I wondered which of the 400 saved blog drafts I’d bring to life when I decided to request a new password & fire this thing back up. Ironically, I chose zero of them. Too topical-too soon-too opinionated are many of them, so we will wait until God prompts me to fire them from the cannon. Until then you get this one.
Back in August I took my 16 year son shopping for school clothes. A task that we both equally hate. We decided the bulk of our shopping would occur in one place….the beloved, frantic, tourist attraction called our local outlet mall. We had a mission & a plan. As we approached several stores that were not a part of the game plan, we’d step inside a particular place, look around, look at each other & say “eh, we will waste our time here” or just a “nah”, then head back out the door. On one of the last doors we opened, there were people inside elbow throwing & appearing they would shank you for $8 t-shirts. We decided asap to get out of dodge. Upon leaving, my son was laughing & said something I haven’t forgotten since he uttered the words. He said, “we are so much alike. I have adopted the same things that you like/dislike.” Adopted? Whah? All of my life we hear about the things that our kids inherit from us, like it’s a natural thing to just have our tendencies birthed into them, but how often do parents really sit & understand that these children we’ve been blessed & entrusted to raise are actually sponging off of us…..continuously, always, forever, “adopting” the characteristics & behaviors of who we are, what we say, how we respond to life & it’s issues; horrific isn’t it? That’s why parents have to make a choice to be leaders, examples & guides…..NOT BFF’s, in order to have your children become what you want them to be. There’s no miracle that’s going to swoop in & allow you to what you please on a daily basis & expect the kids will just magically be different. The things you dislike in your children & their behavior is likely the traits in you that other people don’t care for very much. You can’t tolerate your kids behaving or reacting a certain way. You don’t like their choices. You don’t like their tone of voice. Why? Because it’s YOU. Maybe it’s you from last year or you from when they were toddlers, but at some point an icky you got deposited into them. And because no one ever stopped the cycle, it will go on until one day someone decides this is not how it’s going to be.
Last year my husband & I did a small group Bible study by Kyle Idleman, based on his wonderful & highly recommended book, Not A Fan. In one of the video excerpts there was a gentleman who was speaking about his daughter, late teen/college aged, & how he & his wife couldn’t for the life of themselves understand her. She was making terrible choices & decisions, she was rebellious, acting out. She was very opposite of a Christian girl. A girl they felt they’d failed raising. He stated how baffled he had been because they had done everything (wait for it) TO RAISE HER IN CHURCH, so where did they steer wrong? The epiphany for him was yes they had raised her IN CHURCH, with a list of sins & dont’s & legalism possibly, but what they’d failed to do was raise her IN CHRIST! You see my friends, this & only this, is the game changer.
I was encouraged to write this based on something I found yesterday, manically cleaning out a drawer. When I looked at it I wondered, “why on Earth would I keep this, it’s horrible” & I placed it to the side for the recycling pile. After a few minutes I felt that God was really prompting me to take a look at it again & to be still & reflect over it. So I did. Then God prompted me to share it. Then I said in return, “no way. it’s embarrassing & I don’t want to do it.” So like God always does, He continued to pick at me until I sat down & typed this blog. The main reason I felt the leading to share this with you, from the obedience standpoint, is as always, because He knows someone out there needs to read & hear it. And as always, whoever you are, you’ll message me right after you read this. So allow my honesty during a time that was anything but a blissful season, to enrich you.
In a million words or less, here’s the back story. Shortly after G was released from being home bound after the NICU, we started attending church as a family for the 1st time. 1st time like, in ever. She was around 3mths old. After being in church a few months I felt led to start taking women’s ministry Bible study classes, from there God took over. See for 6months the teen child refused to even entertain the idea of youth group. R.E.F.U.S.E.D. You literally could not even bring it up or lovingly suggest it. I was beside myself & heart broken & felt like a failure. I had prayed & brought God into his life, his entire life, literally EVERY day since birth (no lie), but never church because the church burned me & I did not like the church OR the hypocrites who inhabited its walls, but I had failed him in that area. I had home churched for his entire life & what I had done was teach him to “believe in” God vs actually believing God. I had taught him to pray by presenting God a list of wants, like He was a genie & expecting that because we asked for ANYTHING we’d get it vs asking for anything that was God’s will & being submitted to that. I taught him portions of the “don’t list” vs the do list that Jesus commands us to live by; so imagine my gut wrenching sickness as I tried to find Jesus again with a refusing, unsaved son & an unsaved husband & a baby with medical needs & unknowns out the woo woo. Oh it was a grand time let me tell you. I cried no less than 150 rivers a month.
During that time I drummed up the
absurd fantastic idea to start having weekly family mtgs & prayer sessions (you’ll see outline below). Met with uber resistance from the guys ok. Lots of sighing & eye rolling. Nonetheless, I continued to have the mtgs. I continued to place the guys embarrassingly, on my Sunday prayer card for the staff EVERY week, I placed them EVERY Wed morn on my women’s ministry prayer card, I had them on every list where I had a prayer warrior as a friend. I prayed in faith, believing nonstop, all day, every day for a miracle for he & J to really seek God, the truth of God, not what people tell us to think or believe. I took my frustrations to God, to my small group & to my pastor, but I tried to never bring pressure & disappointment to them. I wanted God to move in their lives, but only upon their acceptance & never because they’d been “scared into it” because of the hell factor or because they were kindly “doing me a favor” to shut me up- there’s gigantic failure in that y’all. Eternal failure. So I had to utilize faith/grace/mercy/self control & for someone like me, these are the complete opposite characteristics of who I am, but they were the very things that God would use to redeem us.
