Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009

The Story of Susanna Wesley- Pastor’s Wife (2)

A Character story about determination.

The Wesley home was not without many struggles. When the twins died at 1 month old, they were left with just two of the five children born to them in five years. Susanna also suffered from regular sickness. In spite of taking care of a growing family, she was sick in bed for weeks and even months at a time.

The Wesleys also struggled from persecution. In Epworth, where they ministered for forty years, the family was often threatened by people in the village who did not like their message. Enemies set fire to the Wesley home several times, threatened to hurt their children, stabbed their cows, crippled the family dog, burned their crops, and even were indirectly responsible for the death of one of their children.

In spite of all this, Samuel and Susanna determined to stay. Susanna continued to invest her life in her children, to train them to love God and be skilled to serve Him.

Samuel, Jr. had not spoken until he was four years old. Yet his success in learning after this encouraged Susanna to use him as a model for training her other children. On each child's 5th birthday, Susanna took that child to a room alone and taught him or her the entire alphabet. Only two of her children needed an additional 1/2 day to finish this lesson! After learning the letters, each child began reading Genesis chapter one from the Bible. They mastered every word until they could read and spell it perfectly. As a result, within three months each child could read and speak English quite well. After this Samuel would begin to teach them foreign languages. Their daughter Mehetabel, for example, could read the Greek New Testament by the time she was eight years old! Susanna later wrote, "It is almost incredible what may be taught a child in a quarter of a year by a vigorous application, if he have but a tolerable capacity and good health."

A year after the twins died, another girl was born, whom they named Susanna, Jr. (the first Susanna, Jr. had died earlier). With her three children, Samuel, Emilia, and Susanna, Mrs. Wesley set up eight rules for her home. Do you think these would be good rules for your home?

1) If a child who did wrong admitted it and repented, he or she would not be spanked.

2) No lying, stealing, disobeying, quarreling, or fighting was allowed to pass unpunished.

3) No child was paddled twice for the same offense. If the child repented, the sin was forgiven and not brought up again.

4) Every time a child performed a good deed, especially when showing initiative (doing it before he or she was asked), the child was praised, and often rewarded.

5) When a child did a good deed wanting to please, but it was not done right, Mrs. Wesley praised the intentions, and taught the child how to do it better.

6) The rights of ownership were strictly honoured. Even a pin, or coin borrowed without the owner's permission had to be returned and the borrower punished.

7) Promises had to be kept, and gifts given could not be taken back.

8) No girl was taught to work or sew until she could first read very well.

To Susanna Wesley, discipline was "strength guided by kindness." She wrote, "When a child turned a year old they were taught to fear the rod and to cry softly, by which means they escaped abundance of correction which they might otherwise have had, and that most odious noise of crying of children was rarely heard in the house, but the family usually lived in as much quietness as if there had not been a child among them." She also wrote concerning the will of a child, "In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring them to an obedient temper. To inform the understanding is a work of time, and must with children proceed by slow degrees, as they are able to bear it; but the subjecting the will is a thing that must be done at once, and the sooner the better, for by neglecting timely correction they will contract a stubbornness and obstinacy which are hardly ever after conquered, and never without using such severity as would be as painful to me as to the child . . . Self-will is the root of all sin and misery . . ."

Would you like to grow up in Susanna Wesley's home? Yet each of her 19 children who survived honoured and loved his mother for her investment in his life. One reason for this was her individual time spent with each child. Each child had a time slot one evening a week during which Mrs. Wesley would talk alone with him or her about something of interest. These special times probably did more to influence the lives of her children than any of the other principles. They knew she loved them and that she wanted to know what they were thinking or what problems they were facing.

So, in spite of the obstacles of poor health, persecution, and a husband gone much of the time, Mrs. Wesley was still able to use these principles to successfully mold the lives of her children in the ways of God.