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The Faith of a Child

The faith of a child is magical. If we point them in His direction, God truly works in them in ways we cannot understand. Only if we all had such faith.

The faith of a child is magical. If we point them in His direction, God truly works in them in ways we cannot understand. If only we all had such faith.

I realized the incredible beauty in the sweet faith of a child as I watched my daughter developing her own.

I had renewed my commitment to Christ, but hadn’t quite allowed His grace to extend to my mothering. God convicted me that my “perfect” parenting meant I wasn’t letting God be in control of her life.

I was still trying to get it right my way!

For both of our sakes, I needed Him to intervene in my heart, so I could learn to share my faith with her in ways that make it living and active in her life.

Romans 10:17 ESV “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

To build the faith of a child, they needed to see and hear and live God’s word.

I had to demonstrate my faith daily, especially in front of my daughter, making a point to live out loud for Him, which meant talking my inner prayer dialogue with her.

Building the faith of a child required living mine more completely, more transparently. Click To Tweet

We talked about obeying God when I made hard choices, when I lost my temper, when we struggled with using our kind voices.

The faith of a child is magical. If we point them in His direction, God truly works in them in ways we cannot understand. Only if we all had such faith.

We thanked God for each new day, for sending His son. We read her bible together, and I spent more time in mine.

After awhile, she began asking questions like, “Do I have Jesus in my heart?” “Am I a Christian?”

I answered she is learning who God is, and when she is old enough to understand, she can choose to ask Jesus into her heart.

With the innocent faith of a child, she asked to do it then, but I wasn’t sure if she really understood.

She was so little, only 4. She didn’t even understand the days of the week yet. How could I let her make this huge decision so young?

How young is too young to make a decision for Christ? Should we ask them to wait? #faithofachild Click To Tweet

Proverbs teaches,

Proverbs 22:6 ESV “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

I became a Christian at 6, but have turned away from my faith many times. Only God’s grace has brought me back, and I really want to show her a faith that avoids falling away.

I really want her to know God’s love and Christ’s redemption, but I had concerns about her actual comprehension of what it all means.

But when she asked again a few months later, I could hear Jesus tell me not to turn her away from wanting to follow Him.

Even when Jesus was exhausted and weary, he would not turn away the children.

Mark 10:13-16 ESV “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Maybe she doesn’t quite understand yet all the details, but she knows she loves Jesus. And when Jesus said to let the children come to Him, He further taught that we adults should should strive to have the faith of a child ourselves.

So, we stopped eating lunch and prayed together.

“Dear Lord, she wants Jesus to be her savior, to come into her heart. If this is her time to come to you, Lord, please draw her close to and continue to work in her heart. If not, stay close and protect her until she’s truly ready.”

Then I let her pray what she wanted to say. “Dear Jesus, I want you in my heart to help keep the ‘debil’ out and God in me so I know how to not be naughty.” It was sweet and beautiful.

I don’t know if it was truly her decision day, but I don’t believe choosing Jesus is a magical formula of a single prayer. It is a daily life-long dying to our flesh and choosing Jesus as savior.

For now, I have to just keep living my witness; being real in my need for forgiveness when I fail.

Titus 2:7-8 “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned…”

 And celebrate with the angels over my sweet daughter tonight.

Luke 15:10 ESV “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Wish I could have heard the singing. I can only imagine.

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Packing Peanuts

My daughter had a science themed birthday party this year. I was searching for a cute gender neutral party theme, and thought science experiments would be something different and extra fun. All the kids wore labs coats and colorful safety glasses.DSCN7229 - Version 2 They blew touchable bubbles from test tubes, and we performed several easy experiments. We covered the lawn with mentos and diet coke, the kitchen with vinegar and baking soda. The party was a blast.

One of everyone’s favorites was the packing peanuts experiment. I took an empty 14 oz. can and on the sly, filled it with acetone. I had a large (2x3x2 ft) box FULL of packing peanuts sitting in the garage. I asked the kids how many packing peanuts I could fit inside the can. “Two?” “Ten!” “No, twenty!” Tiny voices shouted out estimates. I dropped a small handful into the can. The green styrofoam peanuts instantly disappeared. I added another larger handful, then another. Eventually, kids crowded around me, and we were all shoving packing peanuts into this little can as quickly as we could. They were disappearing as fast as we could get them into the can. Everyone was amazed, including me. I knew what it would do, but didn’t know how fast or that it would seriously devour the entire box of packing peanuts in minutes. Science is fun.

