Seeds of Faith

This post is the sixth installment of a series on children’s faith development called Vision from the Frontlines:  Voices, Experiences & Practices of Faith Development.  For more information about this series, click here.  I am so grateful to the amazing Amy Hanson for guest posting today.  Amy and I met about nine years ago when her husband began at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley.  Amy has continued to amaze me with her energy, deep care, creativity & wisdom.  She parents four children {seriously, a miracle in my book!} with grace and I know you will resonate with  the heart of what she shares today.  Thank you, Amy!
While outside on the front porch of our house I hear “MOM!!!” coming from inside, which is never a good sign when you’ve left one of your kids in charge of others.  I burst into the house and find that the two year old has spilled nail polish ALL OVER the kids’ bathroom.  On the mirror, the counter, the tub, and the floors.  Nail polish.  Everywhere.  My blood is boiling.  “How did this happen?  Weren’t you watching her? I left you in charge!!”  The 11 year old was given the full force of my wrath!
I was furious.  We rent this house.  Nail polish is hard to clean up.  I had yet to shower, was on a tight time line already and now would be spending the next 20 minutes (which I didn’t HAVE!!) on scrubbing nail polish off of every surface of the bathroom.  I was going to be late to my PRAYER TRAINING CLASS!!!
I was in full on 2 year old temper tantrum mode myself.  Then I dropped a bomb, under my breath, away from the girls, but a bomb exploded just the same.  I angrily whispered out the “F-bomb” in the bathroom.  And once it was out…just hanging there big and ugly…I knew the middle schooler had heard me.  I tried to imagine that she didn’t, but my conscience-other wise known as the conviction of the Holy Spirit-told me that I knew better.  Her sweet little ears were defiled by her mom.  I had sinned, been caught, wasn’t quite repentant yet, and knew this was not a good place to be in.
This moment that is a stark contrast to the spiritual life that I want to claim for my children, for myself.    This is not the ideal, but it is really real.  I read Bible stories to my kids (Jesus Storybook Bible), I take them to worship (Parenting in the Pews) and Sunday School and Youth Group, and Erik and I have thought through spiritual goals and mission statements for our family (Spiritual Parenting), but when the rubber meets the road, it’s the daily life that my children are watching.  What does my walk with Jesus look like?
As I think through the spiritual formation and development of my four kids, I’m totally convinced and convicted that the daily walk they see modeled from my husband and me will be more formative and instructional than any family devotional we do together.  They need to see me praying and pray with me.  They need to observe me taking the time to study and be in the Word.  They need to hear my heart for the world and people, which is hopefully a reflection of the Lord’s heart.  What they see me doing, how they experience my faith will directly effect their understanding of their own walk with Christ.
Sitting heavy with the “F-bomb” lingering in the air of my home and my heart, I had a bit of soul searching and work to do that day.  My PRAYER CLASS happened to be on forgiveness that morning and all day as I prayed and sought God’s wisdom, He reminded me that I needed to humbly ask for forgiveness from my children.  I picked them up from school and drove them to a drive-thru for an ice cream treat.  We stayed in the car and I asked the four of them to forgive me.  Three of the four were clueless, but still needed to hear the message.  
“Mom messed up today.  My heart spoke ugliness.  We know that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (happens to be one of our favorite Seeds of Faith verses) and my heart did not overflow goodness today.  I’m sorry that I sinned and chose badly.  Can you forgive me?”
Three of them easily forgave, but the child that was offended, the one that heard, took longer to come around.  We had more work to do.  I had hurt her.  We talked and talked some more through the course of the day and into the night.  Not long talks, just brief encounters as we bumped against each other as the day went on.  Eventually when I tucked her in that night her heart was ready to forgive.
This day, though I’m not proud of it, was a living example of working out my faith in front of my children.  I do this every day whether I’m cognizant of it or not.  Everyday my kids are watching and learning if my words match my actions…if my faith matches my deeds.  I am convinced that this living out of my faith will have the deepest and greatest impact on the spiritual formation of my kids and I pray for huge helpings of God’s grace along the way.

photo.JPGAmy is currently a stay home mother to four energetic, smart, strong-willed kids.  Amy’s husband is the senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Boulder.  She has been an elementary school teacher, preschool director, children’s ministry director and has a degree in child development.

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