Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's All in the Followthrough

If you have ever played any sports, you have heard about followthrough.  You have heard it said, "It's all in the followthrough."  I remember in my short attempt to play sports during my childhood many times where a coach or teacher would tell me I needed to follow through.  They would tell me I was cutting myself short because I wasn't following through after releasing the ball, etc.  I knew they were right.  It takes concentration and effort to follow through, but it is worth it.

Over the past couple of years, I have been digging into this idea of followthrough.  Mostly I need to because, embarrassingly, I am not always good at it.  I don't like this about myself, and I wish to change it.  I want to be a person who follows through and can be trusted to do so.


Bringing to completion.

Finishing what I start.

Followthrough is the noun that comes from the verb phrase, "to follow through."

As I have been working on many ideas, including several books to write, I have noticed that it seems the difference between a good idea and a good idea that comes to fruition is the followthrough.  Perhaps here again it is all in the followthrough.  When I would hear of a new product or idea that came out, I used to ask myself, "No one had ever thought of that before now? Why didn't anyone ever think of that earlier than now?  Why didn't I think of that?!"

Now I see that it's not always that no one thought of it before, but rather no one did anything about the idea before.  Have you ever known someone who after seeing a new product on the market lamented, "That was my idea!  I wanted to do that!"  Often they just never did anything about it, and someone else did.

Sometimes there are hindrances such as fear, laziness, regret, lack of intentionality...  Also, when I fail to followthrough I am almost always acting in selfishness.  It may not be noticeable even to myself, but selfishness lurks in the shadows of not following through with what the Lord has called me to do with excellence for His glory.  Usually, I am thinking of myself and not others when I reside in those shadows. 

I need Jesus here because I cannot grow and mature in the area of followthrough without His help.

I am confronted with this issue daily.  In my daily life, in my business, in my teaching myself to play violin, in my writing, in my desire to take care of myself, there is always a fight to followthrough.  It takes work to followthrough and to be a person who means what he says and does what he says he will do. 

I want to be this type of person.

I am thankful that the Lord finishes what He starts.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

May I follow His example and followthrough where I am called to finish what I have started.  I pray this for you, as well.

Monday, July 25, 2011

God Reigns and The Son Shines

I have been thinking about light lately.  This was partly sparked (pun intended) by an event I went to that had a table with a banner that talked about bringing the "God's light" to people.  However as I watched what they were doing I didn't see God's light.  In fact I saw quite the opposite.  I saw the darkness that comes when people are confused about who God is and how He works in our lives.  It made me sad, and it made me think.  It made me pray, and now it is making me write.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." (Isaiah 5:20)

Why are people confused? 

What is light?

Light - something that makes things visible or affords illumination: All colors depend on light.

This is what the Bible says, too:

"But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Ephesians 5:13,14)

God created this light.  He said in Genesis 1:3, "Let there be light," and there was!

What happens when you turn on a light in a room?  The darkness disappears as soon as the light comes on.  Even a small light can make objects in the room visable.  And without light, there would be no colors.  Light is very important.

So what is God's light really?

"The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." (John 1:9)

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)

Jesus stepped down from His throne in Heaven to come into the world and be our light - to make things visable.  Furthermore, we learn in Revelation 22:5, that in Heaven we "will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light." 

And while I could go on and on about this, I actually am going to focus on a different aspect of this topic.

Jesus said to His disciples:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

So Jesus said He was the light of the world, and then He called His disciples that, too.  Though His disciples were not God like He is, they were to be the light of the world.  They could only be the light of the world because of Jesus.  It was His light that would shine through them, so that others could learn the truth of who Jesus was and recognize their need of Him.  The same is true of those who follow Him today.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." (Ephesians 5:8)

So how do we live as children of light?

First of all, in order to shine His light to anyone we need to know the truth.  We need to be students of His Word, the Bible, and know Him better as a result of our prayerful study.  This is a frustration of mine with many Christians today.  There often is a lack of reverance for not only the LORD, but also for His Word!  Sometimes the Bible is treated as an accessory or an item of decor instead of a manual for life and a vital part of each day.  Of course, there will be days when there is less time to study than others, but ask yourself:

"Am I cracking my Bible open each day?"

