Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Smart Enough To Say I’m Sorry

… yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:9

My daughter is a sensible little girl, but last week she made an unfortunate decision she is likely to remember for a very long time. She informed my husband that she is just as smart as he is, and therefore no longer requires his guidance or input in her life. We expected to hear this during the teen years, but not from the mouth of our six-year-old.

Thankfully, my quick-thinking husband had just the cure for this know-it-all attitude of hers. “Great!” He said. “Since you know everything I do, then you know how to sweep all of these stubborn pine needles off of the driveway. Take as much time as you need, but you can’t go the Halloween party you were planning on for this evening until the whole driveway is clear. Have I ever mentioned that our driveway is 120 feet long? Boy, am I ever glad you know how to do this because it is a job I have been dreading.”

Without a word, little hands grasped the long push broom and got to work. She toiled for almost two hours, gathering the needles until small piles dotted the length of the driveway. She finally came in and confessed to me, “I don’t know how to get the piles into the bag. Will you help me?” I happily showed her how to get the first grouping into the large leaf bag, and then left her to continue her work. When she came back in about 30 minutes later, her cheeks were pink and her hair was sweaty. “Boy,” she said. “Did I ever learn my lesson!” She then added, “Mom, thanks for all the things you do for me. I better go thank Daddy too!” She apologized for what she said earlier, and I told her that I would know she was truly sorry when I saw her attitude change for good.

This is true of our relationship with God as well. When we make a mistake, He is ready to help us learn where we went wrong so we can tell Him we are sorry, but the words don’t mean as much as a changed heart. Nothing says, “I’m sorry” like improved behavior.

Sweeping the driveway gave my daughter plenty of time to reflect on what she said and her attitude made a notable improvement. One of my neighbors had her daughter pull weeds from the garden for an hour after a similar incident. What are some things you have done to help your child find a better outlook?

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Coat Question

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:11

Winter is on its way, here in Colorado. We usually get a big snow in October, so I got out all of last year’s winter garb to see what still fit my kids. I’ve always known my children were very different from each other, but their parka’s gave me a visual illustration.

My oldest daughter goes at life with gusto. I tell her that if she doesn’t get dirty and sweaty then she isn’t playing hard enough, and she takes this to heart. On the other hand, my youngest daughter is more interested in dancing than digging. Her clothes are rarely dirty, and the occasional spot is more likely to be from paint than mud.

Their differences presented me with an interesting challenge. Last year’s parka no longer fit my oldest daughter, so normally it would pass down to her sister. However, a permanent grime covered the front and the elbows of the coat. This brown shading never bothered the coat’s first owner, but I knew its next wearer would notice and not be impressed. I also knew she would never complain about it.

I faced a dilemma. Apart from the staining, the old parka was in perfect condition. It even had a pair of matching snow pants (although the knees of the pants matched the elbows of the coat). Would buying my youngest daughter a sparkling clean new parka make me a poor steward of my money or a loving mother? Let’s hear what you think?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Better Questions

Last night I went to the concert of a well-know artist in the world of Christian music. His songs are among my favorites, so I was excited to see him live for the first time. The show started off well, and he promised the audience an evening of praising and glorifying God.

He wove difficult, sometimes unanswerable, questions throughout the performance, stopping between each song to ponder the issues of his life. Unfortunately, with each question, his unhappiness and inner conflict became clearer. He stated after the first song that this particular tour was hard for him, and he was feeling tired. This progressed throughout the show until, towards the end, he said he was having a bad day and explained why, in detail. Not only did he “dump” on the audience (his words, not mine) but he missed lyrics and even entire verses of songs. His two most recent hits were left out of the show completely.

He promised an evening of praise, but delivered what felt more like a counseling session with a patient who was unable to hear the guidance of the doctor. When people called out from the audience to voice their support for him, he told them he didn’t want their encouragement. It tuned out to be a depressing event, rather than the uplifting one he said it would be.

I still love this artist’s music and would be willing to see him perform again, in hopes of catching him on a better day. But, my question to you is this: do performers have an obligation to deliver on their promises? Is it acceptable for them to have a “bad day” during a show? After all, they’re only human, right? But how would you feel if your hair stylist had a bad day during your haircut? Or your hygienist during your cleaning? Let’s hear what you think!