marriage and family

Lately I have been thinking about who my children will marry. Maybe it is because I sometimes often get pulled in to watch that silly show Bachelor or Bachelorette. I watch these men or women bring home the girl or boy of their “dreams” and watch the family offer their opinion. As I watch I realize that does not always happen these days, in real life.

File:Wedding rings.jpg

Yet, my heart longs for just that.

I have realized that when you marry someone, you are not just making a decision for yourself, even though that is really all you are thinking about. How many of us really wonder how this person will fit in with our extended family? What about with the grandparents? Uncles or Aunts? How will holidays look?  Vacations?  I mean, honestly, this is important. The person you marry can pull you away from the family you have been a part of all your life, or they can become a part of that same family.

So I have been chewing on just how we start to talk about this with our boys. Our girl is already spoken for, so not sweat there! (hopefully anyway!) But really. I think we will have more influence, naturally, with our daughter, but with our sons I worry that they will grow into young men and feel like this is their sole decision. Yet, their father and I have invested our lives into them, and I do not want to watch them go and be pulled away from us, if they choose a wife who would do that. I have seen many women do exactly that, for many reasons.

Now, I know, really I do, that this is their life and I cannot live it for them. But if you look in the Bible, who those people married impacted many things! When a King chose a wife who did not believe in the One True God, often that King was led to do awful things. Solomon referred to this especially, it was his wives that were his downfall.  Again and again the choice of a spouse was so crucial to their family and the families of many others, sometimes a kingdom.

So, I long to prepare my boys for better, I want them to choose like it matters! I want them to seek out a woman, court her, and then come to us and talk to us about it, well I really hope we are talking before and through the courting It is not that I want them to feel they have to ask our permission – not get our approval, but really share their thoughts, their heart, and ours too with each other. Does that make sense? I hope the choice he makes of who to marry to be one he sought advice and counsel for.

I know of people who were head over heels in love, married and then realized later it was not a good choice, it was a choice of passion. And we all know the eyes can deceive, the heart can to. Marriage is more than those gooey feelings, it has to be more. Otherwise, when the tough days hit – someone will hit the road. Gooey feelings do not endure financial hardship, extended deployments, sick kids, and many more yucky things. Marriage needs to be based on God’s truths and not our heart.

The Three Weavers Plus Companion Guide: A Father’s Guide to Guarding His Daughter’s Purity

 

So, as all these things turn over in my heart, I was so blessed to get the book “The Three Weavers” by Robert & Shelley Noonan. It is a book for fathers to do with their daughters. It is AMAZING!!! As I read through it today, I kept thinking this is great, but my girl is 5. I need something for these boys!! I need to be pouring these truths into their hearts now while they will listen!!  So, I am on the hunt for exactly that.

Meanwhile, Robert is going to read over this amazing book. Then I will put my thoughts together on why this is a tool every Dad needs to read with his 9-15 year old daughter. EVERY ONE!!! There is so much truth in this story in the book and the questions and study portion are very thought provoking, so much so that I cannot imagine the results being anything than amazing for both dad and daughter!!

Parenting 101 (Romans)

I keep thinking this parenting thing will get easy.  What a lie!  I mean, when people told me when I had 4 kids 5 & under – when they told me it did not get easier, only different, I was sure they were wrong.  How could it not get easier?  2 to 3 in diapers, the physical needs of 4 kids being met primarily by me.  How could it not get easier?  It must!!  It must!!

But, again, I was wrong.  And now, as I talk to Kristen who had 4 closer than mine and 4 years behind, I tell her “It does not get easier.”  When I call in distress I think she is realizing it does not get easier.  My distress is not over potty training.  It is not over biting, or hitting, or dirty diapers.  It is over heart issues.  Big stuff.  Eternal stuff, if you will.

My day Tuesday was ugly.  I sent her a quick email half way through to say “uggghhh” – a quick plea for prayer.  I do not want to battle my child every day, all day.  I want to love him.  Or do I?

All day, we battled.  All day I remembered the advice I doled out but a few days before.  “Woo him Kristen,” – my point that God woos us, he loves us.  He does not treat us like we deserve to be treated.  Our blessings are not directly linked to our good works.  Woo him.  I heard it, in my head, over and over.  But I could not live it.  Instead I yelled (a little), lectured (A LOT), and grasped for light at the end of this tunnel (Does it end???).

 

Then, I wake up at 5:30 today (Wednesday).  Why!!??  I am frustrated, trying to grab sleep back, and put it on.  I toss and turn.  Then I hear Romeo “crowing” outside.  And I am more frustrated. (one – I know I will not go back to sleep, two – I beat the rooster to wake up – Ugghhhhh) Looks like it is going to be day 2 – a repeat of yesterday,

So I slip out of bed, walk through a quiet house (rare here), make some tea, grab my Bible and BAM.  There He is, waiting for me.  Accident that I woke at this crazy hour?  I know, not.  He wanted me.  He wanted my mind clear and fresh, He wanted to pour some truth into my heart.

