Making Appearances: Your Daughter and Social Media


Your daughter stares into the screen of her phone, deeply engaged in social media. Many of the images are recognizable. The comments are personal. Some elicit laughter. Others hit a little too close to home. Still others leave her feeling uncomfortable and upset.

What your daughter may not realize is that the limited view of her friends via social media—shared for the world to see—are skewed, a little or a lot. As friends share flattering photos and make enviable remarks, they give her the false impression that everything in their world is ideal. They may be “making an appearance” before their peers, attempting to build themselves up, to appear a certain way. 

The result? Your poor princess ends up feeling inferior to or resenting her friends, whose goal may not have been to intentionally hurt anyone but merely to look good to others. In other cases, friends may share suggestive images or inappropriate content to seek negative attention and end up causing even further hurt as a result. In still other cases, so-called friends may attempt a direct attack against your daughter, using social media as the means for cyberbullying.

Research reveals a direct correlation between time spent on social media and negative feelings of self-worth, especially among growing girls, who often struggle with confusion and uncertainty regarding their changing appearance, their acceptance by peers, and their very identity. Researchers from the School of Psychology at Flinders University in Australia surveyed more than 1,000 adolescent girls. Dr. Amy Slater reported, “Our findings demonstrate a worrying correlation between excessive media use, particularly social media and the internet, and lower self-esteem, body-esteem and sense of identity and higher depression” (Medical Daily).  

I’m not advocating a ban of social media for our girls (once we’ve determined that they are old enough and prepared to make use of it). So many excellent Internet-driven tools for connectivity, conversation, and education have the potential to powerfully and positively impact our children when used with discretion and when our children’s eyes are wide open to the potential deception and harm that can be found in them. 

You have the opportunity to let social media be a great teaching tool for your daughter.

  • Be the mom. Set limits and explain them clearly; define appropriate and inappropriate use and provide clear-cut guidelines as you also educate yourself about the latest trends in social media.
  • Alert your child to the very real dangers that exist. Don’t mince words. If you’ve determined that she is ready for social media, then she must also be ready to understand the inherent dangers: Internet pornography, sexual innuendos, crude language, cyberbullying, and other vices exist across cyberspace. Help safeguard her by providing ample information, for her protection. 
  • Pray for and with her, asking God to guard her heart and guard her eyes: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways” (Psalm 119:37). 
  • Establish a level of care and trust so she knows she can approach you with concerns and every possible scenario that may appear before her.
Your daughter is “making an appearance” before her peers when she sports her first smartphone, when she sets up her first Facebook page or Instagram account , and every time she texts, posts, pins, or tweets (or whatever term the latest social media uses to define sharing something across cyberspace!).

 What kind of appearance will she want to portray? 

  • Help her to think carefully about the image she wishes to project, about how she wants to represent herself publicly.
  • Encourage her as you remind her of her true identity as a godly girl. The image she projects doesn’t have to try to impress because she is made in the image of God.
  • Share God’s Word of truth, which tells her that she is being transformed into Christ’s likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). With God’s help, her every appearance before others can be a reflection of Him by her character, as she chooses to reveal it.
What an opportunity! As she shares images of herself, words, interests, video clips, and more, she is free to express her unique identity as a chosen princess of the King, a redeemed child of God in Christ Jesus.


(This post first appeared on the Concordia Publishing House blog - click here to view.)

Scripture: ESV®.  Portions excerpted from Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.

Stepping Out from Behind My Secret Stash of Masks


I have a secret stash of masks that I keep handy for all those times when, for a variety of reasons that you will soon know, I am feeling particularly prideful. Yep, that's right. Prideful. (Sigh.) My assortment of masks does a nice job of concealing the truth that lies beneath them. So I slap them on as needed.

