Spanking in Pulic School? Sign Me Up!

Hallelujah! A Texas high school, recently under fire for allegedly aggressively spanking a sophomore, should be praised in my opinion. Why, you ask? Why would a mother in the 21st century approve of spanking, or paddling, students?

Because when used appropriately, corporal punishment is very effective. I myself was paddled once. I was in the fifth grade and was wrongly punished. The paddling itself didn’t hurt, and I wasn’t embarrassed so badly that it scarred me for life. The true punishment happened about thirty minutes later when my Daddy got to my school and gave me his own version, which was a lot worse.

I’m not helping my case, am I? That may be your opinion. But it isn’t mine. Although I didn’t deserve punishment for that “offense,” I do see the value in paddling. There is a level of embarrassment involved, and sometimes offenses are so wrong that a detention isn’t enough.

However, I just believe in corporal punishment in general. Time-outs and groundings may not work. But a spanking does. There was wording in the televised interview, though, that muddied the waters. The mother of this girl agreed to let the school paddle her, and then called it “hitting” because a man administered the spanking and she had “welts.”

Um, excuse me, but I have some of those myself, and this girl was moving too quickly and well, and sat down too easily, to have been “hit.”

Overall, I am just relieved that in some  places across this country, public schools have adopted the tradition of some private schools with corporal punishment. Good job!

Creative Kids

My oldest is imaginative and playful, to the consternation of former teachers at times, and yet I find it absolutely adorable. And smart. He is in a world of his own a lot. I was like that as a kid. I could snap out of it, a lot faster than he does,  but I loved the world of books and nature and imagination I lived in.

I got my oldest a Superman costume  for Halloween when he was about two years old. And he wore that costume all the time. As soon as he got home from pre-school he made me put it on him.

One day we had to go to the grocery store. It was a Saturday and I had let him  sleep in it overnight. Remember, moms – pick your battles!! Anyway, when it was time to get his play clothes on, he balked. And balked. It was WAR.

Finally, I decided that it wasn’t like he was going to the Rose Garden. It was Kroger. However, I was totally mortified. The entire time we were in the store I was embarrassed. A lot of people commented on  how cute he looked, and the moms understood that even though it was January, sometimes you just can’t get a kid out of a favored costume.

He has always loved costumes. Last year he was Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. Yeah; he wore that into the spring. Sometimes he’s talking and I can’t understand a word of it; he’s all inside his head, making up stories. But they are funny and wonderful.

Don Henley wrote a song called Annabel and here are some the of lyrics:

“But you got my hard head

And your mother’s grace

All the likeness of your loved ones right there in your face

And I know in the end you’ll be who you will be.”

Everyone seems to want a piece of my oldest child. Some of his family, his teachers at times – but I always remind myself that he’s got some of his Mama in him, and the best of his father, but mostly he’ll be who he ends up, and that’s just fine. In fact, it’s perfect.

The Path Seems so Steep – The Road, so Long…

About six years ago something wonderful, miraculous, dangerous, and difficult happened. My son was about five months old and I realized my life needed to change if I was going to be a good mother.

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Change is dangerous! But SO worth it!

It was wonderful because my Christian mentor, and my dear family member, recognized how lost I was and offered me a way out. It was miraculous because it took my first child to see that I could be better, and he saved my life. Truly. It was difficult because my path was so steep, my road so long, I knew it would take the rest of my life to traverse them. And it was dangerous because I was surrounded by sin and sinful people like myself and I was the one who wanted to be better.

If you don’t think that’s dangerous, try it. They think you are crossing them. They think you have elevated yourself above them,  erroneously. They don’t like it, and they have ways of letting you know it. They mock you, they scorn you, they leave you out – and they may even hurt you. Yes, dangerous.

