this kid loooves kale chips and seaweed.... no joke.
On our recent vacation, we were traveling from our vacation spot in South Carolina, back to our home in Tennessee, and we stopped at a Dairy Queen. Inside, the restaurant, Christian music was playing over the loud speaker, and they had a statue of Jesus on the counter. I was thinking, only in the South is a national chain also affiliated with Jesus Christ! Weird, right?! What struck me was my three-year-old daughter's reaction to the statue. Her eyes lit up, and she turned to her Daddy and said, "Look! JESUS!!!"
This instance happened, coincidentally the day after the shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.
This jives with all that I've been thinking about lately. Having my priorities in the right place, doing this parenting thing in love. Because if we're awesome parents, but we are not teaching them about Jesus, and holiness and most of all love, we are nothing. If we aren't teaching them the fear of the Lord and obedience to His Word, the Holy Word of God, all the other things we do run dry.
It was humbling to see my daughter so excited about Jesus. How did she know that that statue was Jesus- and why was she excited about that?
-probably because we take her to Mass every Sunday
-perhaps because we pray around the dinner table each night
-perhaps because we sing Jesus songs to her when she's tired or scared or sad
-perhaps because we're going through the catechism every night after dinner
I was holding my son recently, and I dozed off while he was happily playing in my lap. Don't just hold him.... do it in love, my soul whispered.
Part and parcel with the racism in the story of recent shootings seems to be closely intertwined the issue of stupidity and immaturity of the murderer. The forgiveness felt pat and premature to me. After what happened, I would think that it was 40% racism, and 60% stupidity and immaturity.
On our recent trip, ironically enough, we spent three nights an hour from Charleston the same weekend of the shooting. I went for a walk around the adorable town of Beaufort, SC. A woman walked in with her two pre-teen girls, both of whom had some sort of retardation, and the way they spoke made me wonder if it was perhaps from incest, but I couldn't tell for sure. Something like scorn rose up inside of me. Something like repulsion. The sound of their voices grated on my every nerve. But even when our soul is repulsed, we can love. Especially at that time. Those people - perhaps- are to show us and to teach us about Jesus. About love.
I then experienced something even more sad, to my mind. I walked into a boutique to ask for a tip on restaurants. Judging based on the dynamics I observed there, and perhaps I had it wrong, but I don't think so... it seemed there was a younger, teenage girl working the counter with several other "higher-ups," aka, older women in charge, and she seemed to be simply the pee-on worker, while they were the ones with the "true brains." She seemed very nice, just shy. I approached the counter and I asked her which Thai restaurant would be a better choice for our family that night, and she started to answer, then had to look at her older co-worker for the "real answer" or a "better recommendation."
This screamed to me that we are doing something wrong. Even if we are doing everything "right" as parents, if our kids lack confidence, perhaps it is because they don't feel loved, even if they feel everything else nice. They're warm, tucked in at night, well-fed, safe, and healthy. They may have all the security in the world. But if they have not confidence, and we have not love, we are nothing.
"An idea- a thought alone, Jesus warns us- is sufficiently evil to lead us astray, to keep us from loving God with our whole heart and mind and soul. Jesus says that to look on another with lust is the same as committing adultery. ... the image of the ideal object of desire wanting me makes me ideal as well. It makes me perfect and like a god. Objectifying another (whether we do so in lust or in anger) is a key component to idolatry, but that object is most often not the idol. Oftentimes the strange god placed before the Creator is oneself." - Elizabeth Scalia, Strange Gods
On his way to swim lessons...
How can we show love in our parenting, not just "pat answers" but deep, abiding, overflowing love?
~ Encourage -- Keep pointing them to the hope of Jesus. If they're spending too much time watching The Magic Schoolbus, and they're not using those fancy shmancy art materials you paid tons of money for, overcome evil with good. Love them anyway.
~ Live out Hope-- always...always... always... focus on the positives, so that the storm of life does not overwhelm them, the waves do not consume them. If their normal routine overwhelms them, if they're yell-y or snappy or just plain annoying when it comes time to do more chores, or more work, show them that you are above it. You're hopeful- not happy clappy- but you're not rude, either.
~ Focus on their hearts-- the heart is the wellspring of life... if we have pure water there, it will be undivided, and they will learn that purity of heart, and that constancy of intention and motivation from us! Don't spend all your free time watching or reading or consuming trash. That shouldn't be an option. Our kids know a hypocrite when they see one, even if they don't know the word until they turn 7 or 8.
~ Live Upright lives -- did you know the Latin for love is Pio- the word that Pious comes from? Because, according to my husband Latin scholar that he is, Righteousness and Love are two cords in the same strand. They are part in parcel of the same concept. When we are upright, and doing what we should do, we are also loving... God, our kids, strangers, our spouses.
Daddy: Do you want to go get ice-cream?
Anders: No! Look Fish!
~ Expect this love and righteousness from them. Hold them accountable, and as they get older, find support and community for them. Do not let them go down the road of evil, but keep fighting against the tide and the strong current of our culture that desires to engulf innocent, sweet hearts in its impurity. As I sat chatting with a friend recently at a splash pad, after returning from our trip to the beach, I was telling her all about it... but we were also talking about our conversion, our faith, and our kids' behavior. Our hearts go deeper, because our friendship is deeper than all the shallow stuff life could be about. And that is what makes all the difference.
We are on the cusp of a scary place in our nation... a nation and a people who claim to be "under God," but who- in practice- live without a conscience, without prayer, and without righteousness. This lack of love in our society will lead to things like youthful vengeance and vagrants without purpose or hope. As parents, let's all remedy that and redeem the times, so that our own children do not turn out idle, but obeyers of God's word and God-fearing citizens of His Kingdom. And people who are rooted in a faith community of richness and sincerity of heart. Because our kids? They need it.;)
Cross-posting at the ACWB