April 2011

For anyone who has more than one child, you know the experience of coming home after having the new baby to find that the next youngest child miraculously experienced a growth spurt…overnight!  We have had this experience three times now, and our newest addition proved no exception.

I came home Easter Sunday with our newest bundle of joy only to find that my 2-year-old baby didn’t look so baby anymore.  He had grown.  He was bigger. Compared to the tiny-tot in my arms, Alexander looked humongous!

It’s the coolest phenomenon.  I don’t think it will ever get old.

Love ’em or hate ’em…it seems that the Duggar family draws some strong opinions.  They are so often criticized for their ‘irresponsibility’ in having so many children, I mean, 19 kids is a wee-bit more than is needed to simply carry on the family name, right?

They certainly live contrary to our culture – they see children as a blessing, welcoming each and every one as a gift from God, whereas society at large makes every effort to prevent a child from being conceived.  And those children that are created, but are ‘inconvenient’ are often killed, well over one million of them aborted each year.

Then there is the way they operate their household.  American’s love debt.  The recent housing crisis is one evidence of that…broke people who purchased too much house are now unable to pay their mortgage.  The average person carries a balance of over $5000 in credit card debt.  Car loans, financed furniture…I’d say America doesn’t ‘run on Dunkin’, it runs on borrowed money.  Yet here stand the Duggars, with a family much larger than the 1.2 kids per family, operating their lives with no debt: zero, zilch, nada.

I admire them for both of these things, but the reason I most like the Duggar’s is that they offer a humble, yet immensely knowledgeable perspective on raising children.  They have been there and done that, 19 times over.

I recognize that their show is, well, a show.  TLC doesn’t air it out of the goodness of their heart, but rather to make money, so what gets aired is for ratings.  And I think that is okay.  What I see is a very small snippet of their life.  A tiny glimpse into their days.  But the nuggets of wisdom that Michelle shares are priceless.  The feedback the children give provides insight that is immensely helpful.

By all accounts, the Duggar children are a rather well behaved bunch.  I would be pleased if my children shared the attributes I often see from those children.  The way the speak to each other, the way the older children help care for the younger, the way they seek to serve others, and not just themselves.  It takes intentional, consistent effort on the part of parents to produce such children.  It does not happen on it’s own.

So for a half hour here and there, thanks to my trusty DVR, I can gain some wisdom from an older woman.  I can learn tips for training and teaching.  I can gain encouragement that well mannered children, who go against the grain of culture, can be happy and productive people.

This is one of the topics I’ve had on the back burner for sometime now.

Very quickly after our second child was born, I became quite aware of some glaring holes in my training up of our oldest.  It is much harder to overlook disobedience when you have a newborn needing to be fed, changed, rocked, etc.  The needs of that newborn often need to take precedent over other things in the household, and a disobedient 18 month old goes from being something you can overlook to a major issue.  The two biggest areas were in getting her to take a nap without a fuss, and immediate, first-time obedience, without exception.

With the expectation of this new newborn, I am once again seeing the need to sure-up some areas of training with Alexander.  Don’t get me wrong, I wish I didn’t have these parenting gaps.  I wish I dealt consistently with all aspects of training him up, each and every day..but the reality is that I am not consistent, and looking ahead to having a new baby in the house makes that all the more evident.

So, I’ve instituted ‘Bubba boot camp,’ ‘Bubba’ being a nickname he somehow acquired.  I need to whip this boy into shape (figuratively speaking) before the baby arrives, for my own sanity, as well as for his own good.  It’s amazing how quickly I can get fatigued due to the constant nature of training and discipline my children.  The daily battles over the same sin issues can wear me down, and make me want to hide under a blanket.

Even as I type this, I have him sitting next to me, playing with a pillow, and refusing to put it down as I have told him to.  In the short-term, it is so much easier to a) ignore the disobedience, b) get louder until I scare him into obeying c) throw the pillow myself so he cannot play with it.  All of these options, however, will fail produce the fruit of righteousness that I desire to see in his life.  Each fails to image God’s standard of obedience and the consequences of disobedience.  And each will cause me more grief in three-weeks when I am instructing him to do the same thing, but with a newborn in my arms.  My diligence now, overcoming my laziness now, will reap the blessing of an obedient child later.

So to my Bubba – prepare for boot camp!  Mama is crackin’ down on you buster!  My lack of training needs correcting, and time is running short.

