Tuesday, May 17, 2016

When Food Preference Causes Judgement

This morning, a popular health food blogger shared an article written by another popular blogger about the fact that she shamelessly takes her kids out for fast food fives times a week. Then, the popular health blogger asks her health food followers, "What do you think about this article?"

Honestly... Why? Because there isn't enough parental judgement already?

My biggest complaint about the article was that writer used the word "snarf"... And, more than once at that. It made me cringe a little. But, I could care less what she feeds her kids, and it's kind of a lame thing to shame other people for. Sharing helpful knowledge is one thing, but unleashing your fellow health food worshippers to condemn the fast food mom is a little, um... unhelpful.

Hey, life happens. Sometimes, it happens five times a week. It's hard on moms, and some of us just don't really have the energy to obsess over nutrition. We simply do the best we can, and trust that God's plans won't be thwarted because of a cheeseburger here and there. I grew up on pizza and hot dogs and Doritos and all things 90's, and I survived and lived to tell the tale. I was eventually introduced to healthier food, and realized my body wasn't healthy. I started making healthier choices in my early twenties, and now I'm passing that knowledge down to my kids. But, you better believe I will take full advantage of my freedom in Christ to eat French fries without feeling an ounce of shame.

Our family loves real, whole foods. Just this morning, my kids were raving about the fruit and kale smoothies we had for breakfast. Last night for dinner, they were inhaling guacamole, spinach, and grass-fed beef tacos. But, there are some days where being the homeschool mom of four kids ends up feeling like a swift kick in the pants, and Chick-Fil-a swoops in and saves the day like an angel sent down from heaven. On those days, it's all I can do not to go "Pentecostal" and break out my tambourine to do a holy victory dance thanking God for allowing fast food to even exist.

I am a firm believer that WHAT you eat is not often a sin issue (assuming you're not eating other humans - eek!), but HOW you eat, and your heart on the matter can be. Food can obviously become an idol, and there are seasons of life where it has held the throne in my own heart more times than I can count. It's a battle, for sure. Idolatry and gluttony are sins that need to be repented of. Occasionally choosing pizza over kale at lunch time is not.

We love whole foods now, and prefer to eat healthy because we've seen the difference in how it makes us feel. But, just four short years ago, we didn't even know what kale was. I would have rather banged my head against a wall than have to drink a green smoothie that tasted like pineapple grass. People are on their own journeys, and you can't condemn others just because they aren't on the same path as you... Especially over something as petty as food. Choose your battles according to scripture, and let go of the preference wars.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Boycott Target, Save the World?

Disclaimer: This blog post is not written in support of transgendered persons rights to use any restroom they choose. I do not support that idea at all, but that is a topic for another day. This post is written through the lens of seeing the inconsistencies of parents who want to protect their kids from pedophiles and predators, and yet are unwilling to do so on all fronts.


When I was four, I was molested in my own back yard. On more than one occasion. And, again when I was five. And, six. And, seven.

When I was five, I was molested by a student at the public school I went to. Again, more than once.

When I was six, I was molested by a different student at the public school I went to.

When I was 13, a man more than ten years older than me who went to my church asked me if I wanted to run to McDonald's with him for a Mcflurry before church started. I naively accepted. Instead, he drove me to a local cemetery and crossed more lines than I care to admit.

When I was 21, I was sexually assaulted by a man I was dating whom I had no intention of being intimate with.

Maybe you're asking how one person can be taken advantage of that many times in their life?


Parents look away. They give kids freedom to "be kids", and assume that nothing bad could ever happen in this "Leave It to Beaver" world we live in.


My husband has a similar story to mine.

And, so do millions of people across the world, some who recover by God's grace, and others who carry on the pattern and abuse because they've been abused. Or, just because sin. People, young and old, become predators for a host of reasons.

But, now, all of a sudden, parents, conservatives, and evangelicals everywhere are scared to death and boycotting because transgender people are *officially* allowed to be in public restrooms across the country.


