Tag Archives: culture

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays?

This seems to be an on going debate this time of year.   I’m a Merry Christmas person, because I am a Christian. This is the time of year designated for the celebration of the birth of Christ… for Christians.  But it wasn’t always that way…

Christmas, in it’s earliest days, was many different things.  It was a celebration of longer days for the Europeans, most commonly called the winter solstice.  It was a perfect time to celebrate  in Scandinavia because most cattle were slaughtered, so they would not have to be fed through the winter.  Folks had plenty of meat and, in addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally ready for drinking.   The Germans were busy honoring their pagan god, Oden, during this time of year, huddling inside their homes in fear.  In Rome, a holiday called Saturnalla, in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture was underway.  They kept busy for a month with eating, drinking and turning the Roman social order upside down.  During this time they also celebrated Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome, as well as the birth of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun.

As far as Christianity had been concerned, the main holiday was Easter. Period.  It wasn’t until the 4th century that the church decided to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Even though it is most likely that Christ was born in the spring, Pope Julius I chose December 25th and it was first called the Feast of the Nativity. 

By the middle ages, Christmas celebrations were primarily drunken, carnival-like parties, much like Mardi Gras.  Finally, by the 17th century, religious reform moved in and changed the celebration drastically… temporarily.  It was even cancelled for a time.

With the beginning of America, in 1620, Christmas was boycotted once again.  It had gotten so bad, that the holiday was actually outlawed in Boston from 1659-1681.  Then in 1828, NYC police responded to the first Christmas riot, which many think was the catalyst to reform of the celebration.  It wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.  Over the next hundred years, Americans constructed their own Christmas traditions.  It was built with bits and pieces of many other customs from many different cultures and time periods.

The bottom line is this; Christmas is an invented holiday, that means many different things to many different people.  For the Christian, it is the chosen day to celebrate the birth of our Savior, as the story is told in the Holy Scriptures.  For the Hebrew, it is Hanukkah. For the pagan, it’s the winter solstice.  Greek and Russian cultures are celebrating the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, which is the day they believe the wise men found the manger.  There are many other types of celebrations all around the globe… and around your neighborhood.

If Christians really want to keep Christ in Christmas, I think we should stop worrying about the well wishes of others and look at ourselves.  Instead of rushing the stores at 3AM with ill intent to the person snatching the last Elmo, lets visibly practice patience, kindness, self control and gentleness.  Instead of stressing through long to-do lists, let’s count every minute as a gift from God, and visibly demonstrate peace and joy.  Giving should be 365 days a year, not just though the holidays.  We should be donating clothes, food, and gifts frequently.  Let’s invite friends, family, and neighbors, to dinner regularly.  Send cookies to people just for fun a few times a year.  Tip your service people well – all the time, whether they are good or not.  Seriously.

The Word says,  “All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47

The Lord added to their numbers because of how they lived, which was different than everyone else.  Being mad and offended is not being different.  Being stressed and rushed and consumed with shopping and decorations, is not different.  Christian’s can keep Christ in Christmas by being different – Galatians 5:22-23… Against such things there is no law…

Whatever your traditions are, stop worrying about what others are doing and saying and be at peace this holiday season… that is something I think we can all agree on.  Really.

So, how do you celebrate on December 25th?

Merry Christmas.

 

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Black Friday.

Today is Black Friday.  The biggest shopping day of the year.  I am sitting on my sofa, still in my pj’s and it’s after 2PM.  I did get up around 9 this morning, but I cleaned the kitchen floor, did a load of laundry, vacuumed my bedroom, and the ceiling fan in my bathroom.   I have also managed to read about 4 chapters in The Circle, by Ted Dekker, the 25th Proverb and Psalms 132-135.  I’ve checked out Facebook this morning too.  Many of my friends have been posting about shopping and all of the great deals and crowds.  I’m not jealous.

There was a time in my life, when I planned my Christmas shopping and headed out before the sun.  I’ve stood in lines holding toys and electronics for hours.  I fondly remember applying for my Target card, while standing behind 200 other people, holding a hopping Tigger, that I almost didn’t get.  It was a dive and grab, and I was victorious.  My youngest son beamed with delight on Christmas morning, and we tolerated that bouncing, chatty Tigger for many, many hours, days and weeks after.  I asked him if he remembered that Tigger today.  He said, “no.”  I wanted to yell, “Really?!? What!?!  I almost committed assault and battery for that thing!  I stood in line forEVER!”  Really??  He said that he does remember the Thomas the Tank bike, that we purchased at 4:30AM at Zany Brainy in 2001.  I only stood in line for about 45 minutes for that one.   It was the bike he learned to ride, and I have scrapbook pages of the event in memorandum.  I guess I should have taken a picture or two of that dang Tigger.

