“God never put anyone in a place too small to grow in.”
~ Henrietta C. Mears
About four years ago, my husband and I were hired to job-share a full-time position as Directors of Family Discipleship at a church in my hometown. We each worked twenty hours, and I did some freelance writing on the side. For the first time in my 5 years as a mother, I felt like I had found a balance that worked for me between working outside the home and being home with my kids. About a year into this new way of life, my husband began to pursue ordination, and I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child. My husband’s transition to full-time pastoral work at our church coincided with the birth of our daughter and the restructuring of my schedule to very part-time work at the church, and no margin for freelance writing. I struggled for months. Good things had been happening at our church, I was getting more writing opportunities, and it was energizing to be a part of everything. I was confused by what felt like an abrupt narrowing of a world that had seemed to be opening up before me.
As my husband began to expand his work wardrobe to accommodate a full work week, I stocked up on leggings. I sent my husband off to the best staff meetings I had ever been a part of, then turned around and drove the carpool. While he had the luxury of scheduling his work in 5 days each week, I would get as much as I could done in one day and then fit things in after bedtime each night. I loved being with our girls, but I also felt a deep sense of loss. I felt like the Lord had put me in a small place, and I didn’t see any room for growth. My prayer journals at this time are marked by direct honesty with the Lord about my confusion, sadness, and frustration.
After several months of these prayers, I read the story of Jesus in the temple as a boy in Luke 2. The phrase “the boy Jesus” strikes me every time I read it. Not the “Savior Jesus,” not the “All-Powerful Jesus,” not the “Messiah Jesus.” Though he was all these things and more, Luke calls him here “the boy Jesus.” As I reflected on this phrase, I was filled with awe that the Savior of the world would become a twelve-year-old boy. As I wondered what it was like for Jesus to return home with Mary & Joseph and to be “submissive to them,” I prayed that the Holy Spirit would birth this kind of submission to Christ in my life. As I contemplated the incarnation, the mystery that Jesus became limited and entered the small places, I realized that he understands what it is to hold a calling close in obscurity and wait. And then my eyes were drawn to the end of the passage, where it says that during this time, Jesus grew, not just physically, but also spiritually, and in favor with God. Friends, if Jesus grew in the small places, there is room enough there for all of us to grow. In my own story, the small place has borne fruit I couldn’t have dreamed of as I furiously scribbled prayers two and a half years ago.
In this small place, I have grown to know the deep and abiding love of Jesus, not connected to productivity or performance, but given freely by his grace over and over and over again. I have learned that there is no place too small for his love, no life too hidden for him to find, no one so obscure as to escape his notice. I have experienced that, while Jesus delights in our growth, the fruit of our careers, and the work we do at home, it is us that he loves. And there is no place too small for that love to bear fruit in our lives.
Read Luke 2:41-52 and try to imagine the story as you read it. What stands out to you? What do you wonder about this passage? What would you like to say to Jesus?
What places in your life feel too small or narrow for growth to you? Can you be honest with Jesus about these places? Can you ask the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in your life in these narrow places?
God who sees all hidden things, let me catch your gaze today, in my small and hidden moments. Jesus, remind me of your willingness to be made small for the sake of your love and cause that same willingness to grow within me. Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see you in the small and hidden things.
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Acts 8:30-31 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.
"How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Some of the most important work in the church’s year is taking place this week. It’s our annual Summer Kids Club and this year’s theme is all about being treasured by God. The kids love the singing, story-telling, crafts and games, and our church is so blessed with many faithful volunteers.
Those volunteers are crucial to passing on our faith to the next generation. Their week-long commitment is a life-long investment in the spirits of our children. Years after the SKC program is over, some of the kids will remember their friends, families, and church workers enjoying the whole experience. Hopefully, it will keep them positively connected to God and the lessons that they learn will give them the godly guidance to help them make good decisions in their lives.
In today’s passage (Acts 8:26-31), the apostle Philip is urged by the Holy Spirit to walk alongside a fellow traveler. The man on horseback is reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah but he does not understand what is written. Philip has been placed there beside him to interpret the writings and tell the Ethiopian about Jesus. The consequences of this conversation will have a profound effect on the travelers and will introduce the Gospel to Africa.
As Christians, we are all called to share our faith and help other people understand who Jesus is. Philip did this for the Ethiopian; our SKC team is doing it for the children. The question we should all be asking ourselves today is this: where will the Spirit place me today to share Christ?
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank You for the inspiration that You have given to Christ’s followers throughout the centuries. Thank You for the work of evangelists like Philip and faithful people like Summer Kids Club volunteers. May their ministries plant seeds of faith, which will bear much fruit in the generations to come. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen.
What an amazing time the kids, volunteers and staff are having at SKC!
Here is just part of what they are learning:
Day 1: God know you. "O Lord, You have examined my heart and You know everything about me. Psalm 139:1
Day 2: God hears you. "I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy." Psalm 116:1
Day 3: God comforts you. "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others." 2 Corinthians 1:4
Day 4: God forgives you. "But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become any and rich in unfailing love." Nehemiah 9:17
Day 5: God chooses you. "I have called you by name; you are Mine." Isaiah 43:1
If you have kids in grades 5-7, or know someone who does, still time to RSVP for our SKC in August: click here.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had (Acts 4:32, NIV).
Friend to Friend
“What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine.” My husband and I used to joke that this was the unspoken motto of our kids when they were little. Toddlers have no qualms about grabbing a toy, snack, or any random item of interest from other people or pets. It’s rare to see a child share her cherished possessions generously.
It can be hard for all of us to share.
Media bombards us with marketing campaigns that tell us we are the center of the universe. “You, you, you, you, you!”
Time and time again we hear that this life is all about us. The more we have, the happier we’ll be. The bigger that bank account, the more blessed the life.
I sincerely hope that none of us believe these lies. They’re dangerous deceptions.
How does this mentality slip into our realities? Sometimes we don’t want to share our time or our space. Sometimes we don’t want to share our loved ones or our gifts. Sometimes we don’t want to share our resources. And sometimes we just want to be left to ourselves and don’t want to share anything!
But God calls each of us to share.
The early New Testament church shows us that generous living honors God and blesses others. In Acts 4:32-37, we see an amazing snapshot of generous giving in the early church. The believers were one in heart and mind. They were supernaturally unified to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and there wasn’t a needy person among them.
Giving wasn’t political. It wasn’t mandatory. It wasn’t done begrudgingly.
"…they shared everything they had"(Acts 4:32).
"The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 11:29-30).
"But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving … For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have"(I Corinthians 8:7,12).
Everything that the believers owned belonged to God, and they knew it. They placed what they had before the leaders in selfless acts of worship … for the glory of God and the provision of others. This principle is important, but it’s also counter-cultural.
True life, a blessed life, an abundant life, a purposed life, is, in fact, all about God and His glory. What we have, have given birth to, or hold onto is really not our own. All of our treasures are just on loan to us for a breath of a moment by our more-than-generous Creator.
And each day brings us new opportunities to be good stewards. And, generous living reflects God’s gracious giving.
