Today, I want to talk about how “that child” sees so many things differently than you and I do.
I have some books I want to recommend and talk through. These are works that have completely changed the way I approach mothering and homeschooling.
First, The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias. I would highly recommend that you seize any chance to listen to Cynthia Tobias; she is a scream to hear in person. She is a very funny speaker but has tremendous insight. I actually got this book I think all the way back when we were beginning our homeschool journey. It has really helped me see some things I was blinded to.
Second, if you get a chance to hear Dr. Kathy Koch, I would highly recommend her. She is based out of Texas (my beloved state), and frequently speaks at the Hearts at Home conference and on Focus on the Family radio. Her book, How Smart Am I? is another must-read.
And thirdly is an work entitled Awakening Your Child’s Genius by Thomas Armstrong. He maintains, “We want to assist [children] in finding their inner genius and support them in guiding it into pathways that can lead to personal fulfillment and to the benefit of those around them.” He has said his writing is motivated by the desire to ensure that every child gets a chance to fulfill their potential. Obviously, this is an incredibly helpful perspective when you are learning to educate your “that child.”
That Child & The Way They Learn
I was really a struggling learner until about the eighth grade when I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Although I had incredible auditory skills, it wasn’t until we identified my dyslexia that I was able to process the different ways I learned.
So, when I stepped into home education I assumed that my kids would learn the same way that I did. I kind of slammed into the reality that this is not true. Cynthia Tobias’ premise in this book is that there are four quadrants: concrete, sequential, random, and abstract; and then combinations of those quadrants.
I tend to be a concrete and sequential learner. I want concrete examples that you can show me and I want them to go in order. Those are two very, very important things to me. I really believe that by and large, when I’m learning, those things are important to me. That’s how I assumed my children would also learn and need information. I believe this is generally how the education system functions.
Yet what I learned from this book was that that’s not how everybody learns. Our reality is our own normal, not necessarily that of everyone else, and so I was shocked to find out that my son was my complete opposite. I am concrete-sequential and he is random-abstract. I certainly couldn’t get my head around it.
I couldn’t appreciate his many questions, the things that he wanted to chase, the ideas that he had, the way that he saw things because I didn’t understand. I didn’t think the way that he saw things was legitimate. I’m here to advocate for the fact that, no matter where you are on this, how your child sees, and thinks, and takes in information, is indeed legitimate.
Not sure which type of learner you are? Tobias has included a brief survey so you can actually figure out which style(s) describe you and your children.
I wish that I had read the work of Dr. Armstrong when Charles (my first “that child”) was little. I literally had tears dripping off my chin when I read one of his articles on genius and I realized that my current “that child” (who is now taller than me, and in the 9th grade, eating me out of house and home) is so much like his older brother yet truly his own person.
Reading “Awakening Your Child’s Genius” brought me to tears! This was describing my two boys! Moms, if you’ve got a “that child” and you are just continually feeling like you are banging your head against the wall because you do not get where a particular question came from, or why they are interested in that random topic, or why did they do that thing with all of your straws… Anybody with me on this? Anybody?
You had plans for those straws and it wasn’t for that spontaneous craft project that they just completed. Right? Armstrong’s work gives you insight into all of that. Actually, I think it gives a lot of insight.
If this resonates, you can read even more from Dr. Thomas.
How We Are Smart
In her book, Dr. Koch talks about the eight intelligences: word smart, logic smart, picture smart, music smart, body smart, nature smart, people smart, self smart. She validates each one of those, which is so important. So often we try to put everybody in the same box, but that is not the objective of raising the next generation of kids to change the world.
It certainly will fail every time, and twice on Sunday, if we try to put “that child” in a box of everyone else’s construction. We need to validate and affirm “that child” as a very unique blessing from the hand of the Almighty God. Again, as we use these tools to help them understand how God has wired them then we can help, and encourage, and foster, and nurture these intelligences, and maybe even some of the other ones they are not as strong for them.
So, I found this really, really helpful. But I want to get to my really favorite part and give you three do’s and three don’ts.
I’m here to tell you that “that child” is wired to be a world changer. We must not destroy the joy that they have! I get so excited about this. So, let’s go on and look at these qualities of genius. Again, I’m just going to briefly over each of them, give you a little bit of insight, and then you can read more for yourself.
The ways we learn
Oh, my goodness! If you have a “that child” you know that this is true. They have a curiosity way beyond our curiosity. In fact, often, their curiosity seems like they are not paying attention.
You may have heard me tell this story before but one time, and I do mean one time, because the outplay, the effect on my son, was so painful for him I determined that I was not going to subject him to that again. Certainly not at the young age that he was at the time. I took him and his brother to Reading Time at the library. I was literally that mom in the back of the room nursing the baby. Yeah. That doesn’t happen a lot in public anymore but that’s what I did all those years ago. So, I was sitting in the back and Charles, in Charles’ form, was on the front row. Right?
Anderson was dutifully sitting beside him and this woman, oh! I wish that I had the foresight at that time to mark down the book that she was reading. Anyway, he was up on his knees and he was so excited to be there to listen to the story. You know, we had a pattern of reading books at home. Right at the very end of the book, you know the woman, the librarian (I don’t have to say anything more about that), but at the very end of her reading she says, “Are there any questions?”
I literally went, gasp! Because I knew… She, she did that. Right? I knew that this was Charles’ moment and he was going to have a question. Why? Because we fostered that at our house. We were always talking, always having those discussions. His hand shot up. She said, “Yes?” And he proceeded to ask the question. Again, I really wish that I had known to write it down because it was just be so much more full, the story. He proceeded to ask the question that she did not think was on topic.
She, in that moment, said, “I would really appreciate it if the questions pertained to the story we just read. Is there anybody else that has a question?” And I saw Charles slump. Maybe you’ve seen that in your “that child”. Because this is what I knew as the mom in the back of the room, he was on topic! He was curious about something that was related. She just couldn’t see where he was where she was standing.
