Countercultural

I’m sorry it’s been a little while since I last wrote.  Life has been busy and sometimes I feel like it is just flying by.  I try to be intentional about savoring the moment and remembering what is truly important, but it is not easy.  Please know that I do think of you every morning, praying for you and missing you very much.

As you may know, Rick and I just got back from a 2 week trip to Italy.  We had an amazing time seeing 10 different areas of the country – I was so impressed with all the history that is preserved there in man-made structures erected long before there was the technology of machinery to help build them, and in the art that we saw in various churches and museums – painters and sculptors so gifted and skilled, evidence of God’s creative nature alive in His creation.  My favorite part of Italy though was the coast, both at the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi coast – with God Himself as the artist.  My favorite part of the trip was getting to spend so much time with my love of 30+ years and enjoying it together.

This was Rick’s third trip to Italy but it was my first time there.  I was surprised at how familiar everything felt.  It reminded me so much of Jordan – the olive, lemon, and fig trees; the grape vines; the dark haired, dark skinned locals so expressive in their communication; the way of life there with apartment living, public transportation, local specialty markets and small restaurants run by families.

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And yet, I also felt “other” as I often did in Jordan especially early on in the 15 years we were there.  In Italy, I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t quite fit in with the way I dressed or behaved, I was not aware of the social cues and norms of Italian culture.  It got me thinking about a blog post I started in March of 2018 and never finished about being countercultural, so I decided to finally share it with you.

Western culture puts a premium on performance and productivity, impatient with a relaxed pace and with waiting.  The Kingdom of Heaven culture accepts the invitation to be still and know that He is God.

Our culture is uncomfortable with silence.  Kingdom culture cherishes and invites silence.

Our culture is obsessed with “new” – the latest fashion, new models, new upgrades.  Kingdom culture says “be content with what you have”

Our culture promotes a sense of entitlement – “I deserve this” and “how can I benefit?”.  Kingdom culture encourages gratitude and a giving spirit.

Our culture encourages an attitude of defensiveness and blame-shifting.  Kingdom culture encourages admitting mistakes and taking ownership of one’s role in a disagreement.

Our culture has a “know-it-all” attitude.  Kingdom culture has a posture of learning.

Our culture seeks to avoid and stop pain, using alcohol, drugs, food, and distraction to mask it.  Kingdom culture says “what can I learn through this pain?” and fosters a dependence on God and on others.

Our culture promotes photoshopping and putting your best foot forward, hiding imperfections and failures.  Kingdom culture is transparent, honest and humble.

So even though it is uncomfortable to feel “other” and to not “fit in” wherever I am in the world, I take comfort in the fact that I am supposed to feel “not of this world” and it’s a good discomfort.  Ultimately my citizenship is in heaven.

But Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Hebrews 12:28-29
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
Philippians 3:19-20
Their mind is set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven
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Weeds

This spring and summer we have had a whole lot of rain.  As a result, we have much greener grass and healthier plants outside, but we also have had a lot more weeds coming up among the plants.  I weed one weekend and by the next weekend, it looks like I haven’t done anything.

One dictionary definition of a weed is “a plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one that grows where it is not wanted and often grows or spreads fast or takes the place of desired plants.”  I have found that sometimes undesirable, unattractive or troublesome things  grow weed-like in the “garden” of my heart too.  

One of the “weeds” I have to constantly uproot is selfishness.   It is “natural” to consider my needs above others and want to protect myself, my stuff, my time, and my turf from others.  No matter how naturally this grows in me, I have to pull it up and choose to be selfless, generous, and giving.

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. 1

Another is discontent.   I find myself wishing that I was thinner, prettier, more “important”, or more “successful” instead of being grateful for all the ways that God has blessed me in my life.  This is a weed that can grow so out of control that I end up feeling frustrated, disappointed, and hopeless.  This weed keeps me from enjoying my life and living out God’s purpose for me on this earth.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 2

You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. 3

Then there’s the weed of pride.  This weed is harder to recognize because there can be healthy pride and unhealthy pride.  Healthy pride involves a healthy self-esteem; a confidence of purpose; feeling good about my own or one of my family member’s accomplishments without feeling I am better or more deserving than others. An unhealthy pride involves boasting, comparing, competing, self-sufficiency, arrogance, stubbornness and conceitedness.   I need to be careful to weed out unhealthy pride without weeding out healthy pride.  This particular job of weeding requires help from the expert gardener, the Holy Spirit, who helps with discerning one from the other.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 4

