If I ever need a second career, it most certainly could be as a referee. Maybe in wrestling or boxing. After all, I spend so much of my day breaking up fights and resolving conflicts. My life experience should add up to a lot on my resume. Don’t you think?
All kidding aside, my boys argue about anything and everything. It’s an issue we have been working on and praying about for a while. The thing with prayer is, often when you pray about something, God then gives you ample learning opportunities. Everyone jokes that you shouldn’t pray for patience because God will give you opportunities to learn practice. Well, in my case, since praying for my boys and their conflicts, I’ve been given plenty of opportunities to work with my children on it.
Recently the boys were arguing together over who would get to do something first. I don’t know if this happens in your house, but in mine, they will even argue about who gets to brush their teeth first at night. On this occasion, they were arguing about who got computer time first that day. Did I mention I was driving at the time?
I interrupted their argument and said, “We need an agreeable solution. I want you to consider how you can glorify God in this. Each of you pray in your heart, asking God how you can find a way to resolve this conflict.
A moment of silence passed and then my oldest said, “Ian goes first.”
This summer, we are using this curriculum: The Young Peacemaker (Book Set). This curriculum uses illustrated stories about real life conflicts children are likely to face. It teaches children how to deal with conflict Biblically. It’s a complete curriculum that can be used at home, church, or school. So far, the kids enjoy it and we’ve had great discussions about their own conflicts. They have role played how to handle conflicts and have even evaluated examples of conflict in scripture. It is my prayer that what they learn sinks deep into their heart. Though I know it also means there will be more and more opportunities to practice!
This is another post in the series titled, The Healer of Our Souls. The posts in this series focus on how the truth of God’s Word brings healing to all wounded parts of our soul.To read more in this series, click here.
My heart is often fickle. I sing praise to God about His wonders and grace when life is going well. I testify to everyone about what He has done and how He has answered my prayers. But then once life makes a turn and I face an obstacle or a trial, I complain, question God, and doubt the very grace I once praised.
What is wrong with me?
When the circumstances in my life change from rosy to fair or even worse, does that mean God has changed? Is He only good if He is giving me good things and whatever I ask for? And what about when the trials linger, does that mean His power has diminished or that He’s lost His love for me?
While my head would say that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “No” the truth is, my heart often responds with a “Yes.”
Oh, that God would give me grace to make what my head knows to be true to be what my heart lives out as truth!
The truth is, I project my own human limitations and expectations on God. This is why my heart questions His love, power, or grace when life gets hard. But God is not the one who changes, I do. I am the fickle Queen of Broken Promises, with swinging emotions and a distracted heart.
While I may be ever changing, there is one thing that is constant, dependable and sure. There is one thing I can count on when I journey through deep valleys and grope in the darkness of uncertainty. Like keeping my eyes on the level horizon when a storm rages at sea, there is one constant I can look to when the storms of life rage in my soul.
The character of God.
God never changes. He is always faithful and keeps every promise. He never tires, feels helpless, or loses his power. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” And he is always, always good.
Jesus prayed for the disciples, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17). It is the truth of God’s word which changes us, sanctifies us, transforms us–from the inside out. When it comes to the character of God, the more I study His word to learn about his attributes, the more in awe I will be. The more I dwell on the unshakable truths about God, the more I am utterly moved that he would ever love me. And my own love and trust for him grows as I splash in the joy of being known and loved by our amazing God.
Below are just a few of the attributes or character traits of God found in Scripture. Will you join me in studying and learning more about who God is? As you study these attributes of God, consider using them in your prayers. Thank God for each of his characteristics. Use them in prayers of praise. Confess how you may have failed to trust him for these attributes. Ask him to apply them to your heart so that you might have deeper faith and love for him.
My son was scheduled for sinus surgery a month ago. Two days before the surgery, he received medical clearance from the pediatrician that he was healthy and ready to go. The day before surgery however, he came down with a high fever. Needless to say, I had to call and cancel the surgery.
Sometimes, God changes our plans. Just this past week I became sick and had to ask someone at the last minutes to take over my bible study at church. While I know that “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9), I still get out of sorts when my plans are changed. I prefer to schedule things and know that they will take place. I like my life organized and without interruptions or delays.
But God knows better. He knows that what I don’t need is a life that runs smoothly and is chaos free. He knows that for me to grow in holiness, I need my plans interrupted. Because while intense growth often happens in the depths of trial and suffering, most of our growth in faith occurs in the mundane of daily life.
It’s in those small things, like cancelled plans or unexpected illness, where our holiness is forged. It happens when we are stuck in traffic, late to an appointment, and when we have to cancel a birthday party at the last minute because someone gets sick (done that!).
When we go along in our day and face an unexpected roadblock, we can fret, worry, and complain. We can become irritated with the slow clerk at the grocery store. We can blame the unhurried car in front of us for making us late. We can pull our hair out and stress over every inconvenience. Or we can submit to God’s work in our heart and follow the new path he’s brought us to. Remaining faithful, loving others when they don’t love us, and trusting in the face of worry–these are the fruits of God’s refining work through our daily circumstances.
