disciple before you discipline

1896938_750244294987221_486834223_nWhen my first-born was a toddler, and his baby brother napped in a bassinet nearby, we would draw together, talk together, read together, be together. We memorized Scripture songs and prayed for our loved ones, filled sticker books, laid out the tracks for Thomas the Tank Engine, made cookies for neighbors, and often walked the mile to our local church. And everywhere we went, every time we sat down, each nap-time as we laid down and rose up again, I discipled my child.  

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“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 

There’s a holy order to growing up in Christ, and there’s an order to our children growing up, too. It’s not as elusive as it seems on most long parenting days. It’s actually quite simple.

First we disciple them, then we layer in discipline, and finally we pull back our need to discipline as they grow in self-discipline.

DISCIPLE

DISCIPLINE

SELF-DISCIPLINE

Read more about each important step today at The MOB Society.

 

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Because we all end up bowed down, low to the ground, eventually

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My posture these days is running, standing, and going. My posture is muscular and active -  throwing people and priorities out of the way and out of my day because the school bell is set to ring. There's very little slowing down and kneeling down and falling down prostrate on the floor in quiet surrender because... well... Life.  

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There is no time to fill up our souls with God's beauty before the sun rises - before my sons rise - and so we rush into life lacking beauty. Beauty within and beauty flowing out into the lives of our little people. We throw make-up on our faces at stoplights, but we can't cake it on thick enough that it eeks it's way down through our pores and into our souls. True beauty doesn't work that way. It's got to start deep within, and work it's way up and out. But we're living lives that are much too busy for such things.

Hurried, harried, and horrible: they go together. But hurried and holy rarely co-exist.

Holy and hallowed and hushed, now those are true companions.

They meet together in the morning hours before the sun steals past the beauty of dawn. We need to join them there.

We need to fellowship with the Holy One - slowing down, sitting down, and coming down off our cram-packed agendas to seek Him on the floor.

On the floor.

Because that's where every person is going to end up, eventually. Either on purpose, prostrating oneself in worship, intentionally in the morning hours; or at night in a tearful puddle; or, and this is a frightening thought, they're going to find themselves on the ground like the discarded branch that's not bearing fruit - cut off and cast down.

 

Live in me, and I will live in you. A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself. It has to stay attached to the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit unless you live in me. "I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can't produce anything without me. Whoever doesn't live in me is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Branches like this are gathered, thrown into a fire, and burned. (John 15:4-6)

 

Thrown away, cast aside, thrown down...

We're going to end up on the ground, on our knees, on our bellies, forehead indented by dusty carpet strands or pressed against cool linoleum floors. Prostrate.

Eventually.

And the choice of how we get there is what we call freewill.

Starting with Him each day, it's what we want. Seems to me it ought to be easier, but... life.

Life.

Somehow that word is always our excuse.

But a beautiful faith-filled, honey-dripping life is what we're after, and it is found at dawn.

When we rush past the quiet morning moments and into demanding days, we are not the only ones to suffer.

The precious people in our lives bear the stretch marks of our stretched out hectic days. Hollering isn't Holy. But what else can we expect if we're not abiding, remaining, living in Him? We throw retroactive prayers up after unholy mornings that whirl past us in a haze. "Lord, forgive me. Lord, don't let me screw this family up. Lord, transform me!

But we forget that transformation isn't a retroactive wave of a magic wand - transformation takes place preemptively and prostrate. First place and foremost. Transformation into a thing of beauty starts with this sort of proactive surrender. It takes humility, on our knees and on the floor and on the offense... daily before dawn.

Because life... life is full of fragile beauty, cased in the soft skin of relationships. Our love relationship with the vine, and our love relationship with our people. We need to prostrate ourselves in the hushed and hallowed hallways of our predawn homes, or we will end up flat on the floor in tearful confession for lacking beauty come nighttime.

[Tweet "We need to prostrate ourselves in the hushed and hallowed hallways of our predawn homes, or we will end up flat on the floor in tearful confession for lacking beauty come nighttime."]

 

We try everything else first, don't we? Staying calm in our own strength. Arm-wrestling our way to patience and self-control. We are well-intentioned Christian Women. But the truth is simply this: Good intentions won't do a thing without Holy Spirit power backing them up. We can't push ourselves through to transformation unless we hit the floor and hit our knees first thing everyday.

Because we're going to end up there, don't you know it? On the floor. One way or another.

Don't you get tired of turning to God retroactively?

I don't want to confess my sins at the end of another long and losing mothering day. Not anymore! I'm tired of the sameness of defeat.

Shouldn't we rather start with Him? Confessing our need from the beginning, rather than ending with tear stained confessions?

You see how that works? Because either way we are going to confess Him! Either way we're Hitting the floor and either way we're confessing our need for Him. So which will it be? Proactively? Or retroactively, at the end of another defeated day?

Let's confess our need for His strength upfront, as to avoid confessing our need for forgiveness on the backside of each hard day.

I want to learn to worship God on the floor before the sunrise, before my sons rise. Because I'm going to hit the hardwood at some point today.

