Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Guest Post: Busy Firefighters Teach Fire Safety, Too!

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Fire Prevention Week

Did you know this week is Fire Prevention Week?! In honor, here is a guest post from Firefighters’ Busy Day author, Maria Bostian.

As Firefighters’ Busy Day shows us, today’s firefighters have lots of important jobs to do. Not only do they train for emergencies, respond to calls, and fight fires; they teach people how to be safe.

This week, busy firefighters all across the county are teaching people about fire safety. It is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA), Fire Prevention Week which is a popular time for firefighters and families to talk about fire safety and escape planning. This week’s theme focuses on the importance of a quick response to a fire emergency. In home fires, deadly smoke and fire can spread in a matter of minutes. That is why it is important to develop a plan and put it in to practice. As the theme reminds us, every second truly counts!
 

Fire safety tips:

  • Having Two Ways Out of every room in your home may include using windows as exits. Windows? Yes, windows.
  • Make sure your family can open the windows in your home. Are they painted shut? Is heavy furniture blocking them so that someone can’t get out? If you find any hazard that prevents someone from opening their window, be sure to correct it as soon as possible.
  • Also remember that the door most often used, may not be the quickest or safety door to go out during an emergency. For example: If a fire starts in the front of the home, it may be safer to use the back door or a side door to get outside.
  • Where should you go once you get out? That place is called The Meeting Place. It should be a safe distance away from the home and should be where the firefighters can find you. It should be something permanent like a tree or a mailbox; not a car, a kiddy pool, or something else that can be moved or put away for the season.

Every Second Counts so create a plan and practice it often. At a minimum you should practice it twice a year: once during the day and another time at night.

Why don’t you make your plan and practice it this week? Think of it as your Fire Prevention Week homework! When you do, snap a photo and send it to us. Ambassador International would love to show others the steps families take to be “fire safe.” Help us saturate social media with pictures of meeting places, escape plans, two ways out, people checking their windows, etc. Together, we can remind others that EVERY SECOND COUNTS!

To learn more about firefighters and fire safety, download the free coloring sheets from Maria Bostian’s Firefighters’ Busy Day. And feel free to hop over to her blog at www.mariabostian.com for more escape planning and safety information.

The High Calling of Motherhood Blog Tour Day 1

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I was so glad that I was able to read The High Calling of Motherhood and am excited to introduce it to you today. This was a book that went straight to my heart. As “Mom” to a 7-month old son, I’m still knee deep in the midnight feedings, teething pains, sleepless nights, you-name-its, and am finding that motherhood can be hard. But alternately, I’m finding that motherhood is one of the most beautiful things I’ve faced to date. To watch my son learn and explore and to “see” things through his eyes, it’s amazing. And to add in the kisses and the smiles he reserves for mama – or the way he snuggles up in my arms and he’s content and happy. I love those moments. But sometimes, it can hard to see the beauty through the hard times and that’s exactly what The High Calling of Motherhood helped me do.

What stuck out to me most was Chimene’s discussion over Judea and Jerusalem and how we, as mothers, are supposed to focus on “our Jerusalem”—our mission field {and in this context, that’s my child}. Chimene explains it so well in the book and you should read it for yourself to get a full understanding of this concept, but in essence, Jerusalem was the home base for the disciples—even if they were to go into the world—and our home base is our family and our home. She writes, “Our primary mission field is home base, first and foremost. This is a gift and honor. We have been chosen to share Jesus with our children. We are chosen and called to preach the gospel, first making disciples in our own homes. Just think of the exponential influence this intentionality could have when our children begin making disciples of their own!” I love this concept of the ripple effect. It’s not a new concept and applies to so many areas of life, but when viewing it in light of raising my child to be a “World Changer” for Jesus, it’s such a helpful visual to have and I find it helps me have a better perspective.

