If we are to expect the full blessing of this Christian salvation, we must love one another; we cannot experience this life without doing it. But I call attention to it not merely form the standpoint of our own personal enjoyment. There is another and greater reason for repeating this exhortation, which is that it is is still the way in which the Christian church is going to affect and influence the world. The world in it darkness and blindness still expects something different from the Christian. It expects to see something in the Christian community which no one else can show; so to the extent that we fail to practise and exemplify this great virtue, the whole testimony and witness of the church will be correspondingly weak.
On the weekend, I attended the wedding of a young lady whom I've known since she was four years old. That was a first for me. We've been to weddings in our church before, but now the young people of my kids' generation are marrying. It makes me feel old.
The father of the groom, when he made his speech, referring to the fact that his little boy was now grown and married, said poignantly, "It was quick."
They grow up so fast. It's trite but true.
Ten years ago today, according to the archives of my blog, I was writing about an incident that happened during snack time, which fell around 10:00 a.m. during our homeschool day. I reflected about our first Beagle, Sally, and how she captured a stray Goldfish cracker:
She decided that there must be more than one way to skin a cat, and approached the table from the other side. I heard the commotion, but I finally came onto the scene to see her on the floor, attempting to get underneath the coffee table. The sight of that little beagle bum sticking out of the space under the coffee table was pretty funny, but it was serious business to her. I think she eventually got her head jammed in between the table and back of the couch, and her proficient tongue snagged the prize. Boy, I wish I had her tenacity. There's no lack of excitement when you have a beagle in the house.
What am I doing today? Nothing like what I was doing back then. I have another Beagle, but there is no hope of a stray Goldfish cracker in her day. The intensive part of parenting is over. In the famous words of Ferris Beuller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
In ten short years, I have gone from snack time at 10:00 am with three kids to a day ahead of me that doesn't include those three children particularly, aside from the possibility of a text message.
Parenting moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around at your kids, you might miss them.
There are a lot of things parents want to give their children. Some things, like new life in Christ, is not ours to give. And maybe we can't give them all the "things" we'd like to. But we can give them our time. Give your kids your time. Talk to them, listen to them (listen more than talk; that's something I wish I'd learned earlier), play with them, laugh with them, eat with them, dream with them. Be willing to sacrifice, even if it means you don't always get to do what you want.
Mothering is about a lot more than not giving up the second piece of cake. Sometimes, it means giving up a whole lot more. But it's worth it, because it does go by so fast. God gives us these precious lives for a season, and it's a privilege to bring them up for his glory. Loving our children as Christ loves means sacrifice. And we don't do it for the accolades or the standing ovation on Mother's Day. We do it because God has given us this task, and because we love our children.
I'm not saying this because I feel particularly melancholy today. I've seen all my children recently, and we are fortunate to see them often. But I'm not going to assume that they'll be close forever. Even now, with all this free time on my hands, I'm careful to give them my time; to listen to them, to talk to them, to rejoice with their successes and sympathize with their struggles. Once our kids become teens, it's tempting to think we can just check out. We can't. They still want us there, even if they don't always articulate it.
Whatever you do with your time, if you have children, make time for them; as much as you can. Be there for bed time, dinner time, game time, recital time. Give them lots of time. Homeschooling meant we had a lot of time together, but I still wish I'd given more.
Into That Blessed Rest
Grant, Almighty God,
that since Thou hast deigned to separate us to be
Thy peculiar treasure, and leadest us daily
under Thy banner,
and invitest us so kindly and gently
by the voice of Thy gospel --
O grant that we may not reject
so great a kindness,
not render ourselves unworthy
of our holy calling.
And whatever evils must be borne by us,
may we sustain them
with resigned mind,
until, having, at length finished the contests
by which Thou wouldst now exercise
and prove our faith,
we shall be received into that blessed rest
that is laid up for us in heaven
and has been purchased for us
by the blood of Thine only begotten Son. Amen.
I really don't like waking up to a dirty kitchen.
