Eric Dishongh, PhD
Connecting others to Jesus and His church as a husband, dad, minister, counselor, professor and friend
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Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
As our nation celebrates the legacy of Dr. King, I've been thinking quite a bit about social justice, particularly in relation to children. Broadly defined, social justice is the idea of creating a society that is based upon the principle of equality, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being.
In an ideal world, parents would be the primary mechanism in which children understand their value and dignity.
Yesterday, I learned something new that my parents did for me right before my freshman year at Destrehan High School. Evidently, my score on a standardized test was preventing me from being enrolled in Honors English. Knowing that my poor performance on a one hour test should not be the sole indicator of my academic opportunities, my parents (particularly my dad's smooth talking as PTA President) successfully pleaded with the administrators to allow me to be enrolled in Honors English. This is just one small example of my parents' willingness and determination to provide the very best for me. Mitzi and I are trying our very best to do the same for Brayden and Breanna.
Unfortunately, though, many children are not as blessed as I am with parents who would do anything for them.
One of my heroes, Jeff Jenkins, recently explained that the home should be the primary refuge of protection for children; however, in many instances, the home becomes the eye of the storm. Some children are caught in the middle of divorcing parents who hate each other. Some children experience abuse and malnourishment. Some children are never taken to the doctor. Some children have parents that could care less about their academic performance. Some children go to church with either one or both parents sitting at home.
These harsh realities in the lives of real children have resulted in me appreciating various efforts more so than ever. I am thankful for my friend, John Dias, and his staff at the United Way of St. Charles who provide children on Friday afternoons backpacks filled with food so that they won't go hungry over the weekend. I am thankful for a lifelong family friend, Charmaine Allesandro, and her staff at the Greater New Orleans Immunization Network who provide shots to children who otherwise would not receive them. I am thankful for my friend, Lauren Lemmon, and other judges who mandate co-parenting after a divorce having the child's best interest in mind. I am thankful for churches that employ youth ministers who focus primarily on the development of faith in the lives of children.
In my opinion, social justice occurs when we unconditionally love all of God's children- red and yellow, black and white- especially when their parents do not.
What do you think?
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Ok, I’m reminiscing…
I’m actually in Alabama this week teaching a class for Amridge University. There’s a football game on the TV tonight between the Crimson Tide and Fighting Irish at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Actually, it’s not much of a game. Alabama just went ahead 35-0, and it’s only the third quarter!
All day, though, I’ve been thinking about three years ago when I really was in Miami at Sun Life Stadium. The scenario was much different. It wasn’t the Alabama Crimson Tide on their way to winning their fifteenth national championship. Rather, it was the New Orleans Saints trying to win their first Super Bowl. They were successful that night defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17!
It took the Saints over forty years to win the Super Bowl!!!
My brother-in-law Thomas and I had seats in the lower, corner end zone. When Tracy Porter intercepted Peyton Manning’s pass in the fourth quarter, he was running right towards us! That ultimately sealed the victory for the Saints. After standing and jumping and cheering some more, I can remember sitting down in my seat trying to “live the moment.”
This may sound cheesy, but here’s the thought that kept racing through my mind at that moment: “If the New Orleans Saints can win the Super Bowl, there is hope left in the world!”
In my work with others, I encourage them to dream about the future. However, people often get stuck from past hurt, and as a result, do not set nor obtain any types of goals for themselves or their families. The past is the past. There’s nothing we can do to change it, but we can learn from it. For the good times, we need to have a sense of gratitude. For the bad times, we need to forgive, move on, and let go. Once we do this, we are then ready to start dreaming about the future.
There is hope in the world. People can and do change. It might take someone over forty years to become a Christian. It might take over forty years for a business to become prosperous. It might take over forty years for your children to appreciate you. It might take over forty years for someone to overcome their addiction.
Hopefully, your goals won’t take that long to come true. Often, we tend to focus on people and things we cannot control. But, if we start focusing on what we can control, we will likely start making progress towards our goals.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
I’m sure that Crimson Tide fans are already hoping for a sixteenth championship next year. I’m certainly hoping for the Saints to win their second Super Bowl. But none of that compares to the hope that Christians have in the future!
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Mitzi and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary! With each anniversary, I find myself reflecting back upon the past year’s highlights and challenges. And, with January 1 always three days later, my New Year’s resolutions tend to center around how I can be a better husband to Mitzi and better dad to our children, Brayden and Breanna.
Throughout out this reflecting, resolving process, I always think about my first day of class at Amridge University in August 2005, four months before our wedding. Dr. Dale Bertram was the instructor for the course “Marriage and Family Therapy in the PhD Setting.” In his first lecture, Dr. Bertram took his wedding ring off, held it in the air, and said something to this effect, “In your work in this doctoral program and in your work with families, don’t lose this!”
I am truly blessed and thankful to God for my wedding ring, as it symbolizes what is most important to me in this life, besides my faith in Christ: my marriage to Mitzi!
My life purpose is to connect others to Jesus and His church by providing a Christian example and by reaching out on spiritual, relational, academic, and community levels. This is accomplished more times than not in some form or fashion through helping people in their marriages. I strongly believe that churches, families, communities and everything else are fully functional when marriages are strong. When marriages fall apart, so does everything else.
So, as I’m resolving to be a better spouse, I’m hoping others will do the same! If I can be of any assistance to you, please let me know. Happy New Year’s to you and your family!