Why You Don’t Have To Be Perfect To Raise Godly Children

IMG_3625

Have you ever blamed yourself for the wrong choices of your children?

Have you ever felt discouraged because you sinned in your parenting (by an angry word or expression or tone of voice) and feared that your kids might forever be scarred or have issues as a result?

Have you ever thought that you had to try harder, be better … in other words be more perfect?

Have you placed an unattainable standard before yourself in your parenting: that your kids won’t turn out “perfectly” or godly if you aren’t perfect in how you raise them?

Have you ever questioned how your kids are going to turn out to live productive and more importantly, godly lives if you are not the flawless example to them?

Have you ever felt and acted as if God’s love and in turn your love to your children is dependent upon the measure to which obedience or dare I say “perfection” is achieved?

Most of us know that God’s love is not dependent upon our obedience.  Yet, we live that way.  We walk in fear or timidity, enacting man-made laws and rituals and tradition to placate our images and ideas of what we believe God expects from us.  The reason?  Not because we always want to obey but sometimes more because we feel and live as if His love is dependent upon us — our behaviors, the measure of our “godliness.”

Why do we think and feel and live this way sometimes?  Has God ever chosen only “perfect” people to accomplish His work, ways, and will?  The Bible gives multiple examples of God choosing people that did sin and sin big time.   Some of these people are in the very line from which Christ’s earthly lineage can be traced: Tamara, Judah, Bathsheba, David, Solomon, Rahab, etc…

The Bible also gives clear guidelines and commands that define what is sin and what it isn’t.  He also clearly judges those who sin.  So what does it all mean?

Do we ignore God’s justice, or do we ignore His love?  Are they mutually agreeable and cohesive with each other?   Can both His love and His justice be singularly achieved?

God calls David a “man after His own heart.”  Yet, David was an adulterer, proud at times, irresponsible in his parenting, a murderer, etc…  As a result, the Bible does speak of judgment.  David’s house was divided in so many ways — brother against brother.  The entire nation of Israel even suffered judgment when David chose to number the armies of Israel.  David’s newborn son, the child born as a result of his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, died.  At one point, David’s son Absalom tried to wrest the kingdom from his father and David had to flee for his life.   So why did God call this man “a man after His own heart”?  Scripture also makes it clear that David had a tender and repentant heart.  He grieved over his sin and truly repented.  David submitted to authority (as in example of King Saul) and never rebelliously questioned God’s punishment.  David also had a heart of worship.  The Book of Psalms speaks time and time again of how in the midst of every circumstance, David had learned to yet praise God.

Each person that God chose to use in the genealogy of Christ’s earthly lineage (lineages of Mary and Joseph) were sinners but sinners who at some point repented and experienced redemption as a result.  The key here is their repentance and the changes in their lives that occurred.

God doesn’t choose perfect people to accomplish His will.  He uses forgiven people — people who have been forgiven because they repented.

The truth is we all sinThat isn’t an excuse to continue in our sins.  What it should be is an admission that we are sinners — you and I.  Knowing we have sinned much and have been forgiven much should result in a spirit of thankfulness and worship of One Who is Holy and Righteous Altogether! 

God doesn’t ask us to be perfect.  He asks us to be repentant and useable as a result of our submission. 

God’s grace is perhaps best shown when it is extended to the sinner — not the “perfect.”  His grace is best shown in the chaos and messiness of life.  God’s grace is all about a Savior who offers redemption to an undeserving but repentant sinner.  God’s grace is all about His perfection being extended to imperfect people. 

As mothers, this means that His grace is best demonstrated when imperfect mothers accept His forgiveness and receive His redemption in order to live lives that are forgiven and transformed through Him!  This means that the greatest work of parenting we do is not our own feeble attempts at living a “good” life but is when we learn to walk in His grace and the freedom that comes as a result.

When we sin, God’s love is not affected.  What is affected is our relationship with Him.  When we sin, we put “distance” between our hearts and God’s.