When life decisions, large or small, need to be made, pride would have me say, “It’s my decision. It’s my life. I’ll live it however I want to.” That’s when I slap on my In–Charge Mask. Sporting this mask, I try to convince myself and others that I can take the driver’s seat, make all my own decisions, and operate under my own power regarding everything from relationships to finances, from my career plans to my moral and ethical choices. Oh, and by the way, when I am wearing this mask, pride has me believe that I am never wrong. After all, a go-to gal like me, in charge of her own life, could never make a mistake. Right?

On other occasions, when a loved one or a trusted friend asks, “How have you been, Deb?”, instead of revealing the truth (which might sound something like, “I’ve been struggling lately”), I slap on my I’m-Fine Mask. You know, the one that gives the impression that everything is just great. “Couldn’t be better.” Why? The difficult truth stares me in the face (under that mask, of course): Pride. Again. Oh, sure, I can justify my answer: “Oh, I don’t want to bother them. They have enough worries of their own.” The truth is, though, that I don’t want them to see me in my weakness. Yep, that is a pride issue. To admit that I am struggling with something—anything—is to admit weakness, dependency on others, or the need for help. And I don’t need help. Right? I can do it all on my own.

In similar situations, I want to have all the answers—at church, at school, at home. As an example, when attending a Bible study, I want to give the right answers, should someone ask. So I slap on the Answer Mask, the one that lets everyone think that I am super knowledgeable, that they need only look to me for a quick answer. Ouch. Does pride keep me from learning from and listening to others? And does it inhibit others from answering or sharing? Could it even keep me from attending Bible study or another learning opportunity because I don’t want to reveal my lack of understanding or inability to answer? Maybe.

What mask should I wear for those times when I drive by another car and think proudly, “Look at that old jalopy; mine is nicer than theirs”? Or when I stare at someone’s lack of fashion sense or poor hygiene, their addictive habits or embarrassing behaviors, and say smugly under my breath, “Well, at least I’m not that bad”? For these proud moments, there is the ever-popular Better-Than-You Mask. Because I am just a bit better. Aren’t I?

Every mask attempts to conceal some important truths — and they are more than a bit humbling:

• I am not in charge of my own life, and I do make mistakes.
• I am weak, and I could use some help.
• I don’t have all the answers.
• I am no better than the next person.

Jesus Steps In

The truth is that God is the Lord of our lives, and we are not. In our sinful pride, we fail to follow His leading. We put our trust in ourselves instead of in Him. We think we know better than He does. On our own, we are stuck in our selfish sins. It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that we can confess our sins of pride and ask Him to show us where and when we are too full of ourselves. With repentant hearts, we surrender our pride, yield our lives to His lordship, and humble ourselves before our God. In His limitless mercy, He washes us clean in Christ, covering these countless sins with His pure and perfect forgiveness. Because Jesus steps in, it is possible for us to step out of our pride, to lay aside the masks that caused us to try to conceal the truth from ourselves.

Humility begins as He enables me to recognize my proper place in relation to my Maker. No longer do I trust in my ways and my desires, but in His. Humility does not selfishly ask, “What do I want to do today?” but “Lord, what would You have me do today?” and then seeks His Word and follows His lead. Humility is putting God in His proper place as Lord of my life, and me in my proper place at His feet. Good-bye, In-Charge Mask! 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).

As the Lord enables me to recognize my helplessness and accept my weaknesses, I learn reliance on His power and on others’ help. It is humbly freeing to admit to another Christian, “I am struggling and would like your prayers.” Farewell, I’m-Fine Mask! 

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

My Savior helps me to accept a position of humility, where I listen and learn from others. He gives me an appropriate perspective in which I can say things such as, “I don’t have it all together, but I trust the One who does.” And, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will try to find out from someone who does know, and then I will get back to you.” Adios, Answer Mask! 

“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23).

God gives me eyes to see His other children as He sees them: loved and valuable and—just like me—in need of a Savior. He enables me to stop judging them in my pride and start loving them by His grace. Bye, bye, Better-Than-You Mask! 

