Archive for August, 2008

Samaritan’s Purse

August 31, 2008

The other day I got a letter from Samaritan’s Purse.  It told about the opportunity to volunteer at one of six collection/distribution centers for Operation Christmas Child.  If you have never heard about it, every fall churches all over the nation collect shoeboxes filled with children’s toys, school supplies and candy to send to children in third world countries who would not otherwise receive a Christmas gift.  For many of the children, this is the first gift they have EVER received.  Anyway, I was all excited and contacted the three closest distribution centers to where I live.  I was amazed to find all the volunteer slots were already filled, and had been filled a week after registration opened.  Well, I thought, I will surely get my registration in early next year.  I really WANT to be part of this–just once anyway.

Who are the people who will come hundreds of miles, pay their own transportation expenses and their own hotel bills to work in a distribution warehouse?  They are families, church groups, youth groups, college groups, grandmas and grandpas, and well, just about anybody you can imagine who can afford to travel, or else lives in the same city as the distribution warehouse.  People actually plan vacations around doing this.  What do they do?  They go through each and every box to make sure the gifts are age-appropriate and safe, sort according to age and sex, wrap bundles in plastic, pack bundles in shipping boxes, and load trucks.  Not exactly glamorous work.  But, they “whistle while they work” literally and figuratively.  They love the feeling of being a part of something bigger than they are.  They love knowing that some little kids who have never had a Christmas will have one this year.  They are 65,000 strong, and they handled 7.5 MILLION shoeboxes (2007 statistics).  Hats off to Samaritan’s Purse, and Operation Christmas Child!

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Zelda

August 28, 2008

I just finished the book “Zelda” by Nancy Milford.  Its actually about forty years old, and I read it about forty years ago, although it means a lot more to me now that I’m older.  Zelda wasthe wife of the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.  They evidently were quite a pair in their day–always hitting the headlines for something outrageous.  She was the Brittney Spears or Madonna of her day, although she was not an entertainer. 

Zelda was raised as the much spoiled baby of the family.  Her father rarely paid any attention to her.  Her mother doted on her, thought everything she did was charming, paid much attention to the daring, or sassy things her daughter did as though they indicated genius.  Zelda was a young woman with no sense of purpose in her life other than to attract attention and to do things for effect.  It helped that she was very beautiful and intelligent.  She married F. Scott Fitzgerald when she was still a teenager, and his fame and wealth came too early for either of them to handle.  The marriage was almost doomed from the start.  Scott Fitzgerald was wrapped up in his writing and his friends.  Zelda was expected to fend for herself when Scott was writing, which really went against her grain.  She was always the center of attention in her family and hometown.  She had never learned to make real friends, but instead saw people as an audience to be worked.  She had a child while quite young, and because of their wealth was able to have nannys for her daughter, hence never really developing a significant mother-daughter attachment.  She had an affair of sorts during one particularly busy summer of writing for Scott, and that was a turning point for the worse in their marriage. 

Scott, for his part, was so wrapped up in his writing and his friendships he failed to see Zelda as having needs.  She was supposed to be available to him, but not need him too much.  As time went on, partying and alcohol became more and more of the fabric of their lives, and their lives became emptier.  Zelda was very jealous of Scott and began to try to have something in which she excelled so that he wouldn’t in any way be superior to her.  She tried and exhausted herself trying to be a ballerina, when she hadn’t the talent for it.  She tried writing, and indeed she and Scott became enemies, fighting over who owned the history of their lives which they were both using as their writing material.  Eventually they were destroying each other.

The authors premise was that Zelda was suffering from a “boredom of the soul”.  She never seemed to have a purpose other than her own promotion and her own pleasure.  She always said she was an eternal flapper.  To her a flapper was someone who always did whatever she wanted and took risks to get whatever she wanted.  Ultimately the utter selfishness, along with heavy drinking, slowly became her undoing.  The authors premise was that a person who draws so far into themselves that their communication becomes understood only to themselves goes mad.  Zelda did.

Burnout

August 24, 2008

Do young moms experience “burnout”.  Yes, there were times when, as much as I loved my little ones, I thought I would be ready for the “looney bin” if I didn’t get away for awhile.