Another weed that creeps up in the garden of my heart is indulgence.  This is another tricky one because sometimes it’s unclear at what point it becomes too much of a good thing.   Eating is a necessity, but overeating is indulgence and is a slippery slope to harming my body and to food addiction.  It is not bad to watch a program I like but binge-watching a show at the expense of relationships, work, or sleep is unhealthy.

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 5

One of the most prolific weeds that likes to grow up in my garden is anxiety.  This weed tries to choke out joy, peace, and faith.  I daily have to combat this weed to keep it from overrunning my garden.  The “weeding” process requires prayer and the use of Scripture.  Using verses as a machete to cut this weed is a must, since my own thoughts and feelings tend to encourage this weed to grow.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 6

His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.7

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ 8

These are just some of the examples of weeds that creep up in the garden of our hearts.  The “chore” of weeding is not at all enjoyable – it can be tedious, hard, and even feel like an exercise in futility.  But just as my garden outside looks beautiful once I’ve weeded and the good plants are able to grow better, the garden of my heart when tended can yield beauty and grace and is definitely worth the effort.

Quotes from the Message paraphrase of the Bible

  1.  Philippians 2:2-4
  2. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  3. Philippians 4:8
  4. Proverbs 16:18
  5. Galatians 5:13
  6. Philippians 4:6-7
  7. Hebrews 4:12
  8. 2 Corinthians 10:5
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Truth or Lies

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote. I have missed reaching out to you.  You see, I’ve just gone through a rough patch. The post-holiday blues and the short cold days of winter got to me more than usual.  Maybe you can relate.  During this time, I have wrestled spiritually more than usual.  I have had to preach to myself a lot to get me through this.  I’d like to share some of the wrestling that has gone on in my soul; hopefully this may help you when you face similar soul struggles.

I hear the devil whisper, “if God really loved you, you wouldn’t be suffering.  He must not care or maybe you’ve done something wrong and He’s punishing you”.  But God tells me, “Resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

When the devil said to me, “you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not talented enough, you’re just not enough”,  God told me “You are My child.  I am able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine, according to My power that is at work within you.”

The devil taunted, “what you do doesn’t make a difference in the world – it’s like spitting in the ocean.  Why bother?”.  God reminded me, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.  You are My handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which I prepared in advance for you to do.”

The devil tells me often, “you need to worry, life is overwhelming and your life is spinning out of control”.  God constantly whispers, , “Cast all your anxiety on Me because I care for you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the I will be with you wherever you go.”

The devil sometimes tells me, “nobody cares about what you say, you shouldn’t waste your time writing your blog”.  God reminds me, “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Perhaps you’re thinking that I’m giving the devil too much credit.  Or maybe you think there is no such thing as the devil.   I think that he wants you to believe those things so that his work will be much easier.  The Bible is clear that he is active in this world.

“Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary, the Devil, like a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist Him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

“Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of the light” (2 Cor.11:14)

“But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his guile, so your minds may be corrupted and fall from a pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).

“Indeed what I have forgiven – if I have forgiven anything – I have done for your sakes, in the person of Christ, so that we may not be defeated by Satan; for we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2: 10-11).

Although we need to be aware of the devil’s nearly constant harassment, we also need to remember that Christ has won the battle.  And we can battle for one another in prayer.  I am praying for you that God would strengthen you in your faith, fill you with His Spirit, and give you joy and peace every day of our journey to Heaven.

Much love, Angie

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Common Courtesy

Many of you know already that my new job in St. Louis has had its challenges.  The “culture” of our office has been in flux over the past several months as those of us in leadership have been trying to make it a healthier and more professional work environment.   Some days I think we are making progress, and then other days are disappointing with some staff members treating others rudely.

So what are things we would consider “common courtesy” or “good manners” in our culture at large?  I would like to list the things that come to my mind, but also ask y’all as my readers to add your thoughts/ideas.

In public:

Wait your turn.  Don’t push and shove.  If you do physically bump into somebody, say “excuse me”. Don’t have loud conversations on the phone or with your friends.  Don’t cut people off when walking or driving.  Hold the door for the person behind you.   Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough

At work:

Behave in a professional way, not yelling or being aggressive with co-workers or customers.   Don’t gossip or start rumors.  Do your job to the best of your ability and in a timely fashion.  Help each other out.

In your neighborhood:

Don’t cut the grass before 9 am or play music loudly after 10 pm.  Cut your grass regularly and avoid having trash sitting out for days at a time.

At all times:

Say please and thank you.  Apologize when you need to.  Be on time to meetings and appointments.  Respond to texts, email and snail mail in a timely fashion.  If you can’t attend an event that you’re formally invited to, RSVP that you can’t come instead of just not responding. And don’t RSVP at the last minute for an event that involves real planning by the host.

I think the bottom line is to “treat others as you would have them treat you”.  We should always treat others with respect, dignity, and kindness, no matter who they are and no matter who else is watching you.  Please respond with your comments.  Thank you!

P.S.  Thanks for reading this far and I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last posted 🙂

 

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Sweet or Sour?

When we lived in Amman, Jordan, my kids sometimes played the game “Heloo aw Haamid?” while we were driving around town.  They learned this game, translated “Sweet or Sour”, from friends at school.  Basically, they would wave to people in other cars to see what reaction they would get.  If the people waved back, they were “Heloo” or sweet; if they didn’t wave back, they were “Haamid” or sour.   The majority of the time, people were “heloo”/sweet/friendly in reply.   This was our experience of people in Jordan over all.  For the most part, they were friendly, generous, and hospitable.

We moved to a neighborhood in Florissant, Missouri last November.  In this neighborhood we are the minority.  Each day when we walk our dog, we wave to cars as they drive by.  For the most part, people wave back to us.  Almost everywhere we go in our area, people are warm and friendly to us.

I have traveled throughout the world and, in my experience, the majority of people are friendly and welcoming.  They may look different than I do.  They may talk differently than I do.  They may believe differently than I do.   They may act differently than I do. However they are all made in the image of God just as I am.   Since I am instructed to love my neighbor as myself, I choose to act lovingly toward them.  Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s always the right thing to do.

In December, I invited my neighbors to my house for a Christmas tea.  It was good to meet them and get to know them better.  The next month, I invited these ladies to start coming to a monthly ladies’ prayer meeting at my house.  Not all of them attend, but our core is two white ladies and two black ladies.  It has been so enjoyable to spend time with these ladies and be in prayer with them.

When I took the train to Chicago to visit my brothers, I sat next to a college student who is from Afghanistan.  We talked about her life and her country.  Since then, we have become Facebook friends and I have taken her out to dinner twice.  It’s been a great opportunity to show her love and kindness and I’ve enjoyed learning about her family and her future plans.  I hope she has been blessed to have an older American friend who is eager to spend time with her and care about her.

Every day we have an opportunity to be “sweet” or “sour” to the people around us.  It’s easy to be sweet to those who are like us; it’s harder to be sweet to those who are different than we are.  It’s hard because it can be scary to step out of our comfort zones and enter into a situation where we aren’t sure what the outcome will be.   I can assure you that God will be with you in every situation and that obeying Him is always the right thing to do.  And there’s a good chance that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the response you get.  You may even make a new friend in the process.

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What makes a woman?

Ladies, we need to remind each other to not listen to the world and the devil when they tell us lies about who we are.

You are not less of a woman if you never get married

You are not less of a woman if you never get pregnant

You are not less of a woman if you never have a natural birth

You are not less of a woman if you never breastfeed

You are not less of a woman if you have had a mastectomy or a hysterectomy

I believe that what makes us fully women is living out God’s plan and purpose for our lives.   When God made man, He said, “it is not good for man to be alone”.  God’s very purpose in creation was for us as women to help men to rule over creation.  We are designed for equality and interdependence with man.

