2013 at 10:56 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
Thanks to so many of you who sent in thoughts about their mom for our Mother’s Day contest. We look forward to sharing our favorites with you real soon.
And thanks also for your strong response to our recent series reminding all of us not to neglect our pastors teaching. Writing and thinking about the grace we receive through preaching has made me more grateful than ever for my pastors and each sermon I have the privilege to sit under. We hope your pastor felt your encouragement as well.
We have at least two more “timely cautions” that we can’t wait to talk about, but we are going to push them off for a few weeks because we are finishing up a big project that we’re excited to tell you about soon. These particular “cautions” are so important to us that we want to give them careful thought as we share them with you. So we’ll still be blogging regularly but our content will be on the fun and lighter side for the next few weeks. We hope you’ll enjoy your Spring with us!
2013 at 7:05 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
“Preaching should make such a difference to a man who is listening that he is never the same again. Preaching in other words, is a transaction between the preacher and the listener. It does something for the soul of man, for the whole of the person, the entire man; it deals with him in vital and radical manner.” ~Martyn Lloyd-Jones
2013 at 2:46 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
Before we move on in our little “Timely Cautions” series, we want to encourage you to encourage your pastor.
We presented this as our first topic because we believe nothing—no program or institution or book or blog—is more important for the recovery and effectiveness of the gospel in our generation than the local church, and that effectiveness is directly linked to the faithful preaching of God’s Word by local church pastors.
These days, we are blessed to have so many opportunities to receive sound teaching. But if our biblical priorities are in order, then our local church pastor’s gospel-centered preaching should uniquely shape our growth and understanding of God’s Word.
That’s why we want to encourage you to drop your pastor a note. Tell him specifically how a sermon has transformed your thinking, created fresh affection for the Savior, helped you to grow in godliness. Encourage your pastor and you will serve your entire church. And you will be refreshed as you recall the gracious work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of God’s Word.
So don’t wait. Send him a message right now!
Our prayer and hope is that this generation of women will be known as women who were devoted to the preaching of God’s Word—to listening and applying the Bible. And that by the grace of God we would pass that legacy on to the next generation. May it be said of us that we did not neglect our pastor’s teaching.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in teaching and preaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17
2013 at 1:39 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
So how did you benefit from your pastor’s sermon yesterday? One girltalk reader wrote in to tell us how:
I’m a 20 year old student at the University of Arkansas. I attend and serve in faithfully a wonderful, Christ-centered church, so when you began the latest series on preaching, I must confess that I paid little attention. I thought, “Oh, I don’t really need this. This is for those other people that look for excuses not to go to church or are always critical of their pastors’ sermons. That’s not me.” So I lightly skimmed the articles, closed the webpages, and went on with my life.
Then, this morning, it all came flooding in. When I sat down [for the sermon], my pastor continued our series on Zephaniah. I almost immediately tuned out. All my homework, life questions, and even convictions of my own sin swarmed and clung to me like so many wasps of hell, with only one purpose—distract me from the sermon.
Praise be to God, it only took Him a matter of moments to bring that realization home, and I thought of the little I had gathered from your blog on the importance of preaching. I flung the thoughts and worries off as best I could and trained all my focus on what my pastor was saying. It was not easy, but I forced myself, at the exclusion of all else, to take in his message from The Word.
Not surprisingly, I came away joyful and refreshed. I was renewed in my fervor to find my satisfaction in Christ alone and to live with a bright, eternal mindset rather than my grimy, earthbound one. Our Lord was faithful, and the sermon was precisely what I needed to hear (what I REALLY needed, not what I thought I needed).
So thank you for writing about preaching. I intend to go back and read those posts all the more carefully, and come to the house of God with prayerful humility in the future.
2013 at 9:10 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
I was running errands with my kids yesterday, and playing our favorite in-the-car game: Ask Mommy 100 Questions Before We Get Home. In between the usual “What’s for dinner?” and “What does that sign say?” my son Jude threw out a new one:
Why is the Bible so important?
To which I was very happy to explain that the Bible is the most important thing, because it is the very Word of God.
I believe this with my whole heart and I dearly want my children to believe it too. But the thought struck me—do I always live like it is true?
