Santa Claus is coming to town…or is he?

Santa Claus is coming to town…or is he?

There’s no conundrum like the Father Christmas conundrum!

Should we embrace the cuddly old man with open arms? Or should we nip the deception in the bud?

Time for another round-up!

You might think it’s a bit early, but we really don’t think so – Santa is already everywhere. There’s no time like the “present” to ponder such things.

It’s a big decision.

For some, ditching Santa will impact relationships, unnecessarily raise eyebrows and damage the grandparents expectations for Christmas day. Surely it’s just harmless fun?

Others think that embracing Father Christmas is going to cause our children to mistrust us and cast doubt upon the very gospel itself – is Jesus just another myth?

These (and other) thoughts are shaping people’s opinions of what to do about old St. Nick.

The following articles represent a bunch of different opinions on the Santa Claus tradition. Some are more philosophical, some are more practical and one is really all about decision-making as a parent.We hope you find them helpful.

Have a read, and let us know your own thoughts.


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The Gospel-Centred Mom: What to do about Santa

Sara Wallace shares why she and her husband decided not to do Santa Claus with their family, despite enjoying the tradition themselves as children.


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Christianity Today: Why Santa belongs in your kids’ Christmas 

A helpful article about the historical Christian, St. Nicholas, and the importance of keeping the Santa tradition alive.


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The Guardian: Belief in Santa could affect parent-child relationships, warns study 

This is very interesting. It is written from a secular viewpoint, but argues that lying to your children may damage trust and discourage belief in the supernatural in later life. Give it a read.


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The beginning of Wisdom: Santa, Strategically 

We’ve included this post because it contains some helpful practical advice for how to encourage imagination in our children but not to lie to them.


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Crosswalk: What to do with Santa Claus 

This post reflects on children and their love of fantasy with examples from the works of J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.


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Christian Mom thoughts: Should Christians include Santa in Christmas? 

This article doesn’t necessarily address the Santa conundrum directly, it more encourages a discussion about how to make difficult parenting decisions. After reading all the above articles you should use her question to provoke a conversation with your spouse (or friend if you’re a single parent) to help you come to a conclusion.


Well that’s all folks! Please do comment with your own experiences, advice and questions. We’d be particularly interested to know how you felt as a child when you found out the inevitable?

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One Simple Question To Transform Your Conversation

One Simple Question To Transform Your Conversation

How life changes when you have children! There isn’t an element of life that’s left unscathed by arrival of a chubby, pooey, nocturnal little person into your life. It’s wonderful, but it’s also quite an upheaval!  It’s not uncommon for parents to feel like they’ve lost some (or all?!) of their identity, capacity and sanity.

Before our eldest was born, we both worked in Christian ministry as staff workers for UCCF: The Christian Unions. It was a brilliant job. We got paid to help students reach out to students with the good news of Jesus on their university campuses.  This involved lots of things: doing training seminars at regional and national conferences; giving evangelistic talks; running planning meetings with Christian Union leaders; discipling a recent graduate in the “relay” programme; and doing bible studies with students in coffee shops. As with any job, it had its pressures, but really, what’s not to love about that as a job description?!

Before our son was born I (Cathy) would rock up to Starbucks/Costa/Nero (or another haven of caffeinated bliss) ready for intentional conversations with a student about the gospel. Armed with Bible, beverage and brain we’d delve into a passage, have an edifying chat and then wrap it up with a round of prayer. There was plenty of time and space to reflect on the gospel and apply it deeply to life, with the Spirit’s help.

They were wonderful times, which I look back on with nostalgia.

Nostalgia, because they seem to be a distant memory.

Now when I rock up to a café (which is far less of a frequent occurrence for a start), our son is in tow. I’m armed with different things these days; a bottle, bibs and baby-brain are more likely companions.

3276347787_e77a287481_oNow don’t get me wrong – lunch outings with mums and tots are great fun. I really love them. But it’s tricky to have a complete conversation about anything while you’re trying to stop your child from dipping the toy train into his yogurt, or throwing his lunch on the floor, or from shoving 4 segments of orange into his mouth at once (yes he actually attempted that!)

