10/31/14

Heavenly Mothering Will Change Your Life




Heavenly Mothering. It has been my purpose in these 31 posts to throw out some ideas about what it means, and maybe a lot of these posts imply more work to you as the mother of all these heavenly blessings.

 Watching out for our kids, praying for our kids, letting them do art projects, all of these things require us to put down our phones or shut off our own shows so that we can be interested and engaged in what our children are doing.

              

So, what is in it for us? Why should we give up so much of our lives to raise these people? Psalm 127:3 says that "Children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." 
So I guess the first reason why we should be intentional about parenting is because our children are our treasures. They are our inheritance. They are a gift. There are many people who want children and either can't have them or who suffer through other difficult processes to have children.

This is important to remember the next time you are weary. Your children, although at times messy and even annoying, are a gift.

               

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" 3 John 1:4
The second reason to be intentional about parenting your children is that they are the first disciples of your marriage. You and your husband as one flesh, are given a mandate from God about raising up disciples, things like "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all men." (Mark 16:15) 

Who better to begin with than our own children? If we as parents are enthusiastic about God and about our children, our children will catch on to the same enthusiasm. They will believe that Jesus Christ is a friend worth having, and they will believe that they are people worth knowing.


           

The last reason to be intentional is because it is fun! I know that changing poopy diapers and cleaning up throw up is not that fun, but how about painting with your kids, or experiencing a baby's joy when encountering the beach for the first time. How about having teenagers who you really enjoy talking to? Or young adults who are your best friends? 

The effort that you put into mothering your children will pay off. There may be bumps in the road, and we have no guaranteed outcome, However, when you show your children that they are important to you, and you take the time to understand and enjoy them, there will be rewards. If not in closer relationships and more fun as a family, then in heaven where we are storing up spiritual treasure.

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10/30/14

Heavenly Mothers are Watchful-Day 30




"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" Ephesians 6:18

I spent the early years of my life on a lovely farm in Canada. We five children were free to roam the surrounding fields and woods, and we concocted many wonderful games, everything from constructing a kitty city, which sadly the kittens never seemed to want to live in, to building homes out of hay bales (my adult mind can't figure out how a bunch of kids moved hay bales around to become a house, but I am sure we did it.)


One event marred this idyllic childhood, and sadly it is the same thing that happens to approximately 1 in 10 children.
                                                                                                                                      

When something like this happens to a child, the effects are numerous, it is easy to find statistic after statistic of the trauma that it causes to children, trauma that often carries into adulthood.
Much of the fear that this event caused me has dissolved in the light of Christ's love and grace, but because I know how traumatic this kind of violation is to a child, I am watchful over my own children. 

Part of this watchfulness simply involves praying for their safety and protection. 

Another part of it is following wise guidelines of who I leave my children with, especially those who are too young to safely express themselves or not confident enough to get out of a dangerous situation.

Part of this watchfulness involves using a buddy system.

Part of it is instructing children while they are young about how to protect themselves. 

This is an area of information that I would really like to stay out of. It is dark and painful, even reading about recent events in this area is uncomfortable. Hence, my writing this whole post in, as Megamind would put it, "Code, this is an ugly topic, code."

However, it is an important part of heavenly mothering. Helping your children reach adulthood without the mental scars of having their innocence stolen is very important.

God is good. In my case, before the perpetrator had gone very far, a door clicked and the incident was interrupted. Even with the interruption, I was traumatized, but God protected me from a worse outcome and has been healing the scars ever since. 

Life involves trauma sometimes and we may not be able to avoid all of it, but being aware and watchful of who our children are with, and praying for their safety and protection is an essential part of being a mother.

10/29/14

Heavenly Mothers are Armed and Dangerous-Day 29


"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" Ephesians 6:17

The sword of the spirit. It sounds like a powerful weapon, and it is. Although, it is the Holy Spirit who give us the grace to obey the Word of God and to understand it, it is hard to understand or obey something that you haven't even read.

I am one of the worst offenders in this area. My bible is not well marked because I would often rather read a book about the Bible or the Christian life than to actually open the source myself and soak it in. 


I try to quote verses when counseling with people, and way too often, end up with some off-the-wall paraphrase. I know what I meant, but do the people I am talking to get it?

The word of God is powerful though, and we need to know it to be able to partake of its power. Knowing God's word helps us to stay encouraged when times are tough, it helps us to believe the best about our children when they disappoint us, and it helps us to agape love our husbands when we would rather leave.

Some of the ways that we do put a priority on the Word of God in our home is by assigning monthly chapters to read as a family, memorizing key verses, and reading the Bible aloud as part of our schooling. We also assign Bible copy work with the children, I just need to get more consistent than my kids in this area!


