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My Grandma taught me about the “bird and bees”.

I think I was in the 6th grade and stayed with her sometimes after school and I’m not sure how it came up but it was something like…”A girl has a garage and a boy has a car, don’t let a boy put his car in your garage until you are married…” No, my wonderful, amazing parents did not have this talk with me, but good ole’ Granny did…:)

I’ve been studying effective communication between parents and children. One startling statistic I read from http://www.fivethirtyeight.com this week is that on average parents spend about 3 minutes a day in meaningful dialogue with their children. We wonder why they don’t listen…maybe it’s because we don’t.

I also read in an article from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships called, “Parental behaviors related to adolescents’ self-disclosure: Adolescents’ views” by Ana Tokic ́ Ninoslava Pec ́nik,

that the following are reasons according to one study why adolescents’ don’t talk to their parents:

-Parents are distracted, unavailable, show mistrust, interrupt, lack understanding, break confidentiality (I just told grandma…), argue/yell, lecture, show disapproval or disappointment only and give the silent treatment.

Adolescents stated in the same study that parents who do the following make them want to talk to their parents:

-They are positive, creating opportunities for disclosure, ask open-ended questions, recognize their mental status, invite unconditional disclosure, wait for them to talk, provide support, self-disclose, are empathetic, appreciate adolescent disclosure, trust them to keep secrets, give constructive feedback, and approve requests.

So when should this start, if you are a parent, now…even if you have young children…If mine are in trouble and beating themselves up about it, I may share one of the many stories of when I got in trouble like the time I tried to do pull-ups on the towel rack and the sheet rock came down with the rack…Children learn to overcome mistakes and failures by learning from you sharing yours.

Make time for your kids today. They are worth it!

Have a great week!

Natalie

 

 

 

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“Make Christmas Great Again, skip church”, says the atheist billboard…

It has been a tough year to listen to the news for many reasons, but at least once a week I try to listen, read, or watch some sort of news outlet to get an idea of what is happening in the world. I am so thankful that I heard about this billboard campaign sponsored by the American Atheists group because if you are one of my two faithful readers…you’ll know I have blogged in a while and this news made me eager to blog!

It is very interesting on so many levels and I am simply going to ask a few rhetorical questions in response to this to get you thinking today.

1-They say, “Make Christmas Great Again…”  which implies that once it was great. How was it great for the atheist I ask in the past?

2-Do we truly know the meaning of Christmas? Yes, this is a question for even the Christians…

3-Will Christmas be great if we simply “skip church”?

4-Are you fulfilled by the materialistic, hurried, people-pleasing through gift-giving, expectant hope of the perfect gift and perfect mate to come thoughts of Christmas for those who celebrate Christmas without believing in the true meaning?

5-Wouldn’t it be more politically correct or accurate rather to say, “Make December Great, skip Christmas?” if you are an atheist?

6-Is it interesting that those who don’t believe in Christianity expect Christians to be tolerate of everything, yet those individuals are extremely intolerant of Christians and their beliefs?

Please think about these questions this season..

Here are my final thoughts… I read this on the pathos.com site, “It is important for people to know religion has nothing to do with being a good person, and that being open and honest about what you believe—and don’t believe—is the best gift you can give this holiday season,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. At first glance of this quote, I sarcastically think, “Oh yeah, let’s go around telling everyone what we believe about them and that is the best gift we can give. For example maybe you think about a drug addict, ‘I think you are a horrible person with no future.’ ” Wow what a gift to give them..your beliefs..

However, then I thought you know this atheist is one to something. First of all, he is exactly right, Christianity has nothing to do with being a good person. It is about Jesus being that good person in our place. Our desire to be a good person after we accept Jesus in our place is because of the realization of how much we are loved and that love overflows to those around us. Maybe all the other religions are about being a good person, but not Christianity! The God of Christianity is truly the only God of grace (unmerited favor-meaning nothing we do would ever be good enough for God, but he loves us anyways and sent his son to pay our debt of being good.) Also, The best gift I can truly give someone as a believer in CHRISTmas is to share my beliefs and be open and honest about those beliefs. The loving thing for me to do is to share Christ and the hope he provides for me! Great thoughts Mr.Atheist!

