8. Narrative of A Mother

Open Communication...

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,
but that which is good to the use of edifying,
that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Ephesians 4:29

It is a cold, hard fact that I have made an incredible amount of mistakes with my children. Because of that, I find it remarkable to realize they do not seem bitter in the least. Why don't they hold grudges when I obviously mistreated them many times over? I shake my head in amazement.

Here is where I find communication and forgiveness to be of utmost importance. I have frequently had to apologize for my unkind attitudes and angry words. They have graciously handed out unconditional forgiveness. They have come to me with their I-am-sorry as well; in fact, a few minutes ago Julian came to apologize for a bad attitude. Earlier, I had asked him to do something simple but inconvenient and his response was less than agreeable. I believe it is crucial to good relationships to humble ourselves and admit we are wrong.

No, I have not gone to them and apologized for every little mistake. But I am referring to an attitude of the heart that translates into actions and words. Do they see that I am trying to follow Christ? Do they know that my heart is full of love toward them despite the failings? A solid foundation of acceptance and love builds security and peace in our children.

* * * * *

We all know the heart-warming amusement to be found in a child's viewpoint. Getting a glimpse of their thought process is entertaining as well as educational. From their remarks it is possible to gather clues on how best to nurture their hearts and minds. Over the years, I've documented some of their remarks and still find them fascinating and funny.

When our children were five and seven years old, we got into a discussion about spirits. I am guessing they had heard comments on the subject through messages at church or conversations at home. One evening we gathered round to talk it over...

Dale had a long conversation with the children about all kinds of questions that they asked about God, angels, and Satan, etc... They talked about spirits coming to us and leaving. Jacki asked how it could leave us. "Does it make a little hole and go out?" Dale says, "No, it can just go out and through the walls." Jacki convulsed into a giggling heap on the floor! Then she exclaimed that it would be difficult, very difficult,  for spirits to go through walls.  ~2004 Journal

On another occasion that began as a teaching moment but ended in laughter we were all out by our backyard swimming pool. It was a hot day and I was worried about the children overheating. I admonished them to drink plenty of water so they would not dehydrate. Some time later, I heard Julian say he drank water so he would not vibrate. Priceless!

* * * * *

My husband and I find it beneficial to engage our children in a wide variety of topics. We have generally included them in matters great and small. I have gathered that is not the case in many homes and have battled with whether we are right or wrong in our approach. I've concluded it may simply be one of those issues that is dependent on each individual or family.

Including our children in (age-appropriate) discussions on family, church, community, and world events, builds trust and freedom between us. From that basis, open communication is encouraged in very young children. This, in turn, promotes enduring relationships into the teen years and beyond.

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad."
Proverbs 12:25

We are a family who love to laugh together. I believe humor holds medicinal value when all manner of afflictions arise. My husband has been the major influence in bringing hilarity into our home. I am a lets-be-practical type who tends to push for a no nonsense attitude toward life. Thankfully, God gave me a spouse who lightens me up on a regular basis.

Because of Dale, I am more free to laugh at myself instead of getting defensive and embarrassed when I'm the brunt of some joke. As you can imagine, this was a lesson our children also needed to learn. They are entertained by their father's antics and even join him in it. One important distinction must be pointed out. Is it in good fun all around or it is at the expense of the other person? The former is positive entertainment, the latter is wrong and harmful.

* * * * *

We have learned to share our struggles with each other and pray together about them. It can be painful and discouraging to face our problems and open up to our loved ones when the burdens get too heavy to bear. But we have found healing in humbling ourselves and honestly admitting our needs. As we have been given grace, so we will extend it to others. I believe sharing the load begins at home; from there it can be effectively applied in a broader sense.

"Share each other's burdens,
and in this way obey the law of Christ.
If you think you're too important to help someone,
you are only fooling yourself.
You are not that important."
Galatians 6:2,3

As a family, we have faced tremendous pressures, low valleys of failure and despair, intense friction between parents and children, and obstacles much too large to scale in our own strength. Each trial has had the potential to tear us apart. Where can we go for relief from the heavy burdens? As I have already mentioned, we find our solutions in a Person, Jesus Christ, who loves us and gave His life to set us free from sin and self.

I believe we learn obedience and humility through the things we suffer and the failures we make. We are forced to realize that without the power of the Holy Spirit we can do nothing to save ourselves. The Lord alone is our hope and peace and salvation. What a glorious hope He is for us! Through Him we shall triumph, if we continue in faith to the end of our days.

* * * * *

One way to spend intentional time together is by incorporating travel into the routine of our lives. It can be a journey of a few hours, a weekend, or several weeks. To some it may seem a waste of money but for us, the pros have far-outweighed the cons. 

Starting when the children were in public school, on to charter school, then homeschool and beyond, I sought to introduce our children to a wide variety of experiences. I wanted them to learn of life beyond the tight boundaries of our own little sphere, to figure out how to socialize with their peers as well as those in authority over them, and to develop a love of learning that would last for a lifetime. 

Whether it was a school field trip, a church event, a trip to the local library, an evening at a bookstore, several hours with our homeschool group, a weekend outing, or a family journey of a few weeks duration, we have found delight in travel. A family trip provides an excellent opportunity for extensive conversation, has proven a useful tool for growth, a breath of fresh air, and a broadening of our horizons.

* * * * *

We are still learning how to overcome difficulties, how to live in the grace of God each day, how to shine as lights in this ever-darkening world, and how to bring honor and glory to the Lord of all Lords. Through His power at work in us, we will not give up, we will march forward in faith, we will triumph over every tactic of the enemy of our souls. 

I trust in my Father to teach us how to be a family that follows and fulfills His plan. I am committed to this calling of motherhood for the rest of my life. I am humbled and grateful to have been given this wonderful opportunity to work for the Kingdom of Heaven right from my own home. 

Take a dose of discipline, add a dash of shared amusement, pour in gallons of love, mercy, and forgiveness, mix it all together, and it may bear some resemblance to our home. We have not yet attained all we are striving for but we press on to perfection through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The End