Let’s face it; it’s just not always easy or natural to be generous. Perhaps you've been taken advantage of or have been hurt by the deception of another. There are risks to giving. The generous giving of the early church blessed the lives of their people. When we share what we have, God is honored, and needs are met.
The risks are worth taking.
I’m not suggesting a Robin Hood philosophy of “take from the rich and give to the poor.” And I don’t believe in the politics of communism or socialism. This principle of generous giving is Biblical. It’s an act of worship to God. It matters to God, and it should matter to us.
Let’s reject the toddler mentality of “what’s mine is mine.”
God loves a cheerful giver.
It's a blessing to give to others.
Join me today in telling God, “Lord, what’s mine is Yours."
Dear Lord, Thanks for this reminder from Your Word. You are lavish in love and have given me so much. All I have is Yours. Please help me to excel in the grace and worship of giving. Open my eyes to opportunities to bless others for Your glory.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
How do you feel about your people, passions, and possessions?
Have you shared generously lately?
Is God bringing anyone to your mind that could use your help or generosity?
Read and meditate on 2 Corinthians 8:1-15.
Remember, giving isn’t always about money. We can give in many ways; service, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a dinner to a new mom, or time spent with an elderly friend. Go and bless someone today!
Blessed are those whose strength is in you (Psalm 84:5, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I stand in front of the mirror and ask my reflection, “How could you have done that?” I think back to an incident yesterday where I was not at my best. As much as I want to, I can’t take back the words I said. Why did I let my emotions get the best of me again?
I’ve done hard work in the area where I messed up. I’ve read books. Talked to my counselor and good friends. Prayed about it and written reminders of truth in my journal. At this moment it feels as if it’s all been for nothing. Have you ever been there too?
Then I recall a moment from graduate school. My professor stands at the board and draws a series of hills and valleys. He says, “People think growth is a straight line and that if they fail, they slide down back to the bottom.”
He points at the mountain he’s just drawn and says, “But this is what growth looks like. It’s a series of peaks and valleys. When we mess up, yes, we experience a valley. But we need to remember that valley doesn’t mean we’re back at the beginning. We’re so much higher up than when we began.”
As I recall his words, my perspective starts to shift. Yes, I messed up again. But I recognized it sooner and made it right faster than I would have years ago. That is what it means to grow.
I think all of us are in a valley we never expected right now because of Covid-19. Our routines have been disrupted. The rhythms of our lives altered. We’re dealing with stress and fear we couldn’t have imagined a few months ago. Here’s the reality: We’re going to mess up. Especially in the areas of our biggest struggles.
When this happens, we can tell ourselves that we have completely blown it. The progress we thought we’d made isn’t real. We can become our own worst critics. Or we can remember the mountain my professor drew.
David, the Psalmist and a man who experienced many peaks and valleys, said poetically…
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
David would likely have been thinking of the travelers who came to Zion on sacred pilgrimages. Their hearts were set on completing their journey. We’re also pilgrims in this world, and when we have setbacks it can be easy to believe we’ll never get where we’re going. But the promise of God is that it’s not all up to us. Grace gives us strength to get up and press forward when we stumble.
The original meaning of “the Valley of Baka” is “valley of weeping.” It can mean tears shed in sorrow but also in repentance. The valleys near David would have been desert-like and water was often scarce. To make such a valley a place of springs would mean to bring new hope to it. When we turn away from our struggles, we move toward life again. God redeems and restores, guides, and gives us what we need, turns the dry places of our souls into places where good things can grow.
Another phrase I love in this passage is, “they go from strength to strength.” We, as humans, can so easily feel we go from weakness to weakness. But that isn’t true. Because of Jesus, even on our worst days, in our weakest moments, we are still moving onward and upward. We are still going Home.
So let’s be gentle with ourselves, especially now. If we find ourselves in a valley let’s remember we have not completely failed. We are not starting over. We are so much higher up and further along than when we began.
Let’s be gentle with each other too. We’ve all been through a lot as humanity. None of us are at our best right now, but I still believe we’re better together. As the saying goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Right now we could also say, “Be kind, for everyone you meet could be walking through a valley.”
We are not perfect. But we are making progress every day.
Dear God, You say that Your strength is made perfect in my weakness, and I trust that You can redeem all things for good--even my mistakes. Thank You for being gentle with me. Please help me extend that same grace and gentleness to myself and others.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Reflecting on what my professor shared, take a moment to consider a valley you have walked through. What did you learn? How did you experience God’s presence and kindness in that season? Consider sharing a word of encouragement with a friend who is in a similar place today.
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Have you wondered how to discipline with love?
You want so badly for this to be a “growth moment” for both you and your child, but they will have none of it.
You’re frustrated almost to the point of anger and don’t seem to have any answers.
Discipline balanced with love always equals respect, but discipline without love always equals rebellion.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
If we discipline correctly, our kids may not always obey us, but they’ll always know we love them. When we balance discipline with love, children may not always agree with us, but they’ll still maintain respect for us. When we know how to discipline with love, our motives will be pure and won’t come into question.
Here are three super simple but important steps for how to discipline with love:
1. Talk with the child.
No child should ever be pulled by the ears to the bedroom or smacked upside the head and told to change. Discipline in the home should happen with the same love and tenderness our heavenly Father uses when he disciplines us as his children. He is patient and kind, yet he doesn’t budge an inch.
When children have done wrong and need discipline, the first step is to talk to them. Help them understand why they’re in trouble and what the discipline is specifically for.
2. Pray with them.
Once the discipline has been administered, prayer is essential. Not only does it communicate your love, but it also communicates God’s love and forgiveness toward them.
Prayer also helps children understand that their offense is against not just a person but ultimately against God himself.
3. Love on them.
After talking with the child and praying with them following discipline, it’s time to love them as they’ve never been loved before. Squeezing your child tight for an extended period of time communicates something that words can never express: unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness.
I’ve seen parents send kids to their room without doing any of the above. Other parents, after disciplining their children, storm out of the room angry. “Sit here and think about what you’ve done before you come back out,” they shout.
Doing that enough times is a surefire way to break a child’s spirit. But when you love them unconditionally, you hit parenting gold.
Your kids will naturally respect you if your love is unquestionable. When they understand what they’ve done, who they’ve truly done it against, and that your love for them hasn’t changed, you succeed at turning a negative into a positive. Score!
The last time you had to discipline your kids, did they “feel the love”? What can you do differently, starting today, that reveals how to discipline with love?
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I’m all for discipline. In a world that’s gone soft on some issues (like telling kids “no”), but far too harsh on others (like the lack of patience at a red light), I am completely in favor of making children listen to reason. After all, we are raising the future generation. It’s up to us to instill morals, model compassion, and correct erroneous behavior for a productive future for them. I mean, if kids think they can always win, get their way every time, and throw a fit when they are opposed, then they’re going to be in a world of hurt one day. Yep, you have to create an environment where they understand they’re not number one, yet still let them know they matter. There are so many lessons to be learned, but sadly we often miss the most important one.
As a parent of young children, I think nothing tries your patience like trying to get out of the house on time with your kids in tow. They move like molasses, whine like a broken down washing machine, and couldn’t find their shoes if you were paying them to. Make it a Sunday morning and it’s even worse. Like, can we just make it to church on time once?!
