Friday, February 26, 2010

Inside, Outside, or Upside Down?

We've all heard it a hundred times and probably said it too, "It's just inside that matters. God see the heart, so that's all that's important."

Even Christ told the Pharisees, "Now do ye make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness." (Luke 11:39)

But let me turn this upside down: How many of us wash the inside of the cup and leave the outside filthy? Maybe the inside is the most important, but does that make the outside irrelevant? Would you want to drink from a cup that was spotless inside, but gross on the outside?

I'm afraid this Scripture has been used, especially by women, (myself included) to excuse slovenliness. Instead of taking care of ourselves, we want to lazily follow our comfy, frumpy dressing habits, by insisting that "the inside is what counts."

Just consider the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31: There's no question she was beautiful on the inside, with impeccable character, but she also "dressed in clothing of silk and purple." (v. 22) Does that make her vain?

"Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain..." (v. 30) but, I wonder, how would a "woman who fears the Lord" dress? To honor and please her husband, and her Lord, or bring reproach to Christ with slothful habits? 

What IS important?
The Inside? The Outside?

Next time you're washing dishes,
think on these things, and let me know...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Tale of Two Brigittas

One year ago today, I was in the hospital giving birth to a baby that I thought was six days late. Come to find out, she was right on time.

When we discovered that we were expecting another girl, I knew instantly what I wanted to name her. It was the same name I had wanted to give our second daughter, Felicity, but my husband had said, "Brigitta just doesn't sound right with LeBlanc." Although I was disappointed, the subject was dropped and I didn't mention it again; not even two years later when the ultrasound revealed daughter number three.

After discussing various other names, and settling on none, one of the young ladies from church asked me if we had picked a name yet. Of course, I said, "no." Then she asked a strange question: "What would you name her if it was just up to you?"

Seriously doubting that my husband would hear of our conversation, I replied honestly, "I would name her Brigitta," and then I proceeded to tell this young lady and her mother all about a precious friend of mine, Brigitta Poldemaa Barker...

 "Gita" was born in the tiny country of Estonia in 1921, during its brief period of independence before WWII. Escaping the day Estonia fell, the Lord miraculously preserved her after the Russians torpedoed her ship in the Baltic Sea. When she arrived in Germany, grief-stricken, He again rescued her from a slave-labor camp, and a prison camp. Then, through a series of incredible events that I will not divulge here, (you have to read the book) Gita came to America and finally settled in the tiny town of Williston, FL, where I spent my teen years.

My aunt was already writing her biography when my family moved to Williston, and some of my fondest memories are sitting in the cozy living room of my Estonian "grandma" listening to my Auntie Sheri read portions of the story aloud.

So, when asked what I would name our baby girl, I replied without hesitation; and then explained why. After hearing Thom's objection, my audience decided they could come up with a middle name to make it fit.

Venturing upon us at that moment, my beloved overheard our conversation and, after renewed contemplation, decided that we could indeed name our little one after Mrs Barker, (whom he also adores)  provided we found a French middle name. Two weeks later, we heard the sad news that Mrs. Loraine Shelton, a dear friend of my husband's, had passed away. During our time of grief, I quietly reminded him, "Loraine, is a French name..."

And so our third baby girl found her name: Brigitta Loraine LeBlanc. But little Gita was not like her sisters. She didn't come on her due date! Six agonizing days later, I finally gave birth to the poky one! Then, from the hospital, I spontaneously called my Auntie Sheri. She was fairly bursting! After almost two decades of working on The Long Walk Home, it finally went to publication the very day our Brigitta was born! Both of us ecstatically rejoiced in the Lord's timing; and a wonderful day turned into a glorious one!

A few months later, while doing some research on the Country of Estonia, Mrs. Barker's homeland, I discovered that the little nation celebrates it's Independence Day, it's "Fourth of July" on February 24: Baby Brigitta's birthday!

