March 6 – Blind Vanity

The eye that mocks his father, and scorns obedience to his mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it. 30:17 NKJV

We’ve all done it. We have all, at some point during the adolescent years, came to the conclusion that our parents were crazy. Surely, they were never young before. Otherwise, they would not be so unreasonable!

But if we are fortunate to live to the age they were when they were hopelessly mental, we find that either our juvenile assessment was inaccurate or that we have now lost our minds as well.

Coming of age is normal. And with it comes opinions and preferences. But, there is something altogether irreverent about an attitude of mockery and or scorn toward those who bore you.
I don’t know a perfect set of parents…including Mary and Joseph. They are human, for crying out loud. But, for the most part, woven in the fabric of their hearts is an intense desire to do right by us.

And even when they don’t deserve complete admiration, God rewards those who honor, still. If abuse is a part of the equation, we may not always be able to stay in an environment with an unhealthy parent. But even then, disdain for them is not necessary.

Regardless of the situation or circumstances, may we be found honorable toward those who hold the office of Mom and Dad. Because “respecting the office” can only lead to a blessing for us, and for them.

Lorenzo

March 4 – Fat and Sassy

There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness. There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men. Proverbs 30:11-14 NIV

Personal Assessment and Outward Observation: The more I get, the more I get. And the more I get, the more I want.

Knowing this about my human tendency, years ago, God and I cut in some borders and some buffers to keep me humble at heart. But even still, time to time, I look up and there I go getting all self-centered and judgmental again.

Here’s a freebie I’ll pass on: When the words out of your mouth often reflect another’s inability to do something according to your liking, chances are you have overindulged in some area of your life. And it has promoted a “fat and sassy” condemnatory attitude.

Heaven help us! Let’s finish with the Message Bible’s version of this proverbial nugget:

Don’t curse your father or fail to bless your mother. Don’t imagine yourself to be quite presentable when you haven’t had a bath in weeks. Don’t be stuck-up and think you’re better than everyone else. Don’t be greedy, merciless and cruel as wolves, tearing into the poor and feasting on them, shredding the needy to pieces only to discard them.

February 16 – Not Such a Dirty Word

Wise discipline imparts wisdom; spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents
Proverbs 29:15
Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did—they’ll turn out delightful to live with. Proverbs 29:17

Discipline: Education; instruction; cultivation and improvement, comprehending instruction in arts, sciences, correct sentiments, morals and manners, and due subordination to authority. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

This little “D” word is so often misused and totally misunderstood. If the truth be told, even when we aren’t trying, we are “disciple-ing.”

Our actions, or lack thereof, educate, instruct and cultivate the lives round about us.

So why not focus attention on the ways of wise counsel, mixed with self-disciplined examples?

Kids, co-workers, or kinfolk don’t care how much you know…until they know how much you care.

Lorenzo

January 5 – I Beg To Differ

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE DUNFORD FAMILY!!! 🙂

Debate your case with your neighbor, and do not disclose the secret to another; Proverbs 25:9

Fussing is not my thing. When I hear the slightest voice inflection or I see the eye brows rise, instinctively, I start shutting down.

Because of such practices, I’ve been labeled “non-confrontational.” And honestly, I felt such a designation was honorable. Not so.

Childhood is a funny thing sometimes. You see things or you experience events that cause you to feel powerless, and they leave indelible marks on your mind’s pre-conditions. Somewhere, I perceived it was easier to avoid potential conflict than to deliberate amiably toward a possible solution.

Today, as the father of some of the most precious people on the planet, husband to an amazing woman, and friend and brother to a host of dear souls, I have to argue…the right way!

That doesn’t mean fussing. That means problem solving through a myriad of ideas and healthy debates. But that requires a set of skills most of us have to develop through experience. One of the most important skills you need is the art of “don’t take it personally.” To keep sight on the main thing, and that is the issue at hand, this is key and vital to a healthy argument.

