Ingredients for Kids Part Two…

Baking Day 4

(FreeImages.com/LynnCummings)

I was contemplating baking again and ingredients…

It struck me that most recipes call for both sugar and salt.  They may seem to discount each other, but in reality, they add a different dimension to the taste of the finished product.  They are both needed.

They remind me of the importance of adding in both truth and grace to our parenting, along with justice and mercy.  Both are needed for the finished product.

It’s also interesting that most recipes call for more sugar than salt.  That is a good reminder that our kids need a lot of kindness and grace, along with our doses of truth.

Children turn out well when a lot of love is poured into them.  Want a sweet finished product?  Add in some generous heaps of sweetness.

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What Is Our Identity?

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(FreeImages.com/BSK)

As I was studying I John chapter 2, I was amazed once again by the depth we see in Scripture!  The topic of identity has been greatly on my heart because how we perceive ourselves is how we will live.  This is why it is so important that our thinking is truthful when it comes to how we see ourselves.

As a Christian, I know that my identity is in Jesus Christ!

Who He is is my position and also is what He is revealing, transforming within me (because of Him).

The following verses reveal the nature, the premise, the foundation, and the purpose of our identity:

1 John 2:10-15

10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Their Spiritual State

12 I write to you, little children,
    Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
13 I write to you, fathers,
    Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
    Because you have known the Father.
14 I have written to you, fathers,
    Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
    Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
    And you have overcome the wicked one

1. First, we need to know that we are forgiven.

The forgiveness Jesus offered to us at the cross frees us from Satan’s and sin’s dominion.  Sin and Satan no longer have authority over us because Jesus defeated them at the cross.  This means, Satan has no authority to condemn or accuse us.  We do not need to listen to his lies/false accusations.

2. Second, we have “known the Father” is emphasized several times.

The point being made is that we need to know our Heavenly Father.  Children will often talk, walk, eat, and have similar personalities and even posture to that of their parents.  The same is true with us.  We need to know our Heavenly Father so we pick up on the “family resemblance” and know what it means to be a “Christian.”

Who we are is completely tied in with who He is.  We need to know our Heavenly Father so we can understand better who we are.

3.  Third, we need to understand that we can overcome the evil one.

“God’s truth had a place in their hearts.  And that truth made them victorious in the spiritual battles they faced.” (from Community Bible Study on Christian Living)  God’s truth illuminates the “darkness” and strengthens our faith, keeping us rooted and grounded.  We can overcome by understanding the authority we have in the name of Jesus and in the promises of God’s Word.

4.  Fourth, the Word of God needs to abide in us.

The Word of God will give us insight into our Heavenly Father, into our inheritance, into our standing as His Beloved children, into His promises towards us, and into right thinking in order to have our thoughts transformed by the light of His Word.

5. Fifth, we need to understand the new natures we have been given as His children.

In First John 2, the young men are told that they are strong.  This reminds me of when God called Gideon out and called him a mighty man of valor when Gideon was actually living in cowardly fear.  Once God called Gideon into his new calling and into his new identity, Gideon actually began to live out the truth of what God was actively creating within Gideon.  The same is true with us.  God calls us “children of light” and calls us His beloved.  He says we are overcomers.  It is our inheritance and our new natures to overcome, to live victoriously, to understand we are forgiven, and to understand that Satan and sin no longer have the right to have authority over our lives.

What does this new nature look like?

The distinctive characteristic of God’s true children is the love that they manifest and live out towards one another. 

To walk in light/truth means that we are walking in love.  The truth/light can only be correctly discerned through the eyes of love.  Authentic truth/light is never separate from love.

We receive abundant love from Him that we in turn pour out on others.

A Letter To The New Mom…

Momma and baby 2

(This is a revision of a letter I recently wrote to a new mom.  I decided to post it as I am sure that there are many new moms that are feeling overwhelmed and may need this encouragement today.)

Dear New Mommy,

I remember those early days with three little boys, ages 3 and under. I tried so hard to put on a brave front, to be cheerful, patient with my boys, and hopeful, but I remember at times, I was screaming on the inside.

How could I meet all of their needs — when they needed me all at the same time?  They were too young to understand the need to be patient and to wait.

I didn’t know motherhood could be so incredibly difficult! I didn’t know it would bring me to the “end of myself” and would make me wonder if I would ever find myself again — whoever that might be.

