Parenting

How do you respond when you are told every day what a nobody you are?  When the people who are supposed to be your friends and co-learners in school instead ruthlessly call you demeaning names, and you feel you have no one to talk to?

Brenda Poage gets that.  And Brenda is a somebody that you need to know.  Wife and mother, author and visionary, Brenda – like most of us – is who she is because of how she has responded to some painful experiences in her life.

Brenda is a LifeVestor.

Kids can be cruel, but you don’t have to explain that to Brenda.  From the time she started school in her small Texas town, she was mercilessly bullied by other kids in school.  Having to play academic catch-up required that Brenda attend remedial classes. And she became the brunt of some pretty mean name calling and bullying.

So when educators and parents today start quoting statistics that as many as half of all school children are bullied in some way, Brenda does more than raise her hand as “Exhibit A.”  She did something about it.  And that’s how Ima Nobody Becomes a Somebody was born. [click to continue…]

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Ask an adult to define leadership, and sometimes you’ll get a blank stare, or a wad of contradictions.  Ask a child to do it, and he or she will often have a much easier time.  The leader in a kid’s world is the one who can get his friends to do what he wants them to do.  Or leadership may begin with the words, “Hey, you know what would be funny?” 

One thing adults should know that kids often don’t, however, is that anybody can lead.  That skinny, awkwardly-shy girl in third grade may be a corporate CEO or trailblazing missionary in the making.  That boy who’s always picked last for the kickball team may own a sports team one day.

Everybody is a potential leader. Leadership is not synonymous with talent or personality types.  Leadership ability is not always obvious.  And it sure isn’t the same thing as authority.

Leadership is influence.  And influence – especially good influence – can be taught.  And here’s the really cool part:  You can teach a child to influence others without them knowing that’s what you’re doing.

So whether you have kids of your own (works for grandchildren, too), or you work with children in some capacity, here are ten ideas for fostering leadership in the kids in your world. [click to continue…]

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Fathers and the Funnies

by Andy Wood on September 30, 2009

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Legacy

Joel and me 2Took a look at the funnies the other day.  To be honest, I read them for the laughter.  But I noticed something else in the process.  Call me sensitive, or call me curious, but I was intrigued at the ways dads are presented.  If it’s true that art imitates life, we may have some big problems.  With fathers.  With God.  With ourselves.

Who is Father?  According to the comics, he is Dagwood, the family calamity.  He lives to sleep, or to eat, or to deal with the occasional salesman.  He’s loveable, but always a little bit late, and about one brick shy of a load.

Who is Father?  [click to continue…]

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To see in him the image of two – an increase to my place in the world;
To shelter him, and walk at his pace until he can walk at mine;
To lend my strength until he has his own;
To model a partnership of intimacy and trust;
To introduce him to an abundant world;
To teach him the ancient ways, that will live in him beyond my lifetime;
To set him free, even from my influence;
To touch eternity by the ways I touch his life…

This is the sacred trust – to forever remain the friend of a child.

Photo Source:  Scenes from Indonesia

Photo credit:  REUTERS/Beawiharta

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The Stepmother

by Andy Wood on July 28, 2008

in Turning Points

 (A Turning Point Story)

Stepmother“Reverend Wood?”

I always know two things when somebody starts a conversation with that.  First, something interesting is sure to follow.  Second, whoever it is doesn’t know me very well.

It always feels a little awkward when somebody asks, “What should I call you?”  I never have liked the “reverend” thing; the only time I put it in front of my name is when I’m signing a funeral book.  I once had a reason for that; now it’s just habit.

My Baptist heritage made me “Brother Andy” to most people.  To me, that’s a higher life form than “reverend,” but still felt a bit, I don’t know, dated or preachy or something.

Whenever my wife hears the Abraham-Sarah story, she enjoys calling me, “My lord.”  “What would you like for dinner, my lord?”  She thinks it’s really funny.  I haven’t a clue why.