This may seem insignificant to some of you, but to me it is just another one of those little details that reminds us of God's absolute and infinite plan. Regardless of where you are right now, take comfort that the Lord directs your steps. When things take longer than you had anticipated, or don't turn out as they "should," consider that God has His own timetable. He is never late. And He never forsakes His own.

"A man's heart deviseth his way:
but the LORD directeth his steps."
(Proverbs 16:9)

^^^ Customer reviews and ordering info. 
(Top Right Photo: Two Gitas)

For more info on the remarkable history of Estonia,
please check out my recently updated Squidoo page:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Progress Report: The Two-Step Rule

At the conclusion of "Martyrdom or Vengeance" we discussed the "Two-Step Rule" and how it applies to children as well as adults. I've been using it for several months to teach the children (and myself) how to resolve conflicts biblically. As with any training, it isn't easy, because you're "going against the grain", but yesterday I was encouraged twice as I watched my little ones follow this model:

Every Sunday morning, as my husband and I enjoy our coffee, I always fix the girls some Ovaltine in their special sippy cups. Joanna (5) takes her time and usually ends up "saving" some of her chocolate milk in the fridge, while Felicity (3) downs hers in about 3 minutes flat. (Hmm, I wonder where she gets her impulsiveness?)

Anyway, this morning when "Issy" found Joanna's half-filled cup abandoned, she naturally thought big sister was finished and it was all hers! But big sister didn't agree.

Next thing I knew, there was a hot pursuit down the hall and, as I stepped out of my bedroom, Felicity dove into her bed to hide from Joanna, who was approaching the door and about to have a melt-down. Quietly, I reminded, "two-step rule". That's all I said.

You can't imagine my feelings as I watched my eldest daughter take a deep breath, square her shoulders, and enter the room where her younger sister sat defiant. "Felicity," her voice was calm and even, "may I please have my Ovaltine back?"

Almost instantaneously, the defiance gave way to a grin, "Sure, Joanna!" Issy replied happily, and handed the cup to her sister, who thanked her politely and started to walk away. Suddenly, and with no prompting from Mom, Felicity slid out of bed and ran to her, "Joanna," the tone was humble, "I'm sorry I took your Ovaltine."

In the blink of an eye, they were best friends again, without me having to fuss at either one of them! And, a few minutes later, I watched unnoticed as Joanna gave the last drink of Ovaltine to her little sister. Can you imagine how hard it was to restrain the tears?

That afternoon, I was in for an even bigger surprise. While the girls were playing outside, Felicity came running in the house, grabbed a piece of paper and a crayon, then approached me. "Mama" she requested sadly, "will you draw a frowny face?"

As I drew the requested object, I asked why she wanted a frowny face. "Because" she stated simply, "Joanna wouldn't swing with me, so I wanted to show her my frowny face."

 Before her words had time to register, she was out the door, paper in hand. While I didn't actually hear their conversation, Issy was back less than a minute later, "Mama! Will you draw me a smiley face? Joanna said she would swing with me!" You can believe I was more than happy to oblige!

Although I did not teach Felicity to use frowny/smiley faces in this way, still it shows that she is learning to resolve conflicts without anger. This is huge for her!

As I reflect on the day, I realize that we're still going to struggle in this area. I'm not deluding myself by thinking that it's been conquered once and for all; but a glimpse of progress is sometimes the best  encouragement imaginable. I can't think of anything that would give me more joy than seeing these little ones following the concepts I've given them; knowing it will affect the rest of their lives...

***If you missed the original article on The "Two-Step Rule", you can find it by clicking this link:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Traipsing through the Land of OZ

Well, my Dad was right: nothing is ever as easy as it seems!

Almost a month ago, my husband, Thom, got me started blogging; and while I do enjoy communicating my thoughts through this medium, all the techno-junk tends to drive me crazy!

Seriously, sometimes it feels like visiting a foreign country or speaking a different language! I will never look at a blog or website nonchalantly again! They are SO much work!

