By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
This morning, I drove my middle daughter to high school in utter silence. No words were spoken, no music was on, just the sound of the tires rolling on the pavement…and the huffs of her very annoyed breaths directed toward me!
It's been a long week. We have had some issues unfold in our family that have caused a bit of tension to ensue. I'm tired. She's tired. Yet, when she got out of the car, grabbed her backpack and sports gear, then ever so casually looked at me, all I could do in that moment was remind her that I loved her - no matter what.
This parenting journey is rough sometimes. It leaves me questioning if I am doing anything right. Maybe you feel this, too? Thankfully, God has a plan and purpose for our children and for us! Even if we feel like we are messing them up, we can rest assured that fine-tuning is taking place, and God is moving behind the scenes.
The truth is, we aren't called to be perfect parents; we are called to trust a perfect God and allow Him to move in our lives and the precious lives of our children.
So, today, I invite you to lay it all at His feet and return to the simple basics. Sometimes, we just need a reset button and a way to remind ourselves that while we can go through many highs and lows, God is with us. He is going before us, walking beside us, and He is picking up the messy pieces behind us (Joshua 1:9)!
Below is a list of small but impactful ways to incorporate faith into your everyday parenting. I bet that you are already doing most, if not all, of these! The truth is we tend to overcomplicate parenting, but it is the small, seemingly insignificant things we do that matter the most. And, you want to know the best part? The best part is if you fail (which we all will), God's still got this!
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1. Live By Example
Yes, I realize this one comes with unending pressure. But let me reiterate the point that we aren't called to be perfect; we are called to be an example, and sometimes a clumsy one at that. Living by example comes with our everyday choices to faithfully honor God. It's shown in our words, deeds, and actions. We have the power to influence our children to love the Lord with all of their hearts, and they do that when we model what that looks like (1 Peter 2:21).
2. Be Vulnerable
One of the best ways to share the faith with our kiddos is to actually tell them our testimony, in an age-appropriate way, of course. Let them know how you came to Jesus and how He changed your life. By being a bit vulnerable with our children, they see we aren't perfect, but through our weakness, Jesus has a powerful place to move in our lives and change us little by little to become more like Him (2 Corinthians 12:9).
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3. Listen to Christian Music
We must guard the hearts and minds of our children, and it begins with what they are listening to. It sounds simple enough, but you know how difficult this is sometimes with the easy accessibility our children have to technology and media. However, we can choose to play Christian music throughout our day and flood our homes and cars with inspiring words that will encourage and lift them up. The best part is that these songs, often filled with Scripture references, can be a source of strength for us, too!
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4. Always Defer to Scripture
When our children face unforeseen challenges or hardships, the best way to help them is to point them back to what God has to say. When we etch in their heart that God has an answer for that, whatever that may be, they will eventually learn to default to Scripture for answers. All we can hope is that they learn not to seek the world or us, but seek Jesus! Helping them memorize Scripture to tuck in their heart and lean on when difficult situations arise will remind them that God has an answer for everything! A few great go-to verses that will carry them through this life are Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11, and Romans 12:12. What would you add?
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5. Read Bible Stories
Our children need to know that the Bible is alive, active, and has the vital power to transform lives, including theirs (Hebrews 4:12). Reading the stories in the Bible to our children helps them know that God has always loved His creation and makes way for those Who love Him to live an abundant, and purpose-filled with joy and hope (John 4:16). This also opens up a pathway to discuss how we can learn from the stories of our past and teach how our God is faithful.
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6. Pray Together
Praying for (and over) your child is a notable honor as a parent, but praying with your child opens up a world of possibilities. For starters, it allows us to model how to pray. But it also gives us a glimpse into the nature of their hearts. Praying with your child can be such a tender time as it lets them know that we serve a God who hears every one of our prayers and is full of goodness, kindness, grace, and compassion. His mercies never end (Lamentations 3:22-25). When we pray together or as a family, it shows our dependency on God, and that prayer is our lifeline to Him.
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7. Give and Receive Grace
There is a term we use quite often in our home. When tensions flood or temperaments flare up, and it ruffles feathers, causing strife among family members, we say that we just need "space and grace." I had to offer that to my daughter this morning when we were walking out the door, and she mumbled that all too familiar phrase under her breath. The truth is that we all need space and grace at times. We need the space to get quiet and seek the Lord for wisdom, guidance, and counsel while also asking for His grace. But grace doesn't stop there. As a family unit, we must give and receive grace freely, as well, and quickly forgive one another.
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8. Get Involved in Church
While every church has its own unique way of reaching everyone throughout the body, if we have kiddos, we must get familiar with the children and youth ministry. Get to know what your children are learning and what they are doing. Are they having fun? Do they like it? If they bring home practical lessons to apply and you pick them up with smiling faces, these are tell-tell signs of a healthy youth ministry. But, with that, we must still get involved in some way, even just to pray over the ministry and volunteers. Our contributions matter to our children, church, and God. So, find ways to get involved and be active; you will be abundantly blessed.
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9. Admit When You're Wrong
This is a tough one for so many of us, myself included. Why is it so hard to admit when we are wrong? Maybe because, as parents, it points out our blind spots and can easily trigger guilt. Sigh. Nobody likes to be wrong, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. But in modeling what it means to "walk by faith" (2 Corinthians 5:7), we need to own our mistakes, faults, failures, and mishaps. We can do this by having a heart-to-heart with our children and humbling ourselves before them, letting them know that when we make the wrong choice, we can ask for forgiveness. We can ask to be forgiven by others, seek that from our God, and then forgive ourselves. It's really a great lesson to teach our children about humility.
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10. Create a Peaceful Home
It takes a lot of work to maintain an orderly and peaceful home. I get it. Everyone must contribute, and sometimes that doesn't go according to plan. Maybe dishes have piled up in the sink, toys scattered across the floor, and you haven't washed sheets in who knows how long. Well, take a deep breath and relax. Creating a peaceful home doesn't just mean having a clean house. It begins with an inner peace that starts within your heart. Seek peace by welcoming God into your home. After a while, the air in the home feels stuffy or heavy; open doors and windows and let fresh air in, then take a moment to pray over each room. Finally, flood your humble abode with warm, soft light from the whimsical scents of candles or essential oils. Create a safe refuge for every family member by placing Scripture and verses throughout bedrooms and heavily trafficked areas as a reminder of Who you serve and that Jesus is ever present.
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