Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 13: Parent, The Teacher, Part 3

*Disclaimer: This post is long. I know that. I'm asking you to consider taking the time to read every word, slowly. I really feel like this is the essence of Grace Parenting. It's the foundation all of the other thoughts, tips, and methods are built on. With that in mind, I'm asking you: Please don't skip this post. 

Last time, we talked about the importance of teaching our children in the areas of education and emotions.

Today we're going to talk about how we can teach our children spiritually.

Because, in the end, if we have gained the whole world, but lost the soul of our child....we have truly lost it all.


Many parents talk about God with their young children. It goes something like this:

"Johnny, what you just did was BAD. Jesus is sad now. You don't want Jesus to be sad, do you? Well, then, you need to obey."


"God hates lying. The Bible says 'XYZ' about lying. You better never lie again."


"God punishes me when I disobey Him. That's why I have to punish you now."

Each one of these scenarios (while mixed with some truth) is NOT giving our children the gospel of grace.

It is using God as a discipline threat.

We shouldn't be shocked that teenagers are running as fast as they can from a God who is viewed as nothing but a sad, angry, disappointed disciplinarian.

The question is, then,

How can we point our children to the true, living, grace-filled gospel of Jesus Christ?

First, we must define what the gospel IS and what it is NOT.


The gospel--in a nutshell--is that God, the creator of the universe, had a plan when He created everything.      The first man, Adam, was sinless until he ate of the forbidden tree. Every human since Adam has also sinned against God.

God set in place the beginning of His plan for mankind: a way of atonement, through a sacrificial system, to offer forgiveness for those who broke God's laws. A person would bring a lamb to the high priest to be slain for his sins. Atonement was found in the blood that was shed. (All of this is found in the first three books of the Bible.)

For thousands of years (as documented in the Old Testament), this sacrificial system remained in place. With a few exceptions, most believers in the true God were Jews. But all through the Old Testament, starting with the fall of man, we see the promise of a Messiah.

At the appointed time, God sent Jesus, His only Son (and equally God AND man) to this world, as He had promised. Jesus, the Messiah, became the once-for-all sacrifice that ended the need for the original sacrificial system. His blood was shed when He was crucified (He became the lamb) and He ended the need for a high priest. Believers can now come boldly to the throne of grace! 

Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, and seen by many before His return to heaven. He left us with a new promise, that He would one day come again and bring all believers to live with Him eternally.

Forgiveness of sins--for all people, of all nations-- is now found ONE way: through redeeming faith in Jesus Christ.

I love this passage:

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. BUT God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath to through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that ALL have sinned....For if  by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the FREE GIFT came upon all men unto justification of LIFE. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound, But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5)"

The Gospel: Jesus died, was buried, and rose again the third day. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven is found only through faith in the gift that Jesus offers.



The gospel is not found in church membership. Or baptism. Or communion. Or mass. Or good works. Or giving of your money. Or because your parents were Christians. Or by following the law.

There is NOTHING we can do to earn our salvation. 

It is a GIFT. It is not earned. We cannot do enough "good" things to earn our salvation. The work has already been done! Now, true saving faith will be known "by its works" other words, our faith is shown by our love and works for God, but only HE can do the work of redemption and forgiveness of sins.


      The Gospel of Grace In Our Parenting

I'm sure by now you're wondering, Where is she going with all of this?  

Stay with me, cause this is where it gets good. :) These thoughts revolutionalized our parenting and revitalized our relationships with our children.

Many parents give their children a rule (law) to obtain, blame it on the Bible, punish every single infraction of that law, and teach the child to try even harder next time.

Why is this so against the gospel of grace?

Because without the gospel, they will never be more than moral hypocrites, full of righteous pride, yet completely empty inside.
You see, if we cannot work hard enough to please God, why are we teaching our children that they should?
We are giving them the law--"Work very hard and maybe you will eventually please God and your parents."--instead of the gospel of grace: There is nothing we can DO to earn God's approval. It is ONLY through His power that we can choose righteousness.

We do right because it shows our love for Him and for others, not because it earns His approval or makes Him "happy".


Why is this so important?

Many children are raised in an atmosphere of perfectionism.

They never measure up to God or their parent's approval.

They spend their childhood frustrated that they are never "good enough"....and these feelings carry into adulthood, causing relationship and spiritual problems.

Perhaps this rings true for you. Maybe you remember all too well the feelings of inadequacy. If you were raised under a harsh, law-filled parenting style, you can vouch for what I'm trying to say. You know what it feels like to think that ADULTS can fail, but children must be perfect.You know the pain of not measuring high enough.

I believe part of the problem is that we make the mistake of teaching our children that they must succeed at being "good" in order to meet the approval of God and man.

The truth is, they will NEVER be truly good. Instead, they will spend their life failing, seeking forgiveness, and trying again. They will need to daily seek power and wisdom from the Holy Spirit, and even then, they will still fail.

The goal, then, is not perfection. It is a right relationship with both us AND God.

With this in mind, it is SO vitally important that we raise our little ones in an atmosphere of grace, second chances, forgiveness, and restoration.

We need to teach our children that they will always fall short of God's perfect standard but that HE finished the work of salvation at the cross, and that His love for us is not altered by our behavior. Our treatment of our children should mimic His.

God wants willing hearts, not perfect actions. We must focus on their hearts, not merely their behavior.

We cannot afford the high price of teaching them a false gospel---their very souls are at stake.

Thank you for sticking with me in this long post. :) My heart longs to offer encouragement to you on your parenting journey. Blessings!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Letter To My Daughter On Her Birthday

Dearest Eliana Rose,

Today, February 13th, 2013, is your eleventh birthday.

I remember the moment I found out we were expecting you. It had been a long road of infertility, heartache, doctors appointments, and disappointments in the years before you. There has never been a moment in my life where I have felt such incredible joy as the first time I saw two lines on a pregnancy test. You were on your way, and I was finally a mother.

We chose your name because it means "My God has answered my prayer". You were and are a gift from heaven. You were His before your birth, you were His at the moment of your birth, and you are His still.

-Three weeks old-

Your birth was my first attempt at an unmedicated birth. Thinking about touching you, kissing you, nursing you, and smelling your newborn smell is what got me through the long labor. You were worth every ounce of pain and I would have labored forever just to experience the joy of holding my first child in my arms. From the moment of your birth, we were inseparable. Where I went, you went, for years. I couldn't stand even a short time away from your sweet little self.

-One Year Old-

You loved to nurse, snuggle, sleep with Mommy, giggle with Daddy, and play with books. Lots and lots of books. You had a shy nature and reserved your jubilant personality for those who knew you best. You were a gentle and quiet soul, easy-going and self-entertained.

-8 Months Old-

As our firstborn, you were granted "guinea pig" status. We learned so much about ourselves as we learned how to parent you. I'm so sorry for the times we were too hard on you, the times when we didn't realize how unreasonable we were being, the times when we were harsh in the name of "godly parenting". We know better now and I love watching you as you learn to parent gently by caring for your siblings. You will be an incredible, patient mother someday.

-2 Years Old-

I remember how badly you wanted to have long hair like Mommy. For a very long time, your hair just did NOT grow! We began to wonder if it would ever get long! (it finally did and now it's gorgeous!)

-Just Turned Five-

Two busy little brothers came in quick succession after you. Even though you played with boys most of the day, you were (and are) a girly-girl at heart. We stuck close together, you and I, playing dolls and tea parties. You prayed daily for a little when I got pregnant again, you were hopeful that it would be a girl.

-6 Years Old-

-Just Turned 7-

Instead, God blessed us with another boy. :)

-Ethan, One week old, Ellie, 7 years old-

-Ethan, 3 weeks old-

You continued to pray for a girl, and your dream came true the following year when we traveled across the world to meet your sister for the first time.

-Gabbey's Gotcha Week, China. Ellie, almost 9-

Gabbey melted your heart the first time you held her tiny body. She attached to you right along with Daddy and Mommy. I love it when she cries for "Sissy!!" to sit by her in the van or at meal-time. You are truly "buddies" and have been so good for each other.

BUT--God wasn't done answering your prayer just yet! Instead of just ONE sister---in just nine months, He blessed you with a total of THREE sisters!

-Sisters by adoption, Friends for life--Johanna, Eliana, Gabriella, Alyssia-

I'm most proud of you for how you've welcomed Johanna into our family. Sharing your first-born place in the family was harder than any of us imagined....and yet you gracefully and repetitively have chosen to love Johanna. You two have become the best of friends, growing into sisters in the true sense of the word. You have taught Johanna how to share, how to give sacrificially, how to treat others, and how to forgive. I want you to always remember, that even though you are no longer the "oldest" in the Bergey Bunch, our love for you in unchanged---deep as the deepest ocean, high as the highest sky, never ending, always growing.

Daddy and I stand amazed at the mature young woman you are becoming. You still have lots of "little girl play" left in you, and I kind-of hope you never lose that. :) Your innocence is radiating. I'm so thankful that you're not swayed a bit by the typical pre-teen fads, fashions, and moods.

Always remember that true beauty is not found in body-size, makeup, clothing, or accessories....True beauty comes from a genuine walk with God, and an unselfish love for others.

In our eyes, you are truly beautiful.