Maybe I'm more aware of the facts and vulnerabilities because I've become a statistic on more than one occasion. But, I won't let my children go to sleepovers, public/private school, or public restrooms by themselves because I've seen the reality too many times. I've been accused of being a prude and a helicopter parent on more than one occasion. So be it. Not for fear, but for knowledge. There are wolves among us seeking out their prey. A quick Google search will tell you that statistically speaking, a child is more likely to get molested by a close friend or family member, including minor siblings or someone in their own peer group. The same goes for adults. You are more likely to be raped by someone you know or someone you are dating than by a complete stranger, namely one who cross dresses and thinks he's a female.

If you truly want to protect yourselves and your children, be vigilant all day every day because you know that there is evil in this world. Not because transgenders are now allowed and some creep may sneak in under the guise of being transgender and sneak a peek at you or your children. Transgenders have been going to their respective restrooms long before they were publicly welcomed by Target, and no one was loading their shotguns then. Don't pretend your homophobia is really some plight to protect your kids. If you want to protect your kids, THEN PROTECT THEM. Guard their bodies, and their minds, and their hearts. Guard them from the television and the computer and cell phone where they can get sucked into a pornography addiction that can wreak havoc on their young minds just as much as being sexually assaulted can. Provide supervision even in "safe" environments. But, boycotting Target won't deter a pedophile or an aggressive curious teenager or child from having their way with your son or daughter while you aren't watching. I, personally, don't shop at Target for other reasons. Their advertisements of half dressed women are just not something I want to expose my husband or sons to. Target hasn't been a "family" store for a very long time, but now you're offended because it taunts your temptation to hate, and you're giving in.

Your hatred of them for being transgender is just as foul.

Christians have to wake up and see themselves in others. People are lost, separated from God, far and wide. And, you're complaining about the bathroom policy of a store that has been trying to rip apart gender roles and biblical family values for years.

Unless you are willing to reach out to that transgender person and love them, and build a relationship with them, and boldly share Christ with them, then back off. Stop spotlighting sins that you find offensive. The most loving thing you can do for a lost person is share the gospel with them and pray for their salvation and let the Holy Spirit do his work if he so chooses. But, you're not going to save the world by not going to Target.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I'm a Spiritual Five Year Old

I'm so thankful God called me to repentance around this time five years ago. For most of my life, I was a cultural Christian at best... You know, the ones that check the "Christian" box on surveys that ask your religious affiliation - the one with a lot of talk and not a lot of walk. But, when He called me, I was barely even that. I was a broken fragment of a person, drowning in the muck I had willfully chosen for myself. That putrid stench of sin is not one easily forgotten, but today I can say that My God saves. He can take the ugliest, nastiest, most Jezebel-est of us all and make us clean. He can redeem the poor choices, the broken hearts, the out-of-wedlock pregnancies, the divorces, the willful rebellion and rejection of God in an effort to "find myself" and "express myself"... My God can take it all. And, He has. And, through the blood of a Lamb once slain, he has chosen to remember it no more, and I have been made clean. Glory to God in Heaven, the one Who gives new life to dry bones. The One who says "Rise up and walk"... The one who says, "Follow Me".

I was speaking to a woman recently who was trying to make a case for how our salvation depends on our actions: 
"Why in the world would God have created the Ten Commandments if He didn't expect us to obey them?" 
My answer to her was simple. It was the same answer that somehow escaped me for most of my life as I wandered in a hopeless back and forth effort of trying to please God enough to save me and then getting tired of it all and going my own way.

The simple truth is this:
The sole purpose of the Ten Commandments was to make us aware of God's Holy standard, and to make us even more aware of the fact that we cannot fulfill it.

That's it.

Try as we might, no amount of obedience will save us apart from the the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to our the height, the depth, the breadth of our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. The reality is that even one sin, no matter how mild - even one white lie - is obscene enough in the sight of God to have us banished eternally to hell.

Do you recognize the debt that you have before God? Do you understand that you cannot pay it? Do you comprehend the fact that Jesus did not die FOR our sins, but rather He died COVERED in them, paying the price that we could not pay? 