By the way: in the blogging world, traffic is the key ingredient. So, if you are ever touched by an article, please feel free to share it with friends. There's nothing better than personal recommendations. Comments are also appreciated; they keep the conversation going and give others the opportunity to express opinions. (I love hearing from all of you!)

Anyway, just as I was starting to get comfortable with the blogosphere, a mentor encouraged me to write articles for Squidoo. If you've never heard of Squidoo, it's a cross between a website and a science fair. Lots of people with different areas of expertise are encouraged to write article displays, which they call a lens, and post it on Squidoo. Then, as someone researches a topic, the keywords will bring them to your lens. So far I've written two:

Estonia and the Singing Revolution:
Eliminate Postpartum Exhaustion:

Every time someone visits one of them, my ratings go up, and that increases my revenue from the Squidoo sponsors. Of course, I'm still a newbie and struggling to understand how everything works, but I've really appreciated all the visits (29 total!) my articles have already received.

Then, on Thursday, I created a Facebook fan page for WATLOK, which already has 19 fans (3 of whom I do not know!) You can't imagine how encouraging that is to me, and I thank each of you for the support!

The biggest problem I've faced so far is in learning how to prioritize. I'll start a project, thinking it will only take a few minutes, but a few hours later finds me frustrated and facing all the housework I should have been doing!!! Another challenge is getting enough sleep at night. I've averaged about 4 hours of sleep each night this week because of my new obsession. Not enough for a mom with small children!

Hopefully these things will improve with time and practice; until then, I just wanted to thank each of you for bearing with me as I stumble through this land of Cyber-Oz!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gossip Town

When I found this in my seventh grade text-book, I couldn't memorize it fast enough! Still makes me chuckle when I remember the faces of the Amish children in my class, after I suggested we make it into a skit!

Gossip Town

Have you ever heard of "Gossip Town."
On the shore of "Falsehood Bay?"
Where "Old Dame Rumor," with the rustling gown,
Is going the live-long day?

It isn't far to "Gossip Town"
For people who want to go,
The "Idleness Train" will take you down
In just an hour or so.

The "Thoughtless Road" is a popular route
And most folks start that way.
But it's a steep down grade and if you don't look out
You'll land in "Falsehood Bay!"

You glide through the "Valley of Vicious Folk"
And into the "Tunnel of Hate"
Then, crossing the "Add-To-Bridge," you walk
Right through the City Gate.

The principal street is called, "They Say"
And "I've Heard" is the public well,
And the breezes that blow from "Falsehood Bay"
Are laden with "Don't You Tell!"

In the midst of the town is "Telltale Park"
You're never quite safe while there,
For it's owner is "Madam Suspicious Remark,"
Who lives on the street "Don't Care."

Just back of the park is "Slanderous Row"'
Twas there that "Good Name" died,
Pierced by the dart from "Jealousy's Bow"
In the hands of "Envious Pride."

From Gossip Town peace long since fled,
But Trouble, Grief and Woe
And Sorrow and Care you'll meet instead
If ever you chance to go!

~Author Unknown
Borrowed from the blog: NARROW IS THE WAY: Gossip Town

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Swallowing Camels

Recently in our town, a godly mother of ten lost her life in an automobile accident, while her 15 year old son was driving. I've never met the family, but they were close to some friends of mine.

Since then, I've often wondered about the young man and the agony he must experience day after day, for the rest of his life; feeling guilty (although he did nothing wrong) for his mother's death.

But it angered me beyond belief when the local news villainized this woman for not buckling her seat-belt. In the face of horrific tragedy, they even had the gall to berate the family for the outcome! Comments on the News Journal web page were so cruel and condemning that it caused me to weep, praying that the family wasn't reading such ugliness...

Before I go a step farther, let me assure everyone that I do wear a seat belt. It's a habit. And I always buckle my little ones. But there are times, especially while traveling, that it becomes necessary to unbuckle myself to reach one of them, or pick their bottle off the car floor. Am I villain for this?

Our society has no problem condoning homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and abortion; but has the nerve to snub a grief-stricken family for a seat-belt?

