loving the right thing

Yesterday my wife took Emma to a child development class at a local junior college.  The class needed to observe kids who were under two.  When they got home she told me about a little boy who would hit the other kids, he even bit a girl and made her bleed.  I guess the parents would scold the boy and tell him that he was a “bad boy” and they would yell at him each time he did this.  However, the kid’s behavior kept getting progressively worse.

I wonder if at an early age we begin to fall in love with the wrong things.  I’m not saying that this boy had bad parents, they truly didn’t want him biting and yet they were unintentionally re-enforcing his bad behavior.  Just from the short time of observation, my wife noticed that the parents only gave their son attention when he was disobeying or being rude to the other kids.  So the kid acted out and his parents gave him a lot of attention.

I have been working with teenage students since I was fifteen years old.  I got my first job at a teen center mainly because I didn’t disclose my age and I looked older than I really was.  Since I have been working with teenagers, I have met this disobedient baby over and over again.  Their central goal is to bring others to anger and they end up getting negative attention, but it is attention.  These teens learned at an early age to fall in love with the wrong thing.

So there are a few things that these experiences have reinforced in me.  First, what you water grows.  When you give attention to negative behavior you will always get negative behavior in return.  Second, I couldn’t help but wonder what we train kids to love.  Kids love attention and they need security and that is how they feel love.  When they don’t get it in reinforcing words, they will take it in a scolding.  I guess the tough part of all of this is that I’ve seen the end result.  I have worked with students through junior high and high school and eventually college who all love negative attention.

Parents, here is my plea to you.  First, love your children and when they do great things recognize that.  Second, correct their bad behavior but don’t just tell them that they are bad or “no,” offer them something better instead.  Third, verbally tell them that you love them and back it up with action.  Kids go through rough patches when they misbehave, but when they are secure in the fact that they are loved then everything changes.

Remember, what you water grows.

 

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sweet one hundred

Get out your party hats, we have hit a milestone. This is blog post number 100 and I am really excited with how this blog has been progressing. It has led to so many fun interactions and conversations with readers. Thank you all for reading and swinging by!

Have you ever noticed that people have their online persona and their real life?  You can pretty well control your image online; people who don’t know you might think your great based on your profile picture.  Shaping what someone thinks of you is really easy to do. I’ve decided that I want to be careful about painting an idealistic picture of myself online because it would simply be false.  So in the spirit of full disclosure and not wanting to mislead anyone based on my online persona, I present to you the behind the scenes video of the birth of Lucy…In all of its disfunction

 
In light of this post being my 100th post, I wanted to take a second and thank these three guys who have helped me get this blog off the ground and running smoothly.  They have really been awesome.

Richard Adams: Back end web support and design +Lucy Videos

Bryan Schdmit: Many Photos

Bill Selak: Initial Word Press setup

 

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reflection

Today I was at my nephew’s 3rd birthday party (Happy Birthday Joey!) when I heard Emma yelling at me from across the yard.  I was holding Lucy while my wife and Emma ate lunch.

Emma started yelling, “Daddy, Daddy!!!” It was one of those moments when the kid yelling was so loud that it seemed like everyone stopped their conversation and looked at Emma.

When I realized that Emma was calling me, I responded, “yes Emma!”

While the rest of the party was silent, Emma shouted, “I love you!”

There was a collective “awwwwwwwwwwwwww” through out the party.

I’m not going to lie, it was really cute and it made me feel really good to hear my daughter yell that across the yard.  I know exactly why she yelled that and I am not surprised at all.  I’m pretty sure every parent who has ever loved their children have had a similar moment.

When someone loves you so much and gives you so much attention, the only rational thing to do is to love them in return.  Every day I make it a point to hold my girls and tell them that I love them.  I whisper it in their ears even though I know that Lucy doesn’t understand yet.  I want them to know that they are loved, and be secure with that knowledge.  Emma is getting to the point where she has found confidence in our love.  Therefore, she is doing the most rational thing she can do; she’s reflecting that love back to her mom and dad.

A while ago I wrote about serving people as a form of growing deeper in love with them. I think that is part of God’s plan with our kids.  When you change countless diapers, get up in the middle of the night, change sheets that have been puked on for the third time in one day you grow deeper in love with your child.

I remember one time when Emma’s diaper didn’t quite do its job; when I went to get her up from a nap she was handing me her baby doll that was covered in poop.  Even when your kids hand you their crap, you still love them.  In fact there isn’t a thing you wouldn’t do for them. You take it and then you clean them up.

This is exactly how God is with us.  We constantly make a mess of life and we hand that mess over to him.  Even though its dirty and nasty, he takes us, throws us in the cosmic bubble bath and cleans us up.  When you look at all of the little seemingly insignificant details of life, it is simply a metaphor for how much God loves us.  So in the face of that love, how do you respond?

