Nature versus nurture

 Posted by on March 18, 2014  No Responses »
Mar 182014
 

Nature versus nurture.

It’s been long debated by psychologists whether you’re the way you are because of nature (your genes) or by nurture (your environment). The debate will probably go on until the Lord comes back.

Have you thought about the nature versus nurture debate in regard to your parenting? Whether or not you let nature take its course or if you nurture your children, molding them into what you feel like the Lord would have them be?

ID-10067187

freedigitalphotos

Today in our society, many parents neglect the opportunity they have to make a difference in the lives of their children. They neglect discipline as if it were a plague. They let other people raise their children (if not physically, at least emotionally). They subscribe to the theory that it takes a village to raise children and while it does take more than one person to have an impact on a child’s life, “the village” ultimately is not responsible to God for the raising. Parents are.

When parents let nature take its course with their children, they have no way of knowing how things will turn out. Because we’re sinful creatures, we’re naturally inclined to sin. The world would say our sinful nature is nothing more than human nature and our life experiences make us better people. Yes, our failures do make us better people if we use them for the good, but that doesn’t make some of those things any less sinful or acceptable.

Our goal as parents should be to nurture our children. To grow them in the admonition of the Lord. To make sure that nature doesn’t take its course to the extent that our children are untamed like a wild river.

But how do we do this?

It’s easy to say that you should raise your children to follow the Lord. It’s an entirely different thing for it to actually happen. The truth is: we, as parents, are sometimes just as wild and untamed and unwilling to be nurtured as our children are. We rebel against any type of structure. Even in our homeschooling sometimes, we tend to neglect our schedules and take too many relaxed days. What happens? We get to May 30th and realize we still have 30 or 40 days of school left and we’re going to miss our summer break.

So while structure sometimes isn’t fun and allowing ourselves to be nurtured and groomed in a certain way feels restricting, in the long run it’s better for us and it’s better for our children. I certainly do not subscribe to the theory that life shouldn’t be fun and that it should be all work all of the time. The Lord knows I would have dried up and withered away long before now if that were the case. But when let people influence me in a Godly way and smooth out my rough spots and nurture me instead of letting me be the natural wild beast that I’d be, I come out so much better on the other side. The same is true with our children.

If we never instruct our toddlers to behave and if we never teach manners and general proper behavior, they’re going to be like untamed beasts. If we fail to teach them how the Lord would have them live, they’ll bring shame upon the Lord and upon your family. And upon themselves ultimately.

So the debate between “nurture or nature” may go on for generations to come, but I hope you’ll see that the most natural way to parent and to grow children who will walk in the Lord is to nurture them.

Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

It’s almost Christmas!

 Posted by on December 17, 2013  2 Responses »
Dec 172013
 

ID-10022743

I imagine many of you have your tree or trees already decorated and you’re ready for all of the holiday festivities. Some of you may have to travel and some of you may have guests coming to your home. Some of you may not have very many holiday activities planned. This may be a lonely time of year for you.

Because my family is small and scattered about the U.S. and my parents and brother-in-law have passed away, holidays are difficult for our family. But we’ve learned in recent years that family consists of more than just the ones you share blood with. More than the ones you’ve married into. Family consists of your church friends and your neighbors and for many of you, your homeschool friends. Because of this, the holidays don’t have to be lonely. We have learned to open our hearts and let people love us when our family isn’t around to do it. We’ve learned to so the same for others.

Perhaps being lonely isn’t a problem for you. Maybe you’re experiencing financial difficulties, as we have in the past and still often do. The holidays may be a time when you withdraw from social gatherings because you don’t have the money to purchase gifts for people. A simple ornament exchange can make you feel quite sad because you have to bring an ornament from your own collection because you can’t afford to purchase one. When your friends want to exchange little trinkets or gift cards, and you can’t even do that, it really stinks.

I want to encourage you to be honest with your friends if this time of year is difficult for you. If you’re lonely or struggling financially, you should be able to express that honestly to your true friends and they will understand completely. I believe that the enemy wants us to withdraw and he wants us to feel isolated during the holiday season. After all, Christmas is a celebration of our Lord and Savior. What better way for the enemy to rob us of the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus than to make us focus on the gift giving and the parties and the requirements to bring food and packages for needy people? The holidays should be about remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for each and every one of us. It should be about love. We don’t need to focus on the decorations or the gift giving, but instead focus on telling others about the wonderful gift that Jesus gave you.

ID-100152908

I promise you, if you take a moment and share with someone at the grocery store or at the post office or at the doctor’s office about the love of Jesus, your heart will swell with joy. You heart will look like a giant bow on the most beautifully wrapped package. I have spent many years feeling like the Grinch at Christmastime and it is no fun at all. So I want to encourage you right now to prepare for the holidays prayerfully and ask the Lord to get your heart ready to remember what the season is really about.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

~ Written by Sherri

A Worry-free Life

 Posted by on November 12, 2013  No Responses »
Nov 122013
 

ID-100184055The Bible tells us that the Lord provides for the flowers of the fields and the birds of the air without a moment of worry from them and that we can feel confident He will provide for us, as well.

