Aric and Lance travel back in time for a tour of Solomon’s Temple. After listening, check out this YouTube video for a visual guide.
I love being part of a local church that places an emphasis on adoption and caring for families journeying through the adoption process. My wife, Sarah, and I always knew that we would adopt someday. Adoption and care for the young has been a legacy of the Church since the time of the apostles, and we hoped to follow that tradition. We were aware of Jesus’ command for us to care for orphans and we intended to respond to that call through adoption ourselves.
The opportunity came sooner than we expected.
Four days after Sarah and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, we took in two young sisters who needed a place to live. Eventually, we made the decision, along with the girls, to make our situation formal and legal by going through the adoption process.
My wife and I always envisioned how adopting a child would go. In our minds’ eyes we would bring in a kid who would integrate perfectly into our lives. We would never be worn out or struggle to show them the love and grace that we have experienced in Christ. Sure, we knew that there would be difficulties — we would be bringing a young person with trauma into our home after all. But, we were built for it… right?
Looking back, I might have romanticized the idea of adoption a little too much.
Reality Strikes Back
The process of adoption has been full of mental, legal, emotional, and spiritual battles. It’s often said that parenting is a full-time job. This is even more true for parenting an adopted child. The adopted child is not a blank slate waiting to be written upon. Instead, they already have their own pains, beliefs, and opinions, and in some instances, trauma.
I want to say that our adoption experience has been an abnormal one, but I’ve come to realize that there is no such thing as a normal adoption. While books, counseling, and community have helped us adapt to new situations, every adoption is its own unique case with its own unique challenges. Resources can be a survival guide, but the family still has to make the journey.
But, despite the difficulty of the process, adoption has been an incredible gift from the Lord as it is one of the greatest possible illustrations of his love for us.
At times our adopted children have felt unworthy, as if they were not good enough or deserving of our love. It is simply not true. We love them, and they could never do anything to undo that love.
I realized after months of these conversations with my daughters, that for much of my life I actually had the same approach to God.
Our Father’s Love
Adoption into God’s family always felt difficult for me. Sure, I could see God loving me enough to send Jesus to take my punishment to give me new life and right standing before God, but bringing me into his family? That was different because it was so personal. If I were to be one of God’s sons, it would mean that I would be intimately, closely known. Justification could be a one-time gift; I am given new life and righteousness and off I go! But adoption would mean a new, never-ending relationship.
This didn’t seem possible. So instead, I strove to be good enough or worthy enough or to work hard enough to show that Jesus’ sacrifice was worth it. I would constantly fight this feeling of not belonging to the family that I have been brought into. Eventually, I knew, it would be found out that I was too imperfect, too unloving, too calloused, too fake to truly be a son of God.
But, being on the other side of the earthly version of the spiritual reality has taught me so much about God and his heart to grow his family through the beauty of adoption.
One of the greatest gifts that the Lord could give us is assurance—the ability for us to know that God loves us enough to restore relationship with us. For followers of Jesus, assurance of our salvation comes with understanding our new relationship with God. He has adopted us into his family. Through the eternal Son, we are now sons and daughters of God! He is our Father and we are brothers and sisters in Christ! What a great gift of assurance!
Adoption has been the most difficult thing my wife and I have ever faced. Marriage, financial difficulties, chronic illness – none of them were nearly as difficult as bringing new family members into the home.
Should you consider adoption you must know this: it is difficult and at times painful, but I would make the same decision every time. There have been growing pains along the way, but also moments of incredible joy as we see two young women who used to be distant strangers to us become part of our family.
I am so incredibly thankful that God is the perfect version of what a parent should be.
We fail as parents and fail to love one another as brothers and sisters, but God will never fail. Unlike my wife and I as new parents, God will always be perfectly merciful, forgiving, present, and loving. We can rest in his unfailing love while we continue to demonstrate his love to the world.
It’s no secret that students are firmly entrenched in the world of social media. But what does that really look like for teenagers today? What are the implications? And is it all bad? On this episode, Jon Coffey talks to Egret Bay Campus Students Director Daniel Palacios, and Students Associate Kate Mendoza about the current culture of teens, their relationship with social media, and how they can leverage their skills and technology for the kingdom of God.
One Tuesday afternoon, when I had finished a long day of teaching, my daughter asked me to play Barbies with her. I responded with “I will be there in a few minutes!” And then proceeded to continue scrolling my Facebook feed. She yelled from the front room a few minutes later “Mom! You’re missing it!”
She was right. I was missing so much.
Psychologists tell us the primary source of love is attention and compassionate listening. There is something deeply moving when someone stops and looks you in the eyes – when they actually pay attention.
The little moments that feel ridiculously mundane are the moments that are the most impactful.
Our kids learn a lot about God in the simple daily rhythms of snuggling before bed and eating dinner as a family. They are learning that God is consistent and reliable.
Our kids look to us as their parents to be stewards of healthy habits. If we’re overusing technology, we are setting them up for the same struggle. A survey conducted in 2019 showed that adults spend an average of 50 days a year on smartphones.
The research being done about the effects of technology on our kids is staggering. It says that children ages eight-to-10 spend an average of six hours per day in front of a screen, and kids ages 11-to-14 spend an average of nine hours per day in front of a screen.
Childhood mental illnesses are at an all-time high.
We, as parents, are doing equal amounts of damage to our kids when all they see is the glow of the phone screen reflecting on the face of their mom.
