Dealing with Tragedy

Written by Mark Gregston.

Dealing with TragedyIt was a beautiful day for a run.  Though the Boston Marathon is by invitation only, the runners assembled were not your superstar athletes, but rather your typical moms, dads, accountants, firemen, grandpas, grandmas, students and scholars.  They were average people who, through hard work and dedication, had earned the opportunity to run through the streets of the city.  But before many of them made it to the finish line, the goal that these runners had spent years preparing for, the bombs went off and a senseless and mindless tragedy changed the course of the race forever.

Are You Teaching a Child Or Training a Teen?

Written by Mark Gregston.

Training Your ChildProverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  For many of us this verse is overly familiar.  But I’d like you to take a step back and look at this passage with a fresh pair of eyes.  I know that many of us may have unconsciously read Proverbs 22:6 as saying “teach a child” or “instruct a child.”

But that’s not what the verse says.

The Hebrew word chanokh, which is translated in this verse as “train,” is used as a verb in only three other passages in the Bible and describes either dedicating, consecrating, or equipping.  In each place this word is used, its meaning goes far beyond simply gaining knowledge or learning discipline.  Chanokh conveys more the idea of encouraging, preparing, and guiding children on the path to adulthood.  It’s the difference between “teaching” a child and “training” a man or woman of God.

Getting Teens to Grow Up

Written by Mark Gregston.

Teens Growing UpRemember Alice in Wonderland?  There’s one part of the story that finds a diminutive Alice trapped in a room where everything is bigger and taller than she is.  But there, at her feet, she finds a piece of cake labeled “Eat Me.”  After one bite from that questionable dessert, Alice grows exponentially, transforming into a full-fledged adult in the space of a few seconds.

I know many parents who would love to feed a bit of that kind of “maturity cake” to their own kids!  It seems that more and more teenagers in this generation are becoming stuck in a perpetual state of adolescence.  Instead of growing into healthy adults, a rising number of young people are prolonging their childhood.  In fact, the American Medical Association has recently increased the age of adolescence to 27.  That means we have a bunch of twenty-somethings running around behaving like kids!

Teaching Your Teenager How to Handle Money

Written by Mark Gregston.

Teens and Money“Make all you can.  Save all you can.  Give all you can.” ~ John Wesley

In order to figure out the wisdom God really wants us to remember, a good rule of thumb is to pay attention to how many times that issue is mentioned in Scripture.  And when it comes to handling finances, there are 2,350 verses in the Bible on the topic!  Discussions about money and possessions comprised close to 15 percent of what Jesus taught.  Obviously, the proper handling of money is a big deal.

Hope For Battle-Weary Parents

Written by Mark Gregston.

Don't Give UpOn October 29, 1941, Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited his old alma mater, The Harrow School for Boys, to address to the student body.  The United Kingdom was in the throes of World War II, and the hope of the citizens was beginning to falter.  Standing before frightened students, distraught parents and a weary nation, Winston Churchill spoke these memorable words: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up.  Never give up.  Never give up.  Never give up.

Bullying 101

Written by Mark Gregston.

BullyingI remember it clearly.  A kid at school (lets call him Ryan) had been antagonizing me all year.  One afternoon, I was sitting down, minding my own business, when suddenly he came over and spit right in my ear!  I was too dumbfounded to do anything, and Ryan went away laughing.  I stewed over the humiliating experience all day and all night.  The next day, when I bumped into Ryan, I unleashed a torrent of verbal punches that visibly cut him down and hurt him immensely.  It was way too much.

Don’t Miss Out on The Good Part!

Written by Mark Gregston.

Don't Miss OutOnce Jesus was invited to come over to a friend’s house to sit down, relax, and swap stories.  One of the hostesses was a lady by the name of Martha, and she was your typically type A personality.  She spent the entire morning cleaning, cooking, and preparing the house for Jesus and the other guests to arrive.  Then Martha spent the whole time during the party cleaning up used plates, wiping up spills, refreshing everyone’s drink—basically running around like a chicken with her head cut off!

But her sister Mary was quite different.  She spent the morning excited to see Jesus.  And when He came, she plopped down and listened to everything He had to say.  As Martha scurried about the house, she noticed her sister Mary relaxing and enjoying herself.  And this got under Martha’s skin BIG time.  If she was busy, why shouldn’t everyone else be as well?  Well, Martha finally had it up to here, and she asked Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” (Luke 10:40)

Let’s be honest.  We’ve all been there!  Our modern life is busier than ever.  Our schedule is so jam-packed with appointments, events, meetings, deadlines, goals, and pressing expectations that finding a quiet, uneventful evening is a rare luxury.  And this lifestyle spills out to our families and our teens.  If we’re busy, we expect our teens to stay busy as well.  So we all end up like Martha, going a hundred miles an hour, and maybe even feeling resentful of those who actually have some downtime.

