Category Archives: Qoutes

Eternal Perspective- The Impact of One

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Disclaimer: Although I have strong convictions about what God wants for my life, and my husband and I are in agreement as to how that looks in our home, in our family, I have no authority to tell you how to live your life. I do encourage you to look in scripture with your spouse, and seek God’s will in your life.  But that does not mean I think you need to do things EXACTLY as I do, or that I am some awesome amazing lady who does everything right. I am just a blogger who needs God’s grace desperately, and his peace. Please take my words as just that, words.  This article is meant as an encouragement, not a condemnation of you. Only God knows your life, your heart, your intentions. I’m just expressing how he is working in this area of my own life.

If you have any questions about the article, or disagree with what I’ve written here, I welcome your comments.

I have been feeling a bit discouraged lately. Feeling that, although I know what scripture says about my role as a woman, a wife, a mother,and that I agree wholeheartedly with it.  I just have the nagging feeling, a feeling of frustration and disappointment that there are people in my life who find my calling as wife and mother to be of little value.  I feel as if in choosing to make my role in our home my first priority, in my case, being a full time stay at home, homeschool teacher/Mom, some may think I  waste my own human potential. Like there is something better that other folks think I could/should be doing.
As if, not only strangers, but people whose disappointment I feel palpably, are offended by my rejection of modern womanhood, and the principles it stands for. My life speaks loudly for an ideal that many people view as narrow, old fashioned, a prison for women. Or as Betty Friedan put it: “A comfortable concentration camp” of family life, where my purpose is to be a “parasite.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss my career, or my schooling, I don’t want to go back to that world of leaving my family behind for personal fulfillment, and selfish ambition. I know that I can still be creative, aspire learn more, do more, and all while making my own home my number one priority. My occupation is to keep my home, love my husband, love my children, be the driving force in our family life. The hub of our home. The Proverbs 31 woman who is a wife, a mom, a business woman, an artist, a compassionate philanthropist, a source of strength and wisdom. A woman whose worth is far more than rubies.

But I do sometimes regret and feel sad that I have lost the respect of people in my life whose opinion I once valued highly. People who value an ideal of womanhood that I have ultimately rejected, in my words and actions.  I wish they could be happy for me, or approve of me. I’d even settle for a healthy sense of respect.
No matter what they say about how feel, actions seem to speak louder than words. I know the ignominy of going to a gathering and having nothing “interesting” or “worthwhile” to say.  Of sitting alone in the corner with my lineup of kids, cutting hotdogs and tossing out little reminders like:
“Keep your skirt down, nobody wants to see your underpants.”
“Sisters don’t like it when you pick your nose and wipe it on them.”
“Please don’t fling your ketchup. It is for eating.”
I have nothing of urgency or excitement to report. No bigwig meetings, no career accomplishments, no amazing trips, no promotion to brag about. My only accomplishment in the public eye is wiping noses and popping out babies. The most exciting promotion I receive is another baby, or a new grade level accomplished, or even more exciting, a lightbulb moment where a child *sees* the truth in scripture, and matures visibly as a result. And while I DO see these as promotions, and I cherish each one, I feel a sense of disappointment that no one else seems to see these triumphs as much more than ordinary life, as if the sheer number of these happenstances make them less precious, or meaningful. They are the stuff of eternal investment. There is nothing more lasting I can do, than to shepherd and guide little souls to a saving faith in Christ, and a life devoted to God’s glory.

So how do I handle this? I write a blog post mostly. Haha!
Well, really, I look in scripture, and my most recent disappointing moments, and subsequent scripture digging led me to writing this post. I wanted to encourage other moms who KNOW the emptiness of “something more” but feel the absence of “something more” if not in themselves, but in their family and friends.
I wanted to encourage you not to give up on Biblical Womanhood because of discouraging outside pressure. Scripture has a lot to say on what our roles as men and women should look like, and it is complete, it is sufficient. Ladies, there is nothing more important than the charge God has given us in our families. Proverbs 31 alone details the value in what we do, the creativity, ingenuity, and patience it takes to be what he expects of us, and God does provide for encouragement, and support, in Titus 2, when he talks about mentorship. So how do we deal with those moments when we feel the red hot gazes of someone who disapproves, or hear the disappointment in another woman’s voice when she hears “where we are now.” Or worse, a casual dismissal of our task.

Firstly, our worth isn’t in impressing other people, no matter how we love them, or crave their approval. The only approval that matters, is God’s.
Here, watch this:

So there you have it. God values us, loves us, sanctifies us, and refines us. It isn’t what people say that matters. What matters is our eternal perspective. Who do we want to emulate, be like? Where is our worth, our value? Is it in “human potential”? As I’ve heard often, humans have potential only to sin. Paul reminds us in Romans: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Our human potential means nothing without the work of the holy spirit to regenerate our hearts to conform to what is “that good and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-4) Our human potential, our own selfish pursuits will help no one. But laying down our life, sacrificing our own purpose to fulfill God’s will to love and teach our children, to serve our husband as laid out in Duet 6, Titus 2, Genesis 2, etc. That is something worthwhile, an eternal investment.
We don’t know what God will bring about from that act of submission, not only to our husbands, but to God most of all. We need to stand firm in our conviction, and run right back to what matters. We need to act in the interest of God’s glory, not personal gratification. Who knows how a commitment to God’s purpose will play out eventually?

