Thinking Out Loud

May 14, 2017

To the Daughters and Sons: Advice for Mother’s Day 2018

Filed under: Christianity, family — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:10 pm

 

In a world where people are ditching their telephone land lines for sole use of their mobile/cell phones, I also recognize that snail mail is become increasingly rare. I picture parents in 20 years explaining to their children that the term mailbox was derived from the existence of actual physical boxes.

Nonetheless, mail still exists and it’s nice to receive something that isn’t mass advertising or bills from credit card and utility companies. So for all those who are younger, step-by-step instructions on how to do this for next year, especially if you’re now living away from Mom and/or Dad.

  1. Go to a dollar store. It’s not about the price. If guilt is an issue, then by all means go to Hallmark and pay $5 or $6 for the card, but otherwise, the $1 ones will suffice.
  2. Select a card. Actually choose one, don’t just grab the first one. However, it’s all about the effort in so doing. It’s about saying, “You matter enough that I took the time to park the car and go inside and obtain a card.” Pay for the card before leaving.
  3. Sign the card. Try to add something personal besides your signature.
  4. Address the card. You do know Mom’s zip code, right?
  5. You’re going to need something called postage stamps. (Running the card through a postage meter where you work, if you have such access, is not acceptable in this case.) Most are self-adhesive now so you don’t have to actually lick anything. Find the nearest Post Office or stamp retailer.
  6. Place the card in the mailbox. If you’re in New England and Mom is in Southern California, allow enough days for it to reach her.
  7. Do not assume that this exempts you from a phone call on the day. She will say, “I got your card.” You will feel good knowing that the process worked.

This is not rocket science. This is saying “I love you” in a tangible, physical way beyond what a phone call can do.

January 17, 2016

Our Need for Affirmation

img 011716 TYA few weeks ago a guy came up to me after church and told me how much he was thankful for the leadership of my wife and I while I was on staff at that church for four years more than 20 years ago. It’s nice to know our contribution was appreciated and remembered after all that time, especially when the population of that church has changed so much over the years.

We all like a thank you every now and then. It reminded me of the story of the ten lepers. Most of you know this, but for those who don’t you can take 60 seconds to read it in Luke 17:11-19.

We tend to think of this as a story of Christ’s strength and power.

First of all, we see Jesus in his divinity. He cures the ten lepers with just a command; he speaks the word and they are healed, not necessarily instantaneously, but as they take the steps of traveling to show themselves to the priest. But it happens at his word.

Not only that, but when the one leper returns to give thanks, he turns it into a teachable moment.

But I wonder if, second of all, we also see Jesus in his humanity? While he didn’t need the lepers to head off to Hallmark after and buy a package of ten assorted thank-you notes, I wonder if it warmed his heart to be thanked for what he had done?

Leper #4: Here we go, boxed Thank-You cards.
Leper #3: We can’t all send the same card.
Leper #7: What if we all sign one card.
Leper #2: That’s cheesy.
Leper #8: Look this package has an assortment.
Leper #5: Ask if they take MasterCard.

And when you think about it, isn’t that verbalization of thanks, that opening of the lines of communication — don’t miss the similarity between that word and the word communion — not also a characteristic of his divinity? (Yes, I know, it tends to come full circle.)

Apply this →→ Is there someone who was instrumental in your life in past years who would appreciate a thank-you? Can you track them down on Facebook, or Twitter? Your words might minister to them today as their life did to you all those years ago…

…and also, do you owe the Lord a thank-you for something you haven’t actually expressed to him?

December 6, 2015

With Christmas Coming, Do Your Kids Feel a Sense of Entitlement?

We never gave our kids an allowance. Not once. Working for ministry organizations and then owning a commercial ministry where we don’t pay ourselves a salary may have precluded it somewhat. But at the end of the day, I just didn’t see the point. Some kids are paid for being good. Our kids were good for nothing. [Rim-shot!] I just didn’t want them to think that we owed them anything.

We rarely bought our kids much of anything when we went to the mall. Perhaps never is a bit strong. The general presumption was that we were going to look, that the mall was a recreational destination where we would also do some comparison shopping and if the mood hit us, actually make a purchase. There was never the expectation that we would emerge carrying packages. The kids never thought that they were going to come away with increased personal possessions.

As a result, I think my children have a balanced perspective when it comes to materialism. In their mid-teens, they learned to pick up the tab for the things they needed or wanted on their own. It helped that both had paying jobs in high school. A part-time job at that age in our town is nothing short of a miracle.

Now they’re in their 20s. Both have a VISA card, and are well-versed in online banking. My youngest told me he feels guilty when he makes a large purchase. Maybe we need to tweak that attitude a little.

I felt both of them had a head-start when it came to money given the part time jobs. Some start even earlier. I wasn’t ready for the young girl who came into our store with a debit card. I think she was about nine years old. Okay, maybe ten. Not much more than that. It was one of those split-second moments of seeing something almost comedic, like when little boys would dress up in their father’s jackets and ties, back when their fathers actually wore jackets and ties. Maybe the analogy today is wearing their father’s shoes. (Not sure what the girl equivalent is; can tell me?)

