Grace in Parenting

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I was asked to write this article almost a year ago after attending a parenting conference with Tedd and Margie Tripp. With all the new knowledge I had in my notebook, I was so excited to share it but I felt it wasn’t what God was leading me to do and I wasn’t sure why. Last week after looking through my notes as I shared them with a friend, I saw all the progress we have made by implementing this knowledge, and now I know why God held me back. He wanted me to share a testimony instead of just my notes.

At our 2nd child’s dedication (also pregnant with #3) we were gifted the book Shepherding A Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp. After sticking in on the shelf and riding out a really rough couple of years, I was reminded by a friend that I needed to read this book. I started to read the book and practice some things with our oldest child but stopped there. Prior to this, we weren’t too strategic about how we parented. We disciplined as needed for bad behavior and occasionally lost our tempers, scaring our children into obeying. This led to a lot of regret, discouragement and unfortunately- no real change in our children’s behavior. We then began to shift our conversations with our oldest by helping him understand the sin behind his behavior and walking him through what he should have done versus disciplining him for what he had done. Every moment of discipline became an opportunity to share the gospel with him. He began to really understand the gospel and his own need for salvation and decided to ask Jesus to live in his heart.

In the midst of this amazing joy we experienced with our oldest, the parenting book remained on the shelf, and our middle child was drowning in his own temper and stubbornness. In attempting to help him I would find myself just as angry and stubborn as him, and our relationship was suffering. I needed to help myself in order to help him and wasn’t sure practically how to do it. While crying on our front porch over losing my temper with him yet again, I begged God to help. In His perfect timing, as always, God opened a door to go to a parenting conference by Tedd and Margie Tripp. We have always joked about wishing that the hospital had given us a manual when they sent us home with a new baby but never realized that we had one right under our noses. As a mom and dad, living in obedience to God, we paint an imperfect picture of who God is to our children. We ARE given instruction on how to parent and it is laid out for us in the Bible, by clear commands and warnings and also by studying how God treats His own children (since we are to model that to them).

We began to implement what I learned that weekend and were in complete shock over the almost immediate results. Here are the changes that were made and what results we saw:

Change 1: Discuss God’s goodness as much as possible

Reason: We are made to worship someone or something as humans. If we want our children to worship and obey God, we need to show them how great our God is. Read Psalm 145 slowly. There is no denying the WONDER of our great, glorious, mighty and loving God! But if we lose our sense of delight in God and our kids don’t see us rejoicing in who He is, neither will they.

Result: Wonder/awe of God and His creation all around us fill their minds and conversations. A simple sunset is no longer just a beautiful thing to look at but a piece of God’s artwork for our enjoyment, and a reminder of the beautiful heaven we have hope to live in soon.

Change 2: No longer discipline bad behavior (unless disobedient, see change 3) but lead to understand what sinfulness from within led to that behavior. Role play to practice correct behavior

Reason: Understanding what led to bad behavior from within is what eventually leads to change for the right reasons. From Shepherding a Child’s Heart “to the extent they are successful (with disciplining bad behavior), they become like the Pharisees, people whose exterior is clean, while inside they are full of dirt and filth”. Mark 7:20-22 “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, pride, and foolishness.” We correct our children because we are called to teach them and train them up in the ways of the Lord. Our goal is to correct and lead to our need for Christ, not to punish for bad behavior.

Result: They now know how they feel inside and why they act the way they do. They sometimes catch themselves and do what we practice in role play, but please note: these behaviors are not a quick fix! We are simply laying a foundation for them for when they choose to put their faith in God and live in obedience to Him. Ezekiel 36:27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

Change 3: Spank for all forms of disobedience, including partial disobedience. Do not engage in debates or disagreements

Reason: Children are commanded to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1). Parents are told to discipline their children (Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13 just to name a few). We, as Christians, are to walk in obedience to God. We are not called to question God’s authority and we are not to partially obey. Living in obedience is understanding biblical authority. We know what is best for our children and for their own benefit, they are to obey us. Being the sinful creatures they are, there will be defiance in this area as they desire to make choices on their own. When this defiance occurs, they are to receive discipline in the form of a spanking (the rod mentioned in verses above). Until they have the maturity, wisdom and life experience to make good choices, we are to make those choices for them. Choosing your battles is not wise advice, children are to obey their parents, period. Side note: God is perfect, therefore His discipline is perfect. He does not discipline His children out of anger or any ungodly attributes that we may find within our hearts as we discipline. There is a process Tedd Tripp lays out in his book in chapter 15 for spanking that is key in order to hold ourselves accountable. It is not considered abusive when done correctly and you will be surprised at your child’s response when the steps are followed!

Result: Obedience! Surprise! Initially, our oldest got more spankings than he used to. He was a fairly well-behaved child, but he does not like to obey. This created a lot of behavioral problems in the beginning but we now see him walking in obedience much more often. Our middle child was constantly misbehaving and getting spankings in the past and now, he rarely gets them. We were forced to give clear instructions for him to obey and he does, for the most part! Our youngest is 3… enough said? We have a little ways to go with her, but she is learning! The best result is what I see in myself. I have more self-control than ever before because I know what God expects of me and what my children need from me. I still mess up and respond in anger and have to apologize to my kids and seek God’s forgiveness and help on a regular basis.

My eyes well up with tears as I think back over the last year at how far we have come. Our middle son needed me (who he most resembles in personality) to SHOW him how to respond and control his anger by living out what I was trying to teach. He is very black and white and needed clear instructions from us as parents. We were more wishy-washy than we would like to admit and did not remain consistent in what we disciplined for and how. He didn’t know what to expect and couldn’t handle that. Those correction conversations (change #2) have been a game changer for our family. If he was wronged, his ungodly attitude within led him to act out. We then disciplined him for this behavior and he would lose his temper, often for hours at a time involving a lot of violence and holes in walls (yes, that intense), leaving us feeling defeated and frustrated. Now, we discuss what he felt within (ungodly attitude) and validate his feelings before guiding him through how to make a better choice in his response. He stays calm and his entire demeanor changes when he feels understood. We have not had a single blow up as we used to and our love for one another has grown immensely (and now I am crying!).

Every time I see the hole in the drywall behind my boys’ door, I am reminded of God’s grace for us and pray everyone can find wisdom in this area as well. I cannot recommend enough reading any parenting book by this couple. If ever given the opportunity to sit under the teaching of the Tripps, make it happen! They do not just tell you how to do things based on what they have studied and seen, like many parenting book authors do, but they seek wisdom in this area from God Himself and lay it out simply for us to understand. I pray that my sharing this leads you to seek wisdom in this area for yourself and for your family! Know if you read this you were prayed for!


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Tami Johnson is a faithful servant of Christ with a passion for serving with kids as the Children’s Ministry Director at Lakeshore. She has been married to her husband, Dane, for 10 years and is fulfilling her dream of being both a mom and teacher by homeschooling her 3 young children. She is loving what God has called her to do in all areas of life!  

Loving God When Your Hands Are Full

Oh, I hear it all the time. The frustration. The worry. The fear.

How do I get anything done with kids? How do I find my new normal? How do I maintain a deep relationship with the Lord while raising children?


They’re good questions to ask because I think at one point, all of us mommas have asked ourselves this.

I’ve learned to shift my expectations. The picture of a woman sitting cozy in a comfy chair, snuggled in a warm blanket, sipping on her favorite hot tea, while reading her bible was no longer me. Those days had passed. But I’ve realized that my time with the Lord doesn’t have to look perfect to be beautiful.

“You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Psalm 27:8


I can seek Him when my hands are full. I can love Him well in the midst of messes and tantrums and life’s chaos. He’s after my heart. And that’s what I give Him as I read God’s word while I sit on the living room floor next to my 7 month old covered in spit up and wearing yesterday’s clothes. Jesus is with me as I seek Him from the bathroom floor while my toddlers are taking a bath. He meets me when I’m praying to Him while preparing a meal, or tidying our home. He’s beside me as I cry out to Him as my kids misbehave, and I’m struggling to have the patience and self-control that God calls me to. And somehow, though it’s not a picture perfect image, I’m content. I’m strengthened. I’m at peace.

So to the mom who is looking for her new normal, embrace God in the chaos. Don’t compromise when your hands are full. God will honor your dependence as you make your relationship with Him a non-negotiable in your life. He gave His very life for us. He’s worthy of our praise in every season, every triumph, and every battle. Love Him well in the mess. Love Him with all your heart.

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10


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Taylor Krabill is happily married to her high school sweetheart Tanner, and is living her dream as a stay at home momma to her three children: Haven, Kaid, and Luke. In her writings you will find her  heart for Jesus, her family, and her home sweet home.

Belonging

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Have you ever been rejected or felt like you don’t belong? This theme of belonging keeps popping up in things I read, listen to, and see. Every single person was created to be in community, wired to belong. That’s why people placed in solitary confinement literally go insane. I’ve watched people seek community in so many ways. People seek it within their church, their kids' sports affiliation, the running community, their neighborhood, work, long-standing friend groups— hoping to satisfy that God-given desire within us. I recently heard heaven being described as an “eternal belonging”. How beautiful and sweet that is that!

Galatians 3:28 says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We’ve all experienced the pain of rejection and the awkwardness of not fitting in, but in Christ we have an eternal BELONGING. Therefore, let us lace our relationships here on earth with deep humility and agape love as we prepare to enter into that eternal belonging one day.

What are some ways we can include others and welcome them into ‘Belonging’? First, we can bear one another’s burdens James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” A sweet aroma develops and deep bonds are forged in the vulnerability of sharing our weaknesses & shortcomings with one another with the goal of helping to gently restore one another.

Next, we can forgive one another. Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” When I find this difficult and want to push someone away out of offense or hurt, I reflect on my own fallible human condition and how much forgiveness has been bestowed upon me. This greatly humbles me, fills me with compassion and helps me forgive others.

Also, attempt to step out of the shadows of your own discomfort, insecurity, and pain to invite others the way you want to be invited. Jesus said in Matthew 25:45 “Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'” God’s word promises that you’ll find yourself refreshed by refreshing others. How refreshing is it to feel acknowledged, loved and invited?

Last, share the gospel with anyone and everyone to invite them to be apart of the ULTIMATE belonging. Mark 16:15 says, “‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'” Maybe you’re currently feeling rejected, alone, misunderstood, hurt—take comfort knowing the God of the universe came to earth as a man, experienced ALL of those feelings, was brutally murdered and rose again three days later all so you could have the opportunity to belong, my friends.

As much as I’ve heard this, I needed this reminder today. I am unconditionally loved, saved by His rich grace and I BELONG. If you’ve never heard that then here is your invite! Come as you are to the foot of the cross, today. Repent, put your faith in Christ and belong forevermore.


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Priscilla Millsap is a member of Lakeshore City Church. She is a wife to Josh and mother of four. Her passion is knowing Jesus more, raising her children to know Jesus and loving people like Jesus.

Longing for a Child to Hold

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To my sister with empty arms:

I’m writing this to you as a reminder that you are not in this alone. Sometimes, walking through trials can make you feel isolated because you don't feel like anyone can relate to what you're going through. I have walked in your shoes. I’ve felt the longing you have for a child to hold. The knots in your stomach when another friend tells you she’s pregnant, and you force back the tears while you smile and congratulate them. Our emotions can play some crazy games, but God is rich in mercy.

Infertility can bring out the worst in a person, and also in a marriage. At least it did for me.  For real, another pregnancy announcement?! They weren’t even trying! Gasp! They aren’t even married!? Surely, my husband and I are more capable of raising a child than they are. This endless cycle of comparison, envy, anger and sadness can go on and on, even when you have the knowledge of the gospel. 

Through our 8-year journey of childlessness, I became very bitter and numb. The first few years I was in denial, and then it turned to extreme sadness and envy. All I could do was be hopeful that one day, whether it would be through medical intervention, adoption, or a complete miracle, we would be parents. The Lord allowed me to experience grief, loss and humility, in ways I never would have imagined. Then, through His timing and providence, He truly showed me His grace and sovereignty in ways I never would have imagined.

Sister, the way you feel right now has merit. This feeling of despair, of jealousy, of anger…they aren’t for nothing. This is part of your story. Cry out to our God with those feelings. Pray with others and ask the Lord to give you the strength to wait on Him well with those feelings. Wait well. This is what I learned a few years in… I wasn’t waiting well. I needed to wait well. I needed to surrender these feelings to the Lord and ask how I could serve Him even with this deep longing.  "But how?"  Sister, He will show you.
 

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace for it is trusting in you. Trust in the Lord forever, because in the Lord, the Lord himself is an everlasting rock."
Isaiah 26:3-4


Our God knows far more than our small minds can even grasp, even at this stage when there are so many unknowns about what the future will hold. But all this is just cause to trust Him even more.

How does your husband feel about this season of life? Are you sharing your heart with him? Does he understand how deeply it is affecting you?My prayer is that you two are united in this journey. You’re in this together. It may take time for him, because he’s not the one taking the pregnancy test only to see one-line, month after month, but in time he’ll understand the hurt.

Talk about a plan. Are you going to see a fertility specialist? How do you feel about adoption? Once you two are on the same page, it will make a world of difference. I pray that this unity will come soon for you.  

Cling to Christ. He is our only sure foundation. He hears our prayers and has promised to comfort us. (Matthew 5:4, 11:28)  I love you sister, and I am here for you, pleading that the Lord will answer your prayer for a child.

A Few Helpful Resources

Season of Waiting by Betsy Childs Howard

Walking through Infertility by Matthew Arbo

Don’t Waste your Infertility

Embryo Adoption


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Lindsay Corgan loves Christ and has a unmistakable way of loving well the people around her.  She and her husband, Scott, live in Shelbyville, KY with their beautiful daughter Molly Joy. 

Depression Part 3

As we actually become more like our Savior, we begin to see how our worth, purpose, and hope is intrinsically tied to him, not to our feelings or present circumstance. When we identify with Christ, we abide in him and become more like him. The result is that we see our worth without decay (like Christ!), our purpose without boundaries (like Christ!), and our hope without fear (like Christ!). This is the final post in a three-part series on depression. We looked at two passages of Scripture to help us build new habits of praying, thinking, and seeing. Now, we turn our attention to doing