Is It Well?

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When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll.

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

“It is well, it is well, with my soul”

Can I say that? Is it well with my soul? This classic hymn of our faith states the contrast between peace that flows like a river – constant, unending peace. The opposite is sorrow that is like a sea billowing, overflowing.

Peace vs. Sorrow.

Yet, the hymn goes on to say that “whatever my lot” it is well with my soul. It is difficult to accept that peace and sorrow should have the same result – acceptance. The only way that is possible is for one to have the belief that God has a purpose for life. That God will use everything one faces in life to fulfill His purpose –  and that the purpose is ultimately good.

I have recently attended the funerals of three people close to my age. Two of these were very sudden, unexpected deaths. The other was the result of a battle with cancer. Sorrow came crashing like waves on those loved ones left behind. The comfort of God’s peace will come as the sorrow ebbs away. Yet it will take time to sense that peace.

When our children face the loss of a loved one, it is important to talk with them about the sorrow they feel. It is helpful to let them cry and see that others are mourning the loss as well. Don’t try to “be strong” for others. Open, honest sorrow is normal and real and children need to see that.

It is also important to talk about the peace we can feel as we trust in God. We do not  understand why, but we trust in God’s love.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

God’s peace will allow us to honestly say “It is well with my soul.”

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Being an Example

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As an art teacher, I have found the most effective method of successfully teaching my students a new skill in artistic expression is demonstration!

Now I can just imagine many of you thinking – DUH! (If you have been around high school students recently you are thinking – HELLO!)

Obviously we learn best by seeing others do it the right way. We recently did a lesson on form (3-D objects) and learned to create origami forms. Many students had trouble reading the directions. They even had difficulty when I verbally told them what steps to take. Yet when they saw me or another student folding a paper crane – they were able to fold one themselves.

As parents we often want our children to obey our instructions. “Do what I say.” Are we leading by example? We want our children to tell the truth. Have they heard us lie on the phone? Do we say to our child, “Don’t tell your dad I bought you a donut today. I don’t want him know”. We are setting an example of hiding information. It may not seem important, but actions do speak louder than words – especially to little ears and eyes.

Romans 2: 21 (Amplified)

Well then, you who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you teach against stealing, do you steal ?

That is very plain. We must follow the example we desire to set for your children.

When we do something that we realize is wrong – admit it to our children. I once told a friend of our son that I didn’t know where he was when I DID know. I wanted our son to come right home and thought if the friend called him, they would go somewhere else.

I became convicted of the error of that lie and later confessed and apologized to our son’s friend. I was wrong and I needed to admit it.

We will make mistakes as parents, but God is faithful to forgive. Our goal should be to lead by example.

Kindness

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I was reminded yesterday during the Sunday School class I attended with two of our daughters and their husbands that God demonstrates kindness to us daily. It is easy to focus on the judgement of God and the often devastating results of the sin that we see all around us in our world. Yet if we are honest, we must admit that God shows patience and love to us even when we don’t deserve it. The Sunday School class is studying Romans and Paul wrote this letter because the Jewish Christians were requiring new Gentile Christians to be circumcised. Paul begins telling these Roman Christians that they do not have a right to judge and are actually condemning themselves when they judge others. (Romans 2:1)

Romans 2:4 is a verse that jumps out at me each time I read it and one that we as Christian mothers and grandmothers need to take to heart.

Romans 2:1-5 (NIV)

2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

God’s kindness is what leads us to repentance. How can we apply this to our interactions with our children in a way that will lead them to repent – not to us – but to their Heavenly Father? When the woman broke the bottle of perfume on Jesus’s feet and washed His feet with her hair – it wasn’t because he had shouted at her and told her that being a prostitute was sinful. Her repentance came because she felt God’s love through His son Jesus. Jesus didn’t have to say, “Now you know how bad being a prostitute is… it is sinful….” No – that woman knew she was full of sin. She also knew Jesus would forgive her and cleanse her heart.

Mothers of small children have the important task of teaching their children right from wrong. Lying is not just a bad choice – it is wrong. As our children become older and begin to make choices based on what they have learned about right and wrong, parents must then help children become sensitive to their conscience – the voice of the Holy Spirit in choosing behavior that is right. We parents will not always be with our children and it is important that children learn to respond to God’s leading at an early age.

I remember one of our daughters coming in to us crying because she had lied to us and felt very convicted. We had no idea she had lied to us. We were so thankful her heart was tender toward God. She still suffered the consequences of her lie, but we showed love and acceptance of her desire to repent. Doesn’t God do that to us? God does NOT beat us over the head with our past sins – in fact He buries them as far as the East is from the West.

Let’s be agents of God’s loving kindness to our children just the way our Heavenly Father shows kindness to us.

Helicopter Mom

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Definition of HELICOPTER PARENT (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

: a parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child

Is that a problem? Is it really possible to be overly involved in the life of your child?     The answer is YES!

There are certainly situations that require more parental involvement than others. Newborns need complete care, yet it is generally beneficial to allow babies some time away from mom. This may be leaving them in a room alone, letting them have “tummy time” without the parent holding them, and even allowing them to cry a bit if the parent is sure that the child is safe and secure.

Special needs children may require constant monitoring, as do children who are ill. There may be times when a child is afraid or has experienced trauma and loving attention is beneficial. It is important not to judge the attention a parent pays a child when you may not know the circumstances that initiate the behavior or the parent’s response.

The term “helicopter parent” has emerged in our culture to describe parents who are orchestrating their child’s life for them – or attempting to do so. This leads to many adverse results. Children will learn that they are not responsible for their actions – “mom will fix it for me.” They may begin to believe that they are not capable of making decisions or problem solving. The most devastating result will be their lack of recognizing God as the Good Shepherd who desires to lead and guide them throughout life.

I was reading about the mother of James and John, the disciples Jesus referred to as the ‘sons of thunder’. Their mother was a follower of Jesus herself. She, along with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James followed Jesus cared for His needs.

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” He asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

Matthew 20:20-23

Can you imagine going up to Jesus, the Son of God, and asking Him for a “favor” for your child? Mary had seen Jesus do miracles and she obviously believed that Jesus had the authority in Heaven as well as on earth.

Jesus’ response was interesting. He asked a question, as he often did when someone asked Him a question. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” When they said yes, He agreed, yet told them He was not the one to grant position in Heaven.

Mary, a true helicopter mom, wanted the BEST for her sons. She knew Jesus was the Messiah. Yet she, along with all the disciples did not realize that suffering would be part of what they faced as His followers. Mary most likely believed Jesus would set up an earthly kingdom as the promised Messiah and free God’s people from bondage.

It sounds as if Mary was trying to plan her sons’ lives and make sure they were situated for the positions they “deserved” in God’s kingdom. Yet in reflecting on this, I realized that I have prayed MANY times for God to smooth things out, even intervene on behalf of my children. In looking at my own heart – I have been a helicopter mom myself. I have asked Jesus for privilege on behalf of my children.

Instead of being the “helicopter mom”, I must learn to pray “Thy will be done” and intend it with my whole heart. It means my child faces suffering in the future.  It means putting God’s will above everything and everyone else. It also means God accomplishes His plan in our children’s lives. The apostle Paul says,

2 Timothy 1:11-13 (NIV)

11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know Whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

My most important responsibility as a mother is to entrust my children to God’s faithfulness.