Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love & Marriage?

My wonderful 17 year old high school senior had to give a speech (her final one) last week at school.  Tonight, she read it to me.
  AHEM, I was impressed. 
So impressed, in fact, I decided to share it with all of you guys.
  The topic of her speech may not apply directly to you anymore, but, quite possibly, you may be facing the "dating dilemma" with your children soon (-er than you would like). 
I hope you enjoy...
Love and Marriage?

The wedding day had finally come. Joy and excitement coursed through Angie as she slowly strode toward her handsome groom. He gently took a hold of her hand and they turned in unison toward the minister. However, as they started repeating their vows to one another, the unthinkable happened. A young woman stood up in the audience, walked toward the groom, and latched herself to his arm. Angie’s eyes widened in shock as half a dozen other girls slowly made their way towards her groom. “Angie,” he started, “I love you, and you know I do. I have dated these girls in my past. They mean nothing to me now, but I foolishly gave a little piece of my heart to each one of them.”

            Angie looked at him, bewildered, and with tears in her eyes said, “But I thought your heart was mine…”

            “It is! All that’s left of it is yours.” With that, Angie woke up from her dream.

In 2011, there were 2,118,000 marriages in the United States. This means that 6.8 out of 1,000 people in the total population got married. “But,” we may ask, “How many divorces were there in 2011?” The divorce rate for that year is 3.6 out of 1,000 people in the population. This means that for all the marriages instituted that year, almost half that number became divorced within the year. Not only is this situation difficult, it is pure torture for the children involved – no matter how old they are. The home where you grow up is your foundation for the adult that you will become one day. Consequently, the home that you provide for your future children will be their founding structure of who they become.

 Why is that divorce rate so high, anyway? To put it bluntly, young adults start practicing “divorce” at a young age. They get together with someone; give away part – if not all – of their heart. Then, when the going gets too rough, they break up. On this scale, the most people that this breakup can seriously harm are two – the two young adults involved. It also harms the close family and friends of the couple. The relationship, and the ending of it, leaves scars that are not necessarily visible to the eye. Nevertheless, these deep hurts will be carried for the rest of that individual’s life. As a person gets older, though, the commitment is greater, and therefore might become a marriage contract. Sure, the first few years might go pretty well and you might have a child or two. But what happens when the going gets tough and one person gives up on the other? It becomes another typical breakup. However, this time the hurts are on a scale of such magnitude that it hurts many people, including the children. It rocks the foundation of their home and forever alters who they will one day become. They are forced to choose one parent over the other, causing further hurt and division in the family.

“How.” You may ask, “Can this possibly be avoided? Everyone dates! It’s just what people do.” No, that is what the world says we should do. However, we are Christians. Is there a better way? We are the children of the Most High God. Do you think He wants you to go through all the pain, hurt, scars, and rejection that this world goes through? Of course not! Right now, as a young adult, you need to decide what direction you want your life to take. The Bible says to “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” And while this was Joshua speaking to the Israelites, God still wants us to make that decision. God’s purpose for you right now is to further your growth in Him as an individual. In Joshua Harris’ book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, he states that, “God gives us singleness – a season of our lives unmatched in its boundless opportunities for growth, learning, and service – and we view it as a chance to get bogged down in finding and keeping boyfriends and girlfriends.” God has called us to a way of higher living. This does not mean that we’re snobs, it means that we preserve our hearts for the one person that God wants us to be with. And yes, that person is actually out there. If you truly want God’s best for your life, you’ll very willingly let Him choose the right person for you to be with. Do you trust Him? Wouldn’t you rather have the everlasting pleasure of being loved more than the fleeting version of it that leaves scars and hurt? The key is to give God our full attention, focus, and loyalty. Mr. Harris puts it like this, “Why would you change your habits/attitude towards dating? Because the Christian with his or her eyes on the goal of sincere and intelligent love will find throwing out the world’s approach as no great sacrifice. Hebrews 12:1 says to throw off the weights and sins that so easily beset us. The attitude and practices of our culture’s dating relationships are unnecessary baggage that weighs us down.”

“What’s the alternative? Loneliness? Lifelong singleness? NO! Choosing to quit the dating game – and yes, it is a game – doesn’t mean rejecting friendship, companionship, or marriage with the opposite sex; we just choose to pursue them on God’s terms and in His own time.”

“Although we don’t sin when we look forward to marriage, we might be guilty of poor stewardship of our singleness when we allow a desire for something God obviously doesn’t have for us yet to rob our ability to enjoy and appreciate what He has given us. Dating plays a role in this dissatisfaction because it gives single people just enough (closeness to another person) to make them wish they had more.”

