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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual parenting’

“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands.  Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God.  Be a person in whom they can have faith.  When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.” 
―    Lisa Wingate

I may be wrong, but it seems most mothers I know struggle in this area.  The demands of family life are limitless.  How can we make time to care for ourselves spiritually, emotionally, or physically when it’s difficult to make it to the restroom a couple of times each day?  Isn’t our husband more important?  What about the kids?

As scripture says, “Consider others better than yourselves.”  Yes, we need to love our husband and children more than we love ourselves.  A wife and mother has an amazing privilege and responsibility to nurture, grow, and serve her family faithfully.  At the same time, we will be ill-equipped to love abundantly and sacrificially if our basic needs remain unmet.

I’m not suggesting a shirking of responsibility, but instead a proper approach and balance toward life and those people God has entrusted to our care.  In the words of Matthew 6:33, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When God remains in his rightful position as Lord of our lives, we rely on someone with unlimited strength and wisdom.  He equips us to meet the challenges of parenting head-on, filled with far more than our limited abilities.  As Paul reminds us, ”

Then he [God] told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”  It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size…I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So, then…what is the most important lesson I’ve learned about love because of parenting?  To love God more.  I need to be full of Christ and the only way I can do that is make him the priority in my life.  Then–and only then–I will have the ability to truly love my children as they need to be loved.

Like Paul, I want to say..let Christ take over!

Action Steps

  • Make time each day to set aside your weakness and pick up his strength.  How?  Begin by scheduling an appointment with Him each day to pray and read the Bible.
  • Pray specifically for your husband and children.
  • Take a break once in a while.  Try to spend 15 minutes each day doing something you enjoy–reading, taking a bath, talking with a friend–and you’ll be better equipped to serve your family with a cheerful heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.   Deut. 4:9

One night–that night–changed my life forever.

From the beginning, it had been a fight for her life.  Within a couple of months of discovering I was pregnant with our daughter, I began having complications.  Restricted to limited activity–a difficult task for a mother with three rambunctious boys–and taking medicine according to a regiment any nurse would applaud, I prayed for my baby. Please, Lord.  Please.

On her own schedule, Heather was born seven weeks too soon–her newborn cry like the mewling of a tiny kitten.  Each breath was a struggle.  For more than two weeks, Heather and I resided in the hushed NICU–the only predictable sounds those of the monitors and desperate parents.

One wonderful day, my husband and I finally invited Heather Grace home.

When Heather was exactly one month old, she lay contentedly nursing in my arms during our pre-dawn snuggle.  Caught up in the wonderful imaginings of tea parties and doll houses, I began nodding off.  Suddenly–as if someone nudged me–I jolted awake.

Heather lay in my arms motionless and unresponsive.  “Dave!  Dave, she’s not breathing!” Thrusting Heather into my husbands capable hands, I began praying.  Please, Lord.  Please.

Her little body on the changing table, Dave checked for Heather’s pulse.  Nothing.  He looked for the rise and fall of her chest.  Nothing.  Leaning toward our daughter, Dave began breathing for his baby girl.

One minute, two minutes.  Help us, God.  Please don’t let her die.  Three minutes, four minutes.  Not our baby, Lord.  Somebody do something!  Five minutes.  “I think she just took a breath.  Did she just breathe?”

Five minutes of eternity.  Five minutes of total dependence on God.  Five minutes–and then a miracle.

How could I not tell Heather about God’s grace, mercy, and power?

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Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on
how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and one theory: Love them,
especially when they least deserve to be loved.
-Kate Samperi

 

 “I hate you and can’t wait to move out!  You’re horrible parents.”

The palpable ache in my chest grew more pronounced as each word penetrated the most vulnerable places within.  How could my son –now nearly grown–regard us with such disdain and lack of respect?  Hadn’t we loved him?  Cared for him?  Prayed over him?

While teenage angst and resentment play a role in my son’s attitude, there is something much more significant at the core of his hostility.  What? Simply a heart of rebellion.  A heart that prefers to go its own way–regardless of consequences.

And how I want to rescue my boy!  My arms are held out awaiting his embrace, but instead I receive the lash of hurtful insults.  Rather than allowing me to sooth the hurts masked by “grown-up” bravado, my son turns the other direction…away from his family, away from his values, and away from the God he knew as a child.

