At your service

This week we are talking about the love language:  acts  of service ….  Hmmm … Isn’t that the definition of a parent. 🙂   It does encompass quite a bit of our job. But as our kids get closer to become adults we can show them love by by teaching them how to do these “acts” themselves. I was not completely successful in doing this with my first born but luckily for my second born, I’ve had more experience! (You may be able to hear her saying “are you reading ANOTHER book?”)

“Love feeds children when they are little but teaches them to feed themselves when they are teenagers” p.104 “The 5 Love Languages of Teens” by Gary Chapman

Acts of Service is my daughter’s love language, so I learned a lot about her this week. Not just in filling her love tank but also in recognizing when she is showing love to me.

Filled tank example:

Katie was sick with influenza last week. On the first morning at home I brought her medicine upstairs to her room and she rolled back over in bed after swallowing it. I began gathering all the clothes and towels etc. scattered about her bedroom. My main focus was on sanitizing everything and not spreading the germs. I continued into her bathroom gathering trash and actually scrubbing the bathroom (after I uncovered the counters). As I think back on this, I realize that until 2 years ago in this Moms of Teens class, I did this on a regular basis. It was part of my regular acts of service in our house. But then I learned that I had to teach the kids to do it themselves and “let go” of micromanaging it. (mostly) or being annoyed by the lighter standards (okay..sometimes it still bugs me but I keep my mouth shut…but since she was so sick I wasn’t at all annoyed on that day). Anyway, my thought is that if I had continued to DO all the acts of service, they would have remained routine and wouldn’t have been filling her love tank, if that makes sense.

I finished the job, started the washing machine and set off for my own, unrelated Doctor’s appointment. While I was patiently waiting in the exam room and browsing through magazines…who am I kidding, I was scrolling through social media…do people even read paper magazines anymore….

I got this text:

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 10.25.54 PM

Wow! She filled my love tank with words of affirmation about me filling her love tank with acts of service!!!!  Cue the happy music!!

Fast forward to the next weekend when I had accept her loving me her way…

It was Valentine’s weekend! Not only did I hand out chocolates to any friend I saw but I had attached words of affirmation to each one!

I also left all the hearts and fun crafty stuff out in the guest room where my kids have gone in years past to craft a card for us, their parents…but apparently I had always nudged this activity. This year, there was no nudging of my son because he is in college, although I sent him a Valentine care package, which was not intended as a nudge and obviously not taken as one. Come Valentine’s day I had beautiful flowers and card’s from my husband and my Mom but no sign of recognition from the kiddos.  But guess what… I didn’t get teary or offended. I am confident in their love and I my tank was full from other authentic expressions I could clearly see. And here is the one that makes me laugh. My daughter and I were getting in the car to take a long (45 minutes each way is long to me) drive on the highway…with me in the passenger seat. And as we prepared, she told me with a smile that she made a special spotify playlist for the ride:



The title is hilarious, the thought is awesome! A perfect Act of Service that created a fun drive. With each new song that came on she was excited to see if I thought it was a good choice.


Those were my personal and current examples. Below are the highlights from the chapter and the bible verses I focused on this week using Jesus as my example of a servant.  As I meditated on the verses and prayed them, another thought came to me as I was feeling the burden of some hard prayer requests for others….Prayer and bearing one another’s burdens is an act of service as well. Thank you Jesus for your example to us.  

Jesus is our example 

Galatians 5

13 My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love. 14 The whole law can be found in a single command. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

John 13

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Mark 9

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Mark 10

42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


The other things I learned from Chapter 6 in the book:

  • Service is freely given (desire to give one’s energy to others)
  • Manipulation is not love (by parents or teens)
  • Reciprocal Love:
  1. Modeling and Guiding (through teaching and training)
  2. Helping your Teen’s sense of identity and independence (service in and out of the home)

Reflection Questions:

  1. Reciprocal love requires both modeling and guiding. In what ways do you model reciprocal love for your teenager? In what ways do you guide your teen to reciprocate love to you and others outside the family? When you were a teen, what examples of reciprocal love from your parents made you want to reciprocate love?
  2. Performing acts of service for those outside the family helps develop a teen’s sense of self-identify and independence. Have you fostered your teen’s desire to do acts of service outside the family and suggested ways your teen can learn such skills independent of your involvement?
  3. What acts of service from your parents clearly showed their love for you? Have you offered your own acts of service to reciprocate theirs?


