To my children: Focus on who you are becoming

To my children,

I love being your mother.

Each of you is an amazing miracle, created with your own talents and quirks, your own strengths and weaknesses, and with your own purpose in this life. Our home is filled with so much laughter, and most of your days are happy and easy. However, as you continue to mature, some days are more challenging. As you grow and change, you sometimes struggle. Things don’t always go as you planned, and there are often tears mixed in with the laughter.

I love watching your successes. I rejoice and smile with pride during those times.

Watching you struggle and fail is hard. I hurt and cry for you then.

Those times of struggle are necessary, though. The hard seasons in life are the times when you grow. During those times I will remind you of who you are and who God created you to be. I will remind you that you are loved and precious. I will not give up on you or let you give up on yourself.

You see, the most important thing is not what you’re accomplishing, but who you are becoming.

Are you becoming someone who reflects God’s light? (Matthew 5:16)

Are you becoming someone who is happy to receive glory from God instead of the world? (John 5:44)

Do you live a life of thankfulness for God’s blessings? (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Do you use your time to draw near to God and seek Him? (Matthew 6:33)

Are you learning to praise God in the good times and the bad? (Psalm 30:12)

 Are you being transformed into His image daily? (2 Corinthians 3:18)

If so, the rest doesn’t really matter. Maybe you got a bad grade or didn’t place in a competition, but you handled yourself with grace, kindness, and gratitude. Maybe you got back up and tried again.

Then I’m proud of you.

Don’t get me wrong – accomplishments are great. I want you to use the talents that God gave you and to work hard, and when you do, accomplishments will follow. Success will follow. But when it doesn’t, remember that you are not defined by your accomplishments.

The important thing is not what you’re accomplishing, but who you are becoming.

You will make mistakes. Some of them may be big and come with tough consequences. Life is not over when this happens. Mistakes are part of the journey in becoming who God created you to be. During those times of struggle you will come to appreciate God’s mercy and forgiveness, and then be able to extend that forgiveness to others. Learn from your mistakes, accept the consequences, and move on. You are not defined by your mistakes any more than you are from your accomplishments.

You see, you are still a work in progress. And guess what? So am I.

My greatest hope is that ultimately we will all be together with our heavenly Father. That’s all I really want for you. When that time comes, these bumps along the way will be forgotten.

I love being on this journey with you. You make it fun and so rewarding. You give me purpose when I want to give up.

I can’t wait to see all the things that you will do in this life. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. When you have those bad days (or weeks, or months), remember to set your eyes on the eternal. Remember that you have a goal that transcends this earth. Growing is never easy, so don’t be discouraged. Remember that you are loved, and you are not yet done with your journey.



How taking things away from our children can lead to blessings

There’s one piece of pie left. You pull it out of the refrigerator to find your youngest child standing beside you. She looks at you and then looks at the pie. You know what’s coming next. That pie is no longer yours. You give the last piece to your child, right? (Unless it’s your favorite chocolate pie, in which case you generously offer to split it with her 50/50.) Now reverse that situation. It’s your child who has the last piece of pie. As a mother, you would never think to take that pie away from her. Mothers aren’t takers. We don’t like to see our children go without. We’re givers by nature.

As I prepared a lesson this week on the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17, I was struck with the mother who was blessed because she went against that nature. She took food from her child. The widow is approached by the prophet Elijah. There is a famine in the land, and this poor mother has only enough flour and oil to prepare one last meal for her son and herself. In spite of knowing the mother’s desperate circumstances, Elijah asks her to make a bread cake for him first. He promises that God will keep her flour and oil from running out until the famine is over if she will just provide this bread for Elijah.

And she does it. She takes her son’s food and gives it away.

She gives up what is tangible for the promise of something better.

I put myself in her shoes, and I wonder what I would have done. Letting go of something you can see in exchange for something you can’t see is tough, especially when it involves taking something from your children. Letting go requires faith in the one making the promise. It requires trust.

 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

What if the widow hadn’t had enough faith to give up her oil and flour?

One, we likely wouldn’t be talking about her now. Second, she would not have received the blessing of unending nourishment for her family.

After all, you can’t receive God’s blessings into hands that already full.

The widow had to let go of what she had in order to receive the blessings.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

This woman believed that in taking something from her son, she would be providing something better for him. She understood that an unending supply of bread and oil was far better than enjoying one bread cake today.

Do I today believe in the One who promises His endless blessings?

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Do I believe enough to give up the security of the tangible for the promise of the intangible?

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

Do I believe enough to take something from my children now so that they can fully receive God’s blessings in the future?

Taking from our children is never easy. The pie is delicious, and they don’t want to give it up.

However, like the widow of Zarephath, God promises us something better for our children when we trust Him enough to take away a temporary pleasure.

What blessings are we missing for our families when we refuse to give up the temporary for the promise of the eternal?

Let’s trust God enough to take away the pie. Let’s empty our hands of the flour and oil. And then let us watch and see what God will do for our children.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” Malachi 3:10

That’s a Dad Question

It would be interesting to keep up with exactly how many questions my children ask in a day. The question can be as simple as What’s for dinner? or What time do we need to leave? I can handle those. However, the question is more often along the lines of How exactly does a digital scale work? Why can’t you put metal in the microwave? or Why are magnets north-south instead of east-west? When it comes to the latter type of question my typical response is Hmm…that sounds like a Dad question.

How do you play the guitar? – Also a Dad question.

With children as inquisitive as mine are, it comes in handy to be married to a science teacher. I could try to give them an answer on my own. I might get some of it right. However, when they go to their dad, they are assured of getting an answer that is 100% correct. And he is always willing and ready to teach.

But what do you do when the questions are even tougher? Where do you go when late at night one of your children comes to you struggling with the concepts of eternity and death? What do I do with a question such as What is my purpose? What happens when I die? Why is there war?

And, yes, I have dealt with all of those questions and more in the past week alone.

 A Question for the Father

As thankful as I am to be able to direct my children’s science questions to their earthly father, I am even more thankful to be able to direct my children’s tougher questions to their heavenly Father.

I honestly don’t know how I could possibly raise my children without the Bible to guide me. I can not imagine dealing with their fears and questions without the Bible to turn to.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

It’s one thing to walk through this life stumbling and groping for answers on your own, answers that may or may not be correct. It’s an entirely different thing to take your children on that path with you.

A Question of Truth

The first one of those tough questions came to me when my oldest child was six years old. She asked where her grandfather would be when he died. While I had the correct answer –  He’ll be in heaven with God – I realized with that question that my role as a mother includes more than loving my children and providing for their physical needs. My role requires answering the tough questions that are sure to arise.

In the face of those questions, I need to be able to answer my children with certainty. It is not enough to just give my best shot at the answers and hope they are correct. I need somewhere to go where I am assured of getting answers that are 100% correct. I need a source of truth.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:17

These are times when the correct answer to the question comes only from the heavenly Father.

Be Prepared

The tough questions don’t come up on a daily basis. Most days are too busy for constant deep questions of eternity and purpose. However, the questions will come. They will come late at night or in the face of tragedy. We will at times be shaken from our daily thoughts into questions that are deeper. I need to be prepared to answer those questions.

Thankfully, I am not alone.

I don’t have to come up with an answer that I hope is correct. Instead, I can take my children to the Bible and let the heavenly Father answer those questions for us. He is always willing and ready to teach, and in His words are life and peace and truth. I can not imagine answering any one of those questions without Him.

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” John 6:68