For if the Bible is the Word of God and the most important thing in my life, then the preaching of that Word should be the most important event of my week. And if the preaching event is the most important event in my week, then it should shape the priorities in my week. Right?
But to my shame I often plan my week around my to-do list or my children’s activities. Or I find myself looking forward to a family gathering or coffee with a friend more than the preaching of God’s Word. Although I faithfully attend church on Sunday, I sometimes show up tired or distracted.
And then I don’t draw the spiritual benefits God has ordained from the preaching of His Word.
So here are a few practical habits or disciplines, that when I am faithful to apply them, help me to keep the most important event of my week most important.
I need to prepare my heart and my schedule. The Puritans taught me this years ago. They would begin to prepare their hearts on Saturday evening in anticipation of the Sunday morning service. We can prepare our hearts by reading the passage our pastor will be preaching from, spending time in prayer to quiet our hearts, confess sin, and pray for illumination. We can prepare practically (unlike I did a few weeks ago!) by getting food and clothing planned and set out to make for a peaceful morning. We can avoid scheduling multiple events late into the evening that leave us rushed and tired Sunday morning.
While the fellowship that occurs before and after a Sunday meeting is a visible sign of the health of our relationships with the people of God, preaching should be our first listening priority. This may mean we avoid the temptation to check our smartphone or let our mind wander during the service. That we ask God for grace to focus solely on what the preacher is saying. I know for Mom’s with infants or small, clingy children it can be difficult if not impossible to listen to the Sunday sermon. Take heart—this season will soon be over and if you are caring for a fussy child you are doing what God has called you to do. But be alert to ways you too can make listening a priority. Maybe you can adjust your infant’s feeding schedule or bring toys/snacks for your child. If you are in a separate room with a video feed, make listening to the sermon (and not chatting with friends) the most important goal of the hour. And thanks to modern technology, you can benefit from listening to your pastor’s sermon some other time during the week.
Several godly “older” women I know make it a priority to review the Sunday morning sermons in their Monday morning quiet time. This is a habit I’ve been sporadic at but always benefit from when I do. One of my favorite practices is choose a good commentary to help me study the book of the Bible our pastors our preaching from in my quiet times. And finally, don’t take lightly the conviction or encouragement to change that comes to you during the preaching of God’s Word. Act on it! This is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through His Word and He is eager to help you apply.
One more thought—It is sobering for me to remember that my children are watching. I want to do more than just tell Jude that the Bible is the most important thing to me. I want to live it.
Now this list is by no means exhaustive, but I have stuffed a bunch of ideas in one post. I don’t mean that to be overwhelming—especially to moms with young kids. Starting with myself, I want to spur us all on to a greater love of God’s Word. Let’s start small but let’s start. Let’s make the preaching of God’s Word the most important part of our week.
2013 at 8:12 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
It was raining buckets Sunday morning, and I woke up late because one of my children had kept me up during the night.
As I reheated my coffee—which had already brewed, stayed warm, and shut off before I woke up—I stared at my kitchen counters which were covered with grocery bags full of non-perishables I had yet to put away from last night’s grocery run.
After a swig or two of Sumatra, I managed to find a pair of not-too wrinkled pants for my oldest son that he had prematurely thrown in the laundry hamper, and miraculously dug up four hair bands from the bottom of the pretties box because my girls wanted matching pig-tails (they are sisters, after all).
Of course, I couldn’t find anything for me to wear. And did I mention it was raining buckets?
I raced around, getting everyone ready for church, and the mess seemed to grow around me: cereal bowls unwashed, clothes on the floor, barrettes spilled everywhere. I knew it would take all afternoon to straighten up.
The thought passed through my head that what I really need, more than anything right now, is a quiet morning at home.
But on its heels came another, truer thought: No, what I really need, more than anything right now, is to hear preaching from God’s Word.
“Yes, I hear the sermon; but who is speaking? The minister? No indeed! You do not hear the minister. True, the voice is his; but my God is speaking the Word which he preaches or speaks. Therefore, I should honor the Word of God that I may become a good pupil of the Word.” ~Martin Luther
This, this is what I really need, more than anything.
I need to hear God speak to me.
And this conviction changes everything. For when I believe that God is speaking to me, each and every Sunday, through His Word, delivered by my pastor, then there is no moment of the week I look forward to more.