But the image of that empty can just consuming everything has really stuck with me over the past couple of months. God used this experiment as a tangible object lesson for me. That can represented my life, my heart.

Since my childhood, I’ve had a roaring emptiness inside me. Some of it has been there since the first day of kindergarten when my classmates teased and ridiculed me. I was bullied literally from the first day of school, coming to believe I was too weird and ugly for anyone to like me, too disgusting for anyone to love. Since that time, I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere. As a teen, trying to fill this yawning hole in my heart led me to make poor decisions. I longed for some social acceptance and sought it through a string of boys who further emptied my cup of self-esteem through various forms of physical and verbal abuse.

Of course the more I tried to fill my heart with the things of this earth and my flesh, the emptier I became. I tried to fill it with partying, drinking, men. Not only did nothing satisfy the aching need inside of me, the shame of my actions only tore at me more and more.

I had accepted Christ when I was six, but, after decades of falling away, I only became a disciple a few years ago after God had been gradually working on my heart for years. I can’t remember the date, but I can pinpoint the moment the Holy Spirit truly opened my eyes, helped me understand God’s love for me and others. I’ve realized now that my whole life, from boyfriends to husbands, even to adopting my daughter, I’ve been trying to fill my heart with things or people.

Holding my daughter’s little girl body, my heart bursting with love, I realize she is already 4, growing up way too fast, and even though she’ll always need me to some extent, being her mommy is only a temporary identity. I must have a permanent identity in Christ.  Loving her has come the closest, but even that falls short. Nothing of this earth can come close to a relationship with God. There’s a hole in my heart that can only be filled by You, Lord.

This may seem like a strange praise song. But the lyrics, can completely be pointed toward God. As I listen to it over and over now, writing this blog, I am teary-eyed, praising God for finally showing me the futility of my hamster-wheel-life, for softening my heart and teaching me to let Him fill my needs, be my comfort, my truth.

Life’s ambition occupies my time
Priorities confuse the mind
Happiness, one step behind
This inner peace, I’ve yet to find

Rivers flow into the sea
Yet even the sea is not so full of me
If I’m not blind why can’t I see?
That a circle can’t fit in where a square should be

There’s a hole in my heart
That can only be filled by you
And this hole in my heart
Can’t be filled with the things I do
Hole hearted
Hole hearted

This heart of stone is where I hide
These feet of clay kept warm inside
Day by day less satisfied
Not fade away, before I die

I spent years chasing ambition, earthly priorities, ‘happiness’, but could never find lasting peace. Why couldn’t I see that I couldn’t fill that hole with the things I do? My sin and pride had hardened my heart to such an extreme I was almost purposefully self-destructing. When I was near to crushed, I would call out to God, but, once the storm had passed, get distracted by self and flesh yet again. This last time, my husband’s fourth deployment, his absence during our daughter’s first year, his year in combat, another long separation, had just about destroyed us both. I called out for God in desperation, brokenhearted.

Psalm 34:18 ESV “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

And He, beautifully, pulled me out of my sin, graciously wrapped me in His arms, comforting me, drawing close to me.

James 4:8 ESV “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. . .”

God is putting verses, wisdom, and people in my life, showing me that He loves me and is calling me to Him. I am learning that I am forgiven and redeemed by grace, no sin too great to forgive. He continues to demonstrate that He is my portion, my comfort.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

As a Sunday school kid, raised in a Christian home, I should have known that I couldn’t fill my heart with my works, that I couldn’t ever do enough to earn salvation. It is a gift. He takes us as sinners, and cleans us up.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

My heart sings these words. What freedom to know that Christ has washed me clean, my old self has passed away. I am new in Him. And this glorious truth, brings me to His feet, wanting to learn, to follow.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

My own understanding got me nowhere fast. I was broken and so violently destructive that I was unwittingly breaking everyone around me. God put my daughter in my life because He knew that my love of her and for her would challenge me to want to give her a heart full of Jesus, to do my best to protect her from the empty life I’ve lived.

Psalm 51:10 ESV “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

What a fantastic prayer. I am a new creation, and God will clean my heart and renew my spirit. I don’t have be a slave to my sin or shame anymore.

Hebrews 10:22 ESV “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

I was talking with my closest unsaved friend the other day. He said, “Man, you Christians must feel so beat down all the time from not being good enough.”

Ephesians 4:18 ESV “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

My heart broke for him, knowing that he is still in that struggle with the emptiness inside. I’ve been there.  Yet, I rejoiced that he opened the door to tell him the Truth.

