T.P. and technology

phoneIf your household is like ours you are encountering a whole new sociological phenomenon: the ‘always- in-contact’ generation. Yesterday this hit an all new level for our family.

I was making my morning latte when the telephone rang and my husband answered. I heard the following his-half of the conversation: “Hello” “What?? (snicker, snicker)” “Okay” and he hung up. I was instantly curious.

Apparently it was our daughter… from the downstairs bathroom! She found herself in that ever-so-awkward, yet familiar predicament. The toilet paper roll was empty. She had tried yelling for more t.p. but the hissing of my cappuccino machine drowned out her cries for help. So, typically innovative, she used her ever-present cell… and called.

Really… a cell phone, even in the bathroom?

I have benefited from my daughter’s cell. I can get a hold of her at anytime because we have an understanding that she ALWAYS answers my calls (thank you call-display). She lets me know her change in plans… which happens often in a teenager’s world. I love the safety aspect. She can call from any situation where she feels uncomfortable and we will come immediately to pick her up. Yup – I am a fan of the cell phone. Are you surprised?

I’ve read so many articles crying the woes of the ‘need-to-be-in-touch’ generation. I am mystified that teens find it socially appropriate to be visiting and texting at the same time. I’ve had groups of teenagers in my home and I get such a kick out of watching each one intermittingly pull out their cell, read and respond to a text and flip it closed while hardly breaking from the conversation. The best was observing a group of teens watch a movie together. They text each other – even though they were only a sofa away!

Okay, so it is a bit much. But I am willing to embrace a bit of cultural diversity in order to create relationship. Over the years we have come to some clear agreements with our cell-packing teens.

  •  My calls are ALWAYS answered. I get priority calling as they keep me in the loop with their schedule. Sometimes I call just to say I love ‘em and to throw them off…
  •  No texting at the table or during family discussions
  • The phone is not to be used after 11 pm on week-days / midnight on weekends. This is to support self-moderation. We came up with this rule together… literally bartering to a negotiated agreement. This needs to be age appropriate.
  • When texting around me, I have the right to ask who they are communicating with. This is one way that they respect me, but really… I’m just nosey. They get it.
  • I will never read their text messages. This is me respecting them. Although tempted to read their texts to ‘check up’ on them, my hubby and I agreed that this would be inappropriate parenting. Trust needs to be earned BOTH ways.
  • They pay their phone bills. This one has caused a bit of consternation, but we found ‘pay as you go’ the best way to learn cell phone moderation. A friend of mine was as horrified as her daughter, when they received her first month’s phone bill… over $300!
  • There are agreed upon consequences if these guidelines are broken.

As a parent, I am responsible to understand the culture that my children are living in. My role as a parent is constantly changing as my children grow. We pick our battles, we come up with negotiated guidelines and we don’t nag. Building trust and respect both ways allows them to make mistakes and we offer support whenever we can.

And, when they call asking for toilet paper… we laugh all the way to the supply closet. I’m glad she called.

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Gasping or grasping love

So? Are you starting the morning proclaiming His love (see Sept 30)? Grasping God’s love is only the starting point.

I talked with a woman who gave me this phrase: “Doris, before I can love my husband… I have to learn to love myself.” We were talking about her strained marriage and the emphasis was clearly on the ‘before’. My response: “Yah, good luck with that… tell me how it goes…”

Okay, I wasn’t that blunt. But really? How do we ever get to the point where we love ourselves enough to then love others? Is it really a “one” then “two” step process? I came through the 80’s and 90’s with that mantra… “you gotta love yourself before you can love others.”

Perhaps you’ve heard someone liken it to the flight attendant’s instructions… “In the highly unlikely event that there is a change in cabin air pressure, oxygen masks will be released from the station above you… You should don your own mask prior to assisting others.”

May I point out that those instructions are only in the case of a sudden loss in cabin air pressure? It was never meant to be a philosophical epiphany about love!

I don’t think we can wait until the first step is complete before we take the next step. When do I arrive at the state of ‘loving myself’?? I know that there are so many things in my personality, in my core being that aren’t very lovable. Quite simply… if it’s all about me it’s going to be a very long, long time before I would love myself enough to feel ready to start loving other. I can see myself, sucking the oxygen dry from the yellow mask clutched between my two sweaty palms… gasp, gasp!

Honestly… I don’t think this works. I’ve never seen someone pull away from loving people around them, to learn to love themselves first in order to feel ‘loved’ enough to start loving others. It just doesn’t happen. Self-love quickly turns into an attitude of unconstrained selfishness.

And I have an idea why. Okay it might not be a philosophical epiphany… but it’s an idea.

Love is never realized outside of the context of community. It is meant to be experienced within the framework of give ‘n take. Loving others is just as important as loving yourself. And loving yourself is just as important as loving others. That is why Jesus proclaimed “love others as you love yourself” (Mark 12). Yup, I looked it up; “as” (Greek ως – hos ). It means ‘in that manner’ or ‘like-wise’. I see it as a balance. Whatever you put on one side of the ‘as’ needs to be put on the other side.

As I love myself, I love others. As I love others, I love myself.

So as we start each day in this month of October, take a moment to start in God’s love. Then love yourself as you love others. Love others as you love yourself. Do this in tandem. Do this in balance.

Love your spouse as you love yourself. Love yourself as you love your children. Love your friends, coworkers and neighbors as you love yourself. That’s the reality of grasping God’s love. 

