The Battle For Peace


This is an ongoing series on stepparenting. To read the previous entry click here.

Lady Tremaine suddenly finds herself misunderstood and the magnifying glass is on her. Why is there no peace in her home? Why is she always disapproving? Why can’t we all just get along? Why does she take the blame for everything?

The children on both sides of the coin are vying for control. One child told his stepmother, “Every time I hum a song using da, like ‘da da da dadum dum’ it really means I’m praying for my dad to ‘da-vorce’ you.” So each time they got in the car to go somewhere as a family, the child would sit behind her in the car and as the music would play on the car stereo, the child would kick her seat and hum along using the “da”. By the time they reached their destination she would be furious and the child would be in control and loving it. Her husband simply didn’t believe her because the child was only 8 years old, at the time, and it seemed too manipulative a move for a child this age.

Stepmothers need to take an honest assessment of the situation they are in. If the home is becoming hostile and she is getting resentful and feeling like an outsider, she must back off and take a hands off approach to the children. She can’t step into a stepmother role, rather she must be seen as a mentor. This is not easy because our idea of a family is a mother and father. Only we have to remember that these children have a mother and father, for the most part, and they haven’t asked for another.

If a battle is ensuing in your home you must step back. The house will become unbalanced. There is no way around this. It means the things you need to have done will more than likely not get done. If your rule is to bring your own dirty clothes down to the laundry room on Wednesday for wash day, you can bet that the children will forget or ignore. It’s not personal. It doesn’t add to your chores either. You will simply have less clothes to wash that day. On Friday when everyone is looking to you to provide the clean School Spirit Shirt, you’ll simply say, “I washed all the clothes that were brought to me on Wednesday”. If dishes weren’t done the night before, well then tonight you won’t be able to cook dinner. Don’t worry, cereal for dinner has never killed a family. The key here is to give the person with the responsibility the ultimate authority while saving your sanity.

One stepmother would get up each morning to get her stepchildren off to school. Because they had ignored bedtimes the night before, there was always a battle. She’d think to herself how she was ignored the night before and now she was paying for something she hadn’t done. By the time she dropped them off at the bus stop, she was angry, kids were angry, and everyone was miserable. One harried morning she was rushing kids to get up and get moving while getting herself ready for work. Then, one of the kids threw up. Not having the time to figure it out and get the other one to the bus stop, she told the sick child to go back and lie down and she would be right back. She loaded up the other child and ran them to the bus stop. When she came home the sick child wasn’t home. She was frantic and called her husband. They both went looking for the child and when they found him wandering the streets, he began to cry to his father saying that he had thrown up and his evil stepmother had grounded him for life and told him to go to his room and never come out. The father was enraged and asked how she could be so heartless? It had never happened but it didn’t matter, she must have had a tone or a look or something. She had a choice, fight, flight, or take a step back. Guess what? This stepmother took a step back. She removed herself from the responsibility of getting children ready for school. Do you want to know the result? The children’s father was frustrated in no time, yelling, rushing out the door and the bedtime rules which seemed harsh before, became law. When her husband would come to complain about how hard it was, she would pat him on the arm and say, “I’m sorry you are going through this. Parenting is hard work.”

Gearing Up For The Holidays

The Young's Tree

This was an email I received from QBQ. It was written by John G Miller and I must say his book Question Behind The Question is an excellent and must read for everyone on the planet. This was taken from his book Outstanding!

Outstanding Holidays Don’t Just Happen

© QBQ, Inc. 2010
The holidays.

A season all about Family, Faith, and Friends. For many, it’s also a time of Food, Football, Festivities, Fun—and Freedom. Not just the blessing of living in a “free country,” but also maybe—just maybe—a little less tied to our jobs and a little more sleeping, puttering, and simply doing nothing on some days! Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But how about these words? Frenetic—a crazy, stress-filled pace. Finances—jubilant joy leads to dangerous debt. Frustration—things don’t quite go the way we planned. Fear—of being alone, left out. Fatigue—we simply do too much and return in January needing the month just to recover!

The reality is this: The holidays, for lots of people, just aren’t what they’re cracked up to be. Though we want them to stand out—that is, to be outstanding—they often fall short of our expectations. But, with some work, some discipline, and some adherence to fundamental ideas and principles, we can each experience an exceptional season.

By extracting concepts from the book Outstanding!—yes, written for the world of corporations, nonprofits, government entities, churches and schools—and applying them to this time of year, we can make the best of the holidays. And since most holiday celebrations involve families—which are organizations—let’s utilize the essences of nine of the 47 Outstanding! chapters to create a stellar season!

Choose to Change: Holiday traditions are great, but remember: Any strength taken to an extreme becomes a weakness. Outstanding families, like outstanding organizations, are willing to set aside “the way we’ve always done things” now and then. Keeping the end goals of joy, fun, and celebration in mind, we might need do things differently. Never forget: Blessed are the flexible, for they cause others to not get bent out of shape!

Keep the Mission Top of Mind: If you believe the “reason for the season” is faith (worshiping God and being thankful) and/or family (traditions and coming together) then don’t forget the “Why” behind the activities. Let purpose come before tasks, otherwise, the tasks can overwhelm the mission—and what’s the sense in that?

Get Actions In Line With Values: If we espouse values like love, caring, and acceptance, let’s ensure that our behaviors support those ideas. Integrity—actions in line with stated values—is a rare commodity in our world, so let’s allow that light to shine at home. Example: If we embrace the word “humility,” let’s avoid boasting, bragging, and topping each other in our interactions. Another: If I say I believe in relaxing and resting, then draw a few boundaries and say NO! if you really want to. It’s okay to not participate in some activities this time of year.

Fight the Fat: And we’re not talking about calories here! As Dave Ramsey says, when it comes to finances, “Bother to bother.” In other words, decide to stay on top of and in control of the dollars. By cutting up the plastic money and living within our means, we’ll experience a far more joyous … January!

Forgive Mistakes: What could be a more perfect way to achieve outstanding holidays than to let some stuff slide? Humans sometimes do say the wrong thing, make mistakes, exercise poor judgment, drop the ball, and forget to act. When these things happen, it’s an amazing opportunity to choose forgiveness. Practice the words, “No big deal. Let’s forget it.”

Let Every Player Count: A little lifting up of each person is a good thing. Careful that one individual’s needs and agenda don’t “rule the roost.” Let’s do our best to help each person—from 2 to 92—feel special. It’s a time to honor everyone on the team!

Speak Well: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) So true! As the tension and stress build, make sure that the way we talk to others—both our words and tone—is encouraging, loving, and supportive.

Listen In All Directions: In Outstanding! we write about listening in three ways: Management listening to the people, the people listening to each other, and everyone listening to the customer. My favorite part is where we take “multi-tasking” to task as a very bad habit. During these precious days, let’s set the iPods, laptops, and PDAs aside—cease the Tweeting, status updating, and surfing—and look each other in the eye, saying, “Go ahead, you are the most important person in my world at this moment and I want to hear every word you have to say.”

Someone Needs to Be the Boss: Lastly, parents, I beseech you—please parent! Family gatherings are hurt when the wrong people are in charge: the children. Let’s hold our kids to a new (yet old fashioned) level of respect, manners, and courtesy. The truth is, it’s not all about the children—and sometimes they need to know that. If your young child needs a really long “time out,” then take action. Don’t be afraid to let him or her know that—surprise, surprise!—you are the boss.

So there they are: Nine ways to have an outstanding holiday season. Share this with others—apply them yourself—and see what a difference they can make. And then come back in 2011 ready to make our organizations outstanding, too!

John G. Miller

The Hand Of Providence

I read this article written by Mark Alexander of The Patriot Post, and it’s worthy to share today!

Click Here

Mr. Alexander reminds of us of a powerful quote by our first president when he writes:

At the dawn of our nation, George Washington concluded, “The Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”

May we acknowledge the hand of the almighty on this country and we continue to pray that God bless America!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I just have a few random thoughts:

I am grateful for the scene I saw yesterday in the store. Loved it actually! I was wheeling my cart out the door after the check-out. It was a madhouse at the store. A little boy about 7ish, was walking with a bag of groceries and his father, who was this boy’s older twin by the way, grabs him by the hood of his coat and says, “Son, wait.” The boy asks why and begins looking at me. The father says, “Men always let women go out ahead of them. If the door isn’t automatic, they open it.” The boy goes, “Why?” I smiled at the dad and said “Thank you”. I am sure the conversation continued. I am grateful that there are still men who are teaching their boys manners. It makes me smile!

I am grateful for Pastor Juan Hernandez’ family because his grandchildren are singing praises to their God and a legacy continues.

I am grateful for this scripture because I can make myself at home in His presence and that is the greatest gift I’ve been given and the thing that blesses me so!

Psalm 100:1 On your feet now – applaud God! 2 Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. 3 Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep. 4 Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. 5 For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good and Great

I was reminded of a time several years back. Casey, my daughter was in youth group and the leader was talking to them about their parents. Casey said, enthusiastically, it was told to me, “I don’t just have a good mom, I have a great mom.” She was 16, at the time and I had worked hard with my kids to have a good relationship with them. I was never Casey’s or Ant’s friend but I was a parent who worked really hard at establishing a good communication with them. When the leader told me what she had said, I was thrilled that she thought so.

What had elevated me from good to great in those days? I think it was just that I loved her and we had a close relationship. She was my partner to shop and to go to plays with. I held her to a standard and she respected me for it and I respected her for trying her best. I miss her desperately some days, because she’s all grown up and off on her own. She doesn’t need her mom anymore as she once did. Now, I get calls about how to make certain food or what do I think about something. Now when we are together, it’s all I can do when I am with her not to just squeeze her and love her up. I know better than to do that because I’d embarrass her more than I already do.

So it is with our Lord. When we first learn about him and begin our relationship with him, he’s so good. Jesus even gives us the criteria for being the good shepherd:

John 10:11. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

When we first discover that Jesus loves so completely, it makes something stir in us. It makes us feel whole again. It makes us feel understood and a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

As we progress along with our relationship with him and we discover all that He is in our life he is so much more than good. He overwhelms us with his love. We can’t quite comprehend how he is able to see our flaws and our hang-ups and yet still love us so deeply. When we find that he never ceases to teach us and guide us, we discover that he is great!

