Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lack of American Maturity (one small point)

(a bit of continued conversation from the previous post)

Americans are, in general, immature. It’s spreading, too. Countries that embrace western culture are experiencing a rise in in childishness in their adults.

I know people aren’t fond of generalities. Everyone thinks that their own story sets them apart from everyone else in any circumstance. It does, to a degree. No one else is me, and no one else is you. We were created (agree or don’t, whatever) individually, and are loved individually. We have individual circumstances, and we have group circumstances. Telling our individual stories is a way for others, who have experienced similar things, to find community support regarding some specific thing. Your individual experiences, then, help you find niches, commonalities with others, therefore putting you into a group. It’s a thing.

What is it that perpetuates this immaturity? Lack of Jesus. Yep, I said it again. Religion of Self. Yep, I said that again, too. When there isn’t anything more important that self-righteousness, there’s a lot of immaturity.

People choose not to have kids. I know we just talked about that, but look, there’s a thing about parenting that most people don’t realize until they’re halfway through their kid’s growing up years. We repeat ourselves. Alot! Parent’s teach kids lessons that we learned growing up, that we wish we learned growing up, and altering what we wish we hadn’t learned growing up.  

But there’s more.

The repeating grows the parent.

You read that right. Sure the kids will learn stuff that’s important, it just won’t look like it’s taking for a while. I mean, if your kids are, uh, like most kids.  When we repeat ourselves to our children, (hopefully) altering our messages as the children grow, we learn, too. How many times can you tell your kiddos to speak with kindness, to be gentle, to serve, to have compassion, without, at some point, realizing that the lesson is your own? There’s always something. Stop reading for a moment, and think about it. Haven’t you ever been correcting your kid, explaining why whatever they did was, perhaps epic, but not right, and helped them to understand what to do in future, similar situations? (I really hope you have. If you have NEVER done this, please message me, because ohmygoodnessweneedtotalk!) Sometimes what happens is you suddenly hear your own words in your ears, as though someone else is saying them. And they make sense for you. Somehow, even though your kid is right there, listening, your message is more for you, then for them. You continue speaking, and everything makes absolute, perfect sense. You are encouraged to do something differently, or more, or less. You are energized in this pursuit. Do you even know what that was? It was THE HOLY SPIRIT speaking through you, to you! Please, please, oh please tell me this has happened for you! Good, golly, gosh! It’s exciting! Your words are so on point, so faultless, and perfect that you know they aren’t your own. You listen,  because this isn’t coming from your own fount of wisdom. Except now it IS part of your wisdom. And you have matured a little bit more.

People who lead and teach, those are the ones that grow in wisdom and stature. That doesn’t mean someone who runs a business, or publishes a magazine, or is the President of the Unites States (obvi, right?)

People who teach children, especially. People create disciples. Yeah, that’s churchy, but get this, you can create disciples of anything. How many kiddos are walking around with hunched shoulders staring at flipping cat videos on their handheld devices? They are disciples, sadly, of self indulgence.

Create disciple of good things. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law. Do these things! Teach these to kids! Teach them to adults that aren’t aware! People gain wisdom, and good character when these things are taught and practiced. Do it! Jump in!

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Monday, May 22, 2017

People Don't Want Kids Anymore

Why is having kids an unappealing thought to a majority of Americans these days? Besides the selfish (yes, I said it) reasons. There ARE other reasons. Listen, I’m not talking about unable to have them, can’t afford adoption, knowing absolutely that a child can not be supported in current circumstances. This isn’t what I’m getting at. I mean that abhorrence of children. The attitude that has many decrying the very existence of youngsters and their appearance in public spaces.

The ‘news’ articles (those are snark marks) are all over the internet. People angry that someone’s child ruined their dining out experience, or caused their airline flight to be unbearable. People that see children learning how to become adults horrified with their failures and setbacks, unwilling to allow a learning curve.

