I lost count of the number of unfinished books I have sitting on the shelves and in the library tab of my Nook. Oh, I've finished plenty at some point or another. But it's crazy to think of how many I've opened, excited by the smell of the newness of it or the title glowing on the tablet, only to put it down several weeks later and leave untouched for months or even years. There are so many aspects of life where this habit is easy to fall into. Our health. Our fitness. Our finances. Our relationship with God. We think that our in our inertia, something will change despite our lack of effort and unwillingness to act.
I'll quit smoking after I have one more cigarette. I'll start my new exercise regimen right after I eat this donut and watch Grey's Anatomy. I'll talk to my kids about Jesus as soon as I read this article about how to talk to my kids about Jesus.
That last one? Me. Guilty. It's not that I don't share. But I sometimes I hesitate or stumble over my words. It's awkward when I feel as though it should be easy.
You see, and I'm going to be completely honest here, when it comes to sharing the Gospel with my kids, I often struggle. I overcomplicate it. I confuse even myself. There may be some moms out there who have it all figured out and impart the greatest news of all eternity to their children with grace and ease, but me? I'm not one of them. Maybe it's because to me, telling my kids about my Savior is one of the most important things I could ever do, and I don't want to mess it up. And seeing my kids follow Jesus is my life's greatest desire.
Let me just interject here and say I know it is not up to me. That it will be the act of faith my children take and the grace of God that saves them. Not me, certainly not me. But do I believe I play an oh so important role? Absolutely.
One fact I've learned about kids: Kids are simple. They haven't taken philosophy 101 and will not bombard you with questions about why God allows bad things to happen to "good" people. Kids, at least at my boys' ages, believe because you believe. And while I know it will not always be this uncomplicated, at this stage in their lives I need to embrace where they are.
Having discovered that, I found a series of books that Chris and I began reading several months ago with Jaden which he absolutely loves: The Hermie the Caterpillar books by Max Lucado. I discovered Lucado's adult writings a few years ago and have grown leaps and bounds in my walk with Jesus as a result of them, but I recently found that he also has books for children. The Hermie series does an amazing job of explaining prayer, forgiveness, and growing into the unique person God created you to be. When we first started going through these books with Jaden, he wanted to read them every night.
I also found a great children's devotion, which is a little above Gabe's level but is perfect for Jaden: Five Minute Devotions for Children by Pamela Kennedy. It is filled with beautiful watercolor pictures and draws parallels between various animals and the way God cares for each of us.
Another hard lesson I've learned: comparing my kid's spiritual walk to other kids, or whatever I perceive theirs to be will not only drive me nuts, but will not accomplish anything. When I see another mom post on Facebook that her four-year-old just accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior I think, "That's wonderful. Beautiful." I really, honestly do. But I also wonder, "Am I missing something here? Is there something I should be doing that I'm not?"
Then I remember, that with all the moms and dads God could have chosen to parent our two amazing boys, he chose us. He chose us for a reason.
Our kids are as special and unique as the fingerprints their messy hands leave all over the house. They, through their own act of free will, will make the decision to follow Jesus in their own time. I believe it. I trust it to be so.
Lastly, if we earnestly seek God's help in our parenting, He will give it. He will give it abundantly. If we need encouragement and reassurance, He will give it freely. A few weeks ago I was beating myself up about all of the aforementioned things, and my boys left for a couple of days with the grandparents to give Mom and Dad some much needed alone time. When they returned, we were refreshed, missed them terribly, and after showering them with hugs and kisses sat down to dinner with family, which included two of their cousins. One of them suddenly says excitedly, "Can we say the grace?! Can we say the grace?!" And then I realized my little Jaden was saying the dinner prayer with them while he was away. And they were joyous about it. It was just what I needed at that moment in time to say, "Keep going. You've got this." It was huge.
With any aspect of my life, if I want to see growth I have to act. I have to be intentional. And my kids? Well, if I'm not talking about Jesus then chances are they aren't going to be either. I can take them to church, AWANA, Sunday school and the like and all of those activities are time well spent. But the people my kids look to at this oh so important, fleeting stage in life for the answers, the lessons, the grace and the discipline are their parents.
God has carried me this far, and I know He will be just and faithful to guide my steps on the journey ahead. I cannot do it on my own, but with His strength lifting me up, all things are possible. Things beyond my wildest imagination.
"Come to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3