“You’re Not the Boss of Me”

Our pastor told a story in his sermon yesterday entitled “You’re not the Boss of Me” and it immediately brought back memories from my childhood. I’m sure it does for you as well – unless you are an only child.  As a middle child, I was bossed by my older brother and lorded over my younger brother.  I made Gregg play with me and told him exactly what to do. I was like Lucy from the comic strip Peanuts and treated my little brother like Lucy treated Linus. Poor Gregg! I cut his hair, dressed him up, and made him do homework at 4 years old because he was my student when I began my teaching career at 5 years old. (we are 13 months apart in age and I always knew I wanted to be a teacher) When I graduated from high school,  Mrs. Frost, my 1st grade Sunday School teacher,  sent me a note recounting the Sunday I brought a flannel graph story left over from my mother’s Vacation Bible School class. I announced that I would teach the Sunday School lesson that week. Mrs. Frost said I was well prepared and confident in my ability to teach. We bossy types are like that.

Siblings have a pecking order and it is often set at birth. That does not mean the pecking order is established by birth order – it is more often determined by personality. Our 3rd child often was the boss because she knew what she wanted!  Her siblings were generally more easygoing and didn’t care most of the time. Yet, when they did care, we heard those words – “You’re not the boss of me!”

These sibling relationships are a normal part of family life and part of the way children learn to problem solve. It is a chance for siblings to practice those essential life long skills like give and take, taking turns, negotiating for what one wants, and respect of the needs and wants of others.

If one child is extremely bossy, it does need to be addressed by parents. A child who is in charge at home will develop patterns of behavior that will be problematic when they begin school and there is a TEACHER! It also can be detrimental to those children who are being bossed. They may not be able to assert themselves and may start to believe their opinions or choices don’t matter. This can be very hurtful to healthy personality development.

The most important aspect of this issue is that there should be a boss (or bosses) at home – the parents. Someone will be in charge by default,  and if the parents do not take authority – one of the children will.  Children are more secure when parents take the proper authority and protect the children from each other and themselves. Learning to respect the parents as their boss  will prepare children to respect those in authority throughout their lives. The students I see who have the most difficult time in school are those who do not respect authority. Those students are also the most unhappy.

Children who learn that their parents exert their authority with love and care for their children’s best interests will also learn to trust God as a loving authority. Parents must often say “no” to their children for their own good. God will say “no” to us for a greater good – one we may not realize at the time, just as our children don’t understand a parent’s “no”. God wanted us to understand authority and did that by giving Jesus ALL authority. The following verses illustrate that truth. (I added “boss”)

Colossians 1:16-20 (NIV)

16 For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head  (boss) of the Body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.
Don’t be afraid as parents to be the “boss” and live out Godly authority before your children. Our hope as Christian parents is that our children will transfer our authority in their lives over to God’s authority and never say to God – “You’re not my boss”.
Advertisements

Story Time

Everyone loves a good story. Be honest now, remember the last time you were at a baby shower (yesterday for me) with a bunch of women –  many with a birthing story to tell. It is amazing! Anyone who has had a child has a story – some are funny, some painful, some are hard to believe, some can’t remember anything because they were drugged, and some are sadly tragic. Yet each story ends with a birth. My friend Carol, a long time labor and delivery nurse, says that the saddest births are those that end in a still- born delivery. Dear friends of ours lost a baby soon after she was born and I remember what a painful time that was.  After nine months of anticipation and planning all the hopes and dreams of sharing that new life die with the death of that baby.

Sharing these stories, good and bad, happy and sad keep alive the memories of these precious little lives however brief. Sharing the stories of those babies who did not live or had very short lives allows future children to acknowledge that their life is a gift – not a given.

Children love to hear stories about their birth and early years. The story gives each child a sense of belonging and family heritage that is important as they form their self image. This is important for adoptive children as well. The fact that they were chosen by the adoptive parents and the story of the effort that those parents made to include them in the family will help those adopted to feel every bit as loved and valued as biological children. The shower yesterday was for an adopted little girl. The testimony that her mother shared is a lovely story of God’s grace and faithfulness in the adoptive family’s life as well as in the life of that precious little girl whose birth mother chose life.

