a collection of steps

Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Guns, Games & Cold Love: What Happened to the Golden Rule?

In Children, hate, love, plots, terror on May 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

A booking photo of Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes is shown in this handout supplied by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office in Centennial, Colorado

The lights were off and people of all ages sat innocently in their seats, eyes riveted to a silver screen. Twelve of them did not leave the theater. Fifty-eight left in ambulances.

It was midnight and a mother and three of her children were sound asleep. They would never wake to greet the morning. By dawn, her husband, too, would be dead.

She was still asleep when her dreams ended. It was dark when four bullets sunk into her head; she will never know that her son used her own guns to murder her and 26 others at the elementary school nearby.

My heart aches for the victims and loved ones of these heinous crimes. James, Nehemiah and Adam, once young men with families, talents and promising futures, are now suspects in three of the most unconscionable murderous rampages in our nation’s history.

What made them do it? What were they thinking? Where was their love for others? What made their love grow so cold?

Many are weighing in with answers to all of these questions from every angle. Do a Google search and you will find a plethora of speculative articles that place the blame for these mass shootings on bad parenting, guns, parents with guns, inadequate gun control laws, illegal drug use, mental illness, psychotic breakdowns, lack of security in our schools, violent video games, bullying, and more.

If you read my column on a regular basis, however, you know that I prefer to do a Bible search. No, I do not find answers in my Bible to why specific people in my country are shooting each other, but I do find specific causes for the current condition of our society.

For instance, in Matthew 24, Jesus describes what the world will be like just before he returns. After delivering a mind-numbing list of cataclysmic natural disasters, international revolutions, economic collapse, religious persecution, deception and betrayal, he reveals the answer to my question above: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12 NKJV

Lawlessness, adjective. 1. contrary to or without regard for the law: lawless violence 2. Being without law; uncontrolled by a law; unbridled; unruly; unrestrained: lawless passion 3. Illegal:  bootleggers’ lawless activity

Notice this word, lawlessness, is an adjective. Pardon the English lesson, but that means that it modifies a noun or pronoun. People are nouns. People are modified by lawlessness; their behavior changes, and it isn’t pretty.

Forgive me if it sounds like I am over-simplifying the dark complexities behind the motives of mass murderers, only God is able to do a thorough root cause analysis on such heinous offenders. But knowing our human struggle with evil, he graciously established a legal system to govern societies – to keep the peace, foster goodwill and nurture love – all the things that reflect his myriad attributes.

ap_new_mexico_family_slaying_jef_130122_wg

Again, my heart is broken for the traumatized survivors and victim’s families and loved ones of these terrible crimes. I don’t pretend to understand why young people find assault rifles glamorous or how they can aim them at their own parents, brothers, sisters, or grade school children and pull the trigger over and over. What I do understand is that love won’t grow cold when society collectively protects the laws of the land and we love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Top Photo: "A booking photo of Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes is shown in this handout supplied by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office (Handout) (Handout/Reuters)"
Bottom Photo: Susan Montoya Bryan/AP Photo; "A bouquet of flowers adorns the entrance to a home on Jan. 21, 2013, where a couple and their three young children were found shot to death south of Albuquerque, N.M. The couple's 15-year-old son, Nehemiah Griego, is facing counts of murder and child abuse in connection with the shootings.

A Perfect Government is Born!

In Bible, Children, Christ, Christmas, Jesus, kids, parenting on December 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Enemy forces occupied their country. Without notice, raids infiltrated their towns and their children’s blood ran in the streets. Spies mingled among them as they shopped. Life was not safe when they made their way home.

The road was rocky, dusty and long. Transportation was smelly and stubborn, an over-burdened burrow that smelled and clopped along in obedience to a sojourner whose pregnant wife was perched on its back.

When they arrived, the town was packed. Inns were swollen with like-travelers who also were required to return to their birthplace. The occupying regime had imposed a national census and the ancient city was teeming with more citizens than it had rooms to spare.

Unfortunately, the couple was desperate. Labor pains were dominating their decisions and soon any kind of shelter would suffice. Only one option arose.

The stable was on the outskirts of town, which meant more travel. Hungry, tired and anxious, the soon-to-be parents welcomed the rough surroundings and settled in for the long night.

As the humble pair wrapped the world’s future ruler in swaddling clothes, they were oblivious to the angelic choir that was announcing the event to a band of shepherds in a nearby field, and to the travelers from the east seeking an audience with him.

They had no idea that the gifts these wise men would lay at his feet would soon finance a midnight relocation to avoid a massacre of every male child two years or younger in their town.

Life was rough for the man and wife, from their betrothal, which was threatened by public shame when she became pregnant before the wedding, to their disappearance for several years in a foreign land.

