Monday, October 20, 2014

Why, Thank You, Clash of Clans


Psst! I'm over here - hiding - eavesdropping on my two teenagers. Maybe I should move in closer. You know, "clean" something near them to see if it's true.

Well, I'll be - it IS true! They're communicating... nicely. They're responding to one another's advice... respectably. And either my eyes are playing tricks on me, or the fact that their shoulders just touched went completely unnoticed by both of them.

I haven't seen anything like this since my teens bonded over math. (Read "Bonding Over Triangles" HERE!) And that one was my doing. It was a "your brother is going to help you OR ELSE" scenario.

But I can't take credit this time. This shout-out goes to "The Clan" - that ever-popular gaming app, Clash of Clans.

What? I can't believe I just complimented a gaming app.

For one, gaming apps can be nerdy. They make my kids geek-out: "Once I morph myself into meeting the exact specifications of level five, an inverse reaction is highly probable which consequently makes me virtually unstoppable."

For two, it makes following closely to "our shows" more difficult: Will Sue Heck on The Middle get another magical trash can kiss? Will the cute main character guy on Forever EVER find a way to die for once and for all? Will Jill Duggard and fiance, Derrick, find a wedding venue to fit their 71,652 (and 26 on-the-way) family members? All life-altering information my kids MISS when glued to their games.

And for three... Well, hmmm... (There's gotta be a third reason I should NOT be giving props to a gaming app.) Oh, I know: it pulls my kids away from the REAL world, from their homework, and from making eye-contact with people - even with each other while playing. (Make those reasons three, four and five.)

And even though research says I should also say something about how gaming poorly affects communication and ability to compromise, I'm not going to. Because communication and compromise is on the rise in this house. (Still can't believe it - right in this very house!) As if my teens were the guys on The Property Brothers, working toward a goal.

Like in Ecclesiates 4:9: "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed."

And sure, it'd be nice if the major players contributing to my teenagers' harmonious relationship had less to do with Clash of Clans and more to do with something hands-on, like playing frisbee or building bridges with popsicle sticks. Or how about maintaining public hiking trails together? (I swear, it's a thing.)

But knowing that God works outside my "just seems more Christian-like" box, I wouldn't be surprised if his grace reaches farther than I thought - even into the depths of "The Clan," where he creatively shapes my kids into the collaborative and good-natured siblings he intends for them to become.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Fall Remix


Every Fall, I can always count on a certain cluster of trees to turn bright orange-red for me. I love Fall colors; it's a wonder I live in Orange County where they are few and far between.

But something is amiss this year, for I walked by "my trees" the other day, and their leaves weren't bright green, waiting to turn lovely. They weren't much of anything. They had already fallen off! Just a few boring, brown, drab stragglers held on for dear life.

And out of nowhere, God interrupted my little huff by putting a thought into my head: "Just look to the next tree."

Well, alright. I can do that. Because there are others. Plenty of others. Trees even more glorious than my usual cluster. Not only around here, but perhaps on that Fall roadie we hope to take in November - crisp air, snug sweaters, pumpkin everything.

However, I'm pretty sure God had more than fall leaves in mind with his look-to-the-next-tree revelation, for my thoughts quickly jumped to other things: past neighborhoods we've lived in, schools my kids have gone to, jobs and careers we've had - even past wardrobes and hairdos.

You know, things we've had to, as author and speaker Beth Moore might suggest, "remix" in order to move onto the next great neighborhood, school, job, and (thank you, Jesus) wardrobe and hairdo.

Then my thoughts settled on my 17-year-old daughter. (Sigh...) Girls. Wouldn't you know? They sure do have a knack for getting into relational slumps, real or imagined.

So in my attempts to instill hope back into her kind heart, to prep her for a "remix," I'll blurt out stuff like, "You have a whole life of friendship-making ahead. God could be sending you a kindred spirit this very minute! (Now go put the dishes away!)"

And then a quote popped into my head from, you guessed it, Beth Moore. (I'm on a Beth Moore Bible Study kick.) A quote that must go directly into my how-else-can-I-possibly-word-it? mommy toolbox, for it says, "The next person we meet could become one of the dearest people in our lives."

So what about you? Can't get your sights off that one cluster of trees either? Need a new mix of tapes? A new frame of mind? Go ahead, look to the "next tree" with me, and let's trust God with life's remixes.