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3).

Make no mistake, the only reason we can lay aside our masks of pride and clothe ourselves with humility is because Jesus has stepped into our lives with His grace and forgiveness, filling us with faith. 


Thank you, Jesus! 

From Stepping Out by Deb Burma © 2013 CPH. Reprinted with permission

Savor This Season of Parenting

Consider how a young child lives in the moment, enjoying it for what it is, and emulate that attitude. Resist the urge to say, "Mommyhood will be so much easier when [you fill in the blank] is over!" (You might fill it in with anything from potty training to driver's education, from packing the diaper bag for her to packing boxes with her as she leaves for college or a career.)

When my children were very small, a dear mentor and friend of mine listened to my woes. "Will this parenting thing ever get easier? It just has to get easier!" I cried. The words came tumbling from my mouth following several sleepless nights, when I wondered if I would ever accomplish more than cleaning up messes, folding laundry, and feeding little mouths. My friend's tender response was "Oh, Deb, parenting doesn't get easier; the difficulty is just different." She had loved every minute of her children's youth, but recognized the realities and the difficulties that were a part of each age and stage.

Don't be tempted to wish away the days, even the difficult ones. It's in the difficult days that we often learn the most. And what about the current schedule, activities, and commitments with your [son or] daughter that you may take for granted? Stop to notice and cherish the little things. 
Today will never come again. 
She will never be this age again. 
She will continue to change, maturing physically, emotionally, and spiritually, sometimes seemingly in the blink of an eye. 

Delight in each day with your daughter! Enjoy the present, and savor every season of parenting!



Don't wait for the weekend or holiday to spend a little one-on-one time with your daughter. Even a brief while in the evenings is significant. Suggestions: 

  • Create fun moments together. 
  • Spread out a picnic blanket in the middle of the living room floor. 
  • Trade back rubs, or give each other manicures. 
  • Go on an outing. 
  • Read a mom-and-daughter devotion, and receive the blessing and guidance provided through that nugget of truth for both of you. 

Live each day as though it is the last opportunity you have to impact her world for Christ: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

From Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.

Your Daughter's Life Story & Yours - Life in the Word

A small excerpt from Chapter Three of Raising Godly Girls, "Life in the Word, Part One - In the Palace".

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (emphasis added)

GOD'S LIVING AND ACTIVE WORD
With the turn of every page in these earliest chapters of your daughter's life story, you can trust that God continues to cover you with His grace as you raise her to be a godly girl, secure in her identity, which is found and formed in Christ.

With your gentle and guiding hand upon her life from the start, you'll watch your princess grow and change before your very eyes - sometimes noticeably overnight! - and you can trust that God will provide you with what you need to be fully sufficient for this most important task.

And what you'll need, first and foremost, is His Word - God's living and active Word (Hebrews 4:12).

Do you dream of how your daughter's life story will be lived out? If so, do you envision that it could be one lived in the Word? And what does "life in the Word" even mean? It refers to more than intentional time spent reading and studying the Bible; it's also about life lived by it (although time spent regularly reading God's Word is foundational and a large portion of what I address [in this chapter]).

Every moment of every day, by God's grace, you can treasure His Word in your heart and teach it to your children by your words and example. That intentionality begins at home in your palace, under your royal roof, of course (as we read in Deuteronomy 6:7: "when you sit in your house...")...
DON'T CONFORM - BE TRANSFORMED!
Life in the Word is a life of dependence upon God. And that flies in the face of modern-day culture, which attempts to train us and our children to be self-made people, kings and queens of our own destiny.

I recently read a Facebook post that told me I should not wait for a prince to ride in on his white horse to rescue me from my struggles or my sins because I can be my own savior-of-sorts. The words turned my stomach. Each of us is in desperate need of a Savior, and we certainly won't find it within ourselves or from some guy riding a horse.

