Two Learning Experiences In One Day
by JohnBagwell
 Faith & Family
Dec 21, 2011 | 3470 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

In our house, we have slowly begun to raise Alabama fans.  We do not sit down and educate our daughters about how important it is to root for Alabama, but they pick it up.  They see us watch the football games, see me cheer when one team does something I like, and hear me groan when the other team does something I do not like.  "Which team are we cheering for," my daughter will ask, "the red one or the orange one?"  She is learning to love what I love not because I am sitting down trying to teach her to love a thing, she naturally tends to gravitate toward areas of my life that occupy my time.

parent teach childrenWhat we want to teach our children about life is not something they learn, what we actually practice in life is what teaches our children whether we want to or not.  This was my first learning experience: If what you do teaches your children, what are you teaching them about God, about the Bible, about a relationship with God?

I really enjoy the tablet PC I received for my birthday last month.  The functionality it has for work, reading books, surfing the web, sending and receiving emails, and even the games can really occupy a good bit of time.  However, I recently heard a message about how what we do teaches our children, and my mind went to the times when I was playing a game on my tablet PC and how quickly my daughters came to me, peering over my shoulder, watching me . . . and learning.

"This is what I love, this is what is important to me" is the message I was communicating.  Whether I like it or not, that message was coming in loud and clear to them.  The good thing is, I don't have to communicate that message.  I can change that message, simply by changing what they see.

parent teach children bibleEarlier this week I sat down and brought up a Bible verse on the tablet, and without me calling for them my daughters had quickly settled next to me, watching me, and began asking me what I was doing.  I had picked  Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."  I wanted to teach them something about how they talk to each other as sisters, and in an effort to teach them through example, they taught me.

"Right now I would like for you to think of something nice to say."  My oldest thought for a moment and said, "I like you because you're cute."  To which my youngest replied, "I don't like to be cute," with a small frown.  I looked at my oldest, "You just said something kind and nice, but she didn't hear it that way.  Like the verse, we need to know to answer every person we meet, which means we need to know how to talk to people so they will understand what we mean.  Can you think of another way to say what you mean so she will understand and like what you said?"

parent teach children2After a few moments of back and forth communications between my two daughters, both having found ways to speak kindly to each other, I turned to my youngest and asked, "So, what did she say to you that was kind?"  The response came, "Uh, I don't remember."  I told the oldest to repeat what she had said, and began to think about the two lessons I had just learned.

Sometimes we speak to our wives, our children, and other people in ways we believe are good and kind, but they don't always hear it that way.  When they take offense, the tendency is to get defensive instead of modifying our speech.  As well, even when a good message does get across to someone, it is usually quickly forgotten.  So, we should all learn to speak more effectively at speaking kind words, and then learn to repeat that message as often as possible.

This was my second learning experience: How would you respond to someone who had learned to speak kindly to you in an effective way, and repeatedly did so over and over again affirming and reaffirming good things about you?

EMERGENCY!!
by JohnBagwell
 Faith & Family
Dec 06, 2011 | 2415 views |  0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I had just arrived home from a business trip and pulled up into the driveway.  My wife was waiting in the carport outside, when just as I opened my car door my oldest daughter came running . . . with fear on her face.  "Mom! Come quick!"  My wife went inside and I just let her go handle it as I grabbed my stuff from the car and headed into the house.  I could hear some whimpering from the back of the house, and so I followed the sounds.

emergencyIn the bathroom my wife was pressing a wet wash cloth on the mouth of my youngest daughter while the oldest just stood there looking pale and worried.  Whatever had happened, blood was definitely involved, and the oldest was obviously feeling guilty and responsible.  Shaking off the exhaustion from hours of travel, I asked calmly, "What happened?"

What ensued was an animated and worried explanation by my oldest daughter of how she accidentally slammed the door to the bathroom into the face of her younger sister who was busy being nosey while my oldest was trying to get some privacy.  "Tell her you're sorry."  My oldest apologized.  "Guess you will leave her alone when she needs to use the bathroom from now on won't you?"  My youngest nodded.

huggingI hugged my oldest, telling her that everything will be fine, and that she was not in trouble.  I believed her when she told her story, not so much because she is not capable of lying, but that she has a home-grown fear of the consequences of lying that far outweigh any fear of discipline for whatever she has done.  I then went to my youngest, picked her up, and just hugged her, too.

