Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
So why is it so important that we have to compare and contrast numbers as a sign of success whether that is in the business world, my home or the church? I know that my ego is definitely in the front row seat too often and how I value what I do is based upon the human notion of success. The reality is that numbers don't really mean a whole lot. Last night we had a small turn out for tutoring because of weird weather, a bunch of tutors being out of town and kids/teens that are in trouble or in a 'funk' because of life circumstances. Assessing last night what stood out was that a couple of my teens that are problem 'childs' were able to sit for 45 minutes and actually accomplish something. There wasn't any drama or fight to end the session as there was last week with 10 more students and a few more tutors.
How does the kingdom work? How does any venture work? Isn't it by seeing one life changed at a time. I know at our monthly BBQ I was jazzed to see one of our new grandmas come with her 90 year old mother. The great grandma was honest in saying that she was afraid to come because she didn't know anyone. I know that my good friend Pastor Pablo was bummed because no one from his group came. Yet, I was thrilled that he came and has a commitment to help the process of growing the kingdom in S. Phoenix.
I think it is interesting that Jesus himself would walk away from the flock of 100 to look for the one that was lost. I know that in today's economic climate we would say it is better to cut your loses and let the one lost sheep go and focus on the 99. Yet, I know that God wants me to be more willing to go after the lost sheep, which in my case are teens and adults who have real life issues that make it almost impossible to live. The amount of time and energy it takes to help an at risk youth or party animal parent is difficult to describe. It is an emotional roller coaster that only God can give you the patience and perseverance to stay focused and not lose it and just walk away.
So today I took an older friend to the VA Hospital to get some help. I hadn't seen Claude in a few months and I was taken back by his looking like a hunched over old man. I know he lives in lots of pain which I at time laugh at or minimize. So now I do appreciate the pain he suffers each day which in many ways is a by product of his serving his country in Vietnam. So the quandary we face is that in one sense numbers do matter, like if I am going to pay a bill there had better be funds in my account before I make the transaction or in another sense the person who shows up to an event is more important than worrying about the person that didn't show up.
I am glad that Jesus the great shepherd of my soul has left the 99 to look for me and bring me back into the flock.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
As we were doing a discussion on relationships and talking about the challenge guys face in being able to communicate it became clear that guys aren’t great at expressing themselves. I know that most guys, men not teens, also have a tough time being articulate when it comes to how they feel and what is going on inside of them. So as we are talking about different ways of communicating both verbal and non-verbal the awkward silence happened and then there was laughter as someone was bold enough to speak out.
The truth is most of us men don’t like to talk about ourselves and would rather talk about sports, work or school. The last thing we want to do is say that I am hurting or got stepped on by someone I don’t like. As we were discussing the importance of developing relationships that are beneficial it was obvious that guys that grow up without dads don’t have great examples of how guys talk and express themselves. All of the guys admitted to the fact that the typical guy is a few years behind the gals in their age bracket when it comes to talking about the obvious life questions.
As we talked about guy – girl relationships and one of the adults challenged the guys to think through the physical side of relationships it was obvious that no one wanted to be a dad at the age of 15 or even 20. Yet the real need is for parents and family to openly talk about how we relate back to our peers, have close friendships and eventually decide who we may marry in the future. I know looking back at my life and my kids it is awkward to talk about sex, courtship and marriage. The haha of this often is that the youth have the knowledge of the mechanics of sex but not a clue about how to nurture and grow a viable and healthy relationship.
I love the comic strip ZITS. It gives a great window into the life of a typical teen who today spends more time texting then talking and the best way to express yourself is via facebook or twitter. The parents in this comic strip do seem like antiquated dinousars that don’t have a clue about life or at least that is what Jeremy believes. Yet, deep down inside both the mom and dad believe that they are still in touch with their son and want the best for him regardless of his belief. The challenge or opportunity is figuring out how to connect with you kid in a way that works on both levels.
I know in my personal life I am taken back when my kids, adults or the kids we work with view me as being an old man. I relish the aspect of age that gives me experience and wisdom but don’t like the label obviously of being a gray heard geezer. The lesson I am learning is that youth and old people need each other. As we had a gathering for dinner at my house this last Sunday it was great to see a few older grandmas present and see how just their presence impacted everyone who was there. I know that it isn’t easy for a teen to slow down enough to listen to an older adult that isn’t into texting, facebook or Starbucks.
