Parenting Cats.


^^The Spitaletto family from left to right: Jack, Stephanie, Dylan, Sara, Lindsay, and Tommy^^

Four teenagers.

Yep that’s right — four independence-seeking, hormonally challenged, brains-not-fully-developed teenagers. All at one time! What were we thinking?

We personally are dog people. But it was written somewhere that teenagers are like cats

They don’t turn their heads when you call. They never walk around with you in public. Whatever you do for them is never enough. And they tear up the furniture.

As parents of four cats, we often get asked how do you do it!?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter how many cats you have (of any age). Parenting is hard. Really hard.

And that’s why we need Jesus.

The two of us would be overwhelmed as parents without knowing that raising kids is not our job any way.

It’s God’s.

He has (for some reason) chosen to work through two broken vessels to help guide these four teenagers toward becoming well-adjusted, contributing members of society…And hopefully beacons of light in a dark world.

There have been more than a few bumps in the road and lessons learned the hard way, a couple of which we’ve been asked to share.

Remember, you’re on THEIR side . . .  

During the daily frustrations of dealing with one or more of these little creatures, it often seems like you’re in a prize fight. You’re in one corner, and they’re in the other.

Whoever blinks first . . . loses.

Perhaps the most profound lesson the Lord taught us is something that should be obvious:

Our kids are not the enemy.

So, take off the gloves and remember that you’re on their side.

It’s not US [the parents] versus THEM [the kids].

It’s US [the family, with God’s help] versus THEM [the powers of darkness].

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

So next time our kids frustrate us (i.e. later today), let’s remember that we’re not battling them.

We (and our kids) are battling forces of evil that want to take all of us down a selfish, destructive road.

Realizing that THE ENEMY is our enemy (and not our kids) also shows us how to overcome our parenting challenges. Jesus told us how. The only way to defeat the real enemy is with God’s Word.

Anytime we have been faced with teaching these four cats a moral or spiritual lesson, we always try to go to Scripture. It’s actually the easy way out.

“Why can’t I see that new movie, Mom? I know it’s about [violence, language, sexuality or any other enticing evil of Hollywood], but everyone is seeing it!”

Rather than saying “WE [your out-of-touch parents] don’t think you should . . .,” it’s much easier to point out that GOD directs them to keep their thoughts pure and focus on heavenly things. (Phil 4:8)

Scripture is absolute. It teaches, it corrects, it encourages. Without Scripture, teenagers see our rules as arbitrary. With Scripture, they’re not our rules. They’re God’s rules.

Let’s remember that we are on our kids’ side in this battle, and scripture is our best weapon.

Don’t let them “act like teenagers”…

As described above, these cats certainly do have some common characteristics. But being a “teenager” should not be an excuse for misbehavior or laziness.

Society tells teenagers that it’s their time to rebel and do what they want, before they have to “grow up” and act like adults. But when did being young become an excuse for being foolish?

The term “teenager” wasn’t even coined until the early 20th century. Until then you were a young child, and then an adult. A lot was expected of even 12, 13, 14 year olds . . . and still should be.

Timothy was only about 15 years old when he joined Paul’s important ministry (and was well-respected in his home town of Lystra even before that).

Let’s not rob our children of the opportunity to be a part of God’s unfolding plan by giving them the excuse of “acting like a teenager.”

Any thoughts?

This blog was written by Tommy and Stephanie Spitaletto. They are leaders of our seniors in The Heights Student Ministry. They are parents to Lindsay (17), Jack (15), Dylan (13), and Sara (13).

Land of the Free, Home of the…LIES?!

As a staff we challenge ourselves to stay up to date with current cultural trends so that we can better understand where our students are coming from as we minister to them. In doing that this week, we came across this article that outlines the five foundational lies that we are fed daily as American. Sadly, we see these lies coloring our own lives and know that they deeply impact the ideology of all Americans, including our students.

