Frances Gets Baptized

Saturday I drove to Santa Monica with Ana Valencia, Anthony’s second mom and a blessing to me. We went to see my son’s girlfriend, Frances get baptized. A beautiful sunset service as three women committed their lives to Christ and the great commission was fulfilled.

L2R Me, Ana, Kim, Anthony, Frances, Jennifer, Mike, Craig

The first one to go into the water was a woman named Katie. Her family came in from Vancouver Canada. A beautiful spirit she beamed ear to ear. I love to see how God radiates in the smile of a believer.

Katie gets baptized first.

Frances went second. My picture came out blurry but my mind will never forget this moment.

Next went a beautiful woman named Molly. Molly may never know the impact she had on my life. I wonder if she realized that she quoted Jesus in the midst of her tears? Do you know the feeling when you witness a true God moment that is so extraordinary that it is imprinted on your heart forever? This was this kind of moment.

This next picture is of Kim, Frances’ bestie from Tennessee. I have to tell you that I love Kim. She is just one of those people that you meet and you’ve known forever. She makes me smile and her heart is so expansive. I am blessed to know her!

Kim and Frances

This is a picture of Marie, one of the small group leaders who helped lead Frances to this moment. She opens her home and heart for study.

This is June, she leads the small group in Marie’s home and made sure these women were ready to embark on this new journey with Christ.

I was honored to part of this special occasion. I love that three women submitted their lives to Christ last night. I love that in the water walked the old man and out emerged the new nature. Three women received keys to Kingdom last night. The angels rejoiced, God smiled great big and a new adventure unfolded.

In the Narnia Chronicles, Susan asks if Aslan is safe. No, is the response. He is not safe but he is good. Mighty women of God, your adventure begins and it doesn’t guarantee safety in the way we look at safety. It doesn’t guarantee that each day will be filled with happiness and heartache will never come. It does promise that God is good and that he will see you through it all, that your safety is secure in the end.

May your adventure be one of fulfillment, contentment, risk and the secure knowledge that in the end it all works out for your good and the good of those who you will impact for Jesus!

Will The Real Man Please Stand Up

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I’ve been watching with curiosity a trend that seems to happening in the males of our species. I’m not exactly sure when it started or why but I find by the whole thing strange.

The first thing I saw was that our boys were really emotional. They cry for everything. Yes, we want our boys to be able to cry and not hold things in but they cry over things that don’t seem to be important. They cry when the vending machine is out of their favorite soda and they have to pick another. Is that really an issue to cry over? What is going to happen when life doesn’t hand you what you want and you’re a father of three kids?

In counseling I am talking to married men on a regular basis who say things like, “I hate my job and I am seriously thinking about quitting because I deserve to be happy.” Yes, it would be great to be happy but you have a wife and kids and you are the sole support of your family. YOU CAN’T JUST QUIT! I don’t think my grandfather ever once came home and threatened to quit his job. He understood his role in his family as the support of the home. He probably hated his jobs. He worked out in the fields and drove truck and was a card dealer at night I would bet that it was a pretty miserable to work two jobs and sleep in the cab of your truck as they loaded up your trailers yet not once did I hear him complain. His words to us were simply, “I am working hard to provide opportunities for you so that you don’t have to work this hard.” Since when do emotions enter into sustenance decisions that affect our families?

In speaking to Pastor Doug he felt that there was a shift when men were told they weren’t sensitive enough. So we created a generation of emotional males. I agree he is probably right but there is a problem with that. When a man thinks emotionally he thinks irrationally. Men tend to problem focus while women tend to emotionally focus. When a man thinks emotionally he doesn’t think clearly and it frustrates him  and therefore runs the risk of making rash decisions that ultimately hurt the family.

I think there has to be a happy medium. Yes, I believe men have emotions and they need to express them appropriately. It’s normal to cry when your dog dies, when your mom dies, when something is truly sad. It’s not okay to cry when Chili’s is out of baby back ribs. It’s not okay to cry when your baby needs diapers and you have to spend your poker money on them. No one has ever promised you that life would be fair. Life is just but it’s not fair. So your best friend got a Wii for Christmas and you didn’t. It’s okay, your day will come and you’ll get it too. This is nothing to cry about.

I am not in any way including tender-hearted men in this blog. Some men are just touched by sensitive things. The difference is they cry over a baby’s birth or a sad movie not whether they can go golfing or not. I am talking about the crying over life’s issues that just happen. I am talking to the women raising men. If your son didn’t clean his room and wants to go to the movies and your deal was he had to clean his room, no amount of crying should move you to change the deal. These aren’t things to cry about and we need to teach this. These are simply consequences.

