Tag Archives: Parenting

Saved from Irrelevance: the MacBook and Me

This morning I was seriously thinking about walking away from blogging for the next 30 days, or so. Last night was just one of those nights when all the emotional energy I had was sapped out of me, leaving me awake this morning with little or no desire to be transparent, much less creative. So, what was one of the first things that came to mind? Walk away from blogging for a while.

Now, the big question is why would I think like that? Well, it’s not really that difficult to understand: I wanted to atone.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes we like to act destructively in order to relieve stress or pain? Some people do it by drinking too much and getting drunk, while others shoot up drugs or watch porn (is this hitting home with any of you?). Many people, if not most, find some temporary comfort in doing something harmful or self-abasing in order to either punish themselves for something they feel they did wrong, or just prove to themselves they are as bad as they feel. Both options are tragic in their own right.

Why am I writing this? Well, what I am doing is the opposite of what walking away from blogging would do – I’m trying to make a difference.

If you have gotten this far I congratulate you. Most people, in my experience, would have tuned out by now, thinking the subject matter of this post is too emotional, depressing, or something. However, I am not writing this for anyone’s entertainment; I’m writing it because I need to.

And if I ramble, that’s because I am writing with no agenda, no editing, just to get this off my chest.

Anyway, last night was one of those nights that drained me, like I said. It was a night full of family drama, the kind parents sometimes have to go through when there are teens and young adults in the family. It’s that parenting thing that can be so hard…and the struggles within a marriage relationship…when multiple people get together, have differing opinions, different communication skills, and struggle to see things eye-to-eye. The single life does have its advantages in that one can just walk away when things get tense or uncomfortable – but not family. Family is hard work, and painful, too.

So, I woke up this morning, ready to quit blogging for a while. It just seemed like a statement I could make that would make me feel better. Really, the truth is nothing more than what I really wanted to have control over something. We can’t control other people (not unless we are tyrants, or something). Life itself is often nothing more than a four-wheel skid in a generally predetermined direction. Therefore, had I just announced that I was going to quit blogging for a while, I would have at least given myself a temporary emotional boost, one that said something to the effect of, “You are in control!”

But only God is truly in control, you know? The best I can do is remain faithful in the life He has called me to live. I will make mistakes; I will do things I regret; I will say things without thinking; I will hurt feelings; I will give advice today that tomorrow I may regret; and that’s because I am human. Even king Solomon, the wisest man on earth, made mistakes; am I wiser than him? All I can do is “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In a broad application of Ecc. 12:14, God will handle the rest.

I don’t want to walk away from blogging – although I would like my posts to become ever more relevant and impactful. Just like this computer I am using this morning – one that I rescued from the trash – even though I am not the fastest, sharpest, most up-to-date, and all that, God want’s to take what I do have and put it to good use for His purposes. It’s a much better feeling knowing that something I am writing will make a small difference, rather than feeling that temporary gratification of being in “control.”

Lord willing, even thought I am not the best at it, tomorrow morning I am going to be preaching on the topic of prayer – specifically  “Prayer that Works.” Much of what I preach is nothing more than something I need to hear myself, and this will be no exception. And just like this blog post, one that is an attempt to show I don’t have everything under control, but I’m still making it through another day, tomorrow’s sermon will be an example of God using a flawed, imperfect example of humanity to showcase his glory and grace.

So, if nothing else, I’m thankful for this old computer, rescued from the trash heap, for giving me the urge to do a little bit more typing. God knows how He is going to use it. He’s the one in charge and in control, not me.

Our county school system had relegated this “outdated” MacBook to the trash, but I rescued it from the crusher. After a cleaning up and cleaning out, it still works fine, just a little slower than the new stuff – just like me 😉

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Parenting 301

I’ve heard it many times before, and I’ve even said it a time or ten myself, “Enjoy them while their young.” But as my children and I age, the truth of that statement becomes more profound with every day.

When they were young; when they were just wee little crumb-crunching Barney lovers; that was the time when we only thought we were pulling out our hair. Those were the days when babysitters were hard to find. Those were the days when milk got spilled and urine only leaked through diapers when you were wearing church clothes.

