“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever the cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost.”
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever the cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost.”
Okay so last Thursday wasn’t the Third Thursday.
But I thought it was.
I’m still claiming chemo brain anytime I can! After all, I need to get as much mileage out of that considering all I went through last year in my cancer journey!
So last Thursday I posted that it was the Third Thursday Blog Hop but it was actually the second Thursday so our bloggers weren’t linking up with me after all. But today IS the Third Thursday and they will be linking up!
You read my post last Thursday about having the power to inspire inside of each of us.
God has given us incredible power to influence the lives of others positively or negatively. The Bible says quite a lot about the influence we have particularly with our words, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” (Proverbs 16:24) and “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit,” (Proverbs 15:4) are just two of the reminders of the power we hold.
Hop around and find the encouragement you need to bring a positive influence to your spouse, your kids, and others in your circle of influence!
If you’re looking for a summer reading selection for you or you and your spouse, consider Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World. In fact, Hearts at Home is offering a FREE summer online study for the Screens and Teens. Pick up a copy, sign up, and join the discussion!
Dr. Kathy is also a speaker at our 2015 Hearts at Home conferences. Registration is now OPEN for our North Central Regional Conference in Rochester, MN, November 14-15, 2015.
Teens believe they need choice and that choices are their right for two primary reasons: the variety of the options always available to them and the drop-down menus used by so many technology tools, toys, and services.
For some kids, there’s a third cause. If they have premature freedom to make decisions and they regularly do what they want, freedom of choice will be their expectation. So, if we’ve prioritized happiness to keep the peace, and recognize we’ve contributed to the culture of “I don’t want that, I want this,” let’s own it and talk about it with our teens as we work to improve our relationship and their future.
Of course technology has contributed to this lie being believed by many, many young people. In one minute Instagram users post 216,000 new photos and YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video. You read that right—every minute we have 72 more hours of video to choose from. Spotify allows us to choose from among more than 20 million songs and iTunes Radio has more than 27 million. There are almost 1 billion websites. It’s no wonder teens believe the lie that they deserve choices!
Choice shows up everywhere. Like me, you may remember a time when there were just a few restaurants near your home. Going out to eat might have been a rare treat. In contrast, many of our children have eaten out often. Not only that, but think how the number of choices at these restaurants has increased over the years. Just thinking about the options at my local coffee bar makes my head spin.
There’s another contrast with the “old days” relevant to this lie. When I was a teen, biblical morality was the norm. There was great consistency in a community, and even in our country, as to what constituted right and wrong. This naturally decreased options and limited choices. Of course, not everybody thought then or thinks now that this is a good thing. However, we can’t deny that it narrowed choices.
When a teacher assigned a paper of 300 words due Tuesday, we wrote a paper that long and turned it in on Tuesday. When a youth pastor said permission slips needed to be turned in the Saturday before camp, we knew to turn ours in by then if we wanted to go. When a parent or grandparent asked us to help with the dishes, it would have been unthinkable to beg off or suggest someone else help instead.
What emotional responses are you having to these illustrations? Do you relate to a different time, or do you relate more to this generation of choices? Let’s find out more about this demand for choice and one way it’s affecting teens.
As appealing as choices are, and as necessary as teens believe they are, too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. Consider this. I have so many CDs on my desk that I sometimes don’t want to have to decide which one to listen to so I turn on the radio instead. I let the producer of that show make decisions for me. (Yes, it’s true: I still use ancient technology called a “CD player.” I paid for my CDs, my CD player still works, so I use them.) When it comes to too many choices, paralysis rather than liberation is a common occurrence.
1. We can help our teens know that it’s okay to change their minds sometimes. Many teens want to make right decisions and are afraid they’ll be wrong or they’ll change their mind. We can explain that changing their mind doesn’t mean they were wrong or they failed. It’s often the case that what is right today isn’t going to be right a month from now. Maybe the situation changed, or we’ve gained better information about people or a situation. Rethinking a decision doesn’t always mean the first decision was wrong.
2. We can provide helpful feedback so choosing doesn’t seem so overwhelming. We can help teens think through why a choice was wise or not. If it was unwise, was it because the choice was dangerous, selfish, immature, or lazy? We can help them analyze their wise decisions, too. What past experience guided them to a smart choice? Did they integrate your feedback into their thinking? Were they efficient, creative, or something else? We can also help them anticipate how similar thinking could be relevant to future decisions.
