Leaning on God’s grace in parenting


How do I start?

It takes a brave women to build a home.  Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.   Each of us has our own style and ways of parenting.  What was once thought essential is now not important.  Fads and methods of raising children change,  but the most impostant thing in the end will be  did our children follow our footsteps in serving God.  Were we able to pass on a legacy of  faith to the next generation?  
If you are like me you are constantly asking yourself,  “Am I enough?”  Am  I doing the right things to shape my children into wonderful adults one day?  Will my mistakes ruin my childrens life?  What does God want to do in me to make me a better believer and a better mother?   Feelings of inadequacy,  or of just being worn out can steal the joy that God intended to give us with children and family. 
We all want our children to walk with Jesus and to grow in the ways of God.  One of the most important things we can do is to fill our homes with unconditional love and the presence of God.   When our children hear us speaking of the good things that God has done and of His wonderful love and mercy their lives will be drawn to the God that we serve.  Playing music that tells of  God’s greatness also sets the atmosphere for your home to welcome in the life of God and to keep your mind centered on Him. 
1 Kor 3.16

What do my children see in me?

I desperately want to be like Jesus.  I want His reflection to flow out of my life as natural as looking into a mirror and seeing  Jesus.  But to be like Jesus I need to be with Jesus.  Te set an example of Christlikeness  I need to keep going back to the source and drinking from the well of living water that Jesus offered.  Our example of a Christ filled life, is the clearest picture that our children will see of Jesus. For us to walk as Christ walked,  we definitely need to have time with Him, and to rely on His Spirit to work in us and to live through us.  
Being connected to the vine is the answer.  “Without me you can do nothing,”  Jesus said when he was describing the vine and the branches. ” Abide in me and  you will bear much fruit. “What kind of fruit do we need in the everyday life of living in a family?  We need the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, patience, gentleness, goodness,  faithfulness and self control.   These things can mature in our lives over time, but the true expression of these fruits come from a life filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Each day as we give ourselves in surrender to God, and ask Him to live through us we get new mercy and strength.  
But what about the times when we blow it?  When we need a time out? Many times I have  felt frustrated over my own failures and short comings.  Yet, I have noticed that when I  keep a humble attitutude, and even admit to my  failures, and ask forgiveness from my children for not walking in the attitude of  Christ ,my  children have  great mercy on me.  And by my own example of needing forgiveness and grace, they   begin to understand that we all need grace… even parents.  And because we need mercy,  we should be quick to give mercy.  

Let the children come unto me and forbid them not… of such is the kingdom of heaven.

