As I sit and write I am filled with anticipation, fear and uncertainty. When you hear the reason you may think I'm being a tad dramatic but it is my reality. I was just confronted with the realization that my girls start school next week. Most moms I know are doing the happy dance, cheering with a joyful anticipation. I sit here with dread and a heaviness. I'm starting to process our summer of vacation and fun and questioning if I've used our summer wisely. I have the uniforms and shoes in order, backpacks and lunch kits ready on their hooks, school supplies purchased. I have everything for back to school ready, except I wonder, have I done enough this summer to shape my daughter's characters so they are equipped for the year ahead. Beyond the school supplies, are they ready for the year ahead. I begin to cry as I feel I have failed them. I've sat this week listening to them bicker and run to me with every conflict. Instead of working through the fruit of the spirit with them, I yelled, sent them to their rooms and was frustrated over and over again, thinking, "I can't wait for school to start!!!"
But now I sit thinking of missed opportunities to teach my girls about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self control. They are about to go out into their school where they are going to be confronted with choices everyday; to yell at the boy who teases them or to have self control; to leave someone out of their group or show kindness. I'm not confident they have the tools to choose the latter. Have I done enough to instil God's purpose and plan for them in their heart?
I was praying about this today and was reminded that school hasn't started yet. I still have 11 more days to pour into my girls, to teach them the character in which God calls them to without the distraction of peers and homework. We still have 11 days to build in our family the habit of family devotions. Of not just praying together but teaching the girls how to pray. Of not just building their character but teaching them the meaning of character and why it's important to have good character.
There is an amazing book by Kara Durbin called Parenting with Scripture. It is a great resource to get started. It is a topical guide to equip you as a parent to instil God's principles into the everyday lives of our kids. The book offers topics from A-Z and with each topic provides scripture, discussion questions, take action activities and a challenge or parenting tip. When one of my girls speaks harshly to her sister, my response is often, "Speak kindly". When they sass me, I say, "Be respectful". When my oldest complains about something I feel is entitled, I say, "have an attitude of gratitude". All good things to teach them, but unless they understand what it means to be kind or respectful, the action is never going to get to their heart and stick. I need to not only tell them the trait I want them to possess but I need to teach them what it means and how to posses that specific character trait.
My goal for my girls is that they love God, His church and His ways. I want them to think through and apply God's instructions for them and go to the Bible for answers. I can't accomplish this goal without toiling with them proactively, teaching them how to use God's Word as our guide.
This school season doesn't have to be looked at in dread of what I haven't done but to be encouraged of what I am doing and be hopeful of how God will work in my girls as they grow in their faith. Every day is a new opportunity to teach, guide and lead by example. I'm choosing today to make every moment of Chaos count.