I’ve seen poor young moms, all frazzled and worn, look forward to the day when their terrible tikes could feed themselves, go to school, and go to the bathroom alone. Yet, if only those moms and dads could realize the physical stress of the moment is nothing compared to the emotional and spiritual stress of later years.

Those of you who still have small children, may I give you some sage advice? Those of you with children still at home, whether toddler or teen, will you listen to what I have to say?

Don’t waste a single minute, don’t even read to the end of this post, and get down on your knees and pray for your children.

I can’t tell you how much I wish I’d prayed more for my daughters. I can’t tell you how much my wife and I regret not praying for our girls every day, day after day, since before they were born. You might not be able to change the past, but would you change your future? Pray for your children!

We live in such an evil time, friends. Satan (I believe he is real) has never been more active in seeking the destruction of innocence. There is no way we can keep them from every danger, so we must intercede for them like their lives and souls depended on it…because they do.

We are in a war for the souls of our kids, and the only weapon proven effective in this conflict is the effectual, fervent prayers of righteous men and women. Are your prayers effective? Are they being fervently offered? Do you even care enough about your own life and character to be concerned if whether or not your prayers are being heard?

Again, we are in a war, a war of sedition, and the casualty rate is swallowing our sons and daughters!

Parenting 101 is easy stuff. Parenting 201 is the practical stuff. But Parenting 301, if there is such a thing, break your heart and bend your knees. If your not used to it, the fall to the floor is going to hurt – a lot.

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Been There, Done That…Now Listen

As many of you know, I now do a radio program that is a knock-off version of ProverialThought.com, my other blog.  What I do is share thoughts and reflections on a different proverb each week, and some of the content is based on what I’ve already written.

Well, in preparation for this Sunday’s broadcast, I was doing a little study this morning on Proverbs 4:11-12. There’s a lot in these two verses, and I’m looking forward to unpacking them.

The following is what I wrote back in 2012 for ProverbialThought.com (which is also included in the book).


Proverbs 4:11-12

“I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.”

A Way Walked

The first part of this passage is fairly simple to understand. In a moment of recollection, Solomon is reminding his children that he has given them good instruction; that he has led them.The best teachers are those who can say, “I have been down that road.” Sure, it is easy to give directions, but how much more valuable is the instruction when the teacher can relay first-hand experience?

As a bus driver, I drive the same route every day. I could draw a map that would be as accurate as one printed. But the difference between my map and an image from a satellite would be my knowledge of hazards unique to the vehicle. Unlike automobiles, 40 foot buses aren’t able to straighten some curves, or go under some bridges. Maps don’t usually show those things; but experience will.

Solomon is telling his children, as God is telling us, that the way ahead will be much easier if we listen to those who have gone before.

A Parental Challange

One interesting thing to note is where Solomon says “I have taught thee…” A deeper look at the word taught will show that it also means “to throw, to shoot.” Let this be a reminder – children are ours for a purpose.

In Psalm 127:5 David refers to children as “arrows” in a quiver. Arrows are worthless unless they are used. Arrows are worthless unless they are sharp, straight, and designed for a specific target. Children are to be considered tools with a mission, and we are to train them and keep them until we launch them toward their goals.

Straight, or Not?

Another interesting thing to consider is the word “straightened.” At first glance, we might consider the word here to mean the same as implied in the phrases “straight and narrow,” or “straight as an arrow.” Why, then, does Solomon say “thy steps shall not be straightened?” Does he want them to encounter curves along the way?

Actually, the word here is yatsar (Strong’s H3334), which can mean “to bind, be distressed, be in distress, be cramped, be narrow.” In reality, Solomon is saying that if one follows wise instruction, the way ahead will be less stressful, less binding, less depressing.

Thinking about this, I am immediately reminded of a particular place on the path through Rock City (a tourist attraction near Chattanooga, TN). It is called “fat man’s squeeze.” Seriously, if you are over 250 pounds, you might not make it through this narrow passage between two huge walls of rock. Yet, if you follow the signs along the way, you will be led to a different way around this “squeeze.”

If we would just follow wise counsel, the chances are much better that we will reach our goals, instead of stumbling or getting stuck along the way.

