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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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

God is Good- Day 22

"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good:
 for his mercy endureth forever." 
Psalm 136:1

It says this over and over throughout the Psalms, so it must be very important. God is good. His mercy endures forever.

it is an enormous responsibility to be a parent. We are modeling God to our children. Their first impressions of God are in large part formed by their parents, and unfortunately, many of us have had our thinking about God twisted because of our parents.

How does God parent us? First of all, He creates a beautiful place for us to live. Healthy food, clean air and an abundance of sensory delights are found in this first home.

He gives us rules to live by.

He provides a way for us to come back into relationship with Him, no matter how badly we break the rules.

Although relationship is always available, He does allow natural consequences for our mistakes to teach us to avoid those mistakes in the future. 

He gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us.

Can you see a correlation to our earthly parenting? It seems so simple when broken down in this way;
We prepare a spiritually and physically clean home for our children, with whole parents who can lay aside their own ambitions to minister to their children.

We give our children healthy rules and boundaries to guide them into civilized and godly living.

We offer them mercy when they break those rules and boundaries. 

We also offer gentle consequences for the lawbreaking.

We continue the cycle, praying that the Holy Spirit will fill our children and begin to guide them internally so that our external control of them can diminish

Parenting isn't a grace or law proposition. If the Israelites hadn't known the law, they wouldn't have known their need for grace. 

If we remove all rules from our children's lives, the need for the merciful love of our Lord is gone. 

However, if we make it all about performance and never model for them the great mercy and goodness of God, they will live in fear of failure. 

I don't want either for my children. I don't want lawless reprobates who are sure of salvation, and nor do I want timid and fearful legalists.

I dream of children who know the truth and can truthfully acknowledge that they fall short of perfect obedience of what is true.

Children who know that although they are imperfect, they have a perfect God who loves them and puts upon them His perfection.

I dream of children who know they are made perfect and set free and who acknowledge the cost of that freedom.

I dream of children who are overcome with gratitude to the purchaser of their freedom. Children who are so in love with the one who paid the price for their freedom, that they would gladly serve Him. 
This is my dream.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness -Day 21

"Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation; and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great." Psalm 18:35

Gentleness does not come naturally to me, and sometimes when I am barking out orders like a drill sergeant, I forget that I am dealing with children, and not soldiers. 

From the archives, they grow up so fast!

However, gentleness is so effective at creating an atmosphere of calm in your home. When we use a soft voice and kind words, we convey a sense of security to our children. Rushing around, yelling and treating our children like day laborers has an opposite effect. 

Children are such a gift, treat them kindly!

Gentleness is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God wants to give you the ability to speak softly, touch kindly and show mercy to your children and to the world around you. 

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Heavenly Mothers are Patient -Day 20

"Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; 
continuing instant in prayer;"
Romans 12:12

It is Monday morning. Yesterday, we took a needed break as a family by driving to a beautiful lake and launching our canoe. It was restful, peaceful and rejuvenating, it was a lovely time with my husband and children.

The only problem with leaving the home to get a needed break is all the work that you return to. The laundry piles were shockingly high, and although I had worked all day Saturday cleaning my room and bathroom, and putting away clean clothes, I hadn't made my way to the laundry room to work on diminishing the tower in there. 

It was totally worth getting away yesterday, but it requires extra patience to manage today. I spent some time yesterday evening, starting laundry and getting the kitchen cleaned up so that today would not be quite as frightful, but there is still a hearty amount of housework to be done today, as well as the regular schoolwork. 
One key to managing a big workload is remaining patient. If we can break the work down into manageable chunks and involve the children in both the schoolwork and the housework, we can get a lot accomplished and build relationships at the same time. 

Children don't mind working, but they do mind being yelled at, so it pays to stay calm and be creative when you are trying to get caught up.

A few quick motivators we have used to get through a long list;

Set a timer- setting a timer always brings out healthy competition in children.

Offer a reward- Enlist your children in a quick home clean up and make it fun by offering a reward. It might be playing a game together, or offering a fun snack, some stickers or free time.

Make work a game- One of my favorite work/play games with my children is playing store. When there is a huge stack of laundry to be folded and put away we often make our putting the laundry away into a fun game that also works on basic math skills. One child becomes the storekeeper and myself and the rest of the children are shoppers. We collect our clothes, pay the storekeeper and then proceed to put them away.

Reward yourself- One of my favorite things to do with my children is read aloud. It means I get to sit down for a while, and I love the closeness that it offers. So for me, getting some projects checked off my to do list is rewarded by some read aloud time, or if I need a big reward, a group reading time where we all read our own books.

