The Bikini:A 16yo Girl’s Opinion ( and her mom’s too)

It’s summer time! Eight more days of school, the kids will be home driving me nuts and I’ll be counting down to send them back. With the summer comes the all ridiculous process of

SWIMSUIT SHOPPING!


I’m not going to spend my time complaining about not starting my gym routine, ohhh 3 years ago, like I should have. Instead, I’m going to answer the question:

Should I let my daughter wear a Bikini?

Yes, this a big National Fiasco involving Watergate, Oliver North and Monica Lewinsky, along side every conservative mom wanting to do what is best.

I think most every mom wants what is best…

I have a sixteen year old, God-Loving daughter and I have dressed her in bikinis since she was a little. With that said, know that I allow her to pick her own swimsuits and to wear bikinis if she choses.I also normally wear bikinis myself. Before I share me and my daughters thoughts I want to clarify that I believe there is a difference between a teeny-bikini and a two piece. There ARE some bikinis that are no doubt completely inappropriate. However, there are some two pieces that even though they may show more skin, to me, aren’t provocative.

I spent some time with Alyssa and asked HER a few questions about this whole bikini-question.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE WEARING A BIKINI MEANS YOU DON’T RESPECT YOUR BODY?

ALYSSA: Absolutely NOT. I completely respect my body. I am 16 years old, remain pure and treat my body with honor by eating right and exercising. A swimsuit does not determine my self-worth, either way. It’s actually offensive to me that people would think I don’t have self-respect just because I wear a bikini

MY THOUGHTS: I have taught my daughter to respect her body more than during the summer. Teaching her respect is more than encouraging a swimsuit choice once a year. We talk respect all the time and in all situations. We include things from drugs to eating to rest to purity to cursing to dating. I have witnessed several moms who never let their child wear a two-piece and those daughters now live in a way that does not honor their body or themselves. And like my daughter, I have always allowed her to wear two piece swimsuits, and she has total self-respect. Self-respect is a much deeper heart issue that can not be controlled by swimsuit choice.

DO YOU THINK THAT WEARING A BIKINI MAKES GUYS LUST OVER YOU?

ALYSSA: Boys are going to lust no matter what I wear. Why do we have to over-sexualize every single body part? I get that we want to be honoring to ourselves, but since when did my stomach or my back become a sexual organ? A one piece NORMALLY covers up the stomach but still shows a girl’s shoulders and back. And is tight fitting on the body, too. Seriously, I could be wearing anything, and by the way I simply act I can make a boy lust over me. Sometimes it’s about your attitude and how much power you give something. Also, we can’t say girls should cover up and never teach the boys to stop looking at us as objects. We also can’t cover up girls and then allow boys to show their stomachs. If we are going to cover our bodies because of the possibility of lust or sexual attraction, then both guys and girls need to be covered.

MY THOUGHTS: I have never brought any “sexual attention” to my daughter’s swimwear. We have always picked swimsuits because they are cute. There have been plenty of times that she and I have been trying on suits together and we both look at each other, knowing that this one or that one is a little too little. She feels uncomfortable in things that she knows are too provocative. I tend to agree that boys are going to check her out no matter what. That doesn’t give her permission to have no boundaries, it’s just a reality that you will never be able to control other peoples reactions, no matter what the attire.

(CODY, my 14 year old boy chimed in on this one: A swimsuit doesn’t matter. If a girl is pretty, boys are going to look. We are boys, afterall.)

WHAT MAKES YOU CHOOSE A BIKINI OVER A ONE PIECE?

ALYSSA: I just want a swimsuit I feel confident and comfortable in. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a bikini, tankini or a one-piece. If I see a suit that is cute, and it fits me well, I’m okay with it.

MY THOUGHTS: Again, I allow my daughter to choose what swimsuit she wears. I do this because I trust her. I trust her judgement, I trust the way she views herself. I trust her choices in relationships. I trust her relationship with Christ. I also do this because I don’t feel the need to control everything in her life. I have raised her with a Biblical-foundation and I know that if God needs to convict her about something He will, and she will listen. I also know that if I feel something is inappropriate and approach her on it, she will respect me and my thoughts.By no means am I mom who does not care about her or her well-being. I just have never given that much power to a piece of clothing, and because of that, neither has she.

