Friday, December 15, 2006


I know competition can be a good thing for business, but is it good for our kids? We are on the doorstep athletic and academic pursuits with our kids I am wondering if it is possible to raise gracious kids in our society. Doesn't it seem like all the kids around you have an attitude? I'm realizing that the problem doesn't start with the kids, it starts with the parents! Those of you that know me know that I am not a competitive person, I like games like LifeStories where we all talk and everyone wins, but the things I've been noticing lately seem a little over the top!

At Elementary Track and Field Day I seriously heard some parents yelling to the FIRST GRADER, Don't let those girls beat you - Run Harder!

At Gymnastics Parents Night there was a lady who was talking on her cell phone the entire time, however she did take breif time outs to yell to her daughter not to slow down on the way to the springboard and to jump higher.

The Elementary Basketball program in our little town doesn't seem to be highly competitive, but there have been parents calling coaches demanding their kids be moved up to a better team. They are obviously too good to be losing so much.

We have a friend, who is now well out of high school, and his mom once went into the locker room at half time to yell at him for how he was playing basektball. Wow!

So there are parents who push their kids during swimming lessons, push them to get the best grades, to be first in everything: first in line, first in sports, first in academics.

So, how do I raise my kids in this setting? I want to teach them to enjoy playing the sport and do their best and to do their best in school. But I don't want them to think the world will end if they miss a shot, or fall in gymnastics or get a few wrong on a test.

I think we have to teach them to truly value others as Children of God. They can learn to applaud the achievements of their teammates and classmates and not feel jealous. If their "self-esteem" comes from the fact that Jesus Christ has saved them and loves them and has a plan for them they won't need to prove to everyone how worthy they are. I can show them that our love, support and approval for them does not center around their achievements. No doubt, I am proud of them for their achievements but that doesn't make me love them more.

We've probably all seen kids either driven to total over achievement or feeling like they will never measure up so why even bother by the time they are in junior high or high school. I feel bad for some of these kids, they are being set up for disappointment. And you know our friend, the one whose Mom came into the locker room? He got to his first big time college game as a quarterback, blew out his knee and never played again. Had he not found Christ, what would his reaction have been? And all these kids are someday going to leave the little bubble of their home and their school and realize (to their shock) that there are people out there that are better than them! Can you believe it?

Here's another area where I have to infuse the love of Jesus Christ into my parenting. They need to learn to press on in the important things of life, their realtionship with Jesus. So I know we aren't doing the kids any favors by raising them with the "first and best" mentality, but sometimes I get tired of listening to other people pound their own drums so to speak and want to whip out my kids latest test scores or something. Maybe I'm more competitive than I thought!

Ecclesiastes 9:11
"I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everthing that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes of Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary or lose heart."

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm No Stallion!

I had the chance to go to a baby shower for a friend of mine from college this weekend. Several of my friends were there with little babies I had not yet met. We had a blast reminiscing about dorm life and pranks. As I was thinking about being a new mom I was reminded that God really works in us through mothering. The transition of realizing you will "accomplish" very little every day is tough.

One day a while ago I happened to have the Today show on and it must have been a slow news day because they were doing a story about Lipizzaner Stallions. They are the fancy horses that leap in the air. Did you know that they do not show the female Lipizzaner's - all they are responsible for is continuing the breed! Somehow I was able to identify with that. I want to be the stallion out there, all dolled up and leaping for the crowds. But it seems my job is actually just continuing the breed and caring for the young ones. It just doesn't seem fair!

Is there a bigger dose of humility that motherhood? I mean I can think of the times that I am honored for being a mother - Mother's Day and they days I have given birth. That's about it (ok - I'm exaggerating) but that is how it feels! Does anyone care that I have given up so much for this? All of a sudden the things you think need to get done have to take a permanent back seat to the needs of others. I've had some draining people in my life before I had kids, but there were boundaries. They didn't LIVE with me or walk into the bathroom while I was trying to take a shower.

So as I was remembering myself as the crazy college student, new wife, new mom I realized that I am really glad that I'm no stallion! I don't want to go back to the person I was (ok maybe the pant size I was). God has brought forth changes in me that are for the better big time. And as I think of the things that seemed so hard to give up at the time, they seem like little pebbles of sand now. This seems to be one of the ways God is helping me become more like Him.

Luke 1:46-49
"And Mary said:
My Soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me -
holy is his name."

Hustle and Bustle - Bah Humbug

I spent several weary hours shopping today - not even for Christmas presents, just for Christmas Dresses! One of my daughters won't even wear dresses and yet I trekked through the mall looking for one she would like. (And she didn't like it!) And did you know it is only two weeks until Christmas? Have you baked, sent cards, decorated the house (inside and out), bought and wrapped gifts, gone to all the parties and church events you could possibly cram into your schedule? I have found myself wrapped up in those feelings - how am I going to get it all done, I HAVE to get it all done! And then . . .

My Grandpa had a stroke, my friend emailed about the pain of their special needs child and how it is impacting their family, I learned that another friend had been in a terrible car accident on her way to the hospital to be induced and some other daunting news in our lives has all made me realize that none of that other stuff matters! It's not that Christmas doesn't matter - without Christmas we would be void of hope! But when Jesus came to earth it was the beginning of hope, the beginning of his plan to bring salvation to us. The hope of eternal life.

So, it's not that I'm going to avoid celebrating Christmas - in fact all this makes me want to make it the biggest celebration ever. But not with decorations, presents and activity but with rejoicing over God's plan for hope in our lives. Without it, there would be no reason to celebrate. Even if there was a big diamond ring under the tree for me (and Mike has assured me every time we see a Kay Jewelers commercial that there isn't), what would it mean without the hope of Jesus Christ?

So remember with me as we prepare our homes and families for this great time of joy and celebration the things in our lives that remind us of our need for Christ's hope. And even if you feel like there is no reason to celebrate given the circumstances you are facing, do we need any other reason besides Jesus? Silly question!

Colossians 1:27
"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."