Karen recently watched all five of Katie’s kids by herself (whew!!!!) She has no idea how Katie does it. Karen felt like a mama dog with fourteen hungry pups and only eight nipples.
In the midst of juggling the needs of the kids, Joshua, the youngest boy pleaded with his grandma to wait in the bathroom with him while he did his thing. Now he has no problem going at his own home without supervision, so she asked why his reluctance to fly solo at our house.
“When I shut the door, there’s a lady looking at me,” was his reply. Karen shut the door and Joshy pointed to the plaque I have hanging on the wall, behind the open door. Staring down at him is an early 20th century young woman advertising Coca Cola. I guess he really values his privacy and doesn’t want anyone observing his business.
Aren’t we all a little like Joshua? He’s embarrassed to leave the door open, but also afraid to shut the door and expose himself to that creepy Coca Cola lady. We leave the door to our life open just enough to let others see what we want them to see. Eventually we shut that door to the outside world and hope no one will find out who we really are. But behind all our doors is someone far more dangerous than an ill-advised placement of a Coca Cola plaque.
Satan is behind the door you close to the outside world. He resides in darkness and is behind every evil thought, every evil action and is always all too willing to help you condemn yourself. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:10
God on the other hand never hides behind doors and He doesn’t want you to either. He carefully and lovingly created you, not for you to hide from Him and others because you make a few mistakes. God wants you to be real with Him. King David longed for this kind of relationship with God and wrote about it in Psalm 139: 1-18.
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”
For now Karen and I are going to leave up the picture of the Coca Cola lady in our guest bathroom. Karen was able to share truth with him and he felt better. This situation was just one of many opportunities we will have with our grandchildren to share the love of God. If you haven’t already, open the door to your heart to God today. He’s waiting with open arms.
Today our four year old granddaughter, Brooklyn, was over and we were coloring with markers. She has been introduced to the alphabet by her older sister, Maya, and asked me to write the letter M. I wrote MOM, turned it upside down, and showed her it said WOW. Brooklyn was impressed. Whatever season of life of motherhood you may be in, may you feel WOW–CELEBRATED and LOVED!!!
I didn’t appreciate my mom until I grew up and became one myself. One Mother’s Day, when I was a child, I asked my mom, “Why is there a Mother’s Day and there isn’t a children’s day to celebrate me”? I didn’t like her response then, but it makes me smile today…she said “Everyday is children’s day”.
WOW–what a privilege and responsibility it is to be a MOM. God has entrusted and gifted you in such a way to love, nurture, and raise the children He has blessed you with. Is being a mom easy? Absolutely not. Becoming a mom is a life changer…On the job training, requires multi tasking of various responsibilities which include managing a household, organizing a budget and show casing your culinary expertise (or lack there of).
Whatever season of life and MOM-hood you are in, take time to enjoy! Being a mother is more like a marathon than a sprint! I hope you realize how much God loves you this Mother’s Day. If you are a mother of a preschooler and feel like you are in this season alone, get connected with a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Group. http://www.mops.org/
WOW MOM!!! To each of you Mom’s out there, Happy Mother’s Day or Happy “WOW MOM Day”!
After, I wrote this blog, I found this video clip which hopefully will encourage you and cheer you on.
Do you journal? Some of my friends love to journal recalling the happenings of the day. I like the thought of journaling…I own several, most of which have the first pages filled and the rest blank.
Thinking of what to blog on this week, I picked up two very old journals of mine (from the early 1980’s). I’m not sure where they came from but they mysteriously showed up on my office desk. I felt like I should wash my hands after reading them, not because of the content, but because they looked like they survived the flood of 1990 which devastated our home. They are worn and dirty. I will share my first entry:
I really don’t know how to begin in this book. I keep hesitating writing in it because I’m afraid of failure, I guess. But if I don’t begin writing in it, it will remain empty and so will many of my most frustrating and rewarding moments of motherhood!
I always dreamed of being a mother and a wife and that was my goal in life. Reality hit when I came home with my first child, Katie. Post partum blues hit about the same time I walked in the door with her. A child of my own totally dependent on me for everything–physical needs, material needs, and spiritual needs.
At this time in my life I wasn’t a Christian but the Lord began working in my life with the inadequate feelings I felt after having Katie. Experiencing the miracle of life. Once you have a baby you know there is someone, a God whom helped create the child within. It’s too magnificent for humans to take the credit.
I wanted to nurse Katie but she wouldn’t take to me. I was nervous and in turn she became nervous and it didn’t work out–I gave up, feeling very guilty about it. My doctor stressed the importance of breastfeeding. That too made me feel blue because already I wasn’t the mother I should be.
The day after I came home from the hospital was my birthday. The last thing I wanted was a birthday party. Using it as an excuse to see Katie I had many relatives come over for a “surprise” party. All I wanted was time to sit with Terry and talk about how much I was struggling. That just happened to be the night my milk came in, too. I should have offered everyone “Boobie Juice” at my birthday party!
