Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The hand that rocks the cradle really does rule the world...

I was just thinking...

Do you know who is the most powerful person on the planet?

It's not the President of the USA…and it's definitely not a man. 

It's a nursing mom. Yep.

Look at any newborn baby…the way the mother of that baby treats him will determine if that baby will grow up to become…
…nice or mean...
…happy or depressed…
…angry or contented…
…a rapist or a dedicated husband...
…a serial killer or a philanthropist…

The way that mother treats that baby will essentially determine how that person will end up treating others and the earth…

Quite literally…"the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." And, even the President of the US doesn't have that power.

Look at it this way…

World War 2…estimated death tolls appear to be between 62-78 million people. Military and civilians dead. There was a madman on the loose and all the powers of so many mighty men on earth were unleashed to fight! There were armies from how many countries? How many presidents were involved? There were troops upon troops of young, strong, healthy, armed men! There were warships on the sea and in the air. Bombs! Heavy artillery. So much power…which resulted…in the deaths of 22-25 million military personnel and how many million civilians (Jews and others) were killed before one madman could be stopped?

All that might. 
All those mighty men. 
All that power. 
All that death. 

And, reality is that all that was needed to stop that madman was one woman. 

From "The Natural Child Project" in an article entitled, "The Critical Importance of Mothering" by Dr. Elliott Barker:

"Evidence exists that psychopaths are created early in childhood. An article entitled "How to Succeed in the Business of Creating Psychopaths Without Even Trying" chronicles the kinds of multiple disruptions in infancy and toddlerhood that are associated with later psychopathy."
"Inadequate nurturing tends to have different consequences depending on the developmental stage in which it occurs. When nurturing of the child is not adequate in the first three years, what is at risk is the development of psychopathic traits; and when nurturing is inadequate after the first three years, what is at risk is the development of neurotic traits. Whereas psychopathic individuals create difficulties for other people, neurotic individuals create difficulties for themselves. They are prone to excessive worries, phobias, depression, and so on."

(Full article: http://www.naturalchild.org/elliott_barker/mothering.html)

Hitler's mom had the power over him to treat him in such a way to wire his brain to be empathic and non-violent…or not. She had the power over him to raise him gently and teach him respect for himself and for others…or not. One woman had that power and could have stopped WWII from ever even happening. 

That is power. 

And, that is power available to every woman on the planet equally. Black. White. Beige. You name it. We all have that same power. All Hitler's mom had to do was cuddle, rock, be responsive to, nurse, and love her baby. That's not even hard work and requires no "education" as we woman just "know" these things instinctually…and men don't. Just hand a newborn to a man and watch him stand still like a statue :) and you can see that men are not built to care for babies…

Hand the same baby even to a teenage girl and immediately she'll start moving…women instinctively know because this is our strength…

There's a lot of "controversy" surrounding a certain buncha' verses in the Bible. Check it out:

1 Peter…says that Jesus was right in every way and "submitted" to death on the cross and that women…not men…are to follow His example.

Does this mean that women like Margaret Thatcher are wrong because women shouldn't lead? I don't think so. But, just like a stay-at-home dad can learn to bounce a baby…he's really best suited for cutting down trees and taking down big game to drag home and eat…because his body is build for physical strength so a man's "power" is limited when he's lifting a 10 pound baby and sitting in a house…I think it means that Margaret Thatcher's "power" is "limited" or not at it's strongest when she's in that role as well… 

What do I mean? Well, what makes a woman "powerful"? Well, by definition power-full would mean full of power. What does power look like?  

Jesus, for example, came to earth to wage a battle bigger and badder than WWII. He came to fight sin/satan/death. He could have chosen any weapon in the universe. He's the almighty. The all-powerful, right? All power was at His disposal. So, what'd He use? Did He rally war generals and huge out-of-this-world weaponry? Nope. Did He choose force in any way? Anything that we think of as "powerful" to defeat the world's most powerful enemy? No. He chose the weapon that God endowed moms with. The most powerful weapon in the universe that Jesus used to kick satan's butt and the power of death right off the planet is the weapon that God did not give to men…but to women. And, it is submission. Service. Self-sacrifice. 

