Charlotte brought home her school pictures yesterday. I was determined not to buy them. Why? Because the odds of ever getting them out of the package and into a frame at our house are slim to none. Besides, after pictures from school, pictures from dance, pictures from karate, pictures from everywhere, no one has enough room for all of them! You can only have so many pictures on mouse pads, coasters and magnets before enough is enough!
But then she went and brought home this adorable picture with her precious real Charlotte smile and it melted my heart. I feel like the first few school pictures you buy out of obligation and for the giggles, because their smiles are SO bad that they are adorable. But then, your daughter turns seven, finishes first grade and can smile a cute smile on command! I told her she needed to stop growing up because her smile was too cute. She said “but mom, you always WANT me to give a real smile!”
Stop pointing out my hypocrisy little one.
Right across the top of the order form it says, “Don’t miss this smile…” Well played Lifetouch pictures. Well played. Now here. Take all my money.
Last night after looking at her order form, the words “don’t miss this” stuck around in my tired mommy brain. It made me think back to recent quiet times I’ve had in the Old Testament and 2 Peter. I know that I don’t want to miss a beat of Charlotte’s life. I don’t want to miss her silly little outgoing personality. I don’t want to miss when that silly personality turns sweet with a touch of shy. I don’t want to miss her creativity or the new songs she’s starting to write. I don’t want to miss any of it.
But that’s not where my thinking went. I was thinking, what do I not want her to miss about me? What do I have to offer into the life of my little girl that I want to stick around long after I’m gone.
Goals of Motherhood: What am I leaving for my children?
God has been reminding me of this through Peter.
In 2 Peter 1, Peter knows he’s going to die. Jesus himself tells him of this in John 21. We too know one day we will leave this earth. The question is, what will we do while we are here?
Peter says, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder…And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” 2 Peter 1: 12-13, 15
I know why this message was so important that Peter had to pass it on. Because he had walked with Jesus. He understood who Jesus was even though there was a time in his life when he denied Jesus. He tells us in 2 Peter that this Bible isn’t some made up story or a “devised myth”. He says instead he was an eyewitness to His majesty. To hear God say, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (vs 17) must have been a humbling moment. A life changing moment. Tradition tells us Peter died for his faith, upside down on a cross because he felt unworthy to die as Jesus.
Whoa Breanna, this is all getting a little deep. First, we are talking about cute school pictures and now death? What does this have to do with how we raise our children?
Because Peter got it. He experienced Jesus. He couldn’t help but tell others. He says that his life is to make every effort to tell others about Jesus so that after he is gone, those he told will continue to recall them to mind (vs 15). Who is more important for me to share with as a mother than my own children?
Point of Motherhood: Where do I point my kids by the way I parent them?
God wants me to point my children to Him. More than anything, I want to raise a generation that sets their hope in God.
Now here’s some more scripture, so don’t check out on me. Did you know I actually read somewhere that Christian bloggers shouldn’t add “too much scripture” to blogs because the reader stops reading? Well, I’m just going to use the “S” word and call that stupid. And if you stop reading because you’re here to read my thoughts instead of the thoughts of God, you’re really going to miss out. Alright, back to the point at hand.
“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;”
We all have goals as mothers. Scripture reminds me of the privilege and great responsibility it is to raise the next generation to set their hope in God.
For our family, this means more than placing scripture in pretty frames around our house. It means more than singing Christian songs and church on Sunday mornings. It even means more than reading the Bible as a family at night. I hope that instead of fun bedtime stories and pretty picture frames, that my children see the gospel as the one place they can set their confidence and their hope.
The one place.
I want to pass on the sayings from of old. I want to tell of the glorious deeds of the Lord. And not just what He did for the people of the Bible, but also what I’ve seen him do in my own life. I want to share the story of the gospel in a real way. In an exciting way. Can you imagine sitting around a campfire with your grandfather telling about how his grandfather watched the parting of the Red Sea? Can you imagine hearing your grandmother tell of how her grandmother touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak and was healed? Can you imagine the thrill of knowing our God in such a real, tangible way?
