Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Kids Won't Confuse God and Santa? Will They? - Reason #2 Why We Don't Do Santa

Reason #2 Why We Don't Do Santa: 
Can I tell my children about one benevolent, gift-giving, invisible man that is a lie, then expect them to believe me when I tell them about another?
"Little Timmy, there is a man, he is compassionate and kind. He loves to give children good gifts. He is the center of Christmas. He lives in the north pole. He can only be seen one day a year when he comes to give gifts. Although you may never see him, there have been witnesses. Just believe and he will also come and give you gifts! His name is Santa!"
"Little Timmy, there is a man, He is compassionate and kind. He loves to give the free gift of eternal life. He is the reason for Christmas. He lives in Heaven with His Father. He has been seen on earth when He came as a man 2000 years ago. Although you many never see him, there have been witnesses to His life and death. Repent of your sins and trust in His perfect sacrificial life and He will come live in you and give you the best and truly everlasting gift! His name is Jesus Christ!"
Then one day, inevitably, Little Timmy will ask the dreaded question, "Mom, Dad, is Santa real?"
When we tell our kids the truth about Santa, they may feel lied to, they may feel like it is just the end to a fun game, but either way we will have to earn the trust back that it will take them to believe us about the real gift-giver, Jesus.
Here is my Santa vs. Jesus post from last year:
"I often need proding from my Father to serve others. I am often ashamed of my begrudging attitude towards helping others when God reveals later that through serving He is meeting my needs! How is it that God knows our every need? How is it that He blesses us regardless of our behavior? How is it that He doesn't withold His love and compassion when I don't deserve it?

That is what makes God different than Santa Claus. Santa says that "he's making a list and checking it twice, he's gonna find out who's naughty and be good for goodness sake." God says He has already found out who is naughty (all have sinned Romans 3:23) and nice (none are righteous Romans 3:10). Santa says we MUST be good. God says we cannot be good. Blessings from Santa come from working hard to be good. Blessings from God come from no work we can do on our own (Titus 3:5). Santa requires. God gives freely (Romans 6:23). God knew there was no way to do enough good to earn His favor. God knew that every lie, every lust, every selfish thought, every crime we commited would require a payment that couldn't be paid by receiving coal. God knew that we couldn't be good, but He planned to give us a gift anyway. He sent His perfect Son to pay the price of our crimes, to die in our place so that we can live eternally in heaven with our giving Father (John 3:16).

Our family doesn't celebrate Santa, it is too hard to earn his favor. Our family celebrates Jesus this season, one who earned the favor of God in a way we never could, and allows God's blessings to flow regardless of our behavior. St. Nicholas knew this as he served this Jesus, leading him to sell all he owned so that the poor and needy would receive a gift on Christmas, just as he did 2000 years ago. The true gift, the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ." Posted on the blog 12/24/12
Even more importantly, with kids coming from hard places, if you lie about anything, watch out. They don't trust you about anything in the first place!

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lying in the Name of Fun is Okay? Right? - Reason #1 Why We Don't Do Santa

Reason #1 Why We Don't Do Santa:
Our family has, personally, chosen not to lie to our kids about ANYTHING! EVER!

We don't lie to them about where they came from with fun stork stories. We don't lie to them by hiding the miracle workings of their reproductive systems yet teach them about all the other bodily systems. We don't lie to them about a rich, little tooth-collecting fairy that brings money for their teeth. We don't lie to them about an enormous rabbit that drops off a free gift chocolate and toys first thing Easter morning to steal the light and glory from the one who died for the sins of the world, was resurrected and gave the true gift of eternal life.

And we don't lie about good ol' Santa Claus who makes Christmas revolve around him. 

We do spend some time each December researching and learning about the work and devotion to Jesus of the real man, St. Nicholas. We also teach our kids to honor others and to not "ruin" the fun that their parents have lied so hard to set up. Our kids love Christmas, it is a magical time of year. A worship-filled time of year. A time we remember the humble beginnings of our serving Savior and remember the gift that He gave His life for us to receive. I agree and wanted to share a blog post that I enjoyed.

The following is taken from The Matt Walsh Blog:
"Santa Claus.

He is a legend, a myth, a fable.

I hope this isn’t breaking news.

Now, when a myth is passed off as fact, it becomes something else: a lie. In many households, Santa is a lie. He’s fun, he’s jolly, he owns gravity-defying reindeer and enslaves thousands of tiny elves in his icy dungeon; he’s overweight (probably because he eats billions of cookies every Christmas), and he isn’t familiar with laws against trespassing and home invasion. He’s also a lie.

He isn’t just a “story.” Stories — fictional stories — have an ending. They are contained in books and television shows and movies. We do not weave an elaborate web of deceit to convince our children that Snow White really exists, or that Mickey is an accurate portrayal of how mice really behave. If they ask us about the geographical location of Neverland, we’ll tell them Neverland is just imaginary.

We like for our kids to have imaginations, but Santa has nothing to do with imagination. When you imagine, you conceive a thing that isn’t. With Santa, a child is simply duped into believing a thing that isn’t. Santa is a mythology that we force feed down their throats, and then go to great lengths to preserve. Again, it’s called “lying,” not “imagination building.”

Lie: a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

He’s an entertaining, fanciful, merry ol’ lie — but he’s a lie all the same.

I’m often informed that Santa isn’t a “lie,” per se, because he’s “just for fun.”

Well, he might be, but the opposite of “lie” isn’t fun — it’s “truth.”

Is Santa true? No. Do you know he isn’t true? Yes. So what do you call it when you attempt to convince someone of an untruth? Fun? OK, but it’s a fun… what? A fun lie.

Look, my own mom and dad “did the Santa thing.” They’re great parents and fantastic people, so I’m not making any judgments about parents who “do Santa.” You could be perfectly wonderful, loving, and caring, and still participate in this holiday fraud.

But I think it might be time to reconsider the practice.

Yes, it’s a longstanding tradition, but not all traditions are worth continuing. Take, for example, Santa’s evil cousin: the Bogeyman. In many cultures, parents used to tell their kids that the Bogeyman would come to their room at night and eat them alive if they didn’t behave. Depending on the country, sometimes he would kidnap you and make you his slave, and other times he would just cannibalize you upfront. There have been many variations — and, hey, do your own thing with it, have fun — but they all shared the common “do what I say or a mythical beast will brutalize you in unspeakable ways” message.

There’s a lot that past generations got right about parenting. This isn’t one of them.

Certainly, Santa Claus is far more pleasant than the Bogeyman, but I submit that they are both relics of a time when it was acceptable to coerce your children with mystical scare tactics.

Maybe we should move on.

I don’t intend to write a lengthy refutation of every pro-Santa argument; I’m already devoting enough space as it is to this gluttonous stalker. I’d like to specifically address only one point on the Santa platform. I hear it all the time, and it goes like this: Santa makes Christmas magical. If you take Santa away from your kid, you’ve taken all the fun out of the holiday.

Please, carry on with the Kris Kringle schtick for whatever reason you like, but not this one. Any reason but this reason. Santa makes Christmas magical? SANTA?

This is what I hate about the guy. He’s a Christmas-stealing glory hog. He’s a diva; everything has to be about him, doesn’t it?

