Start as you mean to go on. It’s one of my many mommy mottos. It can apply to any area of our lives, but as mommies, especially if you are a new mommy or the mommy of younger children, it can really be applied to just about every step you take in your Mommy Ministry.
Now that part of my Mommy Ministry is this blog, I want to put “Start as you mean to go on” into full swing and I want to just jump right into the deep end with you here. I hope that is okay with you. I could have written a few “Welcome” blog posts to start us off a little slow, but as you probably know if you are checking out a Blog called “Mommy Ministry” – mommies don’t have a lot of time to “slow-down”. So let’s just dive right in. If the water feels a little chilly at first, give it a second, once you start having fun with the Mommy Ministry community, you’ll feel nice and warm and you won’t want to get out! So let’s dive right in:
Start as you mean to go on. It seems like a pretty obvious concept. And, truth be told, it is. But in some areas, it is harder to put into action than others, which is why I am writing this post today; to tell you just one way, the most important, in my opinion, that me and my family have put “start as you mean to go on” into action and the amazing tool that we found as an answer to prayer to help us out.
Start as you mean to go on:
First, you need to know where you are going. What direction are you headed? What is your end goal or destination?
In our case, we want to return our daughter to the Lord. Ali, our one-year old daughter is a gift from God. We are her parents on earth; God is her heavenly and eternal Father. He has entrusted her little life to us for a temporary time, while we have her on earth and part of that responsibility, the most important part, in our opinion, is to return her to Him.
Second, you need to have a plan. Getting anywhere doesn’t ever just happen. We have to be intentional and purposeful about HOW we get to where we are going. And if we don’t start off the journey right, we risk a few detours that may or may not be very pleasant. (In this step, it is important to remember that God has a plan and that He is sovereign, because inevitably, especially when dealing with children, there will be some detours, trusting Him will help us to get through them in the best way possible.)
For us, this plan is multi-layered. There isn’t just ONE thing that is going to keep us on track while guiding our daughter spiritually. But just like on any journey, one of the most important tools you can have is a compass or a map… something to guide you… a TomTom or a GPS system – whatever it is you prefer. For the Mommy and family trying to raise/train their child(ren) up in the ways of the Lord, our GPS is The Bible.
Third, it means being part of the journey. Start as you mean to go on means that YOU are part of the process. You can turn on your GPS system, but if you aren’t behind the wheel actually driving the vehicle, well then you’re not going to get very far.
In our case, we can’t just hand our child (especially one that cannot read) a Bible and expect that she is going to train herself up in the ways of the Lord. We also can’t train them up in the ways of the Lord while we live your lives in ways that are NOT of the Lord. Being a Mommy/parent means sacrifice, self-discipline and so much more, especially when it comes to training up your child.
For me, personally, this meant reflecting on my own choices and my own life. And let me be honest, looking in that mirror was NOT so fun at times. For example, while we were pregnant with our daughter, I remember being on a road trip with my husband. (Road trips are nice because they offer a unique opportunity for uninterrupted conversation). I remember this conversation so well, because it ended with us making a major decision about our parenting. But I don’t want to jump there just yet. I need to tell you how we got there, because it is in THAT piece where I realized how parenting this way would not just affect our daughter, but myself and my husband as well.
Having a daughter means that you have some “extra” things to think about… like dressing modestly for example. Something that was already blatantly obvious to me, before I was ever pregnant with a daughter, was how immodest girls and women’s clothing is. Walking through a little girls’ department in a store (not the Juniors… the LITTLE girls) was almost embarrassing to me… WHO in their right mind thinks a mini skirt and a halter top are appropriate for a 4T? And how does it have the opportunity to get BETTER (aka – more modest) from there? So… we ended up talking about “dress code” for our daughter. I had some rather modest or conservative ideas in mind – all of which my husband was totally on board with and the one that helped us blast through our glass ceiling was this: No bikinis.
“I don’t think bikinis are appropriate,” I started, “maybe when she is like, a baby, but then we move to one-pieces only… until she is older… I don’t know? What age do you think she should be allowed to start wearing bikinis? (At this point in the conversation, I could tell by the look on his face that I had lost him somewhere)… What?” I asked.
“Well, I would just think the opposite, let her wear them when she is little and then move her into one-pieces when she has stuff to cover up.”
It was a good point. But realistically speaking, it was the opposite direction of the way the world moved, and she’d probably hate us when the day came that it was time to move from cute two-pieces to not-so-cute-one-pieces. And there it began a small voice in my head reminding me of something, “IN the world… not OF the world” it whispered. “But bikinis are cute! And one-pieces… aren’t!” my mind argued back (not so quietly, I might add). Now, WHO was I fighting for, my someday 16-year-old daughter, or myself? And WHAT was I fighting for?
“No two-pieces, ever. It will just be a rule from the beginning. She’ll never know anything else except one-pieces and modesty.” I said matter-of-factly to my husband, who not having heard my inner-mind conversation looked at me stunned and thrown-off. His look said “How did you get there?” (This happens a lot: I have a conversation up to a certain point in my head and then I let him in on the tail-end… he loves it! Can you hear my sarcasm?) He took a minute to process the new idea I offered and then he dropped the bomb that kept me quiet for a good while:
“What are you going to say when she asks why you can wear bikinis and she can’t?”
