Often I hear my tone echoing throughout the van or the house as the children quiet under my scolding, and I sigh heavily, conviction swirling through my heart and mind. This parenting thing is hard, and my expectations for my children and my home are often unrealistic.
The Lord has changed mine on many levels as He walked with us through trial after trial, and He taught me much over these past years about valuing my children.
Valuing them by presence.
Valuing their presence. Valuing them by being present with them.
Oh, how I long to value my children better.
In Ephesians 6:7-8, the Apostle Paul writes: Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
Can you imagine? If I were a picture to them of God’s love? What would it look like if I rewarded them for whatever good they did? What would it look like if all day I focused on their good choices and attitudes? Yes, the necessary training and discipline would be intermingled, but how many times a day do I fuss at them for poor choices and yet am oblivious to the good ones?
My tendency is to focus on the bad behavior, the negative, the disobedience. It is all too easy to share stories and complaints of struggle, disobedience, bad behavior. What would it look like to do the opposite? To regale others with the wonder and beauty of my children?
God calls me to think of others better than myself. He calls me to honor others in love.
That includes my children. They are better than me. They deserve honor and love. That means in the way I speak to them. That means in the way I speak about them. That means in what I write about them. How I talk and write about my children impacts them. It impacts me. It impacts others.
One of my favorite go-to books when I was first having children was Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracey Hogg. She presses her readers to respect their children and talk to them from their very first day. To treat them as people, not just babies. So often I can get caught up in the whole mentality that they’re kids and because they’re kids, they are less than me. But their disobedience and misbehaviors are no less than mine. I just know how to be more civilized in my sin.
My role as their mother is to protect them, to train them, to love them, to guard their hearts from evil, to preserve their reputation. That’s why I have close friends I go to when I am struggling, when I need wisdom on parenting, when I am tired and drained and confused. That is why, Lord willing, this blog, along with other public venues, will always be a place that respects my children. A place where I share funny stories and pride in their accomplishments and regale others with their wonder and beauty. (Incidentally, if you’re wondering, I always read my posts sharing stories about them to them first to be sure they’re okay with me posting them.) I long for this blog to be a place where I can be real, yes, but authenticity doesn’t mean I dishonor my family.
I long for this to be a place of love.
“Let all that you do be done in love.” I Cor. 16:14
In everything I do, I am called to glorify God. In. every. thing. I. do. That means every word I say to and about my children is to glorify God. That means every word I say to and about my husband is to glorify God. Conviction much? It’s not easy and I’ll never do it perfectly, but it is my heart’s desire.
Yes, I’ll fail. I’m sure many who read this have seen me bark at my children (or husband). That’s where grace, repentance and forgiveness come in. Funny. That’s how it works with my children, too. They will fail. But that’s where grace, repentance and forgiveness come in.
I’m learning. But, oh, I have so much more to learn.
And every day I will strive to value them. To be present with them. To value their presence.
Because all too soon, their physical presence will be gone, and I want to take every day as it comes not wish it away to what I think might be easier days. I love them here. now. always. And I am loving these summer days of being together!
Every night when I tuck them I bed, I take a moment and press my forehead to theirs. Then I look deep in their eyes. “I love you,” I tell them. “No matter what, where you go or what you do, I will always love you.” The smiles I receive in return are priceless. And it’s the same smile every night. They never tire of hearing it. Then I place my hand on their heart, “Always,” I whisper, tapping their noses, “And forever.” It is Ash who returns the gesture. Touching my heart and tapping my nose. “Always and forever.” he whispers back.
They are valued.
They are loved.
I want them to not just hear that, but to know that every day.
(Summer List #25: Watch a thunderstorm from the front porch)