Teaching Character

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gaurd your heart  My Dad spent a large portion of my childhood trying to convince me that Proverbs was worth reading. I found it dull, and discombobulated. As an adult, I see it in an entirely different light. As a homeschooling parent, I routinely avoid character training curriculum, because who needs to buy one when God has provided us with a fabulous one, courtesy of Proverbs?
I remember hearing a quote along the line of ‘If my child knows academics better than Proverbs, we have focused on the wrong things.”
I believe this quote is wise, because I know in my life, I use Proverbs far more than I use any of the concepts I learned in all of those math lessons I was  subjected to  given the pleasure of learning.

My own relationship with the book of Proverbs as an adult is quite different than as a child. I read it daily, in conjunction with the date. I have found that by reading it with my children, each day, each Proverb holds a practical application of God’s Word that develops a new character trait worthy of cultivation. This week, a few gems jumped out at me.

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;
he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (Proverbs 13:3, ESV)
This one from yesterday is my theme Proverb, for life. I constantly open my mouth wide!  I jump in haste to say things because I feel the burning urge to share what I am thinking. I can’t say how mWelsprings of lifeany times this has gotten me into all sorts of trouble. When we read this proverb yesterday, my daughter and I both looked at each other, convicted by its words. I know that we are our children’s parents, and not their friends, but in some ways, friendship and accountability fosters open honesty in parent/child relationships. When Sarah and I both feel convicted by something, we act together. We agreed to challenge each other on this matter, both of us knowing firsthand the destruction that follows wide lips.

Today, we were convicted, but I was encouraged:

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
Proverbs 14:26-27

The Fear of the Lord is mentioned so much in Proverbs, as the beginning of wisdom, the basis for prosperity, happiness, all sorts of things. Fearing God, being righteous, these things add to our lives. This was a wonderful follow up to yesterday’s Wellspringsoflifebookburning conviction. We have hope in God. That hope is not just in a non tangible spiritual relationship, but in the fact that here, now, Christ reigns. This spiritual healing, grace, and forgiveness extends to the real now. To the tangible world. The Fear of the Lord affects me tangibly. It orders my steps, it keeps my paths straight, it gives prosperity, life, in short, good things.

We can find hope in God, his Word, his principles, in his mercy and Grace, because he begins his work here and now, and it affects every area of our lives for the better. It not only helps us, but our children as well. I can’t tell you how many times an argument has been stopped short by: “A Fool gives full vent to his anger.”  We want to be wise, righteous, blessed. And Proverbs wisely reminds us that when our heart is in the right place, our lives will follow, tangibly. “Above all else, guard your heart, For out of it are the wellsprings of life.” Proverbs 4:23

“But I’m not ready to be sorry yet!”

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“But I’m not ready to be sorry yet!”

Saturday, depending on the week hovers between a cleaning day, and a day to go to parties. This week, it was cleaning day! We had a few wonderful experiences, in which the children were very helpful, like this one that I put on my facebook this morning:

While cleaning the kitchen and putting the groceries away, I gave Emma a box of cans, and asked her to put them in the pantry one by one. Emma tried to pick the WHOLE box up, (rather than one at a time… typical Emma. ♥) and dropped them. Sarah swept into action: “Here! I’ll help you! Lets all line up and put them away, it’ll be faster that way!” She and Emma took an end of the box each, carried them over closer to the pantry, then Sarah lined everyone up, Emma, Ava, and herself, and started a canned foods brigade! Haha! *Totally* the oldest child! I was SO proud of her leadership, kindness, and organization!

It was a heartening moment where all the training came to fruition, and the children worked together as a team! I was in heaven! However, these aren’t the *only* moments in this house! Later this afternoon we had another one in which I realized I was in a position to teach Emma some very important doctrinal ideas.

Emma was asked to empty the silverware container from the dishwasher. This, among tidying up her room, making her bed, wiping the table after dinner, and cleaning up her toys after play, is one of her own chores. This is a non negotiable task. It has to be done at least once a day, or no one will have any dishes to eat off of! Emma said “Ok, ok, I will do it!” then continued to play. I gave her a minute to comply, and when she didn’t, I then reminded her of the task, giving her one chance to correct her behavior on her own. “I’m going! I’m going Mom!”and yet, she sat. Playing. Uh oh. We’ve definitely entered disobedient territory!
I took her into my lap, and told her she was being naughty. I took her toys away, and told her she was being disciplined. She had lost her privilege of play. She cried bitterly, upset at being interrupted tangibly.

“Are you ready to say sorry, Emma, and do your job?” I asked.
“But I’m just NOT ready to say sorry!” She said, and folded her arms across her chest.

“Then you may sit here, without your toys until you are ready to do what needs to be done.”

She began to cry “But I want you to forgive me and hug me!”

