Lavish Grace

My husband writes excellent posts. I find him incredibly profound, and yet somehow easy to read and simple to understand. I am very fond of my head. 😀

He recently has written up a few posts expounding on principles that Mr. Wilson spoke on at a conference we attended in April. One of them discussed the emphasis on grace that we need to have with our children, just as God has with us (His children). Steven and I have constantly gone back to this theme of grace, grace, grace ever since the conference, and I feel like it is changing not only my parenting, but also many of my relationships in general (I posted this last fall, which is another great reminder of grace spilled into relationships). It is beautiful. It is freeing. It is powerful.

In this post Steven wrote emphasizing grace in parenting, he talks about how God lavishly dumps heaps of grace upon our heads, and how we need to imitate that by lavishly dumping it upon our children as well: “We should overflowingly spill grace to our kids.

Steven and I have discussed, on occasion, different ways that we spill grace to our Gabriel (and to our other babies too). Diligent, consistent training & discipline is one way we spill grace (one of our imitations of God). Teaching & indulging curiosity about God’s created world. Reading extra books at bedtime. Having a cookie picnic on the kitchen floor just for fun. Laughing over spilled milk instead of crying. Allowing jolly messes to be made (I’m thinking blanket forts, fingerpainting, and trucks in the mud) and joyfully cleaning them up. Adding bubbles to the bath. Not exasperating. Playing silly games over and over and over. Showing them how to use the vacuum. Teaching how bread is made, how to chop onions, how to pour lemonade. Taking them places, even if it’s just to the bank. Jumping in mud puddles, and following it up with a lesson on laundry while drinking hot cocoa. Singing, praying, going to church together. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper together.
This list could be endless, and I could go on & on — which just reiterates the point that we have endless opportunities to overflowingly spill grace to our kids. Especially because, as Steven says, faithful discipling & disciplining of our children is the first & foremost way of spilling grace upon them — and we all know that there are countless times in every day where we are able to spill that particular grace! 🙂

But what I really wanted to share here was a simple yet profound statement my husband said to me when we discussed this a few days ago:

  • Showing grace to our children isn’t just entering into their world — it is that, but it is only partly that. It is also allowing them to enter ours.

Isn’t that profound? And isn’t that excellent? How God-like!! Just as He enters our world, He allows us to enter His as well. In part now, and in fullness yet to come.
All honor, laud, and glory be to Him.

Saturday April 24, 2010

Steven and I were very blessed to attend a conference at one of our sister churches, about raising our children to face the future, full of faith and unafraid. The speakers were Doug and Nancy Wilson. The sessions were incredibly encouraging and convicting. What a blessing!! Lots of talking about loving our children, educating them, and disciplining them rightly. It was so excellent.
I’ve typed out some of my bullet-point notes, and hope you may glean some blessings from these as well. I may elaborate more on a couple of these points in the near future. Although, really, you should just order the cds of the conference to get the full measure of blessing. 🙂

  • The promises of God for the Kingdom are fulfilled over the course of generations, but more to the point, they are fulfilled by generations.
  • Proper eschatology gives us an arc of time, so we know where we are and where we are going. Since God’s promises are fulfilled over time, Christian child-rearing and education are intimately related to eschatology.
  • God is the Master Storyteller.
  • Comedies tend to culminate in a wedding — so does the Bible.
  • Covenantal mercy (i.e. in Psalm 103) is not a reward for being a perfect parent.
  • These promises are given to us by grace.
  • Generational connectedness = history.
  • You are  bringing up eternal beings.
  • Repetition in parenting does not mean you’re failing! God repeats Himself all the time! (Have you ever read Proverbs?)
  • In contrast to our feeble existence, the mercy of the Lord is not feeble. (Psalm 103:13-17)
  • Child rearing is generational training.
  • Things we do now matter forever.
  • God set eternity in our hearts; we are supposed to get the big picture.
  • One of the ways God grows us up into maturity is having us raise others up into maturity.
  • Are you training your progeny to be leaders or followers?
  • You want loyalty from your kids, not cookie cutter response.
  • The Law doesn’t grow you into maturity (alone) — grace does.
  • Respond to your kids the way God responds to you.
  • Over time sin matures; obedience matures; righteousness matures.
  • Young children thrive in an environment of strict, loving, predictable, and enforced discipline.
  • The only way your covenantal influence will extend over generations is if your biblical standards are internalized.
  • You don’t just want your kids to follow the standard, you want your kids to understand and love the standard.