3. We can limit choices when possible. Because they are forced to make so many choices all the time, we can help them narrow down choices when possible. We might do this when looking at colleges or choosing classes at school. Rather than looking at all the options in front of them, narrow the choices to some of the best options for them. Talk about simple ways to disqualify options to make some choices easier.
Used with Permission. Copyright 2015 by Kathy Koch.
What about you? How have you helped your teens deal with choices?
Jill says: Even when you’re moving forward, it’s easy to want to bring up the past.
Mark says: It’s the human side of us that wants to throw something back into play that we settled in our heart or relationship a while ago.
Jill says: Just this past week, when Mark complimented me on being a “wonderful and thoughtful wife,” immediately I thought, “Well that’s not what you thought three years ago when you left me.” We weren’t arguing, we weren’t in a difficult place in our relationship, the affair is not something I even think of on a regular basis. Yet, that’s what came to my mind! Thankfully, I “took my thoughts captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and they didn’t exit my mouth! However, even the fact that they entered my heart had to be something I dealt with before God. Lord I’m sorry that I’m trying to dig up what you have redeemed.
Mark says: That happens to me as well. When Jill is stressed and says something in a sharp tone, I can easily get sucked into thinking, “I’m outta here. I don’t need this.” Even when things have been fine for months and there’s daily evidence that we’re doing well, my heart can quickly jump into the past and set up shop once again.
Jill says: In the Today’s Christian Woman article I wrote on rebuilding trust, I stated, “Mark didn’t need my tone of voice or choice of words to condemn, criticize, or punish him any further. Ultimately, we both had to resist the urge to react to one another in our hurt, responding instead with love and respect.”
Mark says: It doesn’t matter if what’s in the past is something big like an affair that happened years ago or it’s a conflict that happened and was resolved yesterday, we have to resist the urge to bring up the past. Forgiveness allows us to move forward, but in an effort of self-protection our heart longs to cling to the past.
We have to remember the part that spiritual warfare plays here. The enemy has come to “steal, kill, and destroy,” (John 10:10). There’s a battle for your marriage each and every day and we have to resist the urge to play into the enemy’s hand.
Jill says: Sometimes when we want to lash out at one another it can be because there was conflict that was really never resolved. However, much of the time, it creeps in even when it has been resolved, and even when forgiveness has been granted.
Don’t go relivin’ what you have forgiven. Those are the words I said to myself this week when I wanted to respond to Mark’s compliment with a snarky response.
Mark says: I do the same when I’m tempted to move the past into the present. It’s not always the easy thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.
What about you? What do you need to leave in the past? Where do you need to resist taking the bait?
“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”
She played the same three measures of music over and over again, hoping that one of these times would help her remember the next part of the song.
She persevered, but then I saw the wetness at the corner of her eyes.
I sat down on the piano bench next to her and helped her remain calm and move on to the next part of the song so that she could maintain her dignity and consider the recital performance a success.
As a music teacher, sometimes my presence, sometimes my words, and always my belief in the student provided just the inspiration needed in sometimes challenging moments.
As a wife and mother, those same things make a huge difference each and every day. In fact, I’ve come to understand that my words and the tone of my voice can do more than I realize. On one end of the spectrum my words and tone can tear down and on the other end of the spectrum, they can inspire.
God has given us incredible power to influence the lives of others positively or negatively. The Bible says quite alot about the influence we have particularly with our words, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” (Proverbs 16:24) and “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit,” (Proverbs 15:4) are just two of the reminders of the power we hold.
Today I’m linking up with other Hearts at Home Bloggers to grab hold of our power to inspire. You can hop around and find the encouragement you need to bring a positive influence to your spouse, your kids, and others in your circle of influence!
(If you receive my blog via email, you can find the blog hop links here!)
Have you ever experienced doubt in your faith journey? If we’re honest, I think many of us do!
Today’s post is from Ann Sullivan, the author of Permission to Doubt: One Woman’s Journey into a Thinking Faith.
I met Ann years ago when she was working alongside Stuart and Jill Briscoe at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
I believe the topic Ann shares on today will resonate with some of you and that’s why I wanted to share it and let you know about her great book on the subject!
As a university student away from home for the first time, exploring other cultures and beliefs, my faith began feeling dangerously inadequate, narrow-minded, and naïve. It wasn’t as though I wanted it that way. I wasn’t looking to make waves or get into heated debates like some of my classmates and philosophy professors. But I didn’t want to delude myself either, pinning my hopes on something that wasn’t real. I was hungry for truth and I needed answers, though I would have given anything not to have the questions in the first place.