I told her I gladly would, all she had to do was realize what she had done, and apologize. Not knowing how to put it in her terms, I said: “I love you, but you can’t be forgiven until you say sorry!”

Then I thought, ‘Can I say that, is that true?’ How do I explain to a child that although in my heart, I have forgiven her, and all she has to do is realize there is a sin to be forgiven, acknowledge that, and accept my forgiveness?
Isn’t it just like that with God? He has forgiven us, offered a sacrifice in our place, but it does nothing to us, or for us, until we see our own sin, its effects in our life, and surrender that sin nature to him? Here I was, at an impasse with my 4 year old daughter, just like the one I had been in with God a few years ago, but here I sat on the other side.

I believed for the longest time that because of grace, God loved me no matter what I did. I often excused my bad behavior this way. My terrible marriage, my halfhearted mothering, and my selfish ambition in my own career. I took refuge in a feel good church culture where sin has no weight, and God’s Grace makes it ok. I don’t know how to explain, but I justified my behavior with a selfish idea of God serving me, a cosmic vending machine to whom I prayed only when it got financially dicey. I was not made for God, God was made for me.  I forgot what Paul said about God’s Grace in Romans 5 and 6:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
(Romans 6:1-4 ESV)

We must walk in newness of life. That what our old self was, a slave to sin, must no longer be a slave to sin!

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 6:20-23 ESV)

To be sanctified, to be new, to be God’s, is to die to our own wants, our own ideas, our own sin. This is a heavy 2 chapters. It is, in a nutshell, what our family has been learning, living, for about 2-3 years now. We forget SO many times in today’s lukewarm churches that grace is received *after* repentance! We are nailed to the wall by this idea that “God gave the chance of salvation to EVERYONE!” And so he did, but there is the matter of the Holy Spirit producing that conviction in each heart. Salvation doesn’t just happen to the whole world instantaneously because Christ died and rose again. Salvation happens when we die and resurrect with him! When we say no to self and yes to God. But first we must die to sin.  We must put God’s Glory first, and take his Word seriously when it comes to sin.  As Paul says in this passage:
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

(Romans 6:12-18 ESV)

We have forgotten in this current culture to reject sin, in our own lives, in our own families, in our own homes. We have forgotten that sin has no dominion over us. This doesn’t mean we should be out there holding everyone else accountable, 24/7, but that we should be living such a life that it is clear who owns us. Our life, our choices, they affect others. This goes from parenting, to politics, to how we eat, what we say, what we watch, how we dress. In being sanctified, all of God’s Word is useful in ALL areas of life. ALL of God’s Word.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
This was written in a time when ALL scripture included the books of law. The gospels hadn’t been added to the canon of scripture yet, nor had Paul’s letters. We forget as a church, and as individuals what a light we carry as God’s children, and as ‘slaves to righteousness.’ We are placed here, in grace, to glorify him, not gratify ourselves! And he has equipped us for such a task with his Word, and the Holy Spirit.

Now I did end up sorting things out with Emma, and oddly enough, that included a good nap! Haha! A little grace and mercy  extended to Emma on my part, but there is where grace and mercy come in. They are not expected, demanded, or taken. They are gifts. God gives them to us. We claim them, yes, but they are still his gifts, and nothing to do with our own actions. Remember as you live out a life under God’s grace, that your presence in this poisoned sinful culture is a tangible reminder to others of God’s grace, and the truth of his Word.

Sibling Conflicts From Matthew 18 Weekly Goals: Part 2

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Sibling Conflicts From Matthew 18 Weekly Goals: Part 2

So since I got a bit long winded yesterday, I turned this into a 2 parter to discuss this week’s goals. This past week, Raising Olives had a question and answer post. In this post she linked to another, older post of hers, on solving sibling squabbles. This is an issue that grows as they grow! And I was beginning to wonder, if like in many other areas of life, I’ve allowed bad habits to form. I have it much easier with Ava, and Isaiah, because with these two, we are starting from scratch. I don’t have to break a bad habit and replace it, I just start a good habit. This has been proven in Ava’s response to things which I found terribly difficult with Sarah. When you expect specific things from a young age, children have a way of rising to the occasion! When you expect it suddenly at an older age, they (as we adults sometimes do!) have a much harder time of making it a normal behavior. Change is HARD! But, in this case, change is necessary! Sibling squabbles can’t continue as they have, or things will deteriorate as more kids arrive into the Sacks Brood! Must. Get. A. Handle. On. This. NOW!

Now, second lesson I’ve learned is I never have a handle on ANYTHING! This is where God comes in. First thing to do? Get on my knees. I know the particular passage that Raising Olives mentioned in her post: Matthew 18. In fact, I’ve quoted it a lot myself in other quarrels with adults, and issues within my extended family. My husband and I have discussed it at length in solving issues with others when it comes to disagreements over life choices. (and believe me, we have PLENTY of those! Lately we’ve become quite a lightning rod for that. But that is another story!) I never, oddly, considered it as a principle to teach my young children. This is where I find I failed in the early years of mothering. Applying scripture correctly, on their level, and faithfully. But at that time in my life, scripture was only referenced when it was useful, and inspirational. Time to roll my sleeves up, and apply scripture liberally!

