Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever

Our Purpose for Parenting   Sharon Cannavo

[Rev. 4:11] “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.”

[Psalm 33:1,21] Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!

Praise befits the upright.

For our heart is glad in him,

because we trust in his holy name.

A Christian’s chief goal in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Therefore, the key to a blessed family life begins and ends with this primary truth.

My sons, Torre and Michael were ages 3 and 1. Torre was sweet and compliant, making me believe that I could truly be nominated for mother of the year. When Michael came along, he was sweet and unbelievably disobedient, making me bow my face to the floor and beg God for instructions in parenting, and His mercy to see me through the next 5 minutes! Suddenly, my views on parenting seemed feeble at best and my confidence as a mother vanished like the steam rising from my constantly refilled cup of coffee! I was exhausted, baffled, and suddenly finding myself wondering why God had trusted me with motherhood!  I knew I would be lost in “the experts” vast theories and personal convictions if I did not seek out completely biblical instruction in parenting. So I resisted all the highly recommended secular parenting books and advice, and began to search the Bible for my answers, finding applicable truths on a daily basis.  It also helped greatly that there were some who had gone ahead of me, writing biblically sound books on Christian parenting. Though I had not been an avid reader in the past, I now found myself almost inhaling the biblical advice of God’s Word and these biblically-based parenting authors. More than two decades later, with 3 precious children establishing themselves in their adult lives, I am blessed and overcome by the grace God lavished on me (and them!) in order to direct my path as the mother of these children. And, as I look back, the most direct and effective piece of advice was this: Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

As you begin this day of parenting, start by asking God to help you understand better who He is and how you can glorify and enjoy Him in your day. Your prayer for this will begin that process. He will honor your hearts desire to make Him the focus of your day, above all else including your children. You are likely to see an immediate change in how you approach and respond to your children.

Prayer:

Lord, you are our Creator. You love me, and You love my/Your children even more than I do. I will praise you and thank you for your faithfulness and grace! I will spend my day focused on you, with an attitude of joy and praise despite any of my circumstances, because of your glory, honor and power! I will trust all the details of my day to You, because I trust in Your holy name!  Lord, may I glorify You and enjoy you forever!  Amen

Solving Mealtime Madness

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-little-cute-blonde-boy-refuses-to-eat-cereal-image29231022We are often asked about mealtime and how to get kids to eat. Here are some recommendations.

To start, be careful not to overwhelm your child with a large plate of food.  Kids don’t really want a huge meal.  When giving them their meal, be careful to put only a few (maybe three) bites of each course on the plate.  Teach them the one-bite-no-thank-you rule.  That is, they must take at least one bite of each course.  If after they have their one bite, they do not want to finish that course, allow them to say “no thank you”, and move on to the other courses.  Kids must be introduced to foods multiple times before they will actually develop a taste for it.  Be sure not to give them seconds if they didn’t finish all of their meal.  So if they want more mashed potatoes, but didn’t finish their broccoli, you will hold off on the potatoes.  When and if they finish the entire meal, use lots of words of encouragement, so they feel the victory in finishing. Even though we want to train our child to eat the family meal, (in other words, don’t make a meal for you and hubby and a separate meal for children), be careful that the flavors aren’t too adult. As adults, our taste buds are dulled, so we tend to use lots of spices.  Kids are super sensitive with keen taste buds. Strong flavors are just too much for them. Try to season lightly, then add at the table whatever extra seasoning/spices you and your spouse may want.
Set the timer at the beginning of the meal, giving your child a reasonable time to eat what’s on the plate. Maybe 5-10 minutes longer than it takes the adults. Whatever he does not finish is peaceably cleared along with your plates. There should be NO consequence for not eating. Follow these guidelines for all meals.
Here’s the key.  If getting your child to eat meals is a problem, then between meals your child should not have snacks.  No snacks or drinks (milk, juice, etc.) with the exception of water.  Please note: this will not apply to children with health issues like diabetes, etc, or under a doctors orders to follow a different routine for eating. The biggest issue is the mid-meal snacking. With tiny appetites, we end up sabotaging our kids for meal time.  In fact, we even use food as a diversion, just to keep them quiet or content while we are trying to accomplish our tasks.  This is not helping our children.  When our children can count on their food coming three times a day, which by the way is a complete luxury compared to most in the world, they will appreciate the food they are offered and will eat more of what’s on their plate. In fact if you only put a few bites of each course, you will eventually hear him ask for more :0). In the beginning there may be some stubborn refusal, but as he learns that he will not have any snacks to get him through to the next meal, he will begin to appreciate the next meal.
Once your child has established good eating habits at meal time, you may reintroduce very small healthy snacks between meals. If you notice the meal time habits are being affected, make the healthy snacks even smaller, or go back to no snacks. Sugar is our bodies arch enemy. Try to eliminate any sugar from your child’s diet. You will see the appetite for good foods increase, and  resistance to illness will greatly improve. Even  behavior will radically improve, depending on how much sugar was actually in the diet prior to this change.
We, at Training Hearts for Jesus hope this will help bring peace to family mealtimes, and great health to your sweet children!!

