Friday, August 31, 2007



From the first moment a newborn baby is placed within the warm embrace of his mother's arms, he begins to learn about trust. Until we are held within a genuine, heart felt embrace, we know nothing of the matter of abiding and hiding within safety. A baby learns from the embrace and care of his parents who the people are that provide and care for him. He learns who he is through the ones he learns to trust.

It is a known fact that if you hold a newborn baby about 12 inches from your face, he can see you clearly. As time passes, he begins to recognize your features each time you pick him up to cradle him. When we purposefully hug and hold our children as a way to express our unconditional love for them, they learn that we are the givers and that they are the receivers of all we have to offer them. When it comes to the neediness of a newborn, we are humbled by the complete dependence this tiny life has upon us. Subsequently as they absorb the recognizable attributes of who we are, they learn and know who they are. As a result, they are secure knowing they are safe within our care.

This is the exact model for how we as God's children should trust Him in all areas of our lives. Psalm 91 is so applicable in parenting in that if we are trusting in our heavenly Father, we can have confidence and have assurance that HE will guide us in our journey of parenting. Below are five points or keys to trust God in our parenting.

-KNOWING-who I am as a child of God
-SEEING-our children as younger brothers ans sisters in the
-GIVING-our children a Kingdom View
-MODELING-a heart felt faith by keeping constant company with
the Lord.
-LIVING-a heart felt faith by keeping constant company with the

The first and most important key to trust is in knowing who I am as a child of God.
It is by getting to know Christ that imparts to us who we are in Him. As we become increasingly secure and confident while learning to consistently abide in God, we will outwardly manifest attributes which will in turn cultivate our children's security in their relationship with us.

We want our children to be secure individuals so that they will be well equipped for the influences of the world. We do not want them to follow it, but to stand tall in it. For example, if I am a fearful individual, I cannot expect my children to not have the same fears. As a child, I used to pray the same prayer before I went to bed. I would fearfully plea for God to protect me from tornadoes, house fires, earthquakes, and burglars. Because I was a fearful child, I grew to be a fearful adult. If I had not allowed the Lord to help me in this area of fear and to deliver me from it, then more than likely my children would be victims of the same fears. As we desire the best for our children, let us desire God's best for us. Trusting in God is the best He has for us. He demonstrated that when He went to the cross and fulfilled His promise to rise from the dead. Why would we trust anything else. Let us always endeavor to look to Him, call to Him, learn of Him in order that we may love Him more. This is the core key of successful living in all areas of our lives.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Life of Joy, The Joy Of Life

I am amazed by the designs and plans of God for our lives. The word "amazed" and the phrase "plan of God" seem so trite sometimes in that we use those words so often. If we do not stop and quieten ourselves to go deeper than even the level of our vocabulary, the phrases and words can become so stale. Oh Lord, may Your name and your ways never become stale in my mind, in my mouth, in my heart and in my spirit. I am taking a little break from the parenting articles as I am so full of God's love, life and grace. I just have to share.

Today has been such a special day. It is no one's birthday, no holiday or special occasion. It is a day, just a day. However, a day no matter what it entails is a gift and I do not ever want to take the time He has so graciously given for granted.
One thing that has made this day so special is that I am beginning to see more and more of the life God is giving in the place of loss in our lives. We lost our baby to miscarriage about a month and a half ago. My heart is still broken, but a broken heart does not mean it is the end. We named our baby Joy and now I am beginning to see why the Lord gave us that name for this baby who await us on the other side.

A couple of weeks ago I joined Curves which is an exercise facility for women. The women who go there are so friendly and talkative. I feel like I have known them for longer than two weeks. One of the employees named Cindy has been so kind to me and has helped me learn to use the machines correctly. Today, when I walked in, her face just lit up as she approached me. She asked me if she could share something personal and went on to tell me that her oldest daughter who is only 8 weeks pregnant was at the Doctor's office that moment because she had started bleeding heavily. She asked me to pray for her. She asked me about my experience with the miscarriage and about my experiences with having children. I have only spoken with this woman a few times and she is pouring her heart and concern out to me concerning her dear daughter who lives far away in Buffalo, New York. I was able to minister to this woman today because of a loss in my life. If I had not lost Joy, I would not have had the joy of showing the love of Jesus to this dear woman.

