Bracing for Impact

Teenagers.

We are coming in fast, and nothing can stop it. We have three teenagers in the house now. Well one is twelve, but will be in a few months and considers herself one.

We have a fifteen year old boy learning how to drive and twelve and thirteen year old girls in our newly blended family. It’s scary. I’m prayerful and it’s still scary. A new season.

We also have a mix of public and private schooling at our house. I’m blown away with what the public schoolers encounter at this age, and just as aware that the private schoolers will too, if they don’t already. It’s the world we live in.

Putting myself in their shoes has also got me thinking about how I was as a teenager…Not easy either. I couldn’t wait to go to college to get out of the house and have some “real freedom.”

I think about how much more trouble I would have gotten into if texting had been around then..

I remember my dad would pretty much only answer the phone if it rang after 9:00pm. And, that was to make sure boys and friends wouldn’t call the house after that time. If texting was an option, that wouldn’t have been an issue. I loved phone time. I remember talking for hours.

I remember getting caught on the phone in a lie. He happened to pick the phone up at the exact same time I did and heard stuff immediately that prevented him from hanging up. He caught me red handed. He asked me three times and I lied to his face three times. He already knew the truth, oh how that must have hurt his heart. The lying.

I’m going through this now. When our kid can look us straight in the face and lie, repeatedly, it kills us. And, we’ve probably all done it.

My dad’s punishment for that was swift and severe. He didn’t let me get my license when I turned sixteen and he sold the car I’d saved money up to buy the very next day. Severe. But, he knew me lying to his face was too. Righteous anger. And, I have some of that now too.

The video games drive me crazy, the constant secrecy of phones drives me crazy, the tablets annoy me, the staying up all hours drives me crazy, but I can’t help but think… “Would I be any different if I were raised in this age?”

My daughter has asked what I did all day when I was home for summer…I watched Price is Right, Let’s Make a Deal, and Young and the Restless with some movies thrown in. Same as them, except they watch YouTube and Netflix. I played Nintendo and they play graphic shooting games. The content is so much more risqué and/or violent than we had access too…Porn could be found, but not at the touch of a button. Google is wonderful, I use it almost every day. But, it’s made everything different. For better and for worse.

Summer downtime comes with summer boredom…Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. And, we’ve all fallen victim to them and to him. So, what’s a parent to do? Brace and embrace this season. Just like we did all the other ones…

So, as I write, by heart is racing and I’m bracing. But, still I will trust.

That our kids will lie and get caught and hide and also make us proud. That it will be hard, but that we will also have good times. That I will never know everything. That they will make good friends and not so good ones. That just because some friends or our own kids may lead to trouble now, doesn’t mean they always will.

Turns out the boy I got in trouble with is a preacher now. Every kid we encounter on our kids journeys are on their own too.

I will also trust that God’s grace will sustain us and that He will walk alongside us in this season too. May they come out of it knowing that no matter what get’s taken away (be it phones, games, tablets, or trips) that they are loved. And may we, as parents, model how much they have to gain when we lean on Jesus to get us through the hard stuff.

I don’t think it will be pretty, neither was having an infant. I don’t think it will be relaxing, neither was having a toddler. I don’t think it will be easy, neither is having a middle schooler. But, I believe it will be possible. Because, with Christ, He promises all things are. (Matthew 19:26)

And, I know seasons will change….because they always have.

 

 

 

 

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The Love We Crave

 

mercy

The love we crave is merciful. The love we crave is consistent, compassionate. The love we crave is unconditional, accepting, understanding. This is the kind of love we crave in all our relationships. Whether our parent, coworker, classmate, friend, or spouse is a Christian or not, we all crave this kind of love. Because, it’s respectful. It’s kind. It’s real.

If you’ve been raised or surrounded by the alternative (critical, rude, exclusive, controlling, demanding, or apathetic) you may not realize that you weren’t witnessing real love. If you’ve respected and loved someone with these characteristics, you’ll think you deserved the behavior because you loved the person dishing it out. You’ll find yourself drawn towards people like it because you think it’s love. If it’s all you’ve known, it’s all you know. Until someone polar opposite comes along and shows you or Jesus grabs a hold of your heart and shows Himself, your perspective is skewed.

