Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shepherding The Lambs

I thought I would share on here an example of how totally amazing God is as the Shepherd of my children.   Hopefully this will encourage some Mommy out there....or somebody who disciples others.

I am usually leery of writing about parenting...this still feels like such an area of weakness... but looking back, I am amazed at how far He has brought us.  In this lifelong journey of discipleship, it is amazing to me how it is just consistent small seeds, day after day, year after year that make all the difference!  This planting of seeds & tending the garden of our hearts happens so slowly that we can't even see or feel progress most times.... only when we look back, can we see how far we have come!

The verse that I cling to as Mommy and therefore the primary person that disciples my children (I wish there was a cool word for discipler) is Isaiah 40:11....

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
    He gently leads those that have young.

The Lord continues to give me more depth & understanding of this verse as each year passes by.

I understand now more than ever, that it is my role to do everything I can to follow the Lord as close as that my lambs will be close enough to be gathered in His arms, close to His heart.   Lambs stay close to their mothers, you see.... so the closer I am walking with Him, the closer my lambs are to Him.  

I can honestly say, when I found out I was expecting Raymond - I felt the weight of a soul & LIFE being put on my shoulders as I looked forward to this tremendous privilege & role I was about to be called to.   I am SO thankful that the Lord has shown me these past 7 years that my children are not meant to be carried by me and that weight I took on was never meant for MY shoulders!  ohhh my goodness, every breath feels so much lighter when I know that He carries these lambs.

These past 2 years in particular, God has helped me disciple these lambs in an un-programmed, unstructured, unplanned (by me) way that has been the most beautiful & touching evidence of how He shepherds.

I spent too much the first years, praying for the Lord to bless what *I* was trying to teach my children...but everything shifted when I stopped asking God to bless what I wanted to do in them...and instead, backed off & paid attention to their hearts & attitudes & daily life and looked for what The Shepherd was already doing and how He wanted to bless & teach them!  

So what does this look like?!?!   What could discipleship in daily life - unprogrammed, unstructured, unplanned look like!?

To me, it's just about creating opportunities for the kids to interact with Jesus...and to keep my eyes & heart open to God seeds whenever, wherever.

Like what?

1 - Talking about Jesus a lot.  Simply because I know Him so well & He is the most important person to me and I love Him and He is in everything we do.  Because when there are things to be thankful for, I have to thank HIM, because everything finds its purpose in Him and He created it all, so He should be thanked for all.   And because when we are sad or afraid, I want to make sure they knew that HE is our comfort because He is always with us & always loves us, no matter what.

2 - Practicing scripture together.  To lower the bar for anybody who is trying to get their lambs to memorize a verse a week or something.... we have been working on I Corinthians 13 for months and taking one verse at a time and taking an entire month (ish) to learn about that verse and practice living it out together.

This started because I realized one day that Evelyn (age 3) had memorized about 30 books word-for-word.....and I knew it was seriously time to let The Word sink into her like that.  These kids memorize scripture SO EASILY.  I don't want to teach them to memorize just to memorize, though.  I don't want to do Bible 'studies' with them.  I want to do Bible practices with them.  So we practice together.  And I have found that I need more practice than anybody.  

3 - Read & Pray together.  I keep my favorite children devotionals & Bibles on the piano, right next to the kitchen where we spend the most time (ha!).... and at some point just about every day, we grab one of them and read from it.  Usually it's in the morning at breakfast time.  Sometimes it isn't.

I am *amazed* at how AWESOME a teacher that the Lord is.  I mean, He is seriously in charge here and is seriously after my children's hearts.

An example of what He does?

What we are practicing right now is "[love] keeps no records of wrongs".... which is just so perfect, because it's summer time and is just me or does tattle tale -ing increase exponentially in summer time!?   I'm SO thankful I don't have to plan what topic to teach them... because He plans it out way better than I do.  I see that the Lord perfectly brought us 'keep no record of wrongs' right now... because the kids have been spending so much more time together than usual and lots more time together all of a sudden = lots more.QUALITY.TIME.TOGETHER... I am pretty sure every Mommy (and discipler) knows what I mean right now. I am just amazed at how God teaches them.  Every devotional & Bible story we have read recently has had something to do with forgiveness.

We read a devotional the other morning that talked about how far God removes our sins from us when we are forgiven.   I thought I was going to teach them about how to forgive people and forget things they did wrong.... but I realized after trying to teach that lesson, that children are so awesome and do NOT keep record of wrongs and that application was actually for me.  

So then the Lord lead me to instead talk about how we can let other people's sins against us go.... just like God lets our sins go so far from us.  Because really, God doesn't confront us on every.single.sin we do wrong.  God, so slow to anger & so patient - let's so much go as He tends to our hearts.  So just like our Father, we don't have to get upset and all bent out of shape (and come running to Mommy to tattletale) at every.single.offense somebody does against us.   We talked about how to practice this for the week.  And we said:

Step 1 - when somebody does something against you.  Breeeeaaaatthheeee.  Take a big breath and pause.
Step 2 - If it's not a safety thing and it's the 1st time they did it - Just Let.It.Go.   Walk away.  Forget.  Forgive.

And Evelyn pipes in with... "OHHHH Mommy this is just like when we walked out of the store and I LET GO of my balloon and byebye it was all gone forever"

YES Evelyn YES!!  So we practiced, "letting balloons go" all day long with each other!

I honestly never realized that "keep no record of wrongs" could mean... keep no record in the first place... I always took it to mean that all these wrongs that we have recorded....we should make sure we always throw away the records after they have said they are sorry & we have been reconciled.

The more I think about it, I really am not sure who is discipling who, really.  This is so very  humbling.

Soooo I think that's all I wanted to write here.

This is all seriously not as exciting or earth shattering as I'm making it sound.   I really highly doubt these lambs are listening to me at all most times we interact with the Lord.  The kids don't jump up and down when the Lord lines it all, even though I do.  We are talking seriously small seeds here,  people.  I get good quality attention for about 3 to 5 minute increments so this is for real a calling that requires that I focus on the long term view and have radical faith that these small small small seeds consistently can grow into the most beautiful harvest!!!!!! 

Thank you Jesus that YOU are the gentle Shepherd and that you gather the lambs into your arms and carry them so close to your heart.  I feel closer to your heart just being able to witness how close you are holding my lambs to you!  

God is so trustworthy & the best, good Teacher for all, forever!!!