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Archive for May, 2014

PRETTY IS AS PRETTY DOES.

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Saturday at Walmart is always crowded, and the check-out lines long. Ahead of me an adorable little girl, probably three-years DSCF2870 005old, sat in her mother’s grocery cart. Her blonde hair caught in a top-knot with a super-sized pink bow. Blue eyes danced with mischief, but she sat demure and darling in pink polka dots and ruffles.

What a pretty little girl, I thought. Just before she sprang to a standing position in the cart, leaned toward the candy and grabbed a Milky-Way from the shelf.

Mama screamed at her, snatched the candy bar, and replaced it on the display.

Bow, polka dots, and ruffles toppled and fell like a limp dishrag to the bottom of the cart and she threw a kickin’-lickin’ fit.

Mom tried to ignore her.

The child ranted louder, stood up in the basket, stomping and grabbing the candy again.

I inched my cart backward, considering a possible avenue of escape, but was hemmed in the lane by a string of customers looking as if they also wanted to flee.

And mom uttered words these words. “Well, if you’ll be good a few more minutes you can have the candy bar.” Mom handed the bribe to the cashier to swipe the code. And the little stinker’s face twisted to another tantrum ‘til mom returned the treat to the child’s clinched fists.

Not a pretty sight. With hair a mess, ruffles askew, and the bow hanging by a strand. Her angry red face, runny nose, and chocolate smudges confirmed yet another old saying, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone.”

This little tyrant held us captive for a moment in time, but her reign of terror will continue until someone has the wisdom to discipline her God’s way.

I’m sure we’ve all seen this scene played out a dozen times over and watched a small child manipulate an adult parent. But folks, we’ve all sat silent while the politically correct police have usurped parental authority. My mother would have paddled me on the spot with the hearty approval of the by-standers.

Our children are now the “tail that wags the dog.” And America is ruled by tyranny.

Do you suppose this trip to Walmart was the first time this little girl acted out? Do you suppose this was mom’s first time to reward bad behavior? Do you suppose this child’s actions and the mother’s unwise response are already an entrenched pattern in their home?

How much more effective it would have been had the mother said, “I’m sorry.” Picked up the screaming little booger, left the groceries and without another word, marched her to the car. Yes, and taken the time to drive home, paddle her bottom, put her back in the car and return to shop again. But mom’s schedule was tight. Too tight to spend an hour or two now in order to save years of future heartache.

Majoring on the urgent, with no discernment for the important.
Years ago my little red-headed toddler took a notion to run into the busy road running beside our house.

Out of my reach, I yelled, “Stop.”

He giggled and ran faster.

I chased and snatched him from the jaws of disaster and paddled his bottom all the way to the house. He never ran into the streetIMG_2368 041 again. When I said stop after that, he stopped. Because he understood there would be immediate, painful, consequences.

With wisdom given by God, King Solomon said:

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 NAS).

None of us like to be the bad guys in our children’s eyes. We’d rather be their friend. But God did not appoint us to be their friend. Kids have many friends. They only have one set of parents. You’ve been elected and are accountable to God for the stewardship of His gift. If your children don’t learn to obey you—who they’ve seen—how do you think they will ever learn to obey this God they can’t see?

“Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you beat him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from Sheol” (Proverbs 23:13-14 NAS).

Our daughter was five when she walked into a store with me and sneaked a candy bar off the shelf and walked out with it in her pocket. After I loaded the kids, then groceries in the trunk, I turned to see her take a quick bite of this hidden treasure.

Inches from her face, I instructed what she would do. We strode back into the store. Eyes downcast and tearing, she approached the counter, handed the lady the candy bar and admitted, “I’m stole this candy bar and I’m….”

The lady behind the counter melted under the woeful blue eyes of this little blonde-headed thief. “Oh, sweetheart, that’s …”

I put up my hand, “No. It’s not okay. Allow her to continue.”

By this time daughter’s eyes were leaking tears.

I nodded and she continued. “…I’m very sorry I stole your candy bar and I’ll never do it again.” She caught her breath to keep sobs from erupting and the lady looked at me like I was Attila the Hun.

gggI paid for the candy and we made it to the car before her wailing commenced. But she remembered that lesson. Forever.

