Parenting Series: Fifty Things I Want My Child To Know About Life

To my children entering the world of adulthood –  I recently wondered what I haven’t taught you.  So here’s my non-exhaustive list of things I want you to know. 

fifty things I want to my child to know about life.

  1. Be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove {Matthew 10:16}. Use common sense when dealing with people, institutions, and situations.  When in doubt, trust your gut.
  2. Don’t use a Pampered Chef stone on an open flame. It will break.
  3. Cleaning up after yourself right away will save you a lot of dread of doing bigger jobs later.
  4. Don’t give out your personal information to anyone unless you need to for business, professional, or personal reasons.
  5. Disable the GPS tracking on your smartphone when you finally can afford one on your own since we have deprived you of this luxury.
  6. Be kind to everyone but you don’t have to be their friend if they are not healthy or appropriate to be in a relationship with you.
  7. You can buy potatoes, beans, corn and tomatoes in a store. Not everyone has a garden.
  8. Pay your bills on time and don’t carry credit card debt.
  9. Watch for hidden fees in business transactions. You don’t need “all the extras.”
  10. If it’s too good to be true, it is. Unless it’s answer to a specific prayer and you’ve checked it out with God first.
  11. Pray every day and be in God’s word as often as you can.
  12. Consult with God about your daily decisions.
  13. If it doesn’t feel right, wait, or don’t do it.
  14. Don’t buy meat from Walmart.
  15. First impressions really do matter.
  16. Budget for your necessities first and make sure you can pay for them. Get necessary debt paid off as soon as possible.
  17. Stay away from people with bad pick-up lines.  Or good pick-up lines unless you want to have sex with them.
  18. Don’t have sex with anyone with consulting God first. He does have something to say about it. If you’re serious about your relationship with Him, you can’t ignore this area.
  19. Open the door for others.
  20. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  21. Don’t take stupid risks. Have common sense {see #1)
  22. Build relationships with your siblings. You have relationships with them for life. See them as adults, not as who they were as kids. Don’t hold grudges.
  23. Find a church you feel comfortable in, but don’t stay away until you find “the right one.”
  24. Keep in touch with your grandparents.
  25. Don’t say display anything on Twitter or Facebook you wouldn’t want a future boss, spouse, or mother-in-law to see.
  26. Don’t throw credit card receipts or statements with personal information in the trash no matter where you live.
  27. Don’t get into a car with a stranger.
  28. If you can’t find a job, McDonalds is always hiring.
  29. Marriage is hard work. Don’t think you can change anybody but yourself.
  30. Extend grace to others.
  31. Don’t judge people who were not raised like you.
  32. Don’t expect your future spouse to be like me or your dad. 
  33. Earn your way in life but give to others and graciously receive when something is given to you.
  34. Air-dry any clothes you don’t want to shrink or look worn.
  35. Clothes pins can be found at a hardware store.
  36. You can’t microwave anything with metal.
  37. You need to brown a roast before putting it in the oven or crockpot.
  38. Kids are cute but don’t have them before you are ready to give up your time and energy to someone else.
  39. Worship God no matter what the circumstance.
  40. Cheap food is not always the healthiest.
  41. You need life insurance, car insurance, and renter’s or home-owner’s insurance.
  42. Be cautious when walking in dark hallways. Park under lights in a parking lot at night.
  43. Be generous with kind words as long as they are genuine.
  44. Don’t order things from TV advertisements.
  45. Cheap is not always better.
  46. Expensive is not always quality.
  47. Go to a doctor when you think you need to.
  48. You can learn to do just about anything. Most of what your dad and I know we didn’t know when we were your age.
  49. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  50. Your way is not the only way.

That’s all for now. I love you,

Mom

Parenting Series: Raising Kids is Not So Easy

MP900227797Raising kids is not so easy. Teaching kids to respect each other is a lifelong process.  How siblings treat each other is crucial to the health of a family and a child’s individual development.  It’s tempting to ignore it when siblings hurt one another or don’t get along.

But you can’t. 

There’s not an easy answer to the problem because children have unique differences.  They go through ages and stages.  They each have their own perspective on things.

Sometimes I want to just relish in the happy family times and ignore the underlying things that brew. Doing this would be negligent. Isaac {Genesis 25} didn’t correctly deal with his sons Jacob and Esau and that didn’t turn out so well.  Teaching children how to navigate through sibling relationships is a skill they can use in other relationships in life.  

