It’s Me or Them!

From May to October there is a common sight along the shorelines here in FL.  Sea Turtles come ashore and deposit their eggs.  Humans walk the beach each morning looking for the tracks they leave and stake out their nests, cord them off and post signs to protect the nest and the future baby turtles.

Left in Others Care

Some people are sea turtles – drop the eggs on the beach and swim away letting them hatch or not, and make their way in the world if they can.  The parent turtle goes back on its course and lives their life.  As humans these parents tuck their heads in when they don’t like what they see.  They may not abandon their offspring physically but, they do mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  They tend to their own selfish needs and seek out their own path and pleasures.  They are all about ‘me’ and never ‘them’.

More and more I am saddened by the parenting I see in public.  They can’t put their book down or get up from tanning on the beach or what ever they are doing for THEMself at the time.  They have no time to be bothered with taking their young to the rest room; seeing they are not in danger or are not bothering others on the beach.  “Hey Joe, take little Johnny to the bathroom!” says the mom.  “No, it’s your turn”, says Joe.  Little Johnny sits there wondering if anyone cares about him.  When he’s in a dangerous area around the rocks the Lifeguard finally talks to him and then the parents.  These parents are in the malls and stores as well. Store clerks and security pick up their messes, stop them from hurting themselves and finally help them find their parents when they are lost.

Growing up there was a saying, “if they act like that in public, I wonder how they act at home?”  That phrase could be applied to everything from “they need a spanking” (children) to PDA (public display of affection).   Today I am using it to refer to parenting.  If they do not act like parents in public, how much worse are they at home?  So many parents are focused on one thing, “ME”.  The children get what is left.  As Christian parents we quickly say, “no, I do not put myself before the kids”.   We see to all our kids ‘needs’.  However, satan* is subtle and oh so stealthily he has swung us towards the ‘me’ from the ‘them’ in our attitudes.

Ever Watchful, Diligent.

As mom’s we should be lionesses and as dad’s we should be lions.  God has provided in nature the very attitudes we as parents should take in the protection and raising of our young.  God expects us to be always watching, taking turns, seeing to ALL the needs of our young.  Raising them in all aspects of life so they can become a complete adult.  We as parents are responsible for showing them God by the way we treat them.  We treat them as God treats us and so we should by our actions be teaching our children they are made by God (physically) loved by God (emotionally), taught by God’s word (mentally) and guided by God (spiritually).  As we teach them about God  we are preparing them as adults to seek God in all areas of life: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Do you think that you get on God’s ‘last nerve’? Exactly, remember that when dealing with your children.

God expects us daily to see they are RAISED in the Lord that they may live up to their potential in Him.  Are you a lion/lioness or a sea turtle?

*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.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

A friend was talking with me this week lamenting my current troubles.  She said she did not know how I stood it?  Well, I don’t.  Sometimes it is overwhelming.  Sometimes I get defeated.  Sometimes I cry and sometimes I am numb.  It is not wrong that I have emotions.  God gave me  emotions.  It is wrong when I give into them and let them control my life and outlook.  Children are always watching how you respond and you are preparing them all through their young lives for how they will respond to life.  For that matter, others and their children are watching you and them as well.   Sometimes what we go through helps others with what they go through in life.   Particularly the un-saved.  We are a walking testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ.  If people know you and your children are Christians, can they tell it by your actions when things are not going smoothly?

The world says, ‘don’t worry be happy’.  But, they mean go party, go get drunk, do drugs, forget and pretend it’s not there in hopes it will go away.  What do your children see you do in a crisis?

