Thursday, November 20, 2008

WHAT IF? Solving the problem before it is one!

As one looks back over a long, challenging and mostly enjoyable life, it is natural to recall those decisions and events that were good and those that were otherwise. Among those items that are without question on the positive side are the end result of rearing three children. Pictured are Mark Todd & Kimberly at Bethany's engagement party.

Mark, Todd and Kimberly, are each different and yet are all the same in so many ways. The two boys in particular were subjected to very harsh, corporal punishment. Not nearly as harsh as my Dad was with me, but still way too harsh. That was especially true with Mark the oldest. As adults I have apoligized to Mark for having such a harsh hand, mostly resulting from situations beyond his knowledge or control. Thankfully, he was a forgiving son. Probably because there was not a single moment in his life that he did not know, without the slightest doubt, that his dad loved him dearly. Kimberly insists that I once gave her two swats with a book. Hmmm!

There were two things in particular, however, that I managed to do right. One was having a dinner hour. One could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that the family did not sit down together at a dinner hour. And, two, frequently at those dinners we enjoyed verbal games: "What If" or "Whats New, Different or Exciting" or "Whats your biggest problem and your greatest opportunity". Everybody knew this was coming and in their daily lives looked for their own personal contributions. Everyone participated. Mark's was always the most serious while Todd's was usually the funniest. It's still that way! I recall many, many "new, different and exciting" stories. Todd's "How to drive the teacher up the wall" is a classic!

One terribly mischieveous story that I recall was the time I found my two teen age boy's stash of toilet tissue, paid for from contributions of their peers in anticipation of a group TP party. They had hid the cartons of TP in the attic of the garage.

As my "new, different and exciting" story I told how God had blessed us in a period of high inflation and downturned economy with perhaps a year's supply of TP. The look the boys shared with one another warms my heart to this day! They assured me that the TP did not belong to them, which was sort of the truth. It belonged to the group. Everybody knew everbody knew but no one was admitting anything or accusing anybody. A peaceful, civil standoff. A good lesson in real life. I produced the TP and promptly put it the family TP storage, praising God from whom all blessings flow.

Only in my imagination do I know how they squared that account with their peers but I know that the experience again prepared them for real life. Mark learned how to break the bad news of a downturned stock and Todd, as a minister, became a story teller extra ordinary. Kimberly, well, Kimberly learned to be thankful that she wasn't guilty! By far the youngest, she really didn't know anything about any TP. She was my sneaky one. She took that trait after her Mother's side of the family. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it. She's a Daddy's girl. Still!

The game of "What If" was more mentally challenging and probably the most rewarding. We discussed every scenario that could be imagined. We performed a potential problem analysis and resolution on everything from bullies to peer pressure to dating. There was no subject that was taboo. Everyone joined in. While many problems discussed at dinner were in fact resolved ahead of time, the important thing was that, in private, the kids would imagine situations that they would not want to share with their parents. They became very proficient at their own potential problem analysis with the best resolution on hand when and as needed. Rare are the adults that can do what these three did as children. It shows too!

Julie and I are in the midst of a "What If". What if there is a real and prolonged economic downturn, not the one imagined by the media. We constantly hear of the problem but not a word about what individuals should be doing. As students of what has happened in the past, we know what might happen in the future. For example, we are starting with a "What If" her company shuts down or she physically needs early retirement in the next year or two. We are applying the solutions of Robert Ringer's book "How to be well and happy in the upcoming collaspe of the western civilization". We will proceed in life as we always have convinced that we will be both well and happy because, like the boy scouts, we will be prepared. Yup! Lots of strawberry jam and apple butter on hand. HaHa

Proverbs 27:12 "The prudent see danger and take refuge......"

God Bless!

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