HOW CAN YOU PROMISE YOUR CHILD YOU WILL NEVER GET DIVORCED?

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My mother and step-father got divorced after almost 29 years of marriage. She was 79 and he was 81 years old! I had organised with the Sheriff of the Court to meet him at the retirement home where my mom was staying in order to be there when he presented the divorce summons. He told me that in his 44 years of delivering summons, he had never before had to issue one to a 79 year old lady. He added “I feel so heartbroken. To get divorced at this age is so, so sad.” I had to agree with him!

We had tried to shield our children from most of the process but whilst having breakfast with our 10 year old one morning she asked me “Are ouma and oupa going to get divorced?” and I said “yes”. She then said “Please promise me that you and daddy will never get divorced”.

Over the years our older two daughters have periodically asked us the same question, mainly when one of their classmates’ parents were getting divorced. My instant reply had always been “of course not. Your dad and I will never get divorced!” and yet that morning I struggled with my reply. The enormity of the promise struck me. I thought “how can I promise her something like that? I don’t know what is going to happen in the future”. What guarantee do I have that our marriage will last ‘till death do us part’?
And then I thought that if I can’t promise her that, everything we have taught her about God and His goodness and His faithfulness means absolutely nothing. So I promised her that her dad and I would never get divorced.

I phoned Steve later, relayed the conversation to him and told him that we could never get divorced. I jokingly added we could kill each other but we could never, ever get divorced!
I then asked him “how can I make a promise like that on your behalf?” He didn’t even hesitate, his immediate answer was “I’ve got it covered! You promise her you won’t divorce me and I will promise her the same thing and in that way we are responsible for our own promises and those we can keep.” When he got home that night she did indeed, make him promise her that he would never divorce me.

Unbeknownst to me she overheard me telling a friend about what had happened, and I in turn, overheard her happily telling her older sister the next day “Mommy says she will never divorce daddy. She says she may kill him but she won’t divorce him!”

The dictionary defines divorce as ‘a separation’ and separate is defined as ‘to divide’.
This is exactly what happens to children when their parents get divorced – their lives, their minds, their hearts and their souls gets divided right down the middle, split into two parts and a void is created between the two parts. It is as if the egg and the sperm that created them is torn apart. Generally that void is then rapidly filled with feelings of being unloved, feelings of unworthiness and inferiority. The pain and grief of the divorce can turn into bitterness, anger or self-pity or the need to manipulate others. They can either be driven to become overachievers in their need to be accepted or underachievers in the misguided notion that ‘no-body cares anyway’.

The child also often develops a terrible sense of guilt. After all, if their parents once loved each other enough to get married but now no longer care for each other, it must be the child’s fault that the relationship has ended. Totally illogical? yes, but then you are not a child. The child often starts to wonder whether this will happen to them? Will their parents also stop loving them one day? Or get tired of them? Doubts and fears just flood in and instead of concentrating on growing up and developing they have to deal with the process of grieving because divorce is a death. It is a death of a family growing up together and the death of a future that was once dreamt of.

The life giving news, however, is that God says “He will wipe every tear” and that nothing, not death nor divorce “will be able to separate us from the love of God”. (Rev 21:4 & Rom 8:39)

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I am safe in His hands

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Deuteronomy 32:4 says: “He is the Rock, His works are perfect.” He made me; therefore, I am perfect in His sight just the way I am. I simply have to believe it!

One day whilst walking in the mountains I picked up a piece of rock. The one side was absolutely smooth and fitted into the palm of my hand perfectly. The other side was bumpy and rough.

God sent Jesus to die on the cross and as a result we are brought into His presence, we are holy and blameless as we stand before Him, we are without fault. (Colossians 1:22)

When God looks at us He sees us as righteous.
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

It does not matter how I feel. I may feel ugly, bumpy and rough but when God looks at me He sees me through the blood of His son, Jesus Christ, and to Him I am smooth, beautiful and perfect and I fit snugly into the palm of His hand and no-one can snatch me from Him. He does not see the ugliness, it is hidden in the palm of His hand. I am, and you are amazingly beautiful in His eyes because we are His creation. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10)

It does not matter what happens to me, I am safe in His hands.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27,28)

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PRIMARY SCHOOL!! Some pointers to making it less stressful and more successful

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IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO TEACH YOUR CHILD MANNERS
It is the teacher’s responsibility to re-enforce those manners

YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S PARENT, YOU ARE NOT THEIR FRIEND.
You need to discipline and disciple your child, care and nurture your child. You are not called to be their friend. They will have lots of those.

MAKE SURE THE INSTRUCTIONS YOU GIVE YOUR CHILD ARE VERY CLEARLY EXPLAINED and also give them a reason why they need to do certain things.

A father came home from work one day to find his children brushing the dog’s teeth with his toothbrush. He was horrified. His little daughter looked up and saw his horrified expression and immediately said “Don’t worry daddy, we will put your toothbrush back exactly where we found it”. As I said, explain the reasons for things!