Because we are sinful, it is hard to face the unexpected. Our natural response is to worry or become angry.This is why Jesus came. He lived a perfect life, faced every temptation we face, glorified his father in all the ordinary and mundane circumstances and trusted God’s redemptive plan. He carried all our sins on the cross–each worry, every angry thought, and all our sinful responses to the challenges of life–and died to free us from doing life our own way.
So while we can continue to make plans and arrange our days, our hearts are not dependent on them. Rather, we rely on God’s plan for our life. We believe that ”for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We trust his will and his sanctifying power in our lives. And because we are his children, we know that he disciplines us out of love (Hebrews 12:6).
When the first rays of morning shine its light in our bedroom window and we look ahead to the day’s plans, may we prostrate our hearts before our Father, saying “not my will, but yours be done.” As for my son’s surgery, it’s been rescheduled for this Wednesday, Lord willing. If you think of it, could you pray?
Joining friends in community to give thanks for the Lord’s loving and refining work in my heart: (#2165-2180)
knowing that God’s plan is good, my husband taking off work when I was sick, my son recovering from bronchitis, friends helping, finishing up our homeschool curriculum for the year, finishing the ladies bible study for the year, new books for summer vacay, planning our trip with friends, new writing opportunities, getting our water softener fixed (yay!), movie night at a friends house, a sweet friend who gave me a teacher appreciation gift, cute Mother’s Day crafts, friend bringing me an unexpected dinner, and a new couch.
I recently noticed that when my son prays at night, he prays a broad, “forgive me of all my sins” type of prayer. Unless he’s been in some kind of trouble that day, he fails to remember any specific sins. I want my children to know that sin is much more than just not doing what they are told, fighting with each other, and failng to clean up their room. In fact, I want them to feel conviction over their sin and grieve over it.
The past couple of weeks we’ve been focusing on sin in our devotional time together.
We memorized these questions from the children’s shorter catechism:
Q. 28. What is Sin? A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God.
Q. 29. What is meant by want of conformity? A. Not being or doing what God requires.
Q. 30. What is meant by transgression? A. Doing what God forbids.
We studied these verses from scripture:
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4
And we went through this definition of sin by John Piper:
“What is sin?
It is the glory of God not honored.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savored.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.
That is sin.”
We talked about how many in the world don’t believe they are sinful because they haven’t murdered anyone or robbed a bank. We talked about how even just one sin is heinous in the eyes of God and worthy of his wrath. As we went through John Pipers definition, we realized how many sins we commit each day. When we fail to glorify God or don’t appreciate his goodness, we have sinned. When we don’t rejoice or marvel at the works of his hands, we have sinned.
I also had the boys do a little object lesson to show how even one sin takes over the heart. The impacts of our sins are great, even what we might consider ‘little’ sins. Sins also tend to multiply. After all it was just one sin which brought about the Fall of all mankind:
They put one drop of food coloring in a cup of water.
And watched it spread throughout the water.
Until the entire cup of water was red.
We also talked about why even our good deeds are sinful in the eyes of God. (see Isaiah 64:6)
My intention in this study is for my children to see that they are completely sinful and in desperate need of a Savior. For only Jesus can cleanse us from our sin, making us white as snow. And only because of Jesus can we stand before God, holy and blameless in his sight.
If your kids enjoy hiphop music, you might want to have them listen to this song by Shai Linne:
It’s almost the end of the school year and I realized I’ve hardly posted about our year in homeschool. It has been a busy year for us. We have traveled the world learning about each continent, studying a number of countries in detail, and learning about each ecosystem around the world, all with the travel guidance of our My Father’s World curriculum. Along the way, we read stories and biographies about missionaries who loved and served the lost around the world. We also studied different people groups and prayed for a people group each week. And we enjoyed food such as bratworst and sauerkraut, nutella crepes, fatoush and kabobs, chicken satay, an Indian mango drink, and Australian meat pie.
Another new curriculum for us this year was A Reason for Spelling: Student Workbook Level C (Reason for Spelling: Level C). The spelling curriculum we used last year was unremarkable and disappointing. I have been so pleased with A Reason for Spelling! There is a story at the beginning of each lesson about a class of students. The stories incorporate a Biblical lesson, often a godly character trait or lesson in faith. The spelling words learned that week come from the story. The curriculum provides opportunity for kinesthetic learners as well (my son spelled his words with pipe cleaners, play dough, and even Scrabble Cheez-Itz).
Because we traveled with my husband a number of places this year, we were able to go on many field trips. We visited Washington, D.C. and toured monuments and the Smithsonian. We also went to children’s museums, science museums, aquariums, zoos, and more. If you want to know how we travel and do homeschool at the same time, read my post here.
We had a full year and I look forward to teaching two next year as my youngest will be starting kindergarten. What about you? How was your school year?
