Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “lessons”


“A job isn’t worth doing unless it’s done right the first time.” It was something like this that my grandmother embedded into us when we spent the summers with her. We “earned our keep,” so to speak. We had a list of chores to do each day. We memorized Bible verses at meal times, we were expected to treat each other with kindness and respect, and she set the bar high. We had to make our beds each morning…perfectly. We had to do the dishes…completely and thoroughly. We had to clean out the toy closets and ball closets…spotlessly. We had to sweep the garage…immaculately. She wasn’t being mean, or harsh, or a taskmaster. She just expected us to pitch in. She wanted us to learn the value of hard work. She wanted us to learn to do a job right…the first time. It’s a waste of time to do a job half-assed, then do it repeatedly until it’s done right, done well, and with care and excellence.

This is what my grandmother taught me. I didn’t care much for those lessons at the time. Matter of fact, I kinda thought it was a crock. Since when do kids go to their grandmother’s house to work? It’s supposed to be all about fun. And, truthfully, we had a lot of fun with her…after the work was done. She loved to play games…after the chores were complete. Part of her mission, I think, was to teach us grandkids to do a job right the first time around. And it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

I ran across a passage this week that made me think of this very thing. Some people brought a man to Jesus who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to heal him. Jesus took him aside, put His fingers in the man’s ears, and some of His spit on the man’s tongue. (Yes, this sounds disgusting!) Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Be opened!” In an instant, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue loosened, and he began to speak clearly. It was gross, crazy, strange, and miraculous all at the same time.

The people who witnessed this were absolutely blown away. And do you know what their response was? Here’s what they said about Jesus… “He has done everything well…” What they were indicating about Jesus was, “He does everything beautifully, commendably, and with excellence. Jesus does admirable things that are honorable, surpassing good and noble.”

He didn’t just do some things well. He did all things well. He didn’t choose to half-ass a few things now and then. He chose to do the job right (and with excellence) the first time. The Message Translation of Mark 7:37 records it this way, “He’s done it all and done it well.”

I wonder if Jesus grew up with a grandmother like mine?

Or maybe He just knew that it made perfect sense to do everything well. That doing things half-assed is a waste of time. Maybe He sensed that excellence and honor was the way God intended it to be. Maybe He figured out that if you’re gonna do a job, do it right the first time. Because in the end, this is the way, the effort, the attitude, and the character that pleases God…and my grandmother.




I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself the sentimental type, but I’m definitely reflective. 2012 has been a year that’s had some definite lessons—ones not taught, but caught. I was not the teacher, but the student. I have learned from my two teenage boys many things this year, but these are the standouts. (Granted, some are tongue-in-cheek of course.)

Here are 12 things my teenagers taught me in 2012:

1)    Failure is not forever — My youngest son was cut from the basketball team one day, but joined the scholar bowl team the next day. My oldest son failed his driver’s test one day, went back and passed the next day. Get back up on the horse, I say! Way to go, guys.

2)    PS3 gaming actually builds community — I’m not completely sold on the idea of spending hours and hours on these things, however, my husband, sons, and I have had a great time together playing a game or two. I think the bonding really comes at my expense, however, because I’m terrible…and they laugh…at me. But there’s much encouragement and cheering that goes on for each other on the few occasions when we’ve all four played together.

3)    I’m not a perfect mother — I have been frequently reminded of this fact throughout the year. Although I don’t care for the reminders, it’s definitely humbling, and centers me upon the fact that I cannot raise kids without the help of the Almighty God. I’m far from perfect, but He is my perfect source for strength and guidance.

4)    Testosterone is not a figment of anyone’s imagination — Oh…my…goodness! That’s all that needs to be said here.

5)    Owning pets to teach kids responsibility is a farce — Now six years into the life of our cat, I still shake my head at the lack of responsibility the boys have taken for her. They love the cat, but not the care-taking part. Who were we fooling when we got her thinking it would assist in teaching responsibility? The joke is definitely on us. Fortunately, we love the cat as well.

6)    Living rooms make pretty good soccer, baseball, and football fields — Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We don’t have fancy furniture or fragile things in our living room. It tends to be the place where the boys gather to wrestle or play some sport. They rearrange or clear out furniture often. Now that they’re bigger, however, I do worry that one of these times they’ll end up going right through the wall.

7)    Hold on loosely to “stuff,” because if it breaks, it’s still just “stuff” — Things come and go. Things break and get thrown away. There’s far more to life than just “stuff.” Making memories, laughing, enjoying each other’s company, talking about life and the struggles therein, etc.—these are the things we hold on to. This is the stuff that has lasting value.

8)    Simple Math: 2 teenagers + 2 parents watching a 15” TV while laying on a king size bed = family bliss — Seriously! I wouldn’t trade these times for anything. All four of us have piled on our bed and watched the last quarter of a football game, the news or weather report, a suspenseful TV show or comedy. We don’t plan it. It just happens. And it’s wonderful!

9)    It’s not that hard to invite friends to church (you don’t hem and haw about it, you just do it) — Both of my sons have this knack. They don’t consider the invitation to be awkward. They don’t dwell on the “what ifs.” They simply ask their friends to join them. Some do, some don’t. They don’t take it personally. They ask. And they ask again. It’s not rocket science.

10)  Forcing ourselves beyond our comfort zones is far more freeing than it is uncomfortable — I have observed both of my sons this year having to go beyond their comfort zones in various situations. It wasn’t easy for them, but I believe the result was freeing for both of them. The initial discomfort or awkwardness is a small price to pay compared with the freedom and joy of new horizons.

11)  Homemade chocolate chip cookies really do make the world go round — Much loved, and highly requested at my house, these timeless treasures are probably the greatest invention ever. The fulfillment either comes in making them together, licking the beaters, or eating them fresh and hot out of the oven. This may be the only moment when #3 above is incorrect.

12)  Once the initial hurdle is cleared, each subsequent hurdle gets easier and easier — Sometimes all it takes is getting over the proverbial hump. The first hurdle is sometimes treacherous, and comes with lots of kicking and screaming. But once cleared, the next hurdle gets a little easier. In observing my sons this year, this lesson has been a powerful one for me as well.

Let me just say that my teenage sons are far from perfect. There are a lot of days when I’d like to sell them cheap. We certainly don’t have a flawless family. Parenting teenagers is a lot of work. Unfortunately, it’s the season of parenting that is most challenging and many parents simply give up.

But just when we think they’re a lost cause, there’s a glimmer of hope. The reality is that they can actually teach us a thing or two. I’m grateful for what mine have taught me. They have far more lessons to learn than to teach, but in a reflective moment, they’ve caught the attention of this student in the classroom of life.

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