Teach Your Children Who They Are, Before The World Teaches Them Who They Should Be

"Teach your children who they are, before the world teaches them who they should be." - author Tricia Goyer

I’m not sure how or when the tradition started,but one of my favorite times of the week is when I bathe my young children.

Six, four, and three-years-old, their legs reach nearly to the end of the tub as I lay each one down. My left hand in under a back. And my right hand rinses soap out of hair. Wide eyes look up at me, trusting, and it’s then the words come:

“You are beautiful.”
“God created you for a special purpose.”
“God has wonderful plans for you.”
“I love your caring heart.”
“You have a beautiful smile.”
“God brought you to me … and I’m thankful.”

The words are never the same, but from the looks on their faces I know that they hear me. From the twinkle in their eyes, I know the words go deep. And that’s exactly where I want them to be … I want those words rooted in the deepest parts of my children’s hearts. I want my children to know who they are—loved by God, loved by me—before the world teaches them who they should be.

What was the age when the world’s messages first assaulted me?

Too young, that was for certain.

Sitting side-by-side with other children in school I realized I wasn’t as smart as others. Trying out for choir (and not making it), told me that I wasn’t as talented as I thought. The chubby cheeks in 4th grade and the garage sale clothes made me long to be someone other than myself. Yet looking back I can see that the words planted deep in my heart by my mom and grandparents did their work, even when I couldn’t see it.

“You are so talented.”
“You are smart.”
“You have pretty hands and beautiful dimples.”
“You are loved.”
“You can do it—the good plans God has for you.”

Even at times when the words (or unspoken demands) of the world assaulted, they couldn’t get to me completely.

Mark Batterson is quoted as saying, “We don’t see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.” I’d like to add something to that…

We see the world as we are, and we know who we are because those we love told us: again and again and again.

Our kids need our time and attention. They need are faith and our smiles. But equally important they need our words. They need us to point out their strengths and to praise their efforts. Our kids need to know—deep down—that we are thankful that God created them, just as they are.

The world will have a few ideas of who our children should be: thin, intelligent, neat, creative, athletic, musical … and if we let those voices pound in, all our children will see is that they fall short.

Yet with God there is no falling short.

With God there is only “just right.” With God are children are “enough.” Remind your child of that today, and tomorrow, too. And when the world’s voices come there will be no place for them, since you’ve already filled up your child’s heart, one gentle whisper at a time.

Blessings,

Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com

5 Truths for When the World Seems Against You

The world is a crazy place. Everyday we hear reports of wars, natural disasters, acts of terror and unspeakable crimes against humanity. We need only to open our browsers or turn on the television to be barraged with an onslaught of heartbreaking stories.

5 Truths for When the World Seems Against You

Sometimes, however….sometimes we need only open our eyes in the morning to be faced with unspeakable pain and suffering. Sometimes it is we who are wrestling with the universal question of Why me? and Why do bad things happen to good people?

A close friend received healing from that devastating disease; yet your diagnosis remains unchanged.

A friend announces she is expecting surprise baby number 3 and you’re still trying to keep a pregnancy viable through to delivery – and the cramps come anyway.

You pray with all your might and faith during the company downsizing, yet somehow the guy in H.R. that fibs on his monthly reports gets promoted and your husband gets handed a pink slip.

Things happen in this world – and in our own lives, in our homes – that just don’t make sense. It can be easy to wonder if we’ve done something wrong to deserve all of this. Does God love them more? Is He more pleased with their faith? Am I being punished? Has God forgotten about me?

I’ve realized something as I’ve walked through my own times of unexplainable chaos – and as I’ve walked alongside other friends and family through their chaos. I’ve found that at these times, in the real thick of it, in the fog of grief and anger, asking why often only serves to bring nothing but more doubt and frustration.

Rather than speculating about the reason, we need to be looking at what we know to be TRUE.

1. God is good and sovereign. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 It is not easy to understand (or perhaps even possible to understand) why God allows the things He allows. He has given mankind free will; and man in his heart is corrupt. But God will never corrupt or change.

2. God works for the good of those who love him. Romans 8:28 What we often stumble over here is that His definition of good and our definition of good are often very different. This takes us back to point number 1. He is sovereign, He holds the blueprints. Your pain, your tears, your confusion will not be wasted.

