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Posts Tagged ‘fighting’

gloves

Preteen + preteen + peacemaker AKA tattletale + one year old = it’s spring but if we dare open our windows someone may call the law.  And I might need them to.

After much begging, pleading, and coercing from tomboy mom, I think my girls have finally chosen a sport they want to practice.  My girls – especially the older two – seem to have adopted a new way of life.  It is hard to describe, but if it had a name it might be called, “Four Girl Fight Club.”

Apparently they have come to believe that the only solution to their ridiculously difficult life is to fight with one another over everything.  Sometimes, the decibels are so high in this compound that it takes a conversation with a hard of hearing mom, a machine washing clothes, a screaming baby, a running lawn mower, a phone alarm ringing to remind me that today’s the last day to pay that bill before I have a 32 thousand dollar late fee, and the noise of a 25 year-old refrigerator to successfully ignore the bouts of unmitigated rage.

Oops.  Did I say ignore?  I mean avoid.  Er.  Um.  No.  I mean, I would never ignore or avoid my own children.  That’s ridiculous.  Clearly I’m busy with all the above mentioned, conveniently noisy tasks.  I would really prefer to be ringside.  Who doesn’t love a good fight, right?  That’s why, even being the free range parent that I am, I always make sure I rush in to see the good parts.  Anytime I am in the middle of 17 other things and I hear someone getting pummelled with pretend accusations, I run right in!

Yesterday was one of those days.

By the time I came to see what was the matter, one fighter was already crying and drawing an emo self-portrait complete with tears and monster sister hovering over her in the sketch, and the other was smugly smarting off about her rightness in the matter.

Now.  I always like to get the facts straight from both sides before I go trying to sub out for the referee, but, with all the commotion I didn’t hear that phone alarm and it just so happened that the ref’s paycheck was the bill I forgot to pay.  So, unfortunately, I had to jump right in quick before someone lost a tooth, or, in my case, their own flippin’ mind.

“What on the earth is going on in here, girls?!”

“Addie made an app and she made rules for the game she created but she isn’t following HER OWN RULES that SHE made!”

“That’s not true!  I made it so I am allowed to make the rules!!”

When I got down to the bottom of it all, it seems that my very technically inclined daughter made up a game and made a rule for her fellow gamers that she was not following herself.  This reality ignited the call to use every justice bone in my other daughter’s body.

“You can’t do that!!!  You can’t just change the rules for yourself!  You can’t just make other people follow them and not follow them yourself!”

“I made it!!!  I am the owner!  I can do whatever I want!”

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” said the referee.

“Ok.  Let’s see here.  You are both right – in a way.  Addie is right that if she created it, as the administrator she is ABLE to do things in whatever fashion she chooses.  If she sets it up with an exception for herself, she can because she owns and created the game.  However, as a matter of good business and fairness, Mia is right.  No one likes leaders who expect others to follow the rules that they made but do not follow the rules themselves.  That’s why everyone gets mad at the government.  They have the authority to make the rules and laws because we have entrusted it to them – given it to them – but they are so unjust that they apply them to everyone but themselves.  They also change the rules whenever it is personally advantageous.  That is called injustice.  We do not want to be unjust to others.

So, I understand why everyone is upset but, while both of you are right, you are also both wrong. Think about your other two sisters, girls.  Maylee is upset.  Sonny is screaming.  You are scaring them.  I understand why you both feel justified, but the truth is that neither of you are.  Look how you’re treating each other.  This is not acceptable.

Next time, listen to each other.  Stop yelling over top of one another to get your ideas heard by the person you clearly disagree with.  Talk about it.  Don’t get upset when someone challenges your decisions.  Instead, answer them.  Know why you’re doing something and be able to explain it clearly when asked.  If you are the one asking, don’t be condescending.  When you have a different perspective, respect for the authority goes a long way – especially if you are older than they are.  Lastly, never forget to consider others who hear your disagreements.  Namely – your sisters.  But the windows are open for goodness sake! Everything we do affects other people.  Remember that.

