Wrong Theology Leads to Wrong Thinking

I balanced my feverish, crying 10-month old on my hip and tried to block out the noise of my 2- and 3-year-old children who were clamoring for my attention. It had a been a long week with six days of a high fever and no clue as to how much longer this would last. 
I was stretched thin. I was worn out. 
I was going to lose it. 
As my emotions started to kick in, I knew I needed help beyond my control.  “God, please help me!” I prayed. 
I wanted out. I wanted this fever to go away. I was so tired of caring for little people.

Focusing on my circumstances was not going to be a good solution. 
I knew that. 
Especially since I had just read an article earlier about how to focus on scripture when I felt weak or overwhelmed. So, ever so dutifully, I ignored the persistent questioning of my preschoolers  and spoke above the cries of my infant while firmly quoting Psalm 23 out loud and marching around the house with the fervor of a saint. I felt my soul quiet momentarily but then as I heard the crying and needs continue on around me (despite my prayers and use of scripture) the overwhelming exhaustion and emotions took control. 

Suddenly I was angry with God. I had tried to turn to Him but my soul hadn’t found the rest I was hoping for. Wasn’t He supposed to bring rest? It felt like He hadn’t answered my prayer. It felt like He hadn’t been there to help me. I was confused and, to be honest, I felt abandoned by God. 

Over the next day I kind of avoided God. I didn’t want to spend time with Him or talk about Him. My faith felt weak. How could something so simple shatter my trust in God? 

The answer? Wrong theology. That’s how. And I had a bad case of it. 

Twenty-four hours later, my husband took our still feverish baby for a bit and I sat down with my notebook and Bible. I began to write out my fears, putting them under the label of wrong theology. It looked something like this:  

Wrong Theology:
#1- God wasn’t there. 
#2- God didn’t help to take the struggle away.
#3- God didn’t answer the way I wanted.
#4- God didn’t calm my soul.

Then I started looking up scripture to challenge these thoughts and correct my wrong theology.

Right Theology:
#1-  God was there. I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb. 13:5)

#2-  God never promises to take the struggle away. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor. 12:8-10)
#3- God doesn’t have to do things my way. His thoughts and plans are bigger than mine. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Is. 55:9)
#4- It’s MY job to quiet my soul by continuously speaking truth to it. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (Ps. 43:5)

My wrong theology had told me that if I went to God and desperately demanded for Him to quiet my soul, while also quoting random scripture, He would do so! I believed that if I did the magic formula the struggle would dissolve; He would either change my circumstances instantly or immediately change my emotions. Taking the time to dig into scripture finally helped me to see that seeking to trust in God doesn’t always mean that my soul and emotions will automatically be on board.  I had wanted to be a super-christian, but God wanted me to keep on coming to Him. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has said “Anything that makes me need God is a blessing. We want to be confident, strong and capable. God wants us to be needing and dependent.” 

 And so, I must continue to take my troubled soul to God and His Word even when the road doesn’t get easier and His ways don’t seem to make sense. Will I trust Him when the storm continues to rage or will I, like Peter, be told “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31).

 

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Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that can Radically Change Your Family (A Book Review)


No matter the age of our children, it seems like there is always some new parenting challenge present. Currently, my husband and I are quickly wading into the deep trenches of the terrible-twos with our daughter: she laughs as we try to correct her wrong behavior and stubbornly persists in doing exactly what we told her not to do, over and over again. How do we deal with such behavior?

In these moments, it is easy to resort to quick and easy fix-it solutions that achieve the desired behavior. However, many times these solutions do not reflect what God has prescribed as the way we are to raise our children. For this reason, I am thankful for godly authors who take the time to study God’s Word and then help point us towards a better understanding of what it means to teach our children in the ways of the Lord.

One such book is Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, by Paul David Tripp. Unlike many parenting books, you won’t find 1-2-3 step strategies and tips for solving specific parenting dilemmas. Instead, Tripp focuses on the message of the gospel and how it transforms the heart of the parent and of the child, providing strength and freedom to accomplish this ever-daunting responsibility called Parenting.

With that said, what did I take away for myself from this book?