CHILDREN NEED ROUTINE. THEY NEED TO KNOW THEIR BOUNDARIES
They need a minimum of eight hours sleep.

During the week have a set bed time and a set time to wake up. Prepare everything the day before.
Make sure that their school uniform is laid out ready for them in the morning. Check the timetable and ensure that they have the correct PE clothes, books etc. that they will need. Don’t do it for them, but do supervise them doing it.
The homework diary needs to be checked and signed.

STRIVE AS HARD AS YOU CAN TO HAVE SUPPER TOGETHER AS A FAMILY
The supper table is the place where children learn to communicate and interact on a social basis and where manners are taught.

TELEVISION TIME DURING THE WEEK SHOULD BE SEVERELY LIMITED and there should be no television at least an hour before bed. They need to prepare for school and then get to spend some time with you.
Read them a story, lie on the floor and tell each other stories. Do relaxation exercises. Watching television stimulates their brains making it difficult for them to fall asleep

DON’T ASK YOUR CHILD QUESTIONS THAT RESULT IN ONE WORD ANSWERS
How was your day? Fine
Did you have fun today? Yes
What did you do today at school? Work
Instead ask something like: Did your teacher do or say anything funny today?
Did you find anything really difficult to do today?
On a scale of 0 to 10 – with 10 being absolutely amazing and 0 being just okay – what number would you rate your day.
Avoid words like 0 being terrible as that puts a negative spin on the question.Then tell your child how you rated your day and why. This encourages active communication and teaches your child to listen to others.

DON’T COMPARE YOUR CHILD TO OTHER CHILDREN
Your child is an individual. There are always going to be children who are more organized, who learn at a faster pace, who will always look clean and tidy and neat.

There are few things more discouraging to a child than to hear “why can’t you be more like her – she never loses things”. “Just look how well she has done, you are going to have to work harder”

DON’T PANIC IF YOUR CHILD IS THE LAST CHILD IN THE CLASS TO LEARN TO READ, it does not mean they are stupid. Children mature academically differently.

GET INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL LIFE IN A POSITIVE WAY
It is paramount that the fundamental basics of education are firmly in place – should you wish your child to not only perform well later on, but also to support their confidence in themselves so get involved with their homework and projects. Show interest but please don’t do it for them.

DON’T GET INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILDREN’S FIGHTS
Short of them being bullied, stay out of the fight.

You are only going to make it worse and they generally manage to sort themselves out.Only intervene in a friendship if it is negatively impacting your child on a long term basis and even then proceed with caution. Children generally have a way of working things out themselves.

UNLESS YOU HAVE SOMETHING POSITIVE TO SAY ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER RATHER NOT SAY ANYTHING AT ALL
It is not fair on your child if you are negative about her teacher – she still needs to be in the class every day.

And on that note if you are unhappy about something please make an appointment to see the teacher. If things don’t improve then only go to the head mistress.

DON’T BECOME A MEMBER OF THE ‘PAVEMENT GANG’
This is the group of parents who meet on the pavement outside the school and gossip about the teachers, each other and the children. It is a horrible group!

ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND THE MAXIM ‘THIS TOO WILL PASS!’
Your child will go through various stages of behavior – some good some not so good and whilst dealing with it just keep repeating ‘this too will pass’.

BUILD YOUR VILLAGE
There is a Nigerian proverb that says “It takes a whole village to raise a child”

You need to start building your village as soon as possible. You need to make friends with your children’s friend’s parents and start sharing the responsibilities of raising children. You cannot raise a child on your own. It is vital that you receive support from the community.

-Take the stories your child comes home with from school with a pinch of salt – and don’t believe everything they say BUT
watch their long-term happiness-levels! If too quiet (or playing up), something is up!

-If homework is a problem: play games that teach what your child has to learn!

-Go to all the sports-games! You will meet other parents, have something to talk to about to your children, get to know other people’s children (whom you are lifting) and it’s exciting to watch your own child play – even if it is a sport you don’t usually like. You will be amazed at how enthusiastic you become when it is your child on the sports field or in the swimming pool!

-Teach your child how to take responsibility for their property and don’t bale them out by bringing their lunch, homework etc to school if they have forgotten it at home. Children need to know that there are consequences – both negative and positive – for their actions. You rob them of this learning if you always bale them out.

-Teach your child good work ethics – this begins with them making their own beds, doing the dishes and helping with house hold chores.

-Instill in your child during primary school years that she/he is a clever child with lots of potential and you will be setting the basis for a successful school career.

-Encourage your child to take part in extra-murals but also keep in mind that your child also needs time to just relax and play.

The following is an incident that changed my whole perspective of parenthood!

When our middle daughter was eight years old I was driving her and a friend to a birthday party and the two of them were sitting on the back seat discussing the jobs that their parents did. My daughter’s friend said “my mommy is a writer, a teacher and an editor”. I said “don’t forget that one of her jobs is also being a parent”. Her response was instantaneous “o no, my mommy says that is not a job that is sheer joy”.

