Monday, August 12, 2013

Taking Care of What Has Been Given to You: Parenting Adult Children

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world
but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name.
Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost
 John 17:9,12

Our Warrior Arrows blog was created to talk about our experience with adoption and parenting our adopted children. But as time has gone by and the boys are assimilating into our family and hearts, we find ourselves speaking more as simply parents.  The past 2 and a half years with our “grafted” sons have been the experience of a lifetime.  On one hand its the most difficult thing we’ve ever done, while on the other, its one of the most meaningful things we’ve ever done in life. But today, we write about our other children.  The ones that are now adults.  We want to share some of our heart as parents of adult children.    

The article begins as an afterthought to a recent conversation I had with a colleague at work about our experience as fathers.  The crux of his comments was something along the lines of when his children were young he felt the responsibility of fatherhood, but now that they are adults, he can relax and be more of a spectator in their lives.  I responded that “to my adult children, I feel more responsibility now than ever to parent them”!  I went on to explain that I felt more responsibility to make good decisions in life in order that my children may have a good path to follow and that someday, they will inherit not only an estate, but a legacy of decision making they observed in every one of mine and Karen’s deeds, enterprises and relationships in life.  I spoke of how some of my older children are currently facing health challenges, financial pressures and career choices, and how, as a parents, we bear every single one of our children’s challenges in life. While my colleague smiled and agreed with me, the look on his face said otherwise.  I’m not sure that he understood what I was saying.  Perhaps I can explain now what its like for Karen & I to parent adult children.

You see, its easy to have faith when everyone has perfect health.  Its easy to preach The Blessing of Deuteronomy 28, i.e., “God will grant you abundant prosperity…” when you have a good, well-paying job.  And its easy to worship when your young children are living safely in your shadows.  But now, as adult children, they have grown up problems.  You know what they are because you’ve been there.  The game has changed.  God is more than a concept or a mystical being conjured up to somehow pacify your fears when the lightning cracks next to the bedroom window in the midst of a fierce thunder storm.  This is real life and we knew how tough it could be at times.  We worked hard at creating a culture at home that sheltered our kids from the harsher parts of life.  But it’s time.  Their time!  Like my friend, we wish it was as easy as “well now they are 18 and on their own and I’ve done my part …” as if this inevitable life maturation somehow absolves us of any further parental responsibilities.  But its not that easy.  Not for us anyway.  We want to fix everything.  That’s what we do in life.  That’s what parents do.  Fix it…Kiss it…there, its all better and life is good again!   However, life is now chiseling out its next champion of faith and we have different roles.  Not less important or free from responsibility, but different. 

The different role contains several desires.  There is a desire to continue to protect our children.  We still don’t want them hanging out with questionable characters and the desire to clean off skinned knees doesn’t subside.  I suspect this desire to protect your children is the root cause of many an adult child and parental conflict, i.e., parents trying to control how their children will live their lives.  It’s a delicate balance between constructive input and destructive denial of their adult responsibility to choose a meaningful path.

Then there is a desire to fix our children’s lives, particularly the parts that are a source of distress or pain for them. It’s a real struggle for a parent when an adult child becomes sick or they are laid off from their job or they can’t find a way to get to their next step in life.  The parental impulse is to jump in and fix it but its more like running a race with your feet tied together!  Make the greasy haired, foul-mouthed, agnostic, mess of a kid stay away from your teenage son or daughter!  But now the rules are different.  Different because the greasy haired agnostic grew up, became an atheist and is your son’s supervisor!  The situation is more complex and requires a different response from you as a parent.  Its not just “go away” or “because I said so” or “hey, I pay the bills around here”.  No.  This requires a more sophisticated form of protection that is firmly based in life principles, core values, and Godly wisdom.  It is the response of a seasoned parent.

Finally, the role of parenting adult children is characterized by friendship.  There I said it.  We want to be our children’s best friends.  We want them to trust our counsel.  We want them to have confidence in our life decisions.  We want them to maintain that “my dad can fix anything” and “mom always knows best” attitude even though such a thought is laughable and irrational.

