Spring Cleaning Sale!

Find Hope and Healing for the Rest of the Year

Spring Cleaning Sale!

Spring is HERE!

Instead of worrying about cleaning those dust bunnies,
do a little soul-cleaning instead.

In this HUGE bundle, you’ll get (for 50% off!)

Mad Church Disease: Healing from Church Burnout – Updated and Expanded Edition (Both paperback AND eBook – PDF, epub (Kindle), and .mobi (iPad, Nook))

Awarded the Outreach Magazine Vital Church Award, using anecdotal parallels between Mad Cow Disease and leadership trends in the church, Anne writes not only to help us realize what church leaders are facing, but also to provide practical and positive treatment plans. Mad Church Disease is a lively, informative, and potentially life-saving resource for anyone in ministry–vocational or volunteer–who would like to understand, prevent, or treat the epidemic of burnout in church.

Beating Burnout: A 30 Day Guide to Hope & Health: You get ALL FOUR types of books (paperback AND eBook -PDF, epub (Kindle), and .mobi (iPad, Nook)) PLUS a FREE audio book of all the devotionals!

This 30-day devotional will help you begin your day resting in the power of Christ. Starting our days focused on our relationship with God is essential to staying healthy in ministry. Each week focuses a day on rest, spiritual health, physical health, emotional health, relational health and prayer.

Usually $50.00
Now only $25.00 + S/H

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Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex

Real help for the Toughest Talks

five things parents need to know about kids and sex

Most parents dread talking about sex with their children. Anne Marie Miller loves giving “the talk.” As she has shared her personal story and talked about God’s gift of sex with almost half a million young people, she’s noticed some disturbing patterns:

  • Google is how kids learn about sex
  • Kids are learning about sex and viewing pornography earlier than parents think
  • The sexually abused often don’t tell anyone for fear of getting in trouble
  • Sexual messages are being consumed daily through mainstream and social media
  • Most parents think their child is the exception

In this immensely practical and well-researched book, Anne:

  • Equips parents to have meaningful and age-appropriate conversations with their children about sex, pornography, and sexual abuse.

  • Advises parents on how to keep the lines of communication open so that their children know they can trust them with their fears, struggles, and mistakes.

  • Offers hope to worried parents that their children can grow up with a healthy biblical view of sex as a gift from God.

Instead of sweeping this topic under the rug, Miller wants to change the narrative by…

Educating, Encouraging and Equipping Parents

In Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About their Kids and Sex, readers will discover

  • An easy-to-understand introduction to what the Bible says about the purpose of sex (hint: it’s awesome)
  • Anne Marie’s personal story of being a victim of sexual abuse in her teens, her compulsive pornography use, and how she found freedom from her shame and pain through her faith and her community.
  • What, when, and how to talk to kids at any age about sexuality, researched and reviewed by professionals in medicine, child development and psychology.
  • How the media plays a role in how we develop our sexual worldview (and how to talk about it).
  • That pornography is being accessed and shared by children in elementary schools, how it affects our brains, and viewing pornography creates a need in the supply-and-demand chain linked to sex trafficking.
  • How to watch for symptoms that your child may be sexually abused and how to discuss this tender topic with children of all ages.

There is hope! For adults, for children, and for generations to come. It’s time to redeem the conversation!

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Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About: Snapchat

Week 3: Snapchat

We’re in our third week of the series Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About and this week, we’ll cover a familiar app – Snapchat. (To read previous weeks, click here.)

Today’s app: Snapchat

Snapchat, like our previous reviews, is rated 12+ for the same reasons as the others (noticing a theme here?) for a variety of “Infrequent/Mild,” (emphasis mine) sex and suggestive themes.

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Snapchat’s Purpose (according to their Community Guidelines – emphasis theirs)

Snapchat is about sharing moments and having fun. Our goal in creating these rules is to accommodate the broadest range of self expression while balancing the need for Snapchatters to be able to use our service safely and enjoyably.

And Snapchat lays out the basic rules:

Don’t send people Snaps they don’t want to receive—especially if the Snap is mean.

Be thoughtful about what you Snap and whom you send it to. It’s okay with us if someone takes a screenshot, but we can’t speak for you or your friends. Snapchat attempts to detect screenshots and notify the sender, but it doesn’t always work perfectly – and your friend can always capture the image with a camera.

