That child is always challenging us. Sometimes it’s not just a different perspective. Sometimes it’s not just a crazy idea.
Sometimes it’s not just some imaginative plan that they want to put into place. Sometimes it’s a real attitude that creeps in and they’re just frustrating, and they have this angst within themselves and it kind of comes out to the rest of us.
We kind of had that day here today and I’m just telling you all that to say that I’m in this journey with you.
Maybe I’m a little further down the path since I do have a “that child” that I’ve already graduated who is currently in graduate school. This alone ought to give us all hope!
But I’m still dealing with it! Not just in my “that child” but also in me. Right?
I’m not a finished product.
I’m still a work in progress. I’m grateful for this process of sanctification, but it’s not easy.
I still have really tough days with “that child”; I recently closed our school day early to deal with an attitude issue.
We could have pushed through. I could have insisted on the work getting done. But you know what? That work that we would have gotten done and any of those academic pursuits would not have been as valuable as the work we needed to do in his heart. So, I’m in this with you. I want you to know that.
We are in this together as we seek God together, and seek to honor God, and seek His glory and all we say and do.
I really do believe that as we have “that child” in our families and in our homes, that we have an opportunity to raise up a generation to change the world.
That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. That’s what makes me so excited about coming here to talk to you about these kids that are just so misunderstood.
These are the kids that get a bad rap. It’s hard to be these kids because very few people want to invest in getting to know them.
Very few people want to consider “that child’s” perspective or listen to their rantings or their ravings or their idea lists.
Very few people want to do that. But, Mom, you’ve got an amazing opportunity to really invest in that kid and really love “that child” as a unique creation of a holy, mighty God.
Let’s Review “That Child”
I told you the story about I loved my oldest, my original “that child”, but I didn’t like him very much.
That may ring true with some of you in the audience. You may just go, “Gasp! You just said that.”
Yeah, I said it. I don’t think there is any shame in admitting how selfish I was and how I had just failed to see this from a different perspective.
But I want to challenge you to embrace that child. Embrace him as a unique son or daughter of the King, uniquely wired for His glory.
They are someone very special. So, I want to encourage you to embrace “that child”.
Second of all, and we have talked about this, I want to dare you to engage with them.
Look! These are the kids that no one wants to engage with. They are always going off on rabbit trails. They see things that the rest of us can’t see.
They have ideas that seem impossible. It’s amazing. But we need to dare to engage with them. It starts with conversation.
“Unpack that idea for me.”
“Talk me a little more about that.”
Dare to chase the squirrel with them. These kids… remember the movie “UP” where you had the dog named Dug, and every now and then he would go, “Squirrel!”
That’s our “that child”, right? Because they’re always chasing squirrels.
Anything that crosses their path is game for conversation. Would we dare to engage in that conversation? Give “that child” a voice.
So, we engage with them in conversation. We engage with them in their ideas. We engage with them in their imagination.
But we don’t just engage with them. We get to know who they are. What motivates them. What lights their fire. What frustrates them.
Based on all the things we learn based on this active, intentional engagement we advocate for them.
We advocate for them before the throne of grace. We pray for them constantly. We advocate for them in the medical community when everybody wants to shove a prescription across the table to help that child.
We advocate for other methods. We advocate for them when it comes to their inappropriate behavior on a team.
I think I’ve told you in the past we have had some very real consequences for very wrong behavior. One that I can remember well was, “you won’t get to play in your next soccer game”. Now, mind you, this doesn’t mean we didn’t go to the game…Oh no! We went to that game and supported the team. And in doing so, “that child” would realize that he could have actually played in the game. But instead he got to explain to the coach that he wouldn’t be playing because he disobeyed.
Yeah, that’s a real consequence.
It’s daring to engage and enlist the help of others through advocation as you engage and get to know them and pay attention.
We are going to embrace them.
We are going to engage with them.
Finally, we are going to enjoy them.
