"Though evil is sweet in his mouth, and he hides it under his tongue,
though he cannot bear to let it go and lets it linger in his mouth,
yet his food will turn sour in his stomach; it will become the venom of serpents within him."
My best parenting, over the last fifteen years, has come during times of listening and seeking God about His heart for my children. I ask God for wisdom A LOT. Parenting is as complicated and delicate as it is wonderful and rewarding. Right now, I'm in the middle of another season of asking. I’m asking God to give me fresh eyes to see any parenting holes and blind spots. I want a soft heart to see the needs of my children in their unique stages today. I want to disciple them well.
And as I pray, I keep hearing this reminder: Pay attention to what your children are eating.
This past spring, I fulfilled the dream of planting a garden. I rented a spot in one of the community gardens down the street from our house here in the urban core of KCMO. Then, with the help of a sweet neighbor, I planted seeds and watched them grow. I LOVE eating fresh produce from my little garden.
Like every momma, I want my kids to eat as well as possible, but my kids would rather eat endless ice cream, Doritos, and candy. I know what they put in their bodies is important and adds up over time -- even if they don’t. They want to strictly eat candy and popsicles for the summer, but I know that would make them sick. The food most pleasant to their tongues will make their bodies sick if they eat it in endless quantities. It might not be immediate, but over time we would begin to see the effects of those poor choices.
While my children sit at the dinner table and eat, they are feeding their bodies. While my children sit and watch television, listen to music, engage on social media, watch movies, read, or play video games, they are feeding their hearts, minds, and spirits. Their views of God, His ways, morality, family, friendships, love, hate, and so much more are being shaped and instructed as they watch and “eat.”
I want them to eat well in the physical so their bodies are strong and healthy. I also want them to eat well in the spiritual so their hearts, minds, and spirits are healthy and strong, too.
So, how does one eat well spiritually?
In our family, this means looking over the amount of time spent on devices and social media, how many hours a day my children watch television, what movies they are watching, what music they are listening to, and what books they are reading. In comparison, how much time are they reading and memorizing scripture, worshipping, engaging with real life friends who encourage them, spending time with their church family, making lasting childhood memories, or having good conversations with me and my husband?
I have never chosen to take away ice cream forever and ever and I’m not choosing to strip movies, video games, music, or social media completely away, either. Rather, I want to encourage my children to eat freely of the things that yield peace and righteousness while I discourage and limit those things that bring sickness to their hearts. Our bodies and spirits need good food that brings health. I need a soft heart to God and His leading so I can make the best choice in each situation. Sometimes the best is waking up for special one on one time of doughnuts and a movie at 6am while at other times it's taking away a favorite t.v. show because of the attitude it's producing in my child.
There is so much mercy and grace in this. If God is speaking and you feel moved by this but it seems really daunting, take heart. I have been raising children for fifteen years and this is where God is working in my parenting today. I am in desperate need of His mercy. This encouragement from God has been challenging to me and I am not always super successful. Some days I fail. Other days I succeed.
Also -- a short disclaimer: This will look completely different from family to family. We must, must, must operate in grace toward one another and cover each other over in love. We must keep ourselves from believing cookie-cutter families exist in this messy, adventurous journey of loving and obeying God. Where the Holy Spirit convicts one might not be the place He convicts another. I have had too many incidents in my years of parenting when I swore I would never do “such and such” like one family and yet found myself doing just that not too many years later. Instead, let's continue to champion the parents around us and encourage each other to love Jesus more and more!
Our family at Seeds Family Worship wants to equip you with resources to spiritually feed your children well. It's our passion to serve your families well. We create and stock products we know will bless your family and equip you to disciple your children successfully. Because of this we have several wonderful items to give away this week!
Also, we're celebrating ELEVEN amazing years of ministry by having a HUGE sale in our store. It's our way to say "thank you" to our Seeds Planters for your love and support over the years. We are so incredibly blessed to partner with you and your families. Click on this link to visit our store!
Finally, we have a special promotion for our Instagram community we are extending to you today. Our founder, Jason Houser, recently co-authored Dedicated (the book pictured and being given away above). Dedicated genuinely looks at the challenges and rewards of discipling our children. This is a great book for book clubs and summer reading. It also makes a great gift! For a purchase of $25 or more in our store, use the coupon code "dedicated11" and get Dedicated for only $6 - a $9 savings!
Sarah Patrick has been a wife for fifteen years and is a momma to five children. Her days are kept busy with homeschooling and the raising of people. She also writes for Seeds Family Worship and helps coordinates their social media. She is passionate about the things of God and seeing families equipped to share their faith with their children. She believes community is necessary to the survival of motherhood. You can follow and hear more from Sarah on Instagram or Facebook.