Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

Boy, n. : a noise with dirt on it.  

 1 boy is worth half a man, 
2 boys are worth half a boy, 
3 boys are no help at all

Of all the animals the boy is the most unmanageable - Plato

Boys will be boys (regardless of how old they get)

The quotes above are all taken from my scrapbook materials.  They summarize the very poignant message given to mothers of sons by our consumer culture.
Quotes such as the ones above can be seen everywhere.  We've seen them framed in most department stores, printed as wall stickers intended for baby boy nurseries, written in the pages of baby books, and all over the internet.  The same messages, and worse, are given in the pages of parenting books, popular television sitcoms and TV commercials.

Disney's Mulan quotes "boys will be boys" when the baby gets into the yarn the mother is spinning.  Louis on the Emperor's New Clothes is excused from having torn his clothes as a result of his swinging from the chandelier.  It is stated, "Louis simply couldn't help himself.  It was natural".

In the sitcom Two and a Half Men, Alan Harper's teenage son Jake's immorality is excused because "boys will be boys".  Then, of course it would be excused because his father and his uncle have set such a terrible example.  This may be an extreme example, but frankly, most TV shows portray men as ineffectual, disengaged cowards.

I hear parents often say, "Boys will be boys!"  as they excuse their sons poor behavior.

I often wonder why parents excuse self-indulgence, disrespect, uncleanliness, irresponsibility, bullying and the like as behavior appropriate for a "typical boy".  Then, I see what is put before moms and what is presented as "normal" and I can see why.  Instead of training boys to be knowledgeable and skillful men of character we encourage them to coast through boyhood as though there is nothing for which to prepare.

Sadly, the ever popular excuse, "boys will be boys" allows everyone to look the other way.

Unfortunately for the boy, there will come a day when that excuse is no longer given on his behalf.  The day will come when he is expected to behave like a man.  The common phenomenon of extended adolescence shows exactly what happens when boys are not trained to be men.

Although our boys often come in from outdoors rowdy and smelling as we say, like worms and dirt, they know that there is a time and place.  They are given ample time to play and explore.  Time to experiment and roam about the backyard, but it is our goal to train manly men.  Men who are honorable and trustworthy.  Men who are visionaries, family leaders, servant leaders, and hard workers.

There is no switch to flip when they reach 16, 18 or even 21.
If only it were that easy...
Instead, they must be taught and trained, diligently and consistently, throughout boyhood.

"Someone said, 
"Boys will be boys;"
he forgot to add, 
"Boys will be men".
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kisses From Katie ... and negative purity

I have watched this video numerous times and have been struck by it, in a slightly different way, each time.

If I am being honest, what I keep coming back to is the fact that the girl in the video, Katie Davis, the one who has left her home in Tennessee to feed the hungry, to care for orphans, to sacrifice all to do unto others, is now just 22 years young.

At 16, she knew God was calling her to missions.  At 18, she left home for Uganda for what was to be a one year commitment.  

At 19, she founded Amazima, a ministry that feeds, educates, and encourages orphaned and vulnerable children and the poor in the country of Uganda.  A ministry that now, just three years after it's founding, has a $700,000 a year budget, sponsors 500 children and feeds 2,000 more.  

Now, at 22, she is the mother of 14 children.  

Please take several moments to view this video clip if you will.  
The music may first be paused by scrolling down to the gray music player in left sidebar.  
Simply click the round pause button.

Of all things, why is her age what struck me most?  

Just moments after watching the video for the first time, I had to run to the library- where, by the way, I did a quick search to request the book this young woman has recently authored about her experiences that has just landed on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Walking up to the library, the door was blocked by teenagers who had just gotten out of school.  I covered the ears of my eight year old son as we walked in.  The language too crass to repeat.  The discussion more vulgar than I care to recall.  One girl tossing a fake wooden rifle.  Others calling disrespectfully to their classmates who were walking down the street.  Teens smoking, making fun of the older folks trying to make their way in and out of the library.  

A stark contrast.

Why are there not more teens like Katie Davis?  Why can they not see beyond themselves?  How have they not learned that the world is so much bigger, that they are not the shining star around which the earth revolves?

Some may say that Katie is special, with a special calling.  I believe that is true.  
I also believe that we expect far to little of what we have come to know as "adolescents".    

Take a good, hard look at the children and teenagers around you.  

Take a look not just at what they are not doing, but what they are.