The beauty of life is seeing that everyone has a different take on what is important and that when we listen and walk together our perceptions of those that are different changes. It is funny to see such a diverse group of teens actually become a family instead of trying to kill each other, slam each other or purposely put each other down. My hope is to see more adults be able to admit to their closeness to connecting with people that are different and take a risk to be different and make a friend that is from a totally different life focus or ethnic background. I love listening to Mrs. Jefferson, Doris, Hattie or Mr. Cooke. They come out of a totally different context and bring a refreshing side of life back into my focus. I need that because too often I live between my iphone, laptop or ipad. I love to read and also watch people live their lives.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I am learning that life is a roller coast that does have certain times when you go up really high and then have this sensation of falling where life can be rather scary and exciting. It has been a rather stretching couple of weeks with both Anne and I having the flu bug. The added extra in our lives now is our daughter’s wedding and all of the planning and emotional ‘stuff’ that goes into deciding the bigger questions. There is definitely a transition in getting to know the in-laws or out-laws as I would joke with my parents and Anne’s.
We have some close friends who have gone through some really tough times. The old adage when it rains it pours would totally describe their lives. I had meet with my one friend to get advice and accountability on relating back to my family situation. As we shared and listen to each other it was obvious that we both had ‘full’ plates before us. God has put us into situations where we have no choice but to trust Him, ask for his strength and peace to make each day. I know that I have gotten use to the drama side of life as we have worked in our neighborhood over the last 4 years. I wish there were easy answers to give to some of my kids, teens and their families. Yet, I know usually God wants me to live one day at a time and not look for some easy out.
We have been around a few friends who have had loved ones take their lives. The questions and emotions that come out of this make it almost impossible to know how to help or do anything. I can remember the look of anguish on this one couple when I saw them the morning after. Tears and hugs were all I could handle. My daughter’s boss had something similar happen to him. After attending this teen’s funeral it again struck me that no one is prepared to have anything like this happen to them. So as I look at my life, which does seem crazy at times, I have a better appreciation for seeing that I am ok as I journey with God’s help in better embracing grace and mercy as my focus and not being a super star or having the answers.
I have to admit that I get frustrated at times with my dad and his inability to understand simple things. So when I get a phone call and he is upset and uses some different way of describing his situation I know I have to de-code and ask if the T.V. is working or whether something has happened to him. So when he called yesterday I could tell he was frustrated. So we navigated through the uncharted sea of how to fix the T.V. it took 10 minutes to get him to figure how to turn back on the cable signal and also make sure the cable was actually on. So as I heard the sound come blaring out I was pleased that we got it to work. I am always concerned to give my dad the best help which doesn’t always mean that I come to his rescue but help him navigate through the rough seas in his life at times.
We had a great weekend between having dinner with some new older friends at a nice Italian place, then doing a carwash that raised $$ without doing any cars, go figure that one out, helping with a birthday party of one of our little kids and then doing our monthly bbq that is always a pleasant surprise as to who comes and the mix. So what stands out is one of the moms of my younger kids stepped up and gave her grandma a breather. This meant that she took her kids away on the weekend and during the weekend instead of having her 70-year-old grandma be mom. It is difficult to describe what it is like to raise ‘drug’ babies. So I am thankful that my grandma Sarah got a break. Yet, the reality is that these kids have real needs so on Friday night one of them is taken to the hospital for an asthma problem and another is taken into the ER for a severe reaction to a spider bite.
As usual there is always some type of drama incident that causes us to have to work through personality clashes or family feuds. So it is interesting to see how easy it is for teens that don’t have dads and a real family support structure to pick on each other and be so quick to verbally beat each other up. It is easy to lose it with these kids some times and then still reach back to them. This, in the bigger context, is all good because it forces everyone to care about each other and realize that we all have issues and tend to be selfish and over react to circumstances that are crazy. There are always good stories so as I am talking to one of our older teens she is graduating in May and the topic is more helping her get some $$ to get her class ring, fill out applications for college and work through some of the land mines of being in a broken family. The great news is that she is graduating and will go to college. Yeah!!
I know that being sick at times forces me to slow down or actually put everything on hold for a few days. I was actually able to read a couple of books that continue to reinforce the need to trust God more, step out in faith more and not be fearful of ‘man’. I am thankful for the many friends that God has sent out way. I also know that one of my problems is putting to much faith in people and being let down at times. So I am seeking to find a balance where I can recognize the great things that God is doing. As I look around at other friends who have real life struggles I am thankful that my life is pretty good a present. Yes the temps were high over the weekend but there is a cooling spell coming in a few days. So God’s grace and mercy always refresh me as I face a new day!