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Hispanic family

I didn't grow up in a Christian home and knew nothing about parenting. My husband, Jerome, also didn't grow up in a Christian home although his grandmother was a devout, godly woman. We became parents in our 30s and although we loved kids, we were clueless about parenting.

Today, we have three kids: 12-year-old D'Andra, 16-year-old Alex and 19-year-old Chris. They aren't perfect or super-spiritual, but the bottom line is that they love God. They are regular church attenders and Alex and Chris both help lead worship.

How we managed to raise kids that look forward to going to church is beyond me. But here are 5 things that we did from the time they were babies to foster a love for God and His people.

#1 Love God yourself.

The man answered, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27 (NLT)

Please know that we are not super-spiritual parents. We lose our temper, we make mistakes and have failed. But through the weak moments that our kids have witnessed, we always go back to the foundation of the Bible and prayer. We've been examples of repentance and humility when we lost our tempers. We've been the first to ask for forgiveness and the first to lay our lives down for them.

Our kids know that we love God. We love what He stands for and His word. We read our Bibles and we pray regularly. We have tried to model for our children how to love Him by loving people.

#2 Make your children a priority.

"Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him." Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

I've seen parents put the ministry or church activities in front of raising their kids. The pastor or children's ministry leaders are not responsible for imparting Biblical principles and attitudes into their lives. God gave you the responsibility for teaching them about Him.

When D'Andra who has special needs was born, I adjusted my volunteer activities because she needed more attention than my sons. I stepped out of the prayer ministry and several other volunteer activities to be more available for my daughter. Today she asks me every morning if there's church tonight. She can't wait to go to church.

Alex was a strong-willed toddler. I once showed up at church and volunteered to give him to the ministry like Hannah gave Samuel up to serve the Lord. I'll never forget Pastor Diana Trout telling me that God gave Alex to me to raise. "If you can work with his strong will now, he will be a great servant for God," she said. Alex leads worship for the youth group and I've seen him exhort his peers to love God. Alex's strong will under the hand of God is forming Alex into a voice for God.

Making Chris, Alex and D'Andra a priority meant I couldn't do some things that I wanted to do. I couldn't run for office, write a screenplay or work in a demanding time-consuming executive job. I laid down my life and my dreams for them.

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