Often, our “that child” has questions that don’t seem related. It’s their curiosity. I really think that we want to foster that, and encourage that, as we have discussions with them.
This is another thing that we tend to discourage in our children. We tend to not want them to be silly. Dr. Armstrong, in this article, encourages them to be silly. They should be silly! We should have homes, and circumstances, and contexts in our immediate family where their silliness is welcome.
Now, we do need to teach them orderliness, it does have a place and a time. I know it’s challenging, but you know what I’m betting? That we need to die to our self and let them be more silly more often. These books talk about play being the highest level of development.
This is when kids can escape and imagine things being different, imagine things being better, imagining fantasies or dreams. We need to encourage those.
I have a daughter right now that’s writing a paper on Chesterton. He would often just lay in bed, and just think, and just imagine. His whole idea about imagination was that it was never wasted, that daydreaming is never wasted. Look, we often see one of our kids, our “that kid”, and we’re trying to accomplish something and they’re daydreaming. Certainly in the school system, we don’t have any patience for that. But according to this article, it’s valuable for them to have those fantasies, and those dreams, and for us to give them life, and discuss them, and smile when we see them imagining.
This is when we give them permission to come to conclusions in new ways, in ways that we wouldn’t have. This is an example of that. You may think that your “that kid” maybe isn’t very creative. Because see we often have a very narrow definition of what creativity is. We think it’s some artistic display. But it’s not always!
Creative thinking often manifests in answers to questions that we immediately assume to be wrong, and they’re not. For example, if you ask one of these kids, “What is… one plus one plus one is?” If they say, “Four!”, we would say it was wrong. Or if they said it was one we would say it was wrong. Look, if you’re creative in the way that you think the immediate question is, “One plus one WHAT?” Are you talking about one half plus one half?
Because one half plus one half is one. We would mark that answer wrong! But see they are being creative in the conclusions and the solutions that they’re coming to. These are kids that don’t test well because these are kids that argue and discuss through every answer that they are given in a multiple choice situation. We need to foster that creativity.
“How did you come to the conclusion that one plus one is one because that’s not true?”
Or you might have a child that you have taught Biblically and you might have an equation that says, “One plus one plus one equals?” and they wrote “one” thinking the Trinity. This is an example of that creativity. Look, to these kids, it’s not just about connecting the dots for them. They see dots that the rest of us don’t see. We don’t need to make them feel bad about that. We need to encourage that.
This is their natural astonishment at the world around them. This is something that, sadly, many of us grow out of. Again, you might have heard me tell this story but it fits here so I’m going to share it. One night there was a mother standing in the kitchen sink washing the dishes when her son comes running into the kitchen. He goes, “Mom! You’ve got to come right now. The sunset is so beautiful. There’s blue, and there’s orange, and there’s pink. Oh, mom! Come right now. See the sunset right now.”
Mom goes, “Just a minute. I’m going to finish these dishes.” You know what I know? That mom who got caught up in finishing the dishes, a few moments later her son comes moping in and says, “You missed it.” There will never be another sunset like that one that was right there. That child in the wonder, and the amazement, and the astonishment of Creation came in and wanted mom to share it with him. We were distracted, you and I, by the dishes.
May we not do that. May we dare to enter in into the wonder, and the astonishment they have by a sunset, or a bug, or a spider web, or lightening bugs. Anything the wonder of Creation. May we as Christians, Mom, point them to the glory of God’s majesty and His detail in every creative thing. This is an opportunity. This aspect of intelligence is our opportunity to point them to a holy, mighty God.
These are children who have wise insight beyond their years. It’s not based on any kind of experience. They’re very, very young. But they see things, they have this wisdom that they can make connections that sometimes we discount. Sometimes it’s in small pithy statements. I remember one of my kids, we went on a walk one night just around our neighborhood but it … trash and recycle day was the next day.
One of my kids said, “Wow! You can learn a lot by looking in someone’s recycle bin.” Goodness! Yeah, well yeah, you can. But I didn’t expect you to notice that. That would be an example of wisdom. When our children dare to say something like that, again, we need to take the time to unpack that with them.
- What do you see?
- What do you mean?
- What do you think that that tells us?
- What’s in ours that we are telling to other people?
- Why does that matter?
There’s so much opportunity for communication there.
This is about their willingness or ability to use ordinary things around your house for extraordinary purposes. I remember many years ago now when I was doing astronomy with my “that kid”, my original one, and we came to the point in astronomy where we were supposed to build the solar system.
Well me, remember concrete-sequential, I’m thinking, “Oh man! I didn’t get the styrofoam balls to make the solar system. Ugh! I didn’t get that so we can’t make the solar system.” Well something happened and I got called out of the room. I left him with his younger brother. When I came back they had made the solar system with pom-pom balls, and pipe cleaners, and construction paper for the ring around Saturn.
They had constructed it kind of like a mobile. I think the one maybe they had seen over the baby brother or sister’s bed. That is not at all how I would have constructed a solar system. But they were being so inventive with what they did with it. Inventiveness is what we need in order to solve the problems around us in culture and society. We need new inventions. That means you and I probably won’t always know where our scissors are. We probably won’t be able to squirrel away a box of straws for a special occasion.
But we need to be open to their inventiveness and again have those conversations.
- What did you see?
- How did you come to this conclusion?
- How did you solve this problem.
I remember in the movie “Apollo 13”, do you remember that movie with Tom Hanks, and here they had those astronauts up in this rocket ship and they had a major problem?
He comes in and he dumps these supplies on the table. He goes, this is all they’ve got. You need to figure out how to use what’s on this table so that they can breathe and we can get them home. The reason they were able to solve that is because those people around that table had this quality of inventiveness. They were able to look at things that you and I think, “that straw is made to drink something”, but “that kid” doesn’t see it that way. They see the straw having tons of different tools and we need to encourage that.
You and I might tend to think of vitality as having a negative connotation because we think of it as a rashness or impulsiveness. This is the aspect of genius that needs to do it now. They don’t want to wait. They want to do it now. This is an aspect of them that can be exhausting. But it’s also very exciting and invigorating if we allow it to be.
Their vitality is something that really spurs them on. We need to be responsive to them in our environment, in our home, and try our very best to respond to their vitality. This is one of the main reasons why I tried to keep a bunch of random stuff on hand all the time, straws, toilet paper tubes, empty containers of various kinds, I mean I literally had a tub of things. Glue, sequins, all of that kind of stuff, string, all sorts of different things for their vitality to bloom.
This, too, is a beautiful thing because these kids that have these qualities of genius tend to be far more sensitive than we give them credit for. I think this is often because we get caught up in how they make us feel. Like, maybe inadequate or unintelligent because sometimes they are just so far passed us. Sometimes they just make us want to pull our hair out. Sometimes they make us want to cry. They make us want to scream.
So, we discount their sensitivity and we should not do that. These kids have a level of sensitivity that the world has not been able to harden and I am so grateful. They have not been desensitized. These kids see something on the street and they want to do something about it. See, that combination of things, their sensitivity, and their inventiveness like we just talked about, and their vitality? They want to do something!
I took my “that kid” to New York City. I love that city. There are beggars on the streets of New York City and my “that kid” doesn’t want to just walk by. He wants to think of a way that we can help. What could we do? These kids are very sensitive to the problems of this world and that can ultimately be a motivation for them to change it and do something. So again, let’s not wish for them to be hardened. Let’s not want them to be a “big boy”. Let’s not insist that boys don’t cry. Let’s nurture that. Let’s fan the flames of that sensitivity.
Friends, remember that Jesus wept! He was sensitive; he wasn’t cold. And Peter wept bitterly after he denied Christ. Let’s not deny these kids that sensitivity that ultimately can motivate them to change the world.
Flexibility is this idea that they can move from reality to fantasy, to reality to fantasy. They can go from metaphors to facts. They are very fluid in their associations.
Often this is scolded in the system. This was scolded in my house when I was a young homeschool mom. I was so aggravated with his flexibility. We would be talking about, I don’t know, the constitution and he wants to talk about The Hobbit in the same sentence. And I’m confident that he’s not paying attention. But it’s not that he’s wasn’t paying attention. He was just very fluid in his associations. He really was thinking about both of them. He truly was thinking about the concreteness of the constitution and the fantasy of The Hobbit at the same time.
Humor is one of the things that I am passionate about, and I believe in, and that we need to make sure we have lots of in our parenting of “that child”. In fact, according Dr. Armstrong, it is one of the qualities of genius.
Our ability to laugh at situations and things, and more than anything, ourselves, is so valuable. We need to be able to laugh. It’s like a pressure valve when things get tough. It’s not always a time to laugh; but we need to give our kids permission to laugh as they make associations.
This is this core component. We need to chase their joyful things, that which brings them joy, and encourage their joyfulness because that is what is fanning the flames what they are chasing and what they are learning about. Let’s not kill their joy.
I want to challenge you to observe that child. Observe how they learn, how they take in information. Whether it’s random, abstract, concrete, sequential from Cynthia Tobias, or if it’s different kinds of intelligence by Dr. Koch, or if it’s these twelve qualities of genius. Even if you want to journal about different things that you see, observe them.
Next, discuss it with them. When you see them make a quirky connection, or ask a seemingly unrelated question, or take all of your straws and make a spaceship, have a discussion with them. Dare to say, “What? Where did that even come from? I don’t even understand… Help me to understand what popped in your mind that you would ask about a necklace when we are discussing the Treaty of Versailles? How did you get there?”
Look, you and I do not have it all figured out. We have a lot of things that we can learn from our kids. As you start to see them do things differently I pray that it would expand our minds and we would start to consider things. That we would be reawakened in our astonishment of God’s Creation and our wonder, and the connections that we make, and the creative ways we think about different things. We will still face problems and need solutions every day, so let’s learn from them in the process.
Finally, three things don’t do.
Don’t assume that they are wrong. Don’t assume that they are off topic. Don’t assume they are not paying attention. We should not assume. These kids, remember what I talked about so many times when we are talking about “that kid”?
It’s got to be hard for them to them. Because so often everybody assumes that they know that they are off topic, assumes that they are not thinking, assumes that they are not paying attention. Let’s not be one of the people that assumes.
Don’t shame them. Let us not shame them because they do it different from the way that we do it. That genius at your house, “that kid” that thinks outside the box, isn’t going to do it like everybody else. But that doesn’t mean that we need to shame them. We need to encourage them for how differently they do things.
Don’t discount their conclusions or their perspectives. They are valid. Remember, God needs unique perspectives, and descriptions, and conclusions as long as they are based on the truth. He needs those to solve the problems of this world.
Provision. That word has a special place in my mind and soul. So many times in the past, I feared not having enough. Three job losses. New babies. Always fearing that we would not be provided for.
Yet God, in His grace, always, always provided. He always met our needs. He always sent others to bless us. We never went without. And even though we knew that we really needed very little material things to truly be provided for, the fear always remained. What if we don’t have enough?
Over the years God taught me about this word, provision, far beyond the material things. Yes, even in the very lean years we were physically provided for. But what I learned most was that His spiritual provision was far beyond compare.
When you hear the word provision do you immediately think of “things?” Me too. Yet, today I encourage you to look beyond the temporal provisions and look to the spiritual. Those are the things that will matter far beyond this world.
Provision is about so much more than God giving us “things.” Often those things are a tool to either strengthen or hinder our walk. Sometimes though, those things get in the way of seeing what we really need.
In my fear of not having enough, God took away much, so I could see Him more. So the truth is, less physical provision brought about more spiritual provision. Does that make sense?
When we have less things, we can clearly see what is most important for this life.
He already has provided all we really need. The work of the Cross.
That is provision.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
So ask yourself today, “Do I feel provided for? Do I truly have enough in Jesus? Do I crave more of this world or more of you?”
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.” Psalm 73:25
Father, we pray for provision today. But we pray for provision far beyond what we think we need here on earth, and for our treasure in heaven. Let us purpose to fix our eyes on things above. Help us to grasp the truth of our true provision- the work of the Cross.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
When we truly put our faith in Christ, God will protect, provide and care for us, in all areas of our lives. He doesn’t promise we won’t go through hard times, but He does promise that He is always by our side giving us the strength to make it through anything. God wants us to put our trust in His provision for all our needs. Sometimes that can be a bit scary and require us to step out in faith.
We live in a world where, when we turn on the news, we see the natural disasters, crime, hate, and other hardships we are faced with. Sometimes it is hard for people to turn over and trust in God’s provision, when we are consumed in a world full of hate. But when we put our trust in the Lord, He will bring us peace when we face the hardships of life.
Whether we are struggling in our marriage, financially, in work, or any other way, when we put our trust in God, He will give us the strength, hope, courage, and peace, to keep getting up each day. I firmly believe everything we go through is just for a season, you will always find a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what the circumstance is.
I know, personally, I have struggled with many different areas in my life over the years, and one thing that stays true through it all is God’s provision. It is easy to find yourself consumed with worry and anxiety about the situation, but if we turn it over to God, He will get us through! If you are facing what seems like an impossible situation, just pray to God. Hand it over to Him, and let Him take control of the trouble, and he will work it out in His timing! I can look back at situations in the past, and remember in the moment I didn’t know how I could conquer and overcome, but now I see how much stronger it made me, and that God gave me the strength to make it through.
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:31-32
Just like in Matthew 6:31-32, God knows all of our needs. All things happen in His timing, and we have to put our trust into Him, that He will provide what we need and when we need it. Everything can’t be on our timing, rather in His. We have to fully trust in His provisions, and by doing that it means handing all our worries and troubles over to Him, and believing that no matter what is in front of us, God will handle it, and provide all of our needs.
Heavenly Father, we just thank you for everything you have provided for us. Help me to find peace in those times I am struggling, and put my trust in you! Help me to stay focused on you Lord, throughout my days, and know that you will make things good. I thank you for your unconditional love, and protecting and providing all of my needs.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19
When I saw that the theme for July was God’s provision, my mind instantly went back to my early years as a single mom and the many ways God supplied our needs through His people. I want to share some of those stories here to give glory to God, to give you hope if you are going through hard times, and to encourage you to be the means through which God provides for others who are in need.
My sons were 9, 6, 4, and 6 months old when my husband left. I was shocked, angry, scared, and embarrassed to be divorced, but my biggest concern was how I was going to provide financially for my family while remaining at home and continuing to homeschool my children. God proved His faithfulness over and over again—often through the ministry of our church family, especially in those early years of adjusting to a new life and building my home business.
The deacons’ fund provided financial assistance to my family several times, and individual church members sent us cash and gift cards—sometimes routing these blessings through the church office to remain anonymous. God’s providential care clearly orchestrated the timing of such help. During seasons of comparative bounty, financial gifts rarely arrived. However, when we needed help most, assistance miraculously appeared—even when I had told no one about our situation.
. . . your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6:8
One lady in our church gave me three beautiful new outfits when my wardrobe was getting shabby. Another time I found a department store gift card in my mailbox—with instructions to use it for myself, not my children. The gift was more than enough for the new suit I needed for a conference where I was scheduled to speak, and it served as a precious reminder of God’s faithfulness in clothing not only the lilies of the field, but also His children (Matthew 6:28–30).
A family in our church gave us a brand-new train table for the boys to use with their wooden train set, saving me the time and expense of Christmas shopping as well. Another friend asked me for a list of my children’s favorite Christmas candy and showed up with a large bag of stocking stuffers every December. Our pastor taught me how to build a fire in our wood stove, and several families supplied us with firewood for over a decade.
God’s provision doesn’t come only in the form of money or material things, however. The gift of time is also a tremendous blessing. When I moved to be in the same town as our church, several ladies helped me pack my kitchen, and others helped me clean the new house before we moved in. On moving day, church members helped load, move, and unload our belongings, while others cared for my children in their homes.
One of the most precious ways God provided for us was through two dear ladies from our church who came to our house for two to three hours one afternoon every week so that I could go to the grocery store and run other errands without four boys in tow. They became my friends and blessed me immeasurably, but they also ministered to my children by reading to them, playing games with them, bringing treats, and showing them God’s love.
Are you going through hard times? Remember that God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Are things going well for you? Thank God for His provision, and look for ways that you can bless others in His name.
May we sing with John Newton:
The birds, without garner or storehouse, are fed;
From them let us learn to trust God for our bread.
His saints what is fitting shall ne’er be denied
So long as ’tis written, “The Lord will provide.”
Motherhood will bring you to your knees and often face down before the Lord. In my 26 years of parenting, I have found myself at the end of my own resources countless times. It’s here I’ve learned the most about God’s provision.
Some of us begin motherhood with great expectations and some of us with fear and trepidation. There’s something about being totally responsible for another human being that can shake us to our very core.
We want only the best for our kids and we will give up more than we ever thought we could to make sure that happens. But here’s the thing: in and of ourselves, we have severely limited resources. Ask any mom who’s sleep deprived, dealing with a stubborn toddler, caring for a special needs child, navigating the teen years, homeschooling or the numerous other challenges of parenting…she will likely say what I’ve said many, many times…”I’ve got nothin’!”
