Raising a Four Year Old

January 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 2 Comments
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Four years ago today, with some trepidation and with my wife doing all the technical stuff, I posted my first entry on The Deep End. I thank the Lord for granting me the consistency to keep posting, and for the ways He has blessed it and used it.

Four years old is about the time when children start to accumulate lasting memories, so if I think of The Deep End as a four-year-old kid, then I pray that this will be a year of memorable impact. As a parent of actual children, I am a steward or a manager over them, and they really “belong” to God. I feel the same way about this blog. It belongs to God and He allows me to manage it.

As a parent, I have certainly had my share of ups and downs, and, frankly, it is one of my weakest spiritual areas. This initially made me reluctant to teach or post about parenting. I once heard a preacher say that, while we might prefer to teach about our strengths, it is not valid to withhold Biblical instruction in areas where we have experienced failure. After all, he said, I’m going to have to preach about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, although I’ve certainly never been crucified myself!

So, in honor of this anniversary, here are the links to previous posts under the category called “Biblical Parenting:”

1. Spending Your Retirement on Your Children
2. Naming Neighbors
3. Like Father, Like Child
4. What to Be for Your Kids
5. What to Do for Your Kids
6. What to Buy for Your Kids
7. Chuck E. Church *
8. This Big Light of Mine
9. The Know-It-Alls that Don’t Know Much
10. Don’t Let Distraction Lead to Division
11. The Raptor and the Captor
12. Hijacked Hearts
13. The Unbiblical Concept of “Teenagers”
14. A Snapshot of the Lord’s Adolescence
15. Pavlov’s Kids
16. Boys Will Be Boys, but Boys Should Want to Be Men
17. The Dangers of Fatherhood
18. The Early Bird Gets to Wait
19. Show and Tell
20. Fathers and Daughters
21. The Stones of Curiosity
22. The New Girl Arrives
23. How Many Sermons about Purity Do Boys Need to Hear?
24. Christ’s Childhood Preparation
25. When Is It Good to be Proud? (Spoiler Alert: Never)
26. Don’t be an Abusive, Angry, Absent, or Addicted Parent 
27. The Problem with Popular Parenting (Genesis 21:1-11; Ephesians 6:1)
28. The Problem with Pecuniary Parenting 
29. The Problem with Petulant Parenting 
30. The Propriety of Paragonal Parenting
31. A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy
32. Children’s Bible Catechism
33. Kingdom Teaching for Children
34. Our Kids Are Not Good Kids
35. Children Need to Know that Death Is Real
36. The Gross-Out Factor for Kids (Mark 2:16-17)
37. Even the Children (Psalm 148)
38. The Most Important Children’s Ministry Tool (II Timothy 3:15)
39. Don’t Teach Fables (Matthew 12:38-41)
40. Don’t Teach Feelings (Proverbs 28:26)
41. The Blessings and Hazards of Companionship (Proverbs 13:20)

* most-read post in category

Fathers and Daughters

July 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Parenting | 9 Comments
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I have three daughters. My experience with boys is very limited, but from what I can tell there are some big differences between boys and girls. If you are reading this as a father of more than one daughter, you may be able to understand when I say that girls talk a LOT. Counting my wife, I live in a house with four girls and it is a place of NON-STOP talking. During one supper at my house there are probably more words said than I’ve said by myself in the last 25 years.

 

Another big difference is that girls seem to be a little more emotional than boys. It’s not that boys never cry. I mean, a typical boy might cry a little – if it’s something serious like a broken leg – but only after looking around to make sure no one is watching. But a girl can cry for an hour over losing a button off her dress. And if her big sister sticks her tongue out at her – look out. Your stock in Kleenex just went up thirty points.

Another difference is that girls tend to be more insecure than boys. Chances are, when you had a daughter, you had to learn to spend a lot of time saying things like, “It’s okay, there’s nothing bad in the attic,” or, “don’t worry if they laugh at your hair, I’ll sue everybody in that school.” It’s just a fact of life: Daughters need to be comforted by their fathers.

