There’s only one season, other than Fall, that makes it on my “Top Ten” favorite things, and that is the Christmas season. I love the smells, the food, the music, and since I am Puerto Rican, I get a double heaping and get to enjoy all of those things in two languages/cultures. Bonus reel: my husband and I began to date during this season 22 years ago. We were the stars of our very own Hallmark movie! Christmas is special for many reasons for different people. And yet, it can also be a sad and/or frustrating time of the year that some can’t wait to be done with it.
Let me set the record straight, I am not a Grinch. This post isn’t intending to make you feel guilty about having either 100 presents or just one under your tree. Whether you’re having 50 of your closest friends over, or if you’re spending Christmas in your jammies by yourself. I’ve had each of those experiences and I can tell you some have been great, and some sad. I just want to share my heart and what I’ve been able to observe and reflect on the past twenty-plus years as it pertains to this special holiday.
As Christians, we are told over and over, “Christ is the Reason for the Season,” and all the clichés and guilt trips that go along with that statement; but, do we really understand, or do we just have these sentiments playing on a memory loop as we continue to strive to be all things Christmas, as seen on TV?
Not only have I been a witness to other’s sadness and frustration, I too have experienced it. I recall one Christmas where I had become resolute in my Christianese to be “all about Jesus.” As Christmas drew nearer, I looked under the “empty tree” and panicked. I had just seen posts on Facebook of friends whose children had gone from relative to relative opening their hoard of gifts and they still had a massive stash at home to open from Santa. GASP!! Our girls only had about five presents each, and one of them was pajamas. The pangs of guilt (and jealousy, let’s just keep it real) filled my heart and I, the woman who does not like to shop, found myself at the mall panicking and buying anything I could find to place under that tree. I’m pretty sure I emptied the dollar bin at Target that year. I felt like such a loser. Because “nothing was good enough” and how exactly do I put Jesus under that tree and give my children the WOW factor that comes with the Greatest Gift of all. Never mind the “shopping hangover” that I had Christmas morning, between my checkbook laughing at me for emptying the account on worthless items and realizing that my children only enjoyed the original four to five gifts under the tree, I learned a valuable lesson that year.
I have even tried coming up with a tradition that would meet all the Christmas movie requirements, so our house would feel “Christmassy,” only to realize that I just want to be available to Jesus for however He wants to use each of us or our family. The best we can ever do is BE the hands and feet of Jesus, and to do that we need to be available.
It is so hard for the human ego to understand that you cannot be the greatest gift giver, you never will be – even if you have unlimited spending ability. The greatest gift will never come from you. It doesn’t matter how many presents you place under the tree, in the stockings, etc. The Greatest Gift came from God just a little more than 2,000 years ago. When you know Jesus and understand the cost of His present, it is salve for your soul.
The best thing we can do is bless one another and that’s what Christmas has become at our house – a time of blessing. Sometimes those blessings arrive in pretty packages wrapped with love and a bow on top; sometimes those blessings come wrapped in a hug and a kind word. We keep our lists small and our hearts ready to receive and be the blessings of the season.
It’s Christmas at our house and carols are playing in the background, Hallmark movies are on the TV, and we are preparing our hearts to be renewed as we celebrate the Greatest Gift ever given to mankind. This Christmas, may you find not just presents under your tree, but the presence of Jesus in your heart. O’ Come Emmanuel!
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. — Proverbs 19:21
In my early years as a mother, I was often overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility combined with the unpredictability of babies and toddlers. Nothing in my academic or professional life had prepared me for this challenge!
I tried to control the chaos by creating systems of planning, goal setting, and time management. That’s a rather grandiose way to describe my early hand-scrawled lists taped to the wall above our kitchen table so I could try to keep track of everything. I found so much satisfaction in accomplishment that I sometimes wrote down tasks I had already completed just for the pleasure of crossing them off the list!
Over the years my system became more elaborate, with carefully categorized daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and life plans. I developed a home study course for sharing it and began speaking about how to get things done. It was thrilling to discover that my system worked well for other people too.
But a system isn’t enough.
