Monday, July 28, 2014

The two most important things.

I have been challenged recently in my parenting.  
Not because my kids are acting any worse or because we have hit a new hard stage.  
Because let's face it, every stage has its challenges and every stage of parenting is just hard.  
My challenges have come from me.  
God revealing things to me on how I need to be parenting versus how I am parenting.  
Through my summer reading and what I have been studying in the bible, I feel like I have honed in on the two most important things that we need to teach our children. 

1.  The purpose of our life is to glorify God.  
2.  We are sinners in need of a savior and the grace that only Jesus Christ can give.  

These are two things that I know myself.  
These are two things that affect me daily. 
But I do not think that they have been the two things that I have been focusing most of my efforts on in teaching my kids.
I think I have focused on obeying mom and dad, table manners, using kind words, sharing, respect and basic things.  None of which are bad things and all things that do need to be taught.  
And of course we teach our children about the love of Christ, that he died for us on the cross, that he rose on the third day, that we are cleansed from our sins.  
Cole memorized Romans 5:8 this past year which reads "while we were still sinners, Christ dies for us."  It is one of his favorite verses and he says it frequently.  
He also corrected me when I commented to someone that we were Christians, and he said "no mom, we are sinners!"  Well, we were both right:  sinners seeking Christ!
But am I teaching him that he is separated from God until he makes a personal decision to live his life for Christ?  
Am I focusing on the "you need Christ to transform your heart full of sin" part?
Because until he realizes that he needs Christ, not just that he wants Christ, wants to be a christian, wants to be like mom and dad, wants to obey to earn praise, but that he truly will be lost his whole life until he humbles himself before Christ, then his heart will be wanting to do things for the wrong reasons.   
I do not want these three to grow up obeying because they want to please me.  I do not want them to obey because they are scared of discipline.  I do not want them to obey because of social pressure or for physical/tangible rewards.  
I want them to learn obedience because in their hearts, they desire to be like Christ.  They want to submit to the authority of God because they know that they are sinners in need of a savior, and in need of immense grace.  
And when we submit to God, and accept his grace, the desire to glorify God becomes our focus, our purpose.  
Ultimately, the only thing that we will be accountable for is how we used our life, what God gave us, to glorify him.  From the way we used our time, our words, our money, our work, our faith, our everything....we will be held accountable.  
We will accountable on how well we raised our children and used our marriage to bring honor and glory to God.  
Everything we do falls under this umbrella.
And all the things that we must teach about sharing, respect, kindness, love, patience, manners, all comes back to giving God glory.  Using what we have and who we are to bring glory to God.
Like I said, these are not new ideas.  And they are things that I practice in my life.  
But do I talk with my kids about the choices that they make being for the sake of "because I told you so?" or do we talk about choices of the heart, about choosing to do things and say things that glorify God?  Do I tell them enough that the only way they will succeed in overcoming their sin is because of God's grace and because he conquered sin for us?
Many parents may think these things can be taught later, when kids can are older and can understand better, but I disagree.  Molding a child's heart starts at the beginning.  
And these two most important things are what matters the most and what we should spend time modeling for them, teaching them, and guiding them.

**Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp and Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick are the two books that I read that inspired this post.  Such good books! 

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Reading.

This summer I challenged myself to start reading again.  
Since the twins were born, reading has definitely not been a priority for me other than my Bible studies, even though I love to read.  Right before the girls were born I went on a reading frenzy because I knew that it would be years before I could sit down and read for pleasure.  And I was basically right.  I read a couple of book last summer for a summer book club but nothing since then!  
So, this summer, I decided to read a chapter a day and work through all the books that I have had on my shelf that I have wanted to read.  
Here is what I have read so far.
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn This book is about biblical giving storing up treasure that actually matters.  Good book with really great principles for giving. 

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp  I read this book a long time ago and wanted to reread it now that Cole is getting older and it is a little more applicable.  I LOVE this book and has really had me examine my heart when discipling, helped me make more biblical decisions when disciplining and focus our "disciplining conversations" on matters of the heart.  If you are a parent and have not read this, do it.  

