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Are You A Mirror Kind Of Mom?

mirror and woman

A RECENT CHILD CORRECTION SESSION in our home went something like this:

Mom: “Please don’t talk to your sister like that.”

Child: “Okay.”

A few minutes later:

Child: “That puzzle piece doesn’t go there! DUH!”

Mom: “I asked you not to speak to your sister like that. Please stop.”

Child: “Okay.”

A few minutes later:

Child: “You never get it right! You’re no good at puzzles.”

Mom, growing frustrated, in the middle of something and not wanting to stop: “Step away from the puzzle and go play with something else. I’ve told you and told you to stop speaking to her in that way.”

A mirror kind of mom does what I did: She brings the child’s attention to his waywardness.

{This is like holding a mirror to the child’s face and letting him see that he’s got lettuce between his teeth.}

I haven’t had much success with “mirror mom” parenting. It produces much frustration in me (and problaby in my kids too) and breeds escalated emotions. 

So I prayed for help. I needed some divine help in getting back to some basics of effective parenting.

God brought James 1:23-25 to mind. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”

I thought, “BINGO! That is how I’m parenting! I am holding the mirror to my children to show them what their “natural man” looks like.”

{Turns out, I am very good at showing my children their moral failures. The child, in turn, acknowledges their error and then goes right back to it.}

But as James points out, it is not “hearing” that causes us to be “blessed in all we do.” (see vs 25)

The word of God acts like a mirror. It tells us what is right and what is wrong, and when we train our children to see themselves according to Scripture, they are able to see themselves as sinners and separated from God.

This is necessary… but incomplete. James teaches that we can train ourselves and our children to move beyond fault finding, navel gazing and introspection to laying hold of the freedom found in the pages of scripture…because looking at ourselves in a mirror can never change us, whether we are 5 or 55!

We must actually do it…we must pick the lettuce out from between our teeth. We must guide our children to look at the Word in such a way that they are motivated to abide by and be transformed by it…and James tells us step by step how:

“But the one who looks intently”

 The word for “looks intently” (parakupto) means “to bend over and carefully examine something from the clearest possible vantage point.” This indicates a deliberate and conscious choice to get down and dirty if necessary in order to learn.

A parent who corrects her children this way stops what she’s doing instead of just throwing out commands. She makes a choice to stoop down, look carefully at the core issues, and deal with them according to…

“…the perfect law, the law of liberty”

The word here translated “liberty” is elsewhere always translated as “freedom.” It is essential that we see the laws and the precepts of God not as a task master but as our very freedom! {See Psalm 19:7-11}

A mirror only kind of mom exposes the error in her children but never moves to the freedom part.

One commentator says, “The law that gives freedom seems like a paradox. Law seems to imply restraint and therefore a lack of freedom. Not so with God’s law. His perfect law provides tree freedom. ‘Hold to My teaching’, Christ said, ‘then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32

Are you a mom who portrays God’s law as positive and beneficial or as negative and punitive? Use God’s law to bring liberating life.

“And abides by it…becoming an effectual doer”

The last phrase indicates process. It is a long term commitment to incorporating any given principle into one’s life and character.

We are not talking about perfection here but about perseverance.  The mom who parents this way uses the tool of “re-do,” where the “crime scene” is re-inacted. But this time, with Mom’s coaching using the law of liberty, the child does the right thing; he makes a good choice; he speaks kind and edifying words.

Putting it all together, it looked like this for me: I made a commitment to STOP, LOOK, and ABIDE, in accordance with James 1:23-25.

I committed to STOP what I was doing when I heard my child speaking unkind words.

I then directed my child to LOOK at I Thessalonians 5:11. Together we discussed the Bible taught they had the power to encourage and build up their sister! Wow! And they did such a great job of doing this when they tried. This is the perfect law of liberty at work. It nourishes the soul.

Then I committed to ABIDE, to keep doing this each time it was needed, re-inacting the crime scene, only this time with good coaching and support from Mom for a better outcome.

We can be mothers who train our children to build lifestyles of transformation around the perfecting precepts of God.

James says this mother, and her children, “will be blessed in all she does.”

So…STOP, LOOK, ABIDE

Will the Levee Hold?

THE CAULDRON OF HOME LIFE BOILED OVER and I spilled too, making a mess and scalding little hearts and I wondered when I will ever get it right.

Evening came and so did the storms again, one right after another. We huddled together on the couch, listening to the sirens screech their warning and sang “Your Name is a strong and mighty tower….”

