Chapter 3 in the Shepherding a Child’s Heart book study talks about how each child or person worships something. Either we worship God the creator or we worship the creation/idols (anything that takes the place of God – praise, knowledge, worship of self, etc.). Our job as parents is to point our children toward the One who deserves worship.
We cannot always control the shaping influences in our children’s lives (things like death, job loss, our spouse’s habits, etc.), as some are simply out of our control. But that is not a reason to lose heart. God is bigger than those circumstances. The book reminds readers of the story of Joseph, whose mother died at a young age, whose father favored him, whose brothers were jealous of him and ultimately sold him into slavery away from worshipers of Jehovah, and on and on, and yet he kept his faith in God throughout. This gives me hope. I remember that even though I may (and do) fail as a mother time and time again, that God is still working and I can trust Him to do a work in my children’s hearts if they will surrender to Him.
At the end of the chapter, Tripp says “In all of this you must pray that God will work in and around your efforts and the responses of your children to make them people who know and honor God” (p. 26). Let that be our prayer today.
Father God, when I am tempted to give up or get discouraged because things get difficult, help me to persevere. Remind me that you are the one who is in control and that you will work around my own mess, only you have called me to be faithful to the task you’ve given me. Please soften my children’s hearts that they may see that you are the only one worthy of worship. Amen.
Ok, so we are now into Chapter 2 in the Shepherding a Child’s Heart book study. This chapter focuses on the life experiences that are shaping influences in our children’s lives. They include things like:
- Structure of family life (birth order, number of generations living in the home, ages and number of children, etc.)
- Family values (what the family sees as most important, secrets that are kept within the family, family boundaries, etc.)
- Family roles (the role each member of the family plays, who pays the bills, how involved each one is in the family, etc.)
- Family conflict resolution (how parents and family members tend to resolve conflicts – talking it out, walking away, buying things, etc.)
- Family response to failure (how failures are treated within the family, whether they are mocked, put down, encouraged, glossed over, etc.)
- Family history (the general events of childhood – births, deaths, health/sickness, moving, marriages, divorces, stability, job loss, etc.)
What stood out to me most in this chapter was that how Tripp explains that while these shaping influences certainly affect our children, they are not “helpless victim[s] of of the circumstances in which [they were] raised.” We must do our best, as we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, to provide good influences for our children, but, “Your children are [ultimately] responsible for the way they respond to your parenting.” God is the one who changes hearts, not us. He is the one who saves, not us. That is both scary (because I desperately want them to come to faith, and it would be so much easier if there was just a magic formula to follow that would guarantee that!), and freeing at the same time (as a parent who will frequently mess up and fail over and over again, it is such a blessing that this responsibility does not rest on me but on an all powerful God!).
Last week I mentioned that I am doing a book study on Shepherding a Child’s Heart with the ABC Jesus Loves Me/Our Out-of-Sync Life group. Today we are reading chapter 1 and I wanted to share some thoughts with you from the book.
As I read chapter 1, the thought that stood out to me the most was this:
You must learn to work from the behavior you see, back to the heart, exposing heart issues for your children. In short, you must learn to engage them, not just reprove them. Help them see the ways that they are trying to slake their souls’ thirst with that which cannot satisfy.
Wow, that hits home doesn’t it?
Read that last sentence again: “help them see the ways that they are trying to slake their souls’ thirst with that which cannot satisfy.” Ouch. I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of doing this as well. How do I help my children see this if I don’t start with examining my own heart? How many of my own actions and choices are because I am trying to satisfy my soul with things or people or actions when I should be going to God alone to satisfy those needs? When I put others down or criticize them, am I not doing so because I want to make myself feel better or perhaps because I am jealous or envious, instead of being content and thankful for what God has given me? When I get angry with my kids, isn’t it often because of my own self-centered attitude that wants things done my way and doesn’t want to be inconvenienced, rather than being patient and seeing these times as teachable moments?
I guess my take-away from Chapter 1, even though it is not expressly mentioned in the chapter, is that I need to start examining my own heart first before I can help my children examine theirs.
For lunch today the kids and I wanted some oatmeal, but I didn’t have a lot of time. I went to the cabinet to get some instant oatmeal (don’t judge!), and realized we were all out. So I decided to try making my own on the stovetop and the results were really good! This recipe made enough for me and my two boys with approximately the same amount as three packets of the instant variety. Make yourself a bowl and enjoy!
Quick Stovetop Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
1 cup quick cooking (1 minute) oats
1 cup milk*
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp. butter*
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash each, cloves, nutmeg, ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
Brown sugar to taste
Ground flax seed (optional)
In a saucepan, combine milk, water, butter, and vanilla and heat over medium heat, stirring regularly, until boiling. Stir in oats and spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in applesauce and brown sugar (I used about 2 tbsp. and it was fairly sweet) and remove from heat. Stir in flax meal if desired, let sit for 2 minutes to cool and thicken and serve.
Servings: 2-3 (1 cup servings)
*For a vegetarian version, use almond milk and vegetable oil or coconut oil
Cars. Trucks. Trains.
Pretty much, if it has wheels, my boys like it!
Lately their wheeled obsession has been monster trucks. They have a number of these big-wheeled trucks and they like to line up their cars and drive the trucks over them. So last week when we were walking through the library and I happened to see the title Monster Truck Adventures, I knew it would be a great pick for our next Sunday Family Movie Night!
Monster Truck Adventures is about a young monster truck named Meteor and his group of friends (Meteor’s dad is the famous monster truck Bigfoot!). In these short 13-15 minute episodes, Meteor and his friends learn about moral lessons such as patience, kindness, and friendship, while doing things that monster trucks do: racing, doing tricks, and splashing in the mud! Each episode ends with a summation of the story and lesson and a Bible verse to reinforce the lesson. The moral message reminded me of VeggieTales, though at times the lessons felt a little heavy-handed or even cheesy, but it works for this age group (designed for ages 4-9), and my boys loved it!
These DVDs are “Dove Approved” (you can find reviews of a number of the DVDs here).