Another Tattoo, Love, And Acceptance

On January 27th I got my third tattoo which is of my beloved first kitty, Sara. It was the ten year anniversary of her going Home. I got Sara when I was about nine years old and lost her when I was 25 years old. This was the original tattoo that I had been wanting since soon after she went Home.

I made it through the tattoo with flying colors and took the same medications as I did with my last two tattoos in order to slow down my muscle spasms.  See here and here about my first tattoo experiences. Again, my mom was so excited and proud of me.  It’s funny how even though I am 35 years old, I still need my mom’s approval and acceptance!  It truly means a lot to me!

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My beautiful Sara tattoo!

I have been thinking a great deal about love and acceptance with everything going on in both my world and the world in general.  My husband and I no longer attend church because we’ve never found one that the people totally accepted us. Some people have and we are still friends with them, but many people assume that I am mentally disabled and talk to me like I am a child, well actually, worse.  They are often patronizing to me. It drives me crazy! Of course, as I said, there are some who can see past my disability, but many can’t even after telling them that I have a Master’s Degree. 

So when my friend, Jackie Heim, posted the following on her Facebook page, I felt sad but could really relate.

“I read that between 80-90% of parents with special needs kids do not attend church. There is no source for my information, so I can’t verify this. But, I believe the number is high (for sure higher than it should be). I’ll take my son anywhere – the library, the mall, the beach, swimming, a museum, a park, the grocery store, Disney World – anywhere but church. I can handle the comments and looks from strangers. Not being able to talk and not understanding everything said to you is a frustrating disability. From Christians, the one group of people who I want support from as as special needs parent, I get judgmental comments. Burdens of expectation concerning my son’s behavior are thrown on my shoulders. And, always by people who are doing nothing to help me with this burden. I have experienced this ever since dealing with my first language delayed child over a decade ago. It hasn’t gone away. And, the third time around I am dealing with an even more severe delay. So, I just don’t go. It’s easier that way.”

The very people, the Church, who are supposed to love and accept you for who you are, don’t!  They want children to be these perfectly obedient robots and if they’re not then you need to spank/hit them.  They never stop to think that the children may have special needs or they never try to understand about child development.  To be so judgmental to parents and children is so wrong and un-Christlike.

I see the world becoming worse and worse which the Bible tells us to expect.  But what I have been struggling with for years is that I didn’t realize that it would be the Christians that are often leading the way to destruction.  We’re supposed to be leading people to the Light.  I just don’t see that happening.

I believe that this is due to church doctrine.  Church doctrine often appears to be aligned with the Bible, but when you look deeper, you see how much it strays from the Bible.  Jesus was constantly with sinners and making them feel loved and welcome.  In fact, people would run to Jesus when He was in their town!

When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured” (Mark 6:53-56, NASB).

It was always the self-righteous Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that scoffed, badgered, and ultimately crucified Jesus.  Regular people just wanted to know more about Him and to understand Him.

Not long ago I posted on my Facebook personal page that I have recently found myself relating more to the tattoo culture than to the Christian culture. As strange as that may sound, it’s because the tattoo culture is so real, loving, and accepting!  They are so Christlike and they don’t even know it.  That is so scary and sad that a tattoo shop does what the Church ought to be doing.

We are born with a deep need for love and acceptance.  Children absolutely crave it from their parents and never outgrow it.  Jesus put us here to love and accept people in order to lead them to Him.  There are a lot of people out there right now, young and old, of different races and ethnicities, and of different religions, and of all sexual orientations that are craving for love and acceptance!  May we do our best to stop judging and begin loving and accepting the way Jesus does!

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Are Love And Truth Mutually Exclusive And Full Of Tension?

Happy New Year 2017.  As I begin this new year, I find myself relating less and less to the Christian world.  I’m a Christ-follower through and through.  I strive to be more like Jesus and less judgmental.  As I grow in my walk with Christ, the mainstream Christian worldview just feels so harsh and misguided and judgmental.  I’m not seeing much Christ in these people.  That makes me so sad because I’m seeing just how broken the Church really is.