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. - 1 Peter 2:24

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2 Corinthians 5:21

This isn't about having a Savior that can relate to us - though He can - but it is so much more than that. He took the burden of sin that we carry, the debt that we've incurred, the very thing that separates us from our Creator, and He wore it all and endured being separated from the Father so that we can stand blameless and holy before a righteous judge and once again enter into unadulterated communion with the One who gave us life. We may not be promised an easy life, and we will be painstakingly molded into the image of Christ until our dying breath, but on that great day of judgement, we will be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven as sons and daughters of a righteous King, heirs of the Great Almighty.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. - Romans 8:14-17

If you aren't following Christ, come to Him. The sin that you love so much is the same sin that will devour you whole. We love our sin, because it gives us what we want. But, only temporarily as its appetite grows to demand even our souls. Just like a child who doesn't understand why he can't always have his way, so are we thrashing about in fits of anger if anyone dare touch what we hold so dear. But, so long as you cling to the comforts of this world, you need to understand that you are hanging on to a sinking ship - one where the orchestra is playing so loudly that its passengers don't even know they're dying. See the beauty of sin for the facade that it is. Confess, repent, follow Christ and be done with it.

My prayer today is one of thanksgiving for a loving Savior that was willing to stoop low. When I was out of reach of all those around me, when cutesy religion had lost all flavor, and every hand I held betrayed me, when I lived in fear every day as the consequences of my sin played out around me... God met me there. But, it wasn't free. It cost His Son's very life to repay the eternal debt that I had acquired. And, He is willing to apply that payment for you, too, if you only repent and put your faith in Christ Jesus. There is no other way. Hold fast to a false security of your own inconsistent obedience, or put your hope in a muddled up and watered down gospel, and I fear for you on that day of judgement. Do not be deceived into thinking you know Him simply because you go to church and are familiar with scripture. Even the demons know Him and tremble. God will not be mocked. Nothing short of a total surrender to Him will do.

On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' - Matthew 7:22-23

I praise God for the continual work He is doing in my life, and the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. And, I pray today, nearing the fifth anniversary of my salvation, that when God calls out to you who are unsaved, and you're standing there in darkness, neck deep in the consequences of your sin, that you surrender and allow Him to begin a good work in you that will be completed on the day of Christ Jesus. 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:6-8
To God be the glory.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Consider Your Ways

Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:5-6

Sound familiar? Do you feel like you are wasting your days working with very little to show for it? Do you feel like you are giving it your all, and for some reason, the rules of reaping and sowing just don’t seem to be working in your favor? Are you sowing endless hours at work, trying to do what seems like the right thing to provide for yourself and your family, and yet, you still find yourself in need? No, this isn’t an infomercial… this is real life. My family has been there for years. My husband has worked tirelessly for three years now, some days getting as little as two to three hours of sleep a day before heading off to his next job. And, what do we have to show for it? We live with my in-laws (again), so you do the math. We have spent years frustrated in our circumstances, wondering why we can’t seem to get ahead, or at the very least, even catch up. Does God not see our efforts? Does He not hear our prayers? These are some of the thoughts we’ve had as we have struggled in recent years. However, only in recent days have we truly given an ear to hear what the Lord may have to say about it. 

Two nights ago, my husband sat across from me on the couch in his parent’s living room. It was the early morning hours. The sun had not yet risen, and the room was only lit by the dim glow of the still present Christmas tree. It was assessment time, and you could “cut the tension with a  knife”, as my late Daddy used to say. He had been growing ever passive in the past month, and I had been growing more aggressive. We both were operating on very short fuses, and we were both feeling very defeated and discouraged. 

“What is happening?” he asked, “Why are we in such a funk that we can’t seem to get out of?”

I responded frankly, as I often do, but probably often shouldn’t, “I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely done with everything life has to offer right now. I feel stuck, like this will always be our life… working endlessly for nothing, always depending on other people, never being able to provide for ourselves. It feels hopeless, like I just want to quit. I don’t want to be here anymore.”

I waited as my husband sat staring, gathering his thoughts, until he finally cleared his throat, and deepened his voice as he replied, “We need to make some changes. We’ve figured out that we haven’t been putting God first, and so we keep talking about doing that. We’ve started doing some things differently, and that’s good, but we keep trying to put Him first in a way that still leaves us trying to fix ourselves.”

