An unexpected gift at 39
By Catharine Phillips
I did not fully appreciate how a baby changes a mother’s
life until I had one. In the four months since the birth of my first child,
life has changed far beyond the fact that on Friday I was in rush-hour traffic
headed to work and on Monday I was a stay-at-home mom. Recently, I’ve found
myself re-evaluating my life and priorities.
My son was a delightful surprise and nothing short of a
miracle. After suffering the heartbreak of miscarriage, the disappointments of
infertility and the out-of-reach costs of adoption, my husband and I concluded
parenthood simply wasn’t going to happen.
When we discovered I was pregnant — just before my
39th birthday — the scars of past experience kept my enthusiasm at bay.
But fear gave way to unbridled joy as my pregnancy progressed trouble-free and
I began to consider how this precious gift from God would affect our lives
beyond my staying home.
I realized I was not only responsible for my child’s
physical well-being, but for his spiritual growth too. Proverbs 22:6 says,
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn
from it” (NIV). I’ve heard it preached this goes beyond the admonishment to
parent children well; if parents teach children to truly discover who they are
in Christ, there is great likelihood they will remain on that path throughout
In other words, it’s far more important I raise my child to
seek who God created him to be in Christ than to raise him to be who I want him
to be in the world.
When I was 16 the church I’d attended split in a nasty
fight. That left me disillusioned. I spent years waffling somewhere between
atheism and apathy. Since then I’ve sought to reclaim my faith in starts and
stops — periods of intense commitment punctuated by extended spiritual
dry spells. I understand now that some of my faith struggles had more to do
with being lazy than any real theological issue.
True faith is born as much of a determination to seek as it
is an inspiration to find. Without one, there cannot be the other. If I’m not
putting forth effort to seek Christ and implement His will for my life, how can
I expect my child to do so?
As a parent I’ve committed to do four things:
Parents should be prayer warriors for their children, asking
for good judgment and insight and praying that their children will be full of
wisdom and integrity.
Devotional time not only gets me into God’s Word on a daily
basis, it puts me in a better mind-set to handle the day’s challenges.
3. Attend church
In church God’s Word is preached and the support of fellow
Christians can be found. We need to be there.
4. Be a transparent example
If parents are not models of what they believe in their
homes, how they live elsewhere is irrelevant. I’m not talking about the rules
and regulations that some consider the definition of Christian behavior. I’m
talking about living faith day to day — loving Christ and living in such
a way that His grace shines through failures and triumphs.
I don’t expect to be a perfect parent, but I want to be a
godly one. I know even godly parenting holds no guarantees, but if through my
example my son sees a life lived for the glory of God then I will consider my
job as a mom well done.
CATHARINE PHILLIPS lives in Avondale, Ariz.
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