A Little Girl, Hiding

NLFCOUPLES

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” 1 Peter 2:9

I see a little girl skipping home from school in the late afternoon sun. Her dress is a hand‐me‐down intended for someone two sizes larger. Her shoes are unpolished, and her socks no longer have elastic around the top. She crosses a barren yard to reach her destination—a small house badly in need of paint and repair.

The walls inside the home are patched with brown butcher paper and paint to conceal where the little girl’s father punched holes with his fist. The father frequently stumbles home in the middle of the night, smelling of alcohol, then wakes the little girl with shouts and threats against her mother. Sometimes the little girl hides from her father.

One day the little girl is driven home from a friend’s birthday party. She asks to be let out in front of a clean house with a well‐manicured lawn. She marches up the driveway and waves good‐bye to her friends— but as soon as the car rounds the corner, she turns and walks several blocks to her real home. She’s learned to hide her disgrace from others; on the inside, however, she feels ashamed, depressed, and worthless.

God, however, blesses the little girl. Her mother’s wisdom and love sustain her. The mother insists that she attend church, where the little girl learns about Jesus and invites Him into her heart and life. When the little girl grows up and goes to college, she falls in love with a man who promises to do his best to make her happy and build her up under God’s direction. And he does.

This story is deeply familiar to me because I was that little girl. Children who grow up in homes where they are loved and appreciated, where discipline and accountability are properly balanced with democracy and openness, develop a healthy sense of self‐worth that usually carries into adulthood. But those of us who didn’t experience this kind of childhood may need an extra dose of understanding from our marital partner. No matter what your spouse’s background is, I pray you’ll provide that support for the little boy or girl you’re married to.

– Shirley M Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Still Learning

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

[The righteous] are always generous and lend freely. Psalm 37:26

We do want to be effective parents. There is so much to teach our kids, and so little time. But as we struggle and strain to bestow wisdom on the next generation, we might also pause to consider how much our children can teach us.

I recall a story by a woman named Elizabeth Cobb about a mother who wanted to show her children how to be more generous. After a tornado had touched down nearby, the mother taped a newspaper picture of a now-homeless family on their refrigerator. The photo included the image of a tiny girl, her eyes wide with confusion and fear. The mother explained this family’s plight to her seven-year-old twin boys and three-year-old daughter, Meghan. Then, as the mother sorted out old clothes, she encouraged her boys to select a few of their least-favorite toys to donate.

While the boys brought out unwanted playthings from their rooms, Meghan slipped quietly into her own room and returned hugging something tightly to her chest. It was Lucy, her faded, frazzled, and much-loved rag doll. Meghan paused in front of a pile of discarded toys, pressed her round little face against Lucy’s for a final kiss, then laid the doll gently on top.

“Oh, honey,” the mother said. “You don’t have to give away Lucy. You love her so much.” Meghan nodded solemnly, eyes glistening with held-back tears. “Lucy makes me happy, Mommy,” she said. “Maybe she’ll make that other little girl happy, too.”

The twins stared openmouthed at their baby sister. Then, as if on cue, they wordlessly walked to their rooms and returned not with castoffs, but with some of their prized toy cars and action figures. The mother, now almost in tears herself, removed a frayed coat from the pile of clothes and replaced it with a just-purchased hunter green jacket. The parent who had wanted to teach her kids about generosity had instead been taught.

Meghan intuitively knew that her beloved rag doll was not hers to keep forever. Though she could not have explained it, she understood the meaning of the Scripture that says, “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand” (Ecclesiastes 5:15). When Meghan realized that another little girl needed Lucy more than she did, she willingly gave up her cherished toy.

God wants us to use our possessions, our wealth, our talents, and our very lives to bring glory to Him. As the apostle Paul says, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion” (2 Corinthians 9:11). As you strive to incorporate that lesson into your family, you might start with the example of your own children.

-Shirley M Dobson

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Illustration adapted from “True Generosity” by Elizabeth Cobb. © 1999.

10 BEST CITIES TO Visit Without an Itinerary

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While there’s a lot to be said for landing in a new destination with a mission to visit all the major attractions, checking off a must-see list is far from the be all and end all of traveling. Often there’s as much satisfaction from arriving without an itinerary. You’ll open yourself up to spontaneity, discover places not listed in guidebooks, have time to slow down and truly get to see the city through the eyes of locals. Whether it’s a world-famous capital or quiet corner, these 10 cities lend themselves to schedule-free travel.

Bristol, England

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In southwest England you’ll find arguably the country’s most independent city, a spot that truly dances to its own beat. Bristol gave the world the graffiti artist Bansky and pioneered the trip hop music genre with bands such as Massive Attack and Portishead. A great part of its beauty is its compact size, which invites you to explore on foot. From the medieval streets of the Old City to the cultural and nightlife attractions of the Harbourside and the affluent lifestyle of Clifton, the city promotes creativity and self-expression throughout.

