What I’ve learned this birthday weekend….
First, Pinterest is always telling me how much I’ve failed. If I’m comparing myself to Pinterest, I’ll always fall short. I made a Monopoly cake based on a Pinterest idea I found, but I kept comparing mine to the original. No one saw the original. It wasn’t about that anyway. My son’s response: “I don’t like it mom, I LOVE it!” Success. Not a failure. And he did see the original.
Second, I felt so bad on Sunday. It was his actual birthday, and I probably should have made some cupcakes for his class. It would have been a nice way to celebrate him. But my son was happy just to be able to pick our lunch and dinner for the day. He giggled and smiled with pretend disgust as I sang Happy Birthday all the way home in the car. Mom guilt hits hard on birthdays. I’m learning to rest in the truth that I am the right choice for them, even when I don’t measure up to some invisible standard.
Third, the fruit of gratefulness is taught over time. After opening all of his presents on Saturday, Jack told each of his nine cousins and siblings (all age 6 and under) to pick a present to play with. Everyone played with the legos, race car track, and motorcycles. The birthday boy just played with one of his transformers. At bedtime, he looked at me and said: “I didn’t have a good birthday, I had a GREAT birthday!”
I try to teach my children to be thankful, so when they are, I would like to take credit. I can’t though. My children’s thankfulness is a direct result of the Holy Spirit. God is working in the heart of my eight-year-old and it amazes me. To see God molding and making a new heart in him is such a privilege.
Jack made a decision to trust Christ a couple of years ago, but we just weren’t sure if he understood what it meant. We talk about it a lot with him, but more and more I’m seeing fruit in his life. He is truly saddened when he sins. Repentance is quick and restoration sought after. He is kind and loves to help. Don’t get me wrong. He is still pretty impulsive and is by no means a perfect kid. But the biggest fruit in his life has been his generosity and gratefulness. His grateful attitude didn’t happen overnight. I’ve seen it grow after I’ve planted the seeds. With the small moments, each day I helped cultivate thankfulness. When I planted, God watered. God brought the increase.
I teach my children to say “thank you” not because it is polite and the “right” response. I teach them so we can cultivate a heart of thankfulness. I don’t allow pouty attitudes or backtalk. Not just because it is rude and makes for rude children (evidentially rude adults). I teach them to respect decisions and outcomes because it is about their heart attitudes. Cultivating proper heart attitudes is about daily living. Not just birthdays. Not just Christmas. I can’t expect my children to be grateful on special occasions if they are not respectful on a daily basis. It takes time. And that’s ok.
When I teach them and correct bad behavior, it is eternal work. It is kingdom work. It is heart work. I’m working on their hearts, one little step at a time. I will plant the seeds, God will bring the increase.
Join me as we live in the daily together.
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