Happy Thanksgiving

Babe would like her blogger friends to know that she is much better now. The mole/gopher-digging obsession seems to have passed and she is back to thinking normally--which for Irish Setters is only barely noticeable.
She and the entire McCombs family wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. (Yankee would have wished you one too, but she's inside guarding the food dish.)
Check back starting Monday for a blog series on a topic I am excited about bringing you, as it threatens millions of families, maybe yours. I'll share my personal experiences and hopefully provide some help and encouragement for others going through the same nightmare.

Change A Life

My house looked so pretty in the fall sunshine, I had to share it with you! (Yankee had to be in the picture too. Couldn't make her move!)

My amazing daughter Susie is at it again. She and her friends are creating an organization to benefit children and adults in poverty-stricken areas, by making bracelets with the names of children they've met who need prayer and support. For a donation of at least $5, they will mail you a bracelet and information card of someone in need.They will use the donations to further their work and provide transportation for their band to go to these poverty-stricken areas, play benefit concerts, and help the local pastors minister to the people there.

They're just kids with big dreams, but they're dreaming in the right direction. Susie has put together a quick YouTube video of their project. Take a minute to check it out.
"But in as much as you do it unto the least of these, my brothers, you have done it unto Me..."

Thankful for WHAT?

As the season of Thanksgiving rolls around once more, our thoughts turn quickly to the bland, the usual, the easy. Most of us consider ourselves to be thankful people. We can rattle off a list at a moment's notice: family, friends, home, freedom. Those things for which Thanksgiving costs us nothing.

But Scripture commands us to give thanks in everything, so this Thanksgiving, I challenge you to dig deeper. Open up your heart and let God root around in those private, dark places where the hurts and frustrations reign. Those areas we know can't be God's will for us: that rejection letter, that friend's betrayal, the bad medical report, the economy. How can we give thanks for something opposite of what we want?

Thanksgiving often requires sacrifice, but it is this very act of sacrificial thanks that pleases God. He knows you're thankful for the nice dinner and the healthy kids. Big deal! But what about the losses, the heartaches, the disappointments that keep you up at night? Can we bring "the sacrifice of praise" even when our life isn't bringing us the fulfillment we expected?

This season offers us the opportunity to offer back to God thanksgiving and praise for the things we despise about our lives. For only then can He begin to make something good out of them. Only then are we offering a thanksgiving that really means something.

On Raising Teenagers

Whew! That about covers it. If you are in the season of life where you are neck-deep in adolescent thinkology, you understand what I mean.

Let me preface this post with the statement that I have the greatest kids in the world. As typical teenagers go, my current three are well above average and thankfully not prone to the terrifying lifestyles and choices so many kids and parents find themselves battling. (I won't mention the first one. We had plenty of those issues too.) And since our eldest at home is actually 20, he's not technically a teenager, but for all practical purposes, he still is.

Raising teenagers has been equated with nailing Jell-o to a tree. Teenagers themselves find this puzzling and until they are parents themselves, they still won't get it. What is it about an otherwise terrific kid that is so exhausting to deal with on a daily basis?

As I was having to give a yes/no answer to another of my wonderful daughter's convoluted plans, I thought about that. After over 23 years of parenting, I often wonder if my battery is petering out. Do you ever just think you can't make one more decision that will send that precious youth into a pout? Why are teenagers more mentally and emotionally taxing than little ones? After all, they are (for the most part) house-trained. They can dress themselves, however questionable the result may be. They can speak in complete sentences--if they choose to. And they have fairly developed reasoning skills. So what it is?

I think it is their unwavering commitment to idealism. They see life the way they want it to be and can't understand why the adults are "so negative." They make--or attempt to make--decisions based on fantasy and dreams and an idealized version of reality; whereas, you the parent, are forced to constantly shoot holes in their balloon. Being the bringer of bad news is exhausting to anyone, and that's the role parents of teenagers must take to keep the little sweethearts on the straight and narrow and out of danger.

Reasoning with idealization is frustrating and often pointless. It's the point at which enemy lines are drawn and you must be the bad guy again, the mean old grumpus who takes the fun out of everything. Who doesn't "beleeeeeve in them." When they were little, a nap or lollipop usually did the trick. Not so after a certain age, when they insist on arguing with you.

Sooo, as I face a few more years parenting teens, I wonder where I'm going to get the mental energy to battle idealism while not tromping on the budding spirit. To say "no" when it's for their protection, yet be willing to watch them fall in order to learn. To refuse to be drawn into mindless arguments, yet allow them to express their ideas without criticism.

I know the only source of strength and wisdom, and even with Him it's still hard. How do people do this without God?

Just Let Go

A child was taken from a deplorable living situation and placed in a clean, safe home. Her every need was met: all the food she wanted, warmth, cleanliness, and love.

But she refused to let her new caretakers have the rancid rags she wore. She clutched them tightly, turning away from the beautiful soft clothing they held out for her to wear. Fear shadowed her eyes every time they offered an exchange of garment and she shook her head violently. "No, I need this. This is mine. I can't live without it."

The filthy clothing began to chafe and irritate her skin. The fumes kept others away, but still she hung on. It may be rotten, but it was familiar. She'd worn it so long, she didn't understand how much better it could be if she would just let go.

Letting go is tougher than it sounds. How many things do we cling to, certain that were we to let go, we would lose something precious? But most of what we refuse to let go of is as rancid as the child's clothing. We cling frantically to things, relationships, positions, and reputation when God is gently asking us to let go so He can give us what he's planned for us.

And too often, we cling to harmful emotions like anger, bitterness, and pride, certain, like the child was certain, that we can't live without it. Others can see it for what it is, but we believe it to be valuable, often never realizing what we are sacrificing in order to hang on to our filthy rags.

What might God be asking you to let go of this week? Are you clinging to something familiar and denying yourself the freedom that God wants to give you?

Try letting go. I did. And I'll never be the same.