Monday, February 23, 2015

Making the Most of the Younger Years

Recently while the girls were napping, Nathan and I had afternoon tea for the first time. I brought out my beautiful little tea pot and some of our wedding china, made some tea cakes, and enjoyed some precious time with my three year old little boy.

We worked on our manners and we discussed baseball, books, and David & Goliath (his favorite story ever!)

The more I delve into the Word of God, the more I see God's intent for motherhood. With three children ranging in age from 9 weeks to almost 4 years, chaos seems inevitable. And chaos is not an atmosphere for one-on-one quiet time! So if I want to win the hearts of my children, I have to be intentional in exchanging laziness for diligence. I have to do all I can to reject disorder and cultivate order and peace within my home. If this is done, then the stage is set for big opportunities to make the most of the little years and reach my children for Christ. This world will envelop our kids if we, as parents, are not doing our job in winning the hearts of our children.

On the outside, reaching the hearts of our children for Christ when they are small seems a bit much. Why not wait until they are older? As challenging as the younger years are, I firmly believe that if we hesitate to disciple our little ones when they are small, we miss out on vital opportunities to instill the power of the Gospel into their lives. Little ones are sponges and they absorb so much! Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 to "come as little children"and He did that for the purpose of reminding us of a child's inherent, trusting nature. Unlike us adults, children are more apt to believe without the need of physical proof. That's why it is so important that we seize the younger years and use each moment of our day to pour the Gospel into their little hearts, tilling up the ground and planting seeds of faith. 

I wasn't quite ready to hand him a good piece of china, so we practiced with our John Deer mug. :)

I am no creative person. But I'm learning that I don't have to be a Pinterest mom and come up with impressive, blog-worthy ways to make the most of my time with my children. The little tea party I set up was about the extent of my creative ability as a mom! But you don't have to set out china and have tea. You can simply take a ride in the car or bring your children to the park. It doesn't take a lot of planning or a special place, just the heart-felt intent to invite Christ into the moment. Simply set aside a time where you can sit down with you child, one on one. Here are some examples of how we can seize the opportunity to disciple our little ones:

Talk with your children about what God is doing in your life
Children aren't fools. We can tell them what to do all the day long, but if we are not actively pursuing a growing and vibrant relationship with Jesus, they will not be impacted. Open up and be honest with what you are learning in your Christian walk. Recently I was having a very emotionally trying day and every little thing had me on edge. I found myself snapping at my kids and I wasn't very gentle or patient. Finally, I pulled Nathan aside and I apologized for my behavior. I was honest with him and explained that just as I was teaching him to obey those in authority over him, I was also being taught by God to obey Him.

Read your children stories of great men and women of the faith. 
Nathan's favorite stories are Bible stories. He loves the stories of David and Goliath, Daniel, and Joseph. I recently began telling him the story of Richard Wurmbrand. Reading stories of men and women of God who did extraordinary things and endured a lot of persecution builds an understanding of what it means to follow Christ. Don't be deceived into thinking it's too much for them to handle. You can make certain stories age appropriate without dismissing or glossing over any truth. The Holy Spirit will lead you.

Explain the attributes of the Christian life.
We have recently begun memorizing the definitions of love, found in 1 Corinthians 13. As we learn each element of love, I explain what they mean to us and how we can live them out. Love is patient. What is patience? Have I been patient today? What are ways I have not been patient? How can I have more patience? Break it down with your children and give them practical and real-life examples and pictures to understand it better. 

Sing hymns and worship songs, and explain what they mean.
From time to time, I will read from the book of Psalms. Psalms are songs to God and it's one of my favorite books in the Bible. I also love the hymns, so I play them regularly. We listen to praise and worship and lots of great Christian music that are in line with Scripture. It's important to teach our children to sing and praise the Lord, but it's also important to teach them what these songs mean. Pick a song and play it until you all know it by heart. Psalm 40:3 says God, "...hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it..." Let them hear songs of praise and SEE those words come to life in your home day-by-day.

Teach your children to memorize Scripture.
The story of Richard Wurmbrand is a huge example to me when it comes to memorizing Scripture. He was put in prison in Romania for his faith and while there for over 10 years, he was never allowed to have a Bible. That didn't stop him though. He knew a good portion of the Bible by heart and would "read" whole chapters from memory. His wife, Sabina, was also imprisoned for her faith and could also recite passages from memory. She said of her time in prison, "The words gave hope, comfort, life....How I wished I'd learned more of it by heart!" Psalm 119:11 says, "Thy word have I hit in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." As I said earlier, children are sponges and so if we can take the younger years and teach them to memorize Scripture, we build a foundation of faith that they can stand upon later in life. The verses I memorized as a child, I can still quote to you because they were drilled into me at an age where I could learn and retain easily. You can make Scripture memorization fun. You can even use Scripture Songs! However you go about it, make the most of these formidable years to give your kids the gift of God's word.

Never have I ever felt so overwhelmed and ill prepared than in motherhood. Raising little ones is hard, but training them and pointing them to Jesus seems daunting and very, very scary. Yet regardless of how intimidated and busy I may be, God will be faithful to me in my mothering. As long as I step out in obedience and train up my children in His ways, He will be faithful to complete the work He said He would do.

May we all keep working, keep praying, and keep diligently training our children to love Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Macey said...

There are many things I don't agree with when I read your blog but I always appreciate how you raise your children intentionally.


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