Besetting Sin-Teach to the Weakness

A co-worker and I used to laugh at ourselves whenever we got a compliment at work or whenever we messed up and got a reprimand. We would sing an old Mac Davis song “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way!” (for the full version, go here: ) It was a very child-ish way we had to kind of dismiss any of our craziness. Even though we had both been in sales pretty much our whole working lives, we still needed guidance and correction in how we handled customers, wrote contracts, and closed the deals.


Me and my “perfect” co-worker

I think we have this amazing sense to apply this kind of thinking onto our kids as well. They are just children, after all. They really don’t “sin”……they are really perfect and sometimes the choice isn’t ‘bad’, it’s just their way of doing things. How is it that our little angels could EVER really make a wrong choice or that their behavior is REALLY all that detrimental? I mean, kids will be kids-right? For instance, that time (and the other 15 thousand) when they threw a tantrum isn’t going to hurt them or anyone else-right? Or when they said “NO!” and their face turned purple with disgust -that’s just their little way of exerting their personality. How about the time they smacked you in the face? Probably a slip of hand? Or that time they swiped something from your friend’s house and put it in their pocket? Just a curious display of their inner spy? (BTW-these have all happened with my kids…….)

Well, I would like to give some advice on how to FIRST-recognize the “besetting sin” behavior and then SECOND-give a tip or two on how to TEACH TO THIS WEAKNESS in your kids.

Webster’s defines “besetting” as “to trouble persistently”. If you are a Christian, you may have an understanding of the nature of sin-we all are born with a nature to choose the opposite of what God’s best is for us! So-even as sweet and as innocent as our little cuties are-they have this in them, too. Some kids seem to go through life without ever making a wrong choice (they are the sneakiest of all-hee hee). Others seem to shout from the rooftop “THIS IS THE ONE THING I JUST CAN’T CONTROL!!!!!” (perhaps always bullying the other kids???? Or telling the teacher “NO!” and stomping off….HEY! I know some adults like this!). So-it may be hard to identify that ever “present” thing or it may be so obvious what your kid struggles with that you could put lots of money on a winning bet that they’ll behave a certain way.

Let me just say-most likely-whatever it is, they will struggle with it their whole lives. That is not to say it will master them, but that it may be something that will be there, possibly lurking in the background and rearing it’s ugly head from time to time (like it did for me last night when I got ‘angry’… WAAAAY too angry). If you can identify it early, you will not only help give them tools to overcome it, but help them develop to their full potential. You don’t want anything holding them back-RIGHT!?!?!?

I would like to help us see what these root sins are. The best way I think we can identify anything is to turn to God’s word for help. I mean, this is where we get the idea of sin as well as how we deal with it and how we see GRACE!!!!!!! So-grab a Bible and a cuppa jo’ and let’s dig in. IMG_4683

The best place to start is to identify the positive side of living for God-AKA ‘non-sin’. Notice, it’s not “going to church, giving alms to the poor, reading your Bible”.  (Not that those things aren’t important….)Galatians 5 (ESP vs. 13-26) is what I like to call the ‘Control Panel’ for our lives. The Bible calls it the “Fruits of the Spirit”. Let’s identify those fruits: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It tells us that if we possess these qualities in abundant measure-we will not gratify ourselves, we will be living to please God, and we will walk by HIS HOLY SPIRIT! Wow-I want to live like that and I want my kids to live like that.

Remember #9 in “Somebody Love the Kids” post? Well, it encourages us to read the Bible with our kids. I would encourage you to not only read the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 9:22-23 with your kids BUT memorize it with them! Write this out on a piece of paper and tape it to their mirror in the bathroom, sing a song about it, or play games to help them memorize it! This is one of those passages I just think will go far with them in all areas of their lives.

I love to also learn the opposite of a verse. It just seems to make things STICK. Something fun to do with your kids is to learn Galatians 5:22-23 and then have them come up with the opposites of all of those character traits: hate, anxiety, restlessness, impatience, nastiness, ugliness, unreliability, harshness, compulsion! WOW-can you see any of those in your kids?

