I never went to Sunday school, but with the benefit of children and kiddy friendly worship CD’s I am able to close my eyes and sing the fruit of the spirit song in my head, you know the one “The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness and ……” What’s the last one? Oh yes, SELF CONTROL.
I must admit, I seldom put any focus on the fact that self control is a Fruit of the Spirit. I often act as if it’s presence has very little to do with my choices and more to do with how others treat me.
The greatest indicator of this Fruit’s absence in my life is shown by my reaction to my sons’ when they decide to find every button that I possess and proceed, with surgical accuracy, to push each and every one of them, over and over again. Typically this happens when we are already 10 minutes late for something, lacking my morning coffee intake or just generally when I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, something I feel, at least at the moment, is not my fault and cannot be controlled by me either.
BUSY, BUSY, BUSY, BUSY! Although the word presents itself as something we don’t inherently strive for, it is nevertheless nowadays used as something we gauge our success by. Imagine the scenario, bumping into a friend during the week the question is posed “How ya doing?” Forgetting the possibility that it’s not really a question but actually a greeting in disguise and in spite of the fact that the person posing the question probably doesn’t really care for an in-depth answer, you dig deep and muster the words “Wow I’m really busy”.
I have become really uncomfortable with these words. We’ve made them to mean more than an indication of how cluttered our lives are and instead use them as a new version of “Mines bigger than yours!”. We seem to have bought into the lie that busier is better. Busyness, for some, has become the yard stick against which success is measured. What may have been forgotten, is that in order for us to achieve a stage of busyness, something has to be traded. What are the trade offs to the busyness we “aspire” to, or more importantly, who are the trade off’s?
Every now and then I come across something that makes me wish I had a time machine. That time machine would help me travel back in time to those moments we all wish we could forget, the moments where life hands us a massive portion of NO-YOU-DON’T KNOW-EVERYTHING-PIE.
I typically have those moments in the context of parenting. Thankfully, because life is the best teacher and kids tend to leak grace in bucket loads, parents tend to navigate through the ebbs and flows of parenting, hopefully without permanent damage to ourselves or our kids. nevertheless, there are moments I’d wish I knew then what I know now. Such a moment occurred when I read an article on adopting older children by Candace Wheeler.
At the risk of sounding unoriginal, I think it would be so helpful for adoptive parents or would be adoptive parents to read, remember and absorb the following answers to behaviours we have all experienced at some time or another. In fact, any parent for that matter could benefit, because adoptive kid’s challenges aren’t alien to those of natural-born kids, after all, they’re still children, just maybe in need of a little more tenderness. The essence comes from the article, I’ve just added some flavouring.
So here we go, first adoption meeting with the social worker for our second store-bought child, happens this week. Home grown 1 and store-bought 1 are excited, we are excited, the family is excited, or at least they are until they realise Christmas just got a little more expensive.
I remember a couple of years ago being in this exact same space, blissfully unaware of the decision we were about to make. Full of love, expectancy and hope, we began a journey that rocked the entire foundation of our family, our marriage and ourselves. We would never be the same again. Those people, those doe eyed parents are gone. Naiveté has left us, blissful ignorance has waved us good-bye and what is left, at least in our estimation, is a slightly greyer, lightly bashed about, but more realistic set of parents. Sound a little negative, sure you want to give it another go?
In spite of the tears, the hair pulling, the total confusion and at times the sense of complete aloneness, I cannot imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t gladly open my heart and my home to welcome another beautiful child to become one with us. Our experience with our second born son, has so solidified in our hearts a greater level of love, that we will never be the same.
I’m a minimalist! I like nice things, the add ons, the extra’s the buy 2 get one free deals. I like the idea of having the things that go with other things. I like the idea of filling my home with those little extra bits that make each room unique and stand out amongst the others. Don’t get me wrong, I like accessories.
I think I just don’t like them enough to put the effort into really making sure that everything that needs to match, does. I’m not wired that way but I have no problem with people who find the worlds greatest sugar rush in accessorizing every area of their life to the hilt, and if you are that person, Awesome, I pray you come across the worlds biggest accessory sale and receive all sorts of discounts and vouchers, GO FOR IT!
