Bits and Pieces |Things I learned along the way. Things I wish I had known sooner. Things that still send me to my knees.
Many years ago, I heard an interview with an older woman who as a single mom reared 8 children. All of them graduated from college and were leading successful lives as good citizens. The interviewer asked the usual question: “What advice can you give to parents?” She smiled, cleared her throat and said, “Love them the most when they deserve it the least.” The interviewer was at a loss for words…. “That’s it?” ‘Yes,” she replied, “that’s it. It is harder than it sounds, but that’s it.” Her words have echoed in my mind many times. I don’t think she was saying that children don’t need discipline. I think she was speaking of those times when bad behavior is a cry for help, a signal of deep pain, an indicator of real trouble… in those times there can be a moment (or a season) when love and grace can do much more to change the course than giving a child what they deserve.
My Constant Prayer – Lord, please help me know when to discipline, when to be firm, and when to see past my emotions of the moment. Help me know when the best response to a situation is a full measure of extravagant grace.
For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
There was an extraordinary Young Life leader who was an incredible mentor to all three of our kids when they were high school age. I was sitting with him at a basketball game one night when several college students who were home for the Christmas holidays came walking into the gym. He waved. They smiled and came across the gym to shake hands. After the preliminary greetings, he would look into their eyes and ask, “How’s your walk?” In that moment he knew more about them and what their life looked like than if he had asked a hundred other questions. One student responded with his excitement over the way his accountability partner and his Bible study group had made his transition to college really smooth. The others dropped their eyes, hung their heads and mumbled something about how busy they were.
As the students climbed up into the bleachers, the leader turned to me and said, “I wish parents understood that when they focus on their student’s grades, social life, and money management skills, they are missing a chance to clearly demonstrate what they believe is most important.” It was my turn to hang my head. I needed this reminder that if a person is walking with Jesus everything else tends to fall into place. I’m not saying it keeps us or our kids from having problems… there can still be a bad grade, a blowing of the budget, inappropriate relationships, and poor choices. But, through conviction, repentance, and prayer they can be restored to right relationship with God. So can we.
My Constant Prayer – Lord, please help me keep first things first. Help me model a close walk with You. Help me convey to my sons and daughter and to my grandchildren that knowing You, following You, standing on Your Word and walking with You are of primary importance. Remind me when I look into the mirror to ask myself, “How’s Your Walk?”
Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.
1 John 2:6
When I taught Junior High Girls Bible Study, I became accustomed to fielding many questions that started with, “Ms. Bev, is it okay to….” These girls were continually seeking information about boundaries. Is it okay to hold hands? What about kissing? Is it sex if you…? Is a white lie okay if it protects someone’s feelings? Is it stealing if you give it back before anyone knows it was missing? Yikes!!! I felt so inadequate. How could I possibly deal with all of these questions? I did my very best to keep from showing any shock or judgment. I needed wisdom. I prayed and did a study on wisdom in the Bible. Then, I heard a message from Andy Stanley that gave me a framework to speak to the minds and hearts of these girls. They were on a football field of life trying to stay as close to the sidelines as they could without stepping out of bounds. I tried to show them that if you go to the center of the field and run up the middle, you don’t have to worry about being out of bounds. Instead of asking, “Is it okay?” we began to ask, “Is it wise?” This was a game changer in our group. The girls began to ask each other what became known as “our question”.
This question still takes me to my knees on a regular basis. Is it wise? We are living in a time and a culture where wisdom seems to be in short supply. All around us people are pushing the boundaries and trying to convince us that many things are ok when God’s word clearly states otherwise. We know where wisdom resides. It resides in God’s word.
My constant prayer – Lord, please help me walk in the wisdom of your word. As I make decisions, as I seek to guide my children and grandchildren, grant me wisdom and make me a vessel of your love and your peace. Help me freely pour out the grace and mercy that You have abundantly poured into my life.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to you.
Let’s talk about it….
- Have you experienced a time when you deserved discipline but received grace instead? What impact did that have?
- Have you extended grace to a child when they deserved reproach? How did they respond?
- What are your methods of keeping first things first?
- What approach do you take to helping your children/teens establish boundaries?