I know we are all a bunch of broken, sinful people but we should be striving to be more loving, compassionate, merciful, peaceful, gentle, forgiving, and full of grace.  In other words, more like Jesus Christ!  But all I’m seeing is harshness, judging, accusations, promotion of being harsh to children and anyone who dares to disagree with you and/or dares to take a less literal interpretation of parts of the Bible.  To dare live outside of the mainstream Christian culture is to go to “Hell” and to be part of the devil’s schemes.

Anyone who has followed me and/or has read my book, Gentle Firmness, knows that I have been struggling with fitting in with the Christian culture because I can see that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit by their parents.  Sadly, the mainstream Christian world disagrees with me and refuses to see the Truth.  And now that I have gotten tattoos, I’m really enjoying that culture because it’s so real, loving, and actually Christ-like, yet, even though nobody has said anything to me, I know some of my Christian friends are probably thinking that I am really backsliding now.  Not only do I advocate for peaceful parenting but I am tattooed.

This makes me feel so sad because I take my relationship with Christ very seriously.  I research the Bible and pray before every huge decision.  I’m not perfect and I sin regularly but I also truly want to do as Christ wants me to do.

So imagine my horror and confusion when I saw a meme with a quote from Beth Moore, a Bible teacher, that seems to be saying that to choose love and become more like Jesus is putting the Bible aside.  That love and Truth are in tension with each other.  You can listen to the quote here as I do not want to put the meme in this post.

I used to really look up to Beth Moore.  God has used her books and one of her Bible studies to speak to me.  I can’t say anything bad about Beth Moore but her recent teachings have left me very disturbed.

The Bible tells us to be more like Jesus (Philippians 2:1-11, John 3:30, Ephesians 5:2).  And Christ gave us The Two GREATEST COMMANDMENTS which are:

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:28-34, NASB).

Jesus tells us that love is the most important thing ever!  The love of God and love for each other!  Also, Jesus says that He is the Truth!

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'” (John 14:6, NASB).

Then 1 John 4:8 states:

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB).

And finally, Ephesians 5:1-2 states:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (NASB).

Love and Truth go hand in hand.  Jesus also said that the Truth will set us free (John 8:32).  So if Jesus is the Truth and is Love according to the Bible, then how is loving people “putting the Bible aside and forsaking the Truth for love a part of ‘the devil’s schemes?'”

Another thing to consider is that the Bible is just one way that God speaks to us.  The Bible is a bunch of beautifully God inspired words.  It’s just a small piece of information that God wants us to have.  However, we must study and look at the original language, historical culture, and the context in which passages were written. The Bible wasn’t written TO us, it was written FOR us!  Big difference!  Most Christians believe the Bible is written TO us.  And the Bible is often referred to as a love letter from God.

Jesus is The Word!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5, NASB).

Jesus also told us that He would give us a Counselor to help guide us after He ascended into Heaven in John 14:16:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” (NASB).

This Counselor is the Holy Spirit.  He dwells inside us and constantly guides and speaks to us if we will listen to Him.  Therefore, even if we don’t read the Bible, God is still able to speak to us.  Don’t get me wrong, studying the Bible is very important!  But if I were to somehow never be able to read and study the Bible, I have no doubt in my mind that The Word (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) would continue to teach, guide, correct, love, and speak to me.  We just need to be open to Him!

I used to be a judgmental, legalistic Christian who thought it was my job to correct and save people from their sins.  I thought obeying the rules were of utmost importance.  I told people that they were headed to Hell if they didn’t listen to me and get Jesus.

Guess how many people I helped save by being all about the Truth but not about love?

Zero!  That’s right!  Nobody wanted anything to do with this Jesus guy and it hurt my relationships.

We stand in the Truth by being more like Jesus.  Love is how we reach people.  Jesus was the hardest on the Pharisees and the Teachers of Law because they were all about self-righteousness and legalism and not wanting to hang out with the sinners.  They even criticized Jesus for hanging out with sinners all the time.  Jesus raised the status of all of the oppressed including children, women, people with disabilities, people of different races and ethnicities.  He died for everyone!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what love is!

