Monday, August 27, 2012

Family Feuding and Taxes


I was just thinking...about politics...

Last night we had a couple of friends over who have two kids and all evening all of the kids…from the oldest of the bunch who was 12…down to Tori who is 4…played and played and played together with very few dramatic incidents. My husband noted at the end of the night how cool it is that whenever there are kids around, that everyone is always happy to play with Tori, even tho' she's "the baby". I thought that's probably because our kids all like her and like to play with her, so, it just makes everyone like her, too. 

Our kids all like her which makes family life run much more smoothly. Makes sense, doesn't it? If the kids resented her or found her irritating it would cause trouble within the family and when others became involved.

Recently I've been thinking about the "imbalance" that we have in our household. I was raised in a household with only 2 kids who were 6 years apart…a household with a very capable mother. She could easily do it all herself... and so she did. So, now I am the mother of a household with 8 children and I was "trained" that the mom does all the work...but in a household of 10 it's not so easy to "do it all" and I've recently realized that it's hard for me to imagine how a household like this is "supposed" to run. 

If I would never blog, make photo books on Shutterfly, or look at Facebook I would actually have plenty of time to do it all myself. But, I don't only do housework from sunrise to sunset, so, a lot of things don't get done. And, I've struggled to figure out how to work that. 

It's finally hit me about how the family needs to "work as a team" in order to be successful and "win" in life just like in a game. And, so everyone needs to play a part. Even the littlest. 

Imagine if I identified who the most "capable" of my kids are and put ALL the housework…on them. And, even made them serve the younger less capable kids. What if I made it that I would expect my older and more capable kids to give me a huge portion of their free time to clean the house and do laundry for me AND clean up the littlest kid's toys all the time. And, then…basically…since the littlest one is only 4 I would not expect her to do ANYTHING. Not even pick up her own toys.

Questions about running a household this way...
Would you think this would be a good idea for my family?
Would you expect this to work well for my kids?
Would you expect this to help my kids get along or not?
Would this be a "team" effort? 
Could this possibly cause resentment between the children? 
What types of attitudes or qualities might this type of system produce in my youngest? What would she learn to expect from "life"?
Would you consider it fair for Tori to not be expected to contribute anything to the well-being of the household? Not even pick up her own toys?

Here's another thought…
What if my littlest one were not only 4 but say she was also handicapped. Say she was in a wheelchair and…couldn't move around the easiest. Would you think it would still be a good idea for her to NEVER have to contribute to the household? 
Do you think that would make her feel good and happy with herself?

I was thinking about this and really, when we "don't expect anything" from someone…aren't we really saying, "you're basically not good for anything…not capable of doing anything useful to me so…I don't want anything from you."

And, that doesn't make anyone feel good!

You can tell we all DO have this innate desire to contribute because of how little kids are...always...wanting to help! They wanna help mom cook! They wanna just be included and be part of things and help. And, from my experience I see that kids who live in households where their contributions are actually "needed"...those kids are really really happy.

And, this isn't just in the family situation that this is so...it's this way in so many instances, our contributions to a larger "entity" and our service is something that brings us joy. Like, you're invited to a picnic…don't you feel happier showing up with something to "contribute?" Don't you feel more like you "belong" in that group when they ask you to help and allow you to contribute?

Or, if you're on a sports team…if they never "expected" anything of you and never put you in the game…you could sit there week after week with that team jersey on at the games but would you ever really feel like you were "part of that team?" Would it bring you camaraderie with your teammates? Would you be able to really even be excited about your team winning if you'd never done anything to help that happen? And, isn't it a huge insult by the coach if he never puts you in and "expects" anything of you? Wouldn't it even make it hard for you to be happy for your team if they won if they never included you? Wouldn't it almost make you jealous and angry toward the players that got to contribute?

No one likes being treated like they're useless. No one likes being treated like they have nothing to offer.

And, so getting back to a family…a family functions best and is happiest when everyone has the opportunity to contribute. Even my littlest one…she loves to go get the mail and bring it in! She loves opening the mail box and carrying in the mail and is so proud of herself when she does it. She beams. She's so proud of herself that she can bring in the mail! And, the cool thing that happens also is...not only that but the other kids are proud of her when they see her doing it. Is it much of a job? No. But, according to her ability she is doing her part to contribute to the household...and it brings the whole family closer together.

