Our Children: The Here and Now

Yesterday, my wife Jen wrote about the unseen battle that is fought for our children’s hearts. Today, I’m excited that she is sharing Part 2: “Our Children: The Here and Now“. Hope you enjoy!

As parents, aunts, uncles, coaches, teachers, siblings, neighbors, how often do we find ourselves speaking of children like so: “When Bobby grows up, he is going to be such a catch” or “When Jane get’s married, she is going to be an awesome mom”, or maybe,  “When those kids graduate, they are going to be the great leaders of tomorrow”.

While it is a great thing to see the potential of the future generation, and to hope for their great accomplishments and positive change when they grown up, why is it so easy for us to look upon childhood as a phase in life that is just something to be endured, as something to quickly pass through before we can realize our potential value as adults? Unbeknownst to our consciousness, this mindset believes that we are a people only capable of great faith and value to the kingdom until later in life.

Interestingly enough and against our common logic, Scripture places value on children, the little ones that stand before us here and now. Jesus rebuked his disciples when they tried to keep the children from Him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16).  In Psalm 127:3, Solomon reminds us that, “Children are a heritage from the Lord”. Can you imagine the profound blessing of knowing Jesus for a lifetime?

When we look at our own children (or our nieces, nephews, students, neighbors, etc), can you see their hearts right now? Can you describe their passions, spiritual giftings, weaknesses, etc.?

Here is a part of a journal entry I wrote to my girls when Sophia was 2 ½ and Olivia was almost one.

May 8, 2010

Sophia ,
You are sweet and strong. You take time to listen and act carefully—you take notice of others and their feelings. Your heart is full of joy and compassion.  Thank you for loving me so sweetly.

Olivia,
You are full of joy and wonder. You light up at the sight of a smile, you hold us tightly, you giggle often. I believe that God has allowed you to see others in love; He has blessed you with His vision to see into the heart of people. You find goodness. You are quick to act and have no inhibitions!

Know that I love you both so very deeply, and that I will always desire God’s best for you. In all of my shortcomings as your mom, I hope that one day you will be able to say and truly believe that I was a woman who was after God’s heart.

Remember the time when your eyes were full of wonder, head full of imagination, heart full of passions and God-given talents, soul bursting to be seen and heard. Although time, circumstance, and experience have brought us this far, in many ways we are still that same little one.

What does it look like to see children as people that matter right now?

Photo credit: R Mercardo

40 Comments

  • Donald Borsch Jr

    February 22, 2011

    D,

    Good stuff, my sir!

    I have no idea as the the temperaments that my daughters will wear as grown women. Obviously I am hoping, (and training them to be), that they will be awesome, strong, no-nonsense,practical, joyful, and in love with Jesus.

    I simply want them to eclipse and surpass me and their mother in all things, be it financial or spiritual. I want them to know God as Father more than I ever did, and be 10X the believers that I ever was.

    I want my children to surpass me. I want them to be better than I was.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 22, 2011

      Right there with you– “I want them to know God as Father more than I ever did…”!

      Reply
      • Donald Borsch Jr

        February 23, 2011

        Jen,

        I apologize! I thought Dustin wrote this and then I see you commented and re-read it and was like, Doh!

        Sorry! You rocked this out, Jen. Nicely said.

        Reply
  • Tony Alicea

    February 22, 2011

    I love that you journaled for your girls. One day when they look back on this, they will see the love that you sowed into their hearts. This is inspiring, Jen!

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 22, 2011

      Thanks, Tony — I appreciate your words of encouragement! :)

      Reply
  • Jim F

    February 22, 2011

    I love looking at my children and seeing their strengths today. I do see things that they will be good at in the future but there are so many things they are today. I love how you point that out. I see passion and humor in both my kids as well as a bunch of other things that I do my best to share with them right now.

    Excellent post and reminder!

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 22, 2011

      So neat to look at them truly as little people — capable of love, ideas, humor, etc. Sounds silly, but I think we would all agree that we need that reminder sometimes! My girls certainly teach me a lot!

      Reply
  • Moe

    February 22, 2011

    Jen, beautiful laid out words on seeing your children as they are today, not just the future. When I look at my 6 year old and my 3 year old’s eyes, I see them for what they are today. Their personality, their passions, their fears. All things. And I rejoice in who they are today.

    I have more fun with my children than any other person. They are so young, but yet, they teach me so much. They are smart, curious, adventurous, and sometimes, just hilarious.

    *By the way, Dustin ate zebra cakes a few minutes before dinner last night. <– Zing!!

