A Trip to the Woodshed

In September while I was working out in our basement, I started feeling very light-headed and laid down on the floor until I felt better. I resumed my workout, but again I became light-headed. I decided to quit exercising, heading upstairs to grab a bite of breakfast figuring that was what was needed. After eating a piece of bread, I still wasn’t feeling well so I sat down in the living room for a few minutes. When that didn’t help, I went to my desk in the basement to see if I could get some work done in spite of how I felt.

After walking down the stairs, I felt horrible. While sitting in my office, the room started “spinning.” Even as a child, I did not appreciate those merry-go-round rides that gave this sort of experience. I soon opted for the floor until the dizziness passed. Unfortunately, the floor didn’t help, and I found that the only way to stop the spinning was to lie perfectly still with my eyes closed.

About this time, one of the children discovered his dad in a position he was not accustomed to seeing him. Talking was uncomfortable, but I managed to tell him what was happening and that I was “fine” as long as I didn’t move or open my eyes. I didn’t like how I felt, to put it mildly, but I had perfect peace and even a sense of praise for Jesus while I laid there.

It was not long before Teri arrived and had no little concern regarding the situation. I told her I would be okay but needed to stay where I was for a time. After about an hour and still not improving, I realized that I might be in this condition for quite awhile. Considering the main bathroom was upstairs at the opposite end of the house, I felt that I should move up there since it would be a better place to weather this unpleasant experience.

I told Teri what I intended to do and asked her to get me “something” because I knew I was in for–well let’s say a significant and prolonged stomach cleansing experience. She fulfilled my request, and I slowly worked myself to my knees. I don’t want to belabor this description, but with my eyes closed and only being able to crawl one “step” at a time, it took an hour to move upstairs to the main bathroom where Teri had put a small mattress down for me.

Once there, I spent the next twenty-four hours on the bathroom floor with my eyes closed. The following day, I was able to move enough to lean on Teri as she helped me slow step by slow step into bed. Over the next few days, my balance improved a bit each day. My family had quickly grown used to seeing me steady myself with a hand on the wall as I walked down the hallway. It was humbling to need assistance just to get around.

The doctor encouraged me to have an MRI, and thankfully that turned out negative. He had no medical explanation for what happened. However, in my heart, I believe I know the cause. I share this so that God may use it in your lives as I would rather not have to admit it.

I feel that God used my vertigo experience to chasten me. I had made a vow at one time to the Lord not to do something. I know vows are very serious, and that is why I made it. There was something I had felt the Lord impressing me not to do, but since it wasn’t a sin, or something spoken against in Scripture, I was resistant not to do it. Finally, I felt God’s leading so strongly, I decided to make a vow to be certain I wouldn’t do it any more.

As you might guess, the day before the vertigo attack, I “slipped.” In a moment of weakness, I had broken my vow. Many will think this is crazy, but I would encourage us that if we are God’s children, He does chasten. I strongly believe that I have experienced His chastening several times since being a Christian, and I would be thrilled if He never had to chasten me again.

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not” (Hebrews 12:5-7)?

Are we children of God? Have we placed our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and confessed Him (Romans 10:9-10)? If so, we can expect chastening for disobedience. Thankfully, God doesn’t chasten every time we disobey. “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4)? Praise God, He most often forbears. However, when necessary He chastens.

Hebrews 12:8 goes on to say that if someone hasn’t been chastened, he isn’t a true child of God. If we confess that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we can expect chastening at times. However, there is good fruit that will be harvested if we will learn from it. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). What is sad, though, is if a dad is being chastened but doesn’t recognize his chastening. He is missing out on the opportunity to grow through it. The consequences are there without the blessing of growth that should follow the chastening. Even worse, since Dad isn’t learning from his wrong choices, he is going to be chastened again in the future.

To add more pain to all of this, when Dad is chastened, the whole family generally suffers in some way too. For example, while I was sick, my family was quite concerned for me. My chastening caused them unnecessary anxiety. When God uses a man’s finances to discipline him, the whole family experiences the consequences with him.

Over the last couple of months, I have spoken with two individuals at the homeless mission where we minister once a month. These men both shared stories with me that I believe illustrate my point.