Here are the five lies that American culture feeds us daily–

1) You can be anything you want to be. 

2) Your actions have no bearing on anybody else.

3) There is only one road you can take. 

4) Individualism is a noble pursuit.

5) If you are not busy, you are lazy. 

Check out the full article here. The thing we love most about this article is the Truth-filled way that the author dispels each of these lies in light of the Gospel. Nothing can change until the Lord shows us our sin, brings us to repentance, and makes us aware of our desperate need for Jesus, like Pastor Gary taught yesterday as we entered into the story of Deborah as a church family. We love Relevant Magazine, and other organizations like them, who preach the Truth boldly in the midst of a hurricane of lies that assaults us daily.

Hasta luego, Honduras.

The Honduras team is back in America, safe and sound. We had a long day of travel on Thursday, finally touching down at DFW around 11:30 pm. Let me catch you up to speed on what happened during our last full day in Honduras!

Wednesday morning the team split in half again. The team that painted yesterday went out and laid pilas (outdoor sinks) for two families near Promise Home. The other team that installed pilas yesterday painted at the orphanage. It was the hottest day yet, but such a great day. Laying pilas is no cake walk, but is by far one of my (Mollie) favorite things that we got to do in Honduras. It’s such a sweet way to minister to these families. The pila process consists of shoveling dirt, creating a homogenous pile of dirt and cement, and then making a bowl like structure to mix the dirt/cement mixture with water to create the substance that will securely anchor the pila to the ground outside of the family’s home. Each pila process was about an hour and a half to two hours long.



IMG_7246After securing the pila outside the family’s home, our group had the privilege of circling up with the family and praying for them. Richard Covington, the Engage pastor at The Height’s, told each family our motivation for this gift of love–the compelling love of Christ–and prayed that they would see this pila as a gift of God’s grace and faithfulness to them. What a glimpse of the Kingdom of God impacting these family and community! Praying that God uses the pilas that our team laid to bring hope, joy and salvation to each family and community that it is in.

After we finished up pila work and painting, our team gathered together and loaded up the bus. We drove out to Tela, which is a beach community about 45 minutes away from Promise Home. This drive makes you marvel at God’s handiwork, as you weave through the lush landscape out to the beach. We stopped on the way and bought some local fruits, called lychees and mangosteens, for the team to sample. Once we arrived in Tela, we went to a resort for the afternoon. We ate lunch, played in the ocean, soaked in God’s beauty, and celebrated all that God did in and through us during our time in Honduras. It was the perfect way to end our time ministering together in Honduras.


Here are a few more student testimonials of how God moved in them during their time in Honduras–

On our first full day in Honduras I met a little girl. I was unable to catch her name due to the fact that she said it so fast in Español. But I remember she was wearing a light pink and blue plaid dress and was barefoot. I noticed that she had been following me around a little bit and finally when I decided to sit down, she took a seat a few feet away from me. I felt like the Lord put her there for a reason, so I grabbed her and put her onto my lap. After I did that, the biggest grin formed on her face when she looked at me. She did not know any English and I only know a few words in Spanish, but because of the Lord we were able to communicate whether it was from pointing, hugging, or high fiving. This showed me firsthand that God’s love is able to break down any language barrier. And I was so fortunate that I was able to experience the Lord’s love in the time that I spent with her. Before she left she hugged me and called me “Amiga”(friend). She will never leave my prayers. “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)
-Jamie Cole, junior at Plano East Senior High School

