At twenty-two, I struggled as a new parent. So selfish; my life looked like the Bermuda Triangle; tugging, pulling, and twisting me downward, in a million different directions. Something unseen seemed to hinder me from living in the freedom I should have had, as a new wife and mother.
At first, life with a family felt crushing and defeating, but soon I learned it was God’s gift turning me to the new life He was promising.
I returned my heart to Jesus in a pew with that new infant, sleeping in my arms. Grace covered me, and it was refreshing to step into a church where I could where jeans, and there was no finger pointing, asking me what I had done.
For the first time in my life, I was loved, seen, known, just exactly as I was.
Eventually, God showed me His heart for parenting; not the lowest purpose, but perhaps one of God’s greatest callings.
Today, missions, traveling, and writing bring much outside praise and affirmation. Still, there is something about those quiet moments of raising children that root us deeper in Him, ushering us through the process of Christ-likeness and sanctification.
And I wonder, more than the loud and seen ways we can serve Him so diligently, could it be these moments of honoring and respecting, nurturing and caring for those He has given us, be where Jesus is glorified most?
I mean, let’s face it, parenting is a call to those small, unseen, deeper purposes, requiring us to turn our focus from ourselves, giving our lives away, like He did, for the ones He’s placed beside us.
God hides treasures of blessings deep inside children.
Scripture teaches, they were born to praise. (Matt 21:15-16) They’re a heritage, a reward, and a blessing. (Psalms 12:3-5) In fact, their praise actually silences and stops the enemy. (Psalms 8:2) And if Jesus uses children as an example of what we must be like to enter the Kingdom (Matt 18:3), if He welcomed children with open arms and willingly, (Mark 10:13-16) shouldn’t we too?
Centuries later, our society still can reject, discard, and denounce the importance of children. Why is that?
At twenty-something, I didn’t realize how vital, influential, and crucial my role as a parent would be. Instead, I caved to the ideation that the grass is greener, the world’s priorities had some untapped measure that couldn’t be found while changing diapers, training my child, or making yet one more trip to the grocery store, with blurred eyes and sweat pants.
Twenty-four years since holding my son on that pew and surrendering, I am so thankful my church valued teaching children day and night about His purposes (Duet 6:7), the importance of early childhood (Prov 22:6), and raising kids with proper love (1 Cor 13), nurture (1 Peter 2), and discipline. (Eph 6:1-4).
In fact, today, my husband and I travel across the world, visiting kids without parents, and as foster parents we too often, sadly see the gap found in children without any able parent to guide them.
That Bermuda-triangle-type-deception has long since been disintegrated. Selfishness and self-centeredness can never replace His proven love, hope, heart and the value of what He told us…
If we welcome one of these little children in my name, we welcome Him. (Mark 9:37)
Let’s kneel down, get low, and look deep into the hearts of those treasures he’s put beside us. We just might be changing the world, through raising our children, and have failed to realize it yet, in the small of the most common day and quiet of our obedience to love like He loves us…His children.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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