That's how that works in a small world...in one household...in a family. How about the larger world? How about the household of the USA?

No one likes to be considered useless. 

No one likes to be "on a team" with useless people.

I feel like the gov't system in the US is like a married couple. The Democrats are more like the tender-hearted mom who can't bear to see the kids suffer and the Republicans are more like the practical dad who is worried about discipline and bringing home the bacon! And, together they really should be working together to have a happy balanced "family" but instead keeping each other's strengths and weaknesses in check. BUT…all they do is bicker and fight and threaten divorce and have played the game of dividing "the kids" (general public) against one other.

So, we have a variety of "kids" in the US. We have a boatload of "average" kids...and on either end of the scale we have the "overachievers" (highly capable) and the "underachievers" (the poor). And...what our "parents" (government) has done is they've decided to run our "household" by putting ALL the responsibility on the "capable" (the rich) and expecting NOTHING of the poor.

And, how is this working for us so far?
Are we a happy healthy country?
We're overweight...sickly...aborting...and having homes foreclosed on everywhere...
Hmmm...if my family was having such symptoms, I might be inclined to think I am not doing something right!

But, what the gov't does is tries to do MORE OF THE SAME...and see if that fixes things. But, we're getting fatter...sicker...aborting more...and the economy isn't getting better...I think lab rats are smarter than humans most of the time!!!

On the one side we have the highly "capable" successful businesses who the government is expecting to carry everyone's load…just because they're more capable than "the poor". So we tax them and get all mad if the gov't ever wants to do anything to "give them any breaks". Right?

And, we expect nothing of the poor. Their tax rate = 0%. But, is that really honoring them? Is that making them feel part of the "American Family?" Or, it is more like denying them even the opportunity to "get the mail and bring it in" for us? Is telling the poor they have nothing to contribute really helping them and making their lives better? 

And, in giving the poor no way to contribute...the more "capable" children who are contributing never get to have that feeling my older kids get when they see my little one happily bringing in the mail.

When a family is unhappy…it's more likely that the members will hurt and neglect one another.

When a family is happy…it's more likely that the members will care for, help, serve, and protect one another.

So, we can keep up the division…the fighting…the name calling. We can keep all the "kids" in this family (USA) fighting between Democrats (mom) and Republicans (dad)…we can make all the "kids" choose between mom and dad (we know how healthy that works in a real family, right!) and we can keep insisting that the "capable" pay more and more and do it all and we can continue expecting nothing of the "poor" and guess what? It's not going to fix the problem! It's actually helping make the problem worse!

If I made my oldest take care of 100% of the household chores...it would not make a happy family. It would not make my oldest care for my youngest more. SO...Even if we taxed the rich at 100% and had some outrageous overflow of cash and no national debt and all the rich were slaves to their workers…GUESS WHAT? As long as we're divided and have no actual care or concern for one other...the problems will not go away!!!

The key to happiness in the US...which really is what everyone's striving for...is not free health care…it's not making sure it stays legal that women can kill their unwanted offspring…it's not making sure that the poor get free stuff and the rich get to keep less stuff and get taxed more…it's getting neighbors to care about one another. And, constantly pitting neighbor against neighbor based on income and political affiliation isn't getting that job done and never will…

So much more could be said about the parallels between family life and politics play out...

We could also talk about how the cultural habits of ignoring the cries of the weakest in the family could play into the politics of how we treat the poor...

We could talk about how the cultural habit of using force and pain to control the weakest in the family play into the politics of how we treat the poor...

Or...I could go do something else besides sit here and type...



Saturday, August 18, 2012

I'm a little teacup judging loud!

So, I was at Disney yesterday...and learned a few lessons...about me...and one...I just have to mention...

It was close to 11pm...I had been scorched by 100ยบ weather, rained on, tidal-waved by "Splash Mountain", peed on, and we're heading past the teacup ride...whatever it's actually called I forget...and my grouchy-been-crying-all-day 6-year old and my waaaay tired 4-year old light up and want to ride. Fine. It's only a 5 minute wait. So, we get in line.

