"Mom, if there is one place in the world where I fit, it is in our family--wherever we are, whatever we are doing. It's not about the place, it is about belonging to each other, "getting" each other, accepting each other, and celebrating life together. That is what I most miss about being at home."
~an unnamed child in our home :)
As I pack Joy's bags with her and ready Joel to move to Oxford, we have been having long, lingering talks on the front porch after our evening walks.
"What has meant the most to you about home and what made you feel loved?"
These are some of the things we have pondered.
Their answer, "The time you spent talking to us, like this, every night, friend time in the summer.'
*Laying with us in our beds talking at nights.
*Dinnertime every night, together, talking, shaping our souls around the same conversations."
*Listening to me when I had things I needed to talk to someone about.
There are so many ways we have discussed the past days. But I think most of all, it is the time invested over and over again, when it requires patience on our part and no one sees.
It is the service of making meals, changing diapers, getting up with a child who cannot sleep or has an ear infection, getting on the floor and playing a board game or helping a girl find the right gift for the birthday party for a friend, drying tears, staying up late with a teen past, you past exhaustion, and listening to their despair of loneliness and assuring them they will indeed find kindred spirits, .
The way of love is not only a commitment in our hearts that says, "Of course I love you, you are my child." But a giving of ourselves day after day, so that others might feel His love, His grace, His hands of comfort and His words.
Every child needs and longs for a place to belong, a people to be a part of, a place to feel at ease, affirmation for who they are as they are, amidst all their failures, all their flaws--
a sanctuary that gives abundant life and love and protects from all the evils that lurk outside the walls of that home.
Love should be the very air that our children breathe, the atmosphere, the foundation from which all other character is trained, from which all instruction comes.
That kind of love pervading the atmosphere of life requires one who conducts it intentionally through all the moments of the days and years. And then when love fails, nurtures hearts of forgiveness, grace and freedom and picks right back up again.
So often, we want to just have life be defined by formulas to keep, rules to follow, neat patterns by which to live. Or perhaps we want to give love in one fell swoop--a present at Christmas, a card and candy at Valentines day. But that kind of love cheapens the love that Jesus modeled when he came to serve, gave up his rights and them died for us quietly, generously.
I even think many parents are suspicious about the idea of loving their children too freely. We hear the admonitions ...
"Well, you don't want to spoil them and flatter them too much!"
Jesus loved His disciples so well that they were willing to give their lives for His cause.
I am not speaking about false flattery. I am speaking of generous, committed, serving, sacrificial love--which was the basis of God's love for us.
Shouldn't it be the basis for our love for our children?
If we really studied, pondered, cherished, and applied the ways of Jesus' love as it is shown in scripture, wouldn't the way we parent--especially the way we mother-- look different?
WHY IS IT WE APPLY SCRIPTURE DIFFERENTLY TO OUR CHILDREN THAN TO ANYONE ELSE?
If we were made for love, and if love is the foundational need in the deep places of our hearts, then knowing that our children have this need, should shape how we seek to influence them.
Jesus Himself said, "They will know you by your love for one another."
Not only the world will know us as believers by our love for one another, our children, our friends, our spouses will also measure and assess in their hearts the reality of God, by how much we display His love in our home.
How does this apply to the way we parent our children or love our spouses, or serve our neighbors?
I have written out many verses from scripture on loving today. If these verses go deep into our hearts, penetrate our very being; if we ponder Jesus and understand Him, then we will understand that deep, abiding love is the culture around which our homes should be built.
It is through establishing a "love culture" in our homes that our children will be taught what God is really like.
"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
~I Corinthians 13: 4-8
"Love is a perfect bond of unity."
"Love covers a multitude of sins."
~I Peter 4:8
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you."
"If I have done this to you," (girding Himself with a towel and washing the feet of His disciples before He also died for them on the cross) "so you should also do this to one another."
HOW DO WE MODEL SERVANT LEADERSHIP TO OUR CHILDREN? HOW DO WE LOVE THAT MUCH?
It is what reached the disciples' hearts, so that they gave their lives to His cause. Is this the secret to our influence over our own children's hearts as well?
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
" 'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Perhaps we are to love our children as much as we love ourselves; to lay down our lives for them. Jesus surely meant that it was the basis for relating to all people-- not just others, but our own family!
“For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Are we willing to give up as much for our children as God gave up for us?
" ... but God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
His love covered us when we were still failing, stumbling, wallowing in our selfishness. God, as our Father, saved us while we were still in our sin. What does this imply about us being parents to our own sinful children? That we show love while they are yet sinners.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Is there any attitude or action that can separate your child from you, from your love, or is your love generous and consistent, forgiving, long-suffering?
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
This is the hardest--the giving up of ourselves as He did for us.
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are."
~1 John 3:1
Hope you enjoy our podcast this week. We so appreciate it when you share it with your friends. Your comments and letters have meant so much to Kristen and me!
For more encouragement on Shaping a Home Culture of Love, read The Life Giving Home! Check it out on the sidebar.