Sunday, April 22, 2018

The How To's of Parenting

I don't read "how too" books anymore, especially how to books on how to raise kids or anything to do with parenthood.

Been there, done that, didn't work the way they said it would.

I don't blame the authors of said books, but I've lived long enough to know and seen enough to realize that their kids aren't my kids.

I attended a homeschooling conference one time where a father of 8 got up to speak about raising kids. His words of advice stayed with me, I just wish I would have heeded them.

He started out explaining that when his first child was born, he was sure that just after a few years, he KNEW how to raise kids. After the second kid was born, he had to adjust a little, but still felt completely confident that he knew the best way to raise kids. Then the third and fourth came along, and more adjustments till he finally realized with numbers five and six that he didn't know anything and that by the time seven and eight rolled around he was so outnumbered, he just gave it to God and did the best he could.

He did share that after 8 children, there were as many ways to raise kids as there were kids. And because each kid is different there was no tried and true way to raise children. He did share one thing that I had heard from my very wise mother-in-law and that was every child is different, and that your job as the parent is to get to know and understand your kid. End of advice.

I just wish I had heeded them instead of reading all the stupid parenting books.

Every couple is different. Two different family dynamics come into play in a marriage, then add to the mix children from those two individuals and it's anybody's guess just what you're going to get.

Parenthood is a mystery that you have to solve. Or as I remind my daughter when she calls asking me a barrage of questions, "It's a crapshoot. Do your best and pray."

But my mother in law was right. Get to know your kids, study them, work to understand them, and then help them remember that they are unique individuals with God-given talents and gifts.

There, that's it. My parenting advice. The result of failing and succeeding as a parent.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Technology vs. books

My sister Anita shared a book with me a while back, an actual book. Not on Kindle or Nook, but an actual book with pages you turn and a spine. It had been quite awhile since I'd read an actual book. Most of my books are downloaded onto my kindle. 

This is the world we live in today, to save trees from having to be used in making paper, we have resorted to reading books on our technological devices.

It has it's perks, believe me. When Roger and I received our kindles years ago, the virtues of electronic reading devices were explained to us, and we like them so much that at Christmas this year I even bought Roger and upgraded version of the Kindle. I wrote about it here.

However, holding a book and reading it the other evening made me miss books; page turning, laying them down in an open position to come back too. The smell, the touch. Made me want to run right out and buy actual copies of many of the books I have on my shelves.

I have to admit that if I am in a used bookstore and find a book that I have on the Kindle that I especially liked, I buy it.

I've read enough doomsday material to know that when and if the end comes in my lifetime, an EMP will take out all of our technology and we will be thrust back into "the dark ages" (hardly), or as some consider them, where we will have to go back to living lives without cell phones, computers, and any and most technology. Yes, like when we were growing up if you're over a certain age. 

How in the world will we read books? That's right, the old-fashioned way.

I like my kindle app on my IPad, and I love having at my fingertips, thousands of books that I can carry with me anywhere I can take my IPad. I love being able to read at night when the only light in the room is the faint glow of my IPad. I think the Kindle and Nook, and other such devices are a blessing. But I do miss being able to share my books with folks who might not have Kindle, or Nook or whatever. In the past few months, I have read several books that I would have loved to share with others, by handing them my copy, but alas, I have no actual copy to share. 

The dilemma in that is sometimes my books don't get returned, even though there is a sticker or return address label in the front reminding the borrower just who's book it is. But when I loan a book, I know that it is a possibility that it might not get returned. Thus, it is nice to have the backup copy on my Kindle. 

For when you can take a book and place it in someone's hand, the possibility of them actually reading it increases over them just being told to look it up and read it....I'd say it seldom is followed through on.

I'll keep buying books on both my Kindle and actual books.

I love rooms with bookshelves lined with books; libraries I believe they used to be called. There is something comforting in having row upon row of books at my disposal, and I do.

I have how-to books, something that is rare these days with the invention of Google and Wikipedia. You can search the internet and get an answer to any question, you can even go to YouTube and see how it is done....but I still like my books. 

Fortunately, we don't have to make a definitive choice yet, and I'm hoping I'm long gone when that day comes because I wouldn't want to. So in the meantime, I'll have the best of both worlds.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

America's Pastor

"Andrea, Billy Graham is on channel 12."