I remember visiting my mother-in-law one afternoon soon after I graduated from college. I was still troubled by my doubts and looking for some kind of comfort, so I decided to broach the subject with her. She was an extraordinary person who was blessed with a cheery disposition and rarely complained. She’d grown up in her faith, was reared in parochial school, and rarely missed church. On that particular day, as my secret storm raged within me, I asked her if she ever questioned her faith. I watched for her reaction as she stood folding laundry still warm from the dryer. She paused, looked at me, and said, “No . . . never. We were taught not to ask questions.” Then, she resumed her chore contentedly as I sat in amazement, wondering why I couldn’t be more like her. Why was I tortured with so many questions? Why couldn’t I be satisfied with someone else doing my thinking for me?
Most of us spend the first decade of our lives believing everything our parents tell us. Up to that point, we typically trust them and take what they say at face value. In the second decade, things tend to change dramatically. Not only do we begin to challenge what our parents tell us, but we sometimes wonder if they’ve ever had a clue. It’s almost a rite of passage, I think to myself, every time I remind my kids how cool I was before they came along.
According to child psychologists the eventuality of separating is viewed not only as normal but as a healthy sign of developing independence. Exactly when this happens is different for everyone. I was nineteen when my sister walked into my room and asked why I was crying. When I told her my dad had said some things I didn’t agree with, she looked at me knowingly and asked, “Has it ever occurred to you that Dad might actually be wrong?” I stood there, realizing for the first time that no, it had not. I pondered for a few moments this strange new concept to which my sister was introducing me. It felt a bit disquieting at first but strangely liberating.
Thinking and asking questions is a good thing, but challenging a belief system isn’t easy. It’s risky and may force us to move outside the comfortable spaces we’ve set up for ourselves. And who knows what we’ll find there? From the first day of my panic disorder, doubt began chipping away at my faith and set me on a course I would never have chosen for myself. But from where I stand today as a communicator and teacher, I can’t think of better training. Nothing could have prepared me more than picking apart what I knew as truth and discovering for myself what was really worth clinging to and what wasn’t. My journey enabled me to understand a woman’s fear and look her straight in the eye and say, “I know exactly how you feel and it’s okay to feel that way.”
When deciding what to call my new book, I chose the title “Permission to Doubt” for one reason. We need to give ourselves permission to doubt! We tend to ask the difficult questions when life gets challenging, but that can become an important part of growing. God’s Word instructs us to stretch our minds and be ready to give a “reason” for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15). Doubt is nothing to be ashamed of or afraid. Instead, when doubts invade, we need to see them as an opportunity to grow. Recognizing the kind of doubt we’re struggling with is the first step.
We are all products of our environment, our siblings, our playground experiences, and our DNA. Each one impacts every aspect of our lives, including our ability to trust. In order to take full advantage of our times of doubt and develop an effective game plan that can use it to build a deeper faith, we need to first identify the type of doubt we’re experiencing.
If the old saying, “those who’ve never really doubted have never really believed” describes you; take heart! Doubt need not signal the end of faith. Sometimes it’s just the beginning.
What about you? Has doubt played any role in your spiritual journey?
It’s a question that lands in my email box two to three times a week since the No More Perfect Marriages blog series in January.
Unfortunately there are too many marriages dealing with unfaithfulness and people are looking for help.
The question I’m asked multiple times a week is “When you discovered the affair, did you contact the other woman? And then that question is usually followed up with “Have you forgiven her?”
Yes I did contact the other woman. I called her. It was a brief one-sided conversation that went something like this: ” I know what has been happening between you and my husband. I am calling on you to be a woman of integrity and to stop this relationship before a family is torn apart any further. I expect you to stop contacting my husband and to stop responding to his contact.”
She was divorced and if she had been married, I would have likely told her that if she didn’t break off the relationship, I would contact her husband. In this case, I didn’t have that option. I do have a friend who had a similar situation. Her communication to the “other person” included that she would contact the woman’s husband if it didn’t stop and that was enough motivation for the woman to break off the relationship.
Now I will say that in my case it didn’t appear to make a difference, but I still felt that it was important that I did it. It was a boundary line that needed to be drawn. I was fighting for my family.
As for the second question: Have I forgiven her? The answer is yes. I had to. I had to for three reasons:
1) Because God requires it. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Colossians 3:13b tells us, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
2) Because I did not want to become bitter. I didn’t want my heart to be cluttered and unavailable to God.
