Introducing Your Children to Jesus

I’ve been struggling for about a year on how to start talking to Salem about Jesus. 

I’m pretty firm in my belief that I want my children to understand that having a relationship with God is on them. My faith will not save them. Their dad’s faith will not save them.

It is entirely their responsibility to pursue God. They’re responsible for their own sin, and the consequences, until they give it to God. My job is to teach them, but it is their choice to remain teachable. 

I cannot force them to believe what I believe, but it my ongoing prayer that they will experience God’s endless love for them. 

They will have seasons of doubt, struggle, and lies. It cannot be avoided. And I want the door to remain open so that they know we can talk about it. They should never feel intimidated by my beliefs nor should they feel they need to feel embarrassed or shy about their intimate thoughts with God, be they love or doubt. 

But he’s turning 4 in October. So where do you start? That is a whole lot of deep theology to push onto a 4 year old who simply wants to watch toy story and put his underwear on backwards. 

I sat in silence waiting for God to answer my question. “Show me how to teach them to know you.” 

Silence.

I have to admit, I kinda got nervous I was the idiot in that joke, waiting on the roof top in a flood when God has already sent 3 means of rescue and I didn’t understand and I die. 

Today, my prayer was answered. 

I was feeling really discouraged. Every morning I fail to wake up before them. Every evening I fall asleep waiting for them to sleep. I couldn’t find a spare minute to sit down in silence with God. I was so ready for quiet devotional time. 

Well, today I boldly pursued him in the presence of my children. I shared a picture on my Instagram (honorableliving) stating this:

“When I was little, someone told me I should sit down with God in the morning or in the evening. When the world was still quiet. I took that as a Biblical truth, and for the last almost 4 years of motherhood I was discouraged. So discouraged. I was failing. But then, the last few days I realized my quiet time was never coming. It’s now or never. And Jesus gave you all this noise surrounding you and he can sure as heck talk over it. So, amidst the joyful squeals of toddlers playing and occasional cries of babies, I sat down with Jesus. There’s a real possibility quiet time is never coming, and if you keep telling yourself tomorrow you’ll wake up early or tonight you’ll stay up late, you’re making real excuses and missing out on really good truth. So sit down in the commotion and read through the chaos. Because He doesn’t mind interruptions.”
Well, shortly after I posted the photo Salem came to me and said, “you talking to Jesus! You reading Jesus book!” With a proud grin.

At first I thought, “where did he hear that?”

And then I recalled.

Last Monday, Salem was falling asleep and I came in beside him with my new devotional books. He stirred and said “whatcha doin, mama?”

I said, “I’m reading about Jesus, Sal. Sometimes mama needs to talk with Jesus. Do you know Jesus loves you and wants to talk to you? Jesus loves me, too.” And he didn’t say a single word back. 
It didn’t even dawn on me that was like the other times I teach him something new. Sometimes, when Salem sees something and says “what’s that!” I answer. His reply is often silence as he processes and learns. 
So today, when I felt bold enough to do my devotions with a wild rumpus about, and he said that, I realized, how much better for them. To see their mom actively pursuing God. There is a time and place for intimacy and privacy with God. But I am not finding that in this season of my life. And His goodness can be found by my children if I choose to share those intimate moments in front of them. 

Today, God showed me how to teach them about Him. He showed me that the best way to teach is to do. If they cannot see me doing what I tell them to do, why would they ever do it? If they don’t see my struggles and shortcomings and the grace and love God shows me in spite of all that, how will they know to want that, too.

Having a quiet moment with God IS important, and for many, that is the right way to pursue knowing Him. But it’s not the only way. And if you’re like me, making excuses, tomorrow, tonight, later, because you’re simply too worn out to make it happen if those moments come up…

Sit down now and have a moment with Jesus. Wherever you are. Who cares if someone sees you? The best thing that could happen is that they ask,

“What are you doing?”

And you can answer them with the gospel.

I am not enough

Motherhood is a strange form of masochism.

We continue to do it every day even though it brings about pain and humiliation. 

I know some of my readers chuckled a little and thier brains proceeded to justify the horror we live through daily.

 “Yes yes, it is so hard, but it’s so very worth it when they smile/laugh/hug me/etc.”

Let’s talk about the hard seasons though, can we? 
The ones where every day with our toddler is a fight.

The ones where our 7 year old says “you say no every time! I never get to do anything fun. I hate you.”

