Month: June 2016

Family Value #5

“Emery ripped my new shirt that I let her borrow, and she doesn’t even care!” Makenna wailed from the top of the stairs. She had recently celebrated her seventh birthday, and three-year-old Emery coveted the Little Mermaid shirt Makenna had received as a gift from Grandma.

“What happened?” I asked Emery after pulling her into her bedroom and shutting the door.

Hintz kids
Hintz kids

“It was an accident,” she said as tears spilled down her cheeks.

“And she doesn’t even care!” Makenna called through the closed door.

“Why would Makenna think you don’t care?” I asked Emery.

“I don’t know,” she sobbed. “I feel really bad.”

“Well, honey, a feeling is only obvious to the person feeling it. If you don’t tell your sister, ‘Thank you for letting me borrow your new shirt,’ she will not know you appreciate it
. If you don’t say, ‘I’m sorry I ripped your new shirt,’ she will not know you regret being careless. And there is no fight like a sister fight involving clothing.”

This was the logic that led to Feelings Aren’t Actions being added to our family values.

The flip side of this principle is important also.

“Drake is whopper mad at me because I beat him at Super Smash Brothers,” Josiah told me. He had watched a Burger King commercial about the Whopper and translated the term to mean, “the very most,” and adopted it into his ten-year-old boy vocabulary.

“You know, Josiah, it is okay for people to feel angry or upset with you. Feelings aren’t actions.”

“Yeah, but look,” Josiah said pointing out the window. We both watched as Drake marched across the backyard and popped Josiah’s football with a steak knife. “Feelings are actions now,” Josiah said.

I hope my kids have learned that it is okay for people to have unpleasant feelings toward them. Feelings, even unpleasant ones, are not an action. Hurt, upset, and angry feelings show us a chance to listen and decide what we can do, if anything, to fix what is wrong.

We discussed this with our children once they became teenagers, and Mike explained, “We are pretty quick to judge other people by their actions, but we always judge ourselves by our intentions.”

“I totally do that,” Makenna fessed up. “I get upset with people for things they do, but I hate it when they get mad about something I did because I know I didn’t mean it the way they took it.”

“Adults do the same thing,” I said. “I was running late and decided I’d fill out the forms Josiah needs  later, but then I was tempted to be annoyed when he hadn’t emptied the trash by the time I wanted him to. I gave myself grace for not having time, but it was harder to give grace to Josiah because I was judging his action instead of his intention.”

“Well,” Josiah said, “in that case, you probably should have been annoyed because I probably forgot.” I love that kid.

In parenting, this value snuck up on me.

“I’m pretty sure Emery hates me,” I told Mike late one night. “She can’t stand to be around me, she never wants to talk to me, anme and mike antique finishd the last time she wasn’t irritated with me was over two years ago.”

“We are in a really rough stretch with her,” Mike said. “But, feelings aren’t actions. You are dealing with her actions of animosity now, but, this is a long life, and there is a lot of history and a lot of future. The actions we are seeing right now are not a true picture of her feelings.”

“I’m pretty sure she feels like she hates me.”

“Maybe, but she also feels unsure, insure, afraid, confused, lost. I’m sure you already know this, but it is really important that our actions toward her don’t reflect the hurt feelings we have. We need to be consistent and loving.”

“Don’t tell me what to do smarty pants.”

Don’t call people names is not one of our values.

Family Value #4

“How much of our life do we spend brushing our teeth?” Drake asked me one evening as I was helping him get ready for bed.

“I spend a lot,” I told him. “You spend hardly any.”

“Well,” he continued, not denying it, “how much of our life do we spend doing stupid stuff, like studying spelling words?”

The question stopped me in my tracks, and not just because I hated quizzing him on spelling words.  I thought about it all night and the entire next day. I did some reading and stumbled across a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

If I had a choice, I would want to exchange my minutes and hours for something rich with meaning. I would trade days to get medicine to those who need it. I would trade hours to invest in a friendship. I hope my kids would give some of their minutes to help the homeless or save our planet. But, when I thought about it, most of our time seemed to be traded for completing school projects, forcing Drake to finish his reading assignment, and asking Emery to practice her violin.

Sure, we can eliminate some of the needles hustle from our schedule, but we can’t simply stop doing most of the mundane stuff. The bank account still needs balanced and the carpet still needs vacuumed. So, then, since life is made up of so much menial work, can we make it matter? Can I tap into the fabric of the eternal story woven through all of time, pull down a thread and spin it into the modest tasks that comprise my daily routine?

We decided to add Make It Matter to our list of family values. I quickly saw that the trivial moments of parenting matter. Instead of quickly tucking Makenna into bed at night, I sat beside her, held her tiny hand, asked her questions, laughed at her jokes, left butterfly kisses on her cheek. Bedtime mattered. Instead of eating with the TV on, we sat at the table, talked, listened. Suppertime mattered.