Truth is, the character of Christ is where you find what true love is.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

If a person is not patient or kind, don’t blame yourself. If a person is rude, guard your heart. If a person is controlling or demeaning, protect yourself. And, I’ll be the first to admit, this person has been me. When I act this way it is because I’m feeling depleted of love, tired, angry, over it. I’m needing refueled. I’m feeling unappreciated, unhappy, unloved. Many people who act this way, don’t realize this is the case. They don’t want to talk it out. They don’t want to be friends. They don’t want to share or trust. They just want to be left alone. If this is someone you love, respect, and admire, this is extra hard. Especially as daughters, if it is our dad, we crave this so much that we may inadvertently date and marry guys with similar characteristics in hopes of breaking a barrier that shouldn’t have to be broken in the first place. Trying to earn their love, approval, compassion.

Learn what love is and what love is not. Learn from Jesus. Watch their fruit. Pay attention to how they treat others. Be forgiving and merciful yourself. Most people are doing the best they know to do on any given day. Try to be a friend/coworker/sister/mom/spouse who displays this kind of love. How else will your children learn if they don’t see it for themselves? You can find that answer in the last sentence of paragraph two.

Perfect love does not come from our human relationships because we are all imperfect. But, by leaning into and immersing ourselves in the perfect love of God, we can have healthier, closer, and more genuine relationships with each other. Real love opens the gates of mercy, honesty, understanding, forgiveness, grace, and endurance.

The ultimate love we crave comes from Jesus who bled and died for us. Jesus, who when asked, loves to give love advice and has. Read about Him and how he treated others. All races, all sins, all diseases, all professions, all intellects. All social classes. He loved them all. And, He still does.

His love is why I write. His love is how we give and receive the love we crave to and from each other. His love is how we love ourselves properly. His love is why we’re here today. His love is why we’ll be in heaven forever. His love has been there all along. His love is the love we crave.

Daddies and Daughters

daddy

This is the best list that I’ve come across to explain the importance of how much daughters look to our daddies for love in the form of approval, acceptance, grace, tenderness, and direction. We CRAVE it. Our earthly fathers have a tremendous responsibility in shaping our hearts for the future. We look to you first for acceptance and approval (especially when we mess up). We look to you to determine our self worth.

Before we learn to seek and look to our Heavenly Father for our sense of worth, we look to YOU. This is why we tend to turn to men that treat us like you do for comfort and eventually marriage. This is why it is SO important when we are young for us to truly feel your love. If you get the privilege of raising a daughter or stepdaughter, learn to love her in her language (it’s probably different than yours), show her how to be treated and what to accept and not accept from a man, fess up when you mess up (this teaches us that humility is honorable), and tell her how beautiful she is (alot)! She will ALWAYS look up to you. She will learn about who God is to her by the way you treat and value her. She will ALWAYS love you fiercely.

Here is the list:

1. How you love me is how I will love myself.
2. Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer, I need to know you value me before I can understand my true value.
3. I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mom, whether you are married to her or not.
4. If you are angry with me, I feel it even if I don’t understand it, so talk to me.
5. Every time you show grace to me or someone else, I learn to trust God a little more.
6. I need to experience your nurturing physical strength, so I learn to trust the physicality of men.
7. Please don’t talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it’s something dirty.
8. When your tone is gentle, I understand what you are saying much better.
9. How you talk about female bodies when you’re ‘just joking’ is what I believe about my own.
10. How you handle my heart, is how I will allow it to be handled by others.
11. If you encourage me to find what brings joy, I will always seek it.
12. If you teach me what safe feels like when I’m with you, I will know better how to guard myself from men who are not.
13. Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more than dress size.
14. Let me say exactly what I want even if it’s wrong or silly, because I need to know having a strong voice is acceptable to you.
15. When I get older, if you seem afraid of my changing body, I will believe something is wrong with it.
16. If you understand contentment for yourself, so will I.
17. When I ask you to let go, please remain available; I will always come back and need you if you do.
18. If you demonstrate tenderness, I learn to embrace my own vulnerability rather than fear it.
19. When you let me help fix the car and paint the house, I will believe I can do anything a boy can do.
20. When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.
21. How you treat our dog when you think I’m not watching tells me more about you than does just about anything else.
22. Don’t let money be everything, or I learn not to respect it or you.
23. Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I need it so much to understand healthy touch.
24. Please don’t lie, because I believe what you say.
25. Don’t avoid hard conversations, because it makes me believe I’m not worth fighting for.

“It’s pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she’ll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now MATTERS for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.”

This is priceless information. So true!