It’s easy to feel discouraged
The problem with being in this particular space is that it’s easy to feel discouraged, despondent, depressed and even despairing. From there it’s a very short trip to a notorious and well known place I like to call “Mommy Martyrdom”.
Now before I go any further, let me be completely transparent: my family will tell you that I have worn this badge of “Mommy Martyrdom” more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve drug my family through little (and big) mommy fits of being the victim and it was NOT pretty. It was also not helpful. It was also NOT true.
Now really, what mom hasn’t used guilt to try and move her children to action? What wife hasn’t so desperately wanted to get her husband’s attention and tender loving care when she’s tired, worn out and frazzled that she resorts to an attitude of martyrdom? After all, wives and moms seem to be the standard for self sacrifice and dedication, often to their own detriment.
But here’s the thing: God never intended for us to make some of those sacrifices. Yes, you heard me right. Sometimes we are simply not good stewards of our energy and resources and we forget to ask God what HE really wants. Yes, there ARE times God calls us to copious amounts of sacrifice and laying down our own desires and agenda for someone else, but we can’t for one minute believe that He wants us to do that without His grace and certainly not to the point of being or feeling we are the victim.
He wants to redeem
You see, when Jesus died on the cross and rose again, it was about so much more than going to heaven one day (although that would be enough in itself!). Jesus wants to redeem the here and now. He wants to take what Satan means for evil and use it for good. He wants to take our seemingly impossible life circumstances and redeem them! It starts with changing the way we see. Do we believe that He loves us and want to bring redemption into every area of our lives? Do we believe that His love for us is so deep and wide and strong that nothing can touch us without His permission…and if He allows something in our lives, that He wants to work powerfully through it? If something doesn’t seem right to us, do we go after it with the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit asking for wisdom and redemption?
Choose your own mentality
The older I get the more I discover how truly amazing, loving kind, ever present and caring our God really is. I sometimes wonder if He ever gets tired of us complaining about our circumstances because we’ve already forgotten about the times that He has so clearly intervened on our behalf. In fact, over the last several months I have found myself doggedly determined to ditch any victim mentality that might try take over my thought life.
The Bible is absolutely spot on when it tells us that battleground really is in the mind.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Satan knows that if we are convinced that we are helpless, that’s all we will ever be. When we feel helpless we feel paralyzed and when we feel paralyzed, we become apathetic. The enemy’s number one weapon is apathy. What battle has EVER been won with apathetic soldiers? Satan knows that if we are convinced that we are helpless, that’s all we will ever be. He’s a liar and the father of lies. WE ARE NOT VICTIMS. We are DAUGHTERS of the Most High King. We are redeemed, renamed, restored. The work is already complete, we just need to WALK IN IT. Oh, our feelings may tell us otherwise, but let’s NOT make decisions based on our feelings. Instead, let’s make them based on what we KNOW to be true. Let it be our KNOWING, not our feeling, that gives us direction.
Receive His provision. Hold your head high, mom, KNOW who God is, who YOU are in Him and don’t let anything or anyone keep you from walking in all that God has for you!
If you ask God to give you His peace…
He’s going to ask you if you’re sure, when you say, “Yes, Lord! I need to write a blog about it, show me peace!” He’s going to do just that, and it doesn’t look or feel anything like yoga. As a matter of fact, it’s more like falling through the ceiling, and thankfully God has His grip on you and you’re going to be okay.
Life is Messy, so is My Kitchen
The last few months have been filled with excitement and lots of busy activities – isn’t that always the case? I’ve had the privilege of representing my company at homeschool conferences around the country this year. I, the one that does not like road trips, have been a road-trip warrior for the past four months; and while at the end of each trip I’m ready for a long nap, I love serving those whom He calls me to serve.
For this month’s blog, it was time to write about peace. During my prayer time, I “knew” that God’s peace didn’t look like a Buddhist monk at rest; rather it is a deep sense of trusting and resting in Him, but how do you write about that, how does one describe it? As always, God answered and in the spirit of, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” I bring you, “If you ask God to give you His peace, you may just fall through your ceiling.”
If you ask God to show you His peace, you may find yourself traveling every weekend. While you’re traveling, you will be amid a kitchen remodel (more like demolition). During said kitchen demo, you are going to be thrown off your budget (even more than you had already anticipated) because you’ll find out that you need a new subfloor. While installing the sub-floor, your contractor falls through the ceiling (praise God no injuries!). As you are trying to wrap your head around how the contractor fell through the ceiling, you fall through the exact same spot. Lesson learned and you thank God that the only thing that suffered any damage was your ego. Thinking that you’ve learned your “peace lesson” and with a spring in your step, albeit bruised from the fall, you are ready to commence writing.
And God says, “Wait! There’s more!”
As you prepare for your last conference of the season, you need to fly into a different airport so that upon your return you are home in time to take your kids to camp; so you ask if the change of airport is an option, it is! Yay! Peace! When printing out your boarding pass you learn that the flight is booked solid and you end up in the middle seat. You pray. Thankfully you end up with nice neighbors and while you are squeezed in like a sardine, you are a comfortable sardine. You praise God for a safe flight and you meet up with your team mate. While waiting for your other team member, whose flight is significantly late, you make the best of it by getting coffee at Dunkin Donuts and sharing multiple laughs together over your respective journeys to this conference.
Peace for the win.
The next day, your team is ready to rumble and so are you, except the coffee tastes like dirty water, but you are a survivor and like a hound dog searching out its prey, it’s just a matter of time before you find real dark roast coffee and tragedy is evaded. Throughout the conference there were a couple of mishaps; but you are writing a blog this month about peace and you are on a roll, a peaceful roll to boot!
You enjoy sweet fellowship with friends you haven’t seen in a while, the fellowship is sweet, transparent and raw, just what real friendships are made of. There are tears, laughter and together we experience a peace that passes all understanding, knowing that we are all messy people and life is indeed messy, but our God has not left His throne and we are going to be okay.
Now, you know it was just a matter of time before God threw an unsettling moment in my post about peace. He wanted to make sure I kept things real. Leave it to air travel. As I was boarding the plane for the return flight home, as I approached my (middle) seat I could tell from the look the woman gave me that this may just be an extra-long flight. The gentleman who was behind me would be in the window seat, so I let him pass and with a smile from ear-to-ear I say, “yay! We’re all here!” She was not amused, he smiled. The sordid details merit a blog post of their own but suffice it to say, I did not become a YouTube sensation despite her ill will and ugliness aimed at my person. At one point of the flight I closed my eyes and cried begging God for mercy towards me and peace that passes all understanding since I could not understand how a human being could be so rude. What God did show me was that she had no peace and He was merciful because our flight landed 20 minutes early!
Then, it was off to connect with my family. It was a sweet and short reunion as we dropped off the girls at their respective camps for the week. While I’d like to say that all is peaceful on the home front and bring this post to a close with flowers and bows neatly put together, I’d be lying. Life is messy and so is my kitchen. As a matter of fact, it is really messy. Even though I placed tarps all over the furniture and tried to contain the dust to one place, the dust has made its way on all three levels of my house. I’m not going to lie, I may have shed a tear or two, at the thought that it will be another two weeks before the kitchen is complete.
As I reflect on the last three weeks, the Lord has given me peace and joy, did I mention the two are inseparable? In His perfect timing, He provides everything I need. I realize that you can’t have peace without God and (His) peace involves trusting Him with the results, regardless of what situation you find yourself in and when you trust Him with the results, you’re living in hope, and where hope abounds there is always joy! Even when you’re falling through ceilings, sitting next to an angry human who needs Jesus, or coming home for the third week in a row to an incomplete kitchen.
But wait, what is peace?
Peace entails joy, hope, and trust. Paul talks about this in Romans 15:13, when he says,
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
I’ve had peace throughout all of this because I was intentional about it. I was doing Isaiah 26:3,
“You keep him [her] in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because (s)he trusts in you.”
I was trusting God to give me peace, mind you it all began with a prayer asking Him to show me peace. As chaos unraveled around me, because my mind was fixed on God showing me peace, I remained at peace.
Trust (believe) that God will give you joy and peace in all circumstances. Be intentional about seeking His peace. No matter how messy life gets, when we allow God to fill us with His peace, we can fall through ceilings, take on angry humans and live in the messes that we don’t understand knowing that the peace that passes all understanding gives us hope.
I want to talk a little about that darned sin nature that rears its ugly head and often (as least we think) we see it more often in “that child.” It’s often accompanied by some real defiance and an attitude. Even what may be the most terrifying for most of us, is this response to having lied or sinned in any way. This attitude of “So? Who cares?” That is very disconcerting and it should be.
It’s NOT a phase
I have heard before people talk about children and their behavior and different things, and they’ll say things like, “Eh, it’s just a phase. It’ll pass.”
My friends, it’s not just a phase that will pass! It’s sin which is a serious issue. So, if you are in a circumstance with a sinful behavior with your “that child”, or one of your other kids or even in yourself, it needs to be taken seriously. We cannot blow it off. We cannot even have a “deal with it later” mentality.
The first sign of sinful behavior should arrest us. We should deal with it immediately, in ourselves and in our children.
Before we can talk about the whole issue of behavior, though, I want to back up the bus. I think too often we settle for dealing with behavior and we totally leave out the heart issues.
I want to double dog dare you. Don’t reduce the bar of behavior. Don’t settle for the bar of “do it because I told you so”. We are in a world now that is sending a really mixed message to this generation. They are really confused about what it means to be a man or a woman of integrity.
While most of our culture says it’s OK to do just about anything as long as you don’t get caught, I’m fairly certain that’s not the standard in which you want to raise your children. I’m going to challenge you today to raise that bar and elevate it to be, “We obey because God said so.”
We might have compliant kids that will fall in line and they’ll have integrity, and they’ll be honest, at least they’ll try to, but without the power and the might of the Holy Spirit within them to strengthen them, to be all those things, they’re not ever going to achieve and be the young men and women that they need to be to, to be the young men and women that God’s planned for them to be, to be part of the generation that’s going to change the world.
So we must elevate that standard. We’ve got to give them a why. The why can’t just be, “Because I told you so.” It cannot be, “Because you make me look good when you obey.” It’s got to be more than that. It’s got to be deeper than that.
We must teach our children that the importance of obeying is because it glorifies and honors a mighty, living God, the sovereign of the universe.
We hold them up
Where do we start with these issues of sin in the lives of our children? We start the way that Ted Tripp talks about starting in his seminars and that is, we hold up before our children every day a holy, mighty, awesome God, the God of the universe, and we say, “Oh, my children, that you would know God. That you would KNOW God.”
When we introduce our children to God it makes all the difference! If we are just going to be about trying to formulate their behavior…do this don’t, do this, do this, don’t do this…we aren’t reaching their heart and we are short-selling ourselves and them.
We are not giving them the motive that they need. So, we must start by introducing them to the God of the universe.
When they get who He is, when you and I get who He is, it makes all the difference. It changes how we behave from the inside out, which is what real change is.
I’m sure you’ve heard the one about the little boy who was sitting in his high chair who was 18, maybe 24 months old, and his mother kept telling him to sit down. She says, “Johnny, sit down.” And he won’t sit down. She goes over and sits him down. She turns around and he stands up. She says, “Johnny, sit down!” She goes over and helps him to sit down. She turns around and she notices that Johnny’s sitting down. She says, “Johnny, thanks for sitting down!’ He says, “I’m standing in my mind.”
