Empty Nest

I knew that one day all my children would grow up, get married, and start a family of their own. Our youngest child married his beautiful bride about a week ago.

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This is the first time in 33 years that we have no children living at home— we have an “empty nest.”  Raising a family was not an easy task; our job was to teach by example, to show what a marriage ought to look like, and to demonstrate what parents should do for their children.

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Some of you might be struggling with crying babies, with toddlers in their “terrible twos,” or with high-maintenance tweens or teens. Keep in mind that this is all temporary. Your baby will stop teething and sleep through the night, your toddler will learn how to share and be kind, your tweens and teens will learn responsibility and care for others so enjoy the “now.” “Consider it nothing but joy…” (James 1:2, AMP).

When I look back at all those years that we invested in our children and then to see them with their family today, I know that we have done our job— “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, NIV).

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Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
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Read, pray, and listen

I have read the story of Balaam a few times over the years and I often wondered why God was upset with him when he went with Balak’s men, especially after God told him to go with them:

20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him…” (Numbers 22, NIV).

For some reason, I glossed over the part where it said, “That night… Since these men have come… go with them, but do only what I tell you” (Num 22:20).  Balaam got up in the morning to go with the men. He should have gotten up as soon as God said for him to go with them (that night). Balaam did not do what God told him to do.

There was another instance earlier in the Bible where God’s exact words were not followed:

The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock…11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out…” (Num 20, NIV).

God told Moses to “speak to the rock” but Moses “struck the rock twice with his staff” instead (Num 20:8, 10). So God did the following:

“12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them” (Num 20:12, NIV).

After Balaam’s numerous encounters with the angel of God, he was told, “35 “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials” (Numbers 22, NIV).  In other words, God was telling Balaam to do exactly what He wants him to do (and say).

So what does all this mean? I think this shows the importance of doing what God wants us to do when He tells us to do it. Don’t dismiss God and do your own thing; don’t hold off doing something He wants you to do when it is more convenient for you. More importantly, follow His instructions carefully.

There are so many things we can do that can glorify God, but how do we know exactly what He wants us to do? We have to listen to Him, and ask Him for clarity– we do that through prayer and reading through His Word. So read, pray, and listen carefully!

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Steps

This morning I woke up thinking about divorce. My parents were divorced when I was a child. They say that children are resilient and can adjust/overcome their circumstances. I believe that to a certain point. If the parent remarries and the stepparent actually steps in and assumes the role of a loving parent, accepting the child as his/her “own,” then the child can adjust.

If the stepparent is opposite of a supportive and nurturing parent, then the child will mourn the loss of the family unit and the effects can last a lifetime. That child would be forever thinking about “what if” or “what could have been” – if the parents had just put more effort into working things out then things would have been different, they would have been “one big happy family.” Dwelling on the past is not healthy.

What’s the point? Divorce happens, and it happens frequently. If you are going to marry someone with children/grandchildren, then love the children/grandchildren as your “own”—as if you had given birth to them or that you willingly adopted them. Be the kind of parent/grandparent to them that you always wanted to have, or if you had great parents/grandparents growing up then emulate that for them.

God gave us this example: “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure” (Eph 1:4-5, NLT).

We are called to love others as ourselves (Mark 12:31), and that definitely includes loving one’s stepchildren/step-grandchildren. Find the joy in being a stepparent/step-grandparent, just as God had “great pleasure” in adopting us into His own family. I think we would have less maladjusted children and adults if every stepparent/step-grandparent did this.

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Respond or Not?

As a Christian, we are reminded that our goal is to become more like Jesus with our words and actions but there are certain things that make it difficult to do that.

I believe that Satan knows our “buttons” so he creates a situation where we are more likely to react “in the flesh.” That situation, though, is also a “test” to see how we will react. I have failed the test many times, and afterwards I ask God to forgive me and to help me in not reacting in a negative way in the future.

I’ve come to realize that there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” to react. On one hand, we are told: “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are” (Proverbs 26:4, NLT); but on the other hand, the advice is: “Answer a fool according to his foolishness or he’ll become wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:5, CSB). So how are we supposed to respond?

If we pray to God for guidance, then He will give it to us. If it is to respond, then He will give us the right words to say and we will have peace within. If our desire is to “get back at them,” then don’t respond.

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Big Ship

On a recent cruise that my husband and I took, we visited San Juan, Puerto Rico. We didn’t stay very long, we docked at about 6:30 am or so, but we had to be back at the ship by 1:30pm. We returned to the ship at 1pm just to be safe.  Our ship was scheduled to leave the port at 2:00 pm.

Right at 2:00 pm, I heard the ship’s horn. Slowly (so slow that we couldn’t even tell that we were moving) we backed away from the pier, then we stopped. It must have felt like an eternity because I heard the woman in the other stateroom ask her husband, “Is there something wrong with the ship? We’re not moving!” It took nearly 15 minutes to turn the ship in the right direction but we finally were on our way, going ever so slowly out of the bay.  About 25 minutes later, we were out to sea and on our way to the next port.

The incident reminded me of our lives. Sometimes our progress seems so slow that it doesn’t even look like we are making any progress, or our progress just stops. Other times we go backwards when we should be going forward; and when we try to readjust and correct our situation then our progress seems so slow and we get frustrated.

The thing is, positive change takes time. If we’ve been doing something for most of our lives, we can’t expect to change “overnight.”  If we “backslide” then we need to make a correction and continue going forward. Don’t give up and don’t get frustrated.  Be patient with yourself.

If it takes a “long time” to turn a big ship in the right direction, then it will take a long time for us to turn our lives in the right direction.  Just remember that all things are possible with God!

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

 

Conflict

I have seen how others handled conflict– sometimes they walk away to “clear their heads,” intending to discuss it later but they never do; while others ignore that the conflict exists.

Conflict can be difficult to handle and sometimes it might be better to not do anything about it, but if the conflict never goes away or if it gets bigger then it must be addressed and resolved. This is so true in marriages.

I think there are more opportunities for conflict in a marriage because it is a closer relationship. We also tend to see our spouses when we are tired, like after working all day, etc.

Going to the Bible and praying first is a great way to start the process of resolving the conflict. We must ask for God’s discernment to know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

Unresolved conflict can cause a barrier that gets wider over time. Conflict doesn’t have to be resolved “overnight,” but it should be resolved– it cannot linger. Then there must be reconciliation– where the two can move forward together.

Colossians 3:13-15 says, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace…” (NIV).

To truly resolve a conflict there must be forgiveness from both parties– to forgive and to forget. Forget it as if it never happened– that’s hard, but remember that all things are possible with God!

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering “stinks,” and it’s hard to understand why these things happen. Sadly, in our world we will see or go through pain, suffering, and hardships. I think this is why we have the Book of Job– we can see from Job’s example that no matter what happens in our life that we are to continue to praise God. Yes, it is hard to praise God when things feel like they are falling apart but when there is nothing or no one else, God is still there, and there is also the body of Christ.

The Bible tells us to “…pray for each other...” (James 5:16, NIV), and to “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Gal 6:2, NIV). As Christians, we are all the body of Christ, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” (1 Cor 12:26, NIV).

I think there are some people who are afraid that they will not know what to say to someone who is suffering, or maybe they are uncomfortable seeing someone’s pain and hardship. I have found that most of the time, people who are suffering just need a hug– no words, just a hug.

If you are experiencing hardships, pain, and/or suffering, then I hope that you have found someone to walk with you in your suffering; and if you have suffered in the past, then I hope that you will walk with someone who is in pain (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti