Generation Cedar


(From a woman who woke up with both arms and legs amputated after contracting the flesh-eating bacteria, Strep A, after giving birth):

“I’m so grateful….I’m so grateful.”

It starts right here with the “Queen of Blame.”  I’m set like flint on a mission to root out attitudes of ungratefulness, victimization and blaming in myself and in my children.

I will do all I can to avoid raising children who complain because our swimming plans got canceled when there are children who are just grateful they made it through another round of chemo.

I will do all I can to avoid raising children who have a pity party because it’s too hot to weed the garden when there are children who would do anything for their next meal.

And I won’t be that woman anymore. I have complained and whined and thrown pity parties too.  I have griped about “how hard it is to clean these tile floors” when there’s a woman, somewhere, sweeping her dirt ones….probably smiling.

I’ve complained that my dishwasher has been broken for forever, but haven’t said much about the water I take for granted running through the spigot every time I want it to, here, in my air-conditioned kitchen.

I’ve complained (if only silently) that my husband doesn’t do this or that, when I have a hard-working, faithful, tender, gracious man that lives every minute of his life for us.

We have a hard time even making a list of things for which we are thankful because we’ve never been without them.  We assume the luxuries in our lives are entitlements.

And we are surrounded (just listen!) by a culture that whines, blames and screams “entitled” while there are suffering people everywhere who raise their eyes at the end of the day and praise God for breath.

I won’t join them and I won’t raise children who join them.

So many things have pressed in on my heart lately about the immeasurable quality of gratitude.  It continues to be one of life’s ironies:  the more we have, the more we are ungrateful.

I want to cultivate a habit of breathing gratitude. It must be deliberate.

No matter what trials the Lord takes you through, may I encourage you that a grateful spirit will sustain you more than anything else.

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98 Responses

  1. The vacation someone else is always going on when my family is happy and never fights….right here at home.

    The baby that someone else is having when I have been blessed TWO times by God.

    They are hard.

  2. I’m with you, Kelly. I’ve been working on the same thing here. In fact, this afternoon, the girls were disappointed when the bank teller didn’t give them any suckers. My oldest (5) was literally on the verge of tears! After rebuking her self-pity, I encouraged both of them to recount the good things we had done/ate all day. In a few seconds, we were laughing and singing; and the suckers haven’t been mentioned since. =)

  3. I agree. Completely.

    Can you share how you will practically do this with your children? Or is that a whole ‘nother blog post? :o)

  4. Well I said “challenge” as though it is something hard. It’s just something we aren’t used to doing. We need to make gratefulness a natural thing don’t we?

  5. We’ve had a house full of ungrateful little people lately…tends to rub off on the big people. Thank you for the reminder!!

  6. I posted along a very similar vein yesterday, though you’ve taken it one step further and resolved to raise up children of gratitude in your home. I’d love for my girls to develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’ too, but it’s certainly a tough on to model!! Why is it we’re constantly comparing with those we feel have it better than those we KNOW have it so much worse?

  7. Amen sistah! I was without hot water in my kitchen for about a year… when our pastor heard about it, he came out himself and fixed it (and showed my son how to do a bit of plumbing while he was at it, dear man.) After he left… I tell you, I felt like Cinderella at the ball.Hot water! In my kitchen! Dishwashing felt like a breeze. It was the doing-without that made me appreciate something I’d always taken for granted. My prayer since then is that I will be grateful without deprivation… that gratitude would just naturally flow from my heart♥

  8. What a great post – thank you so much for sharing!

    I’ve been challenged by this a lot lately. We’ve gone through some challenges in the last couple of years, and felt the comparison with the “have a lots” around us… But, really, as you point out, it’s so silly!

    I look forward to your future post on helping instill this in children, and I’m glad I’ve “met” you! 🙂

  9. this is so important. i can’t tell you how many times i have realized that issues with me or my children all boil down to issues with having a ungrateful spirit! thank you Kelly for continuing to sound the alarm on so many important issues. For His Glory, jen in al

  10. Thanks, Kelly! I needed this! Keep sharing on this same subject. I could use more of it!!!

  11. This. Is. GOOD! Right there with ya. And I’m looking forward to that ‘whole ‘nother blog post’ on applying this with our children. You bless me, time after time. May God bless you abundantly today sister!

  12. Just recently having an ectopic pregnancy and going through all the emotions of losing a baby, and being in pain and sick has really made me so grateful. Life is such a gift. I don’t want to lose this feeling of gratefulness that I have right now. It’s hard to put words to my emotions. Thank you for this post.

  13. Amen, Kelly! It has been a hard week for me. My husband and I have not been able to have children, and this past week I had my second miscarriage in six years of marriage. We had such high hopes for this pregnancy, and praised God for the miracle of conception. When I miscarried, I was sad of course, but the LORD gives and the LORD takes away; blessed be the Name of the LORD! (Job 1). I am trying not to be ungrateful. The pregnancy itself was a miracle that the LORD did in my life, and it was perhaps His perfect will for my baby to die. Blessed be His Name!

    People forget that their ingratitude hurts others. When I hear women on Facebook whining about being 36 weeks pregnant, or whining about their children making a mess, I try not to get angry, but honestly, they are blessed that they can have children. It is like a knife to my heart every time I have to sit through an ungrateful story about how a child was not really wanted anyway or how they are a bad child or whatever. More than once, I’ve said out loud to the complaining mom, “I’ll take him!” That tends to derail the pity party.

    My friends and I have a saying to put things in perspective. Whenever we are ready to grumble about something, we just think, “What would Anne Frank say about your whining?” Truly, whatever your situation is, if you live in America, there is someone in the world who has it worse than you do.

    And even if not, even if you lose everything like Job did, every breath you take is a miracle directly from God, who is still worthy to be praised. People don’t recognize the working of God in their lives sometimes!

    Is there pain? Yes; I am human. But more than that, there is love toward a Father who knows what is best for me, despite what I might think is best for myself.

    I have the word privilege taped to the monitor of my computer to remind me that everything in my life is bathed in privilege and blessing: I have a wonderful husband, a hot shower, cold air conditioning, food to eat, and a solid roof over my head. That is more than most people get. If I can’t be grateful in the little things, will God ever see fit to bless me with more?

    Sorry this is long; gratitude is something that has definitely been on my heart lately, and I guess this post struck a chord with me. May you and yours be blessed.

  14. Also, these lyrics from Nichole Nordeman’s “Gratitude” fit in well with this post:

    “Send some rain, would You send some rain?
    ‘Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
    And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
    Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
    Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
    Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
    But maybe not, not today
    Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
    And if that’s the case…

    We’ll give thanks to You
    With gratitude
    For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
    How to bless the very sun that warms our face
    If You never send us rain

    Daily bread, give us daily bread
    Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
    Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
    Wrap us up and warm us through
    Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
    Let us slumber safe from danger’s view this time
    Or maybe not, not today
    Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
    And if that’s the case…

    We’ll give thanks to You
    With gratitude
    A lesson learned to hunger after You
    That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead And if we never taste that bread

    Oh, the differences that often are between
    What we want and what we really need

    So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
    Move our hearts to hear a single beat
    Between alibis and enemies tonight
    Or maybe not, not today
    Peace might be another world away
    And if that’s the case…

    We’ll give thanks to You
    With gratitude
    For lessons learned in how to trust in You
    That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
    In abundance or in need
    And if You never grant us peace

    But Jesus, would You, please?

  15. Lori and Jamie,

    As I just walked through another miscarriage with my friend this week, I give you the poem I have written for her and pray you find some tiny comfort:

    You came, my little miracle, to live inside of me,

    A precious soul entrusted by the One who fully sees.

    I held you for a little while—too short if I could say,

    But God had written from the start, all your perfect days.

    Heaven stopped and wept for there is no life in vain,

    Every trial has a purpose, there’s a reason for the pain.

    I’ll see you once again—the little one I never met,

    I’ll cherish every moment and your life I won’t forget.

  16. Thanks you, Kelly…great post and beautiful poem. I know this is something we’ve been struggling with lately. We’ve just moved from Florida to Alaska and it has been hard on all of us. The children, especially, seem to be discontented all the time. My husband and I have been so flustered with them . Your words definitely convicted me of how discontent I have been over small things lately and how hypocritical to chastise my children for the same thing. I think we’ll be having some prayer about this when everyone is awake. Have a blessed day. 🙂

  17. Too funny! God must be working on His Body right now. When I came down this morning, my husband and I were talking, and that is the thing he mentioned: that during the day we have to be more grateful. Now, our kid is freakishly grateful for everything (thanking us for things WE take for granted giving her)and she is pretty spoiled (not a brat), but I can only claim Christ Jesus as her constant companion for that heart of hers. I can be more grateful…for all the God/Christ/Holy Spirit has done for me and those around us, I could not thank Him enough!
    What a great movement He is working through His Body!!!!

  18. kELLY I am in tears your poem is so touching.I have always tried to be gratefull for each day I am allowed to carry my precious child with in me.People who do not know the emotional pain of miscarriage may not understand that.

  19. Here’s one of the biggest AMEN’S I’ve uttered in a while. We take so much for granted. Sometimes I day dream about the fancy bathroom I’d like, but more times than that I remember to thank God for the hot shower I can take any time I want to in our one, dinky bathroom. Yes, I do consider our shower a luxery.

    I laugh at women who complain about “doing the dishes” when they have an automatic dishwasher. I AM the dishwasher. A good ol’ fashioned stand in front of a sink full of suds is where I come from.

    I do my best not to complain about staying home with my children or about my husband’s hard work because I know several working moms who would LOVE to stay home with their children but think they can’t.

    Oh, I could go on and on! Thanks for this article.

  20. Great post, Kelly.

    I so often forget to be thankful. Even the hardships of life are easier to bear because He gives us His peace. And if we’re doubly fortunate, His people to bear the burdens with us.

  21. We’re slowly moving away from comparisons to others, good and bad – often the heart of discontentment among children, and often lacking perspective. For that I am grateful!

    I agree entirely with the point of this post, but as for methodology, I have to confess I cringe a little at the “have it worse” approach…it’s still a comparison, if you’ll pardon my nitpicking :)….
    My mom worked in public service and was always playing the “we have it so much better stop whining” card…I have to share that it only got on my nerves, it never inspired gratitude.