I’m sorry but I don’t think that Jesus wants us running around condemning people and shaking our fingers in their faces to stand for Truth!

”Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,

And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday” (Isaiah 58:9-10, NASB).

I don’t think He wants us to judge others (Matthew 7:1-6).  I don’t think He wants us to spank/hit children.  I don’t think He wants us to force people to follow Him out of fear.

Rather, I truly believe that Jesus wants us to love as He loves. Yes, sometimes that means correcting someone gently if they are going down the wrong path, but gently is the key word as otherwise, people just get defensive and dig in their heels.

Therefore, there is no “tension” between love and Truth unless we put it there.  Love and Truth go together very easily.

I believe that, sadly, teachers that say that positive Christianity and love are of the devil are the ones who are truly entrapped in satan’s schemes.  After all, satan hates love.

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Companionship Is Vital To Our Survival

I watched a tv show back in October 2015 that described the five primal fears of all humans.  According to this article, the five primal fears are:

  1. Extinction. This is the fear of death.
  2. Mutilation.  This is the fear of losing body parts or being physically hurt.
  3. Loss of Autonomy.  This is the fear of being physically disabled or not having control over situations.
  4. Separation.  This is the fear of being left behind or isolated or losing loved ones.
  5. Ego-death.  This is the fear of being humiliated or shamed.

In this post I want to focus on separation. Anyone following my blog or that has read my book knows that I don’t believe that fear is from God based on 2 Timothy 1:7 (NASB) which states:

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

Therefore, I think of these primal fears as more survival instincts.  They keep us from putting ourselves in danger. They are God’s way of keeping us safe.

Separation is one of my major fears, or, I guess, survival instincts.  It is extra strong in me. I have lost a lot of people throughout my life. Whether it was due to rejection or death or people moving away, the fact is loss scares me. 

I have been on overdrive lately when it comes to losing people due to losing my mother-in-law, to whom I was quite close, in August 2015. So if a friend starts to back off due to life, I feel the road to rejection and loss coming all over again. I freak.

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This is from the book, “Healing After Loss” by Martha Whitmore Hickman. This further proves our God given need for companionship especially during rough times.

I hate blaming my severe cerebral palsy on anything, but I must wonder if I would experience less loss if I wasn’t disabled.  I would more easily make friends and could physically contribute more to friendships such as spontaneously meeting friends somewhere without having to plan it all out.

I was also physically, emotionally, and verbally abused by my dad throughout my entire childhood.  Then he disowned me in my adulthood.  That gets into separation instinct as well as ego death.  We all need to feel valued and loved from day one.

Of course there is another major reason why some people’s separation instinct is on overdrive. Being left to cry-it-out as infants teaches children to expect separation and loss. The brain gets wired in such a way that instead of having a healthy survival instinct, it goes into overdrive. Then if the child continues to experience loss, that further increases their survival instinct and fear of separation and loss.

I must point out that separation anxiety in infants and toddlers is developmentally appropriate.  Parents and caregivers can help children with separation anxiety by always telling the child when they will be back as well as always saying goodbye to the child instead of sneaking out.  This helps children not be on high alert to make sure people won’t just suddenly disappear.

You know, God created us to need human and animal companionship. Therefore, a healthy separation survival instinct would be to recognize our need for relationships without always worrying about losing the people we love.  When God saw that Adam needed additional companionship, He created the animals for him.  Then when they weren’t enough, God created Eve.

Yes, God fills up a certain major need in us, but He knows we need other relationships on this Earth.  I know that may be a weird idea for many Christians as the church teaches us that God is all we need.  And indeed, there is nothing that can ever compare to God’s perfect, unconditional love for us.  But if all we need is God, then why did He create us with a separation survival instinct?

This is why infants need us to respond to them consistently and respectfully when they cry or they will have brain damage that may not be apparent to the naked eye but will surface in some manner at some point in their lives.  It will negatively affect every relationship they ever have.

