I have been contemplating for the last few days exactly how I would describe my weekend at the dotMOM conference. I’m not sure I can articulate everything that stirred in my heart during the conference…everything I learned…but I will try.
Some of the more lighthearted things I learned:
1. Ladies in Texas love their boots.
2. I’m still a country girl, gaping at the magnificent overpasses…and stamped concrete intersections.
3. I’m still not quite sure what an electronic toll road is, but Kim assures me I’ll find out soon.
4. There’s a first for everything, including getting a speeding ticket…ahem.
Yes, it was a fun weekend. 🙂
God spoke to my heart, awakened some dormant desires, convicted me of sin, and led me in areas as a mother, so it’s hard to know where to begin in sharing. Because some of the more personal areas that were stirred I am still working out with God, I’ll begin by sharing some of the more practical lessons.
The very first “break-out session” I attended was called “Preventative Discipline.” The teacher, a woman who has three sons my age, shared from her wealth of wisdom and life experience. She broke down a very familiar passage in Deuteronomy into bite-sized bits. Though I won’t attempt to summarize the whole hour class, I will hit on the themes that impacted me the most.
Here is the passage of focus:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Now, those who are in the MOMs class I lead, know that I’ve taught on this passage before, but this is what is so incredible about God’s word and his Spirit working in it. Nothing in Scriupture is exhaustible. We always have more to learn.
She broke this passage particularly into the areas in which we are to teach our children:
- when you sit in your house
- when you walk by the way
- when you lie down
- when you rise
And where should Scripture be?
- on your hand
- between your eyes
- on the doorposts of your house and gates
The first thing she camped on was, “When do you sit the most in your home?” Her answer for her family was at mealtime. I agreed. I’ve heard enough even from secular sources how important family mealtime is, so we are sure to eat dinner at the table together. One thing I loved about her whole talk was that she didn’t give a prescription for how this should look in every home. She shared how it worked in her home but she recognized that it may look different in our homes. In her home, she made sure that dinner time was a time of no negative talk whatsoever. She found that this brought a sweet spirit between the family members and encouraged unity in the family. I know of friends who do full Bible study at dinner. We have done devotionals in the past but sometimes we just talk to each other and bring up Scriptural principles in the discussion when the opportunities arise. Each of our family tables may look different, but the point is that we are teaching the commands of God in these key areas.
The second area was “when you walk by the way.” She said more literally, this means, “as you go.” For example, if we make a dinner to take to a new mother, we need to allow our children to help if they’re old enough, and to definitely go with us to take the meal. Her husband, a pastor, took one of their sons each time he went to visit a member or prospect. The point is, our children need to see us living out our faith. They need to participate with us when we minister to others.
For me, since my children are young, this also means taking advantage of teachable moments when they occur “as we go.” The ladies in the MOMs class have heard this over and over because I think it is so important. What does this look like in real life? I’ll give an example of something that happened just last week. I had told Drew to pick up some toys and Alyssa to pick up Drew’s cars that she got out. She continued to refuse, and I warned her that if she disobeyed then she would get a spanking. As I put her over my knee, Drew walked up and said, “Mommy, I will pick up the cars. I don’t want Alyssa to get a spanking.” Realizing that the teachable moment resided with Drew more than Alyssa at that moment, I allowed him to pick up the cars. I said, “Drew, that’s exactly what Jesus did for us. He took our punishment for us.” And that was it. I didn’t launch into a sermon or present the plan of salvation. We moved on to the next thing, but he got to hear an example of the Gospel. As these teachable moments present themselves, I always try to take advantage of them, no matter how minor they are. It really is all about having eyes to see the opportunities “as we go.”
You know, sometimes I think we moms beat ourselves up over the fact that we don’t have family Bible study or family worship time or whatever we think we should have to be the ideal Christian family. We need to stop beating ourselves up over these preconceived notions of what we need to be doing – or how our friend does it or how a Christian blogger does it – and just TEACH THEM CHRIST in daily life! And if God leads us to set aside time for family worship time, great! But let’s make sure we’re not compartmentalizing God to church or devotion time…and start weaving him into every “as you go” moment we see. Yes, you may get some groans or eye-rolls but that’s a consequence I’ll bear if I know I’m teaching my children as I go.
The next area is “as you lie down.” I’ve always made a point to do a Bible story and prayer with Drew and Alyssa before bed. I’ve felt it was important to lay the foundation for making time for God each day from the time they were young. But one thing she shared was how important this time is for communication with our children. She’s right. Sometimes Drew talks to me about things right before bed that he never mentioned during the day. His heart is ripe for spiritual truths in this time. So this section was more of an affirmation to what I am already doing.
The next area is “when you rise.” I have been wanting to start a family devotion time with Drew in the morning but he has for the most part been uninterested, and I’ve been beating myself up over that. I always spend my time with God in the morning so I thought it would be good to do a devotion at breakfast. While that may be possible someday, I realized for now I need to lighten up and get back to the heart of the verse. I don’t have to have a full-fledged Bible breakfast to speak truths to my children. Instead, I can insert a Scripture in my “Good mornings” (This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!) and in a small way point him to God first thing in the morning. I can keep my eye out for other opportunities but for now I just want to make mornings a sweet time of fellowship together and look for the “as you go” moments.
The final lesson that I learned was where to have Scripture. She equated “on your hand” with applying Scripture and “between your eyes” as memorization of Scripture. That REALLY resonated with me. I’ve been working really hard at helping Drew memorize Scripture, but that’s only half of the equation. I need to help him apply it to his life. And not just the verses we’re memorizing, but also when we come across issues, we can go to Scripture to see what it says about the issue. If Drew has countless verses of Scripture in his mind but no way to apply it, that would be like Matt’s shop full of tools going unused. On the other hand, if he doesn’t have Scripture on his heart, he will struggle with applying God’s truths to everyday life as he grows.
If you’re a mom, I challenge you to look up this passage of Scripture. Read the verses prior to it as well. Meditate on it and pray about how applying these commands can look in your family. As you do that, I’d love to hear your thoughts!