The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What kids and clean rooms and prayer and grace have in common

Grab a cup of tea and join me for some thoughts.

Parenting is not easy.

Now that I have a grandchild, I remember how wonderful the kisses, the smiles, the hugs, the arms reaching for me were.  Sometimes I actually long for those days again.

The great thing about our memories is that we tend to forget the hard of parenting, but one thing I do remember is a question that went through my mind often and that was, "What am I doing or not doing that will ruin my child for life?"

Her 7th birthday
I actually thought that my parenting could result in them being happy or unhappy, successful or unsuccessful, a good citizen or a criminal, a good parent or a bad parent. I felt responsible for what they would be as adults.

I remember one particular day when my daughter, a first or second grader, was at school.  Getting her to keep her room clean was a huge struggle but when I really became firm, she would go to her room and it would look much better in a short time. I thought she was being obedient and I was a good parent.

I have to admit here that I was not a great housekeeper but I certainly wanted my kids to do better than I did.

This particular day, I went into her room and decided I would begin to do a deep cleaning.  I remember going into her room and thinking what a good job she was doing..  After straightening her quilt I noticed something sticking out from under the bed.  Upon further inspection of that hidden cavity I realized there were bags of "stuff" including food, paper, clothes, dishes, silverware, towels, toys... you name it and it was there.  Opening her closet door I found that it was also stuffed as high as she could reach.

I felt like a failure.  Furious and terribly disappointed with her, I berated myself for not being a good parent.  I hadn't really taught her how to clean her room. I waited for her to get home from school.

I'm sure there were harsh words on my part and tears on hers, but over the next few days when she was home, we went through
Lighthouse on Grand Turk
all of that "stuff," working together to put each thing in its proper place, much of it the garbage.  Much to my surprise, we found items from the kitchen, tool drawer and bathroom that I had been missing for months.

Was that the end of it?  No, she struggled with "stuff" throughout grade school and I know there were more harsh words and discipline, mostly ineffective in the moment.

The end of the story?  By high school, she was the one who cleaned the house since I was too busy and the truth is, she really was good at it.  Today, her house is clean, organized and she finds it less difficult to throw away "stuff" than I do.

Hindsight always sees things from a better perspective but if I could do it over, I wish I had known a few things...

---God was and is doing His work in my children to work out His purpose and it will be His will that is done. (I knew it, but my actions didn't demonstrate the truth of it.)
---my praying for my child does more than all the talking, teaching, persuading and convincing could ever do. (I'm learning that now in their adult years.  I just watch, pray, and then watch what God does.)
---understanding His grace and love is the most important thing in all of our lives. Children learn about that as they watch us depend on His grace and love in our own life.

I love this quote.

“Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes I think we work so hard at making sure our children are successful in everything that they do, we actually teach them to be self sufficient not needing God.

I keep reading about how narcissistic children and young people are today.  Oh that we might teach them how much they need a Savior, how hopeless they are without God.  If kids don't learn that when they are young, God will use the circumstances of their lives to teach them their need, just like He teaches us.

For reflection:

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Pictures taken in the Caribbean

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Ft. Lauderdale sunrise in the port

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Off the coast of Grand Turk Island where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea run into each other.

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