My pastor’s sermon is no longer an inconvenient interruption to my self-focused and hectic life; it is not one of a smorgasbord of equally good options whereby I can receive God’s Word; it is not boring or irrelevant or, at best mildly entertaining.
No, for one hour or so each week we gather to hear God speak to us through his Word. There is nothing we need more, nothing we should anticipate more.
God is speaking!
How quickly I lose sight of the wonder of this truth.
But my eagerness to hear God’s Word preached on Sunday is a measure of my hunger for God’s Word. If I am passionate about the Bible, I will be passionate about hearing God’s Word preached. If I am a “good pupil” of the Word then I will want to sit under gospel-centered, biblically faithful preaching more than I want to get some rest, clean my house, go shopping.
In other words, I can’t be passionate about the Word of God and indifferent to the preaching of God’s Word at the same time.
To love God’s Word is to love to hear God’s Word preached.
And this is what I need, more than anything.
2013 at 8:53 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Current Series
Our first caution may surprise or confuse you; it may seem irrelevant or uninteresting. But it isn’t a paid political announcement. No pastors asked us to drum up support for their weekly sermons.
We put out this caution flag because we believe that the greatest need for Christian women today (and in every day and age) is to be women of the Word.
That is why, since starting girltalk, we’ve stressed the importance of faithfully reading God’s Word and applying it to our lives. The Five O’Clock Club exists for this reason—to encourage women to do whatever it takes to make time daily to read God’s Word and pray (Deut. 8:3b).
That is also why we frequently recommend content from the Sunday sermon at our church. Not because it’s Monday and we have nothing new to say, but because we want to show that our blog has a context: Everything we write is grounded in, guided by, and flows out of the preaching ministry of our local church pastors.
You see, we believe that God is a speaking God (Gen. 1, Is. 55:10-11), that He has spoken to us through His Word, the Bible (Ps. 19, 2 Tim. 3:16-17), and that God has called and gifted certain men to preach and lead the church through the proclamation of that Word (Acts 6:4, 1 Tim. 1:13).
Do we want to hear God?
“God’s standard way of securing and maintaining His person-to-person communication with us, His human creatures, is through the agency of persons whom He sends to us as His messengers…Such were the prophets and apostles, and such supremely was Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son…That is the succession in which preachers today are called to stand.” ~J.I. Packer
Preachers are messengers from God. Not infallible, but called. Called to deliver God’s Word to God’s people. So if we are to be women of the Word, we must be devoted to our pastor’s teaching (Acts 2:42, Rom 10:14-17).
Through the proclamation of God’s Word, we hear God speaking to us. We are convicted of sin and called to worship. We are instructed and encouraged. Together, we behold the cross.
Since the preaching of God’s Word is so profound, we need to ask ourselves: Are we in danger of neglecting our pastor’s preaching?
2013 at 9:31 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
The beautifully illustrated children’s version of Pilgrim’s Progress is aptly named “Dangerous Journey.” And so is the Christian life. “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come” wrote John Newton, looking back on his life. Sometimes these dangers come in the form of active threats, persecution, and trial. But dangers also come disguised as easier, more effective, or more exciting paths; in the end, though, they are anything but.
In John Bunyan’s original Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and Hopeful are brought by the shepherds to the mountain called “Caution” where they are shown men wandering aimlessly in a meadow. When Christian asked the shepherds the meaning of this sight he was told, “Because the right way was rough in that place, they chose to go out of it into that meadow, and there were taken by Giant Despair.”
That is often how it goes, isn’t it? “Because the right way was rough in that place” and the meadow seemed so close and lush, we wander. So as Christian women today, what dangers should we be on the lookout for? Where are we tempted to wander from the straight and narrow way of God’s Word?
Up next here at girl talk, we want to do a short series addressing some potential “dangers”—not those of persecution or trial, but of the more subtle kind. Specifically ways in which we may be tempted, through the “rough places” of cultural pressures and our wayward hearts to neglect the clear teaching of Scripture.
We present these cautions to our own souls first, and only then offer them to you as fellow travelers. Even as we have discussed them amongst ourselves I have found myself convicted afresh, sobered by how easily I drift.
Now I know, “Timely Cautions” may not seem like a very cheery subject, but avoiding danger is about finding the path of life, a path that shines brighter and brighter until full day (Pr. 4:18).
