Working together with our children models the truth we are trying to teach them.
What a whirlwind week I have had with so many wonderful well-wishes, gifts, flowers and celebration of my 60th birthday. All of your letters, comments and cards have truly encouraged my heart and made me feel quite loved.
Saturday night, we gathered with some close friends and my sweet children and Clay. According to our tradition, everyone tells the birthday person why they appreciate them or how they have been blessed and then the birthday person gets prayed for and blessed by all who are at the celebration. We have practiced this for many years and we have seen our children's souls practically burst with the goodness of life-giving words and prayers just for them.
All of my children communicated the most wonderful blessings to me. Nathan said, "Mom, as I look back on my life, I am beginning to realize just how much time you invested in our lives. From daily devotions, manners, learning to do chores, educating us, correcting us, providing lessons and leadership opportunities and counseling us on every possible subject. I just want to thank you for investing so much time and giving up yourself to make my life strong. Everywhere I go, I hear your voice wisely telling me what to do."
As I have been pondering all of these wonderful words of life given to me this weekend, I have realized that investing in a child's life, mind, soul, heart, habits, education, takes lots and lots of time and training. But the daily training--NO not this, but this; no not this, but this, ........(a thousand and thousand times)! This is what it takes to shape a strong soul.
Self-actualization is a term that has come up in conversation a lot this week. All of my children have talked about how they grew into thinking they could bring light to their dark world because of the way we trained them and talked to them, over and over again. .This idea means giving your children a real sense, inside, of who they are, what they were created to do, understanding their amazing capacity to live life with redemption and influence by living in to God's will and owning His design for their lives.
We work with a cooperative spirit, freely giving and receiving help.
"This week's Way, number 15, is all about giving your child a sense of being a servant leader. Part of perceiving oneself as a leader is thinking inside that God has made them to serve and that it is a glory of a person to serve well. But another aspect of this perception is building a strong family sense of community.
Each morning, after breakfast, I would put on lively music and have all of the kids do the same chore to restore our house to order before we began the day. We would all rock out together on the same songs while one put the dishes in the dishwasher, another swept, another straightened the room where we would be reading, etc. I would, as often as possible--(we all have grumpy, discombobulated days!)--but mostly, I would thank them.
Before we had guests, each of us would have an area of picking up, setting the table, putting up a personal welcome sign, (welcome, Joel!--or whatever), lighting candles. And I would tell them how much I appreciated them making our home so beautiful.
Our ministry conferences, each had tasks. Little ones would welcome moms with a basket of chocolate they would pass out. Older kids would run the book tables. Each year, all of them had to give a short talk, greeting, song or prayer at the conferences. "You all are the best book people will ever read. The Clarksons together, are used by God, to help mamas all over the world, to see how important it is to raise their children for God's glory and to build a strong generation.
As a matter of fact, having our children serve together for many, many years is one of the key components to the reason they all have a perception that God has also called them to impact their worlds for God's kingdom.They heard these messages in our devotionals, they heard us speak them to adults at conferences and they practiced right beside us, doing what we were teaching them.
Teaching the passages of Jesus when he laid down his life and served others, (feeding the 5 thousand and seeing how God used even a little boy to serve in a miraculous way, holding the children, healing lepers and those who were weak, etc.) and then I would often say to my children, "God is making you so strong inside. You are such a help to your little sister or you have worked so hard. Just like Jesus!" or "I couldn't do without your help." or "I know that God made you to be so strong inside--you are such a help and you have been so cooperative today. I couldn't have such a wonderful house without your help. Thanks so much."
A big part of our perception of serving when we are older and humbly helping others comes from practicing helping others and hearing about the importance of serving others when they are young.
"Two are better than one, because they have good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.But woe to the one who falls when there was not another to pick him up." Ecc. 4:9-10
As you learn the truth of this way, have a grid to encourage your children that family is always to help each other, and that they are so very precious to be willing to serve others. Giving your child a self-image of perceiving that God wants to use them in their world, will shape their work and service the rest of their lives. Giving them practice to serve each other will build strong relationships between siblings when they grow up.