Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thankful Thanksgiving...

It is early and me and the dogs and I are up while the rest of the house is still dreaming... I've been thinking back on a few things that have taken place over this year and Thanksgivings past and am awestruck in how things just keep changing...I've said it before and I'm saying it again...the dream or expectation of how our lives will turn out compared to reality is so eye opening and shows us that God is in control...we have free will...but only God knows...

With that and in remembrance of a tradition that Rhonda, my husband's oldest sister, started on my first Thanksgiving with their family...six years ago...I'd like to go around my table and thank those who have influenced my no specific order just as you come to mind.

To God...Thank you for all of it...the good, the difficult, the grace, the love, and these people whom you have placed in my life...or me in theirs.

To Rick...I am thankful for your love. My whole life I watched my dad love my mom and dreamed of a love like theirs...the kind that others can see when they look at us while we don't know they're have given that to me and I hope that I have given that to you. Our friends joke that we are obsessed with each other and they pick on us for doing almost everything together...but I see that as them knowing that we are real, that we are bound to each other, and that it is our bubble. In the end, after the kids are grown, the friends and family have walked out the door.. when it is just you and me...I will snuggle into you and feel your arms around me and you will know that you are my favorite... and I will thank God then, like I do everyday, for giving you to me. I Love you.

To my Dad...Super Man. I am thankful that you are the single most influential person in my life. Through your actions and expectations you have taught me strength, independence, loyalty, how to give love, how to receive love, never to quit, to stand and when necessary to fight, gentleness, pride, humility, forgiveness, and most recently that a word? I'm still working on that one. At one time, forever actually, I thought you unbreakable and all powerful, able to do anything and everything...somehow immune to the things that tear at the rest of super man...then Jacob died and I saw you break. Through that I realized that you weren't unbreakable, but I also watched you, in your broken state, pick me, Rick, and everyone else up and carry us through to the other side and only when you knew that we were safe, did you allow yourself to be carried by one else. I pray that I inherit that kind of strength too. God shows his strenght through you. You are amazing.

To my Mom...the engine that could...for a long time I didn't give you credit for your strength because you cloaked it in insecurity...I only saw untamed emotion. But you have taught me not to give fight through the struggles...however unrefined and messy the struggle might be to just keep going. You are the that a word?? You are the best example of the adage "learn from your mistakes". I've come to realize that my experiences with you growing up are in direct relation to the fact that you were in the process of learning how to do...well, everything...I know that sounds weird and possibly insulting, but what I'm trying to say is that I understand. Your childhood wasn't filled with the Betty Crocker cookbook memories or the Cleaver family holidays, so as I was growing and learning from you and dad, you were teaching yourself how to make those memories for us. Like the recipes, some turned out and some didn't, but you figured out what went wrong, then did it differently the next time, until it turned out good. I had a great childhood; thanks to you.

To Trystan...For being silly, smart, and stubborn. For standing for what is right even in the face of criticism. For your heart and the love that you give freely and the protectiveness you feel for your siblings and friends. For giving me something to look forward to as I watch you grow into a man. For loving your dad. For stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things.

To Tonya...I am thankful that you make me play. You keep me balanced. Anyone who knows me knows that I am driven...and driven people tend to be too suckers as you would say. You have taught me to relax, take it in, and have fun doing it, within reason. Thank God for you, because Trystan was taking on my more serious traits and doing it to the extreme. You and I also share a common bond through different issues that we have both experienced in our lives and I love you for that too.

To Jenny...for your compassion and your God first take on life. In almost every conversation that we have, I see how devoted you are to God first and how ferociously you strive to protect your family. That you want to please God and do what is right...and you do it in a way that doesn't make others feel that you are judging them or that your choices are better than just love all of us and are so aware of others.

To Chad...for proving people wrong and being the best example of God's power to change. I am so inspired.

To Breanne...for not choosing me. Ok, I'll wait so that you can read that again. Yes, I said for not choosing me. In my driven state...I strive to be the best at everything I do. In my life, (I am not being boastful in this statement) I have pretty much accomplished that...until now. I have worked hard to attain the goals that I have set for myself and have accomplished most of them. By you not choosing me, you have shown me that no matter how hard I try and no matter what I do...I can't be everything to everyone. That is a hard pill to swallow,but now that I am faced with it, I am learning how to fail and how to bow out. This is called humility.