2013 at 10:30 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood The Gospel Motherhood Series Current Series
“I feel like such a failure. I’m a horrible mom and a terrible wife. I’m exhausted, depressed, and overwhelmed.”
Sound like a mom you know? How would you counsel this woman? What gospel-centered words would you give her? Maybe you are that mom. As your soul’s counselor, how do you apply the gospel?
So often, in our sincere desire to be gospel-centered, we skip over a biblical diagnosis and assume we know what the problem is.
“You’re caught in the performance trap,” we tell the discouraged mom. “You just need to remember that God’s approval isn’t based on your performance. He loves you, in spite of all your failures. He doesn’t expect you to do it all or be a perfect wife or mom. You just need to rest in God’s grace.”
True, to a point.
But Scripture trains us to be more careful counselors, to apply the varied grace of God appropriately to various mothering discouragements:
“[A]dmonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thes. 5:14).
In other words, gospel-centered counsel looks different for different counselees.
“Discouraged Mom” may, in fact, be experiencing genuine conviction for anger or impatience or some other area of sin in her mothering. She may need an exhortation to repent and encouragement in the grace of God available to help her to grow (1 John 1:9).
Or a mom may be discouraged because she is comparing herself to other moms or cultural expectations of motherhood. She may need to hear our Savior’s words, “What is that to you, you follow me?” (John. 21:22)
Maybe a mom is looking to her children’s performance as the measurement of her mothering success. She may need to be reminded of her call is just to be faithful, and to trust God with the fruit. Her children’s sin isn’t the final measurement of her motherhood (Gal. 6:9).
Often a discouraged mom is an exhausted mom. She needs a good night sleep and an hour in God’s Word.
I could go on, but point is, gospel-centered counseling doesn’t make a blank check out to grace and hand it over to a discouraged mom. We must be diligent to discern the specific gospel-truth that applies to a particular discouraged mom in her unique situation.
So whether we’re counseling a friend or our own soul, let’s be wise, gospel-centered counselors.
2013 at 9:37 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Motherhood Series Current Series
A few months ago, when the weather was mild and our kids were playing together at a park, Janelle and I chatted about writing a few mothering posts for the blog.
“I don’t know,” she hesitated, when I pitched the idea. “I am very aware of my sins and shortcomings as a mom.”
“Me too!” I agreed. “But maybe that’s why we should write about it. If nothing else it will challenge us to be more faithful mothers.”
“I guess so,” she agreed, before calling to our children that it was time to go. A chorus of complaints met this announcement and we both looked at each other and laughed. “Yep, we’ve got a lot of work to do!”
We aren’t perfect mothers and we don’t pretend to be.
But that doesn’t mean we are content with imperfect. The mothering bar we’re aiming for is high. It has been set in place by God himself: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48).
As moms we must be humble and admit we fall short of the bar of mothering perfection. Very. Far. Short. We are not always patient with our children. We are not always faithful to teach and train and discipline. We give in to selfishness, anger, laziness, and grumbling.
That’s why a mother who is grounded in the gospel looks two ways. She really does have eyes in the back of her head.
A gospel-centered mom first looks back to her justification in Christ. She remembers that all of her mothering sins and shortcomings have been nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ. That he became sin for her that in him she might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
But she doesn’t stop there. The gospel-centered mom looks forward too. She strives with the Holy Spirit’s power that works within her to be perfect as her heavenly Father is perfect. She stands on the ground of forgiveness and accesses grace—through God’s Word, through counsel from godly women, and through prayer—to grow as a mom. To be more patient, more joyful, more consistent, more loving. To be perfect.
Moms need grace. We need grace to admit that we are weak and grace to not settle into those weaknesses. We need grace that frees and forgives and grace that gives power to grow.
2013 at 9:23 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
Motherhood Young Children Series Current Series
Karissa wrote in with a great question:
In a recent post you talked about “picking one thing” and being consistent about it in the discipline of a toddler. I guess my question is: How? There are multiple little issues of obedience that are clear to my 19-month-old, but I also want to be consistent about tantrum throwing. So what do I do about those other issues? Do I overlook her disobedience or lead her away from the “no touch” object? What do I do about those other obedience issues? Thanks for your input!