BUT GOD…

God was not immune to my struggles…

Later, I asked God about those dark days. I asked Him with trembling and tearful words, “God, where were you when I felt so alone?” God answered me with this picture of me sitting in the rocking chair, holding my two babies (a time I remember very well when I felt so alone and overwhelmed). I was not sitting there alone though because what I didn’t realize at the time was that He was there, right there with me, and holding me. My little boys and I were cradled in His arms.

I asked God about this picture He was giving me: “Lord, I have a great imagination. How can I be sure this is You and not me?” God then brought these words to my mind, “As a mother comforts her children so I will comfort you.” I looked it up, and sure enough, there is a verse in the Bible that mentions this.

Isaiah 66:13: “As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you…”

These days are overwhelming, but as a mother who has been through a lot of the same struggles, may I tell, “You can survive.”  

Why?  Because you have courage, a heart of love for your kids, and you have a God who does see, care, and hear. He doesn’t ask you to walk this alone. His grace truly is grace for the moment…

Someday, you will look back on these days, and you will remember the lisping voices of your toddler, the toothless baby grins that melt your heart, and the inquisitive questions of a child that believes you know all the answers to the universe.  Someday, you will truly know that it was all worth it.  Yes, even the most soul-wrenching and physically-draining day was worth those moments when you had the privilege of being someone’s mother… to hold the heart of a child within the embrace of your arms.

Hugs, dear one…

A Date With My Son

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We were months “late” on our promised date, but the time had finally arrived.

The weather was absolutely perfect: very low humidity, if any.  Sunny, blue skies and white, fluffy clouds.  Highs around 80.  It was the kind of day that was perfect for being on a lake or going to the ocean.

I suggested to my date that we paddle-boat at a lake in the area.

We grabbed my date’s favorite meal at McDonalds and then headed to the lake.

Once situated in our boat with life-vests, we began to paddle out from the inlet into the wide-expanse of the lake.  Our attempts to paddle to the right met with a lot of resistance so we steered instead to the left.

We took several “selfies” of us on the lake.  My favorites were of the sun glinting in the natural highlights of his hair, his head resting on his folded arms behind him, his big grins, the lake sparkling in the sunlight, and of the two of us together with wind-blown hair, smiling happily.

My favorite moments were when we were paddling furiously back to the inlet to return our boat in time to pick up kids and realized that we had to paddle against the current to return to the inlet.  At one point, I wondered if we were going to make it back or run out of steam.  My legs were burning, and we were paddling furiously but making little progress.  It was then my date said, “It’s a good thing you have me along because I have lots of energy to burn.”  Oh the delightful richness of laughter…!

Another great memory was of us splashing each other while we made it back into the inlet, all hot and steamy from our furious paddling.  There was so much sweetness in those moments — simple fun on the lake, physical exertion, candid conversation while we paddled out to the large expanse of the lake, enjoying the beauty together, working together to return to shore, laughter, and happy play as we splashed each other.

My date didn’t say a lot, but what he did and the look of contentment on his face told me everything I wanted to know: he’d enjoyed himself and enjoyed our time together.

We don’t get these times of uninterrupted one-on-one time together very often, but I am thankful for when we do.

I can’t freeze time, but forever in my heart will be these memories, framed in the love I hold for the precious people in my life.

Thanks, Son, for sharing a special day with me!  Thanks for helping us get back to the shore!  Thanks for your beautiful heart and your desire to do what’s right and good!  Thanks for the laughs and splashes!  Thanks, Son, for helping to make this journey of life so rewarding!

I love you!

Afraid Of My Children… Part One

Recently as God was dealing with me in the area of fear, He began to reveal specific fears I had.  I knew I was a fearful person in many ways.  It started when I was quite young.

As a child, I can remember hiding behind my mother when meeting strangers.

I remember crying when I had to get my first job.  I know, sounds silly.

There is nothing silly about fear though. 

Fear is very real and very powerful in the way it affects our lives.  It can cripple our living and hold us hostage to its impact.

I struggled with fears about storms, loved ones dying, disease, financial ruin, growing old, you name it…

One of the fears that I began to recognize I had and that God wanted to help me overcome was the fear of my children.

Yes, I was afraid of my children.