Keep it legal. Don’t use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you’re under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: keep your clothes on!

What not to Snap:

  • Pornography

  • Nudity or sexually suggestive content involving minors (people under the age of 18)

  • Minors engaged in activities that are physically dangerous and harmful

  • Invasions of privacy

  • Threats

  • Harassment or bullying

  • Impersonation

  • Self-harm

Privacy: Snapchat’s user interface allows you to set privacy preferences as far as who sees your snaps (a picture or video that is sent privately or posted to someone’s “Story,” which is similar to a Facebook feed), whose snaps you see, and allows you to block users. There are ads (and sometimes, they aren’t meant for a 12-year old audience…more on that later) and also note that there are options to clear chats and browser data–a place someone can erase their history from being seen.

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The Good: Like most social media, teens and younger adults first started using the app long before their parents. Eventually, either through curiosity or desire, more and more parents and older adults are signing up for accounts. I won’t lie–I first signed up as an alternative way of communicating with and keeping tabs on some of the teens in our youth group, but now that friends my age are on it, I’m enjoying watching snaps of new babies, mothers at hockey games, and adults trying to be funny (myself included). We’ve used it in our youth group as a way of telling students about upcoming events or information (and we can see when/if they watch it). So, Snapchat can be a great alternative to texting.

The Bad: The misnomer about Snapchat is that once a snap is gone, it’s gone for good. However, Snapchat makes clear in their Terms of Service that at any time, they can store or use any picture or video. In addition to that, the receiver of a snap can also save a copy of the picture or a screen grab of the video and shows you (most of the time–they admit they’re not flawless) when someone has taken a screen shot of something you posted. And sometimes, kids post dumb stuff…like their phone numbers, or videos of their friends snorting sugar but it looks like cocaine if you didn’t know, or just…dumb stuff..Publicly (these are all screen grabs I took a few weeks ago while planning this series and only included students in different youth groups I know, and nobody seems to mind…)

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A simple web search will show you plenty of horror stories of kids (and parents) that have been bullied, hurt themselves, hurt others, or committed suicide after misusing Snapchat.

Advertising that is NOT Kid-Friendly: As mentioned earlier, there are ads for various events and websites. Some ads are hidden in live events (the Iowa Caucus was a good example–lots of live scenes of people showing up to vote intermingled with candidate ads) where as some advertising comes in the form of “Channels” and are updated daily by media brands we’re used to seeing (magazines, cable channels, and the like–see below. These are a few I just captured today). Remember, no matter what privacy settings you have enabled or what age you select, these ads are shown to everyone.

snapchats2

 


What you need to know: 

We’ve talked about how most parents restrict app download for teens to the 12+ and under rating. This gives us a false sense of security.

Last week, a woman named Alyssa commented on the Apps article on Musical.ly:

I feel like I’m pretty careful with my kids and their devices, but a few days ago, I let my ten-year-old daughter convince me to let her download Musical.ly on our iPad because several of her friends (who are also good kids with strict-ish parents) have it. She spent a little time on it and found her friends to follow, but hadn’t posted anything, and then didn’t look at it again all weekend.

This morning I read your email/blog and couldn’t believe the timing. My first instinct was to go delete the app before she woke up, but your sentence about not stealing their phones and deleting apps and having a conversation instead really stood out. So while she was eating breakfast, I mentioned the app and how I read that it’s really not for kids and you’re supposed to be at least 12 (which I am kicking myself for not even noticing that part, let alone the 18+), and right away she said, “Yeah, let’s delete it. I think there’s some stuff on there I shouldn’t see anyway.”

I think she must have already had some guilt about it and we had a good little chat about apps and life. Later, I went into the settings before deleting, and she did have it set as public! Ah!

So anyway, instead of beating myself up about this total mommy fail, I wanted to take the time to say THANK YOU for this wake up call and reminder to not get lax about all this stuff. You probably saved my daughter from some things she didn’t need to see and/or hear, and helped me remember to be more in tune with what’s happening on those screens.

Snapchat is not evil. And maybe it’s okay for your kids to have it–that’s up to you and your kids to decide. So instead of locking their phones away, deleting every app, use this opportunity to talk to your kids about how they engage with Snapchat. Ask some questions.

  • Have you heard about Snapchat? Have you ever used it? If you have, what have you seen?
  • Are there any kids in your school who have had rumors spread about them because of something that was shared because of Snapchat or social media?
  • Do you think Snaps ever totally disappear?
  • What are the benefits of using Snapchat? What are the risks?

