Rising up to take ACTION!

Pushing forward in our Christian blended family and parenting adventures.

My husband and I along the way have consistently been incorporating some form of family devotional, typically during one of our family meals.  We are not successful in doing a devotional every night but typically at least once a week.  Which has been good but we feel God leading us to take this devotional time in a new direction.

         —>Plan of action!<—

My husband and I are going to intentionally direct our family devotions to teaching, modeling, and instilling God’s law in the hearts of our children. I have recently read an amazing book by Ray Comfort, “How to bring your children to Christ and keep them there.” He offers some great advice and tools. This really opened my eyes on how important and crucial it is to teach our children about sin.

I think it is so easy to shy away from the focusing on the affliction of sin to stay more focused on God’s love and forgiveness. Especially with children, your instinct is to protect them from anything that may be scary or harmful. Sin and hell are scary and harmful! But we need to do exactly the opposite. Our children can never be truly appreciate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross if they do not fully recognize and understand the entity of sin.  They need to be taught God’s law, what sin is, they need to see themselves as a sinner or they will never truly repent and turn to Jesus.

I can see how this family journey through the commandments, magnifying God’s Moral Law is going to not only be transforming for our children but will also be at work in my own heart. This has already provoked my husband and I to truly reflect on our own sin and obedience to the Lord (or lack thereof 😉  )

JIt is so easy to deep inside try and justify or rationalize our own sin.  We so easily see sin as big or little, we try and attribute our sin as not as severe.  For example, we tell ‘a little white lie’ which we chalk up as harmless, but in God’s eyes lying is the same as murder and adultery.  Our sinful nature pulls us to downplay the seriousness of our sin.

So my husband and I are dedicated to use our family devotional to open the eyes of our children to exactly what sin is, so they can see sin in their own hearts and lives and recognize why they need to be saved. I know our kids know what the 10 commandments are but do they really understand them? They can recite them from memory but do they know what it means to truly follow them? We are going to slowly week by week take on a commandment and discuss it and study it and model it as a family.

Last week we had an in depth discussion about the first commandment.

““I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  Exodus‬ ‭20:2‬ ‭

God comes first.  It seems simple at first but trying to explain this to a child in terms they can truly comprehend is not as simple.  Before we can take this to our young audience we need to reflect on our own lives and actions; ‘am I living with God coming first?’, unfortunately not like I should or could be.  It is in trying to teach our children this that I can see where my sin has been shadowed, shining the light on it so I can repent and turn toward being obedient and putting God first.

We tried to shine light on what it means to not put God first, to put His blessings in our life before Him.  We used Ray Comfort’s  example and demonstrated what it looks like to love the gift and not the giver.

How often to we do this, value and honor our life, our family, our jobs, our things over the One who blessed us with these things.  We are all guilty, we are all sinners, we all desperately need Christ.  We are also ensuring that our kids are aware that my husband and I are just as guilty, we are not perfect or sinless, we make mistakes and need to repent from our sins and turn to Christ.

This week’s devotional we took on the second commandment.

““You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”  Exodus‬ ‭20:3-6‬

It is very easy to fall guilty to having idols, we do it all the time and don’t even realize this is what we are doing.  We idolize God as this loving forgiving God who won’t punish us for our sins.  We pray our wish lists to Him.  Idolatry is dangerous because it is so easy to fall into.  But breaking God’s law has severe consequences, if He punished us the way we truly deserved it would be unimaginable.

So with this weeks devotional in trying to teach and show the kids that God’s law is God’s law whether you believe or follow it we used the law of gravity as an example.  God of course is the Creator of natural laws, the natural lof of gravity.  My husband got to drop a raw egg and this definately got their attention, intentionally drop and break an egg!  He did it to show them it does not matter what we do we cannot defy the law of gravity because, it is indisputable that if you jump off of a cliff you will fall to a traumatic result of the law of gravity.  

The goal of having them visualize the consequence of defying one of God’s natural laws so we could impress on them on the power and consequence of defying God’s moral law.  We minimize our sins because we don’t see the immediate consequence of our sin.  However just because  we don’t receive immediate punishment we deserve does not mean that God’s law is not being disobeyed.  How quickly we turn to idolatry to justify and downplay our sin.  We need to have a healthy fear and respect of God and his law to truly be saved.  We can not repent of our sins if we are unable to reconize sin as sin.

 

My husband has done an amazing job leading our family devotional.  Not an easy task, with multiple children at varying ages and learning abilities at times it’s like herding cats to keep them on track.  Overall these have gone over really well and the cherry on top is that the all actually are participating and enjoying it 🙂

So to follow up and follow through with our new direction of devotional I have been working with them in the car on our ride to and from school.  We have been talking about the first and second commandments daily, reviewing what it means to follow them, and what it means to break them.  