We were at an amusement park one day, and the ride Josiah wanted to experience above all others had an enormous line in front of it.

“Do you want to ride this one now?” I asked him as Mike took the other kids to find a bathroom.

“Well,” he said, thoughtfully, “I only want to ride it once, so I think we should wait for the others and ride it with everyone.”

The thought process was simple, but the impact was profound: Let’s make it matter.

As the kids grew and wanted to get involved in endless activities, we explained to them that we wanted to be careful what we exchanged our life on. We asked that they would pick only one activity to be involved in so we could leave some space in our life to mine what mattered.

Some things mattered all by themselves, like studying math and going to church. But, other things seemed trivial although we still wanted the kids to do them, like practicing their instruments and mowing the lawn, so we asked if they would consider ways to add a deeper reason to some of the things they exchanged their minutes and hours for.

“I think I know of a way to make practicing my violin matter,” Emery said to us a few days later.Emery at children's hospital “There is a children’s hospital where kids live who have been severely injured. They love music, but never get to hear it live. I thought I could go there and play some violin music for them.” There is a vast difference between practicing the violin in order to be ready for a concert your parents will attend and practicing in order to play music for children who will never have the chance to attend a concert. Practicing became meaningful and playing became an honor.

I like infusing purpose into things we already do. That’s why I like long suppers and unhurried bedtimes. It’s why I like turning off the TV. It’s why I am selective about extracurricular activities. It’s why every few years we spend our vacation money on a missions trip instead.

We only get to do this ride once. Let’s make it matter.

Disciple Drama

“You know how Cedarville is a Baptist university?” Josiah asked a few days after completing his freshman year and returning home for the summer.

“Yes,” Mike answered.

“Well, they believe differently than I grew up believing about some issues, and it’s confusing. Do you think we could pick a few topics and have family discussions every week over the summer so I can think through these things?”

“Absolutely,” Mike said enthusiastically. “You pick the topics, I’ll brush up on my research, and we will take them one at a time.”

“Let’s start with the role of women in ministry. I grew up believing women could and should minister in whatever role they wanted to. But, at Cedarville, some of the students were talking about how women couldn’t be in authority over a man.”

“People get that from 1 Timothy. So, read that passage and we will discuss it at the end of the week.”

A few nights later we all gathered in the living room.

“Did you read the book of 1 Timothy?” Mike asked the kids as we all snuggled into our places on the couch.

“Yes, and I have a question,” Emery said. “Why is it called Timothy if it was written by Paul?”

“It is named for the person the letter was written to. Paul most likely received letters from people who were asking him questions, and he responded by writing a letter back with their answers and some of his thoughts. These letters were gathered and comprise a large part of the Bible we have today.”

“So, do we have the letter of questions Timothy wrote to Paul?” Josiah asked.

“No,” Mike answered.

“What happened to it?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe Paul didn’t keep the letters after he responded.”

“Well, that has to make Paul feel like a terrible friend,” Drake said.

“No kidding!”Josiah agreed.

And, then, because Josiah and Drake are bonded by the brain in a way the rest of us cannot accessBoys laughing or comprehend, they instantly began improvised dialogue between the disciples of yesteryear.

Do you still have the letters I wrote you?” Josiah asked in his best Timothy impersonation, which is apparently nasal and nerdy.

Nope,” Drake answered in a gruff Paulish voice.

What did you do with it?” Josiah/Timothy asked.

Burned it,” Drake/Paul answered with zero compassion.

Why did you have to burn my letter?” Josiah/Timothy asked, highly offended.

Didn’t have to. Just did,” Drake/Paul answered. “What did you do with mine?

I put it in the BIBLE!

This is why we can’t have serious talks.

 

 

 

 

Family Value #3

“The girls at school said something must be wrong with me because I am the only one who doesn’t have a boyfriend,” Makenna told me as she ate her after-school snack at the kitchen table.

“What?” I asked, trying my best to sound like I wasn’t about to go mom-crazy on a bunch of third grade girls. “How are you the only third grader who doesn’t have a boyfriend?”

“Mom,” Makenna said with exaggerated patience, “boys like girls in third grade.”

“Well, there is nothing wrong with you,” I told her, wishing I could wrap her in cotton balls so nothing would ever hurt her.

“How can we be sure?” she asked as she dipped an apple slice in cinnamon and took a big bite.

She had a good question. How can she be sure nothing is wrong with her? When all the people in her world were telling her one negative message, how could she be sure it wasn’t true? If I simply contradicted them, how could she be certain my message was the one she should listen to? It bothered me because I knew she needed to find the message in a way that didn’t simply rely on my word contradicting the words of her friends. She needed a stronger message than my voice alone.

