Sharing Struggles

The other day someone commented on how they had to be the worst mother in the world because no other mother would act like them.  We all love to just put ourselves down and  beat ourselves up as what I imagine is some sort of penance for the things we have done.  I was very embarassed, but I went out on a limb and mentioned something horrible that I had done as a mom recently.  This was in a group setting and in my mind, I was ready for gasps and declarations that they couldn’t believe I had done such a thing.  Instead what I got was understanding and even a thank you for sharing my struggle.  The person that thanked me mentioned that she thought it was very helpful for people to realize they aren’t alone in their struggles.  We are all in the process of being sanctified; we know we are going to sin, but we don’t like to own our sin very much.

Later, my husband and I were talking about our conversation in light of several other circumstances.  It led us to discuss how vital it is for us to encourage and pray for one another instead of wallowing in our cocoon of guilt and trying to hid our sin. He is always telling me that we are all capable of any sin and if we don’t believe that to be true then we need to expect to fall.

The other interesting point he made is that if we are aware of our own sin and are willing to admit our struggles it gives us a lot more compassion for our fellow man.  We want to cast judgement on those who commit what we consider the unpardonable sins and condemn them as hopeless and unworthy.  What we need to remember is “There for but the grace of God go I” and pray for and encourage the fallen one just as we would want them to do for us.

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Letter

Dear Young Facebook Friends,

You have requested me to be your friend on facebook.  I was reluctant to accept, but took the advice of my husband who said that it would be a good way to know what is going on in your lives and to be an encouragement to you.  What I have seen has left me confused, sad, and frankly disappointed.  I see where you say you love God and the Bible is important to you, and I don’t doubt that; I really don’t.  Perhaps that makes me even more sad.  I wonder how certain aspects of training have fallen through the cracks.  I wonder where we have failed in training your parents so that they can adequately train you.  Are you wondering what I am talking about?

I am talking about the manner in which you portray yourself on facebook.  The unwholesome talk that comes from your fingertips; the OMG(taking the Lord’s name in vain); the careless words and chatter that you don’t stop to think about how it is perceived; even calling people “suckers” and telling them “they suck.”  You may say these things in jest but it doesn’t’ change the words, the meanings, or the degradation of your character.

Then there are the pictures you post.  Besides the fact you portray yourself as a narcissist when you post picture after picture of yourself in pose after pose, there are the poses themselves.  To be blunt, you might as well “pimp yourself out.”  I am not sure what the motivation is in posing in a sexual manner, angling the camera so we can see down your shirt, wearing shorts so short that it looks like you have none on.  You fondle poles, you pose as if kissing or licking other girls,  and pose like gang members.  It makes me wonder just what sort of  boys you are hoping to attract with your pictures because I am pretty certain it won’t be the Godly young man that is being raised to be a man, husband, and father.

With a burdened heart , I exhort you to please think about the kind of person you want to be, how you want to be seen, and most importantly how you can glorify God in the comments and pictures you post on facebook.  Take some time to reflect on  “Finally Brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you. “ Philippians 4:8,9

Lovingly,

Your Concerned Pastor’s Wife

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

I don’t want to be one of those people

You really need to read that title with the proper inflection.  The stress needs to be on those people.  It might be that you have no idea what I am talking about, but I know people that don’t homeschool for much reason other than they don’t want to be those people.  They don’t want people to think they are self-righteous and prideful so they use the public schools.  They dont’ want to have more than 2.5 (ok 3) kids, because they dont’ want to be those people with a bunch of kids that apparently don’t have a TV.  They let their kids date because they don’t want to be those courting people who deprive their kids of a normal teenage life.  The point is that they haven’t actually thought through any of the decisions that fall in this category for them(the ones above are examples that may or may not apply.)  They just know that they don’t want to go against the normal, wordly grain.  They think if they look too different from the world then the world won’t think Christianity is attractive.  Of course, I may be giving them the benefit of the doubt and it may just be that they just don’t want to be uncomfortable and seem weird.

In actuality, I sympathize and sometimes fall into the same trap, but pray that God leads to us question and evaluate and lean on His Spirit to guide us on the proper paths.  I pray that He gives us the courage to make the decisions that are honoring to Him and draw our family closer to Him even when it isn’t  easy or it makes us the oddballs in and out of church.  I have found that when we do choose to be those people, we often find that others follow suit. I guess there is a courage and safety in numbers in all areas of life and we can have the opportunity to encourage others in their Christian walk.