Look, Johnny wasn’t changed from the inside out. It was a game to him. I don’t want my children to be in a game of behavior. I don’t want them to only do what I want them to do when I’m looking. I want them to do what they ought to do because the God of the universe is on the throne.
I want to invite you, get to know this God of the universe. The bottom line is you and I are not without sin either and our kids know that. As you and I come into a deeper, richer, more abiding relationship with the King of the Universe, guess what? Our kids witness our being changed from the inside out, in subtle and not so subtle ways.
One of my best tools is “Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer. This is a very readable book by a man who was sold out to the cause of Christ and to God, the Father, all about having a higher view of God.
We have reduced God in our culture, and I’m going to dare to say it, in our churches, we have reduced God to merely being our bell boy who is supposed to do whatever we ask Him to do, in faith.
Look, God doesn’t owe us anything. He has already given us the ultimate gift, His only begotten, not made, Son who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. He doesn’t owe us anything!
It’s all about Him.
We have an opportunity to glorify Him. This life that we are living here is not about us. It’s all about Him. As we look to Him, as we point our children to Him, as we embrace His sovereignty when nothing makes sense, as we appreciate and give Him glory when we’re confused and when we’re tired and when we’re overwhelmed, when we seek to serve Him in all we say and do, we honor His holy name, and our behavior is like incense to those around us and they’re drawn to Him.
The first step in affecting, for God’s glory, this sin nature of your child, is first you have to acknowledge that they have one. They’re all born with one. If you doubt that visit a friend with an infant. They all came that way.
Selfishness and pride are at the core of our being. We are sons of Adam and we have a sin nature.
But if we want to remedy that, we cannot reduce this to “do what I say”; we must first hold up before them a Holy and Mighty God and get to know Him together. Get to know Him through singing praise worship songs, through singing the old hymns.
Get to know Him in a nature walk, the beauty and the majesty of His creation, get to know Him by reading about him in books like A.W. Tozer, and get to worshipping Him.
Introduce your kids to the God who not only deserves their obedience but is worthy of their praise.
Next, after we’ve had an introduction to the God of the universe, we need to start talking to our kids about what sin is. Again, we have failed in this way, not just in our families to discuss what sin is, we have failed in our churches.
Some churches, in fact, pride themselves in not using the sin word in their services for fear that it might make some people uncomfortable.
The reality is we have a massive, deadly, lethal self-sin issue. If we don’t talk about sin then there’s no need for a savior.
We must talk about sin to our kids. We must acknowledge sin in ourselves and sin in them. There’s no sense in talking about it being a phase. It is an offense to the Holy, mighty God of the universe when we sin. Sin means when we fall short of the glory of God.
In Leviticus 19:2 we are told, “Be holy as I, the Lord your god, am holy.” That’s the standard. We are to emulate Him. We are to be and live as daughters and sons of the king of kings, His ambassadors.
Live a life that’s worthy
We are to live a life, worthy. When we don’t do that, when we fall into sin, we offend the Holy, Mighty God.
So, what’s His response to the sin? Here’s the deal, His response to sin is His wrath. It is a just response. The Holy God of the universe cannot exist where sin exists. It is not possible for Him to be where sin is.
But, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but will have everlasting life.
Not only does God have just wrath upon our sin but He offered us freely a solution in the gift of His son, who was the holy lamb of God.
Remember when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and he said, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin, whole, of the world.”
That lamb of God lived a perfect, sinless life as he walked on this earth. He laid down His life.
They didn’t take it from Him. He laid it down as he outstretched his arms on the cross of Cavalry and paid our sin price.
Only a perfect, spotless, lamb of God can pay our sin price. That’s what Jesus Christ did.
These are the truths that we discuss with our children. We talk to them about how holy and mighty, and sovereign, and glorious God is. We talk about the issue of sin and the real penalty. Then we talk about the beautiful solution that God has given in the gift of His son.
Because He loves us
As we are having these conversations in an ongoing manner, around our house, as we drive, as we are having these ongoing conversations about God’s glory and His goodness, about our sinfulness, about His goodness and His grace, His everlasting forgiveness, His loving kindness that endures forever, the psalmist writes, we talk about the sin.
As they come into fellowship, as they come to acknowledge and know who God is, there is a natural brokenness that comes when sin comes.
Look, our culture tells us that we don’t need God. Our culture tells us that our sin isn’t so bad. Our culture tells us that we are going to be OK. The reality is that God’s word says that we’ve got a problem. But because of His glorious love for us and His grace, He’s given us a way to come into a relationship with Him. That’s through the gift of His son.
When we frame behavior away around “have to”, we don’t do the right things because we might get in trouble doing the wrong things, we don’t do the right things because we are terrified of the consequences. Our motivation is not coming from a relationship with the Father.
We must do the right thing because it honors God. Not because we have to but because we get to.
We elevate the motive for being honest and good. and kind. and generous. and selfless. and self-controlled. That’s why we do it.
We do it because we have an opportunity every day to give Him glory and praise as we worship Him in all we say and do.
As we live a life worthy of that to which we’ve been called.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Have you ever had one of those days where everything you do, fills you with panic and anxiety. You may find yourself worrying over finances, work, family issues, or something similar. You just sit and stare off into space, worrying over the obstacle at hand, and feel your heart racing, and your hands getting clammy!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God
I find I get more anxious and worry when the night comes. It is like you are alone, and everyone else is sleeping, and you are wide awake battling the thoughts in your mind. Sometimes I feel that Satan attacks the hardest at nights, when he knows you are alone.
When we find ourselves being consumed by our thoughts and worries, we have to turn it over to God. Give him our fears, doubts, struggles, and let him take care of the matters at hand.
Worrying is a tool Satan uses to take our focus off God, and cause angst and stress in our life. When we worry, we are consumed by thing; rather if we hand these over to God, he can take control, and in that we will find peace.
