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Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

LIVING WITH A NET

Someone once said being sociable is like living with a net. Having family, friends and neighbors who are an integral part of our lives gives us a soft place to land. Without that net, life is lonely, stressful, and unhealthy. Studies have shown that sociable people are healthier and less likely to become depressed. Yet our society seems to be moving toward less sociable lifestyles.

Ten years ago, I read a great magazine article about the power of friendship. It described the life of a city girl who felt "different" because everyone else seemed to have a support system of family, friends, and neighbors. She came home from work every day and felt lonely. She didn't have people around her that she could depend on. She was living without a net.

The article claimed that we have become a nation of loners. Walking around with cell phones and headphones in our ears puts us in our own little worlds, disconnected from society. Sitting at home in front of a computer is recreation for some people. Before computers, recreation meant socializing in person.

Humans are social beings. We are made to socialize, and if that is missing from our lives, we just don't feel right. We feel different, like someone sitting on the sidelines watching the world go by. But it's never too late to experience life as it was meant to be. Unfortunately, sitting around waiting for the phone to ring won't make us more sociable. It takes effort to build a support system of friends and neighbors. We have to be willing to reach out to others. And we have to be supportive and dependable ourselves. We can only attract what we're willing to give.

I've experienced life both with and without that supportive "net." And I can attest to the difference it makes. Living without a net is damaging to both our physical and mental well-being. Without people close by on whom we can rely, life is an overwhelming challenge. We weren't meant to live without a net. We all need a soft place to fall.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

GETTING TO THE HEART

I'm reading a great book on parenting. Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp is a must- read for every parent. I'm only half way through it, and already I've learned some things that I've been doing wrong as a parent. I thought parenting was about getting your children to behave, but according to Tripp, there's something much deeper we need to be doing.

"If you are to really help your child, you must be concerned with the attitudes of heart that drive his behavior," says the author. As parents, we make the mistake of demanding changed behavior, but we don't address the wrong attitudes that resulted in wrong behavior. This takes time. We have to sit down and talk to our children. And that's probably why so many parents don't do it.

Parenting is a time-consuming responsibility. How many of us really put in the hours required to raise children who are self-controlled because they understand why they behave badly? How many parents take the time to address the issues of a child's heart? What does she fear? Does he feel secure? Is he acting out a habit that he sees his parents demonstrate every day? What's going on in the child's heart that makes that child behave the way he does?

Being a parent is the most difficult role on earth. No other job in the world prepares another human being for adulthood. No other job shapes a person's personality. Parenting is an awesome responsibility. We need to make sure that we're doing it right. When was the last time you read a good book on parenting? I've been humbled after reading only half this book.

We put time into everything else we do. Our children deserve parents who take the time to learn about parenting. I highly recommend Shepherding A Child's Heart.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

CHOOSING NOT TO CONFORM

Women have to live in this world, but they don't have to conform to its values. So many women are miserable today because they don't feel worthy in the world's eyes. They're either not thin enough, not busty enough, not pretty enough, or just not enough. Because society tells a woman that her worth lies in her appearance, women all over the world are lacking confidence.

Approximately 80 percent of teenagers don't like the way they look. When I was a teenager, I plucked my eyebrows into a thin perfect arch because that's what I saw in all the magazines. I wanted to be what the world thought was pretty. Years later, when lush eyebrows were back in style, mine were so over-plucked they wouldn't grow back.

Women destroy their confidence by comparing themselves to other women. The problem with comparisons is that we all have strengths and weaknesses. While you admire one woman's strengths, she may be admiring yours. Why can't we just be ourselves and be content with what God gave us?

The bible says, "Be not conformed to this world...by a renewing of our minds." As I write this, I am 44 years old. In the past year, I've watched my upper eyelids begin to sag and the lines around my eyes are becoming deeper and more noticeable. Fortunately, I've renewed my mind when it comes to my appearance. I know my value hasn't lessened because I'm looking older, not in God's eyes.

Women should think of aging as their inner beauty surpassing their outer beauty. I believe I have much more to offer the world than I did at 20, when my skin was firm. I have more experience, more knowledge, more patience, more kindness, and more compassion. I've gotten over the pretty and found something much more satisfying than being praised for my appearance. Serving others is more rewarding because it's God's calling for our lives. Loving and helping people satisfies the soul like being beautiful never will.

There are many ways that women conform to the world. Surrendering to the world's idea of beauty is just one way. But if we keep our eyes focused on God and look to him for validation of our worth, we can have peace and confidence. We can even keep our eyebrows.