Friday, September 13, 2013

An Unlikely Messenger

He plodded along with his head down, gazing at the path he takes a thousand times a day.  A man doing his work diligently, with purpose.  Hundreds of people see him but take no notice.  Without a glance to see who's listening, he speaks in a unwavering voice, "Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords."  He continues on to collect the grocery carts in the Wegman's parking lot.
I don't remember ever seeing this man before, but today, he got my attention.  To many he's just a face in the crowd, but to me, he is an inspiration.  Without fear, he said what so many are afraid to share.  I do not know why it is so hard for me to share my Faith.  Fear of rejection is probably the main reason.  But, this man was not afraid.
When I was in the car, just prior to hearing this, I heard a story about churches that hold a special "bring a friend to church day."  They were quoting statistics that only a small percentage of Christian share their faith. Now I know I am not alone.
So here I sit, blogging about everything under the sun, concerning kids yet fail to give you the one thing that matters, the one thing that can literally save your life.

Jesus, He loves you.  He made you.  Every little detail about you, He did that.

Life sometimes stinks....sometimes it really stinks! Those stinky things, those things that Satan is doing for evil, God is weaving together for your good.  I know it doesn't all make sense, but it's true.

We stink, we make bad choices all the time.  God is perfect- He can't co-exist with stinky things, so He sent Jesus (who is perfect) to die.  To die in our place.  That should've been us....but it wasn't.  He did it for us because HE loves us.  We just need to confess that "darn it we stink- we are flawed, we sin", we can't do this thing called life on our own.  And ask God to help us and seek His will for our lives.  So that we can change the way we live our lives and LIVE for Him.  Which allows us to be in Heaven with HIM someday.

Please forgive me for being a wimp and scared to share with you the things that truly, really matter.  And thank you God, for giving me the courage.  May we all be bold like the Wegman's employee.  If you have any questions about what I said above, feel free to comment or find a local church to help you out.  We have no idea when our lives will end (I just lost a sweet friend- age 52 last week).  Where will you go? Do you know?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Encouraging Children-

Our son Z, 9 years old, has got to be the slowest child on the planet when it comes to doing anything mundane.  In fact, he does everything slowly.  For example, when taking a bath last night, he disappeared for an hour while his three siblings watched two TV shows.  When he came out, it was no skin off his back, he was finally ready for bed.

Our extremely laid-back son can really get under my skin, especially in the mornings.  When he's getting ready for school, it's like pushing a snail through quicksand! He gets distracted by toys and pieces of dirt on the carpet.  He's very intelligent and he's not being belligerent, he's just being Z.

This morning was particularly rough for both of us.  He was going slowly and in my frazzled state of hurrying him, I made some statements to him that were not encouraging at all.  I said things like, "Come on Z, you always go slow- speed it up!"  I try to avoid absolutes (words like always, never, etc...) with my kids because, most of the time, they're used to hurt people, not help.  This morning, I was failing on this front.

When we were waiting for the bus, he told me that he wasn't distracted this morning, he actually had to try on 3 pairs of pants to find a pair that fit him. ( He puts away his own laundry and has two brothers- the clothes often get confused)  I felt about as tall as the snail I mentioned earlier.

I apologized and asked my sweet Z to forgive me.  He happily did so.

The bus rolled away and he waved as they went out of sight.  But, I stood there wondering what he's taking with him today.  What kind of burden is he bearing?  What words are repeating over and over in his head?

I went into the house and checked my Facebook account.  There was a message from my Aunt Wendy. She has been a real encouragement to me when it comes to my writing and encouraging others.  When I would write a funny Christmas letter, she'd be the first to say, "You need to be a writer!"  She has been a model to me in encouragement.

I sat there and cried because I realized that everything out of my mouth this morning had been negative and nagging.  I showed my son no signs of encouragement.  Tomorrow is another day.  Hopefully, I can be that encouraging voice to him, like my Aunt Wendy has been to me.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ghost Hunting- I wrote this 2 years ago as an article submission.

