Teaching kids serious lessons about God, the Bible, and theology does not always happen in serious ways. We’ve talked about this before, right?
A few weeks ago we had a fun but profitable conversation at breakfast regarding our purpose in life. I can’t really remember how it started, but we began talking about how silly it was for people to think that they could take their life (which God had made) and use it for what they wanted (instead of His glory.)
One person started and then another and here is a sampling of what we came up with – minus the giggles:
Using your life to please yourself is as silly as…
…using a plate for a washcloth
…or a rosebush for a chair
…a cup of water for a hat
…or a table for a blanket
…a shark for a ship just would not be a good idea
…nor orange juice for window cleaner (but I’m tempted to think someone on Pinterest has tried)
One child who shall remain nameless suggested a piece of wood for a bench.
It was a ton of fun, and yet I pray just one more tiny step towards solid thinking from good theology.
I trust that at some point in my life being late to church on Sunday morning will be a thing of the past.
But with multiple small children and a husband who usually has responsibilities at church before the girls even get up, being late on a Sunday morning is a semi-regular part of my life. I will say for those who may be brand new mommies and are about to be completely discouraged, I have a way better chance of being on time now with four small kids and another on the way than I did when there was just one or two. Life really does get easier.
Because being late is now semi-regular instead of constant, I’ve started to see how much being late can influence your mindset going into corporate worship.
(This is not about how to NOT be late, it is about how I try to think WHEN I am late.)
For those who follow Christ, Sunday corporate worship is essential. It’s something we look forward to all week long. On a completely temporal level for moms with little kiddos, it can be a chance to drop them off in the nursery or Sunday school and fix your mind on eternal truths while briefly leaving behind the immediacy of diapers, feedings, discipline and endless questions.
Bottom line, we have every reason to want to be on time or even early for church.
But… sometimes we wake up late. Sometimes we’re completely unprepared from Saturday night. Sometimes a toddler chooses an inopportune time to decide he doesn’t like eggs. Sometimes fixing four heads of hair takes longer than you planned on. Sometimes you have to take a different route because of a bike race. It seems like every force in the universe is plotting to thwart your plans to be on time.
#1 – Being late happens.
The most discouraging mornings for me are the ones where I had everything completely prepared, where I got up ridiculously early, where nothing catastrophic happened… and still I was late. How many times I have complained in my mind, What’s the point of trying so hard if I’m still going to be late?
No, you’re not a failure. No, it will not be this way forever no matter what. No, it was not a waste to try hard. Easy to write on a Monday night, but very hard to tell yourself on a Sunday morning.
Which brings me to the next thought.
#2 – Every truth that you’re going to church to celebrate and rehearse is changed NOT AT ALL by the fact that you’re late.
Just recently I’ve learned to think about this as I get the girls ready and drive to church on a morning where I know we’ll be late. The glory of Christ’s work on the cross, the grace of God in forgiving and adopting His enemies, the comfort of the Spirit teaching us every day, the hope of an eternity with Jesus as King of Kings – all of these are steadfast truths that will never change. To imagine that somehow my little being-late escapade has any impact in eternal matters is laughable. I have to make a concentrated effort to think on things that are true and good.
To beat myself up over such a thing is really just an odd symptom of self-centeredness. Believe me, on many occasions through the singing or teaching at church, the Holy Spirit has gently shown me where I was wrong, or careless, or uninterested, which caused the circumstances around being late. But I have to let Him do that. Punishing myself over being late just clouds my mind from the One who can truly search my heart. And sometimes honestly, God just gives you a peace that it was just the way it was that day and it’s okay. See #1. = )
#3 – Being late is not an excuse to sin against your children.
To ask my three-year-old who is accustomed to thirty minutes for breakfast to hurry and eat in seven is just not wise. Ashamedly, I have been through so many Sunday morning breakfast’s where I have constantly been saying, “Girls, be quiet. We have to eat. Stop talking, we have to eat. Eat faster. We only have two minutes left!” (to finish three-quarters of a plate) Not going to happen.
Lately, the Lord has been teaching me to truly own when something is my fault and not to place the blame or the burden of hurrying in this case on my girls. I need to give them plenty of time to eat. Either that or have a really good back-up eat-in-the-car plan. (which usually doesn’t work anyway) Complete aside: Did you know my kids won’t even Pop-Tarts fast on a Sunday morning? Oh, the strategies I have tried to save time. Seriously! They didn’t even eat the Pop-Tarts. Like I’m giving you sugar you’re normally not allowed to have, but nope.
