We have wonderful children. They are happily married, and we have amazing grandchildren. All know Jesus.
Though each person has to decide for himself to serve Jesus, there are principles that make the choice more likely. One is found in the following verse:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
One of the most challenging aspects of parenting is to keep your children “from being polluted by the world.”
Jim and I did our best to keep our children from being polluted by the world. Most of our rules had to do with protecting Scott and Jill spiritually.
Simple Rules That Protect Children Spiritually
Though La Leche League (an organization for breastfeeding mothers) is non-sectarian (does not promote any religion), its concepts guide mothers to wisdom. LLL had a great influence on my parenting.
I heard about La Leche League when Scott was a baby, but it was not until Jill was two months old did I start going to LLL meetings, Later I became a leader. One of the LLL ten concepts is: “Ideally discipline is loving guidance.”
The speaker of a LLL tape said not to make many rules, only those that keep your child from being hurt socially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I realized that was what I had done. Jill said to me, “Mom, you don’t have any more rules than anyone else, just different ones.”
There were some LLL leaders who didn’t believe in spanking (although the LLL concept doesn’t say that). I tried not spanking Scott. It didn’t work well. Finally, after sitting in front of Scott’s bedroom door to keep him in for a nap, I told Jim he would have to spank Scott. He did and said, “It hurts me more than it does him.” He didn’t spank much, he told the kids once and they obeyed. They didn’t listen to me as well, but in general they were obedient children.
One thing we mentioned at LLL meetings is that if you love, care for and encourage your children, they are more apt to want to please you and learn to obey at an early age.
Jim spanked the kids some. Once when he was taking Jill out of the church, she yelled, “Don’t spank me, Dad”. I was more lenient with them in church.
I only spanked Jill once. She kept getting into the big plant in our living room. I had put the other plants our of reach and made a sandbox outside for her so she wouldn’t need to play in the plant dirt. Spanking seemed to be my best option. I spanked her but told her I loved her and repeated she couldn’t play with my plant. She never got in it again.
When they were older, Scott and Jill seemed to think it wasn’t my place to spank them, and maybe they were right.
The last time Jim spanked Scott was when he was eleven or twelve. When I asked Scott to help he would say, “I’m going to run away.” I prayed about what to do.
One night when Jim was with his friend having an important meeting with the leaders of the Jehovah Witnesses, I asked Scott to help and he disappeared. He had walked into Canning (the nearest town about six miles away) that day. I was afraid he had run away (probably illogical) because I couldn’t find him anywhere. Finally, I called Jim. He and his friend left their important meeting. He looked all over for Scott and was just going to call the police, when he heard footsteps upstairs on the main floor. Scott had been hiding and asleep behind the living room couch! He spanked Scott, breaking the paddle. He told Jill to go to her room and was going to spank Jill because she knew and didn’t tell us (Scott had told her not to). Jim saw Jill’s big tears and felt she had learned her lesson without being spanked. Scott never said he was going to run away again.
Scott said once when he was sixteen that he was going to go against my wishes when he was old enough (eighteen). I prayed – “God, You have two years to change his mind”. Scott had changed his mind before he was eighteen.
When Jill was a teenager. a church youth group was visiting. On their last night, they wanted to stay up and have a party at the beach. We said Jill could, but she had to listen to the youth group leaders. They said no because the youth had to be rested for travel the next day.
Jill had a friend stay over and they were sleeping in our basement. After 12 p.m. her friend’s mother called because she didn’t know where her daughter was. Jim went to find them and noticed the sleeping bags looked strange. They weren’t there! He called the youth group leaders, and after looking for a few hours, they found the young people in the apartment of a youth leader who was away and had one of the youth looking after his apartment.
We grounded Jill for one week. She didn’t think it was fair. I could understand the youth wanting to be with their new friends on the last night, but we had to punish Jill because of disobedience. It wasn’t much of a punishment because she was in school all day.
Otherwise we did not have trouble with our children when they were teenagers. We could have, but God was speaking to them. Jill said she was jogging one morning and thinking about how hard it was to be different. Maybe she should just go party with the rest of the kids. Suddenly she thought of the verse:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (Luke 12:31).
Someone said to me, “If you are too strict with your kids, they will rebel.” I thought, “I’m just trying to do what God wants – He will handle the results”. Both Scott and Jill told us how much they appreciated out standards. They had the excuse that their parents wouldn’t let them when they could have been pressured into something.
