You know in those home improvement shows when the homeowners decide to move into the house during remodeling? It's usually highly stressful and a big mess. God is a little like that in that when He adopted me as His daughter, He took on the project of lifetime. But He doesn't wait to make His home in me until I'm cleaned up and complete. The Holy Spirit took up residence in me long ago when He made me His own through faith.
"By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit." 1 John 4:13God is constantly at work in me, especially in my parenting. I used to think some women were naturally better at mothering, but the more mothers I know, the more I see it's something we're all learning daily from Jesus and each other.
"Older women . . . they are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children . . . " Titus 2:3b-4I notice a couple of things about these instructions in Titus 2. First, the older women are told to teach the younger women to love their husbands and their children. It's assumed that we (I still consider myself a "younger women," but I guess that depends on your persective!) need to learn to love the families we've been given. It doesn't come to us magically when we give birth or marry.
Second, the form of the word "love" here is the Greek "philos," which is simple, ordinary friendship love . . . sometimes the hardest kind to exercise!
God uses many things to teach me: His Word, sermons, books, podcasts, and conversations with friends. This book by a mom of nine and loaned to me by my friend Katie, is currently helping me a lot. I also listened to this podcast recently.
Today I thought I'd share a little tour of the "parenting projects" underway in my life.
Self-control over anger
I'm letting this sink in: the only one I can control is myself in the end. Or rather, the only one I can bring under God's control is myself. There's a wonderful freedom in that truth. It relieves me of the burden of trying to do the Holy Spirit's job in the lives of others.
If it takes me losing self-control in order to make something happen, then it's not worth it, or I'm going about it the wrong way. My loss of control will do more damage than getting things under control will gain. My anger does not produce righteousness in me or my children:
Humility over pride. Compassion over Criticism.
Jesus is called our "faithful high priest" who understands what it's like to be "tempted in every way." Do we do the same for our kids?
" Hebrews 2:17-18I am learning to see myself as the chief sinner in the house.
"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." 1 Timothy 1:15I am starting to apologize more, though my pride still fights it. "I know it's hard for you to be patient. It's hard for mommy too. We're learning together how to follow Jesus. That's what is means to be a disciple."
Shepherd, teach, and train over domineering.
Our pastor just preached a sermon on the role of the church elders from 1 Peter 5:1-5. I was impressed with how the instructions for a church elder could apply to parenting:
Help you kiddos sort through the sin that is warring against their souls. Help them ask God to change them and forgive them.
Point your kids to the work of God in their lives, even if it's small. "Honey, Look how God changed your attitude just now! Isn't God amazing?"
Help them seek Him when they are afraid or sick or needy. "I know you're scared of getting sick, so why don't you try to pray and ask Jesus to help you."
Example over Nagging.
More is caught than taught, I hear. If I want my kids to be more patient, are they seeing it in me? If I want my kids to love unselfishly, is their most immediate disciple-maker (me!) doing a good job? We should be able to say with Paul:
"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1Notice how it starts with us being imitators of Christ? This doesn't mean we're perfect imitators of Jesus. It just means that we're learning to be like Him. It means that we repent when we sin.
Do our children see us doing u-turns in our behavior regularly? "It was not okay that I yelled about that sweetheart. Do you forgive me?"
Delight over Disappointment.
Do your children feel your delight in them? Do they know that you think they are amazing, unique creations of God, made in His image and for His glory?
"Because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:12The Hebrew word used in the above verse, "
Until then, friends, it's a mess around here and there's no finish in sight, but there are glimpses of beauty! Thanks for sticking around for the tour. I'd love to hear what's new in "your home!"
p.s. Keep an eye out for some printable love notes to encourage your kiddos coming next week--just in time for back-to-school!