It was a woman (Rahab) who kept the spies safe in Jericho

It was a woman (Deborah) who brought the Israelites victory over Sisera because she was braver and wiser than any man at that time

It was women (Moses’ mother, Moses’ sister, Pharaoh’s daughter) who kept Moses safe as a child

It was a woman (Ruth) who, in spite of being a foreigner and a widow, behaved so honorably that she was blessed to be the great grandmother of King David and in the genealogy of Jesus

It was a woman (Mary) who believed the angel about carrying the Messiah

It was women who followed Jesus and took care of His needs and out of their own means helped to support His disciples (Matthew 27:55, Mark 15:41, Luke 8:3)

It was a woman (at the well) who brought the gospel to the Samaritans

It was women who were brave enough to go to Jesus’ tomb to prepare His body for burial, and were privileged to be first to see the resurrected Christ

My Jordanian friend N is a single mom who is putting one of her daughters through medical school and the other through college in another country – she is godly, brave and smart

My Palestinian friend S came to Hope Clinic faithfully every Thursday to share with our patients and pray with them when no one else from the church was willing to do so.  She is faithful, dependable, and compassionate

My Syrian friend N was one of the financially poorest people I know yet one of the spiritually richest people I’ve ever met – her childlike faith and thankful attitude was contagious

My doctor friend L serves as a single lady in my beloved adopted country.   She may not ever marry or have children of her own but she has “adopted” a bunch of little Arab girls and loves them fiercely.

My African American friend B works a full time job, is raising 5 children, and has done foster care over the years.  She shows up to the office ready to love on our little patients and help them to know they are special and cared for.

My California friend W has worked over the years to bring the domestic and sexual abuse issues in her host country to light and has trained local women how to counsel and help those suffering from abuse.  She is courageous, passionate, and kind.

I know many more women who are living out God’s plan and purpose for their lives.  They inspire and encourage me to do the same.  We were never meant to be “cookie cutter” women who all follow one blueprint for womanhood in their lives:  get married, get pregnant, have natural deliveries, breastfeed, and have perfect bodies.  Let’s remind each other of that and cheer on our sisters when we see them living out their unique lives for Him.

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An Especially Great Message

This is not like my usual posts – instead, I decided to send a link to the sermon Rick preached on Sunday about spiritual warfare.  I thought it was especially good and wanted to have more people get to hear it.  Here it is:

http://www.salemefree.org/sermons/spiritual-warfare/

Salem Evangelical Free Church

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Taking Control

Do you ever feel like the world has spun dangerously out of control?  If you listen to or read the news on any given day, you know exactly what I mean.  Bad stuff happens all too often – people are hurt or killed by other people, natural disasters occur with seemingly increasing frequency, tragic accidents happen, illnesses take lives, wars rage on.  In our own families, communities, and workplaces there is frustration, disappointment, uncertainty and pain.

A common response is to become completely overwhelmed by everything, swept away by waves of anxiety – like Chicken Little, declaring “the sky is falling!”.  Personally, I am a first-born and in a healing profession which means I tend to be overly responsible and compassionate, wanting to help however I can.  I feel deeply with those who are suffering.   If I am not aware of how I handle my concerns, I will be consumed by anxiety and be constantly trying to think of ways to fix them.

Stephen Covey in his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, defined two kinds of people in the world: proactive and reactive. To help define these terms, he created the concepts of the circle of influence and the circle of concern. The circle of concern encompasses all of one’s worries and daily anxieties about self, family, health, and work, and even extends to larger-scale worries like war, weather, and world problems.

The circle of influence is the area within the circle of concern that contains the worries one can actually have some effect on. Covey defines proactive people as actively focusing on their circle of influence. Instead of dwelling on all problems they cannot change, they shift all of their concentration and energy to areas in which they can make an impact.  On the other hand, reactive people overlook their circles of influence and dwell on all the things in their circle of concern, tending to focus on bigger issues that they cannot change.

Covey encouraged people to become aware of the places they expend their energy, asking “are you focusing on all the things in your circle of concern or on what is in your circle of influence?”

Circle of Concern with a small but focused Circle of Influence

Inside the above two circles, there’s another, smaller circle – the circle of control.  This circle contains things that are directly within your control:  your thoughts, your reactions, and your actions (you’re not alwayentirely in control of those, but most of the time you are).  This circle does not contain things you can’t control – other’s actions, other’s thoughts, and the environment around you. You can influence many of those, but you never control them.   As you further focus on what is in your circle of control, you are able to impact the things in your circle of influence as well and maybe even expand that circle wider.