This past Sunday morning I was doing my usual routine. I had gotten up before everyone else. I had picked out each child’s clothing and placed them in neat piles on the couch. All they had to do was comply with simple instruction, basically. As I assisted my youngest two daughters with getting dressed and untangling their long tresses, I noticed my eight-year-old had fallen back asleep on the couch. I called her name, asking her to get dressed. I even added a please. I deserve some extra credit for that.
Then she pulled out the whine, like nails on a chalkboard. She lamented, “I don’t wanna go to church!”
My first thought was all the mornings I rose before 5am, while my daughter snoozed on. They were homeschooled! It’s not like they had to get up earlier than they wanted every day of the week. It was just one day! Instructing my child of all of this sat on the tip of my tongue. I wanted to tell her how lucky she was to not have to get up as early as I did. I needed her to understand that one day she wouldn’t be so lucky, that she needed to get used to doing things she didn’t feel like doing! I wanted to tell her that she should have gone to bed earlier, that she was reaping the effects of her own stubborn refusal to go to sleep. This was my job as a parent, right.?! To prepare her for a cruel future!
So, with all this in mind I called her over to me.
“Come over here,” I instructed.
She plodded lazily in my direction, and as she got closer I reached for her lanky arm and pulled her quickly into my lap.
“My sweet baby,” I whispered, as I squeezed her gently, placing loving kisses on her forehead.
I held her for a few moments in silence, rocking back and forth. I could feel the frustration and attitude melt away from her. She eased naturally into my embrace, and the body that had at first felt heavy suddenly became light.
She giggled, “I’m your baby!”
I held her another minute, and then I questioned, “you ready to get dressed for Mom?”
She popped out of my lap with renewed motivation, “I sure am!”
We have a huge responsibility as parents. There are so many lessons to be taught, but the one we most easily forget, especially in such a fast-paced world, is the lesson of grace. It’s given when we least deserve it, and it’s given in love. Out of the many life hacks, I want to teach my daughters, the most important is how to lead a successful, emotionally and spiritually healthy life. One of my biggest ministry callings in life is the one I live out each day as a parent. So much of what they learn about Christ will be not just from my words, but also modeled in my actions. They see the love of God through me. I am the hands and feet of Jesus to the little ones, and they learn about saving grace when I bestow it.
I think back on all the ridiculous, unsavory choices I have made in life, and through it all, God loved me. Yes, He taught me lessons when I was less than my best, but above all His great grace called me back.
He said, “You are Mine. I love you, child.”
I still have a tendency to be a brat. I can sometimes imagine my Father God shaking His head when I fear things like financial loss or hardship. He could rip the rug out from under me and show me that He is my provider, but instead He speaks to my heart with loving patience, He holds me in the comforting arms of His Holy Spirit and reminds me, I’ve got this, daughter. Do not fear, for I am with you.
When I doubt, He loves me still. When I blatantly sinned against Him, He waited for my return with open arms. When I am weary, bone tired, likely due to my own fault, He takes me in His arms. He bestows grace. And if there’s anything He gives me that I in turn can give to my children, it is that great grace, that loving patience, and that tender mercy, even when it’s not deserved.
If you haven't experienced God's amazing grace, and would like to learn more, please let us know by clicking here.
☀️ Ready for summer? Create daily routines that balance fun with the responsibilities of daily life.
Here are some daily habits for kids they can do that’ll not only make your life easier, but will teach responsibility and self-control at the same time.
If you are anything like me then you probably share a fear of mine…
The fear that we’re going to raise entitled kids.
We believe in our kids, see their potential, and know they are capable of great things… but the hard part is this.
Also, we are all too aware that our choices, rules, and family culture have a direct outcome on whether our children become entitled.
Let’s talk about what being entitled actually is for a minute.
Entitled (n): an attitude, demeanor, or air or rudeness, ingraciousness, combativeness, making excessive demand for service, feeling like you have the right to do or have what you want without having to work for it or deserve it. (combined dictionary sources)
The encouraging thing is this: when we have fair and sensible rules and boundaries – and require our kids to respect these – we help teach our children responsibility and positive habits.
This week’s post is about some habits that help create a sense of order and peace for moms who are desperately overwhelmed.
Can you relate?
- You feel like all you do all day is chase your kids around and pick up after them.
- You feel like the kids make a lot of messes, but never want to help tidy them up.
- The kids expect you to do everything for them and don’t want to try to do it on their own.
- You feel like a “victim” of your children instead of feeling like a leader.
If this is you, be encouraged, we’re going to dive into this a lot in the near future.
If this is you, be encouraged, we’re going to dive into this a lot in the near future.
But for today, let’s start with a few simple habits that will bring you some much needed peace as well as teaching your children mastery over some important life and character skills.
Daily Habits For Kids
Note: These are examples from our own house, but the sky is the limit! Think of things that cause you stress and figure out how to incorporate your children into the solution!
Peaceful Mornings… Day Time Start
There is a cumulative effect to being Woken Up With a Start.
Many moms wake up and hit the ground running.
Bandage boo boo
Comfort crying toddler
Snack time (already?)
And on and on…
This is #momlife and we wouldn’t trade it for the world, but day in and day out this can be jarring. There is something to be said for having a bit of space in the morning where you can gather yourself, pee alone, and think about the day to come.
A “Day Starts At X” Rule
This is one of the best daily habits for kids you can adopt. Choose a time of day that correlates well with your children’s natural wake up time, and create a rule.
No one can come out until such time. This allows you to wake up a bit earlier than that time and have peace. Read your devotional, Bible, drink your coffee alone, even just stare out the window in the calm before the storm.
Note: Of course if your children needed you, you would respond!
In My Home: This Rule In Action:
- 7:30 a.m. is our official start time.
- Anyone who wakes up earlier than this simply plays in their room or occupies themselves until it’s time to “come out.”
- If my 3 year old wakes up at 7 a.m. then I’ll give him some books to read quietly in his crib. The baby generally sleeps until this time, but if not will play with his stuffed toys. My 4, 6, and 7 year olds will read books, play with their toys, or call out from their rooms “Is it time yet?” #transparency. You can also get one of those handy clocks that lights up when your morning time starts.
- I wake up much earlier than this so I am ready to jump into Beast Mom Mode by this time. Most days I take a walk, read my devotional and Bible, and then may take time reading a novel or researching something or other.
What does this help kids master?
- Boredom as a tool to creativity
- Respect for boundaries
Daily habits for kids truly make the day go by faster… here’s the next one.
Snack And Meal time Clean Up Rules
Serve breakfast. Clean up breakfast. Then serve snack. Clean up snack. Serve lunch. Clean up lunch. Serve snack, serve dinner, clean up wreck of a kitchen.
Once when my bestie was getting married she asked me for some words of wisdom about marriage and family life. My answer was this: it’s basically doing the same 5 or 10 things over and over and over and over again every single day. (I feel like she wanted something more romantic.)
Messes take up a lot of time for mom. They also take up a lot of emotional and mental bandwidth because – depending on your personality – messes = clutter and clutter = low level anxiety.
