Living it

I am certainly not living the life I should.  I mean, don’t we all fall so short of what we hope for ourselves and short of what God has for us? 

We talked this week about what it is that pulls us away from what we should do.  Is it that we are too busy?  Too tired?  It is too hard to do _______ (fill in the blank______?

Well, I have not arrived, by any stretch, but as much as I fail, I occasionally do something right.  So often I think I hit the mark most with my children than with myself.

(Now after the past 2 weeks or so, I am not feeling too proud as a mom, but I am not sure that is truth I am leaning on…. another issue for another day..)

Anyway, last fall our church took over the management of a local food pantry.  I have always wanted to be more involved in service projects, but with 4 little kids it is hard to be able to do too much.  With our church so involved though,and knowing nearly all the adults working there I decided to get my older boys involved. 

J and Kasey at pantry

 

So each Thursday morning, they head to our local food pantry for about 2 to 2.5 hours.  Many weeks they go back in the afternoon too, to help again about 4:30 until 6pm.  They LOVE it.  I mean they live to do this.  They do extra work on Wednesday to make sure they can go, the do extra work when they get home.  They wake up on Thursday excited to go.  I love their hearts!

E filling boxes

I had not been, until about a week ago.  I simply was not able to get away and go, and with my back I was not sure there was a ton that I could do.  But I finally made it a priority to go and help out alongside  my youngest boy and my oldest.  E has been BEGGING to go for months, but he is a bit young to be there without Robert or me.  So we have not allowed him to go. 

E Ally filling bags

It was so much fun!  It was fun to work and help, it was fun to bless so many families,  It was fun to just visit with the other people working there.  The most fun? 

J filling boxes

Watching my oldest boy show me the ropes, and delight in watching him work!! (I wish he worked that hard here with his chores…again another issue for another day….)

Ally sorting items

I am not sure how often I will get over there, but I loved helping and loved watching my boys love helping!  I am thrilled they are committed to this ministry.  Another part I love?  The people who work along side my boys (really mentoring them in many ways) and how they are encouraging my boys, and confirming the truths we are teaching them.  These amazing adults are living It.  They are walking the walk and serving when they could be home with their feet up, or simply living up their retirement.  But they are not.  They are serving so many in Malakoff that need them!

I am loving this part of parenting – the pride of seeing my boys’ hearts pumping outside their bodies!!

Check out our church’s ministry called Faith In Action:

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allowing truth to be truth

So, what do you do when things do not go the way you hope?  When you are investing and see nothing coming from all your work?  When no matter what, all you feel like you are doing is correction/discipline, over and over.

I am not sure the right answer, honestly.  But I know that, just as God is still working on me, I must admit and allow for the fact that God is still working on each of their little hearts too.  I was, gently, reminded today that I am planting seeds daily.  I may not see those seeds (all of them) sprout, may not see much fruit, but if I continue to plant them, one day they will sprout and grow and hopefully bear fruit!


Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the Earth.  He does not grow tired or weary, his understanding no one can fathom.

Isaiah 40:28

(our family memory verse this week)


 

So while I am very frustrated, and I feel like I am dealing with issues we should no longer be dealing with, I can see there is some goodness in their hearts.  They are memorizing multiple verses at one time, and really learning them.  So, yes, school may be crazy, but if they are getting these truths and verses in their hearts, maybe I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. 

Maybe, and I should say, certainly – the truth of God is far more important than an algebra problem, a grammar sheet, really anything.  So if that is true, then maybe I need to not stress so much about the other stuff.  It will work out.


James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,  To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:1-4

(J & P are memorizing this for Sunday night study of James)


Being raised an only child, I am just not sure what this family should look like, how much I should tolerate as acceptable in their behavior, what I should let go.  I want them to behave, but life with one child looks so much different than a life with 4 children – especially 4 within 5 years of each other.  And I daily have to remind myself that these boys are good boys, they love Jesus with all their heart, they are just simply energetic, busy, and active boys.  Sometimes I wish that God would send me a text to remind me of these things.  It would sure help me to handle things without losing my cool, much more often!

Always good to remember God’s truths, remember who made me and who made these precious gifts I get to raise for a few short years.  Hoping next week goes better, maybe with a better outlook and attitude my week will be better than I expect!

Discipleship ~ Part II

So, Tuesday  I shared some of the thoughts in my head, bouncing around (I am sure there is lots of open space for such thoughts to bounce….)

What does discipleship really look like?

How do we “do” it?

To whom do we disciple?

Many of these thoughts came from reading Radical by David Platt. 

 

While reading that book, I have listened to a few great podcasts too like :

Matt Chandler and Mission of God

Michael Fletcher @ Manna ReligionX

The underlying theme in all these places has been that it is not about God saving us to Save Us – it is about saving us so that we can live our lives glorifying HIM.  I just love this.  It is not about us.  Never was.  Never will be.  Wow.  I love this!