How the Trinity works is a bit of a mystery to me.  I get the basic idea and Jesus certainly expressed more than once that He and the Father where One.  As such, Jesus knew the heart of a parent.  The words found in John 17 are an example.  The words express what its like to be the parents of an adult child.  Paraphrased, Jesus was saying that He looked after them right up to the end; that those given into His care continued in His care beyond the crib, beyond toddlerhood and adolescence and into full maturation as adult believers.  You can feel both His connection and sense of responsibility that He feels when He says:  those whom You have given me, not one of them is lost!  This, my friends, is the heart of a parent! It doesn’t stop when they stop living under your roof, but rather, when you breath your last.  And at that moment the pride of every parent is to say the same thing that Jesus said:  Father, I’m coming home.  I took care of those that You gave me right up to the very end…and not one of them is lost!

Until we speak again, look after the ones that He has given you and count yourself among the most fortunate to do so…

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bunk Room

Since adding the boys into our family we have done a lot of rearranging in the house. Rearranging bedrooms has been the biggest of changes we have made and we have rearranged numerous times to get just the right fit for everyone. Space is not a problem. We could put everyone in their own room but that hasnt been the best option. We have tried individual rooms, and different combinations of pairing up and finally we came to our current set up and it has been wonderful.

In the beginning this room was inspired by Pinterest. I kept seeing bunk rooms and they were so cute. We had two sets of bunk/twin beds in different rooms so to move everyone in the same room for sleeping was not that big of a risk. The joke around our house is Karen shows Russell a picture and he makes it. It works out very nicely. So I got the picture and he began working on it.

We chose a room to make into our bunk room. This room would be for sleeping and clothes. Another room will be the play room with all the toys. The first task was to paint the room. I began that while Russell began the construction of the bunk bed frames.

This room has a chimney going up through it makes  a strange little box area in the middle of the main wall so we had to build around that. The over all size of the room is about 13 x 17 ft. It just so happened that the beds fit perfectly on either side of the extension.

Then we painted the beds to match the walls to create a built in feeling.

The boys love the bunk room! Everyone has their own bed and there are no distractions during the night. Everyone sleeps much better together and then there is the  play room for all the playing. That will be another post coming soon.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sibling Rivalry

So this morning I'm minding my own business, enjoying a little quiet time and reading from the Good Book when I come across a scripture in John 21 that makes me laugh.  Now I don't often see scripture as a discourse in comedy, but I couldn't help myself this morning.  The dynamic was all too familiar.  This exchange records the 3rd time He has appeared to someone since His resurrection from the dead.  He is having a nice little conversation with Peter on the seashore.  Just the 2 of them strolling down the coastline enjoying a special little one-on-one friendship time that Peter must have found infinitely rewarding when he notices something.  "The disciple whom Jesus loved" is following along behind them.  Its a real Raymond and Robert moment if you know what I mean (think Everybody Loves Raymond).

Now understand that Jesus had just encouraged Peter to take the lead, me "the man", feed the sheep, garner the troops...well, you get the idea.  But when Peter catches a glimpse of this disciple... whom Jesus loved...following along looking all the world like he was trying to crowd in on his private time with the risen Savior, he can't help himself.  Peter knows better than to question the disciple's right to be there or on a more primative level, even exist.  After all, he had seen Jesus in action and was aware that one of His most defining mantras was "let them come".  So in that moment, filled with what I suspect was irritation, Peter blurts out, "Well what about this guy, Jesus?  What's in it for him?"  (paraphrased by might want to read it for yourself at John 21:21!).  I close my eyes and hear the words of Robert as he concedes in his dejection, "everybody loves Raymond"!  

And Jesus' reply?  

"If I want him to live to remain until I come, what is that to you?"  I think another translation here would be something like:  "Whatever Peter!  If I say he lives until I come back, that's nunya!... none-of-your-business!"  

It was a classical moment!  A vintage sibling rivalry moment!  It struck me as funny because we've had this same moment with our, so many times!

  • “Don’t worry about what your brother is wearing!  Just worry about what you have on!"
  • “Don’t worry about what your brother got for his birthday!  You play with your toys and be happy for him!”
  • “Don’t worry about what he’s got on his plate!  You eat what’s on yours!”  
  • "You are not your brother's keeper.  Just mind your own business!"
  • "What is that to you if he got a piggyback ride!"

