The other day after struggling with three days of being tag-teamed by the bad attitudes of several children, I was feeling very low. At the moment I had a child pouting in a bedroom, mad at me because I insisted on a respectful answer in a respectful tone of voice. When I had not gotten what I requested, I’d had to revoke privileges that I’d very much wanted the child to HAVE. Now I sat wishing that unpleasant words hadn’t happened, and thinking maybe next time I’d just let nastiness slide. If I just ignored the rudeness directed my way, maybe things would be more peaceful around here.

Troubled in spirit, I sat down to rock my 3 year old. She feels to me like a little oasis of sweet little-kid-ness, especially when others are wearing me ragged. I saw a story book across the room, and told her to bring it to me. It happened to be this lovely Bible story book. At random, I turned to the story about Abraham being asked by God to offer his son as a sacrifice. At first I thought, ah, don’t talk to me about sacrifice, God. I can’t bear to think about sacrifice when I am so worn from doing that very thing all day long just to get through school. Biting my tongue. Cajoling good behavior. Firmly upholding standards. Every speck of it takes sacrifice.

But then I read the words at the end of the story, and another lesson drilled straight into my heart.

Here is the end of the story:

“Many years later another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on his back. Like Isaac, he would trust his Father and do what his Father asked. He wouldn’t struggle or run away. Who was he? God’s Son, his only Son– the Son he loved. The Lamb of God.”

The obvious parallel is that both Isaac and Jesus were sacrificed by their fathers. But the fact that lazer-beamed its way into my tired heart the other day was the added parallel of obedience. Both Isaac and Jesus were obedient to their fathers.

And– I’d never had this thought before– if Jesus had not been obedient to his Heavenly Father, we wouldn’t have a Savior.

The salvation of this sinful world hinged on one person’s obedience.

How could it not be important for me to teach my children obedience as well?


No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Hebrews 12:11-13


  1. I loved this. Thanks for the encouragement. I too, feel ragged at times with all the correction, training, and discipline that goes on around here. Thanks for the reminder to remember the ‘why’ of it.

  2. Thanks for a wonderful thought to start the day with! I’m amazed at how my children can push me right up to the edge some days. It’s good to remember there is purpose in what we are doing.

  3. Thank you for this…I need to print this out and put it on my refrigerator!

  4. Amazing isn’t it that the good Lord finds ways to speak to our hearts when we need it most.
    Not that I could give much advice to someone with 17 more children than I, but let me say, Stick to your guns, Mary.
    When reading your comment about maybe letting the nasty tone of voice and attitude slide to make things easier. In my head I was saying NoNONONONNO. I took that “easier route” with our youngest, our son and looking back, I think it was the beginning of a big attitude/rude/poor choices downward spiral. It’s taken our son the last 2 years of high school to get his life back on track and we started with the basics: If not lovingly, you will speak atleast respectfully to your mother, you will answer my question in full sentences, making eye contact and without rolling eyes or glaring. I am glad to report I feel like I have my son back and his life is back on track. It was a hard road to travel and I think I could have saved us the travail if I hadn’t started down the slippery slope of letting the little things slide that quickly snowballed into big trouble.
    God Bless You, your family and the enjoyment and encouragement you and your blogging adds to my day!

  5. I sooo needed to read this…my lil one and i are at such logger heads ; (
    i just wish she would sit still so i could just love her….
    i had 4 under 5 and at times that was stressful….but X X has hit me the hardest : ) must be my age : )
    anyway enough of me, i love your blog, been lurking for a while

  6. This was such a great reminder for us to keep at it, even when we’re tired and don’t feel like it and would rather keep the peace. Thank you for the encouragement!

  7. Thank-you for reminding us why we need to remain strong and consistent, even when we’re weary. Words I would love to hear spoken about me, “a harvest of righteousness.” Beautiful.

  8. I needed to hear this encouragement/chastisement today. It *does* get wearing, but when I think of it as training and sacrifice, it seems different? KWIM?
    I’ve always said that my children are the most sanctifying things in my life. But I think that I’ve fallen into some laziness, selfishness and idolatry with my parenting attitude. Very sad. This post of yours comes just as I’m finishing up reading “Jumping Ship”. Confirming what God was telling my heart.
    Thanks for posting this.
    God is soooo good.

    in Him,

  9. Hi Mary, I read your blog all the time and am always amazed by your life. Thankyou for these words of insight. I only have 4 children (12, 9, 5 & 2) and I feel totally beat down on some/most days. It truly is amazing how God will speak to us in ways that we would never expect and always at the perfect time.

  10. Mary,
    I just read that story to my son yesterday, and the exact same quote hit me. I had never seen that parallel before. My son is only 15-months so it is hard to see how my discipline in disciplining him is so important, but I know that I will harvest what I sow. Keep on keeping on.

    Thanks for the encouraging thoughts!

  11. Your posts just refresh me. I’ve been struggling lately with obedience as well, firmly enforcing consequences even when it means I too am punished. Today, just like you, I was thinking of letting some things slide, but your lesson and your post encourage me to keep fighting that good fight.

  12. Excellent post, Mary. We have been talking and praying about obedience around here lately and this lent itself very well into our discussion!

  13. What a wonderful insight Mary. Thank you! I needed that today.


  14. Thank you Mary. Thank you!

  15. A 3 year-old, a rocking chair, and a great book: what a wonderful way to get some snuggly love and hear from God. You’ll get through this tough season of parenting, Mary. God loves you too much to not talk to you.

  16. Thank you so much! That was exactly what I needed to hear this morning, (and every morning, for that matter!)

  17. What a lovely parallel you draw with this story. Diligent and consistent parenting is exhausting. It would be much easier to let issues of respect and obedience slide sometimes, but oh my, the price is too high. You don’t have to look very far beyond your front door to see the evidence.

  18. Isn’t it great how God uses others to speak to us? That is EXACTLY what I also needed today. (read my blog. bleh!)

    And I LOVE that Bible and I LOVE that story. It is my favorite one out of the whole book.

    Thank you for blessing me today.

    Blessings back at you,

  19. Thank you for this. I really needed to hear this. God bless you!

  20. so true.

  21. Thank God for parents who love their children enough to discipline them…I feel so sad for children who are allowed to run wild.

  22. I stumbled across that storybook bible when I was looking for Easter gifts one year. What a blessing it has been–for the kids as well as their parents. It makes so clear God’s plan for our salvation right from the beginning, and shows how relevant the Old Testatment is to the big picture. I’m glad you drew attention to it.

  23. I linked tot his post in a post of my own.