So…I have this fascination with the Duggars. And before you even start to wonder, I’m NOT trying to say that I want 19 kids! Four feels like a lot right now and I want to enjoy every minute : ) More on that another day…
But…I have read both of their books, and they implement some wonderful, simple ideas in their home that teach their children what actually living out the Word looks like rather than just being someone who talks about it. One thing that they do that we have personally implemented is studying and memorizing operational definitions of character qualities and a corresponding Scripture verses. If you’re like me, you find yourself telling your children to be a certain way. Eventually, I’ve come to realize that they have no idea what we’re talking about unless we painstakingly define it and repetitively remind them of that definition in their everyday life. These operational definitions have been a lifesaver, both as a mom teaching her children, and as a woman who desires to keep working on my own heart. You can find the chart of operational definitions here.
This week, we are learning about Alertness: being aware of that which is taking place around me so that I may have the right response. The Bible verse listed is Mark 14:38: Watch and pray so that you may not fall into temptation.
I have Micah (my oldest) copy the verse and the definition as part of his handwriting work each week. Then we hang it up in the kitchen and review it during every meal. If it sounds tedious, it’s really not! We use hand motions and we get skittles once we’ve memorized it! Even my 2 year old finds this fun!
My husband and I are really impressed with how well our oldest has responded to this. One of the recurring problems in our home is keeping the volume low (not silent!) while I’m trying to get the baby to settle down to sleep. It seems that just as her sweet eyelids slowly start fluttering shut, Micah comes tromping through the house, little brothers in tow, setting monster traps or going on hunting missions…decibels at their maximum level! After a couple of days reviewing the definition of alertness, he seemed to understand how it applied.
Last Friday, I was rocking the baby to sleep. Fully clad in superhero costumes and gear, I heard my little men running up the stairs. As Iron Man, Spider Man, and Captain America were in view, my heart started to race and yes…I was starting to feel angry gurgling inside knowing that my sweet girl would soon be rudely awakened in the name of Superheroes conquering evil. Once Micah caught my eye, he stopped, turned around and whispered to his brothers “I am aware mom is rocking Emma. Let’s go back downstairs and play so that she can finish.” What????!!!! (And yes, he actually used the word “aware”!) Now, we don’t live in a perfect world…the next night was a whole different story! I’m considering baby ear muffs to drown out some of the ambient boy noise in the house. However, we are trying to teach what the Word of God says, what is expected of us, and what that looks like in our everyday lives. We may fail a thousand times, but the one time in a thousand that my kids get it right makes me so proud!
I’m learning that must be how God feels about us. Actually, He is all the more proud of us because His love is perfect. The feeling in my heart made me want to please God all the more. I want Him to feel that proud of me. He wants us to be alert so that we use the gifts He has given us to respond to situations He has brought into our every day lives. We can grumble, complain, and walk around unaware of our surroundings. He has a better plan. He knows what a smile, a word of encouragement, or a hug can mean to someone set in our path. He promises to keep us protected, but we must be alert to notice the protections He has set in place. He warns us that we must always keep watch and keep connected to Him so that we can steer clear of situations that have been laid down to trip us up. He has given us everything we need to succeed, but we need to keep ourselves alert, making sure we are always watching and praying.
As for us in the Stack house, we know in our heads now what this means and what God’s Word says. Next, we must sink it down deep in our hearts so that it becomes second nature. I want to practice this character quality. I want to notice it in my kids. I want to bless others and not be rude or ignorant for lack of alertness. I want to be aware of all the blessings the Lord has put in my life and all of the pitfalls that I can avoid.
As for sweet baby girl, I think she just needs some good, old fashioned R-E-S-P-E-C-T! But that’s an operational definition for another day!