My guess is that I am not the only parent who struggles with this, and that’s why I am writing this blog…

It began soon after my first child was born.  All of a sudden, the reality of life “hit me in the face” when I had a newborn who began to display a temper soon after birth.  He was not happy when he had to wait for my milk to “let down” in order to guzzle his dinner as quickly as he wanted.  I quickly learned tricks to settle him down so he could nurse, but I had already begun to feel like motherhood was not so easily controlled as I had envisioned. 

That lack of control was not only something I feared, but my “need” for control was also indicative of a fear problem.

Becoming a mother personally was a bit of a rude awakening.  I had held this “Cinderella” view of motherhood, and the reality just wasn’t like the fairy tale dreams.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a mother and I loved my son, but parenting was so much harder than it looked watching everyone else raise their children.

Then came the birth of my second child.  I had two little ones, born 16 1/2 months apart, and they both were so needy.  I was exhausted, was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated hypothyroidism (for the first several months), and began to feel incapable of being a “good” mommy to these two little boys.

Fast forward a few more years and a few more kids.  The challenges kept increasing.  I would seem to figure out a new technique for each new challenge, and then a new one would present itself.

With some challenges, it didn’t seem to matter how many techniques and methods and principles and advice I heard and read.  The challenges didn’t seem to diminish or even to be improved effectively.

I became weary of bad or ineffective advice.  I became weary of my own inconsistent and/or wrong application of good advice.  Each new thing I heard seemed to be another “nail in my coffin” when it came to my role as a mom.
I felt like one big “failure.”  I also began to fear my children.

You fear what you can’t control, and you try to control what you fear.  Vicious cycle!

There are a lot of you reading this who think that you have never “feared” your children.

Fear though manifests itself in different ways.

  • For some, fear takes the role of victim.  The victim feels hopeless and helpless and unable to ever succeed.
  • For some, fear takes the role of critic.  As the book, Freedom From Fear, says, “The Critic never feels good about himself or what he has done.  He is discouraged and defeated even before… [the fear] hits.”
  • For some, fear takes the role of the perfectionist.  As the book, Freedom From Fear, says, “They never have any peace of mind because they can never achieve perfection.  Their overwhelming need to accomplish more and more makes them driven, stressed, irritable. … they can’t stand to fail, especially in public.”

Fear of your children manifests itself in two very different ways:

  • You either give up, and your children dominate you. Children in this type of home are rebellious, disobedient, lack self-control, and are privately insecure.  The victim mindset and the critic mindset can fit within this category.
  • Or, your fear causes you to have unhealthy control over your children, and you dominate them.  Your children will be very “controlled,” but the control isn’t healthy.  It’s fear-based, manipulative, and will produce either rebellion or unhealthy dependence in your children.  Your children will “appear” very obedient, but the reality is they have never been given the freedom to think their own thoughts and to determine their own convictions.  You have determined them all for them.  The perfectionist mindset fits in this category.

The root of both manifestations is the same motivation: fear.

It was recently said to me that wise parenting teaches children how to be good stewards of their freedom.

This means giving your children freedom and understanding that we must want our children to live freely the plan that God has for their lives — not that we have for their lives.  It means giving our children the tools to wisely steward this freedom so that they can truly be and live the freedom God intended them to have!

My next blog post will address what the solutions are for finally overcoming this fear and finding freedom from it.  Stay tuned.

W-2, I Noticed…

Dear Son,

I noticed the first time I “fell in love” with you.  It was the day you were born, and the first time I held you in my arms.

I noticed what a contented baby you were and so calm.

I noticed how you loved people and began to “knowingly” smile at people at only two weeks old.

I noticed how you loved to laugh and to make others laugh at a very young age.

I noticed your long eyelashes and knew you were going to be a “heart-stopper.”

I noticed your determination to finally conquer the skill of walking, after months of challenges.

I noticed how you love our neighbor’s dog that is three-times-your-size and how he loves you.

I noticed how you have a great imagination and love to make your animals kiss each other and talk to each other.

I noticed how affectionate you are with your kisses.

I noticed how you love to greet strangers and to make them smile.

I noticed how you brought tears to a young man’s eyes due to your friendly greeting.

I noticed how you like to help clean up your toys and then dump them out again.

I noticed how you have learned to sit at the top of the stairs and wait for someone to get you.

