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We are here to help.  Join us and share ideas.Alethia Navigating Parentingseminar-3

What if our purpose as parents was to model traits of God to our children? How would we parent? Would we hover more or less? Would we be quicker or slower to hand over the car keys? How are even supposed to figure when to give our kids freedom and when to hold back?

 

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Alethia Counseling, as part of its Navigating Speaking Series, presents “Freedom Based Parenting.” This two hour seminar will take place on May 17th at 6pm. Our main session will be led by Pastor/Speaker Chris Legg, where he will unfold a model of parenting that starts with the character of God, which Chris likes to call a Freedom Based approach. Next comes three breakout sessions to choose from, all with Licensed Professional Counselors, with the aim of equipping you as parents. Allison Cooper will speak to issues pertaining to anxiety, Josh Berger will address behavior in your child, and Zach Herrin will be covering boundaries. Please call the Alethia Counseling offices if you have questions and to RSVP. Don’t want to miss a thing? Let us know when you RSVP that you would like to receive emails about upcoming Alethia events and seminars. 903-561-8955.

Ginger and me

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I was recently asked to comment on the question of how much time a husband and wife should spend together… and most often this actually takes the form of “how much time is it reasonable to for me to ask my spouse to spend with me (since I have asked and they told me what I was asking for was unreasonable).

I have a couple of comments.

First, before I say anything else, I want to communicate that one of the things that can make marriage fun is when you know you can ask for what you want.

I think a spouse should generally not be chastised for asking for what they want… I am serious when I tell my wife that I want her to feel welcome to ask for what she wants.  If my wife wants more time, more focus (can you imagine?) from me, then I want to know it!

I cannot promise that she will always get it, but sure want to know about it just in case I can!  This rule is a family rule, by the way.  The kids area also allowed to ask for what they want… but not promised to get what they want…

And I love, even when I cannot provide, to dream with my wife or child.

“I really want that toy” …  “Man, I bet it would be great to have every toy we could imagine – what else would you like if you could wish for it?” – that isn’t sarcasm, it can be just dreaming with them!

Also, different people have different Love Languages – one of which is “Quality Time” (according to Gary Chapman)… in my marriage, I would translate that for my wife into “Undivided Attention.”

The idea here is that one spouse may be satisfied with less time than the other… but why not take the opportunity to give it?  I want to be able to give what I can when I can, because The Lord knows that I will not always be able to say yes.

God is a God who loves to give good gifts… and I love to reflect Him as a good gift giver to the people I love the most.  I love to give them what they want, when I can or when I think it is right/best. Now, on to the question more directly…

**************

For years, counselors have compared marriage to a garden.  This comparison works on many levels.  I have pointed out before that one comparison is that the “natural” state of a garden (meaning the state it exists in without the intentional input of energy) is death; the “natural” state of marriage is divorce.  Without the intentional input of energy, marriage dies.

Many want to think of marriage as similar to drifting downstream together… but that would imply that the natural state of marriage is to go where it needs to, but that isn’t the case, as anyone who is married knows.

I assume most therapists would agree with me that very few marriages end with the emotional bang… most marriages that end in divorce, drift into divorce.

There is more to look at in regards to this issue here at boring marriages… and ideas of how to avoid that drift!  If the question is one of sex, it may actually be about intimacy, so I would encourage you to take a look at the conversation about how those things are linked in powerful ways.

But in response to the question asked, the first answer would have to do with what kind of garden you have?  If a garden is otherwise healthy, and in an environment that engenders health (think two people who are generally healthy and who have quite a bit in common), then less scheduled and intentional time is probably necessary.

Years ago, I think I remember hearing James Dobson say that he figured a good minimum goal would be:  15-30 minutes a day, 2 hours a week, 1 night a quarter, and one weekend a year.  I like these, and would generally agree…

By this he meant (if I am remembering it correctly) that we need direct and meaningful conversation and interaction 15-30 minutes every day in order to keep the garden in good shape.   Then, we need to plan a more extended period each week in addition to that – a date, couch time, etc. of meaningful interaction; then an overnight away about 4 times a year and a longer couple’s vacation about once a year.

Keep in mind, this is focused time!  Watching TV together, while nice at times, would not count, unless you were engaging at the time with one another (in which case, feel free to turn off the television).