Again, in my mind: “What am I going to say? I don’t need to SAY anything. I’m the parent, I’m the adult, the authority; when she is the adult, SHE can choose to wear a bikini if she wants to.” And then the quiet voice again (who I know now was the Holy Spirit) “IN not OF” it said. A few more minutes of silence from me and then…
“Here’s the thing, hun. We need to teach her these things based on God’s rules, not our own. And really we shouldn’t be teaching them as rules, but as opportunities to honor God with our bodies and our lives. The only way to really teach her that will be to give her a heart for God. And really, it can’t just be about modestly dressing, we should really do this for EVERYTHING we teach her. Basically, we need to train her about who God is and who she is in God. And then we need to hammer out the details so that when specifics come up, like wearing a bikini, we can use God’s Word to teach and train her about them.”
“I agree, but where in the Bible does it say that she can’t wear a bikini?”
(What was it with all his mini-bombs that day in the car?) “Well, I don’t know,” I said overwhelmed, “but I KNOW it says stuff about dressing modestly and honoring God with our bodies… I just don’t know exactly where… I’ll have to start studying and making a list of special scripture verses that we will probably need to have on hand… I need to read the Bible… the whole thing… I need to memorize more scripture.” A small pause for effect and then, ” I need to stop wearing bikinis” (ha! my own mini-bomb!)
Again, another odd look from my husband.
“Well, if we want HER to live for God and honor Him with her life and her choices,” I explained… then we need to lead by example. There is a lot more change about to happen then we realize,” I said referring to when our daughter arrived, “but when we get home, I’m tossing all my bikinis… and then you have to take me shopping because I will need a one-piece.”
Start as you mean to go on.
Yep, it packs a punch alright. But in this particular situation (the bikinis) my daughter will never remember a day when she wore one (or I did for that matter). People tend to laugh that we are starting this “rule” as they see it, so early – “Can it really matter at 6 months old?” they will ask. Well, for us, yes, because it isn’t about a “rule” it is about a way of life and training our daughter in the ways of the Lord from the very start. She is one-year old now, she doesn’t care if she wears a one-piece or a t-shirt into the pool, and she certainly has no idea WHY she wears what she does yet, but when the conversation arises, I’m prepared to explain why that choice has been made for both of us.
In the meantime, there are likely to be some other more age-appropriate situations that arise, where I will need to use the Bible to train and teach our daughter in the ways of the Lord.
And I DID actually read the entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation after my daughter was born – I was a mom on a mission – I did it in 100 days. And I am memorizing more scriptures too. But at the end of the day, as we rapidly approach the situations that will need training, discipline, correction, teaching, I was finding that I didn’t know where those topics could easily be found in God’s Word. And so I began to pray about it – “Help me, Lord, to be prepared to train up my child”…
And then one day, on Twitter, I saw another Mommy Blogger post a give-away for a Child Training Bible. I didn’t know what a Child Training Bible was, I just knew it sounded good! So I hopped over to the website – www.childtrainingbible.com and there it was… God’s answer to my prayer.
I don’t need to go into all the details about the Child Training Bible – what it is and how it works, because you can see it all in a much clearer way on their website – GO THERE (as soon as you are done reading this post). What I DO need to tell you is that I didn’t enter the give-away that I had spotted on Twitter, I immediately purchased my CTB kit from their website. I have put mine together and I have started pulling it out and using it with my daughter already.
My one-year old may not understand what I am saying, or what I am holding (The Bible), or WHY I am doing so, but as we continue to use it in times of “testing” (for example, when I take something away from her and she gets angry or she cries because I won’t give her something she wants) she will eventually make some small connections. For instance, “Mommy pulls out this book when I get upset” or “Mommy is using her ‘explaining’ voice when she is reading from that book”. Whatever it is that she connects, eventually, she won’t remember a time when we didn’t pull out the Bible for guidance. And my prayer is that, someday, it will be her automatic response to any situation life hands her, starting at a young age, to just go to God’s Word.
Start as you mean to go on. This is how I am doing that in just ONE special way.
Now, let me help YOU start as you mean to go on.
I have two Child Training Bibles to give-away to my new readers! (You didn’t think I would kick-off my Mommy Ministry blog without any “fireworks” did you?)
All you have to do is comment on this post below with the name of a friend whom you will forward this Blog Post Link. You may enter as many times as you want, but it must be a different name/friend for each entry. If that friend comes on and comments – you will get an extra entry! Make sure NOT to use last names just last initials (Jane D.). The give-away contest will be open through the end of June and winners will be announced July 1st! (Since this blog is brand new, I want to give as many new readers the chance to find us and join in!)
I am so glad you found Mommy Ministry – I hope that this first post will be a blessing to at least ONE person who found us! Until next time, may your Mommy Ministry be blessed!
UPDATE ON GIVEAWAY ENTRY RULES: Wednesday, June 13th – Due to high traffic volume on the blog (yay!) I need to limit the number of entries to five per person (you will still get an additional entry if the person whom you send the link to comments on the post). Thanks for understanding. Note: anyone who has more than 5 entries up to 4:07pm EST on Wed. June 13th will be able to keep all of their entries. Updated rules will take effect after that time stamp.