Prayer:  (Fill in the blank with your teen’s name or your own)





There is a time for everything….except interrupting


Link to the video: welcome to my kitchen table: episode 1 (I’m not sure if this will work but the video is in the closed Facebook group Hope Moms of Teens)

I was relaxing in a yin yoga class a few weeks ago and our instructor, Amy, was describing the difference between the 2 Greek words for time. She said one was for the quantity of time and the other was for quality of time. She was encouraging us to be present in the moment and not focus on schedules.

This week’s chapter in the “5 Love languages of teenagers” was entitled “Quality Time”.

I felt lead to investigate the greek words further. According to Wikipedia:

Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens.

Ahhh….Kairos, I remember that was the name of the prison ministry in Texas that I made molasses crinkle cookies for years ago. I still have the recipe but I never knew what Kairos meant. I thought it had something to do with prison. Maybe it is related to “doing time”.

Anyway, I decided to see what the bible had to say about kairos. In a resource book called Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter, I found some great info and bible references:



The  following verses stood out to me as I prayed that God would teach me through this word in His Word!

Romans 5:6  “At just the right time Christ died for ungodly people.”

What a perfect place to start. The foundation of our faith. That Christ died for our sins! And God was intentional in His timing. He has a plan. And it has a time. Not just a chronos but a kairos.

Acts 3:19  “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

We are instructed to repent, to take action… and to turn to God in our sin. That may not sound like fun….but look… He not only has the power to forgive but to wipe out our sin. I am reminded of the first time I heard this visual of wiping a slate clean.

I was doing my first biblically based parenting book group study. A neighbor had asked me if I was interested. She had arranged for a babysitter to come to her house and watch our children and we would meet next door at my house. ….without kids! I loved my babies but was excited to be refreshed by discussing a book with adults!

There are so many examples of how God worked on my hard heart and skeptical attitude through this group but the example for today is about the clean slate. One Mom shared with us that she had had an abortion years ago. When she became a Christian, she repented and was forgiven. But a few years later she was filled with shame once again and confessed this sin to the Lord again. She felt in her soul that God was saying “what are you talking about? what abortion?” Through the mystery of Jesus’ death on the cross, her since was already forgiven and the slate was clean! There was no record of this wrong. She was free! Free to move on. without shame!

I sat there quietly listening. Perhaps someday I would be free and refreshed as she had been. My heart softened a little that day as a spark was lit. Hope of my own kairos of forgiveness and refreshing.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11     

“1 There is a time for everything.
There’s a time for everything that is done on earth.
2 There is a time to be born.
And there’s a time to die.
There is a time to plant.
And there’s a time to pull up what is planted.
3 There is a time to kill.
And there’s a time to heal.
There is a time to tear down.
And there’s a time to build up.
4 There is a time to cry.
And there’s a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad.
And there’s a time to dance.
5 There is a time to scatter stones.
And there’s a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug.
And there’s a time not to hug.
6 There is a time to search.
And there’s a time to stop searching.
There is a time to keep.
And there’s a time to throw away.
7 There is a time to tear.
And there’s a time to mend.
There is a time to be silent.
And there’s a time to speak.
8 There is a time to love.
And there’s a time to hate.
There is a time for war.
And there’s a time for peace.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Wow…these verses have A LOT of kairos!

In light of love languages, I wanted to touch on 2 in particular:

5b  There is a time to hug. And there’s a time not to hug.


a post to our Facebook group


Last week we discussed the language of physical touch. Teenagers need about 20 touches from their family/ day! And the more they are touched lovingly (to include rough housing, playful elbowing etc.)  at home, the less they will seek it elsewhere.


