2013 at 11:29 am | by Nicole Whitacre
My most embarrassing moment as “mom” took place before I had children of my own.
I was babysitting my toddler nephew Andrew and I took him to the grocery store. He spied a bag of Cheetos and when I told him “no” he proceeded to throw a big fit. Right there, in the middle of Giant Food, he threw himself down onto the floor and began kicking and screaming.
I was mortified.
All these people probably think he’s my kid and that I’m a really bad mom!
Now Brian and Kristin are some of the best parents I know. They were already working hard to train Andrew to obey and today he is an exceptionally mature thirteen-year-old.
But this was a new experience for me. Not until I had children of my own did I learn that every child throws at least one temper tantrum in the grocery store. It’s right there in the how-to-be-a-kid manual.
Even so, it’s hard not to be embarrassed when our kids put on a sin show for a curious crowd.
So when the time came and it really was my kid screaming for Cheetos in Giant Food, my mom’s advice was invaluable: “You shouldn’t be embarrassed when your child disobeys in public” she said. “He’s a child and he’s a sinner. That’s what they do. You should only be concerned if you aren’t faithfully training him to obey in private.”
In other words, we aren’t parenting for the crowd. We’re parenting for an audience of One.
We don’t teach our children to obey so that they will make us look good. We teach our children to obey because God has been good to us, and because we want our children to experience the goodness that comes from walking in His ways (Eph. 6:1-4).
Mothering under the gaze of God spurs us on to be faithful in the everyday mundane mothering moments when nobody else sees. But it also transforms our most embarrassing mothering moment into a beautiful opportunity to laugh at ourselves.
Sure, your most recent trip to the grocery store may not have been your proudest moment as a mom. But if, by the grace of God, you are faithful in private “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt. 6:18) in public.
2013 at 9:15 am | by Nicole Whitacre
“Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?” asked some one of a mother. “Because,” said she, “I find nineteen times is not enough.” Now, when a soul is to be ploughed, it may so happen that hundreds of furrows will not do it. What then? Why, plough all day till the work is done. Whether you are ministers, missionaries, teachers, or private soul-winners, never grow weary, for your work is noble, and the reward of it is infinite. The grace of God is seen in our being permitted to engage in such holy service; it is greatly magnified in sustaining us in it, and it will be pre-eminently conspicuous in enabling us to hold out till we can say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon
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 8:21 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Living Intentionally Motherhood
I was twenty-one years old and still living at home when my mom had hip surgery. Grandma came to stay and help out for a week or so. Of course my dad, my sisters, and me were perfectly capable of taking care of Mom. But serving her family was what Grandma did. So she came and cooked us meals and chatted with Mom and folded the laundry.
After about four or five days I began to feel a little impatient with Grandma.
You see, I was one of those idealistic, sometimes arrogant, often annoying, young women who had all kinds of dreams and ambitions to do great things for God but had no clue about what that actually meant. I was headed for the mission field (because missionary life is exciting, right?). I was going to teach women. I was going to write books. I was going to change the world for God.
I loved my grandma. She was sweet and kind. But she didn’t seem to have a vision beyond the boundaries God had set for her. She certainly didn’t “dream big.”
Grandma was, in my not-so-humble opinion, overly attentive to the cost per pound of pot roast or how much laundry detergent we had left. She got excited by the blue jay in the backyard. She clucked and fussed when one of her grandchildren got a slight temperature.
And this annoyed me. I didn’t have time to enter into these simple joys or concerns. I had bigger, deeper, things to think about. I quickly grew tired of her conversation, uninterested in her world. It seemed small to me.
A decade and a half later, I understand that it was my world that was small, my ambitions that were misguided.
Today I see that my Grandma’s delight in God’s creation, her diligent seeking of God through His Word and prayer, her faithful service to the Savior in her allotted sphere of influence—these things are the very definition of greatness. As Zach Eswine writes, “Every moment of obscure service makes the hall of fame in heaven.” It was Jesus, himself, who set the standard: “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Mt. 23:11).
And being a servant often means paying attention to the price of pot roast.
