Sorry doesn’t cut it …

Ever said those words? I have heard it in my store, in the grocery store, today at a park … everywhere. Families interacting … the hectic pace of the holidays … the short tempers … selfishness … stubbornness … both in children and adults.  When the offender is called to task for their behavior they utter a meager ‘sorry’.  To which the other responds, “sorry doesn’t cut it”.  How many times do you hear your child say they are sorry and know they do not mean it?  How many times do you utter the word ‘sorry’ because it is expected? Worse, how many times do you tell the Lord sorry for the same repeated offense?

Children are watching.  They see you tell God you are sorry and tell others you are sorry. They watch you tell your spouse you are sorry and hopefully they hear you tell them you are sorry when you should.   How you say you are sorry is more than likely the same way they will grow up telling others they are sorry.

An apology should equal in fervency the intensity of the insult, accusation or ‘crime’.   Did you get that?  Think about what it means.  Sometimes sorry does not cut it … you need to really apologize in equal proportion to how much you hurt them.  NOT how much you think you would have been hurt in their place, but, listening carefully to them express their pain, you respond in kind with your words and actions.

However, that being said, do not hold your breath for someone to apologize.  God has to deal with some people a long time before they learn how to apologize and mean what they say.  You must learn to let go, and teach your children how to ‘let it go’.  The Bible says:

Ephesians 4:26 “don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry…”

We should keep short accounts and not hold grudges.  NEVER go to bed mad.  That was one of my rules when the girls were home.  No tears or pain will be remembered as deeply as the knowledge that you let someone slip away without settling accounts.  I often have said how glad I was that my middle brother and I talked early in the morning and were on good accounts when the plane crash took him away that day.

Start today with telling God how sorry you really are and do not repeat patterned prayers.  Talk to Him.  Let your children hear apologies and make sure you include an apology to them. when needed.   Always make sure you go to whom God places on your conscience through the Holy Spirit and make real apologies that fall in line with the real pain inflicted.  Keep tabs of your accounts and keep them short.

?? What IF? ??




What IF?  I had a teacher that instilled in her class to ask, “What IF?”.   Basically, she was teaching us to ‘think it through’.  There are those that say, “if only I had”, or “if things were different”, etc.   But, what she wanted us to learn was to weigh the consequences.  God’s word has many ‘ifs’, too many to list in a short space like a blog.  But, here is the idea …

2 Chronicles 7:14

IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

“IF” … “then”.   That is a cause and effect.  Throughout the Bible God says, “if” we do something, “then” something will happen.  Society has forgotten there are consequences.  God expects us to teach our children to THINK through, to be responsible, to understand consequences.   This was one of my favorite object lessons in classes at the high schools where I worked.  There were teenagers following the crowd, the media, Hollywood.  They were not thinking for themselves.   IF only their parents had taught them to ‘think through things’, in scenario form, THEN maybe these students would have been making wiser choices.   Of course I was not allowed to teach morality.  BUT, I was allowed to teach them to think.  In fact I was encouraged to engage students in thinking as part of my job.

In almost every class somewhere during the day, students would get into an ‘current issues’ debate.  While I could not instigate the debate or ‘throw’ in my views (unless specifically asked), I could interject “WHAT IF?”   That would always get things going.   Their first question back would always be, “what if WHAT?”   At this point I would look at both sides of the discussion and ask them to explain, “what if you are WRONG?”  Here are some  brief examples from some of the classes to show you how we started (the discussions were much longer of course and they really had to think out why they believed what they believed):

ABORTION:   “What if you are wrong?”
ProChoice: “Then they have murdered innocent lives.”  ProLife:  “A baby will be born”.
JESUS IS LORD:  “What if you are wrong?”
Atheist, other religions: “They are going to hell.”  Christians: “They have lived a life of service, love, and good.”
PREMARITAL SEX: “What if you are wrong?”
Believe it’s ok: They are adulterers, fornicators, guilt, health risks for nothing etc.
Abstinence until marriage:  “They have purity, no guilt, little health risks.

