“Be Good”

I recently read “Bringing Up Bébé” by Pamela Druckerman and found it a very enlightening and entertaining read. She’s an American woman bringing up babies in Paris and notes the differences between parenting styles as well as the resulting child’s behavior. Where North American children tend to behave like tyrannical kings and queens, the French children seem to be functionally integrated into the adult world around them. I love it.

One of the points she brought out was in the diverse vocabulary French parents use with their infants and children. Here, we hear a lot of “Be good!” spoken to our kiddies. Even the Chinese have the equivalent with asking the child to be “guai”. Or if they do something pleasant, we heap on the praises of “Oh you’re so good” or “You’re so guai”. And once you’ve praised them for “being good”….well, are they not apt to think that everything they do is “good”? We haven’t exactly addressed what was so praise worthy in the first place. What does “good” mean anyways? It’s so ambiguous.

The French on the other hand, tell or praise their children for being “sage” …which is like saying “being calm.” Think about it…there’s a whole lot more going on for a child to be calm. That’s asking the child to quiet down their hearts and minds. To deal with the inner frustration of not getting their way or their timing. To be master over their impulses instead of being mastered by it. And that they are PART of a bigger world, and not THE world.

Yes I think we under-estimate what our infants and children can understand. The more diversity in the words we use with them, the more tools they’re given to understand and choose behavior. With ALL children in my life, I’m trying, even now, to change my words to build up good character and good behavior and specifically address negative behavior. Saying “You’re a good girl/boy” or “that’s bad” really doesn’t say much at all. I would much rather my child hear “What you did was very kind” or “Thanks for being patient” or “That attitude is selfish” or “Don’t be rude“. Even from infancy.

So in four months…this social experiment will start. haha. I invite you to join in. =)

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“Christian morals are for Christians only”

That was the view presented at our discipleship group a few Sundays ago. And I think I agree with it….that people who claim to be followers of Christ should quite naturally be the ones compelled to follow His commands, example and teaching. Because only those who have the Holy Spirit will be capable of recognizing what is in line with His teaching or not, and only they have the power to live it out as God transform them from the inside out. So the ones who aren’t followers, who don’t have the Holy Spirit, well why should they be held to Christ’s standard?

The Western world developed on Judeo-Christian principles and back then, it can safely be assumed that everyone believed in God and followed Biblical teaching. Encouraging, upholding, rebuking each other in accordance to the Word was part of the community norm. Times have definitely changed and believers are in the minority…but somehow, we keep trying to push the “Christian way” onto everyone else…and it comes across as judgmental, unloving and ungracious. Which is totally not lined up with who Jesus or God is.

I don’t believe Biblical principles and instructions are to be blindly followed by Christians just for the sake of following them though. I believe most Biblical principles have very solid reasons to be followed for our own physiological, emotional and spiritual well-being. Granted some of those benefits primarily applied to that period of history or that area of the world….but many are still relevant and applicable today. Taking the time to look deeper into why God may have laid down certain boundaries will result in a deeper understanding and appreciation for those boundaries. While we look at our decisions and actions within the tiny context of the world immediately around us (i.e. “I’m not hurting anyone that immediately comes to mind), God sees the WHOLE PICTURE and works His boundaries for the benefit of all, the environment included. So I think those principles that benefit us physiologically and emotionally CAN be shared even with those who do not follow Christ. Spiritual boundaries/benefits are harder to express and share….even though a lot of physical/emotional boundaries are tied to spiritual well-being too. But hey, if asked, be prepared to answer in gentleness and respect!

So, my take-away from that discussion…be loving, compassionate and gracious to all. Celebrate what’s meaningful in the lives of all whom we care about; mourn with each other; walk with and talk with them for as long as you are welcomed. If asked your opinion on something, then share honestly and openly, have discussion, but don’t expect any kind of compliance to your thoughts, and respect each other regardless. If someone won’t accept you then just shake the dust off your feet and move on. (And I might add, this goes both ways…those who are secular shouldn’t be forcing their values onto others who seek to live as Christ taught either.)

Thoughts on this? I know I’ve just scratched the surface.

Question: What’s the difference between Complacency and Contentment?

Check out this passage: Matthew 25:14-30 In short it’s about three stewards given varying amounts of gold. Two of them put the gold to work and doubled their Master’s profits. One just buried it in the ground until the Master came back. The Master promoted the first two stewards and kicked the third one out.

I think complacency is an attitude with no hopes/dreams/ambitions etc…you’re not even going to try. You’ve buried the gold in the ground. If the bags of gold given by the Master to His servants represents the skills, passions, abilities and resources God has given to each of us…and God has given us varying amounts (not just in finances, but also in ability/skills/passion/etc)…then He still intends and is pleased with us when we GROW it from what it used to be. Even if it’s minimal growth (i.e. putting the gold in the bank and gaining interest on it).

So what is Contentment?

