The months of February and March find our family celebrating three of the kids birthdays. It is a lot of fun and hard at the same time. There is so much joy to be found in giving each child their special day, especially in a big family. To be singled out is nice. They are each so unique and what makes them feel loved is different for each one. It takes time talking, observing, listening and trying different things to learn this about each child. Each one of us need to know we are loved and this is just one of the gifts I want to give all our kids everyday.
The hard part comes when I see the years slipping by and how independent they have become. I want them to learn how to function well outside of our home and giving them more and more freedom aids this process. However, as their mom the memories of them being little and needing to be close are still fresh. If I kept them little in my mind, I would do them a terrible, selfish disservice. That is not happening in our home. So, we press on and encourage them to grow in every way. Daily I feel like we add a piece to their foundation that will remain through life’s storms and joys. We do this by talking about the Lord, reading God’s word, repenting, praising and praying. Our church does a wonderful job supporting our foundation building, but as parents we consider this our daily job, entrusted responsibility and great privilege. If I could spend my extra time doing anything, it would be to tell others how important this job of being a parent is and encourage them not to miss it.
What if I would have not taken this entrusted role seriously with our son that just turned 15? He is such a great kid, but had so many struggles early on that I was not prepared for. When he was little, I had the mindset that getting the strongest educational foundation was as important as a God honoring foundation. If they do not do well in school, they do not get into a good college and therefore will not get a good job. So where are the plans the Lord has for them in this if I have it all mapped out? He might very well have this in mind, but I do not want to base their entire years in our home with academics as our main focus. Yes, this is probably not a popular parenting model, but I will let the Lord lead you on how He wants you to parent. This is how He has convicted me to raise our children. Academics is important and yes, you need to do well in school for college and later on, but what is your motivation? I am teaching our kids this, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17). And this, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23). You do your best in school as if you are working to serve and honor the Lord. A heart that knows they are loved by their God wants to serve Him, even with their academics. They will then do their best.
Back to our son. After too many tests to count, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. On one hand we were so thankful to know what the issue was, but on the other hand we did not know what to do. We listened to experts and that was an expensive disaster. It took therapy to make it through those years. Finally, with the sound wisdom of my husband, we made a school change and truly got the help he needed. His future was greatly impacted because of this help. He now sees how he learns as a unique gift and is thankful that he thinks differently. He is learning to be who God created him to be. He struggles at times with the normal middle school stuff, but I pray he chooses the way of wisdom and not folly. It is such a crossroads, but I am so thankful to be here to walk him towards truth. I will pray this for him this year, “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them, for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” (Hosea 14:9).
The next child we celebrated after is a precious, very free spirited daughter, who is now 11. She sees things as very cut and dry and expects others to do the same. This can be a bit difficult at times. She has had her struggles, but learned a very important lesson of grace in the midst. One that I pray took a deep root in her tender heart. She tends to be a bit shy when it comes to her relationship with Jesus. I am praying this year that she be given the gift of boldness. This usually comes when your heart has been captured. I am praying that for her. When you love someone, the natural response is to let everyone know. You want them to know love too. Her cheerfulness is a reflection of her heart and her light within shines bright. My verse for her will be, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
And our last celebration was for our daughter who turned 13. This is still unbelievable to me. This past year I have seen so much growth in her. Middle school is not the best season of ones life, but for her I am seeing good things. She has found a love for running and continues to excel in academics. This discipline has been really fun to watch. It helps to direct her strong will. This is not unique to her, all our kids have this gift. She has such a heart for kids with special needs and for little kids too. She loves them well. She has her hard areas and we often clash, but because of our love for one another, I see this as a way for the Lord to use this to make us more like Him. The verse I will pray for her this year is, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1).
So I pray our children know they are loved, prayed for and we celebrate them. We are so thankful to be given each of them as a gift from our loving God. When the days are long, I pray the Lord reminds us of this gift perspective. He could have given these kids to anyone, but He wisely picked us to train them in the way they should go. It is extremely important and I am running right beside you, cheering you on. Let’s go parent well this week. And when we fall like we all do, may the arms of grace pick us up and set us back on the track. Our children are counting on us.