Starting children when they are young to ask “what if they are wrong”, will help them as pre-teens and teens to handle peer pressure and to think on their feet.  It will help them as adults to make important decisions, especially when satan* is making everything ‘gray’.   When your little one is thinking about doing something wrong and you see them, do not yell “DON’T”.   Instead, use our Heavenly Father’s model.  “If” …. “then“.   (Now obviously, I am not talking about when they are about to reach for a hot curling iron, are touching a sharp tool, or doing anything dangerous.)   It is important to instill in them the ability to reason, to question, to make good decisions … to think on their feet.    So look at them and tell them they have the opportunity to make a decision like a big boy or girl … tell them to make sure it is a good decision and ask them, “what if you are wrong?”

Use every opportunity you can when your child is disobeying to look at them and tell them they are making a decision.  Make them aware of their actions.  Tell them IF they continue to not listen and to disobey, THEN you will have to punish them.  IF they obey, THEN they reap the good consequences.  PLUS, most little children like knowing they pleased their parent.   Children like to know their parents are proud of them.  Make sure you acknowledge their good decisions and tell them how proud you are of them.

As an adult this should ring true in your life.  Daily, we have decisions, choices … some we rationalize and make gray when they are not.  God’s word says “IF” … “THEN“.  We have decisions to make and God has filled the Bible with the wisdom we need to make those decisions.  Yet, like children, many times we CHOOSE to disobey willingly and then whine when we receive the punishment and consequences.  Why?  WE chose them, not Him.  He told us what would happen.   God’s word says in Isaiah 5 (and so many other passages) ‘woe be unto you’ when you make wrong choices.   Wrong choices, a.k.a. SIN.

Do you have a decision to make today?  Talk it out in front of your child.  Use it as an opportunity to teach them how to decide.   Take every opportunity to show your child and let them watch you asking yourself, “what if I am wrong?” … ‘what if I am right?”

*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.

Will They Be Like You?


We recently learned that our youngest daughter is expecting a boy in December.  We have two wonderful granddaughters by our oldest daughter so this will be the first grandson.  Well of course I had to go walk through the baby department to see what is out there for boys.  As I was browsing I heard this loud voice and I looked and there was this very tall, athletic man on a Blue-tooth talking away.  He had a little 7-8 year old girl tagging behind.   They were in the little girls department next to infants so I could hear and see the whole incident.  Obviously dad had her out to look for things for her.  Maybe mom had the little one’s at home, maybe it was his weekend … it really did not matter, it simply was not ‘her time’.  The conversation went like this, “yeah man, it was like that game when the Bucs (Tampa Bay’s football team) played … you know, the year before they won the Superbowl”.   OK, time reference here … the man is discussing a game circa 2001.  His little girl probably was not born.  I wanted to shake him and say, “look at her face … see your child … what are you doing?”   I wanted to go to the little girl and tell her to pull up Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle” and play it for her dad.

Where is your focus?  Children know when they are not getting your best.  God’s word says in Matthew chapter 6, that He loves us and cares for us.  He knows our every need and want and He takes care of us.  As Christians we are to mirror God’s parenting as we parent our children.  I do not see God with a cell phone in His hand, watching His favorite TV show, or reading a book.   He is not out playing some sports game, or going to some event at our expense.  Our children get their value of themselves from us.  We tell them by our actions how valuable they are.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing things for yourself as long it is not at your child’s expense.  No matter if you chose to be a parent at this time or not, you are the parent.   The child comes first.

I remember growing up watching a relative with their kids and comparing them to my parents in my head.   If there was a cake to be divided that parent would always make sure they got a piece,  the biggest piece.  Yet if there was dessert on our table, my mom (who LOVED dessert and would eat it at the beginning of the meal  if she could) always made sure we got some and then if any was left she had some.  One time  my dad gave mom the money to go buy herself a new coat, TWICE.  After she returned from the store twice with things for all her five children, the third time dad drove her to the store and stayed until she bought herself a coat.  She taught us how valuable we were.  It was not just ‘things’ either.  She spent time on her knees for us; she made our favorite foods; she went to the school events; was PTA and band booster presidents.  She invested her life in us.  She was a mom first, and “Gwen” … well, after all others’ needs were met.