Children are just so distracting.

So I might not be able to give you eye contact, ask you interesting questions or answer your questions using complete sentences when we’re out for lunch. Never mind have a decent gospel chat. Conversation usually revolves around one of these things instead: the contents of nappies; the latest milestone; childhood ailments; eating habits; or (increasingly commonly!) that embarrassing moment in the Supermarket yesterday.

It’s quite a change from the theology-rich chats of just a few of years ago.

But the other day I felt like I had the best lunchtime conversation that I’d had for months.

Here’s what happened.

We’re out for lunch. I have the little man with me. The other mum has her two little ones with her. We’re having general chit-chat about various snippets of our lives (when we’re not preoccupied with feeding our young in a half-civilised manner). And then my friend comes out with this corker: “So, how can I be praying for you?”

Our lunches definitely look a lot less sophisticated than this!
Our lunches definitely look a lot less sophisticated than this!

It was a game-changer.

Such a simple question.

Nothing heavy. Nothing complex. Nothing weird about it.

Just a simple question which could have a simple answer.

But here’s what’s happened…

It forced me to think about my life. To actually stop for a moment and think. What is happening in my life at the moment? In what areas of life do I need to be more dependent in prayer? How’s stuff actually going at church?

It was revolutionary! Not only was I stopping to reflect (something I rarely do now) but I was reflecting in light of the gospel. As it turns out, I need prayer for lots of things.

Then I asked my friend the same question back. “How can I pray for you?” And that, alongside some follow-up questions, led to chats about different areas of life: her marriage; her husband’s job; family life; and evangelistic efforts.

There were still plenty of moments when the conversation had to pause because we were distracted by caring for our little ones – but the general train of thought wasn’t lost. Rather than an insubstantial conversation where we flit here, there and everywhere, it actually felt complete. And it was edifying.

I went away from that lunch time elated! Hooray! I’m still capable of chatting about spiritual things. Not only that, but I was thrilled about what it demonstrated to my little boy.

Quite often my “spiritual times” are when I can get a bit of peace and quiet from my son. When he’s at the children’s group at church and I can engage with the Bible talk, when I’m reading the Bible with someone during his nap time, or when he’s in bed and I can be a part of our mid-week Bible study. But this time I was engaging in gospel thought and conversation in front of my son, despite of my son, alongside my son.  What an exciting thought!

I’d like my parenting to be more like this. I want our children to hear me chatting about Jesus in ordinary life – in the middle of a messy yogurt-smeared lunch. I think this kind of thing is maybe what God had in mind when he said this:

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

(Deut 6:v6-7)

So from now on, if you’re hanging out with me and my boy, you might just hear me ask the question, “How can I be praying for you?” As far as questions go, it’s a pretty good one.

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Stitches, scars and stretch marks. What the gospel says about post-partum bodies.

Stitches, scars and stretch marks. What the gospel says about post-partum bodies.

It’s the butt of many-a-joke and the heartache of many actual women – the loss of their pre-baby body.

We know that the miracle of growing an actual human being, birthing them into this world and nourishing them with life-sustaining milk is an epic feat!

Women are amazing.

And yet pressure from society, the memory of life before children and well just our own insecurities can make us feel like anything other than the 18-year old version of our body (or more likely, the 18-year old version of every poster-girl’s body) is what is truly beautiful. It’s a body with smooth skin, well-proportioned curves and a flat stomach.

Our body may or may not have been like that before children. But now – well it’s definitely not.

There are the short-term pregnancy changes – the expanding and contracting, the hair thickening and then falling out, the sickly complexion, followed by the “glow”, followed by the puffy, dark-circled eyes. And then there are the long-term changes, which impact us all differently.

I wonder how you felt when you looked in the mirror before children? Did you like what you saw? Perhaps the reflection wasn’t perfect, but there were some assets – perhaps your nose and your waist. Or maybe your curves and your hair. Your body wasn’t perfect, but you’d come to appreciate it. And you knew your husband appreciated it too!

