Friday, June 19, 2009

Mom to Mom - Encouraging our children's relationship with Christ

Preface here.

Sorry this post is getting up a little later than expected - Walker took today off so that we could have some fun family time. Which involved: a water park, a playground, Mexican food, and, um, a nap for me.

So. The question du jour is: How do we help to cultivate a relationship between our children and Christ?

Before we go there, I want to share some Courtney-wisdom. This is really good, so listen up, y'all.

Courtney told me once that as moms we have to distinguish between our desires and our goals. Goals are things we have control over. We can have desires for our children, but we cannot have goals for our children. We can only have goals for ourselves.

For instance: I can desire that my children go to college. But it cannot be my goal that my children go to college, because my children are their own "free agents" as Court would say and I cannot control them (which I learned on about day four of Shepherd's life.) My goals for myself can be: to encourage education, to help them with schoolwork, to save money for college, etc etc. But if they go to college or not is not my choice - and by that same virtue, if they do not fulfill my desire, then I have not failed as a mother.

The same applies to my children's walk with Christ. It is my strongest desire in the whole wide world that all of my children love Christ deeply. My prayer is, as Angela Thomas says, for them to have a boring testimony: "I just always knew Jesus, I always loved him, I always followed him, life was good." But it cannot be my goal for my children to love the Lord, because ultimately, I have absolutely no control over that. The Holy Spirit I am not.

So here are my goals for myself to encourage my children to develop a loving relationship with the Lord.

And - first off - I am not batting 100 on these. Not a bit. SuperMissy would do all these things every day. ForRealMissy has good days and bad days.

1) To get my own self in the Word on a regular basis. Because when I am reading it, I am thinking about it, talking about it, and sharing it with my kids. For instance, last week I was reading the story of Korah. Now, I studied Numbers in BSF - and I was a leader too so I must have done my homework (ahem) - so I know I must have read this before. But I did not remember the story of Korah for the life of me! As soon as I read it, I thought, "I cannot wait to tell this to Shep!" And indeed he was so blown away that he asked for paper and markers so he could draw it. He and his sister both shouted "tell us more stories about Moses!" and because it was fresh in my mind, I could rattle off the water from the rock, the bronze snake, and so on. (The Pentateuch is a little boy's best friend: car chases + blood and guts + bugs and snakes.)

The Word of God is contagious, that is just all there is to it. And I want to be a threat to public health.

2) To get the Word in my kids. I won't go on and on about Seeds Family Worship again, except to say Seeds is quite possibly one of the greatest things in the history of mankind and all. If you don't believe me, listen to this. Or this. Or this. Or this.

Another way that my children have memorized scripture is by reading through a book called My ABC Bible Verses: Hide God's Word in Little Hearts by Susan Hunt. They love the stories that go along with the verses. One of the characters is named Missy, which can be a little convicting at times.

And this, The Jesus Storybook Bible. Oh, how I love this bible. The story of the Fall is told so beautifully, I can't read it without crying for what was lost.

3) The catechize them. The catechism was used for hundreds of years to teach children the truths of God, but unless you are Catholic or Presbyterian, you may have never heard of it. The catechism is a set of questions and answers about God and the bible. It's a drill, basically. A Jesus drill.

I love it because I think that in order to love God, we need to know as much about him as possible, and the catechism gets holy truth ingrained in their little heads as surely as their times tables and ABCs. They learn the answers to questions they never even thought to ask.

I also love it because I learn the answers to questions. Both the big kids have starting asking me some real toughies. Now when one of the kids says, "What does God look like?" instead of hemming and hawing, I easily rattle off "God is a spirit and has not a body like men." And we go from there.

It's an antidote to mommy brain.

We use a book called "Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God" also by Susan Hunt. It has the Westminster Shorter Catechism and also little stories throughout, and my children really love these stories. I sit at the table at breakfast and call out the questions, and whoever answers correctly gets a tictac. Minty fresh and spiritual, too!

There are many versions online that can be printed. If you practice infant baptism, look here or here. If you practice believers' baptism, here is a Baptist catechism.

There are also some CDs by Holly Dutton that set it to music. I don't have these. Yet.

Nikki just left me a comment about these CDs too, and if I could do a backflip, I could. But I can't so I will just say I'm REALLY EXCITED TO FIND THEM. And now I can quit bugging all my friends who can sing to make me a catechism CD.

You can start this early - when Eva Rose was 11 months old, if you asked her "Who made you?" She would point her little pudgy arms up and shout, "God!" Don't let the big words scare you. I am telling you, kids get spiritual truths easier than adults do.

We are up to about question 20, although Shep gets a little stuck on "The Bible was written by holy men under the of the Holy Spirit." It is so cute!

4) Pray. A lot. For everything. Especially when we can't obey. This is a huge part of heart-based discipline, which I promise I will write about. But the gist is, to always point them back to the cross, the remind them that they can do no good thing apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.

The rewards of seeing this play out are so amazing. The other day Eva Rose came to me crying about something. When I asked her what it was, she told me she felt guilty about a sin she had committed (I didn't think it was a big deal, but I wasn't going to argue with her conviction.) I pulled her into my lap and said, well, let's pray about it, and she said, "I already did. I already told God I was sorry but I still feel so bad!" That launched into a beautiful discussion about how God had forgiven her because of Christ's work on the cross, and now she was as white as snow, and she no longer needed to feel guilty about it because God had scattered her sins as far as the east is from the west.

It was a beautiful, sweet mommy moment.

And the whole thing happened while I was sitting on the toilet.

Where at least half my major motherhood moments happen.

Those are just a few of my goals.

What else ya got, Mommas??

(Mr. Linky and I are working things out - for now, please leave a comment. I will add you later.)


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