For a reason.
Looking back on life and events offers a clarity that just isn't available while you're in the throes.
I've been surveying the past a little too deeply the last few days.
Maybe because I just had a birthday.
Maybe because two of my seven children are now homeschool graduates considering returning to the US for college.
And a third is enlisting in the US Army.
As I scroll down my facebook news feed and read up on my friends with young children, they are busy doing so many of the things we did and still do:
going to homeschool co-op
driving to Upward sports
studying God's word with their children
training them in righteousness
Yeah, the bread.
I tried many, many times as a young mother to bake bread. My best friend could do it with no recipe, with her eyes closed and with one hand tied behind her back. She could bribe me to do anything with the promise of a free loaf of her bread!
But my bread always seemed to harden to concrete somewhere between my kitchen aid mixer and my counter top.
And a failure. Even women who used the wrong form of "their" and "your" could make bread. And I could not.
Today, as I use my "powers of hindsight". I see how we strove to do what we truly believed was pleasing to the Lord in regard to raising our children.
used Growing Kids God's Way until we didn't
we switched to Shepherding a Child's Heart when it proved more Biblical
banned most every cartoon that had stupid fathers or rude children
watched little TV anyhow
made our children "ask for forgiveness" rather than saying "I'm sorry"
worked on the heart, not just behaviors
taught our daughter the finer points of mothering and "wifing"
helped our sons cultivate their manliness through pocketknives and shooting
joined great co-ops and went on most every field trip they offered
memorized scripture together
fell in love with Voddie Baucham, Doug Phillips, Above Rubies and all things Vision Forum
refused to limit our family size
assigned chores at early ages and expected hard work from hearts aiming to please God
I still believe many of those things DO please the Lord and ARE the best way to train the hearts of children to know and love Him. That should always be our goal as parents.
But I'm here to tell you that you can DOUBLE this list and still some children will struggle with sin, doubt and ungodliness.
Most, I believe. Whether you want to consider this or not. Our "recipe" for perfectly Godly children often fails to account for this.
Listen, mothers of young children! At the tender ages of birth until about 15 or 16, you can control the environment of your children quite nicely. We did. You can stretch this time out even further if your child will attend Christian college and, if you're super blessed, find his/her spouse at a young age and get married. Virtually no time in "the world" amongst "the heathen". No influences aside from those prescribed by you.
We were certain, beyond a doubt, that by those upper ages, our olders were radically in love with Jesus and would, with reckless abandon, chase after Him no matter what life offered up.
And some of our children do.
But not all.
You see, there comes a time in the life of EVERY child, where his faith must become HIS faith. Where a true laying bare of the heart happens and some children begin to question the truth of their own upbringings. Some do this internally in just a flash and then they are right back in close communion. Others "camp there" and wrestle with deep questions, BIG questions where faith and facts seem at odds with one another.
We see it first hand and up close and it is terrifying to watch.
Primarily, it is scary because we understand the Doctrine of Election. We want so much to believe each of our children is predestined for a saving walk with Jesus. The mere thought of any of our children spending eternity apart from Him is paralyzing.
Secondarily, having a child who struggles and doubts bruises the ego. It makes us question our entire approach. It makes us wonder if the striving was worth it. It is harder than concrete bread on the spirit of a mother.
Finally, we come to the realization that it's not about us, as parents. It's about God, His Word, His promises and the hearts of our children - a place we try hard to visit often but do not live. There comes a time, as scary as it is for us "homeschooling Mama types", that we pray the foundation we tried to lay wins out over the shrill call of the world to doubt and disbelieve.
And we lean on THIS: