Parenting Aces – Allowing Forbidden Fruit- #4

forbidden fruit

The Boys

The boys – there were three of them – were out of sorts with life, with each other, and their mother.

There was nothing to do. Nothing at all, mind you. It was such a boring day and each one dared her to say it was otherwise.

The Boredom

It was raining outside and,of course, that made them even more out of sorts. Nothing their mama could say or do was going to change their moods or their minds about the day.

So, she proceeded to clean out the toy closet. You know, the closet that had nothing in it with which to play. They came wandering from other rooms with their faces full of disgruntlement.

Their mama suggested the trucks as a possibility. They weren’t interested. Perhaps they’d like to do puzzles or make a tent with blankets? Their pouts grew thicker. She suggested the piles of construction paper, but their looks of disdain grew longer. Next, she asked about the dress-up costumes which in the past had provided hours of fun, but that was a dumb idea, she was told.

Their mama just kept cleaning out the closet, organizing toys and pitching broken items, and they just hung around, waiting for her to figure out something to do since she said they couldn’t go outside to play.

Finally, she picked up the container of blocks. In the past, they loved to build cattle corrals or towers with their blocks. Sometimes they used their blocks as square bales of hay or to make a secret tunnel. Not today. Today, you remember, there was nothing to do.

She moved the tub of blocks out of the closet and moved it into her bedroom. Then she shut the door to her room as if to make a point.

The Forbidden Fruit 

“Today, you can play with anything in the closet. Except the blocks. I want to sort through them, so just leave the blocks alone.”

She closed the closet door and went to the kitchen to fix lunch.

forbidden fruit

The house was silent for a bit, and she smiled to herself. This reverse psychology was going to work. It always did. Her boys were just young enough so this could work.

In a few minutes, she was bombarded with begging.

“Please, Mama, can we play with the blocks?” the oldest one asked.

“No, son. I haven’t sorted through them yet. You can go play with something else.”

“But we want to play with the blocks!” second son stomped his foot.

“Oh, you can play with them tomorrow, as soon as I get them sorted,” she replied, trying not to smile.

“Pease, Mama, pease, pease, pease?” the youngest begged.

“I haven’t had a chance to sort the blocks yet. You can play with something else until I do that. There are plenty of other toys in the closet,” she spoke to all of them.

“All we can think about is playing with the blocks. We can do lots of things with the blocks,” oldest son said.

“Please, Mama? We won’t be grouchy if you let us play with them!” second son said.

She stood there for a moment in the kitchen, pondering (pretending to, anyhow).

Finally, she relented, which was actually her planned intention.

The boys found the blocks where she had stashed them.

Suddenly, there was so much to do with those forbidden blocks. The rest of the day there were no complaints about nothing to do. They forgot about the rain that prevented their escape to the outdoors. Instead, they built and created to their hearts’ content.

The Ace

This Mama aced the dreary day by making something familiar become forbidden. Then she acquiesced, just as she had planned. 

She said, “It’s okay. I suppose I can sort the blocks another day . . . . ” 

The forbidden fruit became the prize – and the entertainment – of the day.

forbidden fruit


A Song on Life’s Sea – Rock of Ages

rock of ages


You know what I love about singing familiar hymns? They take me back to my childhood and to the church in which I grew up. Those songs I heard as a child have stayed with me all these years.

On a Sunday morning a few weeks ago, Dave and I sang Rock of Ages together. It’s a song about the solidness of a firm rock and a sure foundation that comes from the blood of Jesus.

You know what I realized as we sang the words to that familiar song? This song doesn’t talk about my love or adoration for Jesus. It doesn’t even talk about His love for me.

It shows His love as it talks about the Cross that saves – the Cross alone.

This song speaks about the very nature and character of Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Rock.

rock of ages


It’s a song about life: relief from sin, relief from guilt, and relief from the power of sin. It’s a song about living in the victory that is ours because of Him.

It’s a song about salvation: the water, the blood, and the One Who saves. 

It’s a song about hiding in Him: He is our Rock, our safety, and our surety.

It’s a song about our journey Home: soaring to unknown worlds and recognizing, even then, that we can only hide in Him, the Rock of all the ages.

How about it, friend? Have you found the Rock to which you can cling? When life about you leaves you feeling tossed about, are you able to hide in the Rock?

Have you found Him to be your Surety and your Stay?



Rock of Ages

Author: Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778)  Music: Thomas Hastings

The author was traveling through the country near England’s Cheddar Gorge when rain fell in such torrents that he needed to find shelter.  Standing under a rocky overhang, he conceived this popular hymn, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.”


Rock of Ages


To hear the Fountainview Academy play and sing this song, click here.

To hear the Antrim Mennonite Choir sing this song, click here.

Parenting Aces – Merciful Consequence – #3

mercyNestled among trees in rural southern Virginia, the trailer stood sheltered and hidden from the road. It was not the distance that prevented travelers on the road from seeing the trailer. It was the trees.

