The elders of our church called us to fast and pray for the month of April. As a family, we wanted to pick something that we could all do together. After negotiations and lots of discussion, the decision was to leave off TV for a month. Well, the kids thought that was too easy for me because I really don’t like TV that much anyway. They challenged me to fast Facebook and their dad to leave off YouTube and Facebook to make it fair. We agreed and are rounding the end of our month-long media hiatus.
I have to say that I have enjoyed the peace that this month brought. Not only did we pray a lot more, we spent way more quality time together. Instead of movie night we were outside kicking around a ball and wrestling in the living room. Pandora praise music replaced the afternoon show while folding the laundry. We found ourselves getting to bed on time and our chore lists checked off consistently.
I have to be honest; all of this did not come without some growing pains. About 10 days in, my daughter Faith had a little crying pity party. She loves TV more than anyone I know and during a normal month we have to set strict guidelines on how much she watches or she would actually transform into Candace from Phineas and Ferb.
“Honey, you have turned TV into an idol,” Brian told her.
“What do you mean dad? An idol? Not me…”
“Yes, TV has become so important to you that you feel like you can’t get by without it. The only thing we should desperately want that bad is God.”
A couple days later she came back to us on her own, “Dad, you were right. TV was my idol. I don’t want it to come between me and Jesus.” What a sweet learning moment. Matt…well at 4-years-old, he didn’t have any profound revelations from God, but he did learn what fasting means and I think it will be a reference for him when we enter into a similar time like this again.
Moving forward I am really thankful for this time. It reset our TV expectations going into the summer months. It also convicted me about the time I wasted on things like Facebook, Pintrest, ect. Just like my kids, I needed to get a fresh perspective on what is considered normal for my personal media use. I have to say, it is way more rewarding spending time figuring out why there is a rainbow around the throne in Revelation than catching up on the next season of The Dog Whisperer…speaking of which, I wonder if he Tweets…
My kids love old people. It is a highlight of their month to go visit the local nursing home and see the older people there. On their own initiative they started saving all of their coloring pages so they could go by and pass them out as little gifts. I know that senior centers are intimidating for many people, but amazingly this caution has never overcome my kids. I would love to tell you it is because they just ooze the love of Jesus, but I think it is more about the attention they receive when they go.
Faith is told she is the prettiest girl they have ever seen and she can practice her singing skills receiving thunderous praise. Matt likes following his sister and obsessively makes sure no senior is left out as we pass out our pictures. He likes being told how smart he is and how sharp he looks.
A few months back we were delivering valentines and stopped by the room of a man who had lost most of his speaking ability. He had large tumors covering his bald head and was obviously having a challenging time with his memory and motor skills. As we entered the room, a sweet little old lady in a red Sunday suit greeted us. She was fixed up from head to toe with fresh make up and her hair curled sweetly. “Come right in here and see my valentine,” she said. “I came to visit my sweetie here on Valentine’s Day and brought him a cake. You know we have been married for 70 years and he is just as handsome as always.” She went on to tell us how she had gotten too weak to care for him at her home any longer, but she comes by to visit him every day. “He still is my sweetheart,” she said as she stroked his disfigured head.
Later on as I was thinking about the amazing love of this lady, I pulled my kids aside. “You know, real love is not about Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and all of those Disney fairytales. Real love is that sweet lady in the red suit. Did you see how she saw him as her prince even though he did not look like a prince any longer? That is the love that mommy wants to have for daddy and I want you guys to have for your husband and wife one day. That is how Jesus loves us.”
70 years of covenant love. This is what has been lost in my generation. This is the true definition of marriage. This is the love that echoes the love of Christ for His church and shows the world a glimpse of heaven on earth. My prayer is that in 60 years you will find me in a little red suit on Valentine’s Day with my sweetie rolling off into the sunset on our white power scooters.
You hear it over and over: 50% of marriages are headed for divorce.
It just didn’t feel real to my husband and me. Both sets of our parents have always been together, and although we knew divorce was a big problem, the 50% statistic just did not seem real. Now that we have been married for almost 10 years and are in our mid-thirties, we are watching marriages drop like flies.
