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Obedience is a Two-Way Street

Originally Posted on the Whatever Girls

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

My children are now 21 and 23. We don’t have a whole lot of say about what they do but they still 1010340_10201155028385287_490074285_noften come to us for advice. When they were growing up and chose not to obey us, there were consequences for their disobedience. For the most part, they followed what we told them to do. However, there were times when they thought we were so mean because we would not let them do something. My daughter was so mad at me when she was about five years old that she put her hands on her hips and informed me that I could not play with her baby doll. Though the threat she made was scary, I held firm and followed through, not budging on what I had instructed.

My son told me to “shut up” when he was about three years old, and then threw a fit in his room when I moved him there for choosing to disobey me. Again I held firm, and he spent time in his room calming down. When he came out, he put his little arms around my neck and told me he was sorry. I hugged and kissed him and told him I loved him too.

I need to be honest. During this time, my husband and I were not always walking with God. When my son was in kindergarten, I began to feel that I needed God with me if I was going to do a decent job as a parent. After a very hard day with my son, I told him we would not go to the lake for my birthday. I had to follow through no matter how much it hurt me to stay home and not celebrate with my family. As the weekend slipped away and my family had cake without me, my heart felt the nudge of God. I knew I needed to go to church. During the church service the pastor said, “If you need to pray, the altar is open, so come forward and present your prayers to the Lord.” In a moment, I was there on my knees with water works flowing from my eyes.

As I asked God to show me how to be a better parent, I heard the sweet sound of my little boy’s voice. When I opened my eyes, there kneeling next to me was my son. His little hands were folded and he was asking God to show him how to be a better boy to his mom and help him mind. It was one of the most special moments of my life. There we knelt side by side, asking God to help us. I needed my son to mind me and he knew he needed to listen to both his parents. It was God that would help us do that.

Maybe I am going out on a limb here, but I would like to believe that all parents expect their children to obey them. I have never heard anyone say, “I am okay with my kids not doing what I tell them to do.” Today I want to step back a little and look at Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents” from the perspective of a child. If we, as parents, expect our children to obey us then what kind of message are we sending them when we choose to obey or not obey the commands of our Heavenly Father?

If it is pleasing to a parent when their child obeys them then how much more pleasing is it to God when we choose to obey Him? God gives us instructions, guidelines, rules, or whatever words you would like to call His commands, because He loves us. God is not a mean and domineering father. Just like we put rules in place to protect our children, God does the same for us. Our children learn by watching us. Are you setting a good example for your child in how you obey your Heavenly Father? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Do you pick and choose the commands you want to follow and ignore the ones you don’t like? “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) As a parent, would you be happy if your children picked only some of what you instructed them to do and then ignored the rest?

If you asked your children, “Do you see me as obedient to my Heavenly Father, God?” Would they answer “Yes” or tell you that you need to go to your room for a time-out and get it straight with Him?

That day when I knelt beside my son I began to see that not only do my children need to obey their father but I, too, need to obey my Heavenly Father. As parents, we need to lead by example.

 

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The change of a young man’s heart

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By Isaac Crandall

A simple story for the men out there; Kim had asked me if I could write a small MAN segment. I am honored to be a part of “Dirt, Trucks, and Faith”-seeing God through the eyes of young men.

My Background:

Growing up in a stricter Christian home I had always gone to church in my little suit and tie. When I got older I got more freedom from my parents to make the decision to go to church or not go. As a young boy I chose not to go to church.  I would rather have fun riding my dirt bike, watching movies, playing games and, etc. Sounds pretty normal so far right?

I kept my personal relationship with God although it was distant and I only kept him there when I needed something or if something bad was happening. I had never experienced God before. I had never really felt Him or seen Him.  Lastly, I had a small obsession with cars which leads into this story.

