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Posts tagged ‘heart’

I think I have finally figured out the secret to parenting.

Okay, when I say “figured it out,” I don’t mean that I have a 100% perfect understanding of it. But I think I have enough of a concept to apply it and to share it.

And it wasn’t my original discovery. It comes from the book Parenting Your Infant/Toddler by the Spirit by Sally Hohnberger. And “it” is the parenting pyramid.

In my own words, this pyramid means that God is at the top, desiring to communicate to my child and me. Because I am the parent, I need to open up the lines of communication–two-way communication. I need to make sure my heart is fully surrendered in the moment. And let me tell you, lack of surrender on our part is a big reason why we fail to bring our children to true obedience. Just try making a child obey cheerfully by yelling at them!

The second aspect is that God also wants to communicate directly to the child. However, the rebellious, tantrum-throwing two-year-old isn’t listening. So we as the parent, now surrendered to the Lord, will communicate to them, and direct them to listen to what God is saying to them. Then we lead them to surrender as well. Once they surrender, the lines of communication are open between both parent and child and God and child.

Now, that’s good in theory, but let me make this practical with some illustrations from my life today.

It was time to pick up the toys and get ready for worship. But neither of my children wanted to pick up the toys. Manny tried to throw a tantrum and Gislaine started to cry. Because I couldn’t deal with them both at once, I sent Gislaine to her room and told her to wait until I called her. Then I told Manny that he needed to surrender his heart to Jesus and put the toys away. I said, “Let’s pray,” but he jerked in defiance. So I took his hand and said, “We need to go for a run.” We ran the length of the house and back. Then I knelt again and asked him to pray with me. He knelt, folded his hands, and closed his eyes. Then he repeated after me. “Dear Jesus, please help me to put my toys away happy. Amen.” Then I showed him the toy, and repeated my instruction. He put it away. At first he was just compliant–putting it away under protest. But as I directed him to put more and more away, his heart softened until by the time he was done, he was a cheerful, happy little boy. And Daddy noticed later, after I had gone to the gym, that he was the happiest, most obedient, surrendered little boy that he had been for a long time, and commented on it to me when I got back.

Once he was busy putting his toys away, I called his sister out. We knelt and I led her in a similar prayer. Then I asked her, “What is Jesus saying to you?” She said, “To obey.” That just warmed my heart! Jesus was speaking to my precious daughter, and she recognized His voice! I said, “That’s right. Now please put the dolly’s bed away.” And she did. She also helped her brother put some things away. And she was happy when it was over.

And so was I!

Yes, it took extra time to do it, but the end result was happiness for everyone, and peace in the home.

Yes, this is the secret: a connection with God, listening for His direction, and following His guidance. Most of the time, we won’t know for sure if the ideas that come to our minds are from Him or not, but we are to test the spirits, and move forward in faith. But being surrendered ourselves–to take our toddler’s hand for the grizzly run (because they are too young to run by themselves), even when we don’t feel like running–makes all the difference. Because we certainly cannot bring our child to surrender if we are not surrendered ourselves!

I’m reading this book through for the second time. I can’t say I’ve read enough recently to do a proper review of it, but I would still highly recommend it. And all the other books in the series.

When it comes to child training, what should I consider as obedience? I found this definition on Revive Our Hearts yesterday, and I just had to share it.

Obedience is doing exactly what I’m told to do, when I’m told to do it, with the right heart attitude.

Can you think of a better definition? I sure can’t. It’s all-inclusive. I’d encourage you to go and listen to the radio broadcast in the link above, or read the transcript. It takes this definition apart and applies it to our Christian walk.

But how much we parents need to remember this definition when we are training! Is my son obeying when he says “No” as he comes to me, or as he picks up the spilled Rice Chex? Obeying under protest is not obedience. It’s rebellion. Is my daughter obeying me when I tell her to drink her water and 15 minutes later, after many promptings, she finally finishes it?

I need to call my children to a higher standard. And for so long I haven’t. I have let my selfishness get in the way of real child training.

Lord, help me to redeem the time!

The other day I asked Gislaine to do something. She didn’t want to and told me so, then burst into tears. At the same moment I realized I had to change her brother’s diaper. So I told her to sit down and wait while I went upstairs.

When I came back, this is what I saw:

[Note: The headgear is her idea… probably came from reading Bible story books with pictures…]

I thought that was so cute! But I wondered if she really knew what she was doing. I mean, she had seen me stop in the middle of a tough situation and pray just like that. But I was praying silently. Had my teachings really been sinking in?

Here is a video reenactment of what she told me (with me prompting to remind her what to say next).

In case the video won’t play for you (it won’t for me–not sure why–it plays on the camera just fine), here is a transcript:

Me: So, Laine, what were you doing?

Gislaine: Uh, I was praying.

Me: Really?

G: Uh huh.

Me: Really? What did you pray about?

G: Um, [mumble mumble that I can’t remember] Satan in my heart.

Me: That’s right, and–be nice, Manny, be nice (as he pushes at her to get her off the seat)–you may stand up now.

G: I want a video!

Me: We’re doing a video–Still! Stop! Stop! (as she starts to walk out of the view of the camera) Okay, now, tell me the rest of it. And what did Jesus do when you prayed?

G: He came back in my heart!

Me: And what did He make Satan do?

G: He said, “Go away,” then he go away.

Me: I’m so glad!

But I hope you can watch it. I’m not sure what’s up with our computer… it doesn’t like our camera, I think.

By SamHastings on Flickr

Yesterday, I shared in part 1 how my life has been a series of spiritual ups and downs, characterized by trying to build walls to make others think I was good, while inside I was a mess.

Well, a few weeks ago I just sort of hit bottom. I had been trying to escape reality with compulsive kinds of actions, like reading for hours on end, playing computer games, etc., while my family deteriorated around me. I didn’t know what to do, and I hated myself for the way I was and the way I had allowed things to become. The bad habits of my youth were now maturing into very nasty character flaws that I could see being mirrored in my children, and I began to realize that I had to make a choice.

But I was loath to do it. Make the choice, I mean. Because I basically had two alternatives. Either surrender to God and let Him change me, or reject God and give up on everything I believed. I just couldn’t stand staying the way I was. The problem was, the latter option was just too horrendous to contemplate. And besides, being a Christian was so ingrained into my identity that I would find myself turning to God automatically when in difficult situations–like when I turned into my driveway too early and almost went over edge of the road into a tree!

But surrender scared me.

Why did it scare me? It wasn’t because I was afraid of surrender itself. I had experienced full surrender in the past–at least, as full as I knew at the time. I remember almost having an accident, and actually not getting an adrenalin rush because I had such peace with God. I longed to have that kind of relationship again. But I was afraid of failure. I had tried so many times, and just as many times I had failed. Turned my back on God. Let go of His hand and basically said, “I’m going to do it my way.”

Then I would read verses like Hebrews 6:4-6 and wonder if maybe I was a hopeless case.  But then I knew that any yearnings in my soul for God meant that I had definitely not committed the unpardonable sin, and that meant there definitely was hope for me. (I have stored up a lot of head knowledge over the years, and in times like this it was both a comfort and a torment.)

But I still feared failure. I didn’t want to turn my life over to God and then take it back once again. I wanted to break the cycle of up and down. After talking to my friend from church that I mentioned yesterday, I got in touch with one of my old friends from several years ago and began to pour out my heart to her. In an email, I wrote this:

I realize that to surrender to the extent that I did as a youth isn’t enough anymore. In proportion to the light that I have I must yield, and I have more light now than I did then. So my surrender now must be deeper than it has ever been.

As you can see, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to surrender. But I was afraid. What if I failed again? I didn’t think I could bear it. All my head knowledge told me that God would accept me just as I was, that He would forgive me and take me back with rejoicing. All the promises of His keeping power that I had memorized kept surfacing into my consciousness; evidence of His love was everywhere I looked if I just chose to see it. I began to sense things coming to a climax. I realized that it was only a matter of time before I did make a surrender. But still I hesitated.

Looking back honestly, I think that it was deeper than just my fear of failure, even though that was a very big issue. I was also unwilling to surrender certain things. It’s a lie of the devil, the idea that if you surrender to God, He will take away the things that make you happy. I know by experience that He only takes away the things that make us miserable. But I didn’t want to let go of some of those things. And some things I wondered if He would make me give them up, when in reality He wasn’t so much interested in my things as just in having me. And as I began to take that reality to heart, I began to soften.

I realize that I may not be communicating my thoughts very well. There were so many levels to my situation that I don’t know how to explain it with words. Maybe if you try to feel with your heart what I am trying to  convey, you will understand. I’m sure if you’ve ever been where I am, you can understand. I hope by the time I finish this series, those of my readers who are in the same situation I was will have some answers. That’s my goal, my reason for opening my heart to you. Not that I have all the answers yet. But I have a few. And maybe one or two of them will help.

Tomorrow I will share some of the steps that helped get me out of this dark hole I was in. So stay tuned.

The other day I was spending a few quiet moments (a rarity lately!) reading one of my favorite devotional books, and this paragraph jumped out at me:

The loveliness of the character of Christ will be seen in His followers. It was His delight to do the will of God. Love to God, zeal for His glory, was the controlling power in our Saviour’s life. Love beautified and ennobled all His actions. Love is of God. The unconsecrated heart cannot originate or produce it. It is found only in the heart where Jesus reigns. “We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19, R.V. In the heart renewed by divine grace, love is the principle of action. It modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love, cherished in the soul, sweetens the life and sheds a refining influence on all around.

Steps to Christ, 59

The thought is beautiful all by itself, but as I contemplated it, something struck me. Love is the ultimate motivator. I mean, who would willingly wipe someone else’s bottom for free if they didn’t love them? Sure, some would do it for pay, but all mothers do it for free. Why? Because we love our little helpless babies!

But then something else struck me. When our children love us, they are motivated to obey us. When we have their heart, we don’t have to twist their arm to get them to do something. Have we shown them love like Christ has shown for us?

When our children are motivated by love, look what can happen: “It [love] modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections.”

In the goal of the development of character in our children, let’s make sure that we put in a lot of love!

By 55Laney69 on Flickr

One thing I have realized as a parent is that having your child’s heart is essential. You can train them until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t have their heart, you just breed rebellion in them. I recently read a post on this topic on another blog that I keep up with, and I want to share with you a short excerpt from the post Do You Have Your Child’s Heart:

The answer to nearly all child training questions is, you must have your child’s heart.  What exactly does this mean and how do we gain our child’s heart?

Proverbs 23:26 says it most like I’ve worded it,

My son, give me thy heart; And let thine eyes delight in my ways.

. . . This concept of having your children’s heart is vast and complex and I don’t pretend to have or know all the answers. . . . I believe the rewards of faithfulness in this area are most evident as your children get older and become more independent, but there are signs of success or failure early on.  A parent who is paying attention will know if they have their child’s heart.

Please go read the whole article. You will be blessed!