Funny Family Dinner

mcginnis dinner table

Dear Lindsey,

“All Great Change in America begins at the dinner table,” said Ronald Reagan.

I have often heard that the ties that bind a family get tied at the table, but it takes so much effort to make a dinner with 6 people happen! Though every night would be a perfect frequency of dinners together, too often six conflicting Brady calendars don’t allow for that perfection.

We cherish the memories of dinners we can procure. One such dinner a month ago was worthy of capturing for later smiles.

Before I cite the dinner conversation, I must tell you some background about my husband, Chris. He is a best-selling author, influential and entertaining speaker, has almost 200,000 followers on Twitter, obtained 2 degrees in engineering, raced motocross as a teen and loves sports. He has been my Mr. Wonderful from the beginning, so much that my mother started calling him “MW” early in our dating. His ability to laugh at himself is one of his greatest qualities, and that alone has allowed so many of his fans to relate to him, especially our children. Knowing that Dad whom they have on a pedestal has made mistakes and still turned out ok has encouraged them to persevere. Chris’s description on the back of his book, Rascal – Making a Difference by Becoming an Original Character says, “…He has one of the world’s most unique resumes: including experience with a live bug in his ear, walking through a paned-glass window, chickening out from the high-dive in elementary school, destroying the class ant-farm in third grade, losing a spelling bee on the word “use,” jack-hammering his own foot, and more recently – sinking his snowmobile in a lake.” That background might be helpful for the following Brady dinner conversation:

Nate (12): “My teacher asked if we thought our parents were perfect. I asked him, ‘which one?’”

(We laughed.)

Nate: “By the way, I got in trouble today in class for talking, and the teacher made me put my name on the board. She said, ‘All right, anyone who was talking, go to the front and put your name on the board. So I did. But I wrote it REALLY neatly, because I knew you would like that, Mom.”

(I laughed that he thought the neatness of his name would make a difference when putting his name on the board for the offense.)

Chris: “Maybe you should have written, ‘your name on the board.’”

(The kids laughed.)

Me: “That’s why Dad spent so much time in the hallway during school.”

Chris: “Yeah, they pretty much moved my desk to the hall.”

Nate: “Maybe I should try to get that to happen to me, so I can be by myself and won’t be distracted.”

Chris: “No, It’s really distracting, because every person that walks by with a bathroom pass looks at you, points at you and laughs at you.”

Christine (9) (innocently):“Why would the teacher put you in the hall, Daddy?”

Chris: “I don’t know! I didn’t do anything wrong. I just made people laugh, that’s all. Oh, and the ant farm shaking incident. I remember that one really well.”

(We laughed.)

It was Brady story #447, “The Ant Farm Shaking Incident”…the time Chris strangely felt compelled to pick up the class’s ant farm and shake it like mad, causing the teacher to walk on top of desks to close the distance FAST to grab Chris before the ants were dead. The teacher was too late.

James Dobson once said, “Unless you are in regular, meaningful, relatable conversation with your child when he is four, you can’t expect to start any meaningful conversation when he is fourteen.”

May you be blessed with family dinners and stories so familiar they’re numbered; and when your son has to write his name (neatly) on the board, just imagine him telling that story to his own kids one day when they have their dad on a pedestal. Maybe the story will even get numbered.

God bless,

Terri

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Climb the Ladder

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died

My richest gain I count but lost

And pour contempt on all my pride.

I wrote the words to that old hymn from Isaac Watts in my journal, while I fought back internal emotional pain. I WANTED to pour contempt on all my pride, but it kept haunting its possessor.

Then I decided to really try to “survey the wondrous cross” and I went into a little daydream that morning in my quiet time, which I will never forget. It was a daydream that forced surrender of my heart, once again.

In the distance, I saw not one, but three crosses on the hill. A crowd of people surrounded the base. There was noise: people’s voices, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

I stared at the center cross as I walked closer, praying that I would stay focused on Him,

3 crosses by Nicole Avereyn

3 crosses by Nicole Avereyn

despite the distractions of this crazy surrounding world. I wanted to “be one” with other people as He was one with God, so that people would know why He came; yet I battled conflict in my heart. I wanted to survey that wondrous cross and leave the conflict behind.

