raising kids with God

Gearing Up – Planning the Year One Day at a Time!

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the time everything is fresh and new and possible! This is the time when I get to look back and forward, dream and consider, pray and trust as I look to a new year of home schooling.

Gearing Up - Meeting With the Principal

Over the course of 18 years of teaching my children at home I have learned that this journey is not about figuring it out, but it is about prayerfully persevering. It is about continuing on through the challenges and celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness.

We must remember not to allow our plans to become our idol. God’s word says that “man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” God has a plan for each of our lives, for our family’s homeschool. We should plan prayerfully and hold our plans with open hands, offering our plans up to God to work through and use as He will for His glory.

Planning gives us a target to aim for. We do not always hit the bull’s eye, but having one means we are shooting in the right direction. It is vital we have a target to aim at while allowing, or rather inviting God to come and direct our steps.

Here are some steps I go through as I plan the year:

  • Pray. Before you even begin the day, ask the Father to guide you and grant you wisdom as you plan. His Spirit will help you and give you insights as you go forward.
  • Review Objectives. Our over-arching goal each year is to glorify God and to raise children who glorify God. From there I look at each student, where they are and what they need for the year and set goals for them individually.
  • Plan out weeks. This simply means looking at the calendar and your family’s activities/travel and planning which days/weeks you will be home schooling. Additionally, consider planning in some down time for you and your kids. We adopted a 6-weeks-on-1-week-off schedule several years ago that works great for our family. The week off gives us a break, a chance to adjust and catch-up if necessary. Once you know when you can homeschool, now you can better plan ‘what’ and ‘how’.
  • Decide on the year’s subjects. I have developed a rotation for our study of history so that we can go through world and American history several times over the course of their education. Subsequently I add in math, science, writing and foreign language. After these are in place I look to see what I can add in that is unique to each child. For instance I might add in some LEGO material for my LEGO enthusiast or an art class for my emerging artist. Though these may seem to be merely extracurricular, I maintain that as their particular talents and interest begin to develop, they should become more prominent, not just add-on’s.
  • Develop a Routine. Over the years I have come to believe that a routine is much better than a schedule. A routine sets a pattern for our day, a course of action, and ultimately, habits. In contrast a schedule ties us, makes us slaves to the clock. A schedule demands we pay attention to the minutes instead of the moments. It robs us of joy and distracts us from our purpose. I desire to create a context wherein my children love learning. I want to engage them in such a way that they don’t even notice the time. I don’t want to rush to the next ‘thing’ but lean into the now, what we are reading or discovering or solving now.

As you consider the pattern you want to adopt for your day, I would encourage you to put God first (Matthew 6:33). Read God’s word together first; pray together first. This example of putting God first is an excellent example for your children as they grow up and begin to adopt their own daily routines. As they get older, show them how to have their own quite time first and then ask them to share what they learned that day.

After time with God, then put the other subjects in an order that best serves your children, their needs, and your day. We have a routine that is basically the same each day. This way the kids know the drill. They can proceed on their own if I am busy with a character issue or the laundry.

  • Plan a meeting with the Principal. This is key. Make sure that you take the time to go over your plan with the principal of your homeschool, your husband. (In North Carolina, the husband/father is considered the principal of the homeschool. Though homeschool law varies from state to state, this is a good way to look at the division of roles.) Get a date on the calendar to meet with him and discuss your plan. More on this next week!

 

Praying WITH God

Our family moved across the country 2 months ago and let me tell you, if that doesn’t bring you to your knees, nothing will! It wasn’t just the move, it’s the ongoing adjustments, not only for myself, but for our 5 kids who moved with us.  

Praying with God

Honestly, in my over 40 years of being a Christian, prayer has probably been my biggest struggle.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it may be that prayer cannot be entirely contained or explained.  In other words, I can’t go through a checklist to be sure that I’ve covered all the bases.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  I’m a checklist kind of gal, but prayer rarely seems to work that way because it’s not supposed.  Anytime we become too rules oriented, it inevitably costs relationship and that is the very thing that God wants to have with us…through prayer.