My grandmother would call everytime a Billy Graham crusade was televised in our area reminding my mother and me to watch it.....and ultimately hoping and praying for my salvation.

I did hear Billy Graham preach in person. In 1972 at the Cotton Bowl in Denton TX. at Expo '72. He was everything you can imagine him. Yet, all you saw and heard was how much God and Jesus loved you and wanted you to come to a personal relationship with Him.

Billy Graham died today.

America's pastor, they called him.

My first thought was the verse in 1 Samuel 25:1
"Then Samuel died, and all the Israelites gathered together to mourn him,
 and buried him at his home in Ramah."  

We may not gather together physically as a nation, but emotionally and spiritually we will gather in heart and mind and spirit and mourn a great man of God.

I likened him to the great men of God in Scripture. A disciple who did exactly what Jesus told them to do in Mark 16:15,

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." 

The simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: 

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him." John 3:16-17 

He stressed over and over that God loved us and if we would turn from our sins and come to Him, He forgives and saves. 

 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." - Acts 16:31 

"Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" -- Matt 3:2

Somewhere along the way we have minimized the idea that God loves us so much that Jesus, His only son, died for us. Think about it. Has anyone ever stood in your place for anything? Notch it up and realize Christ died for YOU--for you. He loves you that much. 

This past week 17 individuals died in a school shooting in Florida. One of the teachers literally threw himself in front of the shooter and took several bullets to keep kids from getting shot. He died. That's what Jesus did. He died in our place. What a perfect example...

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." --John 15:13 

Help us Lord, to realize the love of Almighty God -- whose love endures forever-- our compassionate and merciful God. Help us to love you like that.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Googling for Spiritual Answers.

I have wondered all my life why I am the way I am; judgemental, hypercritical, unkind, phoney-what is it that makes me this way exactly. Moreover, for having professed Christianity for the largest portion of my life - why can't I change, be delivered from this sin that so easily besets me?

One day while I was making our bed, and bitching and bellyaching to no one in particular, AGAIN, about my husband and kids, etc. It hit me. I sat down on the edge of the bed and googled the question "Why am I so critical and judgemental?"

The top link lead to a page from Psychology Today about being this way because you have been raised in a hypercritical environment. As I read on, it described me to a tee. (This also makes me think that there must be a LOT of other's out there that struggled with this).

The term hypercritical environment was something I had to do more digging into, and when I did, it was also spot on.

When a child grows up in an overly critical environment it can have a damaging effect on their psyche. Overly critical parents may feel like they are just driving their children to do their best, but realistically, critical behavior leads to a negative family dynamic. It has an effect on everything from a child's creativity level to her self-esteem. 

Under this were the subheadings: Perfectionism, Anxiety, Unconditional Love, Self Esteem, 

This creates a family dynamic in which the child is expected to perform at unrealistic levels. Psychology Today outlines the issues that come along with seeking perfectionism. The article, "Pitfalls of Perfectionism," says that perfectionism decreases creativity, innovation, and a child's desire to take risks. A child who is raised with overly critical parents is afraid to fail and disappoint her parents. According to Psychology Today, the unattainable expectations put on a child by overly critical parents serves only to increase her negative inner dialogue.

According to the site Children with Anxiety, a child needs a loving, calming environment when dealing with anxiety issues. Overly critical parents only serve to increase the stress and anxiety within a child. The site says a child can develop depression, or even mental illness if anxiety issues are not dealt with in a healthy manner. A child who has anxiety issues needs parental guidance that does not include stressful criticism, and second-guessing of every move he makes. Children with Anxiety points out that dealing with anxiety is a family issue, not just the child's issue.

Unconditional Love: 
Hypercritical parenting can result in a child feeling she has to earn her parents' love. Dr. Benzion Sorotzkin, psychotherapist, says a child with overly critical parents grows up feeling she has to achieve enough in order to earn the love of her parents. Due to the negative nature of a critical family environment, the child feels she does not receive unconditional love. Sorotzkin explains, in a healthy home a child knows they are loved, even when they do not meet her parents' standards. She knows love is not tied to achievement. In hypercritical households, a child grows up feeling parental love is something that is dangling like a carrot on a string, and until she does enough to earn it, she is not loved. Sorotzkin says this leads to later issues with self-esteem, negative parental relationships and perfectionism.