Just yesterday I felt so much grief from the loss of baby Joy. I am healing and the days are getting better overall. However grief is an oddity. it can wash over you unexpectedly without any notice or warning. It is a process and it is taking a long time. This morning however, I felt the life flow of baby Joy and the Lord within me so intensely as I had the privilege to encourage this woman with a message of hope.

I experienced the life of Joy who is no longer in my womb, but she is in the embrace of the womb Creator and life Sustain er. When I touched a hurting heart, I felt I was touching Joy. Everything this baby stands for is life because she is alive. And the loss I have experienced is nothing compared to the glory of His life in my heart. This is so simple ,but oh so deep. Lord, may the simpleness of your love never grow stale within me. The life of Joy is bringing me into deeper wells of the Joy of Life. Oh What a Day! Oh What a Savior!!!!

Eternal Life is in Him and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:4-5 (Living Bible)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Elevation of Methods and Formulas

It was the most time consuming, tedious, and tiresome Christmas present he had ever assembled. Oh, the memory. We had to hide the tremendous box away at a friend's home until the children were nestled and snug in their beds that Christmas Eve many years ago. It was all planned out. We would stay up all night if that was what it took to complete this huge project. It was our children's first swing set!

The unusual temperature of that billowy night is a memory I know I will never forget. And I know my dear husband especially will always remember the blistering cold as he labored in love to make the boy's dreams of a swing set a reality. John worked all night and finally completed the project exactly five minutes before they awoke Christmas morning. Whew! That was close!

One reason it took so long to assemble the swing set was that it had so many parts with so many screws. John had to follow the directions carefully, step by step, in order for the swing set to turn out a success. How much like this scenario can we compare parenting? How many times have we asked and searched for methods, formulas, and directions on how to raise our children? The questions start from the time time the parents find out they are expecting a new baby and continue until the child is launched into adulthood.

Wouldn't it be great if all new babies came with an instruction manual that gave step by step directions for that child's life? It would list the brand of diapers that baby should wear, the method of feeding, how to get him or her to sleep through the night at two months old. Then, as you move through the manual you will be instructed as to how to potty train that child and at what age. Later on, you would know for sure whether you are to send your child to public or private school, or even be home schooled. In addition, you would know what discipline techniques work best for this child. At adolescence you would already be well informed as to how to deal with fluctuating hormones,insatiable hunger, and conflicting attitudes. Then the final chapter would guide you to the exact plan for that child after graduation. Everything worked and you are now ready to launch your young adult into life with confidence because you know you stuck to the book and did it all right.

There are so many resources available for parenting that it makes my head spin when I go that section of a book store. Everyone wants a method and a formula for making their children turn out successful. We must be very careful not to try and fit our children into a formula or a method. There is only one equation for all of life and that includes our journey in parenthood.

(Trust in the Lord)+ (with all of your heart)- (leaning on your own understanding)+ (all your ways acknowledging Him)=GOD DIRECTED PATHS. Proverbs 3:5-6

In other words, if we lean upon our own understanding by seeking the perfect method and leaning upon that to work, then we are trusting in something other than the Sovereign God who has the written plan of that child within His safe keeping. Flipping through books, searching the web,and asking other parents are all great sources and we need to take advantage of trustworthy resources. However trusting in anything above the wisdom of our all knowing God makes them idols in our search to be the best parents we can be.

In addition to idolatry , we must also realize that we are harming our children by leaning upon methods and formulas. If we become so fixated on putting together the right ingredients in order to parent successfully, then we are led to relate to our children as if they are projects on conveyor belts. Unfortunately, this causes breakdown in relationship with our precious children. The inner knowing and discernment of children are very keen. Therefore, they sense when we are relating to them in this way. It damages our bond with them as they will feel like we care the most about how they will turn out rather than loving them right now.

God cares about how we all turn out. This is why He came upon this earth as a man to die and save us from an eternal death. However, He delights in us daily just as we are and never makes us feel as though we are His projects just to be completed so that He can be praised for His wonderful accomplishments. We must constantly examine our hearts as parents and repent for trusting in sources other than the Source Himself.