The truth is, there is only One who can save us: Christ Jesus, our Prince of Peace, is our Rescuer. Our Savior. And this truth is at the center of God's Word of life. That's why life in the Word is critical.

The Word reminds us, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). 

While the world may tell your daughter that she doesn't need the Bible and attempt to lure her into believing the Bible is outdated or irrelevant or merely the words of man, you know better. And you're teaching her the truth as you sit together in your house, reverently talking about Jesus and guiding her into the Bible over and over.

Show her by your life that you are dependent upon God for everything. Then trust Him to work in her heart and yours, as He transforms you both through His Word, the very means by which you may discern His "good and acceptable and perfect" will!

From Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.

Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal ~by Sharla Fritz

This post is part of the Soul Spa blog tour of which I am part.

A spa for the spirit - just what I need! So often, I am stretched thin by too many demands for my time and attention, in desperate need of some soul care. Author Sharla Fritz's Scripture-filled new book is providing just that - the opportunity for spiritual renewal that I've been craving! Through rejuvenating spa analogies, Sharla offers creative, invigorating ideas for soul care - Spiritual disciplines - to meet with the Savior, to grow in intimacy with God. Each time I sit with Sharla's new Bible study, Soul Spa, I am refreshed and energized, even eager to meet the demands of my days. 

Do you need a place to rest your heart? Come to the #Soul Spa. Learn how to care for your heart in this new book by my friend and fellow CPH author, Sharla Fritz! Sharla was gracious to share her heart with me in the following Q&A.  Put up your feet & enjoy!                ~Deb Burma

Q: What inspired you to write Soul Spa

A: Just like many of you, I’m a woman who wears many hats. In my crazy busy life, I felt pulled apart every week. My spirit was tired and worn. I knew my soul needed the care only the Savior could provide, yet I continued sprinting through my days, not paying any attention to my soul’s cry for help. Finally, after years of ignoring my spirit’s need for rest and restoration, I decided to change. I began to learn how to bring my exhausted, fatigued, and shattered soul to the God who alone can restore it. I studied holy habits that Christians have used for centuries to draw close to the Savior. As I explored these practices, I found that they opened my heart to God’s working in my life. They gave Him the time and space for Him to restore my soul. All of these experiences led me to write Soul Spa–a book that is like a spa for the spirit. 

Q: Share why you used a spa analogy for the book. 

A: At a spa you receive a massage, a facial, a pedicure. Experts use their skills to enhance your health, your beauty. They give. You receive. As I have grown in faith, I have realized that our whole Christian life is a life of reception. We like to think of spiritual growth like a gym. Just like twelve bicep curls a day will strengthen my arms, a few reps of Bible reading, Scripture memory, and prayer will make me a stronger Christian. But in reality, our Christian life is more like going to a spa. Through Bible reading, Scripture meditation, silence and solitude, and other Spiritual disciplines we put ourselves in a position to hear God’s voice and receive His love. He gives. We receive. 

Q: You talk about Spiritual disciplines in the book. What exactly are Spiritual disciplines? 

A: Spiritual disciplines are centuries-old practices that have been used by Christians who want to grow in their relationship to God. Some of them are probably familiar to many followers of Jesus: Bible study, worship, prayer, and Scripture meditation. Others are wellknown, but maybe not always considered a means to grow closer to God: silence, solitude, hospitality, authenticity, journaling. And some of the practices in the book may be new to the reader: Examen and Rule of Life for instance. The purpose of all the Spiritual disciplines is to open up uninterrupted time and quiet space to receive God’s gifts as He speaks to you through His Word. They are not magic in themselves, but they can be a way to open ourselves to God’s invitation to a profound and multifaceted connection to Him.

Q: Describe the book. 

A: The book can be used for personal study or as a group resource. Some of the features include: 

  • Eight week Bible study for personal or group use 
  • Devotional readings 
  • In-depth Bible study 
  • Exploration of Spiritual disciplines 
  • Unique spa analogy 
  • Memory verses
  • Discussion/reflection questions 
  • Creative ideas for spending time with God 
  • Ideas for creating a spa-like environment for group meetings 
  • Directions for creating a personal soul care plan.


