Julian Aiden Weir Autumn Rain The leaves are starting to turn from various shades of green to vibrant oranges, golds, and reds. Crisp morning air greets us as we close the bedroom windows, before heading downstairs to brew a hot cup of tea! A fresh, new season is just around the corner! As many families prepare to go "back to school," our hearts wonder what God has in store for us next, what classes He has enrolled us in. Is it "Patience 101" again?! Will I learn more about His love? Grace? Discipline? I am in his school room of holiness as I model and teach my own how to walk daily with Him.
Fall has always felt to me like the real "new year" and I have great anticipation to have a new slate, with, as Anne of Green gables said, with no mistakes made yet, all new possibilities. So it is exciting to see how the schedule will come together and what we will pursue in the way of commitments and activities.
Fall is also a strategic time to reflect on our children's character and our own. Making sure my calendar is not so crammed with activities and lessons that the only time I have with Joy is in the car is a filter for the commitments I am willing to make.
Fall is a reflective season in which to take some time to pray over each of my children, asking the Lord for wisdom in how to help each child grow in their faith--those who are in my house and those who are far away. I ask God to show me their potential, their gifts, their temptations, the areas in which they need to grow. Wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit, who has access to my children's hearts, minds and souls. As I read the word and pray, He impresses me with those thoughts that lead me to be a more intentional leader and mentor of each of them with their own unique personalities and needs.
Joy will finish her formal schooling in May. It will mark for me the end of my commitment to homeschooling, which started 26 years ago, so I want to end well. As an extrovert, she would like to be busy every day, every minute! Participating in a 3 practices a week drama troop, with many performances this fall (The Importance of Being Ernest), will keep her quite busy. Added to that is dance, her history group, Inklings group, piano lessons, voice and small discipleship group, and we are pretty booked--let alone my own ministry schedule which I fit in between her commitments. She wanted to take some more outside classes (she is a driven personality--easy to finish on!)
But this will be my last focused opportunity to really drive home the deep messages of Christ, to read the last round of great books, to cultivate discussion, to build into her heart, to have those last cozy tea times, just Joy and me, and watch the Holy Spirit turn our time into memories that will feed her soul for her whole life.
So, I limited her from signing up for college pathways, the two classes her friends were taking. Why? Not because they were not good classes, but they would have robbed me from the chance to intentionally use this year to touch her heart for eternity! Probably, for me it would have been easier if she could have taken outside classes that I didn't have to teach, and I have certainly loved so many of our coop classes that she has taken.
But, I prayed about my schedule and really felt the Lord tell me to "Make time for building into her life." And so I am planning and choosing books and arranging some social gatherings in our home that will make this a great year for her and for me.
In light of this, I thought I would share with you some of my previous thoughts about my own children as I was discipling them through the teen years. Chapter 6 in The Ministry of Motherhood is devoted to inspiring a sense of purpose in our children's lives. In that chapter, I tell about how then sixteen-year-old Joel and I discussed his possible career choices. Here is an excerpt from pages 72 and 73:
Jesus' work in a person's life has always begun with a call to leave behind the goals, purposes, and distractions of this world and to say yes to a whole new life, a new way of thinking. "Follow me" is what he told the disciples as he recruited them. And they did, abandoning their fishing nets, their tax-collector's moneybags, their permanent homes, their everyday duties and pleasures. And they never went back. Sure, they still did a little fishing from time to time! But once they made the choice to follow Jesus, their lives were forever changed. They never returned to "normal."
I think this is vital for us to keep in mind as Christians and as parents. We know we are called to follow Christ, to take his message to the world, to raise our children to heed Jesus' call. But sometimes I think we fail to consider that following the Lord might mean leaving behind the ordinary and the familiar. It means exchanging a temporal view of life for an eternal goal. And this may mean leaving behind things we really care about -- involvements and pursuits that seem important and worthwhile but may not be God's best for us.
Part of giving the gift of inspiration is helping our children understand this -- and perhaps reminding ourselves. To fulfill God's design for their lives, our precious children must at some point determine to give Jesus allegiance in every aspect of their lives. There is a cost to discipleship, and that cost is everything!
Exchanging a temporal view of life for an eternal goal. Our lives will not reflect the world's values. As mothers, we are life-givers. Our culture encourages us to live for the moment. But how does that give life? How can being selfish bring about an eternal goal of holiness? Many times we allow a behavior to continue, thinking we will "get back to it" when it is more convenient, but does that time ever come? We want to give our children every possible opportunity to be creative, to find their strengths and weaknesses. Do we ask why we are involved in so many activities? Will this produce eternal fruit? Or just weariness? Sometimes we need to take a break from our normal routine to see just how out of control we are. Sometimes the Lord allows something into our lives to slow us down, to help us focus on what He really wants us to do.
As Christian moms, our hearts' desire is to follow the Lord and do His will. We want to set a godly example for our children. God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, but we need to make ourselves available to Him. When we surround ourselves with busyness, we cannot hear His still small voice. Let's look at some Scriptures that remind us of who He wants us to be.
Some Biblical Wisdom
Philippians 1:6 says, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
What will God do in your life? When will He finish that work? How does this encourage you in your walk with Him and in your children's spiritual growth?
Meditate on these words from Isaiah 55:8-9: "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord.
'For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.'"
Can you think of a situation where God's ways were not your ways? Why are His ways better than our ways?
Ephesians 2:10 is a great reminder that the Lord has a plan for our lives:
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
Who are we? We are created in Christ for what? Who prepared the works for us to do? What work has God created you to do? Does God know why He has given your child his or her particular personality? Does He have a plan for leading them to their life's work? How can you encourage each child to pursue what God has uniquely prepared him or her to do?
Put together a puzzle with your children. Leave a couple of pieces out so the puzzle cannot be completed. Use this to explain:
- How God has specific good works He wants each of us to do. If we do not do those works, there will be "holes" in our ministry to others? What will be the holes in the lives of others that could have been filled if we had followed God?.
- How God wants us to surrender our entire lives, not just certain pieces. He wants us to be complete in Him.
- If our life was a puzzle, God would keep working in our life until it was complete. He would not give up!
As you pray over your children, take time to listen to God's voice. Is this the school year to simplify and focus on things of eternal value instead of trying to do it all? Is this the season to fall into His arms and just rest? May the Lord give you wisdom as you seek His purpose in your life!