    My grandmother, on the other hand, was quick with a verse, Biblical and practical, and would offer what I hope will be my default as it was hers…ex. “I can’t do x because I don’t have y” was met with “You can do all things through Christ who strenthens you, even your homework/the dishes/be nice to your brother”, and – this used to drive me nuts – “are you your circumstances?” There just wasn’t ever an entertainment of a spirit of lack, as a method of discipline and a matter of fact.

    Of course others have needs that far exceed our own, but I don’t know that knowledge of that always fixes a spirit on gratitude. At least not for some of us stubborn sour puss kids :). I’m all for specific personal examples of Grace/grace, and I think personalizing that trait breaks the cycle of comparison.

    I am grateful for you and your writing, btw. A blessing, all week long.

  22. Wow… very amazing post! I wish we all could realize the benefit of being thankful. We would all live more fulfilled lives, no doubt…

    Thanks for these words!

  23. I am looking forward to your “how to” blog post…especially in regards to work. My children tend to droop their shoulders or sulk when it comes to work or something that doesn’t fit their agenda. Please also address what to do with the disappointment (anger) when your children do act like victims.

    I am forever giving thanks. I regret that this has not rubbed off on my kids and I don’t know where I am going wrong.

  24. You won’t raise your children to be this or that?

    When children grow up, they CHOOSE who they want to be. They choose who they are. They have complete control, to be whiny or not. It’s not up to you. You don’t have that power.

  25. youngxiu,

    The reason I ask is that Christians believe in a three-pronged kind of influence regarding child-rearing. God is sovereign and yet we are still creatures with a free will and can choose obedience or disobedience. Parents have been given the specific command to train and teach and influence their children “in the way they should go”.

    True, my children might grow up to be unthankful despite my attempts to teach them otherwise–it is possible. But it is more likely that when parents train the characters of their children, those are the characteristics that they take on as adults.

    It’s basically a principle, not a guarantee. We are still commanded, regardless, to impart wisdom, instruction and the things of God to them.

  26. One more quick thought:

    The tone of the post–a little rant–isn’t mean to throw off the meaning. Simply put, I see parents in this generation not only allow their children to nurse attitudes of self-pity and victimization (“wah…I want an i-phone like my friend!”) but I’ve seen them create the spirit. It is very common to hear about parents going to their child’s school with fist in faces defending his child’s behavior, even in clear cases of offense. I’ve heard of parents suing school systems because their dress code “infringed on my child’s rights”, etc., etc.

    So the post is about a position I’m taking. That even as I battle my own self-pity and ingratitude, I’m determined to help them do it too. My Dad always said, “You may choose to disobey and do wrong, but I won’t be party to it”.

    So yes, I am determined that I “won’t raise ungrateful children”…the choice is theirs, yes, but on my watch we will pursue gratitude.

  27. I heard this from a pastor about 15 years ago. He was in seminary with a student from Africa in Chicago. After the African seminarian received his M.Div and was returning home, the pastor who told his story asked his African friend, “What will you most miss about America?” The pastor thought of many things his friend might miss: the great theological library at seminary, the discussions at the seminary, experiencing 4 seasons when his home country had 2 seasons (hot and hotter), Lake Michigan, wonderful and available food…the list went on and on. When his friend replied, he gave a very simple answer: “to take a hot shower any time I want to.” That’s gratitude in my book.

  28. Yes, though I know many nonChristians who share the same values. Most people I know–Christian and not–try to train up their kids in the same way. Most of my friends will not defend their kids if they have done wrong, and have respect for the work the schools do. If anything, they tend to accept blame for their kids before they have even heard the whole story (“Yes, my son does tend to. . .so it wouldn’t surprise me. . .)

    I don’t know anyone who wants their child to be whiny, spoiled or ungrateful, so I think we all share the goals. No need for the division between Christian and nonChristian on this one! Parents are not so very different, really!

  29. yongxiu,

    So, that still leaves me puzzled about your comment: you said we “have no power” but most parents you know “train up their kids in the same way”…

    If we have no power, (and therefore no authority or responsibility), why train them at all?

    Hey, wait a minute…never mind, that’s another debate 😉

  30. yongxiu,

    May I also add, even though most parents you know don’t defend their children or nurse the self-pity I referred to, often I speak to a broader spectrum than just those we know.

    In general, our whole society is very much made up of self-pitying, “you owe me something” individuals (just watch the news). It doesn’t mean many people are not this way, it’s just more of a trend than the once hard-working American attitude.

    My father-in-law is a high school principal and attests to the fact, just in his small school, of the parent-defending-child epidemic.

    So outside our small circle of friends, it’s still safe to say that, by and large, parents are much more defensive and coddling than they once were.

  31. I would go a step further….I believe the verse “train up a child in the way they should go and when they are older they SHALL NOT depart from it” is a promise. If/then condition, like so many other blessings in the Bible. I am training my daughter believing full well that she will not depart from it because God said so. He has been proven to be a honest, trustworthy God. I refuse to disbelieve Him.

  32. Most of all, I will share the gospel with as many people as I possibly can because I’m so thankful for what Christ has done for me, a wretched sinner.
    It’s so easy to be gracious and forgiving when we realize how evil we are, and Christ died when we were still sinners! Gratitude for His saving grace makes grace easy to give.

