Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet

You may have noticed that lately it seems that kids are using gadgets younger and younger. Tablets are in everyone’s hands and cellphones grace the wish lists of children in elementary school. Teens communicate via a photo on Instagram and emojis on text, and every day someone comes up with the new “must have” app – Twitter, Snapchat, Whisper, YikYak, and the list goes on.

As a parent, how do you keep up with the ever-evolving list of what is safe and what isn’t? And how can you set up digital parameters that will keep your 10-year-old safe from certain sites, but allow your 16-year-old more freedom?

The first answer to those questions is to communicate. To set boundaries as a family, and to agree to honor those boundaries. But there are also tools you can utilize to assist you in protecting your children from the dark corners of the internet, because, as the memes say, what is seen cannot be unseen.

Enter a product from, of all companies, Disney. Circle Media has partnered with Disney to create a device that can help you keep your kids more accountable on the web: Circle with Disney ($99, available from meetcircle.com). Circle allows you to track where your kids are going, block sites you don’t want them to see, limit their screen time, and turn the internet off at night. It sets up easily by plugging into a power outlet (no wiring to your router necessary), and you can manage it from your smartphone.

And here is where Circle really shines: you can set up profiles for every member of your house, along with pre-set filter levels (pre-k, kid, teen, adult, or none). The Kid filter, for example, allows access to PBS and Club Penguin, while blocking YouTube. Teens get access to Instagram and Snapchat. And Circle can filter entire categories of sites, like online shopping and explicit content, and can also assign time limits to categories (like 30 minutes of YouTube or an hour of Minecraft). Circle also has an eight-hour battery life, so just unplugging it won’t set the house free from Circle’s limits.

Even more good news? Circle Go can do the same thing with smartphones, even outside the home.

Teaching kids to make good choices definitely goes a long way when it comes to internet safety, but ensuring that not everything in the world that people put on the internet is delivered into your home is also another.

reblogged from February 2016

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God All-Annoying

by Curt Martin, HCA Secondary Bible Teacher

“I know that God has wronged me and has drawn His net around me. He has blocked my way to deprive me of justice…If only I could go to His dwelling place, I would state my case before Him.” – Job

“Why, oh God, have you rejected me? You have completely engulfed me; darkness is now my only friend.” – The Psalmist

“If there is a God, He must be the devil.” – Albert Camus, philosopher

During my seminary years, my professors invited me to spend seemingly endless hours pouring over the many attributes of God, as if He were a frog in anatomy class. God’s omniscience, omnipotence, wrath, holiness, event His aseity (yeah, that’s a real thing). But it was only the proverbial school of hard knocks that introduced me to the one never-discussed attribute of deity: omni-vexing. I’ll say it plainly: sometimes God’s ways just bug me. So, in Job-ian fashion, allow me to give voice to my frustrations.

Consider:

  • God’s penchant for theological ambiguity.

For about as long as Christians have been around, they have been debating the relationship between divine sovereignty and human free will. You know, a couple of paragraphs sandwiched in the Levitical reg’s could have saved us all some grief here, Lord!

Or how about this cryptic little nugget from Matthew’s resurrection account: “The tombs also were open and many bodies of saints who had died were raised. And they came out of their tombs and entered the city.” What…? What just happened here? Did these people go get jobs and resume their lives? WE don’t know because scripture doesn’t elaborate. (There actually is fascinating theology behind this event, but it requires diligent research to understand and I prefer to be spoon-fed my doctrine.)

  • The patience of God.

“Patience is a virtue,” we are told and so it is…but not always. God, in my experience, is far too casual about a good many things. Like when I’m enduring suffering. And yes, it’s character-building and all, but frankly, I don’t care about that just then. I want it to stop, dang it! I want it over with yesterday. I’ve tried to explain this to Him rationally many times, but am always met with the same unbending stubbornness on His part. He gets all caught up on the whole character thing, and doesn’t give proper weight to my comfort! It’s galling, really.

He’s also far too patient with certain people. Many within my range of acquaintance could do with a good smiting, by my lights. I’ve offered to provide Him with a list. And yet, in case after irksome case, they go their merry, unsmitten ways. Don’t get me wrong, I’m forever grateful for His patience with my many failings and would be lost without His amazing grace toward me. But that’s different.

If you really put your mind to it, I’m confident you could add to my list, but I think my case is made. The verdict: God is indeed an annoying fellow and nowhere near as tidy and domesticated as our theological packages make out. I discussed this with a friend and she actually hinted that perhaps the deficiencies might be mine and not His. I must need some new friends. That one is kind of annoying.

