By Lori Schoessler, FHC Senior Children's Director
LEAVING A LEGACYAs people get older they begin thinking about the legacy they will leave to their children and their grandchildren. This is especially true for men, but women are concerned about this as well, even though it may look a little different. Some people build a business or enterprise that they plan on passing to their children. Others leave intellectual property that will reap benefits for their family for years to come. Others leave artistic property, while others still, make their very name a monetary asset.
Whatever way we choose we need to make sure we also leave a rich spiritual legacy. This requires the same amount of effort that a physical legacy takes to build up. A spiritual legacy doesn't just happen any more than your relationship with God just happens. You have to work on it every day and it must be a priority.
My parents are a living legacy for my family. They are such great examples of Christ centered lives. Don't get me wrong, they aren't perfect, they are Christ centered. They daily point me to the scriptures and the truth of the Gospel. They constantly hold the Word of God up as our comfort and compass star.
Here are some specifics ways they have taught me to leave a Spiritual legacy:
*They are consistently obedient to the Bible. They read it, they confess it, they do it. Perfectly?
No, and when they fail, trip and stumble, they repent to God first and their family next...all of us, if we all see it. They strive to know what the Bible says and live it.
*They are compassionate
. They have always taken the whole person into consideration. They realize that I have emotions and at times those emotions get out of line or hurt. They speak to the human person with a softness and give the emotions I am feeling due diligence. They commiserate with me and express their sincere concern about the situation I find myself in. Once the cuddling is done, they give me a scripture
, or ask what scripture I am concentrating on. They encourage me to consistently praise God through the pain I may be enduring at that time. They never condemn my humanity, but they help me not to stay there.
*They pray often. My father is a prayer warrior. He prays
for his world, his children's world and his grand-children's world all the time. I take great comfort knowing that my parents are bringing me to God all the time. Never be deceived into thinking that prayer doesn't make much difference. Prayer changes things.
*They consistently endeavor to build
relationships with their family. My parents are in their 70's and they text their grand-kids often to touch base, encourage or just play with them. They talk to me and my sister often but without demanding. They are just there like a cuddly blanket. They are interested
in our life, our careers, our ministry. They have successfully transitioned into an adult relationship with not only us, but their grand-kids too.
*They constantly remind
me who I am in Christ. They remind me of the armor I am to wear daily. Dad used to say, "I'm not raising no sissy girls". He instilled a strength inside of us, a spiritual grit
so to speak. I am a child of the Most High God and there is no person or demon in hell that could talk me out of that.
There are so many other ways they are leaving a Spiritual legacy, but I hope these few examples help you. May God bless you as you build your legacy
ADULT CHILD DILEMMAI know most of my posts pertain to younger children, but I have some adult children and I am constantly on the search for more productive ways to relate with them. Recently I watched a clip on what to say and what never to say to your adult children. The woman mentioned things like, "Have you gained/lost weight?" or upon seeing their apartment or dorm room, "How do you live like this. I taught you better." After listening to the list I realized they were comments that you wouldn't say to anyone that you wanted to foster a long term relationship with.
What I have found to be true is parents want to allow their toddler to run around unchecked. They say things like, "Their exploring their world" as they tear up your house. Or "They are tired" when they whine and complain or throw a fit. But they want to nit pick at their adult children. That thinking is backward. Roll up your sleeves and get involved in everything about your toddler through middle school aged child. This is training time and once it's gone, sorry there is no going back. But once they become an adult it is time to reign in your opinions. Ask if they would like your help and be okay if they don't.
I have watched mothers want to continue to mother because of the fear of not being accepted or wanted as a friend. They believe that if they relinquish the mothering there won't be a place for them in their adult child's life. Fear will cause us to act and see short term. When we curb the things we say, ask for permission instead of barging in and demanding a place in their life, we will see a healthy new relationship begin to grow.
Invite them to a movie with no secret agenda to find things out about their life, but to just foster a relationship. If you feel them begin to shut down while you are with them rehearse the conversation, perhaps you went some place you weren't invited. Say your sorry and move on to lighter topics. This will open the door for them to share with you on their own timing. They know that you respect them and you are willing to give them the space they need.
Yes, this is all a little uncomfortable at first and feels like you are abandoning your post. But in truth you are going to the next phase in life and it's a fun one. You get to become their friend and mentor. Adult relating respectfully to adult. So take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.
LIFETIME LEARNERSTechnology, new teaching styles in education, kiosks at the grocery store, smart homes...the list of changes and challenges go on and on. Our children fit right into this techy world. Toddlers just assume the screen in front of them will respond to their touch. How do we keep up?
In my honest opinion...become a life long learner. It is arrogant and dangerous to think that once we become an adult, that there is nothing more to learn. That doesn't mean you have to enroll in night classes, although its not a bad idea. Plus, more and more colleges have on-line classes which are just as respected as being in a traditional classroom. (Check out Danelcollege.org).
There are other ways to keep learning. Read magazines, watch instructional videos on You Tube, read tutorials (I know, crazy concept), find friends with skills you don't have and have them teach you, read blogs, watch cooking shows, experiment and try new things. These are things we tell our kids all the time but do less and less the older we get.
Constant learning sharpens the brain and can help your body fight Alzheimers. But it will also help you stay current with technology, fashion, trends, and a myriad of other things. Your children and your grandchildren will count on you to be in the know. It will keep you young. On top of all that, you are setting a wonderful example for your kids. It is hard for them to complain about school and studying when they see you hitting the books yourself. It takes you out of the "you don't understand" category and puts you in the trenches with them.
A LITTLE HERE...A LITTLE THERE
As a parent I am struck often with the THOUGHT.."Am I doing enough for my child?" "Am I teaching them all they will need to know?" This thought strikes fear in me and then I know it's not from God and I deal with it appropriately. However, there are times when the Holy Spirit brings issues to my ATTENTION and no fear accompanies it, but an urgency to instruct does.
