Monthly Archives: July 2012

Why Aren’t My Kids Behaving?

Standard

Image

This week I’ve been in a bit of a funk. Feeling frustrated, tired, and totally inadequate.  I dealt with this the natural way, by seeking God in his Word by napping a lot and spending a ton of time on facebook.

After every nap I would wake up wondering: Why don’t I feel rested? Why are the kids so naughty? Feeling frustrated, and reading a post on facebook, I did a search on Biblical Character. “That is what they need!” I thought. “A bit of Biblical character! I’m so excited to start teaching that this school year!” As I was lamenting my lack of money for resources, curriculum, workbooks etc. It occurred to me, their recent lack of Biblical character stemmed from MY recent lack of Biblical character.  Whoops.  Here I had been laying around, watching movies, reading facebook, doing all the things I felt entitled to do in a funk. “I deserve to lay down, I’m tired.” I’d think. And then, I’d turn around and wonder why my kids were so lazy, not doing their chores, responding in snappy ways, and yelling at each other.

Oops.

“Biblical character begins at home.” I read. Yikes. Well… There hasn’t been an abundance of that around here lately. Guilty as charged. I’m so busy fighting somebody else’s battles on facebook, that I’m too tired to do the most important fighting. Fighting to glorify God in my own home. Back to square one. Time to get up, get moving, and actively serve God. One trip to the library and the nursing home don’t count. Time to dig in and get dirty, and sit with the girls while they clean their room, help them put their toys away, read the Bible with them (what better textbook is there?) and unplug the TV. Time to walk away from MY fight, and look to what Jesus has for me:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Advertisements

Clothed in Godliness

Standard

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”

I Timothy 2:8-10

This particular scripture was discussed in Bible study last night, and it struck me. How should we apply this scripture? It is pretty straightforward… I took a look at Matthew Henry’s commentary, in which he says:

“Here is a charge, that women who profess the Christian religion should be modest, sober, silent, and submissive, as becomes their place. 1. They must be very modest in their apparel, not affecting gaudiness, gaiety, or costliness (you may read the vanity of a person’s mind in the gaiety and gaudiness of his habit), because they have better ornaments with which they should adorn themselves, with good works. Note, Good works are the best ornament; these are, in the sight of God, of great price. Those that profess godliness should, in their dress, as well as other things, act as becomes their profession; instead of laying out their money on fine clothes, they must lay it out in works of piety and charity, which are properly called good works.”

On first glance, I wondered if this is a complete exclusion of jewelry and doing hair beautifully etc. That we should be completely plain, and never wear anything that calls attention to ourselves. But I quickly dismissed that thought, as the scripture itself points to a much deeper purpose. That our outward appearance should not outshine or undermine our reputation for godliness. And I don’t think Paul meant this as a point of pride either.  In the NIV version it says “but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” Profess to worship God… Seems there is an issue of glorifying GOD here, and not glorifying our works. Reading this passage has often been a focus on my behavior instead of God’s work. Now I read this passage as an encouragement to let God’s work affect my behavior. It isn’t about me, and my works, it is about God, and his work, and not allowing my dress to inhibit the realization of his work.

So how do we apply this scripture practically? I’ve come to realize that dress can be an outward expression of inward thinking. As Matthew Henry’s commentary stated, gaudy dress denotes vanity.  So how to dress that points to God? Paul is right, we shouldn’t distract others from God’s work with dress. So gaudy exhibitionism is out, but this doesn’t mean we can’t wear anything remotely attractive or nice.  I noticed something interesting of late. My husband and I bought a house to rent out, it is a foray into a family business for us. Can we legitimately earn money for our family renting or flipping homes? We’ll see how that pans out… meanwhile, our children, girls ages 5, 4, and 1, have been very involved in the whole process. They’ve been along while we’ve done work on the home, and they’ve been along while we’ve made business transactions for the home. Home improvement shopping at home depot, bank trips to shift funds around, meetings with possible tenants, the insurance company, the bank to determine funds needed etc etc. I have noticed a distinct difference in their behavior influenced by the way they dress. When they wear play clothing, they are more inclined to goof around, get overly silly, and be physical about their expression of events around them. When they dress beautifully, they are more likely to behave beautifully. To sit like ladies, respond to adults in a courteous fashion etc. I know part of this could be my discussions with them, their previous experience in such dress (we have no nursery in church, and no children’s church in the summer, so in their church dresses, they sit through church, and act like ladies.) But either way, I have found the same to be with me. Often the way that I dress encourages behavior. When I dress in a way that glorifies God, I am very aware of that fact. Paul properly highlights here the tendency of women to be reminded of their behavior in their dress, and warns us against vain dressing meant to call attention to our own beauty and wit.

