August 26, 2016
What fun to hear from friends from far away! To catch up, get the latest news, and be reminded that the ways our lives intertwined have mattered. Such a joy! Thanks for the calls and notes!!
My daughter starts middle school tomorrow. We've decorated her locker, bought new uniforms, even surprised her with a new backpack. But tonight just before bed, we did another pre-middle school task that is far more important than the others. I gave her a tube of toothpaste and asked her to squirt it out onto a plate. When she finished, I calmly asked her to put all the toothpaste back in the tube. She began exclaiming things like "But I can't!" and "It won't be like it was before!" I quietly waited for her to finish and then said the following: "You will remember this plate of toothpaste for the rest of your life. Your words have the power of life or death. As you go into middle school, you are about to see just how much weight your words carry. You are going to have the opportunity to use your words to hurt, demean, slander and wound others. You are also going to have the opportunity to use your words to heal, encourage, inspire and love others. You will occasionally make the wrong choice; I can think of three times this week I have used my own words carelessly and caused harm. Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can't take them back. Use your words carefully, Breonna. When others are misusing their words, guard your words. Make the choice every morning that life-giving words will come out of your mouth. Decide tonight that you are going to be a life-giver in middle school. Be known for your gentleness and compassion. Use your life to give life to a world that so desperately needs it. You will never, ever regret choosing kindness."
In our increasingly busy lives, maintaining a calm, nurturing home life can be a challenge. Here are some ways to foster the experience of a happy, healthy, holy home life:Blessings.
- Place a small bowl of water on your kitchen table or counter to remember your baptism with a sign of the cross as you come and go.
- Build rituals and traditions that are unique to your family.
- Keep a Bible and devotionals handy so you can look up the Sunday Scripture texts and talk about them together.
- Make a routine for home life that everyone can depend on.
The key to teaching children about family and home life is to model a commitment to it yourself. Graciously welcome and engage children in the tasks and privileges of being part of the family and creating a home life together. Your efforts will leave a lasting legacy.Today’s message was adapted from “Turning Hearts Toward Holy Home” by Miriam “Mim” Campbell that appeared in the June 2009 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.
- Organize kid-friendly home workshops to teach practical skills and plan schedules.
Being “on the streets” as a woman with four children is not an ideal situation.Three times we lost everything in the fourteen months of being homeless. The first huge loss was the eviction. Without a place to put our belongings, I found myself frantically throwing our clothes, toys, supplies and food onto the lawn of our apartment building as our landlord literally boarded up what was our home.
My children were just getting home from school, the last day. As many children were gearing up for swimming and playing all summer mine were watching their entire home being excavated. I gave them each a little bag and told them to pick out what meant the most to them. I packed the minimal amount of clothes and few documents we would need like birth certificates. The rest we had to leave on the lawn. I told myself that I would get it all back for them someday. They may not understand it but we had each other, the rest was replaceable.
One of the hardest nights I remember - it was below zero; snow was falling. It was the heavy sort of snow with minimal wind. I stood looking out the public library’s thick windows into the copper streetlights. It was 7p.m. and I had no idea where we were going. At that moment the only things steady and predictable in my life were the snowflakes falling. My children would be dropped off at any minute from the afterschool program they were attending and I was out of ideas. I couldn’t cry; I couldn’t get mad. All I could do was hand it over to God. Thankfully, the afterschool program did help us get situated that night.
Having been through so much, it was hard for me to trust anyone after a while. Survival instincts were always on alert. The change was apparent in my children and they were learning that not everyone around them was safe. They even had a little hardness about them due to some run-ins with adults.
By time I had heard about Family Promise I was scared to move. The room we had lived in for many months was small but it was there. We had a bed at night. We had food. To risk another move away from what I had come to know at another shelter was fearful. I have one son who, at the time, needed medication due to all of the other issues we faced. It was hard to get him the help he needed. Would this place called Family Promise understand him? What if they kicked us out as well? We had been kicked out so many times from different places we stayed at that it was an actual fear.
The single most compelling thing Family Promise did was restore my trust in humanity.
What I saw through their actions amazed me. The extended hands, the hugs, encouraging words, the late night talks, the early morning coffee at different churches. The love through action is what gained my hope in a world where too often we find our differences and reasons to argue. There are people within our community who want to make a difference.
In three months it will be a year since we moved into our very first house. It is more beautiful than I could have imagined. My children all have their own rooms. I have my own room. We have a back yard and the children can play with their friends safely outside. There are so many things I am thankful for. I had no idea so many times what lie ahead of our family. It was that one step into Family Promise that changed the course of our entire lives.
Our family remembers the love shown and the celebration of having a home again. It’s with deepest gratitude I thank you for all your work. Without Family Promise and the volunteers we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Robin and Four Children
There are many things in life that are important — food, shelter, family, faith, friendships, health, personal fulfillment, and more. Even fun is an important part of life; without a little fun, we quickly grow tired of life.
God, there are many good and important things in my life; but help me remember today what is most important. Help me remember where my treasure and my heart should be. Amen.
When people think of leaders, the top four characteristics identified by at least 60 percent or more of those surveyed are honesty (85 percent); forward looking (70 percent); inspiration (69 percent); and competency (64 percent).