Sunday, January 29, 2017
Do you ever discount your roots, your early beginnings? Do you attempt to trade them off or belittle them?
Statements like ‘when we were young, Mom and Dad would only do . . . or we never had . . .’
We didn’t get a chance to , . .
We only went to . . . or never ever did . . .
We attended a church that just didn’t seem to . . .
I attended a school where we couldn’t . . .
As a child, I was never . . .
Why do you think people put down particular situations? Is it because we compare our experience to someone else’s? Are we missing something? Could it be we've failed to find the golden nuggets in them? Take any of the above sentences and turn them around to be a positive and see if it adds to the time and space.
Do we discount previous periods in our life when we achieve a new level of understanding? Sometimes it’s very honest to think others may have walked a similar path. Even though the new road is exciting, the previous one served a purpose.
When I accomplished several quality oil paintings, I was very critical of myself. I often said foolish statements such as “I wish I had of . . .” or ‘if I’d tried something simpler, I could have . . . “ To be truthful, I thought I’d learned all there was to know, well, until I painted my next picture. And then I’d stand back, admire it and say something like, “To think I had it all figured out, but now I . . . “
What I was failing to see in each one of those earlier painting was the next experience of learning. Connecting with God-given gifts of expressing self was an ongoing lesson. Even after painting one painting, I could have called myself a painter, had I had more confidence.
Good painter, bad painter? I learned not to judge as each picture exposed a particular part of my personality or character.
Recently I’ve been part of a grief anthology published by Angel Hope Publishing (Glynis Belec). I often remembered times when I said, “I still don’t have this grief-thing figured out.” Yet, each death in our family or among my friends taught me something significant. And they will continue to open my understanding.
Over the last week, I looked for a message I gave to the congregation when I was Sunday school superintendent. This was 1978 in a small country church. Do I discount that experience because I've had ah ha moments since that time? Not on your life! I decided today, I will use it for an outline for a new study book.
Coming back to my initial ‘not quite up to . . . what?' That’s the big question.
"I have only a handful of flour in a ·jar [bowl] and only a little olive oil in a jug . . .” (1 Kings 17:12) But it was significant, wasn't it?
Saturday, January 28, 2017
It broke my heart when I clicked on the link. One of my former students who is now in University posted it. She’s a good girl with a lot of sense and compassion so when she was a little up in arms, I thought I would see from whence her anger came. She’d posted a Dr. Phil clip on social media, showing a mother berating her child with words no parent should use followed by extreme physical punishment. It included forcing her son to put hot sauce in his mouth followed by orders for him to strip naked and stand in afreezing cold shower. The young lad’s screams tore my heart.
I knew it was a TV show. I wondered, then, why on earth would anyone tape something so vicious and then send it in to a TV program. Was there monetary gain? I never watched the show, of course, because this was just one clip. I could easily turn away, but what tugged at my heart was that this happens all the time in many different ways. I had to respond.
Using 'weapons' to punish a child does not get the point across. It might stop the initial behaviour out of fear, but there are no lessons of 'why this is wrong' or 'why we don't behave like that'. It's just - that was your decision - here is your extreme physical punishment. That will work for a while, but soon a child will grow up to resent that and something very ugly seethes inside. Then when a child turns into an adult, and he/she hasn't learned anything about having good character or making good choices (or bad choices with consequences) then there is little or no character development. And the cycle continues.
I certainly don't mean we should shrug off the bad behaviour or blame the teacher or 'others'. But there are other ways. I always wanted my children to know they could be safe with me, even in their troubles. And if they did something wrong, they knew there would be consequences - but they also knew that there would be conversations with the consequences that involved patience and good listening. We need to teach children self-control first. Lashing out with something that demeans (the cold shower for instance where the chlld has to strip and be forced to endure such a frightening experience) is a terrible treatment. A home and family should not be likened to being a prisoner where the child can hardly wait to grow up and leave home, but it should be a safe haven where a child can come home even when they’ve done something wrong, expecting consequences but an abiding love.
One of the worst punishments for a young child is to feel that they have disappointed their parent(s). That emotion doesn't even enter in when extreme physical punishment happens. Self preservation does. And it will override any feelings of remorse. And then no character development can happen because the child is too busy being fearful. Yes this kind of consequence can stop bad behaviour for a while but it can also kill a spirit and open up a big doorway to volatile behaviour in later life.
