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Reading the Bible
Sep 17, 2019

Studying the Bible with Other Believers

Are Bible studies really that important? If we’re honest, many of us likely believe that we already check off enough boxes on the “Christian to-do list.” We read our Bibles, go to church, say our prayers, listen to Christian radio, and refrain from using curse words. We have busy schedules and don’t feel like we can make time for any more appointments, so we often let Bible studies fall to the bottom of our priority list and don’t think twice about it. This is a dangerous habit to develop as a believer, however. Studying the Bible with other Christians is extremely beneficial for our relationships with God.
Why is it important to study the Bible with other believers? In short, because the Bible tells us to. In Colossians 3:16, Paul writes, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit…” He continues in Hebrews 10, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Paul instructs us to let the message of Christ dwell among us, to not give up meeting together, and to teach, admonish, and encourage each other in our fellowship.
If we are faithful to meet with other believers to study the Word of God and pray together, we will experience the following benefits:

  1. God’s presence. God will be with us when we gather together. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” When we join together in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and pursuing of our Savior, we are unified in His presence. He is there with us as we join together as the body of Christ.
  2. Accountability. We will find accountability amongst other believers. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This verse refers to an Old Testament practice in which one iron blade was used to sharpen another blade until both became more effective tools. Without each other, both blades would be dull. Similarly, believers “sharpen” one another by holding each other accountable in their walks with the Lord. When we gather together as brothers and sisters in Christ and openly share our struggles and failures, we learn how we can help hold each other accountable to stay faithful to our calling as children of the King.
  3. Fresh perspectives. We all come from different backgrounds with different experiences, and consequently, our viewpoints can vary widely. Meeting with other believers to discuss the Bible can bring about lots of different perspectives on Scripture and spiritual matters. This is healthy as it enables us to interpret Scripture through different lenses than we might personally have and exposes us to wisdom outside of our own mindset. We may find ourselves learning things that we never would have considered if we weren’t in community with other believers.
  4. Encouragement. Meeting together as like-minded believers can be greatly impactful on our faithfulness. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” We are naturally sinful, and Satan seeks to devour us, but when we gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ to learn about God and grow in our faith, we encourage each other to stay faithful to Him and not fall prey to Satan’s lies. This encouragement is vital both when we are spiritually weak and when we feel spiritually strong. We will have highs and lows in our walks with the Lord, but having other Christians to walk beside us and encourage us in our journeys is infinitely valuable. We were created for community; we need it for spiritual survival.

Bible studies can take many different shapes and forms. It may be just you and one accountability partner reading the same book of the Bible together and chatting about it on the phone a few nights a week. Perhaps it’s a group of men meeting at a coffee shop one morning a week before work to discuss the Bible passage from Sunday’s sermon. Maybe it’s a weekly women’s Bible study at your church. You can use an official, organized, biblically-based curriculum or simply read through a book of the Bible; the structure doesn’t matter, just make sure you are meeting with other believers on a regular and consistent basis to dive into the Scriptures and pray together.

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Business, career and placement concept
Aug 21, 2019