As mothers/parents, the best thing we can do for our children is to teach them what God’s grace means and to live it out before them: that Grace is God extending His forgiveness to us and offering us redemption when we accept it.  It’s learning to walk in His Grace, meaning we walk obediently, humbly, and joyfully before Him. It’s understanding that it’s not about us; it’s all about Him — His work and ways!  It’s understanding that not only was Grace a past work: the work on the cross (salvation), but it is also a present work: the daily renewing and transforming of our lives through His power!

It means, we have been forgiven much so we can forgive much!

A Letter To D-Son

 

Dear D-Son,

I almost wanted to include all of your funny nicknames your daddy has given to you at one time or another.  How we love our “D…-Buster”!

Well, D1, it is your turn to have a blog written specifically for you.  I didn’t want to wait ’til your birthday so I thought I would take the time right now to write a blog that is just for you.  This blog is part of the legacy I want to leave with you.  I want to make sure that I say the things I should say to you while I have the gift of time.

When it comes time at some future moment to say a good bye on this side of life, I want you and your siblings to know without a shadow of a doubt that you are loved and to know the heritage that you have been given.

D….-Buckles, I still remember the first time I held you.  You were so alert and so calm.  What a cutie too!  Once we posted pictures of you, we had people telling us you were one of the prettiest babies they had ever seen.  You were a cutie, and I am not just saying that because I am your mommy.

You loved to be held.  What a cuddler!  You were also a very happy baby.  I have lots of pictures of you smiling and laughing.  You still have that special twinkle in your eye — that look of mischievousness.  🙂

You have a tender personality.  You play very well with your sister and love to hold her hand and take her places to show her things.  She is only 18 months old but already loves you.

You are also artistic and creative.  You love to draw, build things, and make crafts.  You are also good at math, and you are really taking off with your reading.  You say you want to be an engineer like your daddy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is exactly what you will be some day.

Physically, you have great upper body strength and are good at rock climbing and playing on Monkey Bars.  (Even as a toddler you seemed to climb everything.)

Drew, you are our sunshine!  You still love to be cuddled, and we so love your hugs!

It is so special to see you developing into a nice boy who is thoughtful, creative, and well-behaved.  You have your moments, but so do we all.   We are so thankful to see you growing into a fine, young man!

Drew, you have the same middle name as your daddy.  The meaning is also the same as your mommy’s first name.  As it implies, you are very loved!

Your first name is also special.  It means “Manly, Strong, Handsome”.

God made you for a special purpose.  He has unique plans for your life, Son, and they are good and excellent plans!  He made you to be a leader, to use your strength of character and physical strength for helping and serving God and others. 

Your sense of humor will be helpful in relating to those whom you are called to serve and lead.  Your sensitivity will help you to have the heart that is needed to truly be an effective leader.  Your creativity will help you to be flexible and to inspire a new generation of leaders.  Your physical strength will help you to have the endurance needed to selflessly serve those whom God has called you to serve.

Precious Son, you are such an amazing and special little boy!  You make me smile when I think of you.  Just thinking of you makes me picture your gorgeous blue eyes with their special twinkle and that adorable giggle and delightful smile of yours!  You are a joy and treasure to our hearts!

I can’t wait to see the man you will become.  Your daddy and I pray for you regularly to become a godly, young man and that you would be fully confident in your identity in Christ.  You are God’s son!  He loves you and says that you are marvelous!  He has beautiful plans for your life.

Son, when life looks drab and uninspiring, never forget that you are a testament to a God of life, of love, and creativity!  You were made in His image! 

Precious Son, when you find yourself completely depleted of all energy and creativity (and you will at some point), remember that you are not the source of your true life, energy, and inspiration.  God is.  So long as you hold onto Him and look to Him, He will fill you up. 

God’s Word says that He will do exceeding, abundantly above all that you can ask or think.  This speaks of an overflowing and continuing supply of sustenance and His grace.  Just as a spring continually pours forth its refreshing liquid supply may your life be a continual channel of God’s grace to a thirsty world.  May you be an inspiration to this world through the energy, creativity, sensitivity with which you pursue God and serve others!