Left to their own devices, undisciplined children grow into undisciplined, rebellious middle-graders, then teens, and yes, then into undisciplined, rebellious adults. We are not loving our kids when we allow them to do whatever they want and reward or bribe bad behavior. And that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in.

God instructed fathers not to provoke their children to wrath and He gave children one command.

“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right…”

And He inserted a promise.

“ Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1 NAS). Notice there are no qualifications to this commandment.

Mothers, you are the heart of your home. Fathers, God appointed you to be the head of your family. You are a team. A team whose goal is to train up these gifts from the Lord to be pretty inside and out. There is an old saying that has proven to be true. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Whose hand rocks the cradle at your house tonight—The Truth of the Word of God or the lies of the world?

“The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1 NAS).

“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. For its profit is better than the profit of silver, and its gain than fine gold” (Proverbs 3:13-14 NAS).

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There is no place like Texas to illustrate these age-old words of wisdom. And the rodeo arena is a proving ground.

DSCF4937Cowboys march to a different drum beat. Their walk, their talk, their attitudes illustrate the courageous spirit of the Lone Star State. And you don’t have to search long to find Texas pride and swagger, even among the kiddos.
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These pint sized cowboys and cowgirls have watched mama and daddy from birth. By age two or three they’re in the saddle. And by their teen years girls and boys know how to rope and ride. They’ve caught their parent’s attitudes and their actions will follow.
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A number of years ago my husband and I took relatives, visiting from New York, to a real, down-home rodeo (not the kind you see on TV or in a local coliseum). A bona’ fide rodeo. We parked the car, got out and my husband’s cousin caught the swipe of a horse’s tail. In the face.

Yikes! Bad start to the evening.

Cousin’s white canvas tennies sank in the Texas turf as we made our way through the crowd of contestants, livestock, and spectators, into the arena and to our seats in the bleachers. Of IMG_2713 239course, by this time, I’m revved. I wasn’t born Texan, but I’m a quick study and I love RODEO!

Ms. Cousin sat prune-faced and proper on the wooden seat, ‘til her expression morphed to horror at the scene playing out in the arena. Did I mention this was a Youth Rodeo?

First up was the small fry steer riding contest (actually just a calf). A kiddo, probably five years old, in boots, jeans, and a hat bigger’n him, stood beside his daddy next to the chute, sobbing, “I don’t wanna. I won’t do it!”

Daddy reached down, grabbed the reticent little cowpoke and handed him off to another cowboy, who held the kicking kiddo potato-sack-fashion under his arm.
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Well, Cousin Horrified become vocal. She leaped to her feet and screamed, “That’s child abuse. Are they going to make that baby ride a cow? Call somebody. Stop this, right now!” She stamped and fumed for the next few seconds while everyone seated around us smirked, snickered, and shook their heads.

Cowboy #2 handed the little cowboy back to Dad who plunked the little guy on the saddle, adjusted the boy’s rope, and gave the gatekeeper a nod. The gate flew open. The calf shot from the chute—jumpin’ and buckin’. First buck sent the little guy tumbling off the “steer,” and landing smack-dab on his fanny in the Texas dirt.

Cousin Vocal gasped and jumped up again. I thought she was gonna faint.

The now seasoned little dude scrambled to his feet, grinnin’ and bowin’.

The crowd cheered.

He bowed one more time and reached to pick up his hat. The IMG_2494 512confident little man slapped it against his leg, then jammed his mini Stetson even with his eyebrows, and strutted out the arena—just like the big cowboys!

The announcer called the kiddo on deck to join the fun.

Ms. Cousin stood and glared at me. “I want to go home. This isn’t my idea of entertainment.” And the evening came to an abrupt and IMG_2487 510sour end.

The actions and attitudes of her family, her life, had not prepared her for rodeo. She had no understanding of the event or the culture. So should we have knuckled and stopped Texas Rodeos because of her ignorance or opposition to this historical sport? Of course, not. That would be foolish.

But folks, the same scenario is taking place all over America DSCF4813every day. Interlopers from other cultures have moved here and are demanding we remake ourselves to be like them. Our national sovereignty is crumbling and we sit transfixed. Spectators rather than We, the people.