We invite Santa to Jesus Christ’s birthday party, he brings his stupid elves and a bag full of cheap toys, next thing you know it’s his party. If he leaves, apparently the party’s over. How can we have fun without magic?

Well, you know, there’s still Jesus. The Messiah. The Son of Man. Jesus Christ is better than magical. He offers something far greater than toys. He doesn’t have flying deer, but he has armies of angels. He doesn’t live in a cabin up in the North Pole, but He does live in a dimension that transcends time and space, and He invites us to join Him there in unending bliss. He doesn’t visit every house on Christmas night, but He’s always present, everywhere, all the time, because He is an omniscient deity.

In other words, Jesus is WAY cooler than Santa. This is a message that is, I think, tragically lost on many children. Let’s be honest: Christmas ain’t big enough for the both of them. Santa, the fun fictional character? Sure. Santa, the silly game of make believe? Yeah, he can join the festivities without overshadowing the Man of the Hour. But Santa, the actual real person who gives out toys made by elves? THAT Santa, being a man of considerable girth, tends to crowd Jesus out of the hearts of many kids. Yeah, Jesus is the Messiah, but Santa has TOYS. Who comes out on top in that scenario when you’re 4 years old?

Some children are so full of natural grace that even a pudgy mystical gift giver can’t distract them from Jesus. But normal kids — kids that are closer to how I was as a child — will find their allegiances split. I can’t believe that I’m the first 5 year old who impatiently sat through church on Christmas Eve, ignoring all of the stuff about nativities and wise men; entirely engrossed in visions of reindeer, elves, Santa Claus, and Game Boys (it was the 90′s, kids).

Why do we need to spruce up the Birth of God by adding some nonsense about a fat guy in a red suit? God, the Ultimate Power in the universe, sent His Son to Earth. He was conceived inside a woman’s womb and was born into this world in the same manner that all humans are born. He walked among us, performed miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead. He was murdered and then came back from the grave, and He now sits on His throne, at the right hand of God the Father. On Christmas, we celebrate His arrival, and the beginning of the epic journey that ended with Christ’s triumph over sin and death. He watches over us at all hours, every day, all year, for our whole lives, and offers us healing, comfort, and salvation. His angelic armies protect us as they battle the forces of evil, and He wants us all to join in that fight; a fight that will be won, once and for all, at the End of Time, when He returns in glory.

Now, tell me how Santa makes THAT more magical?

Santa, the Christmas Lie, is but a whimper and a sigh in the light of Jesus, the Christmas Truth. He can’t bring anything to the table that Jesus hasn’t already provided.

So do Santa if you want to do Santa, but you don’t need him to make Christmas magical.

Christmas is already more than magical — it’s supernatural." --  The Matt Walsh Blog

Even more importantly, with kids coming from hard places, if you lie about anything, watch out. They don't trust you about anything in the first place!

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Psalm of Praise

This is a meditation of my heart that I have started and been adding to during this month of November. It is my reminder that the Lord is good and worthy of Thanksgiving in all things!

Thanksgiving Psalm of Praise 

Lord, I know You are good.
You give me a barrenness so empty  that I may know my abundant blessings come from You. *1
Lord, I know You are good.
You grant me tests so frequently*2 that I never cease in prayer to You. *3
Lord, I know You are good.
You allow me to endure times of waiting so long that only You can make my patience complete. *4
Lord I know You are good.

Lord, I know You are good.
You give me your Law so condemning that I may feel Your overwhelming mercy and grace. *5
Lord, I know You are good.
You grant me convictions so strong I must constantly dive deeper in Your Word. *6
Lord, I know You are good.
You allow me to go without material desires so that I may find my joy and contentment in You. *7
Lord I know You are good.

Lord, I know You are good.
You give me loss here on earth that I may look all the more forward to my inheritance in Heaven. *8
Lord, I know You are good.
You grant me sorrow so vast that I may never leave the loving arms of my Comforter. *9
Lord, I know You are good.
You allow me to stumble and sin so often that I may never forget Your sweet, undeserved forgiveness. *10
Lord, I know You are good.

Lord, I know You are good.
You give me trials so heavy I can never waver from full reliance on You. *11
Lord, I know You are good.
You grant me weaknesses so great that I am never without Your strength. *12
Lord, I know You are good.
You allow me hurt so deep I am never untouched by Your healing hand. *13
Lord, I know You are good.

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Scripture References:
1) Psalm 113:9, James 1:17, Rom. 15:13

2) Psalm 66:10, Prov. 17:3, Heb. 2:18, 1 Thes. 2:4

3) Col. 4:2, Rom. 12:12, Phil. 4:6, 1 Thes. 5:17, Eph. 6:18

4) Psalm 27:14, Rom. 5:3-5, Is. 40:31

5) Gal. 3:19-29, Rom. 3:19-20, Rom. 3:23-24, Eph. 2:8-9

6) John 16:8, Acts 17:11

7) Luke 12:15, Matt. 6:19-21, James 4:1-5, Luke 14:33, Heb. 13:5, 1 Tim. 6:6-8

8) 2 Cor. 4:16-18, 1 Pet. 1:3-5, Titus 3:7

9) 2 Cor. 7:10, Rom. 8:18, Rev. 21:4, John 15:26, 1 John 4:19, Psalm 34:17-19

10) 1 John 1:9, Rom. 8:1-2, Eph. 1:7, Dan. 9:9, 1 John 1:9

11) 1 Pet. 1:6-9, John 16:33, 1 Pet. 5:10, Rom. 5:3, Prov. 3:5-6, James 1:2-4

12) 1 Cor. 1:27, 2 Cor. 12:9, Psalm 29:11, Is. 12:2, Eph. 6:10, Heb. 4:15

13) Is. 45:7, Job 1:21, Psalm 107: 19-21, Psalm 30:2, Mark 5:34, 1 Pet. 2:24

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Question: "Thoughts / Advice on Escalated Stealing?"

A Glimpse into My First Experience

With a baby on my hip, another in the cart, my 8 year old with her arms crossed and pouting, and my 5 year old gleefully (an annoyingly) jumping all around me as I check out at the register I peer over my shoulder for my 9 year old boy. He gets up quickly from the candy shelf, they conveniently put at the check out of so many stores, "I was just looking." I smiled and we left. I survived another shopping trip. So I thought. "What are you eating?" I ask in the car as he moves something around in his mouth.

He was a master thief. Cunning, deceptive, straight-faced, the perfect con artist. I would actually be impressed by it if theft wasn't against the law. Even when he stole something right in front of me and I could say, "I saw you just take such and such, please put it back" he would be able to look me in the eye and deny it, even insist so persistently why he couldn't have possibly stolen it that I found myself wanting to believe him....that is, if I hadn't seen it happen. This same insistence of his innocence would make it all the more difficult when theft was assumed but not able to be proven.

This was the first trial that bombarded me during this intense journey down a very long, hard path labeled "habitual theft"!