Precious Son, just as you meticulously work to create a lovely piece of art, your Heavenly Father is working to create a beautiful piece of art from your life.  He uses the “dark” times as well as the “bright” times to produce a beautiful masterpiece with our lives.  As you allow God to work in your life, your life will be a source of inspiration, encouragement, and testimony to the hand of the One who guided you, creating the Masterpiece of you!  You are a Masterpiece, Son, and will be even more so when your work is completed!

My Precious Drew, take up your creative tools and create and inspire, but in the process allow God to use you as his canvas, upon which He will create an amazing Masterpiece whose purpose is to glorify God and bring hope and healing to a world!

Son, I love you!  You are precious to me!  Never forget that.  Never doubt that.  Always know it! 

Love,

Mommy

P.S. Kisses and hugs…

A Letter To L-Son

 

 

Dear L-1,

You asked me a month ago if I would write a blog just for you.  I told you I would around your birthday.  Well, it’s a few weeks after, but I have not forgotten your request. So, here’s my blog just for you:

I remember the first time I held you in my arms.  You had the largest eyes.  They were so alert and seemed to be wise beyond their years.  You had this way of just looking at someone and seeming to take it all in.

You were one of the easiest babies!  You were content to sit wherever I put you.  You never fussed when riding in your stroller and would just sit and observe the action around you.  With two older brothers, there was always lots of that.

Skip ahead five years, and we have a little boy who recently celebrated his fifth birthday!  You are no longer the quiet little boy you were for the first two years of life.  Now, you are full of energy and enthusiasm!  You love to play sports!  You are quick to defend someone whom you think is hurting or being hurt.  You’ll stand up to a kid much bigger than you if you think someone needs your help.  You are generous with your hugs and kisses, and we all benefit from them.  You are bold with your words — sometimes too bold.  We are working on helping you learn what is appropriate to say and what isn’t.

When we were deciding on what we were going to name you, we picked a name that means “Light Bringer” for your first name and “Warrior” for your middle name.  It seemed very appropriate since you were born three weeks before Christmas.  Your name is also where a lot of the Christmas passage is recorded in the Bible.

Precious Son, you have been a “bright light” to us with your bright smiles, engaging personality, endless chatter, boundless energy, and delightful hugs and kisses!  We are so thankful for you!

Before naming you, we prayed about what we were to name you.  We believe that a person’s name should have a positive meaning.  We wanted you to have a name that would be significant and would even give you a sense of purpose.

The combination of the meaning of both names is: “One who strives or puts forth effort to bring light to the world.”  The light referred to in the Christmas passage was what the star that rested in Heaven’s curtains signified.  It was a greater light than the star.  It referred to a light that could permeate into the darkest of places and darkest of nights and darkest of hearts to bring light.  Is there really a light so powerful?  Yes!  That light came in the form of Jesus, the Babe who would become a man.  He would be a man who would change thousands of lives while He walked on Earth and would change countless lives throughout thousands of years since his tenure on Earth.  And He still continues to change lives!

Jesus came to bring a message of redemption to lives ruined by the havoc created by sin.  He came to bring hope to a world full of hurt and hate.  He came to bring love to those who only knew lust and loathing.  He came to bring peace to a world bent on achieving power by crushing all opponents.  He came to bring significance to the simplest.  Into a world full of darkness and despair, Jesus brought a message of deliverance and destiny.  He offered salvation in exchange for the rags of sin.  He gave His all so that we might know the full measure of the gift of His grace. 

He was born in a stable to a poor peasant girl and first welcomed by Shepherds.  He demonstrated in this that His grace finds us not in our own ideas of perfection but reaches us in our chaos, our craziness, our imperfections.  He then reaches out His nail-scarred hands and lifts us.  He doesn’t condemn us.  He doesn’t condone us.  He comes to redeem us!  He desires to show us what our true destiny is as His sons and daughters!

