Have you ever struggled, wondering what you should be praying of your children? Me too! There are the obvious things, of course, such as their general health and well being, but I often struggle with the specifics of their futures. I don't want to pray for things for them that God does not want for them. I might want my son to be a basketball superstar, and it might even give him a great platform for ministry and serving, but I don't want that for him if it is not part of God's plan. I have found that doing things outside of God's plan for you can lead to a lot of heartache and difficulty!
Then, a few weeks ago, I overheard part of a conversation between my 4 year old son and my dad, his Pop Pop.
I didn't catch all of what my dad was saying. I have no idea what prompted it, but I turned to see Isaac with his hand over his heart as he said, "Jesus loves me, because he gave me a special heart."
And my own heart turned to a puddle.
I hope and pray that he always knows this to be true. I hope all of my children do. I hope that they always know this to be true about others as well, encouraging their friends and family members in their gifts and callings from God.
You see, because they may not always be the same. Each one of my four children might have a heart led in a different direction by God. Each one of them may have a heart for a different service. Each one of them may be called into something the others don't fully understand, but I hope and I pray that they each follow their own callings, guided by God's wisdom, and without opposition or criticism from the others. They will receive enough of that from the rest of the world.
And then I found this verse.
They each do have special hearts. It is our job to nurture and encourage those hearts, in following God and loving others. But what is important to note in this verse is that it isn't about us. My prayer for my children's futures, isn't for them to be wildly successful and wealthy. As much as I'd love them to be, acknowledging how much easier that would make their lives, that is not my prayer. My prayer is that they allow God to mold and sculpt their hearts into those that serve and love others the way that God would want them to.
Those hearts are special, and it is all too easy to allow the world to shape them. My prayer is that God's hands are the only ones doing the shaping, and that their gifts are used for His glory.
What are some verses you pray over your children? Please share! I'd love to hear them!
Today's Monday Message happens to fall on my grandfather's 93rd birthday, and first birthday in Heaven, so I would be remiss if I didn't talk about him today.
Regretfully, I was not as close to him as I would have liked. Just the result of geography more than anything. But he was still a powerful figure in my life. He was a man of few words, and a man I sought to impress.
When I was very young, I took a great interest in basketball. My grandparents, products of the Great Depression, thought it somewhat ludicrous that my dad and I were so invested in a silly game. I had lofty goals. I wanted to play Division 1 college basketball. I wanted to play in the Olympics, and I wanted to play professionally, and I was only 7. All grandpa could do was shake his head.
But one day, when we headed out on the 3 hour drive to visit them, my dad packed my basketballs (yes, all three of them). When we got there, he said, "Hey Dad. Erin would like to show you some of the things she's been working on."
With hesitation, but love, grandpa sat down, and I proceeded to put on a ball handling show, worthy of YouTube fanfare of today, in my grandmother's floral, spotless, prim and proper kitchen. One ball, then two, and then three, going all at the same time. My grandpa's eyes were wide, and I will never forget what he said, "Fred, she just might do it."
He was, of course, referring to my lofty goals, but that was it. That's all he said. And that's all I needed. He never again expressed a concern about it. I had gotten the endorsement of one of our toughest critics.
I didn't achieve all of my lofty goals. I played Division 1 college basketball, and got injured. My grandpa never made it to a college game, but he told his friends about me, and when my college team played out in Ohio, near one of them, he told him he should go see me play...and he did.
My grandpa, in his own way, taught me much about the wisdom of listening. His words were few, but direct. I also learned from him, the power in acknowledging when you might be wrong, and the loving effect that has on the people around you.
My grandfather was not a perfect man. In his later years, in several conversations with my dad, he expressed regret over times he was quick to anger or said things he shouldn't have said; moments that (I think) all parents have had. Yet this verse still reminds me of him.
I never knew my grandpa's political leanings or beliefs, and I didn't need to. These days we tend to put a lot of stock into those things, to form our opinion of a person, but he had fought in a war, maintained a loving marriage for over 65 years, raised 5 successful children, and owned and worked at his own business into his 80s. His political opinions couldn't have changed the fact that he was a wise, hard-working man, deserving of respect, even if we had disagreed.