I don't like an unmade bed.
I find it hard to sit and read a book if there is unfolded laundry in a basket, or unwashed dishes in the sink.
Clutter in the house makes it hard for me to concentrate.
These are just a few little nit picky things that I don't like, but which my children have no difficulty with. In general, I don't like clutter. They are quite okay with it; I've seen their bedrooms in their houses. They manage to work among unmade beds, empty plates, laundry on the floor, and Coke cans piled up. Dirty is one thing; they have an aversion to that. Clutter, though, is okay.
Did I not teach my children to clean up after themselves? Of course I did. It was part of the larger lesson of stewardship, taking care of the home we lived in. When they lived at home, I asked them to pick up their things and they did so.
My children are adults now. How they keep their homes is their business. You can think I'm a failure as a mother because my children don't keep house like I do (yet), but the fact of the matter is that some people don't mind clutter. My children are among them. And they have a father who doesn't mind, either. Lots of people feel more creative in clutter.
They're big kids now
It's very tempting to think that correcting our children is simply a matter of asking them to stop doing something and then having them comply immediately and forever. We all have annoying habits, and we can all be assured that we as parents do things which annoy our children. Once they get out on their own, they can live as they want. They make their own choices. Every bad one isn't because we didn't "correct" them enough. There comes a point when they are teenagers when too much hovering and criticism starts to sound like "blah, blah, blah," to them. At some point, you let the child make a mistake and deal with the consequences. My three kids have all had to face such a situation at school whether it was suffering a bad grade because of procrastinating, or spending money they shouldn't have.
Ultimately, we are raising children, not clones. They may live differently than we do. We want them to embrace the truth of God's Word, but they may not replicate the lives they grew up with. They may prefer to live in places we wouldn't live or have hobbies we didn't have. My husband and I watch hockey; my boys heckle us for it. They watch shows which I think are stupid, like Arrested Development. One of my sons likes to poke fun at me for enjoying British crime dramas. We are a family of readers, yet one of my sons prefers to draw instead of read. These things are fine. It's tempting to think that parental success means that our kids must do exactly what we want them to do as adults. That isn't true.
We have our own vocations
I have seen this become an issue with young women. My daughter, at the age of 25, is not a stay at home mother like I was. She has a different vocation than I did and do. At one time, I did not understand the principle of vocation and the fact that she didn't seem to want to embrace the things I did made me erroneously think that she was somehow rejecting God's plan for her life. If you want to frustrate a teenager, by all means, try to force her into a mold. I don't recommend it. Yes, I hope some day my daughter will have children, and I trust she will care for them when the time comes, but I'm not going to relegate her to the "bad girl" corner because she's not living my life. All I want for all of my children is that they love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, and minds, and love others as themselves in whatever vocation God gives them. To assume they can only achieve that with my plans is pride, pure and simple.
When our kids are at home and under our constant care, it's tempting to believe that they are always going to do everything we suggest. They won't. They will leave home and have the freedom to ignore advice and do what they want. While they are at home, then, our task is to teach godly principles and godly wisdom. Their lives may not look exactly like ours in the details, but if they are embracing wisdom and demonstrating a teachable spirit, that's a good thing.
Here we are in mid-October already. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. Here in my little corner of the world, this weekend is the local Pumpkin Festival. I doubt we'll get to the festivities, but the fall colours have been wonderful. I had my camera out this afternoon and lost all track of time. The picture above was taken with my iPhone, but I'm excited about what I captured with my camera. I'm thankful for my camera. And for others things too.
... for the past weekend when the kids were all home for Thanksgiving.
... for safe travel as I have had a lot of errands this week.
... for the new project I've begun, tutoring a homeschool student. He needs help writing essays, and his mother asked me to lend a hand. So far, it's gone well, and my mind is busy thinking of resources and ways to help him as he faces the mystifying process of developing a thesis from his notes.
... for blue jeans and flannel shirts. The days are getting cool.
... for the reality of having passed from death to life through the blood of Jesus Christ.