Yesterday, I achieved a personal best in the event, “Preparing for Advent Season.” I’m usually still in recovery from Thanksgiving cleanup when I realize it is the night before December 1 and time to go on an emergency hunt for our advent stuff. Last year, I never even found our advent devotional and had to share with Janelle. It turned up some time in August, so I’m ready this year.
Each morning in December we light the appropriate Advent candles and my husband leads our children in Scripture reading and discussion from one of The Good Book Company’s Advent devotionals. The kids meanwhile munch on a piece of chocolate (for breakfast!) from the Advent Calendar house that Mom-Mom bought us a few years ago
Then every evening we light the candles again after dinner and read a Christmas story together. Over the years I’ve collected our favorite stories and developed a schedule of readings. Here it is below in case you want to follow or adapt. We’re going to try a few new ones this year as well so I’ll let you know how it goes.
Also new for Advent this year is a gift for your kids—that you give to yourself. A Better December by Steve Estes is a one-of-a-kind book that helps you apply the wisdom of Proverbs to the craziness of the Christmas season. Simple, humorous, short, and convicting, it will help you lead your family with wisdom and grace through a Christ-centered Christmas season.
I’m looking forward to the Advent Season where we anticipate the celebration of our Savior’s birth!
In other words, how can I be patient, loving, and consistent as I exercise my God-ordained parental authority in the home (Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:4)?
There are many things could be said. But since change is in the details, here are three practices that Mom reminds me and my sisters of regularly.
1. Prepare our heart.
Sadly, my sinful tendency is to be permissive in areas that God has commanded (e.g. obeying completely, immediately and cheerfully) and impatient about things that don’t exactly show up in God’s Word (depositing dirty fingerprints all over the walls).
To realign my parenting priorities, I must go back to God’s Word. I need a healthy dose of the fear of the Lord, and a reminder of what is most important to God for me to instill in my children: obedience, respect, and truthfulness, to name a few.
Meditating on passages of Scripture that outline my responsibilities as a parent helps me cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord in mothering. Listening to a sermon, getting encouragement from a God-fearing mother, reading even a few lines of a good book or a wise blog post, all can be ways of preparing my heart to be patient and consistent in parenting.
And remember, this is a temptation common to mothers! We shouldn’t be shocked or give into self-pity. Rather, we should eagerly receive the gospel opportunity to repent, experience forgiveness, and grow in grace. Given the deep-rootedness of our selfishness we will probably fight these temptations until our children leave home. But God’s grace wont give out before then—it outlasts and all our mothering temptations and needs.
2. Prepare our plan.
Mom is always encouraging me and my sisters to pick one or two areas (max) to focus on with our children. With my younger kids this usually is an area of disobedience, disrespect, or dishonesty; or it may be a sin that is causing the most disruption in the home. If we take five minutes at the beginning of a day or week to prayerfully consider our biblical goals for training our children, this will prevent many temptations to permissive parenting.
Then develop a clear, simple guidelines. What are we expecting and what are the consequences? If we can’t answer this question clearly to ourselves it won’t be clear to our children.
Now it’s time to hold the line. No exceptions. For me, I often have to write my parenting priority at the top of my to-do list. And I pray throughout the day that God will help me to be faithful.
And don’t fret. We can’t eliminate every vestige of permissiveness in a single day. We won’t do it perfectly. Our children probably won’t respond immediately. But we’ll be more consistent and patient than if we had never tried at all.
3. Prepare for a happy family.
When we take a few minutes to prepare our hearts and our plan, this will go a long way to helping us to be consistent and patient as we exercise our God-ordained authority in the home. And the entire family will benefit!
If we are clear on our mothering goals, we will be more likely to resist the temptation to impatience. When we are focused on pleasing God we will be less likely to be permissive. We won’t be carrying around a load of guilt and irritation in our mothering. As a result, we will be more at peace.
And the more consistent we are, the happier our children are. Children thrive in the context of the gracious, consistent, exercise of parental authority. They love to know what to expect. When our children don’t have to worry that Mom is going to blow up about something one day and ignore it the next, when they understand they are being held to God’s standard and not the standard of Mom’s feelings, they feel happy and safe.
So consider, what is one way we can take a grace-enabled step toward faithful, patient parenting this week?
Q: I love having people over and find it a joy to serve and bless our family and friends. However, my husband doesn’t seem to be on the same boat when it comes to hospitality. In fact, he would prefer that we not have people over and spend time just us as a family. I know my first and foremost responsibility is to honor God by being submissive to my husband but how can I also serve in hospitality?
A: I so respect this woman’s desire to glorify God and honor her husband. Biblical submission doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and say: “oh well, my husband doesn’t want to show hospitality, I guess that’s that!” No, we must humbly, graciously, persevere in order bring about godly change in our home. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few ideas to prayerfully consider in light of God’s Word:
Pray. The hearts of husbands are in God’s hands. We must ask Him to give our husband a biblical conviction and desire to show hospitality (Pr. 21:1).