When the kids could stay up no longer, we put them to bed and risked turning on the computer to check the news.

“There’s been nothing like this,” they said, “one system after the other, with no breaks, no rest, no relief.”

From Mississippi to Ohio, the question’s on everyone’s mind:  “Will the levee’s hold?”

We can sandbag and pitch water with a pail, but we need those levees. We can minimize the loss, we can replace broken windows and clean up debris, but we need those levees to hold.

I finally fall into bed, storm tossed from the inside out, teary eyed and worn. I wonder how much more I can take of these storms that have been stretching one after another. These storms our family has been weathering going on four years now.

“Can You hear me, God?” I ask, and laugh at the absurdity of it. “Really hear me? Because I don’t know up from down anymore. I don’t know right from wrong, I have no idea what to do.”

Lightning flashes bright through the wood blinds and thunder shakes the light bulbs in the vanity. I beg a few hours sleep before my shift starts again.

In the morning I drive oldest to school. He is strangely quiet, except to ask, “Why is it so dark, Mom?”

“The storm clouds are so thick son, it blocks the sun. The beams can hardly get through.”

We pass by ponds swollen to overflowing, trees knocked down, see broken car windows.

Storms do their damage. Boiling cauldrons burn straight over.

We drive by the lake with the overflow tanks, the tanks that have been pumping water under the road to the back up pond for weeks. Even the overflow is backed up, unable to handle anymore. The water laps the edge of the road, hungry to devour pavement.

“Much more rain and this road is going to flood. They’re gonna have to close the road down.” I mutter it to myself. I feel my own backup tanks overflowing. I feel the flood waters lapping at the edges, the panic rising of being swept completely away.

I feel the maxed overflows and the stressed levees and the storms that won’t stop coming and the sirens that won’t stop screeching.

I wonder how much more I can take. I wonder if the levees will hold.

I drive home, back over the road that gets closed an hour later. I think of the white picket fence Christianity I had for so long. Oh, it looked good, girl. It looked good.

Then the storms started and pushed that thing clean over. There is nothing cute about me anymore, and maybe I’d mourn the loss except losing that version of Christianity wasn’t a bad thing…just shocking for others who looked at me and expected to see the white picket fence, perhaps.

As I ponder these things, open and bare before God, hidden no longer behind cute facades, I hear His voice, a rumble deep within, quite unexpectedly.

“Your levee’s gonna hold, my girl. Your levee’s gonna hold.”

And He opens my eyes and I see so clearly the storms of testing, the tearing away of all worthless, the strengthening of the Foundation.

The Levee’s gonna hold.

The storm may leave some tossed trees. The overflow may max out, the boiling cauldron may spill over every now and then. The living room may flood and the roof get torn sheer off.

But the Levee’s gonna hold.

They call at 10am, saying roads are impassable and schools are closing. It was inevitable.

But the Levee’s gonna hold.

Right there in the middle of the storm, mingled with torrent of rain on a few inches of soaked soil on a planet spinning in perfect orbit, a few salty, grateful tears.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the Rock.” Matthew 7:24-25

 


Family Radio Theatre

Since I’m not talking serious stuff today :)

Focus on the Family is airing a Radio Theatre of Little Women, one of my favorite books.

Gather the children around and listen to the episodes here for free {you’ll be glad you did}

Smiles and Hugs, my friends

31 Days to Clean (Arabah’s Take)

I figured out yesterday how many homes we’ve lived in since we’ve been married.

Over the past 17 years, we’ve moved on average every 11 months. That’s not counting temporary residences, which happen at least once a year.

{Can you hear a big, huge sigh of exhaustion?}

Yes. So when we talk about homes and things, I go into “pack up and move out” mode. The adrenaline starts flowing and I don’t particulary care for the feeling.

I don’t even have photos on my wall anymore. Coffee tables? No. Holiday decorations? No.

{We prefer holiday celebrations that are edible. Ahem.}

So it’s no big suprise that along the way, I sort of gave up on trying to keep a super clean home because really, is it worth it? But I have noticed that having a clean home really helps my spirits and keeps me energized (plus it’s good practice for the kids to help clean.)

So I thought I might have more success if I had someone to coach me through this thing a bit at a time and Sarah Mae’s ebook looks to be just the thing. Here’s the deal: each day’s task is DOABLE. You don’t take on an entire room in one day. You take one little piece, like dusting the tops of cabinets and fridge one day and steam cleaning the bedroom carpets another.