Parenting is difficult. There are times, even as an experienced counselor, I sit on my child’s bed thinking, “I don’t know how to help this situation.”  I’m thankful prayer is an ever-present resource as a parent. I can’t always help a situation or change another person’s perspective or heart, but God can.

This week has been one of “those” weeks.  A week full of family highs and lows.  Do you have weeks like that?  Weeks where you glow in the goodness of family life and then want to pull your hair out at the reality of it all – sibling rivalry, fighting, teenage melt-downs and hormones. 

At least that’s how some family days roll at our house.

As a professional writer, speaker, educator and counselor, I interact heavily in social media.  Sometimes I internally rollMP900382671 my eyes at easy “how-to” articles on parenting even though SEO data says it’s the best way to get readers. I’ve probably written some of those because a social media expert told me to.

I apologize.

There’s nothing “easy” about parenting.  

That statement won’t get me invited on the Today Show.  But I’m still raising my kids. Some days, it’s exhausting. 

How about you?  How do you impact your child’s relationships with their siblings?  What are the  stresses you experience and things you’ve found helpful?  I’d love to hear your thoughts today because I hope I’m not alone.

Father, give each of us wisdom for the journey of parenting.  Give us the words and counsel as we minister to our families. Amen.

Saying Good-bye and the Power of the Mundane

photo flowersI’m sitting on my porch swing taking in the day I hope will never end.  The sun is on its way down to slip behind the trees in an hour or two.  The flowers are bright around me and a breeze is on my cheek.  The birds are singing,  the cattle are walking to a cool place for shade.  Another Sunday gone, another week comes to an end. So predictable yet so different. 
                            This week my oldest son is graduating.  Up until now things have been routine.  Days have been predictable like every season we’ve walked through.  Today as he shared in church, he reminisced on things that have influenced him…...Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, the support he and his classmates have received in being part of a faith community.
                          “Being in a small town, there’s accountability. Because if you mess up, everyone knows,” he said.  A doubled edged-sword in ways.  My son declared it instrumental in helping him make choices growing up.  There’s value in everyone knowing your name.
                            Today’s not quite the same as I sit on my front porch rocking to the low bellows of the hungry cows.  In the routine of photo (87)life, somewhere my boy became a man. A man who has surrounded himself with friends who hold him accountable.  A man who has chosen to love God not because we said so, but because he has learned of His grace, faithfulness, and unconditional love.  A man who began walking out of my life years ago as I realized I needed to release him to be the leader God has called Him to be.
This week we will celebrate, say good-bye, and let go.
                                 Every mother releasing her son knows its different than releasing a daughter. Somewhere along the way your role changes as you step aside to let him grow and figure out who he is.  There are times to step back so he can develop strength.  Times where you have to be strong and push him into the storm so he can figure out how to survive, all the while watching with a life raft ready at a moment’s notice.  Times where you must step back and let his father instruct and discipline.  Times where you still touch his cheek with a kiss because he is still a little boy inside a man-size body.  Times where the best words are, “I’m proud of you.”
                               This boy has been a big brother, his sister’s best friend, and a son who has held me accountable when my actions or words did not match what I believed. He has been the voice of reason when needed.  In the ordinary and routine moments, he has grown into a man who is ready for the next step.
                        I believe raising kids for moments like these lie in the mundane and routine, in the moments we live when we think no one is watching.  One thing this child and I know how to do is forgive, trust, and give second chances. Important moments for us have included the words, ” Will you forgive me?”
                               I have two more boys to raise in mundane moments.  Six years from now, sitting on my porch swing, I will be saying good-bye to my last knight in the household.  I’m reminded to not rush these days on or to close my eyes to what is ahead.  Each child God gives us is one to be fully seen and known.  They are kings and queens in the making, not for our glory, but for His.
                        I’ll shed lots of tears this week along with other moms and dads celebrating the milestone of graduation.  I’m thankful for each tear of joy, sorrow, and sadness along the way.  Each one a part of the process of releasing a child to fly, lead, and grow.
                        Don’t miss the moments each day.  Let the wind blow on your cheek as the sun slips beyond the horizon. Read a book, sing a song.  Let your boy dazzle you with his charm or your girl snuggle in your arms. Shed a tear, laugh out love, and kiss a cheek.
 photo (86)
And let the mundane and routine bring blessing when the last goodbye is said.