My goal was to grow up to be a mom like her and to raise children that felt loved and valued and then they would pass it on to the next generation.   Throughout the Old Testament (like in Leviticus and I Samuel) there are stories told of ‘sins of the fathers’ being passed on to generations.  Basically, this means sin begets sin.  A drunk raises drunks; a thief raises a thief, a liar a liar …  an adulterer raises an adulterer; and an inattentive and unloving parent raises another generation of inattentive and unloving parent.  The cycle stops when someone in the chain makes a conscious decision to repent of the pattern of sin in their family and chooses to move forward in God’s strength leaving the past sins of the father’s behind.  Then and only then, will God heal the family.

Leviticus 26:39-43 (New International Version)
39 Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers’ sins they will waste away.
40 ” ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees.

Your kids, they’re going to grow up to be just like you!  Scared?

Don’t Go To Bed Mad

Don't Go To Bed MAD!

I really do not remember when I was taught the concept, however, I do know I always taught my girls to ‘never go to bed mad’.  Walking out of the room and cooling down before you say something you will regret is one thing, but, allowing it to fester and develop in to real ‘soul’ problems between one another is sin.  It also can be very hard to live with should a tragedy strike before you resolve an issue.  Remember, words out of the mouth cannot go back in any easier than pushing toothpaste back in the tube.

Today is my middle brother Bobby’s birthday.  He was killed in a plane crash in 1997.  Earlier that day he called me about something to do with the new church our families were helping start.  It was a good talk, we laughed and we said “love you” .   (I have an earlier blog post about helping children through HARD TIMES).  I have always been so thankful that we talked that morning.  Two hours later I received the phone call that his plane had catastrophic engine failure and crashed.  He was gone in a blink of an eye.

Growing up Bobby picked on me, A LOT!  It is safe to say we did not get along and I did not always like him.  As adults he actually apologized, I let go of my hard feelings and we became very close and I am so glad.  It made me want to make sure my girls, Rebekah and Victoria, did not go through this problem.  I wanted them to be close.  I had the threat of, “if you two keep arguing I will make you sit facing each other, knees touching, holding hands and smiling for five minutes” as a tool.  If they stopped smiling in that five minutes I would add a minute.  (I actually used this in elementary school classrooms to stop bickering girls.  It really works.)

Bobby was a young 49 years old.  He was a strong Christian, a trustee in the new church and very active in his community.  The future looked great for him.  He was living the good life, very successful and well liked.  It is hard when the good die young.   Victoria lost a close friend to cancer at 9 years old.  One of my nephews died of a brain tumor in his 30’s.  No one knows what tomorrow holds; we are not even guaranteed the rest of today.  It is important to keep your accounts ‘short’ and to teach your children to do so as well (remember they are watching).  I am glad that through the years  I taught my girls to  resolve issues and never ‘go to bed mad’ as much as is humanly possible.

God’s word says:

Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…”

There will be some accounts that they can not resolve.  However, they should have their side in order with God’s word.  They should not go to bed angry.  Teach them to ‘let it go’.  Growing up in our church on New Year’s we had a Watch Night Service.   Everyone was given a piece of bread and about 15 minutes before midnight we spent the time going among the members giving each other a piece of bread of our bread and telling them we loved them.  It was a ‘love feast’.  The idea was to use the time to bury hatchets, apologize and leave the ‘old’ in the old year and start the New Year on right terms.

Keep your accounts short.  Your kids are watching.  If they see or know your anger towards someone, make sure they see or hear you make it right.  Do you have any phone calls or visits you need to make?

$ MONEY $, $ MONEY $, $ MONEY $

Money, Money, Money

It all boils down to money.  I have heard so many people make this comment.   It cannot buy happiness but, it is a necessary evil.  Yes, an evil.  Because while it can bring out the good in people, all to often it brings out the worst.  Not enough can bring out envy and strife.  Too much can bring out pride and arrogance.  Teaching your children about the value of money is a parental concern of course.  But teaching them the danger of money is one of the most important lessons you will give your children.  In teaching them about the ‘almighty dollar’ you can teach them about the Almighty.