Our only prayer for you is that you will serve God with complete abandon. Hold nothing back--only follow Him. Let Him mold you into His perfect masterpiece. Nothing else will bring you radical, radiant joy in life.

I promise to do my best to hold your hand through life's greatest joys and trials. I will encourage you, I will help you pick up the pieces, I will rejoice with you, and I will cry my eyes out with you. I can't promise you that life will always be easy, but I know without a doubt that you will overcome the challenges that come your way. Know that I pray for you daily---always, I'm praying for you.

Happy 11th Birthday, my beautiful daughter.

I love you, more than words can express.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Day in the Life of the Bergey Bunch

I'm thoroughly enjoying the 30 Days of Grace Parenting Tips series.  From the feedback I'm receiving, I think many of you are enjoying it as well. 

But I thought a little break might be fun, especially since I haven't been adding pictures to most of the posts, and let's face it---blogs without pictures Right? 

Don't you enjoy getting a peak into other families' daily lives? It's like sitting down to tea with a new friend-- through cyber-space!

This post is for those of you who have ever wondered what a typical day looks like in our house--- or for those of you who just enjoy pictures. (Cause there is a TON of pictures in this post.) 

I will warn you, however. I am not a professional photographer. 

All those cute pictures on my blog? My amazing sister took them. She's the family photographer. Not me. :)

These pictures are just quickly-captured-candid-moments of 

A Day In The Life Of The Bergey Bunch

FYI: None of this was staged. As a matter of fact, I didn't even plan this in advance. I did my best not to make it fake. (as evidenced by my make-up-less face. lol) Anyone can stage photographs to make their lives look perfect. :)

I get up, do my morning routine, and start waking children up. As soon as the youngest children are awake and pottied, they go to their highchairs to play until breakfast.

Nathaniel starts the morning with sorting laundry. Normally we do all of our laundry on Tuesdays and Fridays, but we spent Tuesday afternoon with my sister so we were a little behind. 

Wednesday morning is bath morning, so no one gets dressed just yet. :) 

The girls make their bed, Johanna fills the water cups, Ellie helps me fill the plates, and everyone heads to the table for breakfast. 

 On the menu for today---French Toast sticks, strawberries, and yogurt with granola on top.


Here's what my kitchen looked like during breakfast. :) 

The other rooms (besides the boys bedroom, I think) were pretty clean, though. 

Breakfast over, Johanna and Eliana head to the shower. Nathaniel starts his schoolwork and the four youngest stay at the kitchen table with toys and puzzles. (I keep them close when I need to clean---otherwise, they are making messes as fast as I'm cleaning them up!) I get to work on the kitchen, folding a load of laundry, and helping Nathaniel with his work as needed.

A certain little munchkin (Ethan, 3) tries to convince me he needs to get out of his chair while I'm folding laundry. Even though he IS adorable, the answer was still no. :)

Ahhh. A clean kitchen. I don't function very well in a messy kitchen. With 7 children, however, it gets messy several times a day and I'm learning to just go with the flow. Some days it's easier for me than others. :)

Johanna and Eliana finish their showers, do their hair, and start their school. 

 The youngest four (and Nathaniel, once he's done on break) watch a 20 minute movie. This gives me the time I need to teach a math lesson to the older girls and get them working on their school for the day.

School gets done in all rooms of our house. Here Johanna is reading on her bed. (She's reading English at a second/third grade level now and her math is up to sixth grade! So proud of her.)

I finish up with the girls, send them off to work, and make a nice cup of coffee for myself. :)

Wow. Nothing like keeping it real. I didn't take a shower because I it was bath day and I wanted to run on the treadmill here's the un-showered all natural Mommy look. LOL

The movie ends all too quickly and my quick break is over. My second cup of coffee gets cold as I forget about it and get to work on bath-time. 

I send the three-year-olds to the bathroom to undress. This is quite interesting to watch as they wiggle their little bodies and work all of their clothing off. (Yes, they are in their clothes from the day before. I am that kind of Mommy.

They will SO kill me for this picture later. Lucky for me, they're too young to care now and I think they are the.cutest.thing.ever. 

Everyone has to go potty before they get in the tub, because Mommy doesn't like putting her hands in PEE WATER. (Yes, they think it is funny to potty in the tub. I don't. Think it's funny, I mean. Well, I don't potty in the tub, either. Okay, I better just stop now.)

While the babies take a long bath (I think they played for about an hour!), we take turns watching them.

Johanna, Eliana, and Nathaniel continue their schoolwork, and Noah plays alone in his room.

Nathaniel takes a turn watching the babies play, while I tend to Johanna. She was disappointed about an upcoming event that she doesn't get to attend, and had a nice long crying session about it. It took me awhile to get her regrouped and realizing that I was not going to change my mind. 

