Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Having Adult Children

I have one . A child that is officially, and legally an adult.

Done with school.
Over 21.
Able to vote.

You must wonder if it’s the relief we all think it is. We’ve grown them to adulthood, teen years are over, and out the door they go. *whew*! Right?

Not exactly.

They are (hopefully) prepared to make their own way. We’ve taught them skills. They know how, even if they don’t do it, to keep their spaces clean and tidy. They can cook, and balance their bank account. They can ask for directions, read a map. They can show up to work each day, pay their bills. Maybe.

But will they put on a sweater when it’s cold? Will they wash their bedding at appropriate intervals? Will they be kind to people, choose their company wisely? Will they be a good friend and neighbor? Will they spend their new freedom staying up too late watching Netflix, or will they manage their time well? Will they purchase and eat foods that keep them healthy?

And why aren’t they calling or texting? What are they doing that they don’t want me to know or ask questions about? Who are they with, all of these people that I’ve never met, and likely never will? Who is influencing them right now? Who is introducing nefarious ideals?

We know it’s happening. But we have no control. Do we still have influence? God, I hope so. That is an actual prayer, you know.

You don’t stop being a parent. Ever. No matter if your children are grown. They are still our children. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Haven’t most of us quoted that?

The way our children think of us changes over the years. I’m sure you all know that. They adore us, then they question us, then, and then. Then they learn something that perhaps we’ve never spoken of. Maybe they bring up the subject with us, and we know little about it, or, more probably, we don’t agree with the point of view that they present. They realize that there are other viewpoints. Other ideas.

Our children are supposed to separate from us. To some degree. Hopefully, we are learning to know God, and His love, and we are sharing that with our children. That will keeps us connected always. Always, always.

Parents aren’t infallible. Didn’t you know that? We don’t always know best. Sometimes we need advice from others. Sometimes we have a bad day, and perhaps we deal with the people around us in a less than loving manner. Maybe. Did we hide these things from our kiddos, or did we let them watch us mess up, then figure out how to make things right. Even, at times, admitting that there is no way to make things right, but maybe watching us begin again with someone that we’ve crushed, or restore a relationship that we destroyed with our pride.

We can be anxious about our adult kids forging their way in the wide world, or we can be confident that we taught the valuable lessons. The things that are truly the most important. That they will, if not yet, return to the wisdom of those early life lessons. That they will be the citizens in their communities that produce good fruit.

We can continue to pray over our adult babies. And of course, we will continue to ask why don’t they ever call?

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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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