Seeking God’s Plan & Promises - One Moms Thoughts About Raising Kids

It is such an honor to introduce Beth, once again, as she shares her heart on parenting! Beth is a beautiful mama of 2 boys and wife to Brett. She lives in the Portland area of Oregon. What a vulnerable and valuable message she has to share with us. As a young woman pursuing Jesus' ways, a not-yet-mama, and a newlywed, this message is GOLD to me! I am soaking it up. Would you join me with a humble heart as we are blessed by her? Seeking God’s Plan & Promises- One Moms Thoughts About Raising Kids

By Beth Slater

One moms thoughts on raising kids

I remember it like it was yesterday, much time has passed, but the feeling is as prevalent today as it always was for me. Being newly married and torn in two directions, I wanted to honor the agreement between myself and my husband to wait a few years before starting a family. After all, our relationship is and will continue to be the priority, even after kids enter the scene. But the longing for children was so strong, undeniable, baby fever. And so we waited.

A few years passed, the time had come, a boy was on the way. People told me I was glowing, {I think it was sweat} nevertheless, I felt so special. I was moving into mommyhood, a new adventure, a new purpose, a dream being fulfilled. As the pregnancy progressed I had a feeling he would deliver early, I had no idea. He did indeed come early, 4 weeks early, unable to breath sufficiently, to the NICU for nine days. I was heart broken, yet relieved. We just happened to deliver at a hospital that had a NICU to take him to {Jesus knew!}, doctors and nurses to expertly care for his tender, little body. While in the NICU he also experienced apnea several times. And when it was time to bring him home, apnea monitor and all, the feeling finally sank in….I’m not prepared for this…..I’m no medical expert…….how can I possibly care for this child the way he needs…deserves? It was such a strange feeling as we brought him to our car, not wanting to leave the help and support we received at the hospital….yet wanting to race out the door for fear they would realize how ill-equipped I was and not let us take him home.

One mommys thoughts on parenting

Fast forward 3 years and baby boy #2 was on the way. Two bouncing baby boys! My heart overflowed, the Lord had greatly blessed our family. I still thank Him often…daily for the blessing that they are in our family, in my life…for the richness they add to our home…for the way He teaches me through them.

As I watch them grow I’m continuously reminded of how ill-equipped I am to raise these two boys…growing men. To teach them, nurture them, love them. When I look into their future all I see is opportunity…and the great task of getting them to that place whole, ready to embrace it. I tell every new mom I ever meet that I still don’t know what I’m doing, that nothing else in life keeps me more on my knees, in prayer than these two precious boys. That’s no exaggeration. God reassures me, tells me that He has put me here, for them, He’ll help me, to trust Him. It’s a humbling place to be. It stretches me and grows me and produces in me further dependence on Him. Last year I found myself in such a place of prayer as our oldest was entering middle school. There was about a month of time in the summer that, if I wasn’t physically on my knees, my heart surely was bowed before the Lord. I was in continuous prayer seeking God’s face over this child. Have you been there, too?

During that time of prayer God showed me how to pray for direction in raising these children that He trusted me with. While there isn’t a specific “how to” chapter on raising kids in the bible, there certainly is much said about bringing up kids in the way and truth of the Lord. Let me show you what I learned.

One mommy to another

1)

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:26, 27

 

We may think that we make kids, but God says in the bible that He made each man, He set their time and place. And for good reason…He knew the where and how each of us might most likely seek Him. He sets us up for success in life, which ultimately is a relationship with Him.

With this in mind, seek God for purpose in parenting, purpose in the parent/child relationship and purpose in the family relationship. Ask God to show you how to contribute and lift up this child to Him with the goal in mind that our kids look up to us parents as the first God-like role model in their lives. That we may be a shadow of what real relationship with Christ is.

 

2)

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

“Your eyes saw my unformed body all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13, 16

 

Recognize your child’s characteristics are given to him or her from God. Is there something about your child that is frustrating? Yes, we all have them. In our family, one son talks…A LOT. My husband and I are both naturally pretty quiet people, it can be overwhelming at times. But as I seek God about this characteristic in our son, He is showing me a great strength in him to touch peoples lives through his gift of tirelessly abundant speaking.

Rather than fight against the frustration, ask God to show you how a perceived challenge in character is actually a strength to be molded for their future. We have the opportunity to shape our kids into the successful, whole adults that God created them to be if we seek Him in doing so.