In an effort to establish starting our day with the Lord and focused on Him we have established a blessing time in the mornings.  I ask one of the kids to lead us in a blessing for all of us to start our day.  They have been enjoying this as well, one morning I didn’t initiate blessing quick enough at the typical point in our drive when I would initiate and I was reminded by our daughter that we need to do our blessing.  

Another area that we been trying to encourage them in is having a servants heart and actively be seeking ways to be kind to others.  Every morning I discuss with them trying to find a way to show someone kindness during their day.  I encourage them to be on the lookout to help someone that needs it.  To look for ways they can serve others, even if it is a small way. I have challenged them to find a way to be kind or help someone anonymously.  So far none have them found a way but it’s only been a couple of weeks.

“Dear children let us love not with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1John3:18

Then on the way home we have discussion and learn who found a way to be kind.  One at a time I ask them about their day and if they found a way.  Some days are more successful than others but I feel like this we are making progress.  I also take time to tell them if I had found a way to show kindness to someone in my day.  We certainly cannot expect them to live to standards we as parents are not modeling and being the example of.

 The goal is encourage them to start their day in prayer and actively be looking for ways to serve, be kind and honoring to the Lord.

With the Lord leading us Matt and I will continue with this part of our parenting journey and continue to teach our children about God’s law, the severity of sinning against God and in turn showing them their own sin and this will lead them to a true conversion as a follow of Christ.  

These few weeks I know I am feeling more convicted, my heart is transforming and growing in my relationship with the Lord.  I can already see some small but positive changes in the kids, our family and home.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You so much for blessing us as parents!  What an awesome and challenging responsibility you have given us.  Please continue to lead guide and direct my husband and I in raising, teaching, discipling, encouraging, correcting and loving our children.  They each are a blessing from You.  I pray that we rise to be the parents You have called us to be, to teach and show our children how to love You, serve You and live their lives to glorify You.  I pray for strength, courage, wisdom and patience in this incredible journey.  I pray that my husband and I can be godly and humble examples for our children to look to us and see Your love.  I pray that our family devotional time continues to capture their attention and convicts their hearts and that they can see their sin for sin and truly repent and come to Christ.   Lord thank You so much for my husband and our children and blessing us so abundantly.  

In Jesus name, Amen. 

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—>It’s complicated <—

Being a parent is basically hard, challenging and just out right impossible at times.  Being tasked with the responsibility of being a mom is quite possibly the most difficult task I will be given in this life.  Children unfortunately don’t come with step by step instruction manuals.  There’s parenting advice galore out there especially these days with all of our social media, good advice and bad advice everywhere you turn and filtering this advice that comes at you from all directions.

 

As I sit back and look at how much goes into being a parent and just how much responsibility lays in our role it is quite overwhelming.  Then top off all the basic parenting tasks and add on the extra element of being part of a blended family or single parent role to the mix and you have taken complicated to a whole new level!  Co-parenting is difficult and intense with a cooperative parent that has the same belief and values.  Unfortunately more times than not the co-parent will not being any of those things and makes being a parent 10 times more complicated and challenging.


 

I feel like my husband and I are constantly scrambling and searching for this fine line to walk—-> raising them in this world and teaching them how to not be part of this world.   As much as I long to put my kids in a bubble and protect and shelter them from everything, it is just not possible to shelter them completely and protect them from all the evil and ungodly influences of this world.  And even if it were possible that would place them at a huge disadvantage to be sheltered in that way.  So you need to allow them to be in the world at the same time keeping them from becoming part of the world at the same time you are leading them to know Christ.

 

I was deep in thought pondering this daily dilemma earlier while running away taking out my frustrations on the treadmill at the gym.  This happened to be a family gym day and we had our crew of kids with is at the gym today.  Today is one of those days it was a struggle to get some of them to come to the gym. A little bit of whining about not wanting to go, questioned on why do they have to be dragged to the gym to exercise.  I find this battle quite frustrating and feel like it’s a losing battle most of the time. We have our good days when they come to the gym willingly and put forth good effort and leave the gym smiling after enjoying their workout asking when we are coming back.  But then we have the bad days when it’s struggle, and it is on those bad days that I am so tempted to give up and tell them fine just to stay home while my husband I get in a good uninterrupted work out without distraction.  But giving up is not the answer.

We certainly cannot force them to want to exercise and most definitely cannot force them to enjoy it.    This really leaves us with one option; what we can do is continue to bring them and set the example, lead them and teach them by showing them how it’s done.  We can simply show them that we enjoy exercising and being healthy and let them see the positive results from this. Then praying that the example you set takes hold and one day they can recognize the importance of exercise and maintaining the health of their body.