Great question, Karissa, and I think you’ve got the right idea. We most effectively train our children when we focus on one or two areas at a time. But very young children disobey in a myriad of ways! So how can we focus on one thing without losing ground in other areas?
I’m sure many moms have more wisdom than me, but here are a few ideas I’ve found helpful:
If temper tantrums are your “one thing” then consider ways to minimize other sources of temptation. If your daughter always heads for her favorite “no touch” item in the living room, maybe remove it for a time. If your son cries when you drive by the local park, then try taking another route home. If your child is eyeing another child’s toy dump truck, distract him with some blocks. Eliminating predictable areas of temptation can help you focus most consistently on the most important things.
If our child sins in ways we can’t ignore, seek to deal with it appropriately and move on. So if our child grabs a toy we need to help him return it, telling him as we do that it is wrong to grab. Or if she won’t come right away we may need to go get her and remind her to always come to mommy right away. These are important areas to deal with and should be our “one thing” sooner rather than later, but in the meantime it may help deal quickly with these issues and move on.
This requires patience. For example, we may find our child’s whining irksome, but if we have already decided that tantrums are a more urgent issue, we may need to bite our lip, smile, and model cheerfulness for the time being.
In conclusion, it might help to think ahead about your day: Where can I distract my child from temptation? Where can I overlook or redirect? And where do I need to focus all of my discipline and training?
Finally, as we’ve said all along, don’t grow weary in doing good. Your consistency in one area will produce fruit in many areas in your child’s life.
2013 at 9:37 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
Motherhood Young Children Series Current Series
Over the last few months Hudson has crossed that threshold from baby to toddler. His speech has taken off, his comprehension level is higher. He’s not my baby anymore. But with big boy words and actions have come big boy attitudes. Mike and I needed to become more intentional about training him to obey.
But where to start? Mom’s advice has always been so helpful here: “Choose one area at a time and be consistent.” As we considered our little guy, we decided to address screaming. For one thing, Hudson’s screaming had become clearly defiant. He screamed when he was mad or frustrated with us, one of his sisters, or with himself. He screamed when we didn’t let him have what he wanted. This was clearly an area where he needed to come under our loving, biblical authority and to learn self-control.
Not only was Hudson’s screaming a clear expression of disobedience, it had ramifications for family life. It made it difficult to take him out to the store or to a restaurant, it didn’t bless Caly or MJ as they tried to play with him, it caused babysitters to run the other direction. His high-pitched, badly-timed screams were kind of hard to ignore.
So a couple of months ago I buckled down and began intensive, focused training on this area. This meant I had to overlook or other ways Hudson lacked self-control such as throwing toys or his near-constant whining. Whenever Hudson screamed I repeated the same simple phrase, “No scream. Say ‘Yes Mommy.” Then I brought appropriate consequences.
Consistency was the hardest part. Sometimes it meant turning off the stove and dragging my pregnant self upstairs to address a screaming incident. But the consistent training is beginning to bear fruit in Hudson’s life.
Sure, he still screams, but not nearly as much as he used to. And even though we focused on this one area, it has spilled over into other areas as well. Most notably, Hudson is happier now. And his newly formed habits of obedience and self-control mean we can go to out to dinner and make memories as a family.
We’re just at the starting line of many years of training Hudson, but one area at a time, by the grace of God, we can make progress in teaching him to obey.
2013 at 8:05 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Motherhood Series Current Series
We cannot save our children. Which is why, when I see a rebellious teenager of Christian parents, my first thought is not, “Wow, those parents did a really bad job.” For all I know they are better parents than I will ever be.
The truth of God’s power to save, of His exclusive power to save, should be a source of immense comfort and hope to us as mothers. It is not our job to save our children! God has not placed this unbearable burden on our backs. Salvation is God’s and it is His alone. Not only should this flood our souls with comfort, it should fuel them with hope. Our God saves! Our God loves to save! “You have reason for hope as parents who desire to see your children have faith” writes Tedd Tripp:
“The hope is in the power of the gospel. The gospel is suited to the human condition. The gospel is attractive. God has already shown great mercy to your children. He has given them a place of rich privilege. He has placed them in a home where they have heard His truth. They have seen the transforming power of grace in the lives of His people. Your prayer and expectation is that the gospel will overcome their resistance as it has yours.”