I really thought everything would come naturally to me–Right?? WRONG! You learn to be a mother. I thought I would automatically know all–WRONG! Mother’s Instinct, Right? Wrong AGAIN!
Then we had Jaymi when Katie was 19 months. Another blessing from the God I did not know. Don’t get me wrong I loved and will always love my girls very very much. My life would be very boring and meaningless without them. Again I tried to nurse. Stuck it out at the hospital and came home and quit. But then I called a neighbor and decided to try again. She came over with her breast pump. I nursed Jaymi for 7 days and quit because of mastitis. Again I felt so guilty about it.
It was boring staying at home, too. I was use to working and being with people. I didn’t feel like having people over because had a hard time keeping the house clean and get the girls in bed. Again, I was searching for the Lord.
Terry and I began attending Camano Chapel when Jaymi was 3 months and Katie, 21 months. The Lord began working in our lives. I knew I wanted my children to be brought up in church and I was beginning to see that my life first had to be an example to my children. I knew they were going to be what I lived. The Lord lead me to our pastor’s wife, Gayle Wayland’s, weight loss class called, “Joy In Discipline” and God began speaking to me. For the first time in my life, I discovered scripture could be applied in my life.
Terry and I accepted Christ as our personal Lord and Savior on September 8, 1982. In February, 1983, I heard on Dr. James Dobson about a program called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I told Terry, “Boy, I could use that program.” So I took down and sent for the information and began praying about it. I had no idea that was of the Holy Spirit and that later I would become the chairman of it.
I’ll never forget the feeling of TOTAL inferior feelings in being chosen as chairman. I was in Pastor Bill’s office with him and Gayle, Judi Seegert and Terry Kirkman. We were trying to select ones to be on the steering. Gayle kicked my foot as the chairman position came up–I was scared to death. But the Lord’s grace is sufficient. It is His strength that pulls you through.
And other than a few “too personal entries” to share, the rest of that journal is blank. Wow, now my three awesome children are grown and married and I’m a Grandma AMA to ten amazing grandchildren. I Praise God for His love and faithfulness to me.
I found one other entry I had written: “At times I feel like I will never be able to get through the day–always something to do. Feed the kids. Now I have Michael who is 9 months. Laundry coming out of my ears and at times, I feel like I don’t even have time to pick my nose. I always seem to be tired–never enough energy, back is always aching and I feel like I’m not accomplishing much. What I’m doing you can’t see the results and I get discouraged very easily.”
If you are a mother of preschoolers, in my opinion, you are in the most challenging season of parenting. Hang in there! Being a mom is the most important job in the world. It is a marathon, not a sprint. I highly recommend you see if there is a MOPS group close to you. If there is, attend it. If there isn’t, you may want to start one! You won’t instantly see the results of your hard work now as a mom, but be encouraged–it’s worth every moment of it.
Isaiah 40:11 “He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”
A few years ago, I woke up one frigid morning with a very sore back. I called my chiropractor and, to my surprise, got his last opening for the day. The only problem was that the appointment was in ten minutes and his clinic was twenty-minutes away.
I hobbled down twelve, slippery stairs, skated to my car, squeezed inside and started the engine. Then I noticed that I couldn’t see out my frozen windshield. By the time I unsuccessfully searched for the ice scraper, the heater had produced a fist-sized hole to peer through. I shoved the car into gear and let out the clutch. I lurched ahead and ran smack dab into the basketball pole cemented into the side of our driveway, shattering the flimsy plastic grill and pushing the wheel well into my front left tire.
Many things in life, if rushed, can end badly.
Eating ice cream too fast will result in brain freeze.
Speeding through your driving test will find you riding shotgun for a while longer.
Taking on your teenage grandson in a footrace can land you in the ER.
Telling your hair-stylist you are in a hurry will give you a bad hair day, most likely for many days to come.
Rushing to conclusions can result in either egg on face or foot in mouth disease.
And rushing your toddler through the terrible twos.
Depending on the child, the terrible twos can stretch into the terrible threes, fours and fives. So what’s so bad about this age? What has led parents to bestow upon it the nickname “terrible”?
In their book Raising Great Kids, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend said, “One parent described adolescence as the terrible two’s all over again, but this time in a bigger body. We personally don’t see either time period as “terrible,” but each one can be a time full of difficulty if you don’t recognize the important stage of independence, separateness and autonomy that a child is going through. In the “twos,” toddlers are moving away from the early dependency of infancy.
In his book Parenting Isn’t For Cowards, James Dobson specifically discusses the challenges of raising children. In the following excerpt, he tells a story about a strong-willed, three-year old neighbor.