I believe we need to cherish every relationship we are in and do our part in nurturing it.

Yes, some relationships must take priority over others.  But God doesn’t want us walking away from relationships in which He put us unless they have become toxic.  And our relationship with Him comes first as that is how we can make sure we are treating each other how He wants.

Here are some verses about the importance of companionship:

”Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him'” (Genesis 2:18, ESV).

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, ESV).

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22, ESV).

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14, ESV).

May we raise our children in a manner that will allow them to have a healthy separation survival instinct.  May we also teach them to value all relationships and friendships–especially the one they have with Jesus. After all, Jesus is our friend.

Yes, companionship is vital to our well being and survival!

 

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Guest Post: To The Mom Needing To Hear This Right Now By Christina Driggers

There is a mom today reading this and needing to know: You don’t have to hit your child to make them obey and listen to you. In your heart you *****know***** it’s not right…your instinct is telling you it’s not right, but the teachings your church or your family or whomever is pushing you to act on tells you to cause your child pain so that they will know that God loves them or so that through hitting your child, your child will obey you and God. I could go on and on all the reasons because in my past, I was that mom.

I was that mom who began as an attachment parent (though in the mid 90’s I had no clue that’s what it was called).  I just knew I didn’t want to spank my kids like I was spanked and hurt. I didn’t want that for them. However, I had no clue what to do otherwise and there was no internet, there was no support. Spanking in the south is the thing to do. You are a bad parent in the south if you don’t spank. So, I succumbed to hitting my child and calling it “discipline.”  But it did not work.

My child still had unwanted behavior. The book, To Train Up A Child, was suggested to me and I tried the things in there…breaking the will. All I remember about the day I tried to do that was:

1) I didn’t want to spank my child so much and so hard that it would hurt him and leave bruises.

2) How can parents actually spank their child so hard and so long that causes their will to break?

3) My child was still looking at me with confusion and hurt on his face. And this momma could not take it any longer.

I could not do what ‪the book, To Train Up A Child, told me to do. I could not hurt my child like that. My heart was telling me it was wrong. I had all the ‪doorpost charts and books…but it was the same thing. None of it worked.

I would have been spanking my kids 20 times a day according to their advice. Their teachings, and many like them that are touted as “Biblical and Christian,” and they required escalation of hitting and punishment.

I have found a better, loving, gentle, respectful, and truly Biblical way. My 4-year-old is not spanked and we have not spanked. Sure he’s a normal 4-year-old with lack of impulse control and all that, but overall, I have none of the behaviors with him that I had with my oldest.

When I began to view his unwanted behavior as a need not being met, and it was up to me to meet the need, it changed my view of him completely.

I am so thankful for all this awesome information and so grateful for how it has changed me and the tone in the home. It’s funny because I used to be that mom who mocked peaceful parenting and touted all the arguments that pro-spanking parents use. I quoted all those Bible verses in support of spanking kids. There is not one single Bible verse or one single argument a punitive Christian parent can tell me that I have not believed and used in the past.

And I’m going to tell you this: You have been lied to. We have been lied to. We have been misled. It’s wrong. Those beliefs are wrong and I’m putting my foot down and calling them out because I have seen too much damage in families by these so called Christian teachings.

Beating your child and leaving bruises and welts is NOT God’s love. Hitting your child and calling it discipline is NOT God’s love. Demanding instant obedience from your child is NOT God’s love. Demanding that your child speak only when spoken to is NOT God’s love. Telling your child they have an attitude when they are trying to be heard is NOT God’s love. Controlling your child is NOT God’s love.

What is God’s love? It’s supposed to be I Corinthians 13, but I see so few Christian parents actually practicing it towards their child. We all have choice. I’ve been on both sides and for real…Peaceful parenting wins hands down!!!!!!!!!!!!! It produces the Fruit of the Spirit without hitting, without anger, without frustration!

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God Came To Earth As A Human Baby!