Don’t let your children feel like they are a burden or a job, let them feel that they are sheer joy.

Children are a gift from the Lord…(Psalm 127:3)

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PARENTS!! Get up and dance…

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What we need to remember as parents is that our children’s negative behaviour/habits do not define who they are and we should not allow those traits to cancel out the overwhelming good in our children.

Our children are far more than their present behaviour.

As I recognise my own bad behaviour towards God and as I start to forgive myself I find it so much easier to forgive my children and to move on.  I find that even in the midst of the storm, once my reaction is over, I am able to dance to the music of the thunder and in the light of the lightning and that when I firmly place my hand in God’s hands I am able to dance through the storms in the sure knowledge that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose”

I can dance in the storm because I know that ultimately none of this will matter when my children and I are safely  home with Him one day!

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PARENTS OF TEENAGERS be like TIGHTROPE WALKERS!!

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Being a parent of a teenager is a bit like being a tight rope walker. It often feels like one is ‘walking on egg shells’ as we find ourselves challenged by them and the world we live in.

What is really great, however, is the fact that even if we misstep and fall off the tightrope, our safety net is ginormous!

GOD IS OUR SAFETY NET and when we go to Him in prayer for wisdom and discernment FOR OURSELVES in raising our children and we request wisdom, self-control and safety FOR OUR CHILDREN we know that He hears us and responds in love.

My all time favorite Bible verse is found in 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”. Instead of sins I put ‘mistakes’ because as  parents we make countless mistakes in raising our children but as long as they know they are loved and prayed for I believe that in the end they will develop into the people  God created them to be.

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love”  1 Corinthians 13:13

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DEATH AS A GIFT…

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In the month of December 2014, a total number of 1 184 people died on the roads in South Africa.

During the Christmas period of 2015 my family and I took a drive one night to go and look at the Christmas lights in the main street in Cape Town. As we were driving along, the conversation turned to these horrific statistics. Imagine 1 184 people dying in one month on a country’s roads.  It works out to more than 38 people on average, dying needlessly, every day.

Our one daughter commented “If we were to be involved in an accident tonight I hope that we all die and not just one or two of us.  I want us to go together as a family”.

Another daughter replied “If that happens, God will be getting five amazing gifts!”

For a moment I didn’t understand what she meant and then it struck me.  That if we, as a family, died tonight God would be receiving “five amazing gifts” in the form of us that evening.

I have never heard death described like that before.

That if a believer dies, he arrives in Heaven as a present, with people waiting in anticipation to receive him as a gift – people who have gone before, as well as God Himself.

I have no fear of my own death but for many years I questioned what would happen to my faith if Steven, my husband, died.  He is my soul mate, my prayer partner, my best friend, the father of my children.  If he died, would I still be able to say ‘God is good’, would I still be able to believe that God is a God of love?  Would I still be able to cling to the knowledge that “His plans for me are for good and not for evil?”

Over the years, as I have spent more time reading His Word, more time in prayer, more time in just ‘sitting’ before Him, I have come to the realization that “Yes”, I would still be able to say all those things once I had finished crying and wailing and asking God “Why?”.  I am not sure how long that period would last, but I do know that eventually I will come to a place that I will once again be able to praise God and find peace in my soul.

The words that He has given us in John 14:27 are not idle words.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

 

God’s gift in turn to us, besides our earthly lives, is the gift of eternal life.

“…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 6:23)

Adapted from the following blog post:  https://noelene2014.com/2015/01/08/death-as-a-gift/

http://godspromise.co.za/

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WHEN WE BLOW IT!

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“If you have failed and you are filled with despair, with no idea where to turn for inspiration and strength, remember then the compassion of Jesus.  In the power of His love He encourages you to persevere and to rebuild your life”. Solly Ozrovech

One of the most comforting verses God put into the Bible is the one that says “…though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:24) If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Saviour and truly desire to serve the Lord and live our lives as His children the following verse will apply to us “If the Lord delights in a man’s way he makes his steps firm” (Psalm 37:23) . It doesn’t matter how many times we may fail or feel we have blown it – if we are prepared to go before Him and confess our sins He says  “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  (Isaiah 43:25)

Jesus knows exactly what we are like.  In fact He made allowances for our bad behavior when He answered Peter’s question “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21 & 22)
He knew that we would need to come before Him time and time again to ask forgiveness for the same sin.

I often feel that nothing in my life changes. That I am still the same person I was before I accepted Christ as my Saviour.  That I will never gain victory over certain sins/wrong behavior/bad habits in my life.  I go before God and ask for forgiveness time and time again for exactly the same ‘sin’. It is then, in that moment of despair, that I cry out to God to give me the faith and the assurance that I am forgiven and I hear Him say “I am the One who began the good work within you and I will keep right on helping you grow in My grace until My task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns” (Philippians 1:6)

To back that up He put this in the Bible as well for whenever our hearts condemn us

 “ For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”   (1 John 3:20)

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