Why We Don’t Have an Elf on the Shelf

Let me get this out in the open. I’m not judging you if you have adopted an elf to report your children’s behavior to Santa. I’m not. But, let’s just say, it’s not for me.

Lest you think I’m all Bah Humbug and no fun…click around here. We have a lot of fun. We laugh a lot, our kids are spoiled rotten (really), and they are mostly well-behaved.

But when we get down to it, Christmas is about gifts. And not just any gifts. One particular Gift. One we received not because of our exemplary behavior, but because we needed Him.

So, for the same reasons I try not to bribe my kids to so the regular things they should do anyway, I’m not going to bribe or cajole my children into being good family members in hopes of receiving good things for Christmas. Sometimes they are wonderful, lovely creatures, and sometimes they prove perfectly that they were born sinful human beings, in need of a Savior.

In our home our children find chocolate coins and other little trinkets in their shoes on the morning of December 6. We discuss the real St. Nicholas. We continue to focus on Advent. We repent of our sins. We pray that Christ will come again. And on December 24 and 25 we go to church and we have a grand celebration with our church family. We eat too much fabulous food, and we give our children too many presents that they don’t deserve. However, our parental love for our children overlooks their most obvious flaws and we want to give them good gifts.

Our Heavenly Father is the same. He does not need someone to report our behavior to Him. He knows our very thoughts and our hearts. And, in spite of, and because of our behavior He sent His perfect, holy, innocent Son to earth to be sin for us.

That, my dear readers, is a gift that cannot be bought. It is a free gift.

Join me throughout Advent as I share some of our traditions (fun and serious) and glorify the most  Wonderful Gift of all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)

 

Chime in! What special ways do you mark Advent? Are you incorporating new traditions this year? You know I’d love to hear from you!

 

First Things First

Over the past few months there has been a lot of chatter about Amy Chua’s parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I’ve not read the book, but I’ve seen Ms. Chua’s interviews from several sources and read enough reviews to know that her parenting styles and mine are dramatically different from each other.

For starters, I have about four too many children to be an effective Tiger Mother.

Then, I read this article by Deaconess Pamela Nielsen, and I am finally comforted by the fact that God does not expect me to be a Tiger Mother.

While good grades and success seem admirable, and are helpful in our society, we need to be careful about making academic success an idol.

Deaconess Nielsen points out what should be our “first things”, according to God’s word:

If you are a parent, your children are your vocation and your most important calling. God sets the standard for you: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). To raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is to raise children with God’s Word, in His Church, where His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation are given to all who believe. These are the “first things” for Christian moms, dads and children.

That is a HUGE responsibility. It almost makes homework checking and instrument practice supervising and sports shuttling and private tutoring seem EASY!

In our family it is a given that the children attend worship and Sunday School every week. They even begrudgingly participate in the various choirs. The boys have been active (or at least underfoot) during the renovation project. BUT, do they understand that these are FIRST things?

As in “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)?

Do they really know, or grasp that what goes on at church on Sunday Morning, and Wednesday night Bible Study, and during time spent memorizing scripture for religion class, and time spent in Sunday School, and Confirmation class, and helping our neighbors in God’s name, ALL of these things are more important than Algebra? Or Boy Scouts? Or even sitting still in class?

And if they don’t know (and I suspect that mine don’t); whose fault is it?

Mine.

While I can claim to not be a “Tiger Mother”, I still secretly hope for all As on report cards more than I expect happy service at church. I praise athletic devotion more than daily devotions. I’m even (especially) guilty of making Sunday morning preparation time less than pleasant for my offspring.

And so, I repent.

I’ve been given an awesome and very important vocation in motherhood, and I pray that I do not fail my children.

Chime in! What has been your focus, your “first thing” in parenting? Do you think that you should, or should have changed course? You know I’d love to hear from you!