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    5 Ways to Prepare Middle Schoolers for a New School Year

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    Brenda YoderOn Middle School Column

    As a parent of a middle schooler, both you and your child naturally have fears as a new school year starts. Common fears include:

    • Starting at a new middle school where many elementary schools come together.
    • Being with older children as an incoming sixth or seventh grader.
    • Learning how to undo a lock on a locker.
    • Getting to class on time.
    • Being with multiple teachers
    • Wondering if teachers will connect with your child.
    • Unresolved relationships from last year’s school year.
    • Bullying
    • Peer pressure
    • Hormones
    • Teen drama
    • Harder subjects
    • Friendships
    • Making sports teams
    • Fill in the blank________.

    Perhaps no other grade levels brings this amount of apprehension. How do you prepare your middle schooler (and you) for a new school year? Here are 5 tips to ease anxiety. 

    1. Embrace the new school year as a new opportunity. If your teen is starting at a new school where several elementary schools combine, use this as an opportunity for your child to make new friends.continue reading

    Living Spot Free in a Spotted World


    Rev. Jason Lane, Man Resumed Column

    Growing up on Sundays, after the morning service ended, I loved running out the doors of the church to play with my friends.  Without fail my mom would give me a stern warning not to play in the grass or I would get grass stains on my good pants.

    And without fail it seemed I did not listen!

    A few minutes later, I was in the church’s bathroom trying to get the grass stain off of my pants.  It never came out and as I walked near my mom she saw the stains and immediately gave me that look. You ruined those pants.

    While I was in the church building I was safe from the stains that could happen when I went outside to play.  Now that I am a parent I see my mom’s warning as a way to me clean and to keep me from staining my good clothes.… continue reading

    When Our Daughters Wrestle

    jennifer watson not good enough parenting teens daughters wrestle with identityBy Jennifer Watson

    She whispers, “What if I’m not good enough?”

    I hold my breath because I feel like someone has punched me in the stomach. I choke back the tears because I feel she is much too young to string words like that together. I remember feeling the same way growing up. It was a wrestle within trying to cover up and over-compensate for insecurities locked away in my heart. So, I wonder where on earth has she heard words like this and what can I do to assure her that she’s enough? The lie of “I am not enough” is the oldest trick in the book. We have all felt the weight of it.

    I wrap her up in my arms and call her “my baby” and I whisper prayers over her telling her life is not about performance.… continue reading

    My Marriage, My Legacy

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    Amber Frank: Out of the Ashes

    I just watched the funeral service for John Bonacorsi, my beloved pastor of 14 years. He passed after an 8-year bout with pancreatic cancer. I was unable to attend because he passed the Saturday before my husband and I took 26 kids to our yearly church camp. As I watched the service online and listened to his family share memories of this godly man, it made me think about my life. How well I am living it? Am I living like Pastor John did? Does my life, my marriage, my parenting, reflect the glory of the living God?

    Our pastors, John and Barbara, were so fun to watch and be around as they interacted with each other in their animated and loving way. I remember once asking Barbara if they ever fought, because I thought surely this incredible, loving couple who still, after nearly 50 years of marriage, had so much affection for one another, they must have figured out how to not argue!… continue reading

    Can debt free make life stress free?

    Can Debt Free debt free stress free mounting debt steve repak spend less save reduce debt family money matters

    By Steve Repak, the On Family Money Matters Column

    John 14:27 ESV “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

    Life is hard enough as it is but having to deal with debt along with raising your children will make life that much more stressful, on all of you! I had over $32,000 in credit card debt and that is not counting the other debt I had to deal with. Debt made my life much harder than what I could handle sometimes. To tell you the truth, I had nobody to blame except for myself but as soon as I started taking accountability for my situation and actually started making sacrifices by making smarter decisions with my spending, I started seeing real changes in my financial situation and also experienced a lot less stress as time went by.… continue reading

    This Thing Called Love

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    By Ann-Margret Hovsepian, Creative Connections column

    Without getting into politics and controversies, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all heard or seen the word “love” quite a bit lately. For different reasons, this happens every February, too, when Valentine’s Day rolls around. Thousands of songs, poems and books have been written about love. A quick search for “love” on Pinterest will bring up countless quotes about romance, marriage and sex. We hear these phrases all the time:

    • Love conquers all.
    • Love is all you need.
    • Love wins.
    • Love never fails.

    But how many people truly understand what love is? Do you? Do your teens? It can be tough to communicate the real essence of love to our children when the world tells them it’s this, that or the other. Song lyrics, TV shows, social media, peers, celebrities and even school teachers given them conflicting messages. Perhaps it’s time to connect with your teen and find out what his or her perception or understanding of love is.… continue reading

    5 Tips for Sibling Relationships During Summer Vacation

    Middle School parenting teens middle schoolers siblings sibling rivalry teen siblings sibling relationship brother sister brenda yoder
    Brenda YoderOn Middle School Column

    Summer vacation can be a great time, or one of frustration and fighting with kids at home. Add one or two hormonal middle schoolers, and sibling conflict is guaranteed. How can you help the natural process of sibling rivalry during the summer months?

    Middle School parenting teens middle schoolers siblings sibling rivalry teen siblings sibling relationship brother sister brenda yoder1. Give kids time and space apart.  You don’t need a big house to do this. Give your teen the space from younger siblings if they are irritable or moody. It gives both of them appropriate boundaries for their development and vice versa for older siblings who taunt younger ones.

    2. Give teens a reasonable amount of time to resolve the conflict before stepping in. It’s healthy for siblings to work out conflict. However, there’s a proper time for a parent to step in and say, “No more.” Even the best middle schoolers can taunt, aggravate, or abuse their power over younger siblings.… continue reading

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