Parenting Series: Things I’d Do Over in Raising Girls

I’m posting at Parents Space today one of my most popular posts on raising girls.

If you’ve been reading the blog the last week, you know the challenges and journey I’ve had in raising my girl.

Here is a simple list of things I’d do again in raising a girl and things I’d do different.

Join me at Parents Space
Join me at Parents Space

Read about it here at Parents Space.

Have a great day!

Brenda

I’m A Fighter. Why Fighting For What’s Important Is Worth It All

photo (87)Thank you to those who read Kaylee’s inspiring story, “Loving the Kids“.  Her words were a gift because we’ve seen the depth of her journey. Like her dad, she’s not one to put herself out there.  I honor her words because it’s a testimony to her love of Christ and willingness to go outside her comfort zone for a greater cause, wanting others to see the orphans she’s fallen in love with. I encourage you to look onto sponsoring a child a Hope of Life International by clicking here.

If you read the prelude to her story, you’ve witnesses a mother’s journey in letting a child go.  A process with much depth, sorrow, and scars behind it.

Each of us have battle wounds, my daughter and I.

I hold back from sharing our journey where the conversation between me and you is anonymous.  It’s an intimate, personal story.  It’s my story. My daughter has her story.  Both of us are Jesus’ story.

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (NKJV Genesis 50:20)

*****

When my little girl came into the world, like your firstborn, she was all I dreamed of.  Smiling young doctor holding a beautiful newborn baby.But God doesn’t prepare us for the challenges of parenting, the things in our children that bring out the worst in us.  God gave me a beautiful daughter with passion, a strong will, an internal sense of right and wrong, and wisdom in many ways.

All the things that reek havoc in a toddler and teenage body.

Do you have a child like that?

Even if you’re not a parent, you have relationships that challenge you. How do you handle them?  Do you may shrink back, run and flee, or stay and fight?

I’m a fighter.

So is she.

The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

I did the best I could as a first-time parent in moments that took me by surprise. Moments where both of our wills went to head to head.  Christian parenting books didn’t tell me what to do with a passionate, temperamental child. Oh, I read the books {The Strong-Willed Child}.  We even taught the parenting classes {3x}.  But “the right formula” didn’t work for our situation.

Hilly RoadAnd the battled raged on.

As we walked, climbed, fought, got up and walked, climbed, fought again, God worked in us and through us.

I’m convinced there’s nothing separating me from the worst behavior on earth, except for the grace of God and the love I have for him. 

I am a selfish creature. Are you?

When anger, bitterness, pride, insecurities, and “my rights” rule in my heart, I become a fighter that can destroy myself and relationships.

But when I choose to let the Lord of the universe change me

He trades these ugly things for His character:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22)

As a woman, I’ve walked a journey that’s challenged everything I thought I knew about life, God, parenting, relationships, and the picket-fence life I dreamed of.

Things aren't what we expect them to be.
Things aren’t what we expect them to be.

Do you have expectations of life that have been shattered?

When the bottom fell out of my life and my family, I was faced with one choice.  Choose to change or let my anger and bitterness destroy our family, my relationship with my daughter, and the hope and future God had planned for us.

A future taking His child to a mountain where she kisses His children’s tears.

A future where she runs to her Father for her identity and security.

*******

It’s easy to fight when it comes naturally.

MP900405622

But it’s hard when you’re fighting to change destructive behavior and trying to hold on to what’s most important in life.

 Family, relationships and your character.

Are there behaviors you need to change that are impacting your health and the relationships around you?

There is hope.

Hope for our relationship came when I realized I couldn’t change her or anyone else in the equation.  I could only change myself and what I could control.

I’m a fighter, so I fought for change.

I’m passionate, so I ran after God, declaring God’s work and presence I believe He promises in His word.

I’m strong, so I pushed through the guilt, shame, insecurities, worry, and judgment I wanted to run from.

Qualities the enemy meant for destruction, but God meant for good.

It was worth it all.  

I’m redeemed by a God who knows the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still loves me.

I’m restored in relationships with my daughter and family. My sons know Jesus is real because they’ve seen two lives transformed before their eyes.

I’m a sinner saved by grace.

That’s really all I know.

*******

Each of us have battle wounds of some sort. 

We can take those battle wounds and submit them to the work of the Living God.  Or we can pick at the scars, preventing them from fully healing, keeping them alive and well so the pain never goes away.