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      Moe- I appreciate the heads up on the Zebra Cakes. I think he got the point tonight….. for dinner, me and the girls had beef tri-tip, mashed potatoes w gravy, and broccoli au gratin. I served Dust grilled Zebra Cakes, mashed Zebra Cakes w gravy, and Zebra Cakes au gratin. Let’s just say it will be a while before he looks at another cake again. Haha.

      I agree — our kids teach us SO much! What I’m learning about now (quite humbling, really) from them is about forgiveness… not holding onto bitterness. Pretty amazing stuff.

      Reply
      • Moe

        February 23, 2011

        LOL. Let’s hope he learns his lesson.

        Reply
  • Jay Cookingham

    February 22, 2011

    My kids have taught me more about God than any other sermon, teaching, book…you name it! The questions, the wonderings they have brought out the kid in me time and time again!

    Wonderful post Jen!

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      Thanks, Jay! My kids teach me so much about myself too…. expose my own heart condition, etc. I am thankful for that!

      Reply
  • seekingpastor

    February 22, 2011

    One of the statements that I have heard as a life-long church goer is that “Our children are the church of tomorrow.” This assumes that they play no role in the church of today. What a terrible mind-set.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      Totally agree! This oversight by the church is also pretty tragic, considering that over half of the population is 18 years old and younger. They are who the message of Christ is for, yet how can we continue to overlook them?

      Reply
    • Melissa Brotherton

      February 24, 2011

      Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with you!

      Reply
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  • Ben

    February 22, 2011

    Great stuff here Jen, as I think about how much my children, or any children matter now, I am reminded what Paul said to Timmy in 1 Timothy 4:12.
    I try to emphasize that no matter the task, they’re setting an example and that what they do means something now, and they need to act like it (with confidence).

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      Awesome- what they do and say now is important and means something.. now! It is so important to recognize those teachable moments and daily encounters where we can train up our children. Thanks for the note!

      Reply
  • Sean Sabourin

    February 22, 2011

    Wow, what a great post. I am so glad that you have your wife sharing on your blog. Very inspirational.

    Jen,
    Your children are so fortunate to have a mom like you who values them so much. For me, my children teach me so much about myself and about others. Although I envision a big future for them as they get older, I also see the important role they play here and now in our family’s life and in the life of their friends.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      Sean, thanks for the encouragement! I agree– my children teach me SO much about myself… they expose my heart, motivations, etc. It is quite humbling, and for that I am very thankful :)

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    February 22, 2011

    My newest post is along these lines – loving her for the gift she is and has been to me, regardless of the gift she will be.

    I want both of my children to feel that they have something to offer right now. I’ve read in places that we should not praise their physical beauty or the intelligence. I don’t believe that.

    As one who felt ugly as a child (and sometimes still do), I never want them to seek out the approval of their physical beings from someone else. I give them compliments freely, when they are dressed up or not. As one who was told often to hold me tongue as a child, because I didn’t understand the situation, I praise their contribution and intelligent thoughts because I value them. I want them to know they are loved, and respected, and appreciated.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      “I praise their contribution and intelligent thoughts because I value them. I want them to know they are loved, respected, and appreciated.” — Love this Kristin! Thank you for reminding us to speak life to our children, and that in situations where it may seem that they wouldn’t understand, that they can offer a perspective that is both unique and wise.

      Reply
  • Nathan

    February 22, 2011

    Wow, this is so great Jen – thank you for this reminder. You’re so right, it’s so easy to just see our kids lives as a phase they’re going through. They have so much value and just as Christ sees their potential and heart, so should we.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      Thanks, Nathan! I know I can definitely get stuck in the mindset of thinking that, “all kids are the same”, but I am thankful for the reminders that they are unique, God-breathed, and valued as children.

      Reply
  • Lizzie

    February 22, 2011

    Love this! Your wife is very talented.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      Thanks, Lizzie! :)

      Reply
  • ThatGuyKC

    February 22, 2011

    Wow, that was beautiful.
    Funny how I find myself thinking how nice it’d be to shirk off adult responsibilities to be a kid for a week and at the same time wish my kids would grow up a little.

    I think that’s either cognitive dissonance or hypocritical.
    Thank you for the reminder to love and appreciate my children where they are in life.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      You must have been at the grocery store with us tonight….. all I wanted to do was rest my feet and ride in the cart, yet I was getting frustrated at my sweet 3 year old who wanted to touch every item of produce on display. Haha!

      Thank you for the note! :)

      Reply
  • Tom Raines

    February 23, 2011

    I LOVE the letters you wrote. What treasures of encouragement love, faith and strength. I am going to write to my children and I know this will be a blessing to them as well. Letting them know what their earthly father sees their heavenly Father has blessed them with. Thank you for sharing!!

