“Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadows.” ~ Helen Keller
Do these sweet faces see Jesus when they look at me? This week has had its ups and downs. On Wednesday my little one told me “I wish I had a different mom who didn’t discipline me.” She said it not once, but three times throughout the day. Shortly after, Allison cried, “Mom, all I want is a little grace.”
On Friday I took the girls to the zoo…it was wonderful. We had our fair share of pouting, crying and whining, but overall we really enjoyed our time. When we came to the bridge where you can buy food to feed the fish, the girls really wanted to, but I couldn’t find even a penny in my purse. A kind older man overheard us, and handed each of my girls a quarter. They were ecstatic. After he walked away, my sweet Allison said, “Mom, he must know Jesus.” I couldn’t help but wonder if she thinks that about me? Certainly I tell her that I know and love Jesus, but do I SHOW her that I know Him?
When we got home, the girls were bouncing off the walls. Quite literally. Kate was tired, and Allison wanted to “wrestle.” Allison was screaming in excitement and Kate in exhaustion, and after 3 hours at the zoo, I just couldn’t handle all the noise. I gave in to that sin inside of me, and I started right on yelling too…until my little Allison started to cry and asked me ever so sweetly, “Why can’t you just discipline me kindly? Why do you have to yell like a bear?” I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. She is wise beyond her years, and it’s no wonder to me why Jesus said we must be more like children if we ever hope to enter the kingdom of heaven.
And so I sit wondering…how can I go from the realization that I want my girls to undoubtedly know that I KNOW Jesus…to the mama who’s yelling like a bear? It’s that sin in me. It’s that imperfection that I just can’t escape. I cling on to the truth I know so well: that while I can’t escape it, Jesus can! All I have to do is set my eyes on Him, the author and PERFECTER of my faith. So when I feel like giving in to that sin, and letting all that is evil come spewing out of my mouth…I must stop, stand still, and ask God to take control of that moment. For His word says all we have to do is “resist the devil, and he will flee.” He will flee!!!
Now certainly our children try, press, and challenge us more than most anyone else, but this is the stretching of our faith, a beckon for us to draw closer to our Maker. I have never, ever been this close to God, and it is undoubtedly because I just can’t do this mama thing without Him. It is a stretching of my inmost being, and it is only by His grace that I can claim any success at all. So we must see these challenges and trials of motherhood as nothing more than a blessing…a developing of our wisdom and perseverance, so that we may be more complete…in Him. The closer we draw to Him in dependence, the more whole we become.
So what is the application in all of this? How will our kids KNOW that we know Jesus?
- First and foremost, we must devote our time to God…in prayer, in praise and worship, in time deeply studying His word, and by inviting Him in to every moment of our days. My best days begin when I go to bed early, wake up early, and spend time reading my Bible and praying before the kids get up.
- Second, we must intentionally devote time and love to our kids. Hug them, take time to listen to them, play with them, and SMILE. Do you show them you love being a mom?? I love, love this list from Kristen Welch. Some ideas I’m currently working on are: doing individual dates with our kids, having regular scheduled family nights, and creating an overall more loving atmosphere in our home. I want my kids to want to be here. I want them to feel safe and loved here more than anywhere else in this world.
- We must discipline out of love, not anger. God disciplines us, and so we must also discipline our kids. If we don’t discipline our kids now, they are going to have a long road ahead of them as adults. For the best information I’ve read on the most effective and loving discipline, I recommend the book “Have a New Kid by Friday” by Kevin Leman.
- Don’t yell. Get on eye level with your kids. Speak softly, stay calm, think it over, and ask Jesus to fill you. I LOVE this challenge from the mama who calls herself The Orange Rhino.
- Say yes as often as you can, but when you need to say no, stick your ground. Follow through with whatever answer you give, and be on the same team with their Dad!
- Apologize when you mess up, and ask for their forgiveness.
- Pray with them, and for them.
- Study the Bible with them; be their number one teacher!
- Listen to worship music in the car, and during quiet times throughout the day.
- Be part of a church family, and let them see you investing time in your church.
- Look different then the world. Don’t gossip. Don’t try to “fit in.” In every situation, ask yourself, “Does this matter for eternity?”
- Foster (Godly) self-confidence in your kids. Help them find their own voice; don’t speak for them. Let them help you. Give them chores! Encourage them when they do well. Don’t shame them when they mess up. Let them experience natural consequences.
- Lastly, we need to serve others, and we need to serve with our kids. Again, I love this list from Kristen Welch. We need to show our kids what it means to love others…our husbands, families, friends, neighbors, strangers, community, and the world. We must learn to put other’s needs before our own…a hard thing to do in this society that focuses only on our own selfish needs and desires, but crucial if we hope to teach our kids to know Jesus.
This list is certainly not exhaustive, but I think it’s a good start. And let me say that I am nowhere close to succeeding at the majority of these items. These are the things God has convicted me to focus on, because I myself, am indeed failing at most of them.
Praise God for the blessing of a new day in which His mercies are made new. Let’s work together to draw closer to Him today, and show our kids that we truly know Jesus.
Hugs ~ Sara
Have more ideas or suggestions? Prayer requests? Share them!