My favorite part of the trip in Honduras was either when we did door-to-door Evangelism, or when I played Noah in the Story of Noah for the children at the school. I really enjoyed going to the houses in the neighborhood, sharing my story with them and inviting them to go to the Promise Home Church. Through this I realized how fortunate I am as a person. These people are very lacking when it comes to materials. They have houses made of sticks. And I have a house and everything I could ever want. But the difference between us and them is that they are so happy and joyful about life. I’ve never seen any person more happy than the people I met in Honduras. So I hope to find this unending joy they possess. Preforming the Story of Noah to the children at the school was also an incredible experience. We got to impact their lives, entertain them, and share our stories and the Gospel with them. I could see in their eyes that they desperately needed Jesus. And that’s what I got to be apart of giving them. That is what I enjoyed most about the trip.
-Matthew Ord, junior at JJ Pearce High School
On Sunday during the river baptism service, something that stood out to me was that after every person was baptized, the friends and family members sang a song in Spanish. Our translator did not catch all of the words, but essentially it started with saying that the person being baptized was following the same path as Jesus did, and then they just praised The Lord. Kids were climbing over rocks and standing in the water to get a closer look. People climbed all the way down the mountain to be there. They were overflowing with joy when their friends and family members were baptized. It made me realize how sometimes we can get lazy with our relationships with others and with God, and going to church and spending time with God becomes routine for us. For example, when someone is baptized at our church, we don’t celebrate our new brother or sister coming to Christ as much as these people do. For us, sometimes it becomes just something that happens within our routine of going to church. I feel that while these people are just so joyful, we sometimes become too comfortable to fully appriciate all that The Lord does in our lives and other peoples’ lives.
-Madi Mullen, freshman at Vines High School
We are so proud of our students and how the Lord used them and stirred in them this week. They served with gladness, pouring their hearts out and investing the Gospel into every person they encountered this week. As we finished our final debrief in the Miami airport, we deemed our word walking back into “normal life” as expectancy. What are we expecting God to do in us and through us DAILY? How are we expecting Him to build His Kingdom all around us and how does He want to use us in that? How are we praying expectantly for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done? Because if we aren’t expecting God to move, then it’s no wonder that we end the day without seeing Him move. He’s moving, oh how He’s moving! It’s just a matter of whether or not we die to ourselves and our self-reliance and are raised to life as awakened people fighting for His Kingdom, expecting Him to move even in the mundane. We don’t walk away trying to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and be “better Christians.” No. We walk away setting up our time in Honduras as an Ebenezer of all God has done until now, and relying on Him fully to continue to move in us and through us in our day-to-day life. Wherever our feet fall, this is our mission field.
The same goes to you too, dear reader. How are you expecting God to move in your life today and through your life today?