Q: Are there any other resources available on this topic? 

A: Yes, I have created a Soul Spa Kit for readers who want more creative ideas for spending time with God. This kit has 59 ideas for creating your own spiritual retreat. You will learn the who, what, where, when, and how of soul care. There ideas for Scripture meditation, times of confession, and joyous praise. Included is a Soul Spa Planner to help you craft your own spiritual retreat. Simply go to my website: http://sharlafritz.com/ to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you will receive this free resource in your inbox!  

Sharla Fritz is a Christian author and speaker who weaves honest and humorous stories into life-changing Bible study. Author of four books including Soul Spa, Divine Design, Bless These Lips, and Divine Makeover, Sharla writes about God’s transforming grace. She is passionate about helping women take their next step of faith.           
Find out more about Sharla on her website: www.sharlafritz.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharlafritzauthor
Twitter: @SharlaFritz
Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal is available at CPH.org and Amazon.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

My Love of Writing & The Story Behind "Raising Godly Girls"

In my new Christian living book, Raising Godly Girls, I invite readers to lean into God's strong arms of grace as I share real-life stories and biblical truths to affirm mothers and encourage them as they teach their daughters to live as God's beloved children ~ princesses of the King of kings. Concordia Publishing House interviewed me upon the book's release. I'm blessed to be able to share this Q&A with you, that you may learn the story behind the book, my love of writing, and get to know more about Raising Godly Girls. (This Q&A first appeared on the CPH Blog [click here to view].) 

The author of several devotionals and her latest book, Raising Godly Girls, Deb is a mom, ministry leader, speaker, and women’s Bible study leader at Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Nebraska, where her husband, Cory, serves as pastor. We caught up with Deb to talk about her new book, mothering, and her love of writing. 
 
What encouraged you to write Raising Godly Girls at this time in your life?
This is a transitional time in my life as a parent. I’ve just raised my godly girl; many of our memories are as vivid as though they were made “just yesterday.” At the same time, I’ve been able to reflect upon Courtney’s childhood years with the clarity of hindsight, and she has been able to share openly with me as a young adult, recalling the details, feelings, and faith stories of her growing years. Walking beside other moms whose godly girls are still growing, I’ve been able to glean from them, as well, at this time in their lives.  
 
Did you have a book similar to this when you first became a mom?

Unfortunately, when I first became a mom, I did not possess a Christian resource like this. Thankfully, our church provided an engaging parenting Bible study series for new moms and dads. Like a sponge, I soaked up everything I could and also sought support and guidance through other Christian moms and directly from God’s Word. I endeavored to write the type of resource that I wished I’d had: a grace-filled book for moms, centered on Christ and our identity in Him, full of biblical guidance, practical advice, and relatable stories. Topics include identity, beauty and self-perception, media and peer influence, and purity. 

How do you write about something that is so personal (raising your own daughter) in a way that is also relatable to the many different moms who have read or will read your book?  
As I share from my heart to the heart of the reader, I relate personal stories and memories in the same way I would if writing a devotion: I share from life experience. A unique story can point to a universal message that may be applicable to every reader, on some level. Often, I hear moms respond, “I can totally relate with that!” They have their own unique stories and situations with their daughters, but the lessons learned or the biblical truths shared are often the same, and I elaborate on the life application of these lessons and truths far beyond the personal stories shared. 
 
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

My love for crafting words together began in early elementary school. I created manila-paper glue-bound volumes and began filling the blank pages of these homemade books. Many would-be novels were begun but never finished! Journalism was my first major in college, but I more fully realized my desire to be a writer when I began leading family ministry in 1998, followed by women’s ministry in 2002. Creating curriculum, dramas, devotions, and Bible studies fueled my passion for sharing God’s Word and the love of Christ through creative writing.

