Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Parenting should be called transforming. It is the most self-reflecting, me-altering thing that God uses to work in my life. He draws me to Him, He humbles my heart, He shows me my sin, and He calls me to a stronger love of Him so that I can be a greater reflection of Him to my children. How many times I've looked my defiant, angry, hard-hearted child in the face, only to see myself.
Since the beginning of the year, Bethany reminds me often that she will be 10 this year, the first time she said it, it shocked me and I really didn't want to think about it. I didn't appreciate being reminded that my first gorgeous little baby, with her chubby cheeks, her rolly legs and her piercing blue eyes is somehow going to be ten. A decade, her first decade over. If this first one passed so quickly, how much faster will the second, how much change does it hold?
Last week Bethany turned 9 and half, she did the math. I would never do the math for that. When she told me I almost started to tell her how she needed to enjoy the moment and not be counting down, I almost went into lecture mode. What a selfish thing that would have been.
How exciting it is that she is growing up! Her reminding me is actually a really great way for me to make these days count and embrace her being here and let go of the days gone by. In all honesty, I love the fact that she is growing up. She talks about her friends and tells me things that I love hearing about. It's a new season of getting to know Bethany and who she is, how she thinks and feels.
Her baby days were precious, I don't even have words for how amazing of a baby she was, so perfect. Even her 2's she was such a good girl, rarely a problem and super smart. The things she learned at such a young age still blow me away, her mind has always been incredible! She knew more signs than I could count by the time she was 1, her speech was early and she grasped concepts like God's love for her and His creation of her by the time she was 2.
The 3's and 4's were rough, completely unexpected and my "perfect" little girl turned into the most stubborn, anger-filled, disobedient, miserable little girl. We were both miserable and for months I doubted all the ways I parented her, I made mistakes daily. Big ones and little ones. I couldn't figure out why she wouldn't want to please me, why she had no regard for my feelings, how she could repeatedly do the exact opposite of what she knew was right. I tried to control her, to change her heart, it was confusing and hard and it's only by God's grace that we both changed and grew and continue to change and grow. I've learned alot from her, from parenting her and though all our children are different and present different challenges, Bethany is always going to be the first, the oldest. She is the one that I have most regret for mistakes I've learned and all I can say is that God is using her and I to sharpen one another. I haven't worked it all out with her, she and I are still changing and working and I know that unseen new challenges await us, always do.
This is what drives me to my knees, to ask for guidance and wisdom. I used to think that I needed God's help for this role of parenting, I really did. I saw God as there to lean on, to maybe carry me in hard times.
Now, I realize that I need God completely, not His sometimes-as-needed-help, not on the bad days I-don't-know-what-else-to-do-help, His constant, every moment presence, in every day. I can do nothing, He can do everything in my children's lives.
Bethany joined a Bible drill club at church. She has been memorizing a large amount of scriptures and references of passages in the Bible. We joined late so she has had alot of catch up to do. Her mind is still incredible, she has amazed me at her ability to retain in such a short amount of time.
One the way to church yesterday, I told her she needed to go over her verses after church because we hadn't put in the time we should have that week. She said she felt pretty good about the new verses she was learning and I was shocked that she felt like she knew them so well. When I questioned her more about it she said,
"Well, I know the one about doing things enthusiastically for the Lord, because I really have been thinking about that scripture and trying to do it. I think it's first Thessalonians and it says, 'Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.' "
In that moment, my heart grew so big my eyes watered. It really isn't about her being the fastest or the most accurate in Bible drill, it's about her heart growing toward God and being transformed by His Word. I am so thankful that God is working in her life and that I credit all to Him. The reference isn't in 1 Thessalonians, it's Colossians 3:23 but that is totally fine, all I can think is how amazing it is that God's Word became more to her than something to memorize and be able to repeat, this verse became real to her.
God uses her to teach me in more ways that I could ever write about. He is working in both of us and all I can say is "Thank you!" I am so thankful for His grace that covers my mistakes and my weaknesses. To be more like Him! This is a moment that never could have happened when she was younger and it makes me so happy that she is 9 and half and we can share in the moments of now as I treasure the moments we've been given.