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Posts Tagged ‘Teens’

There is a verse from 1 Corinthians 13 that has been (partially) marinating in my brain cells this week, and it has nothing, and everything, to do with love (as 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “Love Chapter” of the Bible).

The verse that I have been pondering (and taking out of context) is verse 12; “now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete.”

I found myself thinking of my mom, back when I was a single adult (barely an adult, since hubby stole me away so young 😉 ), and she was … about the age that I am now. I found myself trying to remember what I was like as a young adult, and what she was like as a VERY YOUNG woman (remember, I was remembering her when she was the age that I am now).

Then out of the blue the verse above came to mind, and I thought of our relationship back then.

My mom and I had a great relationship when I was a child, and even when I tortured her through my teen years. Many times when my friends came over, they were as eager to sit and chat with her, as with me. My mom had a fantastic gift for listening, and what more could a teenage girl want than to have an adult actually listen to them when they speak?!

I also remember the post high school years, and how there was more distance between us. I remember that I started to notice flaws in mom. I started to watch her more, and I started to see that she did not do things as I might have thought the ‘right way’ to do them. It was in this stage that I no longer agreed with all that she said.

This was the stage of me growing away from my mom. It is normal, it is predictable and it is good. It is a stage where a young adult begins to become more independent of their parents, in actions and in thoughts.

I also now know that it must have been hellish for her. To go from such closeness to growing distance must have eaten at her mother heart.

“Now we see (like) a blurred image in a mirror …”

I remember that stage of life. I remember the independence that I was feeling. I remember how very eager I was to grow away from my parents. I remember feeling wise and worldly.

What I know now, that I did not know then was that I was seeing the life before me as a blurred image in a mirror. As clear as life and the future seemed to me then, now I know, looking back, that what I saw was often not reality. I saw things as I wanted to see them.

I was living in the idealism of youth. Now idealism is not a bad thing, as a matter of fact, I wish that I could get some of that idealism of youth back in my mind and heart, but idealism is often not seeing things as they are, but as we wish to see them … it is blurred reality.

I judged my mom, based on my blurred vision. I guess it is a common happening in most young adults lives, with their parents, but now I “see very clearly” how blurred that vision was, way back then. I can not say that “my knowledge is incomplete” quite yet, but I am now at the stage of life of seeing my mom as a whole, not just the parts that I thought I understood as a young adult.

I now understand that some of my mother’s actions and inaction, things she said, and refrained from saying, were responses to the decisions she had been making since she was a young adult herself. I now see that she did the best with what life had thrown at her, and with the consequences (good and bad) of her young adult decisions, when her vision was still blurred.

I do look forward to the day when “my knowledge is incomplete.”

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The language of adolescents would seem to be technology. They talk and text and FaceTime and Tweet and game, and then there is social networking!

I had an interaction the other day with my son. I could tell by the way he closed (slammed) the van door, after school, that he was not in a good mood. It took everything within me to not respond … verbally, angrily with his over use of adolescent muscle on my van door. Working in a high school, I know that to respond to anger in a teen, who is angry, is only going to elevate the level of anger. So, I did what I often do … I bit my tongue (it really should be severed in two by this point in my life … come to think of it, maybe this is what is meant when the Bible speaks of the tongue as being a double edged sword … maybe it has less to do with double edged, and more to do with heavy duty steal … but, I digress).

Once we were home, and he and I were alone for a moment, I took a deep breath, and asked (nicely) if he wanted to talk. He said, “no, not now, it was a crummy day.”

So, I let he and his ‘surly’ mood have space (physically and emotionally). The difficulty in giving him space though, is that as a woman, and a mom, one could not get much more inquisitive. All I really wanted to do was to get to the bottom of his bad mood.

Once he had some space (that is spent in his bedroom … his turf), I did what I often do in these circumstances. I knocked at the door, and ‘asked’ if I could enter. I brought a glass of water to him (it is my entrance fee …). Then, I asked if there was anything I could do to help improve his day (I ask because it helps the adolescent feel in control, and chances are he did not feel in control earlier in the day … this is empowering for them).

Sometimes tears start to flow at this point, sometimes a silent shake of the head, sometimes they are already okay, and life has moved on to brighter skies. It is a rare thing that they do not share what their day has held, and where their sorrow originated.

So, he told me his tale of woe … and I listened. The world would not have stopped for his great failure. His iTouch would not have wanted to hear his story. If he Tweeted it, or FB’ed it, or whatever else technology could have offered him it would not have come close to what he wanted, what he needed the most …

What my son, and any other son, or daughter, needs most, is a listening ear, and “I love you,” in response, and a big ‘ol mama hug.

The language of adolescents is NOT technology, the language of adolescents is the same as the language of us all … LOVE!

To be heard, to be loved, to be shown affection and acceptance, despite our behaviors … that is what we all want, what we all need.

The language of love is the language that we, as humans, live for! It is how we are wired, it is how we were created!

And, although I am only sharing one story of parental success in the midst of far too many failures for this one mom, I do believe it is in following with the example of Christ.

