Having children is a different sort of wonderful.

Bad days that used to stretch on into tomorrows are now halted by the sweet smiles of my babies, and the slightest tugs of tiny hands on my skirt.

Where having children makes some things easier, some things more enjoyable even, being a parent to small children can make many things more difficult. A small task like matching socks, or fixing a simple sandwich isn’t easy with a baby in your arms or toddler on your hip. On September 5, 2009 I became a mother.

I knew it would change my life, but I didn’t think it would change how I lived.

My kids are an extension of myself. They look like me. As soon as each one of them came out, still purple and wrinkly from months in the womb, my husband and I looked them over. His forehead, my chin, red hair that belongs to I-don’t-know-who; they each have pieces of us, but are their own.

How I Lived

When I was a kid I didn’t give a second thought to what I watched, who I spent time with, what music I listened to, or anything about what I ate or did. When I was a teenager I didn’t care if my clothes or my booming car stereo offended the person next to me in the street, or the elderly woman walking across the church parking lot. As an adult I didn’t give it much thought when I turned on the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy or CSI, nor did I care who was around when I watched it. During college I took up smoking, not worrying about the lungs of the person next to me on the sidewalk or the bench–not concerned with my own lungs, my voice, or my wallet.

Things Change

Like many other humans when expecting babies, I expected my life would never be the same. I soon found out, though, that my living would never be the same. When my son was just three days old I was hyper aware of him with me–in the car, in the bed, in the house. I was hyper aware of what I said to him or around him, even conscious of my tone of voice, and of those around me–who I allowed the privilege of being around this precious baby human.

Other things changed. Where I worked, how long I worked, even what car I drove to work seemed to matter. It began to matter where I went to church and how often, even how early because I didn’t want to miss children’s Sabbath School. After my pregnancy I refused to take up smoking again, and couldn’t seem to enjoy alcoholic drinks anymore. Even the television shows I enjoyed changed. It started when I couldn’t watch a show in front of my son, and then the language, violence, or sex in episode after episode began to make me weary–even when it was only me and the t.v. and baby was asleep in the crib. After 21 years of life, it took me having a baby to finally care about another person’s salvation.

What, then?

If making a sandwich is hard with a baby, imagine listening to a sermon–or getting your child to listen to one. It seems like the hardest task I have on a daily basis is teaching these kids about Jesus. So how do we do it? How do we teach our kids the sanctity of Sabbath when they can’t read a calendar? How do I get my 3 year old to appreciate my turning off Batman when he starts punching his brother and turning on Adventures in Odyssey? To him they’re both cartoons, so they’re both “good”.

How do I get my kids to love Jesus?

The answer is so obvious that it seems too easy. I must introduce my kids to this Jesus, and then show them how I love Him.

Sure, there are ways you can make Sabbath special, and ways to quiet your children during worship service, but that is no substitute for our own love for Jesus. Our kids are impressionable, they are an extension of ourselves. They love me because I love them, and they’ll love Jesus when they see Him loving through me. So when I wake up each morning I must not only ask God to change my life. I must ask His help to change the way I’m living, because the way I’m living is extending to them, my kids.