The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NO DEAD ENDS: a training goal

    Haven Hightower is unsinkable. What an incredible quality! Paul had that quality: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Nathan Hale had that quality: “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” And Haven has it.

    When Haven was in middle school, she was unstoppable. Her grades were at the top. Her socializing was wholesome and fun. Her basketball skills were intense: her defense was insanely bothersome to opponents, her rebounding was strong, and her shooting was over the top . . . of the goal.

    The thing that characterized her the most was best summed up by Patricia, who taught Haven language arts. Patricia simply said, “Haven has no dead ends. No matter what the situation, Haven always looked for a solution.” When others were disappointed, Haven found a thread of hope, a new road.
    How did she become like that?

    We are very fortunate to know her parents, Bill and Susan. They trust God. They pray. In dark hours, they look for the dawn. They have passed these qualities on to Haven. Haven just celebrated her 20th birthday

    For the follower of Jesus, there are no dead ends. There are S curves, and turns, and stoppings and ceasings, even U-turns, but no dead ends. A man or woman of faith knows that a door will always open or that God can make a way in the desert. Even death itself is a door, it is not an end.

    Let’s agree to give our children this gift of confidence in God’s Almighty power. Slavery can be overcome, a sea can be parted, a giant can be slain, a fiery furnace can be harmless, the lions’ mouths can be shut. With God all things are possible.
    We do not know what the future may hold, but we can pass on faith to our children. Faith that a problem is not a dead end, but an opportunity for God to show Himself strong. Like the coming of the end of the year, there is a certainty that there will be the beginning of a new year—right away.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (New Living Translation)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
    He will show you a way out!
                                 He will show you a way out!
                                                              He will show you a way out!
                                                                            NO DEAD ENDS!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


     We were all between eight and twelve years old, and the kids in my neighborhood just knew that we were getting bicycles for Christmas. All of us. But we didn’t know where our parents had them stashed. The days between school getting out and Christmas morning were spent discussing, searching, and wondering where those bicycles were. We knew that our parents often hid Christmas gifts for other families and that other families often hid our gifts. That particular year, they had us stumped; and the mystery was fun for us and for our parents.

    And then—Christmas morning—there were the bikes!  My mom still has the picture of six of us lined up on our bikes with smiles as big as Texas. There was one older couple on our street whose kids were grown and gone. Their basement had held our presents the whole time. We never thought about their house as a possibility. Ah, the wisdom of parents.

    In our own family we have also enjoyed some fun Christmas mornings by adding some suspense to the mix. One year, we got Judith a little flop-eared rabbit, but we didn’t put it under the tree. We put it in the garage. Judith opened a gift that had a clue to look under the couch, where she found a clue to look in a closet, where she found a clue to look in a cabinet until she eventually found a clue to look in the garage. By the time she found the rabbit we were all hopping!

    Sometimes we used riddles to give clues. Sometimes we hid presents in a little box in a bigger box in another box.

    One family that we know hides a pickle on the Christmas tree. Whoever finds the pickle gets to open the first gift. To them that’s a big dill.

    Patricia and Anna fill each stocking with a personal touch. Anna has participated in this ritual since she was about ten.

    This week, post a comment (below) and share one of your Christmas ideas or traditions for your family. We will all have a great time reading them and we may broaden our traditions to include one of yours.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gifts—“I asked for it; I oughta get it."

    When our children were younger and our finances were tight, Patricia and I agreed to buy them three Christmas gifts: a book, clothing, and a toy/game. Although they were disappointed at times because they did not get the “gift” they wanted, they were generally happy and learned to handle those times. On the other hand, we noticed that birthdays (when they received all the gifts) produced some pretty stinky little attitudes. More was not necessarily better. 
Matthew 7:9-10
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?”

    This verse shows that a good father will not give a bad thing if a good one is asked for; but it doesn’t promise that he will give exactly what is asked for.