2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

I said, “You might think that from the outside, but there is freedom in God’s grace, acceptance in His forgiveness. I don’t have to be good enough. I can’t be. I just have to accept God’s gift and follow Him.” I can’t know if he could hear me, or if his heart softened towards God at all in that moment, but I can pray that continuing to let God fill my heart, be my portion, lead my life can be a light to others still lost in their sin.

And be grateful . . .

Romans 6:17 ESV “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,”

 

 For more on a similar subject by a wonderful blogger, check out Kimberly Suchta “To All The Girls Who Didn’t Say No”
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Swimming Lessons

“Mommy is right here. You know I won’t let you get hurt, right?”

“Right . . .” Tiny arm wraps around my neck, clutching me in a death grip.

“You know that I will be here the whole time, right?”

“Right . . .” Little fingers clutch at my hair.

“You’re going to have to trust me.”

“But I don’t trust you!” she wailed at a paint peeling decibel. I’m sure the neighbors were quite certain I was committing various acts of torture instead of just trying to get my child to float in the pool with her life jacket on.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

I am asking her to trust me, not her own perceptions, but she can’t see that from just a few weeks old, I’ve been teaching her to swim. First we got her used to water, got used to getting her face wet, pouring water over her head, then we worked on blowing bubbles, then floating in various inflatables and life jackets, learning to kick and paddle even in the tub, then learning to lay flat in the water, kick with straight legs, pull with her arms. It was step by step, inch by inch, but she can’t see that. All she sees is “deep” water and I’m asking her to jump in with nothing to hold her up, promising her that I’ve given her the tools to swim, and that I’ll be there when she falters. But she is struggling to trust what she cannot see or understand.

So how will she ever trust me in the future when I try to stop her from making a huge poor decision, when she needs to respect and believe my wisdom? I am sure I will get many chances to answer this question in far fewer years than I would like, but for today the answer is swimming lessons that are really ‘trust me’ lessons.

I immediately switched my plan from trying to teach her to swim to teaching her that she can trust me. Someone might ask, “Shouldn’t she just trust you, you’ve been there her whole life?”Of course, but what will it hurt to show her again? Why not let her see that in everything, she can trust and believe me?

At some point, she will have to make a choice to look at who I’ve been to her and decide to trust me or not, but at 4, showing her that she can trust me gives her more evidence to trust me in the future. When I think about trusting God, we can look at the Bible and our lives and see He has forever been faithful and trustworthy. He proved it, over and over. I need to demonstrate that kind of steadfastness for her.

“I won’t let go until you say I can.” was my new mantra for the day. We still had quite a bit of screaming, but I just got quieter and closer every time she was scared. I’m just like most of you, winging this whole parenting gig, but I’m trying to understand who God wants me to be for her. Somehow, I just knew that she needed me to be close and comforting, and start small.

I put her chin on my shoulder, my hands under her tummy, my cheek against her cheek as she practiced kicking and paddling. When she got scared or nervous about falling, I whispered to her, like I picture God whispering to my heart when I need to hear Him, when I’m afraid, when trusting Him seems impossible even though I know He loves me, created me, knows me inside and out (better than I know myself, better than I know my daughter).

Psalm 56:3 ESV “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

It is easy to panic when we’re afraid. It is easy to be scared. When non-Christians see a believer meet a tough situation with strength and peace, they are often surprised to see such calm. We aren’t calm because everything is easy, but because we know God is trustworthy. He has us in the palm of His hand. God doesn’t promise us an easy life, but he promises us help to live it. He promises to be present for us in the darkest times, to hold us up when the world is trying to drag us down.

It took a long time, but she started to quiet down, to know I was with her. To be able to know I wasn’t letting go and would pick her up if she fell. That first day, we spent most of the time just working on trust. It was really hard for me not to push her to swim on her own, but just to let her get comfortable in my hands. We just did everything slowly, I held her tightly. I let her decide when she was brave enough to let go of me.

From a swimming lesson viewpoint, that day probably looked counterproductive. She did less than she had ever done in the past, but we were quiet, no screaming. We spent three or four afternoons in the pool like that, just gradually building trust, less crying and being afraid. We worked on taking off the life jacket and being more and more confident in the water. She is going to learn to swim, eventually. I would rather it take an extra summer and be a lesson in love and patience, rather than fear.

1 John 4:18 ESV  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

What is perfect love? I want that! I want to have it, to be it.