Choosing Your Vocation

As young adults, most of us spent a lot of time contemplating what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives and which career path would help facilitate those plans. Some of us went straight into the work force in a career that we had always planned to pursue since we were young children. Others of us started college, picked an appropriate major, possibly changed it a few times due to indecision, and earned the necessary degree to start our chosen careers. Do you remember how critical it felt picking your vocational path? As an eighteen-year-old, the realization that your decision is going to impact the trajectory of your life can weigh heavily on you. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I don’t like this vocation as much as I think I will? What if I don’t succeed in this career path?
Perhaps some of us are currently switching vocational paths as circumstances have changed, opportunities have presented themselves, or our passions have evolved, and we’ve found ourselves asking those same pestering questions again. How do we make the right decision? Use these guidelines as you evaluate your own vocational choices and as your children ask questions about choosing their vocational paths:
Ask for Wisdom
First and foremost, simply ask God for wisdom and guidance. The Bible is very clear on this topic. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Similarly, Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…” and Proverbs 3:6 echoes, “…in all your ways submit to [God], and He will make your paths straight.” These verses demonstrate to us that God will direct us if we simply ask Him to do so.
Consider Your Talents and Passions
Secondly, consider the talents, giftings, and passions the Lord has given you. Are you particularly good at math? Maybe you have a passion for helping hurting people. Perhaps you love to be outside in God’s creation. Maybe you are an exceptionally talented teacher, listener, builder, mechanic, doctor, plumber, or restaurant manager. Whatever you are good at and/or passionate about, find vocations that allow you to use those things! God gave you your specific talents and passions for a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” He has equipped us to do His work. Use your talents and passions for His glory in whatever vocation you choose, and you will be satisfied in Him. Of course, you will have to make a living in order to survive, but you can do that and honor God in your vocation simultaneously. Ask Him to show you how and to help you do so.
Be Flexible and Obedient
Thirdly, be flexible and willing to do whatever you feel the Lord calling you to do and go wherever you feel the Lord is calling you to go. The vocational path you are currently on may not be the one He wants you on ten years from now. He may want to use you in different places for different tasks at different times. Be willing and obedient. Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” The Lord may change the course of our lives and throw off our plans, but we are foolish not to follow Him, even if it is uncomfortable and difficult at times.
Set Realistic Expectations 
Lastly, set realistic expectations. Don’t expect smooth-sailing all the time. You don’t just pick your dream job and then never have to worry about anything ever again; that’s not how it works. It will take hard work, and there will be bumps along the way. God may call you to a different path at times, and you may feel frustrated to leave behind the hard work you have diligently put in at any given career to follow His leading. Choose to trust Him in the enjoyable seasons and the challenging seasons alike. Follow Him in obedience and continue to use your God-given talents and passions to glorify Him and point others to Him in whatever vocational path He leads you to.

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Parenting Troubled Teenagers Is Not a Hopeless Fight
Apr 02, 2019

Parenting Troubled Teenagers Is Not a Hopeless Fight

Parenting troubled teenagers can be challenging or even overwhelming. One may experience significant stress in the parental journey if his or her teen is abusing drugs, experiencing depression, or committing acts of violence. Additionally, open defiance and failed attempts to communicate can add to one’s despair.
Don’t worry, though; most of these issues do not last forever. Parents can tackle the problems by learning how to identify red flag behaviors and seeking professional help. By doing so, parents can help teens overcome the challenges of adolescence and transition into well-balanced and happier young adults.

Understanding the Behavior of Teenagers

Why do teenagers display reckless conduct, act impulsively, experience intense emotions, or throw tantrums? Well, everyone is wired differently, and their teenage brains are still actively developing. That’s why they do not process information in the same way a mature adult’s brain does. For example, teenagers tend to rely on the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that triggers emotional reactions. Adults, on the other hand, use the prefrontal cortex for reading emotional cues.
Now that you know why teens act differently, it’s also important to note that teenagers are individuals with unique personalities. No matter how troubled your teen becomes or how emotionally distant they are, teenagers still need their parents’ attention and love.

Identifying Red Flag Behaviors in Teenagers

Parents can start by learning when to step in and assist their troubled teens. Below are some of the most common red flag behaviors to watch for:

  • Peer influence: It is normal for friends to have a great influence on a teen’s choices. Parents should take note when there is a sudden change in peer groups, especially one that encourages negative behaviors.
  • Experimenting with drugs or alcohol: Many teenagers smoke a cigarette (or even marijuana) and/or try alcohol at some point. Problems start arising when his or her drug or alcohol use becomes habitual, affecting school-related performance and life at home.
  • Mood swings: Hormones and developmental changes can cause irritable behavior and mood swings. Your teen may be struggling to manage these emotions if they talk about suicide, have difficulty sleeping, ignore falling grades, and/or experience persistent sadness.
  • Rebellious behavior: When teens start to seek independence, they may become opinionated and confrontational every so often. Parents should be concerned if they start to frequently get into fights or even have run-ins with the law.

How Can Parents Help Troubled Teenagers?