It’s not a straight shot
Look, these kids are not going to allow your life to just go in a linear pattern. They’re not!
They’re going to take you around the moon and back again. That’s how they are. But what an amazing opportunity to enjoy them.
Enjoy the laughter.
Enjoy their perspective.
Enjoy learning from them.
I’m sure many of you saw the video my boys posted a while back on how to spread an insect.
So, I’ve learned a lot about bugs this year! I didn’t know that there were even websites where you can buy dead bugs! I didn’t know that! I am learning so much from my “that child”. Just like I learned so much from Charles (my first “that child”) when he was home.
What a rush! What a ride! The enjoyment that we get to celebrate with “that child”…I want to invite you in to that.
That’s what we’ve been talking about. I talked about the top ten things you say.
I talked about you might have a “that child” if…
We’ve talked about all these different things, all these different tools, all these different conversations.
We talked about their sin nature. If you’ve missed any of this go back on my blog you can find all my posts on “that child” and catch up.
Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we cry. In both cases, God is glorified.
Now I want to introduce you, some of you maybe for the first time, to someone who has really helped me on my journey, and my son’s journey. This is Dianne Craft, DianneCraft.org on the web.
This woman gets your “that child” from a thousand different perspectives.
She specializes in helping us get to know them and really fight this battle with them.
Often “that child” is educationally frustrated. There are many issues. I was extremely dyslexic as a child. My oldest child had an auditory processing issue. It’s not just that they’ve got this ADHD, and they’ve got this incredible mind, and these really unique perspectives.
I’ve talked last week about the different signs of genius, the twelve characteristics of genius. Often, your “that child” will show those characteristics. But they are often struggling.
Well Dianne is the expert in all of those issues. She has a plethora of articles, YouTube videos, you can catch her at a conference.
Her schedule is online, too. You can do phone consultations, and you can even make an appointment and fly out to see her in Colorado. She is the real deal.
You know, I come alongside the moms to really encourage mom’s hearts. She comes alongside with some really practical things, everything from learning tools to articles.
She wants to approach this from a natural perspective. I wouldn’t say she’s anti-pharmaceuticals. We didn’t get that far into the conversation. But she has found there are natural supplementations, dietary supplement, and also dietary changes that we can make in our home to help that kid function.
I have seen it firsthand. If I have cut down on carbs at the beginning of the day for “that child”, it makes all the difference. It’s a little bitty thing for us to have protein shakes and eggs for breakfast instead of just cereal or oatmeal.
That sounds great, the oatmeal does, but not for “that kid”.
So, learning all of this from her I wanted to make sure that you were aware of her many resources.
Get in the game with “that child”
Look, we’ve got to fight for “that kid”. These are things that they don’t know. They don’t know that, one of the things that Dianne talks about, I want to get it right, is about the learning glitches that your kid might have. She has an assessment online free that you can go through and read the article and go, “Ah! That’s it!”
Look, “that kid” can’t do that for them.
They don’t know what they don’t know. You and I don’t either but we can find some resources like Dianne and her website and get some real practical help to help that child.
I’ve added a few supplements to my son’s diet currently. We also did this with Charles in the old days.
I’m here to tell you mama, we can help them in natural, practical ways to be able to take in the information. We don’t have to drug them down or make them into something else. There are natural ways to make it easier, not just for us, but easier for them to function so they can think clearly and so that they can focus.
Take some time today to thank God for the “that child” in your home.
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.
She turned the wooden token around in her hands. “Mama, what is this one about?”
I looked down at the symbols, remembering the exact moment when I drew them. “That one was about how the Lord provided us with this home. We wondered how it would all work out since we didn’t have much money at all. In the end this house is what He blessed our family with! And do you know why?”
She smiled and put the token back, rifling through all the others in the box. “Because Yaweh-Yireh, Mama.”
“That’s right, sweetheart. The Lord provides. He has, He does, and He will.”
Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means ‘the Lord will provide’). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’ – Genesis 22:14
Worry can sometimes sneak up on me. Grumbling and complaining can too quickly take root in my heart. Is the same true for you?
Several years ago I was studying my Bible and reflecting on this when the Lord impressed upon me an ancient truth in a fresh new way: A deep, unshaken faith is tied to the remembrance of God’s provision.
I want a deep, unshaken faith, don’t you? And I want that for my children.
So that was the year we started the Yaweh-Yireh box. It became a tradition to keep ourselves in the habit of noticing and remembering those times that God provided in a remarkable way.
In this tradition, we nurture our faith by writing down what He has done, so that we can face the challenges of life with full confidence in the Lord’s provision. It has been such a blessing, drawing us closer to the Lord!
Are you struggling with worry and fear? Can I encourage you? Spend time remembering! Be emboldened with the truth that God sees and goes ahead of you, preparing and providing.
Find a way to physically remember God’s provision in your family. You can start a Yaweh-Yireh box like ours, write them down in a family journal at dinner time each week, or do whatever works best for you. But do find a way to make this a part of your family culture: regularly remembering times of the Lord’s gracious provision, thus strengthening your faith and the faith of your children.
God has provided, friend! What’s more, we know that He is providing in thousands of ways right in this moment, and that He will continue to provide for all of our days to come.
What does He provide? Wisdom, guidance, care, physical needs, spiritual needs, emotional needs… Above all that, He provides Himself. That’s what we really need, isn’t it? The token my daughter asked about could have been for extra patience, peace in the turmoil or some other way God provided for that situation. We can trust that whatever He provides will be in our best interest.
At base of every obstacle and worry we face, there is the deep and urgent need for more of Him. Here is the blessed reality: Every one of our needs is fully satisfied in the Lord.
Dear heart, whatever you’re facing – whatever challenge, heartache, or struggle – rest in the knowledge that He provides. It may not always look like what you expected. It may not happen when you wanted it to. But it is always in His perfect way and in His perfect timing.
What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence!… He has never refused to bear your burdens, He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God. – Charles Spurgeon
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!
Peace often feels out of reach in the life of a busy Mom.
How can Mom feel peace with the constant demands of motherhood? It’s a job that is unrelenting and exhausting.
In fact, just a few moments ago my children were all happily occupied with projects or play, so I sat down to work on this very devotional. Not two minutes later two children were yelling at each other in the next room. After pausing to deal with that issue, I sat back down at my computer to work. With just one sentence successfully on the screen, another child appeared beside me with an exciting story she wanted to share. Then another child soon followed with questions relating to her art project. So I did what I usually do, which is put work away until late at night. Even while my children sleep my time is occupied by the demands of life. It is easy to wonder, “where is peace?”
Even when life is far from peaceful, biblical peace can still exist in your life. Biblical peace is not the absence of busyness or difficulty. Biblical peace is an inner peace. It is the product of a mind focused on God.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
The Bible tells us the simple way to gain Biblical peace- prayer. When life is busy, pray. When life is hard, pray. When worry consumes you, pray.
With prayer comes the peace of God. Yes, life as a Mom will constantly move at whirlwind speed, but the inner peace of God will provide an inner tranquility.
As women of faith, we are directed to live peaceably whenever possible. It must be important if it can be found in various forms 429 times in the King James Version of the Bible! The scriptures talk about different types of peace, including false peace, inner peace, peace with God and peace with man.
But have you ever taken a minute and really thought about what peace means to you? I know whenever I think of the word “peace” it is immediately followed by the word “quiet”, yet I have learned as I have aged that they don’t always go together.
According to the dictionary, it means:
- freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility
- freedom from or the cessation of war or violence
In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom, and it refers to relationships between people, nations and with God.
In the New Testament, the primary Greek word for “peace” is eirene, and it refers to rest and tranquility. This is the peace we are seeking now.
