Tag Archives: Faith

What Kind Of Legacy Are You Leaving Your Children?{We interrupt our regularly scheduled Proverbs 31 programming to bring you this completely random post}

I was listening to NPR this morning and a story came on about wills. Something like half of Americans don’t have wills, and it can leave a mess for loved ones when people die without them. 

They mentioned a type of will I’d never heard of before, called an “emotional will.” According to one website I found, an emotional will “is designed as a way for you to share your thoughts, values, lessons in life, passions, hopes and dreams with your children and future generations in the years to come. This is your chance to ensure that you don’t leave this life with things left unsaid.” 

This struck me as odd, and a little bit sad that this is actually a thing. I mean, I understand the concept behind it, but should this type of thing be necessary? 

I want to leave an emotional will for my family. But I don’t want it to be a piece of paper they read while they are mourning my death and working through what life is going to look like without me.

Just like I don’t want my family to have to figure out what to do with my physical assets when I’m gone, I don’t want them to have to figure out what my thoughts, values, passions hopes and dreams were after I die. I don’t want to relegate those lessons to a letter they open in my absence.

This interview made me realize that every day, I am leaving an emotional will for my children. Everything I say, everything I do, is showing my children what I value, and therefore what they should value. 

I can do this accidentally, or I can do this intentionally. When I get to the end of my life, whenever that is, I want my children to be able to say to themselves and to others, “We know what our mother’s emotional will for us is.” I want them to be able to point to my life and say, “this is what our mother loved, this is what she valued, and this is how she wanted us to live our lives.”

Recently I listened to a sermon series by Matt Chandler about discipling children and families. He made the point that we are all making our children into disciples, the question is: of what.

If we are constantly talking about financial security, worried about money, striving for material comforts and being envious of people who have more than we do, our children will see that those things are important to us. And those things will become important to them. 

If we stress the importance of education, worry constantly about the state of our children’s schools and place great emphasis on grades and getting into college, our children will see that we value those things. And they will value those things as well. Certainly these are good things, important things even, but its easy to let these and other worldly concerns to take precedent over what should matter most. 

We can tell our children what we want them to value, but the lasting legacy we will leave on them comes from the way we live our lives. Our children learn by listening, but more than that they learn by observing. If they hear me say that Jesus is the most important thing in my life, but see me cling to worldly things, they will see right through my words and into my heart.

I can write an emotional will out on a piece of paper, telling my children about the life I wish I had lived and the values I wish I had shown them, and hope they listen to my posthumous words of wisdom. Or I can write my emotional will on my life, through the way I live, the way I love, the person I am because of my love for Jesus. That’s the legacy I want to leave for my children, and for everyone who knows me.

W


How To Work With Willing Hands“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” {Proverbs 31:13}

 So now we get to the meat of the passage we like to call the Proverbs 31 woman.

 What stands out to me immediately in these verses is the phrase “works with willing hands,” which, according to one commentary, is translated literally as “with the pleasure of her hands.”

 Wondering why this stands out to me? I’ll tell you why. Because that is not the natural disposition of my heart. I am not, and have never been, one to work willingly. And certainly not with pleasure.

I’ll work when necessary. I do what needs to be done. But I’ve always ascribed to the “work smart, not hard” way of doing things, which I tend to translate as “do only as much as is absolutely necessary, and if you can figure out how to do it more quickly or efficiently, all the better. More me time.”

It’s easy for us to say work=bad, play/rest=good. But we see in Genesis 2 that this is not the case.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” {Genesis 2:15}

This is the first thing God does with man when he creates him. He puts him to work. He creates for him a garden, and gives him responsibility over it. Believe it or not, work existed back when the world was as it should be.

Granted, we did almost immediately mess it up, but in its purest form, in the way God made it, work was meant to be good.

A few months ago, I was starting to get really wound up. Everything frustrated me, and my anxiety was getting the best of me. I found myself freaking out after breakfast every morning because an hour after waking up, there were already dozens of dishes to do.

