Our family is in an interesting season. Our oldest is approaching the middle years, so we’re having a lot more conversations about things and asking her a lot of questions. It’s great to watch her begin to draw from the moral warehouse we’ve been storing up treasures in these last nine years. Some transitional attitude issues have caught us off guard, but we’re working on it.
Our youngest is now four, which means she’s past babyhood and even toddlerhood. She’s a happy soul who makes us giggle often. Though she slips under the radar at times because we’re much busier this time around, she is pretty easy-going and is brought back to first-time obedience without a lot of trouble.
And then there’s the one in between. She has stretched us in every direction regarding parenting, but we’re finding that the stretching was OUR lack, not hers.
As a baby, we thought our middle daughter was some kind of Jekyll and Hyde: happy sometimes, but then crying and lacking sleep patterns at other times, throwing us curve balls left and right. We were tired, frustrated, and worn out. We eventually found out that she was having ear infections that were messing with her sleep schedule and that threw off everything else. So that gave us some hope and perspective.
But here’s the surprise: she gave us the most opportunity for humility and growth in the difficulty of her baby years, and now, at seven, she’s still giving us that same opportunity for humility and growth but it’s in a completely different way. When she was a fussy baby and a difficult toddler, we worried that she might always be a “hard kid”. But the opposite has been true.
We have had the privilege of watching her grow into a more beautiful and tender-hearted person than we could have ever dreamed. She is thoughtful and kind to others. She is always writing affectionate notes to us, her friends, and her teachers. She is sensitive and truly hurts when others hurt. She ‘speaks life’ naturally and has been consistently teaching US what that means.
At the school she attends, they work on a character trait each month and two students receive an award in each category. She has waited each month to be recognized for something… This month is LOVE. When she told me what they were working on, I had a hunch that this would be her month. Sure enough, when the students were chosen, she got in the car that day and could hardly get the words out that she had finally gotten an award and it was for LOVE. She beamed as she held up the certificate and my heart wanted to burst inside. All these days, months, and years of ‘staying the course’ with sleep training, first-time obedience, and steering her heart toward the things of God were visible in this one moment.
So the take away is this: Be encouraged! Sometimes the hardest things we face in parenting, with much prayer, patience, practice, and perseverance, will turn out to be the things that bless us the most. No child is beyond hope, help, or the grace of God. If you wait upon the Lord, obey His Word, and follow His precepts, the fruit will come. And it’s not always the children who need the training. We parents need to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as well. We may plant and water, but it is the Lord who makes things grow (1 Cor. 3:7).
Julie Bame is wife to Rich, mom to three beautiful girls, a Contact Mom for Christian Family Heritage, and Worship Coordinator at North Clinton Church. Rich and Julie are passionate to see the Kingdom come in all of life, but especially so in marriages and families. They count it a great privilege to walk the journey of parenting with anyone who will join them.