Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

My youngest child, our son, turned 4 years old recently. I’m amazed at how much he mimics those around him. At this stage of development, he is easily influenced. He watches me, his mother, his sisters, his preschool teacher, and his peers very closely. He repeats what he sees in movies and on TV shows—even hilariously shouting at the top of his lungs, “I’m living alone! I’m living alone!” at a family gathering after watching Home Alone over the holidays.

It has me thinking. These next few years could be very important to shaping the kind of person he will become. Right now, he’s an innocent 4-year-old. He’s smart, loving, and very friendly. He’s determined and wants to help on all kinds of projects. Last weekend he picked up a large shovel and started scooping debris into a wheelbarrow as we tore down an old structure at a family member’s residence. “I can do it all by myself,” he shouted as I tried to help him.

RELATED: I Am Helping Shape My Son Into the Man He’ll Become

As a father, I want to be proactive and intentional in shaping my son into a respectful person and faithful follower of Christ. So I listed the top five most important things I hope my son will learn as he grows up.

Embrace the grind and lead the way.

I pray my son knows the value of a hard day’s work and taking on the responsibility of leadership. Be someone whom others turn to for answers. Be the first to show up and the last to leave when needed. He should know that nothing will just be handed to him. I tell this to his older sisters, too: I’ll always be there to help them and provide them with what they need. Yet, if I feel they can do something on their own without my help, then I challenge them to do it. With me acting as a safety net, it’s my hope that he builds confidence to step out and try new things. Especially hard things. In everything he does, he should try his best and see it through to the very end.

See the big picture. Don’t worry about the small stuff.

Even the Bible indicates that we can’t add a single moment to our lives by worrying. Especially in an age of social media, I witness people losing their minds over small things. Just like a couple of toddlers fighting over a toy, people find new things every day about which to worry and get upset. I pray my son can stay focused on accomplishing his goals and maintaining peace even in contentious moments. May he not get distracted by nay-sayers and haters of all kinds. Those individuals and distractions are only bumps in the road, and not mountains to block your way.

Your time and energy are valuable. Ask yourself, “Is this a big issue or a small issue?” Then respond appropriately. Make sure your strength of character is never questioned based on your actions.

Understand the impact you can have on others.

This is a big one. If my son learns only one thing from me over my lifetime, I hope it’s this. No matter what, treat others with respect. Show love, kindness, and grace in all situations. Even when someone yells at you, even if they hurt you, even if they seemingly don’t deserve it, respond (don’t react) in a way that reflects God’s love. This doesn’t mean you should back down when provoked, but handle tough people and situations diplomatically.

RELATED: What Do You Want the Snapshots of Your Life to Say About You?

When it comes to your personal friends and family, lift them up. Show them and tell them how much you care. Be present. Show up to celebrations joyfully. Be supportive when they’re feeling down. Get involved in things they enjoy. There are few things better than seeing faces light up when you enter the room. Be the reason people smile.

When you’re older and go on your first date, and every subsequent date after that, treat that person with a high level of respect. Make them feel special, cared for, and safe at all times. Also know that you are worthy of the same in return.

Overall, invest in relationships. Money and things will come and go, but people and relationships should be treasured above all that.

Let faith guide your decisions.

My son has already started to display an understanding of faith and prayer. It’s a good start, but as he matures, I will continue to instill in him the importance of having a strong relationship with Christ. For we can plan and plan all we want, but God will decide our steps. I hope my son understands the importance of giving up control and not forcing his own plans into action. There are times we must step back, intentionally pray, and invite God to take the wheel. The outcome may surprise you in the best way possible!

Be the kind of friend who offers a favor and expects nothing in return.

One thing about being a dad is that you can continually learn from other dads and people around you. For me, this lesson is a takeaway from a good friend of mine. He’s a guy who will do absolutely anything for you and ask for nothing. He’s been a great help to me over the years, whether offering his truck to haul something, meeting up for a beer when I needed a break, and generally lending a helping hand at a moment’s notice. I’ve always admired that quality in my friend and I’ve since tried to model that for my kids. I hope my son sees this and grows into someone who actively seeks to help and serve others, with no regard for what he gets out of it.

This isn’t all that I’ll teach my son. There’s nothing written here about how to change a tire, how to catch and clean a fish, or how to launch a tin can 30 feet into the air with a single firecracker.

RELATED: Someday My Son Won’t Need Me Anymore, But I’ll Always Be There If He Does

However, these core lessons will provide a foundation for growing into a strong young man with a kind heart. Even when he faces hard times and tough choices, maybe these values will provide some direction and instruction along the winding road of life. Perhaps someday he’ll have a son of his own whom he can influence in a similar, positive manner.

The gifts we give to our children now can be handed down for generations, impacting the lives of countless others along the way. As a father, I think about that a lot. That’s an important and powerful responsibility.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Kyle Means

Kyle Means is the Director of Marketing for the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He enjoyed a fulfilling career in Sports & Entertainment prior to his work in higher education. Past stops include HuskerVision, Houston Rockets/Toyota Center, and the Tri-City Storm/Viaero Event Center. Kyle left the sports biz in 2014 to pursue a career more focused on marketing where he can use a combination of strategic and creative skills. Plus, he now has a few more nights and weekends to spend with his awesome family including his wife (HerViewFromHome founder) Leslie Means, their two daughters Ella and Grace and son, Keithan. Kyle still enjoys watching and playing a variety of sports. The competitive, yet unifying, nature of sports is a strangely beautiful concept that he loves. When he’s not enhancing the brand at UNK, spending time with family or watching/playing sports, Kyle can usually be found volunteering at First Lutheran Church where likes to display a strong faith and give back to the community.

