28/08/2012

Lessons in Friendship

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:08 am by The Water Bearer

Something I find particularly heartbreaking is when either one of my daughters comes home from school distressed after an incident involving someone they thought was a friend.

It is just awful to view the sorrow in their gorgeous big brown eyes, and the damp eyelashes as evidence of tears shed. I want so desperately to protect my girls from repeating my mistakes, and having to learn the ‘hard way’ about the truths of friendship, yet I realise they still need to learn for themselves in order for these lessons to stick with them throughout life.

I may be slightly biased here but I have tried to teach my girls to treat others with respect and how they would like to be treated in return. Their faithful spirit is evident in they way they treat most people, they want to be forgiving and to believe a ‘problem friend’ is capable of changing into a ‘decent friend’. So they keep putting themselves back in the firing line, realising a little more each time that some friends just continue to mistreat them.

I wonder how long it will take them to firmly value healthy friendships and avoid toxic ones? I was bitten over a thousand times before I realised I had to stop putting myself in the path of destructive, unhealthy relationships.

We parents can aim to keep balanced influence over who our children befriend to some extent, by deciding who we encourage them to spend time with for play dates and sleep overs etc.

Mostly I feel it is so important to be invested in discussions about the experiences they have had with others, and share your own experiences with them.

I try not to be too judgmental, but this can be hard when your perspective has been somewhat tainted by painful memories, and there are many variables to consider when teaching my girls the reasoning I try to apply to my own friendships. I find my self saying things like…

  • Give everyone a chance; Remember that everyone has inner angels and inner enemies.
  • Be yourself and respectfully resist things you would prefer avoiding. (i.e. Don’t be a doormat)
  • Be truthful and loyal and keep Godly principles in mind.
  • Learn to enjoy your own company so you don’t rely too heavily on friendships.
  • Avoid those who throw emotional tantrums when you set up your own boundaries, this is manipulation, stand firm if someone tries it on you.
  • A true friend will respect your boundaries and you need to respect theirs.
  • Try to be aware and keep control of your own possible emotionally manipulative behaviour.
  • Observe how others handle tough situations and whether you admire them or not and why. Consider this when listening to their advice.
  • Ask yourself if they are honest with you and not just tell you what you want to hear.
  • Consider if they encourage you to reach your full potential, that they don’t hold you back with avoidance, distractions and unmotivated tendencies.
  • If they load you up with their problems but refuse to handle them well, take a big step back and don’t get emotionally involved in their issues.
  • If you view them mistreating anyone, you can be sure they will mistreat you as well at some point in time, whether you find out about it or not.
  • If they purposely hurt you, tell them respectfully that you are hurt by their actions.
  • If they can admit how hurtful they were and sincerely apologise, then give them another chance.
  • If they don’t sincerely apologise, then be polite and continue to treat them with respect but keep your distance and your heart protected.
  • If someone is out-rightly cruel and betrays your heart in a serious way, even after an apology, offer forgiveness yet keep your heart guarded, and choose carefully your future encounters with them.

I make a point of mentioning sincere apologies, as I find it impossible to accept a false apology these days; ‘Sorry’ is a word meant to express the ‘sorrow’ of regrettable events, yet it is not a sincere apology unless it is accompanied by, a few other elements, such as:

1. Acceptance of their accountability and the role they played, without placing blame elsewhere.

2. Acknowledgment of your suffering.

3. Agreeing to stop the action or behaviour they are apologising for.

4. Understanding of your guarded heart toward them afterwards.

I have encouraged my girls to share their stories of friendship and betrayal in their prayer journals, so they may look back and reflect to gain a better perspective. I also encourage them to ask God to bring them a trustworthy friend, who will value the time they share as much as each other.

A friend can be such a strong influence as to who we grow up to be, which road we take to get there, and how successful a journey it is. Some will encourage a hard and faulty road, while others will encourage goodness of character, loyalty and healthy companionship. These are the qualities I suggest my girls consider when deciding who to share this journey of life with. I pray fervently for God to keep His hand on them and I trust Him to guide and protect them. I understand the pains of life are the building blocks of a solid foundation of learning and self-awareness and I ask Him to help me be the best example of a Godly parent as I can be when sharing friendship advice with them.

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22/08/2012

Random Acts and A Blessed Birthday Buzz*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:32 am by The Water Bearer

Every year birthday’s roll around and every year they pass by. Some are a gathering of family and friends, some are a day of spoiling with presents, some are filled with adventures and outings, some are celebrated with parties and indulgence, some are simply skipped over uneventfully. They all come, and they all go. I have a hard time remembering most of those past birthday’s …. Don’t you?

