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Who Put the Cat in the Fridge?

By Rhonda Rhea
(Cook Ministries)

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Watch Me!

By Rhonda Rhea “Watch me, Mom!” That’s kid language. When translated into parent language, it means, “Get ready to dial 911.”

Isn’t it amazing how hard our children sometimes work to impress us? “Watch me, Mom! I can do a flip off the top bunk!” “Watch, Dad! I can ride my bike off the porch with no hands!” There was a period in our lives when my husband and I had the neighborhood ER keep a form ready for us at all times. I simply filled in relevant information (which kid, which body part) upon arrival. I often worried that I would get home from a hospital run and find a social worker at my front doorstep.

“Can you tell me, Mrs. Rhea, how your daughter managed to injure herself on a stationary bike?” “And, tell me, Mrs. Rhea, exactly who stuck the jelly bean up the nose of your three-year-old?”

Eyes-wide-open Parenting

I was at a church fellowship recently when, over the tumult, I heard one of the kids yell, “Watch me!” The head of every parent jerked in that direction, and the entire room gasped as if on cue. The only thing that would have made it funnier would have been a synchronized cell phone grope. Maybe we could have harmonized our 911 dial-ups.

We’re instructed to be watchful in Colossians 4:2: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Watchfulness, thankfulness, and prayer—all packaged together. Who would’ve thought those three things would fit together in such a nice set? Yet there they are! And as we devote ourselves to prayer, we find ourselves being more watchful—becoming more aware of what the Lord is doing. Every time we recognize the good things he’s doing, we find more reason for thanks.

The Message puts Colossians 4:2 this way: “Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.” It’s not one of those “eyes wide open to see how many stitches might be required” watches, but rather staying connected to the Father in prayer and being alert to everything he’s doing, ever ready to offer him thanks for whatever that might be.

First Thessalonians 5:17–18 (MSG) says, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”


We’re given more “watching” instructions in Ephesians 5:1–4 (MSG). “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” It’s like our Father shouting to us, “Watch me!” We’re instructed to watch and to imitate him and to let that lead us to live a life of love.

By the way, there’s no need to work to impress our heavenly Father by flying off bunk beds or cycling off porches. Staying on track means being focused on the direction he lays out before us and understanding that we can travel that road of purpose without worrying that we need to earn his love. We can simply be thankful for his ever-present, boundless love and his astounding grace! Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. … And be thankful.”

On a little side note, we can also be thankful as parents for every day that’s “ER free.”

Parenting 911

Sadly, there really are emergency situations in scores of homes across our country. These are emergencies that have nothing to do with bunk beds or bikes. They stem from parents who are setting poor examples for their children—or no examples at all. The result is children who learn from other children, from TV, from every messed-up source out there. It’s catastrophic for this generation and directionless generations to come.

Parents need to be able to shout a big “watch me!” right back at their children.

When asked how parents can succeed in raising children to love Jesus, author and family advocate Dr. James Dobson suggests a “watch me” kind of parenting:

The best approach is found in the instruction given to the children of Israel by Moses more than four thousand years ago. He wrote, “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” (Deut. 6:7–9).

This commandment provides the key to effective spiritual training at home. It isn’t enough to pray with your children each night, although family devotions are important. We must live the principles of faith throughout the day. References to the Lord and our beliefs should permeate our conversation and our interactions with our kids. Our love for Jesus should be understood to be the first priority in our lives. We must miss no opportunities to teach the components of our theology and the passion that is behind it.*

Let’s make finding those opportunities a high-priority goal. Time in the car, trips to the grocery store, vacation, school shopping—even time in the ER waiting room—can become time well spent when we’re using every opportunity to deposit wisdom and a passionate love for Jesus in our kids.

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. Deuteronomy 6:7–9, MSG


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©2005 by Rhonda Rhea. From Who Put the Cat in the Fridge? Used with permission by Cook Communications Ministries. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved. To order,


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