I know its hard to come up with money, but we had a “fun” jar.  Whatever I could save went into the “fun” jar, and when we had enough, we got a sitter and got out of the zoo.  If you have someone you can leave your kids with–a grandma, aunt, or someone, then you don’t have to save for a sitter.  When someone asks you what you want for Christmas or your birthday, tell them “babysitting”.  You can also check out “Mothers morning out”.  A lot of large churches have it, and you don’t have to be a member of the church to sign your kids up. It just gives you 3 or 4 hours to be ALONE. You can do whatever you want that morning. I found that my “mothers morning out” plus a date with my husband once every 3 or 4 weeks kept my sanity. Also remind yourself what my dad used to say “every day in every way its getting better and better.” Some days may seem worse, but overall it does get better and better as they grow older and more independent.

Marie

Precious Babies

August 24, 2008

Someone asked me what you would say to a mom who has just found out from an ultrasound that her baby may have Downs or Dwarfism.

Sometimes I wish we didn’t have all this technology.  It seems to make it harder by adding worry and subtracting from the joy she should be feeling right now.  She is going to love that baby when she gets it in her arms and will love it more and more each day when she gets it home.  Does she know if its a boy or girl?  Has she a name for it?  I have known students with dwarfism, and have taught some quite fabulous Downs children.  Tell her to please concentrate on everything that is good.  This child will have a good life.  She will also have a good life as a mom.  Take each day as it comes, each year as it comes, and enjoy!  I always said the secret of happiness is to make a big deal out of the good stuff and a little deal out of the bad stuff.  Think of the child first, and then take care of yourself by enjoying all the good stuff to the fullest.  Most of your life with your child will be good stuff.  Anyone who has had “normal” children who get into destructive behaviors knows there’s heartbreak there, so there’s no promises, ever, in parenting.  Remember these kids are a gift, and we get lots of help from the Giver, who knows them better than we do, and who also knows us parents better than we do too.

Prayer for a New School Year

August 24, 2008

Lord, please bless all our teacher friends and relatives as they make their way back to their classrooms for another year.  Help them to feel excitement and joy in the promise of a new start.  Give them everything they need to start their classes.  Give them all they need all year.  Give them imagination and creativity to make wonders out of what they do have.  Help them stretch their budgets and their supplies.  Give them wisdom all year.  Help them quickly spot the little souls who are going to need something extra from them this year.  Help them have just the right words of encouragement for each student.  Give them loads of love.  Help the love in their hearts just overflow so they always have plenty to spare.  We can’t conjure it up Lord, but you give in abundance..please supply all the love teachers need.  Please supply them energy too, Lord.  Please let them sleep well at night so they are rested and refreshed each morning.  Don’t let them take their problems and worries to bed with them at night.  Give them patience with students, with parents, and with their administration.  Again, Lord, its you who supplies in abundance.  Please keep the students and teachers safe this year.  Keep them safe from accidents or evil intent.  Let the students be excited about this wonderful world and all there is to learn about it.  Help them to be interested in each other, for there’s a wealth to learn about and from each other, and this is true for teachers and parents as well.  Give the parents willing hearts, both to help in the classroom if they can, and certainly to be involved in their children’s homework and in their stories as the year goes on.  Let this be a truly wonderful year for everyone involved in education.  Let everyone feel, at the end of the year, that they learned all they could and gave the best they had.

Baby Tiger

August 22, 2008

My daughter-in-law Marie has been having serious issues with her son and his wife.  I have written about this in previous posts.  Marie has seen a family counselor to help her cope with her own anxiety and difficulties.  The family counselor has suggested Marie’s daughter in law has behavior in common with borderline personality disorder, and even if that is not the case, Marie could find a lot of help in borderline personality disorder websites.  The counselor also told Marie something I find helpful in my own life.  I am probably codependent myself.  I am a “fixer”.  I like to think I can make things better for people, that I can help them find their answers, and that my love will somehow be healing.  I have bumped up against some tough folks in my life who just don’t respond to any of my “niceness”.  Anyway, here’s what the counselor told Marie.

Your son has brought a baby tiger into your garden.  She is a beautiful creature, and quite magnificent in many ways.  However, she has been severely injured.  The injury just doesn’t seem to be healing, and she is very protective of herself.  The injury isn’t your fault–it happened a long time ago.  However, both your son and youself are in danger if you get too close to her.  She is so defensive of her wounds that she will bite and shred you whenever you get too close.  Often you won’t see it coming, because you will feel she is trusting you more and you are succeeding.  It will be particularly difficult when you watch her bite and shred your son, but if you get involved, you may be seriously injured yourself.  Don’t blame her for what she is.  She is badly wounded.  All you can do is hope one day she will allow someone to get close who is trained to help her.  Meanwhile, you are not that person!  Take care of yourself first.  And remember, if she has cubs, she may well get worse.  She may not let you near the cubs.