How are you taking care of your wounds today?  Are you choosing to let God heal them, or do you continue to let them fester and deprive your soul of peace?

It’d be my privilege to pray for you, no matter what your wound, no matter what you’re needing to fight to over come, not matter what relationship that needs to be restored.  Email me at yoderbl@gmail.com. It would be my honor to bring you before the throne of God in prayer as your prayer warrior.

Thank you for listening, for reading, for sharing part of our journey.  I share my full “Hope Beyond the Picket Fence” story of hope and restoration with audiences throughout the Midwest.  It would be my privilege to share it with your women’s group, mom’s group, or church group to bring encouragement in areas that people are afraid and shamed to talk about. Email me at yoderbl@gmail.com if you would like more information.

Dear Jesus, that you for  your love, your grace, the hope that you give us in our weaknesses and failures. Thank you that you are the hope we have for change in areas we need to change.  Thank you that you created everything about us and you have the capacity to turn our weaknesses to strengths for your honor and glory.  Thank you for the restorative work you do in our lives, and that your mercies are new every morning.

We love you, Lord Jesus, our redeemer and friend. Amen.

Why Raising Children Is Really About Letting Go

Today I’m posting an article at Not Alone Mom on the process of releasing our children.  Last year at this time, I wrote the following post as my daughter came home from college only to turn around to leave for Guatemala for the summer. I knew in my heart it would be a life-changing experience for her.  A deal-maker or a deal-breaker for this girl who told me since she was 17 that she was called to be a missionary.

releasing and letting goKaylee went on a mission trip to Mexico her Junior year in high school.  She spent Christmas Day of 2008 in an orphanage. In scholarship applications she wrote her senior year, she explained her passion to work with children in orphanages.  She devoured biographies of missionaries, beginning with Jim Elliot, who impacted her life.

Much to my dismay, I realized she was serious, God was serious, and I needed to let go of the plans I had for my firstborn, because He has a call on her life.

I’ve asked her to share her experience in my Inspiring Stories series I will post this weekend. I knew when I put my girl on the plane last May, she wouldn’t return the same. It’s true.  She returned to Zacapa in Decemeber and more than likely will be returning for three months next spring for her internship.  Please join me tomorrow morning as I post her story, “Loving the Kids.” 

In the meantime, here’s my story from last May, from a mom’s perspective, reposted from my former blog.

Good-bye is a Four Letter Word

Just in time to say good-bye.  

That’s how much time we’ll have, my daughter and I, as she returns from college this week only to turn back around to leave for Guatemala for the summer.

I’m ready to come home but not ready to say good-bye” she said in a conversation last week.  Those words have weight in them.  She doesn’t like good-byes. Making the good-bye transition with children is a process that never ends. I’m learning, though, when we keep our hands too tightly on our children, we don’t allow them to grow in the ways God desires.

God began teaching me this two years ago when my daughter was considering going to a college three states away.  “Seriously?” I thought.  She has been accepted to a good school here in Indiana. “You don’t know what you’re talking about” is what her wise mom thought.  And just as audible as I could hear, the Lord said to my spirit, “I want to work in her life, but you’re standing in the way.  Back off.In that moment, I knew God was speaking to my daughter, and she was hearing Him. I also knew if she was called to the mission field like she’d been suggesting, going to a school far away would be a stepping stone for her and us.

Why does God have to plan so good?

So, our heart-wrenching-good-bye at the school over the mountain where she knew no one was just a stepping step, the first step, in releasing her to the life God has called her to.

releasing and letting go of childrenStep two of saying good-bye as she’s going to the mountains of Guatemala is equally as challenging. This time, good-bye is another step in a longer good-bye that may, someday, be for good.

With each good-bye, as I watch my child’s faith grow, my own faith has been immeasurably stretched.

How can I argue with a child who’s allowed the King to capture her heart? How can I argue with God about His will for my daughter?

Releasing to let go.  Not easy, but essential.

Yet being mindful of my cousin who lost her own daughter serving in full-time ministry.  The Lord called her home at age 34 just a few months ago. A good-bye never expected.

“I’m ready to come home, but not ready to leave.”

That just about sums up this thing called Life. Longing to be with him, but not quite ready to leave her.

Whatever your good-byes may be this week, may we all rest in the comfort of our Lord and Savior.  Clinging to the good, releasing the rest for His glory.

