Help Other People Love Your Kids

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I love little children.  They are cute, funny, spontaneous and full of faith.  But there are times when that love for youngsters can be tested.  A favorite “old story” at our house happened many years ago following the Sunday night church service.  A visiting family was going to be staying the night with us.  There were two or three little ones, I can’t remember exactly, but the memory began just as we were unlocking the house for entry with our guests.  Their little guy, about 4 or 5 said to me as he was pushing the door open and scurrying inside,

Hey Lady, where’s the toys?!

What ensued afterwards was little ones running through the house, overturning toy boxes and chests, emptying their contents and having the most fun a child can have while in a stranger’s home and discovering new treasures.

This was a whole new experience for me, and I’m sure I needed a lesson in graciousness, but all I remember was the sigh of relief when the battle of toys and home was over and we were left with the quiet dust of the invasion the following day.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE children, and I try to always have things on hand for little ones to play with, but the issue came when the parents seemed too relieved to have their children busy with something other than needing their attention (or so they thought).  They were pretty much oblivious to the destruction and havoc that their offspring brought to a complete stranger’s household.  I’m sure those children were precious and I know Jesus loves them, but me?  I wasn’t feeling it.  Oh, I don’t want to sound harsh, but it was like the invasion of enemy troops.  Our home was open territory.  There were no restrictions, no guidelines from the mom and dad, no parental looks that give a warning without words, saying, “Stop what you’re doing.”  No, the children were on their own, and we were put in a place where we had to step in and draw the line in the sand. Ugh.

Every parent gets weary of the day-to-day demands, the need to correct and rein their children in, but taking time to let down your guard is not only dangerous, it’s putting other people in a very uncomfortable situation.  It’s making it hard for others to really love your children.  You see, it puts them in the place that only you belong, Mom (and Dad, if you’re reading).  Someone besides you will be the one to have to say,

Please don’t step on my feet; that hurts.”  

“Could you please play  with the trucks outside,  instead of on the coffee table?”

“Children can get hurt if they climb up on the ladder in the store; you really better get down, .”

“My bedroom is off limits.  Could you please come out and play in the family room with the rest of us?”

Step up, parents and make your child a blessing to be around by guiding them before these scenarios cause someone else to need to speak up.

Often, parents watch their children being the “wild child” and think it’s cute, or that they’re just “doing what children do,” which is true, but Scripture says,

Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. Proverbs 29:17

They act that way because they have an old sin nature, and God gave them parents to give them guidelines and restrictions, to teach them what is acceptable and what is not.  So how do you help others love your children?

  • Talk to your children before you leave home or before guests arrive.  Tell them what you expect in simple 1, 2, 3 format.  They need to know what you’re expecting of them, what is okay and what is not.  For instance, 
    • When we get to Mrs. Jones’ house, please stay in the same room I am in.
    • I have brought a bag of toys for you to play with, so there will be no need for you to touch anything at her house.  Play with those unless Mrs. Jones offers you something at her house to enjoy.
    • If you need to speak with me while Mrs. Jones and I are talking, come and put your hand on my arm and I will acknowledge you, but wait until then to speak to me or I won’t hear what you’re saying.If you’re going to a store or restaurant, the same principle applies.
    • You must stay in your seat while we’re at Cheddar’s.
    • You may not climb under the table or change places with someone else.
    • I have a snack for you to enjoy while we wait to be seated and served.
  • Don’t ignore bad behavior at home and then expect your child to be obedient in public times.  Deal with the situation.
  • If you ignore your children fighting or misbehaving and the people you’re with don’t seem like they notice, don’t be fooled; they notice.  Deal with it.  This is another area that should be addressed beforehand. They should know what the consequences will be.
  • Practice good manners at home.  “May I please?”  “Excuse me…” “No thank you.”  Table manners, speaking manners, greeting manners – they’re all important and can make the difference between a child who is learning manners and one who is demanding and rude.