If a troubled teen displays one or more of the mentioned red flag behaviors, parents can consider seeking professional help, such as therapists, counselors, doctors, or other mental health professionals. After finding the appropriate treatment for your teen, it does not mean that your job is done. There are various actions you should take at home to improve the relationship between you and your teen. Here’s what you can do:

  • Help your teen make healthy lifestyle changes: Create a schedule that your teen can follow with regular mealtimes, fixed bedtimes (at least 8.5 to 10 hours of sleep), etc. Consider reducing screen time as it is known to impact brain development as well. Next, ensure that your teen eats right and exercises regularly, which can improve his or her mood.
  • Learn how to cope with teen anger and violence: Parents should establish boundaries, rules, and consequences but also give their teens enough space to retreat and relieve anger in a healthy manner, such as venting through art or dancing to music.
  • Create opportunities to strengthen the parent-teen bond: Parents can open the lines of communication by being there for their teens, finding common ground, offering a listening ear without being judgmental, and providing sound advice.
  • Remember to practice self-care: The stress of dealing with a troubled teen can take a toll on parents, which is why it is important to find support. You can seek help from a religious leader, sports coach, friend, or other family members. Ultimately, parents should remember to relax daily and de-stress when they start to feel overwhelmed.

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Hands of the Parent and Litlle child in Field on Road
Sep 22, 2018

Trusting God with Your Children

Parenting is hard. It all starts even before your first child is born. You find out you’re pregnant and immediately begin the process of sacrificing your body for another as you sustain and nourish the life growing in your womb. You are constantly nauseous, have to give up your favorite coffee drink for nine months, grow increasingly uncomfortable as your belly expands, and can’t breathe or sleep well, all culminating in the actual act of laboring and birthing your baby.
You quickly realize, however, that all of that was the easy part. You leave the hospital with your baby wondering why in the world these doctors are trusting you to keep him alive – you know nothing about babies! You spend your child’s first year of life completely sleep-deprived, depending heavily on caffeine while you read every parenting book you can find and search Google for just about everything. (Should I let my baby “cry it out? When should I start feeding him solids? What is a normal body temperate for an infant? How early should we start having playdates to foster social development?)
Then you hit the “terrible twos and you realize how good you had it during that first year. Your child is becoming more and more independent and simultaneously more and more difficult. He has loud tantrums in the middle of Target for no apparent reason, causing all the other shoppers to cast judgmental stares in your direction as you melt into a puddle of embarrassment on aisle twelve. He starts talking more and may even repeat some phrases he has heard from that one relative that you really wish he hadn’t. He is no longer a baby, but he isn’t a “big boy yet either. You spend the majority of this phase trying to balance letting him explore his independence and mature while still guiding and protecting him.
The next fifteen years are focused around your child’s schooling. During this phase, you must help your child learn how to read and write, manage his homework, chaperone his fieldtrips, make cupcakes for his class parties, deal with cliques and hurt feelings, send him to proms, guide him through his first relationships and also first heartbreaks, teach him to drive and take him to get his license, support him as he decides where to go to college, sob throughout his graduation, and then come to terms with the fact that, after all of this, he is moving out of your house and going out on his own into the world as a young adult.
It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. In the words of Ed Asner, “Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare. But for many of us, the hardest part of parenting is trusting God with our children.
If I’m honest with myself, deep down I believe that only I know what’s best for my children. I want to protect them from the dark and dangerous world we live in. I don’t want them to get hurt or sick. I never want them to feel scared or alone. And I do everything in my power to protect them from these things. The truth of the matter is, however, that I’m simply not in control of their lives – just like I’m not in control of my own.
It’s easy to feel a false sense of control in our lives, especially when things are going well, but the Bible is very clear about who is really in control of all things: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose'” (Isaiah 46:9-10). “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). “You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power. Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding (Psalm 139:5-6). “‘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’ (Jeremiah 29:11).
While it’s tempting to think we are in control when our circumstances are positive, sometimes we have no difficulty understanding that we don’t have control because it is painfully obvious. Every day at the Paul Anderson Youth Home we talk to parents who feel like their lives are spiraling out of control because their sons are addicted to drugs and alcohol, rebelling at home, failing in school, disrespecting authority, and making poor decisions left and right. Many of these parents have raised their children in godly, loving homes and never expected this kind of behavior from their sons. They have tried all sorts of discipline and simply cannot seem to reel their sons in. They are at the ends of their ropes, at a loss for where to go next, and fully aware that they have zero control in the situation.
It’s hard to fathom anyone loving our children more than we do, but we know that God does because His love is perfect. He has known the course of our children’s lives since the beginning of time, and He will direct them as He pleases for His glory. They will experience pain, hardships, consequences for poor decisions, and many things we wish we could protect them from, but God is sovereign, infinitely wise, and deeply loving. He knows what is best for them; we don’t. He sees the bigger picture that we don’t have access to. It’s hard to let go of our imaginary “control in our children’s lives because we are afraid they will get hurt, and it’s hard to swallow the realization that we aren’t in control when our children stray, but we can rest assured that God will not only act in love, but with a love that is far greater than the love we have for our children. Ask God today to help you release your children from your clinched fists into the loving palms of His hands, or fall at His feet and surrender your helplessness to control your wayward children. Rest in the peace that will follow.