But how did you feel when your tummy expanded? Did you look in the mirror with amazement or horror? How did it feel to look and move like Pooh Bear?

And how does it feel now? What do you see when you look in the mirror now?

The saggy boobs, the new weight and dress size, the stretch marks, the cesarean scars, the greying hair? What do you say to yourself when you peer back at your new body? “Ugly”, “Chubby”, “Saggy”, “Scarry”? “How can he find me attractive now? He’s just being kind but he can’t mean it.”

Actually stop and think about it. What do you say to yourself?

Maybe you avoid the mirror all together, it’s too depressing.

Maybe you are committed to getting your pre-baby body back as much as possible through exercise, diet and push-up bras.

Maybe you like to think positively and you tell yourself – “yes my body’s different but it’s amazing – just look what it achieved!”

Can I suggest another way?

We need to think about a different body.

A body which, like ours (and much more so), went through torturous pain, undignified exposure and blood-streaked exhaustion. Another body which through it’s own suffering birthed the life of others. A body which sacrificed itself for the benefit of it’s posterity.

And yet here’s the difference, unlike our own birthing experiences, this body was wounded and battered and shamed not to give us an earthly birth but an eternal one.

Isaiah 54v4-5:
Surely he took up our pain

    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.”

You see, it is through the very wounds of Jesus that we are healed. It it through his sacrificial death in our place that we receive forgiveness and eternal life. It is precisely because of his suffering that we get blessing. In short, his wounds are the means of our salvation.

Those nail-pierced hands and feet and that spear-wounded side were for our salvation. Jesus blood was spilt for us so that we can be in a right relationship with God. Jesus died the death that we should have died, so that we can freely live an eternal life with him.

So then, dear mum with an “imperfect” body: if there’s anyone who know’s what it’s like to sacrifice their body for the sake of another, then it’s Jesus. And he says you were worth it.

You weren’t just worth a few stretch marks and a few extra pounds – you were worth him bearing indelible wound marks in his flesh for eternity.  

You see, Jesus could have resurrected with a “perfect” body. A spotless, blemish free body. But he didn’t. He rose from the dead still bearing the scars from his crucifixion. Why would this be the case?

John 20v24-28:
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 
So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

So why would Jesus choose to bear the marks of the crucifixion after his resurrection, and therefore for the rest of eternity? In the text above we see that it’s in part so that the disciples can identify him as their saviour, and in fact as the God of the universe. But also because Christ’s wounds are his glory. His wounds are the means of our salvation and his wounds are his glory.

Charles Spurgeon beautifully puts it this way:

“Christ wears these sears in his body in heaven as his ornaments. The wounds of Christ are his glories, they are his jewels and his precious things. 

Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ: they are his trophies—the trophies of his love. Have you never seen a soldier with a gash across his forehead or in his cheek? Why every soldier will tell you the wound in battle is no disfigurement—it is his honour. “If” said he, “I received a wound when I was retreating, a wound in the back, that were to my disgrace, If I have received a wound in a victory, then it is an honourable thing to be wounded.” Now, Jesus Christ has scars of honour in his flesh and glory in his eyes. He has other trophies. He has divided the spoil with the strong: he has taken the captive away from his tyrant master; he has redeemed for himself a host that no man can number, who are all the trophies of his victories: but these scars, these are the memorials of the fight, and these the trophies, too.”

So dear mum with the stitches, the scars and the stretchmarks, take heart when we see your body in the mirror. Your wounds tell your birthing story and are your honour. As you sacrifice your body for the sake of your children you image your God.

But remember too, that however imperfect your body is, Christ sees you as infinitely valuable and precious – precious enough to die for.

And finally, you can take heart that one day soon, you will stand in the presence of your God and you will actually be perfect. You will stand before him with no blemish or spot, but you will be holy and blameless forever. All because of Christ’s wounds in your place.


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Half Price International Shipping – Jesse Tree

Half Price International Shipping – Jesse Tree

We’re delighted to announce that for the rest of October we’re cutting our international shipping cost in half!

