I love and hate Facebook memories. I love them because every day I get these little reminders of things my kids have said, trips we’ve taken, pictures we have posted. I hate them because every day I get these little reminders of how fast time has flown!
This week is the week that we, along with my wife’s family, took a trip to San Diego, CA to watch her brother Patrick graduate from The United States Marine Corps basic training. It was a sight to behold. It was truly awe inspiring.
And San Diego is gorgeous. The ocean, the weather, all the sights and the zoo! My goodness the zoo.
All these pictures popping up this week reminding me that my children are no longer that little and that the six years between when we took the trip and now have flown by unimaginably fast.
If you were at Shift’s Child dedication service, you saw our Legacy Marbles and you heard that parents have roughly 936 weeks between birth and graduation. 936…that’s it. And we are losing our marbles one week at a time. It all just turns into a blur what with work, school, homework, sports, birthday parties, weddings, funerals…. One day they are little and cuddly and cute and the next they’re asking for money and the keys to the car.
Then one day you wake up and they’re moving out.
It’s all part of our kids turning into the adults that we are preparing them to be. It’s wonderful and heart wrenching all at the same time. So how do we parent with the end in mind? How do we leverage those 936 weeks to influence our children for Christ?
I would encourage you to ask yourself what do you want your child to know/be by the time they move out? I think a great passage to strive for is how Jesus was described as a growing child in Luke 2:52,
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.
If we are keeping in mind a goal it becomes much easier to be intentional with the time God has blessed us with. So many times I have found that I am spiritually parenting my kids by accident or scatter shot. I’m being reactive instead of being proactive. So how can we leverage keeping the end in mind with our 936 weeks?
In last week’s post I mentioned that Moses lined this out in Deuteronomy 6:4-9,
4 “Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
So we have these natural rhythms in life that we can use for greater influence in our children’s spiritual lives. They don’t really change except for how they look. But basically what we see here is when we wake them up (before school), drive time (any time we’re driving in the car with them), dinner time and bed time.
So Let’s break this down and look at each of them. The first one is when you get up.
How you start the day with your children can make or break a day!
I’ll never forget the first time I learned this. Our oldest child, Jenna, was no more than second grade. She was 7 or 8 at the time. I don’t remember what we were arguing about but we were throwing down.
If you know Jenna, she is soft spoken and doesn’t act or look like she could hurt a fly. But when she was little? Watch out! She was hard headed and a little spoiled (I take full responsibility for that)!
We went round and round about something and I got angry with her. I put her on the school bus without resolving it or bringing it to an end. We didn’t even say “I love you”.
It. Was. THE. LONGEST. DAY. EVER!
I couldn’t wait for her to get home so that I could apologize for acting like that. All I could think about all day was how I left things and what would happen if that was the last thing we said to each other? All day long one passage kept running through my mind:
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
As soon as I could leave to go pick her up at the bus stop I did and as soon as she got in the car I grabbed her, apologized for being a jerk, kissed her little cheeks and told her I loved her.
From that day forward I promised myself that no matter what happens in the morning I will never let my children walk out the door doubting that I love them.
So we decided on a routine, every morning, with both our kids. It looks different for different stages but we are intentionally consistent with them both. I would encourage you to do the same. When they’re younger you can have fun waking them up or how you make their breakfast or make their lunch together or whatever it is. Even it’s just a regular morning of eating breakfast and getting ready make sure that you’re engaging them.
But the one thing I insist on doing before they go to school…it doesn’t matter how old they are or if I take them or the bus or a friend…I am going to pray with and for my children before they step foot in the school.
I want them to know that each day needs to start with a conversation with their Creator. We thank God for a new day, for another opportunity to love the people around us, for safety and to be brought back together again after school.
You’re morning doesn’t have to be like ours, but it does need to be encouraging! Send your kids out the door knowing that God loves them and so do you.