“In the early 1970’s I had the privilege of living near one of these little spitfires. He was thirty-six months old at the time and had already bewildered and overwhelmed his mother. The contest of wills was over. He had won it. His sassy talk was legendary in the neighborhood, not only to his mother but to anyone who got in his way. Then one day my wife saw him ride his tricycle down the driveway and into the street, which panicked his mother. We lived on a curve and the cars came around that bend at high-speed. Mom rushed out of the house and caught up with her son as he pedaled down the street. She took hold of his handlebars to redirect him, and he came unglued.
‘Get your dirty hands off my tricycle!’ he screamed. His eyes were squinted in fury. As Shirley (Dr. Dobson’s wife) watched in disbelief, this woman did as she was told. The life of her child was in danger, and yet this mother did not have the courage to confront him. He continued to ride down the street and she could only stand and watch.
How could it be that a tiny little boy at three-years of age could buffalo this thirty-year-old mother in this way? Well, it was clear to any observer that she had no idea how to manage him.”
I acknowledge the above case is extreme, but how do we best manage our preschoolers? As crazy as it seems, this is the age when you begin the process of teaching your children to live on their own. Parenting is the only relationship where we prepare the recipient of this special connectedness to leave the relationship as they know it. This is a command from God.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31
While this might be the last thing on the minds of parents with toddlers, couples (or single parents) need to begin this process of separation early. Otherwise they may find themselves buffaloed like the mother of that foul-mouthed three-year-old. And if not corrected, that three-year-old will grown into a disrespectful, irresponsible, and unloving adult.
As with the rest of my articles on becoming a hero to your children, much of what they learn is through observing your behavior, attitudes and actions. Before they begin to attend school is the age where you have the most influence on them. This is the age when the cement for a solid foundation of character development is poured. Drs. Townsend and Cloud list six main attributes of character building. After each attribute I will give an explanation defining each term:
Attachment: The ability to form positive relationships. Your children will watch how you interact with your friends, your spouse, with them and with God. Are you kind? Do you show empathy toward others? Are you patient? Are you happy around the people in your life? These are the things your preschoolers are observing.
Responsibility: Parents bear the responsibility for their children’s basic needs. Parents are also responsible to help shape their character. It will be shaped, either positively or negatively. You can only “help to shape” their character though. Children are born with a mind of their own. As the toddler slams the door on the infant stage, they let you know they are now in control. This is where parents “help shape” their character by beginning to teach them that there are rules to follow, not only in your home but in the world they are just discovering for themselves. They need to learn that if they break a rule there are consequences. Again, they learn this by observation and also by experience.
Reality: This is where your child learns that the world doesn’t revolve around him or her. Preschoolers also begin to experience pain not caused by a rumbling tummy or an earache. He will experience pain affiliated with disobedience, the frustration that comes with learning new things, sharing, correction, and discovering that adults aren’t always right or even kind at times.
Competence: As parents, it is our job to give our toddlers a wide variety of learning opportunities. On the following Australian parenting website, It is universally accepted and explained that “In the first five years of life, your child’s brain develops more and faster than at any other time in his life. The early experiences your child has – the things he sees, hears, touches, smells and tastes – stimulate his brain, creating millions of connections. This is when foundations for learning, health and behaviour throughout life are laid down.” http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/child_development.html
Conscience: Children aren’t born knowing right from wrong…they are sinners from birth…it’s hardwired into their inner being. Psalm 51:5 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived in me.” Pastor and Author, John MacArthur describes it this way. “The conscience is a built-in warning system that signals us when something we have done is wrong. The conscience is to our souls what pain sensors are to our bodies; it inflicts distress, in the form of guilt, whenever we violate what our hearts tell us is right.” So how do our children develop a Godly value system to serve as a compass for our conscience? You guessed it…it is by what is taught and more importantly what they observe, primarily from their parents.
Worship: Preschoolers are sponges soaking up everything around them. You may have noticed this when a naughty word, which slipped out of your mouth, was proudly repeated to Grandma by your preschooler. Use this time to also help develop an awareness of God to them. Include God in every aspect of conversation you have while showing your child God’s wonderful creation. Deuteronomy 11:19 says, “Teach them (God’s words) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
As parents and grandparents, God has entrusted you as stewards of one of His most precious gifts…the gift of a new life to raise for Him. This relationship is filled with many challenges but also offers opportunities unlike any other relationship you will ever have.
You are a lighthouse, warning your children and grandchildren of the many perils they will encounter as they sail along life’s seas.
You are their shepherd, supplying all their needs.
You are their general contractor, responsible for the construction of their lives. You provide the material, labor and equipment needed to see the job through until completion.
You are their guidance counselor, making sure they stay on track.
You are their hero…their role model. The best role model you can be is when your child looks at you and sees Jesus modeled through you.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us….” Ephesians 5: 1-2
So just as a person doesn’t want to rush into marriage, rush the nurse inserting a needle into your arm, or rush to the gym after a big meal, let’s not rush our children through the early years. Take time to nurture this unique relationship. Rushing your preschooler through this critical time of inserting your morals and values could leave a scar. They need time to properly digest every new morsel of information they receive.