I noticed how you have a quick temper but also an eager willingness to love people.

I noticed how loved you are by everyone in this family, and how they all love to play with you and to hold you.

I noticed how you love to look at books.

I noticed how you absolutely love music, to dance to it, and have great rhythm.

I noticed how you call me, “Momma,” and I absolutely love it!

I noticed the time you sang to me, “I love you,” and it melted my heart.

Son, I noticed that you were an unexpected but absolutely wonderful blessing from God, for which I am completely and unashamedly thankful!

I love you.

L-Son, I Noticed…

 

Dear L-Son,

I noticed all of the times you would pick dandelions and other flowers and give them to your sister or myself.

I noticed the times you shared your only gift cards to buy me a special treat.

I noticed all the times you made special bracelets and gave them away.

I noticed the times you defended the “under-dog” and comforted the hurting.

I noticed how you play with your younger siblings and share your special toys with them.

I noticed how athletic you are and how you won the first place award for top boy athlete in your class of 21 students.

I noticed how passionate you are about life and how you put your whole heart into whatever you do.

I noticed how you wanted to be baptized, along with your brothers, last Sunday.

I noticed how you love to read books and read well.

I noticed how willing you are to work hard to help others, including moving in new neighbors and shoveling the neighbors’ sidewalks.

I noticed how you looked out for your great grandmother and held the door for her and made sure she was okay getting in and out of the car.

I noticed how you love to fix your sister’s hair and love to see her wear pretty things.

I noticed how you love people and make friends easily.

I noticed how you love back-rubs and talking time.

I noticed how give great hugs and sloppy kisses.

I noticed how you get scared easily but will courageously stand up for someone in need.

I noticed how spiritually-sensitive and aware you are.

I noticed the time when you had been hurt by someone, and I encouraged you to picture putting all the hurts in a garbage bag and then handing them to Jesus.  I noticed how I asked you then what that made you, and you said “free!”

I noticed the time you were so upset because of forgetfulness on your part and as a result, your little brother had gotten hurt.  I noticed how when I asked you why you wouldn’t let me comfort you and what the lie was you were believing, you said, “That I am not to accept love… because I didn’t deserve it.”

I noticed how much better you seemed after I explained to you that was a lie and told you the truth: that you are forgiven, precious, and loved by God.

I noticed that you are an excellent student and received the highest award for top grades.

Son, I noticed that you are sensitive, caring, a fighter for good causes, enthusiastic, energetic, and affectionate.

Son, most of all, I noticed how thankful I am that you are my son — my sweet “light-bringer.”  I love you!

D-Son, I Noticed…

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Dear D-Son,

I noticed all the times you sat W-2 brother down beside you and practiced piano while he banged on the keys.

I noticed all the times when you unselfishly played with and entertained your younger siblings.

I noticed all the times you gave your special toys and trinkets away to family and friends.

I noticed all the times you curled up against me at church.

I noticed the time you took my hand to walk with me at the field trip because you were so happy to have me present.

I noticed how eagerly you introduced me to your friends at school.

I noticed how hard you tried to run, throw, and jump at your school’s Field Day.

I noticed how you worked to learn the rest of the 24 memory verses in order to earn a week at boys’ camp and learned them weeks before they were due.

I noticed how you studied in school and got straight A’s all year.

I noticed how you tried so hard to pay attention and to get a good report on your behavior, and I noticed how tears filled your eyes whenever you were reprimanded.

I noticed how hard you worked to make your science poster turn out well and how delighted you were when you got first place.

I noticed how you have such patience and perseverance in making crafts, building stuff, and with everything you do.

I noticed how your eyes twinkle with a love for life.

I noticed how you giggle and how you protest vehemently against being tickled.

I noticed how you journal and love to write thoughtful notes to people.

I noticed how you love to read and are prolific at it.

I noticed how you are so much like your daddy and want to be an engineer just like him some day.  And I can see that happening.

I noticed how you surprised you were when you received the “Christian Character” Award at school this year for your class.

I noticed how you wanted to be baptized this year.

I noticed, Son, your heart for God, and nothing makes me happier!

I love you, Son, no matter where you go and what you do because you will always be my very own precious son!

W1 Son, I Noticed…

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W1, I noticed at just a few weeks of age how strong your will was.  I noticed that you would be determined to pursue your goals.