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HCA 2016-2017 Theme: Make Every Effort

by Jakob Bruxvoort, HCA Student Council Head Administrator & Ministry Leader

Ephesians 4:2-3 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Looking forward into the school year of 2016 to 2017, Student Council has been praying and seeking God’s direction for our school. As we discussed our thoughts and visions for the year, common themes of unity, intentionality, and service kept reoccurring. The two passages God has shown to represent these concepts were Ephesians 4:2-3 and Galatians 5:22-23. The first of these contains a phrase we found appropriately and concisely summed up the idea: Make Every Effort.

Both scriptures are used to define puposeful, spirit-minded community. Ephesians describes an intentionality for God-centered unity while Galatians establishes the profits of spiritual living represented as the fruits of the Spirit. Both in turn reference a display of selflessness and service toward others where the presence of God is vital. Each present the message in a specific, practical manner of living. We will be using Galatians 5:22-23 as our specific theme verse.

So as we enter this upcoming school year with varying levels of enthusiasm, we as student council leadership believe that it is our call live by the spirit. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:16-17, 22-23)

And in doing so to live intentionally, not neglecting to live for each other in unity. “As a prisoner of Christ, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. It was he (Christ) who gave some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph. 4:1-3, 11-16)

So then, as you prepare for the upcoming year at Heritage Christian, we as Student Council ask that you to pray and seek God for what your part in the body of Christ is this year. Live in this way to become more like Christ in service, humility, and unity. This is no minor task, as it obligates you to surrender fully to the life God has called you to by making every effort.

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A Vision for HCA’s International Program

by Valorie Towne, Director of International Students

Because I have so thoroughly enjoyed teaching English at HCA, I am excited to take on the responsibility of working with international students, host families and teaching staff. One of the dearest interactions I’ve had with an international student occurred in early May three years ago.  She quietly approached my desk and simply said, “Mrs. Towne, what is Easter?”  What a privilege to get to share the answer with her and to hear her thoughts as well.  On the day that I verbally accepted this new position, a dear, young, mission-minded friend of mine who was teaching English in an Asian country was put on house arrest and had her passport confiscated.  A week later, she was placed in a van, driven to the airport and sent back to the United States.  While she saw the sovereignty of God in the situation, she was also scared and heartbroken for the students she left behind in Asia, who were hungry to know more about Jesus and English.  The staff and I understand the part we are being allowed to play in not only the academic lives, but also the spiritual lives of our international students.  And just as the Lord deeply loves and provides for our native students, He is doing the same for these students who come many miles, spending months away from families to learn about Jesus, the Christian faith, English and much more.

I am excitedly preparing orientation, lesson supports, assessments, directories, and learning materials: the list goes on. Research has proven that what is best for ESL (English as a second language) students is also best for native students, and so I am eager to use what I have learned with all students. But I am most excited to prayerfully complete my Capstone Action Research Project, which will help build on the positive relationships and friendships between our native students and international students.  In academics, spiritual scenarios and fun activities, the staff and I plan to see our school culture strengthened and empowered.  My husband has traveled to Asia nearly 30 times for business.  We are a part of a global, growing economy that involves business, churches, academia, humanitarian efforts, families and friendships.  However, we see in our nation, a deep divide between races.  I believe that God’s love is best sown in the hearts of all individuals in our homes and at our school.  Heritage has the most amazing chance to show the Lord’s great love by loving every student the Lord brings us.  What a gift!

I would like to invite every family, every student, every volunteer that would like to see all students at HCA draw closer to one another, including our international students, to contact me to see how you can be a part of our mission.  A prayer warrior, a conversationalist, a tutor, a coach, a driver, a ____________, you fill in the blank with your talent or interest; these are the people that will bring about the kingdom of God for our students.  I would love to talk with your or your child if you have questions or are ready to help.  Lastly, many thanks to Mr. Cuckler and Dr. Loyd who have supported me in this journey, and who have served HCA so faithfully.

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Summer Reading: Where to Find Wholesome Literature

by Rachael Auch, Kindergarten Teacher

As an avid reader, I have devoured books since I was a child. Almost anything I could get my hands on would be read within a couple of days. The classics, mysteries, historical fiction, almost any genre- you would find me lost to the world, my nose in a book. As much as I hate to admit it, I am old enough to have teenagers and as they have grown up and discovered a love of books much like my own, we have uncovered a serious problem with “teen fiction.” Many of these books, labeled as “teen”, are filled with adult themes, bad language, sexual content and violence.   We have checked out book after book from libraries, only to have to close them after a few pages, fed up with themes and suggestive content that does not honor our Lord or encourage our hearts to integrity, honor and purity.