And when you find yourself conversing and deliberating with someone who may not be as proficient in keeping their cool, don’t go blabbing it; this is not a good strategy for conflict-type conversations needed in the future. In time, if they know you care and you are not out to make them look bad or run over them, they will see you care and more than likely begin to decipher the thin line between destructive fussing and constructive argumentation.

This is perfect timing for a sound New Year’s resolution. And even though the art of arguing can be a tricky business. . . I am willing to learn!

December 30 – Friends in High Places

It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day. Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel. Proverbs 24:5-6 The Message Bible

I have a book about child training that was written a hundred years or so ago. The insight in it is timeless. For instance, I learned from its author, Clay Trumbull, that there’s a distinct difference in how you teach a child and how you train a child.

Also, when Jen and I had our hands full with one of the stronger-willed children, we used some of the strategies in the book to steer them toward right attitudes…particularly about food and flavors.

But one of the most transcendent pieces of advice I got from the book was on the subject of friendship and counsel. Clay raised eight kiddos of his own and was a seasoned grandpa at the time he penned “Hints on Child Training.” So, I believe he knew a thing or two about the subject.

“The unfriendly criticisms of neighbours, and the kind suggestions of friends, are not to be despised by a parent in making up an estimate of his child’s failings and faults. Rarely is a parent so discerning, so impartial, and so wise, that he can know his children through and through, and be able to weigh the several traits, and perceive the every imperfection and exaggeration of their characters, with unerring accuracy and absolute fairness.”

In the process of rearing our “crew of a few,” this counsel has been invaluable. But not just in child training. In many areas of life, I have found I can cover most of the bases, but having good friends who add insight without insult is key for consistent success.

Smart is good and wisdom is kind.
But a counsel of good friends is a worthy find!

December 29 – We Understand It Better By and By

Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; Proverbs 24:3 NKJV

In the summer, we would get these catalogs from Montgomery Wards and Sears and Roebuck. Mama would pore over them and circle some of the ugliest clothes on the planet. I would beg her to reconsider her choices…sometimes she would and most of the time, she wouldn’t.

I would fret over my plight for the upcoming school year. Hard as I tried, for the life of me, I could not comprehend the difference in our taste.

But by and by, when it came my time to serve as parent and provider, I understood better. As a kid, you have the luxury of being self-absorbed. Life seems to revolve around you, your feelings and your preconceived reputation. And although you think you know a thing or two about the world of practicality, it’s not until another life bears your name and requires your undivided attention that practicality and prudence grows from within.

The Lord is gracious to allow such fragile beings to participate in His Masterpieces. But then, I guess that’s what makes it so Masterful.

We evolve in time, and then…Ah ha!

Surely, He smiles.

December 16 – “Bent” Toward Perfection

Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 AMP

We have eleven kiddos on the ground to date and not one of them is like the other. Similar in ways, but different as night and day in sleeping, eating, ears and feet.

Early on, I thought we had it figured out with the first three. First came the girl, then the little man, and then baby sister. That bunch was the main “gang” the longest and it appeared the girls were very much alike and the boy was just…all boy!

But as the other tribe members graced us with their presence and we had more variety, man, did we see the unique flavors in our crew.

That’s when we discovered this version of a very familiar proverbial nugget. The light bulb came on and we got on our knees for some “guidance.”

It appears that we all have certain gifts that bend us toward a divine purpose that was established before we drew a puff of air. I still find the thought rather staggering.

Needless to say, as we began to guide and direct the members of our family in the way we believed to be in line with their “bent,” life made more sense and would-be struggles became worthwhile investments in the future.

So if you’ve got little tiny tots, spend a bit of time with the Originator of the design and see what He had in mind. Then start applying what you get. If your kiddos are up and at it, no worries, you can still see who they really are on the inside. Ask God to give you a little light so you can encourage them rightly.

And for those whose have grown and gone, it’s not too late to speak what you see. Yeah, maybe you didn’t know this stuff when they were growing up, but God did. He will show you things about your child even when he or she is old and grey. And it still applies. With God there is no such thing as “too late,” as long as there is this phenomenon called time!

So, there’s nothing wrong with you…you came bent toward perfection!