What keeps you motivated to continue writing? 
As I study the Word of God and prayerfully consider how I may share it with women, I’m motivated to keep writing! When I’m asked to create a new theme for a women’s retreat, I’m encouraged to continue crafting words together! And as I receive inspiring responses from women, I’m moved to continue writing, that Christ would be exalted through my words.  
 
What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect(s) of writing? 

The most rewarding aspect of writing comes in trusting the Lord to use my humble words to impact another person for Christ, though I may never know how a piece of my writing is shared or who will learn from it or grow through it. It’s also a wonderful surprise to receive a response from a reader who chooses to share how God is working in her life, as connected to something I’ve written. To Him be all the glory!
 
If you had to pick three books that are your all-time favorites, which would they be?
Armed & Dangerous: Praying with Boldness by Jane L. Fryar (click here)
I learned so much about prayer in this excellent Christian living book, shared in Bible study with other seminary wives during my husband’s years at Concordia Seminary. I’ve referred to it again and again.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (click here)
She creates a story set during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, with parallels to the Old Testament prophet Hosea powerfully conveying the truth that we are never beyond the reaches of God’s grace and the redemption that’s ours in Christ Jesus.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis  (click here)
I delighted in this and all the Chronicles of Narnia with my children. I especially loved the allegory to Christ in this children’s novel!
 
What piece of advice have you received that’s been most beneficial in your writing career?
The advice that’s been most beneficial to me, as shared by instructors of various writing classes is write what you know. It’s what matters to you. It’s what you’ve lived, experienced, and learned. Share it. Also, keep your audience ever-present in your mind as you write for them. Dr. Jane Fryar advised that good devotional writing is Christ-centered, anchored in Scripture, and relevant to life. Recalling these wise words helps me remain focused on the purpose and direction of my writing, as I pray that the Holy Spirit guides every word.

One more piece of basic writing advice that’s been beneficial to me is this: When staring at a blank screen or sheet of paper, begin with prayer. Ask God, “What truth do You want me to share?” Pray for His lead and specific direction, and ask that He would reveal His truth through the Word as you prepare.
 
Any new projects in the works? 
I’ve begun an expansion of my retreat theme, A Woman of Joy (based on the Book of Philippians), into an eight-session Bible study.
 
Is there anything else you would like to share about Raising Godly Girls or writing in general? 
From Raising Godly Girls: “Your daughter is a princess, the beloved child of the King of kings! She is God’s workmanship. And so are you. You are part of God’s master plan. He chose you to be the mother of a daughter . . . ”

By God’s grace, Raising Godly Girls will encourage moms to lean into God’s strong arms of grace as they influence and prepare their daughters for confident living as godly women in a secular culture.  


Deb's Mocha Truffles

Nothing compares to the melt-in-your-mouth flavor of these rich mocha truffles…or to the simplicity of the recipe. I serve them at Christmastime, Christmas-in-July (!), or any time I want to treat my chocolate-loving friends and family to a homemade confection that looks and tastes like a chocolate-shop specialty! 
I deliver these truffles to neighbors and newcomers, complete with A ChocolateLife devotion book, sharing God’s grace…and chocolate too!


DEB’S MOCHA TRUFFLES

Filling:
2 packages (12 ounces each) semisweet or milk chocolate morsels
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons instant coffee or espresso granules dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

Coating:
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
½ package (12 ounces) white/vanilla candy coating

Melt 2 packages semisweet morsels in microwave or double boiler. Add cream cheese and dissolved coffee or espresso; mix well. Chill until firm enough to shape. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Chill for 1-2 hours or until firm. Melt 1 package chocolate morsels and white candy coating in microwave or double boiler, stirring until smooth. Dip truffle-filling balls and place on waxed paper until firm. If desired, melt additional white candy coating and drizzle over truffles.