What if We Expected God to Do Something Beautiful?

LauraDiscipleship, Faith0 Comments

On June 23, 2013, Nik Wallenda set out to cross the Little Colorado River Gorge near Grand Canyon National Park on a tightrope. My husband and I were watching it from home. I was sitting on the couch in my bathrobe. The camera panned out to reveal the breathtaking depth of the canyon and the daunting length of the wire stretched from one side of the canyon to the other. It zoomed in on Nik’s tiny feet, which were snuggly tucked into shoes that looked like black ballet slippers. The wire under his feet looked like twine. This is crazy! I thought. He’s never going to make it!

Nik began to place one foot in front of the other, inching his way along the wire. The wind was billowing Nik’s shirt and ruffling against his microphone. I couldn’t help but look down at the giant hole gaping below him. I felt dizzy.

“Do you think he’s going to make it?” I asked Ryan, hoping he would say that Nik was secured by hidden tethers or that this was an optical illusion.

Instead he said what we were both thinking, “I don’t see how he can make it.”

It was too intimidating. We expected him to fall. We expected a terrible end.

Skeptical Expectations Replaced with Hope

You and I can have a similar posture toward God’s ability to finish what He has set out to do in this dark world. We look upon life with skeptical discouragement. Politics, the environment, the economy, national security, culture, our health, our jobs, our churches, and our families seem destined to a terrible end. Circumstances intimidate us like vast gaping holes in the ground. We imagine the worst. We mutter, grumble, complain, and criticize. How can God possibly be up to something good when things look so bad? How can He win when it’s so obvious that He is losing?

I wonder how our negativity—particularly our distrust of God—affects us? I wonder if our negative forecast affects our children? When we shake our heads and speak about the terrible state of the world, are we missing an opportunity to create hope in the people around us?

What if we expected God to save the day like He said He would?

What if we expected Him to help us no matter how dire the circumstances or powerful the temptations?

What if we expected Him to be as powerful in the future as He has been in the past?

How would it change us? How would it impact our children and our world?

Looking at Life Like the Israelite Spies

There’s a story in the Old Testament that reminds me how much our expectations and the way we speak about our current state of affairs matter. It challenges my assessment of circumstances and people, and it turns my eyes upward to the loving, almighty God who can—and will—save the day.

God had promised to establish the Israelites in a homeland that would flow with milk and honey. His people had been enslaved, abused, and overworked by the Egyptians, but with countless displays of power, God brought them out of Egypt through the wilderness. Before leading the people into their new homeland, He instructed Moses to send spies to scout out the land.

Moses gathered twelve leaders and instructed,

Go go up into the hill country, and see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad. . . . Be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land (Num. 13:17–20).

I wonder why God wanted these men to spy on the land? It wasn’t for His sake. He knew the land down to each grain of fertile soil, the people down to each intention of their hearts, and the seasons down to every raindrop. God wasn’t wondering what the Israelites would be up against. He wasn’t waiting for the spies to let Him know if things would pan out. Perhaps He was inviting the spies to demonstrate that they knew and trusted Him?

After forty days of scouting out the land, the spies returned with samples of the land’s lush produce: pomegranates, figs, and grapes so big and juicy that it took several men to carry one bunch. Despite having this glimpse of abundance, ten of the men reported that there was no way the Israelites would acquire the land.

They said,

“The people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. . . . We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are. . . . The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height . . . and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them” (Num. 13:2831–33).

Scripture calls this “a bad report.” The details of the report were accurate, but their expectations were way off. The ten spies left God out of the equation. According to them, God would not (or could not) act on behalf of His people.

Long-Reaching Consequences of Counting God Out

This bad report impacted an entire generation of Israelites. It gripped the people with fear. Anguish, discouragement, and discontentment raged through the people like wildfire. They wept through the night. The spies’ report was so hopeless that the people were ready to pack up and return to slavery.

Then, the two remaining spies, Caleb and Joshua, shocked everyone by saying, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Although Caleb and Joshua saw the same things—the fortified cities, the strong armies, and the giant people—they expected a different outcome. They said,

“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them” (Num. 14:7–9).

