Deuteronomy 6: 6-9… “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon our hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands, and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Being a Mom of 5 daughters came with many challenges that I honestly can say I was not in any way prepared for. They sure didn’t teach it in the public schools that I attended! Growing up in a big family with 3 sisters and 5 brothers didn’t help either. I was raised in church, but the only Bible I remember being in our house was a big family Bible that my mom kept all the family records of births, deaths, and marriages in. I was never baptized as a child or teen, and the only real teaching from the Bible came from Sunday School and Church. What I did learn about Jesus at home was around the piano, when one of the two brother-in-laws who played piano would come to visit and we’d all gather around the piano to sing the hymns and Southern Gospel songs that Mom loved, or I learned to from the Christian records Mom played when she was cleaning house. I don’t remember the family gathering to read the Bible and pray, and I never had a Bible of my own growing up until I bought my own when I was an adult and finally gave my heart to Christ. As kids we found our own niche in learning, and what we were not good at we usually asked Mom to help us with because she had a lot more patience than my Dad. This is why it became so important for me to make sure that I implanted God’s Word and every teaching I could about Jesus in my own children.
I had the normal jobs of babysitting growing up, whether it was nieces and nephews, for people at church, or neighbors, but that wasn’t really the preparation I needed for the children God decided to give me. You see, I have 2 natural daughters, and 3 adopted daughters. My oldest I had at 18, and I was spoiled by this child. She was a clean freak and readily did her chores. She never argued about doing her school work, and if she needed help, she would ask and then sit and listen as I explained it to her. She was the type of child that was a self-learner, eating up mentally anything she could read. When I taught her a Bible Story, Bible verse or a Bible song, she readily took to it, and seemed to enjoy it. So when it was time to start teaching her how to cook, I could simply pull out a recipe and tell her to follow it, and she would take it step by step and follow it to the letter. I thought… “Wow, this is pretty easy!”
Then after a couple of miscarriages and having no other child come along, we decided to become foster parents, and after a while ended up adopting the last 3 of our foster children. That is when God really showed me what all is involved in parenting. All 3 of my adopted daughters were born in terrible circumstances and abandoned as babies. The oldest was a drug addicted baby, the middle was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and the youngest had suffered hypothermia after she was found thrown in a trash can after birth. She was diagnosed after a few months with Cerebral Palsy. With each girl came learning disabilities, and two suffered with severe mood swings, or ADHD, and quickly became mortal enemies more than sisters. By this time it was clear my ex-husband, was not invested in being a Christian father and teacher to them, and found ways to disappear from the house whenever possible after work so he would have to deal with their bad attitudes. I was intent on making sure these girls, like my oldest, were well grounded in the knowledge of God. Sometimes I thought I bit off more than I could chew, at other times I knew it for sure. I was not sure I could get through to them. When thinking I could teach them to cook, I was met with 3 different responses. The oldest of the adopted daughters could readily learn something when her mood was good. She would tackle it with everything in her. But let the mood swing and it was completely a different response. “I don’t want to do it, and you can’t make me!” she would yell. If you pushed her to try she would lose her temper and begin to swing her fists at you. I suffered more than one beating from her as she grew up, until my new husband, a Navy veteran, put an end to it, and took steps to change her attitude and show her what self-discipline could do to change her life.
The second oldest was the biggest challenge in that she never wanted to do it. She seemed to have trouble knowing the difference in right from wrong. If you asked her to pick up her room, she would either throw a fit to get out of it, or just walk off and ignore you. If you grounded her to the bedroom or set her in a timeout corner, she would either pick a fight with any sister she came into contact with, scream and yell, or just walk outside and hide or play. She didn’t like having rules and even now does what she wants and doesn’t like to be corrected. She felt I was too strict and quickly favored her Dad, because he would let her do whatever she wanted, as long as he wasn’t bothered. I had to pick and choose my battles with her when it came to deciding what chores to give her and how long to push her on school work. Push to hard and the house quickly became a war zone. Let her rake the yard and we were fine, but ask her to help in the kitchen, or try to teach her to cook and she quickly went from calm to angry in zero seconds.
The youngest of the adopted girls, quickly became known as the Over comer. By the age of 1 we were told by the doctors that she would never walk or talk. But within 2 weeks she changed their minds. After her therapist spoke to us about the diagnosis, and then left for a 2 week vacation, our youngest adopted daughter began to pull herself up on the couch so she could stand. Within a week she was walking along side it dragging her right leg. By the end of the 2 weeks she could cross the floor by herself, although still dragging her right foot. She also started trying to imitate everything we said, and by the end of 2 weeks she could say a variety of simple words, like Mom, hungry, drink, Hi, and Let’s Go. She was the type of child that when someone said she wouldn’t be able to do it, she was determined to show them she could. She loved learning and would sit for hours with me trying to learn new things, and would practice them for hours until she could do them perfectly. She loved to tag along with my oldest daughter, and loved to help her in the kitchen. She was always so much happier than my other two adopted girls. Teaching her to cook, which she is still in the process of learning is a great deal easier because of her attitude to learning.