WHAT IF THE MOM FEELS ONE WAY AND THE DAUGHTER ANOTHER?

ALYSSA: A compromise can be made! If the daughter wants to wear a bikini and mom says no, there are so many styles out there now that can give the daughter some voice while earning trust with mom in the “judgement” department. And moms can be happy knowing that her daughter is appropriately covered. High waisted swimsuits are super in style right now, and high neck halter tops tend to cover more in the front than smaller bikini tops. There are options. Make a day of it!

MY THOUGHTS: Mom always trumps! But before you play that card, I encourage every mom to ask themselves what is motivating their decision. I also encourage moms to consider the age of the daughter and the condition of their own heart and their daughters. There is so much to be taken into consideration. I wish I thought it was simple but I don’t, because every child is different. Some daughters can be trusted, while other’s might use it as a mean to gain attention from the opposite sex. (and in that case, a swimsuit choice isn’t going to fix anything). As a mom take the time to build that relationship with your daughter so that though she may not agree with you, she will respect you.

I also have two amazing step-daughters who are 16 & 19…Here are some of their general thoughts on girls wearing bikinis:

KAYLA: If nothing is being done to disrespect your body in that bikini I believe that it’s okay. Society makes us believe that showing too much skin or being too out there is inappropriate. I mean, hey, as a parent you can make your kids do as you please, but making them not wear a bikini because of “respect for their body” is ludicrous. It is society that makes us feel uncomfortable about a lot of things including our daughters showing too much skin– All of out fear of society calling them fast, or the boys double looking. What about a girl being able to be comfortable in her skin, and not care what other people think?

MY THOUGHTS: I think we have a responsibility to teach our daughters their identity in Christ, and to be content with how God has made them. One thing I have always taught my daughters is to never be ashamed of their bodies or how God created them. I spent too many years hating myself and being embarassed because I never felt like I was enough. Being a woman is a beautiful gift and we should never hide in shame or fear over the very essence of our creation. Sometimes our fear of the world dictates our decisions, and that can be detrimental.

KARAH: …things that aren’t such a big deal, can be made into mountains in the wrong hands. I agree that the ideologies of respect should be taught at a younger age, but also I believe in finding a common place of normalcy with our current society.The thing is, clothing isn’t the issue, it’s how a child perceives their dress code that becomes problematic….A proper foundation of knowledge at a young age will help girls understand how they are being looked at and what steps they to take in order to preserve their integrity. Strong teachings in a household along with proper examples will be MORE sufficient than completely limiting a popular style of swimwear.

I think it’s the type of bathing suit that matters. If I was a parent I really wouldn’t want my daughter wearing a tiny bikini, but something that doesn’t make my daughter look like a video-vixen, I’m ok with. At my age, no matter what you wear the opposite sex will be attracted to you. To be technical about what should be worn is too much to worry about. The sense of what is inappropriate has changed from generation to generation. In my opinion swimwear will always be opinionated and continue to change. We should raise children how we want them to become and by setting that tone hopefully they will gain the knowledge of respect we would want them to have for themselves.

MY THOUGHTS: We can exhaust ourselves with what to wear and what not to wear. Overall, it’s important for you as a mom to know why you feel the way you do, respect that your daughter is, after-all, a teenager, and struggles with self-esteem, to fit in and to honor all she has been taught about faith in Christ. Just as this isn’t easy for you, it is probably even harder for her. Lead by example, with love…lots and lots of love!

Navigating teenage years is like being the Captain of the Titanic. You definitely never now when an iceberg will pop up. Slow down, take a turn when necessary, and know that if you lean into Christ, he will take care of you and your daughter.

I want to know your thoughts! But not just whether or not you allow bikinis, but why? And what else do you do to build into and build up your daughter? Let’s learn from each other. Comment and Share!