One day in March a miracle happened. The guys were on spring break & picked me up from bible study. I was in the parking lot talking to the youth minister, about my son of course, when they pulled up. He jumped out of the car & came over. (very unlike him at that time, as he always avoided any contact with the youth pastor as to not have to lie about why he didn’t want to accept an invite to what he coined “a corny youth group of campy kids who he felt smarter & more mature than” ugh, seriously on that) The youth pastor said hi to him, made small talk, then invited him to a youth night concert held at another venue. I was waiting for the ok we’ll see answer, however he looked at me & said, “mom can I go?” And right there, I about died of shock in the parking lot. He started the following Sunday attending youth group every Sunday/Wednesday. 6 months after that concert and 1 yr after we’d started church, he was full time in the youth program & came to Christ & asked to be baptized at the beach. He started volunteering in the park with me, almost every Sat. building friendships with those in our homeless community & doing Feeding Children Everywhere events. The following summer he was in Costa Rica on his 1st of 2 mission trips installing water filtration systems & speaking about Jesus to several hundred kids & adults, excitedly using his honor’s Spanish. 4mnths after he made his decision, J came forward as well (another blog for another time) It’s really awesome when you see prayers come to fruition in front of your eyes.
I share all this because someone out there is dealing with this exact same journey we took/have taken/are still taking. Maybe not the exact same, but the same feelings & the same heart cry/prayer request. Or maybe you’re too embarrassed to let people know you are dealing with it. I share this because someone needs to know that you may think your prayers are not being heard, because you aren’t seeing any results, like God is silent, but it isn’t the case. You can raise your kids however you want, but if your interested in raising them in Christ, I truly & firmly believe you need to do 4 things. Well, you actually need to do more than 4, but these were the 4 that made the puzzle pieces connect for us & they’re still connecting. We will always, always be a work in progress because life is not easy, so please do not think I post this from a self righteous, we have it all together stand point. Not even close.(and again, if you are not a believer & you are reading this, I understand the absurdity of it all, I really do, however the nice thing about choices is that you can choose not to read this, but you did, so thanks for being entertained)
My 4 of 4 million:
- Pray incessantly, believing. Like truly believing. Not a half, I think it could happen, but I know it will never happen, prayer. That’s not faith. That’s called doubt. Don’t do that. If you don’t know how to pray & believe, then ask God to change you, so you can understand what truly trusting in His will & timing means & ask Him to sustain you during the journey.
- Don’t pressure them & don’t bring up their doom & damnation to hell; it’s dumb & you’re going to push them away. You will never be productive for God’s kingdom with your voice raised, finger pointed & throwing scripture darts & stones with your hateful angry face on. You just won’t. Ever. They & everyone else will reject you.
- Live by example. Live by the standards you set for your kids & every other human on the planet you think is a sinner who God is coming to banish unless “everyone else” changes their sinner ways. Try changing you 1st, watch what happens. If Jesus is so great, why hasn’t he visibly changed YOUR life? Anyone can post scripture on Facebook to make other people feel bad, which is so bad by the way. Try actually doing what scripture says for YOU to do vs always expecting your kids too because you & God say so. If Jesus life & ministry is that real to you, why do you only serve the saved & condemn the unsaved, IN.FRONT.OF.YOUR.KIDS. It’s Not your job yo. Check out these verses for a refresher, they are applicable to Christians holding OTHER CHRISTIANS accountable, not Christians playing Jr God to the least of these. Go look for yourself, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, I especially like the NLT version. If God is so great why don’t some of you attend church; why do you drop your kids off at church expecting it’s someone else’s job to grow them in the word? If this group of people are truly untrustworthy, hypocritical, back stabbing, brain washers, then what the crap are you doing allowing freaks such as those to TEACH & CARE for your kids? Think about that.
- Lastly, again do not raise your kids in church…raise them in Christ. Don’t assume that your kid making a confession of faith at 5yrs old is going to just “hold up” in the treacherous yrs ahead like a get out of hell free card. Give your kids a do list vs the don’t do doomed to hell list. Once they live like Christ, the desire of their hearts will change. Take the Beatitudes or anything Jesus said DO & teach your kids to follow that guideline. Nothing bad has every come from loving God, loving people, serving the poor & lonely, being humble, full of grace & mercy…trust me. There’s no reason to over complicate this y’all. You teach your kids the Do’s & the Do Not list isn’t so desirable to cross over & mess around with.
I have attached 2 pics below. They really reflect one another like oil & water. You’ll notice on the 1st pic, the outline when I started family mtgs. The mtgs eventually became a blessing to me in many areas, at 1st not so much, as you will see. We always had a week to prepare our list leisurely for said mtg. Here’s what I had to contend with from the teenager. Notice the youth group=no thanks portrait. Good times. Feel free to use your zoom feature.
And then praise God, life allows you to experience something like THIS pic. Your heart almost bursts with a much different type of gratitude & you never doubt the hand of God over every thing in your life ever again. This picture reminds me of Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations”