The Little Boy We Almost Didn’t Have

 

The Little Boy We Almost Didn't Have

This is 10-year-old Brooks.  He absolutely, positively knows what he wants to do in life, has an incredible knack for knowing how machines work, and he is the most curious little guy I’ve ever known. Pure joy, really.

Brooks really shouldn’t be here. Before his conception, I had a 3 month old baby girl. My husband was self-employed, we were in financial distress, and we did not have any insurance. We were STRONGLY advised by some to “not get pregnant” due to our current financial situation. We had just felt the Lord convicting us about giving Him control over our family size, so this was a huge struggle. What should we do? We certainly knew we were not going to implement any artificial use of birth control. We said we believed God knew our circumstances, but our flesh gave in, and we practiced abstinence for 5 months…well it would have been complete abstinence except for one, ONE I tell you, “exception.”

A few weeks later when I began to feel nauseated, it never even crossed my mind that I might be pregnant. I mean, we had so sacrificially behaved in such a way that made that impossible (except for that one time)…

Pregnancy test was positive. Surprisingly, as I held my little 3-month old and looked into her face with the realization that I was, again pregnant, a peace came over me. I said out loud, “Lord, you do have a sense of humor!”

Long story short, regarding our insurance, my husband became employed with a landscaper, received company insurance which picked up the pregnancy without a question (there is a law now that prohibits a group insurance to consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition), and none of our fears were ever even an issue. (By the way, we were shocked to find out that a “non-insured” pregnancy is actually very affordable. Our hospital charges $2,700 for the total package, including my favorite part–the epidural! The doctor’s fee is separate, and can be made in payments as well as the hospital bill.)

When I look at my little Brooks, I almost shudder to think about how close we came to not having him. I am thankful for God’s sense of humor, which is actually His sovereignty. And guess what? My body did not fall apart because I had two children so close together. My oldest son received the little brother he had been longing for; and our family received yet another, incredible blessing that I can’t imagine being without.

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Will You Help Me Help Them? (Silent Auction With Cool Stuff!)

Once upon a time a horrific tornado demolished our home and community. As bad as it was, the Body of Christ shined brighter than I thought possible. And not just our family, friends and neighbors. Brothers and sisters from around the country became soul-friends through that tragedy.

One such family was the Ockers. Mr. Ocker left his wife and 9 children to spend several weeks rebuilding our home–he spent time, money and separation from his family to help someone he had never even heard of!

That’s not all. That family has continued to show such love to ours. Two years after the storm, when I had my last baby, Kaid, Mrs. Ocker sent me the most lovely, personalized quilt.

The Ockers have a son with numerous health challenges. And now they are in need of help and I want so much to help them back. William recently had to spend 3 weeks in the hospital battling pneumonia and the medical costs have mounted for the Ockers. I wish we were in a different financial state, one where I could simply send them lots of money. But we’re not.

And I know, especially with the internet, there are many, many in need. But the Ockers are one family I can touch, one who has so generously touched ours, and I want to offer them what I can.

So we’ve started an online auction for them that ends in 6 days. I want to invite you to browse the really great items there, including a weekend stay in a vacation home in OK! Remember that all the money from the auction will go directly to the Ockers.

I hope you’ll consider sharing it too!

Check out the OCKER AUCTION

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Helping Our Children Keep the Faith–The Bedrock of Parenting Well

Helping Our Children Keep the Faith--The Bedrock of Parenting Well

We attended the Gen2 Conference last weekend and left so encouraged and inspired. I was thoroughly impressed with the humility and wisdom of each speaker and as they discussed why so many millennials seem to be leaving the faith, it was good to hear a “back-to-the-basics” of the homeschool movement and what we need to remember as we seek to raise faithful children.

