Bible Check-up #3

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As you can tell by the frequency of my “Bible Check-up” posts, I have not been all too consistent with reading the last couple weeks.  But I believe I am finally caught up and ready to share my latest observations.  I would love to hear some feedback from anyone else who is attempting the reading program as well.

Nehemiah–Nehemiah’s love for God and love for the people overflowed into his passionate prayers and his desire to jump into action.  He led the people strongly to love the scripture and he did not give up under opposition.  This is another book that I often overlook, yet found great inspiration in.  If we would all express just a portion of the enthusiasm that Nehemiah had for prayer, people and scripture our community, our church, and our families would be drastically different.  We might see the progress that the Israelite’s saw. We might see a new and brilliant city dedicated to God.  We might hear the voice of God.  We might experience the joy of coming back to Him.

Esther–Esther is such an inspiring book to so many women…but many walk away with the concept that is a little too feminist for me. And I think many men are missing out because this book is often presented as a book for women.  After reading Esther several times in the last couple years I have come to the conclusion that part of its purpose is to show our disposability when it comes to the plans of God .  One thing that has been on my mind lately and was reiterated as I read the book of Esther is the idea that we are simply instruments in  Gods big plan. In chapter 4 verse 14, we read “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” The people would have been delivered no matter what…that was God’s plan.  Esther’s choice did not change that.  But God chose to use Esther and her willingness to step up and take on the task he had given her brought blessings to her and her family….but someone else could have had those blessings if she had turned them down.  God does not need us, but he does choose to use us if we are willing and He will bless us in our obedience.

Acts–The book of Acts begins with Jesus returning to heaven and presenting the disciples with the charge to share what they have learned with all the world.  And as I read, I was reminded anew of the boldness that Jesus required of them…and requires of us.  In Chapter 4 Peter and John were arrested for doing what Jesus had told them to and as they stood before the council they spoke confidently the name of Christ. And the council’s response is given in verse 13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Because of Peter and John’s willingness to stand firm and proclaim Jesus’ name…those watching were able to see Jesus in them.  But something else that stood out to me is found in the verses that come immediately after this in the succession of Acts.  The believers prayed…they cried passionately for all to have the boldness to speak and the firmness to stand on Jesus.  The Spirit came upon them and they were able to do as they had asked.  Yes, the boldness of Peter and John requires great faith but they could not have gotten to that place without consistent and passionate prayer which brings the Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom and strength.  We have that power and privilege as well.

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Parenting: A Lesson in Tantrums, Revisited

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Tantrum (1)

Last week, I relayed the events of what I may from here forward refer to as”The Great Fit of 2013″. My account and thoughts on the situation brought in a whopping 300 hits to by blog.  And in the process I have received numerous inquiries about my daughter.  In a matter of seven days, I have been approached at church, at the grocery store, at work, on Facebook and by family members to ask about my little princess.  As of now we have gone an entire week without a fit.  She is as happy and talkative as ever.  She has gone to school, to dance class, out to eat, to the grocery store and to church…all without any incident whatsoever.  I wrote briefly on what I had learned from the situation but one aspect that many people have asked about and offered advice on is the consequences for the actions.  What did I or should I have done when my child threw a fit?

1. In the moment, it may be necessary for your child’s safety (and sometimes for the safety of those around them) to just remove them from the situation.  I have heard many moms say that they had to wrestle a flailing child to the car, leaving a cart full of groceries behind in the store just to be able to find a place for their child to calm down.  It also lets the child know that you are serious, especially in a situation where the child is somewhere they would like to stay.  If the child throws a fit while at a friends house…they have to leave.  If a child throws a fit while at the park…they have to leave.  But be careful and use your “mommy sense” or your child may figure out a way to use this tactic to their advantage.  I have known quite a few kids who have thrown a fit to get out of a situation (they don’t want to stay in the nursery at church, they don’t want to stay at school, they don’t want to be at the store to begin with,etc.).

2. Use the opportunity to talk about self-control. The Bible speaks abundantly about self-control (and I know plenty of adults who have yet to learn this lesson…so why not start as soon as possible).  It is a great chance to teach your child how scripture applies to their lives. While my husband was in seminary we were privileged to observe a great Christian couple in our church raise their four children to be able to apply scripture to life situations because of the way they disciplined them.  If their child disobeyed, they had a verse for that.  If their child told a lie, they had a verse for that.  And they used those verses in conversation to rebuke and instruct their children so that it didn’t seem awkward and confusing. Here’s an example of what I could have said to my daughter once she had calmed down.

“You lost control of yourself today didn’t you? When you threw a fit in the store you were not practicing self-control.  Did you know that the bible tells us that a person without self-control is like a city or a house with broken down walls.  What would happen if our house didn’t have any walls? We would not be safe, would we? Animals, and rain, and wind and snow and other people could get in and hurt us. God wants us to have self-control because it keeps us safe.  Having control of yourself keeps out bad thoughts and bad actions that can cause bad things to happen.  But the good new is that the bible also says that if we love Jesus and we have faith in him, he will help us to have self-control.  It is hard to have self-control….it is hard not to throw fits, isn’t it? But the more we love Jesus and follow him, the more we will learn to have self-control.  That is why mommy has to punish you…because Jesus has put me in charge of helping you to learn about self-control and about following him. Do you understand?

  • Proverbs 25:28
  • Galatians 5:22-23

3. Talk about consequences. Children must learn the consistent patterns of actions and consequences or they begin to think they can get away with disobeying and acting out.  If nothing bad happens when they misbehave, why should they act any differently?  Sometimes consequences are deliberately introduced such as in the situation with my daughter at the restaurant. I explained to her that the plans had been to go to Nana’s house after we ate so that she could play with her cousins, but because she did not have self-control, we had to leave and go straight home.  I made the decision to take away a privilege. But sometimes the consequence is a natural part of the situation.  For example, if your child left their toys outside when you asked them to bring them in, a consequence may be that the toys get ruined in the rain.  That is a natural consequence.  But in either case, the consequences must be discussed so that they child is aware of the correlation.

4. Follow through with the punishment.  This is something that I really struggle with.  I often make idle threats or set up a punishment and forget about it, or take away a privilege only to return it a short while later because I feel bad.  But this is a very important step in the process.  If punishment is non-existent, the child becomes out of control because they do not connect their wrong action with anything negative. If punishment is sporadic, the child becomes confused and frustrated because they do not know what to expect.  So don’t say, “If you don’t stop throwing a fit, you will not have your birthday party” unless you really intend on canceling their birthday party.  And if you have a tendency to forget about punishments like I do, write a reminder where you know you will see it so that you (and your fellow disciplinarian in the house) remember, Sarah got her Barbie taken away because she threw a fit at the store. She may not have it back until she can go to the store without throwing a fit. And I need to be reminded that a punishment is for my child’s good and I should not feel bad about doing it…it is destructive and harmful to my child not to punish them.

5. Pray! I will be honest…I often, wrongfully, leave this step out of the process.  I become emotional and overwhelmed. I become frustrated and self-focused.  And I forget that God has a remedy for all of those feelings.  God offers a chance for us to bring our feelings to him and he will, if we ask, shed light on our situation…giving us peace and wisdom in the chaos.  Not only should we pray for our thoughts and actions but we should pray for the child as well.  God has entrusted us with the discipline and encouragement and love and nurturing of these little souls…they are not just children, they are eternal souls given to us to guide and influence so that they will someday grow and be called to faith in God.  Should we not then pray for them?…crying out on their behalf for them to be saved…praying for God’s will to be done in their lives…praying that they will make good decisions and that their hearts will be open to the teaching that we provide.

A tantrum is not such a bad thing…when it can be used to teach a good lesson in self-control and to teach me, as a parent, to love and discipline my child in the right way. A fit can actually be a productive tool when it has taught me to trust in God and pray for my child and to seek wisdom from the Word of God.