What about our children? "Good moms" will sterilize their bottles or pacifiers, and will wipe their hands and faces instantly when just a little dirt is evident. But they have no problem sticking those same youngsters in front of a tube, to saturate their minds with filth and garbage.

While our culture has become obsessed with inoculating our children from germs, they encourage them to wallow in sin. But it's not just our society. How many times do we do the same thing? How often do we make a big deal out of something like cigarettes or alcohol, yet ignore issues of eternal importance?

Oh, may we refrain from this hypocrisy that "strains at a gnat, and swallows a camel." (Matthew 23:24)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

But Lord, He Stinketh!

This has got to be one of my Mom's favorite Bible Stories. Not just because Lazarus is raised from the dead, but in this passage Martha is revealed as the epitome of womankind.

It's amazing; in John 11:27, Martha, with a faith which most of the disciples lacked at that time, professes that "Jesus is the Christ, the SON of GOD". Just a few verses later, her words belie that faith...

The Lord Jesus Christ, Israel's promised Messiah, The Son of God, The Creator of Heaven and Earth, gives a command, "Roll the Stone Away from the tomb"

"Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, 'Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days'." (vs. 39)

If Jesus is the Son of God, wouldn't He know that already?

Ah, Martha! We laugh because this sounds so familiar! How many times have we attempted to insert our "logic" into a discussion that requires merely submission and faith? How often have our husbands come up with a hair-brained scheme and we felt it imperative to bring up all the impossibilities? If Martha truly recognized Who it was that commanded, wouldn't she have jumped to do His bidding?

In like manner, Abraham believed that "what God had promised, He was able to perform", but Sarah insisted on following her "logic". Ishmael was the result, and enmity between Abraham's seed continues to this day. Sisters, this is no light matter:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not on thine own understanding."
Proverbs 3:5

Friday, February 12, 2010

Gnawing Bones

I wonder, has anyone else experienced that sick feeling that comes after mailing a letter and wishing you hadn't? Did you ever blurt out something in public just to immediately desire the words back?

That happens to me...frequently. (Maybe it has something to do with my impulsiveness, I don't know) Anyway, it happened again just yesterday! After writing what I thought was a rave review of my Auntie's book, I came back to the computer this morning and groaned!

Don't get me wrong. Everything I articulated was correct. But it was the glaring omissions that grabbed my attention. The review was absolutely childish! So, I loved her book; but why? What is it about Across Time, Across Tears that makes it an instant favorite with so many readers? After all, the size is pretty daunting.

Disgusted with myself, I pushed away from the computer and picked up the book...again! Honestly, I only intended to read a few "favorite parts" but there are just so many of them, it's impossible to pick. And, despite the fact that I was supposed to be preparing my house for a baby shower tomorrow, unheedless of five munchkins squealing in the playroom, regardless of the fact that the laundry was piled high- I just couldn't put it down!

Now I've reached an opinion: it isn't just the story-line that's excellent. It's not simply the intricate details that weave together so seamlessly throughout the book. Nor does the excitement come solely from great action-sequences. No, the reason this book is such a favorite, is the language.

Across Time, Across Tears is nothing less than a work of art! A painting, if you will. And when you read it, the characters and settings are so vivid that it isn't difficult to imagine yourself there. Thanks to the author's skill with words, even the most unimaginative of us have no trouble visualizing the sights of the marketplace, smelling the stench of an old man's breath, or hearing the air hiss as a silenced AK-47 assault rifle demolishes a tree branch. She even lets us feel the warmth of a recently-laminated Driver's License! The dialogue itself is passing extraordinary, and the ending, that last paragraph,- is simply breathtaking!

If you haven't read this book yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. Not just because it's my very favorite novel, but because you have no idea what you're missing! I'll close with a teaser, from one of many favorite parts:
"She jumped when Bani placed a hand on each side of her head, though he did not try to raise her face upward. He leaned close to the veil. "I understand more than you think," he said. "Do you suppose God is mindless? He would not so use us both. He has done a perfect work. Praise Him, if you can, woman, and stop gnawing the bones of your own worry and misunderstanding..."

