But Mom...I'm the ONLY one!

If you’re the parent of a middle school student who doesn’t have his or her own iPhone 5, you’ve probably heard this complaint: “But MOM…You don’t understand! I’m the only one, and I’m missing out on EVERYTHING!”

And you know what? They’re right. According to Dr. Brenda Hunter and Kristen Blair, the authors of From Santa To Sexting, they’re missing a lot. For starters, they’re missing:
  • That unsolicited “sext” from their classmate attempting to cyber bully the girl that sits next to them in Spanish class. 
  • A 10-20% reduced brain size due to overexposure to media and Internet. 
  • A lowered ability for creativity, especially in English class. 
  • Sleepless nights due to “hypertexting” as the phone vibrates under their pillow all night. 
  • 9 hours a day of recreational media stimulation 
  • The possibility of being denied entry to law school in a few years, as 40% of those institutions will check their social media pages before accepting him/ her as a student. 
So mom and dad, go ahead - deprive your kids. Be the parent. Say “no” to a personal cell phone, individual Facebook account and the onslaught of social media until your son or daughter is in High School. And in exchange, say “hello” to a little more innocence.

And oh, BTW…. assure them they’re not the “only 14-yr-old in America without one!” My son is the other one.

For more encouragement to parents of teens, check out Dr. Dobson’s powerful new interview “From Santa to Sexting: Protecting Your Middle-Schooler” with Dr. Brenda Hunter and Kristen Blair.

People…..and Pictures

It’s true. When scrambling from your home with the threat of rapidly approaching fire, you grab two things: People and pictures. That’s precisely what I snatched – and you would, too.

This summer, several on us on the Family Talk staff stepped out onto the porch with growing concern over what was mounting on the horizon. I live just beyond that hill (photo on right), so quickly headed out.

I was unprepared for what lay ahead. Rounding the bend heading into my intersection, a thick cloud of smoke loomed in front of me. I was turning left and heading directly into its path (photo below).

My 18-yr-old son was inside our home tossing items into duffel bags, shouting over his shoulder, “Mom, we really need to go!” On my last trip out the door, I literally swept a hand across the top of the piano snatching 6-8 of my favorite framed photos, threw my wedding album under my arm, and headed out to join the 45-minute traffic jam waiting to exit the 1.2 miles out of our subdivision.

For the next 12 hours we didn’t know if we’d ever return. Yet amazingly, due to the diligence of nearly 1,500 firefighters, that inferno never crossed the boulevard a mile west of us. Thank you, Lord!

Now that the crisis has passed, I reflect on what I took with me that day: People and pictures. Sure, the “people” part of the equation is easy to figure out – we’d all say that. But why the pictures? The same reason: People -- more people. Our photos contain faces of eternal souls we love: Little Kenny & Trevor donning oversized sunglasses as toddlers; my daughter and her husband on the beach in South Carolina; A precious three-generation-snapshot with my father-in-law; nephews and nieces in their finery on a wedding days. That says it all.

As the four of us reunited in the driveway of a friend’s house across town, we came to terms with it: Nothing else but people ever matters. Oh, to always remember that.

There have been a lot of natural disasters around our nation lately. What have you learned? I'd love to hear about it!

I've Got Your Back

It’s finally here! After a long summer break, next Wednesday I’ll reunite with some of my favorite people, as 8-10 of us moms escape to the lounge of a local business up the street from our public school where, for 60 minutes, we’ll “pour out our hearts like water before the Lord for the lives of our children.” (Lamentations 2:19)

For the next 9 months we’ll gather there weekly, standing in the gap for algebra tests, basketball tryouts, favor with teachers. We’ll pray girlfriends in -- and out -- of their lives. We’ll pray they reach out to the lonely new student in the cafeteria. We’ll pray they get caught if they cheat. We’ll pray they cross the parking lot safely. We’ll pray for the bullied….and the bully.

I make this a non-negotiable slot on my calendar because in a world that’s crushing my son at every corner, I want him to know his mom’s got his back. When he’s weak in his faith, his spirit, or his body – I’m there for him. He’s my son and I’d give my very life for him. Hmmm....I kinda think my Father in Heaven knows exactly how I feel.

Who else out there is praying for your student this year? Let me know. If not, you can find a praying group in your neighborhood here.

And – tune in for a brand new Family Talk discussion with “Moms In Prayer” Founder Fern Nichols, on September 6 & 7!

Million Dollar Hug for $0.42

We had just returned after several days of mandatory evacuation from our home on the northwest side of Colorado Springs. The Waldo Canyon fire came dangerously close to our neighborhood….but, amazingly, we were spared.

I opened the mailbox to find a greeting card with a curiously modified heading:
“As you settle (back) into your new home”

It was from my daughter, thousands of miles away on the East Coast. She’d been following the raging inferno that threatened the very home she grew up in. She found this card, modified it accordingly, and penned inside: “It makes me appreciate how you’ve made the house a home these past 14 years. I love you. Annette.” What a girl. What a million dollar hug.