We can face our children’s salvation in the same manner.  The best we can do is be a good witness, to set the example for them, show them how to live a life for Christ, pray for them to be saved and LET GO, get out of the way and allow God to handle the rest.  Put down on paper it sounds so stinking simple…

Not so simple though, not for me anyway.  I struggle each and everyday and fail in many ways in my witness to our children.  I get so frustrated when I fail, I have really good intentions but am human and frequently fall short.  One of my biggest downfalls is not being joyful in all circumstances, letting my emotions and circumstances of the moment control my words, actions, facial expressions and moods.  I am working at this, slowly giving it over completely to the Lord and I am His work in progress, some days I do better, but each day a step in the right direction.


 

“Come follow me” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people”  At once they left their nets and followed him. —Matthew 4:19-20


  
I don’t want our kids to make the same mistakes I made.  I don’t want them to know God in their mind but not truly know Him in their heart, I don’t want them to be consumed by this fallen world and slipping into the darkness before living in the Lord’s light.  So with each day I will continue working on allowing God to strengthen and mold me into the mother and wife He created me to be and let my witness and example be what our children need to come to know Jesus. And I will fight for them on my knees in PRAYER…..


 

Heavenly Father above, please guide me and give me strength and courage at a mother and a stepmother.  I pray my witness will be true and bold.  I pray that our children will be able to look to me and see You, that I will let Your love shine in all areas of our life, I pray for a joyful heart even on the trying days when I want to be short tempered and rude, please soften my heart and strengthen my spirit to let go and let You take over.  Lord You know my heart and the areas that I truly need to surrender and allow You to take over, please God take all of me and let me be the woman, mother and wife You intended me to be, I pray to have the courage to chose Your way over everything else in this fallen world.  God thank You for the honor, privilege and responsibility of being a mother, our children are truly a blessing directly from You, let me never take this for granted and always treasure being a parent even during the difficult moments, let me praise You and bring You Glory.

In Jesus Name- AMEN


Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus   1Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Weeds are evil.

  
Earlier this week I spent hours in our small vegetable garden on the side or our house pulling out weeks and weeks worth of weeds.  This is by far one of my least favorite and dreaded household chores, and explains why it had gone weeks without being properly unkept. Such a tedious task of having to hand pull each evil little weed out of the dirt away from the fragile vegetable plants we are hoping to produce food for us.  However the more weeds that grow and surround and consume the vegetables the more likely the plants are to not produce vegetables or even just give up and die.  It amazes me just how quick the weeds are to grow and flourish and begin to overtake gardens.  You would think that after having let this happen over and over, every time I attempt a vegetable garden and every year with my flower gardens I let the weeds accumulate for weeks before tackling the task of weeding.  Which is quite ridiculous and silly since if I remained proactive and pulled the weeds out as they grew in one or two at a time and kept up wth it then it would not come to the point of having to spend hours bent over in the dirt pulling out the weeds. Somehow I still don’t learn my lesson and year after year let the weeds accumulate to a much larger task and moan and complain the entire time I have to pull out the weeds and vowing to not allow them to get so bad again….. and then the cycle just starts over and I let them accumulate again……

So the other day when I was bent over in the dirt in the summer heat with spiders worms and other bugs as my audience certain verses from the bible started popping in my mind….. When Jesus talks about reaping and sowing.  I started think about our children and how we plant seeds with them all the time.  We can plant all kinds of seeds with our beloved children, seeds of faith, honesty, love, goodness and the list goes on and on, we can plants seeds in them all day long but if we don’t keep the soil healthy they don’t stand a chance to grow and produce fruit.  In my mind I can see the weeds as all the evil in this world they are exposed to day in and day out.  It’s our responsibility not only to plant seeds and water them but to keep our children from becoming overgrown with weeds.  

So I have been turning this concept over and over in my head trying to better understanding and plan for how we can actively improve on this in our home with our children and here is what I have come up with….

1) The seeds we plant with our children first and foremost needs to be faith in God and obeying God and then move on from there to loving others and being kind, ect.  However we need to be very aware that the seeds we plant can also be bad, we can be planting seeds of anger, doubt and other negative things if we are not careful.  We need to be planting the good seeds within our children.  

2) We need to keep the soil healthy and water the seeds we have planted. I feel this is so important and can be so easy to neglect this part.  We need to keep their soil healthy by being an example to our children of how they should speak act and behave.  We can not expect our children to learn to live a certain way of we as adults are not even capable of setting the example for them. Another essential way to keep their soil healthy is by the power of prayer, we need to be praying for them constantly.  Prayer is our ‘Miracle Grow’ we need to be covering them with the Holy Spirit all the time.

3) Pulling the weeds- we need to be aware of what our children are being exposed to within our home and outside of our home.  What they hear on the radio, from friends at school and church, all of this can influence them whether it’s negative or positive. We need to accept that it will be impossible to keep them away from all negative influences however we can work to limit the amount of negative influences in their lives and work to educate them on the difference in good and evil as we surround them with positive influences.
   
 
““This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:11, 15‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him.”‭‭Genesis‬ ‭26:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  ‭Galatians‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”  John‬ ‭12:24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  ‭John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