Across Time, Across TearsAcross Time, Across Tears

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When I Get A Little Money...

As a teenager, my favorite quote was one from Desiderius Erasmus, "When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."

Unfortunately, being a Mom requires a little more practicality and I rarely get to enjoy a good book. When I do read, it is usually a devotional or has some family-oriented edification.

But my FAVORITE novel in the WHOLE WORLD, was actually written by my Auntie Sheri! It's a Christian thriller about the daughter of martyred missionaries. When I finally got the courage to pick it up (it's 453 pages) I could not put it down!

The story is fascinating, clean, and glorifies the power of God to change lives- from lowly Bedouin girls to aristocratic snobs and Islamic princes...

Here's an Amazon review, written by my best friend, Christie Phillips:
As a full-time mom with two littles, I'm always short on sleep. WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK AT 11 PM JUST HOPING TO READ "A FEW PAGES"! It won't happen!! I was up til 4 am. I've read a TON of books in my life, and this was definately a real gripper and page-turner. I finally finished it last night and it's definately worth your while. There are several challenging themes that I've been mulling over ever since - so it not only grabs your attention, but challenges you to rethink some of our American cultural beliefs. (I love comparing our cultural assumptions against other cultures.)

Follow this link to find more reviews on this absolutely amazing, five-star book:

Across Time, Across Tears

Just Ask!

Scenario #1: You're sitting at the breakfast table watching your four-year-old daughter eagerly consuming her bowl of oatmeal. As she scrapes the last bite into her mouth, the little one plops her bowl onto the table, then silently, but deliberately, points at the pot of oatmeal, obviously indicating that she would like some more...

Scenario #2: Your older daughter is also enjoying her oatmeal. But instead of plopping and pointing, she licks her lips, scoots the bowl your direction, and states, "I'm still hungry."

What should you do?

Well, if you're a good mother, you'll jump to your feet instantly and get the poor, starving children an extra helping of their favorite breakfast food.

But if you're a wise mother, you'll remember that you are training your children for life. And in real life, people have to ask for what they need, not beat around the bush.

How many times have we wives been guilty of hinting to our husbands, or expecting them to read our minds? How many times have we glared at them from our perch in the kitchen, wondering when they'll notice that the trash needs to be emptied? And the truth is that they will typically bend over backwards for us, if we would just be straight-forward with them!

Here's an excerpt from my favorite blog on this subject:

"Women have an uncanny way of assuming the worst and even villainizing their husbands for not being able to read minds.

Can I just be honest and give you a real-life example? (I can’t believe I’m telling this.) Though the reason absolutely eludes me, I have often found some sick pleasure in setting my husband up for failure so that I could claim “hurt feelings”. What is that??!!" (read more...)

Those of us with little girls need to be especially careful that we are raising them, by example and expectation, to be honest and forthright; not cajoling by subtlty or nagging, but sincerely asking and letting the authority decide...

"Ye have not, because ye ask not..." James 4:2

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Captive Conscience

WOW! I have so many things running through my head right now that it's hard to pick a topic! Still, there's that inadequate feeling of not being to communicate my thoughts with clarity, so I'd like to thank you all for your patience with me.

Do you find it amazing how we interpret things by experience? Does a word or phrase ever bother you when there's really nothing wrong with what's being communicated?

Recently, I was chatting with a friend regarding an organizational guru, known affectionately as "The FlyLady". Besides a host of helpful ideas, The FlyLady has a weekly house cleaning that she calls, "House Blessing". Personally, I love it! Blessing your house sounds so much nicer than cleaning it! :-)

But my friend is an ex-catholic. She hears "house blessing" and cringes at the image of a long-robed priest with 'holy' water and incense, chanting over a parishioner's home. Her experience changed the connotation; which is a shame, although quite understandable.