Several years ago, we started a new tradition at our house.  We only give the kids 3 gifts.  A gold, which represents a treasure they have wanted.  A frankincense, which is something for their mind, and a myrrh, which is something for their body.  We still hang the stockings, and fill them with fun things, in keeping with Christmas traditions.  It has been AWESOME.  Having 4 kids, I still must shop for 12 gifts, but there’s a defined point and a plan.  When they tell me what they would like, it’s a short list.  Also, by calling it what it is, it keeps the theme of the real meaning of the holiday in focus.  I can usually get everything online too… Usually.  Last year they couldn’t think of anything that they really wanted, so we adopted a few families in our community and put all of our resources there.  We still surprised them with a treasure on Christmas morning, but it was more memorable to shop together, and deliver the gifts to those families than lots of gifts under the tree.

So, what did you do today?  Are you finished your shopping already?  I still have to get the 12…  I wonder if it’s too late to go find a good deal?

 


TV…What’s on Yours?

So. We are sitting here, again, watching a little television as a family.  This is an activity that is not as easy as it used to be.

We have a security block on our televisions.  If a show is rated “M”, we have to enter a code to see it.  We never had to enter it before 10PM, but now, at 8PM most shows are blocked.  What do you do with a 13 year old in the house – or younger?  You end up watching PBS, History or Disney Channel.

Tonight, we are watching a show called, So Random on Disney.  It seems to be a kid version of SNL.  It used to be a really funny show, called, Sonny with a Chance, until the star of that show went to rehab for some destructive behavior.  She is doing better now, and is pursuing a musical career. I miss her. Really.

Even Disney is not always family friendly anymore.  Now there’s even a show called My Babysitter is a Vampire.  It’s ridiculous.  Just about every show on Disney highlights stupid parents, really smart and good-looking kids, who are all dating, or consumed with the opposite sex.  Our family favorite is Good Luck Charlie.  The kids are usually lying about something, and the parents usually let them get away with it.  The mom always makes me laugh though and Charlie is adorable.  I do think about the kids that watch television  without any parental filters.  My prayer is that most parents are pro-active with their kids viewing habits.

Television is a hard call for Christian families these days.  We know that culture is wrong on so many levels.  We know that television is a huge influence on culture – and on people in general.  So what do you do?  Do you watch shows or movies that promote everything you know is wrong – biblically?  Man, it’s hard.

So, we just do our best.  We stay in God’s Word, and actually go days without even turning on the television. We have the “block” and we have a Clearplay DVD player. (www.clearplay.com) We discuss stuff that we do watch, and will compare culture with scripture when we need to. We do miss most of the popular shows and movies, which is sometimes frustrating.

There is a story I heard once, a long time ago, that goes like this:

Some kids came to their parents and asked if they could watch a movie that many of their friends had seen.  The kids said that it was not all bad, with only a little bit of profanity.  The parents said they would think about it and discuss it again the next day.  The next day came, and the parents set the kids down at the table in front of a big plate of brownies.  The kids were thrilled, and went to grab one.  The parents said, “wait, let us tell you what is in the brownies first”.  The parents then told the kids that the brownies were made with the best ingredients, and they even went and gathered some dog poop from the back yard and put in just a little bit for extra flavor.  They told the kids if they were OK with that, and could eat the brownies, then they could go to the movie.

Isn’t that the way it is?  The sad part about that story is that we have all been eating the brownies for so long, we don’t notice the poop and we don’t even care.

We are not a perfect family.  We have a hard time with the “Be in the world, not of the world” teaching from scripture.  So much so, we have an ongoing debate in our house.  I like to think that too much sports viewing is worse then TLC’s Sister Wives or Toddler’s & Tiaras.  My husband and son’s disagree. Either way, it’s all brain candy – and too much candy is not good for us, but it’s hard to resist.

So, what do you watch, with or without guilt?  How do you live out being “in” and not “of”?  I’ll let you think about that, while I go watch Sister Wives.  Really. Pray for me.


