What a whirlwind week. Thanks so all of our friends for helping make this book launch reach to people all over the world. Couldn't have done it without so many people sharing. And I want all of you to know that I have 3 precious friends, Gretchen, Jennie and Misty who did all the work and made everything work. I will tell you more about them another time, but they did it all.
I am still suffering with the results of my bizarre accident. Off to the London hospital this Wednesday to see if the infection inside my eye is gone, and I would so appreciate prayer for this.
I am so excited about the next 4 Mondays because you, your friends, and your husbands can hear Clay and me talk about our 34 years of parenting and what really mattered along the way. What we are sharing are the foundations that pointed all of our children to their own strong and personal relationship with the Lord. This is the first post of four podcasts by us (Clay and Sally!) reflecting on the eight heartbeats of parental lifegiving that are the core of our new book, The Lifegiving Parent.
Clay: When Sally showed me the banner image for today's post and podcast, I thought it was especially appropriate. If you've been to our ministry website at WholeHeart.org, you'll recognize it as the primary image I chose for the banner there, as well. I think it captures visually both the heart of lifegiving parenting, and the idea behind our first two heartbeats in today's podcast: numbering your child's days, and nurturing your child's spirit.
Lifegiving parenting is not just about telling your child what to do and saying, "Go do as I say." It is much more about providing footsteps in the sand of the beach of life that they can see and walk in. It is about inviting them to follow you on your own journey with God. That idea is the life-blood flowing through each heartbeat of parental lifegiving--your children following the life of God that they see in you.
A chorus I repeat several times in the book is that it is not enough to give your child just a Christian life; you must give them the life of Christ. "Engagement with Christian culture does not define a Christian home; engagement with the living Christ does. That understanding is a necessary first step on the path to becoming a lifegiving parent."
The first heartbeat in the book is "Numbering Your Child's Days." Looking at the image of the father and son on the beach, it is realizing that there is only a limited stretch of that beach of life on which you can give your child footsteps in which to follow before they will begin making their own path on the beach, and continue it after your footsteps are gone.
"Our children's spirits are hardwired by God to look to us first for the spiritual influence they long for because of God's image within them. ... Our children's childhoods are here and gone before we know it, and while our influence continues in young adulthood in a different way, we don't have a second chance to make a first impression on our children's hearts while that window is most divinely open to our influence."
The second heartbeat in the book is "Nurturing Your Child's Spirit." Thinking again about the boy and his dad on the beach, nurturing is about lifegiving relationship. Paul tells the Ephesian fathers in 6:4b (literally), "Feed your children out of the training and instruction of the Lord." Nurturing your children is as intimate as feeding your child spiritually out of the life of God that is already in you.
"Even though Paul addressed fathers in his Ephesians comments, looking at his comments in Thessalonians [2:7-12] suggests that he knows that the spiritual nurture of children is a biparental responsibility--both Mom and Dad are needed in the process. You are your spouse are lifegiving parents together, bringing your children into engagement with the life of God in your home by nurturing their spirits. You both are feeding them from the life of God that is in your own spirits, and this is the life that will lead to their own relationships with God as they grow strong and healthy in Him."
We love hearing from you. Let us know what you think about our ideas. We pray for all who are on this journey of parenting who listen to this and pray you may feel encouraged. Thanks for sharing with your friends as they might just need some encouragement, too.