    John Piper gives this illustration: “But what if we ask for something that is bad for us? My little son Benjamin once asked for a cracker, and when I opened the box, they were moldy. I told him that they had fuzz on them. He wasn’t sure what I was talking about and said, “I’ll eat the fuzz.” But I didn’t give them to him. He got some other treat that day. Maybe not what he preferred. But it was good for him. He asked. I gave. But not the exact request. I love him too much for that.”

    The point is that our children are not mature enough to really know what is good for them. The popular toys are not always the best. Did Barbie ever model realistic womanhood? Godly womanhood? Wholesome womanhood?

    Ryan and Elita Friesen shared with us that when their four-year-old son began to ask for all the gifts that he had seen, or item after item that he saw in the store, they knew that they had to do something. This is what they did. Every time he asked for something, they told him that he would have to give away one of the toys that he already had. At four, he began to change his tune and temper his words so that he no longer asked for things. Instead of saying, “Dad, I want that,” he began to say, “Dad, look at that!”

    Television and advertising plant seeds of need and greed in all of us. We begin to think as if we simply cannot get along without a certain phone, a particular toy, or the newest fashion. As impressionable as children are, it is no wonder that they succumb to the pressures of professional advertisers. Then the problem really becomes worse when we as parents allow ourselves to be shaped by the ads working through our kids. We give away what we know is best and just give our kids what they ask for. I think a little parent rebellion along this line might be good for our kids, our families, and our society.

    Perhaps the best gift we could give our children is to teach them how to give.

Acts 20:35 
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:
 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

    Turning our attention from ourselves to others is a big part of maturing and a basic aspect of love.

    This year, in addition to giving presents to one another, we are all chipping in some money and a pitch for our favorite cause. After discussing the worthy charities, we will attempt to arrive at a consensus on which one is the most worthy (or needy) and award our donations to that one.

    Phil Tuttle, from Walk Thru the Bible, tells how his dad used to pick a needy family and involve the kids in a secret mission. They would scope out their schedule, deliver gifts to their porch, ring the doorbell, and run, diving into the car, squealing tires to make an exciting “get-away” just as the people opened the door. What a way to make it fun.

    Christmas is a great time to turn our children “toward others.” Give some thought and prayer to how your family can be a blessing to someone else this Christmas. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth . . . good will toward men.” Involve your children in the process, and you will reap great dividends.
                                                                                                                        So will they.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

TRAINING: Have children; spread God's glory


     In Genesis 1, God instructs man, who is created in His image, to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” Have kids; spread my glory. Obviously, God wanted Adam and Eve to have children. Secondly, he wanted them to fill the earth with His image. Since he told them this before the fall, it would be God’s likeness and glory that would be spreading and subduing the earth, not man’s.

    It seems to me that we as humans have been better at multiplying than at spreading God’s image. The only problem with spreading our own image across the globe is that we seem to value having children less and less.

    In other words, we don’t seem to think that multiplying ourselves is all that glorious.

    God intends for us to have children so that His glory would be made manifest throughout the earth. Fruitfulness and multiplication has a purpose rooted in the image of God bestowed on us in creation. We are to have children who will reflect God’s image.

    Now consider Psalm 127: 3-4. “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

    Again, two things stand out to us. First, children are a reward or blessing from the Lord. Secondly, children are like arrows to be aimed, guided in a certain direction.

    These two thoughts go together as two sides of the same coin. Our children are a blessing when we aim them toward Jesus, the exact image of God. If we fail to direct them in His way, they will probably not be the blessing that we hoped them to be. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of these kinds of children.

    You see, many people are asking the question, “How many arrows make a full quiver?” That’s might be the wrong question. A better question is “What kind of arrows are in your quiver?” Sharp, straight, true? Another question might be: Who is shaping the arrows in your quiver, you or the culture?

    Here are some other questions we must answer: What kind of man or woman are we as we hold these arrows in our hands? Are we warriors? Or are we pacifists? Do we dare take a stand in the middle of a culture that despises children? Can we build up and support and train our children when the culture pervades every part of life? Are we aiming our children toward eternal things?