We have failed to maintain our founding fathers’ attitudes about God, absolute truth, right and wrong, personal responsibility, and accountability.

Jude, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the man who wrote next to last book in the New Testament said:

“…certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4 NAS).

Just like our New York cousins intruded in our Texas culture, desiring to change our ways based on their lack of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. People who worship false gods have likewise intruded, uninvited, into our land with the purpose and intent of changing our Constitution, our culture, and our laws,DSCF5006 and our faith in the Lord God Almighty. They have determined to make America just like the place they left behind. And we have not only allowed this destruction of our nation and faith, we have aided and abetted the rebellion by our silence.

When we come into God’s Kingdom, He doesn’t become like us. No, God graciously promises to transform us to Jesus’ image as we follow Him, obey Him, and love Him. In years past immigrants have come to America and have assimilated to the laws of the land and into the culture. That has been what has made our nation great. United as One Nation Under God!

Under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, Jude penned words we would do well to heed:

“…I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3 NAS).

And he ID’d these renegades so we could recognize the intruders.
“…these men revile the things which they do not understand;…these are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. Remember… ‘In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit…keep yourselves in the love of God…have mercy on some who are doubting…save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh”
(Jude 10-23 NAS).

Are you contending for the faith? Trusting what our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary was enough to present you faultless before God? Or are you too frightened to speak the truth of the Word of God to this perverted generation?

If you’re too frightened to speak truth now, what will you do when only the fearful, mockers, and godless remain? Will you speak now or never?

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MOTHER'S DAY AGAIN – THE SERIES.

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“Mama, I sure do miss you and wish I’d said ‘I love you’ more often.”
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I’m sure each one of you reading this post feel the same way if your mother isn’t with you this Mother’s Day. But a blogging friend of mine sent a post this morning from “Home’s Cool,” 2009 08 04 206_edited-1entitled “What Would Your Mother Do?” And as I wrote a comment to her post it triggered memories. Memories I’d like to share, hoping we will guard our hearts every moment of every day. Because the Word tells us what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart.

My Mama had a beautiful voice and she loved to sing. And in the spring and summer, when the windows were opened, I could hear her singing a block from home. So could the neighbors. It was no secret Mama loved Jesus.

She also loved to cook and give parties. The proverbial DSCF2942hostess with the mostest, (Be sure to read my December 2012 blog entitled The Invitation.) Mama was kind enough to passIMG_2368 041 her cooking genes and her recipes on to me, her grandson, and her granddaughters. TopThought we might incorporate some of Christine Nickels’ recipes in future blogs, maybe even publish Nana’s Cook Book.

Like everyone else, our family was far from perfect. But there were fun times with Mama and Daddy. And times she made certain I memorized God’s Word. And those words, hidden in my heart, saved my life for eternity.

Alzheimer’s began its attack on Mama’s mind before her great IMG_1574 202grandchildren were born, but she had years to pour her love IMG_1564 210onto her grandchildren, and pour she did! Mama said grandchildren were her reward for having children and she loved them “to the moon and back.”

In the final days of her battle with that dreaded disease Mama was hospitalized. We lived in Texas at the time, so my visits were by phone with her nurse. One evening her nurse related Mama had been groaning all day. She had given her medicine, but the sounds continued.

I asked the lady if she was familiar with the old hymns. She replied, “My daddy’s a Baptist pastor.” We laughed and I asked her to lean close to Mama and listen to what she was saying. I waited while she checked.

In a few moments she returned to the phone. “You won’t believe this.” Excitement spilled from her lips. “Your Mama’s singing! Amazing Grace! She’s not groaning, she’s singing!” And we wept, long distance, together.

Alzheimer’s robbed Mama’s memory of her family and her life, but this thief couldn’t steal eternal melodies imprinted in her heart.
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And I find myself weeping as I write today. Not tears of pain and grief this time, but tears of thankfulness and joy. Joy in knowing what was in Mama’s heart her last days here on earth. Joy2009 08 04 148 in knowing she’s with our Lord Jesus. And thankfulness for the Mama God chose for me and knowing His promises are true—we will all be together again. Forever.