As a woman of faith, we have an obligation to “let the peace of God rule” in in our hearts (men too but I am visiting with the ladies today) Colossians 3:15. In my understanding, this means I have a to make a choice either to trust God’s promises by letting His peace rule my heart and life, or decide to rely on myself which is actually rejecting the peace He offers me. In John 14:27, Jesus gave His disciples peace based on the truth that He has overcome the world.
We also know that peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 reads that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These fruits are things that we are instructed to add to our lives.
So how do we get this fruit called peace? This peacefulness in the chaos of our day to day life? We all know ladies that never seem to get flustered when things get crazy around them. I have wanted to know their secret for decades.
One day I asked the lady that I call my Titus 2 Mom. I call her that because she lives the example shown in Titus instructing the older women to train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
According to her, the secret to a peaceful life (at least at home) is as simple as how well prepared I am. Whoa – wait a minute. That is not what I wanted to hear. I wanted a profound moment or insight that I could just tell my family was being enacted and then TADA.. everyone would live in peace (and quiet) forever and ever.
She just smiled and said, no sweetie. The peace in your home is on your shoulders. She assured me it comes with practice.
Since then, I have been honored to counsel with younger moms feeling overwhelmed and searching for peace in their homes.
My tips for Tips for Maintaining Peace
Accept Our Role and Our Responsibility
Starting right now, remember that you are the parent. You are the adult in the house and you are their mom. You are not their buddy, friend, cleaning lady or doormat.
As the parent, it is your responsibility to set boundaries and expectations for your children. They need you to remain calm when they get all out of sorts. The best way for us to have peace is when we direct or respond to our children instead of the often panic reactions we have when things are wild and crazy.
Being peaceful and showing our children how to resolve issues in a calm manner goes a long way to the “peacefulness” of the home.
Offer Grace for Mistakes
Don’t give up on yourself or your children. It is okay to do a “do over” when a situation fails to meet your peaceful meter. Stopping your day and gathering your little ones around for a moment of calmness, prayer and discussion on what was happening that could have been handled better doesn’t take long, and it gives everyone a fresh start.
Be Prepared for Your Day
Only you can determine what this looks like in your home. For us, it was making sure the calendar for tomorrow was posted so everyone could pick out their clothes, pack lunches and gather anything needed for the day. We also spent a few minutes “clearing the deck” aka picking up the community areas before heading up to the bedrooms to prepare for bed times.
I love the saying, “Failure to plan on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine”. As much as I love saying that to my children, as a mom – it often does result in an emergency on our part if we do not plan ahead.
Being prepared for me also means getting up before everyone else in order to get some time in the Word and in prayer. It also gives me a few minutes to look over the schedule and make sure everything is ready to go.
I also offer a count down to things such as a 15 minute warning before departing the house, or a 5 minute warning that it is lights out upstairs. Just this little warning works wonders for those that don’t keep track of time themselves.
Expect and Look for Praise Opportunities
I strongly believe that our children behave the way we expect or at least the way we enforce our expectations. If your guidelines and expectations are clear, and the enforcement of the consequences is consistent; your little ones will fall in line.
That’s when you look for praise opportunities. Just watch how your approval and praise lights up their face! We like being praised for good work. Our children are no different.
Make Sure to Keep Your Heart Right
When my heart isn’t right; it isn’t long until nothing in our home is right. I heard that the mom is the thermostat of the family. Her heart setting is what the family feeds off of each day. When I have a grumbly heart…my children give it right back to me.
But when I am thankful and at peace, they also follow my lead.
Be the example for your family. Spend time in the Word and in prayer. Seek God’s wisdom on ways to manage your home and heart so you are being the mom your children need in order to grow and learn the love of Christ.
We are all capable of becoming a peaceful mom. Start today by sitting down and clearing your mind and heart in prayer. Perhaps start a journal for you to use each morning to kick off your day by writing out scriptures on being at peace, or by listing three things you are thankful for and three things that you can praise your children for during the day. As you get ready for bed, look over the journal again and make a note or two for you to start off tomorrow.