    One more passage, Malachi 2: 15 says, “Has not the LORD made them (the parents) one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” In reference to Genesis, Malachi speaks to the truth that the husband and wife are to be one. Why? To produce godly children. From the first book of the Old Testament to the last book, the heart of God is to produce children that reflect His glory, children who are godly. Children who become godly adults.

    Let’s stand strongly for our families, for our spouses, for our children. Let’s fill the earth with the likeness of Jesus. It begins at home.

    Don’t just carry your arrows around in your quiver,
or in your car;
                                           aim them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LONG-RANGE VIEW: Why risk it?

     In their day, the Pilgrims were called Separatists because they separated themselves from the Church of England. They met in their homes in secret to read the Bible and worship freely. This was in contrast to the Puritans who remained in the church of England with the hope of purifying it. For the Separatists, this meant that the king and his officials became their enemy; Separatists were the “trouble makers” and were officially persecuted. The government broke up the secret meetings; they took their positions, their properties, and arrested them. This is how the Separatists became wanderers for their faith, pilgrims; they left England and fled to Holland in 1608.

    Settling in Leyden, Holland, they were able to worship freely. The Dutch had been persecuted by the Spanish years earlier and were much more tolerant of different ways to worship Jesus Christ. In Leyden for twelve years, the Pilgrims worked hard and sought to make it a home, but it was not to be.

    Language was a barrier. Making a living was difficult. The culture was foreign to them. Over the twelve years there, they realized that their children were growing up speaking a different language, learning a strange culture, unaware of their own heritage, and straying from their faith. Their ability to shape the hearts and minds of their own children was dangerously hampered. Something had to be done.

    This was a key factor in motivating them to take the risk to go to the New World. God had given them the insight to see past their own generation into the next. Why did these men and women risk everything to come to America? Why leave civilization to go to the wild regions of an unknown place? They were looking to the future, toward their children and grandchildren and beyond.

    That’s why they secretly returned to England to board ships bound for America. They risked their lives in order to gain a future for their children. They sacrificed, but they did not call it that. They called it opportunity; they called it God’s will.

    They were like the children of Israel that Moses delivered from Egypt. They were like Abraham who heard God’s call and followed. They were also mothers and fathers who were moved to action so that they could offer their children the opportunity to know Jesus Christ who was the reason behind it all.

    I have a friend who runs an orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico. He established their own school in order to sow faith in the children there. That was not an easy task.

    As the principal of a Christian school, I see parents each year sacrifice in order to sow a future of faith in their children.

    Some homeschool, some teach Sunday school, some get involved in youth groups, some move to different cities, some turn down promotions, some curb their travel and consequently their income.

    Like the Pilgrims, parents today all around us are driven by their faith to sow eternal truth in the hearts and minds of their children. Often, it is sacrificial.

    May we be among them! Hear their stories. Discover our own. We are pilgrims, too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TRAINING: When fairy tales and history are the same

    Will was in his first year of college and invited a fellow student to join us for Thanksgiving. Inviting others in for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Sunday lunch is pretty normal for us. So Stefano agreed to join us for Thanksgiving. The day before Thanksgiving, Stefano’s mom, her sister, and her daughter surprised him by showing up at the college. Will, asked, “Can they come too?” So our crowd grew a little larger.

    We have tried to apply the pattern of celebration in Deut. 16 to our own holidays:
1)    Celebrate together
2)    Honor the Lord
3)    Remember your history

Deuteronomy 16:9-12
Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you. And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.

    Sometimes it is more difficult when others join in; sometimes it is easier. Either way, we have learned that if we can get through the awkward moments that the worthwhile moments will come.   I had planned to read the Thanksgiving story and so I did. Stefano and his family were not American citizens, so the story for them was fresh and interesting. When we finished reading they wanted to talk about it and discuss it. That was fun, their presence and their interest amplifying our own.

    We celebrated with typical turkey and a table full of Patricia’s best.

    We honored the Lord by asking each person to share an event from the year that caused them to give thanks for his goodness. Our guests happily participated.