One man had broken his neck several months earlier and was paralyzed for eight weeks. He looked me in the eyes declaring that he knew God had used it to chasten him, and he was glad. He told me that he had not been living like the Lord wanted him to live and that God finally had said “Enough!”

Another man explained how he had good Christian parents (we hear that very often from the homeless men), and in spite of his salvation, he chose to live disobediently. One night after leaving a bar, he knelt down on the sidewalk to tie his shoe. That is the last thing he remembers. A drunk driver hit him, and he spent weeks in the hospital recovering. He, too, was thankful that God had chastened him.

When there is time in my Preparing Sons workshop, I will tell another example from my life of the Lord chastening me financially while we were living in Washington. I wish I would learn more quickly, but I praise God that eventually I catch on to what He is trying to tell me.

I know that everything bad that happens is not chastening, and I am not implying that it is. There are the storms of life that come our way that have nothing to do with God’s discipline. These other storms of hardship He can use for our good as well. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). For example, we have found that just prior to printing a new book or going to a conference, it seems like the sky caves in on us. I’m not one to look for the devil under every rock, but those times definitely affirm our greatest struggle and our need to rest in Jesus. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

May we be sure to examine ourselves when any trouble does come our way. I’m not saying we are to go about life worrying that everything negative that happens is God beating on us, and we have no peace or joy because we are always anxious. However, it is a good thing to have our hearts turned toward the Lord and ask Him to examine us in case there is something that He is chastening us over. It is a Scriptural reality that the Lord chastens His children.

God’s primary purpose in chastening us appears to be regarding relationship issues and holiness (Hebrews 12:10,14). Certainly the two primary relationships each dad has is with the Lord and with his wife. Do I have a carnal fleshly focus, or am I seeking Jesus with all my heart? How am I treating my wife? Is it with respect, love, and gentleness as a weaker vessel, or do I take advantage of her, piling on heavy burdens, not listening to her when she shares her struggles?

Dads, be warned. God will most definitely chasten the man who is insensitive toward his wife’s pleas. If we are in trouble and feel like our prayers are not heard, then may the words of 1 Peter 3:7 ring in our ears, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

“And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage” (Exodus 2:23). May we never deceive ourselves. God hears the cries of those who are oppressed. We are not at liberty to share details, but the stories we regularly and often hear from many Christian moms would probably shock you. Heartbroken and desperate for direction, these moms are crying out for help. Their words reveal that they are married to selfish, thoughtless, unloving, and uncaring husbands. From what I read, these husbands might even be highly respected in the churches they attend. God sees, and He hears the cries of those in need, including hurting wives. He is not slack to chasten. His eye sees everything we do and think. Since Dad is the head of the home, Dad is the one whom God holds accountable for everything in the home.

May each of us ask God to examine us and show us our sin. May we love our wives as ourselves. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:28). As homeschooling dads, we owe our wives our unending gratitude and love. May we bless them and not curse them. May we be the spiritual leaders that God calls us to be and that our wives deserve. Lord Jesus, give us Your grace daily, and if needed, Lord, discipline us for the sake of our wives and children. Amen.

Posted in: Dad's Corner

What About Me? – Part 5

It seemed a fitting conclusion to the Mom’s Corner series “What About Me?” would be to let you read a story from a mom who personally experienced both sides of the question we have been considering. If you haven’t read the other articles, please do so. This story was sent to me in response to one of the earlier “What About Me?” articles in this series. To understand the whole heart and intention of what this mom is sharing, it is important that you read those previous Corners as well.

Story from a Homeschool Mom:
I wanted to tell you a little story along the lines of that to which you have been referring in the Mom’s Corners–the worldly advice we get.

Several years ago, I had an e-mail conversation with one of my sisters-in-law. I was telling her something about what our family was up to–not complaining, just telling her my projects, the children’s stuff, and whatever home improvement project hubby was up to. I didn’t think anything unusual about what I “had on my plate.” Shortly thereafter, my sister-in-law e-mailed back with sympathy for my busy life and immediately dispensed her amateur psychological advice that I should really take time out for myself. As she said, “You need some me-time.”

