Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

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Mobile Camp has been partnering with churches to reach kids in need since 2010 and last year in 2015 we had 6 camps across the state of Iowa. One of those churches was at the Riverside Friends Church in Mason City, Iowa where Paul and Diane Martin serve. A week before their camp was to begin I met with them to discuss the final details and make sure we were all ready to go. At our meeting though the Martins told me that they had a big problem. I was expecting the worst, when they told me that their 15 passenger church van had broken down beyond repair and that they weren’t sure if they were going to be able to go pick up kids for Mobile Camp.

At first, I thought this wasn’t a big deal and although I would be sad that some kids wouldn’t be able to come, we would minister to the kids who were able to make it. What I didn’t realize is that the Martins passion to reach the poor kids of their neighborhood was greater than I had ever seen. They weren’t satisfied with ministering to those who would be dropped off by their parents, they wanted a big van so they could go around their neighborhood and pick up kids, the ones whose parents wouldn’t or couldn’t drive them to the church for Mobile Camp.

Now good running 15 passenger vans aren’t easy to find and the Martins told us the church didn’t have a lot of money to spend on one but there was a van a couple hours away they were going to look at the next evening. We all know that a lot of times vehicles look a lot better in pictures than they do in person and Paul said they would have to come down quite a bit in their price for them to be able to buy it. So we all paused to pray that God would give them wisdom in knowing if this was the van for them. They also asked us (my wife and I) to continue to pray for them especially that next evening. We did and Paul informed us later that although it did need a few things, he felt the van to be reliable and that the sellers were willing to come down to his price, so he bought it. God had provided them with the van they needed.

And although we can learn from how God provides from that part of the story, the true lesson comes from what I seen and heard the first Monday morning of Mobile Camp. See at our meeting the week before camp, the Martins gave me a key to the church and told me to go ahead and go on in and get set up. I thought it a little strange that they wouldn’t be there early, I said OK.

It was on that Monday, I realized then that Paul and Diane Martin didn’t only “talk” about reaching the kids of their community, they had a passion to reach them one that I seen in action. See what I didn’t know, was that in the weeks leading up to Mobile Camp the Martins had gone around their neighborhood asking kids if they would want to come and getting parents to sign their kids up, telling the parents they would be by to pick them and bring them home from camp. So when their van broke down, they knew there were kids who they promised they would pick them up and would be looking forward to coming.

On that Monday morning the first day of Mobile Camp, I saw Paul and Diane show up with a 15 passenger van full of kids. They had gotten up extra early that Monday (and every day that week) to drive around their neighborhood and pick up the kids for camp. I even heard there were times when the kids weren’t up and ready so even Diane went in, got them out of bed and helped them get ready as quickly as possible. All so that they kids could have fun and hear about God’s love at Mobile Camp.

The Martins didn’t have to do that. There wasn’t anything or anyone who said those kids must come to camp. They did it because they love God and they love the people in their neighborhood and their community. They love them so much that you could see their love in their works. The Martins not only lived out Mark 12:30-21 “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” The Martins also lived out James 2:18 “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Their faith and their love was shown through their works.

As I remember that week of camp, I am challenged in my own life and ask myself the question. Do I really love my neighbor as much as I say I do? Do I really care where they spend eternity? If I were to answer yes, what works have I done in the past that would prove that to be true? If I truly love God with ALL my heart, soul, mind and strength and if I love my neighbor as myself, that love should motivate me to do and say something. God’s love for mankind motivated Him so much, that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross so that we could spend eternity with Him.

Breaking parenting into small parts…

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It takes 20 hours… to learn something new!

We all have to admit that when it comes to being a parent we could do better.  No matter how hard we try, we always seem to fall short of what we perceive to be the perfect parent.  Some actually make being the perfect parent their ultimate goal, while others seem to have a very lackluster attitude.  Lets start by saying that, no one is or will ever be the perfect parent, but we all can do better.


