Three amazing teenagers. How did that happen?!? Parenting tips from the pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saying Sorry

I can’t remember the conversation beforehand but I do remember that I was in trouble—lots of trouble. I had said something insensitive and was not doing well formulating an apology.

My wife and I laid side by side, sharing the same darkness and the same doona, in silence. I knew it was my turn to say something. Something helpful.

What should I say?

Thoughts were racing through my mind. I remember feeling very disappointed in myself for mistreating my wife. I felt like a bad person.

My words so far had been very hurtful. As had my attempt at an apology thus far. I hadn’t meant to say what I had said and I was sorry. But I couldn’t figure out the best way to say that.

Finally I decided to simply say, “I’m sorry.” But as I spoke, I thought, sometimes I am such a useless person. So, my planned words and my unplanned thought combined to fill the dark void with, “I’m a sorry person.”

Great, I thought, I’ve done it again. That didn’t help at all.

Then I heard something unexpected from the other side of the bed. It started as a sniffle, turned into a giggle and then became convulsions of laughter. When my wife was finally able to catch her breath, she said, “Truer words have never been spoken.” Then she went back into hysterics and I joined her in tears of laughter and relief.

There is something very healing about a good laugh. It has the power to turn bitter tears into sweet ones. The tissue box was still being used but for a very different reason.

My wife and I now have a new technique for disarming potential setbacks in our relationship that involve me blurting and her hurting. Upon hearing me say something bordering on insensitive she says, “You know, you’re a sorry person.” And I gingerly step across my freshly dropped eggshells, wrap my arms around her and say, “Yes. More sorry than I can say. I love you.”

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chaplains Change the World One Child at a Time!

Dear One and All,

I am a School Chaplain in two primary schools in Melbourne, Australia. I love being involved in making a difference in the lives of students, staff and families! Much of what happens through chaplaincy is funded through people like you who want to see schools have the influence, mentoring and care of chaplains. I am employed by ACCESS Ministries and would love for you to help keep myself and other chaplains like me doing what we love!

Please click on the Pic or the Link below to make a difference.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Little Happy

When I was a boy, I had a little dog named Happy. She was so little, I had to sit down to pat her.

Happy loved to play games – hopping, jumping, running, licking your face kind of games. Happy waited for me at the front window every day when I came home from school. And every night, Happy slept on a pillow above my pillow. I loved Happy.

But, while I was at school Happy had a bad habit. Happy liked chasing the neighbours chickens. And sometimes, she would catch a chicken. And when that happened, the neighbour became very upset because little Happy could cause a fair bit of damage to a little chicken. And she did, too often.

So, my mum helped me put an advertisement in the local paper telling everyone that Happy needed a home with someone who had lots of love to give to a little dog and who didn’t have chickens. A few days later a big motorhome drove into our driveway and an elderly couple came to the door and asked if they could meet Happy. Of course, they loved her. And Happy loved them, too. They told me they were traveling around America and would give Happy lots of love and many wonderful experiences.

I cried as I watched little Happy leave in that big motorhome. I loved her and didn’t want to lose her. But, I knew things would be better for her if she wasn’t near chickens and was with people who could spend all day with her.

A few weeks later, I got a postcard from Happy! On the front of the card was a picture of Happy somewhere in America and on the back was a letter all about what Happy had been doing and seeing. Every few weeks, I got another postcard and another story about Happy. She was having fun, getting lots of love and not killing chickens. Which, I knew was for the best. And I was happy for Happy.

Learning to see the positive in a negative situation is called being resilient. And I ‘m grateful to my Mum and Dad for helping me find a good solution for me and my little dog Happy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ben’s Strength

Eight-year-old Benjamin loved spending time in his treehouse. He and his Dad had built it together during the last school holidays. Ben had been using Mum’s kitchen three-step footstool to get from the ground to the lowest tree branch but Mum wanted the footstool back inside the house.

Just a few metres away from the treehouse, was a large round piece of tree trunk left from a tree Dad cut down last year. It was the perfect size to use as a step into the treehouse. Ben tried to move the stump-round, but it was too heavy. He spent the rest of the morning looking for something else to use as a step. But there was nothing as perfect as the stump-round.

During lunch, Ben told Dad about the stump-round and Dad said, “Great idea! You will be able to move it. You just need to use all of your strength!”