SO-how do you recognize what that THING is? Some are more glaring than others, but if there is a habit of them doing something undesirable over and over again, I’m pretty sure that is the THING! My eldest child has SELF-CONTROL issues. She is very compulsive. Her besetting sin is certainly feeding whatever she wants FIRST! How is this “SIN” you might ask? Well, first and foremost, it is cleverly disguised as “SELFISHNESS”. I’m pretty sure loving your neighbor as yourself is high on that list of most important commandments.

How do I know this is hers? Well, she many, many, many times will do things without even thinking about them. For instance, if she sees something on my plate she wants to eat, she will just grab it right off! I am not kidding. I have had a steak, sizzling there on my plate, I am getting ready to take a bite and WHAM! She swoops in and grabs it and throws it in her mouth. Not only is this totally disgusting and rude, but HELLO! That’s MY dinner! Now, granted she probably would never do that to a stranger, but for some reason because I am her mom, she thinks she can! What the heck?!?!?!? But, this could translate into some behavior that could not only hurt her prospects in the job hunt, but possibly lead to things that -although may seem harmless at first are just plain SELFISH!

My second child’s besetting sin is IMPATIENCE which leads to ANGER! A kind of cross between a lack of self-control and a lack of gentleness also creates this impatience. It is pretty obvious when this thing rears it’s ugly head. Doors slamming, red face, objects hurdling through the air at mach speed-you know-all before 10 am. She has auburn/red-ish hair and I SWEAR it hails from that.

I bet if you sat down and really thought through your childrens’ behaviors, you could quickly identify that THING! Even if you can’t really put your finger on it, let’s at least try to learn how to TEACH TO THAT WEAKNESS!


Then, once you think you know what IT is, when it rears it’s head-let your child know, in a calm tone, “Sara, you are being very ________ right now. Do you think that is a behavior that is pleasing (or kind, or acceptable, etc.)?” Don’t just scream at them and say “You always do ________!” and then sit in frustration. Identify it RIGHT AWAY!

Next, teach to that. By asking “Do you think that is behavior that is pleasing, kind, or acceptable?”, it helps that child get a spirit of reflection and conviction. God gave us the Holy Spirit and then HE uses us to teach our kids. Until they understand the “Fruits of the Spirit”, it is our job to help them identify living contrary to those fruits. Not only will you be frustrated if you identify with out action, SO WILL THEY! Frustrated kids do all sorts of yucky stuff…….(more on that in another blog)…….

I am almost 100% sure that they will answer correctly. If not-you know the answer and if they say they think it is pleasing, then quickly let them know it is not. THEN teach them ways they could have handled the situation better.

THEN-and this is the hard part-GIVE THEM A CONSEQUENCE. In our home, we do a myriad of things to help them think twice about repeating that behavior. One of my favorites is to have them serve the person they hurt. If my youngest gets angry over a chore, then she has to do her sister’s chore! If my eldest gets on her sister’s game during said sister’s game time, not only does she loose game time for the day, she also has to fold that sister’s laundry.

Girls with glassesIf the words to each other are un-kind, then they have to come up with 10 kind things to say to each other, or write a sweet note to the other. We also make them write sentences-the SAME sentence like 25-50 times. This will drill the right behavior into their heads (and their hands-ouch!). When my youngest recently got so angry that she threw something at her sister, I made her write 50 times “My anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. ” James 1:20.


Once you know the THING, and you learn to IDENTIFY it, then you use creative ways to TEACH to that weakness, your child will begin to also understand how to better handle this in their lives. Take some time to think of creative consequences that will help teach to the weakness. Parents, even when we don’t actively teach them we are teaching them. When we don’t actively train them, we are training them. That scares the heck out of me. I might as well be active about this teaching and training business. It is my job. It is my responsibility.

Somebody Love the Kids……….

Reagan and Macy Pirate Dress Up 2If I got paid a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “Enjoy your kids now. It goes by fast.”, I would have a little more money (I couldn’t say I would be rich because I don’t know THAT many folks and/or strangers).

But it is amazing how many times I have had someone tell me this 8 word phrase. Even while I was walking around with my belly bump, I would hear this from some older woman who had weathered many a kids and probably three times the number of grand kids. While I toted my babies aroReagan and Macy in Rainboots 2und like luggage in their little infant carriers, a mom would kind of give me this charge as I would watch her teenagers- earbuds in, pimples on, and greasy hair slicked down – walking around with her in a store. And just yesterday, a kind older man whispered this to me, leaning in close while he watched my girls sitting with me in a coffee shop.

