Our Family is Rethinking Gift Exchanges This Christmas--And Why You Should Too

Our Family is Rethinking Gift Exchanges This Christmas--And Why You Should Too

This Christmas, my husband and I have decided to forgo giving our kids Christmas presents. This is by no means a prescriptive for all families, but more of an exhortation for parents to be more attentive to the values we inadvertently pass on to our children. In a conversation with my friend and movie producer, Alyssa Plock, I answer the questions:

  • Could there be an alternative to the self-centered, materialistic culture we find ourselves in American Christianity? 
  • As parents, we have the privilege to shape the values of a generation that will outlive us. How will we steward this power?
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How God Silenced My Inner Critic and Reminded Me That I Am Enough

How God Silenced My Inner Critic and Reminded Me That I Am Enough

It wasn’t just impossible; it was laughable. Jesus and his disciples had the task of feeding a crowd close to 20,000 people (5,000 men plus women and children). Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Of course, Jesus is God, and he didn’t really need the answer. But He asked Philip anyway. And Philip had the audacity to talk back (most likely sarcastically) to the Creator, “reminding” Jesus that it would take more than half a year’s wages to fund such an endeavor. From there, Jesus didn’t even attempt to explain himself to Philip. He just showed him what He had up His sleeve.

During this season of transitioning from three to four kids I’ve felt like Philip: annoyed, maybe even angry at God that He would expect me to do something so impossible.  

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3 Things I Learned from My Fourth Pregnancy

3 Things I Learned from My Fourth Pregnancy

It’s currently two days before my due date for Baby #4. This pregnancy has definitely been more of a whirlwind than all my past pregnancies, what, with three preschoolers (ages four, two and thirteen months) and with a new hat I put on this fall: homeschooling mom. 

I probably should have written a blog post about this earlier but writing has seemed a little less doable with new homeschooling tasks and simply staying afloat with household tasks with three very active and mobile kiddos. But I guess it’s for my own emotional and spiritual health that I sort all these thoughts out. And I just hope and pray that my scattered thoughts can somehow help you, my readers (especially my pregnant mom friends) out there who might be feeling something similar. 

Here are three important lessons that I learned during the course of my fourth pregnancy.

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How God Used Parenting to Purify Me

How God Used Parenting to Purify Me

By Moses Sanchez

We stood silently on our bed.  The silence was a mere facade, concealing the war of emotions weighing on my spirit.  I fumbled through my wording, trying my best to catch them before they left my lips, but it was too late. Only three weeks into my marriage, I had made my wife Marilette cry.  With tears, she spoke, “So are you saying this is my fault?”  I stood silent for a few seconds and then said, “Yes.”

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Inside My Prayer Journal: Thoughts on 'Avengers' and Femininity

Inside My Prayer Journal: Thoughts on 'Avengers' and Femininity

(WARNING: May contain plot spoilers from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’)

Dear God,

I listened to Britt Nicole’s “Still That Girl” and I couldn’t help but break down. It’s like she wrote that song for me. I totally relate to how “dreams may change” and “plans may fail,” and how once upon a time, Britt believed she could be the girl “shining in the dark,“ the bright-eyed girl who truly believed she could change the world.

I’m thinking about ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ and its different portrayals of femininity.

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What Maple Syrup Taught Me About Motherhood

What Maple Syrup Taught Me About Motherhood

By Marilette Sanchez

As an adult, I’ve balanced being a full-time college student, a volunteer for a high school ministry, and a retail employee for 30+ hours. I’ve held two internships and two part-time jobs simultaneously. Yet, never have I felt more overwhelmed and powerless than at my most current career choice. My current job? Being a mommy of two.

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Are Teens Growing Up Too Fast?

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Last month, Brooklyn middle-school girls were allegedly required to participate in a role play of a lesbian date, with one girl asking the other for a kiss. Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook held the “anti-bullying" workshop, led by Bard College students. The thirteen- and fourteen-year-old students were separated by gender, then were taught about homosexuality and gender identity.

According to Fox News, the young girls were told that it was perfectly normal for fourteen-year-old girls to have sex and there was nothing their parents could do to intervene.

“I am furious,” parent Mandy Coon told Fox News, whose daughter was in the class.

“I am her parent. Where does anyone get the right to tell her that it’s okay for her to have sex?” Coon says parents were given no advance warning about the presentation and were not given the opportunity to opt-out.  

Coon says her daughter was upset and confused. “She told me, ‘Mom, we all get teased and picked on enough – now I’m going to be called a lesbian because I had to ask another girl if I could kiss her.“

Superintendent Paul Finch told the Poughkeepsie Journal that the workshop focused on “improving culture, relationships, communication and self-perceptions.”

Finch told the newspaper that New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act required the school to hold the workshops. The bill was passed by the New York State Assembly on May 17, 2010, the State Senate on June 22, 2010, signed by Governor David Paterson on September 8, and went into effect on July 1, 2012. Under the Act, schools are required to create a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying.

You can find a copy of the exact bill HERE.

Soon after the Fox News article was posted, the Red Hook School District released an ”Important Facts” document refuting claims made by the article. The District insisted that “no female student was forced to engage in any lesbian kissing,” “male students were not told to carry condoms,” and “sexual activity between students was not condoned in any way.”

Whatever the content of the school workshops, as a parent and a youth minister to New York City middle and high school students, I’m haunted by the messages being taught to our youth.

Growing up, I remember shows like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, and Recess teaching me to play, have friendships and use my imagination. These days, Disney and Nickelodeon shows are no longer about having a carefree childhood. Modern television shows targeting elementary and middle-school pre-teens (Miley Cyrus’s Hannah Montana, Jamie Lynn SpearsZoey 101) are instead portraying first dates and first kisses. All the while, primetime shows like Gossip Girls showcase high school students "hooking-up” left and right, with no consequences.

Putting aside any LGBTQ agendas, I believe middle-schoolers should not be condoned–even encouraged–by the public education and the media to practice sexuality at such a young age. For goodness sake, many students in that age group have not even fully undergone puberty yet. Is it too much to ask to keep their innocence childhood intact for just a little bit longer?

Are public school educators and “children’s” media pressuring our children to grow up prematurely?

Let me know in the comments below.