Tag Archives: christian parenting

Biblical Breastfeeding: Genesis 49:25

breastfeeding, bible, verses

 

Genesis 49:25 reads “Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb” (King James Version)

Jacob is on his deathbed blessing Joseph and his other sons.  Interestingly, he uses the name for God that is sometimes translated by Jewish scholars as “the many breasted one“.  Now, the name “El Shaddai”, is not typically translated that way.  Typically Christians translate El Shaddai as “God Almighty”.  In Genesis 17, God identifies himself as El Shaddai and promises to make Abraham the father of many nations. In his blessing of Joseph, Abraham calls on that name of God.  Conventionally, these blessings are made using the covenant name for God and referencing God’s unbounded powers of provision.

Which, when you think about the potential metaphor of ‘the many breasted one’, kinda makes sense doesn’t it?  Breasts are the sole provision for all babies in Jacob’s time.  No one survives that is not fed from a breast, and breast milk flows to feed baby after baby both when mothers are feeding sequential children and in tandem.  Frequently, God refers to himself caring for us the way a mother cares for her children.  And although contemporary Christians get a little touchy with any suggestion of God with a feminine tone, women were created in the image of God just as men were.  God shares similarities with women too.  And when El Shaddai cares for us faltering earthlings, He nourishes and sustains, quiets and comforts us.  He builds us up, strengthens us, and gets us through the day.  That is what milk does for a baby.  I need to sit down with someone who knows Hebrew better than I do to more fully understand the meaning of the name El Shaddai, but several authors suggest that the name is derived straight from the word for breast.  (Here, here, here.)

So Jacob is calling down a blessing for Joshua, and references the blessings of womb and breast from El Shaddai.  The blessings of womb and breast are life.  Nourishment.  Comfort.  Protection.  Love.  The reference to breastfeeding is tender, and powerful, and a beautiful phrase to speak as one’s last words to his son.  What a powerful way to call attention to the full circle of life, by issuing a last blessing that calls back on the blessings of giving life.

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Obedience

There’s something to be said about obedience.  I’m not sure what, exactly, I’m supposed to say, but the ghost of a post has been following me around lately, poking me slightly and asking to be written.

Obedience, Biblical Obedience, Christian Discipline

There is some relationship between obedience and love and faith that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Romans 1:5, 2 Corinthians 9:13, and 2 John 1:6 all reference the way that we become obedience when we follow Christ.  A potentially causal relationship, but not exclusive.  What I’m seeing is this: As Christians, we obey the commands of God (to the best that we understand them and have courage for anyway) because we trust Him.  We have faith in Him to be asking the right things of us, so we do the things He asks.

I don’t expect my three year old to obey me blindly.  At this point I like to believe I’ve given her ample evidence to trust me, but I’m not teaching her to suspend her critical thinking skills in the presence of authority.  I want her to learn the nature of obedience – that she assesses previous behavior from someone and decides whether or not they are trustworthy and deserving of her obedience.  I want her to learn to decide what is right, whether that be compliance or defiance in any given situation, and to have the courage to do what needs to be done. Her obedience will not always be popular and her defiance will not always be without consequence.  Both require her strength.  Breaking her will for my own ease and laziness does not build her strength.  And it certainly does not build up strength in the body of Christ.

Obedience is the application of one’s will to the wishes of another.  Obedience is choosing to comply. You cannot be obedient if you have no will.  You cannot be obedient if you have no choice.  If I go to church because my livelihood depends on it, I’m not obeying God.  I’m not choosing to worship God because of my faith or my relationship with God.  I’d be choosing to go out of self-preservation, not obedience.  Which makes going to church the wrong thing.

This is one of my major qualms with spanking.  “Do it or I’ll spank you” and “Don’t do it or I’ll spank you” only teach selfishness and self preservation. They only teach our kids to look out for themselves.  They don’t teach our children the WHY behind our requests, and they don’t teach our children how to choose obedience out of faith or trust or love.