 

"...at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

Bowed down, good and low, before the glory of God the Father.

He gently leads us

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Today is my husband's 40th birthday! Yesterday was also HUGE because I sent a complete book manuscript into my publisher. And tomorrow is already hanging heavy over my head because I'm scheduled to speak at a local MOPS group.

Needless to say, I have a few things on my mind that aren't about mothering my little crew.

I have thoughts and commitments beyond being a fully engaged Face-to-Face interacting, faith building, dinner making, mess cleaning, boo-boo kissing mom! And it's all good! Truly. God doesn't just call us to one role at a time - especially moms! We wear a million different hats every long mothering day. Taxi driver, teacher, bible study leader, accountant, lover, disciplinarian, cook, maid, manager, special event coordinator... Even if you're a stay-at-home mom, you're home with lots of things going on within your family and within your own multi-faceted life.

And I commend you for trying to make it all work, all the while attempting to stay present and patient toward your people. This season of life takes a whole lot of muscle - as we try to do it all! But it also requires a whole lot of surrender! In the busyness of everything I have going on this week I am meditating and believing this beautiful picture of motherhood given to us in scripture:

 

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There are days that I feel completely overwhelmed (those are usually the days I snap - when the children's childish ways are simply too much for me to handle.) There are the days I slow down to seek the Lord. I ask Him if I'm doing too much, said yes to too many things, put on too many hats. And sometimes the answer is "YES - Yes, you have." But other times His answer comes slowly but clearly, "No, I've just called you to hard things. But I will lead you... I gently lead those that have young."

  Sweet Mom friends, I want to encourage you to ask this same question of the Lord. "Have I said yes to too many things? Is the load I'm carrying too heavy because I've taken on too much?" The answer may be "YES - Yes, you have." Or possibly, in His tender way, God may remind you, "No, I've just called you to do hard things. But I will lead you... I gently lead those that have young."

  I am not your Holy Spirit. I do not know if you've taken on too much. However, I know that when we are stressed, overwhelmed by it all, we tend be less gentle - and don't we want to be like our shepherd? So, let's seek Him today. Ask Him if our tendencies to explode have anything to do with the load we are carrying. Ask Him what might come off of your backs - for we were not created beasts of burden. And if there is nothing you can remove today, then surrender to His promise to take your heavy load and exchange it for His light and momentary burdens. For He longs to gently lead those of us with young.

 

[Tweet ""He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11)"]

Picture post as we wrap up summer

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I haven't fallen off the face of the earth... but I've been teetering on the edge these summer days.  

No. Not true. I've simply been busy. All good kinds of busy. Busy loving my kids, cooking my husband's favorite meals, taking family vacations and throwing a big baptism party in the pouring down rain for our youngest son. Add to that I'm writing a book about the glory and the gory of motherhood - so I'm busy living it first, then writing it down. A book that has a whole lot to do with these hectic yet heavenly home making, home schooling, home dwelling years. Yeah, we've been  busy this summer.

 

So here's a little picture post to highlight the faces and the places I've been loving these past few months.

 

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Needless to say, we've had a terrible time! Now we're heading into another school year with Caleb starting sixth grade, Brody in fourth, and Asher growing up and into second.

 

Thanks for indulging me this picture post. I'm rather smitten with my little people.

Over-Stimulated Children - Over-Stimulated Mom

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I walked into the sterile room with florescent lights, and draped an extra blanket over the top of my sleeping baby's stroller. Only four weeks old, he slept most of every day (thoughtfully preserving his strength for our midnight bonding sessions). We waited so long for the pediatrician I eventually fell asleep in the exam room's plastic blue chair, slumped over like a worn rag doll. When the doctor walked in I startled awake and smiled awkwardly. He nodded like I wasn't the first new mom to doze off waiting on him.  

Over the next ten minutes he asked me a litany of questions about how the baby was sleeping and feeding and pooping. He worked his way through a clip-board list of details and when he finished his questions (but before rousing my baby to count his fingers and toes) he asked me two surprising questions. First, he asked me if I'd yet had a date with my husband since the birth. I said no, of course, the child was only one month old after all. So he wrote me a prescription for a date night and placed it in my hand. "Take one of these a month, once a week is even better, but in the very least once a month. I'll check in on you at your son's three month check up. This is for your health. It's just one of the thing that you and your husband need to do to have a healthy marriage... therefore it's what your son needs too. And I'm his Doctor."

 

[Tweet "Children need their parents to date."]

 

Then came the Doctor's second question. "Did you hang a mobile over your baby's crib?"

 

"Of course."

 

"Does is have bright colors, flashing lights and a happy melody?" He prodded deeper, writing down my answers.

 

"Yes," I proudly nodded.

 

He then jotted down another note upon his prescription pad and handed it to me.

 

"Take down the mobile until your child is 9 months old."

 

I read it then laughed aloud, surprised.