Romans 5:8 ESV

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God demonstrates perfect love for us in that while we were yet sinners, He sent His son to die for us. He loved us first because He did, not because we were worthy. He loved our children before our grandparents were born. God instructs us, but doesn’t want to hurt us. His instruction is to teach us, to draw us closer, to obey Him, to fear Him in the sense of awe and respect, not terror.

I could have thrown her into the pool. She would have been able to swim enough to pull herself up and get to the ladder. I knew this; she did not. Terrorizing her wouldn’t have made her a better swimmer. It would have broken a trust between us. She would have learned in fear, not confidence. In striving to be more like Christ, more like God, I chose to demonstrate the best understanding of love I have for today and to be patient and gentle, teaching her to trust me.

Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

As believers, we do not live in fear because we know we can trust God, even when life is hard and painful. He is steadfast. Obeying and loving God has given me a peace I never could have anticipated. A strength that I never would have understood with just human understanding. I was a swimmer tossed about by every wave, changing direction, getting pulled under time and time again. Focusing on God’s plan for my life, His purpose for me, gives me strength and peace about my future. I know I’m going to heaven, what else should I be concerned about? Making sure everyone I meet has the same peace and future to the best of my ability and purpose.

She will have to choose her own faith someday. She will have to decide if she loves God for herself, if the Bible is true. Today, I am the person she spends the most time with, the person who is a living demonstration of God for her. I am going to fail at this often, but am growing in my faith daily, which is helping me grow as a parent. I am actively working on reflecting God in all my interactions with her and the rest of my family and friends. Being steadfast and trustworthy in this little way will hopefully be an accurate reflection of our Heavenly Father, holding us, whispering, “I’ve got you” into our hearts when we’re afraid.

I pray that learning to trust me will not only teach her to swim, but to trust God because she could trust me and because I trust Him.

And little by little, she did learn to trust me and to have confidence in herself. Then, just two weeks of swimming (trust) lessons every couple of days, she did what I knew she could all along. She was confident and capable.

We’re still working on floating, but I hold her, and whisper to her, waiting for her to say, “Let go.” But today she swam the diameter of our pool twice without floaties and without my hand touching her. I simply swam beside her and encouraged her to kick harder.

She knows now that I’m trustworthy in this little thing, which will hopefully lead her to trust me in more than just swimming lessons, and lead to a growing trust in God as well.

 

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Be careful little tongue * Part 2

We all know children imitate what they see. From very early days, my daughter would imitate me talking on the phone. Because her daddy deployed when she was three months old, I spent a lot of time on the phone as a new mom with her husband in a war zone. She imitated me by pacing with the phone in her hand, gesturing while she talked, even laughing periodically as if the other person in her imaginary conversation had just made a joke. I was amazed at the depth of the details she picked up about talking on the phone from watching me, before she could even speak.

It was hilarious when we were in the car and someone cut us off, and from the backseat I heard, “Mom, you just drive. I’ll yell ‘DUDE!'” At that moment I was very glad my road rage vocabulary consists primarily of one word with many intonations.

It is not always hilarious when she imitates my less than stellar moments or heaven forbid repeats things that were not meant for little ears or were private moments about private parts. Yes, I did have that Kindergarten KcopCop moment. At speech therapy, she was explaining very matter-of-factly the difference between Mrs. Potato Head and Mr. Potato Head.  Yes, hand slap to forehead after slow motion “NOooOOOoooo” from behind the glass as I listened over the monitor to her speech teacher ask her how she could tell the difference between the potatoes. So much for my dignity. At least her speech therapist had a sense of humor.

I wrote previously about being careful about how we talk to our children, that the words we use will color their views of themselves and the world, that we need to guard our mouths, especially when we’re angry. I wrote that we need to protect our most important audience from the words we use towards them, but the more I studied what the Bible has to say about how we should talk, the more I realized that how I talk to my daughter is really important, but how I talk in front of her and others may be even more important.

Ecclesiastes 10:20 “Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter.”

My little “bird” doesn’t miss much, doesn’t forget anything, and repeats it all. The Bible says, as Christians, we are the representatives of God. My daughter imitates my words and tone, so how I speak in front of her will be how she demonstrates our family’s faith to the world. If my words are loving and kind, even toward people who are not, she will learn to love with God’s love, to empathize with a person’s struggle with sin rather than to judge, to invite people to accept God’s grace.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

If God is making Jesus-fish-2His appeal to the world through us, our witness has to be something we do consciously all the time. One of the ways people will know us is by how we talk.

