Tuesday, July 26, 2016

No Structure = No Discipline

I’ve only played paintball once in my life. I hated it.

I don’t have an ounce of tomboy in me, which is probably why God blessed me with five little boys. Paintball was a terrifying to me. I never knew when or where a painful sting would hit, followed by the splat of neon goo. By the end of the game I was shaking and I was covered with hits.

Isn’t that exactly how we mamas often feel at the end of a “discipline day?” You know what I mean. The bullets start flying first thing in the morning. The toddler chucks his breakfast on the floor. The four-year-old hits his brother. The oldest decides to enter teenage rebellion at age 6. Every discipline situation is like an unexpected, painful hit from out of nowhere.

There’s good news, moms. Discipline doesn’t have to feel like a losing paintball battle. There is a foundational tool that makes discipline predictable and productive: Structure

Before you cringe and stop reading, let me put your mind at ease. Structure doesn’t mean rigid rules and schedules that add more pressure to your day, just to leave you feeling like a failure at the end of it. Structure simply means: having a plan. It means your day has consistency and purpose. Any mom, no matter how organized or disorganized, can utilize structure.

Whether you naturally gravitate toward structure or not, structure is crucial to the mental and spiritual development of our kids. It gives them ample time and a secure environment to practice the skills we teach them. If you wanted your child to learn piano you would have him sit at the piano and practice. That’s structure. If you didn’t have any structure, it would be like having him learn to play the piano by hitting a key or two every time he ran through the room. No consistency, no plan = no learning. In the same way, successful discipline is impossible without structure to your day.

I want to give you an example of my daily structure. Every mom’s structure will look different. Mine is just one example. This is what I do with my four boys ages 6, 5, 3, and 2 (#5 is on the way). The key to a daily structure is consistency. These are the things we do at the same time, in the same place, and in the same way every day. You’ll see the discipline skills I’m able to plug into each phase of my structure. (This is our summer schedule, so you won’t see school work here.)

Wake up: The kids wake up to a small bowl of dry cereal in their rooms that I set out the night before. They are allowed to come out of their rooms after they’ve had their snack and played quietly. This teaches thoughtfulness because it gives them a daily opportunity to practice not disturbing others with their noise. If they don’t practice thoughtfulness, they have to go back to their beds.

Breakfast: Our kids have the same choices every day: cereal with milk and scrambled eggs. I don’t say, “What do you feel like having today?” This is my chance to teach thankfulness and contentment because their choices are limited. If they complain about what I put in front of them I take it away and say, “If you don't want your breakfast you can say, ‘No thank you, Mommy,’ and you may be excused. If you want your breakfast, you say, ‘Thank you, Mommy,’ when I give it to you.” When they know those are their only two options, they always choose thankfulness. We always have a special breakfast on Saturday like pancakes or waffles.

Free play: This is when the kids can choose an activity from the toy closet. They must clean up one before choosing another. We call this “Free Play” to remind them that freedom is a privilege. If they use their free play inappropriately (causing a fight, being wild, etc.), their freedom gets taken away and I will choose an activity for them - usually sitting on their beds alone with a quiet toy or book. This teaches wisdom and responsibility. They have to practice making wise choices to protect their free time. This is also the time I look for opportunities to reinforce kindness as they interact with each other.

Outside time: This time covers the same skills as free play. Since we do it every single day, they know it is non-negotiable. When I say, “Outside time!” - everyone grabs their shoes and heads for the back door. They may not come back in until I tell them. In the winter time this switches to “Basement Time.”

Lunch: They can choose between a limited number of options and must use “Table Behavior” or they will be excused. This gives them a chance to practice self-control and politeness. There is no playing, touching, loud sounds, or chewing and talking with their mouths open. Of course each of these things do happen at each meal, which is why it’s the perfect opportunity to practice. Actually, I just had to add one today: No licking someone else’s face. We keep the rules repetitive and simple and talk about them throughout the entire meal.