After walking close friends through some very tough times, we started looking at each other and decided we needed to take the maintenance of our marriage seriously. It’s like that guy whose brother gets diabetes and he decides that his morning trip to Krispy Kreme may not be the greatest idea. Our friendly wake-up call taught us a few things that we try to live by today:
Every once in a while, you need a tune up. Once a year, we go on a marriage retreat with our church, take advantage of the 6 counseling sessions on our insurance plan, or in the least read a book together and talk about what we need to brush up on. We are human. Gradually we focus on ourselves and get into unhealthy patterns. It is also wise to have these tune ups with someone who could help you if you really did get into a serious crisis one day.
No matter how angry we get, we do not fight dirty. By dirty I mean: name calling, using phrases like “you always/you never,” or any sentence really that starts with “YOU…,” bringing up past wrongs, or anything that is said in an attempt to injure or sting. This means that although my husband loves to use sarcasm for fun, he has to leave it at the door when we fight. I, on the other hand, naturally want to give the silent judgmental treatment when I’m mad and I have to kick that to the curb as well. We can get heated if we want, but never in front of the kids. We have to remember that we are on the same team and that Christ is our coach.
We need to be together physically on a regular basis. In a trusting relationship, sex can bring us together in a way that almost nothing can. I think God created it as a special bond between a man and a woman and that is why it has been attacked and twisted by the enemy in so many ways. Moms, I know after you have a few kids that this area can really suffer. Either because hormonally you have changed or because of you just don’t feel so sexy anymore in your new body. Please don’t throw up your hands and quit. Go to the doctor and have a talk with your OBGYN if you need to. They talk about these issues every day with their patients. It is not just about the bedroom, it’s about the future of your marriage.
Most importantly, we have learned to pray for each other. Before Brian leaves for work in the morning, he prays for me. Sometimes he leaves so early in the morning I am not even up, but he stops by my bedside and prays for me anyway. When the Lord brings things to my mind throughout the day, I pray for him and send him a text to let him know. Texting is also a great way to say: “I need some prayer ASAP, I am about to go into an important meeting” or “your children are driving me insane. Can I have some on the spot prayer?”
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list; but for us, these are the things that we had to really work on to get right. Nothing reflects Christ and His love for us more than a healthy marriage. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it is worth it.
Drama on Tuesday, GAs or RAs on Wednesday, dance on Thursday, scouts on Friday . . . sound familiar? Although we have made a conscious choice to limit our outside activities, they have begun to pile up for us since we started homeschooling. Every night we do our best to sit around the table together as a family and have dinner. It is really important to me because dinner is the time that we unwind for the day and share our lives.
Everything seems to come out at dinner . . . behavior issues we need to work on, precious moments during the day, relationship conflicts, major accomplishments . . . they all get shared during dinner. I have been tempted to video tape our dinner one day a month just so I can have a sampling of what our life is truly like. At this stage in our lives, dinner tends to be unhurried. Typically because Matt is the slowest eater on the face of the earth and it would do us no good to hurry. We are going to be at the table awhile anyway. I am one of those mean moms who cooks one meal and everyone is expected to eat it. They will probably be scarred for life, but I am sure their spouses will one day thank me.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:19-21).
I have read this passage so many times, but it was recently pointed out to me that when Jesus says He will come and eat with us, He is referring to a certain meal that they had in their custom called the depipnon. At this meal, they would sit and dine for hours. It was an unrushed meal where they would share their problems and really get to know each other. The workday had ended and they could finally sit and have a good time developing their relationship. It’s not a meal where they would throw burgers from the front to the back of the donkey cart.
Jesus wants to dine with me. He really cares what I have to say and He wants to speak to me about it. Just like in my family when we dine together, all kinds of things come out. At times, I need some discipline. Other times, I need a close friend to just hear me out. It’s not just one sided. I want to hear from Him, too.
What does the world look like through His eyes? What are His priorities right now? When He dines with me, some of the things He “serves up” are not to my liking or my taste. Just like my kids have to swallow down mom’s broccoli, there are times Jesus gives me some things to work through that I would rather not even look at. These are the times that I must trust that He works for my good and He is serving up the healthiest life for me. I want to make it to the end. I want to be one who endures and knowing me, I am not going to make it if I don’t make “dining” with Jesus a priority.
Here’s the kicker though . . . at my house, I don’t let my kids whine about the food. They can respectfully let me know it’s not their favorite, but that’s about it. If I am not going to be a hypocrite, I can’t whine to Jesus either. My attitude needs to be thankfulness, gratitude . . . and please may I have more of the brussel sprouts? They are sure not my favorite, but I know they are healthy for me.
Our family has been watching the sequestration news now for several weeks waiting and wondering what will come. Now that it is on our doorstep, our family will face a 20 percent pay cut along with a large number of families in our city on March 1st. Many of our plans will have to go on hold: our 10 year anniversary trip, the playground in the backyard, Easter dresses, and fun nights eating out with friends.
Weeks prior, when I first learned about the possibility of this cut, I came to my husband Brian and asked him if he heard anything at work. He shared that he didn’t want to concern me prematurely about it, but that sequestration was a real possibility. “Tish, we are not going to live in fear. We are going to cut back on expenses and trust in God.”
Over the past few weeks, Psalm 20:7 has been rolling around in my mind: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” I trust in Jesus. I trust Him to help me find new, inexpensive recipes to feed my family. I trust Him to show me when my Target “find” is a luxury. I trust him to teach me to be content with last years Easter dress and game night instead of movie night.
My trust is in Him and I choose to be grateful. I am grateful to live in a situation that 20 percent does not mean I can’t make my house payment or feed my family. I am praying for those families that are forced to ask those questions. As believers, we are not to be a people who panic in times of hardship. We are to walk in the peace of God. His peace will walk us through this storm and I have a hunch that we will walk out of it in a better place.
Kim: My name is Kim Nichols. I was a bully. My story gives you a small glimpse in how God works and His sovereignty. I know God has a purpose for wanting this story out there, and I pray that whoever reads this will see God’s work in my life.
I was a skinny, curly brown-haired girl who hung out with people who would have been called the “popular kids” in school. By the time I was in fourth grade, I had really become good at bullying other kids. If I thought you were a goodie-two-shoes or I didn’t like you for some reason, I would push you around or call you names. If someone else in my group of friends didn’t like you, then we all would pick on you. In fifth grade, there was this one girl I would pick on to no end. Her name was Leticia. I would say something mean to her and she would reply with, “Why, thank you.” It made me so mad that what I had done to her or said to her would never faze her, but she would always respond with, “Why, thank you.” It made me want to pick on her that much more. I kind of took it as a personal challenge for the year.
Leticia: Third grade was such an awkward year for me. It was the year I got a retainer and glasses—the ones with super large frames. I always had long hair and, that same year, I decided I wanted it cut like Mary Lou Retton from the Olympics. However, my mom secretly told the hairstylist to give me a perm too . . . so I ended up having the hairdo that all old Baptist ladies in the choir have. Oh my, what a tough year that was. I went from cute little second grader to, well, let’s just say I wasn’t the coolest kid in school.
It was also the first year I remember Kim Paulk being in my class. We grew up together at Pine Meadow Elementary. It seemed that I could not avoid her. The name-calling and threats that she would beat me up—it was non-stop. “Fatty, ugly, goodie-two-shoes.” I would go home and I would cry to my parents . . . and to God. I remember asking God why. Why would a person be so mean? What did I ever do to her? Why me?
Kim: While I was in fifth grade, my sister was in a car accident and was killed. I took some time off from school for the funeral and to grieve. When I arrived back at school and sat down at my desk, I realized someone had left me a card. I remember opening it and reading the card and at the bottom it was signed from Leticia. I remember to this day the feeling of shock that she, of all people, would have given me a sympathy card. I just could not believe after all I had said and done to her, she would give me a card saying how sorry she was for me of all people. It made me feel horrible. From that time on, I stopped making her my target. At that point in time, I was too young to realize why I was acting so aggressively.
From an early age, I was verbally and physically abused at home. Over the summer, before my 5th grade year, I found my mother after she tried to commit suicide covered in her own blood. She was hospitalized, and upon her release, my sister, who was 16-years-old, was killed in the car accident. My mother then spiraled out of control and ended up back in the hospital where she then decided she no longer wanted to be our mother. She and my father decided to divorce. This was a lot for a child my age to understand: abuse, depression, death, divorce, and loss.
As I got older, things progressively got worse including a sexually abusive uncle and stepfather. And so my behavior got worse as well. I hated my life, and then turned to abusing drugs. By the time I turned 16, I started dating a man who was 24-years-old. The abuse continued until my mother threw me out of her house with nothing but the clothes on my back and 50 cents in my pocket.
I then moved in with the man I was dating. Soon after, I ended up on the street wandering around, staying with person after person. I can remember at one point sleeping in a friend’s car. I eventually ended up living with man after man while the pattern of abuse continued. At the age of 17, I became pregnant with my oldest son. I had no family, no support, and no one to help me, but I decided to keep my child. I ended up choosing to raise my child. To me there was no other option; although, I had yet to break the self-destructive patterns that began for me when I was a child. I continued on a destructive path until my early twenties when I decided I wanted to give my son more than what my parents gave me. I ended up meeting a man who, for the first time, treated me nicely. It wasn’t about what I was going to give him in return for his kindness to me. At 24, I married him and moved to McAllen, Texas.
Because my family didn’t go to church, I never understood what church was really about; and that it was a relationship with God that I needed. My first glimpse of salvation was at 14. I went to church with one of my friends and came forth for an altar call. So that day I accepted Christ, but didn’t really understand it fully. I just knew that I wanted a Redeemer who would love me unconditionally. I knew that was something I never had before.
Once we moved to McAllen, I met one of my son’s teachers who invited me to Bible Study Fellowship for Women (BSF). I attended BSF for a year, and while going, I came to understand what having a Savior was about. I chose to recommit my life to Christ. I then attended the church I was invited to by one of my husband’s friends from work. I have been attending church for the last 10 years and have a stronger relationship and love for God than ever before. God has changed my life in so many ways. I continue to grow and stretch with Him every year. I have a lot of healing to do still, but I know now that in time God will heal me from it all. I look back now and can see how God was continually putting Christians in my path to help guide me to Him. Now all these years later I fully understand what it is to have a God that loves me so much that He sent His only Son to be my Redeemer.
I now have three boys who are 18, 13, and 11-years-old, and I am continually trying to raise them up in the Word of God so that they will always know that our God is a mighty God who loves them and cares for them unconditionally. (Although as times change, it is getting harder and harder.) As a Christian parent, my faith is what inspires me in all my children’s issues, including bullying.
From a mother’s perspective I now have been able to see both sides of bullying. My older son has struggled over the years with being bullied and my middle child has at times been the bully. I have experienced the pain and the depression it has caused my oldest. I have explained to them that the actions of kids who are mean to other children really don’t have anything to do with them. These kids are hurting in some way and just don’t know how to transfer their feelings of anger or inadequacy in a positive way. I try to make them see another side so they can better understand that it really isn’t about them. It’s about how the other kid is feeling on the inside. I feel like there are a lot of children out there hurting and angry and not sure how to express it, or they are in a situation in which they have no control and aren’t sure how to deal with it.
Leticia: When I was in first grade, Jesus moved into my life and shared His great love for me. He called me to Himself and made me His child. Now in the third grade, I found myself climbing up into His lap day after day and just weeping. God used that time in my life in a mighty way. I learned how to love my enemy. I learned how to turn the other cheek. I learned how to forgive someone who had no idea they needed forgiveness. It was not easy, but it was a major marker in my life. I am not the same today without Kim Paulk. James 1 says that the testing of our faith develops perseverance and that perseverance must finish its work so that we will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. All the teasing and bullying Kim meant it for evil, but God was using it for my good.
