A Living, Breathing, Growing Family

When the word family is mentioned, what is your initial response? Is it joy? Hope? Heartache? Pride? Security? Distress? Dread? Unity? Drama? Frustration? Encouragement? Embarrassment? Solidarity? Sorrow?

Perhaps your reaction is a combination of all or many  of these things. Maybe it will change tomorrow or next week or even later this very day. Chances are, if you are a part of a living, breathing, growing family, you have experienced them all at one point or another. 

Families are formed in many ways. Marriage, adoption, birth, fostering, are all examples of how families are formed. Each family is unique because each family is made up of unique people. Uniquely gifted. Uniquely difficult. Uniquely opinionated. Uniquely experienced. Uniquely strong. Uniquely weak. Uniquely wonderful. 

And then, just about the time you think you’ve got a handle on who likes what and who is dependable when and how the dynamics are going to be, Wham!, things change because people change and yes, families change. 

Sometimes the change is beautiful and good. Sometimes the change is scary and sad. More often than not, the change is simply different and different can be disconcerting. 

Why all the changes? Why can’t we just settle in and find our place in this big world and stay put? Why can’t we always rely on our families to be safe and solid? Why can’t we ever arrive and stop rearranging? 

Here is what I think. I believe that families are living, breathing and growing. I believe that because of this sometimes they can experience growing pains. I believe that families can become unsettled and uncomfortable. But, they don’t have to stay that way. 

You see, families are worth fighting for, holding together and working on. Families aren’t simply about biology, they are about choices, commitments, relationships and yes, even change. 

We can choose to celebrate change and recognize that consistent change proves that our family is living, breathing and growing. And even though we may sometimes resist it, we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

  

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God’s Voice in a Child’s Ear

“Children should believe that they have a voice and that somebody is listening.”

Stephanie Rodda

Adults,whether they themselves have been awakened spiritually or not, often find it difficult to accept that a child can hear from God. The spiritual testimony, experience or opinion of a child may be deemed sweet, yet doubtful or dismissed without consideration. I think that this is a result in large of a general attitude that sees children as lacking value, being disposable, incapable of profound thought and basically a burden. Throughout history children could be sold or seized to pay a debt. They were found in workhouses, orphanages, city dumps, abused, neglected or ignored.

Thankfully, times have changed. Unfortunately, times aren’t so different for children. If we aren’t careful old attitudes may attempt to surface as we deal with the children in our lives. As parents we may struggle with impatience as we urge them towards maturity and adulthood. We may be tempted to make them more adult-like by the…

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Assumptions: Ten Steps to Avoid Them

I’ve been considering how assumptions can strain even the strongest of relationships. An assumption can compromise trust on both sides. An assumption often means choosing to believe the worst when we could have chosen to believe the best. An assumption is often the result of fear or insecurities, a self-protection mechanism. An assumption rarely makes things better. An assumption proclaims loudly that we know a person’s heart and have determined their intentions. An assumption can hurt the heart of those we claim to love and add insult to that injury.

How can we avoid the snares of wrong assumptions, faulty conclusions and unfair judgements?
#1 Don’t. Just don’t. When you are tempted, refuse to assume. Get the facts. Ask a question. Find clarification before you come to a conclusion.
#2 Give the benefit of the doubt. Choose to believe the best until the facts (not feelings) prove otherwise. Feelings are fickle.
#3 Remember the character of the person in question. Does this sound like them? Does it line up with what you have experienced with them before?
#4 Keep in mind your state of mind. Are you already aggravated with the other person, put out with them, have a bone to pick?
#5 Err on the side of mercy. Don’t be so quick to give them what they deserve. Justice knows how to locate them if justice is required.
#6 Say you are sorry. When you were wrong, admit it, don’t excuse it. Apologize and hope they are willing to apply mercy when you weren’t.
#7 Consider the consequences. How will your relationship change? Will it cost you dearly if you assume incorrectly?
#8 Avoid words like obviously, apparently, undoubtedly, clearly when determining the intentions of another person’s heart.
#9 Forgive. Offer do-overs and second chances. If you were right and they were as rotten as you imagined, keep in mind, we all make mistakes.
#10 Decide now and often that you will not lump people together. All men. All teens. All southerners. All politicians. Yes, even all politicians. Each person deserves the opportunity to prove themselves, make their own way and even their own mistakes.

  

Rewrites

I’m admittedly new to this author adventure. So, I’m learning a LOT along the way, so very much. Sometimes I learn what not to do by doing the wrong thing and realizing that did not work. I’ve decided that writing a book is a lot like living your life. Here is what I mean. 

I had a lot of down time as I drove about ten hours yesterday returning from a mini-vacation in Florida with my girls. We enjoyed ourselves so much and even though it was very windy, enjoyed our time on the beach. It was so windy that there was a good bit of sea foam. There were dragon kites being flown and kite-boarding being enjoyed. The wind is a powerful force. It can move the water, it can lift a person off the ground if they capture it, it can also, suddenly, change directions. 

  
My daughters both slept a good bit and the van was quiet and I began to think about my current book that I’m working on. It is the second of a trilogy all of which I’ve already written in first draft form. As I contemplated the rewrites that needed doing and the changes I wanted to implement, I came to a startling conclusion. I need to completely change the ending of book two. I am so fond of the way it ends at present that this is a big deal for me. As a matter of fact, it’s the perfect ending to lead to the third book. 

So, why am I rewriting it? Because the winds have changed directions. Because I’ve decided to include a fourth book which must be inserted between book two and three. This changes everything. This means a lot of work. This means extra effort, rearranging, going back to the storyboard, remapping, etc. I don’t have to do it, nobody can make me do it, I choose to rewrite the ending so that I can expand my story. If I am to include this fourth book, a rewrite is required. 

Ok, not sure if you followed all of that, it doesn’t really matter if you did or not. Here’s the point I want you to take away with you today as you read this. 

Life has a way of demanding rewrites. 

Just about the time you have it mapped out in your brain and rather counting on things ending up a certain way, WHAM! Out of no where, things go awry. 

I bet you that almost immediately a moment came to mind as you read that. Maybe it was a grievous loss of a loved one. Perhaps it was a life-altering disease. It could have been a divorce, a prodigal child, a career change, a terrible decision on your part or the spiteful behavior of a person you thought you could count on. Whatever it is, it has changed everything, including the ending of your story. 

Now, you may not have chosen this calamity, this curve ball and you may feel a bit disoriented that things aren’t turning out as you expected they surely would. But you do have choices. You get to decide whether you will stubbornly stand your ground and insist things must be how you are convinced they should be or whether you are willing to rewrite and create a beautiful new story. 

Y’all, listen carefully to your heart. If it is hurting it may be angry, it may be sad, it may be sorrowful. Listen to your heart and then when you are done listening, roll up your sleeves and get busy. Maybe go back to the original story board and move some moments around. Write your rewrites in pencil, just in case you need to make more changes later. Rethink what really matters. Consider what can be changed and what, no matter how much you wish you could, can not be changed. Then, find your courage and find a new ending or a new beginning or a new twist in the story of your life and let the rewrites begin. 

After all, rewrites can be an opportunity to improve your story, make it better and more complete. Today is your opportunity. Today is the day you can begin again, head a new direction, write a different ending.