L-Son, precious son, my prayer is that you first grasp from where your light comes — Who is your LightMay you know your source and may you then understand your destiny!  You are given the privilege of being His “Light-bearer”!  May your life shine brightly with His light so that you will be a source of light in a world that is desperate for it, even if it doesn’t know it.

Son, open those precious, beautiful eyes of yours.  See a world that is hurting and hating.  They live in darkness but don’t even know it.  They seek hope but turn to mere mirages of it.  Son, you do know the One who can help and heal them.  They may reject you — just as they did your Savior.  Your life may not be easy.  It may be full of suffering, but may it be with a steadfast hope, faith, peace, and joy as you know that you have a greater eternal purpose than what this world has to offer.

L-Son, I wish I could protect you from the hurt and hate that you will see and hear as you seek to bring “light” to a dark world.  Son, keep your heart pure and sweet and trusting as you walk in close fellowship with the One Who made you and gave Himself for you and loves you more infinitely and completely than any other.  If you have that kind of faith, I can be at peace.  I know that you may still suffer, but I know that you will be okay — truly okay.  When we have God at our side, He’ll walk with us through any horrific tragedy that may come our way.  He’ll give you the grace you’ll need for each moment. 

And Son, know that this is one Mommy who loves you, who is proud of you, and who knows that God has wonderful plans for your life!

So Son, hold your head high, open your eyes to this hurting world, and be a light to them, reflecting He Who is our eternal Light of love, peace, salvation, redemption, healing, and hope!

I love you, darling boy!  Kisses and hugs, Mommy…

A Letter To Oldest Son

 

Family letter in 1920 2

(FreeImages.com/ascom)

 

Dear Eldest Son,

You and Daddy are away this weekend.  I promised you that while you are gone, I would work on a blog just for you.

When I think of writing a blog to you, I wonder how I can summarize all that you mean to me and these past eight years we have shared as mother and son.  I don’t know if I am skilled enough for the challenge, but I know that all you care about is knowing how much you are loved and how special we see you as.  So, here it goes…

Precious Son, you have changed my life unequivocally.  A little over eight years ago, you redefined me by adding a new synonym to my list: that of “Mom,” “Mommy,” or “Mother.”  Before becoming a mom, I could only dream and imagine what it would be like to be a mother.  I always loved babies so I anticipated having one of my own.  I also had always enjoyed and worked well with children so I had dreams of having that same close relationship with my children.

Then, you came.  No dream could compare to the reality of holding my very own child for the first time in my arms.  I imagined crying when I would see you for the first time.  (I cry when I watch other new moms hold their babies for the first time.)  Your Daddy cried when he saw you for the first time.  Me?  I didn’t cry.  I didn’t cry at your Daddy’s and my wedding either — even though our wedding and your birth and the births of your siblings were my most precious earthly moments.  I think my emotions ran too deep to even express themselves in tears.  I think I was simply too overwhelmed and overjoyed.  The tears would come later…

Tears or no tears, I was amazed, overwhelmed, in awe!  There I held within my arms my very own baby, my very own flesh and blood!  You were so perfect, so beautiful!  Your Daddy and I just wanted to hold you and hold you.  We didn’t want you out of our sight for even a few minutes.

Within a few weeks, you were smiling and laughing.  That made it even more special!  You and I developed a very close bond.  I could tell that there was a special connection that you sensed too.  I remember dancing with you in the kitchen while special music was playing (a lullaby with your name in it) and looking into your eyes and seeing this look of recognition, this look of contentment and joy in your eyes.  You knew you were lovedI remember feeling so completely in love with you and thinking that I couldn’t imagine being happier.

The months passed, and you grew.  We played together, read together, cuddled together, and just simply adored being together.  Life as a mother was simply amazing!  I don’t remember you being unpleasant or me feeling remotely annoyed at you.

