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TITLE: Truth, Lies and Teenagers
By Laura Anderson

I have a 16-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son who constantly challenge and push me. This is a true story that occurred last Sunday.
I love attending church. My teenage children vacillate between enduring church and enjoying church. One Sunday the kids and I managed to arrive ahead of schedule. They headed to the café to drink a quick cup of coffee or hot chocolate and I went to the sanctuary to find a seat. Two songs into worship I receive a text message from my daughter. “They need help in kids zone. Can we stay?” I text back, “Sure.” I enjoy the rest of worship and the message. Church ends. I go to the Kids Zone. Not there. I head over to the café. I find my daughter laying on a couch with her laptop open cruising around the internet. My son is in a chair next to her with his open and engaged.

“Did you help in Kids Zone?” I asked.
“Um, I needed to do some homework,” spilled out of my daughter’s mouth.
“It wasn’t my idea,” my son chimed in.

Have you ever had bad words pop into your head? That moment I had several. I spoke in a hushed whisper through clenched teeth in fear of yelling at them. “I am extremely disappointed in both of you. No allowance this month and no laptops for a week.”

I’m not bragging. My son is extremely intelligent. And he likes to argue. I see a future attorney in the making.
“What! I didn’t do anything. Mom, that’s not fair. Liz came up with the idea.”
“If you would have sat with me during church, then Liz would be the only one punished. Because you went along with the lie, you are as guilty as her. Now you both head upstairs and really ask Jeff if he needs help with the kids,” I instructed.

Who lets their kids take laptops to church? I admit not my brightest idea. I had a meeting after the first service and the kids would be waiting for me so I thought that would keep them occupied.

“I still don’t get why I’m being punished,” Tyler said on the way home.
“Do you remember the story about Joseph in the Bible?” I asked.
“Yeah, he was thrown in a pit by his brothers, they sold him as slave, and then he was, like, the king of Egypt.”
“Sort of. Joseph was just under the King or Pharaoh. Did Joseph’s brothers tell their dad the truth about what happened to him?”
“Duh, Mom.”
“Look the story up. Use my Bible. Try the end of Genesis,” I said.

After a few minutes. . . “Ok it’s Genesis 37.” Tyler read, “Then the brothers killed a goat and spattered its blood on Joseph’s coat, and took the coat to their father and asked him to identify it. ‘We found this in the field,’ they told him. ‘Is it Joseph’s coat or not?’ Their father recognized it at once. ‘Yes,’ he sobbed, ‘it is my son’s coat. A wild animal has eaten him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.’ Then Israel tore his garments and put on sackcloth and mourned for his son in deepest mourning for many weeks. His family tried to comfort him, but it was no use (Genesis 37:31-35 from The Living Bible).

“So, did Joseph’s brothers lie to their dad?” I asked.
“Well not with words. They tricked him into believing Joseph was dead,” Tyler said.
“Right. The brothers all went along with deceiving their dad by being silent.”

“I’m sorry I lied to you mom,” Liz said.
Tyler raised his eyebrows and turned to look out the window.

So stubborn. Do you have a strong-willed, argumentative child? Maybe you were one. I constantly battle being an encouragement to his determined and persistent side and curbing the obstinate and inflexible traits. Sometimes I get it right and other times fail miserably. I’ve found the more I stay connected to God, the more consistent I am.

Father, help me train up my children in Your ways. You promised if I teach them to choose the right path when they are older they will stay on it. Thank you Jesus. Amen.
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