Now, you can already see that a one-size-fits-all rule just won’t work, though.

So, what are some concepts that might work?  Jump on over to part II

As a well known serious Star Wars fan, I am getting a lot of questions about my opinions about Ep VII.

After watching it 3 times in two days a (and a 4th since), I have determined that it is, in fact, a Star Wars movie.

It feels Star Wars, looks, smells, and pretty much sounds like it.

I agree that maybe Abrams and Kasdan over-did the mirroring of Ep IV plot line. However, I am so thankful that they did it at all, though, that I can forgive that perhaps they over-did it.

I don’t think it is fair for those of us who were children when 4-6 came out to look for the same feelings we had back then. We aren’t children anymore. However, even for today’s children, we cannot hope for the same experience.

Until we saw A New Hope, our best Sci-Fi involved a cardboard Enterprise Star-Trek-gallery-enterprise-original-0085riding a string toward the camera and Claymation aliens. Today’s kids have seen “The Avengers” and other well-written stories with brilliant special effects. I know that hoping for them to experience our wonder at a movie is likely just nostalgia now.

However, I was hoping for my kids to get to experience a Star Wars movie – preferably untouched by George Lucas when he has no accountability or controls over him.

In my only real critique at this point, I am super-frustrated with the poor handling of the grieving of Han Solo. I almost expect a cut scene to show it… but Chewbacca walks right past Leia in the immediate aftermath of Han’s death? I don’t think so. Epic error that I am sure they will hear about. No memorial for one of the legends of the rebellion? Of course, there are at least two more movies to make this right. To quote Snoke, “We shall see.”

Of course there are other details I could pick on, but that is true of any movie I think I have ever seen. My hope wasn’t that it would be the perfect movie… but that it would be good and be a Star Wars movie.

However, one of my favorite aspects I already love: in true Abrams fashion, he left us with an excellent mystery that will keep us guessing and writing for the next 2 years.

He left us with Maz’s question: “Who is the girl?”

In other words:

What is Rey’s real last name?

It seems obvious that someone hid Rey on a desert planet to keep her out of the hands of those who might control her.

  1. Skywalker – she is the daughter of Luke Skywalker and some unknown mother.

Making the case:

* R2D2 comes back to full power when she sets foot on the same planet.

* She is a naturally gifted at mechanics (young Anakin), a super-naturally gifted pilot (older Anakin) and a quick study on the lightsaber (Luke).

* Maz insists that she gets the light saber (and says it “called to her.”)

* Maz references her finding what she has lost by recovering Luke.

* The light saber comes to her.

* This series of movies is about the Skywalker family (but this works for being a child of Leia too).

* This overcomes the difficulties with Han and Leia seeming either ignorant of her identity or weirdly not letting it be known. Granted, Han and/or Luke could have lied to Leia about Rey dying at birth or something and then hidden her.

* Her clothing matches Luke’s from IV.

Solo – she is the daughter of Han Solo and Leia Organa (presumably the fraternal twin of Ky Lo Ren)

Making the case:

* This would follow the pattern of the original with twins and allow for brother-sister interactions later.

* Ky Lo seems to engage with her in an odd way – like he is related to her. Their whole interaction feels brother-sister.

* There are a lot of “proud papa” looks and interactions from Han.

* Ky Lo references Han as the “father she never had.”

* Maz asks Han who she is and we cut away at that time.

* This keeps Luke from having a mystery-lover.

* Her clothing at the end matches Han’s… and her blaster is slung low, like his.

Kenobi – she is the granddaughter of Obi Wan Kenobi

Making the case:

* This would be a curve ball and that would be cool. I have nothing else.

She is a grandchild of Qui Gon Jinn

Making the case:

I cannot and will not since this would lend authenticity to Ep 1-3 which VII certainly did not do in ANY way. Also, who? That person doesn’t exist.

She is another immaculate Midichlorians child.

Don’t even think about it.

