Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study: Chapters 5 and 6

shepherding a childs heart study

This week, chapters 5 and 6 of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study are going to be discussed together. I was glad that these two chapters were combined, because I must admit that I read chapter 5 with a raised eyebrow. However, chapter 6 explained Tripp’s point a bit better.

Chapter 5 examines some unbiblical parenting goals, including the following:

  • Developing special skills (excelling at extracurricular activities)
  • Psychological adjustment (building a child’s self-esteem)
  • Saved children (getting children to “pray the sinners prayer”)
  • Family worship (ritualistically praying and reading the Bible every day)
  • Well-behaved children (having children who are well-mannered and possess social graces)
  • Good education (scholarly achievement)
  • Control (simply controlling children’s behavior)

Just reading Chapter 5, you might, as I did, question if all of these are bad goals. Isn’t having a child come to salvation one of the greatest goals of parenting? Shouldn’t we be teaching our children to worship? Tripp, however, says that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever…. From their earliest days, they must be taught that they are creature made in the image of God – made for God. They must learn that they will only ‘find themselves’ as they find him.” In other words, we must not focus on the goals above for their own sake.

In Chapter 6 Tripp talks about reworking your goals “in light of the chief end of man – to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Tripp explains how simply developing special skills as a goal in itself can lead to pride or self-trust. While having a biblical worldview about such activities “dictates that you should teach your children to exercise and care for their bodies as an expression of stewardship for God’s gifts. Abilities should be developed because God has given the stewardship of talents and special capacities.” It can also be a “valuable way of providing family unity and oneness.” Having a goal of saved children makes the mistake of looking for “the major spiritual event of salvation [praying the sinner’s prayer] and misses the spiritual process of nurturing your children.” Family worship, too, is “a means, not an end. It is a means to the end of knowing God.” Manners must be seen as “an expression and application of the duty of loving my neighbor as myself” rather than “an elaborate means of pleasant social manipulation.”  As you can see, the goals above can still be valuable activities, they just can’t be goals in themselves – the ultimate goal must be glorifying God and enjoying him forever.

His ultimate point is this:

Teaching your children to live for the glory of God must be your overarching objective. You must teach your children that for them, as for all mankind, life is found in knowing and serving the true and living God. The only worthy goal for life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart Study: Chapter 4

shepherding a childs heart study

Chapter 4 of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study covers two main ideas. The first is the idea that our authority as parents is a calling and duty given by God. Our parenting is not simply providing care but “shepherd[ing] your child in God’s behalf.” “The parent,” Tripp says, “must be aware of the fact that he is God’s representative to the child.”

The second idea in this chapter, and the one that stood out to me the most, is the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is seen as “positive instruction”; it is “corrective,” while not ruing “out consequences or outcomes of behavior.” “The primary thrust of discipline is not to take revenge, but to correct.” This correction “orbits around God as the one offended” where the “focus is restoration. The function is remedial. It is designed to move a child who has disobeyed God back to the path of obedience.”

Punishment, on the other hand, focuses on correcting our children only when their behavior irritates us. “Our correction is not us rescuing our children from the path of danger; it is rather us airing our frustration.” This type of correction “orbits around the parent who has been offended” where the “focus will be venting anger or, perhaps, taking vengeance. The function is punitive.” Tripp uses strong language saying “What I have just described is not discipline. It is punishment. It is ungodly child abuse.”

As God’s agents, we need to be sure we have clear goals in mind for correction, discipline and training. Chapters 5 and 6, which we will cover on Wednesday, discuss some of those goals.

Family Movie Nights: Mom’s Night Out Movie Review


This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, for Sunday Family Movie Nights I wanted to review a movie for moms. Last Friday a friend and I had a girl’s night out and we went to see the movie Mom’s Night Out.

Let me tell you, this was such a good movie! It was funny, uplifting, and relatable. As a Mom, I sympathized with the main character, Allyson, who was feeling frazzled in her role as a wife and mother. She and two friends decide to leave the kids with their husbands for a girl’s night out, which, of course, leads to some rather comedic results!

I liked that this movie was clean enough to bring your kids (at least your older ones) or your mom. While I’ve never left my baby at a tattoo parlor or been thrown in jail, during much of the movie I found myself saying “that is my life!” (especially when Allyson’s husband comes home to find her hiding in the closet after her children are asleep, not that I’ve ever done that or anything…. Winking smile).

