Category Archives: Parenting

Why Not Discipline?

I thought I was done with the topic of parenting, but in the last two days two things made me decide there has to be one more.

One was a trailer on a newscast for a later news program on kids behavior in stores. It was pretty hideous. Especially the mother who yelled “I’m going to leave you here!”

The other was a three year old running down the isles of the church and up in front, not during the praise time with everyone standing, but during the sermon. Our pastor is great with such things so it wasn’t a huge embarrassing distraction, but it made me wonder why parents don’t discipline.

If you would like to share some reasons parents don’t discipline please feel free to respond.

Here is what 30 years of therapy with parents offers:
1) Parents abused as children are afraid they will lose control like their parents did, so they don’t go there.
2) Parents who grew up without discipline and boundaries don’t have a blueprint for it. They don’t know how, and don’t realize how important it is to a child’s security, self-esteem and self-control.
3) Parents who need their children to love them so badly don’t cross them or set boundaries (an issue for the parent to resolve in therapy.)
4) Parents who are afraid their children will hate them if they give them consequences. The opposite is true. Children love more when they feel secure.
5) Parents who mean well and start out with discipline but who back down because their children get angry, guilt them, talk them out of it, or just beg until the parents give in. (This also is an issue for the parent to face.)

6) And I do believe there is the parent who just thinks discipline will taint their love and love will conquer all. Some of these people get lucky, and if  the bigger system they are in is somewhat healthy, the kids may be ok. I think a lot of Millennials have had this. (We are seeing with varying results.)

7) And finally there are parents who for whatever reason just can’t be bothered with the effort of discipline. It is work. They are too involved with their own problems, needs or addictions to be present enough to set limits and hold them. Or they pretend their kids know what to do, or are perfect.

Parents hear me, the kids are the ones that suffer–and later on, possibly the parents and for sure, society. I’ve written a lot about discipline and what it is and isn’t, and the difference between discipline and punishment (discipline is discipling and should never be done in anger), so let me finish with a few examples from a Biblical perspective.

It seems there were fathers who didn’t get good ratings because of they were too lenient.  Some of them God personally rebuked, or sent someone to rebuke, as in the case of Aaron, Eli, and David. Samuel was too soft on his kids too, but I guess God didn’t confront him because he had been given away at three or four or five (when he was fully weaned). He himself was an amazing man–a true intimate of God as a judge and a prophet, who God used even as a child. But abandonment by parents must have made him too soft on his own sons because they didn’t identify with his values–didn’t follow his example.

Aaron was too easy on his boys and it cost him two of their lives. Not because God killed them, but because they had no respect for authority and obedience, and expressly did their own thing instead of following God’s instructions, and when they went into His presence unprepared, the energy killed them.

Eli was rebuked by Samuel as a child. Eli had been too easy on his  sons who were also doing their own thing in the office of the priesthood–taking what they wanted from the offerings, instead of what was appointed for them, and raping the women! Eli confronted them but didn’t remove them from their office, and they all died because his sons took the ark into battle (doing their own thing again).

David was also rebuked for being too easy and preoccupied as a father. He allowed behavior to go by that he should have confronted and acted on, and as a result his kids were a mess among themselves and to him. Absalom staged a coup and then died in the fray that followed trying to take the throne.

These are just four of the big guys–men of God–priests, prophets and king. We are free to do what we want, or what we think is right, but we also get the consequences. Someone has said, “We are free to choose, but not free to escape the consequences of our choices.”

As I learned in high school physics long ago “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

If you don’t know how to raise kids, admit it and ask people you trust who have been over the road. Their advice won’t be perfect, but look at their kids. Ask several, whose kids you really like, and find the common themes. You probably won’t go wrong with that. And you may get a mentor with it.

And of course, always ask God for wisdom, He loves to help! And why wouldn’t He talk to you when He says over and over in scripture, “Listen, please just listen!”

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A Tribute to Father-Love

I haven’t known many good fathers. It’s a difficult position to fill. It may be partly due to the way we’ve raised boys for the last 50 years–mothers tend to do too much for them and be too soft on one hand, or be disengaged on the other. Fathers tend to be either disengaged or harsh and controlling–not having good fathering themselves, they don’t have a healthy blueprint.