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.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
First thing in the morning, my kids’ little feet hit the floor and they come running in and ask “Mom, what are we going to eat?”
Do yours do that, too?
10:00 AM rolls around and we’re mid-lesson, which is a perfect time, I suppose, for the question “Mom, when are we eating?” or “Are we going to have lunch?”
As if NOT having lunch was ever a thing.
While we’re eating lunch (!) someone asks “Mom, what are we eating for dinner? Am I going to like it?” And they all join in, fully in agreement with these all-important questions.
What in the world?!? Where does this mealtime anxiety come from, anyway?
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
As I’m staring at them in disbelief, slightly amused and slightly annoyed, I have the fleeting and uncomfortable thought that I do the same thing.
Oh, how I imagine I look so very similar to these children of mine when seen through the eyes of God. How limited my perspective is, as I clamor for needs and wants, when He has so much more planned for me. Where does my anxiety come from, anyway?
I know God loves me.
I know God will provide for me.
I know that God has my best interest in mind.
I know that everything will work out for His good purposes.
I know that I can trust Him when I don’t understand.
I know that even when things don’t go the way I planned or desired, it’s all in His good hands.
I know that true peace comes in trusting the Lord with all my heart, and leaning not on my own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
Yes, I know all that just like my kids know similarly basic truths about me and my heart for them.
Yet how many times does my anxiety, fear, and desire to control of the outcome betray thoughts and feelings I would rarely verbalize? Thoughts that show how little peace I really have in my heart? Questions like…
When is this need going to be fulfilled, already?
What if it’s painful or isn’t what I wanted?
What if it’s horrible!? Oh, I hope that doesn’t happen!
What if what I hope for most never happens?
What if God’s blessings just stop coming?
What if I’m doing all this wrong – motherhood, homemaking, homeschooling? What if I’m failing Him?
What in the world?!? Sometimes it seems like worry can twist truth into a lie in order to feed itself. Friends, when we find these worrying thoughts stealing our peace and our joy, we need to capture them and hold them up to the light of the gospel.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
There is no room in a peace-filled heart for anything but purposeful trust in God. We must continually choose to trust the Lord wholly, and purposefully stay our minds on Christ.
Even when things are uncertain.
Lord, help us to trust fully in You, resting in the knowledge that it’s all in Your hands. Give us a peace that surpasses understanding, even in the challenging times. Help us to keep our minds on You, and cast aside worries and anxieties that would steal our peace and our joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I want you to think for a moment of the little precious face that is your “that child”.
When I am speaking at a women’s event on the topic of “that child”, I’ve started sending around a sheet so that all the moms can put the name of their “that child” on the piece of paper. Then I pray over all those names because I figure we are in this battle together for the hearts and minds of these little ones. At one conference recently, one of the mothers wrote six names. I think she was thinking all of them were her “that child”. I’m here to tell you, I pray for that mom!
Whomever in your family is your “that child” I want you to keep that face at the front and center of your mind today as we discuss “What they aren’t and what they are.”
Before I start my list, I want to remind you that my “that child” journey has been a long one. My oldest son is actually my original “that child” and I have one that I am currently working with. Some days are better than others just like probably in your home; if you’ve got a “that child” you know exactly what I mean. They’re unpredictable. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. They might be in a fabulous mood and when they’re in a great mood you wouldn’t sell them for anything. But when they’re in “that mood” you might just give them away!
Three things to remember about “That Child”
I was just confident that some of these things are not true. I was sure that they were true. I want to help you get over these lies faster than I did and reframe “that child” for you.
- First of all, I want to assure you that your “that child” (whether you have one, or six), I want to assure you that “that child” is not divine payback for your childhood.The God of the Universe loves you, and me, enough not to leave us where he finds us. He is constantly in the process of glorifying himself and growing us. Often, he will allow things to show up in our children to get our attention. If you have a “that child” they have your attention! God should have your attention. That ought not mean they have your frustration and your resentment.