In summary, if you are concerned as I am, desiring more than anything to see your children walk and continue in truth, these were some of the principles revisited:

  • You can’t save your children. It’s one of those things where we have to balance our responsibility with the sovereignty of God and His election. We labor and pray and work with all diligence to teach our children the ways of the Lord, and then we must rely completely on His grace, remembering they are His and only He can save them. Period.
  • Relationship is everything. Maintaining a loving and close relationship with your children is the number one way to improve the chances of their desiring the things of God and continuing in the faith. We can’t demand our children serve the Lord without cultivating a relationship with them that causes them to want that. Such a thing will cause outward conformity for a time, and rebellion after that. Much of their view of God comes from their view of us. So the balance of reverence and love must be carefully achieved.
  • Hypocrisy is the fastest way to apostasy. Well, I made up that saying, but the principle was there. Kevin Swanson did an incredible job of driving this point. Trying to achieve some form of outward conformity, or trying to follow a formula hoping to get cookie-cutter results is not what God calls us to. Anything we expect from our children outwardly must be motivated by a genuine love for their souls, guided by our love for God. Our walk must be real and our children need to know that we are parenting from an eternal perspective, not one that seeks the praise of men.
  • Repentance and transparency are mandatory. It is impossible to be genuine if we aren’t repenting to our children and giving them the example of humility. We sin. They know it. We better be confessing it.
  • We must teach them apologetics. Ken Hamm explained that many young people are so easily swayed by other influences when they are older because they were never given a foundational understanding of biblical theology. They don’t know how to answer the critics. Sound doctrine needs to be a part of our daily lives. It’s a challenge, for sure, to make sure they are being taught rightly, but we need to shore up their worldview by challenging them to know how to give an answer for what they believe. Not just because mom and dad said so or have always done things this way.

I said I was encouraged, but I was also a little overwhelmed. I mean this job we do is heavy. Checking out really isn’t an option. I am reminded by Paul to “fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith.” The stakes are too high to do anything else.

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Conversations About Learning: Is School Good For Us?

Conversations About Learning Is School Good For Us

Enjoy these fascinating, thought-provoking articles by Roger Schank about our current educational system:

“Somehow we accept school as a painful experience of no real relevance to our lives and we talk about what we liked when we mean what we disliked least. And we talk about school’s relevance by assuming it provided “the basics” when we really do not know what the basics are.”

Conversations about learning: Part 1: how should school be different?
Conversations about Learning Part 2: real life learning

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Training Children: The Importance of Self-Government

Training Children The Importance of Self-Government

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Welsh minister and doctor, once said:

“The whole future of civilization, it seems to me, rests upon this: f the West goes down and is defeated, it will be for one reason only: internal rot…If we continue to spend our lives in jollification, doing less and lesswork, demanding more and more money, more and more pleasure and so-called happiness, more and more indulgence of the lusts of the flesh, with a refusal to accept our responsibilities, there is but one inevitable result–complete and abject failure….the fall of Rome came because of the spirit of indulgence that had invaded the Roman world…And the really alarming fact today is that we are witnessing a similar declension in this and most other Western countries….This is the essential problem, this sheer absence of discipline and of order and of true notions of government!” (From A Theology of the Family)

Sadly, in our culture we do see a tremendous inclination toward shirking responsibility and failure to self-govern.

I submit that as parents, one of the most important things we will ever do for our children is teach them how to take responsibility for their actions and how to self-govern their passions and desires.

I could pick out any tragic news story from bankruptcy to murder and almost always find at its root, the inability to self-govern.

So how to teach it?

Start early. A toddler just learning to eat may throw the food he doesn’t want on the floor. Cute as it may be (or not), it is an opportunity to help him begin to govern his emotions. The basic lesson he needs to learn is, “We can’t just act out every desire we have.” And that lesson will need to be applied consistently until he is an adult able to say to himself, “I can’t just buy x because I want it” or, “I can’t punch my boss because I feel like it” or, a thousand other things.

Direct his responses. For a small child who is told his response is not acceptable, he needs to know which one is. If a child is whining/crying for his cup, you can simply correct him and tell him the proper way to ask. And older child who lashes out in frustration needs to hear what words and tone are a better substitute.

