Monday, April 23, 2012

Building Block #6 - SAFETY

The final building block to building a Happy Home should not be viewed as the CAP on the top of the pyramid, but rather the last stage of the launch pad. For truly, our homes exist to help our children to launch into adulthood with the necessary skills, tools, and confidence to responsibly fulfill their purpose in the world, for this and future generations. 

Recently the space shuttle Columbia was retired, and mounted on the back of a 747.  There is nothing more majestic than the take off of a 747 Boeing Airplane (even more so with the shuttle piggy-backing).  It is truly an amazing feet that a 975,000 lbs machine made of metal, rubber, etc... can get off the ground, let-alone fly.  Great efforts are made for the safety of these planes and their passenger. When safety is lost, the results are catastrophic.  

The same applies to our homes.  A Happy Home is a safe home.  Safety can defined as, "freedom from danger, risk, or injury.  While most of us get the physical safety issues of raising children (i.e., car seats, stable houses, free of abuse, etc...), there is a safety which also provides the freedom for our children to explore and become who God created them to be.  In essence, we remove obstacles like those mentioned in a recent article I read which states, "Social research has identified many indicators that put children at risk of problems ranging from hyperactivity to dropping out of school to becoming involved in crime."*

So, what can we as parents do to provide the safety for our children?  Let me suggest 3 safety tips to making your home a Happy Home:
  1. Take care of Self:  Bottom line, if you don't take care of self, you can't take care of your children.  This certainly doesn't give us permission to be selfish, but we need to be reminded that you can't give what you don't have.  If you model self-care, your children will follow and also be equipped for adulthood with this necessary tool. 
  2. Make your Marriage #1 Priority:  Let me state it plainly... YOUR CHILDREN COME SECOND.  The safety this provides for your children cannot be overstated.  The most important way you can show you children you love them is to love your spouse (their parent).  If you're already divorced, don't worry... you're not a second rate parent.  Start where you are at.  Also, communicate appropriately with your children about their other parent.  The Golden Rule applies here:  do unto others, as you would have them do to you! 
  3. Keep the Big Picture in Mind:  Parenting is an endurance race.  Don't allow yourself to get caught up in the trivial, although frustrating, details parenting brings.  Keeping the big picture in mind will help you choose your battles wisely, remember what qualities you are forming in their lives, and assures you are modeling the type of person you want your child to become.  
I have met many people through the years who are still afraid of flying.  However, let me comfort you with a shocking statistic.  "When the National Transportation Safety Board studied accidents between 1983 and 2000 involving 53,487 passengers, they found that 51,207 survived. That's 95.7 percent of people survived a plane crash." Let me pass on some advice an older parent (now grandparent) comforted me with:  "Your children are resilient".  Your children will survive, just don't give up. A Safe Home is a Happy Home. Even when you think you BLEW IT with your children, don't give up.  You are the most important person(s) in your child's life.
Your home is the "launch pad" for your children to soar!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Building Block #5: Kingdom-Focused

In a culture where we try to give our kids EVERYTHING, we have short-changed our children.  We have tried to give them the world through multiple sports, camps, tutoring, trips, music lessons, and the list goes on.............  However, the more we give our children, them more LOST they are when ready to leave the home. 

Have young people lost their ability to focus, or have we simply not given them something to focus on?

Where Building Block #1: BELIEF shared thoughts concerning how helping our children form a belief system contributes to a happy home, #5 deals more with the personal purpose that is attached to our belief.  After all, if our belief system doesn't move us toward action, then I would questions one's belief.

Paul had to focus believers in the Roman culture in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."  Having a Kingdom-Focus means I am discovering and pursuing these "good things" that God has for me to accomplish with my life. 

Read that passage AGAIN.  The course-changing impact of this one verse alone should cause every adult ask the question, "What 'good things' has God created me to do?"  In coordination with asking ourselves this question, we also need to help our children and young adults ask the same question of themselves.  