 

My baby's doctor laughed with me because he was a jovial man with a loud tie, and crumbs on his mustache, then fell quiet. "Your child has had nothing exciting him for nine long months. Nothing but warm, quiet, rest. Just the right environment for a baby to grow in, don't you agree? Then suddenly their born into the bright lights of this big world and we immediately want to stimulate and entertain them constantly. But they have their whole lives ahead of them for that. How about, instead, you just give this little guy nine more peaceful months? Just nine more months of dim lights without bells and whistles? Doesn't that sound relaxing?"

 

Exhausted, I couldn't help but agree.

 

A year or two later, when my first-born was still very young and his little brother was the newborn, I read an article about the benefits and dangers of TV watching for young children. The one point that stuck with me most built upon the advice of my children's pediatrician. It spoke of over-stimulating our children's minds.  Most television shows (and gaming devices too) can over-stimulate a child because of how quick and constant the visual images change. Quick edits back and forth between scenes, color and sound flashing and popping, zooming in and zooming out, then cutting over to another exciting close-up followed by a whole new song and dance… a toddler’s eyes and brain bounce around so fast their little beings get all shook up!

 

And then we ask them to stay still in our laps as we read them a quiet story, sit still at the dinner table for a calm meal, remain by our side as we walk to the park, and look us in the eye when they answer our questions… but they’re still bouncing!

 

And we can too.

 

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Just the way that funny old man gave me a prescription for my own health before he wrote one out for my child, I want to encourage you to protect your own body and mind from over-stimulation during this exhausting season.

 

[Tweet "A mom must guard her own quiet heart before she can tend to her over-stimulated children."]

 

Do you ever feel like your children are constantly pushing your buttons until the sirens go off and you start hollering? Their wrong behavior, constant crying, hitting, complaining, needing snacks, mess making, nap fighting… is your undoing. However, what if they’re not really trying to push your buttons at all? What if your buttons are just all stressed out because you’re over-stimulated and over-tired? Maybe your buttons are super-sensitive because they need more dark hours every day. Maybe you need some more time in a less-stimulating environment so that you can stay calm and kind and respond the right way. Maybe you’re just over-stimulated.

  Some days I bounce between my never ending to-do list – dropping older children off at school, running to the library with the littles for story-hour, then to the grocery store before naps, then home to change out another load of laundry before getting lunch and tucking the baby into bed. Coming downstairs, tripping over Legos, the preschoolers and I dive into making homemade bubbles, then we trace letters together, followed by a show so I can prep dinner and fold some clothes and make a call and wake the baby to go get the big kids from school. Then off to soccer practice, and doling out snacks for the little ones while the big ones play. Hurrying home for dinner making, with the sound of the television in the background. Dinner and devotionals at the table, but everyone’s bouncing and talking and complaining and so I get angry! Exhausted physically and emotionally. But more than anything else… I'm simply over-stimulated.

 

So what can be done when children need to get to school and soccer practice and you have preschoolers wanting to play and a baby needing a nap and another trip to the grocery store that must be made? How do we keep ourselves resting in quiet spaces, when there aren't any? No quiet. No space? We must make some, carve out and protect it.

 

Three ways to cultivate quiet hearts in the over-stimulating season of motherhood

Sound -- Keep the music and the tvs turned off for most the day. That constant background hum isn't white noise, lulling us to sleep, but a static buzz crossing our signals and keeping us agitated. Want to listen to music in the car? Go for it! Want a movie with your husband after the kids go down? Enjoy it! But don't let the noise fill every crevice all day long. I'm exhausted just thinking of it.

Devices -- Our eyes and minds can bounce and grow weary just like our children's. Close your laptop and set down your phone. Try not to look at a screen in the first 30 minutes of waking, or for at least 30 minutes before you close your eyes for the night. The images flash and stimulate your brain... But you need deep sleep so that you can be ready to love your people again fresh tomorrow. So power off and sleep well.

Quiet Time with the Lord -- Just as our children need a break from fast-paced images, the constant going, sights and sounds, entertainment and consumption, and learn to simply rest in the quiet of their rooms for a little while each day… so do we. The opposite of over-stimulated is resting. Rest. Be still and know the Prince of Peace. Peace is where a soul can grow into maturity. Therefore, daily, purposefully find time and space to meet with Him, talk with Him, and hear from Him. He brings us down, swaddles us tight, and removes the mobile from our ever moving lives.

 

When our children get over-stimulated they can be little terrors, no doubt. But when we are over-stimulated, agitated on the inside, we can be the most terrible of all. Therefore, we must learn to find balance in the quiet places of our faith lives, though our family lives are busy. We must learn to cultivate quiet spaces in our daily routines without the constant buzz of podcasts and Pandora. We must turn off the stimulating mobiles, ever spinning over our heads and hyping us up. Without the peace and quiet we simply continue to bounce and explode. Like bullets ricocheted between two over-stimulated toddlers. But we're the adults, and our toddlers need us calm.

 

Let us learn with our children to turn off the background music, the devices, and the car… and be home… and be still… and be calm.

 


1896938_750244294987221_486834223_nThis blog post is part of a series written for moms who struggle with anger in their homes, with their young children. We're currently talking our way through the most common TRIGGERS that set us off. Join the conversation on the private Facebook page, "No More Angry MOB".