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Posts tagged ‘pray’

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.

I decided yesterday that I would fast today. And I did. I drank water, but ate nothing.

There were several reasons for this. First, fasting strengthens the will. Second, it clears the mind. I wanted to have some time to really focus on God’s Word, and besides, it’s a good idea to fast once in a while.

But just because I was fasting, I realized that I couldn’t get out of every responsibility I had that day. I served breakfast to my daughter (thankfully, it was leftover frozen pancakes and waffles, so I didn’t have to actually cook). I made beds, picked up things that were laying around, cleaned the hen house and collected the eggs, etc. I showered and minded the children for a while. When my husband came back from the gym around noon, he took the kids to the playground for an hour or so, and I prepared lunch for them. Then I left home, telling my husband I didn’t know when I would be back.

The first thing I did was to go to a nature park. It has a couple miles of trails with benches scattered along some of them. It is shady and cool with all the trees, so it was the perfect place to be alone in nature with God–the best I can find in this area, anyway.

I had brought my Bible, my iPod (for its Bible program), a devotional-like book that I’m reading, a notebook, and my prayer journal. I spent some time praying, reading, and in Bible study. I was probably there a couple of hours–I didn’t keep track of time. It was a real blessing–away from the computer, away from the demands of the home, alone with God.

When I finished, I went shopping. Yes, even though it was late afternoon and I hadn’t eaten anything all day, I went shopping. They say you should never shop on an empty stomach, but I did it anyway. And I realized that the practice of saying no to food throughout the day as I worked in the kitchen today had strengthened my will to the point that I was able to say no not only to buying something to eat right there, but to also not buy unnecessary items. I guess that the habit of only buying what’s on my list unless I know for sure that we will need it within the next week paid off. That, and having a budget. (If you don’t have a budget, you should!)

But there was a side benefit to this experience. I learned a little something about the power of the will. As I was walking through the bulk section, buying lentils and cashews and such, I noticed a bin of what I think were probably miniature chocolate chip cookies. I say probably, because I didn’t look at them long enough to be sure. I knew that if I studied them or debated about them, I would be tempted to buy them. So instead I turned away and focused on writing the bin number on the tag for the bag of lentils.

As I went through the store, each time I was tempted to buy some snack-like item to eat, I would turn away quickly and focus on what I needed to get for the family for the week. I had resolved to fast the entire day, and I didn’t want to have the regret of eating something near the end. This resolve helped me stay focused on my goal and the task at hand.

And at this moment, it is a little after 9:00 pm, and I still haven’t eaten anything. I have drunk plenty of water, and shortly I will go to bed. I have succeeded in my goal!

But the principle I learned today will be valuable in the future. To resist temptation, I must refuse to ponder on it. If I am tempted to spend time on the computer when I really should be folding laundry and fixing lunch, I need to resist the temptation and go start on the laundry.

So many times in the past, when I was tempted to do something that I shouldn’t do, I would think about it, dwell on how much I wanted to do it, and before I knew it, I was doing it. Now I know that if I resist the first temptation, the second one will be weaker and weaker until the devil will have to come up with another temptation altogether, because that one will have lost its appeal.

But through it all, I know that I cannot do this without God. Sure, there are times I can resist temptation on my own, to a point. But the Christian life isn’t about just not falling into sin. It’s not just about keeping the commandments. The rich young ruler did that. And he still had a nameless longing that he didn’t know how to fill. The Christian life is about putting God in first place in my life and developing a relationship with Him. As I do that, He will empower me to make the right choices. And I will be motivated to do the right things, not just because I have to or because they are the right things to do, but because I love God.

Oh Lord, You know how weak I am. Please take my will, refine and ennoble it, and give it back to me. Give me a tender heart, open to the voice of Your Holy Spirit. Help me to be so sensitive to Your voice that the lightest whisper of Jesus will move my soul. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

As I was driving to church last Friday to practice for the Sabbath music service, I was listening to this CD by the the Stewart Family from the album “Satisfied,” and singing along. Then it came to this song:

It Is Finished

Long ago I saw my Saviour
Bearing shame upon a tree
Then my heart was touched with sorrow
For I saw He bled for me.

“It is finished,” loud He cried
Oh what love, for me He died
In my stead He bled on Calvary
Once for all Christ rescued me

Lo the sky was veiled in darkness
Sudden trembling shook the ground
As the angry crowd was cheering
Mocking Jesus all around

Then my Saviour called to Heaven
As I saw His love anew
Oh my Father, please forgive them
For they know not what they do

“It is finished,” loud He cried
Oh what love, for me He died
In my stead He bled on Calvary
Once for all Christ rescued me

Free salvation now He offers
Take His gift, oh hear His plea
On the bloody cross behold Him
Join His shout of victory

“It is finished,” loud He cried
Oh what love for me He died
In my stead He bled on Calvary
Once for all Christ rescued me.

As I reached “Then my Saviour called to Heaven,” suddenly it was as though I had a vision. As the song set the scene, suddenly I felt like I could really see it. In my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus laying on the cross, the crown of thorns on His head, His torn back pressed against the rough wood. The crowd around mocked and jeered. And then the Roman soldier grabbed a hammer and nail and began to nail Him to the cross. In an instant, everything I had ever read about the gut-wrenching pain caused by the nails came flooding into my mind. And at that moment, the song reached the part where Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” My heart was touched, and I had to hold back the tears as I drove along in the dark. My heart just overflowed with love for the One who gave all for me!

How could Jesus say that, while enduring such excruciating agony? What kind of love can prompt such amazing words in the midst of such horrendous circumstances? Only the love of the one who is love at the very essence of His being.

As I continued on to the church, I meditated on Jesus’ love and sacrifice, hoping I could get there with enough time to write them down before everyone showed up to practice and I lost the impression. Amazingly, I was the first car there. As I typed away on my iPod, someone came and opened the door, so I went in. Three guys showed up–to operate the PowerPoint, the lights, and the sound. But no one showed up to practice. One of the guys made some phone calls and found out that the leader for the week was singing at a vespers somewhere else that night, and that practice would be at 8:00 am the next morning.

Now, you need to understand something. We have been going over budget every month for gas. My husband works an hour away, and gas prices are going up. I don’t mind Friday night practice–indeed, I have seen the stress of trying to do it Sabbath morning–but if there isn’t going to be a practice, someone should notify me. At least, that is the theory.

The whole situation was frustrating, especially since it was the second time this had happened to me–showing up for a practice that wasn’t. So I left the church rather upset. I didn’t want to drive all the way home with such sour feelings, however, so I stopped at the pastor’s house, since it was near the church and not really out of my way. I wanted to pray with someone and didn’t have a cell phone anymore. The pastor came out and prayed with me, and that prayer helped to calm my feelings and change my thoughts into better channels. Thank you, Pastor Jim!

As I drove home it dawned on me. If I had stayed home, I wouldn’t have heard the song on the CD in the car. And even in the unlikely event that I turned on my iPod and heard it that evening, the chances of life being quiet enough to meditate on the thoughts in the song would have been nonexistent. So in spite of the fact that I wasted gas on going to a practice that didn’t happen, I had a precious experience with God, and that made the whole trip worth while.

If you are interested in buying the song or the album, you can purchase them here (Disclaimer: these are affiliate links).

Buy the Album: Buy the Song:

Note: My Adventist friends will want to know that the last song, track 12, has a little error on the length of hell, but the rest of the songs are lovely.

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.