I write these 31 days of devotions, not because I am â€œall thatâ€ or that I have parented perfectedly, but because I am a living example of His grace that is suffiencient for the task of raising children. He has given me a desire to build in our children a heart to enjoy the Lord, to know of of His majesty, and claim a relationship with Him that only God can seal. I have failed in every area that I have stated below, but I can confidently say that Godâ€™s promises are true and that He wants all the glory for raising my children, â€œBut we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;â€ 2 Corinthians 4:7 Let us hold fast to the truth that God will fulfill all the promises that He has written in His Word and we can claim each one. â€œAnd blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.â€ Luke 1:45
1.Sanctifying Christ as Lord in my heart. “How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2 Having a baby is a very spiritual happening. I am reminded that my body is not my own and that I am a vessel for the Lord to use to do His handiwork as He forms a baby! I am a tent, a dwelling place for God’s new creation...His child. As I read through Psalms, I am sobered by the charge God has given to parents. “But lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them.” Ps. 103:17-18
My fear of the Lord, my obedience (doing what is right...righteousness) will affect the future of my children! The reality is is that they will experience God’s lovingkindness, they will be mighty on the earth, and they will be blessed as a direct result of my obedience! This motivates me to sanctify Christ as Lord in my heart, to consecrate my life for Christ, for my child’s sake. A very practical way I apply this begins as early as in the hospital during and after delivery. I take time to journal, pray, and dedicate this baby to God. I choose not to turn on any media or read anything other than the Bible. This is the beginning of a journey for my child and I want the Lord to know that He is first in my heart and I want my child to experience His lovingkindness, blessing and a godly future!
2. Being genuine in my walk with God. “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Ps. 63:1 Seeking God early in the morning, first thing, is a habit my husband and I developed as singles and continue as a married couple. Before I get out of bed I greet the Lord and thank Him for the day and ask Him to help me yield to His will today. When my kids were younger, my initital cry would be, “Help me be consistent in discipline today!” Taking Matthew 6:33-34 seriously, I roll out of bed and place God’s Word first, believing, that “all these things will be added” to me. Over the breakfast table each of our family shares what verse God has placed on their hearts. When our children were younger we would read together and have the children draw pictures, for example, a Proverbs verse, or once in awhile, act out a parable or Proverb. Throughout the day, Bible verses were highlighted... when discipline happened, or when the morning’s verse was perfect to help in responding correctly.
(continued) There have been so many times that I have had to confess sin in my anger, or in my overeating, or in my lack of showing love, etc. but the kids know that these confessions are a direct result of having been with the Lord and His Word. Years ago, I realized that at the end of the day, I had forgotten what I read that morning. This concerned me in my walk with the Lord and shortly, thereafter, in my study of Luke, the first two chapters, I was given an acrostic, CPR. C stands for “connect” with the Holy Spirit, P for “pray” specifically for things today, and R for “Reread” what I had written down. I put in place a 10 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. check-in time to do just that. At the end of the day, I felt like I had connected with the Lord and remembered what I read!
3. Singing - “Your statutes are my songs, in the house of my pilgrimage.” Psalm 119:54 As a young believer struggling to have the right attitude I was told that if I can sing to the Lord it will reflect a heart that is choosing to find joy in the Lord and to obey Him. Singing can open up the opportunity for the Lord to change my attitude, I need simply to yield to this habit. On a car ride or washing dishes or changing a diaper, a scripture song refocuses or redirects my heart to God's perspective.. During the year (2009) leading up to our 30 year church plant reunion, my children and I recorded about 100 scripture songs1 that we had sung in our Great Commission church throughout the years for our worship services. After recording, we put these songs on cd, and played them in the car so that they would remain in our hearts. “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth, my soul shall make its boast in the Lord, the humble shall hear thereof and be glad, O magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name, I sought the Lord and He heard my cry, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:1-4
As I sing these verses I am challenged as to whether I am in the Spirit and finding my joy in Him or choosing to hold on to my fears or attitude. Singing God’s Word has transformed my thought patterns and instilled faith in my life. “Faith comes by hearing, hearing of the Word of God.” Romans 10:17 Since then, I have asked the Lord to help me memorize His Word through song and the Holy Spirit has faithfully answered by giving me a tunes to well over 40 verses. Our children have also taken the challenge of composing songs for verses they are memorizing. This pursuit of learning God’s Word through song, personally and as a family, has affected our hearts tremendously.
4. My heart for my spouse - “Wives, be subject to your husbands... Husbands, love your wives...Children, be obedient to your parents...” Col. 3:18-19 God, spouse, kids...priorities in order. The enemy, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8, attacks especially the husband and wife, which is a reflection of Christ and the Church. My love and obedience to my husband will effect my children more than probably most any other effort that I put forth to be a godly mom. They will learn from me how to respond to the Lord as they watch me respond in a godly way to my husband. Developing a weekly date night since year one, has sunk our roots down deep and given opportunity to catch up during a week full of activity. We can know we will have time to catch up then, if the time has not permitted naturally to have a longer discussion throughout the week. We have to sometimes fight for that daily “How are you?” or “What’s your high and low today”, which keeps us in touch with each other’s busy day. 5 days a week we take 30-60 minute prayer walk that helps us to hear each other’s heart and be on the same page for crying out to the Lord about our family, church family, and the lost.