Have you ever seen someone with an Ichthys fish bumper sticker and then watched them cut-off someone in traffic and vulgarly let the other driver know “You’re #1!” or some other insanely improper behavior and thought, “What a hypocrite.”

I have. In fact, I sometimes am not the most focused driver in the world and am afraid to represent Christ with my driving. My husband teases that my driving is more apt to help people meet God, than invite them to do so. All joking aside, if I’m going to have a bumper sticker, cross necklace, or church t-shirt, I’m going to take extra special care of my witness in those moments. But also, in every situation I could possibly face, I’m someone’s witness, even if just my husband or daughter. I want to guard that witness fiercely. I can’t protect my family from all the garbage the world spews at them, but I can make sure they see Christ’s alternative in me.

Sometimes it is hard to know what exactly our witness should be, what the rules are.

Romans 14:21 “It is good not to . . . do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”

Our threshold for Godly choices isn’t necessarily even what is the “law” of God’s word. Our threshold is literally what might cause another Christian to stumble. If my words are not as pure as possible, I could be leading someone into sin or pushing them away from Christ. I view my witness in public situations as kind of a Hippocratic oath – first, do no harm, then if I can, draw them into wanting to know Jesus.

Titus 3:2 “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

No one looks at someone arguing his/her point in a quarrelsome, discourteous manner and thinks, I want to act like that, or I should totally change my point of view now. It looks ugly and hostile. Jesus very rarely even got loud with people. He just gently presented the truth in perfect love. People either followed or they didn’t.

Spend five minutes on Facebook. You will know that the world does not follow Titus 3:2, and that a lot of people who would claim to be Christians do not act as if they know Him. “Speak evil of no one” is a pretty high threshold, especially when it comes to politics, but if we are known by our fruit, then I want to make sure people see the fruit of my life and are pointed to God.

As the mother of a preschooler, teaching my daughter to use her words and her kind voice with friends or playmates is an exercise in modeling, giving her the appropriate dialogue to express her needs and feelings until she can find them herself. “I am frustrated you won’t share that toy. Please, may I have a turn.” Then, “OK, I will find something else to play with, but I would like a turn soon.” Perfect courtesy is our side of the equation. We cannot control anyone else. We live and demonstrate gentle kindness to demonstrate Christ in every aspect of our lives.

Ephesians 5:1 ESV “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

I’ve realized that I teach my children so much more through what they see me do than what they hear me lecture. If I want them to learn to be Christ-like, I have to be Christ-like.

1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

I am a flesh and blood person who is still struggling with my old nature. I can stop most foul language from coming out of my mouth, but sometimes the first words to come to mind betray the condition of my heart. I also am actively working on being gentle in all aspects of my speech and attitude.

Proverbs 15:4 ESV “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

I think about this verse in regards to my discipline of my children. Can just being gentle in my attitude towards them, without changing the consequences, actually affect change in their hearts? I hope so. I want them to see I love them without loving their sin.

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I want people to notice I don’t fit in. I no longer belong to this world. I’m chosen; I’m being transformed. I especially want my children to notice the transformation the Holy Spirit is working in me. The best way I can think of is the way I talk, letting God tame my tongue. The words I use, the tone I use, or whether I use any at all will speak volumes to my children.

So this is my prayer today . . .

Psalm 141:3 ESV “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”

http://heavennotharvard.com/2014/05/20/be-careful-little-tongue/

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It isn’t the rule that matters

Today, my daughter needed to tell me something while I was in the bathroom. We’ve instituted a rule that if the door to the bathroom is closed, she is to knock before entering and/or wait, unless she has an emergency or something is really important. She’s four, so we give her some latitude with what she considers important (i.e. her brother holding a toad in the living room), but today she by-passed three closed doors to get to me. Opening all of them without knocking. So far she has only done this with me, but the rule is partially in place to avoid her walking in on her father or nearly adult brothers, or heaven forbid, a guest.

She stood at the bathroom door, peeking in at me. “I need to tell you sunthing.” I sat there, trying to decide what to do. Her little voice  was so quiet and sweet.

Was it life or death to make her follow this rule? Part of me said, just listen to her, what will it hurt? It will be faster just to hear her out.

But then I realized, that it wasn’t important to make her follow this specific rule because it was that important of a rule, but because if she doesn’t learn to follow the little rules, she won’t learn to follow any of them.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Despite being a rule follower myself, I realized I’ve been letting a lot of little ones slip around here. Instead of holding her to the rules, I try to be nice, taking circumstances into consideration. However, she doesn’t understand the complicated mental processes I’m going through when I decide to let a rule slide for a single circumstance, all she sees is that she can’t count on the rules, that I’m not consistent.

