Saturday, July 21, 2012

Let the spoiling begin?

As I sit here in the Atlanta airport with still more than an hour before my flight to Baltimore boards (I am home now ... just didn't have internet access during my trip), I am contemplating what I have heard from several people these last few days. Knowing I am flying up to meet my first grandchild, most people say something to the effect of, "I hope you have a good time spoiling that baby," or "Be sure to have fun making him mad and then handing him over to Mom and Dad ... you can do that now, you know?"

I know, it's all in jest. I think anyone who has ever even HAD a grandparent knows that grandparenting is a much more enjoyable, much more laid-back "job" than parenting. I have never even laid eyes on my little grandbaby, and I already know that I am going to thoroughly ENJOY this, and that the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is a far different dynamic than that of parents and children. I fully "get" that there is going to be some gloating and lots of "I told you so" smirks as my children move into this new season of life and experience all of the trials and frustrations that we did (and still do). I know I will get that little baby in my arms and have the desire to make sure he has everything he could ever need and want. After all, isn't that what grandmothers are for? Isn’t it a grandparent’s job to spoil their grandchildren rotten?

Is it really?

I had grandparents who didn't spoil me, either materially or by allowing me to “get away with” improper behavior. I don't remember any "thing" specifically given to me by any of my grandparents. I do remember that my Memaw would take me shopping every year for my birthday and that my birthday present was usually a pretty Easter dress. I didn't really have a huge appreciation for dresses when I was younger, but I did enjoy the experience of shopping with her. I don't remember much at all about my father's parents; they always did their own thing and were traveling so often that we didn't really see them that often. I remember my Papaw telling me that he loved having me around because I was the calmest of any of his grandchildren. It "helped" my cause that I was the only girl, I was tiny compared to the boys (even though I was the oldest)  and that my brother and cousins were always loud and rambunctious; Papaw never had an impatient word for his quiet, shy little granddaughter ... yes, it was sort of nice being the only girl, but I knew they didn’t have any “favorites”! No, my grandparents never really "spoiled" me (or any of their other grandchildren, that I know of), but they did give me an amazing example that I plan to follow with my own grandchildren.

I couldn't get away with anything around my grandparents. In fact, my great-grandmother (Mamaw) could see through me better than anyone else in my life. She could tell when I was "tellin' a story", and when I had a bad case of the wiggles. My grandparents showed an intense interest in my life; they always wanted me to be with them; I was never "in the way". They never complained about the messes I made, but rather included me in all of the messy aspects of daily life. I learned to drive a tractor, pick blackberries, weed a garden, prune trees, and make communion bread from my grandparents. I also learned respect from them. I learned to appreciate frugality. I learned what true beauty was, and that it cannot be found in any "thing" this fallen world has to offer. I learned the difference between strength and toughness. I learned when to cry, when to laugh, and that holding one's head high should display confidence rather than conceit.

My parents weren't awful people. They weren't neglectful. They provided well for me and my brother. They didn’t necessarily abdicate my upbringing to my grandparents, but for whatever reason, I just listened more to my grandparents than to my parents. The informal lessons of life weren't as obvious, but they were just as much, if not MORE effective when they came from my grandparents.

I'm not rushing into this grandmothering thing flippantly. I take my "job" as an Omi VERY seriously. My grandchildren (singular now, but I do certainly hope the Lord blesses us with a whole slew of grandchildren!) are not just pretty faces to post pictures of on my wall (either virtual or physical). They aren't trophies for me to parade around for the world to see. They aren't toys for me to play with and then hand back when I get tired of them or when they start acting up. Levi isn't mine to "spoil". In fact, I wouldn't want him to spoil. I don't want my grandchildren to be rotten. Something that is spoiled is not pleasant, and I don't want my relationship with Levi or any of his siblings or cousins to be that of a 'stuff-giver'. I want my grandbabies to have the memories I do of my own grandparents. I want them to be able to look at pictures of me (ugh, I guess that means I will have to let someone TAKE pictures ... eeks) and recall a memory, not a blank. I want to be part of their lives. I want them to know my phone number and be able to dial it like I could my Mamaw's when I was little. I still know that number. I just "dialed" it in my head, three decades later! I want my grandchildren to look forward to spending time with me and to miss me when we’re apart. When they’re older and I have left this life, I want to leave a legacy behind that will influence my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren to desire the truly GOOD things in this life, and I want to be able to be the person for them who shows them what a dedicated Christian lives.

