Tag Archives: Family

How Perspective Defines the Unthinkable

One of the things my husband and I enjoy presenting at our marriage seminars is the fact that the differences men and women find fascinating about each other at the beginning can become frustrations after they are married – but there’s hope! We teach people how to reignite understanding their spouse and give them tools to turn those frustrations back into fascination about the person they love!

The funny thing about these principles, and many others, is that they can be applied to many relationships, not just marriages. So we found ourselves having yet another discussion with the oldest regarding the youngest of our offspring. Here is the scenario.

Greta was told to wash her hands before handling a book. She went to the kitchen sink that was full of the dishes I had just used to make breakfast, instead of either of the other two sinks in the house that were completely free. Michael was dumbfounded. Why would she choose the  most difficult sink to wash her hands in? That’s easy. For Greta, she just wanted it done so she could move on to the next thing and the kitchen sink was the closest to her. She went for it.

After discussing it further, we came to the crux of the perspective problem between the two of them. Michael finds it unthinkable that someone could care so little about a situation. We then assured him that it was equally unthinkable to Greta that someone would care so much!

We interact with other people on a daily basis and perhaps we even judge them because of something they have done that we find unthinkable! But we must bear in mind that the unthinkable is molded by our perspective. Let’s give others some grace that their perspective may be different than ours and therefore their actions may not be as unthinkable as previously thought.

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Who vs How

I’m reading and enjoying Ed Dickerson’s book, “Grounds for Belief.” He writes about some of his coffee shop style meetings with young adults and how they share their faith. Early in the book, Ed makes it clear there is a difference between faith/belief in God and religion. He calls faith in God the “Who” and religion is simply the “how.”

When it comes to a worship service, the Bible has little to say about the how and a whole lot more about the Who. While it is true that “how” can give us structure and so forth to help us function better in order to reach more folks about the wonderful “Who” we serve, our faith loses something when it becomes primarily about the how.

One of the things my husband would love to change about the church worship service is what he calls the “pontifical entrance.” He explains that the Bible doesn’t record anywhere that Paul told all the people to sit down and then wait for him to go behind the door and then march in the room in a very solemn like manner to indicate church was now about to begin. Reverence, yes of course we need reverence. Just read a few stories about people that got a tiny glimpse of God and fell flat on their faces. He is awesome! But if we get hung up on church can’t start because it takes three men to have the pontifical entrance and one is gone on vacation – we are more worried about the how instead of the Who.

I think of it this way: our little family of five – we’re in this together. We often say we live and die as a family. So we have chore charts, menus and schedules to keep track of what needs to be taken out of the freezer and put in the oven and who needs to be where at what time. But that’s not our family. Those things help our family function, but it’s not our family. They make getting through life each day easier, balancing everyone’s schedules and dietary needs – but the people are the family. When the chore chart, menu planner or weekly schedule become more important than time for a tickle or reading a story together – our focus is off.

If God intrigues you, but religion turns you off – you might want to consider worshiping with a group of folks that focus on Who instead of how. It could make all the difference.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“Sock it to me,” from Aretha Franklin’s classic rendition of R-E-S-P-E-C-T has new meaning for me as it will now be permanently linked with – laundry.

I love church youth groups! I especially love church youth groups that aim to grow character and teach responsibility. Matthew had an opportunity to earn a Pathfinder honor recently and it was in – laundering. To receive this honor, he had to be responsible for the entire family’s laundry for one full week. Sorting, washing, drying, folding. The whole works! Thankfully, he chose a week where I was very busy with VBS, so it was most helpful to have him in charge of the mountain of clothes.

“I have so much more respect for you now mommy.” Thank you. I’m hoping he remembers that aura of respect the next time he eyes his neatly folded stack of laundry that mom did for him. If not, he may be forced to slave over folding and mating the socks forever. No R-E-S-P-E-C-T, then you will be stuck on sock duty. Sock it to you! Matthew admitted folding was what he hated the most. He says he will help more with laundry in the future, but first he wants to not have to see it for a while. Can’t blame the poor kid.

So now I’m a firm believer in every church having a Pathfinder youth group that encourages kids to get their laundering honor. Love it!

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The Two Reasons

Squash bugs have decided to invade my little garden box of squash. Yuck.

I have given the 11-year-old the task of using his pocket knife to destroy these pests that will rob us of our produce. He looked at me stunned, his eyes revealing his thoughts of “I can’t do that.” So I looked him in the eye and told him the two reasons.

There are only two reasons why a man ever kills. It is to protect his family or to provide for his family. He got it. He understood that getting rid of the bugs protected our garden that was to provide food for the family.

It is somewhat ironic that we had this conversation this morning. You see, Matthew has been declaring his childhood is over in various ways. He no longer picks up children’s offering at church, instead he brings his own money to pass out to all the “little kids.” And so it has gone for the past few weeks. In his rush to leave the innocence of childhood, he has stumbled upon the harsh reality of adult responsibilities. Perhaps indeed this summer will be the boy’s “coming of age.”