This is a time of the year when many of us celebrate the sanctity of human life. As we do so, we remember that each life is ordained by God and so precious in His sight. The following verses were written by the Psalmist before there were x-rays, ultrasounds, or CAT scans. Yet they acknowledge what we now can see through scientific techonology – what grows inside the womb is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being; 
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
   your works are wonderful, 
   I know that full well. 
15 My frame was not hidden from you 
   when I was made in the secret place, 
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book 
   before one of them came to be.

This is a story we must tell our children and grandchildren. Each of them is made in the image of God and as their lives unfold, the story of their lives has been written in God’s book – planned by the God of the universe.

Distractions

Okay – truth be known – I am easily distracted. (hold the “amens”, girls!) One of our daughters used to call out “Gayle” loudly when “Mom” failed to get a response after three or four tries. That did get my attention! I’ve always said my mind is on higher things – although that may not always be the case. I also have claimed I have an active mind. I am visually oriented, which has served me well as an artist, but occasionally leads to swerving off the road while spying particularly deep blue hydrangeas in someones yard, or noticing a combination of fall foliage that is striking. This is not due to advanced age – I attribute our youngest daughter’s unusually accurate sense of direction to the fact that she started at an early age giving me directions while driving since she realized I had missed a turn or was heading the wrong way.

Yet, I can focus when I choose to. As an act of my will I intentionally pay attention to road signs to get to my intended destination – beautiful flowers along the roadside flitting by unnoticed or not. There will always be things that distract me, but I can choose to focus my attention on what is most important.

I have visited playgrounds literally all across the country with our grandchildren. Our daughters all know where parks with playgrounds are located and we have packed picnics and enjoyed playing with our grandchildren as they show us their ability to navigate the jungle gym or slide down the big slide. I love to see children playing outside – running, swinging, jumping, sliding, climbing, yes, and sometimes falling. The joyful abandonment they feel playing in the outdoors is a blessing to watch.

I have noticed something that saddens me, though. As we are playing with the grandkids, I notice that many parents are sitting on the perimeter of the play area engrossed in their electronic media.  Moms and dads are texting, checking the internet, even playing games on their smart phone while their children are unnoticed and sometimes unsupervised. They are not “playing together” – parents and children are isolated from each other by the distraction of their phones, etc.

I have had little boys and girls come up to me while playing with my grandchildren and ask me – a total stranger – “Watch me slide down – I can do it!” or “Will you push me next?” “Look – I can climb up all by myself!” These children see me bragging on my grandchildren, catching them, pushing them on swings, playing with them, and they want that same attention – but it is not available for them. I have a sense that sometimes the parents bring their children to the playground so the children will not distract the parent while the parent is using their electronic device.

Certainly their is a time and place to use I-Phones, Kindles, etc. Yet parents are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to play with their children at the playground. I will venture to say that there is opportunity to do both at a playground – play with your child and let the child play by herself or with other children. Yet I have watched parents look up in disgust when a child repeatedly calls for their attention – either looking like they are upset for being distracted from their I-Pad, or even saying – “Not now – can’t you see I’m busy?” It is important to be intentional about interacting with our children – that does not mean saying “Good Job” without looking up from Facebook!

It is likely that in most all these situations the parents are loving, caring individuals. They are just distracted. At that moment – something is more important to them than their children. What message is this sending to their child?

As a Christian, I can be easily distracted as well. Sometimes the very thing distracting me is a blessing, but it has moved into my field of vision in a way that blocks my focus on Jesus. I like they way the Amplified version of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews puts this –

Hebrews 12:1-2

 1THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence                                                                                            the appointed course of the race that is set before us,

    2Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    3Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing                                               and fainting in your minds.

Let us make an intentional effort on focus on what really matters as mothers and daughters of our heavenly Father.

God Bless You!

Like Grandmother – Like Granddaughter

Yesterday I had the delightful experience of attending our oldest granddaughter’s first art show. The theme of the show was “Diversity” and she had painted a lovely picture of colorful flowers illustrating the diversity of color in our world. As an art teacher, I realize that selecting the winning entries for an art show is a very subjective endeavor, and I was pleased that our granddaughter’s work was selected. It was fun to attend with her family and celebrate her artistic talent together. Nana, the art teacher was so proud!

