Have You Been Noticed Lately?

27 08 2018

My grandson often repeats, “Papaw, did you see me…” or, “Watch me…” You can fill in the blank with almost anything he does or desires to be noticed doing.  It can be a really small thing, however he still longs to be observed.  He lives for that voice of approval and praise.  It’s a child thing, right

 

Actually it’s a people thing.  Do you desire your spouse to notice you?  How about your boss?  Do you like it when your teacher notices your extra effort or when your neighbor compliments you on your landscaping?

 

Here is the troubling thing in longing to be noticed.  If it’s simply all about me, then I can’t be noticed enough. If being noticed connects to my personal need for security or affirmation, I can’t get enough.  In my desire to build some level of esteem, my need becomes insatiable.  

 

Did you know that God notices you?  Why wouldn’t He, He created you.  He longed for your time to be born.  He has always had a plan and a desire for your life.  He has never given up on you and He is continually watching you, noticing you and delighting in you.  All other approval can become lost and we can become deeply discouraged in our self-effort to be noticed, but He waits to show you His love and His approval.

 

No spouse, no child and no parent can satisfy your longing to be noticed. However, God knew you before you were even found in your mother’s womb. (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4) You have His eye!

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How Often Are You Phubbing?

20 08 2018

There’s a new word in town. Have you heard of it?  That word is a combination of two words: phone + snubbing = phubbing.  Do you know a “phubber?”  How would one know if this describes them?  You can start by asking your friends.  Ask your spouse or even better, ask your children.  If people in your life are trying to get your attention while you’re looking down at a small hand-held screen all too frequently, you just might have a phubbing problem.

 

The actual definition goes like this: the habit of snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone. I’m not kidding. Google it. Seems odd to be writing about this subject, but it is a reality in our technology crazed world today.  Airport travelers run into me while walking and looking down at their phone.  It’s tough getting someone’s attention that actually works in a service department while they’re glued to their mobile screen.  We can forever notice how face-to-face relationships have taken a back seat to an email, a text message or a Facebook prompt.  It’s not unusual to hear bells, whistles, buzzes and other such prompts from mobile devices while in a meeting.

 

But here’s who I really feel for.  I am genuinely concerned for the children of the phubber.  These children are pulling on their parents’ arms, legs, saying “Mommy/Daddy” repeatedly, asking questions, trying to converse and the adults are either not responding or saying, “Wait a minute would you?  I have to finish this text message.”  I just want to scream, “PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN AND LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD!”  You brought them into the world to teach, train, listen to, care for, play with and love. PLEASE put your device aside and interact with your child.

 

Not too long ago I was watching the parents on the sidelines of a younger children’s sporting event. Parents, not too far back in the history of parents attending their child’s sports activity, would actually watch their kids on the playing field, yell and scream words of motivation and affirmation. Today, they’re looking down, addicted to a device that is causing them to miss watching their children grow up. And when that child asks, “Daddy did you see me…?” You can fill in the blank. That parent will lie and say, “Yea buddy, you were great!”

 

One day those same children will have their own device and then the snubbing of a parent will quickly and sometimes, most deservedly take place.





A Life Too Young To Leave This Earth

6 08 2018

Recently Mary and I, along with an auditorium full of people, attended a memorial service for a 19-year-old woman.  She lost her earthly life in the recent Lancaster County, PA flooding.

The service was worshipful and honoring to her, albeit extremely emotional.  There is that mixture of sorrow and joy surrounding a time of tragedy like this one, but she and her family loved Jesus and that love was passionately evident during the service.

No one would have thought this beautiful, vibrant and loving teen would have gone to her eternal home this early, too early.  No one was prepared for the loss of a life full of joy, love and caring for others. Even her Italian restaurant owners where she found employment shared through tears that her love and care for the other staff was like no employee they’ve ever employed.  She was a light to all who knew her.

Besides honoring this lovely young lady, what’s my point?  Imagine if this family would have not prepared their daughter for her eternal home.  Imagine if they just never got around to sharing and living the truth of the gospel. Imagine if she never heard the life-giving Scriptures and applied them to her walk on earth.  And, imagine if she would have chosen to walk a different way than her family taught her.

The greatest gift that you can give your children, a child or those around you is Jesus.