God’s word has many passages concerning money.  God does not treat money as evil.  It is the world that has made it evil.  We need to be good stewards of our children by teaching them God’s views, priorities and standards on money.  Many times we simply read Bible stories to our children, but how often do we teach them a lesson that they can understand?   Here are two of my favorite examples on teaching parables concerning money.

“The Widow’s Mite” Mark 12:41–44 This parable IS about sacrificial giving. I imagine this widow would have tithed her unemployment check, her welfare check and even her food stamps through a food pantry.  However, it is also about HOW you give.  The parable is also saying that “Putting on the Show” of giving is wrong.  Giving and doing for others should be between you and God and not for man.  When you give to impress others, that is your reward.  You’ve impressed them and that is all you will receive. PLAN SOME WAY OF GIVING WITH YOUR CHILD WHERE NO ONE BUT YOU AND THEY KNOW AND EXPLAIN “GOD KNOWS!”  Then ask them to ‘give’ where only they and God know. (See an early post for other ideas about Serving Others.)
The Parable of the Talents” Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28 This parable is about stewardship.  This can be a difficult concept for a child so I suggest a visual lesson.  The concepts are even difficult for some adults.   There are those that think their 10% is so little that it could do no one any good and they need every dime they have.  There are those that ‘tithe’ so much of their time in ‘duties’ at church that they give no money.  They fail to see how they fall into the category of the poor steward.

To teach your child a visual of how little God asks of them you will need three containers.

CONTAINERS: Banks, Jars, Envelopes, Zip Lock Bags (etc.)

LABEL: Help your child label each container

Words: 1) God, Later, Now
2) Church, Savings, Spending (etc.)


Pictures: 1) Cross, Picture of Jesus, Church,
2) Piggy Bank, or picture of something they are saving for,
3) Dollar sign, picture of something they spend their money on each week

Then each time they receive money from an allowance, birthday gift, Christmas money or whatever the occasion (even if gma/gpa just hand them a dollar) teach them to FIRST put 10% in God’s container, 40% (or more/less) in savings container, and the balance in spending container.  To start your child off you may want to hand them four dollar bills and four quarters (or be a big spender and give them 10 one dollar gills).  When they put 10% (two quarters for $5, or one of the 10 one dollar bills), ask them if they see how little God asks of them.  Explain He does not require, but asks and that it is very little in comparison to what they have left for them.

NOTE: Pick a Sunday (each week, bi-monthly or monthly) and have your child remove the money they are tithing and place in a church envelope to take to church.  Teach them to quietly place it, face down in the offering plate.  Here is your chance to demonstrate how quietly the widow gave her mites.

SAVINGS: Maybe they want to save for Christmas gifts, the Fair, the School BookFair, a doll or Video game.  Maybe it is longer range savings like for a car or college.  What ever it is, you will help them if you DO NOT change the deal.  If they do not have enough at the time, then they need to WAIT FOR THEIR WANTS.  Of course you must use good judgement, and sometimes a parent does NEED to step in and help when it’s a NEED and not a WANT. Our policy was we paid for their NEEDS just as God supplies our needs.  We also saw to their wants as rewards.

SPENDING: DO NOT get in the habit of loaning them the balance of what they need at a store because they are ‘short’ for something they WANT.  Tell them they will have to wait.  Also, teach them the joy of saving by using coupons, watching for markdowns. Again, use good judgment and always be there for a true NEED.
ASK YOURSELF: I always asked my girls ‘why do you want this’?  If it was because ‘everyone is wearing them or has them’  BUZZER – Wrong Answer!  Make sure their wants, are THEIR wants and not peer pressure or fitting in with the crowd syndrome.   The bottom line is, you are responsible to GOD for what your child spends  their money on while they are in your home.  NEVER forget you ARE the parent.  It might be their money, but they are STEWARDS of it and how they spend it must be in accordance with God’s teachings.  I cannot tell you how many parents have said (in defense of their daughter/son wearing objectionable clothing, listening to objectionable music or playing unacceptable video games), “Well, what can I do? They used their money? ”   We are responsible for teaching them that everything we have is from God.  It is all HIS.  He asks for 10% back and you are ONLY STEWARDS of the other 90%.  You have to answer to Him for that as well.

Money – will it be a good thing, or a bad thing in your child’s life?