So, with this phrase fresh in my heart, I want to pass on a few bits of advice to every parent who is in the throes of learning how to love their kids. I am no expert as I have only been at this parenting journey now for about 12 years. I say “learning” because it is an ever-evolving, never ending struggle to grasp the “how’s” of loving little humans (as well as the  big ones!) who, entrusted in our care, are NOT like us, NOT usually doing things to make us happy, and NOT behaving in a manner that oozes love. And, I know I just have girls-but these things apply to both little lasses and laddies……

1.Take time EVERYDAY to LOOK into your child’s face! This is something that I many times struggle to do BUT I try to be intentional about facing them, grabbing their little mug, and looking at them. And this is not a look to just wipe something off or pop something or scrape something. This is a serious “I want to take this moment in” look. If you need a reminder to do this-put a post-it note on your coffee pot or on your mirror at your sink or on your bedpost! It is amazing how much they change even in one week. I know it is reciprocated because they will many times come over and just look at me for a few seconds. Kids also need to see our faces just as much as we need to see theirs.

2. Find out what their love language is and then be intentional about spending five to ten minutes or so a few times a week making sure you “speak” that to them! If you have never heard about the “Love Languages”, they are 1) words of encouragement, 2) physical touch, 3) quality time, 4) gift giving, and 5) acts of service. You can find out what your love language is and what your kid’s love language is by checking out this GREAT read called “The 5 Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman ( I also recommend the first book “The 5 Love Languages” for your maUpclose Reagans Facerriage.

My oldest is a budding author and extremely creative. She loves words of encouragement (imagine that!). So, I try to take time to read something she has written or look at a creation and then I just pour praise into her. “This is really, really good.” or “I think I could see what you meant here. You are very bright and smart!” You can tell she just beams with joy. Most kids would love to hear these words, but they mean extra much to someone who’s primary language is “Words of Encouragement”!

Me tickling Reagan

NoTe: Said daughter hating being tickled

My youngest speaks “Physical Touch”(which BTW is mine and my older daughter’s LEAST favorite!!!)-so we have a little ritual that everyday (or when time permits) when I am making the bed, she comes running in and jumps into the covers, throws them over her head, and then says “MOM! Tickle me!” So, I start tickling every little bit I can make out as “neck, legs, arms” etc. She lets me do this until she screams “ALL DONE!” At this point, I know she’s had her fill. Sometimes she is so brave and the game goes on and on. Imagine if I had NO CLUE what these languages were and I insisted on tickling my eldest daughter every day for five minutes (or even 30 seconds!!!). She would HATE ME! She would probably want to run away. It is not her language. In fact, it is an offensive language. She has made it VERY clear she hates to be tickled, touched, prodded, poked or any of the above. (I am not a fan, either). I think it is so interesting that our youngest FEEDS off this type of “language”. There are so many relationships in your life that can benefit from this knowledge (I do not suggest a tickling match, though, with a co-worker!)


3. Sing songs with your kids! Make sure you have some great little tunes that go with YOUR family life. A few of our gems are “You are my Sunshine” in which we have taken out the word “sunshine” and replaced it with a person’s name. We also have in our arsenal some gems like “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Amazing Grace” as well as every single Christmas song there ever was (BUT the rule is we only sing those during the Christmas season). Here’s a recording from when my youngest was probably 2 years old……


4. Give your kid the chance to learn a musical instrument (if you can afford it!). I have to admit-being a musician-I am a bit biased to this. I did not always love my music lessons (in fact, once upon a time, I threw my books at my mom and yelled “I QUIT!”). Girls at the PianoLearning music is one of the best things a child can do to develop their brain. It not only helps both the right side AND the left side simultaneously, but it gives them something to do besides staring at a “SCREEN” or begging you to watch them play Minecrap – I mean- Minecraft. Yes-it is annoying to hear a child play and practice the same thing over and over again. I am sad for my husband. His parents did not want to give him drum lessons because they said they would not have been able to stand “the NOISE”. He is naturally inclined in music. He never had any formal instruction, but he can play a bit of piano, guitar, and drums. I do believe if he had some training, it would have enriched his life in who knows how many ways. We can’t go back in the past. BUT-because I had lessons and it was so wonderful for me in so many ways, we give our kids some form of music lessons. They will thank me later when they need therapy and one form is sitting for a time with an instrument and playing your stress away.

