Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Messing Up

From March 2011

I think one of the most difficult parts of being a parent for me is dealing with 3 kids who have tunnel vision.  They only see events and circumstances in terms of how it affects them, which is often at odds with the overall big picture for the family.  Most of the time they just can't seem to grasp that the plans and decisions my husband and I make for them are not some master scheme to make their lives more difficult and less fun, but are truly part of something bigger and better for them in the long run.  They complain and whine and argue more than I ever thought any children of mine ever would.  Seriously, those kinds of kids were the products of bad parenting and uninvolved parents, right?  Judge not...

Which brings me to my Bible reading for today.  My new Bible has a reading from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs every day, and each of the passages for today all pointed to stories of misinformed, bad judgment making, often whiny people who made bad decisions because they didn't see the bigger picture--that life is not all about them. 

The Old Testament story was from the book called Numbers.  It tells of a time when Moses and the Isrealites have been away from Egypt for over a year, but still not in the Promised Land that they were headed toward.  God had been using this time to give very specific details and instructions about what He required from each of His people, because He knew that they had to be prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually for when they actually went to the Promised Land, otherwise they would accept and follow the customs of the people who were already there.  Th0se people had their own ideas about gods and worship, which did not include the true God.  God, knowing the big picture, was getting them ready.  But the Isrealites, what did they do?  They complained.  A lot.  Today the complaint was about not having meat.  "Oh, Moses.  We are so hungry!  We never have anything good like we used to--fish, onions, melons.  You know, when we had it so good and easy in Egypt (You know, when we were SLAVES!).  All we have is manna, manna, manna--all day long."  Even Moses got in on the complaining:  "Why me, God?  Why do I have to deal with these whiny people?  I don't know why you have made them MY problem, God.  Can't you just give them meat and be done with it?".  My reading ended with God about to go off.  Seriously, had Moses never heard the story of Job?  It's supposed to be the oldest recorded story in the Bible, happening long before Moses was even born.  Did he not know that there are times when it is best to just back off?  And, for that matter, why have my kids not learned the same thing about me yet?

The next reading is one of the saddest in the whole Bible for me.  Jesus has been telling His disciples for several days that He is about to be killed, but they aren't getting it.  They happen to be having a meal when a lady comes in and breaks a jar of expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus.  I mean, picture it:  meals were definitely segregated by gender at that time, and in busts this girl (reportedly a 'bad girl' at that) who starts pouring stuff all over one of the men.  There is a lot of symbolism and backstory here, but the focus is on Judas's reaction.  He wasn't the only one that was angry. Several others went off on the lady, basically calling the whole thing wasteful and inappropriate.  Judas took the stance that it was a waste of money and that it could have been sold and the money given to the poor.  I've heard several commentators say that Judas probably really meant this, and wasn't just being goody-goody.  He was the disciple in charge of the group's money, which probably meant he was the most trustworthy of the twelve, so he would be the one with the most insight as to their finances and responsibilities.  He knew that the Passover was the next day and that there wasn't even any money to cover a place to have the meal together, much less the mandatory food involved.  By the way, Jesus took care of that problem just a few verses later...

So, this is the breaking point for Judas.  He leaves that meal and immediately goes to turn Jesus in.  This latest scene is just further proof for Judas that Jesus is not who He says He is, and that He has lost His mind.  When I was little, I just thought of Judas as the bad guy in this story.  The older I get, though, I see this disillusioned man who truly loved Jesus and believed in His vision--up to a point.  When Jesus's teaching became too impractical, he just couldn't follow through.  This is the lure of and disillision of money.  We can become so imprisoned to it that we lose sight of what really matters in God's economy, an economy that makes no sense in a world focused on 'stuff' instead of people and relationships.  I don't think Judas was money or power hungry.  I think he just didn't see the big picture, only his perception of it.

And then there is David.. King David.  He decided that he didn't have enough wives and concubines to satisfy his needs when he noticed a lady named Bathsheba.  The problem was that Bathsheba was already married.  Well, I guess it wasn't too big of a problem for David, because he brought her over anyway, and when she came up pregnant, he just had her husband killed.  David had lived a life full of God's presence and provision, and truly loved Him, but at this point had become too big for his own britches, so to speak.  He had forgotten that there are boundaries that God had placed on his life, until God sent a man named Nathan to remind him.  This Psalm is one of my favorites, because it shows David's brokenness about what all he has done, and his need for God to make him right again.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. 
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don't take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.