What do you see?  
Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher of the nineteenth century, commented, "Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you - Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God's Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand - your best companion and hourly guide?" If not, Spurgeon said, the blessing of Psalm 1 does not belong to you.  
--Alex and Brett Harris, Do Hard Things

Do the young people in your life know Jesus?  
Do they know what it means to look beyond themselves?  
Is there really true, abundant fruit in their lives?  Do they really show self-control?  Do they respect authority?  Do they obey and honor their parents?  Are they kind?  Are they responsible?  
Are they accountable?  How do they conduct themselves?

How about your expectations - the expectations you have of them as a parent?  
As a teacher?  A friend?

What wonderful things teens can accomplish when they are trained, taught, guided and discipled by the Word, and by those God has placed in their lives.

More about Katie and Amazima, and how you can support this ministry can be found at www.amazima.org.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalm 1:1-2 ESV)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Harvest

His first Halloween he was a little lion with the sweetest little tail.  The next year he was an elephant, and then a rhinoceros, a cowboy and two years in a row he was Buzz Lightyear.  Last year he created his own Daniel Boone costume.  The costumes have been passed down to the younger brothers.

The costumes are perhaps the only thing left that resembles Halloween.

When Isaiah was young, we thought we could adapt the pagan traditions and instead of dropping in on neighbors asking, "Trick or Treat?" holding open baskets waiting to be treated, we opted to visit friends and instead greet them with "Happy Harvest!" and a treat that we had brought them.  It was our attempt at bringing light to the darkness, on a night that celebrated the grousome, the grotesque and the occult.

Unfortunately, we found that while this brought smiles to the faces of the friends we visited it did little for our children.  While at the houses of friends, others would come to the door dressed as witches, devils, ghosts and the like.

The boys would be scared.  They would ask why it was OK for others to beg for candy.  Why was there fake blood dripping from the mouths of those they encountered?

Then we thought that allowing them to dress up and taking them out to dinner would be a good compromise.  This led to similar problems and also had them out after dark, seeing (and questioning) the increasingly prevalent Halloween decorations on lawns and houses we drove past.

Another year we tried going to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  They live in a neighborhood with lots of small children and we thought it may be fun for the boys to show Grandma and Grandpa their costumes and they could help pass out candy.

This was even more problematic as it seemed all of town had congregated in their neighborhood having arrived there on flatbed trucks!  Teens and adults were dressed as vampires and other goulish creatures.

Our attempt to adapt, to find a way to participate in such a day yet be consistent in what we were teaching our children, to not have them feel left out, failed miserably.

We found that our substitute was teaching them that there was something they were supposed to feel they were missing out on.  That was not the message we wanted to send!  We also learned that they would rather not participate and they, in fact, did not at all feel left out of anything!

On a night when the spiritual battle rages most fiercely, when Satan is being celebrated, we have found it to be far more consistent and fruitful to continue to train them to be soldiers in Christ's army than to send them into the front lines unprepared.

Now that two of them are older, they fully understand why we do not participate and given the option they would choose not anyway.  Noah has no idea there even is such a thing called Halloween... yet.

When someone asks the children what they're going to be, or what they're going to do, they simply say that we don't celebrate Halloween.  Sadly, most don't accept this answer and press harder.  "Haha!  Everyone celebrates halloween!  Does your mom really not let you go out!?" The boys have been known to use this opportunity to witness to grocery store baggers and bank tellers of Christ's love and light.

This approach is also one more thing that teaches them that it's good to be different.  It's good to not follow the crowd.  It's a good thing to be mindful and aware.  To think about why we do what we do.

We have long since dismissed Halloween as a holiday.  We found that all the kids really cared about was eating candy and dressing in a costume.  Halloween night, they're now tucked safely in bed early.  The porch light stays dark.

The week after Halloween, we fill the candy bowl with steeply discounted candy... and it's a normal day in our house to find children dressed as Daniel Boone, American Indians, or even vikings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This, I strive to know...

One of my favorite verses, Psalm 46:10, is often misunderstood.  

Psalm 46:10 is often used to encourage people to sit still. To listen for the still small voice of God.  To listen for a whisper, to watch for what many call a sign.  Sometimes it is even used as an excuse for laziness.  It is sometimes seen as a contradiction to the commands in scripture that require us to do.  To serve.  To act.  

In context, however, this verse is really a display of God's peace in the midst of war.  In Hebrew, the word for "be still" is better translated as "to be weak" or "to surrender".  

It is our soul that should be still.  Our soul that should know. 