But we also read that timing is important. Watch out for body language, bad moods, or public places. These fall into the the second sentence of the verse.



This photo posted by a friend is a good example of “when not to hug a teen!”




7b There is a time to be silent.  And there’s a time to speak.

This was completely part of the quality time chapter in respect to conversation. And personally a big challenge for me. (surprised huh?)

Tip #5 is “Refuse to interrupt”. It says that “research has indicated that the average individual listens for only seventeen seconds before interrupting an interjecting his own idea – parents might even be quicker than that.”    This was the tip that I attempted to follow this week. Progress is slow!!

This particular paragraph was enlightening to me:


But….but… but I love to give unsolicited advice to my kids!! I had to give up giving it to my husband when we listened to “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” on a car trip many years ago…it was on cassette tapes. My kids might not know what those are but they know what UA is…. our code for that awful Unsolicited Advice!   They are becoming adults and part of treating them like adults requires some changes in us!


God’s kairos in prayer:Ephesians 6:18   ” At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all of God’s people.”

Kairos in prayer! Prayer by the power of the Holy Spirit!! Yes! Because in my own power I would most likely gloss over my sin and or be selfish in my requests or in the time of prayer. To acknowledge and ask the for the power of the Spirit is key! At ALL Times. And for me, to keep me focused. to be watchful. The last sentence is rich.

Always (that is a kairos word)

keep on (persevere)

for all of God’s people (not just yourself)

This week some of the Hope Moms (and one adorable baby) came over to watch “The War Room”.

This is an incredible movie about the power of prayer. And it centers on the war room, which is a distraction free closet! A space to spend time with God and pray and read His word. In the movie they had prayer requests and verses all over the wall. I haven’t cleaned out any closet yet but it wouldn’t be a bad idea.


The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman:  Chapter Five

Love Language #3: Quality Time

Topic Outline:

  • Be There, Really Be There
  • Quality Conversation: Asking and Listening, Tips: maintain eye contact, don’t multi-task, Listen for feelings, Observe body language, Refuse to interrupt, Ask reflective questions, Express understanding, Ask permission to share your perspective. Learning to Talk to a teen: Speak in “I” statements, Teach instead of Preach, Offer Reasons
  • Quality Activities: Be involved in everyday activities, Create environments for QT: choose events they like or a trip that interests, let them help in planning. Recognize their need for friends.



  1. Have you heard your teen say, “You’re treating me like a child”? As a parent, have you transitioned from viewing your teen as a child to who they are now? Does your view and investment of quality time now meet the needs of a teenager?
  2. As a teen, did you feel your parents really listened to you? How might they have improved as listeners? As a parent, do you take steps to ensure quality listening and dialog?
  3. Do you remember a time when your father or mother set aside time to do a special activity with you? What did that communicate to you?
  4. Most teens have growing interests. Determine to dialog with your teen to learn how you might spend quality time with your teen in ways that will advance their own interests.
  5. Pick one of the creative ideas from end of the chapter, pp.92-94, to implement this week.


Here are some of my favorite kairos times with my kids:

  • walking in the neighborhood in the evening (or on the beach when we lived there)
  • vacations especially when we plan it together
  • volunteering together
  • weekend trips to other cities or on college tours. As my kids say “Mom loves a good city!”
  • playing “least favorite/most favorite part of your day” at dinner
  • spending time in the car
  • watching or going to sporting events together. I became a Redskins and Grizzlies fan to bond with my husband and kids. (apologies to my hometown of Pittsburgh). We even facetimed our son into our family room when watching the Redskins during his first semester at college.
  • and the ever popular…..sitting in the Emergency room??? ;-( …


I’m sure there are plenty more and I could dig up photos but it is now time to make some dinner for the hungry family.

I hope each of you enjoy kairos with your peeps!