Another likely idea:

She is Luke’s child by an unknown mother (so far) and he is unaware of her existence. The mother hid her away to keep her from “following old [Luke] on some damn idealistic crusade”, so to speak. They could have chosen a nicer care-taker, though. Where is Aunt Beru when you need her?

ob_adffb7_star-wars-7-le-reveil-de-la-forceFurther Commentary:

One of the coolest things about Episode VII that sets it apart from Ep 1-3 (which I only acknowledge in criticism) is that I am already intrigued and looking forward to getting to know these characters more. Each of them are interesting and three-dimensional. I really want to know who Rey’s parents are.

One of my friends, who is a decade younger than me, already said “I am excited about the next one.” This is the pain I miss – waiting TWO WHOLE YEARS to find out what happens next! Maybe this is a little like hazing – wanting people to suffer as I did as a pre-teen… but it sure beats just hoping that the next one doesn’t stink as bad as the last one.

After 4 viewings, and listening to the soundtrack (loving anything with Rey’s theme in it especially), I find my affection for the movie continuing to grow.

Now you can chatter, Red 2… anything to add, Wedge?

A friend who is a minister to Muslims sent me this report – this is an “open letter” from many in Muslim leadership to the followers of “ISIS”… and their leader.  It shows the breach that is developing in International Islam, and exemplifies that many in the Muslim world do proclaim that Islam can live without conflict with others.

http://www.lettertobaghdadi.com

Meme Logic Fails

The joy of Facebook politics and religion is inspiring me today!

The joy of FB is the way a crazy, hard, complex amalgamations of ethics, faith in God, political policy and more are converted into something so simplistic that a cute meme can somehow clear it up for everyone.

I promise that I am not picking on anyone here, except maybe one or two atheist friends who I comment on later… but just the mass inundation on my home section of refugee memes from both sides of the conversation.

How about this: when I let someone into my home it is a complex decision involving my sense of hospitality, availability, resources, ethics, faith, wisdom, intelligence (I mean that in the military sense as well as the IQ sense) and so much more!

Some people I let into my house. Some people I don’t. Some people I give a key.

If I do not know you are coming and I don’t know who you are, especially if I am not there to greet you, you will likely find the door locked and maybe the alarm armed.nativity refugees

Those aren’t because I am a bad Christian (thanks, atheist friends for telling me in memes what makes for a bad or good Christian – try to remember that you think Christians are fools, deluded or worse, so trying to use your meme logic will fail on us in any case)… but because allowing someone into my house is a complex decision.

What will actually serve that person best? Helping often creates long term problems for people… How will they interpret my helping them?  To what degree should I help?  Am I creating yet another dependent culture on me? (ok, that one is admittedly a culture question – not just about someone coming into my house)  Also, what will serve my family best?

In real life, there are often competing goals that sometimes don’t play well together.

Are you desperate and in need? That will certainly play a role in me letting you in.  Of course, especially as a Christian, but just as a believer in truly objective right and wrong, I hate to see any human suffer.

12240125_1171063369589223_3683907875217567825_nI pray that an answer can be found, even in a hard complex situation like this that allows us to take care of these hundreds of thousands of hurting and desperate people.

I do imagine myself like the man to the right.  If those are his children, I can fathom doing whatever it took to find safety for them.  Is there a way to offer them that within this complex problem?  I hope so.  I also know there there are thousands of dads like that all over the world not getting the attention he is.  How many can be helped?  One more than now, is all I can think of.  I know that Compassion International, for example, has one more child you can help right now, if you are more than just about posting memes about how governments should help and are willing to do something with your own money right now.

(back to the refugees, I know there are Christians by the droves already syrian-humanitarian-crisis-deepens-Abod_tcm15-71798trying to help, as they are refugees all over the world already… this isn’t a new problem… and since we are part of a Body, I am a part of that.  I am hoping they know what they are doing to help these people in ways that help.

Are my resources limited? That will play a role too.  How long can I help before I have doomed you and everyone I let into the house?

Is there someone out there that I know wants to kill me and has been known to disguise themselves as you? Not your fault, but it may mean more hesitation on my part to let you in.

I am not trying to relate directly letting someone into my home to letting certain refugees into the US or not… in fact, my point is that making that call must be at least hundreds of times more complex than me and my house.

Which is hundreds of times too complex to be simplified in a meme.  I do not think we do anyone justice by all racing to post something this week and then move on to the meme flood of the week next week.

I look forward to the day when people can remember that life is actually complex and that rarely is it valuable to summarize your opponents’ views into something that can be posted in a little picture with some words on it.