Blue and Scarlet Coverings


I read through the Bible every year.  Last year was so difficult due to the fact that Mario and I both lost our moms to cancer; Mario’s mom in April, and mine in September.  The grief and sadness was almost so overwhelming, there were many times during the year that I could not even hear the Lord through His word due to the events in our life.  But I kept trying to read, believing that God knows my weaknesses and will do in me, through His word, what He wants.  Honestly, I’m still not sure what He did, but I am sure He did it, and that’s the only thing that matters.  There will be more years like this, I’m sure, but I’m so grateful He’s in charge of those years and not me.  My only responsibility is to obey.  He will do the rest.

 As of January 1st, I once again began my journey through the Bible.  To me it is exciting how reading the Word every year still brings surprise and new (for me) revelations.  I am so blessed to be back in a place of being able to hear the Lord through His Word, and grateful for His consistency to bring me through the deep waters of grief.  Even some of the toughest chapters in the Bible are bringing new little glimpses of His faithfulness. Yesterday, as I was reading through the book of Numbers (not the most exciting book in most of our minds), and specifically chapter 4, the duties of the Kohathites (have I lost you yet?).  The directions were being given to Moses and Aaron regarding the taking down of “the tent of meeting”.  It’s so easy to get lost in the tiny details of a chapter like this and take a little mini-mental-vacation.  God was able to hold my attention and showed me the smallest little detail that has been encouraging my heart ever since I spotted it.  The text explains how each section and piece of the “most holy things” are to be packed up by the Kohathites.  They were responsible to follow every instruction to the smallest detail, and not to question why.  Literally, their lives could be at stake through this process of obedience!  This was serious!  I was noticing how each object was being covered with a blue cloth.  Biblically, blue represents Heaven, so this made total sense to me, as I’m sure it did to Moses, Aaron and the Kohathites.  Then I came to “the table of the bread of the Presence with the plates, the dishes for incense, the bowls, and the flagons for the drink offering: the regular showbread also shall be on it.” which would also be covered with a cloth of blue (Numbers 4:7). However, this one time, the instructions went on to say, “Then they shall spread over them a cloth of scarlet…”  Scarlet? Scarlet in the Bible refers to the blood and/or the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  I couldn’t help but spend time dwelling on that verse and thinking about John 6:41:

 “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

 Not to mention the institution of the Lord’s Supper, such as in Luke 22, as Jesus took the cup…

“this cup which is poured out is the new covenant in my blood.”  (Luke 22:20)

 and the bread…

 “this is my body, which is given for you”  (Luke 22:19)

 I love the idea that Moses, Aaron and the Kohathites were given instructions to follow obediently, that may not have made any sense to them at all.  Why was the table of Presence, with the bread and drink offering, to be covered additionally with a cloth of scarlet?  For some reason this struck me so deeply regarding man’s unquestioning obedience to God’s instructions, whether they/we understand it or not, and God’s sovereignty, omniscience and faithfulness to His people.  It was God’s secret message (the mystery) that Jesus, the Bread of life, the Drink Offering which was to be poured out for us, who are stiff-necked and faithless, would and has come.  It was a written letter that God had salvation planned out, and these were the physical symbols of the Savior to come which He generously showed His people because He is good and faithful.

 As I struggled through a year of sadness, and a year of reading words that I could not seem to hear, it was more about my obedience to do it, than the sense of the message I could receive from it.  I’m sure some of you have experienced this, right?  Again… God knew my condition and my weaknesses.  It was one of those moments in my life that He was saying to me, cover everything in a blue cloth (which were all the things that made sense to me) but cover this one thing in blue and scarlet cloths, whether it makes sense to you or not.  Just do it!  Practice obedience, for I am faithful and know why I’m asking you to do it.  I have a plan, and I have given you a Savior that faithfully loves you enough to be poured out and sacrificed for you.  And… that’s all that matters.  Just obey.

 Everyday we encounter opportunities to do what God has instructed us to do in His word, especially in regards to parenting our children.  So many times we understand some of these things; like teaching our children to consider others better than themselves (the blue covering), going on a blessing hunt (the blue covering), or teaching them about the circle of blessing (the blue covering).  But often times in our day we are instructed to do with our children what is not comfortable or does not make sense, such as,

 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24

 This is an example of the blue covering with the scarlet covering.  This is often the time that we are to obey just because God said it, and we know He is faithful! He has a perfect plan for our children, and we can trust that He loves us, and them… even more than we do!  We can obey His instructions to us, because these that we do not understand are symbols of His faithfulness to be revealed in the future of our children’s lives.  If He instructed it, we need to just do it, relying on His perfect love and knowing that someday He will bless us with understanding and the fruit of our obedience.

 Make me understand the way of Your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.  Psalms 119:27

Sharon Cannavo

Tea and Oxen

Oxen

Up at 6:00 a.m., attempting to jump in the shower before the little ones open their eyes.  You wonder if they can hear when you open your eyes, because so often they begin their fussing as soon as you peek at the new day.  So often your day begins before you are spiritually, mentally, or physically prepared.  Once again you feel slightly out of control and a little cheated of that hope for the morning peace, maybe even that short devotional time.  Once again you’re moving at the speed of light, almost like trying to run in front of a fast moving train! If you don’t get them breakfast fast enough, you have fits and tears until the food hits their tongues.  The laundry sits in piles in the hallway, and you can’t seem to get near enough to it to deposit it into the washer because of diaper changes, storybook time and the play dough set-up squeezing out all the tasks that are so vital to keeping your world turning.  You feel discouraged, depressed and defeated!  Has it ever crossed your mind (as it has mine), that if only you didn’t have these little ones demanding so many of your designated daily minutes, that your house would feel warm, fresh and inviting?  You’re table would be ready to receive your sisters in the Lord for the slightly sweet cup of tea and the smell of freshly baked coffeecake (vs. the smell of dirty diapers) would sift through the air and fill your home with the invitation for fellowship?  Hmmm….

Have you ever heard or actually stopped to think about Proverbs 14:4?  I love this verse.  As is often true of God’s Word, it has the ability to set my mind straight, comfort me, encourage me and give me the determination to push on for the prize!

Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,

but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

Proverbs 14:4

As we long for that “manger” that is in order and the sweet fellowship around our dining room table, truly what is valuable is the precious task that God has ordained for our lives, to bring up our little “oxen” in the admonition of the Lord.  We have to keep our eyes on what’s to come, not on this present day.  Our manger could be empty and would be peaceful, but what could that do for the Kingdom of God that would be as much a privilege for us as having those little lives trained up to become the next generation’s Christian workers, bringing in the harvest for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom?

Mommies, be encouraged!  The hand that rocks the cradle, truly rules the world.  Say “yes” to God and allow Him to use you to impact the lives in your home!  Only then will they make the difference for those who will grow up in homes and schools with no God.  Work to bring your children to the place that their knowledge of the love of Christ will spill out as an offering to the future adults in America, that they may know the living God, and the life of transforming grace. Teach your children to Love God with all their heart, soul and mind, and love their neighbor as themselves (Matt. 22: 37-39) and watch the fruit that will be gathered as a result!

