As young parents there were many things we wanted to pass on to our kids. We attempted devotions, memorizing verses, praying together as a family over needs we shared together and etc. Notice I said, “Attempted.” Sometimes I felt great about our ability to train and love our kids. To be honest, most of the time I felt we were falling very short of what God wanted us to do!
H.W. Beecher said, “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”
What I think Beecher is getting at and what I realized after many years as we have watched our three graduate from college, find the loves of their lives, get married and then decorate our life with little grandchildren who are vastly different from one another but much like their parents was that we mommies tend to pass on what is caught not taught.
Our kids have a front row seat to our selfish ‘reactions’ or godly responses whether we like it or not! They also have the haunted privilege to the necessary but difficult conflicts we share with our spouses. Indubitably they feast upon any wonder moments we give them of laughter and joy. And, yes there are times we directly teach them and it seems to make an impact!
I found that when my kids were in their twenties the things they remembered the most about growing up in our home were definitely NOT what I remembered or thought I was “teaching them!” However, there were some valued moments we all remember and share! One was when we were returning to the states for our second furlough. Tom and I felt this was a perfect time to teach our elementary age children about prayer and faith.
Some of you have probably heard Tom speak on the “Impossible List.” We did not call it that. We just had each child pray for one thing that they really wanted in our home for the six month break we were about to undertake. Michael prayed for a computer. (This is when computers where huge and rarely found in a home.) Amy prayed for a piano. And Stephen prayed for five TVs! (Ah, five TVs, we contained our giggles!!)
When we arrived in the furlough home that our church had set up for us the kids ran into the house to see if God had provided their requests. Indeed Michael found a computer. Within a week I received a phone call asking if any of our kids, “played the piano because someone just offered one.” We took it!
Lastly, and the one which we were a bit doubtful about was the five TVs. Stephen dashed from room to room. He found a TV in the family room. He found one in his sister’s bedroom. And, there was one in the Master bedroom. Only three TVs? What a letdown. Unbeknownst to us though, out in the garage there was a massive amount of goods all piled up and covered with several tarps that church members had contributed for our use. And, wouldn’t you know? There were two more TVs among this blessed heap! Fortunately for us (Tom and I) these two extra TVs did not work! So, we all chuckled and, I am certain God smiled, as we all realized God indeed had heard and answered our prayers!
This was one of those teachable, memorable moments as we parented faith! To be certain though, most of the time it was the daily, routines of life that supplied our children with lessons we did not deliberately teach but that reflected our heart! As I pursued Christ on a daily basis I did not trumpet my daily choices to my children “Hey kids, look at me, I am now having a quiet time!” Rather, I quietly made many decisions to obey Christ from the big ones like going to the mission field as well as the seemingly small ones like the choice to be kind to a woman who talked behind my back.
Our efforts to follow Jesus with a whole heart, meeting Him in the Word and prayer as consistently as we can and discipling and serving others as God enables us all underscore what Beecher is talking about in the quote above. Who I am and my heart to authentically walk with Jesus will be the book read by my kids as I seek to disciple them!
Dana with Tom has been on staff with the Navs for over 30 years and married over 40 years. They are blessed with six children and seven grandchildren. Dana has lived in many places throughout her life time: Florida, Maryland, Indonesia, Chicago and Colorado Springs to name a few. Dana’s loves are the Word of God, people and helping people learn.
To contact Dana please email her at: Dana.Yeakley@navigators.org
What is the magic formula for raising a missionary kid who loves Jesus? I wish there was one! Dana gives us a great example to follow though and one that rings true for every generation. If we model it consistently they are more likely to “catch” it. What encourages your mama’s heart as you read about Dana and Tom’s approach to passing on their faith?