One mommy to another

3)

“Start children off on the way they should go
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

 

Many people read this verse and think it speaks to teaching them the bible at a young age. {W.hich of course is good, and something you should be doing as a Christian parent}. But really this verse is talking about a child’s path in life, their natural bend, what they will do. Is your child artistic, mathematical, musical, sports-minded, etc. As they grow, it’s our job to help them discover what they’re good at, what they want to do with their life. For instance, because our family owns an insurance business, it would be easy to point our boys in that direction, to tell them what schooling they need, to set the expectation that they'll be working for the family business. It would be nice of they did, it would be easy if that’s what they choose. But if I have a child who needs to be artistic, I don’t want him to be stuck at a desk pushing papers…….that doesn’t bring him satisfaction, it doesn’t bring God glory.

Instead of letting circumstance rule, prayerfully recognize their personality and groom them accordingly because, as their parents, we can see a bigger picture. Ask God to show you this quality in your child and how to nurture it. It may be obvious, it may not…ask God, He’ll show you.

As you can see I carry a heavy burden for my children. I strive to be a good mom for them. I don’t take it lightly that I get to raise them. And as I read these passages and think of all the things I need to do, to watch for, to pray over…it’s a lot on my shoulders. I’m so thankful that God knows, He’s so good to give me a <conditional> promise in all of this. Please claim it as your promise, too!

 

If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him— then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.” Deuteronomy 11:22, 23

 

What is this larger, stronger nation to be driven out? For me- it’s the idea that I can be a good mom in my own effort. Really and truly, God will do these things in my family, in my children, in our relationships if I keep my focus on Him- not on being better and doing more- but keep my focus on Him. If I try to do the work I will fail.

 

As I have been clinging to Jesus this year, He has been faithful to bless my children and my relationship with them. Rather than worry, I have peace. In frustrating moments, He gives me direction. And while I don’t know what the future holds, I know that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6, so I thank Him for that!

Parenting advice

See Beth's guest post on Choosing Joy - Can it be a discipline?

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Our Neighbor Kid Walks into Our Home. Without Knocking.

neighbor kid I am enjoying our neighbor kids and their unique craziness.

They frequent the Brenner Garden patio at least 2 evenings a week. They see the smoke from our chiminea and it's their battle-signal to run across the parking lot to bang on the fence, peep their eyes through the holes, and ask so politely beg for cookies.

I love it.

Loren and I look at each other when we hear the herd of feet pounding the cement towards our little area. We smile, close our books, and gear up for whats coming, which is always something different.

Patio Chiminea Bon Fire

Reading by the fire, the handsome lad

There is a family with 5 rugrats siblings plus 2 more girls from different families. When we open the gate, it's like unleashing a million {or 7}  minions into our little, tiny, cramped, small, suffocating area. They're all trying to talk and tell us stories from afar: school and home and the parking lot. They attempt to tattle on one another to Loren & I. Somewhere in the midst of the frantic chaos of story telling yelling, Caleb asks for cookies.

Do you remember Caleb? He was our M&M boy (read about him). He is the one that started this growth, this tumor on my heart for all of the neighbor kids. He used to randomly knock on our door, many times pushing his youngest brother in a plastic thing, and ask in his kid accent, "Umm..can I have M&M's?"

Neighbor kids

Can you see why I just adore Caleb? The clueless kid is too cute not to love. He is in his full glory here: itching his belly while I am selling some furniture to strangers from Craigslist. If the buyers weren't creeped out enough by our raging garden in our apartment patio, Caleb sure gave them a run for their money. I love this kid, I adore him, I cherish him. His smile makes me heart swarm with a thousand butterflies.

As my heart grew for Caleb, I made M&M cookies. Then, one at a time, I found out he had a sibling. And another sibling. And oh. 4 siblings!

Thanks to the Ladies Activity Group at church, my freezer is packed full with dozens of cookies. They got together one Wednesday morning and baked 130+ cookies in various kinds! Talk about being the church and swooning my heart. {Using their gifts and passions of baking to build me up, equip me, to serve the neighborhood kids in my neighborhood - so cool.}

These kids are always running around the parking lot. They like to call each other names and punch each other. Because, well, they're siblings and kids and don't know how else to spend their life. They're a handful - props to the mama who raises them!

Loren and I had to decide: Were we going to be a set of adults in their life who constantly corrected their poor behavior towards one another? Who told them how they are living every breath wrong? OR are we going to be a set of adults that offer grace when it isn't expected, showers love when they "don't deserve it," and even gives them cookies when they should be sent to a corner? What legacy do we want to leave?

We chose the latter. Oh what freedom. What right do we have to correct them, anyways?

The other day I got home from running errands and was eating lunch when I heard the door open. Again, for the second time that day. In walks curious Caleb, on a hunt for cookies. Do you know what a blessing it is to have people walk into your home, knowing they are fully welcome?

My heart was so happy. But also, a little nervous that I was going to get yelled at -- I had yet to meet his parents and how awkward to have someone else's kids in your home that don't even know you? The last thing I want is to damage any possible relationship with them.

