Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"I Quit"

Everyone knows you can't really do it. It would be the easy way out, just walking away; or worse yet - to merely throw in the towel and give up hope. Ohh, but sometimes it sounds so liberating, and in moments like these; so enticing....


Yes, that's how it feels, and frankly that's how it's been. There are so many negative influences and elements overwhelming our children daily that it's no surprise when we sense the outside influence inside our homes. 

You don't measure your progress moment by moment, as we need a greater time frame perspective to measure growth (e.g. can you see your infant grow in 2-weeks' time? But according to the doctor, he/she not only grew but gained weight as well!) No, we measure long-term growth. We concede little defeats along the way because it's a greater battle being waged for the long-term growth and development in to young men and women of integrity, humility, and godly service.

Sometimes I feel so great about how far we've all come. I've learned to chill out on some issues I used to get hot about, and to stand firm on others I used to bend endlessly on. The kids aren't the only ones changing, mom & dad are, too.

But then other times (like now), you feel like your kids are destined to become like their most negative influence, despite your attempts to counter with unconditional love, intercessory prayer and positive example.

For me, there are different levels of pain. Someone hurts me, generally I can get over it quick. Quick to forgive and not hold a grudge is how I try to be (because that's what I need from others!) Then there's the real stingers, the ones that you never saw coming. Again though, maybe your shocked for a moment, but it wears off.

Then there's the one that doesn't produce any anger at all, just devastation and disappointment. If you're a parent, you know exactly what I mean. It just doesn't add up, and it never will. No sense in trying to make any sense of it, because it just doesn't make any sense.

"I Quit."

I reason in my mind that although my (step)children may not be responding, I have two other wonderful kids that I can pour myself in to, and save myself any future heartache. And just when I've reasoned myself into justifying a 'conditional love' henceforth I am convicted by an example that I aim to follow.


The One that was ultimately rejected by those He loved and came to serve and save. The Heavenly Father's Son who showed love at all times and in all ways - totally and completely unconditionally. 

So I pray, because I know I serve a Savior that understands exactly what this feels like. He loves perfectly, where I love imperfectly. He never does the wrong thing, where I often do. His rejection was far greater than I feel (or ever will), yet He stands ready to hear my feeble prayers and renew me by the power of His love. 

So the conclusion that I come to time and again is that quitting simply is no longer an option. I've quit plenty in the past, but those days are long gone. There's too much at stake to hold anything back, and true unconditional love is given without expecting in return, so I've got a ways to go.

Honesty, integrity, consistency, humility - all character traits we are seeking to model and develop in our children. Are they there yet? Nope. Am I? Honestly, nope.

Although the sting is deep and the hurt raw, I am going to have to let forgiveness take hold where there is frustration and disappointment. Because I serve a great God who never once said, 

"I Quit"

So how could I?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hot Dates & Ice-Cold Dates

Remember when you were dating your spouse? As my pastor recently stated, "there weren't enough hours in the day to simply listen to everything you had to say!" Although comical, there is much truth to that feeling! You prioritized that relationship, and got to know the object of your affection very personally. The relationship flourished as you invested more and more of your most valuable asset - time - in to your budding partnership.

The concept of refining your relationship by devoting focused time and energy is one that works well in every connection worth keeping.

I've committed to taking each of our kids out on 'dates.' Each date is different, as each child has unique tastes in food and recreational activities. It's not regimented, as sometimes it's 2 kids and I, other times it's 1-on-1, and occasionally it's all the kids and I.

Andrew and I always get away for a day during the winter to go skiing together. This happens during a school day, and although he may miss an assignment, what he gains emotionally and spiritually far outweigh any loss. With great anticipation we pack the SUV the night prior, and pick a new destination annually. Funny story...

A few years back we were nearing the end of our ski-day, and we were on a ski lift. We were about 60 feet in the air when suddenly the lift stopped. It (of course) was a very breezy day, so before long we were swaying in the wind. This is not all that uncommon of an occurance, but usually after a minute or two, the lift restarts.

Not this time!

5 minutes, 10 minutes, ut-oh. Improvise....

Me, "So, it's time to have the talk."
Andrew, "the talk?"
Me, "THE talk..."
Andrew, "umm, ohh, ahhh...."

The beauty of the deal was we were stuck on a chair lift, so he had no place to run, hide, or even squirm. So that day in Michigan, 60 or so feet about a frozen slope, Andrew learned about where and how babies are made!

Some of the 'dates' are just little patterns that we develop. For example, Maddie LOVES to get an after-school snack at the corner gas station. She takes great pleasure in spending a dollar or two picking out something only an 8-year old would find appealing! All the kids love to bowl, and we often will bowl together for a date. Movies are a real treat, and Maddie, Andrew and I recently shared some popcorn (and kleenex) at "Marley and Me." Something we all really enjoy is skiing, and doing an outdoor activity like that has gone a long way in bonding our family together. The beach is also a great place for a date for one (or all) of the kids. Living in the Midwest, we have to take that 2 weeks of summer and make the most of it!! :)

An important key to engaging in an event or activity that is mutually enjoyable and beneficial is to know what your child's likes and dislikes are. For example, I feel sure Andrew would be bored to tears at a ballet, but Hannah would love it! Maddie would stay on the rollercoasters all day, but her daring nature is not shared by all. Knowing what each child enjoys is paramount to doing something that will be remembered fondly long after the fun has ended.

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Our kids can tell, and if we're enjoying an activity, it's sure to make it even that much more fun for them!

So whether you'll be having some hot beach dates, or ice-cold skiing dates, just make sure to make a date with your kids today!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


There are more than enough headaches while simply raising your children (can I get an "Amen" parents?)

From the he said/she said family squabbles to the little princesses missing Easter dress that is now making your entire clan embarrassingly tardy for Sunday morning services, life in the family-lane (much quicker and more chaotic than even the 'fast-lane') is hectic enough.

Now when you add altering weekend placement schedules, differing biological-parental viewpoints on just about everything (or so it seems), and holiday schedules, you've just compounded your headache 10-fold!

Aaaahhh, but like a cool ocean breeze there is indeed a reprieve. It's not migraine-ville all the time, and if you're resourceful enough, the head throbbing is few and far between.

There is a simple and undeniably antivenom that covers the worst pain, and it is known plainly as:


Yep, so easy, isn't it?

But I am not referring to the garden-variety kind of love here. Not even the I love you and forgive you often kind. Nope, there's only one kind of love that can heal the wounds of betrayal, deceit, and disrespect. It's the kind we ALL long for (both in 'traditional' families, from our spouses, from our parents, and in every meaningful relationship).


That means that no matter how much you hurt me, no matter how far and fast you run from me, no matter what you say to me or behind my back, no matter WHAT, I Love You.

Unconditional love is self-less, patient, and most of all forgiving (See 1 Corinthians 13). It's the kind of love that was demonstrated on a cross over 2,000 years ago, and the kind of love that still reconciles fathers to daughters, mothers to sons, and husbands to wives.

There is a natural tendency to distrust anyone who does not share your DNA, but if we can learn, and put in to practice the undeniably overwhelming force of unconditional love, all of families will be better for it!