Monday, September 24, 2012

Cars and Hearts, Who Knew?

We finally found a car for Kate. Because we never buy new cars, we shopped around for quite a while, trying to find something that would meet all our requirements and still fit in our budget.
It had to have a high safety rating, have (fairly) low mileage, have a good mpg rating ('cause she has to drive it 40 miles round trip per day to school), and, of course, it had to fit within the budgeted amount we had to spend.
We found a 2006 KIA Optima.

Her requirement (notice I said requirement - singular) was that it look a certain way, meaning that it needed to be of a certain body style. Her requirement was secondary to our requirements.

I don't say that to be mean. It's not that we don't want to give our children what they'd like to have. But as their parents, that's obviously not always our priority.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to find the exact car she would have preferred. The cars that she likes and of course, the ones all her friends are driving, (isn't that the way it always works?) were much newer models.
She was not happy with our choice of car for her, to say the least.
Ok, if I want to be real (cause we all know how easy it is to be someone we're really not, out here in the blogosphere), I have to be honest. She was downright ugly about it. Not the least bit appreciative of the time, effort, and money we put into this car. I don't know when Mike and I have ever been more disappointed in one of our children.
We took it hard. Because we've raised (that's southern vernacular for "reared") our children better than this. We've tried to raise them to be appreciative, grateful, thankful. To know that we can't always have what we perceive to be the best thing. And for the most part, they have been. I think that's why this little incident hurt so much.
Of course she was put on restriction. And Mike and I hit our knees hard, beseeching God to show us how to root out this weed of ingratitude from her heart.
That's when He showed me. I can't root it out. Sure, we can guide her and encourage her to have the right attitude. And we can punish and restrict when she doesn't. And as her parents, that's our job. But it is God, and Him alone, who is able to change her heart.
I realized that I have been trying to do His job. I have been trying to be the Holy Spirit in her life. So through much prayer and beseeching of His grace on my part, I have asked Him to take back that responsibility.
I can pray for her continuously, and I do, and I can guide her and encourage her, but I can't change her heart. But thankfully, her heart belongs to the One who can.
And you know what? He's working in her life. Just a couple of weeks ago, she came to us, with a broken and contrite spirit. Humbly, she admitted to her selfishness and ingratitude and asked for our forgiveness.
Now, is she perfect? Completely free from a heart prone to selfishness? Of course not. Is she prone to have days when she reacts with ingratitude? Of course she is.
But this one thing I know... we serve a God who is bigger than our selfish hearts. He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. And if we will but ask Him, He will not leave us in our sinful state.


  1. One of the things that I love about the PCA denomination, and had never heard at all before I got here, was the way the children are taught from their very earliest "terrible twos" and beyond when they act out, "This is sin in your heart and it's not pleasing to God. You tell me you can't change it on your own? Of course not! Only God can change your heart - This is why you need a Savior!" and then point them to Jesus, not forgetting to remind them that we need that same Savior too in order to stand before God and live in a way that pleases Him, so that each instance requiring discipline becomes an opportunity to point the child (and to ourselves, because how often does their sin expose our own?) back to Jesus. There is something very different about the fellowship when people have been trained by that understanding. We had a parenting seminar last year with Dr. Lou Priolo ( he has a couple of books based upon Ephesians 6:4, "The Heart of Anger" dealing much with the fool vs the wise man in Proverbs in raising our children (extremely convicting, by the way) and "Teach them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training". Really helpful. Pastor Rowe teaches nouthetic (biblical) counseling classes, which includes applying the doctrine and scripture to all of life and specific application to areas of human relationships, and he is teaching at Vidalia FBC now as well as at our home church in Statesboro, and another session will start probably in February. There are two courses involved: more info if you're interested:

    1. Yes Barbara, we too have always taught our children that rebellion against our authority, disobedience, disrespect, and acting out are all results of the sin in their hearts, and indeed they can't do anything about it on their own. Thank God they have all come to that realization and are blood bought, born again Christians. We have gone through Christian parenting courses at our church in years past. I was very concerned about Kate because she was beginning to show a pattern of ingratitude, and a sense of entitlement. I have been on my face before God crying out to Him to show me what to do, and He has shown me that I can't change her heart, that's His job. And I can see that she has been under conviction.

  2. Yes, a blessing, I know. Just mentioning that in discussion related to what you said, since so much moralism is taught and exampled out there and you perfectly portrayed by your words how inadequate and hopeless it is, and yet we tend so often to default back to law or to be offended somehow by our need of a Savior being pointed out to us, which is of course a danger sign when we do. Not many people get Gospel application exampled for them or even taught, even in the church, or they think the Gospel is just to get a person saved and get offended by the idea that they still need a Savior or with the idea of people coming alongside with them and rejoicing in the truth. Sad, really. It's such a rich blessing when we get be filled with truth in fellowship in all of life, and to be made a vessel for honorable use in learning to come alongside people with truth, which is where those counseling classes come in - it's an application of Ephesians 4:11-16. Such a great Savior. :)

  3. (I was agreeing with you and just wanted to offer the resources that I knew to be available that might help expand and build on that as we all hopefully continue to grow)

    1. Thank you for your words of wisdom Barbara. I do think the Lord uses you to exhort and encourage others. I wasn't sure if I was unclear, and if it seemed that I implied that Kate was rebellious and out of control, etc. I'm not very good sometimes at putting my thoughts into words. I just wanted to clarify that she has been under the conviction of the Holy Spirit about her attitude recently. But I think I understand what you are saying now, that we will continue to need the Savior to do a work in us that we are incapable of doing for ourselves. I'm sorry; I just misunderstood you.

    2. Things so easily get lost in print, I think. Just a joy to see His hand in all these things. :)

  4. God's grace is enough..... for Kate and for all of us. So happy she came to you guys...

    Cool car....

    much love


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