In Ezekiel 16 Ezekiel likens Jerusalem to an adulterous woman. He speaks of how God has raised her up, dressed her in beautiful clothing fit for a queen, and how she takes this beauty bestowed on her to her own advantage, and seeks out other men to adore and love her. I’m not going to set forward a code of dress here, with hem lengths, collar depths, a color wheel etc. It isn’t about those useless details, it is about our heart. How are we dressing? Are we taking our feminine beauty, our natural modesty, our God given gifts, and using them to our advantage, or to glorify God, and point to the things he has done in our hearts, our homes, and our lives? Modesty is a trait of the heart. A submission to God, and not to our own will and desires. when our heart is right, our dress will follow. And our dress will continue to encourage us to glorify God, and not ourselves.


Feel free to comment and let me know how you apply this scripture in your life, and what it means to you. How do you apply it in your life? How does it affect how you dress?

Mom, We’re Not Arguing! We’ve… Got A Difference Of Opinion!

Standard

However it is labeled, bickering, squabbling, fighting, brawling, dispute, altercation, rumpus (pick your favorite.) There is no shortage of them in a home with more than one child. As much as we’d all like people to believe our little angels get along well all the time, they just don’t! Part of growing up is learning how to disagree appropriately. We’d all agree that in the human experience, there is nothing more miserable than someone who argues all the time! The Bible even has a few words on the subject:

Proverbs 21:19  It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

This morning began bright and early with a quarrel over who got to wear the pink skirt between my 4 and 5 year old girls. What amazed me (it shouldn’t I guess, I witness it frequently enough,) is how quickly it can go from just chatting to an all out brawl. 1.2 seconds and we’ve ceased chattering over how excited we are for VBS today, and begun a violent tug of war over the skirt, complete with shouting and tears. As a Mom I’m wondering how to stop this? I’ve read studies in my previous schooling that we need to give them strategies, which usually consist of some kind of negotiating skills, but I won’t even mention how I feel about THAT, because that is another blog post entirely that would be titled “Why what I learned in college about teaching children is a load of manure.” It would end with a statement about how ineffective man based strategies touting humanism that deny the Bible really don’t work, because they deny the creator. But I digress!

So my college classes have taught me nothing useful. Alright, what about what I learned working in a daycare? Those every day experiences with fighting kids? That the more I teach them to negotiate, the more nothing happens. They are children. Their first impulse is to hit and yell. Teaching them to react is doing nothing. I’m going to choose follow the Bible’s advice, after all, the Creator knows more than the created! Time to get training!

Proverbs 1:2-7 says:

for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Alright so scripture is clear, if I want to teach my children ANYTHING, I need to start by teaching them the fear of the Lord! We all know that famous Proverb of Solomon, “Train up a child in the way he shall go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It makes so much sense when it comes down to it, I train my children how to cross the street, tie their shoes, how to make their bed every morning, how to find wisdom in a scripture verse, how to listen to a sermon, and to obey Mom and Dad. Why haven’t I trained them how to properly argue? I know it is a skill that I value now in my marriage, but that the initial lack of that skill was disastrous! So what does scripture say about “contention” and “strife?”