In this day of instantaneous Facebook, Twitter, Texting, Email and IM exchanges, when’s the last time you actually selected a card, personalized it, slapped a stamp on it and dropped it in the mail? Today might be a good time.

Looking Above...And Beyond

It’s been one of those sober weeks in life. After a 2600-mile road trip, a 12-ft moving van, 2 vehicles, an LA-to-Colorado plane flight, and multiple trips to the V.A., Social Security office, bank, notary, etc., the godly 91-yr-old patriarch of our home, now lives safe and secure 10 minutes from us. It’s a wonderful, yet poignant, season of life. This stalwart businessman and legacy-maker that raised my husband into the incredible man that he is, is noticeably weaker and more vulnerable, and in need of our hands-on love and attention, which we’re oh, so ready to provide!

For a week our whole family stopped the world to focus our attention on Dad. And as we’ve journeyed through this transition, I find I’m not yet ready to move on as if nothing’s changed – because it has. I desperately want to stop and ponder this precious generational shift and all the emotions it dredges up, including: the awe of a life well-lived, the fragility of life here on earth, the joy of the 5th commandment to honor our father and mother – even the reality of my own mortality and a reassessment of my priorities.

And yet I can’t climb into a monastic hole and ponder right now….life goes on! Ironically, today our third child heads off to college. Once again our family will embark upon a road trip, but this time it’s 12-hr-drive in the opposite direction: to a college campus where he will now venture out on his own, pursuing the dreams God has birthed in him, and which Steve & I have been privileged to nurture and marvel at for the past 18 years.

What an odd moment. To look above us and see the legacy of an amazing grandfather, and glance below and watch the emergence of a young man (who, ironically again, bears the same name as his Grandpa Kenneth!)

And while it’s true that I cannot escape to a mountain of solitude right now to fully process all my emotions, I assure you, this moment is not lost on me. It’s changed who I am. In the midst of rushing from a Social Security appointment to a Wal-Mart run for college dorm supplies, I’m drinking in life at a deeper level, cherishing every moment. I’m not taking the “daily-ness” of life for granted any more. Seize the day.

Snowflakes in Summer

It’s 90° in Colorado Springs today, but a snowflake managed to float through our Family Talk doors: Enter Hannah Strege.

Marlene and Hannah Strege at the
White House.
Hannah is a blossoming young 13-yr-old who’ll be entering 8th grade this fall. She has met President George H. W. Bush, had her testimony featured in British and Australian Parliaments, and been introduced before Supreme Court Justices in Brazil. She loves acting in community plays such as “Horton Hears a Who” and “Peter Pan,” and is looking forward to her role in the upcoming “Seussical” production later this year.

As the world’s first “Snowflake Baby,” Hannah is glad to be alive and obviously, makes the most of every day! Her little life emerged from a frozen embryo on December 31, 1998 after being implanted in a grateful infertile woman named Marlene Strege. And just as every snowflake is unique and designed by God, so is Hannah – and the over 600,000 other embryos which have been frozen post- fertilization. Currently about 2,000 more await adoption.

Find out if your home is ready for a little snowflake to fall into your lives, or get more information on how you can support life at: http://www.nightlight.org/ snowflake-embryo-adoption

And catch little 2-yr-old Hannah singing “Jesus Loves Me” to Dr. Dobson here!

The God Who Sees Me

I’m a busy mom, just like you. Over the past 28 years of my marriage to Steve I’ve been employed part-time and full-time, worked in an office and from home, been a room mom, car-pool driver, Bible-Study teacher and a Moms In Prayer district coordinator. My four kids span a dozen years, meaning that when my oldest was a Sr. in High School, my youngest was just starting Kindergarten.

Add to that the all-too-familiar assignments of cook, chaperone, coach, comforter, personal appointment scheduler, barber, nurse and my personal favorite (NOT!) “Science-fair parent”, and I hope you can quickly see: I understand just a bit of your world.

And yet – even with all the life experiences and “kindred spirit” moments we share as women, I’m all too aware that there are many, many more hurts, challenges, heartaches and mysteries you’ve experienced which I’ll simply never understand. I get that. You’ve fought dragons, anguished over broken relationships, and tackled mind-numbing questions with which I’ve never had to wrestle.

That’s why I take enormous delight in the profound truth that we serve an intensely personal God. Sarah’s rejected handmaiden, Hagar, described Him best in Genesis 16 as “the God who sees me.”

That means that in the middle of the night when I’m awake with a feverish child – He sees me. When I move to a new town and am overlooked by everyone else – He sees me. As I mumble and stumble through my tasks as wife, mom, daughter, sister, employee, friend – He sees past my shortcomings and tenderly cradles my heart in His hands. And likewise, when you ache and struggle beyond what others can imagine – He sees you, too.

Here’s to our journey together with the comfort that when the world overlooks us – the One who made the world, never takes His eyes off us.