Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gently leading or forcefully driving

It can be so hard to find a balance when training our children. Unfortunately, many parents become frustrated with the long process and find themselves losing their patience. When this happens, the flesh can take over and we can easily become harsh, overly critical, and very demanding. However, this is not the way our Lord deals with us. Now I understand that as believers we will suffer hardships and pain but our precious, patient Lord isn't standing over us yelling and demanding obedience. He LEADS us to where He wants us with grace, patience, and love.

This is the way we should be training our children.....grace, patience, and love. We need to show our children Christ in our daily living and behavior. Do we want them to see Him as impossible to please? Not at all.....Yes He has stringent expectations but HE IS mercy and grace and we should be pouring them out on our children. All the while, gently leading and encouraging them to chose the right paths....teaching directly from the scriptures starting at a young age....showing them that His word is the only source of absolute truth and that the Lord is to be obeyed in everything.

It's no easy task that's for sure. But it is one that should be of the utmost importance in the Christian home. Homeschooling lends itself very well to this sort of training. We are with them throughout the most important days and years of their lives, able to impart truth to them consistently and without the influence of secular anti-Christian teaching undermining our efforts. The job is difficult enough without these other influences.

So how are you training your children? Are you ignoring them until they are getting on your nerves and then raising your voice and issuing orders? Are you expecting them to know how to act and behave even though you aren't investing any time in teaching them? Or are you daily setting a Godly example and holding important conversations with them about God's truths? Are you keeping them close to you throughout the day and involving them in your life? Are you walking them through scripture and asking questions enabling them to think about God's word for themselves? Please don't say "This is what the bible says and this is what you are going to do..." That's not the answer! GENTLY LEADING is the key.....just like the leading of our Savior, The Good Shepherd.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A desire to please....

I think it is a fair statement that most young children have a desire to please their parents. It is evident in their beaming smiles when we praise them for a job well done or for helping with household chores. Don't we all want to be appreciated? We must be very, very careful that we don't put to much emphasis on what they aren't doing, or what they are doing wrong.

If we are constantly complaining, nagging, and belittling and never offering any encouragement and praise, their desire to please will never survive. They will feel that they will never be able to do anything right...never be able to please us, so why bother to try? Parents I implore you to watch your careful what you say and how you say it!

There are many ways that we can encourage our children to have a desire to please. One great way to start is to keep them by our sides during our day to day activities. This should be done from an early age. When we do this we have lots of time for good plant little seeds. It also allows for immediate discipline when undesired behavior crops up. While we are spending these precious times with our little ones, we have the opportunity to SMILE at them a lot and praise their efforts as they help us. This sounds so simple right? So why don't more parents do it? Well, for one we can do chores, etc. much faster without little hands. However, I would encourage you to invest the time now. You will see the fruit in the years to come.

Another thing you can do is live your life for Christ with JOY. Be pleasant and positive. Again....SMILE at your children. Make it your goal to smile and encourage the majority of the time. Showing your disappointment with a scolding look or word should be rare! Little ones need to know that we enjoy them and want to be with them. To know they aren't "in the way".

If our children lose the desire to please us, we have lost their hearts. They won't want to hear anything we have to say about the Lord and His ways. Instead they will see us as cruel and unrelenting....always ridiculing them for doing things wrong, for not living up to our standards. Make it your goal to tenderly care for the blessings the Lord has given you. Love them wholeheartedly, correct them when necessary....all the while treading very carefully before the Lord and seeking His grace and direction along the way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lessons learned in a large family

Large family life is the perfect setting in which to develop Godly character. How we act and how we treat other people is not only important to our testimony, it is important to the Lord. Teaching our children godly character can be very tricky. It means setting a good example for them day after day...modeling the sort of behavior we expect of them. In other words, we have to stay on our knees before the Lord asking him for the grace to keep our own character in check.

In a large family, there are SO many opportunities for each family member to learn SO many things.......patience, love, deference, loyalty, service, diligence, responsibility, peacemaking, orderliness, selflessness....the list goes on and on. It takes a lot of time and a lot of repetition to see the fruit but when our children are grown and teaching the same things to precious blessings of their own, the reward will be that much sweeter.

Now anyone who knows me personally certainly knows that our family by no means has it "all together". We have a looooonnnnngggg way to go in the character department : ) However, the Lord has led me to a place where there is no choice but to work much harder at developing Godly character in my children. I see things in my children that make me cringe and then fall at the feet of my savior and seek his direction....and ask for forgiveness. Why? Well, because I have failed to properly train my children in so many areas AND because so many of the things that make me cringe are things they got from watching me. It can be very painful to witness that's for sure.

You see, back when we only had two or even three children things were different. They were calmer, didn't argue that often, and things were pretty peaceful. However, over the years as the Lord has added more children to our family things got ahead of me and while they are basically well behaved, there are some areas where we could use some work. So character development is high on the list for our homeschool this year. It is coming second only to study of the Word.

