Sexuality.  Begin with the Bible study Men, Women and Relationships: Building a Culture of Life Across Generations.  This twelve-lesson study is appropriate for men and women who are single or married.  Although the world tells us that men and women are the same, no different from one another and both just “sexual beings from birth”, God tells us we are far more than that.  (This Bible study with leader’s guide may be ordered from Concordia Publishing House #LFL901BS or by calling 888-364-LIFE.)

Be Equipped with Resources.  Married or single, a woman has a sphere of influence that leads others to–or away from–God.  How are you mentoring biblical womanhood in your home?  From your office?  At school?  In the your church and community?  You will find resources for mentoring biblical womanhood at Titus 2 for Life and The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Be Careful Who You Let Shape Your Worldview.  Ideas of sex, sexuality, love, relationships, marriage, motherhood, morality, clothing, behavior and life in general are mentored in one way or another by every newspaper, magazine, website, TV commercial or self-help book.  As a follower of Christ, it is our responsibility to be discerning.  WORLD and CITIZEN are publications that offer a biblical perspective in contrast to Newsweek and Time.  Websites with current information offered from a biblical worldview rather than humanist perspective include Parental Rights, Answers In Genesis, LifeNews, the Family Research Council, MercatorNet, and Concerned Women for America.

Use Spiritual Discernment.  A Titus 2 mentor reaches out with the Truth of God, both Law and Gospel.  We are called, however, to be discerning in the proper use of each.  The woman who doesn’t recognize her sin is in need of the Law, but the woman who has been convicted of her sin longs for the Gospel (Psalm 32:3-5).  A suggested book that will help you better distinguish Law and Gospel — as well as the time and place for both — is Handling the Word of Truth by John T. Pless.

Mentor, Don’t Preach.  The woman who builds her house on firm foundation must be prepared for “hot button” issues that stir memories and emotions.  In our circle of relationships are women who have been mentored by someone with a humanist or feminist perspective.  Among us are women who have been wounded by a past abortion, divorce, or physical or mental abuse.  Jesus never compromised the truth nor did He break an already bruised reed.  May we, too, speak truth with a gentle love for souls.  One very effective way to mentor without preaching is story-telling.  No one can deny the lessons learned from a person’s real-life experience.

What’s next?  #2: Mentor Confidence in the Created Order.

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed
by Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats.

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two women talkingAnother Titus 2 for Life Retreat has concluded.  I am tired, but encouraged.  In a culture such as ours, the need for mentoring grows daily.  This was affirmed most especially this past weekend by the younger women who attended.   Perhaps it will be helpful to share a few quotes from their evaluations.

  • I wasn’t sure what to expect . . . considering the topics, I thought it might all be too judgmental . . . but it was not.  You see, I spent my childhood and good part of my young adult life wishing I was a boy because no one had ever pointed out the joy and biblical blessing of being a woman.
  • I will be getting married soon and this was a great springboard and encouragement for helping me understand my role in our new family.
  • It’s o.k. to be a woman!  This retreat really laid to rest a lot of the horrible post-modern and feminist myths that were always a part of my life but were causing such pain and discontent.  Thank you for being such a real person and addressing the foolish women in all of us with forgiveness.
  • As I approach motherhood, I wanted to attend this retreat again . . . I love how you share with us God’s purpose and esteem for women and womanly traits . . . there is no indignity in God’s design of the woman as ‘helper’ . . . it helps to remember that Christ was submissive and that the Holy Spirit is a helper.
  • Many of my friends are unhappy, kind of restless and certainly discontent.  They hear so many voices of the world which seem in conflict with their own heart.  This retreat was like ten years of godly mentoring in just a few hours!
  • I was afraid this retreat might be hours of anti-abortion rhetoric.   Instead, it affirmed my value to God, reminded me that my Christian upbringing is not a lie, and why my faith makes me so weird to the world . . . I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that God made women not to compete with men but complete them.  I’m very competitive . . . high school girls need to know about biblical womanhood.
  • The discussion on sex education and our mistaken identity was so important . . . I have had abstinence education for years but, no different from the culture, it was a constant focus on sex.

And what do I say to these young women?

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

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