Lists, charts, and schedules can be wonderful tools to help us be good stewards of our time and our lives. But I’ve learned that while plans are good servants, they can be terrible masters. We can become so focused on checking tasks off our lists that we run roughshod over the people around us. Our plans can even become idols. Successful planning can create pride, arrogance, and an illusion that we really are in control . . . but we’re not. Our days and hours are ultimately in God’s hands, not ours.
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. — Proverbs 16:9
So should we just throw planning out the window? Not at all. The important thing is our heart attitude—our willingness to trust God’s providence and lean on His guidance . . . even when life doesn’t follow our plans. How we handle interruptions is a good way to gauge this.
We must pray for discernment to know how to respond to each situation. Sometimes the appropriate response is to ignore an interruption and continue the task at hand. At other times, an interruption is a signal to be sensitive to God’s timing and to recognize an opportunity to serve someone who really needs us. C. S. Lewis said, “What one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day.” This realization has softened and enriched my overachiever approach to planning.
English nun Janet Erskine Stuart’s attitude provides a wonderful reminder of how God’s providence applies to interruptions. Her assistant’s explanation convicts and encourages me, and I hope it will do the same for you:
She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship, was securing the accomplishment of His will, and working out His own designs. Whether she traced the secondary causes to the prayer of a child, the imperfection of an individual, to obstacles arising from misunderstandings, or to interference of outside agencies, she was joyfully and gracefully ready to recognize the indication of God’s ruling hand, and to allow herself to be guided by it. (Maud Monahan, The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart, 93)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
October 31, 2017, known as Reformation Day, marks the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which began when Martin Luther nailed his list of ninety-five theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in the German town of Wittenberg. The list, which outlined a number of abuses by the Roman Catholic Church, was a bold public statement by Luther, although he probably had no idea just how significant his actions would prove in the aftermath of that fateful day in 1517.
Of course, history tells the story of trials, resolve, martyrdom, and great awakenings that were born out of the Reformation. Meanwhile, the Word of God spread like wildfire as the Scriptures were translated into common languages (by Luther and others) for the first time and the development of the printing press made it possible for ordinary people to read and study the Bible for themselves.
Any number of Protestant denominations arose out of the Reformation, including the Lutherans, Methodists, Calvinists (Reformed churches), Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, and more.
So what was so revolutionary about Luther’s ninety-five theses that it changed Christendom forever? Now that five hundred years of dust has settled, what are the major takeaways from this momentous event?
Perhaps the most important theological understanding that emerged from the Reformation is the preeminence of Scripture in our lives and faith. Prior to Luther’s act, believers considered the church and its leaders in Rome to be the ultimate authority on any doctrinal issue. But today, numerous churchgoers might say, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.”
However, there are really five major pillars, all closely related, that came out of the Reformation and have stood the test of time:
Sola Scriptura. Sola scriptura is Latin for “by Scripture alone,” meaning that the Word of God is the sole infallible authority over Christian faith and practice. “All scripture is breathed out by God . . . that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Sola Gratia. Sola gratia means “by grace alone.” This means that the totality of our salvation is a gift of grace from God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Sola Fide. Sola fide is Latin for “by faith alone.” In other words, salvation comes by way of faith, not by works. We can do nothing to earn or buy our way into heaven. When the jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Paul also wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. . . . For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith” (Romans 1:16-17).
Sola Christus. Sola Christus means “in Christ alone.” This is the belief that Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man, and He is the only way to salvation. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Soli Deo Gloria. Soli Deo gloria is Latin for “glory to God alone.” In other words, we must give every part of our lives to God and do all for His glory alone. Johann Sebastian Bach signed each of his compositions with the initials SDG to declare that God alone was to receive the glory for the wonders of His creation and redemption. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In 1521, a few years after the incident at Wittenburg, Martin Luther stood trial before an assembly of the Holy Roman Empire and was ordered to recant his teachings. Although the words were not recorded in the trial transcript, tradition holds that Luther concluded his defense by saying, “Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
Do you stand with Luther? Do you stand on Scripture alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone?
