Tag Archives: Life

Natural Consequences

handsParenting is not for the faint of heart.

It starts out with no sleep, lots of messes to clean up (including many dirty bottoms per day), fussy meal times, and plenty of time just trying to figure out what makes this new person tick!

Then you reach the mobile stage and it become exponentially harder. Naps—a parent’s best friend in the early years—become less frequent, until they cease altogether. Here, the very early stages of exerting one’s autonomy begin with practice and mastery of the word, “No!”

And then, Mom & Dad are tired.

But the persistent, caring parent will see it through. Being consistent with expectations and consequences will help the young child understand what is required, and with proper instruction, learn what is good and what is bad. It certainly takes effort and ridiculous amounts of repetition, but in the end, the goal is establishing a foundation of respect (even love) for what is good and a healthy fear of what is wrong.

Then come the teen years.

We have a great teenager. Honestly, though we butt heads so much with our confident, brash, gregarious young man, he is heads and shoulders above many of his peers in many ways. (Don’t worry, I also frequently address humility and pride with our young protégé…) 🙂

However…

The biggest problem is this: when one is approaching adulthood, one begins to fancy himself as already sufficiently learned, thus shunning sage advice from elders. (Also, notably, one leans generally towards haste when of the male gender.)

And so, when I draw upon my nearly fifteen years of parenting experience, I often want to revert to previous parenting techniques—restrict! It’s very easy for me to observe and understand all the variables, and then establish the rules. “Don’t do that in response to this” or “Do this when …”

That’s easy, but is it really helpful?

The simple answer is, of course it’s not. The best way for anyone to learn is through experience, and even better, through failure. The natural consequences of our choices and actions (or inactions) will often teach us more than any lesson, speech, class, book, video, seminar… anything intended to train by instruction. Real life is nearly always superior.

Why then is it so difficult to allow natural consequences to instruct our older children? Not only would that be easier, in a way, it would also seemingly have better results, no? Is it maybe just me who struggles to allow poor choices to be the best teachers my son can have? Probably not.

Now, I’m certainly not advocating a complete relaxing of all rules. Surely there are some standards of behavior toward others in our home that must be upheld. But in regards to personal care, time management, taking care of personal possessions, work ethic, even money management, there may be more leeway. And, of course, aside from the general life skills—above all—we hope to instill in our children a good understanding of who Jesus is, and that they can trust Father with their whole lives. We won’t stop instruction, or offering advice, but might all be better off if Natural Consequences for choices and actions against that advice are allowed to teach rather than structured consequences, or stricter “rules”?

I really think that’s true. Difficult to put into action, but true.

Isn’t this a bit like grace? We are accepted—no, we were accepted before we even understood what grace is, and who Jesus is. We are sought out. Bought at an unfathomable price. The choice of the One who made all, owns and commands all … he pursues us. AND, he allows us full, unfettered freedom to choose to walk alongside him. We are not forced. So why do we persist in “forcing” our children?

I’m really not sure.

Honestly, this goes beyond parenting, doesn’t it? Why would we not want to allow more freedom—read: less judgment—toward others, if natural consequences are the best way to learn and grow? Rather than manipulative expectations of the others around us, perhaps grace and reasonable latitude are better for all—everyone; every time? At least, nearly every.

I intend to look for more ways to employ this philosophy. So look out—it might get a bit messy!

Somehow, though, experience has shown, the best things in life are often the messiest.

The Rolling

rolling

Each day rolls on, paying no mind to me. My waking happens without my choosing, weariness creeps slowly back, until my body begs me to rest once more.

My body requires, and it returns. Food, water, air—all are processed by this body without my doing, though I do receive some pleasure in parts of the intake.

Heart pumps, lungs contract and release, even thoughts seem to fire across the pathways of my brain without my initiation.

And the days roll on.

If we are not careful, we slip too easily into the thoughtless thrum of life. So much happens without our say. Days unfold and close up again, one after another, so much the same. So many the same.

It’s easy to let life live itself.

But we are here. We have a part. We can choose to step along with the relentless autonomous. We are not merely observers, though some things we have not the capacity to alter. Nor even the desire.

Yet we stop to smile. To breathe. To love. To listen. To live.

Then we do it all again, with the next Rolling.

Today, I want to take part. Partake. Be part. I am. I will.

Breathe, taste, see, know, be. While all is rolling on, I have the power to do those things. And more. Think, make, read, consider, create. Care, share, serve, do. So many ways to exert my own unique additions to the Roll.

And though I exert, or pause to observe—still it rolls.

Even when our bodies weary to the point of expiration, all will continue. Ceasing our participation in the perpetual cycle, in a way exercising one last influence, breaking free.

Sun up, body up. Another day. Rolling. Lived, regarded, perceived, communed. Until all of me is spent by choice and by the Roll. Weary, welcome rest. Renew.

And roll on.

Growing Up

Campbells long agoWe here at the Campbell home are experiencing the winds of change. I think perhaps we have been for quite a while now, but I’ve been noticing it again lately.

Life moves quickly. In some ways, too quickly.

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
—Ecclesiastes 3:1

Yeah. That’s the other thing that keeps coming up: Seasons.

We live in a climate where the weather reminds us of the benefit of the cycle of seasons. From the snows that bury all of life in a fluffy blanket of white powder, to the beauty of spring in all its colorful splendor, to the heat of summer that produces a bounty of edible sunshine, to the more subdued colorful beauty of fall where we enjoy the harvest, the cooler days, and well… pretty much everything about fall! (Yes, that is my favorite!)