But we must also watch ourselves, lest this hope-inducing truth morphs into a subtle “let go and let God” approach to mothering. We cannot save our children, but that doesn’t mean we are free from responsibility. God has called us to a significant task: we are to teach, train, and discipline our children so that they will obey, honor, and walk in the ways of the Lord. This is gospel work. It is hard work. And we must persevere in this work. We must be faithful, despite our failures, despite the apparent lack of fruit in our children’s lives.
And, then, when we have spent our strength doing diaper and discipline duty, we must turn and “leave all with the God of all.” For we are mothers, and only mothers. Servants who have only done our duty. We have planted. We have watered. And God—and God alone—can save. He will give the growth (1 Cor. 3:16).
2013 at 8:31 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Motherhood Series Current Series
If you only ever buy, read, and re-read one book on parenting, let it be J.C. Ryle’s Duties of Parents. It is short and sweet—just the right length for tired moms. It is clarifying, provoking, and encouraging. And even though it was written over a century ago, it is as relevant as ever. Here’s a thought or two:
We must not expect all things at once. We must remember what children are, and teach them as they are able to bear. Their minds are like a lump of metal — not to be forged and made useful at once, but only by a succession of little blows. Their understandings are like narrow-necked vessels: we must pour in the wine of knowledge gradually, or much of it will be spilled and lost. “Line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,” must be our rule. The whetstone does its work slowly, but frequent rubbing will bring the scythe to a fine edge. Truly there is need of patience in training a child, but without it nothing can be done.
Beware of that miserable delusion into which some have fallen, — that parents can do nothing for their children, that you must leave them alone, wait for grace, and sit still. These persons…would like [their children] to die the death of the righteous man, but they do nothing to make them live his life. They desire much, and have nothing. And the devil rejoices to see such reasoning, just as he always does over anything which seems to excuse indolence, or to encourage neglect of means.
I know that you cannot convert your child. I know well that they who are born again are born, not of the will of man, but of God. But I know also that God says expressly, “Train up a child in the way he should go,” and that He never laid a command on man which He would not give man grace to perform. And I know, too, that our duty is not to stand still and dispute, but to go forward and obey. It is just in the going forward that God will meet us. The path of obedience is the way in which He gives the blessing. We have only to do as the servants were commanded at the marriage feast in Cana, to fill the water-pots with water, and we may safely leave it to the Lord to turn that water into wine.
2013 at 8:17 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Motherhood Teenagers Young Children Series Current Series
Targeting our children’s hearts is a very important goal in gospel-centered parenting. Ultimately, I want my children to understand that their hearts are sinful and that they need a Savior. I also want to help my children discern the motives of their hearts—why they do what they do.
To this end, my husband and I provide regular instruction about the true state of their souls before a holy God. We also seek to teach them, primarily in more structured family times, about how sin works. Recently my husband, gave them a little Lying 101 lesson over breakfast: “We often lie because we want to look good, make others look bad, or stay out of trouble” he explained.
And in order to shepherd our children’s hearts, we watch them closely. We seek to discover and discern what motivates them, what makes them tick, what are their characteristic temptations and tendencies so we can parent them wisely.
But targeting the heart looks different, depending on the age and maturity each individual child. With our sons, Jack and Jude, who are 9 and 8 respectively, we are just beginning to spend more time talking about their hearts when they disobey or when an opportunity arises.
With our daughters Tori and Sophie (5 and 3) however, I don’t often spend a ton of time dialoguing and discussing their heart in moments of disobedience. Mostly that’s because when a fight breaks out and one of them is involved, there is lots of crying and wailing and I could ask penetrating questions about heart issues, but nobody would hear me.
But I also don’t expect them to always grasp “heart issues” at this young age. After all, as Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” I’m in my thirties and I still don’t always know why I do certain things! I can hardly expect my three-year-old to have it figured out by now.
A good long chat about heart issues may be wise parenting for a teenager or an older child, but what a three-year-old needs is consistent training and discipline. First they need to learn to obey. Heart issues, those will come in time.
So don’t become discouraged if your toddler doesn’t understand why he grabbed the toy or your five-year-old still doesn’t “obey from the heart.” This doesn’t mean you are failing as a mom. As long as you are lovingly and consistently training your little ones to obey and respect parental authority, you are fulfilling God’s commands.