However, I have a feeling I will remember this birthday for many years to come. I am still buzzing from it…

I am blessed by a wonderful life, truly. I have a fabulous family and wonderful cherished friends, time has proven to me their love, through their acceptance, loyalty, compassion, help in times of need, encouragement, forgiveness, apologies, companionship and the like. I have Health, Faith, & Love, and I have many more ‘things’ than I will ever need.. I could go on…but I know ‘Gag’ right! 😉

So, God guided me to give back….

After reading this post by a fellow blogger, I was inspired, actually that is an understatement. Seeing this list gave me heaps of ideas of how to share joy and kindness with people from my community.

I sent an email to family and friends asking for them not to buy me a gift this year. I told them I would be spending the day doing Random Acts of Kindness and if they wanted to get involved then great, just know I am passing on all gifts to others.

My Husband and I and our 2 gorgeous girls spent an amazing day together. We planned enough Random Acts to cover one for each year of my life but it ended up being more, thanks to all those who contributed.

We started the day with a family prayer thanking the Lord for His abundance of love and blessings to us, and asking for His guidance to those who needed these acts of kindness the most.

With that we were out the door….

I can’t even begin to describe the joy that came from seeing the smiles on peoples faces and the sparkle in their eyes, although some we hid from (like the man who’s fuel we paid for).

I loved the look on the face of the gorgeous teenage boy who was more than shocked by this crazy lady running up to give him an Itunes voucher, we chased him because he raised his hand in thanks as we stopped the car to let him cross at a zebra crossing. I was overcome by his unexpected manners.

The volunteers at the Salvation Army enjoyed their muffins perfectly timed for morning tea, along with bags of donated books, clothes and shoes.

The police lady asked “Are you sure?’ when I handed her a box of warm doughnuts along with my gratitude for her service to others.

The lady at the ‘Information Counter’ in the local shopping centre had the most amazing sparkle in her eyes for receiving a simple coffee voucher and a thank you for her constant helpfulness.

We became hungry to find that sparkle in the eyes of others, it was so addictive! 

We gave a Coffee Club voucher to every security guard and cleaner we saw, thanking them for keeping our suburb a nicer place to live.

We gave out gift cards to people doing their weekly shopping and surprised small children with helium balloons.

We gave a beautiful lady a voucher to buy food for her seeing eye dog and I was not prepared for her reaction “You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today” she said and hugged me tight for a very long time, I left her with tears streaming down my cheeks.

It warmed our hearts to watch our children explaining their gift to all these random people, they thoroughly enjoyed the day as well, we are all still buzzing.

Our motive was simple…

“God has blessed us so much in our life so we want to pass that on to others. You are special and appreciated and loved from above. May God bless you as much as He has us!”

There were other acts, I won’t explain them all, If you would like more ideas please visit this post. I just wanted to share that it was a truly wonderful day, one which I wasn’t planning on writing about, I just can’t shake the hope that someone else may join me in feeling this much love and joy! I hope you are inspired to try this for yourselves. You will never regret it! Please share your Random Acts stories with me in the comments section, I would love to hear of them.

Opening presents is nice and all, and indulging on food and drink and a good time is fun, but I tell you this, it doesn’t even come close to how wonderful it felt to engage lovingly with others, and to give, and to be thankful! God is So Good! Praise His Name!

14/08/2012

Fighting against the Sexual Tsunami!

Posted in Family, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:59 am by The Water Bearer

Did the Baby Boomers have any idea how quickly the destruction of their children’s innocence would take effect when they allowed sexually charged images to flood our television screens? Did they picture their daughters grinding and gyrating to songs like, ‘Freak Me Baby’ or ‘Sweat Alalalalala Long’ or SaltnPeppa’s ‘Shoop’ when they gave their approval to play them on the radio? Did they realise that widespread acceptance of family break-ups would leave more and more single parents to battle alone against the ‘Sexual Tsunami’ white washing across their children’s world?

I am generation X, is that X as in X-Rated?

As I ponder the next phase of my role as the mother of a Teenage Daughter, praying for ways to equip her for the next stage of her young life, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking back to when I was a young girl myself.