In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share with you a new video by Keith and Kristyn Getty. I’ve seen them live a couple of times and love their heart for Christ. The song is called A Mother’s Prayer, perfect for Mother’s Day. Below you’ll find Kristyn’s thoughts behind the song. Enjoy!
Reflections on A Mother’s Prayer
by Kristyn Getty
In the spring of 2008 I first prayed for a baby, and in the spring of 2011 God answered that prayer with the birth of our beautiful daughter. My joy was full but so were the fears I wrestled. In some ways I felt like a baby Christian again, caught in a whirlwind of emotions, learning and applying what I have known and trusted into a completely new life – I know I’m definitely not the first to feel that!
Friends of ours had given us a card when their first son was born; it was full of prayer requests for his little life, a prayer for every day of the month. My prayers were not quite as coherent as those, especially at first, but the urgency of the moment drove me to my knees. “Help her, help me” baby prayers at 3am; prayers as I heard the baby monitor light up in the morning; prayers when I thought of her safety, her soul, her future; prayers with my husband; prayers while Eliza listened in.
When people found out that I was pregnant one of the most frequent comments I received was how my creativity would discover a whole new vista of inspiration as I became a mother. So, when Eliza came I was anticipating a fresh flow of profound poetic thought, but instead I was swept up in the constant flow of changes and feedings and “Old MacDonald had a farm!” I was expecting full sentences, but I was blubbering looking at my beautiful girl! I actually wondered if I’d ever be able to write again. I just about tucked some thoughts away to ponder later when my brain would start to fit itself back together again (still nowhere near a completed process!). As I continued to learn the wonderful balancing act and privilege of mothering, homemaking, writing, traveling and singing, Keith and I began to write a song for Eliza choosing this theme of praying for her, and the end result was “A Mother’s Prayer.”
My parents have faithfully prayed for me my whole life, and I remember when I was younger my mum met with other mums to pray for all their children – a “Moms in Touch” group in Belfast. Even just the knowledge of that helped me, and I want Eliza to know we are praying for her and trying to guide her in this context that reaches to the call and purpose of her whole life and an understanding of the Lord’s grace and faithfulness. We’re now in the toddler stage and some of the prayer needs are shifting. We wanted the song to reflect the different seasons – ones we had discovered and then those still to come. We also wrote it to remind us of our promise to pray for her through all the years we’re given. We hope this song for her – and even more our praying for her – might catch her ear and help guide her heart as she grows up.
To send a free Mother’s Day e-card to someone special in your life, click here. To read Kristyn’s journals following the birth of her daughter, click here. To learn more about the Getty’s music, click here.
A friend recently asked me if I could give her some parenting advice. I smiled and said that I couldn’t because I’m not an expert and don’t know really what I am doing. She laughed and remarked on the ways parenting humbles us. My friend did not realize just how true her statement was. For many years, I taught, counseled, advised, and trained parents in the raising of their children. It’s a remarkable testimony to God’s grace toward me that I’ve come to a point in my own parenting where I am not at the ready to give advice.
Many people describe marriage as the laboratory where our spiritual growth is fostered and developed. I find it to be equally true of parenting as well…to read the rest of this post, visit Desiring God, my writing home today.
I recently discovered that the most highly read post over the past year was “A Prayer for the Sad of Heart.” If you haven’t read that post, click here. I decided to have the prayer made into a printable and asked my friend Melanie (who did all my other printables) to help me out again. Isn’t it beautiful?
To get a printable copy of this prayer for yourself, click here.
I sat there staring at the coffee cup on the table in front of me. Listening to my friend talk, I felt my eyes burn and tried to gather myself together. It had been a while since we chatted. On our own, without the kids and husbands, we sat in one of our favorite coffee shops and caught up on each other’s lives.
We talked about the last year and the story God is writing in our lives. It’s still hard to understand the difficult chapter she’s lived in as she follows a long road to recovery from cancer. I praised God in my heart for the miracle that she was beside me and we discussed what it meant to have cancer as part of her story.
Each month I submit an article to my writer’s critique group. They pick it apart, make edits, point out grammatical errors, highlight confusing sentences, and then help me put it back together. I critique each of their articles, stories, and poems as well.
The truth is, I wish I could edit my life the way I edit those articles…to read the rest of this post, visit Domestic Kingdom, my writing home today.
I lie next to him, snuggling and enjoying the feel of his damp hair against my cheek. This nightly ritual is just a story and a prayer, but it warms me down deep in my soul. Lying there with his blue fire truck quilt pulled up to our chins, we talk about the day. He voices his worries and fears. He talks about his plans and hopes. I pray a gospel prayer and remind him of God’s unending love.
“Mom, I wish you could stay here tonight for a sleepover” he said.
My son is five and no longer a baby. He’s my second and last; I’ll have no others. It is nights like these that I wish time could slow down and even stand still.
To read more of this story, visit The Better Mom where I am guest posting today.