And, so then if you think about the last century in the Westernized world…the best way to defeat an armed enemy is to…disarm them, right? There is a force in the universe which fears the power that women have and so we have been…disarmed. Women now look at "submission" as a dirty word that equals the polar opposite of what it actually is: weakness. We've bought the lie that to be awesome, strong, independent women of the 21st century we have to put down our weapon…and do our best to…be like men…and put the shame of being a "housewife" behind us and get a real job!! 

"Eew. Housewife. Stay-at-home mom. So not prestigious! So…so…meaningless. Like, what a waste of a woman's life to skip college and the career and just take care of her kids and cook and clean. What a sell-out. So lazy! Disgusting!"

But, look at the last century. Right around WWII women up and went to work, right? Now we were "liberated". Did that effect our country at all? What do you notice about the culture in the US? It's becoming more and more…what? Happy? Content? Healthy?

No. The US is not just violent it's increasing in violence. We're angry. We're ADD. We're OCD. We're depressed. Drug dependent. Addicted. Divorced. Obese.

Coincidence? You want to say it's coincidence and unrelated? That makes no sense...

I read somewhere that the US has more people in jail than some countries even have people and that like most of the incarcerated people in the entire world…are incarcerated in the USA. 

The biggest change in the 1900's was women left home and went to work and started looking at caring for their homes with disdain and restlessness…and got the "freedom" to kill their own offspring…

I don't see that as coincidence!

This is how much we matter.

This is how much what we do as women effects history.

When we put down our weapon the enemy wins. 

And, I am really shocked at how many Christian women have bought the lie.

With Hitler we can look back and wonder, "What if?" What if his mom had worn him in a sling and slept with him and nursed him till he was 3…what if in that household instead of an iron fist and daily "spankings/smackings" what if little Adolph had been treated with love and respect, gentleness and kindness? That would have ended a war before it started. That one woman would have saved 70+ million lives. That…is not meaningless. That is not lame. That would not have been a waste of that woman's life. 

(And, since I don't think Hitler's mom had a job outside the house…it's notable that it not only matters if mom is in the house…it matters what she does while she is there…and for a very enlightening perspective of what led to the 3rd Reich read, "For Your Own Good" by Alice Miller)

So, something cool to think about is…ya have to wonder how many "Hitler's" are currently squalling infants at this moment…but…they are snuggled in a sling…sleeping with mom…getting' boobie…and being treated with gentleness and kindness? How many little Adolphs will never become a madman because of the loving dedication of his mother? And, we will never know these women's names, yet, they are the most important and powerful women in the world today...

It's women like that…woman in the UK, for example, who won't be having movies made of their lives because they're not Prime Ministers…but it's women like "The Mule" who have chosen to push the "pause button" on her life outside her home in order to care for her children who are the truly powerful ones…changing and even ending wars that history will never know about...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Neurons wire together when they fire together"

I was just thinking…about wiring…

I have been listening to an audio book by Daniel Siegal called, "The Neurobiology of 'We': How Relationships, the Mind, and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are". And, as I was listening he mentioned something that "struck me". He mentioned that "neurons that fire together wire together. It immediately made me think of things we do as parents to our kids that we should and should not be making to "fire together". So, I looked it up…

Turns out there is something called the "Hebbian Theory". It explains that, ""The general idea is an old one, that any two cells or systems of cells that are repeatedly active at the same time will tend to become 'associated', so that activity in one facilitates activity in the other." (Hebb 1949, p. 70)
"When one cell repeatedly assists in firing another, the axon of the first cell develops synaptic knobs (or enlarges them if they already exist) in contact with the soma of the second cell." (Hebb 1949, p. 63)"  

Interesting, isn't that? We sort of understand this in the concept of practice makes perfect. When we do something enough all the right things in our brains fire together better and better...