The other side to consumerism is that I’ve tried to do is encourage our kids not to waste, because I believe the issue of materialism and the issue of waste go hand-in-hand. Maybe rationing the squares of toilet tissue is a bit much,* but certainly there’s no need for the second glass of the expensive treat we bought, such as Welch’s Grape Juice — the real stuff, not the Grape Cocktail their flogging now — or even a second glass of the cheaper apple juice.

Mind you, they’ve inherited that from me. I see food on the table and feel this desire for more. I had no siblings growing up, yet I seem to be in this constant competition for my fair share. At church potlucks, I tend to position myself close to the food table. I have a sense that all the other people in our congregation are people who will eat my share of the dinner if I do not guard it carefully. Not sure where I got that. But like father like son(s); the kids don’t like to miss out.

My youngest, aka Kid Too, was usually the first to take a piece of chicken or roast beef from the platter, a luxury of choice I was always taught is reserved for the cook, aka Mrs. W. He chooses well. He has taken a culinary course and knows the good pieces. The tender pieces. I always complain at that point that he just took “the best piece.” I am not trying to cause trouble. I sized up the platter before we said the blessing and already saw the piece that I considered the finest, and he took it. More competition.

At this point, I’m thinking of the title of the book by Francis Shaeffer’s daughter, Susan McAuley Schaeffer, How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig. I have been mastering this art for years, but not through actual pigging, but by ranting about the perceived pigging of everyone else.

As I write, it occurs to me that I probably wouldn’t be so obsessed about portion control if my youngest had shown more gratitude during those years. Actually, he does this a great deal, but in other areas. If he were to tell me how much he enjoys the times we purchase the more expensive grape juice, I would probably lavish him with more. He is changing with age however. When he comes home at Christmas I expect his sense of appreciation for all we do to have matured even more, though I still feel I should be saying grace with one eye open…

Then it hits me. That’s what God is waiting for. He has many good things in heaven’s storehouse which have me in mind. But he’s waiting for me to say thanks for what I have been given. As the Biblical story of the ten lepers teaches us, the thank-you rate is about 10%.


 

*I don’t actually ration toilet tissue, though I have been known to do calculations as to the number of squares that — hmmm …too much information?

November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Link List

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:05 am

fall-scene

  • Thanksgiving is More Religious Than Christmas – Last week I spoke with a woman whose family—and extended family—exchanges gifts the first week in December, in order that the focus on Christmas Day itself will be all about Christ. I thought of her when I read this article, though as the new car advertisement says, ‘Your mileage may vary;’ we each experience the holidays differently in our family, economic and cultural contexts. See if you agree with 7 Reasons Thanksgiving is Way Better Than Christmas.
  • One Year Ago – We decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with some microblogging. A picture (or 7) is worth a thousand words, right? So if you’re new here
  • Thanksgiving Song of the SeasonAnd here’s a bonus song, just in time for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, My Heart is Full of Thankfulness by The Gettys, or if you prefer a more rollicking version by Stuart Townend.
  • It’s About a Beautiful Time of Year: There’s no denying that photographers love this time of year. Fall leaves contrast so well with blue sky. This worship song by Canada’s Brian Doerksen seems so appropriate on a day like today.
  • One Last Thanksgiving Debrief – Remember that time your high school small group leader asked, ‘What’s the opposite of love?’ and everybody said ‘hate’ and then he explained it’s really fear?  So what’s the opposite of “thanksgiving?” This answer is both surprising and satisfying: “While this may be human nature, nothing good comes of it.  Mark Twain said, ‘Comparison is the death of joy.’  For when we look and see someone else’s blessings, we suddenly have no appreciation of our own.”

With a day off, we thought some of you might be looking for some fall fiction reading…more great book covers at this link…with word the 2015 worst covers list is coming soon!

Lancast Amish Fires of Autumn

Finally this was forwarded from our friends at Flagrant Regard:

Mayflower's competition

December 1, 2014

While You’re Cleaning Up From Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:01 am

Kids are back at school today, relatives are back at work, but the house is a disaster, right? Actually, it’s all in how you look at it. Credit for this goes to Chelsea Lee Smith; click the image below to explore her blog.

It's All In How You Look at It

March 25, 2010

A Sure Cure for Complaining



From Our Journey devotional

This reading by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

True story:  A church group from New Bern, North Carolina, had traveled to the Caribbean on a mission trip.   During this particular trip, their host took them to visit a leper colony on the island of Tobago.   While there, they held a worship service in the campus chapel.   As you can imagine, the sight of emaciated lepers filing into their seats on the bare pews bore deeply into the minds and memories of each visitor to this unaccustomed scene.