The sad thing is that many of us will be silent and not share the love we have with others this season. Let’s change that and let others see the greatness of Christmas by sharing with everyone we know the true meaning of Christmas…which is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. What does the simple birth of a baby 2000+ years ago in a cattle trough really mean? Well for Christians, Jesus is the son of God who came to live a perfect life we can’t and to die a death we owe to pay for all of the bad within us. The Jews at the time were expecting a reigning king to come but if God had come in any other form but a lowly human, we couldn’t have handled his wrath and judgment. Instead he came to suffer for us and pay our price for sin (all wrong choices, thoughts, etc.) Christ represents the hope of our future, the peace in our present, and the redemption of our past. This is a truly beautiful thing to share. By the way, you don’t have to go to church or invite someone to church to share the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas,

Natalie

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A positive word on politics

Tis the season for Americans political candidates to show the worst in themselves via ads. I truly despise negative ads. There is enough negativity around us to bring us down in this country in spite of all we have to be thankful for…

When I studied abroad as a college senior in Ecuador, I had the opportunity to tour a hospital with a group of medical students. Most of the hospital had no power because the bills hadn’t been paid and there weren’t many nurses around because they were on strike for not being paid for six months. Recently, a friend who returned from a trip to Brazil told me that the teachers in the area he was working in hadn’t been paid in four months and there was a major water issue that likely wouldn’t be resolved until after a new person was elected and in office, which likely would be in about six months.

I don’t know about you but in my town, teachers are being paid (maybe not as much as they should be), but they are being paid. I also had clean water to drink this morning. Americans take for granted the freedoms we have great and small. This election year may be different from the past, but we still have so much to be thankful for. We should exercise  our right to vote, but first find out who and what you are voting for. Go to the party websites, read the small print of what the candidates truly believe and are promoting, and finally vote your convictions. You won’t find a human that is perfect and whom will be a perfect leader. God is the only perfect being period. Pray for whoever is elected so that they may let God lead them to help our country to be successful.

Finally, make positive changes in your home, workplace, church, and neighborhood by refusing to let negative talk define you. Ephesians 4:29 says, “When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. ” Let your kids hear you praying for our country and leaders, their teachers, and community leaders. Be thankful aloud to those around you for the small blessing you have such as clean water. You’ll be amazed how these changes will positively influence your own mind, thoughts and behaviors and in turn influence those around you in a great way.

Proud to be an American,

Natalie Atwell

 

 

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The power of confession

No I haven’t switched to Catholicism, although in other denominations of the Christian faith, I think we can learn from this practice…

This week I was reminded of something from my oldest son. He woke me up one evening to tell me he had been lying to me. He was crying and said that he needed to tell me and couldn’t hold it in anymore that he had been lying. His little 8 year old heart was being pricked by God to confess his sin. He told me that he had been skipping pages and not reading entire chapters in a book I was encouraging him to read. At first thought I was relieved that all he was lying about was reading… He even said he had come up with his own punishment which was being grounded for two days.

In that moment, I was reminded that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us. When we confess, God’s grace can abound. If we hold it in, we allow God’s judgment to come. As a parent, my heart softened because of my son’s brokenness. I didn’t want to ground him for two days because he confessed. Our sins still have consequences but when we confess again God is faithful and just to forgive us. My son’s punishment was to read with me the next day instead of being grounded.

My son didn’t see that I wanted him to try a harder book and see if he could enjoy once he got into the book. He also doesn’t understand that I’m trying to help him prepare for reading more difficult material in school next year.

