How to Tame a Tiger: Parenting Tips and Tidbits from my Grandmother

She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Because my family and I lived with my grandparents for the first six years of my life, I have very many precious memories of living in a multigenerational home.  My grandfather owned and milked cows on a dairy.  My grandmother was a homemaker, and lived in a time when there were no dishwashers, no microwave ovens, no fancy kitchen gadgets, and with only a wringer type clothes washing machine.  Most of her wonderful home cooked meals came from the garden she had planted and vegetables that were either fresh or canned.  Out of her home came the best pies, made-from-scratch cakes, homemade candies, fried chicken and steaks, and lots of joy and fun.  During my first few years of school, all of my clothes were made by hand by her and my mom. I can remember being so excited about having five new dresses – one for every day of the week at the beginning of each school year.

Grandmother demonstrated to us all the lovingkindness which God shows to us. There were no extracurricular activities, except an occasional baseball game in a nearby field with my cousins. Some of my best memories are just being with my grandmother learning to sew, crochet, and cook; working by her side, or just spending quality time with her fishing off a dock. She led by example and worked tirelessly to see that all our needs were met.  All of us grandkids knew where she stood when it came to doing what we were supposed to do and respected her high behavioral expectations. I never remember her even having to raise her voice with any of us.  Even though she died when I was only eighteen, I am so thankful to have had her example of how to parent and lead a family with respect, love, and kindness. She was truly the Proverbs 31 woman.

As a grandmother now, I hope to pass along some of those parenting tips and tidbits I learned from her, as well as a few of my own.  Here are some of the things those include.

  • Read scripture daily – schedule a quiet time for yourself to reap the benefits of God’s wisdom. (Colossians 3:16) And pray, pray, pray. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Read scripture aloud daily with your children, talking about it in daily activities, and memorizing with them. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
  • Keep high expectations for behavior, teaching (Proverbs 31:26) and explaining to them your expectations, and train them as you go. (Proverbs 22:6)
  • Don’t be afraid to discipline (train) age- appropriately with consequences related to the action. (Proverbs 13:24)
  • Set clear rules and boundaries always with their own safety in mind.
  • Be clear to the children when disciplining that you love them, but are not happy with their choice of wrong behavior, or actions. (Proverbs 3:12) And never let your own emotions get out of control.
  • Spend quality time with your children, stay connected, and know what is going on in their lives, always!
  • Finally, do all things with love and kindness, demonstrating the love of Christ, as He has done for us. (Ephesians 2:7) Don’t give up! It takes time to tame a tiger!

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

 

About the Writer:
Beverly has been a long time teacher and administrator who alongside with her husband have taught numerous Sunday school classes. As a grandparent today, she loves to share with others God’s Word and make it applicable to daily living.

 

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Beyond Being Nice

As my son approached his second birthday, I held my breath and waited for the rebellion to begin. I gathered several books about discipline theories and how a toddler’s brain works and stacked them on my bedside table.

I felt so ill-equipped, as each day brought new challenges, but the more closely I looked into my son’s eyes the more I saw a child who wanted desperately to be taught. I saw a child who learned by watching and needed an example, a child who craved personal connection and needed to see, hear and feel how loved he was. This child was learning his place in the world and had a heart that was ready to be molded.

Our children are growing up in a world that is new and exciting to them, but it’s growing more perilous every single day (2 Timothy 3:1-3). We sing the song ‘This Little Light’ and tell them to go out and shine in our dark world.

My husband and I continually pray for a long list of traits that we want our children to develop. But at the top of that list is kindness because of the powerful effect it can have in winning hearts for Christ. Romans 2:4 says ‘Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?’ It sounds simple but here’s the catch . . . kindness requires us to be vulnerable.

Kindness requires an inner security that runs so deep that we are not shaken when the other person rejects or mistreats us in return. We must put aside our pride and show a gentle and genuine compassion. Our opportunity to respond is not based on the other person’s deserving of our forgiveness, but on mercy alone.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Luke 6:35

By teaching our children the principles of kindness, we are teaching them a multitude of other qualities like compassion, empathy, patience, and forgiveness. But all of these qualities are hollow without understanding the lovingkindess of God. This understanding can only be gained by experiencing it first hand in our lives, by having a personal relationship with Christ.