They sorta' herd the "right amount of people" into this gated area and that's the people who go in each time there's a turn. When the gates open for the next group to go in and get on the cups we managed to be last going in and I'm not very aggressive/pushy so by the time we made it to the other side of the ride-area all the tea cups were "full". Full...as in there were like 2 people in each cup. I was finding it very annoying and rude that people were "hogging the cups" like that...but...I walked with the girls back to the holding area to wait for the next round.

The attendant sees me coming back and approaches the nearest cups with just 2 in each where it's obviously a group of four. I can see him talking to them and he turns and walks away and said, "You'll have to wait for the next round."

"Wow!" I thought. If that wasn't the epitome of rudeness!
(Isn't epitome a weird-looking word!?)

So, I stood there and commented to the lady standing next to me about how rude those people are. She looked at the mom in 1 cup with 1 kid and the dad in the other cup with 1 cup...with them smiling and waving at each other and she jumped on my bandwagon with me, "Yeah! Some people!"

So rude!

So, I smugly stood there in my un-rude self-righteousness and watched the tea cups go round and round. I thought, "I oughta' take a picture of them and post it on fb and maybe someone would know them and I could shame these rude people!"

THEN...I see it.

The dad...was in a cup with a boy of about 5 years old and they...were spinning like mad! Like Mad Hatters in tea cups! And, the mom...was holding...a 1-year old. Not spinning. Just sitting, holding, adoring, and smiling. One of the few few rides one can get on with a 1 year old at Disney.

Hmmm.

"Judge not lest you be judged!"
"Get that log out of your own eye before you worry about that other guy's splinter!"
"Let he who has no sin cast the first stone."

Jesus really shoulda' said something like that in the Bible so I'd know better than to act like that, huh?

Yeah.

Well, the message did hit me right away and I felt ashamed and stupid for my rash judgment of these people...and I even said something to the lady who had joined my bandwagon and she too was like, "ohhhhh..." Yeah.

I have had this lesson probably a quarter of a thousand times. (People don't say that. Isn't that funny? 25 is a quarter of 100 when talking money...250k is a quarter of a million...but...we don't say quarter of a thousand. Probably too much math. ;)) But, I have had that lesson at least that many times. So, I'm SURE that this time that lesson stuck, right?

30 seconds later the ride is over and I hear the lady who was on my bandwagon with me fussing with her husband about one of the kids. She gruffly says, "I'm just tired of this! He's not riding this! Take him out to the entrance!" and then the son is taken away protesting and crying with his dad while mom gets on the ride with the daughter. And, I thought, "Hmph...what is her problem? It's 11pm for Pete's sake give the kid a break! I bet she spanks her kids, too..." and on it went for a few seconds in my mind thinking about how rotten of a mom this lady was...

Hmmmm.

Guess I will need another quarter of a thousand lessons on not judging till I finally get it mastered...

:(




Thursday, August 2, 2012

Persecuted for Christ


All the fuss about Chick-fil-A has me thinking a lot this week about Christians...

A popular urban legend for Christians to say, "Oooh wow!!" over is that story of the people meeting somewhere in a barn for church…and some soldiers come in and threaten to kill anyone who stands up for Jesus and allows people who wanna leave to leave. Some leave and the soldiers shoot into the air so those who left will think all inside have perished...and then announce to this amazing congregation that they are Christians, too, and needed to be sure they were with SINCERE believers before they joined them.

Great story…and most people who post/retell/share this story would of course, picture themselves as one of those amazing faithful who would take a bullet for Jesus.

Really?

I don't have statistics on this, obviously, but I would be willing to wager most of my life's savings that MOST of the people who think they would take a bullet for Jesus…won't even drive the speed limit. (Romans 13:1

And, I'd bet that a lot of those who believe they'd take a bullet to stand up for Jesus won't stand up for Him in other small daily things...like...I just bet a lot of them...
…cheat on their taxes (Matthew 22:16-18)
…text while driving (Philippians 2:2-4)
…gossip (Proverbs 20:18-20)
…disrespect their spouses (Ephesians 5:24-26)
…are overweight (Proverbs 23:20-22)
…are covetous (shopaholics!)
…and so forth.

