The Art of Giving

Not long ago, my son and I had gone to a restaurant for a lunch out before we did some shopping. In this one day out experience we had some very teachable moments about giving and discernment. As we drove up to the restaurant, we passed a man standing on the corner with a gas can at his feet.  He was holding a sign that read, "Ran out of gas.  Stranded.  Please help."  As car after car drove passed him, ours being one of them, my son asked me why we did not hand him money.  I told him that it was odd he was far away from any parked car, standing in the middle of a place people can only hand him money rather than just give him gas.  That if he'd come up to me at a gas station with his can, I'd gladly fill it up.  I suggested that he wasn't necessarily stranded.

We then entered the restaurant which can be "to go" or "dine in".  We ordered our food and at the register were asked if we wanted to donated $2 towards feeding hungry children.  I said no, and received a little snarl from the cashier who said, "well okay!".

We then went on our way to the store to complete our shopping. As we walked inside we were met with a donation box for another hunger fighting organization. We walked past it. After we were done shopping, we walked back out the same door to be greeted now by a woman who was asking us to donate towards an organization that helps others. I said, "no thanks" and kept walking as I wasn't feeling good and didn't have any cash on hand.

My son turned to me again and asked, "Why did you say no to all of those people wanting help?" I answered that if I helped each and every person that asked, there would be nothing left for us.  He said, "Oh, okay" and we got in the car and headed home. The entire events of the day kept playing over and over in my mind, as you are likely thinking they should have.

The next day during discussion it was confirmed that people don't have to give in those ways but can give online and be choosy about who we give to.  That we can only give so much and we just can't simply give to all who ask because sometimes people are dishonest.  That the Lord will lead us to give and where.

This conversation AND the topic of giving of course is still swirling in my mind. I have a little mending to do. Explaining to my son that giving is good! Giving is what God wants us to do and although sometimes it isn't safe, if we feel a nudge, we are to listen. I need to explain that not helping 4 out of 4 people/organizations within 2 hours time is not okay. That I could have reached out to at least one.  Seeing those situations through the lenses of my son's innocence to help others has taught me a valuable lesson.  I have been blessed and should use my blessings to help others when possible. One need is not more important than the next but that is where God will lead and provide the nudge we need to act.  Our choice is whether or not we choose to listen to the nudge.

More Privacy Please

There is an epidemic in our society and I believe one of the main causes to be social media. As much as I love the world of social media and use it personally and daily, what it has done is create a window into everyone's life.  You see the good, the bad, the joy, the details and quite a lot of things that really shouldn't be public at all. I blame social media for a lot of the reason marriages and relationships are deteriorating. 

The temptation to do or say things on social media is causing an "open diary" and people overshare too often. Not only do people share too many details with their "friends" but people also have developed an entitlement to know each and every move that their "friends" are making. Back when I was a kid there was a lot of privacy. I didn't have to worry about my mom putting up picture after picture of me on Facebook and catching those embarrassing moments for all of her friends to notice, comment on and laugh at. It was private and I was able to grow up with a sense of security in my surroundings and with trust for those that I confided in.  I was also choosy with who knew what and when.

I have a deep concern for both aspects of the spectrum. Parents put up numerous pictures of their kids on Facebook without privacy settings, comment about private conversations with their children, rant about their children/relationships/feelings and just simply post too much. Knowing that social media is forever, what you say about your children, their other parent, their situations, etc will follow them, and you, for the rest of your lives. When you are struggling as a single parent, sometimes our feelings are clouded by our overwhelming emotion or just plain stressful situations. The intimate thoughts we have are just that, intimate and should remain private. Have a mentor, yes but please keep your personal information and feelings private. You'll run into judgemental people who then feel owed an explanation for how you feel rather than just supporting you.  That will be stressful.

Then there is the other side of the coin. People need to mind their own business. Who you date, how you are coping with this or that and the details and decisions of how you raise your children are your private business. Be careful what you write on Facebook and keep your situations clear of anything that will interfere with your parenting.  Others should not have the ability to get to your children with details you are still figuring out how to parent them through.