    Then I read the story of Thanksgiving from a book by John Brown, one of the early Pilgrims. I had chosen excerpts that demonstrated the hand of God in guiding and preserving that first group of brave men and women. We read the miraculous story of Tisquantum (Squanto), of their prayer for rain during a drought and how God answered, and of course, of the first Thanksgiving.
Stefano’s mom commented, “I have never heard these stories.” Unfortunately, she’s not the only one.

    Today, these stories are being avoided in the education of our children. Even worse, they are ignored in the celebrations within our own Christian homes. We’ve got the turkey part, the football part, the family gathering, but we are leaving out our history and God’s place in it. If we don’t remember our history, our "holy days" will not be holy to the Lord but wholly to ourselves.

    Let’s take thirty minutes this Thanksgiving and remember our history. Let’s marvel at the bravery of those who endured persecution, exile, oceans, plagues, starvation, and loss of loved ones in order to worship God freely.

    “Every once in a while, the hand of God is easy to see, and for a brief moment, fairy tales and history are the same thing. This story is about one of those times.” So begins Eric Mataxas’ great little book Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving.
I recommend it to you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

LONG-RANGE VIEW: See small, live small; see large, live large!

    Sunday morning worship. I was singing, praying as we worshipped. In my heart, however, I was concerned for my young teens Anna and Patrick. During that worship time I heard God’s truth come to me. It was both a rebuke and an assurance, like a two-sided coin: “I can do more with their sin than you can do with their perfect behavior.”

    I was struck by the clarity of that thought and by its immediate application in my life. We had raised our children with clear boundaries, teaching them to “obey with a good attitude.” Nevertheless, life itself was not fitting into such a neat package. They were growing and developing as their own persons and our control was lessening. We would see good fruit but also stuff we didn’t like in them. (It sounded a lot like ourselves, actually.)

    God was rebuking me that my faith and trust were not in Him but in my own ability to be a good parent. We were trying to control our kids. As we saw that we were gradually losing control, we didn’t like it. We were asking ourselves many questions:
Why are they developing these attitudes?
Why are we responding more sarcastically with them?
Why is there so little peace?
What are we doing wrong?
Why are they deliberately trying to frustrate us?

    It was in that context of life that God spoke to me during worship that He could do more with their sin than I could with their perfect behavior. He was saying to me that my kids would sin, that they were human. He was saying that He was the Redeemer: that where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. He was telling me to trust Him, to give my children to Him—again.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
    We talked about it, prayed about it, and gave our children to Him again. They were His children; we were stewards. He was Master, we were servants. We breathed deeply and let go.

    We stayed involved, prayed, cared, conversed, and continued to do the things parents do, but with a larger understanding. God was at work, even in our failures, even in their failures, even in our sin, even in their sin.

    In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds). When it was discovered that the field that was sown with wheat was growing an inordinate amount of weeds, the servants asked, “Shall we pull up all the tares?” But the owner of the field said, “No.”  He knew that pulling up the tares would also destroy too many of the good plants. He counseled waiting until the harvest when all those things could be sorted out.

    That’s what He was saying to me that morning in worship. Sow the good seed and let it grow in contrast with the bad. Life will sort some things out. You will help them sort some things out. Others will step in by His grace and help them sort things out. And some things they will have to sort out with God’s help alone.
    God has done more with their sin than I could have done with their perfect behavior!

Trust Him.
He redeems for He is the Redeemer.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Holidays or “Hollow days”? Part 2

Jim Rohn talked about getting a good meal out of the trash. He said, “If you work hard, if you search, if you are determined, you could probably come up with some good things out of the trash heap. But is that how you really want to get your dinner? Even once?”

Of course not.

When it comes to training our kids, Halloween can be that kind of experience. As adults we can sort through all the costumes, decorations, and scary movies without much trouble. It is so easy in fact that we can forget to protect the little ones who have no filters for all that stuff.

Try Philippians 4:8 as a standard. Use each key word as a heading and list the things from Halloween that fit that heading.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
think about such things.