Consider this example…Maybe God is allowing a difficult season in your marriage because you or your spouse is hiding something. If you confess your sin to your spouse and ask for grace, your marriage can be better than it ever was or you can wait until the truth comes out (which it will) and invite God’s judgment on your family…

Who can you confess to? God of course, wise friends, therapists, and/or clergy. Look for someone you trust who will speak the truth in love to you not what you want to hear.

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Love,

Natalie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For those who hate Father’s Day, etc.

This time of year and other times such as Mother’s Day, Valentines, etc. are not exactly exciting for everyone. I read a story once about a prison doing a Mother’s Day project and the lines were so long for those inmates wanting to send their mothers cards. The project was such a success that they tried it again on Father’s day, however for Father’s day no one showed up to send a card to a father. My dad used to be a prison chaplain and he had all kinds of cards available to give to inmates. He took us to sing at the prison chapel often and we loved it as kids growing up. Those men were so receptive to God’s love and so humble too. Dad never threatened to leave us thankfully for bad behavior, although he may have been tempted..The sad reality is not everyone has a great father or mother for whom to buy a card. Also, someone could be grieving the loss of a great mother or father and these great displays in stores could be painful to see in stores. There are many reasons why one wouldn’t or couldn’t celebrate all of the holidays we have here in the US.

So, here is my suggestion..If you don’t have a good one (dad, mom, valentine, etc) adopt one. I adopt all types of family members even if I have a good one, fill in the blank. For example, if you don’t like your father or you miss yours find someone you admire, look up to, or are friends with and buy a card for this person. If you can’t find someone you admire, keep trying! Go out and meet some more people. Get off of social media and go meet your actual neighbor. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Let people love you and be friends with you. Open yourself up. I realize no one can replace a lost loved one but there are people still in your life that need the love you can give and who want to love you in return. Focus on the present and who you have and tell someone Happy Father’s Day!

Lastly, if you have a good one, be sure to tell him too!

Natalie

Romans 12: 8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

John 15:12-13 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

 

 

 

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Davidson college grads do not…

…talk about bodily functions or simply pass gas and make a big deal about it. This I know after a conversation with my boss. Her husband is a Davidson grad. My response was, “I wish my husband would have graduated from Davidson”. I’ve asked him to up our 529 plans for the kids in hopes that my stinky boys will go want to go to Davidson in the future. People belong to all types of groups, alumni organizations, clubs, churches, families, etc. I learned last week that Anderson Cooper is from the Vanderbilt family which owns a famous NC tourist home, the Biltmore House. Most of us are not from prominent families in the US or other parts of the world but we belong to something, someone, or some group.

I heard a great message this past Sunday night on belonging. It made me think about how what we belong to directs our actions. For example, as mentioned above Davidson grads. don’t do certain things. :). My husband, who is proud of his bodily functions aka smart but not a Davidson grad., went to a hairband weekend convention/concert or something over the weekend. He had plenty of time to people watch and see what some of the band groupies were like. He isn’t a groupie or even fan of this music, but his friends are so he went along on a road trip to hang out with the guys. Oh the things we can get ourselves into simply because of who we are friends with. Some good and some not so good. Maybe we are trying to wear certain brands, play on certain courses, or enroll our kids in certain schools..think about why these things matter to you in terms of a sense of belonging. Do they really matter or should they long term if this is all you think or talk about?

Who you consider yourself to belong to is foundational in your life. Being someone who believes in God makes a difference in my life. If I simply belonged to a family, a club, or a group these things can and will let me down, change, and/or fail me. However, I believe God will never change, is in control of all things and I believe that he will never leave me. I belong to God means I have hope. Also being a believer in Jesus and having the hope that he paid my penalty for all my wrongs, means I should a act in certain ways. People should see and feel love, joy, peace, forbearance (tolerance and patience when I’m annoyed), kindness, gentleness, and self control in me because I am loved and should love others in these ways.