The Day My Mother Died I Thought My Faith Did Too

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Holding older woman's hand

She left this world with an endless faith while mine became broken and shattered. She taught me to believe in God’s love and his faithfulness. But in losing her, I couldn’t feel it so I believed it to be nonexistent. I felt alone in ways like I’d never known before. I felt helpless and hopeless. I felt like He had abandoned my mother and betrayed me by taking her too soon. He didn’t feel near the brokenhearted. He felt invisible and unreal. The day my mother died I felt alone and faithless while still clinging to her belief of heaven....

Keep Reading

Jesus Meets Me in the Pew

In: Faith
Woman sitting in church pew

I entered the church sanctuary a woman with a hurting and heavy heart. Too many worries on my mind, some unkind words spoken at home, and not enough love wrapped around my shoulders were getting the best of me. What I longed to find was Jesus in a rocking chair, extending His arms to me, welcoming me into his lap, and inviting me to exhaust myself into Him. I sought out an empty pew where I could hide in anonymity, where I could read my bulletin if I didn’t feel like listening to the announcements, sing if I felt up...

Keep Reading

Can I Still Trust Jesus after Losing My Child?

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Sad woman with hands on face

Everyone knows there is a time to be born and a time to die. We expect both of those unavoidable events in our lives, but we don’t expect them to come just 1342 days apart. For my baby daughter, cancer decided that the number of her days would be so many fewer than the hopeful expectation my heart held as her mama. I had dreams that began the moment the two pink lines faintly appeared on the early morning pregnancy test. I had hopes that grew with every sneak peek provided during my many routine ultrasounds. I had formed a...

Keep Reading

5 Kids in the Bible Who Will Inspire Yours

In: Faith, Kids
Little girl reading from Bible

Gathering my kids for morning Bible study has become our family’s cornerstone, a time not just for spiritual growth but for real, hearty conversations about life, courage, and making a difference. It’s not perfect, but it’s ours. My oldest, who’s 11, is at that age where he’s just beginning to understand the weight of his actions and decisions. He’s eager, yet unsure, about his ability to influence his world. It’s a big deal for him, and frankly, for me too. I want him to know, deeply know, that his choices matter, that he can be a force for good, just...

Keep Reading

Mad Martha, Mary, Mom, and Me

In: Faith, Living
Woman wrapped in a blanket standing by water

As a brand-new, born-again, un-churched Christian fresh in my new faith with zero knowledge of the Bible, I am steaming, hissing mad when I first read these words from Luke 10:38-42: “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Pray away My Anxiety But I Can Trust God to Hold Me through It

In: Faith, Living
Woman with flowers in field

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t afraid. I was scared of people, of speaking, and even of being looked at. As I got older, I worried about everything. I was aware of the physical impact that stress and worry have on our bodies and our mental health, but I couldn’t break the cycle. I declined invitations and stuck with what I knew. Then we had a child who knew no fear. The person I needed to protect and nurture was vulnerable. There was danger in everything. It got worse. He grew older and more independent. He became a...

Keep Reading

Your Kids Don’t Need More Things, They Need More You

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young girl smiling together at home

He reached for my hand and then looked up. His sweet smile and lingering gaze flooded my weary heart with much-needed peace. “Thank you for taking me to the library, Mommy! It’s like we’re on a date! I like it when it’s just the two of us.” We entered the library, hand in hand, and headed toward the LEGO table. As I began gathering books nearby, I was surprised to feel my son’s arms around me. He gave me a quick squeeze and a kiss with an “I love you, Mommy” before returning to his LEGO—three separate times. My typically...

Keep Reading

Mom, Will You Pray With Me?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Little girl praying, profile shot

“Will you pray with me?” This is a question I hear daily from my 9-year-old. Her worried heart at times grips her, making it difficult for her to fall asleep or nervous to try something new. Her first instinct is to pray with Mom. Perhaps this is because of how many times her Dad and I have told her that God is with her, that she is never alone, and that she can always come to Him in prayer and He will answer. Perhaps it is because she has seen her Dad and I lean on the Lord in times...

Keep Reading

My Aunt Is the Woman I Want to Become

In: Faith, Living
Woman with older woman smiling

It’s something she may not hear enough, but my aunt is truly amazing. Anyone who knows her recognizes her as one-of-a-kind in the best way possible. It’s not just her playful jokes that bring a smile to my face, her soul is genuinely the sweetest I know. I hope she knows that I see her, appreciate her, and acknowledge all the effort she puts in every day, wholeheartedly giving of herself to everyone around her. When I look back on my childhood, I see my aunt as a really important part of it. We have shared so much time together,...

Keep Reading

A Big Family Can Mean Big Feelings

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Family with many kids holding hands on beach

I’m a mother of six. Some are biological, and some are adopted. I homeschool most of them. I’m a “trauma momma” with my own mental health struggles. My husband and I together are raising children who have their own mental illnesses and special needs. Not all of them, but many of them. I battle thoughts of anxiety and OCD daily. I exercise, eat decently, take meds and supplements, yet I still have to go to battle. The new year has started slow and steady. Our younger kids who are going to public school are doing great in their classes and...

Keep Reading