Train up a child

We’ve all read the verse. Easy-peasy, right? Then I became a mom. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, (or 36 hours of labor…I mean, whichever you want to go with…) every bit of know-how seemed to vanish.

Why is he crying all the time? Why is he giving me attitude, crossing his arms and telling me “no” at 11 months old? He’s supposed to be so innocent! Are they trying to stay up later, or do they really need to pee? Did they just bully the kid on the playground? What are they doing on their phones?!

Okay, so I do need help. James 1 has my name all over it. Wisdom. I need wisdom. Everyone has something they are striving for, greedy for, willing to give up anything for. Me? I need God’s wisdom. Without it, I just make a huge mess. Thankfully, it’s freely available if we just remember to ask.

There’s this idea going around that really drives me crazy. I’ve heard so many pastors and teachers present the book of Proverbs as a “guide”. The idea that it is not a book with promises, but just a general guide for your life and what may, or may not happen. This is such dangerous territory! Who are we to pick and choose what is truth and what is a generality? It’s God’s Word!

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

I grew up as a pastor’s kid. Yep, a PK. I also grew up to be a single mother. A girl that loved to party. A girl that did not love Jesus. I was fine to leave Him back and home with my parents and move on with my life.

Of course, that left my amazing parents behind to clean up the mess. If you think that didn’t have any effect on them, their church, their ministry, their hearts, or their lives, you are so wrong. People threw this verse in their face. Some scoffing, laughing, so pleased to see failure. Others were confused, disoriented, and left to question all they had been taught. How could the pastor’s daughter be pregnant and unmarried? (Well, I won’t explain that part…)

My mom and her deep, deep rooted faith would answer ever so calmly, “The end isn’t written yet.”

She was right. The end had not yet played out.

You see, when your life is so rooted in Jesus and so intertwined with His heart, that’s what your kids are going to know. That’s what they are going to see. That’s what they are going to live.

The whole mothering thing just got a lot harder.

Basically, the burden is on you to intertwine God into EVERY. ASPECT. OF. YOUR. LIFE.

When my car breaks down, do I see it as an annoyance, or an opportunity to share God’s love with someone? When my plans get unexpectedly changed, do I throw a fit, or do I tell my kids how exciting it’s going to be to see what God has planned for us instead? When I have health problems, do I get frustrated and angry, or do I use that as a chance for compassion? How am I handling the things that I deal with on a daily basis.

So many families go to church and make big decisions based on God’s Word, but when it comes to the little things, that’s not so easy. Our kids are watching. They are little sponges that are growing up and learning how to react or respond to every situation. Are we teaching them to react with emotion, or are we teaching them to respond like Christ?

Of course there are so many mess-ups. I fail over and over on a daily basis. But, my kids know that and I am the first one to call myself out on it. I obviously need a Savior and my kids need to know that! That’s a good thing. My heart wants to do what God wants and that is a daily and hourly discussion. It’s not a foreign concept, but completely intertwined in our lifestyle.

My parents lived this kind of life. Their actions where completely in sync with their words.

So, why did I end up pregnant and away from God?

Well, that’s just it. I didn’t end up that way. Yes, I strayed away, but like the one lost sheep, God gently pursued me and brought me back. In my 40’s, I can look at my childhood and see that an act of sexual abuse by an outsider left me dazed and darkened for many years. It took God’s gentle hand and his outstretched arms to help me out from my hiding place. I needed to learn to trust Him. It took me years to see that He is happiness.

I want to encourage you to focus more on your relationship with God and your responses (or reactions) and get that aligned. Disciplining and raising your children are secondary to your heart. That is what your kids are looking at. Ask God for wisdom. I beg you! It’s there for you! I cling to that promise of wisdom to get me through life. God always delivers.

My kids often make up scenarios and ask me what I would do in this situation or that predicament. My answer, “Ask God for wisdom”. Oh, they hate that. I’m not playing along. Blah Blah. But you know what, they remember it. They know that’s my answer for a difficult situation. They will remember that someday. Now that my oldest son is a police officer, I sure am glad that’s how I answered all those times!

When we watch tv, there’s always a crisis point in the movie or show. Guess what I bring up? “If they were doing what God wanted, they wouldn’t be in this pickle! God doesn’t give us rules, He shows us what makes us happy and helps us avoid these problems!” Meanwhile, the kids, “there goes mom again” — laughing and joking. But you know what? It’s respectful and loving because they know I mean it and they know it’s true! They begin to see it themselves as we watch. They begin to see how it’s going to play out when someone makes a decision to go against God’s advice.

That’s what I want! I want them to see God’s love! I want them to see God wants the best for them! I want them to fall so deeply in love with God!!!! That’s my goal as a mom. I don’t care if they become a garbage collector, a port-a-potty cleaner, or a doctor. I only care that they fall madly and deeply in love with our Savior.

So, is it true? If I train up my child in the way that is right, he won’t depart from it? Yes. It’s a promise. If we are actually living our lives in such Light, there is no way that they will stay in the darkness if they end up wandering there. If we are living a contradicting lifestyle of words vs actions, they will run to the darkness and never look back.

Ultimately, their salvation is their decision. It’s just on us to show them how much peace it brings. How much joy. How much love. Why it’s worth it.

Praying for you, momma!

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