Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mothers Class

...because this was easier than trying to email a huge file to several different people :)  THAT is how techno-illiterate I truly am... God bless you if you can get through it all!!!

Mothers Class January 17, 2012
Order and Obedience:


Within God's design of creation, He has made an order, and this order is good. The trinity is God the Father as the head, Jesus, begotten of the father and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.  We can see there is an order even for the Trinity and it is good.  They are equal in substance, but different in persons, different in vocations.  So too in our families we have a created order given to us by our Creator, God.  Man and woman are equal in substance, but different in how we were created and different in our vocations.  As mothers, we have been given the authority by God and by our husbands... not to be perfect, but to be over our children, instructing them, teaching them, disciplining them,  This is God's good order.  Motherhood is our vocation.  Perfection... even semi perfection is not your vocation, or even a prerequisite.  Understand that you have the authority over your children, not because you earned it, deserve it or qualify for it.    You have it because it has been given to you, and as with any gift given to us by the Father, He is also responsible for making it work in us.


Deuteronomy 26:16 "This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall, therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul.
Obedience is commanded by God to be done with all our heart and with all our soul.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Obedience is a direction. A way to go, a path or "training tracks".

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before-hand, that we should walk in them.
Obedience is God's good work.

God has laid out the "train tracks"-- the way we should go-- and we as parents are to teach in such a way as to align our children to these tracks, understanding that even our children's obedience is a work of God in them. God causes obedience in our children through the instruction of His Word. When we bring God's word to their ears, when we speak, teach, and instruct them in His ways, we are laying God's tracks down in front of them. Then they are able to obey or follow those tracks. This is what "directing" is. When we are faithful to direct our children, we will spend less time in correcting them.  You will, of course at times have to correct your children. They aren't perfect and will need reminders, admonitions and discipline, but the idea is that the more effort made in directing, means less correcting will be necessary.

Directing Vs. Correcting
When I say Directing vs. Correcting, I mean to impress how important true teaching is. While we certainly need to correct at times, I think we would do much better to recognize that those skills and behaviors which we require from our children need to first be taught to them. It seems like a "duh" thing to say, but I find that I am often putting a task in front of my children that I haven't sufficiently instructed them to be able to do. When I do this, I am setting my kids up for failure, and as a mother who loves her children, this is not what I want to do. I want to make it easy for them to obey.  

1. Deuteronomy 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commaqnded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Obedience Keeps you safe- God's Word teaches children that obedience to our parents has a promise.

The fourth commandment comes with a promise for us and for our children. "...that your days maybe long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." There is an excerpt from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods I'd like to read. (Blogger friends...the excerpt is from pages 103-106 if you would like to read it, but I'm not typing all that!!!)  When I think of children obeying immediately, I think of this story. To do as you are told, quickly and with no question just as Laura did is a fine example of the safety of obedience. We want this from our children. There are moments in our lives where we might only have time for a few quick words of fervent instruction, maybe only "STOP!" and we NEED our children to respond immediately. You cannot expect them to be able to do this if they haven't been taught.
Teaching in the "down" moments is crucial for immediate obedience. When the kids were little, I made up a game we called the Parking Lot game. You can probably imagine what this game might have been like. When walking through a parking lot, I might randomly say, "Parking lot game!!" which meant that they were to immediately find me and stand by my side. Then I would quicken or slow my pace and the kids would have to keep in step with me. They thought it was fun. But there was more than one occasion when I spotted the white reverse lights of an oblivious driver coming out of a nearby parking spot, and without need for panic, I just playfully called..."Parking Lot Game!!" And there were my kids, safely by my side. 

 2. Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

"Momma Knows." God's Word teaches children to love, fear and trust God.
You and your husband are the first representatives of God that your children will have. We want to teach our children to trust us, their parents, to know what is best for them. This will in turn teach them to trust in the Lord as they grow up. In a confident tone we use this phrase to affirm our love for and dedication to the well being of our children. It conveys to our children that they are being cared for and that their needs are being met. "Momma knows what you need." It is a phrase that reassures them. "I know you don't understand, and that is alright, because Momma knows." If you have a child who is particularly prone to worrying or fretting, this is an obedience that is especially comforting to them. "Oh,okay, Momma knows. She will take care of it."