Hebrews 13:20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

The Woman Who Is My Daughter

Last year just before Casey's birthday!

Today Casey is 25. I remember well the day she was born. Casey was born social with a great imagination and lots of strong will. As a toddler she pranced around in her tutu and when she started kindgergarten she was convinced she was allergic to pants and so she wore dresses all the time. She was a joy to raise and even though she challenged me with her opinion, we did a great job of getting along and working together.

Apples don’t fall far from trees and I see myself in her. Independent, loving, and driven she has set out into the world to make a place for herself. A place of her own ideals on her own terms. You can bet that she is never motivated by peer pressure, all of her successes and failures have been of her own choices. I learned early with a strong-willed child you have to find a way to channel it in boundaries but you never want to take it away. Strong will will serve its purpose one day and it has. Instead of a five year college plan she finished in 3 1/2 while working, proving that whatever she sets her mind to do she accomplishes it.

When I close my eyes and see my daughter I remember her as a four year-old, dancing and playing and singing. Hers was a world of make believe.

I know you I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you the gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
And I know it’s true that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once the way you did once upon a dream

I worry about her, I pray for her and the word love doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about her. I miss her terribly most days. We won’t see each other today, as we are miles apart, but my love follows her always and distance is never an obstacle. I love you sweet child ‘o mine!

TLC’s Conference

We were honored to have such powerful conference this weekend. Almost 150 women gathered to discuss why God asks us not to arouse or awaken love before it so desires. Women from the ages of 10-100 came and learned what God’s plan was and why he said wait. I was so impressed by our teens who were honestly saying that they had never really considered why God said wait.

Some of the comments that touched my heart were:

“Now I understand why my dad acts like he hates boys to talk to me you know? He is trying to protect me. I mean, he’s still not doing it right but I see his heart now you know?”

“I would never do the things I do in front of my dad but I had never considered that my father in heaven is always watching. It makes you think.”

“I can’t talk to my mom because she always runs and tells her sisters and her friends.”

“I can’t talk to my mom because she always starts yelling and judging.”

“I feel helpless when my daughter comes to me because I see my baby asking 13 year-old questions and it scares me.”

“I sometimes don’t know what to say to my daughter so I revert to rules.”

“I still wear scars by the things boys said to me in high school”

“I didn’t live what I am teaching and I want more for my daughter but I don’t know what to say.”

“I’m scared of what I see happening to the young girls today.”

“My mom just lectures and I have no one to talk to but my friends.”

Thank you Jesus for a ministry that allows us to come forth with the questions of our heart. Thank you that you see every question and that it is meaningful to you!

How Much Do We Love The Church

In his book, Forgotten God, Francis Chan asks the question, how much do you love the church?

I read this with interest and thought about some things that are really disturbing to me. Recently, my son was called a bible thumper in youth group. It made me laugh, although my son was angry about it, but it was a funny statement coming from within the church. I laughed because it’s true! He is a bible thumper and his questions and study make me smile.

We read the bible at our house and we discuss it and we teach it and we try very hard to live it. Although, yeah, with teenagers we sometimes find ourselves defending and explaining ideals that they often find old-fashioned to our culture today. What was meant as a put-down wasn’t in my eyes because it’s our job to teach the bible to our kids. We love the church that much! Not even because we are pastors either. We loved the church before we were in ministry. We are friends of the groom, called to serve his bride and prepare her for a wedding. This is why I love the picture above so much. The people in the picture are caring for every detail of the bride in preparation!

What happens though when the church doesn’t know she’s getting married? I have a friend who is faithful to her church attendance. Her children are in Sunday School each Sunday. Get beyond the basics of Sunday School and her kids know nothing really about the word of God. They can’t pray cognitively for a meal or for themselves or others. Should not love for the church begin at home? I spoke to this issue with her. What I realized was to raise a bible thumper you really have to believe the bible. You have to know it, you have to read it. A thousand sermons at your left hand and ten thousand at your right, makes you no more an effective witness if you don’t know your word. How can your family stand against the trials of the world if they do not know the word or who the bride is beyond a mere acquaintance? So what is the fruit of our testimony? Is it not in part our children and our life? Does it matter that the people who I call friends and co-workers come to ask me to pray for them but my kids live like hell? How much do I love the church? It shows first in my life. No not one of us is perfect nor do any of us have the perfect family, I certainly don’t. I want to try to do better. I want to love the church so much that television or tiredness or overwork doesn’t cause me to forsake my family. I don’t want to depend on the little songs from childhood Sunday School to get my kids through. I want to be active and engaged in their education. I want them to know that I love God not just with my lips but with my action and my advancement of the kingdom in their lives. I ask what my kids are reading in their bibles, and no it’s not the only thing they read. We discuss viewpoints and my bible thumper has some deep thoughts that you’d never know about unless you ask. Bible study is not just for the pastor’s kids, it’s for everyone who loves the church.