In chatting with Dahn, she offered a great thought about contentment possibly be understanding that we lack nothing. Reminds me of a quote that says something like, “Wealthy are those who have the least to lose“….and maybe that’s what contentment is too. Knowing the more we’ve been entrusted with means the more God expects of us to do something with it. And of course, knowing it’s not about just desiring nothing as to not have to try in life (hence being complacent). Rather, with whatever you have been given, you are meant to grow it, and whatever you have not been given, is less to worry about. So we can be thankful and enjoy that too.

Or maybe contentment is also having loosely cupped hands. So if God gives, He gives and we do our best with it. We are STEWARDS of everything we have, not owners, and we can’t see what skills/abilities/passions God might have given someone else. Monetary things are just one facet of the whole thing. We can’t and shouldn’t compare what He has given or withheld from others. And if God takes away, a content person wouldn’t require Him to pry it away…it won’t break our hearts, it won’t make us try to grasp at/cling to/hang onto it.

Back to growing what we’ve been given…there is a danger of striving after growth as an end in itself. Ambition can become obsessive and destructive to yourself and others around you. Maybe the focus is whether the growth we’re seeking is for our own sake/glory or if it’s for the Kingdom. Are we looking to say “I” did it….or to say God this is for you? Can we give it ALL back to God if He asked for it or do we want to hang on? And if we can’t give it back freely….then it’s a flag that greed or selfish ambition has taken hold and we need to confess and pray for freedom from that.

In our sermon series at church…talking through Money, Sex, Power….everything needs to go through the filter of

Does this lead to a right relationship with God?
Does this lead to right relationship with Others?
Does this lead to right relatedness with Creation?

So, if growing that talent/passion/ability/skill/resource can be a Yes to all three questions, then by all means, do it whole heartedly, joyfully and freely give back to God. If we can be in plenty or be in want and still freely praise or give to God with a thankful spirit…then I think that’s Contentment.

What do you think the difference is between Complacency and Contentment?

Young Forever! Is so unnatural

Dolly Parton – from 931wolfcountry.com

One of my closest girl friends lives in the deep deep south of Houston, TX. She tells me stories of her world, how pretty much EVERY woman around her has had something done in the way of cosmetically enhancing themselves. Botox, peels, lifts, tucks, injections, new boobs, lipo, everything/anything. There is enormous pressure to stay young looking. And I can imagine it gets very hard to resist the lure of eternal youth. I wonder if I would succumb in that environment?

I tell myself that a fifty year old trying to look like she’s twenty is completely UNNATURAL and actually, kinda gross looking. The question is, what and for who are all these women doing it for? Ms PR commented that there’s a notion that guys cheat for younger women, so women feel they always need to look young. I guess either to hang onto their men or to try to get men. Which, is sad as I wonder if they don’t have any other strengths going for them in way of personality or character. But maybe our world has really gotten this shallow??

Here’s Huffington Posts’ list of twelve stars who said NO WAY to plastic surgery. I hope they succeed in their goal to never have anything fiddled with going forward. I also hope I age as gracefully.

I confess, I’ve thought about how great it would be have eye liner tattooed on so that I wouldn’t have to do it every day. And so that my eyes wouldn’t look completely naked because my lashes are so fine and sparse. And so I wouldn’t look retarded if I forgot to wear make-up. Looking deeper though, all the times I’ve thought about altering my body was because 1) I wasn’t living a healthy lifestyle or taking care of my body well and my body was showing it and 2) I felt insecure about how I looked, focusing on what I didn’t like and not noticing what was beautiful already. Could addressing those two items reduce the amount of cosmetic enhancements being done? I don’t know. I think it’s good to make yourself presentable and look good…like strong, healthy good (and we should WANT to be strong and healthy)…but where is the line drawn before it becomes an obsession?

 

The end of “Cute”

@lauriewang: It’s like you hit an age where you can no longer do cute. #firstworldaging

Anyone else find this to be true?

(Image not mine)

Cute!

(Image not mine)

Not Cute

We discussed this further and I think it’s either after you turn 30 or if you become a mother. Whichever comes first.
“Cute” is for children…teens even. In your twenties, you can pull off some cute stuff…but it gets increasingly awkward because it looks more and more age inappropriate. It’s like you’re trying to hard to be what you’re not (which is “young”)…and I can’t take you seriously.

The more “ageless” adjectives are words like beautiful, sophisticated, edgy, classy, sexy….okay maybe “sexy” isn’t ageless. With the advance of technology, medication and general healthy living, I can still see a 60 yr old being sexy. But I can’t see “sexy” describing 70 year olds. Sorry.

Personally, I think I stopped being cute after the age of five. Even after growing out of braces and glasses, “cute” was never a word used to describe me. I just can’t pull off “cute”. I also don’t want to be cute…hopefully I will be classy and edgy. I want to stay somewhat up-to-date with fashion, but age appropriate fashion is key. You’ve seen those men and women who still dress like their high school or college glory days. That is being stuck in an era. Not a fashion expert by any means…but I’ve watched enough “What Not to Wear” to know that dressing for your body shape (admit it and embrace it) as well as for your age (can’t stop it!) is important. Yes, do work out and eat healthier so you can wear a broader variety of styles….but it’s also about accepting and being secure in your body to feel and look good through the ages. Don’t get stuck! =)