And in that four girl fight club, I believe the Lord truly showed up with wisdom like unto Solomon’s for me.  My own heart was revealed as fighter number five and my own foolishness was found out.  Like the mechanic always says, they only know what you teach ’em.  God did none other than prove Himself faithful once again.

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star

“Mooooommmm!!! Addie’s on her ipod and she won’t take the dog out!  I took (the other dog) out and she’s just sitting there doing nothing!”

“Addie, did you take the dog out?”

Silence.

“Addie, are you allowed to play games before you get ready for school?”

“I’m not playing gaaaaaames.  I’m looking something up.”

“You know you’re not allowed to use your ipod unless you are dressed and ready for school, you’ve already eaten breakfast, and taken your dog out.  Give me your ipod.”

Said child runs away screaming and avoiding any and all responsibility for as long as humanly possible.  Tattle tale child gloats and reminds me of the contrast between her “goodness” and her sister’s “badness” including a sales pitch to take her shopping later.  Youngest child watches the drama unfold with concerned face but waits until later on when her compliance level is very high to ask once again, “Mommy, what percentage am I being good right now?”

Unfortunately this is not an unfamiliar or outstanding scenario in my home.  I have two who dabble in the art of manipulation through obedience and one all out rebel.  I guess it should be no surprise that two sinners managed to breed three more sinners.

Teaching my children at home affords me a commodity other parents do not usually have an abundance of – time.  I have lots of time to spend correcting, encouraging, punishing, rewarding, and teaching them how to be a respectable, responsible, literate member of society.  Well, those are my three main goals on this joyride anyway.

Still, more oft than not I find myself at a total loss for how to get there.  I’m realizing that it may be because I personally don’t always know how to get there.  I’m a sinner, too, after all, and why I ever expected to clone myself and end up with a better version is beyond me.  All I got were three, going on four, carbon copies.  Drat.  If I want to help them and retain my sanity, I have to figure out how exactly it is that God changes me.

We began a group study on the book of Proverbs.  Proverbs offers wisdom for life and godliness.  It got me to thinking, more or less, evaluating, what wisdom is practically in my life.   What does wisdom look like day in and day out in my relationships, my demeanor, and, especially, my parenting?  All I could think of was star charts and how much I hate them.  So I left Bible study scratching my head asking myself why do I hate star charts so much anyway?

I hate star charts because I am daughter number one and daughter number three.  I’m the recovering prideful obey-er who is ever tempted to manipulate Pharisaically.  My husband is more like daughter number two – the act first, think later out and out rebel.  Nevertheless, truth be told, we are both, both.

Therefore, I know star charts will only feed the already existing pride and arrogance of daughters one and three.  I also know that nothing short of prayer, fasting, daily Biblical instruction, and likely a few lost limbs and several nervous breakdowns will stop daughter two.  Ok, maybe none of that will stop her. But I have to try, folks.  God, help me.

Pastor says the way to avoid prideful, heartless obedience is to preach the gospel.  Everyday.  He says the way to avoid lawless rebellion is to preach the gospel.  Everyday.  Preach it to yourself.  Preach it to your children.  Yes and amen.  My question, and forgive me once again for my ignorance as an 18 year old Christ follower who should sure well know better by now, is still, how?    Practically, daily, how do I do that?

Because I do study the Bible daily.  (It’s a high ranking item on the star chart for me.)  I open “school” for the kids with “Bible class” and everyday we “talk” about what the gospel is, what it means, and the like.  We have Bible based history, science, reading, Bible study, Sunday school, Bible memorization, nighttime devotions, family prayer, individual prayer, etc.  I could go on.  Still, as five spoiled sinners we have a mind blowing capacity to learn and know without doing and living.