It is a blessing to feel close to God, to go to a church service and be moved by His presence. What, though will keep us faithful during the dry times of our Christian walk? What will keep us pressing in to the pleasure of God that we have experienced in the past? When our feelings fail us, we can stand on the truth of God's word, and use the truth as a powerful weapon against unbelief and discouragement.

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10/28/14

Heavenly Homes are Peaceful


"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" Ephesians 6:15

"And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. The Gospel is so called, because it makes men to be of peaceable tempers and behaviour, and gives peace to distressed minds: it directs the way to eternal peace, and publishes peace made by the blood of Christ;" 
Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible

We have peace with God. This should affect the way we live. It should give us the power to stay calm in the midst of chaos. It should give us freedom from fear.



Sometimes though, we clutter up our lives with activities and stuff that steal our peace. Too much television, too many activities, too many loud and obnoxious battery operated toys.

As you pursue a peaceful home, maybe there are things to eliminate. Maybe there are other things which you could add in order to create a more peaceful atmosphere.


Instead of video games, have your children play with power point and paint programs to create scripture art or other encouraging images.

Instead of television, play an audio book or worship music.

Instead of workbooks, have your children copy poetry and paint illustrations for their written work.

Instead of cereal infused with hyperactivity causing red dye #40, try hot oatmeal with cinnamon, milk, and honey.

Instead of sitting in a dark house, take the schoolwork outside.

Instead of battery operated noisemakers, give your children measuring cups, some water to pour, and a towel.

Instead of no structure, gentle routines.

I pray that you are blessed with many ideas for establishing a peaceful and creative home.






10/26/14

Heavenly Mothers Prepare - Day 26


"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;"
Ephesians 6:14-15

It is Sunday night, a new school week is looming ahead, and although I have thought about it a lot, I have not set any plans down on paper.  This is not ideal. 

I have tried many of different methods for homeschool planning. I have tried making plans two weeks ahead of time and handing them out to my children (my favorite). I have also tried planning a day at a time, and then there is my current mode, not planning at all. 



Although, I am not writing things down weekly for us to do, we have had a school routine for many years that keeps us learning, even when we are in a season where the daily planning might not be as detailed. This routine keeps a regular rhythm to our days which provides a healthy amount of structure, with lots of time for creativity.

Our routine-

Wake up
Personal Bible Time
Breakfast
Make Beds, Tidy Rooms
Start Laundry
Do Breakfast Clean-up
Feed Animals, Collect Eggs
Circle Time: Worship, Bible Reading and Devotionals, Prayer, Memory Work, Spanish, Timeline, Spelling, History or Science Read Aloud
Independent Work: Math, Science, History, Handwriting, Writing, Grammar, Phonics (This is also when I help younger learners.)
Lunch
Clean-up
Outside Chores or Free Time
Read Aloud
Outside Activities
Dinner Prep


Although I am not doing a stellar job with passing out school plans to the children right now, I do have a two-week at a time  plan that was inspired by this schedule which Ann Voskamp created. On this sheet, I list weekly meal plans, school subjects that I want to highlight and also any projects that we need to accomplish. 

I also have a master list of all the school subjects that my children are supposed to be doing, so I can yell out, "Do your math!", if I see them stealthily pulling up a video game while they are sitting at the computer. 

Having some kind of routine or plan is essential for having a heavenly home. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." 

Children are happier who have some framework to their days. A routine offers security and direction, and until they are mature enough to create that direction and vision on their own, it is our responsibility to provide it for them. Having a routine, even a loose one, is a good preparation for peaceful days.

Check out some other homeschool schedules here
and here
and a post about routines vs. schedules here

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10/25/14

Meekness is a Fruit of the Spirit -Day 24



This guy had surgery yesterday morning, so most of yesterday we hung out on the couch playing sequence and then re-watching "Mom's Night Out".We also started a new read aloud, "Calico Bush", by Rachel Field which ties in nicely with our history studies and provided a few more quiet moments with the children.  


As women we can get so busy managing our children, that we forget to just hang out with them, so for me it was a beautiful excuse to slow down and relax with my kids. 

Colossians 3:12-15 KJV"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."


Our children grow up so fast, and we can never regain lost moments with them. Moments that we could be using to teach them about how much God loves them, listen to their dreams, or instruct them in how to live.



When we spend all our time distracted, and lately I am very guilty of this, we lose valuable time that we could be sowing into their lives. This intense period where we are trying to keep our marriages healthy, keep our homes sanitary and meet the needs of our children at the same time, will be over all too soon. By the grace of God, our efforts in raising our children well, will have given them a heavenly start in life.


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10/23/14

Heavenly Parents Need Faith- Day 23


"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." 1 Peter 1:18-21

 I have studied parenting as long as I have been a mother and tried hard to be a godly parent. Although I acknowledge that I have made many mistakes, my reliance on my own wisdom came to a crashing halt through this event and it's repercussions. 



Even when we have done all that we can possibly do, there may be times that are dark. We may deal with a child who is really struggling to find their way. There may be times where we want to give up, because it seems like all our efforts are unfruitful. 

This is when we need faith. Faith that our identity is safe in Christ. Faith that even if people do judge us for the success or failure of our children, God sees us through the blood of His son, who he judged in our place. Faith that God is in control and will work things out for our good and His glory.



Although having a child struggle was the worst thing I had gone through as a mother, the understanding of grace that it opened for us has transformed our lives. No longer do we live in fear of judgement, and this life of freedom has brought a depth of joy and peace to our lives that is greater than we could ever have imagined.

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10/22/14

God is Good- Day 22



"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good:
 for his mercy endureth forever." 
Psalm 136:1

It says this over and over throughout the Psalms, so it must be very important. God is good. His mercy endures forever.

it is an enormous responsibility to be a parent. We are modeling God to our children. Their first impressions of God are in large part formed by their parents, and unfortunately, many of us have had our thinking about God twisted because of our parents.

How does God parent us? First of all, He creates a beautiful place for us to live. Healthy food, clean air and an abundance of sensory delights are found in this first home.

He gives us rules to live by.

He provides a way for us to come back into relationship with Him, no matter how badly we break the rules.

Although relationship is always available, He does allow natural consequences for our mistakes to teach us to avoid those mistakes in the future. 

He gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us.



Can you see a correlation to our earthly parenting? It seems so simple when broken down in this way;
We prepare a spiritually and physically clean home for our children, with whole parents who can lay aside their own ambitions to minister to their children.

We give our children healthy rules and boundaries to guide them into civilized and godly living.

We offer them mercy when they break those rules and boundaries. 

We also offer gentle consequences for the lawbreaking.

We continue the cycle, praying that the Holy Spirit will fill our children and begin to guide them internally so that our external control of them can diminish

Parenting isn't a grace or law proposition. If the Israelites hadn't known the law, they wouldn't have known their need for grace. 


If we remove all rules from our children's lives, the need for the merciful love of our Lord is gone. 

However, if we make it all about performance and never model for them the great mercy and goodness of God, they will live in fear of failure. 

I don't want either for my children. I don't want lawless reprobates who are sure of salvation, and nor do I want timid and fearful legalists.



I dream of children who know the truth and can truthfully acknowledge that they fall short of perfect obedience of what is true.

Children who know that although they are imperfect, they have a perfect God who loves them and puts upon them His perfection.

I dream of children who know they are made perfect and set free and who acknowledge the cost of that freedom.

I dream of children who are overcome with gratitude to the purchaser of their freedom. Children who are so in love with the one who paid the price for their freedom, that they would gladly serve Him. 
This is my dream.

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10/21/14

The Fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness -Day 21


"Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation; and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great." Psalm 18:35

Gentleness does not come naturally to me, and sometimes when I am barking out orders like a drill sergeant, I forget that I am dealing with children, and not soldiers. 

From the archives, they grow up so fast!


However, gentleness is so effective at creating an atmosphere of calm in your home. When we use a soft voice and kind words, we convey a sense of security to our children. Rushing around, yelling and treating our children like day laborers has an opposite effect. 

Children are such a gift, treat them kindly!

Gentleness is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God wants to give you the ability to speak softly, touch kindly and show mercy to your children and to the world around you. 

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10/20/14

Heavenly Mothers are Patient -Day 20




"Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; 
continuing instant in prayer;"
Romans 12:12

It is Monday morning. Yesterday, we took a needed break as a family by driving to a beautiful lake and launching our canoe. It was restful, peaceful and rejuvenating, it was a lovely time with my husband and children.

The only problem with leaving the home to get a needed break is all the work that you return to. The laundry piles were shockingly high, and although I had worked all day Saturday cleaning my room and bathroom, and putting away clean clothes, I hadn't made my way to the laundry room to work on diminishing the tower in there. 


It was totally worth getting away yesterday, but it requires extra patience to manage today. I spent some time yesterday evening, starting laundry and getting the kitchen cleaned up so that today would not be quite as frightful, but there is still a hearty amount of housework to be done today, as well as the regular schoolwork. 
One key to managing a big workload is remaining patient. If we can break the work down into manageable chunks and involve the children in both the schoolwork and the housework, we can get a lot accomplished and build relationships at the same time. 