Okay, back to bath-time. I lay out all three outfits on my bed, wash up the little ones, and call the older girls to help. We each dress one child, making it much quicker than if I was doing it alone!

Next up, hair time. I dry and "style" each child's hair. I keep all three with me in the bathroom so I know what they're up to. :)


A math question interrupts the hair party in the bathroom. :)

Johanna and Nathaniel find a quiet place to work on more schoolwork.

Everyone enjoys a snack of almonds.


The babies settle in for some fight over the same green spoon play time. (What? You thought my children never fought over toys? They're CHILDREN, not angels. :))

I solve the green spoon problem, switch over the laundry and start getting lunch ready.

Eliana works on a story she's writing while Johanna folds the next load of laundry.

 The youngest five go outside for a few minutes while we get lunch on the table. Turns out, it's a rather warm day and they come in with all kinds of plans for the afternoon play-time.

Here is how I prepare most meals. I set out seven plates, fill them while I'm cooking, and take them to the table when it's time to eat. Johanna always fills the cups and Eliana is in charge of bibs for the babies.

Lunch menu: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, chips, bananas, and graham crackers for a treat.

Only six cups today, because one child "lost their sweets" for a week. (One of our family consequences.)

After lunch, each child has a job to do. The littlest ones stay at the table again while we clean up from lunch.
Alyssia and Gabriella LOVE to color! They beg to "coloring".

After jobs are done, I take a break and sit down on the computer for a half hour while everyone heads outside to play. They have so much fun playing spy and building with ropes and sticks.

Next on the schedule is nap-time. I call the youngest five into the house, set up Nathaniel and Noah (8 and 6) on the Wii and get the babies ready for their nap (potty, drink, diaper for the one that might wet her bed, etc). Normally, the older girls will read or play in their room during this time, but because the weather is so warm, they stay outside.


I put the babies down for a nap in the same room, so the other rooms are freed up for the afternoon.

 They ask me for "a story, Momma!" so I tell them Goldilocks and The Three Bears (complete with silly voices, which they LOVE). I turn off the light, turn on the fan, close the curtains, and sit down in the quiet room. Ethan needs help settling down, so I rock him on his bed for a couple of minutes. Then he whispers, "Mommy, I think I'll be more comfortable if I lay down." so I lay him down. They're all asleep soon.

(I took the pictures of them sleeping with my flash, so it looks bright in the room, but it's actually very dark!)

I LOVE this picture of Gabbey and her baby. She snuggles this baby every time she falls asleep....

It's now 2:30 in the afternoon. I turn off the Wii and send the boys outside to play with the girls, change my clothes and hop on the treadmill. Thirty-five minutes, 2.5 miles, and one sweaty mess later, I'm ready for a hot shower. NO, I didn't have the girls take pictures of me during this time. Sorry, but a girl's gotta have some dignity. :)

I call Johanna and Eliana inside. Johanna helps me fold the last of the laundry and we are both happy it is done until Friday. 

Eliana practices her violin.

Nathaniel comes inside and gets his violin out. We work on some music together.

The babies wake up, go potty, snuggle Mommy for awhile on the couch, and get a small snack. They want to play outside, so off they go, with their buckets and a pile of rocks.  

I need to peel potatoes for dinner, so I put Noah next to me to work on his reading flashcards.

 Johanna works on her penmanship. (She and Eliana are trying to copy the entire book of Matthew in cursive.) Noah works on his seatwork.

 The laundry pile, ready to be put away!

We have church on Wednesday evenings, so I fix everyone's hair, lay out the Bibles, quiet books, and music for church, prepare dinner, change Gabbey's clothes (since she got dirty somehow), help Nathaniel and Noah get ready for church, and put everyone's shoes on before they sit down to eat dinner.

Eliana and Johanna fix the plates and drinks for everyone's dinner.

On the menu: Leftover ham from Sunday's lunch, mashed potatoes, green beans and pineapple for dessert.

AND this is where the pictures end, although the day wasn't quite over yet. It just got too busy for me to grab the camera. :)

Brent arrived home. We finished dinner, scrambled to clean up the kitchen, loaded everyone (and all the "gear") into the van, and headed to church. Brent stopped at WaWa and got me a coffee----heaven!----and we listened to music the whole (long) hour drive to church. :)

Stayed after at church to fellowship while the children played with their friends, then started the (long) trip home. Brent and I tucked the very tired children into bed at 10 pm, sat on the couch for a few minutes, and dragged our own tired bodies to bed at 10:45.

There you have it. A Day In The Life Of The Bergey Bunch. Not very exciting, was it? Nevertheless, days turn into weeks, weeks turn into years, years turn into a lifetime of ordinary days. So I am thankful for these boring, sometimes monotonous days. They are the makings of a lifetime!