O Lord God Almighty, I come before you now in humility, with a heart full of gratitude for your amazing grace that saves this wretch. Thank you for saving me by faith in Christ alone. Thank you for your Son, your Word made flesh. Thank you for the Scriptures, which reveal the truth of my sinful state and the means by which I can be saved. To you be all glory, now and forevermore. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
© 2017 Davis Carman
Rage. It’s very intense, and it’s embarrassing when it’s happening to you, you can’t believe it. I know as a young mother, I was like “I didn’t sign up for this, this isn’t what I wanted”. I couldn’t believe that it was happening, and I always wanted to go “Shh! Shh shh!” when it was happening. And I’ll be honest, it happened a lot. My oldest son was my original “that” child, I had that one first, and I learned so much for which I am retrospectively grateful, but at the time I was just mortified at the way he’d rage.
If you have a ‘that’ child that’s doing this raging, I want you to know this: you’re not alone. Say it with me: NOT ALONE. There are others of us that have these kids that just rage, and we don’t understand it, and it’s kinda terrifying. But I want to tell you this: they’re not broken…
What I know now, and I didn’t know then, is that often they’ve just got so much bottled up inside of them. So many ideas, so much they want to say, so much they want to do, so much frustration, so much creativity. It can all just bottle up in their little body and they don’t know how to navigate all that.
I would actually describe Charles, when he was younger, as the proverbial volcano. And he would blow all the time, it was completely unpredictable. And yes, it had seismic consequences for the rest of us when he’d do it. But it was not unusual for him to rage not just once a day, but multiple times a day.
I remember one day in particular, he was two and a half and his next sibling, younger brother Anderson, was just a baby. I had just changed Anderson on the floor in our bedroom where I had this little changing station. Charles went into a rage and actually ran into the bedroom where that baby was on the floor and locked the door. I was terrified, because I didn’t know what he might to do the baby on the floor. I was shaking trying to get the latch to unlock the door to get in there. I’m so grateful he didn’t even try to do anything to the baby but he was running around the room just screaming…
Mom, you have to know that you’re not alone if that’s happening to you. Not even close to being alone. At the time when he would go into these rages, he would yell and scream these things that didn’t make any sense. Like something had gone off inside him and he couldn’t stop. I felt very compassionate towards him, I felt like I needed to do something in that moment to help him, I didn’t think it would be healthy for him to just continue to run around in circles. So what I did, and what seemed to be very effective with him at the time, is I’d take him into my arms to restrain him even in the midst of his yelling and screaming. I would sit on the floor with him, and put my hands between one of his legs, and I’d put my arm down to hold my leg, and I’d just rock him back and forward and he would just yell and scream and yell and scream and all I knew to do was to sing to him.
There we would sit, Charles in a rage, and I would sing “Peace perfect peace”, I would sing “holy holy holy”, I would sing “Jesus loves me” and just rock him. Sometimes it took every verse of every hymn I could think of in that moment… it did work though and he would finally let go. I’m guessing you know what that’s like mom, if you have one of these kids. You know that’s what they do.
He just had to let it run its course and completely wear himself out. And on the other side of it he was just physically… done and just completely drained. We would both be crying by the time it was done because it’s just so intense for both of us. I know that if this is happening at your house its intense for you too. I wish I could just give you a hug, mama, I wish I could just somehow assure you with more than just my words through a screen. But I want to tell you this: you’re not alone and its not your imagination.
What you need to make sure that you’re communicating in those moments with ‘that’ kid is that you love them, and that you’re on their team. You want to be as much of a calming effect as you can possibly be. Yelling? Screaming at them? Thats only going to make it worse. That’s not blessing them, that’s not helping them, that’s not meeting them where they are.
One of the wonderful things I love about scripture and Jesus in the New Testament throughout the gospels is He always met the people where they were. I mean that’s glorious! Obviously, there were occasions like the sermon on the mount where the people came to Him, but there were so many other examples where He actually met the another person right where they were.
I think when our kids are raging, we should step back and imagine what its like to be them. Haven’t you ever wanted to throw a fit? Haven’t you ever wanted to throw yourself in the middle of the floor and just yell and scream because things aren’t going your way? Of course you have, just like I have! What we need to give to them in that moment is a whole lot of compassion, and a whole lot of grace. Just like our Father gives us in our ugly moments. Just be there with your precious child, in that moment.
