Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Story by Ann Carter. Photos provided by the Surles family and Ann Carter.

I have plans for you.When we dedicate babies at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, we pledge with parents to help raise their children to know and love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. Pastor Jim Somerville asks parents to nurture their children’s faith, teaching them the songs and reading them the stories of Jesus, bringing them to church to learn about Jesus so when they are old enough, they can make the decision for themselves to choose Jesus. Jim asks the parents, “Are you willing to do your part?” “We will,” they respond. Jim then turns to the congregation, challenging us to do our part. And we answer with an enthusiastic “We will!”

Each baby is given a special verse, chosen by their parents, which will shape their faith journey. And sometimes, if we pay close enough attention, we have the great joy of watching the fruit of that commitment as these babies grow into amazing adults who have committed to live like Christ in lives of service.


I have plans for you.Our church has most definitely kept its commitment with Madeline Surles and has had the joy of watching her grow from a tiny baby being dedicated on the steps of our sanctuary to the young woman she is today. And it is not only Maddie’s life, but her mother’s as well, that has been shaped by our community of faith. This summer was Maddie’s 15th mission trip with FBC and her sixth trip to Helena, Arkansas. It was Laurie’s first mission trip. Ever. I didn’t realize this until halfway through the week: “I have sent my daughter on mission trips ever since she was in the 7th grade, but I have never had the opportunity to go on one myself.”

I have plans for you.I have plans for you.Wait. What? Laurie had never been on a mission trip before? Nope. As a single mom, Laurie worked hard to get Maddie to church for all the children and youth activities our church offers—and all the extra events, too. She worked hard to make sure Maddie could attend trips the youth group went on each summer. Sometimes, there were additional ones like the BWA Youth Conferences in Germany and Singapore, the sports mission trip to China or service in Slovakia, Saint Croix and Manila. Laurie sacrificed to give her daughter all the opportunities she could; and because of these sacrifices, there wasn’t enough money or time off from work for Laurie to go. But in the meantime, her sacrifice paid off. While Maddie’s faith was being formed in her mind and in her heart, it was also being formed in her hands. Now that Maddie is an adult, living independently as she studies for her Master’s Degree at Bluefield College, it was time for Laurie to go. “I witnessed how these trips changed her life and I wanted to be a part of one. So when Maddie asked me to join her, I said ‘Yes!’”

Reflecting on her first mission trip, Laurie said, “The people who go on the Helena trip are part of Madeline’s family and the people who live in Helena are part of her family. I finally got to meet the people who were so special to her. Maddie has been able to go on so many mission trips and I have been able to hear about them afterwards. But this time, I got to see firsthand what she can do. I loved watching Maddie using her talents to serve God.”

I have plans for you.As Laurie spoke, her eyes filled with tears, “People in this church have been praying for my children since the day they were born.” And that has made all the difference. Parenting isn’t easy. We can’t do it alone. What a gift to have a community of faith that partners with parents to shape the lives of our children, so that they serve like Christ, wherever they go bringing the kingdom of heaven a little closer to earth.


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Story by Stephanie Kim. Photo by Susan Brown.

When my daughter was in 8th grade, each student created a parenting handbook as a language arts project. Each parent contributed by writing a letter to her or his child, giving advice to the future parent. This is what I wrote to my daughter.

Dear Maria,
I have been given this amazing opportunity to share with you my dreams for you as a parent someday. I certainly hope that you will patiently wait for that special boy God is preparing to be your husband. With your marriage promise to each other and with both of you wholeheartedly committed to God, I pray that He will bless you with the tremendous joy of children.

Children help us parents learn so many things and shape us into better individuals. They teach unconditional love and demonstrate a faith that adults seem to have lost. They change our perspective. They are the source of our greatest joys and deepest sorrows. You will learn enduring patience, overflowing generosity, and sacrificial love. You will develop a much greater understanding of the Heavenly Father’s love for you after you have your own children. And you will learn to forgive again and again.

If you are blessed with children, I hope you will remember that these children you love with all your heart are loved even more by Someone else.In fact, your children actually belong to God, Who has entrusted to you these you call your own only for a time to care for and nurture. It’s an awesome responsibility and a tremendous honor…and way too tough to handle on your own! You will quickly learn that you must lean on God for help because you will face countless difficult challenges as they grow older. I hope that you will seek God’s wisdom and will in every decision and challenge you face.

Many mothers worry about making mistakes. Whatever bumps in the road come along, your love for them will overcome all your shortcomings. Pray for your children daily—maybe even constantly. There are many dangers and evil things in this world that can consume you with worry for your children. Instead place your trust in God and know that He has His children in the palm of His hand.

School will teach them what they need for college and career. You teach them what is most important to live—to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others. Show them how to be grateful for the big things and little things, when there is plenty and when there is little, in good times and bad. Gratitude is the key to happiness.

It’s easy, especially in the early years of parenting, to become overwhelmed with life and circumstances and careers and things to do. I hope that you will not rush those years and hurry to and from everything: They will pass quickly without your help. You’ve heard it before—life is not an emergency. Don’t worry about the dirty dishes, the laundry to be done, the toys spread everywhere. Do them when there is time, but not at the cost of dancing with your kids, riding bikes together, messing up the driveway with chalk, and splashing in the rain.

And when things don’t turn out exactly the way you planned—for you or for your children—trust that God has it under control.

I love you more than you know, and God loves you even more than that. I know you will be a marvelously magnificent mom!


A Mother's Letter

Stephanie often participates in worship services as flutist.

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