I suppose that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child and only through considerable effort and discipline is it tamed. Jesus had to deal with it and so have we…hundreds of times!  Its immature, its misguided, its aggravating and its selfishness in its rawest form…but its life and intricately wound up in the heart of a boy or girl, man or woman.  Its called, “who’s getting what?” and “hey, I got the short end of the stick!”  Its more that just petty jealousy or simple selfishness. The issue stems from a fear that I will not have what I need and an anxiety that I will not be taken care of.  It is a basic question that each of us must answer:  do we really believe that our Father in Heaven will provide for us, on a personal, intimate level, what we need and do so in abundance as He promised to do? (see Jesus' other words earlier in the book of John, chapter 10 verse 10).  

The good news is that our boys are learning and so do we as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.  So until we talk again...hey Lord, I saw a brand new BMW in front of John's house...!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Memorandum of Understanding©

While praying for America last fall, I had a bit of a "moment" if you will.  I suppose that I am one of the more fortunate people in that I had a good relationship with my father.  While not perfect, I knew he was invested in my life.  My relationship with my earthly father made it easy to believe in a Heavenly Father who is invested in my life.  But not just me, His investment extends to all mankind and particularly to this country.  For a moment, I saw a Father's heart.  I quickly moved to write it down at that time.  Now I'd like to share that moment.  

Memorandum of Understanding©
M. Russell Thomas, PhD

“Excuse me, Liberty, could you step into my office for a minute”.  I heard the Father’s voice as I hurriedly rushed down Gold Street heading for Cloud 268.  I was in a hurry for a meeting with the East Wing Angels Association but had come to understand that an opportunity to spend a little time with Father must be seized, for in that time refreshment and revelation for the soul follow.

But today Father was in a solemn mood.  All business as He gazed out over all His creation.  If I didn’t know any better I would say that he had been crying.  His eyes were swollen and ruddy although never failing to communicate a deep, piercing compassion that melts the deepest of fear and worry.

“Yes sir.  What can I do for you today, Father?” I asked as I stood in the large, ornate doorway of Father’s inner chamber.

“Please get your laptop.  Sit down.  I’d like to dictate a memo and need your help”, Father said in a rather businesslike fashion.

I quickly skirted down to my office and retrieve my small computer before returning to Father’s office.  He offered the seat at His large, cedar desk while He stood looking out over all of His creation.  His eyes peered on a particular land just off the horizon and west of the Jasper Gate.  It was a land I knew well:  America.

“Remember when I assigned you to America, Liberty?” Father asked with a notable tone of concern in His voice?

“Yes, I do Father!  You said they needed a little of me, ah, Liberty that is.  I was pleased to help them find their freedom”, I replied.

“Take this down, Liberty” Father launched right in to executive mode. “A Memorandum of Understanding.  Put it in Memo form from me.  To: America.  RE:  A Recent Misunderstanding.”

“Got it sir,” I quickly replied.

“Dear America.  It has recently come to my attention that some of My prophets, teachers, evangelists, apostles and pastors are spreading the word that I am angry with you. These same department leaders have cited the senseless shootings, a rash of wild fires, and economic calamities in America as evidence of my anger and displeasure with you.  Furthermore, these same department leaders have been forecasting a barrage of Heavenly judgments on America.  I’ve heard everything from Hurricanes to earthquakes to famines to biological calamities. 

I am writing to set the record straight.  NONE OF THIS IS THE TRUTH!” 

Um, put that in big, bold letters, Liberty”, Father said as He repeated himself…NONE OF THIS IS THE TRUTH!

“What I would like to say to you, America is this”. 

“And emphasize these words for me, Liberty”, Father spoke as a side note to His missive. 

Please do not mistake my anger that you think burns against you, for my love that burns for you!”

