God Better Save My Kids Because I Sure As Heck Can’t


Right now my hands smell like poop.

Well, not right now because I just washed them. But they smelled like poop a few minutes ago. Why? Because my 18 month old daughter Gwendolyn has figured out how to take her diaper off. She’s gotten into the habit of taking off her diaper while still in her crib, which often results in her and her crib being covered in poop. Oh yeah, and my hands also get covered in poop as I clean her off.

So often parenting doesn’t feel like parenting. It feels more like riot control, and I’m using the word “control” veeeeeerrrrry loosely.

Family devotions often feel the same way. I’ve got all the right resources. I’ve got the?Jesus Storybook Bible?and?The Big Picture Story Bible?and?Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers. I’ve read?Shepherding A Child’s Heart?and am regularly trying to address heart matters with my kids. But despite all these great resources my family devotion times often feel more circus than sacred.

I’ll gather Charis and Ella and Gwendolyn together in the living room, and for the first 15 seconds everything looks very promising. Then Charis and Ella will get into a grudge match over who gets to sit on the couch. So I sort out the grudge match. By the time I get everything sorted out it’s likely that both of them will be crying and saying things like, “I never ever get to sit on the couch ever!”

Then we start reading. The reading usually goes something like this…

Joseph’s brothers were not kind to him at all. They were jealous of…Charis please stop laying upside down off the couch!

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of the coat his father…Ella if you don’t stop playing with Kleenex box you’re going to have to go lay on your bed.

Joseph’s brother’s were jealous of…Gwendolyn give me my iPad!

They were…yes Ella you have a coat just like Joseph.

And on and on and on. It takes 20 minutes to read a few pages. By the time we reach the end of the story I’ve pretty much given up on being heart-oriented, gospel-centered, and all those other hyphenated words I’m supposed to be. I’m just trying to make it to the end.

I believe in the doctrine of election because it’s in the Bible. I also believe in the doctrine of election because I have kids.

I desperately need God to save my kids because I know I sure as heck can’t. If I were ultimately responsible for the salvation of my children I would have a complete nervous breakdown.

I’m not saying biblical parenting isn’t important. Of course it is. But biblical parenting doesn’t produce saved kids, only God does that.?

My parents did a wonderful job of faithfully teaching us from God’s word. We regularly had family devotional times. But I often fell asleep during family devotions. There were many times when my hard heart simply didn’t want to hear what God’s word had to say. When my dad wanted us to wake up at the crack of 8 AM for family devotions during the summer I told him very clearly, “You are ruining my summer.”

My parents were faithful to teach me God’s word, but they couldn’t make my heart come alive. Only God could do that. And praise God, he did make my heart come alive.

When God saved me all the things my parents had taught me began to slide into place and lock together, like a jigsaw puzzle being assembled. The Holy Spirit would bring things I had been taught to mind and would use those things to convict me and change me. The seeds my dad had been scattering for years finally began to blossom and bloom.

Right now parenting feels part biblical, part survival, and part insanity. But I have faith God will save my kids. Not because I’m doing a bang-up job as a parent, but because God is faithful. I believe God will use my feeble efforts to bring forth good fruit in my kids lives. I believe God will use the seeds I’m desperately flinging. I believe God will save my kids because he is mighty to save, not because I’m mighty to teach.

Gotta go. I smell poop.

+Original photo by shane o mac


  • Rachelle says:

    As a mama, with a son in college and 3 teens at home, it has been my greatest blessing to watch God work out salvation in my children’s lives. I stand in awe as I live a typical messy parenting life and in spite of me they find Jesus. That’s grace!

    And two words for you: duct.tape.

  • Cindy says:

    So glad to read of your faithfulness in "flinging" the seed of the Gospel! What a blessing to be reminded of God's faithfulness, and to watch Him work in the lives of our children!! As for the diaper issue… :) Safety pins under the jammie zippers and overalls during the day!! I can chuckle now, but when my son went thru this stage, I found it hard to laugh! :)

  • benthorp says:

    Amen. Mine are out of the diaper stage (or "nappies" as we call them over the pond), but I can definitely relate to the struggle! Family devotions have been hit and miss, but I'm doing my best with Bible stories and prayers at bedtime (thank you Jesus for Sally Lloyd-Jones), and have been _so_ blessed by that realisation that it's all about Jesus. The doctrine of election, far from being something scary and worrisome, is a joy and a burden lifted when it comes to thinking about my kids.

  • Ashley says:

    Interesting post. I hope you will understand that I mean this comment sincerely. It's hard for me to understand how comfort is provided by limited atonement/election, a doctrine in which some people are necessarily selected to go to hell by a supposedly loving God. That could very well be your children. When studying the Bible, one encounters some conflicting scriptures (I've read the verses related to both sides' arguments, purchased books supporting both sides). I know! Some say that's impossible! If it were impossible though, everything in the Bible would be completely clear and theologians wouldn't have anything to debate (obviously Calvinism/Armenianism and everything in between has been debated for years upon years). I don't think the flip side is mentioned too often because it is frightening. I can't fully agree with limited atonement. I think it is flawed. The truth has to be somewhere in the middle.

  • Michelle Lesley says:

    We have two grown children and four still at home who are 18, 13, 11, and 10. Trust me when I tell you: it gets better, but there is still much wiggling and distraction during family worship :0) There have, however, been many times when one of the kids has had an "aha moment" and we have had some beautiful discussions about matters of biblical depth. Notice, I said, "many times." That's looking back across the years. It's not like that every time. But those moments make all the wiggling and threats of punishment moments worth it. Keep flinging.

  • justthe6ofus says:

    haha – thanks for the laugh… I'm referring to your devotional time with your kids cuz I've been there done that. And the worst part is that in my mind I was envisioning this wonderful bonding family time of children quietly hanging on my every word and soaking it all in. But I love that perspective that all this teaching is not in vain,and like you my parent's faithful teaching has proved invaluable and so we will continue to press on!

  • Josie says:

    I could honestly just cry – tears of relief, tears from laughing, tears from frustrating situations just like you describe! Thank you SO MUCH for this dose of reality, for this dose of grace. From another parent desperately flinging seeds… Thank you.

  • Philip Larson says:

    Hi, Ashley.

    Most of us do not care for the rhetoric of "limited atonement," but rather something like "particular redemption," that God intended to save his own. And as a parent, I have more Bible-based reason to think that God intends to redeem my children than he does the general unbeliever who walks into a church.

  • Lyn says:

    Thanks so much for this encouragement! I agree wholeheartedly with your statement "If I were ultimately responsible for the salvation of my children I would have a complete nervous breakdown" – AMEN to that! Thank goodness we are not the ones in charge, GOD is and He will bring his purposes to fruition, even in the lives of our offspring. Hang in there… the poop thing doesn't last forever.

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