My son started training in Taekwondo when he was eight years old. The next six years challenged him over and over. He never backed down or quit the training until he earned his 2nd Degree Blackbelt. Then, he started high school and the demands on his calendar changed so he moved from Taekwondo to marching band, another activity of strength and endurance on so many levels.
I spent many hours watching my boy kick and punch and spar and jump and break boards. I witnessed shy sweet little boys and girls walk in the doors for the first time and see them get stronger and more confident. As a parent, I was proud to be apart of this family. All three of my kids took TKD classes.
Through the years of sitting in the parent room, I witnessed great leaders instilling life skills of leadership, respect, strength, self defense. One day, at the end of the practice, the leader had all of the athletes sit down. He spoke to them about how important practicing is to their growth. He said to them, "Go home and practice. But remember, practice doesn't always make perfect. If you go home and run through your routine one hundred times incorrectly, you may be practicing but it will not be correct."
WOW!!! This has become part of our family fight song (if we actually had one).
About two years ago, I joined my first bible study group with my neighborhood lady friends. I was scared but I felt it was something that I was being called to do. I was scared because opening up about my spiritual-self had always been difficult for me. Through this activity, I created a habit of carving out time to spend reading, learning, praying, and spending time with my amazing Creator. I began my personal crusade as a prayer warrior.
Growing up, if asked whether or not I was a believer, I would always confidently say, "Yes, I am." I went to Sunday School, Youth Group, and religious celebrations. Did I attend church every Sunday? Was I a witness to my friends about my beliefs? Did I always live by God's laws? Honestly, no, I didn't always. But I was a BELIEVER.
When my son was about three years old, I told him the full story of Easter. Not the version with bunny rabbits, colored eggs, and marshmallow duckies. The real story about the journey of Jesus until he rose again. The look on his face was of a feeling of terror. He asked me, "Mommy, how could a daddy let his son die like that?" I got through that question with mediocrity; feeling that I should be doing more to instill the powerful love of the greatest sacrifice ever made for us into my children's every day lives.
So I began with getting them enrolled in vacation bible schools every summer. Now the big kids are VBS junior counselors. They go to youth group and church camps and church coordinated mission trips. The big kids have attended first communion and confirmation classes. My sweet little blessing will follow in their footsteps.
One afternoon, I really needed my older daughter to come help with a chore or two. I called up to her and she responded down to me that she was in the middle of worshiping. She was about ten years old. What in the world? I walked (with a quick, slightly frustrated pace) up to her room to confront her about being disrespectful (on so many levels). I quickly change what would have been an exasperated confrontation to an overwhelmingly proud expression of joy. She was sitting on the floor of her room reading her bible, coloring in her bible journal and listening to "In Christ Alone."
"Come on down in ten minutes. Cleanliness is next to Godliness and I need your help with some cleaning." That's all I could think of as I quickly decided to tame my Italian/Irish red-headed "energy" instead of letting it all out.
I walked away with an enormous feeling of how much of an example she was to ME!! Her mother!! I needed and wanted to be just like her. So I joined the neighborhood bible study.
These past few years have consisted of me learning more, listening more, dedicating myself more, leading by example more, journaling more, praying more, thanking Him more, and purposefully worshiping more. Its now a way of life for me; it's water, oxygen, sleep, love......it's something I can't live without on a daily (sometimes minute by minute) basis.
This didn't just happen overnight. I had to practice sitting still and focusing on my God. I had to practice being a good prayer warrior. I had to practice being a witness. I had to practice reading the Bible and really seeing where my life fit into His plan. This daily routine has become more and more natural. If I had not had His word in my heart and life like I do today as well as last year when JB left us, I'm not really sure where I would be right now. Where would my kids fall? That feeling is really scary to me. Terrifying.
So, I will continue to practice bringing our Savior into my life completely and consistently. I will continue to engage my children and help them to build a strong spiritual foundation to help support their Christian life journey. And I will work on my confidence to express my love for Him and be a true witness to his promise.