(continued) Twice a year we plan a 2-night getaway that helps us go deeper. This is a time to talk about our goals for us, for our kids, and for our family, and the world outside our family. The time is divided up to pray and talk through each of these aspects. Hard questions are asked and able to be answered without the elements of emotion, lack of time or interruption. “How am I doing in “this area?” “What would you like me to change in as a wife, mom,..?” “How do you feel about how I am responding to the kids? facial looks? tone of voice?” “Do you want a weekly hospitality night?””What does it look like?” We try to keep on hand a set of questions or develop specific ones for more pertinent situations. This bi-annual occurrence lends itself to finding satisfaction and enjoyment in each other, understanding each other’s hearts, and accountability preparing us to take on the next half of the year!
5. Praying for your children - ”Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him, To turn away His wrath from destroying them.” Psalm 106:23 If there is one thing I want to be faithful in and work hard at, it is bringing my children before the Lord. “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 Throughout the day, I try to remember to lift each one of my children up before the Lord, spontaneously and consistently, know that my prayer will make a difference in their lives, No one, but my husband and I, will think about our children as often as we do, or pray for them like we do. No one knows the intimate ways of our children like we do to be consistently and specifically lifting them up in prayer. Over the years I have had created several lists which I pray through daily and numbered to correspond to the day of the month. This may seem like it would get trite, but our kids are always changing and growing, and I want to be covering them thoroughly and effectively, bringing them before the Lord.
(continued) I have been amazed at the specific answers over the years. One of the prayers says “that my kids would glorify God in whatever life circumstances He gives them, rejoicing always.” There have been health challenges for several of my children and, I believe, as a result of prayer for them, I have been able to witness a heart that is full of faith and joy without blame on God. God has been glorified in their lives. Most recently we do a semi-annual google doc with everyone adding their specific prayer requests.
6. Loving your kids with a smile and words. “The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” Psalm 118:15 Love them with a smile, openly, often, when they don’t yet understand! “I’m convinced you cannot be a better parent than you are a smiler... If you are excited about your children, they will be excited to heed your will. You must see each day as a wonderful opportunity to build into that young life.” Michael Pearl authr of To Train up a Child
As our family grew in size and maturity, we sought out wisdom from those that were a step ahead of us in their parenting journey. They taught me to love my children. One such an example was a mother of nine who admirably exhibited consistent joy and radiance toward her children. I asked into this and she mentioned that with every contact she tried to smile at each of her children, letting them know by her smile how much she enjoyed and loved them.
(continued) This example has spoken loudly to me as a mother of eleven and I have worked hard at smiling at and rejoicing with my kids.They are worth it! "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;” Matthew 18:5 I’ve heard that we are often much more pleasant if we have a mirror to check our countenance. I often take opportunity to look into a mirror and work hard at practicing the smile, asking God to give me strength to rejoice, and take joy in each child!
I have been given the stewardship of raising these children well and how much more I should keep a cheerful countenance with these children right in front of me. I also learned from those older women in my life say “I love you” often and tell them I enjoy their presence and that they are not a nuisance. One godly mother shared, in response to something as regular and repetitive as tying shoes, that she wanted to take advantage of these few moments to let them know she loved them by patiently and kindly getting down on their level to hep them with this.This says “I love you” in such a practical way.
7. Being ALL THERE! - “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:7 Giving my children my full attention and my eye contact is my goal when I talk with them or when I sit down to play a game or read with them. I try to be free from the distractions, though I will multitask and fold clothes, wash dishes or do some cooking. I try not to do anything that may interfere with being able to be available and listen to my kids, i.e. my personal reading will often be put on hold until after they are in bed. It has gotten a little harder to be all there with laptops and iphones always beeping, but I try to listen for those clues that my eyes and attention need to be given to them, and wait on the texting and emails. I want to let my kids know that they are important to me and a joy to be around, my priority, and that I want to be with them. If I can’t give them proper attention, I let them know when I can be fully engaged so that they know what to expect.
(continued)Communicating a desire and a follow-through of that desire is important. This helps give them security that Mom is wanting to be with them but there are things that have to get done, as well. There have been people in my life that have implied, in front of the kids, that they are a nuisance to me or in the way, but I respond loud and clear that I love being with my kids and want them with me. I want to be all there with them ...wholeheartedly and fully! Jim Elliot said: Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God. Michael Pear says,”Hear me again, if children are to blossom under your care, they must fascinate you, captivate your imagination, and provoke you to creativity They must be your entertainment, your favorite comedians, your hobby, and your partners. They are forever your audience, and you are theirs. They should be the future in which you invest all your energy and resources. If you are excited about your children, they will be excited to heed your will. You must see each day as a wonderful opportunity to build into that young life.”