Clean up and Quiet Time: Clean up teaches perseverance and responsibility. All of our toy bins are labeled and they are always kept in the same place. This helps the kids not feel overwhelmed when it’s time to clean up. We model how to clean up around the time the kids start walking. Quiet time is the same everyday: Reading books quietly for 25 minutes, playing quietly in the room for 25 minutes, and then 25 minutes of screen time. The little ones sleep during this time. My 6-year-old likes to leave his room and ask for different options. I say, “No. This is what we do every day so I can teach you to have a good attitude and be independent.” I started using a timer for him in his room so he doesn’t keep asking me if quiet time is over. 

Separate Play: I tuck this in throughout the day to give each boy some space. Each boy has a different area to play in quietly. Some of my boys thrive on playing alone and others hate it. I use this time to talk to them about peace. Sometimes it’s okay to be alone with your thoughts, play quietly, and be creative. We say, “Our house is a house of peace, not chaos.”

Bedtime: The day continues with another block of free play, followed by dinner and our bedtime routine. The kids take turns in the bathroom getting ready for bed. As soon as each boy is done, he must wait on his bed and quietly look at books. When all the boys are ready for bed we see whose turn it is to pick the book for me to read aloud. I have a “Name Block” that I turn each night to see whose turn it is. This eliminates fighting over who chooses. It also cuts down on - “One more story!” They know it’s one story every night.

You can see I plan out chunks of time, not every second. This gives me flexibility within my structure. You can also see that our day is very simple. It looks like we’re just accomplishing basic survival, but so much more is happening. Purposeful training is happening. Structure frees up my brain to concentrate on the teachable moments that pop up within each activity. None of this would be possible if we didn’t spend lots and lots of time at home. Your structure needs a home base. Say “No” to things and give yourself lots of time at home to practice your structure. You don’t have to make every day a big adventure for your kids by going out. Practicing your structure at home will be an adventure enough - and they will actually enjoy it more than daily outings.  

What about play dates, family outings, sickness, etc? What happens when structure is interrupted? Think of your kids like Jello and your structure like those fancy Jello molds. Every day you pour discipline and character training into your kids. Your structure is what holds it all together. Then, on special occasions when the structure is taken away, discipline still holds its shape. My kids know that behavior at a birthday party should be no different than behavior at home. The same thoughtfulness and self-control they practice everyday at home applies to walking around the grocery store.

Structure doesn’t add more work to your plate. It takes work away. Remember how much energy it takes to dodge flying paint balls all day? Structure arms you. You go into Quiet Time thinking, “This is when we are going to practice self-control.” You go into “Free Play” thinking, “This is when I’m watching for those wise choices and kindness.” You’re prepared. It becomes a habit, both for you and your kids. The day goes by faster and more smoothly. This is called “Paying it forward,” moms. We invest our time and energy is structure and discipline now and we will reap the benefits for years to come.

What does your daily structure look like? How have you seen it benefit your discipline? Share with other moms who need ideas and encouragement!

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- Amanda 
(Also available here on Etsy!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why We Don't Punish Our Kids

In 2013, 16-year-old Cooper Van Huizen was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing his father’s gun. The gun was used in a violent burglary and the boy was held responsible for providing it. His family sobbed as he was led away to a maximum-security prison. Cold, hard justice had been served.

Switch scenes. The setting is my living room. The 4-year-old just wrecked his brother’s Lego pirate ship (with a mischievous grin, of course). Court is in session.

(To read the rest of this article, check out its new home at The Gospel Coalition!)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

After the Conference High Ends

I have to admit something right off the bat: I'm not a huge fan of women's conferences. I have nothing against women gathering together to worship, study truth, and challenge their thinking. Unfortunately, there are many women's conferences flying under the banner of the Bible that are more focused on manufacturing emotional highs than on teaching truth. They send us into a tailspin of emotions that ultimately bring us crashing back down with little to show for it. Being away from home and surrounded by women all longing for spiritual fulfillment creates an atmosphere of vulnerability. God calls us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Part of that responsibility means being extremely picky when it comes to women's conferences. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Help! My Husband Won't Help with the Kids!"

