Long before becoming a mother, I knew from the scriptures that children were a gift from God. Only since becoming a mother have I realized that they are so much more; they are a means of grace.

The other day Josie (my little bundle of energy who has discovered that I’m somewhat distracted with her twin brothers) was playing in her room. I had warned her repeatedly not to play with her lamp. It had one of those cool, swirly light bulbs in it, and she kept gravitating toward it and messing with it, as kids often do when their fascination has been so thoroughly captured. It could not have been more than five minutes after I left her room that I heard breaking glass. I came back in to see the bulb in a thousand pieces covering the floor and Josie, teary eyed, awaiting my response.

I gave her a quick hug, assuring her mommy would clean it up and then asked her to take a few steps back. I picked up the big pieces, and then cleaned the carpet with the Dustbuster. But I knew that I needed to make sure there were no small shards of glass that were still embedded in the carpet. So I pressed my hands into the carpet. Sure enough, one drove straight into my palm. It was painful, but my pain was quickly replaced with delight when I realized that Josie would not suffer that pain in her little feet while going to get a drink of water in the night.

Instances like this remind me that being a parent is less about me imparting my vast body of knowledge to my offspring and much more about my children being a means of grace. Yes, I am called by God to train up my children in the way they should go, but it doesn’t stop there. God is constantly using Josie, Ben and Griffin to shape me into His image. In parenting, God allows me to learn from Him by giving me the opportunity to emulate Him.

As silly as it seems to compare “God the Father” with “Laura the mother,” parenting is an adventure that God calls us to join in Him. He teaches us more about ourselves as His children and more about Himself as our father. It’s in these frantic mom moments that I catch glimpses of the character of God that I might have missed otherwise. He “blesses” me with a colicky baby to teach me patience. He gives me tiring days of changing diaper after diaper on minimal sleep to remind me that His strength truly is perfect when mine comes to an end.

Sometimes, He allows parents long seasons of thanklessness, maybe even with rebellious prodigals, to remind us how long suffering he is with us each day. He uses children to show us how important gratitude and respect are, in both our homes and in our spiritual lives. He even allows little shards of glass in our hands to remind us of the much greater sacrifice our Savior made for us, tasting death that we would never have to.

Children are a gift from God… and a means of grace. I know this is true because I see God through them everyday. And in the midst of potty training, baby spit up and broken bulbs, God delights to meet us in our mess, literally and figuratively – and we are held in His arms as His children. Thank you Jesus for the gift of my three children and the means of grace they are to me each day.

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