Discipling our Children- Guest Author, Stephanie Lyon

Posted by  | Saturday, June 28, 2008  at 6:44 PM  
My name is Stephanie Lyon, and my dear friend, Hollie Carson asked me to share towards this week's topic. I live in Wake Forest, NC where my husband is in his last year of his Masters Program at Southeastern Seminary. We have a 3 1/2 year daughter, Anna Kate, and an 8 1/2 month old daughter, Abby. I, like many of you who read this wonderful blog, feel like this week's topic sums up my day-to-day life. There is so much to say, as this is such a raw topic for me; so much of my purpose and prayer life before the Lord. I just have to start by reiterating that I believe being in a place to truly "disciple our children" in the Lord's ways requires that we, first, are drawing from the well of His Word, and seeking Him with all that we are. It is crucial that we are seeking to walk in His ways ourselves, and being utterly sensitive to His Spirit's leading. Primarily, this is because almost every moment of everyday presents itself with ways to turn everything back to the Lord with our children. Assuming that we as moms believe that everything in life is truly about His glory, I'll try to just speak into transferring this truth to our babies! :)

I also have to say that I feel a bit inadequate and very humbled to be asked to write on such a topic, as this is a vulnerable place for any mom who longs to do this well. Knowing that so much of this all originates in our prayer life for our children, I'll try to just give a glimpse into the practical ways that we "instruct Anna Kate (and soon Abby) in THE WAY she should go..." (Prov 22:6)

We really believe that, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Prov 18:21), so we are constantly speaking of the Lord. From the early stages of her life we tried to draw things back to Jesus...i.e. when teaching her the word light, like the one hanging from the ceiling, we would say, "Jesus is the Light of the World," or the word rock, "Jesus is the Rock of our salvation," and follow with some further explanation. We love to just talk about the Gospel, and Jesus' role in our daily life...of course she does not get it all, but we are speaking truth and life to her, that we pray and believe will plant seeds of righteousness deep in her heart, and will not return void.

A given for us is daily Bible reading time. This has usually always happened at the end of breakfast time, often while she was still in her seat at younger ages, so as to have her full attention. Now we like to have "Cozy Reading Time" on the couch when little sister goes down for her first nap of the day...we snuggle up under a blanket, pray, read Bible stories, she likes to recite some to me as if she is the one reading, and then work on Scripture memory.

So much discipleship with her is intertwined with the way we discipline our children, but we are very intentional to talk things through with her. Because all behavior is a heart issue, and what they do, and how we respond, ALL day long, can be directly related back to the Lord.
We started working with Anna Kate on memorizing Scripture verses (of course, short ones that directly show up in daily life) when she was around 2 years old, and was more capable than our attempts at an earlier age. We started with Eph 6:1-2a, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother..." so that each time she disobeys, we can go right back to that verse about what God wants her behavior to be towards obeying, in ALL things. Or, when she speaks with a harsh tone, or in unacceptable manor, we either ask her to (or we can) refer to that verse (and many others things she has been taught) about honoring her mother and father...you get the picture.

Even this week we have really been driving home Phil 2:5, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus," as we are seeing much more attitude-related issues. So we seize all these types of moments to really teach her what God is saying to us in His Word, and constantly seek to use them as our point of reference in training and reasoning out with her what the Lord wants for her.

Some helpful tools for memorizing Scripture with her have been to print out the verses on our computer and have her decorate them before hanging them on the fridge. Also making up motions and/or acting them out to help her remember...i.e. Psalm 118:14 (The Lord is my strength (makes a flexing motion) and my song (sings that part), He has become my salvation."

Lastly, I have to mention the power of prayer with our children, as well as being very purposeful to give thanks and credit to the Lord for the very big, and the very random things that make up life. We begin our day that way, sometimes before she even gets out of the bed, at the breakfast table (more than just prayer for our food), in the car, when situations arise, when her heart is clearly struggling with a behavior, etc...And even the act of repenting to her if I have handled myself wrongly, like being too short in my response to her.

We also seek to be very proactive in giving her praise for good behavior and choices, and "catch her" doing what is right and honors The Lord, and Mom & Dad.

Basically, I believe that discipling our children is A Process of shaping their hearts, that the Lord has entrusted us to do with His ever-present help, to look like, and long for Him. Oh Lord, that is my deepest prayer for my girls.

I need to wrap this up, as I know there is SO much more to say. Hopefully I've at least conveyed our point of reference for how we go into each encounter with her. It could sound like we over-spiritualize everything, but as she has learned recently, that Col 1:16b, "ALL things were created by Him, and FOR Him."