This report was powerful. These two men had iron-clad trust in God. Every time I read it, my eyes are turned toward Jesus and my faith is fanned into flame. But the Israelites would not listen. Instead, they gathered stones to stone Caleb and Joshua.

Then, the Lord silenced the crowd and appeared to all the people of Israel. He was livid, ready to strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them. Moses pleaded with God to have mercy. God conceded according to his steadfast love, but He replied that every Israelite who had complained against God would die in the wilderness. Their children would wander in the wilderness for forty years before entering the Promised Land. The ten faithless spies were struck down before the Lord and died of a plague.

But Caleb and Joshua, the two faithful spies, entered the Promised Land and their descendants inherited it. Their good report spared countless lives. The words they spoke about what God could do in the direst of circumstances mattered.

This story makes me sit up and pay attention because we are in a similar historical moment.

We’ve Been Delivered; Expect Deliverance

Like the Israelites, we have been delivered from slavery to sin and are being led to our eternal home, where we will live in security and intimacy with God. We, too, have seen God’s power as He conquered death and evil when Jesus was nailed to the cross and rose from the grave. We, too, daily depend upon God. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He has shown us His power and He promises to bring us safely to our Promised Land, the new heavens and earth.

When our feet are on the wire and all of life gapes below us like a bottomless pit, we will not fall. There is no question: God will get us to the other side. And not just that. He will be on the wire with us, which is, in and of itself, a beautiful thing and something to proclaim.

Our lives are replete with invitations to demonstrate that we know and trust the Lord. With every piece of news and every circumstance, let us give a good report about who He is and what He will do.

Let’s expect God to save the day.

Let’s speak words that cause people to turn toward Jesus and put their trust in God. He will give strength to every generation! Let’s be amongst those who stubbornly expect Jesus to create something beautiful out of daunting circumstances, intimidating endeavors, and insurmountable trials.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isa. 43:19)

Pause and ponder the idea of expecting something beautiful from God in the difficult parts of your life. What do you want to say to God about this? Can you find a Scripture that gives you a good report about God’s power to carry, save, and give you victory over the things in your life that feel most intimidating? Ask God for an opportunity to speak a good report about Him this week.

 

(I’m thrilled and thankful that this post originally appeared at ReviveOurHearts.com)

Kids Cry a Lot

LauraMotherhood0 Comments

 

Our kids cry a lot.

That’s what came to my mind yesterday after the third episode of tears in a matter of minutes. I often tell myself, “I can’t stand all of this crying!”

But children do cry . . . a lot.

Especially the little ones. In fact, the littler a person, the more he or she cries. All of the books say that newborns cry for three hours a day. (Three hours a day!) I think the books should mention that this doesn’t suddenly go away when baby digs into his first birthday cake. Toddlers rival that three-hour statistic with vigor! Quite honestly, daily crying doesn’t really stop until . . .

until . . .

Well, I guess the books should just say, “Children cry a lot.”

They cry when things don’t go their way.

They cry when they’re tired, hungry, or thirsty.

Children cry when they fall. And they fall often.

They cry when they bump into things. And they bump into things often.

They cry when they see a spider or a mascot or a stray cat.

They cry when math is difficult, when reading is difficult, when cleaning is difficult.

Children cry when they’ve been wrongly accused, and they cry when they’ve been rightly accused.

They cry when they are wet, cold, or hot.

They cry when someone has hurt them. They cry when they’ve done the hurting.

They cry when they don’t want to leave. They cry when they do want to leave.

They cry when they want mommy and when they don’t want mommy.

They cry when they want to do something “by myself!” and they cry when they need help.

Children cry when they want something that belongs to someone else. They cry when someone else wants something that belongs to them.

They cry when they must wait, and they cry when they must come immediately.

Sometimes, it seems as if I spend my whole day kissing boo-boos, soothing hurt feelings, and calming teary tempers.

The Reason Behind the Crying

I compiled this list when I was laying in bed last night, shedding a few of my own exhausted tears into the pillow. I reflected on the validity of the experiences that cause children to cry, and I realized this . . . Children cry because life is hard.

Life is hard from the very beginning—from the first breath. Life challenges every fiber in us and exposes our every weakness. And because of that, we cry.