As Christmas draws near, I always enjoy thinking about how God chose to come to Earth as Baby Jesus.

God coming down as a BABY and doing what all human babies do really says a lot about how He truly feels about children.  He could’ve come as a man, but He chose to be a BABY.

Our Almighty God was born the same way as all babies are, and nursed from His mother’s breasts!  He was like all children.   I believe Jesus cried as a baby and screamed as a toddler because these are developmental behaviors. Acting one’s age is not sinful when one is a young child.  Jesus was 100% human as well as 100% God.  He had to communicate His needs the same way all babies and children must.

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Of course, Jesus was sinless, so when He became an adolescent Who could act maliciously, He didn’t.  Yet, God, the Father, didn’t send Jesus out to the desert to be tempted by satan until He was an adult.

Whatever you believe about the “sinful nature” of children, this tells me that God, the Father, knew that Jesus’s brain needed to mature in growth and The Word before He could withstand the evil one.

Much of what most Christians deem “sinful” in children is simply immature brains that cannot control impulses. It is not sin until the child truly grasps sin. How dare we call children “sinful” when God, the Father, waited for His Son to fully mature before sending Him into the desert.

I find this all truly amazing!  I think we, as Christians/Christ-followers, really need to reflect more on things such as this as it gives us greater insight into the true character of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It would make no sense if He really wanted us to leave infants to cry-it-out and/or to spank/hit our children!   After all, He was a Child!

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Why We Need To Change Our Perceptions

We all have different ways of perceiving people and life events. Some of our perceptions are accurate and factual. Others are based on preconceived notions and experiences. Some perceptions are good. Some are quite negative and downright harmful.

For example, a while back I watched a show where they researched how different people perceived certain groups of people.  I don’t remember all four groups that the majority of people put others into based on how they perceive them.  But, one group stood out to me as it hit close to home.

That group was called, “not dangerous, incompetent.”

Guess who was put into this group.

The disabled and the elderly.  Had children been a part of this research, I’m sure children also would have been placed into the group as well since the majority tends to perceived children as incompetent.

What is sad is I am severely physically disabled due to my cerebral palsy, and yet, I have a Master’s Degree.  Every day I must deal with people that perceive me as incompetent.  This is why I’m working on getting my first children’s book published to change the negative and inaccurate perceptions of having a disability.

The elderly are very competent!  They have years of wisdom even if their bodies won’t allow them to physically accomplish that which they once could.

And finally, children are extremely competent!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit.  Yet, we never appreciate their abilities, but punish them for not being adults.

Thankfully, Jesus never liked how society perceived and viewed children.  He gives us a high command when it comes to children.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
I believe that our society as a whole despises children. Children are the least respected people of our society.

They are murdered before they are born.

They are left to cry alone.

They are spanked/hit and publicly shamed.

People argue about their “right” to treat them however they want.

They are called horrible names.

The saddest thing about this is it’s Christians promoting much of this. Yet, Jesus is the One who elevated children’s societal status.

The way we view children is how they will behave. And when Christians perceive and view children as “sinners” and “manipulative,” they react and punish what they perceive as “defiance” when the child simply is trying to communicate with us.  That’s why Dobson’s (and others like him) view is so dangerous.   Not only does he call children horrible, degrading names in his books, but he sets up an adversarial parent-child relationship.

Interestingly, God calls children blessings in Psalm 127:3. I view children as little people in need of help, guidance, and discipline (teaching). When the focus is on cooperation instead of control, children cooperate. I’ve worked with some pretty difficult children and was able to get them to cooperate through positive discipline strategies such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children. Children do better when we perceive and view them as God does.

We need to change our perceptions of all people–young and old, disabled, or any other differences.  We need to do our best to base our perception on fact.  Smaller humans are competent!

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Infants: Innocent or “Sinful?”

Many Christians claim infants are “sinful” and “manipulative.”  This is based on an inaccurate interpretation of Psalm 51:5 which states:

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5, NASB).

