"For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well."
I am hearing the hearts of many young mothers who are raising little ones with a sense of loss and helplessness. I certainly am familiar with those feelings recalling when my first child was placed in my arms at birth. I experienced a kind of love at that moment that only a mother does. I was truly overwhelmed with the wonder of it all. We had a beautiful little girl who was a product of our love for one another. She was perfect in every way. The nurses referred to her as a china doll. But then I distinctly remember thinking I don’t know anything about this new occupation I have chosen. I did not feel I could afford to make any mistakes, but yet there wasn’t a college course, Motherhood 101. There was no turning back now. Realizing the responsibility I had acquired absolutely overwhelmed me. I never even played with dolls. I got guns and pocket knives for Christmas, unlike my sisters.
Looking back, that was the greatest thing going for me. I knew I could never be a mother without my Heavenly Father’s help moment by moment. I knew I had to be totally reliant on Him. I only trusted Him with my children. I love these verses in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness, " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
I know these verses are true. His grace, goodness, and love have always proved to be sufficient in my life if I chose His ways and walked in obedience. I have lived my life seeing His power perfected in my many weaknesses. I learned to embrace and recognize my weaknesses and my great need for His help He promised me.
This was certainly true in raising my four children. I have suffered all Paul mentions, and yes, He has made me strong as I allowed Him to. I immediately went to the Word of God to see what it had to say to parents. I looked up every verse in a Strong’s Concordance and wrote them out. Then I looked up all verses pertaining to children, and I wrote them out. I suggest you do the same as fathers, mothers, and grandparents. I read them over and over, and then I read them to my children each time I had to discipline them. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:1-3 for starters:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
I established the Word of God as the authority in our home for our family. I let my children know that it is what we chose to live by. I read them scripture in the womb from the time of conception. No matter how young your children are, the Word of God does not return void. Their natural understanding has to develop, but not their spirit.
I felt the Lord had told me to read aloud scripture to my first child, Sarah Beth. I was doing so aloud, but my natural reasoning was thinking how dumb it was knowing I was only in my sixth week of pregnancy. However I was obeying not paying attention to what I was reading. All of a sudden the words became magnified and loud within my Spirit. Miraculously God responded to my lack of faith. These are the scriptures I had come upon:
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."
It has been 40 years now since God spoke those verses to me pertaining to getting the Word of God in my children from conception. It laid a foundation in my life that was solid and has remained to this day. I know if I can teach anyone His Word it has the power to change their lives as it continues to do in my own life to this day.
Dear mothers and fathers, you cannot give what you don’t have. It requires you to fully rely on what He has to say and what He thinks in all seasons of life. He is God and you are not. My goal was to take their little hand out of mine and get it in His as soon as possible.
We must not set ourselves up as God in our children’s lives. They will have great difficulty growing up, becoming responsible and independent. I allowed my children to see all my weaknesses and my dependence upon the God I love and serve.
One of the first things I learned, and they must too, is discipline is love. Disciplining little ones requires a lot of instruction. It must be consistent and not rushed. Many of us give discipline without instruction and that is wrong. When I would have to stop what I was doing to correct one of mine, which basically became my life with four children six and under, I had to first make them know parents who love their children take the time to teach them right from wrong. The Bible was the authority we used. I read them all the scriptures I had written down for parents and children. That allowed them to see I was obeying His Word and they must too, to receive the promise, so all would be well in our lives. I never moved on till I knew they fully understood what they had done wrong, and why it was wrong. Then they prayed first to the Lord confessing and asking His forgiveness. Once they understood they were forgiven and cleansed from their sin according to 1 John 1:9, they asked my forgiveness for not obeying me, and I forgave them and held them in my arms. It always yielded the peaceful fruit of righteousness as promised in Scripture. Hebrews 12:5-12 declares:
And have you forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor faint when you are reproved by Him. For those the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
A home without discipline and order promotes chaos, not peace. Children must be disciplined and taught how to get along with others. They must not be allowed to act out what comes natural. Selfishness comes as natural as breathing to us all. The Bible tells us in our flesh dwells no good thing. I knew it was true in my life and I learned it was true of my children as well. I learned I must feed my spirit more than my flesh in order to be transformed into following the example Christ left for all of us no matter how young or old. If I hide God’s Word in my heart I do not sin against Him as scripture teaches. (Psalm 119:11-16) If I feed my flesh I am selfish, and put myself first. If I feed my spirit I live out the fruit of the spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). This is true for our children also, but we are the ones who must feed their spirit when they are young. What I learned as I fed their spirit I was also feeding my own which produced a better mother.