Children cry because they are honest—childhood is not all roses. It may be full of beautiful and charming experiences, but it’s also full of many disappointments and tensions. In childhood, our needs, instincts, and ideals are threatened more fiercely than in any other season of our lives.

Our fears are born with us and they loom before us at their largest and most powerful when we are at our smallest and weakest.

Too often, our tender skin breaks open. Too often, our tender hearts break open.

I want to change my response to all of the crying. I want to transform my muttered, “I can’t stand all of this crying,” to a resolved, “I can stand all of this crying with God’s help and for His glory.”

The transformation will happen as I look to the gospel, discovering what God thinks about the crying that punctuates our days. Gospel treasures will strengthen me to bear up under all of the tears—theirs and my own.

God’s View of Our Tears

Jesus cried perfectly to redeem our imperfect tears. Jesus always cried for the right reasons. His sorrows were perfectly aligned with God’s heart. This was for our sake, that His righteous tears would be imputed to those who believe in Him. Every time our children cry out of stubbornness, selfishness, or anger, we can thank Jesus for crying perfectly for our sakes.

God gave us the ability to cry; He has good purposes for it. God beckons us to Himself through our instinct to cry. He asks for our tearsHe welcomes our complaints, and He moves heaven and earth to bear our sorrows. The Psalmist wrote what has been true of billions of people throughout history: “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles” (Ps. 34:6).

Crying is an appetite that God gave us so that we would come near to Him. Nothing on earth satisfies our tears the way God does. Tears are our piece of a puzzle that is completed only by God’s listening ear and comforting presence. When we cry, we reveal that we were made to be comforted, befriended, loved, and helped by someone perfectly merciful and good.

When we cry, we demonstrate the gospel—things on earth are not all right, but that they will be some day. From my child’s first cry (and all the crying in-between), may I usher her toward her heavenly Father, who sees and cares for every sorrow. Every day, over and over again, may I see my children’s tears as countless opportunities to point my little ones to Jesus, the One who deliberately assures us that He will personally wipe every tear from our eyes.

God entrusts adults with the ability to comfort children for His sake.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly . . . “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:15–1620–21).

Who is “lowlier” than a child? Children rely on adults for every earthly need. They desperately need us to associate with them in the midst of their weakness . . . because of their weakness. They need us to kneel down, look them in the eyes, and help them. Do they need food? Sleep? Do they need prayer? Do they need us to teach them a virtue like self-control, kindness, or obedience? Do they simply need our affection?

Though they are not our enemies, children are hungry and thirsty. They need us to overcome our own self-preservation and comfort to feed and help them. They are facing evil in themselves and in the world around them—from sickness to jealousy, from hunger to selfishness—with naiveté and tender hearts.

May God give us the grace to resist selfishness, busyness, and irritability so that we may see our children’s tears as an opportunity to serve Christ by serving His precious children.

In order to answer this call to persevere and love my children when they cry, I must plan ahead to be strong, patient, and faithful.

Jesus not only cried perfectly, but He also comforted criers perfectly for our sakes and as an example for us. Part of His ministry was handling His own body well: Jesus slept, hiked the mountains, prayed, spent time with friends, and pursued solitude so He could comfort, feed, and heal people—over and over again. Like Jesus, I find that sleep, exercise, friends, solitude, and prayer fuel me for a day of service, too.

Other God-given gifts strengthen me to face a day of tears as well; things like soothing music, small ice packs at-the-ready in the freezer, band-aids upstairs and downstairs, a consistent and simple schedule, and wholesome food are daily resources. I try to think ahead about the things that tend to weaken our specific children and address those needs before it’s too late. But many times, I’m unable to prevent or stop the tears.

And that’s when we turn again and again and again to our patient heavenly Father. And we cry.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Rev. 21:1–5).

(This post was originally posted here on September 8, 2016. It was then posted on TrueWoman.org.)

When You Don’t Let Yourself Off the Hook: Hebrews 9

LauraAll Posts, Bible Study

It was a sweet surprise that I’ll never forget. I was nine months pregnant and one week past my due date. I was enormous and uncomfortable. Every additional minute seemed like an eternity! To ease my troubles, my husband took me out for a meal to remember—complete with a generous slice of six-layer chocolate cake. When my husband tried to hand our credit card to the waitress, she refused to take it. We were confused. Why wouldn’t she let us pay for our meal?