My grandmother was an artist. She began oil painting when she was 56 years old and painted until she was over 90 years old. I remember how pleased she was when I began drawing and painting as a young girl. Grandma always encouraged me and thought whatever I did was “Beautiful!”  When I chose to major in art in college, she was thrilled! (that is not always the reaction when one chooses ART as a major).Grandma and I visited the Art Institute in Chicago as well as various art shows when we traveled. It was special that we shared the love of art and creating and it caused our relationship to be especially close. (my mother will be quick to tell you I was spoiled being the only granddaughter – she is right!)

I’ve thought about how much joy we feel as parents, and now as grandparents, when a child or grandchild follows in our footsteps and does something we enjoy or love to do. Parents who enjoy sports, fishing, hunting, sewing, piano, etc. are thrilled when their child shows interest and ability in those pursuits. It is SO MUCH FUN to enjoy these activities together.

Think about the joy our heavenly Father feels when we delight in the things that matter to Him.

       Psalm 1          

 1 Blessed is the one  who does not walk in step with the wicked,

       or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,  

 2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,   and who meditates on His law day and night.

 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,  which yields its fruit in season,  

           and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

Our culture is full of opportunities to improve ourselves or various aspects of our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Promises of health and prosperity abound. Yet, God is clear, we must DELIGHT IN HIM, then He will fulfill His purposes in and through us.

Our Heavenly Father wants to bless us when we chose to follow in His ways. I am encouraged by the message of the above scripture that if I delight in God’s law – I will be like a fruitful tree. What a promise!  As much as I am blessed by my granddaughter’s artistic talent, more than anything I want her and all our grandchildren to learn to delight in God and His ways. Therefore, I must set the example of delighting in God myself so that they will see God’s purpose fulfilled in my life and want that themselves.

Time

 

Our three daughters are very different in personality. They are close in age, so their uniqueness has been a blessing. As they have become mothers themselves, their various personalities are evident in their parenting styles. Each one also has their own approach to time management.

#1 –  One daughter likes to plan ahead and keep a schedule. She will help plan meals for holiday family gatherings and post the schedule of events on the refrigerator for everyone to see. This is very helpful, since with 9 children under 6 (soon to be 11) in our extended family, everyone knows ahead when the next meal is and what will be served. It also prevents unexpected missing ingredients or insufficient amounts of food – we know what to fix and what time to begin preparation. If a change is made in the plan – it may cause dissent – “I thought we were having chili for lunch?”

#2 – One daughter likes to plan as she goes. She wants to leave time and opportunity for changes in the schedule that might come up. She has a plan in mind, but it is not written down. If plans change at the last-minute, she goes with the flow and usually has enough food, etc. to make it work. Once in a while, someone is gone on a walk or starts a game when it appears to be time to eat, but she can quickly adjust as needed.

#3 – One daughter does not want to plan too far ahead, she may miss out on fun! She likes to do things on the spur of the moment which often works well. It can be problematic, though, if others don’t value spontaneity. She is gregarious and includes others in activities which may involve food preparation, playing games, or finding a nearby playground.

 Obviously, these approaches to the use of time are quite different. One way is not better or worse than the other, all have their good and not-so-good aspects. It always makes for interesting family times! As a mother, I learned early that each daughter worked best in her own style and I have seen this as they have become adults. I now appreciate the advantages of the various approaches to time depending on the situations.

As we begin a new year, we often reflect on time. Each of us is given 24 hours in each day, but we often feel we don’t have enough time. People often say, “If only I had more time, I would…”  The reality is that we all do the things that are most important to us.

Now, it is true that when you have small children, your time is not your own. There are often times when you don’t have time to do certain things. Yet most of us also use time in ways that are not “essential”. If you feel that you never finish what you need to, try method #1. Make a schedule, put down a time for each essential activity and stick to it. You will find that as you finish each task, your attention will not be on what is not finished, but what you were able to do.

If you want more flexibility in your schedule, decide like #3 to “go with the flow” for a day. You may be surprised by what happens!

Finally, you may feel that #2 is the best way for you to deal with time in your situation. This may change as circumstances change in our lives. The most important key to time management is held in the following verses –

James 4:13-15 (NIV)

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”                                                                                                                                                       14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.                                                                                                                                         15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Notice it does not say to avoid making plans – it does say that God’s will MUST be the deciding factor. So, as we plan the time we have each day, let’s keep our focus this year on seeking God’s will first and foremost.