Yesterday was my oldest brother’s 64th birthday.  I thought back to 10 years ago when I drove him to his son’s funeral who had died from a brain tumor on my brother’s birthday.  On the 25th of this month it will be 13 years since my middle brother was killed in a plane crash.  I thought about my Dad’s seven months in the hospital and death in June of 1991. Dad and mom both had open heart surgery four weeks apart, dad had a stroke on the operating table and was in the hospital seven months.  My girls were 4 and 9 and went with me everyday to the hospital. This was the same year my oldest brother was in the wreck that kept him in the hospital for five months and left him disabled for life.  My mom spent 18 months in rehab and died the last of January of 2008.  I went almost every day as did my girls and even my granddaughter when they were in town.  The week after my mom’s funeral in Atlanta and the night before her memorial service here in FL, my youngest daughter crawled out of a collapsed building during an EF4 tornado February 5,  2008.  It seems like every month there has been some trial, sometimes devastating.  I realized that over the past 33+ years we have had some very hard times, including Phil losing his job 3 times in company buyouts.  There were times in my daughters’ lives that I was in bed with complications from  lupus.  My girls had to go through so much family pain growing up.  So what did they see?

I do not list these for pity; there are many of you with lists that contain much more difficult times.  I just want you to make a list in your mind and think with me for a minute.  We tend to unconsciously pass on what has been passed on to us.  Sometimes that is a good thing, and sometimes we need to break the cycle.

I cannot take credit, I am passing on what was passed on to me.  What did my parents do?    Growing up I remember dad having 12 deaths in his family over a two-year span.  I thought funerals were the norm.  I remember dad walking out of his huge corporate job over principles and them wondering how they would pay the bills.  I remember when dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and his surgery.  I remember  mom having surgery when I was 12 and so many other hard times.  Hard times.  They are a part of life.  What I remember most is my parents praying.  Yes, I remember tears.  I remember some times there was frustration and anger, briefly.  But, what I remember most is that everything always came down to resting in their faith and trusting their Lord.

Matthew 11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 6:25-34 “ 25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Searching His word for answers and guidance and prayer will always be the answer to all of life’s problems.  I can say that with conviction.  Otherwise I would have lost my mind.  The one thing I remember about mom was her saying, “I’ll pray about it.”  My mom was always teased about having camel’s knees because she was on her knees praying at least once every day until she broke her hip in 2006 at 85 years old.  And even then, she was on her ‘spiritual’ knees until the last year of her life when she had dementia.

Life is hard.  Do not shield your child from that fact.  You are not doing them a favor.  As you go through your trials they are watching.  What do they see?

Lighthouse, Compass, Ship’s Wheel

I normally only post one to two times a week.  However, today was … a hard day.  It reminded me of  raising my girls through their hard days and how it was sometimes difficult.

Everyone deals with pain some way, some how.   For me, this is one of those days, when you hurt so bad inside it has to get out.   As an adult I deal with my pain in several ways:

Write – writing about it on my blog
Cook – yes it’s 98 degrees, but it’s raining and I made homemade chili – good old soul food/comfort food for lunch
Shop – OK it was only WalMart for some essentials (not like when my mom would go buy a hat or a new pair of shoes)

One or all of those usually helps (I did all three).  I will tell you that I did my devotionals first.  Of course it helped and led to my writing.  However, when I am hurting I have to get busy.  I am not a saint and reading scripture does not fix things immediately but, it often helps me to think through what I have read while I am busy.  Truthfully, if reading the Scriptures fixed everything immediately, I believe  God would be finished with me here and I would already be in Heaven.   As a human I have to deal with the world and all that happens.  Devotionals are needed, but we all know it does not always ‘fix’ things.  We have to apply the Word to the pain.

Maybe I do not deal with my pain on my own;  maybe God uses others to help me deal.  Or maybe it is just that when I am busy getting things done it helps heal the pain.  I am sure some psychologist would say I am not dealing with what is hurting me.  However, I was raised by a mom that taught, “don’t sit, soak and sour’.  That is one of our Southern-ism sayings for, “toughen up, life’s hard”.

While I agree to a point that moving on is the best thing to do, it is also very important to talk your child through the pain.  Children do not know how to deal with pain on their own.  They watch you and you teach them through your actions.  What are they being taught?  You are setting patterns for them as an adult.  You need to teach them how to deal with pain in their life,  it is not automatic and you do not want them growing up blaming God for bad things in their life.

