Saturday, February 26, 2011

Moving in Another Direction....Opposite Way

Does your life ever feel like the wheel in a hamster cage?  Hop on in the AM, knock yourself out...running, running only to spin in circles.  Busy, but not going anywhere.  When finally getting out of the wheel - other than being dizzy....not much got accomplished.  The focus was on the task at hand....not getting anywhere.

Gas prices, unrest in other nations, gay marriage, gays in the military, unions, politics, being asked to pay more for health insurance, abortion.  None of these are small issues.  Some are literally, life and death.  These (and other) issues are consuming a lot of attention, time and money lately.  It seems we fight little battles and ignore the war.  Or maybe another visual, putting out small fires when there is a raging forest fire behind us.

credit to Africa:

As the world continues to move faster and faster, people who seek absolute truth are going to become rarer. If you are one of those people, you may feel like this picture.

This does not mean you should give up.  You have a choice to make.  You either stand alone....or you work at being a light in a dark world, continue to pray for others to do the same and start moving in the opposite direction.

I heard a song recently on the radio.  It was by Leeland.  It is titled "The Opposite Way".   The music is beautiful, but the words are even better.  The video this girl (hannahsdreams) made is an awesome reminder that sometimes we need to be broken to move in the direction God wants us.  We may run (or swim) in a different direction than today's world.  We are never alone.  There is One who has gone this opposite way before us.

Philippians 3:12-21 (NIV)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rebel Without a.....Clue

Hubby and I picked up a VHS copy of Rebel Without A Cause recently. VHS because he was worried DVD would be wide-screen, which he is not particularly fond of. I just happened to read off the title because we were looking around in a store. Of course, he wanted to see it because there's a Mercury in it. We started watching it earlier this evening. I have seen bits and pieces of the movie over the years, but I don't recall ever seeing the whole movie. We didn't make it through the whole thing yet, but the parts I have watched have given me much to think about.

Mainly, how does a movie from over 50 years ago (1955) capture many of the same things I dealt with (sometimes still do!) in the 80's and teens still deal with in 2011? The feelings of trying to make friends and fit in, getting their minds to catch up with their bodies, parents, bullies, etc. There was one comment by James Dean's character about fitting in and making friends and I said I thought only girls felt that way. Hubby said oh no, guys go through that too...and there's usually a fight involved in it somewhere along the way.

I would think as each generation moves from teen to adult that we would have eased some of these by now. Maybe as adults we're just so glad to have made it through the teen years that we forget what it's like by the time our kids become teens. We were told to pretty much suck it up and trudge on through and maybe we expect the same from our kids. It seems like it ends up being "us" against "them". Aren't we on the same side? If not, shouldn't we be?

I do not know how the title was intended. I would like to find out more about that sometime. However, I looked up rebel just to see what the dictionary stated:

1:opposing or taking arms against a government or ruler 2:disobedient, rebellious

Society kind of puts parents opposing teens or teens opposing adults and that, generally, teens are disobedient and rebellious.

In the movie, it seems outside influences and internal conflicts are making the main characters "rebels".

I look forward to watching the rest of the movie to see how it plays out. In the meantime, I would urge parents and teens to watch this movie together. Stop it as necessary or discuss afterward. Yes, some of the acting is a little over dramatic, the students dress up (gasp) for school and the hairstyles and clothes are dated. However, the themes throughout the movie show that we're all kind of moving through life finding our own causes when sometimes they are right in front of us...or even living in our own house.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV) Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Breadstick Tuesday, Someone Else's Mother and Mentoring

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Hebrews 10:24 (NLT)

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  Philippians 2:4 (NLT)

Seriously, I should buy stock in Little Caesar's.  Bless them for having $1/bag (8 sticks) crazy bread on Tuesdays in our area.  Tuesday (most weeks) has become the day I bring lunch to my daughter (and her friends) in middle school.  It has become known as "Bread stick Tuesday".  I try to bring a few extra bags and the kids I give them to are supposed to  share with others at their table.  At least once while I am there, someone other than my daughter calls me mom.  All this only takes about 15 minutes of prep time and approx. 45 minutes for lunch.    For this investment, I am granted insight into my daughter's world and get to see who she hangs out with.  On Tuesdays, she is a popular girl.

I have lunch with another girl and other kids who decide to come with us that day.  There have been as few as one to a whole roomful of between 10 - 15.  We leave the lunchroom and go to a conference room in the office.  There is no planned discussion (except for a few times when we've had some issues we needed to take care of).  We talk about anything they want to talk about.  I try to mention at least once during lunch about being a friend and keeping the friends they have.  Every once in awhile, I get to interject something of importance that, hopefully, their parents approve of. 

I wonder how long they will let me continue to be a part of their world?  I suppose as long as I bring least for awhile longer.