I hope you all had a wonderful day last Thursday. I hope you were with friends and family, eating a tasty meal, and finding many things to be thankful for. If you read my Thanksgiving blog post, you probably know that family and friends are high on my “thankful for” list. God is at the top of that list with my family close behind.
Did you know though, that a mom or dad can truly believe they make parenting a top priority in their lives but can still not provide what’s best? How can a parent “miss the mark” when they make it a top priority? Well, it depends on the perspective of who is answering this question.
Today, I’m going to address this question from the perspective of parents with infants who want to be great parents. In next weeks blog post I’ll cover this topic from the perspective of parents with elementary school aged children.
For the above mentioned mothers and fathers, we know their perspective; they believe they are doing what is necessary to make their children their top priority:
The parents decide to bottle feed so both the mother and father can bond with their baby.
They buy only the most expensive diapers on the market. Those provide the greatest comfort for their baby when they can’t change her right away.
It isn’t realistic to be expected to hold their baby every time he fusses. These parents provide a pacifier so their infant won’t wear himself out crying.
They provide their child with plenty of brain stimulation by letting her watch educational shows such as Baby Einstein and Sesame Street.
The parents sing and talk often to their baby.
So from accomplishing even most of the things on this list, can a parent feel assured that he or she is making their children a top priority? What if you asked their child? What would he or she say?
Infants, of course, won’t be able to voice their opinion on this topic…or can they? Babies are experts at expressing their needs. Every time they cry and every time they coo and smile, they are letting you know how they feel.
Every baby is an individual. As they grow, each will develop their unique personalities based on genetic and environmental factors. The genetic factors are out of a parent’s control. Parents though can have a very big impact on many of the environmental factors which play a pivotal role in their infants development.
While everything on the above list is good, the biggest positive impact a parent can have on their child’s early development is through the act of physical contact and by providing plenty of it. There have been countless studies on the effect of human touch with infants.
Dr. Allen Green, is a prominent pediatrician, who has authored two books on the care of infants and has appeared on various nationally syndicated programs such as: the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, and the Dr. Oz Show. In an article he wrote titled: Touch is as Important to Infant Health as Eating and Sleeping, he says, “Still question whether touch is as important as eating and sleeping? Consider one more landmark study.
In the 1960s, Dr. Harry Harlow separated infant monkeys from theirmothers at six to twelve hours after birth and substituted “surrogate” mothers made either of heavy wire mesh or of wood covered with cloth. Both mothers were the same size, but the wire mother had no soft surfaces and was equipped with a bottle from which the baby could “nurse” while the other mother was cuddly, covered with foam rubber and soft terry cloth, but had no food. Despite the fact that only one surrogate mother could feed them, the infants still spent more time cuddling with the cloth mother. (They also found that the monkeys“raised” by wire mesh moms were very aggressive as adults.) These results led researchers to believe closeness and affection are as imperative to healthy development as food.
In today’s busy world, it’s all-too-common for parents to give a child a pacifier or put them in front of a video screen to keep them calm and quiet. But, those convenient moments of calm may be having subtle impacts on your child’s development. Take time to slow down. Take time to touch. Take time to cuddle. They aren’t babies for long and your investment of time and touch is a priceless investment in their health and well-being.”
While there are many positive things you can do for your infant, don’t underestimate the act which will provide the biggest impact on the development of your child or grandchild…physical touch and better yet skin to skin contact. Your children may not be able to say, “Thank you,” yet, but because of the loving contact you give them now and throughout their lives, they will have plenty of time to say “Thank you” for the rest of your life.
There’s nothing so rewarding and peaceful than rocking a baby to sleep.
Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is around the corner. Terry and I (DESIRE TO INSPIRE) are eager to participate in this year’s 4th Annual Holiday Craft & Gift Fair. It will be on Saturday, December 3, at the Stanwood Middle School from 10-4pm.
If you are able to drop by, please come up and say hello. We will be selling our books, Chews Jesus mugs, remember rocks and selling some treats for the holidays.
Terry has been exploring his creative side and I am truly impressed. He has been busy painting remember rocks and making some sweet treats. Consequently, 0ur home looks like the North Pole after a hurricane hit it, but let’s call it “Creative Clutter”!
Today I’m sharing with you the story behind my book, BECAUSE GOD SAID “You Are Very Special“:
Our oldest daughter, Katie and her husband, Jason, and family were called to their first church as pastor. The church was nearby in the town of Mount Vernon, Washington. Terry and I wanted to be supportive of them, so we attended Jason’s first Sunday as pastor. He preached from Genesis 1…the story of Creation.