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 1:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Less is More

I know this is cliche but it really is true. I know, at least in myself, that I have noticed that when we had less I actually wanted less. When we have more, I want more. When things are kept simple and basic, we actually tend to be more satisfied and content. I see the same things with our children. I love it when simple things are pleasures they enjoy. It is such a joy when new things are met with awe and pure delight because we aren’t always seeking to do something new and exciting each and every day. Likewise when our possessions are limited, we tend to be more content, less stressed and happy to just spend time together creating things to do. When we don’t feel like we have to have things to entertain, occupy, and thrill us more than the last thing, we find enjoyment in sitting in the living room together reading books, taking a stroll down the street, or singing along with a CD. For me it is a good exercise to stop and think before making a purchase or choosing an outing or an activity to think about how it is going to impact my family. Is it something that will hinder us from our family goals? Will it draw us together and edify us? Will it create discontent and breed desires that don’t need to be met? Just because we can, does it mean we should? This isn’t to say to not ever buy anything or treat your kids or do fun things, but I think we have a tendency to want to give our kids everything we never had or everything we can possibly afford. We want to fill their lives with things, outings, and entertainment. When we do this, we actually are robbing them of contentment and the ability to enjoy simple pleasures.

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 8:27 pm  Comments (2)  

Family Ties

I was reading a book the other day in which the author was talking about her three children .  She said that at times they seemed like one unit moving together, breaking apart for a while, but always coming back together again.  They were each others best friends and didn’t like to be apart from each other.  It reminds me of my own children.

I am sure that some psychologist out there would say that it is unhealthy, but I think that is how it should be.  There is safety and security in family, those who share mom and dad and have the same eyes(at least in this house).  When one child is gone for the day the balance is thrown off and no one is quite the same.

I think of a time when we had good friends for neighbors.  Our neighbors were lovely christian people who shared many of our same values, but something began to happen.  Certain of our children were not happy unless they were playing with certain neighbor children.  Suddenly, our own family wasn’t core any more.  I saw it happening and we discussed it several times and set limits on playtimes.  I think it would have taken continual drawing back into our own if we hadn’t moved.  After living in our new home for a couple of months, one of our older children even told me that she now realized what I had been trying to teach her and was enjoying her siblings again.

I am not saying don’t have friends or allow playdates. Not at all.  Our children need to learn hospitality and to be a good host as well as a good guest.  They need to learn to love in a community of believers and to care for one another; however, their central community needs to be with their own family.  They need to look to their parents and sibling first before their friends.  They should be content and find joy within their home with just their family and not think they always have to have a friend over or be with a friend to be enjoying their days.  We, as parents, need to foster that love and security that comes from living in a family that works and plays together forming a bond that can’t be broken.

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 8:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Acts of Grace

Thankfulness is a virtue we want to see in ourselves and our children. Here’s an exercise to help you and your children practice thankfulness. When you pray with your child (before bed, in the morning, whenever), before you begin, ask your child to identify one unique thing from the day for which they are thankful, and include thanksgiving for that item as part of your prayers.  The key is to make the item unique. If you do not allow repeats, then after a week or so of naming family members and favorite activities, the child will be forced to think harder about the normal, everyday sort of blessings that God so richly bestows on us.  It may be a new realization for the child to give thanks in prayer to God for books, or for pencils, or for clean clothes, or green grass, or for their health and strength.

It’s not a bad exercise for adults, either.

Try it for a month and see if your child (and you!) grow in the grace of thankfulness.

Published in: on June 15, 2009 at 9:18 am  Comments (1)  

Acts of Grace

1 Thess 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This will take you all of 5 minutes.

Go find a blank notecard, or a piece of paper and an envelope. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to match.

Now write a note of thanks to someone in your church who bears part of the burden of encouraging your soul…a pastor, elder, deacon, Sunday School teacher, mentor. You don’t need to write a novel. “Dear Pastor, thank you for your work for the kingdom. Thank you for serving Christ and my family as you do. Sincerely, Mrs. Me.”

If you’d like to include your children, that’s easy enough. Youngest children can scribble a picture. Those who can copy letters can copy “Thank you, Mr. Smith!” and draw a picture. Older children can write a simple thank-you note.

Seal up your note(s), find a stamp, and put it out in the mail. Your 5 minutes will translate into immeasurable encouragement to someone who needs it.

