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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 6:5-7 ESV

There we sat on our bed wondering where we could have gone wrong. My husband, Steve, and I were in tears as we sat looking at each other unable to speak. Separately, we cried out silently to the Lord asking for direction on what seemed to be an endless battle with one of our children. Even sitting there together in the room, it felt so lonely. Lately it seemed like it was just one battle after another with no break between. We were tired. We seemed to make it through one issue and then onto the next. The thought that kept repeating in my mind was, “Where did we go wrong?”

This wasn’t the first time we had been through a trial with one of our kids, but this one was tough, and we were concerned. The parent guilt began as we felt incompetent or like we had failed at one of the biggest jobs of our life: raising our children to know and love the Lord. One of our biggest concerns was the lack of care and concern of the actions that occurred, but also the lack of respect for the Lord and knowing what the Bible says about how we should live our lives as pleasing to Him.

I remember asking the Lord: Are we even discipling our kids? How can we do a better job? We had so many questions as we continued to cry out to Him. It didn’t take long for the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts and begin what He does so often… comforts. Then I remembered something I heard at a recent conference. When your children make decisions that are against everything you have ever taught them, that is not because you are not discipling them or raising them in the Word. The decision does not reflect on you being a “bad” parent or someone who is not discipling, but it has everything to do with their own free will and the focus in their life. The best thing you can do is let them know that they made this decision and will have to live with the consequences of their actions, but they won’t have to do it alone. You will be there each step of the way, praying for them, guiding them in the Truth.

The hard part many times is having the grace to say this with a compassionate spirit. There have been many occasions where I have spoken out of my human nature rather than the Holy Spirit’s guidance and had to quickly ask forgiveness. Discipling our children does not always mean reading the Bible together, praying and singing songs to the Lord. It is a daily action we put into place when we are purposeful in our walk with the Lord.

We have five children. Two boys and three girls ranging from eighteen down to six years old. They each have a unique personality and keep Steve and I on our toes. The longer we are parents, the more we realize we really don’t know all that much. But, one thing that we DO know is that by living out the Word in our day to day life; our speech, our actions and reactions; this is discipling. Our children are very observant and are watching how we treat each other. They see us get up early for our quiet time, reading the Word, worshiping Him through music or serving others. They are watching and learning as we LIVE OUT what it means to follow Christ. They also see when we make mistakes and how we respond afterward. We want them to know how to live a servant-spirited life and walk humbly in the Word. I want my kids to know the mercy of God and to be kind-hearted to all people. I believe we all want so much for our family, but sometimes don’t know how to help instill those qualities in them. The Lord has simply put this on my heart: LIVE IT OUT.

I speak often about our “silent testimony.” It’s not about how loudly we speak about our walk with the Lord, how often we read our Bibles, how we have not missed a day of church, or even telling everyone about our salvation story. Your actions or “silent testimony” speak so much louder. So as the Lord gave me the same words, I give these to you… LIVE IT OUT!

Prayer for today: Lord, when we seem to be drowning in all the waves of the unknown, please help us regain our focus and look to You! As we watch our children fall away from You, give us the strength to love them with Your love and show them Your mercy. Please help us Lord as we continue to seek Your ways and live out Your love every day. Help our children to see Jesus in our lives and want the same. May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable and pleasing unto You, God. Give us discernment and strength as we face each new day. We will continue to praise You for being our Faithful Father! Amen!

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
– 1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB

Samara Ashley
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