Monday, March 14, 2011

Decals & Decisions

This post has been heavy on my heart for the past year and I have been in prayer about what to say as well as keeping a journal of thoughts on what I see around me and what I am always learning to be true of what God asks of us as parents. Yet, parenting is one of those very personal topics that many people do not like talk about. Everyone does it different, everyone thinks different types of behavior are acceptable, yet everyone seems to have an opinion!

When we first moved to this part of the country, I began noticing decals on the back windows of many cars that "advertised" different activities with which the children of that family were involved. I honestly did not put that much thought into it, until I was at a mom's group and a speaker shared about how the advertisement of all our children's accomplishments disheartened her because she never saw decals boasting in t
he Lord for His work in our children's lives. Decals for their day of salvation or for them reaching a goal of 100 verses memorized just to name a few examples. Honestly even those decals would be quite ironic, because God's word says for us to boast in our weaknesses and I have yet to see a decal that says "too often impatient mama at the wheel" or "brothers who aggravate each other too much."

I don't have a strong feeling against the whole decal thing, it just happened to be something that sparked in me an opportunity to think beyond
just the decal.

As my little brood of blessings has grown and my husband and I continue to seek how to raise our young men how God intended us to, I find myself asking the question, "Why did we want to have children?"
The 'spiritual' answer would be to obey God's command in Genesis 1:22 "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth..." But was that the REAL reason we wanted to have children? Was it the social question we kept getting, "When are y'all going to have kids?" Was it the feeling that it was just the next step in the journey? Honestly, hadn't we heard how hard it was, how much money it cost, how much time it takes and how much different so many aspects of our marriage would be after the kids come along! Yes, of course, we had heard it all.
We wanted to leave a legacy. We wanted something more purposeful to pour our lives into than what we felt we were doing at the time. For us it was a longing to build a home and family in which we could live out and teach what God had placed in our hearts to do. That is where our journey of parenthood started. We didn't mind if they were biological or not, our hearts just beat for children. It took three and a half years to conceive our first-born and soon before we found out we were expecting we began to pray for new eyes to see what else God had in store for us besides children. Use us in any way you want with or without kids~ that was my prayer.

My womb has been blessed four times with the reward of children, although we have only met three of them. We have left that to God's hand and each time we have another child I have an overwhelming feeling of being trusted yet again with a precious life that God has given to me temporarily here on this earth. I am amazed at His vote of confidence in us to raise them up in righteousness.
So as life has continued moving at a high rate of speed, I have begun to notice how all the non-essential things of raising children seem to sometimes get in the way. Which leads to less focus on that which God says really matters.

Deuteronomy 6: 5-9
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the door post of your house and on your gates.

Being a parent who is going to leave a godly legacy means that we have to make the hard decisions NOW, when they are young and still in our home. The greatest pressure I often feel as a parent is that my children need to see an attractive model of following after God without reservation! Our life MUST show them that it is absolutely worth it. It is my responsibility to make the hard decisions for them now, so they know how to do it for themselves later.

Is it fun? No. Is it easy? No. I must decide about the movies, books, dance costumes, Halloween costumes or no costumes, friends, sports teams, make-up, birthday parties, concerts, t.v., clothes....everything! My lens has to be a narrow one, where God is filtering it all because they do not have that kind of filter yet. Even when they give their lives to the Lordship of Christ, we still must disciple them in their Christian walk.

Training our children in righteousness means choosing to live a life of righteousness on ALL fronts, even the hard ones. Even the ones that leave us as a bit of a social misfit. I want my boys to be able to say no, because they saw us say no and our lives still made sense. Why? Because it was being lived wholly for the glory of God. On paper it seems not so hard and maybe even inspiring. In shoe leather it is a whole different story. We will have to defend our choices that seem against the grain of culture, we will be questioned and need to be ready to give an account for the hope that lies within us. We need to know we will make some wrong decisions, but God's grace will redeem.

The extras in childhood are not bad in and of themselves, but the focus is what we must keep in constant accountability. The "why" of our decisions matter because it will greatly affect the "who" our children will grow to be someday. I will never make perfect decisions and I will never have it all put together. I will constantly need God to reveal the true state of my heart so that I can live attractively for Him. I will find more pressure and less support as the world continues on because we know that it only becomes harder to live fully surrendered to the cause of Christ. But isn't that why we are all here in the first place?

So I ask myself each day, who is getting first place today, Melissa? Which decal are you advertising today by the decisions you make for you and your children?


Willow said...

Beautifully said Melissa. :)

Mark and Laura said...

Thanks for your challenging words.

I've sent you a couple of emails to the address you sent me most recently and haven't heard back. Just wondering if you got them. Hope to hear from you again soon.


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