Monday, September 20, 2010

7 daughters…What was God thinking?!

A daughter…something most women long to have. Me…I have seven! Seven sisters range in age from 22 to 3 ½. The oldest just married this past May. The youngest is just trying to figure out where she fits in the mix. Usually right in the middle of it all! God has such a good sense of humor!

Where do I start…

There’s clothes, makeup, boys, hair, and the ever dreaded hormones x 7! Make that own! Me…I wear the hats of many professions. I often look in the mirror to see which hat I have on at the moment . I would hate to be in comedian mode when our girls are upset and need a counselor. Our poor boys…my poor husband! They just shake their heads and run when all the hormones start flying. We are blessed to have three great men in our lives. They have learned to live with all eight of us and rarely complain…that is an accomplishment! Our sons will make great husbands one day. I just pray for the women that they bring into the mix…that’s a lot of sisters to win over in order to marry the man of their dreams!

I grew up in a house with two younger sisters. I thought I knew a thing or two about raising girls. After all…I was one! I have come to realize in today’s society… raising our children the way we were raised is near impossible! Teaching our daughters to become wives and mothers has become a lost art. A very difficult thing to teach during the teen years.

One thing that helps me a lot is looking at the teen years as an illness…and it is! Just think…they have so many changes going on inside. They don’t even know how to understand…much less control the craziness. Sometimes they just need a listening ear…but not all of them at the same time! Those times are when I want to run for the hills…or pull the covers over my head!

Our children have so many more things to contend with these days.
There’s the media…music, movies and TV. There’s electronics…my grandmother would be amazed at these gadgets called cell phones! You know?…those things that never leave our kids hands! So many things pulling and fighting for our kids attention. How I long for the simpler of days!
I know each generation has it’s own problems. But this one has me really worried. Our kids are getting lost in the shuffle...even in our churches! Many teens leave the church right out of high school and never return to their faith. Today’s churches are so busy entertaining the kids and not teaching or connecting with them. When it’s time to be an adult and leave the nest so to speak…they feel lost and disconnected. Why stay and fellowship with the adults when the adults have never taken the time to get to know these young people or even listen to what they have to say? These kids are our future church. Just think what the church will look like in 10 years if all our kids are walking away from the faith.

I recently sat with a couple of teens fresh out of high school. Again at an age where they are too old for youth group and feeling too young for our college and career group. Stuck in the middle… middle child syndrome. It was sad to hear their comments. They were lost in where to fit in. They want to be used…not put in a box! Kids are going to go where they feel needed and wanted. Teaching them to step up and communicate their desires is so difficult. Sometimes we are so busy taking care of others outside our homes…that we are failing to see the needs of those under our very own roofs. We as adults will get out exactly what we invest in our kids. That stays true to anything or other relationships in our lives. My mom use to tell me…“In order to have friends you first have to be a friend.” That concept can be used in investing of yourself in any relationship. I will say…It’s not my job to be my kid’s “friend”…they need me to be a parent! When a parent tries to step into the friend mode they lose the very special connection they have with their kids.

Parents are so busy trying to make ends meet…they are failing to really listen to the hearts of their kids. Kids are raising themselves and each other. When is the last time you sat down with a young person and just listened? When is the last time you had more than a five minute conversation with your teenager? I am so guilty of not paying attention to our youth…helping them to see their value in our homes and churches. We all want to feel valued. Sometimes you just have to step out of that box( comfort zone) and ask God to place you where He wants you…which is the very best place to be.

Our kids are the next generation of leaders…scary ? To think of them in those terms…we better wake up! Our daughters are the next generation’s mothers…and our sons fathers or leaders of this world. Parenting is tough…but that’s not an excuse!

One of those teens I had a conversation with…my very own daughter. Yes…even I miss the mark in connecting with my kids. Do I have all the right answers…NO! But I know someone who does! Although it is ultimately their choice to follow Jesus…I pray I never have to see them fall from His grace.

Connecting with our youth starts with time and a good listening ear. It’s time to slow down…It’s time to listen! We have to get off the sidelines and get into the game! It’s time to let our kids know they matter in this world…that they have a purpose! One day they may be the ones taking care of us!

I challenge you to get to know the youth in your communities and churches. Yes…they may seem weird in dress and actions. But actually they are very smart and kind of neat. They might even teach you a thing or two. Just remember what you see on the outside that might annoy you….there is something so much different on the inside that would amaze you! It’s all about relationship! If you want to help our youth of today…start by giving them your time and ear!

I recently found an article ...Why students abandon their faith  Lessons from William Wilberforce

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What if.....

What if I had only… What if I had not…What if he…What if she…What if ! What if ! What if !!!

Do you ever catch yourself thinking this? These thoughts and feelings come in a moment of fatigue and frustration. A time when you would like to be someone else in a different time and place. A time when you would like to go back and start over! Hind sight is always twenty-twenty!

This past week in our community a young man lost his life crossing a busy street in front of the skate park. Very sad...but I believe God ordained ...the vehicle who hit him was driven by a youth pastor and kids on their way to a lock in. Do you think that young man knew that Friday was his last day here on this Earth? I wonder how many witnesses to the accident had the thought..."What if"? Would the young man have lived his life differently had he known? Would you....if you knew it was your last day? It's strange how a death can really make you think of your very own mortality. Sometimes making you think about your relationship with Jesus Christ or the lack there of. We don't get a second chance once we're gone. Life can end in an instant...leaving those that we love saying "what if !"

What if my dad hadn’t died…who would I be today? What if he had made a different choice to not leave that day? We all make choices that change the course of history. Some simple and some very important choices. Even the simplest of choices change how our day or life plays out.Our choices not only affect us…but often those that we love.

I am continually encouraging my children to make wise choices in their lives. Sometimes they listen…sometimes they don’t! I know there have been times when I have heard them say…“If only I had listened!” Those words are music to a mother’s ears! Finally…they get it! They did hear me! Now to get them to think this way ALL the time. What if?

So often I do the same thing with my Lord. He speaks…I ignore. He speaks again…I run. He speaks so quietly…calling me to sit with Him and listen. What if I obeyed his calling? How different my life would be.Am I too busy? Am I afraid to obey His request? I know He has my best interest at heart. He knows my future. But yet I shut out that still small voice and in my own selfishness do my thing…in my own power. Then in the end…I say…What if ? “I wish I had only listened!” Those are the words that our Heavenly Father longs to hear.

Choosing to follow Christ is something I have to do daily. My decision to surrender my life to Him was the best choice I have ever made! What if I hadn’t made that choice? Who knows ? I hope I never have to find out! My heart changed the day I gave my life to my savior. All my wants, needs and desires changed too! This is the one “What if” that I will never look back on and regret!

My father in law once told his children…“Live your life with no regrets!”Your actions are something you can never take back! Slow down… Think before you say and do! We have all heard it but yet those choices are made and the regrets are left in their wake.
Isn’t it time to put the past in the past and look to the future? Yes…you have regrets of the bad choices you have made. No one can change their past! But…it’s never to late to look straight ahead and make a change for the future! Learn from it and move on!
“What if you did!” 
Life is too short!