I have read countless “how to” books on parenting. Some I have included:
- Baby’s First Year- My baby manual for Daxx, before I discovered Google (this was 5 years ago!)
- Baby Wise- Screwed me up royally, I loath this book. Key points I agree with but it created a lot of stress in my life. I had to let go of that dream. Release, Heather, release.
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby– LOVE
- Happiest Baby on the Block– LOVE
- Have a New Kid in 7 Days… I needed this. It worked!
- Parenting with Love and Logic– yup. Thats hard to do, but worth it.
- Bringing Up Boys– Chalk full of great advice
- The Strong Willed Child– Again, a classic.
Okay… So. You get my drift. I have done my fair share of “parenting reading” in the last 5 years. This list does not include the bazillion blog posts, online articles or other various media paraphernalia that I have laid my eyes on regarding bringing up my children. I am an achiever. I like to do a good job at whatever task I am handed. Add that fact on top of the nerdy research lover in me and you have someone who probably over educates themselves on a few subjects, one being “parenting”.
DISCLAIMER: I am not the perfect parent, will never be the perfect parent, I need Jesus like everyone else.
I recently joined a “Bible Study” group for moms at our new church and we are going through “Finding Your Purpose as a Mom” by Donna Otto. Honestly, I joined the group so I could get to know a few women in our church. I love fellowshipping with gals who are in the same phase of life as I am. I like camaraderie, I like to swap scary stories of our children running with scissors, but living to tell about it. (I kid) I committed to reading this book, but I had NO idea what was in store for me. (I already knew everything, duh!?)
Last week, I downloaded the book (which is no longer in print BTW), and did my dutifully reading before class. At the end of the chapter my socks were knocked off and I was left sitting on my couch with my jaw hanging open. Totally convicted, totally moved and completely shocked at what God had shown me. I was caught off guard by the Holy Spirit, in an area that I thought I was a veteraned expert in, ‘raising young children‘.
The author brought up so many great points, I would have to just quote the entire chapter, but here are a few of the main themes that stuck to my ribs this week.
1: My house is Holy Ground.
That’s right… My. House. Holy?!? Has Donna Otto been inside of my house?! (I think NOT!) When I think of a “holy” space, I envision stained glass, wooden pews, tall ceilings and… silence. This is not my home. The rooms are scattered with super heros, baby dolls, and jumperoos. The halls are filled with noisy children, clashing swords, and lot’s of laughter. At first glance, this is not a sacred place.
But, she says…
Just as Moses took off his shoes on Holy ground, “Take off your shoes, he is saying. The place where you are cooking, cleaning, and raising the next generation is indeed holy ground because you are mine and your home is part of my plan for changing the world”.
Oh. My. Word. My house, is part of HIS PLAN?!? Wowzers, what an eye opening statement. (And then I pose this question to myself: Have I been conducting my house in a manner that is worthy for God to use?! CRINGE) Recently, I admit, my accomplishment is just making it through to the end of the day. Are all children fed? Check. Is everyone clothed? Check. Are we all alive?! Check. Now that Dutch is 7 months old, it is time to get my butt in gear and be more intentional.
“Intentional thinking is important because I think much of our culture has fallen into the assumption that home will just take care of itself…And, I think that countercultural thinking is absolutely crucial because our current American culture tends to be absolutely clueless and perverse in the way it views our home life and motherhood. We live in a society that features entire cable channels about “house Beautiful” (HGTV) whetting our appetites for homemade bread and crisp, fragrant hand embroidered sheets…” And just think, this book was written BEFORE Pinterest and BEFORE Facebook! How much more are our appetites whetted for a color coordinated house and fresh baked cookies?!
(Do I spend more time on Pinterest than I do in the Word?!)
We must view our homes with so much seriousness, taking a stand again the schizophrenic culture that both idolizes and devalues the “home”. No matter if you are a mother who stays at home, or who works, when your family is together in your home, “Your Savior wants to use your life and your work and your role as a mom to change the world“.
We must shift gears from day to day thinking to having an eternal mindset.
And no, this does not mean I will require silence in my home from now on, or that we will be in prayer 24 hours a day, or that my children will instantly become “angels” because our house is holy. Nope, not going to happen. But, it will cause me to have a bit more grace in training up my children, it will help me to be more intentional with my actions, it will cause my attitude about my “house” go beyond it’s physical state and consider the value of the emotional and spiritual well being of my household.
2: What ever is Good about God should be fleshed out in my home:
So, being contentious, short tempered and impatient are probably not attributes of God, huh?! Good, because I am never that way and neither are my children. Whew…
“We are called to look at our homes the way God sees them- as vital centers for accomplishing his work on earth. Homes are tangible places where his love, mercy and righteousness are taught and practiced on a regular basis”
So, am I practicing his love, mercy, GRACE, patience, and self-discipline with my children?? Am I modeling this behavior, and I teaching them how to be this way also?! Are these qualities my priority?! (They are NOW)
They. Must. Be. It is my calling, as a mother, to be the one to teach my children these attributes of God by behaving in such a manner. This alone is reason enough for me to draw near to God daily, because he is USING me to mold these children into who he wants them to be. (no pressure, Heather)
I cannot leave this awesome responsibility up to anyone else. It only falls on me, and my husband, to instill these character qualities into our three precious children. Netflix won’t teach them, PBS kids will not teach them, their friends will not teach them, and (gasp) even the church will not teach them… it is only up to me. The burden to “teach and practice” how live out these character qualities of God can only be full filled in the confines of my house. Is my home conducive to such eternal work?! The answer must be yes, and if it isn’t, then changes need to be made. Today.
The priority of my house must not be home decor, gourmet foods, or organization… the ultimate priority must be for it to be a Holy place, a place intentionally created to raise up children WHO…
- who are on fire for the Gospel
- who seek justice
- who love hard
- who practice grace
- AND who know God
These are the children I want to produce from my little house.
These are just my thoughts on CHAPTER ONE… Can’t wait to share what else I glean from this book. I can tell already it will be life. changing.