Wednesday, July 27, 2016

5 Phrases To Help Avoid Toddler Meltdowns

This article is published in full at Parent.co. You can read it in its entirety here.

I’m not a huge fan of offering unsolicited parenting advice. I’ve received enough of it myself to be wary of people’s intentions when they do offer it.

Are they judging? Criticizing? Honestly trying to help?

My hope is that, if you’re reading this, it’s because you’re curious to learn what’s worked for other parents who were aiming to raise kind, thinking, strong, and flourishing people. The internet can get a bad rap as a really easy place to find bad advice, but I think sometimes it can almost feel safer than asking in person: those who are looking for advice can find it, those who are not looking for it don’t have to be subjected to the unsolicited version of it.

What I write here is offered only as a “this is what has worked for me,” and perhaps each phrase will only be used for a season. What works at three years old may not work at four or five. I think the best thing for parents to remember is that we usually know our kids better than any other adult on the planet. We know when things work, we know when they’ll fall apart.

There has never been a silver bullet for parenting, and there never will be. That’s what makes it so hard. It’s also what makes it so beautiful – we grow so much more when we are forced to dive deep into knowing our individual children well.

That said, here are the phrases that have helped us.

1 | “We are problem-solvers, not whiners.”
My husband is an engineer – a perpetual problem solver, if you will. As his spouse, it’s both a blessing and a curse; he loves to solve problems, but he also loves to solve problems. As one who loves to work through the process, sometimes I have to remind him that I’m not looking for a cut and dry solution right now. The strength? I can usually present him with the situation when I have a particular problem and expect that he won’t give up on it until it’s resolved.

As a dad, he’s found this phrase to also be helpful with our three-year-old, who is (I hope) at the peak of the whiny years. When we hear her voice creep ever so slightly into the whiny range, we remind her of our goal: “We are problem-solvers, not whiners.” Most of the time, this helps her re-orient to a frame of mind in which she’s focused on figuring out what the problem is that led her to want to whine. Then we can move on to fixing that problem, or working past it.

I’m waiting for the day when this phrase eventually backfires and she responds with, “I’m a whiner!” but for now it’s working...

You can read the rest of this article here at Parent.co

Friday, July 15, 2016

Things I Heard In A Sermon This Week That Bothered Me

The sermon to which I am referring was preached on the text of Acts 4, after the events of the week of July 4th, 2016.

"I wrote this message on Wednesday, before the world went to hell this week."

Alton Sterling's death happened Tuesday evening. Philando Castille was killed Wednesday evening. Five Dallas police officers were killed on Thursday. Unless we are favoring the lives of police officers over black men, the "world started going to hell" this week on Tuesday (and far, far before that for Americans of color). 

"America is the greatest country on earth. If you don't believe me, you haven't traveled."

In what respects? To whom is it the greatest country on earth? It was founded on the backs of slaves and mistreatment of indigenous people who were already living here, many whose communities were destroyed. I'm not sure what's so great about that. On a personal note, as a young mom, I'd much rather live in a country that offered paid parental leave, though that's a little off topic here. 

"The police of the day, the people in power of the day, the Sadduccees have them arrested. See what believers do - they submit to authority. We need to submit to authority even when they get it wrong..."

So, even if authorities take us down for no other reason than that we are wearing clothing traditional to our country and speaking our native tongue on a cell phone - even then we should submit? I suppose that makes sense if we don't want to take the risk of being killed, but sometimes even when you submit to authorities, you end up dead. This bothers me most especially, however, in that not even Peter and John were submissive to the authorities of their day (in the text that was used for this sermon), who commanded them (v. 18) not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Their response? "As for us, we cannot help but speaking about what we have seen and heard." Basically, a big "#sorrynotsorry - what God commands is far more important."

"What you can do is witness a video where a black person is killed, the same video, we're all looking at it and we're seeing it from different perspectives. You're seeing it from your truth and I'm seeing it from my truth. And let me tell you something - God doesn't have a problem with us seeing things from different perspectives..."

He may not have a problem with us seeing things from different perspectives initially, but He always tells us to look for the truth. I may be seeing something from my perspective, but if the lens that I am looking through is faulty, I am not seeing the truth. In the end, it's not my perspective that matters, it's the *truth* that matters. The *truth* will set me free, not my perspective.

"The church doesn't protest, the church doesn't march - what do they do? They pray."

What does this mean about the many marches, demonstrations and protests led by Dr. King during the Civil Rights movement? God's people pray and protest. We civilly disobey, we afflict the comfortable. We preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, we use words.

"The world is watching how the church responds, and they will not forget."

Yes. Keeping in mind that the majority of the world is made up of people of color, when our first response to the death of people who have a history of oppression in our world is to question the circumstances under which they died instead of immediately lamenting and mourning the fact that we have lost yet another image-bearer of God (something which should be part of the response of every single member of the church), something is wrong.

"My favorite song, the first song I remember singing in the church is Jesus loves the [little children of the] world: red, yellow, black and white, they are all precious in His sight. Yes, Jesus loves the children of the world."

This song is straight up racist. Both "red" and "yellow" have been used as derogatory ways to refer to people of Native American and Asian descent. The sentiment and intent behind the song is good - but it's well past the point to stop using that verse. This is why pastors and preachers need to be surrounded by diverse people groups, and read books, essays and publications from diverse authors and thought leaders. Otherwise, you end up using a racist song as a way to end your sermon.