- Number two, they are not broken. When I first had my oldest son, Charles, I was confident that he was messed up and he was broken. God loved Charles enough to send him to me because I could fix him. Do you hear the arrogance and the pride in that? Yes, I thought that he was broken and he needed to be fixed.We talked about last week the issue of the sin nature in “that child” which sometimes is far more evident than in the other children we have that might be more compliant. Those children might be more prone to apologize, or repent, if you just look in their direction. They’re convicted by the Holy Spirit and they respond to that. “That child” however, their defiant rebellion, makes the sin nature often more visible and vile to us.
“That child” isn’t broken but they a are sinner just like you and me and we need to treat it like that.
Remember, the way we deal with the sin nature in “that child” is the way we need to deal with it within our own lives. That is, we need to make sure we are getting to know who God is every day. My dear friend talks about this as a high view of God. When we get who God is, we are broken by our sin because we realize that our sin separates us from a loving, holy mighty God in who’s presence sin cannot co-exist. But because of his great love for us, He sent his son.
- Finally, your “that child” is not THE problem at your house. When we were first parenting Charles, and as we had six more children come along, I often felt that pain of not spending time with one of the other children because I was having to deal with him!I just want to say to you something none of us want to verbalize, but there were moments when I thought, “What if…” That’s raw and that’s ugly, because in those moments I thought the whole problem was HIM!
Look, your “that child” is not the problem in your home. They’re just NOT!
I know a lot of people who would say, “If it weren’t for “that child…” But, I promise you, they’re not the problem. We need to keep that in mind.
Look, if you’re thinking that your child is divine payback, if you’re thinking “that child” is broken, if you’re thinking that your “that child” is the problem at your house, you may think that you’re hiding it from them but they know. They know how we feel about them. Even if we think that we are hiding it, even if we are telling them we love them…. Because, look, there was a point in my parenting my oldest, my original “that child”, that I loved him… Because I had to, I was his mom. But let be honest. I didn’t like him too much. The reality is, you can’t hide that, Mom. You can’t hide that!
We’ve got to deal with these lies that we’ve chosen to believe about “that child”, we’ve got to acknowledge them as lies, and they are not true! These are not true about “that child”.
Here are three things that are true about “that child”. Three things that I want challenge you to embrace.
- Your “that child” is a divine invitation to draw closer to God.If my original “that child”, my first born, had been compliant and obedient, cooperative and calm, and all the things I thought I wanted my kids to be, I wouldn’t have needed God. I would have thought I was doing it. I would have thought that I was the most amazing parent on the planet.
I have a friend who had three compliant children. THREE! She told me that she used to criticize and judge from across the room other parents with “that kid”. She didn’t even realize what she was doing. Her first three children we so cooperative and so obedient. She would look at other people whose children who would throw fits and not behave she would think, “Oh my goodness! If you would just know how to parent. If you would just this… If you would just that…”
If you’ve got a “that child” you’ve heard that kind of criticism! You’ve encountered that kind of judgment.Then my friend had baby number four. Guess what? She gave birth to the most consummate “that child” I have even known! He would give my oldest a run for his money. All that judgment, and all that criticism, she had been so happy to dole out to everybody else? She had a lot of repentance and work to do with God. This is a story she shared with me. She is now so grateful to have had her own “that child” and to walk in the grace that she’s been given.
That’s the divine invitation; is to draw nearer to God! Your “that child” gives you a front row seat to your own sin. An invitation to walk in the grace that you’ve been given, and to continue to live a life of repentance and conviction, and let His grace, and forgiveness, and mercy wash over you. Embrace the patience that He has with you and me. I am overwhelmed with the patience that God has with me when I deal with my “that child”.