A few months ago, I listened to yet another sermon on prayer and suddenly the pieces began to come together.  The pastor was encouraging us to pray the scriptures.  This was not a new concept to me, but the reasoning behind it was.  He said that when we pray the scriptures we are literally praying the very words of God and so we are literally praying in AGREEMENT with God. Because the scriptures are God breathed, they have life in them and when we pray them, we are praying WITH Him and He with us.

It was simple, yet profound.

There are other ways to pray, of course, but this one really stuck with me because I have this need to KNOW that I’m not praying something that God doesn’t want.  Praying the scriptures really focuses on the heart of whatever issue I am praying for.  It helps me filter and refocus on what God is focused on.  

In reality, it changes MY heart.

prayer

I believe wholeheartedly that God is sovereign, but I also believe that we play a valuable role in His unfolding plan. One of the most effective ways is through prayer.  He truly is OUR advocate.  The word advocate means fighter, supporter, crusader, upholder and champion.  Take a minute to soak in that truth!  He’s on YOUR side, He wants what is best for you, your husband and your children and you have the opportunity to make a difference through prayer…praying WITH the very One who is your advocate.

 For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. I Timothy2:5

I’m spending more time than ever praying over the hearts of my children.  Most of them are teens and in their 20’s.  They are making good choices, but life is messy and they struggle just like me.  I know that the Enemy would love to derail them and render them ineffective to the work which God has called them. I believe one of the most important things I will ever do as a wife and mom is to intercede for my husband and children and I can trust that my advocate and theirs will be faithful to finish the work that He has started.

That Child: When you need practical help

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. 

That Child

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”

 

First of all, I dared you, double dog dared you, to embrace 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. 

When We Can’t See God’s Provision

I was so excited. A new school year was starting, and I had all our curriculum in order. With several weeks already planned out, things were going smoothly.

Then it happened.

provision

Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Late summer hurricanes are always a possibility when you live in Florida. However, this one caused a few huge trees on our street to fall, bringing down power lines with them. Of course, I can’t complain. No one was hurt. In fact, no one’s home was damaged.

But we had no electricity.

Now, if you haven’t been in Florida during August, you may not realize the intense heat. I know there is a difference between dry heat and humid heat, but let’s just say that the humidity in Florida’s August is so high that you are almost able to swim in the air. We were without air conditioning and were expecting up to two weeks before power would be restored! How could we do school? There was no way we could be in the house during the day, because it was unbearably hot.

I was so frustrated. We had such a great beginning to our school year.

Part of my frustration was with God. I really felt He had called us to homeschool, but it seemed that I never was able to meet MY GOALS for the year. And this year was starting out the same way. WHY did God allow for a hurricane to mess things up? Wouldn’t He want ME to successfully teach MY children according to the lesson plans *I* had carefully planned?!?

Well, you can probably guess what happened. God knew what was better for us than I did.

Really. He did.

In order to endure the heat each day, we would pack up our books, papers, and lunchboxes and go to the local library. On that first day, the librarian noticed how we were camping out, so she came over to ask if we needed anything. I explained our situation and that we were doing our homeschool work there. “What are you all studying?” she asked us.

And that began one of the best two weeks of our homeschooling journey.

You see, once she learned what we were covering, she told my children all about what the library had in the way of books that would go along with our subjects.

The next day, she asked if they would like to go downstairs into the resource rooms and learn about microfiche (for those of you too young to know what that is…it’s an old-school type of projected viewer showing printed materials like newspapers and magazines, many from years and years ago). Each day, she excitedly came up to us to ask if she could help us. Some days we were fine and other days we asked her what she could show us. She set us up with historical videos, educational games, interesting magazines, and even a few crafts they had left over from some summer programs.

After two weeks of that, my children became true library professionals. They could navigate their way around the computer card catalogs as well as the “ancient” hard catalogs, too. They boldly went up to our librarian “friend” to ask questions and also came to realize that librarians REALLY are a wealth of information and (for the most part) LOVE to help.