8. Looking well to the ways of our kids. Who else will? “She looks well to the ways of her household...” Proverbs 31:27 Knowing our children’s “ways” and helping them. I try to evaluate where each of the kids is at about every 6 months or as often as I there is need! Being ever aware of what is going on with each child is a responsibility given to me as a parent and I have opportunity to help channel and train these strengths and weaknesses for the days ahead. Asking questions like: What habits are forming? What attitudes are prevailing? What are some mindsets that keep showing up? Are they faithful? Are they strong in faith? I ask the Holy Spirit to make aware as we seek Him for wisdom into their “ways”. For example, there is the child who may be believing a lie or is acting out because of need for attention. There may be a child who may be insisting on too much control of situations and not trusting God to lead, or the child who is not faithful in the little things.These things can be made aware to us by the Holy Spirit but can, as well, by their siblings as they notice them and share them with us.
(continued) My older children have often pointed out sin areas in my younger children’s lives that I should have been aware of and It takes humility on my part to accept these oversights and follow through with discipline with the younger ones. In fact, one of my high school children, when he was about to head off to college asked me if I had changed convictions in disciplining the children. I told him that I had not changed in my heart or mind but asked if my ways did not follow through with this conviction. I went home with renewed vision for being faithful in disciplining. I am thankful for being kept accountable for what I have asked my children to do and have the ability to be consistent in disciplining for bad behavior! As I take time to evaluate my children’s ways, I ask the Lord for wisdom and ability to speak into their lives. I want to stand in the gap for my kids! “Had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him.” Psalm 106:23
9. Biblical reasons to train/discipline - “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” Psalm 119:160 There is a long list of verses that speak to me as a parent regarding disciplining my children. These are amazing promises and consequences to both disciplining and not disciplining, respectively! I want to teach my children to love and accept discipline cheerfully.“A wise son accepts his father’s discipline.” Prov. 13:1 This means to help them accept discipline in heart, mind, bodily posture, countenance, and eye contact. I desire is to help them embrace and appreciate the results of discipline, and not resist the the process of disciplining but appreciating the forgiveness and peace that follows. We have found that our children do not want to carry their guilt but experience just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned, justification. Pray through these.
Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it."
*Proverbs 22:15 "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod correction shall drive it far from him."
*Proverbs 13:24 "He that spares his rod hates his son; but he that loves him is diligent to discipline him."
*Proverbs 23:13-14 "Withhold not correction from the child, for if you beat him with the rod, he shall not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell."
*Proverbs 29:15 "The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame."
*Proverbs 19:18 "Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.”
*Proverbs 29:17 "Correct your son, and he shall give you rest; Yes, he shall give delight unto your soul."
Proverbs 20:30 "Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts."
10. Being on the same page as parents “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3 Dad is “head”, I am following him, and the children, in turn, are following us. It is imperative that I’m on the same page as my husband for discipline and how we function as a family. Children can pick up on disunity and inconsistency of conviction on discipline faster than a cat can turn right side up on fall from a tree. Together we develop a conviction of how discipline will be carried out. Taking time to think through each child and evaluate what character needs or other personal needs is helpful. As a wife, I keep my husband updated on discipline areas that I see need addressing. I mention to him what I feel is needed, especially since I am with the children all day, so that we can both be aware of the same needs in our training. Together we develop standards and family rules, which helps diminish confusion and the amount of requests made, i.e. how often we get gum.
(continued) These discussions help not only to determine discipline in obedience, but what meals and snacks look like, i.e., sweet cereal on birthdays, only one delicacy at church, they cannot buy their own food (we will provide for them). We have developed rules for healthy interactions in our family i.e. no name calling, or use of similes and metaphors used i.e. “chubby as a baby”. We teach them early what percentage to tithe, save, and spend. The more specific of how we want our family to function, the better able I am to carry out my husband’s desires on the homefront. “Disciplines for reproof are a way of life.” and it helps we all know what our standard for our family is!
11. Teach them to respond to commands “cheerfully” I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8 Some things we work toward early on with our children are to look us in the eye, to choose to smile, and to respond with words, i.e. “Yes ma’am”. Having my children look me in the eye is a key component to giving a command successfully but requiring a smile or pleasant response helps expose the heart. My goal, which I can fail at miserably, is to say the command once and expect a sweet, yielded response. Proverbs 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father's instruction And do not forsake your mother's teaching;” I must be ever watchful for complaining words or a fidgety body language which says, “I don’t want to obey”. Do they a sigh at my commands? I am ready to discipline their attitudes just as much as their disobedience to the command.
