After kids began arriving in our care, first as foster children and then as permanent fixtures in our lives, I realized fairly quickly how little I really knew about parenting. I am an oldest child; a firstborn of three girls. Some might think that my practice as a big sister over the years would have taught me how to mother.
In many ways, it was a help. I knew basic how-to's like diaper-changing and making simple meals to keep the kids fed. But as a big sister, I lacked training in concerning myself with the bigger picture. Keeping kids alive from one day to the next is not being a mother. Part of a mother's responsibilities -- I've discovered -- lie in my abilities to foresee the direction in which our kids are headed.
Often times, foresight saves our kids from immediate injury. If I see my very fast, easily distracted son hopping out of the car in the parking lot before I'm able to get to his side, I know I'd better run faster than he does or quickly call out for him because based on prior experiences with him, I am pretty sure he's going to lunge into traffic without so much as a glance away from his light-up shoes (he loves to watch how fast they make him go).
I am grateful for those moments when my God-given women's intuition and the foresight that comes from understanding our children and their limits, saves us all a lot of trouble and grief. However, a mother's foresight must be comprised of so much more than these little moments of proactive correction.
My job as a mama isn't to demand my children to do or become what I want them to be. My job is not even to decide what I would like them to be. My job -- in the bigger picture -- is to set my eyes on a goal for them and encourage them to move towards it a little every day. The goal cannot and should not be deciding upon a specific career path (though I wouldn't mind at all if at least one of our kids became a wealthy doctor) or whether or not they should marry and have children (though I smile at the idea of becoming a grandmother one day).
Instead, my goal for our children is that they know Christ and grow to feel a burden and a passion to serve and honor Him. What greater reward for a mother is there than to know that our children are focused on the Most High and that after our time on earth is done, we'll be reunited again in heaven? And who am I to decide how the Lord shall use them as part of the Body?
I'm putting it simply, but believe me when I tell you that it is not a simple task. There are days when one of our children is behaving horridly and shows not a shred of empathy for the people he is hurting and truthfully, the thought has crossed my mind that this child is headed straight for jail in another ten years or so if he continues in this way. (I do know the cringing looks crossing your mind at this moment because I've seen them on myself.)
That's when I step back from being so short-sighted and decide that A) maybe it's just a bad day and I'm overreacting, and B) if he was headed for jail ... would that be so horrible? Who is to say that the Lord couldn't meet him in there? And think of how much Light my son -- well-trained in the words of Scripture and the love and forgiveness of Christ -- might be for the other inmates.
So maybe you think I've lost it. You might be thinking, "This is her second post? She thinks her son might be better off in jail and I'm supposed to keep reading this blog?!" Ha.
Maybe I am crazy. Five kids will do that to you.
Getting back to the point though, as a mother, I need to allow God to do the work that He has planned in the lives of our children, while instructing them in how to listen for God's leading -- wherever their paths may roam. This is easier said than done.
However, thanks to one of my other mother friends, I learned of a book that I am going to recommend for you to read. The book is titled, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, by Jodie Berndt. I started reading the book a few years back and I don't think I've ever really put it down for very long.
I pray. I've spent years and years praying. But there was something no one had ever really explained to me before learning of this book, and that is that there is so much power in praying God's words back to Him. This book is not one that lives on my bookshelf. I keep it conveniently in my nightstand so that when I'm having a tough moment, I can retrieve it and pray specifically to the immediate need -- as it pertains to the path my child is on.
Additionally, each of our children has unique challenges that they struggle with on a daily basis. In our house, we deal with very low self-esteem and issues of jealousy; issues of purity and honesty; issues of narcissism and trust ... and the list goes on. This book has enabled me to locate specific Scriptures particular to each of their struggles and I have those written on index cards that I keep in my purse.
When I am in a doctor's waiting room or a long line at the store, I've been so grateful to have the cards so close at hand. I pull them out and reread the Scriptures -- the prayers -- one more time. Sometimes, I come across a Scripture I've been praying for a while and realize it has been answered. I can rejoice in that very moment. "Woo-hoo! God is good!"
Other times, I realize I need to add a different child's name to a verse I'd been praying for one of the older ones for a while. Sometimes, I add new verses to the purse-collection when new circumstances demand more prayer -- though I rarely remove a card. But that's just me, I'm pretty sure by the looks of things, my purse likes keeping lots of extra stuff because I never know when it might come in handy.
The point is, as a mother, I must have foresight for our children. It is my job to help protect and encourage them and sometimes, that means speaking to the Lord instead of speaking directly to our kids. Know the way you would like your kids to go and trust Him to bring them there in His way and His time.
It's not easy, but it can be simple. Pray and wait upon the Lord.