The reality is it’s an opportunity for us to look in the mirror and own our issues that sometimes we’ve not dealt with. God divinely allows it to show up in one of our children. Know what? Our sin is usually a lot more hideous when it shows up in somebody else’s face. But it’s just as hideous to God.
- Your “that child” is a blessing not a curse. A gift from the hand of God. Do you remember Psalm 139 when it talks about the Master of creation is weaving inside of you a unique person? This child is a gift from the hand of God. That’s one of my favorite things about being pregnant, feeling that child move within me and just imagining God weaving this person together. A gift from the hand of God.It’s not a curse, not a curse!
We often will think of “that child” as “THAT child”. If we could just do something with THAT one. Right? No!
They’re a blessing. Your “that child” is a blessing from the hand of God. Not a menace but a blessing. Given for your happiness and your well-being. God loved you enough to give you “that child” to you to draw you closer to him and to show you the marvelous works of His mercy and His grace.
- Finally, your “that child” is a unique person for God’s glory. Your “that child” is going to have questions about things that none of the rest of your other children even think about. They are going to just connect dots when no one else in the room can. They are going to see dots that no one else even sees, and connect them in unique ways.Your “that child” is out of the box. They’re not a round peg that fits in any hole at all. They’re never going to be able to be characterized by a formula. Your “that child” is totally unique! God has a plan for “that child”, uniquely gifted, uniquely talented, unique perspective, unique solutions! Your “that child” is totally unique for the specific purposes that God has made “that child”.
He Has a Plan
We know that the overriding purpose for each one of our lives is to glorify God. God has a plan to use those unique perspectives, those questions that are probably driving you crazy, those answers that you have never thought, or those questions that you have never even thought of, God has a plan to use all of that.
Let us not be the ones that just berate them and allow our exasperations to characterize our relationship with them. Let’s hug that child as the unique gift that they are from God. Let’s cradle their face in our hands and say to them, “I’m so glad that God sent you to this family. I’m so glad that you’re here.”
Mom, I want to give this as an invitation to you not just because you love that child because you have to, but to like that child, and be grateful for that child, because you are blessed to be raising “that child”.
“That child” is a world changer.
Go give him a hug!
This month’s topic is holiness and humility. Each month that I am tasked to write on a given subject, I meditate on the topic at hand, then I reflect on the experiences that God has and continues to use in my life to refine me in that area. When it comes to humility, we tend to associate it with words like “shy and quiet” and while one can be shy and quiet, that is not what humility encompasses.
Humility is an inside job (heart attitude), not merely an outward demeanor. One may put on an outward show of humility but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance. When Jesus talks about only those who are “meek” (power under control) and “poor in spirit” (spiritually bankrupt) will inherit the kingdom, He is talking about the “inside job” that needs to happen in each one of our lives. There’s a significant difference between “admitting that you are wrong” and “confessing the crime.” God says that when we confess our sin and believe, then we will be saved. Being (holy) humble is not a “shy person” quality, it’s an attitude of our hearts.
How has God taught me humility? Oh! Let me count the ways, but for the sake of brevity I’ll have to limit my storytelling. Don’t worry there’s always next month!
I tend to keep God busy.
Being a teenager and idealistic, I was waiting to take my chance at bat and change the world so to speak. Except I didn’t understand the game nor did I know how to play. After years of self-loathing and self-destructive decisions somehow God shook His head at this desperately lost sheep and brought me into the fold.
When I became aware of that amazing Grace He had bestowed on me, I was so overwhelmed. I was so glad to “make it,” albeit by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, I thought it best to keep a low profile just in case someone would take notice and scream, “she doesn’t belong here!” Regrettably, I went from being in bondage to my sin, to being in bondage to a (false) idea of what I thought Christianity looked like and to people’s ideas of how I should behave, because, you know, I’m a Christian now.