I can handle that.

Plus, you have Sarah Mae’s jazz to get you going. She’s your personal coach :)

Each day she talks about things common to us all, like personality and how to make it work for you, laziness, priorities, feeling overwhelmed, and the like. She includes the $25,000 piece of advice given to Charles Schwab and surely it’s worth a try?

So the bottom line is…I’m joining in on the May challenge. This little e-book is a great tool and doing it in community with other women is even better! There is plenty of time for you to join in too! You can get the book here and join the challenge here.

Maybe it will even inspire me to hang a photo or two?

Um, I’ll let you know…

Why Friday made all our days “Good”

“If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to offer a male without defect. He must present it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.”

“God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…a ransom for many.”

“No one takes it from me, but I lay my life down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again….I will love them freely.”

“The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me.”

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God…to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.”

(Today’s morning scriptures from “Daily Light on the Daily Path”)

During Holy Week, When Children are Anything but “Holy”…

I go get her up from nap.

I’m all smiles, she is not.

I ask her to go use the bathroom before coming to kitchen and she does… she goes into the bathroom and urinates in her pants.

When I find her in there, standing in front of the toilet… wet… insolent… I am immediately irritated.

She’s done it to spite me, this child resistant to grace.

“Why did you do that?” I ask her, running on my irritation, leaving the Spirit behind.

She stares at me dark, hard, hostile. Silent.

I step out, overwhelmed by a sudden sense of my own foundations. I grew up in a home where religious parents were never pleased. I believed God was like that too. And I’m suddenly aware of the false god I just might be representing to her.

Of late, my prayer has increasingly become, “Lord, show me how to parent this in a manner in keeping with Your character.”

All my life I reckon I’ve struggled with understanding God. Perhaps I always will… at least now I’m aware of the struggle. In a world of jarred chords and evil strains, I’m letting the CROSS be my middle C.

I leave her in the bathroom to finish while I go outside, pick up toys before I mow. I hear from my Father. “Do you understand Me now?” He asks. “Do you know why I’ve forgiven, not according to your acts of righteousness? Do you understand it’s because of My name’s sake?”

There it is, a beam, and I follow it. Harsh judgment is deserved…but judgment never reflects the true nature and disposition of our God.

Words of displeasure, shame, condemnation, punishment…all of these we deserve for sinning against a Holy God. And He can and should dish them out, teach us a lesson we won’t forget….

Except that those things don’t reflect who He is at His core…gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness.

These things are His glory.

And He is pleased to reveal it to us.

It is in such stark contrast to the punitive version of God I was raised with. Yet for all His right and reason, He desired not to act in a way that our insolent rebellion begged for…but in a way that makes known His glory. So He “demonstrated His own love for us” and acted in a manner in keeping with His own character.

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:9-10

And in so doing, the true nature and character of God was revealed.

Could this be the root of our parenting questions, our consumption of resource after resource, our apathy for the lost, our search for “the something that’s missing?” This deep confusion regarding the true nature of God?

He is good. He is grace. He is love.

He invites me to bask in it, believe it, drink it, take it and live. Live!

And then He tells me something strong and clear. He tells me to reflect it.

“I’ve chosen you for this purpose,” He says, “and you are to honor Me as I am, as I reveal Myself to you.”

I cannot live the way I always have. With each flash of divine revelation into His true nature and character, I am to make lifestyle changes that are in keeping with His revealed nature. This is what it means to “hallow” His name.

I bend the knees to such a high and noble calling in life. To sanctify His name? To reflect His glory? To be His witness? Me??

I go back in to little girl sitting on toilet.

I hug her close. I look deep into her eyes, I stroke damp hair away from her face. I ignore the odor of urine.

With a heart full of the Glory, I show her God.

 

 

“Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”

“And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the Name of the Lord before you…

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.” Exodus 33:18-19, 34:6

 

 

**I am working on a study of sorts to take my children through over the summer. It is learning and discussing the names of God and how we can allow a deepened understanding of Him to change our actions and behaviors.

Although I became a believer at a young age, I had to “start from scratch” as an adult in my understanding of God and I began by studying His names. After several years of study, and seeing it  affect my life profoundly, I deeply desire for my children to “hallow” His name, not just know a bunch of facts about God. This study will take my children through 10 major names, includes daily activities centered around the Name’s meaning, and practical application of the Name to our daily lives.