No amount of Mom-planned field trips would have given them this lesson. They truly learned a skill I wanted to teach them but never could find the time to add it to our “busy” days: how to learn how to learn. Not just memorize things, but how to research and discover information they do not know.

Indeed, the Lord provided.

provision

He set up the circumstances to require us to camp out at the library for 10 days. He knew this was an important skill for my children to learn that would help prepare them for the future.

Now, I know that this provision seems small. I could share “bigger” times of provision with you: a time when my son was horribly injured and had to endure several surgeries, a time when we had to care for my sick father by having him move in with us, and many more. God indeed provides for us in the big things. But this provision came during a time I least expected it. It showed me that my Lord provides even the little things in ways I cannot orchestrate myself.

He cares so much for us that He knows our needs before we know them. Rest on that. Know that the things that “get in the way” of our plans do not take our loving Lord by surprise. It may be our Plan B, but it is ALWAYS His Plan A!

That Child: They See Things Differently

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.

that child see things differently

 

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. 

Awakening Genius

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

1. Curiosity

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.

2. Playfulness 

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. learning styles

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.

3. Imagination

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. 

4. Creativity

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.

5. Wonder

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. 

6. Wisdom

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. 

7. Inventiveness

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. 

8. Vitality

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. 

9. Sensitivity

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.

10. Flexibility

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.

11. Humor

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. 

12. Joy

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. 

enjoy and embrace

Observe

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.

Discuss

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?”

Learn

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. 

A Family Tradition of Yaweh-Yireh

She turned the wooden token around in her hands. “Mama, what is this one about?”

provision

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.

provision

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

Keep Us in Perfect Peace

During my morning quiet time recently, I read this in my devotional:

“The way to walk thru demanding days is to grip my hand tightly and stay in close communication with me. Let your thoughts and spoken words be richly flavored with trust and thankfulness. Regardless of the day’s problems, and I will keep you in perfect peace as you stay close to me.” Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, June 4th.

That really hit me. God can keep us in perfect peace as we stay close to Him.

perfect peace

How do we stay close to our Heavenly Father?

This key to staying close to Him is found through a relationship with our God.

Thinking about our relationship with God reminds me of my girls and their relationship with my husband. I’ve overheard my girls say, “Daddy wouldn’t like that,” or, “Let’s get this cleaned up before daddy gets home,” or “Daddy is going to be excited.”

Knowing how their daddy thinks sure helps to make the house more peaceful. When they know what he thinks about something, and then go and do it. Wow! How peaceful it is!

We had a situation like this just last night. The girls had played with their cousins for hours and hours. Then it was supper time and the house was still a disaster. After supper daddy said everyone could either help clean up or sit on a chair and watch the others clean up. They knew he meant business. They heard him. They knew what he expected. They went and did it. Then they peacefully enjoyed a treat together, once the house was in order.

Peace.

How about with our Heavenly Father? Do we search His mind? Do we know what He is saying to us? Do we hear the words He’s speaking to us? Do we listen? Do we know what He expects of us?

Going a step further, as a dad provides for his young children, do we have that same faith that our father will provide for us? Our girls have seen my hubby go to work to provide for us over and over and over. They don’t ever let on that they worry about having enough or ever worry that he will stop providIng. We shouldn’t either. We should remember the past times our Father has provided for us and trust that He won’t stop.

Yet how does this look in real life? How do we know the mind of God? How do we know that He will continue to provide for us? How do we learn more about what our Father thinks? And what He expects of us?

The key is relationship. We must have a relationship with him.

I could fill a book with how important relationship is. (Actually, I have filled a book…you can grab a free copy on my website!) Yet, I could go on and on about this relationship topic. Because, I was doing this whole relationship thing wrong. Friends, I had a religion. Not a relationship. I had it all wrong. It wasn’t until hard, hard things came into my life. I finally ran to God in desperation. Then I found what having a relationship meant.

I hope you don’t to have to experience hard things before finding a relationship with Jesus. I pray you can find that connection with Him. I hope that you can hear and see Him. I hope that you can know Him and have a relationship with your Heavenly Father. We only get to this place of relationship with hard work.

perfect peace

My young girls recently said, “God never talks to me”. Their comment made me realize this is something we learn. This is a skill we need to practice. Then, in turn, it is something we need to teach our children.

Have you seen a blade of grass? Or seen a sunset? Like, really, looked at it? Then, you have seen God.

Have you read the Bible… like, really, read the Bible? Then, you have heard the voice of God.

We need to stop and see God. We need to stop and listen to God. We need to focus on nurturing our relationship with God. Then we can have that perfect peace our hearts long for.

Tips for Maintaining Your Peace

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.

maintaining peace

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:

  1. freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility
  2. 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.

example of peace

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.

 

That Child and the Nature of Sin

 

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. 

that child

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.

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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. 

 

That Child: a Biblical Example

 

Confession:  I was “that child”. So, a lot of the “that child” stuff I get because I am speaking from experience! It’s not that hard for me. 

For those of you who weren’t “that child,” and have given birth, or adopted a “that child”…let me say that I pray for you. We are unique creatures and it is a journey into our world and to try to understand us. But I really believe that most of the time it’s worth it.

Today I want to talk about a character in the Bible whom you probably just love and admire. 

I know that I have long admired this particular character. One day I was thinking there’s got to be a Biblical character we can relate to, and probably you would also agree, there’s probably even several “that child” examples in the Bible. 

I am going to suggest to you that I believe the primary example, Biblically, of “that child” and in the most positive of terms, would be Peter in the New Testament.

I believe this so much so, in fact, I have often thought that if I had known that my oldest son, Charles, was going to be as much of “that child” as he has become I probably would have aptly named him Peter. 

Could This be “That Child?”

 

Peter was a fisherman. Historically, most scholars believe that he was the oldest apostle. 

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Yet, when Jesus said, “Follow me,” one of the most amazing first acts of Peter’s life was, he followed. He followed Christ. 

Now, you and I might think of that as rash. He didn’t really know Christ. But when Christ looked at him there must have been something about Christ that when Peter saw that look in his eye, when Peter heard that invitation extended, Peter got it. He was like, “Yeah, I want to follow you.”

He followed. That’s huge, that’s very powerful. We also see examples of brashness. Examples of enthusiasm. Examples of passion, and charisma, that God can used in Peter’s life.

As we are walking through this I want you to consider your “that child.” Are these things that you see in them. Are these examples of things that they do? And that currently may be really driving you crazy and aggravate you?

Could it be that as we look at the life of Peter today we can start to look at those things a little differently, with grace, and with insight, and with wisdom, and stop allowing the enemy to make all of these actions look awful just because they are not the actions we wanted or thought they should have been? 

Let’s start to look at these behaviors just a little differently.

 

 

 

Your “that child” also needs to know that they’re not alone. That there’s hope and that God has a plan. Just like God had a plan for Peter, God has a plan for them.

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He Dared to Go

Next we’ll look at an account where Jesus has been up all night praying. His disciples have been fishing all night. It says that they were battered by the waves. They were trying so desperately to catch something, catch anything, and then out of the darkness of the storm (they’re exhausted, they’re tired, they’re discouraged) here comes Jesus walking on the water. 

Peter sees it and he says, “Lord, you tell me to come and I will come.”

Jesus simply says, “Come.”

We know that Peter, out of all of those disciples in the boat, Peter is the only one that dared to get out of the boat and actually walk on the water. 

I want you to suggest to you today, as you consider Peter, how did he get out of the boat? Because I’m betting, if I think of Peter and the totality about what we know about him in Scripture, he didn’t gingerly step over the side of that boat. 

I would like to suggest to you that he hurdled the side of the boat. 

He was so enthusiastic, and so rash, and so passionate, about everything he did. Look, I believe that Peter had the same mantra that I often live by. Play hard or go home.

That’s how he lived. It was all or nothing for Peter.

So we see that Peter gets out of the boat and actually walks. He’s successful as long as, what? As long as he focuses his eyes on Christ. But Scripture tells us clearly that he got distracted by the waves and he went down. Jesus extended his hand and pulled him up. that child : enthusiastic

That’s “that child”. So enthusiastic, so excited, so passionate about what they’re doing, and yet often easily distracted. 

