Saturday, September 23, 2006

Random Acts of Kindness? I Think Not!

Our neighbor has a sign on the back of her car: "Practice Random Acts of Kindness." This makes me think and think about how random is it, really?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.”

I want to share with you the verse that has become my own life verse: Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate toward one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” This verse is God’s answer to selfishness, to bitterness, to cruelty. People have asked me what is my secret to a happy marriage—it is found in this verse. People have asked me how is it that my children have grown into such wonderful adults, it is found in this verse.

Reach back into your memories to when you were a little child. See if you can’t remember a time or incident when someone was NOT kind to you. Were there many such instances? How about a memory of someone who was kind to you? Can you remember a time when your mother was not kind, how about when she was especially kind?

Think about what it means to purposefully show kindness to your own little ones. Kindness instead of impatience, kindness instead of irritability, kindness over anger. Examples:

· When I was a little girl, at about age 7, I had asked Jesus into my heart. I was ecstatic afterward and shared Jesus with a neighbor girl. She too prayed to ask Jesus into her heart. I was about to burst with joy when I ran into the house where my mother was visiting with a neighbor. She shooed me out of the house and was angry with me. I was instantly wounded—and never forgot that moment.

· Then another memory was when I was in Kindergarten and was skipping down the hallway at Winnetka and the principal stopped me to tell me I had beautiful green eyes… I was so terrified of anyone in authority by that time in my little life that it astounded me, it thrilled me, and I never forgot it. How kind of him to say that to me.

· One Easter Sunday I had a brand new little white basket purse and gloves. Another little girl had the same purse but had lost hers. She claimed I had stolen her purse, and the Sunday School teacher leaned down to my level and whispered into my ear and said, “I believe you Becky.” Those words were full of kindness and made all the difference in the world to me at that moment. It didn’t matter what anyone might say after that—she had been so very kind..

Each of those incidents actually began to shape my own character, along with my own insecurities. Think about the many opportunities that you have each day to demonstrate to your children not only purposeful acts of kindness that they can do and show to others by your example, but kind and meaningful things that you can say and do for your children that will build their self esteem and help to shape their character and their ability to face life with courage and confidence.

My own children were taught about kindness in subtle ways. Growing up in a pastor’s home made it a challenge sometimes to teach why we behave—was it because church people might see us and judge us? Or were they expected to behave because it was right. A subtle difference, but a significant one. While they were young on December 1 we set out the manger scene and removed the straw from the manger and baby Jesus. During the month if I saw one of the children doing something kind or good to his brother or sister, I let them go and get a little bit of straw and place it in the manger. Then on Christmas morning we hoped there would be enough little acts of kindness to make a soft place for the baby Jesus to rest his head. I asked my adult children for examples of kindnesses they remembered--Isaac wrote back, “I shot Annie once with a bb gun!” Not exactly the memory I was looking for!

Keep in mind, Kindness requires:

· An open heart
· A willing spirit
· An outstretched arm

It can be spontaneous, it is a thoughtful or planned deed, it is a gift you give someone, and it is an extension of the Lord Jesus alive in you.

A couple of years ago, when little Daniel was barely two years old, Charif took him to my mother’s hospital bed following an extensive surgery. He was fascinated with the whole experience and immediately clasped his little hands together and said, “Jesus, Grammy well, Amen.” My mother started to whisper a thank you to Daniel, and he interrupted and said, “More Jesus!” Without realizing then, Daniel’s spontaneous prayer was an act of kindness. Would Daniel have done that without his mommy and daddy teaching him by their example that when someone is hurting, we DO something? I think not.

So family, let me encourage you—be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving in everything you do with your children. And watch for opportunities to show your children how to be kind to others—that kindness is something you sometimes do in secret, so that no one but Jesus knows it was you—and that your children can be taught to look for people in need—I love it when Penny says, “I’ve got “3” ministries!”

God bless you as you continue to be kind--not randomly--but on purpose!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day Today!

