It was a hot, sunny day in June, the summer after my junior year in high school. Driving to the doctor’s office for a physical, I contemplated my adult years on the horizon. Will I attend college? What will my major be? Where will I move? At 17 years old, the world was my oyster. I was graduating high school, and the possibilities of my future seemed endless.
An hour later, the words of my doctor rung in my ears: “You’re pregnant, kiddo.” I stared at her with disbelief. She handed me a bag full of formula samples and a book with the title “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. Expecting? No, I wasn’t expecting! I wasn't expecting this!
The drive back home was fuzzy. I again contemplated my adult years, which now seemed overwhelming and distorted. Will I keep this baby? Will I graduate high school? What will my parents say!?
We don’t all start off our family experiences with flying colors. Some of us glide over the thresholds of life, ordering our steps with careful succession. Others of us stumble through the doorways like a broad-shouldered bull in a china shop. Thank God, He redeems, loves and gives a hope and a future to all who put their trust in Him. Through the many challenging and dark, uphill battles I faced, I did indeed keep that sweet baby girl. She was born on Valentine’s Day the next year, and has been a precious gift to our lives ever since. My husband and I met in 2000, married in 2003, and added three more beautiful children to our family, to make us a family of 6.
My start as a parent was rough, and my experiences over the past 19 years have varied. We've been raising boys and girls, ranging from infants to adults, enjoying every moment we can. There are several resolute principles of parenting that God has taught me over the years, I want to share 3 of them with you.
1. Do Not Despise Small Beginnings.
Many times, as a parent you may wonder what difference you are truly making. As you tend to the overwhelming demands of your little people, it can seem to consume you. In my depleted moments, God reminds me of Rebekah. When she was pregnant with twins, He spoke to her and told her she carried two "nations" in her womb (Genesis 25:23a). This encourages my heart that I am not merely raising kids. I am raising the world's future leaders, and every moment they are in my care is vital. Children may be small beginnings now, needing endless time and attention from you. Yet, your persistence and sacrifice is raising them to be the Godly nations of the future. Many great possibilities come in small packages. Seeds turn to harvest, dirt and water into skyscrapers, and trees into beautiful homes. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10)
2. Powerful Opportunities Come at Inconvenient Times
Here you are, ready to walk out the door... and a little one busts their lip open. You’ve cozied up to a great book...and an epic fight breaks out. Your head is ready to hit the pillow... and your teenager wants to discuss an important life matter. These are examples of moments that bring great opportunity at inopportune times. A last minute busted lip can be an opportunity to teach nurture, compassion and patience. A sibling squabble is an opportunity to teach conflict resolution, humility and vulnerability. A late-night conversation may be the very thing that leads your son or daughter to Christ. Often these simple moments can fade to frustration if your schedule is bursting, and your mind, body and emotions live at maximum capacity. Building margins into your life will create opportunity for growth. You may regret allowing the hustle of life to suffocate the teaching moments. Yet, you will NEVER regret leaving room in your day to seize the unexpected opportunities.
3. You Are Their Steward, Not Their Savior
God made you the steward of your children. He could have chosen anyone! He chose you. It wasn’t a mistake. He knew your imperfections and weaknesses, and chose you anyway. If He first chose us in our imperfection, we must not measure our current successes against the standard of perfection. Jesus is the SAVIOR of our spouse and children; we are the STEWARDS. We must acknowledge and accept that we cannot change or save our family. We can care for them, love, support and pray for them to the best of our ability, and God must do the rest. Be quick to pray and slow to react. The Holy Spirit knows what you and your family needs more than you ever will. You will learn what true rest is when you walk out the scripture and “Be still and know that (He) is God.” – Psalm 46:10