Denmark

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Enjoy Copenhagen’s fairytale-like setting by doing as the Danes do and get around via miles of bikeways. Although this is the Danish capital, the city maintains a small-town feel. Within minutes of the center you can be crossing bridges to vibrant canal-side neighborhoods such as Islands Brygge. On long summer days locals gather for concerts, markets and picnics in Frederiksberg Have, among other great parks. Bakeries and coffeeshops stand on almost every corner so there’s always somewhere to stop, refuel and find your hygge.

Launceston, Australia

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Those that make it to Tasmania bask in the opportunity to enjoy one of Australia’s oldest and most eye-catching cities. Craft beer and coffee culture flourishes on the downtown streets of Launceston, themselves decorated with beautiful heritage buildings. There’s dozens of design shops and independent galleries, thus plenty on offer for the art conscious. Nature beckons on the city’s doorstep, too, in the form of pristine parks, the North Esk and Tamar rivers and Cataract Gorge Reserve.

Mumbai, India

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Colorful, hectic and infused with a thousand aromas, Mumbai is a quintessential Indian metropolis. Despite gridlocked traffic, this is a comfortable city to discover on foot. Let your senses guide you through the markets of areas such as Colaba, Dharavi and Chor Bazaar. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to find a quiet café set in the shadow of grand colonial landmarks and ancient temples. Tantalize your taste buds with delicious street food and be lured by the call of nightclubs blasting out Bollywood hits and Bhangra beats.

Osaka, Japan

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Osaka is Japan’s third-biggest city, a place where the traditions of ancient cultures blend harmoniously with the fast-paced lifestyles of modern Japan. It’s easy to experience this old-meets-new vibe while wandering aimlessly through atmospheric districts. Take your pick of the mouthwatering restaurants in Dotonbori, Namba and Shineskai. While away hours playing video games at amusement arcades and enjoy a spot of window shopping at neon-lit malls. Then, feel the weight of the world fall from your shoulders at Tennoji Park.

Pokhara, Nepal
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For many, Pokhara is a jumping off point for Himalayan adventures on the Annapurna Trail. However, if trekking is off the agenda then there are few better places in Nepal to relax than this lakeside gem. Wake slowly from your slumber, grab breakfast on the main street and then get tempted by a therapeutic massage. Or simply wander to the shores of Phewa Lake and admire the views of the Annapurna mountains. Should you have the urge for adventure then boating, pong rides, paragliding and rafting trips are easy to arrange.

Rio de Janiero, Brazil

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Sure, the Cidade Maravilhosa has the Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, but you don’t have to be confined to them to have a good time. There’s no need for a schedule when kicking back on the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and sipping caipirinhas at seafront boteco bars. Perhaps you’d prefer to hike to Rio’s iconic statue of Jesus rather than waiting for trains and shuttle buses to depart. See where the night takes you by following the crowds to the bars and street parties of the Lapa neighborhood.

Toronto, Canada

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To uncover the melting pot of cultures that coexist in Toronto you need to move between the city’s many neighborhoods. Hangout at hipster bars and peruse vintage shops in Kensington Market. Try new Asian restaurants daily on Dundas Street West and Spandina Avenue. Ride the tram along Queens Street West and hop off whenever an art gallery, design store or restaurant catches your eye. Choose a neighborhood at random and you’ll likely stumble upon community markets such as Sorauren Farmers’ Market.

Valencia, Spain

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Famed for its Barcelona-like ambience and Mediterranean coastline, the popularity of Valencia is increasing fast. Avoid the inevitable crowds by saying goodbye to the guidebook and top-listed attractions. With endless cobblestone streets and dozens of pretty squares, the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) is perfect for getting lost and discovering boutiques, galleries and taverns. People watch at Plaza Redonda rather than the overcrowded Plaza de la Reina. Dedicate a day to walking the almost 6-mile-long Turia Gardens to the port and beach.

Ventura, USA

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A 90-minute drive west of Los Angeles, Ventura is about as easygoing as it gets in California. Picture a beach of golden sand, great surf and spectacular wildlife and you pretty much have the image. There’s no timetable required for beach walks and coastal hikes. You’ll meet hospitable locals at microbreweries and surfers may even share tips on the best time to ride Surfers Point. Dolphins, sea lions, seals and whales come year-round to the Channel Islands National Park, so come when you want to witness the park’s natural wonders.

From as early as he can remember Bradley was road-tripping across the UK, France and Spain with his family. Since then he’s visited 40-plus countries and lived on four continents. Today he divides his time between Buenos Aires and the beaches of Punta del Este, Uruguay and puts his wanderlust to good use by writing about his travels.