He then opened his Bible app and read aloud Matthew 6:25-34… You know, the ‘be anxious for nothing’ verses… the ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you’ verses.

Can we all agree what a blessed thing it is to have a spouse devoted to honoring God even when we aren’t feeling so up to par? I am so thankful that his response rebuked me rather than affirmed my misguided emotions. But, at the time he read those words to me, it was irritating to hear. I literally groaned inside. I may or may not have even rolled my eyes and thought, “Can’t you just be normal and come to the pity party with me?”

But, my husband knew better. He knew better than to take the apple of bitterness that his wife was offering him at the time. And, thank God, because that night we challenged each other in a way that God’s word calls us to do, but we’re often scared to do. We confessed and sought forgiveness, he for his passivity, and me for my hostility (what a pair we make, right?), and he challenged me to start focusing on reading God’s Word more than what I had been. It was no coincidence that the next morning I come across an article in my newsfeed saying that so often people ignore the solution to transforming their minds, and it simply is to read God’s Word. The article’s urging was simple… Choose one book of the bible. Read it all the way through. Choose another book of the bible. Read it all the way through. Repeat these steps until you have read through every book of the bible. 

Can we all just pause for a “DUH - why didn’t I think of that” moment? 

Just like most things in life, we muddle up God’s simple solutions to life’s problems with our own overthinking and overreaching into dilemmas that we were never meant to solve by way of our own puny logic. If we would just stay in God’s Word, the living and breathing Word of God, our path would not be darkened. If God’s word is a light unto my path, and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we somehow keep ending up on a foggy road with very little direction, then who keeps turning the light off?


Open your bible.

Read your bible. 


In the twenty-four hours that I’ve spent diligently reading my bible, God has answered my whining as clearly as my husband who sat across from me did. I made a list of the shortest books of the bible to the longest, hoping that it would be more motivating if I was able to get a running start, and it has been. Since yesterday, I’ve read through 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, Philemon, Jude, Obadiah, Titus, Haggai, and I’m currently in Nahum. These nine books have worked together to bop me over the head with God’s wisdom in a way that I could not have anticipated. I had actually been concerned that reading the bible so randomly might prove ineffective. But, is God’s word ever ineffective? I opened this blog entry with a verse from Haggai, and then I shared a bit about our recent circumstances, and now I will bring the two together.

Reading further along in Haggai chapter one, we realize why these people have toiled with little gain. Verses 7 and 9-10 states the following: Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways… You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins while each of you busies himself with his own house.

Wow. God just said, “when you brought it home, I blew it away.” We must not forget His sovereignty. Don’t let your toils be in vain. The book of Haggai goes on to tell an incredibly beautiful story of how God changed the hearts of the people of Judah to lose their self-centered busyness and give themselves to the work of the Lord in bringing His temple to its former glory. He goes on to bless a people who were once too busy to serve Him faithfully. And, He can do the same for you and I. But, how? His instructions were clear to the people of Judah through Haggai the prophet… But, we don’t have a temple to renovate. Enter 1, 2, and 3 John, Philemon, Jude, and Titus. These books may be small in word count, but they are HUGE in the richness of what it means to be a Christian and put God first. Where is the temple of the New Testament? It is here, among the believers… It is the body of Christ. It is your Christian brother or sister, your Christian co-worker and fellow church members. It’s the stranger in the grocery store that you look at and somehow just “know” that they are also a believer because you can almost taste the familiarity of the Holy Spirit dripping off of their every word. 

Are you investing in God’s temple? Have you given your life over in service to those who are running this race along side you? Read those short books of the bible, and you will come away with a list of ways to put God first by serving the body of believers. Serving our fellow Christians is one of many ways that we can put God first in our lives, but don’t underestimate the effect that supporting one another can have on the big picture of The Great Commission outlined in Matthew 28:16-20. Some of the practical things I’ve gleaned from these books:

Stay in the Word. 
Love one another.
Pray for each other.
Rebuke when needed.
Test the spirits, and recognize false prophets.
Walk in truth and love.
Submit to, and honor, authority.
Imitate good, and not evil. 
Have mercy on those who doubt.
Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling.
Be gentle and show perfect courtesy.
Know your role, and adhere to it.