A few weeks ago I realized, yet again, that my path seems so steep. How incredibly frustrating it is to realize all the work that has to be done to sanctify oneself! For years I have deeply resented people who don’t know how that feels. At first I thought they didn’t know because they didn’t have so far to go, and such a precipitous thoroughfare to climb. And I am  glad to say that there are still lots of people in my life whom  I feel don’t  have that steep road to travel, and I do not resent them. I may be totally wrong, but I don’t resent them. I am proud to know them, and I pay attention to what they say and do to learn from them what the peace of godly life is like.

No, I think there are billions of people out there who have just as arduous a passage to travel as I do, but I do not think they are as focused on it as I. The path is steep for everyone – everyone who tries, that is. And I do believe there are more people  out there trying  than I once thought.

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To you I say, do not give up! As Joyce Meyer says, press on! Press through! I know the end feels like it’s not in sight, but it is! And not just in eternity, but in the here and now. Every day you have a chance to change your attitude. Every day. No matter how frustrated you are with yourself, leave it at Jesus’ feet at the end of your quiet time and resolve to do your best. That is all you can do. And eventually you will start to gain some peace from that.

Good luck in your endeavors. You have joined  the ranks of those who do not rest on whatever laurels they may have! You have decided to take up your faults as God wants you to do and change them to the very best of your ability.

I Say Again, Rejoice!

Rejoice means to be happy, but here are some synonyms that I find great because I like the way the words sound: to celebrate, to delight, to exult, to glory, joy, to make merry, to revel, and to triumph.

My in-laws moved recently,  and while they were packing up they went through some of their books and let me have a look at ones they didn’t want. I saw a few Charles R. Swindoll books and decided to nab them. I didn’t really look at the titles, and this week I started reading one as part of my daily quiet time.

As a melancholy, choleric person, imagine my utter dismay when I took a good look at the name of the first: Maybe It’s Time to… Laugh Again. Bummer. I am a serious person. I don’t giggle much, unless it’s because my kids induce it. But I thought it was worth a try so I dug in.

My first thought was that I don’t know what a joyful attitude looks like. There’s a scene from one of my favorite movies, Tombstone, in which Wyatt Earp is talking to Josephine Marcus and she asks him if he’s happy. I love his response; it’s so totally something I’d say!

“I don’t laugh all day long like an idiot, if that’s what you mean.”

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Ha! Neither do I, Wyatt. Neither do I. But despite it’s issues, my nuclear family home did have its share of laughter, and so does my own as a married woman with children. I have been known to raise eyebrows in public with a belly laugh that would wake the dead.

Still, I know I am not naturally a joyous person, so I asked the Lord, this past Sunday, to mold me into a joyful person if I needed an attitude adjustment in that area.

So, I moved on to my Bible reading and came  across this verse:

“Always be full of joy in the Lord.” – Philippians 4:4

Boy, howdy. The floodgates opened. At the service later that morning, our pastor preached on the following verses:

“Rejoice always,pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18.

Did you get that? Rejoice always? Yup. And throughout the sermon the pastor interrupted his speaking for us to sing a few verses of song, and in every case the word “rejoice” was mentioned. Ok, God. I’m listening now!

Yesterday, this Bible verse came to me during my quiet time, from Colossians 2:7 – “…Then your  faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with happiness.”

Ok. The Lord has shown me that yes, I absolutely need an adjustment in this area!

My question is, how does a person become joyful? That begs the next question – what does that look like?

I don’t know, and whether you want to or not, I’ll tell you when I learn more. What I do know is that I have spent most of my life, give or take eight years or so, struggling with sorrow and rage. It is a constant, daily, incredibly huge burden to bear, and I am weary, Lord. So are the people who love me in spite of it!

I’m Gonna Protest Too!

Today I am protesting against stupid. I know you can’t fix it.  It is what it is. But if the West is supposed to give credence to calls to “prosecute” the makers of an obscure, You-tube film about the Islamic religion, then I think we should give credence to prosecuting stupidity around the world.

But we aren’t really supposed to give credence to it, are we? That’s not the point. The point that respected news organizations like the BBC are making is that this has been blown so far out of proportion that we can’t even see it anymore.

