Preparing for Christmas

All of us have additional responsibilities during the Christmas season. The month and a half before New Year’s is perhaps the busiest of our year. So many presents to shop for, wrap and send, so many parties and school programs to attend, even extra church services, not to mention the extra cooking and decorating.

How can we keep Christ the center of this season? It is easy to forget the small child in the Nativity scene. He is so quiet and peaceful while all around is a festive frenzy. When our children were in early elementary we were able to focus their attention on the coming of Christ by observing a simple advent celebration.

Many churches have no structured approach to the celebration of Christmas. But, some do still observe Advent. The four Sundays prior to Christmas make up the Advent Season. We assembled our own simple advent wreath out of pine from the yard and dollar store candles. Four white candles in a circle and a purple one in the center. Each Sunday we would read from our Bible prescribed verses found in an Advent book (ours came from Focus on the Family) but they are readily available online.

The first Sunday only one candle is lighted, then the second Sunday two are lit and so on. As each candle was illuminated the children were able to focus their excitement on the coming birth of the Promised Child rather than on a hoped for gift. It was a special season of our lives. Maybe we should bring that Advent wreath back this year – I need to focus on Christ – how about you?

Ellen Strohm

I Am Encouraged

We live in a sinful world. A world that could overwhelm us with discouragement if we let it.

Yesterday our first grade went to a local theater production called Seussical the Musical. It was sold as a blend of Dr. Seuss’ beloved classic stories formed into a cohesive story. While most of it was fun and very Dr. Seuss like, unfortunately it had a drunken scene, provocative dancers and a few characters inappropriately dressed. Hardly taken from Dr. Seuss books! There they were, performing for an audience full of early elementary aged children with scenes dealing with subjects children should not have to deal with.

One of our first grade teachers said a little girl in her class was talking about getting to stay up late to watch Desperate Housewives. Am I missing something here? OK, I admit, I have never seen Desperate Housewives. However, it is now on the Strohm household “ban” list. I am talking about the commercial ban list! We turn off the commercials for the show, never mind allow the producers to enter our living room with their program.

While this can discourage me, I am very, very encouraged by a generation of parents that God is raising up! A generation willing to stand up for what is right. Despite the cultural trends to allow more and more, they are holding back the ungodly influence for the sake of their children. No, this is not a generation of parents who are creating naive, foolish children. But rather a generation allowing their children to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

May I encourage you to be such a parent? “No” or “our family does not watch that” are ok to say to your children. Set the example with your own viewing habits and keep those Loving Limits!

Proverbs 22:6

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm, Jr.

Happy Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. Let your children know what you are thankful for!

Psalm 136

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm, Jr.

A Worthy Warning

My wife has a cousin who since age 12 has permanent brain trauma from sneaking off for a joy ride with his neighbor and his neighbor’s uncle. Unfortunately, the uncle was drunk. He rolled the car and the rest is history. My wife’s cousin presently lives in a Nursing Home where they can adequately take care of him.

It is not nagging when we make such tragedies know to our children (upper elementary and above). The devastation of drunkenness should be taught. Drunkenness’ “pathway” to sin found in the Scripture as well as the modern day tragic stories should be given as support for the clear warning Scripture offers.

Another tragic story:

Don’t Worry
by Angie Gratzl

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm, Jr.

Proverbs 23:20
Proverbs 23:31
Romans 13:13
Ephesians 5:18

Name Calling

When my children were young they would give each other a hard time by calling one another inappropriate names. While these “names” were more innocent when young, they increasingly became more and more inappropriate. Early on Ellen and I set up a routine that helped curb this inappropriate behavior. When we caught a child name-calling we made them stop, look the “victim” in the eye and ask for forgiveness. Then they had to say three things they liked about that sibling. We refined the “three things” rule to require three character qualities.

We are called to honor and respect one another. Name-calling goes to the heart of disrespect. I urge you to not accept this behavior in your children. Set a clear consequence and follow through! Remember, the way your child treats his or her sibling is the way he or she will treat others in society. This is worth the battle!

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm, Jr.

True Spiritual Renewal

Outward conformity to Christian standards is not the new birth. Our goal for our children is the regeneration of each child followed by growth in Christ. We want their hearts bound to the Word of God so that they will fulfill His will, indifferent to praise or criticism. This is why we pray, teach, work; plow, plant, water; and wait upon God.

The best spiritual teaching is a living demonstration. Our children will learn to do what parents and teachers do, not what they say. The example of our lives will count most. Our children will discern any difference between our talk and our walk. They can tell whether or not we are teaching them one standard while living by another

The root of exemplary Christian living is our personal relationship and fellowship with God, our own spiritual reality. Exemplary living will make God real to our children and will help them to understand the Scriptures. Although we live by faith, that faith is lively and our lives should give evidence of saving faith each day.

Dr. Roy Lowrie Jr., Your Child and the Christian School, 1967, National Association of Christian Schools

Philippians 3:17, 4:9
I Corinthians 11:1

Dr. Lowrie was Headmaster at Delaware County Christian School from 1952 to 1980 at which time he was appointed president of ACSI.