Not necessarily feel, but know.

Know that God is who He says He is.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
(Psalm 46 ESV)

Regardless of our circumstances, we can trust.  We can be peace-filled.  We can rest.  Our soul can be still and know that the Lord is God.  He is with us, we are never forsaken.  He is in control.  We can surrender all to Him.

All to Jesus I surrender;
  1. All to Him I freely give;
    I will ever love and trust Him,
    In His presence daily live.
    • Refrain:
      I surrender all,
      I surrender all;
      All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
      I surrender all.
  2. All to Jesus I surrender;
    Humbly at His feet I bow,
    Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
    Take me, Jesus, take me now.
  3. All to Jesus I surrender;
    Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
    Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
    Truly know that Thou art mine.
  4. All to Jesus I surrender;
    Lord, I give myself to Thee;
    Fill me with Thy love and power;
    Let Thy blessing fall on me.
  5. All to Jesus I surrender;
    Now I feel the sacred flame.
    Oh, the joy of full salvation!
    Glory, glory, to His Name!

*This post was written yesterday, Sunday.  All it lacked was the title, or so I thought.  I was just about to publish it when the screams came from outside the window.  
  1. A little boy laying on the ground.  Another, the younger, running in crying.  Shaking.  Yelling, "Mama!  Squirty's hurt!  Call 911!  Quick!  He needs you!"  
  2. I got up from the computer and ran outside to find the little guy, pant leg rolled up, thick blood dripping from his knee.  My mind, darting from thought to thought like a pinball in a machine.  Has he hit his head? Is his leg broken?  How deep is this wound?  Stitches?  Dan is at work, and has the mini-van.  His car in the shop from having broken down last week.  Where is the baby?  What has happened here?  How did this happen?  
  3. I breathe deep.  Look at the little faces waiting for my reaction.  My assessment.  They respond before I'm able.  "We're so sorry Mama!  Do you forgive us?  We were playing where you'd told us not to!  We were playing too close to the fire pit!"  

Sweet repentant hearts.  Scared boys, cold and hungry.  Dinner time nearing, cool damp autumn evening air creeping in.  

"Pa always says to keep my eyes on the ball", Isaiah continued.

"Yes!  You are forgiven!  Everything will be OK!  Let's work together and do the next right thing".  I share with them the post I had just written.  "Be still and know that HE IS God!  Who is He?"  I ask them to tell me, to begin to list all that God is.  
"Our comfort" says one boy.  "Peace" says another.  "Strength.  He calms the storm and moves the mountains" they add.  "Good, keep going." I tell them.  

"Elijah- stay with your brother".  They had begun to calm and I ran in the house to call Dan.  He came home.  I stayed with Isaiah, pressure on the wound.  The bleeding began to slow.  Elijah gathered all that we'd need from the house, and we all got in the van to bring Dan back to the church.  Youth group would begin soon.  

We put gas in the van and headed to the ER.  We sat for an hour, still hadn't been triaged.  The people across from us had been there four hours already.  There was no space to move, nowhere to sit.  The baby was fussy and tired.  I prayed continually.  Decided it was not wise to wait.  

We went home, bathed the younger boys, fed them all.  Called the pediatrician who would facilitate us onto the fast track at the ER.  She felt it was necessary that he return.  

Back to the van, back to the church we went to pick up Dan.  Waited for Dan to finish at youth group then drove him and the little ones home and we put the little ones to bed.  

Isaiah and I returned to the ER.  Fast track still took two hours.  He was seen at 10:30pm by the ER doctor.  When the doctor removed the gauze I had taped to his knee, I was shocked.  It didn't even look like the same injury.  It had already begun to heal.  The wound that had been still bleeding, that was still separated and was a gaping hole at 10pm, had a thin layer of skin over it.  No stitches needed.  The wound was cleaned and bandaged and we were sent home.  

The prayers of Elijah, a six year old, had been answered.  The healing had begun quickly, just as he'd prayed.

Oh, how quickly the test came, having just written the post above.

The circumstances that are anything but pleasant, convenient, or easy.  There was no time for "being still" in the physical sense, yet we were at peace.  

We knew that God was in control.  

Though I know not why those were the circumstances of last evening, it was an opportunity to practice stillness in chaos, calm in crisis.  

It was a teaching opportunity for two boys, and an opportunity to see them practice that which they'd previously been taught.  
To see Eli leaning over Isaiah, praying for his healing when I returned outside from having called Dan, to see him act quickly, knowing how to respond in an emergency.  

To see Eli serve his family by gathering all that was needed, gauze and tape, snacks for all boys, bottles of water, my purse, everyone's coats, the baby's special blanket.  

To see Noah obey immediately, the first time and without question, lavishing kisses on Isaiah, showing empathy.  

To see Isaiah respond with bravery and courage.  A beautiful display of understanding, selflessness and patience as the night wore on, his willingness to see the greater good.  The ability to have his own needs set aside to have those of his baby brothers met first as we left that ER the first time.  

Me, fighting the temptation to feel guilty for choosing the younger sons needs over the older, yet knowing I had done what was right in not sitting all night in that filthy waiting room with all three hungry and tired children.

Trying all the while to see.  
To look beyond the surreal moments to see why we were there.  
What didn't I know?  What was I supposed to know?  

This.  It's this I know.  This, I strive to know...

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
(Psalm 46 ESV)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homecoming & House Guests... and the true meaning of fellowship

Homecoming weekend is often a whirlwind but more so this year than any other.  This weekend was (what would have been) my tenth college reunion.

This year, my college roommate- one of my dearest friends- came to visit!  It was the first time I'd seen her in nine years.

The last time we were together, she and I were both married, and each pregnant.  Jess with her second child, me with my first.  This weekend we not only saw each other, our husbands and Jess's son Austin who was just a baby at our last meeting, but she got to meet our three sons and we met her three daughters.

In preparation for their visit, the boys and I talked a lot about Jess's kids.  We went over their names and ages, looking at pictures, and tried to imagine what they may be like.  We talked about how they too are home schooled, how they too have just moved to a new home.  The boys began referring to them as
"our friends we-haven't-met-yet".

The day finally came.  They arrived, after a several day long car trip.   Their little girls were car sick and I'm sure they all were just happy to be out of the car!  The boys ran out to meet them and much to both my and Jessica's surprise, they were all off playing in the backyard within minutes.  We watched in the window as the older children chatted... and chatted... and chatted.  The little ones, both two years old, mostly stared at each other.

We quickly began to see commonalities between our children.  The third time five year old Ella said, "I'm hungry!"  I knew she was a grazer... much like Elijah.  The older boys... and eight year old Abby... are all fans of The Chronicles of Narnia and came in announcing that they were Peter and Edmund... and Abby was Susan.  Play continued right up until bedtime.

I was so excited, and somewhat surprised, that Jessica's children were being raised so similarly to ours.  There was no bickering between the children.  They all treated each other with respect and kindness.  They all were well mannered and helpful.  The older children each looked well after their younger siblings.  They were not selfish, they were able to entertain themselves with very few toys and great amounts of imagination.

One morning we had a family game of back yard wiffle ball.  Jess needed to practice for the alumni softball game that took place on the weekend.  Having once been the star pitcher, she needed a bit of warming up and wiffle ball seemed to do the trick.  Haha!

Dan had to work while our friends were in town, and while he was out Steve, Jessica's husband, went out in the woods with the boys to make fly fishing rods, then took the kids down to the pond to try them out.  The memories they made in one weekend will surely last a lifetime.

There is something about great friends.  Especially those you've lived with, shared every part of your life with.  Those friendships centered on Christ.  No matter how far they live, no matter how long between visits, we always pick up right where we left off.

After spending Saturday at Homecoming, we all had to say goodbye.  The goodbyes were much harder this time around, with our children having grown so close in such a short time.  Our boys were crying, one exaggerating a minor injury as an excuse for the tears streaming steadily down his face.

Jess said, "you know... if we wait another nine years, I'll be staying with you when we bring our son to college!"  Can it really be?!  What a short piece of time it is when our children are young!

Just after the most miserable of goodbyes, we met up with other really wonderful friends.  Friends who live just one state away.  Too far for our liking, but close enough that we get to see one another occasionally.  We joined with them and their four children for a fun dinner out.  There wasn't enough space in the restaurant for a large table so we settled on two small tables pushed together.  Normally this space would seat 6.  We fit 11.  Noone cared.

These friends, Beth and Brian, were our first married friends.  They paved the way for us in many ways, and we are still in awe as they challenge us to live in a way remarkably different from the norm.  They stayed with Beth's brother that night and we headed home.

The next day, more friends Rodney and Brooke came in from a ten hour drive away.  Friends with three young daughters.
The men had planned a football party and Brooke and I took all the kids for a walk to the park before bringing them all home for dinner and baths.  These friends too, as great as the rest.