  • All your parental efforts must themselves be ground in God’s grace, appropriated through faith.
  • You can extend grace to your children because you are a non-stop recipient of it (Eph 2:8-9).
  • If you don’t have a solid grasp of God’s sovereignty, you will parent in fear.
  • Godly Christian parenting looks an awful lot like hard work. But take into account God‘s strength and His enabling grace.
  • Grace accumulates, grace multiplies, grace grows richer & deeper.
  • It is grace to grow accustomed to grace.
  • The Scriptures are all of grace. The world around us is all grace. The breath in your lungs is grace, and the warmth of your feet right now is grace. The children around your table are grace. Receive them as grace, and give to them as grace.
  • Faith the size of a mustard seed in the right object (God) is enough — enormous faith in the wrong object (anything else), however, will not get you anywhere but disaster.
  • When your faith is weak, don’t take it out and look at it — it will grow weaker. Look to Christ. Look outside yourself and your circumstances.
  • Pray with big faith in your big God; don’t use escape hatches in your prayers (i.e. “if it be Your will.”) This is not praying with big enough faith. Ask big of Him.
  • When you’re motivated to discipline, you aren’t qualified; and when you’re qualified, you frequently aren’t motivated.
  • Motivation to discipline must come from another source than annoyance (i.e. your own obedience to God’s commands, and an overwhelming love for your children).
  • Grace is an everlasting waterfall with no top, no bottom, no sides, no front, and no back.
  • What is the thing that makes life hard? A misunderstanding of grace.

  • Psalm 127’s reference to children as arrows is not cutesy — it shows us that children are weapons. They go with us against the gates of Hell.
  • You want to bring up children who will stand with you in the gate.
  • Having more weapons (children) is not the point — having excellent weapons is.
  • Academic work is preparation for life, and preparation for life is a character issue.
  • The most difficult sins to see are the ones you thought were your virtues.
  • You need to raise kids with three qualities in mind: Loyalty, Courage, and Content.
  • Hard teaching produces soft hearts; soft teaching produces hard hearts.
  • School is boot camp — not the war.
  • You must shape and steer your child’s soul and spirit, not break it.
  • Love your children to pieces — this secures their loyalty.
  • Put them in situations where they can fail — and teach them what to do when they fail, how to get back up.
  • Courage is secured by sending your kids out.
  • Courage is not a separate virtue, but the testing point of all the virtues.
  • One of the principal glories of education is learning how to throw down with biblical standards and in biblical ways.

  • Mothers must put on honor, strength, integrity, and courage in order to smile at the future. (Proverbs 31:25)
  • Worry is not limited to motherhood. As women, it is our tendency. We must have faith instead of fear.
  • God suits our afflictions to the needs of our souls.
  • God is going to give us tests over the material He is teaching us. But His tests are all open book!
  • God loves to bless us in our children and grandchildren. (Psalm 112:1-2)
  • We give our children to God even before they are conceived, and we continue to give them to God.
  • Our children are to grow up knowing who they are. Not only blood family, but church community. Who are their people?
  • As far as your earthly ministry goes with your husband, your central and first priority is always your kids.
  • Emphasize to your children that they come first (not before the marriage relationship, but before other relationships, before the laundry, before your hobbies, before your perfect house, before your perfect schedule). Let them know they are your priority.
  • We are raising up the next generation, and that is so much bigger than we can see.
  • We must view our home as an oasis for our husband and children. It must have an aroma of grace and fresh bread.
  • We want our children to grow up in a place that is friendly to them.
  • A worrisome mother will either become repellent to her children, or just plain ruin them.
  • Be mindful not to instill fearfulness into others. Encourage instead.
  • Doubts and fears don’t have answers.
  • Learn to distinguish between the voices of the Devil and the Holy Spirit.
  • Get to know your vulnerabilities so you can control them.
  • Pray preventatively. Strengthen the walls that are weak in your city.
  • Dress yourself in submission to God and to your husband.
  • Do not engage fear. Ignore it. Don’t let it in when it comes knocking — it’s hard to evict once you let it in.
  • God never gives us commands without the means to do them.
  • Leave your children an inheritance of joy: memories, stories, integrity, Sabbath tables, laughter, forgiveness, humility, grace, etc.