That’s why I no sooner begin reading the Bible lesson and a crayon fight breaks out.  It’s why I don’t finish the lesson for my anger over the said fight.  It’s why no one gets it even if I do finish.  My kids aren’t disobedient because they do not know the gospel.  They are disobedient because I am disobedient; because I am all too often not rightly applying the gospel I teach them in my own behavior.

I know what you’re thinking.  Someone needs a star chart.  Perhaps.  I think maybe the pastor is right, though.  In fact, I know he is.  But what kind of star chart follows the gospel?

I picture it looking something like this:

Love                  Hate

Joy                  Anger

Peace              Discord

Patience              Impatience

Kindness              Unkindness

Goodness               Evil

Faithfulness           Unfaithfulness

Self Control         Recklessness

Gentleness        Harshness

Now we have a usable chart.  I mean, maybe it’s ok to remember the good things we do.  Well, as long as we don’t tell our left hands. (See Matthew 6:3.)  Maybe the chart just needs another side.  It needs balance.  It needs a “bad things” side where we write those, too, so that we might remember, confess, and have to physically erase them afterward.  After all, wasn’t that the fault of the Pharisees?  They kept a record of rights they should have been forgetting and never considered their own sin they should have been remembering.  In so doing, they refused the gospel.  No one whose star chart is full on only the good side needs a Savior and no all out rebels care much about getting stars on either side anyway.

There must be hope for both kinds of sinners!  While the religious sinners are asking, “Why wouldn’t Jesus love me?  My star chart is full of good!” and the rebel sinners are asking, “Why would Jesus love me?  I don’t even have a chart and if I did it would be full of demerits!” we must be responding with grace rather than stars and demerits.  The answer to sinner number 1 is grace-filled correction and rebuke urging the consideration of personal failures, confession, and repentance until they realize how counterproductive and contemptible their good works are to their spiritual life.  The answer to sinner number 2 is grace-filled correction and rebuke urging the consideration of personal failures, confession, and repentance until they realize how counterproductive and contemptible their bad works are to their spiritual life.  Both types of sinners need the gospel, but giving it to them looks somewhat different practically because we sin differently.

Star charts don’t work but the gospel does.  Who knew?  Insert head into hands.

As I finish typing this little ditty ipod void Addie urges correction for her playing on her ipod before she got ready for school sister.  “I think she should get her ipod taken away like me because she’s doing the same thing I did.”  Rebel turned tattle; tattle turned rebel.  Can a girl even get some consistency around here??? Excuse me while I attempt to start preaching living the gospel again today.

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With strong warnings and great opposition from many Christian reviews, I managed to survive viewing the movie “Noah” this past weekend without losing my faith completely.  If I have lost my faith completely, it certainly has nothing to do with this movie – or any other movie for that matter.  My lack of faith exhibited in wrong actions is never due to outside forces or evil influence, says my one and only trusted friend – the Bible.  No.  My sin comes from the inside out.  It comes from within.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” ~James 1:14

Now.  I have a love for right doctrine.  I have a keen and powerful kind of conscience.  I hate falsehood and, most days, I love the truth.  But, if we’re being honest, my days have been quite dark lately.  My conscience has been quiet.  My Bible has been closed.  There’s really not much worse than being profusely angry at your Creator.

I started boxing because I am mad.   No surprise there, huh?  I imagine that’s what most fighters do.  I mean, no one wakes up one day and says, “Wouldn’t it be relaxing and enjoyable to hit people?”  Right.

Because I generally always spar with guys much taller and far stronger than I am, I have trouble landing any punches at all.  I’m simply too far away.  The best way to hit them is to get inside their range.  I don’t get close enough because I’m afraid.  Closer means I’m in an even more compromised and vulnerable position if I falter.  And I don’t have enough skill to not falter.

So the movie.  The outcast – the leader of the rebellious enemies of God on earth – speaks to God at one point.  He calls out asking, “Why don’t you answer me?  Why are you silent?”   I thought of how many times I’ve called out those same words, desperate to hear him; desperate to know his mind; desperate to understand him and his doings.  But he would not speak.