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Safe

Their house was destroyed.

Tuesday morning, I finally got in contact with one of my aunts in the Oklahoma City area to learn of the family. My aunt and uncle lost their home. My cousin and his family rode out the twister in their cellar. Their house sustained damage to the windows and such. It was so good to hear they were alive!

As I watched reports later that day, officials said please make contact with your families to let them know you are safe, so we aren’t looking for you. We need to concentrate our efforts on those who really are still missing. How important it is to let someone know you are safe!

I took this information to heart and added a tornado app to my smart phone as I also live in a Texas section of Tornado Alley. Last night it was our turn to listen to incredible storms and sit under a tornado watch, waiting to see if one would touch down. It is important to be prepared. It is important to stay connected.

Maybe you haven’t been through a tornado. Maybe you haven’t even seen so much as a bolt of lightning lately, but is there anyone you need to connect with? How long has it been since you took the time to tell some distant relatives, hey, I’m okay. How are you?

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Mother Daughter Day

My sister is a single parent of a beautiful and talented young woman. When Cherokee was just getting to school age, Mother’s Day rolled around. In this family of two – one parent and one child, Mother’s Day wasn’t about recognition. For Cherokee, it seemed like she was being separated from her mom. Susan caught on to this real quick and said it wasn’t a day just for her that Cherokee couldn’t be part of. So they renamed it Mother Daughter Day.

Cherokee has since graduated with honors from high school, but it is still Mother Daughter Day for her and her mom. She’ll tell her grandma and me (her favorite aunt) “Happy Mother’s Day,” but for her mom, it’s Happy Mother Daughter Day.

The most important thing a mother can do is stay connected in the lives of her children. It doesn’t mean she gives them anything they want or condone any of their wrongdoings. It means she still has access to touch their hearts and be touched in return. To my sister, maintaining that connection with Cherokee was more important than calling that day by its rightful name of Mother’s Day.

Many blessings as you celebrate the true essence of mother’s day this weekend!

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Video Tears & Community

I got an email today asking me to review my application process for the special summer camp we have applied for – regarding Greta’s ADEM. It seems 40 families (it is a family camp) have signed up and they only have room for 30 families – unless some smaller families double in up in the units. In the email, they included a video of introduction to the facility – the Center for Courageous Kids.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a mom. Maybe it is just because Greta is still so young and we are still discovering what all lifelong issues ADEM will leave her to deal with. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t keep my eyes dry while watching that video.

There is a saying that unless you’ve been there, you just can’t understand. That’s what is so great about community. When we get together – we are stronger. When we get together – we find understanding and share ways to cope. I’m looking forward to attending this camp and meeting other ADEM families and sharing stories and practical day to day tips. Each child experiences ADEM differently, depending on where the lesions were located, how large they were and how many there were, as well as how long it took to get properly diagnosed and treated. So many variables, yet at the same time there are still classic ADEM leftovers that almost every patient, especially the children have to deal with.

What would we do without community? What would we do if we always thought we were the only one in the entire world that suffered the way we suffer? Take the time to be open about yourself and what you are going through – whatever it is. Look for support groups or fundraisers that help create awareness or contribute to vital research. You may have a handle on your situation yourself and think you don’t need community. I’m not going to congratulate you. I’m going to tell you that out there is someone who doesn’t have it figured out and they would be thrilled to talk to someone who has been through it and knows some of the ropes.

We need each other. We need community. Just google center for courageous kids and watch their introduction video. It just might change how you feel about community.

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Backing Up

I’ve received a great honor recently – most favored auntie status by my 2 year old niece. I’m not sure what I did, but Kayleigh has selected me to be her cuddling aunt. She told her mother she wanted to sit in my lap for family time. I was surprised, but nonetheless delighted as all of my children are past this stage.

The entire family, all 15 of us gathered for the holidays, have managed to carve out time each day for family worship. Kayleigh selects me to sit with during this special time. Again, I am delighted.

Then there was the day she gave the universal sign. She had her precious blankie in front of her and slowly backed up closer and closer to me. I knew what this meant, I was supposed to pick her up and set her on my lap for cuddle time, which I did. It reminded me of the times my own children had a special book, toy or blanket, held closely in front of them before they began backing up to be picked up and set on the lap.

All kids seem to be born with this skill. It is truly a phenomenon of the development of children that they universally use this little tactic – for very special time. You can read to kids. Then there is the time they back up into your lap with their favorite book. That is special time.

I think this is something I would like to put on my “when I get to heaven” list. I will pick a favorite thing, back up toward my Father and let Him set me on His lap for very special time.

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Same

Today I am counting my blessings.

Three children, all from the same father.

A son who turned 17 and has always known a two parent family and will take this with him into his future.