As Jason was preaching, I became aware of how powerful God’s Word is; God spoke and it was so. As I was listening, I became burdened to share with children the truth of God’s Word. What a changed world we would have if every child knew (really knew) the truth of God’s Word. If they knew deep in their soul they were intimately loved and known by their Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I went home from that sermon and began to write from Genesis 1 and Psalm 139. That was the birthing of my book, “BECAUSE GOD SAID” You Are Very Special“. Psalm 139 is my favorite psalm. I am in awe of God! His Word is powerful– He spoke creation into existence. And yet, He longs to have a relationship with us. He knows and loves us intimately.
I believe this book will touch the heart of every child. When I read it to my elderly mom, the first time she cried. It deeply touched her heart. I pray the simple truth of God’s Word through this book will be planted in the heart of every child; young and old alike.
Sadie Clem, the illustrator, was sixteen when she took on the challenge of bringing this book to life. Sadie did a beautiful job. Her colorful illustrations engage and captivate each child’s attention throughout the whole book. A cute little frog is hidden on each page. Maya, my granddaughter, named him “Froggy McButterpants”. Children love searching for Froggy McButterpants!
This book makes a great gift for a MOPPET Department, a church nursery, a grandma and grandpa, a baby shower gift, etc. BECAUSE GOD SAID, “You Are Very Special” can be ordered through Amazon. Or stop by on Saturday at the Craft Bazaar and get a signed copy or two from me.
Have a great week. Open up the Bible and read Psalm 139. It may become your favorite psalm, too! God Bless!
I love going to church on Sunday mornings and worshipping my God. I also love watching my Seattle Seahawks play football. Because of those two loves, I’m overjoyed and thankful for the invention of the DVR.
Back in the stone age, before the DVR was invented, I often had a difficult decision to make. The television broadcast of all the Seahawk home games start shortly after 1pm Pacific Standard Time (unless they play on Monday or Thursday night….then it’s usually 5:30pm). But when they play on the road, games can start as early as 10am. I found myself in a pickle regarding these early, Sunday morning games. Would I be spiritual, go to church, and miss the beginning of the Seahawk game? Or would I be like the heathens, stay home, and miss out on worshipping God with my fellow believers?
Then one glorious day, Karen and I saw the light. We switched watching television from an antennae feed to receiving it via satellite. From that point on, I no longer had to choose between my two loves. I could now ease my burden of guilt and attend church on Sunday mornings with the knowledge that, because of my DVR machine, I would never again miss a single pass, interception or bone-crunching hit. I could even skip through all the commercials….hallelujah!!!
In reality, all the DVR did was give me the opportunity to avoid making a commitment. I now didn’t have to choose what part of my life I would make a bigger priority….worshipping God, together with my church family, or cheering on Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks from the comfort of my favorite recliner.
As parents and grandparents, we face a similar dilemma. Most of us know in our hearts what is most important….our family. The brain though works quite differently from our heart both functionally and figuratively. The three pounds of gray matter between our ears is really a super computer and as we know, computers deal with problems logically.
So our heart and our mind are often in conflict with each other. As parents, these types of conflict show up regularly. For example, many men have their egos and self-esteem directly tied to their careers. Therefore a father’s (and sometimes even a mother’s) career appear to be a higher priority than their family. In this instance a parent who comes home after a long day at work may find himself confronted by an angry spouse and children who need their father. To avoid making a commitment, he will find something to shift the focus away from having to make a choice.
He may barricade himself in his shop to work on projects.
He says he needs some space, so he crawls into his man-cave and hibernates all evening in front of the television.
To be able to unwind, he spends much of his free time hunting, fishing or playing golf with his buddies.
Another example of a parent who struggles with prioritizing is a person battling addiction. A woman trying to cope with alcoholism and being a nurturing, responsible mother is in constant conflict. Her heart breaks when she drinks too much and misses her child’s ball game, forgets to pick up her son at school, or constantly argues with her husband, about her addiction, in front of their children. Her mind will come up with many reasons to avoid having to choose between her family and her addiction.
In an interview with People Magazine, Elizabeth Vargas, the ABC 20/20 journalist talks about the inner fight raging inside her. She admits to dropping the ball as she attempts to juggle her priorities of being a wife, mother and an alcoholic.
“Rehab isn’t what finally got me sober. It was nearly losing everything and finally seeing that whatever benefit I thought alcohol gave me was outweighed by what it would cost me.”
She recalls celebrating her son’s 8th birthday after a separation from her husband. While her intention was to have a fun evening making her son feeling special, the evening ended up with her in a detox center.
“(Alcoholism) is not a matter of self-discipline. It’s not even a character flaw. I would not hesitate for a nanosecond to step in front of a bullet, to do anything to give my life for my children,” she said, “I would kill for my children. And I couldn’t stop drinking for my children.”
Whether it is a parent who works long hours; a parent who struggles with alcoholism; or a father trying to be a good role model but chooses to stay home on Sunday mornings to watch a football game over going to church; this world offers many distractions which can cause us to lose focus on how we prioritize our life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to condemn someone who has to work long hours to pay their bills. I’m not judging a person who has an addictive disease. I will never stop cheering for my Seahawks. But what I am saying is this: Is there something in your life which is interfering with your ability to be the best parent and spouse you can be? If so, do you acknowledge this is a problem which needs to be dealt with? Or do you have a “DVR” in your mind, recording the ways to rationalize away the need to make your family the highest priority behind your relationship with God?
