Did Christ Influence Our Nation’s Founding?

The Thanksgiving special at CBN News highlights several stories from the Pilgrims to our Nation’s Founding in Philadelphia and more.

I think this is a great 23 minute program to watch and talk about with your elementary to young high school student. Continue reading Did Christ Influence Our Nation’s Founding?

Thanks Veterans!

A shout out to all the veterans and a prayer for all active military families.

Ellen and my prayer for those presently serving: Continue reading Thanks Veterans!

Why They Won’t Listen

Leon and Legend (Not their real names.)

Last week I enjoyed helping Delaware County Christian School (DCCS.org) with their LOVE, American Experience camp for 30 Chinese middle school students. My wife and I hosted 3 girls and I was with the group for 3 and a half days taking pictures. In that time many of the kids in this group touched my heart.

I had an incident with two boys. One was 13 year old Leon, a pleasant, heavyset child. He seemed to be misplaced. Not being mature enough to hang out with the older boys who were more his size he hung out with the younger boys and stuck out physically. One of those younger boys was 12 year old Legend, tall, very thin and athletically gifted. Continue reading Why They Won’t Listen

Shout Out To Moms

A short, moving video honoring Moms. Thanks Moms!!

Is Mothering Toddlers a Temporary “Step Down?”

This first appeared many years ago. I thought it would be good to re-run this as its message is so important.

When our children were very young, my wife would sometimes look deep into my eyes and say “I think I am losing it!  I need to speak to adults and remember how to hold a normal adult conversation.”

No wonder she would question her sanity.  She was in hand to hand combat all day with two toddlers and an infant.  Just a few short years before she was working in operating rooms.  Compared to her present day to day tasks her previous job seemed to be far more important.  As a requested surgical technologist she was highly regarded by the doctors.  Her ability to learn quickly, anticipate and discern individual doctor’s needs earned their respect and appreciation.  But now she found herself “oohing” and “aahing” at pictures no one could decipher, praising a little human being for doing his “duty” in the potty and submitting to the demands of the feeding schedule of the baby.  “What happened?” she would ask herself, “how did I fall so far?”

Moms, I know that when you compare your career with that of your daily mothering duties it seems like a demotion.  Perhaps you were an educator, or in the service industry, in the corporate sector or some other segment of society highly respected and accomplished.  Many of you are college educated and before children you thought picking up cheerios and wiping snot off of walls was beneath you.  The present nature of many of your “mom” duties may lead you to believe you have been demoted.  But nothing can be further from the truth.

DSC_1730Though it may not be apparent to the casual observer, motherhood is far more important than any other job you could ever do!  The daily grind of tending the shrubs and flowers may cause a gardener to lose perspective and forget about the beauty of the garden.  So moms can lose heart from time to time.  Consider your tasks from a greater perspective.  That little one was made in the image of God.  He or she has a vast potential to be a great instrument in the hands of our Lord.  You have been chosen to pour out your love, to shape and mold this little one’s mind and heart!  Through the power of the Holy Spirit your daily example, your words, your actions, where you give praise, how you respond all come together to teach and train and bring your child closer to Christ and His ways.  You have the joy and privilege to introduce your little one to the wonders and joys of Christ and the world He had given us, to teach him or her how to love and respect Christ and His world and others.

No, you have not “fallen” from an important position, you have not digressed in your career. The truth – you have temporarily been elevated to an even higher calling.

I pray God’s grace and strength will help you to fulfill this great calling.

“Educate a man and you have done a good thing.  Educate a mother and you have done a great thing!” (adapted from Fenelon)

Mark and Ellen Strohm


Do You Trust Me?

Proverbs 3: 5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

It is my extreme pleasure to be the Nursery School and Day Care Director for my church.  We have been short handed, so I also have the pleasure of being in the classroom more often. Over the last few weeks, I have enjoyed getting to know the students and families, and one student named Canton* in particular. Due to many difficult life experiences, Canton does not take disappointment very well.  When disappointment presents itself, Canton withdraws to a corner, flops down and pouts.

