Raising Jesus & Parenting a Christian Child Today: Not for the Fainthearted

by Sally Matheny

     Were Mary’s days filled with bliss parenting the perfect Child? Most likely, there were some difficult days raising Jesus. I wonder…

     As a child, did Jesus encounter teasing from other children because he always chose to do the right thing? Did Mary shed quiet tears at night as she mended her little boy’s robe, torn by an angry child earlier that day?
     Did she ever overhear a neighbor wrongly accuse her son? Wanting desperately to run over and defend him, did she sense God calling her to be still? And so, she stopped and she waited. She witnessed how Jesus handled the situation. Why is he allowing our neighbor to insult him so?  
     The mother wanted to lash back at her neighbor. Her son turned the other cheek.
     Were Jesus’ siblings jealous or irritated that he never disobeyed, never lied, and never needed parental discipline? Did Mary have to be ever mindful of how she spoke and treated Jesus in front of the other children, for fear of showing favoritism? 
     Yes, while raising Jesus had to be a wonderous experience, surely some days were difficult.
     Perhaps, during those childhood days, God was somehow preparing Mary’s heart for Jesus’ last days.
     Even with her faithful trust in God’s sovereignty, an unimaginable pain had to sear throughout her body as she heard the nails piercing her son’s flesh to a cross. Only God could uphold Mary as she watched them lift the cross and raise her Jesus.

Today, motherhood is still not an easy task. Tough days lie ahead even for the mother of a Christian child.
     There are times when moms watch their children endure some form of mistreatment because of their faith. Some taunted for choosing to do the right thing, for their obedience to the Lord. Others are excluded, even bullied due to their faith. Parents pray for guidance of when to counsel, when to intervene, and when to be still and wait.    
     Mothers trust God’s sovereignty as their Christian children choose to be salt and light on a secular college campus or when they enlist in the military. Only God’s power sustains mothers as their children surrender to the call of ministry—possibly requiring them to move across the nation, or the other side of the world.    
      Are you in the midst of raising a young child, teaching him the ways of the Lord? Is he learning love and respect in his daily experiences? Is he surrounded by the Truth, especially during these early, tender years of learning?
     Are you pressing through the years with a teen? Teaching her how to show grace and compassion; encouraging her to be ready to share why she believes what she does. Is she seeking godly counsel as she learns how to stand firm in her faith, even if it means standing out? 
    Is your Christian child an adult seeking God’s call in his life? Are you covering him in prayer; supporting him in seeking God’s will and no one else’s?     Mothering is not for the faint-hearted. Living in a sinful world brings challenges and heartaches to all.
     However, along with the gift of parenting a Christian is an inexpressible joy and strength, even in the midst of trials. One cannot fully understand this unless the parent shares the same devotion to Jesus Christ. For with Christ, all things are possible. Life has purpose, and the rewards are eternal.
     Lord, help us reflect Jesus as we raise our children.


The Book That Brought Me Home

by Sally Matheny

Not long ago, I was asked to participate in a blog hop for the on-line magazine, Books Make a Difference. I am to share how a particular book has made a difference in my life. The problem lies in narrowing it down to one book! 
Books have influenced my whole life.  But one particular turning point occurred when I was thirty years old.  

My life brimmed with children—twenty -eight kindergarteners during the day, and my own two toddlers at night. In addition to His Holy Word, God used another book to drastically change that number of children, and to reroute my life.

Even though I loved teaching, my little girls continually begged me to stay at home with them. I, too, longed to devote more time to their momentary childhood.  However, my husband and I were living paycheck to paycheck. The first time I brought the topic up with my husband he said, "What? I don't know if we can pay our bills on one income."
     I picked up the book, Women Leaving the Workplace, by Larry Burkett (Moody Publisher, 1999). It was the book that brought me home for good. Burkett is well known for his successful financial advising. Writing with a Christian worldview, he does a superb job offering spiritual counsel and practical advice for those considering coming home full-time.  
     For months, we followed several of Burkett’s suggestions. We practiced living solely on my husband’s income. That meant selling our new car in exchange for a used one. We ate out less often and practiced Burkett’s envelope budgeting system.
     We talked with our girls about the possiblity of me leaving my teaching job. If I "came home for good," we would not money for many extra things. I'll never forget how I felt when our four-year-old replied, “Oh, that’s okay, Mommy. I don’t need anything.  All I want is you.”
     Women Leaving the Workplace helped equip us take a leap of faith and be obedient to what God was calling our family to do. We were amazed. Not only were we able to pay our bills, we were able to save, give tithes and offerings, and still enjoy a few treats along the way. The time at home has provided more precious moments with the children and to teach their tender hearts.
     The encouragement and guidance this book offered made a difference not only in my life, but also in the lives of my husband and our children.
     Besides budgeting, the book contains a chapter on how to transition back into the workforce.  At one time, I worked part-time as a church secretary and my children were allowed to accompany me. However, after our oldest completed second grade, God called us to a new adventure—homeschooling!
    Books were influential in that decision as well, but that’s another story for another day.

Share with us what book has made a difference in your life!