  33. We must be content, to be grateful. If we are ungrateful then we are discontent, and the reverse is true as well.
    We too are striving to raise content, grateful children. Going against the grain ya might say 😉

    Thank you for this post, Kelly.

  34. Amen Kelly!! That was beautiful, and convicting.

    Yongxiu–I must disagree with you. While our children, when they’re grown, may willfully choose to be whiners, as parents we do have the power to instill in them knowledge of what is right and good. And despite best intentions, many parents do enable whining and ungratefulness. Usually out of a desire to please and show love to their children, but the result is still a whiner. As parents, we do have “the power” on some level, as we have a unique insight into our children’s personalities and an opening into their hearts that others do not have. We may still fail, because we are imperfect and our children are imperfect. But saying “I won’t raise my children to do this or that” doesn’t imply a perfect success rate. It is saying “I won’t allow these things in my home, I won’t bow to a child’s ungratefulness or enable a sense of entitlement.” Raising our children is our responsibility as parents. The possibility that they might reject that raising as adults does not mean we should take no action while they are under our care and authority.

  35. Obviously we have the power to control our children (to some extent) when they are young.

    However, when they are adults, they make their own choices. And some choose to depart from the teachings of their youth. I don’t think anyone can deny that.

    To the person who believes God promises that we’ll have God-fearing children if we do everything right: Look around. There are godly people who have raised their kids right, and those children have still gone wrong. There are no guarantees.

  36. I say we have the power to control our children only to some extent. By that I mean we cannot control what they think. And even young children, under their parent’s authority, make bad choices at times. But it is certainly easier to control their actions when they are young and under our authority.

  37. Yet we cannot control whether or not they choose to sue McDonalds over spilled coffee when they are adults. We just can’t.

  38. I had some miserable sinus episode this weekend. I used up the Kleenex (and the napkins as Kleenex); sometimes sleeping left me feeling lousy and awful; a hard sneeze hurt my chest and shoulders horribly, and earlier I threw up so violently that I thought I’d die and even my ears rang from the pain afterwards. But, I am grateful. I’m majorly grateful I can afford the antibiotics that made life more bearable; I’m grateful the tea was so incredibly good; I’m grateful my experience with allergies made me knowledgeable of exactly what to do, and I’m very grateful I woke up with a somewhat pressurized head this morning rather than the far more horrid, sore-from-drainage throat I had last time. I’m also grateful I didn’t develop the depressed feeling of uselessness this sick stuff gave me last time it occured. For financial, electrical and herbal means that heal and shortened my misery span considerably, I find myself amazingly blessed. And yes, that includes our wonderful shower too!

    This was a good spiritual and mental exercise, Kelly. Your article came in perfect time to help me. Thanks! :)*sniffle*

  39. Lori and Jamie, I’m so sorry for your losses. I hope you don’t scold yourselves for your excessive pain, or for asking why; the soul cries doubly when both the flesh and the heart are struck. Amy Carmichael is one of the best voices to turn to when one’s in pain, I think; she puts things so beautifully in perspective and God spoke to me through her personally one night.

    Let’s try not to be too hard on the smaller cries of women during healthy pregnancies, either; pregnancy isn’t easy on the body and everyone succumbs to bodily pain sometimes. I’m very set on training myself to complain less right now, but when I’m doubled in pain on the floor, I don’t pretend to be able to sing hymns.

  40. That wasn’t nitpicking at all, CC, but an important point.

    Kelly, I demand you publish your poetry!

  41. I heard an interesting story on the radio this afternoon – the host was discussing a problem he had experienced with his then teenaged son’s ongoing surliness. They sent him to Ghana as part of a humanitarian aid initiative for 6 months to find his sense of humor. I love this active part of what I referred to as comparison…instead of the “think of all the starving children in Africa”, it became “you might want to ask yourself why people in dire circumstances can be content and happy, and the best way to learn is face to face”. I know we can’t do this with the average eight year old, however, but an interesting strategy for an older child, maybe.

    I admire that kind of “extreme” parenting… what our culture would see as some kind of punishment became a life-altering experience at a critical time in a young man’s life.

    (I don’t think this was a Christian family, but I appreciated the parents’ willingness to forge ahead based on what was best for the child, and probably extremely uncomfortable and worrisome for all concerned.)

  42. That IS rather extreme, but it beats electric shock treatment; I guess I could put it more in line with the halfway house or workhouse we see kids sent to sometimes to learn discipline.

  43. hmm – I don’t agree with the half-way house or workhouse analogy – and I’m not sure what electric shock treatment has to do with discipline in the modern age. I do think that it’s extreme – as in extremely important at a crossroads moment that a parent step in to correct what could be a step towards a life of misery. In this instance, he was sent to do what a man would ordinarily be hired for, to see the world as a man should see it, by helping others. A far cry from juvenile hall style boot camp.

  44. Cottage child,

    Now that is parent who gets it. By the way, this example hints at one of the ideas in my next “how-to” gratitude post.

    After thinking of what you said about the comparison being a negative thing, I think it has everything to do with the spirit and motive. A mom who nags her children at meal time…”You’re going to finish that plate. Don’t you know children are starving in Africa?” is a pretty bad approach, IMO.