That rebellious leader was fighting outside.  Perhaps I’ve been fighting outside, too.  Maybe we cannot reach God from this position.  Maybe one has to get a little closer.

Noah.  Noah knew how to fight inside.  He knew he heard God.  He didn’t renege no matter how ridiculous and incomprehensible his instructions were.  Noah wasn’t afraid to be afraid.  Noah trusted God more than he feared fear.  Rebels like me are cowards.  We’d rather throw a hundred punches at the air than get inside on that giant and land one – or, in Noah’s case, get inside that boat and wait until God does the honors.

Some think Noah was a righteous man.  Some know him as a drunk.  I believe he was both.  I imagine one would have to drink a bit knowing the whole world was going to be annihilated and then having to watch them all die.  But Noah loved God.  He loved truth.  His only righteousness came from the same place our only righteousness comes from – Jesus Christ.  God chose him because God loved him – not because he obeyed better than other people.  If he did obey better than other people it was because God gave him that spirit.

God chooses us.  So often though, we chose gods.  Gods that don’t save.  Idols.  People, material things, pleasure, status – just to name a few.  We chose gods in place of the one true God.  We fight outside, mad as hell when they fail to save us from the devastating blows of the Enemy.  But God chooses us despite all that.  He chooses us because he loves us.   He wants us to get inside.  He is the ark.  He is the shelter.  He is the protection, the provision, and the place where we will land our greatest punch at the prince of this world.  Well, he will.  I mean, he did.  So we don’t have to.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had quite enough rain.  Let’s go inside.

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peace2

I drive a Ford Focus.  I have exactly three children and a mother who are usually traveling with me.  Sardines, anyone?

I’m not complaining.  Just describing.  (I love my car!  I picked this honey-of-a-one-owner out myself!)  I, however, used to drive a Ford Expedition.  I noticed that when we drove the larger vehicle, the kids fought less frequently.  I guess there’s just something about personal space that signals peace.

Keeping that fresh in mind, let me invite you on a recent trip we took to the girls’ favorite place (Michael’s craft store.)  With less than a quarter mile to go, they began to fight.  The stress level in my car went from zero to suffocating gas chamber in 1.2 seconds.  Yelling, name calling, hair pulling, and crying seemed to fall like dominoes and bellow throughout the backseat.  We almost made it, I thought to myself.

This scenario is not an uncommon occurrence for trips in my sardine mobile, however, it, in my honest opinion, is only one of the two most frequent, unfavorable outcomes we generally settle for regarding sibling relationships on the road.  The other improper circumstance is that which we experienced in the Expedition.  The other is the one I, all too often, am guilty of allowing and personally entertaining because it is easier and it appears, at least on the surface,  more proper.  This: autonomy.  Be it mom-threatening induced or digital device induced, autonomy is just as bad (if not worse!) as baby boxing in the backseat.  Herein, no one interacts with anyone.  We’ve no conflict because we’ve no conversation.  We’ve no realness because we’ve no relationship.

The truth is that having messy relationships is much more necessary than having superficial relationships – especially when we’re all headed in the same direction and packed into a particular place like sardines.

I am a thinker.  Well, that is, I suppose, a kind term for my condition.  Others might use the label “space cadet” or “left fielder.”  I enjoy quiet.  I like being alone.  Whenever it is not and I am not, I still have an amazing capacity to block out noise, confusion, conflict, and even all out war waging right in front of my face.  I just focus on faraway.  I fly to freedom on the wings of distraction, disinterest, and die-hard daydreaming.

What I’ve found, with a house full of needy people who have learned to need my input less and less, is that autonomy creates false peace.  It’s the flip-side extreme of wild, full on fighting.  Neither make for relational growth.  Both detract severely from true peace and healthy relationships.  I am painfully guilty on both counts.