I saw guards, Roman I assume, in costume as the movies had portrayed. Some spectators on the hill were on their knees, in a deep mourning wail. Others were shouting insults toward the cross. Others were simply walking away, not able to “survey” any longer.

I looked at His face. Jesus’ eyes were still open. He looked down on all of the people – the crying, the shouting and even the leaving and I remembered His words, “Forgive them; they know not what they do.”

What wondrous love is this that He could forgive even in agony?

Agony caused by lashes of a whip tied especially for breaking skin on His bare back while authorities held His flesh taut for maximum tearing.

Agony caused by friends, even His closest, who had deserted Him. One betrayed with a kiss, others with their departure or denial.

Agony caused by a crown of thorns forced onto His head to pierce the skin, while they mocked Him as a “king”.

Agony caused by taunting hours before, “If You are so great, why don’t you tell us who hit You?” as they struck his blindfolded face.

I imagined how He must have felt as people sang, “Hosanna!” at His coming to town, so grateful for His arrival; then in contradiction, people screamed, “Crucify Him!” just days later, treating Him like the criminals on the adjacent crosses.

How did He restrain from fighting back?” I wondered when I recalled his accusers bringing Him to Pontius Pilate, telling the lies that He had denounced taxes and that He was undermining the government. (Luke 23) He stayed focused on His message: He was the Son of God. When King Herod tried Him, Jesus never even spoke, as if wrestling with the pig wasn’t worth words. He was at peace with allowing God’s will to be done through Him. “Why can’t I do that?!” I wondered.

Crucifixion, a slow, lingering electric chair of the era was so cruel, so public, so naked. There was no way to “look good” even as the Son of God hanging on that wood. Nails pierced his hands and feet.

Three men died that day at Calvary. One on the cross next to Jesus jeered at Him, while the other, in full belief said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” That is when Jesus told the latter, “I tell you the truth: today you will be with me in paradise.”

I broke out of the dream and thought back onto myself. I could see me saying, “I’m kind of having a bad day here. My emotions are out of control; I’d really like some time on this cross where I don’t have to deal with you people.” Yet Christ had a message to relay: that heaven awaits; and it is waiting for anyone who believes – even in his last hour.

My daydreaming continued, and I found a ladder. I set it next to Jesus’ cross, and began to climb. I wanted to survey the Savior.

The sweat, mixed with blood, poured from His body. I recalled His “sweating blood” during a deep prayer just nights before, though His closest friends’ loyalty faded in sleep. I meditated on even Him, asking His heavenly Father for a change of The Plan, yet what He wanted was that God’s will be done.

The daydream paused as personal thoughts came in: That’s what I want!: God’s will be done. Yet so much conflict, how can it be?

In my daydream, my actions continued, I wanted to get closer, to talk to Jesus as He hung on that cross, looking down on the people. “Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,” came to mind from another verse of the same hymn.

From His view I could see His accusers, and mine too. “He died for them, also,” I was reminded.

I leaned toward Him to whisper, bringing my lips close to His ear and tried to form words. Thoughts flooded my mind:

Jesus, SHE won’t return my phone call!”

“Jesus, I am so jealous that I didn’t get what I wanted.”

“Jesus, I have been WRONGED, and they are going to make me look bad.”

A smile came to my face, in self-laughter. What?! I would NEVER have been able to say that into His ear from atop the ladder! How petty! How selfish! He died for me, can I not live a moment for Him? After climbing that ladder to truly survey the wondrous cross the only thoughts that could come to mind were unsaid, choked back by tears:

“I am SO unworthy of this sacrifice.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Thank you.”

He glanced in my direction as if to answer my unspoken words, “I know. It’s why I came.”

As I snapped out of my daydream, tears flowed as I realized how petty my prayers had been that morning.

He gave His life for me; can’t I live a moment for Him?

When my pride gets in the way: I climb the ladder.

When I feel like I have been wronged: I climb that ladder.

When I am jealous, I climb the ladder.

