growth in grace

The last few weeks have, I think, been important in our family.

I’m seeing a shift in my perspective about parenting. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to be a mother – I believe I was 4 when I told my parents that my new year’s resolution was to have lots of babies. Now I’m here – a home-owner, minivan-driver mom with 3 children of my own – and I’m finding that it’s both more wonderful than I’d expected and more difficult than I’d imagined.

The sleep deprivation takes its toll, and my back feels the strain on the days on which my littles continuously request to be held. But even more than the physical pressure, there is the great emotional and spiritual burden of parenting. I see how much these little people, whom I love more than life itself, need to learn and grow, and I feel the weight of my responsibility to love and teach them.

And I so easily get caught in the trap of seeing the challenges and telling myself that this is a “difficult season” and that I just need to get through it, and things will be better. Anyone who has ever felt the root of bitterness taking hold in their heart can tell you that time does not heal all wounds, time does not solve all problems. Something else needs to change. Instead of seeing primarily the negatives, I need to focus on (1) creating good times with my kiddos and (2) being strategic in parenting them where they’re at, wherever that is.

I can say yes – yes to baking sprinkle-covered gum to see what will happen…

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…yes to bike rides around the neighborhood…

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..and yes to train rides at the zoo.

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I can think about how to reach my kids’ hearts and teach them about what really matters in this world. There have been many opportunities for that over the last few weeks. Matt has been reading Little Pilgrim’s Progress to the girls before bed, they’ve started going to Awana on Wednesday evenings, and we’re memorizing some theological truths by way of some catechism questions, all of which are prompting them to think more about spirituality. Miranda even told us a few weeks ago that she had prayed to Jesus to forgive her sins. By no means do I believe that every five-year-old’s declaration of faith should be taken as a long-term assurance of the state of their souls, but I do believe that God works in the hearts of people of all ages. I’m hopeful that Miranda is truly grasping some important spiritual truths and that God is really working, and I think we may be seeing the beginnings of some initial fruitfulness of His work in her. Madeleine CaiQun’s interest has also been piqued, and while she’s less self-assured and has not been making so many pronouncements about her own faith, she’s asking good questions, displaying an interest in God, and reflecting growing knowledge about Him. As we continue to work through the sometimes frustrating issues surrounding obedience, self-control, kindness, and gentleness, it has been encouraging to be seeing these developments in both girls!

And as I’ve worked and prayed to change my perspective, that has made it easier for me to swallow weekends like this past one, which don’t go as I planned. Atticus’s first flu shot on Friday left him feverish and fussy. His naps never seemed to fall where I wanted them to be to enable me to accomplish some of what I wanted to do this weekend, and he slept so fitfully last night that all he wanted to do today was stay in bed, snuggle up close to me, and sleep on and off all morning. He slept, I held him close and read some articles online, and we stayed in bed until noon and spent a good portion of the afternoon snuggling, as well.

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I’m naturally so focused on getting things done that it can be hard for me to accept times like this in which there is relational investment but not so much task accomplishment. I’m thankful that God is growing me in that area, though – I’m seeing growth in grace for the girls and me in this season, and I’m grateful for that.

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