So while I dreamed my dreams of doing “great” things for God, I was, in fact, in the presence of true greatness. I know that now. And while I still long, more than ever, to do great things for him, I define “great” differently. I define it like Grandma.
2013 at 8:34 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
This past Thursday marked one year since my mom went home to her Savior. On the morning of the day she slipped earth’s bonds, my cell phone rang: “She’s fading fast. Come quick.” I drove to my sister’s house and walked into Mom’s room. She opened her eyes and smiled.
She always smiled when she saw me. When I came home from school or play I would open the door and simultaneously call out her name “Mom!” The cheerful response would always come back to me, from some corner of our little house:
“Here. I’m here!”
Mom was the most here person I have ever known. Her happy, contented, comforting presence made me and my siblings want to be around her, to talk to her. In fact, I thought nothing of interrupting her at any time day or night. She never grumbled or told me to go away. I always felt as if she was just waiting for me to come and unload my troubles or tell her some exciting piece of news. No one got more excited over my joys or concerned about my trials than Mom.
This same “here-ness”—the Bible calls it “hospitality”—attracted a menagerie of children and adults to her home and company. She became a grandmother to all the neighborhood children, a confidant to young women and care giver to the elderly. No person, big or little, was ever an interruption. They were her ministry. Her mission field.
I’ve thought a lot about my mom this past year, of course. I’ve realized, more than ever, what a deep and abiding impact she has had on my life. And I’ve wondered at this. What is it about my mom that has so deeply marked my life and soul?
Because what’s so extraordinary about my mom is how un-extraordinary she was. She was an average woman who kept a modest home and made simple meals. She rose early every morning to read her Bible and pray. Then she made breakfast, packed lunches, went to Publix, sorted socks, swept the porch, dusted the ceramic birds, listened to her children. She rejoiced with those who rejoiced and cried with those who cried.
She didn’t need position or recognition or accomplishments to make her happy or give her satisfaction. She simply delighted in her Savior and sought to obey him by being faithful to serve where God had placed her.
She didn’t excel at anything in particular. Except faithfulness.
“Befriend faithfulness” the Psalmist exhorts us (37:3).
That’s what Mom did.
And that is what I long to do. I want to be faithful, like my mom was, for the rest of my ordinary days. I want to seek God each day through prayer and His Word. I want to be “here” for my husband, for my children, for the women in my church and on my street whom God calls me to serve. And when my ordinary race is run I want to hear those words: “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master” (Mt. 25:21).
Mom isn’t here anymore. And I miss her more than ever. But she is there. In heaven with her faithful Savior.
And I am quite sure she is smiling.
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.
2013 at 8:20 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Motherhood Young Children
One of the most powerful illustrations is from the relationship of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. You may know the story. Helen was a young girl who, at the age of nineteen months, became deaf and blind as the result of an unknown illness. Her parents, at a loss as to how to help their suffering daughter, provided little restraint or discipline. So when Annie was hired to teach Helen, she made no progress at first, due to Helen’s wild and violent behavior. “It was useless to teach her language or anything else until she learned to obey me” Annie reasoned. So Annie began at the beginning. She insisted that Helen obey.
After an extended battle of wills, Annie won. Helen became calm and submissive, able to listen, and able to learn. And oh what she learned! This little girl, whose life was up until now a dark and lonely place, learned to communicate. She learned to “speak” and to “listen” through her hands. She learned to read. And so, Annie wisely concluded: “Obedience is the gateway for knowledge to enter the mind.”
So it is with our children. We have this all-precious gift to give to them—the good news of the gospel. We have much to teach them about God, who He is, what He has done, what His Word has to say about the world and about their lives. And yet to truly practice effective gospel-centered mothering we must first teach them to obey.
“Training must come before teaching” insisted Katherine Howard, Elisabeth Elliot’s mother. “[Teaching] is impossible unless the children cooperate. And they don’t cooperate unless they are disciplined from their earliest days. This discipline lays the groundwork for teaching.”
This is why Scripture equates a parents love with discipline and hatred with a lack of love (Prov. 13:24). Counterintuitive to the post-modern mind, but as true as ever. “Train up a child in the way he should go” Proverbs exhorts us, “even when he is old he will not depart from it” (22:6).