Honduras Day 3

The sun has set on another day in Honduras and our hearts are overflowing with the glimpses of the Kingdom that we’ve seen while we’ve been here. This morning started off a little fishy as we got to see how the tilapia at Promise Home is processed. Some of us even got to participate in this process! What a fin-tastic way to start the day! From there we led VBS at a local school, then we ate lunch and had a little bit of down time to rest at the church. For the afternoon we split into two teams–one that stayed and painted at the Promise Home Orphanage and another that went and installed pilas (outdoor sinks) at two homes in the mountains.
Tonight we ate a delicious dinner and had a rich debriefing discussion, digging into what is the Kingdom of God, how is God advancing His Kingdom here and what it’s like for us to live as citizens in His Kingdom in our daily lives. Tonight was a huge lightbulb moment across the board as the Lord revealed Himself and His Kingdom to us in a fresh way. Discussions have been going on in some form or fashion for the past three hours as all of us continue to unpack what the Father is showing us. I am in awe of what the Lord is doing in these students and leaders and my own life. Here’s a word from four students about their time here so far–
Today was probably the most joy-filled day of the week I experienced. I literally woke up and instantly felt the joy of the Lord, and I knew it was going to be a great day. I knew it was going to be different, because I usually don’t wake up early in an enthusiastic mood! Also before even starting the day, my roommate Kate and I prayed and it made all the difference. Getting to work with the children with my team of friends was probably the most memorable experience. In that time, things didn’t necessarily go as planned, but flexibility was something that we weren’t afraid of because God is more than capable of working under any circumstances. And I think the coolest part for me was seeing no one freak out that things changed, but seeing everyone with a smile and just going along with things, even though they weren’t apart of the plan. In our walk with Christ, not everything goes as we may plan it. We come across some bumps, sometimes even mountains. But, we should take those obstacles with joy (James 1) and know that God has faith in us and ultimately, He has our back. And no where in life are things going to be always in our full control, and that’s okay because…. LIFE.. But, in those times God is the peace in the midst of the storm, you just have to be still and know He is in control.
-Tino Charuma, sophomore at North Garland High School
Today my group and I two laid pilas. Seeing how grateful this family was for us to give them a sink with water from a river full of dirty water was so eye-opening. When we finished the first one, the grown man that lives there was crying. It was very humbling to see how happy they are. Yesterday morning my group acted out the story of Noah for VBS at a school. The kids were asked why they think our group is in Honduras and a little girl said, “to see how happy we are.” For someone who has struggled with depression since I was in elementary school, hearing this brought tears to my eyes. They are the most joyful people I have ever met and it is so contagious.
“And JESUS said to them, for men this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
-Hannah McKnight, senior
Today, I got to be Noah in the bible story for the kids and it was very fun! I also got to share my testimony and was suprised that I could say most of it in Spanish. Pastor Al Domo, the pastor of Promise Home Church, even said that my Spanish was very good! Payton, Matthew, and I played soccer with the kids during rec and it was so joyful even though we were playing in a flooded field. It was really awesome to see all the kids so happy to receive gift bags with toothpaste and soap and toys that we gave them. During the second half of the day I stayed at the orphanage and helped prime some of the rooms. After finishing a couple of rooms, Payton and Madi decided to prime me and I ended up getting prime all in my hair and body. It took a good 5 minutes to get most of it out! I am thankful for fun memories and even more so for what God is doing. I really like it here and hope that even more people could come experience what I’ve seen this trip so far!
-Travis West, junior at Lake Highlands
The Lord has shown me and challenged me so much this week. I have learned that I am selfish and blessed beyond measures. Our society lives on a schedule. We often forget how much we have, and forget to look at the blessings the Lord has given us. We take so much for granted, even the smallest things like cars to go to church. Some people walk up to 50 minutes just to go to church here. Often I find that our relationships with Christ are staged, but here in Honduras their relationships with the Lord are so genuine. They worship like I have never seen people worship. Life is truly so much more than how many followers we have on social media or what brand of clothes we wear. The people here have nothing and they are more polite and grateful than any other person I have ever met. Most of the time their only hope is Jesus. I often find my hope in earthly desires. My perspective on life is so different than when I left the US. I cannot wait to see how the Lord is going to continually move in the people in Honduras and how he is going to use what I have learned this week when I go back.
-Kallie Galvan, freshman at Shelton High School
The Lord is active and moving (I keep saying this, but it’s the only way I know how to describe the work of God that is happening here!) and we are truly giddy over what He’s doing. Join me in praying over our last full day tomorrow. We get to do some more painting and lay some more pilas. We are excited and expectant for God to continue making His Kingdom manifest to us and through us. Thank you all for sharing in this journey with us!

Honduras Day 2.

We’ve been in Honduras for two full days now and the Lord is active and moving and changing us. We’ve experienced so much and there is much to be processed in light of all the Lord has revealed to us thus far. Four students sat down and wrote out what the Lord’s stirring in their hearts to give you a glimpse into what the Lord’s doing through our time in Honduras.

This trip has already been so eye opening and it’s only just begun. We started off doing door-to-door evangelism in the villages. While visiting, I had the opportunity to share my story. It was so cool to see how in my brokenness, the Lord used it to bring hope and comfort to the people we visited. It’s been awesome to experience God working through this group of people as we serve Him together. Honduras is beautiful and it’s been incredible to be surrounded by his creation that we so often take for granted. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us the rest of the trip and what God will do.