Since I’m still knee deep in the baby stage, I haven’t had the chance to put much of that into practice, but I appreciate that I have this advice in mind now before heading into these prime child-rearing years and admit to highlighting a lot of points in The High Calling of Motherhood! It’s a book that I think I will reference many times over the next few years and a book I think is good for every mother to read—no matter what stage of life you’re in. There is SO much more covered in the book than what I covered in this introductory review, but I want to save some so you have a reason to read the book yourself! I’ll leave you with this, my favorite quote from the book that goes along with the previous concept: “The greatest place of influence is a mother in the home. If we can reach the mom, we can reach the family. If we can reach the family, we can change the world {emphasis mine}.”

You can pre-order your own copy of The High Calling of Motherhood at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ambassador’s online retail store  {use code “HighCalling” entered at time of purchase for a 10% pre-order discount}.

Don’t forget to enter The High Calling of Motherhood “Winner’s Choice” blog tour giveaway. One winner will be chosen and will get to choose between a custom made “World Changer” necklace by The Giving Keys {that is being unveiled at the Passion4Moms conference} or two tickets to attend the Passion4Moms conference being held in DC, May 5-6, 2017. Enter below!

Giveaway

The High of Calling of Motherhood Blog Tour Giveaway

The High Calling of Motherhood

Love Him Anyway Blog Tour Day 1

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LHA-BlogTour

 

As the Chief Operating Office of Ambassador International, I don’t get to decide which books we publish, instead I have the joy of helping our authors and their books as they make their way through the publishing process. One of my favorite parts of my job, though, is the proofreading that I get to do. It helps me keep up with what we’re publishing.

I am honored to be opening the blog tour of Love Him Anyway by Abby Banks and to share with you my heart on this book. Here’s where I have to fully confess first. When I first started the {proof}reading of Love Him Anyway, I found myself thinking, Why are we publishing this book!?!? {Sorry, Abby.} The second thought that trailed not too far behind was, How am I supposed to get people to buy this book?!?! {Again, super sorry about that, Abby}. You should have seen me. Here I was trying to work, and instead I was a sobbing basket case. I couldn’t read through the tears pouring down my face! But as sad as I was, I had been “sucked in” to the story, and I couldn’t stop reading. Abby’s writing was so raw and real, she hooked me in. I am fairly certain I finished this proofreading in record time! And I can honestly tell you, I’m glad I did finish it and it’s a story that I now highly recommend.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but as you can find in the book description, Abby’s son, Wyatt, was paralyzed at 7-months old. {I am sure this book was especially hard for me to read because I’m “Mom” to a seven-month old son}. But this story isn’t just about Wyatt—it’s about the entire Banks family, and for me, it was a story about Abby, a fellow mom. As I read Love Him Anyway, I kept picturing the face of my baby and thinking, What if that had been me? What if MY son had become paralyzed? And this point here is what I’d like to focus on. What if it had been my son? Or, what if, instead of watching the livestream of a 5-month-old’s funeral from my living room {like I did yesterday}, I was the mom that had to stand there in the church, brokenhearted at my loss. I’m fortunate to still have my healthy, happy little 7-month old boy with me today, but I’m not guaranteed that, not even for the next five minutes. My boy belongs to Jesus first and foremost, and what Abby taught me through her story is to trust the Lord through the good times and the bad. It’s easy to say this from this side of the mountain, but my prayer is that if I ever face a trial like the Banks family, that I’ll respond as they did and cling to the Lord and “find hope in the hardest places.”

I was moved by Abby’s strength amidst the turmoil, and while she calls Wyatt her hero, I call her mine. She admits that their lives aren’t always easy and that she doesn’t always respond as she should, but that’s just a part of being human, and the overall theme you’ll find in Love Him Anyway is that the Banks family loves and trusts the Lord, despite of and through the trials they face.

You need to know in advance that Love Him Anyway is a hard read, especially if you’re a mom, but it’s such an encouragement and I highly recommend it—not because I’m the Chief Operating Officer of the company that published it—but because I believe you’ll get the same lesson from it that I did: Life may be hard sometimes, but God is good all the time and you can always find hope in those hard places. And sometimes, we need that reminder.

