Given Good Principles: A Lesson In Parenting and Every Day Living From Jane Austen

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Last week Ladybug graduated from preschool.  We are all very proud of her and the amazing young lady that she is growing up to be.  This child knows more about Scripture, about Jesus, and about Christianity than I ever did at her age.  It wasn't until I was in high school, probably, that I learned about The Fruit of the Spirit and The Armor of God.  She has so many of the principles of our faith down pat.  She knows it, but it isn't good for her just to know about it.  We know about a great many things, but that knowledge means nothing unless it is put into practice.  Of all things, it brought to mind a conversation in Pride and Prejudice, near the end, between Darcy and Elizabeth:
The line, “ As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit.” just hit me as I thought about myself and how I am raising Ladybug.  It also made me think on how I was raised to think.

I'm going to be honest.  I was raised with a ton of improper pride and conceit.  I was taught to think more highly of myself because of the things I did and, often more importantly, didn't do. I have thought myself better than others because I supposedly followed the good principles with which I was raised.  Yet that improper pride has gotten me into more trouble than just about anything else.  Possibly the greatest lesson of my thirties has been than I am no better than anyone else.  We are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

Quite honestly, I am a wretched, wretched being.  On my own, I am quick tempered, rude, hateful, deceitful, and many other horrible things.  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.."  The good in me is only that which comes from God.  I can know the Scriptures word for word, but unless I put them into practice, they mean nothing.  I want to be a parent who teaches her child, not just by reading the Bible with her and telling her what is right from wrong.   I want us to be a family of doers, not just talkers.  I want to lead by example and to teach her that "faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself."

The works do not save us.  "For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast." The works are a result of our faith and appreciation of the gift  from God that our salvation is.   We are not entitled to God's love or salvation.  We can never be good enough or complete enough works to earn salvation.  It only comes through faith.  How can one claim to have faith, and not want to share it? We are like a tree, and when we have the Holy Spirit within us, we will produce good fruit, which is, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

 The first fruit mentioned is love.  What is love?  "Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  Love is neither proud nor conceited, and that brings us back to these questions:

  • Are we living  like Mr. Darcy, pre-Hunsford?  
  • Do we thinking meanly of the rest of the world beyond our own circles?  This is a big one for all of us who attend church.
  • Do we put into practice the principles, the commandments and scripture that we have been taught and study? 
  •  Do we know what is right and wrong but not put it into practice, all the while patting ourselves on the back for being such good people?
I am thrilled beyond imagine that Ladybug has such an extensive Biblical knowledge.  My prayer is that we raise her to be a doer, to always put all of that knowledge into practice because that is what she has seen from me.

The Necessity Of Being Still

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Be still, or your piggie-tails will be crooked!"
"I can't!  I just can't be still!"

This is an argument that Ladybug and I have at least once a week, if not more.  She loves to wear her hair in pig-tails, but just as much hates having to be still for the process.  I can't even imagine what we would have to endure if I could actually braid hair.  Ladybug is an active four-and-a-half-year-old, and some part of her body is moving from the time she truly wakes up in the morning, until some point after we've tucked her in bed for the night.  She lives by this constant motion, and I believe she thinks she thrives by it.  To be still means to be missing out on something or not doing something that she is certain that she needs to do, even if it's just waving her arms as she sings a song she's making up in her head as she goes.

Isn't that us?  Isn't that our lives as adults in this fast-paced world, but with God telling us,
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!” - Psalms 46:10
Like Ladybug tells me that she just can't be still, we tell God that, don't we?  "I just can't stop and take the time to spend in prayer and reading your Word today, God.  I've got to get the kid to school, pick up the dry-cleaning, get groceries, pick the kid back up from school, take her to after school activities." I know I caught myself doing just in the last week.  I just kept getting distracted and never sat still long enough really dive into my Bible as I know that I need and crave to do.

The second part of that conversation that Ladybug and I have is this, "Actually you CAN be still, you just don't want to.  Telling me that you can't is a lie.  You can make yourself be still.  I'm not asking you to stay still forever, just for a little while."

It's a lie when we tell ourselves, anyone else, and especially God that we don't have time for Him.  We don't have time to read our Bibles.  We don't have time to pray.  We must MAKE the time.  I mean, how can we not make the time to spend with the God who gifted us with the very breath in our lungs each and every single day?

I happened (not a coincidence, I'm sure) to be reading that passage of Psalms at the same time I was reading in The Gospel of Mark where Jesus calmed the storm (Mark 4:35-41), and it occurred to me that when Jesus yelled, "Peace! Be still!" he wasn't just commanding the wind and the sea.  He was also commanding the disciples, who were scared that they were going to die in the storm.  I can only imagine the chaos going on in that boat, while Jesus was trying to get a little rest.  Surely they should have known that everyone drowning in the sea was not a part of God's overall plan, and that they would be safe, but they didn't.  They were consumed with their own personal needs at that moment, just as we are often consumed by our busyness.

This thought leads me to think of another argument Ladybug and I have been having lately when we tell her to do something, and she gives us the excuse of, "I didn't hear you," when we admonish her for not doing as she was told.  Again, I'll tell her, "If you would be still and quiet, you would be able to listen and hear what I'm telling you to do."

How are we ever to know what God wants us to do if we never be still, if we're never quiet.  After all, like we taught our kids in Sunday school this past week,
"At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper." - 1 Kings 19:11-12
You can't hear a whisper if you won't be still and quiet.  All of the chaos of like will consume you.  I can't hear a whisper if I'm not still and paying attention, I know for a fact.  When Ladybug was little, she spoke so softly and quietly (she's gotten over that now) that we couldn't hear what she had to say unless we deliberately stopped what we were doing and listened to her.  If we didn't, we missed what she was telling us, and she would get upset.  We got even better results when we would take the time to get on her level to hear her.

We're always going to be like the disciples on the boat, sinking in the sea, just barely above water if we don't take the time to be still, stop all the chatter, be quiet, and reach to God in His word and through prayer.  We CAN be still, and we CAN be quiet.  He WILL speak, and we WILL hear Him if we seek Him with eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand.  Perhaps, I'll remember these things myself.

Whacking Bunnies

Thursday, June 23, 2016

We are now fully in Summer Vacation Mode.  By that, I mean that at first Ladybug was terribly upset, because she felt it was the end of everything.  To her, it sort of was.  Her social life went from being very active to almost nonexistent.  One night at supper she lamented, "No more choir, no more Bible study, and now no more school!"  Her last day of school I tried to tell her how proud I was that she finished her first year of preschool, and she informed me that it was horrible.  She loved school, her friends, and her teacher and would miss them all terribly.

The first couple of weeks, we kept a busy schedule of playdates and such.  Now...  well with vacations and needing to get ahead at home before VBS next week, that has ground to a halt.   We're still getting out some and doing fun things like going to baseball games and church, but not every day.  Ladybug has taken it all quite well.  She goes to bed around 9:30 each night and sleeps until around 9 each morning.  I politely told her to get dressed this morning, and she announced, "I don't want to wear clothes today!"  I made her get dressed, though I do think her Star Wars short pjs are pretty awesome.

Almost each night after supper, we've decided it's best she change into a swimsuit, because one way or another, she's going to get wet.  She's always either playing in the pool, running through the sprinkler, or just having one of us spray her with a hose.  I'm very glad she starts swim lessons in a couple of weeks, because I think she's becoming a little fish.

Personally, I went through a very horrible, yet funny to other people, experience the other day.  Lucy and Dory are always on the lookout for the elusive Mr. Squirrel in our back yard.  They usually cry until I let them out to chase him.  They never catch him, he can jump up on fences and trees.  So when they made a big deal the other morning, I expected more of the same.  Lo and behold, I looked out the window to find them running laps around my entire back yard, chasing a poor bunny rabbit that couldn't escape.  They caught it.  They never kill anything on purpose.  They just play with them.  Sadly poor Mr. Bunny was horribly injured, but not enough to die.  He just suffered.  I dragged the girls in the house, texted Bart, then proceeded to try and put the poor thing out of its misery.

Let me just say, the BB gun didn't work.  I had to get a shovel and whack it two or three times, all the while trying not to get sick.  Finally it died, and I disposed of it - all while in my pjs, because it was fairly early in the morning.  While this was going on, Ladybug finally woke up.  When I told her what I was doing, she took it quite well, and told me that the good news is that the bunny got to go to Heaven.

That whole morning was wasted, because I was a complete mess.  I have nothing against hunting, I just have never personally wanted to to it, and I wasn't raised in the country or on a farm.  Knowing what needs to be done and doing it are two different things.

I allowed myself to watch a lot of television that day.  I watched the Amazon Prime pilot "Z:  The Beginning Of Everything" about Zelda Fitzgerald.  It's actually pretty good, as is "The Last Tycoon." Bart and I finally started watching "The Man In The High Tower" together this week and are hooked. I have an obsession with alternative histories, so even thought it's very depressing, I'm enjoying it.

Yesterday I started switching the girls to a new dog food for a handful of reasons.  Lucy, always skeptical and thinking someone may try to poison her wisely waited and watched Dory eat her food first before trying it.  You know, in case we were trying to kill them or something.  No, no.  If I'm willing to clean up their accidental bunny massacres, I'm not going to poison them.  After all, we're family.  Gee, that sounds a little mafia-ish, doesn't it?

VBS is next week.  I've already got Ladybug's crew assignment and am waiting on mine.  It's going to be a tiring but fun week.  This is Ladybug's first year of real VBS and not just hanging out in childcare and doing a little of it.  We're both excited.  Or she will be if I can get her out of bed.

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