So, they think they'll take a bullet for Jesus…but they won't control their own eating or spending or their mouth. 

This is what the dictionary defines as hypocrisy.

Yep. And, the world sees it. 

This last week it's been all about Chick-fil-A. The "left" crying, "hate!" and the right almost cheering, "Yay! We're being persecuted for Christ!" But…what's really going on?

My opinion is that the left is smelling a rat. Smelling a hypocrite. The log in the church's high-divorce-rate eye is so huge they can't see past it but they manage to find time to fuss at the gay splinter-in-the-gay-marriage-eye. 

There is a t-shirt I saw once:
"Preach the gospel always…and when necessary…use words."

I have since then often thought that it would be a blessing to God if the church were struck mute. It's not the barn and bullet situation that's a true test in 2012 of who Christ's TRUE followers are…it would be who would still be identifiable as a Christian if they were not able to speak and preach (or in these days type!) Who would LIVE in such a way that people would see them "shining a light before men?" 'Cause guess what? The BIBLE says that if we shine our light…then people will what? 

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

God says that if we live a certain way…our works will SHINE…and the world will glorify God. 

God doesn't say, "use words to say you stand up for what's written in the Bible and you can rejoice when you really make the world mad at you."

No.

In fact…if you look in the Bible…WHO hated Jesus?

Did the promiscuous hate Jesus?
Did the prostitutes hate Him?
Did the liars hate Jesus?
Did the cheats hate Him?
Did the total losers hate Him?
No…those people loved Him. They flocked to Him, felt free to touch Him, and hung out with Him.

Who hated Him while He was on the earth living a life that attracted sinners to Him? And, who hated Him FOR hanging with sinners?


The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Matthew 11:18-20


The church people of that day hated Jesus.
The people who thought they were in the "in" crowd hated Jesus.
The people who thought they were going to heaven hated Jesus.
The people who thought they were righteous and knew their scripture hated Jesus. 

"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

Jesus said He was the perfect representation of how God IS. (John 14:6-8) Jesus hung with the "liberals". Jesus hung with the "leftists". Jesus…hung with the equivalent of the "Obama supporters!" (and all the other groups I see mocking fb posts by Christians about!) Those types were drawn to Jesus and felt safe and welcomed by Him. He didn't condemn them. He didn't mock them. He didn't get in their faces and tell them they were going to HELL! (Matthew 7:1-3)

His harshest words, in fact, were aimed at...who?

"But when He saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, He said to them, "you brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Matthew 3:6-8

"You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." Matthew 12:33-35

That is the example Jesus left us as our example as to how to live.

So…to follow Jesus' example…which is what makes a person actually a Chrisitan…that would mean we'd need to live a life that draws in and welcomes those we look at as "sinners". Does that characterize your life? 

To follow Jesus' example that would mean we'd share meals and hang out with and be friends with people…on the "left"! To follow Jesus' example it means we'd hang out with…"the liberals"!!! Following Jesus' example means those people would feel safe and welcomed by us. It means they'd like spending time with us. It means we'd respect them and they'd respect us! And...it means…that the church…would see us hanging with these people and question our Christianity (Matthew 11:18-20). Following Jesus' example means that the people on earth who would persecute us would not be the liberals, the gays, the pro-choicers, the leftists...but would be the "2012 Pharisees"…

So…who do you attract?
Who approves of you?
Who do you spend the majority of your time with?
Do you post mocking statuses about "liberals" and "lefties"?
Does everyone in the church just think you're awesome and totally approve of everything and every way you're living? 

Could it be that the "left" starts name calling and accusing the "right" when something like this Chick-fil-A thing happens not because we're "being persecuted" but...maybe because...

"...for in the way you judge...you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."

And, maybe it would do the church well to take heed of the rest of that admonition by Jesus and...

"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite!!! First!!! Take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

Maybe if the church did that...and followed Jesus' example...we'd actually start to shine!? 

Something worth thinking about...








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