God has poured His love into my life through His Son, and hopefully through this blog, I can share some of that love with you. I'm a Christian, wife, stay-at-home-mom, writer, runner...I love the water....and I live to laugh..LOUD.
Happy reading, friends!
"Be joyful always." 1Thes. 5:16
“Why does it have always have to be like this?” whined my eight-year-old daughter. Both of my daughters react the same way to each act of differential sibling discipline, unfair choice made, or anything else that pops up on the elementary-aged “no-fair” radar.
We’ve all been on the other end of a question that we have absolutely no idea how we’re supposed to answer, let alone on a kid-appropriate level. Or, caught ourselves dead in our tracks over-explaining our reasoning to the children we are in charge of. Spiritual preparedness is the only key to responding to the wacky, weary, and out-of-bound inquiries pint-sized people ask.
I’ve often felt privy to share my abundance of knowledge on a subject in question, especially to the audience of my own children, only to realize as it left my lips that the message was probably for me. I’ll then regret not examining my own thoughts before I let them escape into thin, unprepared, air.
A little time to think allows us to craft the answer our children are after. (And let’s be honest; sometimes we need space to take a breath while rational thought is restored.) A bit of time may be all you need.
Why do we let waves of fear swamp our lives, instead of dropping to our knees in prayer? Why does anxiety continue to crush us, when all we have to do is look up? Jesus has already cleared a path for us to talk to God, but we often continue to struggle within our own minds for solutions to life’s problems. Weave prayer into the natural inclination to solve problems by surrendering what ails us to our God. He promises to hear us, defend us, and loves us… through it all. It’s that simple.
1. Open yourself up to worship with music.
“Let them sing joyful praises forever.” (Psalm 5:11)
Because of Jesus’ victory, we can sing praise at all times. Prayer doesn’t have to be hard. Sometimes, it starts with a song. Music can quickly take over the melody of our hearts and the frame of our minds. Listen to the Christian station or singing a favorite old church hymn or song. God works through those melodies to connect us to Him. Music has always been a way to express emotion we cannot put into words, and it’s an excellent way to reflect in prayer.
This verse was part of the frantic realization that Jesus had risen from the dead. In remembering the instructions they were given, their minds and hearts must have been flooded with the statements Jesus had uttered as they walk alongside Him during His ministry on this earth. Looking back to remember, they began to see Him more clearly.
The homework problem that stumps them… the toy they don’t want to share… the practice they don’t feel like attending… the commitment they don’t want to honor… the sibling they want to smack… Preparing our hearts daily with the truth of God’s Word enables us to breathe through our kids’ meltdowns and apply the discipline they need to grow into God’s calling on their lives.
He doesn’t say, “only if you agree…” or “when you feel like it…” or even “if your parents are right.” After dealing with the Israelites in the desert for 40 years, no one knows the frustration of discipling their children as well as God. He wants what’s best for us, and He’s given us His Word to help us. Here are more distinct actions to prevent your child from running wild.
1. Tell them “no” and tell them why.
“Take 20 buttons out of your jar,” I tell my kids all week long. I’ve instilled a system that allows me a break from being the “no” monster all of the time. When their jars are full, my children are allowed to cash them in for a small prize. But losing their buttons helps children see a concrete ramification of their choices. Whether kids are told they can’t have it their way, break a rule, or are on a losing team, accepting the consequence is a necessary humbling.
When I’m tempted to wallow in the “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” soundtrack of a suffered season …Psalms. Because the first thing I don’t feel like doing when I’m sad, angry or anxious isn’t what these profound words of wisdom instruct me to do. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD,” Psalm 92:1 says, “to sing praises to the Most High.” (NLT)
Flipping through a rolodex of the last month’s gut punches, I don’t want to sing. I’m thankful for the obligatory things …my home, health, family, talents, children, friends and God’s provision. There’s nothing earth shattering falling out of the bottom of my life. But occasionally a million little aggravations collide into a big burst of soul-stripping tears. Still, Psalm 7:17 instructs: “I will thank the LORD because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” (NLT)
“After Jesus was baptized by John,” a pastor at our church faithfully reminded me the day I was baptized, “Jesus was tempted in the desert for forty days.”
“Crap,” was my first thought. CRAP. Over the next few weeks I started to feel like Psalm 3:7 …“Arise, O LORD! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!” (NLT)
And then God asked me if I was willing to put reconciliation in His hands. Not just any reconciliation. One that had already rocked me, and my entire family, to the core. My answer was a resounding, “NO.” I didn’t want to. I’m down with heartfelt apologies. Reach as far back as you want to, God. And forgiveness? Forgiveness is a given. No apology needed. I got that memo. It’s an automatic process every Christian is wise to begin immediately after any hurt or heartbreak to prevent the root of bitterness from having babies all over our souls.
But reconciliation? Nope. No. There are some people we can love from a far and leave behind the lines of our boundaries …right? RIGHT? No. Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.” NLT
God is the one protecting and providing refuge. So, if He says we are free to come out of hiding, we should. If He prompts us to reach out one more time in an effort to build a bridge, we should obediently take the chance. What’s the worst thing that could happen when the best thing that could happen is peace?
Let’s just say …the worst thing happened. I opened up a wound that hurt worse than before. It leveled me. It surely made me ask “why …” a lot. But I kept reading through the Psalms …because coincidentally the devotional app I faithfully open every day has been in that book. (not a coincidence.) I kept praising God, through thick and heavy tears. He’s right, of course, but let’s face it …some moments make us doubt ourselves, everyone around us, all the decisions we’ve made, and the faith we stand on. Cry it all out. He can handle it.
As we continue to breathe air He will pull things out of the thin of it for us to give to Him. Not everything we go through in life is all about us. We’re called to leave the door wide open for reconciliation while God works on all of the hearts. If it’s possible …we want it. It’s OK to leave our boundaries in the protective hands of our Defender. God doesn’t owe us an explanation for our obedience. He just says, “obey.” Trust and obey.
We have to let go, so we can receive all He has for us. All we can’t see, doesn’t make sense, and makes it hard to leap in faith when He asks us to stretch past our flexibility. He knows what we need in breaking moments. Life is hard, and God knows it. He is our good Father, and so waits for us to open His book and fall into His capable arms. Every time, He will pick us up, stretch us out, and set us back on the path He’s prepared for us. He promises. And He’s good for it. Don’t let fear rob freedom.
It’s much easier to tell our children to say their prayers than to guide them through the process. Praying out loud is a bold expression of faith. Though many of us feel comfortable praying out loud in a group, it’s hard for others to muster the courage to verbalize prayer even to our own children.
Even when we are brave enough, we often let the opportunity to pray with our kids pass by in the rush of the day’s routine. Carving out time to pray with our children blazes a trail for them to cope with life the way God created us to – in conversation with Him.
Deuteronomy 11:20 tell us to “Teach these things to your children. Talk about them when you’re sitting together in your home and when you’re walking together down the road. Make them the last thing you talk about before you go to bed and the first thing you talk about the next morning.” When it seems daunting to break down faith to our children, let us pray to the Lord for strength to pass down His truth in prayer with the little lives He’s entrusted us with on this earth.