Or maybe the ones where our teenagers say “mom you’re so boring. Why can’t you be more like so-and-so’s mom”

(Let’s take a pause. Do not discredit me for my eldest being 4. It was not long ago I was the ungrateful teenager above. 6 years ago. My memory is still sharp.)

Now I’m on the mommy end. Now I lay in bed at the end of each day, staring at my ceiling, going over and over the plays of the day. I think to myself, tomorrow. I will be different tomorrow. I will not yell. We will peacefully enjoy each waking moment of family life. 

You too? Something about those quiet, dark moments while we plead for sleep to come. We sit and think up all of the ways we’ll be better tomorrow. All of the ways we will be enough for our kids. We’ll make a healthy breakfast and we’ll play with them for hours, building the same incessant block tower. We’ll cuddle and watch movies. We’ll put our phones down when the going gets tough. Most of all, we’ll be enough. 

Can I tell you the truth? 

We can’t be enough for our kids. We are sinners and they are sinners. We get mad and they get mad. Everybody wants his or her own way.  It’s the same lesson I teach my toddlers. Every time you take a toy, someone else is doing without. There is never a winner.  And the fact of the matter is, when it’s all about us, someone has to lose, right?

You will never be enough. 

Before you hurry out of this screen, there is hope. 

What if we stopped trying to be enough and gave it all to God? 

I thought I understood that question a week ago. 

It doesn’t say, try your hardest and then God will fill in the rest. 

It says “stop trying and give it all to God”

I spent a lot of time and energy going through the motions every day. Breakfast, dishes, pick up, laundry, pick up, lunch, dishes, naps, laundry, pick up, play, dinner, bath, bed, dishes, pick up, trash, maybe shower, and flop onto a bed in pure exhaustion and defeated. 

In between all of that I had little patience left to give my children and little time. 

I convinced myself that my kids would find God somehow in all of that and He would make up for my failures. 

This past week has been a good one for me. I learned my worth and in that, I learned that it isn’t about me and it isn’t about me being enough for anyone else. 

The truth is, I am enough for God, and in that, I will be enough for the work He gives me to glorify Him and His kingdom.

My mornings are a little different now. I haven’t had much sleep this week. But then I have seen the sun creep over the mountains each day. The light pours across the wood floors. I see the tiny detail in each plank on the floor and I am reminded. 

He took the time on those details. 

He took the time on your details. 

He took the time on each of my 4 snotty nosed, giggling, tired and sweet babies’ details. 

I am reminded that today is not about me.

It is not about my children and whether or not I do enough for them. 

Today is about doing God’s work and glorifying Him.

Give it all to God. Before you lift a finger, let Him know that you know that today is His. 

Remind yourself your work is for Him. You are serving Him.

When your focus is on serving God and basking in His sacrifice for you and less on serving “ungrateful children who genuinely have no idea what you’ve sacrificed” little things tend to upset you less.

And you are enough to serve Him.

When you know that, the rest will follow.

Does that mean your kids will stop fighting? That your day will go smoothly with no traffic, lots of tips, and no flat tires.

Nope. 

Nowhere does God promise easy, fortune, and the perfect American life. 

But He does promise us peace. (Phil. 4:7)

He does promise us strength (Phil. 4:13)

He promises that he’ll never leave us nor forsake (renounce or give up) us. (Deut. 31:6)

I don’t know about you, but for me that sounds like all I need for breakfast to get me through the day. 

Peace, strength, and a God who is always with me and will never abandon me.

And He promises us so much more, if we only set aside our selfishness to accept a better eternal future than we could have imagined.

Broken Me

I never had the exciting revelation when hearing the gospel. My dad was a pastor when I was small, and I always knew of God. I never doubted his existence, his power, his knowledge. I knew the Earth was his, I know I am his. I know he gave me the Bible, which he spoke and breathed, and I know it to be true. 
When I was 17, my church back home taught me something new. There’s knowing of God and there’s knowing God. I was taught that we are called to know Him. To have a relationship with Him. So I set out learning who He was, because that’s how we know people here. We learn who they are, what the believe. 
When I set out to know my husband, I wanted to learn what traits he had. Most of that was expressed through his likes. He loves to read translates to he pursues knowledge. He loves calculus and chemistry and physics should have translated to, he’s too smart for you and you have nothing in common. But it didn’t, it just told me he is smart. He loves music told me he was going to have a tricky time telling me how he was feeling but I could check out his last listen on Pandora and I might be able to figure it out.

What did I know about God? What could I discern of His character from the Bible?