But I digress. When one of them comes to me crying and stomping because she can’t get her arm through her sleeve (and is not really even trying because of a bad attitude) I still have to respond with kindness and wisdom. Patience doesn’t get temporarily marked off the list from 7-10 on Sunday morning.
One of the biggest reasons I want to have everything ready for Sunday morning is so my girls can remember it as a time of joy, of looking forward to going to church together. I don’t want it to be a time of snapping and nagging, of empty stomachs and rumpled clothes all in the name of keeping up appearances for this weekly event.
When the mornings come where I know we’ll be late, I have to choose to still be like Christ. To still let the gospel adorn my speech and actions inside this house where only the little people see. I hope that His kindness and love is what they will remember.
#4 – Understand that others probably understand.
I have a particular problem with my pride where being late is concerned. I’m a pastor’s wife and I should be able to get there on time, right? I love to be early. I want to see people and talk to them and not have to slip in like a loser five minutes after everything has started. I don’t want people to think that I don’t care. But when I apologize all over myself or refuse to be consoled by people who assure me it was like that for them at this time of life, I’m really just revealing how concerned with my image I am.
Life will move on. Another chance to be on time will come in just seven more days. More than likely I’m a harder judge of myself than those around me. Get over it and keep going.
One of the biggest benefits of controlling your mind when you’re tempted to bottom out because of being late is that it helps you to enter into the worship service sooner. This is what I mean: when I (89% of the time) am so upset over being late, I have to spend a lot of the Sunday school or worship hour getting over the usual mental clutter that comes with being late. Which means I am completely deaf to the truths being sung or taught. I’m oblivious to the help and comfort that is right around me. However, when I set my mind to rejoice anyways, or maybe to be late rather than getting upset at my kids… I can sit down in the service and begin soaking it in immediately.
This in the long run is much more beneficial than being punctual but frazzled or grumpy.
Now, if you think I’m trying to just make excuses for being late, I’m not. There are so many reasons to be early, and I promise I try every single week to be early. In fact, it was one of my New Year’s Goals and there’s actually been a lot of improvement. Yay!
I could write an equally long post about what I do to try to be early; things that have worked and have not worked -like the Pop-Tarts. But one, there’s already posts out there like that, and two, I think it’s important to think through how we respond even when things don’t go according to our desires or plans.
This may seem like a tiny topic, but I have found it to have a huge impact on my Sunday’s, my family, and my week.
Thanks for reading my thoughts; I’d love to hear yours!
We live in a second story apartment surrounded closely by seven other families.
In the last year we have moved from safely maneuvering four kids up and down the stairs to teaching them how to consider others in how they go up and down the stairs.
After several attempts to explain consideration, stepping lightly, being quiet… an idea dawned:
No elephants on the stairs!
And they got it!
Of course, they took it to the next level, “Be like cats and cheetah’s!” Cheetah’s is because sometimes it takes forever. But I try to downplay the cheetah thing as safety is still the number one concern with them being little and everything.
Have you ever thought of a ridiculous line that helped your kids finally get what you had been working on for months?
Why this… as the end to 31 days of training my kids?
Because in my mind, it boils down to creativity and consistency. Neither of which are possible without our Faithful Creator. I get the blame for all the mistakes and He gets the glory for all the victories.
I have to be honest, I have enjoyed this series/challenge; but I’m also very glad it’s done.
I have learned a lot.
Hopefully, I’ll post about that some time in the future.
In the meantime, you have thirty-nine minutes left to enter the giveaway… and the competition is heating up. = )
Thank you so much to all who have read and encouraged. I’m so thankful for you!
Don’t forget my sister and I did this together! I have completely loved her series! Thanks so much, Laurie, for going through this craziness with me. You’re the best!
In the interest of mixing it up here at the end, I thought I would talk about two specific things where I really take my hands off.
They’re completely unrelated.
The first is how very young children treat a new baby. My girls were all very young when the sibling after them was born. Really, they were young enough to not even have jealousy or other what-happened-to-my-mommy issues. That being said, I realize that what I’m about to say will not apply to everybody.
I tried very hard to not be overly careful or stressed about how the toddler treated the new baby. Rough hugs, kisses, squeezes… even the occasional toy being tossed at them enthusiastically were all okay. For some reason, I didn’t want there to be an immediate connection in their mind between “new baby” and “No.”
We said “Shhhh…baby’s sleeping,” “Be gentle,” and yes, “No,” when Hope was pulling two fistful’s of Sophia’s newborn hair.
But for the most part, it was “Hey look, this is your future best friend!”
Next is slightly more serious in my mind and also perhaps a little more unconventional.