Before my parents separated my Dad was very strict about what he allowed his children to be exposed to, we weren’t allowed to watch the same television shows as my school friends or listen to Top 40 on the radio. We could watch the News and Game Shows and listen to Christian music or music from my parent’s youth, The Beetles and Fleetwood Mac. When it was left to my Mum to decide what restrictions to place on her children I noticed that we wore her down, bit by bit, to being given more freedom than we ever had when Dad was around. It wasn’t long before we watched ‘Neighbours’ religiously instead of going to church, we knew every word to every song played on Video Hits, the more risqué’ the more we wanted to watch. We viewed our Dad’s restrictions as a fanatical strait-jacket.

Now it is our turn as parents to build the sexual platform we wish to send along with our children as they venture into the world. Restrictions have had their place, while explanations have had more. We can’t simply hide the world from their eyes, we must prepare them for what they are sure to see. They are Generation Y, so perhaps our focus as parents could, instead of telling them what not to do, explain why they shouldn’t? Why shouldn’t they take drugs? Why shouldn’t they jump into bed with someone, if they feel like it? Why shouldn’t they break the law? Why shouldn’t they dress like prostitutes? It used to be easy to tell who was a street walker and who wasn’t simply by the way they presented themselves to attract the sexual attention of the opposite sex, now that modesty is almost completely out the window, it seems everyone wants to attract sexual attention of any kind and the line between the two worlds has become blurred. Why? Sex Sells! That’s what they say. Sex may draw the desired attraction in marketing, but what is the true cost of exposing our children to overly sexualised images and sounds from the minute they can open their eyes?

While we are too distracted by our busy, chaotic, emotionally charged lives, the boundary lines are being moved, inch by inch behind shades of grey (pun intended), desensitising our resistance, numbing our opposition, giving free reign to the ‘powers that be’ to allow corruption of our virtue and destruction of the innocence of our children.

Many years ago I watched a video series by Lisa Bevere called Purity’s Power. The series was directed at adolescent and young women, and touched on many topics often left in the dark, specifically the sexuality of women in the 21st Century. It answered many questions of why and why not, it was jammed packed with information, honest and open discussions, and completely inspired with Godly principles of purity. I watched all 4 brilliant sessions and the whole time I kept thinking, ‘I am definately going to show this to my girls when they get old enough for it to be appropriate’.

Seeing as my eldest daughter has now reached the age where she and her friends have begun to notice boys, they have to cope with all those extra feelings running amuck inside them, and are exposed to intense sexual provocation at every turn, I decided it was time to introduce my gorgeous girl to ‘Purity’s Power’, to help her answer many questions about sex, promiscuity and the power of purity.

I feel overwhelmed at times, and discouraged by my minimal effect on the world’s awareness of these things, however, I trust my children into God’s hands with prayer and sacrifice. I educate them with my own wayward experiences and all the shame, consequences of those decisions. I pray for the army of inner angels to fight hard against those enemies trying to derail all attempts to protect my daughters from the devious wiles saturating their world.

My Darling Girls, I may not be able to protect you from this onslaught entirely, but I can help you learn to use the weapons available and encourage you to withstand against it. It is up to you how far you allow your flesh to be tempted, it is your choice to look away or seek out more. Keeping close to the Lord will help strengthen you in the midst of this battle. Remember that this place is a place to be tested and to learn, and no matter what, God love’s you, He is pressing up against your life waiting to be invited in to guide you to a life of victory and joy, rather than fear and shame.

“I will help you build your armor, but you’ll have to wear it by yourself”

Lyrics from ‘A Lucky Life’ by Australian singer songwriter Clare Bowditch.

Please view the clip below about Lisa Bevere’s Series ‘Kissed the girls and made them cry’. Get your daughters the curriculum package with “Purity’s Power” included, I cannot recommend it enough! Together we can set up the next generation to avoid the traps set for them by the enemy.

13/08/2012

Another Award Oh My!!*

Posted in Encouragement, General tagged , , , , at 11:17 am by The Water Bearer

one-love-blog-award-two1

Huge thanks to my blogging friend Summer at Summer4Soul who has kindly nominated me for the ‘Lovely Blog Award’. Please drop over and visit her lovely blog as she deserved this honor and was rightly nominated also.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing, to receive an award for doing something that you love!

I must admit it is not something I am used to, aside from a couple of ‘Participation Certificates’,  I have only ever received two other awards that I can think of (before I began blogging that is). One was for ‘Best Attendance’ at Pony Club when I was a girl, and the second was ‘Rookie of the year’ for my first part-time job at McDonalds. I didn’t even know these awards existed until I received them, so you can imagine the lovely surprise to know that my dedication to horse riding and doing my best at work was noticed.