Not exactly full of hope for a “fixer”, but still it helps me to have compassion for people like this in my life, instead of being angry or bitter toward them.

Personality disorders

August 16, 2008

Someone talked to me the other day about a neighbor who complains about little things, swears at them, threatens them and is even rude to their visitors.  They can’t really put a finger on what they have done to provoke the behavior, but they are about to explode.  If you have had a similar experience with someone, it probably helps to remember that this isn’t about you.    This individual may have a personality disorder.  These are people who have a common set of behaviors involving hostility, blaming, playing the victim, making accusations, exaggerating the truth, vindictiveness, etc which can really escalate and get very crazy. You really don’t want to be involved with them at all.  People with these disorders may cause you all kinds of damage, run a distortion campaign against you, cause you legal problems etc.  Any confrontation you have will give them the justification (in their mind) to go all out against you.  Ignore them at all costs, and if that doesn’t work, you may want to consider moving away from the situation.  I’m reminded of the game kids play.  They will do all sorts of provocative things to another child–take their toys, poke them, hit them, make rude remarks, etc.  When the victim finally responds, all the stops come out.  The little provocateur screams bloody murder, accuses the victim of harrassing THEM, feigns injury, tells lies, and feels entirely justified because their victim responded to their initial provocations.  If they can create a big enough scene to get their victim in some sort of trouble with the pertinent authorities, so much the better.  People with a personality disorder play this same kind of game on a grander scale.  You can’t win as they are so good at what they do– you are better off leaving the situation.  (By the way, this game is also played for custody and money in divorce courts from coast to coast.)

One thing you can do is what Jesus taught.  “Pray for your enemies”.  God is still in the miracle business, and when He heals this load of anger, its a miracle indeed.

What is the Unpardonable Sin?

August 16, 2008

I would say that its unpardonable to commit blasphemy.  I believe blasphemy is pushing away the truth God has shown you because you do not want Him.  Satan didn’t have to have faith.  He was in the presence of God, yet refused to recognize his dependence on God or all He owed God.  He set himself up in rebellion, wanting to be like God. Eve ate the fruit offered by Satan because she wanted to “be like God”, however her sin wasn’t blasphemy because the bible clearly says she was deceived.  In the same way, I would hesitate to call suicide the unpardonable sin, because so often people who are suicidal are in so much pain they aren’t thinking clearly at all.  Blasphemy is an “eyes wide open” kind of sin.  Its going nose to nose with God and saying “I will not serve You”.  There is no confusion, lack of faith or pain involved.  Its just outright defiance, ultimately self serving and ultimate sinful pride.

Does Church Make a Person Better?

August 16, 2008

I think there are a lot of people going to church to try to make themselves feel better.  Some will be self-righteous to feel better.  Some will be super-legalistic, sure they are ok if they keep a million little rules.  The ones who really know their Lord, who have been touched by Him, who talk to him daily, listen to Him and let Him love them, will in turn love others.  They won’t be perfect, but they will be different and you will see it in the good and loving way they live their lives.  They may or may not be in church, but they will have had a life changing experience with their Lord.

An Unbelieving Spouse

August 16, 2008

I was saved about 3 years into our marriage.  I think my husband felt betrayed that he was getting something he hadn’t bargained for.  He really didn’t like churches or pastors.  However, he never told me not to go to church.  I followed the advice in Peter’s first epistle.  I just loved my husband and concentrated on being the best Christian woman, wife and mother I could be.  I didn’t nag my husband to go to church with me, and prayed instead.  I did tell him about things I heard in church that seemed really exciting, positive and hopeful–especially things that related to raising children or practical living, but didn’t “preach”.  I took the kids to church with me.  I waited 13 years, and during that time we both grew and so did our marriage.  When my husband finally made the decision to accept Christ, it was through talking to another man whom I’m convinced God had put into his path.  God does the work, we just have to be faithful.  I always loved this verse “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”  (I Cor 7:14)  Its a mystery to me exactly what that means.   I believe it generally means God has your spouse in his sight, and He’s got both of you covered, because your marriage makes you “one flesh” and your relationship with Christ makes you and your marriage holy.  Being in that holy marriage kind of singles out your spouse for some special attention from God.