One of the things that we love about Gospel-Centred Parenting is the fact that our community is so international. We love the idea of people from all over the world coming together to consider how the gospel can shape their family.

We created our Jesse Tree Ornaments to help the Gospel-Centred Parenting community to keep the gospel at the centre of the run up to Christmas. We keep our shipping costs to the minimum that we can, but to make it even easier for international community members to purchase, we decided to run this special offer for a limited time.

So, the shipping costs have been updated and will remain at their current level until the end of October. If you have any questions, please do get in touch.

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Why you should read “Adopted for Life”

Today marks the beginning of Adoption Week, and so we thought that in today’s post we would tell you why you should read Russell Moore’s book “Adopted for Life.*

When a book is described as “one of the most compelling books I have ever read” by a president of a highly respected seminary, you know it’s going to be good.

Adopted for Life* is written by an adoptive Father and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore.

Hence the book combines a rich theological grasp of the nature of the gospel and the call on Christians to adopt, alongside a pastoral exploring of the practical issues surrounding adoption. As a theologian and a Father, he speaks from both Biblical authority and personal experience. The mix of Biblical exposition and personal anecdote is what makes this book so compelling.

The book is compelling, that much is for sure. And I (Cathy) devoured it despite not being a very quick reader. But that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy read. It’s quite fiery and uncomfortable to read at times. Moore certainly challenges us to give up our own comfort for the sake of the glory of Christ and the good of vulnerable children. Don’t read this book and expect to be unmoved or unchanged as a result.

Moore doesn’t separate the theological basis for adoption from the practical implication to adopt – his aim is not to convince us that adoption is something that the Bible calls us to do, as simply an interesting academic exercise – but to motivate us as individuals, families and churches to get involved in the domestic and international adoption movement; through prayer, giving financially and adopting ourselves.

Because that’s his aim, he discusses all sorts of tricky ethical questions surrounding adoption. Like should Christians adopt on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity and how should they think about the adoption of children with disabilities and diseases? He discusses infertility, fertility treatment and blending families with birth and adopted children. He discusses the cost and practical aspects of international adoption (raising and addressing questions about international child trafficking). He discusses how family, friends and strangers may interact with you because of your decision to adopt (showing the pain and loneliness that this sometimes causes, and yet how it is infinitely worth it). He discusses some of the issues that arise from the trauma that these children have suffered and how that can impact on a child’s sense of identity. He even states quite strongly that the only thing worse than hundreds of thousands of children across the world needing a loving family, is unsuitable families adopting them – so he helps readers identity if their motives for adopting can withstand some of the hardships that come as a result.

It really is very good.

It’s thorough. It’s thought-provoking. It’s theologically rich and beautiful. And it will make you fall in love with the gospel of Jesus Christ all over again.

Click through if you would like to buy a copy.*

This week we will be re-posting on our Facebook page all the posts that we have written on the topic of adoption. Like our page to read more book reviews and posts on the topic of adoption.

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Hospitality? Have you seen my life?!

How do you feel about hospitality with children in the house?

Sometimes we feel like we need to caveat our invitations for people to come round to the house. “You’re welcome to come round but…there’s mess, there’s noise, the food on offer is exactly the same as what was on offer last week!”

Some people love to play the host. Nothing brings them more joy than rustling up an exotic meal, decorating the table with freshly cut flowers and candles, and ushering their guests into the house for happy times in front of the roaring fire.

I (Cathy) love the idea of being that person, but I’m just not wired that way. That all seems like a lot of effort, and I feel exhausted at the thought of it. Add children into the mix, and the idea of that sort of hospitality is a joke.

With very young children in the house (a three year old and one year old), it’s easy to get discouraged about our meal-times. Often conversation is stilted, the floor is littered with the baby’s food and occasionally the three year old gets naked. It’s a far-cry from the idyllic picture of ministry-bliss that I had in mind when we first had children. Oftentimes the Christian call to be hospitable feels unattainable to me, at least the “be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Peter 4:9) command feels unattainable.