Do people still read history? Have they forgotten that children used to have to be grown up by the time they were seven? Children were employed, for goodness’ sake! They were expected to be little adults, learning trades, running households, and shaping their communities.

They used to marry and raise families before kids today can even drive.

Now we protect kids, and rightly so! But to what end? We’ve taken the protection of our youngsters and thrown that ball clear to the other end of the spectrum. We seem to believe that too much responsibility and learning at too young an age will damage our children. We can’t give them space and responsibility, because they are clearly too fragile.

Have you met children? They are amazing, resilient, strong willed, sponge minded, super heroes! Children are amazing! Why WOULDN’T someone want to have kids? The things they can learn are amazing. Kids can learn multiple languages while their minds are able to absorb and categorize such information. Adults can, too, but with a much slower rate of success.

Children can follow directions, because they have to. They don’t know anything about the world yet. They have to be able to rely on people older than them to show the way.  Adults can follow directions, we just don’t really want to. We know what’s better, and we certainly don’t need any older people showing us crap that we already know, and we certainly don’t need any little ones slowing us down on our super speed trajectory toward amazing success, or whatever.

Children are loud. Well, some children are loud. Excessively, amazingly, sharing the same decibel level as a jet plane taking off loud.  I know plenty of adults that fit the same description. While I would be terribly upset about a screeching, shouting, loud singing, obnoxious adult ruining my flight or dining experience, I’d likely offer the child grace, and the adult a disapproving single raised eyebrow. The child is still learning, and with guidance, loving correction, will learn. The adult hasn’t learned, and the truth is, probably won’t. Why would that person be more welcome in most situations that a little one that needs to learn, isn’t?

Is it that people detest the idea of children existing? I present the unpopular idea that people don’t like the idea of responsibility and self-control. Patience, kindness, and gentleness are virtues, to be sure. Virtues that everyone wants to find others practicing, but not themselves.

When children are around, our patience is tried. We are confronted with our own behaviors, and perhaps with some niggling feeling in the back of our minds that, as part of society, we all have a responsibility to teach our youth to grow into citizens that are trustworthy, kind, productive, giving, patient. And we don’t like it. We’d rather indulge our impulses. We’d rather entertain ourselves without giving any thought as to whether our entertainment is worthy of anything but momentary gratification. And we know, inherently, that isn’t what children should be learning.

What’s the answer, then? Jesus. Really. The Sunday School response is the right one.
When people live in God’s will, reading scripture, praying at all times (We’ll talk about that one later), loving God, loving others, etc. FOR REAL, now, not just pew sitters that do whatever they feel like later, we pave the way for maturity in our communities. Being a Christ follower has so many benefits, why wouldn’t everyone want to be one?

Because self-indulgence feels better. Because we think that doing whatever we want, without restriction is the opposite of religion, and religion is constricting.

Guess what, folks? Constant self indulgence is a religion. It’s worshipping the self. You are your own god. How’s that working for you? It never works out for me. I trade God for self often. Several times a day, some days. It’s so easy to please the flesh. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I do it.  I reach for fulfillment in places like movies, tv, shopping, and food. Where do you find your fulfillment? Working more and more hours? Having a big bank account? Whatever it is, if our fulfillment is sought after in things other than God, we won’t find lasting fulfillment.

We’ll continue to demand that anything that distracts us from pleasure is removed. Including the people that are learning how to care for us when we are old.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Being Bold

