January 15 – Please Ask First

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Has there ever been a time when something bad happened because you were doing something you didn’t ask for permission to do? Well, that has happened to us many times! One particular incident stands out in our minds.

On a Saturday morning Nathaniel woke me up to suggest that we try to make some oatmeal for breakfast. (And of course we didn’t ask.) So, I got up and we quietly went to the kitchen so we wouldn’t wake up anyone (especially Micah, because she was still working on having an inside voice).

But what can we say, she was only 2! Anyway, we poured a whole box of oats in a pot of water and turned on all the burners. Now just think, a 5 & 3 year-old messing with a stove? Not good!

So then we decided to go tell mom about this idea when all of a sudden she runs in saying “something smells like smoke!’’ Well, our basket near the stove caught on fire!

Thankfully, dad hadn’t left yet and he carried us all to the garage and put the fire out with mom’s water bottle.

So the moral of that story is always, no matter what, you must always ASK FIRST.

For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened. Luke 11:10J

A Dunford Family Classic written by Hannah at the age of 14.

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January 9 – Obedience is Life and Death (Jenny)

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One of the sorest subjects around our house in our entire marriage involved an animal. Let me be more specific: a 120 pound black lab puppy. (He was not the first pet to be a part of this story, but I won’t go back that far!)

I completely dropped the ball when it came to helping this active and enthusiastic dog. Of all the obedience training I attempted to put in place while Lorenzo was at work, nothing seemed to stick! Several places on our home’s light beige carpet stuck around to prove my ineptness. In spite of all the success of my sisters and other friends and family with their pets, I just couldn’t get it to sink in.

Truthfully, I was too inconsistent to see any real progress! We do live in a society that values obedience training in our pets. And I know lots of animal lovers that do an amazing job. But the stakes really get high when we start talking about the pursuit of obedient children.

My husband has always said that whatever we see in our 2 year-old that goes uncorrected, “multiply that particular behavior” by a 16 year-old. It usually doesn’t give a pretty picture. Research has shown that the foundation to our children’s character is formed by the time they turn five.

What may look like cute antics right now in our toddlers won’t be so cute when they are ten, or older. In much the same way as our dog, (and even more so), our children are begging us for boundaries! They not only need to know “yes, no, who’s in charge, and I love you,” but they need to be trained how to respond in certain situations.

All of us have moments we need our children to stay close to us and not run off. So when our first three children were four and under, I would take them to the mall (a big, safe space) on a morning that wasn’t busy, and I would tell our older two that “our job today is to stay by mommy.”

Then we would walk around the mall, as I reminded them of the goal as I pushed the baby in the stroller. If one of them ran off, I would bring them back and give them a gentle reminder. After fifteen minutes of this kind of training, we’d all be ready for a reward.

Moments like that can really pay off in the long run. We can practice situations at home that will come up later, such as eating in a restaurant, sitting quietly through a wedding, etc.

Obedience doesn’t come just because we demand it, or even from using discipline, it comes from building a relationship. And it is life and death, because we can all face a time when a child tries to run towards a busy street. Then, obedience can save their life.

God loves an obedient heart. He’s certainly not into condemnation, nor does He hold our wrongs against us.

Mistakes will be made. But just as Jesus willingly went through the last moments of his life as God revealed His will to him, so should we cultivate the riches of obedience in our children. And their response to us will always reflect the level of our obedience to the Father as well. Spend time training your heritage towards obedience.

And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] you shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6,7 AMP

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:25

Favorite Source: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull

December 30 – Friends in High Places

It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day. Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel. Proverbs 24:5-6 The Message Bible

I have a book about child training that was written a hundred years or so ago. The insight in it is timeless. For instance, I learned from its author, Clay Trumbull, that there’s a distinct difference in how you teach a child and how you train a child.

Also, when Jen and I had our hands full with one of the stronger-willed children, we used some of the strategies in the book to steer them toward right attitudes…particularly about food and flavors.

But one of the most transcendent pieces of advice I got from the book was on the subject of friendship and counsel. Clay raised eight kiddos of his own and was a seasoned grandpa at the time he penned “Hints on Child Training.” So, I believe he knew a thing or two about the subject.

“The unfriendly criticisms of neighbours, and the kind suggestions of friends, are not to be despised by a parent in making up an estimate of his child’s failings and faults. Rarely is a parent so discerning, so impartial, and so wise, that he can know his children through and through, and be able to weigh the several traits, and perceive the every imperfection and exaggeration of their characters, with unerring accuracy and absolute fairness.”

In the process of rearing our “crew of a few,” this counsel has been invaluable. But not just in child training. In many areas of life, I have found I can cover most of the bases, but having good friends who add insight without insult is key for consistent success.

Smart is good and wisdom is kind.
But a counsel of good friends is a worthy find!