Today, we had the babies' dedication service at my parents' house after Easter dinner. I know people normally do this in a church-like setting and definitely not after the second-most button-popping meal of the year, but since my entire family gets together rarely, this date worked for us, and since my brother, Johnathan, is an ordained minister, we had him do the honors. It's a lot more personal to have all my family around as part of the service, people whom I know will commit themselves to praying for my children and their salvation.
What was amusing to me was when Johnathan said something I already know but hadn't really dwelt upon. At the start of the dedication, he said, "As believers we are called to recognize that children belong first and foremost to God. God in his goodness gives children as gifts to parents. They not only have the awesome responsibility of caring for this gift, but also the wonderful privilege of enjoying the gift. Because children belong to God and are given by grace as gifts to parents, it is only proper and appropriate that children be dedicated back to God. "
In other words, Amelia and Emerson are just "loaners." Thinking of my children that way is both a relief, a source of humor, and also a huge burden. What a relief that even if they do something awful, I can honestly and truthfully say, "Oh well--thank heavens that's not my child!! My child would never hide under the dining room table so he could secretly eat all the candy in his new Easter bunny Pez dispenser! That must be God's child you're talking about--that kid is always coming up with something mischievous. His Father should really do something about that."
It's also a source of humor because I could always use this concept when disciplining my children: "Hey, don't blame me--I didn't make the rules! When God sent you to us, He gave us this huge book of instructions on how to care for you, so if you don't like it, take it up with Him. What? You don't believe me? You want to read the rules yourself? Ok--here's the book: better go to your room and start reading. Call me when you're sure I'm interpreting the rule right." Or maybe "I'm just the babysitter--and I can't let you do ______ because God might decide to take you back and fire me from my job of taking care of you...and in this economy, I really need this job right now."
But apart from all the humor, God gifting me children is also a huge burden...that if I don't get this mothering thing right, I will ruin three souls for all eternity. More than huge. Ginormous. No, I can't think of any word to define how large a weight that is. Terrifying. "Leaves-me-speechless" terrifying. Pray for my children and for me to be a good, Christian mother to them, one who would lead them toward the right path.