Thursday, October 30, 2014

Heavenly Mothers are Watchful-Day 30

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" Ephesians 6:18

I spent the early years of my life on a lovely farm in Canada. We five children were free to roam the surrounding fields and woods, and we concocted many wonderful games, everything from constructing a kitty city, which sadly the kittens never seemed to want to live in, to building homes out of hay bales (my adult mind can't figure out how a bunch of kids moved hay bales around to become a house, but I am sure we did it.)

One event marred this idyllic childhood, and sadly it is the same thing that happens to approximately 1 in 10 children.

When something like this happens to a child, the effects are numerous, it is easy to find statistic after statistic of the trauma that it causes to children, trauma that often carries into adulthood.
Much of the fear that this event caused me has dissolved in the light of Christ's love and grace, but because I know how traumatic this kind of violation is to a child, I am watchful over my own children. 

Part of this watchfulness simply involves praying for their safety and protection. 

Another part of it is following wise guidelines of who I leave my children with, especially those who are too young to safely express themselves or not confident enough to get out of a dangerous situation.

Part of this watchfulness involves using a buddy system.

Part of it is instructing children while they are young about how to protect themselves. 

This is an area of information that I would really like to stay out of. It is dark and painful, even reading about recent events in this area is uncomfortable. Hence, my writing this whole post in, as Megamind would put it, "Code, this is an ugly topic, code."

However, it is an important part of heavenly mothering. Helping your children reach adulthood without the mental scars of having their innocence stolen is very important.

God is good. In my case, before the perpetrator had gone very far, a door clicked and the incident was interrupted. Even with the interruption, I was traumatized, but God protected me from a worse outcome and has been healing the scars ever since. 

Life involves trauma sometimes and we may not be able to avoid all of it, but being aware and watchful of who our children are with, and praying for their safety and protection is an essential part of being a mother.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Heavenly Mothers are Armed and Dangerous-Day 29

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" Ephesians 6:17

The sword of the spirit. It sounds like a powerful weapon, and it is. Although, it is the Holy Spirit who give us the grace to obey the Word of God and to understand it, it is hard to understand or obey something that you haven't even read.

I am one of the worst offenders in this area. My bible is not well marked because I would often rather read a book about the Bible or the Christian life than to actually open the source myself and soak it in. 

I try to quote verses when counseling with people, and way too often, end up with some off-the-wall paraphrase. I know what I meant, but do the people I am talking to get it?

The word of God is powerful though, and we need to know it to be able to partake of its power. Knowing God's word helps us to stay encouraged when times are tough, it helps us to believe the best about our children when they disappoint us, and it helps us to agape love our husbands when we would rather leave.

Some of the ways that we do put a priority on the Word of God in our home is by assigning monthly chapters to read as a family, memorizing key verses, and reading the Bible aloud as part of our schooling. We also assign Bible copy work with the children, I just need to get more consistent than my kids in this area!

It is a blessing to feel close to God, to go to a church service and be moved by His presence. What, though will keep us faithful during the dry times of our Christian walk? What will keep us pressing in to the pleasure of God that we have experienced in the past? When our feelings fail us, we can stand on the truth of God's word, and use the truth as a powerful weapon against unbelief and discouragement.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Heavenly Homes are Peaceful

"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" Ephesians 6:15

"And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. The Gospel is so called, because it makes men to be of peaceable tempers and behaviour, and gives peace to distressed minds: it directs the way to eternal peace, and publishes peace made by the blood of Christ;" 
Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible

We have peace with God. This should affect the way we live. It should give us the power to stay calm in the midst of chaos. It should give us freedom from fear.

Sometimes though, we clutter up our lives with activities and stuff that steal our peace. Too much television, too many activities, too many loud and obnoxious battery operated toys.

As you pursue a peaceful home, maybe there are things to eliminate. Maybe there are other things which you could add in order to create a more peaceful atmosphere.

Instead of video games, have your children play with power point and paint programs to create scripture art or other encouraging images.

Instead of television, play an audio book or worship music.

Instead of workbooks, have your children copy poetry and paint illustrations for their written work.

Instead of cereal infused with hyperactivity causing red dye #40, try hot oatmeal with cinnamon, milk, and honey.

Instead of sitting in a dark house, take the schoolwork outside.

Instead of battery operated noisemakers, give your children measuring cups, some water to pour, and a towel.

Instead of no structure, gentle routines.

I pray that you are blessed with many ideas for establishing a peaceful and creative home.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Heavenly Mothers Obey-Day 27

 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Philippians 2:5-13

Life is interesting. As a family, we spent much of our early years living in fear of judgement and trying to maintain righteousness in our own strength. We tried to obey what the Bible said, and lived fearful of losing our salvation if we made a mistake. 

We tried so hard to be good, but finally we came to a crisis with one of our children and with some of our own persistent failings. We came to a point where we had to believe that we cannot be separated from the Love of God. It was our only hope. We cared so much and we were trying so hard, but we still made mistakes. What a relief it was to realize that it is not at all about our righteousness but about being clothed with the righteousness of Christ. 
We knew we were transgressors, despite our best efforts, and we were overjoyed that God, while we were transgressors, loved us, and paid the price for our Salvation. 
Our love for God and gratefulness at what He has done for us has a similar effect on our behavior as the fear of judgement had, although our motives and feelings about obedience are totally different. 
We still avoid movies that seem to contradict Kingdom values, because we love our King too much to contaminate the clean life that He has given us.
We still go to church and serve in a local body, not out of fear of losing our salvation, but because we are so excited about the opportunity to worship God.