Hold them, calm them. Don’t contribute to it! Because you know what? They can’t, they just cant…
I don’t know if this will terrify you or encourage you, but I want to tell you that, generally with “that” child, it doesn’t necessarily go away with age. It might morph become a more sophisticated rage. As they age it’s probably not so much the yelling and screaming and running around in circles. Often it becomes this emotional pit that you just can’t believe you’re in the middle of. I mean surely I’m speaking to somebody out there when I say that nobody prepared me for a twelve year old boy. They can be so incredibly challenging. They’ve still got all those ideas, They’ve still got all those frustrations. They’ve still got all of this energy, and now they’ve got all the hormones too. God has wired them this way, and one of the primary things they need from us is our acceptance. They need to know that we get them. If we’re continually fighting with them about the way God made them, what does that say about God? What does that say about them? What does that say about us?
I think the most powerful thing we can do for them is to really be for them and with them in that moment.
My current “that” child and I had a moment earlier this summer where he just took a left turn and started spinning out of control. Everyone was against him and everyone was mad at him, and nobody understood him. (Side note: I think that language is a cue to us moms, the “Everybody”, “always”, ”never”, “nobody”, “all the time”, “every time”, and it just keeps going on and on. You and I know it’s not true, but they can’t think it through.) So in this moment, he couldn’t think clearly and he couldn’t stay on topic. He kept coming back to something that didn’t matter over and over and over.
It was well past my bedtime when it started, I was literally in my pajamas. He had had a conflict with his brother in another room, and he comes into my room angry. At this point I’m halfway to sleep, eight o’clock is my bed time so I was out. But Davis and I got up so we could engage. You can’t really engage when you’re horizontal. So we’re up, and we’re just keep cycling and going through the same thing over and over. And Davis was speaking at a conference first thing in the morning so I said, “Look, you need to go to bed. I’m here”
I literally sat on the floor with my child for two and a half hours. I was telling him how much I love him, going through that same conversation over, and over, and over and over. I sat there, in my pajamas, into the night because that’s what we get to do. Did you catch that? Thats what we get to do. We get to be with them in that moment of total and utter frustration. We get to be with them and show them love and compassion.
We get to experience the holy sovereign God’s mighty patience with us, that we know we don’t have in that moment.
Trust me, when this starts happening, I want to yell and scream myself. I really do. I want to get all frustrated, and say things that should never be said. But when I don’t do those things, I get to experience the holy spirit coming, and giving me strength I don’t have in and of myself. You know what I’m doing the whole time? I’m praying “God give me discernment, God give me grace, give me eyes to see what I cant see, open my ears to what I can’t hear.”
When we do that with that kid, we’re communicating a level of love to them that is just immeasurable and invaluable. So I want to invite you to reframe this. I get that it’s frustrating. Lets just all admit it and give that one a big hug. But the God of the universe has a plan to shape you through this, and to shape that child through this.
I have been so shaped through this, I am sooo grateful. I am so grateful, if I had never had “that” child, I would’ve thought I was a fabulous mom. If I had only ever had my other kids that are compliant, and obedient, I would’ve thought I was amazing! I would’ve had more judgement than anybody should ever have for anybody else because I would’ve thought it was all about me and my skills as the world’s greatest mom. It has been through having “that” child, that God has taught me and He’s broken me.
I now know all I have is Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Heavenly Father to help me do what I knew I couldn’t do.
Look, along the way I learned some things I didn’t know so I want to go over a few of the potential reasons behind the rage.
- It’s chemistry
They’re a chemical project. They have chemicals in their body that are simply not balanced. We found out that with Charles by keeping a journal. Red food coloring and cinnamon would actually trigger Charles rages.
One morning we were having cinnamon rolls for breakfast on a Sunday, and he actually threw a plate at me! It was pretty evident that there was something chemically inside of him, that didn’t know how to process red food coloring and cinnamon.
I don’t know what that is for your “that” child but it’s worth keeping a journal to see if you find any trend or pattern..