OF COURSE I want them to have that influence from their parents, but by the time my children have married and brought children into this world, my work as parent has pretty much been phased out and I have little say in what kind of environment my grandchildren are raised in. I can give advice, but it's likely that most of it will be ignored. LOL I take on this new role of life with much humility, because I know I will never be perfect. I will never be able to be everything God wants me to be. But I certainly won’t stop trying! I know how powerful my influence can be. No … WILL be. One way or the other, Levi and his future siblings and cousins WILL be influenced by my life. I just want to make sure it’s not a “rotten” influence. So I will boldly say that if my grandbabies are going to be ‘spoiled’, it will not be by me!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Let's get out of the pigsty, folks!

This is not going to be another "Christians vs. 50 Shades/Magic Mike" blog post. I think it's been adequately covered by those wiser and more eloquent than myself. Two I can think of just off the top of my head are over at The Colley House and Melissa Jenna's blog, if you feel so inclined to read them. In fact, I think if you looked hard enough, you could probably find a "Christians vs. ANYTHING" post. We're notorious for jumping on anti-worldview bandwagons. Rightly so, most of the time. There is just too much world in the church, and to be honest with you, we really DO need to be getting our feathers more ruffled about the filth that is surrounding us--and that we're allowing in to infect the church and neuter the message of the Gospel. Yes, you heard that right--NEUTER the message of the Gospel. What do you think it does for Christians to be involved in the filth of this world, when they open their mouths about the saving grace of Christ and the freedom found in obedience to the Will of God? It nullifies their message. It takes the batteries out of their flashlight. It fills the salt shaker with sugar. Sure, people would love to hear a gospel that will get them to Heaven without having to eliminate all the stuff they enjoy ... but that's not 'taking up one's cross, denying one's self' and following Christ. That's fitting God into our little box, tucking in the edges that we don't agree with. It's not true Christianity--it's practical atheism.

Nope, this isn't one of *those* blog posts. I actually want to discuss something that will ruffle some more feathers. It will likely make my adult children (and my mother) cringe. Sorry, but that's just gonna have to happen for a bit. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have to stop talking about the perverted vulgarities of UNHOLY sex as if they were the NORM!!! Yes, I said UNHOLY. No matter what "flavor", sex outside of the God-ordained union of marriage is perverted. Sin is sin. LUST is sin. Whether you are sinning with someone of the same or opposite sex, whether it's in your head, imagined, talked about, glorified, watched passively, acted out or not, it's SIN. What makes it sin? It is perversion from the original intent for something God created to be HOLY. Why are we even having these discussions about what is so obviously across the line? Why are we even discussing the line in the first place? Wanna know what my theory is? 

*Because we are TOO AFRAID to say that sex WITHIN marriage--sex that is HOLY--is also good, right, wholesome, and DESIRABLE!!!* 

Sex has become a "dirty word" among Christians. "Good" Christians don't talk about it, unless they are condemning it. It's glazed-over from pulpits, because we don't want to give people the idea we have hang-ups, but we want to make sure everyone knows they'll go to Hell if they don't purify their minds. We would rather have people shudder and blush and NOT talk about it than to risk the very possibility that we might say something "dirty". There is nothing wrong (in fact, there is everything RIGHT) with a Christian enjoying and desiring a good sexual relationship with his or her spouse! In fact, maybe it's time we turned the tables and started portraying it as healthy and the NORM?

Christians, we can either be silent and accept the world's view of sex as "dirty", or we can be a catalyst to RESHAPE its reputation. Why is it that everyone automatically assumes that discussion of anything sexual is vulgar? It is that attitude right there that makes it difficult for Christians to get help if they need it, from people they respect--because they fear being viewed as vulgar or dirty or sex-obsessed! It is the misconception (that originated from the silence of those who believed and lived otherwise) that married love is somehow nonexistent and boring and dull and a chore that has fueled the media's ball-and-chain portrayal of marriage! We need to break that mold! Somehow non-Christians have gotten the idea that those of us who are Christians are "prudes". Maybe because we portray the life of a follower of Christ as a checklist of do's and don'ts instead of preaching as the writer of Hebrews did to those who had been under the Law--that writer encouraged their fledgling faith by reiterating that what they have now is BETTER!

Why aren't we doing that? 
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