In our experience there seems to be a huge gap between children’s literature and teen literature. Up through sixth grade there was an abundance of books to choose from that were engaging. As soon as one was finished there would be another in line, just begging to be picked up and get lost in, and rarely (if ever!) did we stumble across inappropriate content. However, as soon you cross into the “teen” world of books, suddenly you are bombarded with so much filth that is very vividly described, and a very real discouragement because of the seemingly impossible task of finding an engaging, wholesome book that you don’t want to put down because it’s just that good.

As I began to research this issue, I discovered that there are several helpful sites online that can be a guide to help you and your child find good, wholesome, current fiction. Of course, these sites are not necessarily done by Christian reviewers and I have not read every book that is recommended- so use discernment. The ones we have tried, however, have been fantastic. This list is simply meant to be a tool for those that have encountered this problem and would like a resource to help navigate the world of teen fiction.

  1. homespunlight.blogspot.com ( this site lists “deliciously clean reads”)
  2. thriftyandthriving.com/clean-books-for-teens-girls (a list that is updated monthly and will soon have a list for boys as well)
  3. http://www.deliciousreads.com/2015/09/40-clean-reads-for-teens.html (The author describes this list as,”fun, riveting, adventurous novels that teenagers will love (and parents will approve of).
  4. http://www.deliciousreads.com/2014/09/top-24-books-for-teen-boys.html (top 24 books for teen boys)
  5. popsugar.com/moms/clean-books-Teenage-Girls-34835365#photo-34835365 (clean summer reads for teen girls)
  6. christianbook.com (select the fiction tab, then the teen tab and several genres to choose from will be available)
  7. goodreads.com/shelf/show/teen-Christian-fiction

There are also some helpful sites that will give a detailed review of a specific book and a rating of the violence, profanity, sexual content and a plot summary:

  1. pluggedin.com (Focus on the Family movie and book reviews)
  2. theliteratemother.org
  3. compassbookratings.com

As Jane Austin said, “I declare there is no enjoyment like reading.”  So encourage your teen to check out the reviews, grab a good book, and re-discover the joy of disappearing into the wonderful world of fiction!

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4th Grade Reflection: History Colorado Museum

by Denise Pogue & the 4th Grade Students

At the History Colorado Museum in Denver, fourth grade students were led by a knowledgeable guide back into Colorado’s past to experience life in the “old days”.  One activity included investigating the scant resources available to the Mesa Verde people.  Students also took a look at how the Plains Indians used every part of the buffalo for survival.  A favorite hands-on experience involved performing the chores of real-life residents from the homestead town of Keota.  The final exhibit was a Silverton mine, where students descended deep into the mine to learn about the hardships faced by both miners and mules.  Fourth grade students came away from this field trip with a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for the challenges faced by earlier inhabitants of Colorado.

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Student Reflections:

“My favorite part at the Colorado Museum was at the Keota. People in those times had hard work around the farm. They went to school, milked the cows, bought groceries, and took care of the house.” – Toby

“My favorite part was the mine. I really liked the activities you could do. I liked learning to drill with machinery. I also learned that mules worked in mines.” – Luke

“My favorite activity was Keota. We had to act like a person and we had a to do list that had chores. I had to pump a water pump 20 times and I had to milk a cow. Two more things I did were seeing how many toilets were in the outhouse. And I had to guess what cans had in them. Then I went grocery shopping.” – Harper

“My favorite activity was the mine camp. You got to watch videos and learn to drill. We also we down in an old elevator.” – Jadon

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Developing Future Teachers at HCA

by Emily Weant, HCA Senior

My sophomore year of high school, I began an adventure that would ultimately help me realize what exactly God has created me to do. With the help of Dr. Loyd, I became a Teacher’s Aide in the Heritage Kindergarten classroom.

It started out simply where I was just helping Mrs. Auch by copying papers or helping a kindergartener spell out a word they didn’t know. As time went on, I was given more and more responsibility. Now that I am a senior, when I go to help, Mrs. Auch sends them out into the hallway so we can work one on one.

Last year, the students and I worked together reading through a series of books meant to gradually teach them to read long sentences through blending the words, rather than picking apart each letter, hoping it sounds right.  I am currently working in the classroom a couple days a week. Right now, we are learning other names for first and second vowel sounds, such as long and short.

Both Dr. Loyd and Mrs. Auch have been tremendous gifts in my life. By allowing me to work as an aide in the classroom, they have helped me further develop the teaching abilities that God has blessed me with. Thanks to this wonderful opportunity, when I go off to college in the fall, I am now absolutely positive that teaching is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

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