Guest Post – Parenting

I have been crazy busy over the past couple of weeks.  Trying to keep a daily exercise program, baseball season for Nick, home-schooling, fulfilling my role as CFO for our company and just taking care of our home, as left sporadic times for writing.  I’ve got a few blogs in the works, and will be posting again soon.  Meanwhile, I do read several other blogs in my morning coffee time, and this one sounded like something I would write.  I always enjoy this blog, and today I thought it was something you would enjoy as well…

Here is a link to it on the Church & Culture site

http://www.churchandculture.org/blog.asp?id=1729

Or you can read it here as well –

Home > Resources > Blog > The Under Protective Parent

Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last weekend, I launched a series of talks under the title “The Under Protective Parent.”

 The thesis was simple: there is much talk in our day about avoiding being “over protective,” but little to no talk on being “under protective.”
It’s a significant cultural question.
Let’s go back a few decades.
In the 1930s and 40’s, parents and families were conventional, strict, focused on appearance. Then, in 1946, came a book titled Baby and Child Care by a man named Dr. Benjamin Spock, an American pediatrician.
A book which continues to shape us to this day.
Building off of the field of psychoanalysis, Dr. Spock told parents to loosen up, back off, and let the child go. Be more flexible. Treat them as individuals. While he admirably called for love and affection, he often paired that against discipline and control.
Tell your child they are special, loved and unique.
Don’t ever spank them.
Feed them whenever they are hungry.
Don’t try and put them on a schedule.
By 1998 it had sold more than 50 million copies and been translated into 39 languages. Many critics felt that the proof of his advice was in the pudding. They quipped, “What do you get when you raise a generation on the permissive ideas of Dr. Spock, saturate them with rock and roll, introduce them to drugs and alcohol, overshadow them with the threat of nuclear holocaust, and then tell them that God is dead?
The sixties.
Whether that was a result of new parenting styles, or simply the way of the world, the parenting pendulum had swung. From hands on to hands off; from discipline to persuasion; from moral authority to moral influence. And while we may have backed off from some of the more radical ideas Spock put forward that our parents and their parents embraced, here’s what stuck:
The one thing you don’t want to do as a parent is be “over” protective. And we’ve attached all kinds of pejorative words to it.
Hovering.
Smothering.
Babying.
Coddling.
Sheltering.
But it sends a very strong message by insinuation: it’s wrong to be over-protective, but it’s not wrong to be under-protective. If you’re going to make a mistake, make a mistake in being loose, in playing fast and free, in not protecting enough.
Because the one big parenting sin is protecting too much.
Really?
In a world of sexting and Facebook, bullying in schools and internet porn, the Jersey Shore and OC, cutting and hooking up, is it time for hands off or hands on? Time for more Spock, or something else?
Nobody wants to raise kids who are so sheltered that they are socially arrested or incapacitated, or have a parenting style that’s so heavy-handed that it invites resentment and rebellion.
But in our fear of being over-protective, we’ve been under-protective.
We let culture dictate what is normal; if “everyone” is doing it, wearing it, seeing it, going to it, or listening to it, then we feel we will be doing our child damage if we don’t go along.
But parenting by “everyone” is madness.
And if we do it, we’re putting our children’s very childhood at risk.
The assumption with parenting is simple: your children are immature and need your maturity. Yet some parents are more eager to be liked, or accepted by their kids, than they are to be parents to their kids.
So instead of being active, they’re passive.
And in so doing, they drop their protective guard.
The very idea of childhood is that there is a time when a young person is sheltered from certain ideas, experiences, practices, expectations and knowledge. They are sheltered from adult secrets, particularly sexual ones. Certain facets of life – its mysteries, its contradictions, its tragedies, its violence – are not considered suitable for children to know. Only as they grow into adulthood are they revealed in ways that they can assimilate psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
This is why for years the books that were read in the fourth grade or seventh grade or ninth grade were chosen not only for their vocabulary and syntax, but because their content was considered to contain fourth, seventh or ninth grade information, ideas and experiences.
But when the line between the adult world and the child’s world becomes blurred, or no longer exists, childhood disappears.
So we let our eight-year-olds watch Modern Family or Glee;
…we let our girls dress provocatively and begin dating at ridiculously early ages;
…we ignore the fact that our kids have lied to get on Facebook (you have to be 13), or even lied for them;
…we let “godaddy” commercials come and go without comment, or even changing the channel, while watching the game with our sons;
…we have no idea what Rhianna, Katy Perry or Lady Gaga is singing to them on their iPod;
…and we don’t screen friends.
So am I saying that children should be naive? With all that is in within me, yes! That is what childhood is for. A time for wonderful, beautiful naivete and innocence.
So what should a properly protective parent do?
It’s not complicated:
Be informed, involved and in charge.
To be informed is to know what is going in your child’s world. You know what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.
To be involved means that you are part of their world. You are not a spectator, you’re a participant.
To be in charge means you are leading their world, creating their world, shaping their world.
This is the difference between being simply a mother or a father,
…and being a parent.
James Emery White
Sources 
Benjamin Spock, Baby and Child Care.
Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood.
You can obtain an mp3 file of the first talk in this series on the Message Downloads page.

