Titus is loving this book! It’s easy to read and explain the pictures to him. And the verses are bite-sized.
This is the second message of the parenting series being given at CCF. My dad also asked me to share examples of how to build positive relationships with your children so I gave my testimony at the end of the message. If you have time to listen to the message, I think you will be very blessed and encouraged about how to connect with, communicate with, and compliment your children.
The other day one of my sons was feeling sorry for himself because he did not get a goodie bag after a party we attended. In contrast, another one of my sons who also did not get a bag said, “It’s okay mom, we should share.” This incident made me realize that we need to pay close attention to what is going on in the hearts of our children. What they say and do, what they treasure…these are all indicators of what is going on inside. One son was positive and others-centered while the other one was negative and self-centered.
To deal with this, my husband gave a family devotion that very same night on Proverbs 15:15, “A cheerful heart has a continual feast.” This was the memory verse for the week for our boys. My husband and I gave examples of how to apply this and we discussed the meaning of the passage. The boys shared their own insights as well.
In an awesome book I am reading called “Parenting is Heartwork”, authors Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanna Miller talk about the importance of heart modification versus behavior modification. Psalm 37:31 says “The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.”
Similarly, our children need to put God’s word in their hearts so can overcome their heart issues. Memorizing scripture is one way to do this. When our children memorize passages in the Bible, it transforms their hearts. And at the very least, as parents, we can refer back to the scripture when we need to correct and instruct them.
The next day when my sons came home from their taekwondo class and one of them was applauded by their coach for not complaining (having the right behavior), I asked him, “Why did you have a good attitude?” He replied, “I wanted to have a cheerful heart for Jesus!” It made me feel like crying because I was so happy that he understood what he had memorized the night before. And it was NOT to our credit as parents but to the power of God’s word.
“The word of the Lord is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Sometimes I forget how intimidating a playground can be when you are little. Edan, my second, stood in front of the fireman pole at the playground with much trepidation. He had seen his older cousin effortlessly slide down the pole but he wasn’t sure if he could do it himself. I saw him take a moment to consider the risk. As my more calculated son he probably looked at the gap between his footing and the pole and thought, uh oh.
I tried to encourage him with phrases like, “You can do it! Go ahead, try it!” But I saw the uncertainty in his eyes and so I said instead, “I will help you.” A smile broke across his face as I reached out my arms so he could use me as a bridge to cross over to the pole and wrap himself around it. Then he slid down on his own and said, “Again, mommy!” I assisted him several times and then I stepped away for awhile and got into a conversation with my brother, Paul.
In a few minutes Edan was calling out my name and saying, “Come watch me, mom! I can do it!” And sure enough I turned my head to see him grabbing hold of the pole himself and sliding down with ease. I was so proud of him and he was pleased with himself, too!
This small victory for Edan provided me with a nice reminder about parenting. Our children will have many “fireman pole experiences” to get through as they grow up. We can never underestimate the power of our presence in their lives to help build self-confidence. Sometimes they will want to be carried, other times they will want a hug, a kiss, or a few kind words to allay their fears. And then they will surprise us like Edan surprised me! They will take on the challenge before them and conquer it!
Have you ever used an embossing tool on paper? I am always amazed at how you can take a plain piece of paper and then make a permanent imprint using the design you have chosen.
As I was listening to my dad preach this morning I realized there was a parallel between this tool and modeling. No, not modeling for fashion. Parenting. As he talked about the importance of modeling, a word stood out to me — IMPRINTING. Our children will copy who we are – what they see us do more so than what we teach. It’s like imprinting on the make-up of who they are. We watched this video during worship and it really convicted me: Children See. Children Do. It made me realize that our children are watching us all the time.
Two mornings ago I was reading my Bible in the study room (I usually read it on my bed while feeding my baby girl). Elijah, my eldest, came up to me and said, “Oh so you read your Bible.” (He was implying that I didn’t read it.) I said, “Of course I do! You just don’t see me because I’m usually in the bedroom with the door closed.” He replied with this answer, “Okay, but how come it doesn’t seem like you really ‘put on the armor of God’ like we do?” Elijah was referring to a habit that my husband, Edric, had instilled in him and his brothers. Since last year, Edric has asked them to pray every morning when they wake up as the first thing they do when they start their day. Edric does the same thing, but I am not always faithful at doing this. And Elijah was right, so I said, “You’re right, hon. I can improve in that area.” What struck me was, he was watching my example and he was paying close attention.
We cannot expect our children to become something we are not. What imprint are we leaving on the hearts of our children? Just like the embosser, when the paper is thin, it is quick and easy to emboss. But when it is thick it is difficult or even impossible. As our children grow up, the years will be added on like layers of paper. The best time to make positive imprints in their hearts is now.
My son, Titus, used to be notorious for drawing on things that he shouldn’t draw on like walls, the floor, and other objects besides paper. In recent months, however, he improved alot and rarely did so. The other night when we were at my parents, we saw two white walls that had pencil drawings on them. No one was sure about who did these drawings so my parents, my siblings, and I decided to ask the kids to see if one of them would admit to the crime. I am thankful for parents who tend to be pretty laid back and don’t get angry when things like these happen. We were all just curious about how the kids would respond when confronted with the question, “Who drew on the walls?”