Omniscient 

Omnipresent 

Infinite

Wise

Sovereign

Holy

Faithful

Love

That last one caught me. It’s a tale as old as time. God is love. We teach our children “Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so.”

I didn’t believe that. I couldn’t sit here and tell you I did. It would be the biggest lie I’ve ever told. I did not believe that a God who could be described as all of those things could possibly in his right mind love me. Me. Broken me. 
Sermons were preached of grace and redemption. My cleanness. My newness. But I didn’t feel that. Because I wasn’t. In order to be those things you have to believe the Gospel. I didn’t. I believed in God. I believed Jesus came and did miraculous things like die on a cross and come back to life. But I didn’t believe He did it for me.

 I believe He made me and knew me before my parents could hear my heartbeat. But I didn’t believe that He could love me. And if there’s anything I’ve learned at the church we go to here in Hawaii(I’ve learned a lot), you have to believe it all. You can’t pick and choose what the Bible has to say. You can’t make it say what you want. It says what God wants and you have to find a way in your own heart, soul, and mind (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to believe it to be true. Because it is true. And I am not.
Then i started to read a devotional. It shed light on something I never noticed before. It took me to creation. When God created, what did he say when each creation day was complete. 

It was good. 

What does the Bible say about creation of man?
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:27-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬
He described the oceans and mountains and stars in the sky as good. He described majestic elephants and beautiful oak trees as good. And He gave it to mankind to care for and called it very good. 
He trusted mankind with this precious Earth. The mighty sea and the glorious mountains are mine to take care of, I inherited it, the Bible tells me so. This task was passed on because The male and female He created in His likeness are from whom I descend. 
He called Earth and the Universe Good.

He created Me in His image.
Mankind fell from grace, which puts me here, where I am now. Struggling to understand how a perfect and beautiful God could love my brokenness. 
But I have one truth now to help me see that love. It’s in creation. I was designed for perfection. Not in the world. But I have a divine promise of that beauty and grace. I have the keys to the kingdom if I can believe that He loves Me. 
The next truth I found was in John 3:16. A bible verse I memorized for a jolly rancher at Awana at Grace Bible Church. Mr. Rotteire I took Gods word and hid it in my heart and it’s here still today. 
“For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not parish but have everlasting life”
You probably went into autopilot reading that.
Me too. 
Read it again. Slowly. 
For God so loved the world that he gave STOP
I’m a mom now. I wasn’t when I learned that verse. And I don’t think you have to be a mom to understand, because you have one. 
I grew a person. Hands, heart, brain, eyes. All those miraculous things that just work. I grew 4 persons. I have lines on my tummy to tell you so. And I have shadows under my eyes to tell you so. I have spit up on my shirt to tell you so. And tears on my fingers. And germs on my lips from kissing owies. 

My body gave to grow them. I gave them life, quite literally. With help, of course, from my husband and a divine creator. 
I gave them food from my body. I give them hugs and kisses everyday. I give them direction and guidance. I give them an ear when they want to tell me for the 400th time that there’s a lizard (or a wizard, depends on who is doing the talking) on the ceiling. 
I give to them with no intent to receive anything back.

 I cannot guarantee that when they’re grown they will love me. I cannot know that they will speak to me on occasion or daily. I cannot know that they will forgive me for every failure they witness me perform. 

They will know that when they’re grown I love them and have always loved them. 
They will know that I want to speak with them daily, if they choose.
They will know that I forgive them for every failure I witnessed them perform. 
I should know that God loves me and has always loved me. 

I should know that He wants to speak with me daily, every moment, if I so choose.

I should know that He forgives me for every failure He’s seen me perform and every failure He knows is coming. 
How much more beautiful is the last set than the first. The love a mother has for her children is iconic. It’s used over and over to show selflessness. Unconditional. 
It was designed by the Master. It is modeled after the most divine design. 
For God so loved the world he gave.
With no intent that He should receive. 
That’s Love. Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. 
He wants us. Whether or not you’ve experienced a healthy relationship with your mother, (she can’t know that you’ll forgive her for all her failures), a relationship with Him is perfect. There is no flaw from His end. He didn’t fail you. He gave without expectation. He loves you. 
And me. 
Broken me.

Here I Raise My Ebenezer – Three Weeks With Three Under Three

I have a confession. Despite the encouragement from many loved ones during my pregnancy with Marvin, I convinced myself I couldn’t handle three under three.

I received so much wonderful advice and encouraging stories about the third being the easiest transition. I told myself they knew nothing of my circumstances. No one could know what horrors I was about to endure.