I thought boldness was a hallmark of brash, brazen personalities. It is for people that are loud, forward, unintimidated. 
Turns out, boldness is for everyone. Boldness doesn't always mean sticking it to someone, or getting in people's faces. It usually means courage, strength, assuredness.
Am I bold enough to believe that I am purchasing the groceries that my family can use? That I am creating meals that will nourish and fill my children's bellies? Am I bold enought to know that I am putting the right amount of fuel in my gas tank? Am I boldly deciding that the laundry should be washed, dried and put away? Did I boldly choose what book to read, or what blogs to look at? Did I make a major decision about who to smile at and speak to this week?  
Do we agonize over these choices? Besides during times when finances are so tight that we must watch each penny. Even then, are we asking God, in every instance, that he might show us the right path? Are we prostrate before our Lord begging him to confirm that the gala apples are the right choice? No? Why not? Why would any one of us think that our small, every day, mundane choices would be less important than accepting a new job title, or moving to another city? 
Every choice that we make, each little, mundane thing, will pave the way for the how we make the big choices. 
Do we trust that we are walking in the will of God when we feed our families? When we care for our lawns? When we chat with neighbors? When we commute to and from work? Are we certain that we are living God's will when we build relationships, dress for the day, have a coffee?
Why, then, would we act like we are about to jump off a cliff when we make any other decision? If we are confident in our mundane about living in the will of God, then making that 'big' decision won't be agonizing. Exciting, big, unknown, probably, but not angst ridden. 
If we are living in the will of God every day, then it doesn't matter if we take the promotion or not. It doesn't matter if we move to another city, or not. It doesn't matter if we buy the car or not. We will still be walking in the will of God. 
What is the will of God? 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says it is giving thanks in everything.  1 Peter 2:15 says it is doing good.  There are several verses that talk about just doing the will of God Romans 12:2, Ephesians 5:17, 1 John 2: 16-17, John 7:17, Romans 8:28.
It looks like the will of God is no mystery.
If we abide (fancy for 'stay') in Him, we'll know it. Do you need to sweat blood in fervent prayer over whether to take the job? Then sweat blood in fervent prayer over whether to eat that donut, or buy those shoes. Such agonizing is for life and death! Would that we all took the eternity of the people around us so seriously as we do the purchase of a new home! 
What earthly thing matters so much that a misstep on my part is going to thwart the will of GOD?
As much as I want to know that I am walking in his will, I want to know it in every moment, not only the ones I deem big enough to require his intervention. 
Every moment. 
I want this badly. Not badly enough to sweat blood. I don't even like sweating sweat. It's gross, and hard. 
Am I good at this walking constantly in God's will thing?  I wish I could say 'absolutley'! But I mess up so much. I ate that donut. And the second one, too. I didn't even stop to consider whether that was the will of God. I'm so glad God is bigger than the donut. I won't agonize over it. I will think about it next time, though. Maybe.
I desire to be confident, not in myself and my own decision making prowess (ha!), but in the truth of the holy, unchanging Creator of the Universe.  I want to know that I am calling on God every day, so that when the things that my mind deems as BIG, are not obstacles, but just another part of life that I can enter into continuing in God's will.
I want to be bold in the every day because God is going to give me every chance to stay in him. His will is going to be done, and I have the opportunity to be part of it!

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Monday, December 19, 2016

On Not Being Enough

(BE AWARE: I don't usually share these things, because I don't want to hurt people that are or have been close to me. I still won't mention names, but since there are only about 100 of you who read my blogs, I'm sure you can puzzle things out.  It is not my intention to shame anyone, but to share what I have learned. Thanks)