Children don't mind working, but they do mind being yelled at, so it pays to stay calm and be creative when you are trying to get caught up.

A few quick motivators we have used to get through a long list;

Set a timer- setting a timer always brings out healthy competition in children.

Offer a reward- Enlist your children in a quick home clean up and make it fun by offering a reward. It might be playing a game together, or offering a fun snack, some stickers or free time.

Make work a game- One of my favorite work/play games with my children is playing store. When there is a huge stack of laundry to be folded and put away we often make our putting the laundry away into a fun game that also works on basic math skills. One child becomes the storekeeper and myself and the rest of the children are shoppers. We collect our clothes, pay the storekeeper and then proceed to put them away.

Reward yourself- One of my favorite things to do with my children is read aloud. It means I get to sit down for a while, and I love the closeness that it offers. So for me, getting some projects checked off my to do list is rewarded by some read aloud time, or if I need a big reward, a group reading time where we all read our own books.



As you manage your children today, I pray you can be patient, keep your cool and have fun with them.

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10/19/14

Heavenly Mothers Seek Peace-Day 19



"Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."
Psalm 34:14 KJV

In Christ we have peace with God, which means that our eternal state is secure, but sometimes our life still feels frantic. With several children in my family, the noise level alone can make it hard to feel peaceful. Music playing, dishes clanking together as they are loaded and boys making any number of strange noises with their mouths, or an elbow and an underarm, all contribute to a home that often feels anything but peaceful.

Sometimes as mothers we purchase false peace for ourselves by putting our children in front of a movie or video game. This might be fine on occasion but when it becomes a habit, several problems occur. 


The first problem is that when children never interact with adults, the adults don't have the opportunity to direct and teach the children. If you as a mom don't push through the boredom with your children and teach them how to be happy without media, then their development on many levels will be hindered, basic civility and a work ethic being just a couple affected areas.

Another big problem with over reliance on media is that our standards for what to watch decline the more we watch. What might have shocked us when we first turned on the TV soon becomes commonplace, and our children end up learning bad behavior that they will act on the next time the TV is off.


Sometimes though, we just reallly need a break; from managing children, from picking up toys, from the endless round of laundry.

This is when leaving home is a good idea. Sometimes it might be by yourself while the children are with a safe caregiver. However, leaving home for a few hours or a day with your children is a wonderful way to seek peace and build relationship, especially if you go somewhere outside. A playground, a lake or a nature center are all lovely places to unwind as a family. Children are rarely bored when they have some water to splash in or rocks to climb, and their joy, the fresh air and the chance to breath are God's gifts of peace to a tired and weary mother.

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10/18/14

Heavenly Homes are Full of Joy-Day 18



"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasure for evermore." Psalm 16:11

I have to admit, joy is not the first emotion I feel right now. Yesterday morning, I awoke to the sound of my goat crying. Heading outside, I noticed that her mate was nowhere to be seen. I gathered my boys to go look for him and what they saw was the gruesome sight of my buck; legless, ripped apart and very much dead. 



This little goat was given to me by my sister and in an effort to not let the coyotes come back for the pregnant momma goat, several of my children and I spent the night on our trampoline, scooted strategically near the goat pasture. This settled down the momma goat, but I spent a sleepless night, listening for the sound of coyotes and sliding into an ever tighter heap of children in the middle of the trampoline. 

So the emotion I feel right now is mostly mind numbing exhaustion, mixed with a bit of worry about what to do with the goat tonight.

How do we stay joyful in the midst of exhaustion? My son is an inspiration to me in this area. He is nearly always happy and even tempered, but it is no mystery to me how he stays this way. His spare time is nearly always spent worshipping God. Whether he is playing along to worship music on his cajon, playing the guitar or streaming music, he has been graced with an understanding of where to find joy.



I hope I can learn from him and I pray that God gives me the same heavenly hunger for finding joy in Him. When I am tired and struggling for joy, I try to find it in a myriad of less fulfilling ways. Organizing a closet, checking FB or eating some chocolate are often my natural, if generally unfulfilling, responses. 

However, deep joy will not be found in any of these mostly harmless pursuits. If we want to be full of the joy that will sustain us through trying times, the best way to find it is to go directly to God through worship and His word.

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10/17/14

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love-Day 17



"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: …"
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 KJV
These verses are a lovely description of true love, agape love which comes through dwelling in the Holy Spirit. It can't be faked and if you want it, you must abide in Him. 



What does this agape love look like? It is patient, even when your children are all crying and the noise is overwhelming. It suffers long through sleepless nights and soiled sheets. 

It helps us be kind when we are tired and frustrated. It isn't jealous of mothers who get to sleep all night or who have housecleaners (guilty of jealousy on this one!). 

"Love doesn't boast". It doesn't have a bumper sticker that says, "My homeschooler is smarter than your honor student" (Moms Night Out funniness).

"Love does not behave unseemly"(does running to my room and slamming the door fit in that category? Guilty again).

"Love doesn't seek it's own, isn't easily provoked, thinks no evil." I think that means that we believe the best about people and are not drawn into arguments.


"Love doesn't rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth."
 When something bad is happening, even to people we don't like, the right response is sorrow and when people discover truth, we get excited for them.

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." When everything in our life is difficult or seems to be going wrong, we cling to the truth that God loves us and has good plans for us. We keep hoping in His word, knowing that "He who endures to the end will be saved".

The love of God never fails, and I pray that you would be so full of His love that you would be equipped to love your family with that same enduring love.

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10/16/14

Heavenly Homes Are Led By The Spirit

                         
"But if ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the law." Galatians 5:18

For most of my early years as a mother I did not really understand the gospel. I did not understand that when I receive Christ as my Savior, I put on his righteousness. In theory, I knew that it is through grace we are saved, but in practice I still thought that I needed to do everything right to show that I was a Christian. My verse for our homeschool was, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16. I did not realize that the light I was supposed to shine, was the light of the Holy Spirit living inside of me.

Although my motives were good, this pressure to perform was felt by my children. My mistaken view of the gospel also distorted my view about my own behavior. When I did well, I was proud and looked down on others who weren't performing up to par, and when I failed I was overcome with despair.


When I finally realized that my life was hid in Christ, and that my old man was crucified with Him, I had a radical shift in my thinking. Suddenly, the pressure to perform was lifted,  and I am now free to love God and others. No person can judge me because Jesus was judged in my place, and since I was given the perfection of Christ, despite my unworthiness, I am free to offer mercy to others, including my children, because God has shown me mercy.

Does this mean that I start living like a pagan? "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:2) When we realize all that God has done for us, our response is love and when we are in love, we want to please our lover. It isn't that we live in fear, but we live in love, and our love dictates our behavior.


How has this changed my parenting? Now, instead of living by a set of rules, many of them extra biblical, we seek to be led by the Holy Spirit. This isn't some mystical waiting for guidance, but rather, the more we spend time worshipping God and loving Him, the more our thoughts and desires align with His. God might lead me to do something that looks strange (imagine what people thought of John the baptist) or he might lead me to do something that is very normal (think Jesus, hanging out with the tax collectors). His direction will never contradict His written word, and those who are led by Him have access to all the joy and peace we need to parent the children that He gives us.

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Heavenly Homes are Honest


"…His truth endureth to all generations."
Although we have rarely had TV reception or cable in our twenty-four years of marriage, when my children were younger we watched a lot more movies. It was easy back then to put the children to bed and watch a movie that might not be quite appropriate for them. I am not talking about "adult" movies here, just movies that had adult themes or language. 

    

As our children grew, we found this didn't work so well. If a movie wasn't appropriate for my 12 year old to watch, it probably wasn't appropriate for me either. Wanting to be fair to them, it no longer worked to simply put them to bed, and yet we didn't want to pollute their young minds and spirits with language or behavior that they had not yet been exposed to. As our children grew, it became more and more important to not have a double standard about media and so we came to a point where we rarely watch movies at all, finding few movies worth spending the time on (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Mom's Night Out are two recent exceptions).

For our family, truth is very important. Both the truth of God being proclaimed in our home, and honest living between each member of the family. If I as the mother am teaching my children one code of honor and then living a different one, I am not a credible witness. If I tell my children not to have sex outside of marriage, but I put them to bed early so I can watch a romantic movie where that behavior is the norm, I am not really living what I am preaching. I may not be engaging in the behavior myself, but if I am entertained by it, then I am somewhat culpable. If I try to teach them to have decent table manners and then we as a family are entertained by a bunch of vulgarians, I am probably not being a credible witness to civility.

    

Children are very smart. If they hear us telling them to be honest and to trust God, but they see us living  contrary to what we are teaching, they will become hardened to our words. Parenting is the most amazing opportunity for personal growth because our children are so attentive to what message our lives display. I want the message of my life to be excitement about God, excitement about loving the people that He places in my life, and honesty in my relationships. The more we allow the Holy Spirit to sink truth into our spirit, the less attracted we will be to dishonest pleasures. and a peaceful home will be the result of our honest lives.


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