Youth Sports…

The Little League World Series has just ended and Fall baseball has begun here in the south.  Having 3 boys and an x-sports reporter husband, we know ALL about sports around here, and we participate in a few… but baseball is numero uno.

I will tell you that we have had our kids in recreational sports, travel leagues, and on school teams.  My husband has been a team manager, assistant coach, and spectator.  I have even subjected myself to the role of team mom, and, inadvertently learned how to keep a score book, which has resulted in a crippling dent to my sideline sociability.  We all have run score boards, sold BBQ tickets, candy and coupons, and we all have done our time sweating to death in a concession booth.

Recreational sports programs are a unique, cult like experience.  You have your super stars, and your not so super stars.  The jersey number is sacred, and you know who’s there by the decals on the windows of the mini vans and SUV’s in the parking lot.. There’s plenty of nepotism and partiality.  Every good ballpark has their share of screamers and cussers, as well as angry parents, and the down right, just plain bad, parents.  Over the years, we have been pretty blessed with some awesome families on our teams… for the most part.  I can tell you that many “player drafts” take the parents behavior and support into full consideration.  No one wants the “banned” or trouble parent, even if their kid is a pretty good player.

The other day, our team was delayed for our field time, because a player in the game before ours lost his temper over a tough call.  The player tried to hurt the umpire, then, once ejected from the game, and the park, his father hit him in the head which resulted in the boy returning the favor, but with his cleats – thus, the authorities were called.  Really?   We have seen players purposely trip, hit and push other players, to only be rewarded by their coach.  Once, we even witnessed 2 coaches that were on the same team, get into a full blown fist fight in the dugout… in front of about 22 ten year olds and their families.  I could write an entire blog just listing the awful behavior we have witnessed in the name of youth sports…

With all of that being said, having your children play recreational sports can be a very fun and rewarding experience.  Seriously.  Your kids can learn to be a team player and a friend. If your coach is good,  the players will understand the actual game that they are playing.  They may also realize that working hard can be fun, and they can hopefully learn to win with humbleness, and lose with dignity. Unfortunately though, the trend of prideful, out of control parents, kids, and coaches, is becoming more and more common.  That is not fun or rewarding …for anyone.

I think that athletes are prejudicially exalted these days – even the kids from the Little League World Series have Fan Pages! Really?  We were not created to be that elevated for a skill we may have, because it takes a lot more than skill to fulfill the responsibility of having Fans… it takes character. (don’t even get me started on the Pro Sports) 🙂

There are hundred’s of thousands of kids playing baseball all over the world today.  Less than 1% will actually make it to the big leagues.  With that in mind, lets put all of this into perspective… They are kids.  The shaping of their character is far more important than how far they can hit a ball with a bat.  Teach them to play, and give it their best, but let’s put sportsmanship first and skill second.  Remember, it’s just a GAME that begins when the umpire yells, “PLAY ball!” Really.


Yep… still a home school mom… Part 2

I started home schooling out of desperation, but I have continued out of conviction.

Right before I took my 7th grader out of public school all those years ago,  I had been substituting at a couple of middle schools.  My experiences in those schools were not pleasant. Things had changed drastically since my days of puberty, and it was not for the better.

I home-school because I want my son to learn without distraction.  I want his ears to be  sensitive to profanity and his heart to be soft to injustice.  I want to teach him that it’s God’s Word that matters most, not the most popular kids word…I want my son to know that God is in every single thing in his life, and it’s his very ability to learn that comes from Him.