I’ve said before parenting is hard! You may have a picture of who you want to be, but being it feels so foreign. We have to concentrate and be purposeful if we want to change much from how we were parented. However, it is important and worth the effort. There is nothing more important than raising emotionally and spiritually healthy children. They grow into adults who can care and serve, improve the lives of others and society, be strong enough to make change for good.

I love it when I see people putting in the effort and time to be present with their children–being intentional, engaging them in conversation, holding boundaries, having clear and stated expectations, and showing affection. Such parents are my daughter and her husband. Yes, the one I called out here. I also said he was a good man. He treated me well when I met him, he included me in their plans, and opened up and shared his heart. God knew I would need that information for the potholes on the road ahead.

He seems to be always thinking about how he can grow his four sons into good men. He models service and takes them with him to keep the lawns and flowerbeds around their church looking good. He engages their help on projects so they can learn how to handle tools and themselves. And he usually takes them one at a time either to help him or run errands. They love being with him. And that speaks of his respect for them.

I remember before they got married asking the two oldest if they wanted them to get married. (It was pretty obvious–they had been praying for him to come over for six months before he did, but I wanted to hear what they would say.)

They both said a feeling yes, so I said, “You like the way he treats your mother?”

And the younger said, “We like the way he treats us!” I was so impressed to hear a 7 year old say that!

Their step-dad sold his beloved motorcycle because “it wasn’t the time of life” for one. He got a motorhome so they can all go camping. He’s a busy man but he has gotten an old truck so he and the oldest can fix it up together for when he is ready to drive–about two years from now. He is capable like my daughter’s father, and can do most anything. He will be a great teacher for her boys. But the best part is that he wants to be. And even better than that, I know he prays for help and direction daily.

There isn’t a more influential position, no more powerful job than parenting. And fathering is so important that Jesus was purposely planned to be born in a stable, most likely a cave, so he could be birth-bonded to Joseph, his stepfather. The father-love of God would be his favorite topic, and he needed to have a good earthly experience of that from birth. Joseph obviously died before Jesus was 30, but by that time, Jesus had formed such a powerful, real connection with God, his biological father, that he transitioned that loss well.

He modeled for us the relationship we can have with God as our own father. So don’t despair if your father was less than good. Satan has worked very hard with his forces to distract fathers and discourage them from filling their roles well, because he knows how important it is to our maturity.

Consequently, many of us didn’t have great fathers. But we do have one in God. And He is just as available to us as He was to Jesus while he grew up here as a human man. Abba pursues you more ardently than any human father would or could. You can talk to Him at any time, in any place no matter what. All you have to do is want to. No, you don’t even have to want to. You can choose to even without the feeling. He honors any tiny step toward him no matter how feeble, any tiny choice for Him no matter how flimsy, and takes a huge compensating step toward you.

He will give you what you need, what you want in a father, the approval and structure you crave, even to a sense of his personal presence holding you. You never have to feel rejected or alone again because He loves you as if you are His only and His own. Make a special time to be with Him and He will be there for you; you will feel His smile.

In the words of Kristine D’Marco’s song, “He is my father; I never wonder if His plans for me are good, if He’ll come through as He should; for He is provision, and enough wisdom, to usher in my brightest days, to turn my mourning into praise. I am who He says I am. He is who he says He is. I’m defined by all His promises, shaped by every word He says. I am no victim. I’m not a poor man. With the King I have a home, the kingdom’s now become my own. He is my father. He is provision.”

If you want to get a good look at the father-love of God read episode one of Love’s Playbook! 

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Only a Big Man can Admit He’s Been Wrong

I have to give kudos to my new son-in-law. I am so proud of him for being open to Spirit and being teachable. He has been drinking green juice that I would have a hard time drinking and I’ve been at this health thing almost 40 years. A few months ago all he liked was meat, white pasta and white breads, and that’s pretty much all he ate, besides desserts. But his pastor went on a Daniel Fast (Daniel 1 and 9) and he was impressed to do the same.

My daughter was astonished–what would he eat? But he was resolute. She is amazing with food–like a magician almost; and she was so grateful that she decided to make it as easy on him as she could. He ate things he had no idea he was eating. They did it for 60 days, and she said he began to look different after even one week.

We visited not long after their fast was over, and I asked him if he had felt a difference?