(continued) Our children can train us to say a command more than once or tempt us to speak with a louder voice than normal. This response is usually a symptom of a child not responding cheerfully or quickly or completely. There are times that when I ask my kids to do something for me and they are in the middle of a project or conversation.”Never allow the child’s attitude to control your expectations, unless it is to cause you to demand more” (Michael Pearl and Susannah Wesley, mother of John Wesley, found of the Methodist denomination) I give them opportunity to appeal to obey my command when they are finished. They may say, “ Would it be all right for me to do that right after I finish this?” To which I reply, “Sure, “ or “No, it needs to be done right now.” This shows respect and honor to them and of their time and person. There is a mutual listening and respect for one another. I also tell my children that they need to be listening for my voice in a crowd. I want them to have this attitude toward God in a crowd. I believe the best way that we prepare our children’s hearts for salvation is by training my children to hear me and ultimately, the Lord.
12. Teach them to obey “completely”, “He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.” Proverbs 10:5 “The precious possession of a man is diligence” 12:27, “He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys.” Proverbs 18:9 There is an hour of opportunity and now is the time. A finished product...whether it is washing dishes, taking out the trash and putting a fresh bag in the can, or sincerely asking forgiveness from a sibling. Understanding my child’s capabilitie, first of all, and having given commands or chores accordingly, I can expect my child to complete the task I have given in an appropriate amount of time. The hardest part, as a parent, is to remember what I have asked my child to do and, to be faithful to follow-through in a timely manner to their unfaithfulness or lack of doing something completely.
(continued) After correction, put ting the child back into the situation is key to training him to complete the obedience. There have been times I have been frustrated with the child’s lack of motivation “to get it done” completely. This could look like complaining or slow work on the job. This should be my clue to discipline. If I have been slack, there is a tendency to stack up the list of “to dos” for my children. If they have gotten behind in their tasks, especially the older child, discipline their tardiness and talk through a plan of the timing of what you want them to complete. I have a responsibility to help them be faithful in the small things, doing them completely, in a timely manner.
13. Teach them to obey “quickly” “He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.” Prov. 10:5 I want my children to obey me quickly because it is a wise thing to do. “The wise of heart will receive commands...” Prov. 10:8 I also want them to obey quickly so that they don’t forget. “I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, even to the end.” Psalm 119:112 To forget is to not make it a priority. I want to help train my children to keep commands at the forefront of their mind so this becomes a habit toward the Lord’s commands. I am either training my children to obey me quickly or to override my will by ignoring or disobeying my command.
(continued) I try to never allow the child’s attitude to control my expectations of obeying me quickly. A child learns quickly when he can delay the process, by asking questions or put up a fuss. If I want them to obey me on the first request, then I must be prepared on the first request to respond to their disobedience. I have the ability to help my child obey the first time. Once I give a command, I must never respond to begging except to cause me to demand more (per Susannah Wesley). I can train my children to be quick responders to obedience or strong willed by letting them ignore, disobey, or change my commands. “I didn’t hear you.” is not an excuse if I am faithful to get their eye contact.
14. Not allowing for tantrums “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children.” Ephesians 5:1 When my children were at the age of tantrums, usually between 1 and 3, We just didn’t let them have them. On their way to the floor I would catch them, literally, in their fall, and, if possible, discipline them right there, or take them back to our room for discipline. It wasn’t an option to throw themselves down in rebellion. As we are now training a puppy, the same is true for them. If you want to keep them from barking, as they start to bark we are to hold their mouth shut to let them know they are not to do that. As the children have gotten older tantrums have looked different. As a teenager, this may come in the form of a conversation that keeps explaining, which is a strong-will that pushes hard for what they want to do. In these situations, I must be aware of my “people pleasing” tendencies and the principles I am working from to help guide their lives. There is room for discussion, but there also needs to be a final decision that may not be in alignment with their desires.
(continued) My kids have confessed this strong push they feel within and recognized their flesh and thanked me for bringing wise guidance, with the help of the Spirit, into their lives. As a friend and mentor has said, “We must win” for our children. I can’t say I have always won. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15
15. Loving your kids “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned” “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ 2 Corinthians 5:21 “This is the 4th time you have done this today!” Years ago I was challenged with this statement and encouraged to view each child’s offense as the first offense he has ever done. I expect no less from the Lord towards me! If I see my children’s sins as compounded and ongoing, I am not giving my children the same response the Lord gives to me that says that I am completely forgiven and my sins “I will remember ...no more.” Hebrews 8:12 There are many positive results when I practice this kind of love. First, my children get to experience a Christ-like love early on in their life and they continue to desire this kind of love. Second, I get to experience peace within, not the anger that builds up over compounded sin. 3rd, my children can expect a mom that is peaceful, not bringing with her a baggage of resentment toward continued sin. This truth is life changing both for you and the kids! “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered…” Psalm 32:1,2
16. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10 I am convinced that God is going to use each small movement toward righteousness or toward growth and development. Singing hymns and spiritual songs at bedtime or learning to play the piano adds to their mental development and brings them to have a heart of worship. Smiling and giving lots of eye contact and hugs and touches throughout the day gives security. Playing catch with a ball and trying to use a bat or kicking a soccer ball around develops a coordination for those sports. At 18 months, with a plastic bat in hand, I told our oldest to keep an eye on the ball. He got the ball and held it up to his eye...small beginnings!