Sign up here to get the Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About post in your inbox every Monday.

Learn more about the book Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex.

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex


The Miracle of Patience: A Letter to Our First Child

Virgin Mary Consoles Eve by Sister Grace Remington

Virgin Mary Consoles Eve by Sister Grace Remington

Dearest One,

Your conception was a miracle. Ten months after our first miscarriage, six months after our second, and one week after I was simultaneously searching for a surgeon to perform a radical hysterectomy while being prayed over by friends and strangers because of a debilitating condition that affected my fertility, you were conceived.

It shouldn’t have even happened then. I ovulated a week early from an ovary that had no fallopian tube connecting it to my womb. But somehow, in some way, the other tube found you floating around, swept you up, and planted you into my innermost part.

Five weeks later, I was so tired, exhausted by an unmistakable fatigue I have only experienced twice in my life–once ten months before and once four months after that. Could it be? Could I be?

My cycle was a week late, so the next time I was at the market, I picked up a box of two tests. It was on sale and cheaper than the single. I followed the instructions. Waited two minutes. Only one line appeared. I wasn’t pregnant.

The tiredness continued throughout the week, but I chalked it up to Thanksgiving festivities and the new cold weather and grey skies. I woke up on Black Friday with the sun, and made my way to the guest bath, as not to disturb my sleeping husband (or the two dogs, who would start howling for the breakfast).

In a basket next to the sink, I saw the second test. Would five days make a difference? I gave in to the white, plastic temptation. Followed the instructions. Waited two minutes.

Two. Lines.

Immediately, two bold lines.

Just five days beforehand, I told Tim that I wasn’t pregnant, and our lives went on as normal. But now?

I went back into the bedroom and quietly sat by him with the test. I showed him. We held each other, dogs vying for our attention, unaware of the angels who were undoubtedly rejoicing with us.

A blood test and ultrasound first showed you–well, the small, almond-sized sac you were living in. We couldn’t see you just yet. A few weeks went by, and we first saw your plump head and your flickering heartbeat.

Now, here we are a third of the way in our journey to meeting you. I wish I could say the miracle of you was enough to remind me to be joyful and grateful at all times (as it should be), but I have not been the perfect carrier of life. I’ve been angry when I’m sick, or tired, or in pain. I’ve been upset at the way all the changing hormones in my body cause strange things to happen. Now that my old pants don’t fit and my body is slowly growing into something I don’t recognize, it’s been hard for my broken mind to adjust.

It’s almost like you know when I need a reminder. Just the other night after poking on my unfamiliar rounding belly, you leapt in my womb. It was such a strange and lovely feeling; a feeling I know will become normal over time. And soon, you’ll enter the world, and you will yawn and cry and pee and poop and spit up all over everything. And you will wrap your tiny fingers around one of mine or one of Tim’s. And you’ll change before our eyes and we won’t be able to remember every headache, cramp, or sleepless night.

Your presence is teaching me a patience far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. In a world where I can get almost anything I need or want almost instantly, nine months seems like a terribly long time to wait for something. At times, it seems like July is an eternity away. But with each slow moment that passes, my mind is as equally slow to change to cherish every moment with you now–every non-repeated, hard, holy moment. It is a rhythm of grace I am happy to relinquish my fast, predictable pace to.

As a Christian for almost 36 years, I’ve been well versed in the miracle of the birth of Jesus. How a small, humble baby came to change the world; how he came to change me.

Sweet child, you are a miracle to me. You are changing me, silently now. As your fingernails form and your legs lengthen, my heart is reforming and my hope lengthens.

Sweet child, yes, I can’t wait to meet you. But I’m perfectly thankful for where you are now.

 

Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About

Week 2: Musical.ly

Last week, I started the weekly series Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About with some information about the Buzzfeed app. (Click on over if you missed it!)

Today’s app: Musical.ly (similar app: Dubsmash)

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Another rated 12+ app on the books today. I discovered Musical.ly because some of the youth group kids I follow post videos from it and I’ve heard their moms talk about it, too.

MY BRAIN: THIS MUST BE POPULAR. LET’S DOWNLOAD IT FOR RESEARCH.

MY HEART AFTER EXPLORING FOR HALF AN HOUR: THESE. LITTLE. GIRLS.