When their son was twelve he came up missing during a family church visit and nearly gave his parents a heart attack looking for him.

His adult life was short. Within a few years he was known throughout the entire country and beyond its borders for having supernatural powers, and his proud widowed mother watched in horror as the government, fearful of that power, illegally condemned him and publicly murdered him.

But, back in the manger, sleeping safely in sight of their loving gaze, they named him Jesus by divine instruction, unaware that that name would be on every tongue in every nation of the world.

Some would use it to blaspheme, some to praise. Some would use it for gain, some to cry for help. Some would fight to eliminate it from public use; others would engrave it on their hearts.

His name would cause wars, settle arguments, divide nations and flow from the voices of carolers. It would comfort the weak, offend the strong, counsel the uninformed and free the prisoner.

Regardless, the name of Jesus was, is and always will be the only name by which we are saved from eternal death.

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” Isaiah 9:6-7

Sick

In career, Children, choices, Christ, God, healing, Jesus, kids, parenting, resurrection on August 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm

His daughter was about to die.  He had only one option to keep her alive: find the Healer.

sleepless night

That decision could cost him everything; his job, his reputation, his dignity. But Jarius was desperate.

He cast off the protocol of his position as a ruler in the local synagogue like an old stinky coat and publicly threw himself at Jesus’ feet.  Not exactly proper behavior for a religious leader.

Didn’t he already have a hot line to God?  Why Jesus?  Wasn’t this ‘Blasphemer’ just a radical empowered by the Devil?  That’s what his peers were saying.

Looks like Jarius is about to get the pink slip.

So what!  My daughter is dying!

My guess is he didn’t take the time to process the consequences of his actions; he couldn’t care less what anyone thought – only that his daughter lived.

A sick child stops the world for a parent. They will cross social, economic, political and religious barriers to save them and nothing else matters.

It was such a circumstance that caused this father, employed by an institution that was hotly opposed to the ‘False Prophet,’ to beg for help. So here he was.

“My little daughter lies at the point of death,” he said to Jesus, “Come and lay your hands on her, that she may be healed and she will live.”  So Jesus went with him.

But there were snags along the way that I’m sure tested Jarius to the brink.  Jesus had stopped to talk to a woman! She had had the nerve to touch his garment, crawling in the dirt like a dog.

Why are you stopping to talk to a WOMAN?!  My daughter is dying!!  Come on!!

Jesus stood patiently to hear the woman’s story. Come on – come on – we’re running out of time!

A hand was placed on Jarius’ shoulder. “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”

Jesus heard the news and instantly infused the stunned father with faith. “Do not be afraid, only believe.”

Earlier in the Gospel of Mark, where this story is found, another public situation revealed the huge risk Jarius faced by seeking out Jesus.

His peers, the scribes and Pharisees, were incensed when they saw Jesus dining with ‘tax collectors and sinners.’  They pulled His disciples aside and asked why he would do such an unclean, inappropriate thing.  Of course, Jesus heard them and had an answer.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Only the sick need a doctor. Do you see His innuendo?   We’re all sick!  Jarius got it, and his daughter lived.


Little Ones to Him Belong

In Children, Christ, God, Jesus, kids, love, Moms on July 29, 2009 at 9:29 am

1angel

Facebook is great for photos.  Scrolling through scores of baby and toddler pictures of my friend’s kids is so heartwarming, and now that I am a grandmother, it’s even more so.

Even though I now live only 15 minutes away from my grandson, I still find myself flipping through all the pictures I can find of him when I’m at home (and there are hundreds!).  You can’t blame me, have you seen his precious face?

Ethan

Sometimes when I look in his eyes I feel like I  can see the very face of God.  I see peace, love, grace, mercy and most of all – hope.  I see innocence in its purest form and I marvel.  How could any human being look into the eyes of a child and not see God?

I’m reading through the book of Matthew in my Bible this month and came to the part where Jesus pulled a child over to his side as a visual aid to teach his disciples on the value of human life.  He used story to illustrate how deep his Father’s love is for lost souls, it’s the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:10 – 14.  I’ve read it many times, but what caught my attention this time was verse 10, which almost seems out of context.

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

I’ve been absorbing that verse for a week now and as it sinks into my spirit, I realize that I really do see God’s face when I look in the eyes of my grandbaby boy.  And, as sweet as it is to know that his personal angel whose job it is to guard his life looks directly into the face of his Creator, Jesus delivers a stern warning – be careful how you treat these precious ones!

Lord, help me to always watch the things I say, my body language and my actions toward Your little ones – not just babies or children, but those who belong to You no matter their age here on earth.

Having Kids

In books, Children, kids, Moms, plots, publishing, Writing on May 1, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Having children doesn’t always involve diapers and new mommies don’t always have kids.  Sounds like I’m heading into a metaphor, doesn’t it?  You got me.

