A Tale of Three Boundaries…

This past weekend, I had the privilege of leading a workshop on teaching preteens and teens about helping them to say YES to God’s plan for dating, marriage, and sex!  I know, God’s crazy sense of humor in that…  🙂

As we’re discussing setting rules for teens, we shared a lot of stories from our own teen years.  Three distinct stories stood out to me:

  1. One attendee shared that his parents set strict rules, very strict boundaries without explaining them to him.  He had questions upon questions.
  2. Another attendee shared that while she was given distinct boundaries, her parents never brought God into the equation.  They were rules for rule-sake, and she still rebelled.
  3. Another attendee broke out in tears as her friend next to her shared the hurt she was recounting as she thinks about lack of boundaries she had growing up.  She had many, many regrets of the mistakes she had made simply because there were no boundaries in her life.

boundaryAll of these stories made my heart hurt and yet rejoice in God’s amazing grace.  Yes, I believe without a doubt in my mind that kids and teens need boundaries at every age.  However, we also need to explain to them why these boundaries exist.  Boundaries without why’s only lead to confusion, questions, and even rebellion.  No boundaries lead to lack of discernment and sometimes even conscience to do what’s right.  We give kids and teens boundaries because we love them.  We gives kids and teens boundaries because we want to protect them.  We give kids and teens boundaries because we want to help them make good decisions.  We give kids and teens boundaries because we want to equip and develop them to be responsible, God-loving, God-fearing, and wise adults.  Boundaries are needed… but they cannot be given without the why’s… and the biggest and the most important why is because of our relationship with Jesus.  We make our life-choices based on God’s leading because of our relationship with Him.

What’s also beautiful about these stories is that regardless of the questions, confusions, rebellion, and mistakes, God redeemed all these beautiful people.  I don’t even know their names… but their faces are super clear in my mind.  I just remember thinking–wow, they’re here!  They’re at a Christian Conference, and they’re sitting in a workshop that talks about helping teens commit to Jesus Christ and making life choices that reflects growing relationship with Jesus!  What a beautiful picture of redemption!  God is so cool like that!  God uses our past experiences and even hurts to help others… and these faces were so beautiful to me!

Set boundaries for kids and teens but explain why!  And regardless of what decision kids make, know that God can redeem even the worst questions, confusions, rebellion, and mistakes.

monkey see, monkey do…

monkey see monkey do

Yes, it’s been a very long time since I last blogged… The last few months have been crazy non-stop… Well, last week, I stopped by my friend’s house because I was in the area.  I got to spend some time w/ her 2 kids.  Her older one just turned 3 years old.  As I was trying to talk to my friend, he kept wanting to play with me.  We started building a tower on his colorful pegboard.  Once we finished our tower, he took the four pegboards and started quizzing me:

pegboardB:  What color is this?

Me:  Blue!

B:  Greeeeaaaaat Joooooob!  Now what color is this?

Me: Red?

B:  Veeeerrry Niiiiceeeee….  How about this one?

Me:  Yelloooooow.

B:  Yesssss!  Gooood.

This quizzing continued for about 15 minutes.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  First, it was ridiculously cute.  Second, I was dying because I could definitely hear his mom’s tone and and intonation in the way he said “great job,” “very nice,” or “good.”  He was talking to me as if I was the child. He was only repeating what he hears from his mom and other adults… We often talk about how scary it is “what kids pick up from adults.”  They pick up words, actions, context, attitude, and even intonation.  They truly observe everything…. and often repeat in the right context!

I was reminded how important it is for us adults to model for the little ones around us!  I’m also guilty of not being the best model around kids at times.  But if you’re around kids often or all the time, you really need to think twice about how kids are catching your behavior, actions, words, and attitude.  As they say, monkey see, monkey do!

How can you change what your behavior, actions, words, and attitude to be a better model this week?

letting go of my dreams for 2014

letting go of dreamI’m a dreamer by nature.  I used to get distracted as a child because I was often daydreaming.  As an adult, I still daydream about the life I wish I had or hope to have.  I’m also a planner by nature.  I used to have a blueprint of how my life was suppose to be.

Couple years ago, I will never forget the conversation I had with a dear friend of mine.  Her son had recently been diagnosed with string of special needs, and she explained to me the trial and agony she and her husband had gone through that time.  “You know, the hardest part was letting go of our dream for him and accepting the life God has planned for him.”  She went on to explain that even though they always wanted God’s will for his life, she and her husband still had high hopes and expectations of their son.  They had dreams of their son becoming a successful engineer (he’s always been very good at putting things together) or an athlete or even a pastor.  They had dreams of their child growing up to become an amazing husband and father one day, but she confided that he may not have the capabilities to put others before himself.  I felt the pain as she shared her struggles with me.  And then it dawned on me that this is a process every parent must go through for their children as well as everyone must go through at one point for themselves.  For my friend, they were forced to face this truth sooner than they had expected.