Oh, what a painful place to be as a parent!  Yet, I know the Lord understands.  Again and again God’s chosen people deserted the faithful One to chase after gods made of stone or to indulge the limited pleasures of sin.  They left their Father.  And the lesson of love in all of this?  Despite the frustration and emotional turmoil, I must be faithful to my son–in my prayers, my actions, and expectations.

God does no less for me.

Scripture for Reflection

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  (Luke 15:3-7)

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
Deuteronomy 7:8-10

Recommended Books

Product Details

Prayers for Prodigals by James Banks

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Motherhood would have been much easier if a wiser, older woman had designed a series ofcollege prep classes designed just for expectant mothers as well as confused, more experienced counterparts.  The course line-up might look something like this—Potty Training 101, Night Terrors and Two Year Olds, and Avoiding the Parent Tantrum.  More challenging topics might include Managing Mom Guilt and Maintaining Marital Romance between Diaper Changes and Bad Hair Days.  But, if I had to guess, What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do would be the course certain to fill every time.

When faced with the struggle of not knowing what to do, some of us may turn to our mother or Dr. Phil for parenting advice.   I tend to hole up in the library for long periods of time, research my topic of confusion exhaustively, and attempt to formulate a plan.  The problem?  While I might learn a lot about tantrum triggers or ways to combat sassing, knowledge fails to solve all of mothering’s difficult issues.

One of the greatest parenting challenges I faced recently was the discovery that my little boy suffers from clinical anxiety.  His symptoms?  Extreme expressions of fear, inability to make eye contact, and unexplained melt downs.  In typical fashion, I consumed books until my vision blurred.  Within days, I could list several forms of childhood anxiety and discuss types of treatment.  But, I couldn’t make Seth’s struggle any less real—I couldn’t take it away.

What should I do?  Uncertain of my ability to cope—especially with my dependable, level-headed husband on deployment—I turned to the only One who has all of the answers.  Well-meaning relatives, educated professionals, pop psychologists, and research-based textbooks might provide some direction, but I held on to the words recorded in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace.”  (NLT)

Learning not to worry is more difficult for me than training to be the next Olympic heavy weight boxing champion—and I’ve never even put on a pair of boxing gloves.  But, this verse reminded me that Seth and I could both set down our concerns and anxieties and expect His peace.  The process hasn’t been easy.

It’s taken almost a year of regular, earnest prayer and months of meeting with pediatricians and specialists to finally decide on the best ways to help Seth learn to cope to with his “big feelings”.  But, in the process I’ve decided that the best thing to do when I don’t know what to do is to pray—because God cares about me and my little boy.  Now….about those classes.

 

 

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"He will never leave you nor forsake you."

A link to a recent speaking engagement.

http://www.first-pres.org/index.cfm/PageID/1604

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I loved Sunday evenings as a child.  Our family would gather around the TV set with a large bowl of popcorn and watch Walt Disney’s featured special.  I didn’t care if we saw The Apple Dumpling Gang, Pollyanna, or Old Yeller.  I just enjoyed the sense of togetherness.  The familiarity.

In this fast-paced, long-distance-relationship-world, children (and their grown-ups) find comfort and stability in traditions.    They are the feel-good memory makers that build relationships.  Whether we make pancakes every Saturday morning,  read story books together each night, or go camping in the same little spot once a year, our traditions are part of the legacy we pass on to our children.

Homes may not last and income might dwindle, but a tradition is often passed from one generation to the next.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  Psalm 133:1-3

 Family Tradition Ideas

    • Weekly Game Night-Gather board games, turn off the TV, and have some fun!
    • Date with Dad/Mom-Take each child on a “date” once a month.
    • Bedtime Stories-Does it get any better than snuggles and fairy tales?
    • Mid-week Pizza-Buy a kit, make your own dough, and crank the music.
    • Formal Dining-Light the candles, dress up, and have dinner in the dining room.

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Some days, I’m sure I’m leaving my children with more baggage than a legacy.  Mommy guilt grabs hold and my mind races ahead ten years.  Turning on the television set, I’m surprised to notice one of my estranged children–now an adult–pouring out his heart to the Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil of the decade.  “Join us today as one of the Kennington children shares How My Mother Ruined My Life and Other Ugly Truths.”

Okay.  I’m exaggerating.  But, there are times I think I should be investing in a counseling fund instead of a college fund.