"Do I even know where my Bible is?"

Yikes!  We have to pick up our Bibles and learn what is said within.  How else will we be able to speak truth in boldness? Also we need to be able to articulate the truth with others.  I do believe that the Lord gives us the words to say when we need them.  I also believe that we need to have His words stored up in our hearts, so that we are ready for those moments.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2)

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:15,16)

Light exposes sin.  Why do you think so many try to snuff that light out?

"Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:20)

Boldness is needed now perhaps more than ever, and if those who are called light because they belong to Jesus are not willing to know the truth and then stand up for that truth how will those who are in darkness know there is a better way?

Being the light of the world is a humbling privelege because although we are called to share the Truth and to allow the God who created light to shine through us, for His glory not ours, He doesn't really need us.  He can do it without us, too, you know.  Look at what happened when Saul of Tarsus was on the road to Damascus to go arrest some followers of Jesus.  He was a zealous man who thought that he was doing the right thing.  He thought that these followers of Jesus were blatently disregarding the Law that God had given to them through Moses.  He didn't yet know that Jesus was the fulfillment of everything he knew to be true within the books of the Bible he had studied (the books of the Bible that existed at that time).  And what did the LORD do?

"As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”" (Acts 9:3-6)

As we read on in Acts chapter 9, we learn that Paul was actually blind for three days after this encounter with Jesus.  The Lord told him what to do, and he went to a man who prayed for his sight to be returned to him.  Paul's sight was returned, and he was never the same.  In fact, most of the New Testament of the Bible was written by Paul! 

I always think of that song lyric, "Blinded by the light..." when I think of Paul's conversion experience.  He took Jesus seriously and remained the zealous man he was, except now the Light was shining through him.

I love the hymn, Be Thou My Vision, by Eleanor Hull.  Here is the first verse:
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
What about you?  Are you even in the light, yet?  If so, do others know it?

"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Intentionality in Prayer

Let me first say that when I am saying prayer, what I am meaning is praying to God Almighty in the name of Jesus.  People throw the word prayer around quite a bit.  Some people even add that they will be keeping you in their thoughts and prayers.  While I don't really understand what that means, I do want to talk more about prayer.

How important to you is prayer?

Is prayer the first idea you have when you think of how to start your day or how to gain insight or help in a situation? 

Prayer is the most significant tool given to us by the LORD Himself.  Are you using that tool?  Am I?

I have had times in my life when my prayer muscles were so strong that I could go on in times of prayer for a good hour or more.  In fact, I had about a year in my life where I had one day a week devoted to prayer from morning to evening before dinner.  I would start out by listening and singing along to praise and worship music, move on to thanking the Lord, confessing any sins, bringing Him my requests for myself and for others, journaling, and just sitting and listening to Him.  I would also include times of studying the Bible and walking around my neighborhood praying for my neighbors and the people I saw while I was walking.

Those were really good days!

Other times in my life, I have laid my head on the pillow at night and thought, "Did I really even talk to the Lord much today?"  Sure I rarely fail to remember to thank Him for my food, and now with children there are times throughout the day that we pray, but some days I have not made the time to really sit and visit with the One who not only created me but also has set me free from the bonds of sin and death through my redemption in Jesus Christ. 

You may be thinking, "But when?  I don't have time to sit and do anything!" 

Yes you do.  You are probably busy, and that is a valid point, but you do have time.  Time is rarely the issue when it comes to what is important.  The issue is lack of intentionality.  If you have been with me for a while, you know that this is something I have been writing about.  Let's review the definition of intentional:

Intend: To have in mind; plan
Intention: A course of action that one intends to follow.  An aim that guides action; an objective

Intentional: Done deliberately

And furthermore, what I have found is that being intentional about anything is a matter of habit.  A habit is formed when a decision is made to do something over and over again.  Eventually a habit it formed, and that action becomes a part of life almost without having to think about it as much.  There is still the need to continue in that habit, if it is a good one, but the amount of thought necessary to continue is not as much as it was before the habit was formed.

Simply put, when you focus on making prayer a habit, it becomes one that is more easily made a part of your life.  Then the focus is on keeping it a habit and growing all the more in maturity and skill, so to speak, of that habit.

Then there is the question: How do I pray?

This is a great question to ask.  Prayer can seem intimidating at times, and in some ways that is not so bad.  After all, if the intimidation is coming from a place of humility and reverence for the LORD God Almighty, then that is not a bad place to start.  However, the LORD wants to have a relationship with you that is one of freedom and honesty.  He sees our hearts.  If prayer is a time when I am motivated by the desire to impress others with my wordcrafting or Bible knowledge, then my heart is not seeking to glorify my Lord in prayer.  On the other hand, He knows when I truly just want to open up to Him and seek His will and praise Him through prayer.

Prayer is simply a conversation.  It involves talking and listening.  Most of us are pretty skilled at talking.  Listening is sometimes harder.  There are so many ways to engage in conversation with the LORD.  I like to mix it up, so I can stay in the habit and discipline of praying daily and throughout the day.  Sometimes I journal, which helps me to focus on writing out my prayers (the talking part) and writing out what God says to me through the Bible and with His voice (the listening part).  Sometimes I have a bulletin board that I can look at with pictures and verses on it to help me focus as I pray.  Other times I have a little flip index card book to help me stay on track.  Walking has helped me focus on praying at times.  Talking out loud, if I can, is often helpful to me because it is easier for me to not get sidetracked or even fall asleep (raise your hand if that has happened to you - I've done it). 

There are so many ways to make prayer a part of daily life. 

Let's not forget that praying with others is also a very needed aspect of our Christianity.  People need people.  We just do.  We need each other.  Prayer is such a bonding activity if we let it become a part of our lives and a part of our relationships.  This can be very uncomfortable at times, and honestly there are some people that I don't feel comfortable praying with.  For example, I am very careful to not pray alone with a man who is not my husband.  There may be rare times when this is appropriate or an immediate need, but still discernment is required. This is because prayer is a bit of a pouring out of one's heart and soul in the presence of another.  It is intimate.

Being intentional about prayer can also open many doors.  For example, when you go out to eat at a restaurant tell the server you are going to pray before you eat, and ask them how you can pray for them.  I love doing this.  It's such an unexpected gesture of care and concern and almost always the server delightedly and thankfully responds with a request.  I have even made friendships this way with servers because many times they come back to share more or they want us to sit in their section the next time we come.  What a great way to show others that God cares about them.  What a great way to show our chidren that we can be about the business of loving others and of sharing God with others even while dining out among strangers.

In my encounters with fellow Christians in or from other nations I have witnessed wholehearted, unashamed, and faith-filled prayer that humbled me, convicted me, inspired me, and challenged me.  Why do I let the distractions of my surroundings keep me from such joy and such power when this free and amazing gift is available to all who call on Him? 

Sure if may take work.  It may not be easy, and it may not even be fun at times.  But isn't connecting directly with the Giver of Life worth the effort?  I do pray that the LORD will help His people be intentional in prayer and fight the good fight before His holy throne.

How will you become more intentional with prayer?  Why not start now?
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 14:6)

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Change of Location, Change of Perspective

Have you ever had times when you realized that the way you used to think about something has changed, and now you think differently about that something than you did before?

After recently moving and settling in pretty quickly, I have noticed some changes in my thinking about living situations.  Let me explain.

Five years ago we bought a little 1/1 condo that we thought was wonderful.  It was part of a condo conversion neighborhood, and it had all been redone on the inside.  We had been renting, and the excitement of buying ran through our blood.  We didn't have children, but we did want to have them in the future.  We thought perhaps we could keep this place, rent it out, pay it off, and use it for ministry - like for a place to stay when missionaries came in or something.  Yes, we had high hopes for this little 790 square feet beauty.