Is your teenage son struggling with addiction or unruly at home, school, or in the community? PAYH can help. Give us a call at 912-537-7237 or email us at

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Sad Man Sits On An Old Wooden Bench On The Sea Coast
Dec 14, 2016

Purposeful Disappointments

2016. What a year! For me, it held the birth of my first child, learning how to balance motherhood, marriage, and work, the death of two grandparents, wrestling with loneliness away from my family and friends, excitement and gratitude over new friendships, lots of traveling with my husband and working on the road, very little sleep, and, let’s be honest, a TON of coffee. On a larger scale, 2016 brought the devastation of numerous earthquakes and hurricanes across the world, the spread of the Zika virus, terrorist attacks, the Summer Olympics in Brazil, a heated US presidential election, 135,858,636 births, and 56,893,923 deaths.
Every year, December naturally ushers in a season of reflection. The Thanksgiving leftovers are finally gone, the Christmas trees are being undressed, your extended family has gone back home, and you are frantically attempting to remember what New Year’s resolutions you made last January 1 to evaluate what kind of last minute work you need to accomplish. Maybe you can lose that 5 pounds if you run two times every day until New Year’s Day. Did you say you would read six new books this year? You definitely meant two. Okay, now you’re ready to find the courage to ask your boss for that raise. Maybe this past year was everything you dreamed of, but what if 2016 didn’t turn out like you’d hoped it would? If 2016 was a year of disappointment, unmet expectations, or devastating loss and pain for you, take heart in this truth: God is still sovereign.
Sovereignty is defined as “supreme power or authority. When we say that God is sovereign, we are referring to the Biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission. God is sovereign over His creation, the affairs of man, and our salvation, sanctification, and glorification; nothing and no one can thwart His sovereign plans. The gravity of this knowledge can feel heavy as you grasp the ramifications: In addition to the blessings and favor He shows you, God allows and even orchestrates the disappointments and tragedies in your life.
The Bible teaches us that God is good, faithful, loving, and merciful. He orchestrates each of our lives through the lens of these characteristics as well. But how is the tragedy that He allows good? 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. The purity of your faith is more important to God than your comfort, the achievement of your dreams, your avoidance of tragedy, or the weight of your wallet. This makes sense, of course, because our faith affects our eternity, unlike our earthly circumstances. When gold passes through fire, the impurities are burned, leaving the gold refined and shining more brightly. Pastor John Piper believes that this “praise, glory, and honor mentioned in 1 Peter 1 is yours, and not God’s. Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21). God praises your still imperfect faith, and that moment is more valuable to Him than your comfort or even your life.
So, how do you respond if you look back at 2016 and see nothing but failure, shattered dreams, broken relationships, and disappointments? You pray for a spirit of thankfulness. It seems counterintuitive to be thankful for the things we perceive as negative, but we must remind ourselves that God is working for our good. As He refines our faith, He molds us to look more like Him, He encourages us, and He uses us for His glory. Everything He does in our lives is done in love. These are things to be thankful for! Without fire, the gold will never shine as brightly. Even when we don’t always understand why things happen the way they do, we can rest in the knowledge that we will be okay because God is in control, and He is good. Now, “okay may look different than we expect. “Okay may mean that you still have cancer, or that your husband still loses his job. But, according to Romans 8, we know that “God works for the good of those who love Him.
Sometimes talking about the sovereignty of God can make Him feel distant or maybe just too big to be concerned with our problems. Do not let Satan convince you of this lie! God is close: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). God is in your midst and rejoicing over you: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Nothing can separate you from God’s love: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39). Write these truths down around your house, recite them every morning, put them to melodies and sing them throughout the day – whatever you need to do to combat Satan’s deception and discouragement.
As we prepare to ring in the new year, remember who is in control. There is nothing wrong with New Year’s resolutions and setting expectations for the future, but we must not think too highly of our own wills. If 2017 unfolds exactly how you want it to, praise God. And if it blows up in your face, praise God. He can see the bigger picture in it all, and we must trust Him, regardless of our circumstances. Embrace the refining process when your faith is tested and rejoice in His perfect plan for you!
Emma Payne
Emma Payne Signature.png
Advancement Associate
Paul Anderson Youth Home

