Sitting here before my kids get up praying for them, our day, and reading this morning’s Spurgeon and the Lord WOKE ME UP. We had a very bad day yesterday with Jael and He showed me this in today’s reading:
“You will never find true faith unattended by true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life which has not for it’s root a living faith upon the righteousness of Christ.”
We have been struggling with Jael so much and my question this morning to the Lord was, “How do you instill a desire to obey? How do you show your children that obedience is valuable?” I’m sure many a parent has prayed those same words. Cried those words. Screamed those words. This morning, they poured out from a heart that is tired, sad, and longing for her sweet firstborn to be a joy-filled, care free, Jesus-loving, obedient child. I know that some of you are shaking your heads – Three year olds just simply aren’t obedient, Erin. - but I believe in training our children now, even when we don’t see fruit.
Well, the Lord answered me. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” [Ps. 34:4] After my mommy plea to Him, He gently said, “You LOVE first. Obedience comes out of a value in the one giving the orders.” Then the past few weeks came crashing into my face. I have been such a Martha. I have so much to do, so many tasks on my list, that I have been oblivious to the effect it has been having on my sweet babies.
Jael is a lover. She LOVES people and has a heart for loving them. [One time, she brushed her sweet little hand down the side of the face of an older woman that my mother-in-law knew – but Jael and I did not – and told her, “You are so beautiful.”] She wants your attention all.the.time. She is a storyteller and wants you to hear every word. If she thinks you didn’t, she will either start over or repeat the last couple sentences. She is a ham, performer, and wants you to watch. She is passionate and enthusiastic, often speaking as if she is about to reveal the most mind-blowing thing you’ve ever heard.
Elijah is a cuddle bug. If you are accessible, he wants to be in your arms or lap. If you aren’t accessible, he cries and screams until you are. He is a mommy’s boy. He loves hugs and brushing his hand around my neck when I am singing him to bed. He is a boy in the greatest sense of the word – he loves trucks, planes, the movie Cars, climbing, jumping, yelling, dirt, eating, and doesn’t mind his diaper sagging down to the floor. His laugh is contagious and should be recorded for movies. It is simply the sound of pure delight. He surprises us with random moments of independence. Often, we will find him sitting in the quiet darkness of the hall, all by himself, doing nothing but sitting still in the quiet. He LOVES his sister and copies her all the time. He chases her and plays with her, but sometimes her energy frustrates him and then wants nothing to do with her.
And when I don’t give them the time and LOVE they need, all of that turns into a sobbing, scream-fest. They cry, fight, complain, and disobey. And I have been punishing, lecturing, grounding [yes, my 3.5 year old Jael gets grounded from dress up clothes – y’all, it works for her ;) ], and doing all that I can to try and get them to get it. For obedience to finally click. For understanding that hitting your mom or pushing your brother is just not nice and not okay. But it won’t sink in. And I get frustrated and the cycle starts all over again.
And what the Lord was showing me this morning was that I have to love my kids first. That I can’t expect a “holy life” without first instilling the love of Christ into them. Loving them through the Spirit in patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and especially with joy and peace. Is it easy? By no means! But it was like a crack in the foggy glass over my eyes this morning that revealed the fact that I have been ignoring the call to slow down and embracing a busy, hurried, and frazzled life. Which has led to ignoring my kids’ needs and not loving them well.
Do you ever feel this way? If you do, maybe you’d like to pray the prayer I prayed this morning. This is my desire to my kids always and forever:
Lord, help me to raise my children well. Help me to be the mother you wanted me to be [and knew I could be] when you gave them to me. There is a reason Jael and Elijah are mine, and I pray that you shape me into the parent that they need. You declared me ABLE to be their mommy when you chose to place them in my womb. Cultivate the traits and character in me that are uniquely valuable to their lives.
Be encouraged today, friends. xo