Gun Control? Stop Fooling Yourself!

Gun control! Gun control! Ok, fine, let’s increase the gun laws. We can at least make operating a firearm as regulated as driving a car. We could implement a licensing system and track sales and purchases. I actually believe there is a number of ways we can control the use and sale of firearms without actually limiting the civil liberties of Americans or being unconstitutional. But you cannot tell me that today’s tragedy was purely a result of loose gun laws. A contributing factor? Yes. But the number one cause? I’m not convinced.
 
Image
 
Where is the call for mental health reform? Where is the demand for budget increases for health-care professionals working with at-risk individuals and families or education for the public on finding help for those in need? What about studying the effects of violence in media or the breakdown in families? You want to create some real change in society, try looking there.
 
And foreigners, stop pretending like you know what it’s like in the US and stop demanding everyone be like you (which the world was so quick to condemn the US for doing). You talk of gun control like its a magic bullet. Maybe 50 years ago it might have been, but we are living in today. Try coming up with a plan that is aligned with the constitution and makes me believe my family will be safe from criminals. You bandy about terms like assault weapons and gun control, but do you actually know what it means or are we just throwing around emotions? (Assault weapons, by the way, are in fact banned by federal law, but this shooting didn’t involve assault weapons, so it’s beside the point anyway). So write me a law that makes my family safer tomorrow and you’ll have my full support, but remember that we are living in the real world. There are literally millions of guns scattered throughout America. Creating a law that tightens the control of firearms will only affect firearms that are sold tomorrow. It will have no affect on the weapons already proliferated throughout the country, nor those who intend to use them for evil. You write me a law that convinces me that my family will be safe at home or at school and that there is nothing a criminal can bring against my family that I cannot protect them against and I will shout it from the rooftops. But don’t think it is that easy!
 
Don’t talk of gun control as though it’s some kind of utopian society where guns don’t exist. Don’t compare America today to Australia where the government clamped down on guns nearly 20 years ago and say it should do the same. It is simply not the same. The numbers don’t add up. We can all say what should have happened 20, 50 or 100 years ago but that time has come and gone. To state what should happen tomorrow is a completely different story.
 
When I was in school, we practiced fire drills. That was the extent of the expected emergencies. Yesterday (I kid you not. The day before this tragedy) my 7 year old daughter practiced a drill with her class mates. Not a fire drill, like in my day, but a “Lock-down Drill” or “what to do if a bad man with a weapon” (I quote my daughter) entered her school. I’m sure my well-meaning foreign friends think they know what’s best when they scatter their advice, but unless you have kids who LITERALLY practice what to do if what happened in Connecticut were to happen in their school, or LITERALLY live in an area where dozens of people were gunned down while watching movie, you will not understand why the future of gun control will involve the ownership and stewardship of firearms. Besides, this is not a case of gun control alone. Stop fooling yourself.

Control your emotions. Maintain a happy heart

In a battle of wits and mental endurance: the younger the child, the greater the stamina.

 

This is my second post in the series, “Who is in control”. We’re talking about the dynamics of family (in my case, a family of six) and my quest to not screw up my kids so much that they need professional help…

 

“Who is in control of you? It’s not me. I can be, if you want me to be, but that’s not the best answer answer. That’s right…YOU are in control of you!”

When it comes down to it, we are only ever supposed to control ourselves. Our different levels of authority in life will mean we have varying levels of authority within certain boundaries, but in the end, we are always in control of our body, our thoughts and our emotions.

The longer we believe someone else is in control of us, the more powerless we allow ourselves to become. It’s like self-inflicted catch-22.

From the day-naught, we started teach our kids two very important life-lessons: “Control your emotions” and “Maintain a happy heart”. You may not be able to control your environment, and you certainly will never be able to control the actions of those around you, but you are always able to control how you will respond within that environment. Control your emotions and maintain a happy heart.

Kids, being kids, will always reach a moment in time when the world seems to come crashing down around them and all hope is lost. Whether it’s hunger pains or the sound of the evil “N” word (“no” or “nap”, take your pick), something will inevitably trigger a cyclonic rush of emotion and tears.

Here’s my take on the matter: I don’t actually have a problem with my kids freaking out, screaming, stamping their feet or holding their breath. What I do have a problem with is when it disturbs my calm or that of those around me. In these instances, when my children cannot fully appreciate the depth of their social responsibility, I tend to limit the range of their outburst. I don’t want to teach them that showing emotion is wrong, but if they are around others, they need to control HOW that emotion is displayed. If they cannot, a more appropriate venue will be chosen (like their bedroom, for instance, with the door shut) where they can wail and moan and gnash their teeth until they are ready to talk about their problem and enable me to help them to solve it.

Here’s the important part: this is not a time out. Nor is it any form of discipline whatsoever. It is simply them choosing to not control their emotions and handing over that control to me. They can have it back whenever they want. They just need to show they are ready to handle it again. Their door isn’t locked and they can come out whenever they like. Sometimes it’s five minutes, other times it’s a lot longer. I’m not too worried, though. I know they’ll figure it out. And if they need help, I’m only in the next room.

On occasion, we have been known to help them find their ‘happy hearts’, which can sometimes be lost in the strangest of places.

I guess your happy heart needed a wash...

 

So what’s your take on this? Does your child ever lose the plot or is that just ours? How do you handle the tantrums, toy-throws and dummy-spits? Or do you just put in the noise-cancelling headphones and listen to Adele (which, I admit, is not a bad idea!)?


Who Is In Control?

A running theme in our household is, “Who is in control?” We often ask our kids this question and rarely need to remind them of the answer… which might not be what you think.

As a parent, and being the biggest and strongest, it’s easy to get this wrong and ‘assume’ control (or, more accurately, “usurp control”) over the little ones in your house. But being the biggest and the strongest doesn’t equal control and nor should it. Raising kids this way only teaches dependence instead of self-respect.

No, the answer to the question, “who is in control?” is ME. As in, you. Or my kids. Or anyone else who might be reading this. YOU are in control and only you can be in control of you. Anything else is dysfunctional.

This is where I’ve seen a lot of parents (and managers, for that matter) come unstuck. Authority should never be confused with control and only in the most dysfunctional of situations should authority override an individual’s ability to control themselves.

So where does that leave us parents?

Well, with this in mind, over the next couple of weeks, I am starting a series on the theme “Who is in control?” I’m not going to assume I know everything there is to know about parenting, nor will I suggest that everyone should do it our way. I will only discuss some principles and techniques that work (or don’t work) in our house. Feel free to use, copy or simply disregard. Ask questions, offer your own advice or request a post on a specific topic.

Overall, I hope you find it thought-provoking.


The Best Overview of StarWars

Maybe I was just in the right mood at the right time, but this made me laugh so I decided to repost it.

I found this overview while on the forums of XKCD about a random Star Wars post. Credit (as far as I can tell) goes to a guy named ‘CurruptUser’. I’ve simply copied it as it was, spelling and grammar intact.

Enjoy.

 

Episode IV:

Evil Mooks slaughter Rebel Mooks, Angry Badass captures Hotty Hotterson, but not before Gaybot and Trashbot escape, Gaybot and Trashbot get captured and sold to Crybaby, Crybaby teams up with the bots to find Old Dude, then recruit Captain McAwesome and McGruff, all get captured by Angry Badass and the Sphere of Doom, they rescue Hotty Hotterson but Old Dude sacrifices himself so the others can escape, but sacrifice is wasted anyway because Crybaby and crew didn’t run, they escape anyway while the Sphere of Doom tracks them, team up with Rebel Mooks, Rebel Mooks and Crybaby take on the Sphere of Doom, and Crybaby destroys the Sphere of Doom because of Old Dude and Captain McAwesome.

 

Episode V:

Life in Planet Alaska, Crybaby gets lost and fights a yeti, then gets shoved into a corpse, rebels lose Battle of Awesome and must flee, Crybaby goes to Swamp Planet to train under Weirdo and becomes Crybaby-monk, Captain McAwesome, McGruff, Gaybot, Trashbot, and Hotty Hotterson go into hiding, Angry Badass sends Silent McBadass to search for that Group, Group hides in Gas Planet only to be betrayed by Weasel to Angry Badass and Silent McBadass, Angry Badass freezes Captain McAwesome and gives him to Silent McBadass, Weasel’s heart grows 3 sizes that day and saves Group, Crybaby-monk shows up to save the day but gets mutilated by Angry Badass, Crybaby-monk, McGruff, Gaybot, Trashbot and Hotty Hotterson escape to plot revenge.

 

Episode VI:

Crybaby-monk’s testicles finally grew in, he and his friends team up to save Captain McAwesome from the Giant Goober, Giant Goober escapes with most of Crybaby-monk’s friends including Hotty Hotterson at her hottest, fight breaks out and Giant Goobers dies while Silent McBadass falls into a pit, Crybaby-monk’s friends all join up with the Rebel Mooks again to stop the Sphere of Doomtoo, Weasel takes Captain McAwesome’s ship to fight the Sphere of Doomtoo in space, Captain McAwesome and Hotty Hotterson recruit some Merkin Mooks to take on Evil Mooks, Crybaby-monk fights Angry Badass while Evil Emperor taunts them both, Evil Emperor defeats Crybaby-monk but Angry Badass sacrifices himself to stop Evil Emperor, Merkin Mooks defeat Evil Mooks, and Weasel destroys the Sphere of Doomtoo.

 

Episode I:

Something about pod racing and slavery and something? Also, there was Badass Supreme but for only like 30 seconds.

 

Episode II:

Whiney McAngsty falls in love with a different Hotty Hotterson or something, or maybe the Supreme Evil tricks them into loving each other, somehow they end up in an arena or something like that. I honestly can’t remember if there WAS a plot.

 

Episode III:

There was some kind of fight in Lava World, but I can’t remember how that fight started.


The Rules Have Changed


For those you don’t know, I am one of the pastors at DaySpring Church, Sydney. After sharing on Sunday night, I had a number of people ask if they could have a copy of my notes. Since there was not much to my notes, I thought I would put my experience onto my blog and try to capture what was going on.

Around 4pm on Sunday afternoon I received a phone call. It was my mum, who was scheduled to speak at DaySpring that evening. She had been feeling a little sick over the last few days and decided that trying push through it would actually contradict her message on rest she had shared that morning. Subsequently, she asked if I could fill in.

With having nothing already prepared and only 2 hours before the service, I did what any normal person would do. I went to the gym! More specifically, I went to Virgin Active and made use of their ‘Chill-out Zone’.

While rocking back and forth in the strange pod-type chairs suspended from the ceiling, I took out my iPad and starting praying. I was not sure what God wanted to say to the church that night, but I had a feeling it was going to be a little out-of-the-ordinary.

As I prayed, I started experiencing that sensation you have after waking up from a dream. You know what it’s like…trying to remember the details but the more you concentrate the less you know but you can still feel the emotion? So I started writing down what it felt like.

It was as though God was writing us a letter; very visual with some not-so-subtle paradoxes thrown in. It contained concepts of graduation and bestowment of the authority and wisdom that only comes with age while, at the same time, a reminder of the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 18, “unless you be like children…” and, as always, there was purpose and identity.

I’ve included what I shared below for those who are interested. I believe it is as much for my own church as it is for anyone else. I know it definitely resonates with me personally and I hope that anyone who is encouraged by it will also take it as a word to them, their family or their church.

(Please bear in mind that the purpose of sharing this is not for a theological debate nor to discuss the merits or place of prophecy, etc. I was asked to share it, so here it is.)


Sunday – August 7, 2011. DaySpring Church

Welcome to your coming-of-age party. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the greater things. Explore my house and you will see the doors unlocked. My house is yours; I give it to you. I want you to see the delight on my face as I introduce you to new experiences, new resources, new victories.

I am changing the rules in your favour. It’s time to have relax and have fun. The promises I have made are mine to fulfill, not yours to worry about. See the new grounds I have made for you. There have been new lines drawn. The enemy won’t know how to handle your behavior now because I have equipped you with freedom.

What was arduous yesterday will bring you peace today. What took away your energy will now give you joy. I have changed the rules.

You may find yourself in familiar territory, but it’s purpose will be different. Yesterday’s battleground is now your playground. Your enemies will be bound by the rules of warfare; but you, like children playing in a playground, will make up the rules according to how you see fit. If you don’t like the game, change it. You have that power. Like children in a playground, when you enter my kingdom you will be filled with a joy that will overpower every dominant authority that is sent against you. Watch and you will see your mourning turned to dancing.

I have changed the rules for you, I have given you a new joy that cannot be quenched. I have turned your battles into games and battlegrounds into playgrounds and your enemies will simply not know what to do.

Rely on me. Lean on my Spirit. Enjoy the grace, the empowering presence, that has been dedicated to you. Enjoy your identity, your authority. Enjoy your mission: to turn every battleground you see into playground. To spread the word that the rules have changed.


BaliLife

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the last few days, well, I’m over here in Bali!
I’m also posting to another blog while I’m here, that way I can keep all the Bali info to one place.

Together with @iambersee (from Amber Dawn Photography), the team from @DaySpringAU and with our missional partner, @HaloTickets, we are in Indonesia to support the work of the care organizations in Bali, specifically, The BaliLife Foundation, a childrens home that provides a safe and loving environment for the street kids of Bali. Our aim is raise awareness of the great work they are doing and provide a way for others (like you!) to get involved in support of the home.

If you haven’t see it already, head over to BaliLife Support  to catch the updates and photos as we progress on the trip! That blog will also show you the different ways you can get involved!

And, of course, if you like what you see, we’d love it if you told your friends!


Sleep, Eat, Fun

We have four kids. Two girls, two boys. Oldest is 5. Youngest is 3 months. Three had/have reflux, all are picky eaters and none ever want to go to sleep.

They are also the best kids on the planet!
They are mostly polite, mostly well behaved and they mostly love each other. They respond to correction, enjoy learning and make me laugh.

It seems that no one told me this was to be a funny photo!

Are my kids different from any other kids? As much as the father in me would say “Yes!”, I actually think not. As parents, we have struggled with the same difficulties and rejoiced in the same breakthroughs as most other families. Our kids are not miracle kids. They didn’t take their first breath of fresh air and ask to go to sleep (and they learn pretty quickly that more fun is had while awake), nor do they immediately want to “put down Daddy’s iPad and sit up for dinner.” No, we had to teach them all of that along with the fun and games.

Remember, their job is to discover the world, our job is to facilitate that discovery. Both sides of that equation are important. Let’s not remove either one!