Another thing is that affects “that child” is stress. They have stress that they can’t always process. What complicates this is they don’t have the communication skills that you and I have, to say “I’m stressed” and “I can’t handle anymore” So the combination of the stress, and the lack of communication skills, makes for a messy cocktail when they’ve got both of those going on at the same time. And so again our compassion, and our ability to be the mature one and not reduce ourselves, and not give into our stress like they are. We just need to keep breathing in the midst of it.
The hormone thing is not something to be underestimated. When all those hormones coursing through their veins, and all those changes are going on and they’ve got all this going on in their head, it’s just a very intense time for them.
The first book I read in high school was “to kill a mockingbird”, and it just became my favorite book of all time. In it, Atticus Finch talks about the value of walking around in someone else’s shoes. Mom, I want to invite you to consider what it’s like to be “that” kid. I promise you, it’s not easy. They feel all the stress, they feel this need to communicate something. They know they can’t, and they don’t like it. But, they don’t know what else to do.
When I first started with my “that child”, it was all about me and I was so embarrassed and I felt ashamed and I was sure I was a failure. But I’ve learned so much since then. Please, please put yourself in your child’s shoes. What are they going through? How did we get here? What have they eaten? What stressors are going on with them? Because what I’ve found “that” child needs consistency like nobody’s business. And that’s hard. It’s hard with one, it’s hard with two, three, four, five, six or seven.
I know you’re wondering, “What does an Oreo cookie have to do with ‘that’ child?” Well, let me tell you. And before any of you email me or comment saying I should not eat these, I want to assure you that I cannot possibly keep these at my home because I would become an Oreo cookie. I do love them but I don’t eat them often at all, probably biannually.
I want you to think about an Oreo cookie: you’ve got two chocolates, and the creamy stuff in the middle. It’s actually the original sandwich cookie right? So that’s what you’ve got here, and now I want to give you some tools to deal with the raging, whether it’s young or old, and to deal with your exhaustion.
First of all, I want to challenge you to surrender to the Lord. That’s right. It may sound trite, you may say “Rachael, I’ve already done that”. Well, I’m saying do it again. Surrender to God, and start every day praying and saying “This is your day, have it your way. This is your kid, teach me who they are for your kingdom. Equip me to be the mom, that that kid needs me to be.”
Surrender to God every day.
Next, if this raging thing is pretty basic and on going in your home, I want to challenge you to plan a conversation. Yes, there’s no point in going through this cycle over and over again. I want you to plan to have a conversation with “that” kid about the raging. Now, it’s very important that you make sure they know this isn’t about punishment. This is not you intimidating, this is not about “hey, you’re in trouble”. This is you saying “Hey, I want to have a conversation with you. Do you have some time this afternoon?” Or, if they’re younger than than go “Hey, let’s make some cookies” or “Lets cut up an apple” or “Lets sit on the porch. I’d like to talk to you about something.” And frame it as positively as you possibly can. Build anticipation! If it’s an older child say something like “Lets go for a drive” and they’ll say “Oh cool what are we gonna talk about?” And you can reply “That’ll be a surprise! I’ve been really wanting to spend some time with you and I’m really looking forward to it!”
So you’re planning this conversation; they’re excited and looking forward to it. I want you to plan to discuss four things:
- Bless your child
I want you to tell them you’re so grateful that God sent them to live at your house and in your family. Tell them you’re so excited about the young man or young woman they’re turning out to be.
- Praise your child
“So what do you think are a few things that are going really well right now?” and then give an idea or two that you can see. Find some positives and really talk about how your child is doing well! I promise, you can find them. And if and you can’t, ask God and He’ll show you something. Find SOMETHING that they’re doing real well.
- Ask your child
“Can you think of some things you need to work on? Some areas that need some improvement?” Look, that kid knows they’re raging. They’re not going to be surprised, and they’re probably going to be the one to bring it up; you probably won’t even have to!
- Ask your child
“How do you think I can help?” Don’t jump in immediately with a solution. Be quiet and listen. That’s right, just listen to what they have to say. They might say “I have no idea what you could do to help” or you know what, they might say “When I’m doing that, I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop asking me questions. Or if I could just go to my room for a few minutes. Or maybe I could just walk around the house for a few minutes” They probably have some ideas on what you could do to help them! And some of the things they might suggest, might hurt a little bit. But I want to dare you, listen. And listen. And see what you can learn about that kid. Ask how it makes them feel, or maybe even ask how you think you’re contributing to the problem (if you dare). And I promise you they’re gonna tell you, and it’s going to be an amazing time.