Within 30 minutes, it was as if the incident had never happened, and life restarted in our house with our little family.  Thing is, such small emergencies are much bigger than most men realize.  If I had over-reacted, I very well could have wounded the spirit of my oldest.  Ignore it completely, and the youngest would be left to wonder if she mattered at all.  I'm not saying I handled the situation perfectly, or even the best way possible, but I handled it keeping both of my daughters in mind.

This was not a medical emergency, it was an emergency of priorities.  Your children need to know that they matter to you.  No matter how big or small the incident, when things go wrong in their lives they want to know you care enough to take some time out for them.  If my children had been boys, I might have handled it differently, but with a household full of females, a slap on the back and a "shake it off" simply would not be good enough here.

father daughter smilesWhether it is a broken toy, some hurt feelings, a skinned knee, or a busted lip, your kids will come to you with all sorts of emergencies.  Many of them will not require more than a few minutes of your attention, but those moments are so very important.

I think that a lot of kids who grow up starved for attention did not come to that point all at once.  Rather, it was the missed moments of small emergencies that accumulated over time, and eventually these kids learn that only the most egregious actions will ever warrant attention, and so they go there.

To keep from having those really big emergencies that are self-inflicted by your children, take advantage of the small emergencies to give them attention and show you really care.  What small emergencies, what opportunities to show your children you care are passing you by?

What If . . .
by JohnBagwell
 Faith & Family
Nov 21, 2011 | 2682 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I think everyone pretty much understands "The Butterfly Effect".  There was even a movie made about it.  In short though, small actions and decisions, whimsical afterthoughts even, a glance in one direction instead of another, a spontaneous decision to do something you normally would not do, can all have repercussions far beyond what we may see or intend.  Some for good, and others not so good.

As I thought about this, I stopped to wonder how much of our lives does God really care about.  You may have heard it said that God does not really care who wins football games, what leg you choose to puts your pants on first in the morning, or whether you choose to listen to the radio instead of roll down the window on the way to work.  However, and follow me here, are we not all spiritual beings?

DecisionsWe say we understand that there is a spiritual battle that wages around us, yet most Christians I would guess live 99% of their lives without even thinking about the spiritual implications of their every day lives.  What's more, the few moments Christians do think about their spiritual lives are spent in more of a dis-associative moment of reflection or moment of silent thought in prayer that loses it's bearing on the "real world" the very moment they get on with their day.

We are made of spiritual material, spoken into existence by a spiritual God from a spiritual realm.  Hebrews 11:3 "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."  The physical world around us, and even our physical bodies are governed by rules created by that spiritual realm - rules which can be broken by regular people just like you and me as evidenced by Peter walking on water, and other miracles performed by men in the Bible.  How is this possible?  Because we are spiritual beings!  Decisions and actions in the spiritual realm have effects which are felt in the physical realm we are more familiar with.

What these things all have in common is a genuine faith in that spiritual realm.  All it took was tapping into the spiritual power God has placed in each of us, as God lives in us, through faith.  Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

the little thingsGo back to the Old Testament and study up on the directions God gave for the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the physical rules God gave the people to help govern their spiritual lives, and even the directions for making the clothes of the priests.  Read in the New Testament about how not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing, and that even the number of hairs on your head are numbered.  Now, try to tell me God is not aware of the smallest details in our lives, and if aware, that He does not care.

What if . . . every decision we make in life has spiritual implications much like the butterfly effect in the physical world?  What if  . . . the spiritual battle that ceaselessly rages around us is also subtly influencing us in the small decisions we make each and every moment of every day?

Would it not be more important then to seek guidance and wisdom daily?  To be in touch with God constantly?  1Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."  Acts 17:11  "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

We check email every day, catch up on news every day, make and/or receiver phone calls every day, yet most of us cannot be bothered to make contact with God through prayer and Bible study every day.  The result, we live a life 99% focused on the world around us, and miss the 99% of the spiritual battle being waged around us.

minefieldIgnorant of the dangers we face, we walk through the minefield of our everyday spiritual battlefields, taking wounds we do not understand nor see, and wounding others in ways we do not perceive.  The effect is that the spiritual casualty rate in our churches, homes, and marriages just continues to skyrocket ever upwards, and everyone is blindly trying to figure out why, looking for physical responses to a spiritual cause.

In light of this, how much more important is it for us as men and leaders of our homes to make spiritually informed, wise, and correct decisions?  How will the decisions you make impact the people around you spiritually, with effects in this physical world?

Reposted from www.MenRising.com

Simply Magic
by JohnBagwell
 Faith & Family
Nov 14, 2011 | 1872 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
It was years in the making.  Conversations here and there, watching the girls get another year older, finances beginning to work out, and then the offer we could not refuse led to a decision . . . we were going to Disney World!!  We made the announcement to our daughters exactly 79 days before we would be leaving, and the wait was excruciatingly slow.

Finally, THE day arrived, and on November 4th, off we went on our little adventure.  I had never been to Disney World, so at first, I was a little taken back.  Where are all the "thrill rides" that are the hallmark attractions of other theme parks??  I understood all the Disney characters being everywhere, but I guess I was expecting more.

Then it happened.  My littlest girl met Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty to the rest of you), and the magic happened for her.  When it happened for her, it clicked for me too, because then I was able to start seeing everything through her eyes, and instantly I was stunned and in awe of everything around me.

Throughout the rest of the next week we visited the four main theme parks, (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot) and each had its own little bit of magic to add to the experience.  That word, experience, became what defined the adventure for all of us.  Disney World was not a destination or a journey, it was an immersive EXPERIENCE that only really works when done through the eyes of a child.

My greatest magical moment happened for me personally when I saw "Illuminations" - the fireworks, laser-light, fountain, and fireworks show that happens every night at Epcot.  I had heard about this before, music and fireworks, but the experience was so much greater than I could have ever imagined.

Through the eyes of my children, their smiles, their laughter, and their wonder I was able to see and hear and experience things I had never seen, heard, or experienced before.  What made it even better is that we did it together, as a family, and to sum it all up I would have to say it was simply magic.
Give Way
by JohnBagwell
 Faith & Family
Nov 01, 2011 | 2774 views |  0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Recently, on a business trip, my wife and I had an occasion to visit the island of Bermuda via a cruise.  After the trip, I have come away with a very firm belief that everyone should have an occasion to take such business trips every now and again.  The trip was sponsored by the company I work for and a distributor we do business with, so it was an all-expenses-paid business business trip at that.

Out of my mind and out of the country was a great relaxing getaway.  However, being the first time my wife and I had ever been on a cruise, I wasn't sure exactly what to do once we arrived in Bermuda.  I had an idea though.  "Rent a motor-scooter" which sounded good, until everyone working on the cruise ship indicated in very kind sing-song voices that this was a "bad idea" and that people could "get hurt" doing such things, which is disturbing to hear from someone smiling broadly at you.

A little research told me why they seemed so concerned.  The island is British owned, so everyone drives on the other side of the road from what we are used to here in the USA.  I figure it's no big deal, and decide to rent the scooter anyway.  It turned out to be the right decision as we were able to go anywhere at any time on the island without waiting for buses and taxis along with the other 3,000 passengers who did not choose the scooter option.

What I remember most though about the driving part was having to concentrate very hard at intersections.  I'm coming up on the left side, and want to turn right, which means I will make a wide right to get in the left lane, and watch for traffic coming from my left in that lane.  It was a bit confusing, but what turned out to be a little more stressful were the round-about.

These circular road convergences circled around clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, and you still had to remember to stay left, while also watching from the right this time.  To help you out though, there in the middle of the road, instead of the familiar "YIELD" were the painted words "GIVE WAY" to indicate that ignorant folk like myself, namely tourists, were to give way to oncoming turtles, or birds, or anything that looked remotely like it was coming my way in my lane.

My caution did not go unnoticed by the very friendly patient islanders who kindly reminded me it was my turn to go by tooting their horns in a friendly fashion.  I can imagine they just love us tourists on motor-scooters.

When we talk about our experience back home, I am reminded by the different words used on the island for "YIELD" and think of how apt they are.  Most people understand that Yield means to let other, oncoming traffic go first, but the words "Give Way" can mean something a little different.

When we are told to "yield yourselves unto God" (Romans 6:13) it doesn't just mean that we are to allow God to work as though He is coming through our lives for a moment.  The "give way" tends to lend more, because when you give way, you are giving up your right to decide to move forward to someone else.  As it pertains to God, when we are encouraged to give way, what God wants from us is to substitute His way for our way.

Too many times though, we try to get God to come around to our line of thinking.  We know what we want and how we want it done.  Just listen to the typical "God do this or that" prayers of the average Christian.  If we are to be truly yielded to God, though, we must be willing to give way to His will, whatever it may be.

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