 

But it is about passing this on, teaching those coming along behind us, and just imagine if they get it at age 10, or 9, or even 7 – imagine them getting that it is bigger than themselves!?  How could that, rather – WOULD THAT revolutionize the world???  A generation growing up KNOWING it is not about them, their bank accounts, their comfort, their “happiness”!!  Wow.

So how do we do that?

Well to continue on with how we are trying to do our best by passing this on, teaching this daily, and living it out – this is what we do:

1. Talking– we talk about it at the table.  We talk about these concepts, we talk about the Bible and how it teaches it.  We talk about why we volunteer at the food pantry. 

2. Prayer – we pray for others.  One way we do this is with cards with names on them.  This year I am going to make a prayer bucket I saw on pinterest

I am going to take jumbo popsicle/craft sticks and make them cute, then write names of all those on our Christmas card list and nearby families who we will pray for daily.  We did this last year in December and January, this year.  the kids have been asking why we stopped.  So, that is a project I need to get on and get it back on our kitchen table.  When we pray for them we usually talk about how we know them, how they have been a part of our lives, passing on the legacy of our friends and family.

When we pray for others, we are lifting them up to the God who loves them and us.  We are teaching our kids to think about others and put their needs before our Savoir, even if it is just a blanket, please bless them. 

3. Reading – We read many books together, but we try to choose specific books that teach.  We love biographies and I have gotten J and P both into reading the YWAM Books which are biographies of historical  figures or Missionaries

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They have read too many to list, but if you are looking for some fabulous read alouds, or books for your kids ages 9 and up to read these are amazing!!

4. Service – my boys have started volunteering at the local Food Shelter weekly.  They are absolutely loving it!  My oldest told me how he just feels so good helping there, and I told him that is because God blesses us when we serve. 

Robert has been able to join them the past two weeks and that has been so good for him too.  They are really offering their work in exchange for nothing, no pay, no benefits – just the satisfaction of serving.  I love that they are getting to do this and that they WANT to do it.  They are learning that it is not about them – they are giving up their play time here to go and serve, and they are asking each week to do it.  I feel that this is another way we are training them up to be young men who give back, to the church and community.  Not to mention the valuable time they get from being with so many Godly men and women who run (this particular food shelter), and the wisdom they are sharing with my boys.  This is such a win/win for me – I am loving it!!

5. Church – Finally, we feel our involvement with our local church is vital to discipleship.  We do not profess to be there every time the doors are open, in fact we have chosen to stay home during weekly events during certain seasons of our lives.  When our children were young, we opted not to wake them from afternoon naps on Sunday to rush up to AWANA.  That was a person choice we made.  I guarantee my kids did not miss out on a few years of stories and puppets. 

We do make Sunday attendance a given – we  attend as a family unless someone is sick, and then we divide and conquer, a parent stays home with the sick one, and a parent takes the rest for worship.  Sunday School is something we believe in very strongly.  And Wednesday night Children’s Activities are also something we believe in.  Whether it is children’s choir, Bible Drill or something else.  I believe that my children can get something out of each of these things as well as offer their input.

We believe in corporate worship too.  It took a few years for us to figure out what that looks like for our family, but at this point it means our children attend worship with us from about 5 and a half up.  In the past some churches we have attended offered Children’s Church through 5th grade, but we have opted to worship as a family.  Does this always look pretty?  No, hardly.  Some weeks we have tears for being corrected, bored looks on faces, and often one boy struggles to stay awake.  But they are learning as they sit with us what REAL church looks like.  They are learning why we tithe and how, and also how we can serve others through our prayers and our actions.  Most often, you will see Bibles open, and even thought our youngest may not look like he hears what is being preached, as he looks up favorite verses in his Bible, but he can almost always tell me what Pastor Nathan preached on.

My children are learning why the church is important and the role they play, and what they have to offer from watching us live it each week.


Once again, I will say, we have not mastered any of this.  These are simply ways we are intentionally training and discipling our children.  Ways we are teaching them what the scripture had taught us.  We still get angry when they mess up, we still mess up with what we are going at times.  However, when I stand back and look at my kids, I can see they are getting it, little by little.  It has taken lots of hard work though, lots of time and lots and lots of patience.  It is much harder to sit with my boys and remind them every few minutes how they should act, than to let them sit somewhere else and not bother me.  And it would be much easier to let the m go to a more “entertaining” program like Children’s Church until they are much older – at least, easier in the short term, but harder in the long run.

I still feel that discipleship begins at home, with our most vulnerable disciples who are longing for the time, attention, and love we show them when we spend the energy to come along side them and teach them, through our daily lives.

Discipleship {Part I}

What does discipleship really look like? 

How do we “do” it? 

To whom do we disciple?

Those are a few of the questions bouncing around in my head these days. 

 

While reading Radical, and listening to David Platt talk about what it means, how Jesus did it, and how we are called not only to go and tell, but to make disciples, I am chewing on how that looks in my life. 

First, I think I am called to disciple my children.  Why?  Well, before this week I could not specifically tell you, but while I was reading Titus 1:5-9 I read why I am called to do this.