In frustration, because truth be told, I just wanted to please God. I wanted to “fit in” into this new life He called me to. I didn’t have a clue how to “act like a Christian.” What did that mean anyway? Coming from the country I came from, all I wanted was Jesus, for real! I wanted to get as close as I could to the hem of His garment. As I stumbled along, I pleaded for God to show me how to live this life that He called me to and then God gave me a husband and followed it up with children. Just when I thought I was an accomplished human, these two gifts rocked my world. We’ll talk about the “taming of this shrew” on another blog entry, for now we’ll leave it to motherhood to humble me in immeasurable ways.
Love at First Sight
I like to refer to motherhood as “love at first sight” because the moment you see your child you are instantly smitten. After spending countless hours losing sleep, diapering and feeding this little human, we want to see that we have amounted to something other than a chicken-nugget chef, boo-boo kissing, nursery rhyme rock star, and toy picker-upper extraordinaire! Cue the epic background music and roll out the red carpet. Mommas are in the house!
After years of this routine, we are seeking the accolades from the crowd that we have the smartest child, and if lil’ Susie (or Johnny) can’t read by the time s/he’s four, then we’ll move on the next trophy: “godliest.” After all, check out the Awana vest, all badges are accounted for! Or, how about the wittiest, the sweetest, the bravest, and so on until we find a “label” for our precious bundle that meets the criteria that screams from the rooftops, “I produced a super human, how about that!?”
Then there’s a reprieve if you will, and we go from “vipers in diapers” to “taller toddlers” (teenagers) and they are equally as challenging to navigate, which is why we need Jesus. It’s not a cliché, it’s the Truth. During this season, our kids are amid an identity crisis and desperately seeking a trophy to call their own. The struggle is real. The competition is fierce, and parents who are already exhausted from the toddler years enter puberty with both exhilaration and exasperation.
How many times do I find myself looking at my children trying to explain to them that I really did go through puberty, even though I look ancient to them? I dedicate all my gray hairs to them. I understand the awkwardness of what it is to grow up. Echoing my Father’s sentiment (Proverbs 23:26), I remind them to trust me and stay close to my heart and above all, to remain in Him.
They need to see
“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”
How do we teach our children that holiness, not a mate nor the latest trend making its debut, is what they need and what they should strive for when the culture is unapologetically trying to swallow them whole? Somewhere along the way we lost sight of God. We lost sight that holiness is what our heart should desire above all else. We’ve been bamboozled to believe that “holiness” is boring. Did we forget we are to be in the world, not of the world? How can we effectively sharpen iron when our standard is to look at what everyone else is doing rather than what the Scriptures say? Clearly, I have more questions than answers.
While my answer may seem over-simplistic, I will say that in my experience it has been eye-opening. One thing has not changed from the toddler years to the taller years – and that is, my children have not stopped imitating me. This is both good and bad. Being a homeschool parent, I don’t even get a six-hour reprieve during the day to act like a fool sans any witnesses. My every move is being watched. It is a humbling, and at times a humiliating reality that I face on a regular basis, knowing that my children are watching every – move – I – make.
We (parents) lead by example whether we like it or not. If we want our children to seek God daily, guess what? We need to seek God daily. We want our children to be humble, love mercy and walk justly with their God. They need to see it modeled in their homes. As we pursue righteousness, they will see us being challenged, refined and restored. They’re watching that process and in it they are learning how to hold steadfast to their faith during the storms that await them. How we deal with our struggles speaks volumes to them. It’s not enough to tell them to pursue holiness, they need to see how we pursue it.
It’s not called a “daily” walk for naught. It must be sought out and pursued. Unlike chasing rabbit trails with no end in sight, our pursuit of God allows us to run our race with excellence. We come to the well and not only do we quench our thirst, we grow up, we mature, we become better humans. True humility produces godliness, contentment, and security. What more can we ask for ourselves and our children? There may not be a single applause from the crowd, but who needs the accolades when the end goal is to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant!” from the only person that matters.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17