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So how can we apply Matthew 18 to our little girls, 6, 4, and 22 months?

Well. First we read it. A friend recommended ESV for little kids, the language is clear, concise, and doesn’t lose its weight in trying to be simple either.

“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. 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.  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.

Matthew 18:15-17

We break it down, often right when it is most applicable. I started this week, and am already noticing an uptick in peaceful negotiations! 🙂

It goes like this:

Sarah: BUT I WANT THAT TOY!

Emma: But I want it TOO!

We stop, separate, and often, I encourage some kind of positive physical contact with somebody. Me, or the other child. If it is especially heated, they are encouraged to hold hands with me. This might change as they get older, but when they are little, it has an instant calming effect. The toy in question is set in a neutral place until the argument is settled. It acts as a motivation to settle.

We start with confrontation. “What is your problem with your sister?” Each child takes a turn stating their issue. The other child is asked to consider it in terms of selflessness, not selfishness. If we’re still resisting, often we quote this scripture at this point: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

If there are other sin issues, a stolen toy for example, those are also dealt with immediately, the offending child is asked to state what the Biblical law is on that point. Should we hurt? Should we Steal? What does God say? Often, this reminder is enough to solve the issue on the spot. The offending child hands the toy over, apologizes, and they are encouraged to hug or otherwise comfort the other crying sibling.

We’ve also asked each child to apologize when sin is present. I have been told many times in my teaching days that forcing a child to apologize is wrong. But the Bible has a different standard than the world. In some cases of law, apology isn’t even enough! Restitution is needed. If a child repeats the offense of stealing, in some cases, they will be asked to provide restitution. (You took her toy, now you must give hers back, AND one of yours.”) If that doesn’t stop the stealing in its tracks, we take time alone together to address the heart issue, maybe it is envy, covetousness, and I try to be aware of what that child is doing constantly.

Part of the apology process is the healing. A quick hug, a word of forgiveness, and all is over, and everyone happily returns to play. If we still have some petulance on one side or another, it still isn’t resolved, and we move back to square one. Oddly enough, Although Ava needs constant prompts, and nudges to properly complete an argument, Sarah and Emma have caught on quickly, and do attempt to solve it themselves in some cases. 50% of the time I am not asked, and don’t need to intervene. If they can’t solve it on their own following these steps, they come and get me, and ask me. (Getting a third party, as per verse16) Usually then, before I go and intervene, the child who approaches me is confronted on her sin. “What happened?” The child may tell a tale of woe where the other child will not give her a desired toy. “Are you being selfish, and putting your wants before hers?” Sometimes, that even makes my intervention unnecessary. If the problem is really a heart issue with child no. 1, it can stop there, and they play on happily.

Although every situation, every argument is different, what really blows my mind is how scripture has a principle, a word of wisdom for each one of them. It reminds me of that moment in Matthew 22 where a young lawyer tries to trap Jesus into a disregard for some portion of the law, and fails:

“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:34-40 ESV)

Everything depends on loving God first, and loving your neighbor as yourself, putting their needs on par with your own. Oddly enough, almost all (in fact, I might say all) of the arguments we confront in our home have to do with either selfishness or pride, or a combination.

(Mom, you might be laughing right now, because as I type this, I can hear you saying that to us as we all sit in the back of that big van, arms folded across our chests, rolling our eyeballs at your latest mention of selfishness and pride!)

Arguments are by no means gone, or as well handled as I’d like yet (after all, we’re only a week into applying Matthew 18! Although we’ve been using restitution as a consequence for a year now, and apologies have always been expected.) We aren’t perfect, and kids struggle, just as adults do, with selfishness and sin. But using this goal as a working point, and teaching the children to meet this standard is making a difference, and I am hoping with perseverance and hard work will become a life long habit.

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Bringing them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord – Weekly Goals Part 1

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Bringing them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord – Weekly Goals Part 1

I’m going to try and start a new series, something to keep me accountable, on our weekly goals in applying one, or two scriptural principles to our family life. This will be a prod on the rear on a weekly basis to keep up with teaching my children not only the Word of God, but why he gave it to us in the first place! God’s Word applies to ALL of life, and when we let the Holy Spirit convict us in an area in which we are failing miserably, he can work wonders through God’s Word, to change not only our daily life, but our attitude as well. The principle for today applies to all of us, all the time. Obedience is its own blessing when it comes to God’s Word. Choosing to sin, is choosing to suffer.

The children and I have been focusing on scripture lately as a means to manage the difficulties of life, and believe me, we fail often. We aren’t perfect by any means, but that is why God gave us his grace, his mercy, and his Word, right?
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There are several people in my life who have challenged me to live by scriptural principles and see the change it brings. The two scriptural principles we have been working on this week are toughies.

No. 1
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
(Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV)

As a child, I always found that first verse uncomfortable and angering. I had other ideas that eclipsed my ‘parents’ ideas, and I chafed under the umbrella of obedience, looking out at the world with wonder, curiosity, and envy.
As a parent, I began with admonishing my children with the first part of this passage, but strangely uncomfortable by the second part. What did it mean “Do not provoke your children.”? They WILL be upset sometimes when we ask them to obey. As my oldest got older and older, and the seeds of rebellion are beginning to grow (at 6!) I’m understanding more what this means.