Published in: on June 12, 2009 at 4:58 am  Leave a Comment  

“Miss”ing Manners

Maybe it is just where I live, but it seems to me that manners are starting to disappear from childtraining.  Maybe certain behaviors are starting to become socially acceptable that used to not be.  Maybe women’s lib has trickled down into children’s lib.  One thing I am pretty certain of, however, is that we need to be counterculture in this area.  When I think back to some of the things that I was taught growing up, I come up with the following list:

*always say “please”  and “thank you”

*food is to be eaten at the table

* don’t tell your host “I don’t like x

*never ask “Can we go home now?” when you are a guest

*don’t ask for anything beyond a glass of water when you are a guest

*couches and chairs are for sitting ; not standing or climbing and definitely not at someone else’s house!

* when going to another person’s house, you don’t roam their house; you go where you are invited to go.  You do not open random doors and cabinets to see what is there.

*always let the other person go first

*never invite yourself to someone’s house

*never ask your parent to have a friend over if the friend is standing right there

* never push past people especially older people.  If you need to get by you say excuse me and wait patiently for them to move

*don’t make noise just to be making noise

* don’t try to be the center of attention

* don’t interrupt

*children should wait to be invited into adult conversations

*children should look adults in the eye and answer them when they are asked a question

*running and shouting are for outside

*there are times that it is inappropriate to be silly and goofy

* how to politely answer the phone

feel free to add to the list in the comment section

Published in: on June 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm  Comments (2)  

25 Reasons to Read Fiction to your Kids

1. Read-aloud snuggles are the best.

2. Reading aloud builds family memories, shared experiences, and a common grammar.

3. Reading aloud strengthens young imaginations.

4. Reading aloud helps reinforce proper grammar.

5. Reading aloud inspires creativity in free-time play.

6. Reading aloud provides a productive way for a family to “wind down”.

7. Reading aloud gives Mom or Dad the opportunity to have “fun time” with the children.

8. Reading aloud reinforces proper pronounciation, and good reading techniques.

9. Reading aloud gives children practice in patience.

10. Reading aloud trains children to sit and listen carefully for a stretch of time.

11. Reading aloud encourages a love of reading.

12. Reading aloud provides opportunities to discuss Christian living in a sinful world in a safe environment.

13. Reading aloud gives your children heroes to emulate and villians to abhor.

14. Reading aloud makes your children better able to listen to Scripture read aloud.

15. Reading aloud helps your children realize the world is bigger anf more varied than they can imagine.

16. Reading aloud helps your children realize that there is nothing new under the sun.

17. Reading aloud can help your children learn to defer to one another, especiallywhen it comes time to choose a new book.

18. Reading aloud can provide an enjoyable time for children struggling with school in other areas.

19. Reading aloud to your children is a way to share your own childhood with them.

20. Reading aloud develops a love for stories, and especially for The Story.

21. Reading aloud encourages critical thinking.

22. Reading aloud builds your child’s general literacy.

23. Reading aloud encourages empathy for others.

24. Reading aloud encourages problem solving.

25. Reading aloud is an opportunity for Mom or Dad to serve the children.

Published in: on June 9, 2009 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Power of the Ear, part 1

Here are some questions for all of us:  When you are in a social setting with other ladies from your church, would you describe yourself as a listener or a talker? Would you say there is a good balance between listening and talking, or is there a lot of interrupting and talking over one another? Do you feel frustrated that no one seems to be listening to you? Do you feel like you need to comment on every conversation going on in the room?

This isn’t a question of introversion vs. extroversion. This is about wisdom, loving one another and showing humility.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

It is not an uncommon thing for a woman who monopolizes a conversation to find herself saying things she later regrets. It is also not uncommon for her to trample on the feelings of other ladies present if she appears to be only interested in hearing herself, or if her many words have included thoughtless statements.

God has blessed many churches with wise women, and it is wisdom in the younger women to seek to listen more than to speak.

When we start to listen more than we speak, we do a number of things:

We bless the one to whom we listen.

We learn from the speaker’s experience and testimony of how God has shown himself faithful and sufficient.

We learn practical helps for living day-to-day

We exercise self control by reining in our desire to comment on everything we might.

We have the opportunity to demonstrate preference for another over ourselves.

I have heard the same thing from both women and men who felt themselves to be in the position of “younger” or “junior”…in many cases, they have intentionally chosen to refrain from any contributions to particular conversations (church government meetings, Bible Studies, etc.) for a certain period of time. In doing so, they are not being proud or standoffish, but they are acknowledging that they probably have much more to learn than to contribute at this point in their lives.

Of course different circumstances call for different sorts of participation and speech. You would not want to be invited to someone’s home for a meal and not say a word! But the principle of  listening more than we speak is still valid and worth considering.

Published in: on June 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment