Four Ways for Parents to Seize More Moments

Four Ways for Parents to Seize More Moments

Manners and sanctification


Republish from July 2017



A high school graduation. A marriage. Or perhaps more likely the death of a friend or family member. All are occasions to reflect on how wisely we have invested our time in the people most precious to us. As I graduated my first child, Abigail, from high school this year I was slapped across the face once again with the reality that her days left under my roof are likely very few.

Over the last few months, I have waxed misty-eyed nostalgic about my “little girl” as cherished moments fly through my mind to the sappy chorus of Memories sung by Barbara Streisand. Wow. Did I do enough? Did I accomplish everything I should have accomplished? Perhaps I missed too many moments?

Most moments are just that, moments. Often unscripted. Pure. Vapor. In a day of endless distraction with Lilliputian matters that add little positive value to our lives we would do well to more carpe diem, or to “seize more of the day”. Following are four ways to do that:

  1. Ask God to give you a heart for your children. The prophet Malachi wrote that the coming of the Lord would be heralded by the hearts of fathers being turned to their children. Fathers tend to be more easily disposed to work, not relationships. Asking God to give us hearts for our children is a prayer he loves to answer.
  2. Have a weekly planning time where you review what is happening in your family. As part of this time, start a journal where you write a sentence or two about what you notice going on in the life of each child. This forces you to think about each person at least once per week in a way that will alert you if you are in fact needing to make more relational opportunities.
  3. Be intentional about making time with your children. Since we actually do 90% of what we write down in our calendars, schedule a time in your week to spend time with a child.
  4. Ask your spouse to alert you when they observe you “zone out”, miss a que, or make wrong choices. Speaking personally, I can be sitting right next to one of my children and never hear a word they say. Why? I’m thinking about something else. A problem at work. Or begrudging why the Washington Redskins are such a poorly run football franchise. Since we are often blind to some of our interpersonal failures, asking to be informed while sometimes difficult to hear, is really necessary if we are serious about doing better.

When we are on our death bed we will not wish that we had spent more time at the office. There is a lot of wisdom in this statement but it is still moralism. In fact, my four suggestions by themselves are moralism. They still don’t provide a motivation to want to set aside the facebook timeline or a game of golf and seize the moments with our kids. We are often motivated to do right things for the wrong reasons. This is convicting as a parent. It is much easier to do what we want to do.

I am reminded that the backdrop for Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is Deuteronomy 5:6, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Before we were parents, we were slaves. But God has redeemed us from that slavery by the blood of his own dear Son. Jesus has bought for us redemption which includes a new identity that is not dependent upon our performance as parents. It also means that our parenting has an eternal and God-glorifying mission to it. Remembering these things and more motivates us differently. It is the only power great enough to compel us to be more intentional when it is hard—and it is often harder than it is easier. Imagine actually wanting to seize moments?!

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Do Parents Have Power?

Do Parents Have Power?

Manners and sanctification


February 27, 2023



I’m curious. What do you think of the copious news stories about our schools? Should a boy who identifies as a girl be able to use the girl’s bathroom? Is our country systemically racist? Should those ideas be taught to our children in school?

While these stories have political angles, I’m not going there. This is not about Democrats and Republicans. This is clearly part of a much larger spiritual battle over generations of children.

These stories may get your heart rate up and they do seem (intended or not) to have the effect of marginalizing parents.

But it dawned on me that they also actually provide parents with an absolutely encouraging message: parents have more power than they realize.

Do Parents Really Matter?

The fact that there are forces so bent on reshaping curricula and morality and silencing any dissent is a clear indicator of at least two things. First, that children were designed to be taught. Second, that those who teach the children are in a very powerful position. The Scriptures alone are sufficiently clear on this matter. I think of Deuteronomy 6:4-10 and Ephesians 6:1-4. I think of the whole book of Proverbs.

Obviously, parents matter or else their opinions on these issues would be of no concern. I doubt we would see many of these stories because there would be no point. But apparently, it does matter—a lot. And this is why we see such an onslaught against our children and their parents.

What we teach our children through what we say and do does matter—and neither need to be perfect to be effective.

First, Some Encouragement

As a rule, 18 years of struggling but earnest training is more effective than any other influence in the life of your child.

What is Training?

Training is actual teaching God’s truth and/or modeling God’s truth in how we live. The two go together but in terms of training it does not nor should it look like a Sunday school class. It can be a spiritual question, comment. It can be simple confession of a sin. It can be a simple prayer. It can be the choice to have a calm response to the “person” who cuts your off in traffic.

Seize the Many Opportunities

There are many, many opportunities to train our children when we slow down long enough to see them. Frankly, each moment we are with our children is a time where training can take place.

Talk About Spiritual Things On The Way

When taking your daughter to ballet or your son to soccer, or just a quick run to buy $5 sushi at Kroger on Wednesday, these are opportunities. Why does this seem so difficult to do? I get in the car with a child and its quiet, I then try to start a conversation and the answers I get are such that you’d think words were scarce as hen’s teeth. Sometimes, you remain quiet. Sometimes you ask spiritual questions like, “Did you think of Jesus today?” “What are you reading in your devotions this week?” “How can I pray for you?” Perhaps the answers are less than ideal. But this is why we have 18 years. The imperfections and failures are minimized against the backdrop of basic faithfulness. Here is an example of a recent conversation I had with my daughter.

Pray With Your Children When You Drop Them off at an Activity or Work

Over the years, four of my children have worked at the same retail store near our house. When I have dropped each one off, my practice has been to pray for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual safety as well as for God to use them as lights for the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ to their customers and co-workers.

But doing so has involved a bit of an internal struggle from time to time. Often, as I drove up to the main entrance of the store, I think, “I don’t want to be cringe, so should I pray for them?” Why do this?” “It feels weird.” “Does he/she really care?” “What difference does it make?” “They might think I’m being too spiritual.” I typically ask if I can pray and the response always seems genuine: “Yes!”. And so, I pray.

I did not think this mattered a whole lot until one day when I asked one of my children about something I don’t even remember specifically. But the response was, “Well, Dad, you pray about everything.” I was secretly doing spiritual summersaults when I heard that because I had not been completely consistent in praying and my prayers at times were rather brief and general. But clearly, they mattered.

Other Ideas

  • Ask what they covered in Sunday school, youth or children’s ministry.
  • Discuss one point from the sermon in the car ride home from church.
  • Pray with your children before bedtime.
  • Take them to a botanical garden (or a simple walk around the neighborhood will do) and point out things that remind us of God’s wonder and care for us.
  • Send them texts with scripture verses.
  • Read and discuss books, such as Corrie ten Boom’s, The Hiding Place, together that teach biblical values.
  • Pray and read the Word together at meals.
  • Memorize Scripture together.
  • Send notes to them congratulating them on spiritual growth you’ve noticed.
  • Ask what they are reading in their devotions.
  • Ask them how you can pray for them.

Each of these requires each one of us to put down our phones which seems harder to do these days. Each one of these seems too insignificant too matter but each one does matter when part of a larger effort to be faithful. Patterns produce moments. Moments, rarely produce patters.

Be encouraged not to give up. Little opportunities taken over time can lead to very satisfying results.

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You May Kiss the Bride

You May Kiss the Bride

Does the bible contradict itself


November 16, 2022




What is your favorite part of a wedding? Is it watching the radiant bride walk down the aisle? The exchange of vows? When the pastor says to the giddy, newly minted husband, “You may kiss the bride!” These are iconic moments. Weddings also provide vital opportunities to seize encouragement we desperately need in a broken world.

Last week, I married off my first child and daughter, Abigail. It was a glorious day filled from beginning to end with joyful celebration… and admittedly, some tears.

As I reflected on this experience, I realized in a fresh way that weddings have incredible power to comfort and embolden us as we face disappointments, fears, and frustrations.

Three Reminders.

First, our lives find meaning within God’s larger story. Isn’t it easy to get engrossed in the details of our own little lives? When our purpose is defined by the selfish words “me-my-mine” we taste the bitter fruit of self-pity, depression, anger, worry, and other woes. Our world shrivels like a raisin, rigid and dark. We lose sight of God’s broader purpose for our lives which is to be part of his story whose plot is redemption.

We are not our own, we were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Our relationships are both an end and a means to the end of redemption in our own lives and the lives of others. We are interdependent. We give and we take. We need each other. Marriage in all its complexity is to be a technicolor picture of how redemption works out in the lives of saved sinners. It points to the much more important and eternal relationship of Christ and his church. As such, weddings remind us of our place within God’s larger story.

Second, we find great peace and rest when we follow God’s plan. It is God’s general plan for men and women to marry (for the good and joy of both). God has demonstrated throughout history that he blesses his people when they follow his plan. Even when we fail, God’s plan provides provision for how to get back on track. We find peace and rest when we follow his plan for our relationships. We can embrace it with the expectation that he will bless it and he will redeem, despite cultural disdain.

Third, God is good. Marriage reminds us of God’s goodness. God created all things good, including man and woman. God said that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Why argue with The One who made us this way? Men and women are gloriously different but complimentary. Our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical differences were designed to bring us joy. Even the lows; the frustrating struggles of marriage when handled with the grace of the gospel, demonstrate God’s goodness as a redeeming God; restoring us to himself and to each other. We can always build back better (to redeem an otherwise euphemistic political phrase). If we still have a pulse, it is never too late. His attributes of sacrificial love, forgiveness, and oneness (all good) intended to accomplish good are all modeled in marriage.

Now, I would like to make two observations.

Parenting Years Fly by Fast. Enjoy Them.

Life is short and our time with our children is shorter. As I prepared my “father of the bride” speech, I was struck anew with this truth as I considered stories about my time with Abigail as a little girl. Those wonderful years were filled with precious moments. But they flew by so fast and I confess that I did not choose to enjoy those years as much as I could have. We do have jobs that need our attention, but our jobs do not ultimately define us. I’ll never forget these sage words, “When you are on your deathbed you will not be wishing you spent more time at the office.”

As parents, we really are circus stars. Raising children is a balancing act that lasts 20 years, not 20 seconds. Actually, the metaphor of a balancing act isn’t exactly accurate because a job and raising children are not equal. But it does convey the idea that we need to intentionally engage the struggle if we are doing it faithfully. Do we seek ultimate significance in our careers that will often rob others, or do we rest in our significance as redeemed sons of the Most High God freeing us to serve others? If it all seems too easy, perhaps we are “out of balance.”

Be Grateful for Our Relationships.

Weddings (and funerals) help us see that our church relationships matter—a lot. I was looking at the wedding guests and each one has played a significant role in our lives. Some of the people were extended family, but many were fellow church members who have been part of our lives for decades. They were there because they were special. Unfortunately, there were many special people who we could not invite but even that realization was a blessing.

Weddings provide a visible reminder that we are not alone. God has given us a community, an eternal family to help us walk with him, especially when we are struggling, which if we’re honest is often. He has made a way for us to have enduring joy, peace, and purpose in this broken world. Weddings are vital reminders or God’s effervescent love and provision for our joy and redemption.

To hear more from Leslee and me about the wedding and our takeaways, please listen to the Home In Him podcast here.

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