No, I don’t know all the details of the ‘crime’ except this little boy (looked about 7 or 8) came home with a ‘yellow card’ which meant he got into trouble in school. Through his little whimpers on the clip, it sounded like he got into a fight with another boy about pencils. I didn’t need to see the whole tape. I saw the heart of the mother and it wasn’t pretty.
I wonder if ‘Jesus wept’ again.
Then it made me think about how we handle trouble in this world – as adults. Do we lash out and point fingers, hurling insults and dividing families? Those can be vicious weapons, too. Sticks and stones might hurt our bones but calling names DOES hurt. Knife wielding hurting people stab others because they want something – money, drugs, revenge. Gun-toting individuals think it is their right to shoot to get what they want. Who do we blame?
A parent who constantly criticizes and demeans their own child is setting that child up for trouble. It’s not always the case, but often bitter, angry, rebellious children who seek a sense of belonging outside the home are a product of poor parenting by bitter, angry parents.
What happened to love and respect? Patience and character building? Children misbehave. That’s not new news. (Psalm 51:5: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin my mother conceived me.) And parenting is not easy. That’s not new news, either.
I am not proposing a Pollyanna world, but I am proposing that it begins at home. Imagine what the world might be like if we really practised our own Ten Commandments of Parenting.
Psalms 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb a reward.
2. Thou shalt not incite anger in my child, but rather find ways to extend love, grace and hope. Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
3. Thou shalt teach my child about the love of God, including fair and acceptable behaviour using the Word of God as a guide.
Deuteronomy 6:6–7 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
4. Thou shalt set boundaries for my child and limits for his or her age, but if a child decides to extend themselves beyond the reasonable boundaries, then there will be fair consequences that won’t involve future mental anguish.
Proverbs 3:12 For the LORD reproves him whom he loves.
5. Thou shalt be responsible as a parent for modeling behaviour, always being aware that little eyes are watching and learning and imitating.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
6. Thou Shalt not take out my anger on a child; nor will I be worried about things beyond my control; instead I will pray and in turn my children will see this and know this is how to begin to handle matters that are tough.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7. Thou shalt always remember that God’s love never fails and no matter what my predicament as a parent, His love is steadfast and sure so I should often remind my child how God is always faithful and a safe place to be.
Lamentations 3:22–23 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
Matthew 6:34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
9. Thou shalt use my inside voice and be kind when talking to my child and then kind words will come easier if I exercise patience (and remind myself how patient God is with me.)
10. Thou shalt remember that when love is the driving force, the world becomes a better place. Happiness happens when love exists. Grace, peace and hope exist because with love as a foundation, the tendency is to want to please and not disappoint. Oh and the greatest … is love!
1 Corinthians 16:14 Do everything in love.
Glynis lives, loves, laughs and does an awful lot of reading, writing, publishing and praying in her home office.
Her latest children's book, JESUS LOVES ME WHEN I DANCE, celebrates and shows us that with Jesus Love, we'll never lose!
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
It’s difficult for me to ask for anything. After all I was raised in a German family where my father helped me build character by telling me to “figure it out.” I didn’t have Google and YouTube to guide me through unknown minefields so I learned to become self-reliant and resilient.
My first husband taught me to use words and “ask” when I wanted him to vacuum or help out in the kitchen after dinner. It was a magical revelation that saved me lots of frustration and angst. But, I always thought if someone loved you enough they would just know that you need help; why should you have to ask?
The Bible tells us to ask: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14: 14). I will never fully fathom the depth of God’s love for me or understand the mystery of prayer.
But if God loves me so much, can’t He just read my thoughts and make it happen?
In the last two months after the sudden death of my beloved second husband, my self-reliance and “figure it out” belief flew out the window. I needed help with my raw and fragmented life. I had to learn to ask.
“God please help me find someone to shovel my driveway.” God sent a mysterious angel and then a young man who shovelled my driveway all winter.
“God, where is that beeping noise coming from and how do I make it stop?’ God led me to the thermostat that needed new batteries.
“God, please heal my flu so that I can get me onto that plane this Christmas.” God nudged me that I needed to go to the Emergency Ward to discover that it wasn’t just the flu. God sent neighbours, friends and a great Doctor to uncover a more serious health condition that needed to be resolved quickly.