“Oh yeah!” was his immediate response.

I resisted any desire to comment further. That was enough. 🙂 I was so proud of him for even that. Because he had always given me such a hard time about being vegan. He had called me “the veggie prophet,” which I assumed meant I was calling for eating vegetables? (I had never asked for explanation.)

But I was thrilled that three little boys heard it–we were all sitting at the dinner table, and they don’t miss a thing–especially when he speaks. They had heard the teasing, so I was glad they could hear the admission.

It takes a big man to admit he’s been wrong. He is a big man, but he just grew in my eyes, and I think in the eyes of three little men.

This morning Richard and I read Psalm 23-25, and in  25:9 was, “The meek (teachable) will He guide in judgment (discernment), and the meek will He teach His way.” God’s ways make us happy (and healthy). And He is happy to teach us because when you feel better, life looks better, it improves your perspective by 100%. Verse 12 is a companion saying, “What man fears (reverences) the Lord? him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.” The way of God’s choosing or ours? It is also translated “He shall teach him in the way he should choose.” (guidance) The NIV says, “…in the way chosen for him.”

I couldn’t find a translation to support this but I think it is true, that even in the way of our own choosing God will teach us if we reverence Him and realize that He knows better than we do–and really that is what being teachable is. Who doesn’t believe that the Creator of a universe 15 billion light years across might know more than me? That isn’t really the issue, is it? It’s whether I believe God created me, loves me personally, has my best interests at heart. Does He care? Can I know Him? Can I trust Him?

This makes a dilemma for Memorial Day. It’s a day to be grateful for so many men who died and underwent horrible trauma for our freedom.

I hate war.  I have seven grandsons. Need I say more? But we live with it, and it scares me to think what they might have to go through. So I ask God to make them strong men who always have a relationship with Him and a heart to listen to Him. Men who can admit when they are wrong, men who will ask for guidance, men He can teach His ways.

Have to add this–the message in church was from Leviticus 25–God’s ways bring rest and space and trust and plenty into our lives. We need that rest–Shabbat rest–even the land rested. You can rest because you trust. You can trust because you know Him.

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, fathering, Health, Living well, Love ed, Mental Health, Parenting, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Mothering is Not Easy, but it is Good

Remember how easy it was to run to Mommy when you were hurt or in pain? Needing was natural then.

“Admitting the problem is half of the healing.”

I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Why is it so hard for us to do? Especially if we know how much it helps us?

I think, because we have all been hurt, we are in self-protective mode. We try to shunt responsibility elsewhere. For instance, I always think all the dirt in my house comes from my husband. I don’t even question it! Well, lately I had a humorous and painful thought. When he dies, I might be surprised at how much dirt is still here–and then I’ll have to admit that it’s me.

When you admit responsibility you have to do something. You have to look at yourself–admit you fail, admit you aren’t perfect, admit you are vulnerable.

Or, you get to do something! People who can’t admit they are wrong strain the relationships they are in, putting pressure on the people around them–the ones closest, including yourself.

We think admitting fault or weakness makes us less. Makes us look bad. Or this one–makes us vulnerable.  We don’t like to feel vulnerable –it scares us. We think we have to protect ourselves. What a silly notion. As if we really could! Most of our attempts make things worse–including us. It hardens our response ability into defensiveness (fear), instead of the free-flow of creative thought where solutions or new ideas come from. Defensiveness keeps us from growing. It makes those around us uncomfortable, and sometimes feel hopeless.

Welcoming a new perspective helps. Brene Brown has researched vulnerability for years and has found it to be  the most healthy attitude a person can have: knowing that you aren’t perfect, can make mistakes, and admit it.

Today I am so proud of my daughter for admitting she has post-partum depression! She has already started to feel better three days later! Yes, it can respond that fast. (And for any of you who are fighting depression, research has shown that 1000-4000 mg. of Omega 3/daily, and half as much of 6 and 9, is more effective than anti-depressants, as is exercise, and sunlight, or vitamin D if you have no sun, and in her case iron because of blood loss from birthing).

We knew she was suffering from sleep deprivation, and I noticed she looked like she did when she was depressed after her last son, but she wasn’t into the vulnerable place of being helped yet then. Her main coping mechanism has been to do it herself, take care of everything, be perfect.