Even Children Are Tempted

James 1:14-15 states, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

I have been thinking about my recent post on “A New Strategy for Porn Websites”. This new information has really been grieving me. Let me explain. I recently reread this portion of my booklet Loving Limits.

“Perhaps one of the most devastating, common sin problems parents do not anticipate and prepare for are sexual sins at the point of sexual awakening of their children. For thousands of years, right on schedule, children begin puberty and enter the world of sexual arousal. Remember, the growth and development of our children is not the sin.

“We must recognize that he is now ready to be tempted, that he can be drawn away by his own desires and enticed by many new sins. If parents hold the view that because their child accepted Christ as Savior he no longer has to worry about new temptations, they unexpectedly allow their children to be exposed and tempted by very dangerous stimuli.

“If our children are exposed to materials and influences that God never intended for them to be exposed to, then we are setting them up for failure. When sexual arousal begins, they will be ill equipped to resist. In fact, most children have been exposed to so much, they actually think it is “normal” to sin. Clear, loving limits are desperately needed for a fallen society!”

In a recent edition of Time Magazine dealing with the typical 13 year old child, the research stated that at 13 parents will “finally” decide it is time to talk to their boys about masturbation. However, they are two years too late because research has shown that most boys begin masturbation at 11. The reason I bring this up is because too many parents wait too long to begin to protect their young boys. For some reason we think sexual arousal only arrives at 13, not 9, 10 or 11! By the time parents begin to hold boys accountable and take protective measures to keep them from pornography it is often too late!

OK, I really don’t want to grind this into the ground, but I cannot emphasize enough, please begin to protect boys early! If you have cable TV, figure out how to “lock” certain stations and shows with certain ratings. If you have internet access, read my recent post (A New Strategy For Porn Websites) and make sure you are taking “high tech” protective measures! By all means get software to block pornography. It is much better to take these steps now and wonder if you really needed to than to find out your son or daughter has been taken captive to a sin that is controlling their life!

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm, Jr.

You can download a free copy of Loving Limits at: Loving Limits Book

You can check out the internet Protection software I use at: BSafe Internet Protection Software

Sleep To Learn

According to research done in the mid 1990’s on sleep, while your body powers down your brain powers up. It reorganizes and “implants” what you learned during the day. Your body needs sleep for survival and for learning. Yet typical lifestyles of families and children are detrimental to good sleep.

So how much sleep is enough?
Infants should get 14-15 hours
Toddles should get 12-14 hours
Preschoolers should get 11-13 hours
School-aged children grades 1-5 should get 10-11 hours

A survey conducted in 2004 showed the averages for all ages coming up short on needed sleep.

So, how can we help our children get enough sleep? The top 4 sleep stealers in children are: TV, caffeine, too many activities and obesity.

Shockingly one survey showed that 43% of school-aged children (grades 1-5) have a television set in their bedroom. OK, get a grip here! Get the TV out of the bedroom. Secondly, limit the time spent on TV. No rule about the amount of TV usually means no restraint.

Caffeine is well documented to cause sleep problems in children. Sports drinks containing caffeine are now challenging the usual culprit – soda. Unfortunately, many parents do not understand the clear consequences of caffeine one of which is loss of sleep.

Today’s family is typically involved in a smorgasbord of activities. Often these activities do not allow for any “down” time. While the parents think they are offering their child loads of outlets for fun and enjoyment their child often ends up fatigued and tired. Oddly enough being overly tired is not good for sleep! Plus evening activities interrupt sleep patterns. Parents should have a plan of action on how many activities they will allow as well as what time slots any activities are allowed to fill.

Finally the fourth sleep stealer is obesity. Who would have thought that what we feed our children will cause difficulties in sleep? Teaching and training our children to eat right is important for immediate learning as well as long term learning.

Proverbs 3:24 “If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm, Jr.

Encouragement and Hope

As I write this second post only family and a few friends know of our parenting blog. Yet, Ellen and my hope is that this instrument will be used mightily of God as a source of encouragement and hope for parents.

Parents, your job is far more important than our society will ever acknowledge. The push for “more”, the desire for “success” all compete for the time and energy needed to fulfill the demanding job of parenting.

Yet I am encouraged! I believe God is raising up couples who are waving the “banner” of less stuff and more investment in their children. Couples who are making the tough decisions such as buying smaller homes, less flashy cars, staying out of debt thereby allowing their children benefits such as having parents home more or to be placed into Christian schools.

If you desire support in your job as parent you can subscribe to this blog and receive an encouraging and Biblical email each time the blog is updated. You can click on the link to the right or on this link: SUBCRIBE.

You can also participate by adding comments. Either Ellen or myself will respond when appropriate. In order to comment you will need to register (separate from subscribing for the e-mail) to the Loving Limits blog. This is a simple process. Down the right column you will see the Link Category (in bold) called META. Directly under that is a link to REGISTER. We welcome comments!

If you would rather not post a question in the comments field send questions directly to Ellen or my email. We will assume it is ok to post your questions with and answer – if it is not, please state that in your e-mail. Here are our email addresses:
mark@colossians2.com
ellen@colossians2.com

If you know of families who have questions or would appreciate encouragement and Biblical exhortations on parenting let them know of our blog. Our address is http://colossians2.com.

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark Strohm, Jr.