Since my move to Texas, I’ve been “Pastor Andy” to most people in church.  That’s OK.  “Andy” is even better.  I’ve always liked the simplicity of just being me.  But after watching people stumble over all that title biz for a while, I finally took a cue from one of my college professors:  a simple “Your Majesty” will do.

Anyway, “Reverend Wood” is at the bottom of the list.  And on this day the conversation that followed was interesting, to be sure.

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CCJ 3Not once did the thought occur to me.  Not once.

We knew at 10 weeks we were having twins, courtesy of those dandy new ultrasound machines.  And we were excited.  Fresh out of school, still using wedding dishes, living in our own home, and picking out not one, but two sets of names. 

Two boys?  Joel Andrew and Jeremy Adam. 

Boy and a girl?  Joel Andrew and Jessica Leigh.

I was pretty quiet as we headed home from that latest ultrasound.  The images were beginning to form in my mind for the first time.

Two girls?

Cosmic shifts started taking place in my little brain.  And they all culminated in a wedding.

Since I was old enough to understand what fathers were, I wanted to be one.  I was blessed to have a dad who loves being a dad, to this day.  In whatever ways I have failed to live up to his example, I caught the whole load on that one.  And in doing so, three deep convictions emerged:

  • I would be the first representation of the nature and character of God to my children.
  • We were called to raise adults, not children.
  • Mommies build nests, but for daddies, children are arrows in their hands, and my job was to launch them.

[click to continue…]

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Generations

by Andy Wood on June 18, 2008

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Legacy

Mamma and LouThis Saturday will be the next step in a season of some pretty intense generational shifts for us.  More on that tomorrow.  I wrote the following article ten years ago, during another such season.  It only seems like yesterday…

The voice on the phone was tired and quiet – not unusual for a hospital room at 9:20 pm.  They’d just gotten Lou (my grandmother) settled down for the night when I’d made my untimely call.  The occasion, other than to check on Lou, was to wish Mamma a happy 60th birthday.  A little ironic that I had to track her down at Providence Hospital where she was watching her mother edge closer to death. 

Life is filled with choices and changes, and my mom has seen her share of them.  But perhaps never with the magnitude and frequency of change she faces now.  Her mother has cancer, and is losing the battle.  Her son lives many hours away.  And up the highway a couple of hours, her daughter prepares for the Big One.  She’s preparing to leave the country for the mission field.

On this night, I enjoy a feminine family reunion by telephone.  I speak briefly to Lou, to tell her I am thinking of her, loving her, praying for her.  I hear the pain, the despair, the fear in her voice.  That growing sense of hopelessness that says, “I don’t feel good and I probably never will again.” 

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Christmas in May

by Andy Wood on May 15, 2008

in Life Currency, Love

Laura Kate 4I’ve said it often in church life:  there is nothing more useless (and sometimes obnoxious) than a new grandparent.

Uh huh.

So anyway…

Amazing creatures, these babies – resting peacefully in somebody’s eager arms or lying in the bed, quietly watching the world go by.  Filled with wonder at times, filling the room with noise at times.  Innocent and defenseless, yet powerful enough to hold your heart in their tiny hands.  So capable of needing and being needed, even before she takes her first nap. Babies!  I realized the other day how long it had been since I had held one, or played with one.  I remembered how little we still truly know about them.

How does God do that anyway?  How can one life be created in the image of two, a miniature version of her Mommy and Daddy?  How can she be so unable to care for herself, yet totally equipped to learn, to grow, and to develop?  What’s really going through her mind as she lies there quietly?  What will she become one day?  Will she be a woman or a witch, an angel or a devil?  We talk of “accidents,” but God never does.  What does God have in mind for her?  How much of God will she ever truly experience?  What kind of God will she see in me?  Or in her parents?

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4). 

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Mean MomHere’s what Jane’s Hambleton’s classified ad read:

“OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don’t love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet.”

Her phone lit up, as you might imagine.  Nobody wanted to buy the car, but everybody wanted to talk to Jane. 

Know why?  [click to continue…]

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