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Oct 26, 2016

Hope for the Hopeless

I don’t think many people would disagree that we live in a dark age. If you turn on the news, it won’t be long before you hear a harrowing story of neglected children, school shootings, random murders, spousal abuse, human trafficking, racism, poverty, disease, natural disasters, or general mass chaos. In their most recent reports, the CDC and the FBI cite 41,145 suicides, 699,202 abortions, 90,185 rapes, 15,809 homicidal fatalities, 327,374 robberies, and 813,862 divorces in the United States in 2015. In such a godless day in age, our future can appear dismal. Yet, as believers, we have something bigger to hold on to: HOPE.
What exactly is hope? The dictionary defines it as “the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen. We can hope that the Georgia Bulldogs win the SEC Championship, wanting the team to succeed and knowing that it could possibly happen, but there is no guarantee; it may or may not happen. However, as believers, our hope is certain. Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. The root of our hope is Jesus. No matter what happens to us, no matter how dark our surroundings become, and no matter how bleak the future looks, Jesus has overcome this world through His death and resurrection. His love for us is evident in His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and His ever-faithful concern for us is demonstrated in His resurrection. Because He rose again, He is alive and present in every moment of our lives, loving us, interceding for us, sanctifying us, and molding us in His image.
So what does this mean for us in our everyday lives? First, we need not fear. When the world around us looks like a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, and darkness seems to prevail, we have hope; this is not our home, and Jesus defeated sin. When bad things are happening to good people, we have hope; our God’s love never fails, and He works for the good of those who love Him. When our future is uncertain, we have hope; God is all-knowing and trustworthy to direct our paths. When we experience loss, we have hope; Jesus is compassionate and understands our pain because He experienced every emotion we feel during His time on Earth. When we feel alone, we have hope; Jesus’ very last words before returning to Heaven were, “Surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age. No matter the circumstance, Jesus is greater, and He is our hope.
Second, we can walk in victory. I cannot articulate it better than Paul does in Romans 8: “If God is for us, who can be against us? …Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Paul’s words are saturated with hope! Nothing can separate us from Jesus or His love; no catastrophe, trial, distance, or darkness can take away our hope. Because of Jesus, we have conquered the dark despair of this world!
Finally, we must tell others about our hope. There is no shortage of hurting people in this world, and far too many of them are hopeless. If your neighbor loses their job, your coworker gets cancer, your friend’s husband leaves, your sister has a miscarriage, or you hear the other parents in the pickup line at school lamenting the “hopeless presidential election, don’t miss the opportunity to tell them about Jesus and the hope they can find in Him! The greatest help you can give the afflicted is the eternal hope for which we all long in the deepest parts of our souls – point them to the Author of hope!
It is not always easy to see this hope when we are surrounded by such devastation and evil, but we must intentionally remind ourselves when we start to feel discouraged, depressed, and hopeless. Psalm 42:11 says, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God… The Psalmist recognizes his despairing heart, then reminds himself why his discouragement is unnecessary: God is his hope and salvation. Memorize Scriptures that talk about hope so that you are equipped and ready to counter the lies of despair Satan will undoubtedly seize you with. Psalm 71 says, “As for me, I will always have hope. Romans 15:13 reminds us, “Our God is a God of hope. Job 11:18 states, “You will be secure because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. The Bible is full of encouraging verses of hope; utilize them!
Emma Payne
Advancement Associate