Twenty-four years after my oldest daughter, I was surprised to find out I was pregnant again. This little one showed her stubborn and mischievous personality even while still in the womb. After she was born I was blessed with a dimpled, happy cherub, full of personality. She seemed perfectly normal until we found that she had dyslexia during her 3rd grade year of school. Again I became a home schooling mom, because the public schools didn’t really know how to deal with learning disabilities. Dealing with a happy child with learning disabilities is quite different from a child who has mood swings, but there are still struggles, especially when part of the problems of dyslexic children is a lack of organization. You find that neatness on schoolwork is a struggle, and since they struggle with reading because of the way words appear to them, teaching them with a recipe can be a problem. They often get the right ingredients, but the wrong amounts.
Teaching my last 4 girls about God‘s words from the Bible, about Jesus and his sacrifice, and helping them to memorize or impress His Word into their memory was like fighting a losing battle. I often felt like a failure, and found myself in my bedroom crying out to God for help. How was I suppose to help them learn God’s Word when I couldn’t even get them to learn math, reading, or writing without a struggle? I often longed for those times when something would click when they were learning and wonder if I would see the same when God’s Word was taught to them. But nothing ever seemed to click. It was in my lowest times of doubt and frustration, when I would turn to God’s Word for help. The words of Deuteronomy 6:6-9 would pop out to me each time.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon our hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands, and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Reading it brought comfort and encouragement, but I also found that I was as hard to teach as my children, because I would not hide it in my heart, impress it on my mind, and take the time to commit it to memory. I found myself time and again turning back to this verse in the Bible during the struggles. But what I finally realized that God was telling me what I needed to do step by step in His words from Deuteronomy 6.
Step 1…Impress His Word on our children, in other words teach them about the Lord and what the Bible says.
Step 2…Talk about them when we are just sitting at home, by conversations with our children.
Step 3…Talk about them when you walk along the road, again by conversing with our children when we are walking with them.
Step 4…When you lie down, as we read them Bible stories before bedtime, or having devotions with them.
Step 5…When you get up, by starting the day in prayer and reading the Word of God to them.
Step 6…Tie them as symbols on your hands, by putting God’s Word into action in what we do daily.
Step 7…Bind them on your foreheads, by committing them to memory.
And last, Step 8…Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, by making your home inside and out reflection of God’s Word, not just in physical things like pictures, but in how your home is run, and what your family makes first and foremost in their lives and in your home.
Like a recipe, 8 simple steps to follow in teaching your children about God. If we follow these eight simple steps, not shoving the lesson down their throats, but just sharing it day by day, in everything we say and do, and committing our home and lives to doing the same personally as an example to them. You may not see the fruit when they are young. I didn’t. In fact years have passed, and the four older girls are out on their own, now with their own children. Only my youngest daughter is still at home learning from her father and I. I’ve seen my older daughters go on to live their lives, making some good choices and other choices that aren’t so good. I often have felt all those seeds I planted had fallen along the wayside and never grew. When I’ve seen them make choices and deal with those choices that led to drug addiction, alcoholism, even for a couple, time in jail. I felt like a failure. I’ve spent many a tear-filled night saying to the Lord that I was a terrible Mom because I didn’t teach them God’s Word or His ways good enough. I know that no mother is perfect, and we all have our failings, but mine must have been beyond any thing anyone else had failed at. I reasoned with the Lord, argued with him, confessed to him, and finally just sobbed silently in my soul. I asked God when the day would come when I would see those seeds planted long ago, and all those prayers poured out for my daughters would finally bring forth a blossom for the Lord. You may be feeling the same way. These days there are so many weeds in the world that can strangle out those seeds we have planted, so much that can spoil the dough of the ingredients that we have mixed together in our children for the glory of God.
As I reread that this verse, my mind wandered back through each of my daughter’s life. I thought of the choices they made, the heartaches and pains they have been through so far, and I realized I’ve been blessed to see some of my daughters turn to God for strength to overcome their pain and heartache. I’ve seen a couple finally turn their hearts over to Christ, and I’ve had the pleasure of leading my youngest child in prayer to accept Jesus as her Savior and Lord at the age of 6. I’ve never thought that it was those early years of teaching them that made the difference until the last few years. The greatest evidence that those lessons about God took hold is in my grandchildren. When I hear my 15 year old grandson speak about the Bible, or tell his friends about what God’s Word says about certain topics, or when he takes a moral stand in school, and I ask him where he learned it, and he says my mom taught me, I know that those seeds finally blossomed. When I hear my 7 year old granddaughter tell me about a Bible story, or sing me a Bible song, and I ask where she learned it and she says that Mommy taught her and then ask me to help her ask Jesus into her heart, then I know that those ingredients mixed so long ago have finally risen and been baked by the Lord. When I hear that my youngest grandson is praising Jesus as his father listens to worship music, or is asking his Mommy about Jesus, I know that there is proof that God’s Way of teaching our children about His love works, and that in time, no matter what they go through in life our children will return to those lessons we taught them so long ago. It may take a great deal more time for some of my daughters to remember those lessons, but God knows when they are ready to come from the oven, baked to perfection in Him. Step by step we follow God’s recipe for teaching, and although we may not see anything of it for weeks, months, or even years, what we teach rises in them, and finally God through his power and love what was taught is baked into a new creation for the Lord. This is a recipe for a special legacy from God that will be handed down generation to generation. All we have to do is follow the recipe in God’s Word, and remember just as in cooking, practice makes perfect.