1. I am a sinner, just like my child
In almost every chapter, Tripp makes the statement “I am more like my children than unlike them.”

In other words, our children aren’t the only ones who struggle with authority, bad attitudes, angry responses, and just plain old sin. We, the parents, also struggle with sinful attitudes and actions on a daily basis that we need confess and repent of. Recognizing that we are in need of God’s grace and forgiveness because of our own sin puts us in the position to walk in love and humility towards our children on a daily basis.

2. I am simply a tool
No matter what parenting technique or method I may try, God did not give me the innate ability to bring about lasting change in the life of my child.

The only way change can happen is if the heart is changed, and only the gospel can do that. I am simply the God-appointed tool in my child’s life to point him towards the transforming message of the cross. I cannot expect household rules, boundaries, and guidelines to accomplish what only the gospel can accomplish.

3. The Gospel plays out in the little things
When a child is caught doing wrong, it is all too easy to view this as a moment for frustration, irritation, or an “inconvenience that needs to be dealt with so I can get back to what I was doing.”

However, Tripp encourages parents to consider such moments not as inconveniences but as manifestations of God’s grace in our child’s life: it is an opportunity for us, the parent, to once again point the child towards the gospel and their need for God’s grace. These frequent and often-overlooked moments in our day are the little moments that contribute towards the big picture of pointing our child to Christ.

Parents, this is an outstanding book. Does it specifically address every problem we might face as parents? No. However, because Scripture is its basis, it points us to God’s revelation concerning His design and purpose for the family. For this reason, I believe all parents who desire to raise their children to honor and glorify God will find this book to be an incredibly helpful and gospel-centered resource.

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5 Games you can modify to play with your young child

Our oldest daughter (age 3) loves games! And of course, she wants to play mommy and daddy’s games, not just ones designed for her age level. My initial response was to say “no”, but as we opened the box and began to look at the pieces ideas come to mind of how we could adapt the rules to make a fun and  educational game for us to do together.

The perk about playing with a toddler is you really don’t have to keep score, just praise them when they get the concept or make a good move and they will beam!

1. Uno

Uno is a perfect game to start with for your toddler! Start with 3 cards each and play as you normally would. This game is perfect for encouraging them to remember their numbers and colors! If your kiddo is still learning his numbers/colors, place the cards face-up and help them choose the right card to play.

2. Dutch Blitz

Dutch Blitz is another great one for working with your toddler on colors and numbers 1-10! Divide the cards in half (or how many players you may have), make stacks of each number or stacks of 1-10 until the stacks are gone. Eventually you can start to play this game according to the original rules!

3.   Memory (use any card set)

Using any card set, place cards upside-down, take turns flipping the cards over to find a match (color, number or pattern). Whoever gets the most sets wins!

4.  Dice Games

Using as many dice as you want, roll at the same time as your toddler, have your toddler count to see who rolled the highest number.

5.       Code Names (Pictures)

This is probably one of our favorites! Lay out Code Name picture cards as you normally would, start with you saying a word that describes one of the cards, see if your toddler can figure out what one you have in mind. Once your kiddo grasps the concept, take turns describing a card with one word. It’s fun to see what aspect of the picture your toddler sees and describes!

 

I hope these ideas inspire you to adapt the games you have around your house to play with your toddler! Games are a fantastic way to incorporate learning activities into the day. Games also provide an opportunity for you to spend quality time with your kiddo!

 

~ Rachel 

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Outdoor activities for your young children

We all know that our kids are happier and sleep better when they have gotten outside for some play time!

Here are some outdoor activities that we have done with our kiddos.

