We value and honor the voices of parents who are ahead of us on the parenting journey. They have a unique Vantage Point. We asked them, “Now that your children are adults, looking back to the season most of our parents are in, what would you say to us? What do you wish someone would have said to you? What do we need to know that might save us a lot of worry or time?” In this series of posts we will hear from experienced parents. Here is what Karen Schmidgall had to say.“I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father.” 2 John 4
Give Faith Building Opportunities
When I was 10 yrs old, my mother gave me a monumental responsibility. It was in regards to a medical decision. She told me I had two options. She would pray with me - but it was to be my decision - that I should hear God's direction, not her, because it was my body, my future. She would stand with me in either decision.
What a heavy load to put on a child! And I cannot thank her enough! She opened a new door for me: the opportunity and responsibility of "diligently living out the Truth.”
In my high school years, she encouraged me to fast with her - for what, I don't remember. But fasting with her was invaluable. We drank our glasses of water together. We read the Bible together (separately, but at the same time in the same room). We silently knelt together in the living room at the couch to pray. She began to teach me the discipline of fasting and prayer.
And many times, she would share with me what she would get from God's Word after her devotions.
Years later, passing on the reality of Truth in my life to my children became a very intentional part of my parenting. I'm not sure if my sharing what God spoke to me always came across as "sharing" (might have sometimes sounded a bit more like "preaching"), but my intention was to model how alive God's Word is, how I needed to hear it for myself, and how I needed to continue to grow.
Find Learning Opportunities
We were not flush with money, but also not poor when my children were growing up. So sometimes I would "create" opportunities for them to learn that God provides. When my oldest son wanted a Big Wheel (do they still sell those?), I told him he could have one if he would pray for God to provide it. I prayed with him about it. One day as we were at a garage sale, he pointed to a Big Wheel off to the side, not among the sale items. I asked the lady if it was for sale. She said no, it wasn't in the sale - paused - then told us if we wanted it, we could just have it. I don't know if my son even remembers that - but it started a building block for him to start knowing for himself that God provides.
We made a pledge to give to missions every year, above our tithe. Early on, we would encouraged our children to do the same. They came up with various ways of paying their pledges. One wouldn't eat his candy but would save it and sell it to kids in the lunchroom so he could pay his pledge. Another didn't spend her birthday money but gave it for her pledge. Another would ask to do extra chores for us. Matthew 6:21 says, "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also." That was a tangible start to our kids developing a deep love for missions.
It was our goal to save money to take each of our four children, separately, on a mission's trip around age 13-14 so their heart could be enlarged for a love for the world and missions. To us, that was more vital than having a college fund waiting for them. To this day, each one has a huge heart for missions.
I realize methods change and look different from generation to generation but helping our children to "diligently live out the Truth" - ahhh! What an opportunity! What a responsibility!
Karen Schmidgall is mother to four grown children, four more by marriage, and grandmother to eleven (with one the way!). Her furry companion Benton is usually found by her side. She has attended National Community Church since she moved to the area in 2005. She attends the Gainesville Campus.