Source: Pajamas, Parenting and Paraclete
I simply wanted to have a little time of family prayer. For that to happen, it required for our kids to get their pajamas on and brush their teeth. I told them to do that, then sat down and studied my Hebrew vocabulary, since I am in seminary right now.
Our youngest came back to the living room after 10 minutes, without having brushed his teeth, since he can’t on his own yet. The older ones weren’t to be found. I was a bit frustrated, so I went to their rooms to see what was happening. When one of them was half pajama’d (but with teeth brushed) and reading a magazine, I responded with more frustration, and our family prayer time needed to start with confession instead of thanksgiving.
When we talked as a family that night about how the whole “getting ready for bed quickly” affair went down, I realized that I had done nothing to help them. I simply said, “Get ready quickly and come back to the living room.” Usually, getting ready for bed takes a good 15-20 minutes and is filled with distractions of various kinds, but it doesn’t matter a ton. We usually allow for that amount of time and it isn’t a problem. I wanted that accelerated that night, but I simply told them to go faster, but did nothing to help. That night,
God very clearly told me, “You did nothing to help them. Your job is to help them, not simply tell them.”
I think my tendency as a parent is to fail to be a paraclete. This is the Greek term for the Holy Spirit that we find in John 14-16. It can be translated “Counsellor, Helper, or Advocate.” It means one who comes along side. That night, God showed me that part of my job description as a parent is to come along side, not simply command. It is to come along side the little ones as they are putting on their clothes, brushing their teeth, making their beds. I have the expertise, the strength and the dexterity to reach up to the top bunk. Yet so often I am passive, or more often, busy. So I tell them to go do things and make them do it in their own strength, teaching them the exact wrong things about what the Christian life is all about.
God does not give us the commands of the Bible and then expect us to do them with the feeble strength and wisdom that we have in ourselves. He wants us to look to Him and lean on Him. He gives those who have received Christ the Holy Spirit to dwell inside them to give them the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. God is our paraclete.
I want my kids to see me as a paraclete. I want them to see me as paraclete in these early years and that it would continue into the years to come. I want them to ask me to help, and I want to jump up and help, no matter what I’m doing. That’s part of my job description. I want them to want me to walk along side them when they are navigating making their bed, learning to ride a bike, winning and losing at sports, making friends in the neighborhood, learning how to adventure, camping and backpacking, entering junior high, entering puberty, learning about boys and girls, the scary world of high school, driving, adolescence, applying for college, picking a major, and entering adulthood. I want to be along side them that whole time, and I think part of it lies in learning how to let the dishes lie undone for a while, and letting the studying wait. It’s both bringing them into my tasks and teaching and training them in those, but also entering into their little world as the one who can train them and come along side them, to be a paraclete, one who comes
along side them, to help them make it and succeed.
I think if I can do that, those family prayer times will go a lot better, both because they will get ready for bed faster, but also because we will be in relationship as we head into those prayer times in the first place.
It has been a great start to the school year here in Davis. It is always exciting and fun to meet new students. They are embarking on a school year that holds new experiences, stress (often both academic and relational), and independence like they have never experienced before.
Jeremiah and I love coaching and training student leaders who are driving the movement and ministry on this campus. They are full of ideas and passion. They are beginning to understand what it means to not just embrace faith in Christ as a personal decision, but also to allow that faith to transform them and inform their life goals and decisions. We want them to see—as I have continued to learn over my almost 20 years since I started college—that relationships are supremely important and that we have the perfect example of Christ who prioritized relationships and invested his life and passion into people, ultimately even giving his very life.
We are excited for this weekend, which is our Fall Retreat for Cru at UC Davis/Napa Valley College. I am looking forward to connecting more with some of our newly involved students.
It has been a different Fall for me (Lori). I haven’t been engaging quite as much with students, since I have just started homeschooling Isaiah this year and am also busy with various legal issues regarding campus access from around the country—never a dull moment. I have to say I am enjoying working with Isaiah, despite the way it further limits my work time. I can see why people love homeschooling. It is so fun to engage with our children and help them think and learn in a focused way. I am even learning things that I either forgot or never learned. Some fun California history and ways of thinking about Math. I also am enjoying the conversations that come up with all the kids because of topics that Isaiah and I are learning or discussing—like our discussion about the fact that we have a 2 party political system in this country, which seemed to fascinate Bethany (it is funny what kids pick up; even though we watch very little media, she asked me “who are you going to vote for for President?” I said I have no idea, and said I have issues with both parties, but it started an interesting discussion).
I would not give myself the title of “soccer mom” since I hardly feel like I deserve it. But I will acknowledge that soccer is in full swing-an intense season, but really quite short (Sept – first week of Nov).
The boys are both playing, which is fun. Judah has a great little team—I love watching the little 5 year old boys going after the ball and playing hard. I love that all the parents are super encouraging of every kid out there—we just want to see all the boys play well. That may not be the attitude reflected in the boys, however. Judah is a bit competitive…but he is also a great teammate and seems to be understanding a bit about how the game works, looking around for his teammates and passing it to them. Isaiah is learning a ton this year too. Although sports are not intuitive for him, once he learns the rules, he begins to see how it is best to move the ball around and can certainly visualize what he wants to see happen. It is fun to see him beginning to enjoy the game of Soccer.
In other news, it has been HOT here in Davis (OK, keep in mind that my reference from past years was the nice cool Fall of Flagstaff–which we miss). We are still wearing shorts and short sleeves, and have regularly had weather in the 90s. Here we are washing the car (don’t worry–we conserve water–it has been months since washing the car). Any excuse to spray little bits of water on ourselves (haha).