What is being imprinted in your heart that will last for eternity? Giving thanks or murmuring? Joy or sorrow? Truth or lies?

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:20-23 NAS).

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Wonderful blog! Take the time to stop and think about your Mom and the heritage she gave you. Remember God selected just the right Mom for you…a Mom who would instill the characteristics He knew you would need for your life.

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Don’t be where trouble can happen.

Grammar excluded, this is a profound statement, isn’t it? My Mama repeated these words to my brother and me often. So often it still plays like a recording in my brain. “See Mama, if you’re peeking through the pearly gates, I heard you all those years ago. And still do.”

But today we’ve thrown out those sayings of years gone by like the baby and the bath water. Why? Could it be pride? Wanting to DSCF4898do things our way—rejecting our parents’ way. After all, their ways are meaningless today, right? Times and people have changed. Or have they? Were those statements based on solid, biblical, historical truth?

It’s obvious we’ve raised several generations of young people on a different foundation than we were taught. A shaky foundation. A weak foundation that is cracking and crumbling. Is the substructure beyond repair? Only time, our response to truth, and God’s mercy will tell.

For the next few weeks I’d like us to dissect some of those ancient words from generations past. Let’s see if they were old wives’ tales or words of wisdom we’ve trashed in this super-sonic age of technology. And if you have sayings from your folks, please share them. Join the conversation and let’s learn from each other.

To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the DSCF4893sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel…The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:2-5, 6 NAS).

Last week, in Dallas, Texas, a seventeen-year-old girl climbed over her boyfriend and out the back window of a moving car. The car ran over her and she died. Alone. In the middle of the night. On a dark city street. Allegedly after partying at a club with friends. Friends who drove off and left her. With friends like that…
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This young woman made a fatal choice to spend her last hours in a place where trouble was bound to happen.

A young mother, shot in the early morning hours—3 a.m.—in the parking lot of her apartment. She too died alone, leaving behind babies and a grieving husband. An isolated parking area in those dark hours is certainly a place where trouble is apt to happen.

Boys love to climb. A young teen climbing on a school roof falls, breaks his femur, and spends the summer incapacitated. Then the teens who broke into a house and were shot by the owner. Dead. Gone forever because of wrong choices.

Two hormonal teens in the back seat of a car, or alone in a basement playroom watching TV long after the parents have retired for the night, a definite opportunity for trouble to happen.
And the list goes on and on. I’m sure while reading mine you recycled your own list, didn’t you?

We’ve all done stupid stuff, gone places we shouldn’t have, taken foolish chances, but the difference is the actions listed above are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Where have we gone wrong? What could we have done to achieve a different outcome?

Mama had another saying that answers that question. When you do bad things, bad things happen. And in our house, boy did they! Mama called them consequences and she made them happen. This godly woman believed God made bushes for parents to cut switches, and she sent us to cut our own rod-of-consequence. A new switch for each infraction of the rules.

Oh no! Not the dreaded word—rules. Yes, there were rules in our house. Rules set by Mama, carried out by Mama, and enforced by Daddy. There were no time-outs or removal of privileges. Consequences were swift, sure, and tailor-made for the crime. And the only political correctness in our home fled at the sight of Mama’s switch and Daddy’s belt.

The wisest man who ever lived said:

“Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory…Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 11:14; 12:1 NAS).

DSCF4894We’ve pitched the switch, banished the belt, and tossed the baby with the dirty bath water. But Solomon instructed:

“Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28 NAS).

Current psycho-babble encourages parents to be their children’s friend. God gives children many friends during their life-time, but He only gives a child one mama and one daddy. If you don’t parent, it won’t get done. We are the ones God appoints and holds accountable to equip our kids with His knowledge and understanding so they can learn to make wise decisions.

Parenting begins at the cradle and ends at the grave. And very often these days, the funeral is that of our children because many of them have failed or refused to make wise choices.

God didn’t give us babies, then leave us without an instruction manual. He gave us sixty-six books, but one in particular teaches the basic principles for living life right—the Book of Proverbs.

The teaching window is brief. The time to begin is now. Don’t wait ‘til tomorrow, because:

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 NAS).

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