In fact she confronted me on being judgmental about her technology. That wasn’t how I saw it, but man, did it hurt. There was just enough truth and just enough misunderstanding to really make it sting.

I didn’t know what to say, but when it hurts that bad, you have two choices: go into defensive mode or pray. So I breathed, and said to God, I don’t even know what to say. We were with her husband and mine, and someone said something, and I heard myself saying, “I just know that looking at yourself is really hard. It’s so painful that you can barely see yourself with any clarity.”

That broke the tension and everyone became more vulnerable. Everyone started sharing, and we even ended up praying together. It ended up making our last day much better.

A real big-picture perspective would show us how futile are our attempts at self-protection. With what we are up against–living in the war zone between good and evil–we regularly get slammed with discouragement and pain, and what fun the dark side has with our pretending to be good and right. They help us make big messes with denial and self-protection.

How much better to let God protect us, so we are free to be real: broken and vulnerable, not hiding, not defensive. Able to hurt, to need help, to be wrong–to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is good, healthy even.

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Filed under depression, Health, Love ed, Mental Health, Mistakes can be a matter of perspective, mothering, Parenting

Perspective on Parents and Parenting

I think I’ve said before that vacations are always an education. This one was no different, except that I am understanding more clearly than ever how little power I have to influence change. That’s good. Someday I may even be able to visit my kids without making them uncomfortable.

They all have their struggles. Thank God I am down the road a piece. In one household I tiptoe around for fear I’ll get dirty. In the other two I tiptoe around for fear I’ll get something dirty.

It makes me thankful that my husband and I have grown together, and at least are in synch about how to keep house. It’s not a pig-sty, but I don’t feel bad if the baseboards aren’t dusted or the windows haven’t been cleaned…Uh oh, now I’ve caught myself–I just felt bad a couple of weeks ago that my windows didn’t get cleaned before I had company. But it had been a while and I didn’t feel too bad.

I couldn’t comfortably live with either of my daughters. But how can they be so different when I raised both of them? Different genetics? One is biological, one is adopted. The crazy part is I keep seeing more of myself in both of them. And it’s usually the things I want to “correct” in them!

I am getting better about telling them what they should do. I guess I thought mothers were supposed to do that. That was my modeling. But they don’t like it any more than I did at 30! Imagine that!

At least I’m closer to them than I was to my mother. I never doubted her love, I just never felt her approval. She still corrected the way I dusted her furniture when I was in my 40’s. No wonder I’ve never liked dusting!

And yes, there are still some things I can’t keep my mouth shut about. Mostly about parenting and relationships. I’m supposed to be an expert so I feel a little less like it’s coming across just as my opinionated interference. And I am trying to be more loving in the way I express it. But two things, at least, will always pop my cork, one of them being a parent, and the other not being a victim.

Making wise decisions for your children instead of expecting them to raise themselves and know what’s good for them, really sets me off. If they were born knowing, why would they need us? Yet so many people don’t want to fight with their kids, or make boundaries and hold them with consequences! So many want to make their kids happy instead of making them wise, respectful, and responsible. And it is SO wrong! They don’t want to hurt them so they do nothing. But it does hurt.

The kids are the ones who suffer from poor parenting. And many times they don’t even know it. They don’t learn how to eat, they don’t learn how to treat others, they don’t learn how to work or take care of things or themselves because no one taught them. They suffer. Society suffers.

And of course there’s the other side where all the parents ever do is yell and the kids don’t learn anything except fear and victimization. There’s no expressed love, no education, no time spent. Parents are wrapped up in trying to be happy. Very often the parents were victimized and are in such a bad relationship that they are consumed by it because they never learned how to be close and communicate from their parents.

After 25 years as a family therapist, and 35 years as a parent, and 30 as a step parent, I have to be amazed and simply thank God that He can somehow love us, and accept us, and parent us, and make us whole, even as wretched and ignorant and fearful and miserable and unparented and un-insightful and unaware and un-self-aware and different (and opinionated) as we are. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

 

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Boundaries

So ISIS beheaded another 21 people–Egyptians–this week. In the name of God? I think not. The one before that was an American woman. Before that burning the Jordanian pilot. They are going for reaction and intimidation. Notice how tall their black-clad executioners are compared to their victims. They are going for fear. It brings up some important questions:

How could they possibly think a God who died for freedom would approve? Or is that why they hate Christians–because we believe in a God who died to guarantee our freedom? Are these guys so demented that they actually think God rules with force? The word demented has ties with “demon” –have they been so pounded on by people who were controlled by demons that their boundaries cracked and they allowed evil to take over?