If I am talking too much about myself, I need to climb that ladder.

If I am feeling perfect enough to start correcting others, I climb the ladder.

If I am more worried about the scrutiny of man than the scrutiny of God, I CLIMB THE LADDER.

Are my thoughts worthy of whispering in His ear from the top of the ladder?

Whisper in His ear about the parents who just lost children this week. He cares.

Pray to Him about the woman lost in the dark world of depression. He’s holding her.

Ask Him in His ear how best to be His testimony in this lost world and He would be relieved to know someone read His Words so they would outlast His agony.

I had “open heart surgery” that morning. I surrendered. His will be done.

He has the whole world in His hands, not my hands, and that is where it needs to stay.

I pray this holiday season that we may be ONE so the world will know that the Lord above sent Jesus Christ as our Savior (John 17:21): He humbled Himself to human birth – in a stable; He submitted to baptism – by another man; He washed filthy feet – of those lesser than He; He died a criminal’s death – alongside heathen, for God’s glory. May we follow His example to true humility; I am above nothing. Peace on earth comes into our hearts when we can rest in God’s will being done.

And if conflict arises, even if only inside of us, may we climb the ladder to rise above the offense, survey the cross, and take time to whisper in His ear, “Thank You.”

Pride/Ego Summary of Symptoms:

Beginning introduction: (Turkey Tastes Better Without Lily Pads.)

Other symptoms (and this list is probably endless):

  • refusing to forgive/bitterness
  • ranking people as more or less valuable than one another
  • talking down about others (close relative to talking about oneself)
  • resisting new information

With love,

Terri Brady

 

Stop in the Name of the Law

Dear Lindsey,

“Gasp!”

Ok, now that you got that out of the way, I can share the story that made you do it.

As we continue this series on symptoms of pride/ego, I can go back a few decades to high school again. Unfortunately, I can probably think of more recent examples, but my pride couldn’t handle sharing those :) ; it’s easier to think it was only a problem of my youth.

Next symptom: Thinking I am above the law.

My high school’s shop teacher, a former Army Colonel, was my neighbor and he had a cute little poodle, “Cocoa.” For easy cash, I often took care of Cocoa when its owners were out of town. Rather than walking down the block to my house when he returned from his trip, “the Colonel” (as we students called him) chose to pay me when he saw me in the school cafeteria on the Monday after my pet-sitting.

This led to many jokes of which the Colonel was unaware:

He would approach my lunch table full of teens of both genders, hand me money and say, “Thanks for last night.” Or: “This is for the weekend.”

As he left, snickers would fill our table. Soon, they would see him coming and get silent to see what words he would use when he handed me cash:  “Here he comes to pay Terri for her ‘services.’ Be quiet!”

I never mentioned the torture to him, but I cringed each time he approached.

One weekend the Colonel had asked me to pet-sit, but after accepting the job, I realized I had a commitment to go somewhere with my family for the weekend. I forgot to tell the Colonel that I was unable to keep poor little Cocoa. I didn’t remember until Monday morning when the Colonel approached my lunch table.

The table hushed in anticipation of his words.

“Thanks for the weekend,” he said as he slid a ten-dollar bill into my hand in front of my friends.

I gulped.

I must have forgotten to tell him I couldn’t take care of his dog.

My heart raced, but my ego ignored the urge. “You’re welcome,” I said and took the cash, hoping the Colonel would disappear quickly.

He never asked me to take care of Cocoa again.

During my senior year, my parents (unknowing of my story) suggested I have the Colonel write a recommendation for me for college, since an Army Colonel would be a good advocate to have. “No, thanks,” I said.

How I wish I could go back and change what I did! The Colonel knew I hadn’t taken care

A brown standard poodle at five weeks

of that dog. I can only imagine the damage in his house when he returned. A starving, thirsty dog probably left messes all over and destroyed anything in its path.  I don’t know why the Colonel chose to see if I would be a big enough person to admit it; maybe he knew the years of guilt would be worse than the verbal confrontation. I have tried searching for him online several times in my adulthood so I could apologize- to no avail. God has forgiven me, but forgiving myself has taken longer.