He steers us through rough waters

So what hurt today and why am I writing?  Well, my cat has been ill and this morning he died.  It was raining and my husband and I stood in the rain to bury him in the garden next to the Oleander bush.  We cried.  I am sure there are those that would say, “wow, over a cat?”.  Well no, it was much more.  It was just another domino in a long, long line of dominoes that include my husband loosing his job in a triple buy out 3 years ago and still not finding work, my mom dying, my daughter having a building collapsed on her in a tornado, my lupus battles, wedding, graduation, other family member deaths … too much of a recital? Sorry.  Just so you get the point, I am not a wimp, but sometimes there is that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Now satan* attacks you during these times and he is not a respecter of age; he will attack your child early on as they go through tragedies in their life.  You never know what will be the last straw.  It may be something simple after many hard battles.  Yes, the death of a pet is tragic.  I can remember everything from a butterfly funeral to a tropical fish funeral.  I also remember my youngest losing her friend to cancer at nine.  I remember their pain and helping them deal with my brother’s plane crash.  I remember helping them through disappointments like not making the squad, missed opportunities, and first crushes.  Pain comes in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes the little pains hurt more than the big ones.  You have to watch your child and not write them off with, “they’ll get over it”.  Ignoring it will just put it off until later and build a life time of  ‘not dealing’ and baggage they carry into their adult life.

So how do you talk to them?  I love the symbolism of the nautical life.   Explaining to your child how God cares and directs during troubled times is often easier by use of symbolism.  For small children, a visual aide helps; a lighthouse that they can turn on in a dark room, a compass to use as you walk and talk, or a toy boat they can steer in the water.  Of course for older children you can just discuss what they are going through and how God can guide them using scriptures.  Basically, all three of my symbols above point the same way, to Him.

  • The lighthouse – my favorite – He is our lighthouse, a light unto my feet.
  • The ship’s wheel – Steering and guiding us through trouble waters.
  • The compass – He directs our path through the narrow road

    He guides and directs our paths

  1. John 8:12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  2. Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
  3. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
  4. Psalms 139:3 “Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.”
  5. Isaiah 48:17  This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

Of course small children will not understand how trials and tribulations build character, patience and virtue.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

You need to continually reinforce that you are there for them as He is always there for them.  Above all, watch during hard times for open doors from the Lord to use that time to point towards Him.

*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.


Actions = Reactions

I am amazed at the lack of ability for people to see that their actions affect anyone other than themselves.  Consider the angry driver that speeds out of sight as the two cars they swerved through head for ditches; the over-eating, over-drinking or over-smoking family member that says it only hurts them; or the teenage who swears it is their life to mess up and none of your business. As you are reading those scenarios you can easily find the consequences.  Yet, everyday we act without seeing the long-range effect on those actions.   The ‘lecture’ on consequences is one of my most discussed with students.

Children often need to be reminded that their actions have consequences, good ones and bad ones.  It is important to give them examples of both so they know it is good actions that everyone benefits the most from.  In teaching this concept you can take a  bucket of water, a tub, pool or lake and hand them something  to toss in the water.  Ask them to toss it in so that the water cannot be disturbed.  Impossible.  No matter what they do, they will not be able to pass the object through the water without disturbing the surface.  The bigger the action, the bigger the reaction, or consequence.  Choices, we make them everyday and our actions always have reactions or consequences.   What defines our actions?

  1. What we read, hear, see = our thoughts
  2. What we think = attitude
  3. Our attitude = character
  4. Our character = actions

If someone’s actions are negative they cause negative reactions which means we must change what they read, hear and see.  It is important to show the flip side of the coin by praising positive actions that equaled positive reactions.  For example, studying, doing homework, etc. = better grades.  Or, showing respect and consideration = receiving respect and consideration, which results in more privileges and responsibility.

Unfortunately, we are in a world ruled by sin.  Sin is a huge pebble thrown in the pond and its ripples are the consequences that are far-reaching, even into the next generations.  In 1 Samuel 3 the Bible tells of Eli’s penalty for not stopping his sons’ actions.  Eli paid the price of ‘in-action’ over his sons ‘actions’.