Musical.ly’s Purpose:

According to musical.ly’s website, “musical.ly is a video community that allows you to create, share, and discover short videos.”

App Age Rating:

The Musical.ly app, rated 12+ in various app stores, for a variety of “Infrequent/Mild,” sex or mature suggestive themes, crude humor, alcohol/drug references and violence. However, in the Terms of Service (TOS), it says,

“THE SERVICE IS NOT FOR PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 13 OR FOR ANY USERS PREVIOUSLY SUSPENDED OR REMOVED FROM THE SERVICE BY MUSICAL.LY.IF YOU ARE UNDER 13 YEARS OF AGE, YOU MUST NOT USE OR ACCESS THE SERVICE AT ANY TIME OR IN ANY MANNER. Furthermore, by using the Service, you affirm that you are at least 18 years of age.”

Don’t worry. It’s not a typo. You are reading this correctly. Somehow, in some magical world, you will equally be ages 13 and 18 at the same time and when this phenomenon occurs, you can use Musical.ly. Just like BuzzFeed, the TOS warrants a user has to be 18 or older to access the site, however there is no verification process for either the website or the app, and the app is not rated 17+ (as there is no 18+ or adult classification in the Apple App Store. Other app stores do have 18+/adult classifications). And as you’ll see as we continue, I’d reckon most of the users are under the age of 18.

musical.ly-app-TOS-screen

What You Need to Know:

While there isn’t much explicit content (at least at first glance), it’s easy to see that pre-teen girls have taken over this app like a sale on Hello Kitty pajamas at the store Justice. Sure, there are guys and people in their 20s (I really didn’t see anyone over the age of 25), but mostly? I’m seeing girls 16 years old and younger. Here are some screen grabs I took.

 

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Musical.ly App Home Screen

And yes, while there is nothing inherently wrong with tweens singing 15-second soundbites of popular songs or quoting popular movies, or posting up their own movies…(wait), if me, a non-creepy almost-36-year-old-sexuality-researching-author can mostly anonymously create an account and access these videos, who else can?

(Pauses to let you answer).

If that’s not concerning enough, let me share with you the most disturbing part of this app.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE VIDEOS AND NOBODY HAS TO KNOW.

Sure, there are privacy settings (see below)…

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Privacy Settings

…but the amount of public, open accounts is VAST. As you can see, you can also share them with anyone you’d like).

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Sharing Screen

 

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Share as a link or a video file

 

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Two clicks and you just sent a video of an unknown underage girl to a friend while a copy is downloaded on your phone.


Now, before the “I can’t believe you posted videos of strange, underage girls!” emails/comments, note that these videos were already shared MANY times on Twitter and on other social media outlets. These girls didn’t have any privacy set up, so their videos were able to be shared and downloaded by anybody. To protect who/where they are, the videos are saved on my private Dropbox and I don’t have them linked to their actual Musical.ly profiles.

musical.ly.video.2 musical.ly.video.1


The Good:

musical.ly is Rated Ages 12+ which, if parents have downloads restricted to this age group, will prevent younger children from viewing the material. Musical.ly can be a fun way to connect over popular songs and movies. It can be silly and in some ways, a great way to explore creative composition with photography and videography. Because the content is user-generated, there’s always something new to watch.

The Bad:

As with BuzzFeed, many parents restrict app download for teens to the 12+ rating. But even as musical.ly’s TOS states, nobody under the age of 18 should be using it. And anyone with the app (12 years +) can access the material (and share it) easily. We all know how society, and social media, lend to a “make your own fame” culture. Teen girls are especially susceptible to looking for attention online. (Really. It’s been studied. I’m not generalizing.)

Musical.ly Conversation Starters:

Do you know if your kids (especially teens) or their friends have the Musical.ly app? Check it out for yourself if you’d like to know more and plan to talk to your kids about it today.

  • Have you ever heard of Musical.ly? Tell me about it.
  • Do you have any friends who are obsessed with being famous on social media?
  • What’s good about Musical.ly?
  • What’s bad about Musical.ly?
  • How do you feel when you get a lot of likes (or no likes) on something you put on social media? Why?

Remember, it’s not about freaking out or sheltering our kids forever. It’s about redeeming the conversation.


Sign up here to get the Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About post in your inbox every Monday.

Learn more about the book Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex.

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex