New Parts

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Recently we went camping, setting up our temporary digs in an RV park near a large city. Our next door neighbor was an elderly man, staying for six weeks so that he could take advantage of the excellent medical facilities nearby. Several weeks into his stay, I asked him how he was recovering from cataract surgery.

“I can see as if I were twenty years old again!” He replied. “With my new eyes, new teeth, and new hearing aids, I feel like Mr. Potato Head.” He made me laugh.

mr potato head2Being made new on the outside is certainly cause for rejoicing. But being made new on the inside is even more freeing.

You know that fleeting feeling of newness that comes when you have done something well? The confidence that comes from seeing that you are becoming the best version of yourself ? You  2.0?

The question is, are we teaching our children to feel like Mr. Potato Head, too? Are we allowing them, on the inside, to replace malfunctioning parts with new ones? Replace mistakes with new opportunities for success? Replace bad memories with good ones?

When a child does something wrong, it is important that we let him know that he can be made new again. That he can receive new eyes, seeing himself successful and well-loved. New ears where he can hear good words about how he is valued and capable. New joy that comes from doing something well.

Let us remember today to give ourselves – and our children – new inward parts, new confidence, and new opportunities for success.

~ The End ~

Surviving Valentine’s Day

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Years ago, St. Valentine’s Day was a simple holiday. Every child put a Valentine into the mailbox of every other student. No one was left out.

But today, the practice of honoring one another on Valentine’s Day has become a quagmire filled with opportunities for rejection for both children and adults. And the sting of not being valued – or perceiving that one is not valued – can plant seeds of unworthiness deep into a person’s soul. Knowing how complicated this holiday has become, we would like to offer a few guidelines to help us – and our children – survive Valentine’s Day.

First of all, remember that even if NO ONE expresses appreciation for you this Valentine’s Day, God loves you and values you. Unconditionally and without question. It is settled.

Secondly, since we are celebrating a holiday that, by default, highlights loneliness and isolation and can be so devastating for so many – perhaps we should each target one person who would ordinarily be overlooked and plan on honoring them on the 14th. We have time to create and carry out this noble quest. Beginning with a family meeting, ask the children who – in their class – stands alone, never speaks during lunch, or never makes eye contact. Your children will rise to this selfless cause. Then consider who is “outside your gate.” Maybe there is a widowed neighbor or a single woman with no special someone in her life.

Thirdly, we can make sure that in our own homes, special gestures of love and affection are expressed. A note hidden in a backpack or in a shoe are gentle reminders that someone cares. And even if we are presented with a macaroni necklace, we must remember to always be gracious.

Now the issue of graciousness becomes a little more delicate if you have a man in your life because it is important to note that most men simply tolerate the holiday. It is the woman’s responsibility to bring a spirit of celebration into the home. In addition, men do not like to fail, therefore gift giving is always a big risk for them. For example, consider the following scenario.

A man and woman were at a friend’s house and the woman told the hostess that she liked the meal. Pleased, the hostess proceeded to explain the cooking procedure which included using her special frying pan. The guest then responded “Gee, Hostess, what a great pan.” That comment went into her husband’s gift-giving-data-base. At the next holiday, the woman was presented with the frying pan from her proud man. When she opened the gift and saw that it was a pan she said, “You know I don’t like to cook. Are you saying that you don’t like that about me? Do you think I should change?” And all the poor guy wanted to do was buy something he knew she would like.

Men struggle with gift giving, wanting to please, but concerned of failing. So take the pressure off the man in your life. Gently let him know what it would take to please you. Allow him to be successful and help him celebrate the day.

And just in case you did not know … we love you … our readers … and appreciate you every day.

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