Wednesday, November 24, 2010

home is where the heart is.

Kids today have it really tough. Moms need to know that.

I don't believe there has ever been a time in history that the stress on their emotions (and ours) has been so difficult. Back in the day there was much more physical hard work that not only kept kids busy, but it was a way to cleanse their minds and lessen stress. We're wired to work and there is a reason for it. There is a feeling of fulfillment when we work. Kids today do not work. They have too much time on their hands. If they are not busy, the old adage "idle hands are the devil's workshop" applies.

Left to themselves, kids will find something to do and it often results in television and computer time which results in excess. There's an imbalance created when they are routinely fed by reality television,  defining who they are and their world view. Attitudes are imitated and brought into relationships resulting in over-the-top drama and stress.

Additionally,  the time spent on social networking, texting, instant chat/message, Facebook, Twitter ... hours and hours even into the wee hours of the morning sets them up for more imbalance.

Moms are managers of their homes and if you don't manage (not micro-manage) your kids' life they will certainly have unnecessary stress as they deal with the fall-out of excess. They are not equipped to do this alone. If mom is off doing her own thing, they are going to be left to figure it out alone. Many do not and I think it contributes to addictive behaviors, self injury, and suicide because of the rejection, bullying, and cruelty (which has been around since the beginning of time) is occurring more hours per day. That, along with more opportunities to compete in areas of appearance with the ease of digital photography and up-to-the-minute status updates exposes kids to more than kids have ever had to deal with. Without assistance, without guidance, kids left to their own will most likely not choose what is best for them.

Yet, it's not just setting boundaries. It's creating a home that is a refuge. This takes work. It doesn't just happen. It is forgoing your personal time. Yes, there is sacrifice involved and you've got it in you. I sincerely believe that kids need a safe place and what better than their home? And mom will have her eye on things, noting when something is amiss. You know your kids better than anyone. Some wear their hearts on their sleeve; others have to be drawn out. Either way, a home that is restful with a caring mother is more apt to help rather than hinder. Even if it's a strained relationship at times, the assurance of your ongoing presence in their lives is more important than they fully realize.

No one is going to notice the tear in your daughter's eye that she quickly wiped away, or the irritability that your son has lately, like you. And you have the goods to help. Even if we don't have the right words to say, our existence in the home provides stability to the instability caused by the stressful world we live in.

We all need peace from the noise. You don't have to have a perfectly run home. No one does. You just have to have a home that provides a refuge. The right words are not always going to be spoken. No every conflict will be resolved. But living in a peaceful home creates safety from the storms of life. Even if those storms are in your home at times, you can still create a refuge by setting the tone of caring, understanding, helping, and unconditional love.

Monday, November 22, 2010


My favorite people in history are the Pilgrims. I never tire of reading about them and telling my kids about them. They are examples of courage, endurance, and perseverance ... inspiring me to remember that life today has created alot of self-centered people.

What pregnant woman today would embark upon a wooden boat to travel across the ocean to an unknown land? And her baby was born on that boat.

It's imperative that we teach our children to live beyond today for the good of others and to live in a way that is larger than themselves. We may not be discovering new lands today, but we have our own personal conquests that must be claimed. Through it, we pass the baton to the next generation and teach them courage, endurance, and perseverance; all qualities that are necessary to preserve family and community.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

once a mom always a mom.

I have been needed with family matters and unable to write weekly.

Your children will always need guidance, even when they are adults. Tuck that in the back of your mind when you are with your little ones. Although the needs change they are always there. That's not a bad thing.

The principles I have lived by and taught my children are playing out right before my eyes. As young adults I see them building their lives on them. All the sacrifice, hard work, and tears were worth it. Because there is nothing more valuable in life than to walk in integrity no matter what happens to you.

Teach your children to choose right paths. They will be hit with storms in life ... but amidst sorrow, their heart will be strong and their mind at peace.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Not much talk today about sacrifice. We use it when it comes to the military, past and present, who sacrificed their lives for our country. It usually begins and ends there.

But there's a whole lot of personal sacrifice going on with everyday people like you and me. It's not readily noticed because to do so would diminish the very essence and intention of it.

Mothers are in this category. You are in this category.

If you are a mother of young children, you can be assured that your anchor is in place. You may feel that there is so much to learn and that's true. But the growth is not in the development of an anchor, you've already got one. It is the anchor going deeper until it finds complete stability. One day your children will grow up and lead lives of their own, requiring choices that are not yours. There will be happy times and sad times as you watch from a distance. It's easy to be happy when everyone around you does it the way you would. Not so easy when they don't. Especially if it's your kids.

Whether we realize it or not, being anchored, anchors them. We have spent 18 years advising, modeling, helping, teaching, guiding, sacrificing. The laying down of one's life has a cause and effect. It may not "speak" at this moment, but wait for it, it will speak. And for now, you may watch in sorrow and even horror at the choices your teenager and adult child makes. You continue to be that anchor. Steady, assured, dependable, and unmovable. God has designed you for this role and there is no greater privilege than to be a confident expression of this.