God so loved the world that he sent Jesus. He calls us to love above all other noble things we can do. This will lead us into the next articles which will be centered on trusting the Lord and looking to Him to be the best parent we can in His eyes. We are called to trust in HIM alone.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Over-Dependence on Control

Once I heard someone talking about a mother who "ran a tight ship". This may have described someone who was well organized and very structured in the way they parented and ran their household. Having a "tight ship" is almost a necessity especially for larger families like us. There has to be a healthy measure of organization and control in order that the family ship runs as smoothly as possible. Does this mean our home is spotless and everything is in place? No way!! However, we do have a system which allows us to flow harmoniously through each day. At the same time the schedule is loose enough to allow for divine interruptions. A ship that is too tight will eventually cause everyone to want to jump off and swim in a different direction. We want our sails to be loose enough that we may be free to flow with the unexpected changes and interruptions.

I remember when our oldest children were younger. I was very into having charts and schedules all over the house. These worked well for a season and the children enjoyed them most of the time. However someone would eventually wake up sick or a neighbor would be in need. There were many occasions when my structured plans would be cancelled. This seems to be even more so now as our family has grown. I also remember having to forget about the neatly made "chore and homework schedules" because of discipline problems. Sitting down with the children and having discussions about the importance of respecting and loving each other and honoring their parents were of more importance compared to sticking to structured schedules.

Do not misunderstand and think I am proposing that control is unimportant or wrong. When our oldest children were younger, much more control was needed to protect them from harm and to teach them responsibility. Even now with our younger ones, we do have a tighter reign on them compared to the teenagers. However, as they grow and mature, we release a little at a time and give them space to grow and become who God created them to be.

In our 17 years of parenting, we have always had to tighten the ship somewhat as our family has grown. The more people who live in one house, the more order is needed so that all members are healthy, safe, clothed, fed, nurtured, and disciplined. A tight ship is a good thing. However, the question we need to re-examine is this- IS YOUR TIGHT SHIP TOO TIGHT?

You ask, "What do you mean by having a ship that is too tight?" Let me ask you, "Have you ever been in some one's home that you feel like you are walking on pins and needles? Have you ever felt like if you breathed too hard, something would break? Have you ever been so uncomfortable around a particular individual that you were afraid if you said one word, your head would be "bitten off" ? Or have you ever felt if you said something you would be criticized for what you expressed? "

We all have probably experienced this type of tension at some point in our lives. The last thing we want to find out years from now is that our own children felt that way growing up in their own home. Rigid rules and harsh discipline along with the other items I mentioned above can breed fear in our children. Sometimes we can be so reliant on our authority to control our children that they can become terrified of us. Therefore, their obedience stems from fear instead of sincere honor. This detriment works against winning their hearts. In addition, too much control intimidates them into subjection and gains only outward compliance.

Finally, as we examine our hearts as parents, let us recall the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. After squandering away all of his inheritance, the son returned home to his father who had been waiting and hoping for his son's homecoming. I wonder how this father "ran his ship"? Was it too tight? It seems to me that if this father was overly controlling, the son probably would have been too fearful to go back, too terrified that his father would snap his head off and say, "I told you so." On the other hand, he may have been too bitter to return home because he learned to obey outwardly to his father's harsh demands, while his rebellious heart remained hidden. The home his father provided for him must have been a comfortable and safe place to be. This son was probably taught and trained well, but at the same time, was allowed the space to grow and to find his own way as he matured. This loving father was not dependent on control to mold his son. If this were the case, he would have refused to give his son his inheritance in the first place. This wayward son remembered home as a place of warmth,void of rigid rules and demanding schedules. That is one of the main reason he came home.

Let us be challenged to guard against over dependence on control. We want to relate to our children as precious people who have feelings and the ability to make choices. They eventually will decide if they will continue to respond as trained. No matter how much we try to restrict or control them, they will make their own choices and our hold on them will not guarantee they will turn our exactly as we hope or imagine. We must keep in mind and heart that our children are individuals with a free will who are processing their own lives and upbringing. There will be a point of transfer where they will be accountable to God. Let us focus on how we can touch their hearts with the love of the Lord rather than trusting in control factors.

(The next article will be on Elevation of Methods and Formulas. This will be the last article on the Horses and Chariots of Parenting. We will then be sharing the "Call to Trust" in our Parenting.)