A few years ago I received a message on Facebook from Kim. She had been looking for me. She had become a believer in Jesus and wanted to ask my forgiveness for all of the things that she did to me when we were kids. She said that she knew I was a believer from how I treated her as a child. She told me about her past and all the hurt she was experiencing in elementary school. My heart was completely torn for all the pain that she experienced. I never knew.
Most people don’t ever get the answer of “why” when they call out to God in their desperation—at least not on this side of heaven. I think God allowed me as a little girl to endure trial so that a greater good could come. God would receive glory from it. He would use my obedience to send a tiny message to a hurting girl. I was a small blimp in the big picture of what He was doing in Kim’s life. This story is not about me, or even about Kim. It’s about God. He knew the plans He had for us almost 30 years ago . . . plans to help us and not to harm us, plans to give us both a hope and a future.
Kim: My children know some of my story; I have tried to explain to them that I was a bully and that hurting people didn’t make my life any better. I was taking out my anger on other people because I didn’t know how to fix my situation. I would attack other people because school was the only place I had control and I wanted to make sure everyone stayed away from me. That way, I could avoid any more pain. I did those things to let out my anger that was pent up inside me. I continue to encourage my children to forgive, let go, and let God because in the end that’s all we really can do. I pray that what I say sinks in, and that my children make the right choice to forgive and look past someone else’s mistakes; I also tell them to try not to take other’s mistakes on as their own. I have to continue to trust that whatever happens, God will take it and turn it into good for His glory.
I hope that everyone who reads this story can grow in some way, by giving you a glimpse into a life of a bully who was struggling to ease her pain, and that God is using it to touch you and give you healing or knowledge into a broken heart of a child.
Leticia: I know being a mom is one of the toughest jobs in the world. When someone hurts your kid, you just want to run the rescue and do whatever it takes to get them out of that situation. It is tempting to teach them to hit the kid back or retaliate. I am not even beginning to say I have all the answers about how to approach such a sensitive subject. My only plea to you is to pray and respond how the Lord leads you. Remember who you are, Who you represent, and what Scripture says about responding to those who hurt you. Behind the scenes, there may be a hurting child who needs desperately to see the love of Christ.
For more information on bullying prevention and resources to teach your students or kids about bullying, go to wmu.com/ProjectHELP.
Last night I loaded my iPod full of podcasts and made my way up to Faith’s room to paint after the kids were asleep in other rooms. I started listening to a sermon by John Piper entitled, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” I would paint a little, listen a little, and think a lot. Piper talked about “holding the rope” on our side of the world. If we are not called to go away from home to share the gospel, we are called to support those God has sent.
Have you ever thought back about mistakes you have made and kick yourself again for the poor choices of the past? Oh my, it is a constant battle for me to remember that Jesus has forgiven me of all the sins of my past. As I listened to the podcast, I remembered back a few years ago. A friend of mine in a very daring place on the mission field asked me to send her some books for encouragement. “Oh sure!” I said. “Give me a week and I will send some to you.” You know what happened? Nothing. I procrastinated. I got busy and I did nothing. My friend on the front lines needed me and I dropped the rope.
How many missionary pictures do we have on our fridge that have gradually gotten moved to the side and forgotten about? How many families do we casually tell at church, “We’ll be praying for you,” and we walk away and…we don’t. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am not pointing a finger. I am talking about myself. God has really done a number on my life in the last 10 years and the area of honesty. I don’t want to be a person who tells everyone I am praying for them when I really am just so busy in my own stuff that the thought won’t even cross my mind 2 seconds after the promise is off of my lips. That podcast last night really read my mail and the Lord used it to convict me. I need to change.
So, what does this mean? Most likely, our family needs to hold up one or two families in prayer and commit to do anything it takes to encourage them. I can’t commit to pray every day for 6 missionary families no matter how I would like to. Secondly, I am either going to stop people that need prayer right then and pray for them on the spot or I am not going to promise to pray unless they are enough a priority to put a system in place to make that happen. This social fluff I have adopted as habit is nothing more than well intentioned lies.