God said that if we "raise our kids up right in the way they should go when they're old they won't depart from it" right? Well, this means that it's not "by magic" or by some mystical spiritual something-er-other that this happens…God could say that 'cause He designed our brains to work that way. He made it so that when "neurons fire together they wire together." Biologically, our kids will not depart from how we raise them.

So often parents wonder what's the "right way" to raise their kids. They "argue" about whether "this" technique is right or wrong…and then out come the Bible verse swords and the battles begin. Well, this biological function of the human brain, designed by God, according to Romans 1, just gives us this easy way to figure out what's right and wrong!

All you have to do is look at whatever you do with your kids and ask yourself "what am I wiring together in my child's brain right now?"

For example: Love.

God IS love. And, what do we know about love?
Love is…patient, kind, is not jealous, doesn't brag, isn't arrogant, isn't provoked, doesn't take into account a wrong suffered, rejoices with truth and righteousness, does not seek its own, never fails. Nowhere in this list do we see anything "negative" about love as we see in the world of music, do we? Songs like, "Love Bites" express that most of the world sees "Love" as a painful thing. We use roses to symbolize love…a flower with a thorn…a dangerous but beautiful flower is what we represent love with. But, love is the safest thing that heals everything. "Love covers a multitude of sins." Love fixes everything…because God IS love. 

So, when it comes to the controversial topic of "spanking"…what do we learn from the fact that God designed our brains that the neurons that fire together wire together? Is spanking "God's way" or not?

What is spanking? It is when the parent causes the child to feel pain in a controlled way in order to deter them from something the parent determines to be an undesirable behavior. Parents who use spanking say that this form of pain-infliction is our God-given obligation to raise moral people, is not wrong, and is not abuse because it is done "in love". Never in anger. Only "in love".

That sounds great. But, remembering that God designed the brain…and that "everything about God is knowable thru the things He's made"…and God made the human brain to wire neurons together that commonly fire together…what is happening when you inflict pain on your child and tell you you love them at the same time? What is happening when you tell your child you are causing them to feel pain because you love them? Here is where the truth is not hidden behind verse interpretations. Here is where the evidence speaks. If neurons that fire together wire together then...when you inflict pain on your child "in love"...very simply you are causing "love" and "pain" to fire together…therefore…you are wiring "love and pain" in their brains.

God IS love. 
So, what you are wiring together in your child's brain is that God and pain go together.

Also, all of us instinctively fear pain. 
So, when we inflict pain on our kids "in love" we cause "love" and "pain" and "fear" to fire together.

And, not only that, but when we tell our kids that "this will hurt me more than it hurts you…"…when we tell our kids that it hurts us to hurt them, but that we are obliged to hurt them because we love them…we wire "being loved" with "being hurt"...and we also wire "loving" with "inflicting pain". 

Is this…what you want to do? 
Is this an accurate representation of God?

Could this be an explanation for why we have men abusing wives…and wives who don't leave them? 

And, what about the core of the Gospel: "forgiveness"?

We all know that Jesus said that we're supposed to forgive someone who "sins against us" 70x7 times, right? We know we're not supposed to "seek our own revenge." AND, that God forgives us the same way we forgive others. James tells us that when we do something wrong and come to God with it that God will cleanse us and forgive us (bathing is relaxing and pleasurable). This is a significant principle to teach our children. So, how do we teach it?

When our children err…in any way whether purposeful or not…what does our reaction "wire together" for them in their brains? Do we wire "sinning" with "forgiveness"? Or, do we wire, "sinning" with "punishment"?

And, when we raise our children up wiring "sinning" with "punishment"…how do they then go out into life and have the ability to forgive others who they feel have not been punished? If they can only "be at peace" with offenders once they have been "brought to justice" or made amends somehow...is it truly "forgiveness" if someone has to be "punished"? 

If the bank called you and said that once you paid your mortgage in full that they would forgive you the debt, would that make any sense?

For Christian parents…we want to always point them toward God…and to accurately demonstrate God to them so that the right things fire and wire together, right? But, if we raise them in such a way that they have "sinning" and "punishment" wired together…their story could go a little like this one...