God put a desire to belong in all of us, I believe to draw us to him. What are you putting in place of your true belonging. Is it more important that you are a crossfit junkie, a soccer mom, or even a church member than it is to belong to God in your life?

Consider who you associate with, who you or what drives your actions and choices, and who you belong to today and everyday and act accordingly. I also suggest acting like a Davidson grad in the way mentioned above even if you aren’t one!

Love,

Natalie

 

 

 

 

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Prom or allergy season?

As a teenager, I was excited and nervous about prom season. As an adult, I’m dealing with allergy season. My how life seems to change, yet in Ecclesiastes 1:9, the Bible tells us, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

I was going to write today about things we are “allergic to”. My son often says he is allergic to broccoli. I’m not even sure there is a such thing. Anyways, some people also act like they are allergic to certain types of people and squench (I made this word up) their noses at certain groups..maybe that group is teenagers. However, at this time of year at the very least think back to that glorious time in your life…or maybe the not so glorious time in your life…prom. Also, be thankful for those neatly dressed kids in restaurants during this time of year.

NERD alert: According to Time.com “The word prom is short for promenade, the formal, introductory parading of guests at a party. The prom can be traced back to the simple co-ed banquets that 19th century American universities held for each year’s graduating class. A growing teenage culture pushed proms younger and younger, and by the 1940s the adolescent dance we know today had almost entirely taken hold. In the 1950s, a thriving postwar economy allowed high schools to eschew the traditional gymnasium in favor of proms held in hotels or at country clubs. President Kennedy rescheduled a 1963 $1,000-a-plate fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton to accommodate a local school whose prom had been booked for the same time. In 1975, President Ford’s daughter Susan held her high school’s senior prom at possibly the best prom location ever: the White House.”

Recently, my very cool husband and I were asked to be chaperones for a young friend of ours and this person’s date for their prom dinner. Maybe the couple was desperate and we were the last resort, at any rate, I’m excited. I’m looking for a cool car to take them in, making sure they have a nice restaurant to eat at, and thinking of other ways to help them have a great time while their cautious, loving parents feel safe also. Of course, I also want their prom to be fun. My proms were a blast mostly because I went with people who were fun. One of my prom dates was so nervous…He has a supped up Toyota Camry…yeah baby… and when we were leaving the restaurant with our motorcade of friends, he put his brother’s car in reverse instead of drive and hit our friend’s 198? T-top camaro behind us…:) poor thing. I tried not to laugh too hard.

It is a pleasure and joy to have friends of all of ages. Don’t be allergic to young people. Embrace the next generation. If you embrace them, they may actually listen to what you have to say. Share your stories good and bad and listen to theirs too. They are the generation who will be making decision for us and influencing our children.

Enjoying the season while sneezing,

Natalie

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Have you ever?

I realize I may be strange and have done some rather weird things that most of you haven’t, but at least I try to find humor in life.. Try it, you may like it..

A few weeks ago, it was a rough morning getting out of the door with two boys and I spilled my coffee walking out. It splashed all over me rather and some of it got in my hair. This may not be a problem for normal people but being an allergy sufferer, I put local honey in my coffee to sweeten it, hoping it’ll wake me up and work towards my immunity from allergies…Therefore, honey got stuck in my hair along with coffee.. It must have been a glob because as I noticed it while combing through my hair with my fingers going to the dermatologist office, I ended up pulling a patch of my hair out! WTF (aka wild turkey fun..;)).

At this point, I stopped ‘combing my hair’ and went into he doctor’s office. When I got back into the room, I decided I need to wash my hair in the sink. Of course, as I practice praying without ceasing often, so I prayed no one would walk in as I’m leaning over the sink washing my hair at the dermatologist with hand soap. Thankfully, I was cleaned and ready to go as the doctor and nurse came in to check my skin.

Being a mother of boys, I often feel like I’m going to lose my mind in the mornings because they are energetic like bulls in a china shop as my sister says. I love it but some days… I have to laugh at myself and my struggles of being bumped into by my four year old  with a cup full of coffee and honey.