1. Pride is the first issue to deal with! Proverbs 13:10 says: “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” First step is to teach our children the evils of pride, and to abandon self, and seek to serve others. Jesus said: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” in Mark 9:35. Philippians 2:3 says “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

2. Recognize an issue before the blowup. Proverbs 17:14 says: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” Teach your children to mention an issue before it becomes a problem, or, with young children, be clear about boundaries. This morning’s pink skirt issue was something I should have dealt with before. My girls are in roughly the same size, and many hand-me-downs occur, so we’ve instituted the family closet. I thought this would stop arguments  about who is wearing what. So this morning they still fought about it! Pride cropped up. Generally it gets taken away and no one has it, until the argument is solved. That worked. They cry for a bit, but they move on. Teaching them to surrender the item every time a contention occurs, and THEN deal with the argument is a good way to teach them how to properly disagree, and how to submit and seek God’s opinion before asserting ours foolishly. It can be hard at first, but the more it becomes habit to surrender the contentious point, the better things are. One day at a time, right? Children stumble and sin too, this is where patience and grace come into play!

3. Confront an issue. Much like step 2, this is a more sophisticated version. Sometimes the problem isn’t material, it is emotional. An offense has occurred. Teaching them the steps of resolving conflict Biblically is a good thing. Now, I highly doubt sibling issues will end up going all the way to the church, but children learn how to work within a body in their family first. Here are the steps laid out in Matthew 18:15-17
“(a.) If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (b.) But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (c.) If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. “  Ok so this is specific to churches, how to translate that to family life? Here is what I tell my children: (a.) If your sister has said something unkind, talk to her. Tell her what is wrong. (b.) If you can’t reach an agreement/settle the problem, BOTH of you come to me. I will listen to both sides. Then, we discuss it. It is resolved at this point more often then not. (c.) IF it continues, and is an ongoing problem, we might have a family meeting that involves DAD. Generally, they want to avoid this scenario… So we don’t reach that point often!

4. Go back to basics. Remind them often that fights and quarrels are a result of our own pride and need to win. James 4:1 says: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” Remind them that wisdom, and peace are to be found in fearing the Lord. Proverbs 28:25 says: “A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.” Remind them that God does not take kindly to a constant quarreling attitude, but he blesses peace. Romans 2:8 says: “But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”

5. Pursue peace. Romans 14:9 says: So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. As my Mother says “If you don’t have anything nice to say, Don’t say anything at all!”

Additional Wise sayings on the subject of strife:

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. Proverbs 20:3

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. Proverbs 15:18

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.  Proverbs 16:28

Last but not least:

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.  Proverbs 10:12
How do you practically handle arguments in your house? What works? What doesn’t? What does scripture say on the subject that strikes you?

Life As A Cheapskate! (Or, the Pinterest Post)

Standard

The more I see of my friend’s pins on pinterest, the more ideas I get, and the more sure I am that going through my friend’s pins takes up enough of my time without joining pinterest to boot! Haha!  So anyway, I have a friend’s birthday coming up, and I wanted to do something special for her! The more I thought and thought, the more I realized that absolutely nothing I could afford was special enough. So, I made something. Something that combined all of the things I know about her into one object! And yeah… I did Pinterest stalk to see what kind of quotes she likes, and what kind of home decoration items caught her eye! Proverbs 31 comes to mind in moments like these, moments where I think of the woman bringing goods from afar, clothing her household in scarlet, etc. This Proverbs 31 lady did not order stuff online and call it a day! She purposed to serve others, and she took time, and sought out the best she could with what she had, AND more importantly, she wasted nothing! It says “her husband need fear no spoil.” ( I loosely paraphrased…)

So, when it came time to make a craft, I’ve tried my best to make the best with what I’ve got! Some recent goodies were my scripture windows, which I made with all things found in my attic, sewing box, with my laptop, and in my pen drawer.  The final thing looked like this:

Image

Image

I was pretty happy with the whole thing!