The list goes on. I challenge you to read those same short books of the bible, and then keep going! Don’t stop. Read the whole bible, and then read it again… it never runs out of new things to teach you, because it is the living and breathing Word of God. It is the means by which we hear from the Creator Himself. Don’t cut off His line of communication by closing your bibles and letting them collect dust on the shelf. Open it, and keep it open.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV)

When I was a little girl, I used to imagine growing up and moving away to a faraway land. My plan was to save all of the orphaned babies. I remember seeing an infomercial once about the turmoil going on in Sudan, and so I set my sights on the poor, helpless children there. I would spend hours with my head buried in a notebook using my crayons to draw up blue prints of what type of house I would need to build in order to contain the many children I would save. I was sure that I could fit them all in my one little house if I used my space efficiently. I never understood why some people would look at me wild eyed when they would ask my plans for the future, and I would quite simply state that I planned to move to Sudan and save the orphans. In my young mind, it was as simple as “going” and “doing”.

As I grew older, however, I still valued the notion of some radical move to a foreign country to do good and witness to others, but as the distractions came pouring in – friends, fashion, boys – the thought of doing anything for anyone crept further and further into the back of my mind. As a young teen, I went to church often, gave a few good attempts at doing some local and foreign missions work, and even spent countless years agonizing over what my “calling” might be. But, ultimately, selfishness won, and my life’s choices became largely based on what made me happy. Fail proof, right? I tried for a little while to hold onto bits of morality here and there, trying to “be good” for Jesus, but that simply led to making sure my behavior “looked good” to those who didn’t know any better. Never mind the fact that behind the scenes I was sowing a path of self-worship that would reap struggles with thrill-seeking rebellion, eating disorders, promiscuity and sex addiction, drug use, and a small town criminal conviction. Not even the people closest to me knew my struggles, and as long as they thought I was still “good”, that’s all that mattered. I know, for some, my “good” bubble was burst when I showed up pregnant at the age of 19, but they still didn’t know the half of it. Denial and damage control was the name of the game.

 I had very little concept of God’s grace at the time, and though I believed in God, and even believed all that the Bible taught about Jesus, I didn’t understand it completely. I still felt that it was my job to “clean up” before I could follow Christ. I didn’t realize, however, that all of my attempts to fix things only led me further and further into despair. It wasn’t until my sister started to teach me of his grace at the age of 22 that I was even able to submit my life to Christ. The years to follow would prove to be some of the hardest, and unhappiest. I would still go on trying to rely on my pride and control what I could in my neurotic type-A way. I would continue to suffer from depression and anxiety, and even have times when I was sure I had to earn my way to Jesus’ love rather than just repent and move on. But, a midst all of that, there would be an undeniable sense of hope that through all of this refinement, I was not lost. I was no longer drowning in the muck of my own choices. I still battled the consequences of my sin, but I no longer feared them. At times, I was still tripping over my own baby Christian feet trying to “do enough” for God, but his discipline and grace was evident. I no longer went to bed at night feeling shrouded in darkness. I could still go two weeks at a time feeling utterly depressed and unmotivated to even get out of bed, but I never felt as if there wasn’t life left to live.