I love that last line:  and make me willing to obey you.  David got it.  He had messed up and only God could make that right.  He was restored.  Moses got it.  It took him a little longer and he still didn't make the wisest of decisions at times.  He didn't get to see the Promised Land, but he was restored.  And Judas--well, this one is tragic.  He did betray Jesus, and the weight of it all caused him to kill himself.  He couldn't get past what he had done, and didn't believe God enough to know that he could have been restored, too.

Three stories.  Three different outcomes.  All serve as reminders and examples that only God has the big picture in mind, and even when I don't understand the circumstances, He's got my back and wants what is best for me.  Maybe my kids aren't the only ones with tunnel vision issues.

 (taken from Numbers 11, Mark 14, and Psalm 51)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Being Mad at God

A re-post -- from February 2011

Today while I was driving from one appointment to another, I heard a radio interview that has really stayed with me.  It featured a lady named Rebecca Alonzo, and she was telling the story of her childhood that is detailed in her new book, The Devil in Pew Number Seven.  Her father was the pastor of a small church in North Carolina when she was a young child, and the thorn in his side was one of the men who attended his church, Mr. Watts.  Mr. Watts had ruled the church and the town with an iron fist until the new pastor came to town, and began a campaign to get rid of him from the very beginning.  When this didn't immediately happen, Mr. Watts began to stalk and harrass the family, to the point of bombing their house several times.

One day, Mr. Watts encouraged a neighbor to attack the pastor and his family, and on Easter Sunday, the neighbor walked in to the family dinner and shot Rebecca's parents.  She was 7 years old.  Her mother died immediately, and her father suffered injuries that ultimately led to his death a few years later.  Rebecca went on to tell what happened after that, with her and her brother going to live with her aunt, the subsequent trial with minimal punishment, and her intense confusion and anger with God.  It was a devastating story.  But then she made this statement, "I got to the point where I realized I needed God MORE than I needed to be mad at God".  Wow.  I know many adults that never come to this realization, and their life circumstances aren't nearly as tragic.  She was a teenager at the time, and has written this book in part to help others who find themselves in the same cycle of fear, anger, and confusion.  Yes--bad things happen, even tragic things.  Believers aren't immune to that.  At all.  And sometimes, just realizing that these things matter to God can make all the difference.  No, they might not change the circumstances, but they can change the outlook.

It's OK to be angry about circumstances, and I think it is even OK to be angry at God.  He understands and can handle it.  But how tragic it is when a person stays in that place, and remains distant from God because of it.

"I got to the point where I realized I needed God MORE than I needed to be mad at God".

You can read more of Rebecca's story at

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Different Kind of Getaway Weekend

When my oldest child was very young, I began to hear various Christian circles discuss things like daddy/daughter dates and purity rings.  This eventually branched off into topics such as courtship pledges and purity weekends.  It was all rather fascinating to me, because as a child of the 70s/80s, I am pretty sure that this was not on anyone's radar.  Or if it was, I was completely clueless about it all.

Time passed, and a couple of more children were added to the mix.  And every now and then, the parenting discussions related to raising modest and 'pure' (for lack of a better term) children in a culture that encourages anything but purity, would re-appear and redirect my thoughts along the lines of "I REALLY should think about doing something directed and specific to address these issues with my boys." 

Several years ago, I learned about a new project/program called Passport2Purity (P2P) on a radio show from a ministry called FamilyLife.  It sounded fascinating.  Someone had taken the initiative to develop a formal curriculum for parents that wanted to discuss issues related to adolescense....

But of course, life happens and distractions entered, not to mention a long bout with cancer thrown into the mix, and ideas like this just kept getting pushed onto the back burner.

THEN, the most unexpected email arrived asking if I would be interested in reviewing FamilyLife's Passport2Purity Getaway Kit, 3rd Edition.  And I absolutely DID want to review it.  Now I would have even fewer excuses for not following through with a weekend like this.  So, my husband and I decided to jump in and actually do this thing--officially with our pre-teen, and unofficially with our teenager who would be tagging along for the trip, because otherwise he would feel too 'old' for the program.  This way he was able to benefit from the same discussions and activities covertly.

The Explanation about the Getaway Kit:

Your child begins the journey into adolescence in a world of sexting, bullying, online stalking and moral defiance.  Innocence is under attack, and you cannot win the battle with a single awkward talk or a strict set of rules.  The primary defense for your child is a strong relationship with you and with God.  FamilyLife developed Passport2Purity (P2P) to assist you in building heart-to-heart communication with your preteen while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare him or her for the turbulent years ahead. 