It’s time-consuming and tedious, as is most of parenting. But the outcome is well-worth the effort, and where the effort isn’t given, the consequences will follow a parent to his death as he deals with the aftermath of his failure to help his children govern themselves.

(Obviously, a disclaimer could be inserted here that sometimes a diligent parent will have a child who rejects the faithful work of his parents. But just like the Proverbs, generalities apply.)

Tell stories. Proverbs is full of vignettes depicting what happens to the one who doesn’t live responsibly or govern his emotions and actions. Take the opportunity to make the Proverbs come to life for your children, tying the stories to real life.

Conversely, look for stories that demonstrate heroic character of men and women who have chosen to govern themselves and live responsibly. Praise those traits and encourage your children to emulate them.

Model it. We can’t expect to raise self-governing children unless we practice it ourselves. (I know, ouch.) They will absorb the way we live life, so we need to remind ourselves to demonstrate taking responsibility for our actions, not blaming others, and finding gratitude wherever we are.

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Training Children: How to Mother More Patiently (Part 3)

Training Children How to Mother More Patiently

Almost every mom struggles with maintaining her patience while parenting, especially if she’s with her children all day. Whining, strife, or even a barrage of innocent questions, added to the list of things she must think about and get done, can be very distressing. Ask me how I know.

But not only is parenting without patience or having reactionary responses damaging over time, it also undermines our authority in the home.

Reading through the books I mentioned in part 2, 5 Keys to a Christian Home, I’m reminded of some important ways to counteract my tendency to react the wrong way.

  • Take my thoughts captive. Most of our behavior begins in the mind. I must keep my thoughts focused on my purpose as a mother–to nurture my children in the Lord. After my husband’s needs, they are my top priority.
  • Eliminate distractions. With our too-busy technologically charged atmosphere, it’s easy to get irritated at a little one who is “interrupting.” Certainly there are times we need to give our attention elsewhere and they must learn to wait, but if we’re snapping at a child because we’re trying to finish our facebook status, we need to realign our priorities.
  • Enforce obedience. Sound simple? I wish it were. Moms have the tedious job of balancing mercy and understanding with her not-there-yet children. Yet, she must enforce her authority in the home and teach them obedience by her responses instead of allowing them to argue and disobey unchecked. I believe this is the biggest source of irritation in most homes. I’ve noticed my tendency to grow impatient is worst when I fail to enforce the rules of our home, and instead try to “reason” with my children. When the rules are clear, as are the consequences for breaking them, we need to be diligent to follow through. Life gets so much easier when we do.

Example: I told my daughter her room needed to be swept (and it was really in need), but she replied that she had just swept it. I said it clearly needed to be swept again, regardless of when she last swept it and that if she had just swept it, she had not done a thorough job. She then “reasoned” that it didn’t matter because she didn’t spend much time in her room anyway. This conversation shouldn’t have gotten this far (and consequently, I became frustrated). I gave simple instructions: “sweep your room.” What followed was arguing and a temporary resistance to obey. A simple way to train this sort of response out is to apply a consequence at the first argument.

  • Make room for life. If our schedules are too busy, we will be tempted to stay in a state of rushing and consequently, irritation at every “problem.” Life with children is full of meeting needs and when we don’t make time for them, the needs feel like burdens. Motherhood is what God gives us time for.

And if you need more encouragement, there’s this: even though I wrote When Motherhood Feels Too Hard, I’m so thrilled to see how the Lord is consistently using it to change the hearts of mothers everywhere. Last week a woman bought 30 of them (with the bulk bundle discount) because she was so eager to share them with other women she knew.

This comment came yesterday:

“Your devotional has been a balm to my weary soul!! I cannot read it without tears and I cannot put it down! Every page brings an eternal perspective.” -Rainah

My deepest heart’s desire is to encourage you.

Part 1: Training Children: It Starts With Love (The Duties of Parents, J.C. Ryle)

Part 2: Training Children: 5 Keys to a Christian Home

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