(continued) Giving up a toy for another or giving away some of their candy can be an early practice that helps develop a heart of generosity. Forgiving and hugging after an offense is easier if practiced early. I see field trips as investments for hands-on and visual learning.This allows for experience and vocabulary to be learned before the actual book learning. Board games and card games help children to think strategically and competitively. One of my children was adding and subtracting in the hundreds, possibly thousands, in his head after a summer of Monopoly. I’m just saying that when we read to our infant or sing with our toddler or kick the ball and play catch, we are developing our children for the stages to come!
17. We must hold fast to the promises "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." Luke 1:45 As parents there are so many fears coming at us regarding this new little life we have been handed to raise. As each stage of childhood comes along a new set of fears arises. Praise the Lord there are so many promises we can claim in each of these scenarios. “I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.” Psalm 119:162 Our biggest fear is, of course, that they won’t follow the Lord. There are so many promises about our children and their future of following the Lord, but many are conditional.
(continued) “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” Hebrews 4:2 I want to be the one who holds fast to His promises by faith! Our lives are of great significance in the lives of our children, especially in light of the opportunity we have to believe God for their lives. Our fear, as parents, is a real enemy of our children taking steps of faith. What they interpret in our fear is our distrust or lack of confidence in them as a fellow believer. Another interpretation may come out in “self-fulfilling prophecy”, i.e. doing what we feared. Trust God, trust them and trust their motives as believers. God is doing a great work...just as He promised!
18. Our response to discipline: consistent “The king gives stability to the land by justice.” Proverbs 29:4. Our children respond well to consistent, predictable discipline. Contrarily, if the correction is delayed or substituted with a different type of discipline it may confuse or discourage the child being corrected. It is when they see lack of diligence and negligence on my part, that they become insecure and start testing the waters in disobedience. I must never call sin “no big deal” because I am too lazy or tired to follow-through. I need to be convinced of what I am expecting from each child and match my discipline accordingly. Letting the toddler get away with disrespect or disobedience because they’re “so cute”, is not cute. I must discipline them out of love because I desire righteousness in their life. If a disobedience is permitted, it is more difficult to correct the next time. It’s just like if you let the cat in the door once, it will continue to try every time.
(continued) Remembering that it takes much preparation for our children’s hearts to be developed and readied to receive God’s wisdom, helps me see each offense and subsequent discipline as just part of the process. Foolishness is wrapped and woven into our children’s hearts and we have opportunity to help release this foolishness. Prov. 22:15 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.“ It takes prayer and understanding to carry out justice in the home and this means that I must be “on my game” and get up before the troops to get strength and wisdom from God for the day. Loving and consistent discipline says to the child, “I love you and I am committed to you and to your ways.” There are times that I may need to hold off disciplining until later because of the circumstances, especially when the child is a little older (two years old) and will be able remember. My experience with this is that children desire the forgiveness and weight of guilt to be removed. Therefore, in love I try to practice consistency for their sake. “Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness...” Psalm 37:3
19. Our response to discipline: calm “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” James 1:20 My voice and my body language are important and can either bring life or death. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Prov. 18:21 There are a few things that have helped in my struggle of anger toward my children. One is the phrase “Remember that they are but children”. Keeping a perspective that they are young and needing the guidance and encouragement from me and my husband helps me adjust my expectations of them. Secondly, I check for the underlying reason I am frustrated with my child. Am I asking them to do something multiple times? Do I have unmet expectations that I never really communicated? Are they responding quickly, cheerfully, and completely? Is there something else in my life that is causing an additional stress or irritation? All of these reasons for frustration are ultimately stemming from me and is my problem and not my child’s.
(continued) Lack of consistency or punctual discipline, not communicating expectations, and not answering “quickly, cheerfully, and completely” will lead to frustration. The feeling of frustration is that ‘prompt” that reminds me that I may not be consistent in my discipline. Thirdly, I am reminded that my child’s sin is not a direct offense against me but God, and I have been given the stewardship to bring them up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 Being open with your spouse and your accountability partners about your anger or frustration will help keep you accountable and working toward “calm” . I also encourage doing Bible studies on anger. Memorize verses on anger. Get help!
20. Our response to discipline: caring “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7 As a parent I must remember my child’s natural limitations. Am I demanding something of him that he is not even able to obey because he is too young, or not strong enough, or have the capacity for? My demands for obedience should never be out of selfishness, laziness, or embarrassment. If I am asking a child to give me something just because I am being selfish or lazy, I am asking out of the wrong heart . “Give mom your french fries!” or “Get that book for me!” That example is no example. If my discipline is a response to my embarrassment I am disciplining out of wrong motives. I want to discipline my child ultimately so that they are responsive to the Lord. not because they embarrassed me in public or because of what other’s think of me or my son. My concern for their obedience must be for my child’s eternal status.