There’s no cool way to say it, so I’ll just blurt it out: I let my kids play with my Bible. Even when they’re young and prone to wrinkle, fold, or even tear it, if they want to sit on the floor and page through it, I’m okay with that. Don’t get me wrong, intentional disrespect and dismemberment is duly treated.
But here’s my thought: I don’t want (again) their first connection between them and the Bible to be “No.” I want my kids to love the Bible. I want them to read it for curiosity, for fun, and eventually for nourishment.
So if they pull it off of the shelf or the desk and start to flip through it, I’m not going to take it away.
Are there some Bibles in our house that have paid the price? Absolutely. Two of my Bibles currently have a few pages stuck in the back after having been torn out. But in my mind, it’s a small price to pay to nurture a love for reading God’s Word even at the earliest years.
We talk about how special the Bible is, how wonderful it is to read it, how God has been so kind to reveal Himself to us through it, and how to treat it carefully. But let’s face it, a two-year-old is probably more likely to catch on to “Hey sweetie, I’m so happy you’re reading the Bible,” than “I’m going to take this now and you can have it again when you can turn those flimsy pages perfectly.”
Does it work? Only time will tell; but this is something I’m willing to take a chance on.
Do you have areas of purposeful lenience in your parenting?
(and hopefully this won’t be the last post in the series even though I didn’t finish it before midnight; one more and then we’ll be done!) = )
When we were expecting our first daughter, it didn’t take us long to settle on the name “Hope.” Her name has several layers of meaning for us. One in particular has just happened this past year.
There will be days where I feel like I’m constantly working with the younger girls to just obey.
How hard can this be? Your life (and mine) would be so much easier! I really am doing what’s best for you!
Sometimes in the middle of these days I’ll mindlessly ask Hope to go do something. “Take your shoes to the room, bring me a diaper, go brush your teeth, whatever.”
And she does it. And then I think, “Maybe, when they’re five, they’ll just do it, too.”
Though she’s certainly not perfect, Hope for the most part obeys with a good attitude. Sophia even does most of the time. I have to stop and realize that they are two to three years further along in this process than Gracie and Mckayla.
There really is hope!
This wouldn’t have occurred to me at all until my third or fourth child. (This is one of the blessings of having so many close together!) I can see in living color the different stages of learning obedience. I can remember when I thought we would never get Sophia straightened out with certain issues; and now that we’re re-living many of those with Mckayla, it doesn’t feel quite as hopeless.
I guess my point is, tonight, if you only have one or two small children and feel like you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel… it’s there! It might take a few more years to see it, but faithfulness to God’s Word will bring fruit!
If you feel like you got a late start and are just now beginning to work with older children, persevere!
The goal is not to make your life more comfortable. Four and five year olds have their own unique challenges- that we’re just beginning to learn. But the goal is for your child to bend that oh-so-destructive will to their parent’ authority, and eventually to God’s.
My sweet little Hopey brings me joy and peace in so many ways.
Put two chairs facing each other. The child sits in one and the parent sits in the other. Use a timer (I use my phone) and set the timer for one minute.
Each person must sit there with their hands folded and their mouth closed until the alarm goes off.
But it teaches the all-important skill of sitting still!
We actually start out at thirty seconds. When I felt that the girls were ready, we’d bump it up to a minute, then a minute and a half, two minutes, and three minutes.
Three minutes is the goal! (according to the Scheibner’s)
All in all, when I do this with all four kids, it takes about ten to fifteen minutes. Every now and then we let everyone go twice, but most of the time everyone just does it once. Of course, the older girls get longer times and the youngest is still working on thirty seconds.
Now here is where I have to confess.
I’m terrible at doing this!!
Which is so frustrating, because it helps the general welfare so much!
I don’t do it every day, but I should. Some weeks I don’t do it at all. But when I do, I’m always very, very happy.
I think it communicates a few things to your kids.
1. Daddy and Mommy are helping you learn how we expect you to behave.
2.You can sit still!
3. Self-control is a vital skill in life that you will need from now until the day you die.
Here are a few situations where having this “skill” can really save you:
1. Before meal time. “Okay kids, everybody at the table. Fold your hands and practice self-control until we’re ready to pray.”
2. When a child is having trouble stopping their crying. “We’re going to fold our hands and close our mouths until you are done.”
3. When the wiggles come during church or any other need-to-be-quiet-at function.
4. When a child is getting so wound up that they’re about to get in trouble. “Let’s sit down for a minute and practice self-control before you hurt yourself or someone or something else.”
For awhile, I did a lot better at this, but it just seems that days are so busy now that it’s hard to fit in.
But that’s ridiculous.
Doing it definitely saves time in just about every other area.