Top 5 Church (Plant) Marketing Mistakes

Marketing is a necessary part of church planting in America. We would LOVE to think that the LORD will speak directly to every single person who needs to attend your church, placing a calling on their life. And He might…and He CAN. But LBR (let's be real), there are churches on every corner, and people have just as many choices on a Sunday morning as they do toothpaste at Walmart.

Marketing is important. People are impacted by your church, and God can use your marketing strategy to draw people to the work He is doing through you. But there are lots of marketing mistakes in church plants. Here are my top 5.

1. NOT INVESTING IN YOUR WEBSITE : Most church plants know that a website is necessary but are weary of investing too much money in one. A website is the new front door. As a church-planter and a new-church seeker, the website is the first thing I research. By the content and how “put together” the website is, I will make a decision on whether or not I will visit a church. Invest in your website, update your content, and make it easy to navigate. Use neutral lingo that church goers and non church goers can understand. Your website is your MOST powerful marketing tool!

2. SIGNS SIGNS SIGNS: Most churches do a great job advertising their church before Sunday, but once the BIG DAY comes…BLECH. MOST church plants are mobile, so no one is driving by your very own facility every day, noticing your building, remembering where you are. First time visitors (which is the GOAL here) need signs. They don't want to make U-Turns, or turn into the wrong parking lot. And you may think, “I have plenty of signs!” To which I ask, can anyone read them from the road? Size, color and font make a difference! Once there, visitors need to know where the bathroom is, and where to check in kids. Signs Signs Signs! It's better to OVER-educate than under!

3. ANNOUNCEMENTS: Announcements are the biggest pain for most churches. Where do you place them in the service?? What do you share? How do you communicate? Announcements share the heartbeat of your church. It shows what is important and it also sets the bar of expectation. Too many get lost, too few show a life-less church. Prioritize by deadlines, sign up requirement and volunteer need. (BTW: My personal thought is that each week, a different ministry should be asking for volunteers.) Refine your announcements. It is the tool that gets people taking the next step of involvement at your church.

4. SOCIAL MEDIA: People are on their phones/computers/ipads constantly. Social Media is the absolute best follow up with visitors and a great way to make announcements–especially the ones that didn't make the Sunday cut. I have followed tons of church plants on social media and the easiest and the marketing platform that's FREE is not used nearly enough or as effectively. The only thing Social Media costs is time. Programs like HOOTSUITE help you link your social media and time out posts so that you the bi-vocational pastor can post an encouragement from Sunday's message even though he's teaching Math. Use your SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!

5. STAY PUT: I've packed up and tore down and set up and moved and considered and UGH! the frustrations of church planting! The most frustrating is finding a space. But if at all possible, stay put! If you are investing in marketing financially, every move undoes the work and effort you've done in the last six months. Also, moving even just a block or two can change the entire dynamic of your church and you will find you might serve a totally different demographic than you were expecting (not that this is bad, but you must be prepared). Re-think your space if you can't make at least a one year commitment. When picking a place, remember that you are only as big as your smallest space. (finding an effective children's area is close to impossible). Think outside the box!

Invest in marketing your church! If someone shows up on Sunday and God touches their life, it will be worth it all! And if you need to hire a consultant, give me a shout out! tiffany@tiffanycrawford.org

What has effectively marketed your church plant? Comment and share with me, I'm always interested in new ideas.

The Pressure of Making Memories (Not Me, Sister)

Memories. Every good mom wants her child to have great memories when they grow older. Every good mom wants her kids to talk and laugh around the Christmas tree in twenty years about the amazing presents they received when they were little. Every good mom wants her children to tear up at the fondness of eating fresh vegetables from the backyard garden that was created and tilled by the hands of the family that one, long, beautiful summer.


This trend in mommy-hood could possibly be fueled by Pinterest.

Or the growing number of Christian stay at home moms.

Or the unresolved issues we have as moms because we had crappy childhoods.

Well, allow me to clarify. I had a little bit of a crappy childhood. But it wasn't all crappy. I have great memories. However I don't remember my mom or my grandmother saying, “Let's do this so we can create memories.” or “We need to make memories today so we should…”

We did things because they were fun or because they were tradition. We went places to discover someplace new, or something new about ourselves. We played in the water hose and picked blackberries off the vine because my grandma did not want all of us kids in her house. We did things because we were just living.