A clean up rule.
This might mean that you create set rules on how you want meal times to go finish. Perhaps you want all snacks to happen at the table, then bowls be taken to the sink or counter. This is a daily habit for kids that honestly is a must for moms with large families.
Maybe you decide no one can leave the kitchen after meals until it’s all clean. We do this with dinner. Everyone gets a job. Put dirty dishes on counter, load dishwasher, sweep floor, wipe down table top, etc.
It’s a total manic chaotic madhouse, but we persevere in hopes it’ll eventually pay off. Also, after 15 minutes it’s totally clean and when they’re in bed I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE.
What does this help kids master?
- Contribution and responsibility
- Diligence in completing chores to the family standard
- Patience and self-control to put off play until hard work is done
Play Time Clean Up
All day errr day is about toys for kids. No daily routine for kids is complete without something relating to chores.
This is similar to the above rule, but it relates to toys and play.
There is no mystery here.
There is no secret sauce or phrase or word that’ll make it easier. And, there is not much you can do to get your kids excited about picking up unless they are natural cleaners.
You just gotta get them to do it.
There are endless ways to do this, but choose what best works in your home.
- No moving on to the next activity until you clean up the first one.
- Allow 2 messes, but not 3 before they gotta clean it up. (got that gem from this post which I literally printed and keep on my desk)
- Establish designed cleaning times (before nap and before bed, for example)
- Set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes each day and have everyone contribute to clean up.
Doesn’t really matter how you do it, just that you expect them to clean up their own messes. They’ll actually feel good about this, even if they complain.
What does this help kids master?
- Tidying skills
- Organization skills
- Work before play (or at least not ONLY play) mentality
The key is to make this as easy as possible. Big baskets. No micro organizing, all macro. They can quickly go around their rooms and put toys away. If it’s a toy with a lot of pieces, they can put it back in its box or another box you chose.
Unless YOU WANT TO CLEAN UP or your kids are very precise, methodical, and older don’t color coordinate or you’ll end up having to do it all yourself. You know your kids, if they are willing to keep the color coordination, go for it!
If not, ditch it.
Rest Time (Your Soon To Be Favorite Part Of Your Kids Daily Routine)
For the introverted, a stay at home mom near burnout, or simply easily overwhelmed… rest time is key. This is a daily habit your kids must take hold of for your own sake.
And for theirs.
But even if it was ONLY for you, that’s okay.
If you’re home all day with your kids, put them to nap or rest at the same time. Then you can get at least a couple of hours of rest, peace and quiet, or time to yourself. After all morning with my 5 kids (7 years old and under) I am in need of silence. I gotta have it.
Keys To Rest Time:
- Give older children clear boundaries. They can play in their rooms quiet, read books, or go to a designated area, but they can’t be loud or come out of the area you’ve put them in.
- Put all babies and toddlers down to nap at basically the same time. This means they need to learn to go to sleep on their own. But you can handle that. It’ll make your life a whole lot easier for many reasons.
- Set a realistic time period. It may be one hour, maybe two, but go with what your children can handle.
- Remember, they may fight it at first (they likely will) but they will begin to love it. No sharing, nobody messing with them, no fighting for supremacy. They are masters of their own world.
- If everyone doesn’t have their own room, choose random rooms of the house, doesn’t matter which. Where possible, don’t have them do rest time together. It will not likely be restful.
If you work during the day and need 15 minutes of peace when you get home, have rest time then. Don’t use it if you don’t need it, but bring it out as a way to give everyone a bit of recharge.
Emergency Re-calibration Habits
Kids are gonna get rowdy.
That’s good. Shows they have life, they have energy, they want to experience the fun things in life.
There is also a time and place to be loud and wild and often times you need to calm the kids down for a bit. If you begin to feel like you’re losing it, you need some tricks up your sleeve. If you can intervene before it gets too loud and crazy, you’ll be one step ahead.
Then, if you can work these into your kids’ normal daily habits around the time that the kids always lose it, you’ll be 10 steps ahead.
Emergency Re-calibration Tips
- Everybody sit with a book. We will ask our kids to grab a book (or 5) and pick a seat and read or look at pictures with no talking. It does require some “shhhh” ing, but overall they get it.
- Go outside time. If they are loud and wild and hyper let them run free and play. Even if you have to supervise it for a bit, noise outside doesn’t grate quite so much as screaming inside.
- Read aloud together. While this may feel annoying because you actually want to move away from your kids for peace, sometimes reading aloud together is soothing. They will quiet down for a story and you can feel fondly of them again since they aren’t running around wild. The more you do, the longer they’ll be able to do it.
- Give them a minute of loud crazy then make them pipe down. “Whew, you guys are loud. Y’all really got some things to get out. I’ll set the timer for one minute and I want you to yell and scream and fuss and stomp as loud as you can. After that, we’re done.”
- Alone time. Even our kids are recharged by alone time. If they simply can’t handle being around everyone without flipping out or fussing or screaming, let them go to their room with a favorite toy or two and reset.
“This Before That” General Rule Of Thumb
So… if you’re thinking how on earth do I start these habits, I want to offer one final parting word of advice.
Do the less fun before the more fun.
Do chores before TV time.
Clean up before outside time.
Do every thing before screen time.
This means you organize your daily routine with toddlers and preschoolers so that they’re doing the fun stuff after they do the hard stuff. Work first play later, if you will. If you are struggling with where to begin, choose one of your kid’s daily habits or routines, and shove it in front of something fun they like.
This’ll be your fastest path to success.
You’ve got this, mom…
If you’ve been feeling like you are a shell of a person and slave to the little people you birthed and you just want some stinking peace and help… you can have it.
Kids will do what they’ve been trained (by us) to do.
If you’ve inadvertently trained them to do nothing for themselves, then you can advertently (okay that’s not a word)… purposefully train them to help out. To respect your need for some quiet.
You will be happier.
They will feel more responsible and therefore happier.
The home will run more smoothly.
What are some of your routines that help your home be happier and run more smoothly? Let us know by clicking here.
We drove down the interstate on the way to the beach for a few days of rest and relaxation. My husband sat in the driver’s seat of our large, black pickup truck, and I took up my position as navigator by his side. The posted speed limit of 70 mph was in prevalent view, but as we got closer to the big city it wasn’t really necessary. Traffic began to slow, and a line of brake lights could be seen in the distance. Other vehicles sped around us as my husband slowed, and they zoomed ahead only to quickly slam on their brakes as they came upon the gridlock.
“I don’t get these people,” my husband mused. “Do they really think they’re getting that much further ahead?!”
It reminded me of something I might have done once upon a time, cursing under my breath at the audacity of traffic-law obeyers, road rage accompanying me to the next red light.
“It’s the way of the world,” I answered. “Everyone is in a hurry. Rushing is a way of life.”
I was glad I didn’t subscribe to that racing magazine any longer, but a feeling of melancholy over not seeing it sooner came on me as I spoke.
“I can remember when I was stuck in the rush,” I told my husband, as I described the way I existed on the daily not that long ago.
