Monthly Archives: April 2014

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? (Your Child’s Potential)

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Will your kids reach their full potential?Part 9

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jer. 29:11 NRSV).

In my last post, (part 8) we read about using word pictures to bring down defenses our children might put up, so we can communicate high value to them. King Solomon did this with his bride because of her insecurity over her looks (Song of Solomon 1:6). Today, we will explore the fourth and last way to convey high value to our children–uncovering qualities they may not know they have in a way that adds to their hope of a special future.

 Highlight Their Potential

 When we know we are good at something we feel more hopeful about our lives. As parents, if we point out those qualities that our children possess it will do the same for them. We are highlighting possible channels for them to travel and explore later. Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we use a pellet stove during the winter months to heat our home. Whenever we come indoors we automatically navigate to the pellet stove for what it provides–warmth. Words that convey high value to our children work like that pellet stove. They provide the needed warmth of a parent’s concern along with the hope of a fulfilling their potential. So, how do we convey words of high value to convey a child’s potential?

 My son, Lawrence, is like his dad. He works well with his hands. As a toddler, we noticed he liked to work with moving things; he had an insatiable desire to know how things were put together and how they functioned. It wasn’t unusual for him to take something apart just to see how it worked. At two, his strong interest in building with Legos began. Each year he mastered several Lego kits progressing through the various levels of difficulty. Before long, he was building complex objects such as fire trucks, towering cranes, Monster trucks, or airplanes just by looking at the pictures. Some of these kits had over 1,000 pieces. We couldn’t keep up with his need to go on to the next challenge. He finished them quickly and what seemed to me, effortlessly. It wasn’t long before he mixed all the Lego pieces together and began designing his own colossal structures. I was amazed at his creativity.

Early on I began with words such as: “Wow! Lawrence, you can really build neat things! God put that in you.” Later, as he moved into his pre-teen years those words became: “Like your dad, you are good at building and creating with your hands and this skill that God gave you will help you find your life’s work.” And so on, you get the idea.

 A Special Future from Words and Nature

 The prophet Jeremiah also spoke words of a special future directed to God’s people in Judah (the southern kingdom). “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 nrsv). God’s people were in exile but Jeremiah’s words brought them confidence, optimism, faith, and hope.

 According to John Trent and Gary Smalley, the authors of The Blessing, God also communicates this special future message through nature. There are numerous “spiritual truths that illustrate the importance of providing a special future for the ones we love.”1 Our four seasons of the year, for example, provide many spiritual lessons, as does small creatures, such as the caterpillar that emerges from its cocoon as a butterfly. Just the transformation process of the caterpillar can be the catalyst for words that can transform a child’s potential into his/her reality.

 When our children were born, God placed them in our care. It is as if He said to us: “This child is mine, but I’m giving her to you–a gift–to cherish and love, to guard, to nurture, and to draw out her potential I place within her.”

 Like me, I know you want the special future that Jeremiah 29:11 speaks about for your children, yes? So, the question is, What will we do with this gift of potential?

Blessings,

Lisa

 Notes

1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 121.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Words of High Value

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Words of high value start at birth.

Words of high value start at birth.

Part 8

Last Thursday, in part 7 we looked at the third element of the blessing by exploring two ways to convey words of high value to our children. The first is to find everyday objects to capture a character trait or physical attribute, such as the nickname “little man” I gave my son, Lawrence, for his small stature (until he hit age 14 and suddenly shot up past his father).  And the second is to match the emotional meaning of the trait you are praising with the object you’ve picked.  I  used daughter’s name of Megan and associated it with the nutmeg spice (see Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Part 7).

 Today we will use the third way that authors John Trent and Gary Smalley in The Blessing describe to convey words of high value to our children. They call this “Using Word Pictures That Unravel Defenses.” Sometimes we see this as some sort of insecurity.

 Use Word Pictures to Bring Down Barricades

 When people put up a wall to hide behind their particular insecurity, we have to be creative so our words will actually mean something to our children. The authors of The Blessing, Trent and Smalley, use the example of the Shulamite woman in chapter 1 of Song of Solomon.