Because hospitality is something I find pretty stressful and because I know it’s a good thing to do – especially for those in church leadership (1 Timothy 3:2) – I can feel pretty guilty about my efforts and heart attitude towards it.

However, this week while reading a devotional by Gloria Furman called “Glimpses of Grace” I was comforted and compelled by the gospel in the area of hospitality.  Furman writes:

The thing that makes our hospitality distinctly Christian is not a quantifiable domestic skill or quality of food, but the presence and power of Christ-like love. While the world points us to designer hospitality, we see in God’s word that Jesus is the true and better host. He calls us into God’s very presence through the sacrifice of his own body! The cross of Jesus is the greatest hospitality that the world has ever seen. Because Jesus gave his life to pay for our sin, all those whose faith is in him have been guaranteed a place in his Father’s house forever. Christ invites us to come in out of the cold, dark world and into his kingdom…Now that’s “biblical hospitality!””

I had never thought about the gospel in these terms before. That Christ is the best host ever – not because he was a Michelin Star Chef, but because he laid down his life so that we could commune with God the Father. Because that’s what hospitality is all about; people being brought into, and people belonging to the family of God. The goal is fellowship, is community, is family. That was Jesus’ aim in his hospitality.

And that can and should be our aim in hospitality too.

As we share meals together we express the gospel – that God creates a family out of people who were not family. That he welcomes into the warmth those who were lost and cold and alone. That we can enjoy the very presence of God – his Spirit given to us because of Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf.

When I think about hospitality with that vision in mind – of welcoming and including people in our little Thomson family life – I can then see it as a foretaste and expression of what it means to belong to God’s family. Well that gives it an amazing purpose, it makes me want to do it.

And then, I remember the chicken-nugget-spraying baby, the rambunctious pre-schooler, the broken downstairs toilet and my limited cooking ability and I wonder is this really what God has in mind? Including others in this? 

Furman’s words were a great comfort to me:

Every effort in hospitality must flow from a dependence on the grace of God. We look backwards to the cross to see and see how Jesus showed us what hospitality looks like in accepting others for God’s sake in order to bring them near to God. We look forwards to see future grace as Jesus supplies what we need in order to extend hospitality.”

In the end, it’s not about me, and that’s liberating!

As we express fellowship with others (those in the family of God, and those just peaking in to see what it’s like) we can aim for words and behaviour which glory in the cross of Christ.

It’s about his past grace – through his death on the cross to bring us near to God. And it’s about future grace – to give me all I need to host others in this crazy, messy, noisy stage of life.

And I’m trusting Jesus that he know’s exactly what he’s doing when he encourages crazy, messy, noisy adults and children to fellowship with him.

Isn’t the gospel liberating!

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Hooray! We’ve been shortlisted for Blogger of the Year!

Hooray! We’ve been shortlisted for Blogger of the Year!

We are incredibly thrilled and humbled to announce that we’ve been shortlisted as “blogger of the year” at the premier digital awards!

The premier digital awards seek to recognise achievement in Christian digital engagement. The blogger of the year award “celebrates bloggers who have published the most engaging, insightful and well-presented content over the past year”.

We can’t quite believe we’ve been shortlisted when that’s what they’re looking for, but we’re very grateful!

You might remember that last year we were runner-up in the “up-and-coming” category, so we’re very grateful to be back again, this time as blogger of the year. Check out the shortlist for all of the different categories here. There’s some very talented writers who are seeking to share the glory of Christ through social media on that list – why don’t you make someone’s day by “liking” their Facebook page or commenting on their blog?

We wouldn’t be nominated without you – so thank you for reading, commenting, encouraging and interacting with our blog. We’ll keep writing for as long as we feel that someone is listening, because we want God to use what we’re saying to help families remember the gospel. So thank you! And ultimately thanks to God for using weak vessels like us.

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Gospel in the Everyday: Death

Gospel in the Everyday: Death

A couple of weeks ago, tragedy struck the Thomson household.