So let go of the mask disguised as “self love”. Breath in God’s love and love others as you love yourself.AZ831154_320

my point in the wall

We are in the middle of a “Real Marriage” conference here in New Brunswick.  It is a really small group…  BUT we are having a blast!  As you can imagine, in a small group there is a lot of interaction and laughter. 

On the way here today, I was reading Nehemiah about the Jews re-building the wall.  My attention was caught by the details.  Different families were allocated to various low points in the wall and it was recorded which family repaired each gate.  Each family was designated to a section and they did what they needed to do.  I felt that God was telling me that I needed to be faithful in my part of the ministry.  My ‘part’ of the wall may be just a small part, but I want to be involved where God puts me, and I want to do it well. 

I was glad that God prepared me in this way, because when we arrived we were told just how small this group was… four couples!

I love what we do, and I love the travel but I still find it hard to leave my kids behind.  I love being mom, and I know that the days of having my teenagers at home are dwindling.  So, when I first heard about the small group I found myself thinking that “does this really justify leaving my kids for 12 days?” 

But immediately God reminded me of the wall.  I know that I am right where God wants me to be.  This is a small group today, but I know that the size of group is irrelevant.  The material we present has the potential to be life changing. And… every life counts.

So, we are making a difference; where ever God puts us and to whomever God brings us. I want to be faithful with the message that he has given us.

Besides… In Nehemiah one of the families were assigned to rebuilding the “Dung Gate”.  Can you imagine?

Practise What You Preach

“Doris,” my husband says to me in his signature I’m serious voice.  He drops his chin down a notch, tilts his head to one side and speaks with a strong yet gentle tone. “I really think this is one thing that we need to ‘practice what we preach’.  We need to make date night a priority – no matter how crazy our schedules are.”

Praxis & theoria

Praxis & theoria

Ohh… the gap between praxis & theoria.  Praxis – the practical application or exercise of a branch of learning.  Theoria – wisdom.

My husband and I speak at marriage and parenting conferences.  First, we present the theory of relationships as a basis for creating healthy marriages and families. Then, we give practical application to what we are teaching.  And we have LOTS of ideas. All throughout our marriage we have had marriage and family-oriented books on the go, and our 20 + years of pre-marriage educational sessions have given us all types of fodder-for-thought and practice. 

But… we can’t practice all the ideas we present.  This was the point I was making at breakfast that morning as my husband and I faced the dilemma of praxis and theoria. 

It’s the practical stuff that is causing contention. I know it bothers him to present material that we aren’t daily putting into practice. I counter by saying there is no way we could possibly practice everything we present.  And I don’t want to limit our suggestions because different ideas appeal to different people. 

My husband kinda agreed but then he narrowed the issue down to maintaining the date night.  He felt we needed to implement this idea.

Our 14-year-old son was wiping the sleep from his eyes as he stifled a yawn. “So dad” he joined in the conversation. “You think you need to take mom out on a date because you want to practice what you preach?”  “Yes” was my husband’s instant answer.  Integrity is at his core and I think he saw this as a teachable moment.

 “So dad” our son continued. “If I hear you right, you don’t want to take mom on a date because you want to be with her… you just need to practice what you preach…”

We got schooled! Oh, oh, oh.  Did we laugh!!

October 10th is our anniversary. My hubby has planned a wonderful weekend of activities and we are looking forward to celebrating the gift we have in each other.  And I am very certain that although this is one of the ideas that we present in our seminars, the real reason why we are getting away this weekend is… because he really does love me! It is the pairing of praxis & theoria at its finest.

Show Me the Love

bookIt might seem disrespectful but it was how I felt.  I threw my Bible across the couch. It landed with a thud against the armrest, sprawled open.  But I didn’t care.  Hugging my knees into my chest I curled up in the opposite side of the sofa and had it ‘out’ with God.  And I don’t think He minded.  In fact, it was a turning point in my life.

I had just read from the book in Ephesians.  In chapter three it states that we need power from God to understand his love for us.  And his love surrounds us… completely and it is illustrated as a multi-directional love. Christ’s love for us is wide, long, high and deep – four dimensional. The fourth dimension is sometimes thought as the measurement of time or spacetime. God loves me all the time and this love fills all the space around me.

That brief description of the various directions covers all the possible routes!  There are no other directions. We are totally surrounded by his love. There is no alternate path away or toward us that is not saturated by God’s love.

I am particularly interested in the “deep” part of the verse.  The Greek word bathos (βαθύς) means: “profound (as going down), literally or figuratively: deep, very early”. See?  It covers time and space.  That’s complete coverage.

So… why did this make me hurl my Bible?  Simply put… I didn’t feel this love. I had lost touch with God. Although from outward appearances everything looked fine, I wasn’t. I was a young woman, married to a wonderful man with two beautiful baby girls and living in a great home. But there was an emptiness inside that called into question everything that I based my life on. So, in desperation I cried out to God.   I told him I wanted to experience this love.  Real and true.

Show me your love, Lord” my heart pleaded. 

And he did.  It was such a slow process (and I mean sss…lll…ooo…www…).  There were no earth shattering revelations, no vivid dreams or visions and I definitely didn’t hear any voices. It was about 6 months down the road before I realized the change that had happened in my heart.  I was recognizing his love.  I was seeing it.

My life is based solely in the space of God’s love and on His timelessness. He loves me completely and continually. His love for me is a reflection of his fullness, his completeness. His love is an expression of HIM… not a reflection of me or what I do or don’t deserve. 

Show me your love

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Eph 3

So, it’s been one week (see October 1 posting)… still starting each day proclaiming his love?  Try reading Ephesians 3: 14 – 21 … out loud!

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