James and I have been married for almost 16 years and started our family 12 years ago. We were married in a church, our girls were baptized and while I was working full-time they attended a Christian daycare five days a week where they learned the sweetest prayers and songs. During that time, we did not attend church except for our annual Christmas and Easter visits with my family. I remember having conversations that we wanted to raise our girls in a Christian home and give them a foundation of faith. I remember purchasing a women’s devotional bible in January one year, I think I may’ve made a New Year’s resolution to read it. But come February it was collecting dust on my nightstand. I bought all the cute kids bibles and devotional books to bring some religion into our home but by the end of the day we were just too tired and always forgot to do it. We always had an excuse why this Sunday wasn’t the Sunday we’d try out the church down the street where the girls played soccer even though we knew people there and had already figured out where the girls would go while we were in church (you know that is always the biggest hurdle!!) Too tired, intimidated, uncomfortable or just plain lazy…who knows what we were thinking at the time. We never moved past our conversations or good intentions and put them into action.
In 2013, I had the opportunity to quit my job and stay home with the girls and help James with our family business. What a blessing! This was also the same time that both the girls had graduated from our wonderful Christian daycare and were both now in public elementary school. We realized that no one was going to be teaching them those sweet prayers and songs anymore, we needed to get our act together if we were going to put any of those conversations and intentions for our family into action. So we did it, we dressed our family up on a Sunday morning in August and made our way to church. I started to sign them up for all the things, Sunday school, Wednesday night program after kids choir and church dinner, vacation bible school and I bought more books and devotionals.. I’m a dive into the deep end type of person so we were all in! Except here’s the truth, we were sort of drowning…The girls complained about getting up early and getting dressed up on Sunday mornings, I was yelling at everyone (including James) to take the devotions more seriously and all the how to raise a great Christian kid books were making me feel overwhelmed and stressed out! We were all having a hard time sticking with anything and it started to feel like a whole bunch of tasks to complete.
It took me a while to understand why that was all so hard and not really working. The answer: James and I did not have a relationship with Jesus. I had grown up in church but had fallen away and James had never opened a bible or knew anything other than what he’d heard at our bi-annual church visits and occasional wedding. We had previously relied on others to pour into our girls and at home we were trying to do it from an empty bucket. It wasn’t natural or coming from a place we knew anything about. So, we eased up on our checklist and just started making our priority getting to church on Sunday, not because we had to but because we wanted to learn and grow and worship. I really got serious about reading the bible and building a relationship with Jesus that I remember seeking in high school but forgot about once I got to college. James and I decided to commit to a year long bible study on Sunday nights together as a couple. That investment in God, each other and ourselves changed everything for our family. Things went from being a should do to a get to when it came to learning about God and teaching our girls about who He is, how much He loves us and what Jesus did on the cross for us. It opened our eyes to the fact that we had been living so many years relying on our own control and strength and made us realize our need for God. Life the old way would no longer work for us!
Although I still love a great devotional and you better believe our girls are signed up for life groups and all that amazing stuff at church, I try to not look at all of it like a checklist I must complete for them by the time they graduate high school. Rather, James and I make our priority now being solid in our relationship with the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to do a great work in us so that we can live out our faith and reliance on Him in front of our girls so they can see Jesus in us. We are far from perfect and believe me our girls know it, but through our example my hope is that they will too want to know God. Ultimately, God has an amazing plan for our kids and the closer we grow to know Him the more we are able to unclench our hands and keep them open to trust in that plan.
We can take a lesson from Paul in what he wrote to Timothy about being a good servant of Jesus Christ. In 1 Timothy 4:12 he writes, “…be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
When it comes to faith, make sure your buckets are full so that you’re able to pour into your kids. I’ll be praying for you!!