To an empty-nester like me, motherhood is all about birthing books.

iStock_000001233743XSmall

Of course conception is the most fun.  A thought, an idea or a dream plays around in your mind pretending to be plots and titles, scenes and scenarios. But until one germinates it is just fantasy.

Writers, who entertain such titillation without a commitment to capture those thoughts on paper, or to develop them into publishable means, exist with the frustration and disappointment of a dreamer.

For years, my writing life was just that – until I got tired of staring at books and imagining my name on their spines.

I had become disgusted with my non-committal attitude toward my craft and exhausted by day dreams. Since my teen years, when a word winked at me or a phrase whispered in my ear, I, the willing prisoner, would stick my hands in the air and cry, Ok!  I give up! I had no clue how to arrest the wild onslaught of creative energy.

Instead, I’d be carried away captive and existed in a cell of false belief that someday I would just morph into an author.  I still have stacks of nothing books stuffed with unfertilized seeds – tales that will never be told.

When I finally got busy learning my craft and taking it seriously, I still had to fight off the temptation to sit and dream. I’d often get lost in thoughts of standing in a bookstore, reaching for my offspring, bound and stamped with my name, flipping through the leaves of the work of my days.  I’d imagine the feel of its cover in my fingertips, squeezing it and stroking its letters in unbelief, thinking, did I give birth to this beautiful child?

The other fight I encountered by choosing self-discipline was the work itself. Give me the baby all bathed and wrapped in soft a cuddly blanket, resting contentedly in my arms and everyone around me saying, “What a beautiful baby!”  Yes!  That’s what I want!  To drive to the bookstore, walk to the shelf and just pull my book off and see it complete, bound forever in its own identity.  Forget the labor!

Then a fear emerged. What will I do when my child is grown and gone?  How do I send my book off into the world wrapped in a box only to arrive at some publishing house where it may be shelved or thrown away, unread, unopened?  How do I cope with the thrill and pain of watching it be read, then hearing all about its flaws and reasons why it’s not good enough to print – to be cut down, edited, critiqued and rejected by strangers?  My precious child, of whom I labored day and night to create, I’d rather not give birth to you than to send you into a world so cruel and watch your life be so treated!

mystery murder suspense

The 'Novel Vigilante'

Enough drama; authors become authors because they birth books. Authors become Moms when they raise books.  And so I must engage in the shameless self-promotion of my first child.  My novel, The ‘Novel Vigilante’ will be published later this month!  Come see all my ‘kids’ at www.ccsemick.com.

Like Mom, Like Me

In career, Children, Moms, office on May 1, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Mom drifted off to sleep long before bedtime most weeknights. As a child I remember how she got up early every day, dressed up real nice and went to work. My brother and I got home before she did, and when she arrived she wasn’t up for much conversation.

Paperwork Overload

One day Mom told me she could use some help at her office, something about a machine that folds letters and stuffs them into envelopes going haywire; it folded hundreds of letters the wrong way.

I was thrilled to go to work with her.  She was the Office Manager at a Christian magazine and it was cool seeing her orchestrate the circulation department. The day I sat in the office with her to refold all those letters and stuff them in envelops was the day I got the bug.

Not sure if that’s the right word for it – some days I would call it the disease, but whatever it was I got it. Now, I get up early, dress up as nice as I can and work in an office!

I’m not saying I dreamt of becoming an office professional, I didn’t. It just got into my DNA that day and now the mundane, monotonous tasks that so many loathe, I love.

I was only 12 when I sat at that desk in my Mom’s office, but I was old enough to understand that she and her staff were indispensible and could never be replaced by machines.

As a 20-year veteran in the administrative profession, I now know why Mom was so exhausted when she came home.  I fully respect her efforts and endurance in a career that without question can try the very soul of the most stable personalities.

One must possess incredible patience and skill to sit behind a desk all day, magically complete their tasks and dodge bullets of gossip, condescension and backstabbing – not to mention staying clear of dueling egos. The workload alone is not for the faint-hearted.

Mom is now retired from the office world and I’m still plugging away at piles of paperwork – though my office is wherever I want it to be – as long as I have my laptop and a strong Wi-Fi signal.  Technology aside, the work is still the same, and still rewarding.

Sometimes I wonder how I can be so much like her in that respect and yet so different. She could cook circles around me in the kitchen and had a wonderful flair for decorating and entertaining.  I’d rather be at my computer plucking away at these keys, cooking up stories, and entertaining readers. ‘To each his own,’ as they say.

I love my Mom. She is kind, thoughtful and generous. And, while I’m proud that I share her skill set professionally, I’m still working to earn the profitable wages of a life lived with a mother’s heart.