“Someone has already paid your bill,” she said, gesturing toward a smiling man and woman who had seen my enormous belly and wanted to bless us.

What a treat! What a gift!

We thanked them and walked out of the restaurant with light hearts.

It would have been rude and ungrateful to insist on paying, and it would have been foolish to pay for the meal twice. Our meal was paid for: all we had to do was receive the unmerited gift.

Do you insist on paying for your sin?

This is the scene that came to my mind as I was studying Hebrews 9. As I read, I realized that Jesus has paid for my sin in full, but I often try to repay him or forego his gift. I confess my sin, knowing that God forgives readily, but then I don’t let myself off the hook. My past sin paralyzes me, guilt overtakes me, and I live as if my good behavior or anxious thoughts are my only hope for reconciliation.

This is sad, I tell myself. My debt has been paid by Jesus. Why am I holding back from God, insisting on paying my debt again? 

Can you relate? Are you counting on good behavior or self-punishment to pay for your sin? Are you hoping that time—or even death—will somehow free you from your guilt? Because He loves you, God has provided a once-for-all payment for your sin that you can receive today.

Let’s take a look at Hebrews 9 and find rest for our anxious, guilt-ridden hearts.

Hebrews 9 is the middle chapter in a trilogy that reflects on the Old Testament and illuminates the ways that Jesus is the minister of a better covenant (chapter 8), is a better Tabernacle (chapter 9), and is a better sacrifice (chapter 10). By looking at the ways in which Jesus is a better Tabernacle, we learn that we do not need to repeatedly pay for our sin.

Read the rest of the post at Revive Our Hearts blog, True Woman.

 

Mom, Your Degree and Career Are Worth Every $.

LauraHomeschooling, Motherhood

Before I had children, I’d write the monthly check to pay my college loans and I’d wonder if I’d ever get my money’s worth out of my college education.

Then, as I was transitioning from my career as a teacher to a homeschooling mother, I worried that the skills I developed in my career would atrophy and my hard work would fade into meaninglessness.

It took me several years to adjust from a lifestyle of measurable, consistent achievement to a more amorphous existence. It took me just as long to bid farewell to my love of a paycheck, pats on the back, and public appreciation. But, those appetites faded over time as other ones grew. I came to love the ongoing pleasure of seeing my dearest humans grow centimeter by centimeter, discovery by discovery. I began to love the freedom of creating the rhythms of our days, of feeling satisfied with relationships instead of output.

I like how I’ve become more human, really.

And yet those questions about getting my money’s worth and keeping my skill-set still lingered in my mind.

Until things like this started happening…

When our firstborn was 2 years old, she said she wanted to be a nurse. Not “become a nurse someday“, but to be one, now. Pronto. She wanted to introduced herself with, “I’m a 2-year old nurse.” And she was. She’d notice the slightest cut on anyone’s hand and ask about it. She mastered the application of Dora Bandaids by the time she was 3 1/2 years old.

I could tell that God had given us a child who would love the sciences. This helped me to see two useful things: that our daughter would love – and need – scientific instruction asap. What a thrill to access all of the things I learned earning my B.S. in Biology. When she was 4, I taught her how to set up an experiment with a control and a variable. We looked at things from the inside-out, and when she had complex questions about cells, energy, or heart chambers, I knew where to begin.

Now that she’s 11 years old with countless other interests, and followed by siblings who are miniature mathematicians, readers, musicians, writers, administrators, athletes, you name it, I can confidently report that every dollar and all of the hard work I invested in my college degrees (a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a M.A. in English Literature) has been worth it.

My higher education shaped me and my creative work as a mother. It provides the wealth of ideas, skills, and know-how that I give to my children every day. Because of what I learned in college, grad school, and my career, I introduce my children to literary themes from their earliest memory of conversation. I teach them how to speak from the heart, choose good books, read carefully, listen for details, and write persuasively and gracefully. I teach them how to work hard and ask good questions.

I never could have guessed that my education and career would be so valuable.

I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it would find its greatest value in my children, through motherhood.