Love Him Anyway releases February 21, 2017 in paperback at all major retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christianbook.com. You can also purchase Love Him Anyway through Ambassador International’s online store and use the coupon code “LoveHim” for a 10% discount. Lastly, you can enter to win a free signed copy below.

And if you’re local, you can join the Banks family at the Barnes and Noble at The Shops at Greenridge on March 18th from 10am-12pm for a book signing. We’d love to have you there!

Win a signed copy of Love Him Anyway!

 

No matter where you get Love Him Anyway, just make sure you have tissues handy!

 

And stay tuned for Day 2 of the blog tour at rebelbookreviews.blogspot.com.

Preparing for Thanksgiving: Five Verses to Ready Your Heart

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This is the third in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of the new book Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

 

Psalm 100 is one of my favorite scripture to meditate on as we approach the Thanksgiving season. When I think about that first Thanksgiving I imagine the Pilgrims and Indians in 1621 gathering to thank God for a bountiful harvest.

Thanksgiving-PinterestBut long before that another group of people had set aside a time to celebrate God’s goodness. It was the children of Israel during the Feast of Booths. In the fall after crops were harvested, the people had a time of worshiping and thanking God for all He had done for them. They brought their offerings of Thanksgiving to the Lord. (Leviticus 23: 39-44)

Psalm 100 is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God that we can reflect on during this Thanksgiving.

Day 1   “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 100:1

Have you ever felt so thankful you just couldn’t keep quiet? Sometimes I just stand in awe of God’s handiwork in the things I see around me in His creation. Sometimes I just want to proclaim what an awesome God we serve! Everyone on the earth is admonished to praise His name because everyone benefits from God’s goodness! In Psalm 19:1-3 and Psalm 98:7-8 it says that all nature joins in to declare the glory of God and sing praises to His name. It is neat to imagine the rivers clapping and hills singing together for joy in praise to God.

Day 2 “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.” Psalm 100:2

There is joy in serving Jesus! We can all serve Him whether we are young or old. Offer to teach a Sunday school class or volunteer to take a meal to someone or go visit someone who is in need of a friend. And sometimes the hardest thing is to do it with a happy heart. Many times we do something because we know we need to…. but our heart isn’t really in it. Having a joyful attitude comes from loving God and reading His word and spending time in prayer. With happy hearts we can use the talents God has given each one of us for serving Him not just during the holiday season but each and every day!

Day 3 “Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who made us and not we ourselves; we are His people the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3

God is the very one who created us. He knows us better than anyone. He know when we all overwhelmed or discouraged with so many things pulling at us in a hundred different directions during the holidays. That’s when we go to Him as His sheep and lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:2) Find that quiet spot and sit beside the still waters talk to God. He loves us and will restore our weary soul! He cares for us like a good shepherd and for that I am truly thankful.

Day 4 “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. Psalm 100:4

We are so blessed in this country to be able to go to church and worship God freely. Being thankful for God’s love will show in our actions as we enter into worship and praise with others who love Him too. I love to gather together with my church family during Thanksgiving and hear testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness and mercy. Bless His name for all he has done for us!

Day 5 “For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness is to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

One of my favorite sayings is “God is always good and you are always loved”. What a great truth to know that the God of this universe loves us so much He was willing to send His Son to die and take the punishment for our sins. We simply have to believe and He gives everlasting life! (John 3:16) God’s lovingkindness is everlasting! He will love us forever!! And His faithfulness is to ALL generations! God daily loads us with so many benefits. God knows our needs and watches over us and never leaves us to fend for ourselves. He cares about us and will always do what is best for us. God is so good!

 

Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and a time to turn our thoughts to God and His word and realize how very blessed we are of Him. Every day is a gift that we have been given…..so every day (not just at Thanksgiving) thank Him and praise His name!