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.

Paul tells us in Titus that to be a leader in the church you must have only 1 wife, and children who are believers and not rebellious.  Why would he say this?  Because if you do not have your own house in order, how in the world are you going to tell someone else how to get theirs in order?

Now, first let me admit, our house is by no means “in order” other than we are disciple our children daily, hourly, and by the minute.  We do not have it all figured out, and I hardly believe that anything we did led to the salvation of our children.  Sure, we  took them to church,w e prayed with them, and we live this thing call Christianity – we live it daily, but we sin all the time.  So, when I read what Paul is telling us, I do not think you have to “get it all together” before you go and tell.  But if you are living a life according to the Word, your house will naturally be in order.  You do not have to “work” at it, add it to your to-do list.  Do you wake up and think, “oh yeah, I have to remember to breathe today?”  No.  I do not wake up and think, boy I have to show Jesus to my kids today.  I do not add to my to-do list, pray with the kids, talk about all that God gave us, be thankful in front of them.  It is simply who we are.

Okay, back to my first point.  I think we need to be discipling those kids because :

1. God gave them to US

2.  Because we can do it without thinking about it or working at it – they live with us, for goodness sake & watch all we do

3.  They will forgive us if we drop the ball and do not do it too well

4.  If we mess up today, we get a do-over tomorrow, and the next day, and the – well you get it

So, why is it that so many of us would rather get on a plane, fly to strangers and tell them the good news, instead of sitting down with our kids and living it?  I am not sure.

I know God created us all to be different parts of one body.  But I do believe we are all commanded to go and tell – and we are all commanded to make disciples. 

Well, as I keep chewing on this, I thought I would share how we are currently living this out in our {perfectly} IMPERFECT home. 

Scripture Study~

~ We are in the Bible daily.  The older kids and Robert and I are finishing up our Read through the Bible in a year – the boys are going to finish the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs.  Robert and I – the whole shebang.  What a sweet blessing to say that we did it – not prideful mind you, just amazingly in awe.  And for my boys to be in the Word each day – an even greater blessing!!

scripturememory box

~ Next, we memorize scripture.  We have our Memory Box on the table and review those verses (almost) daily.  They are getting more and more down – sweet, life-giving words!!

 

My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts

~ My A B C Bible verses – I have had this book for years.  I love it, but had not cracked it open in quite a while.  I got it out though after listening to the Wolgemuth’s talk on Family Talk recently to listen click HERE for Part I and HERE for Part II.

   Now, we are working through this book and getting 26 more verses into our hearts (mine and theirs).  They are simple verses, many of which we know, but getting the verse with the reference down it still good practice.

~ Finally, we are praying together daily, not just at meals either.  We pray at 10am sometimes together (my phone is set to alarm at 10am – I pray, right now for patience and kindness with my kids) but we always pray when we start school.  We use a Prayer Calendar (Download : Boys / Girls) when we remember to, otherwise we just pray for what we are learning and dealing with.

 

So, we certainly do not have it figured out.  I am sure my kids will seek out a couch on which to vent their troubles to a sympathetic ear, when they reach adulthood, but we are sure trying our best to instill God into their young hearts.  I love that I hear them singing songs from our Hymn Study, Bible Drill at church, or from Sunday worship as they go about their days.  I love to hear them remind each other words from scripture they have memorized.  They are not perfect, but they are sure trying to live their lives like they know to.

We are not perfect people, but as imperfect vessels we have taken up the banner of discipleship and it has started right here in our home. 

{Come back next Tuesday for Discipleship Part II}

{not so} Patient

Sometimes as I am teaching my kids character traits, I wonder.  Okay, I wonder a lot, but during these certain session I wonder about something very specific.

I wonder if God is putting the words in my mouth for me to hear.  Not sure I like what I am wondering about … i.e.  – Who is this lesson really for?

For example I have been struggling with how to talk to my eldest about patience, about controlling his anger and acting appropriately.  So this morning we talked about his siblings.  How they were chosen just for him.  How God can build his muscle of patience through the things he has to deal with, with regards to them.

So, as we headed out to church I thought about that.  If I tell him this stuff, and I know it to be true, why do I get so impatient with him?  And those other “chosen” siblings of his?

Why do I yell, or raise my voice over insignificant things?  Why don’t I think about it like building muscles?  We don’t yell at the weight when we are weight training and it gets hard.  But we yell at the child who is working out muscles of patience in the same way.

I guess, today I am reminded that God did not give me these kids just for the great hugs and sweet endearments.  In fact, he gave me these kids to teach me, oh so many things.

So I am taking the next 30 days to pray daily for patience – especially with regards to my kids.  Praying for patience words, a kind tone, and joy in my face and my heart no matter what.  That is what I want them to do right?  But yet, I do not hold  myself to that standard.  Ughh.

So, 30 days.  With lots of prayer, and lots of deep breaths, I hope to have some stronger muscles – especially in the Patience department!