Ohhhhhh this old world...this decrepit sinful old world. You still contain so much beauty but the sorrow and misery, the pain and tears that go along with you sometimes feels like too much to bear. One day you will be gone and in your place will be a beautiful perfect version of you. He will wipe every tear from our eyes.
I am looking forward to that day...especially on days like today. My heart hurts and is weighed down...not for me but for the pain I hear about.
After the last post if you think all is rosy at our house always...let me shatter your delusions. It's not so. We, as parents, are very strict and require much of our children. We fail and have agonizingly frustrating days as a result. But our plumb line is that we believe the Bible. And with that we believe that the Bible sets out some pretty high standards for kids and for parents to follow.
Proverbs 29:17 says, "Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart." and Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." and Proverbs 13:24 "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" tell me 3 things: 1) Children are to be a delight...and if they are not being a delight something needs to be done so that they are. It's pretty easy in a situation to decide if they are being a "delight"...just ask yourself "is he/she being delightful right now?...you know the answer. 2) They need training in how to be a delight. 3) There is a big difference between punishment and discipline (one is correcting a wrong and the other is training) *** on a side note: and NO i am not advocating beating your children. There, again, is a vast difference between discipline and abuse of authority when you allow yourself to lose your temper and take it out on a child. When Shaun and I actually sat down and looked at the Bible as our handbook for parenting we were a bit shocked at how much it had to say. So we pray for wisdom for each child and proceed with caution and tenacity. There are also many good books...one I highly recommend is "Shepherding Your Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp.
Proverbs 19:18 says, "Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death." We have all seen undisciplined kids. If you follow it through to the end of the story...if they are never taught discipline they live undisciplined lives. Undisciplined lives most often leads to wrecked sad lives.
And Moms my biggest advice to you (since you asked :-D) is to LET your husband be a father. Don't step in an interfere with "oh she's just tired" oh "You haven't been here all day. You don't know or understand what is going on." God created dads with a completely different skill set than us mommies. We are the ones who know when our kids are dry and empty. But dads can spot resistance and rebellion a mile away while we mommies need to be smacked in the face with it a few times. Men are conqueror oriented. They are brilliant in sensing opposition in an opponent...and their children. We do our kids no favours by stepping in (again we are talking about healthy stable homes here...not abusive ones). They simply learn to look around daddy and ignore the vital lessons he has to teach them b/c mommy with save them. Not only do they succeed in dividing and conquering their parents but nothing is more emasculating for a father and husband and nothing more detrimental for your marriage and more defeating, in the long run, for your kids. And then on the tail end of that mommies...when Daddy has disciplined let daddy comfort his child. Don't let them run to mommy and be comforted and then look at daddy with that victory look that says it all, "HA! I got my way in the end!"...that basically erases whatever daddy has just done...And Moms while Dads do things differently, like comforting, it doesn't mean they do it wrong. It means they do it differently and God did give your children 2 parents with different skill sets for a very specific reason...they need the differences. So viva la difference!
I could keep going...
Actually there is no point to all of this if there is not an ultimate purpose. Hebrews 12:5-11 is the longest passage in the Bible about discipline.
"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son,do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure.God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good,that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
*The other day I put the girls down for a nap as they have had some late nights and have been a little under the weather. They had been up there for about an hour, and hadn't slept yet, when I heard this sobbing. Went upstairs after a minute to see what it was about. Upon peeking into their room I saw Mercedes leaning back against the wall in a sitting position with Portia's head on her lap. Mercedes was stroking her hair and talking softly to her. Portia was sobbing her little heart out and saying, "I just waaaant to be fooooouuuuuuuuuurrrrrrr." Over and over...and then....,"I don't want to be an adult" and I don't want any more birthdays...I just want to be foooooooooooouuurrrr"...she was wailing and sobbing like her heart was breaking. Mercedes was saying, "But you are four Portia. It's OK." Which brought on another round of the same. I took over at that point and just held her and and said "OK you can be four". (b/c anything else I said just brought on fresh sobs). I still have no idea what brought this on. It came on the heels of a very frustrating, busy, and exhausting week for Shaun and I. Once she calmed down to just hiccup crying she said that while she did not want the birthday parties and she still wanted to have the presents and she wanted Mercedes to still have parties.
*Mercedes learned how to ride a two wheeler on our 11th wedding anniversary. She had been practicing in our backyard for about a week all on her own on a little bike...basically getting her balance. So on this past Saturday we were finally able to have the bike great bike that was given to us fixed up and go to a big field near our house to "teach her" how to ride. When we got there Shaun was all prepaired to run alongside her and help her. She said, "No don't help me. I will do it." Shaun gave her one instruction to start on a bit of a hill. She got on her bike and pedaled away. No help! HA! She did it all by herself and she had it! Not one fall. That's Mercedes. She studies things carefully for awhile and then she executes it pretty much perfectly. It was pretty fun and amazing to watch.
*Shaun was cracking up the other day while loading up the car to go somewhere. Portia was chattering away and using words like "Apparently". Shaun had asked her a question and that was her answer. Not yes or no...but "Apparently!". It's quite a big word for a four year old and when said by said four year old is VERY CUTE!
I was pondering both the girls last night. Mercedes is a gem of a child. She has her moments of course but she pretty much is a very obedient, patient, helpful, responsible, thoughtful, good humoured, and sweet girl. There are many more wonderful adjectives I could use to describe her. At 6 she's just a delight! She is exploring her world and it's so much fun to watch her. She is growing so quickly. She pretty much stands as tall as my shoulder. She has lost one tooth and another one is on the way out. She is very tidy and organized and if you ask her to do a task 99% of the time you can count on her to complete it in a timely manner with excellence. She loves to be outdoors. She has a lot of energy. She could hike without tiring for hours. In fact her Papa is planning on making her his hiking buddy when she's just a little older. She is a born teacher. She has taught her sister so many things from grammar to etiquette.
Portia is a gem of a child as well but in completely different ways. She is hilarious, wherever she goes she brings joy, very creative, good humoured, sweet, She is pretty much the antithesis of her sister in how she goes things. Here is what I mean: she is very artsy, more random, she is very capable of organization but she goes about it in a more scattered creative way. But the finished product, if given enough time, is done with excellence and creativity. She enjoys the process. She is not competitive. Whenever Mercedes has done something or learned something (i.e. got her ears pierced or learned to ride a two wheeler) we have asked Portia if she would like to do the same and she says something like along the lines of "No I'm good." In fact the other day when Mercedes had ridden her 2 wheeler for the first time...upon being asked if she would like to do the same she said "No I am practicing piano right now. I need to celebrate that." She is really good at letting Mercedes celebrate and have her moments...which is important to Mercedes. At 4 she is a delight.
Both girls are amazing playmates to each other. As sister I am constantly amazed by their deep love and affection for each other. They pretty much get along...although I do have to say that the rule in the house is "If you do not get along you do not play. You sit on your bed until you decide you are willing to play sweetly." They have sat on their bed for, probably what adds up to, several hours. Each time they don't get along the time gets longer (escalating consequences and all) They have done the math and decided it's better to get along.
Anyway, I am thankful for these 2 precious treasures that God has entrusted into Shaun and my care. They are amazing girls. And we are having fun!
There is a reason why the Bible says that "the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12, 13). I was reading today in 2 Timothy. This is a letter that Paul wrote to a guy who was a son to him while Paul was waiting for his execution by Nero. These words were some of his last before he died. So as you can imagine they were clear and to the point. They mattered. Here are some of the words that stood out so far. "For the Spirit that God gave us is no craven (or cowardly) spirit, but one to inspire strength, love, and self-discipline." (1:7) "I am suffering, bound in chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound." (1:9) "Share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops." (2: 3-6) It's not easy street. Make no mistake about that. "If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, he also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful - for He cannot deny Himself" (2:12, 13) "God's firm foundation stands bearing this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His' and 'Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity'." (2:19
It's only by mining the word of God for yourself that you will recover gems beyond price for your life.
This morning I listened to a sermon about Revelation....about Revelation 19 specifically. Mark Driscoll was the teacher. I HIGHLY recommend it. It's about an hour. It's the 9th in this particular series of 10. If you want a vivid picture of what Jesus looks like now...tattooed, robe dipped in blood... (as opposed to the Richard Simmons/hippy pacifist we seem to picture Him as) take a listen. This is the kind of God I can worship. If you want to know what the Bible says about the end of time and what's gonna happen. Take a listen. This sermon about sums it up for me. http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/revelation/revelation-1-the-revelation-of-jesus-christ P.S. SOMEBODY has got to get a better picture that depicts this more accurately. No more hippy Jesus.
Lately we have been having some interesting time with finances. Shaun got laid off from his job. It always takes awhile to get a business back up and running. He has been working very hard at doing that but still...in the lapse of time it's been hard. Before, when we've gone through this sort of thing we've altered our whole world out of panic. I have had sleepless nights with with stress in the past. Shaun and I have spent hours talking about solutions. When the reality was we just needed to stay put and keep pushing ahead with life as is. I think we have finally learned. What has really been ringing loud and clear for me this time around is that God and God alone is my provider. He provides me with everything down to my every breath. Hebrews 1:3 says that "He upholds the universe by the word of His power". WOW. Philippians 4:19 says that He is our provider. Luke 6:38 says if you give you will receive pressed down , shaken together and running over. We use the word Karma and think we have a new modern concept. It's actually a Biblical one...on a rabbit trail. I find it rather humorous when other religions or belief systems take what God said long ago and claim it as their original thought. OK off the rabbit trail. Ephesians 3:20 says He can do more than we can think or ask. Hebrews 13:8 says, "He is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Isaiah 40:27-31 says, "Why do you say...'My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God'? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." I could go on and on and on and on... I have been thinking about some other things along this line. I have been thinking about the blessings that have been poured out on my life. So much so that I often cannot contain them. In North America we think "blessings" equals money. That if we don't have money then we are not "blessed". How twisted is that? I mean really! As I go through my Bible some of the most blessed people certainly did not have a nice comfy cozy life. And perspective here is essential...comparatively to the rest of the world we are so rich it's confounding...no matter how poor we are by our North American standard. I also know our choices impact us. For me to be a stay at home mom where we live...it costs us in the money department BIG time. But it's that important to us. We put a HUGE emphasis on family time and Shaun not working long extreme hours so he can be around and a very active dad. The money is just not that worth it to us if it means Shaun is never around. So there are consequences for the way we've chosen to live (as well as huge rewards). I am not discounting that. In these times that try the soul, as it were, I see character woven into my life. I see myself more on my knees and more dependent on my Creator and looking less at the creation to satisfy me. I also can look back on the road that I have already traveled and see that God and I we've been here before and that last time we were here He was faithful and I know I can put my trust in Him again because He IS trust not just trustworthy. And in that I can rest. "He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." It all comes down to this, Do I really believe that God is my provider? And am I going to live like it? Shaun and I are learning that for us the answers to those questions are "yes". And you know yet again God has proved faithful! We have not gone without...we have gone with less but not without. We have found that we have been in a position to be humbled and receive grace and blessing from others...a hard place to be but not a bad place. It's been a good thing...