3. He will never ever leave or abandon any of his children. Hebrews 13:5-6 We often feel abandoned by God, but he promises us here in Hebrews (and in other places in Scripture) He will never, never, never, never, never leave us or abandon us. We do not have to fear over our ultimate fate because He is in control, working for our good, and with us the whole way.

4. He loves you as though you were the only human he created. There is no gradient to his love. Colossians 3:12, 1 John 4:10, John 3:16-17  It can be so easy to feel like God loves others so much more than He loves us. When they get the healing, the new job, the sweet baby, the perfect family…Yes, God gives good gifts to His children, but the presence of good gifts in the life of another does not reflect an absence or decrease of His love for us. Not only does he love us, but He IS Love. Just like water is H2O, God is love. Nothing we could do could make Him love us more, or less. If you need a reminder of what true, real love is like, check out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a and instead of the word “love”, insert the word God. Then remind yourself of points 1-3.

5. His thoughts and ways are not our ways. They are not always easy or comfortable, but they are in the end best. Isaiah 55:8-9 Enough said.

These things, and more, are truth whether we feel or believe it or not. He never promised us we will understand. He never promises physical healing and comfort (Paul’s thorn was never removed).

But He is CAPABLE.

Do not doubt his love for you, or your family. He is not going to give you a snake when you need bread. When things get dark and hard and scary, hold fast to these Truths – and to God’s hand – and you will weather this storm with a sweeter, deeper relationship with, and faith in, Him than you ever thought possible. A perfect, trouble free life? No. But a sweet, strengthening, hope-filled relationship with Him? Oh, yes.

Blessings,

Jen Deibel

Teaching Children Responsibility

thebettermomParenting is hard work!   There are so many aspects to it, everything from discipline to helping our children make good food choices to winning their hearts!  We also want to make sure we are teaching our children responsibility.  We are living in a culture where more and more grown children are living at home and can’t seem to be able to move on with their own lives.  God has given us the task of parenting and although we will always be our children’s parents we also want to equip our children for real life living!  They are meant to go out and make lives of their own and we want them to be ready for that!

Chores can really help us in this area.  I hear many moms say, “it is just easier to do it myself” or “it is not worth the complaining I will have to hear”, trust me- I HEAR you!!  It is often not easy but we do our children no favors if we continue down this path because in the long run it will hurt them!

Our children can learn basic clean up rules at a very young age.  I recently had my one year old nephew over and he was helping me pick up the toys.  Actually they usually love doing it at this age so it is the perfect time to start.  Setting that precedent early helps you a great deal when they are older.

I write a lot about helping families connect on a deeper level.  Working as a family is a wonderful way to do this!  You may hear complaints at first but if you make chore time and time you all work as a family consistent they will adjust and great conversations can happen when you are cooking in the kitchen together or cleaning out the garage!  Reward yourselves after the big jobs and go out for ice cream together.  You are teaching your children the value of hard work and they will feel pride in a job well done!

Here some lists to get you started:

Younger children can:

Put Toys Away

Feed and Water the Pets

Wipe Down Table Tops

Dust (they love to use the feather duster)

Water Plants

Set the Table

Throw Trash Away

Sort Laundry (great lesson on learning colors)

As they get older they can do:

Meal Preparation – They can wash off veggies and fruit/ help you stir (If you are there of course), and get ingredients together.

Make their beds

Sweep Floors

Vacuum Floors

Collect Garbage (this really helps me on garbage take out days) 

Rake Leaves or Sweep Walkway

Pick up their Rooms

Help with Care of Baby (like making bottles and getting diapers)

Help Clean up the Yard

By the time our children our teens we want them to be able to:

Do their laundry

Cook some meals

Mow the lawn

Do basic car maintenance (like checking the oil and tires)

This is helping them be ready to go away to college or for when they get their first apartment or home!  They will be grateful they know these tasks and often you will find more mature young people who save money and get good jobs at a younger age because of their knowledge in this area!

Remember when you are teaching your children, it won’t be perfect.

But you know what?

It a better thing to be teaching your children about their future and preparing them for life than to have the perfect made bed or swept kitchen!  You are raising soon to be adults and they need you to prepare them!