Preparing for Thanksgiving: Welcome an Attitude of Gratitude

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This is the second in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of the new book Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

I really enjoy our church Thanksgiving Eve service. My week has usually been hectic and I have a house that needs cleaned and food that needs to be prepared but nothing helps my “attitude of gratitude” more Thanksgiving-Pinterestthan this night! Everyone enjoys homemade pie and then we have an informal time of singing and testimonies. It is good for me to hear others thanking God for what He has done in their lives over the last year. For some it has been a difficult year with pain and sorrow but they are still praising God and that is so encouraging. Sometimes it is a child who gives a testimony and it doesn’t get much better than childlike faith! I always go home feeling blessed and thankful for my church family! If you don’t have a Thanksgiving service at your church maybe you can make a list of the ways God has been good to you over the last year. Then have your own testimony time by thanking Him for all He has done!

We can also welcome gratitude to God for all He has done and provided for us by doing something special for others! We have so much to be thankful for as Christians. We have a God who loves us and has provided a way for us to have a home in heaven through Jesus Christ. When we place our trust in Him we receive eternal life. We enjoy the freedom to worship God here in America. We also have warm homes to live in and an abundance of food to eat at our tables. Every day God has richly blessed us and that should make us willing to bless others.

Plan to take a traditional Thanksgiving meal to some elderly or needy people in your church or neighborhood. It would probably be easiest to plan your dinner before Thanksgiving. This is a great service for kids to be involved in. They will love helping and it is good for them to see that we love and care about others. You might also want to print out Psalm 100 and attach it to one of the food containers. Contact families ahead of time so they will know you are coming and be sure to spend a few minutes and visit with them as you deliver their Thanksgiving meal. I know it seems like a lot of work but everyone will receive a blessing!

And then there is Thanksgiving Day that we spend with family and friends. It might be the biggest test for our attitude of gratitude! Most people get together on Thanksgiving Day with those they love and friends they care about. We celebrate together on Thanksgiving Evening. If we know of a family who doesn’t have their family close we will ask them to come join us. Since some have already had turkey and stuffing and are a little “stuffed” themselves we just do appetizers. It seems to be a big hit at our house. I usually put out our Scrabble game and everyone is to make a word about something they are thankful for. Mostly the kids like to do it! Sometimes I have the grandkids draw something they are thankful for and we have to guess what it is! An active game time usually finishes or evening together. I am so blessed and Thanksgiving Day and every day is a good time to celebrate God’s goodness!

 

Preparing Our Hearts and Homes to Celebrate Thanksgiving

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This is the first in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of the new book Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

November is here and it makes me start to think about the holidays. I always feel bad because Thanksgiving it such a great holiday and it gets here so fast and then after one day….it’s over and Christmas bells are ringing. Just one day of thankfulness doesn’t do it for me. There is so much to see and do as we think about Thanksgiving approaching. How about taking the whole month of November to celebrate Thanksgiving with me?

Thanksgiving-PinterestStep into November by getting outside and looking for God’s goodness and bounty! His glory in creation can be seen everywhere in the fall! The trees are changing into a beautiful display of God’s canvas of red, orange and yellow! How about visiting a pumpkin patch or a farm during harvest of the crops. Take your kids or grandkids to an apple orchard and pick some crisp juicy apples. We live on a farm in rural Iowa so we get to see harvesting of corn and soybeans first hand. We also grow a ton of pumpkins for the grandkids to pick. God is so good to us! We have a few apple trees so one of our favorite traditions is picking apples and making fresh apple cider! Those times all makes me reflect on how good and faithful God has been to us throughout another year. Harvest time with the bounty He gives us through crops and food and nature’s beauty will help us prepare our hearts to thank and praise an Almighty God!

Try reading a Psalm every day during November! Every day is a gift from God so celebrate His goodness every day. Start with Psalm 100 and go through Psalm 136. Some are short so you will be able to combine a couple of chapters on certain days. I kind of think that the Psalms and Thanksgiving go together like turkey and pumpkin pie! Each day after you are done reading write down three different things you are thankful for so that you can look at them during the month and then read them all on Thanksgiving Day! Always be ready to give thanks to God for what He had done for us! God is always good and you are always loved.