But no memory left its mark like this one:

When the pastor announced, “We have time for one more hymn.  Does anyone have a favorite?” he noticed a lone patient seated awkwardly on the back row, facing away from the front.   At this final call for hymn requests, with great effort, the woman slowly turned her body in the pastor’s direction.

“Body” would perhaps be a generous description of what remained of hers.  No nose.  No lips.  Just bare teeth, askew within a chalky skull.  She raised her bony nub of an arm (no hand) to see if she might be called on to appeal for her favorite song to be sung.   Her teeth moved to the croaky rhythm of her voice as she said, “Could we sing, ‘Count Your Many Blessings‘?”

The pastor stumbled out of the pulpit, out the door, and into the adjoining yard, tears of holy conviction raining down on his face.   One of the traveling party rushed to fill his place, arguably the most “unblessed” of any spot in the universe.

A friend hustled outside, put his arm around the sobbing pastor, and consolingly said, “I’ll bet you’ll never be able to sing that song again, will you?”

“Yeah, I’ll sing it,” the pastor answered, “but never the same way, ever again.”

Leave it to a grotesquely deformed leper to remind us that grateful people are characterized by grateful words, while ungrateful people are giving to griping, complaining, murmuring, whining.

Some grumble at why God put thorns on roses, while others wisely notice — with awe and gratitude — that God has put roses among thorns.   Hear what people are saying when they talk about the everyday events of their lives, and you’ll see in an instant the difference between gratitude and ingratitude.

“You are my God and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.  Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Ps. 118: 28-29 ESV

December 11, 2009

Entitlement and Expectations With Kids

Filed under: parenting — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:46 pm

We never gave our kids an allowance.   Not once.   Working for ministry organizations and then having a commercial ministry where we don’t pay ourselves a salary may have precluded it somewhat.   But at the end of the day, I just didn’t see the point.   Some kids are paid for being good.   Our kids were good for nothing.  [Rim-shot!]   I just didn’t want them to think that we owed them anything.

We never bought our kids stuff when we went to the mall.   Not as a rule, anyway.   The general presumption was that we were going to look, that the mall was a recreational destination where we would also do some comparison shopping and if the mood hit us, actually make a purchase.   There was never the expectation that we would emerge carrying packages.   The kids never thought that they were going to come away with increased personal possessions.

As a result, I think my children have a balanced perspective when it comes to materialism.   And they are quickly learning to pick up the tab for the things they need or want on their own.   It helps that both have had paying jobs.   For the youngest, having a part-time job at his age in our town is nothing short of a miracle.

With one 15 and one 18, it will be interesting to see the consumer choices they make as they move toward greater independence.   My oldest, aka Kid one, now has a VISA card, and is already doing online banking.

That doesn’t scare me as much as the girl who came in my store last month with a debit card.   I think she was about nine years old.   Okay, maybe ten.  But not much more than that.    It was one of those split-second moments of seeing something almost comedic, like when little boys would dress up in their father’s jackets and ties, back when their fathers actually wore jackets and ties.   Maybe the analogy today is wearing their father’s shoes.   (Not sure what the girl equivalent is, maybe you can tell me?)

The other thing I’ve tried to do is encourage our kids not to waste, because I believe the issue of consumption and the issue of waste go hand-in-hand.   Maybe rationing the squares of toilet tissue is a bit much,* but certainly there’s no need for the second glass of the expensive treat we bought, such as Welch’s Grape Juice — the real stuff, not the Grape Cocktail their flogging now — or even a second glass of the cheaper apple juice.

Mind you, they’ve inherited that from me.   I see food on the table and feel this desire for more. I had no siblings growing up, yet I seem to be in this constant competition for my fair share.   Not sure where I got that.   But like father like son(s); the kids don’t like to miss out.

My youngest, aka Kid Too, is usually the first to take a piece of chicken or roast beef from the platter, a luxury of choice I was always taught is reserved for the cook, aka Mrs. W.   He chooses well.   He has taken a culinary course and knows the good pieces.   The tender pieces.   I always complain at that point that he just took “the best piece.”   I am not trying to cause trouble.   I sized up the platter before we said the blessing and already saw the piece  that I considered the finest, and he took it.

At this point, I’m thinking of the title of the book by Francis Shaeffer’s daughter, Susan McAuley Schaeffer, How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig. I have been mastering this art for years, but not through actual pigging, but by ranting about the perceived pigging of everyone else.

As I write, it occurs to me that I probably wouldn’t be so obsessed about portion control if my youngest would show more gratitude.   Actually, he does this a great deal, but in other areas.   If he were to tell me how much he enjoys the times we purchase the more expensive grape juice, I would probably lavish him with more.

Then it hits me.   That’s what God is waiting for.   He has many good things in heaven’s storehouse which have me in mind.   But he’s waiting for me to say thanks for what I have been given.   As the Biblical story of the ten lepers teaches us, the thank-you rate is about 10%.

*I don’t actually ration toilet tissue, though I have been known to do calculations as to the number of squares that — hmmm …too much information?

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