God loves us. He loves us not depending on our behaviors, but despite them! He loves us, because he knows that we are worth loving. And if I, whose behaviors are so poor, can be loved by the God of this universe, then I need to ensure that the behaviors of the adolescents in my life, are not keeping me from speaking their language.

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Way back when I was a girl …

Sometimes it is so difficult to not start a sentence that way in reference to ‘the good ‘ol days.’ We can be so very selective with our memories of days gone by, throwing out the bad and remembering only the good.

When I think back to my childhood, television watching was a big part of our recreational time, as individuals, and as a family. I can remember watching TV shows with my parents, and the conversations that would follow the episode. As I think back, some of the most teachable moments were when a show would end, and Mom or Dad would say, “so, what did you think of that topic?” TV was the catalyst for learning opportunities in the house I grew up in.

“Little House on the Prairie” taught me all about a family that loves each other. Their lives were tough (no dishwasher … yikes), and life did not always go as they would have liked. They had a daughter who was deaf, and they took in a boy who needed a family, and made him fully part of theirs. They dealt with a fire, drought, poverty and Nelie Olsen! The show dealt with real life issues that are not relegated to the Prairie, such as death, poverty, alcoholism, thievery, adultery, illness, and single parenting, just to name a few.

Then there was “The Waltons” who introduced me to another time in history. They also taught me about a family who loves each other. There lives were tough, and life did not always go as they would have liked. They lived in a multi-generational house, had a home business, and almost everyone under the roof was a type A, strong willed personality. The show dealt with real life issues, not relegated to the time of the Depression to WWII in the mountains of Virginia. They dealt with issues such as death, poverty, alcoholism, abuses, a house fire, and single parenting.

The Cosby Show was a favorite in the house I grew up. It was a sitcom that could bring the viewer to tears from laughter as well as from touching scenes. They taught me about a family who loves each other. Although they were a family of means (he, an obstetrician and she, a lawyer), they still lived a life of issues that the typical family could face. They dealt with death, marital stress, teen alcohol use, two income family dynamics, and many child rearing issues.

Happy Days was another of our favorites. The music was so great, and the it had the bonus of dealing with everything from the serious to the absurd (sort of like my blog). The show taught me about a family who loves each other. They were an average middle class family dealing with the average middle class life issues. Issues such as death, marital problems, stealing, heartbreak, and various teen-related issues. It took us back to a day and time when the man brought home and bacon and the woman cooked it up. Don’t think that Marion Cunningham was a spineless woman though, because, although hubby Howard was the head of the family, Marion was definitely the neck that turned that head!

As I pondered the shows I grew up on, I am thankful for the things I learned from them.

I learned that life is not always perfect.
That bad things happen to good people.
That working hard is worth the effort in the long run.
That honesty is the best policy.
That family is important.
That marriage is work, and it is worth it.
That kids have an opinion, and they should be free to voice it.
That there are consequences to all choices and decisions.

I am thankful for the input that I received while sitting in front of the tube … I wonder what messages and input today’s TV viewing adolescents and teens are receiving?

“Summing it all up, friends,
I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on
things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—
the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly;
things to praise, not things to curse.”
Philippians 4:8

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“I am so fat.”

“I am ugly.”

“I hate my nose (substitute any other body part)”

“I am so flat.”

These are the “truths” that many, if not all teen girls believe about themselves. Most often these “truths” are not truths, but lies that have grown from a near microscopic-sized seed, planted by someone else, who had had no idea how immense the growth would be.

The growth of that seed results in the decay and destruction of the heart and soul of young and developing young woman. As it’s lies take root in the young lady, it pushes aside and alters the intended growth and development of that young lady. She becomes something that she was never intended to become. She increases in insecurity, she decreases in her understanding of her own abilities and value. She looses her own self in the lie.

Sometimes the far-reaching growth of these lies completely envelopes her heart, and changes the path of her life. Sometimes it hides deep within her, and the cracks it creates in her soul make it difficult for her to live with herself, even though the damage done is not seen by the eyes of anyone around her. Sometimes, it’s damaging overgrowth forces her to look for ways to escape who she thinks she is, and she does things to her body that can damage her and change her life forever.

Teen girls are the masters of comparison. They compare themselves with other girls. They compare themselves with celebrities on the covers of magazines. They compare themselves with girls who have a guys hand to hold.

As I walk the halls of the high school where I work, the church I attend, the malls where I shop, and the house where I live, I see the eyes of the girls who believe the lies. In those eyes I see the insecurities that have taken root from the lies that have been believed … hook, line and sinker.

It breaks my heart to see these broken vessels. Not because they are not beautiful, but because their ability to see and know their own beauty, their own abilities, has been suffocated by the lies.

If I could tell a teen girl anything, it would be that they are a one in a million gift. That the package that they contain, that they are, is of more value than any rare jewel. That, as they live their life as the precious gift that they are created to be, they are empowered to unwrap each layer of their gift, to reveal the purpose, and passion and beauty that only comes from within.

I would tell them : “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. I have loved you with an everlasting love…I hold you in the palm of my hands. In my sight you are precious…do not be afraid I am with you.” Says the Lord God. (Isaiah 43:1-4)

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Sometimes my mouth has a mind that is completely separated from my brain. This particular day was a good case in point.