One of the things I love to do every year in November is attend my grandchildren’s Thanksgiving program at school. It really makes me think about our 9781620205310country and how the first Thanksgiving Day was started. The Pilgrims came to America to be able to worship God freely. They set aside this special time at harvest to thank God for all He had done for them. (And it was probably more than just one day!) It is such a good example for us to follow! The pilgrims not only shared their food with the Indians but they also shared their faith in a mighty God. Our forefathers sacrificed a lot for the freedoms we enjoy today and for that I am truly thankful!

Well are you in? I hope you will start to prepare your heart all month long and this Thanksgiving may be the most blessed ever!

National Bullying Prevention Month: My Bullying Story

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Ambassador author Laura Taylor’s book EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies teaches kids how to biblically combat bullying. This is the final installment in Laura’s three-part series on bullying.

 

I really wasn’t planning on writing a children’s book. I spent years telling stories to my own boys. One of my younger sons, Evan, was wild about the fantastic tales of Nutty the Naughty Squirrel that I made up to help him go to sleep at night. Still, I’d never entertained the idea of writing a book for kids. I always wanted to write but thought my first adventure into publishing a book would be more along the lines of a women’s devotional.

Bullying-PinterestThat all changed about five years ago. My two youngest boys, Evan and Ethan had gone on a trip and brought me back a stuffed otter. Otter’s happen to be my favorite animal so they surprised me with this sweet gift. We were going through a very difficult time back then. And I named that little, stuffed otter EE Otter (short for Evan and Ethan) and told them I was going to write a story about him.

I didn’t set out to write a story about bullies, it just popped into my head one night as I was trying to go to sleep. EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies. It had a catchy ring to it so I decided that would be the title of my first manuscript. That’s good, right? To have a title? At least it’s a place to begin. And being a physical education teacher I had to deal with handling issues of bullying as they arose. And, beyond that, I was actually dealing my own situation involving a bully. It seemed as if the timing were perfect.

It was a quick start. I found myself lost and falling in love with the Laurel Wood and all of EE’s little forest friends. The first few chapters came easily and I was thoroughly enjoying writing this story. Then I hit a snag. I just wasn’t sure where the story was supposed to go. EE had his bully encounter, but now what? I did know one thing for sure, that this book was to center around God’s Word and how children can apply His truths to any situation in their life because His way works. I pondered using David and Goliath for the scriptural part, but that seemed too overused. I read various passages of scripture but none seemed to be the right direction for my little otter to head.

At the same time, the situation in my personal life was escalating. I was receiving emails, calls, and text messages with insults and veiled threats and I was getting fed up and angry. Yet this bully always managed to fly under the radar. I wasn’t able to get help in stopping this and I was sick with anger and anxiety over it. There were times I prayed those imprecatory prayers like David where I asked God to just deal out His justice upon my enemy. And times I cried out to Him to heal my hurt. There were times I fired back with an angry email or text. Yet healing seemed to be so far away and so did the conclusion of EE’s story. It was New Year’s Eve and my husband and I were at church. Seated in front of us was a family that I knew had been through experiences similar to ours. I had listened as the mother talked about forgiveness and healing. It was then that God’s voice spoke to me sweetly and very clearly. “I said to love your enemies, to bless those that curse you”. I really wanted to pretend I didn’t hear that! “But I am afraid, Father.” I replied. “This person has caused so much pain and destruction in my life, in the lives of people I love, if I let down my guard I can’t protect them, I can’t protect me!” He whispered, “Child, I created mankind. I created you. I know how the heart works. I know how life is supposed to work. That is why I gave you My Word as an instruction manual. What I ask of you is because I love you and I know how to make things
work for your good. My Word says that there is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear. I love you perfectly, Laura. So if I tell you to forgive this enemy, this one who has hurt you; if I tell you to bless this one who has cursed you, then I am telling you out of my perfect love for you. Do you trust my Love?”