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Sep 21, 2016

The Pit

On a recent visit home to my parents’ house, I found a stack of papers from my second grade school year. I thumbed through the terrible drawings, misspelled words, and chicken scratch handwriting with tears of laughter streaming down my face, sharing these hilarious memories with my husband who thankfully didn’t know me back then. As I was putting the papers back in their folder, something caught my eye. The form was a small questionnaire my teacher had each student fill out. I’m sure it was meant to be cute and entertaining to look back on like all the other papers we had just howled over, but this one was different. What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor. What is your favorite food? Pizza. What is your favorite color? Blue. What is your favorite sport? Gymnastics. If you could have one wish come true, what would it be? That my parents won’t die.
As I read my answer to the last question, my heart sunk a little. I remember being terrified to the point of tears anytime I called my parents and they didn’t answer. I was certain they had been in a car accident. I also remember being (unnecessarily) scared that our family was going to run out of money and find ourselves living on the streets. And after September 11th and all of the media attention around terrorism, I avoided opening our mail because I was afraid there might be anthrax in it. Saying these things out loud is a little comical now, but I was paralyzed by fear at the time. We always joked that I was the “family worry wart,” and it wasn’t until years later, after several more serious manifestations, that I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
You’re probably wondering why in the world they asked the woman who obviously has not mastered her anxiety to write the newsletter about that very topic, and I have to admit, I am wondering the same thing! I couldn’t be further from an expert, but I have learned a few things during my years of battling the monster named Anxiety.
1. Trust Jesus.
In Philippians 4, Paul urges, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Our task is pretty clear: Talk to God about whatever it is that causes your anxiety. Paul goes on to say that if you do this, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Jesus is our Good Shepherd which means we can rest in the assurance that He is taking care of us and, according to Romans 8, working all things together for the good of those who love Him. Now, this doesn’t mean things will always go our way or look the way we want them to; it does, however, mean that we can trust God’s infinite knowledge, perfect ways, and steadfast love. When we surrender our anxieties to God, we exchange them for His peace.
2. Watch your thoughts.
While trusting Jesus is the answer, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s easy. On the contrary, it can be very difficult sometimes. It’s human nature to want to handle everything on our own, and it requires intentional action and significant effort to release our business to anyone, let alone someone we cannot see with our earthly eyes. To trust Jesus, you have to watch your thoughts. 2nd Corinthians 10:5 admonishes us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Our sinful minds will never naturally think in a pure and holy manner. They will be inundated with worry over whether we will get the promotion, if our child is fitting in at their new school, if the scans will come back clear this time, if we will be able to cover the rent check this month, and on and on and on. There is no shortage of topics to dwell on if you want to drown in anxiety; that is why we have to be active instead of passive. When your anxious thoughts start creeping – or rushing – in, you must stop them. Recognize the thought, then immediately release it to God.
3. Surround yourself with truth.
This is a very important step in finding freedom from the chains of anxiety. Anxiety tells you lies: This is too small for God to care about. I’ve sinned too much recently for Him to want to help me with this. I can handle this on my own. Saturate your mind with counter-truths from the Bible. Memorize verses that address your specific worries so that when they pop back up, you can dismiss them as foolish. For example, if you consistently feel that your concerns aren’t important enough to bother God with, try memorizing Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Additionally, it is very helpful to have a support system who knows what you struggle with and can speak truth in to your life. My husband knows my battles with anxiety, and he has learned how to speak rationality and truth to counter my worries. It has helped me tremendously to hear an audible voice countering the fearful one controlling my mind some days.
Lastly, I want to leave you with some encouragement from one of my favorite books, Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. If you are unfamiliar with the story, Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, were arrested for hiding Jews in their Amsterdam home during World War II and sent to endure the horrors of three different Nazi concentration camps. Their story is an inspiring one of faithfulness, forgiveness, and restoration that will convict and challenge you in many ways. As Betsie lay dying in the infamous Ravensbruck concentration camp, she muttered these words to Corrie: “We must tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.
This statement has stuck with me since I first read the book ten years ago. There is no doubt that anxiety is consuming. It seizes your mind and holds you hostage. It either freezes you with fear or makes you behave irrationally. It takes only a matter of seconds before you are completely controlled by the apprehension, every decision made through the shadow of this looming darkness. Before long, you will find yourself buried in it, and it will feel inescapable. That is when your heart must echo Betsie’s words: He is always deeper, greater, stronger than the pit that the ruthless dictator, Anxiety, has pulled you in to. He has overcome; therefore, we can too.