Parenting? Try Being a Grandparent

9 07 2018

I absolutely love being a grandparent.  I have been named, “Papaw.”  What an honor to hold, to love and to care for these little ones.  To hear the words, “Papaw’s home” is music to my ears as it reminds me of when my children were small.  I wrote a former blog that called, “Grandparenting a Lost Art” and it is, but it is as well, a second chance.

 

It’s a second chance at being calm, filled with peace and less anxious in my parenting.  It’s a second chance at having time dedicated to my three grandsons for what THEY desire to do.  It’s a second chance at being less concerned about provision and work and more concerned about making them laugh and taking rides on “Mr. John Deere.”  It’s a second chance at saying ‘yes’ rather than saying ‘no’ all too often for my personal convenience.  And it’s a second chance to read to them and to listen to them or just to sit and have conversation at their level about the stuff on their mind.

 

Are you a young parent today?  Can you look at the above paragraph and then ask yourself, “How can I make all of these happen today in my parenting, not waiting until I’m a grandparent?”

 

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children. Psalms 103: 17





A Car Stolen or a Gift?

29 06 2018

They say to, “drive it like you stole it.”  Little did I know he actually would!

 

I have given several cars away in my lifetime, but this one…it didn’t go as planned. Having a car business on the side since 1996, I’ve had the opportunity to purchase a lot of cars for a lot of people in need of updated vehicles.  Initially this one was no different, or so I thought.

 

The purchaser was one of our former foster children.  I sold his high mileage, worn out car for him and then purchased a newer used model. When we signed the paperwork he gave me a check for the sales tax, but failed to pay me for the car.  He told me he was in dire straits and needed to use the money I gave him for his trade-in for past due bills.  And then he asked me to be his bank, by providing a loan for the new purchase.  Because I knew him, loved him and trusted him, I said I would, even handing the title of the car over to him. (That last part re: the title? Not a good move by the way.)

 

A year later not one single payment was made.  I realized none were forthcoming.  I tried contacting him, but his phone number was changed.  Feeling very taken advantaged of, I prayed and asked God what I should do.  He told me to forgive the debt and to write him a letter expressing those words.  I obeyed, but never heard from him again.

 

Over a year later I received a letter from his biological mother.  She wrote that her son committed suicide and when going through his possessions she found my letter of forgiveness to him.  In her grief, she took the time to thank someone who loved and cared for her boy.  While certainly not a happy ending, I was so thankful for obeying the voice of God.  I hoped that somehow it made a difference in his life for eternity.

 

I suppose too often we can look at how life affects only us and forget how it’s affecting others. Who is God daring you to love today without expectation of return?





Comparison is a Killer

28 05 2018

I am not totally sure why comparison is so often our human go-to mode.

I’m guessing the experts would have a lot to say on the subject, but the Bible has something to say as well.  It states, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  (II Cor. 10:12)  Pretty straightforward, eh?

 

Some years ago I wrote a tract about developing a child’s self-esteem and started out with the story of Maggie.  I observed that Maggie never combed her hair, brushed her teeth, looked in a mirror or compared herself with anyone.  She was our Labrador Retriever whose full name was Sweet Magnolia of Pheasant Hills, aka Maggie.  She knew who she was, who she was created to be and she knew our unconditional love and acceptance of her.  Perhaps that’s what’s missing in our lives…knowing who we are, what we’re created for and that we’re all unconditionally loved and approved of by our Father in heaven.

 

The Bible says that comparison is unwise. Why? When we compare ourselves to someone else we typically come up short or proud, insignificant or feeling better than another.  Obviously these outcomes are unproductive and self-deprecating.  Comparison is often full of feeling less than, not measuring up or lacking in performance.  Or, it’s full of pride, feeling better than and viewing oneself as more significant than others by out performing.  Crazy thing is it’s all within our own minds.

 

If you have children help them to not compare themselves.  Children have their own unique gifts and talents.  Do not make performance the determining factor of your love, acceptance and approval of them.  Never compare them with their sibling.  Comparison is full of critical judgment and will eventually kill their creativity.

 

Ask God to help you hear your own thoughts of comparison and allow Him to speak truth-filled words over you rather than your own negative or pride-filled mental dialogue.  I wrote another prayer tract called, Who I am in Christ and it is filled with the truth of scripture to help you know whose you are and why you exist so that comparison can end once and for all.





