Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Be-attitudes for Building Healthy Friendships

Friendships-count on me by Ares Nyguen
Flickr.com_photos/rsnguyen/8884956545_CC BY-ND 2.0
"Jonathan said to David, 'Go in peace. We have promised by the Lord that we will be friends...'" 1 Samuel 20:42a (ICB)

If you're joining us here from the Christian Children's Authors blog, welcome!

Helping our children build healthy friendships amidst the growing presence of social media can be challenging, especially children of Gen Y parents (born after 1981- early 2000's). According to a recent devotion I read, Gen Y-ers average 6 1/2 hours of daily Facebook usage. While their profiles brag of large "friend" totals, they rarely spend face-to-face time with their "friends".

Let's face it, virtual friendships are easier than "real" ones, but God calls us to true friendship. Consider God's relationship with Moses--the only man to see God. The Bible says, The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend, (Exodus 33:11). 

So, exactly how do we help our children (and ourselves) build real, face-to-face, healthy friendships? Here's my be-attitudes for building healthy friendships:
  • Be present. Limit social media especially when on a play date, family event, or extra curricular activity. Practice being present.  Rather than posing and posting every moment on social media, just live it and enjoy the moment. How many times do we miss the sheer joy of an event because someone wants us to "pose" for the camera.
  • Be friendly. Smile and say hello first rather than waiting for someone else to make the first move. Practice hospitality (Romans 12:13) by opening your home to your children's friends and their parents. What better way to make new friends and keep an eye on your kids at the same time?
  • Be inclusive. School yard cliques happen, like it or not. Break out of the pack and befriend someone new, different, outcast, or lonely. When you're a longstanding community member, it's easy for both parents and children to stay within the familiar friendship circle. However, there's always a new family or classmate looking for friendship. Pursue them and include them.
  • Be wise. While teaching our children to be inclusive, we also must balance that with a dose of wisdom. If a new friend invites your child to their home for a play date, birthday party, etc., make sure the home is a safe place. If its a party, ask if you might accompany your child or check with other parents whose children might attend. If it's a play date, request it be at your home (see "be friendly" above). Once they arrive, invite the parent in for a cup of coffee or just make small talk at the front door while your children go off to play so you might get to know them better. I've also been known to do a drive-by the day before to check out their neighborhood, if I was unfamiliar, just to make sure it was a safe place to let my child play. Instruct your child to trust their gut. If they feel uncomfortable in the friend's home for whatever reason, call for a ride home immediately.
  • Be loyal. No gossiping allowed! Like Jonathan and David, we all need someone who's "got your back" and will stick up for us through good and bad times. If we call ourselves a friend, then we offer our loyalty in their presence and absence. 
  • Be forgiving. People will disappoint us, but the Bible teaches us that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). What a great lesson to learn early. No one is perfect and we will hurt one another's feelings, even if we love each other. Forgiveness is the key to building healthy, long-lasting relationships.
What would you add to the list? How do you foster healthy friendships in your home?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Awaiting the Groom

The Bride by Katharine Shilcut
CC BY ND 2.0
"The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry went out 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' " Matthew 25: 5-6

Outside my second floor living room door there was a small, steep staircase that led me to the mostly empty attic. Smelling of cold, dry wood in winter I'd make my way up there to fill the time with great imaginings until my sisters came home from school or until my mother called me down for supper.

In one corner close to the stairway laid an old black trunk with a rounded cover and a big brass latch in front quite resembling a pirates' chest. With my two, tiny, white hands I'd carefully lift that latch and open the cover to reveal the girly treasures inside: Mom's old dresses, her beige tortoise shell high heeled shoes and sheer, white, summer curtains! Treasures indeed to a little girl who loved to play dress up and especially loved to play The Bride! My wardrobe was complete when I found some plastic flowers in a box nearby marked, "Christmas."

I'd place my right hand on the stair rail to balance myself as I lifted feet into Mom's shoes one at a time. With that accomplished I'd dig deep into the pocket of my play dress to find the bobby pins I'd stashed for the veil. Then pinning it atop my blonde crown I'd grab the plastic, Christmas bouquet and start to hum "Here Comes The Bride." One shaky foot in front of the other I'd slowly clip-clop the entire length of the attic floor to where I dreamed my groom was waiting, wondering who it would really be someday.