It was then that I relinquished my hurt and my control over this situation. I realized that God’s word was truly Life for my living. It wasn’t a book of suggested “How To’s”, it was the essence for living well, for living life as He intended and commanded for me to live it. Forgiving didn’t come easy and the bully is not gone from our lives. Forgiving has been and continues to be a process for me, but as I learn to trust God’s love more completely it becomes easier. And as I marvelled at God’s ways, I became thankful that His ways are not my ways nor His thoughts my thoughts! I was thankful that His love was perfect and meant I didn’t have to fear doing that which He asked of me! And, in the midst this personal growing process I discovered the direction that my little friend, EE Otter would need to travel on his own adventure in dealing
with those old bullfrog bullies.

I don’t know what bullies you might be facing. I don’t know how daunting the task of forgiving someone may be for you. What I do know is that you have nothing to fear by following the words of our Savior, by putting His principles of living and loving into action. Trust His love. It has never failed anyone yet! May you be blessed and find rest in His perfect, unending love.

National Bullying Prevention Month: A Chance to be a Hero

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Ambassador author Laura Taylor’s book EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies teaches kids how to biblically combat bullying. This is the second installment in Laura’s three-part series on bullying.

Maybe you’ve noticed the way the girls turn their backs on her and laugh as she approaches her locker. Maybe you’ve seen the look of fear on his face as a group of athletes saunter up the hallway and one of them hollers, “Hey guys look who it is!” Chances are pretty good that , at some time, in some place, you’ve had a front row seat to a kid being put down, laughed at, intimidated, and hurt. In other words, you’ve seen bullying in action. And you did nothing. Maybe you were too scared to speak up. Maybe you didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Maybe you were already late for class and didn’t have the time to do anything. So it went on, one more time.

Bullying-PinterestAnd somehow you missed your chance; your chance to be a hero. That’s right! Yeah, like the one you used to pretend to be when you were just a little kid, cape and all. You know, the one in the movies and the comics. The one who stands up for the little guy. The one who speaks out against injustice. The one who does it, not because he’s trying to be a hero, but because he’s trying to do the right thing. Yeah, I know, he’s got all those super powers, right? And you don’t.

Yet the fact remains that you still have the chance to be a hero. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? You don’t have to have the cape and fly, be able to smash cars with your bare hands, or shoot heat rays out of your eyeballs. You just have to be you. Yep, you! The you who decides to stand on the heroic principles of right and speak out about what’s wrong. That’s it. All it takes is a commitment to what is right and the courage to stand up and speak out when things are wrong. Statistics (yeah, you maybe should have listened a little more in math class) say that bullies stop bullying 60% of the time when a hero like you intervenes. Think about that! Over half of the situations that occur where someone is being picked on and bullied actually stop! They cease when a hero like you steps onto the scene and speaks out about what is wrong. Now that’s heroic power in action! And, I don’t need to tell you that picking on someone is wrong. I don’t need to tell you that intimidating someone else is wrong. It goes without saying that posting nasty stuff on social media about someone is wrong; that hitting, hurting, or belittling another fellow human being for any reason at all is wrong ALWAYS!

You’re smart. You already know that stuff! But here’s the thing: knowing and not doing something about it, well that’s not smart. And like I said, you’re smart! And when you take what you know and apply it to what you do then you’re smart and strong! Sure sounds like the making of a hero, huh? And you know what else is cool? The more you stand up for others, the more you speak out against wrong, the stronger you actually become yourself! And what’s more, if Jesus Christ lives inside of you, then you’re already promised His power, His wisdom, and His presence when you choose to do the right thing!