“Words” of affirmation and encouragement


Words of affirmation is the topic for this week.  From the suggestions of how to affirm our teens at the end of chapter 3, I had an awesome revelation…. photos can be “words”… I knew photos were a love language!

So I started to contemplate the definition of a Word. And I was taken back about 13 years. I was new to bible study. I was a believer and thirsty to understand the bible. The women’s ministry director and bible teacher at the church where I was attending a bible study, took me under her wing. well… really…she invited me into her office. In fact, she invited me to come to her office once a week in the evening while my young kids were attending a children’s program. She personally was going to discuss the book of John, chapter by chapter with me. I sensed that this was unusual treat. God connected Jere and I and she made a huge impact on my life. In terms of love languages…it was an amazing amount of quality time she invested in me. 

The very first meeting, we began at the beginning!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

And the first thing Jere asked me was “What is a word?” I immediately felt like a student and I came up with “a way to communicate.?” And the teacher said “good answer”. Oh I felt relief, maybe I could study the bible! Below is a  photo of my first study bible and you can see my notes. Jere explained that Jesus was God’s way to communicate to man in our own language!

Jesus was the Word! Can’t get much better than that in a definition.




In “The five love languages of teenagers”, chapter 3: words of affirmation, author Gary Chapman suggests 3 categories of affirmation:

  1. Words of Praise

  2. Words of Affection

  3. Words in the Presence of Others

We discussed some of these questions from the author:

  1. Discuss the “love tank” metaphor. Have you ever had an empty love tank? What happens when parents and their teen’s love tanks are full? What is the fallout when they are empty?
  2. How have your words of affirmation provided support for your teen? Why is this love language so effective with your teen?
  3. Can you remember a time when you neglected to affirm your teenager after a noteworthy accomplishment? If you had it to do over, how differently would you handle that opportunity?
  4. What kinds of affirming words best fill your teen’s love tank? What kinds of responses do you receive from your affirmations?

As I took a second look at this post, I was overwhelmed when seeing myself on the stool as the “teacher”. With God I will always be a student but I am amazed that He has used this woman full of questions and doubts and has molded and pruned me in so many ways. Called me out of my comfort zone when I didn’t feel worthy… when I look at this collage I see the fruit of His work in me. Thank you, Lord.

I began to think about my love tank and I realized that I cannot always expect my family to keep my love tank full.  In so many ways God keeps my tank full.

These are words of affirmation that I felt were like love notes to me from our heavenly Father.  

You are loved. (Romans 5:8)

You are known. (Psalm 139:1)

You are not alone. (Zephaniah 3:17)

You are chosen. (1 Peter 2:9)

You are wonderfully designed. (Psalm 139:13-14)

You are free. (Galatians 5:13-14)

Your efforts are not wasted. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

You are made for good works. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are valuable. (Luke 12:23-25)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(super side note: this is the first time a tried streaming photos in a post 🙂 )

“Words of Affirmation” is my primary love language. It is not the primary one of either of my teens so not all of these ideas worked for them but I shared them in class. Another great idea that was shared was to put notes in student’s lunches.


This is my daughter’s bathroom counter. (Yes, I allow her to leave all her stuff out and uncapped, because she likes it that way and it isn’t an issue I need to have control of or enforce my way…I bite my tongue…ouch) I love that she has a verse on her white board…it just now struck me… perhaps she put it there to help me hold my tongue when I see her mess! The other funny thing is that I framed the other verse years ago based on a suggestion by Shannon Milholland. On Wed. morning I asked Katie to carry down the frame with the encouragement so I could bring it to Moms of Teens as an example. Her reply “There is not a frame with words in it in my bathroom! I don’t know what you are talking about!”


My daughter’s LL is acts of service, so she often makes baked goods. I took a pic of her Valentine cookies and turned it into a Valentine card the next year.