Here’s the trailer:

Mom’s Night Out Trailer


So grab your girlfriends, your Mom, your family, or just take a night off yourself to see this movie!

Shepherding a Child’s Heart Study: Chapter 3

shepherding a childs heart study

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.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart Study: Chapter 2

shepherding a childs heart study

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!).

Shepherding a Child’s Heart Study: Chapter 1

shepherding a childs heart study

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.

Quick Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

quick apple cinnamon oatmeal-001

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

Family Movie Review: Monster Truck Adventures

monster truck adventures review-001

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).

Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study

shepherding a childs heart study

Over a year ago, on the recommendation of more than one person, I purchased the Kindle version of the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp (on sale right now for $1.99!). I read a few chapters, but then became side-tracked with other things and have yet to finish the book. So when I heard about the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study at Our Out-of-Sync Life, I was very excited to dig in and finally finish the book!

The main idea behind the book is reaching a child’s heart, not just correcting his or her actions. Correcting the behavior (hitting, arguing, throwing tantrums) without addressing the root issue (selfishness, pride, anger, etc.) will never result in effective, long-term change. From a Christian perspective, the root problem is sin, and the cure is the Gospel.

The book study starts tomorrow, May 1, and the assigned reading for tomorrow is the preface and introduction (who reads that, right? Oh wait, as an English teacher I’m not supposed to say that! Winking smile)

So, to keep myself accountable to completing the readings, I will be posting my thoughts and reactions here over the next few weeks.

Let me start by sharing a few insights from the Introduction. At one point Tripp says:

People frequently ask if I expected my children to become believers. I usually reply that the gospel is powerful and attractive. It uniquely meets the needs of fallen humanity. Therefore, I expected that God’s Word would be the power of God to salvation for my children. But that expectation was based on the power of the gospel and its suitability to human need, not on a correct formula for producing children who believe.

This assertion rang true for me. Just this past weekend I had been discussing with some other ladies how we wished there was some way to ensure that our children come to salvation. We want this for them because of the tremendous difference the gospel has made in our own lives and because we know that our hearts need cleansing from sin in order to be reconciled to a Holy God. But of course, as Tripp points out, there is no magic formula. We can do everything “right” and still have children who don’t believe. After all, God’s children, Adam and Eve, had the perfect Parent, and yet they still chose to rebel. Sometimes this leaves us feeling a bit hopeless.

However, I really liked the way Tripp turned the tables from putting our hope in what we as parents can do, and instead trusting in God and His Word because it is “powerful and attractive” and is “uniquely meets the needs of fallen humanity.” While I have a responsibility to make sure my parenting is in line with Scripture and that I am pointing my children toward the Gospel, ultimately their salvation does not rest on my doing everything “right.” I must trust that God and his Grace are sufficient and that the good news will draw my children’s hearts to Him.

If you are interested in joining the study yourself, you can find all the details at Our Out-of-Sync Life. And please share your thoughts here as well! We’d love to hear from you!

Taco Soup

taco soup vegetarian-001

While it is technically spring, this week has been cooler and rainy here in the Midwest, and I don’t know about you, but cool, rainy weather always makes me want a big bowl of soup!

This soup is very flavorful and easy to throw together. As I mentioned last week, during my Daniel Fast, I typically made a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week and then ate it along with a salad for lunch throughout the week. This was one of the soups I made and it was delicious!

Vegetarian Taco Soup

1 tablespoon Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, diced
3-4 cups vegetable broth (for a Daniel Fast, use this recipe, or just use water)
1 can black beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (14.5 oz), drained
1/2 can fat free vegetarian refried beans
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning (for a Daniel Fast, use this recipe to make your own)
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

In a large saucepan, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add vegetable broth (use more or less broth depending on how thick you want your soup), black beans, tomatoes, corn and seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and refried beans and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until the refried beans have dissolved into the broth and the rice is heated through.

Recipe Notes:

  • For a non-vegetarian dish, use chicken broth in place of vegetable broth and add 1-2 cups cooked shredded chicken when you add the rice and refried beans
  • For a non-Daniel Fast meal, consider adding the following toppings: sour cream, shredded Mexican cheese, diced avocado, and/or crushed tortilla chips
  • Can use regular diced tomatoes if you can’t tolerate spicy food
  • Can substitute 1/2 cup dried polenta for the brown rice

Servings: Approximately 8 (1-cup servings)

Adapted from (Ultimate Daniel Fast)