Consider the age of your children as a key factor. Little children until age seven have difficulty discerning real from make-believe. At the same time they are in their most formative stage when it comes to shaping their securities and their fears. I have seen the little ones wrapped around their parents’ legs in fear all because their parents want them to “have some Halloween fun.”

One event can stay in the memory forever, especially when it is traumatic or fear-inducing. Can you remember a time when you were little and you were scared out of your wits by some fun-loving older sibling? Whether it was ghost stories or jumping out from behind a bush, do you remember not being able to sleep because of your fear?

Do you think that a big part of our lives is affected by what we do not see? Are there spiritual forces at work in our world today? The Bible mentions them and warns us. Children are often more sensitive to spiritual things than we are. Jesus spent quite a bit of time setting people free from evil spirits. Do we unnecessarily expose our children to spiritual forces in the name of fun? What kind of doors are we opening during the Halloween season? 

Are Christians different than those around them? Should we be? Is Halloween a good time to demonstrate that difference? I think it is. This Halloween, take the time to explain to your children that we are people of light and not darkness. Explain that following Jesus does require that we live different kinds of lives. Dare to be different in this culture.

It will do something in you and in your children.

(Note: Thank you to those of you who commented last week. If anyone has not read the comments from last week, I encourage you to read them. They are noteworthy.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Holidays or “hollow-days”

    Like it or not, it seems to me that the holiday season now includes Halloween.

    My Halloween journey has gone through quite an evolution through the years. When I was a kid, my parents dressed us up in homemade outfits and sent us into the neighborhood with brown paper grocery bags to say “Trick or treat” and come home with a haul of candy.

    When I entered college, I attended a Christian college and each class was assigned a party to host during the year. I think it was my sophomore year that our lot fell on the Halloween Party. We worked and planned and worked until we were almost ready. As I walked through the “haunted house” that we created, something in me became grieved. My friends and coworkers were Christian, and they seemed fine with the blood and gore and death and fear themes. Nevertheless, I was not at peace; no matter how I tried to ignore my inner warnings. Finally, I went to the class president and asked to be excused from participation. He agreed and I walked away, feeling a little guilty yet a lot relieved. That was the first conflict between my “life in the Spirit” and the dark influences that I saw shaping Halloween.

    The next revelation came for me when I was a young school teacher. Teaching in a public middle school setting during the Halloween season, I was amazed at the restlessness and disruptions during the week leading up to Halloween. A fight or two a day was the norm. When Halloween was over, things settled back down. To me that was noteworthy.
    As young parents, we lived in a neighborhood where houses were on three acre plots. “Trick or treating” was too inconvenient. Our young kids were not seriously caught up in the Halloween hoopla. They accepted our explanations fairly easily.

    On the other hand, I was the principal of a fledgling Christian school and we had to decide what to do about Halloween. We decided not to celebrate it, but we celebrated fall and harvest. We also published information for our school parents of Halloween’s beginnings and history. As time went on our church and school scheduled an alternative activity to give the children a sense of both community and of the celebration of harvest.

    In 2004 we moved into a neighborhood where Halloween was not so easy to avoid. Danny was eleven and the neighborhood kids left some candy on our steps with a “Boo” poster. An attached note explained that he was to pass it on to another child in the neighborhood. We ignored it. It happened again. We tried to ignore it, and ended up explaining to one of our neighbors that “we don’t do Halloween.” On Halloween night, we made sure that we weren’t home. We felt like we were running away.

    In the meantime, Halloween seems to have grown in popularity and seems to be “in our faces” everywhere we go. Our search for answers takes us to God’s word and to the foundational holidays, or feast days, introduced by Moses to the people of God.
Deut. 16: 1-3
Celebrate the Passover of the LORD your God,
Sacrifice as the Passover to the LORD your God an animal from your flock or herd . . .
so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.

    In summary, this passage says three key things, “Celebrate, Honor the Lord, and Remember your history.”