3) Because I wanted to move forward. I didn’t want to have one foot in the past while I was trying to move forward with my life.
Although it was not expected, nor do I believe needed, I did have the opportunity to communicate my forgiveness to her.
As with any challenge we face, we each have to look to God for direction. In the case of forgiveness, God’s word is clear. In the case of contacting the “other” person, the Bible does talk about accountability but mostly I had to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I felt prompted by the Lord to make the call and He gave me boldness and courage for the few minutes I needed to make that call.
When we walk through difficult seasons, sometimes there’s no “guidebook” on what to do. This is why having a relationship with God is so important. In John 14:26 Jesus says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things…” Romans 8:26 tells us, “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” I certainly felt weak and needed God to teach me what to do!
What about you? How has God led you during a hard season in your marriage?
“Motherhood is wonderful, rewarding, messy, noisy, and sometimes crazy ride, but it is worth is all.”
I’m guessing that nearly every mom has done it sometime over the past three days.
It’s easy to do. It’s human nature.
Women, particularly, are experts at this kind of comparison:We tend to compare our insides to other women’s outsides.
When we do that, we never measure up. Never.
If you’ve been looking at the pictures of Kate Middleton just hours after birth and wondering what’s wrong with you, you’re not alone.
However, if we insist on comparing, it should be insides to insides. In cases like this, that’s hard to do because royalty works to present only their best to the public. Yet there are some things that are a given with childbirth whether you see them or not:
Let’s face it, if you and I had our own entourage of hair, makeup, and fashion experts, we could look like Princess Kate did hours after birth. Anyone could.
However, we don’t have someone to do those things for us, so most of us have never experienced looking “public ready” hours after birth. In fact, the beautiful thing is that we don’t have to.
We are able to enjoy the moment, let our body heal, and bask in the joy of the first hours of our newborn’s life without having to be “presentable” to the outside world.
As one friend who I quoted in No More Perfect Moms: Learn to Love Your Real Life put it, “The older I get, the closer I get to figuring out that there is no enviable life out there. I need to pay more attention to the blessings I have and less to the myopic illusion that others are better, and better off, than I am.”
The next time you’re tempted to compare your insides to another person’s outsides, remember that when the masks are stripped away, we’re not that different from each other after all.
“The way we love each other is the best evidence that Jesus is still alive.”
Dr. Kathy is a speaker at our 2015 Hearts at Home conferences. When Dr. Kathy talks, moms listen! She studies kids and has a heart for helping parents know their kids.
Dr. Kathy was my co-author on the Hearts at Home book No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are. I’m thrilled she chose to write Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World with us!
We are experiencing the culture of now.
Our teens think they can have what they want when they want it. Now. They have good reason because nowadays everything seems always to be available. Google. Siri. GPS. iTunes. Redbox. Netflix. Movies on Demand. DVR. Digital pictures. Facebook. Apps.
I remember when online shopping wasn’t available and shopping took time and effort. I remember the days before online streaming when videos had to be rented from a store; that meant I had to drive there, park, go in, search, choose something, wait in line, pay for it, drive home, watch it, and return it soon after. I can remember looking up numbers and addresses in actual, paper phone books—and unfolding paper maps to figure out how to get from here to there. The business of living took a lot of horsing around; it definitely wasn’t the culture of now.
When today’s teens don’t get what they want the way they want it right now, many complain and argue. They may accuse us of not caring for them. Subconsciously they may think our job is to keep them happy. Each of us, on the way to adulthood, developed some narcissistic tendencies. It’s considered a normal part of development. However, this generation has taken it to the extreme and the self-focus is lasting much longer.
The culture of now is a cause of self-centeredness. Smart phones have definitely contributed to this. Teens hate turning theirs off or to “silent” for even a short time. Many have FOMO—the fear of missing out. They want to know what’s going on as it’s happening. Now.
Let’s be honest: Some parents have FOMO, too. We have grown accustomed to knowing what’s going on in our friends’ lives through Facebook. We are used to real-time news and knowing what’s going on in the world. We’re afraid if we don’t log in we’ll miss out on something we need to know.
So what can we do to battle this culture of now—in our lives and in the lives of our teens? We can take some steps in the right direction. There’s hope for us and the next generation to learn that happiness is circumstantial but joy is eternal.