Many times we feel we need to give our children choices, allow them to pick. Consider this verse when I suggest that it is good for parents to make decisions for their children to reinforce who is trusting whom. When you go to a restaurant, decide for your young child what they will eat. Don't ask them. You have knowledge of what they like, you care for them, you know what is good for them, you want them to have good things. Why then would we give choices to children which shouldn't be there's to make? We are afraid, I think, sometimes to parent our own children. Oh my goodness, I told my child what to eat! Well...Momma Knows. No, it isn't being a tyrant. It is truly displaying a safe and secure environment for your child. Make decisions that are parental decisions and refrain from asking for your child's opinion or permission. If you know the kind of coat that they need for winter, don't ask them what they want. We all know the choices they will make!! That is why they have a mom. 

 Also, be the first one to notice their needs. I remember Emily needed a new bike. She had outgrown her old one, but was still managing to ride it. I was learning this very truth in Mothers Class, when I approached my husband with an idea. I said, "I think Emily's bike is too small for her and she really should have a bigger one. It isn't her birthday and it's no where near Christmas. I think we should use this as an opportunity to show her that we are aware of her needs and that she can trust us to supply what she needs." Dan agreed and we gifted Emily with a new bike because we saw that she needed one.

Sometimes older children will not trust you and will instead trust in their own understanding. They might decide they know better. They choose to go against your knowledge, thinking their knowledge is greater. Often as our children are growing and stretching their will, they want to go beyond what we know to be safe boundaries for them. They try to convince us that they are capable of more than we know they are. "But mom, Tammy's mom is letting HER go!! I can't believe you won't let me. You treat me like a baby!!!" And again our response is, "I know you don't understand right now, but that is okay, because Momma knows, and I promise to keep you safe." And if you have done the teaching of "momma knows" early in their lives, they won't depart from it. Rebel against it maybe, but they will remember.

Side note: In order for momma to have all the knowledge she claims to have, she needs to have full access to all information. Meaning, no place is off limits for Momma. We have an "doors open" policy. When friends come over to play, we expect the doors to stay open. When skyping friends or playing on the computer... doors stay open. This allows us to be able to hear conversations and be in the "know about possible problems that might arise. Except for changing clothes and keeping the cat out of your room at night... the doors are open. Children don't need all the privacy that the world would have you believe they need. It isn't privacy they need, it is protection. When momma knows what is going on, she is better able to give that protection. Momma doesn't just know, Momma sees and Momma hears too. :)

2. James 5:12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. Speak the truth/ Let your yes be yes and your no be no. God's Word teaches honesty and integrity.

Teach your children to trust your word and to speak the truth. Teach your children to mean what they say. Encourage truth and discourage falsehoods and unnecessary exaggerations. When a child says there were a hundred people at the birthday party, they aren't intending to lie, but we should direct them to be more specific. "What you mean to say is that there were a lot of people there. Let us remember to say what we mean so we don't train others to ignore our words." I have often told children who have intentionally led me to believe something that wasn't true, "You are teaching me not to trust your words. Is that what you mean to do, or do you want to change what you're saying and tell me what is true?" (Obviously, these wordy responses are meant for older children.)  Give your children the opportunity to change disobedience to obedience.  We want to make it easy for them, and to give them second chances when we can.  "I know you said this..., but I want you to think for a minute and change what you said so it is the truth." 

As for parents, you shouldn't have to promise or cross your heart, count to three or add anything to your word. If you say yes, then others and your children should expect that that is what you mean. Likewise, if you say no, your children should understand this to be final. This teaches consistency. Inconsistency provokes children to anger. They want to please you, but if the rules constantly change and there is no clear path to pleasing you, they will become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21 Fathers do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.) Do no speak before you have given thought to the words you are saying. So often we give an answer to our children before we have truly thought of what we are saying, only to revoke the answer and possibly provoke our children. Allowing children to negotiate a new answer from you undermines your word. If it doesn't matter to you where your child puts her backpack, then don't give a specific direction to "hang up your backpack in your room". If you want to give your child a choice as to where she puts the back pack then say, "Where would you like to put your back pack?" But if you say to your child, "Put your back pack in your room." Then there is only one action that is truly obedience.

