From Aunt Lisa and Betsy Ann

“Why, Lisa, she’s young enough that she’ll think you are her mother. She’s the happiest little thing and she’s perfect for you!” reported my doctor. And, Dr. Gray, our family vet, was right. Now, I’ve been an aunt for nearly 30 years, but this mothering thing is a different story even though I’m just a puppy’s mom! Betsy’s part cocker spaniel and part poodle. She’s very bright! Dad announced at Thanksgiving that he wants take her hunting to develop her obvious spaniel personality. But personality notwithstanding, I better start teaching her good manners and the meaning of the word “come.” I’m her “mother,” but she’s fast becoming the alpha-person around here and has me wrapped around her little paw!

Lesson #1: Listen to your child’s teacher.

Sometimes our children can be so adorable that we think they can do no wrong! With all Betsy’s curls, slurpy kisses, and warm lap-naps, I forget Betsy needs training. You may think your child is always right. However, parents can benefit from a teacher’s observations. Since parents can’t be everywhere, another set of eyes and ears is helpful. Listen when teachers tell you your child is struggling with something. They have your child’s best interest at heart. Make an effort to thank your child’s teacher next semester and she’ll be your best parenting ally.

Lesson #2: Kids! Read the instructions!

Our Valley Symphony & Chorale kicked off the Christmas season last Tuesday. My husband, a chorale member, gave me a ticket voucher to trade for an assigned seat ticket. However, I had failed to read that detail on the ticket. Unlike most problems arising from not reading the instructions, I was lucky. Seconds after an attendant reported the concert was sold out, an acquaintance appeared with an extra ticket for a great seat! But kids, luck is something that happens unexpectedly. Don’t depend on it to get you through next semester if you “lucked out” this time! Do your assignments. Read the instructions!

Lesson #3: Parents, teach your child honesty!

Adjacent that concert evening was a delightful English teacher. During intermission we talked education. There’s increasing pressure on her district to determine some students’ legal residence. Teaching your child to be deceitful about his legal residence or anything else is odd, don’t you think? The deception and corruption unfolding before our eyes in business and our government is shocking. We don’t have to look far to see the devastating ramifications of this dishonesty nor it’s effects here and around the world. Dishonesty and betrayed trust often ruin relationships for life! Parents, be honest. Teach honesty.

Lesson #4: Christmas is about grace and joy.

My ticket was from a woman who helped start Covenant Christian Academy in McAllen. Settled into our seats for the concert, we fondly remembered the academy’s early days as well as the recent, tragic car wreck that took the life of the school’s principal, Shari Sarver. Her exuberant, happy light for children no longer shines because of a teen-driver on drugs. By God’s grace, Shari’s life purpose continues after her death in the work she established at the school. But kids! True and lasting joy doesn’t come from drugs. The True Joy to the World came at Christmas.

Lesson #5: Christmas is about forgiveness and hope.

The concert evening was enchanting. But the lessons of the evening were just unfolding. The music, lights, and costuming were a larger-than-life Christmas gift! To cap off the entire experience, one of the camera- men did long close-ups of my handsome husband singing out magnificently on Handel’s Messiah. Messiah reigns…and shall reign forever and ever…if Handel knew what he was writing about. Handel was never accused of lunacy. The Christmas message of forgiveness and hope is a great source of comfort for our war-torn world and sin-sick lives.

Lesson # 6: Live each day as if it were your last.

While nearly 3000 people were entering the convention center, another auto accident was occurring on Ware Road not too far from the one that took Shari’s life. A car holding four dear friends on their way to this performance were hit by a drunk driver. Little did one of my friends, Floy Goodwin, know she would be ushered into her Messiah’s very presence that night. The other three are bearing burdens from surgery, shock, broken bones, and hanging on to life. Parents, are you loving and disciplining your children TODAY? You may not have tomorrow to teach your child. Do it now!

Lesson #7: The Christmas story says Christ is coming again.

Make no mistake about it, Floy, her noble husband, and a host of friends and family redeemed through the ages are singing in the choral masses with heavenly hosts this Christmas season. Someday she and I will be reunited in heaven as well. I don’t know when, but I’m ready whenever it happens! One of my favorite modern hymns is entitled What If It Were Today? It joyously proclaims Christ’s imminent return. Christ came prophetically as the infant Messiah. The Bible says He’s coming again to reign. Are you ready to meet Him?

Lesson #8: Dead people are no longer trainable.

When in Leadership McAllen, I was appalled to learn from Public Safety officials that many affluent parents in our community support the drunken brawls of their kids. Come on, parents! Kids, if you’ll stand up for the right thing (and you know what that is because you feel it in your gut), you could save the life of a best friend! Although a mangled, breathing body can be rescued, lives retrieved by the Jaws of Life machinery are often beyond repair. Certainly, dead people are no longer trainable.

Lesson #9: Parents are their child’s most important examples.

While having children seems to be the rule of thumb for most women, knowing what to do with them, I’ve observed, seems to be an increasing problem for some moms and dads these days. If parenting seems daunting, then think of yourself as a teacher and role model. Most children learn by precept first. Are you setting a good example for your child? Your child is watching you!

Lesson #10: Christmas teaches that Christ came to comfort us.

Last Thursday evening my educational sorority was to meet in Floy’s home for our annual Christmas ornament exchange. Instead, we grieved the great loss of her life. The consummate learner, Floy embraced the entire world upon her retirement from a career in education. She traveled extensively and brought us the adventurous stories of her discoveries. The Valley Symphony Chorale reminded us in the singing of Handel’s Messiah that comfort and rest are ours in Christ. The Bible tells us to seek God while He may be found. In fact, throughout the Bible we learn the way to ultimate peace is in knowing God. Christ will comfort you in your grief.

Finally, lessons are not learned until they are applied.

Floy’s and Sheri’s deaths and final lessons remind us we STILL have hard work to do. In 2009, let’s be the human Jaws of Life as we prayerfully and wisely pry children and each other lovingly away from destructive habits that lead to broken homes and lost lives. None of us have lived a perfect life. But in Christ, we can start over this Christmas.

Merry Christmas and the Best of New Years!

Aunt Lisa and Betsy Ann

Lisa K. Morrow is available for civic programs and has been a frequent speaker across Texas for 30 years. For a complete listing of topics available, contact her at lkfmorrow@yahoo.com.