Theft is an Outward Deed Pointing to an Internal Heart Issue

Habituated theft that becomes as easy as breathing and the manipulation that follows it to avoid consequences is common in children struggling with attachment issues or RAD.
Stealing: (The child will often show up at home with items that belong to others, with unusual or suspicious stories of how they came to obtain these particular items. School is a very common place to FIND these type of items and the parent and school must work closely to help get this problem under control.) from "The Little Prince-Surviving Life with Reactive Attachment Disorder" blog
Theft, Pointless Theft: Theft is chronic, brazen, cunning, and even nonsensical. A grade-schooler named Charles stole baking powder, something useless to him. They enjoy being sneaky.
Biblical Lens: Many desires motivate theft, including anger. Possession of a forbidden object gives a sense of power over the object and over those from whom it was stolen (Prov. 9:17; 20:17). This is true regarding possession of pets and, in adults, kidnapped people. from the book "Parenting the Difficult Child by Linda Rice"
The following is the teaching that has helped me most; it is from Parenting the Difficult Child by Linda Rice summarized:

 Fear Motivates Desire

When a child fears loss of something like security he also has a driving desire for security and probably other related objectives such as comfort, control, or possessions. In 1 Samuel, Saul's fear of losing his kingdom drove his desire to kill his faithful servant David. Fear of loss and desire for gain fit hand in hand. Since loss has produced a lack of trust in others then gain has to be self-obtained.


Self-sufficiency affirms selfishness. If the child doesn't depend on others, then neither should they expect anything from him. He is free from responsibility to love them. James speaks to the self-sufficiency of his readers when he says, "You lust and do not have; so you commit murder.... You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2). Rather than ask God to grant their desires, his readers determined to obtain what they wanted by their own means.

Hardened Conscience

Whether a conscience becomes calloused or good depends upon the direction to which it is trained. Those "trained in greed" (2 Peter 2:14) trained themselves to ignore or shut off the alarms of conscience when tempted with coveting. Training shapes the conscience.


Habituation explains how the lifestyle becomes more extreme and fixed. Through training, habituated thoughts and behaviors become second nature. Romans 7:14-23 teaches that the flesh habituated to evil does it automatically. Desires can also be habituated. Peter describes someone who had "a heart trained in greed" (2 Peter 2:14), which means a heart habituated to wanting more and more. Such a person does not think twice about wrongs that he does.


The fact that the child has a conscience means there is hope. Even a hardened Judas, calloused enough to betray Jesus, still sensed conviction for his betrayal (Matthew 27:3). The commands of Scripture offer hope. Since Colossians 3:12 commands the putting on of compassion, then that is something that can willfully be done. Re-habituation offers hope. Practicing right behaviors can increase sensitivity to moral rightness. Caution must be applied so that putting on good habits is not taught as behavior modification. That is, in addition to actions, habits of heart desires and thoughts are retrained (Hebrews 5:14) and then bear fruit in actions. God's glory is the goal!

Parenting When Behaviors Never Deserve Praise

A Parent's goal is to glorify God, not to get your child to behave.
God's sovereignty is the foundation of parenting and His glory its highest purpose.


Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a commission to a stewardship. Children belong to the Lord. He gives them temporarily to parents to train for His kingdom (Psalm 127:3). This stewardship is a great privilege. You and I, sinful people, are granted participation with God the perfect Creator in the wonderful work of shaping another little sinful person to love Him.


Very simply, we parents are responsible to love God and teach His Word diligently to our children (Deut. 6:7-9). We are responsible to train our children. We must command their obedience and discipline their disobedience (Proverbs 6:20; 13:24; 19:18; 23:13-14). We are responsible to "not provoke our children to anger" (Ephesians 6:4). "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). Parents are NOT responsible for a child's response. The Deuteronomy 6 commission says nothing about children's responses, only about parents' obedience.


Colossians 3:8-13 says to lay aside anger, malice, and the like. In their place, "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Compassion is an essential ingredient to mix into the parenting recipe. Compassion prevents a hardening of heart. Someone who approaches with humility, kindness, and patience is not provoking fear and anger (Ephesians 6:4), but is encouraging a sense of safety. Compassion encourages hope. Compassion is NOT permissiveness or blindness. It does not excuse or ignore sin, but truthfully identifies it for correction. Compassion drives discipline. Be immovable about consistent discipline because you love that child too much not to be. Develop compassion by watching Christ. Read the Gospels and watch Jesus teach the ignorant, reason with the stubborn, forgive the repentant, and warn the unrepentant.



Patience is important because the task that you will ask of your child is daunting. For the child to turn to God he must turn from the only thing he trusts--himself. He has to come out of hiding and abandon his refuge, the habits that make him feel safe. Self-preservation is hard to give up. Letting others be in control is frightening. The moment he tries, he feels vulnerable, confused, even terrified. The old ways entice him back because they are easier. Because changing habits is so difficult, you need to view change as a baby-step by baby-step process, strewn with failures.



Perseverance is needed when seeming failures and futility strike. You may do everything right, yet your child is implacable. What a challenge parenting is! No wonder God says, "You shall teach them diligently" (Deut. 6:7). God calls parents to persistence. Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." Perseverance requires self-discipline. Be consistent; be persistent. At times, you may think that you have no more love to give. Do not believe your feelings. Love is not a feeling, but an action; a matter not of having but of doing (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).



Willfully trust in God's sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness. The composition of your family is not an accident. This child is a gift from God for the spiritual welfare of the whole family, that you all might be drawn to Him. You trials also are a gift that God intends for your good (James 1:2-3). Godly hope pursues truth and compassion and trusts God with the results.

Practical Steps That Structured Our Home

I have sinned while parenting. I have wanted to give up. I have parented correctly with no behavior results. I have parented wrongfully with behavior results. I have been on a journey of being the parent God wants me to be and leaving the child's behavior in God's hands. I wish I had read, studied and applied the truths written above in the beginning of my journey. Oh, Linda Rice, why did you not write this book sooner! Buy the book here!

Our success in this area have come with VERY consistent structure. So consistent that the structure and diligence has been habituated in my parenting. Even when not needed providing boundaries and checking them comes as naturally as breathing. I have learned and had much practice in just simply and plainly calling out sin in truth and issuing an already established consequence. Instead of yelling and huffing and puffing about "did you steal this?", "how could you?", "I know you did, don't lie!", "why do you keep doing this?", I can calmly point out, "I found a stolen item, this item is evidence of theft." No argument needed. Consequences may change as the sin progresses but there is always a foreknowledge that a consequence will come if theft continues. Here are some consequences specifically for theft that we personally followed through on:

Pay Back Seven Fold

"Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry; But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house" (Proverbs 6:30-31). When one of our children stole a bag of chips from the teacher's lunchbag in her desk, that child was then responsible to save up money to buy her 7 bags of chips.

Provide No Excuse

The main thing our children took was food. Mostly from the cabinets at home, but sometimes at school and public stores. We wanted them to know that we understand their need to feel fed due to their past. Although food was not allowed in their rooms, a hungry child could always come to the dining table where two choices of healthy snack or crackers were kept for midnight cravings. At our house these snacks were NEVER eaten or even opened. However evidence was constantly found in the sweets cabinet. Sprinkles or reward M&Ms would be strewn all over the kitchen, all baking ingredients eventually went missing, new peanut butter jars continued to be empty, and any candy gone.


Desire Received

After MANY previous instances with one child they were told you will receive what you want if you would only ask. Often a child with attachment issues will REFUSE to verbally ask for help or request a want. The child will obtain what he wants by his own way. That child stole an entire bag of baking chocolate chips and ate a handful before evidence was found. It was explained that we would have loved to give that child what they wanted if only they would ask. Stealing is making your desire known. So instead of enjoying the nutritious meal we were eating for dinner this child was served their choice of food -- chocolate chips. Believe it or not the child never stole food again and began asking for a treat when they felt a craving for something sweet.


Protect Others' Belongings

We had a few stolen items (non-food) found and began doing pocket and backpack checks often throughout the day. Any items would be returned quickly before they were hidden in child's room. Eventually the pocket checks became burdensome and the child was told the next item found will result in loss of pocket privileges. Well, that item was a yo-yo I found in the dryer that was not bought or gifted to the child. That instance required no words, just scissors and all the pants in the child's closet. This did not cure the heart that wanted to steal but did provide me some temporary relief of pocket checks.
Eventually those pants were out-grown and larger-sized pants with pockets replaced. The child was warned if these new pockets were used for theft they would have the responsibility to sew every single pocket shut so I wouldn't have to cut them again (I felt really bad when donating the previous pocket-less pants and the unsuspecting new owners would be denied pocket privileges). Unfortunately it is hard to break old habits and when desire tempted theft won. That week was homeschool sewing class. All pockets were to be sewn up properly by Friday if child wanted to participate in Friday Family Movie Night. Pockets are a privilege.

Keep Honest Children Honest

Although we have alarms on our children's doors for different reasons (runaways, destruction of property overnight, preventing any sexual sin they may have been exposed to, etc.) they did come in handy in keeping honest kids honest. If you come out of your room at night just to pee, when I am awakened by the alarm and standing in the hallway to see you coming out of the bathroom, instead of snooping in the pantry, I can praise you for being honest. The alarms were not a discipline but a sin deterrent and a help to us parents to stay consistent in our re-training.

Oh, dear parent, my heart yearns to give you a one-size-fits-all fix. A bandage to take away all hurt, fear, and anger that grows fruit of theft, deceit, and manipulation. But there is hope! With Jesus there is always hope. You will not always handle to situation correctly, free from fleshly anger. You will sin as your child sins. But we find forgiveness, and because we are forgiven, we forgive. Dwell on the good, correct the bad, stay consistent, hold firm, persevere in love and have fun with them while they are still kids!

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

Thursday, November 7, 2013

So...Are You Moving or What?

Sell everything (All that won't fit in RV is sold, just a dining room table, tv, and bed to store)
Sell house (House is sold and closing is Dec. 6th)
Buy or rent small piece of land  (Our 7 acre property will be paid off by March 2014 or sooner)
Move into RV or small, low-rent house
Save up every dime of Brian's income for 2-3 years
Pay CASH for whatever house we want
Pray for a new plan (kids say adopt 20 more kids...hope that isn't God inspired)

Where are you going to live now!?!

We have been staying in our house as long as we could but our house is SOLD! And PRAISE THE LORD, the bank granted full forgiveness for our $70,000 deficiency. God is so good!

With a closing date (Dec. 6th) on the calendar this move is feeling real now! We are in a little bit of a bind figuring out how to navigate the county regulations and ordinances of our new property. Making sure we are keeping all we do on the property legal so it may be a couple more months before we can live there. God is sovereign over all and is always faithful to guide us. We have been so blessed by church family, friends and even strangers offering up their property and houses for us to stay at while we prepare our land to live on. Now with so many options, we just have to decide where to stay, what a good problem to have!

We really don't know what our next direction is but without any car or house payments it is looking like we will have a lot more time together to enjoy just being a family! Home is where your heart is, and we will be home in a tent, an RV, or a house!

Follow our move and debt-free plan from beginning:

May 24, 2013 Introduction to our Plan Move: The Next Great Leap
June 20, 2013 Brian's wisdom on Debt: Debt or Not to Debt?
August 3, 2013 An update to our Plan Move: Do you ever slow down!?!
August 16, 2013 Selling all our stuff and preparing: So Many Preparations! So Many Distractions!
August 26, 2013 Our need list to make our plan a reality: Are We There Yet!?!
September 8, 2013 Trials and blessings along the way: Story of Faithfulness in Very Difficult Times

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Love the Terrible-Twos!

When I started this journey into parenting I remember distinctly thinking that since I was being licensed to foster older children (up to 12 years old) there was no way I would get placed with infants or toddlers, plus everyone else wanted the younger ones. And that was perfect! Babies were too needy. Two year olds scared me. I wanted already potty-trained. But then came not one, but TWO needy infants, soon to be two scary, potty-training two-year-olds.


I do believe God blessed me with the exact children He wanted me to have. The exact children to establish, stretch and grow my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness gentleness and self-control. He didn't give me perfect, regenerate, naturally-obedient children. He gave me little sinners always in need of gentle correction or training and loving patience ("definition of patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset."). I always have to remind myself that it is only in the trials that I can practice patience (it does NOT come naturally), and oh boy, do they give me plenty of opportunity to practice!

I have realized that this parenting journey is primarily God working on ME! NOT God using me to work on my kids. Although He does use us parents, if I am worried only about letting God transform MY HEART more and more into the likeness of Christ then reaching my children's hearts comes naturally. If I am focused on obeying Jesus' commands in Scripture then teaching my children to obey comes naturally. If I am taking time daily to soak in the love and grace of Jesus then graciously loving my children flows naturally.

My two-year-olds are not terrible because of age, they are just little trouble-presenters to see if I am going to act terrible. They are my little patience-testers (again, patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset).

And God gave me TWO two-year-olds (plus 3 big kids)! He must have known I had very little patience to start with and wanted to grow it real quick with so many little patience testers constantly presenting trials. Remember, the definition of patience requires us only to not get angry or upset during troubles or suffering but Jesus in the book of James steps that goal up when He says,
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

My God wants me to be perfect and complete, lacking nothing! Doesn't that sound amazing!?! To be lacking nothing!?! To be perfect!?! But we have to count all our trials joy? And develop such a tremendous amount of patience to reach this goal? But my God, in His goodness, provided me a fast track to perfection. He provided me with two master patience-testers and five trial-presenters. All for me to have plenty of patience practice and much joy to count, so that one day I may be complete!

Trust Mommy, Trust Jesus

God is working on me ALL the time! Parenting is hard, but I have found out one thing, well-trained and trusting children produce much more joy in between the trials.

Here are the 5 most important things we trained our little ones up with:

1. Sleep training or as I call the "anywhere nap": Our little ones, since 10 months old could be laid down anywhere during naptime to sleep. I would tell them their current behavior, whining, being easily irritated, or clumsiness leading to falling, were symptoms of them being tired and lay them down. Cranky babies are good tools for patience practice, I just kept laying them back down. I didn't have a sleep routine, no I must be rocked, no I must have at least 3 stories, no you must sing me songs until I drift off. Remember, I had instant chaos, five kids, all ages, at once. I couldn't be everywhere at once and when my little ones were tired, they were T I R E D and cranky! They needed the remedy for crankiness, but didn't know what it was. Trust mommy, sleep is the remedy. Maybe one day, if you can learn to trust mommy, you can trust Jesus.

2. Blanket training or as I call "sit, stay, play": With so much going on and homeschooling the big kids it was often necessary to know where the little ones were and what they were doing. They couldn't be trusted to play quietly alone in their room, they would un-doubtedly be shoving beads up their nose or "washing" their hair with the toilet brush. I would put them on a blanket (for visual boundaries) or just ask them to stay sitting and give them toys to play with. This requires lots of reminders and some patience practicing during rebellion when they want to get up. But loving, consistent boundaries that cannot be crossed or changed create a child willing to just play with toys. Trust mommy, it is safest for you to play here next to me with no worry of getting in harm's way. Maybe one day, if you can learn to trust mommy, you can trust Jesus.

3. Hold or stay training or as I say "hold mommy's skirt", "hold the car", "hold the wall". When we are walking and I need to know where two little bodies are but need one or both hands free to carry groceries or what not, I will ask the twins to "hold mommy's skirt. If we are in a parking lot loading or unloading the car I will ask them to "hold the car" while they are waiting so they don't play or wander in front of a car. If checking out at a store and I need my hands to count money or sign something I will ask them to "hold the wall" so I know where they are. Another time I use this one a lot is in the bathroom, when I don't want them making a game of crawling on the floor or licking potties, I will ask them to "hold the wall" at the stall door. Trust mommy, to keep you away from danger you need to stay where I ask you. Maybe one day, if you can learn to trust mommy, you can trust Jesus.

4. Be kind to others training, believe it or not, the golden rule is not innate. Hitting, biting, yelling or taking is not tolerated. Period. If it is over an object (which it mostly is) I will explain that your brother or sister you just hit, bit, or yelled at is much more important than this object. If you cannot value them I will not allow you to value this. They can then choose to apologize to the victim of their outburst and share the object or mommy keeps it. A sorry and a hug are modeled. These are definite patience practice moments as they often involve two or more heated, angry parties. Trust mommy, relationships will always be more important than stuff. Maybe one day, if you can learn to trust mommy, you can trust Jesus.

5. Be sweet training, this is when that bad attitude creeps up and bites them leaving them with a fowl mood that is a temper tantrum waiting to happen. If a pouty lip or furrowed brow appears I will explain what I see, what I think that means they are feeling, and maybe even the reason they are feeling that way, if I know. For example, "you have a pouty face, you must be upset, maybe it is because your sister has a toy you want? It is okay to be upset, why don't you go to your room until you are ready to be sweet?" or "you look angry because mommy said no. Mommy gets angry too, please go sit in that spot until you are ready to be sweet." My little ones have never had a knock down, drag out, on the floor temper tantrum because I stop them at the first symptom. As a mom I often have to excuse myself to pray or get my act together before I deal harshly with my children. Even at two they are able to exercise that same self-control, sometimes they are even better at it! Trust mommy, God doesn't want us led by our emotions and tempted to hurt others. Maybe one day, if you can learn to trust mommy, you can trust Jesus.

All Children, Good or Bad, are Trained

I am told all the time how well-behaved and sweet my kids are. I am always being asked how I do it and have even been accused of having "robotic children". I am just a new mom, only two in mom years, and often find myself crying over daily failures and praying for strength for another day's trials. I am definitely not perfect and do not always practice patience as I should. But my kids are definitely not forced robots, they sin often, but they are being trained during trials to exercise self-control and peace as much as I am practicing putting on joy and patience. We are, together, exercising our trust daily!

God always knows what He is doing, when He gave me 3 older kids that were full of chaos, unruly, untrained, and habituated in sin He really showed me what the verse in proverbs means:
"Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6
This is not just a promise for the well-behaved child, this is a proverb, a statement that shows if you do or act this way then that way is the typical outcome. We were placed with 3 elementary age children that were trained up (all kids are trained whether you want to think yours are or not). They were trained in not being able to trust adults, especially parents, and to reject authority. They were trained to hit, bite, scream, pout, and rebel to get their way. They were trained to only obey if it was their idea to do it and they got a large reward. They were trained to lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, and blame to achieve their own selfish goals and desires. My older kids were habitually trained to get what they wanted first, to meet their own needs, regardless of any hurt caused around them and this was modeled also by the adults in their life. As proverbs points out once trained they are most likely not to stop that behavior into adulthood. Habits are hard to break! (Click here for previous post about my big kid's behavior struggles)

With lots of re-training needed, and still needed, I vowed to be proactive with my little ones. I wanted them to be habitually trained to think of others first, to seek after good instead of evil, to have confidence they can self-control their own bodies and to trust authority figures God has sovereignly placed in their life.

Again I am NOT perfect, but I trust Jesus and I want all my kids to one day, Lord-willing, also know that trust that lets us safely and comfortably live in the firm boundaries of our loving Father!

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Does the Bible Say About Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD?

I am eating up a book that our pastor gave to us to deal with some very difficult and painful behaviors we have been experiencing since our children came to us. It is Parenting the Difficult Child and offers a biblical perspective to Reactive Attachment Disorder. My children are not officially diagnosed with RAD but when I was desperate one night to figure out my children's behaviors I began googling them and found my behavior searches always led to websites about RAD. We see or have seen all these listed behaviors in some form or fashion in our home over the past two years. All my google searching led me to very hopeless lists of behaviors I would encounter and I couldn't find any Godly counsel on the subject anywhere. The author of the book I am reading, Linda Rice, is excellent at helping her readers understand the whole picture of why these hurting children now hurt others. This is the list of typical RAD behaviors and her addition of "looking at the behaviors through a biblical lens."

This is a list compiled from three different charts in the book (pg. 17-20, 24-28, 29-33): 

Typical RAD Characteristics:

 Sleep Problems
Sleepwalking, Nightmares or Night Terrors, Bedwetting, etc.

 Lack of Eye Contact
Eye contact is excellent only when the child is manipulating or is extremely angry. Otherwise, contact is avoided by averting or rolling the eyes, or by rapid blinking.
Biblical Lens: Averting the eyes can be a fear reaction (Exod. 3:6), a sign of guilt feelings (Ezra 9:6-7), a way to hide desires that the eyes might reveal (Prov. 6:13; 16:30), or a method of manipulation (Prov. 6:25). Perhaps there is an abiding shame from guilt over infractions never rectified. Eye contact communicates awareness of the other person, so lack of eye contact can be a method of alienation, revenge, hurting the other, or conveying disrespect (Ps. 27:9; Prov. 30:17; Isa. 1:15). 
Resists Affection on Parents' Terms
Affectionate touching and hugs are verbally and physically rejected. The child stiffens, pulls away, or turns the face away from a kiss on the cheek. Hugging a RAD baby can be like hugging a board. Gifts are often rejected. Praise and affection do not build reciprocity; he does not unconditionally give affection or gifts to family members.
Biblical Lens: Risk of pain from loss of relationship may be avoided by rejecting present relationships. Refusing to be affectionate can also be a method of revenge or a rejection of authority (Luke 15:28-30; Matt. 23:37; Luke 7:32)

Inappropriately Demanding and Clingy
Although he resists parental affection on the parents' terms, he will, in his own timing, initiate ultra cuddly-sweet, even desperate, hugs.
Biblical Lens: A child's rebellious behavior can induce guilt feelings or at least reap negative consequences. By showing extremely affectionate behaviors, the child can persuade himself that he is not so bad after all, even if the affection is all show and no heart (Luke 6:46). Shows of affection can manipulate attention from others. Demanding love on his terms puts him in control. If authorities do not cooperate, their seeming unkindness becomes the brush from painting them as mean (Luke 7:32). Then he can justify defiance and his demand that giving and receiving affection be on his terms.

Superficially Engaging and Charming
The child presents himself as mannerly, cute, sweet, bubbly, demure, cuddly, adoring, or helpless. He will laugh, hug intensely, rub his cheek on the adult's hand, and even cling to new acquaintance with appealing possessiveness. Shy or bold, RAD children are shrewd analysts of others and calculate precisely how to get whatever response they want.
Biblical Lens: Charm can be a deceitful way of getting something without showing one's true thoughts or desires (Prov. 2:16; 12:2; 29:5; 31:30). Attention received can temporarily dull the ache of loneliness. Fleecing another person can spark a thrill (Prov.9:17). It can also inspire a sense of achievement and/or control. One motivation that is likely not at the base of attention-oriented behaviors (clinging, affection toward strangers, charm) is desire for approval. This child is the card shark, not the circus clown. He wants control, the fleece, the ally, or validation of how mean and inept his authorities are.

Phoniness, Deceitfulness
The unattached child diligently studies people and practices how to con others. He tells others what he thinks they want to hear. He becomes so skilled at an appearance of normalcy that is may be months before a person realizes he has been emotionally duped. The constant phoniness creates a sense of disconnect or remoteness in relationships.
Biblical Lens: This characteristic is similar to that above. Hypocritical love (Rom. 12:9) fakes relationship without commitment; it keeps the other at arm's length. It keeps up appearances while the person also covertly pursues his own agenda. Jesus addressed the phoniness of people's supposed close relationship with God when He said, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46).
 Poor Peer Relationships
The antisocial child is usually a loner even if he appears to be friends with everyone. He tends to play with younger children because peers avoid him and younger children are more easily manipulated. He lacks long-term childhood friends.
Biblical Lens: Any child who is centered on protecting himself, his rights, and his possessions, and on trying to control others, is going to have problems keeping friends (Prov. 13:10; 16:28). A loner is selfish (Prov. 18:1).

Abnormal Speech Patterns
The unattached child speaks not to communicate but to control. A favorite technique is mispronouncing a word so that the adult will correct him. Slurring, mumbling, and nearly inaudible speech keep adults asking "What?" Yet, enunciation is crystal clear during an angry outburst. Giving ambiguous, rather than direct, answers to questions keeps adults probing for information. Other techniques include squeaks, forced laughter, incessant laughter, and incessant chatter. Nonsense question, questions about the obvious, or questions that make others feel awkward are also utilized.
Biblical Lens: Speech and language abnormalities, like persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter (Prov. 10:8, 19), are an easy and effective control method. The book of Proverbs is packed with verses on foolish and manipulative speech.

Learning Problems
RAD children have trouble learning, so they test out at a lower level than their age mates.
Biblical Lens: While some RAD children truly have learning problems, the learning problem of many is simply that they refuse to learn. Quickness to learn what they want belies test results indicative of retardation or learning disabilities. There may be several reasons for the refusal to learn. A child obsessed with safety is too distracted to learn and avoids risk of failure (Matt. 25:24-25). Learning is hard work. An appearance of being stupid can dupe others, possibly inducing teachers and parents to reduce the work load and expect less (Prov. 12:20). Learning situations are opportunities to play control games (Prov. 9:17;10:23; 26:18-19). Some people take delight in showing contempt for knowledge (Prov. 1:22, 25). Whatever the reasons, learning time is wasted and education lost. Then, it can appear that the child is less intelligent when the real problem is refusal to learn (Prov. 1:7; 22).
Abnormal Eating Patterns
Patterns include stealing and hiding food, hoarding and gorging, refusal to eat, and eating strange things.
Biblical Lens: Fear and revenge can motivate stealing and hoarding (Luke 12:18). Eating odd things may stir a sense of control over natural reactions, produce a thrill, or gain attention. 
Theft, Pointless Theft
Theft is chronic, brazen, cunning, and even nonsensical. A grade-schooler named Charles stole baking powder, something useless to him. They enjoy being sneaky.
Biblical Lens: Many desires motivate theft, including anger. Possession of a forbidden object gives a sense of power over the object and over those from whom it was stolen (Prov. 9:17; 20:17). This is true regarding possession of pets and, in adults, kidnapped people. 
Destructive to Self, Others, Property, Cruelty to Animals
A RAD child recklessly desregards safety and appears to have no fear of dangerous situations such as cliffs and fire. Tolerance for pain is unusually high. Hurting oneself may be intentional. Hurting others is sport. The RAD child will deliberately be a nuisance, and bully, terrorize, and humiliate others. He underhandedly stirs trouble with others in a way that they are blamed. Vandalism may include anything from adorning the wall with mucous, to punching holes in walls, to arson. Animal cruelty is common. Because the child is so cunning , violent acts are seldom seen or appear to be accidents. If the child is accused, blame is effectively shifted to someone else.
Biblical Lens: Anger commonly leads to destructive behaviors. Revenge motivated Esau to plot to kill Jacob (Gen. 27:41). Fear could be the motive when there is a desire to avoid discovery of a crime. The Pharisees plotted Jesus' death to avoid facing the truth about Him. Cruelty to animals can excite a sense of power (control) or be a convenient and "safe" outlet for anger.  
Preoccupation with Blood, Gore, Fire, Weapons
Depending upon the severity of the disorder, the child will be more or less obsessed with those things associated with evil. Drawings go beyond those of dragons and demons to incorporate blood and gore, and can be frightening. Girls and boys may be overly fascinated with uncouthness, sensuality, and promiscuity at an unusually young age.
Biblical Lens: The child who is afraid will think about what he can use to protect himself (Matt. 12:14; 26:4-5, 59; 27:1-2). The child who is angry plans how to get revenge.

Difficulty Learning from Mistakes
No matter the consequences given by parents and society, the child will continue the behavior. He does not learn from positive or negative reinforcements.
Biblical Lens: Proverbs 27:22 describes the RAD child when it says, "Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him." The foolish accounts that he wants is worth suffering the same consequences repeatedly. Habits are hard to change. 
Poor Impulse Control
A RAD child may speak kindly one moment, viciously the next. He may steal one moments, be generous in the next.
Biblical Lens: Often, when people are feeling afraid or furious, they do not think logically. They react impulsively (Prov. 12:16, 18; 17:14). Lack of self-control becomes a habit. 
Intense Control Battles
The antisocial child works persistently to wrest control of the household away from the parent. He behaves well when he wants something. Otherwise, testing, bossiness, arguments, baiting others, and pushing the limits continue unendingly. Every conversation is a manipulation opportunity. He pretends to not hear, not understand, or to misunderstand. A simple morning greeting might be delayed, dramatized, normal, a deliberate snub, a contemptuous grunt, a glare, a burst of laughter, or an antagonistic "What do you want?" A minute incident may start a control battle that continues unresolved for hours or days. He is as likely to sabotage a fun game as he is to participate.
Biblical Lens: For the child who is afraid, control of others produces a sense of power and invulnerability. For the child who is angry, provocations can achieve revenge. Besides, contest can be fun. That is why people play games and sports. Some people enjoy wrangling over words (2 Tim. 2:14, 16, 23), so Paul warned Timothy to not get caught up in it. Like a coal to fire is a RAD child to strife (Prov. 26:21; 17:19); he is constantly hot to spark a fight for control.

Hyperactivity, hypervigilance, and anger are common.
Biblical Lens: Someone who feels constantly threatened, who feels driven to maintain control, must be always on the alert. Hypervigilance keeps him attuned to people. For example, feeling threatened, the Pharisees watched Jesus, spied on Him, and tried to trap Him (Matt. 20:19-20). Like a boxer, the hypervigilant person studies others to find weaknesses and stays ready to seize opportunities. 
Chronic Lying, Lies About the Obvious
Lying is highly skilled, chronic, blatant, and sometimes so ridiculous that the child seems unaware of reality. With his hand in the cookie jar, the child will answer, "What jar?" Lying is not reserved only for escape from trouble. It is a lifestyle. The child may lie about the color of the shirt he is wearing or who was at the birthday party, lying when it gains him nothing and when telling the truth would require less effort.
Biblical Lens: Lies ward off punishment and guilt and keep others baffled. The Pharisees lied to themselves, and lied to others by refusing to answer when they did not want to admit to the obvious (Luke 20:1-8). Lying may arise from an abiding sense of guilt. "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing" (Prov. 28:1). Tricking others can also be a thrilling challenge. Whatever the reason, lying becomes an automatic reflex (Hosea 11:12-12:1).
Lack of Remorse, Seeming Lack of Conscience
When confronted with misbehavior, the child rationalizes, minimizes the harm he caused, shows total indifference, offers excuses, or blames the victim. Remorse is shown only to reduce or prevent punishment. He becomes insolent or furious if an authority expects him to admit wrongdoing. His actions are justified. The expectations of the victim and/or the authority are unreasonable.
Biblical Lens: Feelings of remorse are unpleasant, so people avoid them. A feeling of guilt implies a fault or weakness, which produces fear. Some people get angry at the idea of being wrong. The child becomes all the more desperate to rid himself of remorse feelings by justifying his actions. to the person who considers his own survival to be the ultimate value, it seems logaical that self-defensive behaviors must by rightful and good. With this view, the survivalist determines that he deserves what he steals or that he deserves the right of retaliation. People who love control will not care who they hurt to get the things they want (James 4:2-3). They will care more about keeping everyone under their control than about the basic needs of others (Matt. 9:9-13; 15:1-9; Luke 13:14). Examples of hardheartedness and shamelessness are throughout Scripture--Sodom, Esau, Pharaoh, Israel's child sacrifices, the Pharisees. In these examples, people demanded to do what they wanted without responsibility to any authority for it.

Refusal to Request Help
Biblical Lens: This characteristic is not listed in RAD literature. I have added it based upon my own observations only because I think it is an indicator of an underlying attitude essential to the child's alienation. The observation is, an antisocial child obtains what he wants by his own way (through power or manipulation) or else not at all. Just like the angry people described in James 4:2-3, he will suffer loss or pain rather than ask for help, or even for simple wants like a toy or an outing. This trait is easily missed, probably because absence of something is harder to spot than its presence. It takes time for parents to realize how often they think, "I would love to have given him that, if only he would tell me what he would like to have. If only he would ask." It is an important piece of the puzzle because it silently shouts, "I don't need you!" A RAD child appears determined to trust in only himself (Prov. 3:5; 16:25; 28:26).

In summary,
From babyhood RAD children develop a pervasive emotional self-sufficiency. Key characteristics include drive for control, hypervigilance, and lack of conscience. Most criminals or rebellious people usually maintain a loyalty to someone, friend or family. RAD children retain no loyalties and exercise a disregard for, and violation of, other people.
Biblical Lens: Our psychological labels are manmade categorizations. Even though the Bible speaks to every human condition, it would be impertinent to demand that it fits out categories. We must find our solutions in the Bible's categories, not vice versa. What people do and say expresses something about their heart desires. Major themes for a RAD child include self-preservation (selfishness), control, fear and anger, bitterness and brooding, and making emotional rather than rational decisions. Over all, the characteristics fit what the Bible calls an "angry man" (Prov. 29:22). Another pertinent big-picture label that accompanies and facilitates anger might be "he who separates himself" (Prov. 18:1), which we might abbreviate "alienated."  
From Parenting the Difficult Child by Linda Rice

If you find yourself dealing with children with attachment disorders or see these behaviors daily and sometimes hourly in your home buy this book! It has been such an encouragement to me and I keep it as a guide to refer back to constantly to point myself and my children to when and how these behaviors and motives played out in the bible and how God handled it. I have been on a short, yet very hard, journey and have changed my way of looking at parenting. For some real posts on RAD, I have two posts that describe some of the behaviors we have met on this journey, see Pursue Me and The Story of a Wicked Woman.

 Glorious Hope of Redemption 
There is hope for the child habituated to fear, anger, and control! Antisocial behaviors can become features of the past! How can that change be effected? It starts with salvation. God promises that when someone agrees that he has sinned and deserves punishment, commits to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, and repents from self to trust in Christ's redemptive work on the cross, God cleanses him from sin and gives a new heart that desires to please Him (Ezek. 36:25-26; 2 Cor. 5:9). With the new heart comes the ability to renew the mind (Eph. 4:22-24). Through God's Word, the child can learn and believe the truth about his world, himself, and God, and change his desires. The Bible shows how to throw away old tools of controlling the situation and pick up God's tools for handling trouble effectively. He can decide that when fears arise, he will run to God rather than to his own coping strategies (Psalm 18:2; 56:3). When anger boils, he will put on self-control instead (Gal. 5:19-23).  
Change of environment helps a great deal. Parents and counselors can influence him by modeling love and the joy of fellowship with God. They can teach truth and gently challenge or correct misperceptions by a calm, logical application of Scripture. They can patiently provide reward and disciplinary consequences. Prayer is essential. Loving parents can woo a child to choose to change.  
From Parenting the Difficult Child by Linda Rice, pages 52-53.

I am no longer parenting for my kids, to give my them the best life they could have or making sure they are changing their behavior, I am now parenting for me, to practice putting on fruits of the Spirit when, not if, I am tempted and tried by behaviors and conform more and more to the image of Jesus Christ alone.