Don't lose heart, whatever you are facing. Be encouraged and go with your gut as you walk out each day. Above all things, love ... no matter what.  It is the greatest force on earth because real love is sacrificial, not dependent on the actions (or lack thereof) of the recipient. Avoiding, ignoring, disowning, escaping, and resisting will accomplish nothing. Decide now to face it head on. It is what it is. Now love. Love with an anchored strength that says, "No matter what I am here".

Monday, November 08, 2010

If you ever had a 9 year old boy you know what I mean. They want to be big boys and often let us know in many ways how big they are. But then there are those moments when you see the little boy innocence that you know one day will end.

My 9 year old likes to go out with his b-b gun and hunt pigeons. He's not afraid of snakes or frogs. He holds the door open for me. He is unusually attentive to my moods. I guess the baby of the family, the last of 8 children, has the opportunity to grow up a bit quicker.

But then he asks me, "Mom, can I ride the carousel?" He picks a black horse decorated with a red plume. He sits on it with such pride, around and around, and looks for me each time it circles. My eyes fill with tears as he smiles at me from ear to ear.

The end of innocence will come soon enough. But for now, I will bask in every moment as it comes.

Someone once told me, perhaps the brass ring everyone reaches for is the mother. I think it's true.

Friday, November 05, 2010


We all have them. Some of us are able to move on. Some of us are not. Most of us fall somewhere in-between.

Life happens to all of us and when we reconcile the fact that we live in a broken, imperfect world, we can find balance in not living with regret.

Elisabeth Elliot, a woman in her 80's, has been a mentor to me. Below are her thoughts about regret:


Title: Regrets

When my father was twelve years old he lost his left eye through disobedience. He had been forbidden to have firecrackers, but he sneaked out early in the morning of July 4, 1910, and, with the help of a
neighboring farmer, set off some dynamite caps. A piece of copper penetrated his eye.

Four years later my grandfather wrote this letter to my grandmother:


I am not one bit surprised that after all our experiences of the past four years you should suffer from sad memories, but I really do not believe for a moment that you should feel you have any occasion to let remorse bite into your life on account of Philip's accident. Surely we cannot guard against all the contingencies of this complex life, and no one who has poured out life as you have for each one of your children should let such regrets take hold.

None of us could be alive to the pressing needs of today if we should carry along with us the dark heaviness of any past, whether real or imagined. I know, dearest, that your Lord cannot wish anything of that sort for you, and I believe your steady, shining, and triumphant faith will lead you out through Him, into the richest experiences you have ever had. I believe that firmly.

I have had to turn to Him in helplessness today to overcome depression because of my failures. My Sunday School fiasco at Swarthmore bears down pretty hard. But that is not right. I must look ahead, and up, as you often tell me, and I will. I know how sickening remorse is, if anyone knows; yet I also know, as you do, the lift and relief of turning the whole matter over to Him. We must have more prayers and more study together, dearest. I haven't followed the impulses I have so often had in this.

Lovingly, your own Phil.

My grandfather was the most cheerful and serene man I knew in my childhood. It is hard for me to imagine his having had any cause for remorse or temptation to depression. This letter, which bears a two-cent stamp and a Philadelphia postmark, was sent to Grandma in Franconia, New Hampshire, where they had a lovely vacation house. I spent my childhood summers in that house. I can picture her sitting on the porch, perhaps on the anniversary of her son's accident, looking out toward Mounts
Lafayette, Bald, and Cannon, wrestling with the terrible thoughts of her own carelessness and failure. I thank God for my heritage. I thank Him for the word of His faithful servant Paul: "I concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead, I go straight for the goal--my reward the honor of being called by God in Christ."


There is a "letting go" when you trust that God is with you.  There is peace of mind knowing that the buck does not stop with you.

Monday, November 01, 2010


There was a tsunami in Indonesia this past week. A 2 month old was discovered alive in a storm drain. An 18 month old was found clinging to a small clump of trees for 3 days.

Stories like this cause us to pull our children closer to us, and so we should.

Yet, I must prepare you dear mother. Because for now, you may have your little ones near your watchful eye. That is a comforting feeling. But one day, you will not.

Have you ever planted a vegetable garden? You can carefully till the soil until it's soft and pliable. You can choose the best seeds and the best plants. You can add fertilizer and water faithfully. You can watch over it with utmost diligence, pulling out every weed as it pops its head above the soil.

But what if a hail storm comes? What if crows scratch at the dirt and steal the seeds? What if a rabbit or deer nibble at the new plantings? What if a late frost comes and damages your hard work?

Life is as unpredictable as this. Sometimes we step back and feel the satisfaction of a job well done. Sometimes,  no matter what we did to do a job well done, circumstances beyond our control come along and bring destruction.

There are seasons in life. Our culture places too much emphasis on input - output. While there is merit to this, we cannot..should not.. put all our confidence in this or we will be very disappointed.

One day, your children will make choices that you do not agree with. You may have taught and modeled something entirely different and will be shocked the first time it happens. Don't. Because they will do it again!

Enjoy this time if you are a mom with young children. It will change. Not for the worse, just different. And you will find yourself growing along with them as they grow. We can put the tools in their hands, but they must choose how to use them.