We have to set healthy boundaries for ourselves and our children. Our family started using what we call the “be present box.” Our girls know they are able to respectfully ask us to put our screens into the “be present box” if they feel we are spending too much time on our phones.
Our children will be under our roof for 18 years. There are 940 Saturdays in those 18 years.
If I’m not intentional with my time it just floats away. It disappears into wasted minutes on my phone, or mindlessly watching Stranger Things while working on my laptop.
What I do with my time is what I am doing with my life. I’m learning to exchange online distractions for real live interactions. My children shouldn’t have to compete with a screen for my attention.
Additionally, I see a direct correlation to my kids’ attitude with the amount of screen time they have. Our daughters will create the most amazing games, play dress up, and build friendships when the TV is off – a stark contrast to their mindless zombie stares and silence when the TV is on.
I pray daily that my kids will grow into a deep friendship with each other and with us. My job is to foster that friendship, and a simple first step is to limit the amount of time they have in front of a screen and encourage more face-to-face interactions.
Disciple Your Kids
When asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus tells his listeners to “love the Lord,” referencing Deuteronomy 6. But, right next to this famous verse is another which admonishes parents to diligently teach their children the law of God.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
– Deuteronomy 6:4-7
We don’t control our sons’ and daughters’ faith journeys. But we absolutely have a role in them. We must disciple them face to face. We can’t leave it to children’s ministry volunteers once a week at church. It takes diligence and intention and it’s my God given role as their mother.
And I believe it starts with me putting down my phone and looking them in the eyes.
Here’s the thing, I want my kids to remember my eyes – my eyes watching them grow, my eyes reading with them, my eyes as I tell them I’m proud of them and that I love them, my eyes as I discipline them and disciple them, and my eyes looking towards Jesus.
I don’t want them to remember my eyes constantly occupied with a screen.
When I put down my phone, it’s easier to look up and live the life that’s right in front of me.
I don’t want to miss it.
The story of David continues. Giant slayer, warrior, fugitive, king of Israel, and now… guilty of murder? In this episode we see how even a man after God’s own heart can fail tragically, but also that God remains faithful.
We all want our kids to grow up with a faith they hold onto as adults. In January, Chap Clark spoke at the Clear Creek Forum on Parenting to share what we can do now to foster lasting faith in our kids’ hearts. While he was in town he sat down with Lance Lawson to answer some questions on the podcast that he didn’t have a chance to address at the event.
Have you ever heard the quote, “Parents aren’t raising children, they are raising future adults”?
That kind of quote is what my friend Daniel calls “thinking material.”
It makes me wonder what kind of adults my kids will turn out to be. Will they be kind and generous? How will they define success? What mistakes will they make? Most importantly, will they know how much God loves them and will they devote their lives to him?
What kind of questions does it make you ask? What do you hope your kids are like as adults?
Being a parent is one of the most demanding roles in life. How many times have you heard a person without kids talk about how busy they are and think, If you only knew! Parents stay busy playing chef, chauffer, and social coordinator for their kids. The days turn into years, and somehow, the craziest phase of life speeds by and you’re left telling young parents, “Enjoy it. It flies by!”
The idea that my kids are future adults scares me a little. Not because I don’t have confidence in who they will become, but because I know how important my role in shaping them is. I know how consuming the day-to-day can be, and I don’t want to look back and wish I had been more intentional about things that matter after adolescence.
I bet some of you feel that too.
Here are three commitments I made years ago that I hope keep my eyes looking to the future adults my kids will be.
HAVE AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS
Kids are curious. Their questions start out harmless enough. “Where does the toilet water go when you flush it?” or “Why do you have hair under your arms?” Before long it’s “Why are some people mean?” and “Where do babies come from?”
How you handle those questions will determine what your kids do with more mature ones like, “Does God hate my gay friend?” and “Does evolution disprove God’s existence?”
In our house, no topic of conversation is off limits. We keep the content of conversations age appropriate, but we are committed to talking to our kids about anything and everything. They know they can ask us any question they have. Sometimes it can be awkward, but it’s worth it every time.
The truth is, kids will seek out answers to their questions somewhere. They’ll turn to Google, friends, or a teacher. I want my voice to be part of the chorus of voices influencing what they think and believe about things.
Kids want to know about sex, money, politics, racial tension, gender issues, and why some of our beliefs push against popular world views. They have questions about what they see online and what they hear their friends talking about.
If you aren’t talking to your kids about these things, who is doing it for you?
DON’T STOP LEARNING
No parent has all the answers. There are great, godly resources available that continue to shape me as a parent, as I work to shape my kids into adults. Staying connected to great resources helps to fill the gaps in my parenting.
Also, the world our kids are growing up in is very different than the world we grew up in. And it’s changing all the time. We don’t have to know every detail about every new thing out there, but keeping our finger on the pulse of adolescent culture and trends keeps us informed enough to be engaged.
PRAY FOR YOUR KIDS DAILY
Even if we managed to parent perfectly, kids will make their own choices and go down their own path. Ultimately, if our kids are going to know God’s great love for them, he has to be the one to open their hearts to it.
Clear Creek’s Lead Pastor, Bruce Wesley, has talked about how he used to pray through Ephesians 3:14-21 with his daughters in mind. This passage is a great place to begin.
Talk to God about your kids. Ask for his help as a parent. Ask for his presence in their lives. Ask him to do in their lives what only he can.
Our children will grow up and have families of their own. They will vote, they will shape the world, and hopefully, they will be our brothers and sisters in Christ.
What commitments can you make now that might influence their future adult selves?