Were they so powerless, so mistreated as children and became so angry or were so hurt that they chose evil in the form of revenge? They have attracted many such “demented” people. Do they all really think God is like them? Or is this just an excuse to act out their rage?

What caused them to feed such rage? Helplessness? Powerlessness?

Have they thrown off their ties to their own religion in order to vent their fury? Or are they really deluded into thinking they are acting righteously?

I’ve read their holy book, and it says over and over–more than anything else–that Allah is most gracious and most merciful! Where is their disconnect?

I love it when the things I’m thinking and the things I read converge.

I’ve been working on God’s conversation with Cain in Genesis 4 for weeks, and was thinking the above this morning, when I went to God Calling for today. It said to be more afraid of disturbance between God and us than anything.

“When you feel the absolute calm has been broken–away alone with Me until your heart sings, and all is strong and calm. These (disturbances) are the only times when evil can find an entrance. The forces of evil surround the city of man-soul, and are keenly alert for one such unguarded spot, through which an arrow can pierce and do havoc.”

He had my attention; this is just what He had said to Cain! Then He said something shocking! “Remember all that you have to do is to keep calm and happy. God does the rest.”

What? No word about choice? It is only implied, but what a choice it is! And I know you experience it–when someone treats you meanly or rudely, or worse, scares you to death. And you choose not to let their arrows, poisoned by the dark side, go in.

Is that even possible?

It is! Listen to the rest: “No evil force can hinder My Power–only you yourself have power to do that.”

I think the next words are going to be about choosing because that’s what He’s talking about. But no–the last line is, “Think when all God’s mighty forces are arrayed to aid you–and your poor, puny self impedes their onward march.” He’s talking about how our emotions like fear and hurt get triggered. grabbed, and we run away with the wolves instead of sounding the battle cry, “Onward! Fight!”

There is a fight, a holy war, going on, but it isn’t about us killing each other, it’s about us choosing calm or trust and letting God fight for us. God’s boundary is our freedom, our boundary is not hooking in, not letting ourselves get carried away by fear, or hurt, or desire for revenge  but knowing our Helper and choosing to use His forces.

Right after that I read Psalm 4 and it’s all about the same thing! Wow! The last line is “Now I will lie down in peace, and sleep; for thou alone, O Lord, makes me live unafraid.”

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Filed under A God perspective, a perspective on evil, Bullying, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Parenting, suffering, What is God like?, When religion gets it wrong...

The Hard and Soft Side of Love

I have a friend who is struggling with his son constantly pushing the limits, always testing, needing someone who cares enough to set and hold limits.

My friend’s fear? That he will ruin his kid–who will grow up hating his father if he disciplines too much. He loved his dad who disciplined him–it’s not coming from there. His wife is overly soft–she may have gotten to him.

I repeatedly assure him that limits are where security comes from–knowing that someone cares enough to fight with you because you are worth it. Also knowing that someone bigger and trustworthy is in charge.

I’ve written about this so-necessary side of love before;  it is something parents really struggle with today.

This morning, sitting with God, it occurred to me that my insecurity comes from the same place.

I desperately want to know I can relax and be the carefree child growing up in an atmosphere of complete trust. Knowing One greater than me is in control overseeing like a loving parent, careful to filter out all truly bad things, but allowing those I need for my own development.

My own parents were permissive. And unfortunately I, too, passed it on.

So I know where it came from, but why is this so hard for me to get? I mean really “get.” I know it intellectually. But to have it in my cells–every one of them–so I can trust this God I call Father. The one I get up to sit with just because I want to be in His Presence, because I want to soak in His love and feel it, because I want it to heal me so I can relax and be me–no thought, no effort, just be.

I want to live loving everything, confident that whatever is allowed in my life has been filtered by the gentlest hand and I can accept it with confidence and grace, knowing I am loved.