 

Who Do You Say?

The next example I want to talk to you about is when Jesus asked Peter, “Hey!” (He’s actually asking all of the disciples.) “Who do they say that I am?”  

They said, “Well, some say that you are Elijah. Some say you’re this person.” And Jesus looks squarely at Peter and says, “No, no, no. Who do you say that I am?” 

And Peter said (get this, get the insight that Peter has), Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Whoa! Peter got who Jesus was. In the midst of the confusion, in the midst of the teachers of the law, and the scribes and the Pharisees who studied the Old Testament, who had all the prophecies, who should have got who Jesus was, they didn’t get it!

If they did, they denied it. But Peter, a fisherman, got who Christ was. He made that bold statement saying who Christ was. You’ll remember that Jesus said, “On this rock, on the rock of that confession, I will build my church.” It’s just beautiful.

Another example is when Jesus took the inner circle of Peter, James, and John. So you remember, there was Peter and then James and John were called the sons of Thunder. They were actually the sons of Zebedee.

They had quite a reputation. The three of them were like Jesus’ inner circle. And there are several occasions in Scripture where we see Jesus takes those three, in a special way, aside to teach them something or show them something.

In this instance, He takes them up on the Mount of Transfiguration. You’ll remember that Peter was elated, literally beside himself. If you’ve got a “that child” you’ve seen that. There are times when they are just so enthusiastic, and so joyful, and so into what’s going on that they are not thinking straight. That was true in this instance with Peter.

In this situation Peter is like, “Ah! This is awesome! We’ll stay right here on the mountain and I’ll build a tent for you, and for you, and for you!”

You can just kind of see Jesus go, “Ugh, Peter! No! That’s not the point of me bringing you up here. It wasn’t for us to stay on the mountain, Peter. I brought you up here on the mountain so that we could go back down off the mountain.” The Lord Christ did not explain that to Peter but it’s implied in Scripture as Jesus just moves forward. 

Remember the Last Supper?

The lowest job that any servant would have had at this last supper, indeed in this culture, would have been the servant who would have washed the feet of all in attendance for this dinner. These feet would have been really dirty, and yucky, and grimy, and smelly. But even in all the preparation that the disciples had made for the last supper there had not been anyone chosen to wash their feet. 

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, saw again (this is the pattern throughout Christ’s walk on the planet), he saw a need and he responded to it. We call that compassion. 

Here once again, in the Biblical account of what Jesus did, we know that he saw the need. Instead of doing what I would have wanted to do, and maybe what many of you wanted to do, and assign the task to someone else, he simply (Scripture says) lay aside his outer garment, just like he had laid aside his right to be equal with the Father.

He girded himself, it says. He poured water in a basin, to symbolize he was about to pour out his life. He then got down on his knees and began to wash their feet. It’s really a powerful picture! 

I think a hush must have fallen across the room. As Jesus is down on his knees, washing their feet (and it’s a story for another day, but let this sit on you for a minute), Judas went to deny Christ with clean feet. Because Jesus washed their feet before Judas left. 

Anyway, he comes to Peter, and it’s time. It’s clear what Jesus is doing. Peter was not the first person, not the first set of feet that Jesus washed. And Jesus comes to Peter and Peter goes, “You’re not washing my feet!”

Do you see that? Do you see the passion again? Do you see the pride, the arrogance of Peter? “You’re not going to wash my feet!” Yet Christ, who is our example, responds compassionately, and patiently, with Peter.

As the dinner goes on Jesus tells them again that he is going to be betrayed and he’s going to die.

Peter says, “I will die with you.”

Jesus looks at him and says, “Peter, before the cock crows, before the rooster sounds his morning call, you will deny me three times.” Ugh! That had to hurt. That had to sting. To hear the lord and master that he was pledging allegiance to, turn to him and says, “Oh, Peter, no. Not this time.”

Yet there must have been something in Peter that was like, “NO! It can’t be true!”