People so often have the misconception that once Jesus saves you, all of that goes away. We don’t know what to do when we “try” religion and it doesn’t fix everything. But, as long as we’re simply looking for a bandage to put over our wounds and make our lives a little easier, Christianity is not the religion to look to. Christ’s primary purpose is to bridge the gap between helpless sinners and a holy God. But, until you’ve come to the end of yourself and recognized your need for a Savior, you will reap very little benefit from simply going to church and being Christian-like.  I’d like to say that I don’t know where so many people get the notion that Jesus turns us into happy, sin-repellant perfection, but I can’t say that, because I know exactly where people get that notion. They get it from us – Christians and church goers. They get that impression because of the fact that we put a veil over our imperfections and we think that the presence of sin in our lives will discredit our validity as a Christian. They get that impression because there are still so many born-again Christians out there who get saved and then simply stew in spiritual infancy because growth hurts too much. And, so unbelievers are left with very little by way of understanding the true nature of the gospel, and never knowing that what the bible truly teaches is that with our confession of faith will come many trials and persecution. It’s no wonder the world can’t look at people like Joel Osteen and see him for the false prophet that he is, because darn it, “if you’re not smiling, you’re not saved”! The rest just assume that we’re all hypocrites because we can’t even regurgitate enough scripture to explain that we’re saved, yes, but sinners, also.

Please, for all that is good and holy, learn to embrace suffering. Know that God disciplines those He loves. Try to understand that if “happiness” is your ultimate goal in life, then you’ll probably come out “happy” at best – and that’s not saying a lot when you consider the eternal joy to be found in Christ, and the damnation to be had apart from Him. When a person is saved, Christ becomes our veil so that when the righteous and holy God above looks down on us as Creator and Judge, He sees Christ’s sacrifice instead of our sin. But, Christ does not become our veil from this world. On the contrary, we are often times pushed out of the nest, free falling into the world and gasping for air, with more than a few bumps along the way, as we learn to trust in His power to do the things that, apart from Him, we cannot do.

 As Christ continues to work in my life, I often times wonder if He will revive my childhood desire of moving off to a faraway land and spreading His gospel. But, it’s dawning on me lately, that whether He does that in the future or not, He has put a new burden on my heart. This new burden is much closer to home. It is this self-absorbed, sex-crazed, money-worshipping country that I call home. It is the thousands of Americans that go to church on Sundays and pray before their meals that still have somehow “missed it” and don’t truly know Christ, but rather, live double lives of whom they really are, and who they present themselves to be – or, worse yet, claim to know Christ while boldly living in a way that contradicts scripture. It’s the ones who fail to understand that Christ’s love reaches down to us, right where we are, in the filth, the sin, the mire, and there is nothing apart from putting our faith in Him that can draw us any closer to God.

My burden now is for the ones who call themselves…  “good”.

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Curse of Generational Disrespect and Miscommunication... But, Mostly Just Hurt Feelings and Misunderstandings


I think that it would be safe to say that most people I know have been lumped in, at one point or another, with the rest of their peers and deemed to be "The Worst Generation To Have Ever Walked the Earth". They say that we're the rudest, loudest, meanest, most selfish, disrespectful, careless, sexualized, demon-possessed, God-hating, immoral... well, you get the picture... apparently, we're just awful.

The irony is, that as a mere 25 year old, I have lived long enough to see an even newer generation grow into adolescents who are also deemed as "the worst". But, wait a second... I thought that MY generation was about as low as they come. Oh, but wait... I can remember hearing about how my parents generation was also deemed the scum of the earth... bunch o' dope heads and hippies. And, if I'm not mistaken, my grandparents generation was responsible for producing feminism and Elvis, who was the King of Rock & Roll and ultimately the gateway to Hell, so surely THEY are responsible for society's failures. Oh... what's that you say? In the years leading up to and after 100 B.C., the Romans used to feed live people to live animals at The Colosseum as their most popular form of spectator sport entertainment? Hmm...

Never you mind those Romans. This new generation takes the cake. They don't say "sir" or "ma'am", they're all on welfare, chivalry is dead, and they just all around suck.

I could honestly sit here all day and think of reasons why the general public is suffering thanks to today's generation, or yesterday's generation, or really, just whomever I cared to cast the bulk of the blame on, I'm sure I could muster up a big enough list to convince at least one or two like-minded people as to why we should be disgusted with them and why all of OUR problems are THEIR fault, and why I am completely justified by being offended by everything they do or say. But, I don't want to do that. I want to bring it down to scale. Let's forget about this and that generation, and let's just talk about the two factors in any social setting that we can do something about... those factors are YOU and ME.