Please find out the rest of the story, Kaylee’s inspiring story, tomorrow, here at Life Beyond the Picket Fence

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gap, The Holes, and the Race to Fill Them

boredomShe sat there with a batting glove on her hand.  It gave her power in the identity she’s forming.  She’s a fighter.  Inside is a girl who wants to be something else.  I see it in the way she cocks her head and the way her eyes get big when her heart softens.

He sat there saying he didn’t do it when the evidence said different. His mom was angry, again, out of frustration with her son who doesn’t think the way the rest of us do.  Another adult was exasperated because he couldn’t understand him either.  I saw I young man who doesn’t understand himself.  And we all sat, frustrated at a mental illness that can’t be ignored.

She sat rattling off the fun she was going to have with her dad who was getting out of jail.  They were going to the racetrack over the weekend because they would finally all be together.  She had a smile on her face and her hard-core demeanor had a softened glow about it.  Her dad was coming home.

He walked down the hallway swearing and texting.  His anger was too far-gone.   Mamma gave up on him long ago and he is free and loose to do as he pleases.  His  heart is soft, but the hunger for relationship and anger at the lack of it has hardened him.  He’s given up on himself because others gave up on him years earlier.  It’s only a matter of time before he self-destructs.

These stories live behind the eyes of a child.

Stories with gaps so large anything will fill it.

Anger, fear, blame.

We try to fix it, but some days it feels like

we’re dumping sand into a sink hole

and there’s no end in sight.

MP900402910But each day I pick up a shovel,

fill it with compassion,

the Truth of God, and encouragement

and pour it into the holes.

Hoping it will fill a gap somewhere.

Having faith that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it. (Phil 1:6)

Having faith that one man plants, another man waters, but God makes it grow. (1 Corinthians 3:7)

Trusting that God will fill in the gaps.

Who are you pouring into that needs to be brought before the throne of God?

The Parenting Series:The Simple Question and the Not-So-Easy-Answer

Last week my son came to me with a simple question.

Mom, are you busy?”MP900438778

I groaned inside because I knew the answer.  The right answer was “No. ” The wrong answer, which was inside my head, said “I really don’t want to stop what I’m doing.”

Luckily, my mouth came up with the right answer.

“No, what do you need?”

Would you play this with me?”  I looked in the hand of my sixth-grader.  He was holding a home-made board game on Carnegie he made for a school assignment.

“Sure” I said, though I silently rebelled.

Playing games is on my most-despised-mom-duty-list.

We sat on our living room floor that Saturday afternoon and in ten minutes, we successfully completed the game while learning about the life of Carnegie.  My son was happy, with a wide, content smile when we were done.  He resumed doing whatever he does in the Man-Cave with his brothers, and I returned to things a blogging/working mom does on Saturdays.

I felt guilty for being selfish with my time, but I knew ten minutes playing the Carnegie game was the most important use of my time for the week.  I cherished the time in my heart because there aren’t too many times when kids ask if I’m “not busy” these days in a house of teenage boys.   I thought back to days, not too long ago, when I was too busy for just about everything.  When the need came to spend unscheduled time with a child, I used to calculate in my head the cost of putting them off or stopping and engaging with them.   My heart usually overruled my head, resulting in precious, irreplaceable time with my kids.

A bedtime storyAs my son walked away, I longed for more time to spend with each my kids…..time snuggled in a rocking chair with three of them in my lap reading Mike Mulligan and the Steamshovel or singing “Trust and Obey.”  My heart yearned for my daughter to bring me cups of tea she imaginably made or for my sons to pour seed corn in my lap while they “unloaded the bins” with toy John Deere tractors.  Even now, the tears fall from my cheeks as I ponder these things in my heart.  I’m thankful I gave the right answer to the monumental question, “Are you busy?”

A friend and I were recently talking about many moms that seem to struggle with being content with where they are with little ones under their feet.  I remember being there.  I remember wondering if I’d ever have a thought or moment of my own or if I would ever have time where there wasn’t someone demanding my energy and time.

Now, when the rare moment comes when a child asks or calls, “Mom, are you busy?,”  I rush at the chance to be fully present with my not-so-little-little-ones. 

If I could say one word to young, harried, stretched-to-the-limit moms, it would be to seek God’s peace and contentment in the season you are in.  While the world might seem to be passing you by, it’s not.  And even if it is, your children will pass by even faster.  Once they are self-sufficient and their world revolves around their peers, you will long for just a wisp of their presence and a five-minute conversation to hear their voice.  You will yearn for time with them where you can be fully present.