So, as parents teaching our kids about the meaning of kindness, let’s not confuse its definition with that of “niceness”. Let’s instead impress on them the grace and mercy that is at the core of kind actions. Let us point them to Christ.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

His Grace is Sufficient

Do the “what ifs” sometimes overwhelm you? When you let your mind drift to any of the endless list of potential crises that could be a phone call away, do you feel unequipped to handle the grief? Do you look at someone else’s struggle and think, “I can’t even imagine” or “there is no way I can handle that”? That particular feeling struck me recently: I have two young mom friends, sisters in Christ, who have cancer. Both have two children under five. I can’t even imagine.

The possibilities of these scenarios seem crippling. And then, in steps the power of God.

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 weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.                         2 Corinthians 12:9

The picture below is of my first baby girl, Elizabeth Alane. I never got to hold her. Eric and I saw her heartbeat at seven weeks, and by nine weeks her heartbeat was no more.

His Grace is Sufficient

After my miscarriage God held me up in so many ways. One way was through the Scripture that comforted and assured me. One of the verses that brought me so much comfort was 2 Corinthians 12:9.  His grace is sufficient. 

A week and a day before we found out that the baby no longer had a heartbeat, I broke down sobbing, and I told my husband, Eric, I was scared of losing the baby. I was mess. Eric held me and comforted me, and he prayed that we would put the baby in God’s hands. If you looked at what a mess I was then, you would have thought actually losing the baby would have rendered me a useless waste. But God gave me the grace I needed in the moment I need it. After my miscarriage, I had an undeniable hope despite my loss. I didn’t know how this would work together for good (Romans 8:28). I didn’t understand God’s thoughts and plans in this (Isaiah 55:8-9). But I believed that God’s word was true.  Even though I didn’t understand how He would fulfill the promise of Scripture, I knew that he would. God was extending me the grace I needed.

His grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to meet our every need, day by day as they happen. It is also sufficient to meet our greatest need – for salvation. Let the power of God be your refuge: no matter what lies ahead, He is able to see you through it.

About the Writer:
Caroline M. is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

Are We There Yet?

We’ve all experienced it:  some kid, maybe our own, continually asking the same question over and over again hoping to get an answer different than the one he received two seconds before.  Having to exercise patience is no fun and can be quite frustrating at times, especially if you’ve been waiting for a LONG time. But there are some things we can be focusing on during the waiting periods.

The first thing we need to realize is that just because God does not answer on our timetable, we do not have permission to assume an answer and then act according to our emotions, desires, or even logic. Waiting on God to answer is an act of obedience; obedience is simultaneous with trust; and trust is an expression of love.

The book of Habakkuk shows us some great tips when we are having to wait on an answer from God.  In chapter 2, Habakkuk shows us that we must have a determination to wait to hear from God as well as an expectation for Him to speak. Habakkuk says in verse 1,

I will stand on my guard post . . .And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me. . . Habakkuk 2:1

God will speak to us. We have to be determined to wait on His answer.

During our waiting period, we must also isolate ourselves from distractions. If you read the book of Habakkuk, you’ll notice that Habakkuk sets up camp away from distractions so as not to be influenced by anything other than God. Again, the prophet is demonstrating his expectation and determination that God will answer him. Be warned that the waiting period is the perfect opportunity for Satan to attack us with feelings of doubt and grand ideas of logic on what we think God wants us to do.  So, be strong, sister!

Finally, Habakkuk also expects to be corrected while he is waiting on God. In the last part of Habakkuk 2:1 he says, “ . . . And how I may reply when I am reproved.”  God has something for us to learn. The lesson may be anything ranging from a correction of an action, or the actual waiting period itself. Even if His answer is a “yes” to something we desire, we must make sure we do not miss whatever it was He has been teaching us. He is the Teacher and we are the students; we must humble ourselves in view of that fact.

I like this picture because it is the perfect representation of how we all feel when we are asked to do the hardest thing: WAIT.

 About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to a 2 year old and has another one on the way. She occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

 

Hands on the Hips, Heart in His Word

Being a parent isn’t easy, nor is living with any other human being. Other people, and especially children, will try our patience every day. Patience is a daily struggle for me. How many times a day do I find socks on the floor, or toys where they don’t belong? How many times do I have to ask for something simple to be done, like throwing trash in the trash can?

I can’t count how many times I’ve stood in my kitchen, hands on my hips, looking just like my mother, mustering up all the volume I could in my voice, and then the still, small voice reminds me:

A hot tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.  Proverbs 15:18

Sometimes I yell anyway, and when I do it doesn’t turn out so well. You see, nothing I say is as powerful as the example I set.  When I show patience with my son, my husband, even with my dogs, someone is always watching, and that someone is usually my son. My hope for him is that he will grow up to be a man who loves the Lord and lives through Christ. I can hope all I want, and I know God will get him there, but the best way to get him there is to show him.

When my hands go to my hips, perhaps it is best to remember this:

The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride.  Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV

Ouch.  You mean it’s pride that makes me want to lash out? Surely that wasn’t meant for me. But yes, my pride gets in the way more than just about anything. What I have learned is that patience will always win, as long as I listen to God’s voice. It will win when I choose to slowly remove my hands from my hips and the volume from my voice. It will win when I return to the center of my heart where He sits, waiting to guide my words and actions – as long as I allow him to.

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

Beneath the Sheets

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. . . Psalm 23:2-3

Each night, I lie in bed wishing for more energy to continue working, but I will myself to put my phone down and close my eyes, ” Ah, rest!”  I let out a heavy sigh and listen to the sound of the sheets rustling beneath my head. I drift into prayer, “Dear Lord, please give me more energy.”

But then a realization hits me, and I continue, “Lord, you DESIGNED us to need rest. You knew the demands of life would compete with You, and so you designed us to NEED these moments of quiet retreat.

 I will embrace this time. I will cherish the stillness when I hear your voice so clearly. My ears ring with Your promises and Your commands. May they not be empty words that I repeat with a cavalier attitude, but may they come alive.  I can see the truth of Your Word played out so clearly in my life.  I recognize with a grateful heart the purpose for which they were written. I delight in You.”

 A grin slides across my face, unable to contain the peace and harmony that I feel in His presence.

 “Here you are beside me, fully present, loving and kind. Never failing, ever-faithful. You know every tear shed through these trying days. My name is written on the palm of your hand. (Isaiah 49:16) Lord, you are mighty.

Your Word tell us that you have measured the waters in the hollow of Your hand and marked the span of the heavens, that you have weighed the mountains and calculated the dust on the earth. (Isaiah 40:12) You are mighty beyond comprehension, and I pray that your majesty would not be lost in my limited understanding.

 I will keep my mind steadfast and trust only in you, for You alone are my peace and you have overcome the world. (Isaiah 26:3 and John 16:33)

 Thank you Lord for the silence. For the peace. And for being my hiding place. Amen.”

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

Joy in Jesus!

My sweet friends, today I want to talk with you about true joy . . . not “happiness”,  not “contentment,”  not some strange giddy “feeling” . . . but real, living, deep, and soul–penetrating JOY.

Today, many of us around the world are experiencing greater prosperity than has been witnessed in recent history.  Yet with all this, there seems to be little expression and little experience of true joy.  Why is it that we can’t find any real satisfaction?  How can it be that so many of us “still haven’t found what we’re looking for?”  I believe that the answer is shockingly simple and also quite difficult for most of us to accept.

You see, sweet friends, true joy is found only in and through a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.  YES, I said it!  If you want to know true joy, you must know and submit yourself to Christ as LORD:  LORD (Heb. YAHWEH/Gk. – ego eimi – the GREAT I AM) as in GOD Himself; Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master) and Master of your life and of your every moment!  YES friends, Jesus is Savior, Friend, Prince of Peace, Wonderful, Counselor, Healer, Helper, and so much more.  But friends, the Incarnate Christ was first, and most importantly revealed to us by the angel Gabriel as JESUS, Savior (Matthew 1:21), Emanuel, GOD with us (Matthew 1:23), Eternal King (Luke 1:32-33), Son of God (Luke 1:32, 33, & 35), and Lord and Master (Luke 1:17).

In Luke 2:11, an angel of the Lord, possibly again the angel Gabriel, announced to the shepherds “there is born to you this day, in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Gk. Kyrios – Master).  Many years later, after Christ had ascended to the Father, Peter preached the first Christian sermon in history and proclaimed to the people, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master) and Christ” (Acts 2:36).  Finally, Paul the apostle, and the first Christian Missionary, explained the truth of the Gospel in this way: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (Gk. Kyrios – Master), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  All of this says that Christ is Lord!

My friends, if Christ is Lord and Master, if He is GOD, and GOD with us, if He is the GREAT I AM (John 8:58), how and why do we expect Him to be less to us, and in us, than He is?  We so long to receive His blessing, His peace, His gracious presence, and YES, His JOY; and yet we remain so empty and listless (disinterested, devoid of energy and spirit), because we refuse to get still and KNOW Him as our GOD (Psalm 46:10).  Because we do not wish to have Him meddle in our daily lives, we resist reading His Word daily and spending quality time with Him each day in prayer; and the pain and loneliness we feel grows stronger day by day.

What we fail to recognize is that the One Who created us, made us for fellowship with Him.  As Blaise Pascal (the famous French mathematician and philosopher) explained, “there is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

Today I have a dare for you!  I dare you to get still enough, for long enough, to hear His still small voice through daily time in His Word and in prayer.  And, I further dare you, to welcome His Word to you as it is, the sweet revelation of His perfect plan for your life, and to welcome Him, as Who He is, the God of the Universe, the Lord and Great Lover of your soul, and the true JOY GIVER!

In His presence there is fullness of JOY; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

May the Lord BLESS you and KEEP you!  May He make His face to shine upon you and give you His peace, and His JOY, until we meet again! (Numbers 6:24-25)  In JESUS’ precious, and HOLY NAME!  AMEN and AMEN!

About the Writer:
Tiffany is a cross-cultural missionary, Bible teacher, speaker, writer, and worship leader.  More than anything, she desires to be one ‘who like a tree planted by the rivers of water, brings forth its fruit in due season, whose leaves do not wither, and have whatever she does prosper’(Psalm 1:3). She is committed to abiding continually in Christ, the vine, so that she may bear much fruit in, and for Him (John 15:5).

Serving my way to Joy

Joy is not my natural state.  If I’m honest, I admit that worry comes much more naturally, especially since I became a mother.  I used to think joy was something that would come to me if only . . . if only someone would do what I want of them, if only I were promoted, or if only I had more of what I wanted.  But when I got to the other side of the “if only”, I may have been satisfied, but the feeling wasn’t one of joy.  I have always experienced joy as a gift.  It’s nothing I’ve been able to work for, but God has given me clues along the way as to how I might experience more of it.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.  Philemon 1:7 (NIV)

I’ve learned it’s not possible for me to experience true joy when I’m focused on me.  Joy is experienced only when I step outside myself and focus on the joy of others.

 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

Finding joy takes discipline.  That might seem counterintuitive, and it certainly was for me.  But Jesus knew what joy was waiting for him, and that helped him endure the Cross.

We don’t have a cross to bear, but we do have plenty of opportunity to step outside ourselves and find joy.  The easiest way for me has been to serve others.  Any time I serve, even in the smallest way, I always benefit more than those I serve.  The joy I receive seeing others be blessed far outweighs the joy of receiving anything other than God’s grace.

I also find that keeping track of those moments and my blessings helps me when I’m not feeling the joy as much.  In those moments of joy, if I take a time to capture the feeling in writing, then I can go back to it on darker days  The way I’ve done this is to keep a gratitude page in my journal.

Counting my blessings and serving others are the two consistent ways I know will bring me joy.  What can you do today to experience joy in your heart?