Then one day as I was cleaning up, I realized the vanity in my frustration. No matter how many dishes I did the previous day, no matter how pristine the kitchen was when I went to sleep, there would always be dishes after breakfast in the morning. Just as there would always be laundry to do, and always bathrooms to clean, and always dog hair to vacuum. I could look at this as either a never-ending frustration or simply part of the work God has given me to do.

The dishes aren’t just a hurdle to jump in order to get started with my day. They’re an integral part of my day, part of my job as a homemaker. And I have complete control over how I go about cleaning them. I can look at them and let my heart rate rise, wishing they would just go away, or I can go to work with willing hands.

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

Everything we do is, above all else, for the Lord, whether it is proclaiming his name among the nations or doing the dishes. If I can remember this, and do everything with this in mind, working willingly will come much more naturally.

Are you a willing worker? Do you have the same struggle I have, or have you found a way to delight in the work God has given you?

W

 

 

 


Proverbs 31 Woman“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” {Proverbs 31:11-12}

Today is the second installment of my study of “The Proverbs 31 Woman” (read last week’s post here if you missed it).

I love the beauty of the picture of the heart of the husband trusting his wife. It’s so much deeper than just “he trusts her.” His heart trusts her. It is a deep, almost ingrained trust, something that is not gained lightly.

I have to admit my heart jumped a little bit when I read these verses. I kind of didn’t want to ask myself whether this was true of my relationship with my husband. I know I am trustworthy, but have I proven to my husband that I am a safe place for his heart, that he can entrust his life, his world, into my hands? Does he run to me when he is in need of security, when his heart is troubled? Have I cultivated that kind of trust in our relationship?

I think this question ties directly to the next verse, which says that she does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. In order for my husband’s heart to trust me, he must know that I intend only good for him, for the rest of our lives. There should be no question in his mind that I will ever intend to harm him. 

Everything I do should communicate to him that my intentions are always for his good. Yes, we will fight, we will go through ups and downs, I will be grumpy and mean and selfish, but my main goal as a wife is to do him good, and never to harm him.

The rest of the verses in Proverbs 31 hash out how to gain this trust from my husband. How will my husband know he can trust me? How will he know I will do good to him? By my actions. In my day-to-day activities, the way I work, the way I run our house, the way I raise our children, I am showing my husband that his heart can trust me. I am saying to him, “I am a safe place. Our home is a safe place.”

Read the full text of Proverbs 31 here.  

 W

 


Proverbs 31 Woman“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” {Proverbs 31:10}

If you’re a churchgoer, you probably know the phrase “Proverbs 31 woman.” In fact, you probably have a fairly distinct reaction to it. You might think, “Ah yes, the Proverbs 31 woman. What a wonderful depiction of what we as wives and mothers should strive toward.” Or you could be thinking, “Oh gosh, not the Proverbs 31 woman. What a terrible and unnecessary weight of responsibility this has placed on the shoulders of so many poor wives and mothers!”

As with many Bible passages, I think Proverbs 31 has done great good and great harm to women in the hands of Christians. It has been held up as an ideal, and anytime we hold something up as an ideal, we risk turning it into an idol. We risk turning an encouragement into a burden. 

However, as with all Bible passages, no matter how it has been mishandled or misinterpreted, it is the word of God, it is meant for our benefit and it is true.  

I read through it this morning and was struck by how exhaustive the description of the so-called Proverbs 31 woman is. Each verse strikes a new chord, hits on another aspect of what the writer considers to be an excellent wife. I know passages like this can be abused, but when I read it I am, above all else, convicted.

It begins with this: 

“An excellent wife who can find?” So right off the bat we know that a woman with the following qualities is rare. While this is something we should strive for, it’s not something that is easy to attain. Let’s face it, it’s not easy being a good wife. I would never even begin to describe myself as an excellent wife. I don’t know anyone who would.  