Matthew 33...

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt."
Wow…Sounds an awful lot like us, doesn't it? We owed the King of the universe a "huge debt" we couldn't  repay…and He forgave us and sent us on our way…
"But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii;"
Hmm…kinda' like how our kids offend us and "sin against" us every day…so what did this forgiven person do to the person who owed him? 
"…and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed."
So, the forgiven person…insisted on making the other person "pay" what they owed…insisted the other person be "punished"…I wonder what the king thought of that?
"So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened."
You know, there was so much praise on Facebook for the man who shot his daughter's computer…Christians who not only punish and spank their own kids but thought that this dad was doing a great job…but…what does this story say that the king felt about the forgiven slave's unforgiveness?
"Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."

If we want to wire our kids brains to know God…and to understand that there is no fear in love…and how to forgive others...then we have to make sure that none of our "love" comes to them with "fear" or "pain" attached to it and that they do not have "making mistakes" or "offending others" wired together with retribution/payment or punishment. That means that when they "sin" against us…we have to find ways to correct them that do not involve fear and pain. Our discipling of them (the way we discipline them) needs to wire them for forgiveness. Fear, pain, and punishment must never be linked to or firing with our love…so if our kids feel fear or pain because of anything we're doing or not doing (like even a baby crying alone in a crib in another room feels fear…and pain) we need to stop…And, if our kids do wrong they need to feel forgiven by us without "beating themselves up"...or having to suffer for it. Forgiveness was a gift from God...we didn't pay for it...

Watch yourself though out your day...and ask what you're connecting in your child's brain...don't let your parenting be "unevenly yoked"...when you love your child...love your child...don't scare them...or hurt them...don't make them pay...so that they will know what love (who God) truly is... ;)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Do you parent like a Pharisee?

I think for the most part, Christians believe that the Pharisees missed the boat. Right? They had God right there with them and they missed Him. Not only missed Him they hated Him and killed Him!!! They see the ways of the Pharisees as superficial and short-sighted because they believed that they could "do" things to get them a relationship with God.

Over and over you see it on comment threads about "religion"...Christians defending Christianity as a relationship...not a "religion" (set of rules). But, at the same time, although most Christians would believe that being a Pharisee is not the way to righteousness...for some reason, the tendency is to parent like one.

How do I mean?

There are a lot of different parenting books out there by lotsa' different people...but there are really only two (in my view) basic philosophies (with lots of different ways to act them out). 

One philosophy of parenting is about controlling kids. Controlling, scheduling, structuring, laying down the law, punishing and being "in charge" of your kids. 

And, the other philosophy of parenting is more about "knowing" kids. It's about interacting, experiencing, responding, guiding, and enjoying kids.

Law means: the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people; any written or positive rule or collection of rules; the controlling influence of such rules; a system or collection of such rules.

The first philosophy of parenting could be called, "Law Based".

Grace means: elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion or action; pleasing or attractive quality; favor or goodwill; manifestation of favor especially by a superior; mercy; clemency; pardon...

The second philosophy could be called, "Grace Based".

But, you might notice that almost all Christian parenting books focus on rules and punishment...they're all "law based", and they call parenting without rules and punishments, "permissive". 

Well...there's the trusty stand-by, "You'll know them by their fruits". Let's see some fruits of the two philosophies...
James 2:10
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

This is why if you're going to run a law-based household, you'd better not make a mistake. You'd better be 100% consistent or else...

Kids notice that we keep them out too late one night so you can go to your small group...but punish them the next night for not being in bed on time. Kids notice that we punish them for breaking our laws, but, we completely disregard speed limit signs until we see a cop. Kids notice that we love talking spiritual in our small groups and we seem to love reading our Bibles (in which Jesus says to pay taxes) but the notice Dad took a job under the table for a while last summer...Kids notice that when we're at home we act one way and act another at church. Kids notice that we hit them for hitting. Kids notice that we force them to face someone and say, "I'm sorry" but when we hurt their feelings or offend them we don't seem to find apologies so important. 