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Wooden judges gavel on wooden table, close up
Apr 07, 2016

Consider the Consequences: Judge Verda Colvin

Paul Anderson Youth Home has worked with thousands of young men who may have made very different decisions if they had a few minutes with Judge Colvin.
We support and applaud the outreach of Bibb County Sheriff’s Department and the “Consider the Consequences, an early intervention program designed to show children and teens the possible consequences of their actions.  It was created in 2015 to encourage youths to foster positive behavior and provide tools to them to achieve goals. It also serves as a resource for parents to develop disciplinary techniques.

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Mar 16, 2016

A Lost Art: Instilling Respect

We wanted to share an article written  for The Washington Post by Patricia Dalton, Clinical Psychologist, Paul Anderson Family Strong Center.  Written in 2007, possibly even more relevant today .

There’s been a fundamental change in family life, and it has played out over the years in my office. Teachers, pediatricians and therapists like me are seeing children of all ages who are not afraid of their parents. Not one bit. Not of their power, not of their position, not of their ability to apply standards and enforce consequences.

I am not advocating authoritarian or abusive parental behavior, which can do untold damage. No, I am talking about a feeling that was common to us baby boomers when we were kids. One of my friends described it this way: “All my mother had to do was shoot me a look.” I knew exactly what she was talking about. It was a look that stopped us in our tracks — or got us moving. And not when we felt like it.
These days, that look seems to have been replaced by a feeble nod of parental acquiescence — and an earnest acknowledgment of “how hard it is to be a kid these days.”
In my office, I have seen small children call their parents names and tell them how stupid they are; I have heard adolescents use strings of expletives toward them; and I remember one 6-year-old whose parents told me he refused to obey, debated them ad nauseam and sometimes even lashed out. As if on cue, the boy kicked his father right there in the office. When I asked the father how he reacts at home, he told me that he runs to another room!
It came to me like a lightning bolt: Not only are the kids unafraid of their parents, parents are afraid of their kids!
What ever happened to the colorful phrases our parents relied on to put us in our place? “Keep your shirt on.” “On the double.” “What do you think we are, made of money?” “Because I said so.” “If you want sympathy, look it up in the dictionary.” Or one of my personal favorites: “Don’t bother me unless you’re bleeding,” which a friend’s mother said to her six kids when she sat down to read before dinner.
The honor is yours.
Today’s generation of children is the most closely observed, monitored, cherished and scheduled in our history. They are also the most praised. Families are smaller, and there are fewer children upon whom parents can beam their attention.
Today there are moms and dads who aren’t just parents — they believe in “parenting.” They read volumes and volumes about how to be good parents and view parenting as both an art and a science that must be studied and updated and practiced self-consciously. Letting children run around the neighborhood and be bored some of the time is anathema to them.
Many parents these days don’t expect their children to contribute much around the house, although they do expect them to achieve outside the house. They have strong beliefs about what makes children successful and happy-ever-after, and underpinning those beliefs is the concept that they — the parents — are all-important in this quest. Such parents believe that self-esteem is the key to lifetime success, and to this end they compliment their children a lot.
They are egalitarian, and they believe families should be democracies. Needless to say, they don’t give orders. They believe that children will do things when they are ready to. They ask their child politely if he or she will do something and are surprised and dismayed when the response is “no.”
It’s as if parents have rewritten the Fourth Commandment to read, “Honor thy children.”
And, boy, are they paying for it.
When a teacher, pediatrician or therapist suggests that perhaps these “parenting” behaviors are not helping but in fact causing harm, such earnest parents can be hard to convince. They don’t want to have to hear that their New Age concepts for raising kids not only do not work, but actually are prescriptions for disaster.
‘Scrumptious’? Please.
Let’s take the constant parental praise. I first noticed it when my three children were small, and I would hear mothers lauding their kids’ incredible artwork or rich vocabulary. I can recall one mother who brought her 6-year-old to my office after the school observed some social difficulties. “Isn’t she scrumptious?” she said, in front of her beaming daughter. (I made a mental note to myself: This may be part of the problem.)
