Sunday, November 10, 2013
There are more times than I'd like to admit where I've whispered something like this to my boys during liturgy, "if you keep quiet and sit still, I'll buy you some (fill in the blank with a candy/treat)". Of course, there's nothing entirely wrong with doing that considering they are young and the liturgy for them seems like an eternity. The problem comes when this kind of bargaining starts to become a way of life in our home, and oftentimes it does without us, as parents, even thinking of its implications. We make all kinds of sticker charts and reward systems for the boys adhering to certain rules and avoiding certain behaviors. Again, I don't think that's always a bad thing, especially when we are trying to instill habits like doing homework, chores, potty training, etc. However, it does become a problem when the outside behavior looks good (because our kids are motivated by some external reward) but the heart remains the same. Weren't the pharisees just like that? Their behavior was actually perfect but Christ rebukes them saying, "You brood of vipers! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart" (Matt. 12:34) Yikes! Without even realizing it, we can be turning our children into Pharisees. I'll admit, sometimes it is easier to just fix the behavior from the outside, especially when we are in front of people, in places where we need them to behave, or even when we are just so exhausted that we'll do whatever it takes to make them behave (There have definitely been some nights where I promised my kids they'll get a treat in the morning if they would just go to bed and not keep coming out of their rooms ;)). So how do we practically get to work on our children's hearts?
Monday, November 4, 2013
Saturday, March 16, 2013
This will be the second time that I try to intentionally "declutter" during Lent. It seems as though I let things get a little out of hand when I am not making a conscious effort to simplify and stay focused. I'm not just talking about my kitchen counter that now takes the brunt of having to manage three little boys, but I am also talking about my mind and my spirit; both of which have also taken the brunt of my busy lifestyle and my admitted addiction to social networking and constant need to look up something on my iphone (aka "the antichrist"). Apparently, I'm not alone. I've talked to countless people who say the way they "unwind" at night is by browsing facebook or flipping through their smart phone. It seems all of us are being pulled in by something...or someone...who wants us to keep our minds and hearts busy and full with something, anything...other than Him. Sometimes I look around my home and see all of the excess stuff that we don't even have room for. I can spend hours just putting this "stuff" away, organizing it, and picking it up off the floor. It can literally consume me to the point where I don't have enough time and energy to do the things that are important, like spending time with my husband and kids, and making sure they don't go the bed hungry ;) And even when I do spend time with them, my thoughts are often consumed with what I have to do, so I don't get to fully enjoy my time with them. Isn't it the same for my spirit?? There is so much "stuff" in my mind and heart that it becomes difficult to focus on what the Lord is saying to me when I spend time in prayer. Sometimes although He is right beside me, He seems distant because all of the clutter in my mind is making its way down to my spirit so that I can't fully engage Him. So what am I going to do about it?? Yes, disconnect! (Ironically, this is actually a real app on smart phones). I am disconnecting from social networking completely and excess email/texting and increasing my Bible reading and time spent in the agbeya and personal prayer. I truly believe that God is the one giving me the motivation to do this in order to really draw me in to Him. Through His power and grace, I don't doubt that some great change will happen through this process...stay tuned!