Back To School

Back To School

Now that our oldest is safely and happily in his Pre-K classroom, I’ll spend my day like most parents on the first day of school – wondering how in the world I’m going to survive dropping him off at college.  Don’t get me wrong, by bath time tonight, I might be dreaming of sending him to college or possibly boarding school but, for right now, Pre-K is all I can handle.  Even as I’m writing this, I find myself praying that he’s having fun, feeling comfortable and not stealing anyone else’s snack.

This whole adventure of parenting is filled with more highs and lows than I ever would have imagined.  When I was a kid, I thought grown-ups had all the answers, were never afraid and totally had this thing called life figured out.  I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be; it would have rocked my world to know how unsure, overwhelmed and, at times, scared my parents must have been.  But now that I am a grown-up (or at least a parent), I’ve come to realize they must have felt that way.  And I’ve come to realize that’s a good thing.  All of that parental uncertainty draws two things out of my heart.

One, compassion for other parents.  It’s really easy to judge parents when you don’t have kids.  But, once you join the sleep-deprived club, you realize that everyone’s trying to do their best.  No, we don’t all parent the same way and, yes, the Bible has plenty to say about how we should raise our children.  But, wow, this parenting thing is hard enough without all the critiquing and criticizing we’re all tempted to run to as a way of covering our insecurity.  Our little people need us to stick together and keep the Moma Drama to a minimum.

Two, dependance on God.  The one thing that helps me sleep well at night is the certainty that God loves my kids more than I do.  At times that seems hard to believe but I know it’s true – they were His idea long before they were mine and He sacrificed more for them in Jesus than I ever will.  He has plans and purposes for their little lives and, in His wisdom, He knew that growing up with me and Laura as their parents was the best way to bring those plans to fruition.  He’s a source of wisdom, grace and strength when we don’t know what to do.  We just need to humble ourselves enough to ask.

In the sea of our parental uncertainty, Laura and I are trying to stay anchored in three commitments this school year:

  1.  Assume the best of and pray for your child’s teacher.  No, your kid’s teacher isn’t going to do everything exactly the way you would.  By the way, even if you homeschool, you’re not always going to meet your expectations for yourself!  In the moment when you are tempted to send that fiery email, take a breath and assume the best.  Make it a habit to pray regularly for your child’s teacher.  Ask God to strengthen, encourage and bless him or her.  Ask the Lord to work through this person to shape your child’s heart and mind.
  2. Show grace to other parents and families.  I was thinking about this the other day when I saw the list of foods banned from our kid’s school.  My goodness – PreK has turned him into a functional vegan.  By the time you add up everything that anyone in the classroom is allergic to, he’s pretty much going to eat celery for a year.  No flax seed?  Fine.  No peanut butter?  You just messed with a pillar of American education!  Does all of this make lunch a little more complicated?  Yeah.  Is it a big deal?  Not really.  The Bible calls us to outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)  Make that your goal when interacting with other parents and families – whether it’s about lunch, birthday parties or what tv shows they watch.
  3. Love your kid without comparing your kid.  If your kid had a melt down this morning, it’s easy to wish he was more like the confident little bugger down the road.  If, on the other hand, your kid leaped out of the mini-van and barely said goodbye, it’s easy to wish he was more like the sensitive kid down the road.  Why go there?  Love the kid God entrusted to you and make sure he or she goes to bed tonight knowing how proud you are of him/her, no matter how today went.

Before long, all the emotion of today will fade.  But, if it leaves us all a little more humble, dependent and compassionate, then it really will have been a good first day.

 

(Photo courtesy of  Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

Parenting Is Discipling

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I love that our Sacred Trust series brought us to 2 Timothy 3:14-15 yesterday morning:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Talk about the perfect text for Mother’s Day!  My goodness, it doesn’t get any better than that!

So much of the trajectory of Timothy’s life was due to the influence of a godly mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).  Timothy’s father was greek and most likely not a follower of Jesus.  But these two ladies made sure Timothy grew up knowing the Word of God.  As parents, we must do the same.  The most important people you’ll ever disciple are your children.

Of course, that begs the question of how to introduce our kids to the Bible, especially with young kids.  Let me offer you three suggestions:

  1.  Discuss. This is the easiest one because it’s as simple as asking your kids what they learned during their time at RCCKids.  We aren’t just babysitting your kids on a Sunday morning, we’re teaching them age appropriate lessons from God’s Word.  Ask them about it.
  2. Model.  One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is letting them see the example of you prioritizing time in God’s Word.  They aren’t ever going to take God’s Word seriously if we don’t.
  3. Read.  Laura and I absolutely love the Jesus Storybook Bible.  As a church, we give it to every family at our Parent Commissioning/Baby Dedications.  But owning one is no where near as good as regularly reading to your kids from it.  Make it part of their bedtime routine.

