Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Guarding the Heart- Part 1


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

~Robert Frost

Beautiful words that stir the heart. And so applicable to each of us. Especially in the realm of parenting.

There seems to be a point when we come to an inevitable fork in the road. And we must take either the well worn path or the one less traveled.

And we hesitate knowing that just as following a compass that is off but only a few degrees, will result in our ending up in an entirely different location at the end of the journey, we are making a weighty choice here.

It is at this fork in the road that I would like to greatly encourage you, as families in the past have encouraged us.

There is a way less traveled that can bring rich blessing to your family. We have seen beautiful fruit into the teen years and beyond into adulthood in families that have traveled such. And although the path is less traveled, this could make all the difference in your homes as well.


Guarding the hearts of our children is truly a road in itself. It is a way of life that affects a myriad of other decisions.

As Tom and I have studied and discussed this idea of protecting, or guarding, the heart we have found that it appears to be God's desire and design for families- and in fact for all Christians. We find Scripture to encourage this idea.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

and another translation says:

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it {flow} the springs of life.”

God calls us to watch over the heart with ALL diligence. Not just some diligence. Not just a little diligence, but all diligence. Everything else flows from this heart- it is like the head of a spring.

As parents we are heart guards. We must do this job of teaching our children to guard their hearts to prepare them for the world they are going to enter.


I think the temptation for parents is to rely on wisdom that seems to work in other areas. Just as doctors encourage us to inoculate the bodies of our children with a little bit of infectious material in the hope or intent to boost their immunity to a specific disease, we as parents think that we too should work towards “inoculating” the heart.

We think that by introducing negative influences, worldly movies and music etcetera we can inoculate our children and thereby boost their immunity to the world. That by exposure to these things our children will be prevented or hardened in a way from worldly temptations.

But what does God's Word say regarding the meditations that will surely influence the heart?

Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.”

Are the books, movies and music that we are placing before our children meeting this criteria? Or are we allowing negative influences to take root in their thinking?

When discussing the sins of the mind God, knowing the seriousness of the infection, requires amputation, not adaptation:

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:30

My husband likens it to acquiring tastes. The things that are initially detestable become palatable over time. Therein lies the danger.


I love the writings of the Bluedorns. In their book, Teaching the Trivium, they address the idea of preparing our children for the “real world.” While they are addressing the validity and Biblical principles behind home education I think the argument dovetails beautifully in with this idea of guarding the heart. Listen to this argument from page 72:

“Objection: Children need to grow up sometime, don't they? You're not operating in the real world. You're trying to shelter your children.

Response: That's exactly our point. The so-called “real world” isn't real according to God's standards. Children need to grow up in God's real world, not in man's fantasy world. God's real world requires parents to shelter their children and protect them from the elements while they are growing.”

In my next post I hope to continue on this topic and include additional objections we might hear as we seek to guard the hearts of our children.

May God richly bless you as you lead little hearts home!


  1. Well stated Sis! I appreciate what Tom says about acquiring tastes. I have often wondered when someone uses that term how they came to the decision to acquire a taste for something. For example when some one says a type of wine or cheese is an acquired taste, I always think, hmmm so was it really gross tasting for a long time, and you just hung in there til it tasted good? :-)

    Now obviously there can be times when you know something is good for you and you know you need to acquire a taste for it. I just always marvel when its something that isn't so good for you. Why put in the time?

    Love ya ~ Keep up the great work!

  2. Having younger children in was easy to protect and guard our home from unworthy items/media. But now are they are older, the temptations to let them see the lastest "children's" movies is stronger. I've been steadfast using the Philippians verse as my guide...

    Thank you for your thoughts on this. And for the response to the "sheltering" idea. Because I think that is the first objection I think about. And then I start to think of the "wasted" time with our kids when they are watching things that are edcuational or bringing them closer to the LOrd...

  3. Good thoughts! I can remember, as we raised our two, now grown, daughters, that folks would watch us and question us frequently. The most frequent comment? "Wait until they're..." and then the commenter would fill in the next age where they thought we'd meet with trouble. 12. 16. 18. 21. By God's grace, they both grew up with none of those expected "wait until" problems. We are praying for God's grace now as we continue on this narrow path with our boys. Are they sheltered? Protected? You betcha!

  4. Great post! These are areas my hubby and I are challenged by. Especially the area of movies. Thank you for posting this and I look forward to your next one.

    Lots of love,

  5. Thanks ladies.

    Exactly Liz- why do we try to cultivate worldly tastes at all? So funny- let us rather taste and see that the Lord is good! : )

    I agree- when the children are younger it seems easier. They don't know what is out there.

    As they grow older we have to renew our minds- and theirs- with God's Word in this area to navigate safely through all of the "opportunities" that seem to begin bombarding us.

    Thanks for your encouragement Cheryl. I have known quite a few families to echo that.

    Hoping younger moms will hear what you have said and receive that encouragement to press on!

    Blessings to each of you!

  6. Rebecca,
    I've been reading your blog for a few weeks, now (through Kendra), but have never commented before. I so enjoy what you write, and the wisdom you offer here through your posts. Thank you! I linked to this post today from my blog-- I hope that's okay! :)


  7. Welcome Stacy! Glad to have you here.

    Linking over is always ok. : )

    I really love your post about book selections. It is fabulous and exactly our experience as well.

    Blessings to you sister!


  8. I just wanted to let you know that this post blessed me very much. I just shared it with my husband too. :)