It's been a long day. Like, the milk soaked into the wooden frame of the couch and your second child ate a caterpillar kind of a day. In the middle of trying to decide what you can make for dinner out of the only three ingredients left in the fridge, you hear your husband pull up from work. As he walks into the house your first thought is an angry vent of pent-up stress: “He never helps around here!”

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dinner Conversations

Motherhood is weird - and nothing proves that fact like conversations around the dinner table.

("The Gospel-Centered Mom" Bible study is a must-have for busy moms who want to be in the Word! Get your copy on Etsy or Amazon.)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Polite Rudeness and the Not-So-Quiet-Time Strategy (Video)

Welcome, Moms! I hope this video gives you a boost for your week. Sending you love and sympathy!

- Sara

("The Gospel-Centered Mom" Bible study is a must-have for busy moms who want to be in the Word. Get your copy on Etsy or Amazon.)

Monday, May 9, 2016

My Life in a 5 Minute Video

Well, it's finally come to this. 

The "Gospel-Centered Mom" blog is embarking on a new adventure. 

I have to warn you: you are about to watch a video of a mom in her natural habitat. It's messy. It's unpredictable. And even though I didn't vacuum for you and I am in my slippers, I warmly welcome you to my life. Pull up a chair and let's chat. 

("The Gospel-Centered Mom" Bible study is a must-have for busy moms who want to be in the Word. Get your copy on Etsy or Amazon.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

46 Bible Passages Your Kids Should Memorize Before Leaving the Nest

Hi, Moms! I am so excited to share this with you. Yes, these are my sweet boys. They have something to share with you, too. 

About a year ago I created "Memory Verse Kits" for families. They sold out quickly and with baby #5 on the way I do not plan on making more in the near future. BUT - I wanted to pass along the list of verses to you so you can print out your own verse kit if you so choose! Scripture memory is one of the greatest life-long gifts we can give our children. I want to encourage you moms - start today! You and your family will be so enriched by committing God's Word to memory. 

I want to bless you mamas by taking out the work of combing through scripture and making the painstaking choices of which verses to choose. My husband helped me narrow down our list based on three things: A thorough knowledge of the gospel, Christian character, and defending the faith. We take a gospel-centered approach to parenting, so we chose many passages that specifically point our kids back to the plan of redemption. We chose to use notecards and we weave them into our homeschool days. I would LOVE to hear other creative strategies you mamas use to help your kids memorize scripture. Please comment below with any tips or questions you have. 

* These from the New American Standard Bible
** This list works well even if your kids are already in an AWANA program. There is a lot of crossover, but also more passages that help fill in some gaps that AWANA doesn't cover. 
*** "Passage" refers to consecutive verses. There are actually 72 individual verses in this list. 

Please print them, share them, pin them...from my heart to yours! 


Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1-3 
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.

Psalm 100:3
Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Jeremiah 32:17 
Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.

Colossians 1:16 
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

God’s Word

2 Timothy 3:16-17 
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Psalm 19:7- 8 
The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalm 119:105 
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.

Hebrews 4:12 
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.


Ephesians 2:8-9 
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

John 14:6 
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

John 3:16 
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Titus 3:5 
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 11:1 
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Romans Road

Romans 3:23 
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Roman 6:23 
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9 
That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 5:1 
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Confession and Forgiveness

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 51:10 
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 32:5 
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.


Matthew 6:9-10 
Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:11-13 
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Romans 8:26
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Loving Others

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Luke 10:27
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. 

Romans 12:9-10
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.

Matthew 7:12
In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

James 1:19
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Ephesians 6:10 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 

Ephesians 6:11
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

Ephesians 6:13
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 

Ephesians 6:14
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. 