Do you ever struggle to justify the financial and time investment of higher education and career with motherhood?

This may help:

Today, take some time to jot down 3 ways in which your education and career have enriched you with content, perspectives, and skills that you could pass along to your child. What are your child’s dreams and ambitions? Look for ways that your unique education and skill set complements your child. As you begin to enrich the miniature scientists and artists around your kitchen table, you’ll get such a kick out of the way God has lavishly prepared you for motherhood.

How to Have a Good Day After a Rough Night

LauraHomeschooling, Motherhood

I’m the mother of six children, ranging in age from six-months to 14 years old. As you can imagine, I don’t often get a full night of sleep. I’ve discovered that the health and happiness of our home depends largely on how I respond to sleep-deprivation.

I imagine that most homeschool moms are in the same situation. We’re up feeding newborns, comforting toddlers, soothing coughs, cleaning sheets, talking with teens, planning for tomorrow, or praying through our cares and worries. How can you and I have a good day after a rough night?

How can we thrive during exhausting seasons of motherhood?

Sometimes after a rough night, I simply have a bad day. If I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I’m prone to be cranky… all day long. I lose my temper, I have no patience, I’m angry, I blunder through our school day, and it’s just ugly.

There are those days. But there are also days when God gives me the grace to thrive in the midst of this hardship. Despite sleep-deprivation, He helps me to lead and love my family well. Here are five things that I do to recover from a rough night of sleep and rejoice in the day that the Lord has made.

1. A Sleep-Deprived Mom Must Pray

Our all-powerful Heavenly Father sees us and loves us. He knows our situation and establishes the work of our hands for us. He ordains the work we do through the night and will give us grace for day ahead.

God’s mercies are new every morning.

The most practical thing we can do after a poor night’s sleep is turn to our Heavenly Father and say, “I’m exhausted. Can you please restore me? Can you please give me what I need to do this day well and homeschool my children?”

Time after time, God has saved the day for me when my brain feels so foggy and I feel like I’m dragging around a burden.

2. Don’t Count the Hours that You Slept (or Didn’t Sleep)

There are certain things that we can’t think about too much. We could totally psyche ourselves out if we calculated our insufficient sleep. What we’d discover is that we got the same amount of sleep—and in the same REM-hijacked pattern—of a tortured prisoner.

If you’re tallying up those hours (or lack thereof) and they’re starting to get you down, move on. It is what it is, and you’ve got a day to live!

3. Instead of Complaining, Ask for Help

The days that I complain, “I’m so exhausted. I’m worn out. I’m tired.” are so much worse than the days when I choose not to complain.

I complain because I want pity, compassion, sympathy, and help, but it backfires by making me—and everyone around me—miserable. Instead of complaining, I simply have to ask for help. This is much more productive!

I’m improving at recognizing my need and asking my husband, family, and friends for help when I know I’m weak from exhaustion. They are happy to come to my rescue.

4. Do the Next Positive Thing

When I wake-up from a rough night’s sleep, I look for the first possible positive thing that I can do. Somehow, this starts me in a good direction for the day and puts some wind in my sails. It helps me to say, “I’m alive, and I have a day to live. I’m going to make good choices even though I’m tired. I’m moving forward!”

I make sure I get a refreshing shower in the morning. I add a squirt of fresh lemon juice to my glass of water to get my metabolism going. I take my vitamins. I open my Sonlight Instructor’s Guide and get the lay of the land for the day, knowing Sonlight has already planned out my homeschool lessons (one less thing for me to have to do). I might go for a quick 10-minute walk to get my blood pumping.

What would get your day started on the right foot even if you’ve had a rough night? Maybe you’d feel encouraged after a rough night if you

  • sang a hymn
  • savored a 15 minute devotional time with the Lord
  • enjoyed a cup of coffee
  • flossed your teeth
  • put a load of laundry in the washer
  • read a chapter in your current novel

Whatever it is, take that step in the right direction and you’ll feel invigorated for the day ahead.

5. Look for Opportunities to Sleep

If you are caring for a newborn or for a child who is sick or having a series of nightmares, consider adjusting your schedule so that you can sleep longer in the morning, take an afternoon nap, or go to bed earlier than usual.