You missed your morning devotions?  After breakfast, sit down with your little ones and share a morning devotional with them.  I have sometimes been more effected by the children’s devotionals than some of my favorites.  Purchase small little baskets, so when it’s time to do the laundry, your little one is by your side helping with his own little basket of laundry.  Allow him to empty the dishwasher (of course previously removing sharp knives or easily breakable items first :0)).  That’s when you have the opportunity to pour into his heart with your words of wisdom, instead of promoting the worldly wisdom of some foolish stranger on television.  If you involve them in the duties of the day, instead of being a distraction, they become a part of the family team.  They will feel so productive, as if they are part of the solution instead of the problem.  Kids love to be an important part of the family!!  They won’t be getting into trouble, just to get your attention.  It will take a little more time and patience for you to get the duties of your day completed, but it beats not doing them at all.  And in the long run, your little ox is growing into the strong ox that will till the fields and gather the fruit for Heaven.  Your investment, your joy, your treasures! It’s so much better than a cup of tea!

Sharon Cannavo


Sarah’s Testimony

I receive emails from Dads and Moms that have taken or are currently enrolled in the Training Hearts for Jesus biblical parenting class.  It is such an encouragement to read how the lives of these families are being transformed with the application of God’s Word through this class.  Here’s a peek at one of the emails I received recently.  I hope you are as encouraged as I was :0).

Sarah and her Family

Sarah's Group

Hi Sharon,

I wrote a little story about my day today on my blog and linked it to the Training Hearts for Jesus website. I hope that’s alright with you. If you’d like to read it you’re more than welcome to. www.fitzlife.com

Also, just a little testimony here… A few months ago Ben spent the night at his cousin’s house and it was not the best evening for my sister-in-law. It wasn’t awful, but it was a lot of work. Last week Ben was invited to go to Legoland for his cousin’s birthday. I was a little nervous because I wouldn’t be there to help (read: micro manage) Ben’s behavior and the last thing I wanted was for him to be a burden for my brother and sis-in-law during Gavin’s special day. Mark and I have really been working on training Ben’s heart in certain areas (think first-born traits) so it was with a lot of prayer and conversations with Ben that I sent him off on this really fun day. I talked at length with Carrie (sis-in-law) after they got home and these words about brought tears to my eyes; she said, “Ben was a joy, really, a delight. He was completely different from the boy who spent the night a few months ago. He was compliant and agreeable, even when he didn’t get his way. When Gavin chose to do an activity Ben went along with it without complaining or trying to be the boss.” Praise the Lord! God is so good, and so faithful. I just wanted to share that with you so you and Mario can be encouraged that your time serving through THFJ is not in vain and He is absolutely using your wisdom to build His kingdom.

Blessings to you…

Sarah

P.S. This is by no means saying our work is done… I think we will be training hearts in our house, unless Jesus returns, for at least 18 more years. 🙂

Plans and Hopes

I once heard a man verbalize his impatience with those who quote Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,

He declared it was not a quote for us today, but was directed specifically at the Jewish exiles in Babylon, who had been exiled due to their rebellion against the Lord. These Jews, who at the time were being encouraged to accept their consequence, settle in, stop listening to the lies and promises of the false prophets, plant gardens, marry and increase, and basically  bloom where they were planted.  Was all that true?  Yes.  But, is that the end of the history lesson? Absolutely not!

I said nothing at the time because I wanted to think it through and figure out why his declaration so saddened my heart.  I felt he was a representative of many believers who tend to forget what the point of God’s Word is all about.  There can almost be a sense of egotism, belittling others who rely on the hope that comes from verses like this.  These scoffers become overly scholastic about the scriptures, forgetting the very reason God taught holy men to write the Bible.  Please, don’t misunderstand me.  I am all for studying the Word of God, and being a good berean, correctly dividing His Word through proper interpretation, but that should be on the heels of remembering that God’s purpose for us is to know Him.  The only revelation of God’s character that we have is His Holy Word.  The Bible is filled with history from the creation of the World into the 90’s.  Why doesn’t the Bible go beyond that?  Because God was satisfied with the Scripture’s revelation of who He is and His plan for salvation at that point.  Everything that God wants us to know about Him is found in the 66 books of the Bible.  From that point on, the degree of intimacy we have with the person of God will depend on the intimacy we have with His Auto-(written by God, the Holy Spirit)-biography.  Do we spend time with God, through His Word on a daily basis?  If not, how can we possibly know Him or the plans He has for us?