Furthermore, you need to realize that life does not end at the wedding. The wedding is just the party. Real life begins when all the sparkle has faded and you are spending the rest of your life with one other person. Make the “option” of divorce not an option in your life. Choose wisely in your life mate – or better yet, let God choose for you. He created the universe with all its billions of beings; don’t you think He can give you the best person with which He wants you to spend the rest of your life with?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Opportunities To Improve...The Bubble Story

Have you ever heard something that totally changes everything? 

Maybe it was some preacher on the radio or TV (do they still have televangelists??). 

Maybe you read it in a daily devotional, or saw it on some annoying Facebook inspirational post.

For me, it was in church.  Isn't that what church is for?  Score one for church!!!

Here is what was said that socked me square between the eyes & left me sitting in my seat wondering if everyone could see my shame & humiliation:

"Remember that your children need as much mercy & grace each day as you do."
I know. 
Take a minute.
  Read it again.
  It's a cold glass of water to the face, isn't it??
He went on, of course, to include spouses & others that we come into contact with on a daily basis, but THIS was the one that got to me.
I would love to say right here that I have always known & done this & then go on to tell you what wonderful successes I have had with my kids as a result.
But I can't.
*Hangs head in shame*
The crazy thing is, I KNEW God KNEW I got it. 
He was looking right at me when I heard it & then said,
 "YOU GOT THAT?????  GOOD!!!" 
So much pressure when you KNOW that you have just been shown your ugly self in a personalized hand mirror.
So.  Now that I have established that I had an "A HA" moment in church last Sunday, let me give a pristine example of how God made sure I was paying attention.
Picture this:
Mom tells child (not named in order to protect the guilty innocent) to load dishwasher & start it after lunch. 
Story Background:
This has been unnamed child's chore for pretty stinking close to eternity, but child has EXTREME difficulties in remembering to do the job, therefore leaving us with NO clean dishes for dinner (remember, we use our entire set of multi-chipped, mismatched dishes at each meal).  In order to drive this chore into the said child's memory, many weeks of hand-washing (Mom!!!  Really??  I have to use my hands????) have occurred.
Back to my story.
After reminding child of their duties, Mom goes to lie down with the babies youngest children because THEY need a nap EVERY day.  Ahem.  It makes THEM nicer people in the afternoon.  True story.
I digress....
When Mom rises, cheerful & refreshed, she enters kitchen to see....bubbles. 
{LOTS & LOTS & LOTS of bubbles.}
Mom freaks.
(Please read this in calm, even tones as this is how I want you to think I did it....)
"What, exactly, was your thought process here????"
"We were out of dishwasher soap, so I put dish soap in there."
"No kidding.  Ummmm, why didn't you ASK if this was an ok substitute???"
"You were sleeping."
"Why didn't you just not start it since we were out of soap????"
"Because you always get upset & I didn't want to spend a month washing dishes by hand."
THERE.  Right there.
Did you see that?
THAT, my friends, was a healthy slap of guilty truth right across my face!!
Would someone PLEASE put down that incriminating mirror????
The child was correct, and respectful about it, even.  I do get upset.  I like things to run smoothly, like a well-oiled machine, which is why God gave me 8 kids (note to self:  do future blog on God's sense of humor.)
When those words were uttered, I saw ME.  And I was embarrassed.  Then it happened, the words that were slammed in between my eyes the day before began dancing before my eyes.  This was my opportunity to show some grace for the mistake that had been made.  It was an honest mistake & one of those times that you think to yourself, "Self, why didn't you ever say that ONLY dishwasher soap is to be used in the dishwasher."  Oops.  My bad.  The child truly didn't know.  The child was trying to follow through with the job.  The child didn't want to be in trouble.  The child needed mercy.
Here it was:  OPPORTUNITY.
I had the opportunity to do this right.  So, I changed my tack.  I looked for the humor. 
WELL!  THERE IT WAS!!!  This situation was FULL of comedy!!! 

As I sat there surveying the massive quantities of bubbles, and wondered how do you clean this stuff up???, I realized that I had seen this only in movies.  And, they are just GONE in the next scene. 
Unfortunately, movies aren't a reliable source of reality, because, I didn't foresee a scene change coming up.
I sent the kid for the shop-vac & as the said kid was preparing to suck up foam, I pointed out two new truths about their life:
1.  You now know all soaps are NOT created equal.
2.  You have just given the family permission to LAUGH about this for the remainder of your days.
The kid & I laughed together at the validity of these two statements.  Ha Ha Ha.
The kid started telling me what I could do to help with the clean-up, to which I laughed (we were, after all, already at the point of seeing the humor in the situation) and replied,
"Ummm, NO.  I wouldn't want you to be robbed of the valuable lesson of cleaning up this mess."
I'm cool like that.
Object lessons ROCK!!!
Today is a new day & that SAME kid will be home in a few hours, and will MOST LIKELY need more mercy today as this kid is particularly needy in this area. 
I hope I remember BEFORE I freak out, because THAT would be progress!!!