And then, there are the moments when I know I’m being a great mom.  When a feverish child finds comfort in my arms or I’m huddled under a blanket in the icy rain at a football game–cheering between chattering teeth.

An honest assessment of my mothering leaves a lot of room for reliance on God.  As Stormie Omartian says in her book, The Power of a Praying Parent, “The key is not trying to do it all by ourselves, but rather turning to the expert parent of all time–our Father God–for help.”

By nature, I cling to worry and fear.  Only by entrusting my children to Him through daily–and often minute-by-minute prayer–do I find relief from the burden of concern.  Why?  Because I know God’s power is unleashed in the lives of those I love most when they are given to Him.

It’s a continual struggle…trusting….releasing.  But the power of prayer–or, more accurately–the power of the One to whom I pray reassures me.  Baggage or legacy–these children are mine because He intended it.

Verse for Today  “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lard.  Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.”  Lamentations 2:19

Scripture for Study  1 Samuel 1:1-28

Questions for Reflection

  • In what way is God directing you to dedicate your child to Him?
  • How have you seen Him interceding in the life of your child?

Practical Application

  • Make a list of prayer requests (current and future)
  • Pray each night with your spouse or on a regular basis with another parent for your children (Matthew 18:20)
  • Keep praying until you have an answer to that prayer.  (Jeremiah 33:3)

 

 

 

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We can’t all leave a prestigious background or lots of money to visit our children, but we can leave them a legacy of love.                                        -Naomi Rhode

As parents, we all have a dream for our child.  But,  we soon realize our precious child is his own person–uncommonly gifted and  uniquely challenged.  Our dream may not be his dream–or part of the Father’s plan.  As a friend said today, “when parent’s realize their expectations won’t be met then they can grieve the loss of that dream” and can embrace their child fully–for his beauty, imperfections, and potential.

Consider God’s love for His children.  The day it began, there was a hush in the heavens.  God’s breath rushed across the earth and a man began taking shape. First, a vague form.  Then, legs and arms.  Finally, the Man inhaled the garden’s fragrance while a host of celestial witnesses celebrated.  Adam was alive.  Sadly–like the rest of us–Adam sinned.  But as scripture reminds us,  “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without loveLove never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self.” (1 Cor. 13)  And, as the ultimate example of a perfect and unimaginable love, our Father in Heaven gave His own son to atone for our sins (John 3:16).

This is the legacy He has given us–and one which we are told to share with our own children.  Let’s dismiss our expectations and love our children for who they have been created to be.  Forget impressions, accolades, and GPA’s.  Let’s love our children extravagantly.

Verses for Study 

Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren. (Deuteronomy 4:9)

  • How have you seen God act in your life?  Think of specific examples to share with your child/ren.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (Eph. 5:1-2)

  • Make a decision to love extravagantly–not by reward or praise–but through sharing yourself AND the love of Christ.  Does this mean you change your schedule to spend time with your child or, if you’ve neglected spiritual parenting, start going to church together?  List and pray over areas in which you’d like to grow in your expression of genuine love.

Weekend Challenge

Begin the next few days by meditating on the words of Psalm 103:5-7.  What is this scripture teaching you about love?

http://www.youtube.com/embed/oWCbkyR0cy0

This inspiring video is an example of the power of a parent’s love.

  What have been your challenges, thoughts, and experiences as you’ve explored leaving a legacy of love?

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Legacy:  something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past legacy of the ancient philosophers  (www.merriam-webster.com)

I want to leave a legacy for my children.  Not a legacy of riches.  Not a “good” name.  Not even a standard of behavior to pattern their lives after.  I want my children to know how to commit themselves to family, love those who are unloved, and realize their purpose in life.   Most of all, I want my children to grow up in a home full of Christ.  But, how?

Even with all of my good intentions, how can I pass on such lofty concepts when I can’t live up to them myself?  It all begins with sharing the truth of Christ.

Feel free to join me these next two weeks as we explore ways to leave our children with a legacy that lasts more than a lifetime.

Scripture for reflection  Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth, bend your ears to what I tell you.  I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb;  I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths,  Stories we heard from our fathers,  counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.  We’re not keeping this to ourselves,  we’re passing it along to the next generation—  God’s fame and fortune,  the marvelous things he has done Psalm 78:1-4

Recommended books

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