Be slow to speak and slow to become angry with your friends and family. Don't allow their opinions (or yours!) to be a hindrance to your relationship. It shouldn't change the person you know them to be!
As I look at my most worn book of my Bible, at the introduction page, it says that James is a great book to turn to if you are looking for practical ways to live as a Christian. Practical.
The practical and applicable life lessons passed down by my grandfather resonate with me today, as I read these words. And I hope he's having a great birthday.
Y'all, I LOVE my kids, with every fiber of my being, with every breath I take, with every toy I step on, and butt I wipe. I love them! God has given us moms and dads this amazing capacity for love that we didn't even know was humanly possible until we held that baby in our arms. And He multiplies it! Each additional child we had, I couldn't even imagine having more love to give, but, oh, did I ever!
But what if we were called to tolerate them? What if, as the world teaches tolerance, that was the best we had to offer our children? We would fail miserably! I mean, raise your hand if you can't tolerate your children.
Here, here! Me, every day! Don't y'all jump at once.
Because it sounds awful, doesn't it? Not being able to tolerate your children? What kind of monster are you?! But see, here's the thing, if you look up the definition of tolerate this is what you will find: verb; allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.
Without what now? Without interference? Do you do that with your children? Oh, I do not like or agree with the hitting of your brother, but I will allow it, without interference, because that is what any good and tolerant person would do.
NO! Just, no.
Goodness, I sometimes have days when I have to interfere with every single unmanageable behavior you can imagine. We do not sit idly by and tolerate their every decision. We are trying to raise decent human beings, you know, the kinds that don't just walk up and take things from other people, the kinds that don't throw themselves all over the store floor because they can't get what they want, the kinds that no longer pee or poop on themselves (because, at some point we certainly stop tolerating that, am I right?). We don't tolerate our children. We love them.
What if we applied this to everyone in our lives? Don't get me wrong, as adults, we don't need to go running around interfering in everyone's business. Sometimes it might be helpful, to stop a harmful behavior, but most of the time, a matter of opinion doesn't need a giant buttinsky. The point I'm trying to express here is simple, at its core; society teaches tolerance, which is actually quite difficult to attain. Even a peaceful protest, by the very definition of tolerance, is an interference in something you don't agree with or particularly like, but while you are peacefully protesting, expressing your intolerance, so to speak, you can still show love. You can show love by remaining peaceful, and respectful of your community and public property. You can show love by expressing to a group of people that you empathize with their struggle. You can even show love to those you don't agree with, by remaining kind and considerate and even helpful when needed. See, in the midst of trying to implement change in a situation you are not going to tolerate, you can still show love. We've been doing it all wrong! Stop trying to tolerate people. Because you will be faced with intolerable situations, and you will fail. But love never fails. Super cheesy, but true. You don't have to agree with someone to help brush the snow off their car. You don't even have to know the opinions of the person behind you in the drive-thru to pay for their order as a pleasant surprise. Being tolerant doesn't encourage those actions. Being tolerant walks on by, but love interferes and makes someone's day. Love wins.
February is a month of love, and I believe, a really important topic. So for my first official blog, I want to hit you with a little bit (ok, a lot) of truth. It’s really simple, but probably the hardest things for me to grasp as an imperfect mommy/wife/person. Often, I find myself forgetting this truth, and beating myself up, and I can’t imagine that I am the only one feeling that way, so here goes:
Jesus loves YOU!
Ok, maybe that is a bit too simple, so let me add to that just a bit.
Jesus loves you:
But do you get it? He loves you, and all that you are, because He created you.
I LOVE those verses! And not just because of the descriptive, yarn-friendly word, “knit.” But because I know that my creator made me exactly who I am, and there is no other like me. I encourage you to think about that this week when you are feeling down, no matter the circumstances. There is not a single one in this universe like you, and Jesus loves you exactly the way you are.
Just a few last things before you get on with your day:
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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