    Can we do this with Halloween? Should we? Do we ignore it, knowing that our kids certainly can’t? Do we participate, exposing our young kids to some of the darker aspects of the celebration? Do we provide an alternative? Do we try to bring it “captive to the obedience of Christ”?
(to be continued)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RELATIONSHIP TRAINING: Teach in the calm; apply in the crisis

     Problem? Name-calling, hurting words, flashing tempers, getting even, slamming doors, shutting out, feeling pain, causing pain. Always a crisis.

     The best time to train and to teach is not in a CRISIS situation. Unfortunately, that’s when we usually try to do it. But when we’re doing that, we are way behind, and “playing catch-up” is hard.

     As a teacher, I had been taught the absolute necessity of schedule and routine for running a class. I found that it was just as necessary for running our home. Although it was a flexible schedule, I often included time to teach the kids from the Bible. Here’s what I learned:
Teach in the calm; apply in the crisis.

     There is just a certain amount of plodding along that must be part of the process of training children.
Isaiah 28:9-10 
"Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children . . . ? For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule ; a little here, a little there."

     The adults of Isaiah’s day were insulted at Isaiah’s repetitions, but repetition for kids is necessary and enjoyable. They like doing the same things over and over. Often as adults, we find it difficult. My kids laugh about how Keith would fall asleep while reading a story to them. His eyelids would get heavy, his words unintelligible, and then his chin would drop to his chest. They would poke him awake and say, “Da-ad, finish the story.” He had read some of those stories ten to twenty times.

     But back to the crisis. When the same things kept happening over and over, I planned a time to look for answers from God’s word. We would read together, discuss it, and talk about how to apply it. The next time the “crisis” occurred, we had our discussions to refer to. We took God’s word and applied it.

      Having a designated time in the week where the children and I got together to learn was an important step in their building and learning processes. Usually a couple of times a week I would gather them and we would sit and talk.  Often, our talks revolved around Scripture. It was part of plodding along, not always fun, not always easy, not always exciting, but vital.
Hebrews 4:12 
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates . . . judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

        Often, we learned about relationships—how to get along, how to love each other, how to treat one another, how to respond, how to forgive. We saw relationships with the Lord and with one another as primary. This was a constant need. Relationships are like fragile plants in the garden of our homes. They need care and attention. Left unattended, bitter weeds grow up.

     One of my great encouragers was“Nanny Duke.” She convinced me of the importance of reading scripture with the children. We saw its effect in her grown children. Her influence sharpened my determination to “get the word” into my own kids. Now she is ninety-six and I still enjoy my conversations with her. She never fails to bring God’s words into our talks.

     An additional note: Sometimes it is hard to find the scriptures that you need for the moment. We found that Touchpoints for Students by Ronald Beers is a great little resource for finding the scriptures to fit certain situations. Arranged alphabetically by topics, you can quickly find scriptures that address the various needs of young lives. You can order it from our website:  It is a great reference book to just grab off the shelf, look something up, find it in the Bible, and prepare your kids for life.
Teach in the calm; apply in the crisis.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RELATIONSHIPS: Getting along is not natural

Getting along is not natural; it is supernatural. It will require godly parental involvement and judgment.

Last week, we began to discuss relationships in our homes. We saw that conflicts need our involvement. As parents, we have to stop what we are doing in order to bring help and healing into the relational conflicts that occur in the course of daily living.

So what do we actually do? How do you stop two fighting children who really are angry and hurt?

Here’s what we learned along the way.

First, go to the place of quarreling. As a parent you carry God’s authority into the situation. Your presence may be needed to stop the escalating behaviors.

Secondly, find out what happened by hearing both sides. Allow each one to tell his full story with the other one listening. This keeps the story honest. Clarify the facts as much as possible.

Acknowledge their feelings: anger, hurt, frustration. Ask, “How did you feel when ___________________?”

Uncover their actions and responses. "So, what did you do?"

Help them evaluate their responses before God. “Was it OK that you _____________?” What does the Lord say about this? (At this point, you are appealing to truth from previous Bible study times. You are attempting to draw out what they know and apply it to this situation.)

Resolution: let the one who did the wrong ask forgiveness.  In many cases, they will both be wrong. Forgiveness must be asked on each side. One will ask, “Will you forgive me for _____?” Then wait for the response: “Yes, I forgive you.”

Have them pray for each other. James 5: 16  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Many times this is enough, but other times, you may need to follow up with discipline so that the resolution is just. Things should be made right. You may also want to follow up with a Bible study at a later time when tempers have cooled and emotions are calmed.
As they grow older, they will use these tools in resolving their conflicts with one another and with others.

Psalm 133:1 in the Message expresses our goal:
“How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

RELATIONSHIPS: “A little heaven on earth” at home

    Occasionally as I am grading papers, I find that there is a little window into the souls and lives of my students, which actually is what I hope for.  I hope to build relationships, to get to know the kids that I teach.
    Here are a couple of samples from the past:
       “My brother loves to torment me about many things.”
        “When I was little, my sister would taunt me with toys until I cried.”

    When I read these, I was sad.  I saw that the relationships in their homes had brought pain instead of strength and comfort. Too often these hurts and resentments that happen in childhood go unresolved and are carried into adult years.  That’s why so many people don’t enjoy family get-togethers.

    Another longtime friend related to us that his daughter was coming home for a few days, but he wasn’t looking forward to it.  “It’s only a matter of time before arguments break out between her and her sister,” he confided in me. “Actually, I dread it when they are home together.” 

It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Didn’t Jesus pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? If we use heavenly wisdom, we can build a heavenly family. Building is intentional and purposeful. You trip accidentally, you run into things accidentally, you break things accidentally; but you build on purpose.

    Yet, it is a typical statement made by adults to kids, “Now, you two get along!”  THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GET ALONG! It is not possible for kids just to “get along” while the adults in their lives do “important things.” Since nothing is more important or more eternal than our kids, we have to be involved in their squabbles and teach them how to work them out.

    In Exodus 15, when Moses was leading the children of Israel through the desert, his father-in-law came to see him.
“When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why are you sitting by yourself, and all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.  16  When they have a dispute, it comes to me and I decide between a man and his neighbor, and I make known the decrees of God and his laws.”

    As a mother of six children, when I read this I thought, “Even if I think I am super busy, I can’t be too busy to help my children know the ways of God. Even this great man, Moses, stopped what he was doing to listen to the disputes of the people and help them decide who was right and who was wrong.
    What am I doing that is more important than helping my children walk with God and value others? If Moses stopped to resolve disputes, shouldn’t I?”

    The answer is, “Yes.  I should stop what I am doing.  I am not too busy.”  People are the only thing we have in this world that we can take with us to the next.

    “...on earth as it is in heaven.”  If we want a heavenly home, we have to involve ourselves in helping our children understand God’s ways, take responsibility for their own actions, ask for and receive forgiveness for wrongs committed.

    If we don’t do this, the issues go unresolved and fester . . . even into the adult years.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

DISCIPLINE: # 1 mistake parents make

    George Barna’s research team uncovered the number one mistake that parents make. Do you want to know what it is? Inappropriate discipline. At least,that’s what their kids say when they grow up. They say their parents’ discipline was too lenient, too harsh, too inconsistent, too much, too little, too bad.

    And here’s the kicker: THAT STATISTIC DOESN’T SEEM TO BE IMPROVING. When it comes to discipline, we as parents face a lot of uncertainty. We want to know what works. We want results. We want our kids to love us and to know that we love them. And we want it by this weekend.

    Added to our uncertainty is an ever-growing list of disciplinary techniques, child psychologies, societal warnings, new magazines, Oprah, and the “Daddy Daycare” movie.


    There is the Bible. There are the words and thoughts of God. The Bible makes numerous recommendations: instruct, direct, lead, show, rebuke, admonish, spank, encourage, correct. When appropriate. Obviously, spanking is not the only means mentioned in the Bible, so spanking is not always appropriate—but it is sometimes.