Instead of being nice, I’m really being incredibly unfair. She doesn’t know how to behave because there is no consistency. The result is a lot of discord and disobedience, frustration and anger. I decided that making her follow every single rule every single time might not be right, but I need to be way more consistent. Teaching her what to expect from me every time will help her feel safe and secure in a home that has structure with logical consequences. If we are our children’s first Bibles, first glimpses of God in how we reflect Him, I need to be as Christlike as I know how to be each day, and part of learning to be Christlike is to be consistent.

Hebrews 13:8 ESV “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He never changes. His ways are all the time, for everyone, even when, in His mercy, He created exceptions to the rules and sent His son to redeem us from the penalty for our sin. All we have to do to know what He expects is to read the instructions ( i.e. the BIBLE). When I finally came out of the bathroom, after ascertaining that her “sunthing” was neither emergent nor important, she happily told me some little adorable animal fact she had seen on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I didn’t have to get upset or raise my voice. I just had to be consistent. This is the rule. This is the expectation. I will happily hear you in a moment, please be patient. She walked away knowing I cared, I want to listen to her, and knowing what I wanted her to do. Wow.

Later today, she tried to act up while a friend was over, throwing a fit over the guest child’s toy. I was focused on our conversation, but took the time to put her into time out, to make sure she was sitting quietly, not shouting at me from the step, then to send her to her room when she couldn’t control herself. She started to throw a fit, but when I counted to three, she ran to her room, sat in her rocker and waited for me to come get her. Being consistent, gently firm, and unwavering helped her understand what I expected and how she should behave. Considering that she went from laying on the floor in front of the stairs yelling that she had no toys to play with to sitting quietly in her chair waiting for me to tell her she could come out, I call that a parenting win. I didn’t have to get angry. Her failure to comply was her problem. I just had to be consistent.

Most parenting experts can tell you, all it takes is ONE exception to an expectation, and children understand all bets are off, whether that expectation is giving up a pacifier or sleeping in his/her own bed. If a parent caves once, children know to exploit that weakness. I’m fallible, I’m weak, but I have to be more consistent because I love her, and want her to know what that means. As an educator, I know I know better, but I didn’t realize how much I had been letting slip in the name of “kindness.” How hard would it be to worship and follow a god like I’ve been acting? I’ve been holding her accountable to a rule, except when I don’t feel like it, then getting angry when the rule isn’t followed the next time.

Thank God for GOD. His law is forever. We can understand who God is and who he calls us to be.

Luke 16:17 ESV “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”

I’ve read most of the Bible at least once, some bits way more times, and some parts, I’m working my way through. But when you put it all together in context, with understanding of the WHOLE scripture and the Holy Spirit, God becomes very clear. He is who He is, all the time. If he calls us to be transformed from the ways of this world into His ways, isn’t being consistent and faithful part of becoming more Christlike?

Hebrews 10:23 ESV “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

God is faithful, always. We can know if we confess our sins and believe, that we are forgiven. We are called His sons and daughters. He gives us that to KNOW, not to hope in or assume, but to know because He is faithful. We understand our responsibility and the infinite grace God shares because of who He is.

1 John 5:13 ESV

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So that we may KNOW that when we believe, when we act in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, that we have been redeemed and saved. Shouldn’t my daughter be able to know who I am, what I expect from her, all the time, or at least as much as humanly possible? and to know thy my discipline is guidance and love just as we know to accept God’s discipline (see Hebrews 12) as it brings us closer to sanctification. 

1 Corinthians 1:9 ESV “God is faithful, by Whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God is our Faithful Father, calling us, guiding us, disciplining us, restoring us in gentleness, being hard when our hearts are hard, but always holding to the same standard, ‘do not sin.’ I have a hard enough time not sinning when I know what the rules are, when the expectations are clear. I feel a bit ridiculous for expecting my daughter to follow fluid guidelines as if she could read my mind, knowing which time I “really meant it.”

Turns out, it isn’t the rule that really matters. It is choosing to have a few fair rules and enforcing them consistently with love, mercy, and compassion hopefully developing a child who knows how to love others as Christ has called us, and yet knows when to question an unrighteous rule because she truly believes something is wrong, not just questioning and rebelling against everything because she doesn’t have a firm foundation.

Matthew 7:24 ESV

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Another day of making sure my actions, my prayers, and my words reflect the words of Christ to teach her to build her life on the Rock because He is always faithful.

Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf
Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf

Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf