Thursday, January 5, 2012

Guard Your Heart

In the morning, O LORD,
you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests
before you
and wait in expectation.
Psalm 5:3

Protect what is valuable.

Last weekend Ken and I stole a few hours out of our planning weekend and watched/discussed the entire Staying In Love, by Andy Stanley  - I mean all four full messages.  It was wonderful, as usual.  Our entire family loves Andy enough to sit down with a bag of popcorn and participate with the Word while he preaches!  Now that's something!

Anyway ...

Message #3 was pivotal for what we are learning relationally in our home.  We've discovered, in heightened awareness since our homeschooling journey began, that what is inside us comes out in the most intimate, loving relationships.  We "bump" each other.  Sometimes frequently, sometimes not.  Often times gently, occasionally quite hard.  And almost always when we bump, stuff comes out.  

We've been working on owning our stuff.  We've been trying to embrace as we have been teaching boys that this is all about character-building.  As a mom it's challenging not to think that all of the struggles, the anger, the frustrations, the perceptions of my children are stuffed inside them because I've not been enough for them ~
*patient enough  *loving enough  *generous enough  *playful enough  *permissive enough
And I haven't been.  Which is how it is in this lifetime.  Often-times I've had enough.   But we move through this life with parents not being enough, culture not being enough, the world not being enough.  Always in the broken midst or the broken aftermath I try to point to God, who is more than enough.  He is everything.

I have one child that struggles mightily with anger.  
He is my scholar.  My ponderer.  My seeker of questions and answers.  I'm as likely to find him reading the solar system encyclopedias as I am tracing rivers with a dry-erase marker on my laminated maps.  He wants to test before he's done the work of practice.  He'll disappear and I know to look for him tucked aways on his bed with the latest Popular Science magazine that came in the mail just before we began the work of hauling in groceries to put away.  But isn't working the mind more important than the shared work of groceries?  I just know that's what he thinks every time I haul him back to chore reality.  His sister lovingly refers to him as the Rajah...the prince.

He and I are alike in many ways.  But the dangerous similarity, the one that has "bumped" us around and threatened at times to leave scars ~ it is pride.  Pride has helped me forget that "love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres."  There have been times I have been much better at monitoring behavior (um...not mine) than guarding hearts.  

So we have a new strategy.  It's only two steps and possibly the most emotionally healthy thing that has been placed on the table of tools in this house.  And today - it worked.  Rather, the boy, the mom, and the Holy Spirit worked.  We worked our way right through the anger, directly through the pride and safely back into the arms of love.

Ready for it?

That's it.

I made a stop sign, laminated it, and put this on the back ~ "I feel..."
I made little individual cards, laminated of course (really, I have a problem), with these words on them, and placed them in a basket.
*anger  *left-out  *embarrassed  *unappreciated  *ugly  *old  *unloveable  *failure  *stupid  *lonely  *abandoned  *scared  *out-of-control  *betrayed  *picked-on  *jealous  *pride
We practice this, practice thinking about what we're feeling before we speak.  We practice identifying exactly what we're feeling.  We name the emotion.  We take away it's power.

The boy came to me while I prepared chili, with tears in his eyes and four cards clenched in his hand, and a door opened for really hearing and being heard.  And he learned a little bit today that there are no bad feelings.  Feelings are an observation of the heart, not a criticism to the hearer.  And I had a chance to speak to this perfectionist that he should never call himself bad names, like stupid or a failure.   

Lift your hands high, son, for there was victory today.
Ken and I circled some very specific prayers for each member of our family this year.  One that we pray daily is that this boy will be released from pride and shame.  And I've meditated all day on the Psalm from this morning, laying my request before God and waiting in expectation.  What a faithful God He is.

Above all else guard your heart, 
for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23

And we pray, Favored One, God help us overcome what is inside us.  Above all else, guard your heart.


  1. Beautiful as always, dear Sister. God knew I needed to read this today. Love you much!!

  2. And I love you, Sweet Sister.

  3. Hi Tobi.
    You've done some awesome work on your blog. And I can hear how the Holy Spirit speaks through your posts.
    Thanks for taking time to share your heart with others.
    From one homeschooling family to another ... may Father God bless you richly.
    And tell Sam hi for me.

  4. Thanks, Charlie! I'm excited to see how God moves as I keep praying for the venue and clarity in purpose for writing. These are definitely Holy Spirit words! I don't think you'll ever know how encouraging you were, at just the right time and place in our lives, being a homeschooling father. Thanks for being such a great teacher - and your word about Sam (scholar) stuck. May the Lord bless you in all ways in 2012. Sam says his back.


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