When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child, I behaved as a child, but now that I have become a (woman) I have put childish things away….  In the middle of the most famous love chapter 1 Cor 13 we read these words.  What do they speak to you?  Do you remember the silly mistakes of your childhood?   I thought I was a pretty goog  girl,  but I got into my share of scrapes.  I remember putting the motorcycle of my pastors son into the back entrance of the church.   My sister and I thought this was such a great practical joke… but his dad,  the pastor wasn’t amused at all… and we got quite a scolding.   I did foolish things.  I made my share of mistakes and misjudgements.    I had to mature, and put away childish things. My children are in the middle of that same adventure. How can I embrace my  children and still  accept  them  as children? How can I deal with their issues and their failures without  measuring them with  perfectionism?  How can I  still hold them to a high standard  yet let them know that they are God’s children and wonderful bleissings from heaven?  
Sometime motherhood seems more full of questions than answers,  but we have some truths to hold on to: 
 God is our teacher.
 He loves children.
 Jesus wants my child to come to Him , so He can  bless him.  
Jesus wants me to come to Him, so I can be a better mom.
Kids are  sometimes messy, loud,  and seem to be  always seeking our attention.  Do I give my child the time he or she is searching for?  There is a real balance between being there all the time, and letting your child learn that the universe does not center around them.  And sometimes they  just need to learn to wait.  
When my children were young I hovered over them like a mother bird always intent on meeting all of their needs as quickly as possible.  Later I was reading  something by Elizabeth Elliot about  raising children,  and she told how her mother would teach even the youngest child in their home that they sometimes had to wait.  They needed to learn that they would always be loved and cared for, but they hadn’t been throned as  the King of the Palace.  For me this has been a difficult  area to find balance in.   It’s one of the areas that I need grace and wisdom from God.  I don’t want to raise my children to be self centered by waiting on their every want and whim, and I don’t want them to feel unimportant when others are around by always putting others ahead of them. So this is one of the areas I need to keep bringing to the Lord and praying for wisdom and guidance.  
For work at home mothers with younger children,  there is the constant pressure of no breaks.  Can I keep up with work and motherhood?   Sometimes I need a break too.  How can  I keep loving and nurturing them and not get overwhelmed by their constant needs? 
For moms that work out of the home and have thier kids in vrtec there is the deep down questions of am I spending enough time with my babies? When I am with them do I really have to always keep disciplining and reinforcing the boundaries?   Can’t I just take a break and let the little things slide?   Other  moms come at parenting from the other extreme… I  can’t be with my child all the time so I have to be parenting them with all my energy during the times I do have with them…. but the  laundary never ends, and the cleaning up after them doesn’t go away, and the cooking seems endless.. so how can I make the most of the time I do have with my kids? 
There is no perfect way of raising children or parenting.  But each of us needs to find the best rhythm and plans that works in our life for our family.  We have to trust God with the things that we can not change, and learn to trust Him to help us to parent with His grace and wisdom.   We need to keep going back to the most important things.  Am I letting Jesus fill me up with His stretngth so I can parent His way?  Am I letting go of my own mistakes and trusting in His grace and forgiveness?  Am I growing in my role of motherhood,  and giving to others the encouragement they may need in parenting?  
As my children are getting older wisdom is one of the things that we are talking about and looking at in Proverbs.  There are so many verses that talk about choosing to live wisely by honoring others and treating them with kindness and respect.  Jesus loves each of  His children.  Isn’t it great that He never is too busy for us.  Yet,  even though he has the power to change our circumstances immediately through our prayers, sometimes he allows us to grow in faith and patience rather than immediately giving us our requests.  Yet we know we are not alone.  He is there.  He is love.
We are moms, and yet we are still under God’s discipline (His guidance,  loving correction and encouragement)  as His beloved daughters.  God is  a good  Father and he says, that who he loves he disciplines as a son.  The kind of discipline that God uses on us depends on how we respond to His urgings and guidance.  If we are a close son  or daughter who lives in obedience to our Father,  He will nudge us gently.  This nudge may be  to change directions or to share about Christ with someone, or to give of our time, resources or money to someone in need.  But if we are strong willed He may use stronger ways to get our attention.  He loves us so much He doesn’t want us to stay in our own willfulness and selfish ways.  In the same way  we are called by example to teach our children about unselfish living, generosity and loving those around us.
 We also can expect our children to grow in these areas as they mature.  He who controls himself is greater than he who takes a city… Proverbs 17:   .  Loving our children is teaching them to become Christlike and generous and to be thoughtful of others.  
There are many ways the our kids receive love.  As we watch them we can look into their soul and see how they give love and respond to love. One of the most  special ways we have to give love is found in our regular times spent with them, when they know that they have our complete attention, and that we enjoy them.  That can include listening to them and watching them perform for us, reading a book together,  or just being together and cuddling with them on the couch.  Each child has different needs for love.  Each one of them expresses love differently  and accepts love differently.  All  children need our encouragement, but some children thrive on words of blessing.  For them your praise feeds their love tank and will rise up like flowers to face the sunshine of our words of approval.   Others feel loved when we do a project with them.  Some receive love by having special time talking and communication when we give them quality time.  Others need a hug, or our hand resting on their back while we talk.  For them our touch speaks love to them.  Some children receive love through gifts.  If you see your child loving to give gifts to the people that he or she loves,  you have a good clue into the heart of your child.  Many times our child shows love in the way that they want to receive love.   Gift giving doesn’t need to be in big things.  Maybe something so small as a craft you made together,  or a homeade sweet,  sladoled,  a card or flower….. little things bring delight to children who receive love through gifts.  

Watch and Pray

We can watch our children and pray for them.  As we see their weaknesses we can lift this up to the Lord and ask Him to help them in these areas.  As we locate their strengths we can pray for these areas to be developed and to be put under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Even their strengths can be their downfall if they do not use them wisely.  I think of Elvis, who came from a Christian home, and obviously had a great gift of music.  What if he had used all of his talent and his energy to promote the King of Kings and the Kingdom of God?  What an influence he could have been.  So it is important to pray that  God will be Lord of All in our childrens lives, their talents,their education, their relationships and in everything.  

Whatever is good, true, honest, just, pure, lovely of good report: Think on these things!

Keep smiling and enjoying the time you have with your kids.  Don’t sweat the little stuff.  Major on the positives.    They will grow up quickly and they can tell if you are under stress or if you are really at peace and enjoying life, and enjoying them.   If our lives are in turmoil they can sence that.  So keep your heart free from bitterness and unforgiveness.  Keep your attitudes positive and uplifting.  Keep a song in your heart and love in your hugs and remember that  Children are a blessing from the Lord!