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Thursday, January 23, 2014
I am often asked questions about raising children and some principles we have used to raise our kids. Well, here are a few. Let me preface all this by saying this, we are not perfect parents, and we have failed on many occasions. I am not trying to take credit for anything good that has happened with my children but giving credit to the Grace of God.
Too often we are quick to take credit, when in fact had it not been for God's grace our families would be a total wreck. So I write this blog here with that truth as the premise. Also, keep in mind that I think it is more difficult for my children because their dad is the pastor of Grace Community Church.
1. We regularly prayed for them, even this morning I prayed for blessing, favor, and protection upon my children. Prayer can do more for your family than any book, practice, or devotional can ever do! By the time my kids have moved on from our home, their future spouses, future jobs, future health, and future ministry, will have been prayed for potentially 7,300 times. Imagine the impact of 18 years of daily prayer for your kids. Plus it continues even today.
2. We got them out of the country on short term mission's trips as soon as possible. My children have all been to 3rd world countries numerous times. This shapes their world view beyond the four walls of their cozy house. It helps them to feel pain, discomfort, and allows them to trust God in a fresh way. Plus it develops a burden for the underprivileged in our world. This has caused our kids to save their own money and purchase supplies for the needy in our world. Every Father must lead the way by having a passport so that he can go at a moment's notice to help those in distress in our world.
3. We dropped the second set of helicopter wings and let God use his. Let me explain... we didn't want our children to always have mom or dad be their default to turn to in times of distress. We wanted them to know that God is the first default, so we allowed them to go to public schools and be a bright light. We let them ride their bikes and the bus to school. We had had some teachable moments along the way when Josh dropped a F-bomb as a 1st grader, because he heard it at school. We made our home and yard a place for neighborhood kids to hang out. We wanted them to be socially adaptable to all situations. Besides, Jesus asked the same of us in John. We set guard rails with some non-negotiables but we allowed them to make some discernment calls on their own.
4. We worked hard to make supper time a moment when we all ate together. Now we had to get creative as sports and extra curricular activities pressed in on us. Yet, this time was when we always caught up on the day. We still do that with Isaiah. We often prayed for people, discussed hot topics, laughed, watched youtube videos, and always prayed together. We made Sunday after the third service a time when we always ate out in a restaurant together after church. And it gave us time to debrief about what God did that day in our services.
5. We did life together regularly. We rarely got baby sitters when our children were young, we brought them along with us. To be quite frank we enjoyed hanging out with our kids. They got exposure from all kinds of places on my back, in baby carriers, strollers, and car seats. We really worked hard at not saying that our kids were a burden to us. We didn't tell others how tough it was or that they were driving us crazy. We didn't want them to ever hear that from us, because we wanted them to know that they were incredibly special to us and not in the way of our lives and goals. We just realized that this was the season to pour into these precious packages of love.
6. We worked hard at building memorable moments with them and create an environment of spontaneity, so that they would grow up to be very flexible adults. We let them give input on vacation sites and day excursions and made them fun.
7. We worked hard at making home a place of peace where they could find refuge and peace.
8. We celebrated their differences and worked hard at letting them find their passions and go get them. We also helped them to not have hectic extra curricular schedules by making them be on every traveling team under the sun. We let them have seasons to recoup and be schedule-free.
9. We allowed them to talk it out with us if they disagreed. If they stood on a different side we gave them a chance to fight for it. And we let them build their own personal convictions.
10. Our greatest discipleship tool was teaching them as we went along the way. We regularly connected God to life.
11. We loved them unconditionally. We wanted them to know that no matter what, our love for them, would never change. We loved each other as Husband and Wife. The greatest confidence and security builder we gave them was for them to know that we were in love till death parted us. That alone has probably done more for our children then anything else.
12. We challenged them to never give less than their best and to treat elders with respect. My kids will talk to adults and have firm handshakes when you shake their hands.
13. We actively shared our faith in front of them and with them and prayed all the time for lost people. This has helped our kids to care for lost people and to act on helping those in need.
14.We laughed a lot and allowed freedom to reign. We wanted to enjoy life and not be a bunch of cranky adults.
15. We regularly spoke encouragement to them and told them that with Jesus nothing could stop them. Words are powerful building blocks for children and when a child knows that you believe in them they are unstoppable.
16. We helped them to understand the Spirit-world they lived in and taught them how to put on the armor of God at a very early age, and how to pray throughout their rooms and over their possessions.
17. We encouraged them to get summer jobs once they turned 16 so that they could build a good resume and learn to work with other people
18. We encouraged them to tithe, save, and spend their money. They each have helped to buy their own first vehicle.
19. We put limits or video games and mobile devices so that they would not get addicted. We got outside and let them enjoy creation and build creative ways to invest their time.
20. We encouraged them to be readers of books and they have read hundreds of books to help shape their world-view.
21. We enjoyed every season from diapers to jr-high and senior high and were our kids greatest cheerleaders by being in the picture of their lives.
22. We said we were sorry to them when we failed them. We wanted them to know that we are not perfect.
23. We encouraged them to live healthy lives physically by making good choices when they eat so that their bodies could perform at optimable performance. We asked them to go to bed at an early time in the evenings so that their bodies received proper rest.
24. We showed them that they had an unfair-advantage with the Holy Spirit and being Christ-followers. This gave them a faith that took risks and built a willingness to step out and stand up for Jesus in front of their peers.
25. Finally, we said "I love you" all the time and hugged, embraced, and gave our kids a kiss on the cheek at various times.This happened at bedtime, leaving the house, or when seeing them after not being able to in a while.
Our children have blessed our lives in more ways than we have for them and we always long for them to know that home is a place they can always come back to.
I love my kids and thank God for them. We can't get the time back but we can always start today and pour into our kids. I love Josh, Hannah and Isaiah!