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The Day After Father’s Day

Please forgive me if there are any grammatical or spelling errors in this post, but I am talking into my iPhone as I’m walking around in the rain (The seven can handle that kind of stuff, thankfully), waiting while a bus driver trainee is taking his test at the DMV. I had to bring a school bus down for him to test own, so I’m on the clock and writing a post at the same time. What do you think about that?

Anyway, today is the day after Father’s Day, and I wanted to share with you a thought or two that I had as I was standing in the rain.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, and I enjoyed preaching a great message that was very convicting for all men present, including myself. And I also enjoyed spending time with my daughters who I love very much. 

One of our daughters lives in Charleston South Carolina, so she’s not able to be here. But the other two were in church with me yesterday, and then later for a lunch which a church member graciously provided the money for. 

Last night we ate dinner at home, late, and that is when my two younger girls gave me the presents that they purchased (with their own money!). I have included a picture below.


My youngest daughter, Haley, procured for me the complete box sets of the first two seasons of the television program called “The Unit.” And by the way, that was a fantastic series of which I think they should have never canceled.

The other daughter, Katie, brought back something very unique from Norway. She found a wallet made from the skin of the Nordic moose! I don’t know how much she paid for it, but I know it had to cost more than something I would’ve gotten at Walmart.

After both presents had been opened, Haley asked a question which was very difficult, if not impossible to answer. She asked, “Which one is your favorite?” Now, I don’t know if she was being facetious, or if she was being serious, but my wife quickly answered for me: “That’s like asking which one of you he loves the most; he loves you the same, just differently.” 

This morning as I was thinking about the gifts my daughters got me, and the question Haley asked, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Cain and Abel. I couldn’t help but think of Sunday morning and our worship. I couldn’t help but think of how so often we wonder if God loves us more or less than someone else, simply because of what we have to offer. I thought about what it must be like to be God the Father – our Abba – after a Sunday has passed. 

One of those gifts cost a lot of money (relatively speaking), while the others probably cost a lot less. However, based on the means of each daughter, both were a sacrifice. In the same way, when we go to church to worship God, the gifts and offerings we bring may cost one person a lot more than it cost another. But who are we to judge whether or not those gifts that were given were sacrificial? We don’t know the heart of the child, nor do we know the heart of the Father. All we can surely know is that if the gifts were given out of love, then they are of equal value. More so, if the Father truly loves his children, which He does, there’s nothing that can compare to those gifts given by the children who love Him.

So, in conclusion, this is not only the day after Father’s Day, this is the day after Sunday. What gifts of love did you give your Father in heaven yesterday? I have no doubt they are giving him a smile today.

Happy day after Father’s Day!

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Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

Happy Father’s Day!

Lord willing, my sermon for Father’s Day will be from the book of Joshua…

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15 KJV

There is a portrait of my family hanging in our living room with the above verse written below it. There is a lot to be said about a father who will say those words. There’s a lot to be said about a father who won’t.

Tuff Stuff

I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing a lengthy post, but I do want to leave you with a list I found in a sermon by a Wesleyan pastor, Bruce Howell. I don’t know if he came up with it or if he found it somewhere else. All I know is that it is convicting.

There will be a lot of people talking about how to be a better dad, but if you want to know how to fail, here are 10 sure-fire ways to screw up.

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

1. Have fights in front of your children. Then when guests come, turn around and act affectionate toward one another.
2. Stifle your children’s questions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
4. Never discipline your children; try to use psychology instead.
5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything their little hearts desire.
7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
8. Set a bad example so the children will not want to grow up to be like you.
9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.

Help us, Father God, to be more like you.


UPDATE: This morning I decided to add the outline I will be using today. Feel free to use it or share it.

TEN WAYS TO FAIL AS A FATHER

  1. Have fights in front of your children. Then when quests come, turn around and act affectionate toward one another.
    1. Be one – John 17:11 “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may beoneas we are.”
    2. Demonstrate Love consistently – “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” – Ephesians 5:25 “…and be not bitter against them.” – Colossians 3:19
    3. Don’t be a Hypocrite! – Matt. 23:27 “Woe unto you…”
  2. Stifle your children’s questions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
    1. Suffer the little children to come unto me – Lk18:16 “for such is the K. of God”
    2. Come boldly before the throne – Rom. 8:15 “We’ve not received a spirit of bondage unto fear…but…spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” 4:16, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need.”
  3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
    1. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. – James 4:4 KJV
    2. Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hathfriends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
  4. Never discipline your children; try to use psychology instead.
    1. Spare the rod, spoil the child (Prov. 3:12; 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:17; Heb. 12:6-8)
  5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
    1. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17 KJV
  6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything their little heart’s desire.
    1. God does say “No.” 2 Cor. 12:7-9; Jer. 29:11
  7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
    1. Created with purpose