We thought it might be coming, but it was still a shock. The signs had been there – but I suppose, if we’re honest, we were in denial. We just didn’t think it would happen like this. It was too soon.

Our dear goldfish, Sparkly, shuffled (or floated) off this mortal coil.

Okay, so perhaps we’re not as upset as we made out there. Sparkly appeared in our lives after the grandparents took our toddler to the annual town moor fair. He arrived back happy, full of sugar and clutching this small, orange aquatic creature with a huge grin on his face (that’s the toddler, not the fish).

The grin on our face may not have been quite so sincere given this was unexpected and not particularly wanted.

Nevertheless, after it’s brief life with us (and it’s significant dent in our bank balance!), we had grown quite attached to our fishy little friend. Our toddler had given him his official birth-certificate name, Sparkly, and he’d even given him a variety of other names, playing with his proper name. Our favourite was probably “Sparkelina”. Cute.

When everything went (literally) belly-up for Sparkly, we had two options. The easiest option was to head on down to Pets at Home* (*insert your pet shop of choice), buy a similar looking fish and pop it in the tank – our toddler would be none the wiser.

Or the more difficult option was to tell him what had happened.

And that’s what we did.

We decided that instead of taking the easy dodge (which might have been the right thing to do at other times), we would use it as an everyday opportunity to talk to our toddler about the gospel. We wanted to raise the subject of death, in an age appropriate way. You just never know when he might need to understand death and the comfort of the gospel in a more significant situation.

So down comes our toddler, and we break the news to him that Sparkly has died, and that we won’t see him anymore.

He took it surprisingly badly. “But I love him”, he said. “I want to see Sparkly”, he said. He even said “but Jesus can make him better”. Whilst that’s technically true and totally adorable, we didn’t fancy fishing him out of the wheelie bin at that stage.

Instead we sat down with our little one, hugged him, and spoke to him of the New Creation. We told him about the world that we’ll one day live in. The world where there will be no more tears – no more sadness or pain. No more death. We told him that Jesus will make this new world, and that those who love Jesus will be there with him, forever.

It didn’t totally remove the sadness. It never does. But we hope it took at least some of the sting out of death.

That’s what the hope that Jesus offers does. Is death still sad? Of course. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus – angry tears at this foreign thing that should not be in the beautiful world he created. He cried even knowing that he was about to raise him. He cried even knowing he was one day going to remake this world. Because death is unnatural, jarring and wrong.

But Jesus’ weeping wasn’t a hopeless weeping. Nor does ours need to be.

For those who know Jesus, death is not the end.

We didn’t get in to the ins and outs of whether Sparkly would be in the New Creation! But we did try to show our little one something of the difference that the gospel means when death rears it’s ugly head.

Gospel in the everyday – it’s these everyday moments that give us opportunity to show our children how the gospel impacts real life. They’re not always easy, but they’re worth fighting for.

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An open letter to our future teenagers…

Cathy has written a guest post for the brilliant not-for-profit company Madlug which donates a bag to a child in care, every time a customer buys a bag themselves.

Madlug believes that every child has value, worth and dignity.

Unfortunately children in foster care too often have to transport all their possessions in a bin bag when moving from one placement to another. This is degrading for them. It’s Madlug’s mission to see every child in care with a bag – which is a simple yet effective way to demonstrate to vulnerable children that they have value, worth and dignity. We think Madlug is a brilliant business and this week, Cathy has written a guest post for their blog.

Here’s a little excerpt…

Right now we have two tiny boys in the house; a one year old and a three year old. This is an open letter to the teenage version of them.

To my sons,

It may seem strange to you for your mum to write a letter to the teenage version of you when you’re only babies. Some might say it’s even a little premature. But it will be no time at all before you’ll be towering over me, and this is what I want you to know, and this is what I want to remember to tell you when the transformation from you being tiny tots to men-in-the-making takes place….

You have value. You have worth. You have dignity.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

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Marriage Matters: The Crisis of Children

Having children is a shock to the system. There’s no denying it. We look back on life pre-children and wonder what on earth we did with all our time. How did we ever feel busy when we didn’t have children?