Later, after I had time to muster up some brilliance, I told Makenna, “The Bible says that God sings over you and He delights in you. And even the Declaration of Independence says that everybody is equal and has the rights. Your friend’s opinions, and even my opinion, are biased, but the writers of the Bible and the writers of the Declaration of Independence weren’t saying these things just to be nice – they objectively believe each person is loved and has dignity and rights.

“It’s like this,” I continued. “You know how you can be in a crowd of people and if someone shouts, “Jessica!” only a few girls turn to look? It’s because everyone in the crowd knows if their name is Jessica or not. So, as you go through life, know your name. Know what it is and know what it is not. Here are some things your name is not: stupid, klutz, weirdo, annoying, wrong. Here are some things your name is: accepted, child of God, known, chosen, loved, consecrated, powerful, citizen, equal. You don’t need your name plus anything. So you don’t need a boyfriend, a perfect score, a bad friend, name brand clothes, make up. You are enough just as you are.”

As the kids entered their teenage years, it was important to remind them, almost daily, that their name was not ADD, loveless, irrational, incompetent, fat, or ugly. And, as a parent, I had to be reminded that my name was not overwhelmed, out of touch, old, or exhausted. When I was around certain groups of other moms, I had toall kids in hawaii by hole be okay with the fact that my name was not country club, Paris vacation, new car, organic, organized, or never let my kids get hurt or dirty.

Know your name is both an encouragement and a challenge. If the Bible calls you one who is full of love, then act lovely. If the Declaration of Independence says you have dignity, then be dignified.

And don’t worry if people don’t understand you. They don’t know your name.

 

 

Family Values #2

Love Does is the name of a book written by Bob Goff, who is about the coolest person in the world. He does stuff. He has rescued children from the murdering clutches of witch doctors. He has had slumber parties with world leaders. I wish I knew him.

We learned a lot from Bob Goff, but one thing that kept bouncing around in our heads like the reverberations of a gong hit with full strength was when he said, “love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.” As soon as we read the book, we added Love Does to our family values.

In talking to our teenage kids about it one afternoon, Mike asked them, “How could you do love instead of just feel love?”

“One time I walked into a gas station to pay for gas,” Drake said, “and the guy working there had dropped a bunch of cups on the floor. I helped him pick them all up, and he was really thankful. I think if I just noticed more, I could do things like that more often.”

I thought that was pretty good. Maybe as Drake notices more and offers more people help that selfish word ME that lives in the center of the human mind might get shoved aside. Maybe what started with him picking up cups at the age of sixteen will result in him doing battle with a witch doctor when he is thirty.

A few years ago on a cold day in December I couldn’t find Josiah. I looked all through the house, and, just as I as about to panic, he walked through the front door barefoot and still in his pajamas. My relief quickly turned to alarm when I noticed is bloody legs, bloody elbows, and frozen feet.

“What happened to you?” I shouted.

“I had to chase a dog,” he said, like that should clear it all up.

“Why?”

“I saw Justin out the window, and he was running and yelling. I opened the door and asked what was wrong and he said his dog ran away.”

“Did the dog attack you?” I asked, wiping his legs with a clean rag.

“No. I fell. It’s icy.”

“Why didn’t you put on shoes or warmer clothes?”

“I didn’t have time.”

“Didn’t you think you might freeze?” I asked.

“Mom,” Josiah said patiently, “love does.”

We had a laugh that day at Josiah’s spontaneous and heartfelt action. His simple perspective was funny and touching. But, one year later, Josiah’s friend and fellow chaser of dogs, Justin, killed himself. It was a devastating shock. We grieved in waves, Josiah most of all. I wish we had known to do more than simply help chase a dog. I wish we had known to get Justin help. I wish Justin had told Josiah how he was feeling. I wish I had met Justin’s mom and invited her to coffee. But, thank God Josiah did not sit comfortably in our warm house while Justin ran after his dog alone. Thank God love prompted Josiah to play his small part – that poor boy needed a friend to chase a dog with more than any of us knew. We didn’t know Justin was not okay. We didn’t know a great many important things.

But love did.

When the kids were little, they naturally acted out their love in snuggles and hugs. As they aged, they did love by helping their sister with homework or covering their brother’s chores when he was sick. Love Does motivated Drake as a senior to invite Emery, his sophomore sister, to hang out with him and his friends after we moved to a new state and she was lonely. It is what prompted us as parents to make the financial decision to take a family missions trip and show love to Drake in CR w baby girl pigtailsome children with rough lives in Costa Rica.

I don’t know how to do all the things I want to do. I don’t know how to feed the poor in Nepal. I don’t know how to eliminate human trafficking. I don’t know how to respond calmly and encouragingly to my stubborn, temperamental children.

But love does.