God granted me ten minutes to learn about Carnegie and also affirm the time and effort my son put into his project.  We talked about other things in the process, and his fill for Mom-time was done.   But later that night, when the other two boys were in bed, I opened their doors, sat beside them in the dark, and asked if I could pray with them.

They said “Sure,” so I put my hand on their strong, manly-arms and prayed while they laid in the beds next to the picture of their girlfriends on the nightstand.   I took a chance, leaned over to kiss their heads, and felt my heart flutter as they said, “Good –night Mom” as I walked out the door.

Ten minutes was all it took, but my heart was filled as I hope was theirs.

Because our kids – whether two, twelve, or twenty, need us to be fully theirs for a few moments in time.

Dear Lord, thank you for each moment you give us.  Thank you for the seasons and stages we have with our children.  Please equip each of us as moms to stop, look, and listen to our children. Help us to not be busy when we need to be present with them.  Stretch our time, soften our hearts, and let us see our kids as you do.  Thank you for the moments you give us – help us not to miss the most important opportunities be you to our kids.

Where do you need to give one of your kids just ten minutes of your time?

Why The Breakfast Club is Still Relevant Today

CB100664When I taught high school Sociology, we studied stereotypes and social groups via the movie “The Breakfast Club.”  As I’m watching it at home tonight, I realize the movie’s content may be even more accurate in today’s high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools than it was thirty years ago.

As a present elementary/middle school counselor and former high school teacher, I’m concerned more and more about children, families, and what’s happening in society.  It’s not about bombings or shootings, but our ability to face life, adversity, pain and fear.  Recently, a shooter threatened to attack five schools in our local area on a particular day.  On that day, more than half of the students were kept at home due to fear. The day went without a hitch, the threat was not realized, and strategic safety measures were put in place.

The same day, two bombings occurred in Boston.

The irony? More and more children are not safe in their own homes.  Violence and sex are in video games, apps on tablets and phones.  Sexual harassment, cyberbullying, dating violence is occurring at younger ages in schools.  Drugs, addictions, and self-medication is increasing in our families.  Kids’ reading levels are low not because schools aren’t teaching them, but because it’s a rare thing that someone at home is reading to them.  Children stay up late using technology in their rooms when parents think they’re asleep.  In a recent poll I did of 5th graders, 3/4 of the classroom admitted they are on Ipods, smartphones or tablets when their parents think they’re sleeping.

Do you know what your kids and grandkids are watching and who they’re interacting with?

Danger doesn’t lurk at finish lines or at the hands of a random gunman…but in our homes, in society and in hearts left unguarded.

Recently I read an article titled “Why Social Media is Better Than Your Granny.”  It was the morning after the Boston bombings.  I read it before starting my day as a counseling professional in a large urban school.  I was stunned by the comment in this article that “Grannies don’t live forever…” but social media does.  Feel free to read the article.  This was the response I posted:

I’m a teacher and counselor in today’s schools, both rural and urban, and also am a behavioral professional. While kids benefit from technology, nothing replaces relationship for them in their development. Today’s kids lack human interaction because they are exposed and reliant on technology too early in life. It effects their social, academic and emotional development. Human nature doesn’t change over time and nothing replaces the power and influence of relational people in our lives and the lives of children.Four Hands Joined Together
“Grannies don’t live forever”…. Everyday I see the power of human connection and inter-generational connection that fills gaps in the souls of people. Call me a fool, but at the end of human life – our own or our grandparent’s, who will be standing there? What will we be remembering? Will we wish we spent more time with someone who loves us in our worst days or for our best online behavior? What will you tell your child when your mom dies? Perhaps you haven’t encountered this yet. Perhaps you don’t sit with kids experiencing grief over grandparents who they know love them and nurture them more than their own parents. Hashtags don’t answer the questions or fill the voids.

A narcissistic society feels good from social media because it feeds self-absorption. Today’s kids are craving nurture and attention from the people in their lives. The power of encouragement by people they have genuine relationships is what they want. A majority of today’s kids are raised by grandparents. Why? Their parents are either self-destructive or self-medicated and they leave their children to the care of their parents. They are more invested in their online presence than their physical and emotional presence with their kids. Have a child tell you their mom spent money on herself instead of buying birthday gifts for them. Have a grandma tell you in tears she is the only stable thing in a child’s life. Then tell me that granny doesn’t matter….that Twitter will fill that child’s soul.