So I have a new proposal. I personally have felt, for many,  many years, and especially the first year or so after the War on Terror began, that  the United States plays a quite British role of trying to make the world American.

Well, Sheikh Nasrallah, you can have your country all to yourself. When you need aid in the form of food or peacekeeping forces, please do not utter a single word in our direction. All you Middle Eastern countries out there, you have bitten the hand that feeds you for the last time.

It’s true that these are tribal countries, and we have spent, oh, forty years or so, at least, trying to stamp them all with the brand of democracy, and let’s be honest – it’s not because we’re so kind. I mean, maybe in part, and that’s certainly what politicians spout as the the reason. But that’s not it – it’s oil. We are going to have to figure out another way to fuel our cars.

And despite some slight evidence to the contrary,  I still maintain that the President is not doing enough to show his complete shock at how Americans in these countries have been treated, even unto death. But this just proves my point. Some ridiculous “film” is all it takes to kill four American men and harm  others, as well as put many of them  in harm’s way, and Obama has an apologetic attitude? No, sir.

A Little OCD Doesn’t Hurt

The first time I got married, my Mama cautioned me with these words, which I will never forget, because I hated them so much they made my blood boil: “Don’t forget to praise him, all the time, for the little things he does.” Things like mowing the lawn, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or clearing the table, for example. And no, you unmarried ladies out there, she didn’t mean when he does those things without being asked.

She meant when asked, he did them. If he did them without being asked, well, praise the Lord! He was magnificent. A real, true stud.

This is not some quaint, antiquated notion. This is something touted by mothers everywhere, and not just mothers of daughters. My mother-in-law has three boys – no girls – and she expects the same of me. (Boy, did she get utterly screwed on that one. I am such a disappointment to traditionalists out there!) I need to add that my Mama and my mother-in-law are intelligent women. They aren’t living in the 50s. They have e-mail accounts. There is just this general expectation out there by married people of both genders that praising a husband makes him easier to train. Easier, say, than by pushing him like a drill sergeant.

Well, I speak from experience of both my marriages in that praise or nagging or pushing do not work. Praise does not motivate a man. Well, I take that back; when you praise your husband, for some reason he automatically expects that tonight is the night! How, “Honey, thanks for cleaning up the kid’s poop” turns into evening fun,  I do not know.

Praise does motivate a child, and in  many ways, man and child are a lot alike. They both get their meals cooked, their houses cleaned, their clothes washed and folded, etc. by a woman (in most cases). They both like to play video games, watch dumb-humor movies, leave dirty everything out when they know they should put it away – the list goes on and on.

So in honor of weary, frustrated, angry, confused women everywhere – I say let’s end this praise thing. As I told Mama, did she think my husbands would praise me for the loading of the dishwasher? Of course not!, she retorted. That’s just your job. That is, if you’re a stay-at-home mom like me. (She didn’t say that; I added it myself).

Now, us lucky moms and wives do get praised twice a year for our hard work: Mother’s Day and our anniversaries. I’m particularly lucky because when I’m so mad  I’m spitting nails because I went to get my hair done and when I got home the house looked like a tornado the size of an F-5 ripped through it, my husband desperately starts telling me how much I’m appreciated around here. “I love how you cook! Don’t cry! You do a really great job cleaning the toilets! Please don’t cry! You are so awesome at wiping runny noses! Seriously, don’t throw that? I don’t know anyone who can do the dishes better than you!”

This inability to do household chores without being told (and that, my friends, is the key) stems from several places, some of which may not apply to your husband, or in other cases, all of  them do: Mommy did it all for him; he’s lazy as all get-out; wait…that’s pretty much it.

My husband and I were spring-cleaning last year, and we started on the bedroom of my oldest. I was appalled at the dirtiness but kept my mouth shut (now THAT I should be praised for!). Eventually, during a lull in conversation, he looked at me and said, “I’m really embarrassed at how dirty it is.” YES!!!! Direct hit of realization plus guilt!! I did not hold my breath, however, as these moments only come around once every fifty years or so. I will probably be dead before this happens again.