She worked in the vineyards during the day and the hot sun tanned her skin.1 Her dark complexion wasn’t desired by most men of her day. The fair and soft skin of the city girls was considered more desirable. She says, “Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards…” (Song of Solomon 1:6 nrsv). Here, our Shulamite woman was putting herself down, saying she didn’t possess external beauty and asked the king not to even look at her. She felt insecure because she didn’t look like the women in Jerusalem. But, if you read Song of Solomon you’ll see that the girl’s image of herself changes. Just flip over to Chapter 2, verse 1, and she now describes herself as “the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” What changed?

 Solomon used word pictures that conveyed high value to her as a way to break down her insecurity over her looks. He wanted her to know that even with her dark skin, he valued her anyway. He even liked her tanned skin! He did this enough that with each declaration of her value to him through the word picture associated with beauty, he expunged any traces of lingering negative self-talk (her defense). Just look at how she felt about herself after they were married. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:1).

 This is just one example for insecurity, but it can work for other defenses our children might put up. The point is most people appreciate the association of word pictures as they tend to linger in our hearts and brain longer. Jesus knew this, too, as he used word pictures to “communicate both praise and condemnation through his teachings and his parables.”2 Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepard over His sheep, the Light of the World, and the Bread of Life. And He wrote with His finger in the sand in John 8. The Bible doesn’t say what He wrote or drew with His fingers, but perhaps He spelled out forgiveness in the sand because the scribes and Pharisees had just brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. Now that would of been a word picture the Pharisees wouldn’t soon forget!

 Words of high value that combine the use of images are what unlock hearts of unbelief, doubt, distrust, or skepticism. Jesus was unconventional; He thought outside the box and His teachings and ways did more for people then just speaking from a street corner.

 What ways can you think of using an image to attach high value to your children. We will cover the final way to attach high value to our words on Wednesday. If you have used these ways to convey high value to your children, I would enjoy reading your story.

 Notes

1 Bible Note for Song of Solomon 1:6, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World   Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 109.

 

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Words That Attach High Value

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Part 7

What high-value word picture have you attached to your children?

What high-value word picture have you attached to your children?

 “To value something means to attach great importance to it,” says, John Trent and Gary Smalley in their book, The Blessing. If you look at the root word for blessing it conveys a double meaning. The first one is that it means to “bow the knee” and second, to “add value.”1 John Trent and Gary Smalley put it this way: “In relationship to God the word came to mean “to adore with bended knees.”2 Wow! What an illustrative picture of what Christ-followers desire God to mean to them. In my last post, we read about our words and how they matter. Words can bless or curse or bring life or death.

  As parents, when we pray and ask God to bless our children, what are we really asking God to do? Look at Psalm 103. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (nrsv). The phrase, “bless the Lord” are words that attach high value. We’re conveying to God that He is valuable and therefore worthy to be praised on bended knee. The same concept applies to our family members, but for the sake of this series, our children.

  In the United States, bowing the knee is rarely done. But in Old Testament times, bowing was a mark of respect and honor, something that was expected in the presence of an important person.3

Word Pictures that Convey High Value

The Bible is full of word pictures to describe an Old Testament figure. Today, we do the same. In our family business, we have one employee who is a military veteran. His short stocky muscular build has earned him the honored nickname, “Shrek.” If you look at Joseph in Genesis 49:22, he’s described as a “fruitful bough” by a spring. Joseph was indeed fruitful. His long list of descendants include Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land, Deborah, Gideon, and Jephthah, all judges of Israel (Judges 4.4; 6.11, 12; 11.11) and Samuel, a distinguished prophet (1Samuel 3:19). Another example is Jacob. He selected word pictures for each of his sons. “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing” (Gen. 49:28 NRSV). Notice Jacob said, “suitable blessing.” He customized each son’s character with a personal word picture. His son, Judah is described as a lion’s whelp (cub). A lion was a picture of strength. It was also a symbol of royalty in the ancient Near East.. 4