To Lea...for being you...for calling me at 6:00am and making me get up and the rain.

To Tony...for knock, knock jokes and fitting in Trystan's pocket.

To Travis...for being different.

To Dana...for a different perspective. I have truly cherished the conversations that we have had and the way that you open the box and urge me to step out of it. I love you.

To Kedra...for being a fixture in my life. Though circumstances have limited our time together of late, you are my longest standing friendship. I have been here for almost 15 years and you have been my friend for 15 years...that is a blessing to a person who moved a lot and didn't have the chance to make the lifelong childhood friends.

To Ronnie...for worrying about us and for saying things like "the law"... that still makes me laugh.

To Carrol...for the time that you told me that you had prayed for God to send someone to take care of Rick and the kids. And that you knew without a doubt that person was me and that you didn't have to worry anymore because you knew I would love all of them and take care of them.

To Tracy...for calling and checking on me so often after Jacob died. I didn't feel like an outsider then...I felt like a sister.

To Rhonda...for being a person that Rick could turn to in times when the one he was supposed to be able to lean on wasn't there for him. For having the presence of mind to step back and find a new role when we were married. For realizing that as his wife, I am that safe place for him now. That I am here for him everyday, loving him, and taking care of him and our family.

To Brittney...for telling me that I am making a difference.

To my Grandpa...I really miss you. I have a picture of you that was taken about this time last year. It is one of my favorites. You are standing by our fireplace with your coat and stalking cap on because you had just come in from the cold and you have the biggest smile on your face...I just love it. I wish that I had taken more time that Sunday before you left and that I had given you a bigger hug. I remember about a week before that, after Trystan had mowed the yard, you were telling us how proud you were of all of your boys, how much they had blessed your life, and how much you would miss them. I had told you how I wish that you could go to God when you get there and ask him if you could send us a message to take away all question and fear about the unknown and you said that you would work on that...then a few weeks later, you did. I was always told how much you loved grandma and how you said that you would never leave her. That night that you left...I think you did go to God and ask him if you could send us a message that everything is true, that we have nothing to fear, and then asked him if you could bring grandma and He said yes. So you did. You didn't leave her. As a Christan, I know what God says about heaven, but as a human I fear the have taken that from me and for that and so many other things that I can't see through the tears to type, I am so thankful to you. And by the way...I am working out more now and my stomach is looking better; I tried the higher heeled shoes that you said to try and my heel doesn't hurt anymore; My face isn't breaking out like it did when it bugged you so badly, so if you have something to do with that, thanks and keep up the good work. Also, If you wouldn't mind giving Jacob or Jake, if he is already all grown up, a really really big hug for me and his dad, that would be great... Tell him that if I knew what his favorite food was that I would soooo be making it for him today.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and have a blessed day!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Part Two...Beyond Reach and Beyond Caring

The Solution…Return to Faith in God.

So close, yet so far away...or closer than we think...

Okay, so even when Jesus (God in human form) was actually in the presence of human kind and could be touched, heard, and hugged; crime and sin were still rampant. Because of the original sin that was brought about by Adam and Eve, all of us have an innate draw to making bad choices…but can we really use that as an excuse to allow the decay of morality in our youth??? In my opinion…NO. God gave us free will to CHOSE our actions and the tool with which we can make ourselves aware of what is right and wrong and how to live …the Bible.

I love how the Casting Crowns song The Word is Alive includes a message in which the speaker, Tony Nolan, summarizes the legitimacy of the bible in a way that is awesome and thought provoking…

“The Bible was inscribed over a period of 2000 years. In times of war, and in
days of peace; by kings, physicians, tax collectors, farmers, fisherman,
singers, and shepherds.

The marvel is that a library, so perfectly cohesive,
could have been produced by such a diverse crowd, over a period of time which
staggers the imagination.

Jesus is its grand subject, our good its design,
and the glory of God is its end.”

One of our friends and a great speaker/preacher, Luke Bishop, spoke at our church this past weekend and one of the things he said stuck with me…”People look at the Bible as a list of rules rather than as a list of opportunities.”

I think that this is where we, as leaders, teachers, and parents as a whole, fall short. We’re taking the easy way out. Instead of standing for those things that are true and right, we bend a little, then the next generation bends a little more, then the trend continues on and on until there is nothing but wrong remaining. And we bend when it counts…

“Oh, will it really be so bad for Jonny to miss church this one time, I mean, he
really wants to go here or do this or play this…one time won’t hurt.”

