As the only girl with two older brothers, and having rarely babysat, I just did not have any experience with little children, let alone babies. at 31, I almost knew nothing about being a mother. But when my sweet little seven and a half pound, blue-eyed little girl came out of my womb, I was literally entranced.
Surprising to me was how much I fell in love with her, deeply, profoundly. I had planned my systems that I read about in all the books, about how to manage her and control her schedule. But when she was mine, all rules and systems went out the window, and I doted on my sweet little baby. I wanted to give her the best of loving care, to talk with her, to smile at her smiles, to enjoy her little baby hand pats on my chest when I would rock her to sleep and nurse her. I carried her in a pouch everywhere I went. Talking to her and smiling through out the day at every moment was natural. Cherishing her miraculous little smiles, giggles, gurgles, I was captivated. (Of course learning to be a good mama was a longterm process and was filled with the normal stress, but I was surprised by the pleasure I had from having my sweet little one.)
No one prepared me for the love I would feel.
Cultural messages surrounded me.
"Don't allow your children to rule your life."
"You have a little boy and a girl, don't have any more. They will take too much time."
"You have a stewardship of ministry and your children will keep you from the important work you could do."
Somehow, the multitude of messages confused me but didn't settle well in my heart. I searched for wisdom.
I began to reason, I should see what God has to say about children in the Bible and take my cues from Him.
What value did God place on children?
Searching the Bible, I began to realize that God had many opinions about babies, children.
The first blessing out of God's mouth after creating the whole universe, and then creating a living, thinking, creative human being in his image, was, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth," (Genesis 1:28)
God's blessing from the beginning was on parents having children in the first chapter of the Bible.
Psalm 127: 3-5 taught me that: "Children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
God considered that giving children to us was a gift. The Psalm said that a man was blessed who had many children. (a child was not evaluated by how much they cost, or how much time they demanded. God said in his value system, children were a gift and a reward.
Then I turned to the New Testament...
Jesus communicated his value of children over and over again. When the disciples thought the children were bothering Jesus, Luke tells us:
And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."
In the midst of a flurry of adults who wanted the attention of Jesus, he stopped everything, to hold the children in his lap, tousled their wispy hair, he smiled deep into their bright eyes. When describing what adults should be like, he did not use standards of perfection or performance. Instead, he said adults were to become like children: innocent, trusting, generous in love, in short, to become like children in order to truly understand what it meant to receive His kingdom.
Finally, in some of the most harsh language recorded in the gospels, Jesus warned against anyone harming children, neglecting them, not protecting them so as to cause them to stumble and lose their faith. His words haunted me, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea."Mark 9:42
In other words, it would be better for a person to be violently bound and thrown to drown a terrible death than for him to faee the wrath stored up for the ones who caused these precious ones to stumble. Stern words indeed.
And so I began to think Biblically about children and it changed my heart and my behavior. In a culture that often views a child by the expense in time and money he will cost in his lifetime, how important it was for me to intentionally recognize the infinite value of a tiny human being, created with the very imprint and image of God.
Within the home of any mama might be a future supreme court justice, a physician who heals cancer, a great missionary who leads the lost to Christ. When we see children as the future foundation of the character of the next generation of adults, we will take the raising of them seriously to plant righteousness forward.
I began to understand that to become a mother, who shepherds her child, gives great worth to my own life as I took stewardship over my children's lives. I understood as I grew through my journey of motherhood, that God had trusted a human being into my hands whose life would have implications for eternity.
Taking responsibility for my children caused me to have to become more excellent in every area of life.
My children would learn to trust in the truth of God's love by experiencing it through my affection, my words of life, my commitment to serve, my offering of unconditional love through all the days in my home
My children would learn the character, integrity and holiness of God by my modeling His reality through my own godly character, my faith, my growing in excellence because of His presence in my life.
My children would learn of the ways and truth of God because of my intentionality of cherishing His word every day, teaching them the precepts, the stories, the righteousness of God.
In short, God entrusted parents with the sacred charge of shaping a child's view of God and their understanding of righteousness by breathing in the oxygen of His reality in home, the laboratory of life, day by day, in season and out, forming his very faith and character through all the days of home life.
During these years, God seemed to whisper to me in my quiet times, Give foundations of strength and inspiration to these precious ones, but give them wings as well. Prepare them to take risks, to live by faith, so that they can take the messages and cherished values they learned at home and share them with a hurting world. And so our home became a launching pad, a place of blessing, as we sent our beloved children on their way—hopefully strong, whole, and secure in the ideals, faith, and values that truly matter.
They were taking His light out into the darkness. But our home remained the lighthouse they could return to for rest and restoration in between the adventures that took them into the world.
Be sure to listen to my new podcsast about the Eternal Value of Children to the Heart of God with Kristen today.
Remember to sign up today, the last day to enter to win a trip for two to visit me, HERE. Even if you are by yourself, you can join this live webcast in your home. For those who register, we will be giving a beautiful printable poster of the 24 Family Ways, announcing the winners of the trip to my house, two of my favorite recipes, a printable poster from my book and a number of wonderful prizes, including a handmade cherry cutting board especially for the Lifegiving home, 5 cd's of music for the Lifegiving home, a large gift version family study Bible and so much more. Hope you can join me and my friends for an evening of sharing about traditions, favorite resources, stories and more. (After you register for free, you will receive an email with instructions for Tuesday evening.)