  8. Set a bad example so the children will not want to grow up to be like you.
    1. “Take up your cross and follow me” (Luke 9:23)
  9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
    1. “All have sinned…” (Rom. 3:23)
  10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.
    1. “But as for ME and MY HOUSE, WE will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15)

Since its first publication many years ago, over 30 million copies of Charles M. Sheldon’s book In His Steps have been sold. In it Sheldon gives this testimony:

“In a log house on the prairie my father taught me to love the Bible. After breakfast every morning, the family would have a devotional time in the parlor. Each of us had a Bible of his own. Father would read two verses out loud from the chapter of the day. Then mother would read two verses and each of us would read two. Before five years were over, we read the whole Bible five times. I think I am the only man alive who has heard the whole Bible read five times. We never skipped, not even those long lists of worthies who begat one another. The minute we finished Revelation, father calmly turned back to Genesis and we went at it again. I want to repeat that my father taught me to love the Bible as the greatest book in the world. 

After we had read the Bible passages for the day, we would sing a hymn and then all kneel down while father offered the morning prayer. We are Scotch-Irish, and naturally father prayed as long as he liked. And he would often pray for us by name.

When I finally left home to go down East to college, I would often be tempted to do what some of the college boys did—swear, gamble, go to the bars, etc. Just as I was about to give way to my desires, I would hear my father’s morning prayer in the log house. It was enough to keep me from falling away from God.”

Gentlemen, we’ve got a job to do. 

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“Dad” A Guest Post by Dorissa Vanover

There are many deadlines approaching, and I would appreciate your prayers. Therefore, I will be posting more guest posts this week and following, To all of your who are submitting posts, thank you for helping out!

This week will feature posts in honor of Father’s Day.


Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover

He was my very first dancing partner. Giggling, I watched him as he twirled my mom around the living room. I knew my turn would come. And it always did.  He would smile at mom, take a step toward me and guide me into a two-step or a waltz. We’d laugh at my mis-steps and keep right on going. My mom and brother sometimes plowed right into my dad and me with their own dance moves. The little bumps didn’t matter though. We all knew we were meant to dance!

Dad was an upbeat, contented family man. He enjoyed spending time with my mom, my brother, and me. From him, I learned to treasure my family and friends and to make the most of each moment.

He was an unusually happy morning person. Unlike my dad, it takes me a while to get going in the mornings. I remember, so many times, waking up on school days when Dad would turn on the light and say, “Good morning, Sunshine!” or “Rise and shine!”  I just wanted him to hush and go away so I could bury my head under the covers a few minutes longer. If it was a weekend and we were going out of town to visit family, he’d say, “Get up now.  We’re burnin’ daylight!” He liked to get an early start on our weekend outings.

Dad must have convinced mom that mornings were happy times because they would get up very early, drink coffee, and play Wahoo (a marble game). We’re talking 5 or 5:30 am! Nobody wakes up ready to play a board game that early!  But my dad did.

He taught me to appreciate the mornings and the blessing of waking up to each new day.  I still don’t play Wahoo at sunrise, though.

Dad loved to get in the car and go. Driving to Kansas to visit relatives could take several hours more than the rest of us anticipated. We might as well not be too anxious to get to our destination because Dad was enjoying the ride.

If he saw a little farm house “just down that road a bit,” and he wanted to see it close up, that’s where he’d go. He became famous in our family for his detours. Sometimes, he got us all lost; but never for too long. We always wound up where we intended – just later than if he’d taken the direct route.

Those trips became good times for driving lessons for my brother and me. Dad would sit back in the passenger seat, close his eyes and off we’d go.  We knew he wasn’t sleeping and he’d help if we needed him to, but he also let us know he trusted us — and felt very confident that he had taught us well. Patient mom ― in the backseat hoping we really did know how to drive!