Just “ask Jesus into your heart.”  It’s like the evangelical theme these days.  ‘I asked Jesus into my heart’ has become a part of so many salvation testimonies, and for many it is equated with salvation itself.  When my second daughter was born, I received a card from a Christian sister congratulating me, and praying that, ‘she was ask Jesus into her heart at an early age.’  While I appreciated the thought behind the words, my reflex reaction was, ‘I hope she never does that.’

WHAT?  Why?  Am I just being mean?  Why would I say such a thing?  Don’t I want my children to be saved?

As we drove to church this past Sunday my oldest, who is 5, asked how old she needed to be to repent and trust.  Repent and trust.  Those are words we don’t hear very often these days from anyone, let alone a 5 year old.  But these were words she has heard since she was born, and words she often uses.  She has never heard the phrase, ‘ask Jesus into her heart,’ and from me, she never will.  It is not uncommon for her to ask me a question about a hymn we are listening to, and whether the person singing had ‘repented and trusted.’

As you read this, if that had been your child, what would your response have been?  What a golden opportunity, right?  How easy it would have been to say, ‘Abigail, all you have to do is ask Jesus to come into your heart.’  Tempting, in a way.  Tempting to give myself comfort in thinking that my little 5 year old is now a Christian because she prayed a prayer and asked Jesus into her heart.

How many people in our country have done the very same thing, yet continue to live like the reprobate that they were and still are.  It is easy to say those words, and yet have no understanding of Biblical salvation.

My main problem with this trend is that it is no where in Scripture.  Yeah, I’m one of those literalists.  The Bible commands that we repent and trust, or repent and believe.  NEVER does it command us to ask Jesus to come into our hearts.  What exactly does that phrase mean anyway?

Abigail and I have had this type of conversation many times over the past year.  I do my best to answer her questions on her level, and I can see the wheels turning in her little brain trying to figure it out.   She knows the words, but also knows that she doesn’t understand ‘how to repent yet.’  I desperately want her to understand what it means to repent and trust, and I desperately want her to do so. But I refuse to lower the bar so that she can make an outward display that may or may not have any inward reality.  So I will continue to pray that God would enlighten her, that he would help her to understand what it means to repent and trust.  I will continue to trust in God’s Sovereign control over her salvation.  I will continue to have patience, and allow the Spirit to do His work of convicting my daughter of sin, righteousness and judgement, without trying to rush the process.

Most of all, I will do all that I can to NOT give her a false sense of security.  I hope she does indeed get saved at an early age, even before her next birthday.  But if she turns out to be a prodigal, I will continue to preach the Gospel to her, continue to help her see the wickedness of her heart (the same wickedness that is in my heart), and her need for forgiveness.  When and if she is regenerated, the Spirit will provide assurance, and fruit in her life will provide outward evidence of an inner change.  It won’t be a certain prayer or a certain phrase, but rather the work of a sovereign God changing her heart, granting her the gift of repentance and of faith.

For 10 more reasons not to ask Jesus into your heart, read this short article.

I’ve been delinquent lately with posting.  I have a backlog of topics, but just haven’t had the diligence to set aside the time to write.  I’ll start with a brief update, for those who actually read my blog.

We’re T-4 weeks away from meeting baby #4.  The nesting instinct has kicked in and organizing has been my theme lately.  We are taking an Ikea trip tonight to find a dresser, so that this baby has a place for his/her clothes, which I still need to fish out of the garage.

We have our girls in a bunk bed now, and Alexander in his own big boy bed – passed down from his big sister.  They are all in one room, freeing up space for the baby in our bedroom.  We are ‘cozy.’  I am hopeful that a house with at least 3-bedrooms is in our near future.  Gotta love NY housing costs.

Our ‘big boy’ is now 2.  He had his birthday yesterday.  I turned 30 in March, which my husband is loving, while he remains 29 for another month.  Then he will be old as well.

Our homeschooling has been a bit in consistent lately as well, with trying to get everything done while I still have the energy to be upright.  With the girls being 3 & 5, I keep reminding myself that missing a lesson here and there will not doom them into mediocrity for life.

As the aches and pain and tiredness hit, chasing after three children and carrying one, I am constantly reminded that I am indeed human.  Thankfully, my God never grows weary and never slumbers.