5. Do not let your kids say “I AM BORED”. This is a banned phrase in our home. This world is so full of so many wonderful things for kids to learn, explore, and try that it’s almost sinful to imagine that boredom even exists. BUT-that means that as a parent, you have to be willing to plan your day a bit and get your feet wet, so to speak, and spend time DOING these things with your child. And, boredom unspoken can help lead your kid to possibly find something creative to do with their brain and hands. The most loving thing you can do is personally engage your child in an activity side by side. Do you like to cook? Then show your child how to make a SIMPLE recipe. Do you like to organize? Then show your child how to make a sock drawer look neat. Do you like to exercise? Then have them take an easy jog with you. Do you like to plant things? Then grab some soil, a pot, and some seeds and make an herb garden together.

6. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT enroll your child in every sport, birthday party, church or school activity, and/or play date imaginable and then some! I really do not like being a taxi driver. I loathe having a day full of running my kids all over TARNATION (YES! That’s a word we use here in Goshen!). This one really gets me going. I have some friends who can’t wait to drag their children to every activity so they can go live their lives and the kids can live theirs. I understand that every once and a while, the children need to be involved in “stuff”-but to have non-stop stuff-tivities is insane!!!!!! And if your kids are in school ALL DAY then drug to weekend activities then social events, how in the world will you be able to get to know them?

7. Turn on the music instead of the T.V. every so often and have a DANCE PARTY. Your kids will roll their eyes and you may not be the next Michael Jackson, but they will so thank you for the time and making the memories. I just LOVE to watch my kids act crazy. I honestly think they love laughing at me. And, when you grab their hands to dance, it can turn into some serious bonding time! The louder and faster the music-the better. The more kids dance-the better. So, do this with them when their friends are over. They will probably roll their eyes-but I guarantee their friends will love coming to your house to hang out!

8. You (and dad-if he is in the picture) take turns putting sweet notes and surprise treats in their lunchboxes, backpacks, hidden under the toilet seat, or posted on their mirror. A simple “I hope you do great on your test today!” or “I heard a rumor that you are the smartest kid in school” may embarrass them in front of their kids-but I think they will know their mom or dad love them a LOT! You may also want to invest in some dry erase glass safe markers and write on their mirrors from time to time.Macy and Daddy sharing milkshake 3

9. Read the Bible with your child. Find verses that speak specifically about how much God loves us. This is such a wonderful way to learn side by side with your child all that this amazing book has to offer. If you need a companion study guide, I recommend any resource from Focus on the Family, but this special read is very encouraging and helpful

10. Never tell them you are “punishing” them for something. Instead use the word “Discipline“. I am a Christian. I have this deep-rooted belief that Jesus Christ took our “punishment” for sin and died with it. He took all our sins (and our kids’ sins) on a cross. It is a deep concept and one that I honestly could write about in a separate blog post-which I may someday-but not today. The Bible is full of the truth of this. Discipline is in a total other category than punishment. I have never told my kids they are being “punished”. In fact, there is a great verse that backs up why I believe this. It comes from 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But PERFECT LOVE drives out fear, because FEAR HAS TO DO WITH PUNISHMENT.” and Hebrews 12:11 “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.” Don’t you think the most loving thing you can give your children is a harvest of righteousness and peace? As painful as those moments are, make sure that your children are DISCIPLINED in love and not PUNISHED in fear.

11. Find out what your kid’s “BESETTING SIN” is and be willing to tackle it head-on. Really, we ALL have one. You know, that one “thing” that trips us up, makes us mad at ourselves, and hurts those around us from time to time. When you narrow it down, it is probably a one-word sin like “lust” or “greed” or “jealousy”-but we all have one that seems to creep it’s ugly head and kicks us in the butt every so often. I would love to tell you mine, but I’ll let you use your imagination.IMG_0117

Here’s the thing-you can’t just identify the “ONE THING” and tell your kids “I’m so tired of this. Why don’t you stop doing THIS? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? YOU ARE GETTING IN BIG TROUBLE FOR THIS!!!!!!” You have to give your kids the tools to help them overcome “THIS” thing.

