We were going to continue our “Best Deals for Moms of Teenagers” series today but then I saw these two posts and just had to pass them on to you. What great perspective for the Monday after Easter—or any Monday for that matter.
The first is from Stephen Nichols. “Easter is over” he observes, but: “Being faithful in the routines, on the Mondays after the Sundays, is important. It is as inversely important as it seems unglamorous.”
Nancy Wilson’s thoughts in her post “Abounding Works” run along the same lines. She writes, “The good news continues to be good news from one morning to the next. So, even though I’m mopping up from the feasting, the rejoicing extends from one Sunday to the next, all year long.”
Read these posts in full (they are short and sweet). Let the joy of Easter Sunday break into your unglamorous Monday; allow Christ’s death and resurrection to fill you with transcendent joy this day.
On this Good Friday we want to pass along a few ideas for reminding our families of the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection, and sharing the good news of the gospel with others.
First of all, the folks from St. Helens Bishopsgate in the UK who brought us “That’s Christmas” have two new videos “That’s Easter: Death to Life” and “That’s Easter: Life to Death.” Watch, reflect, rejoice, and share with fellow Christians and unbelieving friends and family.
Also, it’s too late to order them now (although you could consider making your own), but on Sunday the Whitacres will again be using Resurrection Eggs from Family Life Ministries to create an Easter egg hunt for our children. Each of the twelve plastic eggs contains an object (you could use Scripture references instead), and together they tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I must confess we add some candy as well!
Finally, our friend Rebecca shared with us one of her Easter traditions with her daughters—Resurrection Cookies. “Not only do they help us remember what we are celebrating,” she writes, “but we find them yummy and pretty heart healthy too.”
1 cup pecans (halves or whole) 3 egg whites 1 cup sugar 1 tsp vinegar pinch of salt wooden spoon Ziploc bag Bible Tape (Packing tape works best)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pecans in Ziploc bag and let children beat them with the wooden spoon until broken into small pieces. Read John 19:1-3 and remind them that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
2. Let each child smell (or taste) the vinegar. Pour 1 tsp into the mixing bowl. Read John 19:28-30 and explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.
3. Add the egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Read John 10:10-11 Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.
4. Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it, then brush it into the bowl. Read Luke 23:27. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed Jesus’ followers as well as the bitterness of our own sin.
5. Add 1 cup sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because of His great love for us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16
6. Beat with mixer on high for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3. Explain that the color white represents the purity of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.
7. Fold in the broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper (or parchment). Read Matt. 27:57-60. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.
8. Place the cookie sheet into the preheated oven. Close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape to seal the oven door. Read Matt 27:65-66. Explained that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.
9. Go to bed. Read John 16:20 and 22. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were very sad when the tomb was sealed.
10. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are empty!! On the first Easter Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matt 28:1-9. HE HAS RISEN!!!
May this truth—that Jesus Christ has died for our sins and risen from the dead—ignite our souls with joy this weekend!
All parents are bound to the command in Ephesians 6:4 to “bring [our children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” While this verse is addressed to fathers, Scripture is clear that a mother’s participating is equally significant (Prov. 1:8; 6:20; 31:26; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20).
Pastor John MacArthur explains that the word discipline in Ephesians 6 means “enforced conformity to the heart and the life to God and His truth.” Discipline is a strong word that implies deliberate and committed action on the part of parents. It insists that we go to whatever lengths are required to deter our children from sin and instead direct them in paths of righteousness. My husband used to express his resolve to obey his command by telling our daughters, “If necessary, I will throw my body in front of you to prevent you from sinning.”
C.J.’s statement might sound extreme; however, I believe it is biblical. Given the seriousness of sin before a holy God, we as parents must seek to restrain our children from bringing reproach to God’s name and pain to others—not to mention sparing them the bitter consequences. We must make every effort to train our teenagers and redirect them toward a lifestyle that brings glory to God and that aligns with His Word.
Ultimately, our desire is for our teenagers to experience the blessings and favor that flow from a life of obedience to God.
How can we make the best use of our time by loving our teenagers? Here are two more simple ideas:
5. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage. Proverbs gives abundant proof that encouraging words refresh our teenagers’ souls: “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul” (16:24); “A good word makes him glad” (12:25) and “a gentle tongue is a tree of life” (15:4). Let’s ask ourselves: are the words our daughters hear from us primarily condemning and corrective or positive and uplifting? Do our words give them life and make them glad? While correction is necessary at times, our daughters should be the constant recipients of our encouragement.
And this encouragement can come in many forms and for many reasons. We can write a note, send a
text or e-mail, encourage them in front of someone else, or simply tell them of our love. We can point out their personality traits and unique talents we appreciate. We can draw attention to ways they have grown in their passion for God or love for others; we can remind them of God’s help in the midst of difficult situations. These are all examples of what my husband calls “Evidences of God’s Grace”—ways God is at work in our teenagers lives. We must not let a day go by without communicating these encouraging thoughts to them.
6. Make memories. One of my favorite ways to express tender love for my children was to plan special outings and find
unique ways to make memories. Today we have a whole collection of memories that we review often with fondness and laughter. Both the planned activities and the spontaneous moments can all be potential memories if we apply a little creativity. And don’t forget to throw in a surprise or two. Everybody loves surprises—even teenagers!
These ideas are a sampling of the endless ways we can express our tender love to our teenagers. Tender love liberally scatters gospel seeds in our teenagers’ lives. We can trust God to cause these seeds to take root and grow into a mature love for Him.
How can we as mothers cultivate and express tender love for our teenagers? Here are a few ideas:
1. Pray. A godly mother’s prayers have “great power” (James 5:16), and so who better to pray for our daughters than us? No one knows them the way we do. No one is more familiar with the unique temptations and pressures they face every day. No one can pray for them with keener insight or greater compassion. We should be committed to loving our teenagers by faithfully praying for them. And what’s more, we should inform them of our prayers. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.”
2. Take an interest. Make it a point to discover your teenagers hobbies and leisure pursuits. Talk to him or her about them and learn to share in their enthusiasm. You may even go a step further and participate in their favorite activities. For example, my daughter Kristin developed a love for the art of cooking as a teenager. So I arranged for us to take some gourmet cooking classes offered by the county. This provided a meaningful experience for the two of us to share, and it was a tangible way to express my tender love for Kristin. “Taking an interest” need not require financial expense, but it does call for a heart for love and enthusiasm for the things your teenager enjoys.
3. Listen closely. Attentive listening entails an eagerness to hear everything with regard to our teenagers thoughts, feelings and experiences. It’s more than just keeping our mouths shut. Listening means making full eye contact, not looking around with a blank stare. We don’t’ interrupt, yawn, or prematurely formulate an answer. Careful listening will encourage our teens to bare their souls to us and share their innermost thoughts. So let’s make sure our teenagers know we want to hear all about it!
4. Express Affection. We should lavish affection on our teenagers from the moment they wake up until they go to bed at night. We can do this verbally by simply saying, “I love you,” throughout the day. We can express physical affection through hugs and kisses. In the midst of correction we should reaffirm our love, reminding them that we discipline them because we love them. We never want our teenagers to have a moment’s doubt about our love.
Two more ways to tenderly love your teen tomorrow….
Continuing our series on best deals for mothers of teenagers we turn to Titus 2:4 for a priceless nugget of mothering wisdom. It tells us to “love [our] children” tenderly. This may not appear to be a new and novel parenting tip, but J.C. Ryle insisted that this biblical principle is “one grand secret of successful training.”
This tender love he described as “a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys—these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily—these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to their heart.”
Similarly, Paul Tripp encourages us as parents to “remember what it was like to live in the scary world of the teen years.”
A simple test of the effectiveness of tender love requires only a moment of self-reflection. Don’t we all respond better to a person who takes an interest in us and expresses affection than to someone who tries to force or manipulate us to comply with their wishes?
Our teenagers are no different. Discipline, correction, and training are ineffective and even detrimental when void of tender love. But these same tools are more readily welcomed if they come with a kind and gentle hand. The biblical maxim to treat others as you would like to be treated most certainly applies here.
And wasn’t it a tender love that the Savior showed to us when He granted us salvation? He leads us with “cords of kindness” (Hos. 11:4), and “He does not deal with us according to our sins” (Ps. 103:10.
So the most important reason to show tender love is because it displays Christ’s love to our teenagers.
In difficult situations with our teenagers, a humble example is a powerful tool that breaks down barriers. A humble spirit helps us get behind the walls our teenagers may erect. It’s a doorway into their hearts, no matter how hard they have become.
From the time our children were old enough to communicate, C.J. and I asked them regularly, “If there is one thing about Daddy and mommy you could change, what would it be?” Often they said silly things like, “Give us more ice cream.” But occasionally their comments provided valuable insights into our deficiencies as parents. And although the phrasing matured over the years, we never stopped asking the question.
Why not ask your teenager the same question before the week comes to the close?
Only after we humble ourselves can we encourage our children to follow our example. Comments like “Why don’t you do what I say?” or “When will you ever learn?” will not promote godliness in our teens. But our humility will soften their hearts and inspire them to imitate our example.
And we must not hesitate to encourage them to follow our example (if it is indeed a humble, godly one!). Many parents consider that to be prideful. They simply hope their quiet example will produce the intended effect.
By the grace of God, it may. But we would be wise to emulate the apostle Paul’s more aggressive approach. In humility, he encouraged the believers to follow his example as he followed Christ. He exhorted them in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” And again in Philippians 3:17: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
So let’s take our teenagers by the hand and say, “Come, follow me in to the riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
If you’re like me, you’re painfully aware of the imperfect example you are to your teenagers. But this is good, for it brings us back to the cross.
We are sinful mothers; however, we must not forget that the Savior died for sinners such as we. We will never be able to hold up for our teenagers a perfect example; however, we should display the humble, honest example of a woman striving after holiness, by the grace of God.
In fact, our sins provide an opportunity for the light of the gospel to shine into our relationship with our teenager. If we humble ourselves, confess our sins, and ask for our children’s forgiveness, we will be showing the power of Christ’s saving work.
I vividly remember one interaction between my two daughters—Nicole and Kristin—when they were little. I had gotten angry with Kristin and afterwards I overheard Nicole reassuring her sister from vast experience: “Don’t worry, Kristin—Mom always asks forgiveness.” I didn’t know whether to be pleased or discouraged!
While I didn’t want to believe Nicole had so many illustrations to draw from, I was relieved that her experience, though not of a perfect mom, was at least tempered by some measure of humility on my part.
Paul Tripp concurs: “Living consistently with the faith does not mean living perfectly, but living in a way that reveals that God and his Word are the most important things to you. Such a [mother] can even honor God in [her] failure, with [her] humility in confession and [her] determination to change.”
Let’s walk carefully through this season with teenage children by giving them a humble example to follow.