(continued) I have learned to be thankful for my child’s disobedience and for the opportunity it gives to train and instruct. I praise God that the child is still in my care and I can discipline for sin area. “You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” 1 Timothy 2:10
21. “Give me your heart, My Son, and let your eyes delight in my ways” Proverbs 23:26 Years ago someone challenged me with the thought that my kids should be excited about the very things my husband and I are excited about and to believe God for this. In a world where everyone is free to choose what he believes and do anything he wants to with his life, we are challenged and commissioned to “make disciples” and to “follow Me”. A question I ask myself, “Am I doing what I want my kids to be doing?” Do I realize the impact I have and can have on my children as I take my role as a child of God seriously? I am ever-watchful for the kids’ response toward me and my husband, for this often is a direct reflection of their attitude toward God and His Word.
(continued) We have thus far sent our children to public school in 9th grade, with the option to decide individually whether we have the heart of that child. We also keep careful watch after they enter school for any changes in their heart or atttitude toward us and are ready to bring them home if we see them loving the world more.(f1 Corinthians 7:31) Knowing I can be lifelong partners with my children in the Gospel for Christ is very exciting! I want them to love what I love and delight in Christ and follow me! I want them to observe what God is doing in my life and to desire the same thing for their lives.
22. Talk of His amazing works -
“Consider her ramparts; Go through her palaces, That you may tell it to the next generation.”, 78:5-6 “For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children,That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children”. Our family often talks at the end of a day of what God has done for us and we rejoice together, giving glory where glory is due! Our rejoicing may be over minor victories i.e. getting a good parking spot or a good deal at a store, or even more exciting as getting to share the gospel with a new friend on the bus, as did happen today!
(continued) Recognizing that all good things are from Him keeps our hearts looking up in thanks and remembering that God is intimate with us in the smallest details of life. “” “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” Psalm 103:7 Praising God and giving Him thanks for what He Lord is doing are high priorities in our conversation and prayer. Talk of His amazing works. Remember often what God has done and tell your children. Recognize the intimate ways God meets you in the day and share this with your children. Our goal is: "Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children.” Psalm 90:16
23. Sharing your walk with God. “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14 Bring God’s Word into everyday life. Share your quiet times and share how you are applying it to today’s struggles. We are not perfect, praise God! Our children do not want perfect examples but examples of humility and teachability to the trials God brings into our lives as parents. What the day brings forth is not always your bright, sunshiny, nor everything-in-its-place! We experience the result of the curse with its thorns and thistles and have opportunity to share the life-giving truths God reveals to us in our daily quiet times to help us trust Him through these. My daily goal in the Word is that I would be satisfied in Him and to trust Him to intimately share a truth that day that will be just what I need to hold on to.
(continued) There are many a day that life feels like an uphill battle, but together we stop and pray, or share what the Holy Spirit brings to mind from my quiet time. I am so thankful for the gift of desperateness for Him and His Word that we can give to our children. We can be a living example of the power of His Word in our daily lives. “Faith comes by hearing, hearing of the Word of God.” Romans 10:17 This is my prayer: that my children will look to the Lord and His Word for whatever life’s circumstances bring to them on a daily basis.
24. Our children’s greatest enemy #1: the world “and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.” 1 Cor. 7:31 The world calls for their heart, their mind, their strength, and their soul. Oswald Chambers says to “make a habit to have no habits” in chemicals, food or drink.” I don’t want them to be attached to anything is this world. Ultimately, we want childhood attachments, blankets, toys, food, to be transferred over to God so He can meet their needs. (Phil. 4:19) So what can we do to guard our children from the world? Michael Pearl, author of “No Greater Joy”, states: “Your child’s last line of defense against the incursion of the world is to hate the world and love righteousness.” He goes on to say, ‘You must cause the child to see the rewards and blessedness of righteousness.” Knowing this, we have a responsibility to prepare our children’s hearts to love righteousness! This implies our need to discipline for the sin in their lives and help them love what is good. “Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless, But wickedness subverts the sinner.” Prov. 13:6
(continued) Praying and fasting for the lost, my children. Helping our children to seek Him 1st. Getting them involved in morning devotions at an early age and, later, helping them develop their own quiet times and encouraging them to share them. These are foundational. Some practicals also involve keeping them from getting to attached to things in this world. If ever I saw a trend that the kids’ friends, in general, were super attached to, i.e. Pokemon, or movies, especially ones that had sorcerers, we paid careful attention to stay away from those toys, books, or entertainment. Sometimes my choices meant not knowing about the popular trend of the times, but I want my kids to be naive to the things in the world and have no attachments.
25. Our children’s greatest enemy #2: satan “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8. Satan is out to devour my children. The devil is a person just as real as God. I try to teach them to be aware of this deceitful, death-dealing presence in our lives. He is not as powerful as God, but he is just as real. D. L. Moody says there were two reasons why he believes the devil exists as a real being: (1) The Bible says so. (2) I’ve done business with him. There is a whole set of false doctrines, a false belief system, that satan, I don’t even like to capitalize his name, has contrived for us to build our thought processes on. “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy...” John 10:10 God and the Christians in our lives are not the enemy!
