“Praise God, It Isn’t All Up To Me…”

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22 -23

I was given a wonderful insight yesterday by our Father in heaven.  I was working in my kitchen, hurriedly trying to finish my task.  But for some reason, I stopped to listen to a conversation between my children.

One was complimenting the other on a project they were working on.  And the conversation was so kind and affirming between them.  They were encouraging to each other and respectful.  The first word that came to my mind was “kind.”

And it wasn’t the first time I have witnessed such an interaction. They aren’t perfect.  And sometimes they fight.  But not often.  The large majority of the time they are incredibly loving toward each other.

Now, before you start to roll your eyes, this is not a statement I am making about my wonderful parenting.  In fact, it is just the opposite.

Perhaps you are a fantastic parent and have taught your children well.  That is wonderful.  But I am many times left wondering of myself if I am doing the right things and paying attention to the most important ones.  I figure, in-between emphasizing school, extracurriculars, and every-day life, I am probably sometimes missing out on opportunities to teach them how to just be good people.

That is why I am so grateful that it isn’t all up to me.  In fact, I believe it is mostly up to God.  I do pray with and for them each night that the Holy Spirit would dwell within each of them richly.  I ask the Spirit to control their hearts and minds and to grow them into the people He wants them to be.  And, even if they don’t quite understand these prayers, He does.  And I see His work in their lives.  He is actively developing the fruit of patience, kindness and gentleness within them.  I see joy and love and peace working its way into their daily lives and interactions with others.  And it is amazing to watch.

As I said before, they aren’t perfect.  But the movement of the Spirit within them is tangible.  And I am so thankful.  Maybe I will miss a teaching opportunity every now and then.  But I don’t miss the opportunity to pray for them. To me, that is the most important thing I can do for them.   Because my security for their well-being is not wrapped in me, but in the One that loves them more than I do.  What a huge relief to realize that it isn’t all up to me to be perfect and do the right thing every time.  Thank You my Lord.

Precious Holy Spirit,

How I praise Your Holy name!  How I thank You for the work You are doing in the hearts and minds of my children.  You are a God of love, compassion, and mercy.  Please lead my children to be gracious ambassadors for You in this world.  Please use them as vessels for Your grace.  Lead them to be kind and generous to all they encounter.  And above all, teach them to hear Your voice and to recognize it in all circumstances.  May they grow to be beautiful soldiers in Your army and to be dispensers of grace at every opportunity.

In Christ’s name I pray,

Amen

“Which Is Best?…”

“‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one,  let no one split apart what God has joined together.”  – Mark 10:7-9

Yesterday, my family was driving along in the car and playing a game that has become a tradition for our family – “Which Is Best?”  In the game someone in the car poses a question comparing two things and asks, “which is best?”  Then we all get to answer with our own justifications.  It may sound silly, but it really does pass the time and it helps you get into the minds of your kids.

So here we were, driving down the road debating the benefits of hamburgers vs. hotdogs, summer vs. fall, Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker, etc…  When my adorable 7-year-old son says, “Mommy, which is best?  Me or Daddy?”

You can imagine the surprise in his eyes when I said, without batting an eye, “No contest sweet pea.  Daddy.”  My son was honestly shocked.  How could I not choose him?  Does he give the best hugs, make the cutest jokes, and melt my heart with his toothless grins? – Absolutely.  I can’t imagine life without him.

However, I went on to explain to him “The Rules of the Road,” according to mama.

“Your daddy was the love of my life before you were here, and he will be the love of my life long after you’ve grown up and gone.  He has always been the first in my heart and always will be.  And you will always be second.”

Some of you may disagree with me, citing the whole “mother/child bond” issue.  You are welcomed to your opinion.

But I was so thankful for that unexpected opportunity to make our family values clear to my children.  See, at this age, my children need a lot of me.  And they get a lot.  A lot of time, attention, affection, and care.  And I fear somewhere in there, they may adopt the wrong assumption that our universe revolves around them.   And my fear is great.  As I sit and ponder the lifestyle we lead, I am always trying to assess whether our activities will end up creating respectful and productive adults, or will they result in self-centered, entitlement seeking adults.

I certainly don’t know everything about parenting.  But one thing I try to be very intentional about is teaching our children their place in this world beginning with their place in our home.   And that is pretty simple:

  1. We are parents; you are children
  2. We are in charge; not you
  3. There is an authority structure beginning with your dad and it always will be
  4. You are loved,  and cared for very deeply – but we love and stand beside each other first and foremost

And guess what?  By saying these things to my son, his soul was not crushed.  His precious little self-esteem was not shattered.  He looked in my eyes, saw that I meant it, and went on his merry way with the game we were playing.  End of story.

In fact, it is my hope that we not only create this environment for our kids, but I hope that when they are married with families of their own, that they will expect the same.  I want them to experience a devoted spouse and respectful children.  I want them to have a family life that is stable and centered on godly principles.  And the only way I know to do that is to model it for them.  And to not allow anything to undermine this marriage relationship – not even a charming 7-year-old.

Peace to you my friends.

Heavenly Father,

You have gifted me with a wonderful husband and two beautiful children and I thank You so much for them.  I can’t imagine life without any of them.  They make my joy complete and fill my days with love and gladness.

Help me, Lord, to keep my priorities straight in this house.  Help me to always respect my husband and to place the needs of our relationship over those with our children.  Help us to provide the stability our kids need, by creating a rock solid foundation for them – first in You, and second in us.

May my children grow to be wonderful ambassadors for Your kingdom – filled with love, respect, and humility in all relationships.

In the name of my Savior I pray,

Amen