Monday was a holiday and Beth and Brian and their crew, the ones we enjoyed dinner with on Saturday, stopped early Monday morning to visit with us all
(Dan, Rodney and Brian were all college roommates).
They stayed much longer than planned and Monday became another great day with a house full of friends.

They all push us, challenge us, hold us accountable to living a life marked by godliness.
These friends, not just friends any more, but family.

How thankful we are to be blessed with the most wonderful friends.  Friends with whom we can be ourselves.  Friends who love us and accept us for who we are, and who push us to become who God wants us to be.

The house feels empty now.  Much quieter... and we continue to give thanks for the most wonderful, faithful friends, and for the sweet fellowship that's been had.
All this.  This weekend, encompasses the 
true meaning of fellowship.  

A family brought together and unified in Christ.  Love and acceptance.  Confession and forgiveness.  The bearing of another's burdens.  Encouragement and availability.  Flexibility and informality.  The sharing of life...
and coffee and donuts too, of course.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homemade Fire Starters

A beautiful day, with crisp autumn air and blue skies clear... we are thinking ahead.  Ahead to the chill of stormy winter nights.  Nights when there is nothing better than curling up in front of the fire with good books.

The firewood is plentiful.  Uncle Mark has delivered more than enough, all split and stacked.  This will be our first winter in this house.  Thinking through the things that need to be done before the cold winds arrive  requires a bit more effort when in a new place.

For the past five years we lived in a house in the city.  Well, in what I call the city though others call it the suburbs.  There weren't any woods around us in which to collect kindling so fire starters were necessary to light a good enough fire in the old place.

They work well but smell terribly like chemicals and do get quite costly.  We did a bit of research and have actually
found a use for dryer lint
and cardboard egg cartons!

Today we filled the egg cartons we've been saving with the lint and melted down some old wax candles.  Some that had been around a while, some that had broken at the bottom of the candle tin in our recent move.

We melted the wax down in a small saucepan and poured the hot melted wax over the lint.  We allowed the concoction to cool and cut out each individual egg space.  Each individual egg space filled with lint and covered with melted wax.

We gathered a large glass jar from the garage and placed each homemade fire starter in the jar and gave the jar a home on the hearth.
We then had to test out our little project.
We went out to the fire pit outside and lit the edges of the cardboard.  The little homemade fire starter burned quite brightly for about ten minutes at least.

It smelled like cinnamon; like Christmas.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Meal Plan

It saves us tremendous amounts of time and money.  It wastes less, and makes us better stewards.

It's the weekly meal plan.

I write it out on Sunday and begin by using what I have in the house.   I add to that what's advertised on sale at the local grocery shop and make my weekly grocery list accordingly.  

I plan dinners first, and plan them based on Dan's schedule.  If he will be home for the evening, I plan meals that may take a bit longer to prepare or that require more clean time to clean up.  If he is home for a quick dinner and has to head back to work, I plan something quicker and easier.

Our kids are picky eaters.  If they won't like what we're having for dinner I try to plan a breakfast they will enjoy.  Lunch is planned last and is usually a meal that is easily prepared and requires little clean up.

By having our meals planned, there is little temptation to eat out.  There is far less food wasted because there is a plan for all that is purchased.

We buy what we need and use what we buy.

I don't find myself dragging my feet at dinner time because I don't yet know what to prepare, and I'm rarely caught without what is needed to prepare a meal.  Grocery trips are kept to once a week at most, therefore saving tremendous amounts of time running in for this or that.

When planning the weeks meals at one time, it really only takes a matter of minutes.  I go through the recipe binder that contains only the recipes that have been tried and tested - and have passed the test.  Included there is a list of easy meals for which no recipe is needed.

Trying something new is easy when it can be fit into the week on a day with extra time, and all ingredients can be planned on and purchased in the regular weekly grocery trip.

It may seem that to be planned requires additional time, but that ten minutes spent on Sunday afternoon saves perhaps hours of time during the week, and oodles of cash for the week to come.  We find that by planning ahead, we enjoy a greater variety and we eat healthier too...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thank you for following...

Thank you to all who have graciously signed up to follow Abundant Fruit & Olive Shoots!  Your support is much appreciated.

The giveaway ended at noon today and Isaiah helped write out the participants names and we placed them in his baseball cap.  We held it up high and chose a name.