Of course that’s a simplistic way of viewing it, but there’s a lot of truth in it.

For many people and (crucially for today’s topic) many marriages – crisis ensues when children step on to the stage.

It’s ironic really. Children are so often the focus of so many prayers, hopes and desires, and yet when they come along life can get really difficult. The potent mix of sleep deprivation, altered routines, new levels of noise and a sense of changed identity can impact our marriages in ways that haven’t previously been experienced.

This kind of crisis can be serious for our marriages, which can have a huge impact on how we point our children to the gospel, as our introductory post pointed out.

So all we wanted to do in this post is suggest three things that might be useful to you when you face the ‘crisis of children’.

Keep a running conversation

Both of you – Mum and Dad – will be experiencing a range of emotions when a child enters your family. Joy, wonder, anxiety, frustration, impatience and anticipation, to name just a few.

Talk about them.

God has placed this child in your family. He wants you to lovingly nurture them and point them to him.

But this new dynamic doesn’t mean that your marriage is not important. No, it’s as important as ever – perhaps even more so. With all the competing emotions and demands on your time, you might find it easy to put the brakes on investing in your marriage, but don’t! Now, more than ever you need to keep investing. And a crucial element of this is… talking. It’s simple, but so important.

Talk about how you’re feeling. Talk about the new things you’ve seen in your spouse since they’ve become a parent, and how you admire, respect and love them all the more for it. Talk about stresses and strains. Talk about how things have changed, and what life is going to look like going forward.

Talk!

And listen.

Listen really well. Remember that your spouse is going through as many changes as you right now. Listen to them. Try to understand them. Ask questions to help you listen even better. Do all of this even when you’re tired, because it matters.

And when you’re working through all of this, make sure you do our second suggestion too:

Pray

Pray for your spouse. Pray with your spouse.

Your marriage matters, and keeping your marriage spiritually fresh is really important. It won’t necessarily be easy, but try to do it. Even if it’s only a 20 second prayer as you lie in bed at night, try to keep at it.

Don’t let your longed for children steal your spiritual intimacy. And if you never had that spiritual intimacy, now is a great time to start. It’s often at the times when we feel most at our wits end – most on the cusp of a break down or like we simply can’t do it anymore – it’s these times that we are often driven closer to God. So let that happen. And let that happen for you together. Let it strengthen your marriage, not weaken it.

And finally:

Keep Perspective

We could say lots of things here about keeping perspective. It won’t last forever – they will sleep through eventually (or leave home!). They’re only a baby for a short time – you longed for it, try to treasure it.

And so on, and so on.

But that’s not what we mean by keep perspective. What we mean is this:

Your marriage is a God-ordained one flesh union for life. Remember that, and protect it. Your children have sprung from that union, but don’t let them drive it apart.

One way that they could drive it apart is by becoming an idol. It happens so easily. You’ve dreamed about having children for so long. They’re so small and vulnerable and dependent. You have so many happy hormones surging around. They can quickly supplant all else in your affections, including your spouse and even God.

Don’t let them do that. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Love him more than anything. Obey his command to not let them drive your marriage apart (Matt 19:4-6), and don’t be fooled into loving them more than Jesus (Matt 10:37). In the end, it’s more loving to them to love them in their proper place (see our blog post on loving your child by loving them less for more reflections on this).

One of the key things God has given you to help you keep perspective, is church. He’s given you that community to point you back to himself, to remind you of the gospel and to love and care for you.

So even if you’ve not washed your hair all week, you smell of baby sick and you have a slightly crazed look in your eyes… try to make it to church. People will understand. And even if they don’t, don’t let that put you off. Because keeping perspective on the gospel will help you to perservere through this wonderful but tricky time, and keeping perspective on the gospel with your spouse will help you together have your eyes fixed on the right thing, and that can only be good for your marriage.

So there we have it. There’s no magic formula in this post, and no rocket science. But we do believe marriage matters, so do what you can to protect it during the crisis of children.

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