So I felt confidant enough to try my hand at frugal crafting again! I don’t have the money to hit up Michael’s or AC Moore, even with coupons, so it was another case of raid the sewing box! I found this idea on my friend’s pinterest and was intrigued. I wondered how simple it would be to gather what I had, and buy what I didn’t? I dismissed it as too expensive, but was SO surprised by what I found when pricing items. Let me tellya, Walmart is not my favorite place, but it has its uses! $1 spray paint  and 50 cent stickers being one of them!

So I started with this:

Image

Image

This version of the pinterest project included $4.50 worth of letter stickers, $1 worth of spray paint, an old pillowcase for fabric (FREE!) and a canvas I found in my husband’s art stash left over from his college days as an artist. Now not everyone has said stash, but I’ve heard they run roughly $5 for smallish ones at craft stores. Overall it cost me about $6, but it could run $11-$12ish.  I stapled the cut pillowcase onto the canvas, put the stickers on the fabric, and then spray painted! Took me about an hour overall (those letters are tricky!) After it dried, I pulled the letters off. B-e-a-utiful! But I felt it needed some pizzaz! So I got to work!  Now, I am the Mom who saves some of the stained old ugly baby clothing in a HUGE bag, so I can cut them up later and not pay for notions, and this comes in handy for crafting too! and even better… they were hand-me downs! That translates to SUPER FREE!
So… I did this:

Image

Image

I found me some fabric glue, and I set to work! First I laid out the stuff, but I didn’t like the first try, so the notions got a second go. Leftovers ended up in the sewing basket for next time. Here is the first try, it struck me as too gaudy:

Image

So the second time around I liked the layout, and glued it on promptly! It ended up like this:

Image

So there you have it! for a grand total of $6 I made this! I feel accomplished. And I have no idea if it is even worth $6, but hopefully my friend will find it to be priceless! ❤ I really want it to communicate that not only do I love her and care for her, but that God has plans for her life that are even more precious than she can imagine, and that knowledge alone is more valuable than gold!

On the Subject of Tag-Alongs

Standard

One of my championing issues as a daycare provider was “be more involved with your kids!” In fact, while cleaning this past week I found a sign I made for an open house that said  “When you are more involved in your child’s education, your child is more involved in their education!”
I championed this because studies showed that children whose parents were more involved, tend to be more well-adjusted, learn better, retain knowledge, and apply it better to their daily lives. Children whose parents are more involved had higher grades, were less likely to be involved in crime, and the list can go on and on. It seemed like a good thing! And I saw frequently, as a part of my job, what happened when the opposite was true, when parents did NOT involve their children. Experience and education taught me that tag-alongs were more than an excellent way to keep in touch with kids, they were a great way to prepare them for life!

Now, even more than then, I find God’s Word supports this. Strong nuclear families are God’s plan for us, and isn’t that a good enough argument?  This is a classic case of secularism inadvertently proving scripture’s validity. Here is what God has to say about Nuclear families, and how they should work:

Deuteronomy 6:1-3 says:
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”

So firstly, God points out that by following his commandments, keeping his statutes, our children will be prepared to serve him. Sanctification is a blessing, and when we are in God’s Word, we know more of what he has planned for us. God makes it clear here that when he is the priority, and his Word is the priority, we enjoy the blessing of following his plan for us, and it is good!
He continues on in verses 4-7 to say this:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.   You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

It is clear in this scripture (one that is frequently quoted as parenting advice from a Biblical perspective.) that God designed the family for children to be involved, while we’re walking by the way (maybe traveling somewhere, going about our daily business… etc.) When we’re lying down, and when we rise. Our children should be taught by our most mundane actions, and our more public actions as well. They see EVERYTHING! We can’t lead by example if we’re constantly pushing them away. My inference here is that God expects us to be very involved in our children’s lives. Not marginally, VERY. Scripture has some other points that incidentally point to the value of family meals, direct instruction, etc.

Psalm 128:1-4 says:

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
    who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
    blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
Yes, this will be the blessing
    for the man who fears the Lord. “

This beautiful song of ascents points out the blessings that come of fearing the Lord, and incidentally, it points out the normalcy of a family table. Eating together, being together, is a blessing! It reminds you of what God is doing in your home.

More specifically, scripture gives us a very serious responsibility in Titus 2 to mentor the younger generation. This doesn’t start as adults, as we see above, it starts when they are very young. So as parents, we are our children’s natural Titus 2 mentor.

Titus 2:1-8 says:

“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

Ok, so scripture has all these commands for us. What is the natural application of this? Here is how I apply it. (Not everyone will apply it the exact same way, but the basic application is general: Live it!)

  • We involve our children in everything! They come to the bank, the grocery store, the restaurant. We once even took them to a home closing. That was tough! We concluded that we need to be more prepared next time…  Often times to prepare them for the unique situations in which they find themselves doing all these not so “kid friendly” activities, we will discuss what is appropriate behavior, how we greet and leave someone, and also, we might change our dress. When we went to the bank, the children and I dressed in ‘business clothing.’ Oddly enough, it set the stage for better behavior. They were angels! 🙂  We also model, then send the children to do things. When we went to the Post Office to mail a letter, Sarah (5) went inside (it is a small post office in a small town, with an all window exterior, so I could see everything she was doing. I also grew up with the postmistress, so she knew Sarah well. 🙂 ) by herself and bought stamps. She did beautifully. Emma (4) went in the following week to simply put a letter in the slot. Training them how to do these simple things with courtesy, kindness, and respect is a mundane, but HUGE part of their training. They knew how to do it, because they’d been tag alongs many times before on the same task!
  • Teaching service is being of service! Sarah and Emma have seen firsthand the beauty of serving. They’ve assisted in baking pies for neighbors, delivering them, etc. They’ve helped to put boxes together for donations, cards for those in spiritual or emotional needs, etc. They roll the dough, or write their names, or help to buy donations, or even something as simple as handing out a few plates or drinks when guests enter our home.  This is already beginning to become second nature to them, at a party recently I was very surprised to turn around and find my 5 year old had volunteered to carry the tray of cake around to everyone! It was particularly sweet to see her take initiative in an act of service.
  • When we show bad examples, they mimic bad behavior. I found my young ones drawing on themselves frequently with pens. I was confronted rather innocently when I asked them to stop. “But you write on your hand, Mommy!” Even more sinister? My children watch everything I do. I was very convicted about a habit of perpetuating “little white lies” (not so little, and not so white.) when I inadvertently offended my little ones.  I also found them lying quite a bit. It ended up being more destructive when I realized, especially when it affected my children more than I thought. It is amazing how tag-alongs can end up pushing you to be more Christlike!
  • Be aware of their faith, cultivate it. I realized they watch me pray, they see the answers to prayer, and they initiate their own prayer. We’ve been praying over boo-boos, small perplexities, lost toys, etc. And then in some cases, where applicable, finding a simple verse to bear out God’s Word on the subject. It was a beautiful moment when both of the girls asked for prayer for their grandfather in church. Even more beautiful was the fact that they are aware of his needs, and that they are actively seeking God’s answer to prayer on their own. Now to teach them to trust his plan whether it suits us or not!
  • Remember the little ones. Ava, our 18 month old, is beginning already to mimic some behaviors. Often times I simply do whatever with her on my hip. As young as she is, she is watching, listening, and engaging. Sometimes I forget she is there, it is so natural to think of her as a passive observer. But no more! We’ve reached Toddler stage, and the intentional teaching has begun! Whether I know it or not! This realization came when I realized after several trips to the garden together, she already knows how to harvest certain vegetables! She watched me, and then imitated me. Looks like I have me a new tag-along!

In a nutshell, we have a unique position and responsibility to be ready at all times with an answer, in word, in deed, for our little tag alongs. We need to purposely include them in our walking, lying down, and rising up, and teach them intentionally with the wisdom of God’s Word.