As humans, it is extremely easy for us to swing between these two unprofitable ends of the pendulum and never find the necessary balance we need to develop good relationships – with all people, but particularly with people we do not prefer.  I know how true it is of myself as I notice how little my excessively independent children (whom I do prefer!) ever ask for my assistance anymore.  They don’t want to interrupt mommy’s internal dialogue.  They recognize when I’m clinging to my self-proclaimed right to personal space.  They fear my fidgety feedback.  They read my ready-to-read-a-riot-act red face and know when to stay away.  Hard truths to face when you know you are the problem.

As I made the last turn toward the craft store, I pointed.  Over the loud fighting I exclaimed even more loudly, “Look, girls!  It’s right there!  Aren’t you excited?!  Stop fighting!”

Lord!  If I, and my brothers and sisters, could just see the beauty of where we’re headed!  It’s so close!  We’ve no need to fight.  We’ve no need to isolate.  God gave us each other!  How desperately we must learn to love one another honestly.  No pride.  No policing.  No pretense.  No pandering for perpetual personal space.  Let there be peace on earth.  Let it begin with me.

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I survived my first week of training.  I lost a few pounds and gained a few insights.  I have to admit, throwing punches at a real person takes some getting used to.  It’s one thing when you’ve got beef.  It’s another when you’ve got nothing but appreciation, admiration, and respect.  It is not natural.  It’s hard to get in the right frame of mind.  You have to focus on something other than that human being.  You have to focus on your mission; your position; your goal.  

“Frankie liked to say that boxing was an unnatural act, that everything in boxing is backwards. Sometimes best way to deliver punches is step back. But step back too far, you ain’t fighting at all.” ~Eddie Scrap On Dupris in Million Dollar Baby

You know what is even more unnatural?  Being jabbed at.  How about being jabbed at by a dude twice your size, ten times your strength; skill; speed; knowledge; precision and who possesses all the skill and experience you have not even begun to learn yet.  

“I wanna run away from you, Coach!  I’m scared!  You’re stalking me down!  I got nothin’!”

“You do not run!  Never run.  You wanna fight?  Fight!  You wanna run?  Get out on the road.  You might as well give it up.”

For a wanna-be fighter who has an extremely poor defense and only knows how to play offense when when the opponent is a stationary, lifeless bag, I needed to hear that.  For a girl who has spent her entire life running – both literally and figuratively – Coach has something here that I desperately need to learn.  

Never run.  Fight.

I love to run.  Running is my favorite activity when I’m happy, sad, mad, or ready to implode.  Running gives me clarity.  It relieves stress.  It gives me peace and time to meet with my Maker; to pray; to decompress; to re-prioritize.  

Running does other things, too, though.  Running avoids.  Running ignores.  Running fails to deal with what’s still waiting at the finish line.  Running makes a kind of pseudo peace even though it knows there’s a stalker standing inside the ring who must eventually be dealt with.  It’s an extremely poor defense when you are confined to a ring surrounded by fire.

The Lord is using my very amateur attempts to learn how to box to teach me what to do when running is not the answer.  

Running may save me from pain in the moment sometimes, but it will never keep me from feeling the pain in proximity to the problem day in and day out.  I’m going to keep getting burned on those flaming ropes if I continue trying to run from the fight.  The truth is, I’m going to need some offense.  Poor defense is not sufficient to win the match of life.  

Our culture has all but lost its ability and desire to debate, discuss, dissect, and deal well with its opponents.  Instead, we run.  We hide in flaming corners getting burned by our own foolish defense.  We must fight for the truth by staying in it no matter how small of an underdog we seem to be.  

Running has its place, but so does fighting.  You will not fight if you keep running loosely lodged in you back pocket.  You will not run if you are a real fighter.    When you begin to realize that the shame of deserting is far worse than the pain of getting beat up, you cease to run and you learn to fight to the very end.  