I began with a sour example, let me end with a sweet one.  I’ve had many opportunities to have children in my home for one on one time, meals with their parents and even overnight.  One family had several little children, both girls and boys.  They looked to their parents for the go-ahead when desiring to go outside, ask for a toy, or enjoy a snack I provided.  They sat at the table for meals, obeyed when their parents stopped them from poor behavior, were thankful for any small gesture that was done, and responded sweetly when either of their parents had to correct them. Were they perfect?  Of course not.  There were messes to clean up when they left, but they were done so with joy.  Oh, and they left something behind – love in our hearts for each one!  They made that so very easy, thanks to the loving leadership and training that came from their mommy and daddy.

Moms, I’ve been there with my girls when they were home, even dealing with some very embarrassing situations, but every parent needs to ask the Lord where we need to do a little more training, a little more teaching and preparing so that the presence of our family will bring a smile and a heart full of love because they got to spend time with our children.

Refresh others by allowing your children to be a blessing.

What makes you love being with someone else’s children?

With nothing but love and care,

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Keeping Children On the Peripheral

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Many homes today put the children at the center of the home.  Everything revolves around them, their wants, and their preferences.  Of course when you have a baby in your home, you have no choice but to make them the center.  But often we fail to allow them as they grow to move farther away from the center to the peripheral.  Let me explain.
In the book, The Disciplines of the Home by Anne Ortlund, Anne makes a statement I had never heard, but totally agree with and have taught in principle:

In the home, children should be on the peripheral.”

She goes on to say that if children are at the center, when they are removed, there is a huge gap in the husband/wife relationship. Do you think it’s remotely possible not to make your children the center of your home?
How does one go about not putting them in that place when they require so much time, attention and discipline?
Anne didn’t detail this point, but here are my thoughts –
  1. The children shouldn’t dictate what is going to happen in your home. “I don’t want to go to Pizza Hut for supper! I want to eat at McDonald’s” It’s not that they can’t make the choice sometimes, but when Mom and Dad have made a decision, it should stick.
  2. Mom and Dad need their own time. Children sleeping with their parents should be a rare occasion. Bedtimes give Mom and Dad an opportunity to talk, spend time together playing a game, or share a snack.
  3. Parents need a date night. Don’t let the children’s cries keep you from leaving them occasionally. Let them know you’re going away to make a better home for them.
  4. As the mom, recognize your husband’s needs and make sure you’re meeting those before doing extra things with/for your children. Are you always jumping up to do something for them, and don’t spend time just being with him?
  5. Be sure you’re spending your recreational times together as a couple and not making it the norm for one parent to be running here with one child, and the other taking another child there. Be a family.

We all know that children have many needs – especially when they’re little, but the tendency is to keep allowing them to be needy and being the very center of the family’s circle where the parents ought to be.

Take a good look at the circle of your family; who’s in the middle and who’s on the peripheral? Does there need to be a change?

 

With love,

Training Children To Sit and Participate in Church

Children can do some really funny things in church.  When I was teaching the five year-old Sunday school class I remember asking my students how we get to go to heaven. A little girl raised her hand confidently. Her answer?

Die.

That remembrance still makes me laugh!

Sometimes, though, the things children do in church aren’t so funny – especially if you’re the parent.  I’m not sure if there’s anything more stressful or humiliating for a parent than trying to teach their little one to sit quietly anywhere, but especially at church.  Your child gets fidgety and talkative just the time there’s a need for quiet, right?  We’ve all been there, and I want to encourage you that there is hope!

I’ve blogged about this before, but I just felt the need to rehearse a few ideas about teaching your child to sit through a church service.

