I’m not the greatest gift I can give my children


Larry the Cucumber and Bob the tomato are telling Jr. Asparagus and his friends the story of how St. Nicolas came to be known as Santa Clause.

I’m driving to some commitment or another and the kids are watching this VeggieTales Christmas movie in the back, during NOT christmas-time. I don’t always tune in to the movie they are watching because, let’s be real, they watch them OVER AND OVER AND OVER. (You are welcome to expel or reserve judgement on my allowing my children too much screen time at this time)

And, then, I hear Bob say it: “This is the sad part . . . his parents . . . died.”

I listened more closely. How will my kids handle this kind of news? Main characters . . . PARENTS dying . . .

They honestly seemed unscathed. I think Ryder uttered an “awwww” with a frown face, but that was it.

The next part of the movie intrigued me.

It goes on to share how young Nick ran away from his home on a journey to find himself. He didn’t find it in anything he sought. There is a moment in the movie in which he recalls the main lesson his dad taught him – we have only to give, because Christ gave for us.

He realized that he needed to give of himself to feel fully satisfied. And, he realized that his parents died while giving of themselves, caring for the sick, and he was grateful for them. He finally understood their mission. He had been so bitter that they left him for so long and he finally valued the purpose they gave their lives for.

Most of my parenting life – all of 5 years – I have thought that the worst thing that could possibly happen to me or my children would be for me and Richard to die.

Who would care for them? How would they grow to be functioning and mildly tolerable humans – like me – if they don’t have me to teach them?

I’m a work-out-of-the-home mom. I weigh my moments carefully, but I don’t get as much time as the moms who stay home with their little kids.

I am a naturally distracted person, so I have to work hard to be fully present in any situation I am in. I have often heard people say to me, “You are the greatest gift you can give your children.” “Make sure you make the most of every moment.”

I agree that my time and focus are deeply special gifts that hold human-shaping power. I even agree that I am the only one who is tasked with being Ryder and Jayne’s mom. No passing that one off, and I wouldn’t dream of it. 

I do not, however, believe that I am the greatest gift I can give my children. 

Let me explain. I suck. 

I am a very, very broken person who at best thinks too highly of herself, and at worst is almost irredeemably selfish. I will not argue for the many things that qualify me to be a good mother, because the things that disqualify me vastly outweigh them.

I trust that God placed me where He did for a reason. I trust Him. Truly. But, I question what He has deemed me capable of handling. Has He really trusted me with the development of 2 of His precious children?

No, He hasn’t.

At least, not completely.

If Richard and I were solely responsibly for our children’s development and success, then we should quit today. We can’t even provide those things for ourselves. Apart from Christ and his Spirit, we have no power against the darkness that is deep within each of us.

I can’t help my kids fight the darkness in their hearts, but I can point them to the Winner of Soul Battles. I can share stories of that God fighting for me and winning. I can speak always of the work of the Creator in my heart. I can model submission to the Redeemer and give them a picture of what Healing looks like. I can celebrate with them the New Life I have been given in Christ.

The greatest gift I will ever give my children is my Jesus. And, that’s not even mine to give, but I do get to be the messenger, for now. 

If my kids get to know who Jesus really is and the power that comes from trusting and following him . . . Then they don’t need me. Then, they have received the greatest gift any of us will ever receive.

I don’t want to raise safe children that don’t know what it means to follow Jesus fully until they are grown and out of my home. I want to live out the mission WITH THEM, today. I want my kids to know that people who are surrendered to Christ give everything, always.

I want them to experience the joy of being fully submitted to Christ. I pray for them to see the Power of Christ work through them, even if I don’t get to see it.

I will receive the gift of grace given to me freely, and I will pass it on to them. That is really the only gift worth anything, anyway.

“Great people don’t do great things, God does great things through surrendered people.” – Jennie Allen

“God cannot give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” – C.S. Lewis

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