But how often do we worry still? How often do we fret about tomorrow and feel like there’s no answer to our problems? With the economic crisis our country is in and the trickledown effect it has on us and with the healthcare issues many of us are facing, the stripping away of many of our freedoms, it’s hard not to worry about tomorrow. It’s easy to be scared that we’re facing trials and persecution of epic propositions. Our season of thankfulness and celebration quickly becomes depressing if we focus on all the negative things in this world.

There is one person in my life that has always shown me that worry gets me nowhere. My father-in-law is a perfect example to me of the flowers of the fields and the birds of the air. I’ve been in the family twenty-five years (twenty-seven years if you count the dating years) and one thing I have witnessed with my father-in-law is he seems to be confident that God will provide for our family without fail. This is not to say that he hasn’t had trouble in life. He has had health problems and he’s suffered from the deaths of family members. But he is an example of a person who has built his house upon the rock.

I’m thankful for the example that my father-in-law has set for me and my husband, his sister, our children, and for my mother-in-law. The example that no matter what comes our way–whether it’s good or bad–when we trust that God knows what’s best for us and will provide exactly what we need to get through that situation, He will do it.

When trials come, my father-in-law is confident that God will take care of them. And the funny thing is: God does take care of them. And that builds more confidence in God.

NanaAndPapa 061The more confidence in God we have the more God shows off what He really can do. And when He does that, more people see Him working in our lives for the good. Even in trials.

Our lack of worry—our obvious confidence in God—is an example that other people see. The peacefulness on our faces even in the midst of trials. The absence of worry lines across our foreheads. When people can sit down with us and ask us how we’re so peaceful during such a traumatic or stressful time and we share with them that it’s only by the grace of God that we can get through each day, God has proven His existence in our lives.

The good days are always easy to get through. The bad days are not. But when we build our house upon the rock and we put our faith and trust in the Lord and when we choose to be obedient to him, we’ll have a joy about us that others will see from very far away. We’ll have something that is contagious. Something that other people want to catch.

Do you have someone in your life that is an example-setter? Someone who encourages you to keep your faith and trust in the Lord? I encourage you today to look for the person (or people) in your life who can inspire you to keep your hope, your faith, and your trust in the Lord. During this season of thankfulness, let those people know exactly what they’ve done for you! Let others see that they can live worry-free!

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/pretty-girl-drained-in-sorrow-unhappy-photo-p184055

Photo of in-laws: www.kaylajohnsonphotography.com

~ by Author Sherri Wilson Johnson

No Yeast in the Bread

 Posted by on October 3, 2013  No Responses »
Oct 032013
 

517002_38589172Communion bread unlike most breads has no yeast in it. In the Bible, yeast/leaven in bread symbolized how sin spreads in a person’s life or in a church or even in a whole nation. After the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were commanded to eat unleavened bread during Passover week to symbolize their commitment to leave sin behind. Today when we make most breads for any other purpose other than communion, yeast is very helpful. Yeast makes our dough rise. It makes our bread fluffy.

Recently, I had to make a breakfast item for my Bible study group. Ironically, I was not leaving out the yeast. I decided to make my cinnamon bread. I prepared my dough in my bread machine, set it for an hour and a half, and took the dough out to let it rise for the proper amount of time. At that time, my daughter was home visiting and I was busy talking with her. As I was in the kitchen preparing dinner, when it got time to put the cinnamon bread into the oven, I noticed it wasn’t very tall. I thought maybe it would rise some more while it was in the oven. So I put it in to bake as I was chatting with my daughter and when the timer went off, I took the bread out of the oven. Guess what? It was flat. Almost as flat as a pancake. I cut into it and it was dense and thick. file3691237032177 It kind of looked like the picture to the left although this is not my actual bread. If this had been another kind of bread that didn’t require yeast it probably would have been a good result. But this particular recipe required yeast. I realized I had failed to put the yeast in the recipe. So in order to have a coffee cake for the next morning for Bible study, I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. and put the dough in my bread machine and get back up an hour and a half later to set it out to rise and then bake it. The second time around the recipe turned out as it should have because I put the yeast in the dough.

For a couple of days I kept thinking about this fiasco that happened in the kitchen. And I wondered what kind of life lesson I could learn from this.

  • How many times in our lives do we try to make something but we get in too much of a hurry and we leave out a vital ingredient?
  • How many times in our homeschooling do we take shortcuts with our kids and think it’s going to turn out okay in the end?
  • How many times in our parenting do we think we can slack off in an area of discipline and there won’t be any repercussions for it?
  • And what about our marriages? How often do we neglect to put everything we have into that relationship and then wake up one morning surprised that things are not as we would want them to be?
  • How many times are we self-sufficient and choose not to lean on God and His principles in life and the instructions that He has given us in His Word, and we expect our “bread” to turn out right?
  • How often do we have to “start another batch” and do it all over again because we took control of these areas of our lives?

