Monday, May 25, 2009

Not my child! Dealing with Bitterness in Parenting

Ephesians 4: 31-32 "Let all bitterness . . . be put away fromyou . . . Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

Last Friday, I was sweating away in a workout at my gym, when a worker from the Kids' Zone came up to me and said I had to come change my baby's dirty diaper. Well, when I arrived at the childcare area, a set of unhappy faces met me and asked, "Are you also Carter's mom?" My heart sank. I affirmatively responded, and they told me that he had been reprimanded for a fit (they don't know the reason he was having a fit), and he was put in a time out, where he proceeded to scream and cry for half an hour. I was so disappointed in Carter. He is strong willed, but he usually obeys authority and does not throw screaming fits.

I gave up on working out again that day, and I promptly pulled Carter aside to "chat." He apologized to his teacher, got a spanking, was ominously told to "wait until your daddy gets home and hears about this" and was removed from getting any treats that day--no tasters from Costco right after, and there were some good ones that day!

I was VERY serious with him, as was Ryan when he got home, so I thought the heart issue surrounding the screaming fit was fixed for now. At least, I thought, he knows that the screaming fit was COMPLETELY unacceptable. Well, the same Friday, Ryan and I left Carter and Micah at my in-laws so we could have a date night. We arrived back to find out that Carter had indeed had another screaming fit at bedtime. I was SO discouraged and embarrassed. Needless to say, Carter had a repeat of the previous punishments (apologies, spankings and heart training chats) AND missed out on ice cream and cupcakes the next day at a party (a huge deal to my little junk food-a-holic).

I was not happy with Carter in the least. I felt discouraged and overwhelmed. However, this naughty day revealed some sin in my heart. The next day, I was re-reading Feminine Appeal, by Mahaney, when I came across the chapter on being angry, bitter and judgmental toward our kids and husbands. Bingo! I acknowledged I had been all three toward Carter. He deservingly was punished for his behavior, but I realized I was SO angry and bitter not only because he had sinned, but because his behavior had made ME look like a poor parent and had embarrassed me at two locations where I hope to be seen in a positive light. I had to stop and confess my sin right then and there.

Mahaney explains that bitterness happens in our hearts when a person close to us wrongs us. It can be big or little things. For instance, she explains that when your husband leaves his socks on the floor, it isn't a huge deal. However, if he does it habitually, even after we ask him to not do so, we get bitter and resentful. We have most likely let bitterness enter our hearts when we replay a wrong in our minds, wallow in self-pity over a hurt, or withdraw affection from that person. Mahaney also points out that when we are bitter and resentful, we are forgetting our own sins against God. We forget our part in putting Christ on the cross. We cannot forgive others because we have forgotten how much we are forgiven.

After I understood my bitterness from that Friday, I was able to better forgive Carter and parent him joyfully and correctly. Check your heart for bitterness. It could be seeping into your heart when that door is slammed by a family member for the umpteenth time, when your child gets in trouble at school, when your best friend accidentally slights you, when your husband fails to thank you for the special dinner you made, when you get in your car and realize your husband left it on empty for you, when you are cut off in line at the supermarket or driving your car, when your sleeping baby is awoken by the noisy neighbor, etc., etc. We are not immune to it. Recognize it and confess it. God is faithful to forgive us and restore us, and that brings such peace and comfort!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Biblical Parenting Resources to Use with your Kids

Most of the readers of this blog go to my church, but, for those that don't, I couldn't resist writing down some great resources from today's sermon. We just wrapped up a 5 part series on parenting at Compass Bible Church. You can always listen to and download the sermons for free by going to and then clicking on the Focal Point link. The series was called "Passing the Baton." It is well worth a listen!

Today, our Pastor ended with some practical "how-to's" for parents and those with any exposure to kids. First, we are to train our kids to think Biblically. To do this, he underlined the fact that parents HAVE to be teaching the kids constantly at home. Relying on AWANA, Christian school, or church to do all the Bible teaching is not going to do it. This is the point where Pastor Mike went over all the book resources he recommends for different ages. The list was GREAT, and our Amazon and bill is going to be big in future months! I'll copy it to the bottom of this post.

