Monday, July 16, 2012

Character without Courage

“Character without courage is empty.  Courage is what enables us to act on our convictions.” –Susan Yates-

This was the quote that kept running through my head when I toyed with the idea of blogging.  I’m generally a private person and I keep a lot of our trials and victories to myself.  But I realized that every experience in this life, good or bad, should be shared so that we can bear each other’s burdens and rejoice in our victories together!  However, having so many little ones, it’s difficult to get an entire conversation with another adult completed these days, which is why I’m thankful for the internet!

I’ve been so encouraged in the last 2 weeks by all the emails that I’ve received regarding my blog posts.  We’re all on a journey through life together, and I love that we can be honest and helpful with each other without judgment or fear!  Whether you believe what I believe or not, my heart is to encourage anyone who reads my words and to show my kids one day that every day with them is a gift.

A question that I received by quite a few people is what I do to teach my little ones Bible verses.  First, I want to say that I spend LOTS of time on each verse because I don’t want them just to spit the words back out at me.  I want them to understand those big words that the Bible uses.  I want them to have life experiences where I can say, “see, this is where that verse applies.”  We want the Word to be living and active in our home and something that they see us living out rather than regurgitating.  We want to teach them character through the Word, but courage to understand, believe, and then walk out what they have learned. 

That being said, we do Bible memory a few different ways.  Right now, we are going through the Focus on the Family Kids Character Development Series. Surprisingly, we are focusing on perseverance now (which seems to be the word of the month!) There is a verse that goes along with each character trait.  We read it together every day.  I print it out and post in a place where my reader sees it all the time (on the wall by his seat at the table).  I try to find a song with it, or we just make up our own.  They really have it memorized by the end of a week, but it takes some time to understand what we’re saying.  So, we don’t rush on to the next verse.  Last month, we worked on respect and it took us all month to learn that the verse we were memorizing meant that we should prefer another over ourselves.  Last week while on a play date, I watched my children giving up toys and snacks that other kids asked for despite the fact that they weren’t ready to give them up.  I was so proud that they seemed to get it!  While this is a life long lesson, I saw that they were ready to move on.    

For those of you who don’t actively memorize the Word with your children, I encourage you to start!  Before we started doing this, we felt that there were a lot of gray areas when it came to parenting.  Any time you take two adults from two different childhoods and give them a set of kids, a social experiment ensues!  We rarely bickered with each other before we had kids, but now all of the sudden we had our very different opinions about what rules we set in our home.  Here is what we believe:  we know that the Word of God is true.  So when there is confusion, we need the Word.  And when you have 4 little ones, you need it quick!  Memorizing became a survival skill and continues to be, not just for us as parents, but for our kids.  There are clear expectations and everyone is on the same page.  It’s also a way to gain new perspective on passages that we’ve been dealing with for years.  It’s fun to see the different interpretations and applications that we all have!
I also want to state the obvious:  we are not perfect!  Thank God He sees the finished picture and gives us grace and mercy to grow and change.  While I want to be encouraging, I want to be honest.  I am not who I was before I became a mom, and I am far beyond who I was even 2 years ago.  My faith has been tested over and over, and continues to be.  But I have seen the faithfulness of the Lord in my life, and want to give Him the glory.  I want my children to see His faithfulness in my life and in their own.  Sometimes that comes through reflection, sometimes discipline, and sometimes it comes from those trials where their faith will be tested.  Fires of experience burn into us principles of life which we live by.  I do not want to be a coward and keep these lessons to myself.  And I don’t want my kids to be cowards and keep quiet about the things that they believe.       

 Lastly, I want to say to those of you who are still reading despite disagreeing with me…thanks for loving us where we’re at…I promise to love you where you’re at as well.  I can’t expect anyone to fully agree with me all the time.  But I want to learn to love at all times and to respect others while boldly speaking the truth.  I want my kids to do the same.  I unapologetically live my life to please my Savior, but with the understanding that you may disagree with me…and that’s o.k.    I have courage to live out my convictions, sometimes falling on my face, sometimes getting beaten down by life, but always to run this race the best I can and teach my kids to run harder and faster than I did.  

I have learned through loss.  I have learned that our days are numbered and we have a limited time here to speak the words that God has given us.  I believe we are all born with different gifts and callings, and that He speaks to us different words to encourage each other.  Thank you for listening to what He’s speaking to me and my family.  I hope and pray that each of us finds the courage to walk out our convictions each day!

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