    However, sharing real-life stories with out children and then *sharing* with them about our blessings may have a little different effect. Also I think you hit the most important part: it’s not so much “what I have/what you don’t”, but am I content regardless?

  45. When I said workouse, I meant the houses where kids are sent to work, like farms, to help other adults and learn a work ethic. Electric shock has been more recent than you may imagine, I fear. The similar factor there was the idea of “experiment” and rather force-raising the kid’s better side.

  46. Electric shock was used for people diagnosed with a mental illness. It was not used for ordinary teenage surliness, which is what was described.

  47. “However, sharing real-life stories with out children and then *sharing* with them about our blessings may have a little different effect. Also I think you hit the most important part: it’s not so much “what I have/what you don’t”, but am I content regardless?”

    Yes – my thoughts exactly, if I wasn’t clear (which wouldn’t surprise me 🙂 )….I think personal, specific examples are extremely valuable learning tools for adults and children both. My only objection to comparison is that it has a tendency to be distorted, and usually incorrectly. We as Westerners have a tendency to idealize circumstances, good and bad. I also try (keyword) to refrain from comparisons because they are usually based on incomplete information, and for the simple fact that no, I’m not grateful, ultimately, that someone has less than I do materially speaking. My gratitude is for the example and influence of their heart following God.

    So, in making a short story long, I’m in complete agreeance WW-

  48. Not always, yong.

    “I’m not grateful, ultimately, that someone has less than I do materially speaking. My gratitude is for the example and influence of their heart following God”

    Perfectly said, CC. I’ve gotten irritated with comparisons and strangely didn’t even completely notice this, or why it was happening, until you mentioned it.

  49. cottage child, I should clarify my earlier statement. I wasn’t trying to say that just because my situation is better than someone else’s, God is worthy of praise. I was simply pointing out that there are things in our everyday lives that we take for granted, but which SHOULD evoke gratitude in us instead.

    I believe I also said “And even if not, even if you lose everything like Job did, every breath you take is a miracle directly from God, who is still worthy to be praised. People don’t recognize the working of God in their lives sometimes!”

    It was very much in the spirit of recognizing our blessings and using that as a means to eliminate whining and ingratitude, not in the spirit of comparing ourselves to others and determining the worth of God or ourselves or our relationship with Him thereby.

    Thank you ladies for your kind words about my losses. Someday it will all make sense, and that’s what I cling to.

  50. Hi Lori – I appreciated your original comment, and wasn’t questioning it in the least, nor intending to “direct” anything I was expressing in reply to something you in particular wrote (was that a sentence?).

    It was more a general observation regarding material and circumstantial comparisons, and the possible difficulty of using comparison as a primary basis for inspiring gratitude as I’ve experienced it. My concern is that such comparisons are made on what we’ve supposed about others more than a factual knowledge – ie being grateful for creature comforts doesn’t necessarily need to be followed up with “because others don’t have what we have”. The connection to the needs of others doesn’t lie there, as I see it. Kelly/WW I think offers the solution of expressing our gratitude, and living that expression by using whatever circumstances we’re in as an opportunity to bless others.

    I’m sorry, I’m not explaining it very well – there’s a seed of something that doesn’t feel right to me in the old Sunday School model of “you’d better be grateful, you could be XYZ.” I’m working on why that hits me funny, bear with me?

  51. Kelly,
    I read this the other day, and again tonight. Since we can’t control anyone’s heart (no matter how much I wish that I could), I don’t understand how you can declare w/any certainty that you will raise kids who won’t sue McDonald’s.

    Of course, by God’s grace, we want to raise our kids in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4),” but the results are predicated on God’s grace–alone. I understand what your intentions are (and they’re obviously, Godly ones), but to guarantee (please don’t take umbrage w/that word) that our kids will follow God, and obey His Word, is to presuppose that we know where God will take us/our children. Frankly, we can’t even presume that God will draw all of their hearts to Him.

    I don’t want to stir up anything here…this is merely my observation.

    This may have already been covered in the comments (I’ve only read some of them thus far), so forgive the redundancy.


  52. No problem Lori, I wish I could do more.

    I’m good at recommending good reading resources, though. Along with “Rose from Brier”, one of Carmichael’s best, Elyse Fitzaptrick’s “A Steadfast Heart” and John Piper’s own poetry rendition of Job’s story “The Misery of Job” are excellent books on pain. I’d normally add a note of caution about the last two books since they’re Calvinistic in some parts, but since it appears you’re a Calvinist already, that’s not necessary 😛

    The last two books were originally released with CDs containing reading and music, and I’d recommend trying to get copies with the companion CDs if possible, should you decide to get the books. Amazon’s a great source.

  53. “I don’t understand how you can declare w/any certainty that you will raise kids who won’t sue McDonald’s”

    Forgive me if I’m intruding, but it’s my experience that if somebody says “I won’t raise children to do such and such”, it simply means “I won’t teach my children to act this way in ANY form”. Not “I promise with 100% certainty that my offspring will never do this”. Indeed, my whole life I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t raise children to do a certain thing and never thought they were personally planning their children’s every step. Maybe it’s a Southern thing?? I don’t know.

