I left the library after picking up a book I had reserved. As I walked to my car I was suddenly transported back in memory to a time when my young boys and I visited the library every week.
We’d go home with stacks of books and I read to them regularly. Dr Suess. Chronicles of Narnia. Little House On The Prairie. Silly books. Fun books. Historical books. Bible stories. Informational books. Series books.
I wanted them to love books and words as much as I do (you can read about that here). I wanted to instill in them a love for reading.
Because I also enjoy music, our boys were exposed to it as well. We were in church a lot, so of course, hymns and contemporary choruses and worship music, but also other genres.
We traveled to local concerts. Bill Gaither and the harmonies of the Gaither Vocal Band. Free symphony orchestra concerts in the park on summer nights. The New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra with invites by a friend who played violin there. Veggie Tales. The Donut Man. Ron Kenoly. The Blue Man Group. The Annie Moses Band and more.
We brought a video home one day, “Yanni, Live At The Acropolis.” David watched, mesmerized by the incredible solo of the band’s drummer. He watched it over and over and decided he wanted to play drums. We bought a cheap set, put it in the corner of the basement and signed him up for weekly lessons. He was nine years old and took lessons for the next five years. Eventually he started playing at church and youth group.
The year of Florida’s hurricane summer, 2004, the power was off at our house consecutively for twelve days. Besides cutting and hauling the mountains of trees that had fallen on the two and a half acre jungle lot of our Kissimmee home, there was nothing else to do but sweat. David pulled his father’s old guitar out of the back of a closet and started playing. His love for creating music exploded from there.
Our son grew up to love God, books, music and of course his wife, Clara, who is also an avid reader and book lover. They serve in several capacities at their church and Dave will soon be a published author and writes his own music, both lyrics and arrangements. (You can see all that here.)
I like to think I had a little something to do with that. Though we never pushed becoming a writer or musician on our son, exposing him to these things gave him interests to explore and options to consider.
If your children are small right now and time consuming and exhausting and wonderful and amazing and annoying and the myriad of things kids can be at any given moment, remember these few years you have to invest in their lives are incredibly influential and fleeting.
You are not yet seeing the long term dividends of the repetition, the monotonous and the consistency of your faithful parenting, but know this, what is important to you will very likely be important to them and will definitely help shape who and what they become.
Remember on the days it seems futile, when it appears you’re child is not listening, when you wonder if they’ll ever turn into useful humans…
Don’t. Give. Up.
Don’t wring your hands in despair.
Train up your child in the way he/she should go.
Keep doing the next right thing.
Expose them to God, His love, His word and principles and the beautiful and amazing things that still exist in the world.
There will come a day when you’ll have a memory triggered, as I did leaving the library last night, and realize…
It was all worth it.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”