I made a poster for our playroom when my little ones had friends over. When they arrived I would read everyone the scriptures which were our play rules. When children were given God’s Word, and it was enforced, we enjoyed a delightful visit. Please take the time to go to Ephesisans 4:17-32. There you will find golden nuggets to help create your rules. For example Ephesians 4:32 reads:
"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
If one child snatched another one’s toy I would bring both children to the playroom rules and read it to them. The offender apologized for not being kind and the offended was helped to forgive the offender. We prayed together and asked God’s forgiveness and I instructed them that unkindness and unforgiveness had been swept clean from their hearts! Harmony and peace was restored. If a child refused to obey they couldn’t stay in the playroom, and had to help me with whatever I was doing until they complied. The truth is children love discipline if done correctly, because they learn it keeps them safe from themselves and others. Ephesians 4:29 instructs:
"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. "
I translated this verse to read for the children:
" Let no unkind, ugly words come out of your mouth, but speak only good words that make others feel good, that build them up and make them feel loved by you and our Heavenly Father, even if they don’t deserve it."
For every sin there is a verse with an antidote. Whether it be lying, selfishness, jealousy, unkindness etc. you will find instruction in God’s Word. You must write your own list of playroom rules that apply to your family. When we would read the verses together, I always asked them if they understood it. That is very important. You cannot rush, or take shortcuts in disciplining your children. It is one of the most important tasks we have as parents, and it is a task, but a rewarding one for you and the child. It determines the atmosphere in your home. If God’s Word is the authority for you and your children there can be peace, harmony , and love. When they grow into adults you will reap the reward of observing your children loving one another with the same love they were taught as children. They will know how to reconcile their differences, and continue to be best friends.
You cannot improve upon God’s social skills. If you want to change the world we begin with ourselves allowing the Father to teach us how to dwell among others in the home, church, schools, or in our professions. The same rules apply for adults and children. We can’t teach our children unless we allow God’s Word to teach us. There is no greater gift that you can possibly give your little ones. The cost isn’t financial; it is your time you must be willing to invest. You must be consistent. We must make sure our children are spending more time with you than coaches, peers, or other teachers. We are the parents. They are our children. We must accept that responsibility. I know this is true. I lived it out. I lived life with my children during the formative years we are allowed to be the authority and during that window of time God designed. We worked hard together and we played hard together. As long as I could keep Christ the center of our lives we lived as He intended, and it was the most gratifying years of my life.
When we lay down our lives for others we will be fulfilled. A mother pours her life out daily as a drink offering as Paul refers to in scripture in Philippians 2:17:
"But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all."
This accurately describes a mother’s life as we give our life to the formative years of our children. We will never be more like Christ than when fulfilling this role if we allow Him to have His way in our lives for this season. "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Rules the World" was a poem written by William Ross Wallace. Truer words were never spoken. We must realize the power we have in our children’s lives and the responsibility that comes with it. A child placed in our arms is like a book with blank pages. Someone will fill those pages, and it needs to be you! Don’t give away the most important duty in your life. No one will love your child as you will. It is because they belong to you; and you should belong to them. It is only for a season, and they are gone from your home to create their own. Don’t allow anything or anyone to rob you and your children of this season in life.
I would like to close with Paul speaking to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12-16:
"Indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequately equipped for every good work. "
Should this not be the goal for us as parents and this be our greatest desire for our sons and daughters, so that our children will become women and men of God adequately equipped for every good work trained in righteousness for salvation in Christ Jesus? It can be if we are willing to prioritize what God’s Word does – our children. We can change the world by becoming the parents God has designed in His Word. It will always have superior wisdom far beyond our own understanding. He will reveal to you anything you need to know about the child He created. There is no other source that can do that. That is why He is God, and just a prayer away! Seek His wisdom and ways.
In His love.
Views from Mount Mitchell during the 50K runner’s Quest for the Crest Trail Run. Definitely worthy rewards for the early risers who partook of the sunrise and shared these photos!