In order to learn from one another, HOW DO YOU help your kids discover their purpose and plan for life in light of Ephesians 2:10?  How do you HELP them explore God's plan for them?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why is it called "Good Friday"

Two of my kids were in the car with me this week, as we heard a commercial on the Radio telling us about a Good Friday sale.  One of them asks, "What is Good Friday?"  My response, "The day that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross."  There was a slight pause, then a deep breath to match her deep question, "Why would we say that His crucifixion was good... Wasn't that a sad day?"   

The Church across this planet has celebrated or at least recognized Good Friday.  We do so with solemn hearts, and quiet respect.  We are reminded  of the pain, the beating, the torture, THE PRICE that was paid for our redemption.  He paid the debt our sin accumulated.

For me, this day causes deep consideration.  The reason, it was my Sin that caused Jesus to go to and through the cross.  He didn't need the cross, we needed it.  I deserve it.  I had the need for my sin (rebellion against God) to be justified, and I needed to see his love for me. 

Good Friday is good because it showed us the Great Love God Has for US!  The Cross brought to humanity his Great love, His unending hope, His Power and His Deliverance.  There is no hope without hopelessness... There is no good without facing evil... There is no resurrection without death.

There is no Easter without Good Friday.  (btw, this last line was the response by the younger sibling)

As you reflect on Christ's Sacrifice, what GOOD has His sacrifice brought to your life?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Building Block #4: COMPASSION

The 4th Building Block to a Happy Home is COMPASSION. It seems that compassion is the catch phrase of our generation.  From organization such as Convoy of Hope, World Vision, and Compassion International (among many more), there are ample opportunities to touch lives across the road and in our own back yard.  But living a life of compassion in our homes has not even been discussed.

The apostle Paul summarizes the concept of compassion in Philippians 2:4, " Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."  For me, this is the best description of a Happy Home.  It is where each members of the family are so confident in their identity and role, they are released to look to the interests/concerns of the other members.

The Opposite of Compassion is Enmeshment
This is the opposite of Compassion.  Enmeshment "refers to a condition where two or more people weave their lives and identities around one another so tightly that it is difficult for any one of them to function independently."* 

Creating a Culture of Compassion in the Home
Since compassion is so simple a concept, a mistake we might make is that we expect this quality to develop on its own.  Let me suggest a few ways we have tried to instill compassion in our home, our lives and in our children.
  • Chores:  Compassion (even in adulthood) always involves hard work and sacrifice.  My wife and I have found that assigned chores for our kids gives them a tangible way to contribute to the family as a whole.  Garbage, dishes, laundry, etc... are not just tasks that need to be accomplished, they are the training ground that teach our children to care for the family as a whole.  
  • Serving:  This has happened on Thanksgiving Day as we serve at a meal for the poor in Philly.  I have also involved them in serving a meal (with a little help) to my wife and I for our anniversary.  They got dressed up in a black and white formal outfit, served the salad, meal, drinks, desert, and even cleaned up afterwards.  They felt good making Mom & Dad happy and being a part of our anniversary celebration.  To this day, they talk about that night.   Winter is also a great time to help the elderly on your block with snow removal. 
  • Gifts:  Have your kids be a part of pick out the Christmas gifts for each other.  Set a limit (budget) for them and give them time to think it through.  It is amazing how much more excited they become about the whole Christmas experience when they anticipate the reaction from their sibling.  This year we had them each pick a name from a hat. 
  • Toys:  My wife has also got our children toys that are compassionate in nature.  For instance when our boys were younger, they were obsessed with Rescue Heroes.  We encouraged this obsession much more than the alternative of Power Rangers.  When they get gifts from people in the church or other friends, they are encouraged to write thank-you notes.  Gratitude is a companion of compassion. 
  • Media:  The obvious are the TV shows your kids watch.  But going to church and learning about the compassionate heart of God in Bible stories, has also played an important role in our kid's learning.  
Gratitude is a companion of compassion!

Compassion brings joy to self as we bring joy to others.  It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.  Lead your family in this discovery, and you'll have home filled with compassion, which is a happy home. 

The greatest example of compassion I've read was the account of a 4-year-old child whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who recently had lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

This young boy GOT IT!!!