When you allow something else to gain equal access to your family, your heart is divided. As you try to serve both your family and your other desire, one will eventually rule over the other.
Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other….”
The key is making God your highest priority. Once that is in place, the rest of your life will begin to line up like a row of dominos. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect though. At times we will clumsily knock over a domino. The trick is to bring this action to God and together you can stop the one domino from starting a chain-reaction and knocking away all the progress you have made.
Psalm 103: 13-14 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear (show reverence to) Him; for He knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust.
We all struggle from time to time choosing to make the right decisions regarding the priorities in our lives. Let’s remember what our most valuable treasures are. On earth it is our family but God, like an umbrella, needs to cover every aspect of our lives.
“Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” Luke 12: 34
Three weeks ago I went in for my DOT physical to get recertified to drive school bus. Everything looked good. I read the small print toward the bottom of the eye chart, my blood pressure was down and I could walk and chew gum at the same time. I was daydreaming about my larger paychecks this year when the doctor threw a bucket of ice-cold water over me. Because of my stroke, he would not recertify me for at least one year. In an instant my world turned upside down.
It was time for an attitude check. When I flexed my trust muscle with God, would it droop limply like a soggy noodle, or would it imitate a body builder’s bicep and erupt like Mt. Saint Helens? Would I become angry and bitter, or would I turn to God and become better?
In my last post, http://desiretoinspire.life/parental-motto-wear-gods-armor/ I talked about the challenges parents encounter in the face of conflicting ideas from professionals on how to raise their children. Also, many grandparents find themselves either raising their grandchildren or wondering how to be the best support system for their adult children who have kids of their own.
My advice was to, “Put on the full armor of God…so you can resist the enemy whenever he attacks.” (Ephesians 6) Paul tells Christians to prepare, because it isn’t a matter of ‘if’ they will come under spiritual attack but ‘when’. He is warning them and us to be ready.
So every day you do your best to faithfully submit your family over to God. But, as a parent or grandparent, what happens when life throws you a curveball? What is your reaction when Satan unleashes the full wrath of the hounds from hell upon you and your family? How would your attitude be towards God if:
You have an uncontrollable, intolerable, strong-willed three-year old who won’t behave no matter how much you pray, reason with, spank, give timeouts, threaten, and pray some more.
The doctor gives a diagnoses for your nine-year old’s neck pain as Leukemia.
You receive a phone call saying that your teenager, while high on drugs and alcohol, ran a stop sign and killed another driver.
Your son is arrested on rape charges while away at college.
You find your sixteen-year old granddaughter unconscious, on the bathroom floor. An empty bottle of your sleeping pills lie beside her on the floor.
As parents, our job is to prepare our children to grow up to be responsible, independent and caring adults. Ultimately though, your children bear the responsibility to accumulate the teaching they have received and apply it to their lives. So what’s the best way we can prepare them?
My son-in-law, Matt, was asked to coach 7th grade boys basketball and he asked me to help him. I love basketball and coaching so I accepted his offer. Seventeen boys tried out to make the twelve-man roster. While we decided not to cut any of the kids, we made it clear that the bottom five players would not receive much playing time.
So for three days Matt and I taught the kids the proper way to shoot, dribble, pass and rebound. We explained the importance of teamwork, hustle and a positive attitude. At the end of the third practice, we took each boy aside and told him if they made the top twelve.
During this process it was important that Matt and I were prepared. It was our job to know the proper way to instruct the boys on how to shoot, dribble, pass and rebound the basketball. We had to model the proper technique for the kids to imitate. If we had displayed a lackadaisical attitude in our coaching, how could we expect anything more from our players?
I was pleased with each boys good attitude. They all took full responsibility for their position on the team. Does it always turn out this way…no, not always. But it sure is nice when it does.
The same principles apply to our parenting. Just as a coach’s job is to prepare his players so they have the best opportunity to win each game, it’s our job as parents to prepare our children to have the best opportunity to succeed as adults in the game of life. Your job description includes:
Developing a Godly Character: Examples of this is found in Galatians 5:22, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Valuing Relationship: The heart of God is relationship. He created us for relationship with Him and with each other. After Adam and Eve sinned, a barrier was placed between God’s relationship toward man. God considered His relationship with man to be so valuable, He allowed His only son to die for our sins so that this important relationship could be restored. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind…and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” Matthew 22: 37-39
Acknowledging Responsibility: Responsibility is understanding that only you are accountable for your own actions. This main ingredient of maturity leads to self-control, confidence from making good decisions, and the freedom to say no to bad decisions.