{Example: The name Elohim, Creator God, meets our deep need for significance, purpose, value, and intrinsic worth.}

I *hope* to share it here on the blog as we go. Please pray if you think of us? I sense the Spirit of God moving in this… You can join in by subscribing to this blog here.

When the way is dark…

…and all’s unclear,

When stormy chaos ushers in fear,

When He, my Lord, seems far away,

I will find my Anchor stays.

For He alone knows the way that I take

and He alone can make no mistake.

When He has tried me, I’ll come forth as gold,

for His word says His riches unfold

as I trust in the Heart that birthed redemption’s plan

and rest in the Savior’s nail scarred Hands.

He knows the plans He has for me

when I am tossed about on stormy seas.

I can choose to fret and  fear,

or I can choose to believe He’s near.

I may be in a hard place but I can still make a good choice: trust God.

“No one whose hope is in You will ever be disappointed.” Psalm 25:3a

Scriptures to anchor:

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”

Job 23:10 “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Jeremiah 1:12b “..I am watching over My word to perform it.”

Psalm 25:3 “No one whose hope is in You will ever be disappointed.”

When Children are Beyond our Reach

{Someone needs this post today}

I have four children, the oldest is nine. I’m not a seasoned mother. I’m very much in the trenches, doing and messing up and learning.

Yet already I feel my oldest withdrawing, questioning, pulling back, thinking he knows everything already. At nine.

I’m concerned. I’m a mom.

The questions start: “Is this normal? What does this mean? Is it serious? What can I do?”

Then I’m in the kitchen one day cooking, listening to Luke online, chapter by chapter. Above the din of bickering children and spilled legos and general chaos, I hear this:

“Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow… when the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her…“Young man, I say to you, arise!”And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” {Luke 7:12-15}

And it strikes me that ours is a God who returns children, even grown ones, to their mothers.

Again in Luke 8:49f, Jesus gives a daughter back to her parents and in Luke 9:42 it says, “But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.

Sons and daughters, daughters and sons, dead, possessed with evil, unable to save themselves, Jesus redeems the lives of our children and “gives them back” to us again.

I am reminded of the greatest, most significant thing a parent can ever do: Get our children to Jesus.

Just like the father who searched Jesus out with a plea for his son, so we can “with prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Because we serve an awesome God who demonstrated to us His willing delight in returning children to their mommas and their daddies.

Easy Peasy Family EV

Ever since my oldest could talk, he was sharing the gospel.

It wasn’t something we taught him and I often wondered how it happened~ smiles ~ but then I realized he was simply saying a handful of phrases that my husband and I constantly shared with others ourselves. Things like, “Have you ever heard of Jesus before?” and “Do you believe in God?” and “God exists, He really does!”

As missionaries in a communist, atheist country,  we always sought to open spiritual conversations with everyone we could. Sharing Jesus was a way of life.

Then God blessed us with 3 more children in 23 months and things changed. Suddenly, I was at home… ALOT. And my girls weren’t getting the exposure to sharing Jesus that my son had. They weren’t seeing me being missional and I missed it!

What to do?

Click here to read about a fun, simple idea that you can use too!

Learning to Live All Over Again

I saw the pictures today… how he just welcomed his new son… how he transferred to a new hospital… how he is learning to live all over again, this time without legs.

I can’t pretend it didn’t ache.

I can’t pretend I didn’t wish for things to be different; I wished those boys had a Daddy who could chase them and lay on his back and flip them on his knees, like my kid’s daddy does.

And I wish the burden just a bit easier for the family and thousands and thousands of families the world over crushed by a fallen, sliding world that we can’t keep in orbit.

But wondering how the world can carry on doesn’t in fact help anyone.

Calling on the One who spoke it into existence and sustains it’s every blade of grass, who changes earth’s inhabitants like a garment, who sees the gazelle giving birth in the secret place and the sparrow plummet and Who carries each of His beloved ones to their dying day… drawing near to Him helps.

Because when I press against His heart, I hear something. I hear steady. I hear calm. I hear no crisis.

I hear complete confidence from a God in complete control who creates something from nothing and who calls Himself Love.

We are safe.

Somehow, Jake knows this. Somehow, he believes.

Somehow, he found his way close to that Heart before the ugliness of his circumstances told him to despair.

Wait. Maybe that’s just it. Perhaps that Heart told him there is no ugly. Just a dark glass that we look through that distorts things, giving the appearance of ugly. And Jake chose to believe.

Will I?

To read about this incredible young man, Jake, click here: Jake’s story
For Jake’s most recent photo’s, click here: Jake and Family

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