Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Time Off

The big kids had their reward day at school and got their faces painted.
Then we had spring break March 11-16.
We headed to Tyler, Texas the first weekend. We did a timeshare preview and got to stay in a hotel for 2 nights (with an indoor pool and breakfast), went to an indoor waterpark, and got a gift card giving us a yummy dinner out! We had a good time and even the tour/sales pitch wasn't bad.
We went to Tyler's childrens museum (thanks to our other museum membership we got in FREE)! It was a very cool museum -- probably one of my favorites.
They had a little "city" with a grocery store, bank, courthouse, restaurant, coffee shop, vet, hospital, etc sponsored by those businesses from around town. It was VERY cool.They also had a mock tv station...a news desk, a cooking show, tv camera, control room. The kids had fun pretending to do a show.We recuperated on Monday and went to a park.Tuesday we met friends, who were in town briefly, at a mall to play.
Don't the girls look like they could be related?
Wednesday we went to the zoo. We love our annual pass!Thursday we did sleepovers with friends, and then Friday we had another park play day and made homemade ice cream!The ice cream was pretty easy (no machine required). Put one cup half and half, 2 tablespoons sugar, and and vanilla in a small ziploc. Place that inside a larger ziploc filled with ice and rock salt. Shake it vigorously for about 5 minutes (have your kids jump around the kitchen while holding it with oven mitts). You get soft serve vanilla ice cream that's yummy! We got our recipe at Family Fun's website.

We hope you have had a fun spring break...whatever week it ended up being!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let Them See Him

I came to an article by John Piper via a critique of the book I mentioned previously (Give Them Grace by Fitzpatrick and Johnson).

You can read the entire article here. It's about why we require children (who don't yet know Jesus' forgiveness personally) to obey rules that make them look/act good. I've struggled with this concept in parenting to some extent.

We read Shepherding a Child's Heart in 2008. Since then, we have aimed at teaching our children to obey us and the Lord, aiming at their hearts all the while. One of the tenets of this philosophy of parenting is to require obedience from your kids. I have struggled with it to some extent because I knew that their hearts weren't right. They were so young that I couldn't really explain the "why" of obeying and it's importance. They just needed to be taught that they must obey.

It's starting to make more sense to me now as I watch my children grow. They must obey. But, they will fail. That's when I point them emphatically to the cross.

I can't say I was parented with this goal. I won't make gross statements about my parents' goals because that's for them to say emphatically. However, I never perceived that there was a 'higher' goal than good behavior and moral choices. I would like the same for my children--that they be "good" adults (respectable, hard-working, kind to others) and make good moral choices--but I don't want it to end there. Because they will fail, just as I did. They will not be able to hit the mark all of the time. And, when they fail, I want them to know they have a Savior who already paid the price for their failure. I want them to know they will never be good apart from Jesus. They need the Gospel.

So, this article by Piper reminded me of why I should keep the rules in place, even if my kids can't yet understand the Gospel and their need for the Savior.

But, Piper ended with these words, encouraging parents to do a lot more than just hold hold the "rules" for them. This reminds me a lot of what I read in that book about grace.

  • Let there be much spontaneous celebration verbally of every hopeful sign of life and goodness in our children.
  • Let us forgive them often and be longsuffering.
  • Let us serve them and not use them.
  • Let us lavish them with joyful participation in their interests.
  • Let us model for them the joy of knowing and submitting to the Lord Jesus.
  • Let us apologize often when we fall short of our own Father’s requirements.
  • Let us pray for them without ceasing.
  • Let us saturate them with the word of God from the moment they are in the womb (the uterus is not sound proof).
  • Let us involve them in happy ministry experiences and show them it is more blessed to give than to receive.
  • Let them see us sing to the King.
  • Let us teach them relentlessly the meaning of the gospel in the hope that God will open their eyes and make them alive. It happens through the gospel (1 Peter 1:22–25).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We Need Jesus

I've been receiving a Lent devotional from Redeemer Church in NYC. It's been nice to read it (almost) daily.

I grew up in southern baptist churches, so Lent was never something we celebrated. I also never grew up celebrating Advent at Christmastime, but we really appreciate it as a family. So, this year, I'm trying to focus my heart a little more on the impending celebration of Easter. We really ought to celebrate it with as much passion and enthusiasm as we celebrate Christmas, I think. After all, it's the pinnacle of what Christmas is all about. Christ's coming was for his death, burial and resurrection.

So, today's devotional hit a spot with me.

It seems lately that the Lord has been teaching me a lot about His amazing grace. Now, I know that it's common to hear people talk about His grace. What I mean is that He has been teaching me about His grace on a much deeper level than I've ever learned before.

In particular, He's been teaching me about it as I parent. A book was recommended to me by our librarian and it is fantastic. Since the check-out period is only two weeks and I was going slowly through it so as not to miss anything, I only got halfway through before I had to return it for the person on hold to borrow it. But, it is fantastic. I need to find a copy for myself. The book is called "Give Them Grace" by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. It's not that she writes things that are so "revolutionary" per se, but really they are--for my heart!

I still wholeheartedly endorse Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. In fact, another couple and we are reading back through it and discussing it (well, we've met once....and hope to again soon). But, this book that focuses on grace is something God seems to be wanting to teach me.

You see, I started reading it just as teaching at church hit upon the Pharisees. We're going through the book of Matthew and came to some spots where Jesus directly dealt with the Pharisees. They kept the Law so well, but they missed the point.

I am a great Pharisee.

I keep laws and rules really well. I was a rule follower. most people I was a rule follower. I really ought to write another post or two on just how good I was at living at a double life.

But, I digress. So, this whole topic of "outward obedience" has been really good for me. God wants our heart. He wants to show us our desperate need for Him.

Today's devotional for Lent:

Jeremiah 33:14-18 (ESV) “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

“For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”

I've done a study on the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. There were so many rules! It was beautiful because the people had a place to meet with God and the symbolism is so rich and amazing. But, the bottom line is that NONE OF IT BRINGS US TO WHERE WE NEED TO BE!

We need Jesus!

He is my intercessor. He is my friend. He is my Savior who sacrificed His life so that mine would be eternally saved. All glory to Jesus, for He alone is worthy of all honor and praise and glory.

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's Ongoing

I easily get overwhelmed with the thought of writing a new post for my blog. There are way too many things swirling in my brain.

So, I'll just share something from today (and to make up for the fact that it's been a very long time since I posted anything):

At the park today one of my children had a slightly grumpy meltdown. They were upset that another child was going to a friend's house and they were not. This child decided to outright cry. They are far too old for crying over such things. This child also spent the night with a friend last night. It's not like they were being left out of fun.

What struck me during this moment was the irony.

You see, I said yes to the other child going with a friend for the afternoon. And, I had [in my head] decided I would take the remaining children by a fast food joint for an ice cream cone. It was hot outside and they would enjoy a treat. But, this child threw a fit. I corrected their behavior, telling them that crying was unacceptable. [I also pointed out that they were not invited!]

Then, I watched as this child went ahead of me to the parking lot, got their bag from their friend's car, and continued the grump. In fact, they threw their bag on the ground, crossed their arms, and let out a very audible grump. {insert laughter that I tried to keep quiet}

The child was told to get in the van with their siblings. Then, I had to tell the child that they would not only not be going to the friend's house but now they would have to not get ice cream.

I spent a few minutes explaining that when I say no, it's usually because I have something else in mind. Sometimes it's because I know things they don't know. Sometimes I say no to a request because I know there are safety issues. Sometimes I say no because we have other plans. In this instance, I said no because they were not invited, but then I also planned something fun for them anyway [the ice cream].

As I tried to be patient through the process [and failed at a point or two--evidenced by my stern voice, for which I apologized], I was reminded that these parenting moments have so much deep truth.

God often tells me no to something I really, really want. It's not because He is mean or selfish. He has my best interests at heart. And, He wants to bless me. He cannot bless me when I throw a fit. Sometimes, because He is an incredibly gracious God, He blesses me anyway. After all, He's all about grace. My entire life is one big gift of grace from Him.

Parenting is hard work. Parenting with the goal of honoring God is pretty much impossible. Thank God for His grace! I'm so glad I'm not parenting for just temporary pleasures or good behavior.