Where I do come a little unstuck is where, at least on the surface, parents act as if their kids have just completed their “oh so” precious checklist of world’s-most-sought-after-accessories. For me, and mainly because I meet and have met with many children who have fallen prey to the “Checklist”, there appears to be a growing idea that children, although important, tend to fall into a large bucket of important stuff, rather than existing in their own bucket labelled “Priority”.
in spite of all the lessons I am called to dish out to my children at a moments notice, as any parent worth their pinch of salt will agree, there comes that rare moment where all the education, experience, adult wisdom and understanding must take a moment and bow to the inexplicable honesty and brutal truth that comes from the mouthes of our children.
In my case, as much as life has been my biggest and most brutal teacher, those extra special lessons the ones that take your breath away because of their simplicity, have come through the teachings of two beautiful warriors, neither of whom at present, stands taller than my belt buckle.
Who would have thought some of life’s most important lessons could come from 2 little boys whose cumulative ages stands at a little over 7 years. And you thought God didn’t have a sense of humour when he created parenting.
As I sit at my new throne of creativity at a nearby coffee shop, I am greeted by a large sign at the entrance encouraging me to KEEP CALM AND DRINK WINE. As I reminisce of the days when friends were plenty, spare time was available in bucket loads, breakfasts turned to lunches and dinners were a time of great joy, good food and good wine, I catch myself in the reality of a new year. Yup, these times were only a week or two ago, but as we live in a world of uncapped internet, on tap stress and the destruction of boundaries between work and family time, It dawns on me that if I am not careful to fight for what is essential, the good will rear it’s “pretty” face and check mate the things that really matter.
A friend spoke of a study done recently that looked at the time it took to get back to the levels of stress experienced at the beginning of a holiday, once that holiday had finished. The study looked at a number of years and found that in the past, it took people approximately 8 months to arrive at those dizzy heights of stress compared to todays’ paltry 2 weeks, YES 2 WEEKS! No I don’t have the study on file, but I do have the word of a trusted psychologist and my own experience. Sadly, it doesn’t sound far-fetched does it?
As I sit and take a look at all the executively dressed coffee snobs sharing my new haunt, I wonder, where are they on the stress-o-metre and what will they sacrifice this year for the sake of the pay check?
Journey with me to last Sunday, as I lay on the operating table, quivering at the site of the surgeon’s scalpel, approaching what he believed to be my heart but what I knew to be somewhere south of my heart. He fumbled with his stethoscope, and not even paying attention the steady heart beat, declared that his patient was sick and in need of emergency treatment. As a butcher attacks a leg of lamb he attacked my chest!
Hoping the topic grabbed your attention and caused you to click in anger or agreement at this statement, lets drill down into what I mean.
The act of worship nowadays has taken a somewhat watered down meaning. In days gone by,we would associate the act of worship with falling down on ones knees, with hands lifted high, shouting words of praise. The action of worship will typically lead people to conjour up the picture of a religious event in their minds, where the worshiper looks outwards to someone or something in which he places his hope and trust and expresses how much he or she adores the object or subject of their worship. Continue reading
It’s official, we are half way through January 2013, Happy New Year! With all the talk and contemplation about 2012 and what we did and didn’t do, it made me think, how will 2013 be different, what changes do I want to see, what, dare I say the word, GOALS am I hoping to achieve?
Of all the New Years resolutions that people made at the end of 2012 and will probably forget by mid January, by far the most important are the ones that have to do with us making a change, creating ripples and causing others to think differently.
For me, it is asking the question will my children grow up to know God in a personal way, will they experience a closeness that changes them from the inside out and allows them to walk into a hurting world and share that intimacy and love in a way that brings healing and restoration. I want to know that my boys are in an environment that will catalyse a love for God and a desire to understand and see the authority and power we have through Him manifest itself in a way that is as natural to them as breathing.
Will my boys grow up wanting more of God, more of His presence, more of His power and truth or will they grow up experiencing God as a culture they belong to rather than a spiritual reality that affects everything they do. Will they see church life, leaders meetings, life groups and church conferences as part of their “to do list”, or will they refuse to accept anything other than pure spirit lead Christianity, will they seek transformation over information and reformation over tradition. Will they be satisfied with a life that seeks anything less than, as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:1, something worthy of their calling?