Loving your Kids...AT BEDTIME!
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Does anyone else struggle with bedtime? The exhaustion at the end of the day. The tears. The "one more book" demands. The "I'm scared" excuse. The "I'm so thirsty. I can't sleep without water" excuse. Sometimes I just want to push a magic button that will put my kids to bed, so I can be FREE!
But, God has totally swooped in and convicted me like only He can.
Let me back up a little. This month we are praying about L-O-V-E. No big deal, just the thing that was MOST important to Jesus.
In Matthew's gospel, a man asks Jesus what the most important commandment is. Jesus answers by saying, "LOVE!"
More specifically, Jesus replies, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:36-38).
But he doesn't stop there. The man wasn't even asking for another commandment, but Jesus is just so cool like that. He always takes us higher than we ever wanted to go.
Jesus continues, "And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:39-40).
Since loving God with all that we are and loving others are most important to God, (and equally important to Him) we knew we needed to start the year asking God to help us increase our love.
The problem is, when you pray for more love, you start to see the areas of your life where you are being unloving. Ahem...for me, it's bedtime.
The other night, I was extremely short-tempered at bedtime after a long day of being really patient. One of my kids reminded me that I am supposed to be praying for us all to love God and love others this month. I imagined how I would feel if God were just waiting to get rid of me so he could have a "Sarah break." He showed me how patient He is with me and how every time I call on Him, he answers with delight. He wants to be with me and never grows weary.
God also woke up my heart to the fact that my kids won't always want to cuddle and tell me every single thing that's on their little minds. My oldest is 7.5 and every day he is looking more and more like a little man. I know that time is flying. God told me to stop and to cherish it.
So this time I obeyed and I let everything go and I had one of those moments where you sit back and watch your life and really savor the moment. I cherished the raspy little voices, the outlandish and hilarious comments, the sweet baby shampoo hair smell.
I'm not advising that we all let our kids manipulate us into staying up for hours or that bedtime needs to be a long drawn out process every night. What I am advising is that we stop and listen to God. When we feel ourselves starting to lose it or become overwhelmed with hurry, let's stop and breathe for a second. Let's ask Him how he sees our kids and if there's anything we might be missing. Maybe an important conversation needs to be had, or a lie or fear needs to be renounced, or an extra cuddle session is just the right medicine for the night.
And, if you have a child who is frequently emotional or scared at night and you are just exhausted by it all...you are NOT ALONE! Here is a new tradition we've started that is helping so much. It has brought peace to my daughter's heart and has connected us in a special way.
Recite Psalm 4:8 for your child every night that he or she complains of feeling scared. My littlest girl had to memorize this verse for church so we said it every night last week and now all the kids have it down. I just turned it into a little song to make it easier for us (me!) to memorize.
"I will lie down and sleep in peace. For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." -Psalm 4:8
We talk about how God protects us and keeps us safe and He's right there with us, even in our room. So when we're scared of the dark or we see a shadow or we hear a noise, we can just shout out or sing out this verse. I have even started to sing this on my own, because even though I'm a grown-up, I sometimes have trouble sleeping and face fears at night.
Here's a printable version of Psalm 4:8 if you want to put it up in your child's room to make memorizing and reciting it easier.
What are ways that you love your kids at bedtime? We want to hear your thoughts!