Accepting of the Realities of this World: Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows…” This world is a harsh place to live. If you don’t believe me, sit down in front of your T.V. and turn on the local and world news. What is your attitude toward the truth spewed out from the worlds point of view. But Jesus ended his above statement with, “…but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Showing Grace: Grace is showing mercy and kindness to others when they don’t deserve it. God is our ultimate role-model for grace. Romans 5:20-21 says, “The Ten Commandments were given so that all could see the extent of their failure to obey God’s laws. But the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace forgiving us. Before, sin ruled over all men (women and children) and brought them to death, but now God’s kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Did you notice that your job description doesn’t involve you telling your children about these principles. These five principles are meant for the parents and grandparents. The best way to prepare our children for adulthood is to model these principles themselves.
To be a hero to all children, let us heed the advice given to us by Jesus’ brother. “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 Amen!
A while back I saw a cartoon on the Internet. It depicted a elementary school age boy sitting on the floor, his face only a few feet from the television screen. You can see the boy’s father in another room through an open door. The father’s face is inches from his computer screen. He turns toward his son. While squinting through Coke bottle glasses he warns the boy, “Don’t sit so close to the T.V.; it will ruin your eyesight.” The caption above the cartoon said, Do As I Say, Not As I Do. Unfortunately, this is the unwritten motto of too many parents.
It’s hard work being a parent. Every year, your list of parenting responsibilities grow faster than your kid’s growing bodies. It’s even harder trying to be a perfect role model for your kids. But within this statement lies the dilemma. No one is perfect. Many parents desire perfection but know all too well how hard it is (impossible) toattain.
During times of frustration we often scream threats and insults at our misbehaving children such as, “Just wait ’til your father gets home!” and “I hope someday, when you are a parent, God gives you a little monster just like you!” Sometimes out of anger, we slap, push, poke and even curse our children. We use our power and intimidation to control our kids. This leads to our children feeling afraid, confused, angry and sad. Many will either rebel or withdraw into themselves.
Then there are those at the other end of the parenting spectrum – permissive parents. These are couples or single parents who, because of low self-esteem, passive personalities, burnout, or from borrowing their own parent’s permissive style of raising them don’t believe in any form of power or intimidation to discipline their children.
In her book, Breakthrough Parenting, Jayne A. Major, Ph.D. writes the following about permissive parenting: “The assumption here is that when a child is ready, he or she will take charge. This approach assumes that, if left to figure things out by themselves, children will naturally find their way….Parents were told to allow children to decide how to behave and to let them learn from the consequences of their actions. Permissive parenting rarely succeeds for the simple reason that few children are naturally self-directing. Children need routines, structure, predictability and boundaries, and they do not naturally come up with these themselves.”
So, is there a middle ground of parenting that works using Godly principles? Yes, but there is a principle at work which we must first come to grips with. Even when we understand the need and have the desire to be the best role model for our children, sin is still at work inside us.
The apostle Paul also struggled with imperfection. In Romans 7 he says, “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t.I do what I don’t want to – what I hate….It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin….Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in!”
This is why being a parent is so challenging. Not only do we fall short in our parenting skills, but in many other facets of our lives. On top of that, our children are born into this world with the same sin nature, contrary to what Dr. Spock and other child psychologists have taught over the years.
So what is a parent to do? If the apostle Paul struggled with his sin nature, what chance do I have to become a Godly role model for my children? My answer to that is this: It all comes down to our attitude toward submission to God.
Will you throw up your hands in the face of parental adversity and take the easy way out? Will you tell your children and grandchildren, “Do as I say, not as I do?” Or will you wake up every morning and face each day confidently knowing you don’t have to face it alone. We can overcome our weaknesses. God doesn’t expect perfection as our lives transform into His likeness. He only asks for our submission so He can work within us. It’s only then that we can begin the process of becoming Godly role models for our children and grandchildren.
The apostle Paul gives us encouragement by saying, “Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you.Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies – the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.”
So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God’s approval. Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-17
Are you relying on God or relying on your own strength to raise your children?
How long has it been since you had a vision or goal worthy enough to put a lot of thought into? Maybe it was coming up with a plan on how to earn enough money to buy your first car. Maybe it was planning your dream wedding. Maybe you always wanted to be a doctor, fireman, policeman or teacher. You made plans to achieve your career goals.
Putting together a well, thought out plan to achieve your goals is a smart move. Now what if I told you there was a goal more exciting, more precious, more valuable, to plan for than any of the examples above…but much more challenging. It’s the same challenge your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had. For your parents, this great challenge was…raising you.
For most of our parents and grandparents, who are eighty-five and older, there wasn’t a lot of manuals out there on how to raise children. They did their best with what they had…the parenting style modeled by their own parents and grandparents. For the majority of parents, this model involved using physical and verbal punishment for discipline.