1344688_24645647 The Christian life is full of trials and tribulations. The path we walk is full of rocks and thorns and roadblocks and signs that point us in the wrong direction. Just like you wouldn’t start out on a trip without a map and without gas in your car, and you wouldn’t bake bread without all the ingredients, you wouldn’t want to start out on your spiritual journey, your parenting journey, your marital journey without the proper ingredients. I encourage you to pay attention to each step along the way. Make sure you seek God everyday for His guidance in all areas of your life, making sure not to leave out something that He wants you to have in your life.

And also you want to seek the Lord to make sure you do leave out the things that He doesn’t want in your life. Just like the Israelites were commanded to leave out the leavening for seven days during their Passover time to signify the leaving out of sin, we want to leave out the things in our lives that encumber us and keep us from moving forward on this journey.

Psalm 103:17-18: But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

Photos: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/517002http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/548689http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1344688

~ by Author Sherri Wilson Johnson

Sep 052013
 

SONY DSCMy nest isn’t completely empty yet, but one chick has flown the coop and the other stays out on long flights most of the time only coming home at night to roost. So I do experience on a regular basis the empty nest.

When I homeschooled, I planned ahead to the days when I would be finished and what I would do to fill those hours previously spent nurturing and instructing my children. My dreams were to write full time and to develop my writing career. For the last few years, having reached my goal of being a published author and realizing that life is about so much more, I’ve been thinking a lot about the next phase in life—when everyone is out—and what I will do with myself then. I work two regular part time jobs, blog, review books, I’m a freelance editor, work with the women’s ministry at my church, and continue to write Christian Romance. So wondering what I’m going to do with my time now that the kids don’t need me on a daily basis isn’t an issue for me.

But it’s not all about me. There’s so much more to life than what I want. And there’s more to it than just the passing of time.

I’m a married woman. That means that I now have the opportunity to go back in time to the days before children. It also means that I must examine my heart to see if I actually want to go back to those “good old days”. Do I want to stoke the fire that I had twenty-five years ago or do I want to move forward in life just being a partner with my husband and making my days be all about me?

I decided that I want to feel like a teenager again. I want to not only love my husband but I want to like him too. I now have time to spend with him uninterrupted, thinking about him when he’s not with me like I used to do before life got so crazy busy, and being his sweetheart. This doesn’t happen without being purposeful though. Why? Because I’m human. I have a selfish human nature. I naturally will fill my time with things that revolve around me and my personal pursuits if I’m not intentional.

064Recently, we took our second ever trip without the children. This trip was for our 25th anniversary. We went back to Gulf Shores, Alabama, where we went on our honeymoon. I decided before we left that I would not spend my time on the computer working on my most recent novel nor would I spend any more time than I had to checking in with work. Although I brought a book or two to read, I didn’t want to hide between the front and back covers of those books and miss out on this time with my husband. 040So what did I do? I spent time with him. And I got him to “re-teach” me how to fish. We spent every evening together fishing into the wee hours of the night. We laughed. We talked. We ate way too many calories. And guess what he did for me. He sat with me for hours at a time on the shoreline, basking in the beauty of the surf. We spent time together without the kids. Do you know what we re-discovered? We like each other. And we still love each other.

So how do women with empty nests (or nearly empty nests) find balance between “me” and “us” when the world is against our Holy unions?

  1. Spend time with the Lord (separately and together). This is most important of all. When you are walking with the Lord and encouraging (not nagging) him to do the same, you will naturally grow closer to one another. This will help you not to drift apart as the years go by.
  2. Make it important to spend time together. Watch television with your husband even if you aren’t interested in the show he’s watching. Chat about something other than the bills or the children. Play games and read a book together. You know what the two of you have in common so start there. What one couple will find fun, another will not. Use your imagination.
  3. Learn how to speak your spouse’s love language. The five love languages are: Words of affirmation, physical touch, time spent together, acts of service, and gifts. What is your husband’s love language? Spend a little bit of time figuring that out and then minister to him that way. Remember that we often love others according to our own love language and then get our feelings hurt when they don’t respond with the enthusiasm we would. If you learn his language and help him learn yours, your spark will be rekindled.
  4. Going back to how I started this post, spend time alone exploring your hobby so you don’t resent his. There is nothing wrong with having a hobby—something that you can call your own. As long as it isn’t contrary to your marriage, that is. But wives can easily become jealous of their husbands and their hobbies if they don’t have some little something they like to do themselves.

004There are many things women can do to make sure that they don’t fly the nest when their children do and that they don’t fill the empty space with things that aren’t God-honoring. This can be a lonely time in a woman’s life or it can be a time that she reaches way down deep into her heart and digs out her “old self” and rejuvenates her marriage, her life, and the lives of everyone around her.

Beach pictures and picture of me (with terrible beach hair) were taken on our anniversary trip.

Bird’s nest: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1209474

 

 

 

 

~written by Sherri