This is both an exhortation and encouragement to mothers. It is an exhortation to moms when we are tempted to neglect loving discipline and training—whether from laziness, busyness, fear of our children’s rejection, or biblical ignorance. We must not neglect this most important biblical mothering priority.
It is also an encouragement to moms who are “in the trenches.” You are faithfully—not perfectly, but consistently—training your young children to obey. You may see very little in the way of results so far. You may be worn out and discouraged. You may wonder if you are on the right track. You may worry because your mothering doesn’t “feel” very gospel-centered at the moment. But your child’s obedience isn’t opposed to the gospel. It is the gateway through which you can bring the gospel message.
So persevere. Be faithful. And I promise—better yet, God has promised!—that you will reap a harvest if you do not give up (Gal 6:9).
2013 at 7:21 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Motherhood Young Children Series Current Series
Whenever I get overwhelmed and mothering seems as complex as a calculus problem, my mom always helps me put things in perspective. “Gospel-centered mothering at this stage is simple,” she tells me. “Not easy, mind you. It requires sacrificial love, hard work, and consistency. But it isn’t complicated.”
My problem is that I am a professional complicator. If “complicating the simple” was a science they would have tenured me as a professor at some prestigious university by now. I chase every new rabbit trail of a mothering idea, and fret about the roads not taken with my children. In this self-constructed maze, I quickly lose sight of God’s priorities for mothering young children.
But Mom’s right. It isn’t that complicated. It comes down to two basic but crucial priorities: Obedience and Respect. Paul summarizes these twin child-training “musts” for the early years:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Eph. 6:20).
There are many good things that we can—and should—teach our children. But these two are essential if we want our children to enjoy a long and a good life, a life of gospel fruitfulness. This isn’t moralistic mothering. Training our children to respect and obey is God’s command. And it is essential to helping our children understand what it means to fear the Lord, to walk in obedience to Him.
“The child trained in biblical obedience is better able to understand the gospel” explains Tedd Tripp. “The power and grace of the gospel is most deeply understood, not by those who never face their biblical duties, but by those who do.”
Obedience is the gateway to understanding the gospel.
So as I consider at the beginning of this year how to train my children, I return to these two simple priorities. I ask myself: How am I doing at training my children to respect and obey us? How can I as a mother be more consistent, more effective, at teaching, training, and disciplining my children in these two areas?
Gospel-centered mothering in 2013? Not easy. But real simple.
2012 at 3:41 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
As a mom with two boys I’m always eager to point them to godly men, starting with their dad, who make the lessons we teach them “come to life.” Today my brother has an article about Tim Tebow and the recent attacks on his character. A great tool for parents to use with their children (and a great example for parents too!):
Proverbs 22:1 says: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
This verse explains what the media doesn’t seem to get about Tim Tebow. Character is more important to Tebow than being a starting quarterback. Honoring God means more to him than having a successful season.
“Ultimately, character is more important than reputation” explains John Kitchen in his commentary on Proverbs. “You can control your character (by God’s grace), but your reputation is not always within your power.”
Wise words from Mr. Kitchen. By God’s grace Tebow has been giving attention to his character since he became a Christian. And he will need God’s grace as talking heads, fueled by anonymous sources, continue to try to claw away at his reputation.
I’m sure Tim Tebow would be the first to admit that he is not flawless. He knows he is a sinner in need of a Savior. You don’t need anonymous sources with Tebow. Just ask him straight up. But Tebow has conducted himself impressively as he has been mistreated and maligned by the Jets and by the press.
No doubt these “phony as a three-dollar bill” type attacks will continue. But as Tebow continues to walk in integrity, by the grace of God, he will prove the attacks, and not his character, to be phony.
May God give him grace to continue to display true character, only possible because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2012 at 1:38 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Good Works Motherhood Young Children
Our Aunt Betsy (Ricucci) is our dad’s sister and one of the most encouraging people you will ever meet. On Sunday at church she passed on some very encouraging motherhood advice to me, and then followed up with an email yesterday. It was too good not to post. While I wish all of you could be in the same church with Aunt Betsy to receive her specific and godly encouragement each week, I hope every mother who is seeking to diligently teach her children to obey will receive these encouraging words as “just for you.”