Life has a way of “shaking things up a bit,” and it did with the birth of your brother.  At first, you didn’t think you liked him much.  You liked him a little, except when Mommy had to feed him and you wanted Mommy’s attention.  Then, there was a lot of frustration and tears on both of our parts.  I didn’t know how to nurse your brother and keep you happy at the same time.  That was a difficult time for both of us.  Thankfully, it passed — especially once your brother started to crawl.  Once he started to crawl, you saw him as a play-mate.  You loved racing him around the dining room table (you would crawl with him).  We fit into a groove then, and I once again felt that life was absolutely wonderful and ideal.  I loved having two sons, and you guys mostly loved each other too.

At a young age, we began to see your personality emerge.  As a newborn, you were demanding.  I remember how you would get so angry when you were hungry that you couldn’t nurse at first.  I would have to calm you down, and then you could nurse.  Your personality seemed to mellow though, and you became a very pleasant and happy baby.

Those who knew you as a toddler would describe you as very personable, lively, and with natural leadership skills.  You were thought of as athletic also.  At two, you could kick the soccer ball quite well.  You were very confident as a little guy.  In the nursery, you could send everyone into fits of laughter by the funny things you would do.  You knew how to entertain.  You were also very conscious of what people thought of you — even as just a 12 1/2-month-old.  I remember how I had you dressed in this adorable outfit for Christmas (bow-tie and golfer hat with dress shirt and pants).  Two teen boys sat behind us and were laughing at you; they thought you were cute and funny.  You thought they were making fun of you so you glared at them and then slid down in the pew so they couldn’t see you.

You talked well but then regressed when your brother came.  Finally at 2 1/2 years of age, your vocabulary really took off.  All of a sudden, you were talking 5 and 6-word sentences.

You were also very tall and still are.  You have been in the 96th percentile in height for several years now.  The doctors predict you’ll be at least 6+ feet tall once you are an adult.

You are now the big brother of two brothers and one sister.  Daddy and Mommy have more demands on our time, but we still try to make time for each of you and to let you know how special you are to us.

You love to draw, write stories, play outside, read books or to be read too.  You love to build with Legos, play make-believe games, play Wii, watch movies, be chased, play sword-fight, build things, and play soccer.  You are an active boy, but you can also be calm when you are doing a quieter activity.  You understand spiritual matters and can converse on deep subjects.  You do your best in school and get good grades.  You try to please your teachers and care about what others think of you.  You can be tough but also sensitive.  You dislike change but like adventures.  You love scary rides but still love to be hugged.

These eight years haven’t been easy for you or us.  It’s hard learning to obey and to do what is right.  It’s hard learning to be selfless and patient.  When you live in a larger family, our true natures come out more.  That can be good as it can cause those rough edges to hopefully be worn off sooner than they would be otherwise.  It does create more challenges within the home environment though.

Your Daddy and I aren’t perfect, and we have let you down at times.  We thank you for your patience in working with us as we learn how to become better parents and as we learn to grow in our obedience to God and in doing what is right.  You see, Will, life is all about learning and growing.  It’s all about learning that the best way is in obeying God.  It’s also seeing that God loves each of us individually.  He loves you personally and intimately.  He desires for you to have only the very best.  He wants you to experience the fullest measure of life, liberty, and love — found only in and through Him.

W1, we are so thankful that you made a profession of faith!  Your Daddy and I continue to pray for you to grow as a Child of God.

W1, if the one thing you learn (now that you are saved) is how much God loves you and you love Him in return, your Daddy and I are completely at peace and content.  We don’t need to worry about anything else.  Those two things will sustain you and preserve you through anything.  So, Will, that is what we pray for you — that you would know God and His love for you and that you would love him intimately in return.

W1, there are so many challenges in this life.  So much suffering!  I wish I could protect you from it all.  From my Mommy stand-point, I would choose a peaceable, pleasant, prosperous life for you.  I also recognize that an easy life can often produce an “easy” faith.  In other words, our faith grows, our character develops when we do have to suffer some difficulties.  Challenges work our “spiritual muscles.”  I know how much you love the story of Eric Liddell.  He was quite an amazing runner, but it was his faith that “ran” even better.