Have you ever judged a baby name by someone you've known in the past? Does the name "Amy" or "Janet" subconsciously indicate a snob or spoiled brat? It does for me. And yet, I've known girls by those names that weren't.

Like Martin Luther standing before the emperor, we need to be so careful that our "conscience is captive to the Word of God," not our emotions or experiences. So, along with wisdom and the law of kindness, may the Lord grant us great discretion too...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Fruit of the Womb is His Reward!

My latest read was The Duggars: 20 and Counting! It was terrific! Besides being impossible to put down, the volume was also chocked full of the following:

*the Duggar family history
*financial advice
*child-training tips
*organizational skills
*family recipes
*delightful photographs
*favorite quotes and Scripture verses
*interviews with the children sundry other subjects that make one of America's largest families such a delight to believers and a curiosity to the whole world!

This past December, Michelle had an emergency C-section when baby Josie (#19) was only 25 weeks along! The Lord spared both of their lives and the entire family continues to be a testimony for Him in their TV series "19 Kids and Counting...".

Speaking of Baby 18, who was on the way when the book was written, Jim Bob and Michelle added,

"When we hold that baby in our arms for the first time and admire its unique face and tiny features, we know we'll be filled with the same sense of awe and thankfulness for God's amazing power and grace that has filled our hearts as we've welcomed each one of our children. Each and every child truly is a blessing from God."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Martyrdom or Vengeance? Part 4

Well, the stats are in! 33% of you said you'd tell your children to "Fight Back", 16% advised them to "Call for Help", 0% said "Turn the other cheek", while 50% aren't really sure what to say.

I appreciate that honesty. A few months ago, I wasn't sure either. Nor did I know how to handle the sibling conflicts that inevitably arise in our home...

"Mom-my!" the high-pitched whine is enough to cause the sturdiest Mother to groan. We all know what it means: brother or sister has done something,- again! Then come the feet, pounding resolutely into the room as the child airs their grievance, hoping for justice.

What do you do? Well, sometimes we rush to their rescue and punish the offender. Other times, we ignore the complaint and pray for a distraction. On a different occasion we may crawl all over the "victim" and accuse them of tattling. But if none of those options fit our mood, we just scream, "Why can't y'all be nice?!"

I think we fail to remember that home is a training-ground for life. If we can't teach our children to handle conflicts with their siblings, then we haven't done our job!

As I was meditating on this dilemma a few months back, the passage in Matthew 18 came to mind. In verses 15-16, Christ sets a pattern for dealing with conflicts that arise in the Church. "Go to your brother," He says, "and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you've gained a brother. If not, then go back with two or three witnesses..."

We don't usually act that way. Typically, when we're wronged, we either lash out at the guilty party and "give them a piece of our minds" or we adopt a martyr-complex and tell everyone we meet how "so-and-so" treated us.

Why is that? Maybe because we haven't learned to solve conflicts correctly. And, as I considered these things, the thought came to me, "if the family is a picture of the church (Eph 5) then why wouldn't that biblical pattern work for siblings?"

That's why our family has adopted the two-step rule. Now, instead of the above options, all I have to do is hold up two fingers and the children remember to handle their problem correctly.

Step One: Go to the offender kindly and sweetly. Look them in the eye and tell them what they did wrong, "Joanna, I was still playing with that toy, may I please have it back."

Sometimes the offense was quite by accident. Approaching them like this gives them the chance to apologize! No one likes a tattle-tale, one who tries to get others in trouble. So, let them have the opportunity to repent.

Step Two: If they refuse to listen, then take the matter to a higher power, quietly and humbly. "Mom, I asked Felicity kindly and sweetly, but she will not give the toy back to me."

Then the matter is left Mom's hands. They are not demanding justice, but stating facts and allowing the authority to decide the verdict.

Can you imagine the difference this would make in our homes and churches? What if every wife, instead of getting angry or sulking, would speak to her husband honestly and then let God work in his heart? Wouldn't our families be benefited? What if church members followed this biblical pattern too?