The Bible has some guidance for how fathers are supposed to love their daughters, and I’m glad Proverbs 22:6 doesn’t say, “Train up a son in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 20:7 doesn’t say, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his sons are blessed after him.” It says, “his children are blessed after him.”

God has given us a great gift in our daughters, and they are fun, but they are not just for our enjoyment. We have a responsibility to do what Proverbs says and train them up in the way they should go.

Let me encourage you to make regular church attendance an important part of your daughter’s life. If your daughter sees that you make church a priority, she will do the same as she grows older, and the church is a great place for your daughter to experiment with different ways of serving the Lord, and find out which ways suit her best.

Training has to be more than just bringing our daughters to church, though. If we’re spending all our time serving at church ourselves, and just using the church to babysit for us while we do it, we’re making a big mistake. It is important for our daughters to know Bible stories, and the people in the Bible, and Bible verses, and it’s our responsibility as fathers to teach them those things. It’s not enough just to discuss these things at church. Train your daughters at home, too.

It’s hard to find time to spend with our family, period. We may as well admit it. Just earning money to pay for a home and food and clothes takes most of our time. But we have to somehow make the time, to make it a priority, or we’ll miss out on the best times of all. I’ve learned that – with daughters – the talking, the emotions, the insecurity, that’s where you’ll do most of your real training. If you can take the time to listen to all those “and I was like…and she was like… and then I was like…” in all that talking there is valuable information about what your daughter is really thinking. In all that crying and sighing and melodrama over “why do I have to get off the phone and clean my room,” there is something inside that big production that is a signal that will tell you what’s really on your daughter’s heart. Even in her insecurity there is a sign that she might be insecure because of something you’ve done to let her down.

But if we don’t have the patience or make the time to sit through all that and pay close attention, we’re not going to know what’s really on her mind, and in her heart, and what she needs you to do to help her. If we miss out on those things, we’re missing out on the best parts of having a daughter.

Before you can address anybody else’s insecurity, you’ve got to make sure that you are secure in your own heart. I would think that every decent father would want his daughter to be secure in the knowledge that she has a relationship with Jesus and that her place in Heaven is 100% guaranteed.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy 3:15 (emphasis added)

There’s no way to have real security without faith in Jesus.

Show and Tell

February 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Biblical Parenting, Common Expressions | 4 Comments
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Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

Deuteronomy 32:7 (emphasis added)

You probably remember from your kindergarten or elementary school years the day when your teacher would have you bring your baseball glove or your bottle cap collection or your talking dolly to class with you, so you could stand up in front of the other students and give a little oral report about this special item. We called it “Show (KJV: Shew) and Tell Day.”

In Deuteronomy 32 we have the song of Moses, and it’s like he’s telling God’s people that there are some things that your parents will show you, but there are other things that your grandparents will have to tell you about.

Moses admonished the people after they had been lead from captivity, and he warned them not to turn away from God. Likewise, we need to remind ourselves of both the great things God has done for us in the recent past, and the things He has done in for us in the “old days.” We have a responsibility to teach our children and our grandchildren about the Lord and His ways. I’m not necessarily opposed to children’s lessons in church, nor am I against finding a good Christian book on child-rearing. But, no matter how hard I try, I’m really going to have to depend on the same Person I’ve depended on throughout my whole career as a parent so far – the Holy Spirit. If I am willing to take my Bible and diligently attempt to instruct my children from it, He has promised to help me.

The Early Bird Gets to Wait

March 25, 2011 at 9:07 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, Biblical Teaching, Selected Psalms | 6 Comments
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Teaching our children to begin each day by seeking the Lord sets the tone for the rest of the day. It will keep them focused and motivated, and will help to keep them from being distracted by non-essential things.

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 13:24

If we love our children we are to chasten them “betimes” – early and often. That principle applies not just to corporal discipline, but also to the teaching of Scripture and Biblical principles. Doing something early shows that we think what we’re doing is important. Many people disagree with me on this point, but logically it is better to plan on being early than on being right on time. If I’m planning to be right on time, I might end up being late, but it’s very unlikely that I will wind up being accidentally early. If I plan on being early, then my “late” could end up being the objective “right on time,” but it is far less likely that I’ll end up being late.