Precious Son of my heart, can I remind you that you win, when you choose to do the right thing and to do it wellYou are in a race — the race of lifeAny race that has a valuable reward at the end requires dedication, sacrifice, focus, perseverance, endurance.  No one wins a race by sitting on the side-lines.  No one wins a race by watching the other runners.  No one wins a race by giving up as soon as they break into a sweat.  No one wins a race by dropping out when their muscles begin to tire.  No one wins a race by living a life of comfort and ease.  No one wins a race by quitting when they lose their first practice.

W1, I have heard of a simple but profound speech by Winston Churchill.  He said, “Never give up.  Never give up.  Never give up!  Never give up!  NEVER GIVE UP!”  Son, life is going to be challenging.  You’ll produce tears and sweat by the buckets in this life.  You will feel your physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental muscles strain and cry out for relief.  You will feel yourself falling, and you won’t want to get back up.  Others will mock or criticize you.  You will be tempted to believe the lies that you are a failure and not special.  The truth is you are — not just because you are my son (and that makes you very special) — because you are God’s child and He has incredibly special plans for your life.

Precious Son, lift that head of yours, throw back those shoulders, open those beautiful eyes of yours and see what God has planned for you.  Breathe the life God has given to you.  Take hold of His plan for your life, and run, Son!  Run well.  When you fall, get up again.  When you fall again, get up again.  Son, don’t give up!  Never give up!  Never give up!  NEVER GIVE UP!  You have a legacy, a heritage that no one can take from you.  So, run your race, Son.  Run it well, and in the end, you will hear, “Well done thou, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of the Lord!”

Save

Miracle of Motherhood! Miracle of Manhood!

As a woman, there are times we think we have it so hard.  There are so many physical discomforts and inconveniences we have to face.  There are all those emotional whirlwinds and roller-coasters.  So, we complain.  We forget about our men who quietly go to work every day without complaining.  I have a man like that; he goes to work every day, getting up in the dark and returning home to the dark, after a long commute.  He doesn’t complain.  He is greeted frequently by a messy house, a wife trying to get supper ready, a fussy baby, fighting kids, NOISE!  He doesn’t complain.  He takes the fussy baby and changes her.  “Dives” right into restoring peace between the boys, gives his wife a hug and kiss, and then finally changes from his dress clothes to comfortable wear.  That’s my man!  I know; I do have it so good!

As a woman though I can focus on the discomforts and inconveniences, or I can focus rather on all the blessings and miracles of motherhood.

How incredible it is to feel new life growing within.  Amazement!  A tender little life being shaped within my body, nurtured by my body.  Tenderness and awe feel my senses as I gently caress my belly and speak loving words to a child growing within yet unseen.  What a miracle this thing called life is!  A miracle to think that within my body can grow a new and separate life!

Then the day comes when labor pains hit.  Anguish and waves of pain roll over my body.  My body works to bring new life into the world.  Agony gives way to exhilaration.  I hold a new life within my arms.  I gaze in wonder at each perfect little finger and toe.  I run my finger gently over my baby’s downy head.  The wonder of motherhood!

There follow the sleepless nights and soreness.  Even in that, I am filled with delight as I hold someone so tiny and yet so amazingly “perfect” in my arms!  I am in love!

Soon my little one begins to reach her hands to touch my face.  She gazes in wonder at me — even if another is holding her.  She loves me too!

Each day as I repeatedly nurse her, I can only describe it as exquisite and precious.  What wonder it is to cradle my babe within my arms, to hear her suck  and know that my body is once again supporting her life!  What delight it is to watch a drop of milk roll down her cheek as she pulls off to look up at me and gives me a smile that can only be described as pure joy.  My heart melts as she cuddles against me and tries to hug me.  Laughter bubbles over as she giggles while I tickle her.  Gentle love warms me as I run my finger across her plump cheek.  Thankfulness fills my heart as I watch her look of complete delight as her daddy cups her face in the palm of his hand.  How she loves him!  How he loves her!

What a miracle it is to be a mother!  What a miracle it is to be a father!  Such tender gifts we have been given.