Every parent knows how much our kids watch and mimic us – it’s painfully obvious when we realize we’re the source of the new word they shouldn’t be saying!  How amazing would it be to take that potential and use it to raise a generation that loves the Word of God.

51 Hours

IMG_3058Last week was a big one for the McGowan’s.  Laura enjoyed some much needed time to rest and replenish with one of her closest friends in Raleigh.  That meant Jack, Aidan and I enjoyed a little guy time around the house.  When I say a little, I mean 51 hours.

To be honest, I loved getting that time with the boys.  We had a lot of fun, ate a lot of pizza and played for hours.  I will also say I developed an even deeper appreciation for my wife and all those who spend their days caring for children.

A few random observations:

  • When I was in college, they sold caffeinated water on campus.  We used it to make coffee.  I haven’t seen that product in a while (and it’s entirely likely the FDA has banned it).  That’s too bad.  They should sell that stuff by the gallon at Buy Buy Baby.
  • There is literally nothing a 2.5 year old boy will not try to climb.  See photo above.
  • Just because a 2.5 year old boy can climb up doesn’t mean he can climb down.  Also, see photo above.  For the record, Laura, when Jack tells you he was not being safe, got stuck and scared and that Daddy rescued him, this is what he’s talking about.  Of course, he may also be talking about trapping himself in the shower in the basement.  But there’s no photographic evidence of that one.
  • The amount of strategic planning required to plant, fund and lead a church is nothing compared to the planning it takes to use the bathroom or shower with two little kids around the house.
  • Bathing two kids at the same time leaves you as soaked as sitting on the 3rd row at Sea World.

Here’s one final one:  I love being a Dad. 

I know so many single guys who fear settling down, growing up and taking on the responsibility of a wife and kids.  I totally get it; I was one of you for years.  And, yes, I now consider 10pm staying up late and can have an in depth conversation about sleep training an infant.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  So, guys, don’t fear what will be one of the greatest blessings in your life.

Dads, Don’t Waste This Sunday

Fathers-Day

This Sunday is Father’s Day.  A wave of golf, grilling and naps will sweep the country.  It’s Dad’s day – he gets to do what he wants, eat what he wants and drink what he wants (at least, that’s how I’ve explained the holiday to Laura!).  For followers of Christ, it’s an amazing opportunity.  An opportunity that far too many of us blow.

Dads, when you get to script the day, is church in the plan?  Or do you blow it off?  Sleep in? Get an early tee time?  Linger over a big omelette?  It’s your choice.  But don’t fool yourself, your kids are watching.

Are you going to show them that real men prioritize their family’s spiritual health or are you going to show them that church is something designed to make women feel nice?  The stats tell us how way too many men answer the question.  Mother’s Day is one of the highest attended Sundays of the year.  Father’s Day one of the lowest.

Men, lead your family well this Sunday.  Psalm 145:4 tells us, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”  Sometimes it’s as simple as getting up, getting the family in the car and heading to church.

Christ Centered Routines For Kids

In yesterday’s sermon, I read a little excerpt from “The Jesus Storybook Bible.”  If you have kids of any age and haven’t picked up this book, I would highly recommend it.  If you’re interested, you can learn more and order a copy here.  I honestly think you and your kids will benefit from this resource.

Whether you order the book or not, here’s what really matters: start developing routines in your kid’s lives that point them to Jesus.  Pray with them, read the Bible to them, talk with them about Jesus, worship with them and teach them to see the world through the lens of the gospel.  Many parents wait too long until their kids are too old before they start working on these routines.  When Laura and I had Jack, we decided that if we were going to get the timing wrong we might as well do it on the early side.  So, we started reading Jack Bible stories and praying with him well before he had a clue what was going on.  At the time, he was way more interested in eating the pages than hearing the story!  Even today it’s not like he’s started writing his own psalms or anything like that.   But he definitely insists on a Bible story and prayer before he goes to sleep at night and I love it!  My prayer is that these simple routines will blossom into a life saturated in God’s Word and immersed in prayer.

If you have kids and aren’t creating these kinds of routines, not only are they missing out but you are as well!  Praying with my little boy is one of the best things about being a dad.  I’ve never once regretted making time to read Jack a Bible story or pray with him and I doubt you will either.

You don’t have to be a spiritual giant to pour into your kids.  You just need to prioritize their spiritual development and make time to pour into their little lives.  When you do, you’ll find it’s totally worth it!