Then the next time, they remember that we gave and remind us and convince us to give again, thus perpetuating the cycle. And we give for the happiness of our children focusing, not the big picture, not with the intentions that the whole of society with take a turn for the worse…

I’m not saying that church in itself is what is important, believe me there are times when I absolutely do not feel like going, but...God is what is important. God, Family, Church…and IF God was first in our lives (mine included), wouldn’t we want our families to grow to accept God, love Him, and in turn obey His wishes…one of which is that we assemble as a body of believers to praise Him…aka…go to church.

I am also not suggesting becoming Hitler incarnate…I am a firm believer in choosing my battles and I absolutely feel that if you put a choke collar on your kids while they are yours to “train”, they are very likely to run wild when the collar comes off. But, I do think that we can reintroduce a sense of morality, truthfulness, pride, and love back into our youth’s lives by following or at least finding out what the Bible says about raising and disciplining our youth and actively applying it in our lives.

In my search to answer so many of my “Why…” questions that arose from the earlier mentioned string of events that have taken place in my family’s lives, I began researching what the Bible says about raising and disciplining children and I ran across a site where most of the work had been done for me (yeay!!)…and now I’m going to share it with you…

What does the Bible say about child discipline?

The Bible has a lot to say about child discipline, particularly in the book
of Proverbs. As early as Deuteronomy 5:16, God's will that children should honor
their parents is made clear. This command, when obeyed, is accompanied by a
promised reward: "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has
commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the
land the LORD your God is giving you."

As good parents, we know our children are a gift from God - a gift that
comes with responsibility. Our job is to raise them with righteous standards
(Psalm 127:3, Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Child discipline, then, is not about punishing
wrong behavior as much as it is about setting a course. Proverbs 22:6 says,
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from
it." Laying a good foundation is essential in raising loving, moral,
well-disciplined children.

First, let's look at what Biblical love is not:

It is not love to raise a child who lacks self-discipline and is controlled
by his or her desires, whether for attention, food, material demands and
entertainment, or seeking to gain something for nothing.

It is not love to allow a child to shrug off responsibility for his own
actions and not to accept the consequences of those actions. Nor is it love to
allow your child to manipulate, control, or justify his or her disobedience.

It is not love to carelessly or intentionally provoke anger in your
children. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in
the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

Now let's look at what Biblical love is and the proper way to train and
discipline a child:

Love is actively training and teaching our children - diligently
(Deuteronomy 6:6-7)! Put consistent and loving effort into being an active
parent, daily.

Love is providing for your children's physical needs. (2 Corinthians 12:14)

Love is applying with faithful discipline (Proverbs 23:24; 22:15; 23:13-14;
29:15; 29:17). Discipline with consistency.

Love does involve the promotion of biblical teaching to your children early
(Psalm 34:11). The best teachings are by example. Children imitate what they see
more than they do what they're told.

Follow God's pattern, as He disciplines us, for our own good (Hebrews
12:5-11). Be steadfast in correction, yet giving encouragement and praise where
it is due.

The Word of God, found in the Bible, is said to be a blueprint for life. In
it, we are given everything we need to know about being a loving and responsible
parent. Parents must realize that undisciplined children who dishonor their
parents will eventually bear heavy consequences for their dishonor and

As parents who love our children, it is our parental responsibility to
correctly raise our precious children. If we disregard our responsibility to
teach them, we are ourselves being disobedient children, dishonoring our
Heavenly Father. He loves us, as we love our children, and has entrusted us with
their care. As a parent, child discipline is your most important

I truly believe that we can be active participants in changing the path that so many of our youth are on by just employing the ideas that God presents to us in His Word.

In my experiences, I have come to know that we are watched so closely by those around us that even if we have limited interaction with youth, our actions, reactions, self presentation, and views are absorbed like liquid in a sponge by those around us. It is the behaviors that we send out that are attributed to us, remembered, and mimicked.

If someone was turning your life into a movie…what would they remember about you? How would they act out your behaviors? Would you want to watch the reenactments of yourself and your choices or would you high tail it in the opposite direction???

My answer...some days are better than others and I hope that they would see that I try daily to effect their lives in a possitive way and to push them to strive for higher ground rather than giving them more negative examples that only lead to a harder and darker road.

Just a thought… Have a Blessed Day!!