Ben got the hint. His Dad want to help. Or maybe he just wanted Ben to do it on his own. Whatever the reason, he would need to find a way to move the stump. After lunch, Ben tried to lift the stump onto its edge to roll it to the tree. It wouldn’t budge.

He headed into the shed and got Dad’s crowbar. If he could lever it onto its edge, he could roll the stump-round to the treehouse. Back at the stump he wedged the crowbar underneath and lifted. The tip of the crowbar sunk into the ground. Ben looked up at the kitchen window and saw Dad watching. Dad smiled, made a fist and flexed his arm muscle. Then he pointed at his head and tapped it a couple times.

“Yeah, I know use all my strength… Oh, use all of my smarts!” Ben looked at the stump and scratched his head.

He went back to the shed and got two blocks of wood. He stacked them on top of each other next to the stump and wedged the crowbar between the blocks and the stump. Then he pulled down with all his might and the stump lifted off the ground! He stood on the end of the crowbar and with a long stick pushed the stump-round the rest of the way up onto its edge.

“Yeah! I did it!” he said, looking over at the kitchen. His Dad, still standing at the window, gave him a big thumbs-up.

Ben got behind the stump and pushed. It didn’t move. Ben leaned his back against the stump and pushed. Nothing. It was too heavy.

He looked over at the kitchen again. Dad was standing in the doorway now, leaning against the open door.

“Dad, it’s too heavy,” Ben said. “I’ve used every bit of my strength and my smarts!”

“You haven’t used all of your strength,” Dad said.

Ben sat on the upturned edge of the stump and crossed his arms. “YES I HAVE! IT’S TOO HEAVY!” Frustrated, Ben threw his hands in the air, “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST HELP ME?”

“Ah,” Dad said as he walked out of the house and over to Ben, “Now you’re using all of your strength!”

Dad and Ben stood together and pushed the stump all the way to the tree.

“Thanks Dad,” Ben said.

“You are very welcome, young man!” Dad wiped the dirt off his hands. “You know, Ben,” Dad said, “we have only used all of our strength when we have asked the right person for help! We are not meant to do life alone. We all need each other.”

Ben stepped up onto the stump-round and said, “I see what you mean.” Lifting himself onto the lowest branch, he climbed into the treehouse and looked out through the window. “Next time I need to do something difficult,” Ben said, “I will use all of my strength by asking for help!”

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Words We Use

My first dog wagged her tail a lot, ran in a bouncing sideways sort of way and loved to lick my little face. So I named her Happy.

My second dog was born with no bones in one of his legs. As a puppy, he did some pretty funny somersaults learning to run. I named him Hop-a-long.

My children’s first cat was an orange mutt of a cat who never quite learned how to use a litterbox. We named him Nugget.

The names we give our pets tell people what we think of them.
And so do the names we give each other.

And they tell us something about ourselves.

How do you tell someone that you love them? With words.
How do you tell someone that you hate them? With words.

So, how important are the words we choose?

I am the words I believe about myself.
And I believe what I hear the most.
First from others, then from myself.

Even the subtlest of words shape us.

“Why did you do that? Sometimes you are so stupid!”
“That was stupid thing to do. That’s not like you!”

“That dress makes you look gorgeous!”
“What a dress! You are so gorgeous!”

It may not seem like much of a difference but every word leads somewhere.

What do you want your children to believe about themselves?
Then tell them with your words.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Little Turtle Tells a Story

Every day at school, Little Turtle watched his friends zoom past. He would try to say “Good morning” to his friends, but they moved so fast he never finished the word “Good” before they were gone and he was left to finish the “morning” all by himself.

Little Rabbit would thump thump thump toward Little Turtle, causing a dust storm to billow behind him. Little Turtle would get ready, open his mouth and slowly say, “Good” just as one fast foot slapped the ground in front of him.

Little Bird would flit flit flit her wings as she dipped and dove through the air. Little Turtle would look up and open his mouth and start to slowly say, “Good” just in time to get a blast of air up his nose from Little Bird’s wings.

Little Fox would swish swish swish his tail as he dodged left and right. When Little Turtle saw the swishing tail in the distance, he would step into Fox’s path and slowly say, “Good” just in time to see Little Fox swish and dodge right around him.

The teacher saw this happen every day and encouraged the other students to play with Little Turtle.

“He’s too quiet,” Little Rabbit said.