When purchased Twitter followers and FB friends fail to engage or respond, Grandma will always be there. I’d rather have Grandma.

Why does The Breakfast Club still speak so loudly?  Because it displays the complexity of relationships, the power of human connection, connectedness, and community.  In a world of bombings, shootings, Twitter, Apps, and Facetime, the power of human connection still trumps all.

It’s been a rough week in America, in our schools, and as a counseling professional. But a colleague of mine shared this video which shows the power of human connection far beyond social media.  Click the link below to watch.

The Power of Human Connection

Where have you seen the power of human connection this week?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

PS…Those of you who are “prayers,” pray for me Saturday as I speak to women for a retreat in Zionsville, IN. Thank you!

In His love,

Brenda

March Madness and MVP’s: It’s All in the Assists

It’s March Madness and I’m a Hoosier.  Every stereotype about Hoosier Hysteria lives in my hometown, in my own house.  I married Mr.  MVP, who comes from a family of basketball MVPs.  My babygirl received a basketball hoop for her first birthday.  No pressure.  My oldest two sons are shooting hoops these days.  And making assists.
leather basketball isolated on a white background

For those of you not-so-basketball-savy, an assist is a pass a player makes to the scoring shooter.  The shooter gets the glory.  The person assisting gets – a tallymark.

As a basketball mom, I’ve seen my kids learn a lot from the sport.  They’ve learned hard work and perseverance.  They’re not the leading scorer.  Recently, I watched one of them make several assists.   As I watched Junior pass the ball off to another teammate who scored, I was reminded he’s learning a valuable life skill.  A life skill I need to be reminded of, too.

In any sphere of life, there’s competition, envy, and longings.  We all dream of making that “winning shot” in our little corner of the world.  Even if we don’t want to be top-dog, it’s natural to desire recognition, achievement, success.

Making that winning shot and hearing the crowd roar = euphoria

But Michael Jordan, most of us are not.  Most of us aren’t the CEO, top salesperson, Teacher of the Year, or winner on The Voice.   Most of us assist those who reach the headlines or receive the yearly bonus.

After watching years of basketball, I’ve observed players making assists are selfless in the act.  Many of them have a perfect shot to make, but they pass it off, giving other players an opportunity not only to score for the team, but to put themselves on the boards.  To receive recognition.  To succeed.

God calls this act humility.

Definitions of humility include (dictionary.com)

  • not proud or arrogant; modest
  • having a feeling of insignificance
  • low in rank, importance, status
  • courteously, respectful

I’m challenged as I watch high school players pass off the ball to the star shooter.   I’m a sucker for the underdog.  I want that guy to shoot when he’s got a good shot.  But when I see him pass it off to a better player?  I see character.  I see selflessness.  I see humility.

I want that.  I’m never going to dominate the basketball court, but I can learn to assist in the areas where God has placed me.   Does is matter if I get the credit for an idea I originated?  How can I serve the leaders around me so they can excel in the areas God has gifted them?  How can I make the “teams” I am a part of a success?  Do I “pass off” tasks I do well so others can learn and grow, including my kids and husband?  Do I give others an opportunity to succeed?

These are challenging questions.  Christ calls this servanthood.  While it’s not natural for us to pass the ball off, submitting to His Spirit makes it easier, even desirable.

He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30  (NASV)

Where do you need for Him increase so you can serve and assist those around you?   Where do you rank in assisting others.  Is it easy for you to pass the success to others, or do you struggle with wanting to score big?  

It’s satisfying to watch plays happen, with players passing the ball to each other so the best player can make the strategic shot.  The managers keep track of contributions each player makes to the effort.   Basketball Team in HuddleThose tally marks speak loudly at the end of the season.    Often the tally marks make the Most Valuable Player the best all-around team member, not the best shooter.

I’m thankful that’s how God is, too.  He doesn’t just reward the most successful.   When no one else sees, He does, keeping tally of each act of service, each assist.  His rewards are eternal, reminding us we are building treasures in Heaven.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”  Matthew 6:21-22 (NIV)

In the end, I’d rather be God’s MVP.

As long as I get a really, really big trophy.

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(how about you?)

PS – If your reading this before Monday, March 25, 8:00 AM EST, you can still enter the giveaway for Hannah’s Prayer by Kenneth Gividend.  Click here for more information.