(continued) Truth, the Word, is our 2-edged sword to demolish these false structures. Memorizing Bible verses, even at a young age, gets this truth into them and is a powerful tool for our children. Our typical plan is memorizing a verse a week, a plan my husband established at the beginning of the year. Summer projects that we have attended have also boosted our memory work, usually memorizing 5 verses a week. The helmet of salvation will protect our minds if we get it put on. ”Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”Ephesians 6:11 “...in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
26. Our children’s greatest enemy #3: the flesh. “If you do well will not your countenance be lifted up, And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Gen. 4:7 Our children’s worst opponent to their countenance is their flesh! If my child’s countenance is downcast, I wonder if they have been disobeying in any way. If they are at an age of reason, I encourage them that it may be sin in their life and all they need to do is choose to obey. I must be courageous to help them fight their flesh. Sin is bound up in their hearts and it must be dealt with. "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child;” Proverbs 22:15 Starting at a young age, I discipline my children for selfishness. This is such a blessing for my child. A memorable mental image of selfishness is a child, is of one of my nephews, at the age of 2, standing in front of his closet mirror pracitcing his favorite word at the time, “Mine...Mine...Mine...” and trying to get the best facial look and sound.
(continued) It is bound up like a rubber band ball, made up of hundreds of rubber bands tightly wound together, and one by one we are removing a band as we discipline them for their folly. People are not naturally good at the core, but rather, “as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;” Romans 3:10 and it is my job as a parent to act accordingly in helping them fight the fight of the flesh. I wrote a scripture song to Eph. 6:10-18 and have taught my children this, hoping it will be helpful in putting on the full armor of God daily to fight more effectively.
27. Giving our children the tools, “But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16 Christian disciplines,.. the Word, prayer, giving, fellowship, etc. need to be taught and it gives my children a foundation to fall back on in the days ahead. My husband is good at creatively getting God’s Word in their heart first thing each day. Some things we have done to develop a habit and love for God’s Word include reading the Southwestern Family Bible Library. It is a 10 volume set that tells the Bible stories so well and asks really good ‘heart” questions. There was a time when we had the children write and draw a Proverb and we made a book of Proverbs with their drawings. The SOAP (scripture, observation, application, prayer) method is a more recent addtion and helps them draw conclusions on their own (or with our help). Reminding them of Matthew 6:33 and the promise that “all these things will be added to you,” is a common exhortation out of my mouth.
(continued) Teaching them the Lord’s prayer, praying spontaneously with and for them, praying in ‘set’ places (car, on walks), making lists and asking them what they are praying for and having them write it down in their journal. Teaching tools on how to handle money the children make early on, tithing 10%, saving 50% (until they are 16 years old), and spending 40%. This gets them in the habit of giving God a percentage of their money and encourages them to watch for how God will bless as they give back to God. Getting our children involved in ministries at church, at least one, helps them feel a part of the church family. God has given us His full armor as a tool for our safety. “Do not despise the day of small beginnings” in any and every Christian discipline that lead them to knowing Him more!
28. Helping my children choose a heart of thankfulness and praise. “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Helping them be thankful has been one thing I can do for my children to know they are in the heart of God’s will. Our children will have challenging things in their lives...broken toys, food they don’t like, friends who hurt them, health problems, and if they don’t learn a heart of gratitude for what they do have, their focus will be skewed and miss out on all the benefits God has given them (Psalm 103 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;”) A tempation is to choose to blame God for all the bad things. I desire for them to learn early on that God is a good God and that, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above.” James 1:17. Teaching them that thankfulness is a choice, I often have them think of or write down things of which to be gratefu!
(continued) There are many benefits of being thankful and I want my children to experience these. Thanksgiving breaks the power of the enemy and brings them in the presence of God. “"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23 Those daily salvations, not speaking of the one-time eternal salvation, are available. Jonathan Edwards (1746/1959) claimed that the "affection" of gratitude is one of the most accurate ways of finding the presence of God in a person’s life. Christian gratitude is regarded as a virtue that shapes not only emotions and thoughts but also actions and deeds. “To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:17 Gratitude has been said to mold and shape the entire Christian life. Martin Luther referred to gratitude as "The basic Christian attitude" and today it is still referred to as "the heart of the gospel." “I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it, And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.” Psalm 53:6
29. Not allowing for teasing or name calling. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 This general rule has saved our children’s long-term sibling relationships! There are no past hurts of name calling or teasing. If there are any slight hints of putting another down or derogatory metaphors or similies, we simply disciplined for it. “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 If they are going to say anything at all it is going to be building. Our older boys have been a major part of building our daughters’ self-images. Their sincere words of “You are beautiful” or “That dress looks amazing on you” has built a confidence and security that no other person could have done as well. Our children trust one another and can be confident that there will be no cutting words or teasing about some aspect of their body or accomplishment. In encouraging positive sibling relationships, this is the one thing I promote most.