Yet for some reason these blogging awards have a very different feel to them. I am dubious that I can write well, as I have never received any formal training and I am not ready to show any of my finished works to a publisher to gain constructive feedback. My calling was giving to me from left field, I did not plan to become a ‘writer’, yet once I began writing I found this immense joy springing forth as I poured my ideas out onto the page in front of me. To receive awards that let me know someone has connected with my words encourages me more than you can know. Thank you so so much!

Seven facts about me:

  1. I prefer savoury to sweet
  2. My favourite band is ‘The Waifs’ (Folk Blues)
  3. The history of Marie Antionette fascinates me
  4. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympics with my family this year, more than any other year
  5. I would love to see Europe soon
  6. I have written a few children’s books (Yet to show them to a publisher mind you)
  7. I recently discovered, after years of refute, that I love Indian food

Blog’s I nominate for the Lovely Blog Award: Please check them out..

  1. Tj’s Garden
  2. SAB Inspirations & More
  3. The Insanity of Motherhood
  4. Sober Boots
  5. A Life Less Scripted
  6. The Journey of a Woman
  7. Life of a Female Bible Warrior
  8. Annie Wald
  9. Power of Positive Thoughts
  10. Sunshine’s Reflections
  11. Mom in the Muddle
  12. The Lighthouse
  13. Subhan Zein
  14. Close Families
  15. From a Humble Servant’s Heart

Once again let me express how much joy blogging has brought me, I appreciate every one of my readers and am encouraged by your comments. Please let me know if you have dropped by and lets share in the joy of Faith, Truth and Self-Awareness together!

03/08/2012

I have to put her in God’s hands

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:17 am by The Water Bearer

My little miracle baby is today well on her way to her ‘own’ life. Yesterday she passed her learner’s test and can now legally sit behind the wheel of the car (Metaphoric in itself). She acquired a part-time job on the same day and completed her Tax File Number Application (almost) completely unsupervised.

Is that IT now?

How much more can I do within the ‘Motherly’ role I have held for over 16 years? I know nothing else! There has never been a time in my adult life where I was not responsible for her.

She can earn her own money now, she can drive a car. She has grown-up, and I feel like I watched it all with the fast-forward button jammed stuck!

I miss the expression on her tiny face when she looked to me for the simplest request. “My shoelaces are knotty Mummy, I can’t open them”. She would appear in the doorway of my bedroom with her hair sticking out like a birds nest saying “Look Mummy, I did my hair for school all by myself”, she was always the most placid, happy kid, she made parenting look easy. She doesn’t need to look to me for day to day comforts, these days she looks to her Ipod or mobile phone. Once upon a time a cuddle from Mum could soothe away any savage, frightening beast, now she leans into the arms of her boyfriend, much to my discomfort at the reminder of a loosening grip.

Every now and then she emerges from her bedroom with her shirt buttons out of whack. I think she does it on purpose to make me feel useful.

I understand that my influence and control over her life has changed forever, now I need to clamber into an unfamiliar role. I am not sure if I ever got used to the first role, but now that it is slipping from my grasp I want desperately to cling on for little while longer.

I remember being 17 yrs old and saying to my Mother..”You had 17 yrs to teach me how to be what you wanted, 17 years to make my decisions for me…now your time is up! You can’t keep trying to control my life just because you don’t trust that you did a good enough job of teaching me how to control it myself.” That was my defensive way of dealing with her when she didn’t agree with my life choices.

I thought I knew how to make choices I could happily live with, I lived with them regardless. I let my split family drive me to believe I could be happy if I started my own family at such a young age. God obviously had the same plan and I trusted Him, without even realising how profound that was at the time. I needed sound advice and support of my final decisions. This is how I aim to approach this new stage of motherhood (God Help Me!)

So as I step out of my comfort zone into this new phase, I need to remember the foundation of the parental principles which my Dad showed me. He would listen to my dilemma’s and give a variety of choices and explain the possible consequences, then he would say, I can’t tell you what to do, but I will support you no matter what you decide. For all the times I’m sure he cringed at my final decision he rarely showed it, He trusted God to guide our lives and was adamant that if we obey God and trust in Him completely, He can save not only our soul but the souls of our children and our grandchildren. He had obeyed God  in the face of every kind of rejection, and I trust His granddaughter into the hands of the Almighty. It is almost completely out of my hands. I must now guide her without the tactics that so easily, reactively spring to mind, without judgment and disapproval, without manipulative control, without guilt trips, without blackmail, without one-sided lectures. Now I need to listen, now I need to support. Now I need to be stable enough for her to know that no matter what life throws her way, I will be there to hold her hand and show her my love, regardless of which way she chooses to direct her life.

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