Use Everyday Objects

 There are two ways to attach a word picture to your child that conveys high value. According to authors of The Blessing, Trent and Smalley the first way is to use an everyday object. The idea is to pick something that is familiar that captures a character quality or a physical feature inherent in your children. For my daughter, Megan, I gave her the nickname, “Sweetpea.” She was a tiny baby when she was born weighing just 5 lbs. 9 oz. and she was the most content baby, a fact that as a first time mom I was grateful for. For my son, Lawrence, we called him, “little man.” He was small for his age (both sides of our families are short and stocky), but I later realized we missed the mark. At 14, he had a huge growth spurt and now stands at 5 ft. 11 inches, taller than all of our living relatives combined (possibly from a recessive gene from my grandfather – the only tall one on both sides of our families).

  Match the Emotional Meaning of the Trait You Are Praising with the Object You’ve Picked.

  The second way Trent and Smalley show us how to attach a word picture to your children that conveys high value is to match the emotional meaning of the trait you are praising with the object you’ve picked. It just so happened that our second nickname we occasionally called our daughter, Megan, was a word-play on her name.  As a teen she hated learning to cook; she preferred to bake. As most little girls do, she loved baking alongside me. So, when I began making cookies and pies that called for the spice nutmeg, I flipped the word and began calling her “megnut” whenever we baked. Nutmeg has a nice and sweet aroma to it and it matched her sweet and sometimes “nutty” personality.

 If you haven’t already done so, think of several word pictures for each of your children that conveys a message of high value unique to each one.

  On Monday, we’ll look at two additional ways Trent and Smalley of The Blessing teach us to attach high value to our children through word pictures. You won’t want to miss this. It’s a word picture that helps us to communicate high value to people who put up defenses such as insecurity and using word pictures to highlight a child’s potential.

  Notes

 1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 96.

 2 Ibid.

 3 Ibid. 99

 4 Ibid. 102

 

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Words that Matter

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Part 6

Do your kids sense your approval?

Do your kids sense your approval?

Proverbs 8:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (NRSV).

Earlier we read that to step towards someone is life and to step away is death. The spoken word can either be words that bring blessing or words that bring cursing. And if there aren’t any words from parents that communicate love and acceptance, children will assume they aren’t worthy of words of blessing.  This is tragic. They will end up wondering in life if they really mattered.

God must think highly of the spoken word because He gave us the Bible, His Word. But He also gave us His son, Jesus. His Word “became flesh and lived among us,” (John 1:14). If God communicated His blessing to us through His words, then so should we. James, Jesus’ brother describes our spoken words two ways.

If you’re a parent, your words, like a ship’s rudder steer your children in a certain direction. “Though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs” (James 3:4 NRSV).

Words carelessly spoken can do terrible damage. Words that speak death can divide people and relationships. Parents who speak critical words can sear pain straight to their souls, leaving scars for life. On the other hand, words that speak life, bring the blessing full circle and can propel children to a special future.

James also describes a careless or critical tongue as a fire. “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell” ( James 3:5-6 nrsv).  Notice the last part of that verse­–“the cycle of nature.” In most cases, if parents lack the ability to convey words of acceptance and love, it is usually because they didn’t get them from their parents. This is why speaking words that bring blessing has to be deliberate. By putting off sharing words of love and acceptance till someday down the road, may never happen. Leaving unspoken words that bless is leaving the opportunity to chance.  As God was deliberate in sending his Son, Jesus to be the Word in flesh, we also need to be deliberate in sending words of love and approval to our childen.

John Trent and Gary Smalley say in their book, The Blessing: “Words of blessing should start in the delivery room and continue throughout life. Yet the “lack of time” and the motto, “I’ll have time to tell them tomorrow,” rob the children of a needed blessing today.”  But words that speak life and blessing can literally transform a child and breathe life into that soul. It can even change the course of direction for that child.

Solomon, in all his wisdom also said, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it” (Proverbs 3:27 nrsv). Let his words be your source of encouragement to communicate words of love and acceptance to your children, family members, and even our friends.

There is much more on this topic from Trent and Smalley’s book, The Blessing. I encourage you to read the book.