And just like there is beauty in every season of weather and the repeating cycles that are evidence of our never-ending annual circuit around the sun, there is beauty in every season of life in our home.

Campbells nowThe scene above was from another time. Those boys are fourteen and eleven and a half years old now. A decade of life has been lived. I’d have to call it a full decade, though I know that we could not possibly have lived more life than anyone else. But since I am the one who lived it, I have all the memories. I know all that has passed here in those years.

I know of the lives gained. (Do you see all those amazing people in the second picture here?) I know of the losses. I know of the successes and failures. I know of the dreams that were not realized, and the ones that were. (Including ones we didn’t initiate.)

As I pondered the current seasons I saw under our roof, I also thought ahead to the seasons that are now not too far off.

Ian, our oldest, is definitely in a different season—and so, then, are we with him—and in less than two years, he’ll be sixteen years old. He’s already developing his own strengths, and likes, and even goals and dreams for his life. He’s begun the transition toward his own adult life, to be sure. With aspirations of God bringing him a wife, and buying a home, and raising a family… I considered that all of that could quite feasibly occur even in the next decade.

That’s astounding!

I was then time-shifted a decade ahead, pondering that somewhat distant season. Cam, the youngest, would be a teenager. Thirteen years old, and the youngest of four teenagers.

Wait. Let’s let that sink in.

Is it still sinking? Go ahead… I’ll give you a moment. Yes, four teenagers. At one time. Under one roof.

Alright. Moving on …

At the same time, Alex will be about to turn twenty-one years old; a significant age in our culture. (Though we Campbells are not very much bound to any cultural expectations or limitations attached to chronological age. But that’s for another post…)

And Ian? He’ll be twenty-four years old.

When I was twenty-four, I was becoming a father. To Ian. (My dad became a father to me when he was twenty-four.)

So, when Ian has children… that means I will be Grandpa! Wowee!

At this point in my fancying the future, I decided I should slow down and return to the current season. It was getting a little too wacky! Time to return to the present and enjoy the current season!

But that’s just it. That’s the greatest thing about the seasons: we’re not really in one place for too long.

It’s been a (full) short decade since the two tiny boys were the only ones scurrying around our home. (And around the country at that point!) So much life was fit into that short time span. So much more will be lived in the years to come.

And who’s to say what that next decade will bring?

I can dream of what will be, but I can not know it. I don’t know what will happen to us or in us over the next season of life, nor do I even know if we will remain in this world. There’s never any guarantee of that.

So we fondly remember and relive the seasons we’ve come through, and we can even dream of seasons that may be, but with no assurance of what will come, the best place we can be is right here, right now; living fully in the season(s) of life right now.

I feel like this is an ever-present theme in my life, and so on this blog. Don’t you?

Perhaps it’s just the season I am in.

I don’t know what the future will hold, but as I approach the completion of four decades of life on this planet, I do know that it goes fast, and it’s full of really good and also really hard things.

And through it all, Father is with us.

That is our hope, and the one constant we have through all of these seasons.

I actually don’t mind getting older. It’s so amazing to watch life unfold before me. First my own, and all that Jesus wants me to know along my own path. Then in my marriage to Jen, watching him work in her, and in us. And after that to watch the seasons of life develop in our six children. What a privilege to be part of it, and to watch, encourage, train, and cheer on those young and growing lives.

At least, for this season.

And maybe a few more.

Beautifully Stained

stainingI wrote a new song recently. Actually, I wrote two. (That was quite odd. Two in one day was a new experience for me.)

To be fair, these songs are not actually yet fully complete. I’m certain that I will tweak them musically as well we lyrically. But for the most part, two near-complete songs were birthed within the span of only a couple hours.

Even more special was the fact that one of the songs reminded me very much of a musician friend of mine, so I sent him the lyric to that song as well as a rough recording (because the melody was partly what reminded me of him), and he responded a while later just to let me know that the email and the song were sent at just the right time—a gift from God to him that day.

Very cool.

After I wrote that first song and sent it to my friend, Paul, I was listening to music and felt an overwhelming overwhelm-ment. (That should be a word, especially with the double Ms…) It was an amazing experience, actually. Quite literally moved by the music that, honestly, wasn’t even that good! 🙂

So I took that as a sign that it was time to play some more music.

And play I did.

Instantly out came another song. This one much more “my” style and feel. And the words were very personal; very meaningful to me. They may not be as much to another reader/listener, but I do believe the picture painted by the words of the chorus—and title of the song—illustrate well the reality of this life: it’s a beautiful mess.

Stains are bad. But stain is also good. (My dad makes beautifully stained furniture.)

Life is full of stains (those are bad) … but the sum of them often creates a beautiful piece of long-lasting, heirloom furniture.

We are beautifully stained—by our Maker, and by life.

A short post today… (and sorry, no music just yet!)

I present, Beautifully Stained

Beautifully Stained

It was the moment you heard the news
The one you’d hoped for was gone
You would never be the same
No matter what would come

It was the moment you saw her face
Something inside you bloomed
This deep assurance within your soul
That she was made for you

These are the moments …

chorus
Live every moment
Embrace both the joy and the pain
Breathe deep and let it all in
Life fully lived is beautifully stained

It was the moment she took her first breath
And when he played his guitar
Happy hearts sang out laughing at play
Togetherness in the air

It was the moment the pain gripped her face
Another tough day with you
Angry tongues loosed their wearied fury
Nothing now you could do

These are the moments …


©2012 Greg Campbell