“You see America, I remember when we first started our relationship.  How you sought my advice and how I sent Liberty to you in your quest to be free from the bondage of tyranny.  The whole Tea Party thing in Boston was a hoot and I remember how we sat for hours together fashioning your Constitution.  And that Declaration of Independence was ‘Divinely’ crafted if I may so say myself!  I remember how we rode off into the Wild West together to settle unchartered territories and rope a few Doggies together.  How you rose up to my call to drive Hitler back from destroying innocent lives.  I have always been impressed with you, America and the way that you’ve supported My people, Israel.  How you’ve poured out of your resources to help the poor and needy around the world and were the first to arrive on the scene in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami.  America it has made me proud every time you’ve hollowed out the words “with Liberty and Justice for all”, for I have always loved those precepts.  I remember when you trusted me for all your needs and how you honored me when you decided to put the words, “IN GOD WE TRUST” on your money.  Yes, while it is true that our relationship has been strained of late and that it did hurt my feelings when you no longer wanted Me in your children’s classroom or when you wanted to take down My commandments in your buildings and as you have taken the lives of your young in the name of choice, I want you to know that there is absolutely no desire on My part to pass judgment on you now”.

Father stopped.  I waited while He turned to look back out towards the west.  I could see His Adam’s apple flutter violently in his throat as He fought back the tears.  In a few minutes Father regained His composure enough to utter a few last words and with a quivering voice said,… “America, all I want is for you to come back to me again.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Good Health Naturally!

Today's post is a little different. We wanted to draw attention to and explain the links to other sites on the side of our blog. You will see several other sites listed. Two are for other blogs we write that focus on our other interests. One for Faith and Finance and one for Party ideas. Two links are for Health products that we firmly believe in. So much so that we have joined the companies and built a  business with them. This is our story with those companies.

In 2000, Karen had just had our fifth child and was tired all the time. Naptime was not just for the baby, Karen had to rest daily too. We knew we needed more energy and better health. We took vitamins but we never felt any difference from any of the pill form vitamins we took and we tried a lot of them. We were constantly looking for something that would be good for  us and give us the energy we so needed. In fact we looked and tried products for 2 years before we found the best supplements on the planet and knew we had found the ones that really work.

A friend of ours, who happens to be a world reknown nutritionist introduced us to the Biometics products. They are liquid nutritional supplements and the only ones that are Micellized for maximum absorption and results. We knew immediately that these products were different.  We immediately felt the difference! They taste great and you can feel the energy go all through your body as you drink them.  2002 began our lifelong relationship with the products and the company.

Since being on the products we have many stories of results to share and those stories built a business for us that is still growing. Joint pain-gone, blood pressure lowered, energy levels raised, never being sick, rashes and allergies cleared up. As we got personal results we also learned more about nutrition and health and that if we give our bodies what it needs it will heal and repair itself. This led to seeing results with friends, family, neighbors and even clients. ADHD improved. Behavior issues improved, Autism improved.

As a psychologist, Russell was captured with the results that ADHD children (and adults) were reporting as a result of a unique blend of the Biometics products.  He started recommending the products to some of his patients and coaching them using the products.  The results were more than impressive.  After several years of seeing result after result, Russell felt that he needed to share his experiences working with the products and ADHD in written form.  In 2008 he published Turbo Charged Childhood and has continued to work with families and their children, combining traditional counseling with a unique blend of liquid nutritional supplements.

When we first brought our adopted children home, they were malnourished and sickly. We began giving them Biometics and they began to heal. One of our sons had chronic ear infections and had been on and off antibiotics his whole life. Another was born premature and was still using a respirator. Within weeks, the premature son no longer needed his respirator and both responded incredibly to the Biometics products with drastically improved health.  No more antibiotics.  No more respirators.  All are growing stronger everyday!

The other link is for Essential Oils from Young Living. We just recently found these products and have been equally impressed in just a short time. We believe in taking care of our bodies and using natural resources to heal and help with everyday issues. In using these products we have been able to stay healthy and off of medication.  We have experienced relief from headaches, toothaches, back & neck pain, sore muscles, and eczema.  The oils have a lovely aroma that is both soothing and relaxing, generating a calming effect in your home.  The are also effective in promoting a good nights sleep!

We love natural results and healthy lives. We love to share our results with others and help them get the same great results we have gotten. We love learning more and more about healing the way God intended it. Please feel free to click on the links and try our products. We would love to hear from you and help you navigate your health and healing as well.

Our journey down the health path has been exciting and we have shared our experiences and results many times in a variety of venues.  As a result, we have developed a variety of training opportunities including on site seminars/ workshops, webinars, and phone consultations.  If you, your church group, or support group are interested in having us speak at your event or simply have questions, please feel free to contact us.  We would be honored to share with you what we have discovered for ourselves over the past 10+ years!