After all, there is a difference between appreciation, which is from the heart, and flattery, which is from the mouth.
Starting in the mid-1990s, a team led by psychologist Carol Dweck did a series of experiments on fifth-graders over a 10-year period. One study compared two randomized groups of children in a classroom setting. In one group, researchers attributed children’s achievement to their effort and in the other to their intelligence. Those praised for their hard work, it turned out, were more likely to attempt difficult tasks and performed better than those praised for intelligence. Children who were told that innate intelligence is the key were less likely to expend effort and take risks, perhaps because they were trying to maintain an image that they felt was not under their control.
A later study that Dweck conducted among seventh- and eighth-graders confirmed these findings and found that an effort mind-set also led to higher achievement, as measured by math grades.
More-serious concerns were raised by a 1996 review of 200 studies on self-esteem by Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University. Rather than promoting success, he found that an “unrealistically positive self-appraisal” was linked to aggression, crime and violence.
It all makes a therapist long for the days of the good old inferiority complex. And for parents who could put children in their place. Some interesting research on interpersonal attraction has shown that self-confidence in combination with some degree of vulnerability makes a person more appealing to others. Unshakable self-regard is a liability. And dominance is the kiss of death.
Over-parented and under-disciplined children can also have trouble later as young adults with the process of separating from home and creating an independent life. Kids who were constantly praised often become thin-skinned adults who have trouble taking negative feedback on their job or in their personal lives. And I have had more than one client over the years who was positively indignant when a boss expected him or her to be at work on time and to call in sick only when necessary.
Kids who were told, “You can do anything,” may have extremely high expectations that can be hard to attain in our multifaceted modern lives. In her 2006 book, “Generation Me,” Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, documented an enormous rise in young people’s expectations from the late ’60s to the late ’90s. Twenge refers to a quote from the character Tyler Durden in the movie “Fight Club”: “We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very [ticked] off.”
Maybe it wouldn’t be so painful if parents would sign on to the following manifesto: Let’s expect more help from our kids around the house and withdraw some of our frenetic investment in their academic, sporting and social achievements. Let’s shore up boundaries and let them be kids in the kid zone. And let’s allow them to experience some of life’s disappointments. Let’s talk on the phone and go out on weekends with our friends. Let’s start worrying less whether our kids are happy all the time and more about whether we are enjoying them and ourselves. Let’s get a life in the parent zone. And last but not least, let’s resurrect an old concept: Father and Mother Know Best.

Patricia Dalton is a clinical psychologist at Paul Anderson Family Strong Center in Vidalia, Ga.

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Feb 17, 2016

Be Careful; Don’t Hook Yourself

When I was a small child, my dad looked for ways to spend time with me.  One of my fondest memories involved us going fishing together.  He carefully taught me to tie a fisherman’s knot, so the fish hook wouldn’t come off the line.  However, I wasn’t exactly skilled with the long fishing pole; in fact, he often said I was dangerous.
I can still hear him warn me, “don’t hook yourself!  I was quite a hazard, not only to myself, but to anyone who happened to be nearby.
Occasionally when people speak of forgiveness they say “I let them off the hook.   When I hear that I can’t help but think of my Dad’s admonition, and forgiveness takes on a new definition.  Maybe we should say just what my dad said – “Don’t hook yourself.
I used to think that to forgive someone meant I was willing to accept the consequences of that person’s harmful or hurtful actions toward me, and not hold a grudge.
While forgiving others does release them from responsibility for my pain, it also unhooks me from the emotional and physical damage that a long-standing resentment can cause.
Christ’s words in the Gospel of Matthew 6:14-15 states, “if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
These words force us to make a decision.  Will we choose to forgive, or will we keep ourselves and others “on the hook?  Forgiveness isn’t always easy and certainly takes practice.
Kevin Williams
Mentor and Life Coach

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