To Martha’s demand for help (and to our modern schedule) Jesus gave some much-needed advice.  “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things … [but] Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 41,42).

Jesus hit the nail right on the head, didn’t He?  We’re often so busy that we tend to miss out on “the good parts” of life.  We get so distracted by the marginal stress that we forget to spend time with our kids and our families, those relationships that add true value.  We may be like Martha, but we need to be more like Mary.

It Starts with You

When we are burning the candle at both ends, everything in the middle starts melting.  Our kids start to drift away from us.  Our marriages suffer.  Relationships take a hit.  Before you burn out, take some time to relax and take a breath.  Even God rested on the seventh day, giving us a model to follow.  Set the tone for your home by initiating periods of relaxation for you and your family.

Also, remember that God hasn’t given us a family so that we can ignore them in favor of other busywork.  Quite the opposite.  The reason God has given you the kids you have is so that you can take the time to nurture them, love them, and spend time speaking into their lives.  Often, we’re so caught up in directing our kids and providing for them that we forget that the most important gift we can give them is time.

So what does your busy schedule look like?  Do you plan your calendar around what needs to happen outside your family, and give your kids the leftovers of your time?  Or do you first pencil in your family, and divvy out the rest of your time to other projects?  Make family your priority, and let other activities fall in behind.  I realize that we’re all busy these days, and we carry the weight of a thousand different responsibilities.  But your family needs your time more than they need anything else.  And we’ll miss those good things with our kids if we spend all of our energy pursuing other goals.

Here’s my challenge: find one block of time on your calendar that you can give to your kids.  Maybe it’s a weekly date where you and your daughter can eat ice cream and watch a movie together.  Or perhaps you can carve out a couple of hours a week to take a bike ride with your son.  It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s you and your child, away from the phone, e-mail, and anything else that would try to steal your attention.

Help Your Teen

Did you know that doctors and therapists report that clinical anxiety is at an all-time high among teenagers?  It’s no wonder when you think about how busy our kids can be.  There’s band practice, football practice, church functions, school events, and whatever else we can cram into a 24-hour period.  Our teens are infected by our busy lifestyle!

Of course, there is nothing wrong with your teen being involved in activities.  I’m not knocking those things.  But as parents, we need to be intentional about the activities our kids are involved in.  If a teen’s schedule is too tight, something has got to give.

Growing up, my daughter was heavily involved in gymnastics.  She went to every tournament and has tumbled and somersaulted in every gym in the country.  But recently she told me, “I wish that wasn’t so heavily involved in gymnastics growing up.  I missed out on a lot of things.”

I firmly believe that many teens are over-committed and under-nurtured.  Their lives are full of activities, but they’re missing out on quality memories.  If your teen comes home tired, burned out, and worn out, it’s time to intervene and help them slow down.  Take a family vacation.  Now, I know that many people will say, “Mark, I can’t afford a vacation!”  But it’s possible you can’t afford not to!  Both you and your busy teen need to take a breath, relax, and spend time making memories that last far longer than any trophies or GPA scores.

Even beyond the vacation, make your home a place of rest.  Create an environment where kids can find respite, enjoyment, new experiences, and a sense of value for what matters most.

You’ll never hear someone at the end of their life say, “I wish I had been busier.”  But you might hear, “I wish I had slowed down to enjoy the time I had with family.”  Don’t live with the regrets of wasted time.  Throw off the need to be busy 24-7, and grab hold of what Jesus said were “the good parts.”  You and your teen will be glad you did.



Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Go to  Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at

The post Don’t Miss Out on The Good Part! appeared first on Parent Tips from Mark Gregston.

Events/Retreats/Mark’s Schedule

Date Event Location
July 29 An Evening with Mark Gregston Augusta, GA
August 14-16 Families in Crisis Conference Longview, TX
September 6-7 Tough Guys and Drama Queens Parent Seminar Monroe, LA
September 10th Evening with Mark Gregston San Antonio, TX
September 11th Special Morning Event with Mark Gregston San Antonio, TX
September 18-19th Tough Guys and Drama Queens Parent Seminar Eau Claire, WI
Parenting Today's Teens is produced and sponsored by the Heartlight Ministries Foundation. You can visit our family of websites below.