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So we all sat down together and talked over this passage, and I felt more taught by my daughter’s perspective, than I was teaching her! The first part, we discussed the blessing of obedience, that God promised a blessing for those who obey. We also talked about why sometimes, we don’t want to obey, and when that has turned sour, or become a problem. Setting the stage has made it easier this week to ask the children, in a tough moment “What does God’s Word say about obedience?” Which can cause them to rethink their actions, not because of MY command, but because of God’s command. Obedience is its own blessing!

This leads to the second part of the passage. The parental part. This is where exasperating your children comes in. Hearing my children talk about why they didn’t want to obey clicked with something someone else had said to me. “Are you asking them to obey YOU and your whims, or God and his law?” I don’t know where I heard that, in a book, or from a friend, but no matter the source, the thought stuck.

As my children described not wanting to obey because I was angry, mean, or demanding, I realized how often I place the emphasis of their obedience on MY satisfaction. I also realized that in doing so, I was exasperating them, provoking them. I wasn’t asking them to obey cheerfully the law of the Lord, or to avoid a threat to their safety, I was displaying annoyance with their childish foolishness. I wasn’t teaching them with an attitude of humility, but an attitude of ‘this isn’t serving ME and MY needs.’ I need to acquire an attitude of humility, and walk beside them as a guide, a teacher, in learning God’s laws, and part of that is being honest when I fail, and apologizing for my failures as a parent. How can I expect my children to obey God’s Word, and show self control when asked to obey, when I do not do it myself? I’m slowly learning that my example of Godliness colors their perception of it. That is a BIG responsibility!

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So, lets look at the parent’s portion: (I prefer the King James version, so I’ll quote that here.) “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
(Ephesians 6:4 KJV)

So we’ve got a two part command here. We shouldn’t provoke them to anger. that is part one, we’ve covered that. Now for part two. Bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Nurture: This is the love part. being patient, understanding their human sin, and pointing them in the direction of grace and mercy as they get back up and recover from the consequences of their sin. This includes direct instruction in what God expects from his children. Giving them scriptural examples for specific situations, (part two of this week’s goals, which comes from Matthew 18, applies to this. We are learning how to solve conflicts Biblically, and so, when they have a conflict, I should, as a parent, intentionally train them in the way the scripture commands. I should walk them through the conflict, and train them lovingly. This takes perseverance, hard work, and doesn’t happen with one discussion. It is a constant maintenance of this particular procedure of Biblical principles.)

Admonition: This is the harder one. Admonition means “advice, counsel, or caution.” or “A gentle reproof.” In other words, this is when we warn our children. “Sarah, if you try to pick up that broken glass, you will cut yourself. Do not touch it!” Sometimes, if the warning is not listened to, and I am not quick enough to prevent the inappropriate behavior, there are consequences, natural or otherwise. This is the hard part of parenting. The training has been completed, this is the reminder that the training is valid. Perhaps my child may pick up the glass, and cut herself. That is a natural consequence. In the past (and this did happen once) I spent the clean up and band aid application asking Sarah about how disobedience worked out for her, and reminding her of the blessing of obedience, that she chose to forego. Next time, I will say “Do you want to be blessed, or hurt again?” It is a natural reminder that Mom and Dad, in following God’s laws, are wanting the best for her.

Now, there are those other times that require admonishment, because the natural consequences may either a.) take longer or b.) not be enough.

“Go to bed Emma, you’ll be tired if you do not.” If Emma doesn’t listen, she has other consequences, parent driven ones. She is placed in her bed over and over again, and not allowed to remain out of it. This may be coupled with a stern warning. “If you do not obey, then you will (lose movies for tomorrow.)”

For littles, the consequences are usually more tangible, like a gentle swat on the hand if they reach for something they shouldn’t.  It is enough of a reminder that they stop.

“Ava, don’t touch that food, it is hot!” Ava reaches for the food, there is a gentle swat and a no. This hasn’t happened often. It really only took once for it to occur to her it wasn’t worth it. Now when she hears the word hot, we’ve taught her to blow on her food. She’ll sit and blow and blow and blow until a go ahead is given. It is too cute!

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We have noticed that in requiring obedience from them, and gentle warnings as per God’s law, not our own personal whims and moods, we have happy healthy children. It is consistent, predictable, and built on an unchanging standard, that is not my standard, it is God’s Word. They have realized the blessings that accompany obedience. We have found that there are many  blessings, such as happy family outings, natural rewards for obedient children, like extra play time because work was done quickly and efficiently, or a bit of playground time after church, because everyone sat beautifully, not to mention my favorites, lots of praise, hugs, and kisses, are often a good motivator.
This doesn’t mean we are perfect, and that no one is ever disobedient, cranky, nasty, or unkind, we are human, and we still sin! But following God’s plan can often times minimize, and marginalize sin, and its painful consequences.