When our first child came along about a year and a half later, we didn't have a problem making room for baby and being creative with our space (or lack thereof).  "Besides," we thought, "people all over the world live in smaller spaces than this with more children.  We can do this."  We really didn't have a choice anyway because the market had already crashed, and at that point there was no reasonable way out.  We were content, though, really we were.

Time passed and child number two came along.  Again, unfazed, we continued to be creative (I love creative challenges!), and we made it work quite well.  We were blessed with ideas and with the means to create a place that did not feel as small as it actually was.  I have mentioned before that I made the bedroom the room for the children, and my husband and I slept on an upgraded pull out couch that eventually got swapped for a bed that I made look like a couch.

Still we maintained the "people around the world live with a lot less" mentality.  We were still content. 

However over time the contentedness became what I've heard called a "holy discontent."  In other words, the Lord was changing our hearts to prepare us to move on.  For months I had struggled with the fact that we would have to sell our home in order to move into something that fit us better and would be closer to where my husband works and much more budget friendly.  Then the Lord gave me a release in my heart.  I was ready to let it go.

After moving to our 1640 square foot home and seeing how much happier we all seemed - I didn't think we were unhappy before, but we were getting restless in that small home - I realized something.  Just because "people around the world live with a lot less" doesn't mean that they don't need more.  Just because people are living seventeen people to a small room and getting by doesn't mean that they wouldn't do much better with more space.  In fact, I now believe that they do indeed need more space and would thrive much better with a little more of it.  I am not talking about space to fill with more stuff, nor do I think that adopting a more materialistic approach to life that craves more and bigger would benefit them.  I just mean that I think we all just need some space sometimes.  We need to have room to breathe and be ourselves and run around a bit.

Also it doesn't make me an ungrateful American if I decide that when it comes to a home, living a bit more of a normal American life is better for our family.  We are pretty counter-cultural in a lot of other ways, anyway.  It doesn't make me less in touch with the rest of the world.  God gives us the grace to live here in America just as He gives my brothers and sisters who follow Him in other nations the grace to live where He has placed them.  It is okay.

We needed this space, and it is obvious to me now that I also needed some shifting in my thinking.  I am thankful to have received both.  He is so kind and gracious.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Making the Old New

I love those shows on HGTV that find an old piece of something and turn it into something totally brand new with a little bit of money and a lot of effort.  It is so exciting to see what they come up with and how the old can become new.

One of my favorite ways to obtain decor for my home or art to sell is by finding something that someone else has written off as trash and making it something new and wonderful.  Often when I find these poor thrown out items this way, on the side of the road or near a dumpster (I haven't even actually gone in a dumpster), they are free to me to do what I please with them.

I also like going to yard sales or "last chance" sections of stores to find these gems who are waiting for someone like me to rescue them and make them something that no one else can envision they would become.  Often these items are purchased at a small fraction of the original cost!

Two of my favorite and most recent acquisitions are situated in my master bedroom.  They are now a source of great refreshing and relaxation for me.  I wish I remembered to take a before picture of one of the items, but I got too excited to change it and forgot.  Here are the items together, and then I will show you the before and after shots of one of them.

The loveseat is actually a brown wicker loveseat with cushions on the seat and the back.  Originally I wanted to paint the wicker part, especially because the stain was peeling off of it, and sew cushion covers.  However, one day I realized that I might be able to use my slipcover that was on our old couch and fit it to this loveseat.  That covered the peely wicker and the old cushions.  Then I added some throw pillows that I already had made and added the white throw to cover up the imperfections and add some contrast.

The painting was a find I was thrilled over!  I found it near the dumpster, and it had a southwestern styled painting painted on it.  The paint was chipped in one spot, which might be why it was thrown away.  Well, I just painted over it.  You might know that I love sheep, so I thought that the perfect scene for me to notice first thing in the morning when I wake up is this painting of sheep grazing and/or lying down in the pasture while their loving shepherd looks on with great care.  Here are the before and after shots:


You can kind of see the remnants of the cactus and the rocks in the original painting, and I hope the artist would not be offended that I painted over her work, but all in all I am very pleased at the outcome and the character the new painting has a result of what it once was.