    And it is not all that simple. Having the words of the Bible does not mean that we can easily see how to apply its truth. We all need help. We can learn from those who have gone ahead of us. Patricia and I learned a lot from older couples whose children were like what we wanted ours to be like. We encourage you to ask for help, advice, and prayer.

    Following are a few Biblical principles that are clear:

    Build the context for discipline. That context is a loving relationship. LOVING YOUR KIDS WILL COVER A LOT OF MISTAKES.  If you have little or no relationship, if your kids don’t know that you love them, your discipline will be ineffective. By the way, you spell love T-I-M-E.

    IT IS RIGHT THAT PARENTS DISCIPLINE THEIR KIDS. IT IS WRONG IF WE DON'T. We are not their buddies; we are their parents. God expects us to discipline them out of our love for them. To fail to discipline them is to fail to love them. The worst kind of discipline is none at all.

    DAD AND MOM MUST AGREE. Your kids cannot serve two masters. Go to your bedroom and discuss your disagreements until you can come out on the same page, for the sake of your children. Your family will work out the specifics differently than Patricia and I did. That's okay. Your methods will not be exactly like ours. That's okay. We don't have to agree with you, but you will have to agree with each other. This is a powerful key: Dad and Mom must agree.

ONE MORE VERY IMPORTANT THING. YOU WILL HAVE TO PRAY. Accept that fact. Ask God for help, on your knees, together. More than anyone else, He knows how to do this thing we call family. That’s the real secret. For God’s glory and purpose are best passed on at home, in the family. In your family.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Training: Homework

     Years ago, we received a note from Will’s fifth grade teacher. She just wanted us to know that Will had gotten a zero on some homework because he did not turn it in. When we questioned Will about it, he admitted that he had not done the homework. I asked him, “Why not?”
    His response, “I had soccer practice.”
    Was that supposed to make sense to us? Patricia and I looked at one another and decided to have a short parent meeting in our room. After discussing the situation, we decided to do nothing . . . until the next soccer practice. Our plan was this: zero on homework = zero soccer practice. We let the coach know, but not Will.
    When it was time to go to soccer, he was ready. “No soccer today,” we said. Then we explained our zero/zero consequence. HE LISTENED REALLY WELL.  After that day, we didn’t have problems with zeroes on homework.

    Since school is just beginning for this school year, let’s look at a few thoughts that might be helpful. Patricia and I are teachers. We were both good students, and we expected our children to do well in school. Nevertheless, we did not take it for granted that they would do well. We plowed the ground and sowed the seed to reap the right kind of harvest. You can do the same.

1.    We limited video, TV, and video games to the weekends. Monday night through Thursday night were for studies. The whole household lived by this rule. The TV was off. We all worked during the week. We might play a game together or do something fun, but video was not the answer. (There were some exceptions but they were rare). By making school and studies top priorities, we gained a lot of peace in our home.  If mom and dad agree, this is a very helpful habit to build in your home.
2.    Patricia scheduled their time after school: Snack time, playtime, practice-time, study-time, dinnertime, family time, Bible time, bedtime. We were flexible, we adjusted as necessary, but we had a plan and worked it. It worked.
3.    We had a place for homework for each of the children. Since the kids were different, they studied better at different places. Some at the table where we could see them, others in their rooms, others in the living room. We found what worked best for each one and that’s what they did. When some needed help, we were near.
4.    We kept their supplies close by. This was probably our weakest point because there were six of them and we tended to share supplies in order to save money.
5.    We checked on them. We checked their work, if necessary.

    Patricia and I are not special people. We didn’t do special things. We did proven things. We did ordinary things consistently. That’s all. If you do these same kinds of things that others passed on to us, you will get similar results. If you plant apple seeds, you reap apples. If you plant acorns, you get oaks. If you uproot video and plant schedule and place and supplies and check-up, you will reap better students . . . perhaps not immediately, but eventually.
    As you begin this school year, prayerfully decide what you want over the long haul, and set your kids up for success.