Ask. We must not rush to judgment as to why our husband is hesitant about hospitality, but ask him and be sure we understand. Maybe our idea of hospitality is different from his in terms of time, frequency, number of guests, menu, etc. Or maybe he has legitimate concerns that are behind his reluctance (rest, family time, budget, etc.). Maybe fear of man or laziness are temptations that keep him from practicing hospitality: He may find it difficult to talk to other people, or maybe he doesn’t prefer lots of children messing up the home, or perhaps he thinks hospitality is too much work. He might simply be ignorant of the Scriptural commands and blessings of hospitality. So start by asking, not assuming or judging (James 4:11).
Help. In each of these scenarios we need to respond with wisdom born of love and humility. Let’s consider: As my husband’s helper, how can I make it easy for him to show hospitality? Maybe we need to be willing to practice hospitality in a way that is different than we’re used to, but serves our husband. If he prefers a small dinner instead of a big party, or would like to schedule hospitality instead of being spontaneous, let’s consider how we can adapt to him. If our husband has legitimate concerns for our family’s well being, we should take them seriously. Maybe we need to work within a certain budget, or schedule non-negotiable family times, or come up with a better plan for preparation. If we think fear or laziness is behind our husband’s hesitation, let’s think of ways we can come alongside and encourage him to grow. Maybe we can create questions to help him engage others in conversation or assure him that we’ll take full responsibility for prep and clean up. Or maybe we can ask if he’d be willing to read and study the topic of hospitality together. Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch is a great place to start (Gen. 2:18).
Wait. If we’ve already encouraged and even appealed to our husband on this matter, but he is still resistant, it may be the time to wait. But this is a busy kind of waiting. We must actively guard against self-righteousness and bitterness. Let’s look for ways to encourage him and focus on God’s grace at work in his life. Let’s not withhold affection. And above all, we should continue to pray that the Holy Spirit would work in his heart. In the meantime, we can look for ways to practice hospitality that are agreeable to our husband such as having people over while he is at work or hanging out with friends at other locations. And wait expectantly—God is always at work! (Ps. 37:3-7a)
Trust. Ask God for wisdom to discern the time for another appeal. Maybe you can ask your husband if he is willing to meet with a godly couple in your church to talk about hospitality. But if he is still resistant after all these efforts, you must rest in God’s sovereignty. He has ordained these circumstances and He is working through them for you and your husband’s good (Rom 8:28).
We hope these simple suggestions are helpful. But our ultimate hope is in the fact that the Wonderful Counselor is eager to help you. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” he promises. “I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Ps. 38:8).
We watched this at our Independence Day get together today and cried. Thank you to all of the American soldiers who serve our country, and thank you to the families of active duty troops for your sacrifice. May God richly bless you all!
As a mom with young kids, summer is full of endless possibilities and countless hours to fill, depending on how you look at it. I get excited about all the memories we can make and overwhelmed by all I think I need to accomplish for a truly “successful” summer. I’ve got to go berry picking and set reading goals and make popsicles and get out the sprinkler, and the list goes on.
I’m trying to learn from my mistakes. If I try to do too many things, I end up failing to do most of them. So I want to start with the most important summer mothering goal: training my children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
Teaching and training our children in the ways of the Lord requires intentionality. And so, in addition to the daily devotions my husband leads at breakfast, I decided to choose one area that I wanted to focus on with my children. Thus, I’ve inaugurated the “Summer of Kindness.”
My goal—and check back with me at the end of the summer on this!—is to focus on this one area for the next two months, and hopefully cultivate a greater culture of kindness amongst my four children.
I am going to try to lead the children to memorize at least one verse about kindness together, to talk to them about kindness in Scripture, promote kindness through encouragement and even a kindness contest, and to be faithful to bring appropriate consequences for unkindness.
Now I’m sure my plan will morph over the next eight weeks or so, and it might even get derailed. And I don’t have any unrealistic expectations that my children will be perfectly kind to one another after this. But as one wise person once said, I’ll make more progress than if I had never tried at all.
And by targeting this one area for growth, I know it will help with all the other areas. So, I’m raising a glass of lemonade, and more than a few prayers to a summer of kindness.
Here is our new favorite side dish that we served with brats as part of this past Sunday’s Father’s Day menu. It should be noted that Nicole and Mom prefer to substitute (extra) cilantro for the parsley. Oh, and you can add shredded chicken to make this a main course. Add yummy rolls and it makes a perfect summer meal!
1 box couscous, cooked
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 3 limes, juiced
In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients except the olive oil and lime juice. Add olive oil and lime juice right before serving.
Just a reminder that Mother’s Day is around the corner and the 52home store order deadline for guaranteed delivery before the big day is May 1st. Don’t forget to enter the code MOM at checkout to receive 10% off your entire order.
In grateful memory of the life and ministry of Edith Schaeffer (1914-2013).