One of the problems with time is that it is beyond our control. What is often in our control, however, are the self-created problems that commonly prevent us from being early.

Here is some practical advice from the Bible that will help you be early.

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

Proverbs 3:24

Try to get a good night’s sleep. If you are reluctant to go to bed early because you feel like you won’t be able to sleep, focus on the Scriptures and pray for a good night’s sleep. (Or you can read my blog – that’s sure to make you sleepy!) One of the things that interferes with our sleep is fear, but we know that God wants our sleep to be sweet.

God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.

II Samuel 22:33-34

Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.

Psalm 25:4

Another very practical tip for when you have to go somewhere is to pray for guidance on the best way to get there. “Hinds’ feet” refers to the feet of deer, and we know how fast they can move!

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

Proverbs 4:26

Ponder = seriously consider
Established = made strong or solid

Planning the night before makes for smooth sailing in the morning. Take some time to think about and plan your morning routine. There are some things that, even the night before, we just know we are going to need in the morning. (Shoes and hair brushes are safe bets!) We can control more than we think by how seriously we take our commitment to be early.

One of the things that people fear about being early is that they will have to sit and wait. We are conditioned in our hectic society and culture to think that “sitting around waiting” is one of the worst tortures imaginable!

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Biblical “waiting” isn’t sitting around doing nothing. It’s not loitering or just taking up space. “Waiting on the Lord” is waiting with expectancy – believing that something is going to happen. When you are early you can focus on the Lord. Be early to please Him, and He will meet with you while you wait. You can soar like like an eagle even when you’re merely running, and even plodding. That doesn’t sound logical to us, but obedience opens the door for divine intervention. People sometimes say that God helps those who help themselves, but really God helps those who want to be used by God.

Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

Psalm 143:11

The Dangers of Fatherhood

August 24, 2010 at 11:33 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, Genesis | 5 Comments
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In Genesis Chapter 33 Esau and 400 men are coming to meet Jacob. Jacob was afraid. He feared men more than God.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

Isaiah 2:22

Jacob managed to get past Esau without the violent incident he feared, but he treated Esau as an obstacle, not an opportunity.

And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money.

Genesis 33:17-20

Delayed obedience is not really obedience at all. In this case, delayed obedience proved very costly for Jacob. Here are three good principles to remember about obeying the Lord: Obey immediately. Obey sweetly. Obey completely.

Jacob should have been going to Bethel instead of hanging around Shechem.

And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.

Genesis 33:20

Elelohe-Israel means “God, the God of Israel.” This sounds like a name that honors God, but God wanted Jacob and his sons at Bethel. Bethel means “House of God.” We need to remember that our homes should be God’s homes, but our homes are no substitute for the “house of God,” a local church fellowship.

Genesis Chapter 33 ends with the name of the Lord, But His name is not mentioned once in Chapter 34. Jacob’s new name, Israel, is not even used. It is the chapter which contains the account of Dinah, and it is difficult to tell if she was raped or seduced. Perhaps it was the first “date rape.” It is a strong reminder to fathers not to let our daughters be put in that situation. One of our society’s greatest disservices is convincing women they don’t need men for protection, and compounding it by failing to train them to protect themselves – especially by staying out of dangerous situations where they will be alone and vulnerable.

These Shechemites were wicked. Sex of any type held no shame to them. Jacob’s sons were out with the flocks.

And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

Genesis 34:1

Dinah went to hang out with the women of the land. Here is the result:

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

Genesis 34:2, emphasis added

And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:

Genesis 34:13, emphasis added

The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

Genesis 34:27, emphasis added

The pagan practice of the Canaanites/Hivites was to treat immoral intimacy as a very common thing. Dinah was “defiled” – violated – and made to feel dirty.

Jacob’s sons plotted vengeance. Dinah’s name meant judgment, and, boy, did these men of Shechem meet judgment! Jacob’s sons were justified in being angry, but Simeon and Levi were not justified in using deception. They used the sign of the Covenant as a means of deception.