In Montreal when Scott was four I took him trick or treating. I did limit the amount of candy he could eat (I am very health conscious, even more so now). I didn’t see anything wrong with Halloween. I went trick or treating, to Halloween parties, and even directed a Halloween play when growing up.
During the following year the Lord convicted me about celebrating Halloween – it is Satan’s holiday. We had moved to Nova Scotia but were in Montreal for a course for Jim’s work. We were staying in a three-story apartment building with almost no furniture. On Halloween night Jim was at work.
I didn’t want to give kids candy so I bought a box of apples – I didn’t give them out because our apartment manager wouldn’t let in trick or treaters. I was afraid Scott would mention Halloween – he didn’t (maybe because no one came to our door). I wanted to do something so Scott and Jill wouldn’t feel left out. We had very few books or toys in the apartment. I prayed lots.
I felt to read the Bible to them. I had no idea what. We sat in a circle on the floor and I opened the Bible. All I saw was “witch of Endor” 1 Samuel 28. I told them about real witches and demons and Halloween as the devil’s holiday. I felt like we were protected by angels in our apartment. That night there was a rape in our apartment complex and a murder down the street.
We never celebrated Halloween. Some years we went to a church party or prayer meeting, or maybe just stayed home. We lived out in the country in Nova Scotia so didn’t get trick or treaters, but our friends (he was a dentist) gave out toothbrushes and tracts). In Hay River we gave out tracts when we were home.
Scott and Jill heard Halloween stories and drew pictures about Halloween in school – I told them just to remember what Halloween really was). They never dressed up for Halloween in school.
Reading Christian Books
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Jim wanted me to read only Bible stories or Christian stories to Scott and Jill. I had loved fairy tales and associated them with the security of having my mother read to me. One of my favorite magazines had stories about a witch. I had a wonderful Christian mother, but she didn’t see anything wrong with this children’s literature as many Christians don’t. My mother mentioned that there wasn’t many Christian books to read children when we were growing us and agreed with what we were doing. I did as Jim asked and began to notice the meaninglessness or even evil of nursery rhymes and fairy tales.
There are many stories designed to teach reading or facts, but my reading only Bible and Christian stories worked well for our family. That way little of bad influence creeped in, although, of course, they heard nonChristian literature from other sources. Also, not all Christian literature is devoid of bad influence.
I remember reading them the Picture Bible over and over and Danny Orlis novels. I read to them every night. When they were older I read while they were doing dishes. Scott said once, “Why don’t you do dishes since you’re just reading to us. I replied, “Because you have to do dishes, and I’m just trying to make it fun.”
Once Scott brought an Archie comic home and told me I couldn’t throw it away because it belonged to someone else. I said, “If you don’t return it to that someone else, I’ll throw it away.”
When they were older they read to themselves at night. They had to be in their rooms at a certain time, but they could read as late as they wanted.
When they were teens, Jill and I would read to each other when one of us were cooking or doing dishes. Among others, we read Frank Peretti novels. We read Christy by Catherine Marshall three times and recently listened to it on audio over my telephone.
We moved from Montreal to Nova Scotia when Scott was four and Jill was two. I felt God wanted us to get rid of our TV.
Scott was so active that the time I could get things done was when he was watching Sesame Street and The Flintstones. When we got rid of our TV Scott calmed down so I had much less trouble getting things done.
Jim’s mother didn’t agree. She said the children wouldn’t learn to read without Sesame Street (she was not a Christian at that time). Jill was reading adult books by the age of 10.
One summer Jim was sent on a course for Control Data to Montreal. A friend let us stay in their home for the several week course. They had four TV sets in their house. Scott wanted to watch Sesame Street “just while” we were there. I said, “I would think/pray about it”. Jim started his course the next day. It was a dreary day, I wasn’t familiar with the neighborhood so didn’t know what to do. I kept praying for God to let me know what to do before 10 a.m. when Sesame Street started. I thought Scott would ask, and I needed an answer.
At 10 a.m. I said, “Let’s play a game.” I didn’t plan to say it, it just came out of my mouth. Scott and Jill looked at me strangely (I’m afraid I didn’t play games with them often) so we played a game. Scott never said another word about the TV. There was a swimming pool and community center just a short walk through a beautiful country-like area and we had plenty to do.
Our children always had lots to do without TV. Scott wrote computer programs, milked his own goats and went visiting with Jim. Jill and I had picnics outside in the summer and around the wood stove in the winter. We played make believe games, for example, she would pretend to be Mary and visit me while I was cooking or doing housework.