“I feel very strongly that this modern fear of the home becoming non-existent can be countered only if those of us who want to be sure our little spot is really a home take very practical measures to be sure that it is just that, and not a collection of furniture sitting in some sort of enclosure being protected from wind and storm. Of course, human relationships make a house into a home: either the relationships within the house, or the welcome and understanding that guests find. Human relationships depend on communication. But this communication takes time. It is also helped by atmosphere, and the atmosphere is helped by the ‘things’ which are arranged with love and with an expression of creativity in a visible form.” The Hidden Art of Homemaking, p. 99
“There needs to be a homemaker exercising some measure of skill, imagination, creativity, desire to fulfill needs and give pleasure to others in the family. How precious a thing is the human family. Is it not worth some sacrifice in time, energy, safety, discomfort, work? Does anything come forth without work?” What Is a Family?, p. 45
If you take a survey among Christians and Non-Christians on what is the most important holiday for the Christian, the majority will affirm that it is Easter. But have you ever had the feeling that you just didn’t properly celebrate Easter because you let it sneak up on you? In more liturgical traditions, this hasn’t always been the case. For the last 1700 years many parts of the church have given attention to what’s called “Holy Week”. This is the week dedicated to remembering the last week of Jesus’ life, from Palm Sunday to Maunday Thursday to Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday.
We want to encourage you to not let Easter sneak up on you this year. To that end, here are some suggestions for Holy Week, along with a few resources to assist you:
Read the events of Holy Week in the gospels.
The most important way to prepare ourselves for Easter is through reading and meditating on Scripture. lists the events of Jesus’ final week along with the gospel texts that record them. This is ideal for helping one read through the relevant gospel passages during Holy Week.
2013 at 10:22 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Homemaking is a vocation often filled with mundane tasks and repetitive chores, most of which are performed in obscurity. It demands a colossal amount of serving and sacrifice. Sometimes between scrubbing toilets and laundering dirty clothes, we can lose sight of the significance of our calling. We look around and perceive everyone engaged in meaningful work. Everyone, that is, except us. And our vision for working at home begins to flag.
What we need is a biblical perspective. For in God’s economy, homemaking is a high and noble calling. By “working at home” we can present the gospel as attractive to unbelievers (Titus 2:4). Our homes can actually be a showcase for the gospel.
And our homes can be a place of momentous ministry. They are strategic locations from which we can reach out and extend care to those who don’t yet know Christ.
Dawson Trotman, founder of the group called the Navigators, once said: “I believe with all my heart that one of the greatest soul saving stations in the world is the home.” And I love what one person observed about Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s wife, Edith: “ As many people were brought to the Lord through Mrs. Schaeffer’s cinnamon buns as through Dr. Schaeffer’s sermons!”
As we realize the exceptional fruit that working at home can bear, we will be inspired to fashion an abode that rivals Peter Marshall’s description of a home he once visited: “There was…an atmosphere in which it was impossible to keep from thinking of God.”
Regardless of their size and style or our financial status, our homes can exude warmth and provide refreshment for all who walk through their doors. They should be pleasant havens for our husbands and children, sanctuaries where we offer care and hospitality to other Christians, and gateways from which we extend the gospel to family, friends, and neighbors.
While we long for our heavenly home, let’s strive to make our earthly home a place of peace, order, joy, and laughter. And let’s make this our prayer: “Lord help me to build the kind of home where all who enter find it ‘impossible to keep from thinking of God.’”
All the boys in our family have recently spent hours listening to the action-packed Jonathan Park radio drama adventures. From the website: The adventures follow Jonathan Park, son of paleontologist, Dr. Kendall Park. While running from a storm, Jonathan and his father collide with the Brenan family as they seek shelter in a hidden cave. After discovering a massive dinosaur graveyard that shows evidence for a worldwide flood, these two families have combined forces to build a new museum, open the fossil discovery, and the hidden cave to spread the message of the Creator!
Updated from the Picture Bible my sisters and I grew up with, the Action Bible now includes dramatized audio. A wonderful way to introduce kids to the drama of Scripture and it has already sparked many a spiritual discussion amongst the cousins.
As soon as the boys get out of school on Monday afternoon, they ask: “Is the podcast ready, yet?” They can’t wait to listen to Pop-Pop and Uncle Chad talk sports and as a mom I love that they are learning about sports from a biblical perspective.
Growing up, my sisters and I always wanted a big brother. You know, to defend us against bullies and for other equally important reasons. Well, it just so happens that I inherited two such big brothers when Nicole and Kristin married Steve and Brian. They have never had to defend my honor against bullies but they have come in handy over the years.
And one such time happened last Sunday night when Steve pulled a blender full of orange yumminess out of the refrigerator and gave me a taste. Score one new recipe! Steve has been making homemade Orange Julius and it is easy and delicious. I now have a blender full (or at least it was full last night) sitting in my fridge. And you should have a blender-full in your fridge too.
“I believe it ought to be our continual aim and desire to go forward, and our watchword on every returning birthday and at the beginning of every year, should be ‘more and more’ (1 Thess. 4:1): more knowledge, more faith, more obedience, more love. If we have brought forth thirtyfold we should seek to bring forth sixty; and if we have brought forth sixty, we should strive to bring forth a hundred. The will of the Lord is our sanctification, and it ought to be our will too (Matt 13:23; 1 Thess. 4:3).” ~J.C. Ryle