I've put lots of thought into this subject, and by lots I mean- while I was driving picking up kids today and by that- I mean a few hours. I believe I'm a pinch guilty of wanting my kids to have great memories. I don't think I go out of my way to make it happen, but I do, in fact, want my kids to like their childhood. That's why we dye Easter eggs and why I spend too much money, and anxiety on Christmas.

But there is something I want more than my kids someday having great childhood memories.

I want my kids to be unforgettable adults.

I want them to make huge decisions for Christ, and I want them to stand firm and stand up when things are going wrong. I want my kids to be associated with other memorable adults of history: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks and JFK, and Mozart and Elvis and Mark Twain.

and Jesus.

My decisions for my kids will be based on how to make them strong, Christ-following adults who are rooted in an identity that is unshakeable. I'm not saying moms who want memories for their kids don't want those things, too. For me, I'm just afraid that focusing so much on creating memories will breed kids who think life is just full of fun and amazing moments. I mean, what happens when nothing phenomenal is created for them? Or what happens when no one is there to entertain them? Or what happens when they have to start paying bills and life just sucks? Because sometimes, life just sucks.

I wonder sometimes if Jesus' childhood wasn't left out of Scripture because it would just pressure moms even more than we already pressure ourselves. I'm certain Jesus had memorable moments with Mary and Joseph and his siblings, but what was more important was the ministry He was created for. I believe THAT is what matters most for my kids. Preparing them for the ministry they were created for.

Over the next few weeks I will write some posts on what decisions I make so that my kids will become Unforgettable Adults. You might not agree with them all, or maybe something will inspire you. Either way, I hope you will follow along.

What are some of your favorite childhood memories? Share with me, I'd love to hear them!

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

LG|LP -Tiff

Can #BanBossy Make a Difference

One of the things I was called often as a little girl was “BOSSY”. Whenever I played teacher or soccer I was the little girl who told everyone what to do. When I played Barbie, I told everyone what Barbie and her friends said to each other.

You pretend to ring the doorbell, and then I will say “Hey, come on in.” and then you will say, “It's so good to see you, I brought you a present.” And you have to bring me a present, like that little kitty over there.

Or something like that.

Even now as an adult, I'm pretty Bossy. And the surprising thing is, I'm not offended by it…not then, not now. Because it's true. I'm bossy.

The real problem begins when we tell our kids that they should be offended by something because of our own insecurities and our own failures or our own fears. That's what Beyonce and other famous women are doing with the #BanBossy campaign. I never gave a second thought to the word bossy because no grown up ever told me it was a bad thing.

But now….Now we have an entire, well-funded campaign to help girls to unnecessaritly form negative opnions. The #BanBossy campaign tells little girls that the word Bossy is bad but the word Boss is good. It tells adults to not use the word Bossy about little girls anymore so that girls can 'take charge'. The campaign barks that we should use the word “leader” instead. The website claims the word bossy lowers the self-esteem of little girls (without any data to back it up, I'd like to mention). But like one tweet I read said: No one over the age of 10 says that word.

It's going to take more than changing a word to change the future for little girls.

A word is not the problem.

A label is not the problem.

The problem is that little girls don't know their worth…and not their worth according to the world.

Tonight I got the perfect example of what the world thinks of girls, and the lies these girls believe. I attended the yearly mandatory high school cheer meeting. All the other moms and I grabbed our “packets” when we walked in the door, and were asked to hand a $300 down payment on the way out.

I support my daughter in cheer because 1. I love her 2. I love her and 3. I love her. She's a gifted encourager, loves to dance and looks cute with her hair in a bow.


Besides that, I hate everything American Cheer represents…the excessive, unnecessary spending/buying, the jealousy, gossip, backstabbing and hatefulness of “the team”, and demanding coaches who try to convince me that three new uniforms are necessary for five district games.

I witnessed all of these things at this 45 minute introductory meeting and said to myself, “Tiff–this is what is wrong with girls.”

The cost of the camp-week uniforms cost more than camp itself. We were told, “All camp wear is necessity.”