I loved those trips and I loved my dad for making them so much fun.

Dad worked hard to provide for us. He enjoyed his work and was thankful to have it.  He’s the one who taught me to like Mondays. It didn’t matter to him that most people rated Mondays pretty low on their list of favorite days. Every day had its own special joy and Mondays were no different.

Every night, he came through the front door whistling; glad to see us, happy to be home, and ready for an evening of family time. Our meals were at the same time each night. We’d take our places at the table, bow our heads for the blessing and visit about our day as we enjoyed the meals mom prepared. Sometimes, he would tell my brother and me, “Let’s give mom the night off and do the dishes for her.”  I imagine Mom loved those nights!

If my brother or I asked, Dad helped with homework.  Patiently, he explained math problems or quizzed us for an upcoming exam.

Sometimes, we’d all sit in the living room together and watch television.  There were three channels and all of the programs were “family friendly.”

Our home was cozy, comfortable, and secure.

Dad was of medium height and build, but he was always “bigger than life” to me.  As a very young girl, I knew if I needed anything, he would see that I had it. If I was in danger, he would protect me. Of course, he was my hero.

Once, during a tornado warning, we were at the park watching my brother play in a baseball game. One of my aunts was visiting us at the time. She was not accustomed to the shrill sounds of the sirens and she was absolutely terrified of tornadoes. On our way home, my aunt was so visibly upset that I became scared, too. When Dad got us all to our house and my aunt safely inside, he sat me down and said, “Sister, there is nothing for you to be afraid of. I will take care of you as long as I can, and when I can’t, God will.”  He was so calm and his voice so comforting that I immediately relaxed.

I’ve heard it said that an earthly father who is loving, compassionate, and kind makes it easier to comprehend the love of a Heavenly Father with those attributes. I knew my dad cherished me and he taught me to believe that my Heavenly Father treasured me even more.

As an adult, he often told me, “Sister, you’re pretty special.”  I always felt special when I was with my dad.

He entered his heavenly home in 1999. I am so thankful that God blessed me with such a wonderful dad.  The memories of him and the joyful times we shared always make me smile.

So, until we meet again, “Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  I love you with all my heart!”

 

 

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Childhood Wisdom?

Listen to the Children

I will never forget a commercial I saw on television. It was a long time ago, and I still get irritated. The main line that was repeated over and over was, “Listen to the children.”

Oh, it was one of those environmental, tree-hugging commercials that had little kids instructing adults how to live their lives. One little girl would say something like, “Don’t make me starve,” while another little boy would go on about how eating at McDonald’s would ruin the earth’s water supply – or something like that.

Anyway, every time a toddler would voice her scripted opinion a deep, male voice would echo in response, “Listen…to the children.” Yes, adults should listen to a 5-year-old because of her years of accumulated wisdom untainted by experience.

What Do they Say?

If we to listen to the little crumbcrunchers long enough, we will hear things like:

  • screaming kid“I don’t want to eat that, Mommy! I want cake!”  Listen…to the children.
  • “I don’t want to take bath!” Listen…to the children.
  • “If I was president, I would make everybody happy and would never have school and make parents buy every kid a unicorn and never have to go to bed and make the world like warm all the time with snow all year.”  Listen…to the children.
  • “All I want to do is go home, get some food, and play my video games all weekend!” Listen…to the…wait, an adult said that. 

AND did you know that children have figured out the whole gender (man/woman) thing? Believe it or not, according to the kids on my school bus, girls are smart, but boys are stupid. Here’s how they describe the difference:

“Girls go to college to get more knowledge.

Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider.”

Girls go to college, but boys go to Jupiter. Hmmm…may we ponder that for a moment?

  • What type of intelligence was required to put man on the moon?
  • Methane and ethane make up a tiny proportion o...What type of brain power was needed to land an un-manned rover on Mars?
  • What kind of genius will it require to send man four times the distance to the sun in order to view up-close the deadly storms of Jupiter?
  • Stupid boys can go to Jupiter while girls are still fighting over who should be sorority president – and who’s stupider?

Train ‘Em

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I gather from this verse that it is therefore the responsibility of the older, wiser, more responsible parent to teach the child.

They should listen to us. But what are we teaching?

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