James says, “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.” God has spent the last few years of my life sweeping out the cobwebs and dusty corners so that I would live a life of integrity and honesty. I want to be a woman of my word, especially when it comes to my commitments to those serving Jesus on distant shores.
I have a dream—a dream that one day I will be able to wake up at seven o’clock and pour a large cup of coffee and sit down with Jesus in peace and quiet of the morning. In this dream I will crack open the Bible and read amazing truths that will transform my life while I eat a large bagel and cream cheese in my size small pj's.
Forget about it.
When I was growing up, I learned that having a quiet time was essential to spiritual growth. I don’t know if my church intentionally tried to teach this or not, but there it was on the offering envelope. That envelope had all these boxes you had to check every week and you had to turn one in, wither you had any money in it or not. The categories were: Offering, Bible read daily, Prayers daily, went to Tuesday night “visitation,” Brought a friend…I think there were a few more. Now in my mind, if I was able to check all these boxes off on Sunday, I had hit it out of the park. I was a guaranteed genuine growing Christian…and I had the envelope to prove it.
Now that I am an adult, I know that my relationship with Jesus and my place with Him is not determined by an offering envelope, but at times I still feel like have to check off these unspoken boxes. When your kids are really little, this is super tough because no matter how hard you try there is no amount of “quite time” in your house. I barely can use the potty without little fingers sticking under the door to try to have some sort of contact with me. Ahhh! I want to say, “can’t I just be in the bathroom and talk to Jesus ALONE?!”
Some will tell you that you need to get up at 4 a.m. because Jesus rose while it was still dark and have that time then. Others feel that if you are not enrolled in a Beth Moore Bible study and “Breaking Free” from something for the 100th time, you are missing out on life.
Here are my 2 cents: Jesus created me. He knows I am not a morning person and I am not at a season that I can hire childcare for Bible studies. I am in a relationship with Him. He is raising these kids with me. He wants me to make Him a priority. So…sometimes it means that I get up early and have time alone with him while I try to pour enough caffeine in myself to stay awake. The past few weeks you can find me at the kitchen table around 6 a.m. studying the book of Revelation at the speed of smell. I have about 3 commentaries, my laptop, and my iPad open digging in and reading about Polycarp in the city of Symrna.
Other times “growing” means that I am reading my Bible story from a children’s Bible while I share with my kids. Mostly it looks like a lot of prayer throughout the day, not in these set aside chunks, but while I am doing my work. Prayers for my husband while I change out the laundry and prayers for neighbors while I open up the blinds in the morning. Prayers of thankfulness and gratitude for the little things throughout the day. Mostly out loud and almost always with my kids around. We pray for ambulances as they drive down the street and jump of out the car to praise God for rainbows in the sky. It’s not my dream “date” with Jesus every day, but it’s real and I am growing.
Good grief! I don’t know about you, but I am so glad the “magical elves” went back with Santa on the sleigh. Seriously! There was the advent calendar filled with Jesus-y notes and candy for every day. Then the advent wreath, which only got half way finished. Homemade cards for all our close family, cookie exchanges, and Christmas parties, “must do” Pinterest ideas, countdown devotionals, and paper chains….goodness gracious. Why do I do this to myself? Why do we do this to each other? You know what I am talking about moms. We put pressure on each other to do all this crazy stuff. We make it seem that if you don’t have 30 creative ways to build a manger scene in 30 days then you should be turned into the DHR division of your church.
Then after I clean up that crazy Christmas tornado that whirls through my house and leaves trash and toys lying everywhere in its path…then, the second wave of pressure comes. By February I must: get my house organized, start a 5K running plan, loose 15 lbs, and get my kids eating every veggie known to man. I seem to forget that I let them eat candy calendars every day with Jesus-y notes in them for a whole month and they are supposed to just turn around and love asparagus. Maybe if I shoved it in a decorated box with a message about how much Jesus loves them they would eat it.