“She is far more precious than jewels.” Not as precious as jewels, not just a little bit more precious than jewels. Far more precious than jewels. It is not just the rarity of jewels that makes them precious; it is also their inherent qualities, their beauty. She possesses the attributes that every husband seeks, makes him richer than any jewels would.

So what do we do with this? Do we scoff and say “Well that’s unfair. This standard is preposterous, how can anyone expect to live up to this?” Or do we write each of the following qualities on our to-do list, slowly and methodically checking them off as we spend all of our time and energy attempting to live up to this lofty ideal?

I don’t think either of these options is wise. I do, however, think it is wise to consider the verses that follow this first verse, to dig into what they mean and to see how they apply to our lives.

So that’s what I’m going to do, over the next several weeks, on the blog. I’m going to go through this passage bit by bit and see what I find. Hopefully you’ll resonate with some of my findings and even dig up some wisdom for your own life. I’m excited to see where this leads us. 

W

 

 


When There Are No Other WordsWell, I’m not really even sure where to begin. It’s been a rough week, hasn’t it. It’s times like these when blogging gets complicated for me. I can’t just go on writing about my life as if three terrible tragedies didn’t just occur in Orlando. But I don’t feel like I have adequate words to discuss what has happened. I don’t even know how to process what has happened in my own heart, how to respond individually, how to respond as a Christian.

None of these tragedies has touched my life personally. I have no direct connection to any of them. And yet, like everyone in this country, they have touched my life, burdened my heart. Either of those shootings could have happened anywhere, and still could. The loss of lives, of friends, of family members, of community members, is unthinkable. And that little boy, that sweet little boy who is the exact same age as my little boy, as a parent I have no words. I wake up thinking about it. I go to sleep thinking about it. I look at my son and imagine what that would be like, what his parents must be going through, how utterly devastated they must be. What kind of words help in situations like these?

We have so many words these days, all of us. It begins with the first words about the tragedy. It’s the authorities, with their carefully chosen words, releasing only what they can, what they want to. And the news channels, grabbing on to these words, furiously trying to come up with their own words to fill the hours and days following the events. Speculative words, questioning words, unsure words, encouraging words, repetitive words, alarmist words, accusatory words, politicized words. And then the politicians, with their self-serving words. Their carefully chosen words that will appeal to their constituents, that will make them look better than their opponents, that make them look sympathetic enough and tough enough and presidential enough and democrat enough and republican enough. The activists, the experts, the people who think they are experts, they all have so many words.

And then the Facebook statuses, the Twitter feeds. Everyone has a voice, everyone has a platform. Do I say something, and if so what? Do I politicize it? Do I use it to push my agenda? Do I use my words to show the world (i.e. my 500 Facebook friends and 75 Twitter followers) how loving I am, how Christian I am in my response? If I remain silent, what will people think of me? If I am capable of saying words in response to what has happened, and I don’t, does that make me indifferent?

But when I think of the victims, the people who have been directly affected by these tragedies, all I can come back to is that for them, there are no words. I imagine what I would say if I were sitting in front of someone who was in that night club, or the parents of Christina Grimmie or that little boy, and I cannot for the life of me think of what I would say that would make any of it better.

The only words I know to use, the only words I know will help, are those of prayer. My words are so useless when they are spouted out to others, when they are thrown around as advice or condolences or stances. But when they are given to God, when in desperation I have nothing else to do, nothing else to say but “Lord, have mercy,” those words gain power. Infinite power.

Recently I’ve given fresh eyes to the phrase “All we can do is pray.” I don’t know where this came from, but I feel like it is so misguided, so dismissive of the power of prayer. All we can do is pray? All we can do is enter the presence of the sovereign God of the universe, praise Him, worship Him, ask Him for his presence and comfort for those who are hurting? It’s as if prayer should be a last resort, rather than the first thing we do in all situations. What if every time I thought of using my words to do something powerful in a worldly sense, I first used them to do something powerful in a heavenly sense? How would our words look different, if they were first and foremost given to God?