Example:  You lose your job and don't know what you are going to do financially.  Make sure you've parented your children through this and that you are emotionally stable for the multitude of questions you are going to receive and play interference for before you post on social media.  It will only add to the stress of the situation to draw numerous people in with their "good intentions". 

What I'm getting at is that we need privacy now like we did 30 years ago. 

Be choosy. Be careful. Most of all, use good common sense when putting anything up online.

What Children Need to Succeed in School

Everyone around me is eagerly awaiting Fall and the aroma of pumpkin spice can be smelled in most coffee shops. As much as I love this season and the peaceful feelings of the holidays nearing, it is certainly a time for my family that has started out by jumping from one stress to another. Most of the stresses have been good, some not-so-good, but all of which we will be able to look back on and see God's hand.

Along with the start of a school year at a new school for my son, who is now freshly in middle school, we have moved into our new house and are living in boxes. It's a delightful time of making memories and building our future, but I have to admit that the stress felt overwhelming last week when my son brought home a less than ideal progress report card.  Reality quickly set in that my focus has not been exactly where it should be. I was depending on him to self-manage with homework and studying while I focused on all of "life" that was happening around us. In my efforts to keep the house and activities in a forward progression, I neglected one very important element; my son's focus and environment. He didn't even have a good place to sit down and do his homework, let alone focus on his studies.  Now, I will admit that I felt terrible at first but I quickly turned that guilt into determination to do better for him and us.

He has a desk.  He has a work area.  Best of all, he has my undivided attention while he does homework, organizes his backpack and prepares for his day at school.  I feel a lot less stress now that I've refocused my attention.  I believe he also feels less stress with being more prepared.

This wasn't easy, though. I mean, we are literally living among boxes that need to be unpacked, chores that need to be done and so much to prepare for in the coming weeks. To sit and just "be there" for him is very difficult.  I find myself up later than I should and scrambling to do the other items. BUT, my priority is that my son is on the right track and that he is enabled to be the best he can be.  In my opinion, even greater than an area to work is that he knows I am standing right beside him as he, himself progresses forward. To me, what our children need to succeed is the support, encouragement and accountability of their loving parent(s). Without that, no amount of a great work area set up will be worth our investment. Our children need us. He will eventually be enabled to work more independently, but for now my time is the greatest gift.

Here's to better grades!




Bless the Lord, Oh my soul!

Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? Were you sitting at home watching television? Were you at work agonizing over the tragedy along with your co-workers? Did you fear for people who were in harms way or for those who had already been killed? Maybe you even knew someone who was affected and maybe you, yourself were directly affected as a result of the terrible events that unfolded that morning across the United States.  Today seems like the perfect day to write about using every breath and ounce of my being to sing praises to the Lord for all he has done and will continue to do!

I distinctly remember what I was doing on that otherwise sunny and beautiful morning.  I had just sat down with my cup of hot tea to prepare for the day at the office and my then, husband had just left for work.  I never usually turn on the news, but for some reason this day I was inclined to waste the last few moments of my morning watching the television before heading to work. I tuned in just in time to see the second plane hitting the south tower of the World Trade Center.

As many of you can relate, utter shock, horror and disbelief came at me all at once.  Not understanding the meaning of anything I was seeing, my first instinct was to cry. Cry for those affected and cry in fear of how this would affect my world as I knew it.  My first instinct was not prayer, peace or turning to the Lord in any fashion whatsoever.  Fear, worry and a feeling of being unsafe in a once seemingly safe world took over me. Eventually, like many, I did turn to God and prayer mostly asking why and what would be next for our nation.  As the hype of prayer and turning to God faded around our country, I began to realize how easily the nation will turn to a God that it regularly shuns when faced with fear, worry and lack of safety. It felt to many like no other option.

The reaction of that day the weeks following are a good example to me of how I am NOT supposed to be living. I am not supposed to turn to fear or worry but am to turn to God. I am to teach my son through my actions that despite the world crumbling around us, whether literally or metaphorically, that God is the answer and that He is where we find our refuge. May we never forget that our ultimate peace is found in Him.