Josh Kaufman in his Teds talk shares about how long it takes to get good at something.  Research shows it takes about 10,000 hours to become a professional at something, but Kaufman demonstrates with his Ukulele it only takes 20 hours of practice to learn something new. The first step he uses is to learn fast is to break down a skill into small parts.  If you practice the small things first you can then improve quickly.


As an athlete trains for a sport in order to do their best, parents need to realize that training and practice will help us to do our best.  As I share these five things, identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. While continuing to keep up the strengths, make changes in areas that are weak. Here are five things we can do that will help us be a better parent.





One of a child’s greatest needs is for us to instill in them value and worth and one of the best ways is by spending one on one time with them.  Take him or her out to eat, go bowling, bike riding, shopping or whatever they may enjoy. No matter how simple an activity, the time spent will be priceless.  Dr. Kyle D. Pruett says, “The small intimacies that are unique to the way we parent a particular child at a particular time of life – theirs and ours – are more likely to appear during one-on-one time”  in his article,  The Value of Spending One-On-One Time With Your Children.

agape definition


Loving our child is something we most likely don’t need to be told to do. But agape or unconditional love is more than positive words, hugs or gifts we give to them. At times our love could be based upon our child’s behavior, performance and responses to us as parents. For example: If our child responds in a cooperative way with a positive attitude, then we naturally respond with love and praise. Unconditional love is not based upon our child’s behavior or performance. If a child refuses to do what we ask or they do it with an inappropriate attitude, they may need to be disciplined, but with the reassurance that you do it out of love for them.  Herb Scribner also points out that unconditional love helps our child’s mental well-being and physical health in his report, Five benefits of showing your child unconditional love.



God says in Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Realize that our children are not perfect and will never be perfect. They are a work in progress and are learning day by day. They gain experience through trial and error and that means we as the parent need to be patient with them and allow them to fail. As we examine our child’s effort, more than likely, they are doing their best to succeed and to please us. Our response to their failures and short falls with patience will allow them to feel secure and give them the courage to try again. Our children need to learn patience says Abby King. “It’s unrealistic to expect children to be perfectly patient. However, it is important that they have the capacity to be reasonably patient. Our children need to build their tolerance to accept delay.” The Importance of Practicing Patience



This is something we may not think of because being a parent allows us the right to expect respect from our children. They do need to, however, learn to respect other adults; and as a parent, we have the opportunity to teach them how to gain the respect of others and to gain respect for us by showing them respect. The most effective way to teach kids respectful behavior is to model it yourself, says Victoria Kindle Hodson, co-author of the book Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids. Remember that your children deserve respect as much as you do.  If you show them and others respect, then your child will mimic that behavior.   Dr. Charles Sophy gives four good ways for you to teach your children respect. R. E. S. P. E. C. T.: Four Tips For Teaching Your Child Respect


Setting time apart each day for us to pray with and for our children is the best thing we can do as a parent. They will not only learn the value of prayer, but they will hear us taking their requests and needs to God. This, in turn, shows them how much we love and care for them, instilling value into their lives. God, in return, will bless our life and our children’s lives. “How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.” Psalms 119:2


There are many other things that could be added to this list, but these are areas where many parents are failing.  No one will ever become the perfect parent, but we can strive to be better because our children deserve it and God expects it.


The Quakerdale Team


We wonder if you have any examples or stories you could share about any of these topics.  Please let us know if this was helpful.

Building Structure for Children

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Quakerdale Parent Resources

Structure is very important in the lives of children and families.  In an interesting TEDS talk by General Colin Powell  he talks about the importance of structure

A building needs a frame like a child needs daily routines and structure
A building needs a frame like a child needs daily routines and structure

for children and young adults.  General Powell talks about how structure changed his life and how it makes a difference for young people.  It is interesting to hear how the words of the General’s parents molded him and set him on the road to success and happiness.  Parents can set the framework of the child for their future just like a building’s walls and roof are first set in place by the underlying framework.