So, here is my New Years resolution for 2013. Yep, I only have one. I am going to pray. That’s it. Although it would be great to have my house organized, it does not look quite ready to be on an episode of Hoarders, Buried Alive, so it can wait. Yes, I have some weight to loose and I intend on feeding my kids veggies this year, but I have a feeling that prayer will be a great way to start on those areas too. I am going to sit down with a big cup of coffee and have a great laugh with Jesus about the bottle cokes I turned into reindeer and the popsicle manger scene in hopes that He will have grace with me and walk me through 2013 with more wisdom than I had in 2012.
For two years now, my daughter Faith has wanted to be baptized. Around 5-years-old she came up to us during the service and said that while singing “How Great is Our God,” she knew she needed to turn her life over to Jesus. Of course we were excited. We began to ask a lot of questions and her answers were good ones. So good, in fact, you could have read them out of a textbook. Although we did not want to discourage an obvious work in our kid’s life, we also wanted to make sure this was fueled by the Holy Spirit and not us. We did not want some mixed together concoction of parent pressure, wanting to do the “right thing,” and attention-seeking.
Because of the trend we see in the New Testament, we believe that baptism is something to celebrate after someone comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus. For us, it is a conscious choice of obedience and a commitment to a life of loving Jesus only. To confidently say that Faith was ready for this step, we decided to wait on allowing her to be baptized or take communion. 1 Corinthians 11 lays out the challenge for believers to search their heart and explains the seriousness of the Lord’s Supper. We wanted to make sure she was able to do this level of searching.
It’s hard to see this strong of a commitment in a 5-year-old. Is she doing this because of us? We needed to see some fruit first, so we waited and watched prayerfully.
Over the past year, we have seen Faith bloom in her “faith” and have been excited about the evidence of it in her life. We have watched her grow a passion for prayer, an excitement to serve the poor, and her love for Jesus. This fall, we were at a little Girl Scout carnival. The families had set up small booths to raise money for the local animal shelter. One booth was a fortune-telling station made up with 2 little 9-year-olds girls. I was going around to the booths with my son and we sat down to let the girls tell us about our future. Later, Faith pulled me aside and respectfully rebuked me. “Mom, those girls are not getting their information from the one true God. I don’t think that is what Jesus would have wanted you to do.” She was right. As my sister in Christ, she had corrected me with love. I knew it was time. She was ready to be baptized and begin taking communion.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband had the honor of baptizing Faith in the pool at the local YMCA where our church worships. We invited her best friends and family and had a pizza party at our house afterward. She was glowing with excitement, she was ready, she understood. Everything about that day was so right. We don’t regret our decision to wait…not one bit.
In retrospect, these are the things we looked for when deciding if the time was right to move forward with believer’s baptism and communion:
A commitment of her life to Christ. A realization of her sin and the knowledge that Jesus, the one and only God, died in her place.
Some fruit that this new faith in Jesus was truly a saving faith and not just a sweet little girl doing what her parents wanted her to. For us these signs came with: Confession of sin to us when we would have never found out otherwise, conviction about serving others and ideas about how to minister to people in need, a desire to pray and get to know Jesus, and an excitement about the Bible.
An age that she would remember this important event. We wanted her to be able to look back and remember how special it was.
An ability to self-examine and determine if she was in right standing to take communion or not.
A desire to submit to Jesus when she was truly afraid, angry, or tired. It’s easy to put your game face on when things are going your way, but only the Holy Spirit in your life can draw you into the Father when you are at your lowest.
Confirmation from the Holy Spirit that the time was right.
Could our daughter still be just trying to please us? Sure. We are humans and we want this for her more than anything. We don’t have God’s insight on if she has made a commitment that will “endure till the end.” I do feel good about the fact that we thoughtfully prayed and waited to see more before we rushed her down to the baptism pool at 5-years-old. I think waiting on these sacraments taught her that these things are special and thoughtful. My hope is that she will treasure these markers in her journey forever.
Tish is a graduate of New Orleans Seminary and recently resigned her position as Children's minister at Life's Journey Church to stay at home full-time with her children. On a normal week, you can find her teaching Sunday school, leading worship with her husband, walking her out-of-control puppy, trying her hand at crochet, and singing into her hairbrush. A native of Florida, she now resides in Huntsville, Alabama, with her husband Brian and their two children Faith and Matt.