Annie Stevens, junior at Wylie High School

Before we came to Honduras, I had been praying before for God to change people’s lives while I was here. I prayed it, but in my head I didn’t actually think that God was going to do that. Yesterday we were visiting people in a village near Promise Home and I got to meet this really old, lonely, lady. She spoke no English so one of the bi-lingual Honduras ladies translated. The translator asked Mollie to read a verse and she prayed for the Lord to lead her to a verse and He led her to Proverbs 2:6-10. The translator read Proverbs 2:6-10 to her. The lady instantly started smiling and laughing and proceeded to say she wanted to accept Christ. I was able to pray over her and lead her through it. After this experience, I was so convicted by how I underestimate God’s power to lead people to him.

Graham Varnell, sophomore at the Plano Academy

We have only been in Honduras for 2 days and it has already impacted me a ton. While driving through the city, I could easily see the tremendous amount of poverty that surrounded me. Going into the trip I knew that Honduras was full of poverty, but I didn’t know to what expect. Going to the schools and being with the kids made me realize how selfish I have become. They joy the kids had on their faces when they received a toothbrush was amazing. I have become too comfortable and taken things for granted that other people around the world truly want and need.  Also, God has dispelled my doubts about language being a large barrier. I realized that the gospel is not limited to just words. The Lord uses many things to spread His love to His people. God is not just the Lord of America or Honduras, but of all nations. He is a good Father and watches over all of His people.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 4:1-2)

Payton Esparza, junior at Allen High School

One of the things that has moved me on this trip already is seeing how much the Hondurans don’t have much and how much we take for granted. We say we want things and we need things like Starbucks and Chipotle and new iPhones, but we don’t need those things. These people need clean water and better food. We hate going to school and our school food. These kids in the village want to be there and learn as much as they can to have a better life. This is challenging me so much. Being off social media and not having the access to text people all the time has made this experience even better. Another thing that has been amazing is getting to know everyone on this trip. I’ve met two amazing freshman that I can grow with the next few years, which makes me so happy. I love Honduras and how I am getting to see the nature God created and to be apart of God changing people’s life.

Kate Dickson, sophomore at Sachse High School

This is only a small glimpse of the how Father is drawing us closer to Himself through our time here. Pray for God to continue to open our eyes to see Him and move in and through us as we lead VBS at another school in the local village of Toyos, paint at the Promise Home Orphanage, and install peelas (outdoor sinks) at two homes. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

Honduras Bound!

Coming at you live from the hustle and bustle of DFW airport! 

After six months of training, prayer and preparation, a team of 11 students and 9 adults from the Heights is taking off to Honduras. We will be doing painting and work projects at the Promise Home Orphanage to continue the preparation for it to be ready to open it’s doors. We also get the privilege of putting on some Kid’s Clubs at the Promise Home Church and local schools. 

They are beginning to call for us to board our plane as I type this! We are heading to Miami, where we will have a quick connection to our flight into San Pedro Sula, Honduras tonight. We are set to arrive around 8:00 pm and then will journey about an hour to our hotel in El Progreso. 

Tomorrow morning we hit the ground running! We are looking forward to leading Children’s Church in the morning, celebrating baptisms of some locals in the afternoon and then attending church tomorrow night. 

I (Mollie) will be updating from Honduras throughout the week with pictures and blurbs about what wemre experiencing and what the Lord’s doing. 

Join us in praying 

  • For God to open our eyes to what He’s doing in Honduras
  • For Him to break our hearts for what breaks His
  • For the Lord to move and build relationships and bridge the language barrier
  • To humble us and rid us of ourselves so that we might know Him more clearly and fully
  • For the Father to rock our worlds and change everything this week

To follow what’s happening, you can keep up with this blog, @heightsstudents Twitter and Instagram, and the Heights Student Ministry Facebook page. Our official trip hashtag is #THSMhon15 for you to keep up with all the happenings of the trip!