Spiritually Guarding Our Children

How much do you as a parent protect your children vs. expose them to the world?  Nicole shares her views in the post below.  On the iPad, do your children get to play all mindless games?  or are you cognizant of what they’re being exposed to on their mobile devices and use it as a way for them to interact with the word of God?

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Spiritually Guarding Our ChildrenNicole Crone is a homeschooling mom of six children ages 8 months to 13 years that resides in Rockmart, Georgia. Nicole’s greatest hope is that her children will continue to grow in the Lord and walk in His truth. She blogs at www.childrenareablessing.org about family life, homeschooling, and the high calling of being a wife and mother.

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Spiritually Guarding Our Children
As mothers, we are called to protect our children.  But what type of protection are we to offer?  Of course we should protect our children from physical harm, such as playing with matches, falling down stairs, and bullying on the playground.  Do we feel the same way concerning emotional and spiritual harm?

During the thirteen year time span that I have been a mother, I have been accused of many things.  Some phrases that come to mind…

You sure do overprotect your children.

Better watch out, one day that bubble you keep your children in is going to pop!

When your children are grown, they are going to rebel against everything you have taught them.

These accusations have been hurtful, especially when coming from family!  They have caused tears, and much second guessing of my mothering skills on my part.  The world (and many well meaning Christians) tell us that we must expose our children to evil in order for them to stand against it.  That to not allow our children to attend public school, to date at 14, and watch PG-13 rated movies is foolish.  But is this biblical?

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. ~Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

Through much Bible study, I have never seen any verses that go something like this, “Expose yourself to evil, in doing so you will be able to stand against it!” Actually, I have seen quite the contrary.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.  The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor the sinners in the congregation of the righteous.  For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. ~Psalm 1:1-6

Everyone knows that we are to protect our children physically.  Even the world champions that.  As Christians, we are to take the next step by protecting our children emotionally and spiritually, and we should actually be more concerned about the spiritual than the physical sense!

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

Through scripture we see that God is our protector.  He is our shelter and our shield.  When we protect our children from ungodly influences, we are exhibiting God-like character traits.  Godly mothers should resemble the nature of God, which is the definition of God-like.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ~Psalm 46:1

He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ~ Psalm 91:1

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. ~Psalm 121:7

Mothers, when we protect our children from physical, emotional and spiritual harm, we are showing our children the very nature of God.  May God use us mightily to lead our children to Him.  Our God can and will prepare our children’s hearts to serve Him while we shelter them from evil.

Be blessed!

More articles by Nicole can be found on her blog at: http://childrenareablessing.org

Pondering Leashes

Let’s get to some practical parenting tips, or rather, experience sharing.  Have you ever used a “leash” on your child?  What was your experience?  Stacy below shares hers.  We’d love to hear yours!

Pondering LeashesAfter hearing about this new thing called a blog from a friend back in 2001, Stacy, a life-long journal keeper, decided to give it a try. She was hooked and now likes to tell folks she has been blogging since back in the days when “we were writing on the cave walls with ashes from the fire.”  A mother of an elementary age daughter and teenage son at the time, Stacy was also a youth leader at her church.  Her first blogs were used as a way to keep the teens in the group informed and connected.  She’s also used blogs to connect with other youth workers and ministry friends, to share life lessons and humor, and during life’s rougher times to share and be blessed and counseled by some amazing Christian friends.  These days Stacy is staring middle-age and the empty nest in the eye.  Both of her children are adults and she is the grandmother of two.  She waivers between excitement about this next phase of her life and throwing pity parties about her youngest gearing up to leave the nest.  Stacy works as a school bus driver, has taken a couple of seminary courses and attends Logos Christian Fellowship where she is active in the women’s group and is hoping to be ready to share her first sermon later this year.  

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Pondering Leashes

How do I feel about leashes?

Better than I do about my “trainable” laptop right now.  I don’t know how to train it, yet it learns things.  Bad things.  Like wiping out the entire post I just finished typing.  I wish I had even an inkling of a clue what I do that makes it do that.  Grrrrr!