As a child, my parents did share with me a general set of rules and expectations that were meant to be upheld in social settings and when amongst my elders, and in most cases, I did adhere to those general values because I knew to not do so would result in grim consequences. It was never my desire to feel the sting of those consequences, also called a belt, on my rear end. Did the fear of those consequences convince me that my elders actually deserved respect? Not at all. But, it did teach me that if a pony takes orders, all goes well, and if they disobey, here come's the whip. So, for the most part, as most children do, I ponied up and did my duty. My parents were generally satisfied with my manners, and my elders were generally impressed that I was outwardly respectful and compliant. All of those rules and consequences, however, did not change the fact that by nature, humans are "monkey-see, monkey-do", and I was raised by two very imperfect people, just as all of you were. The mantra "Do as I say, not as I do" is a hopeless saying that only works in theory, which ultimately means, it doesn't work. If a parent explains to their child the importance of showing respect for their elders, but that same parent only shows hostility and rebellion toward authority, then despite the fact that the child has been told the importance of respect, they have been taught something very different. That is where the confusion seems to occur, and the poop hits the fan. People assume that to tell someone something is to teach them. But, while a child may obey a parent's rules, there are many cases where they do so simply because "this is what children should do". That mindset is often the result of parents who don't practice what they preach. They say no cookies before dinner, but they are regularly caught snacking between meals, and then scolding a child for asking for a snack, saying, "Don't you know that will spoil your dinner?" Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. "Now, go play and stop whining about being hungry. I'll call you when dinner is ready." Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

What, then, does a child truly grasp from such a confusing situation? They see the adult doing what they are telling the child not to do, and then naturally assume that these rules only apply to children. The child doesn't quite understand why, but they know that parents have many silly rules for them that they themselves don't abide by. The only conclusion for most children is that "I am a child, and I must follow the rules. I cannot wait to be a grown-up so that I don't have to follow the rules anymore."

Let me say that again.

"I am a child, and I must follow the rules. I cannot wait to be a grown-up so that I don't have to follow the rules anymore."

This leads to a very "good" child growing up to be a very less than satisfactory adult. Their parents and grandparents will shake their heads while saying, "I don't know what happened, she was always such a good child. I never would have imagined she would turn out like this. The world must have gotten to her, because we raised her better than that. Society has ruined our children."

The harsh reality? Your words gave them rules that children must obey, while your actions showed them the way that adults are allowed to behave. So, all of those rules, the endless punishments and groundings for breaking them, in your child's mind, all of that nonsense had an expiration date. They were simply arbitrary rules with no bearings that children must follow or else be punished. The moment that the child is grown and knows that they are no longer under your authority or in fear of punishment, they will be much more bold in being who they have always been now that they are out of the dog and pony show that was their childhood. If there is no longer anyone to whip them, why then, should they still perform? We are all rowing the same boat here, the boat in which each one of us thinks, "There are too many chiefs, and not enough Indians. But, if everyone would just listen to me, we would all be better off." We measure and judge each other according to the rules that our parents told us, while living our own lives the way that our parents taught us.

Parents, if you are not a living model of who you want your children to be, then any rule you give them will be taken by them as arbitrary and temporary. Don't worry, I'm speaking to myself here as much as I am speaking to you. I, too, have little ones watching my every move and learning to navigate this life by mimicking what their parents do. My hope, is that while they see my many imperfections, they also see me running to the cross and laying them down at my Savior's feet. We can never underestimate what God did when He sent His Son to live here among us. Not only, was Christ able to live a perfect life and die as a perfect and holy sacrifice in my place so that I might live in God's grace without fear of failure, but He also gave us the bare necessity of a living model to imitate. Likewise, that is what we are to be to our children. We may never live a perfect life as Christ did, but His grace is sufficient for thee! Everything that He EVER did will ALWAYS be enough to make up for everything that we will NEVER be able to do... including, being the perfect parent.