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      Thanks, Tom– I appreciate the words of encouragement!

      Reply
  • Justin

    February 23, 2011

    Wonderful couple posts over the last two days, Jen. Dustin is a blessed man! As a Dad of two growing boys, I am reminded, daily, of their impact to the world now…as observers and learners. They take in so much information every day – from me and Lynnette, from friends at school, teachers, grandparents. They also have a beautiful way of teaching me! My five year old speaks the most astounding, truth filled words – totally unfiltered. There is a fragility and sacredness to a child’s life that is deeply connected to the heart of God, and we can’t over look it.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 23, 2011

      “there is a fragility and sacredness to a child’s life that is deeply connected to the heart of God” — awesome! Thank you for sharing!!

      Reply
  • Michelle

    February 24, 2011

    I think its very easy to look at being a Mom as a job. In a real way, it is. We do the same things every day. We discipline, we nurture, we care for them – bath, clothe, feed, and provide medical care when needed. For me, I homeschool so I’m teaching as well. And sometimes, I do this whole thing out of duty. I think there is a big difference of doing something out of duty and doing something out of passion. It’s not that I’m not ever passionate, but when we lose focus (I have at times), we just start seeing things as a duty. We do our routine. We look at it as a bother or hardship instead of an opportunity.

    I started private blogs for my 3 kids but then I got overwhelmed and haven’t written in them for over a year. Now I just write them notes. It’s easier. On that front, I heard passing around a notebook for your kids when they are older is a good idea to keeping communication open. My oldest is 12, so I can see doing that with her…but with younger kids, they wouldn’t care. Great post!

    Reply
    • Alex Humphrey

      February 24, 2011

      I like these ideas a lot, Michelle!

      Reply
    • Jen

      February 25, 2011

      “We look at it as a bother or hardship instead of an opportunity.” — Thank you for this reminder, I needed to hear that today! I know we can all relate to this feeling. Like you said, being a Mom is a job in many ways (one that you don’t get to leave at 5pm, or turn off, etc). The fact that we can see this in our walks with Christ is HUGE — just giving it up to God, admitting the frustrations, acknowledging the helpless feelings. In that, we make a place for Him to have His work in us… and little by little we become more aware of the opportunities, the blessings, etc.

      Really like the idea of passing a notebook back and forth. Will definitely make a note of that! Thank yoU!

      Reply
  • Melissa Brotherton

    February 24, 2011

    “why is it so easy for us to look upon childhood as a phase in life that is just something to be endured, as something to quickly pass through before we can realize our potential value as adults?”

    You hit a nerve with me on this. I stay home with our four kids (6-4-2-8mo) and there are times when I catch myself thinking, “I can’t wait until they’re all in school and I can have some me time.” In the midst of the poopy diapers, spilled juice, permanent markered table and non-stop whining I forget how good I have it. I feel like I need to be daily reminded to not endure my children but to enjoy them.

    Brilliant post, Jen! :)

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 25, 2011

      Thanks Melissa! I too need this as a daily reminder! We had a rough night last night with bedtime routines…. (girls decided to be up at 4am — lights on and playing with toys). I was like, “Wha??!”. They did go back to sleep eventually, but this morning before I went to get them and start the morning routine, I needed to take some time to ask God to remind me that today is a new day, and that I can put the past in the past and enjoy them this moment. Thanks for your note!

      Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    February 24, 2011

    This is so powerful, Jen!

    I worked in student ministry for a long time and the mindset of the staff and volunteers (myself included) was that middle school and high school are just something to get through so you can actually start your life.

    Remembering that every moment is one where God is using us and shaping us is a powerful thing.

    And thank you for sharing your journal, Jen. Although I am likely several years away from children (we will see what God has in store!) I will cherish this idea until God has brought them into my life. I may even begin writing to them now.

    Reply
    • Jen

      February 25, 2011

      Thanks for the note Alex! Dust and I volunteer in student ministry now, and I know that I myself need to be reminded often too that, “every moment is one where God is using and shaping us”.

      You should begin writing to them now– how awesome to be able to look back and see those notes from even before they were born! :)

      Reply
  • mo

    February 25, 2011

    It’s crazy man. looking at my own son, just barely past 2 months, it’s hard to imagine what he’s going to become, or how I’ll raise him up to know the Lord. After all, I didn’t come to faith until I was about 25 or 26.

    It’ll be an adventure, for sure. I hope I never view it as something for him to simply endure :)

    Reply

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