Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Promise Land

In the past year or so I have been evolving my parenting approach. As I've confessed in earlier blogs I so desperately wanted to be the mom that said 'Jump!' and my kids instantly responded 'Yes, ma'am! How high?!" No whining, complaining, screaming or arguing, just instant obedience. Bliss. But my kids are not so fond of 'instant obedience' and (my strong-willed children especially) tested this mama to the max. I was frazzled, frustrated & defeated in my parenting. So I switched gears and tried a more loving & gentle approach to parenting (aside from those times when they are directly disobeying or being disrespectful to me or another grown up, we rarely spank anymore). They do get sent to their room a lot or get toys or privileges taken away, but let's just say I've lowered my expectations without lowering my standards (they are 3 rowdy 5 year olds after all). I still discipline and guide & speak truth & love into them about how we are to act & treat people, I just sort of allow them a little more wiggle room for their well, wiggles & antics for the sake of my sanity. In essence, I've just come to terms with the fact that it may be better for me to 'under discipline' while keeping my cool & showing them love & patience than to 'over discipline' out of anger & my temper.

And guess what? The bewildering thing is that their behaviors haven't really changed one bit. Not on stinkin' bit. You would think that we would have this great revelation in their behavior - especially since a whole year has passed & they have gotten a whole year older & more mature, right?!. Wrong. I feel like I've had more of those "My kids just earned me a BIG ol' jewel on my crown in Heaven today!" days than ever before recently.

And so I've found myself questioning my parenting yet again. I confessed to my sister recently that "I must just not be good at this whole effective discipline thing".

And then just a few days ago I found myself reading the book of Joshua during my quiet time. If you've never read it, you should. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Bible, Moses had led the Israelites out of slavery from the Egyptians & He was supposed to lead them into their Promise Land. However, even after God had done miraculous things in helping them escape (parting of the Red Sea, providing Manna in the dessert for them to eat every day), They still grumbled & complained & questioned God saying it would be better to be back in slavery than wandering around in the dessert. So, what does God do? He tells them that they will never be allowed to set foot in the Promise Land, but they will die in the desert and their children will inherit the land.
Fast forward 40 years when Moses dies, and God chooses Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promise Land (Jericho). Problem is, it's occupied already. God tells the Israelites to march around the walls of the city of Jericho, and on the 7th day they were to sound their trumpets, shout & yell & the walls would collapse and the Israelites would be able to claim Jericho as their city, their Promise Land flowing with milk & honey.

Cool story, right? It didn't really occurred to me that this might apply to motherhood until my neighbor asked me to print out a worksheet she needed for her home schooling since her printer was broken, and what do you suppose their lesson was about? You guessed it- Joshua. I thought maybe God was trying to speak to me through this story so I went back & read it again.

I realized God was calling me to march around my Promise Land. His tactics might not make sense, my efforts my not be fruitful the first, or second, or even the third time around, but keep marching. It's okay to feel like I don't really know what I'm doing, just keep marching, keep doing those tings that I do know how to do, doing what I am called to do. Keep modeling the fruits of the spirit he equips us with- love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness & self control. Do not be discouraged. Do not be dismayed. Do not look to the right or the left, do not question God, grumble or complain. I realized that while my children's behavior & attitude hasn't really changed, mine has. And that's the only behavior I can really control anyways. All I can do is model what a heart that loves Jesus looks like, and pray like crazy that God will capture their hearts as well, and give them hearts that long to please him and serve him as well.

And so there it is, that is my Promise Land. A deliverance from God in my motherhood. Deliverence from defeat, deliverence from anger, deliverance from inadequate feelings, deliverance from my kids ability to determine my behavior. So keep marching on mama's! Keep loving, praying, & teaching our children to seek his face. Keep looking to him for guidance and direction when you feel discouraged. Have faith that He knows what he's doing, even when we do not, and that He will finish what he has started.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

It's that time of year again. Time to re-evaluate our lives and make that list of all the new things we are going to change, accomplish, or achieve in this new year. In years past I've made my list, and as I grew older I realized my list pretty much looked the same from year to year. Why? Because my resolutions were going unresolved. After a few months they were forgotten or given up on and I became happy in my complacency. In fact, looking back I don't remember a single resolution that I actually accomplished. And then before I knew it, I would find myself at the end of another year with the same 'wish list' as in the past, and resolve to try even harder in the new year. I know I'm not alone here.

So last year, I quit with the list making. I quit trying to change myself or my life. I had but one resolution: A little less me, a little more God.

That's it. And it will forever be my New Year's resolution, because no matter how much closer to Him I get this year, he will never be done growing me, changing me, molding me, teaching me. There will always be room for more God, and being that I'm human I'm sure I will always need to work on less of me. That's the beauty of it. He'll never quit working on me, until I get to Heaven someday. And the more control you give Him, the more things fall into place. Everything just naturally gets better when God is in control because let’s face it; he knows what he is doing, and I don’t. I don’t have to worry about doing it on my own. Just surrender to his will, and He will make the improvements.

So God, this year (just the same as last year) YOU are my resolution. I want to seek you more, to know you more, to give you more of myself and allow YOU to choose what areas of my life you want to change, and trust that you will give me the power & strength to improve. I know I can't really change anything about myself on my own anyways. I give you control of my whole life. No matter it be my marriage, my friendships, my mothering, my physical well-being, finances, & even my prayer time- none of those areas can be better unless YOU are in control of them, and you are the one making the changes.
Please continue to grow me, mold, me, & change me in the year 2012.
In Your Precious Name,
Amen