Even many Bible versions inaccurately translate this verse to say that David was “sinful” from birth. What I believe the verse is actually saying is that David’s mother was sinning when he was conceived.  Other verses seem to contradict the church doctrine of infants being born “sinful.”  Let’s look at some.

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” ( James 4:17, NASB).

Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it” (Deuteronomy 1:39, NASB).

“For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law” (Romans 5:13, ESV).

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'” (Matthew 19:14, NASB).

As we can see, infants and young children are not ever considered “sinful” in the Bible.  We will all eventually sin in our lives and will need Jesus to save us from our sins, but infants do not even know what sin is, therefore, they cannot understand what sin is.  They re so young and are totally in the present moment.  They cannot plan ahead.

Also, if we truly observe infants in an objective manner, we’ll see that they are eager to interact with us.  And as soon as they can physically do it, they will offer toys and food to us.  It may be slobbery, but they love to share with us and interact with us.

A “sinful” infant wouldn’t get joy from taking turns with us and interacting with us.  A “sinful” infant would never ever be satisfied with us.  I must point out that some infants are born with special needs and can’t interact the way typical infants can.  Other infants are very high needs.  These infants are not “sinful.”

No infants are ever “sinful.”  Infants are totally innocent.  It is very important for us to understand that infants’ wants are also their needs. Infants are incapable of manipulating us during their first year of life. Yes, as they get older, they can wait a bit for a need to be met as long as we tell them we will meet it soon and follow through. But even wanting to be held is an actual need for infants.

Let’s do our best to treat infants in a manner that will allow them to keep their innocence for as long as possible instead of treating them harshly, making them learn to be selfish.

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Sacrifice And Love For Others–Especially Our Children

Romans 15:1-7:

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

I think this Scripture is key in how we should interact with others, especially our children. It seems that many Christians are not willing to self-sacrifice for the betterment of others. If it’s not convenient for us, then we won’t sacrifice for others.

Guess what!  Being crucified on a cross was not convenient to Jesus, but because He loved us so much, He died a horrific death for us–His beloved children!

I think it’s beyond sad that many popular, mainstream “Christian child-rearing experts” actually discourage parents from self-sacrificing for their children. Instead of rearranging their lives to include children, these “experts” teach parents to force a new human being to fit within the parents’ lives so the child knows that he/she is not too important.

How is that obeying what God clearly lays out in the above Scripture?  Children are indeed weaker than us. They need constant care and guidance from us which should involve major self-sacrifice from us.

Leaving infants to cry-it-out so that we can get a good night’s sleep is not self-sacrificing nor is it accepting infants for who they are.

Staying up with them and engaging in nighttime parenting despite being absolutely exhausted is self-sacrificing and accepting them.

Spanking/hitting, using time-out, shaming, arbitrarily taking things away, yelling, and other harsh punishment with our children is not self-sacrificing or accepting children.

Doing the hard work of disciplining (teaching, guiding, correcting) using positive, respectful, and gentle techniques such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children is self-sacrificing and accepting of our children.

Most Christian claim that if they don’t spank/hit and “teach” their children that the world does not revolve around them that their children will turn into self-entitled brats.  Let me tell you this: Children learn by our actions. Some of the most self-entitled people I know grew up in punitive households where they were constantly “put in their places.”  Their parents were so focused on forcing their children into self-sacrifice that the children never truly learned how to sacrifice for the sake of others.

True love means being willing to sacrifice, accept, give grace and mercy for another no matter how inconvenient it is to us. We must model this to our children.

Biblical love does not involve inflicting pain on children as many Christians still believe due to errant interpretation of this verse:

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24, NASB).

In order to understand this, we need to understand that the Biblical Rod was a big, heavy stick with spikes on it. Shepherds never hit their own sheep with the rod. Rather, they used it to protect their sheep from predators. We need to do the same with our children. We need to sacrifice ourselves in order to protect our children from the enemy, satan, who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

Biblical love is clearly defined as:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cornithians 13:4-7, ESV).

May we use self-sacrifice to truly love our children and everyone!

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Can Our Children Come With Confidence?

