The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


God gave the children of Israel choices. One choice brought blessing; the other brought trouble. Right choices were a lifestyle that caused the blessing of God to overtake them. God explained to them up front that choices are loaded . . . with consequences.

Deuteronomy 30: 19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

Helping our children see the result of their choices is critical. Train, explain, demonstrate; let them feel the results of their choices. That is how they learn.

For younger children, adding one marble to a jar every time a chore is completed will help your child tangibly see his right choices grow. Rewards for reaching certain levels in the jar will connect the blessing to the choice of responsibility.

Teenagers need a lot of talking through of circumstances before they occur. The Lord gave Deut. 30:19 to the Israelites before they entered the land. Look ahead—for the day, for the week—scan the horizon; are there situations coming up that we need to clarify for our teens before they get there? When you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what to talk about with your teen. The Holy Spirit is our Paracletos (One called alongside to help) for life; He is our Counselor, our Helper. He knows what’s ahead. Call Him alongside. He wants to guide us.

One summer afternoon several of one of our teenager’s friends were all going to a movie, harmless enough, but a mixed crowd. The Holy Spirit just pricked my thoughts, alerted me, to the fact that I needed to talk to our teenager about what could occur in a mixed crowd and what the boundaries are. Through our discussion, we were helping him look at the road and make a pre-choice for doing right.

In George Barna’s research, he found that parents and kids should be having at least 90 minutes of conversation daily. Clearly, the time is proportionate to the age; however, as parents we want to have the mindset of interpreting the outcomes for our children—of life and death, of blessing and cursing—in the coming and going of life.

Stories are a great way to communicate the outcome of choices. When our children were young, I often told them stories of a “pretend friend” named Pickety-Pockety. He was a playful, mischievous little monkey who came all the way from Africa. Somehow he landed in the very port city where we were living!

Pickety-Pockety had wild and incredible adventures in our own backyard, and his very closest playmates were Anna, Patrick, and Billy. The unfortunate thing is that Pickety often made wrong choices. Through Pickety-Pockety’s mishaps, our children were able to vicariously live out each wrong choice all the way to its fateful fruition.

For example, one incident found Pickety disobeying and leaving the yard where he was supposed to be playing. Through a series of events, he ended up running in the street where he was hit by a car. Of course we had to take him to the hospital; all the while, not even sure that he would live. He ended up being strung up in traction and had a very serious broken leg. Through this episode, an obedience lesson was clearly demonstrated in a way that they could relate to and even enjoy.

Biographies are another excellent tool for teaching our children of all ages about life choices. Consider some of the great men and women of history, or a missionary family, or maybe even stories from your own ancestry. Reading books out loud, as a family, provides not only the opportunity to stop and discuss, but it also affirms our relationships as we participate in this activity together.

Enjoy the summer with your children. Help them learn about the goodness of God who helps us know the consequences of our choices . . . ahead of time!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

RELATIONSHIPS: Battling and bickering!

Staying at home with my kids was a great joy when they were younger. Being a teacher, I enjoyed planning little learning lessons for them to do. Happy and busy, things would rock along fairly well. Then there would come times when things were not good at all. Selfishness can rear its ugly head at any moment. You learn to hear it in their voices—the tone, the stridence, the pain showing as anger.

We handled this in different ways at different times. When I knew they just needed space, I gave it to them. I just told them to do different things away from each other. Anna: reading time, Patrick: piano practice, William: reading, Judith: reading, Jean-Luc: blocks, Danny: nap. Fortunately, you know your kids, so you know the different activities each one can do alone.

When harsh words were spoken, I simply said, “When sweets don’t come out, sweets cannot go in.” That child would receive no sweet treats and no desserts for the rest of that day.

Keith’s mom told us once, “You don’t need to ‘see’ everything. So let them work some things out themselves.” Sometimes they can work it out; sometimes they can’t. What we didn’t want was for there to be no resolution and for resentment to grow. If they weren’t making progress, we stepped in.

Relationships are so important to me because I grew up in a home where so many offenses were never resolved. As a single adult, faithful people walked me through a process of clearing my own heart of pain and unforgiveness.

As a young mom, I was reading in the Bible one day when I ran across the story of Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro watched Moses setting up court and judging between the people all day long. He asked Moses, “What is going on?” Moses answered in Ex. 18:16,

Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me,

and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws."

Moses had over a million people to deal with, and he took the time to listen to them and help them resolve their issues. Surely I could do that for my kids.

1. I began to try to help them sort through the facts.

2. I listened to each of them so that they were “heard out.”

3. I made a decision as their arbitrator and explained why. Usually, I took them to the scripture.

4. We asked forgiveness as appropriate.

5. We prayed together.

A couple of other scriptures helped to guide us in these circumstances.

Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Ps. 133: 1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

3 . . . For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

We made it a priority to keep relationships clear. It was work, it took time; but it bore good fruit. As our children have grown and reached adulthood, there is no greater joy than to see them encourage one another and pray for one another.

Take the time.

Every day.

Resolve the issues.

It is worth it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

INTEGRITY: We have to talk

Patricia stuck her head around the corner from the kitchen and said, “We have to talk.”

I was right in the middle of “helping” Danny with math homework. For some reason or another, Danny had a mental block with math. I was simply explaining to him that he had to concentrate, to apply himself, to put forth more effort. It was about 8:30 at night and he was tired. I was becoming more and more exasperated that he could not get it. That’s when Patricia stepped in and said, “We have to talk.”

For us, that meant that we had to go to our bedroom and discuss the current situation. As we entered the bedroom and closed the door, she said, “You’re not helping.”

I immediately became defensive. “He is not trying,” I said. “He is resisting, he is just being stubborn.” And so it went until we came to an understanding in the privacy of our own room. Then I went back to help Dan, who by now had fallen asleep on his notebook. I sent him to bed, and we both got up early the next morning to finish the work.

Patricia and I had agreed that we would not discuss the kids in front of them. Too often as teachers, we had witnessed conversations where parents criticized either the teacher or the spouse or the student. The children heard it all. They came to disrespect the other adults involved or to adopt a wrong opinion of themselves . . . or both.

We had agreed not to argue in front of the kids. Somehow in the course of time, we had struck upon this phrase, “We have to talk.” It always meant that we were going to our own room to discuss the matter away from the hearing of the kids.

Because Patricia and I grew up in very different family cultures, we often disagreed regarding issues from discipline to homework. Mature friends had warned us not to discuss “emotionally charged issues” in front of the kids. So the bedroom became our place of discussion.

Did our kids know that we argued? Probably. Did they know what we said? No. What they did know is that we stood together.

It is extremely important that you present a united front with your children. Early in our parenting days, we were counseled to take our arguments to a private place. We watched others who did not do that and realized that the counsel was good. Several benefits were evident to us:

1) We would set an example of unity in the home.

2) We would spare the children from awkward and unnecessary pain.

3) We represent God to our children, and we know that the Trinity does not argue.

4) Each of us needs the tempering of the other because we are not always righteous.

Even an infant can still catch the spirit in a conversation or the tone of voice. It does affect him. Begin early to develop the habit of working things out privately.

The “we have to talk” talk did me good. We came out with a new strategy for Dan and math. We moved his study time to earlier in the day when his mind was fresh and when my patience was still in existence.

Another short anecdote along this line. Amy, one of my former students, was extremely exasperated with her parents. When she talked to one she got the same answer as when she talked with the other. In utter frustration, she complained to her mother, “Talking to you is like talking to Dad, and talking to Dad is like talking to you. You might as well be one person.” Although she did not mean it as a compliment, her parents were pleased at her comment. A few weeks ago, we were privileged to attend her wedding. I have a hunch that her goal will be oneness with her husband.



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

SPIRIT TRAINING: The Thread of Life

Randa Reaves was probably only nineteen years old, but she helped us become better parents. Randa was working as the receptionist/secretary at the church. Bright, friendly, competent, Randa had a relationship with the Lord that was evident. One day, Keith asked her this question: What did your parents do that caused you to follow Jesus?

After thinking a minute, she said something both simple and profound. “My dad read the Bible to us each morning before breakfast. However busy we were, however rushed, we took time to read God’s word.”

A simple routine profoundly affected Randa.

We saw this principle clearly stated in two Old Testament scriptures. The first one was

Deuteronomy 6:6

These commandments that I give you are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along, and when you lie down and when you get up.

Of course, the first thing we saw was that we had to be followers of Jesus ourselves. Then the next thing was that we would impress that on our children. We would talk about God and his ways throughout the day. He would be part of our routine. That idea was reinforced by

Isaiah 28:9-10:

"Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule ; a little here, a little there."

It seemed to be understood in this passage from Isaiah that children learn by doing, by consistent rules, and little by little. If our goal is to pass on the kingdom of God to our children, surely our daily lives and routines ought to reflect that. “Faithful in little, ruler over much.”

We simply added brief moments in our day that honored God and his word.

Scripture before breakfast

A song on the way to school

Saying a memory verse together before supper

Proverbs before bedtime

Prayer before going to sleep

Prayer before taking a trip

Scripture and prayer to settle arguments

As we looked for ways to include God in our practical, everyday lives, we found that He belonged there. Our daily additions were not intrusive but part of our day, part of who we were. They helped to define us and to give identity to our children.

If we brush our teeth two or three times each day because we want healthy teeth, how much more important is it to take care of our souls. You have to build important things into the routine of life. We believed that God’s ways were top priority. So we were encouraged to try to weave the thread of His truth and his ways into the fabric of our days.