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.

Love,

Mom


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


Lessons from my boy

Words can not express how much I love this boy. He amazes me and teaches me so much each day. Each of my children opens my eyes to a new way of seeing things. The latest lessons come from Logan after his first swim meet last week.

Logan loves swimming. He is happier in the water than most anywhere else, but this is the first year that he’s been part of an official swim team. It gives him a way to learn swimming techniques and a chance to try something new. He doesn’t even have to compete in the swim meets, but he wanted to try the first one last week.

Earlier in the week he learned the butterfly stroke. He mentioned in the car coming home that day how bad he was at it. We talked about how it would just take practice. He was just learning it, after all.

When we got to the meet on Thursday, the first event he was listed in was the butterfly of all things. Now, here is where the first of the lessons comes in.

Lesson One: Try something even if you’re not perfect at it.

I was not about to make him swim something he was not comfortable with in front of all those people. Doing anything before I am completely prepared and confident makes me seriously uncomfortable. I’ve had many a nightmare based on exactly this concept. However, not Logan. Instead, he said “Well, I’ll give it a shot.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Did he swim the butterfly perfectly? No, but he did it. He didn’t let fear of failure stop him. As a result, Logan walked away from the meet that night proud of himself for trying something new.

He didn’t finish first that night. In fact, he finished last. However, he was not discouraged. He had a new experience to learn from. Here is where the second of the lessons comes in.

Lesson Two: View challenges as a chance to grow.

Even though he finished last, he wants to do it again. With a smile on his face, his exact words were “Well, the good news is I have plenty of room for improvement!

Do you see why I love this boy and have so much to learn from him?

When he is not perfect at something, he sees it as a chance for growth. It’s a challenge. An opportunity.

How else do we grow but by facing a new challenge?

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

As a friend recently said to me: Growth is evidence of life.

I’m so proud of Logan for viewing this particular challenge as a chance to grow. I love watching him grow and live boldly and without fear, which leads to the third of the lessons he taught me last week.

Lesson Three: Be confident in your support.

One reason Logan has no trouble trying something new is that he doesn’t really care what other people think. I mean that in a good way. He knows that his family loves and supports him as long as he is trying his best. That gives him confidence.

Before going down to swim, Logan said “Even if I come in last, it will be okay.” I assured him it would be. The only time my children disappoint me is when they have a bad attitude or they are lazy. My children know that my husband and I are always proud of them when they do their best, regardless of the outcome.

Doesn’t our heavenly Father feel the same way about us?

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the only servant that God is not pleased with is the one who was too afraid to do anything, the one who hid his talent in the ground.  (Matthew 25:25)

We shouldn’t let fear of failure or fear of what others think keep us from using our talents.

In John 12:42-43 the Bible speaks of those who believed in Jesus but were afraid to act upon their belief for fear of what others would think of them.

“for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” John 12:43

Logan wasn’t worried about what the people in the stands thought of him. He knew that their approval didn’t matter. He would be loved and approved of by his family no matter what.

That’s what God wants of His children.

When we feel confident in God’s love and live only to please Him, it frees us to cast aside fear and thus to grow.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

And how about a piece of pizza?

When Logan was done swimming for the night, he walked back up to where I was sitting. I smiled at him, gave him a hug, and told him I was proud of him. Then I bought him a piece of pizza. You’ve never seen such a happy boy.

My aim this week is to apply these lessons from Logan.

I want to accept a challenge as a chance to grow, confident in God’s approval, even if the outcome is not perfect.

When I live boldly and without fear, my heavenly Father will be there waiting and smiling when I finish my race.

I want to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

At that point, it won’t matter what anyone else is saying.

I’ll have the love of my Father and my pizza. What else could I possibly need?

“But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:39