There are times for words, and then there are times that there are no words. At least no words that we can say to one another or that we can put out into the world that will help. But at all times, in all situations, our words can be used powerfully and fruitfully in prayer. Even when the only words we can think of to say are “Lord, have mercy.”

“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.” (Psalm 17:6-7)

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)

 W

 

 


2482109_2520517_1432850457A couple months ago, I mentioned to my Bible study girls that I was feeling convicted about finding a way to live within our family’s means. We had been struggling with our budget, and I was trying to find ways to keep up with our spending, when all of a sudden it dawned on me that I was going about things all wrong. I really felt like I needed to learn to live with what we had before I started trying to make more money so we could spend more.

Our fearless leader Lauren recommended I read Jen Hatmaker’s book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” According to her website, “7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.” It was a great book, especially since Jen Hatmaker is absolutely hilarious and completely truthful about her triumphs and struggles during the experiment. But she also weaves in a lot of great observations and research about the excess that most of us live with.

She eats only seven foods for an entire month, gives away seven things a day for a month, spends money at only seven establishments, does seven things to minimize waste, wears only seven pieces of clothing, cuts out all media, and observes the seven sacred pauses for the last month. Some months are easier than others, but all of them are transformative for her family in one way or another.

I know you might think I’m crazy, but I sort of want to do it. I’m at this place where I’m sick of all the stuff around me, but I’m not bold enough to just give it all away or get rid of all my electronics and start living off the land. I don’t think that’s realistic for me, either. But I do see something appealing about intentionally taking time away from certain excesses in my life and giving myself the time and space to evaluate what can stay and what needs to go.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what is going on around me, to live my life as a reaction to what’s happening to me rather than being intentional about the way I live. Every once in a while I stop and think to myself, “how did I get here?” My life is too busy, my house is too cluttered, my budget is shot and I’m a ball of stress.

Especially with spending, it’s easy to quickly pick something up off of the shelf at the grocery or click on something on Amazon before really evaluating whether I need it. The more I’ve tried to budget, the more I’ve realized that being intentional is absolutely necessary. Even stopping to think for one second, “do I really need this?” can make such a huge difference. And I rarely do it.

There are so many things in my life I do without thinking, without evaluating why I do them or whether I even should be doing them. I just do something because I’ve always done it, or because somewhere along the way someone told me I should do it, or because well, everyone else does it, so shouldn’t I? And I don’t want to live my life like that. I don’t think I’m called as a Christian to live my life like that.

The Bible makes it clear that we are called, as followers of Christ, to live intentionally. We are called to do things that don’t just come naturally to us. We are called to love God and love others, to live holy lives and work toward sanctification. All of these require a certain discipline—an ability to look at something and say “this is something that is good for me” or “this is something that is bad for me.” More often than not, it’s the little things that keep me from living the way I want to live, the things that easily go unnoticed or seem inconsequential. The devil is in the details, as they say.

So I’m actually considering an abridged version of Jen Hatmaker’s experiment. It could be a great opportunity to take an intentional look at a lot of the little things that characterize my life. Lauren has done it before and said she would do it again with me, so I’ll be sure to let you know if we end up doing it. I think it could be an eye opening experience.

W


How To Prioritize Like Jesus A while back, I wrote about never-ending to-do lists, and how there will never be a day in this life when everything will be or feel finished. I mentioned that I haven’t quite figured out how to cope with this, except perhaps to allow that tension to fuel my desire for heaven.

Recently I’ve been reading the book Crazy Busy by Pastor Kevin DeYoung. I ran across a paragraph that really hit home and got me thinking about busyness in a whole new way.