I look forward to reading others share on this, as I am always seeking ways to do this better, and am far from perfect here. I long to surround myself with older, wiser, godly counsel on this subject (and just wise counsel for another moms seeking to do the same), and encourage you to pray for and seek that out, too.

May His Spirit empower us to lead them to Himself in every little thing. Thanks for letting me share, fellow Sisters.


Hollie said...

Bravo Sister! I enjoyed reading your post. I could just hear you saying all of this to me, as you often do when sharing about how you invest in your girls. Ladies, Stephanie is the real deal and her heart-felt desire is to have God-fearing/glorifying, virtuous daughters who love the Lord and seek to follow Him all the days of their lives. She believes her role as a godly mother is of utmost importance and this time frame of opportunity to invest in their sweet, little lives is cruical and oh so fleeting. She lives out everything she has said in this post and then some. I hope you have felt encouraged today by her post. Thanks Stephanie!

Stephanie for the Lyon's said...

Thank you, Hollie, my sweet friend, for the encouraging words. You, too, are a godly woman who loves your calling to raise Laney (and hopefully more Carson babies one day!) to be a heart-felt worshipper of our Living King. You do it with such excellence unto the Lord. I'm so thankful that we get to raise our children together during these precious years!

Krista said...

Thanks so much for your post! You have inspired me to help Lydia truly begin to hide His Word in her heart and focus on scripture memorization.

When I was in college I coached a Teen Bible Quiz group at our church. It was AMAZING to watch what the Lord did through these children when they memorized books of scripture - for example, one year we did Romans and James and most students memorized every single word of both books. I never set out intentionally to memorize it myself, but in helping them drill I ended up memorizing large portions as well. To this day the Lord uses that scripture memory in my life in bold and life-transforming ways. I often wonder how much more He wants to do if I would just hide more and more of His Word in my heart. So, all that to say, I don't think we can start too early. If we don't dream big dreams for our children they certainly won't accomplish them. You've helped me see Lydia's capability to memorize so much more than I've thought or realized.

Thanks again for your great post!

Ross and Shannon said...

I do not know Stephanie personally, but only through other Wake Forest friends (and her blog of course). What I find so interesting is the intense attraction I have to love Christ like her as a woman, wife, and mom. And I don't even KNOW her!! You know Christ through her words alone. I want to love Christ in such a way, that my boys will KNOW Him through my life and words. Stephanie, thank you for your obedience and your encouragement for me to press on in my life with Christ!
Shannon Bradley

Stephanie for the Lyon's said...

Gosh, Shannon, how sweet! It's funny how I know of you from the Seminary community, too, and have always felt the same way about what I precieve to be such a gently, yet stong in the Lord spirit. I know you are such great mom, since Jesus is your greatest desire...Blessings, Sister.

Hollie said...

Okay, so now you've made my eyes well up. I love the encouragement amongst Sisters in the Body of Christ!

KC said...

I love the hearing your hearts on this matter of discipling our children. One of my tendencies is to use the Bible as a hammer. Sometimes I want to say, "See it says right here that you shouldn't..." I fear my son will grow up hating me and my Bible if I constantly am correcting him by quoting Scripture or making him memorize it if he does not have this desire. Does anyone else fear this or have any suggestions on how we balance this kind of thing?

Rachael Davis said...

KC, I think your concern is completely valid, as there must be parents who use the Word as a holy hammer. But I sincerely trust the Lord's Word in 2 Timothy 3:16 where we're told that "All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness..."

Certainly we as mother use the memorized word of God to rebuke and correct, but we also use it for teaching and training in righteousness - like when we catch them having Christ-like attitudes or behaviors. For example, if my almost-2 year old daughter shares a prized possession with a friend without being prompted, I immediately celebrate that with the Word! "Lana, wow! You just shared that doll so sweetly, with lots of kindness in your heart. That makes God so pleased with you because He tells us in Phillipians to consider others more important than ourselves. You are obeying God when you share with your friend. Thank you for honoring God and your friend!"

When we use the Word to encourage and teach our children, they learn the kindness of God and the fullness of joy that we find in His Word. Then there is no root of bitterness when we use it to rebuke or correct them. We have trained their hearts to know that God is loving and wants the best for us. My rule of thumb is that I try to remind myself to use Scripture to exhort twice as often as I use it to rebuke or discipline. Of course I don't get legalistic about it, but I do try to make sure I'm using His Word to fill our home with joy.

Stephanie, I adore you. Thank you for sharing so deeply and well with us. Lana is about the right age to begin learning to memorize Scripture, and this post was a loving prod for me to get on with it. You are such an encouragement to me in so many ways...thank you for being a source of godly counsel in my life. You are loved.

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