So-I am going to help you build your tool box of ideas for helping your kids. But, you will have to wait for the next blog post for this. I am not perfect nor do I think I have all the answers. But, I have gleaned many a tool from many an experienced parent.

The Trees……….

Tree by gardenI guess you might think with a title like that, I would write about changing fall leaves or dormant trees or seedlings or various arboristic (is that a word?) philosophies. Actually, I want to share with you a little about how trees come into my whole life philosophy-which stems (no pun intended) to my parenting, my marriage, my health, and everything in between. It has nothing to do with the root systems or the xylem and phloem of trees…(I just like to use those words in a sentence whenever I can because they are exceptionally cool words).

In the garden of Eden, God planted two special trees-one represented life and the other represented death. Sometimes the words in scripture are so subtle and if you are reading too fast, you will totally miss an important point. “In the middle of the garden were the tree of life (self-explanatory) and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (represents death).” How do I know the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents death? If you read a little further, God tells the man, “You are free to eat from ANY tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (vs.16-17) Side note: not sure Adam told his wife the good details here (imagine that? a man forgetting to tell his woman the details?????!!!!!!! )Palm trees at Lowes Hotel

Now, why would God do this? I have pondered the whole “Why God gave man choices” query for a while. The best, reasonable explanation I can come up with is that He has the ability to never-I mean NEVER- choose evil (AKA the wrong, unholy, unrepresentative of His good nature and character) while we needed a way to show Him whether we really care to follow Him, thus showing our true devotion. Enter in: CHOICES!!!!CD Party view out window

Aren’t you so glad you are not a robot! God giving us the ability to choose anything and everything is one of the greatest gifts He could give His creation. The extra bonus is that He told us what the consequence of making the wrong choice would be: DEATH! Seriously?!?!? How wonderful is it that He gave the answer to the test! No-He is not an elusive, changing unseen force with a death wish for us-HE GAVE US THE ANSWER!!!!!!

Imagine if all of your decisions in life had a concrete answer:

Do not buy this car because it will be a lemon.

Do not marry that man because He will end up swindling your paycheck on his gambling addiction.

Do not buy that house because the roof leaks and the basement has mold.

Do not eat the fruit from that tree because if you do, you will surely die………………

Dang! And we think God is the bad guy.

C’mon girls. How wonderful was it that God told us in plain, easy to understand language what would happen. And we did the very thing that has resulted in deadly consequences over and over and over and over……………

I want to be a girl who makes LIFE GIVING choices. I know I will fail. I know I will not always make the best or even right choice. But I am glad I have made THE one choice that covers over all my bad choices forever. There are two verses that are eternally linked that I want you to ponder: Deuteronomy 30:19 and John 14:6. Try even memorizing them as one verse.

I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…….Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Dogwood Flower

It may sound harsh, but it comes from The Word. Jesus said He is The Word-so they are His words. He said Choose Life. We are so surrounded by death choices constantly that I sometimes wonder what life- giving choices even look like.

One reason I have this blog is so that we can journey together in this constant battle of making life-giving decisions. It is sometimes messy. It is often times confusing. It is ALWAYS harder than it seems. But, in the end-WE GET LIFE!!!!!!!! Isn’t that hard-wired into us as humans? Survival? Doesn’t survival mean life? Let’s explore what this concept of “Survival of the Fittest” really looks like. Choosing life isn’t for the faint of heart or the weak of faith. Choosing life is for the strong. Choosing life only makes you stronger. Please do not add anything to the simplicity of what making Life-Giving choices looks like. If we boil down our choices to the simple question “Does this bring life or does this bring death?” then what turns would our life make? What bonuses would we get out of those decisions? Better health? Better relationships? Peace of mind? This can really go so many places. But, for now, hear my heart and know that I am dedicated to Helping the Girl who strives to live LIFE and LIFE to the full.Farm Tree in Snow