I found that with my oldest son, when I dared to have this conversation when he was fairly young, he totally got it! He knew that he was raging, he knew that he was out of control, but he didn’t know what to do to stop it. Giving him a setting in which he could have that conversation, was powerful for him.
Affirm for them how difficult it is to deal with stress, how difficult it is to deal with frustrations. How difficult it is to deal with change or when things don’t go as planned. Affirm that you too get frustrated, and exhausted. That you too get frustrated when things don’t work out. Remind them that you’re in this together, that’s the number one thing you wanna communicate. You’re on their team against this problem of rage. It’s not you, against them, against the rage. It’s you and them against the rage, shoulder to shoulder. I told my that child, and they one I’ve got going now, “You’re stuck with me, you can’t lose me in a crowd. I’m determined, we’re gonna fight this out together.” Make sure you communicate, that you are on their team.
Next, strategize how you can work this out. When “that” kid is starting to feel those feelings coming up inside and let me tell you, they can feel it coming on. Strategize some terminology so they can come to you and say “I’m feeling off, it’s coming on” just pick a phrase or a word they can say to you or you can say to them when you see it beginning. The phrase I used with my oldest son was “You’re getting close to the edge” And often time when I would say that to him, not always but often times, it was like a wakeup call for him. And sometimes he would just come to me and say “I’m off”
Your “that” kid needs to have permission to come to you and have a timeout of their own. A self-initiated timeout. They don’t want to rage so give them permission to come to you, or to go to their room, or go for a walk, or even just take a rest. Something positive or constructive they can do to avoid going into that rage.
And the last thing, you need to pray together. Make sure the first time you’re praying, that you’re surrendering to God. This isn’t just you and God in this last step, this is you praying WITH that child. If they need anything from you, aside from their compassion, they need you to pray with them.
So back to our Oreo cookie. You’re going to pray, you’re going to do the conversation in between, and you’re going to pray on the other side too, just like this Oreo. I cannot guarantee this will be a one-time conversation. In fact, I can promise you’re going to have this conversation over and over and over and it’s worth it. So just resolve to dig in, resolve to have compassion, and resolve to persevere as you raise your world changer.
What do you think? Do we pray against God’s will? I believe we do. Without realizing it.
We ask God to bless us or someone else, to meet our needs or someone else’s, to give us wisdom to make a decision, or to cause certain events to occur.
But sometimes, God is not obligated to answer…with a yes answer. Why? Because we ask amiss. James said, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:3 NLT) We ask, by definition, badly, evilly, miserably, or grievously.
Aren’t our motives mostly centered on selfish desires: what we want, when we want it, and how we want it? Do we ever truly say, “Not my will but Yours, Lord”?
What about the events taking place around the world or in our own country? Are these things happening in accordance with God’s plan, maybe even to usher in Jesus’ return? So, then, do we pray for peace or other things that may not be God’s purpose?
What did Jesus teach about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount?
“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
(Matt. 6:9-10 NLT)
What were the first three priorities in Jesus’ model prayer? God the Father’s name being kept holy, His kingdom, and His will.
Before any petitions are made…
1) we are to hallow His name.
To venerate, to declare sacred, to honor His holy name. As the Lord told Moses, “You must not treat Me as common and ordinary. Revere Me and hallow Me.” (Lev. 22:32a TLB)
We celebrate Him in our worship, for He is worthy “to receive glory and honor” (Rev. 4:11), to be held in reverence and praised. David said, “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.” (Ps. 18:3 NKJV)
2) we are to invoke His kingdom to come.
Where is the kingdom? Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:7 NKJV) At hand, where? “The kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].” (Luke 17:21 Amp)
We pray not just for His kingdom at hand on earth now but also for His heavenly kingdom to come to earth again. We pray that earth will be made more like heaven through the observance of God’s will.