Consider this:

“We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.” According to Web MD, Also laughter can positive impact our blood flow, blood sugar levels, immune response, relaxation and sleep.

God created laughter and here are a few things his word says about laughter:

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine…

Proverbs 31:25-26 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.

Proverbs 14:13 Laughter can conceal a heavy heart…

Lastly, I agree with Charlie Chaplin who said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted”.

Have a great week,

Natalie 🙂

 

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No thank you Super Bowl commercial!

mqdefaultThanks to the Super Bowl commercial about leaving the water faucet on…my husband has a new method in trying to get me to turn the water off while I’m brushing my teeth. He gently reminds me that people in the world are in need of the water I’m wasting.

I realize this is an issue for me and I’m working on it. However, guilt is not always a good method in trying to get others to change. Sure it works sometimes, but does it result in a true change of heart. A true change of heart is much more effectively in long term change. A change of heart involves a difference in perspective, will, emotions, and thoughts about an issue, person, or object.

What have you been trying to change? Eating habits, lifestyle, negative or harmful thoughts.

Consider praying about a change of heart considering the matter. Use the following questions as you search your heart:

-Does this view or practice effect me negatively?

-Does this view or practice positively impact others?

-Is this view or practice harmful to my physical body?

-Is it harmful to me spiritually?

-Is is harmful to my mind, will, and emotions?

-Is it harmful to my community?

-Does God honor this thing or view?

-Is this thing or object an idol in my life? Does it matter above all else?

-How much time do I spend on this thing?

-Am I scared to talk to others about this thing?

If you honestly consider the struggles you have by using these questions, you may be able to open enough to allow God to change your heart.

Have a great week!

Natalie

PS If you’d like to help give water to someone in need around the world, visit http://www.compassion.com for more information!

 

 

 

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Have you ever felt awkward at a wake/funeral?

I recently attend a wake for someone that I didn’t have a relationship with, but I went out of respect for someone I love deeply. Sometimes, it is nice to support someone even if you don’t support the people they are related to…

Here’s how I dealt with the awkwardness:

-I looked for humorous things people have in common. I noticed that a local cigarette manufacturer was likely financed by many people in this family. There were oxygen tanks, tracheotomies, and all kinds of smoke related wrinkles at this wake.

-I realized certain types of rebels are worse than others. It’s ok to be a rebel sometimes. Some people think certain hair styles should stay around forever. I guess these people are hair rebels! I’d rather you be this type of rebel than other types..

Joke with your mother about her outfit. If she has a pocket, put a snot rag or other inappropriate object in her pocket for a nice surprise later.

Enjoy the weird funeral home furniture. I have a family member who works in a funeral home now and sometimes this person takes hand-me-down furniture home… couches only not coffins, yet. I still wonder though why a funeral home had a sleeper sofa…?

Giggle at strange conversations. A family member for some reason thought telling my spouse about the joys of pot smoking during this wake was a good idea. While some of you reading this may think pot smoking is ok for recreational or medicinal use, this person would probably not be a poster child for your cause.

Investing in your children is worth it! You can’t change who brought you into the world or who raised you, but you can change from your generation on… Thankfully, my father invested in his children things like unconditional love, grace, work ethic, healthy habits like not smoking, how serving others is a joy, and most importantly the love of God. He can’t change his past but he has made a great family investing in his children. Continue to pray for your crazy family members but give it to God and invest your time in your future, your children.

Relationships are tough sometimes. I have read this quote before I think in the book, The Shack, that “most of our hurts come from relationships but so does our healing”. Some people will hurt you in life, but others will help you to heal. If you haven’t found those who can help you heal, keep searching for a great therapist, good friends, and adopt a family if yours is crazy. I adopt family wherever I go. I have wonderful parents, but I’ve also adopted some extra ones from work and church. They would probably agree that I need a village…

Love you all,

Natalie