Anyway….

Leashes.  I do use them on my dogs when they leave the house.  I wish I didn’t have to, but much like my laptop, they are idiots.  All sense of hearing seems to flee the moment they step outside.  I base that on the fact that they never so much as look in my direction when I am yelling their names, whistling, clapping, or offering treats as bribes.  No leash outside = GONE.

How about leashes on kids?

Basically, my feelings on that are “don’t judge.”  I always hear people saying how horrible it is.  Maybe it looks bad, but it doesn’t harm the kid.  In fact, I’d say that a parent who uses some type of restraint on their child knows that child’s personality better than anyone else….and they know their own abilities better, too.  If a restraint of some sort is needed to keep a child from running off in certain situations, isn’t that better than a lost or missing child?  Or an absolutely obnoxious child running amok?

Someone gave me a “leash” of sorts when I had my first child.  It consisted of two velcro wristbands, one for me and one for him, and a stretchy cord, like old-time telephone cords between.  I only used it once.  Not because I cared what anyone thought or because it was traumatic for my son.  It was because it didn’t really work.  I put it on us in a store, set him down on the floor and he promptly took off running.  He ran down the aisle, around the end of the aisle, and down the next aisle.  I knew he was on the end of the cord, but the thing stretched out at least 30 feet!  I had no idea what he was doing over there in the next aisle.  I unhooked him and put him back in the shopping cart.

Well, as Forrest Gump would have said, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

*By the way, have you ever noticed that “leash” is one of those words that when said over and over starts to sound wrong and you start to question yourself on its spelling and use.  Don’t believe me?  Keep repeating it.  You’ll see.

More articles by Stacy can be found on her blog at: http://livedwell.blogspot.com

God’s Word is powerful

What prepares you for parenting challenges?

Our guest today, Ben Patterson, talks about the importance of being in God’s word.
Share in the comments section what you do to get God’s strength?

God’s Word is powerful

Ben Patterson is a speaker, writer, and Children’s Ministry Director in Cedar Falls, IA. He and his wife started their family by adopting four children. He blogs at WhatFamiliesDo.net and you can follow him on twitter.

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God’s Word is powerful

The knowledge of Scripture affects our attitude toward the present and the future. The more we know about what God has done in years past, the greater confidence we have about what He will do in the days ahead.

Romans 15:4

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

We should read the Bible to increase our trust that God’s will is best!

Paul highlights one of the sources of the spiritual power we need — the Word of God. Tapping into this power enables us to be the kind of parents God designed us to be. We can try so hard to be empathetic or understanding and yet find ourselves frustrated and discouraged. That is when we need to spend some quiet time with God and His book, praying and looking for the direction only He can provide.

If I don’t get up in the morning and have some quiet time with God in prayer or reading the Bible then I feel off for the day. Disciplined time reading the Bible and spent in prayer prepares me for the parenting challenges ahead. It’s important to stay prepared!

Bible study has many values, but this verse promises that the Scriptures will encourage us. Haven’t you found that to be true in your life? Studying the Bible through the lens of parenting can sustain you through those trying parenting moments.

More articles by Ben can be found on his blog at: http://whatfamiliesdo.net

No need to carry around feelings on earth you can’t take to heaven….

It’s tough work raising a child. Thankfully, you don’t have to make through this journey alone! Welcome to our community of parents who are striving to raise godly children. In this series of articles, parents like you will reflect on the trials, joys, and sorrows of parenthood.

For the inaugural post, we have Jessica from A Bend in the Road to share stories to 4Soils.

No need to carry around feelings on earth you can’t take to heaven....

After losing her 10 year old son, Noah Dean, last July 4, Jessica Mills Winstead turned to blogging as one of the ways to work through her grief and allow it to become part of the healing process. She is a recent graduate with an ED.S. in Education from ETSU and is in full time ministry at First Baptist Church Morristown where she has served the past 13 years. In addition to carrying on her son’s memory and being an advocate to raise awareness for Electric Shock Drowning which is what claimed Noah’s life, Jessica is mom to 12 year old Haleigh Raye who gives her reason to live every day and make the most of each day until the three of them are reunited and together again for eternity.