Then in 1946, Dr. Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book On Baby and Child Care was published. His views were deemed radical at the time. He was against spanking and believed children were individuals who needed to be treated with both love and respect. In the late 1960’s, Dr. Spock and his teachings were highly criticized. The generation of anti-Vietnam war protesters and draft dodgers were viewed as rebellious and disrespectful to authority by many conservative minded people. Because of his own participation in this movement, he and his book were used as a scapegoat for bringing up two generations of children who lacked understanding of responsibility and respect.
In 1970, Christian psychologist Dr. James Dobson wrote a book titled Dare to Discipline, taking a contradictory position to Dr. Spock’s. Dr. Dobson takes the teachings of the Bible literally, meaning that the words in the Bible are “God breathed”, written by men under the direct influence of God. He believes the Bible instructs parents to use corporal punishment when disciplining children up to the age of eight and under clear guidelines. He also came under fire from “progressive thinkers” for turning back the clock on parenting practices to a time when advocating violence and abuse toward children was the norm instead of the exception.
So who’s right?
Karen and I were raised by parents who had very different parenting styles. As far as I know, Karen’s parents never read Dr. Spock’s book but they raised her as if they had. Karen was never spanked. (She will tell you, “that’s because I was always a good girl” 🙂
I was raised by parents who weren’t afraid to give spankings when they felt it was necessary. I received my fair share of swats but I don’t want you to make any assumptions or judge me because of Karen’s comment.
When Karen and I were blessed with Katie in 1980 and Jaymi in 1981, we quickly realized there was much more to raising children than just agreeing on how to discipline them. (Which, of course, we didn’t agree on at first). We stressed over whether to put our infants on their tummies or on their backs to sleep. We wondered if it was okay for our daughters to play with guns and our son Michael to play with dolls. (Unfortunately, he didn’t have much choice while living with two older sisters). What’s the best diet for the kid’s? Do you pick them up every time they cry or let them cry once in a while?
Then Karen and I received Jesus into our lives to be our Lord and Savior on September 8, 1982. We were born again and our lives would never be the same. While the joy we felt in receiving this “good news” was wonderful, our new found faith in God put an extra layer of pressure on us as parents. As “baby” Christians we hadn’t fully, or even closely, come to understand God’s grace in our lives. We unfortunately heaped false guilt on ourselves for how imperfect we were as parents. Karen especially carried this burden.
We started comparing ourselves to other Christian parents and wondered how we would ever measure up. Then God brought three things into our lives which would tip the scales to a positive and better understanding of how God sees our role as parents.
While our two crying pre-school daughters clung to Karen, we both listened to Dr. James Dobson interview Linda Bruce. She was describing a fairly new program for mothers with pre-school-aged children called MOPS. As she described the benefits for moms by joining a MOPS group, I told Karen she should talk to our pastor about getting a group started at our church. The whole story is a long one which would best devoted to a separate article so I will give you the Reader’s Digest version for today. Karen did talk to our pastor; MOPS began at Camano Chapel in 1983; Karen assumed a leadership position and later we both travelled to churches around the Pacific Northwest sharing the positive impact MOPS was having in the lives of families.
In the mid 1980’s, Camano Chapel showed a film series by Dr. Dobson called, Turn Your Heart Toward Home. We were so impressed that we bought his highly successful book, Dare to Discipline. This book and others by Dr. Dobson gave Karen and I direction and confidence in our parenting skills.
While Dr. Dobson’s books were giving us tools to deal with disciplining our children, I believed there was still something missing. A few years after watching Dr. Dobson’s film series, Karen and I took an adult Sunday school class. The book we were studying was titled, Lord, Change Me by Evelyn Christenson. My “aha” moment came while I began to read the book days before the class even started
Evelyn Christenson wrote, “I have discovered through the years that surprising things happen when I pray, ‘Lord, change me–don’t change my husband, don’t change my children, don’t change my pastor, change me!, . . . More and more the fact comes into focus that they, and not I, are responsible before God for their actions. But I am responsible for the changes that need to be made in me.”
And there it was. It wasn’t by Karen or I exerting the strength of our will on our children using techniques set forth in books written by human hands. Dr. Dobson gave us Godly tools to help us mold and shape our children’s behavior but that wasn’t enough. Children learn best by observing, not by being told what to do.
It’s only when we submit our lives fully to God that we can change. Then by the knowledge of His Word and the power of His grace we can change from the inside out. It’s when the light of Christ shines through us that we can have the biggest, most positive influence on others, including our children and grandchildren.
Do you want to be a Godly role model for your family? Romans 12: 1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you brothers (fathers and grandfathers), in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
And what is a transformed life? Transformation is not an end result we will see while we live on this earth…it is a process. We will not be fully transformed until we die and stand before Jesus with our resurrected bodies.
During this transformation though, you can tell your children what Paul told the people of Corinth. In 1Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Are you ready to undergo the transformation required to become that Godly hero to your family?
Are you teaching your children and grandchildren by telling them what to do or are mostly teaching by example?