This chapter recommended framing you child’s artwork. I have done that…it is the integral part of my decorating…really by default and because it is free and doesn’t require decisions 🙂  I didn’t want to bring framed art to class so I got these notepads from the desk. I love that they have artwork AND words! They were made by one of our Moms of Teens, Karen Clark when she was a Mom of elementary kids 🙂


I borrowed a few things from my daughter’s bulletin board to show in class. She has saved words of affirmation from her youth leaders. And obviously she appreciates photos as well. She often complains about my excessive photography but she later orders her favorites. Teens appreciate most of our affirming “words” even if they act like they don’t like it!


Part 2 of class was continuing on with our prayer pattern. This info came from our Women’s Ministry Leadership Retreat and from Moms Leaders Prayer time with Abby Hamilton.

Prayer Pattern:

Father, you are GOOD – “Taste and see that the Lord is good” Psalm 34:8

I need HELP – “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

THEY need help – “Call to me and I will answer you.” Jeremiah 33:3

Thank YOU – “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

They Need Help

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

When God told Jeremiah these words, Jeremiah was in prison. God went on to describe how Jerusalem was going to be devastated. The men would not live against the onslaught of the Babylonians. God was allowing the destruction of wickedness. It would look like the Lord was rejecting the very people He chose (vs. 23). All would appear desolate. But, God was promising to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem. He was promising cleansing, forgiveness, peace and joy. There would be a return of the people praising God and giving Him thanks.

The great and unsearchable thing God told Jeremiah was that things were going to get worse before they got better.

What do we learn about God in this passage?

Things I learned about words of encouragement/affirmation from a recent, hard teen situation:

Many situations don’t resolve quickly but you can find … and give encouragement along the way.

Handwritten Notes have special meaning.

Take opportunities to encourage teens other than your own. Affirmation from other adults can truly show God’s love various situations. Sometimes their own parents are deep in the issue and can’t be encouraging at the time.

Pray! And if the opportunity presents itself, share that prayer (even if it is in the Kroger produce section).

What a joy it is to receive a note back, thanking you for your prayers and encouragement. (I totally wasn’t expecting it and was so pleasantly surprised that the note came on the coloring card I had given in the encouragement goody bag and it included a bible verse Isaiah 40:31)

———–>    Side Story:   When I sat down to look up the verse that she wrote in the card, my memory had the wrong address. I turned to Isaiah 41, probably because I had prayed one of my favorite verses for her and her Mother. verse 10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (the upholding in His hand is the most comforting image when I am fearful or dismayed/anxious)…. anyway….I thought she wrote 41:6 and I read it “They approach and come forward; they help each other and say to their companions, “Be Strong!”   This was not the verse she meant but I was overwhelmed that God was speaking to me. I had questioned whether or not to “come forward” in this situation. Sometimes, I would rather stand back and pray and not act. But God continued to prod my heart to drive to their house unannounced and offer encouragement, no judgement, love, hugs and prayers…and a goody bag 🙂   Now, here was God…speaking to me and saying He had directed me and to Him goes the glory. I am so grateful for the Word that speaks to me. The Word…Jesus IS the Word!

BTW: The verse she referenced was actually 40:31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.”  which was perfect for her in her recovery!



How do you pray for others?

A few suggestions on praying for others:

When burdened to pray for someone in need,

  • ask the Spirit what He is praying. Join the Spirit in His prayers.
  • Envision the loved one surrounded by the Lord’s character that is needed. Worship and thank Him for His work.
  • Pray Scripture for the person. (Prayers of Paul: Ephesians 1:17-23, Ephesians 3:15-20, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-12, 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, I Thessalonians 1:2-9)

Prayer Prompt from Philippians 1:9-11 (from Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter)

I Pray

  • That _____’s love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight
  • That _____may be able to discern what is best
  • That _____may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ
  • That _____will be filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ


A resource that I love is “Praying the Scriptures for your Teenagers” by Jodie Berndt

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the specific prayer categories. This is very helpful in praying for my teens and for other people’s prayer requests. Here is an example:



Wow, I covered a lot! No wonder it took me a few days! I am a bit WORDY!  XO, Melissa