     I wasn't enough. Ever. I grew up with that idea being constantly reinforced. I wasn't thin enough, I wasn't pretty enough, I didn't sing well enough, I wasn't smart enough, I didn't follow directions well enough, I didn't learn fast enough, I wasn't considerate enough, Or I was too much of something, which was not enough.  Then I got married, and I was enough for a while. And then I wasn't.
     That isn't to say that I was never complimented. But I'd been conditioned well enough that I didn't believe it. I'm sure the people that were giving me my identity were not intending to do so. I'm sure it was a by product of having received a negative identity themselves, in most cases.
      I was told, often, by the wrong men, how pretty I was. Men that were adults when I wasn't, and that were married and had children. I feel rather lucky now that I wasn't physically violated by any of these men. I did feel sick to my stomach sometimes, though. I wondered what I had done to encourage the kind of attention I was getting. I was sure it had to be something I had done wrong, because of course, I wasn't good enough.  It was years before I realized that I hadn't knowingly  presented myself in a way that would invite such attention. So I wondered instead if I had some sort of mark, or aura, or body language that shouted vulnerability. Did I exude the need to be accepted? Was it abundantly clear that I was lonely in need of affirmation?
     Then I met someone that accepted me. He accepted who I was when we met. He continued to accept me as I grew and changed. Changes in my physical, intellectual and spiritual self were not merely accepted, but encouraged and celebrated. In turn, I learned that affirmation from my spouse is priceless and lovely, but I need affirmation from God. He's my ultimate measuring stick. As I pursued a relationship with God, the relationship with my husband grew, too. And for each other, we are enough. Finally.
     I know this idea could be fleshed out, almost infinitely, with specific stories, but I don't believe that is necessary, here. If you struggle with being enough, look to Jesus. He makes you enough. People don't. Most people won't every be pleased with anyone that isn't themselves. Unless they find their own worth with Christ.  That's why my husband saw that I was enough, and that's why my children will learn that they are enough.
Go, be enough.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Will I be Accused?

     Over the years, whenever I  become aware of some truth, I wonder why I wasn't aware of it before. I mean, I've been going to church for my entire life! My parents, my friends' parents, the people we spent time with, they were all church people. The read their bibles. They prayed. They Preached! I went to Sunday School, Wednesday evening services, Youth Group, two Sunday services, and attended every other event that took place at the church. How could any of these truths be new? Worse, how could my understanding of those truths be different than what I had learned growing up?
     I noticed a major trend among Christian authors, bloggers, and speakers. They would introduce some truth that they had begun to understand deeply, and mention how the previous generations had failed them by not ensuring that particular truth had been understood. Obviously no one else had understood it correctly, and the church had failed it's future generations. So, I began to have the same attitude.  I would be sad that I had wasted some years with a misrepresented God. I began to search for truth myself, because obviously everything I learned had been skewed in some incorrect fashion.
     I have learned things that I wasn't formerly aware of. I believe I have matured in my faith. I believe that I am now a stronger, more confident person because of what I currently understand about my relationship with Jesus. I also know that I will always have more to learn and understand. That there is infinitely more spiritual wisdom than I could ever attain in a lifetime on this world.
     I have also learned that my former lack of understanding, wisdom, or knowledge, was simply lack of maturity. Oh, I may have been a mature person. Street smart, well aware of the things that I did know, but somewhat unaware of the things I didn't know. Not cocky, exactly. Of course I knew that as a young person, there was still plenty to be explored, and that I wouldn't ever get to every corner of every idea. That's a given, I hope. What I am sure of now, I realized because of teaching. Parenting, sure, but come on, teaching is a large part of parenting, a part that not all parents choose to embrace. That's another post.
     Teaching my kids over the years has taught me that some of them learn some ideas more easily than others do. For a few, their interests may ease or might complicate learning certain subjects. They learn basic ideas, first. As they mature, they learn more abstract ideas. Their heads are so full of learning, sometimes, that some ideas don't seem to make it into their heads at all. I have been an eye witness to a child asking me, "why didn't you ever teach me that? It seems to basic, and it would have helped me to learn this!", when I did, in fact, teach them that. Else, I tried to. For whatever reason, that particular child wasn't ready to learn that particular thing at that time. No problem, it was retaught, the child progressed, and learned the new concept.
     I've chosen to continue my education in God's word, learning all I can about His character and how to live this life He's given me here so that when I transition to eternity, I will be confident in it.
     If you've believed that your church let you down in their teachings, I won't argue that maybe they have. There are some kooky churches and nutty preachers out there. Search for yourself, and ask someone that you might trust to help you. Watch for people who live their life selflessly, mostly. Maybe they don't walk around preaching, but you know they aren't in it for themselves. You'll know.  If you message me, I'll pray with you to find the right people. I want you to grow in wisdom and grace, too.
     Pray with me, too, that I will communicate with my kiddos, and whomever else seeks my advice, that they won't one day want to blame my church, or my generation for letting them down with unwise or immature teaching.  Thanks.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Where Do I Even Begin?