DeYoung talks about how Jesus, too, was a very busy man. Maybe he didn’t have kids to take care of and a house to clean, but he did have a few things vying for his time and attention. Like, for instance, every sick and hurting person in need of healing wherever he was, the thousands of followers who awaited his teaching every day and the other large group of people who wanted him dead.

You could say Jesus had a pretty long potential to-do list, and every reason to keep going and going without ever stopping. How could he possibly take a break when there were always more people to heal and more truth to teach? But even Jesus knew he couldn’t just keep going, keep doing, keep meeting other people’s needs, without taking time away.

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’” (Mark 1:35-38)

DeYoung notes how amazing it is not only that Jesus takes time away, but also that when the disciples come looking for him, he says simply, “Let us go somewhere else.” He doesn’t run down to the people who have been looking for him, many of whom are probably in need of healing. He says, “Let’s keep going so I can preach elsewhere, because that’s why I’m here.”

DeYoung puts it this way:

“Jesus understood his mission. He was not driven by the needs of others, though he often stopped to help hurting people. He was not driven by the approval of others, though he cared deeply for the lost and the broken. Ultimately, Jesus was driven by the Spirit. He was driven by his God-given mission. He knew his priorities and did not let the many temptations of a busy life deter him from his task.” (Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung)

Jesus was on mission. He knew why he was here, and while part of his mission was to help people, he didn’t get sidetracked from his mission by the expectations of others. He knew what his purpose was, and he kept that at the top of his to-do list, always. He didn’t do things because other people expected things of him; he did things because he was called to do certain things, and because he was driven by the Holy Spirit.

Now, obviously our mission as Christians is not quite as clear-cut as Jesus’ was. But we can, however, know what our priorities and general mission should be as believers and followers of Christ. And this can and should color everything we do.

This week in Sunday school, we talked about what our mission as disciples of Christ is. And while these verses certainly aren’t exhaustive, I think they are a great summary of how we are called to live.

The first passage is what we call The Great Commission, which Jesus gave to his original disciples before he left them for the last time.

“’Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

And what has Jesus commanded us? This is how he answers the Pharisees:

“And one of the scribes…asked him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, Hear O Isreal: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

We may have specific callings on our lives, but above all else, we are called to bring people to Jesus, to teach each other his ways, to love him and to love one another. These should be our priorities, and everything else should come second. If anything is distracting us from these things, it would behoove us to reevaluate our priorities.

Another thing we see Jesus doing here is resting, and spending time alone with God. Even Jesus needed rest, and even Jesus needed time with God. If we think we can go without either of these, we are sorely mistaken. These are not simply icing on top of the cake once we’ve finished all of the important tasks. These are musts if we are going to live the life that God has called us to live.

W

 


What Does It Mean To Live Freely? I have a lamp that has been sitting in my dining room for almost a year without a shade on it. It’s a beautiful lamp, and it once had a beautiful burlap shade. But between dogs and toddlers and moving trucks, the burlap shade sadly didn’t make it back home to Nashville; it will be easier, I figured, to buy a new shade than to try to fix the old one.

And here I am, almost a year later, with a shade-less lamp sitting in my dining room. I’m largely immune to it now, but every so often a guest (usually my sister or mom) will mention it, or I’ll look at it with fresh eyes and think “Oh shoot, I need to get that shade.”

The lamp is becoming less of a décor piece and more of a physical symbol of my inability to get things done. “Remember me?” says Lamp. “You were supposed to clothe me months ago, and yet here I am, naked and alone, helpless against the judgmental stares of every person who enters your home.” I know the feeling, Lamp.

To-do lists are great. I would be a mess without them, and it’s satisfying to check things off (actually, I find it much more satisfying to go all in and mark through them. Die, to-do, die!). But they can be a burden too, especially if they contain unrealistic goals, or things we just know we won’t be doing for a long time.

For some reason I woke up this morning thinking of the Bible verse from Galatians in which Paul talks about freedom. He says,

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

He’s been talking about the law, and how before Christ, we were all slaves to it. But now that we have the truth of the gospel, we are freed from the law, and freed from the things of this world. But for some reason, we keep returning to those captors. We put these rules on ourselves, and give ourselves spiritual to-do lists, which are often unrealistic.