Growing a Childs Self-esteem

8 01 2018

Maggie has never had a problem with her self-image.  She loves life and makes the best of every minute. She loves people and believes that they all love and accept her unconditionally.  Maggie has never stared into a mirror and felt hopeless. She’s never even desired to look at herself in a mirror and make any kind of judgment.  She is perfectly content with who she is, what she wears, the shape of her body, the color of her eyes, the size of her nose, and the shape of her ears.  Maggie blindly trusts in her Creator.  She is content to be who she is. You see, Maggie is our yellow Labrador Retriever.

There is a lesson in Maggie’s self-acceptance. Maggie is loved and accepted for who she is as a part of our family. She doesn’t need to perform for us. Does she always obey and not get into trouble? No. But her disobedience has never changed the fact that we love her, and she knows it. Neither has it changed how she sees herself. Maggie does not compare herself to the other dogs that wander into our yard. She’s never put herself on a diet because of a fear of losing her wonderful figure. She’s not even concerned about belching or the breath that comes from never brushing her teeth. Maggie is secure in just being a dog and knows her significance to our family.

Early in life children are quite similar. They can look in a mirror and see only good.  Children believe what they’re told.  If I tell my daughter 3 + 3 = 6, she’ll say, “Okay Daddy, 3 + 3 = 6.”

If her older brother tells her the next day that the sum of 4 + 2 = 6, she’ll disagree, because the day before she was told that 3 + 3 = 6. Your pre-school children think in a one-dimensional manner. They do not think abstractly. They cannot decipher truth. They only know what you tell them.

A child receives his self-image through how he perceives the adults in his life perceiving him. When I tell my daughter that she’s beautiful, she will believe that she is beautiful. You see, someone who is very important to her, someone she can trust, someone who is bigger, older, wiser and stronger told her something about herself, and she has no reason to not believe it.

Obviously, the opposite is true. If I, as a parent, tell my children they’re stupid, dumb, bad, worthless, or they have no value, they’ll believe those things and act accordingly. Today we would call this emotional abuse. Years ago it was simply punishment through shame or keeping children “in their place.”

The first stage of a child discovering his worth is through the eyes of those who are important to him. The second is similar but has more to do with performance.

It is not long until we as parents expect things from our children.  We expect them to do their chores, keep their rooms clean, and finish their homework. When they do, we may reward them. When they don’t, we’re sure to let them know about it. Expectations are not wrong; chores are not wrong; rewards are not wrong; and words of correction are not wrong. What is wrong is if you develop within your child this formula:  accomplishment + performance = approval/reward.

God has expectations of His children, but it is not our performances or our accomplishments that gain His approval. God is perfect, yet He is not into perfectionism. In our mere existence, He approves of us.

Let me illustrate. When you brought your newborn son or daughter home from the hospital, did you expect anything of him or her? Did you say, “Here’s the refrigerator; when you’re hungry go ahead and grab a bite to eat”? Of course you didn’t. You expected to do everything for this child without return. It was lots of hard work and sleepless nights. In this baby’s mere existence, you approved of him or her. You had no expectation of performance. That baby, without earning it, had your approval.  Likewise, in your mere existence before God, you have His approval.

When your child begins to relate his or her performance to your approval, he begins to equate what he does as more important than who he is. Ask anyone who felt that he could not perform well enough to meet his parents’ standard, and he’ll tell you that he did not feel good about himself.

If we as parents are relating self-esteem to what our child accomplishes, we are wrong. God is not a harsh taskmaster who only gives His approval when we accomplish something for Him. Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, before performing one miracle, or sharing His first sermon, His Father said to Him, “…this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” What was He pleased with? What had Jesus accomplished?  Even before Christ began His public ministry, His Father affirmed Him and spoke His unconditional love and acceptance to Him.

The answer to a child’s self-esteem is not a high-esteem. The answer is a God-esteem. Your love, acceptance, and approval of your child must eventually translate for him into knowing his heavenly Father’s love, acceptance, and approval.

How is this accomplished? I must correct and reward my children. It’s a part of life. However, I must differentiate that while reward and correction have to do with behavior, it is never a question that I love and accept their personhood. In their mere existence, they are important to me. I always approve of them as individuals. They can never do anything to not be my children. A verse in Colossians, chapter one, will help to explain this principle. Verse 21 tells us that we were at one time alienated from God—even in our minds, because of our evil behavior. “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation…”

Can you grasp that you are “holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation”? Can you instill these words of truth in your child? This is an esteem not based upon performance or accomplishment but based upon what Christ has done.  It’s a God-esteem!

Note: If you would like this article in tract form you can order it here.








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