Life · motherhood

A Conversation You Must Have With Your Child

It saddens me that I even have to write this.

It is horrifying that I even have to share this conversation with my seven year old.

Nevertheless, as her parent, it is my duty to keep her safe. It is my job to teach her boundaries; what is appropriate and what is not. I have to warn my kids of danger.

We talk about looking both ways when we cross a street. We know not to run with scissors and to keep them pointed down. We talk about how Jesus is the only way to Heaven and how hell is an awful place for those who reject Him.

If the topic will keep them safe, it’s worth discussing.

One of the hardest conversations I’ve had so far has been about sexual abuse and inappropriate contact.

Now, you might think that this shouldn’t be a big worry of mine. After all, we homeschool. Our kids currently do not take part in any extra curricular activities aside from church. Their best friends are family. At this point in their lives, their world is still small.

Sadly, even in the smallest of circles, bad things can happen. I’m going to bet that you heard something about it in the news within the last couple of weeks. It was something about family or church members inappropriately handling a child. You know as well as I do that it can happen anywhere. It has happened even in the most seemingly secure environments.

In this day and age, teaching your child about inappropriate contact is a must.

How can we even do that? As I said, my oldest daughter is seven. She doesn’t know about the birds and the bees. We have tried very hard to keep her a little girl and maintain her innocence. So, this conversation isn’t easy.

Here are a few things that I shared with her in a way that I felt was easy for her to understand. Perhaps if this isn’t something you’ve discussed with your child, you can start here:

  • If someone tells you to keep a secret from mom and dad, they’re lying. You need to come to us right away and tell us what they’ve said.
  • If you don’t want to hug someone, you don’t have to.
  • If anyone touches you ____, _____, or ____ (fill in the blanks), you need to tell mom and dad right away.
  • Mom and Dad are here to keep you safe. If anyone ever tells you they will hurt you for sharing a secret, they’re lying. You still need to come to us.
  • If someone ever makes you feel weird or uncomfortable, tell us.
  • If someone asks you to be alone with them and you haven’t gotten our permission (not that we would give it), you are not to go with them.

These are fairly simple things, but I feel that this adequately explains to her that there are certain boundaries that people should not cross. I pray that these are things she never has to think about, but you can’t ever be too prepared.

We also take great measures not to leave our kids with people we don’t know. I’ve become leery even about church folk, as much as I’d love to trust every one. My child’s well-being is far too precious to risk it. My child may not understand at the time why I say NO to certain things, but that’s okay. I have to do what’s best.

As we raise our kids, we are preparing them for the outside world. We are preparing them to become adults that function well in society. The dark side to all of that is that we have to teach them about the wickedness of this world. If we want them to remain safe, we have to be up front about the dangers in this present day. Creating safe and healthy boundaries for them at a young age can help them as they grow.

This conversation is tough, but it must be had.

For more information on child sexual abuse, you can visitĀ RAINN.org.
Life

Spring’s Picture of Mercy & Grace

I actually enjoyed an entire 15 minutes alone this afternoon. My kids were laying down for quiet time, so I sat on the porch with some raspberry lemonade and my Bible. My heart needed the calm stillness of the afternoon before the school buses rumbled through the neighborhoods and life got loud again. I needed to hear from the Lord.

As I thanked God for the magnificent weather, I thought about His creation and how blessed we are to enjoy it.

The first ones to ever appreciate God’s creation was, of course, Adam and Eve. Do you ever wonder what Garden of Eden must have looked like? How vibrant the colors must have been as Adam and Eve fellowshipped with God in “the cool of the evening.” It was an innocent, sinless paradise. Could you imagine? A married couple with nothing to bicker about! I suppose that would make for a boring reality show today.

Once they had sinned, they had to leave that beautiful garden. How disappointing that must have been as they took one last look at their perfect sanctuary!

Adam and Eve had to forfeit their beautiful land because of their sin. Sin had put a curse on all of mankind. But God didn’t take them out of this world. He didn’t send them straight to hell for their sin.

The consequences were clear. The effects of one decision spanned over all of mankind, which we can see today in the sinful nature of humans.

In spite of those bitter consequences, there was also grace. There was also mercy.

Even though they left their beautiful home, God still allowed them to enjoy the splendor of His creation. He provided for their physical needs as they gathered food from the Earth. He didn’t just kick them out of the garden and leave them to fend for themselves. In fact, He made a promise to them that He would send a Redeemer.

He went way above and beyond in blessing them, providing for them, and giving abundant grace. He even put a plan into action to cover the sins of every man, woman, boy, and girl. He gave them much more than they deserved.

There was much regret over their one foolish decision which changed the course of their lives and each person following after them. Perhaps they expressed their regret to one another, saying they could kick themselves for eating that fruit.