As you manage your children today, I pray you can be patient, keep your cool and have fun with them.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Heavenly Mothers Seek Peace-Day 19

"Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."
Psalm 34:14 KJV

In Christ we have peace with God, which means that our eternal state is secure, but sometimes our life still feels frantic. With several children in my family, the noise level alone can make it hard to feel peaceful. Music playing, dishes clanking together as they are loaded and boys making any number of strange noises with their mouths, or an elbow and an underarm, all contribute to a home that often feels anything but peaceful.

Sometimes as mothers we purchase false peace for ourselves by putting our children in front of a movie or video game. This might be fine on occasion but when it becomes a habit, several problems occur. 

The first problem is that when children never interact with adults, the adults don't have the opportunity to direct and teach the children. If you as a mom don't push through the boredom with your children and teach them how to be happy without media, then their development on many levels will be hindered, basic civility and a work ethic being just a couple affected areas.

Another big problem with over reliance on media is that our standards for what to watch decline the more we watch. What might have shocked us when we first turned on the TV soon becomes commonplace, and our children end up learning bad behavior that they will act on the next time the TV is off.

Sometimes though, we just reallly need a break; from managing children, from picking up toys, from the endless round of laundry.

This is when leaving home is a good idea. Sometimes it might be by yourself while the children are with a safe caregiver. However, leaving home for a few hours or a day with your children is a wonderful way to seek peace and build relationship, especially if you go somewhere outside. A playground, a lake or a nature center are all lovely places to unwind as a family. Children are rarely bored when they have some water to splash in or rocks to climb, and their joy, the fresh air and the chance to breath are God's gifts of peace to a tired and weary mother.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heavenly Homes are Full of Joy-Day 18

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasure for evermore." Psalm 16:11

I have to admit, joy is not the first emotion I feel right now. Yesterday morning, I awoke to the sound of my goat crying. Heading outside, I noticed that her mate was nowhere to be seen. I gathered my boys to go look for him and what they saw was the gruesome sight of my buck; legless, ripped apart and very much dead. 

This little goat was given to me by my sister and in an effort to not let the coyotes come back for the pregnant momma goat, several of my children and I spent the night on our trampoline, scooted strategically near the goat pasture. This settled down the momma goat, but I spent a sleepless night, listening for the sound of coyotes and sliding into an ever tighter heap of children in the middle of the trampoline. 

So the emotion I feel right now is mostly mind numbing exhaustion, mixed with a bit of worry about what to do with the goat tonight.

How do we stay joyful in the midst of exhaustion? My son is an inspiration to me in this area. He is nearly always happy and even tempered, but it is no mystery to me how he stays this way. His spare time is nearly always spent worshipping God. Whether he is playing along to worship music on his cajon, playing the guitar or streaming music, he has been graced with an understanding of where to find joy.

I hope I can learn from him and I pray that God gives me the same heavenly hunger for finding joy in Him. When I am tired and struggling for joy, I try to find it in a myriad of less fulfilling ways. Organizing a closet, checking FB or eating some chocolate are often my natural, if generally unfulfilling, responses. 

However, deep joy will not be found in any of these mostly harmless pursuits. If we want to be full of the joy that will sustain us through trying times, the best way to find it is to go directly to God through worship and His word.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love-Day 17

��1 Corinthians 13:4-8 KJV
[4] Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, [5] Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; [6] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; [7] Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. [8] Charity never faileth: …

These verses are a lovely description of true love, agape love which comes through dwelling in the Holy Spirit. It can't be faked and if you want it, you must abide in Him. 

What does this agape love look like? It is patient, even when your children are all crying and the noise is overwhelming. It suffers long through sleepless nights and soiled sheets. 

It helps us be kind when we are tired and frustrated. It isn't jealous of mothers who get to sleep all night or who have housecleaners (guilty of jealousy on this one!). 

"Love doesn't boast". It doesn't have a bumper sticker that says, "My homeschooler is smarter than your honor student" (Moms Night Out funniness).

"Love does not behave unseemly"(does running to my room and slamming the door fit in that category? Guilty again).

"Love doesn't seek it's own, isn't easily provoked, thinks no evil." I think that means that we believe the best about people and are not drawn into arguments.

"Love doesn't rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth."
 When something bad is happening, even to people we don't like, the right response is sorrow and when people discover truth, we get excited for them.

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." When everything in our life is difficult or seems to be going wrong, we cling to the truth that God loves us and has good plans for us. We keep hoping in His word, knowing that "He who endures to the end will be saved".

The love of God never fails, and I pray that you would be so full of His love that you would be equipped to love your family with that same enduring love.

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