It took my husband a full year to admit that he was lazy when it came to being a good steward of his belongings, such as his home and his car. Before that it was all about “my priorities just aren’t the same as yours.” Uh-huh. No kidding.

I once had a boyfriend in college who would often cook dinner for me. I would go over to his place and the table would be set (he did an ok job), the food would be cooking (it was usually pretty good), and a glass of wine would be waiting. There were also vitamins by my plate! What a sweetheart. He was also, it turns out, a little bit OCD. Meaning, his house was always clean. I mean – CLEAN. It was awesome. I didn’t even mind when he’d get ever-so-slightly miffed by my leaving a fallen thread on the carpet. Alas, he had commitment issues. No one is perfect.

So, ladies, I suggest you drop praise-for-nothing from your arsenal  of ways to get your husband to do what you need him to. Do not cry; do not scream; do not throw things. These methods do not work either. LEAVE THE ROOM. Leave the room until you are not mad as a hatter, and when you come back in, using your very best Darth Vader voice, let him know firmly and quietly what you want him to do. And if that doesn’t work? Hire a maid. Behind his back. A very expensive maid. Bonus points if you have to open a credit card just to do it.

Is Seeing the Good in Others a Good Idea?

We all know them. Those wonderful people who first and foremost pick out the best qualities in a person – who refuse to think ill of someone when a problem first comes up. I’m married to one.  He can come home and tell me how his boss erroneously blessed him out or blamed him for something  he didn’t do. And I, of course, become indignant on his behalf, to which he responds defensively – of himself, for some reason, AND his boss! Ugh. Insan-o.

In my experience, if you think well of someone for no reason, as in, you don’t know that person enough to trust them, you’re an idiot if you search out the good qualities first. This goes all the way back to childhood. It’s foolish, I have always believed, to think good thoughts about someone who hurts you. Foolish and weak.

I have learned over time, however, that nice people aren’t weak; just the opposite, in fact.  It is easy to lose your temper when someone is mean to you and act like a witch. It is infinitely harder to reign it in and try your best to be kind in return. So even though I see it as a strength,  and not a weakness, how come I still also see it as foolish?

Well, for one thing,  I think nice people get treated like doormats. What’s more, I don’t think they really care. I think  they don’t see it that way at all, in fact. I think it never enters their minds so it doesn’t bother  them. But it would absolutely enter mine. And that’s one of the worst feelings for me, personally – the feeling of being used, of being taken advantage of. You know those people who only talk to you when they want something? Ok – that’s the feeling I’m talking about. Every time I stick my neck out for someone who “isn’t worth it” I end up feeling that way.

Somewhere out there in my mind I know that’s ridiculous. I know, deep down,  that most people are basically nice, and they don’t want to hurt anybody. But to counter that, I also know that most people,  if given the opportunity, would take advantage of someone else, even if it’s unintentional. How many responsible, nice people do you know who kind of drop the ball when the boss is away? Um, just about everybody.

So what is the solution? To think the worst of everyone and be mistrustful? No, because that makes me pretty miserable. To be nice, but a little cautious? I think I can settle for that, for now.

My Preference? That I’m Right, of Course!

Sometimes we feel like God is really trying to tell us something, or that a problem we struggle with (or might not even realize we struggle with) is really popping up in our minds. Yeah. How come it’s never a positive?

Well, for me,  it’s personal preference versus gospel  truth, and last night at my small group meeting we were discussing it as well. This is actually something I’ve been wrestling with for months.

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Some believe “gospel truth” means whatever issue is at stake is clearly laid out in the Bible. Others,  like myself,  have elevated a belief to the status of “Biblical” even thought it’s not, technically. Here’s where it gets murky – there are a lot of things we know we shouldn’t do, like view porn, even though the word “porn” is located NOWHERE in the Bible. This is, in my opinion, the gospel truth. Get it?

Anyway, here’s what freakin awesome about our own gospel truths: they’re different! Yeah. Huge cosmic joke.