“God, how am I going to start cooking alone in this kitchen?” God sent a friend to stay with me for 3 days to help me organize some meals and renew my desire to create my own meals.
I asked and asked and asked.
“God, how do I find this? How do I fix this? God help me figure this out.” I still don’t understand why I have to ask, but I know that I do. Maybe He is trying to teach me that He has the whole world at my disposal, but like a huge bank account, He doesn’t want me to spend it all at once. Maybe He wants me to trust Him so that He can unleash my life in the way He designed me in my mother’s womb. Maybe, He wants me to let go of my stubborn, prideful self-reliance and learn to relax in His perfect plan for me life.
In this lifetime I will probably never understand why I have to ask. But I’m glad I do, because I know the One who holds the answers.
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at Amazon.ca; Amazon.com, Goodreads.com or her website: www.heartconnection.ca
Thursday, January 12, 2017
The heavy rain hit the skylight as though it was being tossed forcibly by the bucket full. A jagged ribbon of lightning lit the night sky and the thunder rumbled close at its heels. Am I talking about a mid-summer night’s storm? No this was last night—mid-January.
Since the beginning of 2017, the weather has been a wild roller-coaster ride. Days of sun and blue skies, days of deep cold, days of fog, days of snow and blowing snow, of closed roads and unsafe travel, of rain , of sub-zero temperatures and back—and we’re not even half way through January.
As I lay in bed to the tune of thunder and lightning, I began to compare it to another ride I’ve been on (and I surmise that I’m not the only one.) A thunder-bolt of grief a year after the death of my husband, the joy of seeing great-grandchildren growing and thriving, the sorrow of seeing a good friend enduring serious surgery and a week later developing Gillian Barre syndrome, the pleasure of seeing my 20 year-old granddaughter’s book published, the unexpected death of another dear friend, quiet moments of writing where inspiration comes as a surprise, walking alongside friends who are on the waiting list for a heart for their three month-old, and on and on it goes.
But that’s life, isn’t it—the good alternating with the challenging and excruciatingly difficult in our existence? That is the way life is, but it’s up to us what we do with it and how we manage to walk on. We can get bowed down with the load or we can put our hand ‘in the hand of the Man who stilled the waters.’
Sometimes when difficulties and trials come one after another, it feels as though we’re being tried by fire. Even that has an upside when we consider Zechariah 13:9 “I will bring those that remain through the fire and make them pure, as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call upon my name and I will hear them; I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
Thank you Lord, that I am yours and you, oh Lord are my God!
Ruth Smith Meyer is the author of two novels, "Not Easily Broken," "Not Far from the Tree," her memoirs, "Out of the Ordinary" and a children's book, "Tyson's Sad Bad Day." She is collaborating with five authors to write "Good Grief People" due to come out soon.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
This past week has been an exciting one as I distributed copies of my first picture book, Harry’s Trees, to my family. The book started as a way for my parents' great grandchildren to remember their great grandpa who died in May this past year. Some of the children are preschoolers and in early school age years, as my own grandchildren are, and may not remember him later, but it is my hope that they will enjoy the story and some day appreciate the legacy he left for them.
The theme of trees has been paramount in Dad’s life. He learned about them as a boy. They were Christmas trees; they were firewood to heat their home. They were a home for birds, a place to pick fruit, and as a boy, something to climb. They're a way of holding the earth in place, of cleaning the air. He learned lessons of life through them too, through the season changes and a place where squirrels climb and birds build their nests.
As Dad grew older, he learned more about trees, such as how to trim them when they were broken so that they might continue to thrive, and when they needed to come down. Just as important he taught us to name them and respect them as well.
Dad learned about grafting branches from one tree and putting them on another, much as doctors take an organ and transplant it into another body when the donor has died, so that someone else might have a second chance at a healthy life.
|Dad checking out the trees on a holiday in Jamaica|
Fellow writers offered much wonderful feedback on my story in various stages, such as arranging the story into seasons. I thank them all for their valuable suggestions.
As I celebrate this book, and the memories of Dad that it evokes, along with the vivid and colourful illustrations of my talented artist, Maja Wizor, I dedicate it to my father for all he gave us as we were growing up, especially the passion he shared of honouring God’s creation.
|a sample of illustrations within the book|
Carolyn R. Wilker, author of Once Upon a Sandbox and contributor to several anthologies, including Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon. Watch for Good Grief People book coming in late February.
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