Parenting: A Refiner’s Fire

Twenty years from now, what is your desire for your children?  Is it for them to “grow up”, get a degree, have some amazing job?  OR do you desire MORE for your children? We do.  We ask ourselves regularly, “What will this build in them?” or “How will this shape them?”  We desire for our children to grow in Godly character and in deep relationship with God.  We desire for them to know how much they are loved and chosen, so that they will be able to love others more freely.  We make family choices based on these desires.  We plan vacations around them.  We choose topics for homeschooling around them.  We even plan field trips around them.

We, like every parent on earth, are very aware that parenting is a refiner’s fire.  God uses children, as well as many other life circumstances, to teach us where we need to grow.  As our children model our words, actions, emotions, responses, we are held accountable to a higher standard every day!  There is nothing like a child mimicking your attitude to put you in your place with God!!!  Sometimes you don’t even need to be a parent yet-  just an older sibling.

Last month we spent learning about the process of refining metals and making glass.  We learned how metals are purified multiple times to increase their value, how sand is turned into glass, and how we, as Christians, are refined throughout life.

We went to a local artist workshop on making glass.  He was a wonderful host to our family and took time to teach each child the process of glass making. He even gave us a tour of the historical church where his studio is located.  At the end, he allowed us to stay extra and watch him work on a project.  We decided to split up the family and we will do a second visit in a few months.  Since there was a 2000 degree furnace involved- we thought that was a wise choice for our family!  In the end, we came home with BEAUTIFUL stained glass flowers to give as a present to Nauna and Nat for their recent wedding. 

We can’t wait to go back with the rest of the kids.  In the meantime, we have no doubt that God will continue to supply us with our own personal “furnace” to refine us day by day!

Jacob learning how to use the furnaceJoacob rolling out molten glassJacob using the shears to shape the glassThis will become his flowerSophie rolling her molten glass in colored glass bitsSophie learning the toolsShaping her flower just soJosiah learning to use to 2000 degree furnaceJosiah making his fowerJosiah in fromnt of the historical stained glass in the church buildingsophieJacobJosiahWell worth the long, refining, and molding process!!! The finfshed product

Marriage Study Week 4: Meekness

By definition, “meekness” is yielding your personal rights and expectations to God. This falls in the “easier said than done” category!

So many of our struggles come because we have plans, great plans, OUR plans, OUR ideas, OUR way of doing/accomplishing something.

Our marriage should be a living example of Christ’s relationship to the church. Scripture tells us “husbands love your wife just as Christ loved the church” In order to do that we must first examine what it means to live like Christ.  Luke 14 talks about the challenge of being a disciple of Christ. That we must “forsake all we have have” to follow him.  Here begins the great challenge of “meekness” or “yielding” our personal rights and expectations to God.

Somehow in our independent nature we start to think that we can handle this, that we know how to take care of this or that. God always does better. Sure you might be “capable”, but victory combined with peace, joy and freedom—that only comes from God!

So what do you need to “give up”? What is it that you are controlling? Is it your home. work, reputation, image, plans?  What expectations to you have of your life or even your day? Giving up your expectations and yielding your personal rights to God is challenging.

Let us share with you a little trick to make it easier.  Learn more about God and His word and less about the opinions of man. The more you learn His word, the more you learn about Him.  The more you learn about Him, the more you desire to be like Him.  The opposite is true as well—- the more you learn about man and latest and greatest things, well, the more you want to be like them.  This we have learned.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:7–8).

This week talk together about what you need to yield.  What you may need to give up. As well, think on your own, “what do I need to give up that I hold against my spouse?” Sometimes, we are a stumbling block to those we love. Tell your spouse your thoughts and ask him/her for forgiveness.

Be careful!!! It is easy to think, “he needs to this or that”  or “she never does this, so how can I be expected…” 

Your obedience to God is NOT contingent on your spouses actions.  Your obedience is between YOU and GOD.  NO EXCUSES!

Marriage Study Week 2 & Week 3- Fear

Week 2- Fear

We all have fears. Sometimes they are little fears and sometimes they are huge and overpowering. From fear of rejection, other’s opinions, failure, judgment, fear of loss, or fear of inadequacy. Fears are very real and we all have them. The big fears you tend to tackle, or try to, because they are so obvious. Over the years we have found that the little fears seem to linger around a little too long in your marriage life.  They creep their way into different situations.  We didn’t invite them to toy around with our marriage, our children, our life, but somehow they are still hanging around.  You see, you don’t have to invite them- they come on their own, but you DO have to ask them to leave or they will stay forever!

So this week’s challenge is to list our all of your fears- yes all.  List them with space in between.  Then go back, grab your Bible and get down to business!

Advise from man will only last so long, but God’s Word is alive and eternal! Start looking up all those fears and write down the answers you find. Don’t just read them- write them down, so it stares back at you! What does God’s Word have to say about it. 

In Galatians, Paul says, “It is for freedom that you have been set free!”  We can just picture Paul shaking his head at the Galatians- Hello people!!!! Did you hear me—it is for FREEDOM that you have been set free!!!!!  So get down to the business of living a life of freedom!!!!

 

Week 3- Fear Continued

So now you have two lists. One from week 1 with all of your “laundry” and the reasons why God is allowing you to go through them.  The other from week 2 listing all your fears and God’s Truth about them.

This week is short, just two questions:

What do the two lists have to do with each other?  How do these lists affect your faith and marriage?

Lots of thinking and praying to do………

Marriage Study-Week 1: Laundry

As promised we will post our Marriage Study topics so you can do them on your own.  Most of them you don’t need to be married for, so they really apply to all of us.

Week 1: Laundry

This is not the T-shirt kind of laundry.  This is the laundry that is in your life closet. All of those things in your life that are a source of stress, challenge, frustration, sadness, and maybe confusion. No one is without them.  We all have “dirty laundry” in our lives that we need to clean up.

The challenge is two fold.

First, make your laundry list.  List out all the things in your life that you would like to change or work on.  They can be personal (thoughts, attitude, actions), they can be financial (budget, choice making, debt, stress, work), or they can be marital (communication, different personalities, parenting, extended family).  Make your list- little and big alike.

Second, if you believe that God is sovereign, then He is sovereign ALL THE TIME.  It is impossible to be half way sovereign or sovereign in just part of our lives. So now, discipline yourself to go through your list and make a second list within a list.  List under each “laundry item” all the reasons why God would allow you to go through this challenge. Remember, this is a list about God’s sovereignty in your life- not about your mistakes and “natural consequences”.  So list it out.  Why would God allow you to be challenged in this way?  It’s a little like being a teacher and making a lesson plan.  What do you learn from this? What will be changed about you when this is all said and done?  How is your marriage going to be stronger because of this?