  • Train them. Talk to them before you leave home.  Tell them what is going to happen when you get there.  Remind them that you’re going so you can worship God and learn more about him!
    • Will they be going to Sunday school?  Remind them that you’ll be back to pick them up.
    • Tell them what kind of behavior you expect from them while they’re in class.
    • Will they go to Pastor’s Pals or up front to sing with the children?  Prepare them for what you expect.
  • Fortify them. Feed them a nourishing breakfast to hold them over through the service time.
  • Equip them. Pack a bag to take to church.  Keep it only for church times and fill it with quiet books, crayons, etc. that will help them to listen if they’re old enough.  They could draw a picture of something pastor is talking about.  If they’re older, they might have a special book to write down important words he hears in the message.
  • Help them. Don’t bring or give them sugary drinks or snacks – you’ll only be making it more impossible for them to sit still!
  • Reward them. I read about one mom who played the “Seat game.”  After training her two children to sit quietly in church, their mom told them they could sit one row in front of the parents next week since they’d done so well.  Each week that they obeyed and sat quietly and obediently, they all moved up one row.  Eventually they were seated on rows two and three!  You obviously couldn’t do this with really young children, but it would might be a great incentive for school-aged children.
  • Discipline them. If your child misbehaves, don’t wait for it to get better and stay in the service where they’re causing a ruckus! Take them out immediately and deal with it, and deal with it in a way that they won’t want it repeated.  If they get to go out and run around the foyer, they’ll learn that this is more of a reward than a punishment!
  •  Model for them. Encourage worship.  By your example of engaging in the singing and worship, teach them to follow your lead!  Sing!  Pray!  Open your Bible!  Take notes!
  • Praise them. Be sure to review the service on the way home.  Applaud their good behavior and obedience!
  • Warn them. Deal with the disobedience and use it as a teaching tool for the next service and warn them about what will take place if this happens again.

Training, training, training.  This must be consistent and loving.  It also really, really helps if you attend regularly.  Sporadic attendance will lose any training!  When this is every week, several times a week, they’ll get it!

This takes time, of course, but you probably won’t be getting called to their classroom nearly as often for behavior issues!  Instead, the teacher will pull you aside to ask what you’re doing at home that’s made such a difference. Oh, she may also tell you about the hilarious thing your child said to her in class that day!

Stay at it!  You will make it!

With love,

Firm, Fair, Fun Parenting

This week I want to continue on with the parenting series in the form of some encouragement.  I know it can be difficult and wearisome when they’re small.  Teen years can seem to last forever with attitudes or questions about your choices.  Even the adult years of children can be challenging and stressful.  For that reason, we all need to have a biblical view of parenting – from the beginning to the end.  Let’s dig in and get some good advice from God’s Word to keep us faithful to this blessed call of building our children for the glory of God!

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Obviously parenting is a daily responsibility, and sometimes it can get overwhelming.  Other days it’s discouraging because the children don’t seem like they’re “getting it.”  We then fall into a disheartened mode which also influences the rest of our family.

May I encourage you on your parenting road today?

I heard a preacher recently say that in parenting you need to:

  • Be Firm
  • Be Fair
  • Be Fun

All three are needed.

Be firm – Say what you mean and then follow through.  Don’t promise a spanking for disobedience and then not carry it out when you get home.  That kind of neglect takes a  huge amount of effort to undo.  If you’ve set a curfew for your teen, expect them to honor it.

Be fair – Too often we hit the first one strong and hard.  We’re firm.  “No!” “No!” “No!” at every request, every attempt the child makes, at every word they say.  But stop and ask if you’re also being fair.
What does “being fair” entail?  Being fair requires really listening. Proverbs 18:13 says,

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it,

it is a folly and shame unto him.

 Did you hear your child out completely before you answered them?  Do you understand where they’re coming from?  Or did you cut them off? If the teen was late for curfew, let them speak before you discipline.  Hear them out.  There may be a viable reason for their tardiness.   If we’re wise, we will obey the Scripture above and hear them out.  Let them know you care about what they have to say and that they are worth listening to.
Be fun – Lastly, we need to take time out for fun.  If things are stressful in homeschool, drop the books and do something just for fun!  If there’s been tons of stress in relationships, add a dose of something everyone will enjoy.
  • Go on a picnic for lunch.
  • Build a fort in the backyard.
  • Eat ice cream sundaes for supper.
  • Go shopping for sunglasses with your teen daughter and have lunch at her favorite place.
  • Learn to laugh – long and hard with your children
  • Isn’t it easy to scowl?  Let your kids see you smiling- and at them!

Firm, fair, fun.  If those words don’t describe your parenting, ask the Lord to help you incorporate the needed areas into your home today!

Which of these three areas is hardest for you?

With love,

Preparing a Child’s Heart To Know Christ

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I’m thrilled that gardening season is here!  Each day I enjoy going outside and tending to each potted plant, window box and flowering bed.  I pull off dead blooms, fluff the tender foliage so it will hang beautifully over the edge of the pot, and then give a gentle showering of water so it can soak into the roots, adding growth.  From time to time I also add Miracle Grow – a plant food that speeds up the growing process and makes sure the plants are healthy.  The results are beautiful!!

