Thursday, February 21, 2013

Duties of Parents (Part I)

On the girltalk blog I recently read that, “If you only read one parenting book ever, read Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle."   Two weeks ago, I only needed $5 in order to qualify for free shipping so, of course, I had to order it.  ;)  I am loving it, but I’m also convicted by the millions of ways in which I fall short as Aidan’s mama.  Ryle gives 17 duties for parents, and I’ll share with you the first three (with more to come):

1.       Train your children in the way they should go, and not in the way that they would [go].
Because of original sin (thanks, Adam), our children have a natural bent towards evil.  The only thing we can be certain about as parents of little ones is that they will have a “corrupt and sinful heart” (Proverbs 22:15, 29:15).  Ryle writes, “Self-will is almost the first thing that appears in a child’s mind; and it must be your first step to resist it.”  How true this is!  “I don’t want to, Mom.”  “No, I want a cookie not a banana.”  These were just a few of yesterday’s comments from my 2.5 year old.  As loving parents, we must think for our children, act for them, and not allow them to give in to their wayward inclinations.

2.       Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience.
I hear so many parents – even those in the Church – who speak to their children in a way that makes me cringe.  It breaks my heart.  Ryle encourages just the opposite - parents are to be kind, gentle, patient, sympathetic, and loving toward our children.   He says these are the “clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart.” 

“Sternness and severity of manner chill them and throw them back…But let them see that you have an affectionate feeling towards them, – that you are really desirous to make them happy and do them good, - that if you punish them, it is intended for their profit…”

I also like how Ryle compares children to young plants – they are weak and tender creatures.  They need gentle watering a little at a time.  This reminds me of what a friend said recently: She chooses one thing about each of her girls that she wants to train them in (i.e. coming immediately when they’re called) and then focuses on that one thing for month.  “We must pour in the wine of knowledge gradually, or much will be spilled and lost.” 
“Love is one grand secret of successful training.”

3.       Train your children with an abiding persuasion on your mind that much depends upon you.
As noted above, our children have a natural bent toward evil.  Thankfully, the call of God in the life of a believer, by grace, is irresistible.  But Ryle reminds us that after nature and grace, education is the most powerful shaping tool in the lives of our children.  “We are made what we are by training.”

He quotes Cecil:
He has seen but little of life who does not discern everywhere the effect of education on men’s opinions and habits of thinking.  The children bring out of the nursery that which displays itself throughout their lives.

And Englishman Locke:
That all of the men we meet with, nine parts out of ten are what they are, good or bad, useful or not, according to their education.

Our children have minds like clay in their early years; we must use this for our benefit (and theirs) and train them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).  Let’s go forward training our children in obedience, trusting that the LORD will turn the water into wine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Psalm 23

We all know Psalm 23.  In fact, it’s one of those chapters in the Bible that I often skip over because I very pridefully think, “Oh, I already know what that says,” or “That’s for Christians who are just learning about the Bible,” because it was one of the first chapters I was ever introduced to as a new believer.

However, during a recent lament to my husband about my many hopes, dreams, and desires (from simple things such as a white crib & dresser for our girlie to big things that seem impossible such as a Reformed, classical education for my children) that I feel may never come to fruition, he simply and lovingly responded, “Remember Psalm 23, honey?  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  I shall not want. 

As I read and pondered verse 1, I was struck by God’s precious promises in the verses that follow.  What does He promise to do?  “Make me lie down in green pastures…lead me beside still waters…restore my soul…and lead me in paths of righteousness.”  Why?  For his name’s sake.”

Those promises are great, mighty and incredibly comforting.  Although my hopes and dreams may turn out differently than those that God may have for me and my family, I can trust that they will be what is best for me – knowing Christ and Him crucified – it is in that knowing and resting that I will find comfort and rest for my weary, lusting, sinful soul.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Monday, February 11, 2013

Sitting at the Feet of Jesus

People have frequently asked me, "So why aren't you blogging anymore?"  Unfortunately, the real answer is that I have had nothing to give.

Last fall one of our women's Bible studies was by Nancy Leigh DeMoss on the importance of spending time at Jesus' feet in the mornings (Mark 1:35, John 8:2).  It's in these sweet moments with Jesus that we find, "...wisdom for walking carefully.  We obtain guidance for daily decisions.  We find peace in the midst of life's whirlwind.  We are infused with the strength to complete our tasks," (Shopping for Time, pg. 42).  
The first third of this pregnancy completely wiped me out, and I didn't spend time with Jesus in the mornings.  I required so much sleep; I would sleep until the shouts of "Mommy!" awakened me each morning, and I'd race to my bed as soon as I put Aidan down for his nap each afternoon.  The nausea kept me from friends and ministering to others.  But thankfully, by God's grace, I am feeling more and more like myself each day.  

And because I have begun again to sit at the feet of Jesus each morning, He fills me with His glorious self so I have something to give again.  I think my passion for Christ is coming back - therefore, I will blog!  I will tell you about all the books I've been reading, the four awesome devotionals I purchased at last week's Pastor's Conference, and about all the the LORD has been teaching me during this long, hard winter in rural Iowa.  

So watch out...cuz I'm back!  :)
Let me encourage you to spend time in God's Word and prayer each morning before your day begins.  Sitting at His feet each day is the most important thing you can do for your body, soul and family.  C.S. Lewis wrote in regard to our "Martha" (Luke 10:38-42) tendencies:
It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.  All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.  And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.
It's pertinent that we first listen to that Other voice each morning, as Mary did; communion with our Savior is of first priority.  From personal experience these last few months, I can verify that there is nothing greater or more life-giving than my sweet mornings with Jesus before my household awakes.

A few picture updates:

 Yesterday church was cancelled due to the freezing rain so we enjoyed a very fun family day of tractors, diggers, Candyland, and
I painted a magnetic chalkboard in the kitchen; I just love it!  However, I only got three coats of magnetic paint on before I decided I was probably going to retard this baby inside of me due to all the fumes.  So I'm waiting on my dear hubby to finish it up with chalkboard paint and trim.

Two weeks ago, Brian hosted Zion's First Annual Men's Retreat, Stepping Up!  Fifty men from Garner and nearby towns attended.

One of the new books I'm very excited about is Christine Hoover's The Church Planting Wife.  Although I'm not a church planting wife, it's very helpful for pastor's wives in any sort of ministry.

Lastly (and most exciting), we had our anatomy ultrasound last Friday.  We were giddy with delight when we were told that our baby is very healthy and developing on target.  At 18 weeks, Aidan had cysts on his brain and this baby is cyst free!  We were able to see the two hemispheres of the brain, and all four chambers of the heart - it's simply amazing.  We will reveal the gender soon...