It Just Takes a Little Time

It Just Takes a Little Time - how do you love your aging parents well? Spend time with them. Tell the old stories. Listen again to theirs. Tell them you love them. Just sit there.

On most mornings, I stop and have coffee with my mom. It’s on my way to work, and I usually stay about 30-45 minutes. We talk a little bit about friends she’s heard from and what she saw on television. She’ll want to know how the kids are, especially since we’re expecting the arrival of our first grandchild in August (her second great grandchild). I will have heard most of the stories before.

But when I was a kid, I probably told her the same stories over and over again, too.

Having said that, coffee with my mom has taken a little getting used to. For one thing, I’m a morning person. What I mean by that is I like to get up and start working early in the morning. I’ve found that those first 3-4 hours in the morning, before I talk to anyone, are the most productive and creative time of my day.

Now, I’m having coffee with Mom.

I’m not complaining. She’s funny and strong—and opinionated. Our conversations are never boring. But I’ve had to adjust my day and how I work in it.

Why? Because my mom is that important to me. Since I’ve moved my mom to Nashville, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who are dealing with older parents. How do you do it well? What’s most important to them?

I’m not an expert, but here’s what I’ve learned. What our parents want from us—indeed what I want from my own sons—is time. My mom wants a little time with me. Well, she wants a lot of time…but that’s another blog.

So, how do you love your aging parents well? Spend time with them. Tell the old stories. Listen again to theirs. Tell them you love them. Just sit there.

Time is the new money. It’s the most precious thing we have. Don’t waste it on trivialities. Save a little for mom and dad. It’s the only thing they really want, and in truth, we owe it to them.

Besides, I’m trying to teach two boys how to treat their old man when he’s too old to come to them. Chris and Craig, are you guys paying attention?

Being Dad to My Mom

My mom and dad were married so long they became one word, “John and Barbara Glenn.” You didn’t see one without seeing the other. The two of them were a great team. Their gifts complemented each other. Dad was a great people person and Mom was great at details. When Dad died three years ago, Mom struggled. I wasn’t surprised. I expected it. When she forgot to pay a bill or overlooked an appointment, I just wrote it off as grief.

I was the last one to admit there was something else wrong. Finally, after consultations with doctors, MRIs, and X-rays, I ended up moving Mom to an assisted living facility near where I live. To say I moved her is an understatement. I drug her to Nashville. I don’t think she’s forgiven me yet. She may never forgive me.

And I’ll just have to live with that. I’m discovering I’ll have to learn to live with a lot of things. I’m making decisions about her doctors and her care. I’m taking care of her finances and dealing with her property. I’m trying to do what I think she would want me to do, but sometimes I’m not so sure. Sometimes, I just do the best I can.

One thing that’s surprised me is how many of my friends are going through the same thing. When they hear I’ve moved my mom, they’ll walk up to me and quietly tell me what’s going on in their lives. A lot of us, it seems, are dealing with aging parents. The flipping of roles with our parents is frustrating and frightening, fulfilling and emptying—all at the same time.

There are no books that can help. Sure, there are plenty of resources out there about Alzheimer’s and aging, but there’s no book on my mom. Nope, Barbara B. Glenn is one of a kind. Most of the decisions come down to me. I make them the best I can, and I pray a lot.

After a lot of ups and downs through all of this, here’s where I’ve landed. When I was little and couldn’t take care of myself, I trusted my mom to do what was best for me. Now, the table has turned. She’s no longer able to take care of herself, and the only thing she wants is for me to do what’s best for her. No, she won’t always understand what I do just like I didn’t understand everything she did for me.

But I trusted her.

Now, she’s trusting me.

If at the end of it all, I can say I did the best I could to take care of my mom, I’ll be able to live with that. Like I said, I’m learning to live with a lot of things these days.

Uncle Mike’s Fast Five for Husbands

Malcolm Gladwell says you have to have 10,000 hours of experience to become an expert in a particular field. I don’t know if that’s really true or not, but here’s what I do know. As a 35 year veteran of marriage, that means Jeannie and I have over 300,000 hours of marriage experience. That must make us some kind of Super Ninjas of marriage.