As we’ve talked all week about a child being saved, every one of the steps above, regarding tending a plant, could be applied to bringing a child to the place where they understand their need for Jesus Christ to be their Savior.  We need to harvest the garden of their hearts so it will be their early understanding that they are sinners who are in need.

Making the plant application, let’s look at a few practical ways that parents can help their children get to that point early on in life.

  • Pull off dead blooms – This involves seeing that something is in their life that shouldn’t be and literally “nipping it in the bud!”  =)  When they disobey, for instance, we don’t overlook it or redirect their attention to a “better option,” NO!  That sin must be dealt with in a biblical manner.  Even from the time they’re very young they should understand that obeying isn’t simply making mommy a happier person – obeying mommy means you’re obeying God!  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Galatians 6:1  Teach them that simple verse by saying it each time they disobey you.

    “Disobedience is sin.  Each time you disobey Mommy, you’re sinning against God.  But God loves you.  Let’s ask Him to help you obey.”

    Using God’s Word as your guide, teach the child that what they’re doing is sin that makes God sad.  “You needed a Savior so God sent Jesus to die for your sin!”  You don’t have to preach a message, just those simple statements about God’s holiness (you didn’t say it that way, but that’s what you’re teaching) and His love, points them to their need for Jesus when they sin.

  • Fluff the tender foliage.  Encourage any tenderness the child shows towards their sin.  Let them cry, but then comfort them and remind them that God loves them and so do you, and God wants to help them NOT sin.  Any time they want to move forward in an invitation, or they ask questions in family devotions, encourage that!  Listen.  Answer their questions. Be supportive!
  • Give a gentle showering of water to encourage growth.  Sprinkle truths about God, His Word and the application of it through everything you do each day.  It’s far more meaningful to see a mom live out the Gospel each day and share out of the overflow, than to occasionally get a “lecture” every now and then from an inconsistent life.  Consider:
    • Let thankfulness be in your words about God’s provision for your groceries, your home, your clothing…everything you have.
    • Point out the beauty of God’s creation when you are outside.  Speak Scripture – “The heavens declare the glory of God – Hey kids, how does that sunset tell about God’s glory?”
    • Speak about what you learned in your Bible reading and how it applies to what’s going on at that moment.
    • Whenever there is a need, stop and pray.  Show your child that you’re dependent on God in every situation. – If you see an ambulance or a car accident, why not pray for those involved? If they’re anxious about a test they’re headed into school to take, stop and pray before they get out of the car.
    • Be living out the Gospel by sharing it with others when you’re out, when people are in your home and at church.  Your children need to see your example of a Christian who is a follower of Christ.
    • Read Scripture with your child.  I love the idea of reading the psalm of their age every night of that year!  Most psalms in the early chapters are very short, so I imagine that both you and your child  will have it memorized before the year is out!
  • Add some Miracle Grow – Make sure your child is regularly in places where they will receive extra doses of the Gospel outside of your home – Sunday school, church services, revival meetings, Youth group, youth activities, and Christian camp.  Don’t send your child to church services – go with them.  Then send them on their way to the extra outings, praying that the Gospel will be proclaimed and their heart will be tender.

Tending to my plants is messy and daily.  My hands end up covered with dirt, and if I neglect their care, you can only imagine the ugly results!  The same also applies to the tending of our children’s spiritual needs.  It’s a daily discipleship that is often messy and inconvenient, but the results aren’t just for a summer of glory – it’s for eternity, and it’s such a blessing to be a part of that! This is our heart as parents, is it not? ~

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.  III John 1:4

God is the One who will bring the fruit.  We just need to be faithful to plant and water, then leave the results with Him.

What are you doing today that will point your child more towards Christ? 

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What If Your Child Doubts Their Salvation?

You get in bed after an exhausting day and just after you get all cozy, your front door pops into your mind and you can’t remember if you locked it or not.  What will you do?  If you’re concerned about your security, you will step out of your comfortable spot to get up and check the lock.  It’s normal; we may have all done it at one time or another.

