I have been sick for the last 10 days, so lacking the energy to do anything really productive, I have been reading. So while my kids were destroying the living room, or watching a family movie while we all were recovering I was sitting nearby reading. I read two books, A Mother’s Heart and a Sane Women’s Guide to Raising a Large Family. Both of these books got me thinking quite a bit about my journey as a mom, and how far God has brought me.
While growing up, I dreamed of climbing the corporate ladder and taking over the world (and no that is not a exaggeration)! I really believed that I was destined for something great, or at least I would prove myself and find worth through work. (All of which is a lie, but I did not know what love was, so it made sense at the time.) Then in college I had an incredible semester with a mentor who had a love for her family that I had never seen. She helped God break into my heart and allowed room for a change in my goals. I felt strongly convicted that I needed to not only be open, but have a heart turned toward having kids and raising a family. Of course, with the stipulation that I could still work if I wanted to ;). When Josh was approaching the end of his Master’s Degree we started talking about starting a family… We hesitated, but then I was reminded of the call God had already put in my life; we were pregnant immediately! (A friend once joked that I only needed to stand downwind from Josh to get pregnant.) And so our journey into parenthood began. Thankfully kids come as little babies, they are easy to tote anywhere, and other then a lack of sleep and a job change, life went on pretty much as normal. I pursued my interests and was excited that our little bundle seemed to fit pretty seamlessly into our routine, and interests.
Here is where things really started to change…
We moved to Arizona, and had Gavin 6 months later, then got pregnant with Ashton, when Gavin was 9 months old. During this time we had some major changes and hardships in our personal lives, plus we started Revolution Church! I did not take the time to think about how we were raising our kids, but instead the little energy I did have was focused on getting through the day. After Ashton was born, I kept myself busy, not because I thought that the activities were that important, but because I was terrified to be at home with 3 kids all day everyday. I remember people being amazed that I had returned to the bible study that I was a part of when Ashton was a day and a half old… It was not because I was uber-spiritual, but because I wanted a break and the bible study had childcare!
I am not saying that my attending a bible study was wrong, but it was not the best thing because I was abdicating my role as mom. Yes, I was tired, but more then that I was an aimless mom. I was parenting to get through the day, or the morning or the minute, whatever the case may be. Now my kids are a little older, and sleep better, but I wish I would have had someone pull me aside and say, what are you doing as a mom, what are your kids becoming? I may have looked at them bleary eyed and then burst into tears, but maybe I would have realized that I was allowing my energy level and friends, who were intending good, to distract me from the crucial task at hand.
My thoughts about parenting have really started to change over the last few months…
Josh just finished up a parenting series at church, which always challenges us, but this time, we were in a place in our life where God has really used what Josh preached and we learned to take up our parenting a notch or 15.
I think the important thing to note, first, is that none of my journey is ever possible without Josh. As he has grown and changed as a man, husband and father, it has allowed me to change in unison and have the environment to allow God to work in my life.
Last week I was struck, emotionally blown over, by the fact that not only is it my (read Josh and my) responsibility to raise kids who are productive and well mannered, but a huge portion of my kids salvation rests in how I parent my kids. They see, or don’t see, God fleshed out in my life. They see a picture of the gospel in my marriage, how Josh and I relate. And I am pulled to my knees, praying that I have not missed an opportunity to be Christ to my kids. This week I have made a much more contentious effort to pray for my kids salvation, that they would grow up not just knowing about God, but that their lives would be transformed and turned upside-down by the God of the universe. I pray for a multi-generational heritage of faith for my kids and their kids.
With this, I have also seen a change in my attitude as a mom. No longer am I concerned with doing my thing and squeezing in time with my kids in the cracks, but instead I am taking a proactive, sacrificial attitude toward my kids. (Not to the detriment of my own spiritual and emotional health, or the health of my marriage relationship) Realizing that sometimes when they are upset or throwing a fit, they just are crying out for time with mom or dad. We are trying to be intentional and parent with the end in mind! I parent now, not with the goal of behavior modification, but of heart transformation. I am less concerned with my kids parroting the correct answers and acting a certain way, but of allowing discipline to show them that they have a sin problem and are in need of a Savior.
And at the end of the day, I am floored that God has enough trust in me, or at least His power in me, to be a part of changing lives and guiding little hearts to Him. I hope along the way they learn to mind their p’s and q’s, but more then that I hope that my kids are able to leave my house with a faith that cannot be quenched.
I pray that Ava will have her sensitive heart broken for the people in the world who do not know God. That she will use her kind spirit to care for and love people to Christ. I pray that Gavin with his upfront personality, will be able to charismatically, and supernaturally be able to draw people to God, as he is able to draw a crowd so easily, even at 3. I pray that Ashton, with his cute smile and fun personality will go out and share God’s love with boldness and conviction. And now we pray for baby number 4… that his/her unique story of adoption, would fuel his/her heart to see people adopted into God’s family. To find themselves and their identity in a new family, the family of God.