I can remember hating car seats. I had three kids in car seats of sorts, and I would get so frustrated with the action of loading, unloading, and reloading them all into my minivan. It took so long! And despite the new van with automatic doors and all the bells and whistles, until it could help me achieve a quicker exodus of the vehicle, it was all for naught. I was always rushing to get them in the van.
I would hurry into Walmart, feeling rushed the entire time, speeding through the aisles on two wheels, acting short with the children. The crazy part was usually the only existing thing on my agenda that evening was putting the groceries away and cooking supper. It wasn’t like I had to report to duty, like I was in the military again. I was on a schedule of my own making. I was my own cruel timekeeper, pushing myself to finish one task so I might complete another.
I would hurry to get the girls out the door. Even on a day of fun, I would rush. To the water park, we would hurry. We weren’t required to get there at a certain time, but rushing had become the norm. I knew no other way to function, sadly. We weren’t required as part of some “Society of Childhood Betterment” to go to the park or the zoo. I made these demands on myself. It made me feel like a better mother to take them places, but I had become so accustomed to hurrying that I even hurried through fun.
“Where are your shoes?!”
I would hurry them to dance class or gymnastics. I don’t even think the 4-year-old cared whether she wore a tutu or pajamas with pink boots. I was the one enrolling them in classes because that’s what I was supposed to do. That’s what everyone else did. We hurried from one thing to another. We rushed to softball praying the whole time that her catcher’s mitt was still in her new pink bag.
Little legs would move quickly. They would stumble. I’d prevent a crash and burn on the pavement by lifting them up off the ground by tiny arms. All the while we’d keep moving to the field.
“Hurry. We’re gonna be late!”
I was so worn out from all the rushing, from all the scheduled fun, that by the end of the day there was little left of me. The mom who desired to read bedtime stories didn’t want to by bedtime. And then came the guilt. Guilt because I had yelled too much, expected too much of little people, and missed the mark terribly in my opinion. My harsh, self-judging opinion. I wanted to be the best mom, best wife, best writer, and best small business owner I could be. The result was spreading myself too thin, but the thing was, that was the norm. Everyone I knew spread themselves too thin. Women I respected and looked up to were the ones who had trouble saying no. We were all sharing new recipes and searching Pinterest for birthday party ideas. Birthday parties we honestly hated to attend when they were someone else’s, but loved to plan and photograph for our own kids. I mean, you could write an entire blog about going to birthday parties, rushing to buy a gift that they probably didn’t need or wouldn’t play with next week, and struggling like mad to make it to the chosen venue on time.
“Sharon came to ours, so we gotta go to theirs!”
It got to where I was rushing all the time. No amount of planning, lists, or early alarms alleviated the rush. Because even if you got your to-do list done you just felt obligated to pile more on your plate. I was a glutton for punishment. To sit down and do nothing felt unnatural. I sometimes loathed my husband who could come home from work and do nothing. I couldn’t do it! I didn’t know how.
But here’s the thing about rushing. It takes your eyes off life and puts them on a clock. It takes your focus off the important things and places them on a schedule. It forces you to believe that what you can achieve in a given day makes you who you are. Rushing becomes a lifestyle. It becomes the norm. You get stuck in the hamster wheel and call it living, assuming that’s as good as it gets.
But one day I said enough is enough. I learned to say no. I learned to drop things from my agenda, not keep adding to them. I let go of materialistic possessions that took up too much time to maintain, and I stopped thinking life was a race I had to win, or a test that was being graded. I now work less and love life more. I spend quality time with my family doing things we enjoy, rather than speeding to the next event on our must-do list. I stopped rushing, and it’s the best decision I ever made.
What I found is that in a hurried, harried lifestyle you just assume it’s normal. You say, “I’ve got kids. This is just life!” But I think we make it harder than it was ever intended to be. We over-schedule, overcommit, and teach our children the same. We expect too much from ourselves and our families. In fact, we wear our hectic schedules like a badge of honor, suggesting that going nuts on any given day as a parent is par for the course. The busier the better we are, or so we think. We’re a high-speed internet society that gets crazy when reality makes you use dial-up for life. We assume children should move as fast as Google, our day look as flawless as a Snapchat filter, and the results of our efforts resemble the best Instagram story ever. We rush. We know no other way. But there is another way.
It starts with letting go of preconceived notions of what life should look like, letting go of unrealistic expectations for ourselves, and letting go of our desire to please others and impress man. At the end of the day God’s opinion is all that matters, loving your family is more important than anything on your agenda, and there’s no time limit on enjoying life and living it abundantly. To live life abundantly means to value it and stop rushing through it. The saying “stop and smell the roses” has been around a long time, but it’s needed more today than ever.
Children are born with a desire to enjoy life, with a zeal for the average mundane, and a joy for simple moments. I watch my young daughters find joy in everything!
But we as parents beat that out of them. Not with a hand or belt, but with our words of “hurry up!”
We suck the joy right out of their lives and our own. When did we stop enjoying the world around us and start thinking we are what makes it go round? There’s so much more to life than just existing. You can enjoy it too. Like, really enjoy. More than five-minute bursts here and there. We have to stop rushing. We have to stop making it a lifestyle. It’s a hard habit to break, but once you do you’ll never look back, unless it’s to stop and smell the roses.
How are you learning to slow down and enjoy the moment? Let us know by clicking here.
What parent doesn’t love summer? The kids are home, the sun is out, pool toys are strewn all over the yard and you’re never going to get that purple icee stain out of your tank top, sister—but who cares? Summer time is freedom time, woo hoo!
Except for that it’s not, really. I mean, we can get so relaxed about everything this time of year—our schedules, our footwear, our ridiculous consumption of all things ice cream—that some still-important stuff can get swept out the door with the beach sand.
Bible lessons, for instance.
My kids attend a Christian school and after-school AWANA activities, so most of the year we’re working together on memorizing scripture, studying Bible stories, and exploring the things of God. It’s part of our daily routine. Come summer, God doesn’t go away—we still worship Him, we still attend Sunday school, we still give thanks and pray every day—but the structured lessons are few and far between.
Maybe that’s okay. But if you’re the kind of parent who thrives on structure, or at least wants to plug a little intentional Bible time into your summer bucket list, then try this. I call it the Summer Scripture Challenge for Kids.
Each week for ten weeks, teach your children to memorize a Bible verse. Just one a week! Invite friends or neighbor kids to participate, too. If you’re really ambitious, encourage the kids to create a skit or craft around the meaning or context of the verse. Have older kids teach the younger. Offer prizes or incentives each week. Make it fun! Then at the end of the summer, throw a party to celebrate what you’ve learned.
Here are ten of my favorite must-know verses for kids. Need a daily reminder? Click here for a free printable to post on your fridge!
1. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
2. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
3. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
4. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
5. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
6. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23)
7. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)
8. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
9. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
10. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18)
Don’t forget! Click here to download a free printable of these ten passages for your Summer Scripture Challenge for Kids—including a certificate of completion to make the kiddos smile. Enjoy!
What are some of your favourite Bible verses to memorize with your kids? Let us know by clicking here.
It's the first day of summer!
