Tristin and Bell playing in the dirt. They look like this every time they play outside. There is a struggle that I face constantly. Every day from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. It may not seem like that great of a struggle to everyone. It is no secret sin, nothing that I need to ask forgiveness for. I often do find myself crying out for help, guidance, direction and wisdom. The struggle I face daily is doing the absolute best job I can raising Godly kids. God has chosen to bless us with five lives to shape and mold. That is a huge responsibility. Adding to that is the responsibility of homeschooling them. It is one of the best gifts I can give them. But if I don't stay centered in Christ the overwhelming responsibility can consume me. I don't mean the work that I put into it or the time it takes each day. I mean the task of taking their education into my own hands and eventually sending them out into the world with the trust that we followed God's leading every step of the way. I don't live in fear that I am not doing a good enough job or that somehow we are wrecking our kids. I am doing my best and God covers everything else. My best means me actively seeking God's will and not mine. It means answering them with a pleasant tone when I want to snap back. It means showing them the unconditional love that my Heavenly Father shows me. It means extending them grace and then explaining to them the grace of God. It means showing love to my husband in front of them and not letting him "have it" when I want to loose my cool. It means teaching them to do their chores with a merry heart and not doing them for them because that is the easy way out. There is one facet that I continually struggle with though and that is discipline. Not the act of doing it but choosing the right discipline for the offense. As my children grow so do their offenses. When they were younger it was simple. I wholeheartedly believe in making each offense a learning lesson. To me that means that there is logic in my discipline. Some children in our house prove to be easier than others. They have reached an age at which they have started fighting. For weeks I have been praying for a consequence to hitting that makes sense. I am happy to report that God answers prayers. Last night my kids were playing and one of them got hurt. I was upstairs but clearly heard I hate you yelled out. I can not stand those words, especially when they are spoken over one of my kids. My first reaction was to put the offender to bed early while myself and the other child played the board game I had agreed to play with both of them. But again that is just a punishment not much teaching being done there. As I walked down the stairs ready to announce an early bedtime after an apology, the Holy Spirit reminded me that death and life are in the tongue. That talk is cheap (an apology) and powerful (I hate you). That while an apology is in order it takes more than that to restore a relationship. The Lord then gave me the answer to my prayer. It was simple, I don't know why it never occurred to me before. After a heart felt apology the offender will have to show their love for the sibling that they hurt. They have to actively look for ways to show their love and sacrifice their time to serve the other person when they need help. I am calling it serving and showing. The one on the receiving end is not allowed to hint that they need help, the offender must be looking for ways to help. God truly is faithful to help us when seek Him. I am so thankful that he can see through all the junk that I bring to Him each day and still love enough to care about the deepest desires of my heart.