The Bible says that they sang a hymn and they went out. They go to the garden. Once again, we have another example of how Jesus let the disciples “stay here” and he took that inner circle, Peter, James, and John, a little further Scripture says, and he asked them to pray. Then it says that Jesus went a little further and fell down and prayed to the Father.

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He just went and called out to the Father, and begged, and begged, and begged for another way to save mankind and to glorify the Father. Finally, Jesus comes back the third time. They’re sleeping and he says, “Here comes my betrayer.”

He goes to meet those who had come to arrest him. It’s really remarkable in Scripture when you hear how many people came to arrest Christ. He, himself says, “Look. I was in the temple many times. I was in the marketplace many times. You could have taken me. You don’t need all of this.” In fact, when Jesus said, “Who are you seeking?” and they said “Jesus” he said, “I am.” 

You’ll notice, in Scripture it says they fell back. That was the power of who he really was. It is at this moment, when they have come to arrest Christ, that Peter takes his sword out and hacks off the ear of Malchus.

I want to promise you that Peter was not aiming for Malchus’ ear. I’m confident that in that day and time it wasn’t the way to defeat your enemy, to cut off their ears. I’m pretty sure that Peter was aiming for Malchus’ throat, and Malchus ducked, and all Peter got was his ear.

Again, you see Jesus going, “Ugh! Peter! Put it away. That’s not what this is going to be about.” Then it says they went on to arrest Christ. Peter followed, at a distance. See, Peter is now wanting to watch. But he’s probably forgotten about that prediction that Jesus made. In fact, we know he has! Because John helps to get Peter into the inner courtyard where Jesus is being tried. 

Three times, Scripture tells us, that Peter did indeed deny his Christ there. When the cock crowed upon the third time it says he went away despairing. He knew in that instance everything that Christ had said, the whole ministry, must have come rushing back to his mind.

But here’s the turning point, on Sunday morning when there came a knock at the door, and the women were saying the tomb was empty, it says that Peter and John ran to the tomb. In fact, it’s more specific than that. When John’s gospel is written, John says that he beat Peter but when Peter got there he didn’t respectfully stand outside of the empty tomb. Peter went all the way in just like we would expect that child to do! He didn’t stand aside. He went in to see for himself that Christ’s body was resurrected and was not there. 

Do You Love Me?

Then, the next time we see Peter he’s fishing and Jesus is on the seashore. He’s asking them if they have caught anything. Peter says,“ If you say to put the nets on the other side that’s what I’ll do.” He does and they make a catch. It’s on that seashore that day that Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter at first flippantly answers, “You know that I love you!”

Jesus looks at him again and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, I love you!” Then Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.” And a third time, three times, once for each one of Peter’s denial, Jesus Christ affirms Peter back, all the way back, as a disciple of Christ.

So this Peter who denied, this Peter who was rash, this Peter who acted before he thought, Jesus pulled him all the way back, forgave and affirmed him for his denial, and launched him into ministry that still blesses Christians today as he was an example on the day of Pentecost. You’ll read in the book of Acts that it’s says, “…And Peter, taking his stand.” Yes, it was on the day of Pentecost that among all the other disciples, when everyone was criticizing them and assuming that they were drunk, it was Peter who stood up and made the case for Christ.

Obviously, he went on to write first and second Peter. We also know that when it came time for Peter to die he refused to be crucified in the same way that Christ had been and was actually crucified upside down. 

Be Encouraged, Mom

Look, it’s very easy to get discouraged with our “that child” and it’s very easy for us to think that God cannot use them. But I think today’s example of Peter is a primary example of the fact that God does need strong men and women, often we refer to them as “that kid”, to grow his kingdom, to stand up for Him.

They’re going to make mistakes, just like Peter did. 

They’re going to be rash, just like Peter did.

But do you see how beautifully Christ kept drawing Peter in, and affirming him, and being patient with him?

Mom, that’s our job. Our job is to not break their passion, to not steal their charisma, to not discourage their enthusiasm, but to bend it in the direction of Jesus Christ so that they can change the world for the goodness and the glory of God.

Go and enjoy your “that child”. God has great plans for them, and God has great plans for you, too, Mom.