I will admit that after her “words of wisdom” sank in for a day or so, I caught myself thinking about what she’d said and wondering: was she right? After all, she wasn’t the first one to tell me that I was one hard-working mama. Maybe I did “deserve” to have some time off from my rigorous lifestyle! I fondly remembered the days when I had “lots” of time to work on MY projects, when running an errand was a simple thing (no car seats and dawdling around for little legs to keep up), when mealtime didn’t involve coercion (“because xyz is good for you!”); when buying a candy bar at the checkout did not incite a riot, and I never gave a thought to its non-nutritious value! Oh, and the quiet evenings!

I got pulled into her philosophy. Why, I let myself get into a rather grumpy mental huff for a few days, and started wondering where I could go to do as my sister-in-law suggested and “get away” for some me-time. But wait! Get away? Why does the “world” think we simply MUST “get away” (go somewhere) in order to feel happy or feel rejuvenated? Why can’t we see that we can “get away” from the world in our own homes? Or that “getting away” can be completely UNnecessary when we see our families, their neediness of us (moms and wives), and our homes as a BLESSING!!! I’d never had a major “need” to get away from it all until my sister-in-law suggested I deserved some me-time.

I remember thinking, as you outlined in your very excellent newsletter, that there is NOTHING in Scripture that encourages us to desire to be selfish. On the other hand, there are EXCELLENT passages reminding us that whatever we do, we are to do it ALL to the glory of God. To tie this up, I’ll tell you: when you realize the BLESSING your family is–straight from God–you don’t get the feeling that you need some time to get away from them. A Homeschool Mom

In this “What About Me?” series, my heart has been to encourage moms who are pouring out their lives into their families. These moms have a calling with eternal purpose and benefits–loving and serving their husbands and children. Our families are the greatest blessings the Lord could possibly give to us. We, in turn, are blessed as we give our lives back to them. In the midst of the sometimes busyness and “dailyness” of life, though, moms can face discouragement, especially if they begin looking at themselves and wondering when they get to let go of responsibility and have some fun.

There are two main points I would like to make clear once again as we conclude this series. First, the problem is not “fun” itself, but rather a focus on it. When I begin to think that I “have to have” time for my own pursuits or that I “need” to get away for time alone, then I am likely to experience self-pity when I don’t get that fun or individual time. Jesus said I am to die to self, not fuel it. I am not saying that we will never have time for relaxation or ever be able to pursue something of personal interest to us, because we will. However, when that becomes my purpose in life and my daily goal, I am frustrated and unhappy.

The Lord Jesus knows the needs of my life even better than I know them myself. He graciously brings into my life what will meet those needs so that I don’t have to be focused on them or contriving how to get them met myself. For example, two summers ago, our adult daughter wanted to visit friends in Alaska. Because of the long flight, she asked for a family member to travel with her. After a family conference, I was the one chosen to accompany her. During our stay in Alaska, I often had several hours to myself most days–hours of quiet, Bible reading, prayer, and no responsibility. What a contrast from my normal life! I missed my family, but I relished every moment of this rest the Lord had given to me–a rest that came from Him, not one that I had demanded.

I don’t want to make any mom feel guilty for doing something she enjoys or having occasional times away from her children. That isn’t the heart cry of this series. The Lord can and does provide special pleasures in our lives that are exactly what we like to do and also what we would need. He gives them to us, and we can delight in them. I want, though, for my thoughts to be resting on His ability to take care of me rather than having a mindset that I deserve a particular amount of free time and fun or that I can’t function properly without it. With thoughts of self, I quickly become bitter and angry because what I think I need so often doesn’t happen.

The second point I would like to restate has to do with what I consider to be relaxing and enjoyable–what I do for “me time” when it is available. As I view my family to be a special blessing from the Lord, then more and more my desire is to be with them rather than away from them. I prefer to do something with a child or my husband rather than to do something by myself or with a friend. We use outings as times to be with our children. “Me” time becomes family time, by choice.

It is my prayer that as mothers we will be continually looking to our Lord Jesus Christ for the strength to sustain us through the tasks He has set before us each day. Rather than looking at our daily responsibilities as something to get through so we can move on to what we really want to do, may we delight in our mothering, schooling, and homemaking jobs. May we be content mothers with our thoughts on how we can be obedient to our Lord Jesus through loving and serving our families.