A Father’s Rebuke

The garage is thoroughly trashed. No cameras allowed in there.

There are three laundry baskets overflowing with clean clothes in the family room. Do not take a picture.

The kitchen table is covered, and I mean COVERED, with papers and cd’s and books and misc things that need attending. Definitely don’t want a picture of that mess.

My bedroom and all of the children’s bedrooms are, ahem shall we say, cluttered and lived in looking. Pictures are forbidden.

I’m sorry, but I have friends who read this blog who only see my house after the children and I have run around, picking up frantically. They might still think I am a passable housekeeper. As much as I strive for ‘keeping it real’ on the blog and living my life ‘in the light’ in general, there are some times when delusion and ignorance and denial are just grand.

So, if the house is in such a deplorable state, why is it I spent an hour cleaning one drawer this morning? One drawer! There is something twisted in that kind of behavior. Tim calls it the Sock Drawer Phenomenon. You have important, significant things to accomplish but, instead, you put your attentions to carefully rearranging the sock drawer. I’m a faithful subscriber to the Procrastinator’s Club so I often suffer from Sock Drawer Disorder.

socks galore

Get that camera away from here!!!! These poor socks don’t even have a drawer much less someone who will organize them.

Still, I am proud of that kitchen drawer. We won’t mention all the things that I took out of the drawer that are still scattered all over the kitchen table, awaiting new homes (maybe some time in the witness relocation program). Nope, my lips are sealed.

what a drawer

Several weekends ago I went to a parenting conference given at our church. Before I left I received hands-on instruction in rebuking, repentance and the intensity of parental disapproval. Since I was the one receiving the rebuking, doing the repenting and feeling the disapproval, it was a very powerful lesson indeed.

I had made some repeated comments over the past week that were hurtful to both Joshua and Tim. I hadn’t realized the effect of my joking until Tim brought it to my attention. It turns out my teasing statements had offended Tim and hurt Joshua. All of this came to a head just as I was heading out the door. Of course.

Tim walked me to the car and thoroughly rebuked and chastened me. He was serious and stern but never overtly angry. He didn’t raise his voice or insult me or call me names. He was patient and calm but solemn about my offenses. It was as if he turned the full of his attention to my unkind behavior. I apologized as best I could and left abruptly, without hardly saying goodbye.

As I drove off, I thought of the children. Is this how they feel, I wondered, when Tim and I correct and rebuke them? I felt overwhelming sympathetic for them as I know they have experienced this same type of correction and training. I was surprised at the intensity of my feelings – grief, embarrassment, anger, and shame. The sweetness amidst it all was knowing that Tim and Joshua loved me. They were hurt, yes, but they loved me and would forgive me. I kept thinking of my interactions with the children as Tim and I parent and reprove them. Do they have a solid assurance that, whatever they do, we love them and accept them?

I’ve been mulling this over and thinking about the applications in my parenting. What did I learn?

1) It’s acceptable if the children need time to go off by themselves and think about the incident. I needed to be by myself and be allowed to feel sorry, sad and repentant about my poor choice of words and the fact that I had hurt Joshua and Tim.

On Friday I had a very negative encounter with Daniel. Tim stepped in to help me with the discipline and discussion. After a few minutes of conversation Tim told him it was all right if wanted to go for a little walk and get himself under control. This was exactly what Daniel needed and he came back cheerful and ready to be restored to his younger sibling.


That’s right, Buddy, I’m talking about you.

2) The children need to KNOW with an absolute thorough and deep understanding that Tim and I love them. I was shaken by how I felt after Tim’s rebuke. It was only because I knew completely and utterly that Tim loves me that I was able to move to repentance rather than be paralyzed. If there had been a doubt about his love and affection and general joy in our relationship, I would have been truly crushed. I was unable to stay in the victim (poor me) mode for more than a few minutes because I know Tim corrects me because he loves me and wants me to be an awesome godly woman and mother.


This little girl is certainly well loved.

3) I need to continually build in teaching opportunities when things aren’t strained by sin or conflict. It is painful to know you have wounded another person and been insensitive or unkind. That you have sinned. That you are not perfect and good. One of my children occasionally becomes overwhelmed by their sin and repeated failures. There is a temptation to wallow in self-pity or to incorrectly think you are the only one who ever sins. I must be careful to teach the children that we all fall short of holiness.

We were discussing sin the other day and David and Sarah told me Mommy and Daddy don’t ever sin. They were shocked when I said I did sin (I didn’t want to speak for Tim but I’m pretty sure he’s also a sinner). Sorry to drop that little bomb on them. Look how easy it is to fall off the pedestal. I think an incorrect understanding of this can lead to despair when the child finds himself struggling with temptations and falling into sin. The Bible is fairly clear on this,

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)


Sorry to break it to you, kid, but Mom isn’t perfect. I know, it’s a big surprise.

In all of this, I think the greatest thing the Lord impressed upon my heart is the importance in maintaining a strong relationship with my children, to keep a sweetness in our fellowship. When Tim corrected me, my heart was soft and the rebuke (stern although not harsh) was very upsetting. I did not want to hurt Tim or Joshua. It deeply saddened me to discover I had been unkind to them.

If I let a hardness grow between the children and me, if there is a constant stream of criticism and complaints, then a rebuke, either gentle or stern, is less likely to move the heart. This coldness can be a stumbling block to their repentance and sanctification.

When I am close to the Lord, feasting on His Word, laying my prayers and petitions and thanks before Him, and fellowshipping with other believers, then my heart is quickened by His gentle rebuke. When I am entrenched in sin, hardened to the Holy Spirit, when my life is built upon habits that are contrary to what the Bible teaches, then I cannot hear His quiet voice. I am not easily swayed from the sinful path I am following.

I am deeply convicted to keep my children’s hearts close and tender toward me. It is incredibly important that I help them stay away from sinful habits that threaten to wrap their spirit in an impenetrable wall.

Do I build them up with affection and praise so they know, without any possible doubt, that even when I must rebuke them and correct them that the core of our relationship is love? Do I give them a little bit of time to reflect on their actions and my heart, which desires good for them? Am I careful to connect with them again to gauge their spirit? To see if they are repentant. To see if they wish to change.


Being a parent is so exhausting. It seems to require constant maintenance, training, encouraging, building, correcting, and just plain work.

I think I’m going to check on that sock drawer.

Project 365 – Days 221 & 222

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10 thoughts on “A Father’s Rebuke”

  1. It is hard to know we’ve hurt or disappointed our own children, isn’t it. And to wake them up to our own fallenness. Thanks for telling it all, Kathy.

  2. Wow, Kathy. That’s a very powerful article…lots to think about.
    That’s really what it’s all about isn’t it..keeping hearts tender. My good friend, who has almost all grown children now and all with soft hearts, told me that relationships require constant tending.

    The garden is such a great illustration for relationships. Thanks for being transparent and sharing your insights, it reminds me to keep focused.

  3. What a wonderful entry, Kathy. Thanks so much for sharing your heart. I know I am in a cycle of less than great behavior (okay sinful) toward the Littles. I’m really struggling right now.

    Your post has given me a lot to think and pray about.

  4. Debbie,

    I’ve gotten into a few bad habits myself this summer… letting things (the kids, the house, etc.) get a bit out of hand, etc.

    I’m quite OCD when it comes to cleaning and organizing. The whole house can be a complete disaster and yet I’ll clean a closet or something totally unnoticeable to anyone but myself (LOL)

  5. I cried almost all the way thru this blog. Not quite sure why. I suspect it’s the ‘certainty of being loved’ that got to me. As you know, sweet Niece, that’s not always been so in my marriage- and so I’m tender in this regard.

    Or maybe I’m just worn out after the Portland kids’ visit. I am definitely a sinner, too- and I hurt the feelings of those I love more than I want to.

    Thanks so much for your open sharing. I love YOU. aunt kate

  6. Jennifer – whenever I spend any time outside gardening (which, I must admit is RARE) I am drawn to the Biblical implications and illustrations. As much as I find it tiring, I like your friend’s words that relationships require constant tending. It brings to mind the sweet things that are brought forth in gardening – beautiful flowers, delicious fruits and veggies, soft green grass.

    Let’s encourage each other, shall we, to continue being faithful in parenting these rascals!!

  7. Debbie – you are right, we need to keep our own hearts tender toward our children as well as striving to keep their hearts soft. Interesting. It helps to recognize it, don’t you think, so at least you can plead with the Lord for help. Baby steps, my friend, baby steps. :)

  8. Checks and balances. You guys are a great couple. When you can trust your spouse to give it to you straight and be able to feel secure in your relationship to accept it, you’ve got a wonderful relationship. What a blessing!

  9. Kathy, this was probably your best entry yet. I cried through the whole thing and found it very convicting to me, not regarding my relationship to children or parents, but in my relationship to the Lord. After surviving the rebuke of another Christian family, I have found myself becoming hardened, just to protect myself somehow. But this has taken a toll on the tenderness of my heart toward the Lord and I find myself even less convicted and contrite regarding my sin.

    I think there are some, like me, who have personalities that don’t respond well to harsh criticism and stern rebuke. Rather than make us suddenly realize our need to change, it hardens us and makes us retreat further into our protective shell. Only a loving, gentle restoration can bring us back out and soften our hearts again, giving us an incentive to want to change.

  10. Ok – I am now totally convinced you and Tim should write a book! You all are amazing . . and the way you communicate is so easy and understandable!

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