  1. Sidewalk chalk – Our kids spend hours outside drawing!
  2. Outside Bath Station – gather your kiddos plastic animals or dolls and a bucket of soapy water and let them “bathe” them and set them in the sun to dry. Or set up a “car wash” for their toy cars.
  3. Toy Ice Block- Fill a gallon ice cream container with water. Add a whole bunch of small plastic toys. Place in freezer until frozen. Loosen ice block from container by pouring warm water over it. Take outside and let your kids chisel away at the ice block in an effort to get their toys out. This will keep them entertained for hours while also keeping them nice and cool on a very hot day. 
  4. Make a water balloon pinata that kids can take turns trying to burst!
  5. Brown sugar can be used as sand for a fun (and tasty!) activity. Just hose all that stickiness off afterwards!
  6. Fill a bucket with water and give your kids big paintbrushes to dip and use on the sidewalk/driveway for a mess-free painting session that cleans up all by itself!
  7. Gather any large bowls/containers that you own, along with some measuring cups. Fill several bowls with water and let your child spend hours transferring water to other containers using the provided measuring cups. 
  8. Take your children on a scavenger hunt where they are to collect as many shades of green that they can find in leaves, grass, petals, etc.
  9. Play “I SPY” as you go for a walk. 
  10. Take lunch to the backyard for a picnic.
  11. Go on a nature walk.
  12. Make a water slide using an old tarp and your hose. (Use Johnsons tearless baby shampoo to make an extra slippery surface!) 
  13. Check online for all the parks in your area and try out one or two you don’t normally go to. Invite a friend along! 

Enjoy making memories with your kids this summer!

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Traveling with young kids

TRAVEL

Jeremiah and I did it a lot; growing up, college years, married life, and now with kids.

By plane and by car.

I personally prefer my feet on the ground so we drive more but we have done a fair bit of air travel too.

Traveling with kids can feel overwhelming and stressful.

Here are some things we have learned that make traveling with our kids go smoother and be as enjoyable as possible.

First off I want to acknowledge the fact that each child is different. Personality can play a huge role into how your child travels. Please keep that in mind and give yourself and your kiddo grace along the way!

Our oldest daughter has been the “perfect traveler” ever since she was tiny. She is laid back, enjoys new things and is easily entertained. Our second, however, is a mover and very interactive with a shorter attention span. God gave them very different personalities and we are learning to work with both of them as we travel together.

Prepare Them

Talk up your trip, days even weeks before. Be excited but also tell them what could be hard (long car rides, not being loud on the plane, etc.) We started prepping our girls about events at ages as early as one and it really seemed to help them calm down and do better when we would remind them what we had talked about. Little kids understand more than we give them credit for.

 

Novelty is King

Airline snacks are always a big hit with our girls because they are so unique. Nowhere else do you find airplane shaped graham cracker cookies. So stock up on goodies that are different than what you normally buy your kiddos.

Buy some activities that are new.

o   Water Wow

o   Paint with water activity books

o   Play dough (Bring along a cookie sheet for road trips)

o   Sticker Books  

 

Interact

It’s easy to hand over the ipad and it might seem to do the trick but kids need interaction with their parents to be content for long periods of time. With our kids, I have found, that if I give them media right away they wind up more cranky in the end. Rather, we save the media for last resorts and find they are happier longer and have an easier time when the devices go away. Talk to them, point out what you see, play I-spy, read a story, sing songs. It takes a lot more work on mom and dad’s part but in the long-game it’s totally worth it!

 

Media

If and when we resort to media, try apps that you can play with your child or ones that encourage learning.

o   Matching games where you can take turns with your kids to find the match.

o   Games that teach colors, letters, numbers, small motor skills or problem solving.

 

Let them move

Air travel: I know the feeling of waking halfway across the airport and just wanting to collapse in a chair at your gate. But remember, if your kids are sitting now, they will want to move later so let them get their wiggles out whenever possible. When the seatbelt sign finally turns off while in flight, take the chance to follow your toddler up and down the aisle. That light is going to turn back on all too soon and your little one (and your ears) are  not going to fare well if he hasn’t gotten any chance to move about.

Road trip: Your kiddo is actually happy or entertained when you pull into the gas station and the temptation to leave her in her car seat is strong. Don’t do it! Take every opportunity to let them stretch their legs even if it just means letting them climb around inside the car. It may mean a melt down when it comes time to buckle back up but in the long run it is better for their physical and mental stamina!

 

Most of all, pray and ask God for grace and help, wisdom and ideas! Prayer does not mean that everything will go hunky-dory the entire trip. However, God loves to answer our petitions, and prayer will put our hearts in the right place to extend love, patience and grace to our kids as we travel!

 

~ Rachel

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