The Center For Parenting Education says when you provide structure, children:

  • feel a sense of safety that rules will be in place when they can’t control their own impulses – you will be there to stop them, guide them, and be in-charge of their well-being.
  • learn to tolerate a reasonable amount of frustration and disappointment when they don’t always get their own way.
  • discover that the world does not revolve totally around them.  As a result, they becomeless egocentric.
  • learn responsible behavior and that they are capable of doing things.
  • learn from their mistakes.
  • gain experience making decisions.
  • become more self-sufficient and capable as they learn the skills to become independent.
  • internalize your rules and values.
common stresses and cures


One of Quakerdale’s programs serves girls ages 16 1/2 to 18 transitioning to independence.   We work on life skills to help these young ladies to success on their own.  We agree with General Powell that structure is important in children’s lives no matter what age.  We want to introduce you to the structure that we use which can also give your family success.  Not everything works with every family, but you can take what works for you and leave the rest.

Daily Schedule or Routine

The first type of structure we use is a daily schedule or routine.  We want to allow the girls personal time because they need to practice self governance.  A good routine lowers stress and provides time for preparation and reflection and in general improves mental well-being.   With routine we provide clear expectations that things need to get done.   There are certain times to be up in the morning, eat breakfast and on the bus for school.  We have planned exercise, study and free times.  Young people need to be able to manage themselves, but it doesn’t happen unless we provide them structure.  They must learn to recognize if they are behind schedule.  A lack of structure and routine results in wasted time and failure to accomplish goals.  We all know what it is like to realize at the end of the day we didn’t get the things done we needed to do.

Concerning the daily routine one regular problem young people have today is getting enough rest.  We cannot make someone sleep, but it is important that we teach the value of rest because it can have an effect on all areas of their life.  We do require them to have time that is scheduled for bedtime and they need to put their phone, computer or iPod away so they can rest.  There is a lot of research about the problems that can arise from lack of rest and relaxation, so structure is a big deal!  This article says sleep is food for your brain and children must feed their brains with rest if they are to be at their best.

You noticed we have exercise time.  It is important to keep active and have some variety in physicality.  Going to the gym seems to be one of the favorites.  Endorphins have been referred to as the “Happy Hormone” because they have the characteristics of Morphine.  Physical activity causes this chemical to be created and released in our brain.  Endorphins improve our mood and block pain inside our brains so it is important to make time for exercise in the daily routine.

Often, following a daily routine and providing structure can be difficult especially when life gets hectic and distractions occur.  One of the most important things to do when the routine gets off is to observe and talk about it.  “Wow, that was a big thing we just went through and now we need to get back on our routine.”  It is an important skill to learn how to move through life’s problems and distractions and then return to the daily routine.

family rules

Three tips we use to provide structure


  1. Creating a monthly calendar . At the beginning of each month, every child gets a calendar outlining the activities for the month which includes times to volunteer, Church activities, grocery shopping, meetings, and personal things. Plannning ahead takes time but it relieves a lot of stress and sets children up for success.  This is such an important part for children learning to structure themselves.
  2. Enforcing rules with consistency. We have rules established within the cottage and do our best to ensure we consistently carry them out. This provides healthy structure for children to know what is expected and what will happen. When caregivers enforce the rules we are modeling for our children to hold high standards for themselves.
  3. Building strong communication between youth and adults. Remember how we acknowledged getting off schedule because of a big thing? As caregivers, we communicate daily about what has happened so everyone is informed in the cottage. The youth are also encouraged to contribute their thoughts and opinions regarding their day to day routines and challenges.   We encourage families to use mealtimes for these activities.  As a matter of fact there is a movement called the Family Dinner Project esteeming the value of eating meals together.  You will be surprised at some of the data they have about this interesting topic.  Eating meals are something everyone does and to miss the opportunity to be together by watching television or looking at a smart phone is a missed opportunity.  No text will ever take the place of a face to face conversation.

Remember have fun with your children but keep a structure that works for your family.  You’ll see your children blossom when they have structure in their lives and you’ll position them with skills for lifelong success and happiness.

If you have any insights to add to this discussion please share with us!  If you have any questions please share.  If this is valuable let us know in the comments.