  54. Kelly,

    I just read your response to someone, and you actually said that you can’t “guarantee” anything in terms of your children. In retrospect, I should have read ALL of the comments first, but I’m beat tonight. Talk about excuses…

    BTW, I, too, have noticed that often, the first thing out of my mouth is to complain. I (usually) come full circle, but it’s amazing how small of a premium that I put on the sin of complaining–as compared to, well, horrible sins like lying, or gossiping!

    The other thing that I find myself doing is comparing myself to others (it’s ALWAYS to people whose lives are seemingly going better than mine), and asking God why they have something that I don’t…I’m not necessarily talking about material possessions, but just a general attitude of why others’ lives seem to be going along so swimmingly, while I’m drowning…I’m not even close to drowning, but you’d think that I was based on my griping.

    A couple of weeks ago at Bible study, the lesson was from John 21. I love that chapter, but the “usual” verses weren’t what stood out. The verse that resonated w/me (and I didn’t even realize it at the time) was John 21:22 when Peter asks Jesus about John’s fate. Twice Jesus asks Peter, “What is that to you?” That is the verse that has rung in my ears as I’ve come to see the habit that has formed in my life. Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of practice perfecting it, and the habit is firmly in place. I am hopeful, though, that God will continue to ask “What is that to you?” when I decide that my life has been upended when something like, oh, something like syrup has spilled in the ‘frig, and I wonder why a friend of mine has a housekeeper, and I don’t. I wish that I was kidding…


    Good night from the Bay Area of CA.


  55. The verse repeats the question…but not twice. I need to go to bed! I do hope the maid has the pillows fluffed.

  56. I know the woman you quoted and knowing Katy, you see just how much every life is worth living with or without arms and legs. God is so good and even without these most essential limbs, life is worth living. I thank you for your post because I have been in a place where I have forgotten just how good life is and have taken for granted some of the many blessings I have. I needed to readjust my perspective.

  57. Cathy,

    Glad you read my “disclaimer”. Jennifer hit it:

    “Forgive me if I’m intruding, but it’s my experience that if somebody says “I won’t raise children to do such and such”, it simply means “I won’t teach my children to act this way in ANY form.”

    Maybe it is Southern…imagine it with a little bit of twang and a hand on the hip and you’ve got it! Maybe if I had finished the little rant with, “Bless their hearts!” it would have needed no further explanation 😉

  58. Karen,

    Thank you. Your words sum it up:

    “I needed to readjust my perspective.”

    And the funny thing is that we must constantly do this, because we so soon forget, just like people have done over the goodness of God for centuries.

  59. Yongxiu and Jennifer,
    I will not be moved by what I see, I will only be moved by God’s Word. Just because people around you have been “good Christians” and had their children go astray, does not mean God’s word is in error. Only God knows how they raised their children each minute of everyday. Only God knows if they leaned on their own understanding instead of seeking Him in their children’s instruction. God said “train a child in the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart from it.” He didn’t say, but again, they might, just depends.
    There is a relatively new movement in the Christian church that discredits God’s Word based on personal interaction with someone whose lives didn’t follow the Scripture. (Much like the discussions we have seen here on patriarchal families.) The problem is, only God knows the heart and knows what that person did or believed. If we choose to be moved by experiences, we are no more stable than on tossed about to and fro by the waves/whims.
    Not trying to start anything, really. Just pointing out God’s Word supersedes ANY experience, good or bad. Scripture is the final authority.

  60. Did not mean to say “Scriptural” tunnel vision, though some do make even the Bible incorrect in their interpretations sometimes. Spiritual tunnel vision is a more accurate term.

  61. cottage child, I get where you’re coming from. There’s something in that sort of reasoning which could go sour if taken in the wrong direction. Thanks for the clarification.

    Jennifer, thanks again for your kindness. I’ll look into those resources. I’m unclear on where you got the idea I’m a Calvinist; I definitely come down more on the Arminian side of soteriology, but I have a somewhat open mind (my grandpa always told me not to be so open-minded that my brain falls out).

    I’m always watchful when reading books related to religion to eat the meat and spit out the bones, no matter what the subject, by comparing the principles involved to Scripture; however, I’m grateful for the warning because I know that some Calvinists teach that it is unclear whether those who die before birth or in infancy, without baptism, go to heaven. This view has always been objectionable to me in general, but in my current state, it is positively abhorrent.

    Kelly L, while God’s Word is absolutely the final authority, I’m not so sure that Proverbs are promises that absolutely must come true. It seems instead that they are general rules or principles about how life works, but there may be exceptions to them.

    Take Proverbs 10:3: “The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.” Does this mean that a righteous person will never be hungry? Does this mean that all the wicked must starve? Clearly, there are some very well fed wicked people in the world. As a general matter, though, God does take care of the righteous, and the wicked are on their own. (I will also note that this verse could be intended in a spiritual sense: that the spiritual hunger of the righteous is satisfied, while the wicked go hungry spiritually.)