Your child was in your home and their young heart realized they were a sinner and they needed a Savior.  While your heart beat wildly with joy, you opened your Bible and showed them the verses in Romans about their sin,God’s love, what they deserve, and how to gain eternal life.  Then, in simple, child-like faith they prayed to receive Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf so they would have a relationship with God and a home in heaven.  And you never forgot that day because it was one you’d prayed for since the day they entered your world!

However, one day, in their teen years they went to a Bible preaching summer camp and heard a message about salvation that Christ offers, and about hell for those who refuse.  They have a foggy recollection of that decision they made when they were very young, but they’re unsure, and who wants to wonder if they’re ready for heaven?  They walk the aisle and make a decision to be saved.

Photo Credit – The Wilds

When they get home from camp, they share their decision with you and you’re startled.  What should you do?

  • First, remember the need for security and assurance.  If they had a doubt about their salvation, wouldn’t you rather they “check the lock” than to wonder about it all their life?
  • Rejoice with them.  Assure them that that’s the wisest decision to make because eternity is too long to regret.
  • Humble yourself and resist the urge to say, “I was the one who led you to the Lord!” Or, “I know you’re saved!”  It’s easy to feel a punch to our pride and feel wounded that we didn’t do a good enough job, but we must think the truth – we don’t do the saving!  Christ does!  If they’re doubting their salvation, then they don’t remember it.
  • Encourage them to record this decision in their Bible or journal.
  • Follow through with teaching them verses on security – for example,John 10:28 and  I John 5:13. Also teach them I John 1:9 – that when they sin, they haven’t lost their salvation, but they’ve lost fellowship. They need to confess the sin and forsake it to regain fellowship with the Lord.

Should the fact that a teen or adult might need to check the security of their decision urge us to discourage a young child from being saved?  Of course not!  It shows their tender heart.  They may never doubt their decision!  But if they do, let them “get up and check the door!”

One more thought here – let’s imagine that the doubting comes to your child at home and he asks you about it and wonders if he is really saved?  What should you do?  Rather than telling him what YOU remember about he day he trusted Christ, I would encourage a child in that situation to go ahead and make sure.  It won’t hurt to let them pray again!  Then, again, as above, teach them about eternal security we have in Christ, and remind them  of all Jesus did for them on the cross and His resurrection that assures us of ETERNAL life.

Has any reader needed to check your salvation’s security? 

Have these posts brought up any other questions about bringing your child to Christ?

Lovingly,

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What’s Wrong With With Waiting Until a Child Is Older To Be Saved?

“My five year-old has been asking us so many questions about salvation, and about asking Jesus to forgive their sins, but we’re putting him off right now, because we want to make sure he’s ready.”

I have heard that statement so many times and I can’t tell you how it saddens my heart.  I understand that the parent is fearful that the child won’t remember what he has done, and may have doubts later on, but as I mentioned in an earlier post here, I don’t have a problem with that at all.  Read the post to understand why.

However, I have three reasons why I believe it IS right to allow a child to pray to be saved when they bring up the need to you.

  1. Jesus said, Suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not. Can it get any clearer?  Don’t hinder them from coming to Christ!  Bring them!  Encourage them to do so. You will be obeying Christ’s command.
  2. A child’s heart is soft when they ask to be saved, but it will harden as they get older.  Why run the risk of them turning away from the Lord?  What a tragedy it would be for a parent to put a child off who is asking to be saved, and then the becomes desensitized towards their spiritual need!
  3. The sooner a person comes to Christ the longer they have to serve Him!

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Think of two candles, one very long and the other very short.  The long candle represents a child and the short, an elderly person.  Often when we have an older person saved in a service we have a huge time of rejoicing, which is definitely worthy of joy to see this heart finally yielded to Christ!  But when a little child gets saved, it’s often given a little nod.  But think of those two candles.  That short candle, representing the older person only has a little time left to “burn” for Christ.  The child, however, has their whole life to make a difference for the Lord in this world!  That reason in itself should make us realize the urgency in bringing little ones to the Savior!

I trust this helps every adult who can influence a child to have a heart for little ones coming while they’re young!  Let’s obey Christ’s command, do it while their heart is soft, so they can use their whole life to serve God!

If you know a parent with little ones who might need this encouragement, feel free to share this article on your Facebook account or Twitter.

Lovingly,

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