I don’t know if I am the only one who thinks this, but this is a very serious issue to me. I see men not stepping up to the plate as men because they don’t “feel” like it. As a woman I am wondering what happens to our children when men seek their own happiness over their the well-being of their family. It used to be that a man would abandon his family very rarely. It was an oddity. Now not having a dad is pretty normal, most births in America are to single moms. The number one thing I hear when a father doesn’t want to be a dad is because he isn’t getting his way. A few years ago I heard a man say, “Well, she bought clothes for the baby and so I spent the same amount on a couple of tickets to the WWE, it’s only fair.” Want to see my head explode? This is a good way to see it happen. We have work to do or rather undo.

Boundaries Part 2

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To read part 1 click here.

So what are some boundaries to consider discussing before you get married and blend a family? Here are some basic questions to get you started but there are many, many more and it is wise to begin to get a list together.

Will children have their own rooms or will they share?

Who will clean the room?

Are children allowed to play with each other’s things without permission?

If a child visits on weekends, will that child have special exemptions from the everyday household chores of the children who live in the home permanently?

Will the children be allowed to bring their pets from their other family home on visits?

Will the non-biological parent be allowed to discipline the children?

What does discipline look like to you?

What do children’s chores look like to you?

Are you allowed to open each other’s mail?

Are there certain things that are off limits? For example, can children come into your room and get your favorite lipstick, razor, blouse, watch?

How much input, into your new marriage, is allowed to be made by your former spouses?

Is a pet snake an acceptable family pet?

How will holidays be handled?

How much is too much to spend on clothing, video games, Christmas?

You can see how problems can arise quickly and escalate into pitting two camps against each other. Nothing is too petty to discuss at this point. It is no wonder we find Lady Tremaine angry when we meet her. I don’t believe any woman sets out to marry a man with children just to torment them and herself.

Finally, a word of warning, do not put this off or think it’s going to work out on it’s own. It just isn’t. Also beware that if you are compromising your answers to get this marriage started, you will face the consequences later. It is much better to discuss and find out that although you love each other, this will not work, than it is to drag yourself and your family through another divorce.

Finally, if you are already married, it is never too late to sit down calmly, not during a battle, and strategize. You already know what the issues are, now it’s time to lay them on the table and come to reasonable solutions.

Boundaries

This is third installment to read part 2 click here.

From Cinderella’s perspective we get the story that she was made to do all the chores and her only friends were mice. This is pretty much the perspective overall of stepchildren worldwide. While the biological daughters were getting their hair done, poor Cinderella was slaving for this family.

When a couple gets married for the first time, boundaries aren’t really an issue. They are established together and little by little as life unfolds, they discover things about themselves and about each other and boundaries are set and discussed. So it is no wonder that we believe that the same process of the first marriage is exactly how you would begin a second marriage.

Not so at all. A second marriage comes with a whole cast of characters that you didn’t have in a first marriage. A second marriage often has children already in place, it also has ex-spouses, ex-in-laws, friends who are friends with your ex, and well, you get the picture. It is a serious misconception that you come into this marriage as a man and a woman getting ready to begin a life together. You come in as two camps trying to make a life together. It is a much harder proposition to make several people happy, rather than just please two people in love.

Boundaries must be set before the wedding. This is one of the pitfalls I see to second marriages. The boundaries are necessary or there will be a lot of presumptions, miscommunications, hurt feelings, and battles. Think about it. If you live in a house, it has clear land boundaries. Let’s say you have great neighbors. You guys BBQ out in the back yard, if you forget to take the trash out to the curb on trash day, if he notices, he halls it out there for you, you guys like each other. One day your neighbor buys a new RV. Only it doesn’t fit in his carport, but if he removes your fence, he can park it in your yard because you have plenty of room! He neither asks you nor considers that you’d mind at all. He simply does it. You arrive home from work, your dog has run away, because the fence is down, and there is this big RV in your yard. Your neighbor looks shocked! How could you be mad? After all, he’s taken your trash out for years. Suddenly you have problems.

There is a saying that says: Good fences make good neighbors. This applies to second marriages. You are bringing two families together there must be boundaries or there will be battles. Those battles can increase and become a war in no time.

Next week, we’ll discuss what boundaries should be set and some serious questions that need some answers.

Nurture

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Sitting in the nail salon, a beautiful young woman comes over, “Oh, I want to see your nails and what you’re getting done.” I smiled and showed off my pink nails with black and white stripes and out of my mouth came the strangest thing, laughing I said, “You’re so beautiful! Look at you, all tan and pretty.” I don’t know why I said, it is so out of my character but here I sit and only God knows.

She answered, “Oh, you say that because you’re American. If you were Filipino you wouldn’t say that. I am too dark, plus I play sports in college and so I am outside a lot. You have no idea how many whitening creams I’ve tried. Nothing works. Americans all say they wished they had my skin but my mom says to cover up.”

“Are you kidding? Most people pay big bucks and never get your skin color. You are gorgeous!”

She smiled a great big smile.

Okay, now I know why I said what I said. Here stood this beautiful girl, early 20’s, I later find out, with the perfect body and long dark hair, great personality, outgoing and friendly and she needed a little nurture from a mom figure.

Daughters of the Most High King, who are you nurturing today?