When Scott was eleven, he would ask every day for a TV (Jill was only two when we gave up our TV and didn’t care about a TV). At the time, Jim and I were in charge of children’s ministry at church. A young couple named Barry and Nancy came to our church and wanted to help. We decided to have a weekend retreat for the children and Barry would speak.
That weekend, Barry spent the time in his room praying and fasting except when he was speaking. The rest of us took care of meals, recreation, counseling, etc. I remember the Sunday morning service especially – it lasted three hours and the children were glued to their chairs, hardly making a sound. Barry told about how he had fallen away from God as a teen and lived a meaningless life until he returned to Jesus.
After the weekend, Scott said, “I guess I don’t want a TV.”
They did watch TV sometimes. Once a friend was describing how bad a TV movie was. Scott said, “Oh, I saw that.” He had seen it when he stayed overnight with a Christian friend!
They watched TV at Jim’s parents. His parents thought what they allowed the children to watch was okay, but it was not up to our standards. Once I came into the room when Scott was watching a program. It wasn’t bad, but I started praying that God would open Scott’s eyes to see what was wrong. Scott me later, “I didn’t see anything wrong, Mom, until you came in the room.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4
The main reason our children was obedient most of the time was because they accepted the Lord at an early age. When Scott was six, Jim and I were sorting Jim’s tools in the basement (something I had wanted done for a long time), Scott stopped me when I was going downstairs. He wanted to ask Jesus to come into his heart. I told Jim who led Scott to the Lord. When we came upstairs later, Scott and Jill were kneeling beside the couch. Scott had led Jill to the Lord!
Jill would line up her stuffed animals and dolls and preach to them. She asked our unsaved neighbor who was visiting, “Do you know Jesus?” Our neighbor said, “I know about Him.”
When Jill was young, Jim’s parents asked her to come to their home, but she told them she had to stay home and pick up the things I dropped (I can’t see well). Other mothers would find their children’s boots for them at church, but Jill would get my boots for me. I didn’t ask her – it was on her own imitative.
We lived in the country in Nova Scotia away from everything. I decided to start a Bible school for children the age of my children (five and three). Every Tuesday and Thursday morning we would have a few songs, a Bible lesson and a healthy snack. One time just my kids were at Bible school. We were acting out the story of Jesus raising the widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17). Scott was the young man and Jill was Jesus. I can still picture Jill, raising her arm in the air and saying in her three-year-old voice “I say to you, arise!”
Jim and I played Christian music in out home. At one time, we were stricter and would only play certain types of Christian music. Scott helped us change our minds. He and another boy acted out a song by Carmen about Jesus defeating the devil. It was powerful. Today I am a DJ on a volunteer Hay River radio station and play all kinds of Christian music.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
When Scott was eight years old, he told me, “I wouldn’t obey you, except God says I have to.”
A little discouraged, I was telling this to my friend Dorothy. She said enthusiastically, “Jerri, he listens to God!
I milked cows for several years when we rented a hobby farm in Nova Scotia. About the time I had Sandra (she drowned when she was 18 months old – see my book Sandra), Scott wanted a goat. Jim and I said he could, but he would have to milk and take care of it because I was too busy. He did faithfully for two years. In fact, Sandra drank some of the goat’s milk – because of a cleft lip and palate she couldn’t nurse. I expressed some breast milk, but not enough. At the end of two years, we did not have cows and I loved the goats so took over when Scott wanted to quit.
When Scott was twelve, he wanted to be baptized. Jim told him to talk to the pastor. The pastor arranged for him to be baptized. The pastor is a big man – it looked so special to see him and Scott walking together. Scott testified that he wanted to be ready when Jesus returned.
Besides going against the status quo, spiritually, Jim and I (especially me) went against it in our eating habits. I started changing my habits as a teenager when I read that sugar is harmful to the teeth and is involved in diabetes. I gave up extra sugar. In my late twenties I learned about reading labels and stopped buying foods with sugar and preservatives added. When I was pregnant with Jill, I noticed how so much of the foods in the grocery store wasn’t good for you. One LLL concept is “Good nutrition is eating a variety of food in as natural a state as possible”. LLL had a library with several books on nutrition. I started reading nutritional books like Sugar Blues – William Duffy and books by Adelle Davis. It was suggested that if you don’t let your children have sugary foods when they are young, they won’t crave them. That sounded like a good idea to me. But when I tried to live it, what a fight! After so much opposition, I wondered if I were wrong and reread parts of the books. I determined I was right and fought.