The Resolution for Women by Pricilla Shirer  My parents gave me this book (and Brenner The Resolution for Men) at Christmas and I really enjoyed it.  Some chapters were a little more applicable to me than others and I will be honest that I just read the book and did not actually sign all the resolutions like they suggest.  But Shirer, who is awesome, makes some really great points and definitely challenged me in areas to make life resolutions in areas such as bible memorization, being a blessing to others, living with grace and leaving a godly legacy just to name a few.  

It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig  Most of you by now have heard of the Whole30 movement that spun out of this book.  I was really interested to hear what they had to say and read more about how our food choices, even some of the foods that we think are good, are really affecting our bodies.  I have not done Whole30, and I am not sure that I will, but over the last 6 months I have drastically reduced the amount of sugar and artificial sugar that I eat.  I have been committed to cooking and feeding my family almost all of our meals from scratch for a long time too and so much of what this book is based on and recommends is how we live, just not 100%.  It was interesting. 

The 23rd Psalm for the 21st Century by Lon Solomon  This book was written by my pastor from my home church in Virginia.  I have had it for years and I finally was able to read it.  It is an in depth study of the 23rd Psalm and I loved dissecting this beloved psalm to learn the history and context in which it was written.

The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson  Another awesome parenting book talking about the ministry us moms have of laying the foundation of Christ for our kids by providing the gifts of grace, faith, training, service and more based on Jesus' example for us.  So, so good.  

Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur This book looks in depth at 12 people of the Bible who were used by God to do amazing work and ministry.  Each of them were far less than perfect and were not the world's choice for service or heroism, but they were God's choice.  I learned a lot about these 12 biblical heroes and their examples.

Africa Unchained by George Ayittey A heavy read (which I have not quite finished) about the countries of Africa and the pattern of bondage and lack of freedom that keeps, and will keep, these countries from pulling out of poverty, AIDS, Orphans and starvation.  There is a lot of word besides the US and most of us do not think about or pray about these countries nearly enough.  

The book below, Give the Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick, is the next book on my list! 

My summer season of reading is halfway over before my bible studies start up again in the fall.
If you have book suggestions for me, I would love to hear them!  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Seize the day

One of the things that we were most excited about when we found out we were getting stationed to Beale AFB was its location.  While the base is kind of far from everything else and we end up doing a lot of driving on a regular basis that I am not a huge fan of, the proximity to SO many amazing places in the larger California area is amazing.  We have said from the very beginning that we wanted to try to take advantage of our time while we are here and seize the opportunities to explore and go to new places, which we love to do.  

Last weekend after the 4th, and a lot of lake swimming, we decided that we needed to get out of town and to head to some cooler temperatures down south on the coast.  We went to Santa Cruz and spent the afternoon at the amazing boardwalk which has a small amusement park with tons of rides for all ages.  The kids loved it and the girls rode on their first real rides by themselves.  

Then we headed down to Monterey, which is on the other side of the bay from Santa Cruz.  We went to their famous aquarium, which really was awesome, and then we spent the afternoon at the beach playing in the waves, bulldozing sand, digging for treasure and burying mom, dad, and Jake in the sand.  We ate tons of seafood and found another DDD spot which lived up to all the hype on the wharf.  Clam chowder is not just a speciality of New England we are learning.  It is huge out here on the coast, as is calamari (Brenner's favorite food) so we basically ate both at every meal wherever we went.  

We had such a great trip and things like this are getting easier and easier with the kids (read: easier, not easy!) and we really want to make fun memories for them and us as often as we can!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


We had a great 4th of July!
We went to the small town of Lincoln, ate a delicious breakfast at my new favorite place and then sat of the street for the Fourth of July parade.  We spent the rest of the day at the lake, in the kiddie pool, napping and reading library books.  It was a wonderful family day and I am thankful to celebrate this country and the many, many freedoms that we have.