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The older of my two sons will be graduating from high school in less than two weeks. How did we get here so fast? We raised him to be ready for this time of his life, but now that it’s here, it feels so sudden!  There are last minute things I want to do and say.  There are times I wish we could re-live again, and times  I wish I could do over.

I can’t go back to those moments of time with my child, but I can share what I’ve learned along my way to help other parents make the most of time with their children.  If I had the opportunity to speak to other parents, this is what I would say:

First, be prepared.  Prepare yourself to be a parent.  It doesn’t matter if your kids are age 2 or 22, you are their parent and they need you to be the best you can be.  They need to know you love them and that you are there for them, no matter what.  They need you to be responsible and look out for them. Take care of yourself so you can take care of them.  Be prepared to put their needs ahead of yours at times, but also know when your needs should come first.

Be prepared financially.  Money isn’t likely to just appear when you need it, so plan ahead for your child’s expenses – especially college or other training they might want to pursue.  Start putting money aside as soon as you can.  Even if it’s just $10/month per child, it will add up, especially in an account that accrues interest.  I encourage you to make saving for your child’s future an automatic part of your budget.

Loving often means setting limits. Prepare yourself to set limits. Limits are for their own good to develop character, self-control, respect, understanding.  Limits are often for their safety and well-being.   Enforcing rules and limitations does not make you a mean parent.  It makes you a responsible parent who’s looking out for the best interest of your child.

Loving means being patient.  Prepare yourself to be patient. My greatest regrets with my boys are the times I lost my patience with them.  Sometimes we need to be forceful and firm, but we can do so without losing our patience, yelling, or showing anger in the wrong ways.  Children watch what we do as much as they listen to what we say, and it’s true that actions speak louder than words.  What are your actions saying to your kids?

At times my actions taught all the wrong things.  Those times got better after I become a mom of faith.  If I could go back and change only one thing about my years as a parent, I’d be a mom of faith before they were even born.  I grew up in church, always believed in Christ, and prayed to God, but didn’t start growing in faith until my sons were ages 8 and 2.  What a difference it would have made, especially for my older son, if I’d been a woman of faith from the very beginning.

Growing in faith led me to start reading and studying the Bible, learning how God wants us to live, learning about marriage and how to be a better parent, learning to be more Christ-like, and most of all, becoming a more loving person.

Growing in faith also led me to pray more. Be a praying parent!  Pray for yourself, your spouse, your marriage, your children, your home, and whatever concerns you.  Share your praises and joys with God!  He is your Heavenly Father and takes great delight in your joy!

One of the greatest differences faith made was in our marriage.  And you know what?  Having a loving relationship with your spouse is the second greatest gift you can give your child.  The first is having a loving relationship with God, knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and sharing your love of Jesus with your children.  Which brings me to the most important thing I want to share.

Your kids should not come first in your life.  Your spouse should come before your kids, and God should come first before all else.  Getting my priorities in order was the best advice I was ever given (by my friend, Gretchen, back in Fishers, IN), and now I want to give that advice to you.  It’s like this:

God first.

Marriage second.

Children third.

Extended family.

Then job, friends, hobbies, all other things fall in place.

I have to tell you that when Gretchen first shared this with me, my priorities were way out of order!  My children were first, marriage was second, and God was somewhere after that.

The last thing I would say is to ENJOY YOUR KIDS!  ENJOY YOUR FAMILY TIME!  MAKE THE MOST OF IT!   Don’t let time slip away because you cannot get it back.   I spent so much time looking forward to when my kids would grow out of various stages in their lives.  Now I’d give anything to have that time back so I could enjoy it and cherish it more.  Make lists of things you’d like to do with your kids – go bowling, teach them how to bake cookies or throw a baseball, go to a museum, catch fireflies, pick berries, see grandparents, family and friends, go on trips even if it’s just across town, whatever it is, but make sure you follow through.  Trust me, your greater regrets will be for the things you didn’t do.

Learn what interests your kids and do what you can to share those interests with them.  A grandmother recently told me that her mother told her not to send her kids, but to take them.   Don’t just drop your kids off at practices or send them with someone else and then sit through their games or recitals and think you’ve shared an experience with them.  Take an active role.  Get to know their teachers, coaches and leaders.  Get involved.  Be a part of what they like to do.  Support them in their interests.

Get your kids involved in church activities.  If you don’t have a church, start looking for one.  Find a vacation Bible school for your kids to attend this summer, and when you sign them up, see if there’s a way for your to volunteer.  Maybe all they need you to do is send in cookies or help cut out shapes for a craft, but both are great helps and ways to get involved with your kids.

Cherish each day you have with your loved ones because each day is gift from God.

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Bible verses are treasures to me.  I have a small treasure box in which I keep a collection of Bible verses.  Each scripture is printed on a slip of paper.  Many have been shared by friends from Bible studies, making them even more special.  Today I’d like to share some treasures with you.

I’ll begin with my three favorite verses.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.    – Proverbs 3:5-6

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”    – Jeremiah 29:11-12

For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.  – Romans 8:28

 

The following verses are in no particular order.   Remember, the Bible is the Living Word, meaning that the verses have the ability to speak to us.  Take note of verses that seem to jump out at you or stand out from the rest.  God is using those verses to speak to you or touch your heart.

This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

What’s more, I will be with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. I will someday bring you safely back to this land. I will be with you constantly until I have finished giving you everything I have promised.     – Genesis 28: 15

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries for tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.          – Romans 8:38-39

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.    – Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)

Be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.   – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.   – Romans 12:11

 Have faith in the Lord, your God, and you will be upheld…   – 2 Chronicles 20:20

Anything is possible if you have faith.      – Mark 9:23

Commit your work to the Lord and it will succeed.    – Proverbs 16:3

 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.    – Colossians 3:23

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  – Psalm 118:24

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  – Galatians 6:9

Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act.  Travel steadily along his path.  – Psalm 37:34

Look to the Lord and His strength.  Seek His face always.  – 1 Chronicles 16:11

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  – Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.  – Psalm 103:2-3

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  – Isaiah 41:10  (NLT)

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.   – Isaiah 40:28-31

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  – John 3:17

(If Jesus did not come to condemn others, then who are we to do so?)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  – Ephesians 4:29

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  – Psalm 37:4

To pray for forgiveness:  Psalm 51

To praise God as our Creator and Sustainer:  Psalm 139

A Psalm of thanksgiving:  Psalm 100

Don’t just pretend to love others.  Really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring one another.  – Romans 12:9-10

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  – Romans 12:12

Share with God’s people in need.  Practice hospitality.  – Romans 12:13

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  – Romans 12:14

Jesus said, “I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons (children) of your Father in heaven.”  – Matthew 5:44-45

Do not repay evil with evil.   – Romans 12:17

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:  “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  – Romans 12: 19

Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.   – Romans 12:21

Jesus gave the greatest commandments:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart… all your soul… all your mind…all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Blessing from the Bible:

The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.   – Numbers 6:4-26

 

 

 

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