    Or Proverbs 10:24: “What the wicked dreads will overtake him; what the righteous desire will be granted.” If I desire something, but it is not granted, does that mean I am not righteous? Have you ever desired something that was not granted? I love the Lord dearly, and I have been made righteous in Christ. But I firmly believe that His ways are higher than my own, and His plan is better than mine. In general, God will grant the desires of the righteous, but not always if they are desires that are not in His plan. Perhaps a way to reconcile this is to say that the righteous only desire that God’s will be done? Maybe, but I think there are some things about which God might be will-neutral. Does he really care if my new couch is blue or pink?

    Or what about Proverbs 11:10? How I wish it were always true. “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.”

    My point is that Proverbs is not intended to be a set of promises as much as it is a set of principles about the way life works. I think this was the spirit with which the verse about training up a child was originally cited – not as a guarantee, but as a principle to be followed. Just my two cents on that issue…and remember, I’m not a mom to any earthly children yet, so take me with a grain of salt.

  62. Sorry Lori, I got that impression of you because you said it’s God’s will for the death in your family. Usually Calvinists are the ones who speak of God’s will so fluently in tough situations, but not always, so I shouldn’t have assumed.

    THANK you for your excellent explanation about Proverbs. My pastor just did a sermon on them, and that is exactly what they are: principles of wisdom by Solomon, not promises from God.

    You’re welcome for the books and thanks for sharing your thoughts, they are very wise.

  63. Lori,

    Just a side note regarding Calvinism, whose proponents hold a many number of different views, this one is by Warfield (a Calvinist) regarding death in infancy:

    “Dr. Warfield says:

    “Their destiny is determined irrespective of their choice, by an unconditional decree of God, suspended for its execution on no act of their own; and their salvation is wrought by an unconditional application of the grace of Christ to their souls, through the immediate and irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit prior to and apart from any action of their own proper wills . . . And if death in infancy does depend on God’s providence, it is assuredly God in His providence who selects this vast multitude to be made participants of His unconditional salvation . . . This is but to say that they are unconditionally predestinated to salvation from the foundation of the world.

  64. Jennifer, I see where the confusion came from with regard to Calvinism. I did say that my baby’s death was perhaps God’s will, but that’s I guess because I don’t believe death is always a bad thing, since to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord…so it’s not like I’m attributing evil to God or anything. It seems like a horrific occurrence from this side of glory, but faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen.

    Jesus told His people, when He gave the Lord’s prayer, that we should seek and pray for His will to be done. Upon learning that I was expecting, I immediately prayed for His will, not MY will, to be done (just as Jesus did in Gethsemane). And I trust that it was done, even if I have a little difficulty rejoicing in the result right now.

    Do I wish my pregnancy had turned out differently? In the flesh, yes; but in my soul, I trust God. I don’t know the big picture like He does, and I just have to trust that He’ll work it out for my good in a way that is consistent with His character as a loving God of justice, as revealed in Scripture.

    I know with every fiber of my being that Scripture, which tells us that our ways are not His ways, is telling the truth. God works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him, those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). (Note: Believing this Bible truth does not force me to be a Calvinist – as seen in the next two verses: Foreknown -> Predestined -> Called -> Justified -> Glorified. The difference between Calvinists and Arminians here is in the definition of foreknowledge.)

    So while I am not a Calvinist, I believe that when believers take their hands off a situation and pray for God’s will to be done, God hears. His hands are capable.

  65. Kelly (Word Warrior), I did say some Calvinists, not all. I’m sorry if that was not clear from my post; going back and reading, the word some looked a bit buried in all the clutted text. 😉 In fact, I was relieved upon searching the internet this afternoon to read that John Piper also holds that God saves all infants who die.

  66. No indeed, most Calvinists nowadays I’m sure don’t believe that unbaptized means unsaved. Thanks for explaining, Lori.

  67. Jennifer, it wouldn’t have been on account of baptism anyway…it would have been because they weren’t elect or something. I’m not a Calvinist, so I really don’t know. I encountered this doctrine during a Bible study, when I offhandedly made a remark about seeing our baby in heaven one day. This Calvinist young man interrupted me, telling me that my baby was not necessarily in heaven, and might even be in hell because I have not embraced the “doctrines of grace,” and therefore my sins are visited on my children. Because according to this guy I am not saved, then my unborn miscarried children will go to hell. To which I say, Jesus is Lord, God is good, and that’s all I need to know.

    It’s certainly a doctrine people don’t like, but it is consistent with Calvinism (though as Kelly explained, many Calvinists have reasoned around it by saying that God elected all those souls whom He foreordained to die early in life).

    As I noted, and as Kelly reinforced above, not ALL Calvinists believe this, and indeed many prominent Calvinists believe the opposite. But it is unfortunately out there.

  68. Anyway, I think I have derailed this thread enough. Sorry, Kelly, this always happens somehow…

    I had chili for dinner, followed by pudding, and my husband is ministering to little kids at a VBS camp tonight…isn’t God good? 🙂 I have ten fingers to type this, a computer to type it on, electricity to power it, and an internet connection to send it. Oh, and look there, I just breathed again.

    We have so much to be thankful for!

  69. I didn’t know some people claimed to know whether unborn babes were elect or not. I gave up on trying to figure out Calvinism a long time ago either way.