I home school because I believe that all children deserve to learn in the way they were created and at the pace that their brains can keep up with.  I don’t teach to a test, and we don’t move on until there’s complete understanding.  The time will come soon enough when meeting the status quo will matter, but it’s not in adolescence.

I have learned that when you teach to a child’s heart, knowledge and understanding will follow.  Grades are just a way to see what we still need to learn.  They are not the defining mark of any child.  Their character is.

I have totally selfish reasons for home-schooling as well.  I love the schedule of it.  I love planning activities with my son, and going on field trips.  I love implementing life responsibilities in our education, and I just love being a part of the whole process… We rarely run out of time for the things that matter, because it all matters.

I believe that the public school systems do have the children’s best interest at heart.  I also believe, unfortunately, that their interest can only be diluted when you have the increased population in the classroom, and the varying, ever changing, opinions of those in control.  It is a government entity that has taken too big of an influence in our lives, in places where it has no business.

I choose to home school.  I take it seriously.  I don’t judge you if you choose not to, but I do admonish you to talk to your child about their day at school.  I implore you to be pro-active with your child’s studies. Get to know your child’s teacher.  They would probably appreciate your support!  Know what they are learning and be involved.   It’s your right as a parent.  You are your child’s best advocate, and their character development is up to you.

When all is said and done, and the diploma is hanging on the wall, the adult that your child becomes is really up to them.  We can only do what we can.  As I have said before…faith, hope, love and prayer will always be yours long after control and influence have expired.  Take comfort in those and know that God loves your kids more than you do. Really.


Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and things that go bump in the night.

* Spoiler Alert (if you believe the above are real, do not read this post)

There are many “acceptable” lies that some parents tell their children.  The 3 biggies are: Santa, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.

I honestly never gave these things much thought, except the Easter Bunny… As a Christian, I always had trouble making the leap from Christ’s resurrection to a giant egg- leaving rabbit, but that’s not my point today.

 It seems that many parents in America don’t have a problem telling their kids that a big fat man, a giant bunny, and a fairy, will sneak into their homes, in the dark of night, and leave surprises.  Some parents even drag their kids to the mall, stand in line, and put them on a strange person’s lap for a picture….  When I put it that way, it sounds kinda creepy, doesn’t it?  I’ve had parents tell me that it’s fun!  It’s tradition! It’s harmless and kids love it. Seriously?

I used to leave reindeer snacks, cookies, and carrots out for our annual intruders.  I never even really minded that my kids didn’t have to thank me for their gifts cause they were from Santa, and he wasn’t there on Christmas morning.  If you are a parent that has had your kids write thank you letters to Santa – kudos!  I tried… but then forgot, and my kids didn’t remind me.  Those dang kids.

It all changed one day back in 1997, when my darling daughter had just turned 5. My second child told her that all of these American icons, where not real.  She came to me, and asked if it was true.  I sat down and confirmed what her stinker brother had said.  She looked right at me, with big blue, tear filled eyes, and said, “Mommy, why did you lie to me?”  Really.  My heart broke.  I told her all of those great reasons, and she said, “but mommy, it’s not fun. it always scared me”.  After that, we had a family meeting and we found out that all of our kids found it a little scary, and they never really understood the connections… Santa/Birth of Christ, Bunny/Christ resurrection or Teeth/Fairies… At the time, I was expecting my fourth child and the kids informed me that, if we planned on “lying” to the baby, they would not participate.

That was the end of the mystical characters in our home.

It has served us well, even though some of my friends have been annoyed with us.  Especially when my kids told their kids the “truth”…(sorry)  Through all of that though, it was probably one of the best changes for our family.  Christmas is now 3 gifts, a “myrrh” is something for their bodies, a “frankincense” is for their minds and a “gold” is a treasure that they have wanted.  We still do the stocking for our country tradition, and we fill them with small fun things.  Easter is focused just on Christ, but we still will participate in a good egg hunt on occasion, and we have had a photo or 2 with the Bunny…just for fun.  When the kids lost a tooth, they just handed to me…and I handed them some cash…lame. I know.  You can judge me all you want next time you are waiting for your kid to fall asleep, and then spend 15 minutes digging under their pillow looking for a tooth…

We are always honest with our kids, even in the name of fun.  We leave the make-believe to their imaginations…. If you are a die hard traditionalist, good for you.  But if you ever want to come over to the less stressful side.. I’ll be waiting. 😀