One of the first things that happened was that the grocery store had someone giving out candies. I politely refused them for my children. Jim’s mother added lots of salt to everything and she did lots of baking with sugar, although didn’t buy much sugary food from the store. She thought I was harming the children at first but after some research was more in agreement with me. Also, she had dentures since she was 18 and Jim’s father had to cut down on salt for health reasons. She gave Scott and Jill oranges instead of cookies, etc.
Her mother (Jim’ grandmother) thought I wasn’t giving them the sugar they needed and gave them cookies, etc. I let them have cookies at her home (she was in her 90’s, and we weren’t there often) but threw away the cookies she sent home with Scott and Jill.
My family tried to do what I wanted, but sometimes it was difficult. I tried to buy them grapes, etc. that they didn’t have at home (we lived in the country and didn’t get to the store often) so they wouldn’t feel so deprived.
Church was the hardest challenge because most of our social life was at church. People of all ages, from different walks of life and different traditions all coming together is wonderful but sometimes challenging. It had helped that we had always eaten foods good for health at home (even for birthdays I made nutritious cakes), and Scott and Jill knew what we believed. I brought nutritious foods for pot luck suppers (and some of the foods others brought were nutritious) and I offered to bring the snacks for children at church.
At Jim’s brother’s wedding when Jill was about three they had much good food, but Jill wanted the candy on the table. I said no but decided not to argue with her. I went away to talk to someone but watched her out of the corner of my eye. She stood looking at the candy, then she disappeared. I didn’t see where she went, but soon felt a hug around my knees. She had decided to obey. I know she bought candy with her allowance when she was older – at least that was all I knew about she did that I didn’t like.
Both Scott and Jill have had an influence for good nutrition on their families
Jim expected us to be in church for most services and events. I found this difficult at times. Our church had long services and expected everyone to stand during worship. My back would be sore, and sometimes I wondered how I could be thankful. One day Jim’s cousin’s wife who had mononucleosis visited our church. She said, “If God expected me to stand, He would give me the energy.” I realized that I didn’t have to stand.
Sometimes, I wanted to complain the service was too long, but realized how much was accomplished either for myself or for others. Even when we went through hard times as a church, it would bring us closer to each other and closer to God.
Sunday were busy days for us. I would milk our cow, walk with Jill (which we enjoyed) while Jim and Scott went up on the mountain (by Nova Scotia standards) to get people for Sunday School and church. After Sunday School Jim would drive the children home and after church he would drive the others and us home. We had dinner, then napped till church at night. The evening service was the longest and often most exciting time with amazing times around the altar. We would drive people home going up on the mountain. Bobby, one of the young hill-billy young men and the only Christian in his family, would play his harmonica and we would sing. Bobby was from a poor family and lacking in social and intellectual skills, yet he was kind and friendly and could memorize long poems. Once Bobby felt bad because he had gotten mad at his family and didn’t act the way a Christian should. I told him, “Bobby, you apologized the way a Christian should.” We got to know so many interesting individuals by driving them to church.
After church we would have supper. I went down our driveway to get the milk our neighbor left after milking our cow. He would take the milk he wanted in exchange for milking our cow once a day.
One Sunday I was especially tired and wondered why I went to the evening service. When we came in the house Scott said to Jill, “Did you hear what the pastor said about…” Jill said, “Yes, and did you hear him say…” I thought, “That’s why I came to church.” The service had blessed our children.
Another time we were in Montreal and went to a church at night. Scott was excited. “They are playing our songs.” They were playing the songs our church played in the evening.
Scott and Jill liked church and grew up expecting to go to every service. They accepted Jesus at a young age, and their friends went to church. They knew attending church was a priority so never asked to stay home or go to another event or take a sport on Sunday. They got their homework done before Sunday.
On Saturdays Jim would visit members of our church, especially the ones to whom he gave rides. Sometimes he took Scott or a friend along. Some of the people on the mountain were dangerous, even the police didn’t want to go there. Jim got to be friends with many of the people. We gave a ride to a sweet older lady named Kathleen. Her husband Rufus stayed in a shed behind their house with a fridge that didn’t work but served as a cupboard.
They had several children. Sometimes Rufus was Jim’s friend and other times he tried to kill Jim.
One night, when our family was bringing Kathleen home from church after dark, Rufus was hiding in the ditch. He tried to get in our van on the passenger side where I was sitting. Jim reached over and locked the door just in time. Rufus pushed a two-by-four into the back of the van, just missing Scott and Jill. All the way home Jill kept saying, “We have to get him a Bible.”