Self Esteem: 
Children develop self-esteem as they grow and learn to value themselves. According to Kids Health, a child who lives in an overly critical environment internalizes the critical dialogue she hears from her parents. This lowers self-esteem and can lead to depression, says Kids Health. The children's health site advises parents to be supportive and nurturing with children. A child who learns to love and accept herself even when she fails, will develop healthy self-esteem. A child needs to see from her parents that even when she is not perfect, she is worthy and loved. This will help her believe in herself and increase her self-esteem. 

Having grown up in this kind of a household was the insight into all my issues of being so incredibly critical. 
I had lived my entire life in such an environment. The problem was, I lived with a man who had not. Actually, that wasn't a problem, it was a huge blessing. But how to change, how to come out of years, a lifetime of this was hard to figure out. 

I Googled again. I don't remember the question that I asked "the box of knowledge" as Audrey calls it, but out of all the information that it came up with, only one had a spiritual answer and that was what I was looking for. Basically, I was looking for how to balance what I had growing up with what I professed to be and with the God I believe in. I found the perfect answer. 

You can read it here  

But the jest of it was that by focusing on the faults and fallacies of other people, you negate the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Just like that I was shown what my years and life of criticizing others was a direct slap in God's face at my lack of faith in Him to change, deliver, restore and redeem people. 

Where was my faith in the God I believed in. 

About this time I also started reading a book by Anne Graham Lotz called the Daniel Prayer, which I will write more on later, but suffice to say the combination of the questions and the book, my life and outlook has changed drastically. 

Don't ever be afraid to dig. And if you use the internet and Google, and pray before you do it, I won't doubt that God will lead you to exactly where he wants you to be.   

I had prayed about this problem and God answered by leading me to what he wanted me to know. He is still leading.... I'm so thankful. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Happy Birthday Aunt Lois!!

Yesterday we celebrated my Aunt's 90th birthday. I told Rog that as I hugged her neck and stood there talking to her. I was amazed at how beautiful her skin was, and how vibrant and alive she was, yet as I looked into her eyes, I say a tiredness, a weariness, much like I saw in the eye's of my mother as grew older was an indicator to me that those eyes have seen more than maybe they have wanted to see. 
My aunt is in wonderful health. She doesn't take any medication; none. She takes vitamins, and eats right and has the constitution of a mule when it come to tenacity of spirit to keep going and never giving up. 
She has raised four children , lived with an alcoholic husband, who for the last 50 some years of their 60 some years of marriage was clean and sober. She has worked all her life; still does, and has just now put in her notice, at 90 years of age. 
She is my mother's youngest sibling and out of the seven children she is the last who is still living. We are thrilled to have her here. 
Several years back, but a year after my mother had passed, I called her to tell her the troubling news of my kids, divorce and an out of wedlock pregnancy. Things that were troubling to me, that I was sure had my own mother been alive I would have been read the riot act of what had I done wrong. were by my aunt's response after listening to me was simply this; "Well, thank goodness everyone is well and healthy." Something that had completely escaped my notice in the midst of it all. A few years later those words of hers held even more impact when my great nephews were both diagnosed with cancer. 
Her perspective on life while living through an alcoholic spouse, divorcing children, a son who had virtually abandoned his parents and siblings when he joined a religious order, had not turned my aunt into a bitter angry woman. It had turned her into someone who saw the glass half full. No one demonstrated the unconditional love and grace of Jesus Christ more clearly than my Aunt Lois. She NEVER stopped loving, forgiving, showing mercy, and grace. Accepting and embracing any and all just seemed to come so easy for her. She maintained her busy social schedule all the days of her life. She worked till she was 90 years old. She was an active member of her church, and sorority, Eastern Star, and family. She made positive choices and it seemed she always came out smiling, even when you knew there had to be a new crack in her heart; she never let it show. Yet, yesterday, I saw the weariness of it all coming to bear in her eyes. 
She is still traveling, and seeing kids, grands, and great grands, and still part of her church, sorority, and Eastern Star and mostly her family. If there is a weariness, a tiredness, she doesn't let it show. She keeps her head up and she keeps moving forward. 
When I teased her yesterday about doing this again in 10 years, her response with a smile and nod was "By the grace of God." She knows from where her help comes... 
Happy Birthday Aunt Lois.