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Below is an excerpt from a book I read recently called “10 Keys to Raising Kids That Love God” by Leilani Haywood. It is one of the best parenting books I’ve read in a long time. Not only does Leilani give us practical tools, she uses examples from her own life to help us see how they work in real life.
I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself. Procedes from this book will help to fund the Orphan Justice Center.
How God Wants to be Involved in Your Parenting
Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, saying “Lord, please let the man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.” God answered Manoah’s prayer…
Judges 13:8–9 NLT
You were not meant to raise your children alone or by the strength of your own willpower. You may have attended every family life seminar or conference, read every Christian parenting book but you’re still frustrated. Your kids are unhappy and the atmosphere in your home is tense.
We have more parenting advice available through radio, TV, the Internet and books than at anytime in history, but there are more dysfunctional families—Christian and non-Christian—than ever. Christian families are under attack as our faith is discredited by the lack of godly examples. Kids with Christian parents are taking drugs, engaging in premarital sex and committing suicide. We have more information than any other parent has had in history but our kids are going crazy.
Parenting books, parenting conferences and seminars alone aren’t going to create children that love God. We need God involved in the details of raising our children.
Manoah and his wife raised Samson according to God’s counsel (Judges 13:8–5). God gave Samson’s parents specific directions on raising Samson. He knew Samson had a mighty calling. And of course, Mary and Joseph, Jesus’s parents, relied on God for direction as to where they should raise him (Matthew 2:13, 19–20).
God wants to be intimately involved in helping parents raise kids that loved Him.
A very wise woman once told me that my ministry is my children. I didn’t want to hear that because I liked being in the middle of ministry adventures. I love traveling, staying in nice hotels and meeting important people.
While I was working in my dream ministry position in which I occasionally traveled, my daughter DÁndra was born. She has Down syndrome and needed extra attention although physically she was perfect. My unplanned surprise birth of a child with special needs turned my world upside down.
I was thrust into turmoil, thought God forgot me and I was tempted to leave the church. Then a wise woman, Pastor Diana, took me out to lunch to find out what was going on. I shared with her that I was struggling with feeling that I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile for the kingdom of God. I think I even cried through the lunch.
I’ll never forget what she told me that day that literally saved my family and me. With her bright blue eyes glistening with compassion, she reached out to me and said, “Your ministry now is your family.”
I wiped away tears and said that I didn’t think of my family as a ministry. I thought they were in the way of the ministry. I was uber performance-oriented and Pastor Diana opened a door to a brand new world of compassion, love, kindness and the goodness of God.
I dreaded the thought of stepping down from a high profile ministry position to take care of my daughter with special needs and my sons. But that feeling of being forgotten, unworthy, and washed up as I sat in the foyer with my daughter began to fade with the years.
I took her advice and poured my love, my faith and everything I had into my children. While I was pregnant with D’Andra, I didn’t tell a lot of people about her diagnosis. I shared her diagnosis of Down syndrome with a few friends so they could stand with me in prayer. I was praying for her healing and preparing at the same time to take care of her.
I contacted the local Down Syndrome Guild that works with parents and caregivers of individuals with Down syndrome. The following week I literally received a semi-truckload of information. I devoured the pamphlets, booklets and was halfway finished reading a book when I was overcome with fear.
The book cast every imaginable symptom that an individual with Down syndrome could experience—from critical heart surgery at birth with severe learning delays. I thought I was carrying a monster and wondered why God would give me a special needs child. When I bawled in my husband’s arms after he came home to find me reading the book, he said, “No more books honey. This is our daughter, and my baby girl. She is not a monster. She’s my princess.” I put the books away and focused on preparing for her birth just like she was a normal baby girl.
I believed that God would give me the wisdom to take care of her, just as He had provided wisdom and counsel for taking care of my sons. When D’Andra was born, the delivery was normal. Several of my friends hosted a shower in my church that was the largest shower that has been held since then. D’Andra was born into a community of faith and love where she’s included and hears about God’s plan for her life.
Leilani, an award-winning writer, is the online editor for SpiritLed Woman and frequent contributor to Charisma. She has been published in Focus on The Family, the Kansas City Star, Metrovoice News and many other publications. She has been happily married to her best friend, Jerome for 23 years and has 3 children, 20-year-old Chris, 17-year-old Alex and 13-year-old D’Andra. The Haywoods reside in Kansas City.