Many of you know that I have been part of a launch team for Kristen Welch’s new book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. It has been an eye-opening and convicting read, to say the least. I want to share a few things that jumped out at me while going through the book in the hopes that they will speak to you in some way. Here goes…
“Instead of fitting Jesus into our lives, we began to fit our lives into Jesus.” Um. Ok. That wasn’t convicting at all. How often do we try to fit Jesus into our lives? Into our weeks? My kids often hear me say, “I need some Jesus,” when I get frustrated or tired. And while that statement is true, I don’t need Him only during the difficult moments. I need Him every moment of every day. I need to fit my life into Him. I need to breathe Him in and exhale His Spirit. I want to follow Him and stay in His Word and allow Him to lead every aspect of my life.
As our kids grow, we will begin to use influence over them instead of authority.
In Shepherding A Child’s Heart, Ted Tripp mentions three basic stages of parenting:
Ages 0-5: During this stage, we are establishing biblical authority with our children
Ages 5-12: During this age range, we are helping our children develop godly character
Ages 12 and up: We are focused on the internalization of the gospel
I am sort of in each of these stages at the moment. Vivienne is 3 and Jonah is 5 so I am continually attempting to establish biblical authority with them. I want them to listen to me and do what I say because I am an authority figure. I want them to know what the Bible says about what’s right and wrong. I am also working with all of my children to help develop godly character in them. And Brienne is 12 so I want her to begin internalizing the message of the gospel and learn to make choices based on what she believes to be right and wrong. For me, this is the most difficult stage. Letting go of my authority and guiding her as she makes her own choices is definitely not easy.
Point our kids to Jesus. And teach them that He cares about their stuff. Their insecurities. Their friendships. Everything. I want my children to know that Jesus cares about every aspect of their lives. He cares about that huge science test on Friday; He cares about the friendship that is floundering; He cares that you hurt your arm on the trampoline. When our kids realize that we can take anything to Jesus in prayer, they will actually start praying with more intention.
“The essence of a Christ-centered home” is “not getting it right the first time or even the tenth time, but inviting Jesus in and letting Him heal our hearts and guide our lives.” Can’t you just feel God’s grace in that statement? We do not have to be perfect. Hallelujah! All we need to do is trust Jesus to guide our lives and our family. Now, I’m not saying that this is an easy way to live. However, when we mess up, we can ask for forgiveness and move on.
But how can we have a Christ-centered family? First, we must prepare ourselves spiritually because we can’t lead if we are running on empty. We need to be in constant communication with the Lord and we must know His Word intimately. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in all that we do.
Next, we should read the Bible as a family. I will be honest and tell you that I don’t do this very well. It’s sometimes difficult for me to navigate this because of the large age difference between our children. I would love to hear how some of you read God’s Word together. What resources do you use?
,We should also live what we teach. And let me tell you – it can be so tempting to teach my kids a truth and yet not apply it to my own life. I recently wrote a post about my verse for 2016 and how I wanted to have more joy this year. Well, God has certainly tested me over the past couple weeks to see if I would follow through with being joyful in the chaos and messiness of everyday life. Without going into details, I will just say that He allowed A LOT of things to occur last week that threatened my joy. However, I am happy to report that He was also faithful to remind me to be joyful. He is so good!
“If we are going to compare ourselves to those who have more, we must also compare ourselves to those who have less.” Whoa. It is so easy to look at other families’ houses and cars and clothing and think that we need what they have. It’s human nature to compare ourselves with others and feel envy toward them. It’s particularly difficult for middle and high schoolers who just want to fit in with their classmates and peers. But let’s be real – it’s also difficult as adults. We don’t always want to stand out.
However, we shouldn’t only compare ourselves to those who have more than we do. We should also think about those around the globe who have less than we do. We need to be mindful of the many millions of people who don’t have adequate food, shoes, clothing, or shelter. When their needs become reality for us, we become more grateful for what we do have. I know a few families who make a point to eat the same meal of rice and beans once a week every week in order to remind themselves of those around the world who eat rice and beans on a daily basis. Our family sponsors a few children through World Vision and Compassion International, and I try to take some time occasionally to talk about these children with Brie, Jonah, and Vivienne so that they understand how people in other countries live.
Our church recently sponsored a Compassion Experience. Compassion International came and set up a trailer and people were able to walk through the different rooms, listening to a child tell about his or her life in one of the countries where Compassion International is present. It was an eye-opening and heartbreaking experience as we were able to see the oppression these children face on a daily basis. Our family attempted to walk through it this weekend. (We only made it through the first two rooms because both little kids had to go to the bathroom and “I can’t hold it! I can’t hold it! I can’t hold it!” sort of caused us to leave in the middle of the tour. And then, once they had pottied, Vivi refused to go back in because “it was a little scary.”) Even though we didn’t make it all the way through the tour, I was still able to talk to my kids about the child we were listening to – about her home, the sparse furnishings, how she could no longer go to school (until someone sponsored her and her family). I believe we should take any opportunity we have to teach our kids how other people around the world live.
These are just a few things that spoke to me while reading Raising Grateful Kids. If you are still raising children in your home, I encourage you to get your copy today. You won’t regret it.
Also, please share your ideas for reading the Bible as a family. Do you use the Jesus Storybook Bible with your young children? Do you use other resources? I have just recently begun using Saying Yes to God at dinnertime with my kids as we read through the book of John. It’s slightly over the head of my littles, but so far so good.
And remember, mommas, the more grateful we are, the more grateful our children will be. (I know. That’s not convicting at all, right?)