3) we are to ask that His will be done. The observance of His will is that it should be obeyed. On earth as it is in heaven.
God’s will is what He desires, purposes, and has determined to be done on earth. It is His established kingdom rule in heaven being accomplished on earth by, for, and through His people.
Later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33 NKJV) What things? The things Jesus mentioned right before that, the things we eat, drink, and wear. Those things necessary to living.
The three things listed above should be first in our hearts before petitions are presented at the throne of grace.
Then, petitions can be made for all that sustains life.
Prayer is not just a list of one’s requests for God to do something. It is time spent in the presence of His holiness, at the foot of the throne of heaven. Sitting. Listening. Communing. Presenting our requests in faith. And relinquishing our hold on them.
All prayers should be wrapped in faith’s envelope and sealed with the kiss of thanksgiving.
All our prayers should end with the thought of the words Eli spoke to Samuel, “It is the Lord’s will…Let him do what he thinks best.” (1 Sam. 3:18 NLT)
Lord, Your will be done. Do what You think is best.
So, what do you think: do we pray against God’s will?
Assuming you have done some prayerful preparation and planning for the upcoming school year, now you are ready to discuss your plan with your husband. As you seek to go forward, united in training up your children, make this a high priority.
I realize that some husbands merely tolerate their wife’s desire to homeschool. These fathers choose against being genuinely engaged and settle for the sideline. If this describes your home, I want to encourage you to invite him to be a part. Inviting is different from guilting or badgering or manipulating or belittling. Don’t assume he doesn’t want to be a part of the homeschool adventure this year. Invite him to join you and the kids.
Ask your husband to set aside a specific time and date to discuss the coming school year with you. Tell him you want to let him know what you are planning and you want his support and insight. He will probably see some things in your planning that you missed. It is also important to review the objectives of your homeschool and remember that you are working together to bring the children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Suggested course of action:
- Pray. Whether your husband is supportive or merely tolerant, pray that God would bless your meeting. Here are several things to bring before the throne:
- Thank God for having a plan for your homeschool, for going before, walking with you and coming behind you.
- Pray that He would grant you and your husband wisdom and understanding.
- Pray that God would glorify Himself through your homeschool.
- Ask the Lord that you and your husband would be united, that He would grant your husband a vision for his family and that you would joyfully support him as his wife.
- Ask that God would grant you the time to meet with your husband and that he would engage in the discipleship of the children.
- Praise His name for all He is going to do!
- Set the date. Look at your calendars and choose a day you can sit down together to focus and discuss the coming home school year. Be considerate of his time and schedule. Many husbands are used to attending meetings with a clear agenda. Let him know what you want to discuss so he does not feel like he is put on the spot or unprepared for the discussion.
A few items you might discuss:
- Guiding Bible verse for the school year
- Review of roles
- Responsibilities for the individual children
- Proposed routine
- The subjects to be studied
- Prayer requests
- Set the stage. Plan the meeting to be just the two of you without the kids, if possible. You might trade off watching the kids with another homeschool mom. Try and make sure you won’t have any interruptions so that you can have a productive meeting. If you go somewhere, make sure it’s somewhere you can talk. If you stay in, make the setting as peaceful as possible. Most men enjoy a good dinner, consider making one of his favorite meals. Take a cue from Esther!
- Go Forward with Confidence. Now, make it happen. Talk with your husband, plan the evening, gather your visual aids such as your planner and various books from the curriculum you want to show him and have a great meeting.
It’s important to note that some husbands want to engage but they don’t know how. You might want to have some activities that your husband can take full ownership of – here’s a few ideas:
- Choose the year’s Bible verse
- Read aloud to the children each day
- Go over a particular subject with a child
- Plan and carry out specific outings or field trips
- Give you some time each week to plan by doing an activity with the kids
- Direct family worship
- Pray for specific challenges/opportunities
Again, it is important that we do not nag our husbands into helping, but rather invite them to be involved as they are able. We need to make sure that we don’t exclude them or make them feel that there is no place for them because we dominate and reject their help and input. As you’re planning, search diligently for a way to engage your husband’s talents and interests and encourage him to play an active role in your homeschool.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!