Click here for a blog post on how I found: 

Healing in the Hurt (Battling fear, anger and bitterness while parenting RAD)

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Story of a Wicked Woman

        Once upon a time there was a woman. She loved her husband dearly and loved living in her city but was very wicked. She was full of envy, strife, hate and pride. She committed many crimes against her husband and King. Her husband loved her despite her behavior, even when she was very hard to love, but he had to tell the King about her wickedness. So the King came to her. He said, “Woman you are very wicked and have committed many crimes against Me and My kingdom, your penalty is death.” The woman cried out to the king, she was pierced at the heart and saw herself for what she had become. “Oh my King, please have mercy on me!” The King was moved with compassion for her and said, “I am a just and good King, I cannot let criminals go without their penalty being paid, but this is what I will do, because I love you so, I will adopt you as My own and give you My power and kingdom, and I will send My perfect, blameless Son, the Prince of Peace, to die in your place and in the place of all criminals who enter my kingdom.” The woman with tear-filled eyes looked at her beloved King as he gave His only Son for her and gave her all he had and made her his daughter. “Lord I am not worthy, I deserve none of this.” The King responded only with, “I will look at you now, not as condemned, but as perfect. Obey what My Son and I have written and love and serve My people!”
            Her husband rejoiced when he heard what their great King had done for his wife and they committed their lives to serving the Son who paid for their great crimes. The woman began reading all that had been written in the Kingdom. One day, she read, “care for the orphaned,” and her heart was pierced. Their King had adopted her as His very own when she was in need, how could they not follow their King’s great example and adopt others in need? They studied and learned all they could from the King and His love for them spurred on their compassion for others. Even when great obstacles were encountered, when paperwork piled high, when schedules had to be arranged for endless appointments and interviews seemed endless their King reminded them, “You can do all things when I am your strength.” And the King walked with them as their guide.
            The day arrived when the command to care became a reality. Three orphaned, needy children showed up on their doorstep. They thought how complete their lives were now that they had begun to fulfill their purpose. How excited they were to reflect the great King’s love to these hurting, broken children. But problems arose. These small, sweet-faced orphans were desperately wicked. Every morning she would have to beg and plead and fight that they shower and just brush their teeth and hair. After searching for and finding the urine soaked items that were hidden she would pack lunches, backpacks, find lost socks and shoes, and missing homework. She would answer incessant, nonsense questions about the obvious. The woman would get them off to school then go to work tired and ready for a break. She would get a call. A child was sick, or refused to do their schoolwork, or comply with their teacher’s requests or had been sent out of class due to being a disruption. Weary she would go to the school to talk about a way to fix the problem. When school was over there was counseling and doctor appointments and visitations. She would begin to make dinner but have to stop several times to break up fights, to answer more nonsense questions, to help with homework, to beg them to do their homework, and correct or send them away when they refused. When dinner was ready and her husband walked in the door she would melt into his arms. “I am weak, I forget why I am caring for these children.”
            “Oh Sweetie, don’t you remember the words of the king? ‘Come to me all you who are weak and weary and I will give you rest’.” The husband held her tight and they tried to enjoy their meals together despite the gagging, crying, refusing to eat or the children fighting for attention, falling out of chairs, chattering on about nothing just to hog the conversation and heavy critique of anything that was on their plate. They followed their task parenting these little ones even with the belligerent attitudes that followed dinner, with the somber face that refused to take part in any fun of a new family, and even with the constant manipulations to gain what they wanted when they wanted it. Then came the nightly routine of begging and pleading and fighting that they just please get dressed, brush their teeth or go to bed, the never enough stories or songs, the twenty times someone had to get back up to pee or get a book or forgot to put a paper away or needed to ask something of no importance.
            Although the daily marathon continued the woman would just pray, cry and be strengthened by the King’s guidance to endure the trials each day held. The woman was struggling when another orphan was left on the doorstep, a baby, so sweet, so beautiful. She looked at this sweet baby, so helpless and remembered why she wanted to care for these little ones. In a moment, she had a renewed view of the mission.
            But the crying never stopped. The baby could not be consoled, not when being held, not in the car, not with noise or quiet. The door slams, again. Another runaway. Another phone call to the police, “Yes officer, that house, that child, yes again.” The woman’s head drops in exhaustion, "Why am I doing this?" The husband comes home early from work again. Another incident, another theft, always something new going missing, always something new is found hidden, then the lies. The lies just pour out like water from a well, completely natural. The constant smell of urine led to so many searches, so many hidden, putrid items found, more vandalism, another angry outburst, another refusal to eat, another runaway, the endless movement and chattering, so many needs and questions, now another visit with the principal, another doctor’s visit, another endless day of crying. It was too much. The woman was tired. The husband was tired.
            More writing on the wall, it was the last straw, we told the child this time we will take the markers. The child stood with the markers behind her, “Sweetie, I told you if you drew on the wall again I will have to take your markers.” The woman’s face stung in pain. The child smiled, “Go ahead, hit me back.” One phone call, the woman had to make one phone call and they would come take this wicked orphan away. The woman made that call.
            That night a burden heavier than caring for these children weighed on her. She remembered the King. She remembered how wicked she had been and how all her wickedness was paid and forgiven by the payment of the Son’s life. How could she not love this child the way the King had loved her? What made it so hard? The woman vowed to love these orphans sent to her, vowed that no matter what they did, no matter how tired she was, she would continue in love to serve her King.
            In just a moment, with the whirlwind this journey has already brought, now there is another orphan on the doorstep. A baby. This baby didn’t cry. This baby didn’t crawl. This baby didn’t smile or laugh. This baby didn’t move his hands to play with a toy or pick up food. This baby just sat. This baby would stare and study faces as he drank his bottle. So different than the other baby that cried constantly. So different than the children that chattered and moved and ran constantly. The woman fell deeply in love with the quiet, easy baby.
            The quiet baby eventually stopped being quiet, but still never cried. He laughed all the time and smiled. He would light up a room with his joy and applaud the woman when she came in. The woman couldn’t help but smile when she was around him. It felt like a glimmer of hope and joy in her very tired, dark world. The woman worked and prepared five little ones every day, the woman armored up for the fights and battles, she did her best to guard them against themselves so they could not devise evil and lie and plunder. The woman held them and told them the difference between evil and good. She showed them mercy and pronounced them free, although they deserved punishment for their deeds, she passed on the stories and gifts of her good and gracious King. The woman also failed daily, sought forgiveness and asked the King many times, “O King you know my heart, are you sure you chose correctly, did you truly choose me to care for these orphans? In all Your kingdom, You must have one more skilled, more loving, more obedient than I?” The King smiled as He whispered back to her, “I choose the weak to shame the strong, any good work I have began with you I will bring to completion.”
            Some days began to pass without a battle. Some days began to fill with joy, to even overflow with joy. The woman began to feel happy and want to hug and love. Then the day came when she got to mimic her King and she adopted all five of these needy orphans into her heritage and all her possessions and the kingdom her King gave to her.
I wished I could now write: The End, happy ending, but the woman did not get a break from her tiresome work and the woman’s children did not become perfect, they had hearts trained in wickedness. The battles did become fewer and less frequent but more massive in size. The woman often felt exhausted and like a failure, but the woman and her children did have one hope, a Savior, one to pay for their crimes, for their wickedness. Both the woman and her children needed strength to overcome the battles that did and would arise, they needed to rely on the One Good King who had provided a Savior, His very own perfect Son, Jesus Christ.

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone