Where`s the owner`s manual: The Bontrager Family

By | October 27, 2009

Crissy and Brian Bontrager are members of Vista Community Church. Crissy is a frequent guest blogger for Kids Community Parents with years of parenting wisdom and a passion for helping families navigate how to follow Jesus Christ together. You can read more about their family at crissybontrager.blogspot.com.

I remember being so excited as the day of my first son’s arrival came. The anticipation of having a little bundle to love and care for was almost overwhelming. However, I know now, that I was not completely prepared for all that motherhood entailed.

Within the first week of being home with my new baby, I quickly felt like I had no idea what I was doing.  During the late night feedings, a million diaper changes, and sleep deprivation I found myself wondering why the hospital neglected to give me the owner’s manual for this child. This is a question that I still find myself asking at times. (My boys are now 10 and 7.) Every time I think I have my boys figured out and I am getting this parenting thing down…we enter a new stage.

I have spent a lot of time reading parenting books in order to understand the job that I hold as a parent. I still have not found any book that offers a complete overview. However, in my search I have come to the realization that God has given me all the insight I need through His word. Although, the Bible does not tell me what to do if my little one throws a fit in the grocery store, or how many minutes a time out should be, the bible does give me Godly wisdom, encouragement, and the peace I need in those situations. I have learned to lean on this verse from James 1:5 (NIV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,

who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

I have prayed more times than I can remember (Honestly, this is a daily prayer for me) for God to give me wisdom regarding parenting. I will continue to read parenting books, and gain insight from others more experienced than myself. However, I know that I will not find the wisdom I need in any manual…I will find it in God’s word!

Javelin Prayers

By | October 18, 2009

I have had the privilege of praying for my children and their school with  some friends I met while in a “Moms In Touch” group. Moms In Touch is an international organization started by Fern Nichols encouraging and empowering moms to pray together for their children and their schools. I learned the value of  javelin prayers through MIT.

Here is something my Mom, a prayer warrior, sent me when Justin started school. I believe it came from one of MIT’s early publications but do not have a source or author of it. It exemplifies the concept of javelin prayers.

As you pack your child’s lunch bag, PRAY!

Pray he/she will hunger for God’s word daily.

As your child climbs the huge steps in the bus or drives away and you wave goodbye, PRAY!

Ask God to keep him/her on the path of righteousness always.

As the day goes on and you wonder what she’s/he’s doing, PRAY!

Ask your heavenly Father to protect her/him.

As you look over the papers your child brings home, PRAY!

Pray that his/her mind will grow in the knowledge of the Lord.

As you empty the backpack and find scraps of paper, bits of crumbs, broken pencils, PRAY!

Pray that God will take any broken pieces from the day and bring healing and wholeness.

Much like an athlete hurling a javelin skyward, I strive to launch little prayers imploring God to nurture my children all day long. The old hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus states “what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer”. Your family can join with other local moms bombarding the gates of heaven with prayer for children and schools in Ohio. On November 17th Liberty Presbyterian Church is hosting a prayer and fasting event from 9 am-1 pm called Arise and Cry Out for all Ohio moms to come together and pray for all the children and schools.

Family Prayer Craft: Cut out colorful paper in shapes of leaves. On each leaf, have your family write out names of friends and teachers at school or specific prayer requests collected from people at their school. Tape or glue the leaves to a stick with branches, or place the leaves on a window in your house. As the leaves fall outside, take down one leaf each day to pray over as a family. Even children as young as one year old can help your prayer leaves “fall” so you can “send” them up to God.

Breaching the Dam

By | October 7, 2009

I wore my iPod headphones in the car tonight. I know – not a good practice. I had simply had enough of the torrent of discord flooding my car as we headed down I-270. The rain outside seemed to fuel the dissension inside. I took a moment to pray and then took off my headphones pronouncing “All of you are breaching the dam!”

Have you ever seen a dam that is becoming or has become breached? It is a fearfully awesome sight. There are great pictures of the Teton Dam breach taken by Eunice Olson at www.geol.ucsb.edu/faculty/sylvester/Teton_Dam/Teton Dam.html.  A small trickle turned into a deluge on June 5th, 1979 and unleashed disaster on many towns; the Teton reservoir took only four hours to spill through that little leak.

I showed these pictures to my kids to give them a visual of the picture painted in Proverbs 17:14. Little verbal leaks for the sake of argument can rapidly turn into spirit-killing confrontations.  Here is an example of a conversation that is breaching the dam:

  • “you’re so smelly and I will vomit if you put that close to me!”
  • “I will vomit if you continue to talk to me!”
  • “I will vomit all over you and then you will know what smelly is!”
  • “I will vomit all over myself and make sure you have to smell it all the way home!”

The creativity of the diatribe  increases with age. Most young kids start with the singsong “this is mine and you can’t  have it” while older kids may entice with “They love me best!” Regardless of how the conversation starts, the purpose  is enmity. It shows a heart of selfishness and hostility designed to cause strife. I did not want to deal with the consternation in the car, but God’s job for me in their lives is to train, even at the end of a tiring rainy day.

Stopping the breach is not simple, especially in the car where the purpose is to keep the vehicle on the road despite the surly children in close proximity to one another. We have discussed and trained for dam breaches. My kids know the heart consequences of breaching the dam and are aware that verbal violence can quickly lead to emotional and even physical damage. They know that Solomon knew what Thumper from the movie Bambi meant when he said “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothing at all.

Proverbs 17:14 in The Message substitutes “leak” for breach and warns us to stop before the dam “bursts”. We practice how to stop the seepage before the burst and choose to focus on the heart damage when things have calmed down. This is why I had to utter only one phrase to stop the leaks from becoming a full-blown collapse. Conversations about heart changes came when we arrived safely at home. Just like a disaster crew cleans up after the flood waters recede, we cleaned up the emotional and spiritual wreckage of our dam breach. We then prayed for mouths, hands and hearts of loving-kindness.

Training Tip: Make your own dam after viewing the photos of the Teton Dam collapse. Read Proverbs 17:14 together. This is a great family project for the sandbox, the beach or the bathtub.

Resource We Like: Peacemaker ministries has many practical ideas for peacemaking strategies for families.

Loving my Kids – The Bontrager Family

By | October 2, 2009

Crissy has been a friend of mine since our kids were little. God has given the Bontrager family a heart for sharing authentically what God is doing around them everyday. I have learned many things from Crissy and Brian through the years as we shared different parenting experiences within a common faith perspective. They are part of the Vista Parent Equipping Team so catch for their class based on this blog at Vista. You can read more about the Bontrager family on Crissy’s blog – A Cracked Pot:Letting God hold it together at crissybontrager.blogspot.com.

Loving My Kids

Within, the last couple of years I have watched my 2 boys develop their own individual personalities. My oldest son, who is 10, loves video games, computers, and even coming up with his own design for video games. However, my youngest son, who is 7, is all about his friends, sports, and really anything that involves a ball or running.

However, what I didn’t realize is that both of my boys feel love in different ways. I came to this realization reading the book The Five Love Languages of Children. The thought had never occurred to me that my children would need to feel love from me in different ways.  The book suggests the five love languages are: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, and Acts of Service.

I took some time to think about each of my boys and which of these love languages each of them desired the most. What I found was that my 10 year old son seeks out words of affirmation and physical touch. So, letting him know that I appreciate him helping with dishes or laundry is showing him love, or giving him a big hug when he gets home from school. However, my 7 year old responds more to quality time, and words of affirmation. He will often push away from a hug, (not that he doesn’t want one from time to time) and would rather play a game or go for a walk together. I began to change the way I interacted with both of my boys to show them each the love language that they desired.

As I began to be conscious of how I was showing love to my boys I noticed a difference in them as well. My 10 year old started helping me with housework more often, even when not asked, and my 7 year old began giving me hugs instead of pushing away. I also noticed an overall change in the behavior of both boys. Making this small effort made a big difference in the love my boys felt from me. I know my heart overflows with love for them, but now I am sure they know it too!

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, Ph.D and Ross Campbell, M.D.

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