This past weekend we were in San Antonio, Texas, for William’s wedding to Maria Jose Fernandez. Two young lovers, two families, two cultures--too wonderful. As you would expect, everything was beautiful. Maria was stunning, Will was handsome, the parents were proud, the crowd was joyful, the weather was perfect, the Lord was smiling.
According to their custom, we gathered at the Fernandez house the next day after the wedding. This was a family gathering. The bride and groom were present in the gathering along with extended family. Of course, conversations were about the wedding but also about getting acquainted with one another. Tulancingo, Mexico meets French-Canadian, Arab, Californian, Scotch-Irish, Southern Americans.
Maria’s parents Jaime and Laura were gracious hosts, attending to everyone from both families. After many of the guests left, only a few remained and we sat around in a relaxed circle, contented and tired. Maria’s grandfather Adolfo Martinez took the guitar and began to strum and sing several Mexican songs. All sat and listened, some sang along, all enjoyed.
As he began one certain song, Jaime translated for me, explaining that Adolfo had composed this song for the family. It was a song that carried the family story and praised the values that were at the core of who they were. The song ended with words to the next generation about staying the course, working hard, being honest, honoring what is honorable, and finding your place in life and society. The patriarch had infused the moment with meaning and substance. Music, story, and purpose were all wrapped up in one meaningful moment.
It was the kind of moment that earth overlooks while heaven applauds. Quiet, unassuming, yet penetrating and powerful within the family. My hat is off to Adolfo Martinez. He hit the target.
Perhaps you remember a simple way that your family passes on heritage, culture, and values. Please feel free to share a comment; we would all benefit.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A Tale of Two Coaches
I played Little League Baseball four years, ages 9-12. Coach Thomas was a perfectionist. I remember him teaching us how to “hookslide” over and over in practice. Rarely, someone would get it right and he would make them freeze while he taught the rest of us. Once that year, I rounded second base heading into third and the throw was coming in toward the home plate side of the third base bag. I focused on sliding out and away from the bag just letting my toe catch the corner. The third baseman tagged the ground in front of the base, but I was beyond the tag. Safe! Coach Thomas was clapping his hands; it had worked just like he taught us. I loved the hookslide, I loved Coach Thomas, I loved baseball.
After Little League, I played Babe Ruth baseball, ages 13-15. The rules were different, the bases longer, the players better. Coach Harris was too busy to practice with us; so most of the time practice was cancelled. One season we had only two practices the whole season. When we started the games, he would call time out and tell us what to do. He might yell at us across the field. He changed our positions several times, trying to find the winning combination. He never found it. He was frustrated, we were frustrated—every game. When I finished my final year of Babe Ruth, I walked away from baseball. I had lost my love for the coach and for the sport.
Some parents are Coach Thomas parents. Coach Thomas parents take some time to think about the game of life and prepare their kids for what’s ahead. “When you meet a bully, look him in the eye. When you are tempted to cheat, pray for strength. When you are making decisions, seek counsel. When you are discouraged, trust God and do something for someone else.” These kids are going to face the crises and understand what to do.
Coach Harris parents are always expecting their kids just to know what to do, but the rules are changing, the stakes are higher, and the kids don’t know their positions yet. When bullies show up, they look away for help. When they are tempted to cheat, they are unclear and give in. When making decisions they procrastinate. When they are discouraged, they give up. When Coach Harris parents try to teach in the crisis, it sounds more like criticism than help. They are frustrated and their kids are, too.
Having used each of these methods at different times, we decided that the Coach Thomas method is better. We hope that you will, too. Why don’t you share a comment about how you are preparing your kids for the game of life?
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
“No sweets before supper!” mom says as she is finishing the icing on the cake. Then she runs her finger along the bowl and wipes out a delicious scoop of chocolate icing and, without thinking about it, pops it into her mouth.
Or Dad comes home from work, throws his jacket over a chair, drops his case on the couch, grabs the sports section of the news, leaves the rest of the paper on the counter, plops down on his favorite throne, I mean chair, turns on the TV, kicks off his shoes, and complains about clutter.
Of course, these areas are not nearly as serious as when we demand the truth but gossip on the phone, teach sharing but act stingy, yell at the kids about yelling at each other, or demand kindness while we act like an ogre (not Shrek).
It is always a temptation for the person in power to use his power to excuse himself from the “rules” of the common man. It is true in politics, governments, sports, Hollywood, and on and on. Sadly, it is also true in families, because it is true in human nature.
It was true of the Pharisees, for in Matthew 23 Jesus spoke to them this message, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” And in verse 25 he said, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”
So this is not a new problem; it is as old as man. And it is easy to fall into this trap without knowing it.
The Pharisees were demanding but not leading. Jesus comes along and says, “Follow me.” This is the standard when the mature lead the immature—when parents lead children: “Follow us.” St. Paul addressed his children in the faith and said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
Another name for this standard is integrity. Your words and your actions match. There is no substitute for it.
We are often blind to the fact that we have set up a double standard. If we ask the Holy Spirit to show us these areas, He will.
As our kids grow up, they notice. They see whether or not we are practicing what we preach. If we want our kids to hear what we say, we must say it with our words and our actions.
Then they will get it.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Jim and Sally are a great couple. They love God, love God’s people, and serve unselfishly. We have known them for over thirty years, they have been married over forty. They had three kids, now all grown and married. They were agreed on their church and their place in it, but not agreed on how to raise kids.
As a matter of fact, they were a walking, talking manual of how not to raise kids in unity. Often there was a conflict about when, how, or whether or not to discipline. Sally was doing her best to submit, but not very joyfully, and not very privately. Jim was always ridiculing Sally’s suggestions and using sarcasm to get a laugh or a snicker from his boys.
The seeds of contempt were sown and the later teen years became quite heart-breaking for Jim and Sally.
When Jim was around, he carried the day; but when he was at work and Sally had the kids, she did things her way. By not backing Jim up, Sally was undermining her own authority with her kids. By not honoring Sally in front of the kids, Jim was sowing seeds of dishonor that would later grow a bitter harvest.
Today, Jim and Sally are still plugging along together. Their kids are grown and raising their own families, Jim and Sally’s grandkids. Struggles are apparent. They are not part of a church, their kids are not obedient, more heartache seems certain.
For Mom and Dad to be on the same page is hard work. It takes a commitment from both. Each parent has a big contribution to make toward unity. Each will have to sacrifice to make it happen. It will be worth it.
The Father wants us to be one because he is seeking children who will display His nature.
Malachi 2:15 “Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit . . .”
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Although Jesus said this about God and money, its truth certainly applies in our homes. Our kids can’t have two masters.