I saw Exodus over the holidays, and I didn’t like their picture of God any more than the one in Noah. Ugh, they were both portrayed as distant, uncaring, vengeful. I suppose they want to make Him look strong. But can’t God be strong and not vengeful? Can’t He be pictured as involved and not codependent?

I think so. I’m not too far from parents today who want there kids to have all good things. But I KNOW that isn’t going to make them happy. Happiness comes from inside. From making choices, sometimes hard ones, from knowing you’ve done the right thing even when it isn’t easy. I know we all need our pain, and we are hard-wired for struggle, but truth be told, I want a God who is all sweetness and light.

Or do I?

I want a God who is strong enough to deal with evil. One who is strong enough to protect me and those I love. One who is wise enough to guide me through the things I need to learn to grow up.

I want a God strong enough to deal with evil–to eradicate suffering and pain. I want a God good enough to know my true heart, as well as the hearts of those I love. I want a God much, much bigger than me, who is totally trustworthy.

I want a God who is all good, but strong enough to do the hard stuff that needs to be done.

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Filed under A God perspective, a perspective on evil, Becoming real, Love ed, Loved, Parenting, suffering, Uncategorized, What is God like?

My Mother Taught Me to Fly…

is written on a tiny piece of wood on my dresser. I gave it to Mom a few years before she died.

It seems appropriate to continue my joy-writing on my mother’s birthday. She was a person of joy even though she had a difficult life and didn’t get what she really wanted. In some ways I think she got more.

She so wanted an education. They couldn’t afford it. She needed to work to help the family. It was still the Depression.

She wanted to become an artist and a writer–she had dreams and ambition–she was a strong woman. But not strong enough to withstand my father’s advances. She got married at 19.

She has duplicated herself six times over. She put her strength into her children. And her strength was a desire to know God’s love, experience it, and share it.  I believe everyone of her children achieved that before death, or are still achieving it as the highest priority of their lives (my two brothers preceded her in death).

That is quite an accomplishment. In my mind, it is the highest. Is their anything that matters more than giving your kids the most important foundation in life? Anything more important than knowing and being loved by God?

Health is important because without it your mind and body will find it harder to make those chemical-electrical connections in your brain that lead to good choices. But it only makes all the important things in life easier, it’s not the thing.

Knowing how to receive love and give it is important. But again, that is only harder without getting it first from parents and then from God.

Being able to choose your perspective is very important because that forms healthy (constructive) or unhealthy (destructive) beliefs and choices. (Poor Robin Williams–who felt he had no more good choices! And we are amazed that one with so much could feel and think that.)

Scripture says that joy is in the presence of God. If you don’t know that–never learned it–you are definitely handicapped, life is harder.

Do you know how to go into God’s presence? Do you know how to experience His love?

My devotional this morning says, “I crafted you with enormous capacity to know Me and enjoy My Presence… The more you focus on My Presence with  you, the more fully you can enjoy your life.” This is Jesus speaking (Jesus Calling, 2008)

But what if you have never done that? Don’t even know God or Jesus?

An easy place to start is a choice. Set aside ten minutes to be with Him. Tell Him you want to meet with Him every day and have His joy, then  go to “God in your Face” (facebook) OR http://Godhelps.net/Godinabox and read  the day’s short reading on Jesus’ life. He was our clearest picture of God. While reading, breathe in seven seconds and out seven and keep breathing rhythmically while trying to imagine being there. (This is meditation and 12 minutes a day for 30 days has been shown to change physical numbers.)

Make that a habit and you will have a great start on knowing God and experiencing Joy. And my mother’s legacy will reach you, and who knows, maybe even your children! It is the best legacy you can give.

My mother didn’t miss out. She will have eternity to create art. She already created six masterpieces. I know that because they will last through eternity. What great artist can say that?

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Grief, Health, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Parenting, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Love can Alter Perspective

IMG_3598

This picture brought to mind the old saying, “If you want to understand someone, walk a mile in his shoes.

But what if you can’t? What if they are just too heavy to walk a mile? Or across the living room! You might have to rest.

He was trying to walk his stepdad’s boots to his room for Mommy, but they are so heavy he had to rest half way.

Some of us try to walk in the shoes of Our Father and find them just too heavy–way too heavy–to make it to our destination, and instead of resting we give up.

Interesting. Jesus said being connected with Him makes life light. So why does it sometimes feel so heavy?

