The ONE Thing That Made Me A Better Parent

FullSizeRenderMost people that have kids want to be better parents.  I’m one of those.  And, there’s lots of  books, podcasts, sermons, blog posts, relatives and friends to tell you how to do it.  I recently did ONE thing that made a difference.  I joined my kids on a service opportunity provided by my church.

And, that made me a better parent, because it made parenting easier.  Here are 8 things that happened:

  1. I focused less on me and the things that bother me.
  2. My kids focused less on themselves and the things that bother them.
  3. We became more acutely aware that we can make a difference in the lives of others.
  4. We all became more thankful for the stuff we have, which leads to…
  5. We realized we have too much stuff, and that stuff isn’t really that important.
  6. We sensed the presence of God, knowing we are in His will.
  7. We became part of something much bigger than ourselves.
  8. Our family became a stronger “we” and not a gathering of “me.”

And, when all of those things happen, the kids fight less.  It’s no longer a big deal that my daughter takes over the entire bathroom that she shares with her brother.  It’s no longer a big deal that my son puts his feet on the pillow that his sister lays her head.

We see life through a different lens.  And, voila, I’m a better parent.  And, it didn’t take a new book, new parenting techniques, or new disciplinary measures.  Who can you serve with your kids?

The Value of Listening Well

Sometimes the people we care about, the people we really want to help only want us to listen.  And, sometimes it’s REALLY hard to listen well, especially when the problem seems so easy to solve.  This video illustrates the tension perfectly.

So, what to do?  It’s my opinion that, even when the problem seems so clearly evident and the solution seems so easy, that it’s best to just listen when when our advice is resisted.  Forcing it just causes them to walk away irritated, and they’ll still have a nail in their head.

And, maybe a better application of this video is to consider that we might have a nail in our head, and we need to listen well to their advice.  They might just have the answer we’ve been refusing to hear all along.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. – Proverbs 12:15

Easter Monday

Being a Protestant Christian, living in the South, Easter Sunday is always a big deal.  Easter Sunday was yesterday.  And, my church, like
many other churches strive to “put their best foot forward,” to better receive the many visitors that show up in churches 1-2 times per year.  That means we will have more special music, more volunteers to welcome people, gifts for visitors, etc.  And, all of that is good and fine.  At our Easter services yesterday, our main vocalist lost his voice, and a woman had a seizure right in the middle of the pastor’s sermon.  Some will chalk that up to the “work of Satan,” but I don’t really think any of that is that big of a deal.  The Gospel was clearly communicated, and we know that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).

The other thing that strikes me about Easter Sunday is the ka-zillion family pictures that showed up on all of the social media outlets.  I don’t know how people without spouses and kids stand it, but just about every picture I saw was of cute families in fresh new clothes.  And, don’t misread me.  I’m not above it.  My family was out of town and simply took those pictures without me and mentioned me in the comments.  There’s nothing wrong with those pictures, and there’s nothing wrong with “putting your best shoes forward” on Easter Sunday.

However, if Easter Sunday gets watered down to a religious cultural event attended by nicely dressed people then we’ve missed everything.  The real value of Easter Sunday services is in the truth of the Gospel being proclaimed, resulting in people’s lives being saved.  And, if you can measure it at all, that’s probably best measured in the lives of people the next day…Easter Monday.

The Real Value of “Go Day”

In today’s Baton Rouge newspaper, in the “Eat, Pray, Live” section, an Istrouma Baptist (my church) event was highlighted from last Sunday.    The event is called “Go Day.”  It’s the one Sunday a year when the entire congregation leaves the church campus to serve the community.  In the article are color pictures of the events, featuring my friends, John, Micah and Jeff.  There are quotes from many, including me.  And, I’m sure many will declare Istrouma to be a great church doing great things.  If people gain a more positive view of the church and The Church, then there’s value to that.

And, there’s more value if the people of Istrouma do more than a 1x/year event, allowing “Go Day” to inspire them to serve the community all year long, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ…all year long.

There’s even more value if the message of Jesus displayed and spoken on “Go Day” causes lives to be transformed.  That’s the ultimate value.

http://theadvocate.com/features/11979676-123/palm-sunday-go-day-sends

GO therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, – Matt. 28:19

You Are His Before You Are Someone Else’s

On the same day I started this blog, I officiated a wedding.  Oddly, the day was April 1, aka “April Fool’s Day.”  When I was asked to do the wedding, I noted the date, and, at first, thought I was the target of an elaborate prank.  As a guy who loves pranks, I would have been delighted to have been associated with such a plot.

I was even more delighted to be a part of a real wedding on April 1st, 2015.  You see, the groom (Brady) had previously been married.  His first marriage ended horribly, leaving Brady hurt and hesitant (to say the least) about re-engaging with someone else.  Then comes Paige, who is beautiful, faithful and patient.

Months into “relationship counseling” (it wasn’t pre-marital, because there was no engagement), after everything seemed so perfect, I asked Brady, “What are you waiting for?”  Paige echoed my question.  Brady’s answer was, “I’m not sure.”

Then, a few weeks later, Brady calls me, and tells me that, as he grows closer to the Lord, he feels more secure about entering into an engagement and a marriage with Paige.  Perfect.

And, the passage they chose for their wedding was Colossians 3:12-17.   Verse 12 reads, As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Perfect.  It is because we are His first that we then act in ways that are marked with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.

We act out of who we are.  And, Brady, fully understanding who he is and whose he is, proposes.  Rings land on fingers, vows are taken, and many of their friends think it’s a joke.  But it’s no joke.  They are His first, and now they both are fully comfortable with being each other’s.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15

One More Time

OK, so here I am again, with intentions of regularly blogging.  This time, however, will not be a false start.  I plan to write a couple of times a week about faith, religion, psychology, counseling, healthy living, and family.   I don’t know how you got to this blog, but I’m glad you are here.