the model parent


I am a list-maker.
I love a good list.
I even write things on the list that I have already done that day…just so as I can cross them off my list. I sit on my bed after my shower and gaze into my wardrobe. I’m thinking about what i will wear and in what order I will get dressed. I am all about having an action plan.. and theme music.

When you have a plan (and Eye of the Tiger playing in the background) then you OWN doing the dishes, you attack the pile of clothes and you are a force that all dust and dirt must be reckoned with.
I think maybe there should be more purpose in parenting.
A little bit more offense than defense.
A little bit more training and modelling than discipline and damage control.

What if you had goals for your children? Like, not just the general goals of, “you know, happy and healthy and stuff.” Not just thinking, well obviously I want them to be good kids. But what if you sat down and said….
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.
What if, you assessed these fruits of the spirit in your own life – looked at how you model gentleness and self-control. What if there was purposeful training of your children in these things.
Wouldn’t that flow onto and into their behaviour?
Do I want my kids to not bully the kids next door, because they are not allowed to… or do I want them to have learned and seen kindness displayed in our family and our relationships?
Do I want them to not steal from the jar of marshmallows (It’s a pretty big jar…and i like the pink ones) because they are scared of getting caught? – or because they have self-control and goodness?

I definitely have rules and boundaries in my home for my children and there are consequences if they are broken. But more than well-behaved, I want my children rooted and sustained by scripture. There is purpose to my parenting that goes beyond surviving each day… especially those days.
There has to be graciousness in my parenting – which is hardest to do when it is most needed. There needs to be purpose.
I look at my 2yr old and see a need for kindness in her. So I pray for kindness in my own life, in my own day, that I can model and show it to her. I seek ways to encourage and train her in kindness.
I think that is the key to her being the kind of 2yr old that doesnt bully her neighbour anymore.
What goals do you want for your kids? What can you train them in this week?
Can you go a week without raising your voice in anger?
Do you model prayer and scripture to your children?
Can you show them appreciation and gratitude for all that they accomplish?
Do you show self-control over your temptations and cravings?

Are the prayers for your children  – visible in the life you are modelling for them?
I know that whenever I look at my children and think about their ‘training’ – I am always convicted of my ‘modelling’.

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please explain


the scene opens with the family sitting in the lounge room. waiting for the return of the hunter/gatherer (who had hunted for his car keys and was now gathering Red Rooster)
Out of lazy desperation, I switch the TV on to entertain the hungry brood in these long minutes.
Welcome into my home easy distraction. I love you.

On the TV this night was Meerkat Manor – you know the show that follows all the Meerkats and gives them names like Flower, Romeo and… I cant think of any more…
Anyway, they have names.
Its like Animal Planet meets Bold and the Beautiful.
And my daughter is enthralled by it. She is getting excited and wanting to know what these creatures are, where they live and can we get one. She then asks for an explanation, and I respond;

No honey, they are not all boys… those are their tails.
why are their tails standing up like that?
that’s just how they run…. with them sticking up like that
why don’t people have tails?
God didn’t make people with tails, so we mustn’t need one
why do meerkats need their tails?
i don’t know – maybe balance
why don’t you know?

The dialogue goes on. Most of it is Evie asking why and me, well, not really knowing why.
It is amazing how interesting the world is, and how we get to explain it to our kids.
There are a lot of questions they don’t ask though
Things they just accept because they don’t know any different.

My family, my beautiful children are going to have a difficult life in some ways. A lot of unknown things will rise before us, unsettled periods, 6months in Australia, 3years in mission… It might be a shock and a witness to my friends that we will pick up and move overseas to serve God.
It might be a witness to my neighbours that we do not value possessions, that we worship God and go to church.
But to my children, it will be all that they have ever known.
So… what I am saying… is that I need to take time to explain to my children.
I need to ground them in the truth of the bible – that they will rely on that throughout the turmoil of the mission lifestyle, I need to explain to them why it is important for us to go to church and why we do it.
I need to explain and remind my children that though they know no different – we are different.

I hope to always have dialogue with my children about our life.
About the decisions we as parents are making for them.
I pray that they understand and find joy in our sacrifices and blessings.
So that our faithfulness as parents will be transparent,
and effective in strengthening theirs.

Revolving


My children gave me a revelation.

Becoming a parent is an amazing thing, it gives you great insight into the ‘father’ love of God. It gives you great insight into unconditional love.
But my children gave me an insight into the art of being a follower.

One afternoon, my daughter is begging me for attention.
mum
I’m at my computer, busy with something or other.
muuuuumma

They just wanted my attention. They had done something I had asked and wanted my affection and approval. Some times I cast them aside with a distracted, o wow hunni, or a glance and unenthusiastic yeah.
My girls just want to please me, their world revolves around me.
They imitate me
I see their cute wiggle as they dance awkward and gangly – just like their mumma
I see them licking the last little bits of ice cream from the bowl – just like their mumma
I see giggles, impatience, expressions, mannerisms and flaws – just like their mumma
Because I am their whole world.
I am all they know at the moment and all they want to be.

Maybe that is what the bible means when it says the kingdom belongs to them.
If God was my whole world,
Then I would wake and sleep revolving around Him.
I would do all I could do to please Him.
I would follow and imitate.

God is my Father – and we spend a lot of time thinking about what that means for Him.
I am his child – and that means something for me.

1question, 2answers, 4bowls of ice cream


There are 2 couples who love the Lord dearly.
They drop a couple of kids into the mix and an interest in the mission field.
Then a question is raised one evening, over ice cream.
Though we all finish our ice cream… the question is unanswered.
To the blog, I say, all hail the blog.

So – both parents agree totally that children are a gift from God.  We agree that they belong to God and that we as parents as just guardians over them, entrusting to raise them in Christ and to the glory of God.
No arguments there.
But what is responsible stewardship?
This question divided opinion & caused a night-long debate involving many bowls of ice cream, hot chocolate and the agreement to disagree.
The question was placed in this context –
Is it responsibility to move to an area or country that is considered persecuted or dangerous – deliberately at the risk of your children -to witness for Christ?

One answer was no.
It is not responsible Christian parenting.
God has entrusted us, as parents, to keep our children as healthy and safe as is in our power. We are to commit to raising them in truth and right Christian living, to witness to the world around us. But our responsibility as parents cannot allow us to endanger our children.
Why would God bless us with children if he planned a life of danger and persecution for us? If that was God’s intention for our lives – then we would (as the Apostle Paul did) remain single. To be free from the responsibilities of parenthood – to take the gospel to these places.
Yes – it would be wrong and disobedient to NOT go somewhere God commands you – but God would not command a parent to physically endanger their child. He would not give a gift of responsibility such as children – to then demand its misuse.
God would not command, or approve of parents who take their children to war zones, closed countries, tribal situations or any other physically precarious countries and situations – not even in attempt of His service.
That answer was a ‘no’

The other answer to that question is (obviously) yes.
God would command – and does command parents to follow Him, even into certain danger & persecution. In the bible, in the book of Matthew – Jesus says that if we love our families or our children more than him, then we are not worthy. If the welfare of our children is more important to us as parents, than the Glory of God and the proclamation of the gospel – then we are not worthy.
The bible says that it is God who gives, and God who takes away. It is God who knows every hair on our head and the number of days appointed to us – and to our kids. It is God who is sovereign over the countries of the West, of tribal countries, militant nations, impoverished nations and closed Islamic countries.
It is in God that we should put our hope and align our path. It is His commands that we should follow… and He commanded us to take the gospel to every tribe, to every tounge. He didn’t give free pass to Christians who are scared, to Christians who are married, to Christians who are reluctant or to parents who want to shield their children. He said that we should take up our cross… and follow.

Now, I know which side of this debate I was on.
I love, love LOVE my children and I want with all of my heart from them to be safe, for them to be happy and to grow in age, maturity and faith until they are old ladies and men. But more than I desire their happiness, I must obey my God. More than I desire their protection, I must proclaim Jesus Christ. More than I want them to grow old, I want them to grow in faith.
My beautiful children do not belong to me – they are Gods. He would have them live in persecution and danger for the sake of His name. I cannot deny God what does not belong to me.
I cannot – though I am so, so tempted.

Now, I am not saying that the only faithful parents are those living in ‘dangerous’ places. And I am not saying that we should all let our kids play out the front of our homes on the road – I am saying that I, as a mum, believe that God is king over my family. I believe that he has the lives of my precious ones in His hand and were they to be safe or were they to be killed – it is all in His control.
I believe ‘responsible parenting’ is to walk with my children & my God – though a minefield rather than to endeavour to keep them safe by my attempts – here in Australia.
All the eletrical plug protectors, seatbelts, helmet, rules and supervision in the world is no match for the sovereign providence of God in the midst of gunfire.

That is why I answer yes.

I won’t date you


 

Ok, so I am not particularly against Date Nights themselves.

I am just not convinced on the whole – separating your marriage from your parenting – thing. I just wonder, how much of this ‘protect your marriage’ and ‘don’t let your kids get in the way’ idea is healthy for your family? Now, I am all for getting out with my hubby and spending quality time together. We have done it before and I would do it again. (I have experienced 24hour room service now… and I loved my 3am chips and gravy.
But that isn’t my point.)

…mmmm…chippies…

No… back on target.

If we have the attitude, that to make our marriage thrive = we have to take time out from our children.
Then I think we are in danger of having a skewed view of our children for one (that they are inconveniences, hindrances or even worse – stumbling blocks or adversaries of a good and happy marriage); denying them the example of a loving relationship ( a model for their marraiges and relationships in the future) for two and putting the ‘steadfastness’ (unsure if that is using that word correctly?!) of our marriages down to getting ‘time out’ or ‘romantic dates’.

I am not writing this as the perfect wifey of the perfect hubby who exist in a perfect marriage – Heck no! We had a mexican stand-off last night over Hot Chocolate. That is not marriage-maturity people!

But I am a wifey who is married and has kids. That is the stage we are at in our lives.
We are a family.
When we want to spend time together – we all go out together – we spend time all together.
Now, I believe I am a wife first, and that my first responsibility is to my husband. He is my other half and I am ‘cleaved’ to him. I am not talking about having a marriage that is solely about raising your kids, I am talking more against the world’s advice… that your marriage is a measured on your ability to make time away from your kids.

I think you can talk to your husband over pushing a swing. I think you can snuggle up and watch a movie with your kids. I think the depth of your marriage can go beyond your children’s understanding or a G rating – without having to make a distinction between when you are a wife and when you are a mother. I am ALWAYS somebody’s mum. Trust me – even at inappropriate moments, even at 1am, even when I went away for those 5days with my hubby. I was still inescapably – a mum.
But I am always wifey…even when my hubby isn’t home, even when he leaves his wet towels in the bed or is explaining some exceptionally boring story about trusses and steel frames. I might rather go and play play dough at those moments but I am wifey first.

I want to honour my husband, I want to value my children and I want us as a family to honour God.
I don’t think that these should be divided up and done separately.
I don’t think the strength of your marriage is measured by candlelit dinner, movies or weekends away. I hope that I am a loving, respectful and attentive wifey – and that this is modelled to my children.

I think the way I am a wife to my husband – is an important role in raising my children.

nappybag, i love you.


 

The problem with nappy bags (or diaper bags) – is that they are actually necessary. And it is this fact which makes them immensely dangerous to me. I have loved and lost many a nappy bag these past 4years.

First; they woo me.
Hanging in the shop, they say to me, “I am unbelievably useful and practical.” and “I am actually quite trendy and cool – you will be the coolest mum carrying me around.” or even sometimes – when I am a bit unsure, “You could just keep me for the pram, or the back of the car till we see if it will work out between us?”

Then, it becomes serious between us.

I take it to the next level and bring this new nappybag into my home, I introduce it to my kids, I make part it of my life. Sometimes this comes at the expense of the feelings of my previous nappy bag – sometimes – even, I bring home a new nappy bag a little on the sly. But then, inevitably, I wear an outfit or feel in a mood that nappy bag can’t live up to.
I get lazy and forget to pay nappy bag attention – i just grab a nappy and wipes and put them in my regular handbag.
I do this all without thinking of nappy bag’s feeling.
I don’t know what to tell you.
It’s me, nappy bag… it isn’t you.

Man, when I look back on the last 4 years, I have spent money on nappy bags that I didn’t need to spend. (my hubby coulda told you that at every interval in those 4years…but I’ll let it slide) It isn’t that I have a love of nappy bags in particular – though i do love bags. It is my materialistic side coming out into the open. Just because i can justify it under the heading of ‘needing’ a nappy bag.
It has got my thinking though, about the way I behave in front of my children. (well, my girls in particular i guess, 1 because they are girls and 2 because my son is 11weeks old – he notices nipple and poo… that’s about it!)