Do you live your life as a reflection of the love of a Father who loves us?

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thoughts to action

If you’ve ever read C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters you know of the conversations between Screwtape and Wormwood.  These were two devil’s who were trying to keep a person away from the enemy’s (God’s) control. One of their fictitious conversations has been so powerful to me for a few reasons.  One, the book was published in 1942 and this particular conversation shows the relevance of the issue today.  Two, the book contains a lot of satire and in the conversations that are happening heaps of truth flow out.

“A few centuries earlier, humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it.  They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as a result of a chain of reasoning. But with the weekly press and other such weapons, we have largely altered that…your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.  He doesn’t think of doctrines as ‘primarily’ true or ‘false’ but as ‘academic’ or ‘practical’, ‘outworn’ or ‘contemporary’, ‘conventional’, or ‘ruthless’. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.” -Screwtape Letters, P7-8.

Many of us have deeply held beliefs on who God is or who Jesus might be.  Some have deep beliefs on what God calls them to do with life.  Many hold these beliefs but not very many people act according to their beliefs.  It is the origin of Gandhi’s comment, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I love the religious scholar who came to ask Jesus what the greatest law was.  I like him because I can relate to his struggle.  You probably know the way Jesus responded, he threw the question back on the scholar and the young man answered correctly and Jesus said, “do this and you shall live.”  Jesus didn’t say, “believe” this or “think” this and you shall live.  Jesus’ command was to do.  He was saying, “Live out what you believe.”  To be clear, you must believe it and do it, Jesus was recognizing that the man already believed this command and he was telling him to act on his belief.

We no longer live in a world where the church that simply believes will make the world a better place.  The church with a passion to live out their beliefs will transform lives and the world.  I wish this were a new critique of the church.  I wish that this problem was an unfolding trend, but it is nowhere near that.  CS Lewis nailed it down in the 40’s; Gandhi got it a little earlier.  Jesus was trying to tell the people of the first century.  This is nothing new.

What the church needs now is a courageous bunch who will decide to live messy lives.  We need a bunch of people who are willing to lay their ego down and be forgiving in an unforgiving world.  We need a courageous group who will live out their beliefs; otherwise the Ecclesia of Christ will be lost to oblivion.

Is that you?

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shoulder standers

I ran on the cross-country team in high school.  I did it originally because it was an easy way to get credits for graduation.   At practice we ran off campus a lot and I had some friends who would get picked up, they would get ice cream or food then, they would get dropped off and run the last quarter mile back to school.   I naturally thought this was amazing.  After about a week of being on the team and running with the slackers at practice we had our first meet.

When the gun went off for the race, something happened in my head.  I was like a horse chomping at the bit to catch every person who was in front of me.  After that race, my coach would never let me go back to the slacker group again.  I ended up coming in 8th place for my school and 5th place for the race.  I steadily took running more seriously and began being a contender in the races.  That was my junior year.

During my senior year, I took running a lot more seriously and I was consistently in the top 5 of our team.  Our team had a group of about 10 runners who got really close.  There were only three seniors on the team and we were advancing well in our brackets.  We even got to CIF prelims, but we were a few minutes shy of advancing to the next rounds of CIF.  Although we won nothing it was great to be a part of a team where individual performance mattered but in the end it was a team effort.  It has been ten years since then but I look back at those days remembering the joy of being on that team.

So today I was sitting in my tax-guys office and he showed me a picture.  The picture was of that team that went to CIF.  A much skinnier version of me was in that picture.  He said, “do you know that the cross-country team has been major contenders for CIF almost every single year since you graduated?”  I didn’t know that.  He said that whenever the coach talks about why his team is so successful he points back to this group of ten outrageously committed guys who paved the way for the team to be where they are at now.

Needless to say, at my tax appointment today I was floored.  I didn’t realize that what I had done was a part of something bigger.  I always just thought that I ran for me.  It turns out I was wrong.  I ran quickly to motivate the people behind me to run fast, and they motivated the group behind them to train even harder and run very fast.  We were part of a team that created a winning culture.

I heard someone say one time, “why follow and look at someone’s back when you can lead and see so much more.”  I think this is a massively flawed way of looking at leadership.  If you are leading someone, and they only see your back, you are keeping them in the dark.  I think the proper posture for leadership is allowing your followers to stand on your shoulders and see further than you.

In a letter to a friend, Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”  I love this quote because it reminds me that each one of us is a giant in our own way.  People are standing on our shoulders peering into the distance.  But we are only in that posture because of the giants who have influenced us.

So today, who are the giants who have paved your way?  Who are you allowing to stand on your shoulders to see even greater things?

 

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