During summer it can be hard to fight the near-constant chorus of “I’m bored!” and “There’s nothing to do!” But as parents, it can be hard to strike the balance of creating magical summer memories with our kids while also staying sane, staying on-budget, and keeping our homes and families running smoothly.
Check out these easy resources to help your kids bust boredom without breaking the bank!
And if you haven't registered for our summer camps (for grades 1-7), please click here to register as space is limited.
Free Resources to Keep Kids Busy This Summer
6 Summer Projects for Your Tweens and Teens: In this post, you will learn how to make life-time memories, while also seizing the moment to train your teens and tweens up with the skills you would like to see them take into their future. Connect with your teens and tweens while expanding their skill sets!
13 Summer Boredom Buster Ideas for Kids: Write fun summer activities for your kids on slips of paper and have them pull ideas out of the jar when you hear the inevitable sigh of “I’m bored!” Busy hands and busy minds keep children out of trouble and this jar might just save your sanity this summer.
50 Summer Bucket List Ideas for Kids: In this post, you will find 50 ideas to have the best summer ever with your kids. Cut out the options and put them in a bucket and pull out one each day. Or pick your top ten favorite things to do before summer ends. Be diligent to use these ideas to connect with God in nature and connect with friends and family. As you do you're creating wonderful summer memories!
5 Screen-Free Summer Activities: If you are struggling to peel the iPad out of little hands or encourage your kids to play outside instead of on the Playstation, this post will give you fun and easy ways to encourage a screen-free summer!
5 Practical Ways to Serve with Your Kids This Summer: While summer is a wonderful time to slow down and soak up family time, it’s also a great opportunity to look around and see how we might bless and serve others. Here are five practical ways to bring our children alongside us as we seek to love and serve this summer.
100+ Ideas for Free and Frugal Summer Fun: I'm sure you have wonderful plans to make extraordinary family memories in the coming months. The Better Mom wants to make these upcoming months a breeze for you and your family. In this post, you will find a go-to list of free and frugal Summer fun ideas.
Let us know your summer ideas by clicking here.
Father's Day is this Sunday! If you are looking for some FREE Father's Day Printables and Crafts, check out Kids Bible Teacher.com - there are several printables and activities to choose from.
The Bible Verse Bookmarks are great for kids of all ages to give to their father's or any men in their lives. You could have younger kids cut these out and paste them to colorful paper, color them, or even write a special message to their dads on the back. These are also great laminated.
How much do your kids know about Fathers in the Bible? Find out with these fun activity pages.
These cute cards are easy enough for young children to make. They can be printed in black and white outline and colored, or printed in full color. The front of this card says, "Fathers are a gift from God", while the inside says, "I am so glad God gave me you!"
These MiniBooks are always a favorite - and this year there is an additional edition. (Try saying that fast five times!) There is a "For My Dad" book, a "For My Grandfather" book, and a "For You on Father's Day" book - great for kids who are not with their biological dad on Father's Day or who want to celebrate a father-figure in their lives. When you click on your preferred Bible version, you will get access to all three minibooks in full color or black and white outline to color.
Click here for some GREAT ideas on how to bless the men in your life!
May God bless you!
P.s. If you are ever looking for holiday printables and activities, you can find them all here: https://kidsbibleteacher.com/holidays.
If you have more fun Father's Day ideas, we'd love if you share them here.
As we approach Father's Day, what better gift for your husband than to pray for him?
Do you spend time each day praying for your husband? Determining what prayers to pray over your husband can be an eye-opening experience. Years ago, I decided to consistently pray for my husband. While that sounds really mature and wonderful, the choice was a selfish endeavor, though I thought I was being helpful. In my immaturity, I wanted a few things to change in my marriage and so I called on the Lord to change them. Funny how I discovered the one who needed to change was ME! Ever been there?
Through God’s work in my heart, I discovered the importance of praying for my husband and the power of praying for him. Over the years, God has shown me his work in my marriage through prayer time and time again. Prayer is a life-changing, uninterrupted connection to our heavenly Father and oh how he loves to hear his children pray! Check out these 10 prayers to pray over your husband using God’s Word.
1. Pray for his work.
“Lord, I pray that You would bless my husband’s work. That he would be diligent and prosperous. That You would give him wisdom and discernment. God, I pray You would give him strength to walk the opportunities you provide. Thank you, Lord.”
Do you see a person skilled in his work? He will stand in the presence of kings. He will not stand in the presence of the unknown. Proverbs 22:29 CSB
2. Pray for his heart, soul, and mind.
“Father, I praise You for my husband, Your unique creation. Please guard his heart and mind, Jesus. Protect him from temptation and fill him up with the good things he needs. You’ve promised to fill his soul with what he needs and I ask You to do just that.”
For he has satisfied the thirsty and filled the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9 CSB
3. Pray for healing from the past.
“God, would You heal the wounds of my husband’s heart? You’ve promised healing to those who submit to You. Lord, please smooth the scars of past hurts and brokenness. May Your healing permeate his being, inside and out.”
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for you are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14 CSB
4. Pray for courage.
“Lord, You are gracious and merciful, yet You are all-powerful and understanding. This world can be a fearful place and I pray that You would give my husband courage. Lord, infuse his character with courage for daily decisions and the difficult ones as well.”
The fear of the Lord leads to life; one will sleep at night without danger. Proverbs 19:23 CSB
5. Pray for his leadership.
“God, You have provided Your Word and I am so grateful. May Your Word guide my husband as the leader of our home. May his leadership skills be empowered by your wisdom. I trust that You will lead in his hand and heart in our relationship, his work, our home, community and church.”
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. James 1:5 CSB
6. Pray for wisdom in finances.
“Lord, money yields the greatest potential to cause problems in a home. Please give my husband wisdom as he seeks to honor You with finances. I praise You for the blessings You’ve provided and I pray that You would help him, help us, to always honor You first.”
Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you. Hebrews 13:5 CSB
7. Pray for a heart for the Lord.
“Father, please give my husband a pure heart for You. May he seek to love You and trust You with everything he has and is. Protect him from opinions intended to sway him from Your Word.”
Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. Ephesians 6:6 CSB
8. Pray for his speech.
“Father, in a day when the world speaks with complete corruption, keep my husband’s words pure before You. I pray that he would use his words just as You would have him to. I praise You for his personality and pray for purposeful conversations in our marriage.”
No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 CSB
9. Pray for his friendships.
“Lord, I pray that You would provide encouraging friendships for my husband. That he would know he is never alone because You are with him, but I ask for others to speak into his life and sharpen him as he sharpens them.”
Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 CSB
10. Pray for your husband to be a good father.
“God, I thank You that You are the good, good Father. Would you help my husband’s parenting to reflect You? May his children know Your heavenly love personally and experience it through their earthly father.”
Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 CSB
This list of 10 Scripture-based prayers is a perfect place to start exploring how to pray for your husband. If you know someone struggling or feeling disconnected in their marriage, share these powerful prayers with them and use this article to encourage their hearts. If you know someone who longs to strengthen her marriage and build up her husband, these prayers would be the perfect tool to do so!
Let us know your thoughts and comments by clicking here.
Summertime can get hairy.
Just today, for example.