My 4year old in having stress attacks about wanting to wear a dress, she wants to look pretty, to get her hair done in just the way she wants it… she is stressing about all these very superficial things.

They are not abnormal behaviours for a 4year old girl, or so i am told?

But they are not really what I want my daughter to be focusing her attention on.
I don’t want her to judge her worth on her outwards appearance.
I don’t want her to judge her beauty on her outfit or accessories.
I don’t want her to value possession and looks in her friends and heroes.

How do I combat this trend in her?
Especially when she sees me valuing new possessions, when she sees me apparently having superficial ‘needs’. When she sees me fling wide the doors of my cupboard, sit down with a sigh and survey in dispair a wardrobe of ‘nothing to wear.’
I have gained weight since having kids, I swear that I have an extra bumcheek somewhere in my jeans, I have excess tummy that I could fold up and tuck into a nice pair of massive undies (you know the kind, that go all the way up – to try and smooth out the bulges) and I have boobs that I have to retrieve from my waistline to pile into my bra every morning – I agonize in front of the mirror when trying to get dressed, just like the next mum.

But is this the example I should be setting to my daughters? Can I combat superficiality, misguided self-confidence, materialism and worldly self-worth in my daughters- when I have modelled all of these traits not 5 minutes before?

There is a balance between taking pride in your appearance, looking nice and expressing your style – and the pitfall of ‘needing’ clothes and things that you really don’t need. I am wondering – where on the scale am I? Do I look for the approval of man – or God?

What kind of scale do I want for my daughters?

‘Style and accessories’? or ‘Fearfully and Wonderfully Made’?

the Brady Bunch


Ok, here is a one to think about.

I was watching a movie a while ago with my Evie – it was Disney’s Hercules – and I suddenly thought to myself… Wow. this is an alternate religion being depicted here. I wonder if i should be shielding my daughter from this?
Then i looked thoughtfully at her collection of movies in general.
There are ‘kids’ movies that depict religious ideas (Hercules, Mulan) and movies that promote childish disobedience and defiance (Little Mermaid, Jungle Book) and that isnt even touching on the movies that include ideas of vanity, superficiality, materialism and a premature introduction to romance.

I asked myself, should I be shielding my 2year old, my 4year old, my children… from these movies?

Now – on one side of the coin, there are those who vote for no. They are works of fiction, for entertainment and not really a big deal. Do we shield our kids from everything of the world? home-school them, only associate them with christian families and live in a christian bubble?
There is truth in this.It begs the question – How could my family shine as lights in the world (Matt 5:16) without ever actually associating with the world? Do we make our children into the freaky ‘christian-cult-kids’ who dont watch tv or play normal games.
(im thinking a non-yellow version of Rod & Tod Flanders!)

But I got to thinking about what my children’s movie collection says about my family in general. What it says to others about what my family believe in. I question myself;

But where is the line drawn in the sand? – when do we stop living in the world and become a family that looks like everyone else, talks like everyone else, fills our minds with the same things as everyone else. Generally – how do we stop our children from being of the world?
It seems like a big deal to me of course, I mean, I want my kids to be liked and popular and not persecuted by the western culture for their faith. But is that justification? Is that biblical?

Just because something is funny, entertaining or normal….does that make it appropriate?
Just because something is funny, entertaining or normal…does that mean it is unacceptable to have to sacrifice it?
Is it a big deal?
What am I teaching my kids? Do I use my leisure hours to show them (& the world) that God is more important to me than movies, music or my entertainment in general.

I know I could intervene in their viewing – explain the concepts that are being portrayed in these films and explain what God thinks of them – but that isnt really the point. The point it, What am I filling my kids minds with? 2hours of a movies about greek mythology to counteract a 10min bible story before bed?

Can i hack being called the ‘christian Brady bunch’, the ‘weirdos’ or ‘freaks’ for the sake of my faith?

Is God going to be ok with how I answer this question?

compete with me


The biggest support for mothers, is other mothers.

It happens that way, when you have kids or get married or have any kind of life change – you gravitate towards other people at the same stage of life as you. They understand what you are going through and (especially with kids) understand the restrictions and lifestyle you have.
But I am beginning to think that the biggest negative influence on mothers, is other mothers.