All that negative Nancy attitude got me was the difficult transition I imagined. The first three weeks with three under three have been spent in fear and anger. Fear to go out on a limb. To take a risk, experience life and the chaos that we have. To enjoy the tears, as they’re inevitable. Anger with toddlers who don’t understand why they’re upset. Anger when people who are only here to help me make one small mistake that effects nothing but my own OCD tendencies.

The worst advice I received was from strangers during my pregnancy, “Wow! Three under three! Well, God will never give you more than you can handle.”

This advice set me in a downward spiral. I was obviously given more than I could handle. I was failing. I very clearly did something wrong, being punished, but that can’t be right because the Bible specifically calls children blessings. God doesn’t give people babies as a punishment. So we’re back to me failing, I’m obviously not doing enough, or making the wrong choice in life somewhere.

Finally, I sat down with my devotions two days ago, and Beth Moore relayed exactly what God needed me to hear. (These quotes will be coming from Beth Moore’s Believing God Chapter 15)

She used Joshua 10, when the five kings of the Amorites bound together to defeat Joshua and the Israelites. They marched all night, surprising the army, and with God promise of a victory on their side, the armies were defeated.

Joshua faced a lot of opposition, the odds were not in his favor. They were outnumbered, they committed to the battle before God promised them victory, they were up all night, and they marched uphill. 4000 foot ascent of rough-terrain marching!

This story is familiar to me. It’s used frequently as a miracle story, usually with the illustration that these men defeat the odds with God on their side. As a mother, wife, and homemaker, I see something a little different. It wasn’t so quick. As a child, I saw the 5 minute battle scene Hollywood gave me. Now I see an all night struggle, an uphill March, sweat, tears, fear, and committing to something before you know everything’s gonna be alright.

Sounds like my life. No, I don’t mean I’m all armored up and sliding a weapon into people’s bodies.

My battle is different. I am outnumbered, I am often up all night, my March feels long, rough, uphill, and I usually have my arms full. I also committed to loving these tiny people no matter the outcome.

These soldiers didn’t get handed a battle field of already slain men upon arrival, they had to work for what they wanted. Sure, they had a promise of victory, but they had to earn it themselves.

“Fighting the good fight of faith takes energy. So do self-pity, anger, un forgiveness, and self-loathing. Decide where to put your energy.”

That was humbling. I have most certainly spent the last three weeks putting my energy into the latter half of those.

The part of the story I never noticed was the verses where God threw large hail stones from the sky, killing more men than the swords of the Israelites.

Then, Joshua realizes the sun will set before the battle is won. He prayed that the sun and the moon would stand still. “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down a full day.”

“A perfect set up for catastrophic defeat is also the perfect set up for miraculous victory.”

Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

Let’s go back to that bad advice. God can, too, give you more than you can handle. I believe God gives us situations that require our all, and sometimes, that’s still not enough. These men were required to give all of themselves. They still only won because they called upon God.

I believe that sometimes, God gives you more than you can handle so that you stop taking credit for the beauty of your life, the hard work you put into it, and look around and say, “I have this because of God.” He gave me these children, these exact little people that He created before I knew what their names would be, and He knew that I could not be their mother without His help. Thank goodness for His grace to redeem my stupidity.

“When God requires much, he’ll do even more.”

“To whom much is given, much is required.” Luke 12:48

Now, looking back at those miracles I never noticed. Hailstones large enough to smash people, and He literally stopped the Earth on its axis.

He required a lot from those men, and He also gave two science-defying miracles.

That is not to say that God answers every prayer with miracles, or with the answer that we predetermined as right. But He does sometimes. He did for Joshua. If only I can remember to pray big prayers and give God the opportunity to give me back big answers.

“You don’t have to do it His way. You can choose bitterness, resentment, carnality, or mediocrity. Or you can go for it with everything you’ve got. You can experience the unmatched exhilaration of partnering in divine triumph. The stakes are high. The cost is steep. But I’ll promise you this: there is no high like the Most High.”

I need His help. Every day. I can only think about the next hour, because much else is too much. And the next hour can only be accomplished with His help. I want to partner in divine triumph.

1 Samuel 7:12 “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood

I never understood why “ebenezer” was in that hymn, but now I do, and I’m going to go find a rock, set in on my counter top, and when I see it every day, I will remember how I made it to that moment.

“Thus far has the LORD helped us.”

I encourage you to sit down and read her book. You can purchase it HERE