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No need to carry around feelings on earth you can’t take to heaven….

Feelings can take such an emotional toll on us. They can be a roller coaster ride. One minute we can find ourselves on a high or sailing through, a breeze in our face and we get a good view of the landscape around us. The next minute it can be a plunge that we were not expecting and takes us into the depth of a place we were not prepared to go and places we don’t want to see. The picturesque outlook we had just moments ago is now whizzing by us so fast we don’t even feel as if we have time to catch our breath much less time to open our eyes – and that may be quite an accurate way to feel and an even more accurate description.  This ride can become a cycle leaving us feeling, at times, as if we have no control and the only thing we can do is to hang on and cling tightly to the bar holding us down.

The past 8 months and even the past 2 years I have personally experienced an up and down of so many thoughts, feelings and emotions it would be enough to make even the fastest of roller coasters be in envy. Just like with the turn of a kaleidoscope and everything changes my life has closely resembled that.  My own feelings or emotions and even the feelings and emotions of other people can become a more complicated matter and therein lies, part of the roller coaster ride.

I’ve slowly internalized that I can’t control other people’s behavior, pictures they draw, gossip they partake in and truth they misconstruct. I can, however, control my response and the feelings I carry around with me. C.S. Lewis (yes, I admit, I’m a little smitten with the man) quotes in his book, Mere Christianity,

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor, act as if you did…When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.”

It can be a challenge within itself to choose to do that. Especially when situations keep recurring over and over and people hurt us time and time again. We look for justification in our minds for the way we are treating them, for the hurt we could be causing and for the division we are intensifying. By this time the feelings have multiplied, other people have become involved and we have found a host of other reasons to reaffirm our thoughts and actions. Lewis likens these types of feelings to the Germans and their clear disdain for the Jews.

“The German, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them; afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill treated them.”

I’m not trying to say we aren’t supposed to feel some of the natural feelings that arise in us after we have been treated a certain way whether it be good or bad. I know all too well my own sentiments toward people and situations are not always the most God honoring. God made us in His image and is fully aware of the feelings and emotions that go along with our human behavior. This doesn’t take God by surprise. We didn’t catch Him off guard. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect creatures. If we were perfect creatures there would not be the free will that He has allowed us to have.

But we can’t carry around those negative feelings. They become like old, worn out luggage that gets heavier with time and weighs our journey down and they aren’t feelings that we will be taking to heaven with us. So if they aren’t worthy of heaven why would we let them fester, control our lives on earth and make them much more than they ever were to begin with.

My grief and pain I feel over losing Noah is tremendous. Sometimes I catch myself in full disbelief that he isn’t here. I find the truth of what happened to him like a slap in the face that brings me back to reality quickly. Other times the anger, the hurt over letting this happen to him and the negligence of things not being in place is enough to absolutely overwhelm me at times and it takes so much mental discipline to be able to focus, carry on and not let it control my life or my outlook.  I’m not saying I’ve perfected it.  I’m not even saying I’m good at it. And, honestly, I hope I never start to think or feel I am. I pray that I am always keenly aware of my feelings and emotions and how they are either weighing me down or lightening my load. I also want to be aware of how my feelings can encourage and influence others and when it is a good time to be vocally vocal and when it is a good time to be silently silent. I don’t want to just take a seat and hold on to that manmade bar that I see is keeping me strapped to my seat on the roller coaster nor do I want to hold on to any feelings that I “can’t take to heaven” for too long. But, yet,  I want to keep holding on to my faith in the Word and clinging to the One that can keep me strapped in, secured and safe on this road I am on until I get the most joyous feeling of all. A joy that will last and a joy I CAN hold onto. The joy of the reality of my faith, the joy of heaven, the joy…of Noah Dean.

More articles by Jessica can be found on her blog at: http://bendintheroadblog.blogspot.com