The second point was to make sure your kids' hearts rely on God. The main way to do this is to make sure you pray constantly in front of your children. They will see that mom and dad rely on God. Pastor Mike stated that he prays with his family EVERY time they get in the car to go somewhere. They go through their Christmas card photo cards they receive each night at dinner and pray for a family or two. They pray for other countries or missionaries abroad during morning prayers. In addition to praying, Pastor Mike said you have to teach your children to give and not rely on money or grow attached to money. His children have a tithing jar next to their piggy bank, and a part of their allowance always must go to God. In addition, he makes the youngest kids, who don't understand money, give away "stuff," and not just stuff they don't want anymore.

Finally, the third point was to require your kids to go to church and to serve at church. Pastor Mike said it is unacceptable to let your kids decide whether or not they go to church. He treats it as he would school. As long as they are under his roof, his kids have no choice. Plus, they are required to serve in a capacity that makes sense for their age. His youngest kids are to reach out and talk to new kids. His older ones help with organized serving opportunities at church. The whole series was amazing. I recommend a listen! Here is the list of books recommended for children (listed by age):

• • • Resources For Toddlers • • •
Taylor, Ken. The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. Moody Press, 2003.
Walton, John, et al. The Tiny Tots Bible Story Book. Chariot Family Publishers, 1993.
The Candy Cane Press Series: The Story of Adam & Eve; The Story of Noah; etc. (several others in this series)

• • • Resources For Pre-Schoolers • • •
McDowell, Josh and Dottie. The Right Choices Bible. Tyndale Kids, 1998.
Taylor, Ken. Big Thoughts for Little People: ABC’s to Help You Grow. Tyndale House, 1990.
Lewis, Karen. From Arapesh to Zuni: An ABC Book of Bible-less Peoples. Wycliffe Bible Translators, 1986.
The Help Me Be Good Series by Joy Berry: About Disobeying; About Lying; About Whining; etc. (others in this series)

• • • Resources For Elementary Kids • • •
Fabarez, Mike. Bible Survey for Kids: A Simplified Interactive System. Focal Point Ministries, 2009.
Beers, V. Gilbert and Dan Foote. The Step by Step Bible: A Panoramic Journey Through God’s Word. Chariot, 1999.
Schmitt, Betsy. Sticky Situations: 365 Devotions for Kids and Families. Tyndale Kids, 2006.
Ware, Bruce A. Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God. Crossway, 2009.
Spraggett, Daphne, Window on the World: When We Pray God Works. Authentic Press, 2007.
Taylor, Paul S. The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible. Chariot Victor Publishing, 1998.

• • • Resources For Teens • • •
Fabarez, Mike. The Partners Program for Teens (A 33 Chapter Workbook). Focal Point Ministries, 2008.
George, Jim. The Bare Bones Bible Handbook for Teens: Getting to Know Every Book of the Bible. Harvest, 2008.
Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ: Student Edition. Zondervan, 2002.
Little, Paul. Know Why You Believe: A Clear Affirmation of the Reasonableness of the Faith. Victory Books ,1987.
Newman, Robert, et al. What’s Darwin Got to Do With It? A Friendly Conversation about Evolution. InterVarsity, 2000.
Geisler, Norman and William Nix. From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible. Zondervan, 1993.
McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Evidence I & II. Thomas Nelson, 1999.
Sire, James W. Chris Chrisman Goes to College: And Faces Relativism, Individualism & Pluralism. InterVarsity, 1993.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Micah is 2 months old! (and 12 pounds)

Micah is almost sleeping through the night! I feed him around 10 and then again at 5:45 in the morning. He is full of smiles and loves to "talk" to mommy and others. He is a social guy. He hates being alone in a room and is completely content when there are tons of people around, even if they aren't talking directly to him.
Carter still isn't sure he LOVES having to share the attention, but he is getting gentler with Micah. He thanks God for "baby brother Micah" every night and asks me where he is whenever I'm not holding him. It is cute seeing Carter become Micah's little protector.