Can you just feel these great cloud of witnesses surrounding the SUM community? Who knew there were such wonderful stories written in God's love letter to us. What an honor to be a part of such a bunch!
We began the week talking about Lois, Eunice and Timothy. I could write so much more than a blog post about these wonderful characters but I want to focus on something that I said on Monday:
Eunice was a Jewish woman. I wonder the stigma that would have come upon her as she chose to marry this Greek man. Did it make it hard to go to the marketplace? What about the synagogue? Did she fear being disowned by Lois for an "unclean" marriage? I wonder what went through her mind as she found out she was pregnant with her son, Timothy. Did she hear that familiar lying voice, "You really screwed this up. This is not what God wanted for you. You failed. Game over."
I was a prodigal when I found my husband. I was running away from the Lord; trying my best to ignore His mercy, love, and grace. We found out we were pregnant out of wedlock. That was the moment that the consequences to my decisions became real to me. We got married shortly before my son was born. I knew that I hadn't followed God's way before marriage. I was raised in the church, my grandparents were pastors when I was young. I was involved in church basically my entire life. I felt the weight of guilt and shame. I knew God's standards of purity. That familiar lying voice rang through my heart and mind, "You really screwed this up. This is not what God wanted for you. You failed. Game over."
Like the Jews and Greeks did then, SUMites face culture clashes, differing values, and sometimes opposing religious beliefs - all within the confines of our own home. It can feel like we are living one foot on Earth and one foot in Heaven. I have to admit that for a while I believed the lies of the enemy. This caused a great bitterness to rise up within me against my husband. In many ways I made life hell for him - constant nagging, criticism, anger, disinterest in getting close to him. It was a dark time.
I quickly realized the importance of raising my children to know the Lord. It was the birth of my two children that steered me back to God. I knew that if I was charged with teaching them about the Kingdom, I had to first truly live it myself. I couldn't teach what I didn't know.
There is something about our SUM marriage that gives us a higher perspective on raising the next generations. We have the ability to see life through a unique lens. We can see the world's point of view as we live and interact with our spouses. We can see the Kingdom's point of view as Holy Spirit lives in us. But, how do we set the foundation so that our children walk in the Kingdom?
Let's look at five practical things we can put in our parenting tool belt:
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we accepted Jesus into our heart, we not only gained salvation; but we received a Helper. Holy Spirit is our guide. He points us to Jesus. In John 14:26, Jesus said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." If we want to teach and train our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), we should ask Holy Spirit to teach and train us.
- Be bold enough to live out your faith. Our children, especially at a young age, watch our every move. The years that they live at home are crucial. I am blessed to be able to attend church, teach my children about Jesus, play worship music in the home. This is not to brag. I know that not everyone has this luxury. However you are able, model what it means to be a lover of Jesus. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to "practice" your faith in front of your children. When you sing to the Lord, do it so your children can see what it looks like. When you pray, do so aloud so that your children can see how easy it is to talk to God.
- Be forgiving. This is a hard one. I constantly find myself in this classroom. It starts with yourself. Then your spouse. Then your children. I had to ask God to show me how He views me, my husband, children, and marriage. It is amazing to see how quickly our temperament and mindset changes once we are looking through God's eyes.
- Be consistent. One of the biggest ways I have had to live this out is attending church. When my kids were babies, it was much easier to pack them up in the car and head to church. My son just turned 7 and my daughter just turned 6. I've had to deal with a couple of times when my kids haven't wanted to go to church. They miss their daddy or they yearn for him to come. I noticed it more when we had to livestream church during Covid lock down months. My daughter was much more apt to come downstairs and sit with me. My son would rather be upstairs playing. Getting back to church was hard. My son wanted to stay home. I had to have an honest conversation with them both. One that my grandmother had with me. "It doesn't matter what we feel like or what we want to do. We go to church on Sunday because we love God. We love Jesus. We CHOOSE to go because of our love for Him. Even if we don't feel like it, we go to church to honor Him." Having that conversation with my kids not only modeled what devotion to Jesus looks like. It also keeps me accountable on those days when I am fighting the temptation to stay home.
- Be a prayer warrior. The best thing we can do is pray - pray - pray! Pray with your children. Pray for your children. Pray over your children. Pray without ceasing. Notice I didn't say a prayer worrier. In our prayer, we don't have to be afraid or fear. The best place that our children can be is in God's hands! Pray with confidence; thanking God for these beautiful gifts. Speak over their lives. Speak their destinies over them. Like Lynn loves to say - bless them like crazy!
There are so many more things we could add to this list but as usual, I've gone a little long. Let's talk in the comments. What are some tools that you've used to lay Kingdom foundation for your children? I'd love to add to my armory.