1. We can implement screen-free days and occasions. To combat self-centeredness that sometimes displays as a fear of missing out, we can institute days and places free from digital distractions. This forces us and our kids to truly interact. Our teens need to discover they can live without knowing constantly what’s going on with their friends. When the world doesn’t end and relationships don’t fail when they’ve been disconnected for a few hours, they realize they may have more freedom than they thought. No one’s happiness should be determined by how often they comment on posts or how quickly people text them back.
2. We can mentally note and carefully call attention to what happens during tech-free times. During planned tech-free times, make mental notes of how long it takes your children to calm down, focus, and engage with the family. See if you can find times when they are obviously enjoying themselves and forgetting their phones. Tactfully, without inordinate attention, encourage them to discover they’re happy without being tied to some screen or smart phone.
3. We can present them with opportunities to help and serve others. Nothing gets the focus off self better than directing focus on others! Getting out among people, especially with the goal of meeting others’ needs, will wake teens up to activities and events and people they may be missing. They will be reminded of the human side of this world and the needs around them. Whether it’s helping an elderly neighbor with yard work or serving a meal at the homeless shelter, our teens need to get a new perspective of what’s happening “now.”
Used with Permission. Copyright 2015 by Kathy Koch.
What about you? What strategies have you used to manage the screens in your home?
Today’s Marriage Monday is brought to us by Michelle Athens. Michelle is a Hearts at Home blogger who recently participated in our monthly blog hop. Her post was so powerful, I asked her if I could share it with you!
I would bet that most of us can see ourselves in her story in some way.
“Good morning.” He hesitated, but then bravely leaned in to kiss my cheek. I shrugged him off, still seething from an argument the night before.
“Leave me alone,” I hissed over the dishes I was washing. He backed away. “So we’re going to keep this fight going, huh?” He waited, but I offered nothing. I focused on the stream of water dividing around the cup in my hands.
Our five-year old daughter, eyes still swollen from sleep, wandered over to him, her arms raised. He scooped her up. She clung to his neck, melting into him like warm candle wax.
He kissed the top of her head, carried her into the living room, and dropped her neatly on the couch beside her big brother. He gathered his wallet and car keys and left for work, letting the front door slam behind him.
I let out a long deflating breath. My throat felt bruised from holding it all in. I dried my hands, making my way into the living room to flip on the television, hoping to keep the kids occupied until I could gather myself.
Over the earlier weeks, my husband and I had argued over everything from financial burdens to the way he slurped his coffee. I felt voids everywhere, convinced he wasn’t living up to be the husband I thought I needed.
Some days I’d cry out to God in frustration, “Don’t you see how he is failing me? When are you going to fix him?”
In response, God would consistently shine the light back on me, convicting me to change. My soul would scream in protest.
But why me, God? What about him? I am in the right, not him!
Eventually I’d stopped taking my complaints to God. But then, that morning…
I watched my daughter scoot across the couch towards my son, digging her tiny body in as close to him as she could get. She leaned into him, laying her head on his shoulder and draping her arm over his chest. She exhaled a blissful sigh as she settled in. I felt myself smiling genuinely for the first time in days.
But I noticed how my son’s body stiffened. The day before he’d caught her in his bedroom, dismantling some of his most prized Lego creations. Still harboring bitterness over it, he looked down at her with annoyance. In one exaggerated move, he rose up, throwing himself on the other end of the couch.
My daughter tried to steady herself as her head slipped off his shoulder and her body fell into the cushions. She sat up,confused looking after him. As the rejection slowly registered, her countenance crumbled. Her spirit seemed to collapse within her while my son stared indignantly at the television.
I felt disappointed in my son’s inability to rise above what she’d done and extend her some grace. I was in anguish for my daughter. My entire being wanted to protect her, revive her sense of value and mend her bruised spirit. Then God unveiled His heart in the gentlest whisper.
This is how I feel when you treat Bill that way.
Suddenly my perspective shifted in a way that rocked me to my core. That simple revelation, at that specific moment, was the perfect antidote for the crusty shell encasing my heart. It cracked wide open and revealed the simple bottom line. It was as if God himself had turned my chin, saying,
Your husband is also my child. Put me first and all else will fall into place.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37
Once I understood the significance of that verse, I was free to experience marriage the way God designed it.
It must start with a genuine love for God. It’s the power source that melts hearts, crushes attitudes and administers deep compassion for one another.
That’s why He must come first, above everything else.
When I consider all that God has done for me in the midst of my imperfections, grace is abundant. Forgiveness is swift and easy.
Now my husband is the runner-up, behind God, in the order of my heart and yet somehow, I love him more now, than I ever have before.
What about you? Do you need to love God more than your spouse?