If yesterday your children weren't supposed to jump on the couch and today you just don't want to fight that battle... you are being inconsistent. If you give a direction and allow your children to ignore you, your word becomes meaningless. Think before you direct and follow through with the direction you give. Make your word count. 

 Sometimes we will speak before we think and give a direction that must be corrected because of new information or an error on your part. It's okay to apologize to your child and say that you have had to change your answer. Explain the situation, so it doesn't appear arbitrary. If the situation calls for it, you could even ask for their forgiveness. Remember parenting isn't about being perfect.  It is very appropriate for parents to model repentance to their children.

4. 1 Samuel 3  (This is the account of Samuel hearing God's voice calling his name.  Samuel's thinks   Eli, the priest who is his guardian, is calling him.  He quickly goes to Eli.  Eli hasn't called him and sends Samuel back to bed.  The third time this happens Eli tells Samuel that if the voice calls again to say, "Speak , for your servant hears."  Samuel does this and the Lord speaks to him.)
Coming when you are called: God's Word teaches children to listen and be attentive.

Samuel hears God's voice and comes. We want to teach our children to be attentive to our voice and obedient to our call. When Eric was a toddler we used to play a sort of reverse hide and seek. I would tell him, "Eric you go run into the kitchen where you can't see me, and then I will call your name and you get to come to mommy as fast as you can. Okay, GO!" He would run away giggling. I'd wait a few seconds and then start calling for him, "Eric, mommy wants you, come to mommy" and I only called once. He always came and when he got to me he got a huge hug, a smile and a verbal reward. "Oh you did such a good job. You came so fast when I called your name, Good job!!" As teenagers now, I rarely have to call my kids more than once. Sometimes there might be silence after my call, or the occasional "What?" from their bedrooms. But it usually only takes a second or two before they realize that it is their responsibility to come to me... not the other way around. Certainly there are times when I am aware that they are in the middle of school, or have a friend over, and it might be rude of me to call to them and expect them to come running. We want to be thoughtful of our children. In these situations, I usually trudge up the stairs and deliver my message to them.
Being attentive to a parent's wishes means a child needs to be mindful of things outside himself. I have had my kids, across a crowded room, look up and scan the room for me because they can "feel me looking at them". They have been taught to wonder what mom thinks, or is there something I should be doing? Where is mom? Mom will give me cues. Mom has instructions for me...Sensitivity and attentiveness are wonderful skills to instill in our children. If only to give them an encouraging smile, having them search for you and be aware of your presence is a wonderful gift to any mother.

So, if you have actually gotten this far... I am impressed :) This is almost word for word what I spoke to the mothers who came to class tonight.

 I left them with this reminder:

We don't "work" at being better parents. We receive God's Word, which develops us. There is a big difference. We don't attach fruit to tree limbs and declare the tree to be an apple tree. The tree grows from a seed and produces fruit. God plants his Word in your heart, and from that Word grow "our" good deeds. Be careful not to think backwards. ;)

God's Blessings.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

As if Christmas hadn't brought enough treats, chocolates, and fattening goodies... I decided I wanted to make something for dessert that we hadn't yet tried.

I opened up my 21 year old Betty Crocker Cookbook that I received as a wedding gift, and on the first page marked "Baked & Cooked Desserts" was the recipe for Hot Fudge Sundae Cake.   I perused the ingredients to make sure I had everything on hand. Sounded too easy.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In an ungreased 9x9x2 baking pan (I only had an 8x8x2.5 which worked fine) mix together the following dry ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS cocoa (I used dark cocoa)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix in the following wet ingredients using a fork until smooth:

1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS vegetable oil

You can stir in 1 cup chopped nuts if you desire... someone in my household does not desire nuts, so we skipped them :) The recipe also says instead of nuts you might want to try a cup of miniature marshmallows... mmmm.

Spread the batter evenly around the pan.
Sprinkle with 1 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa.  Then pour 1 3/4 cups hottest tap water over the sugar and cocoa.  (Don't stir, just leave it a puddle)

Bake for 40 min.
Serve warm and with a dollop of whipped cream or some vanilla ice cream.

This really was an easy treat to make from scratch with good, real ingredients.  Plus, you only use one dish to make and bake it!!  Enjoy :)