There are other examples of this in my home.  In fact, almost every room has a least one piece that has been redone in some way and made something completely new.  This is not only really fun to me, but it also saves money and prevents waste.  Check your dumpsters because some people throw out some really great stuff!

When I am working on a project like these, I cannot help but think of how I have been made new.  There is One who saw me for more than I was and made me into someone far better than I ever could have been if left the way I was.  Not only that, but He sees who I am now and knows that there is even more improving ahead.  He rescued me from the dumpster where my sin had left me.  He excitedly picked me up and thought of His plan for me.  He worked carefully and with great care to make me something new.  And now He has set me as a display of His splendor for His glory and renown (see Isaiah 61:1-3).  Pretty amazing!

This is what the LORD did when I said, "Jesus, be my Lord and Savior.  Save me from my sins, and help me live for You.  I believe that You died to pay the penalty of my sins and rose again from the dead to defeat death and make a way for me to be connected again with the God who made me."

And then I was new.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I love making the old new, and it turns out that I am in good company.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Intentionality in Parenting

*This post is not meant to cover all topics thouroughly when it comes to parenting, but I hope that at least we will be more deliberate in thinking through our actions and how they impact our children.* 

In no way will any of us ever be perfect parents, but why not strive each day to be much better than we already are?  Only through the grace my Lord gives me can I be anything good.  I pray that as I parent, I will be lead by Him to be the best mommy I can be, for His glory.
We have to be intentional when it comes to parenting.  Our children will be parented whether we are trying or not.  The question is will it be good parenting or not so good parenting?

I've been thinking about this a whole lot lately as my husband and I work, by God's grace and with His help, to subdue our children's wills.  Our aim to subdue their wills stems from our understanding of what the Bible teaches about man (humans), God, and our role as parents.  We want our children to grow up to be mature, respectful, self-controlled adults who love the One True God and love others.  This doesn't just happen.  It takes a lot of work, a lot of prayer, a lot of sacrifice, and a lot of intentionality.

When I think about parenting there are reasons that I rejoice and reasons that I mourn. 

I rejoice because I love being a parent.  I love my children.  I love seeing my husband as their dad.  I love the many lessons I have learned about myself.  I love how much I learn about the LORD and about people through my children.  There is so much to love, and there are so many reasons I am thankful that the LORD has blessed me with children.  I also rejoice as a child because I love my parents, too!

On the other hand, I mourn for all of the children that are neglected, abused, mistreated, disrespected, unloved, and otherwise harmed by their parents either intentionally or unintentionally.  I also mourn for the women and men who long to have children, but for some reason are not able to have them.  I also mourn for the many who have lost their children one way or another.

But what about the parents who do love their children and don't know how to parent them?

There are so many misconceptions about children, parents, and their roles.  Especially in this country we have seemingly lost our way when it comes to parenting.  Look around and think about the rise in crime, lack of respect for authority, lack of concern for others, lack of reverence for God Almighty...  Could this be a direct result of how these now adults were parented?  This could be a frightening thought if you have small children or at least children who still live under your roof! 

Unfortunately I see a profound uncertainty, lack of understanding, and lack of biblical wisdom in many parents.  Children, instead of parents, are leading the homes!  Equally unfortunate, I see this in the church and outside of the church.  Since many people who do not consider themselves "in the church" most likely will not be as interested in what the Bible says about parenting, I guess I am more directly speaking to those of us who are following Christ (however all are welcome to read on - I hope you do).  We should care about what the Bible says about everything.  We should care about what the Bible says about parenting.

So why the lack of understanding?  Why is there such a waffling among many Christians when it comes to how to train up a child?  I see two possibilities:

1. Lack of knowledge about what the Bible says about parenting
2. Lack of submission to the LORD and to what He says about parenting in the Bible

Let's face it, there is not a real common knowledge about what the Bible says about any given topic (though there should be!), so it is not very surprising that we are falling short here, especially in the church.  It amazes me how clear God is and yet how ignorant we can be.