How does all of this rambling fit into the You and I equation that I referenced earlier? Simply this: As a parent with grown children, you have to be willing to take some responsibility for who your children are, good or bad. In taking responsibility for that, it should be easier for you to look around at their generation as a whole and understand that not only are they no worse than your generation, but they are equally as sinful as any living being ever was, and they are just as much in need of a Savior as you are. As a grown child, I must recognize that even if my parents didn't truly teach me better, despite what they told me, that as an adult, I am responsible for my own actions, regardless of how I was brought up. As a Christian, there is never an excuse to behave like an idiot because "It's just the way I was raised", when there is an entire book called "The Bible" that tells me of God's grace and His life changing salvation.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are always other factors in the equation that we may have no control over. All of this is not to say that if you are indeed the perfect parent, then your children will grown up to be spic and span model citizens, never to disappoint a soul. This is simply to say, stop pointing the finger. Be honest with yourself that if you are offended by someone doing something that is simply utterly offensive and disrespectful according to your standards of decency, then you can always take the advice that I give my four and five year old... Ignore them. Turn the other cheek. Yes, you can choose to wallow in the offense, or you can take the high road. They are just as human as you, and just as imperfect. Do what you can actually do something about... YOU. Doing something about YOU typically doesn't require arguing with others and placing blame, or gossiping to others about how awful the offender is, but rather looking inside of your own heart and humbling yourself before God through repentance and receiving His grace to make it through what may seem like a terrible offense at the time. Likewise, I am not saying that all rules are useless and arbitrary. But, just like Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers, so are we as parents if we are shelling out rules that we aren't willing to follow ourselves. We are literally feeding them a venom that sets them up for failure if we are talking the talk without walking the walk.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

To convict one would be to convict us all.

      I had a mother.  She left when I was twelve.  She wasn’t there when I needed her the most.  She had a mother, who worked full time, and spent most of her childhood living with people who weren’t even her own blood.  She wasn’t there when she needed her the most.   My grandmother had a mother.  She died when she was nine.  She wasn’t there when she needed her the most.
       I had a father.  He held his pride closer than he held his children.  He wasn’t there when I needed him the most.  He had a father, who died when he was ten.  He wasn’t there when he needed him the most.  He was raised by a mother, who worked and went to school full time to care for her five children.  She wasn’t there when he needed her the most.  She was the daughter of a criminal.  He spent his time in jail and making a shameful living.  He wasn’t there when she needed him the most.
       My children have a mother.  She spent her time chasing men to fill a void.  She wasn’t there when they needed her the most.
      I am the daughter of a mother who didn’t have a mother, who didn’t have a mother.  I am the daughter of a father who didn’t have a father, and was raised by a mother, who didn’t have a father.  I have born children who don’t have a father, and for many years, I wasn’t there when they needed me the most.
       What are we to do when we are the products of so many generations lacking in parents?  For many years, my heart stewed in anger so great towards my parents and the raw deal that I felt I got as a child.  I was so very bitter not having the affection and attention that I spent so many years craving in silence.  As a child, I was taken over by insecurity and fear.  As a teen, that shyness morphed into a boisterous and bitter hatred for anyone and everyone.  As a young lady, I sought out any man with open arms to find comfort through the night, and I kept them around for as long as I could, but it never lasted, and it never healed.  I have lived a reckless life, void of moral high ground, and full of self-destruction. 
       Now, at twenty-five years old, who do I blame… myself?  My parents?  God himself?
       Now, at twenty-five years old, I can look back at all my years growing up and look beyond myself to see the parents who raised me.  My parents became parents while they were yet children themselves - not only children, but broken children at best.  They were raised by broken-hearted parents, and not a single one had the knowledge or the resources to raise any child in an ideal manner, myself included.  We are all one in the same, my parents and I, and my grandparents alike.  Will I hang them at the gallows for the rest of their lives for not knowing any better?  At one time, I can say in all transparency, I would have liked to.  But, now, in due time, and as perspective continues to grow, I would have to hang myself as well, for I am as guilty and as innocent as they.
       I was a child born into an unfortunate life, as were they.  Who is there to blame if one was never taught any better, and when taught, couldn’t comprehend?  Only by the grace of God do we all live, and only by the grace of God will our eyes be opened to a better way of life.
 “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. ” (Matthew 18:21-22, ESV)