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”
I want more for my children than to just read of the great stories and miracles that God put in someone else’s life.
I want more for my children than to color pictures of Noah’s ark as we talk of God’s promises delivered to someone else.
I want more for my children than the examples of others in scripture who sacrificed everything for the sake of the gospel.
I don’t want to think, “Yep, we’ve read the entire children’s bible five times now so we’ve raised the next generation to know and love God.”
I want my children to experience miracles. I want them to know God delivers on His promises. I want them to be exposed to sacrifice and the joy that comes from it.
And it starts with me.
Motherhood: Do I invite my children along?
A few years ago when we were finally saying out loud that we wanted to adopt, I really struggled with how much to tell the kids in order to “protect” them. I watched a video by Francis Chan who was talking about this next generation and how if we are not careful, we will raise a generation who have not experienced God or even seen a need for God because we are so busy protecting our children and our family from everything. Ouch.
“Not only are you missing out on life, but we are turning away our children by the droves, because our lives are not the adventure that they see in scripture and they are not experiencing the Holy Spirit. They’re experiencing a Christian version of the American Dream.”-Francis Chan
These verses and this quote have had a big impact on how we’ve invited our children into our lives including our dreams, our hurts and our fears. Because if I really believe that God is BIG enough, that God is GOOD enough, that God will come through for me, why wouldn’t I invite my children with me into the process? I want them to set their hope in God because they have seen Him come through for their parents. I want them to know God because they have experienced the works of God.
We practiced this during our adoption by sharing a little of each situation we presented to and we shared age appropriately our hurts at the no’s along the way.
I want my children to see God says “no.” I want them to see God says “not now.”
But you know what, after months and months of praying for their future sibling, they are still quick to say thank you for baby Judah during our prayers two years later. They saw God answer that prayer. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t easy. But in God’s timing, it was perfect.
And now we pray for Judah’s birth mother because there’s more to the story than just baby Judah. We talk about how we are to love others as we love ourselves. We give love because God is love.
We take our kids along when we respond to CarePortal requests that connect us to families DHS says need some help. Our kids join us in taking a meal to the family living in a hotel while their home is being sprayed for bed bugs.
“Mommy, why are they living in a hotel? Mommy, why do they smell different than us?”
Because I want my children to know that not everyone has the privilege of a warm, clean house. I want my children to experience mental illness and poverty. I want them to see that God made us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I want them to experience a tiny sacrifice of their time and even their belongings to care for others.
I want my children to see the Bible in my hands at more times than just when reading it to them. And I still have a long way to go. If you asked Charlotte today what mom always has in her hands, she’d likely say my phone. I am working to put the phone down and pick the Bible up. To talk of Jesus at home, in the car, along the way, to and from. Not just stories from the Bible. But our stories as well.
Stories about the time God came through with money to fix our car down to the dollar when we were tithing and had no extra to give. Stories about God’s healing in those we’ve prayed for as a family. Stories about God’s faithfulness and His purpose when healing didn’t come. They see us cry when we pray because God can handle our tears. They see us celebrate Jesus in worship because sometimes we are just too excited to stand still!
THAT is what I want for my children. I want them to experience a faith of their own. I get to help lead them there. I get the privilege of sitting aside the busy for the sake of best. And I’m so thankful that even though I mess up daily, that God can use my measly seeds to grow faith in the hearts of my children.
I’m learning we won’t accidentally lead our kids into experiencing God. To be intentional about putting first the things that will last, I have been asking myself these questions…
- Am I experiencing Jesus? And if not, why? If so, who is catching the overflow?
- Who am I inviting into our lives to experience Jesus with us?
- If someone were to read about my life like they do Peter’s life, what would they say was the most important thing to me? What one thing did I want to pass on to my children more than any other?
I want to live a life that puts us in uncomfortable situations. I want to live a life that just looks different because of Jesus. I want my kids to hope for things yet unseen. I want to raise a generation who puts their confidence in God and doesn’t forget God’s works, because they’ve seen it in their own lives. They’ve experienced it. So that at a time in their life when they wake up and life is hard and I’m not there (or even if I am), that they turn to Jesus and think, where else would I go?