An opportunity to share with others that an incredible marriage is possible and it is fun!

I am truly blessed. Thanks, many thanks, God.

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Unashamed

I’ve been accused of many things in my life, but I must admit, one of my favorites is being called a newlywed – after being married for 16 years! Karl and I don’t have all the answers, not by any means, but we’ve been greatly blessed and we are so thankful! But it wasn’t always easy and sometimes there was a lot of tears and misunderstandings along the way.

By the time we reached our 16th anniversary, we truly felt like newlyweds again, because of some amazing changes in our relationship. Those changes had to do with the various connections in our lives. We are a lot more related to the things around us than we like to admit. We had a few things that we considered to be non-negotiable. One of those was attending church together as a family. My husband wasn’t pastoring at the time, and the church we had as our home base was sucking the life out of me. The people weren’t bad. The people weren’t mean, but it wasn’t a good fit for me and my needs (and our family’s as well). I had to take a stand. I felt my salvation was at stake.

It was a difficult step, to tell my husband that the kids and I would visit another church and he could get a ride to go to the same one we’d attended for years (we only had one car), since it was the closest one. That was his wake up call. The family needed to stay together. Once this change was made, amazing things began to happen. I came alive. In so many areas in my life, I came alive. I started writing again, something I had always loved to do. Karl could see a difference in how I interacted with him and the children. His favorite benefit, however, was the fact that I was also coming alive in our marriage.

As the family soaked up the love, healing and nurturing that our new church family freely gave (it was a good fit for us and them), we in turn were more than willing to do our part and help in whatever way we could. The entire family came alive and my husband was finally able to reach a place where he could take that terrifying step of saying yes. You see, God had been after him to be a pastor for years, but it wasn’t until the entire family came alive that he was in a position to surrender to that task.

So many things changed for our family, when we committed to making one change that was desperately needed. With that one change, I began writing again. I interacted with my children in a much healthier way. I became a better lover to my husband. Karl was able to see that taking the time to help his wife who had been with three children all day long and desperately needed some adult conversation, had amazing results. Agreeing to God’s plan for his life is a step that might not have happened were it not for this one change.

So when friends accused us of being newlyweds, I smiled. When coworkers complimented me on the way I treated my husband respectfully instead of picking him apart like many of the girls at work did; I was grateful they could see the blessings of a thriving and happy marriage. It led Karl and I to joining the Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage team and also helped us to launch a facebook page together – Unashamed Marriage.

You have many connections in your life. Take the time to make sure they are healthy ones. You have great potential – live up to it!

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She’s Having Fun!

Watching the Olympics and seeing the athletes struggle and fight for the victory after years of training is not unlike parenting. For years my husband and I have struggled with, trained and even argued with our boys about understanding their little sister’s personality. She is who she is. She happens to register off the charts from “Fun Country.” Her main motivations in life are to be enjoying it with wild abandon and making sure that everyone else is also having fun, because who wants to have fun alone? We are grateful for the Kids’ Flag Page system for giving us a clearer picture of our daughter’s personality contrasted with her brothers’ more methodical and logical personalities. Last night, we won the gold medal!

The problem with people from fun country is they can leave a mess. Of course you have to get messy if you are really and truly having fun, right? Of course Greta never sees the messes she leaves behind. Anything left is nothing more than the evidence of great amounts of fun. The boys, however, love being her judges. “Quick! Look! Greta is about to make a mess. She should be disqualified from this heat because she left toys in the living room (we are still working on that with Greta). But last night, something amazing happened. Greta requested cups to do some color experiments with. Yes, all the red flags stood up and did the stadium wave to get my attention, but the former home schooling mom in me wanted to encourage her own style of learning. Matthew, only a year older but obviously so much wiser, was quick to grab the bottles of food coloring away from her and scream out a last desperate warning to his parents in the other room. “Greta is going to make a mess!”

“She’s having fun!” My husband and I couldn’t speak. We just stared at each other, wondering who could pick up their jaw and regain their composure first. Had Michael, our oldest, really said that? Was all this trying to help Greta understand her brothers and the boys to understand their sister finally getting through? Had all of those discussions about The Flag Page finally paid off?  No podiums to stand on or flags coming down with music playing as we received medals and honors, but we knew in our hearts we had won! Perhaps there is hope that these three will someday be friends when they are adults.

I wonder what would happen if we all tried to understand each others’ personalities? Even if Peace Country seems to never be in the limelight, where would we be without their faithful and steady contributions? If Perfect Country never got involved, we would never get it right. We would get absolutely nowhere if it weren’t for Control Country keeping the pace and urging us on. And Fun Country? It would all be work and meaningless without this special group of people that remind us to have fun and make sure everyone gets involved, no one left out. Who knows? Maybe when you try to be a little more understanding of your boss and coworkers, you’ll also win the gold medal!

 

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