Lately, a lot of people seem to be having babies around me.  And every time I hold the newborn, I can just see the feeling of blank slate in the parents.  This newborn can grow up to be anything he/she wants to be.  This newborn has all the potential in the world.  This newborn can become the president, run a successful company, have huge impact in this world, or invent something amazing!  But reality is, that dream rarely plays out the way we imagine.  Soon or later, we all have to let go of the dream we have for our kids and even for ourselves and exchange them for what it is in reality…

I’ve been known to make a list of new year’s resolution… because I have high hopes and dreams for the new year.  As I’ve been thinking about this for a while, it dawned on me that I haven’t fully relinquished my dreams for my life for the life God has planned for me.  I still dream of fairytale life.  I still dream of fairytale job.  i still dream of fairytale family.  I still dream of fairytale romance.  It’s not bad to have dreams and goals.  I still have set goals to pay off all my debt (mostly incurred through medical and medication bills) so I have vowed to give up my not-so-guilty-pleasure of mani/pedi & spa treatments ’til I pay off all my bills.  But I need to fully accept the life that God has planned for me which is far better than what I have planned for myself and stop daydreaming of “what ifs” and “only ifs.”

So for 2014, I’m letting go of my dreams and plans for my life… and working on accepting the life God has planned for me… and take each day to enjoy and live to the fullest with gratitude!

Elevate & Celebrate Fathers…

Disclaimer:  I’m a little sensitive about this… but you’ll find out why if you read on! If I remember correctly, about three weeks prior to Mother’s Day, I started seeing blogs, facebook posts, hallmark commercials, articles, and ads about mother’s day… about how we need to appreciate mothers and stories and stories about how awesome mothers are!  Don’t get me wrong… I don’t mean to underplay the role of mothers!  I think mothers have very difficult jobs, and there are many women that are worthy of being recognized.  Many mothers work tirelessly… and I applaud them! Father's Day in SA Now, you have to understand that I grew up without a mother since age 8.  She passed away suddenly, and it literally took the whole village of extended family to raise me!  I often say I was raised by many mothers… but I was raised by one father.  He probably had no clue how to raise a pre-adolescent girl… but he tried his best.  He made a lot of mistakes (we can both admit it now) but he did what he believed was best.  He made me instant noodles for breakfast.  He tried to act cool in front of my girlfriends and embarrassed me.  He was mean to all my guy friends and embarrassed me.  He let me drink 3-5 cans of soda per day.  He made me sneak in popcorn to movie theaters.  He let me have lots of junk food.  So my dad was far from an ideal picture of the perfect father.  However, he was always there.  When I was physically separated from him during elementary school years for 4 years, he called me every saturday night (this is the 80’s… so that was a big deal).  Whenever he traveled, he brought back earrings and necklaces for me.  He tried his best to talk to me, guide me, and even give me girly advice (yeah, he wasn’t very good).  He cooked for me.  He bought me clothes (although his taste wasn’t always the best).  He took me to hair salons to get my hair done.  He tried his best to be the mom and the dad.  He went into overtime to make sure I was well taken care of.  He never complained… he just tried his best.  And even to this day, he apologizes for not having done enough for me.  He’s far from perfect (and I know that really well…) but he’s the closest thing to a mother I’ve always wanted. So I get sensitive that fathers don’t get the acclaim and the celebration that mothers get.  I know that my dad had to step up to his role because he had a daughter without a mom… and he probably never imagined that he’d have to do all those things.  However, it’s one week before Father’s Day, and I have yet to see something out there talking about fathers (except for bunch of email ads to sell father’s day ties, shirts, and golf accessories).  Call me biased, but I think father’s job is just as stressful and difficult.  They just have different stresses, and they deal with them differently from mothers.  But that shouldn’t diminish how we celebrate fathers.  Fathers are more often portrayed as being lazy, sitting back and watching tv with beer in their hands, etc.  But even if it’s done in humour gest, how often do we see pictures of good and involved fathers in comparison to man’s man lounging in mancave?  I know that there are more households with mothers than fathers.  But get this… On Father’s Day of 2009, I was at a church in Khayelitsha Township in Western Cape, South Africa.  Because fatherlessness is a prevalent issue in many townships, they really wanted to celebrate fathers!!!  The whole service was led by fathers!  The praise team all consisted of fathers!  They called all the fathers up on stage to sing, dance, and to pray for them.  They really wanted to elevate, celebrate, bless, and encourage the fathers!  It was one of the coolest things I had experienced.  And then the little kiddos came up on stage, and sang a song that moved me to tears.  The lyrics said:  “we pray for you, you pray for us, we love you, we need you to survive.” We often talk about importance of the role of fathers… but I don’t think it’s elevated enough.  I don’t think it’s celebrated enough!  What if we raised the bar!  What if we elevated and celebrated fathers as much as mothers!  What if we blessed, appreciated, empowered, and encouraged fathers as much as mothers!  I wonder what that would do to our perception of fathers in the society…