Please don't misunderstand me. I know that some changes in character can only come through repentance and putting our faith in having a total heart change. But we can help to develop good character but teaching them good habits, through lots of conversation, books, scripture, etc. And what better place to practice patience than in a large family? Oh the opportunities the Lord gives us each day!! His design for the family is so perfect....If only more Christians would realize what a blessing it is to surrender the womb to God.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Growing so fast......

Be careful what you say

I can't seem to let this go today. There is a lot to say about the way we speak to our children...and anyone else for that matter. But in regards to our children, if we want them to continue in the faith we need to be extremely careful how we live out our lives before them. My little blessings are waking up now and need my attention so I will close with a couple verses that sprang immediately to my mind when I finished the previous post.

Provers 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Colossians 4:6
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Do you love your children?

REALLY love them? Or do you love them as long as they are well behaved and quiet....and possibly in another room so you don't have to deal with them? For moms who are keepers at home especially, loving our children means constant sacrifice, service, and dying to self. Of course my flesh would rather spend hours on end surfing the internet for the perfect homeschool curriculum (as if!) or maybe even cleaning the house spotless and having it stay that way for more than 30 seconds. Loving our children takes time and energy. It takes patience that can sometimes be hard to display.

If we teach our children good habits and obedience from the start, things will be easier of course. But even then there will be many, many moments in the day (especially with a houseful of blessings) where we will need to exhibit GRACE....and a lot of it. You know like when you are just about finished scrubbing the kitchen floor and one of them spills something, or lets the muddy dog in to run across it, or whatever.....and inside you want to scream because you have so much you are trying to get done while the littlest one sleeps? The child looks at you and knows there is a response coming...but what will your response be? Will you scold them and speak harshly? Or will you take a deep breath, tell them you know it was just an accident, and maybe suggest they help you clean it up? What would our Lord do? Certainly not start yelling at them and telling them what an inconvenience they have caused.

Lets face it....young children especially are sometimes loud, clumsy, and forgetful. They are also very tenderhearted and fragile. They have been placed in our care to nurture! Yes we will have to discipline them at times but just a stern look of disappointment can crush a child's spirit. They need to know that we love them no matter what the situation. The Lord has really convicted me in this area recently. We need to be oh so careful how we treat our blessings. We need to watch our words....think before we speak!

Remember this. Children have a unique way of keeping you from spending to much time on yourself...and wasting time that is better spent on something important. Instead of getting irritated about it, take a hard look at the way you are spending your time. It could be the Lord's way of letting you know you need to change a few things : )

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What it means to be "quiverfull"

To be honest, I don't really like using the term "quiverfull" because for many it brings about a lot of false ideas and negativity. The term comes from Psalm 127 -

1Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

2It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

I'm not sure who assigned the name "the quiverfull movement" to those of us who desire to let God control our family size.....but it's not some strange idea that just came around. Letting God control the size of your family and giving him Lordship over the womb is something that started with creation. So many people say those in the so called movement are part of a cult, that the husbands abuse their wives, that the children are treated unfairly....there are so many rumors and beliefs about it. Now I'm sure there are some families where wives are abused and children are treated harshly but that is true of every class and religion.

For most of us, it's nothing more than just letting God be God....letting him choose when and if we have more children. Some people have this false idea that we try to have as many as possible and that those who are blessed with one or two children are looked down upon. It's not a competition, it's just trusting the Lord to do what He sees fit. Honestly the term quiverfull doesn't really fit...because it's not about having a boatload of children, though some do. There is nothing more to it than surrendering the womb to God - whether we have 20 children or none.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Multi-generational faithfulness

My desire for multi-generational faithfulness has been weighing heavily on my mind of late. Just think about it....raising children who cling to the faith, who then raise their own children who cling to the faith, and then those children do the same, and so on and so on. I realize you can never count on ALL of your children, grandchildren, etc. following the Lord but if there were a strong commitment in every Christian home to make this a priority, what a difference we might see in the world!

So, how do we go about raising our children to continue in the faith? I can assure you it won't happen by living a halfhearted commitment to Christ. The Lord doesn't want lukewarm followers. Why would our precious ones want to share our faith if they don't see any excitement about it from us? Do they see you walking with the Lord daily and doing your best to serve Him with everything that you have? Do you take the time to teach them in the everyday moments of life about who He is and what He has done for us? Do they see you living like someone who is expecting the Lord to return at any moment? Have they seen you crying out to God in brokenness and repentance? Are you excited to get to church every week to seek shelter from the world and worship a Holy God?

Do you shower them with the grace your Savior has shown you....or are you always harsh and unforgiving? Do they see you clinging to the Lord and His word during the good times AND the bad? Are you living with one foot in the world and one in the church....walking with Him when it's convenient and doing what you please when it's not? Are you earnestly teaching them from the scriptures at an early age or do you assume they are to young to really understand, and put it off for another day?

We must do so much more if we want to pass our faith on to our children. My earnest prayer is that from this day forward I will pour myself out daily to live for Him and point my children to follow the commands in Deuteronomy 6: 4-9:

4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

8And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

9And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.