The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Monday, May 31, 2010

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Do you have a Memorial Day tradition? Should you? What is it all about?

We are not just launching summer fun; we are celebrating something deep and foundational. We are being asked to have a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day to remember those who have given their lives to protect our freedoms.

Silence is not enough. Our children cannot benefit from our silence. When you gather to eat, perhaps your celebration could include these short ideas as part of the blessing of the meal. Here are some thoughts that include the history of Memorial Day as well as the Gettysburg Address (only 276 words). We believe that our gatherings can be enriched by our efforts.

The roots of Memorial Day go back to the Civil War. Over 600,000 soldiers died in that conflict affecting every town, village, and family in the United States. After the war ended, almost everyone would travel and decorate the graves of those who had given their lives. “Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on 30 May 1868.” (

To date, including all the wars our country has fought, over 1.2 million Americans have died in defense of the freedoms that we enjoy.

The Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 was to commemorate those who died on that particular battlefield. Although it was written a few years before Memorial Day was established, it expresses best what Memorial Day represents.


Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth
 on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and
 dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
 whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so
 dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-
field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
 that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave
 their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
 fitting and proper that we should do this.

  But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot
 consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men,
 living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it
 far above our poor power to add or detract. The world
 will little note nor long remember what we say here, but
 it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us, the  living, rather, 
to be dedicated here to the unfinished
 work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
 advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
 great task remaining before us…that from these honored
 dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
 they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here
 highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain;
 that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of
 freedom; and that government of the people, by the people,
 for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

November 19, 1863

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

DISCIPLINE: Do you spank a teen?

One of our guys was having an illicit love affair. He was thirteen; she was fourteen. They were communicating . . . and working out ways to see each other . . . and kissing.  In order for these things to happen, there was a breakdown in his relationship with us, his parents. Lying to us, deceiving us. Trying to be great, dedicated, watchful, on-top-of-things parents, we were completely clueless. We were believing him, trusting him; and all the time, he was not in the light with us. He was discovered because of a tip from one of our friends, from someone who shared our values and was part of our believing community. You must have those people; none of us are self-sufficient.

When our kids were younger we had learned and tweaked our own process for spanking our kids. Lying and deceiving were spanking offenses because we spanked for disobedience, disrespect, and dangerous behaviors. This definitely fit all of those categories, but he was through puberty, now a young adult who was developing adult interests at an accelerated rate. Did the spanking process apply here?

Yes . . . and no.

Our process looked something like this (with variations):

Separate the guilty party from everyone else.
Probe with questions in order to get the facts.
Admit guilt (that is, he should confess).
Nstruct; instruct using God’s word and our experienced judgment.
Kapow; deliver the spank.
Intercede together; pray with him and for him.
Nfold; enfold him or communicate to him that we loved him.
Go back and make things right, as much as possible.

We had already been through most of this process with him concerning this same relationship, but obviously we had been unsuccessful. We had done everything but the spank/Kapow, because we felt that he was too old for that. As we reviewed our previous attempt, we remembered one of the attributes of God that He revealed to Moses: God does not leave the guilty unpunished (Ex. 34:6-7). We realized that we needed a new Kapow besides the spanking. Was there another way to deliver the Kapow? Was there something that would hurt enough to get his attention.

Before getting with him, we discussed our options and what we could enforce. We decided to shut down his life for two weeks: phone, computer, events, friends. It was like a forced Sabbath. Everything would stop for two weeks. We wanted it to be long enough to hurt but not unreasonably long. (Like a spanking, one or two licks would get his attention; but twenty licks would cause resentment.) We also agreed that his response might lengthen that amount of time. We prayed and then looked for the right opportunity to meet with him.

When we met with him, we knew the facts and we gave him the chance to come clean. He didn’t. We laid it all out, and he saw that we knew the facts. He confessed. We talked about building, losing, and then rebuilding trust. We mapped out the punishment and the path to restoration. We read scripture together, prayed together, and talked about the future. It took several hours. Everything in our lives and in his life was put on hold until we came to resolution. We spoke in quiet but determined voices. God helped us and him. By the end of two weeks, he had done everything we had asked him to do. Our relationship was restored and he began to rebuild our trust, little by little.

Everything had to stop.
     Conversation had to take place with openness.
           The Kapow had to hurt, but not damage.
                 The path to make things right had to be clear.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

DISCIPLINE: The Language of Love

     “Talking to Dad is like talking to a brick wall,” I said to Mom fifty years ago.
     This was my conclusion after asking my dad for permission to go to a party with my classmates. He simply said, “No, and I don’t want to hear any more about it.” I wondered how he could be so calloused, so harsh. He wouldn’t even listen to reason, my reason. Fifty years later, I understand my dad much better. His life experience gave him wisdom that I didn’t have; so he said “No.” He also knew that he could be swayed and softened—I didn’t know that at the time—so he just took that option off the table: “I don’t want to hear any more about it.”
     The result of using the word “No” is that he, along with Mom, raised three kids who serve Jesus Christ in their adult years.

     “NO” IS A PROTECTION. After a recent field day event at our school, we were loading children to go home. The change in routine caused a more chaotic feel to the moment, and one boy was about to run into the drive to get to his car. One of the teachers saw him and yelled, quite loudly, “NO!” He stopped in his tracks at the curb. Being able to stop our children with one word is invaluable. It keeps them out of the street, away from the edge of Grand Canyon, away from harm, and away from causing harm. “No” is a protection.

     BOUNDARIES ARE A FORM OF “NO.” A playpen, a fence, a gate, a rule: all of these set limits and as a consequence bring a sense of peace. Although it is the nature of children (and also adults) to want to cross the boundaries, strong borders create an atmosphere of peace. My backyard is a combination of jungle and lawn. It has been difficult to tell when jungle ends and lawn begins until recently. I bought some landscaping timbers and simply defined the limits. Later that week, Will came home, sat on the deck, and commented, “It’s so much more peaceful back here.” Boundaries bring peace.

     “NO” BUILDS CHARACTER. The future holds challenges for our children that will stretch their moral fiber to the maximum. If they follow Jesus, they will need endurance, patience, and courage beyond the norm. Jesus said it this way, “If any man would come after me, he must deny himself. . .” He must say “No” to himself. A man pilfers because he cannot say “No” to himself. A person lies because he can’t deny himself. When a man cannot say “No” to himself, he becomes his own god, and the result is painful: debt, addictions, obesity, anger, depression, divorce, disease, and things like these. “No” prepares our children to face and overcome hardship. As parents, we often feel that saying “No” to our children is cheating them, but that is the opposite of the truth. If we don’t say “No,” we are cheating them out of the most important things. Saying “No” builds their character to face hardship, to sacrifice for their own families, to follow Jesus.

     Eight of the Ten Commandments say “No.” It was the formation of a nation, a beginning that needed clear guidelines. Establishing the negatives in the beginning made room for the positives to come in the promised land. The New Testament says that the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:20) A clear “No” can open the door to a wonderful “Yes.”
     As Christian parents, we have a responsibility to say “No” to our children when they are very young.  If we say “No” in the beginning, we will find that we can say “Yes” when they reach their teens. So many say “Yes” early and then try to bring “No” into the teen years. That creates the conflict and war that so many associate with having teenagers. There is a better way.

     Surprisingly. . .

“No” is the language of love.