Seasons of sleep-deprivation call for a change in priorities: maintaining your own health is at the top of the list! Look for opportunities to sleep and care for yourself so that you can be strong to care for the ones who need you.

God cares about us when we’re up at night, loving and serving our children. Let’s discover the surprising ways He’ll strengthen and help us during the day.

(This post originally appeared on Sonlight.com!)

FIVE ONE-LINERS THAT TRANSFORM THE WAY I HOMESCHOOL

LauraHomeschooling, Motherhood, Sonlight

As I go through my days, homeschooling six children and serving the Lord in a variety of ways at home, at church, and in the community, I am regularly blessed by a handful of one-liners that invigorate me and help me to do the right thing with the right attitude. These five phrases come to my mind, and shape my life, on an almost daily basis. I’m thrilled to share them with you, hoping that one or two might be helpful to you.

1. “Just Do It”

Whenever I long to connect with my children, to read more books, to play more games, and to be more affectionate, I remember the phrase made famous by Nike, “Just do it”. Instead of grabbing the calendar to schedule a time or revamping our homeschool day or, worse, despairing over my failure to do these things, I just do the thing I’m longing to do.

Cindy Rollins writes about this in her lovely memoir Mere MotherhoodMorning Times, Nursery Rhymes, & My Journey Toward Sanctification:

“So often mothers worry about what they are not doing. I hear these things all the time… To these moms, I say, “get up right now and do THAT thing.” Today, now, put down this book and have your child immediately write a narration or have your devotions or take a walk.”

Cindy Rollins

This tidbit of advice transforms my ideals, theories, hopes, and dreams into realities. Grab this little phrase for yourself. I can’t recommend it enough.

2. “I’ve Changed My Mind”

Years ago, I was feeling stuck by one of my decisions for our homeschool.

Things weren’t working for my child, but I didn’t want to second-guess myself, cave to my child’s complaints, or appear uncommitted. My friend, Renee, comforted me with the truth that I could change my mind. She reminded me that only God is perfect and unchanging; humans have limited understanding and are learning new insights all of the time.

Parenting became less burdensome when I realized that it’s okay to reassess and modify my decisions. On a regular basis, I need to tell my children that I’ve changed my mind. It is humbling, but it also demonstrates that I am learning and adapting as I go.

You can change your mind, too, you know.

When you need to adjust a rule, a schedule, or a decision because circumstances have changed or you have learned a new insight, go ahead and change. Your child will respect your honesty, humanity, and flexibility.

To read #’s 3, 4, and 5, hop over to the Sonlight blog by clicking here. May God bless your day!

HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD DO WHAT YOU SAY

LauraHomeschooling, Motherhood, Sonlight

Homeschooling, and parenting in general, would be so much easier without resistance, rebellion, and whining. Wouldn’t it be awesome if our children did what we told them to do?

While we can’t eliminate all of the struggles-of-the-will in our homeschool, we can make choices that help our children be more content, reasonable, and obedient. Here are three principles that can help your child do what you say.

1. Believe the Best About Your Child

In many ways, our children are trusting us to tell the story of their lives. When we believe the best about them, they believe us and are more apt to do the right thing. Conversely, when we assume the worst about them, they believe us, and it affects their behavior negatively.

It all comes down to our attitude as their mother. When we ask God for the ability to live according to “love always hopes,” we influence our children in radical ways.

To get your wheels spinning about how your hopeful attitude could transform your home, visit the Sonlight blog by clicking here. You’ll find some examples of ways that this plays out in my home on a daily basis and two more helpful principles.

HELICOPTER PARENTS: DON’T FLY AWAY!

LauraAll Posts

EnBlogImageparenting-1024x551

Every time I scroll through my social media account, I see some type of warning about being a helicopter parent. They say kids these days are too sheltered and are suffering from our fear-laden over-protection. I know that I’m not supposed to obsess over my child’s life.

I’m not supposed to solve his problems for him, perfect his resume, or rescue him from natural consequences, but I’m wondering, am I a helicopter parent?

Are you? 

And if we are, what should we do instead?