There I am, innocently eating a salad, and I look out the kitchen window just in time to see my boys fully naked playing in a mud hole. This is life in the country when you have no neighbors and a lot of boys.
They showered in the outdoor shower and we went about our business.
But the struggle is real…
girl looking at a screen outside during summer
When you’ve got all the kids home for the summer and it’s blazing hot outside it is So Tempting to resort to more screen time than we’d like.
I decided that having some type of plan about how we’ll do screen time this summer would help prevent the inevitable backlash that comes with too much screen freedom.
- Irritable and impatient attitudes
- More difficulty napping and sleeping (due to over stimulation and less exercise)
- More acting out after cartoons (refer to my friend’s post on schemas)
- Less imagination and creative play
There are more, but you get the picture.
If you, like me, don’t have a total screen free home, it’s a great idea to set up some routines and ground rules at the beginning of summer before things get dicey.
Codes & Controls… STAT
If you haven’t already put controls and codes on your devices, please read about the dangers of the World Wide Web and then get on it, mama!
The best way for you to control screen time is to control access to devices.
- Have a rule: No screens turn on without your okay.
- Passcode or pattern: Create a passcode for the devices and don’t give it out unless your child is old enough to understand the rules and has the self-control to follow them. For those younger kids… just don’t give them the code. This will cut down significantly on battles.
- Control location: My Montessori friend sometimes stores her kids’ iPads in a kitchen drawer until she’s ready to bring them out. If you know there are certain times your kids cannot get on devices, keep them out of sight.
- Collect at tend of the day: Adults aren’t even able to control their own screen time very well, much less kids. If you want to help your child build their own self-control, then set them up for success. Collect any and all devices at a certain time each evening.
- Get filters: There are a lot of ways to go about this, but you can cut to the chase and get something like Circle With Disney which affects every live device within range of your router.
While we do watch TV, we don’t have iPads or any form of table in our home.
This started because we were cheap, then we just didn’t ever buy one. If you feel yours are causing more trouble than they’re worth, retire them for a week and see what happens.
Chores First, Play After
One of the best things you can do to avoid battles, pouting, and resistance is to order things correctly.
Instead of letting the kids have screen time then turning it off so everyone starts flailing and you’re yelling, “Let’s do chores with music, it’ll be fun!” it’s much easier to simply model work first, play later.
- It doesn’t matter so much what time of day this happens, just that you don’t put chores after something they never want to stop.
- Get some chore cards or a chore list and use them to help kids learn to work independently and learn cleaning and tidying skills.
- Choose a time of day or day of the week and attempt consistency. Once it works it’ll be easy to keep the routine up.
Choose Screen Time Of Day Wisely
I am a big fan of screen time around the 4:00 o’clock hour while I’m trying to cook.
The time you choose is up to you!
For your summer screen time rules, you want to choose a time that works WITH your family life, not against it.
Instead of letting the kids choose the time of day, be pro-active. If you find it difficult to cook with kids under your feet, use screen time while you’re cooking.
If you like having an hour to read and prepare for the day in the morning, allow screen time in the morning.
- Avoid screen time right before naps or bedtimes as it prevents proper wind down.
- By choosing a time that works for you, screen time serves two purposes (entertaining them and freeing you up).
- As mentioned earlier, have screen time after they’ve done some type of chores or tidying, etc. Work happens much faster that way, try it out and see!
Teach Routine Independence
Any post of mine would be remiss without mentioning one of my favorite things… routines.
Having simple morning and evening routines give children touchstones throughout the day. More gets done, the home stays in better order, and you don’t have to give instructions constantly because the kids already know what needs to be done.
Include screen time in your routine.
- For small children you can be the Holder of the Routine.
- Kids young as toddlers can learn to use the routine cards and preschoolers and early elementary kids (pre-readers) can learn to follow their own routine independently. (Here’s my post on how my kindergarteners got themselves fully ready from waking up to walking out the door)
- Use pictures, words, or even simple morning or evening routines for yourself.
- Position screen time after other tasks that help build responsibility and character
Let us know your thoughts by clicking here.
Should we point a rebellious child to God? How do we do it as parents? Does it even work? Here are some keys for pointing the rebellious child to truth.
Angry fists and hateful slurs flew deadly in the living room. I peeled the perpetrator off the victim and sent her to her room. She bolted her feet to the floor and hissed, “You can’t make me.”
Have you been there, stuck in that moment between, “Did she seriously just say that?” and “Uh-oh, what on earth am I going to do?” If you haven’t been there, mom, trust me when I say your time is coming.
This child isn’t some horrible brat who no one pays attention to or holds accountable for her actions. She has never been to juvenile detention. For that matter, most people think she is an angel. But she does disobey. In fact, at times she is all-out defiant. She has actually been that way as long as I can remember her cute little self. As a baby, when I would tell her not to touch something, she would smile and stick her hand right back on it.
Of course, back then I was a “perfect-know-it-all-parent” and was certain that a lot of good discipline would cure her of that. I was dead wrong. It sure hasn’t worked. Granted, she is generally characterized by obedience, so there is some gain in discipline, but there are still plenty of times when that old defiant spark sends electrifying jolts straight through my heart.
So what does one do about defiance?
WHY OBEDIENCE IS IMPORTANT
We’ve talked a lot about obedience around here. When I wrote the post, Teaching Your Child the Importance of Obedience, I had no idea that any parent would be in opposition to the concept of obedience. It really had never occurred to me that obedience was an option in a functioning society. I mean, if no one obeyed, our entire world would be in complete chaos. Drunk drivers would kill innocent families on a constant basis. People would freely murder their neighbors over small annoyances such as a dog barking at 6am. And children would be abused without recourse.
Why? Well, if there is no reason or desire to follow any sort of rule, we can all do whatever we wish. And the Bible is clear about the things our hearts “wish” to do. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” Certainly this is the reason why authority, laws, and rules have been in existence since, well, the beginning of time.
We need rules. We need authority. And we need obedience. Otherwise, a rebellious child grows up to be a rebellious adult.
But there is something we need MORE than obedience. We need for our children to understand that they can’t possibly do it.
Yep. You heard me right. Your child, my child, cannot possibly obey 100% of the time. We have to remember that this is a process. It’s a process born out of our desire to please the Lord, but that won’t happen overnight. Nor will it happen all the time.
Just think about it. Do you obey God all the time? Ahem, I can only speak for myself here, but if God were giving out grades, I would fail miserably.
If I expect God to have patience with me, as a parent, I need to expect to have patience with my kids. And no, I don’t mean that I should just throw up my hands and let them do what they want. God doesn’t do that with me. But it does mean that I want to be patient with my rebellious child just as God is patient with me.
INTENTIONAL PARENTING WITH THE REBELLIOUS CHILD
We need to practice intentional parenting that is full of the right kind of grace. When our children do struggle with wrong choices, we need to be there to guide them through it. We need to help them understand they don’t have to be defeated by wrong choices (sin) and there is a way to listen to the right voice.
So let’s take the example from above. The perpetrator (name will remain unmentioned to protect the innocent) has now told me I can’t make her go to her room. Is she right? How do you even respond to that?