We need to remember God’s promises he has made to each of us, to protect us, and forever have unconditional love. That no matter what we go through in our life, God is always there, he will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
I find that when I spend time praying to God, listening to worship music, or reading a devotional, I gain more peace in my everyday life. When the world around me feels like it is closing in, I can simply close my eyes and say, “Jesus” over and over, and begin to feel that peace come flooding in.
I find that if I am struggling getting something out of my mind, just thanking God for being alive, the trees around me, the air I breathe, simple things like that can detour those heavy thoughts. If you feel like you are struggling with what to be thanking him for, just think small. Food, clothes, a home, and you will begin to see all the amazing things you have been blessed to have. Give thanks to God. As you are thanking him, you will begin to forget your struggles, and peace will flow in. You won’t feel as anxious as you might have felt before.
When I spend more time putting God first, the world around me, seems a lot less scary. God, will give you the strength and the courage to overcome anything in your path. We just have to turn to him, for peace. When you turn to him in prayer, he will be there to help you through any issue.
Just finding time to read the word (Isaiah 26:3) , or pray to God is a great way to gain a stronger relationship with God, find peace in your life, and grow in your faith. Learn to cast your cares on the Lord, so he can handle them, and take the burden off of you. In return we will find peace, and that is a beautiful thing.
Lord God, I thank you for your unconditional love, and for always being there when I need you. That in those moments when I feel like my life is stressful or becoming to much, you are right there with me, carrying me through it. That you are the peace maker, that I can call on you to find strength, peace, and hope in all things. Thank you Lord, for your amazing love.
I never imagined I would find peace in letting go of almost everything I hold dear. If you told me I would learn that this past year, I would have smiled and walked away thinking you really had no idea what you were talking about.
But, I have learned just that.
I have read about peace, and I have met many people who just seem to live in a peaceful state. I’ve always wanted to have peace – one that surpasses all understanding, but I never really knew how to ‘get it.’
It’s easy to read the Bible and the many verses about peace but to receive peace and know it has always seemed beyond my reach. It’s easy to get lost in this world that seems bent on chaos and confusion while trying to hold on tight to Jesus’ hem. The world can be so loud and pull a mom in dozens of directions with information and insight on how we should be living.
Maybe I’ve had it wrong all of these years.
It’s easy to think that I am wrong. All I have to do is read one post on one website, then another on a different site and go back to Jesus’ words in the Bible and see three different thoughts on peace.
Or are they? Could they merely be different people experiencing life from their point of view and speaking the truth as they have learned it?
Unless you open your eyes and ears to hear and Jesus has poured into you, truth can not be known. And in truth, there is peace.
Truth gives a heart the path it needs to stay on when everything else is falling apart due to heartache, lies, deception, war, famine, starvation, death, sickness…. you name it. Unless you seek truth for you by the heart experiencing the hardships of this life, you can not find peace.
And when you look for it in the midst of life’s most difficult times, peace can not only be found but be experienced in a way that can not be explained or understood by one who has never experienced it.
A peace gained through hardships gives the heart that has found it – the ability to sit down at the feet of Jesus and say “It is what it is. This life has been harsh for me, as it was for you. So be it. Let me carry this torch for you, let me experience this life for you…. and grant me the peace that you give that goes beyond understanding.”
You find peace when life has only one meaning and that the truth about who is Lord over my life in all circumstances. Peace is found when I stop comparing who I am or what I have with other people around me. I find peace when I say “Lord, take me and all that I am and use me for the purpose of which you created me.” And when I say those words I know that the Lord can use me in ways that can make me shine on earth or not.
It’s funny, isn’t it? When we reflect on how we want peace, we think about beautiful homes, cars, clothes and security on earth. But, when we read God’s word, when we read about people whose lives were full of peace and gave peace to others, we know the exact opposite. Those lives were like the life of our Savior: who had no home to call his own after he began his ministry.
So, I sit here with no home to call my own, and I have found peace.
Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
It can be hard to have peace when you’re in the middle of difficult circumstances! I know for myself it’s hard to have peace when life is chaotic and uncertain. I’m a planner, and I like to know what’s going to happen and when. I like for things to go according to my plans. When that doesn’t happen, I don’t feel peace.
I’ve realized, though, that if I really believe God makes all things work together for my good, I should be able to have peace in my heart regardless of my circumstances. I should have peace knowing that God will take care of my family and me and that He loves us. Of course that doesn’t mean I have to like what’s going on or be happy about my circumstances! But I should still be able to trust God and His plan and therefore have peace.
A young woman from my church recently wrote about how God used a quilting lesson to teach her about peace. Her grandmother was giving her a quilting lesson. The grandmother explained how there are many choices a person must make when she’s creating a quilt. She must decide on the fabrics, the thread, how to put it together, what kind and weight of batting to use, how to bind it, whether to hand- or machine-quilt it, and so on. Even if a person is using a pattern, there are still choices to make. There will still be differences in the finished quilt that’s made by one person or another. The finished product has to do with the choices that are made by the person who is making the quilt.
Just as the quilter must make decisions about each fabric and each stitch as she sews her quilt, we must each make decisions in our day-to-day lives. We can decide to be afraid or hurt or anxious. We can worry and doubt or feel hurt or angry. Or we can choose to move forward with confidence even when we aren’t particularly happy about our circumstances. We can choose to trust God, to love Him, to allow Him to love us. We can choose to move forward knowing that God knows the outcome even when we don’t.
We can choose to accept His peace.
You see, God knows that the hard things we go through will contribute to who He wants us to be just like the wonderful things will! God sees the finished work even when we only see the pieces. He knows how they will eventually all work together to make each of us into exactly the person He wants each of us to be.
Will you allow God to take the pieces of your life and create a beautiful quilt out of them? Will you allow Him to take the mistakes and the victories, the good choices and the ones you wish you could change and make your life into what only He knows it can be? Will you accept His peace as he pieces together your life?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.