Well, I’ve used up so much space writing this, I guess our second goal for the week: Family Friendly Conflicts, as per Matthew 18, will have to be a second parter for tomorrow, or even next week!

Coming Face to Face with God

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Sometimes God just stretches you.

God stretched many people in the Bible, to places where things just seemed impossible.

Moses, Job, Joseph, Ruth, Esther, Abraham and Sarah, and the list goes on and on.

I am slowly learning that sometimes God puts us at a point where things seem so impossible for us, that when they fall into place, there is no way to credit anyone BUT him! We are in such a place right now. This is a time to praise the Lord for his goodness, and mercy, and humbly come before in in prayer.

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, and we are so so thankful that we are all safe, we have electricity back, plenty to eat (our food kept well.) During the storm, I couldn’t sleep. My husband and I both sat there, awake, listening to things banging on the side of the house. It was nerve wracking. We were terrified of the tree in our front yard (which is somewhat rotten in the trunk,) falling on the house, and that it would hit our children’s bedroom. We trooped everybody into our room, which was probably the safest room in the house, and the kids bunked out on the floor, all snuggled together in a pile of cuteness.

At one point I said (with anxiety and urgency, I’m sure) “Oh no! What about the cat?!” I had tried to get her to come inside, but when I had called, she was nowhere to be found. Hearing that wind blow, and things bang against the house, I was truly worried for her safety. We had even made a small shelter on the back of the porch, away from the rain, but she wasn’t using it. I was REALLY worried. A little voice piped up in the dark. “It’s ok Mom! God is controlling the storm! He’ll take care of Kitty! I just know he will!” Oh the faith of a child. It was a precious moment, and a truly humbling one.

We sat awake long after the children, in all their childlike faith, went to sleep. They slept through the whole thing, unafraid, and trusting that God would care for them. My husband and I got very little sleep, as we sat up and weathered the storm. The winds were blowing very hard, and trees were shaking like little rag dolls. Oddly, despite all the cloud cover, and lack of lightning, we could see everything perfectly. At one point I went on the back porch to call the cat again. The force of the wind scared me back inside before I even cleared the door. As we sat there, unnerved and scared, we remembered a children’s sermon spoken at our church, based on Psalm 29:

In the psalm, the psalmist describes a storm, controlled by God, terrifying in its power, so powerful that it shakes the famous cedar trees of Lebanon (shaking of the trees seemed rather appropriate at this time.) He speaks of the majesty of God’s voice. and he concludes the Psalm with a description of how Israel faces this mighty storm. Not as an uncontrolled terror, ready to gobble them up, but as a carrier for God’s Glory.

“and in his temple, ALL cry GLORY!”

These are not a people crippled in fear by this storm, these are a people who have gathered to worship the God in control of his storm. To glorify his power and majesty.

We felt a peace after discussing this, and then went to sleep until the morning.

When we awoke in the morning it was with the attitude of children on a snow day. We found that during the night we had lost power, but we had expected, and prepared for that. We enjoyed time as a family, playing cards, teaching the girls how to keep score, and group “families” in Rummy. I even taught the kids how to play War. We discovered the bathroom roof was leaking, but it was a bit worse than usual, as the roof had leaked before in a bad storm.  We whipped out the buckets and towels, and went about our business, content with the thought that with proper water damage management, it would only take a leak repair once the rain had stopped. We knew that:

Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

We were secure in the thought, that whatever had occurred in this storm was not beyond his power to provide for. But what we did not know is how far our faith in his provision would be stretched.

When the rain *had* stopped, my husband went outside to asses the roof. We thought it must be leaking so profusely because a puddle or something had formed over the leak. We did not know what he would find. He went out over the 2nd floor balcony, set up the ladder on the first floor roof, and climbed on up, only to find that about a third of the roof over the bathroom, and our bedroom, was ripped off like the top of a tin can. The corner was pulled upward, exposing the beams and insulation below. First thought? How are we ever going to pay for this? We don’t even have the money on hand to buy the minivan we so sorely need before March when Isaiah makes his appearance, so how will we pay the thousands of dollars for a new roof, new insulation, and repairs to the very badly water damaged ceiling in the bathroom?

This is that impossible moment where the  math doesn’t add up. There is not, and cannot be enough money, on our own power, to pay for this roof and a minivan before March. Even with the Insurance claim going through, they will not replace the roof, they will only pay for the portion that was damaged, despite the fact that now the whole roof must be replaced.  We also have a bit of a hitch in the giddy-up, in that the roofer showed up and nailed the roof back down *before* we could get pictures of the storm damage as it was. We are hoping his statement alone is enough for the insurance co. The damage is still there, and still evident. And this fix was only enough to stop the leaking temporarily, and keep the roof from blowing off any further. We have yet to make a decision regarding permanent repairs, until we hear more from our insurance co.

We know at this point that ONLY God can make this happen. And let me tell you, prayers are flying up from this house with frequency and urgency. This is one of those moments where doubt just doesn’t enter in. God will provide.