Are you listening to the world when it comes to parenting or are you listening to the LORD?  He is Father God, and He knows all about what I need as a mom and what my children need.  Furthermore, I have been entrusted with these children, and I will be held accountable.

I need to ask myself a few questions on a regular basis to keep me focused on intentionality in parenting:

1. Am I making sure I spend time with the LORD in study of the Bible and in prayer?

This must happen!  There is no negotiating here.  I am simply a better mom (and better everything) when I am actively and intentionally seeking the LORD.  Just ask my children.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." (Deuteronomy 6:5,6)

2. Am I (and my husband, too) teaching our children what we learn from the LORD?

"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." (Deuteronomy 6:7-9)

3. Am I seeking to change (and asking the LORD to change) only the behavior of my children, or am I seeking change in their hearts?

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b)

Great behavior is good.  It is desired.  However, I don't want my child to exhibit good behavior and still have a heart bent towards her own selfish desires.  How will she learn to obey her Lord if she cannot obey me?

4. Am I not only learning the truth but also living it out and basing my decisions on biblical truth instead of misguided lies?

Here is where some basic foundational truths are needed.  In order to be the best parent I can be, I have to know and continually seek to discern truth from lie.

"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17 - Jesus praying for all believers)

5. Am I thinking long term or short term?

This usually is a question I ask when I am tempted to not follow through with much needed discipline or quite frankly I am being selfish myself.  My children need me to train them (of course my husband trains them right alongside me, but for simplicity I am speaking only for myself here).  When I would rather pretend to ignore misbehavior or deal with something that needs immediate attention later because I am in the middle of something (like writing a blog on intentionality in parenting) I am only considering the short term implications of what disobedience leads to and not the fact that her will is going to be stronger if I do not help her say "No" to her selfish nature now and chose the right way.

Yeah, this is not easy.  Did you really think parenting would be easy?  But it is indeed not only necessary, but also it's my job!  I don't like it when I have to discipline my children because it is uncomfortable many times.  However, if I do not do my job, according the the LORD's standards and in love, then I am not really concerned about helping my children grow up to be mature, respectful, and self-controled adults who love God and love others. 

When someone tells me that they don't believe in spanking their children I like to ask them, "How's that working for ya?"  There is definitely a right and a wrong way to discipline children, so please don't get those confused.  However, when we shy away all together from proper, biblical discipline, we are actually allowing our children (and further helping them) to become more selfish, less likely to obey the LORD (or anyone) and more likely to end up in danger (spiritually and/or any other way).

"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." (Proverbs 13:24)

"My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in." (Proverbs 3:11,12)

6. Am I being a good example?

Ever hear a parent say, "Do as I say, not as I do?"  It doesn't work that way, does it?  Sometimes, we as parents are not actually saying this phrase, but our actions are speaking it loudly.  I think we certainly need to be transparent with our children and honest when we make a mistake.  They need to see our repentant hearts that seek to obey the LORD, so they know by example what that looks like.  Even in small things, I want to be a good example.  For example, we require our older daughter to make her bed without being asked when she wakes up in the morning and after her afternoon nap.  What does it communicate if my husband and/or I don't make our bed?  I want to be real and honest and follow through with what is right, as I desire my children to do likewise.

7. Are my children seeing me love and honor my husband?

What security and peace comes when a child sees her parents loving and honoring each other according to biblical truth.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons why in Proverbs 31:28,29 we read, "Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'"

Parenting is a very serious and extremely important job, and we must treat it this way.  There will always be more to learn and our children will have different struggles than each other, just like adults.  Only intentional parenting, God's way, can lead to the outcome He desires - hearts fully devoted to Him.  This is the very best that I can offer my children.  Why would I want laziness, apathy, or anything else to keep me from giving this gift to them and training them to live according to what is right and true?

I really believe that parenting can be more enjoyable than what the average parent in America is experiencing.  It's start with being intentional as parents, and it starts today.

Some resources I strongly recommend:
Child Training Tips: What I Wish I Knew When My Children Were Young, by Reb Bradley
Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)