She had been struggling to recover from Lyme disease, fully cognizant of the fact that the owner of the neighboring land was the first person in Virginia to die of Lyme disease. Each day was a struggle for health and strength.

One day, she decided it was time to see if she could venture out the 75-yard driveway to the mailbox. She thought she could make it this time. Before she left, she instructed her two-year old son to stay on the porch and wait for her. He knew the rules, and he usually obeyed.

Proud of the fact that she made it to the mailbox, she retrieved the mail and turned back to walk to the trailer. Only, the walk back was harder than it was coming out. She wondered if she’d make it, but she had to for her son would be waiting for her. Suddenly, she saw him.

He was no longer on the porch. He was coming out the driveway. He had disobeyed. Perhaps he was lonely, or afraid. Maybe it took her longer than he thought it should. She forced one foot in front of the other, willing herself to keep moving.

Finally, she made it back to the trailer. She was back, and he was safe. That was the most important thing.


There was, however, a predicament. He had disobeyed, and he needed to be disciplined. She was too weak, and too tired, to deal out any punishment. Yet, if there were no consequences, the next time he might go further – even out to the road.

She sat down next to her blond-headed son. When she finally could catch her breath, she said, “Son, you disobeyed Mama. You were told to stay here and not come off the porch.  You did not obey. You need to be disciplined. But you know what? Today, Mama is going to show you Mercy. Today, Mama is not going to give you what you deserve. Sometimes God does that to us. When we disobey God, He shows us Mercy. Today, I am not going to discipline you. I am going to show you mercy. You must never, never come out the driveway to the road like you did today. Today you disobeyed, and I am showing you Mercy. You must never disobey me like this again.”

Was he too young to understand?  Did he somehow get a glimpse of the love and care of a Father who shows us mercy when we really don’t deserve it?

This I know: this child never went that far out the lane again.

This Mama had learned to seize an unpleasant event and turn it into a practical, teachable moment.

She aced this parenting moment, and her son learned about Mercy and Forgiveness.



A Quiet – and not so Quiet – Sea


The gentle lull of the cruise ship and the lapping of waves induced calmness and tranquility as we sailed north over the Pacific Ocean.  A misty sky beckoned its welcome as morning haziness met our eyes.

We awoke to realize we had slept well past the 7AM service on the ship. Nevertheless, this was the day the Lord had made, and we wanted to spend with Him.

I’ve often told Dave that I’m so glad God came up with the idea (and the command) to set aside one day a week for rest and for worship. That’s because Dave certainly wouldn’t have come up with the idea on his own. For certain, he’d not be taking an entire day off work to rest his body and his mind.

So, since God gave a command to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy, we rested. We worshiped. Dave’s tenor can make any soprano sound good, so we sang this song:

author: Augustus M. Toplady – 1740-1778

Sometimes life is like that. Sailing along over smooth, blue waters with clouds above and serenity below, there are no worries or cares. All is right with the world. There is nothing on the horizon to beckon upset seas or bring on the gales.

quiet sea

Then life happens. Surges come, bringing heartache, trials, and sleepless nights. There is fear; there are tears and despair. The storm keeps coming, thrashing us about. We fear we’ve lost our moorings – and sometimes, we have! Yet, that same tempest and storm keeps moving us along the sea of life. If we allow the waves to do so, they drive us nearer to God and thereby will bring us safely Home.

Our doubts and our fears – our cries and our tears – can push us away from Him or drive us nearer.  We choose. His mercies shine through the darkness, giving light when hope seems gone. In the middle of the darkness, there is hope because we belong to the Maker of the seas.

This hymn is a prayer for a mind-set that allows the Master of the wind to be our Master of life. When we pray the words of this song: teach us (no matter what state of life we are in) to claim His will as our own, we position our hearts to experience His peace. It doesn’t happen without effort or without pain, but we can learn.

quiet sea

Thus, even in the midst of storms and chaos when the heart is breaking, we live by faith alone. When life doesn’t make sense and seems so unfair, we can continue to sail the seas knowing that our Captain will continue to pilot our ship.  When we’ve lost our faculties, there is no reason to fear, for He is watching over us. There’s no need to jump overboard and there’s no need to worry. All that we’ve experienced on these waters in the past has solidified our faith. In this crisis, we can live by faith alone.

As life moves on in its frenzy and chaos, I will remember this day. I will remember this song, and I will keep singing its message.  I will continue to trust Him when there seems to be an endless nothingness ahead. Jesus is the Captain of my soul. He pilots my ship over the quiet – and unquiet – seas.

The horizon might not be in view now, but one day – I know – we will be safely Home.

quiet sea

If you’d like to listen to this song acappella by Travelers of Faith, you can go to this link.

To hear the 2012 LA All State Children’s choir sing this song to a different tune, click here.

pinterest quiet sea