In the last week there were three occasions when Canton was disappointed.  First, Canton wanted to participate in a fun event in which three children are chosen each day and the others must wait for another day. The second disappointment was being told he would get the job of cleaning the lunch table, only to find the job had been promised to another child. The last incident was when I noticed Canton pick up a jelly bean from the floor and slip it into his pocket. When I asked what he had in his pocket he willingly gave me the jelly bean, but ran and hid, filled with sorrow over his loss.

In each situation I asked him a direct question, “Do you trust me?” Because I know Canton’s background is filled with hurt and rejection I have a deep desire for him to have good, rewarding experiences. In order for me to help him, he must trust me. What broke my heart each time was that Canton found it difficult to trust me. I thought, “If he only knew my heart! I want what is best for him. I don’t want to crush him or do something unfair. I really, really want to help this boy, but he won’t let me.”

In the first instance, Canton was chosen to participate in the fun event the next day. When I accidentally promised he could wash the table I found a “new” job for him to do, sweeping the floor. The day he found the old jelly bean on the floor and hid it in his pocket, his entire class received a jelly bean when they finished their snack, so by trading in the dirty, old jelly bean Canton was able to get the jelly bean of his choice instead!

This week while waiting for our Easter service to begin, I was praying quietly, preparing my heart. I confessed to the Lord some painful situations and fears I have been having lately. I was fearful that God would not answer my prayers in the way I was hoping or in my timing. I wondered if I needed to take action to make sure these issues were resolved my way.

My exact words to Canton rang in my heart, “Do you trust me?” I was instantly thinking of little 5 year old Canton sitting in the corner pouting because things did not turn out the way he wanted. Yet, if that little 5 year old knew what I knew, he would be assured that things were going to turn out just fine. He only lacked trust.

Our heavenly Father wants to bring blessings and treasures to me too, but all too often I throw myself into the corner because I was asked to give up my dirty jelly bean, not realizing that if I would just trust God I would get my choice of jelly beans.

Lord, help me to trust you, you love and care for me and for my children far more than I can imagine!

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

*Canton is not his real name

5 Steps To Keep Your Child Safe In the Changing Technology Landscape

I just read a major family ministries “hint” on how to keep your child safe online. Their hint – keep the family computer in a common area. What? That may have worked 5 years ago, but today’s changing technology landscape has brought new challenges demanding new strategies for parents living in 2012!

iPods, iPhones, iPad, Android Tablets, mp3 Players, Video Players, Smart Phones, Texting, BBMessaging, Picture Messaging, Phone Posting to Social Media, Gaming Systems, DVD and Blu Ray Players with Internet Access, Kindle Fire, etc. – all ways your child can both communicate and gain access to media and materials without your knowledge.

With an explosion of technology devices that connect to the internet the old strategies that focused on computer based safety are leaving a new generation of tech savvy young people venerable to inappropriate, crude and hurtful content and communications. How can parents help their child avoid trouble in a world that offers our children dozens of ways to connect? Here are five key steps you can use to keep your children from troubles.

Step #1 – Spend most of your time and most of your efforts on developing a good personal relationship with your child.

Research has continued to reveal that children who have good relationships with their parents are less vulnerable to predators and are able to weather hurtful, personal attacks better than those who do not. Time with your child is important. But you also need to invest great effort in sharing your faith, getting to know your child’s strength, weaknesses and fears. Learn who their friends are and help them have healthy relationships with others. Make sure you:

–          Love your child

–          Become your child’s primary teacher

–          Teach them to be wise to the ways of the world

–          Openly discuss temptations and struggles

Step #2 – Set up a contract that clearly establishes technology as a privilege.
– Don’t just lecture, but train and give clear expectations in the form of rules/guidelines for each new device. How much time is appropriate? What activities are acceptable? What actions are inappropriate? If your child fails to follow your rules be ready to take action including a time out from the use of technology, restitution if necessary and a path to earn back the technology through exhibiting responsibility. Visit http://colossians2.com/cyber/resources/ for more information.

Step #3 – Set up OpenDNS on your home router. If you have cable, fiberoptic internet service or any service provided through a router you can visit http://www.opendns.com/ for more information. This service is free for your home and comes in an “automatic package” and a version that allows you to choose your own settings. While OpenDNS tends to add new inappropriate internet sites and blogs after a process that takes some time, they still block much inappropriate material and work with all internet devices including the new DVD and BluRay internet connected players.

