Deb and I walked into Shoshanna’s house with a store-bought cake and ice cream, along with those crazy candles that keep sparking and reigniting after you blow them out. Shoshanna had been sick with an alien virus and was not able to prepare one of her healthy cakes and all the fanfare due a young girl on her seventh birthday. Penelope was understanding and content to postpone her celebration until a more convenient day, but here we were at about five in the evening to salvage the moment. As we were preparing the table, Gabe, my oldest son, and part of his family walked in. There was lots of noise and laughing, spoon clanging, bowl scraping, and picture taking. As we sat around talking, Jeremiah, Penelope’s twelve-year-old brother, pensively spoke up and said, “Isn’t it great… this… all the family?” I realized he had been quiet, sitting on the sidelines, watching, listening, appreciating the moment. As I turned to observe his mature expression and his look of utter contentment, I was amazed. I know that at twelve years of age I would not have been discerning enough to recognize with gratitude the quality of my family life. Yes, it was indeed a great moment; the greatest thing was Jeremiah’s heart of thanksgiving and his feeling of being an essential part of something beautiful.

“Isn’t it great… this…
all the family?”

I realized again that when children are reared in an atmosphere of blessedness, you will never have to worry that they might drift from their moorings. They are hooked on love and mutual respect. They are addicted to peace and thanksgiving. It is not possible that the world should compete with what we share as a family, and that includes all of the children and twenty-five grandchildren. Our circle also includes many friends and extended family members radiating out to a host of blessed Christians all around the world. The unregenerate would spend their last dime on a vacation that provided just one day of the beauty we experience 365 days of the year—366 in leap years.

It comes from grace, a gift from God, received moment by moment, working joy and thanksgiving in our hearts. Where Jesus abides there is no bitterness, anger, manipulation, judgment, criticism, blaming, jealousy, competition, self-pity, and a thousand other nasty words; your children will be rooted in goodness and will bear the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22).
Occasional rebuke and discipline are necessary for small children, but they are only effective when the children are constantly bathed in heavenly sunlight. Give attention to loving God with all your heart, and your child training will be as easy as raindrops hitting the ground.