"You should write a book!"

 I've heard it many times. I've dreamed about it. I've prayed about it. I've discussed it with friends and family. I've even tried a few times.

Once, I began writing an adventure for a young boy with Asperger's. There's a lot of research that goes into writing books. I had three kiddos under age 5, and four more kiddos besides. How much research and writing could possibly get done? I did get several handwritten pages in, but when I read them over, it was inconsistent, and ideas were crisscrossing all over the pages. I put the story away, hoping for a better time to get at it.

Another time, I tried writing about raising kids. But, I was busy with raising kids.

I usually wonder, after someone says that to me, what it was about our conversation that led them to say it. Was it a funny thing that I said? (Was I even funny to anyone but myself?) Was it some insightful, intelligent thing that I said? (Was the thing that I thought was intelligent the same thing THEY thought was intelligent?) Was it just that we have such wacky, zany adventures? (Or just completely unbelievable circumstances?)

Sometimes I write down ideas and phrases that just occur to me out of nowhere, hoping they will flesh out into some grand idea. Not so far. Maybe I can just publish a book of possibilities, and others can write amazing books out of them.

This blog even took a hiatus for a year because of life. I realized, though, that all of the creative things took a hiatus from my life this last year. I haven't crocheted, or paper crafted. I didn't make christmas tree ornaments, I haven't been canning and baking. I haven't even switched out the color of my eyeshadow all year. And I've worn the same silver hoop earrings every time I reach for a pair.


So, I bought a coloring book. I used to love to color, a lot! Then the grown-up coloring book became all the rage, and I avoided it like the plague. I don't like to follow the crowd. I like to what I like to do because I like doing it, not because everyone else likes doing it. But then, I relented. Maybe I think it'll lose popularity soon, and the next big thing will be all the rage by Christmas.  I wanted to start being creative again, but it had to be something that could travel well, and not be messy.  I also need a good fiction book to read. I'll start slowly, and let the creativity build. Maybe I'll get to Christmas ornaments by Christmas.  And maybe I'll start writing another book.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

When I Talk About What I Taught My Kids

     I talk about my kids on this blog quite often. They're mainly what I write about. There are quite a few of them around here, filling up my time and space.

     One of the categories that I share the most about is discipline. Correction, really. It seems pretty natural that a parent would need to correct children, and often. It's a subject that comes up time and again. And again. And yet again.

     What I found when some of the Zooligans began to mature beyond the preschool years, is that the way the corrections played out began to change. There were discussions and explanations, and understandings, and mis-understandings.

     Sometimes, when correcting and guiding, words would come from my mouth. Words that didn't seem to be all mine. Even though my mouth spoke the words, I was hearing them as though they were being spoken to me. I was the one that needed, desperately, to hear those words. They were fluid ideas, wise thoughts, good advice. I'm pretty sure they weren't my words.

     I like to believe that I'm an intelligent person. I educate myself be reading and researching. I think that I can string ideas together into intelligble communication. I might even, on occassion, say something profound. I'm pretty proud of myself when I do this. I don't feel that it happens often enough.

     But, profundity isn't what I was feeling when those correct, right words were spilling from me to my children. I was feeling conviction. Whatever I was correcting my children for in that moment was something that I needed to correct in myself, too.

     God uses some great tools for teaching us, even the words that come out of our own mouths. I guess I don't don't need to hide behind my kids when I tell share about a great correction moment. I can just come out and say that I learned something great when the Holy Spirit spoke through me to my kids, and I needed to listen, too.

     May the prompting of the Holy Spirit be obvious and real for you, too.

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