Have you noticed when we get to mother’s group – how we compete with each other? Who has had the harder day? Who has the laziest husband, the tighter budget or more dramatic birth-story? It is a whirlwind that I easily got caught up in.
It is understandable of coarse – being a full-time mum is a full-on event and I can not say that it isn’t stressful and hard. I mean I have left the house before and realised that I have the full-set. Poo, Wee and Vomit – all on me, at one time…out in public.
But I would have an ok morning, get the kids out of the house dressed and ready without much drama, arrive at playgroup and my kids were suddenly a stress and burden, i needed coffee and to just sit down for a minute.
Why do we compete? Is it for sympathy? For parenting brownie-points? To justify somehow what we do, in staying home with the kids? I don’t know the underlying reasons but I really believe it happens.

I ‘thought’ my way into a lifestyle of stress. I had read so many books on parenting, listened to so much advice and looked the part of the busy, tired and harassed mum so well that my attitude towards my parenting (and my kids) was the whole reason I was stressed out – not actually my kids themselves. I ‘fitted in’ so well that I lost the joy of birthdays, christmas and time spent with my kids.

The worldview of kids is not a good one.
The young and ‘free’ view them as a hinderance, pitied are the mothers and fathers who can’t go out and enjoy their days and nights because they are stuck at home with their children. The parents view them as almost another commodity (although loved more). They complete the list; house, car, kids, pets etc.
Parenting them is as simple as making sure they are dressed, fed, schooled and as long as they are not behaving badly – they are fine.

Am I alone in thinking this? Am I imagining conversations turning into competitions?
I felt caught up – so I decided (and prayed) for a change in my attitude. I would not make a negative comment to or about my family. I prayed for joy and for patience.
What I got was a peaceful, happy house and peaceful, happy kids. I am not saying I don’t feel like a good sook at times, but I noticed an emerging attitude in myself-about my kids.
From now on, I choose to view my kids as a ministry and blessing….

Input & Output


 

I think one of the greatest difficulties in being a Christian mum, is that I feel a huge disparity between the amount of spiritual ‘input’ i have and the responsibility of my ‘output’.

I mean, every parent across the globe feels the weight of being the model and example to their kids whether they are christian or not.  Being the ‘whole world’ to somebody is a massive deal.  But for the believing mum, every moment from when I wake, every moment of short-temper and every situation that arises – is a moment where I should be teaching Christ to my kids.

Well, that is just it isn’t it – they are my kids… but only in the sense that they are actually God’s kids and I am blessed to be steward of them. They actually completely belong to Him & I will be accountable one day for how I spent my moments of motherhood. Which, when I remember a lot of the moments I have lived so far, is a daunting thing.

This huge weight of responsibility on a mother’s shoulders is made all the heavier when I sit back and wonder where my days have gone. Did I spend time with God in those days that i seem to have skipped? (Cos I swear I have only just finished the last of the Christmas dishes and it is August today) When was the last sunday I got to stay in the entire Church service, or listen to the teaching undistracted?

How do I stand before my children as a Godly mother, an example of Godly living – if I am not immersing myself in God’s Word, and in time with God? Without God I am just another stressed out lady with way-too little sleep, body image problems and 3kids to get dressed in the morning. (that is if they have any clean clothes in their drawers!)

So here is the truth -I don’t really know what I am doing, I have tried downloading sermons to listen to. But I realise I am in danger of knowing full-well what John Piper says the bible says…but not actually what the bible says. I have tried involving my kids in my quiet time… but that is difficult still. (peanut butter & a 2yr old means a sticky end to Isaiah)
I have passages of Bible stuck up on the wall above the sink, I pray when I am in the shower & can’t hear the kids, or when I have a moment alone on the toilet
(which i always wonder at the appropriateness of this? Imean, it’s poo…is this sufficiently reverent? )
Still I feel un-saturated in God.
So, what is the answer? What do mothers do to spend time with God? How do I grow in Christ? Cos I don’t know what I am doing and what I do, do…I don’t do well.

What I do, do…
now i wake every day and (after coffee) pray this prayer. That God will draw me closer to Him. That He will be the driving force behind my faith today – that He will ignite in me a passion and need for His Word today that it supersedes exhaustion, apathy and vacuuming. That He will take my ‘mustard seed’ and just run with it.

I don’t know the theological ins and outs of this – but that is my prayer. Because far out, I love my kids and I can’t raise them without Jesus, and Jesus can’t use me without prayer….

…and caffiene….but mainly prayer. 🙂