He then said, "My cookie, I dropped it earlier and I lost it."

I had watched him take that cookie and eat it while riding his scooter earlier today. So he lied.

"Are you lying to me?"

He shook his head no. I asked him again. He still said no.

"Caleb. You know that even if you ate the cookie, I would still give you another if you ask. You don't have to lie to me." While he stared at me, I thought I saw it click. So I asked him again if he really dropped the cookie. But he said he did drop it. I explained, "Caleb, I only want you to be honest. Guess what? If you lied, I'll forgive you. I'll show you grace. Do you know what grace is?" He shook his head no.

As I explained to him the meaning of grace, and why the heck I would ever show him such a thing, I was so thankful for Jesus. I am so thankful that He offers such freedom through grace. When I finished explaining as best I could to a 5 year old, I asked him again if he had lied. He said he did lie and ended with, "But ummm, can I still have a cookie?"

freedom through grace

I wonder if I do this to Jesus more than I want to know or admit. I wonder if I don't admit my sins and mistakes before Him, I don't repent, because I don't want to admit that I should be condemned. It's like I don't want to accept grace, yet again, because it feels like I'm always asking for grace. But isn't that the beautiful part? That grace is unending?

As I handed Caleb the cookie after he confessed his lie, I was filled with complete joy to offer grace, mercy, and forgiveness through a cookie. No strings attached. I was overwhelmed with joy to give him what he has been taught he doesn't deserve.

giving grace

Friends. Let us shower one another in grace. If you wear the name "Christ," then guess what? Christ says that in His presence you are blameless, without a single fault (Colossians 1:22). Christ says there is now no condemnation, no shame, for those who call upon His name (Romans 8:1). Stand firm in these promises and truths. Don't only cling to them for yourself, but share this grace with those around you that "don't deserve it." Give grace, because it has been given to you. Walk in the freedom of giving it with no strings attached.

Jesus, Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for always, always offering grace and forgiveness, with joy! You are so good, so so good to me. You give grace when I don't deserve it. Help me to share that same grace with your beloved people.

Walking to Church

unnamedMost of the world walks to be with their church family. Loren and I have never walked to be with church community on a Sunday morning, until this morning. Corvallis Church cancelled services for today, along with the rest of the city, and were encouraged to join with any neighbors and have house church (Pastor Mike sent an email with an entire e-service listed! It was awesome). The power went out again last night and our friends invited us over for breakfast and church this morning. They have a wood stove. Us Brenners aren't fond of driving in this slushy snow, so we decided to walk the short mile. In doing so, I found myself complaining way too much:

I was splashed by cars driving by on multiple occasions, I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was tired, I was hot, my calves hurt...seriously, as I list all that I whined about it is embarrassing. Loren, fearlessly leading the way through the sidewalk snow mounds, stopped in his tracks and turned around. He bent to kiss me (because I am a foot shorter than him) and he said, "Most people do this every Sunday. Most of the world walks to be with their church unnamedfamily. And not just in the snow, but in conditions which are just as harsh if not worse. Not with the right shoes or clothing, but either barefoot or with sandals. Can't we make this a memory? Can't this be a funny story we someday tell our kids?" I know what you're thinking: he is amazing. He leads me closer to the heart of Jesus every day. He reminded me that I should do everything without arguing or complaining, like who is this guy? He is my husband and I am so honored to have such a leader that loves me.

As we finished the trek to our friends house, we laughed and we slipped in the slush and we held hands. We talked about what a groovy day it already was, and were excited to hang out with this couple and their three crazy kids. When we arrived, we were greeted with faces plastered against the window and hands waving frantically. The mama was making eggs while the dad was throwing his kids around and making them giggle. The crazy baby sat there slobbering and smiling with his two teeth. The entire time I could not help but be completely joyed observing this family interact: they wrestled, they tickled, they laughed, and they were real.

Our worship music was that of children's laughter. We read through 1 Corinthians chapter 4 (chosen by their 7 year old). We closed with prayer and communion, which was a piece of Chex cereal and some sort of juice in a shot glass, remembering Jesus and the sacrifice He gave for us. It was truly one of the most real "church gatherings" I have ever been a part of. I definitely missed the other 120 people, though - the entire body. There is something to be said about a mass of people gathering to use their gifts and talents to build one another up, all to bring Jesus glory. I decided I would walk to be with church community again, even if it meant through the snow. I decided it was well worth it.

It hit me later that we have a few people who walk to be a part of our church service on any given Sunday morning. These few walk a lot further than I did today, and they usually have each slept in a much less comfortable place than I do.

I am honored to be part of this church community.

 

 

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