I work in a Christian High School (as an Educational Assistant). I also work with students who are in the same grade as my younger daughter, so I get to work in classes with students who I have known (as a mom) since these young adults entered kindergarten. When they were in their grade seven year, I worked in their grade as well, while filling in for a co-worker. I know them better than any other grade I have worked in before, and I feel very privileged to walk through high school (I hope) with them.

Sometimes I feel like mom of the grade, because I know them, and their families quite well. I remember some of the ones who had to be pried from their mom on their first day of school. I remember when they had new siblings born to their families, and when loved ones died. I remember when new students joined the group, when they competed in sports, and when they kept me up until 3am the year my daughter insisted that I invite ALL of the girls in her class to her sleep over birthday party (face palm for me for agreeing to that one). I also remember who was nasty to my kid on the playground, and who wiped her tears. These students are all precious to me.

So, on a particular day, early in the work day, the teacher of the first class I was assigned to be in asked a colleague of mine and I if one of us would lead devotions to her grade nine math class. Before my ears had completed the process of hearing and processing her request, my mouth said, “yes.” When my brain heard my voice, I think it wanted to move out. My pulse started racing, my palms got clammy and I experienced what can only be likened to a hot flash.

But, once I sat in front of this class of students, all that mattered to me was sharing the message that has been on my heart for many years. The message of grace.

Over seven years ago, I was at a school event, talking with two men, one about my age and the other in his eighties. We were just chatting, when the subject of heaven came up. The older man got serious, “Heaven is not for me, I’ve been too bad.” His words took me back … he had grown up in a Christian family, gone to Christian school, gone to church all of his life, and he felt that his place in heaven was dependent on his behaviors. Had he not, in eighty plus years of life, not heard of God’s grace? How many Easter services had he sat in? Didn’t he hear, at least once, that Jesus blood is the atonement (payment) for our sins … ALL of our sins?

So, my impromptu devotion for the morning was about this older man. It was about the grace of God, and how HE covers all of our sins. I was able to tell them if there are pious Christian people who make them FEEL that they are not good enough (because of their clothes, or their hair, or the music they listen to, or what ever other ‘important’ outward expression), they are wrong. The reality is that none of us are “good enough” to pass through the gates of heaven, it is only our acceptance of the gift of forgiveness and grace that God offers through the sacrifice of His son, that we are made good enough. I told them that it was that one message that I want them to take through their lives, and into their eighties. That I do not want them to be at the natural end of their lives and think they are not good enough for heaven.

They were respectfully quiet, I just hope their hearts heard this humbly delivered message, from one who hopes deeply that they believe it. And, if they do, my mouth saying yes when my brain felt too insecure, to sharing a devotion with them will be all worth it.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
But now in Christ Jesus
you who once were far away have been brought near
by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-10, 13

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I get to work in a high school … yes, I said “get to”! I also get to work in a few of the classes that my daughter takes.

I have a motherly fondness for many of her friends. Many have been at our home, driven in our vehicles to various events, slept over, made cookies in our kitchen, been cheered on at basketball games by me, and attended countless birthday parties.

I struggle at school with the boys and the girls, and their brand new hormones. I find I watch and listen, and just want to … gag!

I do realize that they are just ‘test driving’ their new thoughts, feelings and awareness. I realize that what they are going through is so very normal and necessary in that age old process known as ‘growing up’. I just wish our society, our culture, did not encourage this process to become so all absorbing all at once.

The girls looking at the boys, and even the boys drooling over the girls can be cute or, as they might say, ‘adorbs’. It is a process of an awakening within them that is starting to burst out into their daily lives. Truly, it is a wonderfilled time in their lives. But, as they grow and mature, their hormones are NOT the best, or the only thing in their lives.

This is also a very important time in their lives for learning, in an academic sense. As important, if not more so at this phase of their lives, is the development and nurture of friendships. This is a great time of life for shooting hoops, all night chat sessions, playing games, dancing to music, and other activities that are surrounded by the peers who a teen calls friends.

My hubby is brilliant (yes, I said that in writing), and that was confirmed for me when he worked as a youth pastor. When a pair of teens in the youth group would start dating he would take them out to lunch, and his conversation with the couple would start with the same question every time, “you WILL break up, and when you do, how will it affect your relationships at youth?” And he was right, because about 98-99% of teen couples do not end up in a lifelong relationship. Should teens invest the majority of their teen years in relationships that are, at best, temporary?

Hubby was really brilliant a number of years ago, as well, when he told our preschool daughter that if she chose to not date in high school, he would buy her a car. This was her choice, not ours! We told her that our hope for her was that she spend her teen years focusing on friends and school, and we were willing to put wheels where our mouth was. But, we left the choice in her hands.

This fall when our eldest daughter got her car, her sister and brother realized that the deal (that we had offered them, as well) was good. All of a sudden, the story they had heard all of their lives, was in view with a happy ending.

And it is a happy ending, beyond the car, because if they take our challenge, they can look back on their high school years as ones of friendship and learning, and those are things that they can take, 100%, into adulthood with them.

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