Now that I’ve established my credentials, lets get to the point of this blog. Since I’ve been teaching at Kairos, a young adult worship experience at Brentwood Baptist Church, there has been a steady conversation going on with young husbands. A lot of the time, a young man will get married and have a limited relationship with his father. That means he’s trying to be a husband without ever having seen a husband. Or worse, his father may have left him with only a negative experience. That means he only has a list of things that he will never do as a husband.

So, they’ll walk up to me and say, “I just got married. Got any advice?” To answer that question, I developed the Fast Five for Guys. Here they are:

1. Tell her you love her—a lot. If you already tell her, tell her more. She really can’t hear it enough. All day long the world tells her she’s not enough. She’s too this or too that. She’s spending too much time at work and neglecting her family, or she betrayed the cause of women by choosing to stay home and be a mother. Our culture sends cruel messages to our wives. As husbands, we have to be intentional about countering these harmful messages. Let “I love you” be the first thing she hears in the morning and the last thing she hears before she goes to sleep.

2. Learn to fight fair. Get mad. That’s fine, but the point of the fight is to solve the problem, not to “fix her.” She’s probably not the problem to begin with. Keep your anger focused on the real problem.

3. It’s all foreplay. How you talk to her in the kitchen will directly impact how she responds to you in the bedroom. If she’s still focused on unresolved anger, unhealed hurts, and other moments of “dis-ease” it will be difficult for her to be your loving wife. Flirt with her, compliment her, and woo her throughout the day.

4. Learn her love language…and speak it often. Jeannie likes “happies.” Happies are little gifts for no reason. Jeannie gets lots of happies. Find out her language and respond accordingly. Remember, roses are cheaper than attorneys.

5. Security is a basic need of wives in marriage. Make sure she’s physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially safe.

Bonus: You’ll never have any trouble with her as your wife if you always treat her as your girlfriend. That means you still ask her out, you still flirt with her, and you dress like you’re trying to impress her.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Get started on these and get back to me. I’ll give you some more stuff to work on after you get these down.

What would you add?

Passing Along Generosity

My father had nothing growing up. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Joking about “thinking dirt was toy,” couldn’t hide the hard realities of my father’s childhood. For that reason, my father couldn’t stand anyone to be in need. He would literally give away his last dollar. Then, he would smile at me and say, “Son, you can’t out give God.”

That’s where I learned about generosity. Generosity flows out of who you are much more than what you have.

As a pastor, I have a difficult challenge of talking about money to people who really don’t want to hear me talk about money. To be honest, I really don’t like to talk about money. To be even more honest, Jesus talked about money more than He talked about anything else. So, if you’re faithful to Jesus in your preaching, sooner or later, you’re going to talk about money.

Parents face the same challenge. How do we talk to our children about money in a generation that has mixed feelings about it in the first place? On the one hand, Millennials have seen money disappoint their parents and grandparents. Many of them remember the recent economic down turn and were impacted by the results. Some of them moved when their parents had to find new jobs and others were told they couldn’t go to the college of their choice because “the money’s just not there.”

On the other hand, they are tantalized by the digital revolution that seems to make “billionaires” overnight. Some “kid” designs an app that a big company buys up for a sum larger than the GDP of several small nations. And boom! Life’s solved.

So how do we talk to a generation that’s hearing both messages—first, that money can’t buy happiness and second, that if money didn’t buy you happiness, you weren’t shopping in the right store.

First, the gospel tells us that our worth isn’t dependent on the money in our accounts. I know this sounds basic, but it’s the basics we overlook that cause most of the problems. Remember the sparrows? We have to first model for our children the good news of the gospel. Life is more than stuff.

Second, talk to your children about money. You talk to them about drugs, cars, sex, grades, music, and sports—so talk about money. It doesn’t have to be heavy handed or dull. Just use opportunities to remind your children of why we make the money decisions we do. For instance, an unexpected car repair can help us teach our children about the importance of having enough money in savings.

Third, when you give to the church, make sure your children understand why you’re giving. It’s more than just paying the bills of the church. Tithing is about worship. Giving is our response to the generosity of God. We are a generous people because we serve a generous God.

All of this assumes you are a generous person. Generosity, like most important things of life, is more caught than taught.