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Let me give you a real life example of how this understanding can be helpful.  A co-worker of mine came to work a couple of weeks ago saying how she hadn’t slept well and was feeling very anxious about her upcoming knee replacement surgery.  She was stressing about things like what if the surgery didn’t go as planned; what if she didn’t have a good physical therapist; what if she got a post-operative infection; what if she wasn’t ready to come back when her time off was finished, etc.   I shared the circles concept with her and told her those things weren’t really in her control.  What was in her control was how much effort she put into doing her PT exercises and how closely she followed her doctor’s advice.  The rest of it she needed to let go of and offer it up to God in prayer.  I texted her the day of surgery to see how she was feeling and this was her response “I’m a little nervous but the ‘circles of control’ you showed me really do help.”

Some other ideas:

Instead of worrying about how much or how little your college student is studying, pray that they would have good study habits and trust that you trained them well while they were under your roof

Instead of worrying about your friends’ or relatives’ health habits and/or exercise levels, strive yourself to do well in those departments and be a non-vocal role model to them

Instead of fretting about all the babies killed by abortion each year, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center

Instead of worrying about climate change, look for ways in your home or workplace to be “greener” like recycling; using less electricity or water; composting instead of throwing certain things in the trash

Instead of worrying about nation-wide homelessness and poverty, volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter; go through all your clothes and household goods and donate them to a local thrift store or clothing closet;  give or sponsor nutrition, gardening and/or cooking workshops to those in need in your community

I am thankful that God’s circle of control encompasses everything in the universe and spiritual realm and that I am able to cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me (see 1 Peter 5:7).  I am thankful that as much as He cares about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, He cares so much more for me and I don’t need to worry (see Matthew 6:25-34).  I can work on the things in my circle of control and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and everything else will come together.

 Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].  Philippians 4:6-7, Amplified

Please share with me your insights and experiences with this.

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Communicating with Adult Children

We will always be parents to our children no matter how old they are.  The what-where-when- and how of communication with our children, however, is ever-changing.  We as parents have an opportunity to model and teach how a healthy relationship works.  We need to analyze our communication regularly and ask ourselves: Is my relationship with my child as good as it can be (given any major differences we may have) and if not, what can I do to make it better?  We cannot change our children but we can make adjustments ourselves to better the relationship.

Here are some thoughts on where to start with your young adult children:

  1.  Be respectful of their boundaries.  It is normal and healthy for them to have a separate identity, make their own decisions, and navigate the adult world on their own. Be available when needed but also communicate that you believe that they are able to manage things on their own.
  2. Discuss with them how much contact you’ll have, and if you have different expectations, work on a compromise that is acceptable to both of you.  Ask them what their preferred mode of communication is, and then use that mode most of the time.  You may prefer emailing or leaving voicemails, but if they don’t, then you are not likely going to hear back from them.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you or are being rude or disrespectful; it is because they are bombarded with hundreds of “messages” daily from Facebook statuses, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, texting, e-mail and face-to-face interactions.  There is only so much a brain can take before it is overloaded.   Remember that each child is different – what works for one may not work for the other – treat them as unique individuals and don’t compare them.
  3. Be selective in how and what you communicate.  If you send a lot of texts or e-mails, especially with advice, no matter how well-intentioned you are, they will start to tune you out or even push you away.  They will be much more likely to heed your advice if they ask you for it first.  If you encourage them to come to you for everything, you are actually discouraging them from figuring things out for themselves.  They need to learn to problem-solve on their own instead of continuing to be dependent on you.
  4. Remind them often that you love them dearly and are their biggest fan.  If you haven’t heard from them in over a week, it’s ok to reach out and say something like, “hey, I was just thinking about you and praying for you.  Let me know when you might be free to call and catch up”.  When they do call, do more listening than talking.  Ask them a few questions about their lives, committing details to memory to ask them about the next time you talk, but don’t ask too many questions and don’t probe too deeply (unless you are concerned for their safety – probing can be necessary in some unique cases).
  5. Praise them for their accomplishments and good choices.  Reserve negative and critical comments for only when they are doing things that might harm themselves or others.  Don’t take on their failures as your own.  Expect that they will probably not make decisions just like you would have, and that’s OK.
  6. Be very careful about how you interact with them in regard to finances.   Your adult children need to figure out their finances on their own once they are financially independent of you (hopefully you worked on financial planning together when they were still under your roof).  If you hear them complaining about not being able join their friends on a trip and then give them the cash to join them, they won’t learn how to budget and save for a goal. It’s the same thing if they amass a huge credit card debt that you rush in to pay off.  If your child is truly facing a monetary crisis, first let him/her come to you for assistance.  Then, if you’d like to help them out, come up with a financial plan together.  Once they do show themselves to be financially stable, it is ok to occasionally pay for things – perhaps a plane ticket for them to visit you, a meal out together, or a gift card to their favorite store.

