Things have been quiet on the blogging home front here. Certainly not for lack of things going on. In fact, life has been very busy lately – but when is it not? We began our first official week of summer break this week, though we will still be doing some subjects over the summer. Every year I think things will slow down, calm down during the summer months. And every year I realize that just isn’t the case. Keeping 4 kids occupied while not schooling and still running a home, pursuing activities, enjoying time outdoors, with friends and family, and some vacation time – yeah, summer is really quite possibly busier than our entire school year put together!
God has been walking us through some interesting things lately – though I hesitate to call them trials, as so many others are barely hanging on through the depths of some storms that would take many right out – these are indeed some testing and trying times. God uses trials and times of testing in our lives to refine us, as a revealer of our hearts, priorities, and focus, but ultimately, to draw us back or nearer to him.
His word speaks to us about trials – 1 Peter 4:12 tells us not to be surprised when we face them. Our pastor and others teach that if we aren’t currently in a trial, to prepare our hearts, because one will most certainly be coming. It’s not meant to frighten or discourage us – but rather to make us aware that as long as we are walking with the Lord, Satan will be fighting us and God will be drawing us. And because we are sinners, we will falter. We may fail to stand. But that’s ok, so long as we continue to seek his face. Guess who wins in the end?
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
God has equipped us with his word and his truth to help us to face down the lies of the enemy when he attacks. God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to pray fervently and through Christ’s death on the cross, we have the confidence to know that we can approach his throne of grace and He.Will.Answer.
Yet through all of this, often we forget. Often we drift. Often we slowly, gradually succumb. I did. I fell for the lies and fell into the trap of bitterness, frustration and anger. But God uses each and every circumstance in our life to mould us, teach us, love on us, and bring glory to him.
I will admit it – some of these “trials” have been centered around our children’s attitudes and behaviours. Though I would have been ashamed to say so before, I realize now that it was only a product of a much deeper issue that we had been dealing with, and my reactions to their behaviour were a result of my not submitting and seeking the only one who could carry us through the storm.
I didn’t like my kids. Oh, it’s pretty easy to LOVE them, they’re a blessing, a heritage from the Lord, flesh of your flesh, and your responsibility. But I didn’t like them. They wouldn’t listen or respond well to me, seeming to ignore my instruction until I raised my voice or got angry. They whined and complained about, well, nearly everything they didn’t want to do! And the arguing? It quite literally was the straw that broke this momma’s back.
As wrong as they were, my reaction and the issue I took with it stemmed back to what was going on as this trial in our family, and began right from the top – with mom and dad. And as I’ve thought and prayed over these past few weeks, I’m seeing much more clearly how things went down. I’m seeing how things could have been avoided. And I’m grateful, because I know times like these will come again, and God will see us through – but I certainly want to grow and be stronger to face the next wave that comes (even as this one is still not quite abated).
So if you find yourself in a trial or time of testing; when you’re uptight, annoyed, and reacting to ridiculous things; when you find that you don’t like your kids – please, do this.
Heal your heart – Draw near to Him
I pulled away. I stopped reading my bible. I allowed my heart to grow cold and hard and bitter. This quote from Spurgeon has been up in my kitchen for years, running through my mind, yet still I ignored it’s warning:
“He who lives without prayer—he who lives with little prayer—he who seldom reads the Word—he who seldom looks up to heaven for a fresh influence from on high—he will be the man whose heart will become dry and barren;”
I knew it. Yet I didn’t heed it.
It’s not that God moved, but rather that I moved away.
James 4:8 says that when we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. I KNEW this, in my head and in my heart
My identity had been wrapped up in who I was as a mom during this time, instead of who I was in Christ. Saved. Redeemed. Restored. Forgiven. LOVED.
Dear one, when the waves threaten to swamp you, remember this!
Remember who you are in Christ, and draw near to him. Open his word, read, cry, pray, and ask others to pray and read over you. If you can’t read, listen. But don’t turn away from the truth.
The other part of Spurgeon’s quote speaks of life to the fullest –
“but he who calls in secret on his God—who spends much time in holy retirement—who delights to meditate on the words of the Most High—whose soul is given up to Christ—who delights in his fullness, rejoices in his all-sufficiency, prays for his second coming, and delights in the thought of his glorious advent—such a man, I say, must have an overflowing heart; and as his heart is, such will his life be. It will be a full life; it will be a life that will speak from the sepulcher, and wake the echoes of the future.”
Please, do not listen to the lies of the devil! Guard your heart, and consequently, your life. Get off the phone/ipad/internet/tv, or whatever you’re using to “unwind” or veg out, and do the hard work to restore your soul.
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow springs of life.
And if you fall, don’t stay down. Get up, look up, reach up. He’ll pull you up.
Consider your communication
Instead of talking with The Man and praying through the issues I was seeing in our kids, I internalized them. I blamed them solely on myself and my reactions to them, instead of seeing the wisdom that they were a part of the trial. My communication with God had been lacking, and I had also cut off the real communication with my partner, the only other one who loves me more than anyone else.
Don’t shut down and stop talking. Don’t internalize. Don’t blame yourself.
Weep and walk through the issues together! Talk through the solutions. Seek further guidance if needed. Keep the communication lines open. And above all, PRAY together.
Teach them diligently
Here’s the big one, and probably the most difficult because it isn’t just up to you. God commands us and encourages us, giving us everything we need as parents to teach our children diligently. Buuuuuuuut, we don’t always do it. We aren’t perfect parents! Life gets busy, kids get crazy, trials come and days go by when we haven’t dealt with things correctly.
This isn’t a condemnation, but a commendation of the work you have done in the past.
Remember your foundation that you’re building upon – the word of God. Remember the principles that you’re teaching and the heart of obedience in your children.
You and your spouse need to talk through what’s been breaking down – for our kids, they were arguing against every decision that mom made, consequently wearing me out and causing me to snap at the first “But” out of their mouths (remember though, I was also at fault for my failure to find strength where I needed it!).
We addressed it, came up with an action plan, then called a family meeting to make them aware of what was going on. These past few days we’ve been training them to recognize arguing when it happens, then we’ll move into discipline when it happens.
You have to do it! For your benefit, and your children’s best interests and the shaping of their hearts and lives, you HAVE to teach them diligently.
God tells us to work heartily at whatever we do – it’s HARD work if we have to work HEARTILY (Colossians 3:23). But there is a reward, an inheritance in Christ (vs. 24). He tells us to not grow weary while doing good – for in due season we shall reap (Galatians 6:9).
Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”