With my son, there were a few times into 9th grade and then it was kind of awkward as he and his friends had different lunchtimes.  For them it wasn't bread sticks.  There was one boy who liked chocolate milk, another liked apples.  One boy's mom had passed away during the year.  I always made sure he got a cookie.  One time when I was in his class, he shared with me about his mom.  I was honored that he trusted me enough to share.

Without realizing it or intending to, I have become a mentor (per Webster: a trusted counselor or guide).  The kids I have lunch with have become mentors to me also.  I give them a view of the world outside school.  They give me a view of inside school and the pre-teen mind....scary, I know!  ;)

Do I always feel like going when Tuesday rolls around?  That would be no.  Are there other things that I could/should be doing for that hour on Tuesday?  Sure.  However, for these moments in time while I am welcomed into their world, I cherish being called mom by someone other than my own kids.

Bread sticks are a small investment for making a kid feel noticed and important.  At least for 1/2 hour lunch on Tuesday.

In a world where we continue to connect more and more through cyberspace, we need human interaction.  I urge you to find a place that has a space that only you can a volunteer or mentor....or another kid's extra mom or dad.  We can never have too many people care for us.  Share your knowledge.  Share your love.  Share your's the best investment you will ever make.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Just Right....Parenting

Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

In the story The Three Bears, Goldilocks finds porridge, chairs and beds....too hot, too cold, too big, too soft, too hard....or just right.

Oh, life would be SO much easier if we could skip the too _____ (fill in the blank) and just stay just right! That would work in fantasy land, but in real life?  Not so much. How boring life would be if we were that predictable! ha.  Life is messy. However, we muddle through and we get to our next "just right".

Parenting is hard work...and it is never really over.  I've heard parenting referred to as being pecked to ducks.  We get the highs....but there are a lot of lows.  Times we pray we would have made a better decision on how to handle something as a parent.  Times we pray our kid(s) would make a better choice, but they didn't.

We may grow up and move on, but there is a part of us...small as it may be...that still longs for the love, attention and even approval of our parents.  As we grow up and become parents ourselves, hopefully, we develop a greater appreciation for our parents and their assistance through some of the times we could have made better/different choices while growing up.

For better or worse does not just apply to marriage vows.  For better or worse, we learned to parent from our own parents.  We may have sworn we would do things differently, but I'm guessing there have been times when you've heard your mom or dad's words.....come out of your mouth.  Some parents are too hard.  Some are too soft.  Finding a balance of just right in parenting is harder than it sounds.

My 3 lessons from the 3 bears:

1. Goldilocks entered the bears' house uninvited. I'm finding that as our kids become teenagers that we as parents can feel uninvited....but it is worth it to stick it out and get an invitation into their lives as they learn to move on with their own lives.  Being available when they are ready to talk and have us listen...not come up with all the answers, just listen...helps them be willing to invite us into the next issue they deal with.

2. Goldilocks tried each of the bear's things....porridge, chairs and beds.  As parents, we need to assist our kids along the way as they try new things and find out if they are just right for them.  This may not be the same just right we had as a kid....or even now.  Bear family or human family what works for one might not work for another.

3. The bears return home to find missing porridge, broken chairs and Goldilocks sleeping in baby bear's bed.  They went out as a family, they came back as a family and dealt with the issues before them.  As a family, there will always be some unexpected thing we weren't counting on. We learn from it and keep moving on.

Praying that we can find a balance and reach just right as parents.  Never perfect, always learning.  Putting our kids in the arms of the ultimate parent.  Realizing we sometimes still need parents too.

Ephesians 6:1-3 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Spiritual Thermostat

Not sure about where you live, but our furnace is sure getting a work out.  Thankfully, we have a programmable thermostat that has helped reduce costs by automatically dialing back at night when we're all in blankets.

Winter always brings up numerous emotional issues around our house.  Lack of sunlight, Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) it whatever you like, but it is not fun.  I've seriously considered purchasing light boxes (happy lights).

I ran across this recently after I read a blog post:  12 Ways to Help Kids Manage Anger

This is good for anybody, not just kids.  I especially noticed  #12 guarding the "emotional setting of your home" I never really thought of it that way and the phrasing really hit me.  There are days I'm not so great at my own emotional setting let alone the rest of my home.  It really is something that needs to be protected.  However, I have noticed that on the days I can stay relatively calm through the storm?  The issues do not seem as bad.

Per Webster: Thermostat: an automatic device for regulating temperature; also : a similar device for actuating fire alarms or for controlling automatic sprinklers 

The "emotional setting" made me think of a thermostat.  Oh if it were only that easy to just program/regulate "easy going, laid-back, cool" into all of us.  But we're family.  We each have our own thermostat...and it is not usually on the same setting as the other family member.  The days one of us starts heading into the red heated or fire alarm zone?  If we don't watch it, we all end up there. 

Part of the battle is catching what forms in our mind...and not letting it pour out of our mouth.  Our internal thermostats might not be automatic, but with Spiritual help we can program them to run more efficiently and keep the emotional costs to ourselves and others more reasonable.

Romans 8:5-6 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.