It's hard than I ever dreamed, most especially when you want to raise kids according to scripture, not according to what the world says is normal.
It forces you to your knees. It forces you to rely heavily on God. No way around it.
And it's hard.
Did I mention it's hard?
I've got so much to learn. This list tends to grow by the second.
Yet, there are some things I know to be true. Tonight I'm focusing on that.
Kids need LOVE.
They need to know three important things about love.
They need to know that we LOVE God. They need to know our love for God is real---not just for show. Not just on Sunday morning. They need to know that what you say you believe is what you walk. When you fail, and you WILL, they need to know that you are willing to ask for forgiveness. They need to know that God is your priority above all else. They don't just need your words. They need your actions. They need to know that when faced with hard decisions, you are willing to go to God and ask for direction. They need to see us walk in obedience even when it's much easier to do what the world says.
They need to know that mom and dad LOVE each other. They need to see it. I firmly believe that kids needs to see affection between their parents. They need to see how to treat their future spouse and they need to see what to look for when choosing their future partner. A home without affection leaves too many questions in their hearts as to whether mom or dad truly love each other. Dance in the kitchen. Hold hands. Laugh together. Snuggle on the couch. Yes, don't be afraid to *gasp* kiss in front of them. They may pretend it grosses them out, but in reality it sends a clear message that they are in a stable home. Recently, someone criticized me for posting this picture:
Let me tell you: I love it. I cherish it. It's us. It's the real us. When I said something to the kids about the criticism, they literally laughed out loud. Their response centered on the fact that it's far from damaging for them. That it in fact gives them confidence. As a matter of fact, they begin to get worried when the affection starts to dwindle because we are running in too many directions. A kiss at the door when their dad is walking in from work, says I value him and he is the priority. The best part of that conversation was that it ended with my daughter laughing and making the promise that if we ever were so old and unable to be cared for to the point that we needed to put in a nursing home, she promised that our wheelchairs would be close enough together that we could still dance. A promise! Yes, I think that speaks volumes as to whether they are being "damaged" by such pictures! :)
They need to know that we LOVE them. I don't mean buying their love with things. I mean ALL aspects of love. Our time (both quality AND quantity). They need to know that we will fight for them and protect them. They need to know that we love them enough to discipline them and train them. Love isn't in the form of being their friend. Parents first. They need affection and one-on-one focus and attention. They need to know that they are our world, but they still have responsibilities and not to expect things to be handed to them. They need REAL love, not love that the world says is normal. Above all, they need US. All of us. The world is going to knock them down, but they need to know our love is unconditional and belongs to them regardless of their behavior. They need to see us model the love of Christ for them----so that we can point them towards Him.