Dear Extended Family,

As you read this, I should be halfway up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Many of you have told me you of your prayers as I attempt to carry the cross up the mountain. Your well-wishes and prayers overwhelm me, and I can’t wait to tell you about the adventure.

While I’m away from my computer, I thought I would share a devotional designed to help you get a G.R.I.P. on your children. Praying for you with each step,

Your servant,



God’s Word: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Reflection: As you might imagine, there is much I don’t understand. Here are some more items to add to the long list: Why do we call it an ATM machine when the “M” stands for machine, and why do they make the keypad in Braille? Why do I have a kitchen full of food, yet I can’t find anything to eat? When I dial a wrong number, why does someone always pick up? Why do I believe two extra minutes of sleep will help so much?

As you can see, I still have a lot to learn. The other day, I was sitting in a restaurant, reading the label on a bottle of ketchup. You’re right. If all I have to do is sit around reading condiment labels, my life sounds pathetic. But that’s not my point.

Written on the label were the following words: “Not for resale.” Now, I know there’s a growing epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse across America. Those poisons contaminate many homes and school hallways. But I never knew about the horrible problem of people selling illegal restaurant ketchup. I have enough to worry about in life without thinking someone might lure my child into buying black market condiments.

All of this made me think. Is there some sinister-looking guy hanging out on the elementary school playground? Maybe he whispers, “Hey kid, come here. You wanna buy some ketchup? What’s your brand? Del Monte? Heinz? We got it all. You want some sample packets for your friends?”

The problem must be significant, or the label would not bear those words. I wish every problem was so easily solved.

All joking aside, there is a drug problem, and your child will come in contact with its promoters. Surely you’ve seen the commercials that encourage parents to talk to their children about drugs. Start early to help your children through the maze of addictive substances. You must make the choice to be proactive, instead of reactive.

Here are some ideas that may help:

     • Mom and Dad, work to gain a basic knowledge of the drug culture. Many parents have no clue, and in this case, ignorance could exact a fatal cost. Learn the over-the-counter drugs being abused, the drugs that are sniffed, the kind of paraphernalia that is used and the tell-tale signs of a child’s first drug experimentations. You don’t have to become a narcotic agent and learn drug jargon, although that would help. Just do your best to become an informed parent.

     • Talk to your children. Yes, meet them eye-to-eye and talk about their values when it comes to drugs. Talk to them early in life about the dangers of drugs. Don’t wait until the night before high school graduation. Ask why people take drugs and what your children hear about them at school.

     • Teach your children what to do when confronted with drugs. Teach them how to say “No!” Help them develop an escape plan.

     • In all your conversations, don’t forget to warn your children about ketchup. The child’s life you save might be your own.

I wish someone had told me about the dangers of ketchup back when I was a teenager. I must confess: I’m hooked.

Insight: Uniformed parents will not be equipped to protect their children.

Prayer: Dear Father, every day, I worry about my children. While they’re with me, I can protect them from the world’s many evils. But I worry about the times they’re away from me. I know the enemy has laid snares for them and wants to steal them while they’re young.

Please Father, watch over and protect my children while they’re away from me, especially. Help me to be an informed, educated parent who can warn and instruct them of impending danger. Thank you for your protection over all of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.