This happened to me recently. I knew I needed to give one of my children extra instruction in the power of words. I prayed about it for some time on how to effectively do this and I was given a game plan. My child is a captive of mine for 30 minutes or more on the way to and from school. I gave him a book (a small one) concerning this SUBJECT and told him why we were going through it and the IMPORTANCE of it. I talked to him about this for about a week to get him used to the idea. Then we STARTED. I had him read just a few pages of the book out loud to me on our way to school. When the reading was done I asked him to explain it back to me in his own words. They were few and without emotion, but I am not swayed. Then I asked how he could use that in every day life. He didn't know, so I gave a quick example of a current issue he was dealing with. We were DONE in 15 minutes. Then we turned on the radio and he chit-chatted the rest of the way to school.
The next day we did the same thing and his ENTHUSIAM was still low. Again it only lasted 15 minutes and he had time to talk about whatever he wanted. As the week progressed, his acceptance of our routine improved. One reason was, I didn't over do it. This is a pretty small book but it will probably take us a few months to get through because we are going over it a little at a time. This PACE allows my child time to DIGEST what he is reading. It also gives him time on our ride together to talk to me about other things which are important to him. When instructing your child KEEP IT SIMPLE, KEEP IT QUICK and REPEAT IT OFTEN. I know it's getting in his heart because over the weekend he corrected a sibling on how they were talking. "Don't say that!" His tone and inflection told me he was realizing how important words were.
WORK ON YOU
One of the best things that you can do for your child is to work on YOU. Work on your marriage, cleaning skills, organizing, cooking, your patience, and free yourself from past issues and wounds. You may ask how to tackle this task on top of work, getting the kids into any semblance of order, and feeding everyone.
SUCCESS starts on Sunday! In Hebrews 10:25, God tells us to go to church. If there are two services on Sunday, go to BOTH services. God requires a tenth of our money. God also requires a portion of our week. Set that day aside and give it to God. It is NOT a "down time" day for you. It is God's day, and He tells us to give it to Him and keep it holy. The rest of our week will be better. Watch and see.
Next, read magazines, watch instructional TV shows, get a better cookbook, or take a class that will enrich your marriage or help you to HEAL from past wounds. If you feel you have no wiggle room in your schedule to improve yourself, write down your activities and how much time they take, in order to see where the time wasters are. It takes humility to seek new and better ways to do things.
Lastly, live on PURPOSE. As you plan, pray and ask the Holy Spirit for a better way to do things. Pray in the Spirit during your day and expect Him to give you new and better ideas. Say a scripture throughout the day and expect your life to change for the better.
Life takes maintenance. Maintenance takes DISCIPLINE. We can't expect our children to rise to greatness when we stay where we are at, make excuses, and complain about life. We must be the godly examples that our children need us to be. Make clear footprints for them to follow and make sure those prints lead to God. Bite the bullet. Work on YOU.
AM I HELPING?
It's HARD watching our children live through difficult seasons. Perhaps they are getting made fun of at school or struggling in a certain subject. Maybe their mouth keeps getting them in trouble, and now the teacher has put them in "that" category. Maybe they are entering into a new stage, and the rules are uncertain.
We play a huge role in their success. The first thing we need to do is to check OUR ATTITUDE. Are we bashing that bratty little girl who makes our precious little one's day a nightmare? Are we getting mouthy about the teacher? Do we ask our kids to live at standards that we, as adults, struggle with?
Our kids are watching us. They will take their CUES from us. As hard as it is, we really need to love the unlovely. It is fine - no, it's necessary - to understand the pain your child is experiencing at the moment. Say things like, "Yeah, I totally understand how you feel," OR "You're right, it's no fun, and I'm sorry." This helps your child know you are not a robot, devoid of emotion. But we don't want to STAY there. Begin asking your child what he or she can do to help the situation. Find some solutions that agree with the Bible and your family's code of honor and go from there.
Here are some other things that can be done:
• Check in often with your children, without nagging.
• Pray with them.
• If the first solution didn't work, keep brainstorming. This empowers the child to become a problem solver.
• Walk through "What if..." situations with them.
• Remind them of their value, not only to you but also to God.
• Be real. Cut out the "religious talk" and use words that anybody can understand.
• Lastly, make sure you are consistently being a good example. If you miss the mark, apologize to your child and begin again.
WILL THIS SEASON EVER END?
I know...I have been there. You are in the training season with your toddler. Or the testing season with your 12-year-old. Or the transition season with your 19-year-old. Each season seems indefinite in its duration. Each one seems eternal in its consequences.
One thing that helps is making up your mind to BE in that stage. Too often, parents grit their teeth, white knuckle it, and hope for the season to pass. This creates an anxiety all of its own. Those people speak of the future as a magical place filled with frolicking, fluffy animals in a pastel world. "When this season is over and my toddler is magically fixed, I'll be able to ______ (fill in the blank)." Their child will not magically be "fixed" or trained. It takes time.
When you make up your mind and dig in your heels, something changes within you. When you begin to have the attitude, "I am in this season, and I am going to be consistent, have a good attitude, and build something good and godly with my child, AND I don't care if we are here for the REST OF OUR LIVES....I will persevere!", something inside you switches. This season no longer has impatient anxiety. You are no longer looking toward the horizon. You are now focused on the task at hand, and things get done.
That toddler learns you are serious and you set the rules, not them. That 12-year-old finds that you have good ideas and you're pretty smart. That 19-year-old wants to be your friend and invites you into his or her daily life. It will happen when you are IN these seasons and not trying to escape these seasons. Come on parents, you can do it!