A lesson I need EVERY day.

Several weeks ago a young woman sent me a text that read, "Do your children fight?" I was quite glad my mouth was not full or food or liquid because it would have been spat across my phone when I started choking while laughing. She is a fun, no-nonsense kind of woman, so I responded with great sarcasm. "What? My children are perfect! They serve each other all day, think of others before themselves, and continually sacrifice their own needs for their siblings. In fact, they do not sin at all!" 😜😂😅😄😜😂

We continued our conversation for quite some time, talking about the realities of little sinners living with each other, the need for structure, and the importance of planned activities throughout the day to stave off boredom. (As a wise man once said, "If you let these kids get bored you deserve what happens to you!")

The longer our conversation lasted, however, I was bothered that we had only discussed the practical pieces of parenting young children but had not addressed the spiritual component. We can create schedules, plan outings, invite other children over for play dates, prepare activities, and make time for quiet moments and naps, but the problem is, all of these address what our children DO, but have nothing to do with the heart.

A few days before she sent the text, I had been searching for verses to memorize with Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie. The topic? Peaceful, loving, selfless relationships.
Dennis and I love each other, we love our children, and our children love each other. We have a happy family, we enjoy one another, we live life together, and we support and serve each other when there is a need. But - we are also eight sinners living under the same roof, and we do not always do so successfully.
Our children do not always live in peace. They do not always think of their siblings before themselves. They can be quick to argue and to blame. They provoke one other. They are impatient, want to be 'first,' and argue about things that have absolutely no importance in life. They can watch a movie or play a game, laugh and enjoy each other, and then WHAM! Someone is being held down in a wrestling move on the floor screaming for help, or someone is crying because so-and-so stole their favorite Lego piece. Dennis and I have also been known to engage in a skirmish or two. (note the sarcasm)

Because of this reality in our family, and because all of my "creative ideas" for sibling harmony were not working as I had hoped (imagine), I went to the place I should have visited first - Scripture. There are literally dozens of verses that speak to the heart of selfishness, rudeness, provoking someone to anger, and pride, so I selected the ones that were most fitting for us as a family, printed out two copies, placing one on our cupboard so they are visible to every family member, and placing the other in our stack of reading books so we can read them aloud and memorize them together each morning.

As the conversation came to a close with my young friend, I quickly copied and pasted these verses into our text thread so we could leave each other with God's Word as our focus. And then, I read each verse over and over to remind myself that living in peaceful, loving, selfless relationships is not a lesson for children. It is a lesson for all of us, and it is a lesson I need to review - every day.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Romans 14:19

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3,4

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31, 32

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I Corinthians 13:4-7

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. II Corinthians 13:11

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