Ghost Hunting
and the Art of Finding a Discipline to fit the crime
by: Denise Craig

 I am sure that my 8 year old did not start the day intending to get in trouble with his teacher.   But, as any parent knows, what a child intends and what really happens can be a completely different thing.
The sun was streaming through the window, Z was hard at work, and he realized that he needed to use the restroom.   He knew that this visit was not going to be a quick one, so he informed the teacher and went on his jaunt.  When he reached the bathroom, he saw that the "wet floor" sign was directing him to the uninhabited third floor.  Z was washing his hands when he realized that his classmate C was behind him.  C told the teacher that he also needed the facilities.   But, he had no intent in using them. 
Z was readying himself to go down the stairs when the voice of C entered his mind like a thick fog.  “Why go back downstairs when they’re just going to make you do work?”  Well that was a very interesting question indeed for an 8 year old boy. 
The boys turned around and saw the deserted hallways as a labyrinth of ghostly adventure.  “Ghost hunt!” declared C.  Z, tempted beyond reason, could not help but join in.  Eventually, the teacher, being quite the hunter herself, figured out what went on in the dusty, dimly lit, hallways of the third floor. 
Needless to say, Z’s head hung low as he descended the bus steps and headed toward me.  Z said, “Mom there’s a note in my folder from the teacher.  But, C made me do it!”  “What did he make you do?” I asked.   It was then that Z gave me details of the deception, the trickery of his friend.  “But, what was your choice?”  I asked.  “I chose to follow my friend,” he mumbled.  I questioned further, “Did you know it was wrong ?”  “Yes,” he squeaked.  “Well, I guess you also chose a discipline for yourself then didn't you.” I stated.   
I don’t know about other parents, but I know that I sometimes struggle with what to assign as my child’s punishment.   This time was no different.  I have read several books that suggest to “make the punishment fit the crime.”  So I quietly went to my stash of workbooks, made a photocopy of a couple worksheets and added it to the stack of worksheets that he had before him. 
Yes, it took him almost the whole evening to finish the pile in front of him.  But, with each passing moment, it reminded him of the decision he made and his trying to get out of doing work at school. 
It has always been beneficial for us to make the punishment fit the crime.  When the discipline fits the crime, the discipline usually only has to happen a couple times to learn that lesson.  When all is said and done, I hope that he’ll remember the work he had to do and not repeat that mistake again.  Hopefully, if C should ever convince him to slide down another slippery slope, he’ll remember that an appropriate and fitting discipline will be waiting in the wings.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Helpless 20 Somethings...

Tonight as I was cashing out at Wegman's, I was chatting with the cashier.  This is normal for me.  I am not sure how or why, but I usually end up learning quite a bit about them, as they do me, from the short amount of time we spend together.

The lady looked down at my items as she hurried the them along.  She said, "Oh, I need to figure out what to make for my kids' breakfast tomorrow morning."  She continued, "I made them pancakes yesterday and french toast today."  I quickly realized that these were school days that she was talking about.  After I pondered about asking for her address so I can join them in the morning, I collected my thoughts and said, "How about some cereal?"  For that matter, yogurt, granola, fruit, etc....would also work just as well.  She said, "Oh no, my kids have a late-block lunch, they need a hot breakfast."  "Maybe I can give them oatmeal if they don't turn their noses up at it."  I said, "Maybe they can take turns making their own hot breakfast?"  I suggested this because I realized that they must be middle school or high school kids (she later told me that they are 8th grade twins).  "They couldn't do that, I think I've spoiled them", she replied.  I then preceded to tell her (this is where my friend K would say, "oh no, you didn't say that!), that my son who is 6 made his own scrambled eggs this morning and that she could offer that info to her girls for motivation.  Yes, he put in too much milk and we had to strain off the liquid, but, he did it himself.  She then told me that she works all day at one of the schools, and all night at Wegmans.  The poor lady needs them to help.

Now, I realize that this woman may be suffering from the guilt of always working.  But, that  shouldn't give people an excuse to hinder their children's ability to care for themselves by spoiling them.

Maybe our kids have become more independent because there are four of them, or maybe it's because it is our hearts desire for our kids to be self-sufficient. Maybe it's a combination of the two.  But as a couple, I know, we have been mindful of this and try to guide our kids toward independence.

Interestingly enough, we are a homeschooling family.  That often gets the glares and comments about "sheltering our kids".  We are very social and busy people- involved in many activities.  But, more than that, we are training our kids not holding them back by spoiling them.  We are training them to fly someday.  In the past year and a half our twelve year old has made $600 mowing neighbor's yards and he has been taught the proper way to manage that money. Our kids can cook, clean, do laundry (the way their mother does it- which is the wrong way :-)), and basic home maintenance (redoing a deck, painting, gardening etc).  We love our kids and spend time with them but honestly, if I didn't get any assistance and was bending over backwards to overly pamper them, I'd be 6 feet in the ground by now.  We are simply outnumbered with four children running around.

So I implore all of us, myself included, to continue to assess what we are trying to teach our children.  When they are 20 and about to strike out on their own, will they feel trained and empowered or a bit impish?  It is up to us.