  • The duties of a godly parent are profound and challenging.
  • Parenting is completely dependent on the grace of God (like everything else).
  • Parents should love mercy.
  • Mercy is principled, tough, courageous; not lazy, slack, or relative. Mercy is mercy!
  • You can correct your kid because you love him too much to let him grow up that way (the right reason), or you can correct your kid because you’re annoyed and have a headache (the wrong reason).
  • When we stumble or offend little ones, we are refusing to let mercy triumph over judgment. (James 2:13)
  • Faithful parents = full of faith parents.
  • Christ is the fulfillment of all the promises in the Bible. His coming fulfilled God’s faithfulness to generations.
  • Promises to parents are based on the unchanging character of God.
  • Psalm 102:25-27 doesn’t tell us what God can do, but what He will do. This is based squarely on His unchanging character.
  • Parents should always desire to be like God in their relationship to their children. But when we think to apply this, we gravitate to what we think God is like instead of what God reveals Himself to be like.
  • Keep life simple. Keep the rules simple and easy to memorize.
  • Don’t multiply opportunities for disobedience.
  • Reduce the number of commands you issue by about 90%, and then enforce all those commands. Don’t exasperate your children. Remember their frame.
  • A parent who disciplines effectively is refusing to allow his child to make himself unlovely.
  • Discipline is corrective, and it is applied for the sake of the one receiving it. It is not punitive, and it is not rendered for the sake of the one giving it.
  • Discipline, rightly understood, is not an exception to the rule of delighting in your children, it is a principal expression of it.
  • All who love, discipline (Proverbs 13:24). But it does not follow from this that all who discipline, love. A child must grow up in, be surrounded by, and be nourished in, the love of God revealed for His people in the Word Incarnate and the Word revealed. This is the context in which godly child-rearing occurs, and outside of which it cannot occur.

Thursday March 18, 2010

March 18th was the due date for my first baby, Covenant Hope. Two years ago. Two whole years ago. Anyway, this is the third time I have come upon her due date, and the first one where I didn’t wake up in tears about it. I don’t know if I like that or not, it’s just simply a fact.

But at this moment, I am celebrating life. There is a little boy in the other room, not anxious to get out of his crib in the morning. He loves to spend forever playing with his fuzzy white bear, little moo-cow, and music box blue elephant — in his crib. No matter if he needs a diaper change or not. He loves to play and jibber-jabber in there and move aside the blinds to look out the window near his crib so he can watch trucks going by. (He doesn’t know it’s trash day, but he will be loving that in about two hours!!)

This is life. This is a miracle-boy whose life goes against the odds. This is my son whose very existence is God-breathed, continuously. This is the baby who only exists because his big sister left the earth far too early.

So yes, I miss Covenant. I miss having a March baby. I miss the things I would’ve, could’ve done with her.

But I never take for granted the fact that Gabriel is here, really, because she isn’t.
And because, obviously, our God is good.

So in honor of Covenant, and celebrating her little brother’s life today, I am sharing a few of our favorite things in the world of parenthood. Enjoy.

These are a Few of Our Favorite Things

People have not infrequently asked me what some of my favorite things have been that I’ve used with my baby over the last two years. So I compiled a list (complete with links) for your perusal. These are things that I highly recommend. They’ve got the redhead stamp of approval, lol. : ) These make great things for baby shower requests/registries, and Christmas/birthday lists as well—for you or your baby.

Blankies!!—Made by Grandmama, about ¼ the size of most fuzzy blankets you’d have a kid sleep with, trimmed with satin edging. We’ve got four of them: one in the car, one in the diaper bag, one in the crib, one in Gabriel’s hand (however, occasionally, one or more is in the hamper!).

Pediped shoes—We’ve had lots of these as Gabriel has grown, and they have proven to be not only super adorable but super durable. Now his cousin wears the hand-me-downs, and maybe someday a little brother will wear them. Because, yes, they are that durable.

Stonz boots—Just so clever, so convenient, so mommy-friendly. Especially if you need to quickly run from muddy outside to the potty, they come off super fast thanks to the handy toggles. We have loved these in snow, rain, mud, even just dust.

Prorap diaper covers—These are a blessing. No leaks, no blow-outs, easy to use, easy to wash, they work like brand-new even after months of usage. Excellent diapers, especially since they are excellent on the budget!

Calmoseptine—The best diaper rash cure I’ve found. And trust me, my kid teeths practically nonstop, and whenever he’s teething, we need diaper rash help.

PlanToys toys—Moms love durability and safety, kids love fun! These guys have got everyone pleased.

Sandra Boynton board books—Our little library has quite a few of these, and they always seem to be the biggest hit. We’re now starting to share the Boynton-love with our niece & nephews!

Bumbo seat—Gabriel started using this when he was 3 or 4 months old, and it became a lifesaver for both dvd time and food time (when he was 9 months). It really helped him develop his neck and tummy muscles when he was young. It works as a great booster seat at home and as a take-with-you highchair substitute. Our almost-two-year-old is average size for his age, and I don’t see him outgrowing this thing yet!

Babyhawk mei tai—Quite possibly my all-time favorite baby carrier. It just seems the most beautiful (lovely fabrics to choose from), versatile (front, back, or hip carry), and user-friendly (two simple knots and you’re done). Ours is reversible, with stripes on one side (hubby loves that) and flowers on the other. It can be used from newborn (I didn’t get it until my baby was about three months old but I’ve got friends who’ve used them from day one) all the way up through toddler. I still use it on my 27 pound little boy, and he loves riding around on my back.