11And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. 14Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

Eli’s sin was allowing desecration of the house of the Lord.  He knew about what his sons were doing and did nothing.  Makes you wonder doesn’t it?  I know parents who have thrown in the towel over their minor children and said, “what can I do?”.  EVERYTHING you can, is what God expects.  God holds mothers and fathers responsible for how their children act, what they read, hear and see.  The problem is, parents allow things to slip by until the children are so out of control it will take a war to win.  Some say they pick their battles, but that usually means they finally exit the war.  Raising children is spiritual warfare and the other side is not sitting idle.

Inaction IS an action.  I recently heard two boys discussing hitting back over a senseless killing.  I could have kept walking the class room and ignored them.  Trust me, it is easier.  However,  1) I knew they saw I heard them, and 2) that ‘feeling’ you get inside when you know you are supposed to speak and want to choose not to was choking me to get out.   So I went back and looked at the young man and asked, ‘What will that do’?  He said, “It will get even, I can’t just do nothing”.  I looked at him and said, “You cannot throw a rock in the water and not expect a splash.”  Blunt statements that seem senseless usually get their attention.  I then asked him, “What if they get even and ‘hit’ you back?”  He said, “We all gotta die sometime.”  Death is not a feared consequence any more.  We have desensitized a whole generation.  I asked him if he thought someone would get even for him, he thought they would.  I then asked him, “What if it’s your grandmother, or your mother, or baby sister they hit next and how will those left behind feel then?”  I had his attention.  First, death is not the end of anything, even if you do not believe in afterlife.  Second, there are those left behind after a shooting, suicide, death or self-inflicted cancer.  Even if you die, someone is forced to live with your action’s consequences.

The Bible says in Matthew 7:16-20 ,

16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Your actions define what kind of tree you are.   What will your actions cause today?

Nobody’s Business

No Body's Business

What Are You Telling Your World?

Once a week we try to go to the beach to enjoy peace and quiet and unwind a little.  We choose a beach that is ‘smoke free’, has a life-guard (keeps the noise down of wild partying) and one that has great fishing and shelling.  Yesterday when we arrived there were less than 1/2 dozen people on the beach.  We settled in about 10 feet from shoreline for the view.  The birds were singing, waves lapping and a nice gentle breeze had the trees whispering.  That lasted maybe an hour before a woman settled in between us and the shore.  I never have understood why when there is a whole couple of football fields of beach to choose from, people set right down on top of you.  She not only was blocking the view, but she proceeded to light up (smoke free beach) which meant we had to ask her to put it out.  The signs are everywhere, however, we are the bad guys?   Then her friends showed up to give her some beers.  They did not stay long so she was left with her beer and nothing to do with her hands but use the cell phone.  She  pulled out her cell phone and began to talk and drink her beer.  The more she drank the louder she became.  The beach had added a few more families by this time but, she did not mind her conversations or language around these small children.  Her business became everyone’s as we had no choice but to listen to all her personal calls to her friends.  I do not understand why people forget that when they are in public talking on their phone, others are listening, even if they do not want to.  Her first call began with her congratulating her friend on being added to the list of  ‘his exes’.   Evidently children were involved because she continued to tell her to explain to them they were a ‘dysfunctional family’.   The details she exposed us all to were unbelievable.  She continued down her list of friends to call and went over a myriad of soap opera scenarios.  This woman was probably in her late 50’s or early 60’s.  You would think she would know better than to ‘air the dirty linen’ as our generation was supposedly taught.  I am sure I will be accused of stereotyping, but you can just see this woman in her living room with her beers, cigarettes and tabloids while watching her soaps.  All of these reference materials make her highly qualified to be handing out advice it seems.

There is a time and place to discuss situations and none of those involve strangers.  Talk shows and yellow journalism have done away with any sense of discretion.  They have coined phrases to use as crutches like “dysfunctional” and “ex”.  The generation being raised in the shadows of all these public disclosures are being so conditioned and desensitized to sinful lives that they are not going to know sin when it slaps them.  God says we are to guard our speech and our minds.  (Colossians 3:2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”) As parents we need to teach our children as we raise them about guarding their minds and their speech so that when they are grown it will be automatic.   We have become a world of gossiping and everyone believes they have the right to know each others business as well as share theirs.   The Bible says in Matthew 12:35-37, 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

What ‘business’ are you sharing?