Saved Is Better Than Good


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One afternoon last week I was upstairs doing something or other…

Sorry, can we talk about 2 story houses for a minute? I get that kids think they’re awesome and there is some advantage to having your living space completely separated from your company space but OH MY GOSH there are times when I don’t know what we were thinking. And why is the laundry room downstairs? WHY? Josh got me a Fitbit for my birthday (which I love, btw) and I’m always working like crazy to get all my steps in but have climbed like 3x the normal amount of stairs. It’s ridiculous.

Anyhow, I was upstairs, completely away from my children and their downstairs shenanigans. They were carrying on loudly, as they do, when I heard some female shrieking (common occurrence in our home) and then stomp stomp stomp all the way up those 15 steps.


Life and death situation here, people.

So without much thought I replied “Charlie can be whatever she wants, Reagan. Just go play.” Which sounds like a calm and patient response when I write it down but I’m pretty sure it came out in an exasperated exhale that sounded anything but calm and patient.

I didn’t really hear anything else and thought, Huh. That worked surprisingly well. A few minutes later I was downstairs doing something or other in the kitchen (You like how I’m always doing “something or other”? It’s funny how the laundry and cooking and cleaning and sorting and helping with homework, etc. all kind of melds together in your memory and just becomes “I was doing something or other”). So I was doing something or other in the kitchen when Reagan zoomed in and out of the kitchen like the Flash and left a piece of paper fluttering on the counter. Which I promptly ignored because of the nameless thing I was doing. Then I heard “Mom! Did you read what I wrote??” from the direction of Josh’s office.

So I paused and picked up the paper and I honestly can’t remember the exact words and of course I think I threw it away already but it said something along the lines of

Dear Mommy,

I feel like the worst person in the world. Please come into the office and talk to me.

Love, Reagan

Oh dear.

So I said a quick prayer for help because I have no idea what to do with all the emotions and feelings in this house and I went in and sat next to her. And we began to talk.

As a mom, I feel like I have a million conversations with my kids a day and sometimes I get to the end of the day and I can’t remember a single word and it mostly feels exhausting. But sometimes God really punches me in the gut with a conversation with one of my kids and this was one of those times.

As it turns out, Reagan had come back down and implied to Charlie that I had actually agreed that she could not be a princess in that game. Charlie, of course, paid this no heed and did her own thing. But Reagan was completely wracked with guilt over her lie. Her lie that I didn’t know about, and never would have known about. I was tempted to talk about lying, why we shouldn’t, why it’s dangerous, why it’s sinful. But then it hit me that my kid was feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit. My little 7 year old knew it was a sin, not because I came in and told her not to do it. She knew it was wrong because her conscience was pricked and she didn’t like the way it felt.

About six months ago, Reagan prayed to invite Jesus Christ to be the Lord of her life. Now Josh and I are fully aware that kids who grow up in the church are pretty likely to want to pray the sinner’s prayer, to know how to speak the lingo, and to want to please their parents by doing these things. After all, we grew up in that exact environment. We’re also aware that  as pastor’s kids, ours are even more susceptible to these things. But we’ve also been praying for our kids’ salvation from before birth/adoption, and everything we’ve seen points to this being a genuine conversion for our Reagan.

As I talked to Reagan that day, I explained that what she was feeling was the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I told her that even though we love Jesus, we still sin sometimes, but because we have Jesus, we are safe to go to God and confess our sins to Him. We no longer fear Him being angry. Instead, we experience His forgiveness in an ongoing way as He makes us more like Him. I told her she could pray and ask God right then to forgive her for lying. To my surprise and delight, she told me she had already been praying.

Here’s why this conversation got me (aside from

all of the obvious, wonderful things about it). It’s because I have to fight every day to believe this very important truth: My kids don’t need to be good, they need a Savior.

But oh how I want them to be good.

It’s so easy to get off track in this. In the day to day, it would just make MY life so much easier if my kids could be good. If they could stop fighting with each other, sit still when they’re told, stop running around like crazy animals at church, stop talking back, stop disobeying, stop blame-shifting, stop hitting, just STOP with all the bad behavior already.

I think this goes without saying but obviously I think we need to teach our kids how to behave. Duh. That’s just part of parenting. Kids can’t just think they run the show. They have to submit to authority. They have to learn how to do or not do all of the aforementioned things. However, the WHY of all of this is what I’m talking about. And like I said, sometimes I want them to be good just to make my day better. Because I’m selfish.

But the real why that I need to teach them is this: Because there is a great savior who already got punished for all of your sin, you can obey. But only if you let Him be in charge. The conversation can’t end with “You need to obey” or “You need to make a better choice.” Because even little children can figure out how to do all the right things for all the wrong reasons and look really good doing it. We adults are pretty good at that as well.

As I talked to Reagan, I was reminded of the goal. The goal is not children who behave well. The goal is children who know where to go when they sin. And of course, this is the goal for us parents as well. When we teach our kids these things we are teaching them to ourselves again and again. Finding my little one praying, asking God to help her, on her own is better than a thousand good deeds that came from a sinful heart.

Reagan Raising Hand

(Photo courtesy of 4Oaks Kids, who take the job of teaching kids to love Jesus very seriously, and I cannot thank them enough for all they do)


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