Romans 4:21 – being fully persuaded that God [has] the power to do what he [has] promised.

A look back at the promised God gave Abraham.  A man who loved God but had not law, not Christ.  Just loved and obeyed.  A promise to me and to my sweet son.  He will do what he has promised.  He will guide my steps as I parent.  If I go to him, he will steer me down the path I need to go.  He will fill my son with what HE wants to, if J is looking to Him.  God has the power to do all that he has promised.

Romans5:13b But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 

WOW!!  Sin is not taken into account.  Do I live by the law in my house?  Do I hold my son to the law?  Jesus abolished the LAW.  He took away the Law with his death.  We live by grace.  Do I parent by grace?  Do I live out the book Grace Based Parenting that I read years ago?  Or do I need to dust it off and have a refresher?  Do I show grace to J every time he messes up?  Anytime he messes up?

Thank goodness God does not parent like me!!  My sin is wiped clean.  Jesus defeated the law – and my sin is wiped clean by his death.  It is all about grace.  Grace.  Grace.  Grace – I need to keep reminding myself.  I do not feel it.  I do not want to pour grace to a boy who rolls his eyes, grumbles about EVERYTHING, hits his brother, shoves his sister, and did I mention rolls his eyes???  Grace for that?  Really, Lord? 

Ughhhh – Grace.  Grace. Grace.  I need to tattoo that on the back of my eyelids.  I need to see it every day, all day.  I need to offer more grace. 

Romans 5:20b But where sin increased grace increased all the more so that just as in reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Oh man.  You mean, by offering grace I might point to eternal life in Jesus?  You mean, that by wooing my boys heart, instead of bruising it will guilt, I might draw him deeper into the kingdom?  Not that I could really do that, I know it is not about me.  But my grace to him might reflect a God who offers is so much freely?  My grace is really HIS grace anyway.  My grace is a reflection of the REAL grace  – like a magnet – it draws other closer to HIM.  Oh man.

{Can you tell God woke me up for a reason, really though?  5:30?}

Finally, I turn back, I need to catch up in Chronicles.  And I see it again – a word to me.

1 Chronicles 5:13b We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.

This is David, talking about moving the Arc.  David.  Again, this Godly man – like Abraham in Romans.  David.  A man who God loved – and a man who loved God.  Two men who grasped what grace was.  They were given it, just like me.

They did not inquire and he did not bless their actions.  Truth to me : ask Him.  Daily, ask God for guidance on this parenting journey, and just maybe he will daily lead me as I lead these kids.  Just maybe he will give me the patience I need for that day, the kindness, the love, the GRACE. 

This morning was good.  I hope, next time I wake up early I do not toss and turn trying to grab hold of sleep – this time with Him was so much better than another hour or two of sleep.  This was real stuff.  Right where I am.  He met me there.  Right in my need of encouragement and promises.  God is good, all the time, even when your 10 year old rolls his eyes at you.

**Note – just another way God is amazing.  After I finished my time with God and my reading, I checked email and Kristen read the same passages this morning and typed many of them up and sent them to me with a brief message too.  God is so amazing – he knew I needed to hear these truths, twice even!!

Character Training (Revisited)

This seems to be the year of character training in our home.  I know, this should be something we do every year, but it seems to be of highest importance THIS year.  For months it was my youngest boy.  Now my oldest boy seems to be coming to the front of the discipline focus.

That is, until Kristen shared with me some things she gleaned from Laying Down the Rails on the way home from our house. 

I own this book.  Bought it in January I think.  I looked over a chapter about that time and shelved it.  It was not my favorite book.  But I knew, would be a great resource when I needed it.

 

As Kristen was here, she looked it over, and then asked if she could take it home until September (when I fly up there).  Of course I knew I would not miss it and encouraged her to take it!

So on the way home she read it with more attention that she was able to here.  She really enjoyed it.  She is going to make some notes and email me (ahem!!) but until then, I am chewing on something we talked about.  We both struggle with yelling. 

yelling mom

I am sure I am more of a yeller than her, but who knows?  I yell a lot.  I hate it.  I beat myself up all the time over yelling.   But I cannot seem to stop.  I tried praying about it (probably not long enough), I tried stopping – but how?  I need to replace habits – that is the most successful pattern I see – I replace bad with good.  Otherwise, I fall right back into bad.

So we talked, how do we stop?  Well, we are praying for each other, and ourselves.  I am going to count to three before I raise my voice.  Kristen pointed out how we feel the immediacy to correct, but it took minutes to get to that point.  Take a minute to handle the temper first.

The BIG revelation for me was : our yelling is our adult Temper Tantrum.  Wow.  That really hurt (my ego that is).  Think about it.  I yell when I do not get my way.  When I am annoyed.  When I am frustrated.  When I am acting like a 3 year old.

So, I am hoping that the steps I am taking, along with Kristen, will help to curb this habit of mine.  I hate that I do it.  I hate how I feel at night after they are all in bed and I have spent too long that day yelling.  Any yelling is too much. 

So we are still working on character training here, but who knew it was my character training?  Hmmmm.