If you are a parent that is deployed, your words of blessing can still be conveyed even if you aren’t home to speak them yourself. See how on Thursday when we’ll explore the “how” and “what” to say when conveying words of blessing. The next element of the blessing is attaching high value to our words.

Don’t forget to download my 15-Day Devotional that accompanies my soon-to-be-released book, “Faith Steps for Military Families.” Just enter your name and email address in the bonus box at the top right hand side of this page and you’ll have access to the devotional. Thanks for coming. I invite you to leave a comment.

Lisa  

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Hugs Anyone?

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Did you miss the parental blessing?Part 5

“Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son” (Genesis 27:26 NRSV).

Growing up with divorced parents, I saw my dad just a couple of times a year. I lived in Kansas and he lived in California. However, the distance between us would make one think that we weren’t that close. But actually, we were. I think the reason for that was two-fold: we both enjoyed great conversation when we visited and he was affectionate. My dad understood the value of a hug and words that conveyed approval. He often put his hands on my shoulders when standing in line, posing together for a picture, or when introducing me to his friends or coworkers. And I always got a big embrace when he met me at the airport or when he was sending me back home. Even though my parents were divorced, his appropriate and meaningful touch is one of my best reflections as a child of divorce.

In this on-going series about the blessing, we’ll learn the first of five elements that make up the blessing. Today, we will look at the first one: Meaningful and Appropriate Touch.

 The bible says in Genesis 27:26 “Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son” (NRSV). The act of physically touching someone to bestow the family blessing was common and a vital aspect of the ancient Hebrew culture.

 God didn’t give us hands just for working, but to also show meaningful approval, acceptance and love to our children. Jesus knew the importance of touch. He used His touch to heal people. And He also knew who needed His touch the most–the outcasts of society. They were deprived of touch. Moved by compassion, Jesus sought out these untouchables and did the unthinkable. He reached out his hands and touched them. Just ponder on that for a moment. Think about how long it may have been for some of the lepers to feel someone’s touch, let alone the touch of Jesus. Just think how it made them feel to know that someone cared, accepted and approved of them– simply from Jesus’ loving touch.

 Then there was the children…children were often treated as second-class citizens in Jesus’ day, but Jesus didn’t view them with that perspective. “Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me’”(Mark 9:36-37 NRSV).

 We all need meaningful touch in our lives and when we don’t get it, we suffer. Children with parents who show very little affection through meaningful and appropriate touch are at a much greater risk of going through life longing for that embrace.

 Are you giving this vital component to your children? Did you receive appropriate and meaningful touch in your early life? If not, in what way did it impact your life? As always, I’m eager to hear your story in the comment section below.

 Here’s what I’ve got for you on Monday. We’ll take a look at the second element of the blessing. Anyone want to guess what it is? Don’t forget to download my bonus item. My 15-Day Devotional that lets you follow along in my book chapter by chapter. Just enter your name and email in the box at the top right.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Part 4

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Did you miss the parental blessing?
Did you miss the parental blessing?

 

Are You Damming Up Your Relationships? 

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.” Deu. 30:19

In my last blog post, (Part 3 of “Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? – Making a Choice”), we read about a decision we all must make.  If we choose to move toward God and others, we add life to our relationships. “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19 nrsv). If we chose to step away from God and others, we’re choosing death. Authors of The Blessing, by John Trent and Gary Smalley tell us: “The idea is that death is stepping away from others, from life, from what we have built or shared with others.”1 But there’s more to Deuteronomy 30:19. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses…” (NRSV). Today, we’ll look at the idea of blessings and curses. This understanding was profound for me in light of my upbringing and how I would parent my own children.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you probably already know that Jesus is our ultimate blessing. There is no other blessing more valuable. When we highly value someone, we give them honor and our hearts desire to bless them. Liken the Hebrew word for “bless” to that of “bowing the knee.”2 When meeting a king or queen today it is customary to bow before them in order to give them their due honor. The word “honor” also has a similar word meaning. It carries the idea of adding weight or value to someone.3 Here is again a portrait from John Trent and Gary Smalley to give us a word picture:

I biblical times, you didn’t just hand someone a coin with a specific denomination stamped on it as we do today. In Old Testament times, a coin might carry an inscription or even a picture of a ruler or someone of great value. But the way you determined how much it was worth was to put it on a scale. The greater the weight, the higher the value.4

When we choose to bless someone we choose to add value to their lives. When our loved one returns home from deployment we honor them in their long-awaited return. We wait pier-side with colorful hand-made banners that shout, “Welcome Home, Dad!” or “We Missed You, Mom!” We celebrate their return by going out to dinner as a family or we clear our busy schedules to spend those first few days together. When we welcome home our loved one in this fashion, what we’re really doing is blessing him or her.

 It stands only to reason then that when we step away from those we have relationships with we’re “subtracting” the good, or the things that would add life for them.5 The word for “curse” in the Deuteronomy passage means “trickle” or “muddy stream” caused by a dam or obstruction upstream.6 We all know that water is necessary for life. Think of those blessings we can choose to give others as the life-sustaining water. Anytime we choose to obstruct blessings to others, what we’re really doing is putting a dam in place and withholding what others need in order to live well. Do we withhold that hug, or refrain from speaking those words that convey affirmation and acceptance? Flowing water symbolizes movement, life, and blessings, but water damned up, unable to flow symbolizes death, and curses.

Unfortunately, for some of us, there are people in our lives that always blocked up the dam. They withheld what was supposed to bless us as children or young adults. While Jesus went about His work on earth doing His Father’s will, part of that will was to bless those who were outcasts. He gave them what had previously been blocked-those life changing words to change their future, or that physical touch to convey He valued them. He stepped towards those others stepped away from and cursed.

Our second choice then, after choosing life, is to choose to bless our loved ones. What do you have damned up that needs releasing in order to bless that someone? What can you add into someone’s life today that conveys your love and acceptance?

There are five elements to the blessing in John Trent and Gary Smalley’s book, The Blessing. On Thursday’s post we’ll get into the first element of the blessing. See you then! If you have a story to share, please reply below. Thank you! 

Notes:

1 John Trent and Gary Smalley.  The Blessing (Nashville, TN., Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 36.

2 Ibid. 37.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid. 37-38.

5 Ibid. 38.

6 Ibid.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing – Making A Choice

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Which choice are you making?

Which choice are you making?

Part 3

“I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Oh, that you would choose life…” Deuteronomy 30:19 TLB.

 The ancient Israelites had to do it when they left Egypt. Ruth did it as well when she followed her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem. And Rahab also did it when she allowed Joshua’s spies into her home in Jericho prior to its invasion and ultimate victory by Joshua. What did all three of these people do? They made a choice. And in each of these situations it was a life or death choice.

 God is a God of choices. Think about it. He doesn’t force us to follow Him, but if we do, He provides blessings and we get to enjoy them! When we make a choice for Him, we choose life. “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deu. 30:19 NRSV). Choosing life brings His blessings. Think of life in this passage with the idea of movement.1 Authors of The Blessing, John Trent and Gary Smalley explain it this way: “In other words, things that are alive are things that are moving. Specifically, they’re moving toward someone or something. So the first choice we have is to move toward God and toward others. When we do that, we add life to our relationships.”2

 Deuteronomy 30:19 shows us that God desires for us to do things His way–to choose life, but he does let us decide whether to follow him or reject him, but this decision really does boil down to a life or death concern. The word death also carries with it the concept of movement.3 Its literal meaning is “to step away.”4 This is conveyed through the action of stepping away from people, relationships, and other facets of life. When one or more family members takes a different path and moves away from the home relationships the process of decay in the relationship begins. But, by choosing life you do more than just step towards others, you also add, or pour blessings into their lives.

 We have the freedom to make so many different choices in the span of our lives, but God reveals the best of all choices–choosing Him which leads to choosing life. Time is short. Choose life in Him.

On Monday, we’ll explore the second part of Deuteronomy 30:19, to bless or to curse. Please share your thoughts on today’s topic below. Thank you for visiting!

 Notes

1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 36.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.