Blessings,

Angela, Together with Family

When Motherhood Isn’t What You Imagined

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” An uncle posed this classic question to our four-year-old daughter.

“You gonna be a doctor? A lawyer? What do you want to be?”

Without hesitation, she replied, “A dinosaur zookeeper.”

“A dinosaur zookeeper?” His eyes grew wide and sparkled. “Wow, so you’re really looking to specialize.”

Yep. That’s our girl.

When Motherhood Isn't What You Imagined

Do you remember your answer to that question? Years ago, when well-meaning adults pestered you to define your future in three words or less, what did you say? A teacher? An artist? Missionary, scientist, astronaut?

I’m guessing nobody said—someday, I want to be a mess.

But let’s be honest. After college and marriage and childbirth, mortgages, wrinkles, potty training and parent-teacher conferences, that’s exactly what many of us have become. A bit of a mess.

Because adulthood is not borne of perfectly orchestrated ideals. Real life is shaped both by our choices and what happens in spite of us.

When Motherhood Isn't What You Imagined

As parents, God has given each of us a specific calling. Our children were designed just for us, on purpose, by an intentional and flawless God. And the family adventure he assigned might not look like the life we imagined.

  • When we’re drowning in laundry and homework and smelly diaper pails, wondering whatever happened to those old aspirations, that college education, that girl who was going to make a difference in the world—before her world shrunk to one house, a back yard swing set and a minivan.

  • If you dreamed of frilly dresses and God gave you boys, or you expected a sidekick but your daughter prefers hanging with Dad. Perhaps a small part of you mourns the loss of that picture you painted in your head.

  • Maybe you’re the mom of a prodigal kid. Or a child sent to Jesus too soon in our eyes. So much heartache, so many tears. Surely this isn’t how it was supposed to be.

  • Maybe you never even planned to be a mom in the first place.

Your life is not a mistake.

Perhaps your dreams were.

When Motherhood Isn't What You Imagined

Consider Mary. I’ll bet her family plans were a whole lot different from what God had in mind. Good Jewish girls in her day got married, had a farm full of kids, then raised them into shepherds and field workers and tradesmen who sheltered their dear mother in her golden years.

But instead.

God planted a baby in Mary’s womb before she knew marriage. And not just any baby, but the Son of the Most High God. Do you think she ever doubted her parenting wisdom? Uh, probably. Then all the dreams she long harbored for her son’s future—her own future—hung demolished on the cross.

Or so it seemed.

We know the full story, now don’t we. Beginning with Genesis and ending one day yet to come, when God’s purposes for Mary’s child will be wholly fulfilled in ways she never could have imagined—God set a spectacular plan in motion. Mary was just a chapter in the book. In all her heartache, how could she possibly have known?

Yet when God handed her this assignment of mom to the Savior of the World, did Mary whine, “But this isn’t how I expected my life to go!”

Nope.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

Granted, none of us gave birth to the perfect Son of God. Maybe some days your child seems more like the spawn of Satan. But consider this: God knew, from the beginning, exactly what children he was going to place in your arms. Which means he appointed you, and you alone, the exact right fit for your kids.

You are their mother on purpose.

Can you respond with Mary’s heart and pray, “Whatever you say, God. I’m yours.”

When Motherhood Isn't What You Imagined

My daughter will never become a dinosaur zookeeper, and someday she’ll figure that out. But what she will become, by sticking close to God, is the beautiful mess he designed her to be—hardships and victories included. The same goes for you and me.

You’re not just good enough to do this parenting job.

You’re meant to do it.

God says so.

Amen?

Blessings, Becky

Becky-Kopitzke-headshot-1-2014-cropped

Becky Kopitzke is a freelance writer, speaker, singer, dreamer, lunch packer, snowman builder and recovering perfectionist. She lives with her handsome husband and their two young daughters in northeast Wisconsin, where a pink indoor trampoline fills half the once formal living room. Becky believes parenting is one of God’s greatest tools for building our faith, character, and strength—and it’s not always pretty. On her blog, Time Out: Devotions for Moms, she offers weekly encouragement for fellow imperfect moms, pointing our weaknesses, blessings, and victories to God.

For more mom-to-mom devotions, connect with Becky on Facebook and Pinterest.

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