Well, she is right. I can’t make her. Sure, I could pick her up and carry her there, and I would certainly do that if she was 4 or 5, but she is twice that. And she has hit the nail on the head as to why parents so desperately feel out of control. We can’t MAKE our kids do things. Aside from physically enforcing something (which only works for a few years), we have no real power here. At least not the forcing kind of power.
If we are to have any success in a situation with a rebellious child, it’s going to have to be something that will change WHO they are. Let me explain what I mean by sharing our conversation. (Please note, I remained very calm and quiet while talking to her, despite her behavior.)
Me: You know, you’re right. I can’t make you and I won’t. You are going to have to make a choice here. But before you do, I want to ask you a question.
Child: Silence. Arms crossed, eyes rolled back in head and fire breathing out of her nostrils (ok, maybe not the fire part).
Me: Who are you pleasing right now, yourself or God?
Child: (having been asked this question before and with clenched teeth) MYSELF.
Me: I can understand why. I don’t like it when people annoy me either. But I also don’t like it when people punch me. Don’t you think that is why God wants me to obey his Word in Ephesians 4:32 when He says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another”?
Me: I also understand that it’s hard to face it when you know what you are doing doesn’t please God. That’s why I think we should go into your room and have this discussion. So, would you like to try and obey this time?
TWO KEYS WHEN ADDRESSING REBELLION
Of course there is no magic in my words. The key is two-fold.
1. Ask “Who are you pleasing right now?” Because this draws their attention not to you or the sibling or whatever the problem was, but to God. And all matters should be taken up with God.
2. Relate to the child. Don’t act high and mighty or perfect. What do you do when the clerk charges you too much or the neighbor destroys your property? Do you feel angry? Of course! You can absolutely relate to what your child is feeling, so rather than judging his/her choice, help them understand that it’s normal to feel that way, but God wants us to make a right response to our feelings.
The goal is to point them back to the truth of the matter, not condemn them. <—-Did you get that?
I think the worst thing a parent can do with a rebellious child is shame him or her to the point of hopelessness. And I’ll be the first to admit that we as parents can do this unintentionally.
We have to remember that they CAN’T do right all the time. Their sinful flesh just won’t let them. So rather than offering them a heap of shame and defeat, we want to offer them questions they can use to help them remember why they really want to do right.
Otherwise, I fear we will be the parents of one of the infamous 76% who will someday walk away from the church (see foot note). After all, what is the point of working so hard to be Christ-like if we are always going to feel full of shame and defeat?
You’re probably wondering if my little talk worked. The truth—> it did, but it doesn’t always make her do what I tell her to do. You see, sometimes I can talk through the wall of selfishness she has put up around her decisions, and sometimes I can’t. But I won’t stop taking this angle to solve the problem, because it’s the only real solution. One day, she is going to be in a position where she has to make all her own choices and where she will face very adult consequences for those choices.
If I am consistent now to point her to the only real answer (God), when it really matters in her life she will not forget that He is the answer.
For now, it doesn’t matter if she went to her room. The first few times I tried this with her, she refused. Little by little, I have seen a change in how long it takes before she comes to her senses. Her apologies have become very sincere and these episodes are much less frequent. I love that it’s so clear God is working in her heart and that she is letting Him! I love it much more than whether or not she actually went to her room that day.
*Studies have shown that 2/3 of today’s Christian teens are leaving the church (the infamous 76% mentioned above). I would highly recommend reading Already Gone, if you have not heard of these studies and their implications.
STRUGGLING WITH OBEDIENCE IN YOUR HOME
By the way, if you are struggling with obedience in your home, I would recommend that you take a look at this Bible study. It is written to help children explore WHY, HOW, and WHO we should obey. Take the pressure off your own authority and put it back in the right place by helping them understand what God’s Word has to say about this vital topic!
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We’re home. I mean, a lot. I’m assuming you are to; whether you’re reading this in America or Australia or South Korea, a global pandemic means we are all spending a lot more time at a place we call home.
Being home has caused me to do some reflecting and I realized that in doing so, I found myself going “back to the basics” in regard to faith at home.
Some people have said "I don’t even know how to get started. I don’t think of those things like you do. Where do I start?”
It’s a good question and one that I have heard expressed many times before.
If this is a new arena for your family, I encourage you to start with these four small but powerful “baby steps” that begin to shift the focus of the home towards Christ.
In Deut 6:4-9, God tells parents to “impress” His commands on the children and provides four times in which to do that. One of those times is “when you rise.” Mornings can often be rushed, crazy times as everyone is trying to get shoes tied, hair brushed, coffee guzzled and breakfast consumed. In the middle of it all, take just 30 seconds to stop with each child and pray a simple blessing.
This prayer doesn’t have to be long or eloquent. In fact, simple is good; it’s easy to remember and repeat daily. Something like, “Lord, be with Grace today. May she know that you are with her, that you love her and that you have called her by name and may she return home full of joy and wisdom.”
Another time God encourages us to engage with our kids is “when you sit.” It’s rare to have families in a place where they all sit down together, but sometimes dinner still gives us that opportunity. To center our conversation during those nights, our family asks four questions: What was your high today? What was your low? What mistake did you make? Where did you see God today?
We have had more “teachable moments” at dinner than we could have ever imagined. Sometimes we only get two questions in before we begin discussing something related to our faith, God, family or church. And what’s great is that everyone, even Mom and Dad, gets to participate.
God tells parents to share with their kids as they “walk along the road.” This doesn’t happen as much as it did but we do drive along the road an awful lot. If you have to travel frequently, might I suggest downloading or purchasing some Adventures in Odessey programs from Focus on the Family? These radio dramas provide a great platform for discussion with kids and they will love listening to them (you will too – they’re pretty great!). We have had many conversations with our children brought on by topics discussed in the episode and as an added bonus, the episodes all have Scriptures to go with them so you don’t have to figure it out yourself!
Older children/teens? Podcasts! There are some great podcasts out there that explore history and story. Remember, Jesus is with us everywhere and He is the greatest storyteller. Listening together to these podcasts can open up conversation that allow us, as parents, to introduce our children to a providential God who shows up all through history.
The final time God specifies is “when you lie down.” Kids are fantastic stallers when it comes to bedtime. Wouldn’t it be great if you got them at their own game and turned their stall time into a time for discussion and blessing?
For young children, check out the Jesus Storybook Bible which tells the stories of Scripture in a unique way and points out where Jesus can be found in every story.
For older kids, before they go to bed, simply ask them if anything is on their mind that they need to talk about before bed so they can sleep well. It will shock you what they are willing to share in that safe place with you. These moments will be the last thoughts before your cherub slips off to sleep; can you think of a better sendoff?
Once these four practices become habitual for you, you will find it much easier to put Christ in the center of your family activities. Your kids won’t think it’s “weird” when you take time to schedule a Family Faith Talk because you’ve already invited Jesus to the dinner table. It won’t feel difficult to turn to Scripture in everyday moments because you’ve been listening to it in the car and reading it before bed. And before you know it, your baby steps will become faith-forming strides as discipleship happens… at home.
What are some ways you share your faith with your children? Click here to let us know and we'll post it below.