I’m concerned that as a society we’ll panic and swing the pendulum in the opposite direction. In an effort to avoid over-scheduling, over-indulging, and over-controlling our children’s lives, we’ll simply steer our helicopters away, erring on the side of neglect.  In 20 years, we’ll discover that our children have grown up without the much-needed presence, wisdom, affection, and support of their parents. Parents will simply “helicopter” somewhere else, obsessing over careers, self-image, health, pets, or whatever.

Simply “flying away” is not the solution.

God helps helicopter parents by giving us a clear vision of what our relationship with our children should look like in Deuteronomy 6. In verse 7, in particular, he tells parents, “You shall teach [God’s character, ways, and commands] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

If we want to avoid helicopter parenting, our best alternative is to get out of the helicopter and to put our feet on the ground next to our children.

God’s vision of parenting is intimate and relational. It is ordinary and on-going…

Continue reading at enCourage.com.

The Importance of Wisely Timed Words

LauraDiscipleship, High School, Motherhood

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

It was one of those afternoons with a thousand commitments. The kids and I loaded the van with the snacks and bags and strollers we’d need in order to make the most out of our trip into town. The first stop would be to drop off our 13-year-old at ballet. We’d swing back around at the end of our excursions to pick her up. She was bringing a change of clothes, so she could go right from ballet to attend a volleyball game with our church youth group. After the little ones were buckled into their seats, she climbed into the passenger seat, squished her ballet bag between her feet, piled her clothes on the center console, and stashed a brush and a handful of hairpins on her lap. She’d fix her hair into a ballet bun during the 20-minute drive to the studio.

I had a million things on my mind. It wasn’t until we were a solid 10 minutes down the road that I finally exhaled and settled into the stretch of country road connecting our farmhouse with town.  I glanced over at my daughter. The visor mirror was open, and she was gathering her hair into a pony tail, holding a few hairpins between her teeth. I asked if she had everything she needed for ballet and money for the game. “Mmm hmm,” she mumbled through the hairpins. Then, I looked at the clothes that she brought for the game.

“That’s what you’re going to wear to the volleyball game?” I asked with disappointment in my voice. “With those shoes?” I added. “They don’t match very well.”

Read about the important lesson I learned by heading over to the enCourage blog…

Reading Valentine Cards, Little House on the Prairie, and Charlotte’s Web

LauraBooks, Reading-aloud

When E.B. White recorded the final audiobook chapter of Charlotte’s Web, he couldn’t get past Charlotte’s death without crying. It took him 17  tries. We nod our heads and know why.

The time is coming – not soon enough – for me to pull our copy of Charlotte’s Web off the shelves for our annual reading. We wait until the lilacs are blooming on the lilac bush by the swing-set so I can read chapters at a time while little ones swing or join me on a quilt under the scented bush. I’ll never forget the year we spread the blanket out under the tree and were set to read when we realized that the 3 pigs had escaped their pen in the barn. We left the book and ran up to the barn. While the children waited outside, this farm-girl-in-theory-alone called out to the God and walked the pigs down the hallway to their stall. Each step in the right direction was both uncertain and wondrous. As if an angel led them, the pigs filed into their pen obediently. I fastened the latch and breathed again. The kids and I returned to the book and gaped when the chapter for the day was, “Pig’s Out!”

Until those lilacs bloom, we’ll be reading the final chapters of These Happy Golden Years, followed by The First Four Years. This is history for us: our first time reading through the entire Little House on the Prairie series aloud together. May it not be the last.

We’ve also been reading aloud the children’s valentine cards. One of my fondest childhood memories is when my dad and I would sit on the couch with my white paper bag full of valentines. Dad would take each card out, open it up, read aloud the message, fold it back up, and return it to the bag. I remember it so fondly because it felt reverent and grounded. I’m convinced that these moments helped me to love my classmates and to feel loved in return. It helped my dad to learn the names of my classmates so he could ask me about them later and recognize them when they came over to play. These 30-some years later, I snuggle next to my sons and daughters to open each card, read each message, and close it. This year, a bookmark valentine from “Lily R.” smells like grapes. We take turns inhaling its sweet scent then tuck the love notes back in the box. As February goes out like a lion with its wind and cold, we are tucked in by this tradition.