Ephesians 6:15
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 

Ephesians 6:16
in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  

Ephesians 6:17
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:18
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.

God’s Sovereignty

Ephesians 1:4-5
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

Romans 9:15-16
For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

John 10:28-29
And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Psalm 139:16
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.

Isaiah 45:7 
The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity;

I am the Lord who does all these.

Trusting God 

Proverbs 3:5-6 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 26:4
Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.

Psalm 32:7 
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. 

New Life in Christ 

Ephesians 5:8 
For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.

Colossians 3:1-3
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Galatians 2:20 
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

"The Gospel-Centered Mom" Bible study is a must-have for busy moms who want to be in the Word. Get your copy on Etsy or Amazon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Your Husband's Love Language - Translated

Recently I came across a thread on Facebook discussing practical ways busy moms can bless their husbands. I scrolled through the comments, expecting to find the typical list of easy ways to keep a man happy. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. Instead I read comment after comment about genuine love. Selfless love. Love that was willing to go the extra mile.

Without even realizing it these women were drawing a line in the sand between two words that can make or break a good relationship with our husbands: The difference between pacifying and preferring our husbands. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Problem with Reward Charts

Kids love reward charts. Parents love reward charts. Charts keep things simple and objective. They are motivating, fun, and effective.

Unfortunately, it might be time to give them up.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kids in Big Church

A couple weeks ago I posted this photo on the The Gospel-Centered Mom Facebook page. A friend had taken it while visiting another church. 

I was floored by the flood of responses. 

Yes, there was controversy. Most parents feel strongly about the topic. But overwhelmingly the responses reflected encouraged moms. It was like a huge weight had been lifted. I credit that feeling to two profound truths that were acknowledged in this simple brochure:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Life as a Human Sponge

All day I absorb. I absorb my kids’ tears. I absorb their kisses. I absorb the mess of the house. I absorb the fatigue of the same old discipline situations. I absorb the tedious preparations of feeding, clothing, teaching…and I absorb my best laid plans flying out the window because of unforeseen changes. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Problem with Praying for Our Kids

My Prayer Problem 

It's true. I have a prayer problem. Instead of letting prayer draw me closer to God sometimes I let it take me down winding paths of worry. “Let’s see. What should I pray about for my kids? Well, let’s start with all the things that could go wrong. That sounds logical.” Like the disciple Peter I start to focus on the waves instead of the Savior - waves, I might add, that haven’t even happened yet and probably never will.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The 50/50 Marriage: Why it Doesn't Work

A Crazy Marriage? 

I recently saw something on TV that made my jaw drop. It was a blonde, fresh-faced young woman boldly sharing on a talk show with the whole world that she served her husband in every way, every day. “I make love to my husband whenever he wants. When he gets home from work I have a hot meal waiting for him. I don’t expect him to do any housework at all. It’s my job to care for him and I love it.” From the look on her face you knew that Courtney Joseph, author of "Women Living Well," meant what she was saying. The faces of the women in the audience were harder to read. There was a mixture of surprise, pity, respect, and definitely confusion.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Moms Who Build, Moms Who Destroy (How to Tell the Difference)

I'm in the Lego phase. Since I have four boys I think I will be in the Lego phase for...the next 107 years. Right now the boys are 6, 4, 3, and 2 so their definition of "building" is very broad. They can work on Legos for an hour and by the time they're done I still have no idea what they made. To me there is very little difference between their treasured spaceships and the mound of creations they destroyed and tossed aside. 

But to them there is a huge difference. I can tell because when one brother wrecks a precious jumble of mismatched blocks, the other brother wails in agony. They are either building or destroying and they know the difference.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

When Mamas Worship Productivity

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m one of those people. You know, the really annoying ones you can never just sit and watch a movie with because they have to be working on something while they watch it. Relaxing for me means doing something productive. I was born with caffeine in my blood. I multitask to the extreme.

I just love to get stuff done.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Favorite Christmas Tradition: Prayer Cards

Moms, I'm convinced one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is prayer. Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily grind of meals, laundry, and disciplining that we forget to take a step back and evaluate: "How is my child doing? What are his strengths and weaknesses? How can I pray for his developing character?" 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Parents: Stop Expecting Your Kids to Obey

Yesterday I had a standoff with a three-year-old. I had just told him to sit on the couch and think about how he could be more gentle with his little brother. He folded his arms and said, “I will not think about anything.”

I was momentarily speechless. I wasn’t used to him talking to me that way. He was a pretty laid-back kid. And, after all, that kind of disrespect is not part of our home. He should know better…

…shouldn’t he? 

I had to catch myself. No, he does not know better. He, like all of us, was born with a sinful heart. If gone unchecked that sin is ready to show itself at every possible opportunity. 

I also had to remind myself: That kind of disrespect most certainly is part of our home - because our home is filled with sinners.

Parents, we have to expect our kids to disobey. They do not come to us as perfect little angels and they don’t come to us neutral. They come to us with a heart problem. And God has given us, their parents, the job of training those hearts. 

My son was not off the hook for his disrespectful answer - but more importantly, neither was Mommy. I had a job to do. My son was doing what came naturally to him - disobeying. It was up to me to show him how to obey.

Most Christian parents would claim to have high expectations of obedience for their children. It’s easy to forget that the burden of those expectations falls on us as the parents. Expecting our kids to obey starts with expecting ourselves to do something about their disobedience. They don’t know better. We do.

If we don’t expect our kids to disobey we will be caught off guard when it happens and we will respond in one of two ways: 

1. Anger and frustration. Think about the last blow up you had at the kids. Most likely they had done something disobedient, destructive, or just plain foolish. I remember telling my six-year-old last week in a moment of frustration, “I never thought to tell you not to cut my tube of toothpaste open with scissors. I can’t make a rule about EVERYTHING. You know what’s right and what’s wrong!”

But, no, he doesn’t. That’s why he has Mom and Dad. We are his beacon in the darkness, showing him the way to life and peace. I need to be prepared, not angry. My training should always be done in gentleness and patience, knowing that my son and I share the common problem of sin. If my Savior was tempted in all things as I am so that He can show me grace (Hebrews 4:15), how could I not show that same grace to my son? That doesn’t mean excusing sin, but handling it with gentleness. 

2. Oblivious parenting. At a birthday party a couple years ago I saw a mom tell her son not to eat anymore cookies. She went back to talking to her friends - and he went right back to eating cookies. 

Do we sometimes expect our kids to obey, but don’t expect ourselves to have to put forth the necessary effort to train them? It would be nice if giving an order was enough, but it’s not. We have to show our kids how to obey and be ready to show them what happens when they don’t obey.

These are training years, parents. We are in the trenches. Yes, we will miss out on conversations with our friends. We might have to suddenly hang up the phone or pull over the car. We have to parent with the expectation that our kids will disobey and it is up to us to step in immediately and train them. Obedience does not happen naturally.

There is a beautiful parallel between God’s parenting and our parenting. God knows we are sinners, but He does not treat us as our sins deserve because we are His beloved children (psalm 103:10). However, if He lets our sin go unchecked, He would not be a loving Father. He disciplines out of love (Hebrews 12:6).

When we expect our kids to disobey we are able to strike that balance of grace and discipline. We should not get angry and frustrated, but we must also not become passive.

Do you have a short fuse when your kids disobey? Remember that they are sinners in need of grace, just like you. 

Do you take a passive approach to parenting, assuming your kids are obeying you, or at least obeying “good enough?” Remember that they are sinners and sin requires action. Since they are too young and foolish to handle it themselves, their precious lives are in your hands.

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Photo credit: http://www.fullredneck.com/26-pictures-that-will-make-you-not-want-to-have-kids/