Step #4 – Use tracking or monitoring software for your child’s devices. Tracking and monitoring software is very effective for alerting you to inappropriate activities. Parents should not rely on the software alone to block all inappropriate material since the internet changes so rapidly. These services are a great help! I recommend the following:

iOS including iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad – Safe Eyes (click on the banner to the right for more info on Safe Eyes.)

Computers both Mac and Windows  – Safe Eyes

Android Devices (including Amazon Kindle Fire) – X3 Watch

Smart Phones – Use your carrier to track usage and internet sites visited

Step #5 – Communicate with those who are responsible for your children – school, youth group, parents of friends, babysitters, etc… Do not assume your school, church or family friends know how to protect your child. Ask, Ask, Ask. Does the camp or retreat center have guidelines in place? Are there clear expectations for behavior? What are the rules regarding pictures or videos taken via phone? Are children allowed to share personal information on school teams and competitions? Find out and be ready to be part of the solution.


Don’t Despair

The dizzying array of technology is very exciting and also confusing.  Parents should not be intimidated or feel that all control and influence is surrendered if you allow your child to use internet connected devices. Wise parents will strike a balance between monitoring and trust. As your child demonstrates understanding of and respect for your guidelines and standards, they can enjoy the freedom to use the devices within the safe zone you establish.

For more information on keeping your child safe visit http://CyberSafetySeminar.com

Merry Christmas from the Strohms

Dear Family and Friends,

The Strohm family would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This has been an eventful year for us! From the bottom of our hearts we would like to thank the many, many friends and family who prayed, sent notes, made calls both during Mark’s Mom’s battle with cancer and during Mark’s sickness. Our hearts were overwhelmed with family and friends who were lifting us up and praying. It has humbled us and has given us a deep appreciation for the community of Christian believers.

The grandchildren – Gavin, Elena, Olivia

The year began with Mark closing his book recycling business. Our hope was to have Mark phase back into full time ministry, but the steps God had ordered were a bit different than what was anticipated.  Mark worked on developing parenting materials, coached high school tennis, taught a class at Lancaster Bible College and worked with our church to help restore their pre-kindergarten and daycare.  As the year progressed, Mark found himself frequently sick and unable to get well.  After being sick for more than 4 months, Mark ended up in the Hospital for 6 days. Dozens of tests, scans and two hospitals later, Mark was diagnosed with a Pituitary Adenoma.  The non-cancerous tumor is being treated with medications. While his recovery has been slow, the frequent sickness cycle has ceased and Mark is resuming activities.


Ellen has continued her work at Global Scripture Impact, a division of American Bible Society.  Ellen was promoted to a more senior management position and is now “Client Development and Operations Manager.”  This summer Ellen’s sister, Stephanie McDonald, along with her husband Dwayne and their three children visited with us.  At the end of the summer, Ellen lost her grandmother, Marty Southard, and not too long after, Marty’s sister, Alice passed.  While it was a sad time, it was nice to see her parents, Uncle Art & Aunt Susie and have time together with her sisters.

Julie finished her college coursework and has officially earned her bachelor’s degree this December! She recently finished her internship at a small church in New Holland, PA, and has now begun actively seeking employment.  In the meantime, she continues to work for a family as a part-time Nanny.  Julie began dating Jonathan Taylor, a Valley Forge Christian College grad, in February.  Jonathan is a youth pastor in Middletown, DE.

Abigail transferred from Delaware County Community College and now attends Valley Forge Christian College as a business major.  She enjoyed staying on campus this past semester, joining 4 other family members there. Abigail works with our church’s youth group and works as a server at a local restaurant.

This summer we were able to visit family. First stop was Charleston. Mark’s parents were praising God for Mark’s Mom being cancer free for over 6 months and continues to be a real miracle.

Andy, Kelly and Gavin

After visiting Mark’s parents, we visited Lakeland, Florida to see Andy, his wife, Kelly and son Gavin. Andy continues to do well at Geico where he is Supervisor of a sales team. Kelly has done a beautiful job decorating their new home and is a wonderful mother to little almost 2 year old Gavin. Later in the year we were pleased to learn that Andy and Kelly are expecting their second child in April.

Andrew, Alli, Elena and Olivia

We then visited Alli and her husband Andrew Hyer and two daughters, Elena and Olivia in Casselberry, FL.  Andrew’s online media business continues to grow. Andrew’s business grew out of his two car garage and he now rents a small warehouse.  Alli enjoys investing in her three year old Elena and one year old Olivia, who are growing and changing almost daily. Alli’s craft blog, AlliCrafts.blogspot.com hit one million page views and is a “fun” focus for her crocheting.

Our Strohm family prays for each of you, that the peace only the Christ of Christmas can give will fill you and your home at this Christmas time…

Mark, Ellen, Julie and Abby


A Rewarding Perspective

Editor’s Note – Ellen wrote this in October of 2005. Both Ellen and I re-read this and we agree that it is even more true today than when she wrote it.

BTW – the picture to the left is of Mark Strohm (far left) when he was a child, with his siblings and mother.

When my children were very small, more experienced mothers I knew would tell me that the early years pass quickly and that I would miss them when they’re gone. How could this be true? We had 4 children in 7 years. Every day seemed like a week. They were so beautiful but so exhausting. I could hardly imagine the day when they’d all be in school.

Feelings of exhaustion can fog your perspective and make you wish your days away. There were times that I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home, for them to get in bed, for Friday, for vacation, for school to start, for summer vacation. But there were golden days as well, when a little blessing like my child’s prayer would make the day shine.

Looking back, those ladies were right, the years have flown by. My children are almost adults now. The memories of those days of being stretched to my absolute physical and emotional limits have faded but the joy of the little blessings has not. Those memories are precious jewels that were formed during the times of intense pressure and fatigue, during the early years. Those times still glow in my heart, a treasure stored.

Be assured, you’ll have golden days too, precious treasures if you keep your perspective.


Simple Times

My daughter Julie is home from college so this week we have been going for walks. I hope she has enjoyed our conversations as much as I have! First, we talked about some necessary subjects and made sure we exchanged information that was important. Then, when all the business was taken care of, we had fun conversing about anything that came to mind. We even stopped at a local landmark here in our town – a huge toy and model train store. Walking through the isles of this store was like stepping back in time. There were not many electronics, just loads of fun, simple toys.

Life has really changed. I love most of the changes. The microwave is wonderful and convenient. I love my smartphone. I love my computer and the ability to facebook and skype with my loved ones. I love the large selection of cable choices. I can watch tennis or some great History Channel program even though most of America does not want to watch the same programs. I love how simple it is to bank online. I love that I can purchase something on Amazon when no store in town will sell it due to low volume. I love my GPS that gets me all kinds of places and helps me find a gas station when I am in need. I really do love technology!

But there is one thing I don’t love about technology. While each “advancement” is great on its own, they have all come together to produce a very busy, noisy, cluttered life. Instead of being “forced” to miss the latest episode of the TV program you are following and learning to figure out what happened while watching the next episode, now you can watch the episode “on demand” or on Hulu. Instead of heading home because it is getting late and you are not that familiar with the town you are driving in, you can keep going and rely on the GPS. Instead of enjoying solitude, you can call a friend and talk for 20 minutes, even when you are not at home. Instead of passing up a last minute opportunity because you would not have time to cook a meal before the group was leaving, your trusty microwave can get you out the door.

For most individuals back before all the great technology showed up to help us, there were many unplanned, unstructured times to slow down and process our thoughts. I guess one could argue that we had too much time and that got us into trouble. But there is no doubting that the children of today have far less peaceful, slow, unstructured time.

I believe this lack of “down” time is a detriment for children today. Just like my parents had to make plans to keep me “busy” way back in the 1960’s, getting me to join a boy’s club, a baseball team and take swim lessons, I think parents today actually have to make plans to provide “quiet” times for their children. They need to provide times without activities and especially without the constant intrusion of technology.

Then, maybe you and your child will be able to talk about things like Julie and I got to. You can get through the catching up, discuss everything that you need to, and hopefully arrive at fun, delightful small talk! Who knows, maybe you will even be able to visit a local destination just for the fun of it!