Ahoy, there, me maties! Is it bedtime stories ye be wantin'? Then mark me words, there'll be plunderin' pirates lurking in every cove--waitin' to board, so keep yer ruddy hands on board and stay closen together and listen to Captain Bogg and Salty and do the Pegleg Tango!! (Per me Shipmate and Cap'n Daniel!)
Ye Feller Skallywagg, Auntibeck

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Firstborn...

The firstborn has to be really patient while the new parents figure it all out.
The firstborn has to understand when the parents make him perform for every visitor.
The firstborn is the one the parents practice on.
The firstborn is the one who tries everything once, so the next batch won't have to.
The firstborn is the one the parents rely on to teach them new technology.
The firstborn is the natural born leader.
The firstborn is the boss of the second and third-born.
The firstborn is the one who doesn't have to have hand-me-downs.
The firstborn is the one who speaks up when others won't.
The firstborn is the first love of the parents.

Our firstborn is the one who gets things done.
Our firstborn is the one who remembers ALL the relatives who have died.
Our firstborn is the one who makes sure his Dad has an Ipod.
Our firstborn is the one who checks to see if his Mom needs anything when Dad's away.
Our firstborn is the one who shares everything he has.
Our firstborn will remind his parents when they're off track.
Our firstborn is the one who will stay up all night long to write a song for the family.
Our firstborn is our leader.
Our firstborn is our pride and joy.
Our firstborn is our first love.

Happy 35th, Firstborn Love!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

From the 50's to the 2000's!

Sunday night, my sibs and I met to "discuss..." What a kick--we didn't really reminisce about the good old days, but sometimes we do and we cover everything from Romper Room to Mr. Brink, to the 56' International, to Judi's mud pies, the circus tent, Edgar Allen Poe, Uncle Frank, Grandma Couts', and to Winnetka Avenue Elementary! We often wonder at the education we got in the L.A. City School system--such as it was! But on Sunday, it was a dry and very hot desert night in Palmdale and the visit was pretty subdued, but as always, I come away so thankful for each of my brothers and for my sister. I was so happy that Bob made it happen. My, isn't this a quintessential picture of some baby boomers?!

Someone once said, "Though four children have the same parents, the same values, the same everything, they turn out different. Isn't that the genius of God?" Yes, how different we all are, but we are so united in so many ways. Thanks again Bob! Love to you all.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Family Photo

"When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses." (Joyce Brothers)
When I look at this photo, my mind is flooded with memories of a short weekend, full of activity, love, silliness, laughter, tears, gratitude, exhorbitence, and tremendous pride. First, Annie and her family drove 10 hours in a van with their little ones, Isaac and his family flew all day and evening from Alaska, Freddy worked into the night for days on his special tribute to his dad before meeting Annie at our house and then picking up Isaac at the airport to drive to a Super 8 in Long Beach late at night to be able to make the 8:30 Catalina Express to head for our destination "Island 60th Celebration!" The adventure began in Long Beach--but I'll not detail that madness here! Then, none worse for the wear, we all met in Catalina, excited and ready to make the taxi ride to the beautiful Hamilton Cove condos waiting for all of us. So we did it all, from para-sailing to snorkeling, to kyaking, to playing Rook, to naps, to bbq, to "church in the condo living room," to Pop-Night--culminating in a wonderful tribute to our kids' dad.
How could I ever ask for a fuller life? I ponder and worry, and fret, and pray, and beg God to keep me ever grateful and that nothing should ever happen to my kids or grandkids. I somehow worry that because He is so good to us as a family, that it can't possibly last. But I remember and I know in my heart, that no matter what, He is the giver of every good and perfect gift, and it all comes from Him, the blessings, and the trials that we struggle with day to day.
For today, my darling and wonderful children and grandchildren, thank you for sacrificing your time and resources to spend that wonderful weekend with your dad. It has made a wonderful memory, and I am completely grateful to each of you.
" fills us with a consciousness that God loves and cares for us, even to the least event and smallest need of life." (Manning)
Love, Mom