I had a lot of dreams when I was expecting my first child. There were many things I desired, for the baby, this new person. One of the things I longed after was a nursery that matched. There was a particular primary color bear and heart pattern that made me smile. But I did not have the finances to create my “dream” nursery. Our car seats came from garage sales, our crib was generously handed down, and much of what we needed to care for our precious daughter was given in love by our dear friends and family.
My children are grown now. My nest is empty. The car seats and cribs are gone. And as I reflect on my family, and the raising of them, I find my priorities are very, very different from the expectant mom who desired matching sheets and blankets.
Looking back on my kids and their childhood there are definitely things I would change, that I would do differently, given the chance.
I see things differently now. My focus is sharper, my vision clearer. Why? Age. Experience. Pain. And results.
I perhaps come from a very different background than many of my friends at Grace. I was not raised in the church. The members of my family of origin are not yet Christ followers. I began to follow Christ in high school and when I did I sought out a church and I chose the church with the most vibrant youth group.
We had a lot of fun. And we were groomed for leadership. We lead a worship service every year. We planned our weekly meetings, and all our activities- Cedar Point trips, taffy pulls, beach trips, putt putt. And because we had a lot of fun we drew a larger and larger crowd.
I went into that church with some assumptions. I assumed that the kids in this youth group, most of whom were brought up in the church, I assumed that they were all Christ followers. After leaving high school and going away to college, I was stunned, shocked, to discover that, in fact, most did not follow Christ. Nor do they yet today.
Fun outings and fun outreaches are very nice and they make for nice memories. But I don’t know what they do for bringing kids closer to God.
I don’t care how many memories of ski trips and goofy games and inflatables my kids have. I used to care, but now I don’t. I don’t care.
What I do care about is how many Bible verses they have memorized, and sadly I think it is few indeed. God forgive me.
I spent a lot of energy driving a lot of kids to VBS. I taught VBS, I led VBS. I have photos of my kids and all our neighbors at VBS. We were here for Pioneer Club and Scooters. We painted flower pots in the form of snowmen, reindeer and santa. We have a stacked box snowman that we made during Christmas Memories.
And after all those activities I was tired. Very, very tired. Often too tired to talk to my kids about what they learned. Too tired to spend a lot of time tucking them in, you know that time of night when they are interested in talking not sleeping? I was interested in quiet and sleep.
Yes, we have many “Christmas Memories.” But where are the kids I brought? Where are the families we invited? I don’t see them following Christ. And that breaks my heart.
Because that was the point. The reason I brought kids to VBS, the reason I taught it, the reason we hosted Christmas Memories, was to bring people to Christ. We all want to bring people to Christ. But what if these fun and special times are only fun and special? What if they do nothing to draw people to God?
I am not saying that activities do nothing to further the kingdom of God, they may. But I haven’t seen the results. I haven’t seen it. So forgive me, but I am not interested in creating memories for your children. They deserve more.
I have an empty nest now. And that means that more of my life, more of my time on this earth is behind me, not in front of me.
The time I have left, be it 30 years, 30 months or 30 minutes, I want to spend that time being direct. Direct with kids, direct with parents, direct with you. I plan to spend my time praying and drawing closer and closer to my God. I plan to spend my time talking to kids about my God.
We live in a noisy world and I don’t intend on making any more noise. I want to spend my time teaching kids to discern the voice of truth.
The prophet Micah tells us that God has shown us what is good and what the Lord requires of us- to live justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.
That’s what I want for my kids and for yours too. More than good memories. More than anything.