My Cup Runneth Over

Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever just wanted to pinch yourself because things are just good?

After a perfect day with friends out yesterday we all crashed.  It was perfect!  Yummy food (amazing cobbler w/Cooper Farm Peaches thanks to Lisa), great fun  sliding (thanks to both families for bringing a slip & slide), fishing, running & playing, and just good times talking too!  It was just a perfect day!

This morning we woke up refreshed and the boys quickly hit the pond with fishing poles in hand.  I was given a few quiet moments on the porch reading my Bible, counting my blessings in my gratitude journal, and watching the chickens roam around.  It was perfect.  So much to be thankful for (here are a few):

0950 – boys fishing on the dock before breakfast

0955 – a sleepy little girl cuddling after waking up late

0959 – yummy cobbler from Lisa

0960 – almost to 1000 and starting again with a group of friends reading Ann’s book this summer


Most of all today I am thankful for a little boy’s heart who has chosen to turn it around.  A boy who had me pulling my hair out (or at least turning more of it gray)  just a few weeks ago.  We had a rough many weeks in fact.  Shooting the cat with a BBgun (at close range) throwing another in the pond, shaking the little tree with the bird nest and eggs, just to name a few issues.  So I attacked the heart issues.  Threw myself into Shepherding a Child’s Heart (again), Our 24 Family Way (Clarkson), listening to a Hive of Busy Bees, reading Tiger and Tom, and just plain talking.  Each time we talked though, he would clearly tell me he did not want to obey because he did not want to do hard things.  So then we talked over and over about people who HAVE to do hard things or the consequences they face.  Mainly talking about stories in the Bible where the people faces harsh consequences – Israelites, Jonah, etc.

It worked.  It was/is hard.  But it worked.  I was really amazed by how hard it is though, how much time it takes.  It was breakfast time devotions (consistently), it was talking all day long, it was listening in the car, me reading right before my bedtime, reading stories to them each evening.  It was fulltime – this character training.  It made me realize that I need to be doing it ALL the time.  Not just when we are addressing an issue.  ALL THE TIME.

But it has paid off.  I can see the fruit already in his sweet spirit.  He is so much more obedient and sweet about things.  He still has moments he is disobedient but I can see how he responds to correction is even different than it was.

So I just look at that boy and smile.  I can see God working in his heart and in his life.  I am so thankful for my friends who encouraged me while I walked through this.  The reminders of God’s grace, of his goodness, of the value of all that I was doing.  I know those reminders are what gave me the courage to stick with it all.  And today, we are continuing all those things – the books, the stories, the morning devotions.  I have learned!  I now know that this is an every day thing, not a reactive thing to problems.  The more I invest daily the easier it will be to tackle issues are they come up!!

Resetting

Sometimes I can let life get the best of me.  I can fill up our schedule and we can be running and I am left wondering what happened.  I wonder what happened to the peace in our life?  What happened to my kids being friends?  I wonder what happened to my time, to my sanity?

I love to be in touch.  I am a very social person and I love to keep in touch with friends, with family, with everyone. 

But every once in a while God resets my schedule.  It may happen by choice at times, it may happen by circumstance, or it may happen by pain.  I have experienced all those different types of resets.

I have had friendships explode in my face leaving me wondering what in the world just happened.  I have moved to a new place and not known a soul and not had anyone to keep in touch with.  I have had sick kids for a couple weeks back to back and not seen anyone for far, too long!

Each time this happens in my life I get a new perspective.  I see  my kids through different eyes.

This last week while talking to Kristen, who just moved to DC we reflected back on the times God has allowed us to slow down and pull back within our families.

It has always been GOOD.  Always!  Not always fun at times, not always what I would choose.  But always what was best for my family.

You see, when I trek out to the zoo, let’s say, with friends, my friend and I chat while the kids run from animal to animal.  I do not spend much time talking to my kids about what they are seeing.  I don’t read much about the animals, I don’t answer too many questions (because quite frankly my kids do not ask many questions because I am chatting with my friend).  This is not a problem in itself.  I fully believe God want us in fellowship, but at what cost or sacrifice?

I can really see the difference when I trek out with my kids only and me.  We read everything, we talk about all the animals – I am answering constant questions.  When I leave the zoo on those days I am amazed at how curious my kids are, how smart they are, and how much they want my attention.

I am certainly not advocating dropping your friends until your kids go to college.  But I think I, at times, fill my plate too full with time with friends and leave little energy or attention for these great kids.  I mean honestly, they are going to be out the door before I can realize it, and then I can spend time with friends at no cost to my children.

I know that time with friends can encourage my heart, inspire my parenting, and refresh my weary soul – and I do not want to give that up in any way.  But I am trying to spend less time on the phone – more attention for them.  I am trying to push things off to the night that I can do then, to free up some time when the kids are up and I can do things with them.

I have found, each time God has reset my schedule in some way, it has been so good to have a new perspective with my kids.  It has helped me to invest more time with them, more time playing a game, reading a book, or even going for a walk.