“He’s too small,” Little Bird said.

“He’s too slow,” Little Fox said.

Day after day, the teacher would ask them to play with Little Turtle and they would say the same things about him. One day it was Little Turtle’s turn for show-and-tell. The other students hated it when Little Turtle had show-and-tell because he was so quiet, small and slow. It took forever for him to show his special item and tell the story to the class.

But today was different.

Little Turtle brought out a pot of tea and some small tea cups. He slowly set the tea cups on the desks of Little Rabbit, Little Bird and Little Fox. Then he poured steaming hot tea into the tea cups from a beautiful old porcelain tea pot. Once he had finished pouring, he returned to the front of the classroom, poured himself a cup, and slowly said, “Please enjoy your tea.”

The students quickly grabbed their tea cups.

“It’s too hot!” They all said as they set their cups back down.

Little Turtle smiled a slow happy kind of smile and said, “I’d like to tell you a story.”

Little Rabbit blew on his tea.

“When your tea is finished,” Little Turtle said, “the story will be finished.”

Little Bird fluttered her wings above her tea cup.

 “Once, there was a little turtle,” Little Turtle said.

Little Fox swished his tail over his tea.

 “And he had the very best of friends,” Little Turtle said.

Little Rabbit sipped his tea, “Yum!” He whispered.

“His friends were a rabbit, a bird and a fox,” Little Turtle said.

“Just like us!” Little bird said as she pecked at her tea.

“Every day the turtle loved to watch his friends play,” Little Turtle said.

Little Fox was holding his tea cup in his hands and resting it on his tummy as he listened to Little Turtle. He took a small sip. “Delicious!” he whispered.

“But he didn’t play with them,” Little Turtle said, “or even get to say ‘Good morning,’ to them.”

“Because he’s too quiet?” Little Rabbit asked, whispering into his tea.

“Because he’s too small?” Little Bird tweeted, sitting on the edge of her tea cup.

“Because he’s too slow?” Little Fox questioned, still holding his full tea cup.

“Because,” Little Turtle said, “his friends were too fast.”

Then Little Turtle lifted his own tea cup and took a long slow sip.

Nobody seemed to mind.

“Wouldn’t it be nice,” Little Turtle asked in a quiet small slow voice that everyone heard perfectly, “if we all just slowed down, once in a while?”

His friends all smiled and nodded as they took quiet small slow sips from their tea cups.

Finally, the teacher spoke. “Perhaps, Little Turtle could bring a pot of tea again tomorrow?”

“Yes!” all the students said.

“And,” Fox added, “tell us another story!”

Everyone sipped their tea.

“I would love that,” Little Turtle said. “You’re the best friends, ever!”

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Power of Forgiveness

Arriving home from primary school, I ran into my mother’s bedroom, climbed onto her bed and rested my little head on her tummy. I hugged her tight and said, “Mum, I don’t want you to die.”

“Die?” my mum said, “Why would you say that?”

“Because you’re in bed a lot.” I said, “At school today, my teacher said that when people get old they stay in bed a lot and then they die.”

“I’m not going to die, sweetie. Mummy’s just got a sore tummy.”


 “Let me tell you why most of you are here tonight,” the speaker said to the crowd. “If you are experience headaches, muscle stiffness, extreme tiredness, internal infections, bowel trouble, stomach pains, ulcers – you have been hurt by someone.“

My mother sat up and stared at the man on the stage. “All of these things and many others are ways our body tells us we are hurting.”

Then the speaker slowed his pace and said, “What I’m going to say next is going to make some of you angry but it is true. If you want to be well, if you want to be healthy again, you need to forgive the person who hurt you.”

My mother felt tears trickling down her cheeks. How could she ever forgive her father for what he’d done? She had held those painful memories for years. Forgiving him seemed impossible.

“Forgiveness is your way of handing back the suffering; back to the person who should be bearing its weight.” The man continued, “The emotional pain you feel should be carried by the person who caused that pain, not you. Forgive them and let them take ownership of their personal brokenness. It’s not yours, it’s theirs. You deserve peace and healing.”

It took some time. Months. Finally my mum was able to visit her father and tell him she forgave him.

And, amazingly, once she let go of the hatred and the pain, she began to heal. The ulcers, the headaches and the other health issues she had been suffering faded away as she healed – heart, mind and soul.

There is power in forgiveness.