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Childlike Faith

Do your kids take what you say literally? Ours have and we’ve had some great laughs over the years because of Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.34.03 PMit. Sometimes it was their limited understanding of who God was that brought us the best moments of laughter and some very important lessons. Our children are adults now and those lessons and the laughter they brought us will stay with us forever.

While flying with our very young children, we had one of the best laughs about God. My husband and son were sitting one row up and across the aisle from my daughter and me. To their right and directly in front of me was a priest. When our son was little, we tried to explain to him who God was, to the best of our ability. This was a few years before we really came to know God.

As the plane was taking off, my son very loudly said, “Dad, you told me that God was above the clouds so how come I can’t see Him?” I watched the priest in front of me shake with laughter. I was laughing along with him. My son had heard us say that God was in heaven. He asked where heaven was and we said, “up in the sky.” My little boy had held that piece of knowledge in his head and he was sure he was going to see God because the plane was now in the sky.

Let’s back up. I said that sometimes our kids’ limited understanding of who God is can bring us the best laughs. That is true but maybe their understanding of God is not really limited. Maybe it is our understanding that is limited.

My son believed there was a God. He believed God was in the sky because that is where we told him heaven was. He took what he knew to be true and believed it with his whole heart. He had faith and he expected to see God.

Shouldn’t we all have that kind of faith to expect to see the hand of God or at least feel God in every situation? Shouldn’t we have the kind of faith to believe that God is there even if we can’t see Him? Our son had never seen God but he knew He was there and he expected to see Him. He had childlike or uninhibited faith that had not been clouded by the world.

We had to explain to our little guy that even though we can’t see heaven with our eyes that it is still real. And even though he could not see God out the window of the plane, God was always with us.

As the years passed, our son still believed that to be true. One day he found himself in a spot where he had to overcome a fear. He pressed into God with that childlike, uninhibited faith. My husband cried as he told me the story of watching our son overcoming his fear on the ropes course by saying and believing, “All things are possible with Him.” He could not see God but he EXPECTED that God would hear him and he EXPECTED that God would be with him as he did the course. That day our son finished that ropes course knowing that God was helping him.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.30.25 PMI think as adults it is so easy to forget what childlike faith is and our prayers become limited to what we know to be true in the here and now. We forget to really “expect God to be God.” I think that children have a much clearer view of who God really is and I want to encourage you to take a look at God through the eyes of a child.   We should all want to have childlike, uninhibited faith that has not been clouded by this world.

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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.

 

Check out Whatever Girls Live 2015, Mother/Daughter conference 

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Raising Spock

Guest post by Courtney Snailum of the “Passionate Pen”

Two weeks before Christmas, my 9-year-old son asks me, “Mom, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure”, I replied.

“Well,” he began, wringing his hands together and looking down at the floor, “I just wanted to say that at 6:00 am in the dark, I went into your room with the night vision goggles to look at my presents.”

“Oh,” I said, encouraged by his confession. “And how do you feel about that decision now?”

“Well, pretty sad, because they weren’t bright enough and I couldn’t see my presents.”

“Hmmmm, I see. And is not being able to see your presents the only thing you feel bad about?”

“Yep!”10322777_10203703873578610_1280731750506954340_n

Being a parent isn’t easy for anyone. I respect the challenges and situations that every mom and dad have to face when it comes to God’s highest calling, and I would never assume that our difficulties are any more trying than anyone else’s, they’re just different.

Our son, Samuel, has High Functioning Autism (or Aspergers) and parenting him comes with its own set of rules, most of which, we’re still learning.   But much more important than discovering our son’s practical parenting needs has been the lessons that God has taught my heart along the way. It’s learning how, not only to allow God to interrupt our plans, but coming to fall in love with those interruptions.

“’For I know the plans I have for you’ Declares the Lord” – Jeremiah 29:11

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” – Proverbs 16:9

This journey hasn’t been easy, and it’s never going to be easy. Truth be told, there are many days where I just don’t know if we’re going to make it, and all I have left in me to do is cry out to the Lord for help. But trusting the Lord means allowing Him to write our story, even when we think we could have made the plot better, or we don’t see how He is going to tie it all together.

Holding my baby son, I had already written his story according to my desires: Straight A student, football, college, marriage, and grand babies. But God is the sovereign writer. He directs our steps in spite of what we think is best, then creates a masterpiece that is so much more beautiful than anything we could have come up with on our own.

The days of frustration may sometimes outnumber the days of joy, but they definitely don’t outweigh them. As difficult as Aspergers can be, there is also great wonder in discovering the world through Samuel’s eyes.

We have jokingly come to refer to him as Mr. Spock since he views everything through a literal lens, which has also made him a master loop-hole finder. This has caused us really raise the bar with our communication. Not just with Samuel, but with all of our children as a result. He has a gift of memorization and music that takes my breath away, and is always creating outside of the box.

Next year, we will be embarking on the adventure of homeschooling Samuel after having a very difficult time in public school. This decision started out of necessity, as the classroom is no longer a healthy environment for him, but the more I prayed about it, the more I began to see all of the amazing doors that this move is going to open up to him. We’ll be integrating occupational therapy techniques into the curriculum and will have every opportunity in the world to build and develop him in his unique areas of gifting.

And the best part is, we’re not going at it alone.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s true. I believe it takes a Church family to raise a child with Aspergers, and we are so blessed to have ours. This is a group of people who have come around my husband and I and prayed with us, supported us, and occasionally taken our children when I just needed to take a walk and gather myself.

1017754_10203643551950607_947508421581739680_nA few weeks ago, Samuel received his first award at the school and we were so blessed to see such a large group from our church show up to cheer him on as the principal called his name.

I don’t know why God chose us to raise Samuel, but I am so thankful. He has an incredible plan for his life and we’re humbled to be given this responsibility. It takes a reliance on the Lord’s strength and careful listening to His voice to know how to tackle each and every challenge, but He has been faithful to give us everything we need to help our son, in the words of Spock, “live long and prosper”.

To read more about Courtney go to the Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom.  I was honored to write about her in one of my first episodes of that series.  Blessings 🙂

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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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What is important to you is important to your Father in heaven

On day while I was standing in the kitchen at our family cabin, washing dishes like a good midlife domestic goddess. I looked out the window and I could see my two nephews sitting at the picnic table playing with their hot-wheel cars.   They were both very intent on what they were doing and it made me smile to see them play with their cars.  As I stood there and doing the dishes my brother walked out and sat down at the table with them to partake in the hot wheel driving around the table.

I stood there with my heart overflowing with joy as I watched my brother interact with his sons. My brother is a great dad and what is important to his sons is important to him. There were so many other things at that moment that could be done but my brother saw his boys doing something that they enjoyed and he chose to take part in it. It was hard to tell who was getting more joy out of driving the cars; the boys seemed so happy to have their Dad join them and my brother seemed blessed to spend time with his sons.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Standing there and watching them and it hit me that God wants to be a part of everything we do. We have a heavenly father who wants to be a part of our lives. What is important to us is important to him.  One of my favorite things is to get in a work out and I love to invite God to join me in my worship music and in my prayer time as I take a walk or a jog. When we allow God to join in our daily activities the blessing is a two-way street. We are blessed by the father’s presence and he delights in spending time with us.

Just like my brother who is full of love for his boys, God is full of love for us. He longs to be in our day-to-day life, to enjoy our highs and to carry us through our lows.  No matter what it is, our Father in heaven who wants to join us in everything we do.

 

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