So Paul is saying to his original readers, and to us, no! You’re free, don’t you remember? And this isn’t just a side-benefit of the gospel; it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. It’s the reason for the gospel! Christ has set us free so that we can live freely.

As Christians, we shouldn’t have that nagging feeling of “Oh shoot, there’s something I need to be doing that I’m not doing.” We are not justified by anything we do, nor are we condemned by anything we don’t do. We are righteous and considered holy because of what was done on our behalf by Christ, and we can rest in that.

Jesus says,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

If we can just put down our spiritual to-do lists and live in Christ, keeping in step with the Spirit, loving one another, we can live in freedom. Freedom from the rules we give ourselves, and freedom from the sinful desires that once had a hold on us.

(for more on what Paul was saying, read Galatians 4-5)

W


You Aren't The OneA while back, I wrote about teaching my children about Jesus, and mentioned that I wanted to reach out to other mothers for advice. The first person I asked was, naturally, the leader of my new moms’ Bible study at church. I invited her to share with me and my readers some of her thoughts on teaching our children about Jesus, and what she returned to me was so much more beautiful than I ever imagined it would be. 

Susan has such a generous and humble spirit, and she is truly an encourager. I love that in this post she releases us from the burdens we may feel about our responsibility in our children’s faith journeys. As she reminds us, we are not THE ONE, God is THE ONE, and we can rest confidently in that truth. 

From Susan:

Our church has a lovely tradition of conducting baby dedications throughout the year during the worship service. It’s always a heartwarming moment – the proud parents standing with our pastor at the front of the church, holding their cherubic babe in their arms, usually with some or many family members standing alongside them. Sometimes the baby is a newborn and sometimes the baby is more of a toddler. Always always, the baby is dressed to the nines, which adds to the complete adorableness of the occasion.

The basis of this meaningful rite of passage is the parents’ wish to dedicate publically their precious baby, a new image bearer, unto the Lord. Pastor Jim will quote Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” He will also mention this is the first commandment that comes with a promise.

Photos are taken, prayers are given and hearty applause is offered as this freshly anointed family unit walks off the platform.

I often wonder if these new parents get into their cars, travel home and say to themselves, “Sighhhh…that was so nice…wasn’t that great…wait, what? Train up a child in the way he should go…and just how do we do that?!”

It is every believing mother and father’s desire to do just that. It’s at the top of their unwritten, lengthy job descriptions. And yet, in this age of modern parenting, we either feel completely ill-equipped from lack of knowledge or are over-burdened from an avalanche of instruction, advice, articles, books and the latest research. Too much noise, not enough wisdom.

As the mother of three school-age daughters with one entering middle school in the fall, I have been that wandering parent in the wilderness of “how.” I know where I want to get, I just don’t know how to get there. And, as a bible study leader of new moms, I am deeply compassionate of their burdens and concerns, and recognize the burning, innate hunger for practical wisdom that is grounded in timeless truth.

Here are some things I am both convinced of, and convicted by:

First, as a godly mother, there is no right way nor wrong way in teaching your children about Jesus.

Second, you don’t have be a theologian, have 100 scripture verses memorized and be able to quote C.S. Lewis before you can teach your children about Jesus.

Third, you don’t have to be perfect, do perfect, or sound perfect.

Fourth, it’s less about your ability and more about the faithfulness of God.

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13)

In the very early stages of pregnancy, my husband and I spent a lot of time becoming educated about pregnancy, delivery and early childcare, and of course, made herculean efforts in preparing for each little baby (well, less and less with each child). We had a vision and we had a plan.

I am a little embarrassed to realize and admit that we had zero plans for how we were going to raise our children for Christ. Plenty of cute dresses, stuffed animals and nursery décor. Zero thought or preparation for practical teaching about Jesus. You could officially say we were winging it.