Last week I had so many commitments, it could have felt way too heavy, especially since I was fighting off some virus, but my weakness made me focus on Him and relax, until the last day. He told me to rest, but I had so much to get done, that I got all tense and tired and irritable! But at least I learned from it–the next day was a great day because of “resting” in His love instead of trying harder and getting tense.

Maybe we don’t rest enough. Maybe we are too conscious of us, and not conscious enough of Him.

I’m sure my grandson had no thought of quitting. He might have been surprised how heavy those boots were, or how hard it was to walk in them; but he just needed to rest a bit–no big deal. In fact he felt honor, I’m sure.

There’s three of them adjusting to a new life, new home, new Dad; but he loves them, and that takes most of the pain of their new life away. When they focus on him, and how he feels about them, how he treats them, it’s worth it. He’s worth it. They feel his love. They rest til they can see their dad again.

Just like their new Dad, your Father-God is worth it. Focussing on His love, His respect, even His discipline, makes you feel secure and safe. He’s worth it. Let yourself rest and feel His love. He will reveal more and more love.

Research says the younger ones (<4) are typically most impacted by life upsets like divorce, but I’ve noticed where there is love on both ends, the little ones do much better than predicted. Sometimes even better than the older ones.

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rigid or Relational?

Had an interesting thought this morning–you can’t be both rigid and relational. Not really. Rigidity tends to squash relationships. Some of you are really bugged that I didn’t capitalize rigid in the title. You might be one of those who feels there is only one way and it’s yours–doesn’t leave much room for another person–their thoughts, wishes, idiosyncrasies. Don’t feel bad, I’ve spent some time in that camp.

I grew up there. My mother believed their was only one way to do things and it was hers. But she wasn’t rigid about her perspective on people. Maybe it’s because she’d been talking to God since she was 12. Literally, she would hear Him speaking to her through scripture–the first time was when she was 12 sitting out under a tree watching the sunset and reading Isaiah 43.

I didn’t think of that right off this morning, though; I thought about how I’ve had to grow out of my belief that God is rigid, because of course He couldn’t be, He is too relational. Many times I’ve told Him, “You give us way too much freedom!” When I’ve been realizing how easily we make mistakes–sometimes big ones–even when we are well-intentioned.

I guess I thought He was rigid because I believed you have to do things His way–like my mother. Scripture is full of details God gave to people, especially his “chosen people”. You can come away thinking God is pickyunish (that’s worse than just picky).

But here we must understand two things: one, He was setting up a symbolic system of teaching. Anything you didn’t follow to the letter destroyed the message He was trying to give. It got distorted because they were into just doing it and not understanding the symbolism or Him, which was why He gave it.

The second is that He wanted to bless them, not magically, but through living within the laws of their beings. He knows how humans work and what they need physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. So he gave them His “wisdom”–His laws–the way things work– so they could live in harmony with themselves and nature and be healthy.

He wanted them to be Blessed Beyond Belief, the head, and not the tail of all nations. He wanted to show the world (and the universe) that He was good and could be trusted, through them. Most of all He wanted a relationship with each person, but they weren’t good at understanding that. They’d come from slavery where the focus was obedience, and when they got free it was time to party! (“we can do whatever we want”).

God knew better than “If you love them they’ll be good,” where love is letting them do whatever they want. He knew they needed strong boundaries. (Lack of boundaries is the biggest problem in parenting today.) Imagine taking 3,000,000 fifth-graders camping!

They needed boundaries because of their mentality. Children need them to feel secure and loved. “No” is more important than “yes” as a parent. It provides security and strength–freedom within boundaries develops personhood. Children who have all the power in a system feel crazy and out-of-control. Many of them suffer from anxiety.

So while sometimes God looks rigid in the Old Testament scriptures, maybe the best word to describe Him and good parenting is purposeful.  The way he related was related to the needs and collective consciousness of the people. His principles never change, but his methods and rules often do.  God is so relational in the Old and New Testaments that most people think it’s two different beings. But it was the people and their needs, their perspectives, that changed so drastically.

If God is anything, He is relational, even quantum physics is showing us that!

http://Godhelps.net/God-in-a-Box

 

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Filed under A God perspective, Love ed, Mental Health, Parenting, Respect and disrespect, Uncategorized, What is God like?