by Cindy Randolph
As we journey toward the goals we set for ourselves as parents and for our children, there are always pitfalls that blindside us. We all seek to raise children that will honor God and serve Him alone, but it often seems that in spite of all we know to do, we still hit the wall and face challenges that do exactly what they are designed to do, which is bring us to our knees. God in His infinite wisdom knows that without these challenges, we likely will forget our Source and the one Answer we and our children need. That Answer is Him alone.
That is exactly where I was, except it was on the tiny bathroom floor of our two bedroom apartment, when I hit the point of desperation in which I knew no matter how much I controlled and corrected my children, there would come a time that would simply not be enough. At that minute, God was able to penetrate my plans, purposes, and ways I thought I was supposed to do raising His children and cause me to search for His. He used my tears to compel me to search and read and search again. Frankly, this process led me to “Start with the Heart” from the International Network of Children’s Ministry in partnership with the National Center for Biblical Parenting. Somehow, someway, I received an email tip. It was like manna from Heaven to a soul hungry to finally have an answer to what I believed God would have me do. My children were obedient, that wasn’t the issue; it was the knowledge that underneath it all, I wasn’t effectively reaching their hearts. Their eyes told the tale each and every time we would deal with whatever popped up. I was correcting the behavior but not teaching them to choose a correct heart response, a skill they would definitely need later in life if I wanted them to serve the Lord and be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading. I had read every book recommended to me about Godly child rearing and even ones that gave me heart issues to address. What I found gave me nothing more than theory. I understood what I needed to do, but I had no tangible way to flesh it out in our day to day life. I was tired, frustrated, and felt as if I was failing as a parent and a Christian. These email tips were ideas I could implement! They were an option to the hamster wheel of correction on which we were running. I ordered Parenting is Heart Work by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. I dog-eared the pages I knew I’d return to reprocess and use. It was an answer to prayer and an end to the search I had begun! God used these methods to move our home from one of tension and the foreboding of strained relationship to one of peace.
My husband, Mark, and I also have served as Student Ministry Pastors at Christ Alive Church in Newton, NC for the past 6 years, and we are frequently called upon to “fix” teens and their issues. We can clearly see parents and their kids reach this point, not from lack of desire to raise their children to serve God in word ,as well as deed, but from lack of tools and training. Fear of failing turns into anger as we get stuck in ruts of dealing with issues without a plan. Parents are overwhelmed trying to juggle life’s demands and keep their heads above water. Often families are blended or single parent homes that bring even more challenges to the table.
I believe in “Start with the Heart” so much that I became a presenter for the National Center for Biblical Parenting so that I could become part of the solution. God has allowed me to learn from Scott and Joanne’s training and partner with them to help parents, pastors, children’s pastors, and youth leaders guide and train parents on how to effectively reach the hearts of their children in correction and see discipline as it is intended: to make disciples. Parenting is Heart Work reminds us that correction is just a detour on the path we want to lead our children through to get to that destination of God’s mandate of raising our children in such a way that when they are old they won’t depart from Him. It has been an honor to talk with parents who felt as if they had nowhere else to turn and were destined to a life of conflict with their children. They have approached me with tears of gratitude as they are able to share what God has done though their experience with this method. Others have tears of thankfulness after hearing the answer for which they have been praying and having a sense of renewed hope.
God put Adam and Eve in the garden to tend and keep it. Likewise, we are to tend the hearts of our children and guide them in God’s ways until they are able to do it on their own. When I end a Parenting is Heart Work session, I share one of my favorite quotes with them. It is the one that keeps me focused when I feel frustrated and overwhelmed. It was said by Charlotte Mason, who was one of the major contributors to the belief that all children should be educated and treated as persons with respect. She sums up the tending of the heart God has called us to do. Charlotte calls us to remember the value and importance of what we do while encouraging our hearts with hope. She says, “For let this be borne in mind, whatever ugly quality disfigures the child, he is but as a garden overgrown with weeds: the more prolific the weeds, more fertile the soil; he has within him every possibility of beauty of life and character. Get rid of the weeds and foster the flowers.” Amen.
Cindy Randolph has been married to her husband and best friend, Mark, for 13 years. They home school their three children, and serve together as Student Ministry Pastors at Christ Alive Church in Newton, NC.