 Through the shared listening experience, object lessons and guided conversations of a P2P weekend getaway, you can set your son or daughter on a journey of moral integrity - and strengthen the bond between you.  It is designed to be used by a mother and daughter or a father and son when the child is a preteen.  It is suggested that the materials be completed over a weekend away from home, as the child may be more open to discussing the topics away from his or her normal environment.  If this isn't possible, the material can be completed over a period of four or five weeks.

What is included in the Kit:

(1) Tour Guide for the parent
 (1) Travel Journal for the preteen including 25 follow-up devotions
 (8) CDs containing 5 sessions, scripture memory songs and downloadable MP3s:  Session 1: Beginning the Journey - Challenges, Traps, and Choices; Session 2: Running With The Herd - Friendships and Peer Pressure; Session 3: Ready For An Upgrade? - Changes in Him, Changes in Her; Session 4: Destination: Lé Pure - Setting Boundaries; Session 5: Crossing The Date Line - Seeing Dating Differently 

My Initial Impressions:

--The overall look and quality of the kit was very well done.  It looked inviting and user friendly.

--The student journal was colorful and inviting, and was organized in a visually appealing way.

--"Ooh, I really like this!"

Pre-Planning Impressions:

--The parent/planning information was easy to understand and not overwhelming.

--Checklists for items needed for the weekend, as well as a planning list, were included.  This was very helpful for a scattered planner like me.

--One of the suggestions was to have a type of gift to present at the end of the weekend.  There was even a list of suggestions for this, and the one that jumped out to me as a great suggestion was a toolbox with basic tools.  It turns out that this stood out for my husband as well, and this was the gift that he ended up choosing to purchase and present to our sons.  I thought that coincidence was pretty cool.

--I listened through all of the DVDs before passing them on to my husband, including the DVDs specifically for the girls.  They are incredibly well done.  The sessions include a mixture of adult conversation, teen/young adult interactions, music and guided interactions for parent and child.

--It was interesting for me to compare the different DVDs for boys and girls.  There were subtle content and production differences, such as music selections, that were another example of the time and quality that went into developing this program.

--The speakers did an excellent job of balancing presentation of content with the awkwardness that is inevitable when discussing specifics of anatomy, reproduction and sex.

--The session 'activities' were well thought out and added to the experience in a way that wasn't cheesy or watered down.

The Actual Weekend:

Since I have a willing and able husband (and no daughters), I was able to pass the actual weekend off to him.  I have only brief explanations of what all was discussed (that man code of silence and all), but from all indications, it was a success.  Now, what exactly that means to a pre-teen and a teenage boy is not all that clear to me, but they did have a great time, and my husband assures me that the content was covered and the discussions were very good.

Plus, they went on a really cool testosterone laced trip that involved over 10 miles of ziplining through some mini-mountains.

And even though both my husband and I have always loved the thought of presenting information like this in a clear and concerted way, I am not sure we would have actually taken the time to pull it off had it not been for having access to the Passport2Purity Getaway Kit.  I realize that probably just sounds like a plug I would make because I am doing the review anyway, but it just so happens to be true.

After the Weekend:

I can't pinpoint it, but there are small changes in my boys.  It is like they are slowly understanding and embracing their boyness/manhood.  I think the information they learned, as well as the discussions they had, will turn out to be cornerstones for many of the decisions they make from here on out, and the Getaway Kit is a huge part of that.

Plus, they both LOVE their new toolboxes.  It is almost as if they are channeling their inner Tim 'The Toolman' Taylor when they break it out every now and then.

Added Bonus:

I have a friend that just casually mentioned doing a girl weekend with her pre-teen daughter.  A couple of weeks ago I told her about the P2P Getaway Pack that I was finishing up with, and that she was more than welcome to borrow it and use it if she were interested.  Yesterday, I received this text from her:

"Just so you know...I had prayed specifically that someone would let me borrow passport to purity-so you are an answer to prayer!"

I just love that!

More Info:

There are plenty of ways to check out the P2P program/materials.  Here are a few of the different links:

Twitter: @FamilyLifeToday @DennisRainey @BarbaraRainey 

Plus, you can order directly from the official site and receive 25% off the getaway kit by using the promo code PASSPORT.  This promo code is good through 8/31/15.  

Extra Footnote:

If you happen to be reading through this with a heavy heart--you don't have an interested/involved/unselfish spouse, or time/money/willing or able child. or kind of 'missed your opportunity' for this, please know that this momma heart feels your pain.  Your life and your experiences matter, even if they are not going down they way you had planned.

Just thought some of you might need to know that today...

Disclaimer:  I received the Passport2Purity Getaway Kit from FlyBy Promotions for review purposes only.  No other compensation was received.