“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”

Today is the 244th birthday of what has been called the greatest nation on earth. I don’t know who actually coined this phrase, but I do whole heartily agree with it. Being a sometimes student of history, I found it interesting to read Patrick Henry’s speech to the second Virginia congress today. Something spoken 245 years ago still has truth in it for today’s America.

So many protesters and rioters (and I know it’s not all of them, but these are the ones who seem to have the airwaves now) have claimed they are on a mission to change America, and this is the new war to be fought. It seems the way they are choosing to fight it however is by destroying our past. Ironically, Patrick Henry spoke about this in his famous speech. I loved the following paragraph so much I felt it needed to be added to my blog.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided,” Henry said, “and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.

I am appalled at what I’ve seen on television in the past several weeks. Truthfully, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought to see this. Protestors tearing down statues and working to rewrite our nation’s history. Before I go further, I do not think everything that has been done in our past is good or should be glorified, but I do believe it is part of who we are as a nation. I don’t glorify my own sordid past, but I do remember it so I don’t repeat the things I am ashamed of. If I just pretend they never happened, changing the narrative, I’m doomed to repeat my past mistakes. And we, as a nation, if we are not careful will fall into the same trap. As the old saying goes, “If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.”

One thing I admire about the protestors, the real protestors, not those who are being bussed in and paid to agitate the crowd. (Nothing new here either, the Pharisees did the same thing to Jesus, look it up Mark 14:55-60), is their zeal to see change happen. This is a good thing, and believe it or not is not something new to this current generation, there has always been people who wanted to see change happen.

Most of the dialogue today is about change and how bad things have been for the minority class in America, and I totally agree that in my America everyone should have the same rights; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as stated in our nation’s declaration of independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Every man, woman and child in the United States should be treated as equals without ever looking at the color of their skin.

As he spoke, Henry held his wrists together as though they were manacled and raised them toward the heavens. “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty”—Henry burst from his imaginary chains and grasped an ivory letter opener—“or give me death!” As he uttered these final words, he plunged the letter opener toward his chest, mimicking a knife blow to the heart.

Men and women from our past gave their lives for the most part in standing up for what they believed in. Many of the founding fathers of our fledgling country actually died penniless and broken because of their belief in a better way of life for everyone. I wonder how many of those protesting now feel this passion and have this conviction? I mean it is easy to give lip service to your ideals, but when it comes right down to it, are you really willing to die for what you believe in?

I’m not asking those who are protesting for change to actually kill themselves, that would be horrible and no one should do this, and for the record I don’t want anyone to lose their life. But I ask you this, if you are so willing to destroy our nation’s history and change the narrative for your beliefs, are you also willing to lose everything you have in the process? It’s an honest question and one only you can answer, it cannot be answered for you. Happy birthday to the United States of America, and God bless you!

Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King!

Raising Teens Is Like Herding Cats

Personally I’ve never herded cats, but I’d like to think I could if called upon. The reason I feel I would be qualified to do this task is because I did raise (with the help and majority of work from my bride) teenagers. I remember thinking having teenagers in my home would be a breeze, because kids up to this point hadn’t really been too much of a challenge for us; of course there were the opportunities for discipline and both my wife and I to grow in patience, but we had really good kids who for the most part were just that…kids

Something happened one day when my oldest son had been thirteen for a few months; I’m not proud of it, but it changed the direction my parenting skills would go for the rest of my life. We were cleaning the house in preparation for a get together with friends; it was something the entire family was looking forward to, and as I passed Micah’s room I heard some awful music playing. Turning to see what he was listening to, it turned out to be some type of screaming style of something people refer to as music but to me was crap and I said as much.

Not to bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say Micah and I had our first knock down drag out fight that day. There was a lot of screaming and yelling and even a little cussing on my part. Yeah, great Christian father there right, but don’t judge me too harshly, I’m sure you’ve done the same (or worse) and yes I did fix it with my son later asking him to forgive me for losing my cool with him.

What this taught me was the importance of walking in patience and learning how to choose which battles to fight; because if you were unaware of this, not all of the things you dislike about your teenager are things you need to discipline and change. Sometimes they need the opportunity to learn about these things for themselves, so back off and let them grow into the adults they are going to become.

Most parents of teens I see have a hard time letting go of their parental expectations. What I mean by this is when your kids were tiny, they looked to you to make decisions for them; what to wear, what to eat, etc. But as they hit the years when their hormones start to rage they are going through so much inside they don’t need you pushing them from the outside. Of course there are things which are non-negotiable; respect for others, authority and themselves, the basics. But something which always helped me was a quote from Princess Leia in Star Wars when she was a prisoner on the Death Star,

“The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

Mom and dad, the tighter you try to grip your teenagers world, the more they will slip away from you. I know it’s hard to admit, but you’ve got to give them a little bit of freedom. I’m not talking about letting them experience things which will hurt them like partying, having premarital sex and things like this, but give them the opportunity to experience freedom for themselves a little bit.

One of the things which happens when you hold on too tightly is when they do find a little freedom they go buck wild and end up hurting themselves. I know you want what is best for your child, but doing everything for them or sheltering them from everything doesn’t help them, it causes them to be bratty or unable to interact with other people well. They become unproductive citizens or just selfish.

One of the keys to herding cats is backing off and motivating them in the direction you want them to go; not by pushing but guiding. It’s up to you mom and dad to be a guiding influence in your teens life now, not the dictator who makes them tow the line and be like you. Just like cats, teens don’t respond well to this either.