  70. Lori,
    I will agree with the fact that some verses have more depth to them, and may contain more than a “face value” reading. But I also maintain that if/then verses in the Bible are true (as are all the verses), and God breathed. As such, I claim this verse over my daughter. As far as the verses you quoted, I believe they are 100% accurate and evidenced in the world today. However, the evidence is not the basis for my believing they are true. The basis of my belief and faith is the veracity and inerrancy of the Word of God.
    Timothy 3:16 says All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
    To me, saying proverbs are not promises is akin to saying they are not true. And if we choose to lower proverbs in our own mind, we can then take Confucius’ sayings at the same value. His sayings are good for teaching good living too. It devalues God’s Word.
    I believe every verse is a promise in that it is God breathed, and God cannot lie, what comes out of Him is truth, truth I can trust, just like a promise. Maybe it is the word “promise” that is the eyebrow raiser.

  71. Kelly L, yes, it is the word “promise” that is the eyebrow raiser. Similarly, the word “claim” is an eyebrow raiser.

    I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. I believe in the general truth of every passage of Scripture, including the Proverbs. I just don’t believe we can take a single verse out and “claim it” as though God’s power is somehow limited by the Bible.

    Take Psalm 113:9 (He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.) Not in Proverbs, but the idea is similar.

    Some barren women simply don’t ever have children. And this verse doesn’t say righteous barren women; it says barren women, so there’s no out from saying, “Well, she just wasn’t righetous enough.”

    If I, as an infertile woman, “claimed” this verse over my life, telling my friends that I was “claiming it,” but I never became the happy mother of children, what would that say to my friends about God? If I tell people that God’s Word has a promise in it for me, and that if I “claim” that promise, it will come true…but then it doesn’t come true, haven’t I just brought dishonor on God because I made Him out not to be true to His Word? This is where my worry comes in about “claiming” “promises.” It has the faint scent of Word of Faith teachings, and that makes me uncomfortable.

    The Bible is the living, breathing Word of God. It is useful for all those things you listed (doctrine, reproof, correction, teaching, etc.). The Bible ITSELF is without error, but our interpretation of it is not always without error.

  72. Lori,
    This is where you and I disagree, then, and it is OK. This is not a salvation make it or break it. Claiming is just acknowledging that all verses were written to benefit/correct/instruct/bless all believers. Salvation is a name it and claim it statement: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
    But just as in all topics (well discussed here), a few people who have taken that into a prosperity ONLY gospel have created a god of their own desire just as those who claim miracles are not for today, or promises were for a period only. Neither is a full reflection of who God represents Himself to be in the Bible.
    I totally respect your right to your stance and am not trying to change your mind or anything. Just clarifying my stance.

  73. Amen! Well said… may gratitude become my/our “automatic” way of being at all times, in all circumstances!

  74. Wow, I loved this post. So true, and such a wonderful reminder. It is a choice – our attitudes, and our thankfulness & contentment. Thank you!

  75. Very well said. If we could all remember to be grateful for everything, this would be a much different world. I too, do not wish to raise selfish, ungrateful children. Thanks for your words!

  76. Such an excellent analysis! I have no clue how you were able to say this’d take me long hours. Well worth it though, I’d suspect. Have you considered selling banners on your blog?

  77. This is so true. I have a quote in my dining room; “What if woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday!”

  78. Hi Kelly,

    There is not one of us who is able to say that we do not struggle with gratitude. I think back to our trip to Russia and how amazing it felt to come home to all the comforts we assume we deserve or need. It sure didn’t take long, though, to lose that sense of appreciation and begin grumbling over petty things.

    Since there are so many comments, someone else may have already requested this, but what are some practical ways in dealing with complaining from children? I often quote from Philippians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing….” We also read from Voice of the Martyrs magazine for our children to hear what other Christian families are suffering for their faith (which paints a picture of them having so little materially, but so much richness spiritually). I remind my kids when they are eating something they don’t like that we need to be grateful for the BOUNDLESS variety we have in our meals, but somehow it doesn’t quite seem to hit the heart. I’ve made my kids do more of something challenging because of their complaining. We’ve disciplined in other ways as well for having a repeated spirit of discontentment.

    What about when it comes to school work? Since my children know nothing but homeschooling, they are quick to gripe when its time to do math or spelling, even though we do our best to keep it routine. They just don’t seem to get how much LESS work they do than in the public schools. I know I can’t force my kids to love learning about basic math concepts, but it does grow wearisome to be met with the same grumbling each time they are asked to open their workbook.

    Sometimes I truly believe that God gives us impossible situations that don’t seem to be “cured” by practical methods in order that we may rely on Him continually. I want my kid’s hearts to be tender and appreciative, but for all the Biblical answers we can give them, we are still often met with a sour face or ugly sigh!

  79. Really struggling with this now. In past years ” thank you Lord ” came out through
    Sobs even without thinking. We had a winter of beans and no child complained.
    But now, what if I’ve been wronged ( nothing tabloid worthy but wronged) can I be greatful still??? God has provided what is missing in the relationship but to be grateful in it feels like a dive off a cliff. Your post is certainly where I need to be thinking. Thanks!

  80. Yes, Deborah. We all need constant reminders, don’t we? I’m constantly telling my kids to be grateful then catching myself in the next moment not choosing gratitude. Sigh. Lord help me keep my eyes on You.

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