We still try to teach our children to obey us, because it is only through knowing the rules, and then realizing that we can never keep them in our own strength that we can experience the grace of God.
Children who are raised with no rules, by parents who think that is the way to show grace, are missing the narrative of scripture. If the Israelites had not known the law, and known they were lawbreakers, they would never have recognized the mercy and grace of God. 
The Psalms would never say, 'For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." (Ps. 86:5), if the Psalmist wasn't aware that he had transgressed the law.
This concept translates to our children. If we do not lovingly provide boundaries to our children and give guidance and structure to their days, with loving consequences for transgressing the boundaries, then they can never fully experience the grace and mercy of God. If boundaries and rules are nonexistent in your home, and your children are never required to obey you, then how will they be prepared to obey God and how will they understand His grace?
I am so glad that we have been set free from a behavioristic, man pleasing parenting philosophy. This philosophy kept me under pressure to have my kids look perfect so that people wouldn't judge me. However, I don't want to swing so far the other way that my children fail to have a reasonable level of respect and honor; for God, their parents and those around them. 
I am all for treating children with kindness and respect and not provoking them to anger by harsh or misguided parenting. 
However, if we raise our children to think only about meeting their own individual needs before any regard to what God says, or what is the civil and considerate action, I fear they will never be able to experience the joy of knowing that they have been redeemed. Lawbreakers need redemption. Those who aren't aware that there are any laws will find redemption a difficult concept.
What do you believe about grace in parenting? 
How can we show grace and still have rules?
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Heavenly Mothers Prepare - Day 26

"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;"
Ephesians 6:14-15

It is Sunday night, a new school week is looming ahead, and although I have thought about it a lot, I have not set any plans down on paper.  This is not ideal. 

I have tried many of different methods for homeschool planning. I have tried making plans two weeks ahead of time and handing them out to my children (my favorite). I have also tried planning a day at a time, and then there is my current mode, not planning at all. 

Although, I am not writing things down weekly for us to do, we have had a school routine for many years that keeps us learning, even when we are in a season where the daily planning might not be as detailed. This routine keeps a regular rhythm to our days which provides a healthy amount of structure, with lots of time for creativity.

Our routine-

Wake up
Personal Bible Time
Make Beds, Tidy Rooms
Start Laundry
Do Breakfast Clean-up
Feed Animals, Collect Eggs
Circle Time: Worship, Bible Reading and Devotionals, Prayer, Memory Work, Spanish, Timeline, Spelling, History or Science Read Aloud
Independent Work: Math, Science, History, Handwriting, Writing, Grammar, Phonics (This is also when I help younger learners.)
Outside Chores or Free Time
Read Aloud
Outside Activities
Dinner Prep

Although I am not doing a stellar job with passing out school plans to the children right now, I do have a two-week at a time  plan that was inspired by this schedule which Ann Voskamp created. On this sheet, I list weekly meal plans, school subjects that I want to highlight and also any projects that we need to accomplish. 

I also have a master list of all the school subjects that my children are supposed to be doing, so I can yell out, "Do your math!", if I see them stealthily pulling up a video game while they are sitting at the computer. 

Having some kind of routine or plan is essential for having a heavenly home. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." 

Children are happier who have some framework to their days. A routine offers security and direction, and until they are mature enough to create that direction and vision on their own, it is our responsibility to provide it for them. Having a routine, even a loose one, is a good preparation for peaceful days.

Check out some other homeschool schedules here
and here
and a post about routines vs. schedules here

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Meekness is a Fruit of the Spirit -Day 24

This guy had surgery yesterday morning, so most of yesterday we hung out on the couch playing sequence and then re-watching "Mom's Night Out".We also started a new read aloud, "Calico Bush", by Rachel Field which ties in nicely with our history studies and provided a few more quiet moments with the children.  

As women we can get so busy managing our children, that we forget to just hang out with them, so for me it was a beautiful excuse to slow down and relax with my kids. 

Colossians 3:12-15 KJV"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."

Our children grow up so fast, and we can never regain lost moments with them. Moments that we could be using to teach them about how much God loves them, listen to their dreams, or instruct them in how to live.

When we spend all our time distracted, and lately I am very guilty of this, we lose valuable time that we could be sowing into their lives. This intense period where we are trying to keep our marriages healthy, keep our homes sanitary and meet the needs of our children at the same time, will be over all too soon. By the grace of God, our efforts in raising our children well, will have given them a heavenly start in life.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Heavenly Parents Need Faith- Day 23

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." 1 Peter 1:18-21

 I have studied parenting as long as I have been a mother and tried hard to be a godly parent. Although I acknowledge that I have made many mistakes, my reliance on my own wisdom came to a crashing halt through this event and it's repercussions. 

Even when we have done all that we can possibly do, there may be times that are dark. We may deal with a child who is really struggling to find their way. There may be times where we want to give up, because it seems like all our efforts are unfruitful. 

This is when we need faith. Faith that our identity is safe in Christ. Faith that even if people do judge us for the success or failure of our children, God sees us through the blood of His son, who he judged in our place. Faith that God is in control and will work things out for our good and His glory.

Although having a child struggle was the worst thing I had gone through as a mother, the understanding of grace that it opened for us has transformed our lives. No longer do we live in fear of judgement, and this life of freedom has brought a depth of joy and peace to our lives that is greater than we could ever have imagined.

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