What comes between you and your children?

What comes between you and your children?  Before you answer, consider this:

what they seeI am about to head out to my children’s preschool spring program.  I am excited to see my own children perform, as well as all the other children.

But what will our children see?  Too often, as I observe, the above picture represents what our children see of us during such “big moments” of their lives.

I will make a concerted effort this morning not to let my camera come between me and my children.

It’s not worth it.  Even if I think this will help my memory of “the event” years from now, I have to wonder what their memory will be.  I don’t want the above picture to by the memory my children have of me.

(Christian) Maturity

Eliza, our almost-3-year-old daughter is experimenting with being a big sister to Liam, her 11 month old brother.  Most of this experimenting is harmless.  Some of it gets rough.

One of the things she really seems to enjoy doing is pushing him to the ground.  She knows this earns her a time out.  After time out is over, we talk about what happened and why.  Eliza typically identifies the errant behavior.

Yesterday, following a time out in the afternoon, she went a step further.  She told me what she had done, and that she knew she should not do that to “baby Liam.”  Then, as she walked away, she said, “and I’ll never do it again.”

I fought laughing out loud.  I appreciate the sweet good intentions of our daughter, and imagine that for all intents and purposes she meant what she said in the moment she said it.

Yet, I fully expect her to do it again sometime.  This is part of the nature of being a  two year old.

Within seconds I made the same realization that you are making now; I have said the same thing, countless times, after doing something wrong.  In the moment I feel fully remorseful and absolutely committed to never doing that again.

Sometimes I even make a promise to God that I won’t do it again. Ever.

Hopefully, now you are having the additional realization that I had the next moment.

Being no longer a 2 year old, I really ought to be, and expect to be, able to make such promises and commitments and keep them.

We are, after all, more mature than two year olds, right?

Too many of us Christians have bought into the understanding of sin and depravity that lets us all off the hook of ever getting better in our behavior. Sadly, we have sometimes taken this the extreme of laughing off efforts to reform our behavior with thoughts of  “that’s what God’s grace is for.”

If you are satisfied with the maturity level of a  2 year old, keep on letting yourself off the hook with that one.  If, however, you are of a mind to think that perhaps a person of your age could learn to control his or her behavior, then maybe now is the time to start letting that grace we are offered by God do the work in us that God intends it to do.

Is there something in your life that you should never do again?  Would changing that behavior help your efforts to follow Jesus?

Pick one; try it.  If you need help (and most of us will), that’s what church is for!

Let’s all grow up a little this week.

 

Is Workaholism a Work Ethic?

I remember being told of a conversation between an employee and his employer.  This happened a couple of years ago, but the memory is fresh as homemade pizza.

The employee shared with me that his boss worked long hours. Not only that, but she (his boss) rarely ate healthy meals and almost never with others or at regular times. She had little to no home life.

The employee shared with me that they had been talking once and his box mentioned that they had different work ethics. The employee put in full time (at least) and occasionally took work home, but was careful and intentional about also maintaining a family life.

I processed with this person, a friend of mine, that I don’t see the difference between workaholism and working hard but maintaining boundaries as a difference in work ethic. The trouble is, too often workaholism is recognized as deeper commitment and rewarded. Thus, sometimes, this is how someone becomes “boss.”

Does this being my position simply mean I am not a workaholic?

Tomorrow: implications for the church.

I have an attitude problem

I have an attitude problem.

If I have a seriously negative first experience with something, I find it incredibly difficult to get past it. For instance, if I walk into a restaurant and get a poor welcome, it is very unlikely I’ll enjoy my time there.

I shouldn’t hold this kind of grudge. It is unfair, and devoid of grace. I claim to have been, or to being, saved by grace. Yet every Sunday (at least) I pray and ask God to treat me the way I treat others. To receive grace, I fully believe I must offer it toward others; yet sometimes I am horrible at doing so.

I do believe, however, that I am making progress.  For years I didn’t recognize this pattern in myself. Now I have.

So now I must do something about it.

The good thing, the bad thing, the challenging thing, is that I now no longer have an excuse NOT to move towards grace.

I will need help. Feel free to ask me how I am doing.

Overlooked

Met a friend for lunch the other day.  He paid, as I was “the new guy in town.”  (Anyone else in the area want to buy lunch for the New Guy in Town”?) As we ordered, he struck up a conversation with the cashier, who also happened to run the restaurant.

Later, during our meal, she stopped by and asked if he wanted a refill on his drink, because, as she said, “I can’t stand to see you without a drink.”

My cup was, actually, emptier than his, and less than 6 inches away from it.  I was not offered a refill.

I sat there in stunned silence.  Should I have said something?

I am a middle-aged white male.  I am not used to being among the overlooked.

I wonder how many people I leave feeling the same way.  Hopefully when it happens it does not happen in the context of me showing favoritism to someone else at the same table.

 

No Your Limits

HT Shane Raynor for this.

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I’m with you, Shane; no begrudging Michelle Obama for the occasional 1,700 calorie, fat-filled meal.

The cause of American Obesity is not the now-and-then indulgence. It is, rather, the inability to keep such a meal “now and then.”

A few years ago now, I had a conversation with a friend that exemplifies this point.  He asked me if I liked those like powered-sugar covered donuts.  If I did, he suggested, he would buy a bag for us to have around the office.

I asked that he not make the purchase.  I explained that I do indeed like such donuts (if I have met  a donut I didn’t like, I don’t recall it). My problem was that if there were a bag of said donuts around the office, I might, depending on the day, have trouble having only one or two.

I could, and have, eaten an entire bag in one sitting.

Having worked for a year now to shed pounds and live more healthfully, and having become a lifetime member of WeightWatchers,  I am staying in touch with my abilities to indulge as well as my abilities to walk away.  Sometimes I walk away so that I might indulge a bit later.  Sometimes I walk away because I have already indulged.

The point, as Shane clearly states, is balance and moderation.

Learn it, live it.  Enjoy it.

Are you in it for the Long Haul?

baylors little treeDriving by Baylor this morning on my way to Common Grounds Coffee House, I noticed a field of yuong, recently planted oak trees.  Here is a picture of one of them.

Upon seeing this field, I remembered, for some reason, that it had once been occupied by a building. This building had once been a set of stores.

I observed that there are very few trees planted, and they are rather spread out.  I wondered why they hadn’t planted more trees.

Then I recalled all the beautiful oaks that spread across the Baylor campus, and, indeed, across Waco.  Full grown, they aren’t meant to grow too closely together.

This field is years, probably decades, from its intended beauty.

Then I thought of all the quick fixes we are so prone towards in our society.  We want change, we want healing, we want things to be better, and we want it NOW.

By planting these young trees, Baylor University is saying that they are in it for the long haul.  Beauty and presence over years, decades, perhaps centuries.

What are you and I in for the long haul?  What kinds of “better” are we willing to work toward and wait for full fruition?