I knew then that God has special plans for your life!

W1, I saw how you held your little brother’s hand and patiently matched your steps to his to help him walk.

I noticed how you watched out for your sister when she played outside.

I noticed how you mopped my floors even when I didn’t ask.

I noticed how you wrote sweet notes of apology when you did wrong.

I noticed how you spent time, reading in your Bible.

I noticed how you said that you were proud of your faith.

I noticed how you practiced running and jumping so you could do well on Field Day at school.

I noticed how disappointed you were when you struggled with your grades this year.

I noticed how you studied for hours to try to learn your memory verses, states, math facts, and other school facts.

I noticed how you defended a friend on the playground who was being bullied.

I noticed how you cooked three suppers for me in a week so I could have a break.

I noticed how you mowed the grass on a hot, blistery day after a tiring day at school.

I noticed how you shoveled sidewalks for neighbors.

I noticed how you offered to help new neighbors move in and offered to mow their grass.

I noticed when you expressed interest in being baptized.

I noticed your look of embarrassment and disappointment for getting a merit award today because you had hoped instead to get the honor award for better grades.  No one else knew, but I did.  My heart broke just a bit when I knew how hard you had worked and how much you wanted to improve your grades.

I noticed when you hated yourself because you felt helpless to control your anger.  Oh, how I wanted to help you to see, precious one, that you are a winner.  And only the winners are those who learn that winning is when we get back up again and complete the race.

I noticed when tears spilled down your cheeks because of mean and hateful words that kids said to you on the bus, in the hallways, and on the playground at school.  How I ached to remove those lies from marring your soul.

Son, what you didn’t see, but what I noticed was how God is not finished with you.  How God uses those hurts and challenges in life to help you to look to Him as your Source of affirmation.

Son, I noticed that you are a winner!  God doesn’t make mistakes.  God doesn’t make weak men.  God doesn’t make inferior people.  God makes sons to reflect Himself.  He makes sons to run to Abba-Father (Daddy) so that they can become the men God created them to be.

Yes, son, I noticed that God is making you into a beautiful reflection of Himself.

I’m Sorry, Kids

To the precious five little people in my life,

I’m sorry, kids, for those times when I raised my voice and taught you that dirt and spilled milk was more important then showing you what grace and patience looks like.

I’m sorry, kids, for those times when I insisted that sitting perfectly still in church was more important than helping you to see that worshiping God is not for perfect people but for the redeemed.

I’m sorry, kids, for times when I didn’t demonstrate that it is possible to disagree with Daddy and still be completely respectful at the same time.

I’m sorry, kids, for times when I was more intentional with pursuing my own goals and worth then in listening to your own dreams and building your own sense of worth.

I’m sorry, kids, for times when I “cheated” you out of opportunities to see how great our God is by spending more time in the mediocre then in fellowshiping with our God.

I’m sorry, kids, for times when my words criticized and blamed you rather than showing you that the message of the Gospel is grace.  It’s grace in the home.  It’s grace in our words.  It’s grace in our actions. 

I’m sorry, kids, for times when instead of praising you for all the effort you did, I pressured you to keep performing better.

I’m sorry, kids, for times when I didn’t see past your anger to understand the thin guise it was for covering hurts and fears.

I’m sorry, kids, for the many times when I didn’t have the right answer, didn’t have enough strength and accepted defeat instead of teaching you that God is always enough.

I’m sorry, kids, I wasn’t the perfect mom.  Yet, maybe that will help you to understand that you don’t have to be the “perfect” kid to be used by God and loved by God.

God did give me, you kids, to raise.  He knew that I would learn through, you kids, what grace really looks like.  Grace is when I recognize the greatness of my God to be more than sufficient to help me raise you guys.

Grace is when I say I am sorry and mean it.

Grace is when I understand that God doesn’t call “perfect” people to be parents.  He calls redeemed people to remember that it’s only grace that brought us and only grace that will keep us.

Kids, I am not sorry that I have taught you that we have a God who is so much greater than us!

We have a God Who loves you perfectly and delights in you!  We have a God who will be faithful to keep you.  We have a God who has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you — to give you a hope and a future.”

So, kids, there is nothing I want to leave with you more than for you to know, really believe, how much God loves you and that it’s His grace that will keep you.