Or at least, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you are making a compelling point that way.

The Thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”  Jesus Christ.

For years I have talked to mostly men, and a few women, about issues connected to the temptations particular to pornography.   Since the incidents of women engaging in pornography is apparently on the rise, I have decided to go back and add both genders to the conversation here…

Hooked on love

Hooked on love

“Porno-graphy” is the combination of two Greeks words meaning the graphic representation or the graphic version of sexual immorality.

It isn’t new.

Since people could carve stone, there have been examples of pornography.

 

And for years, I have wondered at the roots of why it is tempting to us.

When you take out all of the factors that might “explain” the temptation – unhappy life, unchosen celibacy, and even the general drive toward sexuality – and all of these can be removed as variables – there is still an intrigue.  Why?

Even if we are happily married to a beautiful person with an active, varied and adventurous sex life… and we aren’t particularly in the mood for engaging sexually at some point we can still find ourselves tempted by pornography!

Now, before I go on, I want to clarify that I believe that viewing, reading, or participating with pornography is sin.  The fact that it is a temptation generally common to all people doesn’t make it less destructuve.

All sexual immorality is condemned as sin in the Bible.

See passages like 1 Cor 5:1, 1 Cor 6:18, 2 Cor 12:21, Col 3:5, and 1 Th 4:3.  It is sin, and as such, is toxic to human life.

God desires something better for us – a  more full, meaningful and life-giving way of living…

But Pornography is incredibly destructive to relationships and famously addictive… worse, it isn’t like alcohol or drugs.  As lethal as these are, they are external of the person.  Technically (though it is incredibly hard), a person can just leave drugs or alcohol somewhere and stay
away from that place.  Sexual addictions, like pornography (once it is inside your head) is like food.  You can stop doing meth…

But you can’t stop eating and you can’t stop being a sexual person.  It can make the addiction that much more lethal.

The endorphins that make the experience so addictive come from inside our own body, and they are some of the strongest feelings we
have.  The linkages can be very strong.

So, as we begin to look at some of the aspects of temptation posed by pornography, I don’t want it to be taken as treating sin with kid
gloves.  Far from it.  I think it can be healing and empowering to understand things.

Truth sets us free.
When sin is brought into the light, it loses a lot of its strength.  Additionally, for those NOT tempted by pornography, it may be valuable to hear and understand more.  So, let’s get to it:

Why is pornography tempting?

*  I believe that it is a “normal”, healthy thing that men are attracted to the female form (or in the case of a female, the male form).

*  I believe that it is also so that men are typically specifically intrigued with the parts of the female form that are special and different from the male form (and vice versa).

* I believe that it is also healthy for men and women to be intrigued with sexuality.

I believe that these are generally God given desires and interests.  Certainly most women and wives would feel like something was wrong if the men and husbands in their lives did not have these interests!

Again, I think these are God given healthy desires that anyone might want to find in their husband, son, etc.

Note:  I am not making any comment about homosexuality or any other specific individual attractions.  I can do that in another article  ometime… and attraction is a very complex science that would requires more than I am willing to take here.  I am speaking in general terms at this point.

God has offered an amazing provision for the experience and expression of these desires and interests… a place that is meant to be safe,
free and full of grace (https://chrismlegg.com/2011/03/07/facets-of-sexuality-part-2-intimate/)…

… called marriage.
Marriage is particularly crafted to offer this place of safety for handling something as powerful as sexuality.
Marriage is like a secure castle wall in which the power of sexuality can be safely engaged with and enjoyed…

Does anyone doubt its power?
Like a fire, in the proper setting, sex is life-giving and enchanting;  out of the proper setting, it creates a constant risk of death and destruction.

I didn’t anyone doubted it… we all know how powerful it is.

Those listed above are God-given and healthy interests.

But there is a rule about that here on planet earth…

If there is a God given yearnings and God given provision, then there are also going to be alternatives…

Believe it.  Satan offers us many alternative ways to fill the God-given desires.  I don’t think he can create true desires.  He can only offer substitute provisions for the desires that God created.

So he does.  He has provisions too.

Counterfeits.counterfeit_0612

Pornography is one of them.

More on this battle we face next time.