In 1 Corinthians 9: 19-22, Paul wrote about this. He adapted to all sorts of people. Meaning, he didn’t change his core beliefs, his morals, his values – he just became malleable so he could get along with different types of people.

People have different beliefs. They behave differently. It is a fact of life, and no matter how hard I  or anyone else tries, we cannot fit people into Cosmo-quiz boxes. People are complicated. And I have got to stop resenting people who are different from me. By that I mean  people who come across to me as amoral, immoral – just blatantly ungodly. It’s such a stupid waste of time!


Get Up & at ‘Em!

When I was a kid, I hated getting up to go to school. I mean, I actually liked to go to school, but I hated the waking up part. We had to get up at 5:30, when it was still dark outside. We lived thirty minutes away from our school, and there were four of us – so I get it. I hated it, but I get it.

There were two unsuccessful methods used to rouse me from my bed. The first, and  the worst,  thankfully did not happen often. My dad would get two pots, turn on the overhead light,  and bang the pots together, singing, “Get out of that bed! Rattle them pots and pans!” until I screamed in  anger. Mission accomplished. I was, indeed, awake.

The second method was employed by my older brother,  who would simply wrap me up in  my comforter and drag me to the breakfast table. I would wake up on the floor by my chair. Everyone would be eating, and not paying the least attention to me. Very disorienting.

To my father  and brother, perhaps these modes worked, in that I actually did get out of the bed and get to the table. But I was in one foul mood. My oldest child can totally relate.

Getting him up is nowhere near as tough, but most days he totally rebels against it. He whines, he fusses,  he attempts to hide under his bedclothes (while I or my husband are pulling them off him like a Band-Aid) – and then he eventually quits moping and starts bouncing around like a jackhammer.

Despite all our planning, our mornings seem to be really rushed. And yet I dread the day when the kids are supposed to get themselves up and moving. Good Lord. They may still be in bed when schools is over!

Good Conversation

Just about everybody likes good conversation. Unless you’re a total hermit, you enjoy spending time in quality dialogue, and you relish the people in your life who make that happen.

But on Sunday, our pastor at Roswell United Methodist Church preached about conversations with God, with Jesus – conversations based on prayer.

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During the last part of the message, we were all instructed to close our eyes and imagine that we were talking with Jesus, in the place of our choosing. Mine was by a quiet, peaceful stream. We were sitting on moss and holding hands.

“You are important,” he said.  In my mind’s eye, and in reality, I immediately started to cry. “Clothes and shoes and all that – if that’s fun for you, then enjoy it.” (I’m not sure where that came from but I will  keep an eye out for its meaning!) “But stop letting what people say or think about you, influence what you do for Me. What I have to say about it is much more important than anyone else.” I don’t remember the rest, but it was only for one minute so I doubt there was much more.

Why do I still need You to tell me I’m special? There are a lot of people, who think they know me well, who believe I already have an inflated opinion of myself.  They could not be further from the truth! When will I get it in  my head that what other people think doesn’t matter that much? That what I think about them doesn’t matter that much??

I tried it again this morning. Alas, the baby was crying, the husband was in the midst of an almost-meltdown, and my oldest was running around laughing and screaming, enjoying the mayhem of this particularly bad Monday morning. So, I said goodbye to Him and promised to catch up later.

Give it a try. Just ask Him what He needs you to hear, and then listen! My husband thinks God only talks to “some” people. Good Lord. If that were true He would have made a huge mistake picking little ‘ole me out of the bunch. No, He talks to everyone. You just have to shut up long enough to hear, and you have to evaluate what you are hearing. Joyce Meyer says that sometimes “God” is really the devil talking, and you have to ask the Lord if that’s really what He meant. Or is something you want to say? She also says that if you’re at peace with what you hear, it came from God; if not, it’s either yourself or Satan influencing your thoughts.

Anyway, try it out this week. Get quiet, and listen. Then ask questions, and see what a good conversation with the Lord is really like!