Congratulations to Erica, whose name was chosen!  We are sure you will enjoy the baby hat and booties set from LisaCorinne Handmade!  You will receive them in the mail shortly!

Thank you again to all who participated!  I pray you will continue to follow the Abundant Fruit & Olive Shoot blog, and that you may be both encouraged and challenged to live intentionally, train your children diligently, and grow joyfully in the Lord!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Family Vision

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, 
but blessed is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18 ESV

In the King James, this verse reads, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he".  This verse is often misapplied and "vision" as it is intended here becomes created vision, as opposed to prophetic vision.

Everyone needs a vision.  Without vision, without a goal, we flounder and our wheels spin.  Without direction, what could possibly be accomplished?  The question though, need not be, "what is our vision?" because as believers that answer is simple.  Our vision should be godliness.  Sanctification.
Our vision is already spelled out for us - written two thousand years ago by holy men inspired by the Holy Spirit- we simply need to follow it.  Our families need to follow it.

Gender roles will be a post for another day, but men it's your job to lead your families and make clear the direction you intend to lead them.  It's your job to communicate the goal, the vision, the direction you are choosing.  Women, we must submit to the leadership of our husbands and praise God if our husband is leading us in the right direction!

The question then becomes, what are we doing to accomplish the vision?  Do ALL of our decisions aid us in or inhibit our attainment of the goal?  As Christians, we must filter everything through the eyes of scripture.
Everything must be tested against the word of God.

Every decision that is made matters.  There are constant decisions that must be made as a family and it's very easy to make a decision based on influences other than scripture.

For example...

I was at the grocery store this week with Isaiah.  We were heading toward the door and I saw a group of Boy Scouts about Isaiah's age grouped near the door.  I thought for a while that perhaps Boy Scouts would be something Isaiah may like to participate in.  He loves all things outdoors.

As we got closer to the door, I saw that the boys were asking shoppers if they wanted to buy popcorn to support Scouts.  There were many boys wandering, and one small table attended only by adults.  I understand the purpose of fundraisers, but the method of raising money seemed so far from what I'd imagined Boy Scouts to be, never mind from what we are teaching our sons.

The method seemed only to be teaching laziness and dependency as opposed to hard work and leadership.  Then, just in case I missed something I checked their website.

This caught my eye:
"While Scouting does not define religious belief for its members, it has been adopted by and works with youth programs of all major faiths." 
Reading further I found,
"A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals."
I laugh at the contradiction!  My only goal here is to point out that nothing can be taken for granted.  Everything must be filtered and tested against scripture.

If the program does not hold to any belief... if a person does not hold to a belief, then what can the vision be?  By what standard are ideals defined?  Who determines what is a clean and fit mind?!  Beyond that, if by "duty to God" they mean ANY god, then what teaching or influence may my son(s) be under?!

Sports could be used as another example.  Our boys love sports.  They are all fairly athletic and Elijah has quite the competitive streak.  For now, Dan has decided, and I fully support his decision, that they will not participate in organized sports.

The reason is twofold.  The first is that Sunday mornings are non-negotiable.  We attend church on Sunday mornings, when most sports hold practices or games.  Communal worship as commanded in scripture does far more to further our family's vision than participation in athletics.

The second reason is that sports involve several practices and at least one game per week.  With three children we would never be home and we'd all be running in different directions!  Family dinners would be interrupted and family worship time would fall by the wayside.

Again, sports are not forbidden in scripture!  It's simply a vision issue.

Where are we directing our children and how are we guiding them?  We must be careful to not send mixed messages.  
We must be consistent and intentional.

Does your family have a vision?  Have you spoken together, husband and wife, about your vision, about how you will strive to attain it?  If your vision is to be sanctified in Christ, do your activities reflect your vision?  How about what's on your iPod?  On your bookshelf?  Your TV screen?

Do your children know Christ?  Do they know and understand your vision?  If they do, it's likely they will partner with you and will grow in wisdom and discernment as a result.

They may be disappointed at not being able to do certain things, but how is that any different from us as adults?  In fact, we are often disappointed FOR our children that the world isn't different, that it isn't a more godly place.  When children know God and desire to follow Him, they will learn to obey you in obedience to the Lord.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Proverbs 9:10 ESV

*A kind note to remind you that the giveaway - a baby hat and shoe set from LisaCorinne Handmade- will end tomorrow, October 3, 2011 at noon.  Please join Abundant Fruit & Olive Shoots to enter!  See the post titled "Giveaway" for more details.  Thank you for joining!


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