Jill and Jim got him a Bible. He probably never used it, but it was a treasured possession of Kathleen’s.
Once Scott told me what he thought he should be allowed to spend every other Friday evening with his nonChristian friends since he went to church twice on Sundays, Wednesday evenings and Youth Friday evenings. I thought this was a reasonable request (He would make a good lawyer). He had nice nonChristian friends, I wasn’t always happy with Youth (once the pastor’s wife took charge of youth when the leaders were away and they watched TV and ate junk food (neither of which we allowed). I said okay. The next Friday Scott went with his nonChristian friends. They played the weegee board. Scott left and walked home even though it was quite a distance in the country and never went with them on Friday evenings again. When he was a teen in Hay River he stressed going to Youth on Friday evenings even when other not-so-strong Christian friends wanted to do something else.
God protected Jill in a similar situation. A girl not much younger than Jill, but whom Jill babysat, asked if Jill and her could just go look in the window at the dance (we didn’t allow Scott & Jill to go to dances). I said they could, but afterwards wondered if that was wise. I really prayed – asking God to keep Jill from harm. When Jill came back she said, “Mom, when I got there I couldn’t look in.” We did let Scott & Jill go to the prom.
Jill felt alone in Hay River. She had had close friends in Nova Scotia. Later she became close friends with Tracy in Hay River. Tracy had a poor home life. Scott led Tracy to the Lord and dated her some. He took her to the prom. Now Jill had a close Christian friend.
Jill went with a Christian boy to the prom, although she didn’t date him otherwise. He went drinking with his friends afterward, but Jill wouldn’t go.
When they were in high school, Scott would read his bible in the halls and often ended his English papers with the gospel message (his teacher asked him not to do that). He wasn’t persecuted because he was intelligent, friendly and good at sports.
Once Scott showed me the script of a play he, Jill and other Christians were going to be in. He didn’t think I would approve, and I didn’t. We parents had a meeting with our teens, and they wanted to handle it. The school cancelled the play even though they had already bought some of the props. The director chose another play, and that was almost as bad. We wouldn’t let Scott and Jill be in it – when Scott started to explain, the teacher/director said, “I know Scott, I know.” The other Christian parents let their children participate. As it turned out that play was also cancelled, but Scott and Jill were in the community play “Little Abner.” The other Christian kids weren’t in that play because they had chosen to be in the high school play which was cancelled.
The church youth put on plays and skits, also. Scott played Jesus in one – that play was performed in other towns.
The youth group in Hay River was very close. They stayed close even though the church went through hard times.
I led Precept Bible studies taught by Kay Arthur. In Montreal, where I went to classes several years and trained to be leader, no one was allowed to come to the two-hour group class without doing the five-hour weekly study on their own. In Nova Scotia at one time I led two groups and spent about 20 hours preparing. In Hay River there wasn’t as much interest. I did lead a few courses and studied the course on Revelation twice on my own. Scott wanted me to teach Daniel, much of which is also concerned with end times to the youth. The president of the youth group, a boy Scott’s age, wasn’t that excited. The pastor said youth didn’t want their parents to teach. I said, “Scott asked me to.” Scott was persistent with them, and I finally did. A few came but I think Scott benefited most. He started a Monday evening class on end times for the youth without asking the youth group leaders. He asked us if he could use our house but didn’t say why. Lots of youth came.
In the church where he goes today, Scott has taught on end times. He sent us a book, The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church by Martin Roseinthal. That book meant a lot to Jim & I because it logically explains the endtimes.
When Scott was a Senior, Jim and I started to go to the Reserve church Sunday evenings. We went to the Chapel (Pentecostal church right in town) Sunday morning, but the Reserve church was the place where we belonged and tithed. Scott, Jim & I started a youth group. It was going well when Scott was there as a role model, but he left to go to college. Then it wasn’t so effective and soon ended. We felt badly that such a needed program ended – hopefully it did some good. Scott & Jill never felt part of the Reserve church although they liked the people and the people really liked them. The Chapel was where they grew up and where their friends went.
We all make mistakes. Jim says, “It’s not because of us that our children turned out well, it’s in spite of us.” What he means is that Jesus deserves all the credit. We need wise Christian counsel including books, etc. and the prayers of others, but the most important thing we can do is to be close to Jesus, obeying Him in everything and seeking His guidance.