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

 

Reality Check: It’s Not all about Me

As a new mother struggling to balance the demands that our world shouts so loudly, I often watch the composure of my grandmothers and think about the social changes that have taken place in just two generations. I watch them sit with a cup of coffee in hand and an easy rock in their chair. No TV in the background. No conversation necessary. They find comfort and satisfaction in the quietness.

With great admiration, I have periodically asked questions of my grandmothers about their early years of marriage and motherhood. My selfish desire is to glean nuggets of wisdom that I can apply in my own life, with hopes of achieving the sense of peace that I see in them.

So, in one of these conversations, I casually asked my 86 year old grandmother what comes to mind when she thinks of the word ‘Joy’. ‘Contentment,  satisfaction , and lasting’ was her response. Intrigued and hungry for a deeper answer, I went to the only source of truth on this matter, the Bible.

Passage after passage, I discovered the real truth at the core of this word: Joy is about GOD, not ME.

I had made joy something to be practiced and strived for, obtained, when all it really required was a closeness with the Holy Spirit that could be found through scripture. The faithful promises and unfailing truths of God’s word can shine new light on life’s circumstances.

I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. Psalm 119:111  

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12

Joy is a celebration of His sovereignty and His promises.  It is an eternal view that supersedes the world that surrounds you. Your demonstration (or lack of demonstration) of joy indicates what is important to you.  Are you distraught by temporary pains of this world, or are you looking expectantly towards the day of Christ’s return?

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

With this new understanding, I found great peace and a deep internal joy even on the hard days. The only maintenance that is required is simply to remain in closeness with the Lord and His word – to live and walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

Love Tested by our Darkest Sins

“Lord I love you” is a powerful statement.  How do we protect ourselves from the hypocrisy of declaring it on Sundays, proclaiming it to receive affirmation on social media, but failing to hold fast to that commitment in the hard moments of our lives?

The proof of our commitment always comes in testing.  My commitment to love God has been tested again and again:  through the miscarriage of two of my precious children, through watching a sweet friend die of cancer, and through Satan’s destruction of God ordained relationships I held dear.  But trials have mercifully driven me to seek after God and to desire to know Him more.  God speaks often in the Bible of how testing and tribulation grow and mature our faith. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4)

While all trials test and grow us, I think there is a special significance and precious proof of our love of God in the devastation of dealing with our own sin.  Grieving over, confronting, and laying before Jesus my own sin has done more to strengthen my relationship with Him than any other type of testing.  These excuses reveal my failings, my inability to strengthen that relationship on my own, and my deep need for Him.  The truth laid bare is hard to handle, but it is freeing.

King David is a gloriously God-ordained example of clinging to the love of God in the face of our darkest sin.  The story of David’s horrific sin and the unshakable love that rescued David is laid out in 2 Samuel 11 – 12.

David lusted after Bathsheba, committed adultery, and then had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah- who was an unfailing loyal servant to David- killed to conceal the fact Bathsheba had become pregnant from their tryst.  None of his schemes worked.  God used the prophet Nathan to reveal David’s unthinkable shame.  Nathan proclaimed, “You are the man!” and exposed David’s worst sins.

This was a defining moment for David.  When confronted with guilt, our natural reaction is to fight back and rage against the exposure of the truth.  David’s love for God conquered all those impulses, and he instead turned to the Lord and lamented:

I have sinned against the Lord. (2 Samuel 12:13)

David would later write several beautiful Psalms, including Psalm 32, in acknowledgement of what God had done to rescue him from his iniquities.  What defined David, a man the Bible would call a man after God’s own heart, was not his worst moment, but his reaction to his worst moment. His action was rooted in a deep love for God.  He repented because he loved God more than he loved himself.

Sin separates us from the love of God.  But our love of God means we are willing to lay aside the encumbrances of this life and the sin which so easily entangles us and run to Christ.  We die to self, stop the justification, explanation, and minimization of sin and say, “I want Christ more, I love Christ more.”

Love God today.  Lay your sin before Him.  Turn from sin and say, “Lord, I’m depending on You to free me from the deepest, darkest corners of this sin.” We can count on the Lord’s grace, mercy, and unfailing love.  He honors those who love Him and nothing proves that love more than confronting our sin and casting it off.

About the writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.