I don’t know why I thought “Thou shalt not lie” (Exodus 20) didn’t apply to me, but I did.

I can remember the following week, justifying the fib in my mind:

  • What was I supposed to do? Everyone was listening!
  • I didn’t really “lie” per se; I just said, “thank you.” (note: It’s still “bearing false witness.”)
  • It was only $10.
  •  It’s just a dog.

Ugh.

Thinking a law (especially a law of God) doesn’t apply to me is a symptom of pride.

When telling a negative story, I prefer to use myself as the example, so I can use others as positive examples, but obviously in this world, there are many examples of actors, business owners and presidents who have had an ego that caused them to put themselves above a law…or two.

Huge scandals begin with a small thought in a heart. One little lie, because it was only $10, leads to millions unless the ego gets under control.

  • “I deserve to take these supplies home from work, because no one notices anyway,” is justifying stealing.
  • I can watch these movies because I am an adult now,” justifies adultery.
  • I am running late because of traffic,” (when really we left our house later than we should have and happened to also run into traffic) OR “I’ll be there in 10 minutes,” (when we know it is really 20, but we don’t want the appointment to leave) is still lying.
  • That rule doesn’t apply to me, because I am so important to this team,” is taking advantage of your blessings.

Thanks to an analogy from my husband, Chris, I have often imagined that one day God will play the movie of my life back to review my behavior, while I watch beside Him. My stomach churning would never allow for popcorn during that movie. I imagine that it is MY life and no one else can be seen in the film. My heart has a voice in the movie, so my thoughts, actions and words are of equal volume, but the circumstances around the words, thoughts and actions cannot be seen, only the deeds for which I am responsible. My legs weaken when I see the laws that I took so lightly, thinking I was only doing what “anyone would do.” I do not like myself in so many of the scenes of those home movies.

Thankfully, God is not done with me yet. We can repent of our sins and ask forgiveness from those whom we have hurt. (Acts 3:19) He can make us white as snow again. (Isaiah 1:18) Repentance begins with recognizing the need for repentance. Pride blocks recognition of our own sin and our need of a Savior.  Pride is the eclipse that blocks the Son from being seen. May I decrease that He may increase (John 3:30), and with that decrease, I can recognize that I am above no law.

Although God’s laws have no exceptions (Hebrews 10:16), neither does His grace. (Lamentations 3:22, Hebrews 4:16, Ephesians 2:4) Believe in forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31) Wow! God is amazing!

Although I chose to write about ego/pride during this holiday season because of its tremendous negative impact on relationships, I guess it’s becoming obvious that the ramifications go far beyond the family Christmas dinner and into eternity.  May we gain strength to live with eternal perspective, always.

God bless,
Terri Brady

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Sunrise, Sunset, Fishing for Memories

Dear Lindsey,

There have been so many times when I have felt like I was not thriving but barely surviving motherhood. By far, one of the most challenging was when my youngest was crying all the Continue reading

Call Mom!

J.R. (6), who is smart as a whip, is just learning phone manners. I try to teach my kids to answer our home phone, “Hello, Brady Residence, this is _______,”  as I was taught as a child.

He has even memorized my 10-digit phone number. He called me once last week, and it went like this:

Me: “Hello?”

J.R.: “Brady residence, this is J.R. Who is this?”

Me: “This is Mom. You called me, so you don’t say the ‘Brady residence’ part, ok?”

I have been playing the piano for Casey’s school choir one day/week. Since I homeschool the younger three (ages 11, 8 and 6), they are left by themselves- a new thing now that the 14-yr-old goes to school.  I guess, because it is new that they are home without Casey, they feel the need to call me. (even when Chris is home!!) Last Monday, my phone had seven missed calls from the “Brady residence” in the one hour I was gone!

So Friday, when I left for a short appointment, I gave more explicit instructions. “I am only going for one hour. Please do not make my phone ring, unless it is your last call before dialing 911.”

I was gone ten minutes when my phone rang.

Me: “Hello?”

J.R.: “Hi Mom, what time is it?”