My story:

It started when I was kind of a careless, absentminded, 16 /17-year-old boy. I had just gotten my license and I was on my way back from Schweitzer 6630_490588280991527_77155941_nMountain Ski Resort. It had been an awesome day of skiing. I was amped up! I had landed a few 540’s and that was a big deal to me.  Being so amped up I figured what better thing to do than see how fast I could get home in my Honda Prelude that I had just finished rebuilding. I was on my way through Coeur d’Alene Idaho passing a few cars, driving a bit aggressive at 85 mph or so.  When I got to the straighter part of the freeway I decided to crack open the throttle a bit more. I passed under an overpass and all the sudden lights flipped on in the distance behind me. My mind was contemplating between running to the exit or pulling over and being responsible. The Lord led me to pull the car over.

As the officer came up to the window, I was shaking and almost crying. He said,  “Son do you know how fast you were going?”  “Umm, no I don’t?” I said.   He told me,  “I clocked you at around 106 mph”.  I was thinking I was lucky he didn’t catch me doing the actual speed I was doing. “Do you have any idea how much trouble you’re in?” he said.  In a quivering voice I answered “no”.

I gave him my license and registration and he said, “I will be back”.  Meanwhile, tears are coming down my face as I am thinking of how mad my parents were going to be.  Two more police cars show up so I have a three state troopers on my case.  At that point, I thought for sure I was going to jail for reckless driving.  I started praying and praying hard. I asked God to get me out of this predicament. The officer finally came back and said, “Do you know how many families and people’s lives you took in your hands tonight driving like a fool?  These roads are slick, it is dark out and, you are not an experienced driver.”

I had never thought of it in that prospective before……

The officer then said, “I get a vibe from you that your Dad is going to kick your butt when you get home because you are an honest kid and you will tell them what happened tonight.”  I said “yes sir you are correct”.  “It’s lucky you are still in Idaho” he told me. “Here is your speeding ticket now DRIVE UNDER THE SPEED LIMIT ALL THE WAY HOME TONIGHT”.  I said “yes sir” as I slowly started my way home.  I knew I was going to get a not so nice talk from my parents, be disciplined and, have my car taken away.

After the talk it was late. I snuck out to our field by our house, knelt down and starting praying to God as if He was a great friend I had let down. Before that night I had been driving a dangerous road very aggressively. I now see that night as God’s way of communicating to me that I needed to slow down and take a step back. I needed to look at my life and ask myself, “Am I driving too aggressive? 553483_4069941953155_1067940942_nWas I driving as the world would want me to drive?”  In my personal life I found the answer to those questions a few months later. I found that I need to be driving strong and steady for Him and for the benefit of others.  By this I mean do not  just sit at an idle……God wants us to put on some low profile “Y” rated tires and really grip His highway.

I asked for forgiveness that night and asked if He would start guiding my life in the direction He intends me to go.  I prayed for myself to take more time and initiative to consider other people’s lives instead of my own.  I had been being selfish. I prayed that He would help me grow into a man of God. A man He would be proud to call His son. I asked Him to help me understand that He is real and that He is all-powerful.

Keep in mind it was a cold night and I was freezing. After I sat in silence for a few minutes a warm comforting wind seemed to come around me and almost hug me. It was like a warm blanket filled with mercy and grace, letting me know that He is was there and He forgave me.  I can’t explain the feeling even to this day.  I broke down and started crying.  From my perspective, it was as if God was showing me that He still loved me after years of turning my back to Him.  I had chosen my highway rather than His and yet He still loved me.  The same is true for you. God1613857_10203743427092415_6056444948780037742_n loves you even if you have chosen your own highway for a time.  He loved me when I fell away and He loves you too. That experience has never left me till this day; God reaches us all at different times and in different ways. I think it is amazing the way he can take an experience that pertains to you as a specific person and make you realize certain things. He can help you on your specific path.

I love the way He loves me. I have to say, “Lord I am amazed by you”.

 

You can follow me on Facebook at Heartfelt ramblings of a midlife domestic goddess and on Twitter at @Mom4Godalways.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 7.01.52 PMI have some other great guys lined up to be guest writers in this series so I hope you check back.

 

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Clean your own closet

By Cassie of Cassie’s Corner

CassiesCornerButtonSo often we find ourselves as parents scolding our children for behavior that we see as wrong, unruly, or down right disobedient. Sadly, we discipline our children for simply being a child. I recently had a conversation with my daughter regarding her behavior and lack of respect. When I asked her why she kept acting out and would not listen to my directions to clean her room she answered soundly, “Daddy doesn’t put his laundry downstairs. Daddy doesn’t put his shoes away.” And on she went with a ‘laundry’ list of behaviors my husband and I do that we should not do, things we say that we should not say, it was a brutal list of our behaviors as parents that were rubbing off on our children. I listened to her speak and I silently wept as I realized that I had become a ‘Do as I say, not as I do” type of parent.

Some would say that as a child, my “sweet-face” should not be allowed to tell us Mt St Helens(her parents) how to act or what we are doing wrong. They are welcome to their opinion as we are welcome to parent our children as we see fit. In our home our children are free to communicate whatever they are feeling as long as they do so with respect and at the appropriate time. Our daughter was holding up a mirror and revealing to us how her and her younger brother view my husband and I as parents, as examples.

Proverbs 22:6(NIV), “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

All I could think about as I listened was the above verse. I kept asking myself what kind of legacy am I teaching my children. I wondered, how do my children view their father? I wondered how our son and daughter viewed God, if we were a reflection of His love for them while on earth. My heart broke. An innocent conversation about being good stewards of what God has blessed us with (clothes, toys, beds, a home), turned into a self-reflection that was seriously ugly.

Thankfully, our children forgave us for being poor examples in some areas and thanked us for being great parents in others. We asked them for forgiveness and they asked us to forgive them. We prayed as a family and asked God to look at our hearts, to search us and to know us and to reveal himself to us. The night ended with us listening to worship music and being grateful for open communication.

Once the children were asleep my husband, Geoff, and I processed the conversation and how it made each of us feel. I reminded him that the whole thing started over a mandated instruction for our 8-year-old to clean up her closet and put her clothing where it belonged. Then, I said, “As parents, we need to clean out our own closets before we reprimand our children. I was referring to examining our own behavior before we react to our children living as we have shown them. As parents, self-reflection is always a good thing. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s down right nasty. We were both very sad and pondering how we had allowed ourselves to be so consumed with life that we had forgotten our most precious positions; living as children of God and being parents to our most priceless gifts from our father above.

I laid in bed that night asking God to make me the kind of mother that my children could be proud of. The kind of mother that they would want to have at school and around their friends. I asked him to open my eyes to areas in my life that need Him the most and to start a work in me that would filter into my children and their children after them. He is so very faithful to answer our prayers.

Exodus 20:6(NIV), “but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Gram H Legacy 2My hope is that every person that reads this article will stop and think about the example they are to the next generation(s). Parents or not, we are all examples to someone. What type of LEGACY do you want to leave?

 

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The dating tightrope, finding balance

Written originally for “The Whatevergirls”

Part 2: Today, I want to take a look at the guidelines my husband and I set in place as we tried to find the right balance on the dating tight rope.

We feel the guidelines we set are extremely important.  To have no guidelines, to not care how dating looks, or no set age when you think it is the right time to date, would be like saying to your kids: “I don’t care how fast you ride the motorcycle,” and: “it is your choice to wear the helmet or not.” That kind of attitude towards dating is setting your child up for hurt.  On the flip side of that, I have watched a few families that have said no to dating, no to attending a dance, no to even going to a movie with a group of boys and girls; the outcome of that was not good either.  The NO, NO, NO from the parents led to the SNEAK, SNEAK, SNEAK of the kids.  I have witnessed more than one family lay down some of the tightest rules–as far as the opposite sex goes–and allow no dialog about it with their kids.  Sadly, in some cases, it has led to everyone but the parents being aware that their child is being anything but pure.  The kids have chosen the proverbial “back seat of the car,” while the parents have assumed their guidance of one big “NO” about the opposite sex is good enough.

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Our son and his girlfriend

My husband and I knew we needed to find the right balance to walk the dating tight rope in our home.  Again, I want to stress that this is what worked for our family, it may not work for yours.  Also, I cannot say that we did not have any near falls while walking this out. We saw that our kids were more likely to want to hang out at our home if we allowed them to have a relationship with healthy guidelines. When they hung out at our house, with us there, we got to be like the parents in the other room while the baby enjoys freedom in the crib–like I talked about in my first post, “taking the first step”. I guess you could say we found taking the middle ground between “no rules on dating,“ and “no dating at all,” to be where we landed.

The guidelines we set for our children when it came to dating, were like the pole that a tightrope walker uses for balance. If we let the guidelines lean too far one way or the other, it would be sure to knock our kids off the rope. The guidelines applied in all situations. We also were very clear on explaining the rules (guidelines) to any of our kid’s friends who came into our home. What we found was that kids like to know what the guidelines are, and they were happy not having to sneak around.

The guidelines:

  • If you want to hang out at our house with the opposite sex there must be a parent home.  The same goes for you hanging out at their home.
  • The bedrooms are off-limits!
  • If you are watching a movie, there is no reason to be in a completely dark room; have at least one light on.
  • If you get cold, turn the fireplace on; if you want a blanket, we have plenty of them so you can each use your OWN.
  • If you want to have a group of kids over for a pool party or movies, that is fine but we will be calling the parents to tell them that we are going to be here and they are welcome to come and hang out if they want.  We had many nights enjoying a glass of wine and visiting with parents while the basement was full of kids watching a movie.  We laughed as each parent randomly took a turn walking into the basement to make sure that no one was getting too comfortable.  Not only our kids, but other kids asked us more than once to have more nights like that.
  • If you are going out on a date, the only time you need to be hanging out alone in the car is while driving some place.  If you have nothing to do but sit in the car alone, get to our house or call it a night!
  • We are going to check with the parents of whatever house you are going to, and if you don’t like it you can stay home.

Affection:

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Our daughter and her boyfriend

We know you like each other.  We know you want to hold hands, snuggle and kiss.  We would much rather have you show affection in front of us, because the alternative is that you go somewhere alone to show affection and that can lead to things going too far.  Please be comfortable in front of us.  We were young once too, and we show our affection holding hands with a peck on the lips or cheek in front of you, because it is okay to have those feelings.  But keep it at that.  Don’t be alone, and do not take it farther than that simple affection.  To let things go beyond that will leave you with the regret of having to tell your spouse some day.

To our son: If you are going to date, you better respect the girl because she is Jesus’ princess; you better treat her in the same way you would want your sister treated. Also, you will not date a girl without speaking to her father first and looking him in the eye like a man.  That goes for something as simple as asking a girl to a dance.  You go to her father, or if she only has a mother then her mother first, before asking.  We also like our son to be aware of just how much that father loves his daughter, and that he would not only answer to us, but he would answer to her father if he disrespected her.  (Knowing that the father owned guns always added to helping get our point across and gave us something to laugh about behind closed doors).

To our daughter: If you want to go to a dance with a boy, he will come and ask your father so that your father may have the joy of making him sweat and tremble in fear.  If some boy wants to date you, he will look your father in the eye like a man when he asks.  He will understand that you are to be treated with respect, period.  We are letting him date Jesus’ princess, and if he thinks answering to your father and older brother is scary, then just think about trying to explain his intentions to Jesus.  It also helped when the young man asking to date knew that we owned guns as well.

My husband and I felt it was our responsibility to help our children avoid the same mistakes we made.  By setting these clear guidelines, we were taking our first steps to help our children walk the dating tightrope with more success than we had.  All those guidelines set in place were good, but we also had to trust that we had given our children a firm foundation to stand on, and that they would have the strength to resist temptation.  We pray that they will not make the same mistakes we made when we were young. As I said, our guidelines were like the pole the tightrope walker uses to stay on the rope, but remember even the best tightrope walker falls at times.  We had to trust that when our kids were without us and out on a date, and if they did fall into temptation, God would catch them in His safety net.

With the guidelines in place, the next step across the tightrope was having some deep talks with our kids about our expectations for them.  In my next post, I want to look at the importance of prayer and the different approaches we needed to take with our son, as opposed to our daughter.  Please remember I do not have all the answers and every step across the dating tight rope has been a cautious step for us.  I hope you are finding some answers to help cross the rope with your own kids.  Have a blessed day, and I hope you will join me in my next post.

If you missed my first post in this series, you can back up and read it at “Taking the first step”

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