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Our Greatest Opportunity

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If in pursuit of making our kids happy we rob them of our presence in their lives, we’ve missed our greatest opportunity. What they need is relationship—not with a screen, a gadget, or a piece of plastic, but with the people most important in their lives.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Christmas, Star, Winter, Family – Free Image on …

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What our Kids Really Need

Postcard   new  year   clock‘Tis the season when kids make their lists and we check them twice, determined to please the ones we love with that perfect gift. But before we gear up for another trip to the shopping mall, let’s take the time to stop. Breathe. Put those lists down. And consider.

What is it our kids truly need?

Written between the lines of holiday wants lies something deeper. Something more costly than anything our imaginations can conjure up. Something that can’t be bought at the mall.

My friend once lamented that she got a second job so she could get her kids all they needed, only to find they needed something more. Her hours of labor provided for material things while robbing her family of precious time together. She was slowly losing her kids to technology, and eventually to gangs, drugs, and more. Looking back, her greatest regret was missing out on her kids’ lives for the sake of getting them more stuff.

As we think of the kids in our lives, most everyone would agree one of our greatest endeavors is to make them happy. It’s at this juncture that we stand to lose the very thing we venture to gain. If in pursuit of making our kids happy we rob them of our presence in their lives, we’ve missed our greatest opportunity. What they need is relationship—not with a screen, a gadget, or a piece of plastic, but with the people most important in their lives.

If stacking up gifts under the tree means racking up credit card debt that will consign us to overtime labor in the coming year, it’s not worth it. Deep down, our kids don’t want to be home alone with things while we slave away at the office just to pay it all off. More than our presents, they need our presence. They want, and need, us. IN their lives. It’s the greatest gift we can give, to them…and to ourselves.

Stop. Breathe.

blog_christmascandleredBefore we gear up for another trip to the shopping mall, let’s take the time to stop. Breathe. Put those lists down. And consider. What is it our kids truly need?

 

Photo Credit: Candles, Travel, Vacation – Free images on Pixabay

‘Twas the Day of Thanksgiving

Blog_BlackFriday‘twas the day of Thanksgiving
and all though the towns
a heart that was grateful
could not be found

the tables were filled
and the people were stuffed
but still they complained
that it wasn’t enough

surrounded by more
than they ever could need
they prepared for Black Friday
to placate their greed

on a day meant for family and memories
instead
they had visions of shopping malls
inside their heads

though it used to be peaceful
they now were consumed
with buying new things
for which there was no room

when they could have been talking
and laughing with friends
they scoured the papers
for sales without end

instead of enjoying
the warm firelight
they froze as they camped
in the stores’ lots all night

and once the doors opened
they pushed and they shoved
and trampled each other
hearts empty of love

they spent and they fought
from midnight ‘til day
for things that in time
they’d just throw away

all blessings forgotten—
thanksgiving erased
now that Black Friday
has taken its place

(originally posted on the Nightlight Blog)

Buried Alive

Blog_BuriedAliveI don’t want to be buried alive. And I would guess if a survey were taken on the ways people least want to die, being buried alive would top the charts. Yet quietly, imperceptibly, it’s happening. Here. Now. In our own homes. Each day, we are suffocating unaware.

Who is the evil perpetrator seeking to steal our lives?

If a crime scene investigation series were devoted to finding the villain behind the madness, it would take the slyest of sleuths to crack the case—because the antagonist is among the least noticed and most unsuspected, and so much the object of our affections that we would never believe it a silent killer.

Are you in suspense wondering who the evil nemesis could be? Let me ease your curiosity. It’s…our stuff.

That’s right. Our stuff. Stop and think back to the moment you first noticed your lifeblood draining, your strength failing. It may have been in the midst of that endless succession of phone calls to customer service trying to resolve an issue with that “thing” once so needed. It may have been the last time you attempted to organize your basement or garage into some semblance of sanity. Or maybe it was when you walked by your teen’s bedroom and found them them swallowed alive by electronic gadgets as the slow-dawning realization came upon you…that a significant chunk of your labor was spent to pay for those gadgets now stealing your child away.

Yes, we need things for daily life, but when those things start to devour our life, it gets dangerous. Our precious time is spent working for, purchasing, cleaning, maintaining, refurbishing, storing, organizing, and getting rid of…things. We work extra hours, spend time away from family, all so we can have stuff we think we need, only to realize this stuff has robbed us of what we need even more.

I don’t want to come to the end of my life and regret that my time was spent on things that gather dust. I don’t want to waste my breath on things that rot, or my labor on that which can be burned in the fire. There is an allure to the temporary: it comes cloaked in light only to steal our lives. God, help us…that we do not fall victim.

“There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (MSG)

The Big Freeze

Blizzard from Google Images When I go to a department store in Midwest sub-zero temperatures, I expect to find hats, scarves, and warm mittens. Maybe even some thick long johns, if I’m lucky. Swimming isn’t usually on my family’s radar until the end of May. Where we live, January and February are best spent hibernating indoors. So when the arctic wind accompanies me through the automatic doors of the local store, I’m more than a little confused when I see swimsuits hanging on the racks where there should be something, anything to keep us all…warm.

Never mind that half the swimsuits on display lack sufficient material for summer coverage. If I even tried to jump in a pool in February, I’d transform on impact into an ice sculpture. What I’d really like to do is write the store managers behind the winter swimsuit displays and ask them if they actually live here in the Midwest. Because if they did, they’d know we don’t need swimsuits just about now. We need down coats and thermals.

This world can be a cold place. Even if you live in California. Or Hawaii. The bitter winds of life are strong enough to freeze a heart. And only love has the power to usher in life-giving warmth.

True love is relevant. It sees a need, and meets it—whether it be a kind word, a listening ear, a meaningful gift, or practical provision. It’s not like the Midwestern store owners who lack the relevance to meet their frozen customers’ actual needs. Love observes and understands, listens, hears, and sees—enough to know the deepest needs in a person’s life.

So when someone comes looking for encouragement or comfort, I hope they don’t find the equivalent of department store swimsuits in the sub-zero Midwest winter. My prayer is that my words and actions will bring warmth enough to usher a mid-winter thaw into a frozen heart—that what I say and do will wrap them in the life-transforming power of love.

True Love…is RELEVANT (Day 14, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

Pondering Life in the Produce Section

Eat healthy fruits and veggies bowl | Flickr - Photo Sharing! www.flickr.com1443 × 1103Search by imageHave you ever thought about life while shopping the produce section? It’s a pretty inspiring place, if you stop and look around. Color, beauty, flavor, order, variety—it’s all there, row upon row, for our enjoyment and sustenance. Processed food has nothing on fruit and veggies.

Just think of how unique each is in appearance and flavor. Like works of edible art. Beyond that, they’re filled with all we need to benefit our health in different ways. And they carry seeds to reproduce more of their kind.

The grocery store is filled with aisle after aisle of processed food and we never stop to question whether there was a maker behind it all. We wouldn’t doubt the little bowtie pastas, fish-shaped crackers, or cream-filled cookies are man-made. And we wouldn’t tell someone the boxed, canned, or packaged food we consume is the result of some random explosion.

Yet many walk through the produce section thinking it all came about by chance. Yeah, we know there were farmers, gardeners, and grocers involved. But really? Would we believe that all the amazing deliciousness that grows on trees or on plants or in fields, came about by accident?

Whenever I see such order and beauty I know there’s a maker behind it. Where there is uniqueness in color, shape, and size, there is creativity, and where there is creativity, there is a creator. The flavor, the goodness—all reveal the gentle care of our loving creator, who cares for our needs and desires. And every good and perfect gift has come from him.