Despite our ignorance, misplaced priorities and rookie attempts, the Lord was and is at work in the young, tender hearts of our children.

I saw it in their budding recognition that God made the sun, flowers, trees, rainbows, butterflies and themselves 

I saw it in their innocent awareness that God hears their prayers.

I saw it in the small, easily unnoticed ways they would attend to the hurts and needs of other friends.

I see it now, in the way God is using them already, to be a light in this world and be His hands and feet. Small, but mighty.

It’s in our nature to feel overwhelmed, confused and completely inadequate for the task set before us – we’re in charge of growing God’s Kingdom Builders, after all 

We’re not the first…

“Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” (Exodus 4:10-12)

And,

We’re not the One…

“Now may the God of peace…equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:21, abbreviated)

If we can take off the spiritual Superhero Parent cape and remember who is actually the true Victor, we can sigh with relief and offer empty, sticky, formerly clenched hands of faith to the One who is faithful to lead us, equip us and meet us in every moment of “training up our child.”

Thank you Susan for your wonderful words of encouragement for me and any parents reading this post!

W

 

 

 

 


Teaching Children About Jesus

Having a child comes with a bundle of worries that never even crossed my mind before I became a mother. Is my baby eating enough, when will he sleep through the night, why hasn’t he gotten his teeth yet, shouldn’t he be crawling? And that’s just in the first night months or so. In the two and a half years I’ve been a mother, none of these concerns have slowed down. In fact, they’ve multiplied.

I don’t know if it’s always been like this, but I get the feeling we are living in a culture that worries way too much, way too far into the future for our children. I find myself wondering how the food I’m feeding my seven month old will affect her health for the rest of her life. And I’m not giving her donuts. We’ve barely strayed outside the bounds of fruits and vegetables.

My son is two and a half and I catch myself deciding what sport he’s going to play in college because he seems to be athletic. I pore over his school reports and wonder whether he is on track with his peers. Should he have known his ABC’s when he was two? Do all the other children already count to 20? Will he even get into college?

It’s insane.

I’m bombarded from all sides—doctors, the Internet, other moms, well-meaning friends, the Today Show—about the things I should be concerned about for my children. Their development, their health, their education, how much money they make when they grow up, how to make them “successful” adults. And so far, I’ve drunk the cool-aid, ticking off these boxes in each new stage of their lives, to make sure I’ve set them on the right track. But is this really what should be my focus?

As a Christian, should these things matter? Yes, and no. Obviously I plan to care for my children in every way possible, to raise them to be healthy, happy, educated individuals. But above all else, I have been called as a mother to care for their hearts. It is my duty as a parent to teach them about Jesus, to teach them how to be like Jesus, and to prepare their hearts to know, love and follow Him.

If I do nothing else as my children’s mother, I want to teach them about Jesus. If they receive nothing in their lives, but receive Jesus into their hearts, I will have done my most important job in raising them. First and foremost, I want my children to be lovers and followers of Jesus, and if they succeed at nothing but serving Him, I will be satisfied.

It’s easy to let all of the outside noise drown out what I believe is important. Because let’s be honest, most of the noise that surrounds us is not telling us to focus on Jesus. In fact, most of the noise tells us to focus on things directly opposed to Jesus’ desires for our lives. Money, success, power, safety, security…we are not called as Christians to desire any of these things, nor are we promised to receive them. So we have to be intentional about keeping the noise out and directing our lives, and our homes, around Jesus.

I don’t know yet what this will look like for my family, except that I know it starts with Jesus being the center of my own life. I can teach my children about Jesus until my face turns blue, but if they don’t see that He is real in my life, those words will be empty. So right now, while my children are young, I’ll tell them about Jesus and sing about Jesus and read about Jesus, but most importantly, I’ll make sure that Jesus is the rock upon which I stand. 

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

W