I just wanted to clarify my quick encouragement to you yesterday. I had seen Janelle earlier and encouraged her as a mom and she said I should tell you too, so I tried!
As your mom said to me multiple times when I was a young mom: Don’t grow weary of the well doing on behalf of your wee ones! Every time you deny or disappoint their selfishness, no matter their response, is a win for you and ultimately a win for them! Don’t evaluate your mothering success by their response to your training initially, but by the fact that true biblical love looks out for their ultimate best interest. And their best interest is not to have selfishness rewarded but denied and overcome. (And isn’t that true of us too?!) So just know, when you must say “no” for the kiddos best good and their response may be wailing, you can have a biblical perspective that some sin has been wounded but their souls ultimately helped! This is true, biblical, sacrificial love that truly considers the greatest good of others. And those others are the precious lives of your children!
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Gal.6:9 This verse has always encouraged me so much! The promise of reaping a good harvest is not dependent upon the perfections of the good we do (we fail so often don’t we?!) but simply in not giving up. And I must depend upon His faithfulness to not give up. But, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” I Thess. 5:24
May God reward your faithful mothering with an awareness of His nearness, His working, His goodness and His faithfulness above all else.
Love you so very much!
2012 at 4:28 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood 52home Motherhood Adoption
Jude and Sophie have been legally our children since that happy day in Addis over a year ago now, when the Ethiopian judge declared “They are yours.” Today we visited a court in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to finalize the stateside process.
“I’ve got three grown boys of my own,” the judge informed me. “Do you realize that motherhood isn’t just until they turn eighteen but for life?” she asked. “Yes.” I answered. “And do you want to be the mother of these two children for life?” she asked:
Huge smile. “Yes!”
2012 at 11:25 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood The Gospel Motherhood Adoption Young Children
When we brought Jude and Sophie home—before we could even speak the same language—we had two simple priorities: show them we loved them, and teach them to obey.
The first one was easy. We said “I love you” non-stop in English and Amharic. We gave lots of hugs and kisses and smiles of approval. We bought new clothes and books and bikes. We took them sledding (a first!) and played legos and put together puzzles. We made it clear, through our actions and attention, that they were every bit as much our children as our biological son and daughter.
All these things were hugely important. In hindsight, though, I think they felt our love most of all through our gracious authority.
It didn’t feel that way at the time. To train them to obey we started with a few simple guidelines that were easy to understand: No TV until right before dinner (4:45 pm to be precise), no getting up from the table until being dismissed, and no hitting or biting.
They fought back at first—pouting about no TV or sitting at the table with their legs stretched out to the side, poised to bolt. Some days we were tempted to give up. Were we being to strict? Would they grow to hate us forever? What was the harm in letting them watch a little extra TV? But a well-timed word of encouragement from Mom always strengthened our resolve.
So we kept telling them “I love you” and put the remote out of reach.
A funny thing happened. Instead of becoming more resentful toward us and unhappy with the rules, Jude and Sophie became more compliant and obedient, and what’s more, they grew happier by the day.
Recently it dawned on me. One of the main reasons Jude and Sophie seem to have bonded with our family so quickly (in addition to the sheer grace of God!) is because the clear boundaries helped them feel like they belonged. They know the rules, the way things work around here. And so they feel comfortable because they aren’t on the outside trying to understand how this family works. They are “on the in” of the Whitacre family. Because they know what is required of them, they can relax and concentrate on other important things such as soccer and coloring and learning to read.
Don’t get me wrong, like every family, we have plenty of areas that need work. But this morning, as I write, Steve is downstairs going through our Advent devotional over breakfast. And tonight we will be able to sit down at the dinner table and talk and laugh as a family.
Now that they understand our words, and can sit still long enough to listen, we can tell them the greatest news of all: through Jesus Christ, they can join the family of God.
Obedience is the gateway to understanding the gospel.
“‘For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:6-11 ESV).