That mystery has been solved. I've been married thirty-two years to a wonderful man and now my own children are married ... but I'm still getting ready for my Groom.

Today, those of us who follow Jesus are considered his bride. Brides are always thinking about their groom; always waiting for his voice to say, "I'm here. I'm ready. Today's the day! Join me at the altar, won't you?" 

What a heart-pounding day of excitement it is on our wedding day! Do we think that way of Jesus coming for us? Are we as excited about our groom, Jesus as we are about our earthly groom or are we drowsy from waiting? 

It's a challenge to wait but the wedding day is so worth it!

If you joined me here from {re}fresh, welcome!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

6 things Alice Through the Looking Glass teaches us (about life and family)

Alice through the looking glass by Sami Davis Dog
Flickr.com_4243505603_c52b2c9890_CC BY-ND 2.0
I break the rules in movie theaters quite often. Like, I tuck my own healthy snacks inside my purse in order to avoid my weight gain inducing, popcorn, cheesy tortilla and soft drink cravings. But mostly, you'll find that I'll pull our my iPhone and jot down life changing tidbits hidden within a movie's dialogue on my Notes app that strike a chord. 

That said, here's the 6 things Alice Through the Looking Glass teaches us about life and family:

1. "Very important thing, a family. You only get one,” said the Mad Hatter.  Living within our families isn't always easy. I know growing up in mine wasn't easy. One day we were the perfect, twice-on Sunday and once on Wednesday church-going family. The next day, we were the newest broken, absent-father, lock-key-kid, mother-working divorced and church-shunned family in the pews. No matter how I wished my family were whole again, or wished I could live in a different family, I soon realized you only get one. You only get one family and I wanted my whole one back. 

While my prayers were eventually answered, (unique among divorced families), we weren't the same. We were still a broken family striving to erase the mistakes of my father's indiscretions.  But, living through those broken and mending years reinforced in me was that we only do get one family and I wanted mine to work.  I wanted a Godly husband and family characterized by God-centeredness, unconditional love, loyalty, fidelity, honesty, transparency, and forgiveness toward one another and our “neighbors.”

2. "If you don't go back and reconcile, you'll be sorry...You're family will be lost and you won't be able to do anything about it, " said Alice to the Mad Hatter. While my parents' reconciliation was my heart's greatest desire, it took me thirty years to work through the heartache and pain of an absent father. Unforgiveness became my secret defense weapon—holding him at arm’s length protected me from further pain. Unfortunately, I carried every relationship I had at arm’s length, hoping to protect myself from their possible rejection and abandonment as well.

3. "Forgive me?" asked the White Queen. "That's all I ever wanted," replied her sister, the Queen of Hearts. In the movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass, we learn the back story of why the Queen of Hearts harbors so much anger. You see, everyone has a back story which doesn’t dismiss their misbehavior, but it sure explains a lot. Once I learned my father’s back story and God helped me see my father through His eyes, (how God created him, how nothing could stop God from loving and forgiving him)   then all my excuses to withhold forgiveness fell away. How could I not offer my father what Jesus so freely offered me? Freely offers the world?

4. "You cannot change the past but I dare say, you might learn from it," explained Time. No, we cannot change the past, even when we offer forgiveness. We don't own a chronosphere to travel back in time to make things right, like Alice did. But, we can move forward, learning the lessons from our past and with God's help, (always with God's help) we can forge a better future. 

5. "To do the impossible, you must believe it is possible," declared Alice.  Forgiving someone who has wronged you and hurt you deeply, may seem incredibly impossible to you right now. I get that. Although God confronted me about my unforgiveness, it took me over thirty years of working through my woundedness before I finally asked God for the impossible—the courage to face my father and offer him forgiveness and ask forgiveness of him.

6. "Everyone parts with everything, eventually," explained Time.  While God created all things for his pleasure, including and especially family, sin entered the world through the first family of creation, and therefore, we all pass away...eventually. My father suffered a long good-bye. In some ways, I'd never want to relive that again and yet, it was the sweetest good-bye I've ever experienced. During his last months of life, God reconciled all the stolen years. We talked about the past and said all those important, unregrettable last words to one another. Best of all, God taught me how to be a good daughter to him; how to love and care for him unconditionally, until his very last breath.

Do any of these statements challenge you today? What are some great life lessons you've learned from stories or a movie recently?

If you joined us from the Christian Children's Authors blog today, thank you! Welcome to my blog.