So, the next time you see someone being picked on or bullied, stand up and speak out! Taking a stand and speaking out may look different than you might imagine. It may take the form of finding an adult that you can trust and ask for their help; or simply saying, “Stop picking on her!”; It may mean that you take the time to befriend the victim of bullying, or eat lunch at her table, or walk with him to class. A simple act of kindness can set off some serious ripples that can grow into waves that might just flood that whole school of yours!

Yeah, there are a lot of ways to stand up, to speak out against bullying, but you already knew that, didn’t you? Because there’s a hero right there inside of you! Inside of everyone of you! And how cool would it be if those who think your generation is just a bunch of selfish, mean spirited and entitled kids had to sit up and take notice because of the heroes, like you, who are choosing to make a real, everyday difference? How awesome would it be that you would be known as the generation of ordinary, everyday heroes who make an extraordinary difference and defeated, once and for all, the evil arch nemesis called Bullying!

National Bullying Prevention Month: Prevention Begins with a Change of Heart

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Ambassador author Laura Taylor’s book EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies teaches kids how to biblically combat bullying. This is the first installment in Laura’s three-part series on bullying.

 

October is many things. It is the month that ushers in the beauty of Autumn. It is blazing treetops, football games and homecoming queens, Harvest festivals and Halloween. October heightens our awareness of the beauty all around and about us. It is celebration and transition. It is the month that slowly prepares us for change as summer’s heat passes and winter cold is on its’ way.

Perhaps that is why October is the perfect month for something else. As we celebrate the beauty of God’s creation and embrace the inevitability of change that October signifies, it seems only appropriate that October would be the month chosen to heighten our awareness of the need for change regarding a very important social issue. October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Bullying-PinterestI am sure you’ve heard the stories, read the headlines, seen the statistics. You probably even have a story of your own. It’s not like bullies are new. No, they’ve been around since mankind decided in his heart that he could live life better apart from God and His love. And that is the heart of the matter of bullying. I could quote statistics about the numbers of kids that are bullied every year, but statistics aren’t always accurate. I wonder how many kids go home to parents who bully them but never tell; how many women are bullied by a boyfriend or husband but dare not breathe a word; or how many students hide away in the bathroom during lunchtime but won’t speak up and tell who they are afraid of? The important thing isn’t the numbers, because in my estimation, just one person being bullied by another is one too many! What is important is that behind every statistic, every victim and every bully is a heart. A heart that holds hurt, insecurity, fear, anger, violence. A heart that needs to hear and feel the love of a people who reflect the love of a Savior who himself knew a thing or two about bullies.

Where do we begin to address the issue of prevention to such a pervasive enemy? We begin with ourselves, we begin at our own heart level. As the month of October brings on seasonal transition and change, what if we allow it to begin to transition and change some of the attitudes that assist a culture of bullying. What if we stop saying that it’s just “boys being boys” or “ kids are just mean these days” , or “it’s just part of childhood”? What if, instead, we embrace the truths, the unchanging truths that Christ taught and expects His own kids to live by? The Maker of our hearts knows every nuance of how our hearts work, how hearts are connected to actions. Jesus addressed this very issue in Luke chapter 6. He said that it is from the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. Nowhere did he ever say it was okay for people to use their words
or actions to bully someone. Never did he justify manipulation or intimidation. He never entertained the idea that bullying was some sort of rite of passage for children, or for anyone. Prevention begins with change. Change begins at the heart level. Change begins when we check our the temperature of our hearts against the heartbeat of His Word. When we hide His Word in our hearts and teach our children, grandchildren, neighborhood children to do the same. When we decide that He really does know what He’s talking about when he tells us how to live our lives, love our enemies, and take care of those around us that is when prevention begins!

As the cool autumn season is upon us and the transition from warm summer sun to cool autumn days has us heading to the closet for that favorite hoodie to ward off the chilly autumn morning air, why don’t we check and make sure that we’ve clothed ourselves in the wardrobe Christ commanded so that together we can ward off the chilly sting of bullying and let our hearts produce the warmth of His love? “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. Above all, put on love the perfect bond of unity” Colossians 3:1214 (CSB)