Psalm 34:7-9
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

We have one thing we are immeasurably thankful for, that it wasn’t worse. Looking at the pictures from New Jersey and New York, we are in awe of what this storm has done to many folks. We pray for them all, as they face clean up, repairs, and putting their lives back together. We also pray for the families of those who have died in Hurricane Sandy. Please pray with us for the many lives affected by this storm, and that despite the many who are in a tough spot right now, that we will all recognize God’s glory in the wake of this large and destructive storm. We know he can work anywhere, in any way he chooses, and we pray for those who are recognizing his power for the first time, or seeing it in action again.

Aside

So is Halloween a Harmless Holiday, or something that we as Christians should avoid?  I’ve struggled with this question quite a bit as a parent. My parents raised me in a home where Halloween was downright bad. My parents discussed the history of Samhein and the origins of the Holiday. They also explained to us exactly how that clashed with a Christian heritage, and how the Catholic Church in attempting to make Christianity more palatable to pagans, ended up marginalizing Christian principles with this particular Holiday, and what started as a compromise ended up as an adulteration. I have many precious childhood memories of fun Halloween nights where all the lights were off, and we ate supper in the dark to avoid the Trick or Treaters, in the hope they wouldn’t know we were home. We would spend the rest of the evening playing hide and seek in a dark house.  One particular night that stands out is one where we tried to eat tacos hiding under the kitchen table. I don’t remember why we took it that far, but I do remember what fun it was.  I never felt deprived. In fact, it all felt kind of special.

As an adult, however, once I began dating my husband, he introduced me to Halloween, the American Version, and I saw a whole other experience, one my parents had scrupulously avoided. My first trick or treating experience was with my husband, he was Superman, and I was Lois Lane. We were college students traipsing around a college town, gathering candy. How bad can it be? There were a lot of princesses, fairy tale characters, video game characters, super heros etc. Why on EARTH did my parents villify this? I embraced it wholeheartedly, and when we had our first child, we dressed her as many different things, a dog, a unicorn, etc. Our second one as well. But with a recent change of heart regarding our faith and how seriously we take God’s Word, we’ve had to rethink Halloween.

In a nutshell, there have been HUGE changes in our life and family recently. Many different factors made us take a good hard look at our life and what we were REALLY accomplishing. We were forced to conclude that without God we are nothing. We also were forced to conclude that if you are not For God, you are against him. We’ve shed a lot of American norms in our life as a result. If God’s Word is paramount, how can we live a life based on man’s expectations and cultural norms, ignoring scriptural principles and commands at our convenience? So when it comes to Halloween, how can we apply God’s Word, and make it paramount?

Historically:

Historically Halloween was a Christianized version of a pagan festival. If you want information on this ancient festival and modern traditions, how they originated, what they mean etc, click here: The True Halloween

God’s Word has a lot to say about making pagan ritual a part of our lives:

Deuteronomy 18:9-13 (OT)

“When you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NT and OT)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

God is serious when he says: Don’t ally yourself with paganism. Don’t even touch it, avoid all appearances of Evil. How can we know that we are either for God or against him, and yet celebrate a Holiday that has a basis in Paganism? We, in our home, cannot. As my husband wrote on our kitchen board: “As for me and my house, We will serve the LORD.” (Joshua)

Philosophically:

Philosophically modern Halloween is a celebration of death. Ghosts, zombies etc are all the rage these days. The paranormal is celebrated as creepy and deliciously scary, haunted houses, haunted rides are all popular ways to celebrate death. How can we celebrate eternal death and reject (even for one day) God’s gift of eternal life? In doing so, we are forgetting Christ’s sacrifice that makes eternal life for sinners possible. We are commanded to remember his sacrifice. This directly breaks that command. It is that simple.

Death is the culmination of sin, and fear a rejection of Victory in Christ, the Bible says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” to fear something else is to arrogantly assume God’s power cannot defeat it:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. Deuteronomy 13:4

“Therefore submit your selves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.  James 4:7

Practically:

Practically, how can I speak to my children of the impact of Christ’s death and resurrection when they are constantly bombarded by images and costumes of death glorified? We live a victorious life in Christ. Not a defeated fear filled life in death.

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Practically we avoid Halloween as best we can. I can’t help the ghastly decorations on porches and gory displays of death. I have had a few distressing moments of my children crying over a truly terrifying porch decoration. Laugh at me if you like, but no 6 year old likes, nor should be expected to handle a lifelike zombie holding someone else’s decapitated head. Not appropriate at all.