30. Missional family: “God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us, That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.” Psalm 67:1-2 My children need and want something bigger to live for! Early on in their lives they can observe how I am considering the lost world, in my prayer life, as I hand out my personal tract, as I purposely put sharing the gospel into my schedule, or as we utilize our home to have people over to win them to Christ. Over the years we have actively helped them be a part of the Gospel. They have prayed with us for the lost in the car on our way to soccer, or as we walk around the neighborhood, or on our way to “purposed” opportunities in the gospel. We have helped them feel prepared to share the Gospel by taking them through the Outreach Training Class, a 13 week class of how to share the bridge diagram written by Ron Tewson, memorizing verses used in sharing the gospel, and helping them learn how to share their testimony.
(continued) They have written personal testimony tracts to hand out. Allowing them to experience the power of the gospel in people’s lives, seeing God come through to observe someone passing from death to life, whets our children’s appetite early on in life to live missionally. There have been so many times that a person put their trust in Christ when my children were with me. I can almost expect it to happen! I believe God wants my children to observe salvations to whet their spiritural appetite for more, so that they in turn want to see it happen. We have a dinner table tradition that incorporates sharing our testimonies when we have guests over. The guests play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and the winner shares his/her testimony (some spiritually significant moment) and the loser shares their most embarrassing moment.
(continued) After the guests share, they pick one of us to share our testimony and another to share a most embarrassing moment. One of the younger kids shares the rules: “No profanity and keep it under 30 minutes”, of which everyone gets a laugh. After the testimony the family gives a “thumbs up” rating. This habit has allowed the children to know their testimony and share it often. The children seeing my heart for the lost through prayer, handing out a tract, observing me share the Gospel, or providing opportunities on the homefront are all ways of increasing their appetite to be a part of a bigger vision for their lives.
Other missional examples: Helping our children think through whom God has placed in their lives to influence and joining with them to pray for them helps our kids look for opportunities. We have had movie nights with “gospel testimony” intermissions where our children printed up flyers and went around the neighborhood or handed them out at a sports practice inviting friends. Writing the names down in the back of their journal and praying for these friends keeps them more alert to the opportunities at hand as God provides. As soccer season draws near, we start praying for the team and their parents. Our kids have appreciated being envisioned for a greater work than just playing soccer and as a result have had some amazing opportunities to not only share with their teammates, but their parents as well! Purposing a day of the week that the kids are able to have friends over, i.e. Friday night “game night” allows them freedom to invite ahead of time or spontaneously and builds that foundation that is often necessary for the gospel.
31. Teenagers: “For I have no one else of kindredspirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.” Philippians2:20 I haven’t spoken very little about the teenage years. If we do our job well in the early years, our expectation can be that, as teenagers, we have disciples running alongside of us. God is faithful to do His part in capturing our child’s heart. As they learn to place themselves before God I can be confident He is completing the work He began in them (Philippians 1:6). I have seen each of our children doing “business” with God in their high school years. These are the years they evaluate what is their faith and what is our faith, the “coattails” they have been riding on. They often look to their older siblings for that example and input when they are struggling in faith. When they do sin, I can approach them with the Word and treat them as a fellow believer who wants input and reproof in their lives.
(continued) One such scenario happened in the area of music. One of my teenagers was listening to a fun, secular love song when I walked into the room. I approached her as I would a growing Christian, with “Are you sure you want to be listening to that as opposed to listening to worship music or a scripture song?” I appreciate her heart. The response first was defensive saying that this type of music was rarely listened to. After a few minutes, the teenager responded with what had been read in the quiet time about listening and learning from those who are older and expressed that desire again to me. God wants to build in our children and I can believe that He is doing that work and come to them knowing this. Fear for their lives and lack of trust do nothing for a teen. Confidence, believing the best, no fear, and trusting in the Lord spurs them on.
Biblical Prayers for Children
"Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace" (Psalms 144:12).
1) That God would draw them to Himself at an early age, the kids would develop intimacy with God (Psalms 78:5-7,John 3:3, 6:44).
2) For them to obey and respect authority, (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1), Listen to Dad and hold fast his words. Prov.41-10, 5:7
3) For their moral purity and accountability (Psalms 119:9, Proverbs 5:7-23; I Thessalonians 4:3, II Timothy 2:22).
4) That they would be protected from the deceits and schemes of Satan “Put on the full armor”, “Put on Christ” “Put on love” Put on the New self. (Ephesians 6:10-11, Colossians 3:10, 14, Psalms 91, Psalm 125:3, 1 Peter 5:8).
5) That they would know and love God's Word (Psalms 119:9-11, II Timothy 2:15, I Peter 2:2).
6) That they would glorify God in whatever health or life circumstances He gives them; rejoicing always
(Philippians 4:4, I Thessalonians 5:18).
7) For them to be wise in the wisdom of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7, 2:1-7,Eph. 1:17).
8) That they would have and be a special friend (David and Jonathan-I Samuel 20).