I’m trying to be more intentional about faith with B this year as he’s developing his own childlike understanding from observing people and situations. At our nightly prayers before bed, he started making his own requests (e.g. “pray for dada working, tired,” “Jesus loves ama and kong kong”). So I decided to reinforce the lessons around fruits of the spirit from Sunbeam, our church’s kids programme, with simple activities and practical applications at home.
Here’s what we learnt and applied:
- Joyful parenting doesn’t come naturally. It’s not a product of the flesh but the spirit at work, bearing fruit in us. We need to cultivate thankfulness, remember that our child’s identity is in Christ, and look ahead with hope and faith for the fruit God promises to bring through our efforts.
- A joyful heart is about attitude, a contagious attitude from having a positive outlook in life. We talked about being joyful and strong even when we’re afraid and upset. I encouraged him to use words, laugh or sing instead of crying and screaming… and it’s been working! In fact, he’s been a trooper during his separation at school and this recent bout of coughing; and he’s also cheered my ailing mom who was hospitalised earlier this month with his singing, dancing and funny antics.
- To be joyful is to be thankful. I’m glad that B’s gotten into a habit of saying “thank you” or “谢谢” (if you’re lucky). At one point, he’d even say “thank you” when giving you things 😉 At nights, when we pray together, we also first thank God for each other and the day’s events – no matter how challenging the day has been, e.g. we’ve been sick, tired, angry. I’m still working on teaching him to say family grace before meals to reinforce gratefulness and obedience to God, although this one’s tougher as our family is of mixed beliefs and/or rarely eating together.
Since I’m on a quest to improve both our Chinese lately, I’ll end with these Chinese characters: When you’re happy (开心 kai xin), your heart is open but when you’re sad (伤心 shang xin), your heart is wounded. I’m glad that our son is learning how to turn to God and rejoice in the midst of his terrible two years; and that he is also opening the hearts of those around him.
Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord makes me strong!”
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