Every kid is different so none of these suggestions are hard and fast rules; it all depends on the individual child’s personality and on the previous dynamic of the relationship.  Also keep in mind that your child is also learning to navigate your changing relationship; honest, open communication about the ways you both are learning to navigate the relationship will go a long way.  It will take some hard work and will be painful at times, but a good relationship with your kids is so worth the effort.

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#Adulting

The American Dialect Society nominated the word adulting as 2015’s most creative construction.   Adulting has been defined as acting in a responsible, grown-up fashion and is often used in social media posts when talking about doing adult tasks.

This jokey way of describing one’s engagement in adult behaviors – whether that is doing your own taxes, buying your first lawn mower, staying in on a Friday, being someone’s boss or getting super pumped about home appliances—can help millennials acknowledge and/or make fun of and/or come to grips with that transition (or how late they are to it). Katie Steinmetz, Time Magazine

Aging – physical maturity – is inevitable.  It is a natural process that happens to all of us.  There are things that we can do to speed up or slow down the process, but ultimately we all continue maturing physically with no effort or thought.  Emotional maturity is another matter altogether.  It does not just happen naturally.  It requires deliberateness, practice and intentionality.

We all recognize the signs of physical maturity like gray hair, wrinkles, and age spots.  Signs of emotional maturity are less obvious.  Yet these are often signs people look for when hiring employees or when choosing friends or spouses .  Some examples include:

Finishing tasks and following through on commitments.

Having a humble attitude, not having to draw attention to oneself.

Making decisions based on character and values instead of feelings.

Being grateful, generous, and content (the opposite of “first world problem” complaints).

Thinking of other people’s needs and desires along with one’s own.

Having the attitude of a learner, one who seeks wisdom and does not always have to be right.

Regulating emotions well and remaining calm instead of “getting their knickers in a twist”.

Setting healthy boundaries in relationships.

Not getting stuck living in the past either with regrets or nostalgia.

Avoiding obsessing about the future or being worried about all the “what ifs” that might happen – planning for the future but enjoying today.

Apologizing when needed without defensiveness and forgiving others when needed.

Being flexible when things don’t go one’s way and plans need to be adjusted.

Not having to control everything.

Accepting responsibility when something goes wrong as a result of one’s action or decision instead of blaming others and/or making excuses.

Maturity is born of responsibility. You cannot be mentally or emotionally healthy if you are irresponsible. People with maturity understand a great truth; they understand that life is difficult. In being able to accept this fact about life, mature people learn to handle life in all of its difficulties, not expecting it to be different. They have learned to accept that not everything in life is going to be their way, show up in the way they thought it would and nor will the world change on its axis to make them happier. Mature people know for any change to happen it has to come from within themselves…when the choice is made to fully develop and live the attitudes and principles of a matured person…maturity is a choice for everyone. The more you value who you are and what you have to offer, the more responsible you will be in taking care of yourself, your finances, your time, and your personal life. You can choose to live as a mature person. You can choose to live consciously with established principles and attitudes.   Sherrie Campbell, psychologist

By the way, I am still working on a lot of these myself – I imagine you all can find at least a couple that you could do better with.  One way to know which ones those are is to read the list again and see which ones make you uncomfortable.  I suggest focusing on those, being mindful of and intentional about practicing those until they become habit.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.   Romans 12

Relationship-picture

 

 

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