Me: “3:00″

J.R. “ok, thanks.” click.

I said a quiet prayer, thanking God he hadn’t called 911…yet.

 

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Raising Readers

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” – Mark Twain

Dear Lindsey,

I took three of my kids to the dentist this week- the normal every 6 months habit. We walked into the waiting room, books in hand. (Aside: I really believe if I bring my book, my wait is less. If I forget my book, the wait is longer. It is like a Murphy’s Law for me!) The television had been playing to an empty room, and was set to a morning talk show. A commercial came on with a famous female commentator asking a woman, “Did you kiss her? Did you like it?”  I had no idea what was coming, but I quickly jumped up to turn off Read more of this letter

“Mom, I need the bug swatter thing.”

After bedtime, Casey (3) was at the top of the stairs yelling for me.  When I arrived, he said, “Can you please get me the bug swatter thing? There are two bugs: one here [by the gate] and one in your room.” I said , “What were you doing in my room? You’re supposed to be in bed.” His eyes got HUGE as if to wonder how I knew he was in my room.  Finally, he answered, “I was looking to see if you had any bugs.”

Trip Advisor on the Guilt Trip: Terrorism

Terrorism.

Dictionary.com defines it as “systematic use of intimidation to achieve some goal.”

I never thought of using it to describe my child’s methods, but Chris was using the word correctly (of course!) when he referred to our 17-month-old.

The word could well describe the methods of many mothers, husbands, wives, friends, bosses, children, and …of course foreign radical religious leaders. Read more of this letter

Family Traditions

GOLDEN AGE CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENTS

“These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family.”  Esther 9:28

I have tremendously enjoyed taking a few days off this week – as much as any mother of four can take a few days “off”. I have read more, slept more, worshipped more, “blown more bubbles” (my term for whiling away the hours with my children–in their love languages) and wondered why I don’t do this MORE?!

In these days of rush-hour lives, it seems almost impossible to slow down  and fight against busyness (B.U.S.Y. = bound under satan’s yoke) to enjoy each other. It’s easy to let hours, days or years go by and wonder where they went. Families need to combat the unraveling and stay tightly knit;  one way is through family traditions. 

“Chips!” my three-year-old screamed when he came down one Christmas morning, despite the toys that surrounded the chips. On video, it truly sounds like a 4-letter-word, but our funny home video reminds the Bradys that Christmas mornings bring chips, since our son’s food allergies prevented the “normal” Christmas morning sweets.

As Christmas approaches, fresh cranberries are strung with popcorn to hang on the Brady tree; Chris’s favorite cookies are decorated, and the Legend of the Candy Cane is repeatedly read.  Dad’s calendar is opened to reserve a day for “stealth” family shopping and an evening for ornament painting.  We buy (or make) one new labelled ornament for each child, so when he or she leaves the home one day, his or her new tree will bear years of memories on which to build new ones.

Some traditions bless others while creating family bonding. When I was growing up, my mother would volunteer to work holidays at the nursing home where she was a nurse. My father, brothers and I would then join her and convene with the elderly, bring dessert and lead singing.   My 14-year-old son recently worked 5 hours at the Operation Christmas Child warehouse – something that could become a tradition as our family gets old enough to participate.  Caroling in the neighborhood, adopting a family, cleaning the house for toys & coats to donate, visiting the sick, and making cards for the elderly are great ways for the family to act as a team in blessing others.

Most important would be those traditions that revolve around God’s message to us. Traditional attendance of a church service, memorizing Scripture, and singing songs are wonderful “habits” for my children to take along to their own families one day.  One family of nine visited us last Christmas and simultaneously recited all of Luke Chapter 2 at the dinner table (upon our request once we heard it was in their repertoire). What a great family Christmas tradition each of the children will remember forever!!

What are your traditions? I would love it if you attached a comment below with a tradition- even if it is one already mentioned -even if it seems silly, like “chips!”. (note: Comments here stay with this letter, although Facebook comments disappear with the timeline.)  You may inspire another reader -including myself- with a new tradition that knits families for generations to come.

Enjoy your family,

Terri