I hear people complaining that we’re a post-Christian nation, but it seems like many of us were raised to be that way.  We were raised to do what we were told lest we be hit – we never learned to do what was right because it was right.  Or to do what was right because it was asked of us by someone we trusted and loved.  Is it any wonder that teaching us to think only about ourselves taught us to be selfish?  Is it any wonder that teaching us to look at the consequences instead of the motives produced lazy people?  I’ve heard “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about the government” but I want to add this: “If you teach selfishness and laziness to your children, you don’t get to complain when they act that way as adults.”

Where has this gotten me?  If I make a request of my three year old, she will either obey or not.  If she doesn’t do what I ask, she will nearly always engage me in a discussion about the request. She’s three, so we’re working on tact and word choice, but mostly she’s kind and thoughtful and insightful.  Sometimes she needs to know why I’m asking and she needs to know why the other choices don’t work.  She thinks about what I’m asking and she thinks about the situation.  She has on occasion come up with a better solution than the one my husband or I initially suggested.  She has offered compromises that we might or might not take her up on.  She’s learning how to make decisions, and she’s learning how to see her role in the world.  (She also sometimes flat out refuses because she’s tired or hungry or attempting to establish her independence.  She’s three.  Three year olds do that sometimes.)

I have no doubt that this path is less convenient.  I have no doubt that requiring first time obedience is easier on the parent.  But it hasn’t done much for society, it hasn’t done much for women, it hasn’t done much for the individual, and it hasn’t done much for the church.  It’s not worth the cost for me.  I’ll take the hard road, because it’s the right road.

Because luckily, I was able to restore my will and reclaim it after my childhood.

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Dulce de leche: The Beatitudes for Parents

Dulce de leche: The Beatitudes for Parents.

 

This is what I’m talking about.  All that stuff Jesus said about mercy and love and anger HAVE to apply to our relationships with our kids.  I am going to keel over with absolute shock if I get to heaven and God is chastising parents for not being mean enough to their kids.  Let’s take the same mercy and love and forgiveness that we show to others around us and let’s show it to our kids.  If God believes these traits are important to human interaction, let’s not let our fear of Him being wrong (and therefore our kids turning in to monsters) stand between us and following God.  Amen?

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And Another Thing

Prequel: No More Dead Kids

 

The other verse that I couldn’t quite put my finger on yesterday was this one:  Matthew 5:40 – “If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

This verse has a sense of submission to it.  In keeping with Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”   But Michael Pearl had that excitement.  That challenge.  He wants to be pulled in to court.  He wants to go and have a grand show about him and his book.  He wants the media coverage.  Pride. Not once during the interview did he express remorse over the deaths of those three children.  Not once did he express sadness for that these children and their families have gone through as a result of Michael Pearl’s advice.  True, he doesn’t believe the parents followed his advice, but the parents sure did (as do the investigators in Lydia’s case) and even if they weren’t following the advice correctly, the fact is that they were trying to.  They were trying to do what Michael Pearl advised and they killed their daughter.  But Micheal Pearl has not even once mentioned going back over his book to be sure that the fellowship is what’s emphasized (as he claims) or adding another section of warnings about when to stop if the spankings aren’t working.  He is sure, without wavering, that no bad could have come out of what he wrote.  Arrogance.  There is something very strange, and very unsettling, deep in my soul, watching someone completely unphased by the mention of a small girl having been beaten to death.

And what Christian can hear about what is being done “in the name of Christ” and not feel misrepresented?  Or betrayed by these fellow believers?  Children are dying and being told that the beatings are what Christ wants for them.  What follower of Christ can hear that without flinching? In my life, I’ve seen this from people who have already started reading the publications by Michael Pearl and No Greater Joy Ministries.

The other day I heard that the author of a book I’ve started (and liked) wrote a blog post degrading women.  The post has since been removed, and the author seems to believe that what he wrote was wrong.  But I still see the book differently.  I have a clearer picture (a la 1 Corinthians 13) of the author and his character and his sin.  He’s more human and less idealized and that reminds me to check and question everything he wrote.  Because he is not Christ.  He is imperfect.  I’ve never seen that response from a follower of Pearl.  The adhesion to his principles must be dogmatic and unquestioning if they are to work.  And that adhesion seems to glue those followers to him as well.  Sad.  Because Christ didn’t seem to believe you could serve both him and another person.

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Anger

Matthew 5:21-22

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about this verse last night.  Is there any way this doesn’t apply to my role as a mother?  Aren’t we supposed to be the adults in the relationship?  Our children have to learn how to accept the actions of other people without taking it personally.  At least, that’s what I think I’m supposed to be doing after reading this verse.  Accepting that 2 year olds don’t always obey instantly.  Accepting that 2 year olds don’t always obey at all.  Accepting those things and moving forward with what needs to get done.  I won’t ignore her feelings, I won’t disrespect her, but neither will I respond to her immaturity with my own.

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Matthew 25:35-40 & Proverbs 31:15

(Matthew 25:35-40)

I’ve been trying to keep this verse in the back of my head lately.  When my kids are hungry or thirsty or tired or cold, I am serving Christ by meeting those needs.  Even when the toddler would stop being cold if she’d just wear her jacket or would stop feeling hungry if she ate the food rather than throw it on the floor, I am still serving Christ by dealing with her unreasonable little self.  And finding a solution to the problem with her, as opposed to leaving her to let her figure it out herself, seems a bit more consistent with the Christ in my bible.

 

Also, Proverbs 31:15 which says “She gets up while it is still night to provide food for her family” has really turned around my attitude at bedtime and for night time nursings.  Pearl In Oyster pointed this out on Tuesday and it’s really struck home for me.  This is a season in my life, and a short one, and simply a part of my service to Christ.  Even if the baby should really be full by now, or the toddler wouldn’t be hungry if she had just eaten her dinner.  The fact of the matter is that no matter what has happened before, they are hungry now, and not able to sleep until they have full bellies.

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Meredith Fein Lichtenberg, CCE: Mom on Mom

“Mothers are people, not categories. 

. . . it’s glaringly obvious that the person speaking is tired and not thinking about what she’s saying, not thinking about all the obvious exceptions to what she’s saying, and would not say it if she heard what she sounded like.”

via Meredith Fein Lichtenberg, CCE: Mom on Mom.

Love it!

Often I consider the receptive vs expressive nature of the internet.  We subscribe to people who think like us, ‘friend’ people who have similar views, and frequent the blogs that espouse what we want to hear.  It’s all very good for encouraging and normalizing the new habits/thought processes you’re trying to internalize, but tends to turn us into extremists.  Instead of being open to a different idea or experience, we become experts in our favorite rhetoric and begin regurgitating those talking points on any forum we see.

We aren’t being receptive.  You don’t get ‘likes’ or comments of encouragement for sincerely listening to someone’s perspective.  You get them for skillfully and hurtfully delivering your own message.

Most of us, most of the time, are trying to be helpful.  Using this powerful analogy or that emotionally charged line is meant to get your attention and show you the issue under a new light.

Sometimes that works, but not often.  Not on the internet.

Like usual, I am guilty of this.  I try really hard to be loving and kind and understanding, and I usually do a better job in person than online.  But even in person I sometimes fail.  I haven’t slept that beautiful, deep sleep of the non-parent in 3 years, and that does wear on a person’s eloquence.

But I am trying.  I do try.  Which is why I so encourage being challenged.  I am not so proud as to cling to my opinions in the face of a good and reasoned argument to the contrary.  I am not opposed to changing my opinions or editing my words.

Because in the end, this is just the internet.  I am just me.  I don’t really take myself all that seriously.  And there’s no reason for you to either.  I’m just figuring things out as I go along, and writing here so you can follow along if you like.  No big whoop.

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