It takes courage to do the right thing; to look the offender in the eye and confront the problem. But that is what the Lord has commanded. I look back over my life and see some huge conflicts that probably could have been resolved if I had only followed these steps! How it would have saved myself and those I love so much grief!

I can't go back and change the past. But as I draw this article to a conclusion, it is my fervent prayer that we can all teach our children (and ourselves) how to handle conflicts without "Martyrdom" or "Vengeance".


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Martyrdom or Vengeance? Part 3

From the past two articles, you've probably observed that I despise bullies. And rightly so. My Dad once told me that bullies are cowards; they pick on little kids because they're afraid to do anything else. But as I think back to the "bicycle bully" episode, I realize that I wasn't much better than he...

True, I didn't chase little kids into the ditch with my bike, nor did I come within an inch of blinding a six-year-old, but my behavior was full of anger, governed by fear. I was every bit the coward that he was! 

At first, I tried to ignore the rascal, hoping he would go away. But the martyr complex didn't work. Then I got angry.  And we know that "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (James 1:20)

Some of you will disagree with this conclusion and say that I did the heroic thing. After all, a little girl may have grown up blind, had I not interfered. Hold on a moment! I'm not regretting what I did. Just how I did it. "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." (Proverbs 25:28)

Given the same set of circumstances, I would honestly do it again. But with control; with courage. I would still jump in front of that bike and snap his stick in half. But, instead of screaming and flailing a stick at him, I'd look the coward in the eye and quietly say, "Nate, you'd better go home before someone gets hurt."

Would I resort to violence, if necessary? You bet! But it wouldn't have been necessary. That boy was a coward. I can totally imagine him laughing at my words,-as he pedaled for home.

Why am obsessing about this story? Because I see a pattern in my life. My motto used to be, "If you ignore something long enough, it will eventually go away". But that's not realistic. Problems don't go away. They fester and grow. Then, when we finally deal with them, they're monumental!

Next time, we'll discuss the two-step rule and learn how to empower our children with courage to keep them from making my mistakes...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Martyrdom or Vengeance? Part 2

Granted, I'm probably an idiot for undertaking such a controversial subject during my first week of blogging, but I haven't received any hate mail yet, so I guess it's alright!

At the conclusion of the last article, we were contemplating how to teach children to resolve conflicts; after I recounted my "bully on a bike" encounter when I was twelve.

But let's backtrack a year... at the age of eleven my favorite book was "The Martyr's Mirror" which is a huge volume (1,158 pages) of true stories remembering those who have given their lives for Christ. Childishly, I longed to be one of them... to seal my faith with my blood and testify for the Lord with my dying breath. In my daydreams, I lived in 16th Century Europe and got to meet Felix Manz, Conrad Grebel, Menno Simons, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, Knox, and many, many others.

So, it is no wonder that when a bully comes riding up on his bicycle, I took it as an opportunity to show my "martyr qualities". But it wasn't my faith that was under attack; it was a group of schoolchildren, all of whom were younger than I.

I will never apologize for jumping in front of a bully's bike to rescue a first-grader. It would have been cowardly to stand by and do nothing. Nor do I regret destroying his "lance" and sending him packing. But I lost my temper and uttered things I should not have said. Looking back on the situation, I realize that my "martyr complex" actually kept me from handling the situation correctly from the beginning, so by the time I took action, it was in anger; not righteous indignation, but fleshly fury.

So, I swung the pendulum from one extreme to the other: first martyrdom, then vengeance. This is actually quite common, especially as wives supposedly "submitting" to our husbands. How many times have we kept silent, deluding ourselves with a "meek and quiet spirit" only to lose our temper and lash out at a quite unexpected moment?

Tune in next time as I attempt to reach a balance, and discuss a way to teach little ones (and ourselves) the biblical pattern for resolving conflicts without martyrdom or vengeance...

Click the link below to check out this incredible book, available through

Martyrs Mirror: The Story of Seventeen Centuries of Christian Martyrdom From the Time of Christ to A.D. 1660