Interestingly enough, I have often gained encouragement through Jeremiah 29:11, not because I think God is going to do in my life exactly what he declares to the exiles in this passage, but because I take a huge amount of hope in the revelation of His compassion and love that he pours out on these very disobedient children.  As I have spent hours walking through the Old Testament, I have been both frustrated by those “stiff necked” people of God, and at the same time, humbly convicted in the knowledge that without the power of His Holy Spirit in my life, I would have done no better.

As a mom I have desired the very best for my children.  I have done everything I can to raise them up according to the admonition of the Lord and I have failed at so many points.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t do it perfectly.  That is where knowing the precious, loving, compassionate character of my God and Savior, through His History Book becomes so impacting!  I do believe that God knows the plans He has for me and for my family.  I do believe He has specific plans for my children, and in my frailty I cannot thwart His plans.  He is God!  In God’s gentleness and love, I do believe His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us.  Does that mean there will be no trials, no illness, no poverty in our lives?  Absolutely not!  Hardships will be a part of His good plan (I know that because I read that as a pattern in His Word), but I have the opportunity to accept that as His good plan and to trust the outcome in the hands of my loving and compassionate God.  Even David, when conscience stricken regarding sin, repenting and asking for relief from his guilt, was given three options for consequence:

So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.” (2 Sam. 24:13)

and in response:

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”(2 Sam. 24:14)

“His mercy is great”!  Will God prosper us? Yes, spiritually.  And He will keep us safe eternally.  That is where my confident hope lies as He has provided us with the firm truth of Salvation through the blood of His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, who is our propitiation.  One cannot have this promise of hope for the future and the avoidance of harm if that one has not submitted her life under the authority of King Jesus.  My children will have to go through their trials in life.  As they make their decisions to be submitted Christians, they will spend the rest of their lives being refined in the fires that are their sanctification.  I would worry for them more if they did not go through the hardships, for God chastens those He loves.  His character, as seen in His Word, is that of the perfect Father.  One who knows the plans He has for us.  Plans to prosper them/us and not to harm them/us.  Plans to give us a hope and a future.  The question is not whether this scripture is for us today… but whether we trust Him with the Truth of His Words to us.  I am so grateful that my children sit in His hands, and not my own.  As their mom, I will be committed to continue to direct them to the relationship that saves, as found between the covers of the Bible, that they may glorify God their Father, and enjoy Him forever!

Sharon Cannavo

Backwards Obedience

John 14:15  If you love me you will keep my commandments.

Many times this verse is read and understood in reverse.  We are so conditioned in this world to think that we must do in order to get. So, we read this verse like this:

If you keep my commandments, then I will know that you love Me.

In reality, we cannot possibly do enough of anything to give anything to God.  That was the whole point of Him sending His precious Son to the earth to die for our sins.  If we could do (in this case, work) in order to get (in this case, salvation), then Christ’s death was in vain and we have no need for a Savior.  Of course, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we desperately know we need Him to be our Savior!  Therefore, it is our complete reliance on our Savior, and our humble acceptance of Jesus that prompts us to respond in joyful gratitude and good works for the redemption, forgiveness, and salvation that is freely given to us through Christ’s work on the cross.

So, while it is important to teach our children obedience to the Lord and to daddy and mommy, it is imperative that we are not confused.  We do not want to inadvertently mislead our children into the misconception that their relationship with Christ can be earned through works.  When we are training the hearts of our children to be obedient to Jesus, we must be very careful not to imply or send the message to our children that their obedience or good works is what they do to prove to themselves and those around them that they love Jesus.  Amazingly, this could promote pride…the very sin that could harden their hearts and keep them from a relationship with God.  Instead, we must help them understand that when they do something good or make an obedient choice, it came as a result of the fruit of the love of Christ in them, as we are not able to do good in and of ourselves.  We want them to be God-reliant, not self-reliant.

Phil 2:13  For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.

This gives us cause to rejoice with our children when they do good, thanking God for His perfect grace and love in us.  His goodness in us becomes our blessing both for ourselves and for those around us.  When we see our children obey and do good, let’s help them to give glory to God!  Let’s be happy for them as they learn that goodness is a reflection of the love of Christ.  Sometimes….once in a while….it is even fun to celebrate obedience and goodness with an ice cream.  Cherish the simple times and moments of celebrating God’s love with your children and watch how they fall in love with Jesus!

John 14:12  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do.

Sharon Cannavo
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