18 January 2010

Shepherding a Child's Heart Week 2

My lovely girl, Julia, on Father's Day

This week at Sunday School, I was alone, since the kids were sick and needed to be at home. Dad allowed me to go to our parenting class while he held down the fort at home. I was sooooo glad I got to go because it was so good to hear from Linda and John, our teachers of this class. They are such great parents, with much godly wisdom, and have 4 amazing kids. One recently engaged, two in college, and a son still in high school, who happens to help me with my K-5 class. One of their daughters who goes to PBU is a buddy of mine and she comes over ever so often to hang out with me and the kids, and Julia is IN LOVE with her. It's Holly this, and Holly that...some mornings I remind her, "We are going to see Holly at church JuJu," and her eyes perk up and she gets so excited and starts saying, "Holly? Holly? Holly?" Needless to say, I love Linda and John and their four awesome kids! It really helps that they are leading a parenting class and have four great examples of kids who have been shepherded properly and have soft hearts for God.

Linda and John reviewed the intro and chapter 1 with us and then we watched Tape 1 of this series with Tedd Tripp as the speaker. It was so great to hear the man behind the book. He reviewed the "heart" Bible verses...like Proverbs 4:23, Deut 6:4, 1 Samuel 16:7, 2 Chron 16:9...etc. And then went on to discuss how parents get so caught up with changing behavior that they never get to the heart issues. He gave examples of parents who use emotional appeal, money appeal, rewards, shame, and guilt to get their kids to behave. I have to admit that as a teacher I definitely used rewards as a big behavior modification. If the kids got a certain amount of letters or marbles, we got to play outside, or watch a movie, or have pajama day. But whatever happened to kids obeying and behaving because it is the right thing to do? Tedd Tripp was basically saying that kids will jump through all our hoops we give to them, but once the appeals, and rewards are gone, the bad behavior will return. That doesn't mean you don't correct bad behavior or you don't ever have rewards, but it's very important to have those teachable moments with your kids where you talk about heart issues with them.

Linda was saying that for us New Jersey-ans, who are always so busy and driving from here to there, that the car is a great place to have a quiet teachable moment one on one with your kids. Talk to them about why they do what they do...get down to the heart of the matter. Dealing with the heart issues points our kids to Jesus because after seeing all the reasons why we do what we do out of pride, or anger, or jealousy, we see the true nature of our sinful hearts. We see that we can't be good in our own strength, but that we need a Savior.

I think the most important thing that I learned yesterday in class is that it's not so much that I do everything perfect as a parent, because that will never happen, but that I seek to ask God to search my own sinful heart. That I let my kids see that even when I mess up I am not too proud say, "You know what kids, mom had a bad attitude this morning, or mom really said the wrong thing in that situation." Our kids need to see our faults and see us humble enough to say, "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?" Parents are fallible. Nobody is beyond God's reach of forgiveness. We all need a Savior. I will just keep asking God to search my heart. Teach me what heart issues I have to deal with, like my lack of mercy, my control issue, my need to be perfect, my pride. I really want to be a changed life who changes lives around me. I don't want to be like the blind Pharissees that everything they did was done for men to see. They cared more about the outside of the cup instead of the inside. (Matthew 23:25-26).

Lord, thank you so much for Linda and John and this great class! I even enjoy doing the homework!!! Search my heart Lord, and show me where I need to make changes. Help me to be a loving example to my children. I don't want to use emotional appeals, or rewards, shame or guilt to get good behavior from my children. I pray that they have soft hearts, Lord. Help me to use those teachable moments as the children get older and we can talk through situations that come up. Most of all, thank you for my children and my husband who are blessings to me.

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