Monday, May 5, 2014

Training Up This Mother

Being a Mother

I became a mother over twenty-eight years ago. I dreamed of having my own baby ever since I can remember and those dreams were acted out with my own little doll family in my bedroom, at the grocery store while shopping with my Mom or at a friend's house or in our neighborhood pushing my baby carriage alongside my two best neighbor friends during the carefree days of my childhood. To finally have a baby of my own not only brought feelings of joy and gratitude, but dreams of the future and visualizations of all I wanted to do with my very own little girl. All the things I wanted to teach her and enjoy with her played out like a movie on the big screen in my mind. Scenes of breast feeding, all snuggled up and cozy together while I sang lullabies to her, scenes of her first bath and the scent of freshly bathed baby skin, scenes of her first smile, first laugh, first words and first steps. Scene after scene of my dreams of her future were displayed in living color. Visions of taking her for walks and showing her off to family and friends brought a smile to my heart. Other scenes of her in pretty little dresses and bows wearing black patent leather shoes, hair ribbons and pony tails danced in my imagination and all of the years in between were peppered with Sunday school, birthday parties, sleep overs, reading books together, camping, play dates, holidays, the first day of school, getting her driver's license, her wedding day and even the first grandchild.

And then the fears presented themselves like a dark cloud on a stormy horizon.

As I held my newborn daughter in my arms, counted her little fingers and toes, and studied her beautiful pink skin and pretty little face, I felt a love so deep, so vast and so overpowering, I can't even describe it. There is simply nothing like it. I was suddenly hit with the magnitude of responsibility I now carried for this child I so loved and I knew that life would never be the same. I had another human being to assume full responsibility for and the fear that I could mess up the beauty of this perfect little gift assaulted me in the privacy of my mind. Fear that I wouldn't be a good mother, fear that I would make mistakes, fear of all the things that could happen to her, fear that I couldn't protect her from the plethora of dangerous possibilities that could harm her, fear that I wouldn't prepare her adequately for the many temptations she would face as she grew older, fear that she would ignore my warnings, fear that she would get in with the wrong crowd, or be abducted, or injured or maimed, or that she would be taken from me too soon.......and fear that she would rebel against us as parents and worst of all fear that she would reject God and the grace and unconditional love He offers us all. Fear is a threat to most everyone who has the privilege of wearing the title of parent. Fear can be paralyzing and it can also steal the joy from such a beautiful gift.

Early into this journey of parenting I realized that I didn't have a clue how to get my child safely from the cradle to adulthood. As each new child arrived in our home, I felt the joy and the fear all over again, just as I did when my very first child arrived. As the years flew by it occurred to me, that I haven't really been raising my kids. On the contrary. The truth is that they have unknowingly, been busy raising me! I think in teaching them about life and striving to develop character in them, I was actually the one learning the most. I was and am, learning the important lessons in life. Parenting has required me to hold my kids loosely, thanking God for the honor of being entrusted with their lives. Parenting has taught me that I have no power. I have no control. I can't always protect them or make choices for them and parenting has taught me that there is One who loves them much more than I ever could because He created them. He has a vested interest in them and He has the number of days planned out for each one of them. Parenting has taught me that my own personal fulfillment isn't found in any human relationship or position in life. Fulfillment can only be found in trusting God and parenting is teaching me that He can be trusted completely in the good and the bad and that He works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose just like it says in Romans 8:28. My job is to trust Him, to obey Him and to rest in peace, knowing that He has it all under control.

God has taught me a lot about myself through the gift of parenting. The most important lesson I'm learning is to depend on Him.

"The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?"

"But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children--" Psalm 103:17

Proverbs 3    5,6

One of the most important truths I am learning is that God didn't give me children to fulfill me. Of course they are a blessing and I enjoy them all immensely, but they aren't mine to own. The dreams I have for them are not necessarily in line with the mission they were created for. When God brought them into our home, He chose us as their parents to love them, nurture them, teach them about Him, teach them about life, and to prepare them for the future. God has a plan for each of their lives and that plan may or may not include us as their parents. When they were little I envisioned the future with all of my kids living nearby. I assumed that holidays would be filled with all of our grown kids and grandkids and that we would all get together often. God has changed my outlook on all of that. Of course I would love to have those dreams realized, and I am thankful that right now our kids and grandkids are all nearby, but more than that, I want to see each of my children fulfill the calling God places on their lives. This could mean that some of them move away and that could even be overseas somewhere. A big part of equipping our kids requires wearing out the carpet on our knees in prayer and asking God to keep us alert to areas of character development that need to be focused on. Another important aspect to our job is teaching them good work ethics, morals and values and teaching them that the Bible can be depended on for wisdom, insight and guidance. Being available to listen to them and engage in real conversations is another important part of equipping our kids for the future.

Do I still have fears? Yes, of course I do. Sirens make my heart stop because I know the reality of those sirens heading to our house on too many occasions and every time I hear them I am tempted to sink into that cold, familiar feeling of dread and fear, but I also know that that's the most important time to pray for whomever the sirens are heading to help and to thank God for the help those sirens represent. We nearly lost our youngest son when he was five and a half months old. He seized up and stopped breathing. My husband had to revive him and he was whisked away to the hospital by ambulance and then flown to Seattle via Life flight where he stayed for a week being treated for Rickets.  Our grandson nearly died at birth. He too was flown to Children's and was there for two weeks before he was stabilized and able to go home.  Our oldest son fell out of a tree and broke his arm. It was an open fracture and he had to be transported by ambulance to the hospital where he had surgery and spent the night. Several of our kids have cracked their heads open, taken bicycle spills that required stitches and some of them have required surgery. God has given us the grace to handle each trial along the way and the strength He has supplied during the hardest days of parenting has been enough.

Each day with our kids is a gift. I don't always remember that because the demands, arguments, challenging attitudes and responsibilities of a busy household seem overwhelming at times and it's easy to get caught up in all of it and forget to embrace the moments. Each day is an opportunity to make an impact on our kids in a positive or negative way and each day I do plenty of both. I find myself apologizing often for things I say or do that aren't kind or patient and thankfully my kids are learning to be humble and admit and own their wrongdoings a little more often and a little more quickly as they mature. I'm thankful there is grace....that God helps us to give it and receive it. I'm thankful there is One to trust for protection over them and that although I would like to hold them all close to me forever, God can be trusted for their lives because He knows exactly how many days each one of us is given on this earth and I know that whatever the future holds, good or bad, He will give us the grace to walk through it.

"Therefore don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. " Matthew 6:34

These are the moments I love. It may look a little scary to see a little guy using a saw, but trust me it is perfectly safe and if you could see his eyes light up because he is dong a "man's" work, and the confidence that is being built in him because he is learning that he is capable of a big job, you would understand that sometimes you have to let kids take supervised risks. This is what develops them and prepares them for the real world.




"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

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"The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

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We had a little guy here last week for a  couple of days. The kids loved having Isaac here and they were all protective over him, carefully watching out for his safety and they had a great time teaching him things to play basketball!

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Laura Ingals W. parenting

The older I get, the more I realize how short life really is and how blessed I am to have love in our home and children's voices and activities keeping things loud and crazy. The further down the road I travel on this parenting journey, the more I realize that I must seize the moment and spend it carefully and intentionally with our children. I must listen when I'm tired, hug when I'm in a hurry, slow down and just be with them and let some of the other things go and smile even when my feelings dictate otherwise. I really only have today....this moment...after that, there is no guarantee.

I intend to embrace it and I'm praying I will remember to do that even when I don't feel like it.

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