Kids notice all this kind of stuff and it's called hypocrisy and it makes them mad. And, if you've raised them in a law-based household...they expect that when someone does wrong they should be punished...and they don't see you being punished. It's all hypocritical and all unfair. And, if they're not allowed to tell us how they're feeling, if they're not free to express this then...to vent their anger...they listen to angry music. They play violent video games. And, when they start to "act out" in real life to vent  their anger and frustration…we call it "teenage rebellion." And, in response to them reacting to our law-based parenting and hypocrisy in this way...we…amplify that which pushed them to be so angry in the 1st place and we give them more rules, more law, more disapproval, and we punish them more. We attempt to cage them. And, all it does is make them angrier and want to get as far away from us as possible. 

Law-based parenting is so common we have come to mistake it's fruit (rebellious unhappy teens) for being "normal". 

Galatians 5:4
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Modern Christian parents need to comprehend what it means that we are no longer under the law of Moses. The movement out there which is against "spanking" and what you see as "permissiveness" is no more permissive than God dying for your sins. It's grace-based parenting and the fruit of that is not rebellious teens. But, law-based parents see this grace the same way the Pharisees saw Jesus! "Of the devil!!!"

The Pharisees hated Jesus and Christians. They loved the law. They loved the rules and how "righteous" it made them appear and feel. You can parent like a Pharisee if you want but it won't raise up godly kids any more than the blood of bulls and sheep could take away the sin of Israel. It was for freedom that Christ set us free. If you choose to run a grace-based household rather than a law-based one, you will see that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Not liberty TO sin (as law-based parents believe) but freedom from sin. And, he who the Lord has set free shall be free indeed!

So, I guess ya have to ask yourself...in your relationship with your own kids, what is your focus? Do you believe that your kids will grow up godly if they are obedient to your rules their whole childhood lives? Or, is your main focus in every aspect of your parenting the relationship? Do you parent how you preach that Christianity is not a religion (set of rules) but that it's a relationship? If you parent like a Pharisee but preach like a Christian...are you like the man who looks at his natural face in the mirror but when he walks away immediately forgets what he looks like? (James)

I'd say it's at least something worth thinking about...

A couplea' rowdy rebellious teens...haha...not hardly :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How do we fall in love?

Think about the times you've truly been IN LOVE

When in love…do you want to…disrespect that person? Do you want to hurt that person? Do you want to "rebel" against that person? NO! When you're "in love" you just want to do everything pleasing for that person. You delight in their presence. You want them to be happy with life and with you and everything you do!

To get you to be "in love" with them…what did they do?

Hit you?
Hurt you?
Scold you?
Scowled at you?
Grumbled and complained about you?
Manipulated you?
Deprived you of things?
Ignored you?
Isolated you?
Spent time with you on a schedule?
Let you know THEY were boss?
Purposely denied you things you requested so that you'd never doubt they were in charge?



To make you fall in love…they…

Put you first in everything…
Did stuff they didn't want to do sometimes just cause you did...
Were available any time you'd call...
Gave you gifts just to see you smile…
Spent time with you…
Deprived themselves of things to spend time with you...
Shared their heart with you…
Accepted you no matter how you were or how you looked…
Encouraged you…
Forgave you when you wronged them...


Christian parents think that…the first list of things is how to make our kids "fall in love with Jesus."

I don't know why they think that. And, it frustrates and saddens me.


(I believe the thing that women needed "liberated" from back when Women's Lib started was we had men who were treating us the same way they were raise up by their parents...when women were the ones on the receiving end of that kind of treatment we could see how offensive and horrid it is to treat people who are smaller and weaker than you with that much disrespect...Unfortunately, rather than identify this behavior in men as something instilled in them by how parents trained them up and for women to change the way they parented their kids to fix the problem, they instead thought that it would help to go to work. I guess they had the same reaction that most kids who "can't wait to get out of the house" do...sad...)

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