Hebrews 4:14-16, NASB:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I love this passage!  God wants us to come to Him with confidence.  That means no matter what we’ve done or how we are feeling, we can approach God in humbleness and reverence knowing He will always accept, love, and forgive us. He also sympathizes with whatever we are going through.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1, NASB).

Can you say the same about your children?  Do your children have enough confidence in you to come to you for anything and everything?  What about you?  Are you totally confident in going to God for anything and everything?

Sadly, the answer to these questions for many is “no.”  Our world tends to use threats and fear to control children. Infants are left to cry-it-out instead of being sensitively responded to when they cry. Children are spanked/hit and otherwise punished instead of being guided through problems. Churches teach that God is mean and angry instead of loving and merciful.

Treating children harshly makes them lose confidence in us and, ultimately, God.  How can anyone approach someone in total confidence if they might hurt or reject us?  I know I can’t.

I know a great deal of people who are so used to being rejected, hurt, and treated harshly/abusively that they struggle to trust God. They’ve been spanked/hit in His name and fear that He will hurt them whenever they mess up. Some Christians find the thought of someday seeing Jesus face to face and His unconditional love for them more terrifying than the thought of going to Hell due to how they were treated as children. That is beyond sad!

We need to do our best to be Christlike with our children. That means responding to our babies’ cries every time they need us. It also means being willing to help children when they openly tell us they’ve made a mistake. This does not mean being permissive as many may think.  This means stepping up and saying, “Thank you for telling me. What can you do to make this right?  How can I help you?”

Connection, as L. R. Knost says, is key to guiding children of every age through problems. Connection leads to trust.  And trust leads to confidence in us, and ultimately, God.  God wants our total trust and confidence in Him.

Also, let’s not forget the second part of the introductory Scripture. God sympathizes with us!  Jesus was 100% human and 100% God.  He suffered from humanness. He was thoroughly tempted by satan and did not sin. And yet, when we sin, He doesn’t sit up there and wag His finger at us and say, “You disobeyed me so I must spank you.”  No, instead He gets on our level and says, “You messed up. I forgive you. How can I help you make this right?”  Yes, we suffer the natural consequences of our actions, but God will help us through it. He gives us mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness.

If you read this post, you know my husband and I are grieving the loss of his mom. Again, I’m so grateful God can sympathize with our pain. I’m so grateful God doesn’t punish us when we mess up usually because we are hurting inside and that hurt can come out as us lashing out.

God wants us to come to Him with total confidence. And since we are responsible for leading our children to Him, we need to do our best to help them be able to come to us with total confidence. If they can’t, they’ll find someone else to place their confidence in and that person may not have their best interests at heart.

So, can your children come with confidence?

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Yet Another Reason NOT To Fear God Nor Teach Children To Fear

Romans 8:14-17
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

According to this Scripture, we are no longer to be afraid, especially of God. As I explained in this post, we can’t truly love, trust, or respect someone of which we are afraid.

If we have accepted Christ’s amazing gift of grace and forgiveness, then we are His children as this verse says. We should no longer be slaves to fear. Sadly, though, many of us are still slaves to fear due to how we were raised as well as had church doctrine.

Fear is not a good thing. When a child’s brain is wired with fear from harsh/abusive parenting, he/she will likely suffer with anxiety for the rest of his/her life. This is not good and can make the person feel like a failure because no matter how hard he/she tries, he/she can’t always overcome the intense, overwhelming fear and anxiety.

Yet, according to this Scripture, God loves us so much that He wants us to call Him, “Abba! Father!” which means Daddy.

It’s not easy to call Him or our earthly fathers “Daddy” in a totally trusting manner when we’re scared of Him or them. We may do it to please our earthly fathers, but it’s not out of complete trust.

Children need to be taught that they’re completely safe with us and their Heavenly Daddy. They should know without a shadow of a doubt that neither their earthly parents or their Heavenly Daddy will never intentionally hurt them.

Please use trust, connection, and love to parent.

And we, adults, should get used to calling God, “Daddy!”

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