If only.

But by allowing them to remain on this Earth, God had mercy. By giving them beautiful sunsets and physical provision, He gave grace.

Mankind was forever cursed by their sin, but God still gave mercy and grace.

As I look around at the beautiful scenery of Kentucky – the lush grass on rolling hills, clear blue skies, every color of the rainbow represented in the flower gardens – I think that this world is still beautiful. Maybe it’s not the Garden of Eden. It’s definitely not the world as they knew it in Biblical times before pollution.

It is still a beautiful sight to take in. The perfect sunset is as though God’s hand stretched out over the sky and painted a masterpiece.

As a saved person, I know I still struggle with sin. I still have days where the flesh wins over the Spirit. Since being born again, there have been some dumb decisions I have made that I wish I could take back; small things which have had sour consequences.

In my moments of deepest imperfection and sin, God could have taken me out of this world. He could have even turned His back on me. He could have withheld provision and blessings for me. But His mercy goes much further and much deeper than that.

Yes, I’ve had to suffer some bitter consequences and learn hard lessons. My Father is a good Father that will correct me when I’m wrong. His Word promises that if we are His, we will be chastened by Him. However,that correction has always been done by the hand of a loving Father.

But I have also gotten to experience sweet, beautiful peace even in spite of those consequences. I have still been able to come to the throne of my Father and ask for forgiveness, repent of what’s been done, and move forward with the promise that He’s forgiven and forgotten it. I am able to enjoy this life with the beauty that God has crafted into every flower, sunset, and rolling river.

Just like Adam and Eve, God has still been good to me even though I’ve done nothing to deserve it. He gave His Son so that I could be free from that sin, so that I could grow and be more like Him. He helps me to see where I’m wrong as He speaks to me through His Word. He didn’t leave them hanging and He hasn’t ever done that with me.

God has been so good to me. He has blessed me in ways far greater than I deserve.

A beautiful spring day is a certain reminder of how I do not deserve how good my God has been to me.

motherhood

When I Became a Mother

Tucked away on my bookshelf is my old Scofield Reference Bible. On one of the first few pages, I have several dates listed. I wrote them down because I knew I would want to look back later in life and remember what had happened.

January 3, 2010 – The day I got saved
January 17, 2010 – The day I got baptized
January 18, 2010 – The day I found out I was pregnant with our first baby

The first and last were the two biggest moments of my life. Getting baptized was a pretty big deal, but it was simply an outward showing of what had already taken place in my heart. I was gloriously saved from a life of self righteousness and sin, born into the family of God.

Just a couple of weeks later, I took a pregnancy test which quickly revealed a bright blue plus sign.

I believe it is no coincidence that my firstborn was conceived right around the time I accepted Christ.

I’ve never known motherhood without Jesus. From that moment when my heart leapt from my chest to this current day where I raise three beautiful children, I’ve had my Savior with me every step of the way.

Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I did not know Christ. I had been deceived into thinking that being a good person was enough. And quite honestly, I couldn’t live that most of the time. Being perfect sounded boring and unattainable, so I ran the opposite way and sowed my wild oats.

I made a lot of foolish decisions back then that I am ashamed of.

But God gave me new life on the night He saved me. He placed new life within me both in the spiritual sense as well as the physical.

I became His child and I became a mother.

I was 19 when I delivered my first baby girl and let me tell you – I was just a baby myself. She was sick when she was born and I had to live the nightmare of leaving her in the hospital after they discharged me. As we drove away, my spirit was so weighed down with overwhelming grief and distress. I felt a physical weight on my chest as tears poured from my eyes. It was the first time I had ever experienced such overwhelming pain.

For the very first time, I felt God move in and give peace like nothing I had ever known in spite of being broken. Motherhood might have started out rocky as nothing had seemed to go the way I thought, but God gave me a firm place to stand. In fact, He took one of the hardest experiences of my life and turned it into one of my sweetest. My husband and I often reminisce about those days we spent getting to know our baby girl in the hospital and how precious it was.

From the start of my motherhood journey, He’s been right there.

Through each late night, teething, fevers, overwhelming piles of laundry, terrible twos/threes/fours, potty training, teaching manners, teaching to read — He has been with me every step of the way. He has given me laughter and joy on the hard days. He has forgiven me when I have fallen short again and again.

It’s scary to think what might have been if I had not known Christ and had become a mother. I was so young and so troubled. My marriage was still very new and because we were unequally yoked, we had many struggles.

But God performed an amazing miracle when He sought me out, convicted me of my lost and sinful condition, and saved me by His grace.

He completely changed a story that could’ve ended horribly. He gave this girl a new life and a new strength to begin one of the most challenging yet incredible journeys.

I’ve never known motherhood without my Savior and for that, I am thankful.