Why did the men of Shechem agree to do what they did? One reason is that they were perverts who were probably into mutilation, anyway.

And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

Genesis 34:30

What I practice in moderation, my children may very well debase themselves in to the point of excess. The actions of his sons brought shame to Jacob, even though they are viewed as heroic in Jewish tradition. The bride price that David paid for Michal was 200 Philistine foreskins which he took from the dead and gave to Saul. (I Samuel 18:27)

The last verse of Genesis 34 is a question:

And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

Genesis 34:31

This question goes unanswered – maybe because Jacob would have been two-faced to condemn them for practicing deceitfulness, considering his own history.

Jacob was probably between 97 and 100 years old when he finally obeyed God by heading on to Bethel. (He had left home at 77.) The death of Isaac is recorded in Genesis Chapter 35, and he was probably 157 when he died. Chapters 37-40 record events that occurred while Isaac was still alive. Isaac was 180 when he died.

Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

Genesis 35:2-4

As spiritual leaders, fathers must instruct their households.

And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.

Genesis 35:7

We are to make our house the house of God, and worship God as the God of our houses. We should do what Jacob did: look for God to meet with you.

And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.

Genesis 35:14

Pour your life out before Him.

Boys Will Be Boys, but Boys Should Want to Be Men

December 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 7 Comments
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The Lord has commanded parents and church elders to train up boys and young men to be what the Lord wants them to be when they reach true manhood. God anointed David, the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, king of Israel when he was still in his teen years.

By looking at what kind of boy David was, we can get a good idea of what kind of young men we should be training boys to be.

Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

I Samuel 16:18

The phrase “cunning in playing,” means that David had taken time to develop and hone the skills with which God had gifted him. We must encourage boys to commit themselves to practicing and exercising their God-given talents.

The phrase “a mighty valiant man” means that David was courageous in dangerous situations. We must not shelter our boys from situations where their courage will be tested.

The phrase “a man of war” refers to David’s willingness to stand and fight for what was right. We must impress upon our boys that there are things that are worth fighting for, and Christian men are to be meek, but never cowardly.

The phrase “prudent in matters,” means that David exercised wisdom. He did not behave foolishly or invite criticism by behaving childishly. He behaved appropriately for his age.

The phrase “a comely person,” refers largely to David’s physical appearance. He was thought to be handsome. We certainly can not train boys in their physical characteristics. God determines this through genetics and His Own providence. But we can certainly train boys to dress appropriately and groom themselves properly.

Conspicuously absent from the description of David in his teen years are any indications that he was involved in foolish vanities. David, if alive today, would not be involved in hanging out at the mall, or text messaging silly word-plays. He would not inappropriately play-wrestle with girls or young ladies. He would have little time for shuffling his iPod, playing laser tag, or shopping for spinning hubcaps. He would not over-pay for ripped-up, ill-fitting clothes, so he could slouch around with uncombed and unwashed hair, trying desperately to look “cool.”

Pavlov’s Kids

November 17, 2009 at 9:16 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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Despite what is taught in biology classes all over the world, human beings are not a highly evolved form of animal. The Bible clearly delineates the differences between people and animals. However, there are some behavioral similarities.

Animals can be trained by a process of lure and reward. A dog which does not want to enter the veterinarian’s office might be tempted into the examination room with a dangled morsel of meat. The painful vaccination which follows will no doubt be good for the dog, even if the dog does not particularly enjoy it.

When the dog is later benefitting from a healthy heartworm-free and rabies-free life, he will not necessarily associate the benefits with his trip to the vet. Therefore, he must be enticed anew each time.

The ordinary, every-day, average, garden-variety 21st Century American teen-aged child is much the same. You can win over his or her willingness to come to church with delicious treats. Food and fun, games and gimmicks, seem good TO them, but they are not necessarily good FOR them. And, although they might be willing to sit through a Bible lesson in order to receive these treats, when the treats run out (usually around the time they turn into legal “adults”), it is unlikely they will continue to endure spiritual “treatment” without the fleshly “reward.” In other words, what you win them WITH, is what you win them TO.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us a better way to win converts to the Lord, regardless of their age or personal preferences.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

I Corinthians 1:20-21

Believe it or not, it is the preaching of the Cross of Christ that wins converts to Christ, regardless of their age or interests. There is no Biblical authority for separating the means for getting young people to the Cross from the message of the Cross itself.

A Snapshot of the Lord’s Adolescence

October 30, 2009 at 9:12 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 3 Comments
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“Dad, can we go play in the youth building?” Billy (aged 12) asked his father, during a break between speakers.

“I’m sorry, son,” said Billy’s father. “We’re here to strengthen our faith in the Lord, and to learn from God’s Word.”

“But, Dad, we’ve been here for hours. We’ve sung, we’ve prayed, we’ve heard preaching. I’m bored with this conference.”

“Well, let me ask you something,” Billy’s father said. “Are you a ‘Christian?’”

“Yes.”

“Who are Christians supposed to act like?”

Billy thought for a moment. “Christ… Jesus.”

“That’s right, son. Now, I want you to read Luke Chapter 2, and tell me what Jesus was interested in doing at age 12.”

Does this exchange between a father and son sound familiar to us today? It probably doesn’t, but it should. If we profess Christ, then His life must be our example for Christian living.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2:41-46

Jesus Christ, approaching what this world calls His “teen years,” was not interested in vain amusements, dabbling in youthful sin, or filthy entertainment. They did not have Guitar Hero for XBox in His day, but if they had, you can believe He wouldn’t have played it in the synagogue.

Our Lord’s affections were set on sitting in the house of God, among the elders of the church, listening to the Word of His Father.

The Unbiblical Concept of “Teenagers”

October 14, 2009 at 8:48 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 12 Comments
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The world has developed a wonderful category for young people – wonderful, that is, from the world’s point of view. This category is called: The Teenage Years. Teenagers – especially in America – are encouraged to play around with all the privileges of adulthood while being exempt from all but a very few of the responsibilities.

Since this is a worldly concept, we would expect to see something different in the Church, wouldn’t we? Here is how the Bible says that adults should minister to young people in church:

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

Titus 2:2-6

The world says that teenaged children must be entertained or they will find church boring and irrelevant. God says that they are to be taught and exhorted from His Word, and that the power of the Gospel (not pizza parties, rock concerts, or games) will transform them. Children are not to be separated out of a church fellowship. They are to be kept among the aged men and women of the church, so that they can be prepared for mature Christian adulthood, not a worldly prolonged-adolescence.

Hijacked Hearts

September 29, 2009 at 9:14 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 2 Comments
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It sounds like a crazy notion, but we might wonder if Satan has been reading his Bible. If he has seen Malachi Chapter 4, Verse 6, then he would know that God’s desire is to see the hearts of children turned toward, not away from, their parents. “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” And that would motivate the devil to work very hard to do just the opposite of what God wants. Does this explain the state of most of the parent-child relationships we see in the world today?

Malachi 4:6 is actually the very last verse in the entire Old Testament. Malachi is prophesying in part about the ministry of John the Baptist.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Malachi 4:5

John the Baptist was not Elijah reincarnated, but he did minister in the spirit of Elijah.

Between the end of Malachi and the beginning of the New Testament there is about 400 years of silence, as far as recorded Scripture. Then, in Luke 1:17, the angel of the Lord tells Zacharias, concerning John the Baptist: “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

The devil has turned the hearts of many of our children. He has turned them to drugs, immorality, worldly entertainment, popular culture, their own vanity, and even to their peers. Dads, moms: no modern-day John the Baptist is going to catch your children at the shopping mall, rock concert, or make-out party, and convince them to repent. However, we have One greater than John the Baptist. If we can get them to Jesus, He will turn their hearts to Himself, and back to us. It’s a great thing to pray for your kids. God can protect them in ways we can’t. However, He has ordained us, parents, in a very real, personal, and hands-on way, to take the steering wheel of their hearts, and guide them in the right direction.

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