All 5 bows…Every pair of $20 shorts. What these girls are really being told is that how you look is more valuable than what you learn.

When the coach announced that every single cheerleader is eligible to be cheer captain without any prerequisite, the squeals erupted–and not squeals of excitement. Hands went up with questions, “why coach?” “you can't do that coach.” When the coach stood her ground and stood by her decision, the insecure-filled gossip flew through the room.

These girls are believing that every other girl around them is a threat.

These girls are believing that they can disrespect authority behind their back after falsely respecting authority to their face.

These girls are believing that it's not fair to be “bossed” around by someone you don't like or agree with.

These girls don't like the word Boss as much as #BanBossy claims they don't like the word Bossy.

The lies don't just saturate the cheerleaders. The volleyball players believe their own set of lies. The artists have theirs. The thespians believe theirs and the uninvolved have theirs.

And these lies are not going to disappear because we stop using the word bossy.

The only way to replace a lie is with the truth.

The truth:

Every little girl is so worthy because there is a man who not only was willing to die for them, but he actually did. And he did this because He wants to know and love them unconditionally. So what this really means is that :

It doesn't matter what you wear to cheer camp.

It doesn't matter who is the cheer captain.

It doesn't matter how you look in your volleyball spandex.

it doesn't matter that you could care less about school activities.

It doesn't matter if you are the boss

It doesn't matter if someone calls you bossy.

#BanBossy is simply a band-aid. It's a seeming solution but the problem is rooted so deeply, no celebrity, no removal of a word can solve the future problems our girls face. You can take away every word in the dictionary, it won't matter.

All that matters is that every girl is worthy and valuable simply because we are all created and are unique in looks, personality, gifts. Our girls need stop being fed that a simple observation of them, that a word can determine their future. #BanBossy is another way for girls to learn to depend on themselves…and human nature always disappoints. Instead, let's teach our girls that a word has no power over the realities of what was done on the cross. Now THAT is a message that can make a difference.

 

Running is Overrated

As the day comes to a close and the Texas heat goes from Scorching to Hot, the people emerge from their homes to exercise off the six-pack of Coronas and the dozen tortillas they consumed the weekend before. I notice these people, but not in envy. Being envious would imply that I wish I were exercising. That is rarely–well, no—that’s never the case.

I see this guy as I’m driving by. Young twenties, maybe. He was running. Well a version of running anyway. His feet shuffling, the sweat pouring from his face, drenching his hair. A pained expression that screamed to the world, “just hit me with your car and put me out of my misery.”

I asked myself, “Why?” Really. Why would anyone want to do that to themselves? Don’t comment to tell me about the importance of health or the endorphins or the benefits of exercise. Because it will sound like the Charlie Brown adults:

wah wah wah-wah wah, wah-wah wah wah-wah. And I won’t care. I understand we should exercise and take care of our bodies, but I couldn’t help myself from asking one question.

Why can’t he just walk?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Push ourselves to pain just to prove something–what?! I don’t know. But we push ourselves into the pain of debt, or the pain of exercising until we look like we’re going to die. (I seriously just don’t get this whole Crossfit thing).

Then there is the pain of pleasing every whim of our children or the pain of trying to make someone else happy. We even make our relationship with Jesus painful, when it was never designed to be. There are rules to follow: read those 5 chapters in the Bible, say those Hail Marys, volunteer every moment of spare time. Painfully we trudge through, shuffling our feet, sweat in our eyes so we can’t see, wondering where the peace and joy come from.

Running through life is even a hot topic in the ministry world. Churches struggle with creating Bible Studies and Small Groups, women’s events, Men’s retreats because people perceive it as clutter and commitment. Churches don’t want to compete with soccer and cheerleading. Churches don’t want to be “one more thing to do”. In fact, Jesus doesn’t want to be “one more thing to do.”

So instead of literally running your self in the ground trying to do this life, just walk. Walk with Him. Slowly, so you can chat it up and not run out of breath. So that every so often you can get so engrossed in conversation with Him, you actually stop right there, in the middle of the walkway and face each other so He can see your eyes and you can see His face

Only then will the pain go away. Just walk.