  • We don’t do Jack-O Lanterns (ok, so there is a nice way to do those, but we prefer to make our pumpkins into pies and EAT them! 🙂 the kids enjoy the taste of harvest!)
  • We dress up year round. Our extensive collection of dress up princesses, pirates, maids, etc allows the children to use their imagination whenever, and believe me, they do! They do not need *one* night for permission to do this! They do it whenever!
  • We enjoy harvest foods and smells and experiences. We make apple everything, pumpkin everything, and go to town! Who says candy is a great treat anyway? Pumpkin pie has just a tad more nutritional value!
  • We FEAST! In a celebration of eternal life, we feast throughout this season and think about and talk about the things that we might get to do in heaven as a result of God’s generous gift of eternal life. We discuss what the Bible says about this gift, and what we may do in heaven. We talk about the marriage feast of the lamb, and about Christ being the only man to defeat death because he IS God!
  • We teach. We use this as a time to discuss the vast differences between a life dependent on Christ, and a life dependent on men and man’s ideas of what life should be. We use this time to apply scripture to our daily life, and to bolster courage when it comes to making unpopular decisions because God’s Word is not always concerned with leading us to the popular cultural choice, but because God is concerned with eternity, and Godly wisdom.
  • We do so with grace and poise. We try to find ways not to alienate family members and friends who do celebrate Halloween. Not everyone is at the same point in the process of sanctification, and I will end this post on the fact that we are NOT perfect on this, or any other topic, and that our family is still a work in progress! God’s Word has a lot to say on a lot of topics, and we have a lifetime to learn it! Perfection is not ours until heaven is attained. We do not believe that we are any better than anyone else. We are grateful for God’s grace and mercy in our lives, and astounded at the rich blessings he bestows on us as we learn how to apply his Word to our lives.

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Lastly: For an interesting discussion on this topic, and a very enlightening opposing viewpoint (with which I do not agree, but he has some interesting points.) Feel free to check out this post:

7 Reasons Why Christians Should Celebrate Halloween
My only closing question is this: How do you deal with Halloween in your home?

Halloween- A Harmless Holiday?

On the Subject of Struggles- The Proverbs 31 Woman

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Last night was the culmination of a few months of stress. In order to make it financially, and still be able to homeschool, we’ve had to get creative in earning money.  Taking a cue from the Proverbs 31 woman, I’ve tried to structure that around Spiritual needs (Family devotions, discipleship, nurturing, and raising children to put God as a priority in their life. Teaching them the meaning of Biblical Character.) Marital needs, Family needs (keeping our home, maintaining ministries to others, making academic requirements, and learning necessary skills.) and Church/Community needs (being active in our body of believers, encouraging other Moms in the same boat etc.)  I trust God to provide, and so far he has, but lately we’ve been stretched quite thin in trying to be flexible. Call it growing pains, call it the natural side effect of flexing those muscles, but the past two months have been a literal stretch. And last night, something snapped a bit.  Exhausted, in pain, and trying to cope with all the issues, I had me a pretty long prayer session. I think that this past week, I have stepped over the line, and placed our financial needs first, and stretched a little too far. In seeking God’s face, I had to go back to square one, his Word. As I grow, mature, I realize that the Proverbs 31 woman wasn’t superhuman. She was experienced, and as it says “She fears the Lord.” She looked to him first to inform her choices. My question to you readers is, how do you read this scripture? What strikes you? What do you take from it? How do you handle your burdens, and keep all of those balls in the air? What do you do when you struggle with any, or all of these?

Proverbs 31:10-31 (ESV)

The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10 An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25  Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

No More Beating About The Bush…

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If you can’t guess what this photo means, feel free to call me and I’ll explain it to you! Otherwise, I’ll say how fantastically excited we are to be welcoming yet another blessing into our family! Morning sickness is constant and the Due date is March-ish! Awaiting a call back from the doctor to set up the firs appointment to hear a heartbeat, and get a blood test, but so far, all signs point to a happy, healthy pregnancy! The guess is that we are 8-10 weeks along at this point.

So, join the fun! What do you think we’ll be blessed with?

Now that we’ve shared the fun news, I’m going to address some questions I hear quite frequently…

  1. Are you trying for a boy?
    Nope. Not even close. We just thought we’d leave that one in God’s hands. All we’re praying for is healthy and happy! 🙂
  2. This means you’re done now, right?
    I can’t say, again, we’re leaving that in God’s hands. We feel convicted to glorify God in our reproductive choices, and we feel that we should submit to his will in how many children he gives us, rather than try to control things ourselves. We know that every child he gives us is a blessing. We’re trusting him to provide for all our needs, and we are VERY excited about the blessings to come!
  3. Why do you keep on having kids, do you even use birth control?
    No, we don’t, as we feel to do so is to go against our convictions. The Bible calls children “blessings” and speaks often of the prosperity that comes to families who submit to God’s plan for them. We trust his plan, and we welcome his provision and bounty!
    God has given us a command, in the very beginning of the Bible, to fill the earth, and to subdue it, and have dominion over the earth, he has also told us that each child is a blessing, and a reward. He has a specific plan for each child he blesses us with, and lastly, Jesus himself values them, and speaks frequently of their worth, and the lessons they can teach us about approaching God.
    Genesis 1:28
    “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
    Psalm 127:3-5
    “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
    Psalm 139:13-16
    “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
    Matthew 18:1-3
    “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
    Matthew 18:10
    “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

    For an in depth look at this topic, Check out this post on Large Families On Purpose. LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog, and she addresses it quite beautifully!

  4. Can you afford more kids?
    We are blessed. We are not in want, we have enough to eat, a home that we love, and the ability to earn money to pay our bills. God has provided, and continues to provide for our growing family.

Why Aren’t My Kids Behaving?

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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