I want to be a real fighter.  I want to be able to run without needing to.  I want to learn how to focus so fully on my mission; my goal; my God that it no longer matters how I feel about my opponent.  Whether I love, hate, fear, or have neutrality towards him, I want to be able to lay it down and strike at the heart of that fighter every single time.  Then, I will be of use to my manager.  Then I will not need to run no matter how badly I am beaten.  Then I will have the heart of a true fighter.  

“In the clearing stands a boxer 
And a fighter by his trade 
And he carries the reminders 
Of ev’ry glove that layed him down 
Or cut him till he cried out 
In his anger and his shame 
“I am leaving, I am leaving” 
But the fighter still remains. ~Simon and Garfunkel

 

 

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Job knew it was not justifiable to wish for death as he did, so, rather than justifying it, he gives his reasons in an effort to excuse it.

“Has not man a hard service on earth,
    and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?
2 Like a slave who longs for the shadow,
    and like a hired hand who looks for his wages,
3 so I am allotted months of emptiness,
    and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
4 When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I arise?’
    But the night is long,
    and I am full of tossing till the dawn.
5 My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt;
    my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh.
6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle
    and come to their end without hope.

7 “Remember that my life is a breath;
    my eye will never again see good…

Am I the sea, or a sea monster,
    that you set a guard over me?
13 When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,
    my couch will ease my complaint,’
14 then you scare me with dreams
    and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I would choose strangling
    and death rather than my bones.
16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
    Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.
17 What is man, that you make so much of him,
    and that you set your heart on him,
18 visit him every morning
    and test him every moment?
19 How long will you not look away from me,
    nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
    Why have you made me your mark?
    Why have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my transgression
    and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
    you will seek me, but I shall not be.” ~Job 7:1-7, 12-21

Job begins his validation by comparing human life to war.  The “hard service” he refers to in verse 1 points to military service.  Doubtless this man is indeed in fierce spiritual, physical, and emotional combat.

Job’s battle was one of not losing faith, and, eventually, winning a deeper trust in his God.  To be proven victorious, Job was called to endure a seemingly endless cycle of pain, misery, and loss, all apart from explanation or understanding.  He complains of useless days followed by restless nights.  As soon as one wound healed, a new one presented.  His lack of reprieve led to a severe lack of hope (7:7), as well as a growing suspicion regarding God’s character (7:14,16,20.)

While Job neither denies nor forgets his own sin (7:21), he truly begins to question God’s goodness and wonder just who this Creator really is.  If I’m honest, I have to say there’s been many a time where I could relate.

Every Christian who has ever lived has been called to war.  Whether our battles are plain and obvious or internal and covert, we should never fail to recognize that every single day is a battle.  Victory becomes us when we learn to trust without understanding and keep the faith when it’s most unreasonable.

How can we do that if we are in the midst of an endless cycle of pain, loss, and misery without rest or understanding? Just what kind of God has such insane expectations for weak and lowly sinners such as I?

If I knew, I don’t suppose I’d have to spend so many hours studying Job.

When we’re unsure of the Father’s heart, we need only to look the Son’s passion.  Whatever a father loves, a son hotly pursues.  God showed us how to overcome against all odds by showing us who we must look to for impossibilities.  To that end I ask, how did Jesus do this?

Jesus didn’t fight his war with an M-16;

Jesus fought his war without fatigues.

Jesus didn’t fight with fists clenched;

Jesus fought with hands folded.

Jesus didn’t fight with knowledge, power, and pride;

 Jesus fought with wisdom, service, and humility.

Jesus didn’t fight with anger, hostility, and hate.

Jesus fought with forgiveness, peace, and love.

Insane expectations?  In my honest opinion, yes.  I can totally see God diggin’ the X-games up in heaven.  Yeah.  He’s an extremist.  But extreme is not impossible.  I may be weak, but one of my favorite songs tells me he is strong.  Jesus will keep me from all wrong.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MygR5zMia_E

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