Watching them grow…watching them go…

I’ve read two articles this week, and although I am somewhere between the struggles of learning how to be a parent for the first time and sending my grown sons off to serve the world, these articles have served as a reminder of how much I’ve grown, and how much more I will grow!

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord.  For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.  (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

An article by Simcha Fisher, To the Mother of Only One Child, justifies the struggles and rewards of parenting, whether you have one child or one dozen children. She writes about how the struggles and suffering we mothers do happen to us, “…so that [we] can become strong enough to be [women] who will be left.”  These children are not mine.  They belong to God, who has entrusted them to me.  I must be a stronger, better, more trusting servant!  To be a parent is a sacred responsibility.  It is a ministry.

Children are a gift from God; they are a sweet reward.  (Psalm 127:3)

A blog post by Ann Voskamp, What a Parent Wants to Say Before a Child Leaves(and the rest can also be found here), spoke to my heart again.  My sons are still babies at the ages of 5, 3, and 1. I’ve felt the joy of watching those babies take their first steps…only to watch as they walk farther and farther…looking back less and less often.

And the child grew…

I know that the joy I feel from hearing them hiding God’s word in their sweet little hearts…watching those little hearts grow and swell as they start to understand…making my heart do the same!

…and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2:40)

That joy that fills me will eventually be the same joy that puts a lump in my throat and causes tears to be overflowing my eyes when those walking feet take that big heart farther away from me – but closer to God. And thank goodness for that, for it will be so much better for them to be closer to Him.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proberbs 29:17)

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing it its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.  (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed. Deuteronomy 28:6

 

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This Labor is Not in Vain

As a parent, I am a teacher.  Not because I am a homeschooling parent, but because I am a parent.  Parents are children’s’ first teachers, and that ministry is such an honor.  An honor, but definitely not easy!  As I watch these boys grow up, I find myself always hoping they will turn out “better” than me.  I don’t want them to make the same mistakes that I’ve made.  But how does that happen?  “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  (Luke 6:40)  Be like his teacher?  Be like me?  I think to myself (and to the blogging world), “That’s what I don’t want!”

On the days when my patience is being tested, and my ability to balance responsibilities of housekeeping and teaching, or of being a compassionate friend or a creative parent, or commitments outside the home and my duties as a wife seems to be off-balance, I try to remember that if I want my children to be better than me, then I must be better.  I must do my best to present myself to God as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15).  I must “show [myself] in all respects to be a model of good works, and in [my] teaching show integrity, dignity and sound speech…” (Titus 2:7-8)

Fall and stumble, I do.  This is hard.  Without question, parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  When I feel like the kids are being rowdy or picking on one another, I have observed that my heart has not been in parent mode and that I am not fully present with them – I’m paying bills, or scheduling appointments, or creating lessons, or working with one child and not the others.  Being fully present with them sometimes takes a lot of effort and planning.  I will work to remember that when they aren’t behaving the way I want them to behave, then I need to take a step back and determine whether or not my behaviors are appropriate.

There are so many beautiful moments – moments when I want to be able to record them and play them over and over and over and never forget how proud I am of these boys that have been lent to me.  These are the moments I want to focus on.  Must focus on.  There are times when I replay those frustrating moments – telling my husband or talking to friends.  That’s not right.  Silly as it might be, my childhood days of singing songs by Jewel still impact me as an adult:

I have this theory that if we’re told we’re bad
Then that’s the only idea we’ll ever have
But maybe if we are surrounded in beauty
Someday we will become what we see
‘Cause anyone can start a conflict
It’s harder yet to disregard it
I’d rather see the world from another angle
We are everyday angels
Be careful with me ’cause I’d like to stay that way

Don’t complain about the hard days.  They’re going to be hard.  Be what I want the children to become.  It’s hard to disregard conflict, but the joy of seeing the world from another angle is more than worth the effort.  Surround myself in beauty, and give my children the opportunity as well.

“…Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord the labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed. Deuteronomy 28:6