Ellaroo wrap—I started out with a stretchy jersey knit wrap, and although I liked it for about a month, I didn’t like it once my baby started to gain weight. So I found a substitute, this wonderful handwoven linen wrap that won’t stretch out during a day of babywearing. This is the carrier that best aided sleeping for my baby (which was helpful because he wanted to be held 24/7 as a small baby, and this allowed me to hold him while cooking, cleaning, exercising, etc). He loved to nap in this wrap! He felt secure and safe, and the linen kept him cool enough he didn’t sweat a lot, even when we were traipsing around Barcelona. Plus, it’s beautiful, and can make a lovely accessory, especially if you’re running errands and taking baby in & out a lot.

Britax carseat—Safety is important, especially when strapping your kid into the car. Side impact protection is a huge factor, and Britax has found a solution. These seats are big and sturdy, and will last a kid for years. It’s a great investment. They are cute, comfortable, easy to use, and it fits great even in our small sedan as a rear-facing seat.

Beaba Babycook baby food maker—There’s nothing like homemade food. We all know it. So why would you give your baby canned food when it’s not what you’d want to eat for dinner? Well, usually the reason is because it takes too much time or is too complicated to make your own baby food. Hah! Not anymore. When Gabriel was first eating solids, I made him delicious fresh purees. Some I made fresh every day (fruits), and others I made in batches (veggies and meat) every week or two, and froze them in ice cube trays. Nothing could possibly be more healthy & handy. And this baby food maker makes it a cinch. Now I still use it to steam veggies and make occasional purees! I even use it to make smoothies for myself. : )

Gymboree’s clearance rack at the mall—Style and fashion. There you have it. : ) But the clearance rack is what helps out the pocketbook. Looking ahead toward the long-term, shopping for clothes at WalMart does not pay off in my book. I like to buy well made clothing that will last through my kids as well as my brother’s kids (since we share stuff). The Gymboree clothing (which is probably 75% of Gabriel’s wardrobe) that I am getting back from my sister-in-law as my nephew outgrows it, looks practically as good after two boys’ usage as it did when I took off the tags. What a blessing! Because, let’s be honest: who has time to mend baby clothes, and who wants to be wasting money to buy a new wardrobe for every baby?!

Saturday October 31, 2009

God, oh God, be merciful.

Be gentle and be kind.

Our flesh has grown so weak

And now we feel quite left behind.


You gave to us the desire

To have children and yet

You take them all so early;

We feel, it seems that You forget


That You were the One

Who called upon us to be

Fruitful on earth and multiplied

And a faithful family.


Our minds can not fathom

The streets of pearls and gold

While our arms sit here empty

Without our children to hold.


We ask and we pray

And we seek; shall we find?

Our hope and our faith

And our strength are all declined.


As we taste this bitter fruit

We feel alone in so much pain;

We long to feel Your comfort

And Your face shine once again.


Please guide and lead and strengthen

So that we may learn to be

A true and noble witness

To the Church and world of Thee.


Give peace beyond our knowledge

And return to us our joy

Please take this cup of sorrow,

Our doubts and fear destroy.


We thank You for the honor

Of producing babes for You

Who will ever live in Glory

Singing, dancing, honoring too—


But we beg of You, our Father,

And beseech Your holy name,

To please fill our home with children—

Your faithfulness to proclaim.


Astound us with Your mercy,

Bowl us over with Your grace,

Behind this frowning providence,

Please show Your smiling face.


Return to us sevenfold

For our sorrows and our grief,

Restore us to our kindred,

Recover hopeful belief.


We know that You are worthy

Of our sacrifice and praise.

We do desire to worship, love,

Serve, honor You all our days.


But we ask You as Your children

For bread and not a stone.

We trust You in Your sovereignty

To provide as You can alone.


Lead us and guide us,

For our footsteps make a way;

Mold us and shape us,

More like Christ a bit each day.


And while we learn to wait

And tread right through the fire

Please be our daily sustenance

And help our souls not to expire.


We long to be restored

To the joy of Thy salvation

And to once again pursue

Producing a covenant nation.


For of us, Your people, You demand

Faithful, pure diligence

To be fruitful, multiply, and subdue

On the earth in Your presence.


Provide for us, dear Father,

So that we may faithful be,

Be strong now in our weakness

And cause us not to flee


Thy presence, in our anguish

In our fear, and in our cries.

Purge our sorrow, refresh our spirits,

Wipe each teardrop from our eyes.

~by MJC~